Friday, May 16, 2014

After the Rain ep07 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Seven

Houses of the Blooded

It is near the end of Spring.
Jaric writes to Jalani.  Her latest letter to him spoke of having caught a spy, as well as a reassurance that she would handle it herself.  He writes back to remind her that the dam be build as "securely as possible" and hides in the context to have the Province itself in lockdown.

Galeo writes to Hero.  She cannot deny the undertone that there was something implied to be going on which he did not directly say.  She tells him she is looking forward to developments in their projects, and hints at which ones to prioritize in the coming season.

Seran writes to Lukas.  She updates him on the expedition and she casually mentions having been injured in the events.  She suggests the need for Personal Guards to be hired, and trained for future expeditions.  She adds she can't wait to see him at the end of the season but makes no mention of Haroun nor his cowardice.

Nia writes on how excited things are for her regarding her family, nostalgic of the orks in the sky, and talks about the troublemakers, if any, to be thrown into the dungeon, once they have been deemed useless.  Nothing to worry about.    

With all the letters written, Haroun gathers them into a basket, straps it to a crewman, who then bids farewell and separates from the airship to deliver them to each Kingdom.  


Haroun asks Seran to chart a course.  Judging my the shape of the landmass, she determines it would be best to head North and marks down the route to best take.  "You should be able to cover about 200 miles per day from noon to noon.  So we should reach this point by two weeks," Seran offers.  Haroun notes she has marked the furthest outpost her mother had reached and shares how she made it all the way there without any Airship.  She braved the seas of Shanri on a vessel she built herself.  Haroun suggests they visit the place where Seran was born and digs through his scrolls, maps, and tomes for the one with the coordinates where she was born.  He admits he remembers reading the story of Seran's birth in the Wilderness.   He shows them the page where the coordinates were marked down.  Seran mumbles she's heard of it but has not revisited the place.

"Is this her book?" Seran is startled, given the handwritten coordinates on the page.
"It is the book she had written," Haroun responds.
"Returning to the place of conception sounds very romantic," Jaric smirks.
"Conception or birth?" Galeo questions him.
"Oh, birth.  Sorry," Jaric smiles, "I get them all mixed up."
"I am not sure if it will be very exciting to go there," Seran asserts, "as she was between expeditions when she gave birth."
As Haroun reads out the page narrating her birth, the others listen intently given most have never read it before.  "The place is a cluster of tiny islands that seemed to grow in size depending on the tides.  It is also a very well known convergence point for the flying orks that swarm and spawn in the area during the Spring."

"Oh yes!" Seran snickers, "I was born among Orks!"
"I forgot that detail.." Haroun goes pale.
"Let's go there!" Seran charts the map to a new course.  Nia agrees wholeheartedly to the plan.  Galeo stares at the two and observes how they enjoy Haroun's discomfort.
"This... should be fun," Haroun finally says, "And perhaps Nia this is a chance for me to practice what you have been teaching me in regards to Orks."
"These flyers are actually interesting orks in that they are only vicious when defending their young," Galeo admits, clearly implying the things would be spawning this season.  Nia however also adds that the would always fly towards land, which in some ways is a good trait to remember about them.
Haroun realizes Seran's lack of fear towards Orks stems from being born among them.  He was born in the sky hence his affinities to it.  Jaric asks what would explain his fear then and he admits having strange memories of an attack when he was young.  He admits recalling swarms.  A broken gate.  But not much more.  A crew member interrupts, asking Galeo how one can tell the young from the adults.  Galeo shares it would be the natural inclination of a mother to protect their children.  Seran offers the young would probably be small.  And when Jaric suggests that the viciousness would fade when there are no young nearby, Haroun makes a mistake of musing that Galeo would not know of anything about children, being a man like himself.  The crew man is pulled aside, and Haroun warns him not to speak to The Artist given he's not blooded.  But the crew man tries to make Haroun realize Galeo is a woman.  He still thinks Galeo is a man pretending to be a woman.

The vessel continues its northern journey.

Seran searches the skies for any sign of the other ship as they travel.  She sees it adrift in the distance, seemingly empty.  "Sail ho! Send up a glass!" Seran calls out.  Haroun offers to send up wine, but Seran corrects him that she needs a spyglass.  Jaric and Galeo emerge from below deck, having heard the two, "Wine, I have wine!  Who needs wine?"   Haroun takes him on the offer as he sends the spyglass up to Seran.  He mumbles to him about Seran being excited about something.

"There's a ship!" Seran calls out.
"Are you certain its mine?" Haroun gasps.
Galeo and Jaric are confused on whose airship it could be and how it had been stolen and Haroun reluctantly recalls the story of the horned Ork that stole the ship.  Jaric questions Haroun on whether Orks can steal airships.  Seran swings upside down to grab the spyglass and sees it has the same mast, same cut, and confirms it is Haroun's ship.

"We found it?" Haroun is shocked.
"Celebrate then!" Jaric offers more wine.
"What do we do about it now?" Galeo quizzes.
"We claim it! What you hold is what you own..."
"But you lost it..." Galeo hisses.
"Someone call Nia.  I want her to confirm that the thing that stole it is no... longer there."
"To be fair, it was a terrible ork," Seran nods.
Haroun tries to compare the fear to Galeo on the stage, but Galeo admits she literally is always on the stage. Her very shoes are platforms like a stage.  Jaric hands Seran a wine as she lands on the deck.  Seran talks to the crew to go through the preparations to move the ship close.  She tells the crew to prepare their weapons but they admit to her they are not allowed to bring weapons.  Only tools.  Jaric apologizes for nothing having had spiced the wine.


Below, the Ork Talker stares at Nia.  "Not like stay here," it grumbles.  But Nia explains it is necessary or else Haroun would jump off the ship.  If it could fly it would have been a different matter.  "Haroun mawd.," it complains, and Nia admits she is working on it.  But shares Haroun had a traumatic experience at Galeo's way back.  "Orkus in hiding big shoola for orks," the Ork Talker snarls.  Nia offers he wear a cloak to hide himself but it tells her he is not an Ork Mother.  "Anyway, Haroun has to sleep sometime.  And then you can get out and look around."

The ork admits he will stay and clean the room for now.

As Nia heads out, she can hear the crew confirming the vessel ahead is indeed the other ship which Haroun had lost.  The vessel is drifting on its own.  The clouds are thicker in the area.  Galeo and Jaric enjoy their wine.  Haroun sits on a chair and rests his head on his hands as he watches.    "What she lacks in beauty, she has so much in brawn," Haroun muses aloud as he stares at Seran.  He does not overhear Galeo and Jaric talking about Seran and how she actually is already married to her swordsman.  Haroun instead talks to Nia and asks her if he's being cruel for allowing Seran to do "men things" given.  Galeo counters she doesn't believe such happen.  Nia suggests about the Ork with a mask Haroun faced and Jaric starts blabbering about the history of masquerades. Nia gets permission to bring her vassal up, which Haroun approves without a thought, unaware she plans to bring an ork up.  Galeo folds the cloth of her dress to resemble the flyer orks and Jaric commends her for the craft.  Haroun admits he doesn't recognize it.

The others see Nia return with her Ork Talker.  Jaric admits he did not realize they had one on the ship.  Haroun, however, fails to notice the talker.  Instead he is still staring at Galeo's craft and tries to identify what she had made.  Nia stares at the other ship and determines the flyers had probably already flown away to join the others.  "So are there Orks?" Haroun asks?  "Keen eyes," Jaric commends Seran as the two ships are now alongside each other, "Very much like your mother."  Seran swings across without hesitation.

Haroun swings to join her.


Jaric, Galeo and Nia ends up enjoying the time away from Haroun to talk about Seran's Romance with Haroun and her husband and how complicated it has become.  They do consider the fact that there now are two ships, which is a good thing.    The Ork Talker stares at Jaric.  Something about him has caught the Ork's eye.  "Gathum... Gathum Fenris," the Ork Talker gasps.  Nia suggests Jaric reminds the Ork of the head of his household.  Jaric admits he wishes he had read more about it, but the Ork suddenly lunges forward at him and its hand snatches the amulet around Jaric's throat.  Jaric and Galeo stumble into each other and fall to the ground.

"Restrain your Ork!  It has stolen my amulet," Jaric hisses at Nia.  "I feel insulted."  Nia tries to explain to Jaric that the Ork seems to be displaying some form of tradition and the amulet, wherever he had got it from, is related to the Ork's old ways.  "I feel violated!" Jaric still hisses, then softens, "But... what... tradition... precisely is this... I cannot stand for this without understanding more!"

Nia asks, "Remember how our Ork Talkers are seemingly from this single house, House Fenris?"  The Ork Talker raises the amulet and offers to try to explain via example.  The ven watch.  And as the Ork motions towards Galeo, she feels an intense overpowering Terror overwhelm her!  Galeo screams and runs for the deck below, back to her cabin.   Jaric admits he doesn't grasp this tradition, while Nia wonders what was supposedly so scary?  "Fenris," the Ork Talker simply repeats.  "Mine," Jaric stares at the amulet, "Return," he hisses and the Ork Talker bows his head and offers it back.  Jaric wonders if he was supposed to bow as well.  "I do not like not knowing.  I shall return to my quarters to research."

"Elvees serve Master.  Gathum Fenris," the Ork mumbles to Nia.  "Are you saying that Brother Snake serves your household?"  Nia asks.  "Brother Snake Master of House Hold," the Ork Talker explains.  "That was my first guess.  I was right the first time, then.  But I think he is unaware," Nia replies, "He does not know he is Master. He also does not know a lot of other things, but that is besides the point."  "Winter... " the Ork tries to explain and smears on the ground to create a worm like shape.  Then smears it to give it legs like those of a spider and barbs.  "Elvees..." it repeats.  Nia ponders, "So the Master of House Fenris is like this? "
"Horned One," the Ork Talker replies.

Nia realizes Haroun might be the best one to answer that.  Something she will try to ask him later.


Later below the deck, Galeo and the Ork have another discussion.  Galeo's swordsman stands his ground, ready to defend her.  The Ork approaches her to apologize and explain.  Rather than try to speak, however, the Ork merely begins to move its hands and to Galeo's shock, she realizes she can understand it!  The Ork has the Blessing of Talia to speak without words.  It explains to her that Jaric owns an amulet that the Orks fear, and it was an Artifact held by House Fenris.  Jaric means one who knows the ancient ways.  The name Galeo, it turns out, means "Mother on Barren Earth."  The Ork and his kind apparently have language and use similar naming practices that the ven do.  He tells her how House Fenris gained control of most Winter Homes, that Shanri is *their* land, after surviving the storm of fire and rain.  The Orks, he explains, want to regain their lands.  House Fenris burned the Sky City and Talia is now sleeping in safety in one of the Ork Winterhomes.  Talia is even called the OrkMother.  The Ork Talkers, it turns out, are present to try to barter peace with the ven.

Galeo asks it for its name.  It has none.  Orks, it turns out, gain their names by killing the ven.


On the other ship, the two see the ship is still in pretty good condition.  It was not ransacked and abandoned.  Even the wheel is free.  Seran and Haroun carefully survey the vessel and find no presence of Orks about on the deck.  "Nice of you to join me," Seran greets Haroun and he explains he is doing what Nia suggested, which was to expose himself more to what he fears to control it. "I'm sure there's something you fear too," Haroun asks, "The death of your mother?  The loss of your province?"  Seran responds that its not that she doesn't care but that it is inevitable.  Haroun starts telling her how he looks highly of Lukas.  He even says he think they are a great pair.   As the two have the moment alone, it is then when Haroun reveals he wants to have Lukas Blooded under his house as a Fox.  He plans to give him a Province and to speak to the Senate under his House. He even suggests Lukas change his name to Lucius to better fit the names among the Ven. Seran admits she was planning to have Lukas Blooded, but Haroun admits he had his friends in the Senate override her petition and shows her the letter he has received in response from the Senate.  He hasn't opened it and wants her to see their response.  "I have petitioned that he be given the title of Count," and shares he has garnered the support of the current Earl of the Fox.

He tells her that he talked to Nia and tells her how he asked Nia if Seran might be merely enjoying the ship and not his company.  That she is distracted by something else.  Or someone else.  Seran opens the letter and reads the first lines, "We would like to extend our most sincere congratulations..."     "Consider this a wedding present," Haroun tells her, which shocks Seran.  Seran confesses that she cannot accept the present.  She admits that she is already married.

She tells him she does enjoy his company, but she is already married and that it would not be fair to him if he were to Blood her husband.  She places Haroun's hand onto the sword hilt and tells her she is ready for him to exact Revenge.  But before he could react, red eyes emerge from the darkness.  A hiding and waiting Ork rushes for them and strikes Haroun from behind!  Haroun is knocked aside, tumbling to the ground, and some of his blood splatters on Seran's cheek.  As the thing rears for a second strike, Seran calls for help!


Jaric starts to monologue about how Orks cannot have Culture, and starts talking about how things were in the First Age.  He recalls the stories of the Fenris being in the Fall of the Senate.  He recognizes the amulet is definitely a Fenris Artifact.  He tests the amulet on the vassals nearby, and they all start screaming.  The personal guards switch to a defensive position in response.  Jaric realizes the amulet triggers fear.

When Jaric arrives at the deck, he sees the vassals tense.  They tell him they heard a cry for help.  They all can hear Seran yelling, "Bloody hell, Orks!" Jaric tells them to go down and fetch Nia.  At the other deck, a blade occasionally slips through the wooden panels.  "That may not be excitement of the proper kind.."  Out of a porthole, an ork crashes out!  Leathery things with red glowing eyes.  Their heads look like owls but instead have reptilian bodies.  The personal guards stand ready.


The ork screeches and tries to smash Seran with its massive limbs.  Seran holds the sword close then spins to cut away anything too close.  "You're all like Falvyn Dyr.. useless!"  The Ork misses, and its fist catches on the ceiling.  Seran stabs her blade through its mouth but it slams her back to the deck.

Nia arrives at the deck and joins Jaric.  "You may have been wrong," Jaric tells her about her call that the ship probably is clear of Orks.  "Clearly there are non-Ven on the ship."  Seran leaps back down from the deck to attack.  Nia corrects him that she didn't mean there were no Orks.  Simply that there were no flying Orks.  The two see Seran emerging from the hole with the Ork lifting her up from the hole.  Seran cleaves it from behind from shoulder to shoulder, blood spraying upon her.  It collapses on the deck with her on top.  Seran jumps back down to find Haroun.    Haroun is hurt but alive.

Haroun mumbles, talking to Seran as if she was Lukas.  He ends up telling her that he and Lukas had been writing to each one.  About how Lukas wanted to show her he can handle land.  He has agreed to sponsor the wedding between Lukas and Seran.  He brought her with him to buy him time to make the preparations needed.    Althea thought it was a stupid idea but Haroun felt it was necessary.  Seran hands Haroun over to the crew then she leaps back to the ship.  Seran grabs Nia to go with her back into the ship to retrieve the letter.

Nia leaps away from talons that tear from the floor.  Seran tosses a lantern to her and follows to the bottom.  The lower deck is filled with drones and what seem to be bodies.  A queen Ork is found.  The thing resembled a skinned chicken with patagia flaps and some kind of massive womb.  At least forty feet long, the thing had a distended belly translucent from the growth inside of it.  The queen, it seems, it dead.  Its head is no longer there.  The things in its belly, however, are alive and shoving and trying to break free.  Nia realizes the thing earlier on the deck was the father.  It must have killed the mother.    Seran cannot find the letter and begs Nia to help her find it.  Nia sees a door in the level she is in that suddenly slips closed!  "Is it safe down there?" Nia asks Seran.  "Look they are about to be born!  Don't you want to see this?"  Compelled, Nia joins Seran down below.  The lantern had been left above and when someone suddenly takes it, darkness covers the two below.

There seems to be a narcotic however, extruded by the ven, that weaken all the men aboard.


Galeo arrives at the deck to see Jaric enjoying a refill of wine while the rest of the crew drag Haroun to the lower decks.  Jaric explains its the part of the adventure with Orks.  Galeo mumbles about names and Jaric thinks its merely an offshot of horrible wine.  He offers Galeo a fresh glass.  

Galeo whispers to Talia.  She is angry at the ideas that the Ork had suggested and insulted that it would make such claims.  Galeo however now worries if it could be why Talia does not hear the other prayers.  Could it be she is actually not Suaven?

People emerge from the deck of the other ship.  Two are armed with bows.  Three are armed with swords.  They are all ven.  The survivors admit they want to escape the ship and had been hiding from the Orks.  Galeo offers them hospitality.  One identifies himself as Baron Dag'ul but admits he has no House.  He is somehow merely a Vassal. He admits he is the swordsman of Lord Asvil (also a Baron), one of the ven who has a bow trained at the others.   They claim to had been abducted from their castle.  Master Jorja claims to have a province in the south.  Lady Meza claims to own a kingdom.  And the last, Ato, is a Vassal of another as well.  The apologize and admit they do what they must to survive. "Forgive the Falcons.  They love their bows."

"Falcons?  Bows?  Tools," Jaric hisses.  The ven turn out to had been prisoners of the Orks.   There is some odd moments when they do not seem to recognize The Artist.  Ato turns out to recognize Galeo.  He mentions he spend some years as a swordsman and once served at a party when Galeo had... a child.  "I hope the child is well."  Dag'ul speaks to Ato and whispers to him not to talk about such things.  Asvil seems honestly pleased to meet the others.   There is an offer to retire downstairs, but Jaric counters it would seem remiss to leave before the other return.  He notices Dag'ul muttering, "So many differences yet so many the same."

The Lady Meza leaps back to the ship to find the others.


Back below, Nia and Seran deal with the incoming birth.  Nia notices a body on the ground and realizes the ven is half dead in the hold.  The older ven speaks strange things, of an Ilysia Yvarai, a Suaven they have never heard of.  Of banners (instead of Houses).  His name is Moray Jalan, Provost of the Horse, and he mumbles about warning the Banners that there are others that wear the faces of the ven.  He wants to pray to Ilysia Yvarai, the Suaven of Whispers, the Last Yvarai among the Suaven, to carry his words to the other Suaven for Blessings.  He offers them to Jovi, the Suaven of Songs, and to Fashell, the Suaja of Service.  In his dying moments, he offers a secret to Nia, "There are Ven beyond the Wall of Mists.  Warn the banners, they are Ork Ven."

The womb tears open, spilling out human-sized larvae that begin to gain the capacity to walk.  As they work together to dispatch any Orks that approach, they begin torching the airship in hopes of stopping the birth.  Meza asks Nia and Seran to please refer to her as a Falcon.

Lady Meza arrives, looking for Moray Jalan.  Seeing the two had tried to comfort him, she takes them to be allies.  She admits she is not permitted to speak of her house, but that she is of the Veiled House of the Boar.  She recognizes Nia and knows of her mother.  Meza is confused about the word of Moray Jalan of something beyond the Senate.    Seran ushers them out to rush up to the upper deck.  Meza feels the Senate must know about this Ven that claims to be of "the Banners."

As they get to the deck, with one of the Orks impaled onto Seran's sword, they slam the hatch closed to trap the Orks, and as they reach the deck -

The letter.

The letter was stuck to Seran's boot all that time. The winds nearly blew it away, but an arrow launched by Meza pins it to the wall.  "A tool can be useful at times."


As the burning ship begins to spiral downwards, Nia and Seran with Meza arrive and find Jaric and Galeo entertaining the guests.  Nia drops on Jaric's lap the "ork corpse" as a present.  "How is Haroun?"  Seran decides to go see him.


Seran takes theletter and goes to Haroun.  He reveals the whole plan was something he had discussed with Althea.  Althea had asked Haroun to pretend to court Seran, in order for the mother to save face.  Lukas is to become the Count of Tamal and since as Count he was to manage a Province of his own, Haroun gave Seran the Airship and Glider as a means for them to visit each other.  Seran is proxy Captain of the vessel while Haroun recovers.


Answers soon come.  The guests are strangers mostly to each other, all having been abducted in one way or another by the Orks.   They share their experiences of how they were abducted.    The group then shares back that their expedition is to find the original Senate house.   The idea of the original Senate house being destroyed bothers some as the Suaven are said to be hidden underneath it.    With the mention of the Mist Wall, Jaric finds himself curious about it.  There was mention of it in a Library of a Serpent, a puzzle house library.  Jaric so wishes he could go see it.    Seran notices Dag'ul's statements of where he lives seem wrong.  The description suggests his lands are where Jaric's are.   Haroun shares about his rise to Dukedom, the deaths of his relatives, and how Isolde used to always share him advice.  Nia discusses with Ato on Rituals that can allow one to regain one's appearance.  Jaric catches sight of someone sneaking into the Duke's cabin and realizes it is an Ork.  But when it vanishes, Jaric realizes the Ork has the Blessing of the Cloak Decievious!  He mobilizes to find the Ork!

Nia and Ato talk about Sorcery more and learn of how mirrors are windows to the other side.  The mirror she owns is a Sinjin, speaking much of its craftsmanship.  When spectres are forced to gaze at glass, it seems they are given the option to be forgiven or trapped int hem.  Or allow a second death.  The old mirrors were confiscated by the House of Quan Wei.    Ato is uncertain if Jaric is actually is son.    He does however share with Nia that there is a ritual to change one's appearance, but the cost is one's Secret name.  He admits his face is no longer his.  And that it involves a prayer to the Grinning Man.

The Ork is identified as Nia's Ork.    Haroun is hurt by the betrayal to his kindness.  The Ork admits to Nia that the ship is the same ruin/ship in their legends.  The Ork is a priest among his kind.  He admits they rescued the Suaven from the Senate house... all save one.


Night falls.
A storm comes.

The ship crashes upon new shores.
The ven are not without their injuries, or loss of men, but most are alive.  Nia is severly injured.  Seran barely grazed.  Galeo discovers she landed safely since he fell with Asvil taking the impact.  She takes his Bloodsword and realizes there are whispers she can hear from it.  Words.   Meza is crushed to death.  
Nia's Orktalker had saved Haroun from death.  Jorja was not as lucky.

The island they are on shows a beautiful beach.  Beyond the waters, a wall of mist that stretches from horizon to horizon.  Lightning flashes from the mist and what seem to be airships can be seen floating within them.   The group is uncertain if they had found the Mist wall, and crashed into it.

Or through it.

The voices come.  Galeo tries to hold them calm but she realizes she can hear them now.  The Mother of Monsters.  The Blind One.   The Iron Heart.   However she hears nothing of Talia Yvarai.    The Suaven hear Galeo's reactions and ask who is speaking through the prayers they hear.

They wonder if Galeo is their missing brethren.

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