Monday, September 22, 2014

After the Rain ep14 : Houses of the Blooded

08/04/2014
After the Rain

Episode Fourteen
"Wine and Cookies"

In the Wilderness.
The Airship created by Haroun sails over the vast landscape. Nia Jalan and Jaric Thayl whisper in private about how many had fallen from the airship during the journey back before the others were finally permitted to climb onboard.   Those who had been allowed on board hide any signs or hints of ill will towards the ones formerly called the Ork Ven. By the end of the first Season of traveling, the Airship reaches familiar land:  the home estate of Nia Jalan's parents.    The ven scream in panic upon seeing the orks in the sky, unaccustomed to the presence of orks in the vicinity.  Jaric is surprised to overhear Haroun Q'n muttering about how the City ven had been raised in the city for too long that they panic at the first sight of orks.  Nia is stunned to realize how much Haroun has changed.  They discuss on what they are to tell the Senate about the newcomers and of how to inform Althea  Thorne of Seran and Galeo's disappearance.  Jaric recalls the visions the red-haired demon had shown him, and he has shared them with Nia, but he does not believe he can trust them.  Haron talks about how he pledged to keep Seran safe, and that he will have to report to the Senate to report that he had broken his word.  Jaric tries to stress the need to deal with the lost ven, as well as the Demon that is now free.  Nia supports the need to prioritize the matter, however Haroun admits he does not grasp the concept of demons.  Haroun admits he knew of a group that was fascinated with demons: Colora Mwrr, a man who slipped into Solace a few years ago whom obsessed over demons.  The Senate deemed the tomes Colora wrote as Sorcery and had them destroyed.   His daughters, however, might be willing to share information.  The daughters however stand in opposing poles on how demons should be dealt with.  Isla believes that Demonology is a lore best left buried.  Viverra thinks demons are just tools.  Zruda laughs at both for having such fascinations with what she considers to be fiction.  Zsanos Yvarai had Romances with each of them, it seems.  The three sisters have the same face, and all of them are Serpents.  Haroun discusses more about his concern regarding "his word" and he may need to revoke his request to have the husband Blooded.  Having failed to keep Seran safe, he may have to attempt damage control to allow the others to keep their own lands as well.  Haroun considers reclaiming the land of Seran's, to hold under his shadow until Althea Thorne bears another child.

Down below, the roadmen stare nervously at the airship.  The group lands the airship with Nia Jalan taking lead to introduce their presence to his family. The land below, after all, is familial grounds.  Orion Steiner is happy to see Nia return, and curious to notice the many accompanying her.  She introduces them as Ork Ven of another Shan'ri from far away.  He asks if they are of the House Ork, and this question bothers the gathered.  Nia quickly whispers an explanation of how they were addressed as Orks in the season prior, but the father merely finalizes then that the visitors are not of House Ork.   Haroun addresses the Lord Protector and asks for an explanation.  Orion narrates how the Senate House was struck by a tremor, and what spared it from destruction was the rising of a massive hand built of deceased ven bodies.  The hand rose to support the Senate House from falling. He mentions they are lead by the Duchess of the Ruins Beneath: Dranna Ru.  Haroun is happy to learn his sister is alive.  Nia, less so, to the point she calls Dranna Ru a harlot!   Haroun reminds Nia Dranna Ru is his sister and Nia is aghast to realize that makes them cousins!  Orion shares the House Ork was recognized as of a Season ago, and Jaric relates the timetable to match when the other Shan'ri fell.  Jaric asks what did happen to Dranna Ru and Nia just reminds him that she fell into a hole and died.  Haroun asks to speak with Orion and tells the rest that they leave in the morrow.  Dalvinosh Steele, the former Earl of the Elk, asks to see Nia and Jaric and discusses with them the coming future given they are now all landless ven.  Nia considers having him meet her father, thinking it would be interesting for her father to meet an outsider.  Dalvinosh also asks about the nearby temple and Nia shares that it is the temple of her mother who had achieved Suavenhood.  Another ven asks if the two control the Orks in the air.  When Dalvinosh tries to shush her, she reminds him that he is no Earl anymore.  Nia tells them the Orks do what they want.  Another asks if there is danger and Jaric affirms there is some element of danger, hence the roadmen standing ready to protect them.  The concept boggles the mind of many of the Ork ven.  One even asks what a Roadman is, and the two remember how limited the scope of understanding the Ork ven have of living beyond a city.  Szaz Ashken calls for Jaric and pushes through the crowd to get to him.  She understands more how huge the lands are for the two, and how the City ven truly were living in such a tiny place.  When the voices arise with all the questions, Jaric reminds them to mind their manners and wait their turn to speak.
Dalvinosh Steele, Former Earl of the Elk

At the Althua.
Dranna Ru and Seran Thorne share a moment in the party.  Seran speaks of her joy to see Dranna Ru alive, a statement Dranna Ru asks if it is sincere.  The Duchess still feels slighted that her "friend" had abandoned her to her death.  Seran asks how she lived and Dranna Ru simply says it was an event beyond reason.  Seran tries to rekindle ties but Dranna Ru seems to be defensive in her statements.  When Seran mentions she is leaving soon to search for the others, Dranna Ru takes that moment to say, "Searching for the others?  Another group you abandoned."  Thankfully, Seran ignores the insult and merely admits it was not an act of choice.  Dranna Ru does eventually admit she is grateful to see Seran, because they had a moment in the winding passageways that were pleasant times.  The clothes (made of living Orks) seem to reflect an anger held within.  Seran shares only she and Galeo Silja have returned, but that it is still possible that the others are alive.  Dranna Ru shares she spent a year trying to regain her strength, and most of that time was also spent wondering if those she considered dear to her were coming to her rescue.  She asks about Lukas and Seran firmly asks her not to ask about him.  "He is dead."  Dranna Ru admits that changes her plans, and insists that will have to wait for another day.  Seran directly asks if Dranna Ru is planning a Revenge, and Dranna Ru simply answers, "We are Ven."  She asks to see Galeo and Seran at another Althua, to be held in the Castle of Sorio Ruso.  It will be a larger event than the one they were attending, but she assures them there will not be a need to bring Gifts.

Count Kether converses with Galeo Silja in the other side of the room.  He asks Galeo if the other man in the room is Lukas, and Galeo tries to deflect answering his questions.  She tries to use her Sardonic Wit to her advantage.  The truth of the discussion would not, after all, forward any of his plans.  Kether tells Galeo that he has been in touch with Hero, and he referred to himself as the Painter.  The last time Hero did so, people were not certain if Galeo was a woman.  Kether admits he already knows that Galeo is a woman, but has no idea on the sex of their child.  "Male, female, it doesn't matter to me now.  What matters to me more now is the Art."  Kether admits those are wise words, almost sounding like something Cherno has spoken of.  When Galeo looks confused, Kether tells her about an elusive figure who has been causing waves in the Art field.  The artist rose into prominence in Galeo's absence.  "Cherno is Art. And all have relished the chance to bear witness to his work."  Galeo finds it unthinkable that someone has achieved this in two seasons.  She was once the benchmark, and now in barely three Seasons, she has become passe.  "True, he does good work, but the reason he is popular is because his first works reminded people of my work.  Derivative."   Galeo, however, sensed deep inside this Cherno was a True Competitor.

"But then he transformed himself by the Second Season.  He created Living Opera."  Kether admits he cannot explain it further... how it is Opera yet not.  How the stories keep changing.  Galeo questions if he has abandoned form.  Kether, however admits it is not about abandoning form, but instead was finding a way to tell more than one at the same time.   "He has met the Challenge against the Ridicule.. well assuming he is a man.  We are not certain if he is a man, or what House he is from.  He just appears.  No Gallery.  No Opera House.  And when it appears, word spreads about it and everyone rushes to see it."

"He makes Art into a snack?" Galeo gasps.

"Many see it more as he makes Art into a Moment.  Like when a Comet passes over the sky.  It is like you see it, or you do not."  He tells her how many have been selling their Art because they never change.  And the Merchants have been celebrating it.  Kether admits to have seen one of Cherno's work.  It was like making love.  "It was the most intimate experience I had ever had."  Others overhear the conversation and start to join the conversation, speaking about other works that they had seen.  One mentions a work by the waterfall.  How the most recent one had five veth, or perhaps Ruk.  The performers know nothing of Cherno, or of the next work.   Kether admits laughing about it at first, but things totally changed for him upon witnessing it.   He even confesses that he doesn't think he will ever love again.

Seran tells Galeo about her talk with Dranna Ru.  Galeo, however is lost in her thoughts on the matter regarding Cherno.  What holds her tongue is seeing Seran dressed in mourning clothes.  When Seran overhears and asks about Cherno's work, they see how the speakers all talk of his work as if it were... a Romance.  Seran actually asks Galeo if she is Cherno and Galeo cannot help but find that a borderline insult.

Maja Thayl, Jaric's mother, discusses with Galeo the matter of Cherno but quickly diverts the discussion to whether or not Galeo is willing to be a voice for the Uv'shanadir.  Galeo is uncertain if she should be involved in politics, especially given she has friends to mourn.  Maja reminds Galeo they are in an Althua, and they should NOT speak of mourning unless they were dressed in such.  Galeo shows her dress is meant to show mourning.  But Maja questions why she would wear such a thing given Hero still lives.  Not even Galeo's explanation of having witnessed so much death fazes her. Galeo admits she was thinking of having Cassalanter become Maja's ward, and she admits she has need for a Court Scholar.  Galeo finds it interesting considering Jaric's connection to the past.  Maja then shares that was because Jaric had Blessings when he was young.   He had an Uncle who was a Serpent who promised him that he would grow up to resemble him in many ways.  "Funny, I can't quite remember his name. I normally never forget a face.  All I could remember was that he was a Serpent in his Winter years.  He had a ring that he left with Jaric..."  When asked if that was Ato, Maja admits it wasn't him.  If not a Court Scholar, Maja offers to have the Cassalanter be a Mason.  Galeo does request that Cassalanter is to be unknown while in her service.  Maja however cautiously tells Galeo that many are starting to find that more like a "cliche" now than a true mystery.

Kether asks Seran about her colors and she tells him she mourns her husband. He asks if he suffered, and she simply tells him the point is he is gone.  Kether shares his condolences and hopes he did not suffer.  "I am not known for my Kindness.  I am known for my Honesty and my Ruthlessness.  But I also realize now that one must learn to feel."  When Seran asks if this is from Cherno's art, he admits he is.  He questions if she will rise to his challenge.  Seran believes she will in time.

"I truly believe he did not suffer," Kether adds, "In fact, if he was by some chance here right now, the only true suffering he feels is seeing you unhappy."

Seran tries to ask of his wife and Kether shares that she had grown tired of him and committed suicide.  Her last act of defiance was not to leave her. Instead it was to show she could not change even as he did.   Seran wonders how great Cherno's work is to have changed people so much, and wonders more how to get a chance to see the work.  Kether leans close and whispers to her that there is a group that shares word of any sighting of Cherno's work.  He invites her to join but warns that Galeo would probably not be welcome.

Back at the fringes.
Down from the ship, Nia makes her way straight to the castle and smells the roasting meats and hears the laughter.  Haroun and Orion are enjoying a meal.  Nia shares that there is a group that wishes to see mother's temple and Orion thinks it would be good to allow them in that she would gain more followers.  An extra table is set up by the staff.  Nia proudly shares that Haroun is no longer afraid of Orks, and he admits she helped him learn to handle the fear.  Orion finds the Ork Ven fascinating, given their claim to have a Senate within a single City and more.  Nia joins them.

Szaz and Jaric are still on the ship and feel the others may have forgotten they are still on the vessel.  They muse this is Haroun "forgetting" intentionally as another act of reminding people what they did to him.  They discuss how vast Shan'ri truly is  and Szaz questions how one can even control such large expanses of territory.  Jaric talks about the roles vassals play and suggests to Szaz that perhaps the Spiders would like to.. work for him in some form.  Szaz admits they helped not out of altruism, but it was of Cunning and Patience.  Jaric Blesses Szaz with Moving the Pawn to "Spread your Shadow across the lands, and in that way, mine as well." Having agreed to trust one another, the spiders begin to disembark from the ship.
Orion Steiner, Marquis

Back in the castle.
The former Earl arrives, and Orion turns to Nia to follow her lead on approaching the man.  Nia identifies him as the former Earl and does note that he is landless.  Haroun just shrugs that the man is Ruk.  The guests are welcomed, and Dalvinosh Steele is presented as "the former Earl".  Haroun however still raises a question if that is how a Ruk is supposed to be addressed.  Nia defers to his wisdom as Duke.  Orion calls is a matter of entertainment, and addresses the Ruk as having been "once an Earl."  Dalvinosh drops to one knee and declares they have come as having been summoned.  Haroun laughs, tells them to join them at the table, and tells them they are all guests of Orion Steiner.  Haroun pulls a chair for Dalvinosh and insists he sits and even offers to go get the wine for the former Earl himself.  Orion throws Nia a glance and asks what is going on, not wanting to be involved in these things.  "There is a reason your father picked a Province far from everyone else!"

"There is also a reason your Daughter picked a Province from the other side."

"You realize that made you furthest away from me!"

A moment as the two realize what they both have just come to realize.    The two however are worried that Haroun might be planning a Revenge and they wonder if they should send word on the matter to the Senate.  There is even concern that Althea Thorne would rain down upon them acts of cruelty.  Orion shares that Haroun did mention he laments the deaths of Seran Thorne and Galeo Silja.   He also realizes he may have triggered this as the Ruk are not covered by the Unblooded laws that the Senate now respects, at least not until they are formally registered in the Senate.  Nia realizes this may be the reason Haroun is on a warpath.

At the kitchen, Jaric wanders into the chamber to find Haroun currently looking at a few bottles of wine. Haroun rises with a bottle of wine in his hands and he recorks it.  Jaric asks about the wine and Haroun tells him flatly, "Not for you.  The Lord's Protector has many other fine vintages available, but this bottle is not for you."  They open another bottle and take a drink.  Jaric asks if he has told Haroun about the Demoness and he shares the visions he had seen in the forest.  The demoness was supposedly a wish-giver and she could only do so and her wishes were delivered with unforeseen consequences or terrible prices to pay.  He shares how the demoness was offering to bring him home, but he refused.  Jaric wonders if the visions had any truth in them, but they seemed to suggest that Seran and Galeo and the veth were possibly tempted with such wishes as well to escape the storm.    At the thought that they may have survived, Haroun uncorks the bottle he held back and suddenly drinks a third of it.  He offers it to Jaric as well and as he tastes it, the flavors catch him off-guard.  "It was supposed to be a wedding present.  A wedding which I thought would never happen. I was planning to serve it as a reminder that it would never happen."  Haroun feels a surge of hope. Galeo would likely agitate the demoness enough to make the bargain.  Seran would find a way to keep the others safe.  "The probably are already home!"   Haroun is too excited at the thought the others are possibly alive, that he totally ignores Jaric's warnings that the demoness is the biggest threat they may be facing.
Maja Thayl,
Voice of the U'vshanadir

Back in the Althua.
A servant comes up to Seran.   She was lost in her thoughts of the previous days.  Seran had attempted a few flights in the Glider but clearly the vehicle is unable to take long journeys.  She begins preparing supplies for a new expedition.    The servant hands her a bottle of wine and motions to the far table.  The man is dark-skinned with wavy hair.  He wears green and lavender with a touch of white, clearly here to enjoy the Althua.   The man is Rajid Reinhold, and Galeo shares with Seran that the man is shrewd dealer of airships.   Maja clinks the glass to call for everyone's attention and tells them there is only time for one event: either an Opera or a journey into a Puzzle House for everyone to explore.  While the ven first applauded at the mention of an Opera, the silence that follows the moment a Puzzle House is mentioned is unmistakable.  Galeo tells Hero she feels musical, while Hero admits he does not feel too well.  When Galeo asks since when did ven get sick, he admits it might be something  to do with cookies he had.  Galeo recognizes the cookies and throws a glance at Dranna Ru.  Galeo whispers to Hero that he probably is poisoned and stands and rushes off to try to purge it out of his system, especially given they have no apothecary to have provided them an antidote.  Galeo holds Casselanter closer.  The ribbons are held up for voting.

Maja announces that the Opera wins as the chosen activity.  A servant comes up to her and whispers something to her ear.  Maja suddenly heads off the stage without a word.  Many start to throw glances at each other.  Some begin to stand up look around.  Count Kether suddenly stands up and throws Seran and Galeo a glance, then hurries off towards a door.  As Galeo stands and carries Casselanter in her arms, a servant comes up to Seran and places a plate of cookies down to the table in front of her.  Galeo uses her Blessing to speak without words to warn her to leave.  Seran feels a man grab her arm and she looks up to see Rajid.  The man tells her that he has heard news that she had been attempting to breach his lands via air, and she realizes Rajid was merely the Ven who cast a shadow on the neighboring Province.  He offers to loan her an airship and she asks him to discuss things come Spring instead.   Galeo and Casselanter hurries to the exit, and keeps an eye out for Maja, Kether and Seran.  Seeing the two leave the same door, Galeo motions at Seran to hurry out that same door.

They find Hero outside, telling them that a woman came up to him and handed him an antidote.  He feels better now.  They see the woman he is speaking of and discover is a Ork woman.. one of the Ork's Dranna Ru wore.  The three hurry out of the corridor to leave. They exit and find Maja and Kether gasping for air outside in the courtyard.    Kether looks up and notices their numbers.  "He...  is still.."

Galeo realizes she had left Lukas inside.

Kether knocks on the door, demanding it be opened to get "his vassal" inside.  Galeo is starting to wonder, however, why Kether seems so concerned for Lukas, given everyone else supposedly knows him to be Errol, Landless Lord of the Forgiving Hands.  Seran is asking for an explanation to what is going on.  Seran is starting to think that the man Kether is worried about is the Cherno guy.  Maja thanks the Suaven that the others are outside and asks them who else was permitted to leave.  The word permitted makes Galeo wonder.  Kether mentions it was the Cookies that was the sign.   Maja tells Galeo the poisoned cookies was meant to deliver a message that they should get out.  Galeo asked what does Dranna Ru want and Maja tells them she wanted the Province.  She is claiming it.

"It is over," Maja turns to the door, "It is too quiet.  My Althuas are never this quiet."

Kether is worried.  He couldn't get the door open. And blood is now oozing out from under the door.  Galeo shakes her head.  This can't be how it ends.  The Demoness could not have let Lukas die.

The door opens.
Dranna Ru emerges.  She tells them she is happy they all saw and understood the message.  She knows some ate them rather than understood it, so she hopes they received the antidote as well.  She tells them she now has lands, and all she asks in return is that they respect that.  She tells them they were invited to see her, still forever one of the Ven.  The others?  She is a Serpent who has conquered the Orks.  She asks them to stand by her as she conquers the rest.

Galeo speaks up, stating she still has a Vassal left inside.  Dranna Ru is surprised, and turns to Seran, to ask, "And you consent to this?"  Kether speaks up telling Dranna Ru that it is a matter best not discussed in detail.  Seran barks at Kether that the question was directed to her, not him.  She asks what is the question about.  Errol is brought out by the Orks.  There are arrows that have pierced all through his clothes but not his skin.  Seran recognizes him instantly as Galeo's vassal.  Galeo steps forward and tells Dranna Ru that is she would like to discuss this matter further, they can meet to discuss things in a future date.  Galeo, however, realizes that Dranna Ru no longer has the Earring.  Dranna Ru bids them a safe journey but does tell them if any of them wish to ally with her, she would be grateful.  She reminds them that she still remembers Isolde.

Kether pulls Seran away as she tries to talk to Errol and Galeo about how he was able to avoid all the arrows.  Galeo pulls Errol away, and he mumbles to her about how the arrows somehow just all happened to miss her.  Maja comes up to Seran and asks if she had been to the Citadel.  Seran admits she has yet to see Jaric's wife.  Maja admits she had heard about their return already and given the Season that had passed without his return, she had assumed the worst.  Maja admits she should.  She tells him that Jaric's wife has pushed forward her place, reminding her that Jalani is the most protective mother she knows - and she has friends among the Senate.

Back at the Frontier.
The door opens to reveal Jaric with a bottle of wine.  All the others sigh in relief that it isn't Haroun.  They ask if Haroun has a sword, or something, but Jaric tells them he saw the Duke recorking the bottle of wine he is now drinking, how they talked about demons.  Orion suggests to Nia that she head off with Jaric to somewhere else safe, so when Haroun returns, they need not worry about a possible act of Murder.   Nia suggests Jaric see the library, but Jaric reminds her he has already seen it before.  Nia suggests he might want to read about her grandfather who created airships.  Orion presses and asks where the Duke is and Jaric finally remembers to tell them that they need alternate arrangements to get home.  Nia breaks into a run to try to catch him.

Nia gets to the airship which is already moving.  Many of the Ven are rappelling down as quickly as possible.  Yelling, Nia tells Haroun not to dare leave.  He explains he has to go to her, and she tells him she knows his sister is alive but there is no need to run to her.  Haroun stares at her, confused, and throws an anchor down.  He leaps down to talk to her and tells her he was talking about Seran and Galeo.  Nia however is wondering if he had too much wine.  Haroun explains that Dranna Ru, the awful woman, is alive and he doesn't seem to recall this despite being what they discussed just minutes ago.  Haroun suddenly begins to break down, choking on his own tears as he mumbles about how Seran and Galeo have to be alive or he would have really failed them, about how Dranna Ru was someone he had failed, and now she is alive and she will never forgive him, and now he fears Seran and Galeo are really alive and fears they will never forgive him.  Nia simply states this is all the more reason not to rush off alone and that he best wait for Jaric and her to join him.  She tells him to stop crying and calm down.  Szaz watches from the ship and realizes that this is a chapter in the book she read... leading to the last time the Duke will be seen as far as the story goes.


Orion shares the Ork House is a Ven House with a small number of members, with ven who claim to have mastered the Orks.  The house only has four members, with Dranna Ru being one and the remaining three being Serpent sisters.  Jaric finds it fascinating and admits he is uncertain if there is anything he can do to help.  He admits Dalvinosh Steele's treatment of them back in the City was absolutely neutral, as Cunning a move as it was.  Dalvinosh admits those who are still loyal who have been permitted to stay on the ship are hoping to offer a proposition: one which only the one interested be permitted to hear.  Jaric jokes that he does not suppose there are only four of them.

Back in Shan'ri,
Seran is on the Glider, on her way to the Citadel to visit Jalani, Jaric's wife.  Her thoughts race back to a conversation with Galeo before they parted ways.  Galeo tells Seran to prepare for the arrival of the others.  Seran is confused how Galeo would know this.  Galeo suggests that she suspects the Demoness would relish the suffering brought about by small moments of hope.  All Galeo is certain is that they should know that they are all alive.  Seran wonders if there is a chance even Lukas is alive, but Galeo does not respond to that.

Jalani Ballan, Baroness of the Citadel
A trebuchet flies at her!  Seran dodges it skillfully and allows her pennant to unfurl.  The Baroness of the Citadel calls for the roadmen to hold their fire and allows them to land.  She then directs Level 7, her spy network, to come up to her and confirm her identity.  Finally, she walks up to them and asks Jeeves to identify them.  Jeeves admits she is as he recalls him.  The Baroness Jalani then calls for one who hands her a small place cube of black glass.  Jalani stares through the Obsidian and asks Seran to state her name.  It is only after all that when she steps to Seran, takes her hand, and tells her,"I know of the Demon.  And I know her name."  They head indoors as Jalani admits the Demon may be watching.

As they talk about a dress for mourning, Jalani leads them to a sealed room where James and Jessie are waiting.  Seran is guided to the center of the room where a small square table with two chairs awaits.  As they sit, the two kids head off to leave them at the table.  Jalani sprinkles rose petals on the surface.  "First things first, my husband is never to know of this."  Seran is shocked that she is already Blooded.  Jalani admits she was even before Jaric married him. She offered to Blood Lukas but he refused and wanted Seran to be the one to Blood him.  Seran shares her plan to attempt to return in Spring to search for them.  Jalani admits she knows he is alive because she has met someone and shows her a broken pearl she has in possession.  She admits she knows better than to wait for her husband to make decisions.   Seran shares that Jaric was acting like a Serpent in the entire time they were out there.  Jalani tells her about Demons, about how there are only six demons in Shan'ri, and how five of them have been imprisoned if not destroyed.  Jalani identifies the Demon as the Seductress.  A deceiver.  She knows that in Demonology the best way to dismiss a Demon is to find whoever made the End Pact, the original deal that brought the Demon out.  She asks Seran to bear in mind that when a Demon chooses a target, they tend to stick to it until they've destroyed it enough to move on.  Seran thinks the target was the other Shan'ri.  Jalani is afraid Seran is the new target and this is but the beginning of what she has planned.

"You could try," the red-haired woman has appeared in the room.  "You could try to keep things from me.  And I might not hear what you two are discussing, but not all of you are always safe, are you?"

Jalani tells Seran quickly to avert her gaze.  To ignore the Demon.  To give it attention allows her to try to sink in her lies to make you act in her desired way.  She forces you to make deals.  Jalani admits she thinks Seran's servants gave in where her children will not.   Jalani reminds Seran that while the Demon cannot hear a single thing they are staying, it can still see what they are doing.  "Look worried," Jalani tells Seran as she explains that Sorcery is the same power that the Demons respect.  The Demon will attempt to convince them she knows what they are discussing.  She can only read minds of those who give her permission to do so.  Jalani even admits that the Demons probably used to be Ven.  Seran wonders if the process can be reversed.

"Children, your mother is not paying me any attention.  Would you like to go out and play?"

Jalani ignores the taunt.  Seran feels worried.  But Jalani tells Seran, "Watch."  The children turn to face the Demon with a smile.  They excitedly say they can play and reveal the black glass cubes in their hands!   The Demon recoils in fear.  She vanishes.

"Obsidian, isn't it?" Seran realizes.  She draws out the Compact in her things and shows it to Jalani, asking if it would help.  Jalani offers to demonstrate.  She takes the Compact, pricks Seran's finger, then clasps it closed with an audible click.  Seran stares blankly, not remembering.  Jalani smiles, and explains the Compact can steal away a moment of memory.  But it requires something of the target.  She admits a friend of her's used that kind of an artifact once to forget his own plans.  They will discuss more in the time to come.

Quan Wei, Former Dara
Galeo, on the other hand, finds another archway waiting for her at her home.  She steps through and finds herself back in the distant temple - the temple she always thought to be the temple of Thalia Yvarai.  Galeo walks past the white stone horse, and quietly goes to the woman she always thought was Thalia.  They lock gazes.  Thalia looks away and admits she wishes she had not lied to the Artist.  Thalia admits she had hoped to escape the tragedy.  Galeo asks her to confess what role she intended Galeo to play.  Thalia admits she wanted Galeo to find the real Thalia Yvarai.

"Then who am I speaking to?"

"A memory.  One formerly called Quan Wei."

Galeo begins to realize Quan Wei sent her in her place: One Dara after the other.  Quan Wei admits she had hoped that by staying away from them all, the old balance would be retained.  Quan Wei promises to tell no more lies.  She tells Galeo that she will lift away the veil.  Galeo's eyes shimmer with light.  Quan Wei is suspended in white silken threads at the center of the temple.

"Do you still hear me even in my sleep?  You see now how I truly am."

A Suaven.  She shares how when the Senate fell, all save Thalia Yvarai were brought away. Galeo asks what the Dara is and Quan Wei admits the Dara was meant to be the balance of the Demon: All the Dara had, the demon had.  Galeo shares the Demon has become the Storm.  And that its name is with Madelyn Yvarai.   Quan Wei shares when they last fought, the Storm was upon them but the Storm was on neither side.   Galeo asks if the Red-Haired Demon is not the Storm.  Quan Wei admits she is not, even if she laid waste to a part of Shan'ri as one.  Quan Wei now admits that Galeo is not the Dara.  She was only someone she had hoped would complete was Quan Wei failed to do.

She warns Galeo that he has been with her:  The Grinning Man is with the Woman with Red Hair.  She asks Galeo to forgive her for not being the Thalia she wished for.

At the Fringes,
Haroun tells Orion everything he has learned in his discussions with Jaric and Nia.  Dalvinosh is happy to leave the meal with his life.  Haroun tells them he wants to still leave tonight, to know the truth.  Nia agrees to accompany him.  Jaric agrees to go as well as asks to be dropped off first.  Jaric does tell them that Szaz and the Spiders will take residence in his City.  Nia asks if Haroun has plans as she has claimed some.  Haroun shares the remainder he will bring to the Senate.  Nia admits (hesitantly) that sounds fair.  Haroun asks about Dranna Ru and Orion admits she has no land.  The Senate has, however, agreed that she "owns" all the Ruins beneath the Ruins and Regions.    Orion admits the Senate is probably buying itself time to decide how to deal with the Ork House.  As Jaric babbles about the historical events showcasing the Senate using delaying tactics before, the group begin to pack up what they can.

Haroun teases Orion that he didn't really think the Duke would Murder someone in his own room.  Jaric feels sad that he may have "missed" a Revenge.  Haroun admits that if anything that can be said of the House, it would be that Foxes don't easily vote.

The airship soon takes to the air.  It is time to head home.

And at Seran's land,
she catches sight of four men tied together with clothes in their mouths.  There are a lot of wood around her feet.  The man who tied them up is now emptying a wineskin on the food at their feet.  She calls out, asking what they are doing but they don't seem to hear her voice.  She flies past them and lands at Galeo's castle.  She quickly tells them of what she had seen and Galeo still cannot grasp the concept of Living Opera.  Hero admits to have seen one, and tries to reassure Galeo that she is better than Cherno.   Hero and Galeo engage in another artistic moment of passion, with Hero whispering that if he had a wish, he would have wished for their child to have survived.

But if anything, the groups - separate as they are - realize they feel hope.

The reunions come as each one finally finds their way home.  Some are sweet, some are painful, some are calm and some.. revelatory.  On Jalani's finger, a wolf ring adorns it.  On Janine face, tears as she tells Nia that she saw it all happen, somehow she did.  On Haroun, a joy of knowing Seran is alive.  And as Hero and Galeo kiss deeply, Lukas sits in the other room, wishing somehow he can return back to Seran's arms.


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