After the Rain
"Revenge is a Name"
Investigations have begun. The next morning has come with the arrival of the Vashna. With the discovery of the death of Sorio Rusu, the gathered Ven are barred from leaving the premises until the Vashna have completed their investigations.
Seran Thorne draws her Compact out and wonders if it has anything to do with the memories she seem to be missing. She wonders if opening it would allow her to recall the memories she had lost. Opening it, she notices two strands of hair inside. She stares at the two and wonders why she had used it, and how long ago. Was she made to use it? Did she choose to use it? Haroun Q'n stares at the murder scene and he seems to share the confusion she holds. The windows rattle as the blizzard continues outside. Seran calls for her maid, but the maid does not answer this time. The servants she ask promise to search for her. Alynn Bowen, Baroness of Duat, mumbles to her a complaint of how long this investigation should take. The woman offers Seran a swig of the wine. Seran turns it down, recalling the wine is a Madelyn gift. Seran sniffs the glass nearby, and realizes the scent matches the sour taste in her mouth. She searches for Nia.
Nia Jalan is going around the room, investigating and trying to figure out what has happened. The Vashna do not hinder her back. Among them are other bodies including Dalvinosh Steele's, Sorio Rusu's and the 18 other bodies. Nia is bothered that the body of Dalvinosh Steele has not faded, given she knows it is a Tulpa. Not too far, Rhianwhyn Uvan, Countess of Lagos, leans close to Nia and offers her a cookie. She mentions it helps sharpen the eyes. She mentions she brought the cookies as a gift, but now that the host is dead, she has opted to retrieve it to snack on. Nia turns them down, especially after knowing how they are cookies from the Ruins Beneath. "I like how they numb the tongue... and sharpen the eyes." She also adds how it is strange to see how the Ork Ven die like they do. She expected them to just melt away upon dying. Nia learns Rhianwhyn was one of those who recognized Dranna Ru, given she was aware of the Ork doing their part to protect the Senate Hall. Nia suggests she ask "Brother Snake" to learn more. Rhianwhyn however does not like history. She prefers stories. She prefers Honest Lies. Nia scans the body of Sorio Rusu but fails to find anything.
The Vashna begin declaring that they found a Tulpa. The others look and realize the body was one of the Ork Ven, now melting away in the dawn. Nia is aghast it is still not Dalvinosh's body.
Cerani Eshu, Countess of Deresi, pulls away as windows slam open and the blizzard flies in. When she notices Jaric Thayl nearby and talks to him about the events transpiring in the area. Cerani wonders if her tonic had anything to do with what happened, how it has made her feel tremendously sensitive. Jaric asks what she thinks of the bodies, and Cerani just waves away the bodies as "Not Ven."
Jaric is identified as the Inspector for the Senate, a position that was prepared for him by Jalani thanks to her connections with the Senate. They begin to understand that many of the Ork Ven are actually Tulpa - though it remains odd that they are all dying at different times. Jaric calls for the wine to be gathered as well, given it is poisoned. The castle staff are also gathered for questioning. Galeo does raise the question of who would be the master of these Tulpa. She reminds them that these would have still been invited to attend by someone. Sentius Thali, a Baron, agrees with Galeo and wonders aloud who were aware that some of the guests were Tulpa. Nia wonders if time is wasted identifying the Tulpa and not focusing on the true problem: Sorio Rusu is the only Ven officially identified that matters. Jaric does stress however that there should be focus as well on the questioning of Madelyn Yvarai, who used to be Master of the Ruk in charge of a lot of Tulpas. Jaric questions her for answers and she offers that many of the citizens were Tulpas because this is part of a systemic elimination by the Spiders. How they always wanted to avenge themselves. Nia steers the conversation back towards to the death that matters, however, with Sorio Rusu's death being one caused by passion, beaten by a blunt instrument. A death meant to be an insult to his house.
Around his body, however, Nia declares they found an implement: a spyglass containing the symbol of the spider.
Many begin to wonder who would have a spyglass and Nia does admit it was a fairly common artifact in the other Shan'ri. A red-haired woman, Alvera Mwrr, comes forward to admit she is a Spider. She claims to have no knowledge of such artifacts, however. Jaric calls out to ask for Szaz Ashken. When no one knows where to find her, Jaric suggests to everyone to introduce themselves to those beside them. Introductions are exchanged. Statements are to be gathered from every member of the staff. Szaz is found and when questioned, she admits that her spyglass is missing. She does not seem to truly remember how it was lost. The storm continues to grow stronger outside. They soon learn Seran too does not remember the recent events. When Jaric tries to question Haroun as well on the events, Haroun deflects the questions with his frustration that he had hoped to enjoy the night instead of be handling an investigation. They learn that both of Jaric's parents have left earlier before the Vashna could seal the place.
The search for more evidence uncovers the following:
There is evidence of a struggle with one set of footsteps of blood leaving out of the room.
The set of footprints ends in an alcove where there is a hidden door, and on the floor, a pile of clothes.
As Galeo was meticulously observing everyone's outfits since the night before, she realizes that the set of clothes matches the outfit worn by Nia Jalan.
Haroun is in an ill mood, breaking a bottle of wine open by shattering its top, and pours himself a drink. Seran tries to talk to him but he complains this is all a waste of time. He hates even more the loss of memories he is suffering from. The loss of memories makes him feel his plans are falling apart, and since he recalls nothing of having confessed to Seran before his plans, he starts confessing it to her again. Seran is shocked to learn he planned this. Haroun does however admit he did not expect the deaths to be just Tulpa. He does deny however he was the one who killed Sorio. Seran shows Haroun the Compact she carries and explains how it supposedly works. Haroun wanted to get rid of the Ork Ven because of how they treated them back in the other Shan'ri. He rants about how inefficient things are turning out when it was simply supposed to be Sorio Rusu admitting to a crime, him serving the Black as Haroun's eyes and ears during his duration, and Rusu's family would be in safer positions for the time being. Haroun realizes this means someone was aware of his plans and have outfoxed him. He suspects Jaric Thayl is this person. But Seran tries to explain that Jaric is just being Jaric. He asks Seran to confront Jaric and learn what he really wants. She questions if Jaric would really turn against him. He reminds Seran to do her job and find out, or leave his shadow.
Nia challenges Jaric for having favorites. She reminds him that his brother in law is dead, and that he is too stupid to plan this on his own. She is insistent someone killed him to silence him. Jaric tells her he needs the wisdom of a Serpent. He shared with Nia his concerns on both Seran and Haroun's defensiveness. Jaric feels they are being played. The story was being given them, like an Opera, last night.. but this death seems like a discordant note. An unplanned twist. Jaric feels that they are being played but he would not have the Courage to accuse Haroun. Nia takes this possibility and responds angrily how it is impossible.
"If we keep friends closer than enemies, what more family?" Jaric admits.
Galeo walks up to Nia to ask her something at the moment Nia pulls at Jaric to stay by her side. Galeo tells them both she has information on the investigation. She tells them that someone has made a Tulpa of Nia. "Again?" Jaric gasps. Galeo hands Nia back the clothes she found. Nia stares at them and realizes it is a set of clothes she had from back in the other Shan'ri. Galeo however raises that the act of murder is so clumsy that it feels like it is trying to clearly implicate the Spiders, when the Spiders have the ability to conceal their identities with their Blessings. She implies that the one behind this clearly wanted them all to get implicated somewhat. Jaric asks the Vashna for the presence of the Duke once more. They leave to collect him.
Jaric shares to Haroun when he arrives that the death to Baron Rusu is likely not related to the deaths of the Ork Ven that were supposed to have died. There's hints of suggestion the deaths were meant to implicate the Spiders, and the Ork Ven were supposedly planning this - hence the use of Tulpas. Jaric does ask Haroun for answers and his replies catch them off-guard. He starts talking about the Olivanna Ven as being lost and mistreated, given how they welcomed the lost Ven before. He challenges Szaz if she truly sided with the right side. He reminds them all he remembers their names, each and every one of them. "Why do you think I would send Tulpa's of your foes." He admits, however, that Madelyn Yvarai's survival is a surprise. He was not aware she survived.
"Oh Jalan, do you think I would forgive you for what you have done to my wife? I was patient. Even as I saw you murder her, using her very Name to recreate yourselves as saviors. I would not be brash. I understand revenge should come only after our people were safe. Just as you used her Name to carry our people to safety, I am now using your Names to ensure our revenge."
Szaz stares at Haroun and realizes who he is. She realizes the man has all their True Names thanks to the Quill.
"Today is the day I get my revenge."
They hear a tremendous sound coming from the sky. An Airship crashes into the castle as the vessel once the Earl of the House of the Serpent dives into the castle they are in. Seran runs through the falling debris, evading the incoming doom. She tackles Haroun to the ground. The man possessing Haroun tells her one terrible thing, "So that is where the Temple is supposed to be." Seran screams at him to leave Haroun's body. Nia survives the collapse, buried beneath the debris. A chandelier nearly clips her as she towards the crashing ship. Szaz knocks Jaric away from the incoming debris, but gets buried herself by the collapsing castle. And Galeo evades most of the danger, but Hero with Casselanter is buried beneath the debris with most of it crushing his chest enough that he cannot scream for help. A light breaks into view as a door appears, calling for Galeo. Galeo chooses to stay for Hero rather than run to safety.
Some Vashna take the opportunity to commit acts of Vengeance upon the Ven, and one even murders Sentius Thali before Jaric's very eyes. Jaric wisely thanks the Vashna for coming to his air, feigning to have noticed the murder despite the blood splattered on his face, and commends the Vashna for their loyalty.
Nia knows the attacker seeks to free his wife's spirit from the vessel by making the ship destroy itself. But Nia grits her teeth as she climbs atop the vessel's deck and grabs hold of the wheel. She growls out the ship's True Name and pulls on the wheel to rise back into the sky. She will NOT allow the ship to be destroyed. The vessel bows before her will and anger.
Seran threatens the voice within Haroun to leave or she will hunt every member of his family down. He responds instead that he knows she will because she will ensure her mother will never ever rest in Solace. Seran finally realizes her mother is now Suaven and screams for Haroun to be released over and over again. The ship begins to rise again into the air.
Galeo awakens to see Casselanter in Madelyn Yvarai' arms as she tires to calm her down. Madelyn tells her that Hero is still somewhere in there and that Galeo must focus on finding him. She questions Galeo as they search for Hero that she does not understand the hatred and anger they all hold for her. Galeo explains Madelyn is a figure of legend and their tales speak of how she destroyed the Senate. However, Madelyn counters that to her and her people, they too are figures of legend. Galeo finds Hero's hand in the rubble, and as she digs she uncovers more and more and the hand begins to move! Hero may still be alive!
Jaric and the Vashna find the Countess of Lagos beating Szaz Ashken on the ground. Jaric calls for the Vashna to restrain the Elk even as he inwardly feels joy to see Szaz survived the crash. She is, however, bruised badly. The Countess breaks free from the Vashna and rakes her nails across Szaz' face to scar her permanently. But she will live. Interestingly, so did Errol.
The Althua ends with another Castle destroyed.
Jaric's final report is that the Duke Haroun seem to have had plans to poison the party, but what he is responsible for remains unclear given now the destruction of the castle. Nia counters however that it may not have been Haroun behind the plans, but it may have been the direct influence of the Serpent, the husband of the former Earl of the Serpents. When the Vashna come to claim the Ork Ven, Jaric insists Szaz remains under his shadow. Galeo, surprisingly, declares Madleyn Yvarai to be under her shadow. Nia warns her of Madelyn and Jaric even insists that she cannot be trusted. Seran declares she can take her under her shadow instead of Galeo, who has a child and injured husband to care for.
Nia returns home to find Dalvinosh Steele still in her dungeon. She sees he even has the tattoo on his back, signifying he is the actual Ven and not the Tulpa. They discuss the events of the night and Nia shares that he may choose to leave after. Nia asks if Dalvinosh was the man behind the.. events of the night. Dalvinosh shares their Shan'ri taught all of them the basic Sorcery of creating a Tulpa. Nia asks if Dalvinosh wed the Earl of the Serpent, Jsae Mwrr and he explains that would be Havar Mwrr. Nia is happy to know now the name of their assailant.
Seran and Madelyn set their terms. Seran shows her the Compact and Madelyn admits that she used the Compact to hide a murder she committed. Or at least was accused to have committed. They discuss the lack of Volcanoes in the other Shan'ri and Seran wonders how they acquired obsidian. Madelyn admits there used to be a lot of Volcanoes.
Galeo nurses Hero back to health. She realizes that the world is getting more and more dangerous with the Ork House, the Ork Ven, the Demoness, and more. Galeo wonders if Cherno might be the one she should find.. and somehow use Art to unify all of the Ven. The pettiness of the ven holds them back from bringing things to a better state... and Galeo realizes it is only thorough her that Cherno's art can be utilized to unite the ven.
Jaric tends to Szaz as best as they can, given the blindness that now scars her. He extends to the spider the invitation to stay as long as she needs to. Szaz considers sorcery to repair her eyes, and while Jaric's traditionalism still demands he turn down the consideration of Sorcery, he introduces her to her daughter, Jessie, who has been dabbling in them. Jalani and Jaric eventually discuss the role the Spiders will play in the coming schemes. Jaric, however, continues to stress not wanting to know about anything regarding Sorcery in the household. When he wonders if there are protections in place against Sorcery and the sort, Jaric starts coughing in surprise. More so, in the realization that she found a Volcano in his absence in the lands.
Seran visits Galeo and the two trade notes about the recent events, including the need for certain Vassals. When Seran raises the topic about her mother's slipping into Solace, Galeo offers to try and reach her using the strange ability she has to reach out and converse with Suaven. Unfortunately, Althea does not respond.
Nia considers how to map out political ties given Haroun's loss of title would mean they would no longer be under someone's shadow. She even weighs the option of having Seran marry Haroun to consider having the title be secured.
A letter arrives to all of them under the Shadow of Haroun Q'n. They are invited to be present in the Senate hearing. The high priests of the Suaven open the session with the Sunrise Invocation dedicated to Thalia Yvarai, with the prayers lead by the High Priest Talten Steele, Blooded of the Elk. The dukes give their welcoming remarks and speak of the Iron heart, of killing enemies as so they do not make allies, and many are inspired enough to gain the Aspect: Never Again Will We Be Fooled.
The Vashna then arrive, and give their reports. The gathered listen carefully to the matters raised, and some ven already consider whether or not this Season is the best time to raise their concerns. Galeo notes that they report Rusu's wife has taken control of the land in Sorio's absence. Nia notes that one reports that Haroun Q'n has been reacting violently to his "protective custody". Jaric notes that the Senate has taken Haroun Q'n's lands in trust in his absence. More Vashna report other matters.
Two hours pass.
The floor is opened to those who have been recognized to speak.
Nia comes forward to speak. She is recognize by her father, Orion Steiner, a Marquis as well as by another Marquis of the House Serpent, who was present in her Blooding Taltos Jalan. The last was a Duke of the House Falcon, Aldric Thorne who has devotion to Thalia Yvarai. She confidently walks to the dais and speaks about how the death of Marquis Lukas Q'n, and the previous request of the former Duke Haroun Q'n, the lands under Haroun's shadow are in need of a new Marquis. She suggests that the only appropriate candidate would be the spouse of Lukas Q'n, the daughter of Althea Thorne, and the discoverer of the new Shan'ri. "She is ready, qualified, and by right, deserving of the Marquis title."
The Senate considers it a matter of progression and recognition, and raises that a Duke must cast a shadow over the Marquis. Nia considers the Duke Haroun Q'n is still the rightful holder of the title, and thus can recognize Seran Thorne's ascension... unless another Duke chooses to recognize her.
A figure stands. Isolde Valar rises. Dranna Ru, Duchess of the Ruins Below declares she recognizes her. Two more speak up to recognize her. Galeo uses the Blessing from Thalia to remind Isolde of the favor she owes them, including her very life. Isolde calls for the dachanau, the dance of words.
Isolde moves to claim her brother's lands. She calls herself the Duke of Tamal. Nia admits she was not aware they were immediate family. Isolde counters they are all blooded and it is the family they are contesting. Nia contests that the lands are currently under Haroun who still holds it, and while Haroun is captive, it is under the protection of the Senate. Isolde still declares she claims it, knowing the Ven law that you own what you hold. Nia inquires what will happen to Seran Thorne's acquisition of the title, but Isolde admits she sees no need for Seran to ascend. Nia asks in the event of the Senate of not stripping of Haroun Q'n of the land, what shall transpire. Isolde raises the question of Identity, that there is a possibility that Haroun Q'n may not be himself. "Would it not be to the safety of the Senate that such a great title be in the hands of someone certain?" Nia counters that should those under the shadow agree, the lands of Althea Thorne can be given to Haroun Q'n instead. Isolde still believes that there will be no contest if the Senate unanimously votes that Haroun Q'n's identity is resolved. Nia amends the request to include that Seran Thorne be granted stewardship of the lands of her mother. She adds that Haroun Q'n had plans for the Province which are best to be furthered by Seran Thorne, Althea's daughter. Isolde however questions if Seran Thorne can handle the responsibility of two Provinces and asks if Nia can vouch for her capacity to support the two Provinces. Galeo unspokenly motions to Nia that she will send Seran a Seneschal if need be. Nia however does not seem to see that. She stresses instead that the lands of Seran Thorne already partly benefit from her care. Isolde Valar shows a scroll which tracks that developments have ceased in the last few Seasons of its development. She questions if Seran Thorne will be capable of handling the duties of a Countess. She proposes to forward Jalani Ballan, Blooded of the Elk, to take instead that position. Isolde pushes the Marquis to be Mordelai Igei, an Orc High Priest. Nia questions what house the Orc High Priest would be from.
Maja Thayl, Marquese of Rabbas, stands up and calls out, "One Moment!" Clearly, everyone recognizes her. Ammon Tammel, her husband, declares recognition of her. Hannah Silja rises to recognize her as well. Zsanos Yvarai, the Count of Kether, stands up and recognizes her as well. Maja declares she contests the claim and displays a written letter which she claims it is something new that none of them are used to. She claims it is a Petition. She shows it contains 350 names that speak in behalf of Haroun Q'n and attest to his validity and identity based on previous acquisitions, transactions, acts of punishment, cruelty and kindness. Listed are names of people who will seek revenge, seek knighthood, request Romance, and are still duly-owed material assets. If the ownership is to waived away, the 350 will have reasons to aim their attentions at Isolde Valar. She stresses to Isolde how this list of 350 people will not have to be her problem if Jalani Ballan was to take the position of Marquese. She asks Nia to name the contested lands and these are finalized as follows: Jalani Ballan is to be the Marquese of Paradigm, Jessie Jalan is to be the Countess of Kalien, and James Adrente is to become the Duke of Tamal.
"I hold in my hand efficiency," Maja Thayl stares at Isolde, ready to call for a Verdict. Nia quickly attempts to call for the Verdict as well, and upon seeing Isolde hoping to still speak, uses the Blessing Serpent Knows the Fox to crumble her words. Isolde falls silent and Nia nods at Maja to have the opening she desires. Maja smiles and calls for a Verdict.
The Senate agrees to the verdict of efficiency.
Another almost three hours pass once more as other issues are discussed. With some of them getting sleepy, Jaric ends up speaking out of turn in his exhaustion during someone else's topic. Seran gives Jaric a kick to stay awake. Galeo on the other hand ends up screaming about staying awake when the kick jolts her awake. Thankfully, the Senate let's it slide.
The final recognition is for Havar Mwrr, the husband of the former Earl of the previous Earl from other Shan'ri. He has, somehow, gathered recognition. Havar comes forward and all can clearly see his eyes are piercing and holding back anger. As he comes up the dais, he calls for the quill. When the Senators explain they do not understand what he is asking, Havar then reveals the quill in his hands and explains to them he wanted to explain the answer. Even at the threat of Insulting the Senate, Havar continues to explain that the quill is not an item associated with the hands of the veth. He tells them he has come before them all to declare his desire for Revenge. He understands he is the villain in everyone's tragedy, so he has come forward to declare Revenge on them all, unless he is given unhindered Revenge on those who deserve it: the Ven from his Shan'ri. He even clarifies that he will, if given that permission, withdraw his desire for Revenge on the Ven of this Shan'ri. The group realizes he may actually win this vote. He offers to the Senate the chance to make him their Sword. Their Agent. To do the things they would not sully themselves with, and in return he will "take" the Ork Ven he desires. "131 Survivors... 132 years of service as your Sword," Havar offers, "Do deal with the problems you wish to go away."
Galeo considers speaking. Seran and Jaric consider who can recognize her to speak. Maja shakes her head, having already spoken she cannot recognize Galeo. The others quickly scan the crowd for willing support. Geno Mwrr, an old associate of Galeo's agrees. Ryx Mwrr, a distant relative agrees to recognize her as well. But they need a third.
And finally, Havar even offers to the Senate the Quill. He tells them it contains the True Name of all the Ork Ven in the lands. A security measure of control.
"You claim to use Sorcery, and you will harvest the Blood of 131 Ven," Galeo speaks, finding the Courage to confront Havar. When the two recognize her, a third unexpected recognition is suddenly present: Cherno, who announces it merely with a raised hand. Galeo feels Compelled to say no... Galeo cannot accept that forever it will be listed in the Senate records that it was thanks to Cherno that Galeo was recognized. "Are you speaking against someone who wishes you to speak?"
"Under duress," Galeo gasps, "I am not rejecting it, but it is something that will weigh heavily on me from now on."
The argument moves back and forth with Galeo attempting to paint a scene where Havar is making the Senate use Sorcery, while Havar sees it as him handling the Senate an Artifact to use as they see fit. When Galeo continues to push this, citing Havar has yet to declare what he plans to use 131 Ven deaths to empower, Havar declares he bows down before Galeo who plainly declares to know and understand the power of Sorcery far better than him.
Galeo responds how they are all learned who have learned from their mistakes, and cites she learned thanks to Jaric Thayl whom she calls erudite in that matter. She stresses that the Quill contains the True Names of everyone who has signed it, and thus pushes that he is suggesting the Senate use something that is illegal. Havar says yes but then counters that given Galeo admits to having signed the Quill, she too then admits to having used a Sorcerous artifact. The Senate however seems to be siding with Galeo's words more.
In what seems to be Havar's final attempt to move things in a different direction, he publicly asks, "Is your Secret Name, Artemesia?" and he even pushes Galeo to feel welcome to strike him down as he is not recognized as Ven. Galeo asks the Senate for permission, but it remains silent.
"Then perhaps we should come for a Verdict," Galeo declares.
There is no doubting the fear in the air. The Senate sees a threat, but one that is willing to be under their service. They see someone who truly does have the Secret Name of the other. And the question now is, how will this end? After all, if he is not given Revenge upon the Ork Ven, he did declare he shall have Revenge upon all of them. When Havar even stresses that killing his people is to spare them a life of living under the pretense of this False Shan'ri, Galeo knows that the Senate is mostly in his side.
Galeo asks for a moment of prayer, and talks to them all about wanting a moment to consult with the Suaven. She fails to realize however that the others do not grasp that concept, given the Ven pray in Temples and Shrines. Galeo asks Havar to sign his name with the Quill, suggesting that he has to show his seriousness to serve. Jaric wants to interrupt given Galeo's claims of the Senate being progressive in that manner, but he doubts there will be many who will support him. Jaric finds it terrifying however that Havar keeps talking about literally wanting to be a sword. Just like Kyocera did. He suddenly fears that "she" can hear them... and he's terrified she might grant the wish.
Havar bows, accepting the decision. Having been recognized, he is to be allowed to leave undeterred. However before leaving, however, he utters the name Ikhalu. And reminds them all that none can gainsay his approval for Revenge. He then throws Galeo the Quill, telling her it would best remain in her hands. Galeo notices most move away from her as the Quill lands in her hands. She holds the Ven equivalent of mass destruction.
The Senate hearing is ended.
As the ven make their way out, Seran begins to worry that Haroun Q'n situation has not been settled. She finds the Courage to scream out, "But what of Haroun Q'n?"