Friday, November 21, 2014

After the Rain ep19 : Houses of the Blooded

10/05/2014
After the Rain

Episode Nineteen
"Celebrity"

A dear friend of ours, Aina, had been wanting to play a role-playing game for a while.  We scheduled a session and had her try Fiasco (The Letter) and it was a blast!  We then got her gaming feet wet with Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space (Cat's Eyes), with Rocky handling the game mastering, and that was pretty fun!   After those two sessions, Aina asked for the big leap forward:  Houses of the Blooded.  So what could I do but grant her wish?  And best of all, tied the story to the ongoing saga of After the Rain.

Today's cast:
Oandur Bowen, Baron of Westlane, Blooded of the Bear.  A Builder of Dreams.  His skill with design and structure has crafted moving stages, transforming staircases and more.  His sister, Amaras Q'n, at times teases him for doing the hard work while she embraces the limelight.  But he does not mind.  He is not one for adulation.    His former lover, Cheska Valar, plays the role of Scarlet in the coming Operatic masterpiece, Love Is Crimson.  He hopes his Hammers (Valet) can help him deliver the most magnificent stage yet.   

Amaras Q'n, Baroness of Eastroad, Blooded of the Fox.  She deserves the limelight (or so she believes) but Cheska Valar, the woman who broke her bother's heart, has taken the lead role of the Opera.  It was the role Amaras wanted to play.  She desires revenge, but she is aware that her brother still wrongly yearns for the usurper.  Even worse, a new talent named Vyktor Krev plays the lead.  She desires to poison Cheska but has no Herbs to concoct such a thing.  Her brother, however, may have.  She owns an Ebon Knife, a gift from Ikhalu, who whispered yes.  The knife transforms any sliced Herbs into Poison.  

Ecco Uvan, Baron of Heindig, Blooded of the Elk.  Ecco and Cheska Valar have been together for three Seasons in a vibrant Romance.  Unfortunately for this Opera, however, Cheska's former lover, Oandur, is working with him.  Ecco knows Cheska left Oandur for him before.  He fears she may leave him now to return to Oandur.  He knows he will punish them all if it were to happen.  Ecco is the creator of the music of Love Is Crimson and has plans to ensure Amaras Q'n never steals the spotlight from his beloved.  Ecco has a tiny spider as a Familiar and a Bloodsword.   The spider roams silently in the Opera House to do his bidding.

Cheska Valar, Baroness of Solitar, Blooded of the Serpent.    Now the shiniest star on stage, Cheska seeks to maintain her fortune.  Her former lover, Oandur Bowen, is working with her in his opera and she knows he still hurts for the heartbreak she had dealt him (when she left him for another man he never met.)  Few realize that other man was Ecco Uvan whose shining talent provides the songs and music for this piece.  She is still with Ecco but does now feel the desire to leave him for Oandur, who always showered her with attention. Cheska plays the lead role and hopes that Amaras Q'n never upstages her in this grand moment.  She has brought  with her a vial of Hemlock, and has been a favored Actress by the Earl, Dalvinosh Steele.

And finally,  Vyktor Krev.  Blooded of the Horse, posing as a Falcon.   A grand young actor with unparalleled skill.  Few realize his acting prowess is empowered through sorcery: he has a Blessing called 1,000 Faces which allows him to perfectly embody the personality, mannerism, body language and appearance of anyone he has never personally met.  He does not recall to which Devotion his Blessing was gained. He also owns The Solace Compact, an artifact which when closed containing something of another Ven, allows the stripping of one specific moment from that Ven's memory.  He does not know who gave this to him as well.  His muse is a red-haired beauty named Liliandra.  She whispers sweet things to him, and in exchange for promises which she grants takes away the terrible moments and memories of his life.

There are so few memories left.

The scene opens with the lovers not quite... meeting eye to eye.  Cheska Valar feels the need for attention, but Ecco Uvan is too lost in the composition of a new piece for the Opera.  Ecco pens the Song of Sapphire, a vengeful, passionate song of blood and danger and so lost in his thoughts is he that Cheska feels slighted by the lack of attention.

Dalvinosh Steele has asked for a fateful adaptation of the original story, The Riddle of Blood, and Ecco Uvan has been pushing the limits of his creativity to compose it into Love Is Crimson, distilling the stories to the key events of the tale: the love and death of Kithranus Yvarai.  The Opera was to be grand, with real weapons used for all the fights (especially the key passionate duel between Scarlet and Sapphire that leads to Kithranus' demise), and even the strange guests - the Ork Ven from beyond the Mistweir - were to be invited to watch.  

Little did the actors know how things would turn out on stage.  The props which Oandur Bowen prepare somehow seem to favor Amaras Q'n more, giving her much more light and visibility during every scene.  Ecco Uvan would be so obsessed over the music, he would completely overlook these details, infuriating Cheska Valar more.

Schemes would combine with other schemes, and a spider would whisper promises.  Poison would drip from threads that Spiders then position over sleeping mouths.  And as the dance of drama and danger unfolds, the nature of Liliandra becomes exposed as the wicked temptations she lures Ecco Uvan and Cheska Valar with are resisted, and death comes to the stage.

The Storm comes.

And with the strong winds, Ecco Uvan finds himself tasting death... but not before Liliandra, in a moment of pure confidence and pride whispers to him her Secret Name just to spite him.  "It wouldn't matter.  You are already about to die.  My name... is Thalia."

Cheska Valar escapes the collapsing Opera house with Vyktor Krev, as they fall from the heights of the grand city to find themselves hooked by the infamous Madelyn Yvarai.  She demands from Cheska service which she relents to survive.   Vyktor, surprisingly embraces the identity of Kithranus Yvarai, her dead son-in-law, but the act convinces Madelyn to provide him shelter as well.  As the raging winds and water tear the city asunder, Liliandra appears before Madelyn Yvarai with a deal to make:  Protect my corporeal form and in return, she will deliver Madelyn to where she desires.  Madelyn chooses to find refuge in the Shanri the Ork ven spoke of.  And to make matters even swing more in her favor, asks to arrive there two Seasons earlier than she should have.

But sadly, these facts and whispers are truths which Galeo Silja, Nia Jalan, Jaric Thayl and Seran Thorne would have loved to have known, but they would be secrets that they would never ever uncover.  For as the Storm rages, elsewhere in the City, Galeo and Seran find themselves thrown back into Shanri in fulfillment of a wish requested by Lukas Q'n.  While the others brave the waves and soon find shelter as the orks of the Fenris House guide them to safety.

Of the theater troupe, Oandur Bowen, Amaras Q'n, and a host of other Ruk find themselves surviving the brunt of the Storm, but trapped within the Grand Opera House, to beg for food and pray for their Patrons to send them what they need to survive.  Even Liliandra, a red-haired servant of Vyktor who laments losing her Baron, fears how they will fare - will hunger or exhaustion come to claim them first?  Will the Orks stalking the lands?

And this they will remain in, for the many Seasons to come.

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