Tuesday, January 6, 2015

After the Rain ep21 : Houses of the Blooded

10/12/2014
After the Rain

Episode Twenty One
"Exilo Cherno"

Houses of the Blooded

There is a dark room.  The speaker stares at Seran Thorne as the Vashna escort her to the central dais.  A pillar of light comes down, encasing her in its brightness.  She is in the Senate Hall.  But it is empty of the usual Senators.  Instead, the Council of the Dukes have been gathered to convene regarding Seran Thorne's situation.  A female speaks and addresses Seran Thorne, speaking of how she no longer has lands and that the one who casts a shadow over her has withdrawn the land.  Among the Dukes, James Adrente stares at the other Dukes present.  He looks at Seran and remembers how much his father would stress they are not friends.  They discuss how one of the Serpents has been murdered and Seran Thorne is to be tried on the matter.  They ask her if she confesses to the act and Seran admits she did do it, although she is interrupted before she can explain the circumstances leading to it.  A Serpent Duke however insists she would like to hear Seran's reasons before on the matter. "If anything, a Serpent understands before it strikes."  Seran explains the man's threats to defame her mother's Temple multiple times and when asked why she did not bring this matter upon the Senate, Seran admits she acted out of passion.  The action is deemed to be not only a willful act, but one that spat on the faces of the Dukes and the Senate.  Seran declares she does not regret her actions.

One Duke, an Elk, asks the gathered if the matter still stands given the supposed Murder was committed before the Serpent was... a Serpent.  Another responds however that since the matter was still raised as a Complaint, then the Senate is given the task to settle it until it is questioned once more in a later hearing.  When Seran speaks up out of turn to defend herself and her actions, the Dukes once more see it merely as another proof of her lack of respect for the Senate's role in deliberating the matter.  Her contributions, as well as those of her mother, are raised however in her defense - as well as to explain her barbaric actions.  Seran is a Ven of the Wilderness, not of the Senate halls.  There is question raised on the other Ven who perished on the journey back from the Wilderness, aboard the ship for the former Duke, Haroun.  The Serpent Duke, however, admits that would be a matter to be discussed in the future.  She stresses the murdered is an Ork.  Dranna Ru, the Duchess of the Land Beneath, speaks up and shares how she knows of Seran Thorne and how she has attempted to save her life in the past.  She asks Seran Thorne if Havar Mwrr was Ven or Ork.  Seran identifies him as Ruk, as he was not identified at that time.  Dranna Ru asks what the stands are of the Ruk, and another replies a registered Ruk would be a Merchant.  Havar Mwrr is not a Merchant.  The Serpent Duke hisses at how Seran Throne has not only stripped them of one of their number, but has also stripped respect from the House.  Seran Throne spits back that if they wanted the Ruk to be recognized as a Serpent, then they should have held their Hearing sooner. Clearly the Serpents did not claim him back when he was threatening the Senate.

House Ork withdraws support for punishment, and that they are considering withdrawing completely and to give their decision by Summer.   House Serpent withdraws its complaints and recognizes Seran's heroic actions for protecting the Senate from a sorcerous threat.  The shift is unexpected.  Publicly, Seran has to still be punished as the Dukes feel the need for the Senate to remain strong in the appearance of others.  In truth, however, she is to be given a task different from the Vashna.  She is given a mirror mask to wear, which will give her both a new name and identity.  Her exile is to begin as soon as the session ends.  It is to be for all to know, and she is to remain masked under direct service to the Council of Dukes.  There are reports of a demonic threat upon Shanri, and Seran is to be the Inquisitor.  Dranna Ru's fear of Seran is proof that she is capable of dealing with the threat.  She fears Seran to the point that the artifact was given with the agreement that she will not threaten her any more.  She fears Seran so much that she wears her orks constantly.  Seran asks if she may tell her friends of the truth, but the Dukes remind her that she can never set foot in a Temple dedicated to Althea Thorne given she has proven herself to be too emotional in that front.  They question if she does not welcome the opportunity to be empowered by the Senate to hunt the demon that had taken away her husband.  Seran simply resigns herself to the duty, given she feels she has no choice in the matter.  They remind her she always has a choice.  She can choose death.  Suicide. Or true exile.  With the mask, she is no longer ven.  She is now an ork.  A weapon for the Council.  It is then revealed that the Council was behind the many spies that Count Kether had been sending to their castles.  They note Seran's attachments to Haroun Q'n, the seneschal Errol and Nia Jalan.  The Dukes require Seran to choose one whom they will allow her to contact in the direst of times.   If her identity is ever revealed, however, these closest to her will be punished.     Seran chooses Nia to be her contact.

They share how the former Inquisitors have proven to be less capable the more they were visible.  They task Seran to be a shadow instead among the lands.  They task her to also investigate the artist, Cherno, to learn who he is.  It shocks Seran that they know nothing of Cherno.  Seran bargains that the Dukes can get her loyalty, but the Dukes remind her that she is in no position to bargain.  Taking the mask is accepting the duty.
A faceless mirror mask is brought to Seran, and the opposite side is covered with spikes.  Once they had a Gold Inquisitor that grew proud and power-hunger.  A Bronze Inquisitor then rose to strip the gold of her power, and proved decisive and meticulous.  But the Bronze failed when matters related to those she loved.  A Crimson Inquisitor was then promoted to replace the bronze, but lasted the shortest of the ranks.  It was discovered he was concealing the threat itself.  Seran is now to be the Shadow Inquisitor, appearing only in the fringes of others' visions, and be heard only by those who know her name.

The mask is stabbed on and the blood floods her mask, and as Seran is reborn once more, she hears a name whispered into her ear... a new Secret name.  She is then tasked to seek out and make contact with her handler, Count Kether.  Seran makes a curtsey and is reminded she is empowered by the Senate to kill in her name.  Blame can never be pointed back at the Senate.  Seran approaches the closest mirror and sees no reflection of herself on the glass.  There is nothing but a shadow upon the wall.

*

"I am sorry, Nia is not home.  Nia left for the Meridian to inspect her new lands."

Galeo suspects that Nia is building Art using glass.  She notices the large belly upon Janine Mwrr's form and asks if she's the first person to be so blessed with child.  Janine admits there have been births in this Province and seems confused with Galeo's line of questioning.  Galeo brushes it off as musings of becoming a grandmother in a few years.  Galeo's visit in hopes to find recognition sadly has found a deadend.  Even worse, Janine asks Galeo who she is supposed to be.  When Galeo tries to explain who she is, Janine responds with  "You're the Fox that Nia says confuses her a lot!"  She uses a term that the orks use, "Tumagoron" and admits it is what Galeo is known as among the orks.  Janine admits she finds Seran Thorne too sophisticated, given her interests in Airships, Wine, and the like.  Galeo is starting to realize Janine is truly a tribal princess.  Janine shares they just recently returned from an ork celebration with all the thirteen tribes gathering.  She shares at a single word can have seven meanings.  The politer version of the name Galeo is called means, "She who's ashes can make one erect."  The meaning, she soon learns, relates to them witnessing Galeo working with ashes and finding her motions "exhilarating."   Galeo realizes the last time she was working on ashes was back while imprisoned in the "other" Shanri.  They move from the main hall to the garden to discuss matters more.  Carrow keeps the orks from touching Galeo, an act which they learn among orks is done only among mates and deific figures.

At the garden, Galeo tries asking how Nia and Janine met, but she simply cuts the discussion by telling her they don't talk about such matters.  Janine asks about child-bearing and admits this is her first.  Orks, she shares, cut the stomach open, deliver the four children, then cut the cords with their teeth.  "Four seems to be the minimum number," Janine admits and shares even how ven and ork have so many similarities.  The ork offers Galeo "zoom zoom" which Janine explains is made from honey and wheat.  Galeo receives the drink and finds the flavor surprisingly warming.  Galeo tries asking about the pregnancy and once again Janine deflects it as being too forward.  They talk about Galeo's art instead, and of the new child that is to be presented.  Janine admits she expects Nia will be more than willing to recognize the child.  Janine commends Galeo for adopting the child for the family, and when Galeo admits she was not aware that story was out, Janine apologizes that it was probably a story she was not supposed to be aware of.  "Orks talk a lot."  They soon start talking about how the orks have over twenty kinds of spices while the ven are used to using only eight.  When Galeo expresses interest in trying them, Janine hurries off to bring some samples she can try.  The smell of the ork delicacies soon waft in Galeo's direction, with salty and strange scents in the air, mingling with rotting strange smells.  Galeo finds the courage to try them, and she finds the intense flavors to be an exotic and surprising experience.  With each taste, Galeo's thoughts race back to her discussion with Jaric.

*

Jaric, Galeo and Maja are discussing the matters of the Sisterhood and the temple of Gaius Mwrr.  Maja admits she befriended Madelyn Yvarai in order to accomplish specific goals.  Jaric shares his feelings regarding the Mistress of the Ruk, and how the Fox has no good side.  There is no winning against her in a social area.  Maja however does stress as a Fox, Madelyn can be made to believe she is in control.  Jaric admits he made himself seem like an easily target to her - as the bumbling and rambling target.  Maja however admits that Madelyn's focus had always been Galeo.  When asked why, she explains it is because Galeo has the children Madelyn needs.  Maja shares her friendship with Madelyn was to force her to play by their rules.  Jaric, however, stresses again the woman can not be trusted.  Maja feels that without tools, pawns and puppets, Madelyn now believes she has no ally save for Maja.  Jaric worries his mother has overestimated the woman.  Madelyn saw Galeo as the perfect one to emulate, then later eliminate, to raise her children as her own. When Galeo ask why the need for children, Maja tells it was Madelyn's daughter who helped her achieve what she wanted in the past.  She would want a daughter now to attempt to regain control.

When asked what Madelyn has been focused on as Maja's Court Scholar, she admits the woman has been studying the Ritual to create Twins.  Jaric admits Madelyn has always been one to claim things as her own... including how she did that very thing to Kithranus in the end.  Jaric asks how she got back, and Maja admits she asked that very question to Madelyn.  Madelyn had sought sanctuary under Maja.  She realized Madelyn's appearance coincided at Winter.  Seran and Galeo returned from the other Shanri around the same time on the wings of a demon.  Nia and Jaric took longer given they used an airship.  Maja shares that Madelyn has an airship in the air, and when she came to visit the airship was her ride.  When asked where it is, Maja admits Madelyn keeps the location of it hidden.  "She does not trust the location of that even with me."  Spies failed to follow the ship as it always took to the sky.

There are rumors that Galeo or Jaric are building a secret Army.  The rumors come from their needs for Food this Winter.  Jaric admits he has far less to feed now given his family has moved on in different directions and having their own land.

Maja does admit it takes so long to make Cherno happen.  And whenever Cherno makes a grand appearance, it frustrates her that they always end up talking about Galeo when Cherno makes an appearance.  Jaric shares he wanted to find the old Senate house and had no expectations to get trapped there, or encounter a demon, or Madelyn Yvarai.  Their exchanges increase in tension and tone when the discussion shifts to the recent Althuas which had murder and events unfolding.  Maja admits she stole away to speak to the Mwrr sisters to speak to them of the name of the Demon.  She was just happy to have survived the collapsing castle, due to a red-haired pretty servant who helped her to get out.  Jaric worries it was the demon and asks if she asked or wished.  Maja admits she did, in fear of being buried alive.  Maja however does share that the Mwrr sisters had cast the Ritual and found all demons to be accounted for.  Jaric and Galeo insist the red-haired woman was the Demoness which helped Maja, but Maja stresses that all the Demons are trapped and safely imprisoned.  The Mwrr sisters have kept them safely locked away.   Jaric wonders if they cannot have new demons, but Maja admits if the stories are to be believed, the demons are the souls of the Sorcerer-Kings.  The suspicion then shifts that it might be a fallen Suaven or a lost one.  Galeo then shares that there may be one missing.

Galeo shares with them the existence of Quan Wei, and how she is speaking for the one who is missing, Thalia Yvarai.  Maja admits Thalia has always been listening to her prayers.  Galeo however stresses that she can talk to the Suaven, and mentions of the glowing letter on her forehead.  Galeo does clarify she is not the Dara, however.  Maja asks if Galeo can take her to Quan Wei.  A glowing door emerges in response. Galeo asks Jaric and Maja to come with him.  Maja admits as they arrive through the door that she has been here.  Galeo presents to them Quan Wei's tomb.    Maja admits she recognizes the place... and calls Quan Wei, "mother."

*

Nia inspects the objects the servants bring to her and makes decisions on where the items should be placed.  When they present her the Glider which Haroun Q'n gave Seran as a gift, Nia calls for the Seneschal to help her decide what to do with it. He denies that the glider was created with the same Ritual, and that no child was used to make it.  Nia however just thanks Haroun that she does not know for certain about this Glider's history.  The two argue between keeping it or throwing it out and Haroun does stress he is but "a servant... who will be very angry if it is thrown out."  Nia has him keep it in his quarters.  Haroun deftly reminds Nia that she is merely doing this to hold the land until Seran returns, but Nia reminds Haroun of the state of the lands and how clearly someone needs to manage it better.  Nia finds the island just as distressing.  More distressing than the pressing possibility that Seran might not actually return.   When Haroun questions such a thought, Nia shares the visit of the Earl of the Serpent to her Castle and the plans to make sure Seran is punished for the death of Havar Mwrr.

Haroun seems less worried.  He shared with Nia how the Serpents claim to call for punishment on Seran would mean the House supports the threat he made upon the Senate.  He anticipates that at least three other Houses would unify to block the call for punishment, out of understanding more the danger House Serpent is placing itself in.  "If they do not, and if Seran Thorne is punished as the Guilty Party in what is publicly seen as a threat upon the Senate by the House Serpent, things would get worse."  Haroun admits the trial is more about Seran Thorne acting rashly, and someone acting personally affected because Havar is probably a grandfather.  "The trouble with ven is we can't easily tell who are relatives since we use the Houses for names.  Not the blood."  Haroun even suggests that the Dukes would most likely have Seran instead serve them to some capacity.  Nia admits she did not consider that possible angle.  Haroun admits that the Dukes always never seem to want to admit to the ven that the Shanri they are upon was not the original one.  He feels had they just done so, things would have been far simpler.  He thanks Nia for the loss of the fear of Orks, but he does fear that this allowed him to think he can be the ork he used to fear.  He nudges Nia to turn around and they see a long line of roadmen approaching with a woman with a massive hat.

"Hello," the woman calls out and greets them as she arrives.  She identifies herself as Merea, one of Galeo's sisters.  Haroun admits they went out in the past.  She calls him Harounie and he introduces her to the "Lady of the House."  Merea admits she heard that Seran Thorne was absent so she has arrived to claim the land.  Nia asks "Harounie" to introduce her to Merea.    Haroun tells Merea that Nia is the Countess of both the Verge and this land.

Merea seems bothered that someone has claimed it already.  She shares that Seran has been exiled and that she was hoping to claim the land.  She asks if Nia would at least allow her to raid the castle.  She even asks if she can claim the Glider instead.   She tries reminding Haroun of the time they were making out and the volcano was actually what moved the ground beneath them.   Nia however remains calm, even as Merea throws light insults upon Haroun and Nia about how Haroun had two tries with her in the past, but failed to have children.  "Does he sleep with you too?"

Nia is then introduced to Merea's roadmen, personal guard, general, and other vassals.   Merea asks if she can raid the castle now but Nia deflects her claims to raid the land.  "How about him?" Merea then asks, pointing at a vassal at the distance.  Haroun sees Merea is pointing at Errol in the distance.  Nia asks who he is again, and Haroun explains he is the Spymaster.  Merea boasts about having her become her wine goblet holder.  Or foot massager.  She even recognizes Nia at last as the one who seems to obsess over orks.  Nia starts proudly explaining how many orks she has in the land, and even suggesting the presence of an ork tribe in this very region.  The idea unsettles Merea, who opts not to meet them and brings her to start giving excuses to leave.  Merea throws one last attempt and asks for the island in the distance instead.  Nia tells her that the island has a ruin from the sorcerer-kings and does not confirm if there are any artifacts or relics inside.  "We can negotiate the island."

Two more caravans are in the distance, closing in.  One of them stops and Jaric emerges from one, with his personal guard.  The other stops as well, and Galeo emerges from the other.  Merea recognizes her quickly and greets her sister.  Nia, however, welcomes Jaric and asks if he "brought his army as well?"  Jaric hears that Merea has a General and admits he feels honor-bound to inform the Senate of this.  Jaric stresses that the lands are NOT in dispute.  Merea stutters, confused and terrified by Jaric's frankness and starts withdrawing any claim over the land.  Galeo reminds Merea that it might be best she go on her way.  Nia signals Haroun to just go take the airship and fly away.

Galeo tries to deflect Merea's interest by telling her that there is someone single right now among them.  She seems curious.  Galeo shares that there is James, but opts not to explain he is the one casting a shadow over them.  Merea, she reveals, is a Spymaster for their mother, and her duties are so secret she is only to report to her mother once a year.  Galeo soon convinces Merea to leave, citing how much they love each other as sisters and how much their mother misses them.

Jaric then takes the opportunity to talk to Nia about something he deems important: that Seran taken someone into her household and wanted to make sure the world was purged of world-ending personalities.  Nia admits she has not seen Madelyn in the Province.  Jaric notices the island and is bothered to see it in Seran's Province.    None have noticed Seran Thorne standing close by, invisible to their eyes.  She motions her hand before Haroun's face, but he fails to notice anything.  As the three busy talk about the recent news of Seran's exile, Seran makes her way to what used to be her own Castle, hoping to find her Bloodsword there.   The three decide to walk to the castle and talk there.

Inside, they see the castle no longer has the many portraits of Lucas which used to dot the walls.  Nia escorts them all to the parlor room where all the portraits of Lucas has been moved to.  They find there that one of the paintings has a feather painted upon its.  The paint is still fresh.

"It looks so Cherno now," Galeo teases.

Nia looks at Galeo and mutters, "Galeo, I saw Cherno."

The three focus on that in their discussions, much to Seran's dismay.

*

"Cherno," Maja admits and Galeo laughs as Jaric asks if his mother is claiming to be behind Cherno now.   She admits she created Cherno.  Jaric asks what purpose he would serve in things, and she admits Cherno is an agitator.  He is to create works that create supporters who will bring change to the status quo.  Jaric insists on the dangers of change and reminds Maja she raised him to respect tradition. She admits that was her mistake.   Maja admits the Senate is stuck and struggling in the beginnings of its transformation.  Galeo asks for more information on Cherno citing how he has been giving people new mindsets entirely.

Cherno, it turns out, is bringing the possible thought that the ven no longer need the Senate.

*

Jaric admits his mother has very unique views on Cherno.  Nia admits she feels having witnessed Cherno's work, she feels her thoughts are clearer now. More refined.  Cherno was not the only thing she saw.  She used her great Wisdom and saw past Cherno.  She theorizes that Cherno's work makes one recount the experiences with the other Shanri and their own Senate and of Seran's banishment... how they banished her for killing someone who threatened the Senate... Nia feels that the Senate is wrong.  Jaric once again harshly defies the thought of the Senate being wrong.  Galeo adds that Nia refers to the members of the Senate being wrong, not necessarily its laws.  Jaric reminds them that includes his son now.  Nia's theory is that Cherno is Madelyn Yvarai.

"Oh Nia, you have such a strange sense of humor," Jaric laughs.  Galeo muses then how to kill her.  But Jaric corrects them that Cherno is NOT Madelyn Yvarai.    Nia recalls seeing the artifact, a compact which contained a picture of Madelyn Yvarai.. and recalls seeing the compact held by Cherno during the work of art.  An artifact that can make people forget.

*

Galeo and Jaric admit they've come too far and plans are now entangling into each other.  Maja admits they've already met Cherno.  The man has a penchant for wearing yellow and now lives in Jaric's city.  When Galeo asks who the man is, Maja admits the man does not even know who he is anymore.  He does, however, have this strange ability to mimic the likeness of practically anyone.  Jaric remembers the Ritual he has read about, of 1000 Faces, that was once used by certain Serpents.  Even attempts to divine the truth cannot see that he is someone else.  Maja called him Cherno since it was based on an ancient word meaning, "To Tumble or keep turning".  Galeo wonders if when the man changes, does he actually become those people?  Or just their likeness.  Maja admits the man once appeared as Galeo's husband, Hero, but he got one fact wrong: claiming that they had a second son.  The next time Maja saw him, he had changed once more into a woman.  This time, she did not know anything about Hero.

Cherno was always among each "act" as one of the "new actors".  None realized he was always there.  Maja panicked when he saw Cherno last because he thought it was Madelyn Yvarai who was standing in her chamber.  Jaric admits he has been keeping the man carefully locked in his City.    None had ever seen him leave for those... performances.  Not even the Spiders knew how to control or contain him.

*

Chero wanted the viewers to think it was Madelyn that moment when Nia saw him for some reason.  Galeo admits she is uncertain if a Blessing can counter the effects of another Blessing.  Jaric is unhappy that Galeo seems to be sharing so many secrets.   But as they discuss things, they are unawares of what his happening in the other room.

"Do not move. I can see you!"

Seran, the shadow, looks up to see Errol training his Bloodsword at her direction.  Seran had made her way to the armory in hopes of retrieving her Bloodsword.  Somehow, however, Errol had sensed her presence.  She tries asking him if he can see her but he admits he hears only strange noises and demands she move back or he will relieve her of her hands.  She leaps for her Bloodsword and reaches it.  She then leaps far away from Errol.  She discovers all the windows are closed.  And sadly, Errol stands blocking the door.

"Are you a demon? An ork?" Errol calls out.  Seran quickly considers her options only to hear Errol suddenly ask himself, "Damn it LUKAS what should you do in this situation?"  Seran's eyes widen in realization!  LUKAS!

She drops her sword and grabs hold of the mask on her face to try and rip it off!   Lukas hears the sound and leaps in that direction with the Bloodsword ready to strike.   As the mask begins to pry free, there is an eruption of pain as blood sprays from her stomach!  Lukas' Bloodsword tears her stomach open, and Lukas trains the blade in her general direction.    He sees the Bloodsword she had attempted to retrieve on the floor now, and demands for answers on why someone would seek to steal the blade of his wife!  Seran tries using her own blood to write with and writes a question mark on the ground.  Lukas stares at the mark and he kicks the other Bloodsword up to land on his other hand.  He flings the second sword to embed upon the window and lock it closed.  Lukas backs towards the door and speaks using the Veth language and asks, "Are you one of those Black hand?  Servants that have returned from the other Shanri?"

Seran reaches for the wall and using the ven language, writes: No.

Lukas stares at it.  Thoughts race through his mind.

It is me.

Lukas remains uncertain.

She paints a feather on the wall with her blood.  Her symbol.  Lukas recognizes it.  The unmistakable symbol.  He embeds the sword on the ground to block the door from opening and walks carefully towards her direction.  Seran backs away, uncertain, and still cautious.  Lukas stops at the puddle of blood, touches the blood, and as he looks up, he asks aloud, "Seran?"

Lukas?


Lukas is about to answer panicked words and a frantic attempt to know what has happened to her, but none of his words reach her ears.  Instead, there is a flash of red hair as a woman whispers, "Not this easy..." Seran turns to see the Demon standing beside her, and it whisks her away before the reunion can come to pass.  Lukas is alone now in the room.

*

Outside, Galeo, Jaric and Nia hear the voice of a man screaming out Seran's name.  Haroun feels a sudden burst of emotion that marks Seran's presence before it vanishes instantly.  Galeo panics, thinking of what Errol might have discovered.  Jaric and Nia hurry after the two, wondering what is going on.  They find Errol in the other room, calling out for Seran, begging that she explain why they cannot see her or where she has gone.  Galeo calls through the door, telling Errol to shut up.  To stop calling out.  Haroun shoves Galeo aside and asks what is going on.  Errol tries to explain what is going on, but Galeo keeps trying to deflect the discussion and remind Errol NOT to reveal himself or things will get worse.

"One wrong word," Galeo hisses at Errol.

Nia sees the blood and demands answers.  Errol turns to face Galeo instead as he tries to explain what is going on.  Nia and Jaric sees the bloody words on the wall.  They start to wonder if the Castle is haunted.  "They killed her?" Nia gasps.  "No, they didn't kill her," Galeo tries to explain.  Haroun shares he sensed her earlier but now she is gone.  He explains they had sworn an Oath in relation to their land.  Nia thinks that means she is alive, not a Spectre, but wonders what the bloody message is all about.  Errol admits the blood is hers.  And Nia is certain the Senate has done something.

*

Jaric cannot believe what Maja has planned.  Galeo seems to be okay with it though.  It is worse than a Secret Army.  Maja hopes to build a Revolution.    She believes the people will decide if it truly is wanted.  "Cherno does not control other people's minds.  Cherno lights a spark.  And makes the viewer reconsider."   Jaric feels Maja is bringing down more than just the Senate in this process.

When asked how Madelyn fits in all this, Maja admits Gaius Mwrr needs Madelyn.  There is something she knows that he needs her to tell.  He needs from Madelyn Yvarai the location... but when asked what location... Maja admits he will need to seek Gaius Mwrr himself to ask.

Galeo admits her ability to speak to the Suaven has been going on since forever.  Jaric muses that might be why she has not been making any art.   Maja admits she expects to be painted as the villain if it leads to Madelyn trusting her enough to give the answer Gaius needs.

Jaric wonders what to do next.  Galeo suggests they can try speaking with Quan Wei.  Maja admits she cannot have any plans with them given she will have to strip the memories of this meeting with the Compact she owns.  The same Compact that Cherno uses to strip people of the emptiness in themselves to fill it with some new inspiration.  If the memories remain, Madelyn may sense it.  Maja admits she plans to use the same Compact, the Solace Compact, to make everyone else forget Galeo's Secret name.  "The beauty of Senate hearings is that everyone who attends ends up leaving something in those grounds.  Something I can always use."

Maja hopes now they understand.  She only hopes they will do what they can to act better now armed with the wisdom of her intentions.   Jaric cautions her once more, however, given the things written about Madelyn Yvarai.  Friendship always goes both ways.  "She will betray you first," he reminds her.    What bothers Maja the most is the enemy they face is probably not a Demon at all... but one of the Lost Suaven.  When Galeo wonders how to deal with one, Maja reminds them the Suaven are alive.  To deal with them, one needs to find their bodies, that while in Solace ARE still alive.  And murder them.

Maja shows them out.  And they hear a clack sound.
Then the door opens, and Maja sees them outside.  She greets them as is she just saw them for the first time.   She thanks Galeo for letting her use the room and shows herself out.  

*

Nia tells the others they are to make preparations to leave in the morning.  Having heard from the others what they could share of what happened, Nia maps out an expedition to meet with the Steiners to discuss the vote of no confidence.  Jaric asks if they can investigate the Ruins in the Island with her permission.  He admits he is not sure what they are looking for but that he has an Adventuring Party to search them for him.  Nia asks Haroun if it would be better or not to appear personally to inform the Steiners that she wishes to join them in the vote of non-confidence towards the Senate's actions.  Haroun wonders if Nia is disowning her House.  Nia admits she cannot view the Serpents House the same way given the understanding now that the Earl of her House twisted things for personal reasons.  Haroun explains Nia's option is not a vote of non-confidence but to challenge the Earl's position, or to ask someone to challenge his position.  Jaric offers that Nia is not concerned about Senate proceedings at the moment.  "This is not a question of process."

Haroun stares at Nia, unwilling to share his idea just yet.

Jaric tries to share that there was a time before the Senate was reestablished that the ven functioned without it.  Nia suggests she can use an artifact she owns to force the army of orks that is holding the Senate house standing to withdraw.  "That is not traditional, isn't it?  It should go, shouldn't it?"  Nia asks Jaric.  "The Senate has recognized a House Ork, and a House Merchant.  The Senate has told us that Seran is in Exile when she was in truth, dead."

Jaric struggles to answer, agreeing there seems to be a precedent to these things.  Probably a third before the migration to the Wilderness once more.

"The Senate is not acting the way it should," Nia concludes.

"The Senate does what it will," Jaric mutters.

"But the Senate is made of ven and no ven is above the law.  The Senate has killed Seran Thorne." Nia hisses.

"Perhaps she has become Suaven," Jaric tries to explain...

"Then Galeo," Nia turns to her, "Talk to her."

"Wait, you knew about Galeo too?"

Galeo tries but hears no response.  Errol stands up and tells them, "We have to find her.  Find her and bring her back."

Galeo has a horrible feeling she knows where she is.

*

"Not so fast," the red head drops Seran back onto the ground.  She coughs as she tries to regain her bearings.  As she looks around, she hears the sound of groaning wood and hear falling water.  There is shattered glass, torn cloth, warped wood.  A man rushes to her and asks if she is alright.  Seran is shocked that the man can see her.

"Did you just find your way out of the rubble? This is the opera house, you will be safe here.  Don't worry, the Storm seems to have passed.  Food still arrives from the ceiling above.  We still have patrons sending us food, it seems."  the man helps her to her feet, "My name is Echo."

Seran's face seems to have injuries all over her face.  There are broken glass shards on the ground.  The man explains she is in the one and only Opera House in Shanri.  The Greatest City in the World.  "The Storm struck, but we are alive.  Thankfully, the Storm has left."

Seran asks if they know of anyone named Pyotr.

"Yes, she was one of our Sponsors," a red-haired woman appears and looks exactly like the demon.  Seran charges forward screaming for bloody murder, but the others try to hold her back.  As Seran struggles to attack, the red-haired woman intones to Thalia and reaches to touch Seran's skin.  Seran immediately falls asleep.

The survivors stare at her and wonder where she came from.   They do hope that food will be sent back down by the Sponsors soon.  It has been a week since they last were fed.





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