Tuesday, March 17, 2015

After the Rain ep24 : Houses of the Blooded

11/22/2014
After the Rain

Episode Twenty Four
"Death/Revenge"

Houses of the Blooded

Other Shanri.
Seran has taken note of her captors.  Of the former theater actors and of the other ven who had set camp.  She has easily noticed how they are unaccustomed to surviving from the ruins and were not as experienced as her in dealing with harsh conditions.  When Amaras Q'n notices Seran has recovered, the two converse about the events and how Seran's attempts to inspect how others are instead are seen as her prying for the weaknesses of the others.  She learns that both Oandur and Amaras had Cursed her (through Sorcery) and that from this point on, so long as they help her survive, they will not make things worse for her.  They blame her for the events.  They blame her for bringing the city to its knees.  A greater majority voted to have them beheaded when they arrived.  Seran wonders if she's to be a bargaining chip for the new comers.  Amaras explains she will simply be a face.  Amaras has been studying her all day.  And now, she uses some Blessing to gain her face.

Back in Shanri.
Galeo finds himself receiving a guest, the Duke of Tamal himself.  The Duke James speaks with Galeo to discuss the matter of the ork ven and how there are many of their numbers who still seek to punish them. There have been over ten ven killings since the Wolves have begun to prowl.  James repeats the question, suggesting a second meaning to his words.  They decide to set another meeting, and James whispers to Galeo to please keep his father safe.

Barely mintues after he has left, Galeo then receives a letter from the Duke of Tamal.  The letter invites Galeo to meet the Duke in his carriage, waiting outside.  The vassals advise Galeo against the meeting, given the Duke is of the same House as the Wolves stalking her lands.  They find the 30 wolves standing guard around the carriage.  20 are dressed to look like Valets despite the Bloodswords on their sides.  10 are dressed as Personal Guard.  They allow Galeo to enter the waiting carriage.  If this is to be Galeo's final ducal conversation, she decides to face it like a Fox.  She strides gracefully into the carriage.  Deep inside, the Duke welcomes her inside and once alone with Galeo, James admits he does not know where to start.  Galeo realizes James looks terrified.  He admits he knows his parents would not approve, but he is doing what he must.  He asks Galeo for the location of the Quill, then warns her that they have "them."  Galeo realizes the Wolves have her husband and her child.  When Galeo offers to take them to the Quill after she is taken to her family, James admits that her offer was anticipated hence he invited her to speak in the carriage.  The two had been inhaling cyanide.  James already has the antidote within him.  "The Wolves have anticipated every advantage. We have them, but we need the Quill."  Galeo realizes they desire the Quill to secure their safety.   The deaths are but a response to those who fought back.  The Quill is to allow a bloodless surrender.  "I am not your enemy, Galeo.  We all have a shadow cast over us."  With the limited time, the carriage is to bring them to the location of the Quill, and the guardsmen are to protect them in the journey.  Galeo admits the Quill is not accessible through the carriage.  She reaches out to Quan Wei to allow her to visit the Temple.  Galeo tells Quan Wei a burden is about to be lifted.  A door opens to allow them through.

A child stirs in Nia's arms.  Dalvinosh stares at the baby.  He admits there is always something magical about a new born child.    Nia does not allow him to see the child.  They discuss the ability to mingle Rituals into a new Sorcery.  Nia wonders if this is similar to Artifact creation.  Dalvinosh would love to explain more but is not allowed to see the child. He shares the story of meeting a stranger in the street during an affair.  The man turned and that moment, Dalvinosh found himself cowed by the stranger.  "He spoke to me and scolded me with my own face. My OWN face."  They talk next about Seran Thorne, and supposedly her relevance to the events unfolding.  And the question of why she would be back in the other Shanri.

Jalani and Jaric speak over dinner.  She worries about James given the recent acts of the Wolves according to many other nobles.   Jaric teases that they always become "his child" when they're doing something Jalani finds wrong.  They also discuss how Seran was the focus of the Vashna recently while in their daughter's lands.  James on the other hand visited Jalani to ask if Jaric and Galeo were close, and how to make an impossible choice.  The moment she realized her son was trying to talk about something, she asked if he brought her roses.  James admitted to her the Wolves want the Quill, and claim to have Hero and Cassalanter hostage.  But they don't really have them, what they have is Jessie's experimentation with sorcery.  The Wolves plan to have Jessie tried for Sorcery if Galeo does not play her part.  But sadly, the vassals plan to testify and they know where the Corpses hide, including the ones that still live.  Their family is the one truly attacked by the House of the Wolf.

The two realize the wolves need to be reined in.  And taught a lesson.  Without letting them know this is retaliation.  Jalani is tempted to commit Murder, perhaps disguised as self-defense. Jaric votes against it, feeling that is still against Tradition.  They learn of Nia having sent an Airship to search for Seran, having sent Errol with others to find her in the other Shanri.  They consider the advantages and disadvantages of letting Jaric's mother know about this.  "Remember how we used to just think she was some kind of a buffoon.  Funny the things people who love the spot lights do, they can surprise you."

"Are you thinking of someone else?" Jaric smiled.

Seran approaches the camp of the Bears and other.  She walks confidently up to the camp, unawares that Seran had been exiled from her own Shanri.  She calls out, asking for the commodore in charge.  One steps into towards her, stopping the work on affixing roofs to the shelters, and pushes his Bloodsword hilt into view as he stands to address her.  They exchange words, with him trying to learn who she is and she trying to learn more on who is in charge.  "I am Seran Thorne, you may know me for I am one of you."  The man, Asha Rusu, is surprised to find "the Explorer" here in the ruins of Other Shanri.  Another man suddenly pushes past Asha to see her better.  The man asks Seran by name and she hesitantly answers given she does not know who he is.

The camp refers to him as Master Lukas, but he tells Seran that she might recognize him more as Master Errol.  The Bears ask him why he is called Errol and he explains it was just his title back in Shanri.  They confirm then that he knows her.  He stares into her eyes, confused to why she asks him why they call him Lukas.

"It is not her.  It is a trick!"

Amaras disguise falls as the Bears draw their weapons towards her.

At the camp, Liliandra and the others hear from Seran that if they just talked to her properly, she could have gone to talk to them herself.  Amaras is running back to the camp, screaming for her dear life.  Seran pushes the closest one away, then yanks the spike that she was nailed down to out of the ground.  She brandishes it as a weapon, then runs full tilt towards the trees.  The ground itself begins to snaps, like claws, that attempt to trap her feet as they move in accordance to Liliandra's command over the elements.  Seran runs deeper into the woods, and her captors decide to focus on the bears.

Watching from the distance, Seran tries to learn what she can of the Bear camp.  She overhears the violence committed upon the theater troupe and the other survivors and feels sad for their loss. She hears a voice address her, and she turns to see Count Kether address him.  She is told that he has come to collect her by the Earl, but he is told she is not coming.  She wants to try and fix what she can.  She asks for an hour to settle the matter.  Dalvinosh begins to speak through Count Kether, tells her that her words will fall on deaf ears.  Count Kether eventually fades away.

Seran doubles back to try to get to the Bear camp, the guards this time force her to remain at a distance with the archers launching arrows.  One grazes Seran in the throat, stealing away her voice with an injury.  She catches two of the arrows in her hands, a feat most people cannot do.  Eroll witness all this.  Hurt by the earlier impostor, however, he vows to end her like the first one if it is determined to be another trick.  The camp call for Master Lukas, which shocks Seran.  Lukas asks for a Bloodsword, holds it before Seran, and she sees this Lukas has Errol's face.  She drops one of the arrows, and uses her own blood to recreate the blood on the wall similar to their last encounter.   Lukas heads down to meet with her face to face.

In the Temple of Quan Wei, James and Galeo walk into the grounds where Quan Wei has been posing as Thalia all these years.  Galeo feels the cyanide creeping inside her veins, already making her giddy and light-headed.  James reminds her the antidote is in his blood.  Quan Wei's projection looks at the visitors, confused to why they are all here.  James begs for the Quill, but Galeo admits she cannot give it unless Quan Wei is willing to as well.  James admits this is wrong, and he turns to face the empty space behind him.  Robes fall, dispelling the invisibility that cloaked the three swordsmen that stood behind James.  Two rush forward to Galeo and Quan Wei, while the third stays behind James.  Galeo threatens them that if they step one more step further and the one who blesses the Wolves will fall.  Galeo considers using the Secret Name of Falvren Dyr in a reckless bid to protect herself, a name she had gained access to when she checked if the Suaven ever gave his secret name to the Quill.  Galeo's left arm is sliced away as she hisses and threatens to bring down their entire House with the use of the Secret Name of their very Suaven!  Quan Wei's projection loses an arm as well as the other swordsman strikes.  The two attackers hold, and this time it is James who moves.  He is forced to his knees as he tells her, "The Quill.  Galeo Silja.  This is the last time they will ask."  Tears stream down his cheeks.

A newcomer.  Galeo sees a Grinning Man in all black emerge, walking around the ven beyond their notice.  She hears another voice in her head, that of a angry old man.  You drag my name into this?    Galeo realizes the voice is Falvren Dyr.

A scream!  James loses his left arm as a Bloodsword cleanly cleaves it off.  The Wolf behind James smiles.  Blood sprays out from their wounds.  James cries out for Galeo.

You dare threaten the House of the Wolf.

A second slice.  James loses his right arm.  His face flushes pale.  His tears have stopped flowing.  His voice... gone save for one final statement. "Father... I am sorry..."

Galeo lurches to get the Quill which was hidden under the seventh step of the pedestal.  She begins to pry it open.  She can see her own skin turning red from the Poison.  She brings the Quill to the Wolves, but collapses as the weakness starts to spread.  Galeo staggers to the ground, crawls, and struggles to get closer.  The Grinning Man walks alongside her.  It is almost as if he was saying, "I know what you are going to do."   Quan Wei is praying, whispering for someone Galeo cannot hear.  And the Wolf behind James levels the Bloodsword at the young man's throat.

"Now," Quan Wei gasps.

Galeo calls for the Blessing to speak through motions to Quan Wei in secret and say, "I am sorry. I will try to drive them out as best as I can."

"Old One-Eye," Galeo gasps, "You are not He anymore.  With this name," Galeo mutters Falyrn Dyr's Secret Name, "I bind you.. trapped. I was not sent here to hear you. I was sent here to Silence you. I hear your voice not because I am blessed, I hear your voice because I was meant to hunt you down. Begone. Shanri wants you no longer."

As the words are uttered, the Wolves turn, confused feeling something in their blood.  The leader recognizes what is happening, or at least thinks so.  He swings the blade, but no longer at James, but at Galeo's throat to silence her.  It cuts clean, spraying blood into the walls of Quan Wei's temple.  He grabs the Quill from Galeo's dying hands, and stares at her and utters, "How dare you!"  Coldness.  Galeo fails to see what happens next, save for the Grinning Man who leans closer and closer until a light forces him away and a woman says, "Not yet."

*

Jaric meets up with his mother, Maja Thayl, and lets her know of the threat to her sisterhood.  She learns about the vassals that claim to have witnessed Jessie's acts of Sorcery, of Galeo's blackmail, of James' need to threaten her, and of the Wolves' desire to claim the Quill.   They know the vassals can be dealt with quickly, but the Wolves would be harder to strike down.  Jaric stresses how James did not even trust the Ritual of the Rose.  Maja admits James' fear is because he never studied it.  She promises to deal with the vassals on her own way.  They agree that the Wolf would be harder to deal with unless they bring down the head of the House.

Maja can learn where the Earl of the Wolf will be and Jaric can send his Spymaster to finish the job.  Jaric admits he is his own Spymaster. They realize they cannot visit Galeo to avoid and semblance of having planned it with her.  Cassalanter and Hero were sent by Maja to her "birthplace" to keep them safe.  It was also the first set of records she erased of herself. While the wolves will not know that this is a retaliation, perhaps the younger ones will eventually realize it.

*

Maja visits Nia upon seeing she has daughters, and asks for her help to deal with matters, and while in the child's room, she points at the alphabet to spell out A-R-M-Y and V-A-S-S-A-L-S K-I-L-L-E-D.  Nia leads her to a collection by Galeo in exchange for Recognition of both of the daughters as she asks what it is related to.  The hand points to the art piece with a map of the Province where the vassals live.    Nia suggests R-I-O as she talks about the plans for the Althua.  And the two talk about Rio becoming a full Vassal under Jaric.  Nia admits Jaric is one of her favorite people and so she will provide it.   Maja wonders why they were never friends, and she admits she did not want to take certain joys away from him.

Dalvinosh Steele arrives to send Nia a report. Maja recognizes him but denies that they know one another.  She leaves the two to map out their plans.  Dalvinosh gives his report and shares the whereabouts and activities of the other Silja, Galeo's sister.  He admits he spied on her and has learned she focuses on being far better than Galeo.   Nia mentions one of her barons is missing and tasks him to find out what is going on.

"You may have to see this," he suddenly mutters and shows Nia a figure watching as Seran walks away from ruins.  Seran stands in some kind of a camp.  The ruins are the other Shanri.  Their suspicions are correct: Seran Thorne is in the other Shanri.  "More than that, it seems you are as well," Nia catches and tells him he should include the information of such Tulpa in his next report.

Jaric meets with his mayor, Szaz, and after ensuring all securities possible, they discuss of a venom of a Serpent that does not kill but paralyzes the throat making the victim unable to speak.  He asks to have this administered to the Earl of the Wolves.   Given everything that has happened, Jaric admits it is time for the wolves to be taught a lesson.  "The Earl will live.  It is against the laws of Shanri to use the five Poisons."  The act is to be accomplished as soon as possible, as the Senate hearing has yet to happen.  Szaz understands and will time the dose to hit precisely when needed.  Jaric also suggests to Szaz to suggest to others not recognized by the Senate to consider having a home in his land.

Nia sends a letter to Galeo's sister to suggest about a sword she had found which might be of interest.
In the Other Shanri, Bowen stares at three figures, with blue eyes and robes concealing their features. One steps forward to raise its hand and waits for the Ork to announce itself.  Bowen makes the proper marks of their Gods and his position as "Q,val" among their kind.  The lead figure steps forward, his green skin visible and matching Bowen's.  The hood is cut in tapered in the shape of a Wolf's head.  It asks, "What brings outsider to Debanin?"  Bowen has not heard of the term Debanin before.  He tries to express this is not the first meeting and that he seeks the Ghosts.  Bowen expresses he serves the Ahlvees and now even talks for them.   One directly asks if Bowen can speak the language of the ven, and Bowen admits he can.  The man identifies himself as "One of the Vashna" and asks if Bowen is from those sent to the North when the city fell for the first time.  Bowen confirms.  The man invites him with them and that he is under the guardianship of Debanin Clan.  Bowen hesitates, and admits lacking a cloak.  Meeting did not go well.  The speaker admits the name Vashna was used for the ven for those who lost their status, but for him it is his name.  Vincent Vashna is his name, House of the Horse, and he welcomes Bowen to tell them of his people.  "Tell me of the others that we saved before."

The poison is slipped into the Earl's wine as he prepares for the Senate hearing.    The Earl is discovered to also have an unrecognized child, and as a direct act of retaliation, the child is murdered by the Szaz.   And finally, Szaz accomplishes it completely undiscovered.

Lukas forces the Bloodsword against Seran to keep her at distance.  He demands she say something only she would know.  In the corner of her eye, Seran sees the red-haired woman watching in the crowd... or is she.  Seran turns around, pulls up her shirt, and shows on her back, the tattoo she always had.  He recognizes the mark.  But when she turns to face him again, the red-haired woman is standing between them.  No one else seems to notice her there.

"You win this round," she hisses.

Galeo opens her eyes.  Death is closing in on her.  She realizes her head is on the lap of the red-haired woman.  The floor all around them is red too, from the blood that has fallen.  The demon strokes her hair and admits Seran won the bet.  "They have been reunited.  Now it is your turn," she smiles.  Galeo sees James still kneeling, with blood falling down his sides.   On the other side, Galeo sees Quan Wei's body, is unmoving, but her Suaven body is red and her lips are cracked.  "She traded places with you," the demon explains, "I thought it was a nice gesture given Quan Wei was trying to remind people that Thalia was still out there.  But now we know there is no one to receive her prayers. I think you are ready to be Suaven.  Or is it time for the world to realize no one answers for her."

She leans closer and whispers to Galeo, "Guess who he is praying to right now," she taunts as she motions at James.  Galeo focuses her eyes on the demon and starts rambling to herself about how tired she must be.  "It must be so hard not really having a say over what you do. I see it now.  I'll take your job. And you can take over mine."  She mumbles about hearing her pleas and that no one is listening.   She makes a final wish to the demon...

*

The Senate hearing finally happens.  Maja Thayl on the dais addresses the ven and Recognizes the daughters of Nia Jalan and Janine Mwrr: Rio, Thea and Gillian.  She then announces her willingness to Blood the daughter, Rio, to be recognized in full as a member of the House of the Elk.   The next speaker is a member of House Fox who raises again the concern about too many killings happening outside of the castles.  The Earl of the Fox shushes her to respond with a single word.  She says, "I am sorry your Grace," but the Earl reminds her, "One word."  She realizes she must answer in one word.

"Ven?" the Earl asks.

"..... no."

"Settled," the Earl asks.

"...yes."

The next speaker turns out to be Jalani Balan, the Marquess of Paradigm.  She addresses the gathered and admits she speaks on behalf of their son, the Duke of Tamal, James Adrente.  She tells them they are celebrating his birthday today.  And that he would be celebrating the birthday now had he not been murdered.

Jaric stares in horror.  He realizes she is going to accuse him in the Senate itself.

"I call upon the Earl of the Wolves.  If you are innocent, then say so.  Speak of your innocence or by the Laws of the Ven, I demand for Revenge."  The Earl of the Wolves, angered,  attempts to retort, but Jaric's well-chosen poison kicks in and Szaz' perfectly-timed delivery steals his words away.  With all seeing him silent, unable to say anything, Jalani calls for the Dukes to cast their votes.

As they deliberate, Nia Jalan stands up to represent the voice of a Dukedom and she finds the Courage to be the first to speak up.  Her defiant nature allows her to be first.  "As there is no defense from the Earl of the Wolves, the Voice of Duke Hors of the Province of Mekeni declares a verdict permitting Revenge to True Pain."   Dukes begin to share their votes.  The votes shift for and against with each standing speaker.   The Wolves however do not seem united in their votes.   And clearly they shift in Jalani's favor.

The voting is interrupted however when the Senate hall violently moves.  The building trembles and the walls quake.  Many begin to panic. Jalani focuses the attention by calling out "Jaric Thayl! Are you not the Duke of Tamal?  You have not voted!"   Jaric realizes with the son's death, the lands are unclaimed.  He cautiously responds that he has not been recognized by the Senate.  The forms must be obeyed.  Jalani admits he is right, and thus, turns to ask for the count of the votes.  The Earl of the Wovles is panicking as no words still come out of his lips.  In the call for good faith, Jalani asks for the vote to be moved until after Jaric is recognized as the Duke of Tamal and offers to have the Act of Revenge to be committed during their celebratory Althua.

She bows.

But Jaric alone sees Jalani trembling as she walks away, and stumbles as she steps out of the light.

*

Galeo makes her final wish.  The demon whispers that she is so proud of her for making that wish, and then bids James goodbye.  "I hope you realize what sort of Shanri you are leaving your daughter," she tells Galeo and grants her the wish.   White spidery webs wrap around Galeo as she slips into Solace.

*

Cassalanter stares at his father's eyes.  Somehow she knows what is happening.  A hand touches her forehead.  A small glow emerges.  The red-haired woman leans close.

"That is what your mother has gone through. It will take some time, but I cannot wait for you to avenge her.  Do not forget.  I made it happen," the red-haired woman smiles and remembers the wish she granted Galeo.   She turns and sees the Grinning Man staring at her.  She pulls away in fear.

Afhil, the Grinning Man, speaks.

It is you. I found you.




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