Monday, February 27, 2017

Alas, Such Fates ep05 : 7th Sea

11/19/2016
Alas, Such Fates


"Mirrors and Shut Mouths"
Episode Five - 7th Sea

Astrid Ivardatter has left the group to visit on the Scarlet Stockings at Penitence.  Having heard reports of the events there regarding the arrival of a bishop who supposedly tried to take the land from her people, Astrid hopes to settle the matters now that she can claim support from the Queen of Avalon, Queen Elaine, herself.

The rest of the group find themselves reuniting at a celebratory gathering which the Imperatice herself, Morella Alouse Giacinni, a Vodacce Fate Witch and l’Empereur’s third wife has set up at Montaigne. In attendance are a Hans Leopold Glick, Lady Cassandra, Duke Maurice le Blanc of Pontefract, as well as a host of luminary guests which include Adam Vide, Adeliadis Petronilla Fassequele, Sir Leo Aurele Gilbert, and Quinn Leroy. 

A few days have passed since the party began and Hans Glick stands at the balcony overseeing the hedge maze at the garden.  He always felt out of place in these grand parties but he understands it comes when one is close to the friend of the king.  Not too far away, Hans stares at the man who has been annoying him the whole night:  Sir Gilbert. The man is in charge of one of the towns and carries himself like a proud dirty politician, boasting about having connections, lascivious expenses, and he has been quite direct in talking about how some people - Hans included - seems out of place given they don't look wealthy enough.  To his surprise, neither Cassandra nor Maurice have left the table.  To his side, he catches sight of the two entertainers worrying over something.  The younger man looks to be in his late teens seems to be panicking over the boxes they have brought with them since the guards insisted they had to be checked.  He seems to be worried that the contents, which seem to be mostly glass and mirrors, may have been broken.  The father too is worried, but carries himself with much more dignitas and calm.  They two are confused on where they are to set up as well. Hans slides closer, hoping to peek at what they are concerned with and sees the lavish and ornate picture frames in their boxes.  He opts to approach them, offering to help, and the two quickly cover their things and explain it is too soon to look at things as they are not set up yet. The father identifies himself as Damien Eglentier and his son is Perrote and they explain they are presenting a performance based on their mastery of Porte. They stress they are performing this art with the explicit permission of the Imperatrice. As the two hurry off, Hans feels someone touch his shoulder.  The woman in a large dress offers a cheerful smile as she introduces herself as Miss Leroy.

Quinn Leroy and Hans converse, about how he is not one for parties, and about how they both share a distaste for Gilbert and his viewpoint towards things. They talk about the "recent" marriage of the Duke Pontefract and Leroy mistakes Cassandra as the Duchess Pontefract.  Hans however does correct Cassandra... was a Knight of Elaine. Leroy is shocked at the thought that once can cease being a Knight. It becomes apparent quickly that Leroy has issues with Gilbert that are more than skin deep, even to the point of expressing that "Wisdom makes one trust the wrong people. Horrible people who get you where you end up some times." Leroy suggests they return to the table, and Hans agrees.

There, the woman with the tallest wig in the room and turns towards Leroy and congratulates her for succeeding in her challenge: to bring Hans back to the table. All note how the woman, Adeliades Fassequelle, never speaks in any other language but Montaigne. She tells Maurice how her friends bring a smile to their faces and that the Imperatrice would be glad to know tonight would not be a boring night indeed. The conversation then shifts to how Cassandra is still a Lady but no longer a Knight, given the recent events in Avalon.  They meet Adam Vide, another one of the guests, who tells Cassandra that women tend to insult those that make them feel inferior, insecure or uncomfortable. Cassandra admits she feels uneasy here at the luncheon table. The conversation shifts in focus as Gilbert shares how the town under his eye continues to prosper despite all the rumors of a drought afflicting the area.  He shares how the raised taxes ensures the town will have the funds it will need to survive the adversity of drought.  The starving people will learn to be stronger.  "We do not coddle our children. Money cannot be eaten. Better they be given as taxes so the government can continue to function."  Cassandra warns him that using the money from the drought for his laving lifestyle is certain to cause trouble with the people. Maurice and Adeliadis break into laughter as Gilbert claims to take insult from Cassandra's words.  Maurice immediately speaks up, excusing Cassandra's words and both she and Gilbert nearly come to a due had it not been for Maurice's penchant for noticing An Honest Misunderstanding. Leroy is staring at Hans, and then glances at Gilbert, then back at him.  Hans chooses to stay silent.

The gallery is set up and the group has dinner as they talk various topics that often brush close into moments of insult.  Hans speaks with Leroy, who confesses to have personal motivations driving her presence in the evening's affairs.  The Imperatrice remains absent, sadly, despite being the person who invited them all.  The entertainers begin to hang framed glass onto the gallery walls which have been curtained closed.  Gilbert begins to flirt with some of Adeliadis' ladies in waiting, who clearly find his attentions undesired.  Adeliadis catches Maurice watching her and the two talk, admitting they've been observing each other.   She identifies Maurice as the Hero she has heard about who helped the Crisostomo family in Buche. She reveals a small book where she keeps her notes of things she has learned, confessing her memory is not what it used to be.  They discuss Nisab Guissola and how her works are scattered through-out Theah. Maurice claims not to know her and asks if she's a musician. Adeliadis is frustrated, wondering now if they've ended up meeting at the wrong order and she suspects the night shall end with her kissing him.  In the hedge maze, Cassandra finds Adam Vide and the two share the challenge to find the center.  Cassandra uses her strength to leap to the top of the hedges and keep making her way to the center. Adam sticks to his wits. In the end, they reach the center and find the Dragon, the Serpent, the Kraken and another beast cut from the bushes.  Defeated, Adam admits the appearances of things are important in getting what one wants.  Adam confesses his secret to Cassandra - he is actually a woman.
Adam Vide
(Janet Mcteer)

Adam Vide shares his story of his relationship with his brother, how his existence hurt his brother, and in the end, he created the identity Adam, that of a traveling storyteller, and embraced his new identity as a chance to begin anew.  His parents vanished from a secret diplomatic mission of which he was to never see them again, and his new identity allowed him the chance to try to discover what happened to his parents and move about in court unnoticed.  Adam shares how he needs Cassandra's help as he suspects Adeliadis is aware of something.  He wants Cassandra to see if she can get Adeliadis to reveal what she knows, if anything. In exchange, Adam feels he can help Cassandra in her... lie about no longer being a Knight of Elaine. He fells she doesn't show her "hatred" of her role in the past in a convincing way enough to convince others. Cassandra does express her distaste for people who impose a distinction between the masses and those who call themselves Noble, especially when they act the least what they claim to be.  The Nobility should treat their subjects better. "Perhaps only the deserving Nobility would remain."  Adam however asks who makes that choice. They agree though, that a single person can begin a revolution.   Adam asks Cassandra what drives her to do what she does, as he does things to find his parents.  Cassandra admits the word investigate appeals to her. She's all for the pursuit of knowledge.  There is nothing to lose by learning more. When Adam admits he's curious more of the bigger picture, Cassandra starts to find it suspicious that Adam is so concerned about her.  Adam shares its cause he believes true performance works with emotional truth, by drawing from the root of a true emotion inside oneself to make the lie more convincing. "Unless you draw from something true, your attempts to pass off your rebellion will be seen as false."

The Imperatrice Morella Alouse Giancinni
(Mallory Jansen)
Night stretches on and they soon find themselves to be entertained by the father and son from Montaigne.  The Imperatrice's arrival is quite low-key without any pomp and circumstance of her arrival.  She walks up straight to Maurice and addresses him as the Duke of Pontefract, and apologizes that the Emperor cannot make it tonight.

Hans and Quinn Leroy were playing a challenge of catch, with a glass bowl filled with fruit.  But when she sees Imperatrice, she puts the basket down and tries to say hello. However, the Imperatrice focuses instead on Maurice who admits, "It is not a party unless you are surrounded by people you want to avoid."  The Imperatrice gives Gilbert a scowl as well.   Leroy returns to Hans and the two begin their game.  With each fruit tossed, they throw questions at each other then take a step back.  Hans learns how Leroy hates Gilbert and how he runs things in the town.  Leroy learns Hans is traveling with the others due to common interests. Hans throws Leroy a pineapple as he asks her of her plans.  She admits she might want some kind of prank to make him lose face before the Imperatrice. Leroy then asks if Lady Cassandra is truly an Elaine Knight.  The fruit splatters on the floor as Hans flusters and admits he does not think one can stop being an Elaine Knight.  Leroy hurries close and thinks she can ask Cassandra to help her. "Lady Cassandra seems to find way to help people regardless of whether or not they ask."  Leroy admits she fears Gilbert might call for a duel. They agree the man needs to be punished for increasing the taxes four times since the drought.  The people have tried to take matters in their own hands, but they can't do more than complain. Hans wonders why Leroy can't come forward on behalf of them.  Leroy finally admits she is not supposed to be here. She had just snuck inside using the invitation for Quinn Leroy.  Quinn Leroy is her sister, and she has been siding with Gilbert - so the woman drugged the real Leroy and attended in her stead. She was hoping the Imperatrice would hear her out, but clearly she is being ignored.

The Imperatrice talks to Maurice about the many plots of land that she has gained in various nations, including Avalon and Vestenmenavejar, and her plans to raze them all down then have them build a new manor in each one. Maybe even have a swimming pool to relax in and the like. "But it must have fish. The kind you can crush when you're bored." Then she retracts that statement, claiming it is just a joke. They talk about the title shift, and she admits she's not too keen about it. As she calls for everyone's attention, people turn to them and listen. She thanks them for their arrival and claims to have an announcement to make.  Like her husband having her own circle of friends, she is formally declaring that they are all here to spread the word that the Imperatrice will be announcing her list of friends, "L'ami de la Reine."

With that, the gallery is opened.  The man, Damien Eglentier, shows an empty frame in his hand and explains in the gallery, the frames shall have a curtain covering the glass of each one. He reminds them of the following rules: a) Never give your names, b) You cannot be harmed, c) So do not touch the frames or glass, and d) You do not look away before you close the curtain.   The others wonder if it is a puppet show or some kind of magic trick.  Gilbert reprimands the man for talking to the Imperatrice directly and reminds him to know his place.  Damien is rebuked.  Hans comes forward, offering to be the one to handle the talking. Damien asks Hans to invite the Imperatrice to begin.  Not certain if they trust the man, and knowing the gallery supposedly uses Porte, the Imperatrice asks Hans to go first.   The Imperatice looks at Maurice, admitting she finds the man ruggedly exciting.  "Tighten my corset, Maurice.."

As they slowly step inside one by one, they are given white gloves to wear and are reminded not to give their names.  Inside, they find the frames of glass and upon lifting the curtain, they find faces looking back at them.  Hans asks the son, Perrote whom he finds inside, what happened to the frame the broke.  Perrote runs away in fear.  Each of them find interesting interactions with the Deceased, people who did not survive horrible circumstances in their lives.  "People who did not move on. Souls."  Hans hopes to speak with a historical figure.  Cassandra asks if there is any former Knight of Avalon.  Maurice wonders if they are trapped souls and Damien confesses they are willing volunteers. He examines the closest one and finds the frame not connected to the rear.  He can, however, sense Porte magic at work!    As they speak to the face in the glass, Damien wears a veil over his face - claiming it is a necessary part of the ritual that only one face can be seen.

Hans speaks with the historical figure, and the face with red vibrant hair, cracked dry skin, claims to be the soul of the Captain Reis.  He claims to be lost in the depths and that it was not the sea that took him but the great beast, a Maw unlike any other. He claims Hans is the ghost in the frame and that he is alive and well, although he misses the sea and his freedom. He claims to have seen strange white mountains rising from the sea then the waters churning and endless darkness until a voice lured him away, and promised him peace in exchange for a few questions. He was told he would be allowed to leave when there have been enough.  He claims to recognize Hans, finding him familiar as someone who has been to the sea.  He asks if he is known among the people.  Hans admits it is remembered by those whom have been victimized by him.  This Captain, however, does not seem to understand what that means.  He tries speaking to a new face and asks for a woman who is from Eisen.  The woman in the frame speaks to him in Eisen, and looks around worriedly.  She claims to have been a victim of the Ebon Doctor one late evening. Something was forced into her throat, making her numb and the Ebon Doctor took her away. The woman suddenly proclaims she made a mistake and now claims it was the Schattenmann who hunts for her.  Hans wonders if the woman just ended up reading the wrong script. Hans asks her, in Eisen, to blink twice if she's being held captive.  The woman does not do so however.  She does tell Hans the time is up and that he must go.

Cassandra speaks with a bald man with an eye patch and a full growth of a beard. He wears a high collar and gives a sinister feel. He claims to be Eadric Croft, former Knight of Wilfrith, and asks how he can be of service. He claims to not know how he died as he was Blessed with the Endless Vigil and has always - each time he dies - been reborn. He does not know why he is here, but senses it may be because she has questions that only he can answer.  The face claims to be comfortable, but he feels slightly distressed to be uncertain where he is. He talks about Cold Water Bay and his desire to be there again.  Cassandra asks if he knows how to get out, and if he knows who has entrapped him, but he seems calm despite the confusion.  He does not believe himself to be trapped. He recognizes her to be one of their rivals, as she is not of Inismore nor the Highlands. He does not believe the King of Inishmore, Jack O' Bannon would be amused to see him speaking to her. He claims to be loyal to King Elilodd and Cassandra realizes that is the King that ruled before Elaine. He shares his life story and how he embraced his duty as a Knight of the Grail despite the trials he was made to face in his years. For years, Eadric protected Cold Water Bay from raiders, as a "ghost" in the water that fought any that came. He does not recall the final blow that ended his life, but he can remember the feeling of the Grail withdrawing its Blessings upon them. All twenty of them knights sensed the Grail's power deserting them.  Cassandra asks who taught him to fight. Eadric tells him Death was what taught him to fight. "Each failure allowed me to learn from my mistakes and rise up again ready to fight." These stories seem to connect with the stories Flynn has told her, that the Knights are of the Grail, not of Elaine.  And that one must stay true to the tenets of the knighthood.

Maurice realizes all the frames are possibly Blooded.  He wonders if they are all open portals.  He asks for a Sorcier trained in the Arts of Porte. Damien leads him to one and he sees a man looking around.  The man gasps and calls out, claiming to be lost and hoping someone can see him.  He states he is not sure if he can trust them, and begs Maurice to find a vault where he left a Blooded pen.  He asks Maurice to help, believing if he answers enough questions, he will find his way out.  He claims his last Mark is the pen, locked in the vault.   Maurice rips the veil off Damien's face and demands he explain what is going on here. Damien closes the curtain at the frame and the voice goes silent with the curtain returned.  Maurice rushes out to head to the Imperatrice, but Damien runs alongside him trying to explain it is merely a show... an illusion... an entertainment meant to frighten, then amuse.  Maurice feels it is a twisting of the Noble Art of Porte.

Cassandra asks Eadric what one does if one slips into Corruption and he reminds her there is always Confession.  To draw strength from fellow Knights.  To do penance.  And as he leaves, fading, to her surprise, a face stares at her from inside the frame and proclaims, "Hello? You were looking for a knight? I am a knight of the Queen Elaine, Sir... Annenor."  The man claims to be the greatest knight among them and that only the knights know the truth.  Cassandra wonders however who was the one he was talking to earlier.

Damien confesses to Maurice that the faces are all well-trained actors.  That even his son does not know the truth yet.  Damien explains there is a place where the sixteen actors play their roles and when Maurice insists he be shown this room, Damien decides to allow him a glimpse. "Please never reveal our secret to anyone."   Damien pulls out a book, and on its cover, "The Magician's Tome" is embossed. He opens it to a bloody mark and they are Porte'd away.   True enough, the room exists.  Damien does not lie.  Sixteen actors prep and stand ready to hear what the next person asks for.    Maurice hears one actor frustrated with herself that she read the Sarmatian script rather than the Eisen one.  He overhears another who seems spooked that his "client" seemed to already be talking to someone even before he began. He searches for the Sorcier who spoke with him and finds the man drinking tea and looking at him guilty.  The man apologizes profusely for the ruse, claiming he always wanted to be Porte but never learned it.  Damien tells him they all have scripts they follow for the most dramatic effect - especially those based on authentic tragedies that have happened for more realism.    They all go silent as they realize another client has arrived and await to hear what role they must quickly perform once the curtain rises.

Back at the party, the people excitedly share their stories. The Imperatrice quietly waits for Hans to return, and after finding it too long, she announces her desire to go in.  Hans checks on Leroy and Gilbert and finds them preoccupied with their stories.  Adeliadis gets more wine, unwilling to step inside. The Imperatrice insists to go inside, claiming she will be safe as her "dear friend" Maurice is inside.  But before she can step inside, Perrote yells at her to wait and explains only one person can go in at a time. The Imperatrice complains, stating she knows this is all just for fun.  Cassandra warns it might be more than that. Seeing Cassandra's reaction, she asks her if it is really that good. She asks for Hans' axe, and Hans hands it over without hesitation.  But she realizes how heavy it is and hands it back to him.  As she steps inside, she asks the boy for the rules.  Adeliadis hisses out that the boy should let her scare herself silly!  Cassandra offers to go inside to get her companion out, and ducks inside after the Imperatrice.

The raised curtain has an actor quickly sit before the portal to pose as the ghost. They see the Imperatrice at the other side, asking if anyone is there. Maurice is disturbed at how they have accomplished this mockery of Porte, and the dangers of having so many portals open at the same time.  They remind him there is only two portals open at a time, creating a window to look through.  They claim to have never accidentally created Blessures.  The Imperatrice declares she's the Imperatrice and without her gloved hand, she touches the glass and tells Cassandra not to worry as she didn't say her name is Morella.  Cassandra shuts the curtain and tells Imperatrice that she needs to knows the rules before they proceed.  Gilbert joins inside and tells Cassandra to know her place, but Cassandra reminds the Imperatrice that Gilbert doesn't know the rules.  Gilbert is forced to step back outside.  Cassandra is tasked for find a pair of gloves the Imperatrice can use, then Hans is asked to bow and kiss the Imperatrice's hand before allowing him to leave her side.

At the room, they panic as they were all planning to pose as the spirit of the Emperor's ex-wife, and none of them prepared for it. Maurice doesn't feel right at the thought of maintaining this ruse.  And when a different curtain is raised, the same actress is revealed.  The actress claims she recognizes the Imperatrice as the woman who has stolen her husband.  The Imperatrice asks who the woman standing beside her is.  The actress claims she does not know who she is.  Then the Imperatrice begins asking more personal questions as if to test her veracity.  Hans, however, has walked the length of the gallery and realized Maurice is missing.  Neither is Adeliadis.  Quinn is peering into a door nervously, and shoves against it as a muffled scream suddenly erupts from within!  Hans rushes to Quinn's side and Quinn explains she saw the young boy, Perrote, enter the room, and the sound of shattering glass came from here. Adeliadis ran inside to check.   Hans tells Quinn to move aside and steps inside to see glass shards on the floor, Adeliadis not too far, pinning down Perrote with her own weight.  The boy's body, however, is impossibly arched that his head and his ankles are the only things touching the ground under Adeliadis!  Adeliadis sees Hans and yells at him in Old Thean to help her! She claims the boy was convulsing on the ground and she's been trying to hold him steady to use her medicine skills, but she does not know how the boy is doing what he is doing that moment.

Hans rushes forward to try to hold the boy down, but the boy's strength seems unnaturally strong. Adeliadis shoves the boy's mouth open to try to find if there is anything in his mouth, but it seems all clear. The boy, whose eyes are open the whole time, begins to yell out, "Hell..." as his wrists swing at Hans. Hans plants his entire weight to try and keep the boy down, despite the battery. But Hans begins to realize at that point the boy's screams are actually saying, "HELP ME!"  The boy whips Hans back and starts to stagger and stand.  The boy cries out beginning for them to find his father, to help him, but then the boy's own hand clamps down to shut him up.  It is as if the boy was being possessed by something that cannot control his mouth.  Hans tears off the curtain nearby and whips it around the boy to restrain him.  Adeliadis draws a pistol out from under her skirt, but Hans waves her down from firing it. But suddenly, the cloth drops to the ground, empty.

And a scream erupts from outside the room.

The Imperatrice, unawares of the events, continues to ask the mirror about her fortunes.  The woman in the mirror continues to panic, wondering how to answer her questions.  Cassandra tries to distract the Imperatrice as the noblewoman wonders if the face is truly the ex-wife. Maurice whispers to the actress to tell the Imperatrice that, "It will be fabulous.  It will be something they have not tired."  The Imperatrice wonders if it will be more unique than the time with the peacock feathers, or the time with the squid, or the time with the piranha in the barrel.   That moment, Cassandra and Maurice both hear a scream erupting not too far away.  The second scream erupts from the very room just outside  the gallery! Cassandra and Gilbert both draw their swords.  Maurice demands to the father that he take him back.  Damien insists his son can bring him back.. but then he realizes his son is missing!  Maurice now worries how he can get back.

Gilbert points his blade at Cassandra, demanding she sheath her weapon before the Imperatrice.  Cassandra admits he does not trust her.  Gilbert declares her unworthy to stand in her presence.  The Imperatrice sends Gilbert out, and admits she feels safer alongside this Knight of Elaine. The Imperatrice touches Cassandra's arm gingerly, whispering she is good with keeping things secret. Maurice creates a portal to head back, dragging Damien with him.  He emerges before Cassandra and the Imperatrice, using the Blood mark he has upon Cassandra.   Then a gunshot rings outside!

They rush outside to see one of the larger tables shattered in pieces, with the debris all upon the door, pinning it closed.  Inside, Hans hurries to find another way out of the room.  Perrote spins, arms flailing like a unthethered puppet, as he strikes down Gilbert with his dead weight fists.  The whole time, Perrote keeps screaming, "Please! I cannot see anything! I cannot feel where I am!  Help! Father!!!" The heroes feel the supernatural Fear emanating from the boy. Leroy Quinn is nowhere to be seen. Hans emerges from another corridor, having found a way out, and he charges forward to tackle the boy from behind.  Cassandra, hearing the boy's voice, yells at Hans to help her hold the boy down.  Cassandra is unable to hold him down, however, as the boy plants a wild elbow against her face. Hans tackles the boy mid-air, but the boy suddenly spins and strikes across the monster hunter's chest with the shard of glass in his hand, raking open his skin.  Maurice sees Hand drop to the ground, bleeding from the slash.  He tells the Imperatrice to stay in the gallery, to stay safe, and they back away from the room. Damien hurries out and sees Perrote and as he calls out, Perrote turns to face him with the bloody shard still in his hand.  Perrote starts screaming, calling for his father to help him as Hans tries to lock the boy in a chokehold.  Cassandra asks the father what is happening, and Damien admits he himself has no idea what has happened. Hans runs Perrote against the wall, to try and prevent him from escaping. The head turns to face Hans, with the bones under the skin straining against the flesh as it stares at him, and the body clambers up the wall to jump over Hans and land on the ground. Cassandra fights against the fear and using the bowl of fruit, she begins hurling the fruits at the boy to try to distract it. But even with the fruit assault, the boy cartwheels to land where the father it, and in a single stroke, a red line emerges across his throat.  Cassandra screams, and she yanks off her sash to try to stem the bleeding. Perrote continues to scream, "Dad! Where are you? Father!!!" completely unawares his body has just murdered his father.  Cassandra calls out, "LeBlanc!"

The cries reach Maurice, who has been bringing Imperatrice towards the nearest exit to get out safely.  As he returns, he sees Cassandra on the ground, holding the weakening father even as Perrote closes in from behind.  She activates the Endless Vigil to better defend the man. Hans grabs the metal bowl and he rushes up and swats down with the bowl at the boy's hand to disarm the glass shard. Maurice rushes back in with his sword drawn. The glass shard shatters upon impact as Hans times the strike perfectly.  Perrote turns his head to face him, rising back up to a standing position despite the impossibility of his motions.  "Find me.. father... where are you all? Why can't  I hear any of you? See any of you?" the boy continues to scream in panic.  A hand reaches up to claw at the face to shut the mouth again.  The figure faces Maurice, then gives an almost royal bow, but suddenly a rip strikes the sky and blood tears upon into a Blessure!  Maurice gasps, "No no no no!" but the boy then cartwheels backwards into the Blessure.  Maurice runs after him!  Hans tries running after him too, and shuts his eyes knowing he shouldn't keep them open.  Adeliadis knees beside Cassandra, asking her to make a Pinky swear for her. "This never happened," she tells Cassandra and she runs her hand across the father's neck.  The wound suddenly just closes.  Adeliadis then mutters back in Montaigne, "Well, this was a very interesting party."  She steps back as if she had done nothing.  Cassandra sees Maurice and Hans leaping into the Blessure and vanish. Leroy appears from under a table, and she worriedly asks Cassandra if more will come.  The door then slams open as the armored guards march in and demand all drop their weapons.  Cassandra realizes they are the Imperatrice's guards.  She closes her eyes and leaps into the portal after the two.

The three land in the other place. Like before, Maurice risks opening his eyes and sees the world as a dance of heat and light.  He searches for the source of the Blessure and finds Perrote cartwheeling away.  Hans suddenly emerges through the Blessure and Maurice grabs hold of him and pulls him to him.  "You fool!"  Holding him close, he sees Cassandra closing in as well so he tries to shut it closed before she gets through.  But she stumbles inside before he closes it completely.  "Why are you both here..."  At the distance, all three can hear voices of other things moving closer.  Maurice berates them for jumping inside and tells them the boy has vanished somewhere in the Walkway.  They instead have to get out.  The silhouettes and shadow figures begin to close in.  Perrote tears open another Blessure and exits.  "What is the point of all this if we don't go after the kid?" Cassandra cries out.  Estimating the distance, Maurice yells at them to stay in place and he starts running with his eyes closed.  Cassandra and Hans stay close to each other, hearing the voices get closer and closer. They begin to feel other hands tugging at them. Holding them. Whispering to them that it is safe. That it is alright to open their eyes. Hans wishes there was a secret word they shared to truly inform the others it is really safe.   Maurice reaches the Blessure, feeling its presence near him, and he tears open another vein to seal the Blessure upon the world.  A silhouette close to Maurice whispers, "We've met before. We know your face. We know your name."  Maurice turns around and runs back, hearing the voices attempting to convince him stay with them. "We will find her, bearer of the Cross, we will find her and remind you how you did not help us. Wear already among your society."

Another voice reaches Cassandra's ear. "You have been chosen to embody me.  Will you accept this honor and role? Will you live up to this Gesa?"  Cassandra keeps silent, not wanting to trust the voices.  "It is all right Cassandra, your fear is understandable. Elaine's fear is understandable." She realizes the voice was of the man in the mirror, "The Grail has been abused and things shall be righted. It is time for Glamour to change. "

Maurice gets back to the two, and the shadows are all around them.  Without any time to waste, Maurice tears open a portal to head home.  He grabs hold of the two to guide them as they Walk through.  The shadows yell and cry for them to wait.  To stay.  And others beg for help.  Not to be left behind.  Hans and Cassandra emerge at the Blood Mark at Avalon, being the only Blood Mark Maurice remembers to use that moment: The blood mark on his "wife,"  the Duchess Sybil.  Maurice passes out as the others realize they're in the waiting chamber of the Duchess.  She recoils upon seeing Maurice's bloody body and calls for her servants to care for him.  Maurice mumbles a reminder to his friends to never walk into a Blessure.  "Especially you... because you are my Mark."  Cassandra tells him to just rest. Hans hurriedly writes a report for Die Kreuzritter.

*

In the nights that follow, a letter soon arrives from the Imperatrice.  She narrates how the events of the previous month were disturbing to say the least. She has raised an alarm about Perrote.  The boy's father has no explanation for what happened, and admits this has never happened before in any previous experience.  The father does raise there is a picture frame that was among the props used, but did not match with any of those they usually use. They return to Avalon, and learn Maurice needs to recover.

There are no signs of the entertainer returning.  The father, Damien, continues to recover.  However the Imperatrice now has second thoughts of holding such events in the near future. Gilbert was once again attacked by the same creature, however, and has a scar now across his face.  This has traumatized him enough that he's gone... kinder... in managing the town.

*

Cassandra meets a fisherman along the road, who then tells him of things changing very soon. Some Elaine Knights have  reported the fading of their powers.  The fisherman was more surprised however to see her, given the rumors of her acts against the Queen.  He thought she had fled Avalon.  But suddenly, bandits attack, and Cassandra gets injured in the fight.  But then she finds herself able to tap into her Glamour and causes the Wounds to fade away.

"So I see you are still with us, Wilfrith," the Fisherman grins.  He asks her if she found the people behind the attack, and she admits she hasn't.  Cassandra realizes the man is Flynn he teases her that she should realize she could always just call him when she needs him.  But he simply leaves without explaining how and when she chases after him into the woods to ask, he is gone.    On her way back, she finds a fisherman walking around in a barrel.  He claims he had fallen asleep by the lake and that he suspects the wee folk had stolen all his things to have fun with him.  Cassandra, however, wonders if the items were stolen instead by Flynn.

She remembers Adam Vide's words, "The best lies are set in a truth.  That way they aren't really lies."

*


Maurice eventually pens a letter for the Imperatrice, a Blood Marked letter for her to be able to visit her in the future.  At night, however, he hears the laughter of children and the shadows dance in the doorways.

*


Hans tries to rest, but often hears the same weird sounds at night.  He tries sneaking out to find what they are and spends the night hiding behind a curtain.  Soon enough, he catches the sound of laughter and peers.  He sees a young boy in a heavy coat, followed by another.  The two peek at the door checking if Hans is still awake, then hurry off.  Hans quietly follows them, watching as they avoid servants and secret themselves to the library.  One opens his coat, pulls out a book, and slides it back onto the shelf.  He gets the next one, slides it back inside his coat, then they move to another shelf where they collect specific books.  "We have to worry.  That Eisen guy wakes up at weird hours."  They wonder if the group, the heroes, are back to burn the manor, like they had burned the tower.

The children hurry off.  Hans mentally notes which shelves the kids were interested in, and follows them to the wall where a hidden panel opens for them to head inside.  Hans rushes and snags the last one before he ducks inside the hatch as well.  He realizes they're too heavy to be kids as he tumbles into the chamber.   They turn out to be little people. One uses a device to knock Hans unconscious as it launches something that zaps him with a bolt of electricity.

When he comes to, the figures talk to Hans - whom has been strapped down - and they claim the chamber to be soundproof.  "Guissola made sure of that."  Hans claims he's trying to find out who killed her, and the three are shocked to hear that she is dead.  They only though she was busy at another research station.  Hans informs them that Maurice is now the Duke, and they admit they don't know anything about the household's activities as they been focused on other tasks. They wonder if they should continue the experiments, and they think the ties with Avalon are still standing.  Hans claims the burning of the tower was an accident.  The dwarfs decide they need to keep the secrets of their Society never spread, so they're going to kill him.  One pulls out a syringe which contains a potent poison which should kill him without any pain.  Hans recognizes it and recognizes it but also notes that as one holds it, the symbol of his secret society is exposed: The Invisible College.  Hans identifies it, claiming it to be very popular among members of the Invisible College. Hans reveals his own membership to it, and they confirm it when they see his own collegiate mark. They admit Nisab was working on a lot of things and they were only allowed to know parts of each puzzle to avoid information spreading.  She had a lot of journals written in code, a code called Guisollialia.  And she even created this light that allows one to see the hidden meaning in the code.

The stun gun works only because it is in the house and not quite portable yet.  Hans is fascinated by it, however, and wished he could own his own version of it. The dwarfs turn out not to even know about the place at the Mill (which the heroes had destroyed). Hans forms a connection with the dwarfs, seeing them as direct contacts to reach the Invisible College in the future.

*

Another letter.
Damien Eglentier is dead.
The witnesses claim a young child descended from a hiding place, and with a swift spin, sliced Damien's throat from the front and behind.  Witnesses noticed even more the terrible sight: the boy's mouth had been sewed shut.

*

A massive vault has been set up in Montaigne.  The Emperor and Imperatrice then use one of their vaults to securely keeps things locked up - in particular, the mirrors that were used by Damien Eglentier and his son at the gallery.  The only surviving member of the family, it seems, was the bedridden mother.

But news will soon enough reach them that Perrote pays her a visit.  Biding his time.


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