Sunday, June 22, 2014

After the Rain ep10 : House of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Ten
"The Greatest City in the Sky"

Houses of the Blooded

The four are at the Quarterhouses.  Haroun has opted to look around.  The group has settled in at the Quarterhouses and the man in yellow who saw them arrive proclaimed that his wish had come true.  That all of them who were characters in the book had came to life.  And that the woman in red granted his wish.  When they asked who the woman was his response was, "She is not a woman.  She is a demon."  

A knock.

As they open the doors to check, they find a Ruk servant dressed in black robes with silver trimmings.  "The hearings have begun and I have been instructed to escort you all to the hall."  The others feel bothered by this.  They were not aware that the Senate was expecting them to be at a hearing.  Some are bothered that they have not retrieved all their belongings.  Jaric is dressed in a travelers garb of blue, with the house crest on a cape.  Galeo is wearing blue and violet in cross-striped panels that hide her pregnancy, with her house crest holding her clothes together.  Seran is wearing travelling clothes in green and blue, with the house crest on her back.  Nia opted for travelling clothes with mostly blue and brown.  The herald informs them that the hearings have begun and the ohlrex have called for them.  Seran reminds Jaric he is the spokesperson for the group.  Nia realizes she has not seen her Ork talker in a while.  She also notes Haroun is missing and asks the others if they know where he is.  No one has seen him.

A second vassal arrives, bows from the waist to say, "Venta your lordships.  The ohlrex request your presence.  Your hearings commence after three other deliberations.  Venta... venta.."  He rolls his eyes on the first Ruk, however.  Jaric asks if they can wait for Haroun.   The vassal admits he is not aware of the man they speak of.  "His highness, the Duke of the land I am not familiar with... I may task my companion to await for him while we go."   Jaric feels there is something wrong with the veth in this side of the world.

A door slams open. A man in all white exists and makes his way to the Senate hall.  The vassal tries to bring him his shoes but drops one.  The man in white slays the vassals for the error.  The ven feels no remorse.  Another sees the man in white and greets him, "Q'val...." and the two move on.

A third vassal arrives.  Dressed in black robes, tinged with red, "Your lordships.  The ohlrex requests your presence.  The last delegate is being spoken to this moment.  You are next."  Jaric pushes past the vassals and walks on.  Galeo amuses herself by teaching the veth to say "Venta" in a harmonized manner.  The vassals, however, do not grasp what she wants them to do.  Nia opts to bring Ato with her.  Galeo starts walking down the road, cloaking herself in an unmistakable presence of the artist.

The vassal now starts escorting them to the location, but never walking ahead of them.  The group finds it odd as the vassals "guide" them by suggesting that they were correct in assuming where to go.  The group whisper to each other how much they are bothered how frightened for their lives the veth are here.  


The dachanau.  The dance of words.  
One senator is currently holding the floor.  "For certain my brothers, as we are all ven, the laws that have been handed down to us are laws that allow us to remain what we are.  Beings that have risen from the ruins of the sorcerer-kings.  Examples of the idealism of Jonan Drax.  We have the seven laws, and we all remember that the first one is that the law binds all.  Ven or Ork Ven."  Senators start booing from the stands.  A few knock their hands to show approval.  "As no ven stands above the law, none are immune to its laws as well. And thus, we must embrace the Sixth Law in regards to these Ork Ven. No ven shall make war.  Our lost wayward brothers and sisters are to be welcomed.  Perhaps even reeducated to the ways of civilized ven."

The spokesman addresses the speaker, "The avirex have heard your side, Senator.  We would like to continue with the opposition."  Galeo notes the moderator is an old man.  The earlier speaker a man.  And the newcomer, a woman.  She elicits gasps and some even starts booing.  Her vibrant red hair snakes past her shoulder then clutches around her waist.  Her clothing is a vibrant shade of brown, formally cut to a Senator's garb, showing a more masculine side of her.  "You have heard the opposition. You have heard talk of the First Law.  Talk of the Sixth Law.  How easily we have skipped the Second Law. One shall Not Commit Murder.  When Jonan Drax spoke of how the ven should not kill one another, he did not speak merely of our lives.  He spoke of our individuality.  Why else would he have all our Houses?  The Olivana inspire us: the boars, the elks, the falcons.  Even I, a mere Spider, was inspired by them."  The Senate hall is very quickly filled with booing voices.  "The Ork Ven are still of the Houses.  A woman stands with a non-veiled house and does not retreat.  She was even referred to by the others as the captain of the vessel.  A man is said to be fiction brought to life.  And what intrigues us the most is that he is no Serpent, yet obsesses over truth.  My people were among the first to meet them all.  My siblings Lucius and T'fress measured them and found them cultured, educated and dangerous.  Orks do not know the old ways.  Orks do not recognize Sorcery.  Orks do not understand the intricacies of collar, pocket and button or zipper.  They are ven.  Different ven, but ven nonetheless.  If you wish to change them, you kill what makes them different.  Who knows, this difference might teach us something.  Perhaps this difference might even educate us.  They have crossed the Mistweir, a place not even the bravest of our Falcons have dared cross.  Isn't that reason enough not to have them killed?"  Booes and howls rise.  Some start throwing papers, handkerchiefs in outcry.  The spokesperson asks her to stand down.  

"I am NOT done," the woman speaks.

"There will be order in this hearing.  Senator, you forget your place," the spokesman challenges her.

"I claim this chance to speak.  Are you challenging me, spokesman?"

Silence fills the hall.

"Are you sincere, Senator?"

"I am.. patient.  I will wait for my turn," the woman backs down.

The vassals guide the group down the hallway to the Vashna standing guard.  T'gress inspects each of them with her spyglass then informs them the Senate is ready to hear them.  She seems concerned that some of them have brought with them their Bloodswords.  Seran does not grasp why there's a problem that she has one.  Jaric identifies himself as the one to speak on their behalf, once he notices Galeo and Nia both considering speaking up.  Galeo offers to help, but Jaric finds it slightly insulting.  "Are you sincere?"  When she responds she is a friend, Jaric counters, "You are no friend of mine."

The group follow, with Galeo walking in a way suggesting choreography as she walks through the doorway.  The booing rises as the others see them arrive.  The disdain is clearly there.  Galeo takes it all instead as something to embrace.  She smiles liking being the center of attention, looking at every single one of them in the eye. The eldest in the room are seen.  The avirex.  The High Dukes.  Galeo adjusts her dress and has her breasts pop outwards from the tight garb.  Senators start throwing things at them.  Many start calling for "Insult to the Senate!"  Galeo glances at Jaric, "Do you want to speak first or shall I?"

The floor show a circular mark, to clearly denote who will speak.  Two vashna approach, one holding a large book and the other holding a Quill.  The spokesman leans forward, motions everyone to fall silent, and points to the group, "Are you the spokesperson for the group?  Or are you hear to stand as individuals?"  The weight of the eyes of all in the room are upon them.

"We are merely travelling companio-"

"Are you here to stand as a group or as individuals?"

"We speak as individuals."

The spokesman then warns them they stand before the Earls.

House of the Bear
The Burghe, Aelvan, Earl of Tain
House of the Elk
Dalvinosh Steele, Earl of Ivanisck
House of the Falcon
Bennyn Thorne, Earl of Uq’v
House of the Fox
Vishashael Yvarai, Earl of Aeldrena
House of the Serpent
J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag
House of the Wolf
Q’ll Adrente, Earl of Gashva

Each of them are challenged to take the Quill, and to sign their names in their own blood upon the book as they swear to speak only the truth.  They all easily surmise this is a sorcerous pact. The crowds gasp.  They group wonders if its in reaction that they know what to do.. or that they can actually do it.  As the boos rise, the spokesman demands for silence.  

Jaric Thayl addresses them all, tracing back his genealogy as far back as he can recall.  Senators start to complain and stomp on the floor in anger as he starts mentioning the names of his grandparents, great grandparents and beyond.  The names, it seems, are familiar to them and none are willing to believe he has ties to them.  Jaric asks if he has the floor.  One yells out, claiming insult, and the spokesman asks him if he is sincere.  Everyone else sits down.  The speaker remains standing, staring at Jaric, "You claim to be related to my father!  I find Insult in this!"

"Did I not sign the book?"

"But you are Ork Ven!  How can you even know our names!?!"

"How do you know yours?  How far back can you trace your own line, sir?"   Jaric challenges him and the man falters, not having the courage to remember.  The man starts to apologize, claiming to have been overwhelmed by the passion of the moment.   Jaric talks about the term Ork Ven and starts rambling about the Riddle of Blood and the fall of the Senate House to the machinations of Madelyn Yvarai and the story of Ti'Ann Burghe.  But in the last act of Gaius Mwrr was to try and save as many ven children as they can.  Why is the immediate assumption is that the ven mated with the Orks?  Ven are ven.  We maintain the old ways as best as we could.  And apparently, this Mistweir has separated us.  But we are still ven."  The senators react poorly to his words, but the spokesman calls for silence.

Dalvinosh Steele, Earl of Ivanisck chooses to address him.  His eyes beam the depths of cunning of an old practiced man.  He mentions that Jaric had just acknowledged that they were raised by orks.    Jaric admits there is a possibility.  There are unclear records of the past.  The Riddle of Blood is merely considered a fairy tale for them.  Jaric admits he is one of the few scholars who have dedicated their lives to the truth of the riddle.

J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag chooses to speak.  The earl calls for the woman, and Galeo realizes she is being addressed.  She questions Galeo if she is pregnant and she admits she is.  She asks if the father is an Ork and Galeo admits he is not.  Murmurs fill the chamber.

"She has NOT taken the quill!" one calls out!

Galeo claims to be willing to do so.  The Earl asks her if she is familiar with the act.  Galeo admits she has just seen it done and goes through the sorcery as well.  The serpents realize it is the Blood of the Ven that permits sorcery - further proof they are ven.  Galeo speaks of the father of the child and the Earl asks to present the husband.  But Galeo admits he is beyond the wall.  The Earl is curious that marriage happens among the Ork ven as well.  She notices Galeo's scars and asks what happened.  Galeo starts explaining the events that lead to her scarring.  "You are marked by a Spectre?" the Earl states.

Nia raises her hand in defiance.  All turn to look at her.  Galeo is surprised that she is now overlooked.  Nia asks if she should sign first before she speaks.  

The Burghe, Aelvan, Earl of Tain addresses her.  He notes that Nia bears the crest and asks her to speak.  Nia corrects Galeo's story that she misremembers.  She explains that the wound was inflicted by the events when her mother ascended to Suavenhood.  No one speaks.  The moderator asks her to repeat her words.  None of them can believe that the Ork Ven have Suaven as well.   Angry screams erupt from the hall as Nia explains the events that lead to Galeo's scar.  Senators have started to throw glasses at them.  The Earls stand and the others fall silent.  The Spiders are asked to step in and T'gress approaches Nia.  She reaches into her pouch and pulls out a bracelet of some sort.  "You must wear this."  The bracelet has a chain and on one side, it has spikes like a barbed piece of jewelry.  When Nia asks what it is for, she explains it is for all to see what she speaks of.  Nia proudly wears it and shows the moment.  The whole hall sees the fight, with Seran facing the Spectre with her bloodsword - Galeo distracting it - and Jaric hiding in the corner.   To end it, Nia shows them her mother's blessing: the bone relic the mother had bequeathed to her.

J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag demands the Vashna deliver it to her to see it.  Nia offers to accompany it to her.  They escort her away.

"We will proceed," the spokesman recognizes Bennyn Thorne, Earl of Uq’v who addresses Seran about being a Thorne.  Seran admits she is as far back as she can recall.  Bennyn challenges her to prove she is a Thorne by asking her to tell them why in their barrios, things run smoothly.  Seran offers to sign the Quill as well.  Earl Uq'v counters that it is not a question of truth or falsehood, but one only a true Falcon can answer.  Seran answers they run smoothly because the Veth do not need to say Venta over and over as they serve.  "They do not fear us."  Earl Uq'v asks if that is the only reason.  Seran admits she says what she knows.  The Earl tests Seran with one more challenge.  The Vashna are commanded to hand her a bow and arrow.  Many of the other senators pull back, wary of the tool in her hands.  "A true Falcon understands that the bow is not a tool.  A true Falcon understands that an arrow is as deadly as a Bloodsword.  If you are truly a Falcon, the Senate recognizes that you are now armed."

"I also recognize that I am armed.  Would you like to test my skills?"

The Earl has yet to fully raise a quill to serve as a target, Seran had already launched an arrow across the chamber.  The arrow meets the mark, splitting the quill in two.  The senators call out for the act of violence, but the spokesman turns to the Earl and waits for the decision. The Vashna train their spears at her.

"A Falcon," is all the Earl musters to say.

Seran curtsies. 

The Earls decline to ask more questions.  But one motions to wait.   In the silence, Jaric makes eye contact with the one who challenged him earlier.  He starts mouthing a Vow upon the man "that we shall honor the ties of blood over the politics of the Senate."  The man feels the Blessing and is made to promise the same thing.  He realizes Jaric is truly of the Thayl.

Galeo notices a woman in the crowd staring straight at her.  The woman has vibrant red hair and green eyes.  As she stares, she slowly begins to smile.  Galeo chooses to maintain protocol and simply notes her, but upon blinking her eyes, the woman is gone.  

Seran signs the Quill to commit to the Oath as well.  The Spider whispers to them that the Senate seems to recognize the truths in their words and that if all goes well they will be given Residences in the City, to hold their title.  If not, they would all be considered Ruk.  Or worse, offered the chance to be Vashna.  She reminds them how long this will be; a year and a day.

Nia arrives by the Earl's side, who asks her to sit nearby.  "We shall speak in time."  Even the spokesperson is bothered that Nia is now sitting beside the Earl of the Serpent.    The attention is then focused upon Ato, and when the group admits he cannot speak for himself, the Senate declare that the fifth member is unable to defend himself and has therefore relinquished any defense.  Nia uses her unassuming visage to the Earl and non-verbally hints that she believes Ato is important.  She asks if the man is beneath Nia's shadow.  Nia says he is, but the Earl questions if Ato is a knight.  Or worse a friend?  When Nia admits he isn't.  She tells her he is merely a serpent who cannot protect himself.  But she belays the Vashna and declares the man as owned.

The floor is opened for the rest of the Senators.  
Szaz Ashken, Blooded of the Spider, Senator

Many speak out of turn, some calling them ven, some still calling them orks.  The formalities are called for that those who wish to speak must approach the platform.  A voice speaks.  All turn to see the Senator of the Spider standing on the platform.

"The Senate recognizes Szaz, House of the Spider.  Voice of the Web."

"Thank you," she tells the spokesman and shares that as the sole representative of the veiled House of the Spider, she wishes to address the accused.  They give her permission.  She addresses them all and in her one minute to speak, she addresses them directly as "Fellow Ven" and tells them how she recognizes and can relate to how one feels when not recognized by one's peers.  She declares that the Spiders extend their support to them.  She also adds that their Residences are to be under her District.   The Earls nod.  The petition is granted.

"They are your problem, Szaz."

"Truly wisdom is born of patience," Jaric mumbles to himself.

The Senator asks them if they accept her invitation.  Most do.  When Nia was asked, however, the Earl intercepts and tells her, "She is home, Spider.  She is home."  When the spokesman tells Szaz she can step down, again she counters and says she is not done.  She raises that there was supposed to be another member.  "A Duke if I am not mistaken?  Why is he not here?"

The spokesman notes that the Senate will note his absence and inform the Vashna to find him.  When he asks if she is done, she remains silent and unresponsive.  She simply waits.  The spokesman asks her two more times, only to be abruptly told, "My minute is done.  I will step down now."

The Senate then recognizes Count Kether.  The group wonders if it is another Tulpa. What they see instead is a woman.  She addresses the gathering and identifies herself as Miralia Yvarai, Countess of Kether.  She asks to have a moment to pray.  The request is granted.  All the Ven turn away.  The group is confused for a moment.  In the moment of privacy, she digs into her pocket, places a ring on, whispers to it, then her eyes turn blood red.  She inspects each of them, then removes the ring.  "My prayer is done."

The Countess addresses the woman called the Artist.  Galeo is happy to be recognized.  She asks if Galeo knows her husband and Galeo responds that she is not sure which Kether she means.  The spokesman and the Countess however start arguing as Miralia starts asking if her husband is beyond the wall, or death, or worse.  The spokesman repeatedly reminds her she is out of order and asks her to withdraw.  She apologizes and withdraws.  Galeo throws a hint that she knows something, but the Senate insists the Countess stop speaking to them.  Kether withdraws.

When the call for final questions are made, a figure raises a hand.

Senator Szaz once again comes to the stand.  She asks that the group be given the right to question the Senate as well.  When a spokesman tries to counter that they are landless, Szas reminds them they now have land... thanks to her.  And informs them the Red Spider has brought their vassals to their Residences as well. The motion is made, and the room awaits for it to be seconded.  Jaric stares at the Thayl he made the Vow with.  The man stands and seconds it.  The Earl of the Elk stares at Jaric knowingly and smiles.

The floor is opened.

Jaric Thayl steps forward, and each of them identify their new Baronies.  Jaric is now Baron of Gossamer.  He speaks to all those present and notes that all the Earls bear the names of the esteemed arivex who rules even before the time of the Riddle of Blood.  Vishashael Yvarai, Earl of Aeldrena addresses Jaric and tells him if the question is to ask if they were present in the destruction of the Senate City, she admits they did witness it and they are survivors of it.  Jaric bows deeply, excited to get confirmation this may be truly the old world.  She asks for a moment to speak with Jaric in private.  Jaric learns she is a follower of "his works".  She tells him she is wondering about a prominent fox that he supposedly killed.  She wonders if that would be her.

Jaric added the question if the Spider is the only veiled house, claiming to not have seen any evidence of the Horse or the Boar.  J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag is surprised they recognize the veiled houses.  She quietly talks to Nia who raises knowledge of an expedition outside the veil and Nia admits she met Master Dag'ul and the others.  

The spokesman addresses Jaric that they do not speak of such things.  Jaric withdraws the conversation.

Galeo addresses Senator Szaz.  Galeo thanks her for her words and patience, and then declares that their two realms would mean with a birth.  She asks Szaz to bear witness to the birth.   Her eyes narrow.  The spokesman asks, "There is a child to be born in the city?"  Szaz clarifies that the child is to be born in the City which would mean the child would follow tradition and be placed in an ushanavan.  The Earl admits this changes thing.  J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag explains that the child would become a citizen of the City.  The child will be taken to be educated properly.  And the ven will have no right to "take him back" until he is of age to return.  "Answer the question well.  Baroness, are you giving birth in the City?"

"I will give birth where adventure takes us.  And be it City or not, we will know.  After all, I think it is true for both our cultures, it is interesting to travel with a Falcon," Galeo replies.  She realizes she has to find a way to give birth outside the city or leave before it comes to term.   She asks how often children are born here and they are told all the time.  "The question begs questions."

"Simply that where we come from, when a child is born, it is like a new Spring," Galeo smiles.

The floor is then given to Seran Throne, who looks around and tells them, "I am a Falcon and we are somewhat known for being direct.  And I dislike having my right as a ven questioned.  So I say now, if you have any doubts that I am ven, you are welcome to look for me and challenge me to a duel.  Any of you.  And I shall prove the matter.  That is all."

"Does she mean one at a time?" Galeo muses.

As Seran moves to leave the speaker's circle, a man calls out, "Your ladyship!" and something is thrown at her.  She catches it immediately.  The crowds gasp.  A handkerchief.

"Never have I seen such passion.  You have accepted my favor," the man smiles.

"It seems you are doomed to pull the sword but not the one you weild ," Galeo laughs.

"The only pity that it Spring is ending, that would have been a perfect time for Romance," Jaric muses.

Seran asks Galeo what has happened.  Galeo explains that is a lover's token.  A man above yells that the matter is unsettled.  The group suddenly sees a challenge above from one man to another for having thrown a token to Seran before the other could.   One insists the Baroness has accepted the token.  They ask the Seran if it is settled.  She admits she thought it was accepting the challenge for the duel.  Seran notices Bennyn Thorne, Earl of Uq’v is avoiding her gaze.  More tokens are thrown towards Seran... some yellow... some red.    The spokesman admits this is unprecedented.  Galeo mutters out loud that this would be a great story for her husband.  The Senate decrees the matter can be settled outside the senate halls.

They are guided by T'gress to sit among the Spiders.  They discover the seats are empty save for that of Szaz.   The last hearing is called for and as the doors are opened, Haroun enters.  He shows signs of having been in a battle.  He is then followed by a figure in chains.  The Vashna keep their spears trained at the Ork talker as they enter.  Seran stares worriedly at Nia.  A third man enters, followed by four men.  The four men are in various states of injury as well.    Physical injury tends to require more than wearing the black.  And Nia worries that Haroun is not recognized yet.

The Seventh Law of Jonan Drax is raised.  The penalty is to fit the crime.  The group are ven, Blooded of the Wolf.  Edigan Sinjin declares himself and his four brothers.  Haroun is clearly keeping himself in control.  He clearly wants to act, but he is now staying calm.  Edigan stands before them to claim of True Pain.

The Earl glances at Nia, finding this to be a problem.   Jaric realizes a way to bring things to their advantage. Edigan speaks of how the "Ruk" (Haroun) had dealt upon them injuries, and even greater has injured the Sinjin name.   Haroun growls he is no Ruk nor Ork.  He notices Nia in the area above and realizes he should shut up and takes note that she is sitting with a Serpent.  Edigan speaks of how Haroun had injured the name... and the house.  Seran speaks up and questions how Edigan might not be fulfilling his role in the Wolf name.  The Sinjin points to Seran as proof of his words.   Galeo raises her hand and the spokesman allows her to speak.  Jaric, on the other hand, has gone straight to the podium.  The Earl of the Elk does amusingly point out that neither have been given the floor to speak.  He reminds everyone that only statements made in proper order will be considered.    He does state that the Ruk protecting the Ork in itself is an action deserving punishment.

The group realizes they have to pull their weight and thankfully they maneuver the Senate to see Haroun and the Orktalker as under the protection of the Senate as promised!  Even Nia tries to explain to the Serpent Earl that the Ork is her property.  And that the Ruk was protecting her property.  She finds it fascinating that Nia is suggesting she has the Ork under her command.  She taps Nia's left hand as she says, "A pity you are too tired..."  The Serpent and her vassals depart, taking Nia with them.  They are curious to understand if Nia can control the Orks the way they do.  The wasps and the bees.

Jaric raises that the Ork was attacked before they arrived at the Quarterhouse.  Edigan admits the attack happened at the street.  Jaric reminds him the Senate promised protection over their property.  Szaz raises her hand and speaks to support Jaric's statement, and that a few days prior the veiled House of the Spider had entered the lands.  It was a statement all heckled at.   She even states that the Burghe, Earl Aeldrena, and the Earl Gashva were the ones who laughingly gave her permission to extend the protection of the Senate to the outsiders and their holdings.  The archivist is asked to confirm this.

"What harm is there to protection Fictional Things?"

The Senate agrees to keep them locked up for their own safety til the matter is settled.  They are surprised however that Haroun supposedly had risen in defense of the Orktalker.

Jaric retorts to Sinjin, "Are you then admitting that you have broken the word of the Senate?"

"I do not recognize you-"

"The Senate does.  Now answer.  Have you broken the word of the Senate?" Jaric prods.  The man hisses admitting they did what must be done.

"Which is our property... that is protected by the Senate..." Jaric feels success.  The Earl moves to push the hearing to another date.  He asks the Sinjin if it new the Ork Ven were real.  He admits he did.  When asked how, he introduces the Baron Da'gul.

Baron Da'gul comes forward and is questioned.  He begins telling them all that he was aware of them because of an unthinkable truth: He had crossed the Mistweir.  He encountered these Ven beyond the walls. Yes, they have Orks that serve them and adds there is more.  The Ork knew the Cloak Deceivious.  The Senate erupt in screams and fling things at them in anger.  Q’ll Adrente, Earl of Gashva suspends the hearing, and commands the Vashna to arrest all seven of them.

"Your property will be in safe-keeping in the Senate hands."

The people are being ushered out.  Seran realizes she can't find Nia.  Jaric mumbles about missing people, first Haroun then her.  Galeo stands close and talks with the others as many of the Senators leave.  Nia however is made to fall asleep without the others noticing, and the Earl has her taken away.  As they leave, another man approaches Seran and compliments her. The men start to gather, anxious to know her challenge for them.  Galeo intercedes and asks their names.

Zai Bowen, Blooded of the Bear promises Seran to have enough children to fill the Senate hall.  Seran tries to explain that she is married.    Another man approaches her.

"Are you challenging me for a duel?" Seran asks.

The man thanks her for accepting the token.  "I will admit that I am... you must excuse me..." he heads off.  Shy and spring.

Galeo suggests throwing a party.  The other man are listening excitedly.  Szaz admits being concerned about what happened to Haroun.  Jaric admits the Ork has been a problem during this journey.  "We must rescue him as soon as possible. Without him, it is unlikely any of you can leave in time."  Szaz admits she is amused that Jaric is familiar with the veiled houses.  Szaz quotes Vance Vashna, "We do what we must, but at times we do what we can" which is from the Riddle of Blood.

Seran is getting overwhelmed.  There are 27 of them.  "Give us a task and the last to fulfill it is eliminated."  Galeo suggests a task.  Seran again stresses she is married.  Most admit they are too.  Galeo suggests they find the best port.  Seran counters that the best port would be in her lands.  Galeo pushes that the first one to bring Seran something from beyond the Mistweir will be the one.   The men leave, considering their options.  Some run, excited.  One remains standing.

"You caught my token," he tells her.

"I must say the challenge is interesting, and almost impossible for an initial challenge."

Seran counters it is not impossible.  He counters that it would be like him challenging her to kill an Earl.  "Not impossible, but not exactly a proper challenge.  More of an indirect way of saying I am not really interested."

"Because I am not."

"Now that that is clear, then we have the matter of the token."

Seran brings the token out.  Lavender.  She tells the man that she is not accustomed to Romances and challenges.  He discusses the difference of the two.  Seran admits she barely has the time for it.  The man asks Galeo if she understands the difference of the two.  "For someone who doesn't know them, should you keep them from the experiencing it?"  Galeo looks at the man with a new perspective. "Clearly you are married to one who romances you," the man tells her, "She is married but does not know Romance."

"I have crossed your first impossible barrier," the man tells Seran, glancing at Galeo.  "I have shown tact. Sadly now, it is in my hands.   You shall hear from me what your challenge will be."

Galeo seems excited.  Seran feels the frustration rise.  She feels Lukas is romantic.. but Galeo admits if that is what counts as romantic, Lukas might not be suited as a Fox.  "Fine, what so what do I have to do?"

A voice calls out.  The man is still there.  "Your challenge, learn my name."


Elsewhere, Nia awakens to find herself sitting across from J’sae Mwnn, Earl of Heenag.  The vassals offer her a drink as J'sae smiles and tells her she had fallen asleep.  She tells Nia that Haroun and the Orktalker are in safe keeping under the Senate.   The Earl has a proposal, for Nia and her to be friends.  Nia admits she would very much enjoy that.

"We shall never hide anything from one another," the Earl admits, "After all, we would like to ensure the other is never placed in any danger."

"Would you agree with me that a serpent must hold her secrets?" Nia counters.

"There would be no need for secrets between us.  Consider it a sharing.  And let's face it, I am an Earl.  I am the one losing in this bargain, and yet I want your friendship."

"You are correct.  I am still dealing with my wariness," Nia admits.  "Let us be friends.  In fact this ties in very nicely with my showing to you my mother's Blessing."  Nia takes out the relic and tells her how her mother was a Bear.  She reminds her how bears value relationships, and the blessing is to ensure they remain devoted to one another.  The Earl accepts it.  "Once again, a true sign that you are just as ven as we are.  Friends then?"

"Friends.  By the name of my mother."

The Earl then asks something of Nia.  Something she feels only Nia can do for her.  She asks Nia to answer in all honesty if the group an initial scouting force for invasion.  Nia admits they are not, however beautiful the city is.   She shares how the Senators have suspected the Ork Ven have lands that maybe worth exploring.  And that given the Spiders have admitted having sent an expedition across the Mistweir, she fears the Senates see opportunities.

She has her vassals escort Nia back to the others.


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