Friday, July 25, 2014

After the Rain ep11 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain|

Episode Ten
"Blunda Most Foul"

A man in yellow babbles in the streets of the Quarterhouses, mumbling about the truths and about hidden secrets.  He stares at the windows of the Ork Ven and excitedly smiles at the thoughts of what is to come.  He is mad.  Insane.  His words are twisted with impossible meanings.  And yet... the Ork Ven are real.  What if that means he is sane?  What if that means he is right?


A week has passed since the group had first arrived in The Greatest City in the Sky.  In their own ways, they have a started to take note of certain things about how life is here in the other side of the Mistweir.  

On matters of Exploration...
Seran Thorne has learned that there seems to be no new lands to explore.  The Ven of the city believe they had explored all that is worth exploring.  Artifacts, thus, have become quite common everyday resources.  There have been some feeble attempts to explore beneath the waters or towards the skies, but the ven have realizes the airships are beyond their control.  They travel fixed paths.  And none of them know how to steer the althenta in other directions.  Seran does recover the glider which Haroun had built for her as a present.

On matters of Education...
Jaric Thayl has learned that the Senate has allowed for a different school structure of mentorship where even Sorcery is freely taught.  The ven, however, have no true teachings in the area of craftsmanship.   The art of creating althenta is lost to them.  The Dreadfuls, short novel stories featuring a set of characters across all books despite varying tales (with characters named after Jaric and his group), are heavily discussed in literature classes.  The head of the Academy is an Thayl, a proud member of the House Elk.  That man is Count Mellot.

On matters of Craft and Art...
Galeo Silja has discovered that everyone in the City is jaded, having seen everything that exists and all forms of art that stands.   They have even began finding joy in watching theater for its unpredictability.   The Thayl family seems notorious for making numerous plays about them.    She learns that it seems commonly accepted practice here for the ven to craft Tulpa to serve them and assist in their work.  She also learns that the Silja family here are still determined to prove they can innovate.

On matters of Orks...
Nia Jalan has unearthed that in the paintings that attempt to mark their arrival as Ork Ven in the Senate halls matches the look of how paintings showing the Orks sacking the Senate in the past look.  Further digging has her find that in the original painting, the Orks that sacked the Senate look Ven as well.  There even has been some academic debate on the translation of an old text claiming the existence of Ork Nobility; Does it refer to noblemen among the orks, or to orks who have gained a House, or of Ven who have sided with the orks over the Senate.  She has even learned from others that the security orks hovering about in the air is angered by any deviation from the preset routes of althenta in the sky.

At the Maybe Maiden, the Red Door Room which Galeo casts a shadow upon,  two ven speak of conspiracy and murder.  Giacomo Silja and Grendil Silja satisfy themselves with the maidens while they openly discuss their concerns about how the Ork Ven can control the Orks.  The fear stems from their worries that this may upset their hold on the Ork Farms.  They discuss plans to poison one of the Ork Ven.  "What was once four, will be three by night's end."  They are unaware of the Silken Ceiling which actually allows Galeo to walk directly above them and listen in without effort.  She briefly wonders if she has had wine.  She turns to her Rook, the Valet, who she knows is always one step ahead.  The Rook however admits he can only prepare with the Resources needed - thus he has no antidote.  He admits he has been tasting her wine to ensure its safety.  She sends one of the maybe maidens to the two, marked with poetic lines she herself had penned to them to welcome them and enjoy the maiden.  She signs them in her name and reminds the maiden to turn her back and bend over gracefully.   She invites them to meet at The Anvil for a possible trade among ven.  The message thankfully does not reveal Galeo has her shadow over the place.  They don't want to deal with her though. They think it would be easier to just deal with her and kill her.   It makes the two overconfident.  So overconfident that they don't even consider using swords if they come to attack her.  She begins considering drafting messages to send to the others, but then realizes here she has no servants to send them.  She realizes she has to head out herself in hopes of finding others to warn them of the possible poison. "Karo, looks like we are off to school."

At Thistledown, Nia Jalan speaks with the Blackhand gang that she has cast her shadow upon.  The group seems to be composed of young veth who are eager to act and are quite territorial of their location.  They are happy to report her Residence has been safe.  They have been keeping the Security of her Residence well.  Nia shares her surprise that there are no such gangs from where she comes from.  The gang asks what she means, given they don't quite know what she means by not being from here.  They seem to address all ven Lords, regardless of Title or sex.  Nia shares with them some idea of how things were in the Wilderness.  They admit they do not understand matters of the Senate.  They are creatures of the tunnels and of shadows on the walls.  They share about how they served other ven and poisoned family members to protect lands and the like.    Nia slowly walks to the far side of the port where Waterdeep stands.  There, she finds Seran busy cleaning the Glider, the gift of Haroun, of what look like guts and bits and pieces of the wasp orks they had seen before.

One of Seran's maids notices a bottle of perfume among Seran's things as they work on cleaning the Glider.  The maid sees the Lady Nia and tells Seran of the visitor.  Seran shares with Nia that if one flies off the path of the airships, the orks attack.  The maid notices a wolf head like design on the bottle's surface.  Seran also shows off an Artifact she had found in a Ruin: a black obsidian compact.  Nia gets curious and studies it.  She opens it without triggering what she finds to be an obvious trap - a sharp spikes of obsidian seeking the hand of whoever opens it.  As Nia shares that the material of obsidian tends to be from volcanoes, Seran wonders if there is even a volcano nearby.

"A week, and not even a single syllable yet?" both girls look up to see the Ven who challenged Seran to a Romance.  Nia greets him as a Senator and he admits he remembers her.  He asks Seran if he at least has an inkling of his name.  He then reveals he has messages, but teases that he will only share it if she figures out his name.  Seran recognizes the envelope in his possession has those of Haron's markings.  Seran asks why he wouldn't just tell him his name, and he admits there wouldn't be any challenge in that.  He shows the five envelopes, one for each day of the week that Haroun wrote for them.  Seran sighs that she was busy retrieving the glider and doing other things.  The man stresses he has five envelopes again.  But Seran fails to completely get he is hinting on the number of letters in his name.  He realizes now why her husband had skipped the Romance with Seran.  Nia starts to study the envelopes each time the man holds them up, searching for any hints of a name marked on them.  The maid offers wine and the man drinks some as he explains the five envelopes are meant to be a clue.  Nia realizes by scanning the envelopes, she has read his name: Pyotr Sinjin. Seran asks why he would have a letter from Haroun and he explains he's the Senator who has been ensuring his safety.  He wonders where she got the glider and she teases him it will be something he has to find out.  A challenge.  He admits he has a good consequence in mind if she fails:  her husband's name.   Seran wonders why he wants the name, and Nia reminds her it gives him a target for whatever plans he'd have in mind.

The glass suddenly drops.  The man starts untying the knots of the scarf around his neck, growing pale.  Seran panics for a moment thinking he's been poisoned. But instead, he rushes to the glider and gasps as he recognizes the design: it is a Steiner!  He asks her where they had found such an ancient and extinct wonder. Pyotr admits he would love a chance to fly the glider - but Seran stresses it is hers.  He swears it will remain hers, but seeks for a chance to embrace her namesake:  I Chase The Storm.

At the Academy, Jaric is amused to see how many variations of the same set of characters exists in the supposed writings and tales written by... someone with his name.  Jaric feels confused and excited as he checks each one, seeing how they seem to be slightly altered or twisted from the tales he knows of their supposed history.  The wife of the headmaster Count Mellot approaches Jaric to ask if he found what he is looking for.   Jaric learns that it seems to be quite common for the ven here to indulge in reading these "Dreadfuls" as they are called.  The wife does stress that it is not uncommon for ven to have similar names, given the small number of Houses that exist.  Jaric, however, stresses how bizarre it is for the book to feature the names of his friends as well.  The conversation stretches long as both tend to ramble on to diverging details as they discuss the Sorcerer-Kings and the many legends of ven history.  She does start rambling about how the great Storm destroyed the Senate House, and that the ven gathered to use their Sorcery to protect the city by weaving their Secret Names to force the Storm back.  Jaric thinks that very barrier was what the Mistweir is, given it now holds the Storm at bay, however he does bring the fact that the story claims one Secret name was lost to the Storm. "But as the Legend goes, with her name lost, she becomes the only crack in the barrier for the Storm to slip through."  When Jaric suggests it would be Madelyn Yvarai, she counters that its impossible since she is the Mother of the Ruk.  When Jaric tries to suggest she was behind the attack on the Senate House, she stops Jaric and explains she was explaining history - not the fiction of the Dreadfuls.  But Jaric is starting to realize there is a gap between what he knows to be the account of Madelyn Yvarai and her becoming the Master of the Ruk.  He thinks she was lost to the Storm, and somehow, she survived.  She tells how the Earls were so "possessed" with such anger that they cursed her to become the Master of the Ruk.  Jaric however wonders if she is no longer ven if she can still create Tulpa.  But the wife counters that Madelyn draws the blood from Kithranus Yvarai, who is a Suaven, to cast her Sorcery.  Supposedly, according to the wife, Kithranus ascended into Suavenhood during the night of the attack upon the Senate.    Jaric feels confused, how the stories he knows seem to not match the history they claim to have.

The wife suggests that given the stories of how back when the ven served the Sorceror-kings, they lived time-limited periods of life.  She wonders if by breaking free from them, what if this had disrupted the lives they were meant to live.  What if now they all existed as beings that moved and lived their own individual streams of time. "Maybe some of us are from individual streams of stories."

Jaric opts to head for the Guildhouse.  She hands him a bottle of wine, mixed with milk, that her husband insists he try. "The milk is to give it a more distinct flavor," she tells him.


Galeo Silja finds Jaric on the street and warns him not to take the wine.  She suggests that there are forces who do not agree with their ascent to recognition in the city.   Jaric however counters that while the others are called Ork Ven, he is celebrated for his books... well, for books that are penned with his name.  He even shares that some refer to them instead as Olivanna Ven rather than Ork ven.  Jaric is amused that Galeo would go all the way to seek him out given there are people plotting against them, when he feels among the ven there is always someone plotting against them.  When Jaric tells Galeo he plans to head for the Guildhall, Galeo admits she plans to head there as well.

There is a rumble in the sky.

Jaric and Galeo look up, a bit concerned that the Mistweir might be the Storm held back.  Jaric wonders if the Storm has an Aspect of Madelyn Yvarai trapped in it.   Karo suddenly draws steel and warns them that there is someone ahead.  They find a carriage flanked by with four swordsmen.  They seem to be seeking for "the one called The Artist."  They turn out to be the Personal Guard of the Countess Kether.   Miralia Yvarai asks for them to ride with her, in exchange for them to have a moment to talk with her.  They ask her to bring them to the Guildhouse.  She talks to them about her missing husband.  She even notices the milk wine Jaric has with him and comments that the best are usually given out by Count Mellot.  Seran however brings up the possibility that the wine might be poisoned, given what she had overheard.  The Countess talks about what kinds of poison might be used, and she admits Oleander is the typical poison of Revenge.  The Countess offers to extend an antidote if they desire one, but she will see that as acceptance of her request.  Jaric confuses the conversation to refer to Count Kether of their land, not the Kether Galeo has met in the airship.  Miralia is confused, uncertain if the men they speak of is even the man she is seeking.

Back at the Guildhouse, Seran had been talking to Nia about the man who visited them.  A Falcon.  Nia muses about Haroun and Pyotr having a contested Romance, and perhaps having a fight in the end.  As they laugh about the matter, Lady Szaz has come to visit them.  When Seran gives a bow, happy to see her, Szaz reminds her there is no need to show such given she has no land.  Seran invites her inside.  They go to a private room and Seran asks if the maid can serve wine.   The maid rushes off, uncertain where to find wine.  Szaz tells them she has come because it has been a week since Haroun has been under the protection of the Senate.  She tells them he has been well, and that they have made certain he has always had a constant supply of wine.  Seran asks if they are allowed to visit him, and Nia reminds Seran that they have not read his letters.  Szaz asks if any of them have taken action to resolve his protective custody.  Seran admits matters of the Senate are things they are not good at.  She asks how they can resolve it, but Szaz confesses she cannot answer that question without spending a few days to explain the intricacies of the Senate.  She does state it would be a huge help if a Senator chooses to speak on his defense, and prepares the case for them.  Nia asks if Szaz knows of Pyotr Sinjin and if he is a Senator.  Szaz tells them Pyotr is actually a Duke and he actually chose to not become an Earl.  He came to his title due to tragedy, when all 12 of his siblings, cousins and uncles were found dead.  Szaz shares they were all decapitated, but Pyotr was able to take the Bloodsword from the assassins.  When the Vashna arrived, he was seen alone with the Bloodsword in his hand.  "Such a lucky Duke."

The man has shown so much interest in the case, that Nia and Seran consider he may be the one to help them with Haroun's case.  If he were to talk on their side, however, it may require swearing an oath of allegiance to him, and to willingly stand under his shadow.  Szaz suddenly worries as she realizes none of them have been rallying votes for Haroun's situation.   Seran asks about how the hearing can be delayed, and the possibilities include if an Earl was to die, or if some other similar tragedies were to happen.

Seran suggests Haroun can MAKE Airships, however, and Szaz realizes such an ability would be a definite game changer.  Szaz pulls out rose petals and scatters it around the table to secure their conversation further with a ritual for secrecy.


Galeo and Jaric have shared more tales of Count Kether, and Miralia admits it sounds like a completely different person.  Her husband never used Swords.  At most, he would use a tool to disable the other by inserting it into some place that impaired the other.  The confusion continues.

To entertain the two, Miralia draws out an orb like artifact that opens to reveal what looked like a miniature theater.  Inside the dark dome, Galeo and Jaric stare in surprise as tiny ven address them as "The Great Audience" and they ask what tale the Great Audience would like to hear.  The side panel shows different characters.  Miralia presses one and a light shines inside the stage. "The Story of the Husband!"  The tiny ven rush to perform the roles.

Galeo and Jaric realize in shock: it is an Opera.
"They make toys of Operas?" Galeo gasps.  As they look closer, a buzzing feeling forces them to pull their faces away.  Miralia watches with joy as she relishes the Opera.  Jaric and Galeo begin to realize it is no toy.  Instead, somehow, on some Opera House, the presentation is being broadcast to the device, allowing them to watch.  The Husband speaks with the Wife and the Dowager.  The three gain inspiration from it.  "I hold the Mirror to my eyes. And I hold the ring you have given me.  Show me where he is!"  The mirror lights up.
"This isn't a toy," Jaric concludes.  Miralia even shares that she has a friend who owns an Arena. "Whenever she desires, a fight is held and she gets to bet on who she believes will win the match."  Galeo spends time to illustrate both Count Kether's she has met and Miralai identifies the one in the airship as the real one.  Galeo, however, clarifies that she met his Tulpa.    The Master of the Ruk seems to have her husband in her possession.

He did, however, ask Galeo to remind him if she were to see him again that he is a Tulpa.  Miralia asks them if they are willing to speak before the Senate of this, because the Senate claims that Count Kether is already dead.  She wants them to help her find the truth.


More rumbles in the sky.


Then tragedy.

As Szaz and the others carry the conversation under the Ritual of the Rose, Nia eventually mentions her friendship with one of the Earls.  This makes Szaz panic.  "She knows," she tells them.  "You should have told me!"

Almost impossibly quickly, the Vashna can be seen mobilizing outside.  Countess Kether and her entourage are among those the Vashna end up blocking along the road.  When she asks what is going on, the Vashna declare the accusation is that of Conspiracy Against the Senate, and Conspiracy to Murder one of the Earls.  Miralia asks the guards for the perpetrators.  They mention the Ork Ven: all of them are mentioned as suspects.  Galeo and Jaric remain hidden inside the carriage.

Galeo suggests they "stir the pot more" to confuse their opponents. Jaric asks if Miralia is truly wishing for their help to face the Senate.  If yes, then in exchange, she is to help them with support for the next hearing to free Haroun.  Miralia plans to step down from her position, and give her three sons land to become title holders.  "Three votes.  I can offer you three votes."


"Are they here for us?" Seran asks Szaz.  The Vashna march into the Guildhouse and demand for the ones they are hunting to surrender.   The door slams open.  Veth tumble to the sides away from the Vashna as they stomp forward and spread out to find the others, Szaz turns to Nia and whispers, "You have to make this convincing.  You have to hurt me well.  While I'm recovering the enemy will think you are recovering too."

Szaz has Nia and Seran force her to fight, and make sure the Vashna bear witness to this when it happens. However, Nia suddenly discovers that her body ceases to function as she steers it!  She moves towards Szaz and strikes, dealing a deadly blow upon the Spider.  Knowing there is precious little that she can do to control herself, she reaches inward and reaches backwards to whatever is attempting to control her.  She taps into the source, and now knows she will recognize the Sorcerer who tried to use The Puppet on her.

The enemy, however, forces Nia herself to speak words accusing Szaz as the assailant using sorcery.  The Vashna quickly disable them all and force them to surrender.


"The respectable thing to do right now would be to surrender us to the Senate," Jaric offers.  But Miralai is determined to face the Senate.  She tells the two that she will do what she can to achieve her own goal, as well as help them with theirs, in a single goal.  They are to flee, but as Jaric states it clearly, "Make sure we trip."

"We are friends, are we not?" Galeo asks her.    Miralia agrees.

Miralia has them hurry out of the carriage, and as they run, she calls out to the Vashna and point towards their escape. "There!  Stop them!"

The Vashna surround them and even Szaz is held under the blade.

The Vashna question her if she can honestly answer if she had used sorcery.  Szaz remarks, "I am still a Senator.  It is her word against mine."


The next morning.
Morning invocations begins as the Senators are gathered.
Countess Kether comes into the Senate Hall, wearing a brown outfit.  Many question her presence given she is not a Senator.

"Countess, this is out of order.  Tremendously out of order.  Only Senators are allowed to be present in the Morning Invocation."

"I stand here-"

"Your presence is not permitted, Countess.  You have no right to-"

"I stand here to CLAIM the Seat of my husband, Count Kether.  Unless you are to tell me he is not dead?"

The Senate remains silent.

"Then I am here, as Senator Kether.  Proceed," Miralia tells them all and without another word, steps into where her husband used to sit.

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