Thursday, August 21, 2014

After the Rain ep13 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Thirteen
"The Boarder"

It is Autumn.

Galeo Silja is with Hero and the two are quietly on the balcony overlooking their land.  They share a quiet moment with their child as they talk about how  it has been a few weeks since Galeo had returned.  Galeo talks about the dangers of definition and about how there are things out there that defy it.  Cassalanter is the name the child is given; a name that means: Rise from Defeat.  Hero shows Galeo a missive that came for her and she sees that it is a formally prepared invitation from a Duke.  The seal is unfamiliar.  Hero explains it is from the Duchess of the Ruins Beneath and it is the third letter.  He tells Galeo she has been visiting and has helped them handle trouble in her absence.  She was welcomed to join for dinner once, Hero admits, and he found her fascinating but admits he is not certain she can be trusted.  She seemed to be deeply concerned of all of them.  

Seran Throne sits in an empty chamber.  The Staff are gathered outside, afraid to speak to her.  One finally gains courage enough to step inside and asks if she will be having dinner.  Once again Seran says no.  She has not had dinner in a month.  She continues to stare at the empty seat across the table.  The Seat where Lukas used to sit.    She scans on the notations and papers that Lukas has been maintaining through the Seasons and feels more the pain of his absence.  His meticulous and resourcefulness shows in how he has kept track of the duties.  She finds a letter from the U'vshanadir and finds it talking about the Meridian House supporting their petition for additional seats in the Senate.  She finds it shocking that they now have a voice in the Senate.  To her surprise, she finds the letters to be penned by Maja Thayl - Jaric's mother!

Jaric Thayl and Nia Jalan are with the other survivors from the ruins of the fallen City.  Many remain in states of intense shock and disbelief, the world around them having fallen asunder.   Camps have been set up, with many of the Ven still struggling to cope with the reality of now being... outside the Mistweir.  Haroun is busy working on the Ritual to form a new Airship, using the Secret Name which had been whispered to him by Nia Jalan.   Jaric finds Haroun in another part of the camp, however, and is surprised to see him not working on the ritual.  As Jaric chases after him, he slips and injuries his leg.  Haroun stops to help Jaric and upon exhaling reveals that he is actually Szaz.  He learns that Szaz had been stealing resources from the camp and learn that many of them Spiders are being targeted by others as being reason their City had fallen.  Jaric suggests they trust in the Ork friends to lead them home, just as they did in the stories before.

Nia and his ork talker, Bowen, are watching Haroun working on the Ritual.  Miralia Yvarai watches over Bowen with a bloodsword.  Other ven in the area display anger towards them, and blame Nia for the destruction of the city.  But when Miralia challenges them and even throws away the Bloodsword to allow him to prove the challenge, the man leaves.  Nia learns the bloodsword is Seran's; it was left with Miralia at the port.   Miralia asks if all *this* was expected or part of the plan, but Nia admits they planned to just slip away in secrecy.  Miralia laments how her three children are dead, how she now stands in the Ruin and wonders if she shouldn't have helped them.  Nia counters that if they could have done this, they wouldn't have needed their help.  They notice that the airships are still flying their preordained paths in the sky.  Nia peers and realizes the orks that swarmed around the ships in formation are no longer there!  When they discuss the orks that rescued them, Bowen shares they are known as "Ghosts" in their people, spoken of only in legend.

The Demon Lillandra
Then come the screams.
Accompanying the sound, buzzing.

None anticipate the sudden attack of orks - massive gigantic wasps - that swarm around them and begin assaulting the ven!  The gigantic insects tears into the survivors, with stingers almost a foot and a half long.  Nia and Miralia start running, dodging the orks that close in.   They run for the closest body of water and submerge within to hide.  Jaric and Szaz hide with Szaz using her Prayer to hide them once again.  Then, footfalls.  A foot stands close to Jaric's face.  He peers and sees a naked woman with red flowing hair.  A wasp lands near her and she holds its head gently.

"Do not kill them all.  Let us let this Terror last a few more nights.  Recall the rest and return to the hive."

The wasp flies away.  She smiles and mutters, "I'll find you eventually.  You do know that.  There is no escaping me forever."  Szaz trembles, feeling the need to breathe soon.  Jaric watches as the red-haired woman draws out a broken piece of pearl.  She cuts her cheek to call out to Galeo.

Galeo hears the voice.  All across the distance, Galeo hands Cassalanter to Hero and the two leave quietly.  Jaric overhears the red-haired woman's side of the conversation.  The woman seems amused that Galeo has named her that way.  She offers to allow Galeo to let them see how the others are.  Galeo turns the offer down.  The woman asks Galeo for a "favor" and in return, she gets to see how the others are.  The boarder is to have full hospitality.

Jaric, not having a plan, speaks up and is now visible.  The red-haired woman offers them a chance to speak to each other.  The two can see each other now.   Jaric asks why the red-haired woman is dragging out the punishment upon the ven given they've already destroyed the city.  She talks about Galeo having let her "in" and how Galeo is the one who knows where the single person she is looking for is. Jaric asks for the red-haired woman to leave the survivors alone.   Red-haired woman offers one Season.  Jaric suspects a Season is not enough.  Galeo asks what the nature of the border is and she tells her it is an old friend of yours.  Jaric hears only the demon's side and retorts, "I have no Friends!"  Jaric hears about a boarder, about a place to stay, about him being at her door but then the conversation with Galeo ends.

Szaz, unable to hold her breathe longer, stands.  The demon admits she did not expect the Spider there, and Jaric muses the demon doesn't seem to know everything.  She stresses to Jaric that they are not her enemy, and wonders if he has finally met "the Author".  About finally helping him remember.  And about why of all names, he chose Jaric's.

Galeo goes to gate and finds the boarder turns out to be Lukas.  Lukas is terrified and tired, and does not quite understand why no one knows who he is.  When Hero walks up to check on what's going on, Galeo discovers not even Hero recognizes Lukas!  Lukas mentions he was praying to Thalia for help, and she whispered to him to go here for help.  Galeo asks if Lukas is a Fox and he admits he is one. He was Blooded in their absence.  She worries he is an Yvarai.  Lukas trembles as he asks why can't others recognize him and presses to know why Galeo can.  She let's him in.

It is Winter.

Strangely, this has been one of the strangest Winters in Shanri.  Not a single place experiences Trouble.  No wandering orks.  No avalanches that endanger roads.   Galeo and Seran receive invitations from Maja Thayl, Jaric's mother, to an Althua to welcome the Duchess of the Ruins Beneath as she formally plants her Castle.   Seran opts to attend alone.   Galeo decides to bring her husband and child with her.  Lukas asks why he cannot speak to Seran and she reminds him that it is best not to go against a near omni-potent force.  Lukas accepts that is also what Thalia demands.

In the Wilderness, Haroun's airship finally completes.  With the vessel now floating above them, the survivors cheer believing they have found salvation in sight.  A former Earl asks Nia if this is when they say goodbye and when the ork ven leave them.  Nia throws back that she is sure she can find them a tribe to fit in with.  Dalvinosh Steele asks her if she is sincere in her Insult but then retracts it given there as so "few of us left".   He asks Nia what their demands will be.  Nia admits that might be best discussed with Haroun and the others, although she admits it is the intention.  Haround declares to all from above that safe passage is to be granted and hospitality granted save for all those who voted against him in the Senate hall.  He adds that for those who want reconsideration, to gather below.    Nia and Jarik explore a nearby ruin to gather what artifacts they can before they leave.

At the Althua, Maha Thayl meets Galeo, Cassalanter and Errol of the Forgiving Hands, a vassal.  Errol is the identity Lukas is to start embracing.    Hero, however, pulls Galeo aside to question why they suddenly have a new Vassal.  He suspects she is lying to him about something and confronts her about it.  He outright asks her if she is having an Affair.  She angrily outbursts about how if she was having an affair, he would be a painter again.  He begs her to just answer directly and say who he is.  Galeo admits she has voices in her head and just need some time to decide on things.  Hero reminds her he trusts her.  She reminds him he only loves her.  "Trust and love are different things."

Seran Thorne arrives.

Errol stares at her with yearning.  Galeo reminds him to keep himself distant from her.  Hero introduces Seran to the baby.  Seran asks for Galeo and Hero shows her where they are.  Errol is stunned, staring at her.  Galeo has to kick his knee to make him curtsy.  Seran does not recognize Errol at all.  Seran asks why he was staring at her and who he is and Galeo just explains he's a new addition to her household.  Maha Thayl interrupts the conversation and pulls Galeo to meet the crowd, introducing her as the mother of the baby.   Seran ends up standing alone.

Maha Thayl talks about how this is the first baby in the year, and how the other child that has been born has been of the Duchess.  They all turn to watch the balcony as the music changes, announcing the arrival of the guest of honor.

Back in the Wilderness, Haroun surveys the passengers and directly asks Bowen to give count on how many of the ven are arriving.  Jaric turns to ask Jeeves something, but then realizes he isn't with him.  He had gone missing since the storm.  Jaric turns to Nia and asks if she thinks they are still in the ruins somewhere.  When Nia asks who, Jaric wonders how the two others have fared.  He also wonders about the records lost in the ruins.  Haroun asks that the two share their views on the ven that voted against him.  He admits he planned to leave them to die but now is considering to still bring them given that would be something they would like less.  Nia reminds them that their Senate does frown upon the unblooded and the House-less ones.   She tells them she did claim some to be under his shadow.  Jaric admits that he suspects the Spiders will be spreading out in Shanri once they arrive.   Haroun also wonders where Pyotr is, given the man was kind to him.  They offer the views that they should help them so they owe him.

Haroun address the ven below after rappelling down on a rope.  He tells them someone once inspired him to do that as a show of courage.  He tells them they are all welcome to ride with them back home if they can hold on.  Haroun heads back up and tells them they will handle honorifics when they return.  He snarls that he recalls how long they all left him in that cell.  Bowen reports there are a total of 139 ven on board.  Not counting the ven hanging on from below.  Addressing in the Old Tongue, Haroun commands the ship to set sail and it rises.  Nia wishes they had archers to shoot the ones that let go.

Bowen whispers to Nia that he is uncomfortable that Haroun commands him.  Nia admits Haron has gone through many things.  What he suffered has transformed him.  Jaric realizes he thinks Seran is probably dead.  Szaz asks if they are headed back to their Shanri and Jaric even tells Szaz she has a place in his Castle.   "Obviously the Spiders will need to restablish themselves in order to be of use again.  If I know my wife, I will have a city of my own waiting for me.  I can trust you to manage it in time."  Jaric does have one request in mind and he motions to the man in yellow.  He asks Szaz to watch over her personally.

Dranna Ru, Duchess of the Ruins Beneath
"So this is us heading home?" Jaric asks Nia.
Nia admits she thinks so.

At the Althua, the curtain opens.

The Duchess wears a headdress as large as the woman herself.  Her clothing is disturbingly animated and while everyone claps, Seran and Galeo share a horrified glance at each other as they recognize the clothing.  The Duchess is wearing people, who adjust their legs and arms to hold poses.  Seran and Galeo recognize the swarming orks that nearly attacked them back at Isolde's Castle.  Then they recognize her face.

It is Dranna Ru.

"The Duchess of the Ruins Beneath!" Maha Thayl declares.   And everyone applauds.

Galeo turns to Hero.  "And you had her over for dinner?"
"She came to visit," Hero explains, "She left her Vassals outside."  He explains how a carriage of ven bodies was at their gates.  Bodies of ven clutching each other.  Bodies hugging one another.

The two ask why no one seems to notice seems to notice that Dranna Ru is dressed in orkish clothing.  He explains that during the Senate's Winter gathering, during the Morning Invocation, part of the building began to collapse.  That was when a hand made of ven bodies rose from the ruins beneath.  The hand rose to support the Senate Hall.  The ven expected an attack or a moment of Mass Murder but a week passed without threat.  It was a day after that week when Dranna Ru emerged from the depths to speak for the hand.  She even told Hero Galeo's Secret Name.  "That's why I believed she knew you."

Dranna Ru surveys the crowd.  Her eyes catch Galeo and there is the moment of recognition.  Seran, on the other hand, stares at the woman she failed to saved.  Dranna Ru also recognizes Seran.  She then pulls back and closes the curtain.

"Isn't she lovely?" Maha Thayl asks the two, talking about how Shanri has become so unique and special. "Who would have ever thought there would ever be an Ork House?

Back in the Wilderness, the screams continue every night as someone else falls from the ropes.  Szaz petitions to Haroun and the others to not have this happening.  She reminds them of Ven law and that they should be treated as Ven.  Jaric counters with the famous saying, "What you hold you own," and tells her if they wanted to live, they should have held on.  She counters that the ven are all "under their shadow" and is their responsibility!  She turns to Haroun and reminds him all on the vessel are to be given hospitality.  Nia counters that the ven are not "on the Ship" instead they are "below it" but Szaz then questions if that means any Vassals outside their Castle then are free game?  Haroun just settles this by asking Jaric, Nia and Szaz if they want them.

Szaz does not answer.

And finally in the Althua, Errol (Lukas) watches Seran in the distance, wishing he could speak to Seran.  His willpower eventually fails and he starts to take steps towards Seran to speak to her.  But before he gets close enough, someone grabs his hand and forces him to turn.  The man smiles at Errol and makes him stop.

"Zsanos Yvarai, Count Kether.  I am friends with your wife."

"My life?" Errol asks, shocked.

"You're Lukas, aren't you?" Count Kether grins.  He tugs at his arm, "Come... let us talk."

Zsanos Yvarai, Count of Kether

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