Tuesday, October 28, 2014

After the Rain ep17 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Seventeen
"All the Pieces Are In Place"

Jaric Thayl is with Jalani Ballan when the two find a chance to discuss the events of the previous nights.  The two discuss the importance of Infinitum and how the children were meant to inherit lands.  But given the new titles begin rewarded, the two children now have their own lands to manage.  Jalani asks Jaric if this was his plan and he admits he thought it was hers.  He finally asks her when she was Blooded, and she admits she always had been.  They talk about how ever since he has been obsessing over the old world, he has been forgetting many things.  She admits she thought he always referred to her as Unblooded as to not make things uneasy for his friends.  "I have no friends," he admits in reference to Galeo, Seran and Nia.   She asks him why he seems to focus so much on Madelyn Yvarai and he admits he fears that if she is even a tenth of what the character of legend was, the danger on them all is far too great.  Especially since that means the Demon of the fall would be real.  "We have already destroyed one Shanri... again.  I just fear for everything.  Now that I know they are more than likely true...."

Jalani admits that she knows of the demon and that it stalks Jaric and his companions.  Jaric still feels that things don't make proper sense and that Haroun is hiding something quite deliberately.  He knows that Haroun has the most motivation to Murder the City Ven, so he does not quite understand why Sorio Rusu confessed to the crime.   Jalani suspects it was because he was asked to.   When Jaric admits he also fears of the matter regarding Count Kether, Jalani admits now the Count will have trouble infiltrating their lands now that there are four Provinces he will have to try to penetrate.  In the end, Jaric admits he feels he had put a lot of work into Infinitum and feels he has to still watch over the land.

"Just remember who your true enemies are," Jalani reminds Jaric.

The rescued City Ven garbed in yellow is brought up in the discussion and Jalani admits she has also seen Jaric speak to "someone" in the thin air, supposedly of someone garbed in yellow.  She asks him if the "man in yellow" is just someone in his head.  Jaric distinctly remembers seeing him on the ship and wonders if Haroun can verify it.  Jalani offers her arm to Jaric and suggests they go look for the man.

They find him in the City of Catan.

Jalani can see the man as well.  She asks Jaric who the man is, and he admits he is important but does not know for certain who he is.  They speak with the man and he turns to Jaric, recognizing him.   The man rushes forward to Jaric but the Riskmen hold him at bay.  Jaric asks if he knows where he is and the man talks of an airship, of orks murdering them, and of the winds of a spiteful wench. The man claims to be Gaius Mwrr.  Jaric formally welcomes him, remarking that even if Staniga is no more, he is welcome in his lands.  Gaius recognizes the place as the other Shanri where the Orks took the survivors of the fall.  Jaric warns him that Madelyn Yvarai is alive.  Gaius tells them he recalls Madelyn as the woman who destroyed the city, and when asked if Madelyn had anything to do with the demon, he responds, "What demon?"  The response puzzles Jaric, who knows the true Gaius Mwrr would have known of the demon.  When he tells Gaius that the demon is a red-haired woman, Gaius calls that woman instead Thalia Yvarai and that she visits him nightly.  To him, he is rose-haired... fair-skinned... beautiful.  He claims she calms the storm in his head.

Jalani however pulls Jaric aside and tells him the man cannot be Gaius Mwrr.  She admits to him the reason is because Gaius Mwrr is a Suaven now and that he has changed his name.  When Jaric asks what she means, she stresses that it may be best he speak to his mother.  She admits there are reasons her mother favored her the most among his many suitors, and why Nia always refers to him as "Brother Snake."  She also hints that he may have had a brother he does not know of.  One the family kept secluded.  Infinitum is made the second Province under the Marquese and will allow Jaric to watch over the Province and keep the man safe.

Meanwhile at Meridian, Haroun Q'n remains under arrest of the Vashna and is permitted to remain with Seran Thorne.   Seran had been informed by the Staff that Haroun had been keeping to himself a lot.  He answers the call for meals, but barely does anything else besides eat, bathe, and sleep.  She visits him in the room he has been allowed to stay in and finds her grateful for her generosity.  They discuss the confusion on whether or not Madelyn Yvarai is her Vassal or Maja Thayl's.  Haroun worries that Madelyn is attempting to take her land though Seran counters that she is certain the woman is serving loyally.  Seran mutters back that if Madelyn attempts anything, she would just kill her.  Haroun, however, questions how she is planning to watch over the land and keep her from stealing it.  Seran admits she is trying to arrange things in a way that she can find new land in Shanri and give it to Haroun.  Ultimately, Seran insists she will find a way for Haroun to have land, even if she truly hates how the Ven world works.  He starts addressing her as "Milady" and she finds it even more infuriating when he starts saying, "Venta.." whenever he does something that irritates her.

The discussion then shifts to the topic of Orks and Seran muses how much Haroun had changed since Nia helped him get past his fear.   Seran feels grateful that this was one of the better changes that happened.  "Everything always changes," Haroun adds, "If we didn't want things to change, we should have just become Bloodswords."   The topic then shifts to Havar Mwrr who threatened to defile the Temple of Althea Thorne but Haroun focuses instead on the fact that Seran seems to be trying to save the world.  He outlines how he is baby-sitting him, while protecting the Temple, while watching over Madelyn, while doing all these other things.  When the topic of watching over her own land comes into view, her having no Seneschal comes into focus.  Haroun offers to be her Seneschal. When Seran questions that direction given he used to be a Duke, he tells her that it would better be him than Madelyn who take that role.  She accepts it.

Madelyn Yvarai comes into the room, apologizing for having walked in on them.  She admits she noticed that the staff don't seem to be trained, and suggests that she may need a Seneschal.  "I have one," Seran tells her and Haroun bows his head as he tells them both, "Venta."  Madelyn realizes she already has one and excuses herself to go check out the market.  After she leaves, Haroun warns Seran that Madelyn is working on stealing the land.  He warns her that Madelyn is gaining the confidence of the Vassals and attempting to sway their loyalties to her side.  "Mark my words, Madelyn is planning something.  You will realize one of your Vassals will be dead before Winter ends."

But Seran is confident that her Vassals love her.

In Purenote, Galeo Silja has Maja Thayl visit her.  They discuss the matter of her secret name having been exposed to the Ven world.  "So Artemisia," Maja teases her and admits she envies Galeo how they all know her secret name.  She can only imagine how that feels.  She stresses how ven society was impressed how Galeo stood against Havar Mwrr.  "If an artist did not back down against a threat against the Ven, why can't the rest of us do that?"  They talk of whispers from ven society of the Merchant Houses would love to have someone like Galeo on their side.  Maja adds that she has heard that the Foxes wonder if they have the right Earl.   She reminds Galeo that puppets are only puppets if they don't know they have a hand in their ass.  She asks if Galeo's act in the Senate was her attempt to regain the spotlight which Cherno had stolen.  Galeo insists that true artists set trends, not follow them.  Maja asks if Galeo has seen any of Cherno's work and Galeo realizes she Maja knows something about Cherno that she has yet to admit.  Galeo admits to have heard that a new piece Cherno is unveiling is named Artemisia, and will be a dedication towards her bravery.   Galeo is to be told just before it is unveiled.  They discuss Maja's recent marriage and Galeo even compliments her on the size of the stone in her ring.  The discussion quickly shifts to Jaric, on how as a child he used to believe he was to be Blooded as a Serpent.  Maja muses it probably has to do with the activities that they were engaged in back when he was a child.  When Galeo mentions how Jaric obsesses over the old realm, Maja admits it may have to do with her bringing him to a Shrine back when he was young.  But quickly, she retracts the statement when Galeo tries to ask about the Shinre.  Maja just refers to it as a Holding and shows off instead her wedding ring, of glass with an obsidian core.

Maja asks Galeo something of serious note, so serious that she asks Galeo to swear a Blood Oath of secrecy if she is interested.  She mentions that there is a group among the Ven that very few are aware of and Maja admits she would like to tell Galeo more.  The Oath is to never speak of the topic to anyone, save one and only one whom she has chosen to share it with.  Maja stresses that she has now used her own Oath to tell Galeo about it.  Galeo agrees.  The ritual is then cast and the two swear the Blood Oath upon a quill with a green emerald.  The Oath is to expire when they break it, or when they die.  Maja tells Galeo that there is a Sisterhood among the ven and that she would like her to be part of it.  The Sisterhood's goal is the absolute protection of the ven from the threats that have attempted to destroy it since the time of the Sorcerer-Kings.  Maja even admits that Jaric was merely a tool to find another member, Jalani Ballan.  If Galeo chooses to join the group, she will be invited to be devoted to The Hidden Suaven, Gaius Mwrr.

Nia Jalan is at Ven Illudil, speaking with her wife, Janine.  Janine proudly wears the orkish jewelry she owns and patiently waits for Nia to start the discussion.  Nia however, is looking outside the window, as she tells Janine she feels she has strayed from her intended path.  She talks of how she feels the structure beneath her feet are crumbling and she is filled with disquiet and concern.  She stresses even losing her book that contained all the things about orks that she has learned.  She admits not knowing what to do.   Janine merely tells Nia that she should just throw it all away.  Janine stresses how none of that matters, even if they are hers.  They only matter so long as she holds them too tightly, and they only feel lost each time she finds her hands empty.  "That's what your hands truly are, Nia.  They are empty."  Janine then stresses to Nia that Shanri and everything she truly owns are inside of her.  While the world trusts her, or at least believes it trusts her, Nia has yet to truly trust herself.  When Nia asks what she is supposed to do, Janine tells her to just stop trying to be whatever everyone else expects her to be.  When Nia vents out her frustration on how even Haroun has changed, Janine admits she does not know who Haroun is.  Janine mistakes Haroun to be the man Seran (or her mother) was sleeping with.  Nia admits she feels she has seen to many Senates in a year.  Janine felt surprised that Nia showed so much attention on politics when she expected Nia to explore the Ork villages once she found an Ork Talker.  Janine then admits that Jaric's children have paid her a few visits to see the Volcano, claiming to have been given tasks by their mother.

They discuss the Ork salve and how it had simply killed the spy that they had caught lurking in their lands.  Nia hates how the ven seem to be paying attention to her lands now.  Janine stresses that spies are sent because of the people, not the land.  Nia considers ceasing to focus on political things.  Janine even asks who Artemisia is, not knowing why the name seems to be so important and Nia shares the events in the Senate and how Galeo's secret name was declared to all.  Janine then shares that Dranna Ru paid her a visit in Nia's absence.  They talked about how the Ruins are teeming with Orks and that Nia would be delighted to visit when she returned.  Janine admits they should count on the benefits they find each day, given this Winter had no Trouble.  Nia talks about it being time that her hands ceased being empty.  Dranna Ru claims that the Orks have a Festival come Winter, and that they were invited to attend.  Nia admits she is interested in going, but is not happy that the Duchess of the Ruins Beneath was in charge of hosting it.  Janine reveals an Orking thing that looked like a severed baby's hand in a cage which she is supposed to release if they are attending.   Nia opts to ask Bowen, the Ork Talker, about the Festival - not wanting to use the odd hand thing.  Bowen tells them that there is one, celebrating the Four Gods of the Orks: Keethdowmga the Mother, Gowthdukah the Wise, Bashthraka the Warrior of Storms and Pugg the Trickster.  Bowen explains the Gods are different from the ones they rescued from the falling Shanri.  He explains it is to celebrate the Orks that gain child and to commemorate the events of the previous year, and a warning to the four gods to bless them in the coming year or they will kill them.  All the Thraka celebrate in their own Tribes at the final weeks of Winter.  Bowen also admits that the House Ork is... foreign to them.  Nia considers going to Bowen's Festival instead of Dranna Ru's and Janine offers to watch over the Province in her absence.  "Already I can see the spark reigniting," Janine smiles.  Nia admits it is Haroun's fault that she found herself wanting to become a Senator but both agree Winter is the best time to end things.

In the Province of Rabbas, with its vast landscape of rolling hills and shorelines, Jaric notices one shoreline has a massive holding under construction.  Enroute to the castle, they see five individuals who hail the caravan to stop.  The five turn out to be Ork ven who are begging for food.  They recognize Jaric Thayl to be the man who has given them a second chance of life.  They call out that they were to be cared for and welcomed, but Jaric counters he never promised any such thing.  Snowballs are thrown at Jaric but Jaric merely commands his Vassal to drive on but Jaric deems them not worth the steel.  Enroute, Jaric sees a holding he does not recognize: a small Opera house.  He learns it is a theater from his Vassals and finds it thought-provoking.  He finds more Holdings in the region of the Castle.. a garden.. a park.. and realizes they are intended for the Veth. Jaric learns his parents are not in the Castle and its gates are closed.  They instead are directed to the City and are brought to the new Holding there: a public bath house.  He steps inside and finds his parents there, bathing with the veth.  Unthinkable!

Inside, he speaks with his parents who seem to be bathing happily with the veth.  Jaric expresses how bothered he is that they need to bathe in someone else's house.  He learns of Rips, a currency the Merchants use wherein they rip part of a contract as payment.  Jaric talks to them of the matters of the Senate recently, and shares how he is bothered that things were maneuvered without his consent, or at least without having him informed on what will happen.  Maja admits that she maneuvered things because she had to lest Galeo would have had her way, even if it was Nia who spoke during the hearing.  Maja admits she wanted his family to be ready and now that all his children has vassals.  Maja even admits her admission during the Althua was merely something she could not resist doing - and how she loved everyone's faces that moment.  Maja urges Jaric to focus on the true reason he has come to visit.  She then shares to Jaric how as a child, he overheard a lot of things that she used to discuss with her friends back then.  She admits that may have affected him and now made him obsess over things of that era.  She however admits she can only tell him more by bringing him "there."  Jaric wonders aloud if she couldn't have trusted him to take care of things, but Maja reminds him he was halfway across Shanri and she felt she needed to act quickly.  Jaric however feels he does not appreciate her meddling with his affairs, stressing not even Jalani knew of the plans.  She tells him this is the last time she will step in and interfere with his family.  Jaric even adds he is bothered that they seem to have been just products of a Romance.  But Maja shares it was a Romance that reached a fitting end.  Jaric, however, stresses that Maja admit what she is trying to protect them from since clearly Maja isn't concerned about Madelyn Yvarai.  Maja once more insists she can only say more if Jaric is willing to see what she wants him to see.  Maja gets dressed and heads out for him to follow.

Meridian receives another visitor.  At the gates, a man stays composed as he waits.  Lukas Q'n, known to everyone else as Errol of the Forgiving Hands stands outside.  Inwardly, he feels stressed at how no one in the Province he used to manage recognizes him.  When Seran comes to meet with him, Lukas struggles to stay composed.  Haroun is introduced to Lukas as the Seneschal and Lukas is unable to ask, "Were you not a Duke?"  When asked if they've met, Lukas repeatedly stresses they have not.  Seran asks why Lukas is landless and Lukas tries to explain that Galeo and Hero... and the land... Haroun leans close to Seran and admits that the man clearly seems too addle-brained to be a seneschal.  Galeo's letter explains that Lukas is trained to be a seneschal and is the vassal Galeo promised.  Lukas blurts out that it was volcanoes that destroyed his land.  That it was because of FOUR volcanoes that destroyed the land.  Lukas ends up asking what happened to Haroun's airships and again Haroun asks if they have met.  Seran insists that the man still needs to do his duty to fulfill Galeo's debt and Lukas offers to be her Swordsman.  Because they could speak more, a shriek pierces the air.  They hurry down the corridor and Lukas opts to stay in the room, confused with how to handle things.

Seran and Haroun find the dead body of one of her vassals, the Court Scholar: Waterscore.  And when Haroun inspects the body he deems it killed by poison.  Seran is aghast, and asks them what he had eaten last.  As they explain, Madelyn arrives, sees the corpse and gasps.  Seran realizes it was Madelyn who did it, but deep down Seran realizes she cannot admit it without this leading once more to a huge drama with the Senate's involvement.  But Seran can tell the rest of the Staff are aware that she did it as well. Madelyn suggests the wine be checked for poison, and Seran simply commands that the Seneschal handle it.  Madelyn then mutters how without a Court Scholar, the Province would be in danger. "Surely, there must be someone who can take the role..."  Haroun suddenly realizes and suggests that Errol (Lukas) can take that role.  Seran thinks it might be best to hire a new Scholar from the outside.  Madelyn offers to keep the things in order while she seeks for one.  Seran agrees and tells Madelyn to research a ritual she needed from the Scholar.   Haroun and Seran both share later in private they know it is her, but realize they cannot prove it.  Haroun wonders why Seran seems to be protective of the man Galeo sent her, but Seran explains it is merely an exchange of service.    They return to find Lukas sniffing a pillow.


Lukas panicks and returns the pillow to the ground and admits he found it familiar... strange.  He found it strange.  Seran tells him of the household having a matter of Murder, and considers to have Lukas act as the beginning of the spy network for the Province.  Haroun mutters Seran handled things much better when her husband was around.  Lukas takes that moment to ask what happened to her husband and learns as far as Seran knows, Lukas had died.  Lukas learns for the first time what his wife knows of what happened to him.  Seran is uncertain why anyone with four volcanoes would call their land forgiving.  Haroun asks Lukas one last question: Where was this Province?  Seran draws out a map and Lukas explains it is no longer there.  He claims the land all went under when the volcanoes erupted.  Lukas tries shifting the discussion to the duties of the Roadmen or the Spy network and is confused why none of the Roadmen are still ready to be the Master of the Road.  Lukas agrees to be the beginning of the Spy Network and accepts it is a job he can fulfill.

Back in Purenote, Galeo uses her network to locate Miralia Yvarai, formerly Miralia Kether, is well-dressed in layered clothing and fashionable clothing.  Her clothes designate her as a member of House Merchant.  When Galeo tells her they have much to discuss, Miralia injects if the discussion will have anything to do with her dead sons.   Miralia reminds her of their discussion back in their Shanri and how this place was supposed to be a vast paradise of lands and how it was meant to be what is best for her family.  She stresses how it has been a few months since the city fell, and how she had to fend off for herself to survive all that time.  Galeo stresses there was no way to know who had survived.  Miralia counters however that their world had the Blackhand, while this world has spies.  Galeo reminds her that she was trapped in the middle of an interesting debate.  Miralia remembers more Galeo sneaking out of a prison, visiting her in her home, and confusing her with arguments after leaving, watching a storm take her sons away.  She talks of Orks emerging from the sewers to pull them away and how she never saw Galeo in the airship that carried them here.  Galeo tells her she was swept away by a greater force, and wishes she had other ways to have returned.

The invitation, Galeo explains, is for another reason and seeing Miralia among the Merchants is something Galeo is happy to see.  Clearly, from the many venomous words, it is clear that Miralia still finds Galeo to be very Cunning and manipulative, and how she and her family were victims of such traits.  Galeo tries to ask Miralia of what she knows of Havar, given Miralia was a very connected woman, and in doing so, Galeo hoped to reduce whatever negative views others have of their people.  "After all, we have not quite resolved the debate yet have we:  Are your people Ven?"  Galeo stresses it is not coming from a place of malice, but from something more important; Galeo claims to feel responsible for many of the other ven and hopes to do what she can to help.  Miralia simply wants more information on the man who threatened her.  Her voice raises as she reminds Galeo how much help she gave them back in their Shanri, risking both her family and title, and how now Galeo simply seems to be attempting to get more information from her in exchange for more help.  Miralia challenges her to state what Galeo has done to help them.  Galeo raises that she is protecting the Quill from falling in the hands of others, and staying subtle and quiet to hide from all the others that all of them signed the quill. Miralia finds the claims outrageous given the declarations that the quills were used in the Senate hearings of the past.   For Miralia these are semantics.  For Galeo, however, these are specifics.   Miralia asks if she has made votes, or given recognition towards them, but Galeo admits she had plans to do so but was not able to.  She even admits she was planning to recognize Madelyn to speak for them, but she dropped that recognition.  "I don't have an advantage now," Galeo stresses.

For Miralia, she feels they sided with the wrong team.  She asks Galeo to see come Spring how many of the 132 survivors will remain.   She reminds Galeo how when they arrived, they were given lands, given Food, given chances to cast their shadows upon others.  They showed Hospitality.  The Senate have yet to do the same.  Galeo asks if they would have done the same for 132.  Miralai admits they would have found a way.  Galeo feels however she judges them without judging their own actions with the same standard she uses on them.  But Miralia asks Galeo had taken any in since her return and she admits that no she was not able to as the people just separated upon arriving and went their own ways.  Miralia asks why she is here and Galeo admits she wanted to see how she is doing, and if she is doing well, and if she can feed her during the Winter.  "You wouldn't be here if I didn't care. Maybe I was slow and ineffective and I apologize for that."  Miralia mumbles in response that in this Shanri, the monsters are different... they smile.  She tells Galeo that she hopes that her daughter finds land and title some day.  Galeo offers to recognize her to speak in the next Senate hearing in Spring to argue as passionately in front of them as she did in front of her.  Miralia simply nods in response.

"Let us see come Spring then."  Miralia curtsies as she leaves, a non-verbal yet honest attempt to show she is giving Galeo her trust.

Flashback.   Galeo recalls her Oath with Maja.

Maja speaks of the Rain and the great Storm that destroyed the Senate.  Most recall the events as Legend because it is the safest way to remember it.  Madelyn Yvarai made a deal with Demons and they became the vehicle for her Revenge.  Maja speaks of Madelyn's dreams for her daughter, of her frustrations with her in-laws, and of her rival - the Bronze Inquisitor.  "We are Survivors of the Second Attempt upon our existence.  We are the ones who can know this to be true: We are all devoted to Gauis Mwrr, the Suaven of Secrets."  Jaric, as a child, was always with Maja when she visited the Temple of Gaius Mwrr.  He grew up remembering fragments of the stories as he visited the Temple.  Giaus guides the Sisterhood to wipe away all traces of the true history in order to hide the existence of the Demon for fear that others might seek her out and call for her wishes.  For the Sisterhood, there is one sin: They left the ones the Demon could still see.  Maja shares how fearful the Sisterhood was when Jaric shared the letter about their expedition to the Old World and they feared they would lure the Demon back.  Galeo admits the Demon may be the thing that had followed them back.  Maja admits she is telling Galeo this because it was the only way to ask her how they got back and expect an honest answer.  Galeo admits Seran's maid made a wish and the red-haired demon granted it.  The Sisterhood will have to do what it can to stop her.  Galeo admits getting the ven together is next to impossible; there will always be other priorities for them.  Galeo intends for the Merchant House and the ven who have been brought home to all be recognized at some point.  Galeo feels the Merchant House will find loopholes in the laws to use to their advantage and only by recognizing them would they avoid that from happening.  Maja admits that is probably what the ven need to survive against the Demon.  Something the Merchants can teach them.


And the other ven are the cousins they had left behind to keep the Demon busy.  For Maja... for the Sisterhood, there was never a question if they were ven.  But the other ven will never know the truth.

Jaric and Maja revist the Temple.  Jaric's childhood memories slowly awake as he recognizes the halls.  He knows he had been here before.  He knows he grew up playing in these halls.

Nia visits Haroun at Seran's Province and is amused to see he has risen to the position of Seneschal.  During their conversation, Nia notes how Haroun keeps glancing out the window.  Nia asks him if he would want land once more but Haroun turns it down.  He even mentions that during his time as a Duke, none of them were ever invited to his Castle.  His focus was more on the freedom he felt exploring the skies and traveling far distances.  Nia laments that had the Senate allowed her to take him in, he could have had that.  Haroun then shifts the discussion to ask about Lukas, whom they all know to be Errol of the Forgiving Hands.  Nia admits knowing nothing of him which bothers Haroun more given he feels he has met the man before.  Nia considers the possibility Errol is from the other Shanri, given many are renaming them and placing them in their own households.  The discussion quickly shifts to Madelyn Yvarai, who serves as Seran's Court Scholar now and this bothers Nia given she had given Seran a Court Scholar before.  Nia is surprised to see Haroun still drinking wine given the knowledge of Poison in the household.  She asks what happened to him, bothered by how much she has changed in the past  months.  She expresses how upset she feels at too many things having changed including his former uncontrollable fear of Orks.  But given this is Winter, Nia realizes it is time to let go of a lot of things.  She mentions the Festival Bowen is about to attend and unsurprisingly Haroun knows of the event.  Nia laments she really is the last to know of these things.  They toy with the idea of defying the Senate and escaping to attend the Festival, but Haroun opts to stay safe and remain home.

The door opens and Seran arrives.  She asks Haroun about the need to maintain the Glider given it had been used during the last few weeks.  She even suggests Haroun take it for a ride and reminds him that his House Arrest is meant to limit him within the Province.  Nia sees the two playfully hitting each other again and when she playfully hits Nia as well, Nia complains that Seran has no authority to hit her!  Seran however states that she will not obey any orders unless they help Haroun.  Seran quickly rattles her logic that Nia can help Haroun regain a title since as a Baroness Seran has no shadow to cast upon him.  Haroun admits he found managing land such a taxing job.   Seran shifts the discussion back to Madelyn Yvarai having killed the former Court Scholar and Nia questions why Seran has yet to deal with her.  Haroun excuses himself, off to do his duties, and Nia and Seran take that opportunity to discuss Haroun's predicament.  Seran questions how anyone would get into trouble if no one knows about the actions Haroun take?  Nia feels however that given the Murder in her household, it may be best to keep Haroun close.  Nia does suggest to Seran that Haroun might be in a safer position if someone were to marry him.

Maja and Jaric stand inside the temple.  The walls are covered with murals of the falling City, of the Wolves, of the facing cliff.  The woman with her mark on the forehead and the children in her company.  And in the center of the room, a Suaven lies sleeping.  As Jaric tentatively approaches, he sees the markings on the side which name the Suaven:  Gaius Mwrr.

He sees a tome on a pedestal and finds it to be the very tome he had been searching for all these years.  The book that documents Gaius Mwrr's thoughts and feelings of what had transpired.  He reads the first page and finds written, "Let it be secret..."  The later pages speak of Thalia Yvarai, his views on Quan Wei and his suspicions on what she is, what the Dara might be, and of a red-haired woman called Lillandria, and of the massive worm-like thing that served as the mother of monsters.  Sketches of a child.  Of a Bloodsword.  A mirror.  "Here I write all that I know, all that I have witnessed, all that I wish remain secret.  Things that I wish others will remain safe by never knowing.  She hunts for her.  She hunts for Quan Wei. May we find a way to defeat her in the end."

"Do you understand," Maja asks him.

Jaric asks why it couldn't have been explained to him sooner.  Why she didn't say anything.  But Maja says now that he knows and understands, it is no longer a secret she needed to keep from him.  He knew of it without her telling him.  She explains to Jaric the Sisterhood, a group that was formed by Quan Wei's children.  The Sisterhood wipes away all traces of this truth when possible.  Maja explains both Jalani and Galeo are part of this Sisterhood.  Jaric asks why Galeo would be part of this, given her confused mutterings of being the Dara.  Maja is surprised and turns through the tome to show what Gaius wrote of the Dara, and what it states is that it was meant to be the Spiritual Counter against the Demon.  The markings on the page, however, do not match the markings that Galeo has on her forehead.   He shares how she supposedly claims to have the ability to speak with the Suaven.

Seran observes and finds Lukas to be good at his job, handling things pretty well... almost as if he was familiar with the people already.  She talks to Lukas about the new Court Scholar and how she most likely had poisoned the old Scholar.  Lukas is confused why she has not dealt with the woman.  Seran wonders if she should just stab her in the throat and let her die?  Lukas repeats her statement about how what the Senate cannot see then it did not happen, and Seran realizes Lukas was listening in on her with Nia and Haroun earlier.  He admits he was eavesdropping, being her spymaster.  She charges him to keep an eye on Madelyn Yvarai and he promises to do so.  She asks him if the secret he keeps is something that will endanger her.  Lukas is surprised she noticed he has one.  He counters however and asks why he has not chosen to deal with Madelyn Yvarai, and she admits that she finds it odd to have to deal with Ven in this way.  She thinks she will talk to her after this conversation.  Seran however goes back to focus on Lukas and asks if his secret will endanger her land, because if it will then he has to tell her.  He admits he cannot say anything about it, and mumbles even that he's accepted the fact that Haroun never liked him.  Seran catches the slip again and asks Lukas to explain.  Lukas finally admits that there are things he cannot tell her because if he did, Galeo never forgive him.  Seran realizes if ever, she will have to ask her instead then.  Seran asks if he is in an Affair with Galeo. He tells her that all he can say is there will be a time when there will be no need for secrets, and when that time comes it probably will be the last time they will ever see each other.

Seran admits he finds it very easy to talk to him, but given the secret she realizes it might be safer to just leave him alone.

Before leaving Seran's Province, Nia meets with Haroun to make a deal with him.    She is willing to trade him the airship in exchange for something all her sisters have wanted: a child.  Janine and Nia have agreed on this and Nia now has approached Haroun to make the offer.  Haroun is a bit confused, wondering if there is a Ritual for this.  Nia fights against her own shyness to bring this discussion further, as she explains that neither Nia and Janine are capable of having a child on their own.   Haroun is to help them consummate the desire to have another child.  Haroun wonders if he can have til Spring to consider this and Nia supposes he can.  She, however, admits she may lose her never by Spring.

"You are not suggesting right now?"

Nia admits they are here now, and there is no assurance when the Senate would set him free.  He knows the offer of the Airship is merely to make Nia's request feel more... acceptable.  Haroun accepts, so long as this is just between the two of them.

And from behind the door, Madelyn smiles having overheard it all.

And further down the corridor, Lukas sees Madelyn by the door and sees what she is doing.

Back at the Temple, Maja explains that the woman claiming to be Madelyn Yvarai cannot be her.  She shows an urn on the side, and explains that it contains the ashes of Madelyn Yvarai.  She was crushed when the Senate hall collapsed.  The woman claiming to be Madelyn is someone else.  Jaric asks how it was said she gave her name to the Storm.  Maja admits she does not know when the story diverged to have Madelyn supposedly giving her name to the Storm.  Jaric digs through the book and finds the entry that talks about how Madelyn Yvarai did die, crushed when the Senate hall was collapsing.  Jaric is confused how he can be the author of these many stories.  "Son, Demons do not have this power.  The Demon is a seductress.  She deals with temptation and illusions and sexual gifts.  Not wish granting."  Jaric wonders if it is the misplaced power from Suaven's Blessings that are twisted by the Demon, especially given the missing Suaven.

Galeo invites Seran to come to her Castle, and they meet in private.  Seran attempts to use the Ritual of the Rose to give them some level of privacy.  Seran of course shares how she learned this from Madelyn Yvarai, who had killed her Court Scholar.  Galeo questions why she took her in and Seran admits it was on a whim.  They also discuss Lukas, and Galeo just pushes that he does make a good spy master.  Galeo asks Seran to help her forget her own daughter's secret name.  Seran shows the Compact and admits that she is not certain how it works, but admits that when she tried using it there was some confusion on how it worked.  Galeo however admits it is necessary.  Seran opens the Compact and inside, Madelyn's picture can be seen.  She explains how if it contains something of someone, and then is closed, that person forgets something for a long duration of time.  Galeo gives Seran a strand of her hair and tells Seran she desires to truly forget it, for Casselanter's safety.  She will recall being her mother and having given it, but she will never recall what it was, and fully remember she had chosen to make herself forget.


Thunder rumbles in the distance.
It sounded like the word "Doom."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Inspiration: Ambition

"What is the key to life on Earth?"

This makes for an awesome brain starter for games where players have epic-level powers like Amber or Nobilis.   And yes, that's Littlefinger of Game of Thrones.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Inspiration: The Cathedral

This wonderful piece by Tomasz Baginski might remind some of the Suaven of Houses of the Blooded, or might be a great inspirational piece for an Exalted or Numenera game.  The Cathedral itself might remind some of Vampire: The Masquerade's Tzimisce Clan and the infamous Cathedral of Flesh.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Inspiration: Unexpected Tactics

Real life offers a lot of possible idea seeds that you can use to make your games more disturbing and awesome.  Consider how these bees deal with a predatory that usually just decimates them all: They COOK their predator.

Now imagine taking that idea and applying it to a type of monstrous foe in your game?  Or perhaps even using it as a source of inspiration to some super science device that needs to be found in your pulp stories and the like.

Never underestimate the coolness of a documentary.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspiration: Evening in Space [NSFW]

Warning: Probably not safe for work.

But man, this video.  Trippy awesome. It makes me think of the height of Ven fashion.
Or perhaps standard clothing in the wealthy portions of the Blessed Isle in Exalted.
Maybe even a fashion idea for how things can be represented in a Numenera game?

Overall, visually stunning!

Monday, October 13, 2014

After the Rain ep16 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain
Episode Sixteen

"Revenge is a Name"

Investigations have begun. The next morning has come with the arrival of the Vashna. With the discovery of the death of Sorio Rusu, the gathered Ven are barred from leaving the premises until the Vashna have completed their investigations.

Seran Thorne draws her Compact out and wonders if it has anything to do with the memories she seem to be missing. She wonders if opening it would allow her to recall the memories she had lost. Opening it, she notices two strands of hair inside. She stares at the two and wonders why she had used it, and how long ago. Was she made to use it? Did she choose to use it? Haroun Q'n stares at the murder scene and he seems to share the confusion she holds. The windows rattle as the blizzard continues outside. Seran calls for her maid, but the maid does not answer this time. The servants she ask promise to search for her. Alynn Bowen, Baroness of Duat, mumbles to her a complaint of how long this investigation should take. The woman offers Seran a swig of the wine. Seran turns it down, recalling the wine is a Madelyn gift. Seran sniffs the glass nearby, and realizes the scent matches the sour taste in her mouth. She searches for Nia.

Nia Jalan is going around the room, investigating and trying to figure out what has happened. The Vashna do not hinder her back. Among them are other bodies including Dalvinosh Steele's, Sorio Rusu's and the 18 other bodies. Nia is bothered that the body of Dalvinosh Steele has not faded, given she knows it is a Tulpa. Not too far, Rhianwhyn Uvan, Countess of Lagos, leans close to Nia and offers her a cookie. She mentions it helps sharpen the eyes. She mentions she brought the cookies as a gift, but now that the host is dead, she has opted to retrieve it to snack on. Nia turns them down, especially after knowing how they are cookies from the Ruins Beneath. "I like how they numb the tongue... and sharpen the eyes." She also adds how it is strange to see how the Ork Ven die like they do. She expected them to just melt away upon dying. Nia learns Rhianwhyn was one of those who recognized Dranna Ru, given she was aware of the Ork doing their part to protect the Senate Hall. Nia suggests she ask "Brother Snake" to learn more. Rhianwhyn however does not like history. She prefers stories. She prefers Honest Lies. Nia scans the body of Sorio Rusu but fails to find anything.

The Vashna begin declaring that they found a Tulpa. The others look and realize the body was one of the Ork Ven, now melting away in the dawn. Nia is aghast it is still not Dalvinosh's body.

Cerani Eshu, Countess of Deresi, pulls away as windows slam open and the blizzard flies in. When she notices Jaric Thayl nearby and talks to him about the events transpiring in the area. Cerani wonders if her tonic had anything to do with what happened, how it has made her feel tremendously sensitive. Jaric asks what she thinks of the bodies, and Cerani just waves away the bodies as "Not Ven."

Jaric is identified as the Inspector for the Senate, a position that was prepared for him by Jalani thanks to her connections with the Senate.  They begin to understand that many of the Ork Ven are actually Tulpa - though it remains odd that they are all dying at different times.  Jaric calls for the wine to be gathered as well, given it is poisoned.  The castle staff are also gathered for questioning.  Galeo does raise the question of who would be the master of these Tulpa.  She reminds them that these would have still been invited to attend by someone.  Sentius Thali, a Baron, agrees with Galeo and wonders aloud who were aware that some of the guests were Tulpa.  Nia wonders if time is wasted identifying the Tulpa and not focusing on the true problem: Sorio Rusu is the only Ven officially identified that matters.  Jaric does stress however that there should be focus as well on the questioning of Madelyn Yvarai, who used to be Master of the Ruk in charge of a lot of Tulpas.  Jaric questions her for answers and she offers that many of the citizens were Tulpas because this is part of a systemic elimination by the Spiders.  How they always wanted to avenge themselves.  Nia steers the conversation back towards to the death that matters, however, with Sorio Rusu's death being one caused by passion, beaten by a blunt instrument.  A death meant to be an insult to his house. 

Around his body, however, Nia declares they found an implement: a spyglass containing the symbol of the spider.

Many begin to wonder who would have a spyglass and Nia does admit it was a fairly common artifact in the other Shan'ri.   A red-haired woman, Alvera Mwrr, comes forward to admit she is a Spider.  She claims to have no knowledge of such artifacts, however.  Jaric calls out to ask for Szaz Ashken.   When no one knows where to find her, Jaric suggests to everyone to introduce themselves to those beside them.  Introductions are exchanged.  Statements are to be gathered from every member of the staff.  Szaz is found and when questioned, she admits that her spyglass is missing.  She does not seem to truly remember how it was lost.  The storm continues to grow stronger outside.  They soon learn Seran too does not remember the recent events.  When Jaric tries to question Haroun as well on the events, Haroun deflects the questions with his frustration that he had hoped to enjoy the night instead of be handling an investigation.  They learn that both of Jaric's parents have left earlier before the Vashna could seal the place.

The search for more evidence uncovers the following:
There is evidence of a struggle with one set of footsteps of blood leaving out of the room.

The set of footprints ends in an alcove where there is a hidden door, and on the floor, a pile of clothes.
As Galeo was meticulously observing everyone's outfits since the night before, she realizes that the set of clothes matches the outfit worn by Nia Jalan.  

Haroun is in an ill mood, breaking a bottle of wine open by shattering its top, and pours himself a drink.  Seran tries to talk to him but he complains this is all a waste of time. He hates even more the loss of memories he is suffering from.  The loss of memories makes him feel his plans are falling apart, and since he recalls nothing of having confessed to Seran before his plans, he starts confessing it to her again.  Seran is shocked to learn he planned this.  Haroun does however admit he did not expect the deaths to be just Tulpa.  He does deny however he was the one who killed Sorio.  Seran shows Haroun the Compact she carries and explains how it supposedly works.  Haroun wanted to get rid of the Ork Ven because of how they treated them back in the other Shan'ri.  He rants about how inefficient things are turning out when it was simply supposed to be Sorio Rusu admitting to a crime, him serving the Black as Haroun's eyes and ears during his duration, and Rusu's family would be in safer positions for the time being.  Haroun realizes this means someone was aware of his plans and have outfoxed him.  He suspects Jaric Thayl is this person.  But Seran tries to explain that Jaric is just being Jaric.  He asks Seran to confront Jaric and learn what he really wants.  She questions if Jaric would really turn against him.  He reminds Seran to do her job and find out, or leave his shadow.

Nia challenges Jaric for having favorites.  She reminds him that his brother in law is dead, and that he is too stupid to plan this on his own.  She is insistent someone killed him to silence him.  Jaric tells her he needs the wisdom of a Serpent.  He shared with Nia his concerns on both Seran and Haroun's defensiveness.  Jaric feels they are being played.  The story was being given them, like an Opera, last night.. but this death seems like a discordant note.  An unplanned twist.  Jaric feels that they are being played but he would not have the Courage to accuse Haroun. Nia takes this possibility and responds angrily how it is impossible.

"If we keep friends closer than enemies, what more family?" Jaric admits.

Galeo walks up to Nia to ask her something at the moment Nia pulls at Jaric to stay by her side.  Galeo tells them both she has information on the investigation.  She tells them that someone has made a Tulpa of Nia.  "Again?" Jaric gasps.   Galeo hands Nia back the clothes she found.  Nia stares at them and realizes it is a set of clothes she had from back in the other Shan'ri.    Galeo however raises that the act of murder is so clumsy that it feels like it is trying to clearly implicate the Spiders, when the Spiders have the ability to conceal their identities with their Blessings.  She implies that the one behind this clearly wanted them all to get implicated somewhat.  Jaric asks the Vashna for the presence of the Duke once more.  They leave to collect him.

Jaric shares to Haroun when he arrives that the death to Baron Rusu is likely not related to the deaths of the Ork Ven that were supposed to have died.  There's hints of suggestion the deaths were meant to implicate the Spiders, and the Ork Ven were supposedly planning this - hence the use of Tulpas.  Jaric does ask Haroun for answers and his replies catch them off-guard.  He starts talking about the Olivanna Ven as being lost and mistreated, given how they welcomed the lost Ven before.  He challenges Szaz if she truly sided with the right side.  He reminds them all he remembers their names, each and every one of them.  "Why do you think I would send Tulpa's of your foes."  He admits, however, that Madelyn Yvarai's survival is a surprise.  He was not aware she survived.

"Oh Jalan, do you think I would forgive you for what you have done to my wife?  I was patient.  Even as I saw you murder her, using her very Name to recreate yourselves as saviors.  I would not be brash.  I understand revenge should come only after our people were safe.  Just as you used her Name to carry our people to safety, I am now using your Names to ensure our revenge."

Szaz stares at Haroun and realizes who he is.  She realizes the man has all their True Names thanks to the Quill.

"Today is the day I get my revenge."

They hear a tremendous sound coming from the sky.  An Airship crashes into the castle as the vessel once the Earl of the House of the Serpent dives into the castle they are in.  Seran runs through the falling debris, evading the incoming doom. She tackles Haroun to the ground.  The man possessing Haroun tells her one terrible thing, "So that is where the Temple is supposed to be."  Seran screams at him to leave Haroun's body.  Nia survives the collapse, buried beneath the debris. A chandelier nearly clips her as she towards the crashing ship.   Szaz knocks Jaric away from the incoming debris, but gets buried herself by the collapsing castle.  And Galeo evades most of the danger, but Hero with Casselanter is buried beneath the debris with most of it crushing his chest enough that he cannot scream for help.  A light breaks into view as a door appears, calling for Galeo.  Galeo chooses to stay for Hero rather than run to safety.

Some Vashna take the opportunity to commit acts of Vengeance upon the Ven, and one even murders Sentius Thali before Jaric's very eyes.  Jaric wisely thanks the Vashna for coming to his air, feigning to have noticed the murder despite the blood splattered on his face, and commends the Vashna for their loyalty.   

Nia knows the attacker seeks to free his wife's spirit from the vessel by making the ship destroy itself.  But Nia grits her teeth as she climbs atop the vessel's deck and grabs hold of the wheel.  She growls out the ship's True Name and pulls on the wheel to rise back into the sky.  She will NOT allow the ship to be destroyed.  The vessel bows before her will and anger.

Seran threatens the voice within Haroun to leave or she will hunt every member of his family down. He responds instead that he knows she will because she will ensure her mother will never ever rest in Solace.  Seran finally realizes her mother is now Suaven and screams for Haroun to be released over and over again.  The ship begins to rise again into the air.

Galeo awakens to see Casselanter in Madelyn Yvarai' arms as she tires to calm her down.  Madelyn tells her that Hero is still somewhere in there and that Galeo must focus on finding him.  She questions Galeo as they search for Hero that she does not understand the hatred and anger they all hold for her.  Galeo explains Madelyn is a figure of legend and their tales speak of how she destroyed the Senate.  However, Madelyn counters that to her and her people, they too are figures of legend.  Galeo finds Hero's hand in the rubble, and as she digs she uncovers more and more and the hand begins to move!  Hero may still be alive!

Jaric and the Vashna find the Countess of Lagos beating Szaz Ashken on the ground.  Jaric calls for the Vashna to restrain the Elk even as he inwardly feels joy to see Szaz survived the crash.  She is, however, bruised badly.  The Countess breaks free from the Vashna and rakes her nails across Szaz' face to scar her permanently.  But she will live.  Interestingly, so did Errol.

The Althua ends with another Castle destroyed.

Jaric's final report is that the Duke Haroun seem to have had plans to poison the party, but what he is responsible for remains unclear given now the destruction of the castle.  Nia counters however that it may not have been Haroun behind the plans, but it may have been the direct influence of the Serpent, the husband of  the former Earl of the Serpents.  When the Vashna come to claim the Ork Ven, Jaric insists Szaz remains under his shadow.  Galeo, surprisingly, declares Madleyn Yvarai to be under her shadow.  Nia warns her of Madelyn and Jaric even insists that she cannot be trusted.  Seran declares she can take her under her shadow instead of Galeo, who has a child and injured husband to care for.


Nia returns home to find Dalvinosh Steele still in her dungeon. She sees he even has the tattoo on his back, signifying he is the actual Ven and not the Tulpa.  They discuss the events of the night and Nia shares that he may choose to leave after.  Nia asks if Dalvinosh was the man behind the.. events of the night.  Dalvinosh shares their Shan'ri taught all of them the basic Sorcery of creating a Tulpa.  Nia asks if Dalvinosh wed the Earl of the Serpent, Jsae Mwrr and he explains that would be Havar Mwrr.  Nia is happy to know now the name of their assailant.

Seran and Madelyn set their terms.  Seran shows her the Compact and Madelyn admits that she used the Compact to hide a murder she committed.  Or at least was accused to have committed.  They discuss the lack of Volcanoes in the other Shan'ri and Seran wonders how they acquired obsidian.  Madelyn admits there used to be a lot of Volcanoes.

Galeo nurses Hero back to health.  She realizes that the world is getting more and more dangerous with the Ork House, the Ork Ven, the Demoness, and more.  Galeo wonders if Cherno might be the one she should find.. and somehow use Art to unify all of the Ven.   The pettiness of the ven holds them back from bringing things to a better state... and Galeo realizes it is only thorough her that Cherno's art can be utilized to unite the ven.

Jaric tends to Szaz as best as they can, given the blindness that now scars her.  He extends to the spider the invitation to stay as long as she needs to.  Szaz considers sorcery to repair her eyes, and while Jaric's traditionalism still demands he turn down the consideration of Sorcery, he introduces her to her daughter, Jessie, who has been dabbling in them.  Jalani and Jaric eventually discuss the role the Spiders will play in the coming schemes.  Jaric, however, continues to stress not wanting to know about anything regarding Sorcery in the household.  When he wonders if there are protections in place against Sorcery and the sort, Jaric starts coughing in surprise.  More so, in the realization that she found a Volcano in his absence in the lands.

Seran visits Galeo and the two trade notes about the recent events, including the need for certain Vassals.  When Seran raises the topic about her mother's slipping into Solace, Galeo offers to try and reach her using the strange ability she has to reach out and converse with Suaven.  Unfortunately, Althea does not respond.

Nia considers how to map out political ties given Haroun's loss of title would mean they would no longer be under someone's shadow.   She even weighs the option of having Seran marry Haroun to consider having the title be secured.


A letter arrives to all of them under the Shadow of Haroun Q'n.  They are invited to be present in the Senate hearing.  The high priests of the Suaven open the session with the Sunrise Invocation dedicated to Thalia Yvarai, with the prayers lead by the High Priest Talten Steele, Blooded of the Elk.  The dukes give their welcoming remarks and speak of the Iron heart, of killing enemies as so they do not make allies, and many are inspired enough to gain the Aspect: Never Again Will We Be Fooled.

The Vashna then arrive, and give their reports.  The gathered listen carefully to the matters raised, and some ven already consider whether or not this Season is the best time to raise their concerns.   Galeo notes that they report Rusu's wife has taken control of the land in Sorio's absence.  Nia notes that one reports that Haroun Q'n has been reacting violently to his "protective custody".  Jaric notes that the Senate has taken Haroun Q'n's lands in trust in his absence.    More Vashna report other matters.

Two hours pass.
The floor is opened to those who have been recognized to speak.

Nia comes forward to speak.  She is recognize by her father, Orion Steiner, a Marquis as well as by another Marquis of the House Serpent, who was present in her Blooding Taltos Jalan.  The last was a Duke of the House Falcon, Aldric Thorne who has devotion to Thalia Yvarai.  She confidently walks to the dais and speaks about how the death of Marquis Lukas Q'n, and the previous request of the former Duke Haroun Q'n, the lands under Haroun's shadow are in need of a new Marquis.  She suggests that the only appropriate candidate would be the spouse of Lukas Q'n, the daughter of Althea Thorne, and the discoverer of the new Shan'ri.  "She is ready, qualified, and by right, deserving of the Marquis title."

The Senate considers it a matter of progression and recognition, and raises that a Duke must cast a shadow over the Marquis.  Nia considers the Duke Haroun Q'n is still the rightful holder of the title, and thus can recognize Seran Thorne's ascension... unless another Duke chooses to recognize her.  

A figure stands.  Isolde Valar rises.  Dranna Ru, Duchess of the Ruins Below declares she recognizes her.  Two more speak up to recognize her.  Galeo uses the Blessing from Thalia to remind Isolde of the favor she owes them, including her very life.  Isolde calls for the dachanau, the dance of words.

Isolde moves to claim her brother's lands.  She calls herself the Duke of Tamal.  Nia admits she was not aware they were immediate family.  Isolde counters they are all blooded and it is the family they are contesting.   Nia contests that the lands are currently under Haroun who still holds it, and while Haroun is captive, it is under the protection of the Senate.  Isolde still declares she claims it, knowing the Ven law that you own what you hold.  Nia inquires what will happen to Seran Thorne's acquisition of the title, but Isolde admits she sees no need for Seran to ascend.  Nia asks in the event of the Senate of not stripping of Haroun Q'n of the land, what shall transpire.  Isolde raises the question of Identity, that there is a possibility that Haroun Q'n may not be himself. "Would it not be to the safety of the Senate that such a great title be in the hands of someone certain?"  Nia counters that should those under the shadow agree, the lands of Althea Thorne can be given to Haroun Q'n instead.   Isolde still believes that there will be no contest if the Senate unanimously votes that Haroun Q'n's identity is resolved.  Nia amends the request to include that Seran Thorne be granted stewardship of the lands of her mother.  She adds that Haroun Q'n had plans for the Province which are best to be furthered by Seran Thorne, Althea's daughter.  Isolde however questions if Seran Thorne can handle the responsibility of two Provinces and asks if Nia can vouch for her capacity to support the two Provinces.  Galeo unspokenly motions to Nia that she will send Seran a Seneschal if need be.  Nia however does not seem to see that.  She stresses instead that the lands of Seran Thorne already partly benefit from her care.  Isolde Valar shows a scroll which tracks that developments have ceased in the last few Seasons of its development.  She questions if Seran Thorne will be capable of handling the duties of a Countess.  She proposes to forward Jalani Ballan, Blooded of the Elk, to take instead that position.  Isolde pushes the Marquis to be Mordelai Igei, an Orc High Priest.  Nia questions what house the Orc High Priest would be from.

Maja Thayl, Marquese of Rabbas, stands up and calls out, "One Moment!"  Clearly, everyone recognizes her.  Ammon Tammel, her husband, declares recognition of her.   Hannah Silja rises to recognize her as well.  Zsanos Yvarai, the Count of Kether, stands up and recognizes her as well.  Maja declares she contests the claim and displays a written letter which she claims it is something new that none of them are used to.  She claims it is a Petition.  She shows it contains 350 names that speak in behalf of Haroun Q'n and attest to his validity and identity based on previous acquisitions, transactions, acts of punishment, cruelty and kindness.  Listed are names of people who will seek revenge, seek knighthood, request Romance, and are still duly-owed material assets.  If the ownership is to waived away, the 350 will have reasons to aim their attentions at Isolde Valar.  She stresses to Isolde how this list of 350 people will not have to be her problem if Jalani Ballan was to take the position of Marquese.   She asks Nia to name the contested lands and these are finalized as follows:  Jalani Ballan is to be the Marquese of Paradigm, Jessie Jalan is to be the Countess of Kalien, and James Adrente is to become the Duke of Tamal.

"I hold in my hand efficiency," Maja Thayl stares at Isolde, ready to call for a Verdict. Nia quickly attempts to call for the Verdict as well, and upon seeing Isolde hoping to still speak, uses the Blessing Serpent Knows the Fox to crumble her words.  Isolde falls silent and Nia nods at Maja to have the opening she desires.   Maja smiles and calls for a Verdict.

The Senate agrees to the verdict of efficiency.

Another almost three hours pass once more as other issues are discussed.  With some of them getting sleepy, Jaric ends up speaking out of turn in his exhaustion during someone else's topic.  Seran gives Jaric a kick to stay awake. Galeo on the other hand ends up screaming about staying awake when the kick jolts her awake.  Thankfully, the Senate let's it slide.

The final recognition is for Havar Mwrr, the husband of the former Earl of the previous Earl from other Shan'ri.  He has, somehow, gathered recognition.   Havar comes forward and all can clearly see his eyes are piercing and holding back anger.  As he comes up the dais, he calls for the quill.  When the Senators explain they do not understand what he is asking, Havar then reveals the quill in his hands and explains to them he wanted to explain the answer.  Even at the threat of Insulting the Senate, Havar continues to explain that the quill is not an item associated with the hands of the veth.  He tells them he has come before them all to declare his desire for Revenge.  He understands he is the villain in everyone's tragedy, so he has come forward to declare Revenge on them all, unless he is given unhindered Revenge on those who deserve it: the Ven from his Shan'ri.   He even clarifies that he will, if given that permission, withdraw his desire for Revenge on the Ven of this Shan'ri.  The group realizes he may actually win this vote.  He offers to the Senate the chance to make him their Sword.  Their Agent.  To do the things they would not sully themselves with, and in return he will "take" the Ork Ven he desires.  "131 Survivors... 132 years of service as your Sword," Havar offers, "Do deal with the problems you wish to go away."

Galeo considers speaking.  Seran and Jaric consider who can recognize her to speak.  Maja shakes her head, having already spoken she cannot recognize Galeo.  The others quickly scan the crowd for willing support.  Geno Mwrr, an old associate of Galeo's agrees.   Ryx Mwrr, a distant relative agrees to recognize her as well.  But they need a third.

And finally, Havar even offers to the Senate the Quill.  He tells them it contains the True Name of all the Ork Ven in the lands.  A security measure of control.

"You claim to use Sorcery, and you will harvest the Blood of 131 Ven," Galeo speaks, finding the Courage to confront Havar. When the two recognize her, a third unexpected recognition is suddenly present:  Cherno, who announces it merely with a raised hand.  Galeo feels Compelled to say no... Galeo cannot accept that forever it will be listed in the Senate records that it was thanks to Cherno that Galeo was recognized.  "Are you speaking against someone who wishes you to speak?"

"Under duress," Galeo gasps, "I am not rejecting it, but it is something that will weigh heavily on me from now on."

The argument moves back and forth with Galeo attempting to paint a scene where Havar is making the Senate use Sorcery, while Havar sees it as him handling the Senate an Artifact to use as they see fit.  When Galeo continues to push this, citing Havar has yet to declare what he plans to use 131 Ven deaths to empower, Havar declares he bows down before Galeo who plainly declares to know and understand the power of Sorcery far better than him.

Galeo responds how they are all learned who have learned from their mistakes, and cites she learned thanks to Jaric Thayl whom she calls erudite in that matter.  She stresses that the Quill contains the True Names of everyone who has signed it, and thus pushes that he is suggesting the Senate use something that is illegal.  Havar says yes but then counters that given Galeo admits to having signed the Quill, she too then admits to having used a Sorcerous artifact.  The Senate however seems to be siding with Galeo's words more.

In what seems to be Havar's final attempt to move things in a different direction, he publicly asks, "Is your Secret Name, Artemesia?"  and he even pushes Galeo to feel welcome to strike him down as he is not recognized as Ven.  Galeo asks the Senate for permission, but it remains silent.

"Then perhaps we should come for a Verdict," Galeo declares.

There is no doubting the fear in the air.  The Senate sees a threat, but one that is willing to be under their service.  They see someone who truly does have the Secret Name of the other.  And the question now is, how will this end?  After all, if he is not given Revenge upon the Ork Ven, he did declare he shall have Revenge upon all of them.  When Havar even stresses that killing his people is to spare them a life of living under the pretense of this False Shan'ri, Galeo knows that the Senate is mostly in his side.

Galeo asks for a moment of prayer, and talks to them all about wanting a moment to consult with the Suaven.  She fails to realize however that the others do not grasp that concept, given the Ven pray in Temples and Shrines.  Galeo asks Havar to sign his name with the Quill, suggesting that he has to show his seriousness to serve.  Jaric wants to interrupt given Galeo's claims of the Senate being progressive in that manner, but he doubts there will be many who will support him.  Jaric finds it terrifying however that Havar keeps talking about literally wanting to be a sword. Just like Kyocera did.  He suddenly fears that "she" can hear them... and he's terrified she might grant the wish.

The Senate then recognizes Duke Aldric Throne, who tells Galeo to sit and thanks her for her enlightening statements.  He comes up to address Havar and tells him how he has Insulted them all by presenting to them a toll of the Sorcerer-Kings.  The Ven pride themselves in having broken from their yoke, risen from the ashes to form a new society.  But Havar stands before them as a refugee and has come to declare Murder upon his very own people, and bribe them with the tools of their oppressors.  "I believe everyone is with Galeo Silja in the disgust we feel towards your proposal.  It is a unanimous call that we reject you.  By Artemisia's name itself, the Ven as a whole, say No to your request."

Havar bows, accepting the decision.  Having been recognized, he is to be allowed to leave undeterred.  However before leaving, however, he utters the name Ikhalu.  And reminds them all that none can gainsay his approval for Revenge.  He then throws Galeo the Quill, telling her it would best remain in her hands.  Galeo notices most move away from her as the Quill lands in her hands.  She holds the Ven equivalent of mass destruction.

The Senate hearing is ended.
As the ven make their way out, Seran begins to worry that Haroun Q'n situation has not been settled.  She finds the Courage to scream out, "But what of Haroun Q'n?"

The Senators stop.  One asks Seran if he was even in the agenda, given the matter was mentioned by the Vashna, but none of the Ven came forward to discuss it in the hearing.  "We shall see you next season then?"  Visitations are allowed, thankfully, but the matter will be discussed in the coming season.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Inspiration: Introductory videos to RPGs

This is one of three awesome videos that have been created to introduce the concept of role-playing games to new folks.  Check it out and share it!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Fall : Mouseworld


The Fall
Mouse World

Had a surprise guest come over one night for game night.  Turns out, our dear friend Jon showed up a week early for Rocky's birthday game night.  Although the night was originally set for Urim, Che and Rocky's Cthulhutech game, we sort of decided to make it a oneshot night instead so Jon (who brought cake) didn't feel out of place.  Digging through my game stuff, I was looking for a nice game to run and Rocky suggested we stick to something using the Apocalypse Engine since those were magnificent for no-prep games.   I toyed between Mouseworld and Companions and in the end went for the furry little adventurers inspired by David Petersen's comic, Mouse Guard, and the role-playing game with the same title.

Each player chose a role to play:
Urim played Angus, a Scout who was Covered in Moss and quite Athletic.  He was a Brown mouse with a Green Cloak from Grasslake, and was good with handling perilous journeys and Ambushes.

Rocky played Millicent, an Engineer who had Sharp Teeth and a Dextrous Tail.  He was a Red Mouse from Ironwood who wore a Yellow Cloak.   He was good with Setting Up Strikes and improvising things.

Che played Gail, a Soldier who was quite Tireless and a Lightsleeper.  He was a White Mouse from Lockhaven who proudly wore his Purple Cloak.  Gail loved using Heavy Weapons (being an Expert of them) and was quite Battle tested.

Finally, Jon played Sabina, a Scientist who had Nimble Paws and a Keen Nose.  She was a Grey Mouse from Lilygrove whose Blue Cloak informed others she was mentored by Quinn the Teacher.  Sabina was skilled in Brewing and had a Spider as an Insect companion.

The story I ran for them was based on the Fall volume of Mouse Guard.  Gwendolyn calls upon the four on a Mission to investigate why at an outpost in the distant Calogero.  While the Mouse Guard Ivy was supposed to handle that  duty, she had sadly passed away due to an unexpected illness.  The group hurry to the nearby stream, craft a boat to use, and navigate its dangerous waters to reach the distant beach.  The journey includes a dangerous encounter with frogs, as well as a chance encounter with a bear that thankfully finds them too small a target to be noticed.
They are forced to set camp midway and take shelter from a growing rainfall.  The hiding hole they find however turns out to be occupied by a dangerously huge toad.  Thankfully, Angus succeeds in negotiating with it some space to rest (although the mice wisely maintain their guard towards it).  Morning comes, and a rabbit had taken over their ship, forcing them to forage for supplies before continuing.

As they do so, however, they find themselves besieged by a snake that rises from the bushes.  It is only thanks to the careful tactics of Angus, Sabina's concoctions and Millicent's well timed set up that gives Gail the opening she needs to strike at the snake.  They find hints of another camp having been attacked by the serpent, but sadly no survivors are found.  They continue their journey to the beach of Calogero.

Upon arriving at Calogero, the place is found to be omniously quiet.  The group hurries to the building and sees the signs of damage and assault that have struck it. Spying within, Angus discovers that the old timer Conrad is held captive inside by what seem to be rebellious mice, though the rebels themselves seem to be terrified of something.   Before they could safely get inside, they learn of what frightens the rebels:  Crabs.

The group rushes inside the building to buy them time, but questioning the rebels on who sent the crabs, they find no answers.  As Millicent rigs up a system to rappel over the crabs and escape, the tactic only succeeds so well to allow most but not all to escape.   Conrad decides to buy the others time to warn Gwendolyn of the coming threat, a sacrifice that he is more willing to make given the knowledge that Ivy, his grand daughter had passed away some time back.  Conrad makes himself an easy target for the Crabs, giving the group the chance to escape.  Sadly, one loses a cloak in the process of the mission, an action which most likely is to bear grave repercussions upon their return.  And while Gail finds herself torn with wanting to stay and fight, the rest of the Guard remind her to focus on her duties.

The journey is long, and rations nearly run out, but the group endures and bring the rebels, called the Black Axes, back for questioning.   They return to Lockhaven and report to Gwendolyn, who does not take too well the news of Gail's outbursts, and more so in her disrespect shown towards the cloak.  When Gail comments that there are things far more important than just a cloak, Gwendolyn takes huge offense in this and publicly reprimands her for her actions.    Angus is commanded to leave the Mouse Guard as punishment for losing his Cloak and Gail seethes with what she sees as an unjust decision on the Guard's part.   What they do not realize, however, is that it is all an intentional act by Gwendolyn to make the two seem more interesting to the Black Axe rebels and make them appear as worthy candidates for recruitment.

It was a gamble.
But it was one which Gwendolyn felt was needed to uncover the truth about the rebellion.. and one she hoped Gail and Angus would forgive her for making in the end.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Inspiration: Rebooting a funny source to a serious one

This one definitely does it well.
Its grittier and more serious, but man it still feels like Adventure Time!

Great job, guys!
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