Saturday, November 15, 2014

After the Rain ep18 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Eighteen

Houses of the Blooded

Spring arrives.
But with the coming of spring, the Ven from the other Sharni can be seen beginning the streets, hoping for food.  Some that Galeo Silja encounters on her journey to Maja Thayl actually even beg her to name them.  When Galeo catches the fact that the two are hiding a Child, she decided to adopt him seeing the opportunity to both save a child, and gain a Vassal.   When Galeo asks for the child's Secret name from the mother, however, she learns the Child's turns out to be "Dara" which means the Balancer of Shanri.  The father becomes an Apothecarist.  The mother becomes another possible Vassal.

Jaric Thayl and Szaz Ashken inspect the Injuries she had sustained from the destruction of the Castle of Sorio Rusu.  The wounds seem to be healing, but her sight remains impaired.  Szaz feels she lost her usefulness but Jaric believes it will provide her a new perspective towards things.  He reminds her that her network was the main usefulness she had to offer towards his Province.  "One Spider is useless without a web."  Jaric spies a Roadman waiting by the door to be acknowledged and opts to ignore him for now, focusing his attention on his Spider.  He reminds her it is an opportunity to expand her network but she is to never have them visit his castle.  She will never leave the castle, to be the center of the web and to be well protected under his care.  She is to run Catan as the Mayor, and he admits he already has his own Spy Network.  When they discuss how she lost her vision, she tells him there was a woman as the castle fell around them.  The woman told her to worry not.  Jaric suspects the woman was the Demon.  Szaz shares though that the woman said, "Today's pain is for tomorrow's Transformation."  He tells her to care for the man dressed in yellow in his City.  He reminds her he is important and must be kept safe.

Maja Thayl looks unhappy, having been made to wait.  When Jaric finally steps out to meet her, she dismisses him, "Next week," and walks out of the Castle.  Even as Jaric rushes after to speak to her, she leaves.

In Catan, Jaric revisits the man in yellow and finds he has made the very chamber a tome: names fill the walls including statements relating to the names.  Kithranus, Circe, the Sword talks, Made to Forget, and more.  The man asks Jaric if he wrote it and panics that Jaric might be trying to drive him crazy.  The man claims to be a Fox, but then hesitates and thinks he is a Serpent.... an Elk.. His sense of identity is muddled.  Jaric calls him Gaius and claims he is trying to help him.  The man asks for Herbs to know if Jaric speaks the truth, but the man still seems to not register the name.  "A Mirror... give me a Mirror!  A Quill!  A Feather..." When Jaric jokes Galeo has the perfect Quill, the man refers to Galeo as "the name of the one who.... wait, it has not happened yet..."  Jaric tries to call him Kyocera this time but the man points at the marking of dead bodies on the walls.  He begs to know why he is held in the room, and even asks who is Artemisia.  Even when Jaric says Artemisia is Galeo Silja, the man admits it does not make sense.

"Maja.. Maja would know.. this is all a dream... this is all would pass... the airship.. the sky pirates.. the stone cutters... the land sharks.. the storms..."

Jaric realizes these things were in the Dreadfuls, supposedly penned by his namesake.  "I ended them," the man proudly boasts, "I formally ended our Compact."  Then descends back into nonsensical statements.  Jaric leaves, heeding to his wife's call.

At Kalien, with the intention to visit her mother's temple, that of Althea Thorne - Suaven of Journeys, Seran Thorne is unable to visit the grounds.  The queue is four-days long.  She realizes she should have opted to visit Jessie Jalan, Jaric's daughter and now Countess of Kalien first.  She turns to ask a nearby Roadman if the lines are typically this long.  The man informs her that they were longer before when the Temple wasn't built yet.  The Countess of Kalien is said to be currently indisposed which worries Seran if she is injured or just busy.  As she considers her options, one of the Merchant House, a man named Shalan, approaches her and offers his services.  The Merchant House it seems now offer to stand in line for the Ven who are willing to make a proper exchange.  He even can secret Seran closer to the front.  Seran finds it amusing that the Merchant has Permits marked by the Countess and of the talks of strips/rips as the currency.  The man reveals a leather case with strips, pieces of a Contract, and it seems to be the currency used by the Merchant House to make dealings with others.  They do, however, notarize the Contracts using a pinned ring, as well as a Ritual of some sort to "copy and send" a duplicate of the Contract to the Merchant House Scribe in the Senate.  Seran is told that any Merchant House can collect the payment.   With someone holding her place in the line, Seran opts to visit the Castle.

There, she finds her mother's Seneschal, the Caretaker, offering her condolences for Seran's loss. She tells the Staff to prepare the good wine and explains that Jessie is preoccupied in the basement levels of the Castle.  Servants seem to be bringing her Herbs, as well as what seem to be corpses.  Whitish, greenish fluid seemed to drip from the bodies.  The Caretaker refuses to explain what she is doing, however.  They discuss instead the popularity of Althea Thorne and learn she has gained a lot of Devotion from the Merchants.  Each region in the Province is to contain a Shrine devoted to her.   The Caretaker leads her to speak with someone else who can better explain things, and Seran is escorted to a structure being built.  The structure, turns out, to be a Business Holding:Port Station and here she meets the Merchant Lord, Murid Reinhold, brother of the late Rajid Reinhold who perished in Sorio Rusu's castle.  Murid is thankful to have inherited everything.  She learns the Merchants are planning a business that connects various Regions from different Provinces to allow passengers to take Voyages between them.  She asks Seran to consider being part of the connected chain. As a present, he gives her a spyglass crafted in orichalcum, uncovered from the ruins.  It is sealed with markings in Old Realm.  Seran hires another Merchant to stand as an alibi, visible in line, while she is to be secreted into the Temple itself.  She finally visits the Temple to find a moment to visit her mother.

Back at Nia's Province, in one of the unexplored Regions, the Orks are agitated.  In the camps of the Ork Tribe, five people are chained to the ground.  An Ork Hunter notes Nia's arrival.  An Ork Witch continues to curse the five on the ground.  Nia realizes neither are her vassals.  Bowen explains the five have intruded upon their lands and killed five of their people.  Nia recognizes them to be an Unblooded adventuring party.   Nia inspects the five and recognizes one turns out to be Blooded but has taken steps to hide his nature.  Cloth covers his ears and forehead.  A full beard and lack of grooming makes him look more unkempt.  Nia calls for the one in charge and the Hunter comes forward.  Nia recognizes him to be one she had met during the Festival.  The Hunter wishes to avenge the death of his sons, but Bowen has reminded him they are near Nia's lands.  Nia is handed a blade by the Ork Hunter for her own safety.  The Ork then crushes a black catterpillar upon the blade, causing it to sizzle.  Nia identifies the goo as a poison, and upon seeing the Ork lick his fingers clean, realizes it is clearly a Ven-specific poison.  Remembering Jalani was once a Tavala, Nia approaches the adventuring group.  She focused on the Ven and is curious to see the man is the group's Q'val.    Nia talks to them and tries to learn why they have done what they have done.  She learns the group came upon a lair, killed a monster within it, set camp inside to rest, and the Orks came and attacked them.  They retaliated and killed five of the Orks, forcing the rest to flee.  Bowen explains the Orks' side, of having returned from a long journey to the mountain and smelled the smoke.  As they inspected the monster, they saw the adventurer's camped in the lair.  Turning to leave, the group bumps into the Shalvar (the Warrior) who then attacked them immediately. He killed four of their number, and the Q'val slew the fifth Ork.   The Q'val is astounded that Nia would side with the Orks. She reminds him she speaks to him out of courtesy since she knows what he truly is.  If he wasn't Ven, she would have just left them to suffer what the Orks desire.   The Blackhand surround Nia with weapons drawn as the Orks pounce upon the adventuring party, massacring them, now that it is clear that she does not cast her shadow upon them.  The Q'val cries out for help, taking injuries from the Orks.  The Orks stop their assault for a brief moment when Nia asks the Q'val which Suaven he serves.  The Q'val spits out Manna Rennay's name, but Nia feels that's unlikely given he is not protected by her Blessings.  Nia pushes past her guards, holding the poisoned knife in her hands, and asks the Q'val once again whom he is devoted to.  The Q'val claims this time to be devoted to Thalia Yvarai.  Avendi.  He throws out more names but these heighten only Nia's suspicion.  "Shan'ri take me," the man suddenly intones and an earthquake comes.  Trees suddenly sway.   The blackhand close around Nia to protect her.  The orks panic in the shaking.  And as they look back at the Q'val, he is gone.  Where he was earlier, a fissure now exists.  Deep down below, Nia can see flowing water.   None know of any Blessings that invoke Shan'ri.    Of the remains, Nia collects the parts of the ork that the adventuring party had slain.  She gifts them to the Ork Chieftain and from this act, the Witch attempts to gain some ground against Nia, with claims of Nia having failed to keep promises in the past.  The Chieftain, however chooses to side with Nia, and the Witch leaves warning them of curses to come.   Nia asks the Chieftain if he would like to serve her as her Warlord.  Before a decision can be made, veth on horseback emerge escorting one of the Ven.  They surround the camp, and the Ven addresses Nia in what clearly is a clear bid to establish that this is his Region.

The new arrival asks if Nia is lost, and the two clearly are at odds to establish whose Region this belongs to.  The man even wonders if Nia's Blackhand is some Secret Army.  She identifies them as her Personal Guard, of course, and learns his name is Illudyl Q'n.  As they throw reasons to prove claim on the region, Illudyl brings up that his Adventuring Party was even sent to this location to establish his hold on the land.  Nia then reveals she did encounter the Adventuring Party and shares how the supposed Q'val could not clearly cite a Suaven he was devoted truly to but in the end how the man called for the enemy to help him.   He insults her as a Ven who sleeps with Orks.  But Nia simply deflects that he seems to have mistaken her for Dranna Ru.  As the Q'n leaves and promises to raise this to the Senate, Nia gives the Warlord freedom to attack the Ven of that man's land if they seek to attempt any invasion upon it.

Nia smiles, knowing she now has an Ork Army under her control.

Jaric arrives at Kalien and sees the long lines and Quarter houses forming to allow people to wait for their turn at the Temple.   He remembers his meeting with his mother Maja who held against him the fact he made her wait.  When Jaric arrives at the Castle, the Caretaker informs him that she is indisposed.  Jaric walks past her, and heads straight to the basement to visit his daughter.  With the Riskmen and all other Vassals made to wait, Jaric heads below and finds his daughter Jessie throwing commands upon a gathering of pained and terrified prisoners.  The prisoners she commands do not seem to be Ven nor Veth.  The things are fusions of beast and other things.  Jessie proudly shares that she had mastered the Ritual of The Corpse.    Jaric was hoping Jessie to help him identify a certain person of interest, but Jessie confuses this with another man whom she supposedly has been seeing. Jessie admits that she and the man like each other but they are not in a Romance.  Jaric tells her more about Kyocera, his fragmented memories, and his claims to be Gauis Mwrr.  He wonders if there is a way for Jessie to confirm his identity.  They discuss secret names, and Jessie suggests that her father use "the pearl" and call out the name of the man he believes him to be. If it is him, then he would answer.  As they talk, however, Jaric recognizes a scroll case among her things.  It is the same scroll case among the many they used back when they saw Isolde practicing the strange occult practice about some Transformation of Thalia Yvarai.  Jessie admits she had found them among Jaric's things.  She had been studying these at well it seems.    Jaric does not recall, however, how these scrolls reached her.  He does tell her that she should tell her mother all about the boy he is seeing, as well.

Galeo works on the marble sculpture she feels would represent her family in honor of Casselanter's adulthood.  The marble statue shows the family facing an unseen assailant at all sides, armed with roses and quills.   Hero knows better than to interfere with her during the first few days of work.  She finds Maja Thayl coming to visit her, and the two quickly discuss what she calls to be more pleasant things.  Hero and Casselanter excuse themselves to give them some privacy.  Maja immediately notices the statue is for four people, and Galeo does admit they are adopting a child.  "I feel the need for my child to have a sibling."  Maja correctly assumes Galeo adopted one of the ork ven.  Maja shares her worry that Jaric does not take her seriously, and their conversation quickly heads back to Madelyn Yvarai.  Galeo realizes Madelyn is both Maja's Court Scholar and Seran's vassal.  She asks Galeo to fulfill a task for her: to befriend Jaric Thayl and become close friends, and to strip him of his rank as Marquis.  In exchange, Maja offers to make the rest of Ven society forget about Galeo's Secret Name.  All this, supposedly, to ensure he has time to see her when she visits.  Maja then waves the whole conversation away and starts over, having Galeo then ask her for help with Casselanter.  Maja admits that to erase her secret name, she will need some time and the help of Cherno.  Maja stresses the implications of the help given only Galeo will remember this favor being granted.  Not even Maja will realize it had been granted for her.  She stresses how Galeo is to be there for Jaric even if she knows she will fail, for Jalani can only defeat the threat she has to face if she abandons him.  Maja admits she knows that Galeo is the only one she can trust because Galeo is someone who will grow up to be like her.  Maja tells Galeo how Cherno was inspired by her work and how everyone suspects Errol to be Cherno, but Maja admits she knows he is not.  Maja admits she is the one sponsoring Cherno.  "Some people seek to be in-the-know.  I create the know.  Every party is my party," she reminds Galeo.  Cherno supposedly had begged Maja to let Galeo know the truth, but Maja feels it is better to let Galeo learn of Cherno on her own.  She leaves.

Seran stares at her mother's body, suspended by the white webs that manifest upon becoming one of the Suaven.  After her prayers, she turns to look around and easily finds Havar Mwrr among those present in the Temple.  The man stands alone, unaccompanied by any Vassals, and Seran opts to walk to him and stand beside him. She confronts him, asking if he is doing anything to sully her mother.  He asks if she is sincere, and she reminds him that he threatened him in the Althua.  She asks if he had done it already, and he refuses to answer.  She demands he step out, but he reminds her he has no power to force her without breaking her own rules - given the land is not Seran's.  At first, Seran attempts to pull him outside, but he resists.  She then forcefully drags him out, declaring to all nearby that the man has threatened to sully Althea Thorne, but Havar continues to show no signs of violence.  She drags him outside the Temple, and even the Roadmen nearby who recognize Seran stand ready to help.  She demands answers from him, asking him to admit what he had done, but he refuses to answer given she has already made the choice to treat him in such a manner. Seran calls for the Roadmen to take Havar prisoner and to present him to the Countess.  Havar, however, also tells them to arrest Seran for attacking an unarmed visitor of the Temple.  

They soon arrive at the castle and have both placed in the Castle's cell.  Havar makes it a point to raise that Seran should not have special treatment for being raised here, given his imprisonment are merely words while hers were acts of violence.  In the cell, Seran reminds Havar that she will kill him and even muses he probably is some tulpa.  Havar, on the other hand, admits he does anticipate her acts of violence will escalate.  She muses he probably predicted everything she would do, but he confesses he didn't - for had he done so, it would be the wife still alive and not him.  The conversation moves towards Havar seeing Seran as someone "Not ven" given her lack of interest in many things ven normally do.  She takes offense in that, and reminds him she will kill him in time.   Havar keeps talking, stating how Seran things she had lost everything that matters to her.   When he mentions Lukas, however, the topic stings Seran - who warns him further not to talk about him.   When he continues to do so, Seran stands up and draws her Bloodsword and stabs him in the throat.  The Serpent falls, blood gushing through the wound.  Seran stares and watches as the body stays on the ground.  The hours pass.  Seran continues to watch, wondering if the body would dissolve and reveal its Tulpa nature.  Guards arrive, bringing Seran bread for dinner as well as a cloth curtain to conceal the body from Seran's view.  Seran however insists for the body to be left exposed.  She asks for word to be sent to Galeo Silja of her situation.    Letters were sent out to Haroun as well, hoping to inform him that her return would be delayed.

Dawn comes.  The body remains there.  Seran still wonders if it is just some special kind of Tulpa.  The body has not vanished.   The body remains dead.  His face, however, seems to be locked in a smile.   Seran paces around, recalling the words Havar last gave before dying - about thinking she had nothing left in life - and she realizes he may have been talking about himself.

Haroun Q'n finally arrives.  He informs Seran the Vashna are outside, keeping watch in case he were to attempt to escape.  They are not aware of her actions yet, however, and Haroun sees the body.  All he knew was that she had manhandled the Serpent.  Seran explains how Havar had threatened her mother and made fun of her losses.  Haroun, however, simply sees an act unsanctioned by the Senate.  Seran reminds him that he is not recognized yet, and that it was an action in a state of great passion.  She admits to never having killed ven before.  And that she will deal with the repercussions of the act.    Haroun however raises to her attention the actions she had taken have.. ruined her.  How the ven will not remember her as the daughter of the foremost explorer of Shanri, but instead as someone who committed an act of violence in a Temple.  And worse, she had committed the act within her mother's senses and had made her mother feel the most useless entity in Shanri - helpless to help her very daughter.   Seran asks Haroun to check if the thing is a Tulpa or not, and he shakes his head. Haroun realizes he is helpless to help her too right now.

Seran takes one of the paper nearby and writes a letter that Haroun and Errol can be vassals to serve under either Galeo or Nia.  Haroun simply tells her he will do as she says, not wanting to discuss the incident more for now.  They decide to leave the Countess of Kalien to handle informing the Vashna.  By the time Jessie returns and hears of the events that transpired, she sends word to the Senate of the incident.  She feels this shouldn't be an issue.  She feels she had failed in her duties however given it has not been a season yet and there has been a death in her lands.  When Seran wonders what will be done with the body, Jessie admits it will be her's to deal with.

Nia learns that there have been attempts upon the security of her Provinces.  It is not quite certain whose actions they were, however she suspects the Foxes of the Q'n behind them.  There is wonder if the attempts were by people like Dalvinosh Steele... scavenging upon the land.  Nia feels if it is others like Dalvinosh, they should find them and give them something productive to do.  Nia actually wonders aloud if perhaps they ate one another, they would be stronger.  Dalvinosh opts not to comment on that.  He does raise that he heard Havar made an appearance.

He asks Nia why she has him serve him and she admits its partly whim and partly use.  She even mentions even his tulpa was agreeable company, though she did not expect his earnestness.  He asks if she questions his service, and he admits he would like to share a promise with her, one she may opt to share back.  The promise is that when either of them come to a point they would rather have the other dead, they are to let the other know.  With the absolute knowledge of such a confession is to be made, then can temper their fears better and function as more efficient.  He admits as an Elk he understand the usefulness of an individual and so he would like to accomplish that better - and in many ways feel less concerned that his very existence is may be in danger.   A chance to be spared of being fearful of their very lives.

Nia finds the offer acceptable, and the two promise that if either of them feel the need to kill the other, feel the urge to harm the other, and even the urge to give the other land, the other shall be warned of it beforehand.  The two swear the vow to one another and this promise is set using the Elk Blessing: The Vow.

Dalvinosh and Nia's discussion then shifts to the matter of Havar.  Dalvinosh shares how Havar seems far different from what he remembers the man to be, given the Havar from old Shanri was a coward who never could even ride an airship to attend Senate hearings.  He was an absolute pacifist and valued life so much he showed no true capacity nor strength to inflict murder.  Dalvinosh wonders if Havar had seen the Dragon... and if it had changed him so much.

Finally, they discuss the matter of Dalvinosh's tulpa.  Dalvinosh was curious to how many were created and stresses that his tulpa's last longer than others.  When Nia admits that she would like to know how, Dalvinosh warns her that she may be breaking Senate law given Sorcery is illegal. Nia counters that talking about it is not illegal.  In exchange, Dalvinosh would love to have a bed.  Nia agrees she can have one made before winter.  When Janine calls out from below, reminding Nia that it is time for dinner, Dalvinosh asks if he can share with her the things they have discussed.  Nia admits she trusts Janine and that she has been visiting him in secret.  Dalvinosh hopes she was aware of this.  

Nia heads down to the dining hall and joins her wife for dinner.  The staff prepare the table while the two prepare to feast.  Nia notices the staff bring in sweetened juice instead of wine.  When she asked if there is a shortage of something, Janine Mwrr ushers the stafff away and admits to Nia there is something she wants her to know.  There is no shortage of wine.  Instead, Janine had been speaking with Dalvinosh Steele in private and confesses that she had been considering that it was time for another child.  Nia is confused, asking if they had not spoken of this topic the previous winter, and that Janine was okay with it.  Janine shares how she feels Dalvinosh might stand as a suitable donor, given his standing and how his age would ensure the lack of any Romantic notions in the act.  Nia admits it is a disquieting image.  Janine admits she was worried more that Nia might have ended up doing it with Haroun, but thinks she may have been just paranoid.  Nia then admits she remembered Janine saying it was okay... and now it seems it would be three children not two for them. "You said I should return to who I was and let go. And so I did."  The two pregnant ven stare at each other from across the table.   The two simply try to enjoy dinner and both stick to water and juice for now.

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