The Nisab Diary
Episode Nine - 7th Sea
The group finds themselves crashing a wedding. And the wedding happens to be that of Maddie, an old childhood sweetheart of Jan Volta who still has feelings for him, to his other friend, Thomas Aorsi. Jan finds his mind racing back to the memories of his friendship with Thomas, Maddie, and a fourth friend, Christie. How they made promises between them to never be apart and to never forget each other. How years later, at the Lyceum, they make the promise again. And even more years later, at the Academy, they still hoped to maintain their friendship. Jan smiles at Maddie. Maddie smiles at Thomas. Thomas smiles at Christie. "Jan Volta," a voice calls out to them. Reikion and Walden Reichart realize the people at the wedding recognize their companion. The bride, Maddie, stands up and Jan stares at her, remembering those years they were falling for each other before he disappeared from the group. Thomas rushes to Jan and gives him a tight hug, overwhelmed with joy to see his old friend again. Both Reikion and Walden stay silent, leaving Jan to take the lead and explain why they have suddenly appeared out of the shadows. Thomas introduces them to old friends of theirs, Valderamas (another Zynys), Veronique Soldead (a Fate Witch), Finn McKeelan (duelist and charmer), and Lena Damaske (Eisen Pirate turned Privateer) who are also in attendance. Maddie exits the reception, clearly taking Jan's reappearance in a negative way. Jan's disappearance for twenty years is clearly remembered by all and Jan knows the reason it happened was his encounter with his Dievas. Walden approaches the closest fireplace to dry himself from the rain they had come from. Reikion finds a few fascinated women in attendance asking him to share more tales of the foreign lands they have never visited. Reikion connects to a Raven through Matushka's blessings and has it approach. Finn, Lena, and Veronique remind Thomas that Maddie has left the reception and nudge him to bring Jan with him to the back areas and look for her. Thomas was so excited he completely forgot to mention Maddie. Jan, however, suspects she walked out due to the "relationship" they once shared. Among the guests, Reikion and Walden meet include a Montaigne named Merrit Borgen, who they soon learn once had Porte and practiced using it but now no longer has any ability to use it. He used to visit a doctor to find out why his gift had gone awry, but the late Doctor Nisab Guissola never figured it out. Walden confirms that Merrit was her patient for five years although he has confusing times of thinking she visited her to offer her his abilities.. which would be odd since he remembers losing them much earlier. Walden sees a long stitch at the back of the man's head, from ear to nape. He wonders if Nisab had somehow taken something from him that allowed him to use his sorcery.
Reikion closes his eyes and mentally connects to the raven flying outside. He guides it to fly off and check on his fellow Eventide clansmen. Frighteningly, he seems to find proof matching the Inquisitor's claims as he finds the camps empty of his fellow clansmen. He visits another safe house and finds it still occupied, but as he descends to check he realizes those present are not of his clan, but people who have squatted in the location. Snapping out of it, Reikion opens his eyes and hears the people around him talking about the Ebon Doctor, a villain supposedly from another world with the ability to travel wherever he desires. Walden joins the conversation, admitting that sounds like Porte. No one, however has seen the Ebon Doctor but supposedly he stalks the streets of Vortua at night, abducting people for his hellish experiments as corpses have been found missing body parts come morning. Walden confirms they currently are at Vortua, at the Sarmatian Commonwealth.
At the back area, Jan admits he had to handle a problem which leads to his disappearance. Thomas mistakes it to mean Jan had gotten someone pregnant. He even thinks Jan ran off and did not bother to raise the child. Jan decides its best to not dwell on the past and focus on finding Maddie. They find Christie smiling at them, asking if this is who she thinks it is. Jan greets her and Thomas admit how in the past he used to wonder why he barely spoke to Christie and spoke only to Maddie. Thomas wondered if he and Christie were hiding some secret. Christie teases she can see Jan is no longer alone. Jan realizes in horror that Christie was never Thean like they were. Christie is a dievas, and she has been Thomas' dievas ever since those earlier days. Jan is taken aback when his own dievas motions for Christie to step back, claiming Jan is already "taken." Christie admits, "Not all of us stay in the shadows." Jan realizes Christie was always talking to Thomas and the two used to have these little dares as games, with Christie challenging Thomas to do small things like getting her a drink, or a kiss on her cheek, for answers to questions he may have. She, like his own dievas, was a demon of Knowledge.
Walden and Reikion confirm that among the guests is the son of the King himself, Aleksy Gracjan Nowak who meets with them and reminds them they are all equals here despite his title. They talk about how many guests were shocked at seeing sorcery, being used to the old ways. Aleksy even assumes Jan had asked his dievas for assistance to arrive here. Walden and Reikion ask questions to him, realizing they have no idea how Jan does accomplish things that seem impossible. Aleksy explains the concept of the old gods, the dievas, who have shaped the lands of Sarmatia and are the muses of knowledge, the lords of cold and fire. Reikion realizes this is why Jan keeps talking to himself! Aleksy admits their line has never had dievas, and some stories claim theirs were stolen away. The tales do claim they can be destroyed, however, although there are no actual documents of the dievas ever being freed. He suggests there is an organization that maintains or keeps watch of those who have become Zynys, and that they would interfere when necessary. They are warned that not all forms of sorcery are accepted in this country. The belief in the old ways is still strong however, enough that the Vaticine Church and their Inquisitors do not have a strong grasp of power here. Their discussion then shifts to talk about the Ebon Doctor and the man from Montaigne, Merrit Borgen. Walden wonders if the Ebon Doctor is some kind of vigilante. Walden and Reikion are offered clothes to wear to change from their wet clothes. Prominent on their change of clothes are the cloth belts they are asked to wear, a fashion highly influenced by the Crescent Empire.
The group meets Alexsy Nowak and his wife, Domenica Vespucci. They learn of the troubles plaguing the Sarmatian Commonwealth and the significance of the sash they wear. The concept that in this land, "Everyone is a noble," shocks Reikion and Walden more so at the thought that a piece of cloth can mean so much. At the distance, the bride seems to be crying over something. She turns and sees Jan Volta, who greets her as if they just met the previous night. As she tries to walk out, he grabs her arm and tries to start a conversation. She spits back that better men could have started with an apology. Apologies come, though they are twenty years too late. He asks if she is happy to be wed to Thomas. They shake hands and Jan's mind flashes back to when he held her hand that time in the past they were at the Lyceum and she was having second thoughts of staying in it. He recalls as they hugged, that was the moment he liked her. She questions him showing up now after twenty years and Jan, back focused on the present, tries to explain why he had to leave and he realizes she keeps talking about how she thought the three of them would live a life where they were together. Jan corrects her each time and reminds her she means four. She tries to walk out again but he follows her and explains he found... someone. Jan tries to correct it by saying, "Someone found me... No wait.. I mean I am not alone.. No... " he scratches his head, unsure how to say things. A voice asks if they are okay and Jan turns to see a woman dressed in black whose presence has so much dignity and discipline that Jan feels like he already wronged her despite meeting her for the first time. Maddie calls the woman her auntie and explains she is just talking with an old friend. The aunt smiles and Jan cannot ignore how he finds her to feel like a predator. Maddie introduces her auntie, Elena Grigorii, to Jan Volta. Jan realizes the name is one of the names he saw on the wall. Elena, however, notices Jan recognized her name. She tells Maddie her husband is looking for her and ushers her away. "It is all right, darling, it is just a wedding." Jan tells Maddie she has a dievas. He reminds her whatever happened to them happened and that will never change. Maddie admits life is different now.
Back in the ballroom, the people continue to socialize and schmooze with the others. Valderamas notices the husband seems to be uncertain as he tries to explain to the guests that his wife will be back soon. She's just prettying herself a bit more. Walden and Reikion talk about their encounter back in the city and that confrontation with Julianna Onestra. Reikion worries about his brothers and their safety, given Julianna's claims of placing them in danger. Glass shatters. The two turn towards the sound, the people in the event begin to scream as two dark misshapen figures. Walden tries to study it while Reikion rushes to the nearby people and tells them to hurry out. The two figures are covered in some kind of glow. There is laughter in the room, and to their surprise, Finnegan McKeelan leaps onto a table and yells at his companions, "My sword!" They yell back instead for him to get it himself! A larger shape tramples forward, crashing through tables. Walden yells at the thing, attempting to lure it towards himself. He makes a show of drawing his blade to try to pressure the horrible thing to focus on him. The horror gasps out in its throaty maw, "Eeeeeehhhhbooooon" and then suddenly swings at Walden with a tentacle like form. The people scatter and begin running. Reikion hears someone call out a warning for him and he turns to see another monstrous thing leap at him! Reikion is knocked back and his sword skitters across the floor. Walden yells out to warn them the thing is strong! Reikion rolls on the ground and manoeuvres to land where the blade it, grabbing it back as he growls at the horror.
Back inside, Maddie complains to Jan about how he and his friends have complicated things once more, especially on her wedding night. "You made me hope, you ruined my life, you left me alone, and after I spent years relearning to live again and start to think Thomas is the guy for me, you show up on my wedding night to ruin it barely after we just got proclaimed as a couple!" Jan shakes his head is frustration, drawing his pistols as they try to bust through the doorway to the unfolding battle. But the door rattles and does not open. Maddie lifts her skirt and tries kicking it as well, but it still does not open. Both stare at each other, surprised.
At the other side, Walden dodges as the thing flings a table at him, and it smashes against the door which Maddie and Jan tried to step out of. Reikion snarls at the monstrous forms and waits for an opening. Walden hears Reikion guide him to strike at the perfect moment to slam a chair at the thing. Reikion realizes these unnatural things are somehow amalgams of various things and before he can cry out another warning at Walden, the monster knocks Walden once more across the room, smashing into the wedding displays. Reikion leaps onto the monster, picking it up, and throwing it across the room into the smaller one. The smaller one bursts apart, like a broken fleshy toy. The larger one starts to rise again, getting ready to recover. "High or low?" a voice calls out to Reikion, and he responds with, "High!" As he jumps up to strike at the horror, Lena Damaske appears sliding below him to strike the beast with her own blade. Reikion twists into a somersault to recover and land beside her. The monstrosity, however, takes the strikes, picks them both up and slams them into each other. They hit the ground, rolling away in pain. Someone calls out, attracting its attention. Veronique Soledad starts backing away, telling them that the thing can't look away from her so long as she has drawn its attention. The others consider their options.
Maddie and Jan wonder if they should pull the door instead when it suddenly slams inwards, bouncing off the hinges, then smacking into Finnegan, who was about to reach for it as well. Walden kicked the door, hoping to open it up and accidentally hit Finnegan instead. They see a dark figure staring at Elena Grigorii and it darts away down a doorway as another window shatters open. A new monster lands where Elena stands. Valderamas motions towards the panicked guests and winds begin to blow, guiding them to the exits. Finnegan shakes his head, recovering from the fluke accident. Walden sees the smaller monstrosities harassing the guards and feels divided on whom to focus on. Realizing the guards might not be prepared for this, he screams out and charges at the smaller beasts to recklessly take them down!
Lena and Reikion consider striking between the scales of the horror. They rush forward, training their blades to strike between the monster's scales at the same moment. With Lena wrapping her legs around the waist of the horror, Reikion leaps up and slides his blade into the area where Lena pries the scale away from the body. A torrent of black blood gushes out as the creature howls in pain! But somehow, the wound begins to stitch back closed as they realize the horror regenerates! Reikion twists the blade, hoping to see a peek of what is inside.
Jan sees the horror try to attack Elena, he rushes to help. Elena dodges in time as the horror clips the ground she was standing at. Jan rushes through the doorway after the figure and sees the servants ducking out of the way. The dark figure continues to run, rushing through another door. Jan raises his pistol and fires at the figure's foot to disable him. Jan times the shot perfectly to avoid hitting any of the bystanders nearby.
A tentacle wraps around Lena, flinging her across the room. Reikion finds the opportunity to rip the thing's chest open, revealing two pumping hearts stitched together with strange fleshy threads. Realizing the wound is closing again, Reikion reaches in to grab the hearts and rip them out!
"Who are you and why are you here?" Jan yells at the figure, pinning him to the wall with his pistol after the shot he fired forced the man to stop running. The man claims he's a friend and Jan realizes the man's face is twisted wrong. He has a second pair of lips beneath the bearded face and the flaky skin. He grabs the face and rips it free, revealing an older tired looking fellow. The man raises his hands in surrender, claiming he is, "My name is Samo Sokolof.. I am a friend!" A servant cries out as he recognizes the old man and points out a hanging flier on the wall showing a likeness of the old man drawn on the sign: Wanted. Inform the City Watch of any sightings. "An associate of the Ebon Doctor," the servant gasps out, "That is him!" Jan forces the man to surrender, promising him a chance to talk later. Not wanting him to have a chance to escape, Jan gives his Dievas a signal and Sokolof is wrapped in ice to keep him in place. Elena Grigorii steps into the kitchen, seeing the man frozen in ice. She thanks Jan for capturing the old man as she always wondered when the Ebon Doctor and his associates will ever be captured. "Maybe this time we can know the truth about the Ebon Doctor." Jan tells them he has to go and save his other friends. Elena smirks she sees now why her niece Madelyn was madly in love with him. "Or at least.. why she still is."
Outside, Walden drops to the ground, exhausted. The horrors are twitching in their death throes. Some of the guests emerge from their hiding places, cheering their victory. Reikion drops to the ground, tired as well. His hands are blackened by the hearts he had torn out, but the thing somehow still was strong enough to act and ran for the window, shattering it as it ran to escape. Reikion grabs hold of the horror, not wanting it to escape. He holds on as it leaps across the street and hurries to try and escape. It leaps from rooftop to rooftop, tries to get further and further away, Reikion realizes it might be better to try to see where the thing hopes to escape to. He lets go, but watches as the horror leaps towards the nearest bridge area and tries to escape by moving beneath it. Reikion moves quickly, dealing a final blow at the thing before it can make its way into the canal. The horror collapses, dead. Reikion sees the blood flowing into the canal, marks the entryway, and transforms into a raven as he flies in to investigate. He finds the winding passageways and studies which direction in the catacombs might be the best direction to take.
Maddie is sitting on the ground. Valderamas tries to console her. Lena and Veronique continue to gaze out the window for any sign of where Reikion had gone. Veronique admits she can try to find him but she isn't certain her sorcery would work. Walden admits this all feels like home in an odd way - with all the monsters and stuff. Among the guards, Thomas emerges. Maddie calls out to him, asking if he is okay. He admits he is but states the unthinkable: Aleksy has been abducted. Jan declares he believes this is the work of the Ebon Doctor and that he captured one of his associates in the kitchen. Maddie wonders what such a person would want to do with the Prince. Elena admits that if it were not for the heroes, there would be more casualties. Maddie ushers the guests home. Thomas sends his friends to scout around for any signs of the missing Prince. Elena asks Jan, and Walden to work with her to try to uncover any information about the Ebon Doctor, given his ability to create monsters using parts of the dead. "What sort of person brings things back from the dead?" Walden silently admits he has an idea. Elena promises to do what she can to help them. Jan and Walden glance at each other - remembering seeing Elena Grigorii's name before among those working with the enemy. They wonder if they can keep up apperances of pretending not to recognize her and use that to their advantage.
Elsewhere, Reikion cannot find a good trail down at the catacombs. He flies back out and wonders if the group knows of anyone who might recognize a way down below. He sees the blood staining the ground but notices the body of the horror is gone. Probably sunk into the depths of the canal. At least that was what he thought at first until he realizes he sees tracks. And the tracks suggest the thing had walked away.
It still survived despite not having its hearts.