Gia Sojourner is being escorted by Captain Leoric Jadgthson to the Cathedral of Light. He asks her about how she came to be at River Gate in such dangerous times. She tries to be cagey, but he eventually figures out that she follows the spirits. He tells her that he needs to leave her so he can see the Countess Lady Hapsteng. Before he leaves, a blaring trumpet draws him to the North Gate.
Inside the cathedral, there is a flurry of activity as acolytes and servant rush about to prepare for an event. She asks to see the body of the blood priestess they recovered. The guard asks for a writ of service, but she has none. He escorts her to a small library on the side of the temple to wait for someone of authority to decide on her request. She sees Xarth and Belenus being led by a small group of temple guards. She tries to talk to them, but is stopped from getting close to the prisoners.
The two men are led into a bare room a couple of doors away from where Gia is waiting. While she waits, Gia peruses the collection of books in the room. There are histories of various faiths of the peoples that lived in the valley over the ages. She manages to find two books regarding the spirits and the Mladovians. She comes across a notation about corrupted ley lines causing disruptions with the spirits.
Father Daniel comes to speak with her. He is not fully convinced that she is actually someone of authority but will speak with her further. He states that he is also concerned that even the corpse of a blood priestess could corrupt Gia. He speaks about the upcoming ceremony that is the reason for all the commotion in the main temple. They will bless the victorious warriors from the rout of the Reavers. Everyone in the temple hears the praise of the warriors. Ælfric Reiner is announced as the rightful King of Dakar.
Bel and Xarth peek out and are permitted to watch the ceremony from the room they are in. Gia looks out of her room as well, but as she is not under watch she wanders towards the gathering crowd gently works her way to the front.
Ælfric walks forward to be blessed by Warden Warden Danfael. The prayer and sermon is long and arduous, stretching beyond an hour. Although Warden Danfael is not a gifted orator, the strength of his faith is on display. After months of troubles and hopelessness, the true strength of The Light is felt by all in attendance. Standing just inside the door, Belenus starts a shout in support of young Ælfric, which also has the grace to cut short the rest of the sermon.
When Ælfric ascends the dais and receives the personal blessing by Warden Danfael the shouts reach a fever pitch. He turns to face the crowd and raises his hands to silence them. He speaks out against Lady Hapsteng, demanding the release of the Lord Marshal. He has personally met with the Lord Marshal on several occasions and can speak to his godly nature. The Lord Marshal and now The Light has recognized his claim to the throne, which causes Warden Danfael to blanch, as the true son of Crown Prince Corwyn.
As Lords and Knights around the room pledge their support a crossbow bolt slams into Ælfric’s chest. His shieldmen rush to defend him as the crowd panics, fear overtaking common sense. Gia rushes towards Ælfric to offer her assistance, accompanying the wounded man as he is escorted towards a private room. Belenus and Xarth manage to spot the assassin and give chase as he attempts to flee. Belenus, known to many of Lord Brandr’s men convinces them to shut the main door so the assassin cannot blend with the crowd and escape.
With both Xarth and Belenus chasing him the assassin ducks behind and worn tapestry and slithers through an iron grate. It takes some time for the two men to wrench the gate free as the consecrated ground stops Xarth from using his magic. Both of them drop into the drainage system and continue the chase. In a small basin the assassin is cornered and pummeled unconscious.
Brizanthimus, Rosa, and the prisoner arrive in a small cave. They are on the ridges to the south of the city and can see a Reaver war camp farther down. They decide to sneak away and climb over the wall. They are in the Glory Ridge area. Rosa leads Briz down the hill to find Lord Brander. When they arrive, Lord Brandr greets them briefly and has a servant show them to a sitting room. A servant comes in a short time later bearing mulled wine – Rosa begging off for religious reasons.
While Briz is talking to the servant, he reveals that he is Charles. He tries to offer Briz a new deal in exchange for Gloria’s soul to be released into the afterlife rather than being trapped by him. Briz rejects the offer. Charles threatens Rosa’s life as well. Briz grabs on his arm and pulls the magic holding Charles in place away from the demon, causing him pain. Charles retreats rather than being injured by the crazy bard.
Briz makes his excuses to the men waiting outside that he does not have time to speak with Lord Brandr fully, but will call upon him later. He takes Rosa by the arm and flees the house. There is something inhuman in the eyes of Lord Brandr’s men and it is possible they are all Charles’ servants.
Briz and Rosa flee towards the elves, but find that they are no longer guarding the docks. The people there say they were told gather their belongings before the storm is expected to make landfall. Briz leads Rosa to the Enclave to speak with Radiant. The elder elf explains that the elves have set a trap for a great evil and the city will be destroyed in the springing of the trap. He gets him to agree to work for his cause to lead the people from the city before the trap they have set hits.
In exchange Briz tells him about the Reavers along the south ridge. Radiant will get Briz into the Palace area so he has a chance of freeing the Lord Marshal. In trade, Radiant agrees to ensure Rosa’s safety to return to her people. Radiant tells him that the Lord Marshal must lead as many people as possible to the east before the city is destroyed. Briz knows that Radiant is involved far deeper that he speaks about, but right now he needs his help too much to pry.
Belenus, Xarth, and the assassin are brought before Inquisitor Valten who has all three of them chained. He questions the assassin thoroughly but keeps him alive enough to hang. The assassin was paid by Rocco, who is one of the Lords of Water. It judges this confession to be true and after briefly questioning Belenus and Xarth he frees them. he also confides in Belenus that Xarth is not to be trusted as he has broken faith with the gods and imperiled his mortal soul.
Valten goes to the chamber where they are caring for King Æfric and orders everyone out of the room. When Gia passes by him his witch reacts and tackles the old woman to the floor. Valten denounces her as a witch, possibly in league with those who sought the young king’s death only moments ago. As two guards grab and drag her to her feet the Inquisitor can finally look into her eyes. Whatever he finds when he looks at her soul he never speaks about except to order the guards to release her. When she has recovered he politely asks her to follow him.
He takes Gia to the chamber where they are keeping Gwendolyn. His final request of her is that she help him with whatever information she can provide. After doing her best the Inquisitor has one of the priests escort her to the gate, where she sees Belenus. They trade information briefly and part ways. Bel then goes to see Mirwyn who tells him that the city is facing destruction and he should leave. Someone more powerful than he or she is working to kill the demon and they are willing to sacrifice everyone in the city.
Xarth goes to Blackyard Prison and exchanges information with Alanna of the Guardians. He agrees to slip south of the city and verify the rumors that an armed raiding group is working its way along the Fuldelf Ridge. He does not get very far when he hears a muffled explosion and sees a large fireball rise over the beach where the ships were being constructed. He calls One-Eye to him.
Nigel and Larthian return to the enclave to talk to scholars. The scholars are gone, but a young boy apprentice comes in. Nigel is desperate for information and is willing to strike any deal that could aid Dae. The boy summons forth a spirit and exchanges one year of his life for information about Danshi. In exchange for this information he wants one unnamed favor from Nigel. He will call upon Nigel one time in the future with a task that must be finished. Nigel agrees and learns about the goddess.
Aside from remaking the entire world to strip her power there is only one way to save his sister. He must take possession of the Bloodstaff. His bloodline and stubbornness will protect him for nearly a decade before he succumbs to its effects. During that time he will have to find one person fully willing to the utter destruction of their soul to unmake the staff. Such a person would be nearly impossible to find as self-sacrifice of one’s soul is not within a mortal’s nature. The sky is suddenly bathed in red light as fire rises into the sky over the harbor.
Gia lets the gate guards to Glory Ridge know about the Reavers to the south. These guards are much more willing to listen to her ramblings than the others and so she spends some time just talking to them. It is a pleasant enough conversation but is interrupted by a cracking explosion as a large ball of fire rises above the city. The don’t even make their apologies as one rushes to the harbor while the other runs to report to the captain.
Briz is taken through the tunnels by the elves. The path is nearly overrun with demons and other creatures of the underworld. By the time he gets there, there is only one guide remaining out of the original six. Briz is inside the Lord Marshal’s house. He creeps in the hallway and finds four guards outside the Lord Marshal’s room. He tries to distract the guards, but fails to fool them – they demand that he come out and surrender. Briz tries to create the illusion that he is wearing the livery of a house servant, but his magic is just refusing to hold together. As the illusion pulls away from itself they take him prisoner and drag him to the tower where Oswald had been held.
One of the guards recognizes him as a powerful wizard. Briz states clearly that if he were a wizard, he could make things explode with a snap of his fingers. Just after he snaps his fingers, the explosion at the docks goes off. The guards beat him up and stuff him in an iron box with only his head sticking out.
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