Belenus had just announced the appearance of Reavers to the Hochwürden, who collapsed upon hearing it. Alanna snaps out orders, both her own command and the Temple guard immediately respond. The cathedral is cleared of anyone not directly working for the church. She commands the guard to grab Xarth and “asks” Belenus to stay around as well. As several priests move the Hochwürden into a back room to be tended, Alanna sends Khirgha’s team to the east to determine the location of the Reavers.
Xarth is given a choice – purification by confession or a quick death. He refuses both options, putting his hands into the fate of the temple Inquisitor. He is led to a back room where as expected Valten arrives. Upon seeing who awaits him, Valten tells him to leave these holy grounds and do not befoul them with his presence again. He knows the three of them profaned themselves in the eyes of the gods and will have nothing more to do with them.
After several hours Belenus is finally released by Alanna as well. He told what happened over and over so many times he felt like he could speak in his sleep. Finally she seemed appeased and he was free. Given what happened he decides it is best to find a new room – at an inn far from where he is currently staying.
The days continue to pass, the temperature drops, and the snow continues to fall.
Xarth’s Fight Club continues to grow, so much that it is beginning to gather more and more of the wrong sort of people. They are not interested in improving themselves as much as a sense of desperation among them. He reaches out to many of the local constables, eventually a member of the city guard named Jalo agrees to help him weed out the worst of the thugs among his ranks.
Merrick, the leader of a group of dwarves that has been training with him, approaches him before their workout during the week. He says that his Jarl has forbidden any Stonearm to train with Xarth. The reason being is that Xarth blasphemed in the church and did not pray for forgiveness. This sin is before the gods is simply unbearable and will ultimately lead to Xarth’s destruction. Should Xarth wish to repent the Jarl will agree to take his club back under consideration.
Belenus is searching of a practitioner of magic willing to teach him at least enough to control what is happening. His search leads him to the Rusty Anchor – a tavern in Fishtown where elves and humans intermingle. An elven woman name Euriel says that if he wants to learn then he should return later and she would find someone to teach him. Assuming that his story rings true.
When Belenus returns several days later he again meets up with Euriel. She introduces Mirwen, an elven woman skilled with both axe and magic. Mirwen draws her axes and attacks him, while Euriel works to weaken the natural barriers between a human and the flow of the Shadow Realms. Belenus is very stubborn, but they nearly reach a break-through when power bursts out of him, his voice becomes dead and hollow speaking of death for any who oppose him. Belenus collapses shortly afterwards.
His work on gaining control of some measure of the docks is working, but far too slowly. He has gathered a few stout men with him, but it is becoming more difficult to recruit without exposing himself. He pivots in his attempt to deal with the three smugglers calling themselves the Lords of the Water. He suggests that Nigel kill one of them and shift the blame to the Temple of Light. The Karashites consider the docks theirs to oversee and would not take any interference lightly.
Nigel meets with Amer concerning a job that Amer needs done. Since he has failed to get much further on his own assignment he agrees to help. Amer’s associate Pox, a half-elf, will be assisting him for the next few days. The two of them go to the docks to meet with Oswald as the job concerns something he wants done. They reach his shop, but before they can fully discuss the plans – Pox warns them that the streets are emptying and several groups of men are blocking the street.
Oswald tries to sweet talk them or even outright buy their loyalty, but these men mean business. Unfortunately for them so does Nigel. Sixteen men start the fight, but in the end most of them are dead – five have taken Oswald’s offer while the other bodies are pitched into the bay. Nigel does not care one way or the other, but he will think about helping the hashan.
Briz attends a knighting ceremony along with the Lord Marshal at the Grand Cathedral. One the way back their group is approached by a bedraggled woman with dirty blonde hair that calls to Briz by name. Before the guards push the woman back, Briz recognizes her as Gwyndolen – the enchantress that worked at the menagerie back in Ulrichstein. When she mentions a staff dripping blood and that Amer forced he to do something the Lord Marshal is interested and brings her back to his personal residence.
After some rather gentle questioning of the woman – and a bit more pointed questions directed at Briz. The Lord Marshal explains that he has been told by the Temple that the Bloodstaff that Briz knows from Ulrichstein is an artifact crafted under the power of Danshi. With the appearance of her most devoted followers, the Reavers, drawn to this place – destruction and death await the city. He asks Briz to get close to Amer no matter the cost for if Amer seeks to obtain the title Blood Priest he will need a great sacrifice in Danshi’s name.
Amer is invited to dine with Countess Hapsteng and some friends. Lord and Lady Liese are the only other notables in attendance. The meal is fine and the conversation light during the first few courses. When the main meal arrives Lady Beatrice turns the conversation to the state of the city in general. Supported by Lady Liese she directs her attempts to entice Amer into supporting the Temple of Light in these dark times. Amer suspects that Lady Liese is a fervent believer, but he knows that Lady Beatrice has more intricate plans. Amer hints to this several times during the conversation, giving Lady Beatrice a pause in her pitch.
As Lady Liese presses on Amer agrees in principal to many of the things she is debating concerning the proper roles of the nobility and peasants. Sensing an opening Lady Beatrice has her priest summoned in order to convert Amer to The Light. Although he is a bit trapped by the situation, Amer extracts himself but not without losing the support of those at the table. Lady Liese speaks only a few polite words to him for the remainder of the evening.
Amer attends a dinner between himself, the Lord Marshal, Briz, Ilse, and Gloria. After Gloria and Illse following the meal business can be handled. The Lord Marshal peppers Amer with several questions, using Briz as his stalking horse to determine if he is telling the truth. Topics include the trouble a hashan is causing down at the docks, the luncheon with Countess Hapsteng, and his thoughts on the trouble of the winter. Briz is fairly certain Amer is hiding something, but he cannot determine exactly what he know for sure.
To cap off the evening the Lord Marshal brings in Gwyndolen, who has been made more presentable. She recognizes Amer and immediately begins to tell him that his life is in danger. The Bloodstaff that he was so eager to control has drawn the Reavers to the city. She cannot untie her own fate from his ambition and fears that she will be killed by the followers of Danshi. Briz looks deeply at Amer, sensing the flow of magic in his aura. There is such an over-powering sense of chaos and wrongness that he is forced to leave the room.
The Lord Marshal simply smiles and has one of his servants help Gwyndolen back to her room. He thanks Amer for the enjoyable evening and promises that they will speak again soon.
A few nights later word travels among the small group of people conspiring with the Vulfgrau House to meet at the Erasmus Trading House in the evening. Amer, Briz, Oswald, Belenus, Nigel, and Xarth meet inside while Pox agrees to keep a watch on the surrounds. There is much to discuss concerning problems within the group as well as difficulties they are facing carrying out their instructions. Attempts to drive wedges between the people and nobility as well as the Temple of Light are proceeding, but the death toll of this civil war weighs on the minds of the less amoral of the group.
During these “discussions” Pox crawls through a collapsed section and tells Amer that a dozen men in cloaks are approaching. They seem unnaturally quiet and unaffected by the thick snow on the ground. Amer leaves it up to each person to decide their course of action, but he elects to stay. Oswald slips out the back, while Xarth and Belenus hide in a nearby alleyway. Briz slips outside and hides behind an illusion, leaving only Nigel and Amer inside the building.
The unknown men come forward with over half their number charging into the alley where Xarth and Belenus are hiding. The remainder of the group try to batter their way inside. When Nigel appears and throws a knife at someone that looks to be in charge he is told that they are only here for Amer’s arm. Nigel is not given enough time to consider simply hacking off Amer’s arm because Belenus and Xarth finish with those that opposed them and crash into the remaining attackers.
Amer climbs over the new construction into an alley on the far side and makes his way around to the front – Nigel prefers the direct route and simply charges into the scrum. As the leader begins to call up infernal power, Briz appears near him and opens himself to his conduit which sucks magic into a void. This has an adverse effect on one of the cloaked men, who throws off the visage a men and transforms into a demon.
Again and again Amer calls upon the power of Tminir Tower to vanquish these infernal wizard and his demon pet. It stops the creature from advancing towards him long enough for Nigel, Xarth, and Belenus to strike a series of fatal blows. Outnumbered and surrounded the wizard unleashes his full power, sacrificing his remaining demons to fuel the spell. Infernal fire rolls outwards from his body, slamming physical into everything and creating fires in the nearby buildings. Oswald returns with several of his men to stop the fires from spreading.
In time the men of the watch arrive, drawn by the fires, and in a few hours manages to extinguish them. By this time the demon bodies either appear as little more than burned skeletons or have returned to their own realm. Amer simply explains to them that they arrived in time to stop an arson attempt by persons unknown to them.
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