When the sun rises Quilate and Keribrar begin the day by fixing up the shop they are currently living in. The Veridian Vault is still in need of constant repair. It doesn’t help that Keribrar is almost never in the shop. They have plans to visit the buried city beneath Fountainhead. Lady Anne Mowbry comes down later after dressing herself for the day.
Thorne is in his room at the Watchers’ House with Seirian waiting for her to wake. When she does he begins asking her questions – and he has many questions, but he has answers as well. She seems to have lost significant portions of her memory so Thorne fills her in on what happened. The last thing she clearly remembers is escorting Father Karl to the ruins beneath the city. He takes her to the Veridian Vault to meet with the others.
Hafwyn stretches in the morning sun. She spent the night outside the city hunting. Checking her snares in the morning yields two rabbits and an ocelot. She lets the fellow hunter go, but the rabbits are fat and look tasty. She has grown to dislike Fountainhead, but until things improve she is still drawn there. So many people packed together it is a wonder they haven’t killed each other yet. So goes to the Veridian Vault to share this morning’s bounty.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”Faulkner
At the Veridian Vault everyone has questions for Seirian as she has been here longer than the rest and spend much of that time in the Shadowdark. When pressed she remembers the shackles and parts of his workshop. There is a even a temple there where Duerte would commune with spirits of the Everdark.
From her time before reaching the city she remembers more, but even that seems disjointed. A god worshiped by the goblins of the Hutai Tribe called Wǎk lives in the Blackthorn Mountains. It is said that he plays three drums to keep a great darkness beneath the mountain asleep. She remembers visiting the city of Dahgweta and the Sunna that live there.
While she is talking Keribrar notices that his house begins to smoulder, starting with the wall facing the street. He rushes outside, followed by the others, and finds Warden walking past with four members of the Rover Gang. The Ash Hunter’s hounds have a harness connected to a body they are dragging.
The gang has been killing trespassers, which probably accounts for the lack of customers. The other gangs have been trying to push into their territory and Gorrick has decided to end them. He struck a bargain with Warden to seal off the border between the Blackhouse and the rest of the city. The kids know the caves well enough to pass under this barrier, but few people brave the dangers under the city. Warden tells them he is building a pile of ash and then bringing some predators from his lands to live in them.
While they are talking to Warden and he is standing outside their house they notice to late the smouldering has burst into a fire. Keribrar, Quilate, and Lady Anne rush in to save as much of their belongings as possible. In the process Quilate tries to steal one of the orbs, but Keribrar catches him. With the building a complete loss and this neighborhood a complete loss soon to be sealed they decided to settle elsewhere.
Caves of Chaos
Land of Techiuan
It is decided to take Seirian to see Father Karl. The good father has remained upon the land blessed by the miracle of the reforging of the Cup Everflowing. In the mud they find people have raised tents and pavilions. Tradesmen like lumberers, charcoalers, weavers, brick-makers have set aside space for their craft. Each of them are using the water from the Cup Everflowing when possible. The followers have set the cup upon a large log of wood surrounded by empty barrels to catch the water. Even with that precaution the land is still squishy with mud and the air is thick with smoke.
Father Karl greets them along with Benevenuta. He wants to show them what they have accomplished since last night. Anne stops at the edge of the rock, afraid to go any further, while the others proceed. When the others feet touch the earth they disappear from Anne’s sight, but Father Karl and Seirian act as if they are still following him. She cannot even sense them through her bond. Worried about losing them Anne steps forward. It is like crawling through mud for her, but eventually she staggers out dense underbrush and into a small clearing.
The others have been in the clearing for several minutes and have already scouted the area. The trees are massive reaching nearly four hundred feet in the air. Quilate had flown to the top and looked around spotting a small settlement under a mile away consisting of five buildings and a familiar stone temple. Hafwyn discovered the trees are cold to the touch and have moss growing along all sides of the trunk. It is possible this is the fae lands, but if so Thorne has not been here.
Quilate guides everyone to the temple, but when they get there the scene is very different. The surrounding houses have been burned and thirty-seven grave markers have been placed at the head of a massive grave. An elf is sleeping on the stone bench in front of the temple, a shovel leaning against him. His feet and hands are caked in mud.
Just as they are going to leave the treeline a procession of humans chanting enters from the far side. A man with a black iron staff leads the procession. A dark red flame flickers just above the tip of the stave. The four humans behind him are chanting in time with the two in front holding large scrolls being read by the pair in back. A sixth man has stripped to the waist, revealing extensive tattoos, and carrying a dagger.
Thorne rushes out and tries to walk the elf, but he doesn’t rouse. Instead he scoops him up and carries him inside the temple. Keribrar follows Thorne into the temple and bars the door. With the procession unawares Hafwyn climbs atop the roof and takes aim. Quilate takes a quick flap and lands near her. Anne sneaks around to the far side and tries to read the scrolls, but nothing is written on them. When Anne gets too close the fire on the iron staff turns black and the procession “wakes up” and rushes towards the temple.
Quilate staggers back as the weight of something enormous wraps itself around his chest. He feels a barbaric need to destroy the procession – or at least something in the procession. Hafwyn fires two arrows at the lead priest, but he shatters both of them with his staff. The two men holding the scrolls charge forward and begin trying to tear down the Temple of Techiuan with their fists. The two chanters merge together into a misshaped monster.
Quilate drops from the temple’s room and appears to kill the shirtless man, but the form shifts into that of Duerte’s Chief Steward/Vampire and he is very much alive. The amalgam creature drives both Quilate and Anne back from the Chief Steward, but cannot land a deadly blow on either of them. The vampire calls upon his dark magic, but each time Hafwyn interferes. It may look a stalemate, but the battle has already been won.
Inside the temple Thorne and Keribrar revert to their abstract shapes. They see a flame being doused by a crone. Ice drops from her fingers as she plunges them into the flame. Thorne tries to pull the woman’s hands from the flames while Keribrar strengthens it. Cracks appear in the door as the two chanters outside redouble their effort to break down the door. Thorne gets hit hard and crumples to the ground, but it gives an opening to Keribrar who finally lands a solid blow and kills the witch.
The pounding on the door stops as Anne and Hafwyn finish off the last of the chanters. Quilate has chased after a fleeing vampire. Anne lashes a cage around the creature pining in enough that Quilate kills it.
They recognize that they have always been in the Caves of Chaos and that the strange creature is Aegrin. For the time being Aegrin is sane, but as more spirits return to his realm his mind is shifting. He tells them that his essence is fading and he will no longer be able to maintain X’toltn’s prison. Only a fraction of his power escaped, should it all escape the land will be damned. The spell of forgetfulness is fading and so cults dedicated to the dark vampire will begin growing.
Aegrin cannot hold his spirit in this world much longer. The river has become choked and poisoned and the shattering of the Cup Everflowing has destroyed his last anchor to this world. His spirit will leave soon and with his passing X’toltn is freed forever. The reforging of the cup has strengthened the faithful, but they are far too small in number to awaken Techiuan. Quilate asks after any artifacts he may have had they could use. He tells them that he once had a silver bracer given to him by Ellowyn. It looks exactly like the burnished silver one that Hafwyn received as a gift from Mardac. He lost it when he fell in battle.
Even now more spirits are drawn to Aegrin’s begin to gather in the area. The caves are being flooded in abstract shapes, each one pulling the elf’s spirit in a different direction. The pure fire of his spirit is torn into dozens of different shapes and an abstract monster formed. This time their bond is strong enough to hold them mostly in shape and they leave the caves of their own will.
Words of Techiuan
As they leave the Caves of Chaos they step into the real world only a few seconds after they left. Anne is fully on the blessed land of Techiuan, while Quilate is standing over a crack in the stone of the city. There is a pile a ash around the crack and motes of light rise into the sky. Feeling himself closer to something primal within him. He feels the flow of the air and begins a series of practice strikes he has been working on to better work with his body.
The others speak with Father Karl and Seirian about their experiences. He was homeless and sleeping on the streets outside the temple when he received a vision from Techiuan to seek out his words. Father Karl remembers seeking for something deep in the caves and Seirian guided him. He cannot remember anything else except holding two scrolls and standing inside the Temple of Techiuan, which nobody had been able to get inside.
He has brought copies of some of the scrolls to his tent here for further study. It is clear to him that he was basing his first understanding on missing knowledge. Keribrar recognizes them as elven, but some unknown dialect. Hafwyn recognizes them as the original writings of the True Elves. She doubts there is anyone in this area, besides herself, that could understand the writing. The fact that Father Karl has learned anything from it is disturbing.
Body of Techiuan
Keribrar is interested in the scrolls and convinces everyone to go with him to look at them. Hafwyn notices the dark looks coming from some people as they walk through the city. There is a uneasy vibe to the city that is different from when she first arrived. When they reach the temple there is richly dressed elven woman waiting. Her name is Alavera and she is an Annointed of Ellowyn who came here to collect the bounty on Dark Elves.
After a very brief exchange of words both Hafwyn leaves before she killed the woman. Alavera warns them not to trust the a dark elf. She will turn on them as she has turned on everything else in her life. She has clutched the darkness to her breast and sups with it each morning. Anne comes to Hafwyn’s defense and inadvertently gives Alavera Hafwyn’s name.
Father Karl takes Keribrar into the temple and shows him the scrolls along with the copies they made and his translations. Keribrar sees that he has translated only a small portion of the scrolls. The followers have made artistic copies of some of them, but others are too fragile to touch. The scriptorium in the temple is cramped and the scrolls not ordered. The tablets have been placed inside the alter, which is serving as a reliquary.
Earth of Techiuan
At the community Thorne is following Seirian around as she speaks to the faithful. She spends several minutes speaking with Benevenuta and Thorne notices that she is becoming more human. When he steps forward to speak with the two of them Seirian immediately becomes fae again. He worries that this is what happens when one spends too much time among the mortals and if it could happen to him. The humans are interesting, but this is not something he wants to happen to her or him.
He questions her about what she remembers. Her memory is full of holes so bad that occasionally she cannot even remember what she told Thorne only moments before. The closer she gets to the faithful the more she remembers, but the more disjointed her words. She even begins to shift between languages in the middle of speaking, which makes listening to her impossible. Nobody else even seems to notice and speak with her normally.
Father Karl and Keribrar return and Seirian almost immediately becomes fae again – not a trace of mortality about her. Quilate has an idea and puts Seirian and Father Karl’s hands together. Their hands immediately become hot to the touch as steam rises and blood drips from them. They both speak in the same voice and cadence, their heads turn to look at the same thing. They even begin to take on a similar appearance.
Enemies of Techiuan
When questioned they respond in Lycene, the root language of the Theodovans and ancient language of the Sorcerers Kingdom. “I am Adaomache, First among the Circle, Peer without Peer, Equal without Equal. It seeks a voice in the world. Rebuild the Circle, Reforge the Shadow Walkers.” X’toltn has been his powerful ally. Adaomache thanks Keribrar for freeing X’toltn and will kill him last.
Not without their own tricks Thorne and Quilate trick Adaomache into telling them what they can do to help him. He believes they support him and tell him to rid this world of elven silver. Silver forged by human hands should be gathered up and prepared, but all elven silver must be melted in a stone crucible.
The smoke form the joined hands of Father Karl and Seirian bursts into flames. Thorne tries to douse it, but Quilate manages to do it by grabbing the Cup Everflowing and pouring its holy water over them both. The followers look aghast at what he is doing, but are too stunned to act. With the fire doused Anne pulls their hands apart.
For a brief instant her mind bridges the gulf between their missing memories. A vast space of absolute darkness, the kind that drives people mad. The bond between Quilate, Keribrar, Hafwyn, Thorne, and herself is broken. Each of them forget who the others are – even if they are friend or foe. The time is not long, but the feeling immense. They key they believe is under the city – to the ruins Father Karl and Seirian visited.
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