Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement. The remnants of the blood moon of a week before tinting the lunar body’s face. Magnus knees down over the crimson splatter and the necrotic dagger. Brant looks around the alley for clues regarding where Orryon has gone. The body missing and the blood in one place; not trailing away. The spy finds nothing, other than a pool of blood. 428 is confused by the lack of a body, explaining that he has killed many greyborn, and seen allies die, and there is always a body left behind. Magnus collects himself and his own feelings. The body missing, and having seeing Orryon jump he expresses a rage inside, but quells it. He obtains a vial of the elf’s blood, his motivation and reasoning unknown. Despite having previously been dismissed, Sisero is still around, perched on a metal street lantern. Magnus tries to dismiss the familiar again, but the bird only flits out of being, and reappears on another lantern stand. He then looks through the bird’s eyes, connecting his mind with his fmailiars, but sees only blurry images. With no body to collect and prepare for burial, or to revive, the dwarf in the alley head upstairs to await the return of Journ’ee and Granuaile, leaving Brant and 428 to continue their befuddlement over Orryon’s sudden disappearance.
Across town, Journ’ee and Granuaile leave the parliament district and on their way back to Vanquiz Imperial stumble across the captive from the Leaky Bible in a small family run twenty four hour ice cream parlor; Jen and Berry’s. At the ice cream parlour the dwarf and half-orc convince the other patrons that the captive is on a stag do, and this is why he is acting oddly and is tied up. The ruse goes down without a hitch and the pair are about to support bringing the captive back to the hotel. Journ’ee claims the unbreakable string as his own, and is upset that it has been slightly damaged. Not broken, but twisted. As the three are travelling back to the hotel they bump into 428 and Brant outside the Vanquiz Imperial. When Brant and 428 are still in the middle distance, Journ’ee cautions Granauile about 428, and tells her that the giantkin’s allegiance may not be what it seems. The fiery dwarf warns that after seeing his reactions to the shadow, he seemed to be fuelled by it rather than just fighting against the darkness; their conversation lasting long enough to close the distance between the two groups. Brant tries to explain to his allies what has happened, with what little knowledge he has about events. Unable to give sufficient answers, Brant mentions that Magnus was at the hotel, and saw the evens, and so Granuaile suggests that the rest of the group join him upstairs to talk and try to get to the bottom of this.
Magnus is going over the chalk etchings in the room, and trying to make sense of the night’s strange turn of events when the rest of the party arrive. He suggests Granuaile call forth her spiritual jackal, but when Granuaile tries to pull on that thread the spirit guardian is not forthcoming, and seems to not only not appear, but to actively resist the half-orc summoning it. Magnus then shares that he believes something odd is happening with the Anduwin. He explains he say a flash of a jackal himself just before Orryon’s body disappeared and that he suspects Paz may have taken the elf. Whilst the party try to make sense of things, 428 takes out the book Orryon gave him and begins to draw, keeping the art hidden and closing the book when he is done, before he leave the room, and goes to clean himself after the battle with Maggy. Not wanting to break another bath, he elects to have a shower. Journ’ee questions the other dwarf about where he was when Orryon fell, and why he was unable to stop the elf from this course of action, but Magnus puts up a mental wall, and blocks out Journ’ee’s accusative enquiries. Brant collects a small wooden wash basin for himself and begins to clean the blood off his face and outfit. Some his, some the orc’s, some a friends. Whilst he is cleaning, Granuaile comes to him, taking a cloth herself to clean. They wash themselves in silence for a time, before she starts to speak. She asks how Brant is managing, as Orryon is the second of the party to die since they left Majorai. Brant stays quiet, but eventually tells that he is struggling with carrying so many losses on his conscience. He tells Granuaile that Paz is not the only Anduwin behaving strangely, and that he is sure he saw an owl appear after Rhogar died. The bard cannot explain why he wasn’t forthcoming previoiusly with this information, and learning that Brant had kept a secret like this, Granauile begins to suspect Brant’s involvement in Rhogar’s death. Defensively, Brant turns his hurtful words outwards and questions Magnus’ loyalty, as the dwarf went off to the Lighthouse with Orryon without telling the party, or seeing if this was helpful in finding the Anduwin artefacts. Magnus bites the bait and rises to the challenge, telling Brant that he was seeking out additional reasources and believes that the Lighthouse, being an Anduwin structure may hold some clues as to some item’s locations. Granuaile calls for unity from the party memebers in this trying time, and manages to slightly ease the heightened emotions that are bubbling through the suite. Magnus demands to see the Prime Minister, as he believes there is more information that must be shared. He asks Granauile to facilitate this as a Lady of Mountainsfoot, and expects she can arrange a meeting, having seen her with Hugótaire on the island, earlier that same day, from his perspective at least.
Granuaile again calms emotions as much as she is able, telling Magnus that this will be arranged, but that she and Journ’ee had just come from the parliament and the Prime Minister was not there. She will arrange to see him as soon as possible. Still seeking something to do, to take his mind of the loss of two dear friends, Magnus suggests the party deal with their prisoner. They question him, humanely and learn that he doesn’t know very much at all about the Bellépónt s, as the hire soliders of fortune from many different mercenary companies. He does tell them that the stones being mined by the children were being brought to them from quarries in the south.
As the clock reaches nearly three in the morning, Magnus looks over what the party found in the catacoumbs beneath the Leaky Bible. The crystals and stones, as well as the evidence of weaponary. He confirms it is linked to the Máurdorne weapons, but is a smaller and cruder, less refined version. With the party having no more questions, Granuaile summon’s the concierge, who apparently does not need to sleep. She asks Manuel to take away their prision, and hand him over to the town guards, and report this to the Prime Minster’s office. The rest of the party begin to settle down for a rest after a harrowing day, but the half-orc wants to freshen up more after being inside the slime monster, and when she goes into the bathroom, she sees the giantkin has changed even more. His nearly nude form still grey in appearance, with bony protrucions, but now he also seems to have grown gills on his neck, and slight webbing between his toes. Whilst she is surprised by this, it is far from the strangest thing she has experienced today, and so eventually she too gives in to sleep.
Morning calls with Sisero chirping to the light of the sun. The party is awakened by a delivery, brought to the suite by a bellhop, rather than Manuel himself. It is address to Magnus Marche, and when opened, it a new hat, in grey and white colours, with a single white feather in the brim. Reviewing the sender’s detaisl it appears to be from Omecry. The dwarf casts this aside and refuses the new hat. Instead Journ’ee picks it up, and hands it to Magda who wears it proudly. Granuaile asks the bellhop to arrange transport for the group to the parliament district, whilst they take in an quiet breakfast each. Magnus breaks the silence and tells the party that they should be weary, as Ron Wyn, a Templar, is keeping a close eye on the group, including confiscating items of the Anduwin that the Templars believe should not be in the party’s possession. Quiet takes the suite once more, until Manuel comes and informs the lady that her carriage has arrived. The transport is an elaborate and elegant carriage, decorated with gilding, depicting Anduwin and arcane runes and sigils. The vehicle is drawn by eight identical grey mares, each with its pale mane braided into a cascade, like fishing nets into the ocean. At the top of the carriage sits a halfling coachman and driver who bows deeply when Granuaile steps aboard. Magnus, Journ’ee 428 and Granuaile take seats within the carriage and Brant chooses to sit ontop, tiwh the driver. Both halflings hold on, as the eight horses trot forward away form the Vanquiz Imperial, and when they reach the main road from east to west, crossing the city towards parliament, the horses gallop. The carriage seems to stay perfectly still, as the runes flare preventing the coach from bouncing on the cobbles and keeping those within in pristeen comfort. Outside, the driver seems used to this means of travel, but Brant nearly falls off by the suddent change in speed over the sometimes uneven ground.
The carriage is waved through the gates to parliament by familiar guards who have come to recognise Granuaile and Journ’ee from their numerous visits, until it comes to stop outside the main building. The party is led down into the building into a circular brick chamber that appears somewhat like a bunker in its design. The group settles and waits until Hugótaire Strathholme arrives. The rest of the party is introduced to before the recent events are recounted. Granuaile and Magnus fill in gaps about what happened since the Prime Minister teleported to the island, as well as Brant speaking about what was found beneath the Leaky Bible. 428 remains quiet at this, but Journ’ee is keen to speak of his own part in the events, hoping to carry favour and reduce the risk of him having to enter this magikal fight to the death. Magnus also mentions that several items of the party’s have been confiscated by the Templar Order, which the Prime Minister is furious about, commenting that there are agreements in place. Magnus also explains what took place at the Lighthouse, not leaving out the part where Octavius appear to try to kill both Magnus and Orryon. Hugótaire vanishes before he apparates a few minutes later windswept on the other side of the bunker room. He then confirms Magnus’ story and that he had just visited the island, and that people there are now all dead, with the fire of the Lighthouse still burning. Hugótaire wants to know what the creature on the island was and what it wanted from the elf and dwarf. Magnus is unsure what it wanted from Orryon, but does show the owl seal to the Prime Minster, and tells him that both Octavius and his pet seemed to be interested in this item. An eerie breeze chills the room, accenting the Prime Minister’s next words. Parliament wants the group exiled from Quince immediately, due to the events that have taken place around them, and since their arrival. Seeking favour and a way to stay, the party tells the Prime Minister that, with respect, they cannot leave, as they were sent here by the Sultan of Derimyre, and in telling this, let slip that the Sultan is actually a dragon. The Prime Minister wants to know the colour of his scales, which are confirmed to be bronze, with a small area that is greying, possibly due to age. It is said that dragons are thought to be linked to Anduwin, and that in the time when the gods walks the world, Anduwin would ride the drakes as steeds, a tradition that began with Marr and led to his selection of the grey drake line. Quiet once more as this information sinks in. Hugótaire believes that the party has brought a dark object into his chamber, he pushes the issue when no one is able to produce the item that he senses has an unspeakable magikal mark. Not wanting to push away further allies, Magnus does then reveal he picked up the dagger from the place where Orryon fell, and hands this over to the Prime Minister indicating that the party and the world governments should be allies against the common enemy. In hearing this the Prime Minister tells the group that he will call for support from parliament and aid the other nations, as well as promising the party a better reward for their work in revealing such menacing threats within Quince’s secure walls.
The party leave parliament, and with nothing elsee planned, they head to the arena for Journ’ee’s trial by combat, as wellas Granuaile wanting to compete. Brant heads up to the VIP section leaving the fiery dwarf alone. Journ’ee winds up the caller before he is told again that he must fight to the death. He takes up a battle axe from a weapon rack, breathing deeply as he tries to calm himself before the moment that will decide his fate. The rest of the group settles into seats in the stands. Magnus purchases sweets for the giantkin, whilst Granuaile leaves them to register her intent to participate. Upstairs, Brant is told that he needs a ticket to gain entry into the VIP section, but manages to convince the security staff that he is with the press, using his reporter’s name of Jeremiah Tabernacle, of Artful and Tastey. The guard lets the spy past, convinced by Brant’s performance as a reporter, and so the halfling sets out to find Marty Shaw Jr. Brant finds his target in a private booth within the VIP area, but after an unconventional interview he is kicked out of the booth. On his way out, he spots the reason he came here. A rare red eyed pearl. Brant wobbles his foot in a performance fall, and trips himself, tumbling and in his roll he swiftly pockets one of the pearls with slight of hand that would put the greatest entertainers to shame. Though he has been cast out of the booth, he continues to moves around the VIP section. While in the crowd 428 asks Magnus about Orryon and bronze dragons, having only seen greyborn, and the Sultan. He is unsure that there would be other dragons. He seems to be interested in what the Prime Minister was asking, and trying to learn about the nature of dragons, whether they are good or evil, comparing what he has recently learnt from Brant about the light and the dark in the world. 428 recounts the dream he had about a dragon and its scales losing colour, becoming grey. He also tells Magnus about the part of his dream were he saw the party all dead. He cannot find the words to explain himself well, so allows the wizard to review his book, and the crude images he has drawn therein.
Journ’ee’s name is called and he enters the arena to fight his trial. His opponent enters the ring opposite him. The man he stole from, and the powerful university mage, Billique. Journ’ee moves first, and breaks the cat statue open, conjuring a feline, at the same time as he brings Magda into the fight. He hands her something, and commands her to charge Billique. She rushes in, and the mage defends himself, with a simple spell to take out Magda. As she is just about near enough, the spells strike her, and she dies, falling to the ground in a burst of flame. However, the flame then explodes upwards, knocking Billique to the ground, and rupturing the arena walls. Journ’ee’s mouth twitches into a cocky smile, as he knows the Anduwin crystals he gave his familiar have detonated. Magnus is disinterested while the walls of the arena crumble around him as 428 dives himself and the dwarf out of harms way. Billique turns, still prone to the ground, but starts to get up, pushing on the dirt with one hand, whilst the other gestures at the flames still burning where Magda had stood. The flames come to life, burning into a faint humanoid shape. Its form fiery and without legs. It moves, gliding across the dry earth, igniting anything in its wake, turning the world around it into smoke, ash and cinders. Its “face” set on Journ’ee as it’s embers eat their way forward, consuming more fuel for their flames. Journ’ee considers himself a master of flames and so tries to push his will onto the fire elemental, and uses his own magik to control the direction of its flames. However this fails as the fires creep ever more slowly forward, consuming the conjured feline. As the elemental advances, Billique stands, and throws more fire into the mix, catching the Skalt flag Journ’ee wears, and setting it ablaize, at the moment the elemental reaches him and unleashes a barrage of powerful and raw burning slams. Journ’ee falls under the relentless slams from the elemental, and loses consciousness. As he does so, some of his own fiery spark ignites and the dwarf rises like a phoenix from the ashes, erupting outwards in a blaze of glory, pushing the elemental backwards. The elemental may have been pushed backwards, but it is far from beaten, and so slams the dwarf again, this time, making sure he says down.
The crowd go wild for the display, seeing so much fiery destruction, and both fighters knocked don, but able to rise and fight again, to a greater or lesser degree, and while the cheer, the unconscious body of Journ’ee is carried away to the medical tents. The stretcher passes a female half-orc who has foundherself in a nce weapons area. Though Granuaile does not loan a weapon, she can appreciate the craftsmanship. There are others in the weapons cache, looking to be fighters with some magik, or warriors well verses in combat spells, as well as battle mages, and even elven blade singers preparing their voices for their unique sword song which weaves magik into melee seamlessly. Magnus takes 428 to watch Granuaile compete, knowing that a fight will hekp settle the giantkin’s mind, and distract him from thoughts of nightmares and loss. Magnus also places a bet for Granuaile to win, at 11-1 odds having seen the warrior when she is at her best. Brant continues his tumble through the VIP area, and turns it into a full blown performance where he prat falls, and acts out various forms of entertainment for the richer guests of the arena, earning a fair some as he does so. 428 pushes to front of crowd as several pillars of fire shoot up from the arena, encircling the battle grounds. Granuaile conjures power from the Anduwin stone she now carries, and imbues herself with frozen magik to combat the flames. A colossal fight begins behind the flames, as the air gets darker. There are flashes of colour that spectators can make out. Purple portals, and bursts of green arcane blurs. Swords clink against armour, and warhammers thud into the earth, before both sounds are reverses and the sword cuts dirty, missing its target, and the hammer crunches bones. The fire pillars die, and Granuaile is seen bruised but standing over a fallen mage. She is awarded a circlet for her victory, and offered ebtry into the next round of fights. She is joined to a team of other warriors who had been successful and told that they fight is in two days, but the other combatants are returning to the arena tomorrow to train together. She agrees to join this arena team for their training in the morning before she finds her allies. 428 and Magnus find Brant tumbling in the corridor, having earned enough coin during the matches, before they meet up with Granuaile. They are all in agreemet to meet with Journ’ee after he has been healed, and that the best use of their time would be to visit the Templar’s stronghold in the city. 428 does not want to do this, and so he heads abck to the hotel, and Brant says he has a few more leads to follow up on, and so takes the carriage to the Grand Library of Kaine. Magnus and Granuaile set out for the Templar base, leaving Journ’ee to rest of his wounds. Eventually the dwarf wakes and finds none of his allies around him. Instead he decides to pay a visit to his brother, who apparently lives in Quince. There he helps clean his brother’s home from the fire damage that still hangs present over much of the city.
The stronghold of the Templars is a large bastion. A fortress like building where agents of the Anduwin train and monitor zealotus activity. Magnus and Granuaile ask to see the commander or bastion leader. Magnus is apparently known to them, as the Templar’s permit entry into the stronghold. The pair are lead through the castle structure and notice there are a large number of people in scholarly robes within. At a desk, Magnus asks to speak with the Templar Ron Wyn, and is then lead, with Granuaile down a corridor, deeper into the fortress, until they come to an ornate wooden door, open ajar to a well lit room. Ron stands at the fireplace and remarks that he has been reading about the party, doing his homework about the people who brought so much destruction to Quince. Magnus retorts that they knew nothing of Bellépónt before coming to the city, and are here on their own mission. The dwarf requests the confiscated items be returned so that the party can continue with that mission. Ron is unwilling to return them, and so Magnus lies, telling the Templar that he works as Granuaile’s advisor. Ron acquises to the half-orcs’s status, learning she is a Lady of Mountainsfoot. However, he is still unwilling to return the items, commenting that he will need to check with more senior Templars. Ron explains that he is guided by The Light, and has been fighting the growing darkness in the world. He seems devout in his mission that Templars have a duty to corrupt the corruption in the world, and extinguish its infectious call. Magnus is sceptical but does recount the events at the Lighthouse, giving special mention to the changes in Octavius and the shadow beings that attacked.
428 is testing the sensitivity of his new gills when he hears someone coming into the suite. He hides as best he is able knowing that his giantkin form is likely to be spotted. However, from his hiding place, he watches unseen as a number of knights in Templar uniforms enter the suit and begin to search the rooms; tossing pillows and papers, clearly looking for something in particular. 428 sneaks from one hidden place to another, on the balcony, behind a curtain as the Tempalrs sack more of the suite. The room is turned out, and the safe smashed open. Though it had remained empty throughout the party’s stay. Eventually, the knights leave, and 428 maintains his stealth as he follows.
Brant Goldust’s carriage arrives at the Grand Library of Kaine, and finds he has trouble getting permission to enter. He is told that he should be able to use the common library, but the bard is not satisfied with this answer. Reluctantly, he gives Magnus’ name and is then permitted to enter, based on the task that the biship had set for the dwarf.
Whilst they wait for word form Ron’s superiors, Magnus asks how he could join the Templar Order, but is told he would be best to visit the Peaks of the Anduwin in person if he is serious about pursuing this path. With his request partially answered, and the pair not getting anywhere with the return of their items, both Magnus and Granuaile make to leave but their exit is barred. They are stopped from leaving and are arrested by the Templars for the damage they have done, and for trafficking in Anduwin devices and items. The pair is detained at the bastion whilst a warrant has been issued for the others of the party.