So this time on the Anduwin Chronicles…

Siala searches for Orryon for healing. She finds him in the kitchen, learning of the catering staff’s plight, whilst Orryon listens, he works over the elven archer’s wounds. Abraxos goes to his own room, and asks his ambassadorial staff to support and tends to his wounds. The samurai speaks to his staff and advisors about Vandrex and the Source Magik, as well as the goal of trying to get he Greyborn name out into the world, to improve their standing and social perceptions. His staff put him through to magikally speak to the Empress, Venraka, his mother, who advises him to keep an eye out for Harn Greymane, the leader of the Unhorned clans, and hopes to bring them back into the Greyborn society in full. She is anxious to try and rebuild a relationship with him and his Unhorned Clan. She tells him that Vandrex shouldn’t be trusted, as he has been around a long time, as there are records of Viscaronn the First having dealings with Vandrex. It is not know in Greyborn records that he is Dawnikan, but this may explain his longevity. The Empress urges her son to stick to his primary mission, of spreading word of the Greyborn people no let being a threat, and trying to promote peace in this new world order. Abraxos asks if anyone has heard of the Shale people, and learns that The Dawnikans shouldn’t be trusted, and that the Shale Worlds are under Dawnikan control, but not their rule. Venraka warns Abraxos of trouble stirring with the iron fist clan in the Grey Empire. 

Brant heads upstairs, and makes himself more presentable, before he returns to the banquet room, and makes himself visible ready for his speech, while smoosing. Whilst doing this, Lady Stormway thanks Brant for looking into the assassination plot that Brant and his allies uncovered. The rest of the guests are stood around, looking very nervous, expectant of a very important guest speaker. Whilst Brant continues to talk with other guests about sentient and moral rights, the rest of the party make their way into the entrance foyer, gathering before they need to venture to the coliseum for tonight’s Conference. Orryon in a full blue robe with Asian collar, and Granuaile in fine gown. Everyone is dressed in fresh finery, and looking resplendent, after their adventures below the hotel.  An individual approaches Brant, and taps him on the shoulder. A dwarf with grey hair, bushy beard and a large rifle slung over his shoulder. Gundram Blake stands before Brant, the familiar face asking how Brant is doing, and how Abraxos is. Gundram and his party are running low on contracts and duties. Gundram says he may have work for Abraxos, but they are currently here, employed to protect some dignitaries, though they are unsure who currently. Gundram and his men are staying at the Guide Hall near the hotel. 

People gradually move side, and their nervousness is palpable. Many people murmur that “they’re late”, and whispers of people asking “how’re they even getting here? They don’t exactly use horses”

Outside in the coliseum, people are looking skyward, expectant of the arrival of the Netherises delegation. A shooting star crosses the sky, and steers towards the gathered people. The star is a small blue ball of light, which flies into the central area. Not getting any larger as it gets closer. Hotel doors are opened and Pliskin is called out to be present. The orb lands in a fashion. It hovers around a meter off the ground. 

“Positions everyone!” On guard shouts. 

Pliskin and many others hurriedly trying to smooth down their outfits, and hair, to improve their appearance as much as able. The orb stretches out, cylindrical now, and the top sinking to join the bottom, an orb once more, but now on the ground. The blue light it emits slowly pulses and then fully fades. Lights gone out. Those gathered left confused by this for a moment too long. A low resonance thrums once, and then stops. As a figure is suddenly revealed exactly where the not vanished orb once was. This figure half long white hair, pale blue skin, and feminine features, though that could be the species natural beauty. It is hard in fact to tell Male or female, though most present begin to assume gender. The figure is wear a long robe, or gown, or dress. It waves side to side, and reflects the light as it flows. The outfit appearing to be made of crystal. They step forward, wordlessly, hands clasped. Their movements are beyond graceful; effortless. They look around, as white pupil-less eyes take in the sights of the gathered dignitaries. The white hair long and cape like giving a visage of elegance, as long white eyebrows grow beyond their face, and trail off, almost whisker-like. Standing out boldly against their pale blue face. 

As they move gracefully, and slowly forward, Pliskin is first to approach them, stopping around two meters away from them. He bows before them and gestures for the others present to also do so. A rapid ripple of bows fans out from Pliskin, until all present have taken a knee before the blue skinned figure. They move forward and place a pale hand on Pliskin’s shoulder, lifting the hand and the man in one motion. The pebble of fate and respect ripples outwards from the figure and Pliskin once more, as people also began to rise from their bows. 

“It is, an Honour for you to be here” Pliskin says, taking their hand from his shoulder, and holding it in his own. The Netheran figure nods, and people before them begin to clear away, creating a pathway for Pliskin and his guest to move through. The figure steps through the door from which Pliskin had previously left the hotel, followed by the leader of the Free Republics. Once the door is closed, the crowd lets out a collective breath that people didn’t know they were holding. 

“That went well,” comments Lady Stormway, almost to herself, then addressing everyone else continues, “That went well. Thank you everyone. Those of you who are attending the conference event, I suggest you made your way there. Our esteemed guest will be there shortly.”

Brant asks who the honoured guest is, but is told that they do not have names, as they find the concept difficult to grasp. Brant feels it would be rude to not find out the name of such an important guest, but then learns that although they may not have a name, they are a representative of the Exalted. Lady Stormway suggests this is a rarity, as the Free Republic haven’t been visited by The Exalted in nearly 200 years. From the gathered party, only Siala has knowledge of the Netheran, and that the Exalted is the name or title given to the leader of these people. Siala shares her insight with her gathered new allies. 

“Fancy running into you here” Cato addresses lady Granuaile.

“Not that unusualy, as this is the main event” she replies.

“Ah yes, well. I mean, seeing that lady whoever…”

“Sarah” interrupts Granuaile, “Sarah Sarahason”

“That does not sound correct” Orryon offers.

“No, it is a joke, to amuse and pass the time” the half-orc suggests. 

“Ah, very good. Well, I hope you don’t mind if i join you for the conference” asks Cato, “The Ministerium is very impressive, about what you have all done”

At the same time Granuaile and Orryon respond. 

“You’re talking about me?” comes the half-orc’s words, whilst “The Ministerium is impressive, you’re boasting about the Ministerium?” is the healer’s reply. 

Ignoring the healer, and addressing Lady Granuaile’s concerns, Cato continues that “Everything must be reported through the Ministerium”

“May be next time, ask my permission” she responds curtly. 

“Ah, well, yes. Of course, for someone of your renowned they will make exceptions.”

Seeing Cato fold easily from Granuaile’s pressure, Abraxos’s keen eye is able to see that Cato is not as high up in the Ministerium as he is suggesting to the others. Reading his body language, and the way the blue mage holds himself, compared with Lady Granuaile, Brant Goldust, the Hero of Vespard, and Ambassador Abraxos of the Grey Empire, the samurai quickly discerns that Cato is not used to being in this type of company, and is perhaps more of a lack within the scholarly Ministerium. 

As they arrive at the coliseum, Brant is joined by Timothy Cooke, his agent.

“Oh my gods, where have you been?” Timothy asks campy, “We have been waiting ages. We still need to get you into hair and make up” Then patting Brant’s abdomen playfully, and as a disappointed parents, “What have you been eating? We don’t want you figure to change, we discussed that in the ratings” The agent begins to fuss around the bard, fixing his outfit as best he can. “Is that rubble?” he chides.

Brant pushes Timothy off him, “Stop it! And I have not been eating too much. I’ve been eating the right amount”

“Brant, we spoke about this at length, potato belly equals no followers”

“How dare… I mean… I’m now where near middled aged yet! Do you even understand how halflings work?”

“I understand how difficult it is to manage you, as you always seem to run away. But alas it is my job to manage you, so please come on. We will have to made do. You’ve left me no time to do your voice checks”

“You do realise I am a world renowned speaker…?”

“And even they need to do a vocal warm up. Now, with me” and he starts leading Brant through a series of short warm ups, ending with “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba Brant, Ee Ee Ee Ee Ee Ee Iiiis, Alright” climbing the musical scale with each note until the final word falls sharp and without any enthusiasm from Timothy. 

The agent begins to lead the bard away, but just before hand, Orryon approach Brant and pats him on his shoulder, wishing him luck, and passing a small mote of magic into the bard. A faint symbol of A’Dal appearing briefly on Brant’s forehead, before he is lead further away by Timothy and out of sight to prepare for his speech. 

The ambassador and Lady Granuaile are lead to their own boxes, next to each other. The dividing wall is pulled down, and both Cato and Siala are invited in to the Greyborn box. Cato is unsure, but overhearing the staff of a nearby box waiting for Osiris the Decadent to arrive, the mage considers an opportunity for a box of his own. The guards and staff appear to not know what Osiris looks like. The mage knows that Osiris made his money selling water to deserts, and is now a very well known and wealthy businessman. Cato considers impersonating this figure, he scruffs his hair and introduces himself as Osiris. The staff are pleased with this, and tell him his wife is waiting inside. Cato panics upon learning this, and predicting his disguise will fail in front of the wife, fleeing, deciding to join Abraxos, as he sheepishly hides himself. Orryon joins with the grey born box, with a need to speak with Abraxos. The healer takes out a notebook, and prepares to scribe notes from the conference for the Prime Minister. 

The collesium is grand in scale. Seating all throughout the grounds from the earth, and through two more levels beyond this. The rows upon rows of guests stand before a staged area at the front, whilst tired seating leans away from the stage area on the first level. The second level being where the guest boxes are built, furthers away, as they are furthest out from the centre of the circler building. There are large drifting translucent objects, almost cloth like in form. The float around the arena. There is some magik enabling sights to be seen through the cloth, as though projected from the main stage. From where Brant stands, backstage, he spots a number of magicians concentrating on the floating cloth screens, some lifting the cloth, others amplifying magik, and others enabling the projections themselves. Glancing around from back stage, Brant also sees a wealth of varied individuals present. The boxes and rows of seating begins to fill up with representatives form different countries – not just of Menosophia, but of other countries and nations of the Free Republics. The gathered people include familiar looking types of humanoid. Although, many more are unusual, and haven’t been seen on this world before.  There is a construct creature moving along, moving with barely any animation in its steps. Some people appear to be elemental in nature, born of water, earth, fire or air. Their skins giving clues as to their element. Some moving with solid earthen purpose, or gliding along an unseen breeze, their hair dancing in the wind. Others are more chaotic, bursting with energy from one person to another, as though burning their way through the crowd, and others still flow, gently, following the burn of motion, soothing and calming in their wake. There are many different groups and clans of elven folk. Dark elves, High elves, Sea elves and so on. Siala keeps her eyes open for sights of ancestral elves, the fey. Although she doesn’t see any specifically, she does notice the hallmarks of fey, and is reassured by this sights. Some people appear to not have any one specific people, but are a hybrid mixture of two distinct sets of lineage, such as centaurs, minotaurs and the like. 

Once the crowds gathered are settled, an no one else looks to be entering the building, a large braiser of fire erupts. Lighting the coliseum, and warming the crowds. Lady Stormway makes her way onto the stage and welcomes everyone whole heartedly and genuinely. She explains that the speakers will soon begin, and well as explaining that only certain members and individuals have voting rights currently, and so only those individuals and a select number of preselected questioners will be permitted to interact with the speakers. She urges she audience to show respect in these matters, int he company of such an esteemed and honoured guest. After her official business, she invites Pliskin onto the stage. The man stands and delivers a short speech, along the same lines as his earlier speech at dinner. He speaks about cultures coming together and how people should be respectful of one another, and newer cultures into the universe should adopt the cultures of the Free Republics, in order to grow as a universe, and show what each people can bring to the union. 

After these two speakers, the formal conference begins. Pliskin steps to the side, and allows business to begin. The parliament of the Free Republics takes off. Some individuals stand, in their seats or boxes and are illuminated in a pillar of soft yellow light. Once they light touches them, their voices boom throughout the arena, without the need to shout. Each of the crowd, including the party is shaken by this first speaking via the light, as a sort of feedback loop initially rings in their ears. However, a moment passes, and now the words of the speaker are translated magically into the native tongue of whoever hears it. Brant hears the words, not in Oskil, but in halfling, Siala hears elven, Granuaile hears in orcish, Cato in Narmu whilst Abraxos and Orryon both hear the words in a celestial language. The speakers faces are also magically shown, broadcast onto the floating translucent cloth pillars. 

The subject of the Dawnikans is the first to be spoken about. Many peopler not happy about the Non Aggressive alliance, as they feel this NAP is not working. Some popel thing the NAP is a good thing as it means that the Dawnikans are no longer actively attacking the free Republics. The debate goes on, until a representative from the planet Regulus speaks. He looks to be gaunt, weak, and barely able to hold himself up, even with his narrow cane. He speaks about being a solider on the front line, on Regulus. His world is almost continuously under attack by Dawnikan outliers. His home world is constantly under attack and assault from Dawnika. He shouts that the Non Aggressive Pact is not being respected on Regulus. One general is committing war crimes and killing children and civilians daily. This man urges the Free Republics to take action, as the NAP is clearly not working, and his people are not being protected as once he thought. He begs the Republic for help and aid against this specific general. 

Pliskin raise his hand to try to quell the debate, then tells, apologetically that his people have tried to speak to Dawnika about this, and the have not been able to successfully parle. Pliskin reminds that the Republic is luck not have a type of peace now and that although there may be some rogue members of their organisation whoa re not following the NAP, the Republics cannot push Dawnika for fear that their entire empire may take action and the NAP will totally collapse. 

There are speeches about the sharing of knowledge, and Anduwin Artefacts, as well as consideration of New Threats, and what was the purpose of Menosophia, with many people in the Free Republics wanting access to the planet, to study things. However, the Menosophian people are currently allowed to decide who is and is not allowed to visit their world. This is accepted in the Republics out of respect for Menosophia, who, as a people went missing from the wider universe for so long, and are in need of time to adjust. 

Eventually, a familiar face takes the stage, as Brant Goldust is welcomed to deliver his own address to the Conference. The halfling steps out, in immaculate attire. His image being broadcast over the floating clothes and his footsteps magically echoing throughout the arena. As he descends the steps from the backstage area to the dias where his speech is to be delivered from, his multitude of titles is read out, for all to hear. Earning a quiet murmur of intrigue and respect from those who have only heard the stories of this world famous spy. 

The bard speaks more about the history, particularly the recent history of the world. He speaks about sentient rights, and equality for all moral races. He speaks about what really went on in relation to the Greyborn War, and the Cataclysm of Nezhar. Brant steers his speech to reflect that the Greyborn people were mislead and used in the war. That their ships, the Orion and Andromeda were purposefully placing men women and children at risk. Housing civilians and slaves within the structures, to prevent other countries and races from outright destroying the vessels. He pauses for a while, asking those gathered to stay silent in his pause as they remember the innocent lives lost when the Orion was crashed into the Monolith in order to release the Seventh Anduwin from her bondage. The stadium is enthralled by his words, and even more so by the delicately chosen lack of words. Letting the emotions of the congress sweep through itself, and pull attention to the innocent people whom the congress all serve. The common folk without great magic or weapons skills. The silence comes to a close, and Brant speaks about the Greyborn people, and how the darkness of Nezhar effected them as much, if not more than other countries and people. He tells of how the Grey Empire is now making waves to re-earn the world’s trust. How grey born are trying to show that they have changed their ways and are willing to make amends. His speech summarises well with a feeling that Menosophia may be a new world to this wider universe, but its people are good, and those who were wronged, are trying to make things right on this world, and in the future, may be the Free Republics as well. Unsure if he has finished, or is accenting his words with silence, there is now thunderous applause. However, when the silence continues, a ripple of approval begins to spread through the people. Approval becoming clapping, becoming rapturous applause. The halfling takes a dramatic bow and makes his way, satisfied with his words and their impact, back stage once more. 

The next speaker is also from Menosophia. A man who has been instrumental in studying the fallen Edict shards, as well as restoring the planet’s Waygates; Professor Lexler. He is welcomed by applause, as all of the speakers have been. As he takes his position behind the dias, his visage is magikally amplified onto the clothes, allowing a few of the party to see a familiar face. Granuaile, Abraxos and Brant recognise this figure as the man Karl had worked with. Who had last been seen falling into a never ending pit, where the party first encountered Nezhar. The professor speaks at length of recent investigations and discoveries. He speaks about the trials and experiments, offering a brief moment of silence for those who have died in the trials, then adding his belief that this research is going well. He believes that the planet is now at a point where the Waygates can now reach worlds across the cosmos.

The final speaker of the evening is the Representative of the Exalted. They glide onto the stage. Their motions so elegant that many people chatter to themselves about whether they are walking, or floating. Their arrival is met with the longest and loudest, but also most respectful applause of the night. The clapping peters out, leaving the arena quiet. Taking position, not at the podium, but stopping in the centre of the stage they pause. Their mouth doesn’t move, but there is a sound. A singing, into everyone’s individual minds. Each person hearing something different. For everyone those, it is of a similar theme. A song from their childhood. It is beautiful and warming. The song is calming. Some people hear a limerick, whilst others hear nursery rhymes. Each head lifts tot he unheard sound. A feeling of wonderment, hope and beauty calling through the song. Then another layer. Wanting, intrigue and longing to understand more, and continue to feel this level of emotion. The song comes to a close, and the blue skinned individual begins to turn and slowly make their way off the stage. For a few members present, time seems to slow down, as the blue speaker leaves. The natural skill in noticing things of these people, their keen senses and perception spot something that flashes in an instant. Cato, Granuaile and Abraxos, either through self-preservation skills on a battlefield, or though noticing the smallest error in hand gestures of a spell, but all three spot something black flash onto the stage, for just an instant behind the Exalted Representative. A dark shadowy figure there one moment, and vanished the next. In the third moment, there is an eruption. A massive explosion that immolates half the crowd and the stage. Fire engulfs the entire stage. The figures standing closest to the stage are destroyed instantly. Those much further back aren’t burned but are knocked form standing, or off their seats. Half way back some figures mid applause are frozen in time. Burned to a solid carbon crisp. Forever clapping the Netherise speech, having no chance of even spotting, let along escaping the blast. Parts of the arena begin to collapse. Boxes nearest to the stage list inwards and begin to fall. Their inhabitants having survived the blast, but then falling the four stories down into the coiling inferno at the heart of the arena. Seeing them fall, those still stunned and looking see that this fire isn’t in fact fire. As people begin to flee in terror, crushing the exits, the fire burns the ground. It rises upwards, consuming arena and the dead as fuel allowing it to take a shape. The fire licks again, with each pass the beast within becoming more visible. A fiery serpent, burning with heat, and emitting a radiance from its embers scales. It rears upwards and hisses a breath of flame into the air. Opening its cobra hood as a blast of heat bursts forth, cleansing some of the nearer rows of seats and fleeing dignitaries. It sways its head side to side, its movements perfectly snake-like, even though its body is flame. Each breath it exhales more fire into the coliseum burning somewhere new. The Netheran at the explosion’s centre engulfed and nowhere to be seen.

Brant Goldust leaps from the explosion towards his changing room. The door comes off the hinges and falls onto of the halfling but it is this door that shields the bard form the burning fate of the audience. The instant immolation. Their bodies combust around him. As he takes stock of his surroundings, there is a ringing in his ears from he explosion itself, and pain down his body from the weight of the door. Brant tries to escape from under the door, but as he shifts, the head of his agent falls and breaks open on impact against the wood, preventing him from pushing the door off him. Unable to lift it, the bard shimmies out from the place he was pinned in, thinking that this must be the work of Vandrex, the Dawnikan with he plot to kill the blue figure. A rising panic rushes Brant’s head, as he thinks about his actions allowing Vandrex to escape earlier. Now free, the bard looks around. Those who were back stage, seem to have been shielded somewhat from the blast. He spots many speakers bloodied and bruising staggering around, including a rubble covered Pliskin, with half his face bloody, and his clothes burning. Taking stock of his fortune, his halfling luck having helped him to be the least injured so far. Realising this the bard gets to work in assisting other people to get to the exits, as they are more wounded that he is.

Seeing the burning threat, the first of the party to react is Siala, who stands, beginning to make her way towards an exit. She turns to Abraxos, knowing his position and deferring to him being in charge, in a way. He doesn’t answer, but does gesture to his staff to get people out of this newly emergred dangerous situation. The entourage begin to clear a way out, with the elven archer following. As she is leaving, Siala creates a minor illusion above her head of an arrow, pointing to the way out, hoping to point the way to safety for those who ahven’t left yet. Cato stands, and is overwhelmed and amazed by the fiery snake, seemingly enthralled by this type of magik. As he is watching it, not fleeing, the snake exhales it’s last puff of fiery breath, it burns and spells out the words “New Eden”, leaving the words hanging, burning in the air. His fascination at the magik doesn’t end at witnessing it, as he suspects the magik at work is conjuration rather than illusion, as the damage is happening, not just being made to look like this there. The snake has stopped its breathes, but now remains, burning with radiance, now coiling its fiery body through the coliseum. Its body moving in a calmer manner, whilst its head burns more aggressively. Orryon switches to his fountain pen to the sultan and scribbles “attack at the festival”, as a warning to the Sultan, before jumping from Abraxos’ box. On his way down, he holds out his hands, and magikally pushes against the earth to slow his fall, not wanting to repeat his previous leap. Landing softly amongst the fleeing crowd, in an attempt to help the civilians get out without being a crowd push. Abraxos, finishes his instructions to his guards to help people out, then follows the healer who jumped. He takes hold of the curtains and draperies, and belays down them to join Orryon. The tapestries are ablaze and as Abraxos lands, their remains fall into a collapsing pillar cinders. The civilians are a mess, and failing to escape, instead rushing every man for themselves into narrow exits. The kettle crush of this effect is actually working against their egress. The Healer’s eyes glow, as and people take notice of Orryon and Abraxos’ landing. The notice helps as they issue orders to make the exits structured. For reasons known only to a few, people begin to listen to Orryon and Abraxos, recognising authority and their experience of war. When one exit is organised and people are leaving safely, The pair move to the next exit. Shortly joined by the Ambassador’s personal guards, from the box level to aid evacuation there. Abraxos keeps his eyes pealed for any other threats to the fleeing crowd, glancing to the less active but still looming flaming cobra. The snake settles its movements, no longer animate, but remaining, as some sort of mark or message.

Granuaile evaluates the threat, and feels herself as powerless now. Her usual magik won’t help here. Unsettled but accepting with this, she tries to get out, and on her way spies a cloaked figure, with red gloves drawing the first of two red flaming swords, walking with purpose towards her. Around this figure the hallway is a mess of people rushing towards stairs and a way down and out, away form the Cobra and a fiery death. Cato tells Granuaile that Abraxos and Orryon have gone down to the basin, to assist the evacuation. Granuaile doesn’t need to think on this, knowing it sounds like each of the sometimes winged heroes. She then points out the red gloves individual as a threat to Cato and Siala. Pointing this figure out, Cato looks and sees him walking menacingly, with two flaming red blades. One in each hand. Five floating light crystals around his hooded head. As he lifts his head, all that is seen is a breathing apparatus and two deep yellow reptilian eyes. A dark screeching whisper scream comes from under the breathing device, calling out for his quarry; Osiris. When asked what he wants with the water merchant a single word makes it out of the breathing apparatus. “Death”. At this, one of the guards hired to protect Osiris rolls out of the damaged box, his face burnt. Seeing Cato, and believing this blue mage to be Osiris, he urges Cato to run, but in doing so, he has identified Cato as Osiris to this threatening figure, pointing clearly. The guard then runs, attempting to save himself.

Granuaile warns this figure against additional fighting as there has been enough death today. He doesn’t move, telling her to remove herself from his path, squeezing his grip on both blades, and causing their fires to pulse brighter and burn hotter. The half-orc conjures her shield and hammer to her hands. The enemy rushes at Granuaile, but as he get near enough to strike he vanishes, reappearing behind her, stabbing, then vanishing as she turns around to where he was. He reappears again behind her and stabs again. His appearance continues to shift side to side, half teleporting, or just shifting his combat stance. To reply to this Siala draws her bow, waits until he is facing away from her, and takes aim. When the moment comes she unleashes a hail of arrows into the foe. Four arrows are shot in rapid succession with three hitting, and of those three, two appear to cut into somewhere significant, critically injuring the reptile assailant. Cato imbues his words with magik and suggests that the foe get as far from here as he can, and help anyone on his travels. Invisibly his magik travels to the man, absorbed into one of the crystal encircling him. The spell rebounds and seems to daze the blue wizard for a moment. As though suggesting those actions to Cato himself. However, his mental prowess allows him to resist his own magik. He momentarily sees a female face with pale skin and black eyes in his mind, realising that he has somehow made a link to his own mind, briefly connected to whatever master this figure answers to. The spell itself is resisted but that doesn’t mean Cato is unaffected; a psychic headache begins to make it harder for him to thing about the specifics of his spellcraft. Granuaile grabs the breathing apparatus, and rips it from her foe. As she tears it free, a mangled face is revealed. Mangled grey scales and damaged jaw beneath where the mask was. She recoils in this instant, and tries to smash the mask back into his face. He drops the sword in one hand, which curves around and slots into a gap within his skin, no longer on fire. His now free hand reaches to Granuaile and grasps her hand, stopping her from completing her attack with his own mask. He then sinks a blade into Granuaile, connecting the pair in a gruesome grapple.

The elven archer breaks away to one side, and takes aim, holding an arrow knocked ready for a clear shot. Another barrage of arrows comes when she sees an opportunity, not wanting to strike Granuaile. One arrow connects at a place where the foe was struck before, with ichor gushing from it. The strong connects with his blade, as he swings it down to block the projectile. Cato hurries some arcane words and unleashes several bolts of pure arcane power, targeting the floating crystals around the lizard warrior. His missiles are not absorbed as his previous spell was, but instead orbit the crystal for a moment before the magik is refracted back out. His three darts refract into fifteen darts total. They reflect back, now targeting at the half-orc, the elf and the man. Both Cato and Granuaile cast their shield spells to absorb the arcane bolts, taking no damage from the amplified spell. The remaining bolts strike Siala who has no way to avoid the magik. The half-orc lifts her opponent straight up from the grapple she has held him in and slams him into the ground, with one of his blades still sunk into her abdomen. He looses the grip on his swords, but they fold themselves into gaps in his arms once more. The crystals continue to orbit the warrior, and unsure what to do, Granuaile grabs hold of one of the five reflecting crystals, and tries to smash it into the ground. There is a great amount of resistance when she pulls, but as she slams it, there is no crack or break at all. She seems to need to use her strength to keep the crystal separated from the other four. It seems to want to return to its place and its orbit.

Siala drops her bow and takes out one of the enchanted scimitars she found earlier that day, but is unable to use its effect to slow the lizard-like warrior. Although the magik doesn’t slow him, her blade does still cut through flesh, stabbing eloquently into the foe and spilling ichor onto the granite floor stones of the coliseum, whilst still grappled to the ground, she attempted to stamp her boot into his head, but he is still battling against Granuaile’s strength and manages to avoid her heel. Cato, is wary of casting more powerful spells, after seeing his previous two rebounded, so chooses to casts a necrotic spell. The spell conjures a spectral skeletal hand near the lizard foe, but the hand does not touch him, being absorbed into the crystals and then refracted outwards into the area around the enemy. The crystals blast the multiplied spectral hands into Cato, Granuaile and Siala. All three of the parry hit find a dark ethereal disembodies hand clinging to them somewhere. One grips Siala’s weapon arm, trying to pull it down, and effect her aim. One takes hold of Cato’s ankle, to slow his escape, and the third tightens its fingers around the half-orc’s throat. The Greyborn ambassador’s guard return from assisting more civilians to flee. One takes out a large shotgun type weapon, with long rifle, whilst the other draws an enormous scimitar; it looks to be forged of three blades cast together, the steel reworked to form a single weapon. The grey born with the rifle aims, and fires, the first blast missing, then the monstrous blade swings and easily strikes the pinned lizard foe. Narrowly avoiding the blade and the projectiles, Granuaile summons the Chalice of Eternity, after seeing how effect it was against the Jackal beast earlier today. She tries to injure and maim the foe. It cuts into the lizards hand-claw, as it rapidly sandpaper’s the skin away. Each rapid rub rending flesh from sinew and bone, leaving nought but a bloodied stump. In pain, he jumps upwards and steps back from the half-orc, vanishing in a dark shadowy teleport towards his quarry. Towards who he believes is Osiris. Reappearing next to Cato. The blade nearly sinks in, but the mage conjures an shimmering shield of arcane force. It holds the sword away at first, until the lizard brings his other blade up, and under the shield, cutting deep. The blue robes turning purple as the mage’s own red stains from under under his rib. The assailant twists and hauls the weapon free, slashing arteries and cracking ribs as it leaves the mage’s body. This onslaught of attacks is brutal, and terrifies the wizard. Fearing for his life, Cato magiks himself to vanish, becoming an invisible target. He flees, running for his life. Leaving a faint trail of blood in his wake, as he tries to to lose his reptilian pursuer in the throng of people still trying to leave the burning arena. Over his shoulder he hears more gunshots, and blade slices from the greyborn bodyguards trying to attack the lizard-like menace, but keeps running, not daring to look back. The half-orc rolls whilst standing, and rushes the enemy, brandishing the Chalice to grind into her foe once more, hoping to mangle skin. She touches an unarmed hand to her chest and conjures her magikal jackal, a representation of Paz who leaps into the fray. It sinks radiant fangs into dark reptilian skin, and with the might of its leap knows the foe prone onto his back.

The lizard warrior stands, ignoring the array of people around him, weapons draw. He looks over to where Cato had been, and his eyes scan the crowd, locking onto the mage’s location. Somehow, he is able to see the invisible Cato, enabling him to move away from Granuaile and her Jackal, Siala’s bow, and the grey born bodyguards. The foe continues his pursuit of “Osiris”. As he leaves, blinking in and out of reality, teleporting through shadow. The Jackal and Granuaile try to stop the foe from leaving, but their attacks miss. As he leaves Siala lets loose an couple more arrows. Her elven eyes aiming closely at the same points again and again, cutting ichor an flesh from him, as she critically injures the foe. However, he doesn’t appear to care, as he walks closer to Cato. The mage runs in a zig zag, and once he is merged with the crowd, he casts an illusion over himself, ending his invisibility. He changes his appearance to someone he saw earlier at the conference, but adds burned skin and clothes to complete the effect. He tries to use his new disguise to elude the lizard warrior’s unending pursuit. At this point, the greyborn bodyguards ask where Abraxos is. Learning that the ambassador leapt down to assist the crowd escape, the greyborn separate. The one wielding the rifle stays with Granuaile, whilst the scimitar owner jumps down, using his claws and weapon to slow his fall, to reach Abraxos. The half-orc tells the greyborn to come with him, and continues to try to pull some of the warrior apart in her Chalice, but she and her Jackal miss their attacks against him. The man pays no mind to the cup attack, but lets his blades back out of the gaps in his arms, and begins to swing through the crowd, cutting indiscriminately and without care. He is now unable to see the no longer invisible Cato, and so appears to be aiming to kill everyone in order to fell his target. Bodies begin to fall before him, as he steps over them, and swings again, more fall, and he vanishes reappearing twenty feet further ahead, still slicing the civilians. One stands unto the lizard. A man armed with a rolling pin, who brandishes it, and strikes the wooden cooking tool against the hardened warrior. The lizard is not interested in this, and pushes past the irritant of the chef’s attack. No longer able to see Cato, thanks to his powerful illusionary magik, the Lizard sheaves his weapons within his arms, and vanishes in a plume of billowing black smoke, flying upwards, and becoming indistinguishable form the dark smoke of burning building and bodies. Those involved int he fight wait, weapons drawn, unsure if this is vanishing, as he did in battle, or the foe retreating. Steadily, the battle energy fades, and they realise their unknown assailant has fled the field.

Brant has spent his time since the attack assisting people in escaping. He spots an unmoving burned blue skinned figure towards the centre of the stage. The Representative of the Exalted, surrounded by flames. They do not appear to be moving, but the fires around them do not appear are vibrant as some of the other embers. He rushes to their side, and on route, he takes out smelling salts from his herbalism kit, hoping to rouse them enough to help their escape. They stir, weak and badly injured. Their eyes open and glow a faint stale white, not as bright as before. In his mind, Brant immediately hears a faded whisper or murmur, without sound or melody. The bard tries to think calming thoughts to the injured representative, thinking and speaking that he is here to help. He is unsure if his message gets through, but they slowly lift an arm around the halfling, who struggles to help them upwards. They stand, and use Brant as a standing aid, rather than leaning their weight around his shoulders. The silver crystalline gown they had been wearing is broken and damaged, and upon close inspection, Brant notices that this gown is not a separate piece of clothing, but in fact is made from them. Their skin crystalline in places and blue in others, but now damaged and torn form the blast. The tear is a wound, surrounded in blood, as they limp along towards the rear exit of the arena. On route Brant continues to support them, and once in a safe space he settles by their side, whilst healers work. He begins a calming and sorrowful melody, enchanting words of healing, rest and recuperation into his song, to hopefully aid the Representative’s recovery from injury. His place of safety is soon filled with guards of the hotel working to secure the location deep beneath the ground. After his song, and the healers work, Pliskin and his men arrive to take the blue figure away for further healing to be cared for.

Back in the coliseum proper, more hotel staff and guards are assisting with the evacuation from the outside, and eventually find their way in, to help the rest of the delegates and dignitaries out of the burning building. Over the next hour, mages and guards arrive to complete the evacuation and to secure the arena site. Wizards begin to chant and ensorcel the fiery snake creature, dispelling it slowly and gradually. However, its presence does abate and diminish. The rest of the flames are also eventually dispelled.

Granuaile and her Jackal, assisted by Siala spend some time to search for signs of their attacker. They discover one blade, no hilt, but the etched and augmented structure otherwise intact. The women join back with the rest of the huddled dignitaries within the hotel. The ambassador sends his men for healing potions for the severely wounded individuals who went up against the lizard warrior. Orryon begins to take out items from his healers satchel, and slowly starts to work on his friends and allies. When the greyborn staff return with potions, they are distributed amongst the most wounded. Orryon whisper’s a short prayer and a halo glows into vision above his head, shedding bright, warming, calming light over them all. Those who drink the potions find that the healing properties are more potent in the light’s touch. The party find themselves gathered within the ambassador’s suit.
After healing, and before they can begin to discuss matters Granuaile is called on by Chef Grayson- in official white robes. She agrees to speak with the chef, who speaks to her about the altercation with the chefs. She offers her condolences for the dead chefs. Grayson mentions that he lost many good men today. After polite exchanges, he offers a golden rolling pin to the half-orc, and declares her an honorary member of the CUF. Calling themselves the Chef’s United Front. He offers his serves to Granuaile, and comments that the CUF can be found in every city across Menosophia. 

Orryon takes up a drink, and stands by the window of the ambassador’s suite, moving his fingers across the glass, frosting the condensation into a message for only those who can read his divine language. The party then begin to sit down to discuss the dramatic events of the Festival. Brant is not sure that Vandrex was directly involved int he attack. Before conversation can get much further, a swift and purposeful knock strikes the door. The suite’s staff attend the door, and returns a moment later with Mr Pliskin. He appears wounded since being seen at his speech a few hours earlier. He appears to have some sort of head injury, as a bandage has been wrapped oddly over his eye patch. Dried blood streaks his face as does burn rubble. He settles himself into a seat, lights a cigar and then looks up.

“Well that was totally fucked” he starts, exhaling a ring of smoke.

“Certainly one way to put it” offers Orryon

“Probably the only way to put it” confirms Abraxos

“I now know one thing. I know who I can trust” he continues, ‘Security organised by my closes allies. An now we have this. And I keep thinking about you lot” gesturing around the room. “Some of you have served before I’m told, and I now that potentially I can trust you, which may seem odd, as we have barely spoken, but right now, you are all I’ve got. The closest thing to allies from home”

“Some of us have serves, yes. But some have also tried to leave that life behind” answers the ambassador.

Pliskin pauses for a moment, taking a long draw on the cigar before sighing his next phrase, “The Netheranian is dead” spoken very matter-of-fact. He appears to be telling the truth in this, openly, and bumbling this information that he himself has not yet processed this news.

“What is the wider effect of their death?” Lady Granuaile contributes to the conversation.

“This is the first time in over two hundred years that the Netheranian have approached us for relations. Those relationships have been thawing slowly. But this!? The death of their envoy. This is going to hurt. This is the time when we will need the Netheranian the most”

“Were they alone?” asked the healer.

“They died under my watch” Pliskin replies.

“Did they say anything?” Orryon continues, intrigued.

“I have trouble learning their language. It is difficult to pick up, but they did say a few things, yes.”

Brant quietly speaks up, “I apologise I couldn’t do more”

“You did well. They would have burned alive, and died in the ash otherwise. They were able to give us some important information at least.”

The news hangs heavy in the air, no one quite sure how to respond. Most new to the other worlds and the knowledge of the Netheranian people, and looking to Pliskin for how significant this is.

“I suppose a level of damage control is in order” offers Abraxos, “Someone will have to speak to their people and explain this terrorist act.”

“I will speak with the Netheranian” accepts Pliskin, “I’ll most likely seek an audience with the Exalted themselves. I wonder if they will even grant me an audience, given the situation. However, for the time being, I find I am in need of some help. I need a group of people I can trust. People who can move under the radar, no documentation, no papers, no trail on the operation”

“Not really our strength, but we could do what we can I suppose” the half-orc offers, “I assume you wanted us to do it.” Pliskin nods.

“Its all well and good asking us, but some of us will need permission from higher up the chain of command. Some of us are here representing countries. If we are to do this, our people will need to understand what it is we are needed to do” suggests the ambassador, with Granuaile nodding this time.

“Indeed. I can even things out with various nations, and can help you achieve that agreement. What I need are people I can trust”

“Monsieur Pliskin, what exactly is it you need from us?” Orryon boldly asks.

“I need you to find this New Eden, and whoever is running it, and take them out. I want to understand what they want, how they think, and to stop them from ever doing anything like this again. This New Eden has just declared war on the Free Republic.” Pliskin then tells the party the can go about this however they see fit, but that the Netheranian’s last words were to ‘go to the Monolith’.

The Monolith remains shielded actively as it does not appear to be able to be sealed. Brant warns of the dangerous magikal energy surging around the place. Abraxos confirms that his people are still trying to close it, as it actively threatens the greyborn the most. Orryon even admits to continuing to have nightmares about the day it opened and Nezhar escaped. Almost in response to these concerns, Pliskin draws from his top pocket a kerchief. Unwrapping it, he reveals a crystalline fabric satchel. This clicks open at a touch, and displays six vials. He places them on the table, and offers The Netheranian’s near last words. Pliskin states they said Abraxos, Brant, Cato, Granuaile, Orryon and Siala. They named all six of the party, though they hadn’t met them, save from Brant. They told Pliskin to hand over the vials, one each to the party members. He believes The Representative wanted the party to go to the Monolith, and that these vials will somehow help.

There is some discussion about drinking the vials or not, but eventually, Orryon, Cato and Granuaile drink. Siala marks her bow and Abraxos blade with a sylvan rune, swearing to watch his back, if he watches hers. She drinks once the agreement is made. Granuaile sends a magikal message to Amelie at Mountainsfoot garnering permission to take part in this Netheranian mission. Abraxos also excuses himself from the suite a moment, and contacts his mother, the Empress of the Grey Empire, telling her he is coming home, on an alien quest, at the behest of the Exalted. Abraxos asks his staff to arrange travel back to the home land, for himself and the party.

Whilst the debates about the vials take place, Siala asks if Pliskin knows anything about the teleporting assassin in the arena. Pliskin examines the blade of assassin that Granuaile found, and manages to identify this as a weapon of Charn the Breaker. A formidable Dawnikan Champion. He warns that if he fails, then there are three more Champions, each more deadly than the last who may be sent to finish the job. All having sworn fealty to the Dawnikan Empress.  He speaks of the third, second and first Champions; Alita the Unsated, who tears her foes apart; Torag the Undying, a fearsome berserker; and Quella the Voidwalker, a formidable fire witch. He warns that the more powerful they are, the less is know, as they are rarely called on to act.

The party separate and retire to their respective rooms for the night. Wary about the events of the day, and the safety of the inhabitants of the hotel. However, sleep does eventually come to them all, having agreed to participate in this mission on behalf of the Free Republics.

And that’s where we left off…

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