The Circle have returned to Nexus, and have faced off against both Tepet Deep Fury and the Gentle Father.
“They destroyed a threat, and yet Creation is not fine…”
Exquisite Tide’s news of Ember’s mother being alive and well and nearby takes him completely by surprise. Valeria in particular urges him to go to her and find out what she’s been up to since he last saw her. Ember exits the manse, with Rey close behind to provide him with some moral support. As Hope explains the state of affairs in their village to Valeria, revealing that the Zenith’s cult has grown, she bluntly asks why Hope came. Exquisite Tide had compelled her, she explains. As the sisters catch up, Jorek starts to plot a course to Mahalanka, eager to reunite All Fates Saved with She-Who-Knows-Ten-Thousand-Things. Tai-La, alone in a manse full of strangers, is drawn to Jorek again, hoping to win him back.
Ember is hesitant to venture out to the fox cave, concerned with how his mother might react to him. Rey pushes back, telling him that being nervous is fine, but that he should seize the opportunity. The two of them head out to the cave, and there, drying some clothes and cooking a meal, is his mother. With dark skin like Ember, but hair like Summer Blaze, the plain, small woman introduces herself as Firma, mother to 26 children, all but one of whom has died protecting the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun. The three share some food as Ember apologizes for not having done enough to protect Summer Blaze. Rey berates Firma … Continue reading
“I wonder whether it’s possible to truly kill a Deathlord.
In the aftermath of the Gentle Father’s death, Valeria and Rey question Jorek about their missing memories. One moment, the fight began, and then next, the Deathlord was dead; how was that possible? Reluctant to reveal the fate that befell Rey, Jorek tells them only that Final Beat had power enough to undo some actions made during the battle, wiping everyone’s memories.
All of a sudden, a massive earthquake shakes the ground as a fissure opens up in the earth on the riverbank: the Deathlord has returned to claim All Fates! A sickly green glow emanates from the ground along with the cries of the damned, and a large, twisted hand reaches up for All Fates Saved. Jorek and Tide attempt to build an escape route on the river while Valeria and Rey battle the hand and attempt to reclaim their friend. As All Fates falls into the pit, Valeria hurls her spear down for All Fates to catch. As she summons it back to her, Rey leaps off the wall of the fissure, kicking away the Deathlord’s grip on the Night caste. On the surface, the five decide that, their escape notwithstanding, they will need to finish this enemy once and for all: Exquisite Tide creates a large ice floe, and they ride it down into the depths.
Once there, as it becomes clear that the Gentle Father is on his own turf and that … Continue reading
“Fifty is the golden anniversary… the orichalcum anniversary, maybe?”
The unnatural storm cloud continues to roll in across the river as the Circle looks on. They rush to get Hope and Exquisite Tide to the manse; All Fates Saved is rooted to the spot because of the approaching Deathlord, and Jorek persuades her to get moving, although he is a little too harsh in his attempt. A voice rumbles from the cloud: “Your tactic of assembling all targets in one location has been noted.” The Deathlord claims to be owed one father, one sister, and one lover, having already taken one daughter from the Solars, a part of the bargain he made with Three Fates Shadow. And even though she no longer exists, he is single-mindedly pursuing the other targets, unable to be budged. Jorek is able to discover some other things the Deathlord would accept in lieu of the three deaths: the destruction of three of the Solars; total fealty from one; or the death of an Incarnae.
Valeria uses her considerable strength to try to weaken the Deathlord’s resolve, but to no avail. When the Gentle Father asks for an hour of truce in order to show them one other possible option, they agree. The dark stormcloud parts, revealing Sola, now a girl of twelve, with a cracked, bloody disc on her forehead: Requiem of the Unnecessarily Sacrificed. The Deathlord offers the return of Sola in exchange for the lives of the three targets, … Continue reading
“Whether they choose to discover information… or end people….
Back safely in the manse, Valeria’s first order of business is to heal Tai-La: removing the artifact spear from Tai-La’s body that was keeping her alive, she heals the woman’s wounds. Knowing she won’t be up for some time, Jorek heads outside to speak with Rey, on watch. After the events of the day before, Rey tells Jorek how incredibly confused she is feeling about her mother’s death. Jorek jokes about using his newfound Fae powers to relieve her suffering through pleasure, but has to backpedal pretty quickly when Rey takes it the wrong way.
Jorek heads back inside and suggests Ember join Rey: the Dawn asks the Terrestrial about Tepet Deep Fury, her mother. Ember recalls her as very ambitious: she was a “deal closer”, a Terrestrial with a huge network of informants and allies… and so it seems unlikely her death will go without notice. Rey also admits to him that while everything did work out, she knows that Valeria attacked Deep Fury knowing full well that Alvor might have been killed in the process. “A wound like this will only fester,” Ember tells her; is it better for Rey to confront Val?
Valeria and Speaks-of-Silence take some time to speak about home, and how, even knowing that her sister in on her way to Nexus, Valeria no longer considers her village home. At that moment, Tai-La wakes up, and the two women leave Jorek … Continue reading
“I don’t think everyone is going to come out in the same way – things will change.”
The Circle, safely onboard the newly-christened Celestial Leeway, travel onward towards Nexus. Jorek has a “lesson” every night with Rain-After-Storms, who teaches him how, when bringing ecstasy to another, he can twist that pleasure and use it to remove feelings of negativity towards him or a cause he holds dear. Valeria and Speaks-of-Silence’s relationship continues to deepen, with feelings of true happiness that they promise to hold on to for as long as possible. Rey, apprehensive about seeing her mother again after so many years, asks Jorek to teach her to hide her emotions. He tells her about the art of misdirection as well as give her the advice that in order to truly hide feelings, they have to be numbed. Rey refuses to accept this, and Jorek agrees that Rey’s strength is in the depth of her feelings. Later, Rain-After-Storms asks Jorek why he didn’t “help” Rey by twisting her emotions and removing her negative tie to her mother; Jorek is furious, warning her to stay away from the others.
Arriving on the outskirts of Nexus, the group spies a large Tepet banner out in front of the city with the gates wide open: deciding to fly the banner of the Unconquered Sun, they land outside and observe that a massive army has made its way inside in the past couple of weeks. A sorcerous message for Rey arrives: … Continue reading
“It’s hard to say goodbye….”
In the silence before Starlight Dove appears in the Repository of Secrets, Ember quietly admits that he feels responsible for his mother’s death. Taking in his pain, the Circle turns to the Sidereal Exalt who appears in front of them: Starlight Dove tells the group that she had just killed a Bronze faction Sidereal who had been hunting them. She also knows that there are more Bronze faction on their way to find the Solars in Yu-Shan, and so they should be leaving as soon as they can. Valeria tells Starlight Dove of their plan to find more allies and unite Creation in fighting the Deathlord, but that with their knowledge of Rey’s mother on her way to Nexus to annex it, they will head there first. Jorek asks Starlight Dove why it is that she was forced to kill one of the Solars in their previous life: she explains that someone had been forcing themselves to make a choice without love, and that lack of love was at the root of all evil.
Preparing to leave the Repository and Yu-Shan, Eyes Alight holds Jorek back for a moment as the rest of the Circle steps out. She breathlessly admits to him that she has in fact spoken to him before, using the Repository of Secrets to interact with him long before they met, and to direct those in Creation to bring the Circle to Yu-Shan. Jorek is flattered by the … Continue reading
“The journey is what’s important.”
No longer does the Circle have a companion called Three Fates Shadow: All Fates Saved now stands in front of them! She seems shaken, and, unsurprisingly, is starving after having gone so long without food. The three Solars bring her some of the Unconquered Sun’s pizza and reaffirm their love for her, asking as well how her connection to her Deathlord has changed. Although they continue to have a “complex relationship”, All Fates tells them, she at least no longer hears him. While the Solars know that they will have to confront him, getting to the Underworld may not be something they can accomplish immediately.
The Circle decides that the best course of action is to return to Nexus to re-establish themselves and seek additional allies for their eventual move on the Blessed Isle, where they will work to join forces with the Dragon-Blooded in facing a larger threat. Moving out of the Jade Pleasure Dome to rejoin their other companions, Jorek is held back by the old man who had cleansed them. The Eclipse has come to terms with much of the pain in his life, but he is still unsure about his place in the greater scheme of things. The old man presents him with a simple stick of wood, which, when he removed it from the support truss of a bridge, killed a thousand soldiers; “Many fall every day, but you are going exactly where you are meant … Continue reading
“Sometimes you give a gift… Today they may get the greatest gift of all.”
As the Circle prepares to head to the Jade Pleasure Dome, Eyes Alight hopes that they all found what they needed in the Repository of Secrets; she comforts them with knowledge of life as a turning wheel, that all suffering is only temporary. While the Gold and Bronze factions of the Sidereals are at odds, she hopes that one day a compromise may be reached. When Eyes Alight claims to not be an important character, Jorek takes a moment to instill a sense of importance in her for helping them. Outside the Repository, the tiger with the robin’s egg carriage waits to take them to the Jade Pleasure Dome: Valeria once again pays him with a story, the tale of a fighter from Nexus who rose up from the slums to become the “punchiest puncher who ever punched”. The tiger is quite impressed with the Solars, and reveals that he is the god of the first breeze of sun, and that he is only pulling the “carriage” because of an off-colour joke he once made. The tiger also explains to the Circle the games of Divinity: the Incarnae bet on the outcome of events in Creation.
When a woman standing in the shadow of the Jade Pleasure Dome sees Three Fates Shadow in Valeria’s arms, she is quick to duck inside to get the keeper of the Dome, a fifty foot giant called … Continue reading
“Heaven is real… floating on quicksilver high above Creation.”
The Circle enters Yu-Shan and sees the the beautiful Celestial city spread out in front of them, stretching as far as the eye can see. In the distance looms the giant Jade Pleasure Dome where the Incarnae play the Games of Divinity: Valeria knows that the Dome is their destination. As they begin to descend the stairs, an enormous Red Dragon approaches and snarls that the Circle defiles Yu-Shan with their presence. The Solars bow reverently and Ember drops to his knees, believing it to be the Elemental Dragon of Fire; Speaks-of-Silence, however, merely pushes it by the snout down the staircase as it morphs back into a small raccoon-like creature with human hands. The small goddess introduces herself as Leena, the deity of a city now buried beneath the waves, and tries to convince the Circle to take up her cause and restore her city. The Circle continues on, knowing they have more important things to do. When Leena pesters them again, Valeria suggests that perhaps Leena should reinvent herself and have a new city of Leena founded; the god gives her a coin as an apology and scampers off, terrified when Val mentions Discord’s presence at the gates of Yu-Shan.
At the bottom of the stairs, the bustle of Yu-Shan is all around as the Circle try to find transport to the Jade Pleasure Dome. Speaking to a young man giving away what appears to be … Continue reading
“Here’s the thing about heroes: they make mistakes. And it’s not always clear when they do.”
Speaks-of-Silence and Valeria cuddle in a hammock, taking a brief respite before the coming storm, as Val tells the Lunar that “you brighten my life”. Back up on deck, Jorek tries to convince Ember to go and speak to Rey, but he wants to give her some time to herself. Rey, sitting alone up in the rigging of the airship, receives a visit from Crest Exultant. They share a pipe of cinnamon-flavoured tobacco and commiserate about love. Crest is unsure if he’ll ever be able to love again, while Rey expresses doubts about the reasons for Ember’s feelings towards her: is she maybe just a symbol to him, an idea that he loves? Crest quickly shoots down this idea, asserting that if someone was to be by your side through the bad as well as the good, their feelings are plainly written. This comforts Rey, and she heads below deck to make amends.
When Rey heads down to their quarters, Ember is there, his anger mostly abated. He tells Rey that he knows she is not a murderer and must have had a good reason for doing what she did. Rey tells him about Captain Merrick’s hand in making her father sick and says that while she is sorry she ruined their plan and made things more difficult, she is not sorry she killed him and would do so again … Continue reading