Descending Air 19
Mal, still furious after the events of yesterday, spends the day quietly walking around Vendig and leaving discrete messages for his disreputable friends. Their responses lead him slowly, but inexorably to the “Golden Pagoda” – The building that once housed the Blue Lady, but had been taken over by opportunistic Realm merchants looking to present a taste of home to their fellow travelers, for a hefty price of course. Mal feels unwelcome eyes searching the crowds in front of this inn, and slips away to give this news to his fellow Exalts.
They are all hiding in the Undercity below the central island of Vendig. Periodically they move about to avoid overly curious beggars, but they are all faced with a burning question – what to do next. They are faced with the fact that the Wyld Hunt – an organization that has built its reputation on successfully hunting and killing many Anathema – are aware of a number of them, and are religious zealots who will keep hunting them down until they are dead. Not only that, but they have powerful sorcery and numbers that the Exalts of Vendig can’t match.
Mal wants to take revenge and fight, and while Vlad wants to join, he isn’t sure that this will end well, or do anything but replace these known DragonBlood hunters with new, unknown ones. Pyotr and Hai-Long put forward the argument of running. They have ships and a problem up in the mountains that might take months to finish, but they begin to realize that this too would only be a delaying action.
Demi and the Doctor wonder out loud, could we somehow fake our deaths? The Doctor feels confident that he could heal missing limbs, and with the help of some well-timed explosions, could they not leave some body parts for the Hunters to find? This leads to a new round of arguments, and Mal is especially vocal in his worry about really paying the cost of an arm and a leg… But all eventually are swayed to the need to fake their deaths to throw off the Hunt, and the need to leave some convincing proof of their “deaths”.
Vlad and Hai-Long pay a secret visit to the Cathederal to ask for help from the Silver Heron. They humbly ask for help in removing the trouble of the Wyld Hunt from Belicht. Curious, the Silver Heron appears before them – a great black winged woman, dressed in silver plate and bearing a blood-drenched spear. After putting forward their proposed plan for faking their own deaths, they begin to worry at the Silver Heron’s apparent humorous reaction. She explains to them that in the millennia befor the rise of Belicht, she had been a God of the Dead, who flew over places of death and guided all souls she found to their restful end in Lethe. She still has great power over when and how souls move on, and can certainly help them in their request.
She offers to hold their souls at the point of death. Their bodies will die but their souls not leave, and should their bodies be restored to health they will return to life. But she warns them – she can only deny the call of Lethe for a limited time, and if they wait too long they risk an eternity as ghosts. Should they wish to take up her offer, they merely need to call her by her true name – Gamayun the Gatherer of Souls.
Hai-Long gives effusive thanks, and they leave to present this possibility to the others.
The Doctor is immediately enthusiastic about this plan, and while the others are terrified by the thought of “mostly” dying, all agree that this opens up some wonderful opportunities to take some revenge and fool the Wyld Hunt at the same time. They hatch a plan to convince the Wyld hunt to ambush them somewhere away from bystanders, and to fight the Dragon Bloods to their own dying breaths.
There is the additional worry of what the Hunt will do to those who are suspected of helping the Solars, and so they need to remove suspicion from their friends and family.
Hai-Long writes a letter to Ragara Syn, entreating her to help him by notifying the Wyld Hunt – to let them set up an ambush for the Solars. Mal takes this message and slips it quietly to some Ragara spies to hand to their mistress.
They call to Gamayun – the Silver Heron – who places her mark on those who will walk into the ambush . A glowing feather appears momentarily on their foreheads before fading away. She then hands a small stone to the Doctor.
“When you place this stone to their mouth, their souls will be unbound again, and they will return to life should the body be capable, or move on should it not. I hope that The Maiden of Endings will smile upon your attempt.”
Demi and the Doctor take this stone and leave to the Doctor’s estate outside town to prepare for the repairs that will be needed.
It is deep night when the Exalts come to the Houses of Ragara Syn. There are no guards or servants on the grounds, no lights have been lit and everything is quiet – except for some faint chanting coming from inside the house. They find Lady Syn completing an occult ritual – beckoning a demon.
“I feared for your lives. You have not heard all the stories of the Hunt that I have – they will kill you all. I have called the only one I think can even the odds for you – I cannot bind this demon, and it will only stay until dawn. But I cannot leave you do die without at least trying…” She gives Hai-Long a passionate kiss, before tearfully running into the night.
Slowly a spear materializes in the occult wards – a great verdigris and brass spear covered in burning runes. Vlad took a step back in fear and uttered only one word – “Gerveshin”.
At the sound of splintering wood they saw a pair of blood apes charge into the room. Mal, Pyotr and Hai-Long each turned for the spear, but Pyotr was the first to lay hands upon the spear.
“A wielder worthy of my efforts. Strike now with anger those who betrayed you!”.
Pyotr’s veins and eyes lit with green fire and the spear leapt at the blood apes, almost seeming to drag Pyotr along behind it. The sweeping spear flips the demon onto its back, before plunging deep and drinking its heart’s blood. Mal and Vlad take the second demon and slash it apart.
“Is this petty display all you can muster? We Lords of the North laugh at your useless displays, and we shall drink fron your empty skulls!” Hai-long glowed with power as he sauntered outside towards a pair of educated looking dragonbloods cowered before him. Three more stepped between them.
“We Immaculates will never allow you to spread your wicked lies – prepare to die.”
The Exalts felt confident in the opening of the battle, until the giant earth-immaculate reached down and caused the ground to open up beneath them – trapping their legs and opening them for attack by the others. Another slashed at Vlad and caused his very essense to ignite inside him, While Mal was slowly beaten down under the lightning fast strikes of the his Air-aspect foe.
Hai-Long rose in radiant glory and focussed his gaze on the sorceress who caused Vlad’s essence to slow and stagnate. “Bow down before your Lord traitorous wench. Kneel before my glory!”
The Sorceress shuddered, and faint nightmares caused he to close her eyes and kneel, begging for her soul to be spared.
Pyotr fell under the combined hammer-blows of the Earth-aspect giant and his blazing fast accomplice, while Hai-Long fell under the sudden rain of arrows from the bowman waiting in ambush on the roof. Mal found himself unable to act as his breath was taken from his lungs by his nemesis.
Vlad took up Gerveshin the green-fire spear and killed the Giant, before trying to break the demonic-spear over his knee.
It’s fiery form flowed into a great brass-skinned man, filled with rage.
“I thought to spare my blood-kin and watch your rage across creation. But for that affront you shall suffer my fires.”
Vlad picked up his sword and leapt forward, and while his sword plunged deep into Gerveshin ’s shoulder, the green blaze surrounded him and filled his throat with fire. His last whispered words “You will see me again…”
Descending Air 24