|Thessaly -- the eventual|
mount of the Essential
Silk Emissary -- makes
her first appearance in
They make their way to the entrance of the mausoleum, where they discover that it is impossible to attain adequate rest and, later, that the pathway to the lower depths has caved in completely. Catalina and Varian are therefore obliged to make two trips through the ashfall to transport their companions under their single tarp to the shelter of a nearby cave. During the second trip, they ambush two Chainers in order to acquire thistlethorns from these; and upon their second arrival at the cave with ALECTO, MANTIUS, and the unconscious Marta, are surprised to find ARCTURUS and a disgruntled Dumas in conversation with a troop of undead legionaries.
These were encountered by the latter two outside the cave, and granted shelter by the sympathetic Arc. After some discussion, Catalina is able to use her acting skills to learn from the legionaries’ leader Honorius that they were assigned to help local towns in the wake of the catastrophe—notably Itheka, located close by the volcano—and eventually she speaks in a voice of authority to let them know that they have fulfilled their mission. The legionaries’ remains are put to rest some distance from the cave, upon which the party is privileged to receive the silent acknowledgement of a ghostly complement of the Thirteenth Legion.
Catalina asks for a day to further investigate her new abilities as Mitis Scientia, during the course of which she discovers, among others, a method of immunization against the harmful effects of the ash. Aly puts forth her proposal to essentially scam needed supplies from the nearby palisade by posing as the Inheritors of the Catastrophe. Albeit with some tense moments speaking to BRIANNA and an arrow to the shoulder womanfully sustained by the lead actress, this is successfully enacted by Catalina, Mantius, and particularly the revived Marta, who proves to be a thespian of some potential.
Returning to the cave with their loot, the party is once more surprised when they receive a distress call from an unknown shard. With the exception of Marta, who stays behind to guard the supplies, they promptly answer, finding themselves transported to yet another underground cavern facing an Infested Gorgon, which has apparently already savaged an injured man and an unconscious woman, both clearly shardbearers, the man in particular evidently bearing some version of the Concinnarium Vigilo.
As his companions help the wounded and deal with the Gorgon itself, Varian realizes that it is a spirit of some sort, and sends Carnelian off to deal with its controller. Carnelian not only succeeds but obtains a new spiritstone for its master; and the party is able to summarily, though not quite easily, deal with the Gorgon in its master’s absence. As Catalina, Dumas, and Mantius assist the grateful but wary BRANDEUS and his sister THESSALY, the other three party members sidle off to recover the shard from the body of the creature’s late controller, whom they soon surmise to be one IGEDUS, supposedly a missing friend of their new acquaintances.
Regrouping, they further learn that Varian and Brandt have met before, as fellow sons of athlete fathers; that Itheka is approximately a week’s travel east from the current cave; and that the people of Itheka have had and been using shards (again called ‘stones’) for some time prior to their own discovery of same. After witnessing a quarrel between Brandt and Thessaly and receiving the pair’s invitation to come find them at Itheka, the group returns to their cave via Brandt’s invocation of one of the abilities of his Virtuous Warder shard.
Back at their own cave, the party members are elated to learn that Marta has managed to recover one of their lost shards, the Specialis Vesica, during their absence.