Monday, August 13, 2012

Isle Imperium: Episode 1.22 -- Threats Old and New

While MANTIUS is off speaking to NICOMEDES—who informs him that the Blue Mage is no longer of their number and that Dumas has elected to remain at the Citadel with Alina, thereby obliging them to find a seventh mount—ARCTURUS unexpectedly communes with his shard in his mirror. BROTHER SUN asks a favor: for them to “go and ask the mount Inea what has happened” to his sister. Arc readily agrees, and ALECTO and VARIAN decide to keep him company on his errand.

The trio soon finds itself at the Hall of Warders, where, feeling a sense of trespass, Aly and Varian elect to remain in the foyer while Arc proceeds within. Upon his request, the mount INEA is called for, and soon revealed to be the Diamond Rose Vambrace Warder. Notwithstanding this, Arc/Brother Sun promptly attacks her, especially when she says that his sister “has been lost”. Arc barely manages to restrain the shard’s fury long enough to refrain from killing the warder before Varian and Aly rush in to distract Brother Sun and spirit Inea away, respectively. The Diamond Scarlet Gorget Warder HAEMON arrives soon afterward and manages to quell the shard, instructing the appalled Arc to return to quarters until summoned.

Soon enough, the Ninth’s warders are informed and the whole number called to a ‘fact finding meeting’, at which Varian discovers that his father is a mount (the Lucent Imperial) of the Thirteenth Number, and CATALINA and Mantius realize barely in time that direct communication between shards and mounts is strictly forbidden. With strategy based on this information and support from the Essence Lancer AMIA as well as Inea herself—who declines to press charges, seemingly from a reluctance to discuss what really has happened to Brother Sun’s sister—the party is able to garner a verdict of ‘non-event’ out of the invoked ‘hierarchy of three’ (non-event, trial, or censure). They emerge from the Hall of Warders to a relieved welcome from the First, Fourth, and Eighth Numbers. Mantius, DUMAS, and ALINA also manage to exchange significant glances, apparently indicating that all is well on the part of the paternal pair.

The matter thankfully if not easily resolved, the party departs the Citadel on the following day for their stronghold, making a stop along the way to pick up the dog, CANIS VARAS, still on board their ship. There they discover that the dog has regained his ability to speak, following his successful defense of himself and the ship from three sharded attackers, the late Hex Elocutor (Specialis Tacticus, an artificer), Saint of Woods (Silva Beatus, a forester/rogue), and Coppertongue Nuncio (Nuncio Longinus, a summoner/bard), all of which are recovered from the bodies of the slain. Having possibly swallowed part of a shard—not to mention a good number of fish which he has learned to call to their doom—the dog somewhat shamefacedly rejoins the group.

Arriving at the stronghold Peerdin through the offices of THESSALY as Silk Envoy, the party is surprised to find a number of lords and ladies engaged in a casual game of croquet on a manicured lawn. Upon learning that the erstwhile rulers of Peerdin, LORD SALINICUS and his daughter JUDEA, have been expecting—albeit not in their lifetimes—to have to essentially abdicate in accordance with their agreement with the Army of Shards, the group hastens to reassure them that this will not be necessary, as long as room, board, and supplies are dependably made available for the party whenever they visit. This is agreed upon, and the Ninth are waiting for their chambers and dinner to be prepared when Aly is contacted by URICH of the Sixth Number.

Since she is wearing the Unconquered Warder, she is challenged to a duel, with the Renegade Warder or the mount Vindar as the prize demanded by each party.  Aly hot-temperedly agrees, and is saved from probable slaughter by the knife expert Urich only through the intervention of the Third’s TERENTIUS, whom the party calls upon for advice and adjudication, but who insists on challenging Urich himself in order to leave the latter incapable of battle. Terry accordingly does so, at evident cost to himself (and his hair), Urich’s loss to the Third and subsequent forfeit to the Ninth resulting in the repositioning of the Grieving Warder Porendus to the former number, and the Havoc Mage VINDAR to the latter.

Upon their return to Peerdin—not without much discord among themselves, an angry challenge issued by the Sixth’s LUCIA and declined by Aly, and the appearance of a frostweave gate (possibly heralding an intended attack from the Sixth) just as they are departing—the party receives a summons from the Citadel, announcing that leaves have been cut short and all numbers are to return immediately. They do so, arriving in good time to attend the reintroduction of the mysterious new Tenth Number (and for Varian and Terry to engage in a rather amusing case of mistaken identity).

To their concern if not quite surprise, they find that the new number, led by the Sapphire Helios Guard Warder of “another legion”, MAXILIUS, includes their old acquaintances ARIUS, GENARIUS, and the woman from the area of Brianna’s Palisade. Others are even more troubled, obviously, as, spearheaded by the First, all numbers save for the Sixth voice their official protest at the inclusion of this new Tenth, PATRICUS and his group even going so far as to refuse all missions for the month. Certain numbers also turn down the mission scrolls, while some choose to take only the unique missions assigned to them.

Keeping their information and opinions to themselves for the meantime, the Ninth accepts its scrolls and retreats once more to quarters, where Catalina as the Prodigious Scholar makes short work of interpreting the tasks laid before them.

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