|from Empire dela Mort|
Meanwhile, Arc is faced with the decision of whether to try and break through the barrier surrounding Bone territory, or try to have his traverse find another way out. Opting for the latter, he ends up taking them to an icy wasteland which they later learn is called Hibernia. Narrowly escaping the guardian creatures of the place—which they feel compelled to avoid looking at directly, thereby perceiving them only as enormous shadows that crash up to attack the trio’s shadows through the ice surface—they discover that the low mounds sporadically scattered throughout the area are small chambers that use rose quartz to sustain as well as prevent the hatching of seventeen winterheart dragon eggs, as indicated by the marking ‘7 of 17’ painted on one.
Hibernia also hampers the use of their abilities; however, through the Lord of Shadows that he is wearing, Ian is able to discover technique, a method of using shard abilities that modifies those abilities in a certain way—in this case, by adding the definition ‘longshadow’, which allows their shards to function close to normally in this otherwise hostile environment. As a provost, the Lord of Shadows is further able to share techniques, which Ian promptly does, enabling the three to locate, travel to, and breach an uninhabited Bone legion tower within Hibernia.
Within the tower, they bluff their way past the shardling custodian (learning that M. Revenin of Bone’s Second Number, mounted by the Strife Mechanic, passed through thirteen days ago) to be able to use the ‘Gate of Four’—a set of mirrors facing outward in a square, set atop a rose quartz mandala on the floor, similar to the one Aly manipulated to get them into the tower. Examining the elaborate decorations on each mirror, they are able to determine that they are transport gates leading to Solaris, Cielis, Luna, and Terra. Almost accidentally figuring out how to activate the mirrors, they step through the portal to Terra, beginning a series of several traverses through various mirrors, as follows:
- Terra (leading to Hibernia, Solaris, Cielis, and Luna)—judged too populated
- Luna (leading to Terra, Niveum, Ignis, and Aquero)—neither regular nor longshadow abilities function
- Cielis (leading to Terra, Barbas, Aquero, and Soma)—neither regular nor longshadow abilities function
- Solaris (leading to Terra, Gargantus, Lithus, and Ossis)
The city itself apparently emits some sort of call to non-Bone-aligned shards; and while the Unconquered Avenger and Devoted Warder manage to remain true to their natures and legion, the Lord of Shadows is irresistibly drawn away, forcing Ian to hastily don the Bejeweled Warder. They then attempt to gate out of the city, but Arc’s scourge gate (his frostweave having been burnt out by the passage to Hibernia) registers all their desired destinations as nonexistent, just as their attempts at warder communications register their comrades’ shards as destroyed or ruined. After some trepidation due to the presence of an architect within the city (and learning that all architects originate from Bone), Ian decides to use civilar traverse, registering the destinations available from Solaris as: Alaricien (affiliated with Bone), Io Presis (Bone), and Urul Haek (Bone).
They decide on Urul Haek, and find it a deserted city perched just above the lip of a volcano. From there, Ian determines that they can traverse either back to Solaris or to Merinius, a city affiliated with both Ivory and Bone. As they ponder why the cities of Alaricien and Io Presis have become mysteriously inaccessible from this new location, a reddish Occidental dragon comes into view and demands an explanation of their presence. Utilizing the gaze of dragons ability from the Prince of Dragon shard, Arc explains that they are merely passing through, and the dragon URUL HAEK agrees to let them continue on their way, going so far as to call Arc “little brother”. Aly suggests waiting the few minutes until resharding so that she can wear the Saint of Consonance and support Ian as a fellow civilar, but the delay seems to irk the dragon—though not as much as Arc’s implication that the dragon is chained to the city (which it is, from a visual perspective). As the dragon rears up, they hastily flee to Solaris.
At the center of Solaris, they meet another dragon, the gold-and-silver SOLARIS, who has a quite civil conversation with her “little brother” Arc, and lets them be on their way once he has assured her that they mean no harm to her or her city. They move on to IO PRESIS, the attendant dragon of which is not nearly so affable, freezing Ian in place to prevent further traverse on his part. This being the case and it being resharding time at last, Aly switches to Saint of Consonance so she can trigger a traverse and Arc switches to Prince of Dragons in hope that it will improve communication. Sadly, exactly the opposite happens, as Io Presis identifies Arc as “the one who refused the youngling when she needed help” and turns his immobilizing attention to Arc.
Aly attempts to traverse the three of them away to the Ivory and Bone city of Caecum, but forgets to take her number with her. Ian does not forget, but Arc is left behind regardless. After paying the 1,000 bright light necessary for the first use of abilities in Caecum, the duo hastily return to the platform beneath the giant rose quartz shard in Io Presis, where they quickly snatch Arc away as the bronze dragon is summoning the architects and other authorities of the city to come deal with him.
From the Bone city of Vesperis (the only other option available from Io Presis), civilar traverse can take the harried refugees to Antiochus (affiliated with Bone), Ursu (Bone), Ulianus (Bone), or Teraton (unaligned). Seizing on the unaligned option, they hurry to Teraton, from where they can traverse to Heryodus Primus (affiliated with Amethyst), Zalium (Amethyst), or the crown city of Korantium (Carnelian). Stunned to find themselves in the rival empire of Korantium, and much more stunned to learn of at least two heretofore unknown legions, the trio decide to stop in apparent relative safety and gather their wits.
They take refuge in a nearby inn, where Aly’s scholar-fueled communication skills and attempt to pay for breakfast with one of Khimere’s pearls get them mistaken for members of the Pearl league. Although the landlady meekly tells them that breakfast is on the house, she also calls for an evident civic official—who turns out to be Arc’s long-lost cousin DEVON Minato.
After officially ascertaining from Aly that the three ‘Pearl’ mounts intend neither to participate in the ongoing tournament nor to stay in town for more than a day, Devon makes to leave, but is intercepted by Arc, whom she then hisses at, “What are you doing here?! The leagues still seek the line and they still seek you,” implying that Teraton (along with Arc’s parents, brothers, and sisters, who apparently live there) has remained free and unaligned precisely because the leagues have not been able to eliminate ‘the line’ in Arc’s absence. She goes on to tell him that they have evidently crossed several ‘ages’ (which seem to be geographical rather than chronological divisions), and that they should go back the way they came immediately.
As Arc is receiving this frantic chastisement, Devon seems to become aware of someone approaching, and addresses the gem around her neck, “Sphere Machinist, will you help me?” By this method, she manages to conceal herself and the trio from the Amethyst league member who enters, clearly in search of them. The unfortunate landlady valiantly does her best to cover up, which prompts the frustrated man to threaten to burn her establishment down since “I cannot harm you, but this will not violate the terms of the truce.”
Springing to the landlady’s aid, Devon lowers the concealment and, as the Amethyst man stares at the Diamond mounts, she reappears next to him and sinks a knife into his side. This evidently makes the man’s jewel flash some sort of alert, and Devon cries out that they have to leave before falling unconscious. Aly badgers the name of a nearby town out of the landlady and renders her petrified in hope that she will be construed as a victim, as Arc hastily gates them away to the town of Agarol.
Just outside Agarol, Ian tries to take the flashing amethyst from the dead man’s neck, only to have his hand badly burnt on contact. Arc is able to take hold of the gem, learning that it is ‘the fifth amethyst, the Hierarch’, and that he can wear it, except that he will never again be able to bear a shard. He therefore tucks the now-quiescent jewel away while Ian hastily constructs an underground tomb to conceal the man’s body. Nevertheless, they still have the sense that pursuit is hot on their heels, so Ian uses civilar traverse to take them to the crown city of Korantium.
At Korantium, they feel they have gained enough breathing room for Aly to consult with the Saint of Scholars, who promptly panics and essentially hollers at them that they must go back exactly the way they came, wasting no time, since every moment they spend in this age weakens them. Unsure whether to leave Devon or take her with them, they try to awaken her, Aly finally slapping the woman at Ian’s suggestion, thus engendering ‘serious consequences’ as a result of a legion member ‘attacking’ a league member. Not having much other choice, the awakened Devon agrees to go with them, and is hastily sworn in as a member of the First, discarding her Sphere Machinist and donning the Scarab Helionaut.
Accordingly, then, with Devon in tow, the group retraces their steps, paying bright light to facilitate traversal and whisking twice past the startled officials of Io Presis before they finally arrive at Hibernia, where a male Bone mount barely has time to react to their appearance before he is savagely attacked and they use longshadow door to flee the tower.
Outside in Hibernia, they move to the two mounds they passed earlier, Arc prying up the rose quartz covers in hope of freeing the young winterheart dragons, before activating a gate once more at the first mound they encountered. From there, they travel back to the port of Kaven, where the Bone mount they fled in the first place greets them with, “I thought you would be back.”
leagues encountered or heard of: Citrine (Devon’s), Amethyst, Pearl (referred to as “riparian”), Carnelian, Garnet