Chapter Six - Inauspicous Doldrums

Shining happy people

21:st of Ascending Wood

The River Serpents (except Shifty Dagger) are returning to M’ok after their brief visit to the city of Arc, with them they have Jade, Bandol and the rescued peasants. The mood among the travelers is rather weird since they all have witnessed the Serpents new-found powers. Steel Horizon decided that he would hold another speech to his people once they arrived in M’ok to bolster the will of the people once more.

When they arrived in M’ok they were greeted by the worried relatives of the rescued peasants. While the people were cheering at them for their display of bravery and compassion Steel Horizon climbed on top of a building and let his anima burn bright. He held an epic-speech about the future, hope and community while burning ever brighter right in front of the massed people of the town. At the climax of his speech his anima reached it’s totemic level, a great glowing image appeared behind him: The sun dawning upon fields of steel grass. This magnificent display of supernatural puissance together with the speech turned the massed throng of people into a spontaneous carnival in his honor, singing and dancing ensued and people followed him around while he continued to glow in the aftermath of the essence expenditure.

During the commotion that ensued the rest of the Serpents kept themselves in the background and gladly let Horizon take the role of leader in the community, they all had other plans to carry out.

  • Dagger had prepared a small building near the harbor to act as home for Nerman Ail and his surviving men and as temple for the new cult of Shifty Dagger. His other project was to investigate what Garyan the brewer was up to. His investigations quickly revealed that Garyan was hiring thugs and criminals to perform burglaries in the capital with their home-base among the peasants in M’ok. Shifty Dagger didn’t look kindly upon this practice and forced Garyan to stop this practice and instead work for him as informants and look-outs.
  • Blurred Mongoose is very concerned for the lowest members of their society, the plague ridden. Since his supernatural resistance to disease makes him pretty much immune to the infection his is free to help make their last moments in Creation more bearable. He builds a number of pavilions for the infected to use as their homes instead of the poor-quality tents they have been using until now.

After a long walk around town inspecting and inspiring the populace Horizon proceeded to the fortress-ruins to do some clean up himself. With his inhuman strength he could easily clear away rubble too heavy for the ordinary peasants to carry, this inspired the other workers to work harder. During his work Horizon noticed that there was a possibility of building a private dock for his ship in connection to the fortress through a collapsed cellar wall.

During the evening further festivities were held and the Serpents all attended and the evening turned out to be entertaining for them all even if a small squabble occurred between the two blacksmiths Gracco and Ten Songs about the latter’s membership in the Guild. The situation was quickly handled diplomatically by the Serpents and the festivities continued late into the night.

The next morning

The next morning Horizon awoke to his servant Twice-watered Leaf waking him to inform him that his yacht Hammerblow had returned from it’s trip up-river and Horizon hurried to the docks.

Horizon met up with his ship’s captain Breeda One-eye and got good news. The ship had gone upriver and purchased a shipment of building materials but more importantly they managed to bring along a master architect named Green Newt and his three disciples. The aged architect showed no interest in socializing with his employer and immediately started his work in the now cleared ruins of the fortress.

Later that morning the Serpents got word that a squad of soldiers were approaching the town from the north. Horizon and Mongoose rode out to meet them while Hornet stayed behind using her incredible eye-sight to witness the meeting from afar.

Unsurprisingly these soldiers were the garrison that King Harrow had insisted on being sent to M’ok during their meeting about the rebuilding rights. The soldiers were an elite scale of troops recently transferred from the front-lines, their commanding officer was Lieutenant Sombail. The soldiers were also escorting the royal-architect Haki who was also sent on the king’s orders. The Serpents realized that these people could prove to be a problem for their plans so Horizon decided to get closer with the lieutenant while the architect was sent to meet up with Hornet.

Horizon showed the troops around town while he told them about the vision they had for the town. His charismatic presentation was a success and the soldiers were quickly becoming interested in the town, and not only because they were ordered to. Horizon also got the impression that Lieutenant Sombail wasn’t terribly impressed by the king, instead he was very loyal to General Sarei who he had fought together with during the war a few years prior.

Meanwhile Hornet met up with Haki and got the impression that he wasn’t interested in doing any actual work while being here, just inspecting the work and stamping reports to the king, this made Hornet’s following plans much easier. After her meeting with Haki she ordered Green Newt and Graceful Candle into her tent. She instructed them in the way that information was to be handled around the build-site, especially that the plans that the royal-architect would receive was to be heavily altered and bereft of important details such as hidden entrances and defensive positions. They all agreed and Hornet sanctified the oath under heaven, flashing with glowing runes and ancient treaties.

During this Mongoose received word that another traveler from the capital was approaching, this was Hai’ark’s priestess Waila who had left the capital since soldiers had occupied the temple of Hai’ark. Mongoose helped her set up a tent near their own inside the fortress ruins.

Later that day the Serpents invited Sombail, Haki, Waila, Graceful Candle and Bandol to dinner on-board the Hammerblow. During the dinner Horizon holds another speech while Hornet tries to get more information from those in attendance.

After dinner Horizon gives Haki permission to sleep on-board the Hammerblow, an offer the royal-architect gladly takes. Later he is sent young men and women to serve as his entertainment, the Serpents figured it would be best to keep him entertained and as far away from the decision makers around town. Horizon was also informed that Lieutenant Sombail’s commanding officer was Captain Rajish in Arc, a name that came up from one of the dying elite-soldiers they encountered in the capital just a few nights prior.

The Serpents met up again later at night to decide upon their plans. It was decided that Dagger would go to the capital to find out more about Counselor Ciro’s plans since he was certainly up to something, Hornet would follow in the morning. Horizon and Mongoose would stay behind for a while to set up some plans before they too would follow. They also decided that they were in need of some kind of way to intercept communications between M’ok and Arc especially letters to and from Sombail and Haki. Dagger quickly took his horse and rode to the capital in the night and entered the city unseen, he slept in an attic during the night to start his work in the morning.

Hornet met up with her new servant Swift Point who had been training on using his still functional limb. She decided that he was probably not good for manual labor anymore and commanded him to start learning a profession, more specifically the profession of architect. He was to study under Green Newt to learn the basics.

Horizon and Mongoose came up with the idea of hiring a town crier in M’ok to inform the populace of news, job-opportunities and other worthwhile information that they would need. Horizon found a loud-mouthed young man and gave Graceful Candle the job of supplying him with information.

The sun dawns yet again

In the morning Dagger set up a disguise for himself as a servant in the royal palace, probably the best place to spy on the counselor. His disguise made him blend in and his charms made him practically undetectable, perfect for the task at hand. He stayed close to Ciro for most of the day but realized that the counselor wasn’t gonna give up any worthwhile information while he was so close to the king, so he decided to steal his keys and enter his office in the palace, but first he broke into the king’s study.

Dagger realized that the king was obsessed with the idea of starting the war against Helim anew, and was busy searching for any strategic or military advantage that he could exploit to get the upper hand in the brewing conflict. After this Dagger entered the counselors study to find that the office was mostly empty and almost completely without any kind of paper trails that betrayed his secret plans. Dagger found a single document with an informal report from Captain Rajish thanking him for the opportunity to rise to his current position and that he was responsible for arresting the city-guard of the city for the made-up reason that they had been working together with the gangs in the Workshop-district.

When Hornet arrived in Arc she started investigating rumors that were abound: The entire city-guard of Arc had been arrested just a few days ago for protecting the criminal gangs in the poor parts of the city. Her investigations proved that the city-guards had most likely been framed and their position in the city had been filled by soldiers loyal to the counselor.

She also investigated this Captain Rajish that had been appearing in their investigations a lot recently. She found that this opportunistic military officer had risen to his current position mostly through deceit. He had actively disobeyed orders during the war but had his superior officer framed for his actions and had him sentenced to death by hanging. Hornet pieced this information together from various accounts and rumors amongst the city’s soldiers, but no actual proof was found for this. She found out that he had recently been given an apartment in the Ashtown-district like many military officers positioned in the city.

Horizon and Mongoose arrived in town later that day and the Serpents met up to inform each other of their progress and to plan their next step. They all agreed to one thing though: Counselor Ciro had to be removed from office, but they couldn’t agree by which methods.


Azuki Azuki

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