The streets and plazas of the city are full of life : like every year, this is a time of plenty, where food is distributed freely throught the city, and people everwhere are dancing, celebrating and engaging in friendly contests of skill. Pragatima participates in some of the celebrations, and ends up exchanging tips with Rain Pearl as they train in the street. The rest of the group soon find themselves tired with the festivities, and Rohim goes back to his home, while Beyaloa and Harik take up their studies again in the calm of Ysmir’s library.
It takes Harik’s preternatural hearing to notice something wrong : coughs and heavy steps, and a rasping, unnatural breath under their feet. Asking a servant, they learn that the body of Nash was lain in the cellar, and immediately realize what is happening. Sending a servant to warn Pragatima, they grab all the guards they can find and go to lock the cellar doors… only to be confronted with a very surprised Nash Draghma, his funeral robes covered in blood but his wounds apparently already healing.
The tension is high, as the wounded Anathema gauges the group facing him, unsure if he can defeat them and flee before their formidable ally come to their rescue, his empty gaze sending shivers down the spine of both the sorcerers and their guards. Both parties unwilling to engage, a negociation of sort starts, Nash asking to be allowed to leave the city, promising to never come back to enact vengeance. Beyaloa agrees, in exchange for information on where the merchant-prince got his hand on his dream-eaten troups, and Nash obliges, telling them that they come from Baliad, where he bought them from He Who Burns, a local fae lord. Faithful to her word, the sorceress lets him pass, and the wounded Anathema makes his way through the guards to leave.
Rohim is the first to notice something wrong with himself. Alone in his study, his head starts to spin, and pain slowly spreads throught his ariculations. He panics for a moment, unable to recognise the particular sickness he suffers from. Even so, he manages to cleanse his body, using his incredible medical expertise, and notices that the sickness is a perverted strain of the Inashi’s regenerative powers he has been studying for a while. Unsettled by this, he goes back to his friends, intent on changing his mind and warning them.
Nash is almost out of Ysmir‘s garden when a furious Pragatima arrives, having been warned by the guards. Unwilling to listen to Nash’s explanations, she jumps into battle with him, and their second duel trashes the merchant-princes garden, obliterating his wine fountain and shredding throught the aromatic fronds. By the end of it, the Dawn and Rain Pearl stand in front of a thrice-dead body, his dark blood mingling with the wine running freely on the ground.
Pragatima’s paranoia flares at the tought of Nash coming back from the dead once more, and she refuses to leave the body alone even for a minute. Rohim finds his three companions arguing with Rain Pearl and Ysmir as to how to prevent Nash from coming back to haunt them, as they fear that burying him would allow him to come back in the flesh, but fear that descrating the body of such an adversary could create a powerful shade hungry for vengeance.
Thankfully, the physician has an idea, and they follow his lead, bringing the corpse down into the cellar with him. Once assured that no-one is there appart from his circlemates, Rohim touches the body, allowing the light of his anima to pour out. For the first time, the rest of the circle sees the white and gold phoenix that his the image of their friends soul erupt around them, nearly blinding, a bird of pure power and essence spreading his wings underground and burning the body of their foes to a fine white ash.
Rohim gets up, his caste mark still shining on his brow like a golden third eye, the life and dreams of Nash Draghma still coursing throught his head, and allays his bewildered friends’ worries : their old adversary will not come back.
Everyone breathes in relief, and the two sorcerers notice that they have been fighting a impressive headache all this while. Rohim opens wide eyes at this, and starts to examine them, concluding that they have caught the same sickness he suffered from. Immediatly, they share their worries with Ysmir, and put his guests and servants into quarantine. The discovery that Zapir is already bed-ridden only confirms their fear that Nash’s mansion is probably the source of this new illness.
Quickly, Rohim begins working on a cure and studying the disease, and requisision a warehouse to isolate all the sick people. The other members of the circle do not appear to be contagious, and they are let go to warn others of the possible sickness.
Over the next few hours, the news spread throught the festival, and more people come to Rohim, either to get checked or to help. Some are already in worse shape than Zapir, their ganglions swollen and barely able to breathe. And slowly, a clear picture begins to emerge. Most of the sick people come from three specific areas, one of them only being Nash’s Palace.
The group goes to inspect the two other spots. The first is a well corrupted by the dead body of a sick raiton, with piece of clothing apparently coming from a vagrant that used to hide nearby. In the second one, they find the vagrant in question, nearly dead from the sickness, clutching a piece of rotten Itachi meat, still wearing parts of his silver mask uniform.
As the festival ends, they finish taking in the last patients, and over the next few days the sickness slowly abates, leaving the council to debate on the disproportionate allocation of city ressources lent to Rohim without their approval, in order to fight what was apparently a small outbreak of flu. As the merchant princes and alchemists discuss city finances and the position of the new member of the council, the circles leaves once more, their physician the only person still horrified at the potential plague they avoided.
A few days later, in Beyaloa’s estate of Khimsar, as they relax and overview the training of the free Sea People, the group receive a visit from the queen of the Twelve Thrones. Troubled, she tells them that she asked the twelve beys to send some of their troups to the capital in order to plan the defense of the Kingdom of the Sea, and that two of them refused outright.
Unwilling to start a civil war, she asks them to go south to Baliad and the Cinder Isles to explain to the two beys the circumstance of her demand, and get them to agree one way or another. The group (and especially Beyaloa) jump at the call, especially eager to learn more about Baliad and the source of the silver masks as they fulfill their secret mission.