Chains of Silver and Blood

Episode 30

How to Chain War

“I knew this already.”

Beyaloa, Rohim and the Blue Walker nearly gasp at hearing Saramen admits that she knows about the Prasadi Legion moving towards Dir-Jal, and it takes all the sorceress’ self-control to maintain a polite façade. The queen sights, and tells them that the Prasadi sent word to her a few days ago, stressing that they did not bring their army to menace the Twelve’s western frontier, and that their alliance still holds.

Moving troops from the Kingdoms of the Isle to help Dir-Jal isn’t only unheard off (unsurprising considering the rivalry between the two local powers), but doing so now could jeopardize a fragile and precious alliance. Somewhat dispirited, the trio take their leave, nearly failing to recognize the queen’s handmaiden as she escorts them out of the palace. Shab, betrayed only by a peculiar gesture when she salutes them.

Meanwhile, Harik and Rain Pearl meet with an old friend of the Twilight, Sinaran, now working for the Prasadi ambassador. They spend some time catching up and relaxing in the hot baths of the Bathouse of Lhir, Sinaran even lightly flirting with Rain Pearl, before the topic slides towards home politics. Sinaran reveals that the situation in Prasad is tense : the two Dragon Clans, Burano and Ophris, are torn on how to deal with the disappearance of the Scarlett Empress, some Dragon-Blooded even arguing that Prasad should outright stop sending tribute to the Realm. In this climate, it would be delicate at best for the Ophris Ambassador to intervene in a situation involving not only a Burano legion, but one outside of the Twelve Kingdoms of the Isles. Somewhat dejected, Harik thanks him without protesting much.

In Ysmir’s villa, Pragatima is pacing restlessly, talking with a wounded Siem and their host. When they tell her that the council sent scouts out to observe and start negociations with the legion, she jumps on the occasion, asking if she can meet them on the way. They agree that is the legion is truly there for the armor, they are all willing to frame Pree Asma, especially if it means removing her from the Council, and replacing her with another merchant-prince. The Dawn tell Ysmir that she knows someone who might be able to plant the Seven Devils Armor in Pree Asma’s palace, and he tells her that he hid the artefact in the fundations of the new bridge he is having build across the Dast. Satisfied, the mercenary thanks them and leaves to meet with the scouts.

Night is setting when Pragatima catches up to the scouts making camp, and they recognize the slayer of the Anathema Nash. The lights of the legions are shining over the horizon, hundreds of fires turning the sky a dull red.

During her shift, Pragatima takes a look towards the red horizon, and jumps in the air. Her long, almost lazy arcs carry her over the camps in minutes, and she tries evaluating their numbers, noticing a peculiar chariot near the center of the camp, a great contraption pulled by half a dozen yeddims, transporting what looks like an armored giant hidden under a tarpaulin. Frowning, she steps on air, heading back to the scouts, and settles for a night of frustrated waiting.

The rest of the circle spends the evening sharing their news, resting in the guest’s quarters of the People’s Palace. While they are unhappy with the lack of help for Dir-Jal, what worries them most is the potential presence of Shab close to Queen Saramen. Beyaloa writes a letter to the queen, warning her not to trust her servant, and sends an Infaillible Messenger to Pragatima to give her an update on their lack of progress and advising her to keep an eye on the Cult of the Chained God if she finds an opportunity.

The others decide to send Rain Pearl and Kadma to infiltrate the Queen’s Palace, wanting to understand the link between Shab and the handmaiden. For the Night Caste and her ghost ancestor, entering the building is child’s play, and they are soon back, slowed down only by a quick negotiation with the ghost guardians of the royal family. They found a strange broken mirror in the servant’s possession, and Harik studies it, intuiting that it might be a sorcerous device meant to communicate with the Underworld, and the circle remembers Nash and the broken glass that allowed him to reach She Whose Name Is Death.

At the idea of another of their enemies being empowered by the Deathlord, one with both a personal grudge against them and the capacity to infiltrate the power structure of the Twelve so easily, the room itself seems to grow colder, leaving everyone uneasy.

The sun rises slowly, half-veiled behind the dust of a marching legion, thousands of men stamping in the savannah behind wings of cavalry, the support caravan personnel trailing like a tail behind them. And riding towards this beast of an army, the four messengers from the city of the Chained God, Pragatima proudly opening the way. Slowly, the army stops, and they are escorted to parley with the legion’s general, Burano Sodari. The earth aspect plunges her Daiklave in the ground, as much a show of nonchalant power as a sign of good faith, and the talks start.

The Burano general is frank, sure both of her power and her right. She tells them that she doesn’t buy the council’s cover story that her cousin Burano Arjuna died on his way back from Dir-Jal, and that the legion was sent there to obtain answers and justice towards his murderer, as well as to reclaim the precious armor of the seven devils. She has no intention of waging war against Dir-Jal if it can be avoided, but will not stray from her mission if it comes to open conflict.

Pragatima and the other envoys, afraid that the council won’t accept to let a foreign army into the city, and somewhat relieved that an outright invasion isn’t yet on the table, ask if the general would be willing to meet with the council in order to agree on a method to look for the armor and the murderer, and they all agree on a meeting in a few days, at the doors of the city.

As she rides back towards Dir-Jal, Pragatima is already thinking about how to find someone accommodating to take the place of Pree Asma on the council after this is resolved. Perhaps even a Hazan merchant…?



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