A clear morning dawns on the coast, and the People’s Place guests are woken up by a breakfast of flatbread served with oignon-and-plum sauce. Before Rohim can start to enjoy his meal, a glowering Pragatima enters the room, asking him about his dealings with the palace staff in her usual blunt manner. Faced with Beyaloa’s testimony, he explains that he is following the advice of Ebele, who told him to follow the white veils if he wanted to reach her after her departure.
The discussion once again turns to the subject of Pragatima’s paranoia, but the Dawn brushes away any accusation by remiding everyone that they are after all holding a very dangerous prisonner, and that some aspects of Rohim’s nature and past are still somewhat cloudy. Before another argument can start, however, Harik enters the room, warning them that a retinue led by two Dragon-Blooded is entering the palace.
The group (without Harik) meets with Omale on the great veranda of the palace, where they greet Ejain and Makeba, who come bearing magnificent gifts for the Admiral : an exotic unbreakable glass sword from distant Chiaoscuro, a dozen pure-bred horses with golden brides, and a bottle of precious wine from the Center of the World. The two Prasadi nobles explain their concern at the very public humiliation and capture of their compatriot. Ejain apologises for Jinosoi‘s actions, and Makeba warns that keeping a Dragon-Blooded in captivity will not sit well with Prasad of followers of the Pure Way. In order to avoid straining the relations between the Twelve and the Empire of Prasad, they ask that Jinosoi be released as soon as possible. In exchange, they will repay any insults given throught Jinosoi’s actions, and ensure as best they can that such a thing won’t happen again.
Wary of such a deal, the group stalls for time, saying that they would rather not take such a decision without Queen Saramen’s support, and all agree to meet again in the evening to discuss the issue further.
Accompagnied by Omale, Beyaloa, Harik and Pragatima head to the Royal Palace, people muttering and staring as they see the great jade lance carried by the mercenary capitain.
In the palace’s hall, they meet a tired Saramen, discussing the issues caused by Y’danna’s refugees. She grumbles as they spell out their situation, and she explains that their position towards the neighbouring empires of Prasad and Ysir is too precarious to agravate one of them. The problems raised by Y’danna’s mysterious attacker, and by its displaced citizens are worrying enough without adding another political crisis into the mix.
Together, they end up agreeing to release Burano Jinosoi, and asking for embassies to be created in order to be able to solve these types of problems in the future, reasonning that this might also be a good way to strenghten diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Before they leave, Pragatima and the Queen discuss their shared heritage, Saramen revealing that she has Hazan ancestors. Somewhat directly, the Dawn asks if Saramen might be interested in lasting peace between the Twelve and the Hazan tribes, surprising everyone. Saramen responds that such a thing would be terribly welcome, but that uniting the Hazan tribes (or even obtaining the agreement of all the Beys) seems impossible during their lifetime. Undaunted, Pragatima nods, content for now to see a common hope.
Meanwhile, Rohim leaves on his errand to obtain more information on Ebele’s activities. Meeting his contct at the non-existent teahouse, he learns that the young heroine left a message for him before leaving to hunt pirates disrupting sea traffic south of the Twelve.
Somewhat put off, Rohim leaves the teahouse to return to his studies, eyed by the white weiled patrons.
Jinosoi freed, and with the promise that the Prasadi Dragon-Blooded will stop meddling in local politics for the sake of their hosts, the Circle is free to return to their expedition. After spending a couple of days preparing at Beyaloa’s Khimsar estate, they leave for the Sea of Gold aboard her personnal dhow, the Temeraire, leaving the Voriyaras behind.
Following Ciello‘s directions, the head towards a small fishing village, intent on finding the fisherman who picked Harik’s lense from below the waves. Stopping for the night on a uninhabited island, Beyaloa and Harik decide to spend their evening adding to the expedition’s roster. The sorceress creates a boiling column of water next to the ship, which splits to reveal a shimering Tidemare, eager to explore the sea around her. On the shore, Harik draws a complex circle of salts and incense on the sandy soil, stepping inside the maelstrom of green fire and silver sand that erupts to emerge clad in a talkative grey Peronelle.
The fishing village is small, craddled between two rocky cliffs on the shores of the sea. As the Temeraire enters the bay, there is a flurry of preparation and stress, and the locals greet the circle with a deference bordering on fear, only calming when they realise that the visit has nothing to do with raiding them or collecting taxes.
Once they ask about the lense and the treasure from the bottom of the sea, they are pointed towards a small secluded house sitting above the bay, freshly repainted and given a wide berth by the inhabitants. In the middle of a few dozen expensive wine bottle, they find a sleeping Aver. The old fisherman grumbles at being woken up so suddenly, and thell them to go away, stressing that he hasn’t sold any treasure for years.
Over time, Aver warms up to the group, and starts talking about his days as a fisherman and his discovery of the underwater city. He tells them of being carried there by a wyldstorm, and of waking up after days of whirlwinds and pouring rain under a blue sky, shining white roofs jutting from between the clear waves. With tears pouring from his eyes, he recounts the trips he made there, to the empty undewater metropolis, exploring the upper levels and bringing back riches to sell and memories to last a lifetime, as he grew more isolated from the small supersticious community of his village. After a while, his voice cracks, and he concludes by saying that he is too old now to sail alone far from the coast, and that not one of the young fishermen of the village is worth sharing such splendor with… not that they would want to leave on such an risky trip.
With a smile, Beyaloa then tells him that if he agrees to show them the city, they will give him the opportunity to see it as no-one has seen it before, and to explore the unseen depth unreachable by a lone diver. It’s a reborn Aver who descends towards the village with them, where they are greeted by the sight of children playing with their Tidermare, the elemental basking in their adoring stares.
Under the guidance of Aver, they sail towards the center of the Sea of Gold, and soon reach the underwater city. True to his word, the white roofs of the city’s highest towers protrude from the calm surface, and the silhouette of many other buildings can be seen throught the clear, shining water. The Temeraire is attached to a roof, and soon the group is plunging underwater, safe in the belly of their Tidemare.
The city is immense, spreading down an underwater hill, and seems to be in pristine condition. As they leave their living ship to swim in the abandonned building, surprising fishes and retrieving mysterious ustentils, they discover a city apparently built for an underwater people : no stairs are to be seen anywhere, and doors are haphasardly placed at any level on the white-coated building, free of any algua or coral growth.
Suddenly, they notice a face peering at them from behind a bush of algua. A face soon joined by several, as they end up surrounded by a group of sea-people, tall humanoids swiming throught the water, clad only in harnesses and string of pearls. They climb back to the surface, followed by the great men and women who pierce the wave next to their ship. Cautious, the group try to communicate, and find that one of the tribal leaders of the strange group speaks a bastardised version of Dreamthongue.
The woman calls herself M’’ui’rin, and expresses astonishement at their presence so far out at sea. The circle mention their interest in the city, and M’’uirin tells them about the history of the shining metropolis, built by their ancestors in ages past. She tells them that they are among the last of the free Sea People, and that they were driven out years ago by one of their own, M’’ar’ai, the Unificator. Now they only come into the old city but a handful a time each year, to hold their ceremonies in the ancient temple, moving around the Sea of Gold the rest of the time to stay away from the conqueror’s grasp.
Interested by the tale, they ask about M’’ar’ai, and the proud sea-woman tells them that the Unificator is on a crusade to unite all the tribes of the Dreaming Sea under his rule, and that he as very nearly managed to do so, and now dreams of conquering the surface. Sitting on the white roof of the tallest tower, the circle feels a strange sense of dread, remembering the stories of the sack of Y’Danna, and of the strange army that came from the sea. Talking to M’’ui’rin, they learn that M’’ar’ai wields a monstruous spear of coral and jade called Eren Kien Abe, able to summon powerful monsters of living coral.
Aver, Siem and Jemdat turn pale at those stories, but the circle find a renewed sense of purpose in the menace : at last, they have a clear adversary, and can focus their effort on this Unificator instead of worrying about an undefined threat. This must be known : the people of the Twelve and the Pearly Coast must plan to fight this adversary, and the first step is to talk with their leaders. They ask M’’ui’rin to come to the coast of Beyaloa’s estate in two weeks time, planning to bring Omale and queen Saramen there to tell them the grave news.
As the winds pick up aroung them, the four Exalts salute their newfound allies, and step back on their ship. The expedition must be forgotten for now. Sooner or latter, war will come to their shores from the sea, like a Wyldstorm ready to destroy what they all hold dear. Preparations must be made.