After years of silence on the subject, I decided today that I would finally come clean to my captains about my seemingly fallen status as the Lightbringer. The peace that the intervening ten years has afforded me space to not be questioned about it. No conflict has arisen requiring enough exertion to make my Anima flare. For the most part, nobody seems to have noticed; however I had been waiting to see if another would arise to take my place, and none have. For the first time in my life, I find myself in a position with all questions and no answers. I have repeatedly asked Medli for guidance, only to be waved off, saying “If it is not you, then I do not know who is.” When I approached Dace on the matter, he barely managed to restrain an eye roll and said “Yeah, Boy. Cause all the shit you done is cause-a yer stupid-ass, girly wings!”
So I am left with no choice but to assume that I am being punished for my actions when I faced the Mask of Winters. With that in mind, I summoned all available captains to the war room for a mission briefing. After a brief explanation, my offer to leave the Ordo was soundly ignored, and I dispatched Third Company to deal with a potential threat in Ahn Teng. After dismissing them, I stood out upon the balcony, which years ago is how I would always enter the tower, and pondered how quickly things seem to change. It feels like only yesterday I was running through the Scavenger Lands with Mela and the circle. Little did I know what awaited me this day.
Down in Rathess sat Byrrden of the Night Caste, in a small tea house close to the Rim. It had been a long, and no doubt arduous journey from his homelands, and now he sat contemplating his next move. He overheard talk of a newly arrived group of refugees resting in a camp not far down the road. Of particular interest, rumors held that a newly chosen was amongst their number. He set off to investigate.
At one of the Rimside gates, Rose of the Dawn Caste (called “Rebel Rose” by her followers) had approached with her entire village in tow and sought aid from Zion. Her village had been attacked and destroyed by the Fair Folk, it would seem. A governmental representative was dispatched to discuss details with Rose and her group. Meanwhile, as the refugees were offered rations, Rose cooked up a gift of baked goods and offered them to the gatehouse watchmen. A camp was made available as short term shelter for her group, and after a short discussion, it was determined that a functionary from the office of exaltation should be involved in the proceedings. Rose’s grandchild was escorted to the nearest clinic to have her broken arm treated.
In the north, Felslic Ashlar of the Twilight boarded an air skiff to make his way from Grieve to Gethemane. As partial payment for his voyage, the crew asked him to make repairs to the ship, which had fallen into disrepair. Looking over the vessel, Felsic was able to immediately determine that not only could he repair the ship, but he could also upgrade its functionality. He could do all this mid-flight. So it was that the crew offered the Twilight the best accommodations they could manage, as well as a full refund of his boarding fee. A makeshift harness was constructed to suspend Felsic’s considerable bulk upside down as he worked on the hull. With a slight twist of essence, the ship was repaired and new modifications already turned the six day journey into four.
Back in the east, a young Eclipse by the name of a Vox Mallux brachiate through the dense jungle foliage and ascended the tallest tree he could to spy on an encampment of Arczeckhi, a group of Wyld barbarians and raiders. There he found their entire territory had been emptied out, and tracks indicating a march towards the Chayans, a peaceful people who had no standing army to speak of. Young Vox had been trying to broker diplomatic ties between his people and Chaya, and decided he needed to seek aid immediately. Of Chaya’s known allies, Zion was the only one in a position to help. Summoning his familiar, and companion Onyx the Tyrant Lizard, Vox made haste towards Rathess.
In Chaya, Dr Caemlyn, a respected and well known physician, specializing in reproductive medicine, was hard at work trying to discover the source of the annual fever that overcomes her people. Using mortal Thaumaturgy, she managed to glean that the source of the fire tree pollen present in her people’s blood was from the fire tree seeds themselves. She needed to find a way to collect a specimen, but the Chayan people have a religious devotion to their fire trees, and only entrust the handling of seeds to their [fire tree monks]. Calmly, the good doctor went to have breakfast with her daughter Xandrel as she considered her options. There she overheard a guardsman of the Chayan defense force speak of raids being conducted recently by the Arczeckhi, and she had her plan. Dr Caemlyn gathered her things and ventured off.
In the North, Felsic arrived well ahead of time thanks to his adjustments to the airship. As they approached, the crew reeled in horror as they beheld that Gethemane was gone. There were no signs of struggle, no scars of battle upon the frigid ground. Instead, the entire city, and a portion of the mountain it was born into had completely disappeared, leaving a perfect cylindrical bore heading deep, deep into the ground, where no light could escape. The ship, having only planned for a one way trip, was nearly out of fuel. Luckily, the crew informed Felsic that they had a hidden refueling station not far from the city, as the war-torn north often demands such backup plans. They anchored the ship and began refueling, as Felsic went to inspect the quarters of the now missing attendant. There he found no sign of attack or struggle, no sign of search, or any other untoward activities. Instead he found what looked like a reasonably well kept bunk, and a pair of clothes missing that Felsic could only surmise was the attendants dress wear, based on what had been left behind.
It was then that the crew alerted Felsic to an approaching traveler. He went out to meet the man, and discovered it was a badly wounded soldier, still in his uniform. He carried a white rose clasp, torn from a great cloak, and wrapped in a crumpled flier for a celebration that was being held in Gethemane the night before. On the back, scrawled in thick, bold lettering, was a note to someone in the province of Zion, which Felsic only knew of apocryphally. Even so, without any better options, and a clear destination for the message he now held, Felsic answered the call of Fate, and had the ships crew to fly him south, to Zion.
In Rathess, I arrived with Vox to seek the advice of the Council Exterior. If anything involving troops were to happen, we would need their help. We rode hubward to the Great Pyramid, and were greeted by functionaries. As I requested an audience with the council, the good people of Rathess flocked to see the newly reborn Eclipse and ask for blessings. The functionary ushered us into the waiting room of the council where we were greeted by Rose and Byrrden.
Byrrden had been watching for evidence of Solar activity, and discovered Rose to indeed be a princess of the earth when she revealed her caste mark to Tessi, the functionary who had been helping her acclimate to Zion. So Byrrden followed the next day when Rose was summoned to the Great Pyramid to meet the councils request for aid. Seeing this as his opportunity, he revealed himself as chosen to the functionary, and followed Rose inside.
Upon seeing Vox, he and Rose erupted into a heartfelt embrace. It would seem those two have some history. Hmm… Fate is a wheel, and even the exalted can only do so much to fight it. I might have pressed further, but Mela appeared to usher us into the meeting.
For their part, the council was sympathetic to the Chayans plight, and wanted to intervene. However, their suspicion is that the Arczeckhi are being maneuvered by Bear Fist, a Lunar disciple of Ma Ha Suchi. The decade of calm since the fall of the Mask has afforded the ancient Lunar time to scheme, and the theory is that he is trying to goad Zion into violating its non-aggression pact. So if Zion were to send its army to stop the Arczeckhi invasion, Ma Ha Suchi would interpret that as an act of aggression against his ally and therefore him. Allowing him to freely send his beast man hordes against Zions exposed flank while the army is in Chaya. Therefore, the council resolved to enlist myself and our new arrivals to head out to Chaya and resolve the dispute as free agents.
As we approached Chaya aboard the upgraded Wind Chicken, we spied a Chayan woman under assault by an Arczeckhi raiding party, with Bear Fist himself in the wings. My fellows leapt into action to engage the raider’s advance. I summoned my panoply and began the long sojourn into closing distance. Rose and Byrrden took on the brunt of the Arczeckhi’s flanking attempt, while Vox harried them from the boat. I walked forward. The Chayan woman, meanwhile, erupted in Solar essence as she met with her second breath, and immediately blasted the main raiding force with a torrent of lethal spells.
As this was all happening, Felsic’s airship had apparently arrived at this very moment, and a very large, brick colored man swung about on a rope to scoop up the woman and bring her to safety. Meanwhile, I walked into range as Bear Fist signaled his forces to withdraw.