Kida Ve Alema
Roughly a month after returning from their undercover mission, Kida went to the next scheduled Vekeshi meeting in the Dreaming, the blade of Srasama at her belt in scimitar form. When first another member commented on the quality of her replica (‘it looks just like Srasama’s blade!’), she said, “I should think it does – given that it is her blade.”
This caused an uproar in those attended, with some appearing shocked or surprised, and others offended that she would make such a claim. The Stag quieted everyone down, and asked her gently, “What makes you say such a thing?”
“I found it in the Crypta Hereticum – the Clergy’s Vault of Heresies. They had many artifacts there… and an angel in chains. I should like to go back and free her soon.”
At his request, she demonstrated its power – first transforming the blade into a nodachi, and then striking it against a fallen tree. A pillar of fire and light rose up from the blow, and an outline of the six-armed goddess could be seen in the haze. Surely this was the weapon of Srasama. Those assembled quieted down.
The Stag agreed that she was fated to wield it, and wondered in amazement at its safe recovery. He then took her aside, and said their first order of business at the meeting was going to be determining who their best warrior was, as an emissary from the Unseen Court had asked for their help. But now, he knew that to be her.
Away from the rest of the group, Kida spoke with an eladrin warrior in dark red clothes, who had been sent by Queen Thisraldion herself, and brought grave news from the Court: One of its number had gone rogue, and they believed he wished harm to Risur. He had taken a group of gremlins with him, and might already be in Flint.
The rogue was known as Ekossigan of the Changing Season, He Who Defends Stags from Arrows, Widdershin’s Prophet, and Liege of Changelings. The warrior claimed this mighty fey had power over all seasons, but was most destructive in winter. Furthermore, as one of the six high lords of the Unseen Court, he was permanently invisible, appearing only as animated clothing and a mask. Worst of all, none sworn to the Court’s service could harm him – hence the need to look outside, for help from the Mystics and RHC.
The agent said that he understood Kida to be in service to King Aodhan, and had been given permission to demand help through Kelland’s Tribute: ‘one season slain for one war unfought’. Kida said it would not be necessary, but knew it was a very serious matter for such authorization to be given. The other members of the Court wanted it known that they did not condone Ekossigan’s actions. Rather, they desired peace with Risur, but Ekossigan seemed bent on undermining that goal.
The Changing season left behind a poem, which given his nature as a prophet was likely a prophecy:
When spring returns to winter,
the cauldron births a spark.
The steel betrays the vintner,
the silver spurns the arc.
The fire-bride’s dissension:
dismissed, by green-adorned.
The wheel-woven dead man
shall wake the cauldron-born.
It sparked Kida’s memory of some of the visions Nevard had left behind – of Cauldron Hill not being safe, and another vision with train tracks.
The agent said he believed he could track Ekossigan down; for now there was nothing for RHC to do, but that he would call upon Kida when he had found their opponent. Before leaving, he asked her name:
“Kida ve Alema.”
He nodded. “I am Asrabey Varal.”
Her eyes widened. “I had heard you were dead, sir.”
He tilted his head back, where the faintest hint of two scars from a carrikal still crossed his neck. “I was killed by an RHC agent, yes. Perhaps… she was just doing her job.”
“She has been reprimanded for that.”
“You know of her?”
“She’s… uh, actually part of my team.” He did not seem happy at this, so Kida continued quickly: “When they learned what she had done they not only condemned her actions, but as punishment she will furnish the next Tribute from the Court, whatever it may be.”
He paused. “It would seem we were fated to meet again.”
Near the end of Winter, Templeton found a letter with the royal seal at his residence. Signed by Principal Minister Harkover Lee, it requested a meeting on the first of Spring to discuss matters of security relating to the Risur-Danor peace talks taking place on the 13th.
Lee expressed interest in learning more about the gunsmith, pelting him with a number of questions relating to his career, goals, interests, and attitudes toward his coworkers. When he’d finally satisfied his curiosity (and dispelled the constable’s concerned notion that he might be earning a commission), he asked Templeton to head up a special Flint Police task force of fifty officers.
Beginning on Spring 9, his goal would be to utilize these officers in chipping away at the Kell-Guild’s empire: seizing businesses acting as fronts, performing sting operations to interrupt illegal transactions, and even taking down some of the guild’s well-defended strongholds in the city. The theory was that a well-planned series of strikes over such a short time frame (finishing no later than the 12th) would disrupt the flow of income through the criminal organization. Those who were not outright intimidated into leaving Kell’s employ by the display of force would remove themselves due to a lack of proper compensation. And hopefully, this would make Kell vulnerable enough to confront directly.
Templeton agreed, and Lee began to send over the associated paperwork, including the long-awaited arrest warrant for Lorcan Kell himself.
Hugo Von Gearkinson
Just a week or two after returning from the train mission, Hugo was contacted by letter. His parents had sent him an unnecessarily formal invitation to dinner. Xambria had fun with this information, asking if the technologist had ever brought a girl home to meet his parents before. Hugo admitted he was too much of a workaholic to have a social life, to which the archaeologist admitted she was also guilty.
The letter also stated that “your mechanical friend is here,” which Hugo took to assume that at some point, Delft had entrusted the golem-bodied Alexander Grappa to the Von Gearkinson family for safety’s sake – the RHC office itself wasn’t well-suited to hiding such an individual, but Hugo’s home was likely littered with half-finished automatons.
Upon arriving, Adalward greeted his son by putting him in a headlock and asking about his travels in Ber, and whether he was “staying out of trouble.” Hugo took the slight condescension in stride, only replying that there was much about his job that he couldn’t talk about with his family.
Grappa, mobilizing himself via a wheelchair, pulled Hugo for a private conversation, asking if the technologist had seen the man who killed him, or the woman that had witnessed his murder. Having seen neither, Grappa took this as a sign that his killer was still in Flint somewhere, working on “the project.” He re-emphasized the urgency of finding a way into the Bleak Gate, where the Mindmaker himself would lead the constables to the Obscurati’s hidden facility.
Sitting down to a dinner of five with place settings for three, Hugo found himself distanced from the light table conversation by a sudden interruption, Gale’s messenger wind, bearing a brief communique from the fey activist:
“Glad to see you’re back; you’ve been away for a while. I gather it has to do with that conspiracy we talked about at our last meeting. I haven’t heard from you or your comrades; I thought we were working together on this but perhaps I was wrong. You should do your job, and I’ll do mine. However, I did meet a young lady that I can’t help but think you know… you should check the newspaper today. Page 5, bottom-left. Not very subtle, I know, but the limelight can keep her safe too. And she’s not got much other job experience. You’re welcome.”
Finding the day’s issue of the Flint Tribune the article in question described a beautiful eladin immigrant named Isobel Travers, who’d already worked her way into the Navras Orchestra as a talented violinist.