We rushed to the now unrecognizable tavern that was the Plane. There was debris everywhere. I clearing away stones as fast as I could. If there were any survivors under the rubble, I would find them.
Amidst the chaos, we learned that the bartender that had directed us towards the warehouse by the prison, Surmon, was inside when the collapse occurred. His bar would have been directly underneath a huge stone wall that now lay mostly flat on the pile.
Aster and I gathered as much help as we could to lift the wall from the pile. I was confident that I could probably lift it myself, but I couldn’t take that chance. If the wall fell while I was lifting it, even more people could be hurt. Besides, I’m not supposed to be showing off my superior strength and abilities.
We must have had a dozen people come forward to help clear the wall. Aster can be very persuasive when she wants to be. We all lined up, and got to work. As we started to lift the wall, I could feel my fingers sinking into the stone. I wouldn’t say it would have been easy, but I could tell that I could have done this by myself.
We practically threw the wall in the other direction, and quickly found Surmon under the rubble. He didn’t look good. Aster immediately went to work on him. There wasn’t much I could do to help, so I gave her my cape to use as a pillow, then continued to look for survivors.
Piper stopped me a moment after I had resumed tossing rocks to the side. “There’s nobody down there. I can’t hear any more heartbeats.” I looked at piper in awe. Piper’s talents continue to amaze me. I could barely hear my own thoughts in all the commotion taking place, yet piper could hone her senses to the point where he could hear a heartbeat under a building.
I returned my attention to Surmon, who had just regained consciousness. “There is one trial remaining, and then you will have answers. Head back to where you began.” He spoke softly.
Trial? What trial? What is going on!? And what does he mean “Where you began?” Does he want me to go back to Champoor? Did we come all this way only to to just go back? He refused to say anything else.
His silence didn’t go well with me. He clearly knew more than he was willing to say, and I wanted to know what he knew. Aster and Piper had other plans, however. Rather than force information from Surmon that he may or may not have, it would be better to retrace our steps and see where it leads us.
We returned to the Clansmen’s respite, and were relieved to find Dasadi waiting for us. We learned that he had managed to escape his encounter with what he believed was a dragonblood at the prison. He told us that in an emergency, he can shed his physical existence for a short time. Returning, however, can present other problems, as he found himself on top of the tallest tower in the city without any way of getting down. It was only through sheer luck that one of the occupants of the tower had heard his cries for help, and helped him down.
Once Dasadi had briefed us on his absence, Aster began to tell our own tale of what we had been up to these past two days.
As she did, I looked upon Piper curiously. She had such an emotional outbreak earlier when he had thought Dasadi had been killed. But now? Not even a hint of the happiness that she must be feeling. I can only assume that her feelings towards Dasadi weren’t ready to be shared. I will respect those wishes, and say nothing on the subject. It would be nice to see Piper happy though.
After we ate, we made our way back towards the fish market. Unfortunately, aside from delicious sea food snacks, we found nothing of interest.
We continued retracing our steps, until we found our way back to the Steam Kettle. At first, in the distance I saw what looked like steam pouring from the roof of the tavern. I quickly realized that the white smoke billowing from the roof was just that. Smoke. The Steam Kettle was on fire!
We rushed towards the tavern as quickly as we could. There was a crowd of people gathering in front. One of them shouted “Chellia is still inside! Somebody help her!” I didn’t think twice about it. I grabbed a bucket of water that was about to be dumped on the blaze, and instead poured it over my head. There, soaked from head to toe, I bolted through the door.
It was hot inside. Hotter than I was expecting. The bucket of water I had doused myself with would surely help in my withstanding the heat, but not for very long. I had to hurry. I shouted Chellia’s name, but got no response.
Piper must have heard my frustration. I could hear him shout from the entry way. “She’s upstairs! Wood side!”
I looked towards the staircase. It was an inferno. Rather than risk running up the stairs, I decided to bypass them. I leaped from the ground, and pulled myself up to the next floor. The flames were so close that I would have burned off any hair I had, were I not already bald.
I found Chellia in the second room I looked in. She was coughing pretty hard. I had to get her out now. I picked her up and threw her onto my shoulder. Going back downstairs wasn’t the best option, so I decided to punch my way out. With a single blow I shattered the outside wall of the room, and leapt to safety.
Aster made sure that we were both uninjured, and we were aside from my slightly singed scalp. As Chellia regained her composure, she told us that she had been instructed to stay in the building, and that she was to escort her rescuers somewhere, so that they may find the answers they seek.
I was both relieved and frustrated. I am glad I was able to bring Chellia to safety. But to learn that she is a part of this manipulation as well!? Is there anyone in this city that isn’t keeping some secret? Someone who isn’t in on whatever is going on!?
While I wasn’t happy about it, we agreed to follow Chellia. By the time my patience had almost run out, we arrived at a large building. Piper said she could hear people inside, and clicking coming from the upper level.
When we entered, we were greeted with an unexpected sight. There must have been thirty townsfolk all gathered in the room. None of them were armed. None of them looked threatening in any way. Above us, there were dozens of familiar looking birds. Stryxes. This must be it. This must be the Stryx syndicate! At last I will have my answers!
Just as I had realized that Platon was absent, one of the people spoke. Then another, and another. They spoke as if they were one person, but none of them would respond to any of our questions.
They introduced themselves as Pecahan AniAni, the daughter of MahaSuchi.
It seems as though Pecahan had heard of my fall from Palanquin. She knew I was strong, and she wanted my help to defeat her father, whom she claimed to be very evil. She knew her father was strong as well, so she decided to test me. She lured me, and my friends here, but we were not strong enough for her yet, and that we had failed her tests. She said she will be watching and will reveal herself again if she thinks we can be of any true help.
I couldn’t believe my ears. This entire trip. Everything that has happened since we left Champoor was some elaborate interview!? If she wanted to see how strong I was, Why not face me herself? Why let innocent people die for her curiosity!?
One thing is for certain, MahaSuchi may be an evil being. And I very well may try to take him down one day. But Pecahan AniAni is no saint either. She killed those guards in the prison. She forced those prisoners to fight us. She toppled the Plane, and burned down the Kettle. For all of these things and more, she will pay too.
I shouted at the room for her to show herself to us, to reveal her true form. The sound of silence was the only answer. The room had gone quiet, and none of the people would say any more.
I ran upstairs and grabbed one of the birds. Shouting at it to say something. To show me where Pecahan was. All I got was chaotic squawking and frantic flapping of the other birds as they tried to get out of my way.
Eventually, I let the bird go and rejoined my friends downstairs. They were just as shaken as I was, but I don’t think they took it as personally as I did. It was me that had lead them on this journey after all. It was my fault I had wasted everyone’s time with this quest.
We turned to leave, and as soon as we had passed the door, Chellia ran and slammed it shut. She had the door bolted before we knew what was going on.
This wouldn’t stop me however. I threw my fist at the door, ready to blow the door in, when I quickly remembered the crowd of people standing mere feet from it inside. I won’t hurt any more of Pecahan’s Pawns. I stopped my fist and instead grabbed the handle. Just as easily as I would have blown the door in, I ripped it from it’s hinges and tossed it behind me.
Inside the people were cowering as the Stryx flew out of a hole in the ceiling. Chellia was nowhere to be seen. We had been duped yet again. Chellia wasn’t some poor tavern girl, caught up in this mess. She probably was Pecahan herself! Playing us as fools!
I was so frustrated I smashed one of the pillars in the building on the way out.
“Lets get out of here” I said. The others nodded and we started to head towards the Revenge.
As we walked, Dasadi filled us in on what he knew about MahaSuchi. It seems that while we call ourselves Solars, there are other beings that walk creation with similar abilities. MahaSuchi is one of them. A lunar exalted. He wasn’t sure where we could find him, or how strong he expected him to be. He simply said that he was not to be underestimated.
We set sail for Champoor quickly, sparing no time to relive our fond experiences in Volivat. The sooner we were back in Champoor the better. It might not be the safest, or cleanest, or least corrupt city out there, but it sure beat Volivat. At least In Champoor, my enemies had faces.
Descending wood 26
We’ve been sailing for a few days now. Nothing really of note has been happening. I’ve decided that running around the ship and training isn’t doing enough to cool my rage. I’ve started swimming against the drag of the boat as a new method of distracting myself. The Captain and crew seemed against the idea, citing the dangerous creatures that live below. I assured them I could handle myself. Truth be told, I was hoping some giant fish would try to see how I taste. I could go with letting off a little steam.
Descending wood 27
Today, we dropped Dasadi off at a coastal fishing village. When we found him in the ocean, he had no recollection of how he got there, or what had happened on the weeks prior. He wanted to find out. We offered our assistance in whatever way we could manage, but he assured us that he would be fine. We told him how to find us if he ever needed help, and then left him.
As we pulled away from the dock, I could see a slight pout on Pipers face. She was sad to see him go. I wonder if they ever confessed their feelings to one another.