- 1 Chapter Four: The Ruins of Hollow
- 1.1 21st Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.2 23rd Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.3 24th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.4 26th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.5 27th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.6 28th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- 1.7 Descending Water
- 1.7.1 1st Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.2 2nd Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.3 3rd Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.4 4th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.5 5th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.6 6th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.7 7th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- 1.7.8 8th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
Chapter Four: The Ruins of Hollow
21st Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- The River Sparrow departed Great Forks early in the morning and set off towards Nexus. Before the ship had made it halfway out of the harbor, five Great Forks enforcers materialized out of thin air upon the ship and requested the captain. Lin met with them and they explained that they had been instructed to search every riverlin ship leaving the city due to a number of escaped riverlin slaves. Lin had the ship drop anchor upon their request and she scrutinized their papers to assure no foul play was involved. The agreed to allow their search and they were unable to find anything on board save for a very disgruntled and inconvenienced Sapphire Veil when they demanded she allow them to search her room. The enforcers thanked Lin for her cooperation and vanished. Aapo asked Lin if she really had anything to do with it and she proclaimed her innocence, a lie that some of her companions clearly saw through but only laughed and continued with what they were previously engaged with.
23rd Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- The evening of the 23rd day was filled with the terrible sounds of an unpracticed fiddle player as Aapo put bow to string in his attempt to master the instrument with no previous training. Ignoring the cacophony of auditory pain going above deck, Winter Duty sought out Lin and informed her that she needed to go see Weeping Peony who was crying & inconsolable, but would not say what was wrong. Lin spoke with Weeping Peony and was informed by Bronze Dusk that he had spied River Sword and Grace being intimate together. As soon as Winter Duty heard this, she marched out of the room with a stony determined look upon her face. Lin attempted to console Weeping Peony and quickly excused herself as she sought out River Sword and/or any of the others involved in the matter. She ran across Bronze Dawn and asked where the others were. She rudely dismissed Ginger, who then sought out Aapo and instructed Bronze Dawn to go and attend to Weeping Peony. Lin quickly found River Sword, Grace and Winter Duty in the mess hall. Winter Duty marched up to Grace and slapped her hard across the face and arguing ensued.
- Above deck, summoned by the terrible noise Aapo was producing, Sapphire Veil had fled her room to snatch the fiddle away from him. She proclaimed that if he truly insisted on playing the crude instrument that he would allow her to instruct him in the means for the sake of her sanity and not as a kindness towards him. Aapo, somewhat shocked, accepted the offer. At about this time they heard the resounding slap and arguing from below and both rushed below deck to see what the commotion was about. As soon as Sapphire Veil learned what had happened she demanded that Winter Duty be punished for touching her possession to the extreme of requesting that she be thrown overboard. Lin and Sapphire Veil have a heated discussion as the details of the situation come to light. Aapo dismisses himself upon realizing this was a girl matter that had nothing to do with him, snatched his fiddle back from a distracted Sapphire Veil and fled back to the safety of the deck.
- Lin and Sapphire Veil each go their different ways. Lin takes River Sword to her chambers and Sapphire Veil takes Grace to hers, each intending to interrogate their subordinate. After hearing River Sword's story, Lin lectures him about how their guests are poison and to avoid them. She gives him the choice of reconciling with his wife or else he would be put off the ship at the next port. She sends him below to remain in the room with Save Point until she sends for him again. Meanwhile Sapphire Veil gets the story from a rather unconcerned Grace.
- Later that evening Sapphire Veil approaches Lin and apologized for her behavior earlier & for Grace's actions. The two take several veiled snipes at each other, Sapphire Veil stressing her ownership of Grace as a thing and Lin ending the conversation stating that she had no concern for "things".
- Lin sets about the ship and instructs her crew that they are no longer to interact with their poisonous guests. When at last she speaks with Weeping Peony she is somewhat chastised for taking this stance, that it is impractical and not their way or the way of wisdom, but anger. Lin takes her council and reascends her directive to her crew.
24th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- Sapphire Veil sends a letter to Weeping Peony requesting a meeting and she accepts. Sapphire Veil seeks out Lin and informs her of her intent to make amends by teaching Weeping Peony in the arts of the bed chamber. Lin is flabbergasted and their conversation goes poorly. Lin seeks out Weeping Peony and discusses this meeting and her concerns, but finds that the pregnant woman is actually more open to the offer than she would have guessed. Lin warily agrees to Weeping Peony's wishes to meet with Sapphire Veil and leaves the room.
- Later in the day as Aapo attempts to "quietly" practice the fiddle on desk he notices Ginger and Copper Fang talking. He tunes into Kanji's hearing and listens in on the conversation to find them discussing the theology and rituals of Potrimpos. Aapo, having been one of Capering Puma's students, understood and appreciated the concept of learning and education, though it was never quite his strong point, smiled to himself and continued to play.
- Sapphire Veil meets with Weeping Peony and they discuss the charms & secrets of the bed chamber. Lin secretly listened in for a while, dismissing Aapo when he attempted to speak with her, until she determined that the session was not going to be harmful. She then sought out Aapo and he requested her further assistance with his reading & writing studies by asking for a book with small words he might practice with. Lin took him to her room and selected a book of riverlin legends for him to read and learn from.
26th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- Early in the morning Aapo awoke all those who would participate in yet another session of martial arts tiger warrior training and the deck was filled with crew and companions as his essence surged throughout himself and through the bodies of his students.
- About halfway through the training Aapo was annoyed to find Alabaster Mountain and Grace's attentions to his instructions faltering as they were distracted by something off deck. River Sword went to investigate the sounds of churning water and as soon as the reached the side and looked below he yelled a warning just as a river dragons head rose up above the side of the ship. On the opposite side of the ship another rose up to regard the tasty treats that had interrupted their frenzied mating season below. Three other dragons would rise from the water and attempt to crawl upon the deck of the ship to devour the meaty snacks scurrying about.
- Crimson Slate summoned Fidelis to her and soared up into the air, grabbing rigging and ropes and performing some sort of bizarre exalted macrame. She had a plan. A rather clever plan, though everyone else though she'd gone slightly loopy. Aapo bid Ginger & Thorn to get below deck and summoned forth the Red Dawn and snicker-snacked one of the serpents heads from it's body. Alabaster Mountain lunged atop the dragon that was attempting to devour River Sword and liquefied its innards with his mighty tetsubo. Sapphire Veil, having been alerted to the dragons when one of them shoved it's clawed let into her quarters stealthed up topside and then sprang forth into the battle unseen from the shadows unleashing fury upon one of the beasts gravely injuring it. Lin is scratched by a dragon as it snapped at her, but it's blow snapped her bow holster, dropping the bow into her hand allowing her to flawlessly draw it forth and within a second loose four arrows into the beast slaying it. Crimson Slate lassoed the dragon that had been injured by Sapphire Veil with the rigging she had knotted for the purpose and then the final uninjured dragon. She then let loose her sky cutter which arced through the air and split the injured dragon open ending its life. The weight of the slain dragon tugged at the one remaining and then dragged it down below the surface of the water. The battle was won and the crew quickly set to cleaning and salvaging the dragon carcasses for sale. As soon as clean up was completed, Aapo mercilessly summoned them all back on desk and lined them into formation to complete his martial arts training for the day.
27th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- The River Sparrow arrived in Nexus early in the morning and the companions traded and compiled their shared knowledge of the vast city. Upon arrival the passengers departed the ship as Lin and the crew saw it to the dry docks for overdue maintenance. Aapo, not believing that many of them would take up the offer, invited them all to come and stay in his home. To his surprise, they all accepted, so they all followed him into town. To Lin's dismay, her acceptance had meant to be a snipe at him, but Aapo being who he was missed the subtle jab entirely.
- The companions, who really need some sort of group name, arrived at Aapo's home and were greeted by his slaves Winds & River who were both very happy to see their master returned. They were given rooms and meals & once she got over the shock, River was instantly endeared of Ginger & Thorn.
- Alabaster Mountain and Loyal Ash shared some words and affection as Alabaster Mountain officially freed him from the bonds of slavery and accepted him as his true companion.
- Crimson Slate headed out to meet with Torfalen Dar to get the variety of gear they'd collected over the months appraised to sell to the Guild.
- Sapphire Veil requested Aapo's blessing in her use of Ginger to do a little information reconnaissance at the house she had once trained in - she would send Ginger with Grace to apply & was going to train Ginger how exactly to FAIL.
- Aapo remained home to enjoy a nice bath and meal as he caught up with Winds on everything that had happened in his absence.
- Crimson Slate met with Dar (the man, not the dragon clan or Norrath) and they discussed a variety of matters. Crimson Slate had the items appraised and was given information regarding getting repairs for Fidelis in Lookshy town of Nexus. After she had left, Fidelis pointed out that she had failed to notice that the man was a solar like herself. She nearly spun around to return, but decided to run to the guild and cash in the gear first. On her way there, she runs into Alabaster Mountain who had been out shopping for crafting materials.
- Sapphire Veil, disguising herself as a common servant, went out into the city to call upon one of her contacts. She inquired into the status of her old house and particularly about herself and the circumstances behind her speedy departure. She found out that she was presumed dead and that another girl, one Sapphire Harp had been made a scapegoat in her place for the events that had transpired.
- Crimson Slate and Alabaster Mountain go shopping with some of their newfound funds and purchase a number of items & materials for their use, especially Alabaster Mountain who had been studying the perfection of a number of crafting skills.
- Crimson Slate parted ways with Alabaster Mountain sending him off with his purchases back to Aapo's home. Crimson Slate visits Mr. Dar once again, reveals her identity as a solar and he reveals himself to be of the Twilight caste. She asked him to join her for a drink at a wine bar and he accepted.
- That evening Winds had booked a feast to celebrate Aapo's return home & invited a great number of guests, largely well known mercenaries and Guild members who Aapo had worked with in the past, as well as his companions. Aapo himself extended the invitation to Lin, making no mention of what sort of people would be attending.
- Many many courses of food came & went over & over, though not a scrap would be left upon the plate when it would leave Aapo's presence. Most of Lin's food met its fate at his hands as well for she spent much of the evening hooded & glowering at everyone present, especially Aapo...and his two happy - HAPPY slaves who she thought morons.
- During the feast, Iron Prestige, a Guildsman he had worked with in the past greeted him and drank in his honor. He had one of the women entertainers from Sapphire Veils' house with him and treated her as little more than a cheap common whore. Sapphire Veil was beside herself with carefully hidden rage - she and the other spoke the fans & Sapphire Veil was horrified that it would appear her house had come to prostitution. Sapphire Veil pulls Aapo aside & drills him for information about the man. Aapo offers what little he could & agreed to her request to investigate further. Sapphire Veil entered the building and spoke with the other woman after she had finished pleasing Iron Prestige. She discovered that a group called the Garnet Wolf Consortium had taken over her house due to unpaid debts. The old leader of the house had vanished and a new one had replaced her. In order to pay their debts, the sisters of the house were forced to sell their bodies or else wind up in chains.
- The night deepened and they eventually all returned to Aapo's home for sleep. River informed Aapo that Crimson Slate had been in her room the entire night & was still up reading by moonlight next to a window.
28th Day of Resplendent Wood, RY 766
- That morning Sapphire Veil spent some quality time speaking with and getting to know her new slave. She gave him money & bid him be off to purchase an appropriate gift to give to Ginger as a present for the services she was to render that day.
- Aapo visited the Guild tower, checked in & then sought out some information regarding Sapphire Veils house. He was informed that they had been in debt and were thus taken over by the Garnet Wolf Consortium who bore the proper papers. Since then they had been forced to offer not only their art, but their bodies as well by the new management. Aapo was also told that they were very concerned with an escaped girl named Omali, who had apparently stolen something of great import to them as the rewards was very generous and escalating quickly.
- Ginger and Grace enter the house to apply Ginger for membership where she performs poorly. Aapo is able to watch via Kanji who Grace put a bow on & held. He noted a great number of guards, a very great number inside the building, far more than outside - as if guarding from anyone escaping. Ginger failed miserably, a task that took a great deal out of her, more than if she had performed exceptionally well as would have normally been her way.
- Crimson Slate & Alabaster Mountain went together to Lookshy town and ran into Rueful Gander, someone she had known back in Lookshy when she lived there. They spoke of crafting & magi-tech & made proper arrangements for Fidelis to be repaired after Rueful had scrutinized him (and them) with essence viewing goggles - Alabaster Mountain would be present as they worked on Fidelis so that he could better learn some of the skills. It was not until after they had left that Crimson Slate suddenly realized her folly. With the goggles he would have seen her essence. Alabaster Mountain had claimed to be god-blooded, but she had no excuse. Rueful had known her when she was mortal & would now know that she was a non-terrestrial exalt.
- Lin sought books & was accompanied by a very eager River seeking to spend some more of Aapo's recently acquired additional cash flow after Crimson Slate had given him his share of the artifact sales. There was still space on the shelves she could fill with useful books (thus putting Aapo's often pointlessly random books he'd purchased in the past for decorative purposes). As they were about to enter a book store, Lin was grabbed and pulled aside into an alley by another of the riverlin. He informed her about the riverlin gathering that would take place during Calibration. Lin then quickly feigned a stumble back into the street & rejoined River to enter her favorite book store.
- Later in the day, Grace and an exhausted Ginger returned home and were sitting at the table with Sapphire Veil & Aapo as Grace informed them of everything she had seen & learned. Not too much beyond what they had already found out on their own, though Ginger informed them that she had seen a great many demons inside. Monkey demons, the same kind they had fought before outside of Mahanaga. Sapphire Veil thanked Ginger for all her good work & Aapo as well for having conceded to her request. She bid Ginger to look for a present in her room, a token of her appreciation. Grace & Sapphire Veil continued to talk as Aapo slipped out and popped in to visit Lin. He informed her that he had noticed on one of the Guild boards a schedule for a notorious slaver who frequently trafficked in riverlin slaves that was due to arrive in Nexus soon. Lin took this information as a taunt rather than the kind gesture Aapo had meant it to be and responded unkindly. Aapo, a little bruised by her reaction said he was just trying to help & left her to return to Sapphire Veil and Grace just in time for Ginger to burst into the room, now wide awake, with an adorable plush fox with a great likeness to Kanji, who was sniffing it in horror to discover it was made from real fox fur. Kanji's horror was escalated when she produced a dagger from within the faux animal. He retreated onto Aapo's shoulder from the demented little girl as the continued to stab & draw the dagger from his likeness. She raced off followed by Aapo's orders not to stab Thorn...or Bronze Dusk (Lin would never forgive him).
- Alabaster Mountain & Crimson Slate paid another visit to Torfalen Dar where they discussed sorcery and the incident with Rueful Gander. They debated over the best course of action, most of which involved violence, threats or blackmail of some sort. Crimson Slate would have none of it. She was determined to talk to him in person first, even if it meant risking some danger to herself. They left Mr. Dar's home and Crimson Slate bid Alabaster Mountain good night as she began to head towards Lookshy town. After a few moments, she turned around and asked Alabaster Mountain, who was attempting to mask his massive presence with a street lamp a tenth his size, why he was following her. She requested that he leave her to this task alone and left again, this time alone save for Fidelis.
- Crimson Slate and Fidelis debated on the best course of action. Crimson Slate would only settle for talking to Rueful before considering any other option, but she did agree to wait for him outside of Lookshy town, where she could approach him away from the guardians' whose armor granted them essence sight as well. She spotted and joined him on his walk home. They discussed the matter and he made it very clear that he was not interested in any sort of trouble, just as she was not & that in this interest not a word from him about the subject would be heard by anyone else. She was providing him money & a chance to work on something of great interest, which is all he wanted from her. Her secret out to him she asked if he would be able to repair the device upon her cloak as well & he agreed to do so while he was at home that night.
- That night Sapphire Veil was awoken by a sudden severe chill in her room. Grace was shivering but otherwise unresponsive no matter how hard she tried to wake her. Then the apparition of her old teacher, the Jewel Matron Opal, appeared to her - a visage of terrible violence. The ghost pleaded for her aid in discovering the truth behind the Garnet Wolf Consortium's take over of the house. She told her that documents had been forged & herself murdered. She bid Sapphire Veil to find Omali, for she suspected the girl possessed proof to show the Consortium's claims were a lie. But that the girl had passed beyond her senses into the wyld twisted region of the Fire Wander. And then the ghost was gone leaving Sapphire Veil alone with her sleeping entourage and an icy iron resolve to save her house...and make it her own.
1st Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- While at breakfast Sapphire Veil informed everyone of her previous night's visitation and requested their aid in ridding the House of Gems of the Garnet Wolf Consortium that had ursurped it. While they discussed the matter, Winds announced that the Ebon Mistress was in the foyer seeking to meet with them all. She was shown into the dining room and given Aapo's seat. She revealed that she had been researching the House of Gems and the Garnet Wolf Consortium per Aapo's request (which gained him quite a few stares and glares, especially from Sapphire Veil). She stated that it is a relatively new organization only recently recognized by the Guild and that its roots lie in a group called the Wolves of the Red Sand, a martial mercenary group from the south with an unsavory reputation & well known to make use of monkey demons. They had joined up with the new Garnet Mistress and formed the Coalition just prior to the take over of the House of Gems. She had also discovered that the organization had been after the child Omali even before they had taken over the House of Gems.
- Aapo thanked her for her assistance and she asked if he had any knowledge whether or not the entertainer known as <insert name here> would be performing within the city. With a quick glance at Sapphire Veil, who was still glaring at him over her pouridge bowl, he stated that he wasn't sure - that she was supposed to be performing at the House of Gems, but with it in it's current state he could not say.
- No sooner than the Ebon Midwife had left the room the companions exploded into a variety of questions, which led to arguments over having any associations with the Ebon Midwife, Aapo's defense of her, Crimson Slate's adamant stance that she was evil, and some personal jabs were made by more than a few at each others morality & integrity. Following the turmoil Sapphire Veil thanked Aapo for having done as she'd asked, though not necessarily in the way she might have expected..or wanted. The companions, now somewhat raw & grumpy, turned their focus on the matter at hand. They needed to find the girl first thing, which meant entering the chaos of the Fire Wander. They were going to visit Torfalen Dar to find out if he had any suggestions on a course of action and whether or not he possessed any charms capable of aiding them against the wyld energies. As they finalized their plans, Aapo & Alabaster Mountain made a quick escape under cover of a hand job quickie, so that Alabaster could ask Aapo a question concerning a remark he had made in the argument with Crimson Slate about having heard something that Alabaster knew he had not been there for. Aapo admitted that he was able to share Kanji's senses. They then made good on their excuse for leaving the conversation and returned just in time for everyone to depart.
- The solars arrived at Torfalen Dar's home and no sooner had he opened his door and looked upon them all, he made excuses to his servants for his departure and went back with them to Aapo's home. Aftear hearing of thier plan and questions, he admitted that he indeed possessed charms capable of holding back the wyld energies, but that he would have to travel with them, a prospect that visibly excited him and he was more than happy to agree to go with them when asked.
- The six solars left Aapo's home and headed towards Fire Wander, though they were momentarily diverted as Aapo started wandering in another direction, pulled by forces he could not fully understand. It led him to a tower made entirely of skulls. He had a flash of memory...he had fought here once, Crimson Morning had fought here once, against the terrestials. He was weidling a terrible axe that drank in their blood and sent them to the underworld by the dozens. And then he was back, Aapo again, but there was a terribly strong tug at his soul. There was something inside the tower, something that was his, that he needed - that needed him. The tower reacted to his presence, the skulls of the structure would watch him with the light of the sun within each socket. Aapo resisted the pull, first thing first, they had to rescue the girl from Fire Wander. This mystery would wait until they returned, though it continued to haunt his thoughts all the time after he'd wandered off.
- Torfalen Dar created a bubble of stable creation around them all and they entered the Fire Wander, which appeared as a great deal of smoke and fire all aroudn them. It was difficult to see through, though after some tests, Aapo & Alabaster Mountain stepped out into it and found it easier to see while within, and that it was not smoke at all. If anything it was...sterile. Then their orihalcum burst into flames. They both lept back into the bubble and the metal stopped burning, though their other possessions were not entirley unharmed. They wandered in the smoke for a short time until they came across the corpses of slain demon monkeys.
- Then there were arrows shot amongst them and a voice in the gloom called for them to identify themselves. They answered and the voice asked for permission to enter their "adorable" little bubble. They agreed and were soon greeted in person by the very charismatic, "King of Fire Wander", who was one of the fae. He spoke to them of his realm and agreed without cost to escort them to the tunnels that would lead them down into the old ruins of Hollow below, which is where the girl child and her pursuers had gone. He showed them a few sights of his realm, including the massive domed structure capped with orihalcum, the source of the largest plume of flame that could be seen even outside the region. And then they were arrived at the tunnel he had spoken of. As a token of their appreication, he requested they give him Torfalen Dar, for he was truly curious of him and his curiosu bubble. They regretfully declined the request and bid him fare well and descended below.
- Once below the solars found themselves no longer surrounded by the wyld energies and Torfalen Dar was able to drop the bubble he'd been maintaining. They were in some sort of First Age tunnel. Shortly after arriving they found the spirit of an old man, the memory of his mind fading, but the sight of Omali being pursued by the Garnet Wolves had somehow triggered this shade from the First Age and he wept for her as he surely had wept for the loss of his own daughter so very long ago. As soon as his tale was told, he faded away leaving the tunnels eerily quiet. The solars began to explore the area when suddenly they were attacked by monkey demons and two of the Garnet Wolf soldiers who had been hiding above them. As they fell upon them from above, Aapo cleaved the first man in half on his descent.
- The battle was brief and bloody, though rather dramatic & visually stunning as Sapphire Veil had invented yet another new & interesting way of using her anima in a charm combo to deceive and delight an onlookers (unless they were those who had their heads severed in the process), but the foes of the Solars were defeated, though during the battle Lin's use of a defensive charm had triggered some sort of First Age security system. Serpentine devices rose up from the floor below her and surrounded her and then descended back into the floor to vanish with her. The Solars were unable to figure out what had happened or what her fate was. Aapo hacked at the tiled floor for a while, but barely chipped off some bits of stone.
- Crimson Slate had a flash of memory or recognition or something and suddenly realized that the Garnet Wolf Consortium was tied in with Sondok...stand in doorways or something - the evil demon chick from way back when the Solar were looting Crimson Slate's previous self's tomb and her buddies. So all of this was happening because SHE (not the other Solars who are totally innocent) freed Sondok into the world. Bad Crimson Slate, bad!
- Then suddenly they heard a high pitched girlie scream echoing from the distance. Alabaster Mountain kicked in his super speed and carried Crimson Slate and Sapphire Veil to the edge of a large chamber where a little girl had climbed up atop an obelisk and was surrounded by monkey demons and Garnet Wolf soldiers who seemed more intent on having fun taunting her at the moment than actually apprehending her, which they could have already easily done. Alabaster Mountain dropped (hurled) them off & went back and fetched Aapo & Torfalen Dar and returned as the girls had lept into action, Sapphire Veil gliding across the way trailing silk and streamers behind her and Crimson Slate riding upon her sky cutter like an glittering aerial surfboard. Alabaster joined the battle and hurled Aapo like an overweight javelin into the fray while Torfalen Dar vanished into the shadows where razor sharp blades would erupt at his foes. Within seconds the foes were dead and the little girl had been plucked from atop the obelisk by Aapo & placed into Crimson Slate's hands (who immediately looked bewildered by this development, so Sapphire Veil quickly snatched her up and began to attempt to soothe her).
- Before they had as much as had a moment to figure out what was going on the sound of applause drew their attention to some horribly, yet fantastically garbed man standing on a landing a level above them. He began talking about this or that, but Aapo interrupted him by asking who he was. He pointed at the slaughtered bodies around them and said that those were his and that he was - yeah, that was enough talking, he needed to die and Aapo was quite content to summon forth the Red Dawn to hurtle across the distance between them slashing at him with his essence axe. The man looked momentarily taken aback, but not for long. Within a second he had distance, largely removed Alabaster Mountain's neck and jaw for having gotten in his path and ineffectively landed two attacks on Aapo, though his defensive charm had protected him. Instead of frustrating the man, this excited him visibly. Aapo knew that in their current condition they would not be able to defeat him having seen what he had just done to Alabaster Mountain and he himself was nearly out of essence for the fight. He swallowed his pride, looked at the others and said "Run". Then Aapo activated his jump charm and began to bound deeper & deeper into the unknown tunnel systems while being pursued by the strange man surrounded by his creepy nauseous green aura who ran nearly as fast as Aapo was jumping. But it worked. He'd lead him away from the others and the girl.
- The others debated on what to do, but finally decided that they needed to get the girl to safety. They question the child as they moved along and with Torfalen Dar's help they began their way through the Firewander. Once out, two planned to return to the tunnel systems to wait for Aapo's return - or to find his body if need be.
- Aapo was running out of essence, only seconds remained before he would find himself left powerless to fight his new foe. He had hoped to find another point to access the surface & to request aid from the King of Firewander if possible to escape, but it seemed more likely that he would not find it. Then he found a way out into an old cellar of a building. When he came out he found himself very close to the tower of bone that had drawn him to it earlier. He wasted no time and spent the last of his essence to hurtle across the way directly into the tower entrance...and did NOT disintegrate. The strange man stopped and shunned the solar light from the tower, which had entirely lit up as soon as Aapo entered. The man grabbed a cloak off a nearby commoner and vanished into the curious crowd that was now starting form outside the forbidden tower.
- Within the tower Aapo was confronted by his own previous self. A withered cadaver clinging to a massive axe, the Grim Cleaver of Massacres. He knew it. He remembered. It was his. Always was his, awaiting him to reclaim it. So he did. And it was good. Very good indeed.
- Aapo waltzed out of the tower, grinning with his new toy in hand. The crowd parted before him staring in awe. Then the tower of bone shuddered and turned to bone dust, the cloud spreading over a goodly distance and covering everything and everyone in white dust. Aapo took to walking a wee bit faster and sat down at the edge of Firewander to hopefully find his friends soon.
- The others made it out of Firewander...and found Aapo waiting for them already. They each traded stories and decided that Aapo's home with Crimson Slate's wards would be the best place to stay the night. Upon arriving there, Aapo sent Winds & River away with Ginger & Thorn to stay someplace else in case there was danger he wanted them away.
- That night Aapo visited the Ebon Midwife at her home to discuss the events of the day and the strange man. While there he also met the Ambassador of Sijan, who turned out to also be a Solar. Very interesting. The Ebon Midwife stated that she did not know of such a creature, but that she would inquire of her sources for any information that may prove useful.
- That night Aapo kept watch atop his home in the garden chatting with startled pigeon while the others slept below....and Lin...wherever she was.
- Nexus pigeons really have little of interest to back up a very long conversation FYI.
2nd Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- To say the day started poorly for the companions would be a gross understatemet. Shortly after a mysterious godly voice announced to the multiverse, "AJ, DO YOUR ROLL", that everyone would immediately then forget hearing (except for whoever this mysterious AJ person is), Aapo & Sapphire Veil found themselves in a conversation on the roof of his home. When Aapo told Sapphire Veil that he had visited the Ebon Midwife something in her mind snapped, rendering her cold, emotionless & without her usual social etiquettes, however few she typically reserved for Aapo in the first place. She insulted his intelligence yet again, but this time something went wrong. Just as the switch in Sapphire Veils mind had been switched, so too did something inside Aapo, but in a much more vulgar manner. As the madness gripped both of them on the rooftop, Aapo's mind was shoved to the side and he was the Scarlet Morning again in this pathetic little place filled with even more disgusting mortals going about their sad little lives. Aapo shoved past Sapphire Veil and summoned forth his Grim Cleaver of Massacres and from atop his home began to hurl the axe through the air at the citizens of Nexus below & calling it back to hand only to release it again, killing swaths of people in the busy streets with each throw the entire time laughing wildly with his nine tailed fox anima roaring about him.
- Crimson Slate awoke suddenly to the sounds of screams & terror from outside her window. She quickly met up with Alabaster Mountain in the hallway after he'd just learned what was happening. Crimson Slate needed only seconds to decide that it was in their best interest to vacate the area & leave Aapo to deal with his problem before the dragged them down with him, or worse, turned his madness upon them as well. Crimson Slate quickly packed her things & departed. Alabaster Mountain found Sapphire Veil interrogating the terrified Omali child, brandishing a hot poker about with intent to torture her with it. He took the girl and left to follow Crimson Slate.
- After the citizens in the area had all been slain or fled, the city malitia were flooding into the area. Aapo lept down from the roof and met them, clearving through their ranks as if they had been made of straw. Sapphire Veil ran up behind him while lecturing him about the foolishness of his actions. Seeing that he was entirely focused on the massacre at hand and ignoring her, she slapped him in the face. Aapo paused a moment and then turned his fury upon her. Sapphire Veil having just seen the Ebon Midwife open a nearby doorway & beckon her to follow, dashed through the entrance...and...rippled to somewhere else. Ebon Midwife instructed her to stand where Aapo could see her & lure him through the portal she'd just stepped through. The plan worked, Aapo charged through in pursuit of Sapphire Veil and then suddenly found himself in the Realm of the Dead with Sapphire Veil and the Ebon Midwife. He also found his rage had been left in Nexus and his wits returned to him.
- Crimson Slate and Alabaster Mountain (with Loyal Ash & Omali) picked up Fidelis and headed towards the docks where they saw that Lin's ship was already under investigation. They turned & made their way to Torfalen Dar and informed him of what had happened. They discuss their plans for departure from the city and then summon Taruzake to lead them to Kanji, Ginger, Thorn and Aapo's servants Winds & River.
- Aapo & Ebon Midwife step aside for Sapphire Veil to converse with a quartet of little ghost girls who keep following her about. After deciding on a plan to construct a false corpse of Aapo to leave behind, Ebon summons a servant to deliver a message from Aapo to Winds, instructing him to put into action Aapo's will, consolidate all his accounts, liquidate his Nexus resources and for him, River & Thorn to travel to Great Forks and set up there. He would return to them, under a different name, when he could. In the meantime, Ebon Midwife agrees to lead Aapo & Sapphire Veil through the Labyrinth beneath Death to Lookshy.
- Crimson Slate & Alabaster Mountain find the others at the inn. Ginger holding a near comatose Kanji informs them that Kanji insists that Aapo is dead. Then Ebon Midwife's servant arrives and informs them of what had happened & delivers Aapo's message to Winds and informs the others that Aapo & Sapphire Veil will meet them in Lookshy.
- Ebon Midwife, Sapphire Veil & Aapo return briefly to the world of the living inside Torfalen Dar's home where they startle a servant who fetches her master. Torfalen Dar very cautiously appears in a doorway (having just been told Aapo had been on a killing spree) and speaks with Aapo, who requests some scissors, razor, dyes and clean clothes. Torfalen fetches these things and while Aapo goes about changing his appearance & clothes, the door to the lab where they had emerged is closed off while Sapphire Veil "pays" Ebon Midwife for her assitance. Twice. With nekkid lesbo shagging. Torfalen spies this through a false mirror into the room & informs Aapo. While they get their thing on, Aapo communicates to Crimson Slate via Kanji-gram their location & plan.
- Crimson Slate, Alabaster Mountain, Ginger, Loyal Ash & Omali leave the inn (the monk with them to remain with Thorn and the othes as their protection) and go in search of Masks that would disguise them for their escape. They head into Lookshy Town adn run into Oolonna, an old friend of Crimson Slate's mother and her teacher from the academy days. They go to her home and discuss the situation. When Crimson Slate outs herself as an anathema, Oolonna is horror struck, but says that now is not the time to speak of such things. While they discuss their needs, another man enters & before introductions can be made, he immediately recognizes Alabster Mountain and Loyal Ash who he'd had a fourway with not so long ago in Great Forks. Within moments, they find themselves with a flight booked on an airship to Lookshy. Oolonna does not entirely look pleased with this outcome, but plans to go with them and have a much more in depth discussion before they ever set feet upon Lookshy territory.
- Aapo (now dressed as a servant with a bushy brown mustache & soul patch & shaved head) waits for the Ebon Midwife & Sapphire Veil to finish playing naked twister & dress. Then they gather up Grace & Veridian Spider (who had both fled when Aapo went berzerk), thank Torfalen Dar & return to Death where they enter the depths of the Labyrinth (where they start getting an occuult tutorial montage from Ebon Midwife).
- Ebon Midwife leads Sapphire Veil & Aapo through the Labyrinth, a dark & terrible realm caught between the Realm of the Dead and Oblivion, which can be "seen" through the disturbingly numerous cracks in the walls & floors (which are made of souls FYI). Shortly after entering, Ebon Midwife introduced two individuals that had been trailing them...being at this point little more than background charactes, rangers of the labyrinth really, their real names have been left out. Instead we shall call them Swifty & Bandaid-Man. They had been summoned by the Ebon Midwife to scout out a perimeter around their travels to warn of any dangers that might appear.
3rd Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- That "morning" in the Labyrinth, Sapphire Veil awoke...either from a nightmare or into another one she was not really sure. But her senses & self control that had deserted her the previous day in Nexus had been returned to her in her sleep & the reality that greeted her was not a kindly one. Sapphire Veil wished to convince herself that the Ebon Midwife had somehow worked some power over her, though she knew it to be untrue. She confronted Aapo & then the Ebon Midwife & slapped her. She then retreated to where Grace was, hugged her to a great deal of shock from her retainer, and sulked quietly. They departed their camp and continued their journey through the dark & dismal realm.
- Meanwhile Crimson Slate, Alabaster Mountain, Loyal Ash, Ginger & Fidelis (in cargo poor guy) were away upon an airship from Nexus bound to Lookshy. A storm was brewing outside when Oolonna entered their room and sat down. She wished to discuss their intentions in Lookshy and about their claim of being anathema. She made it clear that if she was not left convinced at the close of the conversation, there would more than likely be a great deal of violence and bloodshed that would be most unfortunate. They tell her of the Solar exalted and their troubles, of the men in black, which she identifies as the Black Phalanx. She states that they are a dragonblood group who had stolen a large airship about 120 years ago called the Midnight Hunter (tempest class ship). They discuss their intentions in Lookshy and after som discussion are able to convince her that they pose no ill intent. She states that she will allow them to land in Lookshy, but that so long as they are there they would stay in her home and only be allowed out into the city with a pass bearing escourt.
4th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- The companions in the Labyrinth continued their journey. At one point Bandaid-Man appeared to Sapphire Veil and told her that if she ever struck the Ebon Midwife again he would kill her. Seconds after the words had left his mouth, Swifty appeared from the shadows behind him with a blade to his throat, apologizing to Sapphire Veil for his discourteous manner and that it would not happen again. He summoned his companion to travel with him to scout and discuss some things that needed discussing. Later on Ebon Midwife apologized to Sapphire Veil for his actions as well.
- That night after everyone had gone to sleep save for Aapo who had found he was unable to sleep well in this place, Sapphire Veil, with a grim look to her eyes, began to wander off - she wished to be away from all of this & the Ebon Midwife...even if that mean losing herself forever in the Labyrinth or perhaps Oblivion beyond. Aapo stopped her and they discussed the matter, of what they both had done the previous day & that it was done & in the past. That they both had things to do and somehow actually managed to talk her out of whatever it was she was seeking to do. Sapphire Veil laid down with Grace & Viridian Spider and tried to sleep.
- Two dimensions away & far in the sky, the others are met by a rather unexpected surprise when they spy ship guards dragging a very confused looking Torfalen Dar away to the brig. Crimson Slate & Alabaster Mountain speak up for him. Oolonna takes their story about him & then quenstions him, comparing answers. She assures that he should be released once they dock & he is taken to the police & his trespass recorded. Shortly after this they see Looksky upon the horizon and the ship begins docking procedures with the great sky tower.
- Back in the depths below Death, Swifty & Bandaid-Man appear & inform the Ebon Midwife that a terrible undead barbarian horde of some repute had been spotted and were headed this way. Ebon Midwife & Bandaid-Man remain in the Labyrinth to lead the horde astray while Swify would lead the others back to the Realm of the Dead & then into the borders of the Shadowlands just near Lookshy. The run with him and as they depart the Labyrinth and race for the exit into the Shadowland, they spy the barbarian leader and his minions. A shiver runs up Aapo's spine as he looks into the face of his former life, at Scarlet Morning weilding a negative image of his own axe, crawling up before an endless horde of all the dead who had ever fallen to his wrath. They flee back into the warmth of the living realm. Swifty later informs them that the Ebon Midwife had been gravely wounded defending them & that she was being taken back to Great Forks to heal. He would be remaing with them in Lookshy, though he then vanished.
- Both groups are reuinted in Lookshy, Torfalen Dar collected & they all meet up at Oolonna's home. Torfalen Dar informed them that he had fled his home when he had been tipped that people were coming to collect & question him. He had stowed away on the airship in order to escape & follow the others. Ginger summons up a sad little snake that proves to be less than useful, but he is followed by a snake god, the one that Potrimpos had sent them to see about a batman infested manse (I'm Batman). He informed them that the snake horde that had been called to this area had left...assumably to follow Potrimpos who had been moved once again. /sigh The snake god stated that he would put feelers out & see if he could find out which way Potrimpos had been moved.
- They all go to sleep unsure of what the next day would bring...well save for Crimson Slate who had all sorts of plans in her little red head.
5th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- The party awakens & while breaking their fast in Oolonna's home discuss their plans.
- Aapo plans to take Ginger & Omali with him around the town to visit inns, pubs & bars & hand out copies of the recipe for Taruzake's wine. He gets one small, plump & meek little servant girl with a passport to travel with him.
- Sapphire Veil, Grace & Veridian Spider plan to seek out & haunt the entertainment hotspots, where they will sew words & interest of the mysterious performer and possibly arrange a performance. A very eager passport wielding servant presents himself to her (unknown to everyone else, it was Swifty in disguise).
- Crimson Slate & Alabaster Mountain head out to the school for sorcery where she seeks to talk with one of her prior professors. They get a passport bearing servant as well.
- Crimson Slate & Alabaster Mountain went to the school and met her old professor. They launched into a rather long & complicated discussion that possessed a rather great emotional weight to it. The professor tries to convince her that she should abandon this foolish & dangerous quest that is more likely to get her killed & put her astonishing power & knowledge & ability to work for the greater good of Lookshy. Crimson Slate is conflicted - she had hoped to receive encouragement to pursue what she knew she must finish, but instead she found a tug of war over her deepest intimacies. Eventually they left his office & no sooner than his door had closed, she turned to Alabaster Mountain and began to cry, guild eating at her.
- Eventually Aapo returns home with two drunken children and a passed out servant (who had misplaced her passport while drunk (into Aapo's pocket)). He hears Crimson Slate weeping in her room & opts to pretend not to have heard anything. Alabaster Mountain goes to comfort her and Crimson Slate tells him her story. Then Sapphire Veil returns home with her crew & once Aapo tells her about Crimson Slate she goes to console & talk to her. While away, Swifty, Alabaster Mountain, Aapo & Grace have a rather in depths & insightful conversation as Grace is empowered by the tea served to her by Swifty.
- Sapphire Veil assembled everyone together, save for Crimson Slate who wished to keep to herself for a while. She announced that it had to end, the secrets & veiled pasts. That it was time for them all to start trusting each other & in order to do that they must all disclose their pasts.
- Aapo goes and convinces Crimson Slate to join them in their sharing session. She agrees, but brings her booze. And then it begins. Sapphire Veil is the first to go & shares her tearful & traumatic past. Then Alabaster Mountain reiterates his past since Swifty was not there for his family drama as the others had been. Aapo shares his rather "normal" life before his exaltation & admits to having suffered from the fit of rage once before when he'd exalted. Crimson Slate shares her story about her parents, her mothers hardships & death & her troubles with her own people up to her exaltation when she first encoutnered the First Age horse artifact that must have triggered past life memories of Fidelis. As everyones attention then turned to Swifty, he requested that Grace & Veridian Spider share, so they did, telling of their enslaved lives until they had met the companions. Then Swifty shared his story, speaking of his scavenger lord lover & his tragic death at his hands while being possessed by a demon & his resurrection by the Death Lord.
- With the sharing session concluded & a better understanding between everyone, Aapo & Swifty retired to shag, soon joined by Alabaster Mountain & Loyal Ash for a foursome.
- A servant then appears to the women with a message from Goshun, Crimson Slate's husband, that he is waiting at the fountain to see her. Crimson Slate makes haste & leaves with Grace shadowing her.
- Crimson Slate meets Goshun at a fountain & immediately sees that he had been riding hard to get here. He warns her that word of her arrival had already reached Seleran & informs her that they have eyes & ears around Leaping Cricket.
- Meanwhile, Grace had followed Crimson Slate, who saw her, but chose to ignore her. Grace then doubled back & swapped places with Sapphire Veil who disgused herself as Grace and returned to the fountain & served tea. Crimson Slate was at that point too involved in the conversation to note the ruse. Sapphire "Grace" Veil served them tea & then stepped back to give them their privacy, but not so far away that she could not hear every word.
- Goshun states that he had left Seleran three days ago and warns her that there is a bounty on her head. The <insert bitch family here> had reported her as a horse theif and when she did not show to defend herself she was deemed guilty. He states that the bounty is known throughout Marukani and Lookshy.
- Then suddenly they are made aware of two men standing atop the walls of the park who ignite into flames as they prepare to attack.
- The battle happened in a matter of seconds. One of the fire aspected jumped down & killed Goshun as he thanked him for leading them to her. Two wood aspected dragonblooded made themselves known as they attacked through the surrounding hedges. Suddenly a window in the house shattered as three very naked exalts launched themselves into battle. Aapo summoned his axe from Elsewhere in midleap and released his anima in a devastating attack that oblitereated the other fire aspected that was still standing upon the wall. Crimson Slate put aside her horror at what had just befallen her husband and put her fury into an attack that left the other fire aspected spalttered upon the hedges where the two wood aspected were obscured. Swifty attacked & was attacked and badly injured having no armor...or clothes for that matter. Alabaster Mountain appeared from the window in a shimmering rain of cascading lube that glistened prettily as he slammed his tetsubo into one of the wood aspected, knowing him immediately into unconsciousness. Sapphire Veil discarded her Grace disguise shaping the servant garments with her charms into a noose that she used to capture & bind the other wood aspect.
Aapo smashed the captured wood aspect into a wall until he was as unconscious as the other.
- Then, suddenly, guards, hundreds of them! The solars were surrounded and from a balcony above Oolonna and a dragonblooded man they'd not met appeared and announced that they were to allow themselves to be taken into custody so that the circumstances could be investigated. The companions were all bound with silken cords, but then suddenly each of them had a collar of First Age design snapped around their necks, immediatley draining them of all essence. Aapo rembered these collars all too well from his previous life. They were marched into separate cells in a dungeon while Kanji, Omali & Ginger were escorted to a windowless room.
- When reminded of her husbands death by Aapo asking who he had been, she goes into hysterical fits, crying & beating herself silly while demanding she be strong. Sapphire Veil tries to calm her from her cell with words & song, while Aapo awkwardly leaves the question alone.
6th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- They all remain prisoners with guards that may has well have been mute, even ignoring Aapo's repeated request for pants. Aapo Kanji-grams to Ginger & tells her to contact the snakes & request protection in case she needs it. Omali informs them that she possesses the power to take the three of them to Nexus. Aapo instructs them not to do this yet, but to be prepared if he instructs them to.
- The solars spend their time in the cells, singing, praying, performing dark & bloody divinations, sulking or just biding their time. The adult mortals, Grace, Loyal Ash, the monk & Veridian Spider are brought down & put into cells & it's immediately obvious that they had been tortured. Eventually they admit to having undergone some sort of charm-based mental interrogation that had left them all very shaken. Alabaster Mountain performs a prayer to the Unconquered Sun that somehow allows them all a tiny trickle of essence, but only a tiny amount. Sapphire Veil calms & inspires everyone with a song, especially the mortals who were in dire need of such comforting and focus. And Swifty sought answers from below and received a hint that would aid them regarding a perfected musical note, one that Sapphire Veil was familiar with and capable of.
7th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- Everyone spends yet another day rotting in their cells, obviously being softened up for upcoming interrogation. Crimson Slate remains resolute in her belief that justice would prevail. The others doubts begin to gain more & more footage.
8th Day of Descending Wood, RY 766
- The house guards return to the dungeon & place the two captured wood aspected into the cell where the mortals had been kept & promise to move the mortals to a more comfortable room. They also bring clothes to the three naked captives. They are soon followed by Oolonna & the Uptight Man who they had seen with her after the battle in the garden. He informs them that they are to be escorted to be trialed. And then things start to go down hill for Aapo.
- They are led by the collars holding them powerless (though not as powerless as thought to be thanks to Alabaster's prayer) towards an airship. The eerie similarity to Aapo's dream of his First Age life was driving a cold spike up his spine. They were marched onto the airship and pushed up against the interior hulls. And then the moment their collars CLACKED into place on the hull, that was all it was. Aapo once again took a backseat as something or someone else took the reigns of his life. He smiled as his axe flashed into existance and with one terrible circular stroke, he'd killed his four guards. He turned to see who was next to find the Uptight Man glowering at him. And then, one, two, three mighty essence driven punches to the face, and Aapo was unconscious. The other prisoners looked on in confused horror as the Uptight Man reached down & plucked Aapo's axe from the ground & carried it away. More guards moved in and had him securely shacked, arms, legs & collar, to the floor.
- Just as soon as unconsciousness took him, Kanji scribbled out an order for Omali to take them. She picked Kanji up, took Ginger by the hand and then there was an audible pop as air rushed in to fill the space where there were no longer three individuals.
- When Aapo awoke, he immediately summoned forth his axe. It tore through interior walls into his hand where he immediatley sent it away to Elsewhere. A very angry Uptight Man appeared and asked the guards what had happened. Those who spoke truthfully were sent away with instructions to be flogged for such a stupid story. He knelt down to speak into Aapo's ear, stating that he did not know how he did that, but that he was going to find out how he did that and why he had murdered his son. He also stated to everyone that he did not know why, but that he intended to find out why one of his household had been housing anathema in his home. Oolonna standing at his side looked suddenly ill.
- Not knowing entirely why, Sapphire Veil sang out the perfected note that Swifty had spoken of from his divination. The Uptight Man and their guards turned to look at her in confusion. She flatly stated that she sings when nervous. But the others felt it. Whatever power the collars had over them had just been lost and their essence was returning to them.
First off, let me point out that it has been some time since this record of my companions journey has been updated. But upon reviewing the notes I had made in my little journal I noticed that I had missed an entry based upon what my foolish Aapo dictated to me after we were reunited following his trial. Thus the details of this entry will be rather vague & blurry as they are sadly based on Aapo's memory and attention to detail. In other words it's going to be a short list of action based circumstances as all of what must have been an amazing dialog to have heard between the others during their trial he had summarized as "flowery words". And so I grieve this lost piece of history & make notation based on what he told me.
- The companions, now secretly regaining essence again, were removed from the airship and led into more cells (wherein Aapo was "mounted" upon the walls). The earth aspected guards separated Alabaster Mountain and Swifty with a wall of earth following Alabaster Mountain feigning to assault Swifty in hopes of something no one else was quite able to comprehend based on his actions.
- Oolonna entered the cells and spoke with Crimson Slate. She says her peace and that she shall voice her opinion that the others are innocent but wills stand by her opinion now that Aapo should be executed for his crimes. She says goodbye & leaves.
- Three hours later, Swifty is assaulted by a vision given to him from the "dark". He discusses it with the others and Alabaster Mountain is able to translate the message - it's a hint about the now inactive collars; charms may be used unnoticed as the essence use will go unseen in the "fog" of the collars loud essence signature.
- Crimson Slate has a chat with one of the guards and then the Uptight Man comes and escourts them to a very large chamber to sit before the Trumiel.
- Per a sad account of the conversation from Aapo, who your humble record keeper is pretty sure probably fell asleep during the proceedings, "lots of talk" was had and his companions used many "flowery words". Aapo remained largely silent the entire time in the hopes of drawing as little attention to himself as possible.
- In the end, the Trumiel let them all go.
- They leave in a carriage that takes a detour into an alley where three mystery dragonbloods speak to the companions of the Black Phalanx & that they wish to see them destroyed. They provide a warehouse location that they suspect to be a base of operations for the organization. When asked of the serpent infestation they state that a storm had passed, going northeast twoards Grey Falls, and that the snakes left with it. The warehosue is owned by a man named Ghenz Amalan.
- Plans are made for the companions to leave the next morning and travel via the Labyrinth again to Nexus where they will nab Omali, Ginger & Kanji, head to Sijan and then on to Grey Falls.
- That night, there is a party and Sapphire Veil performs.