“Lucy, what did I tell you about peeking in on the adults private meetings?” – Hugo, on finding her sneaking into their council with the Bull
“That I should sneak in and tell you everything that they say” – Lucy, in response
“Somewhere, Isaac Newton is crying” – Mark
It took Hugo a over full day to calm down before any of the Circle would let him out of confinement. About eighteen hours after they got back to Denandsor, he had dropped into deep meditation, and six hours later Aunn checked on him to see if he had come back down to Creation. Hugo told him that he knew that everything he had done and said the previous day were wrong, but they had felt right, and he had known he was right on a scale he’d never felt before. The fact that he’d said he wanted to depose the Empress and restore the Solar Deliberative genuinely terrified Hugo, since it clashed with everything he believed in, but had felt so correct when he’d said it.
Hugo’s discussions with the Circle were interrupted by the arrival of the Bull. After exchanging pleasantries, they reach a conference room containing nothing but the Celestial Exalted. Yurgen mentions that getting a ‘need you here now’ message from this Circle has had him more than a little worried. Hugo tells them that they have more pressing concerns – namely, that he, in a moment of what he hopes was insanity, he’d made an unprovoked attack on a diplomatic envoy of the Mask of Winters. Yurgen looked right at Hugo and asked just what the hell he’d been thinking, which Hugo responded he didn’t know. He told them they’d killed five Deathknights and two Scales worth of undead shock troops.
Yurgen wasn’t sorry about the dead troops, but was concerned about the implications. Then Callas dropped a massive shock on Yurgen and Hugo when she said that one of the Sky Berserkers had picked up one of the Deathknight’s Exaltations and had agreed to be restrained. Hugo looked over at them dumbstruck as Callas let the Deathknight out of her Staff, much as she did with Nightbird. Bernard, the Abyssal in question, immediately dropped to a knee and swore continuing fealty to the Bull. He then denounced the Deathlords’ desire to bring about Oblivion at visible effort to himself. Yurgen accepted his man’s word at face value, especially when he revealed that he had not met his Deathlord or had his naming ceremony. The Circle speculated that Callas’s sorcery probably had something to do with that. Hugo was mistrustful, but he saw that Bernard was trying not to let his Exaltation change his views on life. He saw a lot of himself in the young Sky Berserker, and decided that he would help the young Exalt. He offers to attempt to cleanse Bernard’s Exaltation much as he intends to cleanse Lisara’s. Bernard thanks him and says that he will accept it, but for now he feels that being able to hear the Whispers may prove more important than saving his soul. He asks Hugo to wait, and the Immaculate grudgingly agrees.
The next subject brought up was the black Abyssal Hearthstone they had discovered at the battle site. Callas went to retrieve it, only to discover it was missing. She looked up frantically, with both herself and Hugo activating their Essence sights.
Hugo spotted Lucy in the room, hiding using the invisibility charm he’d taught her as part of her Air Dragon Style training. Hugo chastised her before she reminded him that both he’d taught her the charm and had asked her to use it to eavesdrop on the others. She mentioned that she had the stone and that it had talked to her. That second tidbit got heart rates pumping. Hugo asked who, and she said it was someone who seemed nice and wanted to meet her in person named the Dragon. The room collectively cursed as they realized she’d been talking to the Ebon Dragon. She said that Hugo and Masaru had been teaching her that the Dragons were good and was confused. Hugo and Masaru quickly reminded her they meant the Immaculate Dragons, and this was the man who had hurt her mother.
Lucy quickly decided she didn’t like him or want to meet him. Callas then asked how she’d made contact with him, and if she could do it again. Lucy said she could, but was scared to. Callas offered Lucy shelter by temporarily merging their Essences and shielding her behind the power of a Solar Exaltation. She agreed, and after they’d merged, the Ebon Dragon temporarily used her as a conduit to speak to the Bull and the Circle. Hugo challenges the Yozi before he finds himself unable to speak. The Ebon informs the Circle that their antics are amusing but futile, that his bride will meet him soon and that Lucy will be his soon as well. Boasting that Creation will soon be his, he then tells the Circle that their Exaltations will be his playthings as he tortures them for all eternity in payment for his years of exile in Malfeas. With that, he released Lucy, and Callas quickly resolved herself back to her normal form.
His message delivered, the Circle vowed that the Yozis wouldn’t take Creation. They decide to assemble any and all people in Creation who would be opposed to the Reclamation. The first group they look to is the most obvious, the Silver Pact. On their way out, though, Aunn realizes something. They’d been too distracted earlier to notice this before, but he feels that certain connection to Bernard, and realizes that the Deathknight is in fact his Bondmate. That is…more than a little awkward for the Lunar, but since Bernard is fighting his Abyssal nature Aunn accepts it and they move on to meet the Pact.
Aunn had set the signals to Fury of Claws that he needed to meet with the Lunar Elder, and they proceeded on Nightbird, now enchanted by Callas to fly at hypersonic speeds. At the meet, Callas and Aunn approach Fury, while the remainder of the Circle, including Bernard, remain behind. Fury’s first question is to bluntly ask what the hells an Abyssal is doing with them. Aunn answers him with the unusual circumstance that his Bondmate. He also goes right into the unusual circumstances surrounding Bernard’s Exaltation, including that the Deathlords never made contact with him courtesy of Callas’s sorcery. Combined with Bernard’s oaths to continue fighting Oblivion, Fury decides to give the Abyssal a chance. He takes a closer look at Bernard, and chuckles. Turns out that Bernard had taken a chunk out of Fury’s ear when Fury was younger and was raiding Icewalker territory. He smiled, then turned back to Aunn and Callas. He said it had been a long time since he’d truly fought all-out, and that he would put word out to the Pact that something big was going down, and an invasion of Malfeas was coming. He cautioned that they were more likely to only get the crazy boys. Aunn commented that might not be too bad of a thing, and they headed back to Denandsor to plot how they would convince Lookshy and Maxim how to add troops for the invasion.
Hugo, meanwhile, had opened up his newfound essence sculpting to new levels, and took a close examination of Bernard. His Abyssal Exaltation was a perfect mirror of a Solar Exaltation, with the exception that it was perfectly coated in darkness, as if it had been soaked in it for years. He moved on, unsure of how to fix that, and took a look at Mocks Her Madness. He could see the locations where the Wyld had corrupted her Essence, but the Moonsilver Tatoos prevented him from altering them. He then grabbed Callas, who created a clone of her Essence and let Hugo experiment away on it. Hugo easily managed to remove the tail, and also managed to graft a set of gliding wings onto Callas before he called it a day.