“OK, I’m going to go punch a Warstrider in the face – it’ll be safer than this” – Aunn’s reaction to Hugo’s idea of locating and interrogating Masaru’s superiors
Six months have passed since the Circle destroyed the miasma generator and made Denandsor habitable again. In those six months, the Mountainfolk and the Bull have been busy – getting a quarter of factory-cathedrals up and running again is no easy task. The Mountainfolk had to setup quite a few workshops before they could get the factory-cathedrals running again. In the meantime, the Circle had helped themselves to the abundance of First Age artifacts remaining in the city. Hugo in particular had barely left the libraries, immersed in deep study of the texts he had found, still desperately searching for something he had yet to share with the Circle. He was so immersed in his studies, it took him two months to realize something. He had taken the Eyes of Autochon as his personal trophy, and the incredibly fine Essence sight they gave him allowed him to see something that no one had realized. Masaru… wasn’t a Terrestrial. That much was clear. He wasn’t anything Hugo could recognize. Hugo grabbed Aunn for backup and then asked for a moment of Masaru’s time.
The second they were behind closed doors, Hugo’s weapon was at Masaru’s throat. He was very direct, simply asking Masaru ‘what the fuck are you?’ and waiting. Masaru said simply that he was here as Lucy’s tutor. Hugo retorted that he had seen Solar, Lunar, and Terrestrial Exalts here, and Masaru wasn’t any of them. His followup was that the only options that left would likely result in Masaru’s death if he didn’t start talking quickly. Aunn chimed in at this point, realizing what Hugo’s comments meant, and asked Masaru what Maiden he was, correctly assessing the man as a Sidereal. That jogged the memories Hugo had of his research, where he had encountered the term several times, and he lowered his weapon at Masaru’s request.
Masaru sighed, commenting this was the third time he’d been cornered about this matter. His kind made people forget about their existence, and it was a testament to Hugo’s will that he kept coming back. Hugo was not dissuaded from what he really wanted though, and kept pressing Masaru for answers – what Masaru was doing here, who he was working for, and what their long-term goals were. Masaru deflected, and it got to the point where Hugo was ready to threaten violence on him. Hugo’s Essence sight then picked up someone eavesdropping on the conversation by magical means. He demanded that they show themselves, and Maxim’s voice rang out. Maxim told Hugo that he had known what Masaru was the whole time, and that everything he had told Hugo was the truth. Hugo commented that they were going to need to have a long talk next time they ran into each other and Maxim bowed out of the conversation. Hugo continued to insist that Masaru tell them everything, and he even wanted to talk to Masaru’s boss, and possibly interrogate them. Hugo’s behavior was more than a little odd for him, but no one paid it any mind as he sent a message to the Bull, telling their patron that he needed to get to Denandsor as quickly as he could. Lucy had shown up, and Aunn took it upon himself to distract her by taking her on a quick flight. On that flight, he noticed a large dust cloud indicative of approaching horsemen. He quickly cursed and returned to the city.
The Circle had a quick council. Based on the geometry, the approaching horsemen were from Lookshy or Thorns, and the Bull had not warned them of an incoming delegation. They elected to get out there and scout. Loading up their airship with the Circle and a talon of the Icewalker’s elite Sky Berserkers who had been training with Hakun, they advanced to the incoming horsemen.
Upon the airship reaching them, Hugo and Aunn fly out ahead, scouting. The horsemen circle up at that point, with one herald standing outside. Hugo and Aunn land, with Jaspar listening in through Charms. The figure greets them by name, which causes the two Celestials to exchange a glance, a little rattled. Hugo gets more rattled when he realizes that the ‘man’ in front of them is a Deathknight, none other than the Harbinger of the Ghost-Cold Wind. This gets the Sky Berserkers up in arms, as they have a very unpleasant history with him, but Hakun easily holds them in check before they can launch.
The Wind tells them he is here as an envoy of the Mask of Winters. He offered Hugo and Aunn a token of friendship and asked them what their plans were. Hugo told him flatly to get the hell out of their territory. He responded by asking what they claimed. Aunn countered right back with what the Mask claimed. Wind answered with ‘Creation’ and asked them again what their plans were. Hugo gave him a simple answer – wipe out the Deathlords, the Deathknights, the Green Suns, and the Yozis. Wind chuckles and asks if Hugo has an intended order, to which Aunn responds ‘as they come to us’ while glaring. Hugo tells the Wind to leave now. Tipping his hat to them, Wind obliges. He briefly turns back to Hugo before he leaves, though, telling him to give his dear cousin Lisara the Mask’s best. Hugo recognizes an Essence flash in his eyes for a brief instant before something snaps in the young Solar’s mind, and he reaches for his weapon, lighting off his Form-type charm as he decides that the servants of the Deathlords must be destroyed…