Hugo and Jasper were surprised when they looked out of the Inn to see a totemic Solar Anima banner flaring over the Terrestrial Warcamp. After facepalming so hard that Creation itself shook, Hugo leapt out of his chair and headed off like a bat out of hell for the warcamp. At the Warcamp, Hakun and Lisara had engaged in combat, Lisara pulling her sword and attacking the young Solar. Hakun parried and retaliated, his Caste Mark flaring as Lisara’s eyes grew wide in shock. Screaming for the guards to slay the Forsaken Anathema, she flew into combat with Hakun. Hakun quickly gained the upper hand, for as experienced a Dragon-blooded warrior as Lisara was, she was no match for a Solar. Or at least, she shouldn’t have been, but she held with Hakun, and later Callas, before she transformed into a great phoenix and fled. Her remaining troops cited they had no wish to partake in a Wyld Hunt, and surrendered, cursing Hugo as a blood traitor once he reached the camp and did not openly defy the Anathema. With nothing left to do, the Circle headed into the darkness of the mines.
They spent several days navigating, the Gryphon distinctly unhappy about being both underground and in near-total darkness. They eventually heard the some variety of sound that was metal on metal, and headed towards it. Coming upon a Mountainfolk mining camp, they were greeted mainly with curiosity by the lower-class Jadeborn. The foreman of the mining camp quickly directed the Circle to their city, which was accessible via either a secure but long passageway, or by taking a high speed minecart through an area that hadn’t been secured yet. Naturally, the Solars took the faster, less secure route, running into a Mountainfolk patrol engaged against undead. The Solars launched into an assault, slaughtering the undead and shadowfolk in seconds. The Jadeborn captain quickly thanked the Circle for their assistance, then directed them to the Jadeborn capital after sending a message ahead, and leaving a demolition squad to deal with what was left of the shadowlands.
Upon reaching the Mountainfolk city, the Circle was escorted by an honor guard to the leadership of the Mountainfolk. Met by a representative of the artisan, engineering, and war castes, the Circle quickly commenced negotiations with the Mountainfolk Elders. With Hugo and Jasper taking the lead, the high-stakes verbal fencing match began. Skyseeker, their engineer, and Songforger, their artist, seemed open to the idea. Dark Granite, by contrast, was openly hostile to the Circle, and stated quite plainly that nothing short of direct intervention from the Clay Man himself would persuade him to lend his support to the Bull. Still, a slip of the tongue on Skyseeker’s part reminded Hugo of the Great Geass, and his insistence that it not be invoked won over Songforger, who pledged a few of his journeymen to aid the Bull. Aid from artisans and songwriters, though, was not what was asked for by the Bull, and they continued to press. After Hugo gave them an update on the crumbling status of the Realm, coupled with the technological innovations of the surface, Skyseeker herself agreed to take a ‘sabbatical’ to the surface for a few decades. It would take three months for the Jadeborn to tunnel all the way to the Bull’s capital.
With the support of two of the three castes secured, the Circle stayed in the Mountainfolk city for roughly a week, commissioning several custom magic items. They traded demonstrations of their abilities for payment towards the custom gear, with Hugo picking up a custom version of his existing chakram that doubled as a shield, Geralt picking up a set of boots that were amazingly fast, Callas repairing his gryphon’s wargear. With that set, the Circle agreed to secure rapid transit for an advance prep team of a few Mountainfolk, with whom they set off to the surface. On their way up, they discovered several fresh corpses once they neared the surface. Their flesh had been carved in a fashion Callas found all-too-familiar. She warned the Circle to be on their guard as they approached the surface, only to see the telltales of fire as they reached it.
They reached the surface to find Diamond Hearth besieged by demons. Hugo immediately lit off several charms and began half sprinting, half flying for the town, while the remainder loaded onto the Gryphon with Callas. When they reached the city, they saw three airships defending the city, besieged by blood apes and demonic wasps. Hugo moved to defend one of the smaller airships, as did Callas after she had dropped the other three off at the large one. Hakun, Jasper, and Geralt made a good account of themselves on the main airship, but Hugo and Callas stole the show. Hugo was flaring like he never had before, his anima banner totemic for the first time in his life, supplemented by the hearthstone he bore, which gave the effect of him having both his Night-Caste banner and an Air-Aspect banner. He single-handedly drove off the demons assaulting one of the ships, while Callas did much the same for the second. Hugo gave his two cents for the second airship, though, when one of the blood apes used two crewmen as impromptu chakrams. Hugo caught the pair and tossed them back onto the airship, which started to break apart. Hugo shored up the weakened prow long enough for the damage control teams on the airship to get more permanent shoring in place. During this, Hakun, Geralt, and Jasper took down the large attack team besieging the heavy airship. Once the airships were secured, between the Circle and the heavy airship firing an essence cannon, the town was cleaned up fairly quickly.
Hugo quickly tried to establish what the hell had happened in the town. One of the older women in town quickly accused the Circle of causing the assault. Hugo was confused at that, and asked for elaboration. She said that her husband had been the ‘necromancer’; actually the town’s local God-blooded seer, and he had seen a great evil coming. The only option he saw was to raise an army of the undead to beat back the demons. Hugo was skeptical at this, but then she mentioned that the one who brought this evil on them was the female leading the Realm troop. Hugo twitched at that, and then Hakun and Callas remembered something about the way she’d fought Hakun… she’d had far too much power for a simple Terrestrial. That coupled with the fact that Hakun and Hugo specifically recognized what she used near the end of the fight – Infernal Hero Style martial arts – lent credence to her case. Jasper’s somewhat reluctant admittance that he’d seen a tattoo on Lisara that, upon further review, made her so obviously an akuma, selling out Creation to the Yozi, they should have realized it sooner that Hugo hit himself. Hugo and Callas were ready to go chasing her straight to the Realm, or Malefas, or wherever she had fled, but Hugo calmed and decided to finish the mission he was on… only after swearing a Blood Oath of Vengeance on the Unconquered Sun and the Dragons that Lisara would die by his hand. They elected to get back to the Bull’s as quickly as possible. The Jadeborn quickly souped up one of the airships, and they headed back to the Bull’s at breakneck speed to deliver news both good and bad.