On the river barge journey back to Nexus, Kaveh approached Senka for information to ask her about how she new about him and what else he knew. To get her attention, he led with "Hey assassin…", then asked his question. Incredulous with his greeting, Senka replyed, "Hey assassin? That's not a nice way to make a request. You have to start with something like Nice night for an evening", as she shield her eyes from the midafternoon sun. Kaveh repeated his request, and Senka asked him what the the information was worth to him. He paused for a moment, declared she was right and the information wasn't worth anything, and walked away.
Upon arriving to Nexus, they made their way to the tenement home of the Thorns refugees in Nightside. The first man who saw Genjo had a grim expression on his face, and immediately went to get Hira. She was in a state of distress – the children had been taken by dragon-blooded from the Realm. She described the dragon-blooded; an elegantly woman, a finely dressed man with a well trimmed goatee, and a heavily armored body guard. They took the children, and demanded that Genjo bring Kaveh to their townhouse in Cinnabar.
Genjo's anger at his children's capture turned outward in an aura of intimidation that parted the crowds has a moved through the streets of Nexus. The other Solars followed in his wake, greatly speeding their passage through the city. At the townhouse, Senka climbed up to a rooftop overlooking the courtyard, and Zakiti disappeared into the shadows to follow the group in. The guard and the dragon-blooded's townhouse said he would announce there arrival, but Genjo intimidated his way into through the door.
Genjo was surprised by the scene he found in the courtyard. The elegant woman sat sipping wine and reading a book. Nearby, the heavily armored man, with a jade-studded tetsubo, sat across a table from Genjo's son Roko, a game of regicide set between them. The two dragon-blooded start at the unannounced arrival. They both stand, and the big man rolls his shoulders to loosen the the tetsubo slung across his back. Genjo went immediately to his son, who leaped up to greet him.
Kaveh recognized the woman; she was V'neef Lohlyn, his former lover. She greeted Kaveh as Ragara Kaveh, and said she was glad to have found him. He asked how she did it, and she said after hearing rumors coming out of the Scavenger Lands, she went to Nexus, sure that the trade city is where he would go. The scheme with the gar root as a fashion item from the Lap lead her to Genjo's family, and then to Kaveh.
Genjo interrupted their reunion, demanding the release of his children. Lohlyn assured him they had been kept safe and in the best of comfort, far greater comfort than the Nightside hovel where they had been living. Genjo grew further enraged, and demand his daughter be brought to him immediately. Lohlyn said she was safe with her brother but in a different location. She did not think Kaveh had become a demon, but she need insurance. He browbeat her into sending for her brother immediately. She sent one of the soldiers and Zakiti followed.
Kaveh explained that he was not who she remembered. He hastened to add that he was not a demon. He explained that he had made a deal with Madame Marthesine, and she had taken his memories of his family. Who he was had been lost with those memories.
She revealed her intentions when Kaveh asked. She said that she and her House could help him and his companions avoid the attention of the Realm and the Wyld hunt, and when the time came, she would ask for their help securing her House's position in the struggle to seize the throne of the Realm. She did not expect her house to be dominant, but she wanted them to be throne-makers and be part of the power behind the throne. Kaveh said he didn't see why he should help her since he didn't want to rule the Realm and didn't want to get involved with the struggle.
As the conversation continued, Senka leaped down from her rooftop perch. Lohlyn was startled, as was her body guard, who stood whirling and taking his jade weapon to his hand. Senka smiled and Kaveh said she was with them. Genjo turned to his son being held in his arms, gestured to the bodyguards reaction, and said, "Roko, see that? That is fear."
Things settled and Senka, Kaveh, and Lohlyn began discussing possibilities. Perhaps House V'neef could aid the liberation of Thorns, and use the support and prestige gained to make their bid for power within the Realm. Lohlyn presented a scenario where a young dragon-blooded officer united her loyal legions the forces of the Confederation of Rivers to drive the dead from Thorns. Much like the Empress did centuries before, she could use a great victory to propel herself to the throne. All this would be done with House V'neef's backing and the secret support of the Solars. House V'neef would lead efforts in rebuilding Thorns, granting them a place of prominence in that satrapy.
Senka presented an alternative; along with that dragon-blooded officer road a Solar general, clad in orichalcum. He fights valiantly beside her, aiding and advising. In the end, the Solars too could be presented as heroes, and maybe, she said, "we can prove that we're the gooder evil." Lohlyn said that would take careful planning, but was an intriguing possibility.
While his companions talked to Lohlyn, Genjo allowed his son to continue his game with the bodyguard, Unbroken Anvil. Anvil laid a trap on the board for young Roko, sacrificing one of his pieces. The boy took the bait, and Drac recognized that it was only a matter of a few moves before Roko lost the game. Drac suggested ending the game, but Anvil insisted on letting it play out so Roko could see what had happened. After winning, Anvil passed along the sage advice to look beyond what your opponent wants you to see to discern his true intention. Genjo agree, telling his son that while his master was an idiot, Anvil was clearly a man of wisdom.
V'neef Sylus, Lohlyn's brother, arrived with Sadako, Genjo's daughter. She was dressed in fine clothing walking arm-in-arm with the handsome dragon-blooded. She seemed happy in a way that Genjo hadn't seen in a long time and she was happy to see him. She started to tell him about her time with Sylus and Lohlyn, but Genjo didn't not want to hear about it and said it was time to go. Lohlyn asked that they think about her offer. Genjo lead his children from the townhouse and the other Solars moved to follow him out.
Kaveh was last to leave, and Lohlyn stopped him quietly saying, "And Kaveh… I did miss you." He replied, "I think I missed you too," and walked out of the townhouse courtyard.
On the walk home, Sadako started talking about how good a time she had with the House V'neef dynasts. Genjo cut her off saying they were dangerous and urging caution. Sadako became angry, saying she was tired of living in squalor and this was how things were supposed to be. Genjo replied angrily saying that he was giving her what he could and getting her an education. She shouted back, "No you're not, you're not even here!" That deflated Genjo, and he apologized. "You're right, I'm sorry I can't be here for you and give you the life you should have. I'm doing what I have to to protect all of you."
Back at Genjo's, Hira was overjoyed to be reunited with her children. She apologized to Drac for being a poor host, and said she had a message for him. The message was a sealed letter from Rinriven Dai, who said he had news for Drac and asked him to come at his convenience.
Kaveh spent some time walking through the markets, letting the process of commerse and negotiation wash over him and thinking about the days events. When he did return to Genjo's, Hira apologized to him as well, and gave him the money from selling the gar root. Since the scheme had endangered his children, Genjo insisted that Kaveh let Hira keep more of the money. Kaveh disagreed, saying that no one had been hurt and they had negotiated a fair deal. Genjo grew angry, and said Kaveh had put his family at risk. Kaveh replied, "Creation is a dangerous place. Just being what you are puts them at risk." "Get out", Genjo replied, "you are not welcome in my house." He pushed Kaveh through the door and threw the purse of coins after him. Some of the coins clattered into the street, and the destitute passers by scrambled to grab them.
Senka, having stopped in the market to buy a regicide set, arrived to see Kaveh beginning to gather the coins. She asked what happened, and he told her the outline of events. He gathered most of the coins, though did not stop those picked up the ones that had scattered beyond his reach. He left Nighthammer, and found himself a comfortable inn in Sentinel's Hill.
Senka gave the regicide set to Roko and encouraged him to continue improving his game. When Zakiti arrived, Senka told her about Kaveh being kicked out of the house, which set Zakiti seething.
That evening, Drac visited Rinriven Dai. Drac told him about his meeting with the assassins in Great Forks, and his encounter with the woman who looked like Rasa. Rinriven speculated that the demon must have killed the assassins in Nexus. Then he tells Drac about rumors he's heard about the dead from Thorns beginning to raid Marukan and Puyo. He knew Drac was proud of his homeland and wanted to tell him what he could as a friend. Drac asked if Rinriven can help him find accommodations so he would have a safe place to stay and an address in the city for people to contact him. Rinriven agrees to help him find a place in Cinnabar in one of the neighborhoods where mercenary officers had their townhouses.
The next day, Senka asked to meet the Astrologer. They received an audience, and Senka asked her about her intentions and about what was in the vault. Kratz confirmed again that she didn't know what the Five Days Darkness was, but though it could be used against the Mask of Winters. Senka talked about stargazing, and implied she knew something about what Kratz was. She said she would help open the door as part of her deal with Genjo and the rest of the circle.
Genjo went to get Drac and Senka and Zakiti went to find Kaveh. They found him in the Big Market. Zakiti disappeared, and began gathering essence to unleash sorcery. Senka greeted Kaveh and asked if he was ready to go, which he was. Zakiti completed her spell, and hurled green energy at Kaveh, but he resisted the magic and the energy dissipated around him. He recognized the spell as Corrupted Word, and binding that would bar him from speaking about a certain subject, lest he vomit large, meaty maggots. Shocked at Zakiti's action, Kaveh turned and walked away.
Senka was also shocked, and was surprised to hear the depth of anger Zakiti harbored for Kaveh. She said she was trying to protect Genjo's family since Kaveh couldn't be trusted. Senka said that didn't excuse Zakiti's
They went to meet Genjo, and explained what had happened. Genjo said he would go to Kaveh and ask him to come. It took him some time to find Kaveh, and when he did, Kaveh was packing for a journey. He said he was not welcome or appreciated, and would no long associate with the rest of them. Genjo besought him to help them open the vault, since they could not do it without him. The five of them together was clearly a sign of destiny. Kaveh agreed that he would help them open the door, but did not know what he would do after that.
They finally gathered once more outside Firewander, and Zakiti began the ritual prayed to call to Tul Wan, who would fulfill his bargain and take them back to the heart of the old city…