The Solar Exalted waited for nightfall then slipped out into the streets of Lookshy. Smiling Lark lead them through side streets, alleys, and tunnels to avoid patrols and reach the docks. Smoke Orchid said she would misdirect any pursuers and meet them in Good Harbor, or further up river, then slipped away into the shadows. Smiling Lark deposited them outside a sailor's bar, two streets from the docks, and with a frown, asked them to complete there task to cast down the Mask of Winters so he would not have to regret his betrayal of the Seventh Legion. Senka promised not to let him down but he left with a frown.
Using their exalted gifts, the three made their way through the streets of Lower City. Baolu was waiting for them with two sailors. Genjo approached while the others hung back and greeted his old friend. Baolu had arranged a smuggling ship for the circle that had agreed to take them to Good Harbor. Genjo offered to pay, but Baolu refuse, "For old times sake."
Seeing the exchange go well, Senka and Zakiti joined the men. They were dubious of the sailors, but after a brief exchange, seemed eased. They would depart with the tide in a few hours. Baolu offered to bring them all to a smoke house share their company until they had to leave. Genjo noticed peacekeepers and legionaries patrolling the streets where none had been in the previous days and whispered a warning to the others.
Baolu led them into a seedy hashish hookah bar. The proprietor greeted Baolu and gestured to his regular table. Time passed as they passed the pipe and Genjo and Baolu passed stories of their share childhood on the streets of Thorns, old friends, and criminal antics. Baolu always seemed to be the one getting Genjo into trouble, but always managed to haul him out again. As the tales turned to the Autocrat’s War, they took on a more somber tone. Despite the pressure of time and risk of potential capture, the air was comfortable. Genjo seemed the most relaxed he’d been since he last saw his family in Nexus.
Not sharing Genjo's ease, Senka got up to use the privy and took a look outside to see what waited for them in the streets. She saw continued patrols, and the soldiers wer stopping passersby at random. She urged the others to depart so they could make it to the ship on time while avoiding capture. She asked if there was a back door, and Baolu assured them he wouldn't make a regular haunt of a place without a back door. He grabbed Genjo in a bear-hug and wished them all a good safe journey.
They avoided the patrols, and the smuggler captain directed them into hidden compartments at the bow of the small ship.They waited, then heard the ship cast of and the creaking of the oars begin. Driven by nerves, Senka heard everything. Sometime after they past the harbor wall, with the rocking of the boat increased, she heard the echos of another boat passing through the water. An exchange of shouts ordering the smaller vessel to stop then their vessel stowed their oars. They all heard the wooded thunk of the other vessel coming alongside, and Senka warned the others to be quiet.
Flexing her hearing, she listened to the conversations on the deck and heard heavy booted feet pass onto their smaller boat. A voice she recognized as Amilar Falling Brook ordered the vessel search. The smuggler captain insisted he didn't know his cargo were the fugitives the Legion was hunting, and directed them to the smuggling compartments. Falling Brook directed his soldiers to search with caution, they did not know how dangerous these Anathema could be.
Senka told the others they could talk their way out rather than turning to bloodshed. She slowly emerged from the compartment and threw her bow to the ground. Half a dozen armored soldiers stood on the deck of the smaller ship. Archers stood ready on the forecastle and aftcastle of the Seventh Legion trireme, and more armored soldiers stood on its deck. Falling Brook kept his distance as she made her impassioned plea. They shared an enemy, they meant no harm to Lookshy, the knowledge they gained from the library would aid them in their shared fight against the Mask of Winters. Despite her worlds, the Dragon-Blooded was not swayed. He had orders to bring them in alive or dead, but they could plea their case before the Legion General Staff.
As they spoke, the others slowly emerged as well. Genjo added his voice. He did not want to fight them, but was more than capable. Falling Brook said he could not trust the words of demons. Thinking to add some threat, Zakiti spoke, "We're not demons, that's a demon." She gestured and her agata familiar materialized above the deck of the ship. "And that's an elemental," she said calling her greenmaw out of the essence of Creation.
At the site of the spirits, the soldiers took swift action, charging the green maw and hacking at it with their swords. The elemental struck back. Falling Brook drew his sword from it's sheath like a lightning bolt before resheathing it in a combat stance. Senka's attempt at peace had been shattered and she knew the price would be bloody.
Genjo looked at him and grimaced, "You have made a horrible mistake." He pulled his essence around himself, and launch his body at the other ship, cast mark gleaming and sunlight beaming forth. He hurled himself across the gap, and slammed into its hull at the waterline. The wood splinted, and he broke through, water gushing behind him.
Amilar Falling Brook darted forward trailing sparks as candle-like flames began to dance around him. Lightning fast, his sword leaped out at Senka, but her essence-fueled reflexes let her avoid the streaking blade, but just barely. Spinning away, the two foes repositioned, and Falling Brook sheathed his sword as part of the single smooth action of the strike. Zakiti dashed across the deck behind the clash, she scooped up Senka's bow, and tossed it to unarmed friend. With a flick of her wrist, she sent a dagger spinning toward Falling Brook, but the blade clattered off his armor.
His attention now drawn, the Dragon-Blooded stuck again, this time at the sorceress. Driven only by her essence Zakiti managed to roll free of the strike and avoid injury. Her demon landed, and she pulled herself onto its back. Falling Brook pursued he, striking at the grounded demon and forcing it back. Flames began to lick the deck around him, blackening the exposed wood. The demon desperately scuttled backward before being struck by some of the hail of arrows unleashed by the archers on the trireme.
With the demon retreating, Senka raised Treesplitter, ordering the Dragon-Blooded to back of. She fire and arrow, which he fail to cut from the air, and it struck him full in the shoulder, forcing him back a few paces to reassess his foe.
On the ship Genjo began to walk past the oarsmen, skin turning hard as diamond. Genjo shouted, telling them all that what was happening was a mistake. They took up blades and clubs and assailed the Solar, but he batted them aside as if they were nothing. He glowed with the brilliance of the noonday sun, and the four-armed figure of the Unconquered Sun appeared in his anima banner.
The agata struck at Falling Brook, forcing him back a step, and leaped into the air. Zakiti began drawing sorcery around her. She pulled deeply on her own essence, and the spirit jars in her pack rattled as she reaped essence from the bound ghosts, demons, and lesser gods. Obsidian shards formed in the air around her and the black butterflies swept across the two ships, shredding sails, rigging, and soldiers caught in their path. Falling Brook's reaper daiklave moved in a blur, deflecting dozens of the razor edged insects, but even his speed was not enough, and he was cut.
The surviving archers continue their volley, once again striking the agata who hissed in pain. On the ships deck, Falling Brook deftly turned to strike at Senka again. This time she was sent sprawling back, trying to recover her footing before the swordsman struck her down.
As Genjo strode through the oarsmen, he the water began to rise from the hole he entered through. Not wanting the sailors to die drowning, he shouted, "Get to deck!" He picked up a fallen man and carried him on his shoulder. The other oarsmen, though still terrified, follow his example and helped their fellows to get to safety.
Falling Brook stepped forward, ready to attack Senka once again. Reflexively, she poured essence into fueling her speed and her anima banner flared, a beast of nightmare with a fanged maw big enough to swallow a man whole. "Save you men while you can," she hissed as the blade streaked towards her, flames erupting around him.
She was not fast enough and the blade came toward her as a killing blur. At the last moment, she threw up her arm. The blade struck, between wrist and elbow. Agony shot through her and the world narrowed as shock set in. Everything seemed… so far away and the sounds of battle quiet. She saw her hand, still clutching Treesplitting arc through the air. The Dragon-Blooded sword hit her chest, slow by the bones and flesh of her arm, but still cutting her grievously. She screamed.
Zakiti shouted in horror, once again materializing shards of obsidian in the air around her. The deadly yet beautiful butterflies descended as a column, thunking into the burning ship. She leaped after them. The weight of their onslaught was too much, and the small ship broke apart. Zakiti hit the waves, the cool water shocker her.
Genjo came above deck just in time to hear Senka's scream and see the spray of blood. Two more warships were quickly approaching. He saw the pillar of butterflies fall onto Falling Brook, and watched the little ship begin to break apart. Acting quickly, he dash across the debris floating between the two sinking ships to catch Senka's unconscious form before she slipped into the waves.
Zakiti called to hear agata, climbed on herself, then helped Genjo get Senka into a secure position on the demon's back. Genjo climbed up behind her and the massive wasp speed out across the water filled with debris, bodies, and the sailors luck enough to survive. All three Solars were glowing still, but Genjo brightest of all. He shouted, "We're not your enemies. This didn't have to happen."