The Circle settled in to wait for Sienna's promised help. Genjo seemed to have a new and radiant poise to his demeanor. Dressed in a traditional haori with broad triangular shouldered that emphasized his physical presences, he sought out Onmoraki. He wore dark colors, accentuated with bright yellow circles where the symbols of house and clan would traditionally appear. Senka followed him in fine but functional cloths; hair cut short, mask replaced by a veil. They found the Walker's emissary in the Thousand Steam Palace. They met by a fountain beneath a flowering tree.
Onmoraki was surprised to see the Solars, and asked what they intend in meeting him. Genjo explained that they planned to secure a speaking place before the Assembly to give Onmoraki a chance to speak against the Mask of Winters. The ghost-blooded diplomat agreed with their approach. Genjo expressed his hope that his personal experience at the fall of Thorns would help move the Assembly to action.
Genjo asked what coalitions within would oppose their message. Onmoraki explain that Garath, the ambassador from Nexus, would likely oppose their position. He was a naturally suspicious man, and Nexus benefited from the current status quo. The great trade city would be called upon to fund the expedition and provide mercenaries, both emptying the coffers of the Council of Entities. Additionally, he was often in the company of Typhon's Coils, speaker for the Make of Winters.
Typhon endlessly twisted the truth to paint the Mask of Winters as striking only against the enemies of the Confederation of Rivers. He had liberated Thorns from a puppet ruler, installed to by the Realm to slake their greed and thirst for conquest against the River Lands. Typhon had made many friends among the representatives of the Hundred Kingdoms who had suffered at the hands of Thorns army during the Autocrat’s War. If only they would recognize the legitimacy of the Mask of Winter's claims, trade long closed would be open, and all would profit.
Toriki Antar, Lookshy's ambassador from the 7th legion, would be the voice to sway. Ultimately, it would be Lookshy's army that would have to lead any campaign against the Mask of Winters. Antar was a traditionalist and had been unwilling to speak to Onmoraki. Senka added that Lookshy would not look favorably on them if they were recognized.
After parting ways with Onmoraki, Genjo and Senka spoke privately. Senka reminded Genjo that the politicians of the Confederation of Rivers care about their safety and wealth, and how that would be threatened by the Mask of Winters. She agreed to stand with him before the Assembly, but reminded him how poorly things went last time she tried to solve a conflict with diplomacy. Genjo asked her to find out more about Garath, and she readily agreed.
That evening, Zakiti joined them at their accommodations, chosen by Dawning Seaspray. She mentioned that there could be an additional complication, and suggested they move to a private room so they could speak freely. She explained the possible insurrection from the dispossessed of Marita, telling them more about the fiery speaker she had witnessed and the promise to undo many tyrants. She also confessed that the revolutionaries had been using her reputation and example to gain a following.
Senka asked if Zakiti had a cult following, and Zakiti admitted that she did, but was embarrassed her actions had led to that result. Senka suggested using her reputation to set an example and turn the common folk against the Mask of Winters. Zakiti agreed that could be a useful strategy, but said for now that the potential for violence had to be stopped before they could speak to the Assembly.
Zakiti told the others about how the rebels were expecting a final shipment before putting their plan into action. Dawning Seaspray suggested delaying the shipment, but Zakiti thought they might try to act without it. Dawn stated the need to find out what they were expecting in the shipment and what they planned to do. Zakiti said she could try to turn the rebels’ actions to their advantage. Genjo warned all of them about the need to keep a low profile. Zakiti agrees, and asks that they give her a chance to influence the leader of the rebels through dreams before they take direct action, and the other agree to give her a chance.
Later that night, clad once again in her usual functional attire, Senka headed for the Nexus embassy. The build was a First Age tower, rising smoothly from the river. Balconies spiraled up the ivory-colored tower and lights at the top showed a party in progress. Senka set a small fire on the roof of a nearby building as a distraction an as the flames drew the attention of the guards, leaped to the 2nd story balcony on the backside of the tower. She pushed the door open and found herself in a well-organized office that she quickly realized belonged to the ambassador's majordomo. She searched the desk, finding mostly financial records, delivery orders, and mundane notes, but also found a draft of the ambassador's schedule. Two nights hence, he was invited to dinner with Typhon's Coils at the Fivefold Epicure, a restaurant famous across the Scavenger Lands for each meal being a five-course competition using exotic ingredients from across Creation.
Filing the information away, and careful to return everything to its correct place, Senka continue her exploration of the tower. She ducked into the servants staging room to avoid detection by patrolling guards, and grabbed a platter of food to present herself as one of the servers. She made her way to the tower's top to observer the party. Garath, a heavyset man with bronze skin and a painted face, presided over the festivities. A collared woman in a revealing outfit attending to him. His guests, representatives of of the kingdoms and factions of the Scavenger Lands, shared gossip and other pleasant conversation. A servant rang a gong, and Garath stood to get the attention of the assembled guests. He announced he had something special to show them, a wonder just arrived from the distant South. Servants lit long matches and touched them to paper rockets that shot into the air and exploded in dazzling display of colorful fire. Using the finally as cover, Senka departed the part to return to her companions.
Meanwhile, Cloud Whisper came to Sienna to tell her that Sable Oak had arrive. Still clad in the guise of her mercenary destiny, she went to meet him in their usual place in Maritia, a guesthouse built around a massive tree growing from the stump of a shattered first age tower. Sable Oak greeted Sienna, who noted that his arrive was auspicious, and the two exchanged banter about politics. Oak said that with her agreement to marry him, he would cross the line to help "her Solars". He knew the Realm was broken, and didn't want to see Creation devolve into chaos. He asked whether the Solars would be overt so that he could determine who best to approach about allowing them to speak. They discuss the possibility of Toriki Antar of Lookshy, but ultimately settle on Marusaki Name of the Guild.
They discuss how things could turn, and Sienna said that the return of the Solars would be great changes. She did not mind a war not that upset the old order. She asked if Sable Oak would like the meet her Solars, but he declined. He promised that the Guild will let them speak, but that he will have to depart; in addition to his usual duties, he had a wedding to plan. They exchanged kisses and Sienna departed with muddled emotions.
Zakiti set out into the night to stake out the rebel leader. She went to the Fenside shanty town and waited until the speaker departed his house. She trailed the rebel leader from the rooftops, his guards were alert and observant, but did not spot the masterful Solar guided through the darkness by her essence.
The speaker carried out good works for the dispossessed of Marita. The people respect him, and he repays their respect with aid. He brought food the the hungry, medicine to the sick, blankets to the cold; all the kindness Zakiti had shown in the past, but more organized. Watching him work, she gained respect for him and learned that his name was Thran.
Thran met with a dockmaster, who said that the final shipment had arrived and had been delivered to the usual place. Thran said the shipment was being repackaged and that Minn's servants would put it in place. At the mention of Minn's servants, Zakiti heard a sharp intake of breath from one of the conversations observers, perhaps out of fear, though it was hard to tell listening from the rooftop of the next building.
He continued his sojourn through the city, visiting more of the needy, but also a glassblowing workshop, where he paid the master in silver, and next to a waxwork, where he similarly paid in silver coins. As the arc of his excursion turn back toward the communal house, Zakiti ranged ahead to beat him there. She found his resting place, and tore a scrap from a piece of his clothing while no one was looking before slipping back into the night.
Returning to their lodgings Zakiti enacts her sorcery to influence Thran’s dreams. With her voice over she praises his works, admiring his passion and drive. Then the dream turns cold showing a shadowland and warning of the dangers beyond his control. The Mask of Winters looming over the city while she mentions his actions could leave the city and the people vulnerable. “I admire your drive and zeal, i do not disagree with your purposes, just the timing, I would not wish this place to be the next Thorns. Do not overthrow one despot only to leave it open to another.” As the city crumbles, burns, and people die and rise again she tries to persuade him to proceed with caution lest the people he helped come to harm.
In the morning, a blond haired, blue eyed woman clad in practical but revealing cloths was awaited the Solars, picking her nails with a small knife. As Zakiti came down, the newcomer eyed her as a a starving man looks at a steak. She greeted the Solars and introduced herself as Kala, a friend of Dawning Seaspray.
Senka reported about the party, and told the others about the dinner reservation between Garath and Typhon's Coils. She also mentioned the firework, and Zakiti realized that the Guild’s firedust shipment arrived at the same time the rebels received their final shipment. Considering the other purchases made by Thran, she did not like the implications.
Kala brought up that the Guild would be sponsoring the Solars to speak. Zakiti agreed it would be best if she avoided the Guild officials, and everyone agreed. Kala also warned them the Wyld Hunt was still making its way upriver after them. They would need friend in high places to make sure they accomplish what they needed before the hunt arrived. She also reminded them that Sienna's favor came with a price, and they should hasten to find and free the war goddess as they had promised.
Zakiti asked if anyone knew Minn or the servants of Minn, but no one knew who they were. She said that the servants of Minn would be delivering the last shipment to the Assembly and it would be worth investigating to find out who they were. Kala suggested using any potential chaos to their advantage, but Zakiti worried about the common people who could be hurt in the chaos of an uprising. Zakiti stopped Khala in the door. Kahala took her hand to assure her that their safety was assured. Zakiti wasn’t concerned for herself but Kahla assured her she should be. ‘You are the heralds of a new age’.
As they spoke, Senka slipped away to look for caches of firedust…