|OUR HEROES:||Tira Wolfsdaughter||Hank Woodman||Haiku Odsdottir||Gustav Mahler||Persia|
The Columbia churns southwards with a damaged starboard paddle. Haiku pays for her rescue and passage by working the rigging alongside the ship's crew. She also begins the arduous task of learning a foreign language. Mahler looks on anxiously as Jonwaen, the ship's carpenter rebuilds the shattered body of Hank Woodman. Once he is ambulatory he begins to help with repairs to the Columbia
Above decks Tira gains instruction and philosophy of spirit manipulation from the River Master. She spends much of the day using her spirit sight to perceive the world around her with a new understanding. Towards nightfall, she detects the spirits of large animals of some kind moving beneath the waves, circling the ship. She alerts the Navigator, a sighted person named Yellowstone. He in turn notifies the Captain, who calls the crew to alert. Because of this advance warning, they are prepared for the subsequent attack by fishlike humanoids who throw grappling hooks and attempt to board. The attack repelled with minimal effort and damage. Questioning a captured fish-man, whom the sailors identify as semi-legendary creatures called the Deep Riven, they discover that they blame the drylanders for the emergence and following submergence of Nemo's Court, a place they consider taboo. Repeat protestations of innocence make little effect; the Deep Riven believes they are lying. Finally, they release him and sail away from the strange waters.
A week or so later finds them approaching the Lighthouse that stands guard over the Harbor of Tallon. Those who have never seen a Merrikian city are struck by the sheer size, the number of buildings, the number of people, all the colors and sounds. The brightly tiled roofs and streets with patterned cobbles present a richness, a wealth totally unfamiliar to those raised in the Wilds.
Master Crockett bids them to wait while word is sent to the palace of the Archon. They are soon summoned to an audience. A golem-coach is sent for them. It is large enough even for Mahler. They are taken through the city and along the Public Way that leads to the Old Circle of the city. They are given a view of the Standing Stones and pass by the fabulous Hall of Art with its glittering dome of stained glass. They eventually reach the Palace of the Archon, a very odd building resembling nothing less than a candy dish. A massive pedestal supports a platform with gardens and towers. They are made to climb a long spiral staircase and are ushered into the presence of the Archon, Ningan.
The Archon is engaged in a game of strategy with General Hannon. As soon as they finish, the Archon asks them to introduce themselves. After asking Char to relate the tale his father told of the Standing Stones of Niagara, he then questions them concerning Nemo's Court. Although the Demon-King abode is by far the most interesting tale of their voyage, he is clearly more concerned with finding other sites of Standing Stones. General Hannon is intrigued by Tira's knowledge of the Rat's of Ontar. He is suspicious of Mahler'e morphic enhancement, but stops short of calling him Riven.
The Archon says that he will someday launch an expedition, possibly to Niagara to investigate the Standing Stones. When that day comes, those who successfully braved Nemo's Court would be welcome to join. In the meantime, those who are citizens of Tallon are dismissed. Those who are strangers to the city get individual judgements. Hank is told to speak with the City Master for the best way to use his building skills. Char will live with him and with Persia in the Beast Quarter. Haiku will learn Merrikian Anglish at the Hall of Art. The cost of her class is a gift of the Archon. Afterwards she will likely work aboard the Columbia (probably alongside Mahler and Hugin). Tira is given leave to be educated in the adept skills at the Hall of Art. This draws protest from General Hannon, but is quickly silenced by the Archon. Ningan accepts the book of Coleridge in return for paying the cost of her application. The cost of her education will have to be financed separately.
The audience is ended.