|OUR HEROES:||Tira Wolfsdaughter||Hank Woodman||Haiku Odsdottir||Gilead||Persia|
he party is subdued after the departure of Mranda and Hadrian. Gilead is somewhat reserved and distant. Nevertheless, they have a mission to perform and resolve to make good time toward Montral and the Columbia. Now that the Raven is now longer airworthy, they must travel more cautiously, though. They do not have the eye in the sky they have been used to.
When danger does strike, it strikes from an unexpected direction. The party is camping by the shores of Lake Ontar. Their attention is captured by odd moving lights under the water. They approach slowly, unsure what to make of them. Is it a kraken? Some sort of underwater vehicle? The question is answered when a reaver bursts forth from the water. The party reacts swiftly, all save Farallon. While the party is attempting to wake Tira, Farallon freezes. He is unable to summon up the strength of will to banish the thing. When Tira finally comes on the scene, she does her best to turn it away, but to the party's horror she is enveloped. In desparation, she places the circlet of Gitche-Manito upon her head. The reaver moves away from her as she slumps to the ground insensible.
Eventually, Farallon manages to turn the thing away. He is deeply disturbed by his failure to act. To those who follow the teachings of Prometheus, the compact between adept and non-adpet requires that adepts protect non-adepts from reavers. It is central to their culture. He feels he has failed the compact and acted no better than Burke, the coward adept of the Hadrian expedition. It takes many days and much talking for him to get over it.
Tira eventually recovers from her experience with the circlet. As far as Farallon can see, she is unriven. No one in the party is certain wether adepts can be riven, but either her talent or the presence of the Demon King artifact seem to have protected her. She tells the party that the circlet seems to show visions of the past. She describes a little ,but no words can truly tell the experience she has undergone. She has literally re-lived a portion of her past and seen the destruction of her caravan by the gator Garlok.
As they get close to roller territory they debate how best to cross. Basically, they need a number of dead roller skins to fool the liing ones. Dring the approach, while camping one night, Tira attempts to use the second of her special possessions: the stone presented to her by the artifact. Again she is disappointed. The Stone does not do as Ningan described. She was told that she could touch it to Standing Stones and it would make some sort of copy. Instead, she finds herself sitting in the Archn's private audience chambers in Tallon. Ningan is present and converses with her. She rapidly comes to understand that she is speaking to a kind of pre-recorded proxy for Ningan. It can answer specific questions, but for unanticipated topics, it can only apologize. She learns that Ningan deceived her in order to protect her. He has been aware that she is a Sympath since her arrival in Tallon. He has not told her so that no one else could pick the secret from her unguarded psyche. The stone was intended to guide her through a sympath reading of the Stones of Niagara. Tira does not know what to make of this; her feelings are conflicted. She feels used and yet specially protected.
It is easy for the party to find the edge of Roller territory. The land beyond is completely devoid of organic material. While they begin their hunt for rollers, they discover the carcass of a gigantic spider, the size of an ox. It has tack and harness. Cinammon tells them that it is called an Arach, and that they are ridden by a folk called the Caskill. Apparently the Caskill are dangerous raiders and the reason why there are no settlements upon the far side of the lakes. Hank realizes that he has seen them before. While riding the Raven on the way out, he frequently guided the party away from dustclouds that indicated the movement organized group of people. Cinnamon theorizes that the Arach was killed by the Eerie who are a group of riven savages live in the mountain pass she took to get here.
Gilead orders scouts put out and sure enough they find a large party of Caskill nearby and approaching fast. They have been tracked. They barely have enough time to entrench themselves in a place of strategic advantage before the riders are on them. The Caskill attack without parley or preamble. Either they have decided the party is somehow relate to the riven they have recently fought or they are just bloody-minded killers. The battle is vicious but the party has been through much more dangerous battles than this and eventually drive them away. They now feel great pressure to cross the roller lands and get away from further attacks.
Fortunately, roller carcasses are easily found.It is nearly two weeks later that they wearily come within sight of Montral.
End of Book Two