OUR HEROES: Tira Wolfsdaughter Hank Woodman Gilead Haiku Odsdottir Persia

51. Births and Re-Births

t takes a week or two, but eventually things in Tallon begin to settle down for our heroes. Gilead is briefed and debriefed multiple times, but the civilians are pretty much allowed to go back to their normal lives.

Tira is distressed over not being allowed access to the glass ship, Carina. She can still make contact with it and it does not seem to be under any duress, so she must content herself with that.

Farallon approaches both Gilead and Hank about opening a restaurant based on Halfax cooking. He did much research while in the City of Diamond and bought a large store of local herbs and spices, which he hopes to either match or grow locally. He wishes to hire Hank for the building and wishes to tap Gilead as an investor, as well as to gain his Grandfather's contacts and expertise. Much of the city needs to be rebuilt, however, so the work will proceed slowly.

As the days pass on and the threat of bombardment has vanished, a new fear begins to intrude upon the city. Citizens have been turning up dead in increasing numbers. No one sees a killer, but people are being murdered. There are never any clues. Martial law is actually increased as people fear to leave their homes after dark. This proves to be of little or no help. Eventually, the assassinations spill over into daylight hours and occur in places of supposed security. The reality of the situation begins to become clear. There are assassins wandering at will in the city, procteted by the same enhancements used to cloak Gilead, Kamlak and the others when they were sent to slay Helios. The killers cannot be seen, heard, touched or sensed in any way. They are called wraiths.


Eventually their targets begin to hit close to home. Basarin is attacked and left for dead behind the theater one night. After taking her to Doctor Cormorant in the Shambles, Persia does some investigation and discovers that cats are high on the list of those attacked by wraiths. Could it be that the wraiths are seeking vengeance upon those who took place in the raid upon the Celestial City? She would be a rather obvious target; there were no other cats involved.

Her suspicions are confirmed the next evening as she receives a clandestine visit from none other than Grandmistress Novya. The adept says that several cats have indeed been slain, and it is only through luck that Basarin has survived at all. In a gesture of surprising generosity, she extends her power and heals the wounded Basarin.

Novya further goes on to make an offer to Persia, and Char as well. She wishes to employ them as agents. She claims to have heard word of their prowess and exploits. She wants to use those skills to protect her interests in the City. In return, Persia would nearly always be in the company of trained fighters and adepts. It is a win/win scenario. Char needs no further incentive than the generous compensation Novya offers. Persia has her suspicions, but the offer sounds genuine and useful, and so she accepts.


Sometime afterward, Gilead receives a message from the zoo. His egg has hatched and there are some concerns. Since Hank and Tira are with him, he invites them along. Once they arrive at the zoo, they are floored to see that the egg has hatched into a nearly adult Naga, one of the snake human mutants of the Triangle near Niagara. They are further flabbergasted to find that the Naga can already speak Anglish and seems to know them all by name, despite never having met them. He introduces himself as Sirocco. He claims that all of the Nagas possess an innate empathy, which allows them to absorb knowledge and skills while still in the shell. In the Wilds, their egg would be watched over by their parents and the young Nagas would emerge already equipped to join Naga society as well as to survive in the harsh environment of the savage earth.

Sirocco presents a real problem, though. He is most certainly a mutant, but there are no others of his kind known to the city. He would certainly be mistaken for a Riven by an ignorant populace. He would be in danger of Purist attacks, banishment or general hostility wherever he went. Zookeeper Loris says she can offer him housing at the zoo for a short time, but a real solution must be found soon. Sirocco seems content to trust Gilead's judgment. With the loss of Soldier Ben who carried him secretly for so long, Gilead is the closest thing to a parent he has.

Gilead promises to resolve the problem, and consults his grandfather later. Elias is worried about damage to the family business and reputation should Sirocco stay with them, but promises to make some discreet inquiries as to where he might be safely housed. He has heard some rumors.


Tira has receives a most unusual invitation from the Master Psychist of the Hall of Healing. Healer Kashira has heard from Farallon the tale of how Hank was found and revived in the Wilds by Tira. She wishes to meet with the girl to see if anything can be done about a particularly vexing case.

Tira shoots Farallon dirty looks privately; too many people are becoming aware of her unusual abilities. Farallon apologizes, but he had told the story to Kashira in all innocence, not realizing that the case the psychist was working on would pique her interest. Nevertheless, Tira agrees to help.

She is brought into the presence of an animate. It is in fact, Peter Shroud, whom she last saw in the Mausoleum. The animate had been given a command by the Mingatok Master, Sarko, which caused his psyche to crumble. Peter has continued to live in his fashion, but he has been completely oblivious to his surroundings, untouchable even by the probes of the Healer. It is Kashira's hope that whatever qualities Tira possessed that allowed her to revive Hank might serve to restore Peter as well. Tira has no idea how to proceed but agrees to try.

The young adept clears her mind and reaches out to the animate. At first she perceives nothing, and indeed is about to give up the task as hopeless. However, she has an inspiration and decides to go to that odd place in her mind that allows her to contact Carina. Within a short time, she has made contact with Peter. He suddenly becomes aware of those around him. He speaks in a confused voice, not knowing how he came to be where he is. Soon all is explained to him and he reveals that he has no memories of the time that has past since he was attacked. He remembers being under the control of Sarko, but nothing afterward.

Kashira is amazed, but seems to quickly pick up on Tira's reluctance to discuss the matter any further. She asks no further questions, merely being content to have the city's oldest animate back.