|OUR HEROES:||Tira Wolfsdaughter||Hank Woodman||Gilead||Haiku Odsdottir||Persia|
lias awakens one morning to find Gilead gone. In itself this is not unusual; he was due to return to his regiment that day at Fort Grisham. However, Gilead's weapons, armor and boots are still in his room. Elias' concern increases when Commander Oba comes to inquire Gilead's whereabouts. With the recent assassinations, Elias begins to get very upset, nearly frantic. Leaving Oba to conduct an investigation, he runs to Grandmistress Novya to beg a favor of her. Can she help? Novya agrees to send some people to investigate and lend aid.
Later that day, Hank comes over on an unrelated matter concerning the city restoration and is made aware of the problem. He agrees to do what he can, which in this case is admittedly not much.
Tira is contacted by Oba during the course of his investigation and immediately runs over to Elias' house to help. There she finds the team that Novya has sent. The Grandmistress must think much of Elias, for she has actually lent one of her Paladins, Canda. Also included is a Psychometrist, Angath. Most surprising is the inclusion of Persia and Char. Up until this point, the tow had barely been utilized, and Tira was not aware of their new employment. Nevertheless, that is something to consider at a later time.
Although Angath reads the room psychometrically, she actually defers to Student Tira. Either she is unsure of herself, or has instruction concerning the young adept. Between all assembled they re-construct a chain of events. They believe that Gilead and Elias were drugged the previous evening. Nothing exceedingly powerful, just enough to make sure they slept in a tranquilized state. Gilead was carried from his room by two assailants who were almost certainly wraiths.
Although Char cannot gain the spoor of the kidnapers, he can track them by following Gilead's smell. They are greatly aided by the discovery of gravemold in the room. They believe he has been taken to one of the cemeteries. Had they not had a good clue as to where he was being taken, they would surely have lost the trail.
Tira is briefly sidetracked by an alternate possibility, but rejoins them at the Eastern Cemetery. They arrive appropriately at about midnight. Searching and tracking, they determine that Gilead was dragged into one of the tombs. They naturally have a slight aversion to opening someone's crypt, but Canda the Paladin seems to bear authority and has no compunctions about what might amount to vandalism. She pulls the locked door from its hinges and they enter.
Inside they discover a tunnel leading down into the earth below the cemetery. There is also a dead body, dressed in civilian clothing that conceals military weapons and armor.
Persia suddenly realizes what this is. Her mother told her years ago that the Night Folk had secret tunnels in and out of the city, and that the tunnels lay beneath the old cemetery. Mranda had impressed upon her that the tunnels were to be avoided since they were "no longer safe". What she meant by this, she never explained. Persia explains this to the others, who become more concerned over Gilead than ever. The wraiths could even now be bearing him out of the city toward captivity in the Celestial City. Canda informs the group that she has a limit beyond which she may not willingly pass. She cannot leave the city without express orders from Novya. Paladins never travel far from their Grandmaster, to do so would weaken the lines that run between them. Regardless, she will accompany them for a time.
Soon they encounter their first Night Person. The mutant seems ill disposed towards helping them navigate the maze of passages until Persia identifies herself. Apparently the daughter of Mranda deserves a degree of respect from the mutants. He agrees to guide them. They begin to make real progress toward what he believes to be the most likely exit.
That they are on the right trail is confirmed when the attack comes. Out of nowhere they are suddenly beset by a wraith. Several are wounded in the attack, including the Psychometrist, who has no combat experience. The attack eventually ceases, but they have no idea if they have wounded the wraith or even damaged him. For all they know, he might be walking alongside them, listening to their every word. It is a deeply unsettling feeling. Any one of them could have their throat cut without warning.
Eventually they come out in a deep field of thorn bushes on a hill in view of the walls. Canda says she can go no further, but will go to the gates and get aid. They are now without the help of their most valuable fighter, about to face Gilead's invisible captors. Nevertheless, they continue on through the gloom of night. The trail is fairly obvious, leading down toward the waters of the inlet.
Soon they see the shore, and the body of Gilead bound and gagged upon the sand. They approach a bit closer, but of course, there is no sign of his captors. They realize they must abandond caution once they see a boat with a dimmed lantern rowing toward the shore. This must be some pre-arranged rendezvous. If they do not act immediately, Gilead will be out of their reach. In any case, they are suddenly attacked anyway. They storm the beach. Gilead regains consciousness, and does his best to help, but he is bound and wounded, having been ill handled during his trip underground.
Tira tries the trick that revealed the wraith during their first encounter with one of these invisible assassins. She reaches out with her power and commands all the lumina in the vicinity to light. The wraith adept seems to quickly understand what she is doing. At first they believe he is fleeing until they realize he has just tossed it away. Tira later recovers it.
Eventually, one of the wraiths (the one from the cavern apparently, who was indeed wounded) lies dead and revealed. There is noise from the direction of the city and the remaining wraith presumably retreats. Likewise the rendezvous boat reverses direction. Canda has arrived with reinforcements. They are all escorted and helped back to the city.