|OUR HEROES:||Tira Wolfsdaughter||Hank Woodman||Gilead||Haiku Odsdottir||Persia|
t has been a few days since the events in the tomb. Some of the things Tira said while under the influence of Kaukka's echoes still haunt Gilead and he has been avoiding her. Nevertheless, when she sees him leading an archery exercise in the Serenity Gardens, she corners him and talks to him. They are halfway towards an understanding when without warning, Tira is sprouting an arrow. She is being attacked by wraiths. Apparently the wraith is content with only wounding her and leaving a taunting message for Gilead. He has a piece of paper stuck onto the end of his sword that reads:
"One by one,
all that things that you love
will be taken from you."
Tira is rushed off to the Halls of Healing, where she receives the ministrations of Farallon.
Gilead is seriously worried now. The Celestial City definitely has it in for him. Apparently his attack upon the Most High was egregious enough to warrant special attention. He is more concerned than ever over the safety of his loved ones.
He does receive some good news upon returning home. Elias has found a solid lead on where Sirocco may be housed. There is a temple in Little Tallon where he might inquire. Little Tallon is the area outside the city gate upon the Uzon Road. It would be easier for riven to be hidden out there rather than in the confines of the city. He goes out to the temple in question and meets with a Father Dundy and his assisitant, Sister Winnipeg. After Dundy is convinced Gilead genuine, he introduce the young man to the riven he hides. There are four souls in his charge:
Turf, a man with plants growing all over his body
Red Rohina, a girl with red skin and six arms
Beedle, a man with blue skin and compound eyes
Thump, a riven with elephantine feet.
Gilead makes a pledge to help with the upkeep and is about to leave when trouble rears its head. A man has entered the temple demanding extortion money. Apparently, someone knows of the riven and is forcing the temple to pay to keep the situation silent. Gilead chases the man off, but not before giving him a warning never to return.
Meanwhile, Persia is awakened by a noise from below. Though she cannot see anything, she believe there to be a wraith in her house. Hank has installed some warning devices, designed to reveal the presence of wraiths by their incidental effects. Wind chimes across very entrance will make a ringing noise. She becomes aware that someone is spreading oil across her tapestries. Fortunately, Hank is also in the house. She summons him and together they chase off the intruder… maybe. The infuriating thing is that they never know if the wraith is still there, laughing at them, or even poised to kill them.
Persia realizes that it is too dangerous to remain in her home. They have discovered where she lives, and all those who live with her are in danger. She reluctantly accepts an offer from Novya to live a while in the Grandmaster's compound. Again Persia is drawn deeper into Novya's circle.
Hank is asked by Gilead to help him transport Sirocco to the temple of Patha in Little Tallon. Hank is actually nervous. He remember Ningan telling him over a year ago that he had a living descendant. , He had asked for the name just before the Tronto Expedition. Is this the temple where his last blood relative calls home?
Sure enough, the resemblance Sister Winnipeg bears to his long gone family is unmistakeable. As he reveals his identity, some of the things that Winnipeg said to Gilead make more sense. She is aware of the history of her illustrious ancestor. She is touched by the reunion. She and Hank compare stories and promise to talk more fully when time permits.
Hank is not the only person Gilead has brought. Persia, Char and Tira insist on coming, particularly when they are told of the extortion being practiced upon the temple. Clearly these men will be back. They will need to be taught a lesson.
Sirocco is introduced and made to feel comfortable. Hank goes about making repairs and improvements upon the meager and simple tunnels that the priest has cut back into the hillside.
Speaking of the tunnels, Father Dundy reveals that like the Night Folk, he also knew Persia's mother, Mranda. This temple was one of the safe houses used during the time of the Kanukkan purges. Though it was all but destroyed during the Karkulite siege, the tunnels and basic structure remained. He has fond memories of Mranda, and actually remembers meeting Persia when she was a kitten.
Sure enough, the bad guys arrive as if they were following a script. They approach the temple in a pack, nearly twenty strong. They wear hoods and carry torches. They demand that the riven be turned over to them.
It quickly becomes apparent that there are only two or three ringleaders among them. The rest have no stomach for fighting. They are easily broken apart by the seasoned adventurers. The gangsters get away, though they are tracked by Persia and Char to a nearby Storehouse. The rest manage to capture one of the attackers without injuring him too badly. Father Dundy reveals that he is a local. He knows the man.
The man is a blacksmith, who merely wants to keep his neighborhood free of riven, whom he deems a danger to the community and bad for business.
They manage to convince the man that he has been duped by criminals. He was not aware that the ringleaders were shaking the church down for money. He wants nothing to do with that. They let him go after extracting a promise to ignore the riven. Gilead makes a conscious effort to throw some business the man's way. He would like to win him over, since he seems a decent sort, just uneducated.