Rod hides his weapons, borrows Murad’s Circlet of Persuasion and has him hide in his pocket as he heads to the council meeting. Quintin goes ahead and acts as magical security. On the way, Rod sends a message, using the Crystal of Communication to his half-sister Nelly: "It’s Rod, can’t explain, where is father?”. She responds: “I don’t know, he might be dead, but I’m not sure.”
Rod is led into the High Council chamber. In the room, he finds tow of the other nominees to the High Council – Baron Gareth Harles of Vale, and his “father-in-law”, Baron Maksim Waltin of Niya’s Pool. Soon after, the Baroness Elina Clyson of Sebluff storms into the room, upset that she has to remove her hat. Rod greets her, although she is less then thrilled about it. The High Councillors begin to filter in and take their seats. They are:
- Viscount Stuart Byton of Byton
- Marquess Vern Weedon of Seafield
- Earl Kellan Rand of Cuford
- Earl Brock Ortlander of Cumbrindy
- Duke Erol Attham of Niya’s Pool
- Duke Robern Cahorn of Baywick
Jelnorm, the representative of the Stars’ Children, approaches Rod and tells him to “be careful”, then walks away.
The Queen’s speaker enters the chamber, followed by the Queen, herself. The speaker reads the agenda and then asks the nominees to present themselves to the Queen. They each make their case for being chosen to sit on the council. Then, they are led off to await the decision of the council.
After about a half hour of deliberation, the nominees are led back into the council chamber. The speaker calls the Viscount Rodgerien DeloSiren to stand before the Queen to accept his seat on the High Council. The other nominees are dismissed.
The final agenda item is to decide whether or not to adopt the Low Council recommendation to sue for peace with the Coorish Trading League
Each of the council members gives what their opinion. Lords Byton and Rand and Duke Cahorn are in favour of the recommendation, hoping to use peace talks with the Coorish to redirect the war effort to the Lettanni front; Lords Ortlander and Duke Attham are against. Lord Weedon is undecided and Rod seems to want peace but does not feel that they should compromise their current position to achieve it. The Queen is most definitely against the motion.
The vote is taken: 4 for peace, 3 against (including Rod). The Queen is displeased and overturns the decision. Lords Byton and Rand are upset by this extraordinary use of royal authority. Duke Cahorn, says nothing but stands to leave the meeting. Knowing that walking out on the council before it is adjourned is an offence to the monarch, the Queen’s speaker abruptly ends the meeting. No notice is taken of the Duke’s near-insult.
Meanwhile, Quintin is standing guard outside the council chamber. He spots a vulture circling and lets Murad knows when he checks in. Quintin transforms into a vulture himself and follows a trail of scent. He finds a dead cat with a puncture wound in the back of its neck in the bushes. Quintin relays the info to Murad, who relays it to the mage that he met guarding the palace children. The mage, Ellard, finds Quintin who shows him the cat. Quintin estimates that the cat has been dead for over 24hrs. Ellard agrees that something is amiss, as he saw what he thought was the same cat earlier today.
Quintin goes back to the lab. Back at Rod’s estate, Murad meditates to prepare to travel to Wellsummer Island to find out about Manuel. Rod sends a message to the Duke of Cahorn requesting a meeting. He also sends a message to Maddy, asking to hire some of her most reliable men for guard duty at his house.
Murad travels through the trees, using Transport via Plants, attempting to reach Manuel’s abbey. He arrives near a building and begins to scout. It is definitely an abbey. To Murad, it seems not to have seen much use in a long time.
Murad enters the abbey through the bell tower, does a quick check and heads back to the dock area to see if he can find traces of Manuel. After much investigating, he determines that Manuel has not made it to the abbey yet. Murad decides to wait until he arrives. He finds a village nearby on the island where inquires about Manuel and the abbey. The village folk say that the Abbey of Bartholomew the Good had been empty for many years, after a plague wiped out most of the monks. About two months ago some soldiers were stationed there. They made it a habit of visiting the village, but they have not been seen in two or three weeks.
Back in Llantry, Quintin is invited to see the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn.
Rod gets a couple of Maddy’s boys setup to guard the house, with Saladin to oversee them.
Rod and Quintin go the Tower of Stars to see the High Archmage. On his desk is a stone that is creating images of the two Archmages, Celia Heqar and Yul Akafar, that preside over the Stars’ Children Academies in Prue and in Brindi, respectively. Archmage Akafar gives a report on the political situation in the Coorish Trading League. Caldy is going along with the war reluctantly and Leona is having problems with the Zinovans, even threatening to annex them. Akafar then asks Quintin what he knows of the Children of Zepha and their relationship with the merchant House of Fenne and Duke Cahorn. Quintin, with Rod’s help, updates them about what the party has found to this point.
Archmage Heqar informs the High Archmage that the academy in Prue is under threat from the Archduke of Lettan for their rumoured support of the Ealdurans. She gives the news that Gere Raimo will be leading the expedition to secure the node in Lettan. She also expresses concern that the sea voyage to the fourth node will take too long by boat. Heqar suggests that they should use one of the “shards”. Rod and Quintin are most interested to know what these are.
The High Archmage explains that the shards are a raw form of Ama – very powerful, but extremely dangerous. One shard would have enough power to and transport a small number of ships to their destination. Kurn laments that they have few shards left, some of them having recently gone unaccounted for. He decides to grant one shard to the party to use on their voyage into the Starbirth Sea. They are to see the High Alchemist, Heyrod on the morrow to collect it. They are also to obtain one vial of the Greater Attenuate from the High Alchemist, once it is completed.
Gralius Kurn asks the group to learn as much as they can about the magical node once they find it. This information may aid them in their fight to thwart the plans of the Children of Zepha. He adds that the Crystal of Communication is vital to this. He gives them a special container that, when the crystal is placed within it, will appear like a simple brass cup. Kurn will need to modify the crystal before they depart, so that he can send messages to it without being prompted.
Kurn thanks the Archmages for their help and dismisses them. He calls forth Molvin, the head researcher to tell what he found about the tokens that the group possesses. Molvin explains that tokens of the four gods are not uncommon, but these peculiar in their tendency to return to their owners. He found an ancient reference to a brooch that an Araran woman possessed that kept returning to her when she tried to give it away. It never left her until after she died. Molvin feels that these tokens hold some as-yet unrealized power within them. Molvin then leaves.
The High Archmage gives the group a chest filled with 20,000 Gold Swans. He suggest that they use it to buy passage across the sea. He also hands them a collection of maps of the area where the node is believed to be. Finally, he gives Quintin a small blue stone. It contains four copies of a spell, Submerge Ship, that can be cast on the ships in case the shard teleports them underwater. Kurn thanks the group for all they have done thus far and wishes them luck – to be guided by “the four points of light”.
Rod sneaks down to the docks to find Maddy, and makes a deal with her. They will pay her 3000 gold, 6000 in bank notes, and ownership of the Walrus for three ships fully crewed and supplied for the voyage.
Quintin buys 2000 Gold Swans worth of alchemical supplies and has them bring his alchemical wardrobe to the docks. He pays a last visit to Vina, the High Alchemist’s daughter, before he leaves. Quintin and Rod go to the Cathedral of Fira to collect Arah, priestess of the Benevolent.
Back outside the abbey on Wellsummer island, Murad leaves a message for Manuel to wait for the rest of the group to arrive. Then, Murad teleports back to Llantry, sort of – he ends up in an oak just north of the city. He visits the High Archmage so that he can modify the crystal as he explained.
As Rod rushes around making final preparations for the voyage, he receives a note from the Palace. It states that the Lords Byton and Rand and Duke Cahorn have withdrawn their troops from the Queen’s Army. There was some minor fighting as they left the city. Their armies were last seen marching along the north road. The lords can no longer be found. An emergency meeting of the High Council has been called for four bells this afternoon, the sixteenth day of Suriel. Rod suggests to Murad that they “take out” the Duke of Cahorn and his cohorts. Murad urges that they wait until after the meeting…