As they leave the Tower or Stars, Murad explains that he can travel across the world by transporting through plants. Rod does not relish the thought.
Rod disguises himself as Aeric and goes to the Journeyman’s Rest tavern to find out more about the would-be assassins. The bartender suggests that they are members of the Guild of Thieves and directs him to the docks district. Rod heads to the docks and finds a suitably seedy tavern. Inside, he talks to a man named Gailen. Rod asks about the two would-be assassins. He leaves the assassin’s dagger with Gailen and says that they shouldn’t have taken the contract to try and attack Rod. Rod then waits outside. When Gailen emerges a few minutes later, he follows him to what looks like a hideout.
When Murad returns to Rod’s estate, Yulando greets him, looking bored. He asks Murad if they are going home soon. Murad explains that he can take him home at anytime if he wants but that he would learn more if he stayed with Murad – they will be leaving soon on the next sea voyage. Yulando seems somewhat reassured by this.
In the morning, Quintin does some research into new formulas. After speaking with his laboratory colleague, Brodie, Quintin learns that their research on the enhanced Attenuate formula should be complete within the next day or two.
Back at his estate, Rod learns from Kent that a letter has arrived for him. It is an invitation from Lady Clyson to meet her for tea that afternoon at her estate. He is informed that his family’s warehouse would fetch about 10000 Gold Swans. Lastly, Kent gives him the notice that he has been formally nominated for the vacant High Council seat. He is to attend the High Council meeting on the morrow at 11 bells.
At around noon, the group goes to the Cathedral of the Benevolent, in the city’s southern quarter, to meet with the matriarch and to find out about Manuel. A priestess leads them to a room with Dwynn, Matriarch of the Benevolent. They are asked to kneel before her. Quintin kneels but Rod and Murad just look at each other and shrug. She invites them to sit.
She mentions the Abbey of Bartholomew the Good in the Hanum islands. It was once used by the Order of the Righteous Wave, of which Manuel was a member. She explains that it was abandoned for many years after a a plague had wiped out most of its members. In recent months, it has been occupied by the Queen’s army, who are using it as an outpost. Some three weeks ago, she received a message from their commander that they had seen a monk, not of the abbey’s order, wearing crimson robes with a glowing triangle on his forehead. The triangle is the symbol of Zaur, the Malevolent. The church sent a priestess and some guards to investigate, but they lost contact with them. When the Matriarch learned that Manuel would be visiting the capitol, she arranged to bring him to the cathedral. When she spoke with him, she mentioned the abbey and the sighting of the crimson monk. Manuel claimed to have no insight into this although she feels that he seemed deeply disturbed by the news. She asked him to stay overnight at the cathedral – she had some more questions for him. The next morning, when they went to fetch Manuel, he was gone. They spent the next few days looking for him within the city. They learned that he hired a boat and was seen sailing to the west, to the Bay of the Protector. She believes he is heading to the abbey.
She asks the group if they would be willing to go to the abbey to learn what has happened and to find their friend. They eagerly agree. She thanks them and offers the services of one of her priestesses for the mission.
Outside, Quintin is frustrated that Manuel did not come to them for aid. Quintin offers to speak with the High Archmage to explain the situation and the mission. At the Tower of the Stars, Quintin explains the proposed mission to High Archmage Kurn. Quintin mentions that Murad has offered to transport them to the abbey through plant-based teleportation. Kurn consents to the mission but expresses concern about the teleportation magic. He explains that accidents have been happening lately when such high level magics are being used. Murad should test his magic first. Quintin agrees to tell Murad this.
Murad and Rod head to Lady Clyson’s estate. A servant tries to have Murad wait outside, but Rod will have nothing to do with it. After some behind-closed-doors complaints, the Lady concedes to seeing them both. Rod introduces Murad as his adviser and bodyguard. Lady Clyson tells him that she has received word that his step-mother and half-sister are alive, in Marakfall. She asks Rod if he has been nominated for the High Council seat, to which he answers yes. She suggests that, if he wanted to focus on trying to save his family, she could sit on the High Council to represent his house’s interests in his stead. Rod declines the offer, but thanks her for information on his family. She seems disappointed and somewhat angered.
After returning to Rod’s estate, Murad sends messages to Sota and Ita, back on Calmuth Island, asking about Princeton and his people. He is told that his people are well and are still hidden. Princeton is now occupied by the Lettanni but the Governor is holding out within the keep. Their friend, Taipa, has visited to make sure the people are alright.
Early the next morning, Murad and Yulando head out to test Murad’s plant transporting powers. Murad transports them to a tree near Marakfell but Yulando is not with him. Murad sends him a message asking him where he is. It turns out that he never left Rod’s estate. Murad contacts the Matriarch to ask if she also has noticed problems with higher level spells; she confirms that she has noticed this also. Murad regrets to say that he will not be able to transport the group to the abbey as he planned. They will have to take a more mundane mode of transportation.
Instead, Murad teaches Yulando some simple spells. Then, as a small Roc, he takes the lad on a flight to see the lands north of Llantry. Yulando is impressed by the natural beauty.
Rod gets ready for the High Council meeting. He stashes most of his weapons in his bag, but still keeps a pair of daggers on him very well hidden. He dons his glamoured armour. As he gets into the carriage to leave, they hear some sort of chanting or singing off to the west. This triggers Rod’s memory – today is the 15th day of Suriel – the Day of the Justifier…