Exalted: Secrets of the Lost Age

Session One: Meeting
In which Yara demands more money.

The quartet all enter Nexus, exposing themselves, some for the first time, to the greasy underbelly that is the entire city.  Making their way to the Bastion district, they rapidly leave the grime, crime, and outright violence behind them.  They are welcomed at the penthouse of Kratz the Astrologer, a member of the Council of Entities.  While Kratz prepares a meeting room, the characters – Entaro, Jingcai, Rook, Yara, and five of the River Province Irregulars – are left alone in a sitting room, where they exchange basic pleasantries (though not one another's names).

Eventually, Kratz appears, an ancient woman dressed in spider-motif silks.  They are escorted into a positively opulent sitting chamber, where a feast is provided for them all.  During the feast, Kratz outlines her proposal: an expedition to the Tomb of Hatshep-Kur to retrieve a powerful Artifact, the Gauntlet of Dreams.  The Tomb has, until recently, been engulfed in a Wyld zone, but the zone has inexplicably ebbed, leaving the Tomb vulnerable.  She offers one hundred silver dinars each for the return of the Gauntlet; in addition, the characters may keep whatever other treasures are located within the Tomb.

Yara immediately demands more money, unsuccessfully.  Though Kratz sweetens the pot with promises of fame, provisions, and even a bonus if the characters return swiftly, she refuses to up the ante.  She also promises to provide Jingcai with tomes of the history of Hatshep-Kur.  She asks Entaro to prepare his ship, which he claims will take three days.  True to her word, Kratz has provisions and porters sent to the ship.  She also allows the characters to stay in one of the finest inns in Cinnabar, using only her name as payment.  The characters finally make introductions, as they prepare for the journey two weeks to the south.  

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Session Two: The Tomb of Hatshep-Kur
In which Rook gets his ass kicked, kind of...

The group sets sail from Nexus with little delay.  On their two-week journey south, they pass a few river pirates who want nothing to do with the heavily-manned and armed ship.  When they do finally land, Rook scouts on ahead while the River Province Irregulars help Entaro's crew to carry supplies.  Rook finds the Gemstone Wetland, a section of land that has been transformed into living jewels by the Wyld zone.  They discover that when the gems are plucked, they return to unremarkable material, much to the disappointment of the men. 

Rook continues scouting, and finds the Tomb.  Further, he finds a Fair Folk cataphract guarding it, and chooses to remain hidden.  When the rest of the expedition arrives, the Fair Folk challenges them and insists she cannot allow them inside.  Despite Entaro's solid efforts, the situation comes down to combat.  Two more Fair Folk, identical to the first, appear as if from nowhere, surprising Entaro and Jingcai.  Rook, for his part, surprises the first of the Wyrd sisters.  A thirty-second scuffle ensues, during which Rook, Entaro, and Yara are all wounded, (and during which Rook manages to steal the sword from one of the sisters), before the first of the Wyrd sisters is slain.  At that point, the other two surrender, asking only that they be allowed to take their slain sister with them. 

Once the cataphractoi are dealt with, Rook and Jingcai begin to examine the door to the Tomb.  Rook locates extremely faint writing in Old Realm, which Jingcai translates; together, they use the writing to open the door.  Inside, opulence abounds, in a single large room filled with treasures and a sarcophagus.  While Entaro, Rook, and Yara loot the treasures, Jingcai opens the sarcophagus to find a mummified corpse bearing a golden gauntlet.  She and Entaro perform the burial rites, and Entaro uses his anima power to turn the corpse to ash.  Jingcai retrieves the gauntlet, only to discover it is an elaborate and expensive forgery. 

Searching more thoroughly, she finds a secret door in the bottom of the sarcophagus, which Rook opens onto a 100-foot vertical shaft.  He begins to descend on a rope, when Essence lasers begin firing at him.  He tries to disarm them, but is struck and nearly killed.  His friends haul him up on the rope, and he begins his recovery.  In the meantime, Jingcai summons an air elemental, a sylph, who scouts the rooms below while Rook heals.  After five days, when he has sufficiently recovered (and everyone else has fully recovered), he attempts again to disarm the Essence lasers, this time successfully. 

In the chamber beneath, the expedition finds five doors, each marked with a symbol of one of the castes of Solar Exalted.  Further, those symbols can be removed.  Each door leads to a hallway, which turns right, and empties right back into the central chamber, as an Essence-powered maze effect.  Yara is the first to realize this fully, which allows her to see through the illusion and locate a sixth door in the central chamber.  When she opens it, the group finds themselves in the true Tomb of Hatshep-Kur.

The Tomb has five standing sarcophagi, one for each member of Hatshep-Kur's Circle.  The heroes use the removed glyphs from the previous rooms, along with a mote of Essence each, to unlock the sarcophagi, revealing their treasures.  Mighty Orr's contains the grand grimcleaver "Punishment," which Yara claims.  Tanethaela the Divine's contains a golden, cracked mask, engraved with her ever-present haiku, and with the word "Sidereal" written in Old Realm, in blood.  Beloved Sparrow's contains a sack of maps of First Age cities with ley lines and places of power marked.  The Silent Monk's contains a pair of cunningly crafted leather bracers, which let the bearer hide a small weapon or a set of thieves' tools.  Finally, Hatshep-Kur's contains the corpse of the Eclipse-caste Solar, as well as the true Gauntlet of Dreams. 

After performing the funereal rites on Hatshep-Kur, the group can safely return to Nexus, where Kratz the Astrologer pays them for their time and effort and thanks them profusely.  They sell their loot to museums, collectors, etc., and make a handy pile of money. 

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Session Three: The Tomb of Singing Blades
In which Yara gets a shiny...

Once the characters have recovered from their previous adventure, they begin researching their next expedition.  Looking over the maps Jingcai recovered from the Tomb of Hatshep-Kur, they perform some research at the Nexus library and determine their best chance of success lies with Denandsor, a First Age city that survived into the Shogunate and was finally felled during the Fair Folk invasion and the Contagion. 

Using Entaro's connections, they meet with a local Guild factor, a man by the name of Gaspar Creel.  Creel is a suave, sophisticated, extremely wealthy man who greets Entaro like family.  He explains the group can have a standard expedition loan from the Guild, at a discounted interest rate since Entaro is a member.  Further, the Guild asks for the first chance to buy any items the group successfully recovers and wishes to sell.  The group agrees, on the condition that Creel hires the River Province Irregulars as the group's mercenary guard, and a compact is formed.  Creel offers to arrange the minutiae of the expedition if the characters can wait three weeks for him to make proper arrangements, and they agree to this as well.

During those three weeks, Jingcai performs further research into the Tomb of Singing Blades, as she knows it is the resting place of Mighty Orr, one of Hatshep-Kur's circlemates.  She goes to investigate the tomb personally, and Entaro and Yara accompany her.  Two guards stand outside the Tomb, and inform the characters that attempting to enter the Six Tombs of Nexus is forbidden by the Council under pain of a hefty fine (and possibly death by Tomb).  They successfully confuse the guards enough to let them "study" the tomb.

The tomb is a dome of what appears to be diamond, with a single door facing West and an orichalcum spire on top that attracts unusual amounts of lighting strikes.  More importantly, the tomb is surrounded by its eponymous blades, hundreds of daggers swirling around the tomb at high velocity that carve apart anything that attempts to enter.  This includes a warstrider, the ruins of which remain within the field of blades. 

After several attempts to scientifically enter the Tomb without success (throwing rocks to knock daggers off course, throwing rocks OVER the blades, etc.), Yara gets fed up and activates Heavenly Guardian Defense.  She strides through the field of blades (to the dismay of the guards), her axe flashing up and into the path of every dagger that tries to strike her.  She makes it to the door, and after a couple unsuccessful rounds of trying to open it cannily (during which she continues having to activate Heavenly Guardian Defense and begins glowing), she puts her shoulder into it and the door opens.

Once inside, Yara is safe from the knives.  The dome is empty within save for a control panel on the far wall, which Yara investigates.  With an uncanny roll, she determines that the instructions, though convoluted, are right there on the device, and uses it to turn off the blades.  Entaro grabs the guards, and they and Jingcai all rush inside, at which point Yara turns the blades back on. 

On the console, there is a switch marked "casket," which Yara immediately flips.  The center of the floor opens and a large, stone casket rises from the floor, sparsely decorated with sigils in Old Realm to placate the spirit of the body within.  Yara heaves open the casket, wherein they find Mighty Orr, still clutching his daiklave Immaculate Demise, and wrapped head-to-toe in chains.  When Yara touches the daiklave, Orr begins struggling against the chains.  Jingcai uses Spirit-Detecting Glance to confirm that his hungry ghost is attempting to animate the corpse.

Fortunately, Entaro is present and uses his anima power to lay the hungry ghost to rest.  Orr dissolves into dust, at which point Yara successfully claims his daiklave.  The party waits until Yara's glowing forehead has calmed down before Jingcai sends an Infallible Messenger to Kratz, the Astrologer, informing her that they have defeated a hungry ghost in the Bastion district (which is technically true).  Then, Jingcai, Entaro, and the guards leave, Yara turns the blades back on, and walks back out using Heavenly Guardian Defense. 

When Kratz and more guards turn up, the characters are enjoying a lovely lunch in the park that surrounds the Tomb.  Kratz asks them if they had anything to do with the Tomb break-in, to which Yara lies (badly).  Kratz sighs and informs them that if anyone DID successfully enter the Tomb, and if they had good reason, the Council would be likely to waive the fine.  Kratz suggests that the guards should be whipped for their inaction, when Entaro points out that anyone who could successfully enter the Tomb would likely be more than a match for the guards, to which Kratz agreed and rescinded her punishment.  Yara maintained her fiction that "someone else" must have done it, at which point Kratz left in exasperation. 

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Session Four: Go West, Young Man!

After the events of the Tomb of Singing Blades, Yara and Entaro decide to seek their fortunes elsewhere than in the Scavenger Lands.  Jingcao and Rook continue on their adventures to Denandsor, while Entaro and Yara choose to return to Coral, Entaro's birthplace, and regroup from there. 

Because of the vagaries of ocean currents and travel, and also as part of a deal with the Guild to help renegotiate their previous funding, the Purgatory's Zenith traveled south around the Blessed Isle, making first for Chiaroscuro, then An-Teng, before finally making north for Wu Jian and then Coral.  In An-Teng, to make a little extra money and fill up empty cabins, the Zenith took on passengers, including a new navigator, as their previous navigator seemed to have vanished into the warren of dockside bars and brothels in An-Teng.

As the vessel drew nearer to Wu Jian, the lookout spotted a landmass that wasn't on the new navigator, Kai Gheron's, charts.  The landmass furthermore began to draw nearer to the vessel, until it became apparent that it was some manner of living creature when Entaro looked overboard and saw its giant eye.  Moments later, eight tentacles rose up around the ship and the fight was on.

Yara and Entaro both leapt to the fight, showing no hesitation about brandishing their orichalcum weapons.  Yara nearly severed one tentacle in a single blow, while Entaro's blade flashed rapidly, like lightning.  Surprisingly, Kai Gheron also became embroiled in the fight, shortly beginning to glow a soft but bright yellow that was not at all the same as Entaro's golden aura.  Finally, during the fight a previously unmet passenger leapt overboard and began attacking the main body of the creature with silver claws…

After all the tentacles were dispatched, Entaro leapt into the water like a fiery comet, finishing off the wounded beast with a single, powerful blow.  The unknown passenger introduced herself as Kushtaka, and though she declined to mention how she grew silver claws to fight the kraken-thing, Kai at least seemed to have his suspicions.

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Session Five: The Blockade of Wu Jian

When the Purgatory's Zenith finally made port in Wu Jian, all aboard were amazed at the derelict state of the city – it was no more or less derelict than previously, but it is still amazing.  At the dock, the Zenith was greeted by an officious-looking bureaucrat named Meticulous Owl, who introduced himself as an assistant to the dock master.  He regretfully informed Entaro of the current political climate between the Realm and the Guild, a tense one owing to some disagreement about a shipment.  He told Entaro that, until the debacle was sorted out, the Realm was blockading Guild ships in the harbor, and that no goods could be unloaded, and passengers and crew were confined to the wharf.  As apology, he also made it clear that the wharf's establishments were open to the Guildsmen and their crews/passengers free of charge. 

The group immediately split up.  Kai Gheron slipped through the lackluster guards to meet with one of his Connections, a fellow called the Thiefmaker.  The Thiefmaker gave more background on the incident; the Guild had apparently failed to deliver on a promised shipment, things went sour extremely quickly, triremes were involved, and at least three ships were sunk in the harbor, with multiple fatalities.  The Guild has since been attempting to placate the Realm, to apparently no avail.  When asked as to the motives of those involved, the Thiefmaker could give no advice.  Entaro instead went to one of his Guild Contacts along the wharf, getting much the same information (though according to his contact, the Guild had delivered the shipment as described).  Yara also slipped through the guards deeper into the city to gather information from the Realm side of things, and learned how dangerously close to open violence the citizens were against the Guild.  The burden of the "free" services has been put on the shoulders of the businesses of Wu Jian, and the citizenry were all tired of the debacle.  Kushtaka, meanwhile, performed the Sacred Hunt on a kingfisher to add a flying form to her Heart's Blood library.  Guards will be telling tales for years about the wharf cat that decided to hunt and kill a kingfisher, apparently successfully.

The group reconvened at an establishment on the wharf called the Barrel and Scripture, a once-holy temple to the Immaculate Dragons, now defiled and debased by the denizens of Wu Jian.  Kai Gheron offered to actually pay the barkeep for their meals and drinks, which included Southern fire squid, a delicacy said to be so spicy that no mortal can enjoy it.  Kushtaka and Yara enjoyed it just fine.  Kai and Entaro found it a bit too painful for their liking.  They shared information over the meal, and decided they needed to investigate the goings-on further, perhaps by utilizing Entaro's Backing to get an invite to meet the Guild negotiator.

Before they could act on the information, a brawl broke out between two of Wu Jian's rival martial arts gangs, in this case the Raitons and the Siakas.  The group was dragged into the fight, where they acquitted themselves exceptionally well, injuring but not killing any of the gangsters who tried to attack them.  In the middle of the brawl, one of the Siakas Exalted as a fire-aspected Dragon-Blooded, burning a number of people severely and setting the Barrel and Scripture on fire. 

Everyone evacuated the building, and a fire brigade was quickly set up.  Yara kept a close watch on the newly Exalted Dragon-Blood, while Kai, Entaro, and Kushtaka helped immensely with the brigade, putting out the Barrel and Scripture before the fire could spread to the rest of Wu Jian.  Immediately thereafter, the Raitons formed a mob intent on killing the newly Exalted, but Entaro and Kushtaka managed to talk them down through a combination of reason and threat.  Before either side could catch a breath, Realm horns sounded, announcing the arrival of Realm forces.  Everyone successfully fled, and the group reconvened on the Zenith.  After some discussion, which did not include getting the Dragon-Blood's name but did involve forcing him to stand in a half-barrel of water to prevent further fires, they decided to keep him away from the Realm and likely help smuggle him out of Wu Jian when they left.

With that emergency handled for the moment, Kushtaka assumed her new kingfisher form and went to spy on the Realm triremes that were patrolling the harbor.  She learned that they were planning to attack the two-dozen Guild ships in two days, and reported this back to the group.  The group then prevailed upon Entaro to get them invited to meet with the Guild negotiator, who readily invited them to come to speak with him, at least partially due to Entaro's reputation as an Exalt. 

Once the group snuck back past the guards and into the Guild factor's domain, they were treated to a pleasant repast of foods and drinks.  The Guild factor, Iezu Zole, welcomed them like brothers and insisted they stay in his lodgings for the night.  He told them of the Guild's efforts to deliver the agreed-upon shipment, the Realm's apparently illogical retaliation, and, despite the Guild's best offers, the Realm keeps shifting their demands to end the blockade.  The Guild, at least from the factor's perspective, is wholly innocent and wants nothing more than to appease the Realm for whatever slight occurred. 

The Guild factor's spies provided the location of the head Realm negotiator, Iselsi Lien, who serves as functional head of Wu Jian's government.  Kushtaka assumed her cat form and snuck into Lien's sitting chambers, where she was meeting with none other than Meticulous Owl.  Owl seemed to be the dominant of the two, which was extremely odd for a dock master's assistant.  Lien took advice from Owl on how to keep changing the Realm's demands in the most Byzantine possible ways, obviously stalling for time.  Kushtaka returned with this information, whereupon Kai Gheron used his Sidereal magics to learn that Owl arrived on a boat from Skullstone and lived in a run-down district of Wu Jian not particularly near the wharf. 

Suspicious, Kai went to investigate Owl's lodgings himself.  He found a near derelict shanty and, moments later, he found Owl himself returning from Lien's apartments.  He watched from a hidden location as Owl searched for twenty full minutes to make sure no one was watching him, before he pulled a silver bowl from a hidden hole in the floor.  He bled into it, and knelt as if in prayer.  Kai heard a voice from the bowl demand a report, and Owl gave it, referring the the voice as "master" and promising havoc within two days.  The voice warned Owl that "agents of Heaven were about," and Kai chose discretion over valor, departing to report what he had learned. 

Now, the group plans to have Entaro join in on the negotiations the next day, while the remainder of the group goes to have a little chat with Owl during the daylight hours. 

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Session Six: Ending the Blockade

Our heroes initially split up, with Kai Gheron and Entaro Gasona seeking to oppose Iselsi Lien at the negotiating table while Yara and Kushtaka hunted down Meticulous Owl.  Yara hid in an alley several blocks away, and Kushtaka became a house cat to investigate Owl's hut.  Kushtaka found the door open, and a strange woman sitting inside, bedecked in skulls and holding a soulsteel daiklave across her knees.  When Kushtaka got too close, the woman, apparently out of sheer cruelty, attempted to kill her with the daiklave.  Kushtaka dodged and got the hell out of there. 

Meanwhile, at the negotiating table, Iezu Zole and Kai Gheron assisted Entaro in his attempts to negotiate a bureaucratic solution to their problem.  With Listener-Swaying Argument and Authority-Radiating Stance both active, Entaro managed to convince everyone in the room except Lien that he was in charge, and everyone, Lien included, was forced to concede that he was winning the negotiations.  Eventually, after five grueling hours, Lien was forced to accede to the Guild's demands, promising to end the blockade.  However, Entaro noticed that she was not entirely sincere, and inferred from a single, pointed glance to one of her lieutenants, that the attack on the Guild was going to happen regardless, and soon!

Entaro managed to lure one of Lien's other lieutenants aside, and with judicious use of Irresistible Salesman Spirit, managed to make a powerful friend in Lien's court.  The lieutenant, one Mnemon Jin, confided that Lien was not operating with the council's permission.  He further stated that if Gasona could find evidence that Lien was somehow a traitor, he felt confident he could remove her from power without loss of life on either side. 

Entaro and Kai left and met up with Yara and Kushtaka, and all sides shared their stories.  The group decided to go investigate the mysterious woman in Owl's house further.  Kai chose to remain hidden, while the other three approached normally.  Upon drawing near, Yara's keen senses detected Owl hiding in an alley nearby.  She relayed this information, and Kushtaka called Owl out.  Surprisingly, Owl emerged from his hiding place, willing to talk, but only inside. 

He asked the characters what they already knew, to save him time, and he clarified a few points.  First, he was not working for Skullstone as they suspected, but he would not name his true master.  Secondly, he was working against the Deathlords, as he felt they were the greatest threat to Creation.  Thirdly, the "war" between the Guild and the Realm was intended to be a diversion, after which he would release information implicating Skullstone as a third-party manipulator, just as the PCs had feared was the case.  By doing so, he hoped to turn both the Realm and the Guild, potent regional factions, against Skullstone and the Silver Prince. 

While he offered to allow the PCs to escape the blockade, Entaro and Yara were not on board with letting the war continue.  Intimidated by the group's obvious martial prowess, even with the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile at his disposal, he agreed instead to turn over the evidence so long as the group swore to let him and the Maiden escape and to do everything in their power to see the evidence was used.  The group so swore, and Owl bound the oath with the power of the Neverborn.  Then, he and the Maiden left swiftly.  Kai Gheron followed them, only to watch them disappear into a Shadowland inside Wu Jian. 

The group was good to their word, and distributed the evidence to Mnemon Jin, who used his influence with the council to arrest and imprison Iselsi Lien.  Iezu Zole offered membership in the Guild to anyone who wanted it, as a reward, and Yara and Kushtaka both took him up on the offer.  Further, Jin paid a healthy monetary reward, as well as providing each of them with a medal as thanks from the Realm (he was unaware of the irony).  Finally, with their Dragon-Blooded gangster safely ensconced in the bowels of the Zenith, they left Wu Jian behind. 

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Session Seven: The Dread Captain

On the way to Coral, the Purgatory's Zenith came across another ship on fire, flames billowing from its deck and flanks.  In a rowboat nearby was an unconscious woman, a Tya from the look of her tattoos.  They rescued her and the ship's doctor cared for her numerous wounds.  When she woke, she identified herself as Kara Shade, former captain of the Azure Gambit.  She claimed her vessel had been attacked by the Dread Captain Skarl Dragonslayer, a vicious sharkman pirate who always leaves one survivor to tell the tale of his brutality.  Entaro offered Shade passage to Coral, which she gratefully accepted.  

After a month in Coral spent gambling, fraternizing, drinking, and who knows what else, Entaro "and his command crew" received an invitation from the Admiralty Court to meet.  The Admiralty Court, led by Shanston Red, aka "Old Blood," offered Entaro first dibs on an increased reward for Skarl Dragonslayer's death, due to his "special nature."  The group immediately tried to wrangle First Age weapons out of the Court, to no avail.

Thinking quickly, Yara, Kushtaka, and Entaro (Kai Gheron was nowhere to be found) all went to Plentimon's casino, immediately wagering strength, experience, and more that they would succeed at returning with Skarl Dragonslayer dead, under the assumption that if they failed, they would be too dead to miss their wagers.  Plentimon happily accepted, utilizing the Artifact in his basement to allow them to wager literally anything.

The Zenith set sail and set about tracking down Skarl based on his last known location.  It took a month of sailing, but the ships finally found one another.  Skarl immediately turned to fight, bearing down like a rabid rhinoceros.  Yara fired the Zenith's ballista, taking out a handful of his demon crew.  In return, Skarl's pet sorcerer fired a Death of Obsidian Butterflies at the ship, leaving many of the River Province Irregulars and Entaro's crew bleeding and wounded.  

When the ships drew near, boarding parties from both ships traded blows.  Entaro immediately targeted the opposing sorcerer, slicing him in half and also decapitating him in a single blow.  Yara and Kushtaka made for Skarl, and a glorious battle ensued.  Unfortunately for him, Skarl was no match for the Exalted, and Yara cleaved his chest with her axe, leaving him to bleed out on the deck.

The Exalted rapidly cleaned up the remainder of Skarl's crew, who literally fought to the last man.  No captives were taken.  On Skarl's ship, the Nightmare, the crew (eventually) found a map to a hidden cave in a shallow reef.  Navigating the dangers of the reef, the heroes found treasure beyond their wildest dreams, enough to give everyone in the party Resources 4.  They also returned to Coral for their rewards, both monetary and ephemeral.  

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Session Eight: The Assassinations

While Entaro was on his way back to the ship from some errand or another, he was ambushed by a shadowy assailant, whom he barely managed to notice in time to parry the assassin's strike.  An extremely short battle followed wherein Entaro killed the hell out of the attacker.  The assailant, who had no face, only a smooth, grey head, melted into a viscous slurry when killed, leaving behind only his unremarkable (and now messy) clothing and his knife.

Entaro investigated the weapon, noting both the presence of an unidentified substance on the blade and the presence of the maker's mark, "NM."  He immediately found a local apothecary (read: poisoner), who identified the substance as Grave Dust, a cruel poison comprised of ingredients from the Underworld.  

Entaro reported back to the ship, sharing the details of his venture with the rest of his command crew.  Together, they identified the maker's mark as belonging to Noria Mabusa, a spectral smith who operates out of Skullstone and whose steel is sought all across Creation.  They also identify the assassin as a Greater Minion of the Eyeless Face, a being summoned (created?) through powerful sorcery of the Sapphire Circle.

About this time, they receive an invitation from Shanston Red, asking them to meet with the Admiralty Court again.  When they arrive, Red reveals that every member of the Court was also targeted for assassination, with several of the assassins succeeding.  He shares that only the intervention of a pair of wandering "heroes" saved his own life, and introduces none other than Meticulous Owl and the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile.

Red asks Entaro and crew to investigate the assassinations, meaning that they will need to actually GO to Skullstone, a plan that none of them appreciate.  They decide to take the Nightmare instead of Entaro's ship, as an attempt to disguise their arrival.  Meticulous Owl volunteers to come with, but leaves the Maiden behind to help protect the remaining members of the Court against further assassination attempts.

Upon arriving in Skullstone, Owl used some strange magic to appear as someone else, and the crew set off.  They investigated Noria Mabusa, who appeared to be a perfectly legitimate businesswoman.  She revealed that she HAD produced a bundle of daggers matching the description of the assassins' weapons, but that they had been requisitioned by the palace.  She even showed them the bill of lading indicating that they had been signed for by a Marius Wolfe.

The PCs also investigated known sorcerers in Onyx, Skullstone's capital, but determined that they were only mortals, and could not have been initiated into the Sapphire Circle of sorcery.  Kushtaka also hunted one of the red widows that populate the island to add its shape to her library.

The PCs then received another invitation, this time to the palace, where the Silver Prince had prepared a dinner in their honor.  Upon meeting with him, the group was extremely up front about their intentions, even going so far as to implicate the Silver Prince himself.  He proposed an alternative theory, producing a Sidereal spy from his dungeons.  The group was unconvinced by his evidence, though the Sidereal did admit to being a Sapphire sorcerer (but then, so did the Silver Prince).

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