With Speaks-of-Silence now safe, the party attempts to forge unlikely alliances to get rid of the Tepet army.
“Love is something that is… inescapable.”
With Speaks-of-Silence safe and sound, the party agrees to rest for the night before making their next move. They determine the best plan would be to meet Tepet Crest Exultant on his airship, and attempt to convince him to help them rid Nexus of the army by proving the disease doesn’t exist… or at least faking a “cure” for it. Speaks-of-Silence also cautions the group to be wary of who they choose to trust going forward.
Everyone settles in to rest, with a few exceptions: Rey insists on taking the first watch despite Jorek’s protests. This challenge to his authority pushes Jorek’s sense of uselessness over the edge and triggers a Limit Break! As he sinks into a bleak and reckless state, an alcohol-fueled Jorek steals a hidden piece of paper from under Alvor’s mattress and sneaks a peak at it. The mysterious note, however, only reveals that Summer Blaze had been teaching Rey’s father to read and write. Depressed, he gets into his bed, disturbing a sleeping Speaks-of-Silence. She’s uncomfortable and, after a quick talk with Val, leaves to get some air. She hangs out with Rey for awhile and wonders how Rey is able to keep from thinking of Ember every second of every day. Rey responds that he isn’t the only important part of her life, and starts to wonder if S-o-S has anyone in the party on her mind. Before everyone going to sleep, Jorek seeks a stronger vice to satisfy his temptation, and takes some of the red crystal: not in his wildest fantasies has he ever felt so incredibly euphoric, and he forms an immediate (if minor) addiction to the drug.
The next morning, Speaks-of-Silence, Jorek, Valeria and Rey take a cart to Crest’s airship while Three Fates Shadow follows at a distance. Ember is left to watch over Tide, though neither one seems particularly pleased about it. Jorek’s foul humor continues. Arriving at the airship, they are asked to leave their weapons and are invited on board by Crest himself, despite Jorek’s rude superiority. As Val and Rey climb aboard, Jorek has a brief moment with Speaks-of-Silence at the cart, who admits her attraction to him. Crest insists the group head below decks to understand both his circumstances and the true meaning of the ship’s name, “Dream Prison”.
Below decks, the trio find a mysterious rock glowing with energy which seems to be powering the ship, small dryad-like creatures tending to small pools, and a very large green-skinned creature with clothing made of vines. This last presents herself as Rain-After-Storms, a self-styled “queen” and Fae. She seems to be bound to Crest Exultant: in exchange for powering his airship, he provides her with a daily offering of what she craves: sadness and desperation. Jorek’s continued need to overindulge has him ingratiating himself to the Fae, hoping to forge an alliance; before leaving, Rain-After-Storms looks to feeds on Jorek’s sadness and despondence, and tempts him with an orichalcum artifact. In accepting, he feels all of his grief leaving his soul, and he inherits two leather straps inlaid with orichalcum, aptly-named “Smash Fists”.
Crest Exultant lays bare his circumstances to the Solars: he is required to keep the airship at the ready for House Tepet, keep the “sailors” on board occupied, and maintain the conditions of Rain-After-Storms’ oath. He has no love for the Dragon-Blooded house holding him to this life, and reveals that his husband is being kept a prisoner as collateral by a merchant prince in Chiaroscuro (to the south of the Blessed Isle). He is reluctant to help the Solars in their task, until Rey and Valeria promise to help Crest find his husband. In exchange, he will be the hero who “discovers” the disease’s cure. Jorek fails to sanctify the oath because of his current addiction; sensing something amiss, Crest searches Jorek, breaking his hidden crossbow and revealing his drug habit to the disgusted other two. Showing mercy and compassion, he promises to agree to the terms, but only if Jorek can destroy the drugs. He does so, trying to frame his personal strength as a victory over the Immaculate Order as well.
The deal made, the Solars descend from the airship. Valeria takes a moment to try to allay some of Jorek’s shaken self-confidence: “I would put you in the throne, Jorek,” she says, and he returns the sentiment. Getting ready to head into Nexus, Speaks-of-Silence impulsively pulls Valeria in for a kiss. When Jorek whispers to her that he knew the two of them would make good mates, she snaps back that it’s in fact he and Speaks-of-Silence who are the true mates!
Deciding to head to the river instead of through the gates into Nexus, Three Fates Shadow appears with news of an approaching rider: the richly-dressed owner of the tea shop where Jorek had met the Emissary. He approaches, reporting fires and despair in the city, and asks Jorek why he couldn’t have saved “them” (the Council of Nine). As he collapses forward and is caught by Rey, the group realizes he is, in fact, Klem’s husband and the God of trade in Nexus; they rush to the river, promising to set things right.
While they race towards Nexus, someone else is racing to report their deal with Crest to higher powers, someone else is following them, and Exquisite Tide no longer stands on the banks of the river…