The Brotherhood of Virtue

Part IV: The Dragon's Nest

In which concubines are rescued and demons are slain.

The three heroes, with the blessing of Yejouj Khan, are to infiltrate the manse where Cynis Denovah Yassari dwells. Arbash Serik cannot aid them, for he is guarding the palace, but promises them aid in the future.

Leaving Tepet Lisara under the watchful eye of Arbash Serik, Keemia and Shadow Edge disguise themselves as courtesans – for it is said Cynis Denovah Yassari lets no man enter her dwelling, having demons for her servants and keeping only women for concubines. Rakios, whose looks are ill-suited for a woman’s disguise, is instructed to stealthily leap through a window and enter from above instead. He does so, but immediately encounters trouble – a woman has been set to scrubbing the floor in a room where demons cannot enter, and she screams as she sees him. He must retreat, holding her captive until she calms down.

Shadow Edge and Keemia, meanwhile, are guided by a fat eunuch past a demonic guardian, and taken into the sorceress’ private harem. It is a virtual paradise on earth, streams of water and wine flowing in a serene landscape full of beautiful women. Shadow Edge, however, has more important things to think about, and sneaks out of the chamber to try and find his sister.

Pacifying a demon by playing the harmonica, Shadow Edge manages to locate the sorceress, whipping a disobedient slave. He intends to sneak in, but she notices him, and he must rely on guile to talk his way out of the situation. He manages to stall her, but, ultimately, fails, and she calls upon the manses’ mystic powers to bind him with vines and creepers, intending to strangle him to death.

Rakios, meanwhile, has discovered that the sorceress’ apprentice, Cynis Megara, has an interest in Varangian astrology and particularly, in the fate of Shadow Edge, for she has looked up the star of his birth in her books. The apprentice herself, however, is not present, and so Rakios – having left his prisoner outside the manse – sneaks into the hearthroom, there pacifying the demon that guards it using a shiny mirror. He deactivates the manses’ traps and magical defenses just in time to hear that Shadow Edge is in trouble, and rushes to his aid.

A short but intense battle follows. Rakios manages to rescue the poor slave still stuck in the room, as Shadow Edge breaks free and engages in a deadly duel with the sorceress. She is finally killed when Rakios strikes her, so that her deadly spell explodes in her hands. Keemia then kills her summoned demon before it can work its magic on Shadow Edge.

Speaking with the rescued slave, whose name is Madeira, they learn that Shadow Edge’s sister has the protection of Cynis Megara. Megara saw her great intelligence as an asset, and rescued her from the lecherous Yassari to keep her as her own, personal servant. Unfortunately, Megara is currently at sea, and she has brought her own retinue with her.

The three Solars discuss, and decide to move their new base of operations to this manse. Cynis Megara’s ship will be back in a few days, but now, the heroes must make preparations – for the Wyld Hunt is shortly returning to Chiaroscuro…

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