After the terrifying events of the previous evening, the team decides to only ever split into 2 groups at most. Kinnine, HK, and 6 Cyl stay in the suite to fix up arms and armor, while the rest head to the morning hearing. The big news of the day is the conclusion of the trial of Duke Flowerpot- he was found not guilty of the murder, but was judged guilty of a lesser charge, and as penance is announced as the new Court Jester. Garbh Filiochta is elevated to one of the Queen’s Courtesans, out of that role. Flowerpot doesn’t seem thrilled, but even less thrilled is the Royal Executioner Donal Viltharion, who longingly strokes his axe blade, and who originally levelled the accusation. Carol tells the team that Viltharion is fixated on trying every item on the Taco Temple menu.
In bigger, more scandalous news, as part of the trial the Shadow Faction is acknowledged to exist, which elevates Chambray Cliff, who had been warning of them for some time. The team also notes many Courtiers copying Avo’s style invention from the day previous, and hear gossip about a gory scene discovered outside the Labyrinth (woops). Tivta gets some hints of what happened, but not the full story, and Carol sends Serania, his patron, a barebones version of the info- she tells him to stick with the team and help in their investigation, for now. The rest of the team cancels or delays their afternoon plans to focus on the 2 they deem most important: meeting with Thisbe to try to get some blood magic protection, and getting a meeting with Kami Aneki to make peace with Renraku and see if they can be of any help (since they have both the Blood Box artifact and Aylin’s dad in their possession). The Hearing concludes, and they disperse.
Avo, Aylin and 6 Cyl head to Thisbe Sorrel’s and are ushered in by Edselia and find Walks Through Tall Grass overseeing a small child in the foyer, who bears a striking resemblance to Armando Salazar. The child is playing with a set of blocks that seem to be rearranging the manor around the foyer. 6 Cyl gives them a comic book, which WTTG grabs and says he’ll save for tomorrow. They enter the study and find Thisbe waiting for them in an open robe, having seemingly just emerged from a literal blood bath and daubed in various strange symbols. She is obviously no longer pregnant, which Aylin finds odd.
She offers them 2 options: ward their suite powerfully, or ward them all individually more weakly. They go for the individual option, to keep Aylin’s mom’s sight off of them while they are out and about. 6 Cyl agrees to return and trade info about his and Aylin’s travels for forbidden knowledge, but is told he needs to learn an ancient language called Theran first. He plans to spend some time in the libraries soon. They head out to link up with the rest of the team and ward them as well. Meanwhile, the others have a lunch meeting with Kami Aneki (he doesn’t eat), and get into how to make peace with Renraku.
Test gives some assurances that GC won’t be a problem for Renraku going forward, which Aneki seems to believe (for now), and they move onto Blood Shade problems. Aneki gives them 2 options of potential assistance, both with catches. They meet with the others, get warded, and debate which option to take: help Renraku trap Aylin’s mom, and Renraku keeps her, and Aylin gets her (mind-wiped) dad back, or the team does some jobs for Renraku at Court, and gets the box and dad back, and only has to give Renraku the data about what happens. Kinnie also rejoins, after spending the afternoon crafting with the Zhigul Makers, and tells 6 Cyl they have some access to exotic materials now. He also saw a huge, well-stocked vault and some dwarves far older than any he’s seen before.
Kinnie and 6 Cyl head back to the ZM vault to do some crafting, and 6 Cyl ID’s it as likely being a Kaer- a tool for surviving the Scourge at the end of the 4th World. The rest of the team heads back to Aneki’s office for tea, and makes the deal to do local work for Renraku and get the box and dad back, planning to use both to try to free/save Aylin’s mom. Aneki tells them they need to sabotage the Court efforts of both AZT and Taco Temple, and gives the team some ideas of where to start. The team also sends some data to Serania (Carol’s patron) to request full sponsorship from Eclipse, and gets approved, which also removes all the Peace Bonds from their weapons.
They split into 2 groups again, Test and Hotkey head to Geocache to attempt to send out the IOND data, with Tivta and Carol watching their backs. Hotkey gets distracted on the way and they stumble onto a revel at Hakari Marama, where they converse with the Court Astronomer Al’Farabi about potential mana sightings on Earth’s moon, and plan to potentially work together in future. They resist the party and drugs, and get back to the task. They once again enter the Fuchi node, and find a bizarre tea party-esque paradigm. They avoid a trap and spot the true layout, and make their way to the Null Node. Test realizes his powers are quite effective here, though potentially trouble causing if anyone spots him.
They successfully push the data out using a Resonance Channel, but Test once again feels something noticing him. They escape before getting spotted, just barely, and make their way back to the suite. Meanwhile, the rest of the group has been watching Aylin and 6Cyl’s backs while they set up a ritual to foretell the future. They decide to enquire where they will next encounter Aylin’s mom, and 6 Cyl acquires lodge materials from the ZM. They spend quite some time setting up the lodge, and the matrix team returns just as they finish. Everyone takes up defensive positions as the ritualists work.
Aylin powers through and feels she gets an accurate read on the visions. Comparing notes with Carol, she ID’s the location as the Hall of Night, and the event as an upcoming Ball in the cycle. Feeling a bit more prepped now, they decide to go on another night wander to see what adventures unfold. The goal is to get some berries from the Dawnseekers Arch and use them as part of their TT sabotage, so they head that way. Hearing a scream, they look around a bit outside the Castle, and spot a naked elf splayed out in a glade in the Broceliande woods. He is very dead, though not obvious as to how, and has a labyrinth carved into his chest (no blood visible) and a strange bracelet on his wrist.
They see a strange warrior and someone who looks like Aleiron walk up and spot them through the woods and then nod and back off. 6 Cyl takes the bracelet, and after some experimenting, ID’s it as the Bracelet of Whispers, which makes the wearer’s voice barely audible. They head back, get the berries, and return to their suite. They send a note about the body and their speculations about the meaning to Eclipse and head to bed.