After securing the Earth Temple in Skroz, enabling Sanaar to sustain his renewed form, and unlocking the secrets of Mina’s Dragon Watch Sword, the Summer Heroes undertake a number of tasks.
They first return to Winifred’s headquarters and find it in complete disarray. Any structure maintaining the allegiance from her supporters has collapsed as the now leaderless minions settle old scores, consolidate power, and make off with whatever isn’t nailed down and bound with arcane magic. Balin’s contact, Tryna, helps them get to the cells containing Sahra, who is in decidedly bad shape after being tortured by some of those who fought Mina and Venju during their escape. The Summer Heroes smuggle her out, having to fight more than once along the way, and get her to Balin.
After recovering, Sahra vows to retake her organization and take vengeance on Winifred. She has a very difficult time believing this isn’t some ploy and that Mina and Winifred are two different people, but eventually accepts it at face value. The warm relationship and trust that she had with Mina are broken. She seems more interested in complaining about the ugly mirror Winifred added to her chambers than in repairing things. She allows the Heroes to sell theirr goods in the city, and pays them an appropriate reward for their services. Then she demands they leave Skroz immediately, establishing a protocol for communications to determine when, or if, they can return.
Balin promises the Summer Heroes, and Mina in particular, that he will look after Sahra, and works out a plan to put Sahra back as the mouthpiece of Uncle, and will be one of the very, very few who know she and Uncle are the same.
Banished from Skroz (for the time being), the Summer Heroes use Sanaar’s temple to travel to the one in Brightwater and meet with Iro. With him are Talerion, Estrildis, their parents Rowena and Severn, and their new son Caelin.
Talerion relates his side of The Curator Coup.
Rowena shares two documents of note: the Act of Primacy, which rewrites the laws concerning the Curators, and a writ condemning Talerion, seizing the lands of House Albion, and abolishing the Summer Heroes.
Iro, Darion, and Pirro sit down to talk Curator business for a very long time. At its conclusion, neither Pirro nor Darion are happy, but they are resolute and accepting of their new objectives. Pirro is to stay with the Summer Heroes and focus on the larger threats like Mellitus and Glaysa while Darion takes up residency as the Oracle in Tintern. Latent residual magic there will hide and protect him, and the pieces of the Staff. No one would dare violate the sanctity of Tintern, so he will be safe from Xiri and Mellitus. The magic there will also focus his visions, so he can determine future steps to take and pitfalls to avoid.
Iro stresses the importance of gathering the pieces of the Staff, preventing Mellitus from finding them, and focusing on the strategic picture and the coming war.
Return To Brightwater
Iro and Estrildis both strongly recommend that the Summer Heroes venture into Brightwater and see Lenore. Venju’s affiliation with the group is still unknown at this point, and combined with extensive uses of invisibility and illusions, they are able to make it to see The Mother of Brightwater. Estrildis advised against using teleportation within or near the city. While Brightwater has not been experiencing some of the same troubles with magic writ large (especially healing) the rest of Penwith has, it is not the same with magic enabling traveling, which she describes as “wonky.”
Lenore welcomes them with open arms, much more calm and collected than last they saw her. Radiating a significant presence, she says she has been remiss in extending adequate appreciation for saving her. She places a hand on the shoulder of each of the Summer Heroes, sending soothing energy into them. She has learned a lot about the relationship between pain and protection, destruction and healing, and death and life from her centuries of torture, and that a portion of this knowledge is her gift to them. Should they wish to receive more aid, or even become one of her disciples (this she says with a sly smile and laughter in her eye), they should bring to her the sword from the statue upon which she spent so many years.
She offers to assist them with getting to Tintern, and sets them up with a familiar face: Juru. Before they depart the temple to be smuggled aboard Juru’s Other Lantern, Lenore bids them well on their mission. She reminds the Summer Heroes that she and they are all in this together, and each must play their role. Whether it has yet to be determined, nodding to Thalion and Venju, or already decided, acknowledging the rest.
News From The Outside World
Juru is overjoyed to see her old friends, alive and in one piece, especially Darion. She relates to them her many exciting adventures smuggling things into and out of Brightwater. There is still an active, albeit small, resistance within the city. After the writ about them was published, there was an explosion of sun and summer imagery around the city, in its art, music, and stories. The people despise Xiri, and will be ready to accept them as the city’s saviors, when the time comes.
Traveling out of Brightwater is relatively easy, as most of the navy is attempting to blockade Starrl. According to rumor, one of the Irian Sisters appeared in the middle of Brightwater with an army of skeletal warriors, killed and kidnapped a group of Regulators, and vanished after burning down half of the city. This is all fanciful nonsense, of course, as half of the city was not burnt, and the parts that are were leftovers from the riots. Clearly the rumors are just an excuse for Xiri strike back at the significant threat Starrl poses to Brightwater’s trade. That the majority of the Brightwater Diaspora ended up there is pure gravy. Though there are almost no Regulators left in the city, and more than a few have been sighted on ships near Starrl.
During the voyage, Mina informs them of another sending from her sister. Apparently Winifred used the book given to them by Ayreon to unlock her prophetic visions. In fact, she’s claiming to be the most powerful seer on the planet, and would rule the Curators herself if it weren’t so boring. She’s found a new calling, and has joined forces with Mellitus and some unspecified others to amplify her potential some more. Apparently Mellitus figured out how to use the ring he got from Talerion’s severed hand, and she’s off to acquaint herself with the divine.
Arriving off the coast of Tintern, Darion bids a tearful goodbye to his companions and friends. He will be safe here, and will keep safe the one piece of the Staff they have collected so far.
After ensuring Darion arrives safely at the Oracle to reverent murmurings of those present, Juru turns to the Summer Heroes.
“So what next?”