- Akeva receives word that Copper Basilisk waits for him at the Red Omen Dog Tavern in Black Cliff. With little more prodding required, the crew immediately makes their way across Haslanti territory to meet with her, and reacquaint his fist with her brainmeats.
- Arriving in Black Cliff, the PC’s learn that the Tavern may have an underground (in all meanings of the word) fighting arena, but the bartender denies any presence of Basilisk.
- Savant goes looking, but is clotheslined by Arcane Fate and is unable to produce anything.
- The PC’s wait for the next battle royale, at which Basilisk still fails to appear, but Raven shows up, with two other Infernals in tow.
- Akeva and Unari lead the way downstairs to the fight and join in the fray. Dressh also joins in.
- Six and Raven talk, overheard by Blasphemy and Savant. Six claims a need to kill Lion, and that “She is the nightmare I see when I close my eyes.” Curiously, Six speaks in Lion’s voice.
- Eventually, all hell breaks loose when animas start flaring.
- Savant knocks Raven out, and Blasphemy takes a bite out of Six’s thigh. Six very nearly flips out with Smoldering Rage Beast, but opts instead to run away, getting a small cut in on Lion on the way out rather than, you know, killing her.
- Six tastes like Lion.
- Most of the people present flee the scene once the Slayer and Dawn Anima banners start going.
- Unari is very drunk.
- A past life flashback kicks in, and everyone’s past lives are laid bare:
- Raven, as we know, is Netumiel.
- Akeva is Stone Dog, the “Weapon of Seven Directions.”
- Dressh is Melagrimas.
- Lion’s past life is Hiako’e, and she is accompanied by a woman wholly obscured by acolyte’s robes named Aphelsine.
- Melagrimas and Stone Dog spar while the latter’s circlemates—including his lover—look on. Netumiel is worried every time her beloved bronze tiger gets clipped, but he’s fine, really.
- Wranthalas is bored, and has an elsewhere he’d rather be. So much so, in fact, that he should limit break. He doesn’t, but there’s the distinct feeling he should have snapped, but instead nothing.
- Hiako’e looks on secretly, swearing to herself that history will not repeat itself and they won’t die pointlessly this time.
- The flashback ends, with a lot of WTF-ery going around.
- Blustering is made on both parts, but eventually the truth comes out that Raven ditched Jaeldrin at her earliest convenience and effectively left him to die. Dressh offers to forestall the fight for now, let the PC’s take Raven, and then go. This is temporarily agreed to. He departs with an offhand “No Sorrow,” the standard farewell among his first age circle. Lion responds:
“There will be sorrow. You bring it with you. Whatever it was that made you take on Malfeas’ taint, it brought you that curse.” She sounds a bit more philosophical than usual.
Dressh shakes his head. “Yeah, you keep saying that, Six, but—” He looks to Lion, more than a little confused, but shrugs and continues on his way.
Blasphemy snarls warningly at Dressh after he calls Lion Six.
- As Dressh leaves, the owner of the bar enters the arena.
- The man is a god-blood, son of Shadowed Fist, Lord of the Secret Wars.
- The God himself puts in an appearance, and is impressed with Akeva’s show. He later appears in Akeva’s dreams, to tutor him in the Art of Forceful Declaration.
- The Solars take Raven with them, with her barely alive.
- Raven is defiant for a time, but eventually her past life comes to the fore, and gives some details about the Reclamation. She also gives a few details regarding her decision to accept the Ebon Dragon’s offer of power: “A Heart too full was too painful.”
- Ultimately, Lion kills Raven, as Netumiel makes a desperate and furious grab towards Dusk.
- There was one spectator: a figure at the window, humanoid but stretched-out and spindly: “[A]s though someone were told to draw a man in shadow, after being blinded for a thousand years.” It disappears even as Lion notices it.
- The PC’s go their separate ways for a time after this, to train Essence, to study, and to Learn.
- Lion and Akeva are fairly straightforward in their Essence training.
- Unari does so at her manse, where she learns from her mentor that Raphares is being set up as a boogeyman to move the Haslanti into a more martial state to prepare them for any aggressions from the Bull of the North. Raphares is not expected to live. Unari has no sympathy.
- Blasphemy seeks to grow into something more than what he is, and so takes it upon himself to learn what Lions are, beyond Teodozjia.