|Night of Knives|
|1. Portents and Arrivals|
|3. Hounds of Shadow|
|4. Old Enemies, Old Friends|
|5. Feints and Fates|
Feints and Fates
The man in the hall, Dancer, pushes back his hood and greats Artan, calling him 'Tay'. Artan assures Dancer that his own concern is for the Empire, as always. Dancer warns Artan to stay in the dining room until the conflict above ends if he does not wish to be involved, then leaves, seemingly going upstairs. Artan admits that 'Tay' stands for Tayschrenn, High Mage of the Empire, when asked by Kiska. They talk whilst awaiting the end of the conflict between the Claw and the Old Guard above.
After a long period of silence, they hear a tapping sound going back and forth across the ceiling, then there is a strong magical presence and the sounds of conflict above, ending with a woman's scream of rage. As Hattar refuses to stay behind and guard Kiska, they all head upstairs. They walk down a hall and enter a long rectangular room. Kiska counts about a dozen corpses here and there, all of them Claws, with a concentration of them near some broken balcony doors. Surly sits in a chair and Possum is bandaging her hand, which was injured in an acid attack by Sergeant Ash, whose body lies on the floor next to the chair. Surly and Tayschrenn have a tense conversation. When Topper, who is also injured, enters the room, Surly tells Tayschrenn that the Claw are now part of the command structure. Tayschrenn then orders Hattar to take Kiska back to the dining room. When they get there, Kiska asks about the red powder she noticed on the floor upstairs and Hattar explains that it is Otataral, a magic deadening substance. Soon after, both of them fall asleep.
Descending from the Hold and onto the base of Rampart Way, Temper is met by the two Shadow cultists who escorted him earlier. The snide and disrespectful comments of the thinner cultist provoke Temper into action, and he strikes the cultist's face. Furious, the cultist draws a knife and attacks, but is overcome by Temper and left bleeding on the ground. Unfazed, Temper continues onward to the Deadhouse, the second cultist following.
As they near the old quarter the fog thickens, pierced by the howls of Hounds of Shadow and flashes of magic. At a churning wall of thick fog his guide stops and a new cultist takes his place, leading him to a gathering around the Deadhouse walls and gate. Pralt awaits him there and informs him of his task, to draw out and distract the House's guardians. Six cultists wait at the gate with Temper.
Before the assault can begin, they are interrupted by Faro and Trenech, Trenech wielding a large pike. The two warn them not to enter the grounds as it will weaken the barriers. Temper enters anyways, seemingly with Pralt and the cultist Jasmine to either side ahead of him. However, moments later Pralt turns to Temper and apologises, saying that he is acting on Dancer's orders, then the two disappear. Temper finds himself surrounded by walls with Trenech and Faro now blocking his exit through the gate. The ground heaves to either side of him, emitting steam, and blue-green flames race from tree to tree and across the stonewall. A large armoured figure steps forth from the House.
Malaz Island (shore)
Agayla and Obo occupy their rock point above the shores of the Strait of Storms. Waves of magical power and a punishing storm surround them. Obo sees two men descending from the hillside, one motioning the other to remain behind. He informs a ragged and distracted Agayla that her help has arrived and that he does not trust this one as the stink of the Worm is on him but Agaylas assures Obo that the man is free from all bindings. Agayla then greets the arrival, Tayschrenn, who is shocked by how bad the threat is. Obo and Agayla converse and argue with Tayschrenn for some time, accusing him that he should have known better what the depletion of talent on the island due to Surly's edict against magery might lead to. Tayschrenn admits that he had been uneasy about it but declares that he had no notion of the consequences. Agayla tells him that his habit of sitting on the fence will cost him and others dearly until he gains wisdom. She then turns his inner eye to let him see the full extent of the Stormriders assault and their power. She suggests that the Riders might not be after the island itself but the Deadhouse and Tayschrenn realizes that what this might potentially mean, leaves him no choice but to get involved. He fully commits himself to assisting them in their efforts to hold back the assault.
Kiska is startled to awaken with Corinn standing above her, Lubben close behind in mismatched armour. Kiska tells them what she observed in the room above and Corrin decides to travel with Lubben to the Deadhouse, where they believe the real events of the night will unfold. Kiska convinces the two to let her accompany them, and they decide on travel by Warren. Corrin opens a portal into Thyr and Kiska follows through, Lubben behind and traveling his own separate path.
As Kiska and Corinn travel, Kiska finds herself surrounded by slightly different images of herself. Imagining Agayla leads to an image of a surprised and distressed Agayla fighting against the magic of the Stormriders appearing before Kiska, shocking her, but disappearing when she lunges for it. Corinn warns her not to cause problems, but before they can continue much farther Kiska is swept into Kurald Emurlahn.
She finds herself before the crystalline structure of the Shadow House, but before it can fully entrance her Edgewalker pulls her back. She sees that the blue-green glacier, previously occupying the distant horizon, is now dangerously close. Edgewalker labels it the true threat of the night, and saying that preventing it from reaching the heart of Shadow is his priority. He describes the power behind it as more alien than that of the Jaghut. Before Kiska can question him more he returns her to Malaz Island, near the Deadhouse. A Shadow cultist ambushes her in the dense fog, but Kiska reacts quickly and knocks the woman down. Kiska takes the woman's dagger and charges what she believes to be a Hound of Shadow, but stumbles into a cacophony of sounds and flashes of light, hitting her head on a wall in the process. She lays on the ground, stunned.
The armoured Jaghut guardian of the House steps from the doorway, wielding a pair of large swords. Temper tries to flee through the gate, but Trenech and Faro refuse him and block his attempts. They are duty-bound to prevent anyone who has entered of their own free will, from leaving the grounds. Skeletal corpses tear their limbs loose from the dirt, and the Jaghut, moving forth, knocks Temper off the path and into the ravaged soil. Temper begins to crawl towards the wall, seeking freedom, and nearly reaches the wall, but is knocked back by a staff wielding Claw. The Claw reveals himself to be Possum. Behind him Claws and Shadow cultists are fighting side-by side against the dead trying to escape, and Trenech and Faro can be seen holding the gate against the Jaghut's attacks, Trenech with his pike and Faro with Warren energies. Temper ineffectively throws a sword at Possum. In the distance, a few remaining cultists are now fighting to retreat from attacking Claws. Temper is grabbed by a root of one of the trees in the ground. Despite chopping it with his sword, the root begins to draw him beneath the earth. Enraged, Temper lunges towards the tree.
After an indeterminable time, Kiska returns to awareness and finds herself against the rear Deadhouse walls with Oleg looming over her. He points out a disturbance in the rear grounds where something is moving towards the House. When asked, Kiska tells him that Edgewalker is not going to interfere. Furious Oleg jumps within the grounds and begins to blast the intruder with magical energy. The man crawls onward despite the attacks until a thin scarecrow-like figure lunges from a mound, grabs the man, whom Kiska now recognises as Kellanved, and begins to drag him back towards where it leapt from. As Oleg celebrates his victory, Dancer ambushes and grabs him, then throws him onto the struggling figures of Kellanved and his ambusher. The figure releases Kellanved and grasps Oleg instead. As Oleg, struggling and screaming, is slowly dragged down into the ground, Kellanved and Dancer throw themselves against the rear wall of the Deadhouse. They pry open the door and Dancer quickly enters, though Kellanved remains. He sees Kiska and motions her to come towards him, but she is pulled out of her trance to comply by a burst of energy from the walls. Then the door of the House slams shut.
As Kiska flees around the House, her path is disturbed by an injured Shadow cultist falling to the ground before her. Nearby she can see Trenech and Faro still holding against the Jaghut. Sounds from the cultist draw her attention back to him, and they speak very briefly before he is grabbed by a dirt-smeared armoured hand from behind the wall. The owner of the armoured hand then claws his way over the wall and collapses on the ground, Kiska recognises the creature as being like the demon (Temper) she saw in Mock's Hold. She leaves him where he has collapsed and goes to the front of the House. There she can see that the fighting between the Jaghut and its opposition has temporarily halted, then Hattar and an exhausted Tayschrenn appear out of the fog. Asked by her what is going on, Tayschrenn tells her that the Claw are wiping out the Shadow cult. She in turn tells him about seeing Kellanved and Dancer enter the House but Tayschrenn tells her that those two are officially dead and warns her to keep to that line if she wants to live. He walks off to speak with the Guardian, Faro.
While they talk, a Shadow cultist ambushes and kills Trenech. The Jaghut launches itself forth with new fury, now opposed only by Faro and Tayschrenn who use magic to combat it. Kiska retreats as Hattar runs into the Warren energies, emerging seconds later dragging an unconscious Tayschrenn. Hattar's right arm is badly injured and he is unable to carry Tayschrenn so he asks Kiska to help him take the mage to the nearest healer. With their load, they stumble off towards town.
Temper is turned over by Corinn who is surprised that he is able to speak. Lubben appears and together they stand Temper upright. Moments later, a blast of energy from the direction of the gate throws him to the ground again. When Lubben, who has collected Tempers's swords for him, tells him that Trenech and Faro have fallen, Temper says he should continue their fight as there must have been a good reason for them guarding that gate. He gets up again and staggers to where Faro has crawled out of the wash of energies that still hold back the Jaghut. Though by all appearances dead, Faro asks Temper if he will accept the burden of guardianship. Temper accepts and asks Corinn to provide him with cover. She says she'll be able to give him a brief moment. Unasked, Lubben steps up beside him.
Temper tells Lubben to go low as he goes in high and at Corinn's shout of 'now', they attack. Lubben is quickly knocked down and Temper is forced to stand alone. He defends against the Jaghut and new energy enters his body, allowing him to continue to hold it back. The Jaghut pauses in its attack and a glance shows Temper that he is now in a new realm, a distant blue-green glow on the foreign horizon.
The Jaghut identifies itself as Jhenna, and says she has brought Temper to the realm of Omtose Phellack. She offers Temper riches, power, or ancient secrets in exchange for standing aside and allowing her to escape the Deadhouse, but he refuses. Before talk or conflict can resume, Edgewalker appears in the distance, making his way towards them. Edgewalker tells Jhenna that the Stormriders have failed and been repulsed and that she will get no support from that quarter. Jhenna recognises Temper and tells him that Dassem still lives and tries to bribe him with knowledge of his whereabouts. Temper distantly noticed himself growing colder and colder through the conversation but only a hinting comment from Edgewalker finally leads him to the realization that he is in the process of becoming frozen solid. Energy flows through his body and he breaks free of the ice, resuming his fight with Jhenna.
They are returned to the Deadhouse, still fighting. At some point Temper is supported by magic attacking the Jaghut. Temper eventually fears that he is about to die as he is already beyond exhaustion. However, Jhenna succumbs to it just before him and is grabbed and taken by roots of the House for her betrayal. Corinn appears, guarded by Lubben, and tells Temper that, to his utter disbelief, it is dawn.