The group returned with their equipment to the manse of Dame Solara, who hailed them as conquerors. After some discussion the group chose, rather than to accept payment in gold, to accept payment in contraband items found within one of the rescued crates – to the sum of two Truedeath Crystals. The Lady suggested at future work, hinting of revenge, but offered up rooms in her own home for the group to use while resting and recovering. During breakfast the next day, she explained the details of the new job:
Each year the Legion of Ash, the city’s private army, invited mercenaries from across the world to join in an a grand tournament. However, rather than skill at arms, the tourney measured the ability of the teams to work together and to problem-solve under pressure. The teams were allowed no equipment or gear, and each competed against the clock in a series of 10 encounters. The top three finalists (and sometimes the top 5) were usually offered invitations to begin a series of trainings to assess their capability t join the ranks of the Legionnaires.
According to Dame Solara, a group calling themselves the “Blue Blades” were planning on entering the contest. Her objective, given to the group, was to insure that the Blue Blades did not walk away the victors of the event. She hinted that there was some bad blood between herself and the Blades, but would not discuss specifics. After having a few days to rest and recouperate, the group made their way to the Ashen Legion’s Challenge of Champions.
Each Challenge permitted only 4 team members to participate, and so prior to each test, the group had to decide which players to bring to bear on the particular challenge. after several very successful tests, one of which earned an applause from the test’s proctor, the group found themselves struggling with a challenge they’d overcome but forgotten the keyword to open the final door. Reeling from this defeat the group pressed through its final tests and found themselves in 3rd place, behind an unknown group of contestants and the champions, the Blue Blades. Unable to accomplish their mission, and unable to find motivation for genuine dislike of the Blades (despite an evening of inebriated fact-finding), the group found themselves face-to-face with the dillema of their paths. They had thrown themselves with such fervor into seeking deliverance for Sully and the pursuit of their haunting dreams of a tortured otherworld, they now found themselves lost and seeking for some meaning in all of it.
The group decided to head back to the Redoubt and seek for some answers there. They headed back across the poisoned no-mans-land and through the Redoubt’s gates. There they split up, some going to pay obeissance to the Tree, while Asha and Nuana went to the Eidonite Shrine for answers. They got few, but were directed to a monastery several miles outside of town. The group at the tree also found the note left for Lyshkara, and noticed that it had been changed – stamped with a strange sigil in no language they knew. So, while Ipster idled his time picking pockets in the streets, Nuana, Asha, Anast, and a new companion met during the Challenge _, headed out of New haven and up to the top of a high hill where they found the Eidonite monastery.
They were greeted at the gates by a man calling himself Brother Asden. He gave the group a brief tour of the compound, which seemed to be a communal dwelling for individuals and families within the walled protection of an abandoned watchtower. They spoke at length of the difference between fighting darkness and bringing light – violence only brings further violence, but the call of St. Eidon is to bring the light of Truth. During their meeting, they showed the Brother their note and the new glyph. He explained that the glyph represented a group called the Ca’ayidim, a word meaning the Faceless or Soulless or Unmen. He explained that these person believed they could defeat the darkness by literally setting it ablaze, but when pressed further Br. Asden became confused to the point of not even remembering the sigil or their discussion about it. As this conversation ended a young woman brought in refreshments, and as she left, Anast noticed the marks of a vampire on her throat. When he asked Br. Asden about them, he replied that it was Sister Malandra’s story to tell, not his own. As the meeting broke up Anast went after Sister Malandra, while the other went outside to catch their breath and think on the days events.