The seventh day of Shahzadi’s wedding arrived. The rituals were over, the consummation had occurred, and all was revelry. Again, honored representatives from throughout the city arrived bearing gifts. Shia Tolon taught Queri’Sed how to “dance” while Alekel gave a star performance for the crowd. Suddenly, a hush came over the attendees as Mon Adderath, high templar to Dregoth, made his entrance. Nawab nobility bowed, technically paying more deference than caste-requirements dictated. Mon Adderath came to the newly married couple and, with a great show of courtesy, congratulated them on their union and gave his well-wishes for many years to come. He then parked himself in an out-of-the-way corner so as not to unduly disrupt the rest of the party. He chatted a bit of Usuch-si, and Alekel spent some time ensuring that the High Templar was not overtly avoided.
Just as the party began to tentatively swing back up, a mysterious but lovely woman arrived dressed as minor nobility. Shahzadi recognized her immediately as Nanda Shatri, the Offspring and supposed Untouchable from the ghost city. She looked much better without crematory ash all over her, but it wasn’t her cleaned-up appearance that drew Shahzadi’s immediate notice. There was something… regal… about her posture and Shahzadi thought she caught a glimpse of a silver radiance from her eyes before blinking. The newcomer greeted Shahzadi and complimented her on the wedding, but it rapidly became clear that Abalach-Re, former Sorcerer-Queen of Raam, was somehow possessing the young woman.
“Nanda Shatri” made a beeline for Mon Adderath, and the two had a tense conversation, overheard by Alekel. Mon Adderath was offended at her presence, and indicated that, although hostilities had ceased, there was a certain expectation of distance between the parties. She made vague references to shared minions, but otherwise seemed to take some glee in taunting the High Templar. She enjoyed the party, making no particular effort to hide her mannerisms, but not advertising her identity.
Eventually, once Shahzadi escaped the receiving line, she had a private conversation over by the dessert table with her real mother. Abalach-Re confided in Shahzadi that of all her Offspring, just a handful were what she considered masterpieces, and that of all of those, Shahzadi was her favorite. She confided that Shahzadi was the one who reminded her the most of her own youth as a gladiator-slave long before her rise to power. She told Shahzadi that there were “other worlds” and other options and that if service to Dregoth became too onerous she could come to New Antalus. She departed the party after a strangely tender expression of pride in her daughter’s burgeoning maturity.
Needless to say, Shahzadi glossed over much of this conversation when relaying it to her brother and the others. Mon Adderath eventually left and the party went well into the night. While Safa and Aasif kept an eye on a drunken Padme Shuja, the rest of the agents slipped away via teleportation to the Ivory Palace to report to Mon Adderath both the conversation that Abalach-Re had with Shahzadi, and also the proposition given to Padme by the shadowy and mysterious Isra. Mon Adderath was in a surprisingly garrulous mood, and the conversation spanned eons. He spoke of an ancient empire spanning hundreds of worlds ruled by abominable creatures who enslaved all who stood before them. He spoke of the wars and uprisings that began on Athas and spread from world to world, led by the Dragon and his Champions. Many things of ancient significance, but very little import to the current world were discussed, along with the fact that Abalach-Re and Nibenay had recently concluded a powerful ritual to join Kalidnay… elsewhere. Kalak had also completed his Ziggurat and… vanished. He made it clear that Dregoth’s plan was to simply wait out everything, wait for the guttering flame of life to finally die on Athas, and rule over a world of the dead, a world abandoned by his fellow Champions.
The agents departed the somewhat maudlin High Templar to get some sleep. The next morning, Najaf gathered them all for another ritual to help him extinguish the competing voices in his head. Safa performed the ritual, and the rest allowed their psyches to enter into Najaf’s mind. There, they fought the psychic fragments of the six individuals whose brains Najaf had consumed over the past few months. The first, a mysterious elf eaten when he was still transforming. The second was Naif Walid, the young noble sorcerer he ate as part of the last such ritual to complete his transformation. The third was Salim, the former Offspring and high priest of Badna. The fourth was Whisper, the young girl and acolyte of Badna who had poisoned Dhaara’s family. The fifth was one of the Kuotagha. The sixth and most recent was Nerek, templar to Hamanu. In the psyche-scape of Najaf’s mind, they destroyed and suppressed all except for Naif Walid and the mysterious elf before the ritual concluded. Queri’Sed took the opportunity to attack and destroy other aspects of Najaf’s mind and personality to unknown effect.
The ritual concluded. Shahzadi met with her mother who asked her daughter to look into Isra’s organization and maybe get some advance concessions before committing House Shuja’s resources to mysterious strangers. Dhaara fled to the Jeweled Scarab to recover from the trauma of combat in Najaf’s mind against figures from her past. Najaf, feeling calm and refreshed, prepared for the coming of Taxma to inform them of how they could repay the inconvenience of having killed him…