As Ashes prepared for a visit to The Three Tears of Heaven, he received a message from the Guild Headquarters in Nexus politely requesting his presence to discuss a business proposition with Hierarch Artemesia Saphire of the Guild. Suspicious, Ashes agreed as it was only two days downriver and a short time out of his schedule.
Upon arrival at Nexus, the city of trade within the Scavenger Lands, Ashes was escorted to the business quarters of Hierarch Artemesia Saphire. Therein they struck a deal for Ashes to retrieve a godblooded girl hidden in the ruins of Hollow below Nexus. In return, Saphire would have the Guild in Great Forks stop their trade war against Ashes and his followers. The reason spelled out was that there was a death cult who sought out the girl as it was recently discovered she was the daughter of Gen, the god of Nexus. If any could control her, they could manipulate Gen who was already unstable. While suspicious of Saphire’s objectives, Ashes could see the inherent danger and was willing to help.
Traveling via a route already mapped out by the Guild, Ashes found the ancient Manse that the young lady Free-Spirited Arvia was held up within. Encased in iron, the ancient Manse held at bay a siege of Hobgoblins. Using the gifts of the Unconquered Sun, Ashes easily evaded the Hobgoblins and entered at Arvia’s invitation. Within he convinced her to leave with him to the surface where the Guild would protect her.
Evading the Hobgoblins with ease, leaving them besieging an empty Manse they returned to the surface of Nexus, only to come out in a great maze of glass & bronze plants and the scent of blood. As Ashes led Arvia through the maze, Lily introduced herself. The Fair Folk woman would allow Ashes to leave if he would only hand over Avia. When asked why, she openly said it was to free Nexus from its bindings to creation and thus be completely free. It was a much preferred state to what her twin sister Lilac who wanted to flood the city with Wyld energies and convert its residences into Hobgoblins. Ashes refused. As he led Arvia through the maze Lily was persistent in trying to convince Ashes to agree. Just as he would come to the end of the maze she would change it and force him to backtrack. After an hour of this Ashes called upon his progenitor powers and forced stability upon the maze and was able to escape with Arvia.
Upon exiting the maze, Ashes came upon a group of Guild guardsmen in different livery accompanied by Jiao and Jordin. The guards were with a different Hierarch who wanted to meet with Ashes. Convinced by his companions, Ashes agreed.
Ashes and his companions were escorted to an inn in the Bastion quarter where they met with Hierarch Dvora Odom. Where Hierarch Sapphire was young and full of energy, Hierarch Odom was elderly but wise and iron willed. Odom pleasantly received Ashes but was less pleased by his unwillingness to partake in business pleasantries. If it was not for his courtesy she would have had him escorted out then and there without further business discussions.
Odom informed Ashes that she opposed Sapphire’s arrangement as she had uncovered that the Hierarch had planned on exchanging the young godblood Arvia to a FairFolk by the name of Lilac. In exchange Lilac would open up a channel of trade that would far exceed the loss of profit due to Great Forks recent abandonment of slavery. Odom believed there was much at risk if the Fair Folk got their hands on Arvia. She requested that Ashes do the right thing and not hand her over. In exchange she would see what she could do in terms of the trade war in Great Forks.
Ashes agreed and took his leave of Odom but not without her having the last words: “Young man, you need to learn that when conducting business, one should always pay attention to the courtesies before beginning business.” With those final words she had him escorted out. On the street Ashes sent Jordin and Jiao to find something to disguise Arvia so they could sneak her out of the city away from the FairFolk, Guild, and Death Cult that sought her out. At that point Arvia stomped her foot and in a huff asked “What about me! What about what I want! Why doesnt anyone consult with me! It is my life after all!”
With those words Ashes was moved and apologized to Arvia. While Jordin went off to find materials to disguise the young girl, Ashes went with Arvia to a local coffeehouse where they could talk over her options and what she wanted. It turned out that Arvia saw and understood why she needed to leave the city, yet she was leery of leaving the city and wandering the land on her own. She hinted at, yet didn’t come out and request that Ashes take her on as one of his own. Even here in Nexus, the word of Ashes and his followers had found their way into the city streets.
It was about at this time that a great flash of green filled the twilight sky and brightened up the inside of the Coffee House. Rushing to the windows they could see a pillar of emerald green light rising from the FireWander quarter where they had exited from Hollow earlier that day. As they went out into the street, Ashes could hear and discern Hobgoblin hunting horns from all across Nexus. Me moved towards the eastern wall in the hopes of finding a means to escape from the city.
As they crossed a major boulevard, he could see Hobgoblins coming up the street in the distance chopping down anyone who got in their way. Driven by his compassion to help those in need, Ashes secreted Arvia in a nearby business abandoned by its owners and rushed to the helpless citizens. After slaughtering the vanguard of Hobgoblins, easily three score of the beasts, Ashes faced against Lilac who rode upon a griffin. That battle lasted less than 30 seconds before Ashes rained blows upon her body, slicing and tearing her apart. At this point the local mercenary groups finally arrived and struck the rear of the Hobgoblins.
Ashes returned to Arvia to only find her missing. It appeared as if there was a struggle and in the midst she had torn a small skull free from her abductor and planted a memory-message for Ashes. A woman of haunting beauty yet inherent darkness had abducted Arvia. Trailing them Ashes came across a group of mercenaries battling zombies. Coming to their aid they revealed they saw the woman leading a young girl with a bone chain wrapped around her neck. As they attempted to arrest the woman she slew several of their number with ease and then raised them as zombies. She then fled into a local park where a tomb of a Solar resided.
In pursuit Ashes came to the tomb. A mausoleum surro8unded by hundreds of swirling blades that gave off an eerie singing sound as they whipped around the tomb in a dome of blades, a deadly barrier to any who wound enter. Waiting for Ashes was the Emissary. The Emissary agreed to create an opening into the tomb as long as Ashes agreed to three conditions. He was to rescue Arvia. He was to leave all within the tomb as he had found it. And he was to slay the servant of death, once a serial killer from Nexus who had been hanged & drowned for her crimes; a woman who now referred to herself as Veil of Ebon Blades. He agreed.
Ashes entered the tomb to discover symbols of the five elements as wards; wards already disarmed. Within he came across horrific necromantic magic such as a dying guard who exploded into a spray of acid with his dying breath, the bloated corpse of a woman scuttling on her fours like a crab who could launch exploding fetus bombs from her womb, and undead led by dark spirits that would not die but instead take control of a zombie. Ashes also discovered other foul acts performed on corpses of several dozen citizens of Nexus throughout the tomb.
He finally confronted Veil of Ebon Blades. Who used a martial arts style quite different from his own. Where his relied upon strength, conviction, and power in the Unconquered Sun, hers was based on deception, speed, and infliction of pain. Closely matched she was near defeat when she penetrated his defenses and left him writhing in pain. At this point, fearful for being faced by an opponent more powerful than herself, she fled leaving her minions behind to deal with Ashes.
Ashes defeated the remainder of Veil’s minions and freed Arvia. Arvia in fear and haunted by all she had experienced collapsed into Ashes arms weeping. In this state he carried her from the tomb. Waiting for him was the Emissary. It seemed the Emissary knew that Veil had escaped. The Emissary declared that Arvia was now Ashes responsibility and he was to take her from Nexus till she was ready to bear her rightful burden.
Hierarch Odom found Ashes and his followers and escorted them quickly from the city as Sapphire was in a rage. She told him to return to his people and prepare for a possible conflict with the Guild. She would do what she could but now Ashes had apparently stood twice against the Guild and got the better of it. The remainder of the Hierarch’s would demand action be taken given recent events. It will take time for her to loosen their resolve and demonstrate that the most recent event was to the benefit of the Guild. For the time being, she could not communicate with him directly but they did share a common friend or two she could pass messages too.
With those words exchanged, Ashes took his leave of Nexus with Arvia accompanying him as a new follower. Eager and excited, she willingly left with Ashes as adventure seemed to follow in his footsteps.