the merchant Garband
the Landmarque Lushan
the Bladearm Maxwell (a.k.a. Maximilius)
the Bladearm Burly
the Bladearm Stephen (a.k.a. Prince Esteban Ruiz)
the capon Violet
a Coriolanus golem
the Rich Man Eliza Mara
an unnamed man, apparently of the House of Nobles
an unnamed platinum-haired woman
the Machinist Malachi
Munangshi: proprietor of a general store in Parsus
Martifar: a money-changer in Parsus
Eloise Taramel: daughter of Iris and Farin Taramel; twin to Elke; claimed daughter of Lisander; apprentice Beggarman
the Beggarman Gallagher: Eloise's teacher
the Tailor Threadbare
Elke Taramel: Eloise's twin; apprentice Tailor
Rat-Tail: one of Threadbare's minions; Tatterdemalion?
Fire-Fist: one of Threadbare's minions; Tatterdemalion?
Elspeth: Elke's three-year-old daughter
the Barber Ananias
Ador Itash: Zoilo's uncle and a distant relative of Elke and Eloise
Gellegher: Gallagher's twin
the Marshal Caterina
the Mariner Lyman
Cicatrix: Ellis's new use-name
PLACES OF NOTE IN THE CITY OF PARSUS
The Temperate Cluster (possibly both a neighborhood and a political affiliation)
Ebon Rock: a bank (safety deposit box 42)
Caldera Estrella: an inn
the Noble Bank : "the bank of Craft"
EVENTS OF NOTE
Disaster is narrowly averted as the Landmarque Lushan interposes himself between the merchant Garband and the approaching fissure caused by an attacking golem. Invoking his "memories of Tirseis", Lushan uses Craft to literally alter the landscape, apparently in some sort of tangible recollection of a place he has previously visited. The fissure is halted by this means; and as the landscape reverts to normal, the three Bladearms carry the fight to the golem in spectacular fashion. It is Elana's summoning of a doorway directly beneath the golem and leading to the sea, however, that definitively removes it as a threat to the group.
It is only a momentary respite, however, as the Bladearms explain that the construct is a Coriolanus golem, which takes on seven consecutive forms of attack and must therefore be defeated multiple times. Not wishing to imperil their erstwhile companions further, the trio of Elana, Ellis, and Zoilo take their leave of the caravan half a day sooner than expected, encouraging their newfound friends to move on ahead of them.
Ellis proposes a parley with the Rich Man Mara, whom they have no doubt is the author of these recent attacks (in response to Elana's earlier accidental intrusion into Mara's home). After much heated debate, Zoilo changes Ellis's face to hide her
identity, and Elana opens a door to the Rich Man's home, with the stipulation that she will summon Ellis back once thirty minutes have passed. Ellis steps through to find Mara in a debate of her own, with a man apparently also of the House of Nobles, as well as a slightly older woman with platinum hair. Ellis makes her presence known and is promptly frozen in place through the concerted efforts of all three. She does not resist.
Ellis explains in brief and partial truth the circumstances leading to Elana's unintentional materialization at Marasgate. Mara insists on speaking to the unnamed other Rich Man herself, leading to a lengthy wait in which Ellis realizes that these
three are somewhat in awe of the power Elana has displayed. They are even more taken aback when Elana opens a door again at the agreed-upon time, something she apparently should not have been able to do, given the safeguards and restrictions that have been put in place. Zoilo attempts to step through the door to fetch Ellis, only to be frozen in place himself.
Concealing herself behind Zoilo, Elana then addresses the three people at Marasgate. She and Mara make a qualified agreement to cease hostilities, and are still in the midst of negotiation when Elana, whose name Ellis refused to give out, identifies
herself as 'Eliandra'. Upon hearing the name, the platinum-haired woman blanches, and actually physically batters at Mara to let the trio go. Ellis and Zoilo back out through the doorway, which Elana closes behind them.
The crisis is not quite yet averted, as Zoilo’s Prophetic abilities presently alert him to the swift return of the Coriolanus golem, now in some sort of fireball-hurling configuration. After some initial attempts at avoidance, they soon realize that confrontation is the only option, whereupon Ellis and Zoilo move to the attack. This proves to be a near-catastrophic decision, as Ellis's unsheathing of her newly-acquired sword Wave evidently amplifies power in the vicinity to such an extent that Zoilo’s 'Mighty Snap of the Clothier' attack not only snuffs out the golem's flames but smashes into Ellis as well with devastating force.
Ellis goes down as the golem shifts into its next form. Elana rushes to defend her dazed sister, while Zoilo is somewhat alarmed as his clothing begins to rustle and move, actually lifting him off the ground in some sort of defensive function. The golem goes through two more transformations before a recovered Ellis finally decapitates it with Wave, and Zoilo orders its beheaded-but-still-moving form into quiescence with Tinker Craft.
There is still cause for concern, however, as Zoilo's hammer continues to glow red-hot in apparent reaction to the sword Wave, which itself hums with a kind of ominous resonance. They are all walking gingerly some distance apart when Zoilo and Elana, in the lead, encounter the Machinist Malachi, in the process of retrieving his defeated golem. With many a harsh word for the golem, which he returns to working order, Malachi explains that since the party (particularly Ellis, in his perception) defeated his golem, he owes them some sort of payment. Ellis, knowing that the Machinist was only ordered by Mara to attack them, is reluctant, but Elana and Zoilo soon settle on safe travel to Parsus as a suitable service for Malachi to perform.
Malachi commands the golem to arrange for this; and after some analysis of possible routes by means of a series of hurled-out gold rings, the Coriolanus golem is able to find the safest route possible through what master and golem refer to as the ongoing "obliterating wave". Malachi hands a particular large gold ring to Ellis and the two take their leave. Ellis lays the ring on the ground, where it promptly expands to a size large enough to accommodate all three of the companions. They step into the ring.
The trio soon find themselves outside of what is presumably Parsus, a city elevated on stilts and ropes by the bank of a raging river. They experience some initial consternation upon seeing a pit apparently filled with human bodies, as well as a number of bodies hung by the neck from nearby trees. Closer examination, however, reveals the 'bodies' to be some sort of fruit; and they soon encounter a party of townsfolk exiting the town gates to dispose of similar used husks in the pit.
After some difficulty with the rope bridge, they speak to the gate guard, who will only let them in if they pay a fee of 3 copper pieces, which they cannot do since all they have are emeralds. Ellis makes an outrageously generous deal with one of the husk-bearers, trading a jewel for just three coppers, and the trio enters the town. They decide to engage in some shopping and currency trade first, learning that each emerald is worth at least 10,000 copper pieces--a huge amount in a town that appears to deal only in coppers. They also find out that the Lord Sebastian Itash of the Marchion's Little Council is visiting town; they resolve to avoid him, especially in light of the famous Itash curse.
While making a purchase at a general store, they discreetly inquire about their cousin Eloise--only to learn, to their surprise and delight, that she is right there in the store with them, doing a bit of shopping herself. She is much taken aback when they approach her, and does not quite believe their insistence that her sister is in grave peril. In fact, she seems to suspect that they are somewhat unhinged, and insists that she cannot possibly go with them to Sacrifice Rock as she is still in the midst of her training. They treat her to lunch, and she finally consents to at least let them speak to her Beggarman teacher about the possibility of her accompanying them to rescue her twin Elke.
Eloise leads the trio to her master's home, where they are shocked to discover that her teacher, the Beggarman Gallagher, bears a startling resemblance to the Bastard Roman. They soon realize that he is, in fact, Roman's child, Eloise's husband, and the Beggar King of Parsus himself. Further, they learn that he rescued Eloise from the ungentle hands of the other Beggar King, his twin Gellegher, with whose rival city Parsus is currently at war. Gallagher also reveals that Mara's real name is Eliza, leading the trio to speculate that she is yet another member of their extended family, possibly in direct line of descent from her namesake, the Dowager.
Gallagher is considerably more accepting of their story than Eloise was--due in no small part to judicious and expert use of the Beggarman's Craft to verify their words. (It becomes fairly clear to the trio that, contrary to what they had believed, Beggarmen can choose the Crafts they have access to, and are not limited to just one Craft a day either!) However, the trio refrain from telling him the entire truth, particularly that, as a son of the Bastard, he is technically married to his first cousin.
They are completely straightforward regarding Elke's peril at the hands of her master, Threadbare. Gallagher reiterates Eloise's assertion that she is not yet ready to face such adversity, but volunteers to go in her place instead. Eloise then
demands to accompany the party, but is easily dissuaded by Elana's use of her Orator skills--eliciting a mild but firm warning from Gallagher not to do it again.
Gallagher has his people unearth his wondrous flying ship from its hiding place beneath the river. They travel swiftly to Threadbare's location at Sacrifice Rock, where Gallagher challenges the Tailor for possession of Elke. Threadbare attempts to
decline, but finally resorts to setting forth three champions to battle Gallagher's three champions (Elana, Zoilo, and Ellis) before having to face Gallagher himself.
Elana (introduced by Gallagher as 'Purse') makes quick work of the champion Rat-Tail, using her Oratorical abilities to lay him low. Zoilo ('Hammer') likewise dispatches the champion Fire-Fist, finishing with a Mighty Snap of the Clothier that
evokes a cheer of awe and approval from the assembled minions. Ellis ('Scar') has a more difficult time, nearly falling twice and having to pull out every trick in her limited repertoire to defeat Elke herself.
Upon Elke's defeat, Threadbare hastily concedes the battle and angrily cries for Gallagher and his companions to go. They set off for Parsus in the flying ship, bearing the unconscious Elke with them. When they land in Parsus, Gallagher tells the trio that he will cut the bonds between Elke and Threadbare come five o’clock in the morning. Zoilo receives a prophecy that he, the Corezze twins, and Elke will be facing off against Threadbare hours before that, at two in the morning, to which Gallagher replies that he knows Threadbare will attack, so they had best be prepared.
At Parsus, Elke awakens in a surprisingly calm state. Upon listening to the trio's hasty recounting of the current state of affairs, she agrees to join them on the condition that they help her recover Elspeth, her daughter by Threadbare. Elke reveals that, by use of something called 'the Tapestry', she has actually been training under Threadbare for five years, during which time he has raped her and she has born a child.
At Elke's insistence, the quartet decides to return to Threadbare's lair, to steal Elspeth while Threadbare is occupied preparing for his own attack on Parsus. They find Elspeth fairly quickly, at which point Elke quickly runs off to challenge Threadbare herself. Zoilo's abilities kick in again, and he realizes that Elke will lose, and that furthermore, she knows she will lose.
The trio realizes that Elke intends to sacrifice her life in order to sever Threadbare's link to the baby. Elana quickly summons their friend Tarlun's friend, the Barber Ananias, asking Anaias to sever the links that bind Elspeth and Threadbare, as well as Elke and Threadbare. He does so, causing the child to cry out.
Elke, apparently sensing her daughter's distress, rushes back and instinctively attacks Ananias, killing him instantly. Threadbare is hot on her heels, but Elana manages to subdue the off-guard Tailor, forcing him to let them leave with the resentful words, "I’ll remember the three of you."
The quartet from Isle returns to Parsus, the original trio angry and heartsick over Ananias's fate and Elke's deceitful-but-understandable ruse. They opt to retire before discussing the matter further, fearing the destruction of their fragile, burgeoning alliance.