Tales of Shore Blossom

Agents of the Nine Hells

Cruelty in the Cards

Back in Port Shore Blossom.  The white jade of the wall seems to have many uses, not the least of which is bringing us home.  But with recent revelations, I don't know how much I trust its power to protect the city anymore.  Too many problems are rising up, each more cunning and deadly than the last.  My mind is a jumble of thoughts as I make my way back into town.  

My companions today were Kodu, Syd, Albion, and Eucarion.  We hauled in our latest piles of wealth and magic from the wilds outside the city, chatting amiably in the Rose Shell Tavern, counting out our shares.  Food and drinks are ordered all around, though I am somewhat distracted by the recent arrival in town.  Eucarion has a son!  Fascinating.  His expression suggested grave news for his father, though their interactions point to a great deal of time stretching between them and the last time they saw one another.  I'm curious about the news the boy brought, but it's not really my business right now.  And other things are weighing on my mind.  

Shei is passing tankards of mead around the table, occasionally offering me a deeper smile than she does the others.  I return her smile readily enough, but the magic in my blood already warns that this will end in disaster, possibly sooner than later.  I tried to warn the poor girl; she will see soon enough.

Chaos in my blood is singing.  it has manifested quite a lot in recent weeks, demanding to be seen and heard and recognized.  Perhaps in a desire to be utilized, the chaos has been granting power, not just random effects.  It wants to be used, and so it sings to me.  And now it resonates against something else: this fascinating deck of cards.

They spoke to me from the first, promising a magnificent synergy with the chaos in my blood.  And at the same time, even before I had pulled them out of hte case a few days ago, I had heard whispers.  There was a dark current underlying those cards.  And they whispered to me, as if the promises of symmetry with my magic also made another promise.  A promise of power.  Of cruelty.  And I had felt it.  With the Cambions I had manipulated, with the knowledge they had unwittingly revealed, even now with Shei, with all of my friends.  I have to remind myself that they ARE my friends, and that these feelings aren't entirely mine.  And yet… the chaos in my blood sings when the cards are near.  It sings and people matter less and part of me is alright with that…

I snap myself out of my reverie.  Keeping my expression light and jovial, I casually place the cards back in the case with many of hte other magical wonders we have acquired over the last few months.  The bubbling in my blood cools a bit, but does not cease completely.  I will have to get farther away for that.   In the meantime, people are recounting events.  Syd's acquisition of the Sunblade has been of inestimable value in our battles against hte restless dead.  Kodu and his staff have made the difference in more than one fight.  Eucarion has combined those magical arrows with an enchanted bow to devastating effect in many battles.  Albion and that axe are quite possibly the most brutal display of physical carnage that I think I have seen.  And I'm glad to say that the chaos bubbling in my veins has wiped out dozens of threats at a time, when we might otherwise have seen one or more of us swarmed and murdered.   

Madam Saru is greeting us, making friendly conversation.  I am as friendly and engaging as everyone else, but years of practice have made it easy to hide the growing contempt behind my eyes.  She is a part of the city's government.  They all made a big stink about how the city is so perfectly protected by the white jade wall and its magic.  WE had all suffered a long debate with them during the festival on that very topic.  And then, not two weeks later, Saru casually drops a bomb on us all, that threats approaching from the port side of the city have no city defenses stopping them.  Fools!  Arrogant, sanctimonious hubris!  If Blood-Spattered Snow Tiger or the Goblin Queen or the other Yomi Princes, or now the thrice-damned LEGIONS OF THE NINE HELLS figure that out, this entire city will be razed to the ground as they will all literally race one another to see who can decimate it first!  This!  This right here!  This is why I don't trust governments, why I don't trust laws and political structures and gods-be-damned ruling bodies!  For every person of wisdom and sense trying to help people live better lives, there are three greedy, grasping, power-hungry morons who make everything worse!

Perhaps I need to get farther away from these cards; they are making my thoughts darker than usual, and I've been exposed to them for several days now. I make my excuses and make my way upstairs.  Almost as if she had been waiting for me, Shei is at my door waiting for me, having slipped from the table earlier.  She reaches out to take hold of me.  I allow it for a moment, wondering if human comfort will do anything for me now.  As she kisses me, I feel no passion stir, only impatience to be free.  I whisper a few sweet nothings in her ear and carefully disengage, opening my door and slipping inside.  I block Shei from following, making excuses.  It is all I can do not to shout at her in this moment.  She's done nothing wrong, and I shouldn't take my feelings out on her.  

Shei looks disappointed, but my words are effective as ever, and she doesn't protest too vehemently.  I close my door and the smile finally melts away.  Looking at my room, I see that it has been filled with flowers.  With a deadly whisper, black vapors pour out of me, and the plants all wither and die in the space of seconds.  Images begin manifesting around the room.  I see the Cambion I conned, mouth moving silently.  I know what he says, though.  I remember it well.  There is a Pit Fiend less than a week's travel from the city.  A. Fucking.  Pit Fiend.  The most powerful of Hell's generals.  It would take the might of most if not all of the charter's members to have even a chance at striking it down.  And it gets worse.  

There are spies in Port Shore Blossom.  At least two of them.  Agents of the Nine Hells.  Sent to infiltrate and sow dissent in the city.  To try and get the Charter to turn against the government and create a civil war.  I know their names, but I don't know their covers. They could be anyone in this city.  Anyone from a town guard to the flirty tavern wench I'm sleeping with to a removed and replaced member of the city council. I have to find them.  No.  Not I.  WE.  This is a big deal, and I shouldn't ignore the assets of the rest of the Charter.  My friends have just as much invested in this city as I now do.  

We will find these spies.  One way or another we will have to find them.  We will find them, we will interrogate them, and when we're done… I'll make sure I have the Deck of Illusions with me. The cruelty in the cards will have excellent suggestions on how to deal with them.                   



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