A year has passed. Wars have raged. It was the end of the old era, and the beginning of the new. The time of rebirth has passed. Innocence has passed. Now is the time of... Strife --- Atudire took particular pride in being the first off of the ship. He wasn't the first living soul, or even the first Grigori, to step onto Rinwell, but he would be remembered as the first of this expedition. He held the flag, the signet which would mark the start and center of the new settlement. The ceremony complete, men and women began streaming off of the boats. The art of landing, of consolidating, was one the Overcouncil had learned, were still learning in the farthest isles, in bloodily through the Chain of Lessers campaign. Speed, decisiveness, were crucial. Soldiers formed the first of the defensive lines, began work on their own battlements. Engineers unloaded supplies, modular palisades constructed in Midgard. Tents, shelter, would not be placed up until tomorrow. Defense was primary; thankfully, the sages expected no rain tonight. There was only so long to act. By dusk, the ships would leave, sailing into safer territory. All work outside the first rings of the settlement would stop. Torches would be lit, and the guard posted. As the workers, the defenders of last resort, slept and rested, the Ordine Serpentine watched, and waited. There, as the full moon rose, the first emerged from the sea. The very thrall that had drawn the Grigori to this place. Their Chislev features were no longer so distinctive, wiped away by the pressures of the deep, but they were still there. The drown wandered. Some advanced, other didn't. Tonight, the Overlord's thrall were repulsed. Fort Condor withstood it's first night. --- Hyppoc Tic hadn't slept in days. She hadn't had time to. Thanks to the newer Medicos magics, her body didn't feel the need so much as it once had. What she had done, however, was endless work. The Island of Trials was still one of the Overcouncil's staging grounds, a bastion in a sea of evil. Though the maps posted across the isle made great note of the number of isles under Overcouncil control, all but the closest to the Fane already occupied, on the Island of Trials was secure against the never ending attempts at new portals on those older Infernal Islands. It would be some time before the purification magics could fully cleanse those lands. Those maps, Hyppoc always saw, did not mention the Infernal Enclave on the continent. Either their landings in the South, the invasion that saw the last of their fleet destroyed but secured their presence, or the horrid influence up north, where the Hippus kingdom wavered between religions. But there were Medicos on the continent for that war. Just as there were Medicos and healers across the Chain of Lessers for the wounded there. For the last week, she had been among them. Now she had been recalled, virtually dragged onto a hospital ship bring wounded out of those battlefields. A Medicos was always needed everywhere, it seemed. A young man, younger than her (but most her patients seemed to be these days) entered the room. He walked with the poise of only one type of Grigori. "Hyppoc Tic?" asked the Adventurer. "Are you prepared?" "Always," she responded, as any half-decent Medicos should be. With that he led and she followed, out of the Medicos wing of the citadel and down to the cost. A ship, a fast ship of the Lanun, stood out among the other vessels. It waited for her. She had lied, though. She wasn't sure she was prepared at all. Her hands shook slightly not from exhaustion, but from nerves such as she couldn't remember the last time she'd been so uneasy. Never before had anyone attempted surgery on an Angel, let alone Cassiel. --- Pakun had come up in the world. Once he had simply been another Medicos, one too unfit to ride horses. Then, after becoming a footnote in history as the first sueccessful teleportation of the Khadi, he had found great success in the Dural. He was no longer just Medicos Pakun. He was the Head Medicos of the Dural Ordine Citadel, the largest university for Medicos instruction in the world. Hundreds of students studied here each week, and he was in charge of it all. It was no longer just Grigori students, or the Hippus immigrants. Since the Ordine had opened itself to all who would join it, to all who would leave nation behind, there had been an influx of students from around the world. Some were spies, certainly. But even if their lessons were used for foes, the greater health of Mazera was benefited. And they all came here to learn. Here, the Dural. Pakun wondered if the Balseraphs would finally agree to a peace treaty. He hoped so; the Dural were a gem of knowledge in the rubble of Mazera. He would hate to see the people's knowledge scattered to the winds. --- Maour felt pity for Volanna, who sat bound before her. Where once the former Svartalfar had been proud, unbending in light of her conviction, she now sat bent, sad. Not because she had come to think differently, but because she had failed. "They say he is stable, at least," shared Mouar under the watch of two heavily armed Bannor guards. Volanna said nothing. But there might have been a faint sigh of relief. "You were right," Mouar continued. "It was a spy in the Medicos. That was how the poison was smuggled in." Volanna still said nothing, even vindicated as she was. It was hard for Mouar to admit that; no one had really thought it possible, until an Undercouncil spy had used the Medicos's own reputation against them. She had called Volanna paranoid, ludicrous when the captive had warned of the possibility. Mouar felt the silence return. It was oppressive. And the both knew the only thing she had left to say. "I... couldn't convince the Bannor to change the sentence," Mouar said. "You committed to many offenses. They also hold Cassiel in high regard, if not like us, and they maintain none of this would have passed had you not acted first. Your execution... is in three days." "They have agreed to give your remains to us, though." There wasn't exactly anything for Volanna to say. She hadn't pushed efforts for her own defense in the least. The failure was what she had expected. The Bannor guards moved meaningfully, and Mouar rose, her time up. However, to the small surprise of everyone present, Volanna did speak. "Mouar," she asked, "that is when your prized Medicos will arrive, no? When I go up to the gallows... would you let me know if they have arrived safely or not?" Mouar could only nod.