Leaving Fortress Neverlost as quickly as Duke Theomal can push them out onto the road, the agents of Charmonde head towards the beginning of the Violet Vale. Stopping for a rest along the way, they wake to find an Iron Wind bearing down upon them from the North. Rushing to mount the aneen and hurry away, a snaking tendril of the storm swipes Rather from her seat and swiftly changes her in horrific ways. Solinar tends to her and finds that, somehow, she has survived albeit in significant pain. Sodrun insists that they must move forward, theorising that there may be people in the Black City who can help her.
On reaching the Vale, they find that a shimmering phenomenon above a vibrant purple flower pulls them across the vast distance from the Black Riage to just outside the Black City, set amidst a vast desert.
The City itself is built of curving black cylinders of considerable size, each connected yet none touching the ground. To the South lies some sort of excavation being carried out by residents of the city, all of whom look miserable to be involved.
Once inside the City, the group makes their way to meet with the leader known as the Protector’s Herald. A handsome and jovial man named Gallitaius greets them, dismissing his odd-looking councillors from the meeting they were having very abruptly.
Galliataius quickly agrees to supply purifiers, and comments about the presence of Caelan in the city – alluding to his origins and purpose. It would appear Caelan was ‘made’ in the Black City and was something of a prototype.
Solinar asks for help for Corporal Rather, and Zeb asks that a specialist of the sort who ‘made’ someone like Caelan meet them. Caelan remains somewhat silent during most of the exchange…
The Herald sees to it that the group are housed in comfortable guest residences nearby to the chambers, and sends for a physician to take care of Rather. Shortly after, the faceless creature first seen in the chambers arrives and announces they are the ‘specialist’ Zeb requested. Solinar and Zeb make efforts to appear as though they interested in purchasing another ‘servitor unit’ in order to learn more on behalf of Caelan.
The Specialist explains that Caelan is an ‘older model’ and protoype, bought at considerable discount by Threx due to potential instabilities in his ‘conditioning’. It transpires that many more ‘servitors’ are made each year and Solinar manages to secure an agreement for a tour around the area of the City where the servitors are ‘made’.
Zeb refuses to entertain such a tour, stating that Caelan and she will be going on Candour’s errand as promised before she left Charmonde.