Episode 1 — Reunion

NeVaga Nolent, who has been providing security for a shop at the Agora, is summoned to see Director Draqua jo Lash, a powerful Ukar overseeing Scraver operations on two continents of Byzantium Secundus. She is handed a letter from her uncle Brak Valkoln Nolent, telling her to take Lash’s instructions as his own.

Jo Lash tells NeVaga that high-placed Imperial officials have been talking about Symbiot activity — and Aquilegia Masseri’s name has been mentioned. The Scravers want NeVaga to take employment with the Baroness again and keep them informed of any Symbiot activity, or offensive against the Symbiot.

Aquilegia has been staying at the Masseri embassy, recently created with Salandra Decados’ gracious help at the Decados compound on Embassy Row. She receives word that an Ukar has asked for her at the visitors’ gate. When she arrives at the gate to greet her visitor — who is of course NeVaga — a small urchin bolts through the gate and latches onto Aquilegia’s leg, crying: “Help!”

The Jakovian guard roughly throws him out, leaving the boy concussed and bruised with a few broken teeth. Aquilegia runs to check on him, tries to bring him in so she can check on his in juries. When the guard refuses and NeVaga offers to find other accommodations, Aquilegia agrees, refusing the Jakovian escort. They go find food and drink, and take care of the boy, Hiram.

NeVaga informs Aquilegia that she is disenchanted with her current employment and would like her old bodyguard job if it is available. Aquilegia says she has little funds and no travel plans, but will keep her in mind.

After a bit of conversation, Aquilegia questions the boy, who launches into a complicated saga as told by a five-year old. He says he is from the Agora and was sent by "the Deacon" to get Aquilegia’s help because several people “didn’t come back.” Amazingly, he appears to really have made this trip of several hundred miles on his own.

Aquilegia reconsiders and offers employment to NeVaga, as she’s going to need a bodyguard to go to the Agora! They take the monorail to the Agora; although she can’t quite spot them, Aquilegia is fairly certain they’re being followed [Marginal Success] — presumably by the Jakovian agency or perhaps by Scravers.

In the Agora, they manage to shake their followers for a little while [Minor Success] and Hiram takes them to the Amaltheans’ mission. It’s a free hospital, filled with very poor people; many urchins are working there, and Hiram introduces the visitors to Deacon Sheb Mokira, who explains that the three novitiates assigned to the hospital have been murdered and he needs help. He turned to Aquilegia because she is known to be of the Amalthean faith, and a new Questing Knight not yet assigned.

Three Amalthean novices usually serve her with the deacon, but they recently all disappeared when they went on a visit to the apothecary; he reported their disappearance but the Authority was disinclined to help. The deacon believes it may the Physickers’ Guild, trying to get the mission shut down because they do not charge anything for their services. After Deacon Mokira sent Hiram to get Aquilegia’s help, the body of one of the Novices was found, bearing the signs of bindings, beatings, and multiple stabbings.

Questioning reveals that the Physickers’ Guild had warned the Amaltheans off and succeeded in having them enjoined from advertising their services, but only the very poor come to the mission anyway. There seems to be no profit in the brutal murder, and no gradual escalation of threats.

NeVaga and Aquilegia go interrogate the apothecary at Small Flower Apothecaries. After scaring him a bit, [Marginal Success] NeVaga learns that Boss Mortensen, of the Port Authority, had ordered him to inform her as soon as the Amaltheans showed up, and he had not known anything would happen to them. He wants no part of the disputes between guilds.

Aquilegia decides that she will stay to serve with Deacon Mokira at the mission, while NeVaga will keep an eye on things unobserved, waiting for an ambush. After a few days of this, a messenger from House Cameton arrives for Aquilegia with an ornate envelope. Marquessa Lekoya Scareenon Astanyani, Governor of Byzantium Secundus, invites the Baroness to tea, two days hence.

Suspecting that House Cameton and the Port Authority may be tightly aligned and that this may be a ploy to pull her out while the Authority moves in on the mission, Aquilegia asks NeVaga to discreetly keep an eye on things; and she asks the Deacon to make sure no one leaves for the few hours she will be gone.

Aquilegia has a fairly uneventful afternoon at the Governor’s estate, where the Marquessa is wooing all minor nobles to drum up support for her house’s attempt to retain power on Byzantium Secundus.

And at the Amalthean mission, a Port Authority force with several vehicles and armed guards descends, announcing that the mission is being evicted and will be transported to a new site.

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