We drew our weapons and rushed at our foes, but Kage Okosa summoned forth a mass of tentacles that bound us in place, leaving Ramal on his own momentarily as Kage Okosa’s minions, humanoid figures of shadow who moved with flickering, impossible to follow steps, sliced at him with poisoned blades. Miyuki No-Shi, meanwhile, summoned a large creature, seemingly made of ice.
We broke free of the tentacles in time to see Ramal cut down my Kage Okosa’s blade.
The battle was short, but fierce, as a great portal began to form in the sky above us.
A few times, the battle nearly seemed lost, but the power of Lyr’s faith destroyed many of the shadow-men while Dendera and Feng destroyed the ice monster, giving us an opportunity to turn the tide. A moment of chaos struck when Ramal’s body exploded, flames striking friend and foe alike; left behind was a giant, black egg. We recalled what he said of the phoera, that it was what remained of his people after their deaths… Finally, Sehera struck the killing blow on Kage Okosa. Quickly, Dendera and I bound Miyuki No-Shi, who had been rendered unconscious.
Then the most remarkable thing happened. Kage Okosa’s body began to swell rapidly, bright light pouring from his wounds, and burst open. In a column of brilliant light, a man emerged, as if he had been imprisoned within Kage Okosa’s skin. An older Harukan man, though in peak health and condition. None of us recognized him save for Feng, who denied what he saw as impossible.
Standing before us was Feng’s master, Sifu Ling Huo, who had been slain by Kage Okosa weeks before our paths crossed with Feng’s.
The man radiated peaceful goodness and Feng soon came to realize that this man was who he appeared to be, not a trick by Kage Okosa. Ling Huo explained in Harukan and, for our benefit, scattered Amaranthian, that Kage Okosa was, in a very literal sense, his own dark side, given form and terrible will by the Ruby Mountain.
There was still the sounds of combat coming from below, and once I regained my breath, I began to race downstairs, until Ling Huo said to do so would be death. Above us, the portal had grown to tremendous size. Something was about to happen.
We gathered around Ramal’s remains, dragging Miyuki No-Shi, whom Ling Huo told us could not be allowed to die, and teleported from the tower.
From a distance, we watched as a titanic form descended from the portal, a being of fire and darkness who was unmistakably Izznaar-Al-Sara, the undead effriti we encountered on the Path of Prosperity. We watched in impotent horror as the monster smashed the tower, tore the roof from the library, and vomited fire inside, pouring all its force into the building until both collapsed in an explosion of ash and dust.
All we could do was hope our allies made it to Al-Mhuqtebel. We recalled that there should be a connection to my uncle’s home. The streets were in chaos, rioting and looting had already begun. We stole a wagon and piled into it.
Just in time, too, for poison from Kage Okosa’s blade struck me, draining me of nearly all my strength.
And so it was that I did nothing but sit and listen to Ling Huo talk with Feng. It occurred to me, early in our trip, that Dendera had uttered Izznar-Al-Sara’s name, but she had not been with us when we encountered him. I didn’t have the energy, however, to confront her about this. I barely had the energy to remain conscious.
Listening to Ling Huo and Feng talk, however, was something of a revelation. I realized that, to this point, the vast majority of individuals I have heard speak Harukan are kenku. Hearing, watching a human such as myself speak, in a calm, measured voice suddenly made all of the things I have had trouble with in Feng’s language lessons slide into place. I had not only been trying to speak Harukan, I had been trying to speak it like someone with a beak. Now I understand what I was doing wrong.
Eventually we arrived at my uncle’s house. Abu obstinately did not recognize me, covered in soot as I was, but my companions are much harder to miss. We cleaned off before coming inside and brought the wagon—with the egg—around the back of the house while Sehera dumped the still-bound Miyuki No-Shi behind a nearby abandoned house. Apparently, her destiny and Feng’s are intertwined, more of that prophecy stuff that seems to follow the Fireborn…
My uncle seemed well enough, though older, and he showed the effects of stress and a challenging two months. He would later explain that the court was in turmoil as individuals, likely backed by the Ordo Clavis have been aggressively jockeying for power.
We took a moment to regroup, and to explain to my uncle what had occurred. In particular, I had to explain the change in my appearance. He seemed receptive, if confused by the situation.
I could not help but notice the sidelong glances to Dendera, but it was difficult enough to remain upright; I was in no state or mood to bring up my questions about the connection between my uncle and her.
Eventually, we could put it off no longer, and we went to tell Lydra what had happened to Ramal. We brought her out to the egg and after a moment, she began to sign frantically. She wanted to bring him to a priest for resurrection before sunrise. Not having realized resurrection was an option at this point, we quickly pooled our money and watched as Lydra rode off with Sehera and Indira to find a priest of Bahamut.
We had brought the body of the phoera as well. Looking at it, Cressida realized that, maybe the Suzaku was not lost to us; if the spirit of the south wind was still tied to this body, perhaps reincarnating it would allow us to capture it now…