Winter in Hieron 22: A Holy Place

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I write to you in fear.

“To be Justiciar,” I was told “is to be unwavering in loyalty, determined in diligence, and zealous in the pursuit of justice.” I was not told that it would be like herding lions. Couriers come and go with reports and notes. Blood of Fire and Blood of Steel bicker over what I ought do with what I’ve found:

A world, underground. No, not a world. Worlds. They reflect a eerie past I do not know, but echo beauty, too, the beauty of irregularity, of uneven possibility. I told them about this place, this new civilization—real civilization, an exchange, you know? An exchange. Yet when I receive note from Fire and Steel, they wish to press its shifting allure flat just to be sure that our targets are halted.

I hunt four targets. Just four. Yet Steel sends a full detachment of his newest models. And as it is and as it must be Fire demands fire.

I am bloodless, Sea and Smoke, but I am loyal. I am diligent. I am just. Is that not enough?


This week on Friends at the Table: A Holy Place

Oh good Stornras, you misunderstand the living duty of the Justiciar. In the past, you may have had it right, but under Quatróna, the primacy of the call is not to be loyal, diligent, and just; it is to be unwavering, determined, and zealous.

Find your prey and bring them back, vital or hushed. Do it quickly, before Malle’s army arrives, before Quatróna’s fire is set. Do not trust your couriers and scouts. They are not yours.

And do not call yourself Glasseye, not with me, Stornras. Do not call yourself bloodless. You are a captain of Ordenna. And more, you are mine. Walk with pride or do not walk at all.

With you,

Vicereine Jerod Shiraz

Cold open[edit | edit source]

As you walk down this stairwell, it connects to a bridge which leads you towards The Buoy. A massive city, built on a pillar, seemingly floating on nothing in the sky, surrounded by other, smaller, pieces of land, also floating on nothing. Bridges connect out to other landmasses, sometimes ending in the sky, but you've seen that sometimes something disappearing does not mean it's disappearing at all, but connecting into some other strata.

The city in front of you is dense; it's not as large as Rosemerrow or even Velas, but it contains a diversity of places, styles, structures that is mind-boggling. It's actually hard to look at because so many different types of buildings sit next to each other. There are cathedrals and towers, massive pagodas and strange stalks standing out of a sea that rests in the middle of this flat table city floating in the air.

And in the middle of it all is a very strange sight. There is a tree high in the sky, pine, and when you follow its trunk down, you see its root structure, floating in the air, connected to another root structure that goes downwards, connecting to another trunk and another tree, standing on its tip on the ground. It is one of the largest things you've seen. Hadrian, for you the closest thing to this in size or in scope was Samot's tower in the Mark of the Erasure. Imagining that standing up. But at the same time, it's—it has that appearance, but it can't be that big, right? Because this whole place isn't that big. And every step you take, The Buoy deceives you. There is something—there is something like something behind what you see. It's as if you're looking at, not a city, but a painting of a city. You can't quite be sure what is real and what is not.

And Calhoun Cleanblade, leader of the Cleanblade Mercenary Company, steps into the main road that connects you to The Buoy and gives you a little wave, and says, "Well, if you need me, my company is up by the water, across from Green Perch. Good luck." And he walks away, and you are left in the middle of tens of thousands of people. What do you do?

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