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Marielda 09: The Valentine Affair Pt. 4

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As the situation in and around Memoriam College gets increasingly unstable, the members of The Six do their best to escape with a stolen book and their lives.
Dark smoke fills the air

Background Edit

Episode description Edit

The nearest pub to Memoriam College is called The Blue Boar and, on the night of the Valentine Affair, the publican leaned out of the door and wondered if she smelled smoke. She ducked back inside and picked up a broom, swept the floor absentmindedly. Customers would be arriving soon, she could ask them if anything was burning. Inside The Gardeners, just down the road, two regulars were engaged in an argument about whether or not a rank of pala-din marching past the window were headed for Memoriam, nonsense, no, it’s a legitimate patrol. It is! By the end of the night, you could smell the soot from The Lamplighter’s Rest, a mediocre coaching inn on the far side of town. In cramped rooms on the third floor, people pressed up against windows to see the red glow on the horizon. The distant sound of gunfire.

Cold open Edit

I gave them a gift, a little mansion in the woods. In that particular place, out in the vast between Samothes's city of light and those rolling plains of celebration where the boy king Samot made his wanderin' home, a grand house close to me. I'd hoped it could be a place where they could work out their differences, where they could consider the burden of their power, and the strength of their bond. But, if I can be truthful, I had a more selfish motive, too. I wanted to leave them a memento, something to remind them of me when I'd gone, and somewhere close enough that I could look back at them from time to time while I was leaving. Your old friend here, well, I was never much of a jealous god, but call me sentimental and I will not correct you. And lookin' back now, all these damn years of life later, I suppose it's fair to say it all started there, all because I gave them that gift, that mansion, in those woods. Those woods. Too close to where I lay dying.

 Plot Edit

Heist Edit

Awakened by Edmund Hitchcock's shout of "FIRE!", students and teachers are rushing out of the dorms. Downstairs, Lance Noble Orchid is shooting his gun at Black Slack rioters. Amidst this, Edmund decides that although he has Mortal Liminality, the others are probably in the library and he wants to find them so they can leave. He asks Caroline Fair-Play if she has heard of the Heat and the Dark. "You mean the Dark and the Heat?" she asks.

Miss Salary wakes up and sees the bodies of Master Latitude and Mrs. Manufactory. The crystal on the shelf continues to glow. Sige grabs the crystal and whatever jewelry seems most valuable. As he moves the crystal from the wall, the projection expands, but as it moves further from the wall, it gains depth and becomes a hologram-like projection into space of golden outlines of the figures of Samothes and Samot, speaking in a language that sounds like a mix between the common tongue and the cobbin language. Trying to hear better, Aubrey steps closer, causing the figures and their surroundings to become more substantial. She continues to approach. To the others, Aubrey has gained a golden hue.

It's a room that's the same shape as the vault that you're in. It is all beautiful dark wood. There is a map on the wall. There is a lot of really nice food laid out on a table, and Samot and Samothes are talking to each other, eating dinner together, laughing and smiling. And Samot brings up, in a quiet moment, the thing that neither of them want to talk about, which is the Heat and the Dark. And Samothes puts his fork and knife down and walks over and stares at the map, and says he doesn't want to talk about it, not tonight. And Samot stands up and walks over towards him and squeezes his shoulder, and says, "I have to try. You know I have to try. It's… it's worth a shot." And Samothes turns and, like, puts a hand to Samot's cheek, and shakes his head and says, "You're a fool, and you're going to get us all killed. But if you care more about your ego than… helping people, then go ahead. I won't see you again." And then it repeats from the dining room scene again.

Aubrey is in the dining room with Samothes and Samot as the scene repeats. The adjacent rooms of Memoriam have become rooms of a mansion. She hears children playing and follows the sound. What was the Special Collection Archive is now a living room, and what was a reading room is a backyard, with the back walls being woods. A little brown girl with curly hair (the same girl from Hitchcock's dream visions) and a little brown boy with short blonde hair are play-fighting. The other door is locked, and Aubrey seems to be stuck. As she watches the children play, a dark shadow, as if there was shade from overhead, begins to cast over the yard, even though she can still see the sun, but not the sky. Quickly, the ground begins dissolving, being replaced by the void of the dark.

To the others, Aubrey became a golden outline and then that outline unspooled itself. She is gone. "We should go," says Maelgwyn. "I'm getting a terrible feeling. And you should give me that crystal." Sige is reluctant to give over the crystal without knowing if Maelgwyn can get Aubrey out, but does so, at Castille's urging. Castille picks up her cat and puts her hand on Salary's shoulders, telling her, "We're gonna go. You don't want to be stuck down here." "It's all… it's just supposed to be a game," says Salary, standing up and latching onto Castille. Sige tells her, "Now that you know it's not a game, you'll need this," and gives her Calendar's knife. "Let me know if you need help knowing how to use it." He feels a weight lift off his shoulders as he gives it away, and Salary is instantly more serious.

Hitchcock gets to the library entrance. Two elevators are coming up. The further one has his friends on it. The closer one has Carolyn Fair-Play. She hops off it onto the stairs, catches Edmund and Caroline with a look, tosses him his sword, and suggests they get out of here. Hitchcock tells her the world is ending. "The world is ending every day, Hitchcock," she replies. "That's probably why the people who are paying me for this book are paying me so well." "The world is ending. Give me the book," he continues. Carolyn threatens him to get out of her way. Hitchcock, exasperated with his inability to communicate, begins to cries tears of frustration and starts to draw his sword, hears the strike of a match as he does so, and tosses the sword down in the library, where it explodes, and a fire starts to burn. Carolyn tries to run past Hitchcock, who tries to trip her, but she slams her heel onto his foot, spins and slides backwards out the library, bowing, and shuts the door behind her. Hitchcock hears the sound of a chair bouncing off glass, Carolyn cursing, and then screaming. The door opens, and in the hallway Hitchcock can see Marielda burning, and Sabinia blocking them from escape. The book is on the ground, in front of her feet.

The group reunites. Aubrey is missing. Hitchcock, a former cavalryman, recognizes Maelgwyn, who once gave him a rousing speech. To Castille, who is still wearing her spirit mask, there's nothing where Sabinia's face is. Using his gauntlet, Maelgwyn is able to keep Sabinia at a slight distance. Sige shoots at her to drive her further away and Hitchcock runs to grab the book, but as he does the candlestick in his hand comes to life, wrapping around his arm and pinning him to the ground. Maelgwyn yells for Hitchcock to toss him the book, which he does. Holding the void nun back with one hand, Maelgwyn begins to flip through the book with the other. As Castille begins to help Hitchcock up, her consciousness is pulled from the pala-din body by Sabinia.

Sige yells at Salary, "If you don't do something, we're all going to die." As he blasts at Sabinia with the gun, Salary runs and drives the knife through the void nun's chest. Sabinia's chest opens up into a vortex, and the blade clanks onto the ground. The door behind Sabinia gets sucked in. Castille gets back to her body. Maelgwyn finds the right page, says a few words of the old tongue and returns the candle to its normal shape. Towards the exit, Lance Noble Orchid and the pala-din continue killing members of the Black Slacks.

In a flashback, Ethan Hitchcock wakes up after recovering from the previous mission, sees an explosion from Memoriam, puts a few items in a cart, and heads through increasingly crowded streets towards the school, where he sets off Aubrey's explosives and blasts a hole in the wall for the gang to escape. Orchid is tossed to the ground. Sige picks up Orchid's gun, saying, "I told you the first time you didn't deserve one of these." Orchid starts crying, and Sige hits him with the gun, knocking him out in the burning building.

The Six escapes the burning college. The fire is contained and put out. There is a void amidst the ruins. The university reconfigures around it, but there is an area around the former college where people cannot go. The group rides away on a second cart.

Aftermath Edit

While the Six is licking their wounds, the Fontmen come calling again. This time, though, Claret Holiday and the Red Rank Irregulars have their back. The next few weeks are bloody and bad, but with Claret's support, they win the war.

One morning, Aubrey wakes up in Quince Parish in a room that, at first, she thinks is the same one she saw Samot and Samothes arguing in, but, as she gains her bearings, she sees it's a little inn. There's a note from Maelgwyn saying how to get in touch with him by showing up at the rock in Violet Parish at a certain time of the week.

Castille gets coffee with Maelgwyn and asks how he and Bolster knew her. Maelgwyn tells her she and Bolster were sent from the University by Samot, who thought he had figured out a way to stop it. They were supposed to come to show that it would work. Maelgwyn was sent to ferret them out. At that, the first thing that Castille remembers is that Maelgwyn had been getting too close, and she had to give them something, so she had sent a slip of paper to the Church of Samothes that told them where Bolster would be one night, giving him up so she could continue her work.

At this, Castille has all of her memories, and remembers that things went bad in during the Quiet Year when there was a wizard duel between the Yellow House and the Mage Tower, so Charter separated her consciousness from her body before being killed, found a workshop where the pala-din were being built, and crafted one into a form she was pleased with, but in her rush, lost herself. However, she's not sure if she is still Charter, or someone different. She asks Maelgwyn why he was down in the vault, and he's not sure. He remembers preparing for Samot's arrival and investigating a lead about the war, but things get foggy. "I remember thinking we were wrong, and that's about it."

Castille knows, at this point, that there are three schools of thought about the Heat and the Dark. Samothes believes that the Heat and the Dark arrive together, and that there isn't much to do about it but sit back and make sure life is good until it comes. There is what Samot believes, and what she believed as Charter, which is that the Heat arrives first, and then the Dark, so if you can keep the Heat at bay, you have a chance. The third line of thought, that of the Yellow House, is that the Dark arrives first, and then the Heat, but that people have a light to them, and that energy is anathema to the Dark, so as long as we move, play, dance, and celebrate, the Dark can never come in full, and so the Heat will never arrive.

Maelgwyn doesn't quite have a handle on it, but she knows that he was vaguely aligned with the Yellow House during the Quiet Year. Castille also knows what Maelgwyn has forgotten: he's the son of Samot and Samothes. He doesn't really remember much about either.

Miss Salary, who has joined the crew, tends to Edmund Hitchcock's harm, after which he shuts himself in his room. After a number of days, Ethan starts indulging his vice by continually betting that 'today will be the day' Edmund will come out. He does not come out.

Aubrey is quiet and withdrawn. She works on developing dream essence, a silvery, mercury-like substance that recreates a vivid lucid dream, in order to revisit the conversation between Samothes and Samot. She takes it and wakes up in the living room of the mansion. She goes to the dining room where they were. It's a slightly different shape, with a colder decor but a humid ambient heat that wasn't there before. Everything is cut stone instead of wood. Samothes sits at the end of the table, alone, head in hands. Maelgwyn walks past Aubrey.

Castille, who's been meeting Maelgwyn regularly, waits for him by the rock. He does not show up this week.

Samothes looks up at Maelgwyn and his face changes from confusion to recognition. He stands up and reaches his arms out for an embrace, and Maelgwyn closes the distance and drives a dagger into his father's heart. The volcano shudders.

 Cast Edit

Marielda episodes
"The City of Light Pt. 1" · "The City of Light Pt. 2" · "The Crosstown Job Pt. 1" · "The Crosstown Job Pt. 2" · "War and Azaleas" · "The Valentine Affair Pt. 1" · "The Valentine Affair Pt. 2" · "The Valentine Affair Pt. 3" · "The Valentine Affair Pt. 4" · "Four Conversations" · "The Killing of the King-God Samothes By The Traitor Prince Maelgwyn Pt. 1" · "The Killing of the King-God Samothes By The Traitor Prince Maelgwyn Pt. 2" · "The Killing of the King-God Samothes By The Traitor Prince Maelgwyn Pt. 3" · "The Killing of the King-God Samothes By The Traitor Prince Maelgwyn Pt. 4"

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