The Sun Elf is the 18th episode of The Chain. It aired on June 5th, 2019.
An Audience with Lady Shirome
The Right Honorable Pursuivant Illithweth approaches the group at the Pharaoh's Dream and says he’s gotten them an audience with Lady Shirome. He leads them, all but Leech in newly tailored outfits, through the Stays to the Shavings, coming to a huge building with large archways leading into it. This is the basilica of Saint Bonograzia, saint of gambling and risk. On the ground floor of the building is a gambling den. There are large gambling tables in the middle for cards and dice, plus tables along the edges of the room performing card readings. The people working here are dressed as friars in long robes. The Half-Elf ignores all this activity and leads them to the second floor.
The second floor is the headquarters of the Fulcrum, full of people engaged in the business of setting monetary policy, paying close attention to boards and charts as they react to the news of a Higaran ship arriving. They make their way through and emerge on the third floor, which almost looks like a manor house. There are guards wearing the symbol of a golden hammer striking a coin, each armed with sword and shield. They recognize the herald as he reports to a pair of guards at a set of double doors. Illithweth says, “I’m sure she’ll see us.” as one of the guards goes inside to announce them.
After a short time, the guard comes back and says, “Her Grace will see you.” Before entering, Boots uses Prestidigitation to clean some of the bloodstains on Leech's outfit. Lady Shirome’s office is what you expect from a Riojan noble. She’s dressed in the fashion of a Riojan. She’s talking to a large pot-bellied knight wearing a golden breastplate that has the same heraldry on it. She has long black hair that’s pulled back in a pony tail. She’s sitting behind a large desk covered with the impedimenta of business. The office is opulent, with expensive carpeting and stained glass windows. As they walk in, they hear her say, “Whose side is he on?” The knight replies, “His own, probably.” She said, “But he stopped Alvaro from taking The Pellet.” The knight says, “Did he?” She said, “Well, maybe we can find out.” as the Chain approaches. The knight, Sir Deodato, wonders if he should leave, but Shirome tells him to stay.
Shirome greets them and offers them refreshments, having spared no expense to serve each a drink to their liking. King and Judge share a traditional Higaran tea ceremony with Shirome, King's cup rimmed with gold as befits a noble. Leech and Boots tip back some Drow and Riojan wine respectively, while Slim has been furnished with some Starwater.
They begin to talk about several topics, while Copper, wearing a tailored outfit, top hat and monocle, eats like a raccoon from a big bowl of Goblin stew.
Twelve Dragons and the Pellet
Sir Deodato walks up to King and says, “Well done on the Pellet. Well done! May de Corano be covered in a thousand infected wounds.” King responds dourly,“We agree with that, but he’s still on the Pellet.” The knight says, “But for how long?”
Shirome wants to know what their experience with the Twelve Dragons was and Slim says, “They need to be eliminated.” King tells her that in his opinion the Knight Commander de Corano is a real piece of trash. He explains that the Twelve Dragons tried to take them prisoner because they thought the Chain was trying to take the Pellet for the Fulcrum.
She confirms they’ve retrieved the document in question and King explains that they want to talk to her about that. They have a Riojan noble in their ranks, Boots, and think it would profit them more to install him as the noble in charge of the Pellet. She is curious if they think that would benefit them, since it would put them in conflict with the Twelve Dragons. King explains they’d partner with the Red Falcons, because the Twelve Dragons have slighted The Chain, the Red Falcons, and the Prince.
Boots inquires if she thinks that the document they retrieved will force the Twelve Dragons off the Pellet. She says she thinks there is an opportunity to embarrass de Corano off the island, because she’s heard he’s working on his own authority rather than being sent by Duke Prospero. King presses her for more on this, but Shirome says she’s only received that much information.
The Red Falcons and Lady Antonia
King explains that as far as they know, the Red Falcons will help them oust the Twelve Dragons. She turns to Sir Deodato and asks what his read is. He says Lady Antonia is an excellent officer and is likely to bend whichever way the wind blows.
She says to King, “You met Lady Antonia? What did you think of her?” King says she seems like a good soldier but will need help. He tells her that the Knight Commander had cut the commander down, and that she wants to meet with Shirome herself. Shirome agrees to speak with Lady Antonia.
She wants to know what the Chain’s interest is in Capital, when as far as she knows their contract is to eliminate Ajax’s wizard. King explains that Capital is likely to be the last bastion to stand against him and that they can’t stay neutral because of the actions of Alvaro. She says she’ll do what she has to do to preserve Capital.
Boots points out that if Capital is at war with itself, it can’t mount a coherent defense against Ajax. Shirome agrees. She says the sooner the issue of the Prince is resolved, the sooner they can turn their attention to saving the city from Ajax.
Judge asks Lady Shirome who she would have sitting on the Prince’s throne of Capital. She says she liked the Prince. King asks about what happened to him. They say it was an assassin’s guild, but they don’t appear to know which guild. King says he’s more interested in knowing who hired them. She says, “That’s not easy information to obtain.”
The Citadel and Collaboration with the Fulcrum
King says they’re aware that the Fulcrum has lost some other territory, the Citadel. The knight blusters a bit and says that will likely be only temporary. He asks if they’d be interested in helping them to take back the Citadel. King says yes, depending on payment, though they would like to not appear as though they're in the Fulcrum's pocket. Shirome says they’ll be happy to meet their financial requirements, and her knight says the Chain could use the Fulcrum's livery to hide their allegiance. "It would be a thin ruse, but it would provide plausible deniability.”
Boots says, “And in a similar way, the knights of the Fulcrum need not be seen helping the Chain against the Twelve Dragons and House Alvaro.” Slim worries that Alvaro might have been listening in to this whole conversation, but Shirome says, “No, we have wards.”
King suggests to her that they’re not opposed to working with them, but they’d prefer not to work through intermediaries like Pursuivant Illithweth. She suggests that they’ll be well served to give the appearance of neutrality in the war between the factions and be careful who they’re seen with because there are spies everywhere. She points out that they have the Prince’s badges and they need to be very careful, and gives them a letter of introduction to the head of the broadsheets.
Marquis de Masco and House Vorona
She asks about the Chain’s relationship with the Marquis de Masco and points out that he delivered the Advancers to them on the Pellet. She says he’s the one reinforcing the troops at the Citadel, which is making it difficult for them to maneuver and oust the Church from the stronghold.
She asks if they’ve met Duke Vorano. King says he hasn’t yet, but he’ll be giving a speech at the Military Academy and he hopes to meet him at that time. She’s written a note and asks if King would be willing to take a note to the Duke. King agrees. Judge asks if there’s anything in the note that will get King in trouble for delivering it. She says, “I very much doubt it.” Lady Shirome says she thinks House Vorona has been keeping them at arm’s length to provide themselves with plausible deniability.
Illithweth gives them directions to Duke Verona’s family mansion, so they can deliver Shirome’s note. She thanks them for coming by, "I look forward to seeing you again. Please do give His Grace, Lord Verona, my regards.”
As the Chain take their leave, she invites them to bring Bigcat next time and then asks if she can have a taste of Copper’s goblin brew. She chokes and hands it back.
Daylight and Dragons
They make their way to his neighborhood, which seems to be in an older part of Capital. The streets are narrow and twisty and the architecture is clearly an older style. They hear someone call out, screaming in agony, then distributed screams and people begin running away from a small courtyard.
They see a dragonborn on the ground, heaving, his whole body wracked. He sits up and screams again. His whole body twists, his skin ripping and tearing apart. Horns erupt from his head and wings from his back. His scales, which were darkly complected, become black. When his transformation is done, there is a black dragon in the courtyard threatening everyone around him.
Copper shares with King that as the dragon was transforming, he saw someone in a robe running away. Copper can still see him, but he quickly turns a corner and moves out of sight. King reminds everyone to be careful about casting spells, but they notice there aren’t any guards nearby.
Boots casts Bane while shouting derogatory words at the dragon, then strategically retreats. Leech’s eyes roll back in his head as he casts Blight on the dragon. It shudders, muscles rippling, and becomes slightly desiccated as the spell hits. The dragon takes flight and lands behind the party, then uses its acid breath. It kills Odie straight out and drops Boots as well. Leech uses his reaction to revives Boots. Copper puts a hunters mark on the dragon, then shoots it twice using fury of the small. Bigcat leaps forward and attacks, but misses. The black dragon whips its barbed tail around and attacks Bigcat with it. King turns around and shoots a fireball at the dragon while channeling divinity, then dodges under some cover. Judge notes that he’s never seen a dragonborn turn into a dragon before and, believing there’s something hinky going on, casts dispel magic on the dragon. As he watches, the dragon turns back into a nude dragonborn, who falls to the ground, unconscious.
Boots steps up and casts cure wounds on the black dragonborn, who wakes up very confused. “Who are you? Where are my clothes?” Boots gives him his cape. Boots says, “We’re the Chain of Acheron, knights of the Prince.” Judge says, “You were just a dragon. Were you bitten by a dragon?” The dragonborn doesn’t understand, “Where are my clothes?” Boots tries to explain that he’d turned into a dragon, but the dragonborn pushes him away, denying what’s being said. Judge tries to point out the acid damage they took and King says, “I know this is strange, but it’s true.” The dragonborn pulls the cape around himself stating, “I have to get to the church.” In the course of the conversation, the dragonborn introduces himself as Caroset (sp?). Everyone takes a bit of time to heal themselves up.
As they finish up, they hear dozens of people screaming, similar to what happened when the dragonborn transformed. They quickly follow where the cloaked figure went, which seems to be the same direction. King says, “The guy who did this to you ran that way,” as he takes off. “The Chain of Acheron saved you.” Copper and Boots lead the charge after the cloaked figure. They’re the first to see a horrific sight. There were a lot of people here, but a huge area of the street is covered by bodies dissolving into a giant red, furry mold. Most of it is already complete. Some people are calling out, screaming, trying to reach help even as they dissolve into the mold, which is writhing and spreading throughout the area. Once again, they notice a figure and people are pointing saying, “It was him! It was him!” The figure appears to be about ten feet tall, almost twice as tall as an average person. Copper notices a glint of metal flash as the figure pulls his cloak away from someone trying to detain him.
Boots tries to dispel magic on the soup of people, but nothing happens, then books it across the mold. As a result, Boots is forced to cast crown of madness on Copper. Copper shoots at the cloaked figure with an ensnaring strike, but it the spell dissolves before it hits the figure. The arrow, and its follow-up, both hit. King urges Boots to attack again (using his commander ability). King also casts haste on Slim. Boots’ attack hits the figure and as it spins around to confront him, Boots sees a glimpse of it under the cloak. Boots begins to transform. Erupting from his clothes are vines that sprout leaves. His skin begins to change into a green, leathery substance. He rips out of his clothing and, when the transformation is complete, Boots is a shambling mound. A pseudo-pod of the russet mold hits Bigcat and leaves behind a patch of mold on Bigcat’s shoulder, reducing Bigcat’s constitution. Two more pseudo-pods also try to hit Copper and King, but miss. Leech attacks the mold, which has begun growing over a house. The radiant golden energy of his agonizing blast hits it twice and scours some of the mold away in patches. Slim runs through the mold, then misty steps to emerge behind the cloaked figure and turns the Cuisinart on. Slim tries to frighten him with his first attack, but the figure seems unaffected, but then absorbs four more blows from Slim. His robe disintegrates and his wings unfurl. Slim can see that it’s bleeding silver and its skin is golden. It shouts at Slim in a language he can’t understand. Slim recognizes it as a sun elf. Judge casts dispel magic on Boots, turning him back into a real boy, though naked.
As soon as he emerges from the shambling mound, Boots picks up his mandolin and rapier and tumbles past the sun elf, coming to his feet behind him. Boots attacks with his rapier, but it doesn’t seem to do as much damage as he expected. Copper shots a brass headed arrow and disappears, reappearing where the arrow landed. He picks up the arrow, backs up a little, and shoots at the sun elf, but misses. Bigcat climbs to the roof. King runs through the mold towards the fight, picking up a bit of the mold. The mold begins climbing over another building and the walls begin to collapse as it eats away at it. The sun elf makes a gesture and summons a swarm of insects, which swarm around Boots and Slim. Leech runs forward, then casts fly to try to get in a position to be effective, then actives his healing light for Boots. Slim continues attacking the sun elf ferociously and its wounds begin to glow. The sun elf forces King to cast a spell against Slim, but nothing happens. However, the swarm of bugs around Slim do injure him. Judge advances through the mold safely and uses his invoke authority to assist his spellcasting. Boots attacks with his rapier, hitting and pushing the the sun elf back five paces, then jumps down off the roof to get away from the insects. Once out of the swarm, he throws a knife at the sun elf, which sinks to the hilt. Copper shoots his sulfur tipped arrow towards the sun elf. When it hits the wall, it explodes in a fireball. It wreathes the sun elf in flame and more light starts to pour out of his body. It puts a hand on Slim’s shoulder and looks into his eyes and Slim hears a voice in his head. The sun elf’s body tears apart, blinding everyone except Copper and Bigcat. They blink furiously to clear their vision and when they can see again, the sun elf is gone.
Guards begin showing up. On their shields is a scroll. Now that the sun elf is gone and, with help, they’re able to take care of the mold. Slim shares with them what the sun elf told them: “The forbiddances fail! The seals are broken! The emperor must restore them!”