2021-03-29: White Clouds I

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  • Log: White Clouds I
  • Cast: Neriah Parringer, Jacqueline Barber, Leon Albus, Cyre H. Lorentz, Citan Uzuki, Gwen Whitlock, Ida Everstead-Rey
  • Where: Zoara Badlands
  • Date: March 29th 2021
  • Summary: A mysterious missive has quietly gone out to certain Drifters and like-minded friends. It's an invitation - a direction to a hush-hush gathering, a promise of information they need to hear. What's stranger still is the apparent source of the invitation. The Church of Granas's mysterious "Impetuous Friend" is reaching out. Will you listen?


<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

The messages got around to specific groups of Drifters with surprising speed and secrecy for something so widespread. For some, letters arrived tucked under doors, or stuck in inventory packs. Others got visits from robed couriers carrying envelopes. In every case, the messages came down to an invitation to meet in the badlands outside Guild Galad, in a sheltered space trafficked by few these days - an invitation made urgent by something the writer absolutely must share.

It's the signatory that's unusual. The letters bear the signature of "Your Impetuous Friend," Aria - the priestess whose predictions of the Day of Darkness's coming, and of the need to root out alleged corruption in Granas's church, have raised headaches in circles ecclesiastic.

The location is out of the way, in the shadow of a looming mesa of jutting reddish rock that overlooks a stretch of desert studded with boulders and a few cacti. Only the flicker of some kind of rose-tinged light, visible at a distance and flickering curiously at irregular intervals, provides a beacon for the incoming - and those who arrive find a few already gathered. A group of four people in simple traveler's clothing are minding things, along with the sender of the invitations.

"Thank you for coming." At a glance, there are those who could find Aria familiar, but only in broad strokes. The raven curls are there, but her facial structure is longer and more aristocratic, and her eyes are a washed-out white. Pushing back the deep white hood of her overrobe, she gestures towards a series of seats set up around the area.

"Sit if it suits you. Or don't, as you prefer. But I have asked you all here for a reason.

"I have discovered something within the Church of Granas that could put a great number of people in grave danger. And I need your help in getting to the bottom of it."

As for the light, its source turns out to be the big floofy tail of a pink Carro sitting cheerily on a rock, nibbling on a poff nut.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

A mysterious letter from the 'Impetuous Friend'... Well, there's no way Jacqueline can ignore that, especially if she's been invited directly.

So when the appointed time arrives, Jacqueline is there. She studies the looming mesa that overshadows their meeting place curiously for a moment before turning her atention back to her host, her little fuzzy friend, and those accompanying her.

"You're quite welcome. I could hardly turn down a direct invitation." Jacqueline says. She accepts one of the offered seats and, as Aria explains why she's asked them here, Jacqueline hesitates for a moment.

"Ah... first things first... I apologize. I feel I was... very impolite to you, during our first meeting - during the Filgaia Summit. It was uncalled for." Jacqueline says, apologetically. "But... if there's a chance I can help, I'd like to. What is it that you've discovered? And how can we help?"

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon Albus is here.

It's perhaps no great surprise -- money is a reason to lure him out, but affecting the stability (or, for some groups with ties to Solaris, the instability) of Filgaian politics tends to get his attention. The fact the meeting is remote sets him a little on edge; a few too many traps have made him more reluctant to be out in the middle of nowhere.

He glances at the four -- then nods his head, respectfully. He stops as he gets closer; he takes one of the seats, but he scans closely. His eyes turn -- from those approaching back to the four.

"What have you found out?" the mercenary captain asks. "Something... untoward?"

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre is also here! He is, however, presently preoccupied with munching on what appears to be his dinner. He's pretty sure he knows who this person actually is, especially since said person he suspects her to be is capable of doing weird things with her appearance and it wouldn't be the first time said person has impersonated a clergywoman......

But hey, whatever. Granas is Granas, so he'll at least hear the person who he suspects is actually a totally different person out.

Who knows! Maybe she actually isn't that person he thinks she is!!

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    It isn't every day that a message like this arrives in Citan Uzuki's mailbox. ...Though, to be honest, it wasn't so much 'his own' mailbox as it had been, well, Leon Albus'. But given the doctor's familiarity with various political circumstances and the promise that had been in the letter, perhaps it's not a surprise that he'd expressed some interest in learning more.

    And maybe it's also the case that this might not be a meeting to which Leon should travel to alone, precisely.

    So this is 'Sister Aria'.

    He stands not far from Leon, his gaze on the young priestess alone. His interest is hardly prurient -- he's happily married, thank you -- but rather more that of the scholar: what will be learned from this engagement.

    He nods as she greets all of them, offering up a slight smile of his own. "Indeed, I am quite interested to hear what you have to say, Sister." Folding his arms over his chest, he appears to opt to remain standing, regarding her as she cuts to the chase, one might say--

    He raises one dark eyebrow.

    "Oh? And why do you say that?"

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "Oh hey!"

    Seeing the others converse, another familiar face joins the fray, its source revealing itself to be a hooded Gwen Whitlock, the courier downing her hood to reveal a scarf with a geometrical floral pattern tied around her head.

    Seeing Leon there, Gwen gives him a small grin. "... Hopefully this time our luck'll be better, eh?"

    The grin is kind, at least, acknowledging the grim events that happened in that snowy town over a year ago. "... Soooo... I admit, I ain't sure if I can do much here, but I can give a gander, at least."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Aria dips her head towards Jay and breathes a slow breath out between parted lips, but her eyes don't come to focus on the alchemist directly. She can't. "You did what felt natural to you, Jacqueline Barber. I can understand that. It is hardly the first time I have been met with skepticism."

The gathered attendants keep to the edge of things, leaving it to Aria herself. The priestess guides herself to a seat, tracing one hand along a large rock and lowering herself to it before crossing her ankles. When Leon speaks, she inclines her head.

"I assume most of you are familiar with the Ethos Society," she puts out.

Aria furrows her brows a little and clasps her hands. "Since I've began speaking about the problems within the Church, I have had many come to me with evidence of the issues they face. I do not expect anyone to have a theological opinion about that. But what I have heard concerning the Ethos is different. There is something happening within their ranks that even those within them have been at a loss to explain."

She raises her head to look generally towards where Citan's voice was coming from. "That is, even Zera Innocentius, the pontiff, seems to exercise no control over them. There have been... abuses. Kidnappings, mistreatment of Etone trainees. Violent and peremptory actions against alleged enemies who have nothing to do with Church affairs at all.

"In other words, everything I have heard points to something else - something outside the Church - directing the Ethos," she muses. "That is why I have reached out to you. I need help finding out what is really going on."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida received an invitation, but has not answered. To some, this may be expected. Wasn't she raised in the Church? Isn't she a member of a powerful family? Don't they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo? Even if she disagreed, would she have the courage to hear an opposing point of view?

    On a completely unrelated note, a woman joins the Drifter pack, moving to stand beside Leon. To those with an eye for Guild Galad's fashion trends, she is definitely from Void 41--or at least borrowing their manner of dress. She wears a green-and-white to shawl to cover her hair, as well as a butterfly mask made of golden paper-mache. She wears multiple layers--a cloak, a vest, a blouse--and a long skirt with numerous bits and baubles attached to a sash. She looks soft, but there is an air of determination about her as she waits.

    For now, she simply listens, her face the very picture of concern as Sister Aria lays out her discoveries. Her mouth becomes a little 'o' of pious shock.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon glances sideways at Citan -- nods to him -- and then he looks back at Sister Aria. He nods once to her, too; he has heard of the Ethos, to say the least.

"Something else, you say?" Leon says. He keeps himself calm. Did he know anything about this? Certainly not. But, he is a pessimist by nature; a pessimist who assumes the worst of the powers that be, who thinks that they must have all manner of skeletons in their closet.

"And you'd like us to investigate," he concludes. "Do you have any leads? I don't doubt their corruption -- but I'd like to know where you propose to start."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Would you say, then," Cyre Lorentz begins, putting away his perfectly ordinary stone bowl. "That the Ethos... Have not been adhering to their stated ethos...?"

Beat.

He leans in from where he's seated, resting his chin on his hand. "Tell me more! I'm always interested in this kind of saucy, slanderous gossip."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "... Yeah, a little," Gwen answers, frowning. "I understand the program's pretty tough, at the very least."

    That was the gist she got from Silas, her childhood friend, though the man was understandably vague. He was never cut out for violence of any sort.

    And Gwen, oddly enough, was.

     "So..." She nods, listening. "Huh." Auntie Frea, hardcore atheist as she is, would definitely have a field day with this. "I mean, I get it, but we're a bunch of outsiders."

    She can't dig into her friend's past there. The amount of shame he'd feel, digging those feelings up... and it's been so long ago since he was there, before moving on to be a simple priest.

    "But really, what would anyone need with a religious institution? I mean, I get they collect technology n' stuff, but so do a lot of organizations that'd be a lot easier to get into."

    Why does she feel this need to be dismissive? Gwen awkwardly rubs her neck. "N' this is just the main church, I take it?"

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    'I assume most of you are familiar with the Ethos Society.'

    However briefly, the doctor meets Leon's eye and similarly nods. There is one additional complication in this wrinkle that the both of them are no doubt (well, Citan definitely is), and that is the fact that his senior's only son -- and Fei's friend -- is with the Ethos. What was it that Jessie had said...

    'Something's not adding up. Whole thing feels...messy. It's not clean enough for Etrenank.'

    ...Wasn't it something like that?

    He maintains his own silence for a long, long moment.

    Then:

    "There have been... some unsavory rumors circulating of late," he remarks at last. He's spent some time aboard the Thames, and sailors -- and other men of the sea -- love to talk. "So you are saying these are not merely conjecture?" He lifts a hand to his chin, regarding Aria afresh. "'Investigate', you say... I assume you mean in a manner you cannot attempt, yourself. So you believe that an outsider such as one of us would have a 'better chance'?"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline nods as Aria accepts the apology... though her gesture is one Jacqueline can't quite interpret. Is there something else there to it?

She takes a brief look, then, at those gathered, but her attention soon returns to Aria as she begins to explain.

"The Ethos..." Jacqueline repeats, frowning slightly. She listens quietly as Aria continues, explaining exactly what she's heard. It paints a pretty unpleasant picture. She glances toward Cyre briefly at his comment, before looking back toward Aria.

"...That's a pretty serious accusation. If what you say is true, then... we need to get to the bottom of it. The Ethos have their hands in a lot of things, from what I know, so if there's someone manipulating them from outside..." Jacqueline frowns, trailing off. "...Do you know how long this has been going on?"

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Smoothing her hands over her thighs to straighten her robe, Aria looks back towards the sound of Leon's voice, but before she can speak, it's Cyre who cuts in.

The priestess dips her lashes ever so slightly. "To quote the Book of St. Remigius, Verse 23 Line 5: 'Har de har har.'"

The irony is that the book really *does* say that. Don't doubt a priestess.

Back to Leon her attention drifts. "That is what I am hoping. You will be reimbursed for your trouble, of course. We can discuss the particulars of that later, but it is not lost on me how these things go." She brushes back a curl and clears her throat. "The place to start would be in St. Heim, the papal city."

Citan dangles a thought, and Aria raises her eyebrows shallowly as she cocks her head to one side. "I'm not exactly well-loved in St. Heim these days," she murmurs. "And I am, after all, quite blind. But yes, there is substance to them." Here, her gaze travels to roughly where she heard Gwen speaking from. "Think of how the Ethos operate. They closely control the use of technology, and they draw many of their recruits from orphanages. But most of those orphans will never become Etones. Nor will they end up anywhere else traceable. Many of those taken away for training simply vanish. Much of the technology they confiscate also winds up unaccounted for. Not simply stored in impound, or even destroyed. It simply... is lost track of. Entirely off the books."

She gestures towards Jay with a small wave of one hand. "I spoke to a former Etone who told me she was grievously mistreated - that the priests overseeing her were more interested in her magical abilities than religious devotion. Some of them apparently don't know *anything* about Granas or the faith."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The woman's hands rise up to her mouth, her green eyes widening in shock behind her mask. "Unthinkable," she murmurs, her voice a faint soprano. "And you say His Holiness has--perhaps he simply doesn't know." She glances sidelong at Gwen and Leon as she frets, shifting back and forth. Some of the baubles on her belt jingle. "It's not all of them. It can't be all of them. Can it?"

    Behind emerald-green eyes, the woman thinks of her mother, and her aunt. Both called themselves 'survivors'. What if...?

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"Of course," Leon says, in regards to reimbursement. He doesn't work for free -- or at least, not often. The Black Wolves have bills to pay.

He looks at Citan and nods. He tries his best to not make a face at Cyre's remark, and he is almost successful. But he nods as he listens.

"Disappearing children and guns," Leon says, with a sigh. "Well, that is a bloody mess. You think that St. Heim is the best place to begin looking into matters?"

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Fufufufufu~" Cyre chuckles and leans back. As the conversation takes on a more serious undertone, so does his expression. "I've suspected that there's always been something fishy going on with the Ethos. But kidnapping children takes it further than I'd ever thought. That said... I'm not shocked. Disappointed, maybe, but not shocked."

Any time you let any organization get away with that much power, it's... It never ends well. Someone gets greedy, starts playing with people's lives like they were pieces on a chessboard. And so...

This.

"Well, if you have a plan in mind, I'm game to take part. At the very least, it'll answer some burning questions of mine. But..." He frowns, glancing thoughtfully into the sky. "...If they have been keeping the cream of the ARM crop for themselves, then it won't be easy, or particularly safe. Whatever your plan is, it'd have to be a damn good one."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

St. Heim, the papal city... Jacqueline nods. It does make sense, though, that Aria wouldn't exactly have a lot of fans there, speaking out against the Church as she has. She frowns, though, as Aria continues.

"...I didn't realise they drew from orphanages. That's... unforgivable." Jacqueline says, shaking her head in disgust. If they cared for them that would be one thing, but for so many to simply vanish... the thought makes her feel ill.

And the account from the former Etone...

"...That's..." She shakes her head. "...We definitely need to get to the bottom of this."

She frowns, though, consideringly.

"That said... it may be difficult. I'm sure they won't simply let us walk in and rifle through their files - I imagine any information connected to this background force would be well-hidden. Do you have any inside connections, or any resources to help us?" Jacqueline asks. "Anything at all you can provide for us would go a long way toward uncovering the truth."

She looks toward Cyre, then, nodding. If there's a plan in mind, that would certainly make things easier... but, what he says about the ARMs is true, too. It won't be easy, even with help.

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    Just as Gwen had said, in fact -- they're all outsiders compared to the priestess. But--

    She may be of the cloth but it doesn't mean her presence is welcome in the papal state. "Indeed..." Citan murmurs, frowning briefly. When she says that she's blind he seems to pause for a moment, only to nod. "I had thought that you seemed as if you were... yes. Of course. My apologies, Sister."

    Something akin to surprise crosses the doctor's face. "I had heard that many Etones were recruited from Ethos-run orphanages, yes. But to hear that many of those who went away for training had simply vanished..." He shakes his head, then glances over towards Leon as if to read the man's assessment of the situation.

    And then there's the matter of the vanishing ARMs and technology.
    That part is actually... more troubling to him. What are they planning?

    "How do you recommend that we proceed, then, if we are to investigate the situation further, Sister?" He glances over at Jacqueline, who asks after much the same thing. "...Indeed, as Miss Barber says. We must know where it might be fruitful for us to search."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    "..."

    Gwen's face creases, as she crosses her arms.

    'They draw many of their recruits from orphanages.' ".... And how long has this been going on, do you think?" she asks, her voice strained.

    She occasionally sideeyes the disguised Ida(?) nearby her with some worry, cautious towards what seems to her to be a completely new person. A spy? Or someone who means well?

    She needs to loosen up.

    "And how do we know you're not someone who has a bone to pick? Some of those orphanages are run by good people. I was in one of them; no one would take someone like me, back then." She takes a breath, seeming to calm herself. "... I mean, I can't deny that my experience is gonna mirror everyone's. Big world, n' all that." The idea that the church could be possibly overtaken by people seems to sidestep some of her issues, as her shoulders begin to loosen once more. "... Just feels like we're steppin' into a wasps' nest."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"All of them, no." Aria glances towards the woman with the green eyes, still not making eye contact, merely following the sound of the voice as best she can without a key sense. "There is a divide. Even those few who have talked about it don't know what is in the minds of those who do. But everything I have heard tells me this: Those who answer to something outside the church are the ones with most of the actual power."

She clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "The role of His Holiness is... odd. He was an Etone before he rose to the Papacy. He *should* know what is going on within the Society as well as anyone. Yet the Ethos seems to do whatever it wants. Why?"

For a moment, Aria looks down to her lap. Her tone grows a little more grave as she looks up towards Gwen "It has been going on for a long time. How they choose, I'm not sure. I have been told that the tests are not so much theological as they are... scientific, or magical. I don't know if all the orphanages are fully 'in on it,' as they say, but the pipeline to the Ethos for those chosen can be harrowing at best. Some of the behaviours I have heard of from the supposed priests among them are monstrous by any standard."

To Leon's words, she nods slowly, then to Jay's. "Yes. There are back routes into the city. I can provide you directions that should allow you to get there without arousing suspicion, and there are a couple among them sympathetic to any help who could let you inside their headquarters. What would help is any sort of documentation or concrete evidence." Here she lifts her head towards Citan again, not quite focusing her eyes on him, but somewhere over his shoulder. "Anything worth keeping would be in their headquarters. Documents, records... something to show who is behind this."

She frowns, brows knitting into a deep V. "That is what has bothered me, aside from the gravity of the crimes I have heard of. I can't figure out who is really manipulating the Ethos. Everything points to some force with a greater agenda, but I just... wish I could put a name to it."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The woman's presence is... somewhat incongruous, but Drifter or not, she appears genuinely distressed, and it only gets worse as Aria expounds. "A--another nation," she says. "Kislev? I--I wouldn't put anything past the Kaiser, you know he's jealous of our industry." A glance at Gwen, and then one at Leon. The woman frets with her hands. A moment passes. "I..."

    "Sister," she says, "I--I fear you've..." Pause. Gulp. "My name is Vivian Vuong. I--what you were saying is of the utmost importance, and I swear on my ancestors' ashes I'll take it to my death if you wish it, but... I..."

    Oh no. An auntie accidentally ended up at the meeting, and is now fretting.

    "...You are going to investigate, aren't you?" says Vivian. "If--if there is something wrong. It can't go on like this."

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon's assessment, in a way, is straightforward: he sees a problem and is considering the best way to solve it. But, there is something he wonders: who could be behind the Etone? He narrows his eyes, then glances downward. "Do you know how long this has been occurring?"

It would be one way to determine who did it.

He does look at Gwen, though -- nods to her question -- and listens to Sister Aria's answer. Leon's head nods once to that, before he considers. He lifts his hand to his chin.

"We can sneak in -- and find these things. Especially if you know the way."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline frowns, thinking it over. So the ones in the dark are purposefully kept down in favor of those receiving orders from elsewhere... They can't be wary of all of the church's higher-ups, can they? And what Aria says about Zera Innocentius... Jacqueline's frown darkens. Putting those two pieces of information together...

...Should she even say that out loud? ...No, it's too early. They don't know enough yet.

She nods, then, as Aria provides some useful information for infiltrating, as well as an idea of what they should be looking for.

"As for who's responsible... I think it's too early to speculate just yet. We need to keep both our minds and our eyes open." Jacqueline says. "If we start pointing fingers now, we might miss something important."

She looks to the green-eyed woman, looking briefly surprised as she introduces herself Vuong? Like Venetia Vuong? ...She wouldn't have guessed, but then again, people wear masks for a reason.

"Don't worry, Miss Vuong. We'll be looking into it." Jacqueline says, offering her a reassuring smile. "It's like you said - things can't go on like this. We'll figure out what's happening and who's responsible."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Mmn, I guess if you've got a back door into the place, then that's... probably fine," Cyre says with a thoughtful rub of his chin. "Still, if they're taking orders from someone outside the church, I can't imagine that there'd be any single ordinary country capable of wielding enough power to sway the Ethos in one direction or another."

...Except for Solaris, of course.

Cyre glances meaningfully Leon-ward.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    Gwen's head nearly snaps back at 'Vivian's' name. Vuong, huh. Well, it would explain the mask, perhaps. But who knows how many Vuongs are out there? Gwen's certainly encountered other Whitlocks, though nothing resembling a close enough relation of any sort to be relevant beyond a curiosity.

    "Alright." The courier focuses her attention back at Aria. "That makes sense. Someone who's in the middle of it is gonna have a harder time than someone who doesn't have ties. Like us."

    It could be her way of protecting Silas, from afar, like she did when they were little. And to protect the spirit of the orphanages like the one she went to, way back when.

    Gwen nods to Jay. "Yeah, I agree. Lots of possibilities, though the timeframe narrows it down a touch." Odessa would be out, for one, unless they had been around for longer than Gwen knew.

    Could it be?

    Leon has yet another pair of eyes on him, Gwen's mind thinking along similar lines to Cyre.

    "Okay, I'm in, you've convinced me to research, at least. N' if we find nothing, no harm, no foul, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    'Something outside the church', speaks Aria, which Cyre remarks upon.

    Citan doesn't so much as glance Leon's way, but perhaps he doesn't need to, with a statement left to hang out in the open like that.

    That, and he has other mattets on his mind -- he's preoccupied in fact with the part of this that actively bothers him about this.

    ...What is the Ethos planning? When Jessie had spoken to him of his concerns, he had of course thought them credible. But now, more than ever...

    "...I understand. Perhaps there is some way for us to obtain something more... concrete, let us say," he says at last to the priestess. "We must take caution, however... and demonstrate prudence. I do not think that I need to say that 'getting caught within the Ethos' records offices' or something similar would go poorly for us..."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Weaving long fingers together, Aria bows her head when Vivian makes that heartfelt appeal. She's quiet for a couple of heartbeats.

"When I spoke up against what I saw as abuses within the Church, it was because I saw the Day of Darkness looming, and I saw that the Church was unready at best and indirectly abetting it at worst," she says, her tone quieter and tinged with sadness. "I did not expect to find that the rot ran so deep. But if this is where the facts lead, then I would be a fool not to try and fix it. I do not have the power to fight like most of you do. I have some ability to see prophecy, but that power hardly wins battles. The realms of theological dispute and curia politics feels small compared to Drifters who go into danger. But I will fight to ensure that the truth comes out, and to bring justice to those responsible."

Leon's pragmatism seems to centre her, and she draws a breath and looks down to her lap. "Yes. I can provide you with what you will need to get inside. Whatever you find, you can bring back to me here."

To Gwen's words, she clears her throat. "May it be that you find nothing. I hope to Granas that I have been chasing moonbeams. The alternative - that I am right - would mean that a lot of terrible rumours have truth to them after all."

To Citan's words, she nods soberly, this time lifting her head with what would seem to be a look off to one side. Her lips come together in a tight line before relaxing. "There are skilled investigators and commandos among you - I know that much. I trust your ability to gather information. I can only thank you for taking this seriously."

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"It's better we bring the truth to light," Leon says, after Aria. He looks at Gwen. "I'd rather not have my head buried in the sand... but, I'm not a man of faith, either. I have little love -- and little hate -- for the faith."

He shakes his head, and then he glances back at Aria. He nods once to her. "Doctor Uzuki is a man of many talents. As are the lot of us. We'll get to the bottom of this."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Of course Doctor Uzuki is a man of many talents. You don't get to go to medical school without taking a few relevant life skill electives!!

Cyre taps at his cheek. If this conspiracy really goes all the way up... Then he wonders something very, very important.

...If this involves people of such power and such influence that they can turn an organization as large as the Ethos to their will... Why is Sister Aria not dead? It could be as easy as not wanting to be viewed as silencing a vocal critic through violent means, but... Hm.

Well. At least if he is present for the infiltration, he can always break down a few walls and escape with the people he cares about. What's another wanted poster between friends, right?

"I'm in if Jay is," he decides, then.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Vivian relaxes visibly when no one calls her out. "You're too kind," she says, perhaps to the whole assembly. "Though--the Day of Darkness? Then the rumors were true? The darkness sweeping across the land, and..." Vivian frets with the end of her shawl. She seems to be the type to keep her fingers busy when upset.

    "Forgive me. I'm--as I said, I will tell no one of what transpired here." She looks among the gathered Drifters, her gaze lingering on Gwen, who seemed... sympathetic to her.

    Behind green eyes, the woman's thoughts run along the same track as Cyre's. The pious might attribute Aria's survival to faith, and perhaps the blessings of God and Granas. The woman knows that there is no such justice in the world. And if the enemy is Solaris, then...

    She has to speak with her mother, and her aunt, at once.

    "Bless you," she says, smiling at the other Drifters. "All of you. If--if this is true, then you're doing the Lord's work."

    Vivian leans in close to Gwen. "If I may impose, miss--would you be willing to escort me to the Devil's Stair? That I made it this far is a miracle, but you know how unsafe it can be these days..."

<Pose Tracker> Citan Uzuki has posed.

    He shakes his head. "As a doctor, one simply learns what to listen for," Citan replies, if not without a slight smile on his part.

    He glances at Leon, then; there's more to be said on the matter -- at least where Billy is concerned -- but as a more private matter, it's best left for more private circumstances than these.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline nods grimly at Citan's comment. ...It's true - the Ethos aren't exactly going to be happy about it, if they're caught.

"Yes... we'll have to take the utmost care." She agrees, then looks back toward Gwen, offering a nod. "That's a good point, too."

It's true - there were some things they could probably exclude.

"...Well, one way or another, we'll find out." Jacqueline says, then looks toward Cyre. She nods. "I'm in. If it is true... then this could affect everyone, not just people of the Granasian faith. So, we're all in this together."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

    Citan.... brings up a very good point. "Yeah, not to mention anyone associated with us, too. But!" She raises a finger. "With all of us here, there can't be no chance of that unless we're major unlucky, eh?"

    The Day of Darkness. Gwen's back to looking uncomfortable, her eyes switching from one familiar face to the next to spot what their reaction is.

    But someone can be a prophet *and* someone who notices that people are being shady in her church, right? .... right? Without it turning out to be a saint's story where they get burnt at the stake? Or something else that's pretty horrible? Gwen makes an uneasy laugh. "Right, right. We'll see what we can do on our end."

    Vivian calls for Gwen's help, throwing the courier off guard, momentarily. True to her nature, however, Gwen is quick with a nod. "Of course. I'd be more than happy to."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Many are counting on you," Aria answers Leon with a dip of her head.

To Vivian's words, she nods slowly. "The time is approaching, yes. If it is true that the Church is being manipulated through the Ethos, it may be that the stage has been set for it simply by such gross corruption. I can hope that it is not so."

She closes her eyes and breathes a slow sigh, then. "My people will work out your payment and pass you on the directions you need. Return here when you've finished. And... please be safe. The Ethos are powerful."