"The most powerful of psis can leave an imprint on the psychic fabric of the universe. The ignorant call them "ghosts", the superstitious call them "loa". The educated will know them for what they are, simply an echo of consciousness. "
- An Inworlder's Guide to Outworld Phenomena,
Stannis Law -> Highguard
At Highguard, Shoshana tells the King about the seven baby-Hegemon-heirs, and he makes arrangements to have them held and cared for in a secure area in the spaceport until Dominick, (as the king's Foreign Minister), can inform the Hegemon. Dominick does not relish breaking the news to her, but begins preparing for a trip to New Light.
Shoshana and her sister-in-law Elspeth meet the party at the spaceport, and are introduced to the people that Elspeth hasn't met and Shoshana is pretending to have not met. Ace makes a brief side trip as people move through customs, and ends up on the other side with a blaster, two concealable radio headsets, and some Hippocrates-tech medical supplies including a Stabilizer Pack.
The party heads to Dominic and Elspeth's townhouse. Small children leap upon Shoshana and Elspeth, but are subdued and dragged back into the house. More briefing ensues. Nikolas apparently took a week off three months ago, to investigate the location of the Book of the Hegemons, but has not returned. Everyone thought he was off planet with Eva, so didn't realize that something had gone wrong until very recently. They've narrowed down where he was going to a particular section of little used royal-held land off in the mountains.
The group acquires camping gear from the von Torstens (except Jim, who has his own, and Ace, who has, well, something suitable for hiding somewhere cold, which is somewhat like camping gear), and takes carriages to the small town nearest the site in the mountains. Horses are acquired, suitable for various riders' abilities. Nobody manages to fall off.
The group heads up into the mountains, and the path grows more and more overgrown. It doesn't seem like it's been used in a long time, which means Nikolas may not have come this way. Hmm. Katya notes, via Presence, that there's someone out in the forest. Janzur notes that something in the trees (much closer) seems to be watching Katya suspiciously. Jim and Ace spot a "small hulking figure" in the bushes ("A dwarf! Highguard has dwarves in the mountains, I bet!"), and sneak around behind it. Ace spots a large dog, watching the group intently, while Jim more correctly identifies it as a wolf. Martan notes that this is not wolflike behavior. Well, clearly the wolf is working for someone - perhaps if it can be chased off, it will report to its secret masters and Ace and Jim can follow it to find out who they are.
Janzur attempts to chase it away, but it isn't quite as intimidated as he'd like. Then he feeds it several pieces of beef jerky, which also doesn't chase it away. Katya tries to read its mind, and learns that one, she can't really read an animal's mind, but two, there was something else in there. The something else vanishes, and the wolf flees. Ace chases after it. It outdistances him, but only when it reaches a clearing, in the center of which is a large castle.
Ace reports this (via his illicit radio; Sophia has the other). Katya thinks that the mysterious presence is in a different direction, but the castle seems familiar, and so is a probably a good place to start looking. The party proceeds to the castle, which Dr. Kye notes is an ancient Hegemonic castle, well kept up despite no one having been there for hundreds of years.
Dr. Kye attempts to commune with the castle, and promptly heads inside, followed by Janzur and Ace. Eva realizes this is mind control of some variety and so Katya puts shields up on everyone else before they also head in. Unfortunately, the massed power invested in the castle doesn't seem interested in being blocked by Katya's power, and so at this point, everyone is, in essence, possessed by the echoes of past events that happened in the castle, and the people who were there.
Echoes / Scenes: Different rooms have different rooms with echoes of strong emotions. They bring out those emotions in people's present personas, and were the site of significant occurrences in the past.
Dr. Kye and Mirris have a confrontation in the Hallway of Unrequited Love, in which there is much shouting and some making of puppy-dog eyes. They leave, vowing never to speak of this again, though Dr. Kye manages to briefly ambush Mirris in the hallway again later. Jim and Katya take advantage of Katya's being able to speak, to have a conversation in the same hallway, but it is interrupted by the Count's death. Martan rails against fate in the Courtyard of Railing Against Fate - if he's doomed to die doing the whatever-it-is, why did he have to fall in love, just to leave Katya? Mirris and Kye try to convince him that maybe he won't actually die.
Nikolas is found, unconscious and starving, but not quite dead. Between Sophia's low-tech medical kit and Ace's couple of smuggled high-tech medpatches, he's stabilized enough to take out when the group leaves.
Upon leaving, the group is met by Twig outside the castle gates. He is surprised to see Janzur, Eva, and Katya, as he hadn't expected them to live so long. He is now the owner of Evensong Castle, having been given the deed by Arista when she died; he was also given a perpetual right, by the King of Highguard (Steffan back then) which states that as long as he is on his land, he is above the law. The group wonders if anyone else knows he's here - he asks who the king is. Maximilian. That's a new king - no, nobody else does. He's apparently had some contact with kings of Highguard since Steffan, but not recently. The crew negotiates with him briefly and Twig is offered passage to Nurl to visit in exchange for some information about the past. He suggests that the King be brought here to meet him, as it's somewhat unsafe for him to wander around in the open unknown, and that the Hippocrates be brought here to pick him up, (It's legal to land a ship here, though presumably nobody knows that until they see Twig's Right), but the details are left for Puttering to arrange.