The political climate of Chiaroscuro is charged with talk of change. Though Yejouj Khan, the Tri-Khan, is a beloved ruler of his people, his son Semanos Khan is considered a peacock who is too concerned with the arts and not skilled enough in politics to be a capable, strong leader. His recent betrothal to an outsider, Nemanu Vior, a warrior princess from Kirighast, has caused further division within the city.
However, that is not the only major change to effect Chiaroscuro. The rise and Exaltation of Sethos the Gilded Lotus has attracted the notice of several eyes. Obtaining the rank of the pasha, there are whispers that he is the Kha-Khan reborn. He has been protected from investigation from the Realm by having Ragara Hitoshi, the local representative, as a firm ally on his side.
The adventure opens when Sethos is approached by Ahmet Iskaldur with an offer to work with “a group interested in protecting the Tri-Khan” involving a matter of national security. Being a loyal nationalist, Sethos accepts and learns that there is a plot to possibly assassinate Semanos during an upcoming ball. Sethos is given the name of several other individuals with differing skills who may be able to assist him with his duty of discovering more of the plot and subverting it.
The first name given to him is that of Chenzira, the Blade of Circla. A gladiator of great renown, she is in the city as part of the Guild’s sponsored games that are travelling throughout the southern region. Though she is rumored to be an Anathema, Sethos decides to go watch the games and decide for himself. He is doubtful when he sees her weapons painted to look like fake orichalchum and even a caste mark painted on her face, but after soundly defeating her opponents he notices an actual caste mark glowing over her brow. He decides to make inquiries on what it would take to purchase her from the family that “owns” her.
The second name given is that of Shimmering Mirage, a former nomad who has taken up residence in the city to peddle her wares – potions, trinkets, and other items of a mystical nature. When she arrives at Sethos’ glass tower residence at his invitation she seems stunned by his presence, and reveals herself to be a Lunar Exalt. She then claims she is his “steward”, and has several strong opinions on what he is, and what his destiny is. She agrees to aid him and begins to follow him around with her massive scythe despite his reservations at her always carrying such a weapon so openly (though she does use it to display her wares, and often keeps it wrapped and dangling with trinkets).
Sethos’ inquiries into purchasing Chenzira return, and the price is too high for even him to afford. Instead of purchasing her, he decides to approach the matter another way and he and Shimmering Mirage arrange to meet with her. He pays for her to arrive at his residence and spar. As they spar, Sethos reveals to Chenzira that he is one of the “Anathema” the same as her. Shimmering Mirage drugs the attendants that accompany her so that they all can speak in private. Sethos convinces Chenzira that although she enjoys a life of relative luxury, she is a slave who has more than earned back what she is worth, and could have so much more as a freed woman.
Sethos, Shimmering Mirage, and Chenzira meet with a Circla family representative after Sethos presents numbers indicating Chenzira’s worth and true earnings, and Chenzira informs the representative that she is now a free woman. Unsure what else to do with her newfound freedom, Chenzira agrees to work with Sethos. Her loyal eight-tailed mole hound and some of her followers accompany her as well.