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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Cavalry

    They are heard before they are seen. The hoofbeats of hundreds of horse crash into the ground like thunder; hooves press into the ground in tireless gallop. The sound of a meticulously trained cavalry alone has been known to break the ranks of infantry, and these horsemen seem very well trained indeed.

    They hold higher ground; from atop a shallow hill they can see into the village, can see the wreck of the Frostwind. A small group detaches from the front, and five mounted men begin their approach towards the village, lances at the ready.
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    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
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    The Maze of Madness

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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    And they're out of time to discuss or plan or equivocate - but no hail of arrows, yet. Good. The shining around Ireva has subsided a little, a white-gold halo rather than a towering eruption of light. It remains unmistakable for anything but what it is.

    She turns away from her conversation with Shimoko with a last abbreviated smile for the Earth Aspect, and glances up at Zhou. "Together, Chuzei?" If they didn't attack on seeing the animas, that implies at least some chance to talk. "Someone should stay with the scout, but otherwise - we may as well take the initiative."

    As Ireva walks forward to meet the horsemen she turns her mind to her attire. No ballgowns here, on this smoking battleground - but her rather worn coat and trousers shimmer and shift, taking on more of the quality of a uniform, albeit not of the same cut as the Lookshyan uniforms she's seen. The fabric is flawless, the tailoring impeccable, but the greatest change is the air of dignity and authority that settles on the diminutive Solar like a cloak, and in a moment becomes unnoticeable, as if it were always there.

    There is no hesitation in her step, no uncertainty in her face as she studies the oncoming riders, cataloguing information and tucking it away. She halts a few yards short of the five, hands folded loosely in front of her, any weapons she bears unseen for now. Her gaze roves over each of them once more, assessing, judging; after a moment she offers a short nod, and a small precisely-measured smile. Her voice is calm, but with a hint of steel in it, a quiet confidence that says louder than words I am in control of this situation.

    "The day's greetings to you. Looking for something?"

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    Anima is probably down to the 8-10 or 4-7 level. Since concealment is impossible anyway, turning Infinite Resplendence Amulet up to App-7 mode.

    Also, putting up Mastery of Small Manners from Personal to go to App 8, make people more inclined to do small favors, and avoid social screw-ups.

    I'm not sure if I should be rolling anything?
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-05-17 at 02:26 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "Seems sensible."

    Walking besides his wife, Zhou looks almost plain, and to a certain extent that is a deliberate affection. Lacking the magical enhancements the Solar can add to her aura, he has to settle for what circumstance and natural skill can provide. Fortunately, that is quite a lot.

    His uniform is dirty, his skin stained with smoke and grime, but these do not detract from his appearance. Rather, they enhance it - here is a soldier, fresh from the battlefield, marks of violence upon his person and the faint glimpse of fatigue in his eyes. Some would consider that a weakness, and become bold in the face of it, so the lack of concealment is in itself a statement - a kind of self-assurance that tells those who look that he remains confident of victory, should blows be exchanged.

    And yet the fearsome blade at his side remains sheathed, and the dwindling sparks of his anima continue to slowly fade rather than flare up with further use. There is wariness there, as is to be expected when confronted with hundreds of unknown soldiers, but no fear or hostility.

    "If it's about your scout, he's alive, and resting."

    Of course, there is also no escaping the fact that everything about Kharal Zhou, from his uniform to his accent, declares his Lookshyan affiliations. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Husband? Husband?! And she... she seems genuinely... well, this sucks. This really...

    ...

    Hooves. Oncoming hooves.
    "I think I'm giving up on simple at this point." she murmurs, stepping back to let her - theoretically, at least - commander take point on the diplomacy.
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Skandi sees the horses, and grins. And then continues to grin, grinning much more widely, following a pace behind Ireva and Zhou. A young Lunar who doesn't want to be tattooed? He has no idea what to do. A gravely injured man who they had no intention of hurting? Also not part of his plan.

    But a group of riders interrogating them about their location? Finally, he's at home.

    He'll save the dramatic introduction for later. For now he simply looms behind his pack leaders, grinning like a wolf, his sword safely sheathed. There is either about to be a very enjoyable negotiation, or an even more enjoyable battle.
    R.I.P. Skandi the Wolf of Return of the Scarlet Empress

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    The cavalry come on, great in number and sure in skill. No, this is no force his company could have evaded. But what a sight that company makes... dimming elemental auras paired with flashes of gold and silver, and Versino still circling overhead, aloft on crimson wings. That the horsemen do not strike at once is something of a pleasant surprise, though it may hint that their leader or employer is someone at least as strange, if not stranger, and that is hardly to be fathomed.

    So many horsemen, of such skill... the Marukani ride in these parts, don't they? But wouldn't they advance with bows, not lances? Braga wishes he knew the land better, and its peoples, but to the Scarlet Empire the disposition of foreign powers is more an exercise for the general or for the diplomat than for the scholar. He glances upward, wondering if Versi can see any end to the oncoming host from her vantage.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    The Advance Party

    The vanguard tense visibly at the party's appearance. Weapons are leveled...not quite at them. But close.

    "...Throw down your weapons," their leader says. "One of yours will escort our medics to him."

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    Charisma+Performance: (5d10)[2][7][4][3][2](18)
    Quote Originally Posted by DeafnotDumb View Post
    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
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    It turns out that sometimes? He *does* murder characters.

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  8. - Top - End - #8
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Ireva lays a restraining hand on Zhou's arm: she's seen his reaction to disrespect before. When she speaks again her voice is soft, but with a compelling cadence, drawing the listener in close.

    "Sir. With all due respect, let me give you some friendly advice. Treating people as enemies easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know no reason, at present, that we should treat each other with hostility. So. Let me propose an alternative."

    "My allies will not hand over or throw down their weapons, but will keep them sheathed." She shrugs, one-shouldered. "You can keep yours out, if you feel you really need them. I'll remain here with you: you see I'm unarmed. Your medics are free to tend to your scout -" She nods over to the rice paddy. "He's just over there, on the rise. He was accidentally injured by an anima while running away from us, and inhaled quite a lot of water from the rice paddy before we managed to get him clear. We've done what we can to help him, but I am sure the lady Xet would welcome aid from trained healers."

    "And then we can talk. I imagine you have questions? I certainly do... but I suppose there's one that takes priority." Her voice stays soft, calm, encouraging, but her smile fades, and her green eyes harden. "Are you working with or allied to the beings we drove back to the Underworld, who murdered this village and poisoned the land?"

    She's fairly confident of the answer, of course, or she wouldn't have asked the question: she doubts very much a detachment of Thornguard would have approached them this way. But the question holds answers within it, for the strangers: we oppose Thorns. We did not harm the village. We fought the deathknights. We understand your suspicion: can you understand ours?

    And hopefully, we have a common foe.

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    Figured I would try to get this in before getting on my long flight.

    Presence+Charisma at the leader, enhancing with Irresistible Salesman Spirit from Personal, trying to persuade him to follow the course of action (peaceful negotiation/discussion, medics check on the scout) that Ireva is suggesting.

    -2 MDV if she's changing his opinions and beliefs. App is 8, firing Mastery of Small Manners to maintain the "no social screw-ups, make people more inclined to do small favors" effect.

    Presence+Charisma, both honesty bonuses and Negotiation specialty really should apply here, but I'll roll them separately just in case.

    (10d10)[6][10][2][8][8][2][6][4][10][8](64) Presence+Charisma
    (4d10)[3][7][1][6](17) from Stone of Humble Glory
    (3d10)[8][1][8](17) from specialty
    (3d10)[2][7][2](11) from possible stunt

    Double successes. 4m spent from Personal, so this is mote-neutral if I get a 2-die stunt. Also, if it lands, I'll take the 1WP regen from my Destiny, since this is honest.
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-05-24 at 12:54 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "And quite aside from self-fulfilling prophecies, we just got shot down and then had a rather vicious fight with three Deathknights." Zhou says dryly, making absolutely no move to either draw or discard his weapon. "I'm sure you can understand how something like that would make a person wary about setting aside their weapon."

    The support for his wife's suggestion is easy enough to read, as is the unstated confidence backing it up. This is a group that was ambushed by Deathknights and emerged victorious - not the kind a sane man wishes to fight if there is another option available.

    "In the interests of perhaps reducing that wariness, introductions would seem to be in order." he continues after that momentary pause. "My name is Chuzei Kharal Zhou, of the Seventh Legion. These are my... Irregulars, for lack of a better term. Who might you be?"
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

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  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Advance Party

    "Well," the man says, much more cheerfully. "Aren't you perceptive?"

    "And while I'm sure you're a very nice lady, ma'am - and well met, Chuzei, any officer of Lookshy's is a welcome sight - we do have our orders. Same with our commanders, who is going to be charging down with everyone we left behind to kill everyone - including us - very shortly, unless you disarm. Seeing as how we're only five, and you're all chosen by the dragons or cursed by demons or whatever, and can probably make any of us do anything, we can't really take too many chances. According to the Commander," and here the capital is emphasized "this is as friendly as we can get, given we don't know **** all - sorry about the language, ma'am - about anything. Your Exalted sirs."

    The fang leader bows, as is proper before a Prince of the Earth.

    "Unbroken Willow, leader of this piss-poor group of five. We get to do all the fun stuff like dealing with Exalts and sticking our necks out, and in return they give us pay and a half."
    Quote Originally Posted by DeafnotDumb View Post
    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aevylmar View Post
    It turns out that sometimes? He *does* murder characters.

    The Maze of Madness

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  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "Well met, Unbroken Willow. I guess it would be a shame if you got yourself killed on our account." Zhou says cheerfully, taking a moment to glance up the slope at the rest of the watching cavalry. Then he unbuckles the daiklaive at his waist and stands it, still sheathed, against a convenient nearby rock before taking a few steps away. "Skandi? Do likewise, please, and don't pretend it makes you entirely helpless or anything. I'd rather not have to kill anyone here today."

    He looks back at Unbroken Willow. "You appreciate, of course, that setting aside my weapon isn't the same as surrendering or giving it to you. It is quite valuable, and I do believe my family would flay me if I lost it." He says, humour taking the edge off the quite serious concern.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Skandi looks back and forth between them and sighs.

    "Assume all the threats of shapeshifting wrath on those who would steal the treasures of Skandi the Wolf have already been made," he says, placing his still-sheathed sword near Zhou's, then firmly planting his moonsilver shield in the ground, trapping his sword against the rock. With luck, no-one unattuned could shift the shield to take the sword.

    "I admit, the tactic of using your own men as hostages is interesting. May I ask who it is who introduced it here?
    R.I.P. Skandi the Wolf of Return of the Scarlet Empress

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "Pay and a half? Seriously?" Ireva's brow creases; she sounds faintly insulted. "You're getting scammed. Let me know if you want a hand next time you renegotiate your contract."

    "That aside..." She studies the riders, still smiling as she measures the apparent relief in the leader's voice, as she listens for the subtle notes of deception. "If that's indeed your role, then you can't have any information your leaders want kept secret." Since an Exalt could force you to provide it as easily as they could force you to do anything else. "So as Skandi suggests - while we wait, why not just cut to the chase and tell us who you are, who you work for, and what you're doing here? It'll probably save time when we meet your... Commander."

    Her voice takes on a faintly plaintive note. "And I have to say, it would be nice to get a straight answer for once. Is no, Ireva, we're not working with the deathknights so difficult?"
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-05-29 at 07:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  14. - Top - End - #14
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    The mercenaries' method of dealing with potentially hostile Exalts is bloody-minded, but practical. A Realm expeditionary force would have Immaculate monks or Dragon-Blooded officers to greet such threats, their souls safeguarded at least in theory by the Diligent Practices and Noble Insights, but this band... they seem well-trained to his ill-trained eye, but they must not have much magic in their ranks. If they had God-Bloods or Outcastes among them, they should be out here, not Unbroken Willow.

    Of course... if they had their own Exalted, and yet they still sent Unbroken Willow instead...

    He glances over the serried lines of horsemen, a chill running down his spine at the thought.

    He considers retaining his grasp on Mela's breath, just in case, as his particular talent is not precisely a weapon, but after a moment more he thinks better of the idea. If it were his actions which brought those ranks of cavalry down on his comrades... He cannot bear the risk. The light goes out of his eyes, the sparks cease to dance across his skin. While the wind of his anima still blows, he can no longer call lightning at a mere whim... which is as thoroughly "disarmed" as he can easily make himself.

    "Versi,"
    he calls up to his daughter, still circling overhead, "set Skycutter down, if you would. These... gentlemen... desire a show of our peaceful intentions."
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Jade situates herself someplace away from the action, making busywork through organizing and reorganizing her bag, ensuring that her fireworks are hidden well within her dress, and in general doing a lot of things that involve her head being kept down and her body small and pressed in on itself. Three hours, five at the outside, until her Essence recharges and she can get up a proper disguise... three hours, five at the most...

    This kind of thinking isn't helping. With one breath, the conwoman gathers up all her nervous energy and lets it out. Good. That's better. Now to start listening in - to look out for advantages, for tricks, for openings... and suddenly the old machinery of her mind is whirring again, putting plans and plots into place with marvellous precision.

    She can do this. She's fooled them so far: she only needs to do it for a day more, and then she's out of here. Just one day more.

    Two at the outside.

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "...I don't really have weapons." mutters the veritable juggernaut of magical metal, rime and stone covering her form. Still, she decides she'd best look unthreatening.

    ...this is fairly difficult. After a few moments, she ends up sitting down on a piece of rubble, and trying to look nonchalant.
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Tepet Xet hangs back as the soldiers approach, ostensibly to keep an eye on the unconscious scout. Her posture is straighter than it was a few minutes ago, chin raised and shoulders squared, conveying confidence - or arrogance - bred in the bone; that and the faint sea-spray whirl of her dying anima hint strongly at her Dynastic heritage. While she is watching the conversation (and listening, as her carelessly discarded weapon attests to), her interest seems casual, as though the army a few hundred yards away isnít really a concern.

    All a calculated mask, of course. Her cultural trappings and demeanor will serve to test their reactions, should eyes fall on her, while hanging back places her in a position to observe while others draw attention. A sensible approach, using relays to deal with Exalts and Anathema of unknown power and intent. Very prudent. But does this mean that the commander isn't confident in their ability to face down Exalts, or is he or she merely a cautious soul? Difficult to say. As Ireva has just noted, the men here aren't likely to know anything critical, but they may be able to answer that question, at least - they can hardly be completely ignorant of their leader. (And if they are, if the Commander keeps the rank and file completely in the dark... this alone is worth knowing.)

    Ireva is holding up their side of the negotiations well, as expected; if the foreign soldiers are being honest (as her divinations suggest) then matters should go well. If not... Better to err on the side of caution. Xet opens her mind through the tiny Air-aspected hearthstone on her brow, attuning herself to the echoes of the man's thoughts and listening.

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    Using the Gem of Surface Thoughts on an NPC! A surprisingly rare occurrence. :small wink:

    Perception+Awareness: (10d10)[10][7][9][1][2][10][3][6][9][4](61)
    Stunt: (3d10)[10][1][9](20)
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Slowly, a gentle beating of wings increases in speed. Anyone looking up would see a young girl, clad in silver plate with mighty red wings sprouted from her back. Versi descended towards to the earth, cutting through the air at first before coming to a halt slightly above the earth. She had started to muster the basics of flight, but was still a little unsure of how best to land.

    Gingerly, the young brown haired girl placed one foot upon the ground, before slowly letting her wings fold back, falling to the ground with a light thump. The impact was comparably gentle, but Versi still sunk to her knees, the lack of support a surprise after the seeming weightlessness of flight. The light-headedness following her earlier blood loss didn't help. Still, she had her cannon in her hands, and Skycutter served well to prop herself up. Slowly, Versino dragged herself upright, grinning gingerly to Braga and Skandi, before turning her attention to the newcomers, smile swiftly fading.

    Horsemen. Horses were still a little strange to Versi; it just seemed like an odd way to fight someone. She wasn't sure how well someone could fight whilst sitting down, but she'd seen their numbers from the air. The newcomers could've probably killed them if they wanted to. This was likely a genuine offer. But that didn't mean she had to like it. Or that the little Malfean trusted the strangers enough to treat them well.

    Trying to adopt a threatening scowl (and largely failing) Versi stepped forward, placing her canon down gently by the other weapons before looking up towards the mercenaries. "Don't think I can't fight without Skycutter. If you try and hurt anyone, I'll..."

    Threats are not exactly the young girl's strong suite. Instead, she took a step backwards, glancing towards her father with a frown, and muttering under her breath. "Dragons watch over us all."

  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Skandi looks over Versi with a critical eye.

    "She doesn't know how to intimidate people. This is a problem." For a moment he pictured himself giving the younger Lunar; instructions. "You'll rip his lungs out with your magical shapeshifter claws and let him run out of air," he could perhaps suggest. Or possibly, "You'll feed him his comrades' eyes." Too cruel? Some people - him, say - would take offense at a threat to theri friends where they'd ignore it to themselves...

    Then he sighs. This is not the time to be intimidating a mortal, and especially not time to joke about torturing a mortal, especially not to a kid who's barely learned that she isn't Anathema. This is the time to wait, and watch, and be quiet.
    R.I.P. Skandi the Wolf of Return of the Scarlet Empress

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Unbroken Willow

    "...Course you don't," the man says to the armored juggernaut. His lips twitch once, twice. "Why would you need them?"

    His eyes are drawn to the pile of stacked weapons, jade and moonsilver and some armament beyond his reckoning. He glances at his own weapon, well maintained, well cared for, incomparable to the bounty before him.

    "I work with Commanding Teacher of Martial Readiness. and begging your pardon, ma'am, but you already got my name and my Commander's. And I've gotten the good Chuzei, I'd like to know who I'm dealing with here too, see. I given you my name, and the good Chuzei's given his. But I haven't had the pleasure of hearing yours."

    Spoiler: Snark
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    Wow she is gorgeous. And probably doing something to my mind right now. She's making me think that, come on, keep your smile on and your guard up. She can't want me to be defensive so that has to be coming from me. She might be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen...


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    Yeah, he's still telling the truth.
    Last edited by industrious; 2014-06-06 at 03:43 AM.
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    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    She can sense the terror in the tension of his shoulders, in the guardedness behind the smile, in the careful way he doesn't clutch his lance white-knuckled. But she'd always expected it would be like this, with the baleful brand of her caste burning on her brow, even if she might have hoped otherwise. A brief qualm of guilt goes through her, for the amulet that is surely only making it worse, with the shining glory about her to bedazzle merely human minds, but -

    Unbroken Willow's fear was never her target, and it leaves a bitter taste, but she can't regret the decision. Not yet. She had made the judgement in a broken moment, back there - that when she met the commander who had sent forth these cavalry in thunderous waves that shook the ground and air, she would meet strength with strength. Weakness can be a weapon and a veil, but wreathed in their sevenfold animas - sun and twin-faced moon, fire and water, earth and wind - there had been no hope of feigning harmlessness.

    And truth be told, she is tired of hiding, tired of denying. For Firada's gift and Isa's blessing, for Zhou's trust and Lupo's promise that her power might hold a chance to help...

    She can only be what she is. And do Unbroken Willow the honor of not acknowledging his fear.

    The diminutive Solar offers the rider a conceding nod, an understanding smile. "Fair enough. Although actually, you have heard it. My name is -" There is the briefest possible pause, but she managed it with Shimoko, and Willow isn't even Lookshyan, "Kharal Ireva." There is a faint emphasis on the first word. "I've also been known as Eris Stormcrow and Untimely Orchid -" She offers a one-shouldered shrug, a wry smile, "But they're not names I plan to use much anymore." And are either of those names you were told to look out for, soldier?

    She glances up at Zhou, face lighting with a brief-burning smile, as she continues half to Willow and half to the group, "And since you were telling the truth about an officer of Lookshy being a welcome sight -"

    Ireva folds her hands as she turns her attention back to the riders. Her green eyes are level, grave, but no longer cold or hard. "Chuzei Kharal is my husband. Those who rule Thorns are my enemies. And I've pledged myself to the defense of Lookshy until the Mask of Winters is defeated."

    Her voice is clear and soft. The words are simple. They seem to resonate in the air, to hang there for a long moment.

    After a moment, she clears her throat, and nods to the village behind them. Her voice grows cool, professional, clean of either condescension or threat, as if she's briefing colleagues. "We knew something of the Mask's goals before we left Lookshy. From the evidence of the village, we now have more of an idea of their tactics: it looks like they slaughtered the people there to seed a shadowland across the main road, cut Lookshy's lines of supply. I was searching the area before you got here: I do want to finish that, we might be able to learn something. There were three deathknights here, and about a score of Thornguard: not an insignificant investment."

    Her tone grows a little less coolly businesslike; the edge of a smile reappears, tugging at the edge of her lips. "To answer the questions you're not asking - that's why we are here, at this village specifically, since one of the deathknights decided to take a potshot at us. But we were out here in the first place -" A brief glance at Zhou asks permission, "- because we had heard tell of an army that had emerged."

    Her gaze on Willow is searching, thoughtful. "And it seems... we've found one."

    "So. You now know who you're dealing with, beyond just names. You know who and what we are, and why we're here." A slight smile. "Which is something I would now like to know, reciprocally." She frowns slightly. "Also why, if you think well of Lookshy, your scout risked his life to flee in panic when my husband identified himself?"

    She has her own suspicions. But better they be left unvoiced, for now.

    Ireva opens a hand. "Now, if that means you take us, or some of us, to your Commander, rather than talk to us yourself and risk betraying some secret, that's fine. If he or she wants to maintain intermediaries, if you want to carry letters or messages back and forth, that would also work." A quick glance at Zhou checks his approval of these statements; she can feel herself slipping into the easy rhythm of negotiation, but she doesn't want to overstep her own authority and undermine his.

    "I know you wanted to send medics here to look over your injured scout. I think we have no objections to that. We've laid down our weapons, as you requested. Are there other steps we can take, to make this easier for you and your commander?" The Solar shrugs. "Beyond information, our own immediate needs are probably rather simple. As I said, I want to investigate the village - your people may wish to do that, as well - and we have supplies to salvage from our ship, at the least. Possibly repairs to make."

    We're all friends here. Aren't we being open and cooperative? Nobody needs to die.

    She wonders if he'll realize that she's not pushing, or if he'll just think she's manipulating him so subtly it's hard to tell. All she can do is let actions speak as loudly as words bright with sunlit Essence, and leave the choices in his hands.

    "So." She shrugs, and opens the other hand. "Your move, Unbroken Willow. Or your commander's, perhaps. Explain to us, or take us to someone who can. Or ask us questions, if you need more information. Or bring your medics and tell your cavalry to hold back while we check the town and our ship, and you see to your scout."

    Her smile twists, turns a little fey. "Or you could try to kill us, I suppose. But I don't think anyone would benefit much from that."

    Spoiler
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    Hmm. Let's go for a natural emotion effect this time, of Calm And Constructive. She's trying not to push him into something that will feel like a betrayal when he reflects on it.

    Other players, I realize this is kind of lengthy. If you would rather bring up any of the points in here (e.g. why the scout ran), let me know and I can edit them out - I wanted to make sure someone said them given the posting limits, but if I've gone too far in the direction of "nobody else has anything to say", I can cut bits.

    2m to the Presence Excellency, so:

    (13d10)[9][6][2][10][7][3][4][4][6][8][3][10][9](81) Presence+Charisma+Negotiation specialty + 1 sux

    If this counts as without deception or exaggeration, (4d10)[2][8][8][1](19) from the Gem of Humble Glory. (There is one significant omission, in that she didn't tell him their actual orders from Lookshy, because she thinks of those as secret. But "we knew you were out here" just fosters a general impression of omniscience and she can't imagine that compromising security information.)

    App is 7, -2 to his MDV if changing opinions/beliefs.
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-06-06 at 05:21 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  22. - Top - End - #22
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "The Legion is moving to a war footing." Zhou says simply, lending support to his wife's identity and words through simple presence. "Inside of a year, we're expecting a full-scale invasion of Lookshy by the Mask of Winters, with everything he can bring to the field."

    It is a prospect that should mean a great deal to any citizen of the Scavenger Lands. Lookshy has long stood as the bulwark of the Confederation, the uncontested military super-power and source of the world's finest mercenaries. The capabilities of the Mask are less well known, but his legend is great and his reputation terrible. News that the two will clash in open battle is in itself the herald of a changing future.

    Zhou nods back at the village, or the ruin where once it stood. "Already, we see innocents massacred, patrols ambushed, Lookshyan vessels shot from the skies and the very land poisoned by necromancy. When faced with portents such as this, news of an unidentified army massing relatively nearby is... concerning."

    He looks Unbroken Willow in the eye, voice level and serious. "I would speak to your commander, if such a thing is possible. At the very least, we should relay messages - you can take what I have said to them and ask yourself, if you have orders against revealing your current purpose here. "
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

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  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Braga places a gentle hand on Versi's shoulder, glad for her armor and his dwindling anima, glad he can make such a gesture. He does not seek to restrain her (he hardly could if he tried) but to remind her. This is a time for humility, not pride. Even the Wolf paces silently and holds in his boasts in the sight of the gathered host of horsemen.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Willow

    "I'm glad you're saying these things."

    The mortal's words are careful as he says them with a smile. Calm as the sea before a storm.

    "My orders are to take you to my Commander. But I can't have so many Ana-so many Exalts with her at once. If yourself, Karal Zhou, and yourself, Karal Ireva, and the venerable Tepet Xet are willing, you'll be escorted to her. Myself and my men will wait here with the rest of your Irregulars."

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    Social Attack:(8d10)[10][5][10][8][7][10][7][5](62)

    Purpose: Get you to agree with his proposition.
    Quote Originally Posted by DeafnotDumb View Post
    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aevylmar View Post
    It turns out that sometimes? He *does* murder characters.

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  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "That seems reasonable." Zhou says evenly. "And we are reasonable people. And in that vein..."

    Quite calmly, he moves over to the nearby rock and picks up Aurora once more, buckling the inherited blade back into place at his waist. "I trust you will understand my entirely reasonable concern at the prospect of walking into the middle of a largely unknown army entirely unarmed." He says simply. "I will meet with your Commander, and you have my word that I will not attempt treachery, but I go with my blade or not at all."

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    And in an OoC note... please don't make a thing of this, industrious. I want this to turn out peacefully, I want to see who is in command of the army and what they want, but Zhou is simply not going to walk into the middle of hundreds or even thousands of potentially hostile soldiers unarmed. I honestly cannot see a way to make it happen that would work even remotely well with his previously developed characterisation.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

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  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "Venerable?" Xet says, sounding faintly affronted. (The affectation of pique does a good job of covering any surprise she might feel at being singled out.) "I suppose I'll accept that in the spirit in which it was meant; but in future, sir, recall that few ladies appreciate being complimented on their advanced age. I trust you'll do better next time."

    She nods, evidently taking the soldier's assent for granted, and walks forward to join Zhou and Ireva, "Well, then. Duty calls, and we'd best get it over with. Shall we?"

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    I think it's been long enough for Isa's anima to fade below the 8-10 level? She'll be donning her resplendent destiny again so the mortals don't forget her at an inconvenient/suspicious time.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Ireva listens quietly, and behind wide green eyes, riffles rapidly through evidence and hypotheses, slotting tentative conclusions and projections into place.

    Fact: He is being deliberately evasive.

    Thrice she has asked, and thrice been ignored. And his phrasings are too careful, too well-chosen to reassure without offering any solid truth to her senses, to be mere coincidence.

    Any officer of Lookshy's a welcome sight. I'm glad you're saying these things. But that could still be true if these troops are part of a trap laid for Zhou, and Willow's proclaimed gladness no more than relief that they seem to be taking the bait.

    What are the possibilities, and what would they imply?

    One. He is being evasive because he knows we won't like the answers. They're allied with Thorns, by contract or convenience. Catching an officer of Lookshy alone, without troops, is welcome. They will take us into the camp a few at a time, where we can be killed more easily, or separated from each other and taken to someone who can sway our thoughts, most likely a deathknight. The scout ran and set off the flare because he feared we might escape to carry word back to Lookshy of the Mask's plans; he needed to get reinforcements here before that could happen.

    Two. He is being evasive because he doesn't trust our answers. He fears that everything we've said is a trap, a lie, that his confirmation that they're not working with Thorns might be our cue to kill him or warp his mind. The scout ran because he thought we might have caused the shadowland, because the implications of trusting wrongly were more fearsome than the consequences of suspicion.

    Three. He's under orders not to reveal anything more than he has to, even if it would placate a possible ally. Maybe it's meant to pique our interest, to draw us in? The scout ran because secrecy was imperative, including - especially? - from Lookshy; he set off the flare in the hope that reinforcements would arrive before he could be questioned.

    Or something she hasn't considered. But one, two, three... what would the right choices be?

    One. This is a trap. But then you're already standing in it, and slaughtering a few extra mortals won't help Lookshy. And they didn't attack right away. His orders were to take us to his Commander. If they let you talk... any alliance can be broken, especially if one of the parties involved already wants out.

    So, agree. Walk into the trap, stay watchful, be ready to act. And since you will be on your guard anyway, stop pressing questions that reveal your suspicions.

    Two. Easiest case. All you need to do is convince them you're telling the truth. But Broken Willow isn't the man you need to convince.

    Again, agree. Smile, cooperate, accept and then defuse their fears.

    Three. They have a secret, and you think you know what it is. Anathema. But Lookshy knows that already, so is there another secret behind the first? Those discussions you had with Xet... could they have been correct? Is this all a false-flag operation, a political gambit?

    And once more, agree. They want to talk to you. They want something from you. You won't learn any of the deep secrets from Willow, or he wouldn't have been sent out here.

    Yet he apparently knows enough to make a decision. Zhou. Xet. Herself. Why those choices? Not the Dragon-Bloods, with Shimoko and Braga left behind, and accordingly not only those with or without communication magic. Not only the ones who'd been speaking, or Xet wouldn't have been invited.

    It might be a division of the group into halves, for easier elimination, if they're underestimating Shard. It might be the official representatives from the Dragon-Blooded powers, with your invitation coming as a courtesy to Zhou. Or... it might be everyone who knows about Sidereals and isn't a Lunar, if the Gold has a hand in this.

    Watch where you put your feet.

    But Xet has agreed, without hesitation, perhaps making the same calculation only more quickly, perhaps with the aid of additional information. Ireva glances over at the disguised Sidereal, one eyebrow arching just slightly, questioning; listening for the subtle notes of warning or irony in Isa's voice within Xet's Realm-educated tones. But there's nothing there that she can discern.

    "Sounds reasonable, subject to my husband's caveat," she says mildly, looking back at Unbroken Willow. "I presume you'll have your medics look over your scout while we're away, since Tepet Xet was caring for him? And I presume, likewise, that there will be no difficulty in having our colleagues work on our downed ship? Time is precious, and I doubt very much they'll leave without us." Her eyes flicker to catch Skandi and Braga's gaze at that last, and then pointedly toward Versino, and the perceptive would read You had better leave without us if necessary.

    Her gaze focuses on the mortal soldiers again, green gaze and eloquently arched eyebrow pinning Unbroken Willow for a long moment. Easy simple requests, gestures of good faith granted and requested; no reason to deny them.

    "So who will be escorting us," she asks after a moment, "if you'll be waiting here?"

    Spoiler
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    Didn't get an answer on SRI, so I guess I'll save the motes. I think Xet was still reading his mind, though?

    One more Presence+Charisma social attack, unassisted by Charms (but still App 7), compelling behavior, let the rest of the group work on the Frostwing if they wish while Ireva/Zhou/Xet are talking to the Commander.

    (10d10)[10][9][1][3][10][4][5][3][4][4](53) Presence+Charisma
    (3d10)[7][8][10](25) Negotiation
    (4d10)[1][8][9][6](24) Stone of Humble Glory
    (3d10)[3][10][5](18) possible stunt

    EDIT: 11 sux before stunt, I think.
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-06-17 at 01:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Willow

    "Very reasonable indeed," he nods at Zhou. "Though if I had any objections, I'm not exactly in a position to disagree, am I?"

    "...Is that what venerable means? I thought it meant wise, or some such thing. And I suppose you can work on the crash, seeing as I didn't have any specific orders. But we're still on blighted ground, and His Radiance* is going to be setting soon. I think it would be better for us to get back to the main group. I'm not staying in this place any longer than I have to, and you're welcome to join our fire. We ain't the whole group, but Old Hoof and Tail cooks a mean rabbit."

    Willow makes a strange, twisting gesture with his hand, and one of the men at his side nods, dismounting and holding a firework. He makes another, and another man begins to set up his own incendiary."

    "We'll send a signal to the rest of us, letting them know things are smooth, get the medic over. And with your Excellencies' permission, we'll get you three started heading for the main camp. Babbler will be leading you there."

    *a term used for the Unconquered Sun, often misused to indicate the Daystar.
    Quote Originally Posted by DeafnotDumb View Post
    Silly boy. I've played in Industrious's games. They don't murder characters. That means the torture ends.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aevylmar View Post
    It turns out that sometimes? He *does* murder characters.

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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    "Of course." Zhou says evenly, quietly pleased at the sight of some reason. Perhaps this isn't as dire as he fears. "Lead the way."

    He glances over and meets his wife's eyes, considerable meaning conveyed in the simple gesture. Be watchful. We may need your skills soon.

    Then he turns to the rest of the group. "Chozei Braga is in command until I get back. Get the ship fixed if possible, but don't take too many risks with the underworld so close." he says simply. That done, he turns and follows the guide up the slope.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Return of the Scarlet Empress III - The Lookshy War

    Ireva meets Zhou's gaze for a long moment, acknowledging the unspoken message. And then for a longer moment, just looking into her husband's eyes. They may be walking an unseen knife-edge, they may be walking into a trap - but selfish as it is she can't wish Zhou wasn't here, can't regret the surge of joy that still catches her by surprise.

    She manages to break eye contact before the second meaningful cough from the bystanders. Carefully not looking at Zhou, she nods to Willow, a faint smile lingering on her lips despite the topic. "That makes sense. The deathknights only retreated into the Underworld, we didn't manage to kill them. And we didn't find the villagers' bodies, which probably means -" She glances at Versino, and swallows her words. "... anyway, they may have forces nearby in the Underworld, so getting further away from the shadowland before night falls is probably wise." She inclines her head to the mortal soldier. "It was nice to meet you, Unbroken Willow. Until later, then." She looks over at Skandi, grins. "Enjoy your lazy evening eating rabbit, apparently. Save some for us?"

    With a quick wave to Braga, Versino and Shimoko, Ireva turns and hurries up the slope, taking long strides to catch up with the Fire Aspect.
    Last edited by Ifni; 2014-06-20 at 03:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    I must not argue on the Internet.
    Internet argument is the mind-killer.
    It is the little death that brings total aggravation.
    I will face my annoyance.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    When it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path.
    Where the irritation has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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