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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
    industrious's Avatar

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    Jul 2009
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    Mordor
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    Default RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    This is the OOC thread for Return of the Scarlet Empress. Any questions or comments or OOC discussion is to be held here.

    Campaign introduction:
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    “He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” - Cormac McCarthay

    The Realm is on the brink of civil war. The Regent is an ineffectual man incapable of doing more than furious self-gratification. The endless games of intrigue and chance that have been the bread and butter of the Great Houses have escalated as the prize turns from primus inter pares to the Scarlet Throne itself. The Anathema emerge in greater numbers than ever before, the Shadowlands grow larger every day, and the Fae have not been this bold since the Realm was crafted. And we stand idle while all this occurs, too secure and too split between multiple loyalties to band together and focus on what is important.

    This cannot stand. This cannot be how this Realm ends, clawing at its own throat while the wolves circle in. It is they who seek to bring our end. It is they who strike at the fabric of our morality. It is they who are responsible for this decay that we see all around us, and do nothing regardless.

    I have walked this land for far too long to let it slide into moral decay.

    Therefore, by the power vested in me by the Immaculate Dragons, by the purity of my faith, by righteousness of my cause, I, Castus Alcibiades, do hereby decree this new permanent Wyld Hunt- The Cleansing!
    - Speech by Castus Alcibiades, Prefect of the Immaculate Order, given before the Deliberative, RY 790

    A Realm on the brink of civil war.

    A demagogue attempting to unite it against a thinly scattered foe.

    And all the while, the Lady and the Lowest prepare for the end.

    industrious presents: The Return of the Scarlet Empress.

    Welcome to my rendition of the Return of the Scarlet Empress. This game will begin shortly before her return proper, and will end when Creation is irrevocably changed in one way or another.

    We will begin with a renewed Wyld Hunt, the last ditch effort of a demagogue to keep the Realm from falling into Civil War. Players who wish to play Terrestrials must begin as members of said Hunt; Sidereals are free to choose between Gold and Bronze factions, at least initially; those that decide to begin Bronze will join the Hunt under assumed destinies. For obvious reasons, other Celestial Exalts cannot be members of the Wyld Hunt.


    List of (Some) Important NPCs (with some relevant information):
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    • Grass Lightning - mortal widow of the commander of the Fort Waypoint. Has a bad leg. Doesn't like Anathema. Or Exalts in general. Survivor of Thorns. Motivation: Live a normal life in defiance of the designs of deathknights.
    • Mnemon-Caras Pell - Earth Aspected Terrestrial, sorcerous prodigy and Heptagram graduate. Part of the Cleansing, and apparently, a fanatic. Knows Flying Guillotine. Motivation: Currently Unknown
    • Sesus Meru - Fire Aspected Terrestrial, "good with camp work." Part of the Cleansing and a fanatic. Killed in action. Motivation: Kill the Anathema.
    • Matsui - Water Aspected Terrestrial, Master of the Even Blade Style, and mother figure to Rose. Very protective of Rose. Apparently once a Dynast, but "was an embarrassment." Currently with Rose...somewhere.Motivation: Currently unknown.
    • Unknown Necromancer
    • Shattered Mirror - Abyssal Exalt. Necrotechnology master. Sorcerer. Kind-hearted. Assigned to a death squad against Penumbra. Motivation: Currently Unknown
    • Emerald Stormwrack - According to Child, a "hanger-on" of a Sidereal. Has a unique writing style. Gold Faction, and he hates Kejak. Motivation: Unknown
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    • Symphony of Chimes - Penumbra's Lunar mate. Arrogant, ruthless manipulator. Penumbra took his Manse. Spirit form of a badger. Really likes blackmail. Motivation: Unknown
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    • Forsaken Starfall - Chosen of Serenity and colleague/friendly rival of Child. Gold Faction, and apparently a member of the Cult of the Illuminated. Very, very attractive, and knows it. Interested in Skandi. Motivation: Unknown
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    • Burning Waters - A Nocturnal. Apparently wants to obstruct trade in Nexus. More clever than he appears. In love with Isa, and has...odd opinions regarding Sidereals. Motivation: Unknown. Something to do with the poor.
      Spoiler
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      As Skandi encountered him.
    • Primal Elegance - a Fiend and playwright master of a troupe of players. Ridiculously attractive as well, very clever, and performed a merry jig on Aya's mind. Motivation: To rule over Nexus, and to shatter the Scavenger Lands forever.
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      Dead
    • Cathak Nalis - Immaculate Master of Air. Really, really nice and friendly. Honestly believes he's helping the world, and is humble about it as well.
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    • Black Ice Shadow - Chosen of Endings. Ghost-Blooded. Looks like a deathknight.



    On Languages:
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    For the record, High/Low Realm are Japonic, Old Realm is Sino-Tibetan, Seatongue is Austronesian, Foresttongue is Uto-Aztecan, Riverspeak is Iroquoian, Firetongue is Afroasiatic(vaguely arabic-sounding), and Airtongue is Eskimo-Aleut. Proto-Indo-European was spoken as an obscure dialect of an obscure historical barbarian tribe on the Blessed Isle that died out either during or shortly after the Primordial War.

    The answer to "English, do you speak it?" is a resounding "no."


    Industrious's Revised Astrology Ruleset:
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    1. Prayer Roll - Unchanged, at difficulty 6. However, Sidereals may, with in-character justification, add their Backing or Connections backgrounds to all rolls while in Yu-Shan. They also receive an automatic success for rolling while in Yu-Shan, and an additional success if in the Loom of Fate itself. Succeeding on a petition reduces the difficulty of the prayer roll by (succcesses - difficulty), with a difficulty of 2 for 15 minutes, and 4 for a misc. action. Cosignatories add extra dice as per usual. If this would reduce the difficulty below zero...great!
    2. Effect Roll - Hey. Ignore this. You get effect points equal to (Essence + College Rating + Craft[Fate]/2 + surplus successes on Prayer Roll).
    3. Paradox - Double all Paradox dice rolled. Sorry. However, any amount of Paradox can be vented after creating a destiny (hereby referred to as "the original"). Doing so provides the GM with effect points x2 to create one or more other destinies, either opposing or tangentially related to the original (the new destinies must be in the same grouping, if not college as the original). For example: Emerald Stormwrack wants to make Nexus's fashion change so that skimpy attire is more acceptable, the better to engage his senses (put politely). Creating the destiny via The Lovers, he decides to vent all his Paradox(9); doing so creates other unintended destinies; while people now feel more confident striding around in their undergarments, a fad of "nude poetry readings" also emerged (under the Musician), those engaged in romance felt an even stronger taboo towards physical consummation before marriage (The Ewer), and lawmakers decided to pass a law that would ensure people were not alone in bars and taverns (Ewer again). (please note, this did not happen in game).
    4. Pattern Bite: Ignore it. However, reaching Paradox 10 has it's own problems; at that level, the GM creates a nemesis of some kind. Someone(s) dedicated to removing either the destiny, the area affected, or the individual who placed it. This can range from a small Fair Folk incursion in the area to a Celestial Exaltation of someone who will oppose that destiny (note: Laying Destinies such that you Pattern Bite someone into fulfilling your real goals can occur. But you might end up with a party of Fair Folk in the area instead).


    The_Snark's excellent summary of what Nocturnals are:
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Snark View Post
    Nocturnals are a type of homebrew Exalt. They are non-canon and will remain so, but the creators based the idea off of hints and plot hooks scattered through the books, so they fit reasonably well into standard Creation.

    For instance: the Sidereals book presents the possibility that the Maidens had a brother, Nox, god of Night, who tried to betray the rebel Incarnae to the titans and was killed... supposedly. According to this story, Nox lives on as the lobotomized consciousness inside the Loom of Fate, and is in fact the guiding force behind the mysterious Oversight Committee.

    (This is not necessarily canon; it's presented as one of several explanations for Oversight. But it's an option.)

    And: if you look at the Alchemical castes, four of them clearly mirror other types of Exalted made during the Primordial War (Solar/Orichalcum, Lunar/Moonsilver and so on). The existence of Soulsteel and Adamant Alchemicals raises an interesting question: did Autochthon intend to create more types of Exalted, which would resonate with those magical materials? Why didn't he? Or if he did, what happened?

    The Nocturnal project answers that question as follows: the Nocturnal Exalted were the Chosen of Nox, Incarnae of Night. Nox betrayed his siblings (or was betrayed?) before the war began, and his Exaltations were banished or locked away or... something. Now they're coming back, for reasons unknown. They're intended to be foils for Sidereals; in some ways they're similar, but where Sidereals are charged with maintaining the Loom of Fate, Nocturnals are wild cards. Their powers are themed around chance, paradox, obfuscation and the unexpected (as opposed to destiny, foresight and order).

    You can find more information here (I think that's the latest version).


    Some notes:

    • Stunting: Roll Three Sunt Dice after every post roll. I will tell you it's value in my next post. Stunts less than three will have dice chosen left to right.
    • Experience: Handed out when I see fit. Or when reminded.
    • If you have to leave for something or other, I'd appreciate advance notice, so that other players aren't left hanging.
    • Tone: The campaign isn't supposed to be silly, but it need not be grimdark, either. It's supposed to be epic, and even epics have moments of lightheartedness and comic relief. Sometimes, everyone needs a breather.


    List of the Mask's Deathknights:
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    The Black Hand Resting Upon the Throat of the World (nominal leader) - Daybreak Caste. Favors essence cannon. Wears Celestial Battle Armor.

    Circlemates:
    The Maiden of the Mirthless Smile - Dusk Caste. Favors Grimscythe. Appears to be a girl.

    The Lady of Darkness in Bloodstained Robes - Nadir Caste. Martial Artist. Wears revealing clothing.

    Typhon, Wink of the Storm's Eye - Day Caste. Twinned short daiklaves. Ambassador.

    The Sorrowful Calligrapher - Moonshadow Caste. Grand Goremaul. Robed and Masked.

    Broken Knife Forged of Bitter Metal - Day Caste. Assassin. Bow and Arrow. Stealthy.

    The Seven-Degreed Physician of Black Maladies - Daybreak Caste. Necrotechnican. Necrosurgeon. Little combat ability.

    Soured Obsidian Void - Moonshadow Caste. Necromancer. Has a Ghostly legion.


    Previous OOC thread
    Last edited by industrious; 2015-09-15 at 01:13 PM.
    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

    Campaigns:
    Gotham: Year One
    Earth-52(abandoned) OOC
    RotSE II III] OOC2

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Repost of Ireva's character sheet (this will now be the version with updates):

    Character sheet:
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    Name: Kharal-Tepet Ireva, aka Eris Stormcrow, aka Untimely Orchid
    Exalt Type and Caste: Eclipse Caste Solar
    Anima: A great white-gold tree in the midst of a storm of wind and lightning. (More details in spoiler.)
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    When Ireva's anima burns totemic, she seems to stand before a massive ash-tree, its branches spreading wide above her, and its great roots reaching down into the earth. Its bark is white but brushed with gold. The tree's branches have no real end, vanishing into hair-thin twigs that trail golden Essence at their distant extremities, still reaching outward and upward. Unlike normal ash trees, this one has long clusters of filmy golden flowers hanging from its branches.

    The branches shake furiously, as if tossed by a mighty storm, and bolts of lightning fork constantly out of her anima to strike the tree, lighting it with the searing white radiance of the sun's corona.

    Motivation: Reconcile the Dragon-Blooded with the Celestial Exalted.

    Appearance:
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    (Left to right: traveling clothes, dressed up for the play, sneaking through the streets of Nexus, visiting Yu-Shan / being obvious, her wedding day)

    Old links:
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    (Left to right: Nexus information-broker, freelance manse hunter, dressed up for Elegance's play, sneaking through the streets of Nexus, fighting akuma in a ballgown and Limit Break, visiting Yu-Shan)


    Nine years after Thorns, the woman who was once called Tepet Ireva and now goes by Untimely Orchid is still barely five feet tall - no prosperity will ever make up for that early malnutrition - but once-pallid skin is now a healthy suntanned brown. The old scars are still visible, but they've faded. She's filled out, and now is trim and fit, wiry muscle cording her arms from long hours of sword-practice. Her long hair is a dark green, nearly black; she often rinses it with a wash to bring out the green highlights. She sometimes wears it loose or partially so in the city, but in the field she always braids it up to be out of the way, and present nothing for an opponent to grab onto. She often weaves colored (usually green) silk cords through her hair. She is pretty rather than beautiful, with a youthful-looking heart-shaped face. Despite her diminutive size she possesses a commanding presence, and her smile can light up a room. Her voice is low and pleasant.

    She wears a wide range of outfits when in the city, although she prefers silk dresses or kimonos with patterns of flowers or vines. Outside the city, she usually wears a green coat with small flowers embroidered around the hem and cuffs, over dark trousers and her breastplate. She carries her bow and a quiver of arrows slung over her back, and a shortsword and knife at her belt. The bow is usually the finest weapon she has in plain view, and taken together with Wood Aspects' reputation, people tend to assume she's an archer unless they're very observant; this is a deliberate misdirection.

    More inspiration for the sisters:
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    Relevant tropes:
    Guile Hero
    Silk Hiding Steel
    Small Girl Big Gun Daiklave
    Survivor Guilt
    (Sort of. There are a lot of people she knew and liked in Thorns who probably died horribly, in part because of her actions, and to no good end. She usually manages to successfully bury that knowledge by focusing on practical action, and sometimes manages not to think about the people she left behind for months at a time - but the current day has been triggering traumatic memories left right and center, and she's just been presented with someone to blame. Related to this, may be developing a case of...)
    Rage Against The Heavens

    Music: Arwen's Vigil (YouTube link)
    May It Be (YouTube link)
    I don't know why both tunes I like for Ireva are Arwen songs, since the character similarities are extremely slight, but eh, they're nice songs!

    Background:
    See this post and this post.

    Attributes
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    Primary (Social): 8
    Secondary (Physical): 6
    Tertiary (Mental): 4

    Physical:
    Strength ●●●
    Dexterity ●●●●●
    Stamina ●●

    Social:
    Charisma ●●●●●
    Manipulation ●●●●
    Appearance ●●● (+●●●● if Infinite Resplendence Amulet is active at obvious level)

    Mental
    Perception ●●
    Intelligence ●●●
    Wits ●●

    Abilities (Specializations +)
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    [Note: Place [C]aste and [F]avoured tags, for clarity.]
    Total without BP/XP: 28/28
    (If using Dawn Solution rules, 4 free specialty dots, and Abilities can be raised to 5 without BP)

    Archery
    Martial Arts
    [F] Melee ●●●●● (+●●● Sword-Master)
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    This is just a Swords specialty, to be clear.
    Thrown
    War

    [F] Integrity ●
    Performance
    [F] Presence ●●●●● (+●●● Negotiation)
    [F] Resistance ●●●●● (+●● Adrenaline Fueled), +1 sux to reduce or avoid the effects of deleterious environmental conditions, toxins or disease
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    This is intended to be basically the "in combat" specialty from the corebook, just a little more evocative. It should never apply in social situations unless, say, it's a roll to stay awake and keep going in very high-stakes negotiations. It should not apply in combats where she doesn't feel that there's any danger, or when it's devolved into a long war of attrition and the adrenaline is wearing off. But for general purposes, "in combat" should be the dividing line.
    Survival +1 sux to reduce or avoid the effects of deleterious environmental conditions, toxins or disease

    Craft
    [F] Investigation ●●●●
    Lore ●
    Medicine
    Occult

    Athletics
    Awareness
    Dodge
    Larceny
    Stealth

    [C] Bureaucracy ●●●
    [C] Linguistics ●●●●● +1 from Exceptional Writing Kit (High Realm, Old Realm, Riverspeak, Flametongue, Seatongue)
    [C] Ride ●
    [C] Sail ●
    [C] Socialize ●●●

    Backgrounds, Artifacts and Equipment:
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    Backgrounds:
    Ally ● (Tepet Firada, the White Rose of Thorns)
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    Old link:
    Tepet Firada, Ireva's older sister, is a Wood Aspect and a monk of the Immaculate Order. She joined the Order nearly a decade ago, has been initiated into Celestial Martial Arts, and studies the Wood Dragon style. While still very young for a Terrestrial and junior in the Order, her devotion to the cause - and the fact that she won victories against Anathema in Thorns, and even killed one single-handedly - has drawn the attention of her superiors.

    Firada is slightly taller than average, strong and tough and whipcord lean; from when she was nine until she was twenty-five, her life and her sister's life depended on her skills with blade and bow and fists.

    She was once known as the White Rose of Thorns, and her anima is a dense briar-tangle of vicious black thorns and many-petalled white roses. She is competent with swords and in unarmed combat, but prefers to take down her foes from powerbow range where possible, ideally without being seen.

    Firada is devoted to her parents and siblings, but neither her friends nor her kin really understand, especially as she can't tell them the truth about Ireva. She and her sister were inseparable for sixteen years, and her absence still leaves a gap. She and her sister keep in touch secretly using the Wind-Carried Words Technique; she asked to be assigned to the East, and she tries to warn Iri when a Wyld Hunt might be near her location. Not that it's been a major threat, for most of the last nine years, but now...

    Her feelings toward the Lunar and (especially) Solar Anathema are ambiguous; she hasn't completely rejected Immaculate teachings regarding them, only carving out an exception for Ireva, but there's doubt in her heart. Toward Abyssals, on the other hand, her approach is unambiguous and lethal; she'll take joy in any defeat she can hand them. And perhaps, one day, Thorns...

    Artifact ●●●● (Starmetal and Orichalcum Infinite Resplendence Amulet)
    Artifact ●●● (Jade Orichalcum Grand Daiklave)
    Artifact ● (Fivefold Harmonic Adapter)
    Artifact ● (Orichalcum Breastplate)
    Resources ●●
    Contacts ●●●
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    Major contacts (to be detailed further):
    (1) Anaxos Ro, a senior Guildsman who used to trade into Thorns, but focused his efforts elsewhere after his role in aiding the escape of the killers of Forger of Forgotten Nightmares. He is in his late middle age, and now spends most of his time in Nexus.

    Old link:
    (2) Swift-Fire-Over-Water, a baiji who governs a stretch of water along the coast north of Thorns. Swift has a sanctum in that area, which he keeps very quiet; he is quite unhappy about Thorns as a result. He is one of the more politically powerful and well-connected of the dolphin-gods. He's been around since the First Age, and he is not fond of the Immaculate Order, but his attitude toward the returning Solars is somewhat less clear.
    (3) Three Drops, an ice-weasel-totem No Moon mystic. Originally from the far north, she had a falling out with the Bull of the North's circle, and left in a hurry. She is at least a Terrestrial Circle sorceress. Getting straight answers out of her tends to be a difficult endeavor.

    Old link:

    Manse ●● (Jewel of the Lawgiver's Authority)
    Manse ● (Stone of Humble Glory)
    Manse ●● (Mind-Cleansing Gem)

    Artifacts and Equipment:
    Resolve (Orichalcum Grand Daiklave)
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    This massive blade is a perfect replica of Remembrance, only cast in orichalcum instead of jade. It was crafted by an artisan of House Tepet at the request of the White Rose of Thorns, and bestowed on Tepet Ireva by her elder sister.

    Where Remembrance contains a dragon of shadow, Resolve bears one of light; the etchings and angles of the sword cast patterns of gold across the blade that coalesce into an evanescent stylized dragon-shape when the sword is in motion. As with Remembrance, the dragon's tail coils around the hilt, merging into a spray of flowers and thorns; when Ireva attunes Resolve, most of the blossoms shine a lambent golden, except for the roses, which burn with a clear white radiance. The thorns are dark old gold, and tipped with a coruscant gleam of blood-red fire.


    Remembrance (Jade Grand Daiklave)
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    Ireva has now returned Remembrance to her sister's keeping. The sword's description, for reference, is provided below.

    ------------------------

    This massive blade was the property of a Fire-Aspected hero of Thorns, who died several centuries ago. Her ghost lingered, to watch over the city she'd protected. When a child of Thorns Exalted in the aftermath of the Mask's invasion, she contacted the Resistance; after bestowing her panoply on Tepet Firada, she passed into Lethe. When Firada and Ireva parted outside Thorns, the White Rose of Thorns gave Remembrance to her sister, telling her that she needed it more.

    The great jade sword has lain in shadow for a long time, and taken on some of its aspect. Its blade shades from a dark lustrous green, through violet-hued evening-sky blue, into a deep wine-red along the cutting edges. The different colors of the jade ripple together, in swirling patterns reminiscent of waves and flames and smoke on the wind. Black jade twines through the patterns, depicting a stylized Elemental Dragon. Where the tail coils around the hilt there is a hand-guard, wrought as an intricate spray of flowers and twisting thorns in all the dark colors of the blade. Set among the flowers, one in the hilt and two at the base of the blade, are three gleaming circles of translucent clouded white.

    Also hidden among the flowers of the hand-guard, lying flat to the jade and covered with a cap of thinly hammered steel shaped like a leaf, is the orichalcum adapter that Eris uses to easily attune the blade.


    The Forger's Lab Coat Of Infinite Pockets (Orichalcum and Starmetal Infinite Resplendence Amulet)
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    This smooth teardrop of orichalcum, suspended within a cage of fragile starmetal strands, was one of the most highly prized possessions of the Daybreak called the Forger of Forgotten Nightmares. Not so much for its properties, but for the story behind it.

    Forger was a superlative crafter, but preferred to pursue his own research rather than attempt to satisfy the incessant - and insatiable - clamoring for artifacts from his so-called circle. He was not pleased when the political maneuvering of the Midnight called Darkness At Noon led to a direct order from the Mask that he supply her with the amulet she wanted, constructed of - of all things - orichalcum. Darkness was planning to pose as a Solar in order to try to lure in some new recruits, and wanted an artifact to help her manifest the appropriate golden glory. That was her story, anyway; Forger suspected something more going on. But the order had come directly from his liege, and so after several horrifyingly uncomfortable months spent in the burning sunlight of Creation away from his laboratory and creations, he delivered the requested artifact.

    On returning to Thorns, it became apparent that certain of his fellow deathknights had taken Darkness' success as a demonstration of what was possible with sufficient persistence. If Forger wanted to be left alone, he was going to have to demonstrate the consequences of bullying him with extreme prejudice - but of course, while preserving deniability.

    It took a non-negligible commitment of time and resources, although Typhon's assistance greatly accelerated matters. Such a shame, that Darkness' Lunar mate had been in the area; who would have guessed it? At least Typhon's operatives had managed to retrieve her panoply.

    Forger claimed the amulet, mostly for the effect on his fellows; the torrent of requests for artifacts dried up remarkably after that. He didn't anticipate requiring the glorious Solar aura often, although it sometimes had amusing effects when dealing with prisoners, but a self-cleaning lab coat was convenient. A self-cleaning lab coat with an abundance of Elsewhere-pockets proved even more convenient, once he caged the orichalcum teardrop in a little of the starmetal salvaged from the dead gods of Thorns.

    When the young Eclipse Eris killed Forger with her sister's jade daiklave, his body faded into nothingness, but his Lab Coat remained. As the one item in his panoply that didn't shriek with the pain of tormented souls, she took it with her when she fled. She got a nasty shock the first time she looked inside the pockets, though. The small lump of raw moonsilver, she used to pay for their passage out of the city; the fivefold resonant adapter was a pleasant surprise (well, the orichalcum original; the soulsteel copies were a bit more distressing, even if they did have notes pasted to them saying things like "Fails to attune properly; try more blood?" and "Works but leads to uncontrollable anima eruptions every ten minutes; bad for stealth"). The extensive set of tools, on the other hand...

    She wasn't sure if they were for surgery or crafting, or even if Forger had seen a difference. It was hard not to vomit, when she first saw them, and matched them to what she'd seen in the lab. She kept them in the Lab Coat, not wanting them to fall into the hands of someone who might use them as intended; they came in handy several years later when she had to re-equip a workshop manse.

    Below is the somewhat shorter and lighter version of this story:
    Spoiler
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    you see, once there was a Daybreak researcher
    he only wanted to be left alone to play in his lab and build hideous necrotech abominations
    is that so wrong?
    but his circle-mates harassed him constantly with demands for shiny artifacts
    well, evil doomful artifacts, but you get the point
    he said No in a hundred different ways, but eventually the Midnight went over his head and got the Deathlord to order him to make her the artifact she wanted
    to boost her Appearance. ("It'll facilitate me posing as a Solar!" she said. "It's critical to my mission!" she said.)
    So, with much grumbling, he said yes, and THEN he found out the damn thing had to be made out of orichalcum.
    Several months in the burning, horrible sunlight later, away from his nice dark lab, he was a very unhappy Daybreak. But he gave the Midnight her amulet.
    And then everyone else went, "Ooh, so we just have to be persistent enough and we can get artifacts? Sweet!"
    The Daybreak realized that he needed to squash this line of thought fast.
    So he teamed up with the Day caste to arrange for the Midnight to get ambushed and killed by her Lunar mate, who she'd had run-ins with before.
    and the Day's agents brought back the amulet, and the Daybreak wore it around "in memory of our poor lost sister", and people stopped asking him for artifacts.
    I mean, not that he needed appearance, but a self-cleaning lab coat was handy
    and then he figured out that if he added starmetal to it he could make it a self-cleaning lab coat of infinite pockets!
    Yay!
    And it was a happy ending.
    Until a stupid Eclipse stabbed him through the chest with a giant hunk of jade just because he was casting mind-control sorcery on her Dragon-Blooded sister.
    Solars are jerks.


    Glamor of the Dance (Orichalcum Breastplate)
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    This orichalcum breastplate has a distinctly late-First-Age quality, all smooth elegant curves, designed for aesthetics as much as function and considerably lighter and more minimalist than earlier examples of its type. It was used as ceremonial armor by one of the construct-guardians and performers of the Puppeteer's Toybox, a wooden maiden designed for perfection in the dance of swords. She was destroyed in the Usurpation, taken by surprise by fire that cared nothing for the deadly beauty of her dance. Her armor lay undisturbed in its cabinet for more than a millennium.


    The Forger's Enigma (Orichalcum Fivefold Harmonic Adapter)
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    This small, slightly irregular disk of orichalcum set in adamant has a slightly scuffed look, as if it's been subjected to considerable stresses. Delicate spidery runes are engraved on its surface.

    A relic of the First Age that's been bouncing around the world for fifteen hundred years - mostly as a curiosity, given the absence of the Solars - it ended up in the collection of a scholar and thaumaturgist of Thorns, who died when the city was invaded. Some years later, the Forger of Forgotten Nightmares came across it when trawling through the treasury, and was inspired to create soulsteel versions using it as a model. It took a little experimentation, but he eventually succeeded.

    He kept the orichalcum original as a souvenir, as well as some of the early failed copies. They were in the pockets of his lab-coat when he died at Eris' hands.


    Manse: The Puppeteer's Toybox
    Stone: Jewel of the Lawgiver's Authority ●● (socketed in Resolve) [Oadenol's Codex]. Subtracts 2 from the difficulty of all attempts to sway others' opinions or beliefs (minimum 1). Applies to both speech and writing.
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    Creation Points: [(Value of Manse x2)+bonus from Manse Flaws]
    Flaws: Maintenance ●● (requires day-long simple maintenance once a month, usually performed by the Bound Servitor)

    Powers:
    Network Node ●
    Bound Servitor ●● ("Puppet", a magitech construct)
    Workshop Manse (Magitech) ●●●

    This Solar-aspected manse is located in the rocky hills near the headwaters of the Avarice River, carved into the crest of a high ridge where it catches the sun for almost the entire day. That made it ideal for forging and working orichalcum, and for various other tasks where light was the preferred tool; the manse once boasted a massive array of lenses and mirrors, to focus light and divide it into pure colors, to amplify it to a cutting beam or trap and confine it. The ridge itself is mostly granite, but the interior of the manse was faced with white marble and golden wood, brought up from the lowlands.

    It was designed as a workshop, not a palace, and so its amenities were always rather basic, by the standards of its time - the rooms for crafters and staff were relatively simple, utilitarian even, albeit comfortable.

    Other, more powerful manses were geared for mass production, or the creation of the greatest wonders. The Toybox was on a much smaller scale, the personal workshop of a single Celestial, where she enjoyed the luxury of side-projects and experimentation for its own sake, with no need to justify herself to colleagues. In particular, she enjoyed building constructs, for ornamentation and mock-battle and theater, and as assistants. She considered herself an artist, and each of her Puppets were custom-designed, unique, and built by her own hands.

    In the aftermath of the Usurpation, the Toybox was attacked - the mirrors broken, and the Exalt's collection of unique tools and machinery removed. The Puppets were destroyed (if they fought) or taken away for study, with the one exception being the caretaker-construct who maintained the place. As it did not attack the invaders when left alone, and in fact seemed to do very little except berate them for creating a mess, they decided to leave it to its duties guarding a stripped and broken manse, rather than deal with an uncapped and potentially unpredictable demesne.

    So things remained, for roughly fifteen hundred years. An open, sunny forest of golden poplars grew up around the manse. The guardian-construct continued to do its duty faithfully, whispering to itself the stories of its lost kinsfolk, and its mother-creator, and a better brighter time. In the end it forgot its name, and knew itself only as Puppet - the last and lonely Puppet.

    And little changed, until Eris came seeking the next node in the network, and with the assistance of two Lunars repaired the manse enough to be usable - at least, with the additional provision of a complete set of First-Age-quality tools (albeit with some unfortunate aesthetics). The light of a Solar anima woke old memories in the Puppet, of a time when it had family, and it became incredibly eager to help. With Eris' departure, it has grown quiet again, although it will speak to Three Drops, and she is gentle to it in its madness.


    Manse: The Waystone
    Stone: Stone of Humble Glory ● (socketed in Resolve) [Oadenol's Codex p89]. +4 (average of Conviction and Temperance, round up) to any social roll where the character tells the truth without exaggeration or deliberate deception.
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    Creation Points: 2 [(Value of Manse x2)+bonus from Manse Flaws]
    Powers:
    Network Node
    Magical Conveniences

    In a forest in the Hundred Kingdoms there is a smooth green hill crowned with a circle of stones, and in the hill is a hidden doorway, and beyond the doorway is a place that was once a shelter and waypost for travelers. Within is a winding corridor, from which open snug sleeping rooms, lit with Essence lamps that glow with a soft golden light in response to movement. In the central chamber, where lavish rugs and large cushions are scattered across the floor, ancient stories play out in pictures across a slab of translucent crystal set in the wall. A small adjoining kitchen was once well-stocked with First Age cooking and food-storage appliances.

    Digging the manse out from under various mud-slides and fallen trees consumed most of the time spent in excavation; once they actually got inside, the experienced scavengers on the crew told Eris it was the friendliest manse they'd ever encountered. They took back a large cache of pristine First-Age wonders - Essence-powered ice-chests, self-heating cooking pots, hand-lamps that react to movement, clocks still keeping perfect time after millennia, and so forth. However, even stripped of its artifacts, the Waystone is still as well-appointed as any inn in the Second Age, and it exudes a welcoming calm.


    Manse: Shrine of the Sea's Song
    Stone: Mind-Cleansing Gem ●● (socketed in Resolve) [Oadenol's Codex p96]. +1 to Dodge and Parry MDVs, can break UMI on a touch.
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    Creation Points: 6 [(Value of Manse x2)+bonus from Manse Flaws]
    Flaws: Habitability ●● (this manse is not designed with habitation in mind, although you could camp in it)

    Powers:
    Analytical Senses ●●
    Sympathetic Dream Link ●●
    Password Activations ● (harmonizing with the sea-song, see below)
    Network Node

    There is a stretch of coast, some way north of Thorns, where even smugglers steer clear of the rocky shore. The reefs and rocks are treacherous in the extreme, interacting with the currents to produce a morass of foaming, swirling water, and the few meagre inlets offer little shelter from storms or watchers. On the land side, there are a few salt-tolerant plants clinging to the tops of the cliffs, and then unpromising scrubland.

    The unpromising aspect of the coast is not entirely accidental. The baiji Swift-Fire-Over-Water keeps his sanctum here, and prefers that fact to remain unknown. He also watches over an ancient manse. Should the manse ever fail, Swift is prepared to move in and add the demesne to his holdings, but he refrains from destroying it himself out of a residual respect for the Exalt who built it (with whom he had a complicated but not hostile relationship). He's also become rather fond of the old place, over the years.

    The Shrine of the Sea's Song is a cave system shaped like a spiraling shell, buried beneath the cliffs. Access from air or land is impossible for anything larger than a mouse, and would involve traversing a maze of narrow cracks through the rock. The easiest access is by swimming in; the shell's mouth comes down to sea level and opens onto the water, and it is possible to swim into that cave from the sea, if you know the way through the underwater tunnels. (Swift, of course, has had the route memorized for a couple of thousand years.) Attunement to the manse automatically grants knowledge of the route.

    The beach where the mouth of the shell opens is of soft golden sand, carpeted with seashells of all shapes and sizes. Lifting one of the seashells to one's ear reveals a soft, ever-changing song, which gives the manse its name. Entering the manse itself, this song fills the air, almost imperceptibly at first and growing louder as one moves toward the center.

    The walls of the manse resemble the inside of a seashell, fluted and pearly and opalescent; there is no interior lighting, the designer having apparently assumed that anyone visiting would bring their own lights. The light of a Celestial anima refracts brilliantly from the walls, sending rainbows scattering everywhere; at certain points in the manse, this refraction also reveals images or words worked deep into the nacreous walls, and invisible in normal light.

    While the general layout is a spiral, the manse has many branches and passageways, with no obvious regular pattern. Deep channels of salt water run down every corridor; some rooms have additional pools, positioned to enhance the echoes of the sea-song as it reverberates off the surface.

    The hearthroom is large, and alone of all chambers in the manse shines with its own faint pearly light. Here the deep channel runs into a series of natural-looking rock-pools that fill the back half of the room, while the front half is the same golden sand as the rest of the floor. The hearthstone forms randomly in one of the rock-pools; finding it can be a slightly time-consuming process, but one that the creator of the manse treasured, as a reminder of their childhood playing along the shore.

    Anyone entering the Shrine may attempt to harmonize with the music of the sea-song, requiring a Performance+Charisma roll. For the hearthstone bearer, this roll is difficulty 1, and only needs to be made once in the bearer's life unless their attunement to the manse is broken (failures can be retried using the normal rules; a botch requires a day's wait before trying again). For anyone else, the roll is difficulty 3, and must be made anew each time they wish to communicate with the manse; a botch requires a week's wait before trying again.

    Once harmony is achieved, the sea-song provides a status report on the manse itself, other nodes in the network and any information the manse has stored regarding visitors. The Shrine automatically registers the echoes of the sea-song from any being or object entering the manse, and analyzes them to produce an Essence-signature. An Exalt harmonized to the sea-song can induce the manse to examine specific beings or objects.

    The hearthstone bearer hears the song of the Shrine, quietly, even when he or she is far away. In sleep the music is clearest, and the hearthstone bearer can receive the same information she would from harmonizing with the song.

    In the First Age, this demesne remained uncapped far longer than most, due to a pair of baiji that built their sanctums on it, and used all their considerable charm and influence to keep it as it was. They were assisted in this by a Celestial Exalt who was charmed by the song that issued from every sea-shell found in the demesne. Eventually, she persuaded the baiji to agree to her capping the demesne, but with a very particular purpose: to focus and enhance the sea-song. Since the manse's primary purpose was as an instrument of music, it is nearly uninhabitable and has few useful powers; its location is inconvenient and a fairly well-connected baiji (one of the original pair) still considers it his territory. For all these reasons, neither the Sidereals nor the Dragon-Blooded considered it worth the trouble in the aftermath of the Usurpation, and by now it has passed out of all mortal records.


    Resources: ●●
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    Eris maintains a comfortable apartment in the Cinnabar district of Nexus. Her favorite feature of the place is the wide balcony, twined with vines that sprout lavish red flowers.

    She lives simply; no drugs, no hard alcohol. Losing control would be too dangerous. Everyday clothing and party outfits are handled equally well by her amulet, and she keeps a week's worth of traveling supplies in the space accessed by the pockets, as well as hair dye and cosmetics, and her daiklave. If she needs to depart in a hurry, she won't leave anything important behind.

    She has a modest income from investments, from working as a scribe and translator and message-transmitter, and sometimes from her business as an information broker; she prefers to barter in kind, there, but sometimes people have nothing to offer but coin.

    -Exceptional writing kit (+1 to Linguistics rolls)
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    Eris' writing kit contains a fine inkstone, several high-quality ink-sticks of different colors, quill pens and replacement nibs, a full set of fine calligraphy brushes, a folding lap-desk, and a small book of haiku for inspiration.
    -Fine self bow (Str ●●●, +1 Accuracy, typically slung over her back)
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    This finely constructed bow is made from a springy, naturally curved length of dark-stained yew wood.
    -Quivers of all four standard arrow types
    -The Golden Rose (good luck charm, found)
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    This carved wooden rose was clearly broken off a larger structure, and the once-bright yellow paint is peeling and discolored. The baiji Swift-Fire-Over-Water gave it to Eris; it was once part of the figurehead of a ship, which survived a terrible storm in which the rest of the trade-fleet perished. The ship in question ended up stuck on a reef, but she was hung up in such a way that she did not sink or founder; most of her crew survived, and even some of the trade-goods were successfully removed and taken to land.
    -Collection of lucky rocks (Oadenol's Codex; always end up back in her possession within a few hours of being dropped or thrown)
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    Since becoming aware of the curious properties of these Wyld-tainted stones, Eris has been collecting them. She's sure she'll find some use for them in the future. At present, she sometimes uses them as a gimmick for customers; she gives someone a rock while they think over an offer, or drops the rocks in a basket outside her apartment when she leaves for the day. People wishing to talk with her can tie or paste a message to the stone and be sure she'll receive it within a few hours.
    -Premade paper prayers, mostly for healing and good fortune
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    She's not generally one for bothering the gods, but you never know when you'll need them...
    -Knife (typically worn at her belt)
    -Short sword (typically worn at her belt)
    -Walking stick / staff (typically carried, when out of town)
    -Hammer (kept in an Elsewhere-pocket, used primarily as a tool)
    -Axe (kept in an Elsewhere-pocket, used primarily as a tool)
    -Silver Needle tea, coca leaves, a small amount of opium
    -A biography of Kendik Arkadi (bought in Yu-Shan)
    -Supplies of maiden tea (bought in Yu-Shan)
    -Assorted gifts (bought in Yu-Shan)

    Charms
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    Melee
    First Melee Excellency
    One Weapon Two Blows
    Peony Blossom Attack

    Integrity
    Integrity Protecting Prana

    Presence
    Second Presence Excellency
    Irresistible Salesman Spirit

    Resistance
    Essence-Gathering Temper
    Durability Of Oak Meditation
    Spirit Strengthens The Skin
    Iron Skin Concentration (free Christmas Charm)
    Adamant Skin Technique (Conviction flawed)

    Investigation
    Second Investigation Excellency
    Judge's Ear Technique
    Courtier's Eye Technique (modified; see this post)
    Unblinking Sentinel Gaze (Glories:Sun)

    Linguistics
    Second Linguistics Excellency
    Sagacious Reading of Intent
    Letter-Within-A-Letter Technique
    Wind-Carried Words Technique

    Socialize
    Second Socialize Excellency
    Mastery of Small Manners
    Taboo Inflicting Diatribe

    Future charm planning:
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    Resistance tree:
    Iron Kettle Body
    Armored In Righteousness Stance
    Unbreakable Warrior's Mastery
    Enduring Mountain Method

    Investigation tree:
    Know The Soul's Price

    Interesting Charms from outside Core:
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    From Abyssals:
    Minds Yield To Glory (Presence)
    Heartfelt Honorific Opportunity (Socialize) - makes social attacks unblockable and undodgeable. Lovely with Wise-Eyed Courtier Method and Taboo Inflicting Diatribe. Requires E3, Soc5 unfortunately...

    From GttMH UCS:
    Armored in Righteousness Stance (Resistance - makes Iron Kettle Body stack with armor)
    Shining In Every Eye Attitude (Socialize - give positive intimacies of admiration)

    From Lords of Creation: (require E4-5)
    Golden Courtier Misdirection (Socialize)
    Web-Cutting Eyes (Socialize)


    Combos: (I know we don't need to buy them now, but I still like to define my combo displays and/or come up with names)
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    Unassailable Spirit Of The Ash (Durability of Oak Meditation + Spirit Strengthens The Skin + First Melee Excellency + Integrity-Protecting Prana)
    Combo display: Ireva's light brown skin becomes barklike in texture and takes on a deep golden-brown hue, as a wreath of golden Essence-flowers blooms in her hair, and her eyes glow green-gold from edge to edge. Should a blow strike her, it is blunted by a tangle of thorns and vines; should she attack using Essence, there is the keening of wind through leaves, and she strikes out of the center of a ghostly image of ephemeral branches tossed in a wild storm.

    How To Win Friends And Influence People (Irresistible Salesman Spirit + Mastery of Small Manners + Sagacious Reading of Intent + Second Presence/Socialize/Investigation Excellencies)

    Combat And Social Combat:
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    Join Combat: 2

    Attacks:
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    Resolve: Speed: 5 | Acc: 16 | Damage: 14L/4 | Parry DV: 7 | Rate: 2 | Tags: 2, R, O
    Remembrance: Speed: 4 | Acc: 14 | Damage: 15L/4 | Parry DV: 7 | Rate: 1 | Tags: 2, R, O
    Self Bow: Speed: 6 | Acc: 6 | Damage: depends on arrows | Parry DV: - | Rate: 2 | Range: 150
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    Broadhead Arrows: Damage +5L
    Fowling Arrows: Damage +5B
    Frog Crotch Arrows: Damage +7L, double lethal soak from armor
    Target Arrows: Damage +3L, piercing
    Hands: Speed: 5 | Acc: 6 | Damage: 3B | Parry DV: 4 | Rate: 3
    Feet: Speed: 5 | Acc: 5 | Damage: 6B | Parry DV: 2 | Rate: 2
    Clinch: Speed: 6 | Acc: 5 | Damage: 3B | Parry DV: - | Rate: 1

    Dodge DV: 4

    Permanent Charms (Effects)
    Ox-Body Technique x1 (one -1 HL and two -2 HLs, free)

    Soak:
    Bashing: 9B (6 orichalcum breastplate + 1 Amulet + 2 Stamina)
    Lethal: 10L (8 orichalcum breastplate + 1 Amulet + 1 Stamina)
    Aggravated: 8A (orichalcum breastplate)

    Hardness:
    Bashing: 3 (orichalcum breastplate)
    Lethal: 3 (orichalcum breastplate)
    Aggravated: 3 (orichalcum breastplate)

    Health:
    -0 [ ]
    -1 [ ][ ][ ]
    -2 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
    -4 [ ]
    X [ ]

    Mental Defenses:
    Dodge MDV: 13 (8 base + 5 from Sifu's Useful Fingers)
    Charisma Parry MDV:
    >Presence: 8 if specialty applies, 6 otherwise
    >Performance: 4
    Manipulation Parry MDV:
    >Presence: 7 if specialty applies, 6 otherwise
    >Performance: 3

    Languages:
    Low Realm (Native)
    High Realm
    Riverspeak
    Old Realm
    Flametongue
    Seatongue

    Intimacies:
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    +Tepet Firada (A Lifetime's Love and Loyalty)
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    Expanded context: Anything For You // Beloved Sister + Absolute Loyalty
    +Kharal Zhou (Besotted)
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    Expanded context: How Did I Get So Lucky? // Love + Trust + Incredulous Happiness
    +Isa (Best Friend)
    +Black Ice Shadow (Friends, Always)
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    Expanded context: Has His Priorities Straight // Admiration + Profound Gratitude
    +Family (Reminds Me Who I Am)
    -Abyssals (Hatred)
    +"Bright Shard" (Intriguing, In More Than One Sense)
    +Skandi (Grief For A Worthy Friend)
    +Anaxos Ro (Respected Business Partner)
    +Ayesha Ura (Trust/Respect/Gratitude)
    (one scene of erosion[*][ ][ ][ ][ ])
    +Parents (Wistful Memory And Yearning)
    +Rebels And Outcasts (Fellow Feeling)

    In progress:
    +Fire Orchid (Wary Respect, Not Quite Affection)[*][*][*][*][ ]
    +Eusebia Saii (Glad To Be Her Ally)[*][*][*][ ][ ]
    +Sesus Denerid Braga (We Share A Dream)[*][*][*][ ][ ]
    +Versino (Too Young For This)[*][*][ ][ ][ ]
    +The Immaculate Order (Worthy Of Respect)[*][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    +The Sidereal Exalted (Doing Their Best)[*][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    +Lookshy (Hope)[*][*][*][ ][ ]
    -Chejop Kejak (Disappointment)[*][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    +Symphony of Chimes (Magnificent Bastard)[*][*][*][ ][ ]
    +Emerald Stormwrack (Friend/Teacher)[*][ ][ ][ ][ ]
    +Cathak Nalis (Wistful Admiration)[*][*][ ][ ][ ]
    +Sierra/Lauren (Sister-In-Arms/Friendship)[*][*][*][ ][ ]
    +Aya (Protectiveness)[*][*][ ][ ][ ]

    Old and removed for lack of space:
    +Child of Steel and Ruby (Cautious Respect)

    Essence/Willpower/Virtues/Limit:
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    Virtues:
    Compassion ●●
    Conviction ●●●●●
    Temperance ●●
    Valor ●●

    Virtue channels expended:
    Conviction 2/5
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    Previous stories
    Nexus: Conviction 4/5, others 0/2
    Yu-Shan: Conviction 1/5, others 0/2


    Virtue Flaw/Flawed Virtue:
    Deliberate Cruelty/Conviction

    Limit: 10/10, Limit Break (controlled)

    Permanent Willpower: ●●●●● ●●●●●
    Temporary Willpower: 7/10

    Essence:
    Permanent: ●●●
    Personal: 19 (19) [(Permanent Essence x3)+Willpower]
    Peripheral: 21 (42) (15 attuned, 8 Grand Daiklave + 2 Orichalcum Breastplate + 5 Infinite Resplendence Amulet) [(Permanent Essence x7)+Willpower)+Sum of Virtues]
    Overdrive: 0 (10)
    Anima banner:

    Bonus Points and XP:
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    Bonus Points: Total: 0/30
    Willpower 5->10 = 5
    Conviction -> 5 = 2
    Extra Caste/Favored Abilities = 4
    Extra Backgrounds = 14
    Specialties in caste/favored abilities = 2
    Extra Charm = 3

    Experience Points. Spent: 80 | Left: 37 | Total: 117
    Stamina 1->2 = 4
    Appearance 2->3 = 8
    Essence 2->3 = 16
    Courtier's Eye Technique = 8
    Unblinking Sentinel Gaze = 8
    Bureaucracy 1->3 = 4
    Essence-Gathering Temper = 8
    Adamant Skin Technique = 8
    One Weapon Two Blows = 8
    Peony Blossom Attack = 8

    XP gained:
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    Initial allotment = 12 XP

    Story 1: Nexus = 36 XP
    Session ending with Isa joining the group = 4 XP
    Library scene with Zhou = 1 XP
    Session ending with arriving at the theater = 4 XP
    Three-die stunt (play scene) = 1 XP
    Session ending with Elegance's death = 4 XP
    Killing Elegance = 8 XP
    General awesomeness of that scene = 1 XP
    Three-die stunt (Councilor's mansion) = 1 XP
    Session ending with Typhon's retreat = 4 XP
    Stopping the Revolution = 4 XP
    Session ending with departure from Nexus = 4 XP

    Interlude: The Lotus Sea = 4 XP

    Story 2: Yu-Shan = 21 XP
    First day/night in Yu-Shan = 4 XP
    Three-die stunt (The Plan) = 1 XP
    Second and third day/night in Yu-Shan = 8 XP
    End of story = 8 XP

    Story 3: The March to Lookshy = 44 XP
    Three-die stunt (Maiden/Hand fight) = 1 XP
    XP update in Fire Orchid's camp = 23 XP
    XP update upon reaching Lookshy = 20 XP

    Eclipse-Bound Oaths:
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    Essence 3:
    (1) Not to return to Nexus, and not attempt to compel the appropriate authority to release her from the oath, nor try to influence the choice of the Midnight Queen's successor, nor try to speed up the succession.
    End condition: the lawfully appointed Midnight Queen can revoke this oath.

    (2) Not to (deliberately and voluntarily) use UMI on Kharal Zhou.
    End condition: her death, the end of the world, or Kharal Zhou freely chooses to release her from it.

    (3) In private conversation with Isa, Chosen of Saturn, to speak no word that is not true.
    End condition: Isa freely chooses to release her from it.

    (4) Not to voluntarily reveal any knowledge shared with her in confidence by Lytek, the Right Hand of Power, save with his explicit permission.

    (5) Not to touch Lytek's cabinet nor interfere with its contents in any way, without Lytek's permission.

    (6) Sanctified for Ayesha Ura: "That I spoke no word untrue during my meeting with Skandi, and that the information in his hands is true, containing neither Compulsions nor other charms designed to bring harm to the Silver Pact."

    (7) To fight to the best of her ability to defend Lookshy from the Mask, and when that war is over, to seek out Isa, Chosen of Saturn, and accept without resistance the ending she decides.

    And in return, Chejop Kejak swore:
    -To do what he is able, to aid in the liberation of Thorns.
    -To refrain from sabotaging any action by the Realm or the Order or their agents against the Mask of Winters, and not to allow partisanship to contribute to the fall of the East.
    -Not to seek Ireva's death while she serves Lookshy in the war against the Mask.
    -To protect Tepet Firada as he is able, and ensure she faces no reprisals for her relationship with Ireva, nor punishment for Ireva's actions, from anyone under his authority.

    (8) Not to use Charms or other magic to unnaturally influence the mind of Tepet Xet.

    (9) Never to employ mind-altering magic to control or suborn any monk of the Immaculate Order or officer of Lookshy. Furthermore, in private conversation with Nalis and Zhou, to speak no word that is not true. Nalis can release her from the oath, otherwise it lasts until she passes to Lethe.


    Destinies:
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    -Keep Trying (Ascending Destiny of the Pillar)
    Providence: Hound-Chases Rabbit Blessing (restores 1 Willpower on a successful Ability roll relevant to the destiny)
    Trigger: Simple ("whenever Untimely Orchid speaks honestly and without reserve")
    Scope: 3 (Essence 3 individual)
    Frequency: 2 (once per day)
    Duration: 2 (1 year)

    -Unintended Consequences (Ascending Destiny of the Ewer?)
    As Orchid feels refreshed by honesty, she grows bolder in her declarations, rewarded for her daring and her trust. Having shared her heart with another, the paradoxical destiny bleeds into his fate as well.
    Name-Destroying Curse: Temperance on Orchid and Zhou
    Trigger: "When Orchid/Zhou knows information another does not" "When Orchid/Zhou is trying to get said other to trust her"
    Scope: 7 (Essence Burden)
    Frequency: 2 (Once Per Day)
    Duration: 1 (One Season)

    -A Bridal Gift (Ascending Destiny of the Sword)
    Provenance: Artless Prodigy Blessing
    Trigger (simple): when opposing the Mask of Winters or his servants
    Scope: 3 (one person, plus Essence burden)
    Frequency: 4 (whenever applicable)
    Duration: 2 (one year)


    A Timeline for the March of the Eighth Legion

    Moments of Awesome (3-Die Stunts):
    Last edited by Ifni; 2016-07-30 at 07:18 AM.
    Current PCs:
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    Word:
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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
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Repost of Ireva's background:

    Background:
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    Early life (short version, see vignettes up the page):
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    Born Tepet Ireva, Eris was trapped in Thorns by the Mask's invasion when she was four. Her five-years-older sister Firada managed to keep them both alive, in the streets and then the Undercity; their parents were visiting the Isle at the time of the invasion, investigating schools for their firstborn.

    After Firada Exalted as a Wood Aspect when Ireva was fourteen, taking the title White Rose of Thorns, Ireva devoted her energies to unifying the Resistance behind her sister's leadership. Six years later, her final triumph led to her Exaltation as an Eclipse.

    Unfortunately, the Immaculate faith has always been strong in Thorns, and Ireva's transformation into Anathema led to calls for her death. When Firada refused to let her be killed, the alliance they'd built broke apart. Worse, since the alliance had been sealed by Ireva's anima in the moment of her Exaltation, the repercussions for oathbreaking fell on Firada and the leaders of the other factions, further undermining Firada's support and leading to accusations of vile Anathema magic. It is for this reason that Ireva took the name Eris, which means Discord.

    Trying to reclaim her supporters (and prove to herself that the Dragons hadn't turned away from her), Firada went on a solo rescue mission to a necrotech laboratory in Thorns, trying to rescue a Resistance operative who'd recently been captured and taken for experimentation and torture by the Daybreak who ran the lab. Unfortunately (and likely due to the oathbreaker's curse) she failed to notice that the Daybreak was still there - having chosen not to attend the party at court that evening. He defeated the Wood Aspect in combat, chained her in soulsteel, woke her up, and was casting Threefold Binding of the Heart on her when Eris put a jade daiklave through his back. One of Firada's remaining allies, a woman named Janya, had released her and given her some supplies and Firada's sword, telling her where her sister had gone.

    Eris got them both safely out of the city, via a Guild contact. Firada headed off to the nearest Realm outpost, and returned home to the Blessed Isle, where she argued fruitlessly for relief for Thorns, and eventually ended up taking vows in the Immaculate Order (while very surreptitiously keeping in touch with her little sister).


    In the nine years since her escape, Eris has been keeping a very low profile. She's been building a life outside Thorns, trying to understand the politics of the Scavenger Lands, and slowly developing alliances and contacts. However, the advent of the Cleansing has pulled her out of hiding - not for her own safety, but because it provides both a threat and an opportunity for her long-term goals.

    Life after Thorns:
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    After Firada left, Eris stayed with Swift for a while. He told her a bit about the history of the world (carefully edited; Swift has his own agenda), and the nature of her Exaltation. He also brought her to a manse he guards, the Shrine of the Sea's Song (see below), in part to get it to analyze her Essence to make sure she was what she seemed to be, and in part to propose a deal to her.

    To whit, he would allow her to attune to the manse and take its hearthstone. In exchange, she would seek out the other manses built by the same Exalt, let him know what artifacts and relics of the First Age she found there, and deliver one such item of his choice to him. He believed (correctly) that, as the hearthstone bearer for the Shrine, her dreams would give her clues to the locations of the other manses networked with it. Eris agreed, and sealed the bargain with her anima power.

    After she felt she had learned what she could from Swift (or rather, that learning from Swift was no longer worth putting up with the constant teasing and flirtation), Eris headed further north, and then along the first great river she came to. She got work as a guard on the barges heading upriver, and sought word of the Guildsman Anaxos Ro; she eventually found him in a riverside trading town.

    She paid off her debt to him quickly enough, via a few jobs that he gave her to test her abilities. The ability to perfectly discern someone's intentions and half-truths proved useful in negotiations, as did (in other contexts) access to perfectly encrypted letters and perfectly concealed subliminal messages. After she easily identified the spy in his office who'd been passing on information to a would-be business rival for months, Anaxos decided that he wanted to keep her friendly, and started inviting her to parties and putting her in touch with potentially useful contacts.

    Anaxos had decided not to head back to Thorns, for the moment, given the cloud of suspicion hanging over him due to his somewhat-earlier-than-expected departure from the city on the same night that a Daybreak vanished without trace. He considered himself lucky, and wasn't going to push it. Instead, he intended to shore up his trade networks elsewhere in the East, and his position in the Guild hierarchy. Consequently, he remained in Nexus for an extended period, and helped Eris get settled in the city.

    She began a low-profile business as a scribe, translator, cryptographer and information broker. Most of her customers thought she was a God-Blood or Outcaste; only Anaxos knew her true identity (or at least, only Anaxos revealed his knowledge). During this period she lived very modestly, in a tiny attic apartment; it had a large window and a view of the open sky, and that was mostly what she cared about. She also practiced the sword with the Guild mercenaries, and gained a reputation for near-inhuman skill, although she mostly used an ordinary blade rather than her very-distinctive daiklave.

    When she felt ready, after a year or so in Nexus, she went to Anaxos Ro about financing an expedition into the hinterlands to seek out an ancient manse. She implied the clues came from ancient memories; in fact, they were transmitted to her through the hearthstone.

    They agreed on a bargain: Anaxos would supply funding, a team of experienced scavengers and a geomancer, and in return be entitled to all artifacts found within the manse. Eris would claim the manse itself; the Guild lord preferred more portable and fungible assets. The expedition was successful, finding the small Earth-aspected manse called the Waystone, in a deserted hillside in the Hundred Kingdoms. The travel and unearthing of the manse consumed the better part of two years.

    On returning to Nexus, Anaxos found a message from Tepet Firada awaiting him, requesting a brief meeting. He replied, with a hidden message from Eris concealed in the envelope, and a few weeks later the sisters had their first meeting since their escape from Thorns. Firada told Eris about their new siblings, and about her training in the Immaculate Order, and taught her a Charm to allow them to communicate privately over great distances.

    Anaxos was extremely pleased with Eris after the manse expedition, which had yielded a number of pristine First Age artifacts. His standing in the Guild rose rapidly, and the social circles to which Eris was admitted as a result of her association with him grew increasingly lofty. Her reputation spread, quietly - among those who bought and bartered information and were willing to pay a premium for accuracy, and those who valued privacy and discretion and speed in their communications (of course, these groups tended to overlap quite a bit). Financiers, merchants, mercenary captains, those involved in political intrigue... she met many interesting people in interesting lines of work, and took the general approach of trying to remain useful yet unthreatening to all parties.

    Slowly, she began to feel more secure in Nexus. With the income from her investments and business, she bought a comfortable apartment in the Cinnabar District, one where she could entertain guests. She began rinsing her hair with a dye to bring out the green highlights, and taking a slightly more visible role at parties and functions, becoming known as one to turn to for a quick and witty summary of the latest gossip. She allowed some mercenaries to see her practicing with her daiklave, and then accepted an invitation to train with the Hooded Executioners; their leader, the outcaste Dragonlord Johoda, has offered her a job a few times, and while she's consistently turned him down, they've had polite conversations on more than one occasion. Previously she had avoided the Dragon-Blooded; slowly and cautiously, she began to approach known outcastes where their social circles overlapped, trying to learn more about them.

    Slowly, she developed a reputation in certain circles as a well-informed woman, one who could usually tell a newcomer to the city of all the latest goings-on, and put them in touch with someone who might be able to assist them - for a price, of course, albeit usually measured in favor rather than in coin. She runs a salon of sorts (in the Renaissance sense, a place for meetings and discussion) from her apartment, where once a week whichever of her contacts happened to be in the city might meet to discuss matters of mutual interest. She has quietly let it drop that the areas of greatest interest to her include Thorns and the Anathema - of course, she is very far from the only one in Nexus with interest in those topics, and the latest news regarding them frequently features in the discussions at her apartment. She goes by the name Untimely Orchid, and is listed on the Guild's books as a reliable external contractor.

    She usually leaves the city at least once a year, for periods ranging from a week or two to several months. She lets her contacts know that she'll be out of town, rents out her apartment, and leaves. Her longest expedition lasted for a year and a half and took her far to the northeast, in search of another manse in the network; this time, she wanted to see if she could figure it out herself, since the Waystone had been rather harmless.

    On the way, riding alone, she saw a flaring Lunar anima banner. She went to investigate, and intervened in a fight between a young casteless boar-Lunar and three (also fairly young) Dragon-Blooded. They had been on a hunting party that hadn't gone quite as intended. The Fire Aspect was already unconscious and on the verge of death; the Wood Aspect and Air Aspect were both also injured, and were trying to defend each other and their fallen brother. The Lunar wasn't looking much better, though. Eris rode up and managed to convince the Dragon-Bloods that they should leave to heal their wounded brother and report the encounter, while she challenged the boar-Lunar to single combat. The Lunar was happy to fight one Dragon-Blood rather than four, and accepted.

    Once the Dragon-Bloods were out of sight Eris sheathed her grand daiklave and demanded to know what the Lunar was doing. It eventually came out that he'd been sent to speak with a No Moon who was meant to be in this area, regarding moonsilver tattoos. They headed off to find the No Moon, an ice-weasel-totem woman originally from the far north named Three Drops, with only a brief detour to hunt down a boar and burn its body (Eris reported her victory over the Lunar, and that she was burning the Anathema's corpse to prevent any chance of regeneration, to the Dragon-Bloods via Wind-Carried Words Technique).

    Eris had some interesting conversations with Three Drops, including one regarding a certain half-broken and looted manse, and its insane construct guardian. Eris sighed and accepted the young Lunar's offer to accompany her, to discharge the debt he owed her for extricating him from the fight with the Dragon-Bloods.

    She managed to talk down the insane construct guardian (the Eclipse caste mark helped), and together they cleaned up the manse; it had been a workshop once, and the underlying structure was still intact, just all the First Age tools had been looted. Fortunately, Eris was still carrying around a complete set of First Age tools - albeit blood-encrusted dark metal tools with a distinct tendency toward skull motifs. Where would she have sold them, after all? She made a deal with Three Drops that the No Moon could attune to the manse, and use the workshop and tools when Eris didn't have need of them (although the construct-guardian is stubborn, and still sulks when a Solar is not in residence); Three Drops had led a nomadic lifestyle ever since leaving the north one step ahead of an angry member of the Bull's Circle, but she'd been thinking about developing a territory for some time. Eris also claimed the orichalcum breastplate they found in one of the secret compartments in the secret compartments, apparently the one thing the earlier searchers had missed (the fact that it was the compartment directly behind the not-quite-sane guardian construct's preferred resting spot might have contributed).

    Eris spent some time speaking with Three - although the sorceress enjoyed being cryptic - before heading back to Nexus and resuming her previous life there. And that brings us, more or less, to the present day - and more specifically, Eris' worry at Lookshy's announcement of their support for the Cleansing. She was always more comfortable in the shadows, and she's been safe there for nine years, as she learned her way around the world outside Thorns and gathered resources and prepared... but now the world is turning, and she can no longer remain on the sidelines, lest all she hope for turn to ash.


    Draft of discussion on names with Three Drops:
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    "A name? For you?!" The woman laughs uproariously, for several moments. At the end she wipes her eyes. "Oh, sister. Your problem isn't that you need a name. Your problem is that you don't like the one you already have."

    The Eclipse raises an eyebrow, from where she sits cross-legged on the floor of the tent. She idly passes a - necklace? - between her hands. A narrow chain of silver, set with a single yellow gem. "Is that so? How very interesting." Her voice is perfectly polite, no hint of boredom or sarcasm in it. Its very earnestness demands suspicion.

    The No Moon twists herself around a chair. Human joints should not bend like that, nor should any human woman be so thin, but Three Drops seems more than willing to flaunt her nature when in her own domain. Her white hair looks more like a pelt than a woman's tresses, and her teeth are sharpened to points.

    "And are you grateful for my insight, Quicksilver Falcon?"

    "Oh, very much so. But sadly, if what I came to trade for is no longer on the table, then all I have to offer is my gratitude." She sighs a little, and stands, and bows politely. "I thank you for the tea."

    She waits for it, as she turns to go. And sure enough, with a peal of laughter, and a well-concealed edge of worry and anger behind it,
    "- Discord is your name."

    The Solar looks back, turning one palm upward. "A possible answer, to be sure. You give names for past accomplishments, no? But I was told that here I might find one who could help me shape future deeds."

    "Strife is your lot. Do you think you can escape it?" The Lunar laughs, high and sweet and dancing on the edge of sanity. "To sow it, to reap it, to end it... wherever you are, Solar, there will be strife. Whether of your doing or undoing."

    Eris smiles in brief appreciation at the wordplay. "Inevitably?"

    "Do not forget, child, that we were made for war." The Lunar's voice becomes chill - and brittle, as ice over black water. "Each and every one of us. Diplomats, they called your kind, emissaries. But your role, back then, was to build the alliances that would win a war - and subvert and betray and turn against each other, all those who would not follow. Just as it was ours to walk strange boundaries, to seek the mysteries hidden away from the moon's light, and bring back the power we found there to turn to our mates' and allies' cause."

    "Why are you surprised, Discord? It's only who you are. Who you were. Who you've always been. What else do you want to be?"

    The No Moon smiles a red scimitar smile, like the bloodied edge of a crescent moon. "You want a name like ours? Like mine?"

    "The Ogre, Three Drops - so named,
    For dancing, laughing, in passion or in mirth,
    Should she strike, her victim's life is fled
    Ere even three drops of blood can fall to earth."


    "Should I strike? I did. We don't give deed names for wishful thinking, Discord. If you want to defy what you are, come back in a hundred years, and tell me what you've done."

    "I didn't come here for a name." Eris smiles, faintly.

    "Ah. Is this the tiresome part where your hired assassins spring out of the woodwork? Or are you planning to do that bit yourself? I really would advise against the latter."

    "Hardly. I just wanted to meet one of Luna's Chosen. Find out what you think you are, and I am. And now I know." She bows to the No Moon. "Thank you."

    The Eclipse gently lays the necklace down on the rug. "Your payment, as promised. Until we meet again, Chosen."

    The Lunar snatches at it, a movement almost too fast to see. But her hands are very gentle as she cradles the crystal.

    "... Stormcrow."

    Eris raises an eyebrow.

    "Payment promised for promised payment; I owe you no debt, Solar." The Lunar's voice holds a paradoxical joy, and a simmering of wrath. "You are a harbinger of strife. The clouds of war will follow in your wake. Since your kin returned, the world has been turning toward chaos and destruction, and it turns still."

    "The prison broke open and spilled light and darkness alike back into the world. How close is your reflection in the mirror, daughter of Thorns? How close is your shadow?"

    "Perhaps you'll come with peace and harmony in one hand, to balance the promise of future strife held out in the other. But you cannot avoid that strife, that conflict. Look to your own nature. The tree draws the lightning."

    She stops, breathing hard. And then smiles, and says light-heartedly, "So if you want to know your name, there it is... Eris Stormcrow."

    "I'm grateful for the information." The Eclipse's voice is near-perfectly serene.

    "Beware the stars. They're always watching." The Lunar giggles. "Now go ride your stormwinds, crow girl. Tree girl. Lightning girl. Going to play with Terrestrials? Have fun. Bring me some jade, next time."
    Current PCs:
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    Word:
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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.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Apr 2007

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Repost of Ireva's vignettes:

    Vignette 1: On The Beach
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    A driftwood fire, burning on a pebbled shore at dusk. Low purple clouds lie along the horizon, a brewing storm. At the water's edge, thigh-deep in the white-ruffled foam of the breakers, stands a girl. Or perhaps a woman, if you approach close enough to see her heart-shaped face; she is small and thin, but her forest-green eyes have seen much. Her smile is bright and innocent, though; only a little weary. Her dark hair is cropped short, and crusted with white salt; where it's not covered by her ragged trousers and shirt, her skin is pale, burned red by the sun. A long white scar twists down one arm; smaller scars criss-cross her arms and her legs beneath the rolled-up trousers.

    She's speaking quietly to a long low shadow in the shallows. The tongue is ancient, although her accent is modern - and odd, to anyone well-schooled in such things. Somewhere there's what remains of a pure Dynastic accent, but it's buried by a heavy overlay of the street. She bows, and reaches out to caress the dolphin's smooth grey skin. On her forehead, a double circle of light flares briefly.

    The water fountains away as the dolphin transforms, glittering droplets sheeting off the tall man's skin as he stands up in a single graceful motion, unhurriedly drawing a kirtle of seaweed around himself. He smiles down at the girl - a rather seductive smile - and offers her his hand.

    "It's been a long time, Chosen. What did you say your name was?"

    She smiles a small shadowed smile. "Still working on that. Call me... oh, Eris, for now. It'll do." She nods at the fire. "But if you would..." There's a slight strain in her voice, audible anxiety.

    "Of course."

    The girl leads the way to the bundled form that lies beside the fire. It moans a little as their shadows fall across the shroud. She kneels and gently moves the cloth away from the other's wounds. Not deep, but angry and red, radiating black streaks; the flesh around them seems to be rotting.

    The dolphin-god reaches out to the injuries, and then pauses, frowning. "Dragon-Blooded?"

    "My sister, as I said."

    "Would she accept that appellation?"

    The Solar nods, shortly. "She gave up everything to protect me, Baiji."

    "Ah." He lowers his hands to the wounds, not touching yet, just tracing patterns in the air above them. His eyes close halfway. "What did this?"

    "A deathknight's blade. Soulsteel."

    He turns back to her, raising a silver-gray eyebrow. "You have interesting enemies. So is that the accent of Thorns I hear?"

    Eris' face is still, difficult to read. She inclines her head slightly to him, smiling just a little. "You'll have your story, as promised. But first -"

    "Yes, I know. My part of the bargain. Although I would usually ask a greater price, for one of them. The Immaculates do not... appreciate... me and my kin."

    "A greater price than a Solar's secrets? You value your healing highly..." A hint of laughter in her voice, but then it firms, to an edge of steel. "But we have our bargain, sealed and sworn." She looks up at him through salt-crusted eyelashes. "Although I can sweeten the deal a little, I suppose. I'll throw in a kiss. On the cheek."

    The baiji laughs. "All right, Quicksilver Falcon. I'll heal your... sister. But I expect an even better story, now."

    His Essence is silver and green and blue, running in a soothing waterfall across the angry wounds. The Solar watches, her hands clenched tight, not bothering to hide the tension anymore. As the god lifts his hands, she leans closer, and breathes a sigh of relief at seeing the now-unblemished skin.

    She folds the cloth back into place, and draws the light sun-veil away from the other woman's face. She's older, and taller, with the same pallid skin, although hers has a greenish tint as well as the red of sunburn. The overall effect is of a rather unpleasant disease. Her hair is pretty, though, so dark a green as to be almost black, and braided in an intricate coil. Her face is more square than her sister's, the features stronger, but the family resemblance is plain.

    "Firi?" the Solar murmurs, brushing a stray hair back from the Wood Aspect's forehead. The woman's eyes open slowly, the same mossy green as her sister's. One hand reaches reflexively for a sword; Eris reaches down to grip her wrist. "It's all right, Firi. We're safe. Or safe for now, anyway."

    "How did you...?"

    "After you went off on your own, Janya came and let me out, and gave me your daiklave to take to you. What were you thinking, raiding that place on your own?" There's a thread of anger in her soft voice, overlaying a profound relief. "You knew it was one of their labs, we all did! And if you had to go, why in the Dragons' names didn't you take your sword?"

    "Was a rescue mission," the Wood Aspect mutters, her voice scratchy. "Water...?"

    The Solar has a waterskin at her lips almost instantly. The Wood Aspect swallows a few times, and then waves weakly. Once the waterskin is taken away, she continues, her voice strengthening, "Yes, I knew it was theirs. So what good would my daiklave have done? Only to draw attention... I didn't go unarmed."

    "There was a meeting, at the court; we'd heard all the deathknights would be there. Had a lot of people keeping an eye on it. It seemed like the perfect opportunity - get in quickly and quietly, get out the same way. And if we could get Dance out... they hadn't had him for that long. I thought there was still a chance."

    "You could have sent someone else."

    "Would anyone have gone? After -" She cuts herself off.

    The Solar's breath catches. For a moment she looks down, tears beading in her eyes before she wipes them away. She glares at the Wood Aspect. "You were doing it to prove you weren't cursed by the Dragons. To have a victory to show them, to compensate for me."

    "I was doing it to save Dance. That's all." The Wood Aspect's voice is firm. "Now tell me what happened."

    Eris swallows, and her voice steadies, the hurt mostly hidden. "I took the coin and weapons Janya gave me, and your daiklave, and took Winding North Nine to the corner two blocks from the lab. The streets were empty; you were right about that, at least. I sneaked up - too late. Saw him binding you. Waited for a moment when he was most distracted, since you were unconscious and it didn't look like he was about to kill you... and then he woke you up. What did he say to you?"

    That breaks the Wood Aspect's calm for a moment; she winces. "Never mind. Really!" she emphasizes when Eris opens her mouth. She pushes herself up to a sitting position. "I feel much better. Better than I should..." Her gaze catches on the man. "Who's your friend?"

    "He's a baiji, a dolphin-god. He saw I was Exalted and asked if I needed help... he healed you, Firi."

    "In trade for what?" Her gaze on the god is cool and distrustful.

    "Only my story. How I Exalted." Eris smiles slightly. "After all this time, sister, you still don't trust me to strike a good bargain?"

    "Heh." The Dragon-Blood laughs a little, before it goes into a fit of coughing. She clears her throat. "And an Exalt in your debt, god?"

    The man opens a hand. His voice is deep and measured. "No debt, Terrestrial. But it's good to have friends, in these troubled times. Don't you think?"

    "Apologies, Baiji - what is your name? My failure to ask earlier..." Eris interjects. She doesn't want these two to be at odds.

    The baiji smiles slightly to her, inclining his head. "I am Swift-Fire-Over-Water, Chosen. Swift will do."

    "Thank you, then, Swift. Firi... all right. So then he started casting his spell - all his attention was on you. And it didn't seem like I wanted to let him finish it, and I didn't think I'd have a better chance, so I jumped up and rammed your daiklave through his heart. And the spell shattered, and you passed out."

    "And then? How did we get here?" Firi glances around at the beach. The horizon seems to draw her attention, and she stares for a long moment at the clouds illuminated by the setting sun. "And where is here, anyway?"

    "We're up the coast, quite a way. I got the chains off you - the deathknight had the key - and took you to the Stowing Lanes. Managed to persuade Ro to move a scheduled departure forward. Your anima had flared, above ground, and we'd killed a deathknight... I figured we had a little time because of the meeting, but that could only buy us so much."

    "How long has it been?"

    "That was last night. We ran up the coast all night and day, and they dropped us off in a boat here about half an hour ago. They said there's a Realm outpost not too far away, for you." Her voice remains steady, even at the last.

    "And you?"

    "I'll find another way." Eris takes her sister's hand. "Firi, you've protected me since I was four years old but I'm a grown woman now. You go... home." And her voice does catch at that. "Find our mother and father. Tell the Realm about Thorns. Maybe we can still do... what we tried to do, for all those years."

    The Wood Aspect pulls the smaller woman into her arms, stroking her salt-crusted hair. It's a very un-Dynastic display of emotion. But then, from what's been said already, they're not quite Dynasts.

    "Do you remember them, at all? Our parents?"

    "You never asked me that. In all those years..."

    "I didn't want to hurt you. But I wondered."

    "I remember... scents, sounds, more than sights. Flowers in her hair. The timbre of his voice. There's one image, one of them in armor, for some formal function... but I don't know if it's a true memory or imagination. I was only four." She takes a long breath. "I do remember that night, when it happened. Although again, mostly other senses. Darkness, breathlessness, screams. The smell of blood and rotting flesh, heavy on the air..." She stops, and adds quietly. "Holding onto your hand as if it was a lifeline. As it was."

    Her sister had been trained in all a Dynast child should know, by then. Her parents' trip to the Isle had been to seek out the best primary school for her. Firi had told her that, when she asked why their parents had abandoned them. She'd been so angry at them, at first, for not being there... or she thinks so. But perhaps that's another false memory. In later years, she came to be grateful that they'd escaped. Her first sight of the Patchwork Regalia, when she'd visited the court for the Resistance, had cemented it.

    "The last thing Mother told me, before she left, was to take care of my little sister." The Dragon-Blood's voice is low. "I remember that day, the sunlight, the flowers in the spring... I did my best."

    "You did everything for me. I know, Firi, do you think I don't remember?" She'd kept them both alive, in the nightmare streets of Thorns, doing whatever she had to do. Stealing, selling herself, killing - buying her sister's innocence at the cost of her own.

    "Not enough." Her voice is bleak. "I couldn't stop -"

    "It wasn't your fault!" Eris cuts her sister off abruptly. They both know the words unspoken there. Anathema, and all that had followed from it. Discord, misfortune, the ruination of their hopes.

    "Terrestrial." The baiji leans forward, his voice cold. "I have my bargain with your sister, but take this truth for free. The Solar Exalted are not demons. They are the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, ordained to protect and rule Creation. You should be honored that your sister was found worthy." The Wood Aspect shakes her head slightly, but doesn't respond, looking at Eris.

    The Eclipse sighs. "... who knows where the future will take us? Me, anyway. For you, Firi, it'll take you home."

    "I'll be fine. I have to tell Swift his story, and then... you taught me well. There are a couple of cities in this area, if I remember correctly. I've got a decent weapon, I know people in the Guild."

    She hugs her sister again. "You looked after me, better than anyone could've dreamed. Dragons, we saved each other from Thorns! We got out, Firi, as we told each other we would, when we were children." They'd lost sight of that dream after Firi Exalted, cast aside for higher ambitions. "But now... we need to go different ways."

    "When did my baby sister start to sound like a priest?" For the first time, the Wood Aspect is nearly crying. "Iri... I'll send word to you."

    Eris - Iri? - nods. "I'll look forward to it. But now it's time for you to take care of yourself. Here. Have some dried fish, the captain gave me a package..." She's proud of herself, for keeping her voice calm, unbroken. For not letting it show, the wracking jealousy at the thought of home. Mother, father... the scent of flowers, and the timbre of a deep warm voice. Before the shadows came. But that's not for her, anymore.

    And it hits her, then, the thought of being alone. For as long as she can remember, through darkness and horror and terror and pain, her sister has been the one constant in her life. When they ran from the fires and the terrible laughter on that night of madness, when they went down into the darkness of the Undercity, when they joined the first gang, or the second, when they fell in with the Resistance... for all of it, they'd been together, guarding each others' backs.

    But it hadn't really been that equal, had it? She'd always been the one protected - first by virtue of age, and then because her sister was Exalted. Firi had made the sacrifices, every time. When Eris gained her power, only disaster followed in its wake. But still Firi had not turned away, not allowed her to die...

    Now it's time for her to give something up. Give something back. And so she smiles at her sister, unwavering, and hands around the dried fish and the hard bread and the waterskin. And enjoys a breeze with no scent of rotting flesh, and the light of the setting golden sun, and these last hours together.

    In the end, she can't bring herself to say goodbye. And after all...

    "Do you remember when we were kids, and you told me stories of Exalted heroes, how you always began?"

    "Once upon a time, when the world was different... that? I haven't thought of that for years."

    "That's right. So... not goodbye. Only... fare well, until we meet again. When the world is different."

    Fifteen hundred years of enmity is a hefty barrier to overcome. But when it stands between her and home, between her and her sister...

    They survived the invasion of Thorns and its aftermath when they were both mortal children less than ten. They brought the Resistance together behind a single leader, before they broke it apart. They slew a deathknight, and escaped a Deathlord's grasp. So what does impossible mean, in the end, or the beginning?

    "When the world is different," Firi echoes, and kisses her on the forehead before turning to lope away.

    Some would see that statement as fatalistic. But even if she believed the rift between them was inherent in the nature of the world -
    "Then we need only change the world," Eris whispers to the sea and sky. And turns back to the campfire and the baiji, to give him his promised story.


    Vignette 2: Eris' Story
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    She'd watched her second sunrise, and wondered if she would ever get tired of the sight. She'd farewelled her sister, and watched her head off northward - Swift had said the outpost was only a day's march away, through the hills. Now Eris walks along the beach with the dolphin-god, idly picking up pebbles and shells. Their colors and shapes are so different from anything she saw in the Undercity, and they glitter like jewels in the morning light.

    "So you grew up in Thorns, since you were... four?"

    "Our parents were administrators for the Realm garrison. They'd been posted there for a few years, although we were both born on the Blessed Isle. Firi said they'd been talking about going home, but short of that they wanted to make sure she had a proper education." She shrugs. "I don't remember the Isle at all -" Her voice catches for a moment, because of course, that's not strictly true. "Not from this life, anyway."

    "Do you remember much of the last time?" His voice is very careful as he asks that question.

    Eris shakes her head. "Almost nothing. And I'm not sure how much of it is real and how much just dreams, anyway." She tosses a stone into a rock-pool, trying to skip it, without success. "Thorns... yes, I was four when the invasion came. I only survived because of Firi; my parents had made sure she had a proper Dynast child's training, so she could look after herself. She tried to teach me, but she said her teachers were tougher on her than she ever was on me." She scratches absently at the scar on her arm, brushing a shower of salt free. "We lived on the streets for a few years - ended up moving down into the Undercity. Safer there, with the purges, although it had its own dangers."

    "Criminals?"

    "And stray zombies, and Wyld zones... although the shadowland suppressed those, to some degree. People said they were worse before the Mask came."

    "You sound very educated, for someone who grew up on the streets."

    "Firi, again. Well, and other people. We joined a few gangs when we first went into the Undercity - well, Firi did, and made it clear we came as a package deal - but we ended up working mostly with Resistance cells. Less chance of getting your throat cut for a bit or a bet, albeit more chance of ending up as soulsteel. Quite a few of the city's former upper class ended up down in the tunnels, although a lot of them died in the first six months. And they were kind to me."

    "Firi was always better with weapons; she had a much longer reach, and was stronger, and her early training was a lot less haphazard. So I... watched people. Learned to smooth things over, to sort out arguments, to find out what other people wanted, so we had leverage. And people were usually happy to see me, and talk to me. Not many kids made it through the invasion, and most of them were pretty traumatized, but I'd had Firi to protect me." She'd learned how to use that seeming innocence - half feigned but half real - to her best advantage.

    "She wasn't Exalted then, though?"

    Eris pauses for a moment to scramble over a seaweed-slick outcropping of rock, and grins at the baiji, who simply walks through the surrounding water. The flash of that smile is captivating - surprisingly sweet, bright as sunlight. "Tell me if I'm talking too much. But you bargained for my story..."

    "Not at all. Please, go on."

    "She didn't Exalt until she was... nineteen, I guess? I hadn't really expected it... I'd never met an Exalt and it just seemed like too good to be true. That someone you loved would just get power, as a gift... everything has a price, you know? But then it happened."

    She sighs softly. "And I could see how it could be. The Immaculate faith is pretty strong, in the Resistance - it's a unifying force, it gives people something to fight for." She frowns slightly at the god. "That's why Firi was upset, last night. The Immaculates are good people. Even if they're... wrong about some things. But anyway, having Firi Exalt, when she was already known and respected in the Resistance... I thought she could become a symbol of the old Thorns, a rallying point. There was a lot of infighting, and a lot of gangs who didn't like the Mask but didn't think the Resistance had a hope, but with an Exalt leading the way... it seemed like a blessing not to be squandered. A sign of the Dragons' favor."

    "So I worked on that, pulling together alliances, checking out potential contacts in the city. I talked to people... men and women who had lost hope of anything more than survival, and feared being forced into an unwinnable war. People who'd been poor or criminal in the old Thorns, people who would've feared to speak with my sister. I spoke with drug-merchants and thieves and heroes, and wrote letters to pass to the outside world, through friendly or at least bribable Guild representatives. We were very cautious at first, but the Mask didn't strike at us, and we were gaining strength every month."

    She smiles wistfully. "They called her the White Rose of Thorns. And I was her... herald, I guess you'd say."

    "How old were you?"

    "She's five years older than me, I was fourteen when she Exalted. I'm... twenty, now? Twenty, I guess. Huh. Should've marked that..."

    "So when did that -" He nods at her forehead, "- happen?"

    "A few months ago." A flash of some complex emotion crosses her face, grief and anger and regret. "There was a meeting."

    They'd been the last two hold-outs; they'd done well for themselves in the new Thorns, with many followers and not-inconsiderable resources, and they'd feared losing what they had. She'd been working for months to bring them into the fold. Their aid would mean more troops, weapons stockpiles... and one of the leaders was rumored to wield sorcery, and have communication links with the world outside. The other was the head of a long-standing family operation, with close ties to numerous ancestor ghosts. And once they'd declared themselves, she'd been sure the remaining independents and minor gangs would follow suit. The Resistance could have been truly unified, a clenched fist to strike unexpected at the heart of the Mask's domain.

    It had been difficult to coax them to the table, but she'd persuaded them at last. And in the long night of negotiations, everything had gone right. Where Firada was blunt, she'd smoothed things over; she'd smiled and spoken words of reassurance and inspiration and defiance. She'd offered them their dreams, and phrased her requests in return delicately, and in the end she'd seen them caught up in her vision.

    She describes it in simple bare terms for the baiji. Only one moment of emotion, at the end, when she says, "It was like a dream come true..." And she remembers - the last moments before she became Eris, back when she was still Tepet Ireva.

    ----------

    The room is small. Private. The walls and floor are stone, but unusually smooth, for the Undercity: old construction. A square wooden table, and two chairs on each side. A lamp hanging from a hook in the ceiling.

    The three other people in the room are all visibly tired, dark bags under their eyes, but they're all smiling as well. Ireva cleans the ink from her quill, taking a moment to savor her triumph, as she looks down at the neatly written scrolls of parchment, and the three signatures on each. She'll take them around to the Princess and the other prominent people in the Resistance, later, but these two signatures are the critical ones. Years of work, and now, for the first time in - how long? Years? Ever? - the myriad factions of the Undercity are all pointed in the same direction. Under her sister's leadership - the White Rose of Thorns.

    She can't remember when she's been so happy. Even after the long night, she doesn't feel tired at all.

    Firada holds out her sword-hand to the other two, across the table, and they clasp hands with her, still smiling. The exchange of spoken oaths is a formality now, but one that has symbolic power. And then Firada turns, and grins at Ireva, and beckons to her with her free hand.

    She'd never been sure if her idolized sister recognized how she served their cause. She knows she'll never be the fighter Firada is, even without taking Exaltation into account - and that's looking very unlikely, for her, at this point. But that smile, that beckoning... it says her work was noticed, and appreciated. It says Firada's offering her credit for this, a share in the victory.

    She stands up and steps forward, laying her hand on theirs, as they speak formal oaths of loyalty and allegiance. And her sister returns them confidently, her voice high and sweet, promising protection and loyalty in return. She sounds like a leader, Ireva thinks, that anyone would rejoice to follow.

    The clasp of their hands tightens as the last words are spoken, and Ireva squeezes as well. Wishing, with all her heart, that the promise of these oaths be fulfilled, that no betrayal mar them. That this bright beginning find an equally bright ending, in the sunlight of the world above, on the day of their long-delayed victory.

    She doesn't understand, for a moment, when the world turns white around her. A weapon, a hallucination...? Her eyes sting furiously. She hears the shouts from the others, their hands snatched away from the clasp, the rasp as people reach for their weapons. She blinks furiously against the sudden...

    Sunlight.

    Outshining the lamp, bright and white and golden, rays of light illuminating every mote of dust like sparkling fire. A kind of light you never see in the Undercity. A kind of light you never see in Thorns. A kind of light that part of her remembers, from long ago, in a time of flowers...

    And though she thought she'd stopped crying for lost family long ago, suddenly something in her wants to wail to the heavens for the loss of that light. That brighter past. Imagination, only, but still her ears are ringing, as with the sound of screams. Why?

    Something's strange. Something's changed.

    But she finally makes out the words, and the shapes around her, as her pupils contract and the ringing in her ears subsides. Two of the three silhouettes have weapons in hand, and they are shouting...

    "... this the Dragons' honor, then? To shelter a Deceiver and have her work her foul magic on us? Was this your plot all along, White Rose of Thorns?" The title, given in such hope, becomes a curse on his lips.

    And from the other, the matriarch, "Anathema!" She spits the word. "You Dynasts might call us criminals but Dragons guard us we never consorted with them."

    The room seems to dim a little more. Are her eyes adjusting, or is the light fading? Part of her doesn't want it to go. But more of her is looking desperately for her sister, no no it can't be true, it can't be me...

    Firada's hands are on the hilt of her daiklave, ready to draw. But she stands frozen, staring at Ireva.

    For a moment, Ireva looks within and without at once.

    Within, a white light burning. Light of sun and moon and stars, of the bright heavens of a world she no longer remembers. And looking through the lens of that light, at her sister's face...
    / Thorns and flames and sea-spray and tumbling stones and lightning, a maelstrom sur- / feel my heart beat against the jade, purest pain, in the moment before the fires - / traitors, smiling, weeping - / don't go, love, don't leave me to die alone...

    She gasps and stumbles in front of Firada, between her and the two with their drawn blades. She may not be sure of anything else but some things never change.

    Her sister's arm locks around her chest, pulling her close. "Put up your blades," the Wood Aspect says, steel in her voice.

    "Do your duty and kill the Anathema and perhaps we will." The woman's voice is chill as ice.

    "Fir- White Rose." Titles now. No informality. She breathes quickly, thready. "Is it true? Am I..."

    Firada turns Ireva around and touches her forehead with one finger. Her face is so white. White as chalk, white as sheets, white as a story of snow. As if all the blood was drained away, and all the life.

    "... it's true then." Her voice is very small.

    Firada nods, swallowing. Her eyes are windows into desolation.

    "Your sister is dead, Lady. I'm sorry," the man says from behind her. "But she's gone, no bringing her back. Do your duty. Plenty of us have had to, for those whose bodies and souls were taken by the Mask."

    "... Iri?"

    Ireva swallows, but manages, "Yes." She chokes, and then goes on, "He's right."

    She can only see one path out of this that preserves the coalition she built. One path that saves the bright dream.

    "I... Firi, please." She leans forward to whisper in her sister's ear. "You can save them. All of them. If you kill me now, they'll follow you, we won't lose the Undercity..." She stops to swallow back a sob. She so wanted to see that day of victory. "You can still win this. For me. And if I, if I'm really Anathema, if I'll turn into something like the deathknights, I... Firi, please. I would have died for you, for this, this isn't any different..."

    Firada holds her sister close for a moment, and then sets her to the side, pushing her down into one of the chairs. She eyes the two leaders, and folds her arms. "The last trust my mother ever gave me was to care for her. Ireva is still my sister. Maybe that won't always be true and on that day perhaps I'll do what you call my duty. But for now she is still herself. And if her life's the price you ask for your support then it's too high a price to pay."

    "No!" She could see it even then, all the lines of disaster leading from that moment. So much easier, just to die...

    "Yes." Firada pushes her back down in her chair. "My call, Iri. Trust me, if you can't trust yourself."

    The man makes one last try. "Lady, they deceive, always. You know the teachings as well as I do - better than I do! They can seem - can be - kind, and gentle, and fair-seeming, at first. But it's a lie. Your sister is dead."

    "My judgement." Her voice is unyielding as stone.

    For a long moment, they meet her eyes. And then they sheathe their weapons, and turn and leave. The woman stops at the door to spit on the floor and say, "Malfeas take your oaths, and the Dragons curse your bloodline." The man doesn't speak, but the same condemnation is in his eyes.

    ----------

    "... and that was pretty much the end of the Resistance as a unified force. For now, at least." Eris' tone is still steady, as she picks her way between rock-pools. "And it got worse from there."

    "My sister had me confined to her quarters, for my own protection. The word spread, and soon every temple in the Undercity was calling for my death. Some of them for hers, too, but most of them thought I'd taken control of her mind. Many of her followers stayed loyal to her, at first, but then she led an attack that should've been straightforward, and it went catastrophically wrong. She was wounded; all but two of the others were killed. The whispers began to spread that she was cursed, that the Dragons had withdrawn their favor because of me. And then the two people who'd been in the room with us died - the woman got picked up and taken to the Penitentiary, the man took a fever from an infected wound. Neither should have happened, they were both very careful or they wouldn't have survived so long. So then the whispers grew louder, that I'd laid some evil magic on them, in retaliation for their courage."

    The baiji takes a breath, and pauses. He looks... awkward.

    "... what is it?"

    "... Chosen, don't you know what your anima does?"

    Eris stops, still, on a stretch of stony beach. For a moment she stares out at the horizon, girding herself. "All right. Tell me."

    "The Eclipse caste has the power to sanctify oaths, in the sight of heaven. Any who break them are accursed. When they most need fate and chance to be with them, it will turn against them." The dolphin-god walks on another few steps, and turns to look out at the sea with her. "... I'm sorry."

    "... heh." She laughs, a small painful sound. "This name was more appropriate than I knew, then. Discord..." She shakes her head. The flicker of anguish in her eyes was brief, and quickly suppressed. By an effort of will, she doesn't look southward. "But it's in the past, now." It sounds forced.

    "And the rest, well, I guess you can infer it from our conversation earlier. My sister went out on her own, trying to prove something. I guess... if the curse was still on her that explains why it went so badly. One of her friends was worried about her and came to let me out of her rooms - gave me weapons and coin and food, gave me her daiklave to take to her, and cleared a route for me to sneak out. Firi got captured by a deathknight, I caught him by surprise in the middle of sorcery and managed to take him down."

    "So you said. And the bit you skipped?"

    "... yeah. It wasn't that hard to persuade a Guildsman to smuggle us out of town. He'd been pretty impressed with Firi. And I could... tell he wasn't lying." She shrugs. "Or I thought I could, and it wasn't like I had much choice at that point. We couldn't stay in the city."

    "He did this for you for free?"

    "Of course not. But for Firi's sake, and for a future favor..." She shrugs. "He's a decent man. I don't mind owing him one."

    "And that brought you, in a little coracle, to my bay - with an unconscious Terrestrial in the boat with you. A Terrestrial who's now heading homeward to the Realm. So what will you do now, Eris?"


    Vignette 3: Some Things Never Change
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    On this still summer night, the air is warm and heavy, soft with the taste of rain. The faint fragrance of flowers drifts into the shrine, although it is overwhelmed by the scent of burning incense. The floor and pillars are polished stone, mosaics depicting ancient heroes.

    A woman sits in meditation before the symbols of the Dragons. Her eyes are closed. The lamplight glitters on her shaved head and the folds of her immaculate white robe. Her hands and face are scarred, ragged white lines on pallid skin, still a little sunburned. She's spent more time in the sunlight in the past year than in all her life beforehand.

    She dreams herself back there, often enough - in the deep darkness that became home, and the fearful star-lit streets of the world above. Dreams of raids, of carefully planned attacks, where she wakes with her breath coming fast and the blood pounding in her veins. Dreams of that last night, and the black light, and the despair; when she wakes from those she feels as if her flesh has turned to ice, bound to silence and stillness so complete she can't even shiver. Dreams of a child tagging after her, green eyes wide and watchful, with a shy smile like a flower opening to the sun...

    From those dreams, she wakes with tears on her cheeks.

    Of such little steps are a life's journey made. And if some of those steps are off the edges of cliffs, taking you to someplace you hadn't expected at all - well, it moves you on. Albeit not without injury.

    On the next morning she'll take her oaths and be formally inducted into the Immaculate Order. She's older than most of the other initiates, and without the full breadth of their education, even after the intensive remedial training - but she's also the only one in this group who's faced Anathema before. There had been some challenges, some testing, from the other postulants, but it had all seemed so foolish to her. She's fought the war against the Anathema since she was nine years old; what is schoolboy bickering compared to that?

    Only one flaw, in her perfect dedication; one little secret held back, from the truth she gave them, when she returned to the Isle. One name she does not speak, except on the day once a year when she goes to leave flowers at the grave-marker. Tepet Ireva died in Thorns two years ago, in the Resistance infighting that spurred Firada's departure from the city. Her elder sister may still mourn her, and say prayers for her soul, but the greatest offering she can give is to fight well in the war against Thorns' usurper.

    Firada remembers...

    The air had burned, cool with the sickly glow of witchlight. Around their feet, water had pooled, stagnant and chilly. Ireva had been checking the side corridors, one hand on her shortsword and the other free to climb or steady herself against the crumbling rock walls. Her size had meant she could get into nooks and crannies that Firada couldn't, and she'd always loved exploring.

    There had been the quick thud of footsteps from up ahead, splashing as they entered the shallow water. Too close, already. Ireva had dropped down to guard Firada's back. She'd been able to read the small signs of apprehension in her baby sister - the tension in her shoulders, the faint quiver of the blade in her hand, the momentary flaring of her already-dilated pupils - but to anyone else she would have looked like the epitome of deadly calm.

    Fourteen years old. Firada had been so proud of her. Rarely voiced, of course, but Ireva had understood.

    There had been eight of them, the smallest of them probably twice her little sister's weight - adult men, not girls who'd grown up picking through garbage for food. Rivals from one of the other gangs, most likely; there were plenty down here, looking for ingredients in the old Wyld-tainted areas, to sell to the buyers up above. And there might have been some personal vengeance in the mix as well: the word had gotten around that she and Ireva were Dynast born, and many people in the Undercity hadn't fared well under the old Autocrat, or resented the Realm's failure to send aid.

    She'd felt her stomach drop as she gauged the odds, even as she stepped toward their onrush, chopping at the first one and kicking another in the belly. The close quarters and the slippery footing and her superior training would buy them some time, but not enough. Ten years of survival bought by means she preferred not to think about, and this was how it would end?

    But she'd fought, still, and Ireva had fought at her back, and only gasped out a little when one of the men's spears gashed her arm and another left a long rent down her side. If those ten years had taught her anything, it was this: that life was precious, and every moment of it was joy to be savored, even if death seemed inevitable.

    And then, in that dank dark deep place, where sunlight had never touched, where only pallid fungi had ever grown... there had come a breeze blowing, and the overpowering scent of roses, and a light that was the green of new growth in spring. From the green had sprung roses, white as a story of snow - and each one bearing black thorns, long and deadly sharp.

    She'd understood, of course. The roses and thorns were only the outward manifestation of the greater change within, as if the lifeblood of the world suddenly flowed through her veins; energy and life, like a tree waking and putting out new leaves and flowers after a long winter.

    She had heard her sister laugh, in wild exhilaration stuttering a little with pain and breathlessness, and she'd laughed with her, and leapt again to the attack.

    The rest of her memory wasn't so vivid. The outcome had never really been in doubt, after that point. Except for one moment, afterwards, when her anima had died down, and she'd been bandaging her sister's injuries - from the spears, and from the vicious thorns. Ireva had been smiling at her, through the pain, her green eyes bright with adrenaline and excitement and tears.

    "This changes everything, you know? Chosen of the Dragons..."

    Firada had nodded. "It'll certainly give us an extra edge."

    "More than that. People will rally to you." There had been a little nervousness in her eyes as she looked up, along with the wonder. "I... hope I can do as well. I didn't really believe in it, until now."

    "No matter whether you do or not, you'll always be my little sister, Iri." Firada had hugged her, gently, taking care not to put pressure on the wounds. "I'll always take care of you; some things never change."

    Firada shakes herself from the trance of memory. She can't drift into dreams tonight. And why does she press on these old wounds, now?

    They'd called her the White Rose of Thorns. An old ghost had led her to a tomb and bade her take the jade weapons and armor that rested within, to bear again her panoply in defense of the city she'd loved. She'd been their hope, renewed.

    And people had rallied to her, as Ireva had said they would. As the Resistance became more unified, as she had more resources to work with, as she developed her own skills, she'd been able to accomplish more. They'd re-established contacts in the court. Small strike teams had taken out several Thornguard commanders. Most risky, and cause for wild celebration when they succeeded, they'd launched a successful infiltration and raid of the Shackle Maw Penitentiary. Of course, they'd had losses and setbacks as well, but for the first time in a long time, it had felt like the long slow downward slide into despair had been halted and maybe even turned around.

    Until... no, she can't blame Ireva. She should have been Exalted. It wasn't wrong of her to dream. Was it? Was it really her hope and pride in Firada that opened the way to...

    She'd wrestled with those questions back then, and again outside the city, and again before she made the decision to join the Order. She'd thought of them again in the classes on history and religion.

    She was the only one in her class who'd fought an Anathema. She was also the only one who'd saved one. And been saved...

    She doesn't want to think about that moment of horror, when the world changed, and became a more hideous place. When everything she'd done, everything she'd sacrificed, was made meaningless, in the face of a threat that cared nothing for how much she loved her sister. Some things never change... So she'd promised, but it had seemed like a mockery, a cruel foreshadowing, on that morning.

    And after that everything crumbled. And led in the end to a rainy moonless night, and a necrotech laboratory...

    It's hard to link that world to this one, here in the warm peace of the shrine. But it's important that she not forget, that there is the world they endure still. All the people who put their trust and their hopes in her, in dark Thorns.

    She'd thought the lab was empty. She'd been wrong. She's still not sure how she'd missed seeing him, but she had. Then she'd thought she had a chance; he was a necromancer, after all, not a warrior. She'd been wrong there, as well; his attacks had been impossibly fast, hammering past her defenses, as he chanted a litany of ancient crimes in a language she only half-understood. She'd thought, in the end, coughing up blood as she lay on the floor, that the worst he could do to her was kill her and forge her ghost into soulsteel - and she'd been wrong there, for a third time.

    Why sacrifice an Exaltation, after all, when you could turn it to your own purposes?

    The cold bite of the soulsteel at her wrists, the tearing pain of her wounds, the horror of his quiet words, and the dark light burning around him... she forces her breathing to calm, to stillness. Not to forget though. Never to forget.

    The Anathema had told her what he was planning to do, taunting her. The words and gestures of the spell had been mellifluous and utterly incomprehensible, but she'd seen the ropes of orange and yellow light twining about her, digging into her skin. An odd note of color in the rain-washed dark.

    And then they'd shattered, erupting in a crystal arc of rainbows that burned like acid on her bare skin, as the necromancer had choked, and fallen forward, surprise in his eyes. In the moment before she'd passed out again she'd registered the familiar blade protruding from his chest, and the familiar green eyes burning in a mud-darkened face behind him. Silly girl... you don't thrust with a daiklave...

    When she'd woken up again they'd been on a beach. Leaving Thorns hadn't been so hard, in the end - although she'd never asked her sister the details of what she'd paid, to gain them passage.

    She remembers a farewell, in the wilderness. Her arrival at the Realm garrison, being bundled onto a ship to the Isle that same day. The reunion with her parents, their disbelief and joy. (And the hope in their eyes, that guttered and died when she told them that Ireva was dead. Take care of your little sister, the last thing her mother had ever said to her, before the long separation.) The delight of meeting her twelve-year-old brother and four-year-old sister for the first time. The long days of debriefings, sketching maps of every part of Thorns, lists of contacts in the Resistance, what she'd seen in the Shackle Maw. Standing before a council of Elders and pleading with them to send reinforcements, arguing passionately for the threat the deathknights posed... to no avail.

    She wasn't the heir her parents needed her to be; she'd never even been to primary school. But the story that she'd survived Thorns and slain a deathknight spread, and the Order let it be known that she'd be welcome in their ranks.

    This dawn she'd take her oaths, and begin the training that would give her the weapons she needed, against the horrors that walked Thorns. So she'd chosen. Little steps.

    And if you meet Iri, out in the Threshold? Will you go back on the decision you made in the Undercity, when she begged you to kill her?
    Take care of your little sister.
    For a while she is still, turning over the question in her mind.

    "No," she says eventually. Very quietly, to the silent air. No turning back. But she can hardly protect Iri if she's not there.

    She sinks again into the wordless peace of meditation, feeling the spring-tide surge in her blood. New growth, new life, new beginnings. But some things never change.
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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.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Presenting, the magnificent and inimitable daughter of Sesus Braga

    Versino of Malfeas: Casteless Lunar



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    Act 1; The Way Things Were
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    There are many strange entertainments in the Demon City. The fleshly debaucheries of the Street of Golden Lanterns, the magnificent music of the Screaming Cathedral and the luxuriant tastes of the Boulevard of Candied Nightmares. Beyond those famous wonder lie a thousand more theatres, taverns and houses of sin and pleasure scattered through layer after layer of the fallen metropolis. The jaded Solars of the First Age could always find something to do in Malfeas, for better or worse

    Our story, however, begins at one of the less wondrous sights of the city, at least by comparison to so many great vistas that shine in Ligier’s light: the bar of the Glorious Shogunate Operatic Theatre. The grand marble room was as resplendent as ever, the great stained glass windows across the room ensuring it remained well lit. However, for the moment the entire room seemed empty and quiet. There was a performance taking place upon the stage, and that had the attention of the patrons to a one. It would not be until later that the demons spilled out, demanding refreshments of various sorts before the second act begun.

    And as ever, the Honourable Shadows were ready. In this case, it was one of the proprietor Vahliz’s mortal servants who would tend to their needs: serving various brews and mixing them as needed. A rarity in the Demon City, mortal servants being used for so simple and mundane a purpose, and that alone was enough to make the bar intriguing to those of the First Circle who made up the majority of the Theatre’s patronage. Which, of course, was Vahliz’s intent.

    The server; a young brown haired girl was seated behind the old faded silver pine bar-top, humming gently to herself as she tapped her fingers on the wood, casting the occasional gaze outward towards the theatre door. She’d snuck into the backstage a little earlier, whilst the Firmin and Chrysogonae were starting to rehearse the opening symphony, and now the tune was stuck in her head. The Shogunate was one of the few theatres not to employ angyalkae for the task of creating music, and something about the combination of steel harp and soft voices carried through for the girl. As Demonic arts went, it was one she could and did appreciate.

    She occasionally dreamed of joining the performers on the stage, winning renown that way, though she could not match most demons in terms of song or dance. Still, her imagination persisted in showing her visions of herself twirling perfectly across the stage in a magnificent dress of verdigris and silver blended in swirls, taking the lead role before a filled house, voice enough to banish the Silent Wind with a single word. Dreams have power to them, and the girl had yet to abandon hope. She knew how much worse her life could be than this.

    However, her quiet wishing was soon interrupted by a familiar baritone. The faded grey image of a massive man in a robe with a ragged beard stained with unchanging blood strode into the bar, gesturing imperiously towards her. “Girl! We need two more barrels of bonewine from the basement for our guests tonight. Bring them up, double time!” Command given, he glanced around the bar, taking a swift mental stock before adding a second request. ”And pick up some thanachvil while you’re down there! We’ll need more before the evening’s out”

    Girl sighed silently to herself as her thoughts of the stage shattered with the interruption. With swiftness born of practice, she turned towards the cellar door she’d walked past so many times before. alighting from her stool and trudging down the black marble steps of the theatre one by one, into the dark and the cold beneath the bar and calling out behind her by route, honouring the ritual. “Yes, Master Kaneko.”

    The ghost did not seem satisfied at this however, drifting towards the doorway and calling down the stairs at his recalcitrant charge, voice far more enthusiastic and cheery than it should have been. “And pray to His Lordship whilst you’re at it! Is that too much to ask? Or should I find Sotara and make him a gift of a young strong body that doesn’t do all the work it could?”

    Girl grimaced in the darkness as she felt her way through the unlit cavern where they stored their alcohol: the old Icewalker always threatened her with the Decanthrope’s touch when he was in a mood. The only reason it still worked on her was because those creatures were truly frightening, even for demons. Most others, even at the Second Circle, would simply kill you for a mistake. It was rare to find one that could... do that to you. She shook her head, even as she crouched to pick up the first barrel, calling up towards the faint light she could barely see from here. “No, sir, Right away sir.“

    She groaned a little as she hoisted the mighty wooden thing onto her back, the movements routine now, though still something of a strain. The barrel was twice her height, and great in girth, but she was used to it by now. As she started to make her way back towards the stairs, with nothing but the distant light above to focus on, the girl’s thoughts turned towards introspection. She wondered sometimes how many other children of her age had to deal with labour such as this, children in Creation. Did they have an easier time of it? Were they stronger than her? Or did they have to do such work at all?

    How would she know? She’d grown up in Malfeas after all. The closest she’d come to seeing another human were the demons taking those roles upon the stage. All she knew was Kaneko and the figures that passed through the bar. Some were generous, in their strange and arcane ways, some were cruel, and very simple, but that was all she had to learn from in terms of behaviour.

    And in every way, her Malfean ‘countrymen’ were different to mortals. Even she knew that.

    Her foot upon the first stone, Girl remembered her ghostly supervisor’s ‘request’. Quietly she started to intone words to herself as she ascended, one stair at a time, the bonewine heavy on her back. “Glory to Vahliz, Glory to Erembour. May the Ebon Dragon flow over us all this evening, and give Master Kaneko something to do other than yell at me.The last part was sub-vocalized, a little secret between her and the great Demon Lords she served. The stairs groaning as she went, Girl resumed the chant, voice carrying just enough fervour to assuage Kaneko as she returned to her monotonous task. ”Glory to Vahliz, Glory to Erembour. Glory to Vahliz...”

    Act 2; A Long Way Still To Go
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    The faintest trace of the Emerald Sun lingered, distant and faded green light struggling to pass beyond the sand that always blew across the Endless Desert. The one place in all of existence where you could see the vista of Ligier so weak, seemingly falling behind the horizon, set against the darkening starless sky of the Demon Realm’s exterior. A poet might have been able to do something with the image, turned it into a metaphor for the state of Malfeas and the Yozis..

    Even without that however, it was a beautiful sight, which made it a bit of a shame that Girl hadn’t bothered to look behind her since she’d left the demon city. Though even a poet would probably understand it, given her situation.

    She didn’t understand Cecelyne, not truly, but the girl knew the basics of how the Endless Desert worked. Five days trip, demons are alerted of it in advance, and walk to get to Creation in response to mortal summons. Thus when she’d seen an angyalkae patron turn glassy eyed and exit the bar, she’d seized her chance: downed a flask of Mambre-Mist and grabbed a barrel of bonewine before making a run out of the door, calling out about stocktaking and that she’d return shortly. The few patrons still at the bar were too drunk to question the child, and her masters were both upstairs, at Vahliz’s private table alongside his most respected patrons. No one would inform him for a few hours yet, which was more than enough time for his errant ex-slave..

    And now here she was, trudging across the desert sands, sipping the bitter bonewine from the barrel strapped to her back to stay hydrated. A gust of wind blew sand into her eyes, as in in rebuke at her escape. Girl rubbed them briefly, the last flecks of silver slowly draining away with the water, which she wiped upon her tunic. Soon enough, grinning fit to bust, the child resumed her trek, hopefully still ahead of the demon whose ticket to Creation she was about to steal. She wasn’t entirely sure what that would entail, or how she’d know the gateway once she found it, but she was sure it would be something she could work with. She’d work it out once she got there, and then, she’d be in Creation

    Creation! The word running through her mind alone was enough to make Girl want to cry out thanks, to the Yozis or the gods, she didn’t care. She was going home, to the world mortals were supposed to live in. Lit by the golden Sun who cast down the Yozis so long ago, ruled by the Exalted who fought at his side… the prospect of it alone was thrilling enough. Her mind ran through all the places she’d heard demons speak about: Meru, the Heptagram, Xel-Cas, the Imperial City, Deheleshen… she couldn’t keep track of all the names, but she’d heard their descriptions. Each sounded better than the last, more fantastical than the last, and she was going to see them all!

    The thought of it made the girl happy in more ways than she could easily describe. The thought of meeting others like her, having the freedom to do what she wanted without some Demon barking orders at her… it was beyond belief. The prospect of escape was more intoxicating than any kind of alcohol. She took one final sip of the bonewine, savouring the familiar taste, before continuing her trek outward, loud voice ringing out over the desert as she sung the start of an operetta she’d heard part of last season, shifting the words towards her own ends.

    "March on, March on
    I can not stop, I know
    March on, March on
    There’s five days still to go."






    The girl had been marching for quite a while. It was hard to keep track of time with nothing around you but desert, a black cloudless sky, and the occasional sandstorm. Now and then she’d had to rest a bit, laying down with the barrel on her back, and hoping that’d give her some protection against predators. Still, she knew she had to keep up some kind of pace, or else the angyalkae might get there first. Even whilst laying down, she tried to edge slowly forward, crawling like some strange half-wooden turtle before eventually getting to her feet once again and resuming her slow tread outwards towards the edge of Cecelyne, unshod feet blistering upon the unending sand. Where once the desert had seemed cool and refreshing against the heat of the Green Sun, now the air itself seemed to be humid, hostile, a thousand times more stifling even without a sun to light her way.

    She felt tired now. She had no idea of how long she’d been going, but it certainly felt a lot longer than five days and the half-drunk bonewine on her back felt like a load rather than a comfort. It was slowing her down now, she knew that. She hesitated for a moment before bringing her hands up. With fumbling, reluctant fingers, she undid the straps that held the hefty wood in place. In an instant, the mighty barrel fell to the desert sands, a cloud of black steam arising as the noxious smelling liquid evaporated on contact with Cecelyne.

    The girl looked at the cloud as it slowly rose into the still dark sky before turning back and starting to walk once again. It didn’t seem to have made much difference though. None of her past vigour was with her now, none of that strength, that enthusiasm or adrenaline. All she could feel was tiredness, heat, and dizziness from the alcohol. In spite of herself, her shoulders sagged, her pace remained slow and her head drooped.

    She was close to death. She knew that, on some level. She hadn’t eaten since she left the city, and it wasn’t as though she’d been well fed before that point. The bonewine had kept her going when it came to liquid, but that was gone now, and that much alcohol had left her head spinning. It was an effort to keep walking in a straight line.

    The child paused for a few seconds, kneeling and breathing deeply, the desert’s heat seeming to intensify as she placed a hand to her forehead. The world around her slowly spun as the wind howled, catching the scent of regret and self-doubt. For a moment, she considered lying down and simply resting, letting it all wash away. She’d feel better after a sleep, wouldn’t she? It was the logical move. Feel refreshed, ready to continue on...

    Although that meant there was no chance she’d be ahead of her target. No chance she could hijack the summoning, get into Creation. And if there’s one task you shouldn’t do in Cecelyne, it was break the rules. She’d probably get picked up by Priests, or the Argosy, brought back to the theatre, punished, branded, killed… she couldn’t even think the end result through any more. This would all have been for nothing.

    Taking a deep breath of desert air, the nameless girl rose to her full height and continued onwards, into the winds that seemed to rise around her, in one last act of defiance. Against Kaneko, Vahliz, Cecelyne and every instinct that was telling her to fall over and accept death as her escape. Death wasn’t good enough. She was stronger than that, better than that. She had earned her return to Creation, and she would have it.

    Can’t be much farther now. It can’t be.

    Act 3; The Curtain Falls (and Rises)
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    The girl could barely keep her eyes open at this point, her gaze bleary and eyes wet from the occasional grain of sand that blew in before she could raise her arm.The wind hadn’t stopped, but in many ways, that was a blessing. The wind gave her something to focus on, something to fight against whilst surrounded by unchanging darkness and desolation. She had no idea how long she’d been going, but knew it was slightly less than five days. The Endless Desert would release her at that point, and not a second before.

    You don’t break the rules of Cecelyne.

    She was too tired to notice the faint trace of gold that had started to emerge in the distant horizon, heralding the land before her. All the girl knew now was wind, sand, darkness and a single impulse that had driven her this far and stuck with her still. Keep going.. Another massive storm of sand was blowing towards her once again. Sighing, the girl wedged her eyes tightly closed even as she raised her hand, walking through the cutting, all enveloping sands entirely blind.

    Slowly though, the wind started to die. It fell away as she continued. Soon, it was just her in the darkness and quiet, alone.

    Have I...

    The sound of breaking glass brought the traveller back to her senses. She could recognize the smell of alcohol as well. Rubbing her eyes gently, she opened them, blinking a little at first as she adjusted to the light.

    Somehow, she was in a marble room. It reminded her a little of the bar; complete with the stained glass windows, but there was no light outside. Instead, this place was lit by strange burning lanterns in many colours: some green, some red and some a striking, wondrous gold. There were people here too, not ghosts or demons in fine dresses, but people: human beings in various attire, and of many different shapes and sizes. Some wore dull faded clothes, some wore bright and shining robes and a good number wore nothing at all. Many were holding glasses, or lounging close to one another, reclining upon soft furnishings.

    A party. Even amidst the mortals, some things still stayed the same.

    The girl grinned widely at all of them as she looked about the room, weary, barely able to stand but triumphant nonetheless. She had done it! Against all the odds, somehow, she’d made it through, into Creation. The shocked looks of the figures surrounding her barely registered to the traveller, their state of undress not worth commenting on. She didn’t even notice that they were unanimously staring at her. That wasn’t the thing she cared about. This was the world of her ancestors, the world of humanity, and she was now truly, unquestionably free. She had won.

    She might have said something to the assembled people, but it was then that the Silver Light found her. She couldn’t explain it; she was barely conscious as it begun. The Light took her, entered her soul and reworked her, restored her as it read her story upon the growing thread of Fate that had begun to spin with those last few steps across the border of Creation. The light filled the room, blinding even the girl at first. All she could hear was a faint, distant laugh, that of a middle aged woman, hearty and good natured. She had the feeling that this was a gift from someone, though what was happening was rather lost on her.

    In a few seconds, it was done, and she felt… better. Refreshed, reinvigorated. She glanced around the room for a second, finally registering the faces of those around her. They seemed… shocked. And somewhat angry. She wasn’t sure why, so the girl tried to smile at them, hoping it might make them a little less hostile.

    It was then that the cries started: the sort of exclamations that generally herald death and destruction. Still a little taken aback, the girl took a step away from the slowly rising mob of angry people, and felt a hand upon hers, tugging her away. She looked up to see a younger figure in a robe made of a material she didn’t recognize, his green eyes intent, emotional, worried… but not angry. Understanding, she followed his lead, footfalls quick and able to keep pace with her new friend, as they vanished outside, into the night, and the deep woods that were not too far distant.



    The air was different here. Cool, refreshing, and the darkness did not carry the hint of fear that the Ebon Dragon's presence brought. A part of it was a strange silver light that seemed to be following her still, but looking up, the girl could see stars burning triumphantly, unfaded, eternal, unlike the stars of Malfeas. Were the circumstances better, she could have spent hours looking up at that night sky. For now though, her new green friend was dragging her along swiftly and the traveller soon was at his heels once again, trying to work out where he was taking her.

    Soon enough though, she knew. The two jumped down a hole into the ground as one, her light helping illuminate the way, before her friend stopped, looking around. The traveller could feel it too; the power in this place, hidden, flowing past them. She didn't understand what it meant, but she could feel it none the less.

    The helpful man said something, with she didn't quite understand, but the intent was clear on his voice. Reassuring, comforting. She nodded, smiling cheerily at him, before turning back towards the doorway that lay ahead of the two of them. If they wanted to be safe from the angry party-people, going in here seemed like a smart idea. The man took the first step across the threshold, and the travelling girl followed in his wake, eyes casting about the strange stone ruins as they went.


    Personality
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    Versi is hard to depress, no matter what circumstances bring her way. She enjoys the physical challenge of combat, but prefers to avoid it: she has no grudge with any of the Creation Born and would much rather spend her days wandering Creation, begging for money and food whilst she sees all the wonders of the world. And to someone who spent thirteen years of life a slave to demons, almost everything is wondrous to some degree. She is still not exactly brilliant at talking to people: having spent many years expected to serve in silence, but she still approaches each individual as something new and wondrous. It is easy to win Versi as a friend.

    However, Braga has instilled some caution and sense of the realities of the second age in Versi. She knows that people are not all kind or helpful, and that advice has made her somewhat less than naive around her kin. The Wyld Hunt and definition of Exalted as Anathema still baffle her however, given how little it fits into the basics of Creation history she'd heard in Malfeas. Given the Hunt's unyielding nature, Versi's determined that she needs to do something about it, but until she can understand what has lead the Exalted host to this, she can't think what else to do.

    She does not know much about the Exalted, but between her vague lore and Braga's words, Versi knows that she is one. She approaches this state with a mix of joy and horrified guilt. The strength, the speed, the ability to wield essence... all of it is miraculous and something she enjoys, but Versi is sure this can not have been meant for her. She is not worthy of being one of the great defenders of Creation, and has no idea what she's supposed to do in that context. For now, she follows Braga's lead, looking to learn from the Dragon Blood. After all, Mr. Braga helped her, and is Exalted himself. That is a good place to start, no?.


    Character sheet:
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    Name: Versino of Malfeas, the Traveller
    Exalt Type and Caste: Casteless Lunar

    Spirit Animal: Scarlet Crane
    Anima: Silver light twinkling in its eyes, the Crane looks down upon the battlefield, seemingly seeing everything within its purview. Its folded wings are a blanket of deep crimson amidst the growing silver of the anima banner before the Crane finally spreads its wings to their full span, resplendent in its power: majestic scarlet glow melding with the pure white moonlight of the Lunar Exalted
    Tell: Versi's brown hair is now interspersed with a faint stripe of bright red feathers running down the back-centreline of her head, and bright enough to glow in the sun. These mirror the distinctive plumage of the Scarlet Crane. In her bird form, Versi's feathers remain scarlet, but most show a trace of silver: running through them from first to last in a pattern that can only be seen in just the right light.

    Motivation: Hear an extensive account of the history of the First Age, given by a trustworthy figure who witnessed it.


    Attributes
    {table]Strength |●●●●●
    Dexterity |●●●●●
    Stamina |●●●●[/table]

    {table]Charisma|●●●●
    Manipulation|●●
    Appearance|●● [/table]

    {table]Perception|●●●
    Intelligence|●●●●
    Wits|●●●●[/table]

    Abilities
    {table]Archery|●●●●●|+●●● Essence Weaponry
    [F]Martial Arts|●●●●●|+●●● Parrying
    Melee||
    Thrown||
    War||[/table]

    {table]Integrity|●|
    Performance|●●|+● Opera
    Presence||
    Resistance|●●|
    [F]Survival|●|+● Malfeas[/table]

    {table]Craft||
    Investigation||
    Lore|●|
    Medicine||
    Occult|●●●|+●● Demons[/table]

    {table]Athletics|●●●
    Awareness|●●●
    Dodge|●
    Larceny|●●
    Stealth|●[/table]

    {table]Bureaucracy|
    Linguistics|●●
    Ride|
    Sail|
    Socialize|[/table]

    Backgrounds, Artifacts and Equipment:
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    Backgrounds:
    Artifact ●●●: First Age Small Concussive Essence Cannon (+Motonic Disruptor Lense). The big find Versi and Braga made on their expedition into the ruins near his uncle's house; the rather sizeable gun is notably taller than the diminutive Lunar herself, but flies through the air aligning itself carefully at her slightest touch. Versi has a great fondness for the weapon: she has trained in it when possible since its discovery and has named it Skycutter.
    Manse ●: Located father to the east, near Linowan, this was as far in that direction as the duo ever dared to venture. It is a pleasant little estate, that Versi vaguely recalled from some far distant past, nestled gently behind a small trickle of a tributary. She and Braga lingered here for a time, before word of Realm Patrols in the Linowan area made them relocate west via forest ways, hoping to avoid them. It's granted Versi a Lullabye Stone, which she keeps affixed to Skycutter.
    Artifact ●●●: Moonsilver Superheavy Plate: Versi's magic makes her armour usually appear to be made of Blue Jade: the better to help her masquerade as Braga's daughter. She has practiced wearing it at length, and is adept at using essence subtly to manage the issue of potential fatigue.

    Artifacts and Equipment:
    ●●● First Age Small Concussive Essence Cannon
    Simple light green robe
    Smile


    Charms
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    Knacks
    Towering Beast Form
    Internal Form Mastery
    Hybrid Body Rearrangement

    Dexterity
    Second Dexterity Excellency
    Wasp Sting Blur
    Twin-Fang Technique

    Golden Tiger Stance
    Wary Swallow Method
    Ferocious Guardian Beast Stance
    Heron Sheds Rain

    Instinct Driven Beast Movement

    Stamina
    Ox Body Technique x2
    Second Stamina Excellency
    Relentless Lunar Fury
    Durable Battle-Mind
    Hide-Toughening Essence
    Halting the Scarlet Flow

    Intelligence
    Second Intelligence Excellency
    Terrestrial Circle Sorcery
    Disguise of the New Face

    Charisma
    Sacred Guardian Renewal [Valor]

    Martial Arts
    Air Dragon Style
    Air Dragon Sight


    Attacks:
    Skycutter Small Concussive Essence Cannon
    {table]Speed: 4 | Acc: 14 | Damage: 10/3B[p] | Range: 75 | Rate: 1 | Attune: 3[/table]

    {table]Attack|Speed|Acc|Damage|Parry|Rate
    Punch:| 5 | +11 | +5B | 8 | Rate: 3
    Feet:| 5 | 0 | +8B | 6 | Rate: 2
    Clinch:| 6 | 0 | +5B | - | Rate: 1[/table]

    Dodge DV: 5

    Mental Defenses:
    Dodge MDV: 7
    Parry MDV: 3

    Soak:
    Bashing: 19B (25B)
    Lethal: 17L (23L)
    Aggravated: 15A

    Hardness: 10L/10B

    Health:
    -0 [X]
    -1 [X][X][X][X]
    -2 [X][X][X][X][X][ ]
    -4 [ ]
    -X [ ]

    Dying [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]


    Intimacies
    Sesus Braga (Admiration, tinged with guilt)
    Creation (Wonderment)
    Skycutter (Love)
    First Age History (Curiosity)
    Wyld Hunt (Confusion)
    Malfeas (Wariness)
    Vahliz (Fear)
    Jade Lotus (Friendly Concern)

    Forming Intimacies:
    Smile (Friendship) [X][X][]
    Chuzei Zhou (Respect) [X][][]
    Lookshy (Loyalty) [X][][]

    Diminishing Intimacies
    Sesus Braga [X][X][]

    Languages:
    Native: Old Realm
    High Realm
    Rivertongue

    Virtues:
    Compassion ●●●
    Conviction ●●●
    Temperance ●●
    Valour ●●●[●][●]

    Virtue Flaw:
    The Curse of the Foolish Sparrow/Valour
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    The Foolish Sparrow does not plan, does not consider, does not think. She flies where she will, enjoying the world's simple beauty, and acting as seems best for her. She has no concept of danger or consequences: after all, she can simply fly away from the world should she so chose. She is free, and acts the part, the subtleties of the world lost on her.
    Partial Control: When beset by predators, even the Sparrow knows to fight. With partial control, the Sparrow is capable of recognizing that actions have consequences, and endeavours to avoid obvious danger. She is still incapable of sticking to any plan more elaborate than 'do this' or 'don't do that', but she knows enough not to shift shape before the Wyld Hunt, for instance.


    Limit: [][][][][] [][][][][]

    Permanent Willpower: ●●●●● ●●●●●
    Temporary Willpower: [][][][][] [][X][X][X][X]

    Essence:
    Permanent: ●●●
    Personal: 2/23
    Peripheral: 52/52
    11 motes committed, Anima is at 17 mote level

    Bonus Points and XP:
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    Bonus Points: Total: 0/36bp
    Dexterity +●● = 6bp
    Essence +● = 10bp
    Willpower +●●●●● = 5bp
    Valor +●●, Conviction +●, Compassion +● = 4bp
    Archery +●● = 4bp
    Martial Arts +●● = 2bp
    Intelligence +● = 3bp
    Speciality: Martial Arts, Parry +●●●, Survival Malfeas +● = 2 BP

    Total: 36bp

    Experience Points. 46/94xp

    Terrestrial Circle Sorcery (Disguise of the New Face)

    Ferocious Guardian Beast Stance
    Wary Swallow Method
    Heron Sheds Rain

    Instinct Driven Beast Movement

    Speciality: Occult: Demons +●● = 6 XP


    Meeting the Patrons
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    It was a packed house, the curtain falling to the raucous and enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. Maheka Chay always went over well with the patrons of the Shogunate: a victory for an Akuma in a dramatic battle, a senseless death for a foe of the Yozis, the comic foolishness of Chay and her friends in letting the witty Damaj have free access to the heights of Lookshy! Laugh after laugh was practically guaranteed, and thus it remained a regular tentpoll of the Shadows' scheduled. Many demons were surprised to find out that the operetta had originally been penned by a mortal: one of the Lookshyans as a serious tragedy, a few short years after the events within had transpired.

    Of course, that only made it funnier.

    And tonight, it was said, Damaj himself was in the audience! Supposedly the old servant of Jacint had rented a private box and was watching the tale of his early life alongside some Dynast he had brought to Hell for an extended negotiation. Half the audience had been trying to spot him, but to no avail. If he was here, the old Akuma liked his privacy. He had too much power and too many First Circle hangers on for his own comfort whilst in Malfeas.

    Girl knew the truth, of course. She'd been given brief relief from serving at the crowded bar: Master Kaneko for once attending to that duty himself. Instead, the Opera's sole mortal servant had been specifically instructed to take the bottle of sparkling red chalcanth to Box Number Three. That alone was as good as Vahliz writing her a note to confirm who was in attendance. She'd danced this dance before

    She stood in the hallway, by the boxes. The little mouse of the Shogunate took a deep breath before stepping through the drapes. She always felt a tinge of unease stepping into the Theatre Proper. It was darker than the Halls, where she usually worked. All of those were lit by stained glass windows, but here, there was the faint light of a collection of crystal spheres, spinning above them all in tribute to the Principle of Hierachy, and casting a faint silver-white light upon the stage below.

    The box was small, the floor covered with soft velvet that Girl would've loved the feel of, if her focus hadn't been on the patron. He'd turned around to meet her at the oh so slight rustle of the drapes, one immaculate eyebrow raising in appraisal. His eyes were twisted, catlike and half green; with essence shadows running through them. The girl knew better than to turn away, though.

    There was no Dynast, no negotiating partner. She knew that without looking. Just one old man, who looked young unless you saw his eyes, stained with essence and centuries alike. His black hair was sleek, and he wore gossamer thin brown and red silk robes, cut in the Lookshyan style but with with shining green metal trim in the latest fashion of the more cultured classes of Malfeas. He dressed, in short, like an Infernalist most likely should... in complete contrast with the white and gold hat that perched still upon his head: a near comical accessory when set against the rest of his appearance.

    It was strange for Girl, looking across at Damaj by theatre light. She hadn't seen another human before this point. He was... like her. But not. Very not. She could feel the power that flowed towards him and around him, even in this box. Akuma, Exalted, Chosen of Hell. That made things a mortal different, in ways she knew but couldn't define. Combined, they made him more like a demon than most inhabitants of Creation.

    Still, what was she? Who'd never seen the Golden Sun and knew no other world? Did you even count as human if you were born in Malfeas?

    The two of them locked gazes for a while. Girl never knew how long it lasted: time seemed to freeze in moments like this. Finally though, the akuma huffed, returning his attention to the stage, content for the moment. Seizing her opportunity, the girl deposited the plate; complete with glass and faintly vibrating red bottle down at the table by the Damaj's side before bowing to her master before withdrawing back through the curtain.

    She bustled off quickly, making back for the safety of the bar and doing her best not to visibly shake. Fear always excited the bar patrons, which wasn't a good thing. Damaj always did that to her, just stared intently each time she visited, always looking away unsatisfied. And he took a little longer every time. It still disturbed the girl, more than any remarks from raucous demons usually did. The child had asked Kaneko about it once, but the old ghost just chuckled that loud and coarse chuckle of his, and told her not to worry about it until she was older.

    That wasn't much comfort.

    Girl hummed a little to herself as she descended the great stairs, one of the stanzas from the final scene. She knew them all by this point, the benefits of many nights listening to drunken demons butcher the the old songs in re-enactment. She didn't even mouth the words, but the young one thought them as hard as any prayer as she scurried down the stairs towards the sanctum of her bar.

    Look down, my foe. Behold what you have done
    Look on, Damaj. For I have truly won.


    Smiley's Sonata
    Spoiler
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    Du-rum de-rah. Du-rum de-rah. Duh-re de-rah-ha-ha-ha...

    The stroke of the violin drifted out over the dark of the night and the star-filled Yanaze: a slow, mournful beat of four as the mighty riverboat drifted down the great artery of the Scavenger Lands. The leaves rustled across the riverbank, the night wind blowing cold as the boat continued its steady procession downstream. If it wasn't for the brightness of the heavens you might have thought the vessel had slipped through into the Underworld whilst no one was looking, things were so quiet

    Versi looked up from the water, glancing about at first, trying to see the source of the sound, before once again turning down towards the shadowed Yanaze, watching the ripples caused by her feet as she moved them through the liquid. The water still was curious to her, even now. She had spent month upon river after river, but that did not compensate for years spent without such things, and liquid being something confined to bottles or stories of Kimbery's wrath. Water flowing through Earth, the elements in quiet, natural balance. The sight might not be beautiful exactly, but it was pleasant at least. Nice.

    The music came again, the melody haunting, each note lilting a touch in the night air. It was almost like a dirge, but somehow, looking up at the silver dots in the sky, Versi found something different in the strokes of the bow. She could hear the gentle wind, the slow but mighty river, the rustle of the leaves in the distance. The tune seemed to be an overhanging melody to the river itself...

    She had never heard something quite like that before.

    Prising herself up to the deck and shaking her feet to dry them a little, the little Lunar started to walk the deck of the boat, heading towards the bow and the twanging strings. The musician stood there, looking out along the Yanaze as though he were about to see the Inland Sea, seemingly stroking his violin without effort. He was a slightly tall man: once muscular, but tone starting to fade along with the black of his hair. He wore a dark green tunic with a navy blue cloak and had a wide brimmed straw hat covering his head. He looked a little like a statue to Versi. Not a particular statue, he just had the sort of face that you'd expect to see rendered in stone in an old manse.

    He must have heard Versi's approach, because he turned towards the girl as she drew close, making a few final strokes to draw the piece to a proper conclusion before stopping with a flourish, withdrawing his bow and bowing to his fellow traveller with a grin. The two just looked at each other for a second, each seemingly expecting the other to speak first, before the musician pointed towards his white-wood violin, smiling as he asked a quiet question of his newfound friend. "Do you like the music?"

    "Yes! A lot!" Versi beamed at the man, nodding enthusiastically as she gestured towards his violin, words swift and full of happiness. "I haven't heard it before, but here in the dark, with the stars and the moon lighting the night sky..."

    "It fits rather well, doesn't it?" The player winked before waving a hand around them: first at the shadowed riverbank and then the darkened sky, smiling gently to himself. Soon enough though, his focus turned back to Versi as he nodded; answering an unspoken question. "It's mine. I wrote it myself, a long time ago. It's probably older than you are, by now. Gods, I'm getting old." The violinist chuckled a touch bitterly at the confession; not something he needed to be reminded of. He looked out across the bow as he continued. "I came up with it after leaving my homeland. So I could remember it when I played at roadside inns and suchlike. A mental keepsake, if you want, something to remind me of what things were like back then."

    "I'm... sorry." Versi frowned, honestly apologetic but not sure what to say to that. She hadn't expected it to be so personal for the musician. She took a seat upon the bow by the musician's side, looking out towards the horizon along with her new friend before continuing with a question. "Do you miss your home?"

    It took the violinist a few seconds to answer that, but when his response came, there was no ambiguity to it. "Yes." He turned towards the young girl, but his eyes seemed distant now, the traveller's mind turning back to his own childhood. "Not all the time, but nights like this make me think back. Running the walls, just having grabbed a handful of white roses from the palace gardens, the guards getting lost in the darkness. Or just relaxing with my family, watching people paint and picnic in the open air by torchlight. And the fresh sea air from the docks, as sailors sung shanties whilst they worked."

    The old traveller looked up at the stars, sighing slightly to himself and muttering. "Dragons forgive me, it's been too long."

    The two sat there in silence for a while, the water and wind being the only sound left. Eventually though, the young girl broke the silence, slowly, hesitantly "Why don't you go back?" It seemed a very legitimate question to Versi, though she suspected she was missing something. She gestured out into the distance towards the horizon and Creation's centre. "We're going to a port city, you'll find ships there that go wherever you want. You could go home if you want to. It might take a while, but you could go back, couldn't you?"

    The old musician looked down at her with the air of one too tired to explain himself. "Let's... not talk of that tonight, little one. I've had enough gloom for one lifetime." He readied his violin and bow, chuckling as he started to think aloud. "Now, would you like a proper song? Something cheery: like Chink of Jade? Five Maids of the Morning? Jorst's Anthem?"

    Versi frowned: she knew enough to tell that the traveller had diffused her question, that she'd not be able to get an explanation from him about what kept him out here. The question of why he didn't return home would remain a mystery. But that wasn't the violinist's fault. He was trying to do the right thing. And she could respect that. Plus, she didn't think he'd lied to her. He really couldn't return back to his city for some reason, and was stuck out here like it or not.

    And all he had was his memories.

    Looking up, the tiny traveller smiled gently at the old musician, shaking her head with a glitter of moonlight in her eyes. "I liked the Memoriam. It makes me think of home too. Can you please play it again?"

    The violinist's eyes widened a little at that analogy. He took a deep breath, thinking for a minute before sighing and finally nodding, grinning a little to his sole audience member. "All right, little girl. If you say so." Bending down, he grabbed his bow for a final time, straightening his violin and passing the bow along it one again along the familiar lines.

    The gentle notes of the Memoriam started to play once more as the boat drifted along into the darkness, towards the faint far-off lights of Lookshy. In time, the music faded into the two's consciousness and they started to dream, minds turning outward. The musician, working his violin without thought, was once again running the streets of his lost city with friends now gone, laughing and loving every moment once again, lost in nostalgia for better times.

    And Versi... Versi dreamed of sitting upon a mighty wooden boat, drifting down a gentle river in peaceful shade, with a beautiful tune lingering in her ears.

    What else would she dream about?
    Last edited by Inspector Valin; 2016-01-25 at 05:14 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Maugan Ra's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Name: Kharal Zhou
    Aspect: Fire
    Anima: When Zhou goes all out, his fiery aura takes the form of a great Phoenix, it's beating wings setting everything ablaze.

    Motivation: Defend and uphold the interests and beliefs of Lookshy, and exemplify its virtues through personal courage and honour.

    Attributes
    Spoiler
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    Physical:
    Strength ***
    Dexterity *****
    Stamina ****

    Social:
    Charisma ****
    Manipulation **
    Appearance ***

    Mental
    Perception **
    Intelligence **
    Wits ***

    Abilities (Specializations +)
    Spoiler
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    Linguistics ***
    Lore **
    Occult *
    Stealth *
    Thrown

    Awareness ***
    Craft
    [F]Integrity *****
    Resistance ***
    [F]War *****

    [A]Athletics *****
    [A]Dodge *****
    [A]Melee ***** (Daiklaives ***)
    [A]Presence *****
    [A]Socialize ****

    Bureaucracy *
    Investigation
    Larceny
    Martial Arts *** (Unarmed **)
    Sail

    Archery ***
    [F] Medicine ***
    Performance *
    Ride *
    Survival

    Backgrounds, Artifacts and Equipment:
    Spoiler
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    Backgrounds:
    Arsenal *** (Provides a set of Jade Hearthstone bracers and three dots worth of hearthstones, all issued from the private stocks of Gens Kharal)
    Artifact ** (Sword and armour)
    Backing ** (Seventh Legion. Zhou holds the rank of Chozei, roughly equivalent to a platoon commander.)
    Breeding ***
    Connections *** (Seventh Legion)
    Connections ** (Gens Kharal)
    Resources ***

    Artifacts and Equipment:
    Artifact: Red Jade Reaper Daiklaive Aurora
    Location: Sheathed at Zhou's waist usually
    Stats: Speed 4, Accuracy +4, Damage +7L/2, Defensive +1, Rate 3, Tags: O
    Description: Aurora is Zhou's heirloom Daiklaive, presented to him by his father when he graduated into the Seventh Legion. It is a long, elegant blade formed of red jade, and those who look closely can see flames continuously burning beneath its polished surface.

    Artifact: Jade Reinforced Breastplate
    Location: Usually worn
    Stats: Soak +10L/+9B, Hardness 8L/8B, Mobility -1, Fatigue 0

    Artifact: Jade Hearthstone bracers
    Location: Usually worn, and issued by Gens Kharal.
    Effects: Provide a +3 bonus on dodge attempts, and reduce the speed of hand-to-hand and ranged attacks by -1.

    Stone: Jewel of the Flying Heart (In Daiklaive setting, rating 1)) [Oadenol's Codex]
    Effects: Increases Dodge DV by one, and adds a dice to attacks with edged weapons.

    Stone: The Monkey Stone (In bracers, rating 2) [Main rule book]
    Effects: Reduces difficulty of athletics rolls by 1, doubles climbing speed and jumping distance.

    Resources: 3
    Zhou collects a wage from the legion and his family, so long as he doesn't disgrace their names. Most of this he saves.

    Charms
    Spoiler
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    Ability

    Athletics:
    First Athletics Excellency
    Effortlessly Rising Flame (1m reflexive to instantly rise from a prone position)

    Falling Star Maneuver (3m, creates a magical flurry of a dash and a Melee attack. The Melee attack gains a bonus to raw damage equal to half the number of yards covered by the dash.)

    Dodge:
    Third Dodge Excellency

    Safety Among Enemies (Step 5 reflexive charm. When I dodge an attack, I may pay 3m and 1wp to redirect it towards any other target within three yards of me.)

    Elemental Defense Technique (5m simple charm, surrounds me in a mantle of fire for the scene. All personal-scale ranged attacks made against me are automatically obliterated (unless the projectile is itself magical). My bashing and lethal soaks rise by two. And everyone within one yard of me is considered to be exposed to an environmental hazard with 2L/Action damage and a Trauma of (essence).)

    Threshold Warding Stance - 1m reflexive step 5 charm. Removes all environmental penalties to my Dodge DV, and one point of other penalties. Can be stacked to a maximum of my essence points of other penalties.

    Hopping Firecracker Evasion - 2m reflexive charm. Upon successfully dodging an attack, may make a reflexive dash action away from the enemy. This usually works to break any ongoing flurry.

    Integrity:
    Second Integrity Excellency
    Inviolable Dragon Spirit (10m, 1wp, perfect social parry. Also breaks all ongoing compulsions, both natural and unnatural.)

    Chaos-Warding Prana (5m, 1wp, scene-long shaping defense. Can extend benefit to others by touching them and paying the full cost.)

    Defense from Anathema Method (5m, 1wp, scene-long. While within [essence*100] yards of a Celestial Exalt, add my Essence to DVs and MDVs.)

    Linguistics:
    Wind-Carried Words (2m to whisper a message of 25 words or less to any known recipient within 400 yards. Every additional mote increases the range by a factor of 10.)

    Lore:
    Elemental Bolt attack (Fires a bolt of flames at a target up to 80 yards away. Base damage is 2L for every mote spent, up to a maximum of 3 motes, with a 1m surcharge and an additional 4L due to fire aspect. It is targeted with a total accuracy of 14.)

    Melee:
    First Melee Excellency
    Terrestrial Melee Reinforcement


    Surging Melee Mastery - 6m reflexive charm (+1wp per previous use in the scene, maximum +2wp). Sets the cost of the first Melee excellency to 0 until my DV refreshes.

    Dragon-Graced weapon (May pay 1m to supplement my weapon with a +4L damage modifier, and cause any enemies struck by my attacks to automatically fall prone.)

    Ghost-Fire blade (May pay 2m to make my attacks applicable against dematerialized targets for an action, or 4m to also make the attacks Holy and thus deal Aggravated damage to creatures of darkness.)

    Portentous Comet Deflecting method (May pay 8m and 1wp in order to roll dexterity+Melee. If I score a success, I make a perfect parry against anything except unblockable attacks)

    Threshing Floor Technique (Simple charm, cost of 2m +1 per targeted ally. Select an enemy, and all my enhanced allies will be able to target their enemy with their attacks, regardless of positioning. All attacks made before my DV refreshes count as coming from the same target for the purposes of imposing onslaught penalties to the enemy DV.)

    Ringing Anvil Onslaught - Extra action charm, costs 8m. Roll Melee, generate a magical flurry of attacks equal to the successes +1.

    Resistance:
    Impervious skin of stone meditation (May increase my Lethal and bashing soaks by 2 levels for every mote spent, up to a maximum of 4 levels. Compatible with armour, 1m surcharge)

    Fire Protection Form (For 4m, I may reflexively increase my lethal and bashing soak against a single attack by 10. If the attack uses fire or extremes of heat, I also reduce the post-soak levels of damage by one, to a minimum of one.

    Presence
    First Presence Excellency
    Glowing Coal Radiance (When I am attacked, either physically or socially, I may spend 2m to surround myself with a red radiance. Any attackers in that action take a -5 fear-based internal penalty to their test, unless their Dodge MDV is higher than 11)

    Aura of Invincibility (May spend 3m as a simple action to increase my bashing and lethal soaks by 1 and gain three more -0 health levels. These last for a scene, and at scenes end, I heal up to three levels of bashing or lethal and then the bonus health levels vanish, transferring any further damage levels back onto normal health)

    War:
    First War excellency
    Terrestrial War Reinforcement


    Enfolded in Dragon's Wings - Reflexive charm, may spend 1m per ally or 1m per Magnitude (maximum of Essence) to shield them from damage caused by my anima for a day. Anima flux damage is effectively ignored, and any fire-related damage has it's damage reduced by my essence.

    Phantom-Warrior Horde - May summon a mass combat unit formed out of fire and smoke for the purposes of a single action, paying 2m per point of Magnitude to a maximum of my essence. Uses unique stats if supporting me as a solo unit or a smaller unit of regular troops, just adds magnitude if enhancing larger unit of normal troops.

    Ramparts of Obedient Earth - Reflexive charm, 2m per 10 cubic yards of earth and stone shaped according to my desires. May create cover, difficult terrain or cause knockdown tests at a difficult of (essence) as examples.

    Blazing Courageous Swordsman Inspiration - Simple scene-long charm, costs 1m per target or dot of magnitude. Provides an additional -0 health level to all beneficiaries.

    Dragon Seared Battlefield - 8m simple charm. Choose a point within line of sight, and everything within (essence*50) yards is consumed in a burning maelstrom of fire. This inflicts no damage, but instead imposes a -3 external penalty on all non-reflexive actions taken by anyone within the area of effect. Dragon-blooded of the same element are immune, as are those of other elements flaring their animas and anyone protected by Enfolded in the Dragon's Wings.



    Combat Stats:
    Spoiler
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    Join Combat: 6

    Attacks:
    Spoiler
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    Hands:
    Speed: 4 | Acc: 11 | Damage: 3B | Parry DV: 6 | Rate: 3

    Feet:
    Speed: 4 | Acc: 10 | Damage: 6B | Parry DV: 4 | Rate: 2

    Clinch:
    Speed: 5 | Acc: 10 | Damage: 3B | Parry DV: - | Rate: 3

    Daiklaive:
    Speed: 3 | Acc: 18 | Damage: 10L/2 | Parry DV: 7 | Rate: 3

    Dodge DV: 10

    Permanent Charms (Effects)
    Ox-Body Technique x4 (Adds an additional -1 and -2 health level for every purchase)

    Soak:
    Bashing: 13
    Lethal: 12
    Aggravated: 10

    Hardness:
    Bashing: 8
    Lethal: 8
    Aggravated: 8

    Health:
    -0 [ ]
    -1 [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]
    -2 [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]
    -4 [ ]
    X [ ]

    Mental Defenses:
    Dodge MDV: 9
    Charisma Parry MDV:
    >Presence: 5
    > Performance: 3
    Manipulation Parry MDV:
    >Presence: 4
    >Performance: 2

    Virtues:
    Compassion ****
    Conviction **
    Temperance **
    Valor *****

    Crazy Aspect Mode: In Limit Break, Zhou becomes an engine of destruction, his hatred overwhelming all reason or thought of negotiation.
    Current Limit: 2/10

    Intimacies:
    Lookshy (Patriotic pride)
    Other Terrestrials (Comradeship)
    Gens Kharal (Familial loyalty)
    The Seventh Legion (Loyalty)
    Celestial Exalted (Cautious respect)
    Fair Folk (Hatred)
    Necromancers (Hatred)
    Untimely Orchid (Love... difficult, but worth it)
    Symphony of Chimes (Wary Respect)
    Cathak Nalis (Surprisingly good man)
    Akuma (Bastards, the lot of them)
    Emerald Stormwrack (Bemused affection. He's like a crazy uncle.)
    Chejop Kejak (Subordinate) (Imposed via charms)
    Leaves room for one more

    Languages:
    High Realm (Native)
    River-Tongue
    Forest-Tongue
    Old Realm

    Willpower: ***** *****

    Essence:
    Permanent: ****
    Personal: 17/17
    Peripheral: 27/40 (13 spent attuning artifacts)


    Bonus Points and XP:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Bonus Points:
    Raised Valour from 3 to 5
    Raised Compassion from 2 to 4
    Raised Willpower to 10
    Raised Essence to 4
    Raised all Aspect abilities from 3 to 5 except Socialise
    Bought 3 levels of the Arsenal background

    Total: 30/30

    Xp:
    Spent 12 to raise Stamina to 4
    Spent 3 to raise Medicine to 3

    Current unspent: 0
    - Spent 3 to raise Integrity to 3
    - Spent 12 to raise Integrity to 5
    - Spent 8 to buy the Second Integrity excellency
    - Spent 8 to buy Inviolable Dragon Spirit
    - Spent 8 to buy Chaos-Warding Prana
    - Spent 8 to buy Defense-from-Anathaema Method
    - Spent 8 to buy Safety among Enemies
    - Received Elemental Defense Technique as a Christmas gift
    - Spent 8 on the Terrestrial War excellency
    - Spend 8 on Enfolded in Dragon's Wings
    - Spend 8 on Phantom Warrior Horde
    - Spend 8 on Threshold Warding Stance
    - Spend 8 on Blazing Swordsman Inspiration
    - Spend 8 on Dragon-Seared Battlefield
    Received Hopping Firecracker Evasion as a Christmas gift at some point (the game has easily beaten two years)
    - Spend 8 on Surging Melee Mastery
    - Spend 8 on Ringing Anvil Onslaught
    - Spend 4 to purchase the 'earth' sub-module for dragon-graced weapon.



    And those connections...
    Spoiler
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    Connections - Gens Kharal
    Kharal Linwei, Field Force Taimyo - Zhou's first commanding officer, back when he first joined the legion, and a woman that he greatly admires. She's too busy as a member of the General Staff to serve as a mentor, but it was her orders that got him detached duty amongst the Confederation of Rivers, and he tends to view her as an example of how he should behave, both as a Kharal and as a soldier of Lookshy. They exchange messages occassionally, mostly so he can keep her up to date on how things are going in the Scavenger Lands.

    Kharal Jan, Shozei - Zhou's father, who he somewhat idolizes. Much more reserved than his son, and any words they share tend to be curt and phrased as military exchanges, but the family bonds are still strong. Aurora used to be Jan's sword.

    Connections - Seventh Legion
    Teresu Xan - A senior member of the Intelligence Directorate, though Zhou is unsure exactly what rank the man holds or his precise duties. He's not even certain of the name. Still, when someone from Intelligence makes a point to hand you some useful briefing materials before you are deployed, and casually suggests that you might like to pass on any interesting information you find while travelling, you don't ask many questions...

    Nefvarin Auric - An old friend from training, Auric is an Air-Aspect who managed to land a prestigious position with Lookshy's Sky Fleet after graduation. They keep in touch, and make a point to meet and catch up properly whenever Zhou is deployed back to Lookshy.

    Yushoto Brenna - A medic who saved Zhou's life once, Brenna has since gone on to rise surprisingly high in the support and logistical arms of the Legion. Zhou owes his interest in medicine to her, and a great deal of his more compassionate nature, which he regards as a sort of roundabout way of paying his debt.
    Last edited by Maugan Ra; 2016-09-30 at 11:14 AM.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    The_Snark's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Isa, Chosen of Endings:

    Spoiler
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    Name Isa, formerly of the White Birch River Clan
    Caste Chosen of Endings
    Anima A dim violet glow suffuses the air, soft and peaceful

    Motivation: See that her mentor dies at peace

    Backstory
    Spoiler
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    Out in the forest, a woman (girl?) is digging graves.

    She is brown-skinned, and dark-haired, and not very tall. She's pretty, in the same way that dirt is pretty: that is to say, not eye-catching in the least, but still pleasant enough to look at if you are not too snobbish or cultured to appreciate it. Her hands are callused. Her arms are strong.

    kcchhhh, kcchhhh, kccchhhhh, goes the shovel, and then kcCHNNK—the sound of metal against stone.

    She puts down her shovel (an old square-bladed thing that once belonged to a legionnaire) and kneels down by the hole. With one hand she reaches in, feeling around in the dirt, and: yes, there's a rock here. Maybe a big one. She might have to start over. She stands and starts to dig again, scraping the dirt off the top and then digging down around the sides so she can see it better. Today she is lucky—it's not so big after all. She kneels again and pries it out with both hands, sets it next to the pile of dirt she's making. Later today she'll carry it to one of the cairns she is making.

    kcchhhh, kcchhhh, goes the shovel. The sun climbs higher in the sky, watching.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I don't know why they argued. I was little back then: two, four, six, eight—but not ten. My mother was dead before I was ten, and afterwards how could anyone argue with her? My father would never say what they fought about; he didn't like to speak ill of the dead.

    He didn't talk about her much.

    My aunts and uncles and cousins talked about them all the time. (Not really my aunts and uncles and cousins, you understand; that's just what you call people in your boat clan. The elders are grandmothers and grandfathers, the adults are aunts and uncles, and everyone your age who's not actually your brother or sister is a cousin. Everyone is family, even half-blood girls with no father.) They told me my mother was a brave warrior, and had died a fine death against the Haltans. They wanted me to grow up to be just like her.

    ("What, dead?" I never actually said that; even when I was nine I knew there were some things you didn't say. But I thought it. Why do you want me to grow up and die in the Haltan forests, family mine? What is so sacred about blood spilled beneath the redwood trees?)

    On my father the clan was less united. He was a warrior too, but not from Linowan. He was a soldier from the Scarlet Empire over the sea, here to help us face our enemies. They never went on raids, though; only manned the border forts. Some people thought he was a coward, though they rarely came out and said so. (Insulting someone's bravery is a serious thing with us. You do not do it unless you are looking for a fight.) Others said he was a fine fighter, but he didn't really understand us. He was a stranger.

    Whenever they said that, I thought: I must be like him. Because I do not understand you either.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A cold wind whips through the woman's hair, whispering faintly in her ear. She can almost imagine that it has a voice, that she can hear the dead speaking. Maybe she can. This is Calibration: the sun is reddish and hot, the wind is bitter cold with the promise of winter to come, and the barriers between worlds are thin. Maybe the dead can speak to her.

    Heaven knows there are dead aplenty here.

    All around her there are bones: icewalker bones, tribal bones, men and women, Haltan and Linowan and Ardelese and Talinin and a dozen more, all scattered together with no care for what separated them in life; but most of all legionnaire bones, still wrapped in the rusted metal bands of their armor. They are old bones. Many are blackened by fire. Others are white and cracked with age. There is grass growing up through them. In another decade, maybe two, the earth will start to reclaim them.

    Which is good, she thinks. There are far too many for one woman to bury.

    Nobody comes here since that day five years ago, not even to loot the fallen. (Well, hardly ever.) The beasts won't touch the bodies. The place is not quite a shadowlands, but it is something very close. A forbidden place. Taboo.

    Hardly anyone comes here.

    But it is Calibration, and barriers are broken.

    There is a man walking through the burnt trees.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It's not so bad, being a gravedigger. You'll always have work.

    (It's all right to make jokes like that as long as you don't laugh at them. The dead don't mind smiles, but they can't stand to be laughed at.)

    Why did I do it? I don't know. It was just something that needed to be done. After the battle…

    I wasn't in the war, you understand. Not properly. I fought the Haltans and the icemen for three years with the rest of my people, but I wasn't there for the end of it. I could see it, though. Everybody for a hundred miles could see it. Blazing sunlight, and terrible fire, and by the end miles and miles of forest scorched and twisted and burnt; and all the brave men and women the Scarlet Empire sent to fight alongside us were scorched and twisted and burnt along with it. Crushed beneath the Bull's fiery hooves.

    Not my father. He was very lucky. I don't think he felt lucky, though; when I saw him afterwards he looked like he wished he had died. He was going home, and wanted to say goodbye.

    Actually, what he really wanted was for me to go with him.

    Maybe I should have. He needed me, I think, or needed somebody. And there wasn't much left for me among my own people, who love war. (Though they do not love losing, so we shared that grief at least.) But I didn't feel like I belonged with him. I love my father, but I have had enough of being a warrior's bastard daughter in a land that isn't my own.

    So I walked away.

    I started burying the dead.

    Somebody ought to do it, you know? And it kept my hands busy. I needed that.

    I dug. Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, digging rows of graves that meandered through the charred trees down the banks of the river. It's good work. Simple, but... clean, is the only word I can think of. Honest. It turns out I actually like working with the earth, and being alone in the forest, and even the dead are sort of comfortable after a while. I didn't know how long I was going to keep at it—the tribes said there were more than twenty thousand, I never dreamed I'd finish—but there was never a morning when I woke up wanting to stop.

    People noticed, after a while. My family came looking for me, and when they couldn't convince me to go with them, they left some food to make it easier. Maybe they spread the word, I don't know. Boats occasionally stopped when they passed by my part of the river, and left gifts at the door to my little hut: food, new blankets or clothing for the winter, offerings for the dead. They weren't all Linowan, either; I recognized death-offerings from Bloody River, Talinin, Jarrith, the Shandir wood-tribes. Even Halta. People knew about the hermit in the woods who buried the dead.

    I couldn't tell who to give the offerings to, of course. The bones were all tangled till I couldn't even tell which bones belonged to which person, much less what tribe they came from or whose kin they were. But you know, if the dead can share graves (and they do), they can share offerings too. It's better than nothing at all.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The man is old, maybe forty or fifty winters, with leathery skin and a face like an old cliff: craggy, tough, but a little worn away. There's a walking-stick in his hands, though he doesn't seem to need it very badly. He has green eyes. The woman leans on her shovel, watching him approach.

    He stops and watches her back for a little while, and then he says her name. It's not a question.

    She nods.

    "You've been burying the dead for five years and five days." Also not a question. He's right, too, she realizes; down to the day. She nods again.

    "It's time to go," he says simply. And, somehow, she senses that this is true. She was drawn here after the battle, and now she is drawn away.

    "You could stay the night," she suggests, and wonders if she means to bed him. (Maybe. He's older than her, but that doesn't matter much; she doesn't get visitors very often, and it's good to feel alive when you spend so much time among the dead.) "The dead won't bother us as long as we keep inside." Truth. She has earned that much gratitude, even from the wild and lonely spirits that roam abroad on Calibration.

    But the man is shaking his head sternly. "Better not to. We have a great deal to do, and not enough time to do it. The Calibration Gate is close to here; if we hurry we can reach it before sundown."

    "Where are we going?" she asks, a little dazed at the speed. She won't even get to say goodbye to the hut she's slept in for five years.

    "Everything," says the green-eyed man, not unkindly, "will be revealed in time."

    He holds out one hand, beckoning. She takes one last look at the forest, the dead she's buried and the dead she hasn't. It's not enough, but she could spend a whole life here and not do enough. There's always an ending.

    She follows.
    Life in Heaven
    Spoiler
    Show
    Isa's life in Yu-Shan has been shaped largely by two individuals.

    The first is the last bearer of her Exaltation, a Reckoner named Before-the-Dawn. An ardent member of the Bronze Faction, she co-led the efforts to halt the Bull of the North when he battled the Tepet legions; when all was said and done, her partner was dead in battle, leaving her to take sole responsibility for the destruction of Fallen Lapis and the death of its city father (among other things). She was tried, found guilty, and executed for war crimes. Reputedly a very intense woman, reclusive but (on the rare occasions she took part in politics) forceful and somewhat abrasive. Her legacy is not a pleasant one; Isa was particularly baffled to find that a number of spirits with ties to Ardeleth and the surrounding nations hold a grudge against her. She remembers herself as a victim of that war, not the perpetrator.

    The second influence, and by far the greater, is Chejop Kejak. For reasons he does not disclose, he has taken a personal interest in Isa's education and training, more so than he has for any new Sidereal since Ayesha Ura. Why is a subject of considerable speculation among Heaven's denizens: Isa shows no unusual flair for martial arts, or leadership, or sorcery, or anything else that would mark her as worthy of the elder Vizier's attention. She's a diligent student but not—by the standards of the Exalted—exceptional. A few think that, as with Ayesha Ura, the two are lovers; most believe there must be something more to it than that. Many have remarked upon her Caste, linking it to the rumors of Kejak's impending demise or weaving some other complicated plot. Whatever the truth, her long association has irrevocably tarred her with Chejop Kejak's reputation: his enemies are her enemies, his allies are polite, and even neutral parties are wary when dealing with her, for fear of being pulled into one of the Old Man's plots. Few believe she is more than a pawn; she is sometimes called Kejak's Shadow.

    Isa herself does little to discourage this sort of thinking. She is content to play the humble neophyte, quiet and deferential to her elders. She rarely shares her thoughts; instead, her silences draw out others. She watches. She listens. Isa is patient; she knows she's young and has a lot to learn, and she intends to learn it, not waste time trying to make herself heard right now. For now... well, it's not such a bad thing to be overlooked sometimes. She often serves the Bronze Faction as a spy, both in Heaven and Creation.

    Her Bronze beliefs are not as ardent as most believe, but she is genuinely loyal to Chejop Kejak as a person. He's become something of a second father to her; by now, she's spent more time with him than with her birth father. She may not agree with everything he's done, or even everything he plans to do... but she can tell he's opened up to her more than he has in a long time, and she's not going to betray that confidence. (Even when she sees the shadow of the Halta-Linowan War in the feud between factions.)

    Not even Isa is sure what Kejak plans for her. If he wanted a successor, she thinks he must be a little disappointed: she's not the leader he is. Maybe in a few hundred years she could make the attempt, but there isn't enough time to groom her properly for that kind of position and they both know it. She suspects he simply wants someone he can trust, someone without any outside loyalties or ulterior motives... and maybe someone who can set his affairs in order after he's gone.

    Attributes

    Physical
    Strength ●●●
    Dexterity ●●●●●
    Stamina ●●●

    Social
    Charisma ●●
    Manipulation ●●●
    Appearance ●●

    Mental
    Perception ●●●●
    Intelligence ●●
    Wits ●●●

    Abilities

    Resistance ●
    Ride
    Sail ●
    Survival ●●●
    Thrown ●

    Craft ●
    Dodge ●●●●● (while unarmored ●●●)
    Linguistics ●●●● (Forest-tongue (native), Old Realm, Low Realm, High Realm, Riverspeak)
    Performance ● (prayer ●●)
    Socialize ●●●● (subterfuge ●)

    Archery
    Athletics ●
    Melee
    Presence
    War

    Investigation ●
    Larceny ● (disguise ●)
    Lore ●●●
    Occult ●●●
    Stealth ●●●●●

    Awareness ●●●●●
    Bureaucracy ●●
    Integrity ●●
    Martial Arts ●●●●● (staff-fighting ●●●)
    Medicine

    Backgrounds
    Artifact ●● (dragon tear tiara)
    Artifact ● (fivefold harmonic adapter)
    Artifact ●● (hearthstone bracers)
    Artifact ●● (silken armor)
    Backing ● (Bronze Faction)
    Celestial Manse ●● (gem of omens)
    Companion ●
    Connections (Forbidding Manse of Ivy) ●
    Manse ●● (gemstone of surface thoughts)
    Mentor ●●●● (Chejop Kejak)
    Salary ●●

    Colleges:
    The Gull ●
    The Pillar ●
    The Guardians ●
    The Mask ●
    The Corpse ●
    The Rising Smoke ●●
    The Sword ●●

    Astrology
    Tepet Xet, Realm spy diplomat (resplendent destiny of the Mask; Duration 2, Endurance 13)

    Bent Willow, Eastern refugee (resplendent destiny of the Corpse; Duration 1, Endurance 10)

    Unspecified resplendent destiny of the Rising Smoke (Duration 1, Endurance 8)

    Cobbled from Spit and Starlight: ascending destiny of the Guardians, Scope 3 (Isa), Duration 1 (1 season), Frequency 2 (once per day)
    Effect: Blissful Idiot Blessing (-1 difficulty) when crafting destinies outside Yu-Shan.

    Artifacts and Equipment
    Silken armor
    Jade dragon tear tiara
    Jade hearthstone bracers (with fivefold harmonic adapter)
    Warding talisman against the walking dead (-3 internal penalty to actions that affect her)
    Exceptional staff (+1 accuracy, +1 damage, +1 Rate)
    Exceptional sling (+1 accuracy, +1 damage, +10 range)
    Exceptional slashing sword (+1 accuracy, +1 damage, +1 defense)
    3 exceptional knives (+1 accuracy, +1 damage, +10 range), disguised as hairsticks, poisoned with arrow frog venom
    Fine tiger claws (+1 accuracy), could be passed off as ornamental comb
    Razor wire threaded in hair (treat as razor harness)
    Exceptional cosmetics and disguise kit (includes vial of arrow frog venom)
    2-3 changes of clothing, ranging from a formal gown to rough homespun tunic and pants

    Charms

    Craft
    Second Craft Excellency

    Dodge
    Third Dodge Excellency
    Absence
    Duck Fate
    Avoidance Kata

    Performance
    Heart-Brightening Presentation Style

    Investigation
    Efficient Secretary Technique

    Occult
    Mark of Exaltation
    Telltale Symphony

    Stealth
    Second Stealth Excellency
    Soft Presence Practice

    Awareness
    Prior Warning
    Expected Pain
    Wise Choice
    Supernal Awareness

    Bureaucracy
    Second Bureaucracy Excellency
    Underling Invisibility Practice

    Integrity
    Second Integrity Excellency

    Martial Arts
    First Martial Arts Excellency
    Fateful Martial Arts Excellency

    Violet Bier of Sorrows Style
    Secrets of Future Strife
    Joy in Adversity Stance

    Throne Shadow Style
    Lotus Eye Tactics
    Sifu's Useful Fingers
    Lion Mouse Stratagem
    Throne Shadow Form
    Sensing the Unseen Hand
    Unobstructed Blow
    Horrific Wreath

    Join Combat: 8

    Defenses
    Dodge DV 10
    Parry DV 8

    Soak: 3B/1L (6B/6L with silken armor)

    Health
    -0 [ ][ ][ ]
    -1 [ ][ ]
    -2 [ ][ ]
    -4 [ ]
    -X [ ]

    Mental Defenses
    Dodge MDV 7
    Parry MDV 2

    Virtues
    Compassion ●●
    Conviction ●●●
    Temperance ●●●
    Valor ●●

    Limit Break: Reckoner's Flawed Fate
    Limit: 3/10

    Paradox: 0/10

    Intimacies
    Chejop Kejak (loyalty)
    The dead (respect)
    The Maidens (reverence)
    The Bureau of Destiny (duty)
    Ireva (best friend, against all common sense)
    Burning Waters (love...?)
    Emerald Stormwrack (wary kinship)
    The Woman in Red (wary sympathy)
    Ayesha Ura (dislike)
    Solar/Lunar Exalts (mistrust) [1 scene eroding]
    The Fair Folk (strong dislike)
    Linowan (faint nostalgia)

    In progress:
    Symphony of Chimes (hate) (2 scenes building)

    Willpower: 10/10

    Essence
    Permanent: ●●●
    Personal: 13/16 (3 committed; Prior Awareness)
    Peripheral: 19/38 (20 committed; 2 silk, 4 bracers, 2 tiara, 3 Lotus Eye Tactics, 3 Prior Awareness, 5 Sifu's Useful Fingers)

    Bonus Points 36/36
    Willpower +5 (5)
    Virtues +1 (1)
    Abilities +13 (13)
    6 specialties (3)
    Lion Mouse Stratagem (3)
    Prior Warning (3)
    Expected Pain (3)
    Mentor +4 (5)

    Experience Points: 87 spent/46 unspent/133 earned
    Essence 2 -> 3 (16)
    Companion 1 (3)
    Avoidance Kata (8)
    Fateful Martial Arts Excellency (8)
    Occult 2 -> 3 (3)
    Telltale Symphony (8)
    The Guardians 1 (3)
    Unobstructed Blow (8)
    Joy in Adversity Stance (8)
    The Corpse 1 (3)
    Throne Shadow Form (Christmas bonus)
    Medicine 1 (3)
    Sensing the Unseen Hand (Christmas bonus)
    Supernal Awareness (8)
    Horrific Wreath (8)
    Last edited by The_Snark; 2016-09-17 at 03:06 AM.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Jan 2008
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    Georgia, USA
    Gender
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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Sesus Denerid Braga, Dynastic Outcast

    Background:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Everything has a purpose, the world says, everything has a place. Everything has a destiny, it says, everything has a meaning. So the Dragons will it.

    The world lies.

    Sesus Denerid Braga sees the lies, and he sees the pieces that don't fit. He knows them as he knows his own kin, for they are his own kin. Born and bred as one of the Realm's own children, he is no Outcaste, but he is outcast all the same, by chance of birth, by the grace of the Dragons, by his family's desire, by the Heptagram's will, and by choice of his own. He has no place left but what little he can make for himself.

    It should not have been so. Though the Sesus Denerid line is troubled, its elemental blood muddied by decades turning into centuries of intermarriage with the house of Cynis, it is still a proud family within a proud Great House within the proud Scarlet Dynasty. And Braga was gifted beyond that, child of two parents both blessed by the grace of the Dragons. His blood and his fate should have been as secure as possible for any of his line. In his earliest years he was raised with all the diligence and respect due one in his august station as an Exalt-in-waiting.

    Lies will out. His place was fleeting. With his Exaltation his secure world tumbled apart, for he was not touched by the Sesus Aspect of Fire or the Cynis Aspect of Wood but steeped instead in Mela's blood, touched by Air. The blossoming wind of his power fanned flames of scandal, and amid the resulting turmoil the young Dynast was shuttled from one family holding to another, enduring the pained but polite smiles of a dozen aunts and uncles all biting their tongues against saying what each of them wanted to say.

    Eventually someone in the family, Braga was never sure who, finally came around to the obvious solution. He was sent where things that don't fit go, to the Heptagram, to become a more useful aberration. Air Aspects are good at that sort of thing, right? He should at least have fit in amongst his own kind, the Sesus thought.

    None of his family spoke to Braga as they were deciding his fate, of course. No one thought to ask him if he wanted to become a sorcerer. No one asked, and he stayed silent, knowing no one would listen even if he did speak up. He cried as they left him there, in those dark demon-haunted halls, but his tears soon dried. He was beginning to learn the way of being a lost thing.

    He discovered some expertise within himself in Essence-craft and thaumaturgy, Mela's gifts shining through his works. Artifice, too, held his attention, the flow of motes through Jade a wonder to his sight. For a time he found a shred of contentment, but only for a time. Even in its triumph a lost thing can become more lost, especially when its success is bound up in secret lore.

    He was not ready to be pushed as he was pushed, into sorcery and then, on the strength of his initial achievements, on into those studies which truly push the sorcerer away from society, the arts of summoning and binding demonic servants.

    He graduated after that. His instructors implored him to stay, to refine his talents more, but he had done his four years time and he had lost far more than four years of his life, and he was more than ready to see the Isle of Voices behind him.

    He did not try to go back to his parents' estate, to try to prove that he was worthy of their love, or their respect, or even their attention due to his accomplishments. He went back out to the same Sesus Threshold holdings he had forcibly toured as a child, a transient going wherever his relatives' need for his particular talents outweighed their distaste for what he represented.

    Of all the chores a graduate of the Heptagram can perform, the task most demanded is the sorcerer's signature, the same summoning art he had despised at the school. What's worse, where Cynis blood runs strong so do Cynis vices. He endured the same aunts and uncles who would barely talk to him as a child disclosing their darkest fetishes in requests for sorcerous or alchemical aid.

    He had already grown sick of catering to the Sesus Denerids' whims by the time he found himself visiting a backwater satrap uncle of his with an overly grandiose plan to have himself a proper Cynis orgy in the middle of the Eastern jungle. When the time came he prepared to summon an angyalkae to the party, hoping its music would kill the mood, but there was no way at all that he could prepare for what answered his call.

    A young girl fell through the breach in reality he opened up that day, a young girl whose brow soon shone with a silver sigil. As white Essence flame kindled 'round her he saw as clearly as any in that room what she was: Anathema. He also knew, though, that that should be impossible. Anathema aren't that kind of demon, not the kind of demon that is summoned from the heart of Malfeas. She was more than Anathema, she was an aberration. She didn't, and couldn't, fit in the proper structure of the world. And beyond that she was an unarmed child.

    He ran. He ran and took her with him, grabbing her by the hand and dragging her along. He knew as he did it, as the first shouts rang out and the first revelers lunged for their weapons, that his exile would be final after that, but it had already been total enough. His pariah status only received its confirmation when he fled with the moon-child, not its origin.

    He and she have been running ever since, using his knack for sensing Essence flow to find ancient ruins to hide in and ancient relics to arm themselves with. The fugitive life is a hard one, though, and he wishes better for the child, Versi as she's taken to calling herself, even if a better life will mean going to great lengths to hide her very nature.

    Sorcerer, thaumaturge, artificer... there is always call for such people in the state of Lookshy, as long as they are truly born of Dragons, as Braga is. Perhaps he will find a place there, a place for himself and for Versi. If he doesn't, he's not too worried.

    He's getting pretty good at making his own.

    Appearance:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Sesus Denerid Braga is as thin and pale as any Air Aspect, possessed of an almost ghostly complexion, but his mixed heritage shows in his hair color, a noncommittal dark blue-green which looks black under some lights. His eyes are a stormcloud grey, and generally alert and moving as he drinks in the details of surroundings, probing for secrets and shadows.

    Though the details vary day-by-day thanks to an ancient First Age artifact he wears, Braga usually produces fairly simple outfits of blue or green accented with subtle, filigreed details in an iridescent metal thread, clothing that's easy to move in, but which features sleeves long enough to conceal the artifacts clasped to his arms. He generally eschews trailing sleeves, scarves, and hems, however, preferencing practicality over theatricality; it's for the same reason that he keeps his hair cut roughly at chin level, a ragged fringe below the one artifact he allows himself to wear openly, a simple blue Jade circlet set with a large green opal.

    Character sheet:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Name: Sesus Denerid Braga
    Exalt Type and Caste: Air Aspect Dragon-Blood
    Anima: As the storm of Braga's Essence builds to its peak, the flow of that Essence within his body becomes externalized, bright streaks of lightning delineating the meridians of his body. This dance of power is especially brilliant at his principal chakras, the collected energies etching arcane symbols into the air.

    Motivation: See that all Creation's lost things are remembered.

    Attributes
    Strength
    Dexterity ●●●●●
    Stamina ●●●

    Charisma ●●●
    Manipulation ●●
    Appearance ●●

    Perception ●●●●
    Intelligence ●●●●
    Wits ●●●

    Abilities
    [A] Linguistics ●●●
    [A] Lore ●●●●● +● Artifacts
    [A] Occult ●●●●● +●● Art of Warding and Exorcism, +●● Art of Geomancy, +● Artifacts
    [A] Stealth ●●
    [A] Thrown

    Awareness ●●●
    Integrity ●●
    [F] Craft ●●●●● +● Magitech
    Resistance ●●
    War

    [F] Athletics ●●●●● +●●● Essence-channeling asanas and mudras
    [F] Dodge ●●●●●
    Melee
    Presence ●●
    Socialize ●●

    Bureaucracy
    Investigation ●●
    Larceny
    Martial Arts
    Sail

    Archery
    Medicine ●●
    Performance ●●
    Ride
    Survival ●●

    Backgrounds and Equipment:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Backgrounds:
    Artifact: ●●●
    -Starmetal Infinite Resplendence Amulet
    -Resplendent Personal Assistant
    -Recorder of Everlasting Glories
    Deep in an ancient manse Braga and Versi discovered a cache of artifacts left behind by a long-dead servant of Heaven. Despite Braga's extensive occult knowledge, he's somewhat fuzzy on the subject of Sidereals, but he recognized the articles hidden in the cache as the practical tools of a bureaucrat. He tries to use them toward more enlightened goals than the combination of vanity and bookkeeping efficiency he imagines their original owner must have had.
    Artifact: ●●●
    -Folding Servant
    -Windslave Disk (Artifact 2)
    -Jade Fivefold Harmonic Adapter
    -Hearthstone Compass
    Braga has an eye for lesser wonders, simple practical devices which can aid him. Of course, lesser wonders are still wonders, and he's particularly in awe of Wu, the Folding Servant he discovered and reawakened. The basic automaton has little in the way of a personality, but Braga treats him more like a pet (albeit a pet who can easily stay tucked away in a pocket for days without complaining) than a tool.
    Artifact: ●●
    -Blue Jade Hearthstone Bracers
    -Blue Jade Dragon Tiara
    The last remnants of the luxuries he benefited from even as a black sheep of the Scarlet Dynasty, these artifacts still give too much practical benefit to be discarded despite the unpleasantness of some of the memories Braga associates with them.
    Breeding: ●●●
    Though he can't be certain that the parents who raised him were the parents who sired him, his blood is undoubtedly that of two Exalts, and strong despite the weakness of the Sesus Denerid line.
    Manse: ●●●
    -Three-dot Wood Manse (Gemstone of Entrance)
    -Two-dot Wood Manse (Opal of the Hunted)
    -One-dot Sidereal Manse (Ever-Open Eye)
    Braga's Heptagram contacts once saw him attuned to several Air-Aspected manses in the Realm, but those attunements were forcibly broken after he was forced to go on the run. Fortunately, many of the ruins he has explored with Versi have retained enough geomantic functioning to form hearthstones, and he has attuned to them whenever he's had the time to do so.

    The most powerful manse he has been able to attune to is still the first he fled to, just outside his uncle's estate. Though its Gemstone of Entrance has proved useful in exploring subsequent ruins, Braga remains fearful that its defenses could be breached by a Wyld Hunt on Versi's trail.

    His second Wood manse, though less powerful in absolute terms, has provided a much greater boon, considering his and Versi's current situation. Its Opal of the Hunted has helped him remain on guard and also functions to help cover their tracks with its subtle magic. Despite its value, it's not what Braga wanted... he found the manse that produced it on a trip into the shadow of Mount Metagalapa in hopes of finding an Air Aspected manse in the vicinity of the flying mountain.

    Far more curious than either Wood find is the oldest manse Braga has attuned to, the same ruin in which he found the bolthole of the ancient heavenly bureaucrat who must once have owned it. He believes it must once have possessed stronger geomancy, for the hearthstone set in its hearthroom seemed ill-fitted in the socket it grew from. The current powers of the manse and its hearthstone, at least those powers which Braga can perceive, are not particularly exotic, but the mystery of their origin captivates him.

    Resources:
    Braga never had much wealth of his own, mostly living off whatever funds his family was willing to allow him at any given time, and much of what he did have he has already spent supporting his and Versi's travels.

    Equipment:
    Braga possesses very little beyond his artifacts, only a few cheap tools and a little mundane clothing, all tucked away into the Elsewhere pockets of his Infinite Resplendence Amulet.

    Of his artifacts, he usually keeps his Starmetal Infinite Resplendence Amulet (with Fivefold Harmonic Adapter attached), Resplendent Personal Assistant (with Recorder of Everlasting Glories attached), Hearthstone Bracers, and Dragon Tear Tiara attuned, with his Gemstone of Entrance mounted to the Bracers and his Opal of the Hunted mounted to the Dragon Tear Tiara. The rest of his artifacts are kept stored away unpowered until needed.


    Charms, Spells, and Procedures
    Spoiler
    Show
    Linguistics:
    Wind-Carried Words Technique

    Lore:
    First Lore Excellency: Essence Overwhelming
    Elemental Concentration Trance
    Eternal Mind Meditation
    Elemental Bolt Attack (Air)
    Elemental Empowerment Meditation
    Glorious Birthright Font
    Elemental Burst Technique (Christmas bonus)

    Occult:
    First Occult Excellency: Essence Overwhelming
    Fivefold Resonance Sense
    Seeing the Maker's Hand

    Terrestrial Circle Sorcery
    -Demon of the First Circle

    Thaumaturgy:
    -Adept in the Art of Warding and Exorcism
    Spoiler
    Show
    Apprentice Procedures
    -Sensing the Barrier
    -Thrice-Warded Gateway

    Initiate Procedures
    -Alarm Ward Against (Creature)
    -Deathsight
    -Demonsight
    -Elemental Sight
    -Lesser Ward Against (Creature)
    -Spirit Sight

    Adept Procedures
    -Alarm Ward Maintenance
    -Dishonest (Creature)'s Rebuke
    -Expulsion
    -Lesser Ward Maintenance
    -Ward Against (Creature)
    -Warding of Undue Influence
    -Impeding the Nemesis
    -Scarlet Passage Idol
    -Things Best Lost

    -Adept in the Art of Geomancy
    Spoiler
    Show
    Apprentice Procedures
    -Essence Sense
    -Dragon Line Compass
    -Alloyed Essence Indicator
    -Tripping the Steel

    Initiate Procedures
    -Dragon Nest Compass
    -Pearl-Collecting Rite
    -Ritual of Dedicated Purification

    Adept Procedures
    -Blessing
    -Curse
    -Open-Eyed Dive Meditation
    -Pulse of the Demesne's Heart
    -Rattle the Sanctum's Gate
    -Riptide Swimmer Rite


    Awareness:
    First Awareness Excellency: Essence Overwhelming
    Sense-Riding Technique

    Craft:
    First Craft Excellency: Essence Overwhelming
    Shaping Hand Style
    Flaw-Finding Examination
    Stone-Carving Fingers Form

    Integrity:
    Oath of the Ten-Thousand Dragons (Versino [Paternal Loyalty])

    Resistance:
    Ox-Body Technique x 2

    Athletics:
    Effortlessly Rising Flame
    Falling Star Maneuver
    Bellows-Pumping Stride

    Dodge:
    Second Dodge Excellency: Essence Triumphant
    Safety Among Enemies
    Elemental Defense Technique (Air)
    Threshold Warding Stance


    Attacks:
    Elemental Bolt Attack: Air (Speed enhanced by Hearthstone Bracers, Damage enhanced by Glorious Birthright Font)
    Speed: 5 Acc: 17 Damage: 4-10L/2L Range: 80 yds Rate: 1 Tags: O
    (Special: On hit, subtracts two dice from the next action taken by the target.)

    Attack Speed Acc Damage Parry Rate
    Punch 4 7 1B 4 3
    Kick 4 6 4B 2 2
    Clinch 5 6 1B - 1

    Dodge DV: 9 (7 without Hearthstone Bracers)

    Mental Defenses:
    Dodge MDV: 8
    Parry MDV: 3

    Soak:
    Bashing: 4B
    Lethal: 2L
    Aggravated: 0A

    Hardness:
    N/A

    Health:
    -0 [ ]
    -1 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
    -2 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
    -4 [ ]
    -X [ ]

    Dying [ ][ ][ ]


    Intimacies
    Versino, the Anathema girl (Paternal Loyalty) [Enforced by Oath of the Ten-Thousand Dragons]
    Anathema (Growing respect mixed with lingering fear)
    Essence-workings (Awed fascination)
    Lost things (Bittersweet kinship)
    Wu, Folding Servant (Neglectful adoration)
    Demons (Resentment)
    His family (Even more resentment)
    Abandonment (Hatred)

    Languages:
    Native: High Realm
    Old Realm
    Low Realm
    Riverspeak

    Virtues:
    Compassion ●●●
    Conviction ●●●
    Temperance ●●
    Valor ●

    Virtue Flaw:
    Air Aspects' Curse of Compassion
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    Air Aspects whose curse lies in Compassion hold idealistic views of how the world should work, reacting poorly when confronted with the realities of life’s cruelties.


    Limit: [][][][][] [][][][][]

    Permanent Willpower: ●●●●● ●●●●●
    Temporary Willpower: [X][X][][][] [][][][][]

    Essence:
    Permanent: ●●●●
    Personal: 17/17
    Peripheral: 17/33
    16 motes committed
    (Infinite Resplendence Amulet [5m], Resplendent Personal Assistant with Recorder of Everlasting Glories [2m], Hearthstone Bracers [4m], Dragon Tear Tiara [2m], Glorious Birthright Font [3m] active)

    Bonus Points and XP:
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    Bonus Points: Total: 30 BP
    Essence +●: -10 BP
    Willpower +●●●●●: -5bp
    Lore +●●, Occult +●●, Craft +●●, Dodge +●●, Athletics +●●: -10 BP
    +●●● Athletics Specialty, +● Craft Specialty, +● Lore Specialty, +● Occult Specialty: -3 BP
    +● Stealth, +● Linguistics: -2 BP

    Remainder: 0 BP

    Experience Points:Total: 135 XP
    -8: Elemental Empowerment Meditation
    -8: Glorious Birthright Font
    -8: Wind-Carried Words Technique
    -8: Threshold Warding Stance
    -8: Falling Star Maneuver
    -8: Bellows Pumping Stride
    -10: Oath of the Ten-Thousand Dragons
    -8 Stone-Carving Fingers Form

    Remainder: 69 XP banked

    Bonus and Environmental Hazard Reminders:
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    Dice Bonuses:
    Infinite Resplendence Amulet:
    +1 success to Resistance and Survival against environmental conditions, toxins, and disease.
    Dragon Tear Tiara:
    +1 die Perception or +3 dice occult sensitivity (explicitly including geomancy, astrology, and spirit-detection, explicitly excluding sorcery)
    Opal of the Hunted:
    +2 dice Perception or Wits vs. ambushes, +1 DV against unexpected attacks, +3 dice vs. tracking and pursuit
    Air Aspect Anima:
    +4 DV vs. ranged attacks and 3x jumping distance when activated for 5m
    Sifu's Useful Fingers:
    +1 Martial Arts and +5 Dodge Mental Defense Value while Isa maintains 1m Essence commitment

    Environmental Hazards:
    Bellows Pumping Stride:
    Trail one-yard across filling the space Braga covered in his previous action, deals 1L/action with Trauma 3 or 3L/action at Trauma 3 when Glorious Birthright Font is active.
    Elemental Defense Technique:
    One-yard radius surrounding Braga and moving with him, deals 4B/action with Trauma 4 or 6B/action with Trauma 4 when Glorious Birthright Font is active.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2016-09-17 at 06:25 PM.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

    Current Games:
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    GMing The Lotus Blossoms! [Exalted 3E] (OOC)
    Playing Waldaharjaz in The Convergence of Sky [Exalted 3E]
    Playing Rivers in Welcome to Thorns [Exalted 3E]

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    At this rate, we're going to run out of Star Wars titles before we run out of OOC threads. My sheet's below - do I now have time to buy new Charms and spend our XP?

    Jade Lotus:
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    Name: Jade Lotus
    Exalt Type and Caste: Night Caste Solar
    Anima: A lotus in bloom, fire burning at the heart of it as it unveils its petals.
    Motivation: Find the person rumoured to be able to corrupt people's souls - and have them steal away Lotus's compassion from her.

    Appearance:
    On the run and without her many fine clothes, Jade is not appearing at her best. Of course, her worst is above many a mortal's best, but her priority is still to grab some vanity riches...
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    Background:
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    The Lotus In Bloom
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    The road was slippery, and muddy, and the young girl was ruining her freshly stolen dress all over it. Occasionally, some precious item of jade would slip out of her pockets, and she'd scramble to retrieve it before inevitably slipping and losing the items again. She rushed after them, after more money than she'd held in her entire life. Her family - well, her gang - had held it previously.

    She'd got it for them. They'd taken it from her. She'd taken it back. And now, because she hadn't wanted to share, Juri, Ai, and all the girls and boys and utter bitches and bastards were jailed.

    For a pretty dress and more jade than she could reasonably hold. She'd even dropped her own amateur carvings for them, the gifts she'd made for herself...

    "Hey!"

    ...and the others.

    "Hey!" The girl turned to see a soldier, off-duty from the state of her armour, bearing down on her. "Dragons, what are you doing in that getup?"

    The girl didn't reply, blanked by the soldier's interrogative attitude. "Who the hell are you?"

    They'd called her Chai. It was a stupid name, given to her because she'd drank Juri's tea when young. It wouldn't make any soldier think of anything but a stupid street kid's nickname. She cast around for something else to call herself, and felt the weight in her pockets. "Jade." She hiccuped.

    "Jade?" The soldier queried. "Jade?"

    "Jade..." Chai caught sight of her dress and the flowers embroidered into it beneath the mud. "Lotus. Jade Lotus." And then, with the weight of a very long and emotionally tense day, the young thief began to cry.

    A fourteen year old (and pretty) girl crying tends to crumble most defenses. The soldier looked horrified at what she'd done, and something clicked in Chai's head. She was young and wearing rich clothes, and the soldier was on the back foot, trying to seem good in their own eyes... it would be so easy to get out of this.

    All she had to do was talk.

    "M'-" Chai swallowed the first syllable in tears and restructured her accent to be more noble, more like the heroes and villains that the street performers acted on hard stone or their rickety stages. "My parents gave me this stuff because it was like my name! And it's all wet now, and dirty, and I've looked for them for so long..." The rest was drowned out by half-genuine wailing.

    And thus is the story of how young Tepet Himiya, soldier of the Realm, rescued a young noble girl from the slums and felt good about herself for the rest of the whole day - a time that, not coincidentally, that coincided with the hour that she found out that someone had lifted her money pouch.

    But by that time Jade Lotus was a long way away and accelerating.


    Lord Shan of Yu
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    Jade Lotus is a thief with many fine qualities that prepare her for this role. She is a coward who shrieks at the sight of a blade pointed too much towards her. She is a self-indulgent hedonist who not only trips over every temptation but goes off to find more temptations to tangle herself in. She is vain and fussy and wasteful and lavishes money on herself to attempt for a never satisfied perfection. She is a thief both petty and grand, a habitual liar, inconsistent and, of course, greedy.

    And then there is one other thing. It is almost as if the gods, upon seeing such a droughted soul heading for the world, decided to give it one lone virtue to balance out all the vices. And, perhaps thriving in the darkness, this virtue shines bright indeed. Jade Lotus is completely, hopelessly, foolishly and often stupidly compassionate. Given the right person to do it for, this craven will stand fast against a deathknight, ignore the whispers of magistrates and emperors, turn her ill-gotten gains to the poor and needy and - worst of all! - brave mud and muck and dirt in order to help some hapless soul. It is her one vice as a thief, that stops her from callousness, her one virtue as a person, that holds open the possibility of redemption to her, and host to her shining articles of heroism and what has elevated her from mortal to one of the Children of the Unconquered Sun.

    Jade Lotus considers this her only flaw.

    The story of how she Exalted, ah? Now that is a one. Some preambling is required, but not much: all you need to know is that when Jade Lotus was young, and had another name, she was a street rat who got onto a horde of wealth through luck and cunning, and felt offended that the gang she was running with took more than she thought was their fair share, and quite simply stole it back from them. Any pursuit was halted by the expedient of alerting the guards to the location of this gang and stuffing some pricey jewels in their pockets, and when the day came they were too busy being jailed to chase after her. After that, she invested her capital in thieving and climbing her way up the social strata of society, until we come to the story of Lord Shan of Yu.

    Yes, Lord Shan of Yu. You heard that correctly. Jade Lotus, as is often with those who steal from them, did not have much appreciation for the subtlety of the rich, and in this case we are forced to agree with her.

    Lady Lotus was flirting with the husbands and stealing from the wives (and flirting with the wives and stealing from the husbands) of a small court on the edge of the Realm when she espied a poor farmer man sobbing with fear, for his village's harvest had failed for the third time this year and could not afford the tax levy. In three days time he would plead before the court, but he expected failure. Overhearing his prayers to the gods of bureaucracy, something clicked in Jade Lotus as it sometimes did. Perhaps it was the part of the street rat that stole back that money not because she wanted it, but because they had taken more than their fair share.

    Hypocritical, we know, but let this not detract from the heartwarming nature of the following story.

    Jade Lotus knew the court she was in to be corrupt, for those were the best hunting grounds for thieves like her. She brought the three women who most considered themselves her friend -

    -Okay, it was four women. I'm saying three because that's the oral tradition, understand? In stories, things come in three. Where was I?

    So, three women. Jade Lotus tells them she has heard urgent news for their ears only. Her uncle, a fabled and eccentric man, is traveling this way! A keen supporter of moral action in people, he masqueraded as a peasant man pleading for his village to the courts, and liked to dispense karma to the courts depending on how well they treated his persona. And his name? A man so rich and generous he was nicknamed the Lord Shan of Yu, after the heavenly city itself! The women were abuzz with excitement at this, but Jade Lotus swore them to secrecy. Inevitably, within three days the whole court was abuzz with this rumor, including the advice that Jade Lotus had given them - to mostly give gifts benefiting his persona, such as food and aid for the village, to never let slip a murmur about considerably impressive his acting ability was, and to not overwhelm the man lest he get suspicious.

    On the third night of the third day, Lord Shan of Yu was introduced to a full court under his disguise. Those viewing silently admired his acting, the very picture of shock on his face at the turnout, the speechlessness at the gifts, apparent truth of his grateful tears. Having returned from a quick pilfering of the private quarters, even Jade Lotus's heart was warmed and moved, even as it raged that she could have made it so she'd gotten all Lord Shan's gains for herself.

    But it remained a marvelous job. But at the climax of this, as the verdict was handed down to an overladen Lord Shan, Jade Lotus exalted in spectacular fashion as a Night Caste in full view of a court of Realm loyalists and Dragonblooded.

    Let it never be said that the Unconquered Sun has no sense of humour, especially if you do not want the same to happen to you.

    Thinking quickly, Jade cackled melodrama about the return of the Anathema, grabbed Lord Shan and jumped out of a convenient window. The court was shocked and terrified and, rather than admit the death of such a respected man at their housings, said nothing. It was only a month or two later that someone said "Hold on, what actually happened there?" But by that time Jade Lotus and Lord Shan of Yu were very, very far away.

    After that? Well, Jade traveled from adventure to adventure, losing fortunes as quickly as she obtained them due to the twin curses of her hedonistic heart and her ultimately generous nature. She would be horrified to learn of the town of Shan-Yu, which worships her as the goddess of good luck and generosity, so it is for the best she never went there. Of course, even one with such skill as the Lady Lotus could not evade her creditors or victims forever, and she was forced to stake out new ground in the city of Lookshy...

    Yes, this does have relevance to the story of the return of the Empress, you impatient plagues. Just you wait. I'm getting to it! I mentioned Lookshy, you blighters!




    The Sweeper of Unwarranted Memories
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    And so it came to pass that Lotus, while in prison for crimes committed while drunk and disorderly, heard the tale of the Sweeper of Unwarranted Memories.

    A person they said, of unknown origin - perhaps Exalted, perhaps Anathema, perhaps not a person at all but some demon spawn from Malfeas, perhaps even just some knowledgeable mortal who knew secrets none other did.

    But whilst the rumors are inconsistent upon origin, they coincide on what the person does and what their title means: if you want to change yourself, this entity can do it for you. No need for the hard work and fear that you get by following the path of Sorcery, or the risk of coming to the Sacrifice and finding that you cannot, in the end, give up what you wanted to give up. No meditation or soul searching, no slow progress upon the path of personal development with much risk of backsliding - just instant, easy change.

    Of course, there are disadvantages of dealing with such a fate. The tales diverge much here on the details but agree with one - the Sweeper cannot give you something, only take away what you already have. What they do with what they take is unknown and better left as such.

    "Weren't you," the prisoner said, finishing up his tale, "on the other side of these bars an hour ago?"

    "I have no idea what you are talking about." Lotus said primly, and slipped the man some more sake. Alcohol being more interesting than who was where when, the man diverted his attention to spending his last night getting drunk.

    "Where did you hear this tale?" She asked gently, trying to brush some dirt off her spanking new silk dress. In this environment the best you could hope was to redistribute the dirt, and Lotus winced as she rubbed brown into the wonderful colors of a very fine robe.

    "Lookshy, Lady." Lookshy, grand! She had personas she could take on there, to hide from people who were being perfectly unreasonable about minor matters and what Lotus considered right payment for the joy of her company. Now, she was going to leave and not garner any sympathy for these probably devious people or risk any daring prison break or ask any questions such as "What are you in here for, anyway?"

    "Aiding Anathema, Lady. They were our friend."

    Drat stupid blasted internal monologue would stay internal next time if it knew what was good for it! Lotus pointed her nose up and away from the frightened looking rabble trapped behind the bars. "You are lying to gain my sympathy." She stated coldy. "It won't work."

    And that was the story of how Bright Lotus managed, with the aid of half a bottle of Sake, one overeager guard and two and a half hairpins, a minor prison break from one of the satraps controlled by the Realm, and at only the cost of the appearance of her not-longer-very-nice-or-new silk dress. And perhaps, with compassion warming the cockles of her heart and the grateful souls travelling with her, Lotus forgot about the Sweeper and the powers they were rumored to have and the destruction they could visit upon a person.

    "Sorry 'bout your dress, nice lady."
    "Shut up, dear."

    Or perhaps not.




    Attributes
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    Primary (Social): 8
    Secondary (Mental): 6
    Tertiary (Physical): 4

    Physical:
    Strength ●
    Dexterity ●●●●●
    Stamina ●●

    Social:
    Charisma ●●●●
    Manipulation ●●●●
    Appearance ●●●●●

    Mental
    Perception ●●●●
    Intelligence ●●●●
    Wits ●

    Abilities (Specializations +)
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    [Note: Place [C]aste and [F]avoured tags, for clarity.]
    Total without BP/XP: 28/28

    Archery
    Martial Arts
    Melee
    [F]Thrown ●●●●● (+●●● Protecting others)
    Jade Lotus is a much better fighter when her compassion overcomes her cowardice.
    War

    Integrity
    [F] Performance ●●●●●
    Presence
    Resistance
    Survival

    [F] Craft ●●●●● (+●●● While Drunk)
    Investigation
    [F]Lore ●●●
    Medicine
    Occult ●●●

    [C]Athletics ●●
    [C]Awareness ●●●●
    [C]Dodge ●●●●● (+●●● Close Combat)
    The fear of close combat boosts Jade's reflexes in a more immediate way than any Charm.
    [C]Larceny ●●●●●
    [C]Stealth

    Bureaucracy
    Linguistics ●
    Ride
    Sail
    [F] Socialize ●●●●●
    You can tell when Jade Lotus is lying because her mouth is moving.


    Backgrounds, Artifacts and Equipment:
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    Backgrounds:
    Cult ● (The town of Shan-Yu worships Rising Glory, their goddess of good luck and generosity.)
    Resources ●●
    Artifact ●● (Formerly Known as Shori Mnemon's Infinite Jade Chakram. He was very upset when he discovered it missing.)
    Artifact ● (Also Formerly Known as Shori Mnemon's Orichalcum Chain Shirt. He's going to be even more upset when he realizes this is missing as well.)

    Artifacts and Equipment:
    ●●● Transcendent Phoenix Pinions
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    Tactical flight mode: Spend 3m to move at 15 yards per tick or dash for 25 yards per tick for a number of actions equal to Essence.
    Transit Mode: Spend 5m to move at 60mph for an hour, disengaging upon landing. Quick turns require piloting rolls.
    Add two to DV while flying using the wings.

    ●● Orichalcum Typhoon Wheel
    ●● Hearthstone Bracers
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    Add 3 dice to DV, 2 die to attack damage. Mote commitment=4.

    ● Orichalcum Chain Shirt
    Throwing Needles
    Opium
    Qat


    Charms

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    Thrown
    First Thrown Excellency

    Flashing Draw Mastery
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    Cost: —; Mins: Thrown 3, Essence 2; Type: Permanent
    Keywords: Martial-ready
    Duration: Permanent
    Prerequisite Charms: None
    When challenged, the breathtaking speed with which a Lawgiver calls blade to hand is often the last miracle her opponent witnesses. This Charm represents the unhesitating, blinding speed of a Solar’s genius hands, honed by a lifetime of practice. Add one success to the character’s Join Battle rolls. In addition to this benefit, the character may also reflexively draw or ready a Thrown weapon upon rolling Join Battle, without the need for a miscellaneous action. Finally, all Thrown attacks made during the first tick on which the character acts after rolling Join Battle have a Speed of three.


    Dodge
    Shadow Over Water
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    Cost: 1m; Mins: Dodge 3, Essence 1; Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: None
    The Chosen move like shadows over water—with perfect grace and speed. The maneuver named Shadow Over Water restores defensive advantage to a beleaguered or overextended fighter. This Charm is used in response to an attack. It allows the Exalt to ignore all penalties that apply to her Dodge DV when resolving that attack. Her Dodge DV is still 0 against an undodgeable attack, but she takes no further penalties.

    Seven Shadow Evasion (Compassion)
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    Cost: 8m; Mins: Dodge 4, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive (Step 2)
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Obvious
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: Shadow Over Water
    The Solar hero is too quick for his enemies to land a blow. The Exalt invokes this Charm in response to an attack.
    The attack must not be unexpected. This Charm is a dodge that perfectly defends against the attack—even if the attack is undodgeable.
    This Charm has one of the Four Flaws of Invulnerability
    (see p. 194).


    Performance
    First Performance Excellency
    Respect Commanding Attitude
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    Cost:5m Mins: Performance 3, Essense 2 Type: Simple (Speed 4 in long ticks)
    Keywords: Combo-OK, complusion, Social
    Duration: One scene
    This Charm involves a performance or oration, and the Solar's player rolls an appropriate Social Attribute+Performance. This Charm exerts unnatural mental influence on everyone who can see or hear the character. If the extra successes exceed a given target's MDV, that target suffers a compulsion to stay in the Exalt's company and respectfully observe the performance. Resisting this compulsion for five minutes costs one Willpower, up to a maximum of three Willpower per scene, and such resistance allows the target to leave, heckle or even forcibly silence the character.

    Heart-Compelling Method
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    Cost: 6m; Mins: Performance 4, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Emotion, Social
    Duration: One scene
    The Solar Exalted rise above the common through their understanding of others’ desires. This Charm supplements a
    Performance-based roll to rouse emotion in others. It exerts unnatural mental influence on every valid target of this roll. If their MDV is less than the extra successes on the roll, this Charm inspires the desired emotion intensely for a scene. Resisting the influence costs two Willpower.

    Phantom Conjuring Performance
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    Cost: —; Mins: Performance 3, Essence 3; Type: Permanent
    Keywords: Obvious
    Duration: Variable
    Prerequisite Charms: Any Performance Excellency
    Essence enhances the Solar’s arts. This Charm allows the Solar to create ghostly images, Essence flares, ethereal music and strange sensory effects when using a Performance Excellency or Presence Excellency. These effects do not seem entirely real, they remain within (Essence x 10) yards of the Solar, and they cannot be used to confuse or deceive others without a stunt. This Charm has no cost, but the Solar need not use its effects. At Performance and Essence 4+ a Solar with this Charm may personalize the expressions of his iconic anima displays, changing its appearance each time it flares up. Deathknights with this Charm’s Abyssal Mirror gain the same benefit.

    Memory-Reweaving Discipline
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    Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Performance 5, Essence 2; Type: Simple
    (Speed 5 in long ticks)
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Illusion, Social
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: Phantom-Conjuring Performance, Heart-
    Compelling Method
    The Lawgivers define others’ reality. This Charm is a Performance-based social attack that encourages a specific belief—for example, overwriting the audience’s memories and convincing them that the Solar has always lived in their town. This Charm exerts unnatural mental influence on every valid target of this roll. If their MDV is less than the extra successes on the roll, this Charm inspires them to believe. It also creates an instant commitment (see p. 201) to that belief. Shaking off the illusion requires one Willpower per scene, and the effect lasts until the targets break their commitment to the false belief.

    Husband Seducing Demon Dance
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    Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Performance 5, Essence 3; Type: Simple
    (Speed 6 in long ticks)
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Emotion, Obvious, Social
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: Heart-Compelling Method
    In answer to the call of the Solar Exalted, in ancient times, people gave up their homes and families and marched to war. Some Lawgivers gave speeches and shone with the sun’s radiance, but others called their servants with beauty—piping, dancing or playing at the harp, wordlessly and terribly calling their soldiers to their deaths.
    The Solar gives a performance, her player rolling ([Charisma or Manipulation] + Performance) and adding her Appearance in bonus dice. This Charm exerts unnatural mental influence on all who witness it. Characters with Mental DV less than the Solar’s successes must spend two Willpower or fall instantly in love either with the Solar or something the Solar represents. This effect does not depend on gender or sexual preference. Targets incapable of
    sexual attraction to the Solar suffer starry-eyed infatuation or dedication to the Solar’s cause rather than romantic desire. This love is a form of commitment (see p. 201). Targets can break the commitment naturally but they must spend one Willpower in each scene where they deliberately attempt to shake it off.


    Awareness
    Second Awareness Excellency
    Panoptic Fusion Discipline
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    Cost: 4m; Mins: Awareness 4, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: One scene
    Prerequisite Charms: Any Awareness Excellency
    The Solar's supernal senses expand and his mind speeds up to process a thousand myriad details in a split second. Opponents attempting to strike a Lawgiver using this Charm appear to be moving in slow motion. All of the character's attacks are enhanced as though he had just spent three ticks accumulating dice with an Aim action (as a result, the character may not normally benefit from a true Aim action while this Charm is active), and his DVs are raised by 1 against all physical attacks of which he is aware. None of these bonuses count as dice added by a Charm.
    With Essence 3+, each tick the lawgiver spends Aiming while Panoptic Fusion Discipline is active converts one die provided by this Charm into an automatic success; his opponents seem to slow even more, until their anticipated actions are outlined in golden contrails before the eyes of the Lawgiver.


    Socialize
    Mastery of Small Manners
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    Cost: 1m; Mins: Socialize 2, Essence 1; Type: Reflexive (Step
    1 for attacker, Step 2 for defender)
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Social
    Duration: Until next action
    Prerequisite Charms: None
    The Solar attunes herself to the patterns of human interaction. This Charm makes her responses to social situations
    so natural and appropriate that in social combat she treats all enemy groups as one point of Magnitude smaller than they are (to a minimum of 0.) It also increases her effective Appearance by one dot. When in doubt, other characters will be more apt to do small favors and provide hospitality than not. Finally, this Charm ensures that the character understands the basic motivations of everyone present in the scene, as if her player had rolled three successes on a mundane Investigation roll to estimate each person’s motives.


    Craft
    First Craft Excellency
    Craftsman Needs No Tools
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    Cost: 7m, 1wp; Mins: Craft 4, Essence 3; Type: Supplemental
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: Any
    Craft Excellency
    The Chosen bring harmony to Creation. This Charm supplements a Craft action. It removes the need
    for tools as well as penalties for crafting without tools. The character still needs raw materials. This Charm
    can enhance a Craft action to build something, in which case the character accomplishes (Essence x 3)
    hours of work for each hour invested.

    Crack-Mending Meditation
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    This Charm accomplishes (Essence x 3) hours worth of Normal repair work for each hour invested. It also allows cracks and broken pieces to be mended/sealed together without glue or nails, leaving a join as strong and seamless as if the object were new.


    Larceny
    First Larceny Excellency
    Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise
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    Cost: 7m; Mins: Larceny 4, Essence 2; Type: Simple (Speed
    6 in long ticks)
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: Indefnite
    Prerequisite Charms: Any Larceny Excellency
    After the Usurpation, the last of the Iron Wolves used
    this Charm to move in secret among the armies of the Dragon-
    Blooded. This Charm involves creating a disguise, and the
    player rolls ([Wits or Manipulation] + Larceny) to determine
    the disguise’s quality.
    This Charm allows the character to change his coloration,
    skin texture, hair color, and eye color. It also lets the character
    seem anywhere between half and twice his actual age, change
    his apparent ethnicity, change his apparent gender and adjust his
    height by as much as 10% in either direction. The character can
    adjust his voice, accent, speaking style and scent to match. These
    aspects of the disguise are impenetrable—the flaws are too subtle
    for the eye to see or the ear to hear, so that ordinary Awareness
    and Investigation cannot detect them. Characters with inhuman
    sensory acuity, such as Lawgivers using Keen Sight Technique or
    a dog scenting its master, can see through the character’s disguise,
    but the opposed roll incurs a +4 difficulty penalty.
    This Charm does not help the character imitate others’
    appearance. The disguise is impenetrable, not exact. If someone
    sees through an imitation, they will see the character as
    an imposter who happens to naturally look almost exactly like
    the target the character is impersonating.
    This Charm becomes a mundane disguise effect when the
    magic ends. Changes worked with makeup, posture, attitude
    and costume rather than Essence remain.

    Perfect Mirror
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    Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Larceny 5, Essence 3; Type: Simple
    (Speed 6 in long ticks)
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: One hour
    Prerequisite Charms: Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise
    The Solar Exalted know the secrets of others’ hearts. This Charm
    involves creating a disguise, and the Solar’s player rolls ([Wits or
    Manipulation] + Larceny) to determine the disguise’s quality. This
    Charm functions as Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise, save that it
    has a shorter duration, a higher cost and two additional abilities.
    First, the character can halve or double his apparent Essence—
    as seen by creatures capable of perceiving such things—and can
    appear to possess a mystical trait to the extent that he can emulate
    its mechanical effects. For example, an Essence 4 character could
    disguise himself as an Essence 8 god. If that god’s hair writhes and
    the god floats an inch above the ground, the character convincingly
    models these traits. He does not actually float, however.
    Second, if the character has sufficient familiarity to disguise
    himself as someone else and that person’s appearance is
    within the limits of this Charm, the character can perfectly
    imitate that person. Characters with ordinary senses cannot
    use Awareness or Investigation to see through this disguise,
    and even characters with inhuman sensory acuity—such as
    Lawgivers using All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight to spot the
    disguise Charm or demons recognizing the master to whom they
    are bound—have a +4 difficulty penalty on the opposed roll to
    penetrate the disguise.
    Note that, because ordinary Investigation cannot see
    through this disguise, the character has all the important
    distinguishing features of the imitated target—mannerisms,
    scent, accent and all. He does not know things that only the
    target can know, however, so he cannot give passwords or issue
    countersigns. He is flawless at covering up his ignorance when
    someone attempts to ferret him out, though.

    Flawless Pickpocketing Technique
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    Cost: 3m; Mins: Larceny 2, Essence 1; Type: Supplemental
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: None
    It is the Lawgivers’ right to confiscate goods necessary to the
    service of the Unconquered Sun. This Charm enhances a valid
    pickpocketing roll—that is, a roll to steal something that the character
    can both reach and carry from another’s person. The character
    cannot steal things in active use, such as the sword in someone’s
    hand, the boots from the target’s feet or an artifact to which someone
    has committed motes, unless the target is an extra.
    This Charm guarantees success on the pickpocketing roll. If
    another Charm contests this effect, add the character’s Essence
    in automatic successes to the (Dexterity + Larceny) roll to oppose
    the other Charm. In addition, characters using ordinary
    senses cannot spot the theft with Awareness. Even players of
    characters with inhuman sensory acuity—such as a spider feeling
    for the vibrations in its web while a character attempts to steal
    its larder—have a +4 difficulty penalty on the opposed roll to
    catch the character in the act.

    Lock Opening Touch
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    Cost: 3m; Mins: Larceny 3, Essence 1; Type: Supplemental
    Keywords: Combo-OK
    Duration: Instant
    Prerequisite Charms: None
    Mortal thieves must struggle with lockpicks
    and thieves’ tools. The Exalted may use Essence.
    This Charm enhances a miscellaneous action to pick a lock.
    It makes success automatic even if the character has no tools
    (though such use makes the Charm Obvious). If this effect is
    opposed by another Charm or magical effect, add the character’s
    Essence in automatic successes to the (Dexterity + Larceny)
    roll to oppose the rival magic.




    Social and Mental Combat
    Spoiler
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    Attacks:
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    Typhoon Wheel
    Speed 5 | Accuracy: +3 | Damage: +7L/4 | Rate: 2 | Range: 70 | Tags: O
    Formerly Known as Shori Mnemon's Infinite Jade Chakram
    Speed: 4 | Acc: 0 | Damage: +4L | Range: 50 | Rate: 4 | Attune: 2
    Throwing Needles
    Speed: 5 | Acc: -1 | Damage: +1L | Range: 30 | Rate: 3 | Tags: P
    Punch: Speed: 5 | Acc: +1 | Damage: 1B | Parry DV: +2 | Rate: 2
    Feet: Speed: 5 | Acc: 0 | Damage: 4B | Parry DV: 3 | Rate: 2
    Clinch: Speed: 6 | Acc: 0 | Damage: 3B | Parry DV: 1 | Rate: 1

    Dodge DV: 7 (8 in close combat)

    Permanent Charms (Effects)
    Ox-Body Technique x1 (one -1 HL and two -2 HLs, free)

    Soak:
    Bashing: 9B (5 Orichalcum Chain Shirt + 2 Stamina)
    Lethal: 8L (7 Orichalcum Chain Shirt + 1 Stamina)
    Aggravated: 0

    Hardness:
    Bashing: 4 Chain Shirt
    Lethal: 4 Chain Shirt
    Aggravated: 0

    Health:
    -0 [ ]
    -1 [ ][ ][ ]
    -2 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
    -4 [ ]
    X [ ]

    Mental Defenses:
    Dodge MDV: 6 (base) 11 (Sifu's Useful Fingers)
    Charisma Parry MDV:
    >Presence: 4
    >Performance: 5
    Manipulation Parry MDV:
    >Performance: 4


    Languages:
    Low Realm (Native)
    High Realm

    Intimacies, Virtues and Essence:
    Spoiler
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    Intimacies
    +The town of Shan-Yu (Protectiveness and embarrassment)
    +Cowardice (Keeps her safe)
    +Street Urchins (Sympathy and empathy)
    +Pretty things (Greed/Mine!)
    +Her appearance (Vanity)
    +Versi (More than a mark)
    +Zhou: (Sharper Than He Looks)
    +Ireva (Secondary Character: Worthy Antagonist)
    +Xet (Secondary Character: Entertaining Love Interest)

    -The Truth (compulsive liar)
    -Slavery (Disgust and horror)
    -Seduction (Asexuality)
    -Dirt and dirty things (Away! Away! Off! Somebody get it off!)
    -Lookshy (The Fun Police)
    -Authority (Distrust)
    -Braga (Needs my help)

    Incomplete Intimacies

    Deathknights -(Inhuman)


    Virtues:
    Spoiler
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    Compassion ●●●●●
    Conviction ●●
    Temperance ●
    Valor ●

    Virtue channels expended:
    Compassion 0/5

    Virtue Flaw/Flawed Virtue:
    Destructive Redistribution of Wealth/Compassion
    Spoiler
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    Torn between her greed and her own guilt at it, Jade seeks refuge by engaging in a long, terrible bout of kleptomania, stealing anything and everything that she lays her eyes on. Then, overcome by guilt at her actions, she burns or destroys any of her gains she considers 'ill-gotten'. Though she remains in control enough to not steal from the other PCs or people she has positive intimacies with, through this Break Jade can turn herself and a whole community around her destitute.
    Partial Control: Jade will not steal from the absolutely desperate, the starving, and can restrain her kleptomania if she or someone she knows is in danger.
    Duration: One full day.
    Limit Break Condition: Jade is reminded by how her actions have adversely affected others, either though seeing the consequences of her own crimes or others.


    Limit: 1/10


    Permanent Willpower: ●●●●● ●●●●●●
    Temporary Willpower: 10/10

    Essence:
    Permanent: ●●●
    Personal: 19/19 [(Permanent Essence x3)+Willpower]
    Peripheral: 32/40 (2 attuned to Infinite Jade Chakram, 2 attuned to Chain Shirt, 4 attuned to bracers) [(Permanent Essence x7)+Willpower)+Sum of Virtues]

    Anima banner: 0


    Bonus Points and XP:
    Spoiler
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    Bonus Points: Total: 0/30
    Specialtyx2 = 2
    Appearance 4 > 5 = 4
    Craft 4 > 5 = 1
    Lore 2 > 3 = 1
    Awareness 0 > 4 = 4
    Socialize 4 > 5 = 1
    Thrown 4 > 5 = 1
    Dodge 0 > 5 = 5
    Willpower 5 > 10 = 5
    Artifact 1 = 1
    Essence 2 > 3 = 7

    Experience Points.
    2nd dot of Linguistics (in progress): -2
    Total: 33

    Phantom Conjuring Performance = 8
    Memory-Reweaving Discipline = 8
    Husband Seducing Demon Dance = 8
    Perfect Mirror = 8
    Manipulation 3 > 4 = 12
    Stamina 1 > 2 = 4
    Athletics 0 > 2 = 2

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Maugan Ra's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    ...oh, right. I was waiting for Skandi's sheet.

    *winces*
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    A heads-up: I'm going to be in China for the next week (leaving Sunday, returning next Saturday). I would be pretty surprised if this website is blocked by the Great Firewall, but anything Google-related is usually blocked, so I probably won't be able to be involved in any googledoc conversations for that time. Also, I'll be on a plane for a day or so at each end of the week, so please try to avoid having dramatic fast-paced developments that would be highly pertinent to Ireva during those periods
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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.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ifni View Post
    please try to avoid having dramatic fast-paced developments that would be highly pertinent to Ireva during those periods
    ...Imma gonna go liberate Thorns. How hard could it be?

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    It's such a shame that Ifni wasn't around when we forged that peace deal between Lookshy and the Realm. I'm sure she'd have liked to have been part of that.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2015-09-05 at 06:01 PM.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    When I come back and there's a Firada-Jade-Braga love triangle going on, I'll know exactly who to blame

    I think Ireva and Isa have wrapped up their post-interrogation debriefing, and Ireva is heading back over to Fire Orchid's tent - where it looks like she won't find Zhou, since Jade is intercepting Isa when Isa gets back to her tent, after Jade's talk with Zhou, which happens after Zhou finishes talking to Fire Orchid.

    I think the timeline goes:
    -Jade, Braga and Versi are talking; Ireva, Isa, Zhou and Fire Orchid are talking
    -Jade leaves, Ireva and Isa leave
    -Ireva and Isa see Jade going past, so go find Braga and Versi, Zhou and Fire Orchid keep talking (in progress OOC)
    -Zhou leaves Fire Orchid's tent, Jade ambushes him (googledoc)
    -After they finish talking, Jade goes to wait for Isa at her tent
    -Isa and Ireva finish talking to Braga and Versi (googledoc), leave and have a conversation (another googledoc)
    -Ireva goes back to Fire Orchid's tent, looking for Zhou, and Isa goes off to her tent and gets intercepted by Jade (googledoc in progress)

    If Fire Orchid is still awake and interested in talking, Ireva might have a conversation with her, if that is possible. If Fire Orchid is still awake but clearly doesn't want to talk, Ireva would ask her to station a guard outside Skandi's tent, and then leave and go look for Zhou. If Fire Orchid is already asleep, I think Ireva's going to go to Skandi's tent and plan to stand outside guarding it herself, until the sun comes up. (She might also go inside and set all his belongings in order, and check for anything that looks private and that he might not want strangers to see - if that won't interfere with any other ongoing conversations.)

    Would any of those interfere with any other ongoing conversations? I have not been keeping up.

    In terms of taking up time, if the outcome is either of the latter two options, we can either just say it happened OOC (stationing a guard), or I can cover it in a single vignette (Ireva stands guard). I am fine with avoiding the first option if it would take too much OOC time - Ireva does have things she wants to say to FO, but I can probably cover the salient points at the funeral.

    Ireva also has some WCWTs to send off to various Lunars, but I'll leave that until tomorrow in-game as IC Ireva knows she's tired and OOC I suspect the recent interlude might be relevant. But she would definitely do this within a day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maugan Ra View Post
    Depends what you mean. I was kind of intending to have Zhou and Fire Orchid actually have their private family talk, since this seemed as good a time as any and I don't think they've actually conversed like this so far.
    I remember Maugan asking for this - is their conversation going to continue in the IC? Is it continuing in a googledoc? Or is this just as much as the two of them are willing to talk about family?
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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.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Good news: this site is indeed accessible in China
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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.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Since I accidentally managed to lock myself out of interacting with anyone else, would it be all right to transition Braga's meditations into that dream sequence I've been planning? Seems like it'd fit in here pretty well.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2015-09-08 at 12:19 AM.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Hey guys. Status update from Indy: his home internet is down and the repair crew aren't due until Saturday US time

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Well, I hope nobody objected to that dream sequence, because it's posted.

    None of these fit the flow of the post quite well enough for me to link them in it, but these three Pink Floyd songs went into the writing:

    Goodbye Blue Sky (film version)

    The Thin Ice
    Welcome to the Machine

    The Malfeas-on-Earth segment might be a bit too prophetic, since Braga doesn't really have any direct cause to fear that at this point. If you'd like, I can delete it, I just thought it worked well as a transition into his vision of the siege of Lookshy.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

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  19. - Top - End - #19
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    I think all of us are guilty, at some point or other, of engaging blatant foreshadowing.

    It's one of the bonuses of knowing where a game is headed for once (presumably - I put it at 0.20 odds that there are surprises, which are always best when people are certain they know what's going to happen)

    Very nice sequence, BTW. Lovely imagery.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Thank you very much. It was fun to write. I'm glad I waited til now to do it, though... when I first concepted his nightmare sequence, all I had was the vision of him on the walls of Lookshy as an armored warrior with a demonic retinue, but he's got much more to trouble his sleep now.
    Braga avatar by Luci!

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  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Seconded; that is a very evocative set of nightmares. Does a nice job of blending recognizable fears with nonsensical dream-logic.
    Avatar by GryffonDurime. Thanks!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
     
    industrious's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    I liked it!

    ...Yeah, sorry guys. Cable companies are terrible, in case you haven't noticed.
    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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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Maugan Ra's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    I also liked the dream sequence. It was a pretty good study of Braga's hopes and fears, done in a suitably strange, dream-like way.

    Naturally I started reflecting on the possibility of doing one for Zhou, but I don't think he has as many different things worrying him right now.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    And back from China!

    Agreed with everyone else, that was a very well-written and powerful dream sequence

    If it won't interfere with anything else, industrious, can I assume that when Ireva comes looking for Zhou and FO, the lights are out in FO's tent? (for consistency with other scenes, Zhou has to have already left, and while I'd be happy to do an Ireva/FO conversation, it seems like it might take up precious ST time that could be better spent on plot progression)

    If so then she'll go over to Skandi's tent, and I can write her keeping vigil through the night, if that doesn't interfere with any other scenes. While it's not a big deal one way or another, I think I might be able to get a nice vignette out of it. One thing that's showing up with this Limit Break is that for Ireva, the Great Curse doesn't erase certain Conviction-based good qualities like loyalty and wanting to honor her friend's memory - instead, it warps them into justifications to ignore both others' pain and her own. (SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK.)

    I asked above but it probably got missed in Cable Companies Are Terrible: is Zhou and FO's private family talk continuing / going to happen, or is it coming to a close there?
    Last edited by Ifni; 2015-09-14 at 01:03 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.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Maugan Ra's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    The private family talk is not ongoing as far as I am aware. I'm currently writing a googledoc with DnD about Zhou and Jade playing gateway/discussing things, but I can't seem to edit it right now. I have the app on my pad but it keeps saying 'can't review documents without an Internet connection' despite the fact that I am, in fact, online.
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    You know, considering the response to that dream sequence, maybe I should just drop everything else and reapply with, like... a Quicksilver Hand of Dreams stylist. Or a Raksha.
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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ifni View Post
    And back from China!

    Agreed with everyone else, that was a very well-written and powerful dream sequence

    If it won't interfere with anything else, industrious, can I assume that when Ireva comes looking for Zhou and FO, the lights are out in FO's tent? (for consistency with other scenes, Zhou has to have already left, and while I'd be happy to do an Ireva/FO conversation, it seems like it might take up precious ST time that could be better spent on plot progression)

    If so then she'll go over to Skandi's tent, and I can write her keeping vigil through the night, if that doesn't interfere with any other scenes. While it's not a big deal one way or another, I think I might be able to get a nice vignette out of it. One thing that's showing up with this Limit Break is that for Ireva, the Great Curse doesn't erase certain Conviction-based good qualities like loyalty and wanting to honor her friend's memory - instead, it warps them into justifications to ignore both others' pain and her own. (SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK.)

    I asked above but it probably got missed in Cable Companies Are Terrible: is Zhou and FO's private family talk continuing / going to happen, or is it coming to a close there?
    Yeah, you can assume the lights are out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maugan Ra View Post
    The private family talk is not ongoing as far as I am aware. I'm currently writing a googledoc with DnD about Zhou and Jade playing gateway/discussing things, but I can't seem to edit it right now. I have the app on my pad but it keeps saying 'can't review documents without an Internet connection' despite the fact that I am, in fact, online.
    Sorry - I wanted to have the private family talk, but work (and the Cable Companies That Shall Not Be Named) got in the way. Let's assume it happened, but I'd like to advance the plot at this point?
    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

    Campaigns:
    Gotham: Year One
    Earth-52(abandoned) OOC
    RotSE II III] OOC2

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Maugan Ra's Avatar

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    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    I've got no problem with advancing the plot. Advance away!
    "Not trusting me might be the smartest decision you made since getting off of your horse."

    Avatar by Ifni, who is rightly awesome.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    Advance!

    Does this mean we now have the time to spend all of our banked XP?

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Troll in the Playground
     
    industrious's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Mordor
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: RoTSE VII - The Essence Awakens!

    You know what?

    Let's go with yes.
    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

    Campaigns:
    Gotham: Year One
    Earth-52(abandoned) OOC
    RotSE II III] OOC2

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