As Feather stood atop that palisade wall of Sahen with T’dara the barbarian horde of beastmen continued their charge toward the city through the jungles.
Jin La surveyed the battle with a careful and practiced eye gaining information about our opponents and the best place to locate defenders of the city should the need arise.
Ebai drank in the shadows around him fading into them and vanishing from site.
Feather summoned a glowing golden copy of his spear that dripped molten sunlight.
T’dara assumed her dreaded Steel Devil form and readied herself for combat.
Varius was still stuck in prison.
Ebai dropped off the wall first and was promptly shot by an Archer hidden in the trees, a bit of a shock given Ebai’s stealthy nature.
Jin La began calling upon the powers of sorcery and shaping his essence into fearsome Wood Dragon’s claws.
T’dara and Feather dropped off the wall together and began their assault on the charging horde of beastmen. Both T’dara and Feather struck solid blows against the onrushing beastmen. T’dara spun between their legs dancing through the battlefield and felling beastmen with her deadly blades. Feather leapt from the wall and flipped the molten spear into the air, calling forth the Six Feathers of Heaven from Elsewhere he whirled the spear above his head and drove it into the ground before the oncoming enemy. With explosive fury burning feathers of essence struck out toward the horde slicing them to shreds and slaying a number of them. As the molten reflection of the spear fell to his side Feather caught it and flourished it ready to continue battle.
At the back of the relentless mob a beastwoman stood wielding a moonsilver grim cleaver. She charged Feather with murderous intent crossing the entire length of the battlefield in one breath and clashing with Feather.
Within the walls of Sahen a strange figure began some sort of dark blood fueled ritual Blood like essence pouring from his eyes as it began to form a halo about him. With the blood of his anima he anointed the defenders of the town before stalking with them toward the door. They proceeded to then charge out of the palisade and into battle with the advancing mass. As they did so a mandala of blood filled the air above the stranger raining down an eldritch pattern onto the soil. The soil drank it up like a man lost in the desert.
Joining the shaman on the battlefield, manifesting for a brief moment was the plague spirit known as Roga. Her pestilent from dissolving into a deadly green mist as it flowed into the lungs of the onrushing beastmen. As we watched the blood that was let loose by the various attacks across the battlefield joined with the anima of the strange witch doctor, darkening it to a deep deep crimson. In a sibilant tongue none of us spoke he called to the men of Sahen before sinking into the earth beneath his feet as if it were water.
The Horde itself charged down upon T’dara and Feather their attacks were turned aside by the two exalts though T’dara took a few cuts here and there.
Seeing Feather’s assault on the horde and how effective it was in reducing their numbers the hidden archer took aim at Feather and let loose a destructive attack. An arrow streaked across the battlefield straight for his heart. Seeming to strike him but in the last moments before the arrow sunk into his flesh and pierced his heart his body blurred and his spear was there cleaving the arrow in twain and turning the attack away.
Jin La drew deep upon the essence of creation shaping it with deadly intent. He leapt into the air behind the palisade wall on wings of essence that coalesced into thousands of obsidian butterflies that rained death upon the horde devastating them with deadly efficiency.
Ebai seeing this hidden archer’s attempt to end the life of his circle mate struck out hurling his knives with brutal efficiency. While the archer was not slain he was wounded deeply his arm crippled by Ebai’s strike.
The bestial woman, sensing an opportunity and seeing the deadly sorcerous assault unleashed by Jin La turned her attention to the town. In another blur of motion she soared over the defenders and shattered the door of the wall with one mighty swing of her grim cleaver.
Jin La said “Eep”
The horde seeing their leader charge for the doors and shatter them broke from T’dara and Feather and charged after her engaging the defenders in combat.
T’dara flowed once more into battle with the horde dancing along the broken ruins of the door and the spears of the defenders before dropping low into the spaces between spinning upward through the attackers with deadly precision. Their numbers reduced greatly the horde wavered but did not turn away from battle.
Watching as his opponent began a charge toward Jin La, Feather turned and called out to the beastwoman hurling his molten sun spear at her with great force and charging behind the blade. Moments before the spear would impact it vanished into a shower of essence. Behind it came the true attack. Leaping into the air and calling out to his blade the Sixth Feather of Heaven that had been lodged in the ground since it had first been drawn from Elsewhere. The spear dissolved into a cloud of white hot feathers that streaked across the battlefield to Feather’s outstretched hand. As they past through the combatants below they tore into them rending them much like his first attack against the Horde. When the cloud met Feather’s outstretched hand it reformed into the signature form and with a mighty roar and eruption of essence Feather struck down upon the beastwoman. His onslaught pushed her back sending her staggering and off balance away from her original target.
As Feather’s attack ended the ground beneath everyone’s feet began to blacken growing darker and more ominous by the moment. Nearly everyone on the battlefield was struck by a primal fear of that blackened earth, as if knowing it would soon swallow them whole and draw them down into its choking, crushing embrace.
This broke the attacking horde and sent them scattering and screaming back into the jungle. Seeing the fear in the beastwoman’s eyes Feather leapt up onto the wall with Jin La getting away from the blackened ground. The beastwoman leapt off into the trees fleeing the battle. The Archer vanished into the jungle and the battle was won.
In the center of town the strange sanguine shaman rose from the ground his bloody anima fading away and with it the fear of the earth that seemed to nag at the back of most everyone’s head. Along with the shaman Roga manifested at his side. Seeing her Jin La left the field frustration written plainly upon his face as he stalked back toward the road that had led us into town. Ebai was no where to be seen which left Feather and T’dara to approach the stranger and his celestial side kick.
Conversation was had, where in a few things were learned.
This assault had been a plan set in motion by Roga and the strange sanguine exalt to infect Ma Ha Suchi’s beast man army with a creeping plague.
The stranger spoke a language neither T’dara or Feather spoke though it bore similarities to Old Realm.
The stranger was actually the relative of the man we had been sent to town to deliver a package to, and Theat(sp) was very dead as proven by the fact that the witch doctor seemingly wielded Theat’s femur as a fetish.
Through Roga we were able to convince this stranger to accept the package, absolving our obligation of delivery.
The exalt was not pleased by the package crushing the head into dust in a rather fancy display before asking who would insult him in such a way.
Holding no love in our hearts for Boss Tabusa we let him know at which point he requested that we allow him to join us on our return trip to Champoor so that he could pay a visit to Tabusa.
T’dara and Feather agreed seeing no reason why not and an easy truce was called between the circle and Roga as Feather entreated her to perform no actions within Champoor that would set Jin La or Ebai against her. As the goddess did not wish to anger an entire circle of Solar exalts she acquiesced and offered to allow the old plague god of the area to serve as her vassal within the Champoorie area. This was agreed upon and Roga left us with the bloody exalt.
Through hand gestures and pantomime we learned his name was Nagata. The three mismatched companions went in search of the rest of the circle finding Ebai and Evora coming back toward town headed toward the wounded men. At the cart Varius and Jin La were conversing and when Feather, T’dara and Nagata approached Jin La brightened noticeably.
Again through pantomime and diligent work Jin La was able to communicate a bit with Nagata. Evora recognized a bit of his language but it was very very old, and a tribal dialect she could not place.
Sensing the need for a translator Ebai and T’dara went off to do “D’jalla” things which turned out to be summoning the imp within the coin Boiling Rhino had given Ebai and Feather a while back. The imp was not pleased to see T’dara at all though begrudgingly took the Eclipse’s message to Boiling Rhino, who declined to make a deal with her at this current time.
While Feather and Varius relaxed in the Tavern and enjoyed a bit of food Jin La and Ngata continued to attempt to communicate. Sensing Jin La’s desire to speak, and probably realizing it would be a rather odd trip otherwise Nagata rose from the table in the tavern and returned to the site of the battle.
At the battle site Nagata took the corpse of one of the fallen men, whispering strange words into the dead mans ears and digging his fingers into the corpse’s eyes he began to exert essence into the body. With a gasp and a guttural shutter the corpse reanimated, the dead man begging to be allowed to live, to return to his family. The sanguine exalt whispered to him in that strange tongue kneeling over the now struggling corpse. In the words Feather and Jin La caught Lethe and the exalt leaned over the body pressing his hand over the mouth of the dead man and pushing the blood red essence down into its throat.
As the body writhed Nagata reached a hand into the mouth and drew out the corpse’s tongue pulling it from the flesh like fresh clay from the earth. Doing the same to his own tongue Nagata swapped the two and in a voice that was not his own turned to Feather and Jin La and spoke the tongue that the former dead man spoke, which was rather convenient.
With that the various exalts retired for the evening to rest and recoup after repelling the invaders.
In the morning breakfast found Ebai, Nagata and the rest of the circle along with Evora eating breakfast. Everyone went their separate ways for the morning and early afternoon.
Feather went off to enjoy some company of a few of the local village girls.
T’dara went to the market to obtain some spices and other goods for the trip back
Ebai, Evora and Varius relaxed at the tavern while Jin La and Nagata went to visit Sahen’s Shaman.
Ebai and T’dara were able to needle out of Evora why exactly she does not like Feather as much and it turns out that he reminds her of someone from her past.
At the Shaman’s hut while discussing various herbs and other local shamanistic practices Nagata noticed a large bone hanging on the back of the Shaman’s wall and became concerned over it.
Later when Jin La asked him about it he revealed that it was an ill omen, a portent of danger for Sahen.
Finished with their activities the rather odd and eclectic group of exalts loaded up the cart and left Sahen behind them headed back toward Champoor. Just before sundown Jin La requested they stop traveling for the evening.
Somewhere between Sahen and the Wolf God’s village the group stopped, on a hill near the edge of the jungle away from the road a bit Jin La began prepping a ritual, drawing arcane symbols in the ground, placing various occult items, fetishes, and other acoutremant in a pattern around this circle he then ringed it with salt. Once that was done he drew a smaller and equally intricate circle for himself. As twilight fell about the jungle and his caste mark flared upon his brow Jin La began the ritual.
Infusing the circles with his essence Jin La began a low chant. In the air arc and flashes of essence wound themselves around the barrier inscribing in the sky itself a manifestation of Jin La’s arcane will. For hours Jin La sat and worked his sorcerous intent upon the world. Placing bits of fetid and rotted meat into the large circle the ritual reached its peak. At midnight with the flash of Ebai’s caste mark the ritual ended and all of Jin La’s workings snapped into perfect focus and purpose. A sickly green gateway rent open the air within the circle revealing a portal to a dark brass landscape of hellish green fire and the stink of rotted meat and other stranger, more nightmarish scents.
Crawling forth from the portal drawn by Jin La’s will and the offering of rotten offal came a demon. The strange creature was covered in a brass like carapace, its small roach like head swinging around searching for the source of the call and the offerings put forth before it. Long grasshopper like legs propelled it out of the portal and into creation. Behind it the portal closed and it was left within the circle of arcane sigils and salt. Seeing the salt, the pure essence of it, the demon drew away hissing and perching within the center of the circle.
At that moment it locked eyes with Jin La, in Old Realm a bargain was struck between the sorcerer and the Sesseljae, for a year and a day it would serve Jin La’s will. With the accord struck Jin La flourished his hands, his essence reaching out from him and smoothly transitioning the circle opening a path for the demon to him. With a bounding leap the strange demonic bug folded in upon itself and flowed into Jin La’s hand as if the flesh was made of water. The eerie bulge of the beetle moved up Jin La’s arm and across his body before disappearing into his flesh settling somewhere deep within his core.
Jin la shuddered and rose the strangeness of the sensations showing in his expression. With the ritual complete the circle was getting ready to bed down for the night when they noticed movement at the jungle’s edge. A small and furtive shape approached the circle crouching before Jin La and speaking hesitantly.
It introduced itself as Ophellum(sp) a representative of a tribe of people from within the jungle that sought refuge from the great beasts coming assault with the Golden Kings. Legends of its people told of the golden warriors who protected and cared for the people of creation and so it begged to be allowed to join the circle on their journey back along with the rest of its tribe.
There was some discussion about the viability of that before the circle settled on letting the tribesmen join them on the journey back to Champoor. Discussion then turned to the fears that had driven the little forest man to the circle. With the defeat of the beastman horde at the gates of Sahen it was surmised that Ma Ha Suchi may seek vengeance or reprisal. Being a mad and ancient exalt that could go very very poorly for the various peoples within the area.
The circle, Nagata, and Evora began a discussion on how to deal with the threat posed by Ma Ha Suchi, knowing that the ancient creature was a chosen of Luna, Feather called out into the night and from the jungle Emerald joined the conversation, shifting from her graceful panther shape into the small lithe form of a young woman. Upon seeing and hearing the situation she counceled that Ma Ha Suchi would most certainly seek reprisal, and should he take true umbrage at what was done would burn the entire jungle from Sahen to Champoor’s walls if he felt it would lead him to the circle and his revenge.
While discussing this the little leaf man continued to seek protection from the looming threat. When the circle began to offer it Emerald snarled at the little cowering figure and demanded that he tell the circle of the tribes deeds so that we would know what we protect, and would know that his tribe was not as innocent as they might first seem.
Ophellum(sp) refused at first backing away from Emerald’s snarling visage, when he still would not speak she shifted into her gargantuan war form, and roared at the tribesman to tell. The small creature began to speak, telling of how his village would steal children from the surrounding area to offer up as sacrifices to the great beast. The last of his words ended in a gurgling death rattle as Ebai filled the small creature with knives severing the things head from its body.
That ended the conversation about the Leaf man tribe and the discussion turned back to Ma Ha Suchi.
Ma Ha Suchi went from a background threat all the way to the front of the line. T’dara proposed that we return to Sahen and gather the people willing to move south. Then gather as many as we could from each and every village along the way until we reached Champoor.
To face Ma Ha Suchi though would take some serious allies and so the discussion moved toward who the circle should approach and how to go about doing that. One of the things the group knew they would need would be information on Ma Ha Suchi’s plans and movements.
Without an agent in his organization the circle would have no way of gathering that information. Emerald offered to go to Ma Ha Suchi and pledge herself to his cause, if she could work from within she would be able to send information to Feather and the circle, or if need be, gather as much information as she could and then run for it.
Feather and Ebai both spoke up as that not being a very great plan, but as it was the only one they had Feather would not stop Emerald from making the choice.
Emerald left the decision up to the circle on whether or not she would infiltrate the great beast’s encampment.
That left the circle with options, those options being:
1) Reach out to the Court of Secrets and see what assistance Tenepeshu and her court could offer against Ma Ha Suchi.
2) Seek alliance with the Death Lord upon his soulsteel ship
3) Seek out Mahaballa in Yadana and ask his counsel upon the ancient Elder Lunar threat.
4) Look to Kamthahar and the forces there.
5) Look fruther south to Palanquin or Ysir
6) Look to Heaven and try to find allies among the Celestial Bureaucracy
7) A combination or all of the above.
The circle stands, the question hanging heavy in the air, what do they do next?