Exalted: Tales of the Dreaming Sea

The Battle of Sahen
Game Session recap for August 25th

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?

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Man or Monster?
(Downtime Fiction)

Man or Monster

The grass was soft beneath his back as he lay there looking up at the stars above. The warmth at his side stirred briefly rolling over and draping a soft brown arm across his chest, the muscles tensing briefly as whatever dream she was having played out in her mind. In the sky above Luna hung brilliant and pale her light almost as brilliant as the noon day sun to his Champoori eyes.

He had come out here, out beyond the bounds of the city into the forests to the South shortly after they had returned to Champoor. The actions he had taken, when compared with the world around him plagued his mind. Upon returning to Champoor the old habits and old ways had settled on him like a comfortable old coat. It was so easy to slip back into the patterns of life in Champoor. So much so that he had murdered a man in cold blood with no thought qualm about it, simply cut the man down like wheat before a scythe. Did that make him a monster, was he no better than the iron mouthed savage that currently ruled in the BLANK district. Instead of turning to his circle mates he had come here, to seek solace in the arms of someone who was more a stranger than a trusted friend.
What was it about this woman that pulled at him so much, why did he value her opinion over Jin La’s or Tadara’s or Ebai’s why was she the one he had turned to. He had tried to talk to Silver Shade about it but the old ghost had reacted poorly to the story. He had said that he would be unable to assist in matters concerning her and that it would be best that Feather not mention Silver Shade to her either. Feather did not like keeping secrets from his new companion, in fact he felt doing so was a betrayal of the deepest sort, but Silver Shade had been a wise and honest mentor for most of Feather’s life so he accepted the ghosts word and did not mention him to Emerald.

He had talked around the point of why he had come to her, alluding to what had been done without saying it outright. He did not want to violate his oath sworn to Thali Kama and the words of Emerald had offered him some comfort. She was an absolutely pragmatic woman, she had told him that death was part of the cycle that the strong must survive and the weak could be protected only for so long. Weakness could not be coddled nor could it be allowed to thrive. Only through trial, tribulation, danger and death would the spirit of man be tempered enough to survive in the world. Her words echoed Silver Shade’s and they mirrored his life on the streets of Champoor. The man he killed, was not a good man, not even a decent man, he was a peddler of drugs, someone who capitalized on the weakness of children. He was a predator, and the fact that he fell at the hands of a stronger predator only illustrated the point his Mentor and his lover had made. The strong survive, the weak get stronger or die, that is the way of Creation and it will always be the way of creation.
His companion stirred again, her luminous eyes opening, the deep green nearly pulling him in as he looked at her. She smiled, and it was the smile of a hunter, of a predator, her nails became claws as she slowly raked them across his chest, drawing a bit of blood. “I like you Sun Warrior, you are strong, you are good in bed, and for some reason I feel drawn to you, as if you are a part of me.”

She rose above him straddling him her body outlined against the bright of the moon, she was a shadow above him and only her eyes and her predatory smile revealed that she was anything more than that, a shadow. She lifted her hand from his chest looking at the droplets of blood glistening there in the moonlight before licking them clean; her eyes never leaving his. “I am going to mark you Sun Warrior, you will be mine, and no others. I know you will dally with the painted women of your shadowed city and I do not mind that, but your heart belongs to me now, if you give it to another I will come for you and claim what is rightfully mine. If you have need of me, whisper my name to the shadows and I will come to you. But know that if you call me into the streets of your benighted city that you will deal with what comes from that, and it will not be cheap. But you are mine, so I will defend what belongs to me when needed.” With that she drove her clawed hand into the flesh of his chest, and began to draw. There was pain, but there was also pleasure thanks to other things she was doing.

He made it back to the city just as dawn was cresting somewhere outside the bounds of Champoor. He knew because of the telltale glitter of his caste mark. He was sore and a bit bloodied but nothing too extreme. The Guild guardsmen at the gate looked him up and down as he walked through the gateway into the city, he didn’t look his best, but a quick hand sign in Guild Cant stopped them from asking any questions, they waved him past and he made his way back to the Maiden, but not before stopping to wash up and grab a bite to eat.

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The Viridian Shade Among the Trees
(Downtime Fiction)

Ydanna had been a strange city so far, filled with so many happy people, it felt like no other place he had ever experienced. It was such a stark contrast to life in Champoor that he was almost unsure how to behave within the city. Some of his companions took to the city as if born for it, others were filled with trepidation waiting for something dark and sinister to appear.

Mahaballa the ruler of the city had once been a full moon caste lunar, akin to his own dawn caste, a warrior, a fighter, a killer. At some point Mahaballa found a different path, he ripped the moonsilver tattoos from his own flesh and chose a new path. The city feels so different than his home. When Feather spoke with Mahaballa and said that this city was not for him, that by staying in that place he would only destroy it with his presence, it was a truth he believed to the core of his being. He knew he was a killer, had known it since before he exalted and was chosen by Sol Invictus to be a supreme warrior.

To see a once great warrior walking away from that path and down another one, embracing that strange form of peace and tranquility it felt nearly anathema to everything Feather had known his entire life. It was simply not something he could reconcile.

He found himself walking along the edge of the city, out past the tents and small markets that trailed into the jungles around Ydanna, he carried with him a small pack, within it a flask of honeyed wine, some food, and some other small items that he had spent the afternoon gathering in the city. If what Mahaballa had told him was true then he would be able to use these to show the mysterious Lunar who haunted his dreams that he meant no harm and only wished to speak.

He found a small clearing at the edge of the jungle and set about making preparations, as he went through the motions that Mahaballa had taught him he could feel eyes watching him from the shadows. Night came early to the jungle and Feather sensed predatory eyes watching him. That same soft female voice floated to him from between the trees. “You call for peace, to speak to me under a banner of tranquility and non-agression in the old ways of my people. Has the ancient oath-breaker taught you that this will save you from my claws? Has he softened you already with his talks of peace and joy sun warrior?”

“He has not Hidden Emerald, I asked that he teach me a way to show you I wished to speak and that I would mean you no harm, this is what he showed me. And for what it is worth, it worked.” Feather said with a smile.

“Ha,” Came a laugh from the shadows. “If you still have your warrior’s heart than show me.”

Without a moment’s notice a ghostly figure strikes at Feather from behind. The fight is fast and silent, Feather concentrates on parrying the attacks. Her strikes came from all directions like smoke swirling above a fire. She would be standing in front of him but her attack would come from behind him, yet it was not illusion. She was toying with him, and using some form of martial art, some sort of strange style of shadow and stealth.

“You are not bad sun warrior, yet all you have done is block my attacks, can you land no blows of your own. The spirits whisper tales of a great Warrior from the shadowed city, so strong was he that he defeated the ancient and unkillable Kagada Shar. I had thought perhaps you were that warrior but alas all you can do is deflect the most simple of attacks.” Her voice was teasing and playful like a predator toying with prey.

Feather began to laugh as he deflected blow after blow his defense solid and unbreakable. In the space between one heartbeat and the next his stance shifted and it was as if a great weight pressed down upon the clearing. The grass around them was blown flat by the invisible force of his aura. With a crack like thunder the great spear the Six Feathers of Heaven appeared in his hand and he began to press an attack. His spear spun in a blinding arc brilliant light as he struck out toward the ghostly lunar. Around the clearing golden feathers began to manifest crackling with essence and hanging in the air glistening like so many crystaline shards of sunlight.

The once dark clearing was illuminated in brilliant light as the spear whirled above the Dawn caste’s head. With a great leap he rose into the air and slammed the point of the blade deep into the earth, as he did so all around him the feathers struck, shredding the jungle foliage and pinning the elusive No Moon to the jungle floor.

Feather stood above her his anima dancing along his skin, as the arcs and whorls of golden essence danced along his skin silvery echoes began to dance along the young woman trapped beneath his blade. He saw no fear in her brilliant green eyes, only the fires of passion and perhaps a bit of something else there.

A wicked smile stretched her lips wide revealing cat like fangs, and in a laughing voice she said, “There may be hope for you yet sun warrior, you have shown yourself to be a true fighter, though you are still new to the path you walk. For your skill I will give you my name, I am Orana Kyeema The Viridian Shade Among the Trees, chosen of Luna under no moon. Whisper it to the shadows and I will hear, and maybe, if I feel like it, I will come to you.” And with that her body seemed to turn to liquid quicksilver, shifting form and where she was the cloudy grey cat stood and leapt into the shadows vanishing into the night.

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Along the Feather's Quiet Edge
(Downtime Fiction)

(The following takes place during the journey from Champoor to Ydanna)

“You walk a dangerous path young Feather, to leave Champoor, I cannot follow you, I cannot guide you in the steps that you must take to reclaim what was stolen from me…from us.”

He could hear the soft but angry words of his mentor echoing in his head even now. He stared up at the ceiling of the tent unable to sleep. It had been nearly a month since the fight with Kagada Shar, nearly a month since they saved Champoor, the whole of the Dreaming Sea, maybe even all of Creation, it was hard to tell.

So much had happened in such a short time, meeting his circle mates, discovering that there was a world worth saving beyond the edges of Silver Shade’s tomb. Now they were heading for parts unknown, at least parts of the world he had never known. He tried to remember a life before the tomb, before Silver Shade’s lessons. There wasn’t much, a hazy blur of memories, training as a courtesan, traveling from city to city across the South, strange places and even stranger masters.

He did not hate the Guild for his enslavement, nor did he hold any ill will toward his long forgotten parents, whoever they were, whatever they were. The color of his skin was clear reminder enough that at least one of his parents was not all human. Without the choices they made, without the circumstances that led the Guild to Champoor he would not have met his circle, his friends, T’Dara, Ebai, Jin-La, Fading Ember, or any of the others. Perhaps he would not have even lifted The Feather’s of Heaven and felt the touch of the Unconquered Sun.

If the stories of his mentor were true, if fate was woven upon the great loom and The Maidens watched and the Incarna maneuvered within their games what role did he play? In the Gateway game that was his life was he merely a simple soldier, destined to move along the field at the whim of others? Was he a Hero, carving a path toward victory for his side? Or was he an Exalt, something more, something that would change the rules of the game entirely?

“How do you know the words of that Rat are true?” His mentor has asked, his cold voice making the words cut. “Do you truly trust that gutter trash, it is beneath you, You are a chosen of the Unconquered Sun, a King amongst the Gods, that Rat should grovel at your feet not feed you bits of information like a fish on a line.”

“He holds much power Uncle, and he is not toying with me, the whole of Champoor knows what my circle and I are capable of, what I am capable of. He fears me, they all fear me. I do not think that I can return to my quiet search after that fight.” He had used the familial term of affection for the ancient ghost in the hopes that he could calm his mentor from the cold fury that was burning within him, but that was not to be the case, he knew ghosts were not perfect reflections of who they once were, they were changed. The siren call of Lethe was an unending pull upon the dead, they had to have something to anchor them to creation, and one of Silver Shade’s strongest anchor’s was his ancient hatred of the God’s who betrayed him so long ago.

“I am not your Uncle child, I am one of the last remaining of the great Silver host, one of the last of the true Lunar exalts, I was once a ruler in my own right, instead I am trapped here in this prison of spirit a pale reflection of what I once was, and do you know why little Feather, do you know what caused my downfall, our downfall.”

“Yes sifu,” He replied, letting this drama play out as it always did.

“Because of sycophantic wastes of Starmetal and essence like that Rat scum who calls itself a King. If you go on this foolish quest, know I will not be able to follow you. You will be on your own, without my guidance.”

“I know sifu, you have taught me well, I am prepared.”

“Creation is dangerous, Gods, men, exalts, demons, beasts that you can only imagine and creatures that will enchant you with but a single breath. All of them will want something from you, all of them will use you for their own goals. You must stay upon the path I have laid out for you. You must heed the words I have taught you.”

“Yes sifu.” He replied by rote but in his heart a question burned, if the Creation only desired to use him for their own ends, then to what end did the Silver Shade use him?

Sleep would not be coming, not for a while, closing his eyes still brought visions of the monster to the fore. That great beast looming over he and his circle. Ancient eyes in a withered face watching from the shadows sipping tea. If not for his circle… best not to continue that line of thought.

He exited his tent the light wrap around his waist the only covering he needed in the heat of the southern jungle night. Fading Ember sat beside a circle of her namesake. He motioned her to her own tent indicating without speaking that he would take this portion of the watch.

As the last light of the coals cast shadows around their small camp He let the sounds of the jungle wash over him. The Fahr Fara had indicated that some of the artifacts stolen from Silver Shade’s temple had surfaced, they were sold to a merchant heading for the city of Ydanna and beyond that ports unknown. Dropping into a ready stance he began moving through katas, letting his mind relax and his consciousness observe the night around him while his body flowed through the motions of death.

The words that came unbidden to his mind at the moment of his exaltation filled him once again.

There are no principles within the art of ending.
To encompass but one is to be a Master.
To encompass all; one subsumes death itself.

The way of the world is not death, but life, there is no end, only the circle and the cycle.
Every breath taken is an end, every beat of the heart an end, killing is nothing, only a beginning.
One’s steps must always be sure, on air, on water, on earth and on fire, ones feet must never falter but be the root upon which the tree of your Will grows.

To draw your weapon is to fail.
One must learn to cut without a blade and to kill without death.
There is no weapon greater than the one currently in your hand.

One must refine Will into the purest of weapons.
The blade of Will made manifest can cut destiny itself.
To slay destiny is to be free.

His body moved through the motions with grace and ease, there was no hesitation, no thought to the actions, they simply were. He had not drawn forth his weapon since the day Kagada Shar fell, the Mantra, whatever it was, would be his guiding principle. To long had he relied upon a tool, he would focus his Will into a weapon, it would become his blade.

As he continued the Kattas he could feel his Will begin to slice through the leaves of trees, could hear it as it separated the air around him. It was in that moment, on the cusp of something more that he sensed eyes watching from the Jungle.

The moment was lost, but the eyes remained, he could see them glinting in the last remaining glow of the embers. Large and luminous they watched him from the shadows of a branch. Pale green jewels glowing in the darkened night. In a breath they were gone, no sound preceded their passing, not even a sense of movement, only the idea that there in the shadows something had been, and now it was not.

Unbidden he followed, something guiding him along a path he could not see through the brush, his steps making no sound upon the leaves until finally he reached the shores of the Dreaming Sea. There was no moon in the sky, Luna’s light hidden away. The stars of Heaven shimmered in the vault of heaven but they cast little light upon the shore.

Feather merely closed his eyes standing there upon the banks and listened again allowing his mind to still. He could feel something, an ache in the pit of his stomach, a twinge at the base of his spine, an energy in the air that played along his exposed skin.

Moments passed by as Dawn slowly encroached upon the South, he could feel that building too; an almost imperceptible weight gathering at the back of his mind. Finally the silence of the jungle was broken. “You are patient, the last of your kind I met was not so.” A soft female voice whispered from the shadows around him.

Still Feather remained quiet and unmoving, allowing his unseen watcher to speak. “Quiet too, a unique trait, or perhaps you cannot speak. You bear the markings of a slave hidden among the feathers, and the scars of a warrior, perhaps your tongue was taken, a pity.”
A slight smile cracks the facade of Feather’s demeanor but he continues to remain silent. “At least you understand my words. I would know who you are, who your companions are, you travel through my lands but I do not know you. You bear the stink of the city and the Shadows, but I do not think you her minions. Speak now lest I grow weary of this game.”

“I am a traveler, as are my companions, we seek nothing more than to continue on our way O mysterious emerald eyed voice within the darkness. We mean no ill will or intent and will move on again once morning comes. I am known as 7th Feather of Heaven’s Blade, I would know your name as well.”

“You give your name to freely traveler, names are things of power, you may call me Emerald for now it is a fitting word. You and yours are no merer travelers either, I watched your dance, you practice The Way, though a bit in-elegantly. Tell me truly and I will eat you last.”

“I would look upon your face then Emerald of the shadows, so that I might see my death in your eyes.”

“A poet as well, a shame,I suppose I shall grace you with the privilege of gazing upon me.” He could feel the gathering of essence to his left and prepared for the attack but it did not come, instead a young woman stepped from the shadows into the pale light of the stars. Her skin was the deep brown of tree bark, her hair tightly braided atop her head was indiscernible in the weak light. She was nearly as tall as he was, wearing simple animal hide clothing she seemed to melt from the darkness of the jungle into the small clearing of the beach.

As he looked upon her Feather felt a connection, something deep and inexplicable hidden behind those luminous green eyes. At that moment as she stepped in front of him the first rays of dawn creeped up above the edge of creation and his caste mark flared into life upon his brow.

In response, as if called by his own, an empty silver halo flickered into being upon the brow of the woman before him. Her eyes grew wide, a mixture of confusion, pain, and anger dancing across her face. With a hiss she bounded back into the jungle, her form twisting into that of a silvery grey feline before she was lost to the shadows of the trees.

“Well, that’s probably not good.” Feather stated to no one in particular before shrugging and returning to camp.

He would swear as they continued their journey on to Ydanna that every now and again he would catch a pair of luminous green eyes watching him.

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Visiting Y'dana - Part II
(Story Arc)

[continued from last entry]

The next day Jin-La set forth to find Silver Sparrow. Meanwhile T’dara stayed behind to help throw a celebration for the Y’danese in thanks for their hospitality and to respect their gods and traditions. Ebai and Seventh Feather followed along with Jin-La but as he entered into the home of the old sorcerer they found their own means to entertain themselves, stumbling into an underground Gateway tournament where they met the Efreet lord known as Boiling Rhino. While they evaded getting in too deep in his affairs, Jin-La found that Silver Sparrow had one other interested student: Jade Mockingbird. Mockingbird had long been Jin-La’s rival and as the too bickered the old sorcerer made it clear he would only take one student. The first who could complete a task for him would awarded with instruction in the sorcerer’s ways. Their task was three fold: investigate an old demense a few days from Y’dana using no magic to find it, uncover its nature and purpose, and gather up its power and bring it back to Silver Sparrow.

Mockingbird wasted no time in leaving calling upon a flying cloud skiff from some relic in his possession. Jin-La rounded up his circle mates and headed off, not wanting to lose any time especially knowing how resourceful his rival could be. Two days passed as they traveled into the wild jungles off the inland coast finding the land poisoned by the Wyld more and more as they grew closer to the demesne. As they came upon the clearing it was in they found a great, twisted tree-like shape made of mud and clay like a ant hill formed in open air. As they approached a pack of guardian blood apes came upon them and Jin-La used his gifts as a Twilight caste to bind one and make it his familiar and convince the rest to stand down.

As they drew closer to the earthen structure stretching far into the sky they found many Naneke, 1st circle scholarly demons, studying the branches and watching their movements. As they entered inside they found the whole structure was mostly hollow and filled with even more demons. Dozens of Myrmele, demon-blooded ant lions the size of horses, moved about inside building the structure and birthing more of their kind. A veritable army of the beasts hanging like maggots from the inner walls waiting to take their final form. One such creature retched up some sickening bile upon Ebai to mark him as food, giving them all the feeling these creatures were little more than demonic animals but no less dangerous as result.

Questioning the Naneke they learned that the great demon mother Suondeka dwelt in the deepest recesses of the demense where the presence of the Wyld is at its strongest. As Jade Mockingbird had entered just as they had, the group all traveled into the depths together with Jin-La and Mockingbird exchanging barbs as the rest of the circle learned more about their rivalry and their past. When they finally reached deep, inner rungs of the structure they found the strong emanations of the Wyld had warped most of the demons in peculiar ways. As they watched from above they could see Suondeka herself, a massive millipede like creature with the torso of a chitin covered woman protruding from it where the head would be, coiled at the depths around what was the ruins of the manse that had once stood here. Now collapsed in upon itself as its essence flows had lingered uncapped so long they had given way to the nature of the Wyld itself.

Wasting no opportunity to incite trouble, Mockingbird attempt to trip Jin-La and send him spiraling down to Suondeka’s feet to start a commotion, knowing such an act might break the old oaths T’dara was invoking to allow them to enter and speak with the demon mother. Jin-La grabbed Mockingbird as he attempted this and both landed in the presence of the monstrous Suondeka who was not pleased to be disturbed by any humans. T’dara and the rest of the circle quickly intervened to keep the situation from turning into a fight and warned Mockingbird that if he tried anything like again it would be the last thing he ever did.

Suondeka.jpg

As they held her attention Jin-La studied the surroundings and found a way into the old chambers of the manse where he might find what he was looking for. Ebai followed along after him and as they descended into the ruins to come across an chamber deep below where the faded pages of a magical tome were scattered about that Jin-La realized had once been used to bind Suondeka and control her. Also in his room was a great ruby-like gem the size of a young man that caught Ebai’s eye. As he was drawn to he saw inside it the face of a djala woman begging to be freed and as Jin-La tried to make sense of the pages and begin making an effort to use them rebind the demon above his unseen companion pounced on the gem trying to pry it loose. As he did it tumbled from the inlay socket it was set into to the ground and curiously.

Things quickly got out of hand. As Suondeka sensed the book being touched she lashed out at the circle as their aggressive act shattered their Eclipse’s safe passage. She and her demon children began to attack the circle en mass. Meanwhile down below Jin-La was struggling to bind her essence back into the book when an entity released from the shattered gemstone passed into the book instead contesting with him for control of its magic.

Dozens of the maggot-like Myrmele burrowed into the chambers trying to reach the book while Seventh Feather and T’dara faced off against the demon mother and her grown up offspring. Seventh once again went toe-to-toe with a menacing threat while T’dara drove Suondeka’s offspring back, filling them with fear of her Steel Devil prowess. Mockingbird also assisted in this revealing he already possessed some knowledge of sorcery as he unleashed a Death of Obsidian Butterflies into the Myrmele then escaped down into the ruins himself.

Just as the young Myrmele broke into the chamber exposing a great hole into which Suondeka could see, T’dara threw herself in front of the mother demon to stop her from descending after her circlemate just in time Jin-La to shatter the will of the entity invading the tome and drive it out and into another relic and finish recollecting the pages and invoking their magic to bind Suondeka back into it, nearly exhausting himself in the process. The entire structure of the earthen hive began to violently quake and the circle quickly rushed to escape not knowing the fate of Mockingbird of what he was truly up to.

As they exited the hive it started to collapse in on itself and the Myrmele that had marked Ebai followed after them seeking a new ‘mother’ now that Suondeka was bound. One they had made their way out of the clearing they tamed the demon ant lion by way of the now bound Bloodape familiar of Jin-La who he had named Grimskull. T’dara was placed upon its back as the final blow from the demon mother had rendered her badly wounded. The circle then made the return trip back to Y’dana, catching a glimpse of Jade Mockingbird on his cloud skiff high above – knowing he had made it out. Jin-La realized he must have been after the relic he drove the gemstone entity into and cursed himself for not grabbing it in the commotion.

Back in Y’dana a few days later they arrived at the great gate leading into the isle of Ananda to find the Myrmele they brought with them could not pass its boundaries due to its demonic nature. Ebai has grown slightly attached to it and was trying to figure out what to do as it started causing trouble by toppling over a small hut nearby and gnawing at its walls. Not wanting to debate the matter Seventh Feather killed the beast and the barely conscious T’dara insisted they bring it into the city so she could cook it as a delicacy.

Jin-La returned to see Silver Sparrow and give him the tome, having completed the three aspects of his test but arrived to find that Sparrow had been attacked by an unknown assailant and claimed it was an assassin sent to put him down. Jin-La told the old man of what happened and what Mockingbird did and Sparrow advised him to be careful of that elusive bastard as he could be related to the attack on his life. Sparrow then began to initiate Jin-La in the ways of sorcery.

Meanwhile back at the temple-manse the rest of the circle came across Scurries and Fading Ember who had stayed behind. It seemed the generosity of the Y’danese was too much for him as even trying to bully them and steal for them backfired on him. So distraught was he had been avoiding anyone at all up until they left. However now when they came back he was acting like some kind of spiritual guru, and had amassed a small group of people who he was teaching the ways of the Fahr Fara. Ember found the whole situation to be rather amusing.

Jin-La sent word through Trailing Vapor, a spiritual ally of his, who informed the circle he was training with Sparrow and what had happened to the old man. Seventh Feather suspected Mockingbird was responsible and upon asking Trailing Vapor told the Dawn caste he could tell him more but first he would have to bring the one known as Ometia to justice.

Meanwhile Ebai went off seeking Boiling Rhino and found his encampment outside the temple gates. Rhino gave him a means to contact him if needed clearly having an interest in the young Night caste’s skills. As he was leaving a younger djala boy named Ithe found Ebai. Ithe had an interest in going to Champoor and heard Ebai was from there. He asked if he could tag along with the back to the Nighted City which Ebai didn’t see as an issue.

When Jin-La returned from his studies later that evening Seventh Feather told him of what Trailing Vapor had told them and overhearing their conversation Chanda mentioned she had heard mention of that name once out on the isle of Indamatu. Finishing up their bug-demon feast at the hands of their masteful Eclipse caste chef, the circle headed out that way.

There they came upon a graveyard amongst the rolling hills that lead up to timeless but well worn stone mausoleums from the distant First Age. Upon a recent grave marker they found the name Ometia and noticed one of the grave tenders watching them then turn and very stiffly walk away towards the masoleums. Ebai followed and witnessed that the grave tender was in fact a skeletal servant and that it along with several like it were carrying an iron coffin out to a small boat on the shores of the isle. Meanwhile back near the masoleum even more of these servants were gathered around The Beldame who was speaking in an unknown tongue to a young woman by the name of Ometia. The Beldame’s hand then turned into a twisted black claw and she tore the woman’s throat out, dropping her body before the entrance to the masoleum that opened into the long winding paths of the Labyrinth.

It was about this time the circle came up to engage with and speak to The Beldame, who had no reason to fight them and answered some of their questions regarding her presence in Champoor and now Y’dana. All of which she claimed was at the request of those who wanted to make arrangements with her master, one she referred to as The Howling Tempest of the Drowned Shores. As she walked away towards the boat, in the distance the could see a massive soulsteel ship on the waters a few miles out, a terrifying vessel The Beldame had called The Stygian Tyrant.

Turning back to the masoleum Jin-La noticed the young woman’s ghost was now begin drawn back into the Labyrinth by a spectre who had emerged to claim it. The circle inquired as to what value this woman’s soul had to the spectre as her ghostly form silently begged and pleased to be freed from its grasp but were only told she was given to the spectre as payment by The Beldame. Seventh Feather asked what it would cost to take her instead and the spectre told him it would cost thirteen more lives. Upon hearing that the circle realized it was not worth it to know what else the spectre may ask of the rest of them so realizing this ‘Ometia’ had gotten herself into this, they left the spectre to claim its soul and watched as the gate to the Labyrinth closed behind it before heading back to the temple-city on Ananda. Whatever the Deathlord and its servant were up to it was not something they were ready to face.

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Visiting Y'dana - Part I
(Story Arc)

The following takes place over the month of Ascending Wood and into the first two weeks of Resplendent Wood in RY 769

With Kagadar-Shar defeated the circle set their interests on other matters in the Nighted City. T’dara worked with the Nahjoma and the Fahr Fara to arrange a more stable relationship between the two and their two respective districts within Champoor. Jin-La begin looking into the ancient art of sorcery and a means to initiate himself into its practice. Ebai spent a couple of weeks recovering from his wounds with the help of Scurries Freely and his familiar Panya. While Seventh Feather distracted himself with whomever expressed an interest.

As the first few weeks of Ascending Wood came and went, Jin-La came across the name of an old sorcerer living in Y’dana named Silver Sparrow was could teach him more about the sorcerous arts. The circle agreed a trip out of the city could be a refreshing change of pace. So, along with Scurries and Fading Ember, they set off for the isles of Y’dana by way of the old coastal trade route since T’dara’s dislike of ships was something none of them wanted to argue. One evening along the way Seven Feather had an interesting encounter with a mysterious woman named Emerald that would linger in his thoughts for the rest of the trip.

bountiful_joy_manse.jpg

Several days of travel finally brought the circle to the shores of Y’dana and as they crossed its impressive stone bridges to the main isle they started to realize the stories they had heard were very true. Y’dana was a place of peace and learning, where kindness and serenity could be found in the faces of all those they passed. To the native Champoori among the this was equally confusing and alarming. Except for Ebai who embraced the joyous nature of the city with reckless abandon.

While learning the lay of the land the circle was met by the Joyous monk Gati who showed them around and eventually introduced them to Chanda. Chanda accepted them with welcome arms and offered to put them up within one of the guest chambers in the great temple known as the Hearth of Bountiful Joy that they would soon learn was a potent manse.

Mingling with the people of Y’dana left Scurries, Feather and Jin-La convinced something was very wrong with the Y’danese. T’dara and Ebai however saw nothing wrong and went about their business enjoying their time away from the grim streets of Champoor. As evening fell on the first night in Y’dana, Chanda found them and led them to meet her father the beloved ruler of there people and the bearer of Bountiful Joy , the one known as Mahabala. It was no secret to Mahabala that these were chosen of the Unconquered Sun and after some questioning as to the nature of his lands and his people the old and wise No Moon shared with them his tale. He also asked as to whether or not they had come to lead these people, as was their right as Lawgivers, but the circle declined knowing their home was still in Champoor.

After meeting with Mahabala they came across Karanu who informed them that Y’dana was not as safe as his father might assure. He told them of the great soulsteel ship belonging to one of the Deathlords that had been seen sailing the unmoving waters of the underworld reflection of the Dreaming Sea, as well as the presence of the hideous old woman who they had encountered in Champoor and knew to be called The Beldame. Karanu also spoke of the encroaching might of the Ysyran armies who wished to spread their might across the shores of the southeastern sea. The circle heard Karanu out and let him know they would consider what they could do as none wanted to see the peace of Y’dana broken without good reason.

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The Waking of Kagada-Shar
(Story Arc)

The following took place during Calibration in RY 768

While celebrating at the Silver Maiden tea house on the first night of Calibration the circle was alerted to the presence of a thief in the teahouse stealing a special blend of Five Fortunes tea used to usher in a new year. Rushing out back after the thief the chosen became involved in a chase across the rooftops of Azure Alley into the streets of Blackwater Bay.

There on a crumbling rooftop of an old warehouse they confronted the thief who’s flaming anima made it very clear she was a exalted as well; one of the Dragon-Blooded. Before they could react, however, her flames and their weight caused the roof of this building to give way causing them to crash to the ground inside where they found a group of reanimated skeletons ritually slaughtering innocent people. In the commotion the Fire Aspect had escaped but left the tea behind. Knowing they couldn’t abide the murder of these victims, and wanting to get to the bottom of it, the Solars engaged with and destroyed the necromantic assassins and claimed the obsidian-glass daggers they left behind as clues to what was going on.

Their investigations lead them to speak with some of the locals of Blackwater and eventually Fahr Fara who both gave them reason to investigate the Scavenger Lord known as Wise Umasi. It was this interaction with the Fahr Fara that also lead the circle to be introduced to the ratman Scurries Freely who was sent by the Rat King of Blackwater to find aid them as he would not abide the murder of his people.

By the third day of Calibration the circle had learned that these strange, ritualistic sacrifices were happening across Champoor preparing a great necromantic working. They went to go interrogate Wise Umasi who’s cowardice showed through as he used a wonder to escape their pursuit in the Underworld and awaken monstrous ghosts to defend him. As the rest of the circle engaged with these restless spirits it was Jin-La who chased after Umasi into the Underworld to find out what he knew, managing to pounce on him and knock him out before he could escape.

However in the Underworld the unpredictable nature of Calibration caused the circle to get separated from one another when Seven Feather went looking for Jin-La. Meanwhile, T’dara, Ebai and Scurries encountered the tea thief from before who they learned was named Fading Ember. After some convincing by T’dara, she explained why she had done so and asked to put aside their differences to stop whatever was threatening the city. Meanwhile Ebai followed a group of the skeletal assassins he spotted into a pathway into the Underworld and nearly into the Labyrinth itself, escaping just before things took a turn for the worst.

Regrouping at the Silver Maiden, having lost a full day due to the odd movement of the stars within the Underworld, the circle regroup and through what Jin-La had pieced together, what Ember informed them, and what they got out of Umasi, they learned the Nirodha family, one of Champoor’s old aristocratic houses, were at the center of all this. They had made a deal with some necromancer to arrange this working to awaken some powerful entity within the Underworld as a way to destroy the Prasadi and weaken their hold on the city.

However it was too late to stop the ritual itself, the circle worked to quickly learn what they could and Ebai and Scurried made their way into the bizarre and dangerous manor of the Nirodha in Old Eclipse. There they managed to manage a daring theft of something given to the Nirodha by a strange old woman they would later learn to be the Abyssal necromancer who set all this in motion. This as well as other clues Jin-La was able to study and make sense of after being given some information by the goddess Thali Kama led them to realize what this was all about: The Nirodha were trying to raise a terrible creature known as Kagada-Shar, He Who is Armored in Contempt, who was imprisoned beneath an ancient manse in one of the city’s oldest Shadowlands.

This lead them to make their way into the Underworld and arrive at the climax of the ritual, engaging the towering, soulsteel-armored, monstrosity that was Kagada-Shar.

kagada-shar.jpg

As T’dara, Ebai and Seventh Feather fought the necrotic behemoth and the hordes of death that served to defend it, Jin-La and Fading Ember rushed to enter the ancient manse was slowly rising off of Kagada-Shar’s burial ground and into the sky of the Underworld. There the Twilight and the Fire Aspect worked to disrupt the manse and send it crashing back down to bury the hekatonkhire and re imprison it.

During the battle Ebai was knocked unconscious causing T’dara to rush to his defense while Seventh Feather was left to stand against Kagada-Shar as they squared off one on one, pushing the Dawn caste to his limits as he struck down the unholy terror and drove it back into the pit just as Jin-La finished his efforts within the manse shutting down the flow of essence that was empowering it causing it to land back on top of Kagada-Shar ensuring he would remain imprisoned beneath it once more.

They then spent the final day of Calibration recuperating from their battle and ushering in the new year. Fading Ember decided to join them for the time being since their interests aligned and she had seen what they were capable of. Scurries Freely also decided to stick around them hoping to profit off of their power as chosen of the gods.

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