View Full Version : A Game of Manses
11-11-2012, 09:04 AM
You wake up slowly, after dreams of pain and heat and danger. Your skin feels dry and burnt, and every muscle and bone in your body aches. And you can't even begin to describe how your head feels.
Opening your eyes is a heroic effort worthy of a great legend, and you are rewarded with the view of a painted ceiling.
"You know, Mizuki, i should really kill you right now. It would do everyone a favor if i just cut your throat, threw your body into the ocean and made up some story about a foreign mission go wrong. Maybe it would even be a favor to you. But i need to hear your story first."
You have to recognize the speaker by voice, as you find yourself unable to turn your head - at least without falling unconcious.
Female. Stern. A hint of anger, but not directed at anyone specific. Familiar.
You recognize the voice of Amilar Yelami - secret pride of Gens Amilar, sypmistress of the General Staff, decadent lady of Lookshys high society - and your personal tutor.
"You, a mere heretical god-bastard, abuse resources entrusted to you by all our citizens to break into territory restricted even to most Exalts. You put yourself over noble Dragonbloods and violate your oaths to our organization. So tell me, Gochei Mizuki Hinata - what were you doing? Since when do you cooperate with vile demons against our city?"
11-11-2012, 11:29 AM
Mizuki blinks slowly, carefully, thoughts sluggish as she thinks back, trying to isolate the cause of her current state - and the restrained anger of Amilar. "If one...finds that...which confuses them...they seek out the answers." She struggles to turn her head, pain lancing through her body as she does so, but pushes through until her eyes meet those of her mentor. "You taught me that."
She pauses, drawing in a shallow breath as she tries to array her thoughts. There....there had been the...the report about the sunpeople. Curiousity...confusion...there had been a justification in there. Then the infiltration, slipping in through the shadows, dodging traps and roiling columns of essence before reaching its heart. And then...what...what had happened next? Light and power, streaming out of her, pouring endlessly from her soul into the ancient structure around her. There....there had been something else as well...just on the edge of memory. But...what had happened to her?
All flashes through her mind in the space of that breath.
"Demons?" She asks blearily. "Mistress, what happened to me? I remember light....power pouring from my soul into the Factory-Cathedral...but..." She blinks, again, then her eyes flare wide. "Sunblessed..." She whispers, mind too weary to hold back her realisation. "They...you keep them to power it, don't you!" The words aren't accusing, far from it in fact, they're awestruck. "It needs....it need sun aspected Essence, and that doesn't exist anymo-" She cuts off again.
11-11-2012, 01:21 PM
"Yes. Oh fits perfectly. Do you know what your Fang saw when they found you? You, bleeding on the ground - surrounded by the anima banner of an Anathema."
Yelami stands up, looming over you. "Which is why i should kill you right now. There are two reasons i don't - you changed something in the manse, and it appears to be more stable now. And an acquaintance of mine made me reconsider my position on some Anathema - we will see whether that includes you."
11-11-2012, 01:34 PM
Mizuki mutters a curse in her mind, but doesn't cower at her mentor's intimidation.
"I think...I claimed it, Taizei. That's what I felt...and..." She reaches down, with visible effort, and carefully draws a small jewel from an anklet. "This....this would be a Hearthstone, I think. And, Mistress?" She says. "You made me. My loyalty, my life, my being, is yours to command as it has always been."
11-11-2012, 01:57 PM
Yelami snorts "Stop the act. I have a task for you. I have a list of tasks that i want your Fang to accomplish, and a target that needs to be taken care of in a certain way. Do so to my satisfaction and i will consider you trustworthy enough for your usual work."
She hands you simple scroll - you recognize the smell of alchemical treatment on it.
"Memorize this, then start working. And i want you to accomplish the last task yourself."
The scroll spells out a long list of alchemical ingredients, some of them with an instruction on how to acquire them - in a nearby Shadowland. And a target for subtle assassination via poison - Tihiro Tatila, the matriarch of a helot trade house.
She leaves, and the scroll crumbles to dust.
11-11-2012, 02:20 PM
"As you wish." Mizuki replies softly. She shifts slightly as Yelami leaves. She has a chance, at least. Then she calls for her pen, paper, and her Fang. She sends out the majority of her Fang to gather the ingredients, then hands a letter to the last one and tells her to take it to their contact.
The letter is quite simple.
I am in desperate need of guidance and you are the only one I believe I can turn to. If you can, meet me at the usual place in (insert date far enough away to be able to walk reasonably, as a lunar date). Please come if you can.
11-12-2012, 10:41 AM
Your Fang gathers most of the ingredients over the next day, though they are reluctant to go into a Shadowland on their own. Since Chandra usually manages to show up within the next few days, you decide to wait for her aid.
To your surprise, your wounds seem to be better any time you look. Your burned bones stop hurting before you finish your letter, your skin is renewed after the first night and you feel more energetic as you should.
You wait for Chandra at one of the unveleoped areas of the Green Hunt, Lookshys inner-city park district. You did expect to be almost immobilized, comprimising security, now you are on your own as the full moon rises and you wait in the warm night of Resplendent Fire. (http://wiki.white-wolf.com/exalted/index.php?title=Calendar)
11-13-2012, 06:45 AM
Mizuki sighs, looking up at the skies, feeling the rush of Essence - so much more than she had ever felt - within her. Under the stars felt...strange. As if she belonged, and yet as if she didn't - the moon too bright and full. She shook her head at herself. It didn't make sense. But...from all she had ever read...
The biggest question was why though. Why her. She had led a good life, perhaps not one as morally right as others, but one sworn to the city that had birthed her - quite literally when one thought about it. So why had - oh what did it matter. There was no real way back - other than death, and that wasn't an option she was willing to consider. Or a way back, as it happened.
"...I don't have to look too far or too long awhile,
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy,
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile,
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy."
She sings softly, voice still slightly rough from her experience.
Code-melody - password is
"I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?"
I can roll Performance if you want :smalltongue:
11-13-2012, 11:48 AM
You hear a surprised voice from a nearby tree.
"My my, you certainly look - no, feel - different somehow....Oh, i know! You probably got a haircut, or maybe a new tan?"
She jumps down the tree, landing a few meters away. Still in the shade, she begins to stride towards you.
"Or maaaybee..." her voice is unrecognizable as the serious, focused tone you are accustomed to from her. "maybe it is something like this."
A prism of flickering silver-purple light erupts in front of you, shifting around her body. You blink at the sudden, intense light - are those her ears? You squint and spot pivoting ears poking over her head.
She pounces the last few steps, her feet landing directly in front of yours.Her eyes blink, face very close to yours, and then sweep all over your body.
"Yes, it's something like this. Ain't i right?"
11-13-2012, 12:25 PM
What the..? Ears...and tatoos in - Mizuki's thoughts grind to a halt as her own eyes fix on the mark on Chandra's forehead. Trickster! I...I...what...but...no! But...
"You...you're...you're like what I've become!" She has to actively clamp down on the volume, the words coming out barely above a whisper. "When? How? No, it doesn't matter." She shakes her head, trying to clear it of the cries of 'Anathema!' She reaches up tentatively, fingers trembling, towards the mark on Chandra's forehead. And quite without meaning to, her own flares slightly, the golden ring on her forehead glimmering slightly as a single mote of essence escape her - like a sudden outburst of held breath.
"Are...are we the same?" She asks softly, tone undercut by a need for understanding that is equal parts curiosity and near-terror.
11-13-2012, 12:34 PM
She smirks "Yes, we are both evil, demon-possessed Anathema. At least according to the Dragonbloods." She giggles.
"But we aren't quite alike. As you should be able to see by our animas, and your distinctive lack of fluffly ears. Basically, we are both Exalts - but instead of being chosen by the Elemental Dragons, i was chosen by the Godess of the Moon - Luna."
She pokes your forehead. "And you, you were chosen by the God of the Sun - the Unconquered Sun."
11-13-2012, 12:43 PM
Mizuki laughs, the faint joy almost shattering her heart, and wipes a slight moisture from her eyes. "Fluffy ears..." She shakes her head, mind reeling. Then.
"Why? Why me? Was it the cathedral beneath the feet of those who learn at the academy of sorcery? Or...or was it something else? And..." She sighs gently, trying to array her thoughts. Questions, so many...where and why and...no. Focus, girl.
"From what you say...the Dragonbloods have lied for...for as long as the Shogunate has stood." Mizuki shakes her head, not in denial or disbelief, but in something else - that no words can really explain. "Why?"
11-13-2012, 12:54 PM
"Well, i am hardly an expert on Solars, but as far as i know you're chosen for heroic feats. Since i can't read your mind i have no idea what you did in any cathedral i don't know off, deary."
She smirks again, begins to play with her left ear and...is that a tail?
"Well, as for the Dragonbloods lying - you should really know this, considering your line of work. Well don't worry, Chandra will teach you a lot of stuff!" Her smirk widens even more, and you hear her rolling, soft laugh again.
"Because we are more powerful than them, so the only way they can keep power with us around is by lying and controlling the mortals."
11-13-2012, 01:06 PM
"Heroic...oh. I guess that would explain it..." Mizuki shakes her head, the confused voices finally beginning to clear. "So...people like you - and me - have been hiding ever since?" She laughs. "Well, I guess you're right about my line of work, and considering everything I've seen it does make this a little easier to reconcile...
"Regardless, I guess we have a lot to talk about. But in this case, I think it may be wiser for us to walk and talk. I...almost died when I...Exalted. And my mentor knows." She raises a hand quickly. "She's given me a chance to go against the... propaganda, I guess. And most of the things I need are in a Shadowland near [insert where Shadowland is]." She extends her hand, palm open. "Could you come along, and explain things on the way?"
11-13-2012, 01:16 PM
"Whatever do you want in a Shadowland? Well at least it's the Mourning Fields, that close to Lookshy there shouldn't be too much trouble..." she sighs "and i shouldn't have said that. No provoking Pattern Spiders, my Sifu always said. Well, come on then. Anything else you want to know, while we walk a few miles at night?"
11-13-2012, 01:30 PM
The twok of you walk through the streets of Lookshy, though you have to wait for a while for your anima flares to go out. You try to keep it quiet as long as you are in the city, but your chat is not less intense for it.
You manage to reach the border of the Shadowland before the sun rises. You see guard towers outside its borders, while the border is marked with white stones.
"Okay, here we are. Beware, ye who wander this path, for it leads to the fate of all things." Despite, or maybe because of these words, she giggles again. "Or somesuch. Don't worry, i'll watch your...well, behind. Don't kiss any ghosts, and no hugging zombies either."
You an see beyond the border of the Shadowland - damp growth, low willow trees, no animal life in sight. It appears to be hidden under dark shadows of a cloudy, moonless sky, despite the full moon above you. Icy winds blow into you from the south.
11-16-2012, 01:12 PM
"All the same," Mizuki replies, grinning, "with what you said I'd rather be careful going in. If that isn't too much for you to bear." She shakes her head incredulously. "And kiss ghosts? Is that even possible?"
11-16-2012, 02:09 PM
"Since they are material inside a Shadowland, yes it would. Mind you, most Ghosts are just like most Mortals - not evil, and at most serving someone who opposes you. Of course they ARE ghosts, so they do have some essence powers and likely serve a Deathlord."
You both step over the border of the Shadowland - and you see why it is darker here. There is a moon, but it is blood-red and appears to give off little light. The temperature drops as well, and the air appears to be stale and mouldy despite a cold wind.
Chandra whispers "Okay, you know what we need - i think we best get is as soon as possible."
11-16-2012, 02:39 PM
"Ah." Mizuki colours slightly, another thing she hadn't know. Or had she not remembered...it was difficult. She shivers at the sudden cold, and lowers her voice to a low growling whisper. "We need to find some violet leaves according to my instructions. Let's go."
She sweeps her cloak around her shoulders, to better blend with the drab surroundings of the Shadowlands, and then goes forward carefully, her step asymmetrical and random in its pace and positioning.
11-17-2012, 12:37 PM
You track across the landscape, looking at the spare plants to find one that matches the description. Chandra manages to keep up with ease, but after a while you can not shake the feeling of being tracked, though you can spot no pursuers.
After maybe two hours - it is hard to tell in the unfamiliar redish light and with the strange sky above - you find a patch of fern that looks about the right color.
But as you stop, you hear a howl from behind you her a terrifiying howl from behind, and as you turn around you see several tattered men in torn clothes, swinging rusty blades and clad in black armor. You can see furious pale faces, and their bloody intention is immedeately clear to you.
Join Battle for enemy Ghosts: [roll0] [roll1] [roll2] [roll3]
Mizukis Join Battle:[roll4] [roll5] [roll6] [roll7] [roll8]
Chandras Join Battle:[roll9] [roll10] [roll11] [roll12] [roll13] [roll14]
11-17-2012, 12:51 PM
Before the Ghosts reach you or you can react, Chandra does - she steps before you, crouching down into a low, tense stance, ready to pounce at any attacker. Her hands sweep out and into claw-like gestures, and you hear a low growl coming from her.
Chandra activates Tiger form as her first action.
Current Tick: 3
Your next action: Tick 3
11-17-2012, 02:53 PM
Mizuki spins, two fans springing into her hands from the sash at her waist, and she snaps them open before her eyes. The jewels catch and reflect the red moon, but that faint light is washed away in a shimmer of gold as essence flares across their surfaces.
The same light faint light flickers across Mizuki, blurring her silhouette as she spins behind her ally. Distinct edges of essence gleam along the fan's tips, and she flares them out in the direction of the ghosts.
Let's see...now how do I...ah!
The two fans spin across the space between her and two of the ghosts, essence surrounding them such that they seem more a circle of gold light rather than actual weapons. The two weapons move apart as they reach the group of ghosts, bouncing out to tear into the necks of their closest foes.
11-18-2012, 05:22 AM
Mizukis fans slash into two of the leading, unarmored ghosts, ripping through their corpus like they would through a shōji paper wall. You see their bodies dissolve before the other ghosts crash into Chandra and you.
A wild flurry of attacks by everyone involved ensues.
Chandra slashes her fingers over the first ghost that gets near her, spraying ghostly blood all over the place. But the armor ghost retains both its momentum and its unlife, and its axe cleaves into her unarmored flesh before she can react.
Another ghost tackles her and tries to claw her open, but she manages to hold if off without sustaining damage. The next one has more luck, and a claw burrows itself into her stomach - but fails to cause even a scratch.
You barely can pay any more attention, as you are attacked by four enemies yourself. Supreme grace lets you flow out of the way of the first three blow that crash down upon you, and as you dance aside a swung naginata burrows into the wrong target!
The last strike however waited for your move, and your own momentum prevents you from anticipating the blow. Despite that, your own reflexes carry you out of the way of the rusty dagger before you even register it, and your gracefully reposition yourself into a firm yet elegant stance.
You are distracted long enough that both Chandra and the ghosts can act again. The Lunar jumps to your defense, and launches at a ghost that is busy attacking you. She swipes him of his feet and lands of his chest. A fountain of silver light washes over the whole landscape, and you see a furious cat lashing out with sharp claws. Terrible howls can be heard from both combatants, and the ghost perishes moments later.
Both Chandra and you are able to evade the follow-up attacks of the remaining six ghosts, though you can see that she is hard-pressed to do so compared to your play-like elegance with which you dive and dance between hostile blows.
Chandra is being attacked by three ghosts. One has lost two health levels, the other two are unharmed.
She has lost her -0 and first -1 health levels herself.
You are being attacked by three more ghosts. One lost a health level due to being struck by another ghosts botch, then got finished off by Chandra, the other three are unharmed.
You have taken no damage.
Current tick: 8
Your next action: Tick 9
Motes spent: 5(combo)+5(attack)+5(attack). 4 motes regained from stunt. Please describe your anima banner during your next turn.
11-18-2012, 06:20 AM
Mizuki's face twists in slight concern as Chandra takes her hits, but does not allow it to distract her - instead channeling it into her next strikes. She spins, hands catching her fans deftly out of the air, and then slams them out to either side. They cut lethally out, essence flaring along their edges once more, and the blades whistle a soft tune - as if cutting the air itself - before slicing through where her instincts tell her the two ghosts are.
She continues her spin, legs acting of their own accord to send her bouncing up the body and off the face of the one before her - a casual, slightly harder, kick sending its head bouncing away. In mid-air, she flips end-for-end, spin never ceasing, and brings her fans in around her to defend herself from further attacks.
Attack 1: [roll0]
Attack 2: [roll1]
Attack 3: [roll2] vs extra (so probably not required)
Attacks made at speed 4.
Anima banner has had 5 motes burnt into it. Additional 4 this round via use of Lethal Paper Fan & Shadow over Water (if latter is allowed). Additional required motes spent from Personal pool.
11-18-2012, 01:20 PM
Only three ghosts remain, and they keep focussing on Chandra - who slices at another ghost, but without felling it. She still manages to catch the counter-attacks of all her attackers.
Three ghosts dead, one of them an extra.
Another ghosts attacking Chandra loses a health level, and is now four down.
Current tick: 13
Your next action: 13
You're up again.
11-18-2012, 02:33 PM
Cursing the ghosts in her mind, Mizuki whirls across the short distance between her and the ghosts surrounding Chandra. No essence tips her fans this time, instead they gleam with the blood crimson of the reflected moon - thirsty for the blood of their mistress's final enemies. Her steps bring her spinning past the first ghost, fan outstretched to slice a second smile on to its throat, and then in to cover Chandra's back.
"So, this is what you meant by not kissing ghosts." She asks, hand lashing out as the wounded ghost strays into her reach. The fan slices forward, cutting the air again with that same eerie whistle, to tear through already rent not-flesh.
Attack 1: [roll0]
Attack 2: [roll1]
Will trigger Shadow over Water if targeted.
11-18-2012, 02:40 PM
"No, i didn't - and don't you ever dare kiss me like that!" Chandra shouts as the last ghost goes down. "Though nibbling is okay, but i really want to keep my throat intact".
The ghosts beng dealt with, you look at the patch of ferns you were investigating. A lot of it has been trampled, but there are plenty of purple ferns left that could be gathered, and even the trampled ones might be of use. You don't know, but you have little idea what this plant is for, other than as a poison, in the first place. Either way you could gather much more than required, if you are so inclined.
11-18-2012, 02:55 PM
Mizuki arches an eyebrow at her Lunar friend. "So...you wouldn't be averse to my nibbling on you then?" She teases, crouching down in front of the ferns.
"So...no name given this time, Yelami." She whispers to herself. "Is this a test as well? And if so, of what..." She trails off, carefully plucking one of the ferns from its earthen home, and holding it up before her eyes, as if searching for some sign of its identity in the veined leaves.
Her mind races back, through childhood and teaching, long sessions spent in libraries and archives, the occasional visits to the Academy of Sorcery, even the - rare - times when Yelami had had her...instructed. She doubted that any of her mentor's lessons would bear fruit - but she had studied alchemy far more than most realised. Enchantment might have been her favourite of the Arts, but...alchemy and herbalism had been a close second. And then
Purple ferns...soft or hard to the touch? Crisp or brittle? The size of the leaves, any serration or particular pattern to the veins that ran across it. All little pieces of the puzzle of identification.
But did she know...
Strange flashes of memory flickered in her mind, sunlight unknown to her dancing on her skin in the feel of them. There was knowledge there...but what was 'there'. And what did it mean?
11-18-2012, 03:05 PM
You remember attending a lesson about poison-making, a necessary part of your profession, even though you never made any yourself.
Most of it was about ordinary poisons - everything from slow-acting to fast-acting ones, from silent killers to producers of excruciating pain, from ingested tasteless ones to those used as perfumes.
A few plants like this - gathered from Shadowlands - were mentioned. Some had strange properties - more than just poisoning the body. From inducing severe loss of sanity without any other effects, over inducing near-death states. You finally recall that this type should be useful for inducing a delirious state with...terrible results of some sort, though you can not recall the specifics about that, try as you might.
11-18-2012, 03:16 PM
Ah, so this is more than a simple kill mission... Mizuki ponders. Well, if I'm right at least. She turns to Chandra. "Ok, I've got a certain amount I'm meant to gather, but it might be good to have a bit more of this stuff on hand, just in case."
Gathering three times the required amount. For...research purposes. Yeah...research...
11-19-2012, 07:20 AM
You gather most of the available ferns, and Chandra picks some other weeds as well.
Since you have accomplished what you came for, you return to the border of the Shadowland. However, you can not shake the feeling that you are being followed, and Chandra agrees with you. It might be possible to shake off the pursuers - if there are any. Of course you have no idea how they might react to that, or who they might be.
11-22-2012, 03:18 PM
So...try to call them out, or evade them...or just ignore it and keeping going... Mizuki thought carefully. It could be a test from Yelami - but if it is then calling them out might be the wrong response. Or it could be something from the Shadowlands that we stirred up...or it could be something else entirely... She smothers a curse. Too many variables, nowhere near enough certainties... So what do I do?
She thinks deeply as she continue stepping, mind flashing back along pathways of teaching that have served her well. Whatever it is...we don't want to fight it here. If something from this place is following us, it will - hopefully - be a little weaker, or at least more obvious, in the sun.
"We get out the Shadowland before doing anything." She murmurs to Chandra. "If whatever's out there keeps on following, we can see about trying to bring it into the light."
11-22-2012, 03:26 PM
Chandra and you run until you cross the border of the Shadowland. Luckily it is day, so you find yourself in Creation rather than the Underworld.
You see a guard tower ahead, but also notice that your pursuer is drawing near. You might make it to the tower in time, and could probably fast-talk the soldiers even without presenting official authorization and blowing your cover.
Your pursuer seems to have noticed as well, since whoever it might be now approaching quickly. Without stoping, you turn back - and see a flare of light that has become very familiar to you by now. The golden billow of a solar anima banner.
11-23-2012, 06:57 AM
"Chandra?" Mizuki says calmly, slowing and drawing her fans from her belt. "Go. I'm not dragging you into this." She turns, continuing to step back - holding her fans loosely in her hands, but not flicking them open. "If you can, get to the tower and tell them that a Gochei of Lookshy requires their aid."
Other-light flickers on her skin, muffled memory of a time not of her own swimming behind her eyes as she looks back at Chandra. "If this turns ugly, I'm probably going to need it."
11-23-2012, 07:07 AM
You wait until your pursuer comes into clear sight. Evidently he noticed that you stopped, since you cna easily track his movements by his anima banner, and he has clearly slowed down.
You still do not have to wait long. A tall, handsome man with long, blonde hair soon appears in sight. A giant sword is strapped to his back, and he is clearly clad in heavy armor. He appears to smile at you as he moves towards you, his face illuminated by a solid golden circle on his forehead.
His clear, flowing movement stops a respectful distance away from you. He bows, and you hear his clear voice for the first time.
"Greetings, Milady. You may call me Prophet. I hope i didn't scare you, but all i noticed was that someone had breached the borders of the Shadowland i was hiding in, and i had to find out who it was. I didn't hope it to be such a noble person, else i would have introduced myself in a better way."
He approaches more closely, though still not anywhere close enough to strike you even with his huge weapon.
"And it would appear to me that you picked some plants as well. Since it is clear that we have something in common, and that you have no evil intentions, i would like to offer my aid in handling them, since i know a fair deal about the place i had to hide in."
Social attack with 8 successes that attempts to compel you to accept his help. MDV is reduced by 1 due to fitting intimacy and by another 1 due to appearance difference.
11-23-2012, 04:00 PM
The words rolled off the man's tongue, their tenor calm, soothing, and the world seemed to ripple as he introduced himself politely - offering his aid. The syllables seemed to flow right through her, catching and clinging in her mind like unruly echoes even as he continued to speak. Bit and pieces of her fought them, damping the cries with hard suspicion and the bounds of honour. She could not trust him, he was unknown and he had been hiding in a Shadowland. But the words stuck, flowing around the barriers as fast as her mind seemed to erect them, softening and melting them away in a gently warm insistence that her fears were groundless.
She could trust him, she must trust him. His help could allow her to complete her mission. And the voices dimmed, quieting, the words filling her mind with dull sound that droned out the thoughts of suspicion and distrust. He had been in the Shadowland. He said he could help, surely that was enough?
Except...it wasn't. The rapidly shrinking, still defiant part of her mind retreated, pulling away from conflict with that golden haze, and sent a command racing down her arm. The haze seemed to scream, trying to stop it, but that same defiance hurled itself suddenly against it, holding for just long enough for that command to reach her left hand. This wasn't right...but...
Her hand moved.
The fan dropped open in a gentle whisper, a wisp of her own essence surrounding it, and strength surged up from the hand, sweeping inexorably into her mind. That strength battered into the haze, blazing gold fire burning away the mist in a flurry of light. Her eyes, downcast in the moment of almost-submitting, snapped back up - the smoldering sparks of green defiance now reignited to full vigor as they met his golden-specked brown ones.
Essence sparks around her for a moment, shimmering across her elegant clothing and catching her fans in an invisible grip, bringing them up unfolded to either side of her as her clothing twists and coils of its own accord.
"If you saw us gathering these plants in the Shadowland, then surely you would have witnessed also our attack." She says softly, each word laden with subtle meaning - not accusing, more as if questing for a reasonable answer. "You say you wish to help me, and yet you did not then. And whilst I can say that any malefic intentions on my part are not directed towards you, I cannot say that the reverse applies." The fans spin once, glinting in the reflected light of the sun. "If you wish to help me, I would not deny the aid. Except that you have not told me what you desire in return. Everyone does, Prophet.
"What is it in your case?"
Social attack: [roll0]
11-23-2012, 04:08 PM
He is clearly unimpressed by your words, and simply replies "No, if you do not wish to ally with me i will not reveal my intentions. Trust is earned, not given."
He takes several steps back, and clearly readies to depart.
"Oh, and by the way - just go and continue your mission. Whatever it may be, i wish you good luck and i hope we will see each other again in the future."
These simple words feel irresistable. Compelling. They resonate deep within you, and you just know that you have to obey. After all, what harm can there possibly be in it?
You are too caught up in his parting words to notice how he leaves.
Heavily charm-enhanced social unnatural mental attack. 11 successes. Resisting costs 5 Willpower. -3 to your MDVs. Compulsion: Continue your mission immedeately.
11-23-2012, 08:58 PM
The compulsion blasted through her, hammering into that core of defiance and refusal to submit. She held for a few brief moments, a shield of steel and honour holding, holding, before cracking and blowing away in a hail of shattered pieces. The influence filled her mind, spreading across the entirety of her being, shattering resolve and quashing suspicion beneath an overriding necessity to complete here mission. Why had anything else even mattered, what had it -
The world shattered like glass.
"Lay down, your sweet and weary head.
Night is falling,
You have come to journey's end,
Sleep now, and dream of the ones who came before,
They are calling,
From across the distant shore."
The music filtered through curtains of silk, blowing in a gentle breeze. The last rays of the sun arced across the darkening sky, purples and oranges and reds staining the canvas of blue in intricate majesty.
"Why do you weep?
What are those tears upon your face?
Soon you will see,
All of your fears will pass away."
Silver and gold light danced and shimmered in the room behind those curtains, the animas of a Solar and Lunar twisting and dancing around each other - the patterns curled together in an almost tender embrace - like the couple on the bed within. A gentle smile on both their faces - but one turning drowsy as the Solar continued to sing.
"Safe in my arms.
You're only sleeping.
What can you see?
On the horizon.
Why do you the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
A pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
To carry you home."
And all will turn,
To silver glass,
A light on the water,
All souls pass."
The eyelids of the Lunar drooped, the sweet nightingale's song a path into the restfulness of sleep. Her ears flicked contentedly, tail curling around the ankles of her lover. They were both quite naked, stretched out on the bed with only a warm summer breeze and each other the source of their communal warmth.
"Hope fades, into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time."
The Solar bent down in a beat between verses, laying a gentle kiss on the lips of the Lunar beside her, shifting slightly to cradle her in her slender arms.
We have come now to the end,
White shores are calling,
You and I will meet again.
And you'll be here in my arms,
A whisper of sound passed from the Lunar to Solar, and she smiled down at her, lips moving quietly in words of her own. The world seemed to focus in on those words, slipping around the song that continued even as the Lunar's eyes slid shut with a blissful sigh.
"What can you see?
On the horizon.
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
A pale moon rises,
The ships have come,
To carry you home.
And all will turn,
To silver glass,
A light on the water,
Grey ships pass,
Into the West."
The Solar finished, eyes moist with emotion, then pulled a thin coverlet over the two, wrapping her partner in a sanctuary formed of her own body and laying a soft kiss on her shoulder. And three - no, four - words echoed on the edge of a whisper.
"I love you, Chandra."
I love...I...love? Chandra? How do I - Confusion and realisation in equal measure danced on the edge of the seemingly irresistible compulsion, but at their core something quite different - and infinitely more dangerous - flickered.
Even if I don't, it doesn't matter! I made her a promise, even if I didn't say it! And she trusted me to - No.
Fire erupted from the edges of her mind, exploding across pathways of thought. Cold, blazing, white-gold-and-silver ice/flame, rampaging across her mind in a whirlwind of light and memory and music. The compulsion fought back, trying to hold itself, stronger even then. But the fire wasn't done. Light blazed out across her eyes, roiling and spinning deep within her, shattering locks and bars as fast as they could be made. Lurching across her mind, in a torrent that rose, unending, from the depths of her heart. And her mouth moved.
"Hope fades, into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time.
We have come now to the end,
White shores are calling,
You and I will meet again.
And you'll be here in my arms,
The fire erupted beyond the bounds of anything she had ever thought possible as she sang, tearing across the surface of the magic that 'Prophet' had used on her. I'm taking myself back, you son of a bitch! And her lips and tongue kept on moving, the song rising on the wind to echo - frayed, but powerful.
"What can you see?
On the horizon.
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
A pale moon rises,
The ships have come,
To carry you home."
She heard a gasp, a sudden, shocked, gasp wrenched from a throat that she somehow recognised better than she ever had. She turned in place, the silver-purple-and-gold-white fire battering through the final vestiges of the compulsion as her eyes - green, not blue this time, - met the shocked and shattered amethyst pupils of Chandra. She was alone, perhaps turned back before she reached the tower or maybe she had recognised the song and made up...something...to turn the soldiers back.
"And all will turn,
To silver glass,
A light on the water,
Grey ships pass,
Into the West."
But that didn't matter. Somehow, despite everything, it just....didn't matter. Not anymore. They stepped forward almost as a being of one mind and two bodies, pausing in confusion, before stepping again. Pause, step, pause, step, until they were right in front of each other. And Mizuki reached up to where she knew Chandra's Caste mark lay hidden, laying a gentle finger on the place where the silver crescent was hidden, and shook her head sadly.
"I am...so very, very sorry..." She whispered. "But...I remember, somehow. I remember that song. I remember the times we sang it. And it freed me." She bowed her head, unwilling - or perhaps unable - to meet Chandra's eyes, unchanged after all these centuries. "Thank you...Chandra. For...everything."
11-24-2012, 05:55 AM
"You...you remember, don't you? Please, oh please - tell me that you do remember!" Chandras voice is filled with a frail hope, a wanting prayer for an impossible need to be met. Maybe like a mother meeting her supposedly long-dead child, or...no, it goes deeper than that. Like longing to be yourself again after a long period of madness. Something that draws onto her very essence of self.
And yet she is unable to believe for now. You can notice it happening, but it occurs too swiftly for you to asure her of your feelings - her hope meets doubt, and it shatters. Fear remains.
Head hanging, she steps back and begins to sing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBIG28On0o) herself.
You, you who has smiled when you're in pain
You who has soldiered through the profane
They were distracted and shut down
So why, why would you talk to me at all
Such words were dishonorable and in vain
Their promise as solid as a fog
And where was your watchman then
Before your eyes, images unfold. You can not tell whether they are vision like before or illusions Chandra has called, but her movements are perfectly in line and tell a story along with her song.
A lone soul, searching through the world. Abandonment and unfulfilled Dependence. Loss of Meaning. It hasn't happened for the first time, but it is getting worse and worse each time
You see a lone, sad woman searching for something that eludes her again and again, but every piece of suffering inflicted on her does not stop her.
I'll be your keeper for life as your guardian
I'll be your warrior of care your first warden
I'll be your angel on call, I'll be on demand
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian
You, you in the chaos feigning sane
You who has pushed beyond what's humane
Them as the ghostly tumbleweed
And where was your watchman then
But despite all failings, despite all loneliness, despite all thats between the seeker and her charge - she continues on. She believes. She may get lost again, but that won't stop her.
The woman chases another woman. Both are shifting into different people - from small and bookish to tall and athletic, with all sorts of features, and you see at least a dozen people each.
I'll be your keeper for life as your guardian
I'll be your warrior of care your first warden
I'll be your angel on call, I'll be on demand
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian
Now no more smiling mid crestfall
No more managing unmanageables
No more holding still in the hailstorm
Now enter your watchwoman
She stands by her side. No, by YOUR side you realize as both shades take a certain form - of you and Chandra. They swirl around, Chandra leading the illusionary you in a wide, arcing dance that makes her shield you from everything.
"I'll be your keeper for life as your guardian
I'll be your warrior of care your first warden
I'll be your angel on call, I'll be on demand
The greatest honor of all, as your guardian
This i promise you eternally
Now and always again"
With those words Chandras show ends. Her dance has ended right in front of you, and she is kneeling before you.
"Mizuki, i promise you - i will watch over you. I will take care of you. I will love you in whatever way you want me to. Just please - tell me that you remember."
11-24-2012, 10:39 AM
The illusions flickered in the space between them, light swimming as tears blurred her vision. Untempered emotion broke from her heart, the hard core parting in a blaze of loving light that poured out and up and out. Golden light shimmered on her skin, the hidden circle on her forehead bursting into radiant glory. A ring of miniature suns exploded around her, tendrils of gold kissing her skin as ribbons of soft, golden light spun out like petals of a golden lotus flower. They wrapped around Chandra as she danced, holding back as she continued her story but sending rippling patterns of gold through the images she called.
The emotion rose higher, higher, washing away the bonds of old loyalties beneath this one, gold light pulsing and flaring around her as it did so. Doubt was a long forgotten memory, confusion blinded by the recognised knowledge that yes, she did know. This was right. More right than anything could ever have been. And as she accepted that, in the heart of a heartbeat of gold, the words of what felt like a last refrain whispered in her mind. The voice was hers, and yet it wasn't. And yet she knew it was her memory. Even if not of this life.
And as the images faded, and Chandra pleaded for recognition, she knelt herself. Equals. The voice whispered. Partners in service, blessed-bond of Unconquered Sun and Luna.
She reached out gently, her hand awash with gold as the lotus petal formed of it compressed to hold the two within, recognition echoing across in joyous harmony as it found again its match after all this time. Chandra started as she touched her face, gently coaxing her eyes up to meet her.
"Come what may,
I will love you,
Until the end of time."
Her voice broke as she whisper-sang those words, composure breaking in the face of a recognition lost for centuries. The essence around her contracted, the tiny stars of light shifting so that they enclosed both in a circle of white light.
"I remember, alsh'sh'aen." She wept, the word they had made to recognise each other falling from her lips, tears reflecting the gold around them into glorious prisms. "How could I not?" Her arms went around her, her face tilted slightly to one side, and more than a thousand years of loss and pain just washed away as their lips met.
Alsh'sh'aen translates to soul-sister. I think I got the approximate number of years somewhat correct...
And yeah, that's at least 8-10 motes of peripheral essence spent. Possibly more.
11-25-2012, 01:18 PM
Chandra and you stare at each otehr until one of you - who? maybe both of you? - notice that the sun is setting. Since you just came out of a Shadowland and had a encounter you do not want repeated, you decide to get moving.
Despite plenty of need to hurry, the journey back takes a while, and neither of you seems to mind. You just keep talking and talking and talking, and actually have to snap out of looking at each other every so often to make sure that you are not followed.
That way you get back to Lookshy, and after your credentials have been certified three times as you pass the cities various walls, you stand in front of Amilar Yelamis office door.
11-25-2012, 03:28 PM
With difficulty, Mizuki tears her mind away from the current conversation, running down through the things that she needs to say to her commander.
"It's...probably better if I go in alone Chandra." She says after a moment. "I'd...well, I want you safe." She colours slightly at that admission, but pushes through. "So...stay out here, ok? I'll be fine."
She raised her hand, and knocked her pattern on the door. On being granted permission to enter, she does so. Bowing to her commander, she then meets her eyes and speaks.
"Shozei Yelami, I have something which I believe must be brought to your attention regarding my mission into the Mourning Fields. I have successfully gathered the required components, however myself and my ally were followed out of the Shadowland by an Anathema similar to myself - of a different caste however - who referred to himself as Prophet. He offered aid in my mission, which I refused on the grounds that I had no reason to trust him. He then attempted to compel me through the use of a charm - which I managed to resist. As such, I believed that I should bring this event to your attention - specifically in regards to the fact that the target of this mission may have more attention fixed on it than at first believed - specifically that of those outwith Lookshy itself.
"I am not refusing to continue this mission, I would simply wish to confirm that you still wish it carried out - what with the possible involvement or interest of Anathema in its - apparently successful - completion."
11-29-2012, 04:53 PM
"Gochei Mizuki, you have done well informing me of those new circumstances. However, i see no reason to alter your mission, though i assure you we will keep an eye on the situation. For now, deliver the ingredients to this adress and prepare to carry out your mission five weeks from now. Dismissed."
You continue on to the adress in the Warehouse District. Unsurprisingly, it appears to be a warehouse - though once you have identified yourself at the door and are inside, it is evident that it has some other purpose.
You see a forge, a huge variety of tools - and an alchemical laboratory. A servant leads you to the latter, and you are introduced to Teresu Mewora, a young Water Aspect.
"So i see you brought what we need. Excellent, that means we can finally start - not a moment too soon, we really have to get this done before Calibration. I think i owe you a favor for that."
12-01-2012, 04:29 PM
Mizuki nods in acknowledgement to the Water Caste. "Well, one can never have too many favours." She says with a smile. "Glad we could help."
On leaving, she returns home with Chandra and begins preparing for the infiltration. Over the weeks required for the poison to be made, she uses her connections to acquire as much information on her target as she can. Position in the family, heirs, bodyguards and servants. She looks into the possibility of buying out the personal bodyguards of her target, operating through multiple proxies to hide her own identity.
She does make a few rounds of the city under particular cover identities, establishing them as back in the city so that their presence at a social gathering of the target would not be suspicious. But she focuses mostly on the bribery aspect of the plan. In her experience it's almost always easier to pay your way through defences akin to those around her target. Simpler too.
These plans do not, however, detract overmuch from her ability to spend time with Chandra. Nor, surprisingly, does either hinder the swift progress of the training she pushes herself through in preparation for the assassination. Herself and Chandra spend rather a lot of time together, relearning past memories and making new ones all of their own. For all the tension, their world does not seem, for now, threatened. The poison is being made, plans continue apace, and they are together again for the first time in many, many centuries.
12-01-2012, 04:47 PM
The poison is delivered on the last day before Calibration, and you decide to put your plans into motion right away.
Some clever manipulation - and lots of bribery - made a few guards believe that you'd like to visit their Mistress for some rather intimate activities. To them, it seems perfectly logical to let a wealthy noble from a minor kingdom into their Mistresses headchamber, and your generosity makes sure you are not searched too much.
The fact that she has a drink she partakes in every night - an age-staving cordial - on her nightstand just makes the entire job easy.
You slip into the room late at night to ensure that she did indeed swallow the poison, and to your satisfaction she evidently did.
Your return to Yelami goes well, and she congratulates you on an exellent job and assures you that you have restored her full trust into you. She won't require your services until after Calibration. Apparently shealso heard of your activites with Chandra, since she is quite suggestive as she gives you those days off.
However, in the middle of the fourth day of Calibration, a messenger interrupts you and Chandra. It appears that Tihiro Tatila was healed somehow - you were assured that not even the mightiest dragonbloods were capable of such - and someone attacked the laboratory, with catastrophic results. Shozei Yelami requires that you immedeately investigate the situation, and be wary of any attempt of revenge on you.
12-07-2012, 10:21 AM
Mizuki's reaction is one of...close to resigned acceptance. Not perhaps that she expected something to occur, but that she isn't surprised by the development. She rather swiftly returns to her home within Lookshy, and begins pulling in all the information she can.
The first part is any survivors of the attack. If any are alive, are they capable of speaking? If so, can she see them to ask about the attack.
She refocuses on the family of her target, this time much more closely. Any suddenly far more powerful - or...maybe even new - members. She traces the records of how the family grew to its position, examining documents and records. And then, when she can, she makes time to see any survivors - when they are rested enough to talk.
12-07-2012, 10:57 AM
You hear that Teresu Mewora has survived the attack, but that she is still under the care of the healers. Questioning her will have to wait, so you focus instead on the history of the Tihiro-family.
Fortunately, there are already some reports about that you only skimmed last time. Thank the Dragons for meticulous underlings!
Most of the reports are rather unspectacular. Financial backing from Gens Yushoto allowed a young merchantwoman - the same you tried to murder - to send caravans into the far reaches of the Eastern and South-Eastern Threshold. Her first caravan was a huge success, opening a profitable trade route with a barbarian tribe. Over the last twenty-five years, she managed to repeat that feat several times. Setbacks occured as well, the father of her two daughters dying on one of those expeditions to a Fair Folk attack.
The family still runs the bussiness, and her two daughters have taken roles in it early one - the younger helps a lot inside the city, the other accompanies caravans into the Threshold. She usually does so frequently, but you can see that the last time she did so was over three months ago - and that she was rather close to Lookshy the entire time, though never inside the city. Unfortunately you only know the location, about a days ride away on lands owned by Gens Yushoto, not what she actually did there.
You manage to visit Mewora in the early afternoon. She is clearly grievously wounded, but the healers inform you that she is concious and should be able to respond to your questions for a while
12-08-2012, 05:28 PM
This was going to be an...interesting one. Mizuki suspected such from the description of the attack on the warehouse, but after searching through the records kept on the family, it became rather clearer. It wasn't her place to judge, and she certainly wasn't going to, but she rather thought that the assassination had been less than professional SOU business. Nothing she could do if it hadn't been - even if she had cared to - but the possible implications were...interesting. Not to mention dangerous.
But...there wasn't enough information. Nowhere close. However there was at least one possible lead apart from the obvious. A new secretary. Hired on the day of the attack even. So before leaving to visit Mewora, Mizuki sends out her Claw to work with those already observing the household - in this case specifically to locate this secretary and obtain either the location of their lodgings or the secretary himself. She doesn't want them getting in a fight, but if they can convince him to come to her, then things might be a lot easier.
She does not, however, want them coming to her home - so she designates a secluded area of one of the parks for any such meeting to take place.
That done, she makes her way to where Mewora is being held for her recovery.
12-09-2012, 07:22 AM
It is obvious that Mewora barely survived the attack from even the most cursory glance. Almost her whole body is wrapped in alchemical bandages, and even their blood-clotting properties did not stop them from becoming blood-soaked.
Despite her injuries, she seems to be lucid as you begin to question her about the attack.
"I only saw the beginning of the attack" she tells you with a hoarse, coughing voice. "I was talking to one of the guards when the wall glowed in golden light and exploded. I was thrown back by the shockwave, and i think the soldier i talked to died instantly. I jumped up and wrapped waves of Essence arounds me to defend myself. A woman and a Simhata in silver barding jumped in, the lion-horse ripping a Fire-aspect to the ground. I struck at the woman, and i think i would have hit her - but before i could even blink a scythe struck from nowhere and blocked my strike. I don't know where it came from, because the glowing woman struck me a second later and i flew back and crashed into my laboratory."
She closes her eyes for a while, face controting as she tries to concentrate.
"I...don't remember much from here on. There was so much pain, and my eyes were run over with blood. The last thing i saw was the Simhata being struck by a spell that should have felled it, but it just shrugged it off. Then i only heard the fight continue for a short time, but i am not sure if it was because i passed out or because it was over. I am sorry, i don't remember anything else."
12-09-2012, 10:10 AM
Mizuki nods, her expression resolutely neutral, but behind that facade her thoughts race with blinding speed. The list was narrowing. And narrowing rather quickly... Possibly too quickly. That could end up being difficult.
She asks a few more questions, specifically regarding if Mewora could identify her attacker if she saw her again, then takes her leave - leaving a promise to do everything in her power to find the one who did this to her with Mewora. On leaving the place, she meets Chandra again and - ensuring that no one can hear their conversation - asks about if a Lunar could take take the form of a Simhata. And if she knows of any other Lunars in the city.
12-10-2012, 07:06 AM
Mewora is uncertain whether she could identify any of the attackers.
Chandra, on the other hand, is quite willing and able to answer your questions.
"Yes, of course we can! As long as it's a natural animal, we just have to engage in the Blessed Hunt, slay it and eat its heart. Even if it wasn't, with the right blessings of Luna, well, we can look like just about everything or everyone" she tells you with a slight wink.
"Well, or the Simhata could be her spirit animal. But i certainly don't know of any Lunar who has one, nor do i know of any other Lunar here in Lookshy - we generally stay in smaller communities, not in big cities. But from everything you've told me, it sounds very much like another Lunar to me."
12-14-2012, 07:24 AM
"Well...that's both good to know and extremely worrying." Mizuki replies. "However, I need to go talk to Yelami again." She says, leading the way across the city. "Regardless of the possibility that we might not need it, having some form of official reason to be somewhere can be extremely useful. It also has the handy side effect of - enough of the time to be worth the expended effort - mixing your identity up with the officialdom you're representing. Which, as you might guess, is almost never the SOUs."
On reaching Yelami's office again, she knocks her pattern again and enters at her commander's call. She relates what she has learned, her suspicions regarding the manse construction and the older daughter of the house, and her desire to acquire an official 'cover' via the more open policing forces - in the usual manner. She inquires, as is a matter of course, about any new developments that Yelami has become of aware of that might influence the current investigation and then, towards the end, floats a question that has been burning a hole in her mind for a while now.
"There is one, last thing, Shozei." She says, then gestures at the Hearthstone socketed into one of her anklets. "In the knowledge that it is a dangerous topic, what of the Factory-Cathedral? It's broken, I know. But...it's not beyond repair. It can be fixed. I'm not quite sure how I know that, possibly through my attunement, but I am certain of it. And with a restored Factory Cathedral to ensure a continued supply of First Age technology...the possibilities for Lookshy are almost without limit."
12-14-2012, 07:56 AM
Yelami shakes her head. "Mizuki, i know that, but we never managed to get a sufficient supply of Solar ess....oh, wait. Yes, that is certainly something i will have to make plans for."
She furiously begins to scribble some notes, but does not send you away. After a while, she takes a break and looks up at you again.
"My apologies for that, but i just had to begin this at once. Now then, you wanted a reason to investigate the manse-construction? Well, i know you are not learned in geomancy, but i think we can get you an apprentices papers and get you in under the claim that there was a minor shift in the dragonlines and that you are there for a routine investigation. Yes, that should be quite possible."
A few minutes later, you head out with a new identity as Water-Rippling Breeze, a novice Geomancer from the Academy of Sorcery, working for the Department of Ordered Essence.
12-17-2012, 12:21 PM
Mizuki takes the identity gratefully, files the Manse away under the "discuss later" heading, and heads out. She leaves her Henchwomen observing the Tihiro home, but takes Chandra with her under the guise of an assistant. If anything occurred regarding her suspect whilst she was away, she was going to want to know about it.
12-17-2012, 01:20 PM
Using fast horses and leaving in the earliest morning, you and Chandra reach your destination. You turn around a hill and spot a tall tower, surrounded by wide aisles and wide domes. Sunlight breaks through the clouds, and illuminates polished white stone with gold inlays visible even from afar.
A large number of guards - by your reckoning a substantial percentage of the entire workforce seems to surround the site. After your papers check out, you are guided towards a large tent and med by an elderly man.
He is quite welcoming and willing to answer your questions. He proudly reports that they are just in the last stages of bulding the Manse, and he gladly tells you the story how it came to this.
"You see, this is, an Air-aspected Demense. So a year ago, in Ascending Air, we started to build here - place looked quite different, lots of trees and snow all year. Should have known something was up, a proper uncapped Demense so close to Lookshy no one was using and all. Well, turns out there was a darn good reason - the whole project just ground to a halt all the time!"
He pulls forth several construction plans, indicating various featues as he continues his speech.
"Gens Yushoto send some of their best Geomancers, but none could really figure out why it went wrong all the time. We built high, proper towers, tried all sorts of symbolism, but noting really channeled the Essence right. We kept going, but frankly everyone involved just knew that it wouldn't go anywhere."
He replaces the old plans with new ones.
"And then, three months ago, this young woman came by. Not even a Dragonblood, yet she figured it all out within less than a week, believe it or not! The whole project just went straight-forward from there - we made so much progress, you'd think the Dragons themselves are with us. Everything just fell into place. Dunno how she did it. The young lass was amazing, even fighting off that raid of the undead during Calibration, though she left right thereafter. Proper manners, charming, really smart. Reckon she should be made a citizen straight away, but thats not for me to decide. Though i'm sure Gens Yushoto will be quite glad that this project is over, and i even heard the family of the young lady helped to finance this whole mess."
You interview some of the workers, and fight that story confirmed. You try to figure out what you can about the manse itself, but from the little you know about the subject it appears to be perfectly in line, if somewhat unorthodox, with an Air-aspected Manse.
Your investigation ends the next day, but before you leave the eldery man approaches you again.
"Ah, Water-Rippling Breeze, there you are! We're really glad that we had someone officially check us out, always helps with the paperwork. We're throwing a big party next month, when everything is finished, and we'd be glad to have you as a guest."
He hands you a formal invitation, signed by one Tihirio Hikaru, with a date for the 11th of Resplendent Air.
12-18-2012, 03:38 AM
Waterday, eleventh of Resplendent Air. Five weeks after Calibration, the warmth of summer begins to fade, and the first chilly winds occasionally graze the landscape.
But it is still warm enough for the party to be held outside. The Manse is illuminated by sunlight breaching through the overcast sky, and the martial and arcane ornaments on the white marble floor glitter in a deep golden color.
You stand among dozens of gathered guests and hundreds of servants on the southern terrace. You have a splendid view from atop the hill, far over the newly-cleared fields and parade grounds and the forests behind them.
The soft music that has been playing in the background swells as wind instruments supplement the soft strings of the harps, drawing everyones attention to the small stage near the entrance to the manse.
A young woman with long brown hair, dressed in gold- and silver-braided robes with matching jewelry steps onto the stage. Another woman, clad in much simpler white robes that match her hip-length hair, follows and stands behind her.
While you do not yet know much about the second woman, you are well-informed about the first one: Tihiro Hikaru, daughter of Tihiro Tatila, current administrator and heir to the largest thaumaturgic trade house in Lookshy.
With a small bow and a slighly raised hand, Hikaru beckons silence.
"Honored Guests, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to welcome you on this auspicious day. From this day forth, we will contribute to the wealth, prosperity and defense of our glorious city. Before you lies a great project my family and i could realize thanks to the blessings and guidance of Gens Yushoto, and with the aid of the workshops within this Manse we will be able to refine some of our goods into the finest tools, parts and weapons of Lookshy. We must thank all of you who aided this effort, and i hope you will enjoy this event."
She bows again, deeper this time, then leaves the stage for a troupe of musicians, walking from person to person to welcome them personally.
12-18-2012, 04:24 AM
"Aaarrrryyyy, I'm boooorrreeed." Lily stifles a yawn as she leans briefly against her mate. She didn't like being up at this time of day, and on this sort of manse the effect was only exaggerated. Much as she knew it was necessary, this whole... talking... phase of the plan just didn't sit well with the exalt. Whatever. Might as well do what she'd come to do. Forcing a smile, Lily waves over the Lady of the manse cheerfully, grinning as if meeting an old friend.
"Ah, hey, hey! Hikaru! I've been wanting to meet you for a while now!" Lily slides over, sipping some deep red (but unfortunately rather tasteless) drink. She extends a delicately gloved hand, keeping her smile wide.
"Name's Lily. Or Cerulean Floating Lily if you want to be formal buuuut..." She leans in a little closer. "...nobody does. It is kind of a stupid name. And... you'd rather be talking to my partner, wouldn't you?" Lily giggles softly. "Yeah, I'll let her do the proper introductions. Dragons, half a glass and I'm babbling like a fool. You see, this is why she doesn't usually take me along to these things..."
Lily continues rambling on cheerfully, though she allows Areana to butt in at any time to take the conversation in a more coherent direction.
12-18-2012, 11:25 AM
Hikaru takes your offered hand, cheerfully curtsying and blowing a kiss on it.
"Oh, it's a pleasure to see you Lily. A beautiful name, and i certainly hope you'll feel like floating durin this humble party."
She then extends a bow to Areana, adressing her as well. "And i am so glad you could make it. Your families bussiness" - she is referring to the identity you both assumed to get to this party "may be small, but of such excellent quality! We must make sure not to intrude upon your margins - why, we certainly intend to do that with the Gens! No sense to sticking to stuffy old instutions, when its so much better to just competition decide! That's not our families motto, i must regret, but nevertheless true."
She fetches herself a glass of wine, ready to propose a toast
"To competition and cooperation! Lookshy always fared well with that!"
Building an Intiamcy of support to her own agenda.
She succeeds, and resisting cost 1 willpower or requires you to make a rating 3 defensive stunt (which prevents attack-stunting)
12-18-2012, 12:11 PM
Lily giggles again, raising her drink and taking a long swallow at the proposed toast.
"I can drink ta' that! Well, the first part, at least. Nothing quite beats some healthy competition for raising the bar in business, that's for sure. But..." The ash-pale girl gives a wistful sigh. "You know, I guess there's a flip side to everything, isn't there? I'm all for honest competition, but you hear about these politicos these days and its just... ugh. I mean, have you heard? Lookshy can barely keep itself together these days - why, I have it, from very reliably sources mind you, that their own spies are working to undermine the city!"
"I'm telling you, it's a juicy market but... I'm pulling out while I still can. It isn't just money either; I mean yes, I'm not keen on getting caught with my assets seized when someone tries to pull a coup, but... I'll be honest, I don't feel safe any more. The city is full of mad dogs, and nobody is holding the leash and more. Who knows when some faction or another is going to decide to start dictating their bargains at knifepoint?" Lily tosses back another heady mouthful of wine.
"Look, sorry, I'm rambling again. Just... be careful, 'kay? I'm telling everyone I know. Heard way too many stories of some poor merchant waking up with a throat full of dagger and a purse full of empty because they were playing with toys those misbegotten spies wanted for themselves. And with your family business... play it safe, you know? Blood runs thicker than jade."
12-18-2012, 01:58 PM
Areana just gives a mock groan. playfully elbowing her mate.
"Oh, really, Lily? Bringing that up here, of all places?" The disguised lunar sighs, shaking her head and giving an apologetic look to Hikaru. "Hey, look, sorry. We don't mean to be dropping rainclouds over your festivities here - you're looking gorgeous today, by the way, suburb decorations you've got up - but Lily's been a bit preoccupied. Like she said, we've been seeing a lot more cloak and dagger than we used to around here."
"Can't say for sure who's behind all of this, but something bad is definitely going to be going down in Lookshy soon. I'd put my jade with Lily's guess - you don't have to be a political genius to see how... hungry... some of those espionage folks are. I won't tell you how to run your business, because dragons know you're better at it than I am, but if you're going to lie down in a nest of vipers, keep your eyes wide open... and try not to sharpen their teeth, if you can help it." Areana chuckles, brushing a stray wisp of hair from her face.
"What have you been up to these days, anyway? I hears business is booming for your family. Scary as these times are, instability has a way of dropping money into the purses of those smart enough to catch it."
12-18-2012, 02:08 PM
Mizuki, noticing Hikaru's movement, leads her small group over to the three women now engaged in conversation. Overhearing the conversation as she approaches, she touches her own glass to Hikaru's own - the crystal singing harmoniously as the glasses meet. She fans herself delicately with her other hand, and smiles amiably.
"Water-Rippling Breeze," She says, hold out a hand in greeting. "Call me Breeze, everyone does." She gestures at the group behind her. "Would have come alone, but when the Department of Ordered Essence hears about a party they can't seem to send less than half a department."
And as we practiced. She thinks to the others in the group, the six women behind her splitting off to engage those with the two in front of her in conversation - as well as anyone particularly close. Left her only with Chandra, but that was ok. Made the others calling on immediate support a bit harder.
"I'd be fascinated by the source of that knowledge," she says to Lily. "Lily, wasn't it?" Her clothes flip slightly, and she lowers her hand. You notice, however, that her fan maintains its station and continues its movements. "Competition in Lookshy so often appears far more bloody than it truly is." She looks across at Hikaru, smiling. "But Lookshy endures. In no small part to those who persevere with their own ingenuity, and create where none could before." She nods meaningfully at the host, taking another sip of wine. "And if competition edges over what is reasonable, then it is stopped. Quite handily in fact, by those self-same spies that you seem to deride." She shrugs.
"Sometimes it comes with blood, but more often then not without. And," she shakes her head, "this is hardly the talk for a day such as this." She looks over to the area in the center of the room, where a reasonable number of guests are beginning to dance and turns back to Hikaru. "A day of celebration deserves better, wouldn't you say?" She holds out her hand again, this time in invitation. "Would you care to dance?"
Chandra, I'm giving you the Claw. Use it. She thinks to her mate. And try to find out everything you can about those two. She mentally 'nudges' in the direction of Lily and Areana.
Leaving me with the dry talk whilst you go dancing? You're no fun! Chandra replies playfully.
Oh hush. She amplifies those words with a rush of affection directed at her mate. Luck. She sends finally, turning her full attention to Hikaru as she leads her across to the dance floor and slips into the swirling weave of silk clad bodies, moving with the beat as her instincts for such things kick in.
She smiles, humming tunefully along with the music, and meets Hikaru's eyes.
"So." She says. "I hear you're responsible for the success of this entire venture." She tilts her head attentively to one side, eyes sparkling as her feet move easily to the steps of the dance. "Quite a head you must have on your shoulders. Half the department would like to know how you did it, but I'm sure that would be a secret. So...tell me about yourself?"
12-18-2012, 03:19 PM
Mizuki whirls Hikaru over the dancefloor, not missing a step and easily taking the lead. Her dress moves just the right way, even her hair moves entracing with every step.
Hikaru gasps for breath as she is guided closer, waistline touching waistline. It is obvious that she is taken in by the enegy, this vibrant floating between all the other couples. Even though it is obvious to anyone that it is not her doing, all eyes are on her - or at least near her.
With a little flush, she finally settles into the breathtaking dance and answers the question:
"Oh my - well it's nothing really. I just have some good training in Geomancy, and i just found the right approach by being an outsider. You flatter me, but i would really rather do this by enjoying this dance."
She smiles at Mizuki, sunlight glinting in her eyes, and they continue to stun the audience with their dance.
12-18-2012, 04:00 PM
Mizuki smiles back, lost for a moment, then Chandra's coughs quietly into her mind and her focus snaps back into existence.
Thank you She sends quickly to Chandra.
Anytime. The Lunar replies wryly. Just don't make me do that too often. I might get worried.
Spinning through the dance, focus, focus, you know this step. And around the space again, whirling across the floor as the two draw the attention of all around them. Their shoes tap on the stone flooring, and Mizuki continues humming the beat in perfect time.
"A dance isn't the same without some conversation." She says between steps, then right on the heels of a particularly daring spin. "Where did you study?"
For her part, Chandra extends her hand to Lily in greeting.
"Lily, yes?." She says by way of greeting. "I do apologise for Breeze, there's a reason she's called that you see." She watches the two spinning across the dance floor with an amused eye. "Theia, by the way. Theia Crystana. So you're a businesswoman? What do you specialise in?"
12-19-2012, 07:18 PM
One Hundredth River was rather excited as he moved through the room greeting various guests. Lady Hikaru's speech had gone off without a hitch, and things had been proceeding smoothly since. Still, he couldn't help feeling nervous. Seeing the results of his preparation, and being around all these important people was almost more than he could bear. He had a job though, and he wouldn't let that stop him. Which is why he now busied himself greeting the various guests, and for that matter avoiding the dance floor, where he had no confidence in his ability.
So it was that he made his way to Lily. He'd noticed soon after she arrived that she was not the individual he had researched when preparing the invitations, though it wouldn't do to bring it up right away and possibly cause a problem. Best to just inform people and see how things played out. Still, greeting her might allow him to learn something of why she was here. A cool suave approach would likely work best there, and he felt reasonably sure he could manage it. Ah, Lady Hikaru seems to be nearby, best inform her first.
Hurrying over to her, River gave a bow and stated. "Lady Hikaru, I trust everything is going well. I, um..." noticing that she wasn't alone, a blush began to rise to River's cheeks. "Ah, I um, apologize if I'm interrupting anything. I came to, to tell you, StoneLionoftheGreyMoongiveshisregardsonthepartyand wouldliketodiscusssomematterslater." Rushing through the last part and now thoroughly red with embarrassment, River passes a note to Lady Hikaru and rushes back the way he cam, stumbling as he leaves the dace floor.
Well, that could have gone better. Recovering from his stumble, River looks up to find himself facing Lily. The red that had been beginning to subside, takes advantage of this opportunity to make a comeback as River is caught off guard.
What a fine opportunity.
"Ah, greetings ma'am. I, um, hope you are enjoying yourself." Bowing a bit too low for their difference in social standing, River catches himself and jerks upright, a bit foolish looking for the effort. "I'm River, I mean, I'm One Hundredth River, though most people just call me River. I'm sorry, for almost running into you. I'm not really used to parties like this, or all these important people. Spend most of my time with books. Gah, I'm rambling, I do hope you're enjoying yourself here. Wait I said that already..." Trailing off as he catches himself, deciding silence will likely be the best way to avoid digging a deeper hole for himself, River awaits a response. Well, that certainly wasn't the first impression he wanted to make...
12-20-2012, 10:27 AM
Lily looks rather glum at the spectacle of Breeze and her dance partner. She hated dancing. Stupid dancers. Stupid music. Stupid dance teachers, and lessons, and... ugh.
For once, she agrees with the booming un-voices. This was stupid. But she forces a smile, curtseying as Theia approaches. Her gown was a long, flowing affair, if somewhat conservative - patterns of deep purple and silver danced like dragons across its hems, while the loose cut gave the entire ensemble a sense of fluidity.
"Sorry, so sorry. I must sound terribly rude, mustn't I?" She sighs. "Arry is right, I'm never good for anything but spoiling the fun. A friend of mine is all caught up in that whole mess, is all. It seems like not a week goes by without picking up some letter or another about how bad things are getting..." She is cut off mid-sentance as Areana gently places a hand over her mouth.
"Hush, dear. I know you're worried about Percival, but this is neither the time nor the place to burden others so. Go on," The daughter of ash receives a gentle push in the direction of the dance floor. "Why don't you find our hostess and show her your good side? Have some fun! It'd be a crying shame if we left her thinking you were a little thunderhead of gloom and doom." Areana and Lily trade smiles then, and the latter drifts off to the dance floor - soon encountering River - as the former turns her attention back to Theia.
"You must forgive Lily - her family was ripped away in some petty conflict, and she hasn't been the same since. It has left her with... quite the distaste for the more shadowy side of society. I'm sure you can understand. Who are you again? I don't think I've had the pleasure of meeting you before... or your friend, for that matter."
Areana proceeds to politely introduce herself as Autumn's Army Resting - Autumn to most, Arry to her friends. A local representative of some obscure investment trust, assessing the risks of maintaining solid assets in Lookshy. Yet, throughout the conversation - pleasant as it is - various small comments accumulate to a feeling of decidedly uncomfortable absence. Breeze's other occupations suddenly seem, for whatever reason, much less important to Theia than having her with her at that very moment...
A successful social attack is compelling Chandra/Theia to fetch Mizuki/Breeze from her other activities and attempt to keep them both in conversation with Areana.
12-20-2012, 04:13 PM
Hikaru asks for a short break from the dance, clearly because she is out of breath. They slowly walk across the party, and Hikaru checks up on a few people while continuing a conversation with Breeze.
"Oh, my mother hired me some tutors fom the Academy of Sorcery. Most were mortals, but there were even some Exalts among them! I must say that they did a really great job, i learned a lot. Of course it helped that we always had enough material to experiement with. I'm really grateful to her - we weren't close, she was very busy running the bussiness after my father died, but she always took good care of my sister and me."
Breeze and Hikaru end up at a secluded corner of the party, and Hikaru is joined by the silver-haired woman that accompanied her on stage earlier, giving her a long hug. Then she turns towards Breeze again.
"Now then, Breeze -or whatever your real identity is - iknow you are involved with the Lookshy Special Operations Unit. The would-be assassins of Tihiro Tatila, my mother? Tell me how i can hunt them down!"
12-21-2012, 01:26 PM
Lily giggles, amused by the antics of this jocular individual. She offers a sweeping curtsey, and extends her hand.
"River it is then! I'm Cerulean Floating Lily, but most people call me Lily. They could also call me Cerulean, if they wanted to. Or Floating. But..." She tilts her head for a moment, clearly thinking. "...nobody does. Do you ever wonder why we have so many names, if we're only going to use one? That's just silly." Lily suddenly beams as she begins sliding through the crowds in a sort of solitary waltz - forcing River to keep up, if he wishes to continue their conversation.
Lily remains cordial, despite her somewhat eccentric dialog, leading River in a meandering 'dance'. She clearly isn't paying much attention to the music, however, seeming too busy drinking in the sights and sounds of the crowd itself.
At least, until their waltz leads Lily and River past the party's hostess herself... and Lily's eyes go wide. She manages to not suspiciously break form, but it is hard to keep the worry from her face as she locks eyes with River. She hisses three words, barely heard above her breath.
"...did you hear that?"
Lily successfully eavesdrops on Hikaru, and unless River resists, she will lead him through the party and allow him to do that same. The two of them are currently discreetly listening to Breeze and Hikaru's dialog.
12-22-2012, 08:52 AM
Target confirmed. A faint satisfaction pulses through Mizuki's mind at the effective admission of guilt from Hikaru, the rest of her is far away, under a sheet of ice. Team one, cordon and observe. If anyone's watching...obstruct them. Chandra?
Get her to trust you. Allude to the fact that you might be able to help even. Let's see if she'll show a card if we call.
Three women, each involved in their own conversations, conclude social interactions and drift across the room in the general direction of the host.
Chandra shakes off the feeling of absence with relative ease. How could Mizuki be absent from her when they were in each other's minds, after all.
"You know Autumn, if you have people you care about in danger - or feel they are - then there are...well, ways to ensure their safety. You surely know from your business that Lookshy's financial state is quite stable - fueled in no small part by the competition that you and your companion seem to fear." She shrugs. "But, I do have some favours that I could call in to aid your friend. Depending on the severity of the situation and those involved. And," she chuckles, "well, favours are not expended freely."
Mizuki blinks for a moment, her expression remaining amiable, then seems to...relax? As if a great weight had just fallen off of her shoulders as a ray of light presents itself. She gestures over to a recessed sitting space in a nearby pavilion.
"I think, my lady, that anything more said between us might better be said with some further protection from prying ears." If there is no objection raised, she leads the two women across to the pavilion and sits, looking carefully around - the three women in white moving in fluid conjunction with her, watching for any who might follow.
"I cannot tell you names." She says, once they are seated. "But I can tell you where to start." She leans forward, lowering her voice, and starts talking. There are safehouses in Lookshy, everyone knows that. She points out a particular one - now abandoned by the SOU - and tells Hikaru that it was recently used.
"I do not know why your mother was targeted, Hikaru. But..." She shrugs. "if you do not know, I can try to find out. You don't trust me, I understand that. But...I can help you, if you are willing to let me."
01-06-2013, 03:13 PM
The party continues well into the evening, an array of essence lamps and golden mirrors providing fantastic illumination for dances, stage performances and musicians.
Hikaru has asked Mizuki to see her at a later date, at terms to which both sides agree. River diligently reported the appointment, carefully keeping an eye on Lily at the same time. Her use of Essence - corrupted, dead Essence at that - rings in his ears in foreboding patterns. Her early leave is clearly suspicious, and he decides to follow her - unnoticed despite being in plain sight.
Lily doesn't go far. Together with her companion, she stops at a clearing where a few mortals are gathered - surrounded by hundreds of ghosts. Lily walks between them with a commanding aura instead of the fear even most Exalts would have, approaching a corpse-ladden wagon. Dark intonations ripple from her throat, and one after the other Zombies arise from the ground.
One Hundreth River has seen enough. He hurries back to the party, shedding his arcane disguise of the secretary he has been during the last few months. As he arrives at the loose curtain of guards around the festival grounds, he appears as young Fire-Aspect Dragonblood, clad in red Jade armor. His warnings are taken seriously without a hesistation.
Chandra overhears as Hikarus is given warning of the activities of the Deatknight. Her mental link to Mizuki allows for quick action - get themselves and as many guests as possible out of here, under cover-fire from Mizukis own soldiers and the Gunzoshas Yelami has provided her with.
That moment arrives swiftly as a large construct of bone and sinew comes over the western hill. Ghosts march behind it, while shambling corpses start to swarm over the flanks.
Mizuki reacts immedeately, raising her voice to calm as many guest as she can and leading them south. She holds off a few Zombies that get nearby, decapitating them with the hem of her dress before they get too close. She does not have to do so long before Essence-cannon fire streaks over her head, vaporizing the undead that were marching in her direction.
On the grounds of the Manse, River observes Hikarus actions. The guards are odered to protect the guests, and his "employer" and the silver-haired woman prepare to stand in the way of the oncoming assault. His ears ring as Essence washes over the other woman - who transforms into a silver-shadowed Lion-Horse. Hikaru jumps on the Simhatas back, and both of them launch into the air on suddenly-sprouting wings.
Hikaru and Keara dive into the horde of ghosts. Silver light burns the undead Essence it touches while Essence-Scythes sweep across the battlefied. Golden fists hammer necrotic flesh, sending Warghosts flying through the ranks, disrupting the formations order. Still, it does not last - there are too many to finish them off swiftly, and both Exalts are soon under assault by Lilys Bonestrider.
River decides to intervene. A short Kata, a single step forward - and green Essence transforms into black glass, raining down upon the massed formation. Ghostly flesh is rend assunder, and the horde around the fighting Exalts clears. Whether any of them is wounded is no matter to River - he rushes forward. A single, precise strike with the heel of his palm, and necrotic Essence flares as the Bonestrider unravels. Cloaked in a Veil of Fate, he rushes away and observes as Lily is rescued by a over-sized Raiton before she succumbs to the hammering fists of Hikaru.
01-15-2013, 06:33 AM
Time goes by
Mizuki is debriefed and praised for her initiative - rescuing the party guests, which obvious intervention from the SOU, earned quite a few favours. Yelami is even more pleased that Mizuki managed to keep her powers hidden -but raised public scrutiny in the next few months will prevent significant assignments.
Hikaru and her family have to face a investigation by the Sorcerer-Exorcists of Lookshys Immaculate Order - it takes several weeks, but somehow she manages to be enrolled at the Academy of Sorcery, instead of being banished or worse.
This development causes River to lose his job after a few weeks - but establishing new identities is all too easy. One of those allows him to observe first-hand what occurs at the Manse - mass-production of enchanted weaponry, and even a few artifacts. All are sold to the Seventh Legion, reinforcing Looksyhs already impressive arsenal.
It is not until the middle of the Season of Wood that significant developments come to pass...
Please describe your downtime activities - nine months pass by, leaing you quite enough time for pretty much anything you want to do.
01-15-2013, 05:29 PM
Second week of Ascending Air
Whilst the formal commendation - and the rather less formal one given after the...removal of one of the more difficult SOUs from Yelami's need to deal with - are rather nice, they do not sit on Mizuki's mind long. That her bait and switch against Hikaru has apparently succeeded is good, no doubt about it. But there are more pressing things on her mind.
Much of the weeks between then and the now have been spent working on the Factory Cathedral, clearing away areas and exploring ancient passageways not walked since the time of the Usurpation. The cathedral has slumbered for a long time. Awakening it is going to be...hard. Even with the specialists that she can access with Yelami's help actually bringing the building to life is going to be an extremely...difficult experience.
At least the...experience...of paying the maintenance price was a bit easier this time. Regardless of her worries concerning Gens Yushoto, Daisuke is an excellent healer. And his help is the main reason that she's on her feet so soon after completing the ritual. There has got to be a better way to do it - and, as is typical, she has an idea for how to go about that. But to complete it, they're going to need to learn a lot about geomancy. Quite probably more than most in Lookshy - Hells, in the Scavenger Lands - know. But at least it's working out so far. Now she just had to talk to Yelami about trying to find a half-mythical storehouse of geomantic knowledge, see about the possibility of bringing far more Sunpeople into the Cathedral to power it as it awoke, and then...oh yeah. Meet with Hikaru tonight.
That was going to be fun.
But yeah, Yelami first. She'd been holding off a bit on this conversation, mainly as she didn't want to have had time to work out how to twist it. Not more than would be expected at least. Working her way through the several layers of security, she knocks her pattern on her mentor's door and then enters when given leave to.
They exchange small talk, general shop talk and then it moves into more complex waters. Mizuki explains how the Factory-Cathedral work is going, and brings up her idea for how to stop it incapacitating her every seasons or so. And, that aside, ensuring the Lookshy can keep it running if she dies.
"You kept it stable using the Sunpeople before didn't you." She says. "What I was thinking is that I could convince a much larger number of them to come work in the Cathedral. And, if we can find out how - try to split up the cost it extracts between several hundred Sun-aspected rather than having it all focus on myself. I can probably get enough of them relatively easily - and, more to the point, get them to come willingly. The main problem would be getting them here." She shrugs. "It's just a basic idea, and it needs work, but it could work."
01-18-2013, 03:26 PM
Yelami sighs before she replies.
"Have you checked this with anyone else? Because if it were that simple, i am sure we would have done it ages ago. Those Sunpeople are very easy to catch after all, and we've provided what we can for them too. They still don't deliver enough power. Don't ask me why - i am not a Geomancer, but neither are you."
She sighs again, shaking her head.
"Look, i know you want to make this work. But just because you are a Solar Anathema now doesn't mean that you are suddenly better than generations of Dragonbloods. I do have a lead though that might help you - i figured since Anathema are renowned for robbing their own graves, it might help you if you did something like that."
01-18-2013, 03:42 PM
"Considering explaining the reasons why would likely not end particularly well, I have not." Mizuki shrugs. "It's an idea, that's all. I'm not saying that I know more than those generations of Dragonbloods. I'm not even going to say I'm better. But...before myself, did anyone ever attune to the Manse?" She stops and shakes her head suddenly. "Actually, possibly more importantly would be this. The Cathedral took blood from me to power it. It takes rather a lot of it actually. From what I've been allowed access to now, I can see that we were doing something quite different. It worked for the state the Cathedral's in right now, but the way the place seems to be designed doesn't seem to lend itself to passive power absorption." She shrugs again. "Truthfully? I don't know if it'll work. I really don't. But it's something we could talk to the Geomancers about at least?"
At the comment regarding grave-robbing, and particular Anathema, she doesn't - quite - stiffen, but comes close. "I wouldn't know if it would help." She replies calmly. "It would depend greatly on what was left in the tomb."
"I do, however, have another question. Regarding my meeting with Hikaru tonight. As I said to you on my return, she wanted to know why her mother was targeted." She tilts her head to one side, expression inquisitive. "Could you tell me?"
01-21-2013, 04:32 PM
Yelami gives you a stern look and shakes her head.
"Mizuki, I can’t. She had – has - to die for the security of the state. Although you can tell Hikaru that her being Anathema has nothing to do with it.”
She looks at you for a while, gauging your reaction, before taking out a stack of papers.
"This is your new assignment. The Repository of Dragons Blood. A First-Age Library of geomantic knowledge. You are to retrieve as much knowledge as you can, we’ll need it if we want to rebuild the manse properly."
She pulls out a map, indicating the rough position of your goal - south-west from the Marukan Redoubt, less than hundred miles from the Grey River. Even if you travel quickly, it will take at least three months to get there - upstream the Yanaze River, then from Nexus into the Grey River. Preparations will have to be made, as much for the journey as for your absence.
01-22-2013, 02:06 AM
Verdant gaze cast upward toward a baleful green sun, blinding relentless light basking the surrounding veranda and casting crazed shadows all about her person. Betrayal... she understood betrayal well. The feeling of watching the entire world turn against you in spite, until even the memories go up in golden and black flames and the chill of death sweeps over the ashes.
A broken city of the damned that stretched as far as the horizon before her very eyes. She couldn't help but indulge in bitter laughter, there was something profoundly ironic about this situation, where servants feasted as kings even as their creators are left to rot in an oubliette of brass and hatred.
How much had she accomplished since her arrival here? How much had any of them, really? Subservient to the twisted whims and mad screeds of the Demon Princes, nothing could be garnered. Only petty satisfaction.
All of them forgetful of their proper place. All of them so very broken and sordid. Pitiable. Pathetic. Powerless.
The pale shadows of previous glory.
All except one.
Her back turns away from the green sun, casting a shadow longer than the murky depths of the Ebon Dragon's hollow heart. That day, she walked away, her resolve made.
"Wait for my return." she stepped through the Gate of Inauspicious Passage and with that vanished from Hell.
The Renegade Infernal had not provided her previous masters with any warning as to her new state or explanation as to her decision. Not even Ligier. Still, deep down, she thought that he had to have known. What he had taught her, what he had shown her, how could he not known? And that gift of his... she held the emerald of pure coalesced vitriol up to catch the light of Creation's loathsome star.
She pressed the precious hearthstone to her lips, kissing it. It stung and hissed against her flesh but the pain meant nothing to her. Her tongue sliding over her lips, her eyes shone with the conviction of her chosen path.
She took her first step up the stairs. Then the next. Until at last through the threshold she entered her new home and domain: The Whisper of Vitriol. With the hearthstone in her possession, the vitriol elementals which had made it their home knelt in subjugation to their new Master.
In the distance, she recognized the glow of a forge forever cast in the veil of night, only the faintest glow of a flame brighter than any other hinting at the activity within.
Familiar. Comforting. Very interesting.
It had been a week since she had taken residence within her manse. She had organized her servants properly and taken the measure of the surrounding area. The information she has stolen from Orabilis' library in preparation for this day left her certain that a library of geomantic knowledge could be found in the same ancient and eerily quiet forest she had chosen as her humble abode. Somewhere in this sea of tranquility a map of the geomancy which would allow her to expand her dominion in preparation for her next move. She required vassals. She required cultists. She required resources.
She required a power base.
All this planning however was rudely interrupted by the intrusion upon her demesne by a bold if exiled Forest King and his band of elemental guards. Little more than ruffians and bandits really, but the audacity amused her greatly.
Screaming defiance at her face as she sat on a chair within her courtyard, Suria Deva took in the full measure of the wretched creature's words. How she loathed these traitorous and vain gods. Worthy of her punishment.
Yes, in the failing light of dusk, the courtyard rising in a sonorous hiss. Hundreds of eyes glowing with the unnatural beauty of Hell's only natural element.
She takes a sip from her glass of wine and then casts it away, rising from her seat.
"Very good. Then, you traitorous mutt, come and show me. Show me your mettle. Break yourself against me as I watch you and your followers die screaming like the trash you are." she opens her arms wide, smirking broadly.
It is good entertainment to the dark ruler of this place.
Their physical forms are torn apart, washed in the transcendent acid that forms her servants, their spirits crushed by the hammer of her personal guardian.
Without a sanctum, their fate is sealed. Their dismembered remains serve as a well-deserved feast to her guards.
Her joyful and exultant laughter fills the palace.
01-24-2013, 06:52 PM
Mizuki ponders that for a moment, especially the Anathema comment, then shrugs. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be that last. And at least she could say that she'd asked if Hikaru pressed her.
"I'm sure that will be quite the conversation then." She says in reply, then listens as Yelami outlines her new mission.
"I'm assuming this is going to be a small mission as not to attract attention, yes?" At Yelami's response, she nods. "Very well. I'll put together a plan and have a draft to you by the end of the week."
The two exchange a few further courtesies and then Mizuki takes her leave to allow Yelami to continue with her work and for Mizuki to prepare for her meeting.
Back in a park again, on a quiet, warm night. She knew Chandra was out there somewhere, but had asked her not to show her the form she was going to take so that she wouldn't recognise her. She makes her way over to the small Gazebo that she rented under a false name for the night and steps inside, drawing the door closed behind her.
She's early - quite deliberately in fact - and she sits down on one of the padded chairs with a view of most of the room and settles in to wait. This...was going to be interesting.
01-26-2013, 04:41 PM
You wait, checking your internal clock as minutes pass by.
Seconds before the appointed time, a radiant fountain of light erupts from the middle of the room, forming into a swirling cloud. It draws into an intricate pattern - and condenses into Hikaru, surrounded by a blazing anima-banner. Her hands are sweeping through the air, apparently controlling a sorcerous spell, the swirling motes to coalesce around them, to draw closer to her body, to gain solidity.
Not ten seconds later - precisely at the appointed time - she bows slightly to you. "Greetings, agent. I may not know your name, but i know of your nature - including that shared between the two of us. I think proper introductions are in order - i am Tihiro Hikaru, Helot of Lookshy, Daughter of Tihiro Tatila, Chosen of the Unconquered Sun."
After that - overly dramatic - entrance, she sits down about two arms lenghts from you. With the lightshow gone- though she is still surrounded by a golden corona, a golden disk within a circle blazing on her forehead - gone you can see that she has come unarmed, as agreed upon, though the confidence she radiates is a guarantee of her having taken precautions like you did yourself. But for now, she clearly expects you to answer to her in kind.
01-26-2013, 05:22 PM
Mizuki blinks at Hikaru's entrance, then smiles.
"Well, that gets one question off the table straight away." She stands, shaking her head. "And whilst I can't quite match your entrance, I can do well enough." She raises her arms upwards, sending fans spinning up around her in a wave of essence as her clothes come to life with a rippling shower of the same. Golden filigree traces delicate patterns across her garb, sparkling with a light all their own - very clearly supernatural - and a ring of icy silver suns flares into being around her, vanishing her features from view in a blaze of Essence. Her own caste mark burns behind them, a ring of blazing gold in gentle counterpoint to the silver light flooding out around her.
"Hinata Mizuki, Citizen of Lookshy, Daughter of Tien Yu, Dagger of Heaven to the Unconquered Sun." She dips her head lightly. "Greetings to you, Quicksilver Falcon."
She takes her seat again, looking calmly across at Hikaru from behind the shield of her anima. "So now that we have introductions out of the way." She says, stretching in her chair and clearly waiting for Hikaru to react and ask her questions.
01-26-2013, 06:10 PM
Hikarus tone is stern and serious as she adresses Mizuki.
"You will tell me who tried to murder my mother, and why. You will not attempt to lie to me, and reveal everything you know or learn. In exchange , i will not hold any grudge towards you or others who were just following orders, reserving my ire and wrath for those who gave the command. Do you, Hinata Mizuki, agree to this?"
Her face clearly portrays her emotions - whether deliberately or accidentally. The amount of anger at those responsible is something that would make most people shudder, especially combined with the power still surrounding her.
01-26-2013, 06:48 PM
Mizuki sits for several long moments, fans spinning idly around her as if mirroring her thoughts. Then she shrugs.
"As much as I am able, I will give freely." She replies, holding out her hand. "I believe you need this."
01-29-2013, 07:16 PM
Silver and gold light swirls from Hikarus brow as you extend your hand, and down her arms over her hands as she grabs your hand with both of hers. The corona of light washes over you, and Old Realm script floats between and around the both of you.
In the Name of Sol Invictus and the Laws of Heaven
I, Tihiro Hikaru declare that i forge a pact with Mizuki Hinata
Sealed by our oath, we declare ourselves subject to the Judgement of the Divine Lawgivers and to the Rulings of Fate until the day we die
Let her who breaks this Blessed Oath cursed by the Essence of the World until the day she dies, her honor forever broken.
Thus we swear under the eyes of the Unconquered Sun.
After the display fades, Hikaru sits down and nods to you with a slight smile.
"Well, that's that then. I can trust you now. Oh, and i should warn you - breaking that oath is pretty bad, so it's probably best if you start telling me things now."
01-31-2013, 05:28 PM
"Not demanding at all, are you, Hikaru." Mizuki replies, her tone amused. "I am quite aware of the consequences, Quill of Heaven. The script helped only a little.
"As for what you wish to know? I cannot tell you much. That I was ordered to kill your mother. That I failed, regardless of the severity of the poison involved - due to your intervention I assume. Where those orders sprang from within Lookshy, I do not know." She shrugs, hair shifting uncomfortably. "I did ask as to the why, but I was met with no answer other than 'I can't'. There are rather few who could force such. It had nothing to do, as far as I was told, with your being a Solar however. Whatever the reason, your mother has obviously aroused the ire of some very powerful people. Possibly even as highly placed as one of the General Staff."
02-08-2013, 03:56 PM
Hikarus face darkens a bit as she replies.
"So you really are just a pawn - at least that means my trust into you wasn't misplaced. But it also means you can't tell me anything of use - i should be angry for you implying otherwise."
She stands up, her demeanor clearly displaying her intention to leave, as she adresses you again.
"I've heard a bit of what you can do. Consider that you were chosen for a reason - a higher one than just being some Dragonbloods pawn. You can be much more than that if you but try."
02-08-2013, 04:12 PM
Mizuki shrugs, smiling slightly.
"The guise of a pawn is more useful than you would think." She replies. "And the fact that you believe I am not trying betrays your lack of knowledge. Then again, that would be to my advantage, now wouldn't it." She chuckles, tilting her head as her dark hair twines in a non-existent wind. "I doubt I will see you again, Tihiro Hikaru, but if we do meet again, I will remember this." Her tone is ambiguous, the true meaning of the words hidden beneath layers of drab ambiguity.
"But that, I suspect, is for the future - and one which is chancy at best. I would wish you luck, but I suspect you would not welcome it, and even if you would I do not think I could give it to you. Not the good kind at least." She rises to her feet, strolling over to the table at the side of the pavilion, form hidden by her pale essence. "But that is quite beside the point I think." Her caste mark moves abruptly as she shakes her head. "Goodbye, Quicksilver Falcon. May you fly swiftly to whatever fate awaits you."
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