The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Continued from The Lotus Blossoms!


    With only natural sea to sail, the Remora's journey to Haborhead is less eventful than its flight from the Dreaming Sea. The sights of the Southern coast, too, are less spectacular when seen a second time, diminished somewhat by familiarity. The context of power games and dark secrets besmirches the gleaming towers of Chiaroscuro and the rune-crusted walls of the Varang cities.

    The uncanny nature of the circle's living ship makes the voyage easier still, not only through the little magical conveniences it affords the crew, but also through the aura of power such an obviously magical conveyance projects, able to repel would-be pirates and curious fisher-folk alike merely through its implication of strength. Passing Realm vessels are not so cowed, but for the time being, at least, the word spreading by rumor and intelligence report is that the Remora is the personal vessel of the Daughter of Elegiac Winds, a mysterious but well-to-do daughter of the Dynasty, whose motley assemblage of hangers-on ultimately helped defuse tensions in Chiaroscuro. The tree-ship sails undisturbed.

    After a little less than a week in transit, the two great manse-topped hills of Kirighast come into view, towering over the port city's broad, natural harbor. In contrast to Chiaroscuro's deserted docks, Kirighast's port is still crowded with Realm shipping. The flag of the Merchant Fleet and its accompanying pennant bearing the V'neef mon are scarce here, though. They're outnumbered by the Cathak mon of the local satrap, which is outnumbered again by Ragara's sigil. The banking clan's investments in Harborhead run as deep as House Cathak's debts, and Ragara's galleons sit low in the water, holds heavy with jade or slaves. A scattering of Guild ships and independent merchants are present, too, bartering for whatever local traders have left after the Dynasts have claimed their share.

    A wide diagonal boulevard lined with parks and high-end merchants' stores, the Street of Palms, bisects the city of Kirighast. To the northeast lies the Realm's stronghold, referred to simply as "The Imperial Garrison" by the native population, though the actual barracks and parade grounds of the 47th Legion fill less than a third of the space within the solid walls of the "Garrison." The Garrison is centered on Inkosintaba, the storied "King's Mountain," now crowned not by the Leopard's Seat, but by the vine-draped white walls of the satrapial palace.

    To the southwest is the Old City of Kirighast, dominated by Borosintaba, the Bull's Mountain, the hill topped by the Fane of the Upswept Horns, the monumental temple which serves as the heart of Ahlat's cult. At Borosintaba's foot, the palace of the Leopard Seat himself, the nominal King of the Five Tribes, appears almost as an afterthought, quite literally overshadowed by god and satrap.

    Beyond the walls of the Old City and Garrison alike, an unruly fringe of slum tenements and squatters' huts blurs the boundary between Kirighast and the veldt. Great fenced pens, well guarded by armed and alert warriors, also stand at the edges of the city, corralling cattle or slaves awaiting their turn on the city's auction blocks.

    Harborhead, as the Realm would define it, is Brown Leaf's homeland, but this sun-baked urban labyrinth, where freedom is readily exchanged for jade scrip, is a far cry from the rural villages she knows. And while Jasara says that Wind was bound for this satrapy, there's no guarantee the capital was his goal. The search has to start somewhere, though.

    A new adventure awaits.

    Brown Leaf:
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    During the voyage, something unusual occurs. Every now and then, in a quiet moment of meditation or on the edge of sleep, Brown Leaf seems to hear an indistinct something, a gentle susurrus almost like a gentle breeze brushing through reeds. The sound has no obvious origin or cause, and perhaps that ought to be unsettling, but, if anything, Leaf is somehow comforted by the phantom whisper, fractionally emboldened by it.

    Brown Leaf has gained one dot of the Cult Merit.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2019-03-31 at 04:35 PM.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    There's only so much variety one can expect on the high seas, especially when pirates and curious locals are keeping their distance. Not being a sailor, Brown Leaf kept herself occupied with self-imposed routine. She woke with the sun, stretching on the top-deck as the leaves that formed the Remora's sails rustled.

    She was a small woman, average height in much of Creation, but petite for her native Harborhead. She dressed in plain, flexible clothing, mostly in shades of white, saffron and wheat-colored cotton, cut to a monk's needs, though with little loose fabric to drape across her muscled shoulders. She did possess one outfit of black silk, cut dashiki-style, with a matching black halter-top, brought together by a brightly-colored Yeddim-hair sash with silk backing. This last outfit was for special occasions only, and those were nonexistent on the ship. She had quick dark eyes, a prominent nose and very even teeth. Her scalp bore a few tiny scars from a lifetime of self-inflicted shaves without the benefit of a mirror, but at this time there was a significant covering of thick cloudy hair, dark brown but lighter than her skin. If asked, she would say that she was waiting to see what her hair wanted to do, and then they'd work something out between them.

    Each morning she would raise her hands above her head, interlocking her fingers and feeling the skin of her palms stretch against callouses, old and new. Then she would turn and scale the mast, fingers easily finding purchase in the rough bark of the tree. A quick moment of shimmying along the branch would see her hanging by an arm high above the deck, where she'd tuck her other arm behind her back and begin a series of quick, controlled pull-ups. After a hundred-count, she would switch arms. This would be followed by her toes hooking into a branch, and she would commence a series of hanging sit-ups, leg-ups and more stretching. By the time she finished her entire warmup, the galley would be open, and the next phase of her routine would begin.

    Still sweating, she'd descend into the ship's mess and join the ship's cook in preparing breakfast for the crew. Long since abandoning her monastic prohibition on meat, Leaf happily set out saltfish, bowls of soup made from preserved fish-skin and edible kelp, and rice congee. Once that work was done, she would eat, and then bring a plate down to the sleeping quarters for her girlfriend, who was a late-riser. They would talk while Kelam ate, and then descend to the hold, where they would light a single candle and practice meditation. This came naturally to Leaf, as a former Immaculate Monk, and Kelam was used to meditating as an aspect of her martial-arts training, but they practiced together as a means to bond, become closer, and help Kelam quiet the voices she sometimes heard in the dark.

    It was during such a session, the morning in which they made their approach to Kirighast, that Brown Leaf wondered if the voices might be contagious. Indistinct whispers, too vague to make out words, though words they clearly were, slipped into Leaf's consciousness and out again before she could focus on them. This was not as Kelam had described, ancient and massive and sinister. These whispers felt all too personal, vital and human.

    Feeling even better than usual after a morning well-spent, Leaf ascended to the deck, holding Kelam's parasol open for her partner, as the capital of her homeland loomed before them.

    "Welcome t' my home, Chéri. I hope I get t' show ya alla it."
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Kelam, who stood a head taller than her girlfriend, ducked slightly to fit comfortably underneath the parasol as she came on deck. She was grateful for the shade; though she had forsworn her allegiance to the Deathlord of Skullstone, by nature she was still of the Abyssal Exalted, a deathless creature of the Void, and the Sun's light pained her. Her skin was corpse-pale and almost preternaturally unblemished, a stark contrast with the long, straight, jet-black hair she typically kept tied back in a high ponytail. She had a dancer's build, a lean, long-limbed athleticism trained through meditative stretching, calisthenics, and as much sparring as she could convince her shipmates to endure. Though her birthplace lay to the West of Creation, she possessed the soft facial features most closely associated with natives of the Blessed Isle.

    Out of necessity her fashion choices ran in morbid courses; she dressed in funerary garb and clothing stripped from the bodies of the dead. These brought her metaphysically closer to the grave, lessening the sting of the Sun's judgment as she walked beyond the Underworld. By habit - self-imposed, but no less binding than any supernatural limitation - she kept her soulsteel katana, the Mourning Blade, at her side at all times, often stroking its tsuba as if by doing so she might commune with the tormented spirits of her family trapped within.

    Still, though she could not shrug off her aura of death entirely, she had changed much, brightened much, since she first met Brown Leaf. She wore her lamellar armor, with its ineradicable odors of old blood and stale sweat, less and less often in recent days, and her shy smiles and rosy blushes came more often than her cruel smirks and bitter tears. On the morning of their arrival to Kirighast, she hesitated only a moment before slipping an arm around her partner's waist, her fear of the eyes of the Remora's crew nearly gone.

    "No, this is a city,"
    she teasingly disagreed, "and I know you grew up from the fields, my little Leaf."

    She smiled to assure Leaf she meant that as no insult.

    "Wu-Jian trained me to see the best in cities along with their worst, but I hope we have the chance to visit your real home. It must be a wonderful place, if it turns out daughters like you."
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    As the two lovebirds conversed on the deck while taking in the sight of Kirigasht, Tya Captain Slang quietly chuckled while maneuvering the Remora closer to the docks, more than happy to see the two women openly enjoying each other’s company. The scar-like stylized tattoos framed their crooked smile and wound down their neck and continued down their lightly muscled arms. Underneath the hem of their sleeveless shirt, the scar of a shark bite accented with more tattoos can be seen as Slang shifted.

    A few of the crew hustled about, still familiarizing themselves with how to dock the modified living ship. Other crew members went about bringing up the leftover Chairoscuroan tiles onto the deck.

    ‘Zalm and Coela can get a good price on all it,’ Slang thought. ‘Well, we can worry about that later. First things first-'

    “Before we dock, do we have a plan for where we’re heading or what we are saying?” They called out to the rest of the Circle. “Besides the plan that Leaf has to show Kelam around that is.”

    They really shouldn’t tease the former monk so much, but she has the best reactions.
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

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    "Well, that's the rub, isn't it?"

    Wirric Stanton is leaning against the wall behind Slang. The sorcerer looks oddly at ease somehow: he finally consented to letting the ship's barber tidy his mop of golden hair, and without his hefty coat he seems strangely unburdened. The ruffles on his shirt flap heartily in the breeze, but Wic pays them no mind. He smiles as he watches two good companions enjoying both the view and each others company. It's a refreshing sight, and he doesn't look away even as he starts to explain things to the good Captain with slightly hushed tones. "Leaf's the one person here best suited to identifying Wind. She's from the area, and she knows the mind of an ex-Immaculate better than anyone. She should take the lead here. But..."

    With a sly look, Wic gestures to Kelam and Leaf before turning to Slang and whispering. "Well, do you want to come between those two right now?" The sorcerer chuckles softly, placing a hand to his throat before shaking his head. "I know I don't. I'm not so sure on lingering over their shoulder either. Even I know two people in love deserve some privacy."

    Oversimplified logic given, the sorcerer steps across to the side of the Remora, placing a hand upon the rail as he takes his own fill of Kirighast's skyline. Not a sight Wic had ever expected to see, and not one he welcomed exactly. There's an air of power to this place, a certain energy that leaves him on edge in a way even Champoor could not. His gaze lingers on the great Fane of Upswept Horns, and the Whitewaller can't hide a chuckle. Ahlat's grand temple is far more ostentatious than even the Palace of the Three: and the Syndics are Whitewall's open rulers. It says much about the Bull God and his place in the minds of the people here. The Dynasty must hate it so.

    More reflections can wait. Wic pulls himself up from the rail, glancing to Slang and gesturing to Tuoni. "I say we use today to get familiar with the area and any current events. After that we take tonight for ourselves and then tomorrow we begin searching for Wind in earnest. That allows Leaf and Kelam some personal time, and means we'll hopefully have a better lead to go on when we start searching properly."
    Last edited by Inspector Valin; 2019-04-02 at 12:52 PM.

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    Leaning against the rail, mangled hands spread over the living wood, Tuoni stares up at the twin horns of Ahlat. The sunsets must be beautiful from the peaks, he couldn't help but think. The Southern God of War was a stranger to him, but from what Brown Leaf and the Remora's sailors had said he was revered here almost as most as Golden-Eyed Jorst was back home. But, what had he done to earn such devotion? Since the Realm had come, had there been a war of any significant size in the south?

    Tuoni nods in agreement to Wic's plan. "The spirit courts here, I think, will be more sympathetic to the realm than any we've seen. We may need to be more subtle than is our want. Do you know if the horse tribes keep a camp near the city?"

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Slang sheepishly nodded as Wic spoke. "I've been teasing, but if you're saying it a bit much, I'll ease up."

    Tuoni's suggestion of subtlety caused the Captain to snort. "I am pretty sure that I can manage that. Not sure about everyone else."

    Slang glanced at Wic and quickly looked over Tuoni.

    "If we're looking to get the lay of the land, how about we let Leaf and Kelam have the day together. We could help sell some of the cargo, and maybe get you two some clothes. I mean you might want something other than furs, Tuoni, and I know some of your stuff got singed, Wic."
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Brown Leaf lingered with her head on Kelam's shoulder for a moment longer, then turned to the rest of the Circle.

    "I 'preciate the sentiment, cap'n, but it ain't gonna be that simple. The satrap's enclave ain't jes' the administrative center fer the Realm, it's also th' base fer the Realm's information network, an it's right next t' the Immaculate temple. If I don't go straight there an' report, folk who're paid t' look fer dissidents'll start payin' attention t' me. If I report in, I kin git us the latest reports on Immaculate movements, an' get 'em t' leave us alone...but I'mma have'ta go in alone. I'm sorry."

    The last words were directed at Kelam.
    Sorry for making things complicated!
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Kelam's body goes rigid with a sudden rush of fear. Leaf, alone, treading on what is now enemy ground?

    "How much do they know?" she blurts out. "And... and how will you explain your tattoos?"

    As wild thoughts and fears fly through her head, she runs a hand through her bangs. If she shaved her head, maybe...

    'You would play monk?' the bitter voice deep within her laughs, taking advantage of her distraction to worm back into her thoughts. 'Even more of a joke than playing hero. You lack the will.'

    She grits her teeth against the terrible pressure of the dark whisper, the hand that brushed through her hair now kneading her temple.

    'Pathetic. You yearn for light, but you lack the strength for it. Just as you lack the strength to acknowledge the truth of your being, the truth of the Void. Such a child. Playtime will end soon enough. Futile to fight-'

    She half-steps, half-staggers out of the shade of the parasol, welcoming the shock of sunlight, hoping that the Sun will drive back the voice. This is the worst it's been since Champoor, or maybe even before.

    "Sorry... dizzy spell... don't worry," she murmurs, trying to ward off her friends' concern, but she can't look at Leaf as she lies.

    As her fears and self-doubts storm on inside her head, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine which thoughts are the voice of the Neverborn and which are her own.
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    As Kelam stumbled, Slang barked at Tonijin to take over at the helm, which they abandoned to run to the Abyssal's side.

    "A dizzy spell? They don't just come about for no reason. How long have you not been feeling well?" Slang eyed Kelam, studying her. "Any other symptoms along with dizziness?"

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    Slang is spending a mote to activate Flawless Diagnosis Technique. Three motes on excellencies.
    Medicine 4+ Perception 3+ Excellencies 3+ Stunt 2
    (12d10)[2][4][6][8][5][6][7][9][10][8][7][1](73)
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Well I... that is..."

    Kelam isn't a particularly good liar at her best, and presently she's hardly at her best. She tries to piece together an explanation as Slang examines her, blaming her Abyssal nature, trying to take advantage of their ignorance of the undead Exalted, but Slang is too skilled to be so misled, and Kelam is still too human to be beyond the physician's ken.

    Her eyes are dialated, her typically slow pulse racing. She's suffering a fear response, out of all proportion with the situation. There is pain there, too. Headache, no obvious physical cause.

    Kelam's deep-seated sorrow is no secret - until recently, of course, she herself was known as the Mourning Blade - but this anxiousness, its physical weight, this is new. Slang realizes she is burdened, pained by her own mind.
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    "Hon...?"

    Brown Leaf leaned in and took Kelam's hand, placing her other hand on Kelam's arm in a gesture that was intended to be reassuring. When she spoke, her voice was full of concern.

    "If'n yer not feelin' right, I kin wait on goin' t' the temple. Or we kin drop the Immaculate angle alt'gether, start lookin' from scratch."

    She squeezed her girlfriend's hand gently, her tone shifting to compassion. Still maintaining her grip, she moved away slightly to make room for Slang.

    "You showed me I don't gotta be a monk my whole life, I kin jes not be one here, if it'll make things easier for ya. Don't worry none. I ain't gonna let nothin' happen to ya"

    She considered her partner's point of view.

    "Or to me, fer that matter."

    Spoiler: OOC & Rolls
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    Okay, this is kinda tricky. Brown Leaf is making an Instill action towards Kelam, citing her known intimacy of love for Brown Leaf. She's trying to create a sense that things are going to be okay, that they will be okay, and that Kelam, herself is okay. If I can, I'd like to use Charisma and Presence, as Brown Leaf is basically exerting her own immutability to reassure Kelam. Throwing an Excellency(4) on for good measure. CHA+Presence+Tiger's Dread Symmetry+Stunt+Excellency.

    (4d10)[3][7][3][4](17)
    (4d10)[1][3][3][8](15)
    (5d10)[5][3][9][1][5](23)
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-04-05 at 07:05 PM.
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    With Kelam wracked with anxiety, Slang placed their hands on the woman’s shoulders in an attempt to soothe and anchor her.

    “Hey, you’re okay. Leaf’s okay and is gonna remain okay. Just focus on breathing. Deep breaths, Kelam,” they whispered.

    Slang moved one hand into a pouch and pulled a small vial of oil. Opening it one-handed, the Tya dipped a finger into the woodsy smelling liquid and gently swiped the oil onto the wrist that wasn’t being held by Leaf.

    “Breathe in, that scent can help calm you. Later, if you’re up for it, maybe you can talk to either me or your girl about what triggered this panic, hm?” Slang lifted Kelam’s chin so that she would look them in the eyes and offered her a gentle smile. “You don’t have to deal with everything alone. I’ve told you we'd find a way to handle your worries together. Leaf sure isn’t going to let you get buried under whatever it is that’s bothering you. You can lean on us.”

    Slang continued to whisper encouragement to the swordswoman until she comes down from her anxiety attack.

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    Intelligence 3+ Medicine 4+ Stunt 2 +Excellencies 1= 10 dice
    BTW, Slang is using a vetiver-based essential oil for this. If you were curious.
    (10d10)[5][10][9][1][10][4][5][10][2][10](66)
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Kelam grips Leaf's hand tightly and raises her oil-scented wrist to her nose.

    Kelam hails from an island encrusted with urban development, a labyrinth of tenements slumped together into a single tottering mass, held up only by collective effort. The scents of home, then, are the smells of sea-salt, of close-packed humanity, of rotting garbage and sump water. After Wu-Jian, the Underworld claimed her, and nowhere in its reaches can the heady spice of funereal incense entirely drown out the charnel scent of death.

    The woody, earthy scent of the oil, then, does not smell of home. It's something better, purer. It smells of places she's never been, places she's never dared to dream, of Eastern forests, of leaves and soil, of life and the promise of life.

    Her shallow, gasping breaths slow and deepen, her shaking shoulders relax. Brown Leaf's reassurances push through the fog of fear and hate swirling within her, and even the bleak whisper of her dead-and-undying patron fades to a faint scratching, unpleasant but bearable (not unlike the light of the Sun).

    Fresh tears prick at her eyes as she calms, but they're clean tears, catharsis, release.

    "Thank you,"
    she mumbles, "I'msorry, 'msorry, I shouldn't- Shouldn't be falling apart, but..."

    She leans into the supporting hands of her... her rescuers, both Leaf and Slang.

    "Thank you."


    She looks to Leaf with wet eyes.

    "B-but I don't mean to hold you back... I ought to have... faith in you..."
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    Tuoni's gaze jerked down in concern at the sudden commotion but he hesitated, and stayed where he was by the railing. He hadn't forgotten how she'd introduced herself in the Chiaroscuran Underworld. Whatever demons filled Kelam's - or Mourning Blade's - brain, they were doubtlessly strengthened by living with one foot in each world. He'd learned that lesson himself when he was younger; he'd spent too many summers vacillating between romance in beds of slow-growing moss and hunts with the rest of his village. Friendships and familial ties had withered on the vine for lack of care, and there had been times he and his love had very nearly declared it not meant to be. He'd made his choice though, and was happy for it. Neither soft words nor comforting hands could force Kelam to make her own choice - besides, he wasn't very good at them anyway. Instead, once the swordswoman seemed steadier on her feet, he turned to regard Wirric.

    Insomuch as he could aboard the Remora, he'd been avoiding Wic these past few weeks. Their argument had cleared the air between them some, but he still found it hard to fully trust the sorcerer. Still... sometimes a new city meant a new leaf. "The good captain is right." Tuoni said, warily. "Both of our wardrobes have suffered, and I smell so much like a Yedim that even I'm noticing." He tapped the space on his mask where his nose would be. "A change is in order."

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    Wirric looks a touch surprised by Slang and Tuoni's suggestion. He stammers. "I... I was..."

    He turns, looking out across Kirighast's skyline briefly. He'd had another idea in mind, but the resolved to pursue it is melting like ice beneath this sun. With a mildly rueful chuckle, he shakes his head to the skyline, and looks back at Tuoni with a grateful smile. "That sounds like a good idea. A new look, a new approach. From both of us"

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    "Alla us, y'mean."

    Brown Leaf directed the remark at Wic, but barely shifted her eyes from Kelam before returning them to her girlfriend, speaking quietly.

    "Naw, I get it. Last time we were separated, we all ran inta all kinds'a trouble, an' didn't know each other's minds on things. I'll try an' act as our guide here, an hopefully we kin' learn somethin' 'bout Wind while we're in town."

    She laughed as Tuoni and Wic picked at their clothes. "An I kin confirm that ya'll do stink. A shoppin' trip sounds fun, an on the way back we kin stop at the public baths on the Street of Palms. It's a good place t' pick up local gossip, an' ya'll kin freshen up."
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

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    Letting Brown Leaf fully take over comforting Kelam, Slang took mental notes on the symptoms that the swordswoman exhibited. Bits and pieces of the ongoing conversation occasionally were heard by the Captain, but it was Leaf's mention of going to a bathhouse to clean up and to gather intel snapped their focus from Kelam.

    Green eyes darted about the group as if looking for a way out.

    "Um, are we sure that a bathhouse is the best place for gossip? I mean drinks tend to keep people willing to talk."
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Kelam shivers, and her cheeks flush, but for reasons entirely unrelated to her recent panic attack. In principle, a good bath sounds wonderful, and a bath with Brown Leaf sounds... like just the sort of dream she might have had before the black whispers of the Void beyond existence invaded her subconscious, but...

    "You said public baths?"
    she croaks.

    While the shyer members of the party try to find a way out of following Leaf's suggestion, the harbor pilots guide the Remora in to dock, giving it a berth amongst the Guild ships and independent traders. The living vessel draws stares and spreads whispers, and the harbor dues levied on it seem to have been inflated, but its crew isn't directly challenged as they were in Chiaroscuro. Kirighast soon lays open to its latest visitors.
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  20. - Top - End - #20
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Erm...!"

    Wic's face matches Slang and Kelam's at the suggestion of the party heading to the local public baths. The sorcerer glances across the group, the grip on his cane slackening a little as he tries desperately to think of something. Slang's words however give him the opening he needs.

    "Quite! We... we can do better than that! I can talk to someone from the Guild! Yes!"

    He seems a little too triumphant at having thought of a way to seize on this possibility as an escape. Wic stamps his cane down once upon the deck, and with that motion a flash of sky blue fire envelops the sorcerer, while somehow nary a spark seems to descend to the Remora herself. When it clears, there is no sign of the mysterious Mr. Stanton.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Just to put this beyond a doubt, Wic isn't angry or upset at this, he's just nervous around this topic and I couldn't resist the comedy. He's used his Twilight Anima power to teleport: he'll reappear in a place of power somewhere of Ascension's choice within a ten mile radius.

  21. - Top - End - #21
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    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf looked askance at the already-fading scorch mark on the deck. "Well Tuoni, I dunno if'n he's jes avoidin' cleanin' up 'cause you agreed t' it or not, but Wic musta been a terror t' his mama at bathtime."

    She looked to her remaining companions. Kelam doing poorly, and now Wic running off on his own again. Lots to worry about besides their mission, and they hadn't even left the ship.

    "I still think we oughtta do what we planned, but findin' Wic should take top priority. Boy can't do nothin' small, an I'm hopin' we kin stay here longer'n a day or two afore we gotta high-tail it out."
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    The sudden blue flames startled Slang, and when it cleared to reveal the empty space where Wic once stood, the Captain grumbled under their breath.

    “Just leave a friend behind.”

    However, Leaf’s suggestion of finding the wayward Twilight brought another avoidance tactic to mind.

    “You can go on to shop and bathe while I’ll go looking for Wic.”

    Yup. This plan doesn’t have any flaws to it…
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    The warrior in Kelam worries that the circle is splitting apart again. Their cohesion as a group is still fragile, their coordination questionable, and Kirighast is more firmly under the Realm's thumb than Chiaroscuro. Shenanigans on the scale of their typical misadventures might draw the better part of a legion in response. Scattering like this weakens their position.

    The girlfriend in Kelam realizes that if they could shake Tuoni too, she and Leaf would have more time to themselves. Maybe they could even find a private bath somewhere...

    She glances at the shaman.

    "Maybe you should go with the captain? Safer to go in pairs than alone," she suggests. She tries to make it sound like a practical consideration, though the faint blush in her cheeks may betray her ulterior motive.

    However the circle divides as they disembark, they quickly find that Leaf's prediction of muggy weather missed the mark. Even with the ocean so close, the humid sea breezes reach no further than the first line of buildings along the waterfront. And though by now the autumn should be ushering in cooler temperatures even this far South, summer's heat seems to linger overdue. The streets are still busy, but the crowds keep to shade as much as they can. The greenery visible around the satrap's palace doesn't seem to be suffering from the unseasonable heat, but the famous trees and gardens lining the Street of Palms look a bit parched.

    Meanwhile...

    The arrival of a ship propelled by sails of leaves, its masts living trees and its hull clad in bark, draws Skymoth's attention. He heard something about a ship like that through Pact channels, word spread by Qhispe. She's one of Ma-Ha-Suchi's lot, and he might have doubted her tale... but this ship certainly seems to fit the description. If the rest of her story is true, there are Solars on that ship, multiple. And if that's the case, the Celestial Exalted population of Kirighast has just grown significantly.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni snorted - not a pretty sound from behind the mask - and muttered "I could use a bath no less than the rest of you." But he glanced at Kelam and her blushing cheeks, and at Leaf's eager expression, and thought better of embarrassing the couple any further. Kelam might actually faint this time. So he raised his voice a bit and said, "But I don't know that I trust Stanton to be our ambassador here - lead the way, Captain. Tracking was never my strong suit."

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    The last few weeks in Kirighast have been frightfully dull for poor Skymoth. He would have thought that a civil war finally breaking out would be just the sort of situation he'd live for, but if anything interesting was happening, it hadn't reached this far south yet.

    He'd been killing time by training, mostly, one day after another, trying to maintain at least a little semblance of the routine that he'd lived by for so long with his sisters. He stole what he needed after dark with ease, so practical matters didn't bother him much, and spending too much time idle tended to make him morose, remembering exactly how cut off he was from everyone else. He'd been sorely tempted to try this "Heart's Blood hunt" thing he'd learned about from Smoke, just to have a form he could actually socialize in. He hadn't quite gone that far *yet*, but if he was going to stay around here much longer...

    But then, things changed. Qhispe's talk about a circle of Solars had been amusing, in a distant sort of way, but he certainly hadn't expected them to show up here. Maybe they had better taste than he thought! With an excited sense of curiosity, he'd been flitting around town in his other shape, the green-white moth that let him go almost anywhere without drawing a glance. Like a dog chasing a wagon, he wasn't quite sure what he'd do when he found them, but the chase alone was entertaining.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Um...okay. Cap'n, don't let me ferget I owe ya for stuff back in Chiaroscuro. You an' Tuoni go have fun an' meet us at the baths later, then. If'n you find Stanton 'afore we do, bring him too."

    Brown Leaf turned to Kelam and raised the parasol to shade them both, waiting until they were alone. It was early, but the sun was already baking the elegant brick buildings of the city and wilting leaves on the trees. With a mote of pride she noted that the leaf-sails of the Remora were still full and healthy, testament to her and Wic's work, and the crew's adaptability.

    "Listen, I've got a little money on hand, enough fer us t' get a bite in town. After that...I'd like t' take you somewhere an' try somethin' you may be uncomfortable with, but it might help. Y'mean the world t' me girl, an I don't want you in pain. If alla this was..." she tapped the side of her head with a finger and gave a meaningful look "'them' then it's somethin' we need t' work through. T'gether. You ain't my project, yer my partner. Y'hear?"

    Leaf finished with a grin, full of openness and earnest resolve. She might not be telling Kelam everything right now, but she was certainly not hiding anything.
    Spoiler: OOC & Rolls
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    Making a persuade attempt on Kelam with a 1-die excellency. Trying to get her to take on the task of going with Leaf and trying something that Leaf has already said might make her uncomfortable.

    (3d10)[7][9][5](21)
    (4d10)[8][6][1][6](21)
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    This wasn't exactly how they had planned it, but it would do for now.

    Nodding to Tuoni, Slang headed down the streets away from the Street of Palms and the public baths. Wic didn't seem to be the type who would hide in the very place he wished to avoid.

    Slang led Tuoni through busy streets, quiet little avenues, and shady-looking alleys, but the Tya really couldn’t seem to find the trail. Much to their frustration.

    “Dang it. I don’t know what he did, but I can’t get any sign of Wic,” Slang grumbled. “We might as well get some more comfortable clothes for you before we meet up with the others at the baths.”

    Though Slang didn’t want to admit it, a bath sounded rather nice after running around in the heat of the day. Hopefully, the bathhouse won’t be busy towards the end of the day.

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    Not even bothering to roll, because someone is cheating by not existing before twilight, but Slang doesn’t know that. ;P
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Kelam's eyes widen. She trusts her girlfriend implicitly, but Leaf's omission of details - along with the admission that her idea might be uncomfortable - opens up space for worry to creep in. She stops in her tracks and swallows hard.

    "You know I can't say no to you, love, but if I'm going to be your partner in dealing with... the whispers... I need to know what we are planning on doing. And..."


    She looks Leaf straight in the eye, and her face trembles on the border between her steel and her sorrow.

    "...I'd like to know what you'd think of me if it wasn't all them."


    Spoiler: OOC
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    I'm too tired to work out mechanics right now. I suspect Kelam literally cannot say no to Leaf given the Decision Point system to resist Persuade actions, but I'd need to plot out her whole Intimacy structure to be certain. Back-and-forth negotiation is also difficult to model in the Ex3 system as given, though I suspect much of it is meant to basically serve as the 'stunt' structure around the roll and defense; most Ex3 social actions are actually meant as an abstraction of a lengthier social interaction. (Read Intentions, for instance, is supposed to follow a few minutes of conversation, rather than being an at-a-glance observation.)

    So for the moment... Kelam's going to say yes regardless, but Kelam and I would like Leaf to think about this first.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf experienced a momentary pang of guilt, a new sensation to the fastidious monk.

    "Yer right, sorry. I guess I should save the suspense fer nice surprises an' such...or, jes leave 'em off. Never was much fer subtlety. Leave that t' the cap'n."

    She ran a hand through her thickening hair, confirming her suspicions that she too was in need of a wash. Sea air was bracing, but the flecks of salt and whatever it was fish did in the water left an inescapable film that was impossible to ignore once in-sight of land. Not that she'd ever tell Kelam that she too was afflicted with the briny smut marring her long raven hair.

    "Well, I had an idea fer helpin' ya when them whispers won't be quiet, but if'n it weren't...I'd still wanna help. I ain't good at sittin' back an' jes lettin' nobody be in distress, y'might've noticed." She favored Kelam with a rueful smile as they shared the obvious joke.

    "So, yea, I'd wanna help, even if y' jes had some sea-sickness or...land...sickness...can westerners get that? Anyway, I wanted t' try some Immaculate exercises with ya, see if'n we can isolate some'a what's goin' on in yer spirit what's causin' you trouble. I kin' explain it as we do it, but it's kinda hard t' explain in the abstract. We'd need t' go inta the city 'cause we're gonna be dealin' with yer Fire chakra," She placed a hand delicately on Kelam's breastbone, letting her fingertips linger on the dark armor's reinforced leather "so I figure the best place we kin' go is the Fane. It's a fire temple after all, an' there's bathin' pools at the summit with endless hot water. An if'n I'm rememberin' Alhat's festival calendar correctly, it's a women's day to use the pools."

    She took a half-step back and bounced slightly on her toes, eager to dig them into soil again. "So whatta ya say? I know I'm a cheap date, but I kin at least play tour-guide on the way! "
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Leaf:

    Gods, that little bounce... If the heat rising in Kelam's cheeks and touching the shell of her ears is any indication, Leaf may have already begun to work on her Fire chakra.

    "I don't know if, um... bathing pools... are the right place to work on focusing exercises,"
    she stammers, embarrassment stepping into to replace trepidation now that she knows the shape of Leaf's plan. "But..."

    She gives Leaf a shy smile.

    "It... does sound like a welcome distraction?"


    The pools aren't the only part of this plan that raise questions with Kelam, though.

    "But is the Fane open to everyone? I'm obviously foreign, and I didn't exactly bring any cattle to offer, either..."


    Kelam trails off. Second-guessing Leaf at every turn isn't how she wanted this day to go.

    "Sorry," she apologizes, "sorry, I worry too much. I would love for you to show me around!"

    She steps up close to Leaf's side, placing a hand over Leaf's hand on the handle of the parasol.

    "And... I'm glad to have you with me in dealing with... my darkness. Thank you."


    Skymoth:

    As a certain moth flutters by the docks, a whole passel of people are disembarking from the tree-ship. Most of them, however, are Tya sailors or local stevedores hauling cargo from its holds, not likely the Solars claimed to be aboard. Heading into the city, though, there are four strangers who look significantly more interesting. They're not all travelling together; they've split into two groups of two:

    One duo includes another Tya, distinguished from the rest of their crew by a distinct pattern of scars highlighted by tattoos, seemingly mementos of a large shark's bite. They're accompanied by a Northern-pale man, over-dressed for Southern weather, a blank white mask hiding his features. The Tya seems acutely aware of their surroundings, as if they're searching for something.

    The other pair walk close together, sharing the shade of a single parasol, but aside from their clear affection for one another they're a study in contrasts. One is a tall, pale Islander, armored like a mercenary soldier, a high-quality katana at her side. The other is a shorter Southern woman, likely from Harborhead, but of mixed blood, her tribal affiliation unclear. Her garb is that of a monk, but a frizz of hair hides her scalp.

    Skymoth must choose which pair of visitors to follow.
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