The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf cast her eyes over the defaced sculptures of Alhat as she followed Kelam into the alleyway. When gods break up, they don't go half-way. She turned her attention to Kelam and listened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelam


    "Back home my family always made do with just a bucket of seawater and a scrub brush,"
    Leaf stood stock-still for a moment, then laughed. "Hahahaah! Oh man, an' that feller back there was all ready t' bow an' scrape an' give ya the 'm'lady' treatment!" Still laughing, she patted Kelam's shoulder before leaning on her, smiling up to reassure her girlfriend. "I ain't no better. I heard yer stories 'bout runnin' the rooftops an' stealin' pork buns an' I figured you was jes' a rambunctious kid, maybe some high official's tomboy daughter. Yer manner's so proper an..." She stood straight, rising on her toes to almost bring her scalp level with Kelam's eyes, an intent look on her face. "'I have proper enunciation and perfect balance, not a ripple disturbs the pool of my being.'"

    She gave Kelam a quick kiss on the underside of her chin, then lowered herself and smiled again, though this time was just sincere. "Girl, yer jes' as used t' dirt an' hard livin' as me, but ya do such a good job'a coverin' it up you had me fooled. I love you an I ain't gonna force ya inta somethin' you don't wanna do, 'specially as this place..." she waved vaguely towards the bathhouse "Is more'n I'm really comfortable with too. I reckon we kin find a scrub-brush somewhere, but let's at least find some fresh water, whatta ya say? Go somewhere more private? We kin' still meet the others here in a bit."

    Spoiler: OOC & Rolls
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    So Leaf is trying to put Kelam at her ease, but I recognize that this way of doing it has just as much potential to set her spiraling again. So I figure it's appropriate for Leaf to roll here. When you get by socially on sheer force of personality, it can sometimes backfire.
    CHA+Presence+Stunt+TDS+2-die Excellency.

    (5d10)[2][4][9][1][3](19)
    (6d10)[2][2][4][2][2][10](22)
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-04-25 at 09:00 AM.
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    HalflingWizardGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "I've..." The guilt is obvious without Wirric having to say a word further. He hadn't even considered trying to defy the Syndics and find his daughter after he'd met up with Lupo. Whitewall had seemed unassailable to him. And with Whitewall out of the question, he'd had no idea how to so much as begin the search.

    But why had he accepted that basic premise as true to start with? Why listen to the Syndics? Fear of reprisal? Respect for them as the Gods and rightful rulers of Whitewall? All of that pales in comparison to one simple, overriding point. He had brought life into this world, and no other being stood willing to defend her. He'd been her only option, and he hadn't tried hard enough. Hadn't striven enough to overcome the obstacles. What kind of a Chosen of the Sun gives up?

    Spoiler
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    (3d10)[8][9][9](26) Liiimit. Oh Wic, it's been so long.


    Still, that doesn't have to stop him now. Whatever this is, however this has happened, he is here and can help. He needs to help. Wic takes an uneasy breath of cold sea air as he glances down at the flow below him, trying to steady his feet. One step back. Then a second. And then the Monster Maker is dashing forward across the flow; knees bent, centre of gravity low and arms spread behind him. In a second, he's reached the edge of the ice shelf and kicks away; propelling himself forward towards the shuddering figure.

    It's not too late. I can still help you. I can. still. help.

    Spoiler
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    (5d10)[6][5][1][2][5](19) Dex + Athletics
    (2d10)[9][4](13) Stunt Dice
    Last edited by Inspector Valin; 2019-04-26 at 06:02 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Ascension's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf:

    Spoiler: OOC
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    The border between fluff and grief here comes down to Intimacy adjudication. Since talking about her family could bring in her guilt complex... Well, I'm sorry.

    Kelam tries to laugh along with her girlfriend, but it comes out strangled. Her left hand falls back into its old reflex, gripping the Mourning Blade, and she sags against the wall.

    jes' a rambunctious kid ... some high official's tomboy daughter.

    "No..."


    Images of a life long-lost spill into her mind, a life of struggling for scraps of dignity in the stacked slums of Wu-Jian, a life of happiness won through hours of sweat and lost in seconds of blood, a life that, in her darkest moment, proved hope itself to be a lie.

    "It wasn't like that..."

    She wants Leaf's arms around her, wants Leaf's kisses to drive her memories away, but Leaf is all sharp laughter and bright smiles, and in this moment her good cheer burns Kelam like the Sun.

    You aren't meant for the light,
    the whisper hisses, dredging up memories of a little girl who was not yet Kelam, who was not yet even Mourning Blade, squinting up past the overhanging eaves of the upper floors of a ramshackle apartment complex, trying to catch a glimpse of the hidden sun.

    And a bitter surety of purpose wells up from within Kelam. The cold mask Leaf poked fun at slides back into place. The girl who washed with salt water from her mama's scrub bucket is dead. But the woman who lives won't let the black voice stained into her soul be right. She won't hide from the light any more.

    "But I am being silly,"
    she says, now standing erect, her voice now firm. "Let's do this properly."

    She takes Leaf's hand and begins to stride back across the street toward Wafting Sweetness's bath. The doors of the bath seem to shudder slightly, and drops of reddish liquid well in the eyes of the top left carving of the goddess.

    Wic:
    Spoiler: OOC
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    For Reasons(TM) I have decided to delay posting Wic's next segment somewhat.
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  4. - Top - End - #64
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf stared after Kelam for a moment, stung, before she was pulled along. She had to take several strides for each of Kelam's. "Now, now wa..." She started to protest, then felt how tightly Kelam gripped her hand, saw the knuckles tensed white. With a feeling of apprehension, she looked past the dark folds of Kelam's blue-swathed armor and saw what she had expected, Kelam's hand clenched on the hilt of her sword.

    Soon, I just need to clear the matter up with the valley, then we can save the world and I can help you, Chéri. Just...be okay until then.

    "...wait a sec, Chéri. I kin tell that things ain't playin' out how you wanted." She planted her feet, unconsciously shifting into a lower-body Tiger stance, though above the waist she remained relaxed. "So let's do what you want. The way you wanna do it. I been draggin' you all over the city t'day..." She relaxed her stance once Kelam stopped tugging, and shifted her grip. Each of her tattooed, calloused fingers threaded between Kelam's, pale and delicate, though with the even callouses of a sword-master. She took a moment to appreciate just how dangerous her partner was, briefly remembered the deadly conflict between them those few months ago, how the woman surging with fel power had sheathed her screaming weapon and conceded, rather than fight to the end. How much willpower had that taken? How might that contest have ended, had Kelam been intent to kill from the outset? No, her lover was a complicated woman, and Leaf longed to explore those complications, break down the barriers and see the intricate patterns that made up the woman who had teased out such strong emotions.

    She took a breath. "...Daan'd's way is t' ride the currents. T' flow an' see where the tide takes us. I been tryin' too hard t' be Paisap, holdin' firm an' pushin ahead. You take me where you wanna go, I'll follow yer lead..." She folded her right hand over their intertwined fingers, and leaned against Kelam's shoulder. "...wherever you wanna take me, I'll go willingly."
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni swore under his breath. He'd not noticed her weaving at first, he'd been more focused on her voice as he started, but something about it had seemed so deliberate, so familiar, that of course he'd succumbed to temptation. So, when he swore, his voice rang clear and absent his usual slurred speech patters.

    "I am a shaman of Linowa and a Masked One besides." He said in the weaving tongue. "Husband to a god and father to her children. Killer of-" and his voice seized for a moment as, belatedly, he realized this tongue didn't have a word for 'kill' that wasn't also 'murder'. Not in the way he meant it. "Killer of gods, men, and more besides. In my time and in my travels, I've learned many strange things."

    He shrugged his shoulders, hoping to take any edge out of his words. "You asked for an explanation, I hope that suffices."

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Anathema, too. That must help."

    Skymoth's tone is smug, almost teasing. While his jab is in Low Realm, the important word is easy to understand in any language. He stands up and leans back against the wall, posture non-threatening, and studies Slang and Tuoni for their reactions.

    "You are, aren't you? That boat of yours doesn't blend in very well."
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  7. - Top - End - #67
    Orc in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    When Tuoni's voice lost its slurred roughness, Slang struggled to understand the shaman and leaned it as if it would help them to comprehend the strange words. However, Skymoth's comment caused the Tya to stiffen. Their green eyes glanced towards the old woman to gauge her reaction before finding Skymoth's eyes.

    "I guess this is a safe place to out your fellows then. If not, then the three of us best not intrude on our host any more than we already have."

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Read Intentions on the healer to see if she would raise an alarm or report that Anathema are in town.

    (6d10)[7][3][7][10][3][3](33)
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni, Slang, Skymoth:

    "Ancestors preserve me," the elder murmurs, in Low Realm.

    She reaches into a nearby basket and pulls out a finished wrap, cowries sewn along its border. Hastily, she draws it around her shoulders. Tuoni can read its patterns, and they are all wards against evil.

    "I've little use for Immaculate notions about 'Anathema,' but I know your power is not natural, god-slayer. We remember the sounds, but not even my grandmother's grandmother could recall the weaving words being spoken aloud."

    She narrows her eyes, incredulous.

    "You steal the wisdom of my ancestors, you boast of felling gods, and you call yourself 'shaman'? The word must mean something different to your people. Here, it requires more than a wedding night."

    She shakes her head.

    "I will not tell the satrap's dogs that you are here, but your devil knowledge has not won my favor, either. If you want 'native Haborhead weaving' as a memento of your travels, try the marketplace in the Imperial Garrison. They have plenty of trinkets there."

    Spoiler: OOC and Roll
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    First off, Mal, Slang can tell that she's serious about not intending to raise the alarm.

    Secondly, pfm, I'll allow Tuoni to drop Ancient Tongue Understanding to get most of this. It's the dramatic thing to do.

    Thirdly, she's making a Persuade attempt to try to get you to leave. It will take rolled social influence if you still want to get anything from her.
    Spoiler: Roll
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    (6d10)[7][3][5][8][4][7](34)

    Brown Leaf:

    When Kelam first turns back to Brown Leaf, there is anger in her eyes. Not anger at Brown Leaf specifically, in all likelihood, but a fury that boils behind her eyes, eager for any outlet. She's set on her self-imposed goal, made stubborn by tortured logic, ready to snap at her girlfriend for interrupting, for holding her back from the scourging fire of self-excoriation.

    But then Leaf threads her fingers through Kelam's own, leans into her shoulder, reminds her that beneath calloused skin and corded muscle, Leaf harbors such a soft heart. That yielding nature - Danaa'd's gift - disarms Kelam's intemperance.

    She places her left hand over Brown Leaf's right, and she sways against the ex-monk's body.

    In a strained voice, she begins, "I don't know what I wan-" but cuts herself short.

    "No, that's not true."


    She hides her face in Leaf's hair and hisses out a frustrated sigh. Ash and bone she wishes she were about to say anything but the truth. Anything else would be easier. But no, she can't dance around it any longer.

    "I know what I want, but I don't know if... we're ready for it,"
    she murmurs. If anyone could see, her pale cheeks have flushed crimson.

    "With how some people dress in Harborhead... with you growing up a monk... it may not have occurred to you. B-but all day today... all this talk of b-bathing..."


    She grips Brown Leaf's hand tighter. Her heart pounds as fast and hard as it ever did when she was properly 'alive,' and the Element of Fire seems to have taken over her body completely, judging by the heat radiating from her ears, her cheeks, and elsewhere.

    "Well... it's enough to give a girl ideas!"
    she blurts out.
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  9. - Top - End - #69
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf had lead what could be called a sheltered life. Her childhood was one of lessons, exercise, high expectations and understated encouragement. Her relations with others had been of love and duty, filial, fraternal and agape. As she had matured she had noticed some altered priorities, momentary lapses in concentration or flitting urges to experience things most outside of her cloistered existence, but she had dismissed those as insufficient rigor or an imbalance in the flow of her chakras, something minor to be stamped out with proper conduct, meditation and exercise. The fact of her own development from a girl into a woman had meant that sometimes she was subjected to the attentions of others, occasionally those with very imbalanced chakras. She had largely ignored these matters, dismissing those persons as simply having insufficient spiritual awareness to recognize how ephemeral their desires were, and then she would make a mental note to return later and explain their errors to them in blunt terms. Today though, today was different.

    Flushed faces must be contagious, for Brown Leaf found herself suddenly very aware of heat on her face that had nothing to do with the early-afternoon sun...or perhaps it did. "I...uh...I ain't thought'a that, no."

    Once again Brown Leaf felt that urge to run combined with a desire to stay that had dogged her after she had inadvertently outed the nature of Kelam's sword to Ayesha. Part of her wanted to turn and sprint away in a cloud of dust and rubble as unsound buildings that failed to evacuate her path were forcibly removed, and another part demanded that she remain where she was and see this through, no matter how difficult or painful it may be. A third part, growing more vocal with each heartbeat was excoriating the former two urges while egging Leaf on to 'Just go with her!' Without too much difficulty, the latter part of her psyche triumphed.

    "But...I'd like you t' show me...share some'a yer ideas."

    She guided Kelam back to the counter where the attendant was waiting and likely trying to pretend he had not been listening in. "Hey again, we'd like t' use the women's baths, but we're meetin' some folks here later an' will go inta the mixed baths then. Can we keep our stuff with us, or can y' provide us with a box or trunk or somethin' so we kin' keep our stuff in eye-sight?"

    This was about making Kelam comfortable, she told herself. Comfort...excitement too, if it came to that...hopefully.
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    pfm1995's Avatar

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni's response is a little less measured than Slang's. At the newcomer's interruption his head whips around, and even though the mask hides his eyes the look he gives Skymoth is scorching - literally. The sun streaming down through the broken roof of the hut seems almost to feed off his glare; between heartbeats the air, already hot, became as stifling as a northern sauna and bright as sun on fresh snow. From above, a single feather drifted down.

    "I would prefer," the shaman said to Skymoth, his voice clipped, "if for once we could move through a city without incident. Elder," and he takes a moment, swallows, and though he softens his tone as much as he can there's still an edge of anger to it. "I apologize if I offended, though I would ask that you not speak of the most joyous day of my life with such scorn. There is indeed more to being a shaman than a wedding night, but I wonder if you and yours have not forgotten that yourselves? How your gods, your ancestors must have jumped for joy, hearing their old tongue one last time. And it will be the last time - I have no cause to speak it again, and your people have forgotten. Maybe because they believe wisdom can be stolen, when it can only be shared."

    Tuoni stood, dusting the red dust from the floor off his hands. "I have been as honest and forthright with you as I felt I was able, and I have meant what I said - if you would like me to leave, I will."

    Spoiler: Rolls
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    Tuoni will try a roll on his way out the door. Hoping to catch on any intimacy relating to preserving old traditions.

    Socialize and Charisma - (4d10)[9][6][4][7](26)

  11. - Top - End - #71
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Skymoth grins widely. Like a wildflower, he thrives in the heat; like the moon, he's brightest when he's reflecting the sun. He decides in that moment that he likes Tuoni, even if his mask isn't nearly fearsome enough -- it should have fangs, at the very least.

    "I'll help you get new clothes, if you still want them. There's a few good places around that sell secondhand at a fair price."

    He gives Slang his most charming smile, showing off gleaming teeth. "...But foreigners always pay too much for things."
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  12. - Top - End - #72
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni, Slang, Skymoth:

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Speaking honestly, I'd like to steer clear of "male outsider knows black woman's ancestral religion better than she does," so I'm going to say she's got an Intimacy of distrust of foreigners to offset her Intimacy in favor of preserving tradition.

    Although the elder's eyes widen for a moment at the thought of the opportunity the foreign shaman's power offers, the avenues it could open, she remembers her place a moment later.

    "Arrogance again, to presume we did not intend to forget."

    She shakes her head.

    "I know where I stand in relation to the spirits, god-slayer. I have the humility to know that my tongue is not meant for their speech. I am an intercessor between them and my people, not an equal... certainly not a superior. And I am content in that knowledge."

    She begins to unravel the message she wove for Tuoni's eyes, banishing the fabric's memory of his visit.

    "Go on, then. Leave me. And take your blasphemies with you."

    Brown Leaf:

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Roman women didn't use the strigil, but I'm not sure what they did use in preparing for bathing, and Etruscan women used it, so rather than spend more time researching this post, I'm just going to assume the Realm does things the Etruscan way.

    Kelam's heart does another somersault as Brown Leaf leads her back into the public baths, her words to the attendant at the counter setting the process into motion beyond Kelam's power to forestall.

    "This wasn't the idea I had in mind!" she quietly hisses as soon as the moment presents itself, but she can't hold a grudge against her girlfriend. Any miscommunication on this particular point is simply a reminder of the dangers of speaking euphemistically with someone whose upbringing likely averred the use of euphemism.

    While she works to process all of that, Wafting Sweetness's acolyte is going on about how "any rumors you may have heard about our bath attendants being anything less than trustworthy are nothing but malicious falsehoods!"

    Kelam is hardly in the mood for his flowery misdirection, so she flashes him her best glare. It's perhaps a bit more murderous than he would expect from the average Dynast, but any suspicions which that might engender are lost in the sudden blossoming of his instinct for self-preservation.

    "...but of course, where highly valuable items are concerned, I understand the impulse to exercise an abundance of caution. For the comfort of our honored guests, I will make arrangements, one moment..."

    - - -

    The experience of the bath initially lives down to Kelam's expectations... the attendant who applies oil to her body and scrapes it clean preparatory to bathing crosses several thresholds she had anticipated first crossing with Brown Leaf... but her mood improves as she gets further into the process.

    The tepidarium, or warm bath, a sort of mild sauna, is a Realm addition to the bathing process, and this influence is evident in the construction of the room: suggested prayers to Wafting Sweetness carved into the walls are written in Low Realm script, and they're commingled with occasional remembrances of the Dragons, particularly Hesiesh, Danaa'd, and Mela. The steam that pervades the room is purely a product of the desmense, however, and each breath carries Wafting Sweetness's restorative blessing.

    At this hour, the women's bath is pleasantly uncrowded; Leaf and Kelam share the tepidarium with only a pair of aging Shayanti women carrying on a languid conversation with each other in Flametongue. Hiding demurely in her towel, warmed by pleasant steam rather than the glare of the judgmental Sun, Kelam begins to relax.

    The hot bath is closer to the hot springs' pre-Realm state. Though covered by the brick dome overhead and brick walls ringing the outer circumference, the pools themselves are natural, divided into gendered baths only by wooden walls of fairly recent construction, reaching to a height of only eight or nine feet above the water. When Leaf and Kelam first enter, the women's bath seems to only have a single occupant, a young Totikari woman. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that she is not a guest. She stands outside the water with her eyes demurely downcast, a towel embroidered with the Cathak mon draped over her arm.

    As Leaf and Kelam approach the water they can see, just visible through the water's shroud of steam and murk of mineral deposits, a woman with an Islander's complexion and a clean-shaven head meditating at the bottom of the pool.
    Last edited by Ascension; 2019-04-29 at 05:56 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #73
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf set down the box containing their possessions atop a flat rock that was relatively dry. The wooden container had a secure sliding top and a wax-covered exterior to keep the damp out, but even so she took no chances with Kelam's weapon and armor, her own clothes as well. She made eye-contact with Kelam, and nodded, both of them had noted the other women and reached a silent agreement not to act. Instead, Leaf crossed to the natural shelf, shed her wrap and gently slid under, holding her breath just long enough to feel the minerals in the water suffuse the roots of her hair before breaking the surface again.

    For a woman used to cold stream-water and scrubbing-sand, this was luxury on a grand scale. After allowing herself to enjoy the water's warmth for a moment, she wordlessly slipped behind Kelam and began rubbing her shoulders, back and arms. She enjoyed the sensation of her skin, the small knots of muscle underneath that she worked loose with her gently applied thumbs, palms and fingers. When she could find no more sore spots to massage, she cast about for a comb and was only somewhat surprised to find one. No doubt it had been placed by some enterprising attendant, but the smooth bone teeth were ideally suited to the material sanctum of a goddess of spring-bathing. She began pulling the comb through Kelam's long black hair, first catching in tangles that pulled Kelam's chin up slightly, then carefully working through them. Leaf enjoyed the sight of her hair spreading across the surface of the water between them, the elegant straight strands creating a thick carpet that moved with the ripples that constantly played along the surface of the pool. Suddenly in need of contact, Leaf wrapped her arms across Kelam's collar-bone and pulled her backwards, scooting herself forward on the rock as she did so. They came to rest with the back of Kelam's head against Leaf's chest, Leaf able to rest her chin on her girlfriend's freshly combed hair. She looked down and tenderly laid a kiss against Kelam's forehead, brushing aside a strand of hair with her nose as she did so.

    Through all of this, she paid the attendant little attention, though she had already deduced much. The silence, the demure expression, the lack of familiarity in this, the gathering-place of the tribes, indicated that this woman had no tribe. Tokitari she may be by appearance, but if she were to step outside these baths, no attendant would return a weapon to her. She was a slave, worse, she was a slave to the Realm, which meant that if she had children then they too would be slaves. For that matter, she herself might be the child of slaves, and had never known freedom in Harborhead. Indeed, she may be as much a stranger here as her mistress.

    Still holding Kelam, Brown Leaf's eyes shifted to the submerged woman. Through the water, little could be discerned. She could be young or old, for that matter if she was under this long, she was almost certainly a chosen of Daan'd, and therefore could be any age and still appear young. She only had the one attendant, which implied she was not of the highest station, but if she were Immaculate, as was likely from her shaved head, then the presence of any attendants at all might indicate she was a person of rank. As her attendant carried the Cathak Mon, she could be here as an Immaculate delegate or a representative of her House. She could be on the staff of the Satrap or merely visiting, itinerant or established.

    Whatever the case, her presence forced Leaf's hand. She could be seen as an Immaculate, one openly embracing another woman with affection, a full head of hair and blatant tattoos that were eyebrow-raising if not downright heretical. Alternatively, she could be just a woman, a wandering adventurer in a city that had seen its share of heroes, mercenaries and treasure-seekers, an oddity, but not odd among oddities, and one with a beautiful partner to boot.

    Leaf made her choice, she would make her feelings clear. She tilted Kelam's head up and kissed her, holding the position for as long as she liked. When their lips parted, she pulled in her knees, shifted around Kelam and slid down onto the same level as her, the water coming up to her shoulders. She gave a sheepish grin. "My turn."
    Sorry for making things complicated!
    -Me

  14. - Top - End - #74
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Slang bowed their head at the elder’s request. “Sorry for imposing on you, elder. Thank you for the meal.” They handed back an empty bowl as they rose from their seat.

    Turning to Skymoth, Slang smiled tentatively in return. “I doubt he would want to forego less sweltering clothes. Having a local guide would be nice. Thank you for the offer.” The Tya chuckled at the Lunar’s observation. “A rite of passage for most travelers I think. Or just arrogance, people thinking something is not worthy of having because it isn’t new or not priced highly.”

    Stepping out of the ruined abode, Slang glanced around again before speaking to Skymoth again.

    “I have a distinct impression that I should know you even though we’ve never met before.” They slowly offer their hand to the muscular man. "Slang."
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  15. - Top - End - #75
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni just nods his head, and steps through the cloth doorway.

    "I welcome your offer." He said to Skymoth, "Cities like this are infuriating to navigate."

  16. - Top - End - #76
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf:

    Brown Leaf's openly displayed affection initially makes Kelam nervous, despite the meditating Dynast's inward focus and her slave's carefully averted eyes, but the water is exquisite... as hot as the attendant at the desk warned, but Kelam is made of sterner stuff than most... and the feeling of Leaf's strong, sure hands against her skin soon carries her mind away completely. Self-consciousness, worry, even the ceaseless whisper of the Void scrabbling at the edge of her psyche... it all falls away. For a little while, her world consists only of heat, and touch, and love.

    But then the shoulder massage ends, and Leaf trades places with her. Kelam blinks fuzzily, the changing situation demanding that she regain at least a little awareness of the world around her, extending her consciousness at least far enough to encompass her girlfriend. She reaches out, wrapping Leaf in a loose embrace, and answers the other woman's kisses with light, whispering brushes of her lips, grazing Leaf's cheek, ear, scalp.

    Kelam's mind, still fuzzy with happiness and physical sensation, races ahead down indecorous paths, but she's regained enough self-awareness to rein in those thoughts, and her hands move to the relatively safe space of Leaf's shoulders, to repay her massage in kind. Kelam lacks her girlfriend's strength, but she has deft fingers, and-

    -and she stops almost as soon as she's begun, suddenly sitting very still in the water. Her senses are acute to an uncanny degree - one of her Exaltation's dubious gifts - and she has a faint premonition she can't ignore.

    A moment later, the meditating Dynast stands from her lotus posture, her movement flowing immediately into a martial arts kata. Leaf can feel Kelam's body go rigid in anticipation of combat... the deathknight's right arm reaches from the pool, groping for the box containing her sword... but it quickly becomes apparent that the Dynast isn't focused on the bath's other guests. She doesn't even open her eyes until she's completed the kata.

    After she opens her eyes, however, she notices the other bathers quickly. Her slave holds out her towel, but she pays it no heed, her focus captured by the two strangers. Her irises are so dark they're barely distinguishable from her pupils, making her eyes look huge as she sizes up Leaf and Kelam...

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Would Leaf try to hide her tattoos beneath the water? You could try it if you like, with a Stealth roll.

    You could also roll Perception + Martial Arts if you were interested in analyzing her kata.
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  17. - Top - End - #77
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Skymoth practically radiated cheerfulness and self-assurance as he led Slang and Tuoni through the streets. People tended to stare at him, discreetly or overtly -- with the way his skin shined in the light, the powerful grace of his movements, and the smiles he flashed, it wasn't hard to see why. He chuckled at Slang's question, wondering how to answer it best.

    "We've not met, exactly, but it seems like we have some shared experiences. I'm sure it'll come to you eventually."

    As it happens, the ex-Bride really isn't an expert on the local market. It's not as if he had to go shopping often when he lived in the temple. He does, however, know a few people that are at least somewhat friendly toward him, and probably won't rip him off or sell him out. Golden Dream deals in all things secondhand and repaired, and she's where Skymoth gets most of his essentials, when he can scrounge up a bit of cash for them. She owns multiple stands in the market, heaped with everything from slightly damaged fruit to torn silks waiting for someone to give them new shape and life. Her sons and daughters do most of the selling, but he looks for Golden Dream herself, scanning the crowd until he finds her.

    "Anything you need, I guarantee it's here."
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  18. - Top - End - #78
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    For a moment, Brown Leaf was miffed at the disruption. Kelam's thumb had hovered briefly over a knot of tensed muscle that had been a persistant annoyance since that morning, but the katas of the Immaculate martial artist proved a worthy diversion. She herself had practiced those very katas in the early parts of the year, when her sifu had drilled the initates standing waste-deep in the cold rivers of the valley in the pre-dawn light. The coolness of the memory and the heat of the baths were incongruous, but she enjoyed the brief trip back to the valley of her youth...the valley...perhaps this was an opportunity.

    "Very nice. That was Daan'd's ascending kata, weren't it? The one what leads into the Rippling Water Strike?" She leaned forward, and shot her right arm into the air, stopping abruptly in a claw-fist, then whipping her wrist and elbow around to strike again with her knuckles. The action sent a flurry of even ripples out from her that vied for dominance with the ripples of the pool-spouts, and with the ripples caused by the Islander's movements. She settled back down, leaning against Kelam's midriff as her left hand caressed her partner's submerged foot. "You do the form justice. I'm Brown Leaf. My partner here's Kelam. We're bath enthusiasts. Mind tellin' me to whom I have the pri'llige'a speakin'?"

    Spoiler: OOC & Rolls
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    Rolled the Perception+Martial arts in the OOC, got 6 successes on that. Now working on getting into the other woman's good graces. Even if Brown Leaf's over-casual manner isn't to her liking, Leaf is trying to be just enough of a mystery to pique her interest.
    Rolling Charisma + Socialize + Stunt.
    (3d10)[7][10][1](18)
    (3d10)[9][9][4](22)
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-05-01 at 03:59 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #79
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf:

    Kelam feels like finding a rock and hiding under it when Leaf responds to the Dynast's curious gaze by deliberately drawing more attention to herself, but... that's just Brown Leaf. That's just something she's going to need to get used to. As Leaf caresses her foot, she rests a hand on Leaf's waist, and the touch, the mutual affection, reminds her... yes, this woman is worth the risk of getting dragged into naked martial arts battles.

    But she still gives Leaf a pinch and a look of mild admonishment after she describes the two of them as 'bath enthusiasts.'

    Leaf's strategy seems to have had the desired effect, however; she's certainly fueled the Dynast's curiosity. The woman arches an eyebrow and steps closer, wading through the steaming water with casual ease.

    "You know the fundamentals of Water Dragon, but that's not an Immaculate style you demonstrated. It looked like Tiger, but looser than any school I know."

    Her lips pull back in a toothy smile.

    "Feral, almost."

    She bows, respectfully, in the Immaculate style, then crosses the rest of the distance to Leaf and Kelam's side of the pool and sits beside them.

    "I'm Laughing Brook," she introduces herself, "martial arts enthusiast."

    She nods to Leaf's tattoos, standing out bright gold against her dark skin.

    "Those are interesting stripes you've got there, tiger. I'd be curious to hear how you got them, if you don't mind telling the story."

    Laughing Brook's toothy smile reappears, and Kelam instantly decides she doesn't like it or her.

    "C'mon. One enthusiast to another."

    Brook winks, and it's lucky for all involved that, with Leaf leaning back against Kelam, the Mourning Blade is outside the Abyssal's reach.

    Spoiler: OOC
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    Persuade roll to try to convince Leaf to explain her stripes:

    Spoiler: Roll
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    (7d10)[9][10][1][7][2][4][3](36)
    Last edited by Ascension; 2019-05-01 at 10:32 PM.
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  20. - Top - End - #80
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Slang smiled and greeted Golden Dream with a small wave, not wanting to disturb her conversation with another, before perusing the wares. Colorful clothes were folded neatly in several stacks next to a collection of various loose fabrics. They pulled a few items carefully from their piles to get a better look at them before shaking their head and folding the clothes up and replacing them.

    "Tuoni, anything-?"

    As Slang turned to speak with the shaman, they spotted a dark cloth with a white pattern of cowrie shells and X's. The captain plucked the fabric out of its stack and unfurled it. It seemed to be a light-weight, loose-fitting, long, open coat. The hem did look a little frayed at the bottom, but nothing too noticeable.

    ‘This looks like it would fit Wic.’

    They draped the coat over their arm as they moved to where Tuoni was browsing.

    “I found something that might work for Wic. Have you spotted anything for yourself?”
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  21. - Top - End - #81
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf drew up straight. Was...was she being flirted with? Why? What kind of monk would flirt with someone they just met? What kind of monk would flirt? That question drew one fairly obvious answer to mind, but it probably was not the correct one for this situation. No, Leaf's suspicion was aroused by this 'Laughing Brook' and her intent chattiness. She had expected grudging acknowledgement, perhaps feigned disinterest. She wanted information from the Immaculate, and was annoyed to find herself the target of exactly the same kind of information fishing she was trying to pull off. For all she knew, the girl could be aware of Lou Kahn and the Valley, looking for insight that might help the excursion. Damn, she was no good at this kind of thing, that's why she hung out with Ivory Knife...who was still back in Chiaroscuro with that damnable dragon.

    Realizing she'd let the pause linger slightly too long, Leaf grinned back and gave Kelam's foot a reassuring squeeze, then pushed off and slipped into the deeper region of the pool Brook had just vacated. She could stand here, but it was easier to half-float, letting her heels rest against the bottom. Facing the ceiling, she replied confidently. "Aw, I ain't one t' brag, but I done impressed a right powerful spirit once upon'a time, an that spirit done right by me. Gave me this-here ink t' show what I been through, hard-earned an' hard won. After all..."

    She pushed off, propelling herself with small kicks that failed to disturb the surface, turning as she went to return to Kelam's side.

    "...the best things is worth workin' fer." She leaned her head on Kelam's thigh in an open sign of affection, then looked up at her girlfriend. She held her gaze, and tried to convey with her eyes feelings she would not let into her voice. She kept that light, conversational, and directed at Laughing Brook.

    "We was wonderin' if'n you might be an Immaculate monk yerself, an if so you knew what might be happenin' up at the Fane. We went there first, seemed the right thing t' do visitin' the city, but we couldn't get inside. If'n you tell us that, perhaps we kin' meet up again sometime an' clear an' afternoon for the full story 'bout my stripes?"

    Spoiler: OOC & Rolls
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    Okay, so hopefully that's worth a stunt to add on to Leaf's Resolve (4) Also going to cite Leaf's Intimacy for Lou Kahn to try and boost that resolve, if not, spending a WP. If she's flirting...um...no. Kelam is right there, and if she got the impression Leaf'll fall for anything with Islander features and a shiny smile, she's got another thing coming.

    As for her question...damn, that's probably a manipulation roll, isn't it? Leaf has been trying to get by on sheer mystique so far, so I think I can still justify presence.

    So that is Manipulation(1) + Presence(3)+Stunt(2)+TDS(1)
    (7d10)[4][1][6][4][6][2][9](32)
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-05-02 at 11:25 AM.
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  22. - Top - End - #82
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Walking through the sun-soaked streets, the old woman's unkind words rung loudly in Tuoni's ears. She was his elder, and he hadn't expected her to turn to scorn so quickly - not over something that small. And she was his elder, and more knowledgeable of this place than he could ever hope to be - what had he done to offend? Language was a gift, and loosing it the worst blow a culture could take. Had she resigned herself to the realm then, living in her broken hut? He shook his head. She was old, she was wise, but she didn't make sense.

    His mind kept turning. A weaver, a keeper of stories as old as her should be revered by any man - the shaman who had trained Tuoni had only seen thirty-some Calibrations himself, and was already considered a respected elder. When he had Exalted, and the siida-isids had met in council to decide his fate, he had been questioned by Old Gradessi himself. His entourage of spirits flowed behind him like a dragon's tail, the wind itself stilled to let him be heard, and Tuoni had accepted his judgement without question. But this old woman? She was of similar age, but... she was wrong. She had failed her people.

    With the Realm collapsing and enemies closing in on all sides, it was hard not to imagine the same happening to Linowa.

    Slang's question shakes Tuoni out of his doldrums, and he looks about himself quickly. "All of this... it's all so soft and loose. It would catch on any stray branch or thorn."

  23. - Top - End - #83
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Skymoth:

    "Foreign friends?" Golden Dream asks Skymoth with a genial smile. "That's a first. I hope you haven't taught them any of your excuses about how 'Oh, Auntie Dream, I promise I will have the money next week!'"

    She shakes her head.

    "Or that grin that lets you get away with it."

    Brown Leaf:

    "I might be an Immaculate monk!" Laughing Brook concedes with, well, a laugh.

    She stands and stretches. She doesn't have Brown Leaf's muscle tone, but she's far from average, and Kelam averts her eyes in embarrassment. Brook runs a hand over her cleanly shaven scalp.

    "I certainly have the hair for it. And I don't think they teach Water Dragon Style to just anyone..."

    She lets that statement hang in the air for a moment, with all its implications about where Leaf's own knowledge of the style may have come from, but she doesn't ask the questions she could.

    "But you don't learn the ways of Danaa'd without learning to recognize treacherous waters."

    She stands and begins wading away from Leaf and Kelam, back toward her slave, still talking as she goes.

    "You're fishing for information, Tiger. But I think, especially when you meet someone like this..."

    She steps out of the pool and turns back to Leaf and Kelam, standing with her body on full display.

    "...it's important to leave something to the imagination."

    She gives Leaf another wink before she accepts the towel from her servant and belatedly covers up.

    "So I'll leave you your hidden depths, and you leave me mine, yeah? It's much more interesting that way."

    With a casual parting wave, she turns to leave by the door to the frigidarium.

    "See you two around~!"

    Kelam lets out a breath she hardly realized she was holding.

    "I'm sorry I let you deal with her all on your own, Pearl,"
    she apologizes in an urgent whisper, leaning over her girlfriend to look Leaf in the eye. "I just didn't know what to do without my sword at hand."

    She seeks out Leaf's hand, interlaces her fingers with Leaf's own, and squeezes.

    "I love you..."

    She still looks a bit lost, though, the comfort and confidence she'd grasped during Leaf's massage now drifting out of reach.

    "Should we... try to pick back up where we left off?"


    Spoiler: OOC
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    If you want to timeskip ahead from here, that'd be fine, or Leaf and Kelam could chat for a bit.
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  24. - Top - End - #84
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Sure thing jarabi. But...heh, let's start over, I want that massage t' stick. In fact, now we're alone, c'mere."

    Brown Leaf left the pool and walked to a dry shelf nearer to the entrance. The floor looked recently swept, so she laid out a towel and beckoned for Kelam to lie on it, face down. Once she was situated, Leaf went to work massaging her shoulders, arms and back, though at times she allowed her hands to drift down to Kelam's legs where she worked her thighs, calves and feet. As she pressed fingers into supple skin, kneading the muscle beneath, she talked.

    "I know you kin handle yerself in a fight, sweetie, I ain't worried 'bout you bein' in harm's way there. I would like ya t' be more confident 'bout yerself outside'a a fight though. Yer amazin' with a blade, an that's a great startin' point. Oh! Found a knot! Yea, I get that one too, but mine's in my right shoulder. Anyway, it's a great startin' point 'cause it means y'know how t' be confident some'a the time, it's jes' a matter'a applyin' that t' everythin'. Now, some folks is always actin' confident, but on the inside they's jes a ball'a troubles an' doubts, that's jes' slappin' a handful'a cow-pie on the foundation an' callin' it a day. What folks really need is t' git them some learnin' on where their confidence is, an' then spread it 'round a bit. That's what I wanna do with you, if'n yer ready for that t'day."

    She finished the massage and pressed herself alongside Kelam on the towel, one hand propping her head up, the other idly stroking Kelam from the back of the neck all down her spine. When Leaf caught Kelam looking at her through a dark curtain of hair, her heart skipped a beat. "Damn, but I am the lucky one, ain't I?" she whispered.
    Last edited by Sticks; 2019-05-02 at 11:14 AM.
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  25. - Top - End - #85
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Slang shook their head at Tuoni's statement.

    "We're not gonna encounter much thick brush around here. Clothes just have to be light and keep you cool around here. If nothing appeals to you, maybe you can just go shirtless like our new friend."
    Last edited by Malozing; 2019-05-02 at 02:58 PM.
    "In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks." -John Muir

  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    "Indeed. If you're staying in the city, you want something light enough to let the air through, but solid enough to keep the sun off. You want to wick sweat away from the body, not keep it trapped in. I can't recommend going without a cloak, the weather gods here can be mischievous..."

    Skymoth starts holding up various garments, comparing them to Tuoni's height and build. After a moment he assembles a thin white undergarment, a pale blue hat with a neck-covering veil, and a similarly sky-colored cloak, all loose and flowing enough for the heat. As an afterthought, he plucks a wide black sash to use as a belt. There are some patches here and there, not exactly the kind of outfit you'd wear to a ball, but it blends in well for the area. It even compliments the shaman's mask! Skymoth feels quite proud of himself for working on what he assumes is a shoestring budget and still assembling something that isn't entirely drab. Even if it's technically a women's cloak... well, the former Bride doesn't put too much stock in those distinctions, and he figures his guests probably won't know the difference.

    "Here, this should work. Oh, and sandals. Hey Aaaaauntie~"

    He gives Golden Dream his most coquettish eyelash-bat and his most sing-song voice as he shows her what he's picked, laying it on so thick as to be intentionally comical. Then he laughs. "You love giving me credit, it means you get to see me grovel every week. But fear not, I won't give away my secrets!"

    Spoiler: OOC
    Show
    Appearance+Presence to haggle?
    (9d10)[3][1][5][8][7][1][4][6][10](45)
    Avatar by araveugnitsuga.

  27. - Top - End - #87
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Tuoni looks at this stranger's frantic fluttering back and forth with bemused confusion - ideas and garments and accessories come and go too quickly for him to fully recognize, much less comment on. The final result, though...

    He holds up the cloak, looking around at the crowded market and it's patina of red dust. "All of this... there's nothing 'natural' here, nothing that will make me blend in rather than stand out. I prefer to travel in quiet, and this makes me stand out like a ligth..." as he talks, his eyes wander upwards and he takes notice of the cloudless, pristine sky. "Ah. Objection retracted." Anyone looking up at him would hardly be able to see him at all.

    "The outfit is fine, thank you. The hat is unnecessary though."

  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Skymoth, Slang, Tuoni:

    Golden Dream sighs.

    "You had better not, Skymoth! If there were any more of you I would make no profit at all, you know."

    She accepts what the mismatched trio are able to offer in payment without further haggling, but she keeps up a constant stream of complaints as she does.

    "Would you see my children starve? Is that what you want? Ah! They're all so skinny already, and I know with those muscles you've not been skipping meals. Why, I should..."

    There's no real rancor behind the banter, however. It's always like this, and in truth Dream is fortunate enough to endure the occasional visit from near-destitute Exalts. As long as they don't make too much of a habit of it, at least.

    With Tuoni (re-)clothed, what's next on the agenda?

    Brown Leaf:

    "Leaf..."


    Kelam scoots a little closer to Leaf on the towel, close enough for their thighs to touch, and that simple brush of skin on skin carries an electric frisson of intimacy. Once again, Kelam has to struggle to remember where she is, and she only partly succeeds. She draws Leaf into a kiss, long and lingering, a kiss that expresses her love more eloquently than her words ever could.

    But she freezes again, her body going tense and rigid, as she hears noise coming from outside the comfortable bubble of affection she shares with Leaf. The two older women from the tepidarium enter the spring, and Kelam follows their progress with one open, glaring eye, her mind awhirl as she readies for anything other than what actually happens.

    They simply ignore the amorous couple on the towel, heading on into the water without so much as a sideways glance or snide remark. Kelam's held breath gusts out between her teeth.

    "Okay, love..."


    She presses her forehead against Leaf's, looking into her girlfriend's eyes with open vulnerability.

    "...I think I could use that advice."
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  29. - Top - End - #89
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Brown Leaf smiled, her brief excursion to heavenly heights brought gently back to the waking world by those vulnerable eyes. Still, such clear passion could be very useful in their exercise...as well as other recently-pondered pursuits.

    "Okay, I can tell yer' nervous, so I want you t' do somethin. Les' get in our usual positions fer meditation..." she carefully positioned herself between Kelam and their box of possessions. "...right, not gonna cramp up? Good. Now, I want you t' do this." She raised her left hand, holding it just above the level of her navel, the palm facing outward and the fingers together in a firm curve, the thumb flush with her index. Her right hand gently rested on her right leg, just below the knee as she sat in the lotus position, her fingers loosely extended downwards, the tips making contact with the stone floor. When Kelam mimicked the gesture, she nodded. "Good, that's yer mudras fer protection, an' fer welcomin'. Them two are important fer us, 'cause I need you t' be receptive an' open minded, but also unafraid. That's what we're aimin' for."

    She took a moment to admire the effect on Kelam, and though she knew her partner did not yet feel the power of these gestures, she would, given time and practice. She was no monk, but she had discipline, she could hold the balance of energy in her body, split a second into an infinity with her movements. She was graceful and deadly and there was little that walked, swum or flew that could truly challenge her, but she was so afraid. What Leaf wanted was to make her understand that if you are one with the universe, you have nothing to fear, that if you are brave in one moment that you are brave in every moment, and nothing holds power over you for you are the source of all power. The philosophy itself could wait until she was interested, or never, but the understanding was needed.

    "Okay, I'm not gonna make you practice full meditation, I know you kin do that. What I need you t' do is is take that passion, what you was jes' doin' with me a moment ago, an' concentrate how you felt righ' here at that moment." She reached out and touched Kelam's abdomen right above the navel with her right hand, felt the soft skin shrink back slightly, then relax. She pulled her hand back into the Varada mudra, and did the same. Instantly, she felt hot, her skin prickled. She wanted to reach out and touch Kelam again, plant kisses on her lips, her neck...but she drew it inward, it was a part of her, and she was her own master. "Once you got it, bring it in. Don't say nothin', I know you kin do it."

    She watched as her girlfriend colored, saw the fingers twitch, knew what she was feeling. It was time to be brutal. "Hold that feelin' keep it in you, I know it ain't easy. Hold it in there where I showed you, good. Now, think back to our fight, back on the Island. Think'a the rush, the essence." She knew this was a hard one. If Kelam had her eyes open, Leaf knew they would dart to the nearly invisible scars on Leaf's fingers. "There ain't no shame, nothing but the roar of blood in yer limbs, yer eyes are lookin' fer the next attack, the next openin'. Find that feelin' an' hold it in there with the other one."

    As Leaf whispered instructions, she saw Kelam's sword-hand, still holding its mudra, twitch. She had it, she was back in that sun-soaked arena, and Leaf was with her. They were clashing, claw against scabbard, alone this time aside from each other. She felt her muscles burn with the sweet fire of exertion, felt the sand and gravel fly, stinging her legs and arms as they bounced against her skin. This time though, her opponent was not the cold warrior of the underworld, she was aflame, burning with life. Leaf saw an opening and struck, not knowing if she meant to slash or to stroke. As her opponent parried with searing intensity, she pushed in, using her leverage to force the taller woman back, but to her surprise she met the charge and matched it, holding back Leaf's out-thrust hands. Leaf growled and pushed, leaning in further, her chest drawing level with her occupied hands, and the other woman was doing the same, they were face-to-face, straining with exertion, an inch apart. They met, a kiss so full of passion, fury, lust, anger, adoration and love that Leaf, for all her training, was almost overwhelmed. As her stomach churned from sheer adrenaline, she drew back, compressing the arena of her mind back into her solar plexus. She saw Kelam's mudras begin to falter, knew that the experience had been shared, and knew now was the moment.

    "Here!" She darted her left hand forward as Kelam was most open, feeling the mixed sensations as Leaf did. Her fingers were still in the mudra struck Kelam in the spot where Leaf had instructed her to gather her energy, and at the same moment Leaf unblocked her own Essence flow. Instantly, the heat that had been gathering there spread up and out through her body. She hoped that this worked for Kelam as it had for her. She was soaked with sweat again, her chest heaved as she regained control of herself. If she had done everything right, Kelam should be experiencing something similar. She certainly had a bright red triangle on her midriff where Leaf's palm had struck her, the shock releasing the fire essence to permeate her body.

    Leaf spoke between deep breaths. "That...that's the sensation. You find that...learn t' find it on yer own...an you don't never have't be scared no more, my love."

    She glanced around, the older women had left. The two of them had been meditating for hours.
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  30. - Top - End - #90
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: The Lotus Blossoms! - Volume II

    Kelam goes wide-eyed, her cheeks flushed almost as bright as the mark on her midriff. Her breaths come quicker and shallower than Leaf's; she's no novice when it comes to meditation, but she wasn't prepared for the heat, the passion of this experience. At Leaf's words she feels, faintly, the impulse to deny, to disbelieve, but her doubts waver, rendered ephemeral by a haze of emotion.

    The words "It won't last" punch through the fog, and for a moment her arms prickle with goosebumps, but she fixes her eyes on her girlfriend and the warmth comes back to her.

    It won't last, that much is true, but Leaf is here to help her find it, to help her learn to grasp it, make it her own. It may be a fight to get there, but fighting is something she knows and understands.

    "Thank you... love..."
    she pants, "I've never... felt like that before..."

    She reaches out and affectionately cups Leaf's cheek in the palm of her hand. She leans forward, bridging the gap between them, and steadies herself enough to take a deeper breath.

    "Now... what was that you were saying earlier about finding somewhere more private?"
    she whispers in Leaf's ear.

    ~ ~ ~


    When Kelam and Leaf enter the baths again scant hours after they left, after having spent hours inside on their first visit, and with a flushed glow of happiness on Kelam's face, the attendant at the desk can't help but raise an eyebrow.

    Kelam looks him straight in the eye and says, as serious as the grave, "We're bath enthusiasts."

    When the couple make it through to the mixed bathing area of the main springs, they're met with an unusual panorama. To the left side of the pools, a male Islander bathes, surrounded by a mixed entourage of Harborheadites. He has his arm around the shoulders of the woman at his left, and he openly leers at his other companions. A local family soak at the far side, occasionally shooting disapproving glares toward the Dynast's hangers-on. And to the right...

    ...to the right, Slang's head is barely visible above the water, half-hidden behind the muscled form of an objectively beautiful Harborheadite man. To the other side of the mortified Tya, while Tuoni's mask is still firmly in place, an alarming amount of the shaman's flesh is on display. Winter may not have scarred him so deeply where skins and furs protected him, but he has lived a hard life overall, and the perfection of the stranger's body so nearby amplifies the distinction.

    "...who is that with them?"
    Kelam whispers to Leaf.

    Meanwhile, a sensation not quite speech whispers at the edge of Tuoni's consciousness. A faint tremor runs through the worn wood of his mask. A spirit seeks a voice.
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