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865044 No. 865044 ID: d36af7

You all meet, at midnight, in the middle of a flying castle that's about to explode.

Which of you owns this place, or is it held jointly between two or more?
What sort of landscape is below it?
Who's trying to summon a demon, which one, and for what larger purpose?
Who's trying to interrupt that ritual?
Who's trying to patch the damage to prevent an explosion?
Who (or what) inflicted that damage in the first place?
Which of you snuck in to rob the vault while everybody else is distracted, and what were you surprised to find there?
Which mighty artifacts, if any, do the lot of you collectively have on hand?

Who are you people?
https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4587981
478 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 912012 ID: 2d86b4

Here's my character sheet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1muwZ_UcbVbCvRfyO4EgNJ8tNkpSCSp7MyTiEIXMHlyY/edit?usp=sharing

References Sheet:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/17IR1GVwCmT3yze1xQe9yaZZmSz5xy2Ulka9BzvackYQ/edit?usp=sharing

Should be pretty decent.
>>
No. 912035 ID: 2007b6

>>911746
>She was pushing through 10 hours of marching at whatever tempo that the shamblers could keep up without dropping the prisoners, but the standard military tempo is ~3.5 miles an hour for prolonged marches like this.
You've got five human prisoners, and seven intact horses. One of the Daughters is interrogating the horses separately; they seem to know some things their riders didn't. Sundown of the first day after leaving the fort, a glorious azure chariot comes careening down out of the sky. From the rapidly dissolving wreckage tumble three barrels and the charioteer, who resembles a crude imitation of a human toddler sculpted out of mostly twigs, mushrooms, tar, and a chihuahua skull.

First barrel, the heaviest and noisiest, contains axes, various other hand tools that might plausibly serve as weapons, and cast-iron cookwear, all of good solid construction originally but ill-maintained and encrusted with dirt, along with... leather goods? That bundle may have originally included waterskins and/or backpacks, but all of it long since decayed to the point of being structurally unsound, and the whole mess smells absolutely terrible.

Second barrel contains a tightly packed bundle of thin yet sturdy white cloth, red cords anchoring it to complex feathersteel struts, which unfolds into a large tent and associated camp furniture (similar to the stuff in the background here: https://mangabat.com/chapter-serie/1088887170/chap_63.2 ) The whole set is eleven thousand years old. It was originally commissioned by Ahlat during his departure from the North, offered by him as a celebratory gift to Oa-Tē (inventor of the Ghost-Eating Technique) one year and nine days after that charm's first successful use against the White Ram, enchanted to be self-repairing during The War, eventually left in a museum in Meru as a historical curiosity, lost when the Mask broke, presumably spent the Shogunate in some private collection. Bagrash Köl lived in it for the decade before he had an empire; after the Eye of Autocthon turned against him, the bundle ended up as flotsam on the White Sea, in a barrel the same size but much fancier, which was plucked out of the River of Tears in a fisherman's net, joined a scavenger lord's caravan on the way to Nexus, and was intercepted by brigands. Then, while the brigands were fleeing a losing battle with the Seventh Legion, Mother Bog ate them and took their worldly goods for her own. Humans need things like map tables and tents to shelter sprouting battle-thoughts, yes? Mother bog has seen or heard of many, many battles over the eons, and whichever side had at least one of the same sort of being as Light Of The Moon Cleansing The World - apparently they're called "anathema" these days - in a tall enough plan-growing tent, would pretty much always win.

Third barrel has wheels of wax-coated hard cheese at both ends. Between is a jumble of trail-ration-grade bread, random assorted fruits and vegetables (damaged in the crash but otherwise fresh), loose raw cotton fiber (seeds and all, meant as padding or tinder), and a dozen very fancy boots with earthenware jars of salt tucked inside. Eleven of the jars are intact, one shattered. With salt to preserve the remaining horseflesh, plus bread, cheese, and greens for the Haltan expatriates (they'd rather starve than take a single bite of any of the available meat, and one actually vomited when he saw Light wolfing some of it down during the initial butchery, but for whatever reason all four of them eagerly regard carrots and other root vegetables almost like some rare, exotic delicacy) you won't need to slow down to forage for at least a week or two. The horses can probably survive at least that long just by grazing, so long as they don't need to run or carry any significant weight.

Those fancy boots, Mother Bog took from Seventh Legion patrol chasing the same brigands who brought her the tent. Once attuned, they'll let you and five Daughters, or four and the black knight (but not the Haltans, they lack control of essence) march ten mph, a hundred miles a day, as easy as breathing. Self-adjusting, incredibly comfortable, but wholly unsuitable for a shambler's tireless tree-trunk legs, and somewhat too large for a creeper. Speaking of which, the new arrival knows two other spells besides Conjuring the Azure Chariot: Sorcerer's Irresistible Puppetry which (once you scrounge up some minimal ritual supplies, mostly incense and paper) can be used to permanently secure the 'loyalty' of almost anyone you can 'persuade' to hold still for an hour, and Unstoppable Fountain of the Depths which can be used for demolition, fire suppression, short-term area denial (a line about twenty yards long for ten minutes, plus subsequent flooding), or simply as a source of clean water.
>>
No. 912044 ID: bb5006

rolled 8, 5, 4, 5, 7, 4, 8, 1, 9, 8, 6, 6, 8, 2, 7, 1, 6, 5, 6, 5, 5, 6, 10, 7, 4, 10, 1, 8, 5, 7 = 174

The first thing that Light felt, as she saw the chariot was hope that this wasn't one containing a more direct mission, since she already had found one for herself, and she hardly needed another one to distract her. Following the immediate sigh of relief when it was supplies for the less hardy in her train and a chance to live it up pretending to be human in a more personally friendly way, she went over the contents.

The first thing that really caught her eye was the cooking pots, she'd need to clean them up a bit, but otherwise, this was remarkably similar to what she had been using in Lookshy, followed by the boots, which she had never gotten to wear, but they unmistakably reminded her of home. The last things she noticed were the weapons, since she guessed that a creeper would be able to use those in a fight, but she was only able to use specialty weapons following the Tent, which she couldn't even begin to guess the historical context of, but was an extremely nice tent nonetheless, triply so for someone who tends to sleep naked in trees and abandoned animal warrens.

Regardless, the first thing she did after putting on the boots for that nice comforting feeling of home, she asked first how much weight that the Chariot could carry, when that didn't matter since there were 17 people not including the Haltans here and that it could only hold 4, she had to ask the Shamblers how fast they could keep up carrying the humans, or how fast they could keep up if 1 of the daughters and enough of them to escort the minor haltans back to mother bog on foot while the rest helped carry the cargo.
>>

rolled 7, 5, 3, 10, 8, 5, 8, 6, 8, 1, 2, 1, 8, 4, 6, 1, 10, 3, 5, 2 = 103

All right, a new day in the nameless village. The traitor daystar is shining, and Lute Silhouette has things to do.

She's got two days before her ride leaves (unless she finds a reason to part ways and interrupt her voyage and training in sail).

For local concerns, does the situation with Edgar and the surgeon require further attention to ensure they live up to their potential? Does Lute's attempt to seed a cult for the Sandpoint Devil seem to be working, or does it require further reinforcement?

If she's looking into whatever happened here, a good lead seems like going to question that death knight Bridges the Sun and Moon entombed while she remains helpless. What are my options for traveling out there? Walking seems like it might be tight on the departure deadline, and along hike wthou dots in survival may be a bad idea. I'm not sure if the chancel can be used to shorten the distance meaningfully, and Bridget isn't back to play mountain leaping ferry (and her presence at an interrogation might complicate matters besides).

Rolling for information gathering and such, so probably investigation, possibly supplemented by EST as needed (conservatively, not willing to blow my whole personal pool playing 20 questions right now).
>>
No. 912123 ID: 9646f1

rolled 7, 6, 1, 8, 7, 5, 10, 1, 4, 7, 8, 4, 10, 1, 6, 1, 7, 6, 1, 3, 10, 9, 8, 9, 2, 6, 8, 7, 2, 8 = 172

>>911705
Lost in the swamp. Mortals are wet, which isn't good for them usually. Dangerous fauna and swamp ground mean there's no safe place to stop here, but if they stay cold and wet they risk hypothermia, maybe disease. Increased elevation should help with navigation, might be enough of an edge to get them back to the village in one leap or, failing that, somewhere safer to stay the night.

"Apologies for your discomfort" Bridget states to her wards, "My error has misplaced us. If any are skilled navigators, speak now. Regardless, I search for safety. Please remain in your sling for now."

By the time her speech is finished, Bridget has reached the top of this "outcropping", which turns out to be little more than a stray boulder, seemingly at least somewhat for this inconvient wet divit. Firm enough at least to gain purchase and look above the trees.

Mechanically, activating Monkey Leap (the scene long one) for 4 motes, Bridget crests the treetops and tries to get her bearings to find the village or somewhere less soggy and dangerous to make camp.
>>
No. 912170 ID: 0640da

rolled 6, 9, 8, 4, 5, 5, 8, 6, 6, 7, 2, 8, 4, 10, 10, 4, 8, 5, 6, 4, 5, 4, 4, 8, 3, 10, 9, 6, 7, 8 = 189

The silence was starting to get to Morse. No, well, it had gotten to her-- past tense. She could swear that she was hearing voices again... whispers in a low tone. They sounded familiar-- was someone out there, coming for her? A ghost of the Princess, or perhaps a gullible mortal child?

"Hello?" The abyssal called out, and the whispers became altogether silent. Her brows furrowed, and her lips sealed shut again. Nobody was out there-- and if they were, they weren't talking to her. She remained wrapped in her prison of iron, before the subtle whispers of a faraway place made hushed sounds once again...

"Hello?" The abyssal called out again, half-wondering if she was going mad-- and the whispers became silent once more. "I can hear you, you know..." Morse whimpers softly. There's a long pause. "Are you just going to watch? I want out..."

There's something of a groan in the next whisper. She heard that for sure. "Hello? Anybody? Respond to me, please! I just want to hear a voice... any voice!" This box was stuffy. It felt like it was closing in on her, like she was suffocating. "Please! Talk to me!"

And with that yell, Morse's voice quiets down, and her body becomes less stiff... she feels comfortable now, a rare thing to experience when you are in the most confining cage you have been in for your entire life. She feels relaxed and at ease... because this time, when she asks for someone to talk to... something talks back.

((I'd like to purchase a point of Whispers (3XP?) and pray to the Neverborn for guidance to a location where they would most like Morse to be right now. Not a full 'break open this cage', but Morse wants someone to talk to. I say we give it to her. The roll should cover the relevant prayer... and I'll channel Conviction, if possible. Morse wants to reinforce her beliefs subconsciously.))
>>
No. 912233 ID: 2d86b4

Leaving his house Arberus was stunned by what he saw around him. The hell happened here? This wasn't his doing, he was rather sure of that. The idea was upsetting, like showing up to a game after everyone was finished playing.

On the other hand, this might be salvageable. Although his neighbors might be dead (Who cares? He's seen people die a thousand times in his dreams. He'll see thousands more die. Maybe. Thinking about it too much ruins the fun.)

'No, no, nooo. I don't know what happened here but I am not taking the blame for this. I wanted, for... ugh!'

Like breathing, like blinking, Arberus becomes the Scented Skinless Serpent. His withering skin and new bright colors didn't frighten him, but it did confuse him. 'I'm... not really sure what my limits are. How wonderful. And I'm glowing. I could read a book any time I want. How amazing. Now, what was I doing?'

Arberus makes his way around time, ignoring most people or giving them a quick wave as he tries to find someone who might be worth fighting. A monk, or a spirit of some kind. He's lived here his whole life, he should recognize someone. Hopefully the glowing and alien-form will help attract the attention of a decent adversary.

He really, really, wanted to tackle someone.

(Spending another 10 motes and 1 wp for Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai. Glowing bright enough for people to read. Spent 13 wp total. If these posts count as +2 stunts then I've spent a total of 9.)
>>
No. 912461 ID: 2007b6

During the middle of the day, the sky turns black. Not clouds, nor an eclipse, just the sun deciding to shine everywhere else but here.

South of town, just beyond where the airships landed, an arc twists and chars, a curved line drawn by some cosmic surveyor's compass across the actual ground instead of a mere map. Blind doves erupt and fly from the border, shrieking like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Silvery sand begins to trickle down, quiet like snow. It accumulates on every exposed surface to a depth of approximately half an inch, over the course of - depending on how you measure it - slightly more than one minute, or 7/8ths of an eternity, or exactly five days.

>>912170
Training time for Restless as the Dead, Corpse Needs No Food, and one dot of Whispers is complete. A woman wearing nothing but feathersteel boots and a necklace of barbed silver chain (with no clasp, how did she get it on? There aren't even any signs of the individual links being welded shut) rips the cage apart with her bare hands. The Neverborn want you to lead her west, uphill, to the mine, and give you words to say which will make that happen. Most of the speech is very nearly true.

>>912044
Training time for Claws of the Silver Moon is complete. You've tracked the stolen granary contents to an abandoned copper mine out in the hills to the west; a solid majority of the bandits who were escorting the wagons are now dead or dying, from an astonishing variety of causes. Infighting, wild animals, self-inflicted sword up the nose (all the way to the hilt), unnaturally accelerated leprosy, frostbite (it hasn't been that cold, even at night), poison gas...

Inside the entrance to the mine, something vaguely humanoid, with violet eyes as big as mangos and floppy skin like too-large clothing, says in Old Realm "This is not what we agreed to transport. This is not what we agreed to be paid. Where is the remainder?"

>>911879
A young man clad in spike-studded ivory armor emerges from the basement of a collapsed poultry-butcher's shop. When he announces that he's a terrible demon come to kill them all, the crowd scarcely notices. A passing bricklayer casually suggests he visit the Immaculate missionaries to "get that sorted out," as if homicidal mania were an embarrassing type of rash for which monks dispense the proper salve. Some small child asks whether he's the one who did all that funny stuff to the sky, which is currently flat black around the horizon, with a gradually increasing number of lurid, sickly-green sparkles directly overhead.
>>912233
At the mission's rented storefront, the abbot - an elderly man with a jade-tipped spear, clad in the undyed linen robes of a third-coil monk - has much the same question. Seems to be mostly rhetorical, though, since he moves right along into gestures thanking the earth, sky, and sea, as part of assuming Five-Dragon Form. He, and five second-coil disciples, form a loose ring around the armored... being... that they cannot firmly identify as anything but Anathema.

Deep, vegetal instinct tells the newly-minted Green Sun Prince that they all expect him to make some deeply tempting offer before the fight begins in earnest. The one with the red belt and the axe imagines you offering to spare whichever two of them betray the other four; the one with the pale blue bandolier of knives imagines a prestigious position as your herald and lieutenant; the one with the white belt and the sledgehammer imagines a promise of endless luxury, particularly chocolate-covered strawberries; the nun with the green belt imagines being offered one of the others as a personal slave (and seems to take it as a given the red-belted one would volunteer); black belt and seven-section staff imagines being kept in a gilded cage like one of the Guild's comm-sorcerers, spoon-fed terrible occult knowledge; the abbot expects you to whip out a tub of ambrosial icecream laced with some alchemical formula that'll cure the ache in his left knee. All six intend to righteously refuse such temptations, but there's some twinge of doubt whether they actually could. Certainly, none of them expect more than one or two of the others to accept, or for any of the faithful to tolerate blatant apostasy and treason, so violence is clearly imminent.

>>909917
Embri makes it back to town with about half the stolen grain, three live yeddim - a male and two females - and 50 reasonably intact troops behind her. Right in the middle of the market square, some weirdo in heavy armor is trying to argue philosophy with the Immaculate missionaries - unless you spend 3 wp to realize he's actually starting a very physical fight. Vines (or vine-shaped things, the color and texture of which more resembles bare bloodless muscle and sinew) are growing fast enough to tear up cobblestones, but nobody seems to pay much attention to that, either.

On a related note, anyone on the scene with dodge MDV 3 or less (quite a few of the nonheroic bystanders, but no monks or exalts) is struck by Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai's servitude effect. If Arberus announces that he needs something, there may well be a riot as all those people rush to provide it.
>>
No. 912467 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 7, 10, 4, 2, 5, 2, 8, 9, 5, 9, 9, 4, 5, 8, 9, 7, 2, 6, 5, 3, 2, 6, 2, 9, 4, 8, 9, 7, 7 = 178

Morse feels... liberated, but uncomfortable as she stands next to the woman who freed her from her prison. The neverborn were right, but what could it mean? What compelled them to ask her to say those words... Morse shakes her head. It's the first time she's been asked by crazy gods in her head to ask a stranger 'Do you love me?', and she hopes and prays this will be her last. She feels uncomfortable, knowing that her savior will be an unfortunate casualty of her curse... and that's just what the Neverborn desire. She thinks back to how it all went down...

---

THERE WILL BE AN ABOMINATION. THESE ARE THE WORDS YOU MUST SAY TO TEMPT HER HEART TO SERVE YOU.

Morse isn't quite sure this is exactly what they said-- she can't be sure of anything. She could have been in there months, weeks. She did not sleep, or drink, or eat-- everything was vague. Even after the... abomination arrived, she could not tell the voice of it apart from the voice of madness. Still, her parched lips parted...

"Do you... love me?" She mumbled, her voice hoarse. Something must have possessed the abomination-- in moments, it seemed like, she was tearing the cage open with her terrible claws. She was exactly as the Neverborn described and more-- she hadn't expected them to be so... so... real...

Vulnerable, and still bound, Morse's face was visible for Light to see. And it was both relieved, and scared... scared of what?

"...I don't know you, but... I think you were sent to help me. Please. Set me free, savior of mine."

---

Well, now Morse was doing the good duties the Neverborn asked her to-- taking this woman to the mines, as they asked, and dealing with the Violet-Eyed Fellow. Morse speaks in Old Realm herself, being a learned woman fluent in multiple languages. "Your delivery was waylaid by a solar-- its goods stolen by a common thief. My emissaries sent me to protect it, but their power was too great and I was far too late-- it is clear that your precautions, flimsy as they are, were inadequate." Morse gives a bow of politeness. "I seek to receive compensation for that mistake... would you deny the courtesy of an emissary of my dark lords? If it be willing, I can always tell the Bishop that our aid has been refused and any hope of an alliance is lost... I'm sure he would be more than willing to let me advance to the backup plan, if it must be so. Let me just say... I love the backup plan." Morse's smile widens, her mask retrieved and her expression as inscrutable as ever.

This is Manipulation, yes?
>>
No. 912470 ID: bb5006

rolled 6, 8, 3, 4, 5, 9, 1, 5, 1, 7, 2, 5, 6, 1, 6, 3, 4, 1, 6, 9, 8, 8, 1, 4, 7, 7, 1, 1, 7, 8 = 144

"Do you love me?"

Light wasn't entirely sure what she was feeling as her essence enhanced claws ripped through the Tomb that she felt like she ignored for too long, like there was a huge build up, and this was the payoff to something she wasn't aware of as she was asked that simple question, but something about either the question itself, or the person asking, but it felt like it cut deeper than anything she'd had been asked before, and like there wasn't any defense she could have had against it. So, she did the only logical thing she could possibly have done, and pulled Morse out of the tomb into as tight a hug as she could muster.

"Of course I love you, I never stopped loving you. I just didn't know where you were all this time." Her words definitely sounded true, but they didn't feel like they were coming from herself.

--------

Light wasn't particularly well schooled, a fact she was well aware of. The fact that she recognized Old Realm at all was only because everyone knew that wizards talked in that tongue all the time, since it was magically significant or something. But fortunately, the violet eyed person wasn't JUST talking in Old Realm as she monitored everything from his posture to what she imagined his tone of voice was sounding like to see if he had any particular aggression towards them and if she needed to initiate preemptive violence.
>>
No. 912472 ID: 0640da

= Hours Ago =
"...you do?" Morse squirms uncomfortably in the tight hug... she doesn't feel any resonance building. This is unusual-- usually, the Neverborn notice when she's even thinking about other people and give her a hit of their fury... the touch of another body is not something she's felt since, since...

Morse pushes Light away and escapes her embrace, falling down on the dirt floor behind her. She scrambles to her feet, and scrutinizes the abomination. "If you've been looking for me, then why didn't you rescue me? Those years I was trapped in that vile Lord's carnal cage... did you just put it off? Leave me there to suffer?"

It's difficult to tell, but... it looks like Morse is angry. Ruh roh. "Don't lie to me. I'll know if you are lying..." 3 motes to channel Scathing Cynic's Attitude, which more or less overdubs her words with those of the Neverborn if she does lie to Morse.
>>
No. 912474 ID: bb5006

"I don't know, alright. I wasn't looking for your tomb, I just stumbled onto you by accident and I wanted to help you because I know what it's like to be left for dead in a coffin like that. But the second I saw you I felt something. Something that, deep down, a piece of me has missed for longer than I can imagine, which I guess helps support to my guess that Anathema reincarnate like a virtuous enough person."

She sank to the floor herself, the obvious rejection cutting deep, even if she was going to try and fix this as soon as she could. "So I don't know what you mean by 'Carnal cage' but I'm sorry I couldn't have been there to save you any sooner."

For what it was worth, not a single thing she said rang as insincere or even a half lie.
>>

rolled 4, 4, 8, 3, 5, 2, 4, 8, 5, 10, 10, 8, 2, 10, 3, 5, 3, 3, 1, 7 = 105

>>912461
Wha- Liger? Daystay, I know I was just calling you a traitor but that wasn't an invitation to run away! *Grumble* very first mission to creation and somehow back in Malfeas before even getting the chance to get homesick.

>Given that Lute and Bridget have exotic mobility options, and time and space just got glitched out pretty badly, I'd be willing to say they can be anywhere in the area when it arrives in Hell, and get a week's worth of training or other downtime activity done on the way.
I'll spend the 1 week training jump and 2 xp on my second dot in sail. If possible, I'll also use the downtime to have Lute duck back into her workshop in the chancel, and craft glass ammunition (shuriken, knives, arrows) to have stored elsewhere for future use. Rolling for that, plus using the appropriate arm for crafting successes.

Post having Lute pop out into the action pending, probably going to be aiming for Light and Morse.

>>912047
The transportation question is less relevant now, but I am still interested in if Edgar took Bonesaw on as a student or assistant, and if the cult seeding attempt is working or not, since that informs if I'll be following up on those.
>>
No. 912476 ID: 2007b6

>>912467
>I can always tell the Bishop that our aid has been refused and any hope of an alliance is lost...
"Before we determine who must pay the blood price for this breach-of-pact between us, I ask to clarify: your master, the apheliotrope Ebon Rime, wielder of the bow Expiring Vigilance and high priest of the Syrinx Prophet Executioner, has successfully claimed theological authority across some broad region of the burning lands? Far-off temples submit their doctrinal disputes to his arbitration?"
>>
No. 912477 ID: 0640da

She's telling the truth-- well, sort of. That beginning bit sounded like a lie-- she didn't need the Neverborn to tell her that she opened the coffin because Morse spoke the words she was told in a dream. Clearly, she's unwilling to admit something, but... it won't cause harm to her. More important, now, is to digest this information and make it something useful again.

Morse thinks about this for a bit, looking her over... "Raksha? No. Tail and human form, but not so inhuman as to 'boggle the mind'... that would make you a Lunar Exalt. Chosen of Luna, prone to change and corruption of their form... the closest of the creation-born to rejecting itself as the true children of the Primordials have chosen to do." Morse pauses, pawing for her mask before clutching and adjusting it to fit. "Perhaps the best and the worst of the celestial family. You supported the Solar's corrupt agenda when they were fat and lazy off their ill-gotten goods... and vanished without punishment as you betrayed them without second thought. Karma must have stepped in where the laws of deities and man could not... you smell of the Wyld, and look the part of a Raksha's pet creature too. Undoubtedly, your current source of power must stem from something outside creation... which would be more upsetting if all the whole of uncreation was not soon to be for naught in oblivion. I figured the rumors of the Lunar's return would be true, I just didn't expect to meet one-- ah."

Morse breathes deep, as if she's pieced together a puzzle. "So that's where you come in. You would be... the other half of a two part set, a joyous union split in twain by the vagaries of man and their wretched schemes. Please, do speak up where my assumptions strike ill-- the path to knowing, to knowledge is to have both stupid sides of a story and then to laugh at their discrepancies. Are we designed to come together, as rust and iron or wood and rot?"

You know, this rather SOUNDS like her Solar Mate. But this is definitely not a Solar. A solar would not look this distressingly corpse-like-- even Morse's eyes are faded. Also, she sounds more like she's picking a fight with Light than questioning her...
>>
No. 912486 ID: bb5006

"I have no idea what you're talking about with any of this Exalt stuff, but I know I'm not a prince of the earth, I'm an Anathema and a former barwench and soldier of Lookshy." As she talked, her spirit stoked by the spirit of this adversity, she rose back up from the ground, and put Morse into a tighter more restrictive hug.

"You're maybe the second other person like myself that I've ever met, and if we're supposed to go together as a pair like I guessed and you said, you'll need a lot more than some disparaging words to try and keep me from loving you."
>>
No. 912487 ID: bb5006

rolled 2, 3, 1, 9, 3, 10, 8, 8, 4 = 48

>>
No. 912488 ID: 2d86b4

>>912461

Arberus thanks the bricklayer and admits to the child that he’s just as confused about the whole thing as the kid is. He admits that it’s possible the Heaven’s are shaking in fear for the violence he was going to inflict upon this town, but he honestly doubts it.

“Oh, by the way. The people I plan on killing should have some nice things on them. You might want to loot there still bleeding corpses when I’m still around. After I leave I imagine it’s going to be a lot harder to take what you want.”

The fact that he was telling this to a child didn’t bother him in the slightest. The fact that he was telling a kid to loot a dead monks body did amuse him greatly.

“Also, there may be some collateral damage. So you might want to head home until the screaming stops.”

---

The one thing that did surprise him was just how normal and expected this all seemed to him. Of course this was going to lead to violence. He knew that, wanted that, when he left his house. He still did. But he was after a mindless type of violence. A comedic form of gore and splatter.

There had to be a way to make that possible. He would make that possible.

There was a more pressing matter at hand, however. An odd thought that buzzed in his mind with ear-ringing irrelevance. And so Arberus spoke and asked his question honestly.

His words were tinged with magic. A curious type of rebellious subtext. ‘Why?’ and ‘Why not?’ bled into them, demanding that those who heard them question for themselves. The intent was simple: To inspire desire for that which was denied to them. Not because Arberus cared, or wanted to control them, but because… it was fun.

“Old man, why does your knee ache? Right now, I was going to kill you. And these people who surround me so. I was going to let these streets run red with blood and use those around me as a shield against your aggression. But then I looked at you. And your knee aches.”

Arberus pauses, looking over each of the six men. Did he know them? Maybe. He never left the house much. He doubted he could kill all of them, even if he used the peasants as a distraction. Maybe one, before he was forced to flee? At the moment none of that really mattered to him. His mind was focused on more important things.

“So what’s up with that? Can I help with that, or shall we get to why I’m here? This town painted red, or my help fixing that knee of yours?” He tilts his head, a blank expression on his face. He sucks air through his teeth. “Well. I. We’re all here. I’m here. And I’m here. So what are we going to do while I’m still here? It’s time to use me, don’t you think? I want to use me. So let’s make up our minds. Let me know how your knee is doing? Or should things die? Maybe I’ll die, for certain others will. Or your knee? Why put up with that damn thing, anyways? Is it worth it, to die, when this can go so many other ways? I’m not judging, I just want to be Me.”

----

Using Stoke the Flames to inspire thoughts of rebellion. Something to make dealing with an Anathema not seem so bad. Trying to see if this old guy has a better idea for where I can express my violence. I imagine there should be someone who I can kill to help this old dudes knee.
>>
No. 912491 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 4, 6, 3, 4, 6, 3, 7, 6, 4, 3, 9, 9, 7, 2, 7, 10, 8, 3, 5, 10, 10, 4, 9, 7, 7, 2, 7, 3, 3 = 170

>>912476
"Naturally, although I say this with reservation as I think you have misunderstood as to the nature of my statement. All temples, in part, end their disputes in the place where all ends, and where the jurisdiction of one begins it connects through cycles to others. My master, my Bishop, would not be pleased for your confusion of him for another, but would merely like a lowly apostle as I to aid in the resolution of disputes which chiefly concern him-- that is to say, those which involve powerful artifacts that belong to and are created by one party, but through trickery and elaborate ruses find their way into the hands of another. There is a life that flows through magic, good sir, and that life can create or... extinguish just as easily." Morse snaps her fingers-- an illusory blue flame flickers to life, before she ceases its existence and extinguishes it. "Now, you ask me as to what concern my master has for this petty dispute among smaller sects and covens and cults, I would say to you that you owe us one for the possession of this artifact and are now going to resolve this with our help, and as allies, or find yourself crushed beneath the weight of the tomes of greater gods than you or I. As a woman who defines herself as not being prone to violence but yet finds herself in the position of oppressor quite frequently, I would much rather prefer we resolve this together than work at ends. We can resolve this simply, and with little bloodshed. But we--" Morse gestures at her entourage. "--need a full account as to what your original, poorly constructed plan was-- and more importantly, to where yours and mine goods have both gone."

Morse is earnest in teasing the information out of his lips, but her words are riddled with more confusion and deceit than a high-school yearbook. She is, in very uncertain terms, offering to help complete the deal in exchange for an artifact that, apparently, he was supposed to have possession of. I'm actually not totally sure what a lying roll is, even though there are many half-truths. Have a pile of dice?
>>
No. 912493 ID: 0640da

>>912486

Morse doesn't open her lips to mention her past life. It isn't hers anymore-- it is the life of someone who has died. She won't talk about her days as a barmaid, singing songs to customers and plating food on tables-- because those weren't her days. That wasn't her life. But hearing it from the lips of another... it makes it hard to resist the lull of temptation. The desire to ask more about her... to learn about her. And then she does it again... the hug. The tight squeeze.

"...then you will die as a result of your infatuation. All things betray, and love and life are no exception-- they blacken and blister as anything else. Doubly so when the object of your affections is cursed, born under the wrong star as you were born under a wrong sky. There's no other excuse as to why you would be matched to this one, as lowly as I am and terrible as my deeds are and will become. I recommend you discard th-this childish notion." Oh, god. Morse bit her tongue.

"...now, unhand me. For your own safety. You are my savior, as holy and wretched as you are, and I have a task I am indebted to perform for you. Your perishment would sadden me greatly, for no other reason but that I would like to repay the favor in the way my lords tell me how." Morse tries to struggle out, but her strength is insignificant. Her shamisen still sits, not far away... "To be clear, I desire you to let me go not out of love, but shallow, cruel, unkind respect. Please. Let mine arms be as free as they ought to be after my length of imprisonment, and do not extend it further..."
>>
No. 912499 ID: 2007b6

>>912491
>an illusory blue flame flickers
>rolled 2, 4, 6, 3, 4, 6, 3, 7, 6, 4, 3
The brief flame reveals a pale, noseless face, a hand curled below the shapeless wrinkly chin with one finger extended up to the tiny lipless mouth. After an awkward pause the finger twists bonelessly to point forward, accusing.

"You are lying to me. You know almost nothing about this fellow Ebon Rime, not even the proper name of his weapon."

Another pause.

"This is good!"

A grisly approximation of a smile.

"It likely means neither of you will need to be paying with your own blood, at least not for this particular breach, and, since I have thus been deceived, it is permissible - by the exact letter of the nondisclosure clause - for you to discover certain facts through my actions, or lack of actions. Not for free, of course, now that I have seen through you. Jade would be an acceptable bribe - particularly red jade - or a few thick logs of cedar or teak or black ash or any other rot-resistant wood, or perhaps a large quantity of water-or-meat of sufficient purity."
>>
No. 912509 ID: bb5006

Light still wasn't able to understand the Old Man, but she recognized that he moved into the opposite direction of violence in his voice, but she also suspected she was going to have to carry something fairly heavy in the immediate future, and then she really noticed it.

"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"

-------

"Well you know, I don't particularly care about that. After all, sometimes you just have to do what you know you know is right, even if it means death and pain. Besides, what could you possibly have done that could make you unworthy of at least one person's love."

As if in utter defiance of the warnings, Light planted a single kiss on Morse's forehead, squeezed tighter for a moment, and let her go, since it would have been really terrible for her to keep her locked up so shortly after freeing her, even if it was in a softer and nicer prison.
>>
No. 912512 ID: 2007b6

>>912475
>I am still interested in if Edgar took Bonesaw on as a student or assistant,
Nothing formalized yet. Lot of other work to do, and they're still getting to know each other.
>and if the cult seeding attempt is working or not,
Second- and third-generation rumors are already circulating; the idea has settled in to local culture like maggots into an untreated wound. Whoever's supposed to be in charge of guarding hearts and minds is apparently asleep on the job. Question now is: do you want to stir it up into a frenzy, maximizing short-term payout? Or try to build a more enduring institution?
>>
No. 912518 ID: 9646f1

rolled 5, 1, 6, 10, 10, 6, 3, 2, 8, 9, 4, 9, 4, 7, 3, 10, 10, 1, 2, 1, 8, 8, 7, 1, 2, 2, 8, 1, 9, 6 = 163

The gears in Bridget's mind slowly whirred and clicked, steadily creeping towards a conclusion most onlookers likely shared: This Probably Isn't Good.

Unpacking her wards, Bridget made preparations for the journey. They would need food, and rest before they set off. To her small group, huddled on the boulder she makes a statement, back turned to the sliver sands baring the way home:

"Unknown occurrences halt progress. If prior any worked for your captors, they are unlikely to receive compensation anymore. Consider working with me to return to the village. I will provide tonight.

Bridget sets about gathering provisions for the night- wood, food, something to recover their strength. After they awake, the long journey across the sands begins.

It's going to be a while before she gets home, isn't it?

Mechanically, Bridget activates Craftsman Needs No Tools to help her start a fire, and then meditates for the evening. If fatigue is cleared by not working, rather than sleep, can she just turn inward rather than totally shutting off for the night? If she really does have to sleep, four hours should suffice for more recovery- will she still get WP recovery for that?

On the trip across the endless desert, Bridget first trains the second survival Excellency. Then, she trains Food-Gathering Exercise. Finally, she trains another lore Excellency, the First Lore Excellency (I think that's the one I need). If it only takes a few days to train the first two, hopefully she can keep her wards fed while crossing the desert. Otherwise, we just hope they can keep up.

Budget accounting: made two posts since my last check in, and I've spent 4 motes (since JamesLeng said I didn't need to spend anything to flair to the 8 more level I wasnt going to count that)
If I recover motes from both posts, and WP from this one, minus the cost of CNNT that leaves me at
1/5/5 I think. Also spent 24xp just now.
>>

rolled 3, 6, 5, 10, 1, 3, 1, 6, 9, 6, 9, 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 8, 8, 2, 8 = 105

>>912512
Sounds like it's too soon to do any further pushing with those two then. Let's wait and see how things develop naturally and then if they need course correction.

>stir it up into a frenzy, maximizing short-term payout? Or try to build a more enduring institution?
Enduring seems like the more strategically useful option. Although this is of course assuming the mortal expatriates manage to survive, if Lute were writing them off, the short term payout would be a lot more expedient.

>>912493
>>912509
Morse Song and Light's touching moment is interrupted by an appreciative (and sincere) "D'awwwww."

An interloper stands nearby (where both are reasonably sure no one stood before) wearing fine robes, unmarred by the stains or dust from travel.

"You devotion in the face of adversity is quite touching, but you needed worry your pretty little ears. If it were within her dead gods' power to deny such bonds of love, they almost certainly would have already."

I'm assuming with high lore and occult, and with Kimbery and her other akuma being involved in the deal to capture and trade solar sparks, that Lute has some idea how solar-lunar links are normally supposed to go, at a least a very broad idea how the solar-abyssal flip was supposed to have gone, and is making an informed guess filled in with a little direct observation just now.

>>912509
>"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"
"Why, we're in hell, of course!" Lute answers cheekily in the same tongue (as if this were the most natural thing in the world), from where she had been leaning against the wall, off to the side of the mine entrance and (formerly) out of the creature's line of sight.

Can I roll a lore check to see if Lute recognizes what that is?
>>
No. 912564 ID: 0640da

rolled 1, 5, 4, 8, 9, 7, 5, 2, 1, 7, 9, 1, 2, 6, 8, 2, 7, 6, 5, 2, 6, 1, 10, 10, 2, 9, 10, 6, 2, 4 = 157

>>912499
Morse turns to Lute and Light, expressionlessly puffing out her chest and clarifying the terms of the deal to them in Rivertongue. "I have successfully convinced our friend here to strike a deal with us. Lute, Light, please present him with a quantity of red jade, rot-resistant wood surfacing or meal and water equivalent to the price which I have haggled for with my superior linguistic arrangements."

Completing her self-aggrandizing lie, Morse coughs lightly and speaks again to the violet mango-eyed fellow. "I probably should mention that it is not a lie, friend, that I work for a Bishop who would be very pleased with your arrangement. The artifact that has been stolen by this caravan is of particular interest to the Tabernacle. We shall secure what you desire at once."

Morse hears that they're in hell, and doesn't seem to comment on that-- she already assumed as much from the change of scenery. If she wasn't immune to thirst, she'd be parched.

= Hours Ago=
>>912549
>>912509

"And what, pray tell... do you know of my 'dead gods', stranger?" Morse hisses. "Know that their words ring among their followers even now... you only have to listen to hear an answer to your prayers. The less could be said for mortal gods-- their communication hinges on false hope and lying tongues. Perhaps you may not know as much about them as you claim to-- a fact I will rectify over the course of your insignificant existence."

Morse retrieves her shamisen from the ground next to her coffin, and plays a few notes... she needs to re-attune herself, which costs a few motes. Her anima flares-- a deep ooze drips out of a third eye, as she expends 8 motes (and a scene or 20 minutes) to slowly re-attune herself to her artifacts. During this time, they are not effective on her-- Read Motivation should be as normal.

"...I think the more important question is who the both of you are, and what business you have in this place. I thought for sure that arrogant solar had planned my imprisonment for a decade or more." Morse makes a few strums on her shamisen, nodding. "For know that she feared me for my name and my power-- I am a preservationist of history that operates in darkness. Morse Encoding of Forbidden Lore, Wrapped in Song-- at your service."

Morse makes a deep bow to both of them-- she assumes they are together, after all. When she bows down, more anima-ooze drips onto the floor beneath her, forming a vantablack pool of void-stuff devoid of color... this is not how animas are supposed to look. They should be... shiny. At the very least, she should have an aura... this is more like she's, she's leaking...
>>
No. 912583 ID: bb5006

"Well, I have an idea on how we can get a lot of water extremely fast, and I guess I could try and scavange for some grain, but we would need a mill to turn it into meal. But... How much of a price did you negotiate for?

"Also, what? How is that a 'normal' sentence, last I heard people don't just randomly go to Hell." Light was clearly more worried about the fact that they wound up in Hell than about the price Morse had negotiated, since she wasn't entirely even aware of what she was negotiating for.

-----

"Well, I found this place and thought that it looked like a pretty obvious watchpost for this cult I had found, so I took a few days to rest and finish training my body into a solid weapon before I really took them on since I had just marched almost 80 miles in the last few days. There obviously weren't any bandits or cultists to kill, but I found you and I decided I would free you, and right before I started to tear it open you asked if I loved you, I said yes, and we got into this conversation."

Light was starting to burn up as she leaned up against one of the walls of the basement they were in, half trying to hide the fact that she half desperately wanted to sleep with everyone in the room to help clear her head, especially since there didn't seem to be any real opening to bring it up without being rude like if she were in a bar, and half trying to broadcast it to them both to hope that an opening would come up.
>>
No. 912604 ID: 2007b6

>>912509
>"Not to point out the Anathema in the room, but do either of you know why the sky is black with a Green Sun as opposed to the normal sky?"
The cave-thing responds in crisp, formal Rivertongue, like an uncanny impression of some professor from Lookshy's own Academy of Sorcery, "My field of study is mercantile dealings with foreigners. Any 'weather' phenomena that may occur are your own problem to deal with."
>>
No. 912704 ID: 2d86b4

A thought crosses Arberuses’ mind. Using words to make others take actions and forcing them to speak had an odd surrealism to it. ’Repeat after me, “You may not speak”.’ A temporary amusement. This random desire would no doubt pass quickly enough, replaced by some urge to walk someplace or eat a sandwich. But the simple fact that he could, and hadn’t, made it all the important to him that he did.

“You know,” Arberus speaks his thoughts aloud. “ ‘Why’ Is just as good as ‘Why not’. To me, at least. For now. So how about I add some clarity to this matter of…” He doesn’t finish, and instead looks around him at those peasants so magically enthralled by him. Peasants? People. Peasants were boring to kill but people? Those were fun.

“Hey everyone!” Arberus waves his right hand in the air, trying to draw attention to himself.

“Do what I say for a moment, will you? Who am I!?” The answer he was hoping for was ”I/we don’t know!”

“Neat, huh? Neat neat neat… Everyone, ask this Monk here who I have to kill to help fix his knee! Keep yourselves at the ready, if he doesn’t tell us we’re going to eat his face. That sound alright with everyone? Don’t worry, I’ll help.”

He smiles a bit at himself and looks the old Monk over again, ignoring the five others that surround him.

“There, that was nice wasn’t it? I suggest your idea be a good one. I’m killing something. The question is, is your knee going to feel better afterwards? Or are you just… going to be… uh. Dead?”
>>
No. 912718 ID: 2007b6

>>912488
>Using Stoke the Flames to inspire thoughts of rebellion.
You need to specify how many people you're targeting, and roll for the actual social attack.
>>
No. 912719 ID: afdebc

>>912564
>>912583
>"And what, pray tell... do you know of my 'dead gods', stranger?"
Lute responds with a grin. "Am I wrong, deathknight?"

>I think the more important question is who the both of you are, and what business you have in this place.
>I found this place and thought that it looked like a pretty obvious watchpost for this cult I had found
"Lute Silhouette Speculation in Comet's Reflection.

"My own business here is rather similar- investigating the recent bandit assault of a nearby village, and the cult that had a hand in the orchestration. I have questions about your involvement, Morse Song, and the infantry force you lead before your subsequent defeat and interment."

>>912583
>"Also, what? How is that a 'normal' sentence, last I heard people don't just randomly go to Hell."
"Oh yes, it's quite extraordinary. Demons are far more likely to fall out of cracks in their prison than others are to fall in. And miles of creation's landscape crossing over is practically unheard of!"

Perhaps unsettling, Lute seems more enthused and intrigued by this inexplicable turn of events than concerned.
>>
No. 912747 ID: 2d86b4

>>912718

Just the monks right in front of me. The weaker peasants should already be under my control. Should be three motes total.

Temperance 1 means 1 automatic success.
>>
No. 912748 ID: 2d86b4

rolled 7 = 7

---this one should work---
>>
No. 912770 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 5, 10, 6, 9, 9, 1, 2, 6, 5, 9, 4, 10, 2, 2, 4, 2, 3, 8, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 9, 1, 3, 4, 2, 2 = 135

>>912583
>>912719
= Hours Ago =
"You are not entirely incorrect, given my lord's disdain for procreation, but you err in assuming too much. I'm going to pre-empt that this is a running theme for you. There are many permitted forms of sexual bonds under the Neverborn, with the conditions that it furthers the cause of this Creation's demise. There are many... lesser Deathlords that find themselves pre-occupied with these sorts of tawdry behaviors... much to the dismay of those who work beneath them." Morse snorts, and expends 3 motes analyzing Lute's statement... she sees no lie.

"Fine. Sit with the Lunar who refuses to introduce themselves, and I shall tell you of my goals. They are very simple-- enough that an egg could understand it, let alone two presumably competent adults-- but, for your listening pleasure... I shall sing them in verse." Morse gestures in front of her, and begins to sing a song, playing a currently mundane instrument...

Tabernacle northern
underneath a frozen star
A simple priestess studies
until she is sent afar
A mission of importance
will keep her and it apart
She was sent out to find a tool--
a cold unmelting heart.


"So, I suppose you have questions. I can answer all of them... and I hope you like music, because I prefer to respond with the medium I am most comfortable with. Ask away-- and make it clear what you want to know."

= Present Moment =
"Why are you two acting like this is a big deal? Simple laws of entropy. Creation will break down and become more simple, and worse, over time." Morse makes a light dig at Malfeas. "My heart is still here, and my compass still points true towards that... backstabber, Embri. The town should have come with it, since my destination did as well."
>>
No. 912773 ID: bb5006

"It's not that I'm refusing to introduce myself, I just haven't introduced myself to another Anathema, so I'm not sure if I should use my Anathema name I use to scare mortals before I kill them, or my actual name that I was born with. Like, is there any formal procedure to this stuff? Also, there are plenty of tales of Anathema sleeping with hapless victims, so of course it would make sense that you'd be allowed to have sex."

But, beyond her lack of knowledge which name to use, and understandably doubting that she should introduce herself as 'Light of the Moon Cleansing the World', she let herself hear the music, half humming along to the music like any proud citizen of Lookshy.

"Alright, I have a few questions. What's the Tabernackle, and what's this Unmelting Heart?"

---------------

"Well... If we have no idea what's happening, other than we're apparently in Hell, is there anything we need to know to avoid dying? I mean, this isn't something that basic training can prepare you for."

She had gone from instantly worried to thinking in tactical possibilities of what could possibly coming to attack and how they could make the field as asymmetrical in their favor as possible.
>>
No. 912774 ID: 2d86b4

rolled 8, 1, 1, 8, 6, 2, 5, 5, 1, 3 = 40

>>
No. 912801 ID: afdebc

>>912770
Lute had meant to reference the lunar bond, not sex, but the way Morse's comments make Light squirm are certainly amusing.

>Ask away-- and make it clear what you want to know.
Lute's going to ask about Morse's mission, and her involvement with the bandit / cultist plot against the nameless village (and if Morse is honest, Lute is going to very quickly find out Morse had nothing to do with that plot and is head chasing something completely different).

>>912773
>is there anything we need to know to avoid dying [in Malfeas]?
"Oh yes," Lute responds, and begins counting out hazards on her fingers.

"The Silent Wind is perhaps the most universal danger. Adorjan slays all in her passage, but detests noise and song. For this reason there cannot be silence without death, and throughout the demon realm, music and song is played in an attempt to keep the Silent Wind away. Our companion should be a great help, here.

"If darkness should fall, do not listen to Erembour's horn, lest you wish to spend the remainder of your life underground, hiding from the light.

"Malfeas' very air is a poison that will kill mortals in a week, but we of course are not mortal. I suspect a portion of Creation's air may have traveled with us, though.

"Clean food and water is also much harder to come across in Malfeas, although for the moment we enjoy the bounty of our displaced piece of Creation.

"...of course the local area is also something of a danger, as every curious or interested demon nearby will be drawn by the appearance of this Creation-born bounty, seeking to claim or exploit it. This is going to be a problem for the local mortals, unless they are placed under the protection of a suitably powerful patron.

"There are of course, other dangers, but that depends a great deal where we are in hell. Malfeas is vast, and contains many layers."
>>
No. 912812 ID: 0640da

rolled 8, 4, 7, 10, 7, 2, 2, 9, 2, 3, 2, 2, 8, 8, 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 8, 3, 5, 1, 4, 2, 2, 1, 9, 10, 5 = 145

>>912773
>>912801
"I suppose you'd like me to drown out the noise for everyone in this part of creation... which I can, in fact, do. I can prevent everyone from listening, but... what's in it for the Neverborn? What reason do you have to use my powers to preserve the lives of mere mortals, marching towards death at a sluggish pace?" Morse is listening to the insinuation that she'd help with an undisguised disgust. "I only seek my artifact. The lives of those who got in my way are forfeit. Of course, I'm not going to stop them from listening to the music of death, if they so please to each dawn."

What can Morse (and by extension, Oblivion) get out of this deal that could possibly tempt her? Lute will need to think about this, if she wants the blanket of Morse's protection.

= Hours Earlier =

"Is that all? Well..." Morse plucks her shamisen, and the world plunges into darkness around the two exalts. In the distance, wrapped in a regal robe, a regal looking old man wearing what appears to be an ancient tapestry looks over an arid steppe. The ground is cold, and it sends a shiver to the two listeners...

The Bishop of the
Chalcedony Thurible
Listen to his words.

For us sinners he has
written a great bible
Listen to his words

Geomantically unstable
The Hidden Tabernacle is
not just an old fable
It is real

As real as you or I
Or this damned ugly blue sky...


The Bishop waves his hand, and the sky darkens...

But not for long...

The lands around him begin to dry up and blacken, and the spire of a terrible steeple begins to crack through the earth, tearing into the sky. This-- this is the true form of the Hidden Tabernacle, and as the steeple rises the rest of the dark cathedral follows.

Yes, not for long...

Creation's days are numbered
It's charted in the stars
We live we die we eat we breathe
We sing out our dull song

But he sees the truth, he sees the way
He sees beyond the scars
He knows us in our deepest hearts
And he knows who we are

The Tome of Endless Night
is his most infamous book of light


The bishop lies at his study, scrawling out scrolls that extend like ribbons in all directions, scrawled with almost illegible Skytongue. If Lute or Light knew how to read it, they'd be reading Morse's memories of the contents of the tomes themselves.

But the thing you may not know is
That it's not his only work
For his motto is obedience
(a task he has not shirked)
To the Neverborn below
and though they find creation vile
When he designed all these tools
They let his mistakes slide a while
Each one is packed with power
Each one is filled with death
Some make you melt your fingers
But this one gives you cold breath
And if given to a zombie
it reinforces flesh
And the jar it is contained in
can resist that wintry touch
But compared to what's inside
that jar doesn't matter much...


Several visions of artifacts the Bishop has created flash by, but Morse grabs them and throws them to the side-- she clears the table with her hands and sets down a jar. The jar contains a frozen heart, and ice crystals begin to form on the table below... before the scene fades to darkness, and the Bishop can be seen again-- facing a great demonic creature. It appears to be a demon amphibian of some sort-- a massive beast, surrounded by clutches of eggs and crooning. The Bishop, for his part, looks different-- Morse has taken great care to present his corpse-like war form, a black and ugly beast, in this moment of fighting. She refuses to color history any other way.

The Unmelting Heart of Tellerauthelot...

At the start, there was a great battle
A test between two faiths
Tellerauthelot prayed to demons of weakness
And the Neverborn he praised

But as fights wore on...
His blades found no purchase
And though he dealt damage
It'd regenerate

And so the Bishop had a moment of grace
He fell to his knees and he started to pray
And though the beast's poison
withered him away
He had an epiphany
That I'll share today

He realized that this beast was hurting inside
That though it had lived long
sustained on its pride
That it really quite truly
had wanted to die
In its deepest of hearts
and yet not its mind

And so the bishop called out, he cried...


The Bishop, nearly defeated, extends out a hand... and the beast stops its violent attack, staring back at the Bishop.

"There is a place after this one
A place where we are all equal
Where no more shall suffer
and there is no more light
you'll be with your family--
they'll be at your side
And we'll all be together
And there will be no war
for there will be nothing
out here left fighting for
To find this solution
You should listen and pray
It'll change all your hearts
if you do this today..."


"And the Bishop..." Morse interrupts. "Then spoke five words of truth. The first was forgiveness, the second was death. The third was winter, the fourth was breath. And the fifth was beauty-- and well, it would seem, that the terrible beast then began to scream..."

The beast trembles, and shakes... and snarls. In old tongue, it curses and insults the Bishop... notably, Morse's lips are not moving as it groans, and freaks out. The beast bounds around the room, banging into walls. The room, and their environs, seemingly shakes as this ethereal projection of a beast bounces around-- of course, the room is still perfectly still when the beast collapses, and turns translucent.

Sixteen red hearts
Did beat in its chest
And one by one
a decision was made
That beautiful crimson
then began to fade
Replaced by a chill blue stream.

Sixteen blue hearts
now froze in his chest
And expression had froze on his face
For in his cold mind a new ice age set in...
And his hearts had taken his place.


The beast, and all her illusions, vanish. The world is bright again.

"So, that's what I'm here for, and I had-- before that bitch, Embri, got her grimy paws on my heart again. The bandits had it before her, and I took them as a consolation prize. Too bad ill gotten gains are short held in one's hands..."

((Post so long Preview broke, uh oh. Hope it turns out fine.))
>>
No. 912820 ID: bb5006

Light took a few moments after the song finished to really digest, clearly the gears turning in her mind as she tried to keep focus on the actual meaning. "Okay, I think I get it. The Tabernacle is a church dedicated to a more powerful servant to your gods called the Bishop who, much like you, want to see all of the world dead. He created a lot of artifacts, but the only one that's relevant are these 16 frozen hearts, one of which was either stolen or lost and you were sent out to find this one."

As she tried summing up the song in plain language, she stood up and stretched as modestly as she could, and crossed the room, sitting down next to Morse before she could start up another song, weaseling her head and shoulder under her arms in such a way that she was as out of the way as she possibly could have been and wrapping her arms around Morse's waist, clearly not abandoning her stated goal of loving her regardless of any dangers to her health.

"So, while I was originally headed towards the copper mine at the end of this trail, going after this 'Embri' person sounds like a good next step. After that, then where are we going?"

------------------------

"Well, I can think of a fairly good reason for you to be the person who plays music, since otherwise you'd have to listen to me trying to sing old military tunes as loud as I can possibly manage, and I don't think anyone can honestly say they want to hear that. Besides, if this Silent Wind kills Embri, then who knows if corpse disposal is going to just toss your artifact in the garbage, or the incinerator or, or mass grave. We wouldn't know from here, and it might become that much more secluded and harder to find than you would have been if I hadn't found you.”

As Light gave her reasoning, she started heading back to the village at a snail’s pace compared to what she was able to with these boots on, gesturing to come on as she hoped everyone would get the message.

“Besides, I have a number of servants that should be getting close enough to a hidden building in the village that I would really prefer them surviving, since they have collectively the ability to travel at several hundreds of miles an hour, a point to point transportation faster than that, the ability to create food, water, and soldiers, and send messages to anyone that particular creeper has met, create a flaming sword that guards people, move earth, and brainwash people, and about 30 untiring soldiers, and 15 infiltrators who can hold their own on the battlefield easily, and I’d greatly prefer that they not die until we get out of here, we might need them for personal protection even if we let the town die to whatever forces attack it for being a piece of creation.”
>>
No. 912864 ID: 5f3f48

>>912812
>Skytongue. If Lute or Light knew how to read it
Linguistics 2 (Native: Old Realm, Others: Rivertongue, Skytongue)

Granted, Morse has only heard Lute using Rivertongue so far.

>What's in it for me
*Eyeroll* "Your life, the life of your companion, and any hope of surviving long enough to accomplish your mission? I did not ask you to protect the mortals. If you would prefer useless to minstreldom, you may hand me your instrument to play, or lend it to one of Light's servants."
>>
No. 912888 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 4, 10, 8, 3, 6, 2, 9, 5, 6, 3, 1, 2, 1, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 4, 3, 9, 3, 5, 5, 1, 9, 8, 7, 3 = 159

>>912864
>>912820

"...fine. I'll provide your... musical cover. But I require that we schedule sermons for the Neverborn at dawn and dusk." Morse relents, after imagining the torture her Lunar mate was about to put her through. "I also want raw flesh or blood to drink. Endless music is thirsty work." Morse begins to play the Drowned Shamisen, plucking at the strings and... eugh. Never stopping for more than a few seconds.

"That just leaves the matter of payment for this fellow as my concern. As an expert with, dare I say, Akuma-like levels of knowledge, you ought to know what kinds of rot-resistant trees grow in this hellscape. Sources of pure, clean water-- perhaps a stream of some sort we could fill barrels up with, meat from humans... trade should not be difficult to achieve. Although my goal is to get the Unmelting Heart, the Neverborn have tasked me with this as well."

= Hours Earlier =

"...do not get too close. The stench of the Wyld is overwhelming." Morse covers her face and turns away... that sounds like an excuse as any to hide her red face. "But you are correct. The Neverborn have told me that my most effective move is to lead you to the copper mine. After that, I suppose we'll know from there..." Morse's musical instrument stops for a few moments as she struggles to adjust to the nuzzle and hug... she's not really capable of escaping the grapple of the opossum at this time.

"But the Neverborn never said anything about you, Lute. What, in fact, are you planning to do? You have heard my tale, and my goals. Do you wish to stand in my way, or are you going to bend as the willows do and aid my cause of retrieval? I assure you that I do not renege on a debt of gratitude, and my mercy shall be reserved for those who aid me."
>>
No. 912892 ID: c8a0f5

"I'm not going to make any promises about not getting as close as possible. Of course, I could think of a few ways to get closer, but I guess that can wait until we're alone, and I can definitely wait until you're comfortable with whatever the Wyld smells like."

Not one to give up, Light pressed as much of herself against Morse as she could without getting in the way, hoping to leave what she was under the impression was a distinct smell on her clothes. After all, the best way to get used to something like that is constant exposure. Either that or Morse would ditch her clothes like herself, she'd count either outcome as a win on her side.

"But that's neat, if you know about this copper mine, do you also know what's there? My guess is the base of this cult."

--- In the present ---

"Alright, I'm actually kind of curious about this religion of yours. As for the fresh blood and meat, just for clarification, what kind of ratio of human to animal would you be satisfied with, also, would you mind if I ate at least the Heart with you?

"Anyway, like I said, I have a 'servant' under my control that can summon a fairly large source of water that can run for days. It might be a tad bit of work to try and barrel it, and we'd probably need a wagon to carry enough, but that shouldn't be terribly hard. The only issue is that they should still be in town with the rest of my small army."
>>
No. 912937 ID: 0640da

rolled 2, 7, 5, 4, 9, 1, 4, 4, 9, 9, 10, 4, 4, 1, 6, 8, 1, 10, 6, 2, 4, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 7, 1, 1, 1 = 152

>>912892
=Hours Ago=
"Ech. You're staining my good robes. Just because I don't have an attachment to physical things does not mean I feel a need to strip to my flesh... why don't you take a long bath before trying to cuddle me with your terrible scent?" Morse's face is slowly becoming more impossible to discern as her artifacts finish attuning to her. She presses a palm against Light's face and tries to push it away, but ends up pushing Light into a lap-pillow. Grumbling, Morse acquiesces to her circumstances.

"Cult? There's a cult? I don't remember hearing anything about that. If they were hired by a cult, their employer had a base down near Bear Lake. The mine is where a deal was to be made, one most important to the employers. As to whether Bear Lake came with us, we shall soon find out-- but let us attend to the closer location first."

= Present =

"...I'm finding you more appetizing the longer I spend time with you, Light. Yes, we may eat the humans together." Morse plays an ancient folk tune as she talks, mindless and not paying attention. "And, I don't know about his particular tastes, but I rather prefer 100% human to any ratio of human and meat. Not that I need to eat... but it is pleasurable to me, to consume flesh. I can barely resist myself when I see a corpse as it is."
>>
No. 913020 ID: bb5006

"I might be getting them a tad dirty, but there's a lot more to life than being trapped in anything so restrictive. But fine," Light finally acquiesced to Morse's desire to NOT have her clothes stained with road dust any more than they were already. As she got up, however, she took advantage of the fact that she was substantially faster and still comparatively an 'unknown' variable to steal a kiss from Morse before pivoting on her heel to sit down next to her. "If you wan't me to take a bath, there's a small stream near enough here that I've been getting water from the last few days I was training, but you have to join me to make sure I get clean enough for you.

"Beyond that, there's definitely a cult. Something dedicated to someone they called 'the Syrinx Prophet Executioner'. They had taken some slaves from the nearby town for sale, but there was a bigger plan in Bear's Pond. I had a few agents captured, most of them Haltan, like you would expect given the region and the people, it was a cell based organization, so they couldn't point me anywhere useful. I had planned on finding the cult base out here since the hypermajority of the bunch went out this way, but even if it isn't their HQ then I guess it still wasn't a waste of time, since I met you, and the other most beautiful person I've ever met." She felt almost like she appended that last statement, but the only things she'd really gathered about the so called Lute is that she was probably either an Anathema, a terribly trained Dragon Blooded, or otherwise not a threat level essence user in direct combat, and she seemed to want her to follow her heart, which in retrospect wasn't exactly a trifling amount, but still was hardly enough to really strike up a conversation.

"Anyway, I still don't know the 'rules' of this, but you should call me by my actual name. Hundred Flowing Sweet Rivers, or just Rivers. I mean, I normally call myself Light of the Moon to people before I kill them, if I let them know I'm there, but that's not really who I am. Plus, how confusing would that be to have a Light and a Lute." She gave Lute a smile, trying to lighten up tensions a tad and give Lute a more natural entry into the conversation without hostilities.

---- Present time ----

"Well, the main reason I ask about any Animal-Human ratio is because the town lost a lot of people in the town either went missing or dead, so the actual people should probably be killed as more of a delicacy. Beyond that, there's doubtless an Immaculate Presence in the town, and they probably would harass us to no end if they found out about that. On the other hand, fresh blood and meat is extremely easy to find in a big enough quantity keep either of us from going thirsty if you're half as good a hunter as I am.

"Again though, we don't really need to worry about the cave dweller's demands, all we need are some barrels and a cart to pull them in, and we can just use magic to handle that." Rivers was starting to get a tad bit annoyed, since she had brought up the fact that she already had the answer to the cave person's price three times, and while the whole 'not dying from being too quiet' thing was probably more important, it didn't seem to be getting through to everyone. "Besides, why would we pay him with people, that would just be awkward."
>>
No. 913346 ID: fe298b

rolled 5, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 6, 7, 5, 3, 3, 6, 8, 1, 1 = 53

Something new spoke in Arberus' mind. It wasn't the only voice that tied itself to his mind, but it was currently the loudest. Although it had no actual voice it still had a sound. A sort of telepathic accent.

It reminded him of a deeply voiced spoiled-child.

'"Kiiiiiiill theeeeeeem.'"

He tried 'speaking' back. He wasn't too sure how communicating worked with this... Him? Spirit? Demon? He didn't care. So he spoke aloud.

"It'll be funner if we have this guy help us find people to kill. Besides, this is my town, I'd rather kill the people I want, not just... anyone."

'"I don't caaaaaare. Kill them allll. Then suck the marrow from their bones. Come on, do iiiiiit.'"

The voice sounded hungry, but it didn't sound wrong. Arberus had a point to make though.

"Okay, so you know how money works, right? When you do work for someone they pay you in Jade and gold and other forms of currency. Imagine: If we work for this Old Monk then he can pay us. In Murder-Jade. Think about it. I don't know where the best things to kill are. But if anyone is doing to help us eat something good, I imagine it'd be this guy."

'"KILL. THEM. ALL.

"Will you just stop and think about it? What's better; killing this Old Man right now, or using him to find even better things to kill? Because I'll make you a deal, if it makes you feel better. If this Monk can't help us find a nice snack we'll just do things your way, alright? But if you think about it - Him paying us with the blood of his enemies seems like a good consistent way to get what we want."

'". . . You don't have to talk out loud for me to understand you AND WHEN ARE THINGS GOING TO DIE?!'"

"Yeah." Arberus smiles, it's all teeth. "When are things going to die?"

---

Waiting for the Monk to respond. If he doesn't offer me a target that placates the Cup I'm going to order everyone under my servitude effect to body-block the other monks while leaving the old monk alone. I'll mad-tackle the Old-Monk and hopefully the other monks will be distracted/unwilling to kill the civilians that are body-blocking them. I'm not ordering the civilians to attack; just trying to put them into a position where the monks are going to have to kill them to get to me. Like a wall of meat.
>>
No. 913390 ID: 2007b6

>>912488
>>912704
>>913346
>Waiting for the Monk to respond. If he doesn't offer me a target that placates the Cup
If you're not yourself proposing a deal the False Grail is interested in, that clash of wills means you spend 1 wp (which puts you at 9/10) and gain one limit (which puts you at 4/10 thanks to Greater Curse) and your action - attempting to establish surprise/roll Join Debate prior to social combat - automatically botches.

Arberus spends several minutes rambling incoherently, getting into a loud argument with an outwardly unresponsive cup he's holding in his off-hand, and generally making it look like he's out of touch with reality to the point of being a danger to himself and others. The crowd finds this all clownishly amusing, and the spiked armor squeezably cute; monks take the opportunity to warn everyone that he's clearly possessed by something malevolent, and that civilians should stay back.

>rolled 7, 8, 1, 1, 8, 6
Social attack on the monks, enhanced with Stoke The Flame for 3m, a two-die stunt, and a +3 bonus from monologue-based aiming, also fails... mostly due to a -3 external penalty from conflict with the False Grail's Urge, and Arberus's total lack of expertise at public speaking, but the fact that the monks have decent Integrity and correspondingly solid Dodge MDVs could have also contributed. MDV penalty from relative Appearance is canceled out by bonuses from going against Motivation, since you're basically asking them to betray the very principles they've dedicated their lives to upholding. That would further mean, even if the social attack did succeed, they'd be forced to resist it even if they were out of willpower, unless they'd been psychologically broken by (willpower + essence) consecutive days of unrelenting misery and despair, or correspondingly nasty mental magic.

>rolled 5, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, 6
That's another botch, on what should have been an easy Dex + Athletics roll to avoid tripping over some meaty root that heaved up the cobblestones while you were speaking. Arberus will be starting off the battle lying prone.

> I'm not ordering the civilians to attack;
Scented Skinless Serpent Shintai's Servitude effect drives them to give you what they think you really want, not necessarily to follow your exact tactical directions.

Since Arberus already mentioned out loud an interest in having everyone here collectively eat the elderly monk's face, that UMI is driving an angry mob to attack the monks with lethal force. Each of the color-coded second-coil monks has Arberus in front and teammates to either side, so there's room for two peasants to attack each of them from behind. Let's say one grappling, the other with a knife. Up to the monk in question which of those gets an automatic unexpected attack; the other can roll dexterity + stealth vs. the monk's wits + awareness, which is at a -2 internal penalty since they're distracted by the more obvious threat of Arberus himself.

Sifu is under attack by five peasants, but gets a +1 bonus to his wits + awareness rolls since he was watching the crowd and has enough applied theology to know that Anathema can subvert the weak-minded with alarming ease. He's also standing on a wooden crate (which happens to be full of individually wrapped cakes of soap) for a +1 high ground bonus to DV. Anyone trying to stick a knife in the old man's kidneys would be further hampered by an exceptional chain shirt enchanted with the Elemental Benediction of Earth (6L/4B soak, no mobility or fatigue) under his robes, plus natural soak bonuses from Five-Dragon Form and, when necessary, Five-Dragon Fortitude.
>>
No. 913446 ID: afdebc

--Past--
>"But the Neverborn never said anything about you, Lute. What, in fact, are you planning to do? You have heard my tale, and my goals. Do you wish to stand in my way, or are you going to bend as the willows do and aid my cause of retrieval? I assure you that I do not renege on a debt of gratitude, and my mercy shall be reserved for those who aid me."
"Well, my previous journey, investigation into piracy, and diplomatic mission have all been effectively put on hold with this unexpected sojourn hell-wards.

"For now, I would accompany you investigating this cult's activities, later I may seek to protect this exiled land by delivering it to the protection of a demon lord, rather than let it be wasted by the squabbling and warring of lesser demons over its bounty."

Morse obviously has no reason to care for this region, but she might be tempted by the rewards of a demon lord's favor. And as for Rivers, well, deals with the devil are part of the story of anathema, no?

>out to steal the heart from Embri
A thief, to steal from the Thief? Most amusing indeed!

Lute will decline to take sides in this conflict for now, as she has met the Lady Embri previously. She might perhaps be able to negotiate a compromise, if Morse is willing to consider such a resolution.

--Present--
>you ought to know what kinds of rot-resistant trees grow in this hellscape. Sources of pure, clean water
Lute raises one eyebrow and reminds Morse that hell is a vast and varied landscape, and it's not as if she has encyclopedic familiarity with all of it.

That said, the most readily accessible source of those materials is likely to be, well, here, in the banished area. Malfean plants are usually metal, and water is less common than dust or acid. The stuff of creation is rare and valuable in hell.

>"Besides, why would we pay him with people, that would just be awkward."
Not to mention logistically difficult, and almost certainly overpaying (given the rarity of mortals in hell), and a terrible waste of potential.

Lute will support River's proposal for bribing the creature (although I'm still waiting on the results of my roll to see if I can recognize what it is >>912549 which might factor into how we handle it).

Okay I really struggled with this one for whatever reason, and cheapen out not writing proper dialog for half of it, but at least we can move on now.
>>
No. 913886 ID: 0640da

rolled 5, 10, 4, 8, 5, 7, 10, 10, 4, 2, 7, 9, 3, 4, 7, 3, 1, 4, 3, 5, 5, 2, 8, 10, 6, 8, 6, 4, 6, 3 = 169

>>913446
"As far as I can tell, the 'rot-resistant' explicitly requests we prepare him something suitable for water and food storage or construction." Morse shakes her head. "You wouldn't need rot-resistant wood if you were just making a table. He's not just trying to find something mortals would ascribe value to... hmm. I know you mentioned not having encyclopedic knowledge of Malfeas, but surely you must know what holds value in the eyes of demons. Perhaps we can sell him the soil of Creation, or maybe a few frogs from a nearby demense."

Morse plays them out all the way back to the town-- it's quite a trip for them, so she won't be making it back with her group anytime soon-- unless Lute or River has something to say about it.

"Earlier, you mentioned making a deal with... demons. Which demon in particular are we dealing with...? I typically don't go out of my way to summon in things that could make my mission a failure, let alone strong enough to lock me in a cage." Morse has read how these books go before-- you summon in a powerful demon, then you're getting kicked into the sun or come down with a case of demon worship. It almost never goes well for you-- otherwise, why would a demon bother to bargain with the idiot who summoned them knowing that they'd lose in the deal? If Morse were a demon, she'd get tired of being called in for petty things like plumbing and pickle jars rather quickly. "I see no reason why asking a demon to help us wouldn't end up with half of us on fire and the other half of us content with the fire we are now on."
>>
No. 913956 ID: 2007b6

>>913886
>rolled 5, 10, 4, 8, 5, 7, 10, 10, 4
I'm going to treat that as a Wits-based Academic Knowledge roll, to which your specialty is applicable (not that it actually mattered in this case). The Tome of Endless Night does mention, in the course of it's sweeping cosmic narrative, certain living creatures banished underground long before the first humans were created. This particular species is known to be native to the tunnels around the City of the Mountain Gateway, right on the other side of the Blackcrag Mountains from the Bishop's domain, which could easily be misconstrued as evidence that you're only a few hundred miles from home.

With six net successes, a comprehensive diagram of the Underpeople's entire domestic economy, mostly derived from first principles, coheres in Morse's mind in a single moment of blazing clarity. No roll will be needed for appropriate follow-up questions... so long as they're quick enough to be plausibly within the span of IC short-term memory, or you figure out some way to write it all down, and then still have those notes available for reference.

The violet-eyed underpeople want red jade as raw material with which to construct an industrial heat source, because air supply and smoke disposal for more conventional flames are a very serious problem with no routine access to the sky. They want water because it doesn't rain down there, and any natural watercourses would have long since either been tightly secured or become the subject of blood feuds, and defensive strategies probably depend heavily on control of choke points, so even a relatively small additional reserve might allow disproportionate strategic gains. Protein-rich food, likewise. Lumber, however, would almost certainly be primarily a prestige good, like gold foil and non-essence-conducting semiprecious stones are on the surface, or possibly a form of currency like the Guild uses silver. Trees don't grow in caves, so it would have to be imported, and down in the cold and damp, rot would be a constant concern no matter what it was being used for.

The one you're speaking with is not a demon (or at least, has shown no actual sign of being one; some sort of possession, or impersonation by, say, a Neomah or Gethin can't yet be ruled out, if you're feeling particularly paranoid), and does not seem to be aware of the surrounding region's transit to the Demon Realm, dismissing the associated omens (to the extent they were noticed at all) as a meteorological oddity relevant only to surface-dwellers.
>>
No. 914037 ID: fe298b

Arberus lies prone, tripped up by the plants and roots rupturing from the ground. He’s surrounded by five heroic-mortal monks which we're going to assume have combat stats comparable to elite soldiers, who are armed with, in clockwise order,

1) a two-handed axe (disciple of Hesiesh)
2) several fine-quality throwing knives with Lucky Rock enchantments (disciple of Mela)
3) a sledgehammer (disciple of Pasiap)
4) a target shield and cestus (disciple of Sextes Jylis; also carrying a longbow, not readied)
5) a seven-section staff (disciple of Danaa'd)

They are surrounded by at least ten peasants under thrall to Arberus, (more than ten, really, but that's as many as can make melee attacks at once).


There's also a fight between the senior monk, standing on a soapbox, and five (or more) peasants.

--
One doesn't get to be a second coil monk without years of vigorous training and hard work. The average folk tended to forget that each of them was a master among men at combat. So as the normal townsfolk under the influence of this vile Anathema tried to sneak up on the lower of the disciples of the dragons, they were in for a surprise.

The Deciple of Hesiesh, his rage burning hot as he fought to keep it under control, went into a low down stance, tearing his feet into the hard ground to give himself a better position to spring into action, creating just enough of a stumbling block that his knife wielding attacker ran the risk of tripping rather than landing true while he focused on the real battle ahead. (Join Battle Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Sextes Jylis steadied herself to see the compassion of the noble dragon free her attacker from the Anathema's clutches. (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Pasiap readied his rather large hammer in grim acceptance of the work he was about to have to undergo, and offered a prayer to heaven for the chance to engage in toil. (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Deciple of Mela prepares her knives in a stance more perfect than the others, the result of training for a half dozen hours daily in combat to seek perfection, and a half dozen hours training in temperance, to remind herself that perfection is an internal goal, rather than external (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

And the Deciple of Daana'd braced herself for combat, reciting the holy scriptures in lieu of any arcane knowledge or essence to weave into spells, readying her staff as a reminder that she has to be the root of her growth, and there were no magical shortcuts (Wits 3+Awareness 3)

The Sifu was an old man, he had been an aide to the Wyld Hunt for almost half his life before retiring. He'd seen Anathema routed and slaughtered, but he had always been the one who seemed to hunt them. Now his chosen prey seemed to have him cornered and without any Exalted backup. And so, he prepared himself for one last fight, either to go down in history as a mortal who the Dragons blessed with the courage to slay an Anathema, or as a Martyr dying in Glorious battle. (Wits 3+Awareness 3, Willpower on Valor Channel, 9 dice before stunts)

--

Wasting no time Arberus rises with inhuman speed and leaps towards the Sifu, soaring above everyones heads and aiming to tackle the Old Monk and crush him to death.

Using Principle of Motion to Rise, Jump, Grapple, Clinch.

----

White. It was the color of the cap of the Imperial Manse, symbol of the unyielding earth weathering any amount of punishment hurled at it. And the color of the Sifu’s spear tip as the Anathema hurled towards him. He stabbed his Spear into a joint in between the Anathema’s leg and groin, stepping down from his box for a better angle and to be out of the direct path.

4 Dex, 5 Martial Arts, 3 Specialty, 2 accuracy, 1 stance, +3 Valor,

---

Arberus takes the spear full force to crotch and twists his body in the air, ripping the tip out of groin and spraying green mist instead of the expected crimson blood. Not done yet he smiles and grabs the spear tip as he falls, using it to pull himself to the Monk while still mid-air.

Using Bitter Heart Unbleeding x2 for 11 motes.
----

This act of invincibility shook the hearts of those around him. That blow could level a house and Arberus took it laughing. .All the Disciples engaged against Arberus were forced looked deep within themselves to resist the fear of fighting this seemingly immortal madman.
-----

The Sifu had seen countless demons, from marauding Fae, wayward gods, and Anathema far more skilled than this foolish upstart. He had no fear about this fool. (Valor 3+ Stunt Morale)

The deciple of Hesiesh had never had a chance to be in a real fight. He had been in street fights on the Blessed Isle before he joined the Immaculate Order, but even through all his training he still felt his blood boiling to a fever pitch and he felt more than a little pumped up. (Valor 4 + Stunt Morale)

The Deciple of Sextes Jylis felt sorrow more than anything at the threat of this Anathema, and her nature wouldn't let her back down, lest she fail the innocent people (Compassion 3 Morale Check)

The Deciple of Mela turned her thoughts inward. This was her chance to express her perfection, and on top of that be indulged in her vice should she manage to succeed (Conviction 3 Morale Check)

The Deciple of Pesiap however, turned outwards. He had to keep himself grounded, and remind himself that this troubling piece of hard work was his required penance for his life of gluttony before he turned his life to the dragons. (Conviction 3 Morale)

The Deciple of Dana'd had to explore this feeling, after all, she hadn't encountered much that could even shake her, so this had to be something supernatural, and it was her own progress if she learned about the roots of whatever caused this herself (Confiction 3 Morale)

----
Stepping out of the path of the Anathema was much easier than one would imagine. The Brute was strong, to be sure, but he lacked the skill or speed to stand up to even a Mortal who had trained under the chosen of the dragons. By the time that the demon came crashing into the soapbox, the Monk was already on the ground beside. (Knockdown Resistance 4 dex+0 Athletics/Resistance, hopefully 3 Dodge instead for the way it was stunted)

Arberus had no grace or fine tactics. He uses the spear to pull his body to the Monk, slamming them both onto the ground with incredible force.

"KILL. THEM. HURT. JUST EAT HIM ALREADY DO IT."'

"I AM! HAHAHEEHEH! Come on then, let's take a look at that knee! Remember, this YOUR FAU -" a pause in the madness. "I'm going to eat your face."

No art or finesses. Arberu just holds the old man in a bear hug and rolls around on the ground with him, slamming hard onto nearby building and dropping an already rickety built overhang on-top of them in the process. The way he looked at it, it didn't matter what came falling down so long as it hit the Monk first.

Needless to say he was making good at what he said and was munching down on the face the whole while. It wasn't very effective, but it was bloody. And very, very painful.

---

The old Sifu manages to resist, however, wedging his spear as best he can between Arberus and himself to avoid being impaled and mauled to death.

--

From a distance the Disciple of Mela pulls out a dagger with a bag of 8 devil screaming powder attached to it. She throws it at Arberus and although the dagger itself does not go through his armor (being helplessly deflected) the powder itself works it’s magic, enter Arberus through every crack in his armor.

This simply results in more screaming.

--

It’s at about this time that Malice finishes waiting for the perfect opportunity, still hidden, and snatches the axe-wielding monk's weapon as they wind up for a strike. Malice grabs the axe near the head with one claw, and around the monk's hand with prehensile tongue. With her other wing she chops the wrist, breaking the monk's grip and leaving him with a wet empty hand.
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