In Which Nobody Eats The Satrap

Vance: So…

Vance: Y'all may be getting your asses kicked today.

Zanara: I should sit down and math out all that XP.

Vance: Oh, yeah.

Vance: You can spend XP.

Vance: No one else can because there are literally five in-game seconds between this session and the last one.

Kukla: Good luck running the fight, and fuck I forgot to make dicey.

Vance: It is okay.

Vance: That will build the suspense!

Camena: Vance is a jerk.

Vance: I contain multitudes.

Camena: A multitude of jerks.

Camena: A gangbang of them.

Vance: Unhygienic.

Kukla: Lewd.

Camena: Yep!

  • Vance waves the editing scissors menacingly at Jade Turtle Devours the Sun's Evocation list.

Vance: Oh!

Vance: I may be writing the Atlantean pantheon for Scion.

Vance: Anyone wanna look at my God write-ups?

Camena: Ooo, ooo, ooo, pick me!

Vance: You already read them!

Camena: I know.

Camena: That was da joke.

Icaria: I think I spent mine last week.

Icaria: But I can't remember where, so it's no good asking to revert!

Zanara: I updated my sheet, but I don't think that the one attached to Slack will get the update.

Icaria: Not that it matters since Icaria is not actually present.

Svetlana: That was a really excellent Avoidance Kata.

Icaria: In hindsight it possibly wasn't, but I'm glad you aren't mad.

Icaria: I'll loan you my familiar.

Icaria: This combat you can be the one hiding behind the greenmaw.

Svetlana: A GM screen, as it were.

Svetlana: Logically that would protect Vance, but every screen has two sides.

Icaria: And an edge.

  • Vance reveals his Magnificent Moëbius Screen.
  • Svetlana invokes her Sides Are Social Constructs Meditation.

Kukla: Frickin' Klein screens.

  • Camena is just impressed by Jenna and Vance.

Camena: Man, Nico really likes his air dried chicken livers.

Camena: Who's full of nutritious bile?

Camena: Who is it?

Camena: Is it him?

Camena: It might be him.

Vance: Do y'all want to discus tactics before the violence begins?

Camena: Uhm.

Camena: Parley!

Vance: Work out the division of slaybor.

Zanara: I picked up a little Dodge and Melee. Emphasis on a little.

Zanara: Otherwise I'm still all Archery all the time.

Vance: And let me paste in the description of the battlefield.

Vance: You are in a clearing in the middle of a great forest. Only one path leads into the clearing?—that's where Satrap Jaspindar and her wife Peleps Vi are, at short distance from you. There's a pride of lions gnawing on human corpses in the clearing, at medium range in the other direction, but they don't want to fight. The wilderness is dense enough that it counts as difficult terrain, but also as heavy cover if you hide behind it. It's encircling the clearing; if you want to make a break for it the closest edge is at medium range. Lions are also difficult terrain.

Camena: "I don't suppose either of you might consider a parley?"

Vance: (You might want to rephrase that in the form of a statement that could possibly leverage an Intimacy if you want a chance of successes.)

  • Svetlana wakes up.

Svetlana: I am inclined to make a run for it when the hunt is announced, which probably doesn't help the attempted parley.

Camena: "Fair enough to say that we've all got our hackles about as far up as Meru itself, but that's not to say there's got to be blood, Satrap. We don't mean any harm to you or your wife. You know what's here, don't you? That's our only matter in all this, and like as not, we could help one another and part ways, each of us the better for it. Cleaner for it. There's something rotten in the satrapy of Gloam."

Vance: (Roll Charisma + Presence, and what's your Appearance?)

Camena: (…2 Appearance.)

Vance: (Well, take 2 stunt dice.)

Camena: (7 successes.)

Vance: "Oh, there's plenty rotten. You've been here what, a week, and you know what's going on? I've been doing the purging, here in this chamber. Certainly, we can talk. I can tell you just how wrong you are."

Camena: "Then please, do speak. We'll listen," she says, making a calming gesture and affecting the mien of a practiced mediator. Clearly, a clever lie.

  • Icaria may be a bit unreliable, but when in doubt, Rubean and Emeraude can Defend Other.

Zanara: Zanara raises an eyebrow, but otherwise remains quite still, bow still in her hands.

Vance: @randbrittain You're playing both of your elementals.

Icaria: True!

Icaria: "My estimation: they can't be trusted." says Rubean in a whisper.

Vance: Vi gives her wife a confused look. "Isn't parley supposed to be their surrender? Shouldn't they start talking to us, offering terms, so we can refuse them and laugh in their faces?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya looks apologetic at her breach of protocol in this matter.

Vance: Jaspindar is armored head to toe in heavy green jade armor, embellished with a motif of creeping ivy, and wields a veritable glaive of a direlance. Vi wears the elegant but unarmored vestments of an elite imperial bureaucrat, and rests against a black grand daiklave, its tip in the ground.

Icaria: Rubean tries hard not to fall into the light comedy conversation style favored by her magic dad.

Svetlana: "I could do that if you like," Evdeniya says, reluctantly, turning her gaze to Vi. "But I was interested in their conversation."

Icaria: Emeraude speaks human tongues only rarely.

Vance: Jaspindar stifles a laugh, giving Vi a triumphant look. "I know who most of you are, at least. A pirate captain carrying god-metal weaponry, an imperial magistrate investigating my house. The daft sorcerer isn't here, and I don't know you, but it's not too hard to put together what you're thinking. If you take issue with my method of carrying out capital punishment, my wife will find the laws in the imperial criminal code that permit it. And when I spill blood here, it drives away the darkness that engulfs Gloam. They're already going to be executed, anyway, so why not let them die for a virtuous cause?"

Svetlana: I am surprised she recognizes the pirate captain.

Camena: I mean…

Camena: Who else would be hanging out with you?

Icaria: "Sanity appears to be covered in blood," says the daft sorcerer, elsewhere, for no apparent reason. "I'll have none of it."

Vance: "Majal is an excellent spymaster, after all."

Camena: "An excellent spymaster seeking to teach his Satrap a lesson? I know little of Dynastic pride, but you think at the least that that'd rankle."

Icaria: "No, he was lying, you see," explains Rubean.

Camena: "Fair enough," she says to the duck. "Seems an awful bit convoluted, though, to stage an attempted coup."

Vance: "Do you think to surprise me, revealing his plot?"

Vance: "After all, I was was the one who made it."

Icaria: Rubean refuses to be surprised by anything.

Camena: "Not trying to surprise you, y'er Satrap… ness? Gods, what is the protocol here, again? But no. No surprise. Just trying to suss out for myself what I've been drawn into."

Vance: "My spymaster hires a pack of disreputable foreigners to attack my personal guard in the gala at Tran's estate. I'd have had all the pretext I needed to kill that damn meddler on the spot. Not that I need much pretext, after she sent her elemental spies after me."

Vance: (Elsewhere, Icaria feels a distant pang of conscience.)

Icaria: She?

Vance: Legate Tran is a woman.

Icaria: Oh, she means her.

Camena: "Politics. Why is it always politics?"

Vance: "Not politics. Life and death. The evil I'm driving away is one that Tran convinced us all to set loose upon the world."

Camena: "Well," she says with a whistle. "That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish."

Zanara: "If you must continually sacrifice to it, you are not driving it away," Zanara says. "You are appeasing it."

Icaria: It's interesting in that what she's saying is the opposite of the result of Icaria's analysis.

Svetlana: I thought Icaria's analysis was that something was being kept away from here. That doesn't seem to be the opposite of what Jaspindar is saying, although it doesn't seem quite the same, either.

Vance: "I don't *have* to continually sacrifice to it. But those sentenced to capital punishment have to be killed somehow, and I enjoy hunting."

Icaria: Icaria considered whether the henge was powered by sacrifice, and concluded that it wasn't.

Zanara: "You enjoy it." Zanara's lip curls. "How vile a creature you are."

Icaria: That's why occulting is best left to professionals and random pirates.

Vance: "I am a Prince of the Earth, mortal. Do we call the ordinary people vile for hunting deer and rabbits? It is no different, when I exult in the spear-dance and put the condemned to death."

Svetlana: "In fairness," Evdeniya says, "and in no means as an endorsement, if the crimes are actually committed, and are severe enough, it may be kinder than standard methods of execution."

Camena: "And a fair bit more utilitarian. I mean, when you're in the West, you have to use every part of the sea-buffalo."

Vance: "I'm glad you understand the virtues of my approach. It will make it much easier for you to accept your deaths."

Svetlana: "I am… less convinced that all local criminals committed criminal acts, or that all local capital sentences come from capital crimes, but that is, I suppose, a different matter."

Camena: "Is that where we're circling back to? Because dragons know that we're a decent cat's paw to bring against Tran again."

Svetlana: "It concerns me," Evdeniya says, "that my introduction to this matter came from a falsified smuggling charge, and the one prisoner from here that I met was nothing but a smuggler. I wouldn't actually mount a serious investigation just from this, you understand, but it's on my mind, while I'm here."

Vance: "I don't hunt every single criminal in Gloam. I have to spend some time ruling!"

Camena: "A few desperate rebels fumble an attack against the noble satrap… and then succeed against the poor Legate!"

Vance: Vi speaks like a savant unfolding pages from a tome in the library of her mind. "It shall be a capital crime to unlawfully import, bring, or cause to be brought into the Realm's territories any substance, narcotic or otherwise, which gives rise to the influence of Anathema or otherwise imperils the soul." Jaspindar's smile of pride in her wife's steel-cold delivery is subtle, but joyous. "So, you met the shadowland poppy dealer that broke free. You do know what smoking those does, don't you?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya looks irritable. "You're right," she agrees. "I suppose that is grounds for a case against Majal, and you both if you were in fact cooperating."

Vance: "Magistrates. So caught up in cases, they forget the words 'sovereign immunity.'"

Svetlana: "Enh," Evdeniya says, and waves her hand.

Vance: Vi mimics her, unflatteringly.

Svetlana: "No, no," Evdeniya says. "It's like this."

  • Svetlana waves her hand demonstratively.

Svetlana: She smiles brilliantly. "Practice, practice, practice."

Vance: "Before the execution of the condemned, it's traditional to take their declarations. Have you any?"

Icaria: "Yes."

Icaria: "It appears you plan to kill us. We will probably resist."

Svetlana: "I really don't appreciate your resolving my major concerns immediately before trying to kill me," Evdeniya says, "and would appreciate it if you mentioned something more nefarious on your part so that this will look better in my records."

Vance: "Honorable spirits, it is by no fault of your own that you are bound. I have no wish to kill you, only your masters."

Vance: "Wait, you weren't concerned about me trying to assassinate Tran? I don't have a noble cause for that—I just really hate her for opening the Tomb!"

Icaria: "In the event that we succeed, it would be in the best interests of Gloam to provide us with details on Legate Tran's tomb based dealings so that we may deal with them in your absence."

Icaria: "Should we fail, you obviously lose nothing."

Svetlana: "Unleashing evil sounded really bad," Evdeniya admitted. "I guess I overestimated that. Thank you for the clarification."

Camena: "The spirit has a point."

Vance: (Have the flame duck roll Charisma + Presence.)

Vance: (…or, social influence.)

Icaria: "As for the rest, well… a soldier has her responsibilities."

Vance: (whatever the pool is called.)

Vance: (And what's the duck's Appearance?)

Icaria: Five!

Vance: so add a bonus die for that

Icaria: It's 3.

Icaria: Five successes, Appearance 3.

Svetlana: o O ( So she was making vague plans to make a political maneuver that was probably borderline legal anyway to execute someone who unleashed an evil. I guess I can work with that as a villainous plot, but I sure hope Tran turns out to be the kind of cool person who is better alive. )

Vance: (Note that she said "we" unleashed it, not just Tran.)

Icaria: She murdered like a million people. Or at least >2.

Vance: "No expository monologues before the hunt begins, sorry. Nothing you can do can stop the purification now that it is underway."

Svetlana: Evdeniya feels like she can't actually complain about the murders now that she's going to be potentially one of them because it would be self-serving.

Zanara: "I have only this to say: you may try to hide behind your law, but it will not avail you," Zanara says. "You have been judged by a higher authority… and you have been found wanting."

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Probably time to stunt Joining Battle.

Svetlana: Pretty much the moment things look to be starting Evdeniya thumps the ground twice like a rabbit as her foot turns and sprints away. "Nice chat!"

Svetlana: (with her foot, not her hand.)

Camena: "Let 'em hide behind the law," Camena says, hefting Sevenfold to her shoulder. "There's better things to hide behind." She whips off her dress—that gaudy satrap fakery—and by the time the voluminous silk hits the ground, Camena is gone into the shadows of the brush.

Icaria: "Father taught me to be relentless in judging those who put expediency over dramatic monologue."

Vance: Okay, everyone roll Wits + Awareness with two stunt dice.

Camena: Nope.

Icaria: … wait what

Icaria: Are you leaving me?

Icaria: Vanishing before a battle is the worst!

Camena: I'm rolling Dexterity + Stealth with BLINDING BATTLE FEINT.

Vance: Cunning!

Zanara: 5.

Svetlana: Technically I am not vanishing until my initiative during the battle. Which is, sadly, 4.

Camena: 8 successes, which also counts as a Stealth attempt.

Vance: You successfully hide from both of them.

Icaria: Emeraude starts at 9 initiative and Rubean has six.

Vance: Camena's up first.

Vance: You've got an ambush if you attack.

Camena: Stalking from the shadows, Camena's in a hunter's crouch, taking aim with her flamepiece. "Fucking politicians," she whispers. Mouths, really.

Camena: I'm gonna aim first.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Up next is Emeraude.

Icaria: Emeraude uses Defend Other on Zanara, approving of her no-nonsense attitude towards murder.

Vance: Gonna flurry that with anything?

Icaria: Now doesn't seem like the time.

Vance: Zanara's up, then

Zanara: Choosing which of the two Dynasts to put an arrow into first is not easy, but in the end Zanara chooses Vi, the muscles standing out in perfect relief for a heartbeat as she draws back the arrow—and then, with a twang, it flies!

Vance: Take two stunt dice.

Zanara: 5m personal for the excellency, and… 16. Wow, that was a preposterously lucky roll.

Vance: Dang.

Vance: Is that withering or decisive?

Zanara: Withering, sorry.

Vance: How many 1s did you roll?

Zanara: …right, that matters now. Uh, pretty sure none.

Vance: Okay, she's got 5 soak.

Vance: Roll damage.

Zanara: How many threshold successes did I get?

Vance: Oh, yeah.

Vance: 10 threshold successes.

Zanara: 8.

Vance: That crashes her, so take a total of 14 Initiative.

Vance: Vi's anima flares blue as she tries to block Zanara's arrow, but it flies with incredible precision. A fountain of blood splurts from the joint where the Dragon-Blooded's arm meets her shoulder.

Vance: Svetlana, you and Jaspindar act next, simultaneously.

Svetlana: Do I have to flurry to both move and attack?

Vance: No.

Vance: Moving is reflexive unless you need to do something special, like rush or disengage.

Svetlana: I am guessing I am in short range from Jaspindar?

Vance: Yep.

Svetlana: Time to try these babies out and see what happens! Thump, thump, "Nice chat," and I'm dashing for the cover of the trees, one jade boomerang going before me as a movement stunt so I can hop on and off of it to clear a tangle of brush and one whisking back to conk Jaspindar on the head.

Vance: Take two stunt dice.

Vance: Withering or decisive attack?

Svetlana: Withering.

Vance: Roll it!

Svetlana: 10 successes.

Vance: Hit, with four threshold successes

Vance: She has 14 soak.

Svetlana: Default damage + 4 - 14 in dice?

Icaria: You probably have some Overwhelming.

Vance: Yeah.

Svetlana: Overwhelming 4, base damage 15L. Do I roll 5d?

Vance: 4.

  • Svetlana likes the way that all artifacts of the same size have the same stats these days so that I don't have to interrogate Vance on these things.

Vance: Overwhelming is minimum withering damage.

Svetlana: OK, but do I get to 5d by taking 15L -14 soak + 4 threshold?

Vance: Oh, wait no.

Vance: Yeah, you're right.

Svetlana: 3 successes.

Svetlana: Sorry for the Q&A. ^_^

Vance: NP.

Vance: …and you get 4 Initiative.

Vance: Jaspindar is unhappy to be conked in the head by a boomerang, even if her armor covers the back and side of her skull. It still hurts!

Svetlana: Ooh, and it's a clash!

Svetlana: Wait, only if she attacks me.

Vance: She advances towards you, coming into close range with Zanara (as well as the still unseen Camena). She wields her direlance like a monk with a staff, striking at the Zenith with the spearhead while using its haft to protect not only herself but Vi's blind spots.

Camena: Don't forget that it was her boomerang!

Vance: (She's flurrying an attack against Zanara and a Defend Other on Vi.)

Svetlana: Of course it was. A boomerang always returns, one way or another.

Svetlana: In this case, another.

Icaria: Possibly she forgot about Emeraude.

Svetlana: She probably thought she was just another patch of forest.

Vance: Indeed!

Vance: What's Emeraude's Parry?

Zanara: (for the record, I have Evasion 4 and a big ol' pile of Initiative for Reed-on-the-Wind-ing.)

Icaria: Among other things, giving her five extra soak.

Icaria: It's five, and she's going to use Unbroken Root Endurance.

Icaria: So, 15 soak and 3 Hardness.

Vance: As the greenmaw interposes its coils around Zanara, Jaspindar resigns herself to stabbing away at the elemental, running along its serpentine length and puncturing it here and there with her direlance.

Vance: Emeraude takes 4 Initiative damage.

Vance: Rubean's up.

Icaria: Such is life.

Vance: It also catches on fire, taking one more Initiative damage!

Vance: (I forgot to roll for a Charm, gomen.)

Icaria: "Oh, yes. Fire."

Icaria: Rubean takes a fluttering leap into Emeraude's branches, just out of reach, and preens her feathered hair. Burning Feather Spirit, go!

Vance: All right, Rubean powers up.

Camena: (Wait, isn't Burning Feather the Booze Goddess?)

Svetlana: DRUNKEN ELEMENTAL FIST.

Vance: Finally, Vi moves to join her wife in battle, fighting against the greenmaw back-to-back as they try to hack at Zanara.

Icaria: No dammit I am a serious character!

Vance: (Also flurrying defend other with a withering attack at Zanara by way of Emeraude.)

Icaria: And a tree.

Icaria: Also.

Vance: Is Emeraude using the soak booster?

Icaria: Yeah, it's scene long.

Vance: She deals one point of Initiative damage ;_;

Vance: Okay, round over, everyone gets 5 motes back.

Icaria: Never fight without bringing a tree.

Svetlana: I have infinity times as many motes!

Vance: Round 2 starts with Zanara and her ridiculous Initiative modifier.

Zanara: Surrounded as she is by Emeraude's coils, and with two Dragon-Blooded charging her, escape seems unlikely—but then, retreat has never been Zanara's style. "Guide my arrow in its flight," she whispers as she draws the string back, aiming carefully between Emeraude's coils.

Vance: Take two stunt dice.

Zanara: Decisive attack on Vi—let's finish this.

Zanara: Respiration is 5m per round, yes?

Vance: Yeah.

Vance: She is still defended by Jaspindar (they're using a Charm).

Vance: So you'll have to get through both parries to hit Vi.

Zanara: Okay. 8m personal on excellency, and… 13.

Vance: You overcome Jaspindar's Parry. Do you want to attack her, or try to hit Vi with your remaining successes?

Icaria: Vi is also defending Jaspindar, correct?

Vance: Yes.

Zanara: If I go for Jaspindar, that's still decisive, yes?

Vance: Yeah.

Icaria: Curse you, mutual reflexive parry!

Zanara: Hm. Yeah. Yeah, let's leave it there and go for Jaspindar.

Vance: Also, you'll take a -3 penalty on damage if you pick Vi.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: You easily overcome her hardness.

Vance: Roll damage.

Zanara: Straight initiative, yes?

Vance: Yup.

Zanara: So 22 dice, and… 11.

Vance: Zanara's arrow catches Jaspindar in the throat, one of the few unarmored spots on her body. She falls backward in a fit of shock, blood gushing from her mouth.

Vance: She is Incapacitated, but not dead yet.

Vance: Zanara resets to Initiative 3.

Vance: Camena and Svetlana, you're up next.

Icaria: Throat armor, people.

Icaria: So important.

Icaria: Still, it's to be expected from a monologue hater.

Camena: Camena's eye flashes for a fraction of a moment as she trains her sight on Vi, center-mass. It's a clean shot, a beautiful shot. "I tried to be reasonable," she says, and feels her frustration fuel the reagents within Sevenfold, its barrel limned by gold and black for just a second until—BANG! It first a clean breath of many-colored fire.

Vance: Take two stunt dice.

Camena: (I think I'm gonna go… does decisive get any threshold anymore?)

Vance: (Not by default.)

Camena: (Withering then. Dig her in deeper.)

Vance: She is crashed.

Vance: There's only so deep you can dig.

Camena: (What was her soak?)

Vance: (She's unarmored, so probably low.)

Camena: (Fine, then, decisive.)

Vance: Okey-dokey.

Svetlana: Svetlana flashes a glance back over her shoulder, turns it into a full turn, and stumbles backwards to a halt. "We're… not running?" she marvels. If she's reached Medium Range at this point, she'll admire this factoid while aiming at Vi. (If she hasn't, then she probably stops with the back of her foot braced against a tree root at the end of a move, blinks a few times, shrugs, and goes "OK… " as she launches another skycutter at Vi. Apparently, this would have to be decisive? But it's only relevant if I'm still at Close Range, which I don't think I am.)

Svetlana: (But I don't know range very well, so I might be.)

Vance: (You can pick whether you want to go to medium range, or stay at short and throw a skycutter.)

Svetlana: Medium, and aiming, then.

Vance: KK.

Vance: Camena, go ahead and roll.

Camena: Sorry, my diceroller broke Chrome.

Vance: Yare, yare.

Camena: 12.

Vance: Hit.

Camena: Her soak?

Vance: Irrelevant.

Vance: Just roll initiative.

Icaria: And that was the story of how our group was responsible for Terrestrials getting buffed.

Camena: O-o! 8!

Svetlana: (Svetlana slowly discovers that possibly being a part of a circle of Solar Exalted requires less running than being part of the Magistracy of Hares.)

Icaria: Although admittedly this was three to two, plus a tree and a duck.

Vance: Vi is badly burnt by the firewand's blast, the entire left side of her face scarring, but still she stands. Tears of rage stream from her eyes.

Vance: Rubean's turn.

Camena: Damn Terrestrial Ox-Bodies.

Icaria: Rubean screeches like an angry swan and dives south for Vi's heart.

Svetlana: (Wait, she has a heart?)

Icaria: We'll soon know.

Icaria: Five successes. Hopefully I benefit from onslaught.

Vance: You hit.

Vance: By one, if it's withering.

Icaria: No, decisive. I thought I couldn't wither much further.

Vance: Just in case.

Icaria: I've got six initiative but I can double tens since she's below me.

Vance: KK.

Icaria: Three damage successes.

Vance: Vi is wounded, blood hissing from the gashes in her skin, but still she stands. Tossing aside her daiklave, she gathers up Jaspindar's huddled form in both arms and recedes back along the wilderness path.

Vance: She is now at medium range to most of you, and even further from Svetlana.

Vance: End of the round, everyone get 5 motes

Icaria: Well, duck her anyway.

Icaria: Incorrect!

Icaria: Emeraude gets a turn.

Icaria: And grapples.

Vance: Oh, yeah

Vance: Go ahead and grapple, Emeraude

Vance: You there, @randbrittain?

Icaria: Emeraude is a dutiful daughter.

Icaria: She thinks wistfully of all the things she pleased her father by not eating.

Icaria: But this is not one of them.

Icaria: And she's hungry.

Vance: Take two stunt dice.

Icaria: Six successes, then.

Vance: Hit.

Vance: Roll Initiative for the gambit against difficulty 2.

Vance: (Hmm… in theory, the cost of the gambit crashes Emeraude. But let's not think about that now.)

Icaria: Ah, I forgot about that.

Vance: (I'll have it crash her, but not give the break to Vi, because that would be silly.)

Icaria: Two exactly.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Now roll for control.

Svetlana: (Head like a knoll green as your soul.)

Camena: … ?

Vance: (Ya gottta pay the troll toll to get into this boy's soul.)

Svetlana: (Emeraude's head is probably like a knoll, because it's probably grassy! And her soul is green. And perhaps she'd rather die than give Vi control (of the grapple.) Thus the Nine Inch Nails filk.)

Svetlana: (Now it has been explained in depth to Elliott.)

Svetlana: (Making it much funnier.)

Camena: (Note to self: Never play with writers.)

Vance: (Her head is like a Venus flytrap.)

Icaria: Just three.

Svetlana: (Lovely.)

Vance: (Except the tongue is one of these.)

Vance: Okay…

Vance: Vi's thews surge with the Essence of her foremothers, filling her with strength to wrestle the giant elemental.

Vance: She beats your control round, but you still get this turn to take your pick of savaging, throwing, holding, etc.

Camena: Throw her at Camena, with the gun cocked and ready!

Icaria: Can I eat Jaspindar?

Vance: Hmm.

Vance: Vi is holding her, so I'd say you can attack her

Vance: But you're crashed, so you can't make decisives.

Svetlana: Eating the satrap might be against the law of the Realm.

Vance: Eating someone sounds like a decisive.

Camena: I think we might be slightly outside Imperial jurisdiction.

Icaria: She's not resisting.

Vance: You can throw Vi away and keep Jaspindar by you.

Zanara: Zanara would be upset but it's not like she's telepathic.

Vance: But you can't just eat her.

Camena: I mean… at this point is combat time still appropriate?

Icaria: Do I have to make another roll to throw her?

Vance: Vi is still up and fighting.

Vance: Yes, but it's just a win more roll.

Vance: You can't fail.

Vance: In this case it works just like a normal withering attack.

Svetlana: It does seem likely that we can take her down before she escapes, but it's true that it's not certain.

Vance: You could also hold her so she can't act.

Icaria: I'll hold her, then.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Now it's the end of the round, and everyone gets 5 motes.

Vance: Next up is Svetlana.

Svetlana: Even from here, I can hear every creak and shift of her armor as she wrestles with the greenmaw, and feel every movement of the wind as it moves between us. That's all I need.

Svetlana: Decisive Attack, 4m excellency.

Vance: Hoo, boy, her Parry is low.

Vance: Roll it.

Svetlana: 6 successes.

Vance: And take one Willpower for a two-point stunt.

Vance: Now roll Initiative for damage.

Svetlana: Straight initiative and nothing else?

Vance: Yep.

Svetlana: 7 damage.

Vance: There are a whole bunch of bones in the face, jaw, and surrounding regions that are really important, and all of Vi's just got broken. She collapses into agonized unconsciousness.

  • Vance plays victory music.

Vance: Let's have a quick intermission for me to eat dinner in.

Svetlana: Dinner does provide important nutrition.

Icaria: Hah, my dare came true. Nobody flared anima.

Vance: That was some very valuable playtest data, so thank you all.

Zanara: A lesson well learned—Excellencies are really terrifying.

Camena: Yep.

Camena: And I am now a fan of Phantom Arrow.

Icaria: Buff dragon-blooded, nerf greenmaws.

Vance: They never got to use their strongest charms, because the elemental aura mechanic was still too clunky to set up.

Camena: Or is it because we were just too awesome?

Vance: Also that.

Icaria: A lot of things are clunky when you're outnumbered, by Solars, and there are other fighters fighting you who are not Solars on top of that.

Icaria: Even their marry-parry wasn't enough to fight off three Excellencies.

Camena: Somehow, at the end of the last session, I discovered that Camena has a genteel Southern accent.

Zanara: Discovering things about your characters is so much fun.

Camena: Indeed.

Icaria: I discovered that Icaria is daft, apparently.

Camena: You don't really know them until Session Seven.

Svetlana: I am not sure whether we are overpowering but fragile, or if we're just overpowering and I have an exaggerated feeling of fragility from my test combat against Emeraude before the game started.

Camena: Hahaha.

Zanara: I am pretty sure Zanara's a glass cannon of the most refined order.

Zanara: But that is why she has her army, and why she recruits constantly. Speaking of which, does anyone here actually have Medicine?

Icaria: Well, it was a test combat against Emeraude and also me, before you had an artifact weapon, so.

Icaria: I don't, or if I do it's one dot.

Vance: One dot means you have the Excellency, Mr. Twilight.

Icaria: Well, I don't have that one dot.

Icaria: Also, I'm not here.

Vance: Alas.

Icaria: Instead I eat her.

Icaria: Emeraude wraps her long, sticky tongue around Jaspindar's leg and begins the complicated process of shucking her out of her armor like an oyster.

Icaria: Unless someone stops her, which I suppose is likely.

Zanara: Zanara will probably do the Zenith Thing.

Camena:

Zanara: Spirits are spirits but eating people is kind of off-putting.

Icaria: You can't sanctify her corpse after I eat it.

Icaria: Or maybe you mean rescue her.

Svetlana: I have Medicine.

Camena: Camena begins procuring the Satrap's regalia, with mild distaste at Emeraude.

Svetlana: And the Excellency.

Zanara: Principle: Everyone deserves a second chance. (Defining)

Zanara: So yeah, she would.

Vance: Are you just stripping the satrap?

Camena: "…so, we just killed two Dragons dead. Anyone want to fathom what the Hells we do next?"

Camena: Yeah.

Camena: Strip 'er good.

Svetlana: Svetlana is also disinclined to let her eat the satrap.

Icaria: We're going to the gala, come hell or high water.

Icaria: Camena…

Vance: Not dead yet!

Icaria: You shall go to the ball.

Zanara: "Save them, if we can," Zanara says, relaxing her bow. "Can anyone remove an arrow from someone's throat without killing them? I confess I've never learned the knack."

Svetlana: Who is not actually dead, I think.

Icaria: "MMmmMmmmm," says Emeraude, whose tongue is occupied.

Icaria: "She says she can fix that," translates Rubean.

Vance: You're able to get Jaspindar's spear, but pulling the armor off of her is gonna take at least a feat of strength.

Vance: It is heavy.

Icaria: Oooh, I have strength magic!

Camena: "Can't say I much agree with letting the pair of them leave."

Camena: "Or live."

Camena: "Hell, at this point, love isn't even on the table for them."

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders the arrow. Is that why you were asking about Medicine?

Vance: You lack opposable thumbs .

Icaria: I have a tongue which is long and flexible.

Camena: I know where this is going.

Icaria: I wrap it delicately around a few crucial flex points in the joints of the armor.

Icaria: Then, I squeeze. It's basically like cracking open a boiled peanut.

Svetlana: "Emeraude, don't eat anyone until we've discussed it properly."

  • Icaria uses Gratuitious Southernisms, and also Thousandfold Serpent Strength.

Svetlana: Svetlana, assertive vaguely willing to indicate her preferences

  • Icaria continues shucking the satrap but will refrain from actually devouring her. For now.

Zanara: "They have seen what comes of following the unrighteous path. They deserve the chance to embrace the light." Zanara says this much as one might describe the way in which water is wet.

Vance: The greenmaw manages to shuck Jaspindar's unconscious body free of her armor. Unfortunately for Camena, the satrap doesn't appear inclined to wear jewelry to the hunt—only a simple leather tunic.

Icaria: Fortunately I think we already stole enough jewelry for a good impersonation.

Camena: Camena looks at her with a cocked eyebrow. "Really? You want to talk righteous to a Dragon? You tried that much before, friend? Because they've got all the righteous in themselves that they can handle, and there's no room for anything else."

Zanara: "I have more."

Vance: @jennamoran: roll Perception + Medicine to diagnose the severity of their wounds.

Camena: "Doubts a'plenty on that."

Camena: She takes out Sevenfold, pointing it damn close to the satrap.

Svetlana: "The more compelling point," Svetlana says, "is that I'd like to think we don't have to regard ourselves as murderous bandits. We have successfully defended ourselves. It's possible that execution is the righteous course, but killing them for convenience doesn't sit right."

Svetlana: 3 successes.

Zanara: "I have a system," Zanara says, "and thus far it has worked. I intend to offer them a choice."

Camena: "Fun stuff, lady. You have fun with them. I'm gonna offer them a conflagration instead, preferably whilst prone."

Vance: The arrow is lodged deep in Jaspindar's throat, but not beyond retrieval?it would take a deft hand to break off the arrowhead from inside of her throat before withdrawing the shaft, but it could be done.

Icaria: "Father favors killing them," says Rubean, possibly utilizing mysterious occult insight or possibly just making up what she thinks Icaria would say.

Camena: "Two to two. Deadlocked, so to speak."

Vance: Vi's wounds are somewhat less severe. The burn scars on the left side of her face are beyond salvage, but the lacerations can be dealt with.

Camena: Shit-eater grin.

Icaria: "Oh, no, vote I for that, too."

Icaria: "Think I we all know what Emeraude wants."

Svetlana: Oh, it. The worst that happens is that I waste my recovered Essence on someone who dies a minute later. 4m on… Dexterity + Medicine?… to deal with the arrowhead.

Camena: "Chosen only, noble spirit."

Zanara: "This is not a vote," Zanara says. "This is a question of what is righteous, and murdering those who cannot defend themselves is exceptionally not righteous."

Icaria: "Sounds like something her with the arrow in she throat would say," challenges Rubean.

Vance: Dexterity + Medicine makes sense in this context

Icaria: To Camena, I mean, not Zanara.

Camena: Camena shrugs, Sevenfold still leveled at the Satrap one moment, then Vi. She's casual about it, more than hesitant.

Camena: "I wasn't aware that you were the sole arbiter of what is Righteous, darling. Or that Righteous mattered in a world such as this. This is what Righteous looks like, this pair of prim, plucked Dragons. Them and their whole Realm."

Icaria: "Well, us aren't they," says Rubean, forced to flip-flop by this argument.

Icaria: It appears she is still her father's daughter.

Svetlana: I am uncertain as to correct medical procedure here, which makes a stunt attempt hard. I don't think an arm can go down a throat, so… widen the hole slightly and then reach in with tools, which are ironically probably lockpicks, and snap? "Something something the real treasure is inside of us," she mutters as she pulls another lockpick out from the handful she's got stuck between her teeth.

Vance: Take two dice!

Svetlana: 5 successes.

Icaria: Emeraude offers a sticky tongue as potential assistance.

Zanara: "They may call what they do righteous. That does not make it so. And as I was told to go forth and make this world a righteous place, my judgement does rather matter."

Vance: Svetlana successfully extricates the arrow from Jaspindar's throat, though none can say how. The satrap is still unconscious, but breathing.

Svetlana: "Technically," Svetlana says, pocketing the arrowhead as a souvenir, "they were told that too, although I'm not sure they listened."

Svetlana: Svetlana fixes up Jaspindar's throat-hole with some plaster normally meant for bulking up noses. But, hey, it's actually sterile.

Camena: "It's not in me to trust a soul that sings their own righteousness," Camena says to Zanara. "What about you, Svetlana. Trust enough in you, at least."

Svetlana: Svetlana looks at Zanara. Then she shrugs and looks back to Camena. "To be honest, her moral center seems pretty good."

Camena: Camena looks down, sighs, and then contents herself with giving Japindar a good smack to the shoulder with Sevenfold's barrel.

Svetlana: She blinks, a moment later, and grins. "And thank you for the trust."

Camena: "When this bites us, remember it was righteous."

Zanara: "If you do not trust me, trust instead in He who Chose us both," Zanara says. "I do."

Camena: "Ugggh. Righteousness is fine, if the only other offer on hand is piety."

Svetlana: Svetlana stifles a laugh.

Vance: Cut to Icaria, at the sanctum of city father Last Light Fading.

Icaria: "Man, I bet the others are so bored right now."

Vance: The rest of you, feel free to insert yourself as characters at any point.

Svetlana: "I think life'll always bite," Svetlana says. "It's why I bother having it bite me for bringing magisterial justice instead of for being a random girl."

Camena: That's definitely worth an appreciative smirk from Camena.

Camena: She emotes: "Yeah girl. You do you."

Icaria: That's the opposite of what she's doing!

Vance: Last Light Fading has the coarse stubble (now whitened) and the calluses of a seafarer, his language rife with docktown vernacular. He is stooped-over and seems weary, reclining on a mound of pillows as his supplicants offer up prayers.

Vance: "Now, when did you get here? And who are you?"

Icaria: I offer up a prayer of humility and my usual grade of sincerity.

Icaria: "I am a wandering hero, noble father. Please tell me about your problems."

Vance: "Gloam and I have no problems, ha ha ha." His chuckle is a wheeze of immortal breath. "The Dragons have come, and still the city does just fine. Trade is plenty, disasters few, and the people pray to the gods. What could be better than that? Now, remind me, when did you get here?"

Icaria: "I just appeared, by magic," says Icaria, who hates remembering what lies he's told.

Icaria: "Here, I'm going to examine you."

  • Icaria does this, carefully looking the old fellow over for signs of weird occult phenomena.

Vance: Perception + Occult.

Icaria: I'll spend four motes and get seven successes.

Vance: That's a bunch.

Vance: Okay, so the aging process does not apply to gods, at least not in any way that makes sense from a human frame of reference.

Vance: While the city father's physical form is aged, it's no less healthy than that of Ahlat, or Iztlicoyotal the Dog-Headed Skeleton God.

Vance: But still, something isn't right with this spirit, and it has the semblance of elderliness to it.

Vance: You think this may be irrevocable damage.

Icaria: It would be rather odd for a city to be so afflicted with the inauspicious and have something not be wrong.

Vance: "I remember when wandering heroes would come into the god-realms like you did. I had heard whispers, from the docks. Surely you are one of the Sun's Chosen."

Icaria: "Well, obviously."

Vance: Would anyone like to appear as someone who overheard that last part?

Icaria: "I thought I said. And you must be the city father of Gloam! Hey, did you know the entire city's dragon lines are inauspicious beyond anything I've ever seen before?"

Icaria: "It's a problem."

Vance: "You mean the Tomb of the Anathema, the mischief of those foolish Dragons. Yes, I can feel it. But those same Dragons have made this city unsafe for you, Exalt. The Wyld Hunt has killed before in Gloam. You must walk differently than those who came before you."

  • Svetlana isn't sufficiently confident in how people react to such things and who is around.

Vance: You have total creative license to make up a person.

Vance: Maybe if you tried to show up as Ligier or Venus or Mecha-Unconquered Sun.

Icaria: "But it took so long to spike my hair up again… "

Camena: A small woman, young and stern with eyes so pale and gray that they seem almost like ivory makes a small bow towards Icaria when she hears the Father mention the chosen of the sun.

Vance: "Now, if you want to run out of this town, and on the way out just happen to pass by the Tomb of the Anathema, maybe you could help us all out. I'll show you where it… well, give me a moment, my memory isn't what it used to be."

  • Icaria points helpfully.

Icaria: "I would be especially interested to know who happens to be buried in it, and also why someone decided to open it."

Vance: "Ah! Yes, that's just right."

Vance: "Well, the Tomb of the Anathema goes back before my time—and that was pretty long ago, I tell you what, ha ha. It was a prison for some forbidden god, somebody Heaven didn't like. There's gossip about who exactly it is, but I know how my memory is, why bother listening to gossip I'll forget by bedtime?"

Icaria: "Oh, I know it."

Vance: "Those five Dragon-Blooded opened it—only the Chosen could break the seal, you see. I don't know what's going on in there, but it feels like an itch between my eyes and my tongue."

Icaria: "Well, perhaps whatever lives inside will have more exposition."

Vance: "What are you, brought up by raksha? Don't talk about reality like it's a thing of dreams and fiction. It's rude."

  • Icaria considers. That would actually explain a lot.

Icaria: Still.

Svetlana: "Pardon," a woman in the audience protests, after having spent some time working up the nerve to speak, "but it was conclusively proven over a hundred and twenty years ago in Meditations on the Transitions of the Cosmos that the 'Sun's Chosen' referenced in the old texts were a metaphorical representation of the zeitgeist—a kind of escape valve and counterforce for society's anxieties regarding the Anathema. You can't actually be one."

Icaria: "I feel like a pervasive bloody-minded prejudice in favor of realism explains many of the world's troubles."

Icaria: "How can justice or righteousness happen if we don't stand up for dreams?"

Vance: "Don't remember them ever having happened. Now, defend your existence to the lady in the procession. Remind me, ma'am, what's your name?"

Svetlana: "Irina Magdalena," she says. "Milord. Archivist."

Vance: "Gloam's archives are its seventh-greatest pride." the god approves.

Icaria: "The answer, Irina, is simple. Your story aptly demonstrates that people have long dreamed of the Sun's Chosen, who might save them from injustice and so forth."

Icaria: "Eventually this earnest wish created a new reality."

Icaria: "And thus, here we are."

Svetlana: She smiles at the god. "We'll topple the breweries yet," she says, and then turns to Icaria. "As for your proposition, I cannot help but notice that beggars do not, in fact, ride."

Icaria: "I'm a work in progress."

Svetlana: "If earnest wishes gave rise to reality," Irina says, "then, as the dead outnumbered the living, one would expect to see the dreams of the dead manifesting rather sooner. One would expect to see an arms race among the more informed gods and Dragon-Blooded to wish that they would be earnestly better at wishing. One would expect that a city of a hundred thousand people would be less vulnerable to disease, per person, than a city of a hundred. Yet 'the dead mourn forever, incapable of achieving their ambitions', as per Cadus; the Dragon-Blooded reject the ideal of wishing, preferring action, as per the motto of the Royal Academy; and according to the census papers for Nexus and Little Whitling, the only cities whose disease statistics I have seen in detail—well, to be honest, I would have to review them again."

Svetlana: "For all that I wish it were not so."

Svetlana: "The only conclusion one can draw," Irina says, in conclusion, "is that you do not exist!" She points defiantly at Icaria, having forgotten for the moment that that was not what she was proving.

Icaria: "I admit that the system is imperfect," sulks Icaria, "but this attitude is not helping."

  • Vance cuts back to the rest of the circle.

Vance: But as we end the scene: does Icaria sincerely believe in his argument?

Icaria: No, he just isn't in a position to disprove solipsism.

Vance: No intimacies for you!

Vance: Back at the wilderness in the satrap's palace, it's been about an hour since you defeated the two Dragon-Blooded. The wild beasts have proven easy enough to ward off, and so far, none of her personal bodyguards or soldiers seem to have entered into the wilderness-chamber. Your two captives remain unconscious.

Zanara: Zanara would like to deal with the mound of corpses in the meantime. Proper ceremony and all that, even if it's not a terribly lavish one.

Svetlana: That's a great idea.

Icaria: As local geomancer, I support this initiative.

Vance: Oh, my, you pick up a great host of Intimacies, don't you?

Zanara: Yes, probably. Going to be a while passing those on. Unless I dump them on one of the individuals responsible.

Icaria: Oh, man, can you dump all of them on the satrap?

Camena: Camena works to tie the scoundrel Terrestrials up, but seeing the inadequacy of that, she also gets Emeraude to sit on them.

Zanara: (Well, I don't have to, be let's be honest, this is Zanara.)

Vance: I think the dead here are all similarly situated, in terms of unfinished business.

Vance: As you guide their shades towards Lethe, you feel their intense, burning hatred for Jaspindar.

Vance: (This will be a major intimacy instead of a minor.)

Svetlana: There are probably at least a few who had people they left behind. Or if not, that's actually pretty good information.

Zanara: Noted.

Vance: There are also some everyday life intimacies that we can detail if you wanna sidequest.

Zanara: (May we ignore that I would be completely tapped of Essence for doing this? Haha.)

Vance: But 'fuck that guy' is the gist of the unfinished business.

Vance: (We'll say you regain it over the hour.)

Svetlana: "Ironically," Svetlana says to Camena, unable to help with this after some initial assistance getting the bodies from pile to line if that was desirable, "I kind of suspect that we want to deal with Tran next."

Vance: So, while Zanara's doing that, who is dealing with the lions how?

Camena: "Will we be dealing with her in a similar fashion?"

Svetlana: I guess it depends on what the lions do when we go over there and when we start depleting their pile. When Jaspindar said they wouldn't attack people Svetlana lost interest in killing them.

Icaria: Well, I mean, they're ordinary lions, no?

Icaria: If Rubean walks over and glares at them while on fire I'd guess they probably flee.

Icaria: I mean, I'd rather not fight a lion but they probably don't want to fight someone who's on fire.

Svetlana: "I still don't really know what this evil that they unleashed is," Svetlana says. "And I don't know how culpable she is, how remorseful she is, or in fact anything else about her but that she was a key part in unleashing it."

Icaria: "Also that her really enjoys killing people."

Svetlana: "Tran?"

Svetlana: Svetlana sorts through her memories, trying to find when Tran killed someone.

Icaria: "Oh, sorry, thought I you meant the people we was currently trying to figure out what to do with."

Vance: The fire elemental chases some lions around in the background.

Icaria: "Well, Tran is probably evil, too, statistically speaking."

Svetlana: "Agreed. Statistically speaking."

Camena: "Mathemalevolence."

Svetlana: "Normally I'd want to leave at least someone in power in power for continuity," Svetlana says. "But hopefully Zanara's rebellion has some sort of plan there, which opens up the possibility of cleaning out the entire government. I don't know how I'm going to write that up in my report, though."

Icaria: "And then I cleaned out the entire government, with help from my most excellent friends Rubean and Icaria, and others, and made Zanara the queen."

Camena: "I mean, I could step in as a figurehead," Camena says, holding a mask that she'd fashioned up. The mask looks eerily like Jaspindar. What did she even make it out of? When did she make it?

  • Vance gives Camena 1 silver crafting XP.

Icaria: "Though, indeed, becoming the new satrap is probably easier. Be she wife at the same time, you could!"

Svetlana: "I guess," Svetlana says. "I actually got really happy about the fact that we could easily impersonate Jaspindar and Vi, only, then, I realized that there's like, two people left worth fooling and I haven't even met one of them yet."

Zanara: "I have no desire to be a queen," Zanara says quietly, sitting on the ground and glaring at Jaspindar. "And if we are fortunate, no deception will be necessary."

Vance: @jennamoran roll Perception + Awareness.

Svetlana: 4 successes, or 5 at reduced difficulty if it's hearing.

Camena: "I could be queen," Camena protests, half-hearted. "I've got leadership experience. Someone had to keep my Sparrows in line, you know, with all the international art theft."

Vance: You hear the footfalls of a large group of armored soldiers?the same make as the model used by the satrap's troops, from the timbre of it. They're still miles away from you, in this pocket-realm, and their direction is aimless, not seeming to have picked up on your trail yet.

Icaria: "It looks like you'd better be the satrap first."

Vance: You recognizes voices: Majal's, and that of the nameless figure who led Cloud Tortoise's platoon into battle.

Svetlana: "Soldiers coming," Svetlana advises, with a rough advisory on direction and distance.

Camena: "Frag."

Zanara: "…alright," Zanara says, rising and hoisting the still-unconscious Vi onto her shoulders. "Let's find somewhere a bit less exposed to wait for them to come around."

Icaria: "MmmmmMm," says Emeraude.

Svetlana: "Mm," Svetlana agrees. She comes up with the idea of circling around them and going back through the manor, but then discards it as silly.

Camena: Camena grabs the regalia of the nearly-nude satrap and disappears behind a tall, angled hedge that looks suspiciously like a dressing screen. There are sounds. Not loud ones. Not the kind to attract attention. But sounds. These are not getting dressed sounds. Whatever they are, though, they prove… efficacious.

Icaria: "No, them wouldn't," says Rubean. "Not unless you left part of they behind, which you never do."

Camena: The Satrap emerges.

Svetlana: Svetlana wrestles with whether to become Vi or have motes.

Zanara: "…I think I shall never get used to that," Zanara says, staring.

Camena: "Uggh. It smells like righteous."

Camena: "Oh! Oh! Yes, wait, one second… "

Camena: Camena digs around in the Satrap's gown, pulling out a filigreed fan. She claps it open and fans herself gently, practicing her best resting contempt face.

Svetlana: realizes that Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise would cause anima flare even if she used it, which would… be awkward.

Camena: "Can you point me in their direction, dear? I'll go… divert them. Or something. My method is pretty organic."

Svetlana: Svetlana points. "Warning: they're wandering, and sound bounces, so that bearing's not perfect. Do you need backup?"

Camena: "Oh, right. You're Imperial."

Svetlana: "I was more wondering if you wanted Vi," Svetlana says, "or someone following a minute or two behind you."

Svetlana: "Though I can be a Magistrate, or a Magistrate-captive, too, sure."

Camena: "It may be wise, but I thought we might explain the… you know, the break-in… as something of a lover's quarrel."

Vance: Anyone who wants to, roll Perception + Socialize.

Svetlana: "All right," Svetlana says. "Then I'll follow as I am, out of sight range. If that's all right with both of you."

  • Svetlana includes Zanara in that.

Zanara: All four dice of it. Three successes.

Svetlana: 2 successes.

Camena: 2.

Vance: From the brief time she spent watching Jaspindar and Vi interact, Zanara is fairly certain it'd be impossible to pass those two off as having a lover's quarrel—they visibly adored each other.

Vance: You suspect this will be the downfall of Camena's ruse.

Camena: (Like they could break my disguise!)

Zanara: "The arrow that pierced Jaspindar's throat was meant for Vi, and that was no accident on her part. If one would die for the other… "

Camena: "Fair point, Righteous."

Vance: (Based on sleepytime needs, I am gonna try and finish in about an hour.)

Svetlana: Svetlana does not think she's going to be extremely helpful if Camena gets into trouble, but she does think she can lead Camena back to Zanara after it works or doesn't, even if Zanara winds up moving further.

Camena: Yeah, Camena is heading towards the soldiers, based on Svetlana's recommendations.

Svetlana: Svetlana aims to keep cover and medium range between herself and Camena for the early part of the trip, when there's a chance she might have to move up to suggest a course correction; after that, she aims to keep cover and long range between herself and Camena. No point in being caught out because someone in their group has good ears too or something.

Vance: Camena (under Svetlana's watchful eye) comes across the patrol of soldiers abruptly amidst the trees. The soldiers who find her immediately recognize her as the satrap, and there was a great stirring of the chain of command. Soon, she is brought to the leaders of the apparent exploration—Lord Majordomo Majal, who seems genuinely relieved to see her; the nondescript man from before, whose robes bear House Nellens' mon; and a brawny-looking man whose shaved head has begun to grow back hair, the stereotypical hallmark of a disgraced Immaculate monk.

Vance: Majal takes Camena's hand in his. "It's so good to see you safe, Lady Jaspindar. You left without warning."

Camena: "As is my prerogative," she replies. Never say more than you need, if you need to avoid something you shouldn't.

Vance: "What was it your father said? 'A good ruler is like a goat—stubborn as hell, and goes wherever they want.'"

Camena: "Mmm," she non-replies, instead taking interest in the gathered forces. "And did you imagine I might need rescuing. Perhaps with an entire wing of soldiers?"

Vance: "As I recall, your exact orders were"—Majal's voice takes on a menacing tone.—"'We know that one of them can change their shape, so surround the entire building with soldiers to keep them from escaping.' The real Jaspindar hates her father. He dishonored his House, and she flinches uncontrollably when she hears the name."

Vance: "She left us with a great deal of warning indeed. So where is she?"

Svetlana: Svetlana takes aim at Majal.

Vance: @jennamoran Roll Dexterity + Stealth.

Camena: "Hmm? I'm afraid I don't take your meaning, spymaster."

Svetlana: 3 successes, plus any benefit from being at long range and with whatever cover I could maintain.

Vance: You are unseen.

Vance: "When I interrogated Moon Tortoise, she did in fact prove to be a traitor, but had no memory of the attack on the satrap's carriage or the attempt to kidnap her. It was one clue. There were others—that shiny golden gun of yours was the first, and lying about serving in the legions was the second. Which one are you, hmm? The magistrate? The sorcerer? No matter. For whatever reason, instead of doing the job I paid you to do, you tried to kidnap the satrap, and now you're impersonating her. An explanation would really just help all of us out right now, friend."

Vance: Majal is on the offensive, but his posture and tone are not actually threatening—you don't sense any violent intent.

Camena: "Come closer," Camena whispers. "Closer. You've got an army arrayed around you, and I'm as vulnerable as a hare. But if you really want to know—" she steps closer, every motion strung tight with verve and authority and wicked delight. "I was curious."

Svetlana: This is going to be a tricky shot, Svetlana ponders. I can angle off that tree there, I guess. It sort of looks like that soldier's in the way, but it sounds like he's about to shift his feet. Shouldn't blow Camena's game if she still has something. I wonder if I can catch her about to act before he does?

Vance: Svetlana can hear the disgraced monk mutter that he might as well be consorting with Anathema now under his breath.

Vance: "Hm. Are you trying to seduce me? Not interested."

  • Svetlana reads intentions to see if Camena was trying to signal her with that hare/vulnerability comment.

Vance: "Don't let the soldiers intimidate you. They're here for leverage—I don't actually mean to harm you. If you can do exactly as I request, you walk out of here a free citizen of Gloam, and you never feel the breath of the Wyld Hunt coming down your neck."

Camena: "Any other day, I'd have a finger chopped off for that," she said, turning on her heel. "Probably one you really like, Majal. But in all of this, the webs within webs, the petty rebels and the unfortunate interlopers who caught themselves between us all, haven't you ever wondered, dear?"

  • Camena ignores his proposal for a moment.

Vance: "Still playing games. If you want to convince me that you're the satrap, just tell me how many times we've made love, and where. I'm sure that's easy to answer."

  • Camena snorts.

Camena: "Never and nowhere and if the number could go lower, I pray to Sextes it would."

Vance: "Well, technically correct, but still wrong. When we're in our cups, the real Jaspindar is maliciously overt about finding me attractive."

Camena: "I like a fine bit of porcelain too, but that doesn't mean I want to get wrist-deep in the stuff."

Vance: "Which is to say that we are close friends, the satrap and I, and that if you can give her and her wife to me alive, I will be a happy man."

Camena: "Well, now, there's quite the little lie," she said, closing the distance between them again. "You've never struck me as the type who has ever or will ever be a happy man. And that's all you want from me, then? The return of myself and my beloved?"

Vance: "I've slept with more lovers than you'll ever live to meet, so don't dare say I'm not fun."

Camena: "Fun and amorous are not the same as happy."

Vance: "I can make a bargain if you have the two of them, alive. Other things would help. Things like a justification for this bullshit."

Camena: "Which bullshit is that? Sorry, you're accusing me of so much that I think it best we're certain of which items are in question."

Vance: "Whatever happened in Jaspindar's… weird inside forest."

Vance: "And derelicting your mission."

Vance: "And trying to kidnap Jaspindar."

Vance: "Really, just start wherever you please."

Camena: She turns, coy, and then turns back, nodding her head slowly. "I want a promise first," she says, all imperiousness droping away. "From you, and your men, to a man. For their safe return, and for your explanation, and for a good deal more that you should know besides. Promise me here and now that when I reveal this truth, that you will act upon it; that I will, in good faith, help you to do so; that the both of us shall work to rescue Gloam from the dark influences that seep into its essence; and that none party to this will speak of one another to those beyond our current band, or raise arms against one another without just cause."

Vance: "Nah. Master Wen, #4, what is it you Immaculates say about Anathema asking for oaths? Not to give them, I recall?"

Camena: "When, really, he should be telling you about the kind of things that creative abuse of summoned elementals can do to a body."

Vance: "Your time playing games has run down. You can cooperate with me, or these two gentlemen here declare a Wyld Hunt."

Vance: "If you defeated Jaspindar and Vi together in battle, then at least one of you is certainly mighty indeed. Maybe enough to take down this entire army. But once the Blessed Isle gets word of this, they will crush your name out of history. Nothing will survive."

Camena: "A fair enough truth. But what assurance do I have that you will grant me and my compatriots safe passage, if you are not even bold enough to affirm your word in the eyes of the Dragons?"

Svetlana: Svetlana thoughtfully refines her aim with a second aim action.

Vance: "Don't blaspheme. I'm a pragmatic man, but even working with Anathema, there are some things I can't stand."

Camena: "I mean no blasphemy. Well, perhaps a little? No more than usual. But still, I hold it true: Swear it not to me, but to your gods. There is a danger in this land. A darkness that festers in the soul."

Icaria: He's smarter than the satrap, apparently, who didn't realize what she was dealing with.

Vance: (Make a Charisma + Presence roll.)

Camena: (Can I argue Manipulation by way of slowly leading and you know, manipulating him? I've teased him to a hot boil here.)

Vance: (Sure.)

Vance: And take two stunt dice + one success.

Vance: …and a Willpower.

Camena: (That was a miserable 7 successes.)

Vance: "Fine. With Pasiap as my unwavering pillar of righteousness, I promise that neither I nor my kin nor those under our command will keep you from keeping Gloam safe, and unless you try to trick us or play us for fools, we'll even cooperate."

Camena: Somewhere in Heaven, those words have entered into the Celestial Record. And Camena has entered into full-on mortality for the first time in years, tapped for motes.

Vance: "Now, bring me to the Satrap and Vi."

Camena: "Come, then," she says. "And learn what you must learn."

Svetlana: I guess I'll wait 5 seconds in case Camena is about to launch a surprise attack or call me over, and then default to staying ahead and marking the way.

Svetlana: Or not bothering to mark the way if Camena seems to be very well-oriented and/or the woods are relatively straightforward and Zanara hasn't moved.

Vance: The two Dragon-Blooded and the monk break away from the soldiers, following you back. Majal draws in a harsh breath when he sees the state of Vi and Jaspindar, but they are alive, and that's good enough for him. The nondescript man, the one he called #4, admires the skyline of the sorcerously-wrought forest. Master Wen, the mortal, goes to attend to the unconscious bodies, striking at series of pressure points.

Vance: @jennamoran: You still have an ambush for when you want to take it.

Svetlana: I'd rather be the rogue who wastes time on elaborate and ultimately unnecessary ambush plans than the rogue that randomly attacks people the party is trying to talk to, although continuing to be out of sight and ready to ambush for a couple more minutes isn't a terrible idea.

Svetlana: There might be an argument between Zanara and Majal when the satrap wakes up, after all.

Zanara: As for Zanara, she's glaring at the new Dragon-Blooded almost as hard as she was glaring at Jaspindar.

Vance: "They're alive, and I said that made the deal," says Majal, morosely watching over the women as Wen attends to them.

Camena: "Tell me, Majal. What do you know about the tombs of Gloam?"

Vance: "That we burn our dead."

Vance: After a few minutes, he lets out a laugh.

Svetlana: the tombs / of gloam / roam mainly / down beloam.

Vance: "It was a joke, lass!"

Vance: "I know what you're really getting at, though. The Tomb. I opened it with them. #4, too."

Vance: "What I can tell you is that you can take your compatriots, leave this place, and if you want to die fighting whatever's in that damned tomb then all the better. Or if not, enjoy the many civic amenities of Gloam under my careful watch. You pick."

Camena: "Well, I suppose that's a matter for our discussion, then. Can we get back to you? The sorcerer's up and disappeared, the dozy bastard, and your gods and mine both know what he's gotten himself embroiled in now."

Vance: "You won't get back to me. I'll know when you're ready to see me. You have my leave, Anathema, but consider just how good your fortune was today."

  • Vance ends the scene.

Vance: And that is the game.

Camena: Well, there we go. We almost killed a pair of Dragon Blooded and then almost got ganked in return.

Zanara: Poor Jaspindar. Got an arrow in the throat and when she gets better she's got a nightmare waiting for her.

Vance: "Poor Jaspindar" really was not my expected response to this session.

Zanara: If Compassion was still a thing Zanara would have a lot of it.

Svetlana: There is no way to tell if we almost got ganked or not!

Vance: Yeah.

Vance: You've taken on battle groups before.

Vance: I'd say you've got a fighting chance.

Icaria: That's why you shouldn't let satraps live!

Zanara: I'm mostly still topped up on essence, but I know the rest of y'all are really not.

Vance: And would have even more once you have a non-zero number of motes.

Camena: Literally saved my last ten for an oath.

Icaria: People in Gloam are just determined not to deliver any exposition.

Camena: Right?

Camena: Rand—

Camena: Next week—

Camena: Icaria and Camena—

Camena: Sorcerous working—

Camena: Blessing of Auspicious Exposition—

Camena: We're fixing this podunk.

Svetlana: I was sort of expecting Zanara to object to leaving before giving Jaspindar and Vi her proposed choice, and then the fight to happen anyway when Majal rejected this, and thought about whether it was possible to mess up the battlegroup on my own while the Dragon-Blooded were away, but being low on motes is tricky.

Zanara: I was thinking about it, but I imagine she'll literally just walk up to the gates of the satrap's estate and demand to see her once she's had a chance to recover.

Svetlana: Cool!

Zanara: Subtlety is not her thing.

Zanara: And maybe if Jaspindar is receptive to the recruitment pitch, we'll get some exposition.

Vance: I'm glad Jaspindar and Vi survived.

Svetlana: It is possible that none of them actually know what's in the Tomb, like, maybe the Tomb's defenses just convinced all of them there was a terrible evil in the Tomb that they'd unleashed and they'd better not push further.

Svetlana: Tomb of Social Attacks.

Svetlana: There is this one chamber that exerts this incredible peer pressure to jump off the bridge into the lava below.

Camena: Nah, I think it might be more like the Tomb of Reevaluating Your Life Decisions.

Camena: And then deciding: Yeah. Murder games. That's where it's at.

Vance: The Heteronormatividrome.

Icaria: The Tomb of Not Explaining Things.

Icaria: Where plot dumps go to die.

Icaria: That's why no one can ever know exactly what the First Age was like.

Camena: …now I've got the term Heterotonkheires stuck in my head.

Svetlana: Hahaha.

Camena: But, as always, fifteen burritos and a puppy to Vance.

Camena: For his virtuous GMery.

Svetlana: Yes! Thank you for running!

Zanara: Yeah!

Icaria: Yes, or fifteen puppies!

Icaria: Fifteen!

Icaria: He has fifteen puppies!

Camena: THAT'S TERRIBLE.

Svetlana: One puppy per burrito is very convenient until slightly later that night.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License