In Which Our Aims Are Not Practical, Apparently

Vance: So, we left off in the Tomb of the Anathema…

Vance: Y'all's conversation with the Perfected Immortal Man was rudely interrupted by the sudden appearance of a dark-skinned swordsman, boasting of his martial arts prowess and flaring anima.

Icaria: And I was demanding exposition!

Camena: "I forget, are scorpions bugs?" (directed at Icaria)

Camena: "I want to know what I should squash him like."

Icaria: "'Bug' isn't a rigidly-defined term, so you can call them that."

Camena: "Excellent."

Zanara: Zanara simply raises an eyebrow. "Are you really going to pick a fight with all of us, sight-unseen?"

Icaria: (Apparently "bug" actually is a term that defines insects of the order Hemiptera, which includes aphids and cicadas.)

Vance: "You would not be here unless you were the servants of that treacherous vizier," he remarks, dropping into a crouched stance that seems too low for sword-fighting. "I will lay down this life of mine, if need be, to thwart the tyrant's plans."

Zanara: "Are you talking about the woman whose neck I put an arrow into, or another treacherous tyrant?"

Camena: "Anyone else feel like a servant? I sure don't. Freelancers, at best, but even that doesn't rightly catch it."

Icaria: "Are you talking about Jaspindar, or… look, I absolutely am not going to fight you unless you explain your identity and motivations in a clear-cut and orderly fashion."

Icaria: "I don't feel like having a battle where it turns out two hours later it was all a ridiculous misunderstanding because you don't like explaining things."

Vance: "You won't remember his name. Even the Chosen have trouble keeping him in their heads. He flows off memories like oil on water. But that doesn't make you any less under his control."

Icaria: "Do say it anyway. I assume it isn't that long."

Vance: "He's the man they call Number Four. Does the name strike a bell? It should, but I suspect you won't remember anything about him."

Icaria: "No, I remember that guy. Hot. Doesn't talk much. Hangs around with Majal."

Icaria: "Two of those things are bad, so I guess I dislike him? Is he some kind of magical schemer? I kind of thought he was an Immaculate bodyguard or something."

Vance: "He has sought forbidden power, here in this Tomb. This is why you are here. Knowingly or not, he has arranged for you to come to this place. You might be a distraction, or a recovery team, or a feint in a long game of Gateway. Even if you mean me no harm, the consequences of your actions promise it."

Camena: "Blah blah blah blah blah—gods, Icaria. I think I'm seeing your point."

Icaria: "Still, he answered the question."

Vance: "I might fight you just because you're rude."

Icaria: "We should tell him about ourselves, because we're not rude."

  • Camena blows him a kiss.

Icaria: "We are a wandering circle of adventurers out to bring justice to a darkened world. I am Icaria, a librarian from Neve. We investigated the satrap and then beat her into a pulp, and then after a tense standoff with Majal we decided to ignore each other for the time being, and then we came here to see what those Dynasts actually opened the place for, and what it was."

Icaria: "Now we're confused because we found an ancient and mysterious being imprisoned at the bottom, but the Dynasts appear to have found something… not that… and are all in a flutter about it."

Icaria: "Now it's your turn to tell us who you are."

  • Camena emotes "good job, bro."

Vance: "I suppose the necessity of your defeat doesn't dispose with the need for etiquette. You may call me Iron Snow, heir to a stolen throne, hunter of demons, student of the enlightened master. I guard Creation from those who would harm it, even the unknowing accomplices of a wicked mastermind. I followed #4 here after he unsealed the Tomb of the Anathema and stole the power of what lies locked away. Whatever you are doing here would only deliver more of that power into his hands."

Zanara: Zanara shrugged. "I wouldn't know about any of that. I'm only plotting to overthrow the satrap. My name is Zanara, by the way."

Camena: "Well then, perhaps you could have said that instead of delivering a 'bout of bravado. What if I were to tell you that your mission and ours might not be incompatible? And you may call me Camena Dezla. Or Captain."

Icaria: Icaria nods enthusiastically, "See, this is the way to do it! Okay, I think that's the… oh, wait, we still need to know who and what this Number Four character is and why he's so dangerous that literally anything we do feeds into his master plans to do whatever it is he's doing."

Icaria: "Did we have any more questions?"

Camena: "I do hate being part of a master plan," Camena says, to no one in particular. "Barely like being part of my own, to be honest."

Vance: "I am no friend of the satrap, and seeing her gone would deny #4 useful allies. You might be helpful… but at the same time, you cannot be trusted. Even if your intentions are as noble as you say, I cannot know if this entire alliance was all #4's plan, a trap to catch me. I have seen the damage he can cause to the mind, and the extent of his control. Can you be certain that all the voices of your head belong to you?"

Camena: "So long as I haven't been in the whiskey."

Icaria: "About as much as you can, I suppose."

Zanara: "…I've only ever had the one," Zanara says. "Well, and another, very temporarily, but that's an unrelated matter."

Vance: Iron Snow can't help but roll his eyes. "That's not very reassuring to hear. Tell me, what have you done here?"

Icaria: "Well, we dodged past all the traps and such."

Icaria: "Then we ran an investigation to figure out what the Dynasts who came here had been doing."

Icaria: "Then we came in here and fiddled with the crystals to see what they were for, and they seemed to be for a lot of things, so I evoked a fellow named Pim."

Icaria: "And he said he'd been imprisoned here, and we started to argue about whether or not we should do something about that."

Vance: "…you named the forbidden god… Pim?"

Icaria: "Short names are just another form of the orderly transfer of information."

Zanara: "He certainly didn't seem to mind."

Vance: "And have you decided to do about the prisoner? Even if heaven's will erred in sealing him away here, it will not be easy to defy. Mere Exigents such as you stand little chance."

Zanara: "Heaven's will does not err," Zanara says, glaring at Iron Snow.

  • Camena keeps from laughing, but just barely.

Icaria: "If that's the case, then what's up with absolutely everything?"

Vance: "And how do you know that, Zanara? Do you know what the gods think as they steer the course of this world? Do you know what desires fill their hearts? They are as fallible as any mortal ruler."

Icaria: "Still, our new friend has a point. There's no point in deciding what to do before we actually know how we might do it."

  • Camena is about ready to burst out laughing now. She's expecting a response from Zanara.

Zanara: "The will of Heaven is the will of the Unconquered Sun, He who hath charged me to go forth and confront the unrighteous. The untrustworthy gods of the world are not as those of Heaven, and certainly not as the Unconquered Sun."

Vance: If Iron Snow fully understands the implications of your closeness to the Most High, his face does not let it show. His words become cautious, theoretical, as though he were a savant lecturing his students rather than a demigod challenging his fellows to mortal combat. "The Unconquered Sun is an ancient god. Heaven's will has not been his for centuries, but rather left to subordinates and functionaries to decide. No celestial pardon is coming for the prisoner—he is forgotten."

Icaria: "If no pardon is coming, then it's up to us to show mercy."

Icaria: "I mean, unless you know something that indicates that some terrible evil would result."

Vance: "So, you agree with me about Heaven's will."

Icaria: "If Heaven's grace is to be anywhere in this world, it must be us who delivers it," says Icaria.

Icaria: I perform the Eyebrow Wiggle of Requesting Orderly Transfer of Information.

Vance: "The spirit trapped here is as much a pawn in #4's schemes as I believe you to be. If it were freed, that might change. But if you were sent here to free it, then that could all be part of his plan."

Icaria: tries to figure out how to add a C to that so it can become the EROTIC.

Zanara: "I assure you, we had not the slightest idea what we would find here. For myself, I certainly was not expecting what we did find."

Camena: "I was just in it for the artwork, mostly."

Icaria: "I'm still collecting data about what we did find."

Vance: (Hmm. Some social influence rolls are probably called for here, from anyone who wants to make one.)

Icaria: I'll leave it to the faces.

Zanara: (I dare say some presence might be called for)

Zanara: (7, on Charisma + Presence, 5m personal for the Excellency.)

Camena: (Camena hasn't really done enough to warrant a roll, methinks. And she definitely sees this as Zanara's domain.)

Icaria: I am metaphorically hiding behind someone more responsible.

Vance: "I can't trust your words, but I would like to. Much more, in fact, than I would like to fight you."

Icaria: "Just as well, since honestly, you probably wouldn't win."

Icaria: "Fortunately, trusting us and fighting us are both decisions you can procrastinate on."

Vance: "I'll need to test you, your freedom from #4's control. It's insidious, but not completely undetectable. By the next time I speak to you, I will know all that I need to."

Icaria: "I suppose I should… test us also?"

  • Icaria considers various sorcerous protections against nonspecific mind control.

Vance: "For now, Icaria, you can keep an eye out for strange behavior, wrong memories, lost time. All the signs of his interference."

Icaria: …I'm beginning to get the feeling that there may be Taoist rap battles in our future.

  • Icaria considers what would actually constitute strange behaviors in his circlemates.

Zanara: "Well, you have our thanks for forewarning us of such influence, if nothing else," Zanara says.

Icaria: "It is certainly worth knowing that Majal's shadow is apparently the secret mastermind of… of whatever."

  • Camena tips her hat to him. But she does it with the barrel of her firewand, so the gesture is a bit muddled.
  • Vance set the channel topic: Wûdang Clan Ain't Nothin' To Fuck With

Vance: Iron Snow assays a kata with a dancer's grace.

Vance: He bids you no farewell, for surely he was never here at all.

Icaria: Wow. That was one dumb Sidereal.

Icaria: He's lucky he's hot.

Zanara: "Hm. I don't suppose anyone else has met his like before?"

Icaria: Sadly Icaria has never heard of Sidereals and thus cannot make this joke out loud.

Vance: Svetlana almost certainly does not know.

Icaria: So, we're trapped in a gang war between a Sidereal tsundere and his Getimian ex-lover.

Vance: No.

Icaria: Yes.

Vance: Don't say anime words.

Camena: Why not, senpai?

Icaria: Fine. He can be a Sidereal musclehead.

Icaria: I mean, really, if there's one person who should be able to spot a Solar circle under his face… still, it works out in our favor.

Vance: We cut now to… where are y'all going now?

Icaria: Most of the things we probably ought to do now should be masterminded by one of the mastermind types.

Icaria: I muse over possible ways to forestall malicious mind magic.

Vance: Maybe some kind of bee with anti-mind control venom?

Icaria: Hm, maybe if I control everybody's mind first?

Camena: We should seize control of the manse, through horrible death rites.

Vance: What manse?

Zanara: We should probably work out mind control defenses before Zanara goes and drops a Major Intimacy's worth of dead people hate on Jaspindar.

Icaria: Fine, fine. A working it is, I guess.

Vance: Wanna start on the working before the next scene?

Icaria: That seems like a good idea.

Icaria: I'll make an, uh…

Camena: Need an assistant who knows mind-altering spells already?

Vance: So, what do you want your defense to do?

Icaria: That sounds like a great idea.

Vance: Yeah, Camena's worth +1 Means.

Icaria: Hm, well, I'm in a hurry, so something not terribly complicated.

Zanara: I'm also pretty good at messing with people's heads.

Icaria: Maybe I can bind us together so that nobody can influence one of us without influencing all of us?

Vance: That sounds around celestial level. If you wanted to do it as a terrestrial, I think it would probably only be worth a certain number of uses before it dissipates.

Vance: (No XP cost for limited-use workings within reason.)

Icaria: That seems reasonable. I mean, he presumably can't spam Threefold Binding of the Heart that often.

Icaria: Or whatever.

Icaria: Or I could come up with some other weird drawback.

Vance: I'll call that Ambition 2.

Vance: How much Finesse do you want?

  • Icaria checks the rules to see what he can get away with.

Vance: 1 is lowest, and basically lets me design the whole thing.

Icaria: Oh, I'll just take Finesse 3.

Vance: Give us some nice description and then roll Intelligence + Occult

Icaria: Obviously I'll have to create some kind of symbolic link between us.

Icaria: Camena can help me write some appropriate poetry, and I'll scribe it along everybody's left arm using Sun's Brush.

Icaria: Kind of like a henna tattoo.

  • Svetlana catches up.

Icaria: Also, I'll include Rubean in the working, because that lets me do a proper five-element ring.

Vance: Quack.

Icaria: I presume that Svetlana is air, Camena is water, Zanara is earth, and Icaria is wood in this interpretation.

Camena: Camena needles Icaria by pointing out that she fights with fire.

Icaria: Well, Rubean obviously isn't water!

Icaria: I can't be having with these modernistic interpretations.

Icaria: If other people want to play the "let's sort our friends into arbitrary categories" game, they can do their own workings.

  • Camena walks around using Wood Dragon's Claws during the working.

Icaria: DAMMIT STAY IN YOUR BOX.

Icaria: Next time I'm using trigrams.

Vance: Take two stunt dice and an autosux (auto… suc?).

Camena: "Hmm? I couldn't hear you over the sound of me disappearing. Like the wind."

Vance: …and gain 1 WP.

Icaria: Eleven successes minus difficulty three is eight.

Icaria: I guess I'm two short. How long is my interval?

Vance: Think it's one day.

Vance: Oh, one week.

Icaria: I vote we wait, so that the Getimian doesn't get his sexy hooks into any of you before me.

Icaria: I mean, before we're ready.

Vance: We'll say that's the next chunk of downtime you get

Camena: "Oh kid. We have got to get you laid."

Zanara: I am also for waiting, so that when I make Jaspindar's life hell she doesn't reopen her wounds and bleed out or something awful.

Icaria: Hm, I guess I use Supernal Control Method for this, but even using the language Charm won't get me all the way there.

Icaria: Icaria is planning vaguely to seduce both the Sidereal and the anti-Sidereal and thereby end their lover's quarrel.

Vance: I will note that for all the mind control paranoia, none of y'all have actually encountered any weird social influence from #4 so far.

Vance: I'm not retconning past events.

Icaria: Possibly it isn't actually a lover's quarrel, which is why Icaria should probably make these plans out loud.

Svetlana: Social influence? I don't believe it exists!

Icaria: Well, maybe it's wrong, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Svetlana: Could you spend a Willpower for the success you're missing?

Icaria: Doing Twilight things gets me Solar XP to do more Twilight things.

Icaria: ……well, yes.

  • Svetlana doesn't understand workings, but understands you're just short of something.

Icaria: And Ancient Tongue Understanding gets me the rest.

Icaria: Which means that nobody who doesn't speak Old Realm understands what Icaria is saying as he natters on about lover's quarrels and triceps.

  • Svetlana looks pleased that her suggestion of 'have you thought about maybe… trying harder?' proved to be the key to unraveling this sorcerous puzzle.'

Icaria: I couldn't try harder until you used an emote.

Svetlana: Ganbatte!

Icaria: That's my dedication to the laws of drama!

Vance: So.

Vance: This protection takes the form of a Defining Tie of oneness that you all gain towards each other.

Icaria: I guess being bound by a sorcerous oath also makes us an official circle.

Vance: The intimacies will ablate any unnatural influence that doesn't overcome all of you.

Svetlana: Rubean is our Dawn!

Vance: So acting against the Tie or weakening it will burn out the protection.

Icaria: I was hoping people wouldn't notice that until it was time for her to make a fuss about getting a vote again. :slightly_smiling_face:

Icaria: ~sorcerers always cheat~

Vance: Now that you're all Doctor Stranged up, where to?

Icaria: I delegate the job of obtaining additional exposition to my increasingly legit circlemates.

Vance: Someday you will meet a raksha expositor.

Vance: Then everything will be happy.

Camena: We should probably talk grand strategy soon. Figure out what we all actually want.

Svetlana: Until it turns out that the raksha exposits by saying, "Exposition, 4 successes."

Zanara: Yes, actually discussing goals is a good idea.

Vance: You should probably have a nice dinner to talk strategy over.

Vance: Zanara does have a standing invitation to a certain merchant prince whose name I've forgotten's banquet table.

Camena: We should go back to that tea house sometime.

Vance: Also that.

Zanara: Also Cloud/Moon/INSERT_NOUN_HERE Tortoise needs a jailbreak.

Icaria: Hold on, I have a list.

Icaria: The next noun in the rotation is "Lotus."

Camena: "Fig."

Vance: Joke's gonna be on y'all when she turns out to be an Exigent who broke apart her name and rejiggered it into a psychic booby trap.

Icaria: As long as Rubean doesn't take part in the running gag, we're safe.

Svetlana: "She's a little…" Svetlana says, when rescuing her comes up, and ponders. "Corrupt?"

Vance: Zanara is familiar enough with Ms. Tortoise to know that she's not corrupt at all. She's an anti-Realm revolutionary, kind of!

Camena: "I can't say I feel much fondness for her, given my almost-arrest," Camena offers, sipping at a wine glass with surprising daintiness. "But we did overturn her boat, and so I suppose we owe her some kindness."

Zanara: "She is not corrupt. In any case, she was captured while undertaking a dangerous mission on my behalf, and I don't leave my people behind."

Camena: "I'll toast to that, Righteous."

Icaria: Rubean indicates that referring to people by fake names is demeaning. Treating somebody like that is almost like treating them as an interchangeable part of yourself that can be called upon when wanted and then forgotten about!

Svetlana: "That's fair," Svetlana says. "It's okay if she winds up back in jail on the correct charges afterwards, though?"

Icaria: "I think Zanara is trying to indicate that Moon Lotus was only pretending to be unrighteous as a revolutionary infiltrator."

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders this.

Svetlana: "There is a troubling pattern forming."

Svetlana: She sighs. "Undercover to get close to Majal is acceptable enough, I suppose."

  • Svetlana tries to remember what came out about Jaspindar last session that made Svetlana angry.

Vance: She hunts criminals for sport because she enjoys it?

Icaria: She was actively attempting to spend lives to cover up her mistake and keep the truth from being known.

Icaria: Also for sport, yes.

Vance: The wards weren't her idea.

Icaria: I think it was condemning lots of people to die without anyone ever knowing why that bugged Svetlana most?

Icaria: Meanwhile, on that note, this makes what's going on in Gloam make somewhat more sense.

Vance: @jennamoran Would breaking Tortoise out of jail uphold any of your Intimacies?

Icaria: We can potentially answer "why are the local Dynasts acting weird in response to a threat that doesn't seem to match up to what exists" with "because #4 is a manipulative we-don't-know-what with mind powers."

Zanara: Hmm.

Icaria: In which case Iron Snow may actually be correct.

Icaria: At least, if what he wants is "for someone who isn't him, and it probably needs to be Solars, to set Pim free."

Camena: Does he want that?

Camena: My impression was that that was mostly incidental.

Svetlana: Ah, it was the way the wards were hurting Pim, paired with there being apparently no reason at all for them, which made it seem like going massively out of your way with ritual magic to hurt someone you can't even interact with. Svetlana is very upset about the manner of execution of criminals but there are complicating factors.

Svetlana: @vance: "Nobody gets abandoned, left behind, or forgotten." Zanara pretty much spoke directly to Svetlana with her argument on why she should be let out, although the argument on not rearresting her is the more vague 'well, we sometimes do weird stuff as part of subterfuges so let's not be hypocrites.'

Svetlana: (Er, to Svetlana.)

Icaria: I dunno, but it seems like if you want to get some Solars to open an ancient tomb, getting some Dynasts to half-open it, then doing a Svengali to make them think they unleashed a terrible evil and have them frantically tread water to keep it down seems like a good start.

Svetlana: Svetlana is very grateful to Icaria for that answer.

Vance: All right.

Icaria: Naturally the first circle of Solars to happen along would immediately get all up in that tomb.

Svetlana: Svetlana has been highly irritated at the Dynasts for not having actually let an ancient evil out and the idea of mind control makes it make a lot more sense.

Icaria: And probably their handsome and brilliant leader would immediately decide to free the noble Pim.

Vance: I don't think y'all actually know where Cloud Tortoise is being held, so some kind of roll might be appropriate for that

Icaria: Presumably this is good for #4 for some occult reason.

Icaria: Alternately, it's possible he just wants to bang my demon lover.

Icaria: That's why Iron Snow is here to stop him—jealousy.

Svetlana: Svetlana is extremely uncomfortable with fake-corruption in the name of subterfuge but it's, like, still… fake… maybe. Probably. She wrestles with that.

Zanara: Zanara is presuming Majal has her, and honestly was just going to flat out ask Jaspindar to secure her release. But Zanara is really, really confident in her ability to get others to do what she wants.

Zanara: Probably too confident.

Icaria: While Svetlana wrestles with thorny questions of right, wrong, and espionage, Icaria constructs elaborate fan fiction about the people he knows.

Svetlana: Intelligence + Bureaucracy to know where she would be held? Or would it be more Socialize? Hmm. ponders whether this would be decided politically or personally

Icaria: Bureaucracy seems right.

Icaria: It seems like Bureaucracy is for understanding how the system works, and Socialize is for understanding how individuals work and interact.

Vance: It depends on the manner in which you're doing it.

Vance: Gathering info from the criminal underworld would be larceny, understanding the local legal system's procedures would be Bureaucracy, listening to rumors in teahouses would be… Socialize or Presence.

Zanara: I can definitely do the Presence bit, and can maybe teamwork some help with Bureaucracy and Socialize.

Camena: Speaking of which, Camena probably needs to start spreading her tendrils of influence in the local underbelly.

Svetlana: I'm specifically consciously reflecting on what Dynasts like these would do with such a person, and then if they'd have a known and defined place then locating it through logic and questions.

Vance: Yeah, that's Intelligence + Bureaucracy.

Vance: …and take two stunt dice.

Svetlana: 7 successes.

Vance: In many satrapial cities, the Realm keeps military detention cells in the barracks or fortifications they've constructed. You've had a chance to scope out the Imperial barracks in Gloam previously—it's a large, imposing tower, but its security is mortal at best.

Icaria: "Didn't you guys just beat the satrap into a vaguely-defined truce?"

Icaria: Oh, speaking about remembering past events…

Icaria: I'm painting "Don't forget about #4" on my other arm.

Camena: Oh great, we're doing the Silence now.

Icaria: Hush, or I won't remind you who the villain is.

Svetlana: Svetlana shares her thoughts on where Moon Onion would be. "As for Number Four, I have less of a clue. He was… the monk-y one?"

Icaria: "I'm not sure he ever even spoke."

Icaria: Icaria tries hard to remember and eventually remembers that he was not actually there.

Vance: Or maybe he did, and you just don't remember what he said.

Zanara: "I remember very little as well. But as to the truce… I was simply going to ask for her back," Zanara says.

Svetlana: Number five is alive, so logically number four is adored.

Camena: "I don't see much harm in asking, for once. Majal or the good Satrap? That's the question, Righteous."

Zanara: Oh, the Satrap, of course," Zanara says. "I never got the chance to recruit her."

  • Icaria looks very far back.

Icaria: Oh, hey.

Icaria: It wasn't Moon Satchel who found the firewand in Camena's boat.

Icaria: It was #4.

Camena: Oh, shiznit.

Icaria: "But then, #4 found this," she says, brandishing an orichalcum firewand. "Care to explain how you came by a weapon made of devil-gold?"

Camena: Camena will destroy him.

Icaria: I relay this remembrance to the group.

Camena: I relay quiet fury and swirl my wine glass like someone plotting.

Camena: Or smoldering.

Icaria: "He must have known who you were almost before you had a chance to do anything," Icaria muses.

Icaria: Icaria continues to be somehow the last person to break cover as a Solar.

Icaria: Okay, Svetlana is probably actually winning the stealth game.

Icaria: But that's not surprising or funny.

Svetlana: They suspect me of being the shapeshifter.

Svetlana: I think you don't seem subtle enough to be.

Svetlana: So you may be ahead.

Icaria: I should invent a god to be Exigent of.

Icaria: I can publicly chant praise to Xu Ui, blind idiot god of librarians and romantic fiction.

  • Svetlana ponders how to find Number Four.

Icaria: Ask someone "who is Number One?"

Icaria: And they'll say "You are Number Four."

  • Icaria considers the implication of the name, anyway. It probably doesn't actually mean that he's the fourth Dynast out of five.

Vance: What is the number four associated with?

Icaria: Death.

Svetlana: Svetlana realizes that she doesn't actually care that much about #4, and that Zanara's going to force a situation that will probably more than adequately satisfy any lingering anger she has towards the rest of the Dynasts. "Icaria, what can I do to help with releasing Pim?"

Icaria: "Well, destroying all the satrap's weird shrines is going to be a good start. Or at least polite."

Svetlana: "Makes sense," Svetlana agrees.

Icaria: "We're probably going to have to seriously alter the local geomancy, which… is difficult. Well, it's difficult to do without killing lots of people as the earth buckles and the sea rises."

Svetlana: "I have faith in you," Svetlana says.

Icaria: "Right now you should probably… do things to make it easier for us to wander around Gloam doing whatever we want."

Icaria: "Like, if we controlled the city's government, that would be really convenient as far as doing major public works projects goes."

Svetlana: "Right," Svetlana says, and begins pondering interim governments. "Zanara, can I see your post-revolution strategy documents?"

Zanara: "My goal is to spread revolution wherever slavery is practiced, with the goal of destroying it and whatever supports or enables it. I am no conqueror, and I do not intend to govern. That is my sole strategy."

Svetlana: "Erk."

Zanara: "For the immediate term, though… yes. I do intend to attempt to recruit Jaspindar. If she is with us, that simplifies my task greatly. And yours, I think."

Svetlana: "Right," Svetlana says. "Do you consider the governmental apparatus as a whole complicit, or is it only the council at the top that has to go if they don't cooperate?"

Svetlana: "…I'm not actually expecting them to cooperate, although it would be absolutely lovely and would delight me."

Zanara: "And me. I have no desire to take heads indiscriminately. Any who turn to the path of righteousness, I am happy to allow to continue in their position."

Svetlana: "What about those who aren't actually personally involved in anything bad, but are loyal enough to the current regime or the Realm as a principle that they'd be a moderate risk of supporting a later counterrevolution?"

Zanara: "I will not condemn those who have done no wrong. And when they do, they shall be shown how they have erred, and set upon the path of righteousness. Everyone deserves to be given a second chance, because everyone is capable of change."

Svetlana: "Excellent," Svetlana says. "So what I'm going to do, Icaria, is do some scouting out of the local mercantile families and minor branches, get a sense of their resources and loyalties and who's actually tied to the slave trade as-is, and build a couple plans for who and how to bring in as replacement officials and income streams for transitional matters if the Dynasts are uncooperative. By then Jaspindar ought to have recovered enough for us to actually look into that. Zanara, does that work for you?'

Svetlana: "If we're only removing the actively evil who don't reform, it shouldn't be that hard to stabilize things even if we do lose the top."

Icaria: "I suppose we have to worry about the Realm navy or the Guild or something actively attempting to forcibly open our markets, though."

Icaria: "Still, that's a problem we can think about later."

Svetlana: "Good point," Svetlana says.

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders.

Icaria: "Possibly by the time such plans mature, I'll have learned sufficient sorcery to command a hurricane or an army of water elementals."

Zanara: "I cannot speak much for the seas, but if they come ashore, I can certainly have an army waiting to meet them."

Icaria: "Or hide the island in a cloud of impassible fog," Icaria adds, warming to his topic, "or create a glamour that causes anybody stepping on our land to have all their chains fall off."

Svetlana: "I'll try to harden the island against that too," Svetlana says, "but I know about as much as a mospid about naval matters and the Guild is a little scary."

Icaria: "Or to increase everybody's weight by the total mass of persons they currently own."

Svetlana: Svetlana laughs at Icaria's suggestions. "That's delightful."

Icaria: "Or make greed poisonous."

Svetlana: "Not that one," Svetlana says, trying not to glance at Camena.

Camena: "Leave the Guild to me."

Camena: "We've dealt in the past."

Icaria: "Next you'll be telling me not to invent the spell that makes everyone who sees me fall hopelessly in love and give up all their habits which displease me."

Zanara: "It's a good thing you're joking."

  • Camena gives Icaria a long look.

Camena: "We learned the High Art for very different reasons, didn't we?"

Icaria: "To be perfectly honest, I think I knew something like that in a former life."

Icaria: "The details are murky, but I think it was delightful for about three weeks and then the entire country exploded in Drama."

Icaria: "Or… just exploded."

Svetlana: "The mass increase thing is good," Svetlana says. "Although hopefully you don't own your elementals? And… be careful how it handles self-ownership. And I'm mildly worried about us failing to notice a slaveholder who then plunges through the center of the island leaving a horrific sinkhole."

Icaria: "Remembering past lives is like pieceing together a book you slept through half the reading of."

Icaria: "In any case, I must keep up my studies for a bit before such feats will be feasible."

Icaria: "As of right now, I would count myself the equal of any graduate of the Heptagram, but I still have far to go before I become master of all knowledge."

Camena: "If we're to secure control of Gloam and avoid interruption in the lives of the innocent, then there are people I should go and see about real estate and suchlike," Camena says, standing only a little tipsier than she thought.

Icaria: "If we could find any ancient tomes of sorcery on this island, that would be a good start."

Camena: "If anyone needs me… well, frankly, don't need me. I'm off to go do Bad People things."

Svetlana: Svetlana dons her proper magisterial appearance, thoughtfully adds a ridiculous hat, and says, "That's terrible, Camena. I think it was a great moral sage of antiquity who said that the secret of correct behavior was to not be bad."

Svetlana: "I should also be off, to do Good People things. Such an imitable example!"

Vance: So, Elliott is scampering off to bed as Camena scoffs law.

Vance: What Good People things is Svetlana planning?

Svetlana: Scouting out local mercantile families and other minor powers, getting a sense of their resources and loyalties and who is actually tied to the slave trade as is, with an eye towards building plans for quickly assembling alliances and replacement officials if we wind up ganking Jaspindar and Majal and the mysterious Tran. (And a more speculative eye towards resources for defense against later Guild/naval intrusion, mostly just in the form of keeping her eyes and mind open to possibilities since she's not sure how to proceed there.)

Icaria: I see no practical utility to my interfering in most of this, so I'm going to conjure some more elementals.

Icaria: I really need some kind of sorcerous sanctum.

Icaria: So… I guess I need an earth son to help me build one.

Icaria: But I can work the details out later.

Vance: Svetlana's scouting seems like… an Intelligence + Investigation roll, maybe?

Svetlana: Scouting out probably means part nosing about and part being slightly intrusive though polite and explaining that after extensive consultation with the satrap I need to take a broad-ranging look at the records of participants in the local political and financial scene to verify some problematic points, and that cooperation has an unusual likelihood of reward.

Vance: Or maybe Manipulation + Investigation.

Svetlana: They're the same so it works.

Svetlana: 6m, 9 successes.

Vance: So, you conduct a very successful campaign of investigation over, let's say, a handful of days. The evidence you've turned up shows that, while some of Gloam's mercantile families do not make use of slave labor or even actively campaign for abolition, but the vast majority rely on Guild slave ships to provide either their labor force or some incidental source of profits. Even the houses most staunchly opposed still indirectly benefit from Gloam's large slave workforce.

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders this. Hmm.

Svetlana: Svetlana adjusts her scheme. While planning for the transition is still important, "how to successfully seize the resources of the vast majority of Gloam's mercantile families and deliver them to the minority, without having them (a) mysteriously vanish in the turbulent transition or (b) remain owned and held elsewhere by the slaveholding families (or to a lesser degree, (c) given back by guilty recipients or (d) seized back by force)" becomes equally important.

Svetlana: I am guessing that a lot of their assets are actually physically elsewhere—on ships, in distant holdings, or even in account books. I may be thinking in too modern a fashion, though.

  • Svetlana hasn't read Manacle & Coin in forever.

Icaria: Perhaps we can come up with a plan to control what enters and leaves the port?

Vance: I think they mostly export through the Guild, which cuts off the need for investment in ships. They don't need to go to people, people come to them. So it seems likely that most of their assets would be at least on the island.

Icaria: Say, ships crewed by slavers and carrying slaves enter, and ships crewed by former slaves leave?

Svetlana: That sounds great, what both of you are saying. What Vance is saying sounds great because it means that all I really have to do is have a solid inventory of resources, rough locations, and likelihood of extraction and to where—complicated con games involving taking over distant assets don't seem necessary. Not really my idiom although with Camena's help I could probably manage. And Icaria's plan is probably a key backstop.

Icaria: Mind you, we'd probably have to work out some kind of actual goods trade for the freed slaves to engage in.

Icaria: Or just start privateering, I suppose.

Vance: Full communism!

Icaria: Between me, Camena, and the GDP of Gloam, we could probably put together a workable sorcery-backed navy.

Icaria: I mean, it won't be as good as the Realm, but if we engage in trade with the Realm, we might be able to convince them to open friendly negotiations since they have a lot going on.

Icaria: Mind you, this becomes a bit more practical once Icaria is able to master the Celestial Circle and get access to some things that most Dragon-Blooded sorcerer doesn't, including a larger vein of macro-scale stuff.

Icaria: "Let's keep Gloam independent of the Realm" will be more feasible once we can do things like "ships not helmed by captains we have a blood sample of get lost in the fog."

Icaria: I mean, none of that is a perfect defense against a really determined Terrestrial navy and similar resources, but you guys can probably convince them they're better served doing other stuff if Camena and I can make the island irritatingly difficult to take.

Svetlana: An economy that survives on slaves should be able to run even better with free workers, so in theory there should be plenty for all the slaves to do. I suppose… that's a planning priority too?

Icaria: How much of Gloam's economy depends on slaves as cheap labor here as opposed to selling them as a commodity elsewhere?

Vance: Not all, but much.

Svetlana: Svetlana attempts to plan a complete revamp of an entire government and economy based on ideas acquired mostly from listening to the actual Tepet Evdeniya randomly philosophize on such matters around the campfire. Thank Sol she's a Solar.

Vance: Well, she comes up with a plan.

Vance: No guarantee it's a good one.

Svetlana: It's true.

Vance: Such is the nature of revolution.

Icaria: Meanwhile, I am going to conjure my new earth son.

Svetlana: Are you implying that my five-year plan might not yield the expected results, comrade?

Icaria: I shall call him Citrin.

Vance: What kinda elemental is Citrin?

Icaria: He's a "lumber hulk," a giant and vaguely humanoid figure made mostly of dark, densely-packed soil.

Vance: Roll Intelligence + Occult to bind him.

Icaria: From underneath his skin, places like his eyelashes, under his fingernails, and his mouth, tendrils of plant life sprout out.

Svetlana: (Ironically, that isn't part of his nature; it's a skin condition.)

Icaria: He can extend these plant tendrils out through the soil to manipulate large volumes of earth and stone.

Icaria: Nine successes using a full Excellency.

Vance: Success!

Vance: Gloam proper doesn't really have much room for you to start construction, although past the city's boundaries there's some wilderness.

Icaria: Now I just need a water baby to achieve full symmetry-for-symmetry's-sake.

Icaria: I was actually planning to construct a secret basement somewhere.

Vance: Having a lumber hulk excavate a basement is probably not gonna be super sneaky.

Icaria: It was my intention that he moves rather gracefully through dirt.

Vance: In which case, he is super sneaky.

Vance: So, what's going to be on top of the batcave?

Icaria: I don't think he's as much of a fighter as he looks, but my general thoughts were something like "phase through any earth more porous than stone, move earthy materials easily in volume, and, I dunno, probably one other thing."

Icaria: I don't know. Does anybody own any local real property?

Icaria: He's probably good at gardening.

Svetlana: Arguably we own the satrap's house by right of conquest!

Svetlana: But it is pretty arguable.

Vance: The satrap would definitely argue.

Icaria: The lair will probably have a small natural stream that Citrin arranged somehow, and a tiny hydroponic garden with potatoes or something.

Zanara: My army was squatting in a warehouse but since I got a letter there I think they've probably moved and are squatting in another, more different warehouse.

Icaria: Maybe some bioluminescent fungus of a kind that doesn't eat books.

Vance: So I imagine it'd take a couple days, maybe a week at most to dig that out, I think.

Icaria: Yeah, it can be an ongoing thing for now.

Svetlana: Maybe there's a property that already has unclear ownership somewhere?

Svetlana: Though small islands aren't the best place for that.

Icaria: I suppose I may as well borrow some rocky wilderness somewhere.

Icaria: I may as well have a base near the tomb.

Vance: Cloud Tortoise's house is likely abandoned.

Icaria: I can't steal a house from Cloud Sandwich if we're going to free her.

Svetlana: Stately Rain Manor?

Icaria: I'd like to have my own demense but that ain't happening.

Icaria: Speaking of, how many actual manses have I spotted?

Icaria: They must be all kinds of messed up what with all the Pim particles running around the island.

Vance: You have not encountered any so far.

Icaria: Jaspindar's place wasn't one?

Vance: The Tomb is not a manse as much as it is a geomantic anomaly, and none of the Dragon-Blooded are living in manses.

Vance: There may be some, but you haven't seen them.

Icaria: That's interesting. I mean, I doubt there's a good demesne lying around untouched, or if there is it's because it's unpleasantly aspected for some reason.

Icaria: But it's interesting.

Icaria: I'm going to potter about and figure out where the primo occult real estate ought to be.

Vance: Based on your last survey, you think the Tomb is going to make it difficult to pinpoint manses. You can try, but the results are going to be vaguer than normal.

Vance: Roll Intelligence + Occult.

Icaria: If there's a place, somebody probably already built a manse on it even if it's abandoned, which should make it easier.

Vance: Easier than if it were a demesne, yeah.

Icaria: Five.

Vance: So, with pendulum and theodolite, you are able to identify at two major nexuses of dragon lines?one somewhere within the city proper, another towards the southern coast. You can't judge their aspect?the Tomb "outshines" the Essence of other geomancy, as it were.

Icaria: Is there any habitation towards the southern coast?

Vance: The coast is relatively rocky and doesn't have any convenient harbors, so the city itself doesn't stretch down to it. There are people living there, mostly the impoverished, who fish and gather clams to eat.

Icaria: So nothing in particular that says "likely magical building"?

Vance: Nope.

Icaria: How unusual.

Icaria: You'd expect them to be built on even if they'd been altered or damaged later by the opening of the Tomb.

Icaria: Or… possibly they're part of the Tomb complex? Power sources?

Icaria: Some kind of underground battery for the prison.

Vance: It's not necessarily that it's not built on?it's just that there aren't any large buildings standing around on the shore.

Vance: They are not connected to the Tomb.

Icaria: I suppose it could be underground.

Icaria: Well, I can have Citrin root around once we've got our little fortification built.

Icaria: I suppose if it's not hidden inside the city I might as well go wild.

Icaria: A three-story underground library reinforced with sorcery and various magical comforts.

Icaria: Obviously not immediately, but I'm pretty much envisioning the kind of crazy fort you imagined as a kid, as constructed by a sorcerer who read too many novels.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Imagine a little Civilization progress bar gradually filling up.

Vance: What is next on y'all's agenda?

Vance: Come to Jesus moment with Jaspindar?

Zanara: Well, I have a certain recruitment pitch to make if everyone else is? Yeah, that. :3

Vance: Ruining Legate Tran's day?

Icaria: I'd at least like to find out who Legate Tran is.

Icaria: Do we even know what a Legate does?

Icaria: Does she spend all day doing squats, to have the most perfect legs?

Vance: She's a member of the decision-making council.

Vance: …and apparently does sorcerous interior decoration for Jaspindar.

Icaria: One of the members of the League of Legs, an ancient sworn brotherhood of Terrestrials who have mastered leg-based martial arts styles?

Icaria: Not least among them the mysterious Thistledown Calves of Ambiguity Style?

Vance: >.<

Vance: So, Zanara, how are you planning to approach the satrap?

Vance: Just knock on her front door?

Zanara: Mmhmm. No armor, no weapons, just walking up to her front door/gate/whatever keeps out the common folk.

Svetlana: May I accompany you?

Vance: Fair enough.

Icaria: I ought to come, but my presence can't possibly help.

Icaria: I'm sending Rubean.

Zanara: Yeah, sure.

Zanara: Anyone who wants can come hang out and watch this either succeed beyond my greatest expectations or go up in hilarious flames.

Icaria: The flames will be funnier if I come, which is why I'm not coming.

Vance: The three of you are greeted at the door of the satrap's estate by a house servant, his upper arm branded with the House Sesus mon. "Greetings. What business do you have with the Satrap?"

Svetlana: (Svetlana's plan for handling freed slaves boils down to "aagh" "okay, so I'm confiscating wealth, they get the part of that I don't need to keep Gloam going" and "know as much as possible about how the slave-fueled businesses fit into the economic picture in hopes of converting it to a proper business or luring regular people in if the freed slaves depart" but mostly "aagh" so she is glad to be walking into danger instead of working on papers more.)

Zanara: "Tell her the archer has come to pay a visit. She'll want to see me, I assure you."

Vance: The servant, who introduced himself as Moga, turns pale. "I see. I will send word." The door slams shut. A few minutes later, it reopens. "The satrap will receive you in her bedchambers. She is still convalescing."

Zanara: "Of course. Thank you." Zanara smiles and steps inside without the slightest hesitation.

Svetlana: Evdeniya follows, with an air of cheerful curiosity.

Vance: The servant leads you up the spiral staircase to the door of the master bedroom. It is opulent beyond most of your dreams. Silk veils encircle a four-poster bed carved from mahogany, almost certainly weighing a ton at least. Jaspindar declines against a pile of pillows, toying with a gold-plated hookah. Vi rests with her head in her wife's lap, reading through what looks like a satrapial ledger.

Vance: "Zanara, Evdeniya… and that's an elemental, isn't it?" asks Jaspindar, just a bit dulled by the drugs. "Welcome to the last day of my bedrest. I've been coughing up pieces of arrow all week."

Zanara: Zanara's gut clenches, and she visibly flinches as the room comes into view?but a moment's hesitation and a deep breath get her back on track. "Satrap Jaspindar. I'm glad to see that you're mending."

Svetlana: Evdeniya nods companionably when referenced but leaves the words to Zanara.

Vance: "You lot are the best fight I've had since I came here. What are you? God-blooded? Lost eggs? Don't tell me you're just ordinary folk."

Zanara: "Oh, it would spoil the mystery for me to tell you now," Zanara says, smiling.

Vance: "Okay Vi, I'll bet you a home cooked dinner that they end up being lost eggs."

Vance: "And I say they're some kind of Exigents. You're on."

Icaria: "I fear you both lose," says Rubean, "for I am neither."

Vance: "I know that." Jaspindar huffs. "You're… one of the elementals. A… fire quail?"

Icaria: "Close enough."

Icaria: Rubean turns into a duck and spends the rest of the conversation looking quizzically at everybody else and occasionally quacking.

Vance: "I assume you represent the sorcerer."

Icaria: "Quack. Yes."

Vance: "Well, the three of you didn't come here to make small talk. So why did you come here?"

Zanara: (First? As they both participated, and it's a Major intimacy, would I be able to nail them both with it?)

Vance: (I'll say yes.)

Vance: And remind me what all that power does.

Zanara: (I lose the intimacy and they feel the pain they caused, more or less.)

Vance: (KK.)

Zanara: "You'll have to forgive me. I have something of a procedure for cases such as this—which your friends unfortunately interrupted. But with your injuries, I would have had to wait in any case. I think we should start off with this." She steps forward and extends both hands, palms open. "I'll need a hand from each of you."

Vance: (So basically repeatedly dying.)

Zanara: (Being hunted to death, particularl.y)

Vance: "Uh… why?"

Zanara: (Being entirely in someone else's power, etc.)

Zanara: "Because what I carry in my heart is rightfully yours, and I would give it to you."

Vance: (Roll Charisma + Presence)

Zanara: (9, 5m for Harmonious Presence Meditation and 4m for 5 dice from Excellency, all personal)

Vance: Maybe it's just that they're still healing from a savage beat down, but both of them are convinced. They reach out their hands to yours?

Vance: ?and almost immediately fall unconscious.

Icaria: "Qua."

Svetlana: Evdeniya, who was a little above-it-all when she came in, and a bit confused when Zanara asked to touch their hands, moves on to blank.

Svetlana: "Uh… "

Vance: In Jaspindar's dreams, she is running through a burning forest. Behind her there is the sound of thunderous hoofbeats. The riders have the faces of her father and mother, her aunts and uncles. They ride skeletal horses, wreathed in sickly green flame, and bear crude spears of knapped flint.

Vance: Peleps Vi is falling in quicksand, her limbs flailing in panic and driving herself deeper down into the quagmire. All around her there are children with the heads of ants. They surround her, forming a ring of quicksand. Their feet stamp on her, pressing her down, down into the depths.

Vance: Svetlana hears one of the house servants approaching with lunch on a tray (a seafood pho prepared in the traditional local style, a bottle of V'neef wine, candied dates, raw oysters, and creme brulee).

Vance: The two Dynasts are out cold.

Zanara: "Ask them to wait, please. This may take a while." Zanara doesn't take her eyes off the two Dynasts, doesn't let go of their hands.

Svetlana: Svetlana reads intentions on Zanara just to verify that she hasn't completely misjudged who she's dealing with, but I think that can't actually go wrong? So she steps out to do so.

Vance: What do you say to the servant?

Zanara: She means to be here when they wake up, come hell or high water. Anything less would be cruel.

Svetlana: uses Seasoned Criminal Method to make herself a perfect mark for pawning part of a servant's work off on.

Vance: (nice!)

Svetlana: "Ah—" Svetlana says, her expression distracted, coming around a corner in kind of the perfect distance for someone to pass off a tray to and also an awkward position to be passed in the hall.

Vance: The lunch tray is carried by a pretty, androgynous servant with some kind of red spiral design tattooed along her arms. "Hey, you," she says gruffly. "Must be new here. Name's Glamorous Kill Worm. Make yourself useful, and take this tray in for me, would you? My arms are killing me."

Vance: "I don't know what kind of person can eat this fucking much after getting thrashed halfway to death."

Svetlana: "Oh," Evdeniya says, awkwardly. "Oh, um. Yes. Of course." She nods, and bobs her head.

Vance: She offloads the lunch onto you. "See you around, newbie."

Svetlana: Evdeniya straightens from her slouch as the servant depart and brings the tray in, using the Auspicious Tray Relocation Method to find an appropriate location to place it.

Vance: There is a swiveling table sorta deal over the bed.

Zanara: "Thank you," Zanara says. She still hasn't moved.… she might not even be blinking.

Vance: If any of you decide to plunder from the lunch, it is delicious.

Vance: In about an hour, Vi is the first to come to. "What the fuck?"

Icaria: "Qua."

Zanara: Zanara holds tightly to her hand. "You are safe. It was a dream. A dream of the real, but a dream."

Vance: Jaspindar begins to stir. "You realize what this means," Vi says. "There's no way an outcaste could do that to us, Jaspindar."

Vance: "They are definitely the Chosen of some kind of… dream god? Or at least, Zanara is."

Vance: "Which means you are definitely making me dinner."

Zanara: "What I have shown you is the burden of suffering you have left behind you in this world. Both of you. I have carried it since we met. I know how heavy it is."

Vance: "Rrrrngh" is the most that Jaspindar can manage.

Vance: "And why? If you wanted to punish us, you could have killed us before." Vi says. "Or are you just the kind of sadist that revels in emotional torture?"

Zanara: "I am not a sadist," Zanara says, "but you are quite right?I could have killed you before. But that would have served no purpose. Yet another meaningless death? There are better ways to balance these scales."

Vance: Jaspindar grabs the bottle of wine.

Vance: "All the people we hunted," the satrap muses. You made us feel their pain. It strikes me that they were all capital criminals, sentenced to die, and that I executed them lawfully. They suffered, of course, but they had earned that suffering. I did no wrong, killing them."

Vance: "I like you Zanara, honest. Hell of a woman. But you have no right to judge me."

Zanara: "I have every right to judge you," Zanara says. "You torture and kill for sport, and that is only a very small fraction of the harm you have left in your wake?even I could not carry that much pain. You have lived a wicked life."

Vance: "I kill for sport and to uphold Imperial law. Is it wicked, to be enthusiastic in the pursuit of justice?"

Zanara: "You may call it law, but it is not justice. You asked me what I am?I will tell you. I am Heaven's own judgement upon your wickedness, upon the wickedness of this world. What is the law of the Realm against Heaven's?"

Vance: "Careful, Zanara. Those words tread on the border of blasphemy."

Icaria: "Father tells me not to shop hungry."

Vance: "Surely you know that the law of the Realm enjoys the Mandate of Heaven."

Zanara: "I have heard quite differently. From the source."

Svetlana: Evdeniya leans against the wall in the classic Magistrate pose of watching her job in process of being done for her, which admittedly does not clearly endorse either Zanara or Jaspindar.

Vance: (Zanara, Jaspindar is reading your intentions to try and figure out just what your deal with heaven is. What's your Guile?)

Zanara: (3, unless the dice from Harmonious Presence Meditation go into the Guile equation, in which case it's 4).

Vance: They don't

Vance: Do you have the Socialize excellency?

Zanara: I have no Socialize Charms!

Vance: Okay.

Vance: She beats your Guile.

Vance: What intimacy most clearly states your relationship to heaven/the Unconquered Sun?

Zanara: Faith in the Unconquered Sun, mostly likely. Defining.

Vance: "You really are a heretic, aren't you?"

Zanara: "In your eyes, perhaps. But it matters not. You have felt what it is to be powerless, to be ground beneath the weight of something incomprehensibly powerful, if only for a moment. Imagine that for the rest of your life. I have given you both my message, and I offer you a choice: join, and help me to make this world a righteous one?one that you would be proud to give to your children."

Vance: "Don't worry. I meant it as a compliment."

Vance: "Just exactly what do you plan to do?"

Zanara: "Free every slave in Creation, for starters."

Vance: Jaspindar chokes on her wine.

Vance: "Are you joking?" Vi asks. "Gloam alone would explode if you freed the slaves. The merchant families can't stay afloat without the labor. Doing it Creation-wide is just… absurd!"

Svetlana: Evdeniya rubs the corners of her eyes at "Don't worry. I meant it as a compliment," having momentary visions of discovering that the local Dynasts are actually secret Unconquered Sun loyalists who only hunted people because they were being carefully observed by someone it was vital to fool.

Zanara: "Absurd is just another word for 'I can't be bothered.'"

Vance: House Sesus is famous for its atheism.

Vance: "Mad, bad, and dangerous to know" could be the motto.

Vance: "Well, in this case, it's another word for 'completely economically infeasible.' It would collapse the city's economy. Poverty would skyrocket. Famine, sickness, all sorts of unpleasant things." Vi waves the ledger around, as if to indicate that, hey, I'm the Spiral Academy-trained accountant here, not you.

Zanara: "Then the city's economy will have to change. Many things will have to change. You will have to change."

Vance: "The entire Guild would have to change. Ain't happening."

Zanara: "I care very little what happens to the Guild," Zanara says. "Very little at all."

Vance: (roll Charisma + Presence to instill them)

Vance: (and take 2 stunt dice and a sux, and regain 1wp)

Zanara: (14. 3m personal for the Excellency, which taps me on quiet essence!)

Vance: (Nice.)

Vance: "Vi, she's… not entirely wrong." Jaspindar says. "It could be better than it is."

Zanara: "With your help, I know it can be," Zanara says quietly. "Do I have it?"

Vance: "That depends on what you want us to do." Jaspindar says. "I won't be murdering Guildsmen at your beck and call."

Zanara: "We all have our part to play. And no one is at my beck and call. I keep no one in thrall, Jaspindar."

Zanara: "But cultivate a righteous heart, and you will know whether what I ask of you is necessary and correct."

Vance: "So, what's your first request?"

Zanara: Zanara smiles ? and it is a warm, genuine smile. "To rest, and to recover. We'll talk further."

Vance: Jaspindar chuckles. "Fair enough. Next time, don't send me into a freaky ghost nightmare, understand? My mercy stretches only so far."

Zanara: "Leave no suffering behind you, and I can do that for you," Zanara says. "Be well, both of you." She catches Svetlana's eye. "Shall we?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya closes her eyes for a long moment, then opens them and nods. "Of course."

Vance: (I'm starting to get a bit woozy. Do people want to keep going? I could stay up a bit longer.)

Zanara: (Sorry this thing got so huge. ^^; )

Vance: No, it's been fun!

Zanara: (It has!)

Svetlana: (I am OK with ending it. Thank you for running, though!)

Vance: So, everyone gets 5 XP.

Zanara: (Woo. And yes, thanks for running. :smile: )

Icaria: Hooray!

Vance: Anyone uphold an Intimacy for Solar XP?

Zanara: I mean I all but told Jaspindar I'm a Zenith, i think that counts?

Vance: Sure.

Vance: Icaria gets 2 for prying information out of Iron Snow, and Zanara gets 2 for inspiring him to uphold one of her Intimacies. Did Svetlana do any Night-y stuff?

Svetlana: I conceded on Moon Onion and expressed oneness, but I'm not sure if either counts. I may have gained a Night-ish advantage over the slave-holding houses through infiltration, but honestly I think I can get those 2 from standing back and letting Zanara be a Zenith anyway. ^_^

Icaria: I fussed at people who won't stay in their box.

Vance: Okay, so everyone gets 4 Solar XP, let's say

Svetlana: Are we still being loose on training times?

Vance: Yeah.

Svetlana: I am thinking of going for Speed the Wheels to facilitate the economic transition.

Svetlana: I am mentioning this to give you a chance to warn me if we're about to spend the next 20 sessions fighting sea monsters and you'd find that unwise.

Icaria: 2 more sessions until Essence 2.

Zanara: I will probably beef up my social skills and maybe snag a Charm.

  • Icaria wonders what he would buy at Essence 2.

Icaria: I could really use more spells.

Icaria: And maybe invent some Charms to let me do more powerful workings?

Svetlana: I could use so very much. So much.

Svetlana: But oddly I only seem to really want one Essence 2 Charm, I think.

Svetlana: I mean, there are a ton that are great.

Vance: I do not plan to have a sea monster boss rush.

Vance: Economic reform sim is fine by me.

Icaria: All-Encompassing Sorcerer's Sight is useful, but that's in my Supernal anyway.

Icaria: I could probably stand to have some Essence 2 Lore Charms for being right.

Icaria: More Melee is always useful.

Icaria: Or Presence, although that's an Ability I'd have to buy up because I'm bad at it and want to become good.

Vance: You could always go even deeper in your Supernals

Icaria: I've barely used my Supernal.

Icaria: I mean, I'm knee-deep in spirits but they're all mine.

Icaria: I could try to come up with some good bread-and-butter summon enhancers.

Icaria: The ones in Miracles are kind of finicky.

Vance: If only there were a sorcerer NPC who was knee-deep in demons.

Vance: I can help out with that if you'd like.

Icaria: You'd think I'd have noticed that by now.

Vance: Tran is a confirmed sorcerer.

Icaria: Yeah, some summon buffs would be cool, because that's definitely my thing.

  • Svetlana ponders her Supernal.

Svetlana: It still amuses me how utterly disastrous Eye of the Unconquered Sun would be.

Icaria: It's weird that Presence has only 4 Essence 1 Charms.

Svetlana: I need to invent a less disastrous Ear of the Unconquered Sun.

Zanara: I would have taken it Supernal but there are some reaaaally nice Essence 2+ Performance charms, and that's more Zanara's style anyway

Vance: Nostrils of the Unconquered Sun.

Icaria: Although, Harmonious Presence Meditation wouldn't be terrible for Icaria.

Svetlana: The left nostril snorts righteousness; the right snorts fire.

Icaria: That's basically a free three-dice Excellency all the time.

Svetlana: Presumably Ear of the Unconquered Sun would emit sound.

  • Svetlana ponders that.

Icaria: And Tongue of the Unconquered Sun emits species that transmit the feeling of what you taste when you taste nothing at all.

Icaria: Svetlana-flavored ice cream.

Svetlana: Or possibly it would just emit an air of clarity with an underlying subliminal tone.

Vance: @randbrittain What kind of summoning buffs are you thinking about?

Icaria: That's a good question. I wonder what isn't broken?

Icaria: A Charm that inspires summoned spirits and makes noncombatants into combatants might be cool.

Vance: the Survival tree familiar buffs are probably a fair comparison

Vance: What would the flavor of that be?

Icaria: Hm, probably flavoring their Essence with symbols of war, or something.

Icaria: I was thinking it would probably just add some kind of basic "fighter" package to their quick character sheet.

Svetlana: For miles around the backdrop silence of the world and all the random meaningless noise in it is replaced with a subliminal, almost inaudible droning mantra as the world gives praise eternal unto the Unconquered Sun. Against the context of that mantra all sounds of import become eerily, achingly clear, and of known place. No voice may disguise itself, nor may a lie be spoken…

Icaria: Being able to bind additional familiars for XP would also be useful.

Vance: Lemme read the anima and make sure that doesn't break anything.

Vance: Hmm.

Vance: I will say that if you buy the familiar merit for a spirit with XP, it doesn't count towards the limit.

Icaria: That works.

Icaria: It's more expensive than Spirit-Tied Pet, but it's doable.

Icaria: Or wait, in 3e Spirit-Tied Pet doesn't create a new familiar.

Svetlana: probably makes the Solar's position as the center of things obvious, for parallel with Eye. Hm, the range is tricky, because sound is inherently 360 degrees and long range but that makes the Charm too powerful to carry some of the standard effects like breaking resplendent destinies.

Icaria: Having Charms to teach spirits new powers probably isn't necessary because I can use workings for that.

Icaria: Instead of breaking illusions, it drives people to tell you what's in their secret hearts.

Icaria: Hm, yeah, Icaria's next step is probably to buy up Presence and become a sexy wrecking ball that destroys all of Gloam's shipping grids.

Icaria: Although, I worry that I have drawn everybody's potential love interests into my web of gay fan fiction.

Icaria: Mind, Icaria randomly deciding that the apparent villain and apparent Gandalf are tragic exes doesn't actually make it so.

Svetlana: I guess Dedicated Unerring Ear is meant to be the hearing equivalent of Eye of the Unconquered Sun but it's… well, OK, it's slightly more useful this session than last session.

Icaria: Unless I roll very high on Lore.

Svetlana: Or Brawl.

Svetlana: Clinches have great power.

Svetlana: "NOW KISS."

Icaria: Seems logical!

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