In Which So Is Cheating And So Is Forging Phoney Magic Keys

Vance: So, let's start off with the current runnings:

Vance: Serestala is in the lead with 30 chips. She'll need 6 to buy back her Resources rating.

Vance: Camena has 21 chips. She'll need 4 to buy back the various trinkets she offered Plentimon.

Vance: Cehlarik, Who Stirs The Cauldron of Memory, has 9 chips, but will need 15 to buy back his memory of the Games of Divinity.

Vance: Sinner has 7 chips, and needs 8 to buy back her ghost-library.

Vance: Svetlana has 6 chips. She needs 6 to buy back her sight, 6 to buy back Svetlana's Backing, and 3 to buy back her case files.

Vance: Zanara has 4 chips, and needs 6 to buy back her Cult.

Vance: Mordanun has 2 chips, and needs 6 to buy back his arm.

Zanara: I think I need 6 for my Intimacy too, right?

Vance: Icaria's just watching!

Icaria: People sometimes indicate that they think Icaria is less than intelligent. He honestly has no idea why.

Vance: Oh, yeah.

Zanara: Yeah, that thing is important. More important than Zanara thinks it is.

Serestala: Okay, so, current plan is buy back all our stuff that I can. Also probably Mordanun's arm, because that could be handy.


Serestala: Heh.

Serestala: I didn't mean to do that.

Zanara: So it was just an off-hand comment?

Serestala: They're going to ban us from the room.

Vance: You stand on a floating promenade over the arena that is the staging ground for Round Four. In each corner is a different beast for you to bet on—a massive cephalopodian behemoth, a brass construct with lightning sparking from its armors, one of the terrible Gigantes of Dis, and a feathered tyrant lizard from the East.

Icaria: While y'all run your fingers along your vocabularies, the Mask of Winters is about to get his mitts on the skeleton key to doom!

Vance: Plentimon places down a bowl to collect your chips. "Feel free to examine the contenders before placing your bet."

Serestala: Serestala immediately goes for the Tyrant Lizard. "What's its name!?"

Icaria: These gigantes—handsome creatures?

Vance: Nah.

Vance: A thirty-foot tall ogre, long-limbed and grey-skinned, with great gnashing teeth and sorcerous sigils tattooed up and down the length of them.

Icaria: Oh, he has sorcery? I will root, unofficially, for that one.

Camena: Camena remains silent, but considers the cephalopod.

Svetlana: Evdeniya squints haplessly at the various contenders, trying to make out more than a blur, while her nose and ears carefully catalogue every detail available to them, from the Tyrant Lizard's diet to the gigantes' current stress hormone production.

Vance: Evdeniya, make a (Perception + Awareness) roll.

Camena: You know who would be good at introducing facts about these things? Some kind of Lore dude.

Vance: Indeed.

Svetlana: 5 successes.

Svetlana: (And a bit more on hearing, for what that's worth, because the different senses are wonky.)

Icaria: I don't mind a bit of Lore, but how do I know what the other contestants will bet on?

Vance: The tyrant lizard is at the height of good health, well-fed on a diet of what appears to be primarily cattle, and the occasional player who tried to cheat the house.

Icaria: Can one of the people persons tell me what the deathknight is thinking?

Icaria: Read her evil brain and tell me what she'll bet, and I'll explain why she's wrong!

Vance: The automaton sentinel smells of ozone, and hums with the strange whir of impossible machinery beneath its armor. There's not much you can figure out from it.

Icaria: Says you!

Vance: The squid-behemoth smells of salt and seafoam and…fear? Normally that's not a smell, but your nose is definitely picking up the distinct scent of fear.

Icaria: Okay, admittedly, automata is not my field.

Vance: The gigantes smells… bad. And decidedly inhuman.

Svetlana: Evdeniya has a brief and dizzying moment where she tries to crack this puzzle by imagining various dinner parties in which all four were found dead, playing out different forensic configurations, and working out which one is actually faking, but ultimately rules this out as a gambling technique. Though, to be frank, the automaton is totally the culprit.

Vance: Mordanun makes his bid. "Two on the tyrant lizard."

Svetlana: Evdeniya frowns. "That one has tentacles, right?" she says, pointing. "I don't like tentacles."

Vance: The demon Cehlarik, whose lower body is a whole bunch of tentacles/scorpion tails, huffs.

Camena: "So… exact circumstances of this little bet, Plentimon?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya is attempting to instill a minor positive Tie to the squid in the deathknight, because the deathknight clearly really doesn't like her.

Vance: Circuitous! Roll it with Manipulation.

Vance: Plentimon smiles with his facial constellations. "This round's betting is a bit like horse racing. Each of you can bid however much you want on any of these four monsters—or all of them, if you want!"

Zanara: (Zanara’s just going to cover bases by betting for whoever y’all don’t. She’s accepting that she’s trash at gambling, lol.)

Vance: "The pot gets split between everyone who bet on the winning monster."

Vance: "Now, you won't be allowed to interfere in this fight—you can't try to attack any of them, or run in there to protect them. But if you want to cheer on your champion, or maybe do a little more, that's perfectly fair."

Svetlana: 5 successes (1 WP).

Camena: "I should like to request that only those who bet should be allowed to do absolutely anything at all during this round, cheering included."

Svetlana: "…breathing excepted."

Vance: "Non-bettors can stand behind a line."

Vance: "It would be cheating for them to interfere, and I'll catch that."

Camena: "And… Plentimon. The winner, at the end of this round, they receive all their stakes back in addition to the key?"

  • Icaria pushes his chair behind a line.

Icaria: Whatever! I don't have to talk to be right.

Vance: Sinner is eyeing both the cephalohemoth and the gigantes.

Vance: "Not this round—we still have one more afterwords. But yes, the winner gets their stake back, and the key."

Svetlana: Evdeniya pauses, puzzled. "What's the motivation to bet more than 1?"

Camena: "Or to bet at all, for that matter."

Vance: "The winnings up proportionately to your stake."

Vance: "You're certainly free to refrain from betting this round, but with the number of chips you have, I wouldn't recommend that.

Serestala: "Five on Nippy over here," Serestala says. Apparently she has named the Tyrant Lizard in the time since you've entered the room.

Vance: Plentimon sighs, because once you give a tyrant lizard a name you can't undo that.

Vance: "I'll split the difference," Sinner finally says, practicing elegant legerdemain with her chips. "Three on the sea beast, and three on the giant."

Camena: Camena looks at this all, very unhappily. "Seven on the squid; three on the construct."

Svetlana: Evdeniya sighs. "Five on the giant," she says.

Vance: Cehlarik lays down a single chip on the squid.

Zanara: Zanara watches how everyone else bets, sees that every base has been covered, and drops a single chip in the bowl. “One on the giant.” She has three left.

Icaria: Hm, Svetlana has chosen wisely. Unfortunately the deathknit has chosen correctly also.

Vance: "Any final bets?"

Icaria: I can see the markings on that gigantes quite clearly, and they show a certain degree of readiness that almost indicates forethought.

Icaria: The gigantes represents earth, you see, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to the tyrant lizard (earth) and an advantage against the squiddle (water).

Icaria: But the glyphs negate that disadvantage.

Svetlana: Evdeniya tries to hide her flicker of a glance in Plentimon's direction when he offers final bets. "I'd like to apologize, Cehlarik," Evdeniya says. "I was just trying to steer Sinner towards the squid."

Icaria: It's in a really good position assuming the automaton doesn't have anti-earth breath.

Vance: Introduce that fact!

Icaria: I'll spend ten motes, because I can, and roll nine successes.

Vance: "A conniving ruse. Your apology is accepted."

Icaria: Reality rearranges itself around the crystalline truths which my diamond mind constructs.

Vance: Seeing no final bets, Plentimon produces a small bone whistle, and blows into it. You hear no sound, by the chains and fetters holding back the beasts shatter with the resonance it produces.

Vance: The round has started!

Icaria: Sadly, the matrix closes before I can insert the additional caveat that too much stress will cause the gigantes to take on a more powerful and sexy form.

Vance: The intended structure of this round is that it will alternate amongst you and the other players cheating to intervene in the match.

Svetlana: (…but we are noble and honest and frightened of Plentimon's alertness!)

Vance: The allowable form of cheating.

Vance: At the very outset, the tyrant lizard goes after the automaton. That's odd—you wouldn't normally expect it to go after something it can't eat.

Svetlana: Duh, Yasu's in there.

Icaria: Yeah, wood doesn't control fire!

Serestala: "Sweep the legs, Nippy! SWEEP THE LEGS!" Serestala roars at the Tyrant Lizard.

Vance: The gigantes keeps at the edges of that fight, hoping to gang up on the loser.

Vance: Serestala, roll (Charisma + Presence).

Serestala: 3 successes.

Vance: The tyrant lizard doesn't appear to know martial arts, but Serestala's shouted encouragement seems to reach it, and it knocks the automaton flat on its back with a mighty blow

Vance: Serestala, your intentions are being read!

Serestala: Serestala has a guile of 1. They probably succeed.

Vance: Indeed they do.

Vance: But this isn't a normal read intentions action—it's a kind of magic.

Vance: Whoever's doing this wants to know what Serestala will do with the key.

Vance: Could you narrate a quick flashback that answers that question?

Serestala: Serestala exits Plentitmon's casino and tosses the key to Kumaria. She can already hear Zanara shouting at her to be more careful with the key just in case something happens to it. "Well, that was fun," she says. "Now I believe there was a matter of a sword discussed?" Kumaria gives a grave nod as she hands over a simple metal blade to the Dawn. Serestala gives a few experimental swings and grins feeling the metal not bending or the blade shattering as normally happens with swords in her grip. "Well, that was worth a little detour."

Vance: Serestala, you don't know who provoked this vision, but on the other side of the spiritual connection, you get a feeling of bafflement.

Svetlana: Evdeniya… does not realize yet that Serestala's chips can be used to buy back her precious things, so she is quite conflicted. In the end, though, if the gigantes wins, Sinner also advances, just… less. But can she really root for the tyrant lizard here? Finally, she manages a fist-pump and a few hoarse words. "Yes. Go, Nippy."

Vance: The tyrant lizard is probably cheer-ed out. It has the automaton on its back, although the sparking barrel of the construct's lightning ballista aren't going down easy.

Vance: The squid-behemoth lunges into motion with entirely more speed than it should, advancing towards the tyrant lizard in a blur of motion.

  • Camena watches the construct get withered with a sour look, but that might just be how she feels around Plentimon.

Svetlana: Evdeniya gives the squid-behemoth a freezing glare. "Don't even," she snaps, pointing at it with an exaggerated arm motion.

Camena: Camena shoots Evdeniya a cold, cold look

Vance: "This," Sinner complains, "is taking far too long." She closes her eyes and begins to chant, and her anima banner flares to bonfire, wreathing her in the image of a skeletal saint with four arms and obsidian wings. She gazes down on the arena with a cold, terrible majesty.

Camena: Of course, she probably can't see.

Camena: Camena springs to her feet. "What is she doing?"

Svetlana: (Between the freezing glare, the cold, cold look, and the cold, terrible majesty, it should start snowing. ^_^ )

Vance: She radiates absolute terror from her mien.

Vance: "Hey, fuck off!" she yells.

Vance: The tyrant lizard scurries away from her, although both the behemoth and the gigantes seem excluded from her opprobrium. The automaton lacks the humanity to feel fear, of course.

Camena: Camena's dragonsigh wand leaps to hand in an instant as she closes the gap towards Sinner.

Camena: "Fucking tacky, bitch," the Eclipse says, and Octavian crosses to his mistress like a mountainous shadow.

Camena: "You going to call this cheater out?" she asks, turning to Plentimon.

Vance: "I said no attacking or defending," Plentimon replies nonchalantly. "That's just intimidation."

Camena: …so, I'm pretty sure that rings Camena's Limit bell.

Vance: Fun!

Camena: One sec, rolling.

  • Camena gives a relieved sigh.

Vance: Awww.

Camena: Just at Limit 9 now

Zanara: (Hmm. Could I use Rout-Stemming Gesture on the Tyrant Lizard’s behalf?)

Vance: Yes!

Zanara: (It lets me make a reflexive rally with +[Essence] successes.)

Vance: Roll (Charisma/Appearance + War), with the successes.

Zanara: “If such is fair game,” Zanara says, smiling, “then so is this. NIPPY! Do you fear such as this wretch, whom you could swallow whole with but a trifling effort?! FIGHT, DAMN YOU!”

Vance: Two-point stunt!

Zanara: Five.

Svetlana: "Ah," Evdeniya says. "I… can't actually enjoy the thrill of the gamble when I'm more nervous about the people standing around me than about winning or losing? I mean, what with the supernatural horror and the potential brawl breaking out at any second and all?"

Vance: Nippy harks to Zanara's words. It locks eyes with Sinner, bellows, and charges… towards the platform.

Zanara: …oops.

Vance: "What did you do!" Mordanun shouts, seemingly out of nowhere.

Zanara: “…I suppose I’m not as out of practice as I thought.”

Vance: He closes his eyes and seems to attempt rhythmic breathing, but nothing comes of his prana.

Vance: "I can't control its mind at all!"

Icaria: "That's a great trick."

Icaria: "Here, let me massage your temples."

Vance: The gigantes takes the opportunity to finish off the automaton, bringing one massive foot down on the machine as it struggles to rise.

Vance: With a bit of effort, it wrenches one of the lightning ballista from the automaton's arm, and takes aim at the squid.

Camena: Octavian loses a gutteral roar at the gigantes.

Svetlana: "OK, screw it, that I have to cheer," Evdeniya admits.

Icaria: "Here, here!"

Svetlana: Evdeniya, momentarily ignoring the apparition of supernatural horror beside her and the charging tyrant lizard pumps a fist and whoops.

Camena: It shakes the earth itself with the intensity of his hatred, and the bindings that connect his heart to Camena's own, their breathing suddenly in time with one another.

Icaria: I need to wave a flag.

Vance: Sinner would cheer the gigantes, but she has bigger issues on her mind—the tyrant lizard is still charging, eyes locked with hers.

Icaria: Yet I have none.

Icaria: I'd better tear a strip of fabric off one of my shoulders.

Svetlana: Surely you have some sort of shipping-related flag.

  • Icaria waves it heartily.

Serestala: "Well, Nippy sure seems eager if nothing else."

Camena: 11 successes to threaten the Gigantes.

Vance: Octavian is effective—the gigantes' aim is broken as the demon bellows. The charging lightning ballista misfires, sending out a lance of lightning that rebounds from the dome of this arena's false sky.

Vance: This proves a prime opportunity for the squid, which grapples the giant in a massive tendril, and begins dragging it towards the ten-petaled bloom of its beak.

Vance: Nippy is… getting pretty close to your platform now.

Svetlana: Evdeniya ponders, then begins sifting through her makeup kit and Svetlana's medicines, poking through this bottle and that, sniffing each a time or two.

Icaria: Does Plentimon seem like he's going to do anything about this?

Vance: Nope!

Icaria: Oh, good. That means I don't have to stop him.

Icaria: Still, there's no reason why he should be paying his full attention to the games.

Vance: Plentimon is pleased as punch.

Icaria: I pull on Plentimon's sleeve. "Hey. Hey. Does this usually happen? I didn't know gambling was this exciting."

Svetlana: After a few moments, Evdeniya pulls together a collection of small glass bottles with just the right mix of the six notes of scent to replicate eau de severe squid fear pretty stenchily, if mixed, which she drops.

Icaria: This, with any luck, brings his eye-stars into cosmic conjunction with my newly-bared left shoulder.

Vance: Also the Mask of Winters, Sinner, Cehlarik, and Mordanun

Vance: Make your roll!

Icaria: A seduction roll?

Vance: Evdeniya, what ability should that be rolled with?

Vance: Whatever the activation roll for your working is?

Icaria: It doesn't really have one, we decided.

Vance: Oh right, they make Integrity rolls.

Icaria: I can make a seduction roll if you still think that's necessary to distract him.

Vance: Nah.

Svetlana: That is a really good question. I am going to go with 'Survival.'

Vance: "Say, Icaria," Plentimon says, definitely not distracted. "Why didn't you place a bet?"

Vance: Okay, roll… (Wits + Survival)?

Icaria: "Ah, didn't you ever hear the story of the girl who traded her eyes to a sea witch for beauty?"

Icaria: "It's really quite a long one but in summary, everybody winds up dead."

Icaria: "Anyway, the math is adequately complicated as it is. I'm not even sure who I'm supposed to be rooting for!"

Svetlana: 3 successes.

Vance: The tyrant lizard is momentarily nonplussed. Squid? Squid smell here? Squid isn't here. Squid over there. Why squid smell here?

Vance: This proves all Mordanun needs. His eyes close, and when they open they are rolled back into his head.

Vance: The tyrant lizard stops in mid-charge, and begins advancing deliberately on the behemoth.

Icaria: Look over here, dammit!

Svetlana: Evdeniya considers. "Icaria, in the novelization, can we say I planned that?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya is unswayed by Icaria's glorious form not merely because of the Red Rule but also because all she can see is a blotch of sunlight in his direction.

Icaria: "Sure, I'm writing it down as we speak."

Icaria: So far literally nobody has been swayed.

Vance: Plentimon is swayed!

Vance: "Writing? That's so… admirable."

Serestala: "Yeah, Nippy!" Serestala whoops and hollers at the Tyrant Lizard. Serestala is too busy falling in love with a destructive hyper-carnivore to fall in love with Icaria.

Camena: "I really need all of you to stop attacking my monster," Camena says through gritted teeth. You don't have to read her to know that she's considering murdering Mordanun.

Icaria: "Yes, it's truly the noblest of professions—preserving the world's most valuable knowledge for future generations! And while other people are doing that, I write really terrible novels."

Vance: The behemoth tightens it coils around the gigantes. It's starting to get unpleasant to watch.

Icaria: "They're so great; you have to read some."

Vance: "Oh, the stories I could tell you—you should write them all down! Why don't you stay after this, for dinner and and a show?"

Icaria: "The notion is deeply appealing, but I've never yet attended a party with this crowd that I didn't leave through a hole in the wall, usually riding some kind of giant lizard."

Vance: "You say that as though it's a problem."

Icaria: "It was kind of you to provide the lizard yourself; it will save Camena trouble."

Icaria: "True; maybe we'll just carry you with us. That's one way to ensure the house doesn't win; just take it along when you go."

  • Camena is visibly shaking with rage.

Vance: "Uh oh. It seems like your Circlemate is visibly shaking with rage?"

Vance: "Hope it's not at me."

Icaria: "After a while you just stop noticing. Here, do you have a piece of art you could wave in front of her face?"

Serestala: "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGH…" Serestala glances over at Camena. "Something the matter?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya moves so that Sinner is between herself and Camena.

Icaria: For the record I was implying that Camena would be saved the trouble of stealing a giant lizard, not that she was one. But these small misunderstandings do happen!

Camena: No, Camena's just experiencing near-Limit-Break.

Svetlana: "I hope I can count on you to defend the rest of us if somebody loses control," Evdeniya asides to the horrifically fearsome deathknight.

Camena: It's like near-Third-Impact.

Camena: And will probably look roughly similar.

Svetlana: Evdeniya's expression is very sincere and honest, as befits a simple backcountry Magistrate.

Vance: "…um… yeah," Sinner responds, a little flustered.

Icaria: What, in particular, are you stressed about? Too much jiggery-pokery and not enough crimes?

Camena: Plentimon. Camena is not a fan.

Icaria: That's going to make things difficult when I carry him along with us.

Vance: "Maybe," the starry god whispers into Icaria's ear, "You could explain to her just how charming and wonderful I am, once you get to know me? You're a writer, after all."

Zanara: Zanara and Camena agree on something, stop the presses!

Icaria: "Hm," says Icaria, "it would certainly be nice to give her a reason to smile once more. To assist in the renaissance of her jaded pirate heart."

Svetlana: Evdeniya smiles, nods, and turns back to squint at the squid. "I'm tapped out, by the way," she says, "so if you want to keep the gigantes in play until the tyrant lizard is gone this is pretty much your last chance."

Icaria: "Maybe I could write a poem? Oh, man, I'm going to have to look up a bunch of words having to do with stars."

Icaria: "You'd better start listing your good qualities."

Vance: "I bestow good luck."

Icaria: "Hm, fortunate stars, yes…"

Icaria: "That's probably been done before, but we can workshop it."

Vance: "Fabulously wealthy, too!"

Svetlana: (But how much of it is buried on desert islands?)

Vance: "And a heaven-defying bad boy."

Icaria: "That's a pretty heady combination. I was going to ask about that, actually; how did you get into this situation?"

Icaria: "Setting the heroes of light and the lords of death gambling against each other for the key to ultimate destruction, I mean."

Vance: "It's a high like no other. Beats filing paperwork in heaven."

Vance: "The wagers—the intrigue—the subterfuge—the passion of victory and defeat—it's the best!"

Icaria: "It definitely has a literary ring," Icaria agrees.

Icaria: Zanara, I don't suppose you have a few dozen lingering regrets from people killing by apocalypse weapons lying about the place, do you?

Zanara: Sadly, no.

Icaria: How are things on the battlefield?

Vance: There's a messy schlorp, and the gigantes bursts into a storm of falling meat in the behemoth's clutches. The Mordanun-controlled tyrant lizard is trying to sneak up on it from behind its own vast bulk.

Icaria: "That's an elemental travesty!"

Vance: "That's gambling, baby!"

Camena: Camena crosses over to Mordanun and gives him a few mean spirited shakes. Maybe a pinch.

Icaria: Get your hands out of my clearly established protectorate!

Svetlana: "The first two rounds were gambling," Evdeniya says, judiciously. "These two seem to be tests of power, to be honest."

Camena: "Wake up, kiddo. No easy wins for the reptile."

Vance: Mordanun's trance breaks as an annoyed Camena slaps him. Simultaneously, the tyrant lizard stops sneaking, reverting back to its instinctual behavior and charging the behemoth.

Vance: "Why did you do that?" the young man screams, the tiles beneath him shattering in a spray of debris.

Serestala: "Nippy doesn't need his help anyways." I hope.

Camena: "Why not?"

Camena: "Besides, you can't tell me that you were comfortable in that thick skull."

Vance: His voice is two-toned now, his ordinary timbre and a menacing basso profundo. "I nearly had it! I could have won this round. You turned me into a failure."

Camena: "And you almost did that to me. And I did that to most of my teammates. It's the circle of pettiness."

Svetlana: Evdeniya looks up at Sinner. She clears her throat meaningfully and glances in the direction of Camena and Mordanun.

Vance: "You know what this means to me, Camena. This is my only chance to be free of my curse."

Vance: "If you're going to stop me… well, I'm not going to hold back."

Icaria: "Maybe we should hide under this convenient table," says Icaria.

Vance: He begins to rise up into the air. Sinner gives Evdeniya a what-am-I-supposed-to-do look?

Icaria: Oh, lord.

Icaria: I attempt to do… counter… stuff.

Svetlana: Evdeniya gives her an I have no idea, but something look and a hand wave that vaguely refers back to her earlier comment about being tapped out.

Vance: A spiritual pressure like the blade of a falling guillotine descends on Camena, emanating from Mordanun's remaining hand like ripples in a still pond.

Vance: But… well, her luck is pretty good.

Vance: Who would have expected one of the stone fragments churned up by Mordanun's fury would be responsible for blunting the force of his blow?

Vance: "Play nice, kids." Plentimon chastises. "Actually, I think…"

Svetlana: (Evdeniya is trying to disorient Sinner as to which side everyone's on, possibly get actual help in defusing things, and distract her from the fight in case the tyrant lizard is winning.)

Vance: There is a cry of primal victory, and the behemoth swallows the tyrant lizard whole.

Camena: Camena stares him down, a wisp of silver-white essence streaming from her caste mark. "You want to get rid of your curse? Fine. Great. We'll help. But you don't get to sell Creation out to the highest bidder to do it."

Serestala: "NIPPY!"

Vance: "An incredible turnabout!" Plentimon says, excitedly. "Now, time to hand out the rewards."

Camena: Camena turns, rolls her neck in satisfaction-anger.

Vance: Plentimon offers her a plate of 21 chips.

Serestala: Serestala frowns and slouches at the disappearance of her beloved tyrant lizard. "Not all prizes are worth it."

Camena: Camena throws three of the chips to Mordanun, and then refunds her circle mates their bets.

Vance: The arena begins to dissolve, like flecks of paint being drawn off of a wall by magic. The space collapses into ephemerality, and begins to reconfigure itself into a backstage area.

Zanara: Zanara pats Serestala on the shoulder. “She fought valiantly. We’ll have a drink for her later… once my stomach doesn’t feel like it’s been knifed.”

Vance: "Now, before Round Five begins, you may want to exchange your chips to get back what you staked. Otherwise, you might not have enough to claim them back, later."

Camena: The Eclipse flings four chips at Plentimon, harder than is strictly necessary but softer than is strictly violent.

Vance: The various treasures you exchanged for them reappear in front of you, intact and unchanged. "Rude."

Camena: "Correct."

Zanara: Wait wait. When you say refunds… just for that round, right? Because I’m nine in the hole. ^^;

Vance: "Who do you think kept you from getting split in half back there?"

Camena: Just for the round.

Vance: This is the last round, so now is probably the time to share chips.

Zanara: Alright, back up to four then.

Svetlana: Ah, chips can't be shared after the final round?

Vance: Plentimon is being somewhat unclear, but the implication is that you don't want to get caught at the end and still not have made the trade.

Vance: Mordanun waves the god off. "It's just an arm."

Vance: Sinner plays with her chips. "How many do we need for the fifth round?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya frowns thoughtfully.

Vance: Plentimon grins. "Well, I can't tell you everything…but Round Five is very simple. All you have to do is answer a question."

Vance: "You'll bet two times. First, before you answer, and then after you see the audience."

Icaria: "…deeply suspicious."

Vance: "And your bet will be multiplied by the audience's approval of your answer to determine the final winner."

Serestala: "Money was made to be lost, I suppose," Serestala shrugs and then looks to her circle. "How much do you need?"

Camena: I am super unsure of how much I have left now.

Zanara: “Worry not about me,” Zanara says. “Victory is the most important thing. I will sacrifice if I must.”

Vance: I have Camena at 13.

Camena: Okay.

Svetlana: Evdeniya runs her hand through her hair. She thinks. "How much can it multiply it by?"

Vance: "One chip's the minimum to get in. Two chips doubles your score, three chips triples it, and so on."

Svetlana: "I'm not completely sure I understand," Evdeniya says. "So if I have six chips, the best possibility is nine and then twenty?"

Svetlana: "And the audience rating is meaningless except as a yes/no?"

Vance: "The audience's approval will be measured as a number. Who knows how high you can get them to go?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya nods.

Svetlana: "After losing four rounds, I'd quite like to buy my sight back before the fifth, but it's still the fate of the world, so, no, no purchases."

Serestala: "Well, I think I'm buying them back for her then. Zanara's memories as well."

Zanara: “I said I’m willing to make the sacrifice,” Zanara protests. “Save your winnings.”

Serestala: Serestala shrugs. "Well, money goes to my head. Never a good look."

Vance: Svetlana regains her eyesight!

  • Icaria breathes a sigh of relief. The whole metaphysical trading business bothered him way more than he's comfortable admitting.

Svetlana: "Speaking of which," Evdeniya says. "Quick poll on whether Serestala, Camena, the group, or none should wager that old hunk of a vessel that chased us down?"

Icaria: "Aye."

Zanara: (Oh it bothers the hell out of Zanara too but she refuses to be whatever her weird definition of “selfish” is)

Icaria: (Icaria apparently doesn't, and at the end of the session I probably need to roll Limit over that.)

Vance: Plentimon purrs his way over to Zanara. "If I didn't know better, it sounds like you don't want that memory back."

Zanara: “Would you believe that I don’t remember?” she says, smiling.

Camena: "Aye."

Vance: "Now, it's no good if you want to lose it. Let's raise the stakes."

Camena: "Leave her be, god."

Camena: If contempt were firedust, the whole place might be en flambee right about now.

Svetlana: Evdeniya has a flash of inspiration, and tries to figure out how hard it is to psych herself up into really wanting to hang on to something that she'd currently rather get rid of.

Vance: "If you want to play in this last round, and have a chance at winning the key, you'll need to wager… something more. Excite me."

Svetlana: (Is that to Zanara or all of us?)

Vance: "If not… maybe this memory comes back. With or without certain passengers."

Vance: (Zanara.)

Icaria: "I think we'll find you already made the rules about who can participate," says Icaria.

Icaria: He is really quite angry.

Vance: "That'll be your initial bid. For everyone else, one chip."

Icaria: "I don't much care for extortion."

Vance: Plentimon looks at Icaria. "What's wrong, baby? The house reserves the right to shake up the rules if things get boring."

Zanara: “With no offense meant to your divine milieu… I rather mislike gambling, but at least it has rules. You made the rules. Don’t try to change them now.”

Camena: "You know, I was about to say: It's all just a game to you. But of course it is."

Icaria: ………

Vance: Zanara, roll Presence

Zanara: Six.

Vance: "Very well, if you insist upon it. Maybe you'll regret that you missed this opportunity to get your memory back."

  • Icaria does not Join Battle.

Serestala: "I just said I'd buy it!" Serestala says.

Vance: "Not yours to buy."

Zanara: “Perhaps I will regret it,” Zanara says. “But I think you will regret antagonizing me far more.”

Zanara: (Also, Zanara’s anima is going.)

Serestala: "So I give her the chips. What does it matter? I swear you're a sorer loser than Camena."

Vance: "You can give her the chips all you want, but if she doesn't ask for her memory back, I'm not going to give it back unwanted."

Vance: "…anymore."

Svetlana: "I'd like to wager my fated death at Tourmaline," Evdeniya offers, prepared to use Inverted Ego Mask at a moment's notice to twist her perspective on the whole thing into an apparent death wish. "But either way, one chip."

Zanara: (Zanara is definitely coming away from this with a negative intimacy towards gambling. XD )

Serestala: "I wager all of it."

Vance: "If I accepted death as a stake, I'd be paid in nothing else."

Svetlana: ( It's probably a Storyteller check and not a mystic read intentions that validates bets, though, so that's acceptable. )

Vance: The other three follow Svetlana's lead, placing one chip each.

Svetlana: "One second," Evdeniya says. "Could you explain the doubling thing more clearly?"

Vance: "Your total score is your audience rating times your bid."

Icaria: Your take will be equal to (S * X), where S is the number of chips you stake and X is a number determined by the will of the audience we don't know who it is in reaction to stimuli we don't know what they are.

Svetlana: Evdeniya pushes three of her six chips forward, then, and not one.

Camena: Camena puts down three, too.

Zanara: Zanara sets all four of hers forward.

Vance: "And now, time to reveal our audience!"

Svetlana: "In fairness," Evdeniya says, "you'd probably also get aging, disease, folly…"

Vance: The curtain flies back, revealing an auditorium whose seats are filled with a hundred devils, all disalike. Women with bear's heads, knights caparisoned in liturgies and smoke, idols of living metal, writhing insect dancers, reflections without mirrors.

Vance: The Fair Folk.

Serestala: (I done fucked up.)

Icaria: "Oh noooooooooooo!"

Zanara: Zanara grits her teeth, but keeps her features composed somehow.

Vance: "Welcome to Fair is Foul!" Plentimon exclaims. "The Diving Sea Snake Casino's favorite game, where you—the audience—determines who lives and who dies!"

Vance: There is a fanfare of applause.

Zanara: (So. How hard would it be to take Plentimon in a fight?)

Svetlana: Evdeniya blinks brightly at the audience. "Goodness," she says. "Thank you for buying my sight back."

Camena: So, Camena is basically a barely constrained Hate Elemental right now.

Zanara: (Anyone else thinking that?)

Vance: "Now, say hello to our special guests—guests, why don't you introduce yourselves, and make that second bet?"

Serestala: "Seemed like the right thing to do…" Serestala says staring at the audience. "This next part might have been easier without it though."

Icaria: (Oh, I've been thinking it. I just can't really see fighting him without also fighting Mask of Winters and also any guards who happen to be around.)

Vance: Sinner frowns, briefly contemplating swapping out her remaining chips for the sapphire, but chastising that thought from her mind (and her expressive features). She goes all in.

Camena: How many does that put her at?

Vance: 8.

Serestala: "I don't have anything left to bet."

Icaria: It's all down to Svetlana and the theater of monsters.


Icaria: (courtesy of a sidereal)

Svetlana: Evdeniya has absolutely no idea what you're talking about and no trauma relating to Fair Folk or threater in any from.

Icaria: Can she act?

Vance: Mordanun approaches Plentimon. "I have some more body parts I'd like to exchange."

Icaria: Or… wait…

Vance: "Oh?"

Icaria: This is a really good time to know Black Claw.

Vance: "The other arm. My legs. My eyes."

Svetlana: Yeah, I've been saving enough motes for Open Palm Caress.

Camena: "I told you to stop that," Camena says to Mordanun. "We'll help. We'll get it sorted. Stop being a bloody martyr."

Svetlana: That is… pretty much all I got, admittedly.

Vance: As he names them, they vanish, clean and bloodless. He does not fall—instead, a shimmering vapor of anima emerges from him, swirling into monstrous limbs to replace those traded away.

  • Icaria reconsiders his vow to be the first to bone a new Exalt type.

Vance: "I'll be taking the key now," it says, in a voice that is surely not Mordanun's. 24 chips manifest in its hand, and it adds them to the pool.

Svetlana: Seeing as no one is introducing themselves, Evdeniya shrugs and steps forward. "Tepet Evdeniya," she says. "Magistrate of the Realm. I am a hare that runs and a hawk that hunts. And a person who does person stuff. I really like torts, so if you are ever in need of assistance with tort law while undulating inchoately in the Wyld, feel free to consult your memory of me. Three chips."

Svetlana: Evdeniya bows and steps back.

Camena: Camena looks at the aura-creature with frustration, then slings Grand Leviathan down at Plentimon's feet, sloughing out of her Essence Silk robes and adding them to the pile.

Vance: At the mention of the Realm, there is much hissing and booing.

Vance: "Ooh… yes, that will do nicely," Plentimon says, giving Camena a round 35 chips. The artifacts don't dissolve—the god just adds them to the pile.

Svetlana: "Not that Realm," Evdeniya says, rolling her eyes, because, after all, it is completely true.

Vance: Boos and hissing invert, like a snake unmolting, into uproarious laughter.

Camena: Camena adds all but a single chip again, bringing her total to 47.

Vance: "I don't see why you did that," Cehzarik scoffs. "Are you letting yourself be played by his bluff?"

Vance: The demon tosses only one chip it. It's unclear what he intends to do with the remainder, but he keeps them neatly piled in front of him.

Camena: "I am Camena Dezla," she says, scanning the crowd as she straightens up to her full height, proud and undaunted despite being unarmed and mostly undressed; nonetheless, she seems like an empress in her own right. "I am the Sun in Darkness and the Shadow of the Sun. I am the thing that leviathans flee from. I am fire and rage and power and pettiness, and I will make my name into a burning sword if I need to."

Svetlana: "It'll make the introductions extremely awkward," Evdeniya stage-whispers, quietly, to Cehzarik.

Vance: Even more booing than the Realm got!

Vance: "My name is…" The thing in Mordannun speaks a name beyond any transcription, a thing of maimed syllables and semiotic paradox. "I will take this key, and with it, destroy the world."

Serestala: Serestala closes her eyes and gives a long sigh before stepping forward to introduce herself to the crowd. "My name is Serestala. No last name given and no last name needed. I am an enforcer of the Eighth Corridor gang. I am a champion of Little Blue Rebellion. I'm a hero. That's what I'll be no matter what steps in front of me, be it a God, or a hundred devils in a gambling parlor. Let's get this through with!" She beats her chest once and roars as her anima flairs to life.

Vance: Serestala whips the crowd into an enthused roar

Serestala: (I think this is the first time Serestala actually openly declared her Defining intimacy, but there we go!)

Vance: Sinner refuses to give a speech.

Svetlana: "That's what she said," Evdeniya asides after Sinner's refusal.

Vance: Cehzarik gives an oddly formal introduction in Old Realm using idioms none of you are familiar with. The response is a mixture of polite applause and minor jeering.

Zanara: “Once, there was a girl who was taken as a slave. Her beauty earned her many privileges, but she could not help but see what life was for others like her. So she took the life of… of the woman who kept her, and with her words and her song started a riot. In the confusion, she escaped, and became a bandit, preying upon the caravans of the Guild. Her gang of bandits became an army, and such was her charisma that all who faced her in battle became her sworn comrades, pledged to destroy the scourge of slavery once and for all! But I will only tell you how this story ends,” she adds, with a smile, “if I win this game.”

Vance: Uproarious applause!

Vance: "And now, to ask tonight's question," Plentimon patters, "we have a representative of the cause that tonight's proceeds will be going towards. Please welcome Ragamuffin Bleeding Forever, representative of the Razor-Toothed Beggars Guild!"

Vance: Ragamuffin is three feet of sweating candy frog-flesh and razorwire anatomy. It climbs up into stage with a clumsy hastiness, and comes to stand at Plentimon's sign. The raksha wears a silk coat emblazoned with the motto of the Razor-Tooted Beggars Guild on its back, "you are so generous."

Vance: "Now remember," Plentimon banters, "the question that Ragamuffin asks will be the final gamble for who gets the key! Let's hear it!"

Svetlana: Evdeniya hides her face, then peeks through it at Ragamuffin.

Vance: The raksha speaks in a horrible croak. "Which one of you should we spare from having their soul devoured?"

Camena: Camena looks torn between a hundred answers she'd like to give and a hundred more that she thinks they might want to hear.

Icaria: I really am a genius.

Zanara: I might have an idea.

Zanara: Unfortunately it would prove that Icaria really is a genius.

Zanara: But I believe we still have a charge left on that “our minds are linked” spell, yes?

Zanara: Wait, shit, Serestala wasn’t here for that.

Icaria: I can pull Rubean out as the fifth link if we need it.

Svetlana: "Oh. My. Stars," Evdeniya says. "You're with the hellboar."

Svetlana: "We thought we'd tamed him. We thought we'd beaten him. We thought we'd found the wildlife refuge he came from and put a stop to their incredibly illegal hellboar scheming. We fled across miles of ocean. We fled across more miles of ocean. And then here we are. I can't believe a hellboar was capable of entangling Plentimon, the Mask of Winters, and a million raksha into its scheme for revenge, but the evidence is right in front of me, isn't it?"

Svetlana: "I would have given up anything," Evdeniya says. "Well, almost anything. Well, some things. A thing or two. My socks, maybe. To keep Gloam safe for good from him. But now… well…"

Svetlana: "Now it's too late."

Svetlana: Evdeniya steps back with a look of blank horror on her face and goes still.

Icaria: I'm so frustrated.

Vance: Sinner looks perplexed. "Is she… answering the question?"

Icaria: Can't chant a spell, because the Mask will presumably counter it.

Icaria: I guess I could kill somebody.

Icaria: But who?

Icaria: …actually I can kill Plentimon.

Vance: I'm not sure you can presume to know what the Mask would do.

Icaria: Useless as my Occult focus generally is, I do in fact know the Ghost-Eating Technique.

Icaria: I guess I could tell Baeleron to destroy the building.

  • Icaria writes a message down for Kumaria, anyway.

Icaria: "The final round is convincing a hundred raksha to eat everybody else. Advice?"

Vance: Oh there's way more than a hundred.

Icaria: Meanwhile, I guess I'll chant Invulnerable Skin of Bronze.

Svetlana: "Don't be ridiculous," Evdeniya asides to Sinner. "I don't know how to answer questions!"

Icaria: "I don't suppose you know how to get that warstrider going?"

Icaria: (Can you even chant a sorcery under your breath?)

Vance: You can shape subtly.

Icaria: Kumaria appearing at the last minute with half a warstrider and a dozen bears wouldn't be so bad.

Svetlana: Evdeniya leaves it implicit in her tone of voice: ("I'm a Magistrate!")

Zanara: …Camena is an Eclipse.

Zanara: And we haven’t offered them violence.

Camena: I was about to say.

Vance: You aren't treating with the raksha on official business.

Vance: The Mask and Plentimon, yes.

Camena: I'm treating with Plentimon.

Zanara: Also that.

Camena: They are his guests.

Icaria: Okay, that's troll logic.

Camena: Yeah.

Camena: Vance, right now, I will 100% say that following this train of logic will OOC upset me.

Icaria: Plentimon can't invite a million raksha to eat us and say "Oh, it's not me doing it; it's the raksha I brought in for this specific purpose."

Vance: I suppose once again the Eclipse anima forces me to show my hand.

Icaria: He's taken an affirmative action with the intention of doing us harm!

Vance: You can assume your truce will hold and the raksha won't be able to harm without provoking them.

Icaria: Hm, that's…

Icaria: But Plentimon must know that.

Icaria: And the Mask benefits in the same way.

Icaria: So… everybody else is going to be eaten.

Icaria: Okay, I know what to do.

Icaria: We have to find a way to save my occasionally-hot boyfriend!

Vance: Mordanun decides to make his answer short and sweet. "I have no further use for my soul. You may have it." The crowd applauds approvingly. "But… spare the scholar, the one named Icaria. He is too beautiful to die at your hands."

Icaria: "They can't actually hurt me, guy," Icaria notes, having just realized this like a smart person.

Icaria: "They're just going to eat you and the demon guy."

Serestala: "Oh," Serestala says. "Spare Mordanun then."

Icaria: Okay, here's a thought.

Icaria: Hey, Vance…. what would you say if I tried to bind Mordanun as my familiar?

Vance: Not a spirit.

Icaria: He's mostly a spirit.

Icaria: And it would be cool!

Camena: Camena sighs like a deflating balloon, then looks out at the audience and smiles a deep, disturbed smile. She laughs a little. It's polite laughter, the kind that pairs well with tea and china. Then it blossoms. Or no, it bloats! Explodes! She's laughing so hard that her lungs start making lung-sounds and when she finally stops, when she finally regains an ounce of composure, she looks out to the Fair Folk and smiles a siaka smile. "Spare whoever the fuck you want," she says, her voice small but commanding. "Just remember not to cut the show too short."

Vance: You can't have an Exalt as your familiar!


Icaria: I already have my own Lunar.

Icaria: You know, somewhere.

Svetlana: "In fairness," Evdeniya notes to Serestala. "They did already implicitly offer to spare more than none."

Icaria: We're in uncharted territory here!

Icaria: Maybe it can go terribly wrong later.

Svetlana: "Though, just how many Mordanun?" Evdeniya chews on her lip. "Not very much Mordanun right now, admittedly, but that's different."

Vance: "It would be incredibly unwise of you to eat anyone here, myself included," Sinner says, addressing the crowd with haughty contemptuousness. "I will let you find out why, if you wish. But to answer your question, there is one soul in this room that you must not eat, and it is that of my master, the Mask of Winters. You will never be able to do it, and your attempts will poison down to your souls."

Svetlana: "Possibly instead of sparing someone's soul you should just preserve that pun for eternity," Evdeniya mutters. "It can be the seed of a new Wyld. A hellboar's Wyld. Hella boring way to end things, though, killing people, if you ask me."

Icaria: "Ah, the old 'can't fit in the bottle' ruse," nods Icaria.

Svetlana: "Really, this whole play is a farce and I'm the only one that's noticed." Evdeniya sighs. "It is a lonely thing, to be a Magistrate… hm. Punch that up in the novelization, Icaria?"

Icaria: "Puns are your department, but I'll see what I can do."

Svetlana: "Thank you," Evdeniya says. "Between you and me, I think that frog might be a bit too sweet for this line of work."

Vance: Cehzarik continues in the same antiquated Old Realm. "Unbroken was the firmament and unrent the veil, in bygone days. Now there is only a house of troubles, in which you are slaves. What I come for is a poisoned star that would be dropped in your world, destroying you with it. You may only spare me."

Icaria: "Okay, but, I have an alternate scenario!" announces Icaria.

Icaria: I lean over the balcony to address the crowd.

Svetlana: Evdeniya gasps. "The hellboar got to you! Wait, no, that is probably not it." She steps back and listens.

Icaria: "It's written down here in the text of my latest novel, The Librarian and the Satrap Fair."

Icaria: "Which I will now read to you!"

Icaria: "Hold on a minute, it's in here somewhere…"

Icaria: Icaria appears to have some difficulty retrieving this manuscript from within his clothing.

Icaria: Arms retract and extend from his top in apparently impossible configurations which even Mordanun would have to respect.


Vance: oh no

Icaria: Eventually, there is an "Aha!" and the shirt explodes, to reveal the at-last-located manuscript, and, also, Icaria's chest.

Vance: 3/4 of the audience now have a Minor Tie of love for you.

Vance: They're, uh.

Vance: Basically licking their lips in your general direction.

Icaria: I brandish the manuscript in a manner that presumably displays my triceps to best advantage.

Icaria: Whatever! They can't eat me!

Icaria: (Camena, don't attack the crowd.)

Icaria: "Now, let me see. Chapter One—"

  • Icaria begins his recitation.

Icaria: Once again, I find myself holding back a theater of monsters with the endless recitation of nonsense.

Icaria: Last time, it didn't work, admittedly!

Icaria: But now, I have abs.

Vance: What scenario do you lay out?

Icaria: Hm, good question. Honestly, I just wanted to take the opportunity to get the audience's undivided attention and ensnare them in my spell of love.

Vance: You could now take advantage of that with a persuade.

Icaria: That's true, so I'm going to weave my friends into the narrative.

Icaria: Conveniently, they're already there!

Icaria: So I can tell them the story of how the brave Magistrate Evdeniya confronted the morally irregular Magistrate Yakult within her very den!

Icaria: Of how the cunning pirate Camena fought a terrifying bone naga as she crept into the wicked satrap's lair to assassinate him.

Icaria: Of the righteous itinerant Zanara, who inspired the people of a thousand islands to rise up against tyranny.

Svetlana: Evdeniya listens raptly, occasionally breaking free only to get pulled in again. Both in an affected stage manner and in fact truthfully.

Icaria: And against Serestala, who suddenly crashed through a giant glass window to rescue everybody at the last minute! She hasn't actually told me her backstory yet but damn that's exciting and mysterious!

Icaria: Icaria is so caught up in this story he forgets to make up a dozen hot guys he slept with.

Icaria: Anyway, this was all to foil the plans of the Mask of Winters. But honestly, that guy doesn't even really appear in the story.

Icaria: He's not very interesting.

Icaria: Okay, dice, don't fail me now!

Icaria: I spend ten peripheral motes, pulling out my anima to really get the sweat glistening on my pecs, and roll….

Icaria: 16 successes.

Vance: 16 successes on what?

Icaria: A persuade roll, to persuade them to, I guess, heavily favor my awesome pals in their voting.

Icaria: I'm building heat!

Vance: Like, future-ways, storytelling is probably Performance…

Vance: …but you rolled hella high and I don't super-care which pool you used.

Icaria: Plus I'd be pretty annoyed after being a novelist for thirty sessions if I needed to shuffle my pools now to read my own stuff!

Icaria: Although I suppose Icaria having Performance and not Presence would be a decent way to become insanely sexy while still remaining incompetent at basic interpersonal skills.

Icaria: I mean, somewhat incompetent.

Icaria: My Guile is 2 now!

  • Icaria beams with pride.

Serestala: Mine is still 1. :disappointed:

Vance: The raksha bask in Icaria's storytelling, although he suspects that some of them aren't paying attention and just ogling him. Plentimon struggles to get their attention back on the contestants.

Icaria: ha ha never

Icaria: "So, what say we hand all the chips to the Magistrate over there and then head out to the bar as a group?" Icaria asks.

Vance: "We need to hear everyone's answers!" comes the call from the crowd.

Icaria: Didn't we get everybody?

Vance: "Never mind, we're deciding!" the crowd says.

Vance: Plentimon comes over to address you. "Can I get you anything while they decide? Some champagne? Orange slices?"

Icaria: …deeply suspicious.

Serestala: "Is it me? I thought I was doing pretty well for myself."

Camena: "Your head on a pike might be nice. But we'd have to find a nice star-stabbing one, I guess."

Vance: "Camena, what did I ever do to you?"

Camena: "Plentimon, you practically are me. And I just hit a new vein of self-loathing."

Zanara: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, Camena,” Zanara says. “Unlike Plentimon, you have a core of decency that you think others can’t see.”

Vance: "I have a core of immeasurable density, thank you very much."

Svetlana: "…"

Camena: "Yes, I've found you to be immeasurably dense."

Icaria: "The thing is, I'm pretty sure Camena actually likes gambling."

Vance: "We have our answer!" the audience announces.

Icaria: "But most of these games were just an excuse for Plentimon to mess with people."

Svetlana: "Let's see if I can say this without being rude to either of you," Evdeniya says. "Camena, if you and Plentimon were in a burning building, I'd pull you out first. Even knowing you probably started it."


Serestala: "Oh."

Camena: "No, not really."

Icaria: "No, no, that's good."

Vance: They rush the stage in a wave, swarming, getting right up in your personal space.

Icaria: "Get Mordalun out while I distract them."

Vance: But… they don't actually touch you.

Camena: Camena lets her anima flare to iconic for the first time in ages, if ever.

Vance: Just… hang, inches away.

Serestala: "Mind taking a step back?"

Icaria: Even from Mordalun and tentacles guy?

Vance: Yep.

Vance: A two-shark-headed imp laughs at Serestala. "Come closer, my dear."

Camena: It's a great leviathan that coils around her and her circle, burning purple-and-rose essence limned in sun-gold.

Camena: "Well, does that mean… anything in particular, Plentimon?"


Icaria: (i will be eaten)


Vance: "It means…"

Vance: The audience shouts out in unison

Vance: "GOTCHA!"

Icaria: "See, this is what I'm saying," says Icaria, deadpan.

Icaria: "That's not gambling at all; it's just Plentimon fucking with us."

Vance: They laugh like hyenas, slapping you on the backs and shaking your hands.

Camena: "Fucking fairies."

Serestala: "You know what? I think I hate these guys."

Zanara: “You’re not alone,” Zanara grumbles.

Icaria: "I don't know; they're kind of growing on me."

Vance: "And the points for answers," Ragamuffin Bleeding Endlessly says.

Serestala: "A couple of them are made of barnacles—we could probably arrange that, Icaria."

Vance: Plentimon takes a scorecard from the raksha, and quickly does the math. "Our winner is… Icaria?"

Vance: "That's not right! You have to give a serious answer!"

Vance: But the raksha insist.

Icaria: "It's just like I said from the beginning!"

Icaria: "The only way to win… is not to play."

  • Icaria throws his hands in the air and begins pumping them vigorously.

Vance: There is a rumble of thunder that sweeps the frost from trees in winter. "I find this unseemly, Plentimon. I believe the Lawgivers have won the key fair and square."

Svetlana: "Congratulations, Plentimon," Evdeniya says drily. "You have created a passion play denouncing the evils of gambling that will last through the ages."

Serestala: "…" Serestala sighs. "Well, that's disappointing. I thought I was winning."

Vance: The Mask of Winters rises from his seat, and approaches the five of you.

Icaria: "That's very classy, your maskness," Icaria acknowledges.

  • Icaria approves of classy villains.

Vance: "Plentimon's trickery leaves an ill taste in my mouth. A thrillseeker and a fool. I must thank you for respecting our game more than the host did."

Icaria: "That… is definitely one way to describe what we just did. But I'll thank you in return for your gracious appreciation."

Vance: "Produce the key for them, Plentimon. And give the Eclipse her artifacts back; you have no right to them."

Serestala: When even the Deathlord says you're a jerk you know that you've done something wrong.

Camena: Eclipse.

Icaria: I'm very much afraid that the Deathlord is motivated not by fairness or classiness but by an unholy lust for my body.

Camena: So…

Camena: He wants to bone you?

Icaria: …that's not a new Exalt type!

Icaria: …probably.

Icaria: This is a brave new world. Maybe the Deathlord Exalted are the latest thing.

Camena: Next up: Exalted Exalts, the Chosen of the Chosen.

Serestala: I choose you.

Camena: :heart:

Icaria: God, what sort of person would the Chosen of Icaria be?

Vance: Plentimon claps his hands, and the stage fades away. The raksha remain, and return with you to the central room of the casino. Most disperse now that the game is over, seeking out drink or souls.

Icaria: Oh, who am I kidding; it would just be Naruto.

Svetlana: Evdeniya studies the Mask of Winters thoughtfully.

Vance: "My apologies for the technical issues," Plentimon says. "Normally, the audience actually picks one of the players to win."

Icaria: "That's gambling!"

Serestala: "I think we all learned a lesson today."

Zanara: “Not to gamble ever again?”

Vance: He produces an apparatus made up of several discs of interlocking black metal, notched and etched with inexplicable markings. "One key to a chamber of the Eschaton Vault, as promised. I'll put it down, and let the five of you decide amongst yourselves who picks it up."

Icaria: "…deeply suspicious."

Camena: Pick what up?

Camena: It never even made it to the floor.

Svetlana: "I'd like to buy back the rest of our stuff with Icaria's massive number of extra chips," Evdeniya says.

Vance: The key.

Icaria: "Hey, Kumaria, where are you?"

Icaria: "I will graciously expend my winnings on returning the intangibles of my beloved friends," agrees Icaria.

Icaria: "Somebody else can keep the armor, though."

Vance: "Given that he didn't actually bet anything, it's fair enough to refund your stakes." There is a mudra of replenishment, and most things are restored.

Icaria: "I'm feeling pretty good about this outfit."

Icaria: "And the arms and legs."

Zanara: …most?

Vance: "But Zanara…do you want your memories back?"

Icaria: "No, but seriously, give the guy his arms and legs back."

Icaria: "He just looks uncomfortable this way."

Vance: "I'm afraid you don't have that many chips, Icaria. Technically you shouldn't have any at all!"

Zanara: “Of course I do,” Zanara says. If only to keep them out of your hands.

Icaria: "You aren't jealous, are you?"

Icaria: "You're afraid I'll like him better if he wasn't a terrifying primordial beast."

Vance: "Very well." The memory and Intimacy flow back into Zanara's mind.

Camena: Camena robes herself again, turning away from her friends with the key firmly in hand.

Vance: "You found me beautiful, once," Mordanun's shadow mocks. "What happened?"

Zanara: Zanara flinches slightly, takes a deep breath. “You are… very fortunate I agreed to take these back.”

Icaria: "Trying to do you a favor here, guy," Icaria stage-whispers.

Icaria: Man, I should have said "trying to do you a solid."

Vance: "We gave these away willingly. My power makes these wounds meaningless. But losing the key… that is a shame."

Icaria: "No worries! Camena is dedicated to fixing your problem, as she promised."

Icaria: "And also me. But I'm going to let her try first because her as a doctor is going to be hilarious and awesome."

Camena: "Hmmm?" Camena asks, turning back now that she's fully dressed once again. "Oh. As a doctor? I'm not going to go tinkering in his body, Icaria. I'll leave that for you. I had other ideas in mind."

Vance: "I don't have a problem."

Vance: "I was afraid of my power, but… we've learned better."

Icaria: "Oh, well, that's just aces, I guess."

  • Icaria tries to think of a more Creation-y expression.

Icaria: That's just elephants?

Vance: Icaria, you have the feeling that everything is not elephants.

Serestala: "Well, the only thing left to do is go get my sword."

Svetlana: "If I might ask," Evdeniya says, separating from the cluster around Plentimon slightly, and looking at Mask of Winters. "Your… grace? But it is not entirely clear from the rumors what purpose you are fighting… ah, for."

Icaria: I use my keen occult eye to examine the situation's elephant-nature.

Vance: But Mordanun is leaving, drifting through the air.

Icaria: "Stop that."

Vance: Roll (Perception + Occult).

  • Icaria grasps the elephant by the tail.

Icaria: Spirit-toucher magic, go!

Svetlana: Evdeniya is guessing sincerely with 'your grace,' because she is pretty sure Solars aren't supposed to call anyone highness and she's not sure what else to use. Abyssal Eminence seems excessive.

Vance: No spirits!

Icaria: 4.

Icaria: If my immaterial grabbing magic is going to fail every time you decide something isn't a spirit, that's pretty irritating!

Vance: It only fails because he's material!

Icaria: That is the best kind of person to grab.

Vance: The Mask looks down at Svetlana. "I find that the work of governance is often advanced by not fighting."

Camena: Icaria's living in a material world / and he is a material… Exalt.

Vance: If you'd seen someone else acting like Mordanun was, you'd assume they were possessed or very ill.

Icaria: "Uh, guys, we kind of have a problem here? Mr. Mask, does your vasty depths of undead knowledge have anything to shed on this guy trying to fly away?"

Vance: But he's definitely not either, not in any way you understand it, from what you've seen.

Icaria: Well, I've never seen anybody be possessed.

Icaria: Mysteriously, I'm aware of all kinds of anti-possession magic, but not of anything that can actually possess someone.

Vance: Ghosts?

Vance: Demons?

Vance: Gods?

Icaria: I was making a joke about the lack of actual things to use the exorcism Charms on in the core. :P

Camena: Hmmm

  • Icaria continues holding on to Mordanun by one shadowy leg.

Vance: "Leave Mordanun be." The Mask says. "His is a trial unlike your own."

Icaria: "In exactly what way?"

Camena: "Plentimon…" Camena says, going a little demure for once. "Is there…and I know this might be a little niche, but…is there a workshop somewhere in this place of yours? I've got one or two things I'd like to tinker with. I think I need to clear my head."

Svetlana: "That's fair enough," Evdeniya agrees. "If you have resolved to a policy of peace and amity then I fear that word has not been properly disseminated."

Svetlana: "Certainly you have been nothing but cordial today, so consider that to be narrowing in on my original question rather than an attempt to argue."

Vance: Plentimon handwaves a workshop out of the casino's malleable Essence. "Think nothing of it."

Camena: Camena sets up shop behind a shoji screen, apparently for modesty's sake as she tosses her robe over the screen, followed by a few other vestments.

Serestala: "Want to get that drink then?" Serestala says to Zanara. "We shouldn't forget who we had to sacrifice to get here."

Vance: The Mask does not smile, but his bearing is amiable. "I am called many things across the Scavenger Lands, as are the kings and queens of every nation of Creation. Most rumors miss the mark. It is not that I am faultless, for none who go to war are, but I have no interested in carnage for carnage's sake. Thorns is a center of culture and trade."

Zanara: “I think I’ve had enough,” Zanara says quietly. “Rather… I think I’m going to go sit by the sea for a while.”

Serestala: "I wouldn't mind that either."

Camena: Camena's knocking out a forgery of the key.

Vance: It's a short walk to the coast. Kumaria is conspicuously absent.

Icaria: Oh, dear. Did we lose our plot-giving NPC?

Icaria: She was the source of all my powers!

Camena: Expositional Exalted, Chosen of the Plot

Vance: She has sensed the possibility of a romantic moment and absconded.

Zanara: oh no XD

Serestala: That's Serenities for you.

Icaria: …deeply suspicious.

Svetlana: "Ah," Evdeniya says. "Please don't mistake me. I'm not trying to … ask if you're really what you have been made out to be. I am glad to hear that the rumors there are mistaken, but… I am…" She thinks carefully. "I want to understand what it is for, whether good or bad. What was the purpose of replacing one center of culture with another? I ask because even if I believed the worst of you, that is… sometimes not enough to make all decisions based upon."

Svetlana: Evdeniya frowns. "That came out poorly. Please forgive me for coming at this with a certain inbuilt bias; it is difficult to be immune to what one hears. I do appreciate what you have done today."

Vance: "It has been a long day. Perhaps we shall speak of this later."

Svetlana: "Mm," Evdeniya nods, and follows the others out.

  • Icaria gives up on holding onto the love-interest-monster, who doesn't really seem to be into it, and goes up to look for his questgiver.

Vance: Kumaria rounds the others up, including Zanara and Serestala if they aren't in private.

Vance: "I'm guessing you didn't get eaten by raksha, then."

Icaria: "Only metaphorically," says Icaria, pretending to be humble.

Svetlana: (Evdeniya has been wondering since Prophet about "hey, if it's ever Deathlord or raksha army or ancient primordial monster, which one do we work with against the other two?" for clarity.)

Zanara: “Several of us, though, have developed rather a distaste for Plentimon, I think,” Zanara says.

Icaria: (Well, the raksha seem to like me best.)

Svetlana: (Evdeniya is not aware that canonically this is not as much of a choice as it appears.)

Serestala: "It was a prank."

Icaria: Well, it's a brave new edition! Maybe the Mask is secretly good and only turns your skeleton against you if you are wicked.

Vance: "Heaven was not super thrilled about him gambling with the keys to the vault."

Vance: "You… got the key, right?"

Svetlana: Evdeniya turns out her pockets, shrugs embarrassedly.

Icaria: "Yes, I won by not winning. Then Camena took it, so I guess she has it."

Vance: "Camena?"

Camena: "I was not super-thrilled either," Camena says, emerging from the casino. "I'm the only one allowed to be that much of am asshole to the gods. "

Svetlana: "I am not at all clear on his reasoning," Evdeniya admits. "But he made a massive profit and none of us wound up actively interested in killing him, so perhaps he was wise enough."

Camena: "And you do know that there's a condition, right?" She asks Kumaria as she takes the key from her satchel. "For me returning this to you, I mean."

Svetlana: Evdeniya does not know what's important about a memory of the Games, but she does know it's worth as much as her sight, her reputation, and all her case files put together.

Vance: "Are you extorting me? Don't extort me, please."

Icaria: "No, seriously, don't extort her."

Camena: "Not extortion. I know, it surprises me, too."

Icaria: "Or, like, extort her later, over some delicious cakes."

Serestala: "There were some rewards we were promised."

Vance: "Yes, you can have a sword."

Camena: "Just promise me that whoever up there is supposed to do something about Plentimon does it. Justice."

Vance: "But first, key to the doomsday weapon."

Camena: She offers the key.

Vance: Kumaria takes it.

Icaria: "Can't we just, like, do it ourselves, on a later occasion?"

Vance: "What do you mean, do something about him?"

Camena: "…he literally gambled with the fate of the world. He made allies of a raksha horde. Don't tell me that's not… that there's not some law that breaks. "

Vance: "We tried to press that argument, but we don't have the evidence to show the Mask of Winters is a genuine threat to Creation. Without that, Plentimon's free to invite who he pleases into his casino."

Camena: "…"

Camena: Kumaria doesn't have the key anymore.

Zanara: “…you say Heaven will enforce no justice?!” As mad as Zanara looked before, she looks even madder now.

Vance: "I'm saying we can't show any crime that's been committed. But with your help—Camena give that back—we have kept Creation safe."

Camena: "No."

Icaria: "Camena, just kill him yourself, tomorrow."

Icaria: "That is like literally what you are for."

Svetlana: Evdeniya clears her throat awkwardly.

Zanara: (Shockingly, no Limit from this.)

Serestala: "Actually, I'm pretty okay with that."

Camena: "Let me tell you something, Kumaria."

Camena: Camena does that thing where you get up in someone's space and poke them in the chest, making them keep walking backwards. Although in this case, she's using the key, and snatching it away if Kumaria gets too close.

Vance: :disappointed:

Camena: "I am awful. I am selfish, and I have a temper, and I am an absolute brat and I'm sure Sivana will agree, real quick, to any and all of that. But I try my best not to inflict myself on folks. Just on the powerful. Just on the rude, or the evil, or the dangerous. I only matter right now because I was slick enough and lucky enough to earn the Sun's favor, and now—pay attention, I want this relayed verbatim—If Heaven can't get off its glorious golden ass to save folks from the whimsy of a gambling god? Fuck Heaven. You'll get the key when you show me you're worth trusting anymore than he is, or the Mask."

Vance: Roll Presence.

Vance: 3-point stunt.

Camena: 13 successes.

Vance: "I'll tell them. Word for word."

Camena: "Thank you."

Vance: "But uh… show of good faith? Swear not to use the key until I've had a chance to do that?"

Camena: "I so swear it," Camena says, a brief flash of her anima circling between them like a living knot.

Vance: "I'm going to show you you can trust us, Camena. If we can't stand together, then keeping the Eschaton Key out of the Mask's hand will just be delaying the end."

Vance: And on that, calling it a night.

Icaria: It's a victory for literacy! And for temperance.

Camena: And for secretly making duplicate keys!

  • Icaria rolls a bunch of Limit.

Icaria: I guess I only roll the biggest source?

Zanara: I’m surprised I didn’t get any.

Svetlana: Thank you for running!

Camena: Next time Camena rolls Limit, it's going to break.

Camena: And yes, we :heart: our Vance.

Zanara: But I did get a new Intimacy and Zanara’s going to kick over every gambling house she sees from now on just to spite Plentimon.

Serestala: Same with Serestala but she's been sitting at that for a couple sessions.

Camena: Devpuppy 4 life.

Zanara: And yes, thank you!

Serestala: Thank you for running!

Icaria: Hooray for Vance!

Serestala: So who did the mind-reading charm on Serestala, by the way?

Camena: Mordanun.

Camena: He tried the same on Camena last session.

Serestala: Ah!

Vance: Oh, no.

Icaria: He has the power of mind control, but it's weak against pokes.

Vance: The was Cehzarin.

Serestala: Hahaha.

Zanara: Once again Zanara’s faith in Camena is confirmed, though.

Vance: Hence the flashback, except it ended up being a flashforward.

Serestala: That poor demon.

Serestala: He was looking for sweet dirt and instead ended up with Serestala's belief that aesthetics are definitional to identity.

  • Icaria manages to acquire no Limit either, somehow.

Icaria: I guess I need to change my Intimacy about raksha.

Icaria: I previously thought their narrative was empty calories, like sugary candy.

Icaria: After acquiring some groupies it seems I have a taste for candy.

Svetlana: Fortunately my anti-raksha and anti-theater Intimacies were stored safely away in my other personality where they didn't get in the way.

Icaria: That's a great trick!

Icaria: I have no idea what we're doing once Vance gets back from finals, though.

Zanara: Oh yeah, does that hiatus start now?

Icaria: Return, at last, to Gloam?


Serestala: (I hope I finally get to see Gloam.)

Icaria: I approve of backstory.

Serestala: Nooo.

Serestala: Well, she revealed two positions she used to have, at the very least.

  • Svetlana buys her Sidereal mask at long last.

Svetlana: What should she be like?

Zanara: I think this might be the first time Zanara actually went into detail about her own backstory…

Svetlana: I think it is.

Svetlana: It was a very informative session!

Icaria: Well, we have a Serenity, and an (Endings???).

Icaria: You could be Journeys, since we're always going places.

  • Svetlana gives her the working name "Hypothetical Star".

Icaria: I'm not sure what happened to the white jade armor.

Svetlana: Hm, that is true.

Svetlana: (Meanwhile, in Thorns, Mask of Winters dances in front of the mirror in white jade armor.)

Icaria: I may have acquired a more troublesome boyfriend than usual, it's true.

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