In Which We Decline to Go Quietly

Vance: @elliott: Are you about?

Vance: And it looks like @jennamoran is online

Svetlana: I am online.

Svetlana: That is my Online Presence Prana!

Icaria: That would actually be a pretty good Charm, at least in the standard setting.

Vance: Creation's internet is just a sprawling digital ruin Frankensteined together from countless First Age data network wonders

Vance: It doesn't even have Netflix!

Icaria: That's why I meant presence on our internet.

Svetlana: It's true, access to RPGnet alone would be a great boon.

Svetlana: "So, I was thinking of retiring in Gem, but I was a little worried by some of the rumors. Do I have anything to worry about?"

Svetlana: "Could someone explain this whole Empress vanishing thing to me?"

Svetlana: …etcetera.

Icaria: Yes, exactly.

Vance: So that's where those "how not to die" threads come from.

Camena: Je suis ici.

Vance: Excellent.

Vance: We can start, if everyone is ready?

Camena: No, I'm Elliott.

Svetlana: Give me a moment, and then I will be OK to start.

Icaria: Now let me see, when last we met…

Icaria: I seem to recall something about the Empress descending on a cloud and awarding me her son's hand in marriage.

Svetlana: OK.

Svetlana: That sounds right. She was riding a three-eyed wolf.

Camena: Dezla had just forged her Creation-Ruling Pants.

Camena: They're bedazzled!

Icaria: I don't remember the wolf, but our stories are so similar that they back each other up splendidly.

Svetlana: Fortuitously it is all apparently in the scrollback.

Icaria: …oh, I guess it was merely a fantasy sequence.

Icaria: Still, eventually I will meet a prince who meets my criteria.

Camena: #TooGayforDisney

Vance: When we had left off, the three of you had just met. We'll assume you made your introductions between scenes.

Vance: Instead, y'all do some out-of-character Q&A about each other's characters.

Camena: I'm Dezla Camena! I like piracy and explosives.

Vance: I will bribe liberally with Solar XP for good questions and answers.

Camena: What, if anything, would either of you have that might betray an artistic bent?

Camena: I assume that Camena, a shameless art enthusiast and "liberator" would take an interest in the giant brush…

Icaria: I definitely carry a giant brush.

Icaria: And it probably isn't concealed as well as I'd like to think.

Icaria: For I am Icaria Varus, savant-savant, librarian and adventurer.

Icaria: So, we established that you did not disguise yourself as an Immaculate to escape an arranged marriage.

Icaria: …why did you do that, anyway?

Camena: Quai?

Icaria: No, not a dock. An Immaculate monk.

Camena: I am confused.

Camena: And possibly not remembering things.

Icaria: You appeared last week in disguise as a monk! And possibly still are disguised as one.

Svetlana: I am not sure Svetlana gives any indication whatsoever of artistic bent.

Camena: Oh!

Camena: Yes.

Camena: That's right.

Camena: Mostly? Compulsive lying and/or a desire to approach a situation from a place of strength. She saw Immaculates, so she came as one.

Icaria: "Oh, so you aren't a monk. That makes sense, since you wouldn't be able to arrange a marriage at all if you were a real one."

Icaria: "Unless… for someone else? Is that how it works?"

Svetlana: "When a family loves another family's resources very very much, a monk comes by with a magical bow to shoot the arrows of matrimony into their scions' hearts."

Camena: "Well, it is a happy power most captains have. At least, to officiate the ceremonies. But I think that's mostly a courtesy on behalf of people not wanting to get keelhauled."

Camena: "But, then, what brings a strapping you lad like you to a backwater town like this, with such a fine… brush?"

Icaria: "Oh, I'm seeking adventure. I came here first because I'm doing the world alphabetically."

Icaria: "In Old Realm, I mean."

Camena: "I was about to say."

Camena: Camena makes an offhand remark about how much Svetlana reminds her of her great aunt. "It's in the eyes."

Icaria: "If I were doing Foresttongue, Gloam would be like, number seventy-three."

Svetlana: Tepet Evdeniya studies Desza Camena. "Well, we do share a name," she says. Then hesitates. "A concept of names. We are alike in being people, who have a na—Dessa Svetlana. Nice to meet you."

Camena: "Dessa, huh? There might be a bit of the blood in you, yet."

Camena: "But… Svetlana? Not exactly the name I'd expect of a fine, upstanding magistrate."

Svetlana: "I have often felt the same, when I am cut by something."

Svetlana: "Although it is ironic, as that is the very moment when it is no longer in me."

Icaria: People are meeting long-lost relatives everywhere!

Icaria: This trips up my phobia of having mysterious brothers and sisters I don't know about.

Svetlana: "It is indeed terrible when people do not live up to appearances."

Vance: All right, lightning round!

Vance: Each of you has a pang of shounen internal monologue.

Vance: SVETLANA? What's more important, the continuing safety of these two, or getting the murder-hunt conspiracy solved?

Vance: DESZA? What's the worst thing that could be happening to your boat offscreen?

Vance: ICARIA? What do you hope you won't have to struggle against this session?

Icaria: "Truly, I have met my destined companions! (You can just tell.) Now, our journey of adventure begins."

Camena: The boys are a good lot, but damned if I trust them with the Sparrow for too long, at least in strange waters with Immaculates about, much less folks hunting folks… Oh gods, why did I leave the dragonsigh wand back with them."

Icaria: Sadly, Icaria does not have enough capacity for self-examination to consider the thing he doesn't want to struggle against.

Svetlana: In the end, people always come first! A young man who has shown nothing but a pure and honest heart, a woman who might very well be family (for who else would meet me disguised as an Immaculate while I am disguised as a Magistrate while having the same name?)—these things have a meaning that outshines the Unconquered Sun and rises taller than the Omphalos.

Icaria: Which is:

Svetlana: (Though seriously that isn't a good excuse for not solving the murder-hunt conspiracy unless things are considerably stickier than they seem.)

Icaria: Having to deal with things that would bruise his conviction that as long as he is pure and honest and has all his research peer reviewed, everything will be okay.

Vance: All right!

Vance: As you finish your introductions, you make your way towards the piers and Desza's ship, the Sparrow. It seems to be the center of some fracas—sailors huddle on the dock resignedly, as ministers wearing the satrap's mon examine the boat's hold.

Camena: curses softly but extensively in Seatongue. Really, it's basically the whole list of—ooop, there, that was the last one of them. All the Seatongue swears.

Svetlana: ("Satrap? Satsat. Rap. Rapsat. Rapsatsat. Sat.")

Svetlana: (—the satrap's mon)

Icaria: "That sounds like a problem," Icaria admits. "My interactions with local government here haven't been great."

Icaria: "They're kind of obstructive."

Vance: A satrapial minister—a middle-aged woman in an ornate set of black and purple robes, green hair braided in ornate patterns—catches Desza's eye. "Hey, you. You look like the one Lord Majal described. This your boat?"

Camena: "It is indeed," she says, striding forward with an easy gait and a practiced, lion-like look. "Can I be of service, m'lady?"

Camena: activates HARMONIOUS PRESENCE MEDITATION.

Camena: activates HARMONIOUS FEDORA STYLE.

Vance: "Save it. I was just finished writing up your arrest warrant for smuggling shadowland poppies (a lie—nothing of the sort was aboard the Sparrow. Being framed?)

Vance: "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 whistles.

Icaria: Do you have plans for that, or can I wax eloquent about its history?

Camena: Hmmm

Camena: You know what, I'll cede the spotlight on that one.

Icaria: Well, I meant Vance… or, wait, is this firewand actually yours, or was it planted also?

Camena: It's actually mine.

Camena: Dragonsigh wand, technically. But yeah.

Icaria: Oh, never mind, then. I thought it was a new addition to the plot.

Camena: "To the first—you've not found a poppy aboard my ship, unless it was dragged on by yourself or one of your own. To the second—it's a world of salvage out there, I'm afraid. Come across all sorts of goods when your troll the seas and comb the atolls and do other verbs to other watery places."

Vance: Gimme Charisma + Presence.

Vance: Or Manipulation, if the latter bit was meant as a lie.

Camena: It definitely was.

Camena: 5 successes

Icaria: I will save my story about the Apocalypse Wand of the Blue Tiger, who claimed to be married to fire itself, for later.

Vance: "Very well—but you sailed into port carrying dangerous, possibly-heretical salvage, and you didn't register your weapon with Satrap. You know the laws. We'll have to take possession of this ship and its contents until a thorough assessment can be completed by Her Majesty's administrative services."

Svetlana: I check Camena's posture for confidence.

Camena: She looks like she might have something else up her sleeve, but would rather not use it.

Icaria: I could try and tell the story of the Apocalypse Wand of the Blue Tiger, which this is a crappy imitation of, but honestly my lies are not so good.

Svetlana: I'm frowning. "That does make sense, but what's this allegation about planting shadowland poppies?"

Vance: "What, are you an associate of hers? I didn't say anything about planting—you must be the grower!"

Icaria: "What a devilishly clever logician."

Svetlana: "That's right, ma'am. Tepet Evdeniya, magistrate, who has secretly been living here for years growing poppies while having others forge my reports from elsewhere in the Realm."

Svetlana: "You should doubtless arrest me immediately."

Vance: "Tepet Evdeniya? Uh… may I see your papers, ma'am?"

Vance: (Roll Manipulation + Presence/Socialize, with +2 stunt dice.)

Svetlana: 3 excellency dice, 6 successes.

Svetlana: (10 total dice)

Svetlana: "There's a need to see the papers of this notorious poppy-grower? Oh, dear. Truly it is a very bureaucratic criminal underworld you have here."

Svetlana: I look around in my pack for them.

Icaria: "If there's going to be crime anyway, it might as well be organized."

Svetlana: Fortunately, with Backing 3, I can actually produce such papers.

Camena: "Forgive the magistrate's scribe," Camena says, tilting her head towards Icaria. "She's too good-natured to give him the smack he so rightly deserves."

Svetlana: "Indeed, a magistrate's scribe is regularly forgiven too much," Svetlana mutters.

Vance: The woman, who meekly introduces herself as Moon Tortoise, is babbling apologies before she has even read the first character of the papers Evdeniya presents. "One thousand pardons—clearly, you have already found the culprits, and are bringing them to justice. Excellent work, magistrate! My men can secure the contraband vessel, and we can bring these two to the satrap's manor. Lord Majal will want to see them."

Icaria: I forgot that lawyers never think crime jokes are funny.

Svetlana: "Oh? You are receiving extremely meritorious attention today, captain. First my notorious self and now Lord Majal. One wonders what you have done to be worthy of such great notice."

Camena: "Some folks have all the luck, and most of the appeal, t'boot."

Svetlana: "Is there something else of particular distinction on this vessel, Moon Tortoise? Or is the local fleet shorter on ships than I had been aware of?"

Camena: "Some naughty barnacle-monkies, surely. Fearsome noxious, those."

Vance: "Surely you know the law, Magistrate. Shadowland poppies are among the Five Hundred Proscribed Substances, not to mention in violation of the Law Against Anathema. Smuggling them in is a crime against the empire. Forfeiture is a perfectly routine penalty."

Svetlana: "I see, I see." Svetlana smiles. "I had thought you were jesting in the matter of the poppies, what with the way you had delightfully brought me into it. But it sounds as if you would like me to take an interest in how they came on board? And captain, I assume you feel the same?"

Vance: "This is under the satrap's authority, Magistrate. You are welcome to assist, but she would ask you turn your efforts towards more fruitful avenues."

Camena: "It'd be a kindness, magistrate," Camena says, tipping the brim of her feathery hat.

Svetlana: "It's only," Svetlana says, "that there is a certain person for whom a certain captain at one point performed a favor, and while of course there is nothing to be done in the event of a crime, I would not dare to offend that certain person by failing to properly investigate."

Svetlana: "You understand, of course, Moon Tortoise."

  • Icaria tries to work this out on his fingers.

Svetlana: Svetlana walks down towards the ship, indicating broadly that people such as Camena and Icaria and Moon Tortoise are more than welcome to accompany her on board.

Vance: "Look, I understand, and you seem like a decent magistrate, but this stuff is coming down from the top. Majal is the Lord Majordomo to Satrap Jaspindar, and he's the one who signed off on the investigation warrant. He's not going to let a foreign magistrate hold up the execution of justice."

Svetlana: "Hm."

Camena: "Never was a fan of that word," Camena says, following Svetlana. "Execution, I mean."

Vance: A pair of functionaries move to bar Camena and Icaria. "You'll stay where you are! The Lord Majordomo requested you be brought to the satrap's palace for his personal inquiry."

Icaria: "Only a magistrate or a senior librarian can order me about," says Icaria, stubbornly.

Svetlana: "I certainly appreciate your position, Moon Tortoise. Why don't I take a look at what you've found, and if the evidence is ambiguous on how it got there we'll hold off on 'securing the ship' while I accompany these two to Lord Majal? Or I can simply assume that the evidence will be ambiguous, if that would be simpler."

Vance: "If you disobey, you'll taste my Snake style!"

Camena: "Honey. Dear. Innuendo won't get you far."

Camena: She looks to Icaria.

Camena: "Maybe with him? Maybe."

  • Icaria looks back, as if to say "Bro, does she even lift?"

Icaria: Or some genre-appropriate equivalent.

Vance: "Magistrate, you are free to examine the ship, but as far as I'm concerned, the provenance of the contraband speaks for itself. The Lord Majordomo will want these two brought in as quickly as possible."

Camena: Can I use Socialize to try and figure out something Moon Tortoise seems like she enjoys talking about?

Svetlana: How do I read intentions? I'm curious if she's aware that it's planted. (Or if possibly I'm completely wrong and it's not even planted.)

Vance: Perception + Socialize.

Vance: And, @elliott, uh, be more specific?

Camena: Like, what hobbies does she look like she might have?

Camena: Is she a tea girl?

Camena: Or maybe dogs?

Camena: Dog tea?

Svetlana: 1m for an even 10 dice, 4 successes.

Vance: @elliott Roll Investigation.

Camena: Two.

Vance: @jenna She's trying to frame Desza with planted evidence.

Vance: @elliott You can't really get a sense. Presumably she likes being a corrupt official.

Camena: Fair to assume sorcerous motes are a non-issue with time to prattle?

Vance: Hmm.

Vance: What are you trying to do?

Camena: Corrupted Words.

Camena: Mainly just out of spite.

Vance: Sounds fair.

Icaria: Dang, that's some spite.

Vance: I'm gonna make you make shaping rolls.

Camena: There's a pin-prick flash of green in Camena's sea-colored eyes, and the spell is sealed.

Svetlana: (phone)

Camena: Moon Tortoise is now forbidden to think or speak about chicken.

Vance: Roll it!

Camena: … ?

Vance: Roll the shape sorcery actions to build up enough motes.

Vance: For reasons.

  • Camena abandons this plan for reasons.

Vance: I think you stepped over the threshold.

Vance: Make at least one roll, and you'll have a chance to abandon it after that.

Icaria: Speaking of sorcery, I gesture to my cloud, indicating that it should be nearby.

Vance: It is!

Camena: Four motes.

Vance: You feel a strange tension in the Essence of the world, and your shaped spell unravels into inchoate power. The work of an enemy sorcerer!

  • Camena makes no indication as to her frustration.

Icaria: Can I spot that?

Vance: Roll Perspective + Occult.

  • Camena continues business as normal, but checks that she's still got a pair of alchemically-fueled firewands beneath her coat.

Icaria: Three.

Vance: You can sense the unmistakable patterns of successful countermagic nearby, but can't tell who was casting what.

Vance: (For the sake of expediency, I'm going to assume Svetlana is gonna investigate the boat while the fuzz attempts to drag you back to the satrap's.)

Icaria: Icaria tires of this conversation about unheroic things.

Icaria: "Magistrate, I suggest you continue your investigation while we deal with matters topside."

Icaria: "Please rely on our judgment to do just as you would do in the same situation."

Camena: "Oh dear," she says. "The scribe's judgment. I think I should pick out a rope that goes nicely 'round my neck if we've sunk that far."

Vance: "Sounds great," says Moon Tortoise, calling over a handful of fellow functionaries. With an elegant waive, she drops a three-section staff from her robe's sleeves, catching and unfolding it in a graceful motion. Her fellows likewise unsheathe a veritable armory, save for one weary-looking official in a threadbare robe.

Vance: "The Magistrate can attend to business. And you can come with us."

Icaria: "I feel like we're on the same page," says Icaria, pleasantly.

Icaria: "Same page. It's a librarian pun, you see?"

Camena: "Are the theatrics really necessary?" Camena asks. "Put that away," she says to one of the younger boys in the coterie as she descends the gang-plank. He's got a wind-and-fire-wheel and the look of someone about to cut themselves open like a Calibration pheasant.

Icaria: Sounds like time to Join Battle!

Icaria: Unless they listen to her, I guess.

Vance: "I think it helps," Moon Tortoise comments. "Everyone respects soldiers, but they expect a bureau functionary to be some pushover flunky. I'd rather bring in criminals through fear than violence, so we always make a fierce display and give them a chance to come quietly."

Vance: "This is yours."

Icaria: "And for you as well," says Icaria politely.

Icaria: "You are obstructing a magistrate in the course of her duty, not to mention her archons, for what that's worth (which is nothing), and also I'm pretty sure you're a wicked official."

Icaria: "Surrender yourself to the magistrate's justice, or… don't."

Icaria: Oh, whatever, like they're going to.

Icaria: Join Battle.

Icaria: Five successes.

Camena: …damn it, Rand.

Camena: 3 successes.

Vance: The kung fu functionaries roll 10 successes as a battlegroup.

Icaria: Kung functionaries.

Vance: ??? also rolls 10 successes.

Icaria: I uncover my cleverly-disguised brush.

  • Camena punches Rand.

Icaria: Is Moon Tortoise part of the battlegroup?

Vance: Yes.

Icaria: The important thing is, this time, I started the battle with my buff spells up.

Vance: The functionaries surround you in a close-combat scrum, attempting to force you to your knees.

Svetlana: (I'm so sorry. Back!)

Vance: (Would you like to be offscreen investigating the boat, or fighting bureaucrats?)

Svetlana: (Investigating. I'm OK just watching the fight and getting results by roll later. Or alternating if you feel the results are exciting and the process of getting them interesting.)

Vance: (Okay. We can have dramatic flashbacks as necessary.)

Icaria: Well, I'm not letting them force me to my knees. That's what the brush is for!

Vance: Icaria and Desza, you're both getting withering attacked.

Vance: Gimme your Defenses, and any Charms you wanna use.

Camena: Wither wander?

Svetlana: (I'm kind of assuming that it'll be pretty easy to tell what's what, and it may not even be relevant at this point, but I am not a combat giant. ^_^)

Icaria: Hm, I've got Parry 5 and 8 soak.

Icaria: I suppose there's no reason not to use four motes to boost my Parry by two.

Camena: Evasion 5. If they match me, I can use Drifting Leaf Elusion to win on a tie after the attack roll.

Vance: What's your soak?

Camena: 7. She wears Silken Armor.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: The functionaries manage to overcome your defenses—their training is incredible! The press of their attack forces you into an unfavorable footing.

Vance: [3 Initiative damage to Icaria, 4 Initiative damage to Camena.]

Vance: Icaria, you're up.

Icaria: Hm, I don't want to get off on the wrong footing.

Icaria: I'm going to spend four motes to use Excellent Strike and add an extra die to my pool.

  • Icaria adds accuracy, so… ten successes.

Vance: Hit!

Vance: They've got 13 soak.

Icaria: Hm, my damage is +12, so how many damage dice does that leave me with?

Vance: It takes you down to minimum.

Icaria: Even with threshold successes?

Vance: Yeah.

Icaria: I don't know if I got any of those, I was just quoting my weapon statistic.

Vance: You have just 13 dice.

Icaria: Just one die, then?

Vance: Hmm, your artifact probably does more than that.

Vance: It's a heavy weapon, right?

Icaria: It's a grimcleaver. I forget which that is.

Icaria: That's medium.

Vance: Okay, so that's 4 dice.

Icaria: Oh, right, I have Overwhelming.

Icaria: Three successes.

Vance: You thwap through some martial artists.

Vance: You get 4 Initiative, and regain 5 motes.

Vance: Camena, you're up.

Icaria: Okay, so that puts me at 9.

Vance: Right.

Camena: Camena leaps atop a pylon—no great acrobatics, but better than being pressed to the edge of the pier. Hands work quick and she's armed twiceover—a well-tuned flame piece in each hand. "For once I was gonna try the easy way, but no…" she laments. A flick of her wrist, and the air is full of a quick curtain of blinding green-white alchemical fire.

Icaria: What happened to the Apocalypse Wand?

Icaria: Or whatever it's called?

Camena: …4 motes and 15 dice later, 2 successes

Camena: They have it.

Icaria: Is it somewhere I could easily get it to her?

Vance: That is a miss.

Camena: Fuck dice.

Vance: You'd need a disarm gambit.

Icaria: Is one of them actually using it?

Vance: No, but they're holding onto it tightly.

Icaria: That was not very wise of them.

Vance: Alright, you get 5 motes, Elliott.

Icaria: For reasons I will narrate into being.

Vance: Next round.

Camena: …?

Camena: Why do I get motes?

Vance: End of your turn, get motes.

Vance: "Remember the Correct Actions," sighs the ragged-looking, barehanded functionary, who's crouched on the ground next to the dock, watching the fight from afar. "Make eyes around them—separate two, and destroy them!"

Vance: And he's gonna make a command roll.

Icaria: I have no opinion about this person.

Icaria: They are probably a Sidereal.

Icaria: But whatever, I don't have time for that unless they're casting spells or hot.

Vance: And now y'all are being attacked again. Any Charms y'all want to use?

Icaria: I'm going to spend six personal motes to raise my Defense by 3, because evidently I need to take these guys more seriously.

Icaria: My only real defense Charm is Dipping Swallow, which I can save for if any ????? tries something.

Icaria: Anyway! I was going to talk about the story of Blue Tiger and the Apocalypse Wand.

Camena: Same deal with Drifting Leaf Elusion, plus 2m to increase my Evasion with Excellence.

Icaria: She was a warrior-poet who claimed to be married to fire itself, and her weapon was said to be their wedding band.

Icaria: According to the legend, she would sing an ancient song of her people to the firewand in order to call her spouse to her side. It's a pretty good piece of poetry, actually, it's called "The Lay of Light Beneath Earth."

Vance: The functionaries move into a figure-eight formation, isolating the two of you while keeping you surrounded on all sides. Icaria manages to fend off the worst of his attackers' blows, but Camena reels back as a three-section staff smacks her across the face, momentarily losing her breath.

Icaria: Annnnnyway, to make a long story short, I'm pretty sure that if I sing the right song, the firewand will at worst, get too hot for them to hold, and at best, explode.

Vance: (6 Initiative damage to Icaria.)

Icaria: That's fending off the worst?

Vance: (2 Initiative damage to Camena, which crashes her, and 3 levels of bashing damage.)

Icaria: Anyway, I roll six successes on my Being Right roll about legendary weapons.

Camena: Wait, how can they do damage for Init and Health?

Vance: 'Cause they crashed you.

Vance: Battle groups deal decisive damage to crashed enemies.

  • Camena still hates Rand.

Vance: so, Rand, what's your knowing things roll?

Icaria: Ten dice on Lore, six successes.

Vance: What are you trying to achieve?

Icaria: The correctness of my story about the Apocalypse Wand, and the likelihood that I can make it do fiery things by reciting poetry.

Vance: @elliott, did you have a backstory for that firewand planned?

Camena: No, but I'm kind of not into this supposed one?

Camena: Is that a mean thing?

Camena: It seems like it is.

Vance: Nah.

Vance: What's a plausible fiery thing that Icaria could bumble into doing with the dragonsigh wand?

Icaria: Do you want to be eaten by functionaries?

Camena: I WANTED TO DEAL WITH THIS WITHOUT BEING EATEN.

Icaria: I'm not bumbling! I'm a real librarian, dammit! /sulks

Camena: :stuck_out_tongue:

Camena: He could probably convince it to roar like a dragon, fire and all.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Icaria, your being correctness informs you that, while you got the name and the provenance kinda mostly wrong, you're pretty sure it could be prompted to roar like a dragon, fire and all.

Icaria: I suppose that works, even if it is a slight on my qualifications to get six successes and still be mostly wrong.

Icaria: On the bright side, I can work poetry into a stunt.

Vance: Want to take any other actions?

Vance: I'll let you get by without a flurry.

Icaria: Oh, yeah, it's definitely going to be a combat stunt.

Icaria: I may as well go all the way.

Icaria: I brandish my brush high, and bring it down in a great arc as I recite the first lines of "The Lay of Light Beneath Earth," which fortunately has exactly the correct cadence for this particular set of moves.

Icaria: I'm going to make a withering attack and use ten personal motes (which is most of them) to add seven dice and use Excellent Strike.

Vance: Take +2 stunt dice.

Icaria: So, that's twenty-two dice.

Icaria: Fortunately I bought thirty.

Icaria: Eleven successes.

Vance: You hit by 4.

Vance: What's your damage?

Icaria: +13.

Vance: Icaria drops the monks in a half-circle arc of his halberd, striking them down with superhuman finesse.

Vance: (Take 6 Initiative and 5 motes.)

Vance: Camena, you're up.

Camena: "Time to drop the pretenses, archon," she says, and makes a motion as if to part a curtain in mid-air. She emerges on the otherside—but she doesn't. In her place now is an elegant, long-limbed woman. Red hair wisping like a campfire; flickering embers in her eyes. It is plain for all to see that she is a Prince of the Earth of preternatural bearing and breeding. "Weapons down, boys," she says in a voice that brooks no response.

Vance: (Social influence roll?)

Camena: One second, need to figure out how much I just spent.

Camena: 17 successes on the Disguise role, by the way.

Icaria: That's a hell of a roll.

Camena: 9 successes on Charisma + Presence.

Vance: That's enough to prompt a rout check in these guys

Vance: They're visibly shaken, but still maintain orderly ranks.

Camena:

Camena: So, that was a waste of 20m, 1wp.

Vance: Shikata ga nai.

Icaria: How many of them have been downed, by the by?

Vance: A bit under half.

Camena: Was that even worth a stunt?

Vance: Actually, probably even less than that, but in terms of how long until they run away about half.

Icaria: How much does that weaken their combat power as a group?

Vance: The problem wasn't your roll, but that they made the rout check by 1.

Vance: And they aren't weakened yet, but once they lose this lost dot of Magnitude they go down to size 1 and become much weaker.

Vance: The lounging vagabond plucks a bit of straw from the ground and places it between his teeth. "So, Exalted? That doesn't change anything—we still take them in for Majordomo Majal. Press the attack!"

Icaria: I can't believe you blew our cover with obvious magic.

Icaria: That's so irresponsible.

Vance: The functionaries avoid Camena, still frightened by her intimidation, but advance on Icaria.

Camena: It wasn't even Obvious.

Camena: At least not capital-O.

Icaria: You turned into the Empress in broad daylight! But really I am only kidding.

Camena: Says the man on a cloud with bronze skin!

Icaria: If I could get a moment to cast some more sorcery I totally would.

Camena: And an enormous brush-axe!

Icaria: Any sorcerer could have such things.

Vance: Icaria, what's your Defense?

Icaria: It's five, but if I'm being attacked I'm going to spend four peripheral motes to raise it to 7.

Vance: It's not good enough! The warriors still manage to overcome the defensive reach of Icaria's brushstroke.

Vance: (4 Initiative damage.)

Vance: Icaria's turn.

Icaria: Well, my cover's blown, so.

Camena: Oh, dear.

Camena: Those words do not inspire confidence.

Vance: You're still plausibly Terrestrial/Exigent.

Icaria: I manage to work the blows that hammer against my weapon and threaten to knock me back into the cadence of my recitation. "Light beneath the mountain, light beneath the stone. Thunder in the mountain's roots and lightning in her bone."

Vance: Take 2 stunt dice.

Icaria: Okay, then, I'm going to spend my last eight personal motes to buy eight dice.

Icaria: Twenty-three dice for thirteen successes.

Vance: Functionaries hit the floor to a rhythmic beat, some crawling away to scramble for their lives and others simply lying there, unconscious or faking it. Only a handful are left to stand against him and Camena.

Vance: (10 Initiative, cause you get a break for lowering battle group size, and 5 motes.)

Vance: Camena?

Camena: "Are we really going to try this some more?" she asks, walking forward slowly, every movement as sinuous as fire. She raises her flame piece level with a few of the survivors. "Bow," she commands. "Or burn."

Vance: (You can try another roll, and their rout difficulty is raised because they've lost Size.)

Camena: 6 successes.

Vance: Slowly, each one conscious of who will be first to surrender, the functionaries yield. Their weapons fall to the ground, and they bow—not like suppliants, but like hostages. "You won't escape the satrap's justice this easily," hisses Moon Tortoise. "Don't underestimate them!"

Vance: Battle end.

Camena: "I should never dream of trying," Camena says, rolling her neck with a satisfying series of sounds.

Icaria: "Even the satrap must accept the justice of the Empress's chosen magistrate," says Icaria, ever loyal to people he just met and decided he worked for.

Icaria: "So… please tie yourself up in an orderly fashion."

  • Icaria looks at Camena in case she has any ranks in Use Rope or some other helpful thing.

Vance: "The Magistracy of Hares is a joke, devil," one of the functionaries spits. "A bureau full of all the Realm's incompetents. Jaspindar's justice is the only law Gloam needs."

Svetlana: Svetlana sneezes.

Icaria: "It doesn't seem to be getting you very far right now. You can't even perform a proper shakedown. A real pirate would be incredibly unimpressed, if she were here now."

Icaria: "…which she isn't."

  • Camena shoots Icaria a glare.

Camena: "C'mon, now, there'll be time enough for treasonous admissions before too long. I don't imagine the Imperial 34th is too far behind."

Camena: "I still can't believe that they got their requisition for that many warstriders."

Vance: What do you do with your surrendered enemies?

Icaria: "Magistrate?"

Svetlana: That was a pretty fast fight, but I do have Crafty Observation Method, so I suppose I could have finished evaluating things inside and returned. Up to the Storyteller, I suppose!

Vance: Definitely.

Vance: Your expectations are probably confirmed by what you find.

Svetlana: Yeah, I really just wanted factoids like "ah, these barrels of contraband have not been on the water for more than a day" or "these tracks show how they were loaded on board" to bludgeon the authorities with, not that anyone corrupt will actually care. And to see if there was anything super-surprising.

Svetlana: "Well, they're definitely criminals themselves," Svetlana says, dusting off her hands as she emerges, "but I'm not really sure it's worth killing them over, and I doubt the local cells would actually hold them. I assume you don't hold with impressed crew, Captain?"

Vance: You noticed that the crates of smuggled shadowland poppy are made from a native wood that couldn't be found at Camena's last port of entry.

Camena: "Never much favored the Empress' coin, magistrate."

Vance: "You could let all of us go," says a stocky young man with a monkish pate. "It will show that you are not beyond redemption, when the Legion captures you and brings you to the satrap. You will be punished, but at least you won't be hunted to death like a wild bear."

Icaria: I give him a clout with the brush, like an errant pupil. "Don't try to rob people and then complain when they arrest you! You don't get the moral high ground here."

Svetlana: "I am more or less inclined to just leave most of you somewhere, yes," Svetlana admits, "except for what's-her-name here, who I'd like to take to the Majordomo. But it's really up to the Captain, I think, as the wronged party."

Svetlana: "I mean, I had nothing to do with the marvelous capture of these recidivists, you see."

Camena: "I am your servant, mistress," she says, trying to impress upon Svetlana her new identity in a minimum of words.

Camena: "I trust your counsel in this matter."

Svetlana: Svetlana rolls her eyes. "You see how it is, Moon Onion? Never let them make you someone important; everyone pushes the decisions on you all the time."

Svetlana: Svetlana frowns, as if uncertain that the woman's name is in fact Moon Onion.

Vance: "That's Moon Tortoise!" She snarls back. "Tortoises are good luck! No one knows what onions portend!"

Camena: "Flatulence."

Vance: "You make the same jokes as every six-year old boy from my village. I hope you're proud of yourself."

Svetlana: "I'm certain Icaria here knows what onions portend, so now you're just exaggerating."

Camena: "It must have been hard, to grow up with that name, then. Poor Moon Onion."

Camena: "The butt of everyone's joke. Doesn't really sound like much of a gas."

Icaria: "Well, according to the Classic of Omens, onions in a dream portend bad luck.

Vance: She grumps severely. "Please, hurry up and take me to the Lord Majordomo. He'll have things right in the blink of an eye. Exalted like you can beat up ordinary folk all you want—but the Majordomo is one of the Dragons!"

Icaria: "But under the revised model proposed by Seven White Hammer, they mean justice."

Icaria: "Nobody really understands the hammer model, though."

Camena: "I'm sorry, am I not a Dragon?" Camena asks, preening as tiny, smokeless flames dance on her shoulders.

Vance: "You," Moon Tortoise says, perfectly composed, "are a shit dragon."

Icaria: Her name is becoming volatile under close observation.

Icaria: Another Sidereal, like the one I have already forgotten about.

Camena: Camena looks down at Moon/Cloud Tortoise/Onion, squatting until their eyes are level.

Camena: "I have climbed to the heights of ecstatic enlightenment that you cannot even dream of. I have marshalled my powers against the Everstorm that blazes at the Pole of Air. I have seen things you wouldn't believe, and I have lost things you cannot imagine. Tell me again what I am, little acolyte. Criminal, traitor, hare—whatever you like. Here, and to my face." She pauses then, drawing closer. "What am I, again?"

Vance: "No different than the last sunuvabitch to roll into Gloam, thinking that just because he had the blessing of the gods he was hot shit." Moon Tortoise responds, dismissively. "You take what you want and you make a big noise, but you're nothing to the Dragons of Gloam. They take care of us. You're just another pile of dung in their cart trail."

Svetlana: "Right, then," Svetlana says. "If there's an obvious place to stick the rest of these embarrassments where they won't untie themselves as readily or will be a little more comfortable while they work on that, let's do it, and then our dear Moon Tortoise here can lead us to the Majordomo, whereupon we can determine which dragons are fire and which dragons, ah, burn easily and provide warmth through the winter."

Camena: "Some of my best friends are Wood Aspects."

Icaria: "Tough crowd."

Vance: Okay, let's cut forward to the rest of them being tied up (maybe on the ship) and y'all approaching the mansion with Moon Tortoise.

Vance: Have you got her restrained at all?

Svetlana: I was assuming hands behind her back and a cord, myself, but it kind of depends on how she was restrained when I got there

Icaria: Does she look like the sort of kung fu bandit who needs more than just being tied up?

Vance: You consider the possibility of a gag.

Icaria: She's definitely not a good-faith conversationalist.

Svetlana: Svetlana is not being terribly fussed about it because she assumes whatever she's doing is probably a mistake but is going to write it up as a brilliant choice.

Camena: Camena rolls with it, but definitely had a gag on hand in her ship.

Vance: Okay, so you're bringing her back towards what Icaria and Svetlana know as the satrap's mansion, where the hellboar escaped from, and where Camena met the brick-laying Dragon-Blooded.

Vance: Less than a minute into the forced march, the gag goes on.

Svetlana: It's harder to have her guide us to Lord Majal if she's gagged, but if she's willing to nod her head in the appropriate directions I guess it'd work. Oh, hey, that's interesting! I didn't put it together that that was the satrap's mansion until we started moving. I guess it's true, we can gag her then.

Vance: To Icaria and Svetlana, the mansion is now noticeably missing one hole. Camena's scouted out this building before?there's a guarded main entrance, with entryways to the servant's quarters in an offshoot building.

Svetlana: It accidentally the whole!

Icaria: Hard to get rid of a hole.

Camena: A hole mess of trouble.

Svetlana: I suppose the best thing to do is to approach the main entrance.

Camena: "Action plan, commrades?"

Icaria: "Let's just walk in like we own the place."

Icaria: "Honestly, I'm giving pretty good odds Majal's already dead or something."

Svetlana: "I was planning to go and inform them that Lord Majal wanted to see the two of you, and would probably be interested to know that his subordinate Moon Tortoise has gotten involved in shadowlands (whatever it was) smuggling. Or possibly just using confiscated supplies of such to entrap others."

Svetlana: "I'm not sure why he wanted to see Icaria, but they did seem to feel it was the case."

Icaria: Only "pretty good" odds because I'm not really sure how much of the weirdness from before the reign of Vance is still canon.

Icaria: looks at her as if to say "have you seen this?"

Camena: My benevolent tyranny is law!

Svetlana: "Hm, yes, it could in fact be carnal attraction. But is he worthy of you?" Svetlana glances at Moon Tortoise, hoping for an evaluation of Lord Majal's value as a match for Icaria despite her gagged state.

Icaria: "Deeply unlikely."

Vance: Moon Tortoise is wordlessly appalled.

Svetlana: "I would not want an unworthy stallion pointlessly dissipating the yang energy of my scribe," Svetlana points out, reasonably, to Moon Tortoise.

Icaria: "I may have previously implied through my rash actions that I would fall for anything with a few muscles and fewer garments, but I have standards. High standards! And evil satraps don't qualify."

Camena: "To each his own," Camena says. "Personally, I have found evil men to be among the most generous and vigorous lovers. They've got a lot to prove."

Svetlana: "In any case, the simple fact is that Lord Majal has not yet demonstrated any actual ill intentions personally, which means that disappearing into the shadows and intriguing against him is out; we must press forward vigorously and force the world to fall into line with correct ideals, or leave. In my opinion."

  • Icaria considers this in regard to himself, but is still unenthused by the prospect of seducing he villainous satrap.

Icaria: "Forward, then. I cannot end the day until I have forced something to fall in line with correct ideals."

  • Icaria is bitter that the firewand never got around to exploding.

Icaria: At this rate I'll have to swap Castes and call myself a Dawn.

  • Camena remembers that Camena probably grabbed up her dragonsigh wand.

Svetlana: Wheel of Castes, turn turn turn, tell us the evils we should burn!

Vance: You come to the front entryway of the satrap's mansion, covered by an elegant portico and manned by a pair of guards in colorful tunics, armed with the native Gloamish weaponry, a crescent-hooked pick.

Vance: They look understandably taken aback as they see the ropes binding Cloud Tortoise, but still maintain decorum as they ask you your purpose.

Svetlana: "This humble magistrate has been informed that Lord Majal wishes to meet with these companions of mine. I am also bringing him one of his esteemed servants who appears to have fallen off the path of righteousness and begun loading shadowlands (mushrooms?) onto ships in the harbor for reasons that are as yet slightly unclear; I worried that it might offend if I were to simply abruptly deal with the matter myself without first bringing it to his attention."

Vance: (Poppies!)

Svetlana: Poppies.

Vance: "I will inform the Lord Majordomo. Your name is…"

Svetlana: "Tepet Evdeniya."

Vance: "My apologies for your family's legions."

Svetlana: A shadow passes across Svetlana's face. "It is a troubled world. Thank you."

Icaria: Oh no they didn't.

Vance: You do not wait long. A serving boy, red-haired and bedecked with spiraling coils of gold, leads you through the mansion's antechamber and along a twist of corridors, leading to a sprawling office. Lord Majordomo Majal sits at his desk, sipping from a mug of tea as you approach him. "Captain, good to see you again," he says to Camena. "Your mistake was pretending you were in the legions. I thought I would send some men to inspect your ship, to see what else you might be lying about."

Icaria: "This is why I never claim to know anything."

Icaria: "The less you claim to know, the fewer lies you have to remember."

Svetlana: Svetlana finds a pose that is probably more setting-appropriate than leaning casually against the wall, but which conveys the same willingness to let Camena and Lord Majal (and Icaria, if it comes to that) talk until someone brings her in.

Camena: For once, Camena appears glad to let the Majordomo speak uninterrupted. All the better to understand his lies.

Vance: "It seems you've tied up one of the public servants sent to carry out that investigation, which suggests to me that its outcome was not favorable. Regardless, you've caused trouble, all three of you, and unless you sit down and listen to how to make it disappear it's going to be the end of you."

Svetlana: "Naturally," Svetlana murmurs. She glances around for a chair and works on a profile character action over the next five minutes.

Camena: Camena's reaction is similar, steepling her fingers as taking a seat to listen. Sometimes, reasonableness is the best disguise.

Vance: The Majordomo turns to Camena. "Now, I don't know what you have on the ship of yours—well, that's not true, I have eyes everywhere and know everything that search turned up. Interesting, the orichalcum. You must be someone very interesting, and what's the first thing you do? Track me down. So, while I don't know what you're up to, I know you're going to be on my nerves."

Vance: "The other two of you, well, not that it matters, but I know you're supposed to be in the office of Gloam's magistrate right now, for various offenses. How fortunate you did not let that delay you. Now, let me lay out a bargain."

Svetlana: "Ah, 'supposed', mm," Svetlana murmurs, apparently to herself to solidify Lord Majal's points in her mind.

Vance: "Gloam is, of course, home to a hundred schemes. There are but five Dragon-Blooded in the satrapy, and yet I'd guess we make for the lion's share. If you are willing to assist me in certain intrigues against the satrap, I can smooth this over. If not, you've committed capital crimes, and shall be duly punished."

Icaria: "There are certainly some crimes which have been committed, although fate seems determined to place obstacles in front of my resolving them."

Camena: "And the number of Dragon-Blooded is perhaps open to some revision."

Svetlana: "I see," Svetlana says. "I see. Pardon, but can you tell me a little about the character of the satrap that you would wish us to intrigue against? Since I am certainly not completely averse to intriguing against people, but, you understand, I am finicky in the selection thereof."

Icaria: "I also am theoretically willing to assist in intrigues, although unwilling to be bullied."

Camena: "I've got a bit of a mercenary spirit."

Vance: "Sesus Jaspindar has proven an implacable leader and a most admirable satrap. In the last few months, she's raised our tributes almost threefold. But one worries that past triumphs will breed future arrogance. The satrap has embarked on a course of action which reasonable minds might say is wrong-headed. I hope to provide a small reminder of her fallibility, so that she may escape the greater error. You will be my agents in this—strangers to Gloam, deniable, expendable. Do you think you are fit for the task?"

Svetlana: "That's terrible," Svetlana says. "Of course I'm not fit. I'm not expendable at all. Though I am a deniable stranger. I'm so sorry that your satrap has embarked upon such an unreasonable course of action. Has she begun insisting on reports filed in triplicate?"

Vance: "I could not betray the lady's confidence by telling you her plans, of course. Let it simply be said that we disagree on how best to maintain relationships with an old ally. I fear she would surrender too much to him."

Svetlana: Svetlana squints at him. "That is actually rather noble- and loyal-sounding. Not to render my own position suddenly precarious, but are you sure you wish to scheme against her at all?"

Vance: "You don't know what she's risking, Magistrate. The deal is simply too important; I'll use every trick of the trade against her, if I have to. Which leads to your role. I can arrange for some social frippery—a gala, a wine tasting, whatever the wretched tradesman want to hawk their wares at. Satrap Jaspindar will be in prominent attendance, heavily guarded. You will assassinate the guards, while leaving the satrap herself unharmed."

Icaria: In my genuine character as a wandering Solar hero, I have no interest at all in helping with this, so I am simply waiting for the magistrate to state group policy.

Icaria: Plus Mr. Johnson is lying, but whatever.

Icaria: I am content for those events to unfold as they will.

Vance: Majal stares down Icaria. "Cat have your tongue? You know I could have you executed on the spot, for sorcery in disregard of her Imperial Majesty's will. I won't, because I don't like executions, but you need to understand the seriousness of the situation that you're in. I'm giving you a choice because that's the polite thing to do, not because I have to."

Camena: "You're giving us a choice because you know you don't have the position to pull off your plan without some outside intervention."

Icaria: In theory I can just claim the Empress's sanction via Evdeniya, but I don't think that's in-character for Icaria even if he feels like playing the loyal archon this hour.

Icaria: "I came here with the magistrate, so I'll do as she does. If your only argument in favor is that you could have that magistrate executed, you seem to be short on carrot and stick at once."

Vance: "Come on, use your head. Gloam is a harbor town; I could pull up a mysterious stranger every ten feet in here without breaking a sweat. The reason I'm giving this choice to you, Captain, is because it means you won't be obstacles to me when I'm doing the thousand other things that are part of my job, and because if anything can shock the Satrap, I suspect it'll be the bloodhound magistrate, the unlicensed sorcerer, and the pirate queen."

Svetlana: "This is really the seventeenth-most bizarre and convoluted plot I've ever heard of," Svetlana says. "Smuggling shadowland poppies onto a ship in order to obtain a deniable assassin in order to remind a satrap of her mortality so that she doesn't make a mistake. I don't really see how you can successfully execute us, but I feel like it's embarrassing to just leave you hanging. Er, as it were. If someone attacks her after her guards have been removed, would you prefer that we defend her?"

Icaria: "Whatever the opposite of a carrot and a stick is. Surely I can work onions in here somehow."

Icaria: "An onion and a bowl. Of turtle soup."

Icaria: "If only you'd cooked the onion first and put it in the soup, but now it's too late!"

Camena: "Mysterious strangers are a dime a dozen. But to find ones who are compet—"

Camena: Camena stops and looks square at Icaria, and then shrugs.

Vance: "You see convolution because you examine the pebble. I have spent years mastering the mountain that is Gloam, and the hidden things that lie in its shadow. It is all a single perfect harmony to me."

Svetlana: "It might be embarrassing, you understand, and raise questions, if we turned around and protected her immediately after removing her guards. It might even seem a bit like showboating."

Vance: "Also, I would hope it is obvious that you should keep the satrap from dying, under any circumstances. We are loyal citizens, after all."

Icaria: "I can't tell if that's irony or not. If it's irony, you have to say."

Camena: (He knows I'm not a Terrestrial, right?)

Vance: "You may employ all manner of trickery and ruses, Magistrate. Feign a kidnapping. Employ body doubles. Set the dance hall ablaze, for all I care. Simply keep her safe, and your actions deniable.

Vance: (You don't know whether he knows you're not a Terrestrial.)

Icaria: I suppose we might as well agree since he has no easy way to actually make us do anything, so we may as well claim the excuse to do suspicious things and get him to fund it.

Svetlana: Svetlana rests her elbow on her chair and her hand on her chin and watches him in fascination. "I don't suppose that this is enough to really fall under my mandate," she concedes. "I mean, I assume this is all very much more sinister than you're presenting it—my apologies, if it's only exactly as sinister as you're presenting it—but I can't say that the Empress' justice ought to fall on you as long as you're only smuggling poppies around for political maneuvering intended to be helpful. I could make it under my mandate but then we'd have to fight instead of cooperate and that wouldn't be pretty. I suppose you could set up the occasion in question and if we can't find anything fishy by the time it plays out either there isn't anything fishy or we don't deserve to find it."

Vance: Majal takes a moment to parse that sentence out.

Vance: Such is the nature of earth.

Icaria: I mean, this guy obviously wants to assassinate the satrap and blame us.

Vance: "I believe, then, that we have an agreement."

Icaria: Since I actually do want to assassinate the satrap I'm cool with that.

Icaria: Although obviously it should be on terms favorable to us and the general weal.

Vance: "It will take to arrange for a proper venue. In the interim, I can assist you in establishing public personas in Gloam—it will be easier to invite a trader captain or an exotic sorcerer to the satrap's gala than pirate scum or an ox-headed dolt."

Icaria: "That would be most kind. People are always confusing me for an ox-headed dolt. It's a problem."

Svetlana: "If not an agreement," Svetlana says, "then certainly an understanding. Or, if not an understanding, then an inkling, at least. And for such personages as us, even an inkling is enough to rock the world."

Camena: Camena briefly considers fiery retaliation, but grows too bored of the Majordomo's single-minded slander.

Camena: "I need no help in that endeavor. It's truth enough already, and a good captain is never quite what she seems."

Svetlana: "It is impossible to confuse you for an ox-headed dolt," Svetlana reassures him. "You are the only one here whom it is impossible to confuse for anything."

Icaria: "Oh, okay."

Vance: Majal reaches for his belt, pulling out a pouch of clinking jade obols that he tosses to Icaria's feet. "More than enough to pay your way. The law in Gloam actually does refrain from harassing people who don't throw the city upside-down, so I'm optimistic that you can avoid future entanglements with them, but I hear that bribery can be wonderfully effective. I will send my next message to you by a servant with one eye blue and one eye gray. Anyone else is an agent of my rivals. Now please leave, and strike this memory from your recollection."

Icaria: "We have already forgotten."

Svetlana: "Such terrible scribery," Svetlana murmurs, sadly.

Svetlana: She stands up, and prepares to go. Oh, and 5 successes on the Profile Character (with 3 motes spent, if you can use an Excellency on a 5-minute action).

Vance: Lord Majordomo Majal is a big, soft-seeming man, but the calluses on his hands speak to a rigorous lifestyle of martial arts training. You couldn't say what style, but it's clear that he's been pushing himself to extremes in his training, even for a Dragon-Blooded.

Vance: You also notice a strange, quivering pause in between his words. He speaks well and confidently, so it's hard to catch, but every few words he stops suddenly.

Vance: …and unless anyone else wants to do stuff, this seems like a good place to call it a night.

Svetlana: "Please don't forget to untie and ungag Moon Tortoise," Svetlana adds. "I would be sad if she starved because we forgot her."

Icaria: Very well, let us now avaunt to a place where we can discuss these developments with appropriate sarcasm.

Svetlana: I have nothing else I particularly want to do. Although I will gladly participate in discussing with sarcasm.

Camena: Sarcasm is fun.

Camena: It involves actual chasms, right?

Icaria: I think that association-by-pun is a Getimian magic.

Icaria: Anyway, we retire to a safer space. The ship? A tearoom?

Icaria: Probably the ship.

Icaria: And I shall say, "So, it's a trap."

Svetlana: "It felt too awkward turning him down," Svetlana admits, embarrassedly.

Camena: I will say that I am le tired as heck.

Svetlana: Happy dreams!

Icaria: Sleep well!

Icaria: "He did seem to want our help rather badly for someone so certain that we were but one of a thousand interchangeable rogues."

Icaria: "I assume that when we show up at this gala and cause a disturbance, the satrap will be immediately assassinated."

Icaria: "…before talking, I should probably feel out your views. You want to… stop this?… assist in this?… assist in this without being blamed?… assassinate the majordomo instead?"

Icaria: "Me, I'm easy like the first morning of spring."

Vance: Okay, confession time.

Vance: The line was supposed to be "intrigue against the satrap's enemies" but I left the last part out by mistake.

Icaria: I figured.

Vance: So the plot was somewhat hastily conceived to cover for me absolutely screwing the pooch.

Icaria: I am still assuming that he wants to assassinate the satrap and blame us because we don't actually have anything else he wants except for being really convenient scapegoats for something or other.

Icaria: Clearly he doesn't want my body.

Vance: Majal is happily married.

Svetlana: "I'm mostly just interested in what decision has the majordomo so worried," Svetlana says. "I don't really intend on assassinating anyone, though I suppose I'm vaguely willing to do something to stir things up and see what happens."

Icaria: "Perhaps you should scope out the political, uh, territory in some nondescript way."

  • Icaria waves a hand at these mysterious doings.

Svetlana: "If the satrap is really as clean as his description suggests, then I suppose I'd prefer to protect her from whatever plot this actually is."

Svetlana: "Yeah, scoping is important."

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders this gloomily.

Svetlana: "I suppose I should find someone important and have them befriend me and explain the local political situation cleanly," Svetlana concludes. "Do you have a book on that?"

Icaria: considers his stack of books. He wasn't able to bring as many as he wanted when he left the library (that would have been "all of them" and he doesn't have that much sorcery yet).

Svetlana: I'm OK with retconning it to the satrap's enemies, too, if that would work better.

Icaria: "Hm, I have the Classic of Good Order and the Compendium of Making Good Decisions."

Vance: Nah.

Vance: I have devised a scheme whereby this all makes sense.

  • Icaria opens these books and looks for advice.

Vance: And now I definitely have to finish the Dragon-Blooded combat charms by next week!

Icaria: …we're helping!

Icaria: "The humane man sits at the corner of idleness and industry. He steers between the desire to slave fruitlessly and the desire to idle endlessly."

Icaria: "From here he sees all things that are."

Icaria: "Hm, can we apply this advice to your situation?"

Icaria: We just need to find someone on the corner of idleness and industry and ask them what the hell's going on."

Icaria: …possibly this is not the best plot thread.

Icaria: I guess I could try using sorcery to learn stuff…

Icaria: Hm, an elemental spy would be nice.

Icaria: Really I need to get a few elemental helpers going.

Vance: Formal end of game update: everybody gets +5 XP, +4 Solar XP.

Icaria: Hooray!

Vance: We can put renaming "Solar XP" to "Chosen XP" up to a vote.

Svetlana: I should spend XP at some point. Maybe raise my Essence to 8.

Icaria: You can't actually do that with XP anymore.

Icaria: Well, not directly.

Vance: Essence 8 Larceny.

Vance: I disguised myself as that character, the one that formerly was an NPC but is now my character pulling off a mask and retconning their way into the scene.

Vance: Actually, that's probably doable within the Essence 1-5 Charmset.

Vance: One Step Ahead Prana.

Svetlana: Plausibly.

Svetlana: It doesn't seem conceptually beyond that Craft Charm.

Svetlana: Essence 8 Larceny is probably more what you'd use to steal control of the Imperial Manse by pickpocketing someone who looks sort of like the Empress.

Svetlana: Or maybe that's aiming too high.

Icaria: I think it's more like "I steal your name" or some other thing that makes sense for one Solar to be able to do but that isn't necessarily good for all Night Castes to have as an option.

Vance: Using omniscient criminal god-sight to play out multiple potential timelines of what might happen if you attempt a criminal endeavor, play them all out, then select the most advantageous outcome to become reality.

Vance: Stealing demons away from the Yozis.

Vance: Trapping someone in their own shadow.

Vance: That contingency plan, but with a time ceiling of "the present Age."

Vance: (If you haven't been alive that long, some of the preparations can be done by your past incarnations.)

Icaria: That's good planning.

Vance: Which is actually how a Doctor Who episode went, I think.

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