In Which We Once Again Kill Nobody

Camena: So…

Camena: What are we doing tonight?

Camena: I forget where we left off.

Vance: You picked a fight with a deathknight.

Camena: Oooooh, that's right.

Camena: Good time to suddenly have a bignasty Charm that punks out CoDs, isn't it?

Vance: Icaria, are you well enough to play?

Icaria: Oh, yeah, I'm fine if I'm sitting down.

Vance: I am glad to hear you're feeling good, at least!

Icaria: I keep vacillating between "fine, generally" and "woo, dizzy."

Icaria: It's annoying.

Vance: …and even gladder that Icaria can flail about!

Zanara: Looking forward to maybe getting to do my Zenith Zap.

Camena: Maybe we can actually smite someone who deserves it?

Vance: All he wanted to do was set up a cool shadowland psychedelic haven!

Camena: Serestala, are we gonna meet a heroic Dawn Caste damage-monkey?

Vance: That is my hope.

Zanara: She is marveling at Night in the Woods at the moment but is most assuredly ready to punch a deathknight’s face off.

Serestala: I'm going punch so many things.

Svetlana: I'm not sure whether we get XP for missed sessions to keep everyone at the same total or no XP for missed sessions because we (I) missed them.

Camena: I think we decided to just keep stuff normalized?

Vance: Oh yes, you do get them for missed sessions.

Camena: It's more for pacing the group, je pense.

Vance: Really, it's that I'd rather die than have to keep track of things.

Camena: Also:

Camena: Vance.

Camena: Tonight.

Camena: At the end of this session.

Camena: D'you know what happens?

Icaria: The magical!

Icaria: The marvelous!

Vance: Absolutely nothing.

Vance: You gotta meditate!

Camena: Nope!

Camena: We took a vote.

Camena: We voted to meditate very, very quickly.

Vance: The sublime sunfire mysteries of the universe do not yield to democracy.

Camena: Also: HOW HAVE WE REACHED ESSENCE 3, MORE OR LESS, WITHOUT EVER FLARING AN ANIMA?

Icaria: I went bonfire once.

Camena: When was that?

Icaria: Fighting sharks.

Vance: When Tran figured out you were Anathema.

Icaria: For about two seconds.

Camena: Ah, that's right.

Camena: I'mma not count that.

Camena: Because I was still distracted by Jenna's cow plan.

Camena: For many, many sessions.

Icaria: It's cooler to call it "Jenna's Amaterasu plan."

Camena: There were no mirrors!

Vance: Cows hold up a mirror to life.

Icaria: The story was that they lured Amaterasu out of the cave by making a fuss.

Elliott: Any scene so hectic and intense that would you would need to flare anima would be such an excruciating pain in the ass to play out according to the rules that all of you, GM included, have been consciously or unconsciously avoiding any narrative outcome that would subject you to that much bookkeeping.

Camena: New goddess: Amatiramisu, Goddess of Solar Desserts.

Svetlana: How much XP should we have, then?

  • Svetlana is double-verifying that she didn't already add the 5 from the session she missed before adding it.

Icaria: 120 XP.

Svetlana: And how much Solar?

Icaria: I'm not sure, I wasn't counting that as a spent resource.

Vance: I think 96.

Icaria: 24 sessions x 4 indicates 96.

Svetlana: heehee

Vance: I'm good at math!

Icaria: Learn to math with the eyes of an English major!

Icaria: Only, don't take mine.

Icaria: I need them.

Icaria: Both of them.

Svetlana: OK, for some reason my regular XP was correct and my Solar was two sessions low.

Svetlana: THIS IS FASCINATING I AM SURE.

Icaria: All I know is I'm never going back to check my totals.

Svetlana: Actually, hm, I bet I spent 8 Solar on something and it didn't get saved.

Svetlana: Hm, Stealth was long since 5, no other unfavored abilities are 4 or 5. The only stat raised from 2 is recorded. Willpower is not raised. I could have raised a Caste/Favored from 2 to 4? …no. I must just have double-spent my last 8XP purchase.

Camena: Such Salt. Much dessication. Wow.

Icaria: Better buy Eat Two Whole Pigs Prana.

Camena: I read that as Wigs.

Svetlana: I must save my regular XP!

Svetlana: Otherwise I can't make everyone forget about me at the end of this session and go eat worms!

Vance: Satrap Bokuro's library is vast—big enough that from one end to another is long range. Bookshelves, tapestries, statues, and other stunt fodder feature prominently.

Icaria: I'd say "nobody stunt harm to the books" but frankly the place is basically a wash.

Svetlana: It's possible that this will temper them.

Vance: Svetlana-disguised-as-Bokuro leads the menacing emissary from Thorns into the library. Camena follows after them, unseen. Icaria is in an adjacent room (at medium range, full cover).

Vance: Zanara is, let's say, at the other end of the room, reading a particularly interesting book. Long range from the guy.

Vance: Boss Fight Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3Ntac9a-WM

Vance: If you'd like to make an introductory stunt before rolling Join Battle, now's the time.

Svetlana: Bokuro gives the emissary the first sentence and a half of a long and actually fairly interesting anecdote about that portrait there, tries twice to remember the word 'impropriety' while explaining it, and Joins Battle in the middle of the third try.

Camena: Sensing the oncoming strife like the first scent of a storm carried by a sea wind, Camena flits into the room, slipping behind a book case with eyes trained on the stranger from Thorns even as Grand Leviathan glides out from under her cloak, her finger finding the trigger.

Vance: Both of y'all take a one-point.

Icaria: Icaria, hiding behind the door, tenses, but has trouble staying still. Ever since he cracked a rib jumping from Cc to Dz, he's always wanted to have a kung-fu battle in a library.

Vance: Ditto Icaria.

Icaria: Six successes, for starting iniative 9.

Camena: 14.

Vance: Is that before or after adding base Initiative?

Camena: Initiative 17.

Svetlana: 13 successes, starting initiative 16, one automatic success for detecting hidden opponents.

Vance: Camena with the ambush!

Zanara: Zanara was enjoying the book—it’s been a while since she’s been able to just sit and read. The sound of the door opening at the far end of the library, though, and the sight of “Bokuro” and the emissary from Thorns entering the room, tells her the end will have to wait. She leaves the book resting on the table, propped open so as not to lose her place.

Vance: Take a two-point.

Zanara: A total of three, thanks to that!

Vance: As you draw the breath of hostility, the strange visitor flares with an anima banner. It is not Solar or Terrestrial—it is a shining, vibrant darkness, a radiant shadow that casts everything in eerie relief. He reaches for the weapon on his back, unwinding its wrappings to reveal a scythe with a blade of black metal. "You think you can fight me, Bokuro? Such a useless courage."

Vance: Camena's up first.

Camena: Camena tenses as the shadows unspool from the emissary, some ancient instinct inside of her Essence flaring with unusual… hatred. The word isn't enough. She takes in a breath, blood already in her eyes, but there is Svetlana, even in disguise, inches away from that wicked scythe. The hatred is shocked away as Camena tumbles out from behind the bookcase. "Not my cousin, you bastard."

Vance: Ambushing?

Camena: Oh, my, yes.

Vance: Take a two-point, I think.

Vance: The Willpower helps, even if the bonus dice don't matter.

Camena: 9 successes.

Vance: On the damage roll?

Camena: Oh no, to hit.

Camena: Sorry.

Vance: You hit!

Camena: Braining bad tonight.

Camena: Activating Fiery Arrow Technique.

Vance: There's a -2 penalty on damage.

Camena: Wait, why?

Vance: Resistance Charms.

Camena: Bastardo!

Vance: His anima flares higher as you strike.

Camena: 4 Successes, and he's on fire, contending with 2L dice per turn.

Vance: How many dice weren't successes?

Camena:

Camena: 11.

Vance: Camena's firewand douses the deathknight in flames, setting him ablaze. His white robes burn away almost instantly, revealing an aberration of flesh and metal beneath—his skin has been replaced with what seems like flowing black steel, the faces of spectres half-visible in its depths.

Vance: He is severely on fire.

{

  • Vance rolls this round's damage.

Vance: It's now his turn.

Svetlana: …did he roll 17 but fall behind Camena because she was stealthed?

Vance: One of his defensive charms gave him bonus Initiative, putting him above you.

Svetlana: Ah.

Vance: "You think I'll let fire stop me? Pathetic." He swings his scythe with a ballerina's grace, lovingly tracing each arc through the air in a continuous cutting motion. He rains down blows, striking at both Svetlana and Camena.

Vance: Camena, you have three attacks incoming.

Vance: Svetlana, you have two.

Camena: …what the actual fuck?

Vance: Remember onslaught penalties.

Camena: Remind us how to calculate them.

Vance: Your defense goes down by 1 for each attack you've already taken.

Vance: So if you have 5, it'll be 5 against the first attack, 4 against the second, etc.

Icaria: Do you have to excellency-boost your defense against each attack in a flurry?

Vance: Yes.

Icaria: Wow, it's a good thing I'm made of metal and wearing magical armor.

Icaria: This solid wall is also helpful.

Camena: Blargle. One moment.

Svetlana: What Aspect is Bokuro?

Vance: Air

Camena: Evasion 7, 6, 7; let me know if the guy rolls any 1's on his attacks, and I can spend 1m to win on a tie.

Vance: Does your thing say it lets you hit 1s before they get rerolled?

Camena: For each 1 that appears in the result of an attack roll, the Exalt may pay three motes, converting that 1 into -1 success to the attack.

Vance: Yeah, no dice, as it were.

Camena: How?

Vance: Excellent Strike.

Vance: …or its Abyssal cousin.

Camena: It literally cannot do anything until they're rolled.

Camena: What's that?

Camena: What?

Vance: The first Melee Charm.

Icaria: Excellent Strike protects your 1s from enemy magic.

Vance: Adds one success and reroll 1s.

Camena: Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

Icaria: That reminds me, Abyssals love their 1-fucking magic, so I'd better be sure to use it.

Vance: Do you have the thing that lets you tiebreak on dodges?

Camena: Yes.

Svetlana: "Misunderstanding, misunderstanding!" shrieks Bokuro, stumbling backwards, his frantically-waving sleeves stirring up a pointless wind around him as he goes rolling over a table not far behind him. "Assassins!" 9, 9. (8 initiative, 10m.)

Vance: Okay, so if you use it twice you only get hit by one attack.

Vance: Svetlana successfully dodges both attacks!

Camena: Camena's anima scintillates as it draws off some of the force of the emissary's blows; it is a bright, pale gold threaded with blistering whites and reds… but even that doesn't save her from the last.

Camena: Apparently.

Vance: She takes three levels of lethal damage.

Vance: I think Svetlana spent enough Initiative on her defense that is is now Icaria's turn

Vance: Icaria can't actually see the deathknight, but he can see what is now a bonfire anima shining through the space under and around the door

Icaria: I politely open the door to let my greenmaw in, and just kind of step on as she glides through so I can make a dramatic entrance on her tail.

Vance: Roll Join Battle for her.

Svetlana: (Go, Emeraude! Go!)

Icaria: I'll strike a fearsome pose as we roll into close range, crying "Death to the satrap! …whoa, okay, yikes" as I see the horrifying soulsteel monstrosity that I was totally not expecting.

Icaria: But I quickly recover and cry "Death to the satrap, and to his nightmare-beast!" while taking time to activate Strength-Increasing Exercise.

Svetlana: Svetlana feels a stirring warmth in her heart as her "We should probably kill the satrap" Intimacy is affirmed.

Vance: How buff you gettin'?

Icaria: I guess that's nine peripheral motes to boost my Strength to five and summon Emeraude to the field.

Icaria: At last, I am as buff as I secretly feel I ought to be.

Icaria: Okay, that's not true.

Vance: BEEFCAKARIA

Icaria: Icaria thinks every pound between himself and the Frazetta Conan is a personal failing.

Icaria: Anyway, Emeraude rolls 2.

Vance: Svetlana's turn!

Icaria: Anyway, I'm close enough now to reflexively defend one of you with War Lion Stance as needed.

Svetlana: Bokuro is still in midair when he hurls the blue jade dragon fang fast enough that whorls of wind blow away the bad poetry on the table and accelerate him backwards to scramble up a bookshelf. (Thrown attack followed by disengage.)

Vance: Take a one-point stunt on both.

Svetlana: Pathetically, 2 successes and 3 successes (on 14 dice and 12 dice with double 9s).

Vance: The deathknight brings the haft of his scythe around to deflect the skycutter away, sending it flying back to Svetlana's hand.

Icaria: Sending your enemy's weapon back to her is classy.

Svetlana: "That's not how the elemental cycle works!" snaps Bokuro in outrage before flushing in embarrassment.

Vance: And the disengage fails.

Vance: You remain at close range.

Vance: Zanara's turn!

Svetlana: …and crashing into the bookshelf, in said embarrassment.

Zanara: Zanara draws back an arrow, her eyes locked to… to whatever this emissary is. All she knows is that it’ll be dead before it leaves the room.

Zanara: (Aim action, since I’m at Long Range.)

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Emeraude's turn!

Vance: (Emeraude, for context, is a giant plant worm with a venus flytrap mouth.)

Serestala: (Aha!)

Zanara: (Oh, and moving in to medium with my reflexive move.)

Vance: Gotcha.

Icaria: Emeraude idly grasps a book off a shelf in her tail and pretends to read it. It is a cruel joke. Her scent-detecting organs are wholly focused on the enemy.

Icaria: She uses Defend Other to protect Icaria.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: End of round, everyone regains five motes.

Vance: Icaria is first up.

Vance: He's at short range from the deathknight

Icaria: Hm, close and do melee, or start chanting butterflies?

Icaria: If I try a spell, do you think you guys can make him regret ignoring you?

Vance: He won't necessarily know you're casting.

Camena: Camena is cut pretty nice.

Svetlana: I can probably block him from disengaging although it goes against my instincts.

Icaria: Well, if he doesn't know what Death of Obsidian Butterflies sounds like, that's his problem.

Icaria: You don't have to do that, just… if he decides not to keep the pressure on you, hit him where it hurts.

Icaria: I don't know where that is. He's a weird metal guy.

Icaria: Anyway.

Icaria: Supernal Control Technique!

Svetlana: Probably the guitar, then.

Icaria: Death of Obsidian Butterflies, round 1!

Icaria: 8.

Vance: Next up, Svetlana and Zanara simultaneously!

Svetlana: Bokuro glances back at the ruined shelf behind him. His face falls. "You are in a library," he howls at the deathknight. "Reading is fundamental!" He throws A Courtesan in Green Jade angrily at the deathknight's face. Also, in its shadow, he throws some actual green jade.

Vance: Two-point stunt!

Svetlana: 6 successes.

Icaria: I'm afraid that particular book was mostly just about fundament.

Vance: You hit.

Vance: Your damage roll is at a -2 penalty, and 1s subtract successes, up to -3.

Vance: The same goes for any attacks Zanara might attempt.

Svetlana: 1s on the damage roll?

Vance: Yeah.

Svetlana: And how much did I hit by?

Vance: 0.

Vance: For transparency's sake, I guess I should announce Bulwark Stance + Durability of Oak Technique.

Vance: Except, pretend both names are spooky.

Icaria: Buldark Stance.

Icaria: Durability of Broke Technique.

Zanara: Zanara takes a slow breath, drawing her arrow back to Guiding Faith’s very limit. No holding back. The arrowhead begins to glow, a dull red slowly turning to white hot. The very moment she lets fly, both she and the arrowhead burst into rich, golden flames, the former a streak of light as it sails across the library.

Vance: Take a one-point stunt.

Zanara: After 12m on Wise Arrow (-1 Defense) and Excellency, ten successes, three 1s.

Vance: That hits by 4.

Svetlana: 16 damage minus soak, then, I think, since I forgot a success on the attack. (3 Strength + 12 damage + the success I forgot, in case he has some weird way to block part of that.) What's the soak?

Vance: 16.

Svetlana: OK, then just the overwhelming value of 4. Minus 2. So 2 dice, with 1s subtracting successes. 3 successes.

Svetlana: (Unless 10s don't double on this.)

  • Svetlana frantically pages around the book.

Vance: 10s do double on withering damage.

Svetlana: 3 withering!

Zanara: What’s his soak?

Vance: 16.

Zanara: Oh! Wow.

Zanara: Uh, 1!

Vance: He is crashed.

Zanara: Woo!

Camena: Crash Bandi-woot!

Zanara: Oh wait, no, hold up.

Zanara: Overwhelming!

Zanara: …okay, yeah, still just 1.

Vance: Since you both attacked simultaneously, I figure you split the Initiative Break and get 3 points on top of the Initiative from damage.

  • Svetlana climbs up to 15 initiative.

Vance: Emeraude's turn!

Zanara: Ten~

Vance: (Did you add the 1 for hitting?)

Zanara: Yes!

Icaria: Emeraude continues her scholarly appearance while defending me.

Svetlana: (The more you know!)

Vance: Camena and the deathknight now act on the same tick.

Vance: Will there be a clash?

Vance: Well, no.

Camena: Does he look like he's gunning for me?

Vance: He is making a withering attack against Svetlana, backed by Perfect Strike Discipline, Excellent Strike, and Fire and Stones Strike

Camena: "I said not her," Camena says, a thin trace of blood darkening her sleeves. It's a steady motion as she slips a strange pellet into the Grand Leviathan and takes aim.

Vance: (One point.)

Camena: (But not actually Aim.)

Camena: 14 Successes on the attack, even after the flurry penalties.

Vance: Hit!

Svetlana: If all goes well, he will in fact stab right through Bokuro… 's robes, shortly before they cave in on themselves to reveal he's no longer wearing them, but is instead in the purple skirt and top he was wearing underneath.

Vance: One point stunt!

  • Svetlana decides on her evasion, one moment.

Camena: Hit by how much, yo?

Vance: 8.

Vance: 16 soak.

Camena: A disappointing 5.

Vance: Is that with 1s subtracting successes?

  • Svetlana goes for 13 Evasion, spending 4m for +2 and 10i for +5 and +2 to her cap.

Vance: Wait, no, Bulwark Stance expires on his turn.

Vance: Uh… he cannot hit Evasion 13.

Vance: So, end of the round, everyone gains 5 motes.

Vance: It is at this point that a stranger comes charging into the library. Serestala, want to describe her?

Camena: Surprisingly, no 1's.

Serestala: The stranger is an impressive physical specimen a scarred woman with short hair. In theater this is usually the time when the chorus begins humming the catchy theme of the brave hero, but this is real life and there are no wandering choruses willing to take up her tune. "Satrap Bokuro, I've come here to rescue you at last!"

Vance: Roll Join Battle with a one-point stunt (+2 dice).

Serestala: 7 successes, so 10 initiative.

Vance: So, Svetlana is up first this round.

Svetlana: Bokuro pales, instantly assuming that this means that the enemy is going to pull out a power-up and then more reinforcements are going to show up and then the enemy is going to get stronger and so forth until finally Gaia and Mask of Winters are duking it out in his library by that picture of his great-uncle that his great-aunt absolutely refuses to let him set on fire because it would be improper.

Icaria: How heroic! Icaria thinks. Or, wait.

Icaria: Whose side is this hero on, again?

Icaria: Still, their commitment to drama is exceptional.

Serestala: Bokuro's side! Once she figures out who this Bokuro fellow is, she is on his side. Probably.

Svetlana: Nevertheless, Bokuro rallies. "About time!" he says, ripping his robe away from the scythe and attempting to scramble over the bookcase again, possibly so he can get fully dressed again. In the moment that the robe is blocking the deathknight's vision the red jade dragon fang homes in on the fires around his form like a child to its mother's arms.

Svetlana: (Thrown + Disengage again.)

Vance: One-point stunt on both,

Svetlana: The boomerang apparently gently hugs the deathknight before returning, with two successes, but that's an 8 success disengage.

Vance: Svetlana successfully disengages to short range.

Vance: Next up, Zanara and Serestala, on the same tick.

Vance: Serestala is at short range from the deathknight, so you can use your reflexive movement to get to close if you want

Svetlana: (Oh, for the record, Shadow Dancer Method on the disengage, so no lost initiative. This is my default, pretty much.)

Vance: (Gotcha.)

Zanara: (Am I able to close to Short Range and then shoot without taking an Aim action?)

Vance: Yes, you can.

Zanara: Wait what? No time to think about it—Zanara presses on, drawing another arrow and letting fly without missing a step.

Vance: One-point stunt.

Svetlana: (Conversely, for the record I shouldn't have gone first, because I spent 10 initiative on the dodge. My apologies. If it winds up mattering because he uses an initiative-jumping charm reset my position.)

Vance: (No worries; I don't think it'll matter.)

Vance: (So you're at 5?)

Svetlana: (Yeah.)

Zanara: 7 successes, three 1s, he has a -1 to Defense from Wise Arrow again.

Vance: Hit!

Vance: …by 0.

Icaria: Ugh, any minute now this guy is going to crack open like an egg and SAFER-Sephiroth is going to pop out.

Serestala: The glowing guy (note: ask about the glowing thing later) definitely had a scythe with the Satrap's clothing on it that seems like a good person to start with. Serestala leaps into action and gives a mighty battle roar as her fists begin to glow with orange energy.

Vance: Take a one-point stunt on your attack (+2 dice).

Zanara: Two!

Zanara: On my damage, I mean.

Vance: Is that a decisive attack?

Zanara: No, still just withering.

Vance: Zanara's arrow plunks into the deathknight's one arm. He doesn't seem to feel it.

Serestala: 7 successes, one 1.

Vance: Hit!

Vance: Withering or decisive?

Serestala: Withering.

Vance: You hit by 1, and he has 16 soak.

Vance: Every 1 on the damage roll will subtract a success because of magic he's using.

Serestala: 2 successes and no 1s.

Vance: His gut may be covered in soulsteel skin, but you still punch it good.

Vance: (and just to quickly covering gaining Initiative, you get 1 for landing the attack, and then an amount equal to your damage, for a total of +3 here)

Vance: Icaria's turn!

Icaria: I'll spend five peripheral motes to pump my chanting.

Icaria: Seven! Now we're cooking with butterflies.

Vance: …and next is Emeraude's turn.

Icaria: Nope, I'm ready to cast!

Icaria: With him just having taken a punch to the gut, I can aim butterflies at his neckular regions.

Vance: Hmm. You can definitely aim it to not hit Serestala, but I wonder if anyone else would be caught in it…

Vance: No one important, I guess. Just a whole bunch of books.

Icaria: Oh, those things. God.

Svetlana: I can't believe your butterflies aren't made of inked words in the first place.

Icaria: Ten motes, 20 dice…

Icaria: Twelve successes.

Vance: Hit by 4.

Vance: 1s will subtract 10s on damage.

Icaria: So, six levels of damage. It doesn't roll dice.

Vance: Ah!

Vance: The butterflies screech as their razor-sharp wings collide with the deathknight's soulsteel skin—and where they strike flesh, they gouge deep red streaks. He has taken massive damage—any normal man would be dead where he stands—but he does not seem to have even broken a sweat.

Vance: Also a bunch of books get torn up.

Icaria: I've never been so happy to destroy a book.

Vance: Now Emeraude's turn.

Icaria: Defending Other doesn't stop from happening.

Vance: The deathknight attempts to break free of Serestala, lunging at Svetlana with his scythe.

Vance: Serestala, roll Dexterity + Athletics to oppose his disengage.

Serestala: 4 successes.

Vance: He manages to outmaneuver Serestala with some fancy footwork

Vance: He's now making a withering attack against Svetlana, backed with Excellent Strike and Fire and Stones Strike.

Svetlana: I believe I reflexively fade back a further range band away, disappearing over another shelf as he gets there, but I don't know if I roll for it.

Svetlana: Or does it not count because it's on the same turn rather than the next turn?

Vance: …no, you're correct.

Vance: disengaging is more effective when the ST forgets you did it!

Vance: He also takes some damage from being on fire.

Svetlana: I probably would have reminded you but I got a phone call, so Sivana was clearly helping out.

Vance: End of the round, everyone gains 5 motes.

Vance: First up is Zanara and Serestala again.

Camena: Wait.

Camena: Did I act that round?

Vance: …huh.

Vance: I don't think you did.

Vance: Go ahead and act now, and remind me what your current Initiative is?

Camena: Right now it's 8.

  • Vance done goofed.

Svetlana: (Cousin, you should act in every round! That is the recommendation of the War Academy.)

Camena: Camena reloads, avoiding the storm of paper and glass as Icaria does The Sorcery. She wonders momentarily if she should learn that spell, marveling at it for only a moment, then sights down her target and fires. "Not everything deserves remaking the world."

Vance: Now Zanara and Serestala?

Camena: I, uhm…

Camena: …need to roll to attack.

Vance: Oh, attacking!

Vance: I thought you were just reloading!

Vance: I missed the part where you, uh, fired.

Vance: One-point stunt.

Camena: 10 successes.

Vance: Hit by 4.

Camena: 1 success after 1's, leaving me at 9 Initiative.

Vance: 1s no longer subtract.

Vance: His Bulwark Stance has run out.

Camena: Oh! Then 4.

Camena: And I'm at 12.

Vance: 13.

Vance: You get 1 for hitting.

Vance: Which means at the top of the round, we now have Camena, Zanara, and Serestala.

Vance: You have 39 Initiative spread between the three of you. :open_mouth:

Icaria: For the record, how much damage have we currently done to this guy?

Vance: 12.

Icaria: That's a lot, although you could get that many with enough good Ox-Bodies.

Vance: He's also using Iron Skin Concentration.

Icaria: Or, uh, Deathly Yeddim-Body or whatever.

Vance: Yeah.

Vance: Spooky Skeleton Meditation

Icaria: Body By Phantom Musk Ox.

  • Icaria notes his +5 mote gain for the round.

Icaria: I guess I'm at bonfire, then.

Vance: Oh! Shiny.

Serestala: “Wait, where are you going?” Serestala seems surprised that somebody has decided to run from her instead of continuing to let each other bash each other senseless. She lunges forward ignoring the space between herself and the assassin. Her hand shoots out faster than the eye can follow smashing a line of shredded book into the assassin's body followed by another and another the craven / avoid / the lion’s roar / victory comes as simple as / baste gently and turn Serestala turns away and crosses her arms trying to hide the final line of the poem she was attempting to smash into his skull instead of the cook book.

Vance: Luckily it's hard to make out anima colors through a stained glass manse.

Vance: Take a three point stunt! (+2 dice, +2 successes, gain 1 Willpower)

Icaria: Bluh, my 'start the battle by casting a spell and then start hitting things' tactic has a flaw.

Icaria: Namely, that it tends to lead to the opponent being crashed while I'm not really in a good position for a decisive.

Svetlana: (Yeah, I'm not really sure what you're supposed to do when all the opponents are heavily crashed but your initiative isn't high enough to make a decisive attack meaningful.)

Vance: (Wither to build up and go decisive next round seems to be the best approach.)

Vance: (Based on y'all… doing that.)

Camena: It's obvious, isn't it? Camena, dancing towards the emissary, Grand Leviathan in hand? That's some basic shit right there. But just as she seems to take aim… she swings the firewand to her side, letting it catch by the thin leather strap that tethers it to her. She's all momentum now, and makes two swift strikes: One, a kick to the creature's knees and then a stinging strike to its hand, aiming to loosen its grasp on the scythe.

Vance: Take a two-point stunt.

Camena: It's two actions: First is a Withering (13 successes on the to-hit), then Iron-Wolf Grasp to disarm.

Serestala: (So, uh, this is 6 attacks and I'm spending 15m, 1 wp on it.)

Camena: o-o

Vance:

Vance: So, the withering hits by 7.

  • Camena backs away from the Dawn.

Icaria: Oh, so the rule against continuous withering doesn't apply if the person doing it is short on Initiative themselves?

Svetlana: (Oh, sure, but in theory you're not supposed to infinitely wither someone who isn't looking to come out of being withered. Except that hitting them pointlessly is weird too.)

Vance: It's only if a crashed enemy's a lost cause that they get cut off.

Vance: A crashed boss is basically always gonna be good.

Vance: He is gonna bring Bulwark Stance back up, and use Durability of Oak Meditation to lower everyone's damage by -2.

Camena: No help on the withering. Roll to hit for Disarm is… 5?

Vance: That misses.

Serestala: 9, 4, 7, 5, 0, and 1 for hit with Bulwark Stance penalties.

Camena: No help from onslaught?

Vance: Bulwark Stance cancels onslaught!

Camena: >.<

Serestala: Bulwark eats my onslaught dependency unfortunately.

Vance: Bulwark doesn't subtract from the attack rolls—just damage.

Serestala: Oh.

Camena: Lost 4 initiative, then.

Serestala: Then the fifth attack is 2 successes then which I don't think is going to do it.

Vance: (Isn't it just 2 initiative lost for missing?)

Vance: In that case, you hit him twice.

Camena: (Cost of the Charm.)

Vance: Ah.

Vance: …and lose 2 Initiative for missing. >.>

Camena: (Done with this.)

Icaria: This seems like a job for a distract gambit or something.

Serestala: 6 lethal damage on the first and 3 lethal on the second.

Vance: Even underneath his armored skin, Serestala can hear the ribs cracking as she hammers her fists down again and again on the deathknight, pummeling him into submission, striking so fast the flames don't even burn her.

Vance: The deathknight is not looking too good.

Zanara: He’s still up?

Vance: Yes, but heavily injured.

Serestala: Serestala is very glowy at the moment. Sort of obnoxiously so.

Svetlana: What kind of glowy?

Svetlana: Could this be… Solar glowy?

Zanara: Zanara is also burning with the sun’s very brilliance, standing by with an arrow nocked and drawn. Her anima pulses with the drumbeat of an army marching to war, thrumming in time with her heartbeat. “You are no match for us,” she says cooly. “Surrender.”

Svetlana: (Or is it more like some sort of Charm that makes you glow for random reasons?)

Vance: Make a Presence roll?

Vance: One-point stunt.

Icaria: Zanara never lets us kill anybody.

Zanara: Seven!

Vance: "I… believe you're right, Lawgiver," the deathknight pants. He lets the butt of his scythe rest on the ground, propping his weight up against it, and idly swats at the flames surrounding him.

Zanara: (yessssss)

Vance: "But I don't understand—why would you have your bodyguards attack me, Bokuro, if you were going to spare my life?"

Svetlana: "In fairness," Bokuro says, peeking around the shelf, "you drew first."

Serestala: "Wait, so none of the rest of you were trying to kill Bokuro?" Serestala looks over the rest of the strange group. She sound a little disappointed that it's over already.

Icaria: "I'm still waiting for someone to explain who I am or am not trying to kill," sulks Icaria, who spent the entire battle chanting a spell that mostly broke scenery.

Svetlana: "Let's nobody get too crazy and kill Bokuro," Bokuro agrees. "Let's just listen to the nice glowy lady while she sets out the terms of the forces of death's surrender."

Svetlana: "Either nice glowy lady. The one with the bow. The other one can introduce herself to everyone."

Vance: "Well, I would not want to be rude in my defeat. Chosen of the Sun, my title is The Prophet Hanged On Samsara's Gallows. I speak on behalf of Thorns, and of the ancestor spirits of Nadir."

Icaria: Icaria studies the other glowy lady.

Icaria: He forgets to sulk and his face lights up as he leaps to a delightful conclusion.

Serestala: Forces of death… A grin begins to form on the glowing woman's face she knew she'd beat Death one of these days. "I'm Serestala." That doesn't explain much of anything.

Camena: (All I wanna do / is see you turn into / a glowy lady / a glowy lady )

Icaria: "She's our circle's Dawn," Icaria explains.

Icaria: "Sent by destiny!"

Icaria: "Not the bad destiny as run by Sivana."

Icaria: "The good destiny as set down by the laws of drama."

Camena: "Sivana," Camena sighs, wistfully. "Remember the good old days when the worst thing we had to worry about was how many of his offices I was going to burn down?"

Camena: "Four, by the way."

Svetlana: Bokuro examines Serestala. He turns to look at the Prophet Hanged on Samsara's Gallows. "Why doesn't your name end in a vowel?" he asks.

Camena: "I was mentally prepared to immolate at least three more after the first."

Zanara: “…ah,” Zanara says, nodding. That explains that. She turns back to The Prophet Hanged on Samsara’s Gallows. “I am Zanara, and it is my policy never to kill when it is unnecessary. I believe that anyone may turn from the path of wickedness and injustice. Such as, for example, leading the dead against the living."

Vance: "As a diplomat, I prefer consonance."

Serestala: How much lethal damage do we take from that pun?

Vance: "Including consonance between the living and the dead. There is no need to turn them against each other—the people and their ancestors should live in peace."

Icaria: Don't joke; he's an Abyssal.

Icaria: "Is this the kind of peace where you murder lots and lots of people to make a gate between the living and the dead?"

Icaria: "Because we totally noticed that."

Svetlana: Bokuro looks a little embarrassed.

Vance: "Your Satrap is the one who carried out the murders."

Vance: "If you find fault in his policy, question him."

Icaria: "He's not a moral agent."

Icaria: "I mean, seriously, let me show you his poetry."

Svetlana: Bokuro rubs at the back of his head awkwardly.

Zanara: “At the bidding of Thorns,” Zanara says. “Don’t split hairs.”

Svetlana: Bokuro stops rubbing at the back of his head lest he split hairs.

Vance: "I laid out the broad scheme of how he could open a shadowland. His choice of methods is his own."

Serestala: "Well, I did get told to come here to protect the Satrap so I guess that destiny thing is true. I don't know much about the rest though."

Icaria: "This is not really a great way to convince me that you're a trustworthy ally or somebody we ought to let live."

Camena: "Ugh. Semantics. I think I preferred it when I was getting cut. Which, by the way, hurts like a—"

Icaria: "It's all good," Icaria assures her, breezily. "I'll fill you in later."

Icaria: "Oh, but first I have to fill Camena with medicine!"

Vance: "Since the four of you are the ones who could smite me where I stand, I suppose I should explain, instead of simply laying the blame on your boss."

Camena: There's no translation for the next word from whatever language Camena stole it from.

Icaria: "Yes, yes, do go on."

Svetlana: "I may have presented it to the nice glowy lady as more of a Thorns plan than it was," Bokuro admits casually. "So if you're totally fine with no more murders whatsoever, and an era of peace, and heavy restrictions on the shadowland lest it cause any harm to anyone, then I suppose it may be my bad."

Icaria: Icaria produces medicines, medicines~

Icaria: They only sting somewhat~

Camena: Camena smiles at Icaria, knowing how he must love some actual exposition.

Icaria: Wound-Mending Care Technique! (and, the power of listening)

Vance: "My goal, and Bokuro's goals, has been to create an embassy of Thorns on Tourmaline—an embassy of both the living and the dead."

Icaria: Five successes, so some rest and lots of stinging will put everything right by the end of the day.

Camena: (Which corrupted caste mark is this dude sporting?)

Zanara: (oh, heck, I forgot about that entirely)

Vance: "Satrap Bokuro sees a chance to profit from trade with Thorns and find a powerful ally in this time of instability for the Realm. My master sees a chance to overturn Immaculate bans on the ancestor cult and strengthen his own diplomatic connections."

Vance: It's a Dusk mark.

Svetlana: Bokuro slips up to Serestala as he listens and murmurs to her, "Fair warning: you may not wish to be my bodyguard at this time. You may even feel extremely betrayed shortly if you do so. But pay attention to that lady with the bow, she's got her head screwed on right."

Zanara: “Thorns does not bring stability. Even I know that,” Zanara says. “It brings only destruction and enslavement to the Mask of Winters in its wake. You would do well to abandon your master now. His days are numbered.”

Icaria: Yeah, Icaria isn't really feelin' it, either.

Vance: "Not an argument I disagree with. His decisions…are not the ones I would make. But abandoning him is no simple matter."

Icaria: Oh, dear.

Svetlana: "Why not?" Bokuro asks, curiously.

Icaria: Zanara finally found her Bad Boy Struggling To Break Free From The Darkness.

Icaria: Her secret weakness.

Zanara: (haha)

Camena: "Hmmm. I wonder if I could steal you?" Camena wonders, not expecting an answer. But there's a thought in her mind, now. That's never good.

Serestala: "So that's what I'm supposed to do!" Serestala yells. Sparing and then liberating the horrible servant of something worse did sound heroic.

Svetlana: Bokuro winces and lifts his hands towards his ears.

Vance: "I owe the Mask of Winters my life. There was a fire. He saved me, and restored my body," he says, indicating his soulsteel body. "It would be ingratitude beyond ingratitude to abandon him now. And… simply put, it would be complicated."

Zanara: “I understand how you feel better than you know,” Zanara says quietly. “But complicated is not impossible.”

Svetlana: "True, true, mm," Bokuro hums. "Ingratitude is a troubling thing."

Svetlana: Bokuro comes to a sudden revelation and lifts a finger. "You could abandon him only after he has killed at least two other people using fire or fire-like means!"

Icaria: "It's a terrible idea, but whatever," says Icaria, looking for his surgical needles. "Zanara's the bureau's chief officer in charge of redemptions."

Icaria: "Maybe she can start by having this guy help me bury some bodies."

Vance: "While I may disagree on matters of policy, that does not mean I am ready to abandon him. A thing may be wise, but not correct."

Svetlana: Bokuro studies his finger and then lifts another, to represent the two. Then, uncertain, he lowers it again. "If you're loyal to that monster then get the eff out of Tourmaline," he says.

Svetlana: Bokuro looks up and smiles brightly.

Vance: "Who do you think you've been negotiating with all this time?"

Vance: Prophet really is genuinely confused by Bokuro.

Svetlana: "Her," Bokuro says, and glances at Zanara.

Icaria: "This is starting to look pointless," says Icaria.

Svetlana: "Look," Bokuro says. "She doesn't want to kill you. Fine. You're tormented and torn in your loyalties. Fine. I don't think I have a right to say that you should change your ways. But if you're going to keep serving him, get. out. of. my. satrapy."

Vance: "When we first met, I told you who my master was. You did not think him a monster then."

Icaria: "This person has nothing we want, and isn't actually willing to change his ways, and I don't see why we should send him back to his master in working order."

Vance: "If this has changed…well, I would certainly rather depart here peacefully, and with my life. But I do not understand what has changed your mind."

Zanara: I’d like to Read Intentions this fella.

Vance: Roll it.

Svetlana: "Do I have to make an erotic poem about it? Because I will make an erotic poem about it. And then I will send it to your lord. You will feature prominently."

Vance: "…he's not the sexy kind of ghost king. Please don't."

Zanara: Seven.

Vance: That does it.

Vance: Do you want to figure out his angle, or try for an Intimacy?

Zanara: Intimacy, mostly, I think we’ve got a pretty good feel for what his deal is.

Zanara: Beating the tar out of people in a fight tends to make them pretty straightforward.

Vance: What kind of Intimacy?

Svetlana: "I saw the people that all this was hurting," Bokuro says. "I went down into the tunnels with Zanara there and… we saw. OK? And suddenly it didn't matter any more. Things like ingratitude. Things like trade. Do you understand me?"

Zanara: He’s clearly conflicted about this whole Serving The Mask of Winters thing, so I’d like to puzzle out why, if I can.

Vance: Prophet has a Defining Principle: The dead are meant to be the revered guardians and protectors of their descendants.

Vance: It appears this is contrary to his master's expectations of him.

Zanara: Iiiinteresting.

Vance: You pick up on this from his sincerity in discussing the Underworld embassy plan.

Svetlana: "The days of darkness are ending," Bokuro says. "The days when things have to be like this. They are ending. People don't have to go on like this, day after day, hurting. In pain. Sick. Enslaved. We can stop it."

Icaria: Icaria reduces his sorcerous defcon level from 9 to 7.

Vance: "I…agree?"

Vance: "I want the people to be together with their ancestors. I think that will make the world better. That it will stop suffering."Ma

Camena: "Metaphorically, literally, or morbidly?"

Vance: "Literally. Did you have a mother, to care for you when you were young and frightened? Such a wonderful solace. There are many mothers among the dead, and they wish to care for their descendants."

Svetlana: "Doesn't matter," Bokuro says. "Means are the ends. You can't get there by doing things like Thorns."

Vance: "The events of Thorns may not be as you have heard. Many false rumors are circulated, by the Mask's foes as well as his allies."

Vance: "I was there the day it began. Perhaps I can explain the truth."

Camena: "Just to clarify: Being with mom means ghost-mom and living-me, right? Not ghost-mom and ghost-me ghosting around town."

Vance: "Correct. The beauty of the shadowlands—the living and the dead may mingle."

Svetlana: Bokuro eyes him thoughtfully. "That's not necessary," he says. "You only have to agree that if it was like the rumors, you'd never be associated with him despite what you've said before. That's enough to prove that you're lying, deceived, or correct."

Svetlana: "You could even swear to it, I suppose," Bokuro says brightly.

Vance: "I think the terms of an oath would need to be a little less ambiguous than that. But I'm not inherently opposed to the notion."

Svetlana: "Un," Bokuro agrees. "Um. Maybe, 'if you know, or ever discover, that the invasion of Thorns caused horrible suffering to thousands of people who didn't earn it through inflicting suffering themselves, and killed many many people who did not want to die, and even ten of them did not find happy reconciliation with their ancestors afterwards, you'll repudiate Mask of Winters.'"

Vance: "Killing people who did not want to die is, in the vast majority of cases, an oxymoron."

Svetlana: Bokuro shrugs. "After the raksha and the Sidereal and the Lawgiver I hesitate to hear a persuasive story before the oath is made, so I'm trying to cover possible justifications in advance."

Vance: "But, very well. I swear on the tombs of the true gods that, should I find that my master caused horrible suffering beyond that deserved by those who died, and find ten ghosts who did not find peace among their ancestors, I will renounce my loyalties."

Camena: Camena's caste mark flares briefly, her eyes full of light as she speaks with a voice that echoes with two others, one harsh; the other sweet and cadent: "So it is writ in the Firmament."

Vance: "Hmm. It is different, when one of you binds a vow."

Icaria: And so yet another villain escapes me unbrushed.

Camena: "If it's any consolation, my throat feels rather sore now."

Svetlana: Bokuro nods. "All right," he says, slumping a little. "Tell me about it, then?"

Svetlana: "I mean, hell, the shadowland's already there, why not get persuaded that Thorns was actually just a big party? woohoo trade contacts."

Svetlana: "Perhaps one of us is the one that can finally see the scared little kid behind the Mask of Winters who just wants everything to be OK."

Vance: "The Old Tyrant of Thorns was not so amenable. He butchered those who went into the shadows to worship their ancestors, subjected his people to want and famine to enrich himself, sent their sons to die in his wars. I will not say that we did not siege Thorns, or that the horrors of every siege attended it. But it was not a battle fought without a just cause."

Vance: "The Mask of Winters may be a ghost, but he is a better king than many of the living. Even though I may disagree with him, I have no doubt that he is kinder to his subjects, living and dead, than his predecessor ever was."

Vance: "I was there. I fought. But my scythe did not touch any unarmed man or woman, nor any child, and neither did any of my soldiers. Even in death there is decency."

Svetlana: Bokuro looks down.

Svetlana: "In-joke," Bokuro says. "Some of you will get it. The means are the ends, and here I am talking to the personification of justified death."

Svetlana: "Honestly, I don't think you can save anything that way," Bokuro admits. "But it's not up to me. I'm not the light come down to earth. I'm just a really bad poet. Zanara? We OK with means like that? Guys like that?"

Zanara: “As I said, I believe the path to righteousness under Heaven’s auspices is open to all,” Zanara says. “We have fought once, and Heaven has prevailed. Consider this a sign, if you are one to look for such. Our door will always be open to you, should you choose to find your own path.”

Vance: "Thank you, Chosen of the Unconquered. I hope that we do meet again."

Vance: "I will inform my master that the plan on Tourmaline is canceled."

Vance: "…crap, that sounded menacing. That wasn't supposed to sound menacing. Sorry. That's been happening, lately."

Zanara: “And I hope that if we do meet again, it is not under arms,” Zanara says. She leaves the rest unspoken — no doubt he’ll understand.

Vance: "I'll let him know there are issues that make it not an ideal embassy site so we should look somewhere else."

Icaria: "What was all that stuff about degrading souls, incidentally?"

Vance: "Shadowland poppies. When you smoke them within a shadowland, it wears down the boundaries of the soul—it opens you up to the voice of your ancestors, and the weird things in the darkness. It is a spiritual matter, for us, the degradation of the soul. I'm not sure I could explain the theology—just that it brings the living and the dead closer together."

Vance: "If you leave the shadowland open, I expect you'll see a rise in shamans and wise women. No real danger beyond that."

Icaria: I attempt to see the truth of this.

Icaria: Hopefully someone competent does so also.

Icaria: Three successes, which is not actually great but better than I expected.

Vance: With his wound penalties, that's enough

Vance: So I guess you want to know…whether he's being forthright about the whole thing, or about a particular subsection of it?

Svetlana: Huh, I didn't know they applied to Guile, but that's actually quite logical.

Icaria: General forthrightness will do.

Vance: He's trying to give you an honest explanation, and is mildly frustrated he can't explain better.

Vance: "Why do I only have Occult 1," he asks.

Icaria: I use my powers to explain it back to him, better.

Icaria: For I am not merely a master occultist, but a novelist!

Icaria: Let's play Introduce a Fact!

Svetlana: "I wept that I had no shoes," mutters Bokuroccult0.

Vance: Hmm

Vance: I'm not sure that Icaria would have enough of a basis of knowledge to be able to introduce this fact.

Vance: What's your counter-argument?

Icaria: It's easy to turn words around to make them make more sense in my head voice.

Vance: Hmm.

Vance: Okay.

Icaria: You can just introduce a difficulty or something.

Icaria: And then, I can add more specialties to my Lore, which I need to make a habit of adding to.

Vance: But the further away your fact gets from something that could be extrapolated from what he's said and Icaria's seen so far, the higher the difficulty will get.

Vance: What do you want to introduce?

Icaria: What he means is that the poppies, pregnant with the scent of death (and also heroin) break down the boundaries of the self, opening the soul to ecstatic, death-like experience.

Icaria: Which is basically what he said.

Svetlana: ("Fact: shadowland poppies are actually the condensed spittle of shadowlions who are caught by surprise by bad puns.")

Icaria: It's just a nicer way to say it.

Vance: That is a pretty reasonable extrapolation.

Vance: Difficulty 2!

Icaria: A mere eight.

Vance: Okay.

Icaria: "Oh, so what you mean is that these poppies, pregnant with the musk of death (and also heroin) break down the boundaries of the self, opening the soul to ecstatic experience, like unto death."

Vance: Want to treat your threshold successes as a seduction roll?

Icaria: Absolutely not.

Icaria: This person is completely unsuitable for a number of reasons.

Icaria: First, you have refused to confirm that he is hot even after I rolled nine successes.

Vance: "Exactly! The degradation of the soul, the destruction of the self—that's what frees you from the prison of your mind and body, and lets you experience transcendence."

Icaria: Second, he's evil.

Vance: I described him earlier, he's incredibly hot.

Serestala: Soul Steel Bishounen

Vance: He's a buff goth in lipstick.

Icaria: "Wow, you are a really terrible salesman for a diplomat," says Icaria, smiling, pleasantly. Well, it's like a smile.

Icaria: Metal men are unhygenic.

Svetlana: "I actually already destroyed myself," Bokuro admits.

Zanara: “Any enlightenment you can smoke is no enlightenment at all,” Zanara says, her disgust barely veiled. Nah, scratch that, not veiled at all.

Svetlana: "It was a little freeing."

Vance: "I'm really not meant to be a diplomat. My talent is battle; my passion is art. I think the Mask of Winters just thought I would be Bokuro's type."

Vance: "At least, compared to the rest of my circle."

Svetlana: Bokuro buffs his fingers on his somewhat torn robe. "But that's just my incredible absence-of-self enlightenment at work."

Svetlana: "It's only when I am no longer Cynis Bokuro that I feel I can really touch the soul of poetry."

Vance: At this point, Svetlana's dropped enough hints that Prophet's going to read her intentions to try and figure out if she's attempting to impersonate Bokuro

Svetlana: Svetlana knows she's pushing it, so she's particularly not there at all behind their eyes when the Prophet looks her way. (Raises Guile to 5 with motes.)

Vance: He gives you a quizzical look, but ultimately shakes his head, dismissing his suspicions

Svetlana: "I suppose we're not here to discuss my awesomeness," Bokuro admits, abashed by the look.

Vance: Unless anyone has anything further to say, Prophet's gonna Tuxedo Mask his way out of here.

Zanara: Zanara will just give him the usual “You have a righteous heart, let that be your compass, blah blah,” speech she usually gives.

Zanara: Wish him well, the works.

Vance: Roll to instill him.

Camena: Aaaaaart.

Zanara: Six!

Camena: Camena gives him a wink as he leaves.

Vance: He forms a Minor Principle of doing right by Zanara.

Zanara: Awww :3

Serestala: Serestala scratches the back of her head and watches the would-be assassin go. This has been a very confusing day.

Svetlana: Bokuro glances at Serestala. "I killed Bokuro earlier, by the way."

Svetlana: (Once the Abyssal is gone.)

Serestala: "Oh. That would…" she considers this. "No, I'm still confused."

Zanara: “You’ll get used to it,” Zanara says. “Once or twice, it took me a moment to realize the stranger I was talking to was part of my circle.”

Svetlana: "Then I was going to attack the Prophet because he was part of the wicked scheme to murder a bunch of people and make a shadowland," Bokuro adds. "But he didn't like that, so we got into a fight. The rest was as you saw."

Icaria: "All pretty much by the book," agrees Icaria, distractedly.

Vance: (Sorcerous motes get!)

Svetlana: "We're not extremely good at, a, finding crimes that are actually as bad as they seem, b, killing people, or c, having a clear sense of what we want out of the conversation. However we're pretty good at other stuff, like setting things on fire and bringing hope to people. I hope you decide to hang out with us!"

Icaria: Oh, right; I wasn't even trying to do that.

Icaria: What an excellent ritual!

Serestala: "Oh." Serestala considers the false Bokuro's summation of the group's talents did she show up on the wrong day under the wrong star? "Yeah, okay."

Zanara: “You’re among friends,” Zanara says, “and we are grateful for your aid.”

Icaria: "I had better explain our complex backstory."

Icaria: "Once, long ago, I was popped out of a book in a library, far away."

Icaria: "But that was a long time ago and frankly I think the librarians made that up."

Icaria: "So, anyway, I showed up at Gloam and the magistrate helped me fight a pig."

Icaria: "But then the pig led us to some murders, only when we got arrested we forgot about them."

Icaria: "But the majordomo said he'd let us off being arrested if he could frame us for murdering the satrap."

Icaria: "But instead, we decided to kidnap the satrap, which was pretty clever."

Svetlana: "Magistrates are very scatterbrained," Bokuro confides. "And they like to kidnap satraps quite a lot."

Serestala: Serestala's eyes are starting to glaze over.

Icaria: "Only, that didn't work, so while she was distracted, we robbed her house, and then got lost in the forest inside her bedroom."

Zanara: “This is where I came in,” Zanara says. “I was trying to kill the Satrap of Gloam for entirely different reasons.

Icaria: "Yes, destiny brought Zanara in there, thank you for reminding me."

Icaria: "Anyway, the satrap and her wife appeared to murder us, only, Zanara shot them."

Icaria: "And now they're our friends, apparently."

Icaria: "So we went to see what was making everybody crazy in the spooky tomb, and it turns out it was just a hot guy. Yeah, we know how that is, right?"

Serestala: "Right."

Icaria: "So then we have to do the satrap a favor for some reason, and she wants us to save her baby from the wicked sorceress."

Icaria: "But it turned out the sorceress was just worried about people not liking her, so she hid in a castle of demons because the baby was the victim of racial prejudice."

Icaria: "So we carried the baby off on a boat to Tourmaline, where she could use magic to make it more popular at school."

Icaria: "Oh, and I made a really dumb-sounding monster by accident, but let's forget all about that."

Icaria: "Oh, and then we met Bokuro, and decided he was evil, so a terrible bone naga killed him."

Icaria: "And then you came!"

Icaria: "And I'm Icaria."

Svetlana: "There was that whole island in the middle with slaves we're still in the middle of freeing," Svetlana—it can't be Bokuro, even though it looks like Bokuro and is standing where he was, the whole demeanor is different—adds. "We shouldn't forget about them."

Serestala: "I'm Serestala. I think I came here on the wrong day."

Zanara: “No, no, you were most assuredly directed here by Heaven itself,” Zanara says.

Vance: This is true.

Svetlana: "Um," Svetlana says. "But if she was sent here to protect Cynis Bokuro."

Serestala: "An old man selling noodles actually." She liked noodles; they were uncomplicated, unlike this entire situation.

Zanara: “And here stands Bokuro.”

Svetlana: Svetlana blushes.

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders that, then straightens back into Bokuro. "Fair enough," she agrees.

Svetlana: "I could have died! He was very feisty."

Serestala: "He was and then I came in and… POW!" Serestala mimics the punching motion again.

Svetlana: "Definitely," Bokuro agrees. "I was practically out of juice, so fate could very well have steered you here to take him down a few seconds before he stuck that scythe through me."

Svetlana: "He was very angry because I threw the book at him," Bokuro concludes. "But that's my way. I'm a harsh practitioner of jurisprudence!"

Zanara: “It’s well enough that she is here and we know each other for what we are,” Zanara says.

Icaria: "It's extremely auspicious," agrees Icaria. "Our circle is now perfectly symmetrical."

Icaria: "Rubean will be able to take a vacation."

Svetlana: "Are there asymmetrical circles?"

Icaria: "I mean, we now have a member of all five castes. It's super-harmonious and looks good on the cast page."

Icaria: You can't spell cast page without a caste pg.

Svetlana: "Ah," Bokuro agrees. "Yes. I'm the Night, of course, as you can tell from the fact that I'm not actually here."

Icaria: "You wear many hats."

Svetlana: "That was just the once," Bokuro mutters. "And you said you wouldn't tell anyone."

Icaria: "That moment was too beautiful to belong to me alone."

Serestala: "I don't wear a lot of hats normally," Serestala said. "Just the one really."

Svetlana: "It's good to know yourself," Bokuro says, and nods.

Icaria: "Well, I barely got to fight evil today, and I destroyed a bunch of terrible books," says Icaria. "I have become a mystery to myself."

Icaria: "Anyway, who wants udon?"

Zanara: “I think that’s an excellent idea,” Zanara said, “but we may want to wait just a little while.” Her anima is still roiling and casting foot-long prominences.

Vance: In time, animas subside, and noodles are had.

Vance: Tourmaline udon—delicious!

Icaria: This udon is amazingly powerful. I feel my mind expanding and my mote pool enlarging.

Svetlana: "I'm thinking," Bokuro muses as he eats, "that if we plan to poison them, I can probably get away with shifting a lot of supplies to the rebels and miners. And then we just have to accidentally forget the poisoning part."

Vance: Yes, it's true.

Svetlana: Hahaha.

Vance: As you bond over your udon, you feel the fire of the sun that burns in your soul stoke itself hotter.

Svetlana: In my soul the udon noodle forms an empty circle—the circle that marks a Night!

Serestala: Noodles are uncomplicated and that makes Serestala at ease.

Icaria: "That doesn't sound so hard," agrees Icaria. "I don't poison people all the time, and I don't even know how to cook!"

Icaria: It's quite easy to make a Twilight symbol in my bowl using a soft-boiled egg.

Icaria: Only, then I eat it.

Icaria: The symbolism of this act is obscure, but suddenly, I understand, and become an avatar bearing aspects of heaven and hell inside my mind.

Svetlana: "Dark broth seems welcoming to those who cannot abide the Sun's light," Svetlana muses. "The broth is home to many threats, from thieves and murderers to outcast gods and the walking dead. Some think themselves safe, for the eyes of the Sun are not upon them." She dips a finger into her udon, swirls it about. "They are wrong."

  • Icaria writes it down on his character sheet: Celestial Circle Sorcery.

Svetlana: She takes a gulp. "While some may think their niku udon is unsavory, the Iron Wolves know they are simply doing what must be done."

Vance: Might as well make it official.

Vance: +5 XP, +4 Solar XP

Vance: Essence 3 Unlocked!

Icaria: Hm, what should be my control spell?

Icaria: I'm thinking Travel Without Distance.

Icaria: I bet I could do some fun workings with that if we keep tripping around.

Icaria: Plus there's always binding Octavian and keeping him around.

Svetlana: Does it reach far enough?

Zanara: Connect all the islands of our (eventual) domain with totally rad instant-travel gates!

Serestala: Bind Octavian so we can wrassle!

Zanara: “WHO DARES SUMMON ME, AND FOR WHAT DREAD PURPOSE?” “Yeah we need you to entertain our Dawn.” “WHAT.”

Icaria: The spell doesn't, but a working based on it might.

  • Svetlana completes her long-term incredibly impractical goal!

Svetlana: I may now passably imitate a Sidereal.

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