Monkey Business

The Cally: I'm going to be around but I'm still pretty enh.

Rand: Half a Jenna is better than none!

The Cally: So the guillotine abbess has told me.

Rand: This is a bleak literalism.

  • Rand considers her words of advice.

Rand: "Climb haaaaaalf a mountaaaaaain, cross haaaaalf a streeeeeam."

Rand: "Climb half a raiiiiinbooooow, fall upon your dream."

Lukas: No, it's climb half of every mountain.

Lukas: Whether that means half of each individual mountain or just half of the total mountains available is still ambiguous.

The Cally: Climb the Mountains of the Magical Land of Ev.

Rand: That's how you get into an antiquing contest with the king of the nomes.

Lukas: If you finish the other half, then you've climbed the Ev-rest.

Rand: (I like to pretend that that challenge was supposed to be a contest to find which ornaments didn't belong, and all the Oz contestants failed because they are all super tacky.)

Rand: Like, literally all of them were raised in a barn.

Rand: Some of them were raised in the barn, to be eaten by the people who owned the barn.

The Cally: I think the Tin Woodsman may have been raised outside the barn.

Rand: Either way, his origin story is distinctly farm-adjacent.

The Cally: This is fair.

Lukas: Wizard of Oz is the best argument for revising copyright terms.

The Cally: And will continue to be forever.

Rand: The Wizard might be able to perform successful antiques criticism but he wasn't there in that book.

Rand: Hm, the best candidates for that game are Ozma herself and Tik-Tok.

Rand: Who is an antique.

The Cally: Not being good at that stuff was definitely an oversight in Tik-Tok's programming.

The Cally: Google's later products were better.

Rand: Okay, so, roll call! Which Exalts have we got tonight?

Lukas: Lukas!

The Cally: The Cally!

Tamira: Tamira!

Rand: Okay, so, the sword one, the not-sword one, and the accord one.

Rand: So! Last week, you were recruited by a wicked sorcerer to drive the Harmonious Doctrine League out of the neighborhood in favor of either the Great Animal Society, or yourselves.

Rand: In order to facilitate this, you filled out the paperwork to form your own Seven Directions Society.

Rand: Then, in a sequence of unfortunate events which you are not quite sure about this morning, you may have possibly gotten your asses kicked by some mysterious violet-eyed swordswoman you don't know who it is.

Rand: Tamira has a vague and uncomfortable feeling that her head is off, and keeps checking to be sure.

Tamira: Not the first time she’s had messed-up dreams after an assassination attempt. Probably not the last. Damn, but this was a weird one, though.

Rand: That said, actual physical evidence of this struggle, and witnesses to it, are hard to come by.

The Cally: Yeah, this sounds like a fever dream. I'm not even sure these "animal" things are real as opposed to just being cute alcoholic beverage label mascots.

Rand: Except possibly as some kind of Intimacy on Tamira's part about not ignoring Heaven's clearly-stated warnings, if you like.

Tamira: You know, that makes sense.

Rand: Anyway, it's good that nobody apparently saw that, because now you have to convince a bunch of people to join your martial arts society.

Lukas: Why do we need to do that?

Rand: If you don't have students, it isn't a martial arts society, Lukas.

Rand: It's just you lazing around, drinking coffee and occasionally killing people.

Lukas: Yes, it is.

Lukas: We are a society.

Lukas: We do martial arts.

Lukas: Definitions are involved here.

Rand: How are you going to get people to take you seriously if you don't have any students?

Lukas: By being a collection of Exalts?

The Cally: "It's not a society if it's not adequately stratified, Lukas. It's just a martial arts cuddlepile."

Rand: Furthermore, how are you going to collect crafting XP if you don't have important NPCs to make clothes for?

Lukas: Lukas will grudgingly accept this course of actions, if that's what the others want.

Lukas: He does, however, present some awesome new gi's he's made, featuring a seven-pointed star.

Lukas: All in the new society colors of black and gold.

Lukas: Probably they're also all customized to people's sartorial tastes.

Tamira: Tamira’s, for reference, are either frustratingly or helpfully detailed, depending on your opinion of said tastes.

Rand: Don't think of them as students, Lukas. Think of them as mannequins who just don't know it yet.

Rand: Hm, probably Lukas is stalking people, making them a gi, and then mugging them and stuffing them into their new outfit.

Rand: Then they have to become your student.

The Cally: The Cally ponders, then goes to the big multicolored martial arts strategic map of the neighborhood. Who's interesting on these mean streets that we're trying to tame?

Lukas: I just stab them until they forget they're not in the Seven Directions.

Rand: Yes, let's consult the elephant board!

Rand: You've conveniently mapped all the neighborhood martial arts nodes out using colored stones.

Rand: Presumably the Cally did this with Socialize Charms while I had my back turned.

Lukas: (Anyone who wants to give me an Intimacy can have the most outlandishly awesome clothing they want, at 11 successes.)

The Cally: I'm willing to give you an Intimacy! What's the specific requirement?

Tamira: Yeah, how does this work?

Rand: Elliott has to get someone to take an Intimacy to him as a result of his crafting to get the crafting XP he wants.

Lukas: Nothing. Gratitude, I guess? Should I do these as separate things, or an overall project thing?

Rand: You should do them separately, so you can have more XP, of course.

Tamira: Tamira is hella willing to take that.

Rand: Of course, you'll need to describe the outfits and why they suit the person they're made for in exquisite detail.

The Cally: Done!

Rand: What do you guys even look like?

The Cally: Minor Tie: Lukas™-brand couture (Admiration)

The Cally: The Cally is basically a slovenlier Cat Grant.

The Cally: Er, from Supergirl, not from Lois & Clark.

  • Rand sends the spider to fetch pictorial references.

Lukas: Tamira's gi is trimmed with true cloth-of-gold, and the mon of Cynis is subtly woven into the golden stars of the Seven-Direction Society.

Tamira: Oh, hell yes.

Lukas: Also the sash is a golden dragon.

Lukas: The Cally's is more subdued, but it comes with chunky jewelry.

Lukas: And probably leather panels somewhere.

Tamira: Regrettably I have no go-to actress for — oh hell yes — Tamira’s appearance, but she’s tall, very Southern-looking, long of limb, with short and always product-perfect grey hair.

Rand: Anyway, now that the Cynis warehouse has burned, the two major industries in the area are clothing shops and food vendors.

Rand: The neighborhood has a lot of butchers, bakers, noodle shops, and food carts.

Rand: It's also where a lot of tailoring and dying goes on.

Rand: The tailors, dyers and so forth foot the bills for Great Animal.

Rand: The butchers are behind Harmonious Doctrine.

The Cally: The Cally is now in elegant and martial black and gold but still manages to look like she needs at least three hard drinks or a coffee and a half to really wake up properly.

Lukas: Lukas is 100% just Hale Appleman.

Rand: That guy is way less buff than his name suggests.

Rand: If your name is Hale Appleman you ought to be the healthiest-looking sonofagun around.

Lukas: He's fairly healthy. Also pretty.

Lukas: Lukas is going to pull some strings with the tailors and dyers. You know. His people.

Rand: Hm, so you're going to try for a hostile takeover?

Lukas: Yeah. Or at least, make them a better deal than the Great Animals can.

The Cally: The Cally ponders. Dealing with clothes people is obviously Lukas's job, so… she supposes she'll have to deal with meat people.

Kenara: All right, I'm here, just late.

Rand: Can you actually do that?

Rand: I mean, you're probably tougher than the Great Animals but you'll need numbers if you actually want to serve as the official street gang of the city's tailors.

Lukas: I have Resources and some Influence.

Rand: Unless you plan to actually go out on the streets and fight over cobalt prices personally.

Lukas: Also, a retraining scheme: any Great Animals who want to become Seven Directions can do so, pending an application and probation period.

Kenara: So what's going on?

Rand: The Seven Directions Society is attempting to fulfill Tellus' request to take over this territory from Harmonious Doctrine.

Kenara: Right.

Lukas: Whats Kenara's style? I made everyone gi's.

The Cally: The Cally will go hang out with a butcher and try to organize a meeting to discuss recent events in the neighborhood and their impact on the butcher's bill.

The Cally: (A meeting of butchers and food people, that is, not a meeting of her with that butcher.)

The Cally: (Which would be redundant when talking to them.)

Rand: That seems doable.

Rand: Lukas, I think people have seen enough of your combined prowess to be intrigued by the thought of you trying to replace Great Animal, but you're going to have to actually start operating a martial arts brotherhood before people start taking the idea seriously.

Rand: The Cally winds up meeting with the butcher, the baker, and the noodle maker.

Kenara: Kenara has her magic silk dress that she prefers to wear under most circumstances. Her combat uniform would be something to wear over the dress, I suspect.

Lukas: Hmmm. Lukas is going to arrange a meeting with the head Animal, then, to discuss their notions.

Rand: They're primarily concerned about the loss of jobs and revenue with the collapse of the Cynis warehouse.

Rand: There's less people to eat the food now, with the Cynis workers and slaves migrating/fleeing elsewhere.

  • Lukas makes Kenara a flowing black battle-gown, carefully sewn for both range of motion and style. It's trimmed in gold, with the seven-pointed star of the Seven Directions emblazoned over the left shoulder.

Kenara: Ooh, swanky.

  • Lukas prods chibikonatsu to give her character a Lukas intimacy so he can get Craft XP.

Rand: Hm, you can probably make an appointment with Hau.

The Cally: The Cally is sensitive to their concerns, and will try to help them work out a decent deal despite the one-down position that financial insecurity puts them in for when they switch to supplying Seven Directions affiliates exclusively and arrange for talented family members to take up training in the dojo.

  • Lukas goes with 'perplexed admiration' for Lukas.

Rand: They are surprised to learn that they are doing this!

Rand: But presumably you can explain to them why that is what the future holds.

Kenara: Don't forget that I'm rebuilding the area where the warehouse was, trying to bring in more people.

Rand: That's good. Maybe we can work all these initiatives into a single neighborhood recreation scheme?

Lukas: "Hau, if I may—I respect the Great Animal society. I understand what you're going for here. Really, I do. But here's the thing: I'm about to gentrify this bitch, and if you don't do that right, then things get out of hand. Guards get involved. Paramilitary forces. Private mercenary companies. Rich shits want a refined class of thuggery, and let me just say—there is… just an ungodly amount of silver and acclaim in this for you, if you join your power to ours. Or cede this one little road! There's a knock-on effect, of course. More money here will trickle down into the rest of the Great Animal territory."

The Cally: The Cally explains that in times of conflict exclusivity, and exclusivity with the transformative force, is the move smart businesspeople like us make. Clinging to the past like some kind of doddering Ysyr patriarch never took anyone from Butt Town to Pomade Circle.

Lukas: Vote for that for line of the night.

Kenara: Callipygia.

Rand: Hau considers this offer. While he considers, I will describe the scene like I was meaning to do.

Rand: The Great Animal Society headquarters is a suspiciously muscular building.

Rand: Suspiciously, because, while there's definitely an awful lot of somewhat-clothed people doing impressive things like one-handed pull-ups, there are some things that a dedicated clothes horse just doesn't miss.

Rand: Seriously, none of these people are sweating like they've actually been working out for the last half hour.

Rand: You suspect they were playing Gateway or something and hurriedly started doing exercises when the lookout spotted you coming.

Rand: Also the place smells less like a sweat lodge and more like cinnamon, which implies a greater dedication to image management than you'd expected.

Lukas: Is Hau bae material?

Kenara: Gateway! That's what the local game is called. Thank you, I'd been trying to remember.

Rand: He's an extremely fine figure of a man, with perfectly feathered hair.

Rand: Seriously, who does the haircuts around here? They're amazing.

Lukas: "Also, drinks are on me."

Rand: There's probably some kind of martial arts coiffurist who does backflip-proof styling.

Kenara: Anything Goes Haberdashery

Rand: Saotome School of Indiscriminate Cosmetology

Rand: "It's clear you know how to start off a negotiation," admires Hau.

  • Lukas has 39 sxp.

Rand: The scene shifts to some local venue of noodles and alcohol.

Lukas: "I'd love to… take your measurements. Maybe get you into some new clothes."

Rand: "I do seem to lose a lot of shirts."

Lukas: "We can design around that."

Rand: "It seems only appropriate to show you what our society has to offer."

Rand: "You're looking for muscle, right? Well… I can provide it."

Lukas: Lukas takes a secretive moment to touch Hau at some point. Specifically, touching him very lightly with his hearthstone.

Rand: Remind me what that does?

  • Kenara also opts to recontextualize her intimacy towards Tamira.

Rand: Mister Magical-Swords-Keep-Making-Me-Forget-To-Put-My-Sheet-On-The-Wiki?

Lukas: I'll attend to that prompty.

Lukas: Basically, anyone who touches it dreams themselves into my Dream Mansion tonight.

Rand: From the way this negotiation is going, you don't have to use magical rocks to get him to follow you home, but you do you.

The Cally: (The Cally doesn't really explain why people want to go with the dojo, she just looks at anyone who questions the idea with utter bafflement and maybe eventually offers, "I thought that much was agreed?… I mean, it's OK if you're not really into martial arts or something?" If people bring up studying at Harmonious Animal instead, she'll mostly just be disappointed, stick a pin in it, and try to overwhelm that with perceived group consensus later.)

Rand: (For the record, I am currently following along with Lukas' end of this plot thread because it seems like the Cally is going to be in a stronger position once he's done.)

Lukas: Mainly it's a way of letting him know he's dealing with a supernatural without tipping his hand as a Solar.

Rand: "I like what you've brought to the table," Hau says again. "Supremely powerful martial arts, money, and incredibly-stylish kung fu outfits. That's the kind of thing that could take us from a little neighborhood house of monkeys into the big leagues."

Rand: "So I think we'd be prepared to sign on and accept you as the school's new master and fold Great Animal in under Seven Directions."

Rand: "Obviously, this comes with the usual conditions."

Lukas: "A rematch?"

Rand: "No, the rematch goes without saying. I mean, you have to be prepared to teach if you want to have students."

Rand: Hau also points out various salary considerations which I won't give precise numbers to.

Rand: His numbers aren't insane but he's clearly prepared to drive a proper bargain on behalf of his dudes.

Kenara: It's a good thing other people have money.

Lukas: Assuming that Lukas can swing it between his own finances and theoretical projects for the Palanquin upper crust, he'll happily accept.

Tamira: That and my stunning personality are pretty much what I bring to this motley group.

Kenara: Yeah, you do. <growl>

Rand: I assume Elesha can also provide something like money, when she emerges from quantum indeterminacy.

Lukas: Also, this gives them Cynis legitimacy.

Lukas: Of a very dubious sort.

Rand: I'm not sure who would do most of the actual martial arts mastering. It might be a good excuse for somebody to pick up a bit of Lore.

Rand: But in theory Kenara, Tamira, and Elesha could all do some aspect of that job.

Kenara: I'll teach them the fine art of combat groping. I mean grappling.

The Cally: The Cally has some Lore! She can teach them all the martial arts she knows.

Tamira: I can teach the sword. The question is if they can learn.

The Cally: ("The right fist… goes on this side of the body.")

Lukas: Lukas is Lore 5.

Tamira: (Note: for "can they learn" read "do they have any sense of style.")

Rand: Fortunately, Solar teaching magic doesn't require you to know martial arts to teach it.

Lukas: So he's certainly no slouch.

Kenara: It doesn't? Huh.

The Cally: ("If you swing it across your body, it… is now on the left. But it is still the right fist.")

Rand: Sure, Icaria could have taught people Socialize 5 (Behave Like a Normal Person) if he wanted to.

The Cally: ("OR IS IT")

Rand: It appears you have everything you need, then.

Rand: Lukas, please roll Bureaucracy plus something to determine the power of your bargaining!

  • Kenara now has 'I'll Make A Man Out Of You' playing in her head.

Lukas: Lukas is a terrible businessman.

Lukas: 2 successes.

Rand: You successfully recruit the Great Animal Society!

Rand: And all it cost you was most of the money you make and unspecified services to be performed by Lukas, for Hau, at a later time tonight.

Rand: It is possible that Lukas will invoke the Red Rule and these services will turn out to involve helping him move all his furniture into your house.

Rand: But enough of all that!

Rand: The Cally can now return to her recruitment drive in a much stronger position, for she now has monkeys at her disposal.

Rand: Meanwhile, Kenara, do you want to go into more detail about your rebuilding project?

The Cally: Butchers do love monkeys.

Rand: "Monkey's brains, while popular in Cantonese cooking, are not commonly to be found in Butt Town, you see."

Kenara: Hmm. Trying to think of what there is to say. I'm building homes where there used to be a Cynis warehouse and clearing out a meeting ground for our new Society.

Rand: How would you describe your construction style? Don't be afraid to talk yourself up!

Kenara: It's probably a bit rustic compared to what folks are used to out here: she's building in the style of her home village, or as close to it as she can with local materials. We're talking stone huts with wooden doors and squat, round windows to let in the light.

Kenara: The meeting area is a cleared-out plaza with rectangular buildings on either side: meetings are supposed to be an outdoors thing.

Rand: Do you have any particular system for figuring out who is actually going to live in these homes?

The Cally: The Cally presumably gets a message, waits until a suitable point in the gathering when the closest thing to an opponent in the room starts agitating for loyalty to the Harmonious Animals instead, and then notes, "Oh, hey, the Harmonious Animals joined Seven Directions. Cool." But… do we even have any rivals for control here now? She may be able to just treat it the recruitment as a fait accompli at this point.

Rand: There's likely to be plenty of competition for them.

Rand: Harmonious Doctrine, the Crane stylists, are the ones you're supposed to get rid of.

The Cally: Oh, OK.

Rand: Great Animal, aka your new minions, are their main rivals.

Rand: The food dudes are mostly in the guild that bankrolls Harmonious Doctrine.

Kenara: Former slaves first but other than that she's not very good at making those decisions. She wants to help the poor and is pretty soft-hearted about it.

The Cally: OK, then that last part of my plan is nonsense, never mind it. She can use it if someone questions our manpower, I guess.

Rand: They're vaguely impressed at your ability to absorb an entire martial arts brotherhood in a single day.

Rand: I mean, not vaguely.

Rand: That's actually pretty impressive.

Rand: It's just going to take some time to sink in.

Rand: Possibly having some kind of large martial arts battle while wearing really stylish clothing would make the new order a known quantity.

  • Lukas undertakes a Major Project to prepare uniforms en masse.

Rand: This is also an excellent opportunity for people to start throwing out names and concepts for your new martial arts underlings.

Lukas: Jitter, a daredevil practitioner of Curious Ferret Style.

Kenara: Kenara welcomes any of them who feel up to helping her build as well as those who want to wrestle, but she doesn't have anything to offer to incentivize the former.

Kenara: Three Woes, a morose Bear Style warrior.

The Cally: The Cally is unable to provide for a large martial arts battle, so she tosses out her main Socialize roll under Unimpeachable Discourse Technique (and Mastery of Small Manners, probably, if there was ever an indication that these guys have a community/culture), answers any immediate arguments, and leaves them to think about it, or, as she put it, get her a list of signatories in the morning. 10 successes.

Rand: Ten successes will buy you a lot of name recognition.

Lukas: Lukas is basically turning this into part exibition match, part fashion show.

Tamira: Large battles aren’t really Tamira’s forte, but facing a seemingly endless parade of challengers, all of whom are both defeated and dazzled by her swordplay? Now that, Tamira can do, and it won’t even put a crimp in her leisure time.

Rand: Between that, Lukas' snazzy gear, and Hau's willingness to talk all of you up to the stars…

Lukas: Lukas moves with inhuman speed as he produces rack after rack of well-tailored gi's.

Rand: …Palanquin in general pretty much receives the impression that you're a group of sorcerers who wandered into town, wrestled the Great Animal Society into submission, and then used your sorcery to turn them all into unstoppable beast warriors, and who will shortly rise to the top and rule the city with a velvet-clad fist.

Lukas: I mean…

Lukas: That's not completely off-base.

Rand: The best kind of rumor.

Rand: Harmonious Doctrine cannot fail to respond.

Lukas: "So… any guesses what's in the box?" Lukas says to his fellow Masters of the Seven Directions: the Cally, Tamira, and Kenara

Kenara: "The great cooking pot of Hede Ahu, that feeds hundreds with only sand." She's smirking as she says it, but she certainly wouldn't mind if it were true.

Tamira: "Well, if the novels I’ve read are even slightly accurate, some manner of scroll with an unbeatable technique described in exacting detail, to be discovered just in time to save the day," Tamira says. "…I really don’t think it’s that," she adds.

Lukas: "Both sound good, though."

Rand: You're kind of expecting Cranes to start harassing your dudes in the street, but it looks like most of the street-level members of the League have gone into hiding.

Rand: They cannot match your fashion game, and are desperately trying to get more impressive gi's tailored.

Rand: Sucks to be them! You control all the tailors!

Lukas: "I'm pulling all the threads."

Rand: Only one member of the League can hope to compete with you, and here she comes striding in.

Rand: Sadida ja Wunlo, master of Crane Style, her powerful muscles swathed in a white robe that is as all-encompassing as it is elegantly minimalist.

Rand: Each crease is a minor poem, probably about somebody's death.

Rand: Her only ornamentation is the gold clasp at her neck, and, I guess, her grimcleaver.

Tamira: Mental note: Find out who her tailor is, preferably without Lukas hearing about it.

The Cally: "Dang," the Cally says. "I hadn't thought you'd be the first one to join us."

The Cally: "Still, welcome, welcome. Drink?"

Rand: I'm not sure if a seven-foot naginata counts as ornamentation or not.

The Cally: It depends on if it has a bell on it.

Kenara: It's an accessory, to be sure.

Kenara: A fashion statement.

Rand: "You are most kind, and it would be inapt of me not to accept refreshment. But I have not come to offer you my fealty, since I have obligations to my own sisterhood."

Lukas: "Then may we inquire as to the nature of your visit?"

Lukas: Lukas seems kind of standoffish about possibly being outdone.

Rand: "It would be pointless to deny that within a very short span of time, you have assembled a powerful organization for yourselves, one that seeks to push Harmonious Doctrine out of this neighborhood altogether."

Kenara: "It would be pointless, yes."

Rand: "The Great Animals were always our chief rivals, but they were hampered by having heads largely filled with an assortment of muscles and cotton fluff."

Rand: "Now that they have someone else to do the thinking for them, our position here has become more difficult."

The Cally: The Cally provides Sadida ja Wunlo with a drink. It's icy and green and has a little umbrella in it.

Rand: Sadida graciously performs powerful drinking katas.

The Cally: "Technically it's supposed to be poisoned," the Cally says, "like, the Ysyr original version of this, but I just use a bit of cinnamon."

The Cally: The Cally drinks a bit of her own.

Rand: "Your forebearance is indeed appreciated."

Rand: "Anyway. I think it would be acceptable under these circumstances for us to negotiate our withdrawal and formal recognition of your status here."

The Cally: "If you eat enough cinnamon," the Cally says, "you can die, but it takes an awful lot. You pretty much have to force feed somebody. Um, that's what I hear, anyway."

Lukas: "We are listening, of course."

Rand: "In truth, there is only one thing stopping me from doing so now."

Rand: "I really cannot declare matters at an end until I have recovered the yellow box for our league."

Rand: "It is a matter of sacred duty."

The Cally: "You know," the Cally says, "I wasn't actually having fun with you, earlier. You might consider joining up. You see, if you did, the yellow box would be tautologically in your hands."

Rand: Sadida seems conflicted. Roll read intentions?

The Cally: I'll drop 2m on it. 8 successes.

Rand: You sense that she's not being entirely candid about her motivations.

Rand: She said back in the first game that she wanted the box because it's a relic of Master Uen, but that's not why she wants it.

Rand: You're picking up on… fear? Yes, fear.

The Cally: The Cally's expression softens. "If it's very important to you," she says, "please understand that we will help you get what you need out of its existence. I mean, if you were a member or affiliate in good standing."

The Cally: "The Inevitable Cataclysm Awaiting All Life never lets her friends and affiliates down."

Rand: Hm. Want to make some kind of formal instill attempt to nail down the approach you're using?

The Cally: Sure, the Cally is attempting to instill "the Cally can get you what you want." Does it make sense as Socialize or is it Presence?

Rand: That's Presence.

The Cally: 4 successes.

Rand: Sadida thinks hard.

Rand: "I suppose there was never any other way," she admits.

Rand: She places her drink firmly on the floor, and then presses her forehead down to meet it.

Rand: "I accept your offer," she says. "Please take me as your lowliest trainee… I only ask for sanctuary."

Kenara: "Should we expect your former allies to come for your head?"

Rand: "It seems not unlikely."

Rand: "Our league has always had… patrons. Not simply our financial backers, I mean."

Rand: "I always believed that our, well, our harmonious doctrine kept us in the beneficent graces of Heaven."

Rand: "Sometimes, in my dreams, I spoke to figures who seemed to confirm it. Voices who spoke to me of the future, and whose prophecies came true."

Rand: "They told me that our league was travelling in the correct path, and that Heaven smiled on us."

Rand: "Until they started to mention the yellow box."

Rand: "They commanded me to set the League to discover and claim it, and as time began to pass with no success, they grew increasingly angry."

Rand: "Since I see no possible way to take the box from you if you do not choose to relinquish it, I am afraid the future of Harmonious Doctrine may be mildly apocalyptic."

The Cally: The Cally nods. "That seems reasonable. Somebody else can figure out your rank, though, I don't know if lowliest trainee is really appropriate. You can get up."

The Cally: The Cally swirls her drink thoughtfully. "I guess we're fighting dream-people next? Or recruiting, maybe. Dressing up in cute dreamstumes."

The Cally: "Lukas, can you make clothes for dream-people?"

Lukas: Lukas suggests attaching Sadida to Elesha directly, as an honored student.

Tamira: Tamira, weirdly enough, looks a touch unsettled. "Voices from Heaven, you say?"

Lukas: Lukas also smiles at the Cally's question.

Lukas: "Dream-stuff is a specialty."

Rand: "…I always believed they were."

Rand: "Now I don't know."

Rand: "Some of the League will probably still wish to follow them. Others will want to join you with me."

Lukas: "Were you the only one to receive these dreams?"

The Cally: The Cally begins idly pondering workings to trap dream-people or, hm, maybe just to meet with them. ponder ponder plot plot

Rand: "No, many of us did. Myself more than most, but by no means exclusively."

Kenara: Kenara is listening with half an ear and mostly just trying not to be obvious about checking Tamira out.

Rand: "When I was a child, there were several different voices. But in this past year, I've only heard one. A woman, and an increasingly-wrathful one."

Lukas: "Would your society be amemable to a good-faith visit?"

Rand: "…in theory? There are a few of us who are… zealous… but if they overstepped, it's possibly they would be more in danger of injury than you."

Lukas: "Then are there any who might agree to meet with me in a neutral location?"

The Cally: The Cally concludes that what she probably wants is a zone where if a real or real-ish person shows up in someone's dreams, waking people can interact with them too, and leaving again takes extra rounds. I wonder if that's within the bounds of a terrestrial working.

Rand: "Oh, yes, that's simple enough to arrange. Just ask Wei or Hana or somebody over for tea. Or to spar. Or both!"

Lukas: "I think just tea, then. Would that suit you, the Cally?"

The Cally: "You made me an outfit," the Cally says. "Of course it's fine to have tea."

  • Lukas gets Sadida to subtly touch the hearthstone. And the others in the Circle, for that matter.

The Cally: "I think I'm gonna make a sticky dream-life boundary room," the Cally says, unless she's been briefed on the Hearthstone, "so if angry lady shows up she'll get stuck and we can talk to her."

Rand: This is turning into a really weird date.

The Cally: If the Cally has been briefed on the hearthstone, then she'll wait to see if it's necessary.

  • Lukas briefs the Cally at some point, probably. At least in so far as tonight will probably come before she can finish a working.

The Cally: ^_^

Lukas: So, the notion is to get a couple more zealots to touch the Key to the Dream Palace, and then have our Dream-selves be waiting for them at the gates, dressed in Dream-finery and glowing like the demigods we are.

Tamira: Tamira, weirdly enough, is going to exercise caution regarding dreams and Heaven-sent portents once we’re sufficiently alone.

Lukas: Which has the added bonus of maybe snagging the prophet lady, if she has to manifest in the shared Dream Palace.

Rand: That seems straightforward enough, so why don't we move forward to you being sufficiently alone?

The Cally: Let's ALONE-ING — EVERYONE!

Tamira: "I don’t suppose any of the rest of you had a dream where you were murdered by some sort of prophecy-wielding assassin, did you? All this talk of sacred charges and Heaven-sent dreams…"

Kenara: Kenara frowns. She remembers… something.

Lukas: "So, are we thinking there's someone or something mucking about with dreams here in Butt Town?"

Kenara: "It sounds like it, at least."

Tamira: "Either that or my life has somehow managed to get even more strange."

The Cally: The Cally shrugs. "I don't think there's been an assassin in a while," she says, "but there was this horse on a laundry line the other night shooting arrows."

Tamira: "Oh, I definitely saw that." Definitely a questionable horse, that.

The Cally: The Cally frowns. "Huh," she says. "So we're having shared dreams too."

Tamira: Tamira blinks. "…that was a dream? Okay, definitely not sampling any more of the local herbs…"

Lukas: "Safety in numbers, then. A shared dream on our own terms."

The Cally: "Did you have that…" She waves her hand vaguely. "Like, there was a sorcerer or something and everybody died or something and then we had a client?"

The Cally: "Oh, and there was this sword person with violet eyes."

Tamira: "I remember the eyes," Tamira says. "Fuck."

Lukas: "Eyes?"

Tamira: "I really don’t like this."

The Cally: "It's fine, it's fine," the Cally says. "The worst that can happen in a dream is that you get eaten by a gigantic protean pre-Creation entity and dissolved in its unbelly forever."

Lukas: "Mmm. Eyes are important. Just about any occult tome will tell you that. Just wish they could agree on what half of them mean."

Tamira: "Let’s… avoid the whole digestion thing, shall we?"

Kenara: "Please."

The Cally: "Got it," the Cally says, with a grin.

  • Lukas unseats the Key to the Dream Palace from the Forgotten Blade and balances it in his palm. It's a black opal, smooth at the bottom and carved at the top with a fantasia of towers and minarets. It revolves slowly in his hand, and there's a whisper of music boxes and lullabies.

The Cally: "The best thing that can happen in a dream," the Cally says thoughtfully, "is probably that you get to eat it, and it tastes really good, but also after that your heart and eyes are bigger than the world."

Kenara: Kenara seems impressed with the stone: it's a pretty little bauble, to be sure.

Lukas: "You have strange dreams, the Cally," Lukas says, uncharacteristically earnest. "I like them."

The Cally: "Thank you," the Cally says, touched. "That is very kind."

The Cally: "Did you know that you had a fantasia of towers and minarets revolving in your hand?"

Lukas: "I was vaguely aware of this, yes. It's a hearthstone. One touch, and your dreams will bring you to my Dream Palace. Hopefully safe from any would-be intruders, and a good way to impress the locals."

The Cally: "Oh," the Cally says, and touches it. "That is definitely superior to burning part of my life and soul in order to make a room paranormally sticky."

Lukas: "I don't usually share it, mind you. But desperate times and…"

Lukas: What's he's not saying is probably something something friendship blush.

Kenara: Friendship is magic and all that.

Tamira: "Well, you’ve my thanks. Never had to fight off a dream before. Wouldn’t have the first idea how."

Lukas: "Oh, you'd be surprised about the things you can stab. Dreams. Memories."

Rand: And so it happens.

Rand: We can skip over most of the details of the dream heist.

Rand: Getting close to some Harmonious hard-liners, touching them with your rocks, materializing in Lukas' dream-palace; this is all quite simple for people of the world such as yourselves.

Rand: And so it is that you confront the violet-eyed woman in the palace of dreams.

Kenara: How're we for time? I'm starting to fade a bit here.

Rand: We're nearly done.

Rand: Do you want to roll (Perception + Awareness)?

Lukas: Not unless forced to do so.

Kenara: Two successes.

Rand: Anybody else?

The Cally: 1.

Tamira: Three!

Rand: "I can't seem to be rid of you lot," says Seven Skies. "Can't you take a hint?"

Rand: There is a long martial arts battle scene.

Rand: Eventually, with the power of friendship and some support from Sadida and Hau, you defeat her, and she departs, cursing audibly.

Lukas: "…"

Lukas: "So, that happened."

Rand: You awaken refreshed and triumphant!

Rand: You immediately go to tell the yellow box all about your stunning victory over the forces that seek to claim it.

Rand: But you can't, because that business has totally been stolen.

Kenara: Well, shit.

Tamira: Tamira squints suspiciously at the place where the yellow box previously was. "So…"

Rand: Tamira's box-sense detects your lost prize moving swiftly pomade-wards.

Rand: Ah, but that's a story for another day!

Kenara: XP for the session?

Rand: Sure, sure. 5 XP and 4 Arete for everybody.

The Cally: There is a shadowland in the head. You get stuck there if you eat of the pomade granite.

Rand: …..really, Jenna?

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