In Which, Surprise, Tellus Was the Anathema All Along

Rand: I guess if Vance isn't coming, we can probably start whenever if people are ready?

Rand: Anyway, Elliott, are you familiar with the happenings of last week, or do you need a summary?

Lukas: A summary would be much appreciated.

Rand: Okay, so:

Rand: Acting on the information from Tellus' vision that led you to believe Hau might be a descendant of Uen, your pals had him try to open the box.

Rand: Surprisingly, this was completely successful.

Rand: They opened the box to find the talking severed head of a woman calling herself Mistress Emerald, who claims to be a powerful lost god who caught a case of torso dislocation from somebody she called a "reapy creepster."

Rand: Or possibly a "creepy reaper."

Rand: Her accent is a little out there.

Rand: She has offered incredible rewards for helping her find her missing hips, and has already helped Kenara with some personal problems, and also agreed to make all your students more attractive.

Rand: Although that last bit might have been for her own benefit.

Rand: Oh, and a new guy named Double-Soul Falling became a student here, and some windows got broken in a way I don't remember.

  • Lukas considers taking Art of Permanence and Craft (glazier).

Rand: So, basically, you come home one day to find the dojo a paradise of strawberry leaves presided over by a talking head, and all the students are a bit beefier and more symmetrical, and everybody seems way more pleased about this than they should be.

Rand: You may have accidentally joined a double-Anathema cult.

Rand: ….again.

Lukas: I have a pointed discussion with the head in private about what she's the goddess of and why folks would cut her head off.

Rand: "I guess you could call me the goddess of being awesome."

Rand: "That's my nommy de plume, okay?"

  • Lukas flares his caste mark.

Lukas: "That is an unsatisfactory answer."

Rand: Mistress Emerald sighs.

Rand: "Fine."

Rand: Her scarlet hair writhes about her head as she rises into the air in a cloud of wrath and power.

Rand: "You may call me Gaia, Emerald Mother, Maker of All Creation (the good bits), Queen of Life and Greatest of Ancients."

Rand: "'Mom' is also good."

Lukas: "…"

Lukas: "Come again?"

Rand: "But keep it on the down-low, okay? I don't want to get found by Creepster McReapy until we're ready."

Rand: "Well, you see, I created the world."

Rand: "Oh, and you're welcome."

Lukas: "No, no. I know who Gaia is. I mean, vaguely. She's in all the footnotes. And nothing and nowhere else."

Rand: "No, honey, I'm the page the book was written on."

Rand: "You see only the scraps of paper bound in leather, but I am every beast and every tree."

Rand: "And also this severed head."

Rand: "I contain multitudes and some garbage like that."

Rand: Creation doesn't have a New York accent, but if it did, Mistress Emerald would speak with one.

Lukas: "…so, yeah, I'm not sure I believe you. Primarily because you're a head, and the ancients were… I don't know, but not heads. I think one of them was a giant eye? But no heads."

Rand: "We are many things at once, each of them the thing and the whole of the thing."

Rand: "So that I am Creation itself, and the Mother of Creation, and also a couple of stars, and there's this giant cow thing up North."

Rand: "And somewhere I am an amazing pair of hips searching for their head."

Lukas: "But you're also a head that was trapped in a box."

Rand: "Yes, exactly."

Lukas: "Which… I was under the impression that the ancients weren't that easily captured. They were the top of the top of the food chain. I mean, until we apexed them, granted."

Rand: "Life's a funny proposition, bucko. Everybody thinks they're at the top until suddenly they're not. One day you're the king of all the lizards, next day there's a funny light in the sky racing towards you."

Rand: "One day you're the deathless tyrant of all that is or could be, next day someone's put starstuff inside a monkey's soul and pointed out that your head would look really good on their wall."

Rand: "One day you're the mother of all life, next day you're a head in a box."

Rand: "That's why I still love this world even when it hurts me, kid, because it still has the power to surprise me."

Lukas: "Right. So…you gonna tell me what you were doing in the box, at least? Because as much as I love a good metaphor, I've also got shit to do today. Like research. And Hau."

Rand: "Like, why is Uen's box yellow now? That's not even a real color of jade! And I should know because I invented jade."

Rand: "Speaking of which, it was Uen that left me in the box for safekeeping while he hunted for those hips of mine. But apparently he died instead and I sat in a box for two hundred years."

Rand: "Thanks for digging me up, by the way."

Lukas: "One assumes that the Maiden of Plenty might not need safekeeping."

Rand: "Well, I don't have any feet. Or hands."

Rand: "It's a problem."

Rand: "I'd call on some pals, but, uh, maybe they were the ones who sent the creeper?"

Rand: "Politics is a bitch, kid."

Lukas: "Fine. So… you're Gaia," Lukas says, lowering the sass about 15% but still pretty sassy overall. "Prove it. Tell me something numinous. Drop that lore on me."

Rand: Hm, what would impress you?

Lukas: Lukas? Hmmm.

Lukas: Honestly not sure! Unless the Labyrinth he was thrown into where he found the blade is a lot older than expected.

Lukas: Geomancy facts, names of kami, I dunno.

Rand: "Look into my peepers, kiddo, and see the history of your entire family line back unto the creation of man. Your parents and their miserable lives as slaves, and your grandparents before them, and before that, your great-times-seven-grandmother, who led the first expedition to what would become Ysyr and was clapped into obsidian chains by her own scribe after the terrible energies of that city transformed him into a sorcerer."

Rand: "Note also your great-times-nine-uncle, who as you can see was as hot as hell."

Lukas: "Wow, yeah. Wait—eww."

Lukas: "Okay."

Rand: "Also the second toe on your left foot was longer than the big toe, but I fixed it."

Lukas: "So, willing to say you're some kind of muckety-muck. Not sure I buy that you're the Emerald Mother, but we'll see where this hot mess takes us."

Rand: "Fabulous. Rest assured that when I return to my ten thousand things, you shall be richly rewarded."

Lukas: "Can't believe I'm gonna be the one to say it, but you really need to chill with the rich reward talk. Makes people think you're either ruthlessly mercenaristic or just lying."

Rand: "Heh, I forgot whose boy you were. Well, if you want to help me out of sheer compassion, I won't object. Altruism is a legitimate survival strategy."

Lukas: "Oh, I'm all for rich rewards. I'm just saying that the more you mention them, the more people doubt that they're real."

Rand: "Have it your way."

Lukas: "I usually do."

Rand: "Anyway, with any luck you can use that magnificent sunny brain of yours to find those twinkletoes of mine, no problem."

Rand: "So, don't wait around, 'cause Mama's got a hankering to dance."

Rand: Mistress Emerald reseats herself in her strawberry vines and wonders vaguely where everybody else got to.


Elesha: Where are we, XP-wise?

Elesha: And, also, plot-wise?

Rand: Okay, so, our heroes were finally able to open the yellow box, after using Tellus' vision to theorize that Hau might be some kind of descendent of Master Uen.

Rand: It turned out that what was inside it was Gaia's head.

Elesha: Poor Gaia!

Rand: She's now living in your dojo, making your students more attractive, talking in a New York accent, and demanding to be reunited with her body.

Rand: And she wants to be called "Mistress Emerald" because she's keeping it on the down-low.

Elesha: …less poor Gaia.

Rand: Kenara has sworn a mighty oath to help her in this task, and if she doesn't follow through, all her limbs will fall off or something.

Rand: Then things kind of fell apart because nobody was present who was even remotely qualified to push that plot forward.

Rand: So I think we're having a fashion show instead.

Rand: For XP, I guess we have 5 sessions under our belt? So that's 25 XP, and 20 Arete.

Kukla: Arete?

Rand: I can call it whatever I want!

Rand: I can't go around giving Solar XP to a Dragon-Blood.

Rand: That would just be ridiculous.

Rand: And this is a very serious campaign where Gaia's head lives in your front room making people beefier "so I have something to look at."

Elesha: Arete is probably a better name than Solar XP.

Rand: Just use it going forward, then!

Kukla: Arete's good.

Rand: It's just as well if Lukas is here for the fashion show, although I have to admit 'Tamira and Kenara rush to put together an award-winning fall lineup on their own' was appealing.

Tamira: Tamira knows how to appreciate fashion.

Tamira: Making it… she’s always had people for that.

Elesha: Elesha knows how to market fashion.

Rand: Kenara knows how to build a house, which is… actually a pretty good first step under Exalted's ruleset.

Rand: She'd have an Excellency, to begin with.

Tamira: Fashion is like houses.

Lukas: Lukas will be there.

Lukas: And he will be square.

Lukas: And he will also be queer.

Lukas: Get used to it.

Lukas: (He'll also probably be near, far, and wherever you are.)

  • Kukla sends more goblins.
  • Lukas throws kukla into a well full of oversexed leather maniacs.

Kukla: No, not my fursonaaaa!

  • Lukas seals the well with an ancient spell.

Kenara: So when are we starting?

Rand: Seven.

Rand: Which is just about now!

Elesha: It's high… seven o'clock.

Rand: It's high now.

Tamira: Oh, good, I thought it was 7:30, lol.

Rand: Lukas, wake up!

Rand: It's time to be outrageous!

Lukas: Truly, truly, truly outrageous?

Rand: Oh, yes.

Rand: So, when last we left off, you'd made it your business to find Mistress Emerald's missing hips. Except…

Rand: …it turns out finding one torso in a city literally made of torsos is really difficult.

Lukas: Technically, on a torso.

Rand: So you've kind of reconciled yourself to the idea that if you just entangle yourself in a bunch of local shenanigans, one of the plot hooks will eventually lead you in the right direction.

Rand: I've got one of those shenanigans on tap for tonight, but feel free to go ahead and tell me about some of the others.

Elesha: Should we be polite and go with the thing Rand has prepared, instead of pulling the rug out from under him and forcing him to improvise?

Lukas: Lukas writes a letter to the Mouth of Peace about the Anathema. Not really.

Rand: I fear nothing!

Rand: Really I am just soliciting thoughts about things you'd like to play around with in future weeks.

Elesha: Something with ghosts.

Lukas: Lukas has a few asshole sorcerers on his shitlist that he's gonna want to topple before too long.

Rand: Hm, ghosts and some folks from Ysyr.

Rand: Well, one of those wishes will be granted tonight.

Tamira: Tamira is keeping a wary eye on that Anathema horse, in between keeping a wary eye on pretty much everyone she meets in teahouses

Rand: You can never be too careful!

Rand: Any random animal could turn out to be a wicked spirit.

Rand: Unless it's a puppy, because all dogs are good dogs.

Tamira: Tamira’s shaky on theology, but she’s pretty sure about that part at least.

Rand: Luna gave her power to the beasts of the world, but it was too much for their low levels of enlightenment and they went mad and had to be put down.

Rand: Except for the puppies.

Elesha: …and the gorillas with jetpacks.

Lukas: Also, Lukas is probably going to start a trade war with Ysyr.

Lukas: Anyone got Socialize?

Elesha: I have… 2.

Elesha: Socialize 2.

Lukas: Awww.

Elesha: But I can read intentions real good in bureuacratic contexts

Kenara: I've got Socialize 4.

Lukas: :disappointed:

Rand: Anyway!

Rand: You've received an invitation to a very prestigious event. I guess we could call it a trade show?

Rand: I'm not sure what the best descriptive term would be in this economic milieu.

Rand: But all the nobs of Palanquin have invited all the best couturiers to show off their stuff.

Rand: This, naturally, includes Lukas, who's been doing his best to corner the market in anything that could possibly cover your shame.

Tamira: Tamira has Socialize 4 and a specialty in smoothing things over once kerfuffled.

Tamira: As she tends to kerfuffle things.

Rand: World-Shaping Artistic Vision (Fixing Problems I Caused).

Lukas: Lukas has gone full on auteur for this, complete with tiny round sunglasses and a few martial artists repurposed as well-hectored personal assistants.

Lukas: He is a tornado of silk, leather, wool, cotton, and more leather.

Rand: They attempt to look suitably browbeaten, but it's hard when you've spent your life developing your martial Essence!

Lukas: And feathers.

Lukas: Dear gods, the feathers!

Rand: How would you describe the style of your clothing line?

Lukas: Martial-chic. For the refined warlord on the go, or just the factor who wants to look a little more rough-and-tumble than she actually is.

Lukas: "Love is a battlefield," Lukas says to no one at all. "And fashion is a cataclysm."

Rand: The Three Shears Cataclysm.

Rand: Any particular things you want to do to prepare?

Elesha: Is this a… horse-OK event?

Lukas: He's sent out some of the students around the city for a few days to do flashmob fashion shows, just to build heat. Other than that, Lukas is just hellbent on delivering the best couture possible, at least, short of artifact-quality.

Lukas: And the horse is part of the look, Elesha.

Rand: We're talking about magical aristocrats here.

Rand: Just count yourself lucky if nobody tries to marry your horse or make him into Senator Uratan.

Rand: URATAN

Rand: THE DEMOCRACY-BEARING HORSE

Rand: Perhaps you could send out your sneaky spies to know who might be there? Or to murder people who are hard to please.

Elesha: Elesha may want to chat with head!Gaia, if that's not disruptive, mostly because they've never interacted before.

Lukas: Yeah, go for it.

Lukas: Lukas got a nice long dialogue with her.

Lukas: It's only fair that Elesha gets to talk to the last hale Primordial…'s head.

Rand: Sure, it's not like Mistress Emerald is going anywhere.

Rand: She's just sitting on her pillow demanding that people do pull-ups in front of her.

Elesha: Elesha is game, and tries to strike up conversation with the severed head of the creator-titan while executing some sick reps.

Elesha: "So, Miss Emerald. Tell me about yourself."

Rand: "Well, I created the world and everything in it, and you're welcome."

Rand: "Except the bits you don't like; that was my asshole family."

Elesha: "And how do you feel about the way it's turned out?"

Rand: "I'm still invested! I gotta tell you, I didn't see most of this shit coming."

Rand: "That means a lot when you're the summit of divinity."

Rand: "I mean, maybe it could have been better, but frankly, it was a lot of work to get all this to be anything at all."

Rand: "(that said I do miss hands)"

Elesha: "What was it like before there was anything at all?"

Rand: "Confusing. I had to invent a new context for everything I did before I did it. Everything was irritating metaphysical uncertainty."

Rand: "It's like if everybody you knew was the hottest person alive, and the ugliest beast imaginable, and also average, because all possible metrics were equally valid."

Elesha: "That's… not really as enlightening as I was hoping. Although I guess that's not your fault."

Rand: "There's no enlightenment in nonsense. The things before there were things have nothing to teach you."

Rand: "Seek enlightenment in the world."

Kenara: (Forgive me for being quiet: I'm not sure where to jump into things here.)

Elesha: "That's a good enlightenment."

  • Elesha takes that as an Intimacy.

Rand: "Try seeking some in that fella over there; I'd do it myself, but I am as you find me."

Elesha: (We can bow out of this scene now, which would incidentally give me time to drive home.)

Rand: Fair enough!

Rand: Meanwhile, Lukas's spies have been active.

Rand: These spies are honestly probably just Monkey stylists asking people questions.

Rand: So, first I will tell you about some of the guests, and while you are doing that, Elliott can think about exactly what style of couture would be his fashion nemesis.

Rand: First up, you know that Commodore Saliodas will be there. He's head of the Council of Families, which makes him technically the ruler of Palanquin, although this position is extremely technical and ceremonial.

Rand: He's a gentleman of middle age, whatever that means for somebody who's mostly cloud person, and is all about the complicated blond moustaches made largely of vapor.

Rand: He's a good person to know if you want to be invited to all the best parties.

Rand: You've also heard about Capritta ja Wunlo, who's the head of the Farmer's Guild and, unusually, also the head of its associated martial arts school.

Rand: Apparently they favor Mouse and Rabbit, but you've heard conflicting reports about her skill level.

Rand: She's supposedly not somebody to cross, for someone who spends her time imitating a rabbit.

Rand: Oh!

Rand: And there's a special guest.

Rand: A fellow called Florum. He's a visiting dignitary from Ysyr.

Rand: You know very little except that he is super-magical and handsome, which of course is not useful information in this case.

  • Lukas glowers.

Lukas: Lukas has a number of lesser rivals—well, rivals in their own minds at least—but the only one he recognizes as significant is Mizra Madda Norr, a Guild-backed artisan known more for importing high fashion than for her own designs.

Rand: Yeah, I'm not asking for an NPC so much as asking what approach to fashion would most infuriate you in a rival.

Lukas: That one.

Rand: Ah, so.

Rand: All right, any other preparations you want to make?

Lukas: No, pretty pointless.

Rand: So, is everybody else attending? You're all vaguely invited.

Rand: Or specifically invited if you like! I guess you've all become important recently.

Kenara: Sure. Kenara is alternately bedazzled and nonplussed by the sheer opulence of it all.

Rand: It's definitely a very glitzy occasion, and it may actually be the first time some of you have entered Palanquin proper.

Rand: As opposed to just running around the Butts.

Rand: The Admiralty's Hall is big on crystal and silver, and windows at odd angles.

Tamira: Tamira wouldn’t miss it. It’s a party, right? Tamira wouldn’t miss it. (Besides, if anyone tries to assassinate her here, everyone local will get mad at them!)

Rand: There are also a lot of tables with food, except that most of them are on the second story and sitting on clouds.

Rand: Ordinary people can't actually get to them!

Rand: It's a subtle social hierarchy based on your ability to walk on vapor.

Lukas: Lukas makes a note to fashion some Cloud-Walking Slippers.

Elesha: Elesha's glad she was able to convince Lukas to dress up Uratan, because walking on clouds by herself would be suspicious.

Elesha: Riding a horse on clouds is just stylish!

Rand: Yeah, some people probably already have those.

Rand: Yes, people are definitely impressed and making eyes at you.

Rand: Or possibly at your horse.

Rand: You know. Aristocrats.

Rand: So, what kind of set-up do you have here?

Lukas: For the transport of his wares, Lukas has designed and fabricated the bastard child of a coach, closet, and tank. It rolls through on wheels quiet as a whisper, and inside are racks upon racks of gleaming couture.

  • Rand tries to conjure a pun.
  • Rand fails, but makes a note to use "clothes horse" later.

Rand: Anyway, the first person to wander up is Tellus.

Rand: "This is a pretty decent little show," he says. "Although I'd much rather hear if you'd manage to break time again."

Lukas: "Well, time is money, so maybe I'll break the bank and you'll get your wish," Lukas says, trying his best to be flirty and cool but being surprisingly bad at it.

Rand: "Well, I've been forced by circumstance to assist you."

Rand: "Owing to a magical accident I don't want to discuss, I'm afraid this entire outfit is going to crumble to dust in thirty seconds."

Rand: "I need to buy an entire new ensemble very quickly."

Lukas: Lukas guides him into a changing room and begins throwing outfits at him from the other side.

Rand: "I need something that evokes wickedness and mystery, but also sound business ethics."

Lukas: "…soooo, merchant prince meets the damned? I can handle that."

Rand: "An outfit that says, 'sure, go ahead and express your deepest wishes in front of this person; it can't possibly go wrong.'"

Lukas: "Now you're sounding more like a demon I once knew."

Rand: "Oh, what was his name?"

Rand: Tellus seems to genuinely wonder if you have a mutual acquaintance.

Lukas: "Their name was Nikash-Nikash-Thresher-on-the-River."

Rand: "Oh, the Electrum Sodalt! Capital fellow, I mean, aside from the, you know."

Rand: Tellus makes the gesture where you excuse terrible, terrible crimes.

Rand: "Hm, no, I need to look about twenty percent more wicked."

Rand: Meanwhile, Kenara is probably wandering into a subplot where she's harrassed by a bunch of snobs only to later become belle of the ball with her horse sense.

Lukas: "Just add a collar, then. Little leather one, second drawer in there."

Rand: "Wow, that's much more wickedness per square inch than I was expecting."

Lukas: "Blood ape leather will do that."

Rand: "…nobody I know, I hope."

Lukas: "Definitely probably not."

Rand: "…oh, well, no point crying over split skin!"

Rand: "So, have you seen the delegation from Ysyr? To die for. In my case, to die of boredom. Incredibly hot, but if someone is convinced the sun shines out of their arse I don't have anything to offer them."

Lukas: "I don't know if they're to die for. More to kill for."

Rand: "Oh, has he bound you to his will with unspeakable magics? I hear that's his thing."

Rand: "Oh, wait, no, you mean you want to kill him."

Lukas: "Brutally."

Rand: "Is this general, or specific?"

Lukas: "A little of each."

Rand: "Hm, well, of course, for me, pleasure is always a business, so feel free to call on me if you're looking for a little mystical assistance."

Rand: "Do you think you're sneaky enough to do a murder right in the middle of this party?"

Lukas: "I know that I'm not. Well… not enough to get away with it, unless I cut the memory out of everyone here."

Rand: "That, of course, is fixable."

Rand: Tellus snaps an immaculately-groomed finger, the nails of which, you notice, are rather sharp.

Rand: Where's that character sheet of yours?

  • Rand finds Lukas' character sheet and alters Stealth from 2 to 5, in green ink.

Elesha: Hmmmmmm.

Rand: "On you, it looks good," says Tellus, boxing you in with four fingers as though he were sizing up a new outfit on you.

Rand: "No worries, we can discuss your end of the bargain later. Do you need any demons? I'll throw them in free for the evening."

Lukas: "…wait, what?"

Rand: "Through the power of my magic, you have become extremely sneaky! Oh, and you're welcome."

  • Lukas regrets realizing that this is a Malefactor.

Rand: Malefactors are so last edition.

Elesha: It's not a Malefactor, it's a [REDACTED] Caste.

Rand: Apex or whatever.

  • Lukas pinches Vance.

Rand: Apex, Penumbra, [REDACTED]?

Elesha: Two out of three.

Rand: [REDACTED].

Rand: [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED], Penumbra.

  • Elesha liberally applies amnestics.
  • Lukas steps out of the spotlight to see what the others are doing.

Rand: Honestly, I liked ours better.

Rand: Doom, Revelation, Providence, Deliverance, Judgment.

Rand: Elesha, what's your party goal?

Rand: Tamira and Kenara, you as well.

Elesha: Lukas might be one fine couturier, but sales are Elesha's department.

Rand: Hm, it would be convenient if one of you could be quite taken with Elliott's beautiful wizard jerk.

Tamira: Look good, get drunk, and avoid drawing on anyone.

Elesha: Elesha's gonna arrange some buyers.

Tamira: Assist with fashion-related endeavors as necessary/able.

Rand: Hm, is that… an instill action?

Rand: Hm, possibly Tamira should use instill on herself to avoid challenging anybody to a duel.

Rand: This is a joke.

Elesha: I can read intentions to find likely customers?

Tamira: (She is probably not going to challenge anyone, unless they make it really hard to not.)

Rand: Elesha, conveniently, detects a customer!

Rand: His golden locks spike upwards into the wind, and his china-blue eyes are alight with the desire to clothe his sun-darkened skin in the finest of high couture.

Rand: He is clearly some kind of wizard jerk, but also clearly super-rich.

Rand: And thus the evening became a race between Elesha and Lukas, to bankrupt this fine fellow before he can be murdered.

Rand: Or vice versa.

Elesha: "Master Lukas' work seems to have caught your eye as well," Elesha says, posing as a fellow interested party. "Magnificent work."

Rand: "It's pretty decent," admits Florium. "He seems kinda familiar. Oh, well, I guess a lot of people look mostly alike."

Rand: "Honestly, xha, it's just kind of nice to visit a place where all the servants aren't grossly deformed."

Elesha: "I suppose I've taken that for granted all my life. Where do you hail from?"

Rand: "Oh, well, naturally I came from Ysyr. They just sent me down to, like, collect some tribute, and maybe see if any of this year's plays are any good."

Elesha: "Well, I'm sure Master Lukas' work would be all the rage in Ysyr…if I weren't buying him out, of course."

Rand: "I didn't know you could do that in Palanquin! Oh, well, I guess it saves trouble, and he is kind of hot."

Rand: "Is it expensive in this market? Maybe I should buy that dude over there," he muses, pointing at a waiter.

Elesha: "…buying out his goods."

Rand: "Oh."

Rand: "Maybe I should head over there quickly, then."

Rand: "Ah," says somebody. "Let us not hurry too quickly, for I have just the thing for you, good master."

Elesha: "I am on a horse. It'd be only sporting to afford you a head start."

Rand: You encounter RIVAL SALESMAN SIX-JEWELED NEZ!

Rand: He wears a small weather system of blue robes and his fingers are covered in complicated jewels.

Rand: If you had to come up with one word to describe him, it would probably be "wolfish."

Rand: "Just look at these, the most recent and fashionable goods worn by the Dynasts on the exotic Blessed Isle."

Rand: Florium is in danger of being distracted!

Rand: Although honestly he might be safer far away from the Lukas Couture stall.

Elesha: Elesha assesses Nez's goods with Frugal Merchant Method

Rand: They're probably legitimately from the Blessed Isle, but they wouldn't really suit Florium at all.

Rand: They're high-quality in that they're very expensive, but…

  • Rand wiggles a hand.

Tamira: Would Tamira only be caught dead in it?

Rand: Girl, I've seen your Read Intentions pool.

Rand: You probably already have one.

Elesha: "Pfah! I wouldn't want to be wearing Blessed Isle fabrics on the Dreaming Sea come summer. Or… any season."

  • Rand considers likely Ysyri opinions on the Blessed Isle, fashion-wise.

Rand: I suppose you had better roll.

Rand: Six-Jeweled Nez rolls eight successes, and buys himself a new hat on the strength of it.

Rand: (In other news, I would just like to mention that Tellus spent the entire last session he appeared in straining mightily to get someone to admit to a perceived lack in themselves out loud, and failing.)

Elesha: What pool?

Rand: Presence and whatever you choose? Unless it's supposed to be Bureaucracy to sell people things.

Elesha: Spending WP to add a success because I don't actually have a Presence Excellency.

Elesha: Any stunt dice?

Rand: Sure, take one.

Elesha: …8 successes.

Rand: The magic bro is paralyzed with indecision.

Rand: Meanwhile, I will swing back to Elliott because determining that status of his murder plan is actually kind of important to this.

Lukas: Lukas is a typhoon of feelings. On the one hand, murder. On the other hand, murder. On a third, hypothetical hand, he has not accurately faced the psychological reality of his hatred for the Ysyri, and is paralyzed Prince-of-Denmark-style by his own indecision.

Rand: "I hear he throws all his slaves off the city at the end of every season and replaces them with some in the new year's colors," says Tellus, off-hand, rolling his own Presence while he's at it.

Rand: He rolls seven successes on this instill attempt!

Rand: Or I guess he's using Inflame Passions instead.

Lukas: Yeah, that's gonna hit him right in the Intimacies.

Rand: Tellus hums various Disney songs.

Rand: In other news, before chibikonatsu falls asleep, Kenara catches a glimpse of a rather unusual woman.

Rand: Well, perhaps not so very unusual.

Rand: But most people don't have what looks like stitches going all the way around their neck.

Lukas: Still, I don't see that resolving his internal struggle to its entirety, only adding self-loathing to his inaction. So, instead, Lukas adapts a lurking posture, sneaks over to the sorcerer. Two things, in quick succession: He touches the man with the Key to the Dream Palace and then decks him right in the schnoz.

Rand: Roll for schnozz-decking!

Lukas: Nah. This is gonna be an ambush attack.

Rand: Roll for ambush, with your conveniently-enlarged pool!

Lukas: Eight successes, plus whatever the ambush penalties on the fellow's Defenses are.

Rand: Please reverse-stunt an incredibly-satisfying schnozz-punch.

Lukas: This isn't a stylish punch. There's no grace to it, and barely any swagger. This is an ice-and-fire punch, the strike of someone simultaneously numb and enraged.

Rand: Tamira, Elesha, do you feel like doing anything if you notice a sneaky Lukas attempting a punchsassination?

Tamira: If this fellow’s pissed off a tailor to the point where the tailor slugs him, Tamira is reasonably certain he deserves said punching.

Elesha: Elesha's unhappy that the deal she set up probably isn't going to go through, but figures Lukas probably has decent reasons to sucker punch the dude out of nowhere.

Rand: And thus it was that the sorcerer Florium was righteously punched in the face by Lukas the tailor.

Rand: Everybody gasps. It's very surprising and possibly uncouth.

Rand: Tellus finds himself abruptly horizontal.

Rand: There is a moment of uncertainty and atmospheric wobblings, like you get when a sorcerer is straining to keep his temper (and various bound demons) leashed.

Lukas: "Apologies to all and sundry," Lukas says, wrapping a convenient kerchief around his slightly bloody knuckles. "Bloodstains are all the rage this year. That rough, grizzled, macho look. A bit ready for a rumble, yes?"

Lukas: I'm gonna haunt his dreams to hell and back.

Rand: Is this a sexual innuendo?

Lukas: No. This is psychological warfare backed by geomancy.

Rand: "…party foul, xha," says Florium from the floor.

Lukas: "Perhaps."

Rand: "Also, demons, please rend him limb from limb."

Elesha: Elesha draws Summer Breeze.

Rand: Half-a-dozen blood apes knit themselves into being out of air and viscera.

Tamira: “Oh, for the love of…” Tamira sighs and knocks back a snifter of something so alcoholic it can be smelled at five paces.

Rand: Uh-oh, she's about to drink and duel!

Rand: Well, maybe a six-on-four fight isn't a duel.

Tamira: It’s definitely not a duel.

Tamira: Duels involve challenges, this dude’s straight up tryin’ to murder someone.

  • Rand tries to figure out Florium's stats in a hurry.

Rand: Although frankly this game with the Shock versus the Fuel is distracting me. It would really please me if the Fuel get destroyed.

Rand: Blood apes, blood apes.

  • Lukas might not have the wherewithal for a big fight vis-a-vis powerful antihistamines and drowsiness.

Rand: You started this!

Rand: In fact you handed out a partial lease on your soul for it.

Elesha: More of a license.

Lukas: Yes, but the more I play, the more I realize how much I despair of combat in Exalted.

Rand: Fine, fine.

Rand: Elesha, Tamira, roll your best fight pools.

Rand: Kenara, you too, if you're awake and have not been driven away by being largely ignored by your boorish ST.

Elesha: 11 successes.

Tamira: Nine, assuming Charms are in play.

Rand: Florium and his blood apes roll a total of 13.

Rand: They are soundly thrashed in whatever way you like best.

Elesha: I vote "kill all the demons and humiliate the sorcerer."

Tamira: Agreed. Tamira is clearly drunk as a skunk but is not only untouched, her hair isn’t even mussed at the end of it all.

Rand: Humiliate how?

Elesha: Boxers with hearts on them?

Rand: Sure, sure.

Elesha: Or whatever the Creation equivalent is.

Rand: If it wasn't late, you'd probably run afoul of his annoying unearthly beauty magic, but it's late.

Rand: So instead you just run afoul of Capritta ja Wunlo, who is tapping her feet and wanting to know why you just started a major international incident with the city's magical overlords.

Rand: Starting a war is the worst kind of party foul.

Tamira: “In my defense, I’m sort of Chosen by the Dragons, and therefore above mortal law, which includes party fouls,” Tamira says, only a little off balance.

Rand: "Oh, well, when our children are flayed skin from bones by the needles that rain from the sky, I'm sure they'll understand."

Elesha: "I don't think our buddy wants to start a war over this. Do you, pal?"

Rand: "I could settle for some personal vengeance."

Elesha: "See? Absolutely no problem for Palanquin."

Tamira: “Again, theological immunity. Vengeance invalid. Problem solved. Who’s a girl gotta mortally insult to get a refill?” She’s still holding the glass.

Rand: I'm not really sure if Ysyr is going to care about your theological immunity.

Rand: They laugh at all the gods, etc.

Tamira: Oh, I know that. Tamira probably also knows it. But she’s drunk.

Tamira: She gets very full of herself when she’s drunk.

Elesha: "I don't think it's you he wants vengeance on, Tamira."

Tamira: “Splendid!”

Rand: "I'm prepared to retract my claim to vengeance if the wicked tailor is handed over as my personal slave," offers Florium, generously.

Rand: Elliott has evidently gone to sleep, so I guess that plan is carried.

Tamira: That is a good cliffhanger line, though.

Tamira: I can practically hear “Roundabout.”

Elesha: dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun

Rand: I should have sent you guys to parties sooner.

Elesha: We're so great at parties!

Tamira: Tamira shouldn’t drink, but she loves it so.

Rand: Anyway, XP and Arete all around.

Tamira: 5/4?

Rand: Sure, unless you want more.

Rand: ARE YOU NOT SATSIFIED?

Tamira: haha

Rand: Have you even bought anything yet?

Tamira: I have, actually, I bought an Ox-Body and Athletics 3.

Tamira: I need to spend more tho.

Tamira: I just always forget to.

Rand: Elliott bought a bunch of Stealth, at the price of his soul.

Rand: Tamira came so fucking close to falling into the Cecelyne trap over the time thing.

Tamira: Hahaha.

Tamira: I bet she did.

Rand: I was beating my head against the desk trying to get you to say it the right way to trigger his magic, but you were too clever.

Tamira: Yes. “Clever.”

Tamira: I forget how it works but you have to like, ask, right?

Rand: You have to express a perceived lack in yourself.

Tamira: Ohhhh.

Rand: Like, "I wish I was stronger."

Tamira: Yeah, no, Tamira doesn’t think she’s lacking, she honestly thinks she’s hot shit

Rand: True, but if she'd said "I wish the Dynasty didn't still hate me," he could reshuffle your history and drop all the assassins out.

Tamira: Ah, true.

Tamira: But that would make things much less interesting.

Rand: There's nothing boring about owing a demon wizard bits of your soul!

Tamira: Anyway the Dynasty doesn’t hate her, nebulous parties unknown hate her.

Rand: As Lukas is about to find out.

Rand: Although it's always possible that the favor demanded in return will involve buying drinks and kisses, in which case it's not a bad trade for three dots of Stealth.

Tamira: That Charm is so weird.

Elesha: I wonder how we'll do it.

Rand: My main problem with it was that it's usually too weak when you'd actually want it.

Elesha: It's too iconic not to keep, but the mechanics have their issues.

Rand: Like, giving somebody one dot at a time is kind of boring.

Tamira: The problem is that players hate anyone having anything over them.

Rand: Like, I can see two main uses for it.

Rand: One is to train your fellow PCs.

Rand: The other is to do the thing where you grant some NPCs wish and make them super, and also they're now your dark minion.

Rand: Like, sure, I'll make the village wimp into a tough guy, and now I have a guy on the inside.

Rand: And to do that second thing you really have to be able to turn multiple high scores into low scores.

Elesha: The latter is really the coolest way to use it.

Rand: Because "wow, I raised the village shrimp from Strength 1 to Strength 2" is not going to impress anybody.

Elesha: It needs to work differently for PCs and NPCs.

Rand: Especially because you need like five or six good numbers to be a tough guy.

Tamira: Yes.

Tamira: I was just about to say that, Vance.

Rand: What I'd do is.

Rand: For NPCs, you can just assign them a premade stat block.

Rand: Like, a demon stat block!

Rand: They're still human but they get stats and powers vaguely equivalent to some summonable demon.

Tamira: I mean if this was Scion I know what I’d have it do, it’s a free Promotion.

Rand: That's strong, and manageable, and won't break anything.

Rand: And for PCs it basically just works like it does for Twilights, except it does some kind of weird "take a string" thing instead of costing XP.

Tamira: Now that intimacies are an integral part of the social system, it will hopefully feel a little less skeevy to hand out intimacies.

Tamira: That was a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

Rand: Yeah, and it honestly could just be a big Intimacy.

Elesha: I sorta liked the flavor and feel of it being a debt to cash in.

Elesha: Probably cause of all the myths and fairytales where people get X many favors from some supernatural companion.

Rand: Yeah, it might work out better if the gifts you hand out don't have to come in a bunch of pointless steps.

Rand: Like having to give people a weird mutation before you can give them any other mutation? I never understood how that worked.

Elesha: Desecration keyword was very fiddly.

Rand: Like, it seemed like RAW one wish had to flub before you could make the second one work.

Tamira: Honestly, the way Demonic pacts work is probably the best source

Elesha: I seem to recall the idea being that Creature of Darkness would tag along with whatever other mutation you granted.

Tamira: Much like Cover is the best source for Resplendent Destinies.

Elesha: …but I don't care enough to look it up right now.

Tamira: TL;DR, Demon is good.

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