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Exalted 3E - Tale of a Falling Empire IC

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Exalted 3e
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Cathak Xandra is still feeling her sea legs as she walks through the streets towards the palace, but being on dry land is still a fine feeling. Much better than being stuck on that damn boat/ship whatever it is called. It doesn't really matter. A ship is no place for her. She is very much a 'feet-on-the-ground' kind of girl. Ah, well. At least they are here and in one piece.

Xandra looks around the city as the group of Dynasts are making their way towards the satrap's palace, with a small group of porters taking their bags for them. She is enjoying the sights and smells of this new place, but her soldier's instincts keep her on her toes, constantly scanning the area for threats. Being a soldier for so long makes it hard to relax, and the Dragons know she needs to relax. Speaking of relaxed, she reaches up to rub the head ridges on Riku's scaly hide as he is wrapped around her neck, making the little fire lizard coo in pleasure.

She says to him, "You are a silly little thing, aren't you?" He doesn't respond, but he does butt his head up against her hand to tell her to keep on rubbing his scales. Glancing around, this time she speaks to the group of Exalts with her. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting hungry. Its close to lunchtime. Do you guys want to enjoy some of the local cuisine, or should we wait and see what the satrap's cooks have up their sleeves for lunch? Either way, lets grab a quick snack from somewhere. Now that we're on solid ground, my appetite has come back."
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
Through the wonder that is the Infallible Messenger spell, the five of you have made arrangements to stay at the satrap's palace for at least tonight, though from what you've gathered, satrap Ragara Satori is only acting out of Dynastic societal obligation rather than any genuine courtesy. There was a bit of trouble regarding Larissa - Mnemons and Ragaras are often not welcome in each other's households - but it's all been smoothed out, and each member of the quintet can expect to have their every need and desire seen to during their stay. As an added bonus, the five of you have been invited to attend a small gala that Satori is hosting tonight, for all Dynasts currently travelling or working within the surrounding area.

Besides the porters, the quintet of travelling Dynasts is accompanied by a group of twenty city guardsmen. Their captain, a middle-aged mortal man with an old scar running across his nose and below both eyes, met you at the docks as you disembarked, and explained in a slightly apologetic tone that they had been sent to escort you to the palace on behalf of Satori. Apparently the mood within the city has become very tense these last few months, as in "way more than it's ever been at any point since the Empress's disappearance", according to the captain.

As the group travels through the streets, it's not hard to see what he's talking about. Being Dynasts, you naturally expect to have mortals admire and fawn over you on the Blessed Isle, but the reactions of the city's mortal residents could not be a further cry from this. The streets get noticeably quieter as you pass through, people turning away from their conversations and lives to look at you, then either hurriedly moving away or giving you contemptuous stares, as if you're visibly stricken by the Great Contagion. Xandra's words - even if spoken in High Realm - do not help matters; instead they arguably make things worse, as the five of you start to hear mutterings along the lines of "look at her, strutting around and acting all cheery after she and her ilk ruined things here and everywhere else..."

The city guards clench their spears and shield grips tighter, while giving the area the same wary glances as Xandra. Looking around, the five of you notice that most of the people glaring at you have the haggard and half-starved looks of those with not enough money and too much work. Even to those who never attended the Spiral Academy, it's clear that the economy of Kandara is not doing too well at the moment.

Then suddenly, all of you feel a sense of danger.

Everyone, please give me Perception + Awareness rolls.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mnemon Larissa frowns at the hostile looks and feel of the city around them. In a quiet voice, she says, "I am not liking the look of the people. It feels . . . wrong . . . here. I think that getting to the palace as soon as possible would be the best for us."

7 successes on my Per + Awareness roll.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Xandra nods, starting to feel the tensions building around them. "Uh, yeah. Perhaps you're right. We should get off the streets soon rather than later. Lets move." She is very tempted to look for a large fire to call forth her sword and armor, but that may inflame the situation even more to see her armed for a fight without a known threat.

7 successes on my roll
 

Random Word

One Thousand Club
"Xandra! I said I wanted a vacation. Something relaxing. You promised me this wouldn't be like your last choice. Why is it that whenever it's your turn to pick the destination it's never 'A relaxing river cruise through the Lantern Festival in Varna' or 'an apartment with a view of the plaza during the Twelve Gods Revel in Hijir', it's always 'Commoners are mysteriously disappearing during the Lantern Festival in Varna and we should investigate' and 'The Twelve Gods Revel in Hijir and oh by the way the barbarian horde of the thirteenth god is invading'? This is one of your... adventures," Asuna shudders at the memories returning unbidden as she utters the world with obvious distaste, "isn't it? Threshold wars are not relaxing diversions! Hunting Anathema is not what anyone should be doing on vacation!"

Asuna looks pleadingly at Larissa, "Larissa, back me up here. Surely there's something in the Immaculate Texts about not mixing celestial demons and pleasure. 'And lo, Daana'd did verily declare that thou shalt not hunt demons when thine bosom companion doth only want to imminently drown herself in temporal sin.' Something like - oh not again."
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
"Civil unrest." Fel said, walking beside the other Dynasts. His hand resting on the hilt of the curved saber at his waste. Just because it was ornamental didn't mean it was not functional, just as the fine chain shirt that he wore underneath his garb. "There has been pockets of it everywhere, or so I have been hearing. And one would think a Ragara of all rulers would have been to manage the economy well enough to keep this from happening. I'd be little miffed too."

"Still... it would certainly be wise to not stay where we might instigate further unease." He said, agreeing with them. "The palace sounds fantastic right now."

He looked over and shot Xandra a small grin, "Though perhaps you should stop strutting lest you start an uprising."

1 sux
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
As the group continue walking, Larissa, Xandra and Asuna spot a group of six urchins between the ages of twelve and sixteen gathered in a narrow alley off to the right of the street, all readying themselves to throw handfuls of some brown substance at you. The next moment, they launch their volley - which turns out to be a mixture of mud and excrement - right into your midst, the porters and guards all yelling with alarm and outrage as the projectiles land.

"Hah! Take that, false dragons!" one of them shouts with all the courage of youthful impetuousness, before all six of them turn around and bolt down the alley. Without waiting for orders, four members of your escort start running after them, looking and sounding furious on behalf of all five of you.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Before the guards can get too far, Larissa shouts, "Stop! Do not chase them! They are children of the streets, and undoubtedly know enough hidden paths to escape you, assuming that it is not a trick to lure you into an ambush. We will not allow ourselves to lose our tempers over something as trivial as this." She takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out, trying to stay calm herself. After all, Larissa has never before had someone try to spatter her with feces and mud before, and it is almost enough to get anyone to lose it.

She does her best to maintain her sense of dignity and says, "Let us hasten to the satraps palace before the crowd becomes even more hostile."
 

Random Word

One Thousand Club
Asuna looks aghast, "Did some mongrel street urchin just impugn my bloodline?" She shakes her head in disbelief. "Whatever are they teaching children these days?"

She gives the Captain a pitying look, "This must all be so terribly embarrassing for you, having lost control of the city so completely. Still, you simply must give a better showing than this. If you need more women, summon them. Clear the street properly. My Seneschal will of course cover any... unforeseen expenses," she says with a knowing smile. The surest path to any guardswoman's heart is through their purse. If Ragara Satori has any sense they last thing they'll cut is the guard's salary, but Ragara has never been the House of good sense. "The Lady Mnemon speaks the truth of it. Have you no more civilized means of conveyance than by foot? No howdahs? Carriages? Palanquins? I believe I have had my fill of crowds for one day."
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
The four guards stop short at Larissa's order, and walk back to rejoin the group, two of them shooting dark glances down the alleyway. The other citizens have backed away in anticipation of violence, but when it becomes clear that none will occur, their tension gradually disappears and they go back to whatever they were doing before the incident. Some of them seem surprised that you showed such restraint.

"You all have my apologies for this indignity, blessed ones." the captain says after hearing Asuna speak. "The people have been unhappy ever since the introduction of the new taxes following the Empress's disappearance. And the Cult of the Illuminated isn't helping matters, stirring folk up and preaching about how they should worship Anathema, rather than serve those chosen by the Dragons. Rest assured that it's only a short walk to the palace from here, and the mood will improve the closer you get."

Any sense of danger you might have felt dissipates now that the urchins have had their fun. The general attitude of the citizenry is still hostile, but you all get the feeling that no-one else will try anything so brazen. Even the guards relax a little, as if thinking that the citizens will be satisfied with seeing what happened for the time being.
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
"And this Cult has just been allowed to operate here? Uttering their blasphemy without any consequences?" He asked i. Disbelief. "People do not that come to that conclusion without Anathema and their agents poisoning their minds."

Fel wrinkled his nose at the waste matter that thrown at them. The brown pile of feces and mud didn't disgust him. But the meaning behind it did. Yes... the unrest here was palpable. Larissa made the right call in making sure those guards didn't leave. Who knows what night have happened.

"Why isn't the Wyld Hunt involved? There should be enough shikari here to be investigating every corner and home of this city for evidence of Anathema. " he asked, annoyed that this Cult of the Illuminated situation. A group like that would definitely be behind this unrest. Stoking the flames. Anathema always did try to take advantage of the common people. No, Fel didn't blame the peasants. They didn't know anybetter.
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
"Believe me, blessed one, it's not like we haven't been trying to get rid of them." the captain replies in a weary voice, as the group continue heading towards the palace with a bit more haste than before. "The satrap's had most of us on double-time, searching for them and arresting them when we find them, then violently executing them in the city arena. But it's a bit like trying to get rid of highly intelligent rabbits; you might get some of them initially, but the rest will run off, hide, and before long multiply enough to make up for the lost numbers."

"As for the Wyld Hunt..." he continues. "...begging your pardon, blessed one, but while I might not have been graced by the Dragons or attended one of the secondary schools on the Blessed Isle myself, I do hear and understand things. They say that Anathema have been popping up far more often in the past five years than they ever have before, all over the world. Probably too much for the Wyld Hunt to deal with in good time now. Not to mention that since the Scarlet Empress disappeared, begging your pardon again, the Dynasts all seem to be concentrating their attention on the Blessed Isle. I mean, most of our garrison was sent there, we're being asked to provide bigger and bigger tributes every year, and it's like that in all the nearby satrapies. I wouldn't be surprised if the Wyld Hunt's not getting the kind of support it used to..."
 

Random Word

One Thousand Club
Asuna sighs with the weariness of one who has had to repeat themselves one too many times. "The Empress did not disappear, Captain," Asuna says reproachfully, but with a fire long since cooled to embers, "She is in meditative seclusion in the Imperial Manse, searching for an enlightened truth that will save all our souls." She adds wryly, "We must merely pray we have the wherewithal to save ourselves corporeally while Her Imperial Majesty saves us spiritually." For your future consideration great great grandmama, the first rule of going on a five year bender is leave a note.

"And Fel, don't torment the mortal. You know full well that Xandra and Larissa constitute at least half what's left of the Wyld Hunt, and they can't be everywhere at once."
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
"It is true that the game of politics has put big damper on the Wyld Hunt's respurces. But the amount of support we receive does not change our duty. Even if all we had were sticks and two empty burlap sacks, no dedicated Shikari would ignore a threat to a Satrapry. Not even in the Threshold."


"I'm not tormenting him, Asuna. I'm simply concerned. But you should give us more credit. We may be stretched thin, but we know how to juggle priorities. Thorns was bad enough, but if an Imperial territory falls because of Anathema brainwashing, it would only serve as a rallying call to others of their ilk. All I'm saying is, that Ragara Saitori would be smart to see a squad of Amercers come to quell these troubling rumors. Surely he is organizing such an endeavor as we speak. Anathema can't just be ignored."

It was annoying though. She was right. They couldn't be everywhere. Of all times in this age, it would be now that the Wyld Hunt SHOULD be getting the most support. Sadly that wasn't the case. If only the Empress could return to straighten this out. She would understand its importance.
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
Asuna sighs with the weariness of one who has had to repeat themselves one too many times. "The Empress did not disappear, Captain," Asuna says reproachfully, but with a fire long since cooled to embers, "She is in meditative seclusion in the Imperial Manse, searching for an enlightened truth that will save all our souls." She adds wryly, "We must merely pray we have the wherewithal to save ourselves corporeally while Her Imperial Majesty saves us spiritually."
"Huh." replies the captain, not entirely sounding convinced by Asuna's explanation.

"It is true that the game of politics has put big damper on the Wyld Hunt's respurces. But the amount of support we receive does not change our duty. Even if all we had were sticks and two empty burlap sacks, no dedicated Shikari would ignore a threat to a Satrapry. Not even in the Threshold."

"I'm not tormenting him, Asuna. I'm simply concerned. But you should give us more credit. We may be stretched thin, but we know how to juggle priorities. Thorns was bad enough, but if an Imperial territory falls because of Anathema brainwashing, it would only serve as a rallying call to others of their ilk. All I'm saying is, that Ragara Saitori would be smart to see a squad of Amercers come to quell these troubling rumors. Surely he is organizing such an endeavor as we speak. Anathema can't just be ignored."
The captain gives a shrug of his shoulders. "Satrap Ragara Satori..." he emphasizes the name with a hint of nervousness, as if expecting to be called out for showing up a Dynast "...is a woman, Blessed One."

He doesn't say anything about whether or not Satori is planning such a thing as suggested by Fel. One gets the impression that he doesn't feel he can be too candid about his satrap, even with Dynasts.
 

Rykon

Three Thousand Club
Manato gives Fel a shrug at the mention of supporting the Wyld Hunt. "Sounds to me the ones that need the most support are the little ones here and the various settlers besides. Part of the reason the people on the Isle seem so much more... agreeable, is that they have much more to agree about. Food, wine, schools, and various leisures and escapes that many of us are oh so fond of are actually within sight and reach of the common man. Otherwise the Isle wouldn't be so Blessed to them would it?" He sighs and rolls up his sleeves. "House Ragara it seems could learn a thing or two about investing versus collecting. It may not be our place to press for such policy changes on a strange house's turf, but nothing wrong with stoking the fires in their bellies for a good cause, huh?"

Once the guard carefully offers correction, Manato tries to deflect any potential scolding by stepping forward with another question. "Speaking of the Satrap, perhaps we should hear her side of the story from her own lips?"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Xandra is now on much higher alert, looking around them as they walk. "I wonder, if the children were bait for an ambush. If things are as bad as you say, I wouldn't put it past any rabble-rousers to try and eliminate anyone associated with the satrap and the Empire. Lets go before we do run into a fight that is not just a handful of children throwing . . . stuff . . . at us. I feel very exposed out here."

She then looks over at Larissa. "I have to say, it was the right call to keep the guards from going after the kids. Having soldiers man handing them could be the spark that sets off this tinderbox into full blown flames."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Larissa acknowledges Xandra's comment with a nod. "Thank you. I was just trying my best to do as you said, to keep from causing a riot here. I have no problem with taking to task a criminal or Anathema, but the idea of facing off against an angry crowd trying to defend their children is not what I want to do."
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
The captain offers no further comment in the conversation taking place between the Dynasts as the group continues through the current part of Kandara. They soon come to a steel gate that is flanked by two towers, and set within a wall that seems to encircle an entire district of the city, but they are quickly waved through by the guards on duty there. Stepping through the gate, the five Dynasts are led into a part of the city that is clearly higher class; the houses and establishments are larger and/or nicer, the streets are paved with white stones and flanked with grass and trees, and some residences are small walled compounds.

"This is the Dragon District. Home of the city's bureaucrats, its richest and most important citizens, and of course the satrap and king." explains the captain, a distinctly uneasy edge in his voice when he says that last word. He says nothing more on the matter, and the five Dynasts soon arrive at the largest and most ornate building in the district: the Satrap's palace. It's another walled compound, this one surrounded by a moat running along the outside.

"Here you are, Blessed Ones." says the captain. "I trust that you will be able to get yourselves settled in?"

Assuming no-one says otherwise, he and the other guards will depart, leaving the Dynasts and the porters alone to enter the palace.
 

Rykon

Three Thousand Club
Manato rests a hand on the pommel of his Daiklave with the other holding the strap to a satchel swung over his shoulder. He gives a polite nod for the guards to move along and continue their usual duties. "You trust correctly captain. Hopefully, it will be an easy day from here."

He turns to his traveling companions with a smile and theatrical wave, "Well, ladies first."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Larissa gives Manato a smile. "Thank you, my good man. You are proof that there are still gentlemen in the world."
 

jaydude

Two Thousand Club
The five Dynasts step over a bridge and through a gate in the wall, and enter a set of grounds large enough to hold a talon of Realm legionnaires. A path of white stone slabs lead to the front doors of the palace proper, which is a great stone structure not unlike those of the older mansions and residences on the Blessed Isle.

As you approach the doors, they are pulled open by a pair of servants stood behind them, revealing a grey-haired and slightly plump man in the robes and hat of a high-level servant. He walks up to you and bows low, before standing back up and giving you all obeisant smiles.

"Greetings, and welcome to the city of Kandara, Blessed Ones." he says. "I am Mucao, major-domo to Satrap Satori, and I hope that me and my staff can make your stay here as pleasant as possible."

There is a pleasant smell of incense coming from the open doors of the palace, which is perhaps why the major-domo doesn't notice your own scents until he takes a long sniff, after which he grimaces apologetically. "I heard about the incident on the streets. It's not the first time such a thing has happened." he says. "Perhaps if I were to show you to your rooms? You can get settled in and freshen up as needed, and then I can introduce you to the satrap."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Xandra nods at the major-domo and says, "My thanks. I must confess, this was the first time in my life that someone has dared to do what those street urchins did, and if it were not for calmer heads," she nods over at Larissa, "it could have ended up in a riot out there as the guards worked to chase them down. Does the Satrap really know what's it like out there? Or is she living in a pretty little bubble and has no idea about how bad it is getting?"
 

Random Word

One Thousand Club
Asuna gives Xandra an incredulous look, "Dragons Xandra! There's an art to insulting your hostess. You do it after your rooms are assigned. Are you certain you didn't graduate from Pasiap's Stair?"

"My apologies Mucao. The journey has been long and taxing, and this incident upsetting. Please convey my heartfelt gratitude to Satrap Ragara Satori for the opportunity to refresh myself, and inform her I will attend her at her earliest convenience."

Asuna steps into the estate and allows the servants to guide her to her chambers. I would kill for a bath right now.
 
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