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Trial By Fire - Exalted 2e IC Thread

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Exalted 2.5
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
south-map-overview.png

For some of you, the word of your impending doom at the hands of the Wyld Hunt comes in the form of a strange letter that appears in your pocket, warning you that the Hunt is almost upon you. For others, it comes in the form of an Infallible Messenger, giving you just enough of a head start to get away from the hunters chasing after you. The message gives you a location to meet up with the person that has given you this warning, and when everyone arrives, you are met by a man that gives his name as Niko. With Niko are three other Exalts that he introduces as fellow Solars that have recently Exalted, just like you.

Niko tells you that it is imperative that you get away from the Wyld Hunt, and that he will be in touch with you as time permits.


It is a hot day in the South as our Circle of Solar Exalts travel with a Guild Caravan, trying to keep under cover and stay hidden from the Wyld Hunt. It is mid-afternoon and you are approaching the coastal city of Chiaroscuro. Somewhere in the vast city is the man you are searching for: Dunbar Holst. All that you know about this man is that he's some kind of treasure hunter, and according to your mysterious benefactor, he's found a previously hidden cache of First Age Artifacts that might be useable by you. What you do know is that Holst is a compulsive gambler, and will probably be found in one of the many gambling dens that dot the city.

Both Darian and Aredin have backing with the Guild, so you don't have to worry about paying the caravan master for your time with them. All that the men and women ask of you is to let Darian perform for them, showing off her exquisite talents. It is a rare occasion for the working folks of the caravan to see such a princely performance.

The caravan master thanks the blind woman for giving his crew a memorable journey here, and he tells you that while he is not interested in getting involved with whatever drama you are running from, he will help you to slip away from the caravan without drawing attention to yourselves. With just a little bit of effort, you now find yourselves walking the streets of Chiaroscuro, wondering where to go from here.

What do you do?
 

Rykon

Two Thousand Club
Aredin

"Ah, finally a chance to stretch..." He said with a yawn, raising his arms to help realign his back. "Well, I'm assuming our mark is in a sanctioned guild establishment. Let's hit up the pub and get our bearings." With that suggestion, Aredin would urge the crew to do some light carousing to pick out the specific haunt of our informant and possibly some additional information as leverage.
 

RettieSetGo

Junior Member
Rashid walks along with Aredin, clad in simple travelling robes to hide his armor, with his hair wrapped up in a turban with Taj sitting happily on his shoulder, basking in the heat of the day. "Seems as good a plan as any other, I suppose. Though, I think I'm going to be better suited to keeping a lookout for our would-be pursuers," he says, scanning the crowds arrayed before them as they walk.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Darian is also clad in simple traveling clothes of brown and tan cotton, much different than her usual fancy silks that she is used to. She pulls a hood up over her head to hide her bright white hair that will quickly mark her as a northener. She gives a chuckle at Rashid's comment. "Much better than I can, at least. I have never been this far south before, and so I am not as familiar with the customs of the area. I would hope that you will help keep me from making any social mistakes." She casually reaches out and puts her hand on the shoulder of Aredin, trusting him to help guide her through the crowds. Even with her Essence enhanced hearing, it still gets confusing for her around a bunch of noise. "If we are to start with the local gambling dens, I'm sure that the Guild will have its fingers in the pie to get their fair share of the profits. I know of a man here, named Hettar Dens. He's the Guild Factor here in the city. Perhaps we should start with him? He can probably tell us where to find some of the favored games of this man Dunbar Holst."
 

Rykon

Two Thousand Club
Aredin would take Darian by the hand. "Agreed. Just keep a firm grip in-case we get caught in a dense crowd. Let's see, Hettar Dens... busy guy, but I think we can find his office at the least." Aredin waves to the rest of the group signaling them to follow. "Just warn me if you notice any rough types makin' faces at us Rashiid... oh, and the imperials. I'm sure the usual birds are making notes on our movements already, so we'll have to move quickly." With that, he'd attempt to make his way down the dusty streets while making an effort to avoid close contact with anyone that could be a possible dynast.
 

RettieSetGo

Junior Member
Rashiid nods in agreement, his eyes continuing to scan the crowd as he says, "I trust your judgement, boss. I stand ready." carefully picking out anyone worthy of concern and informing the party surreptitiously so as to avoid calling suspicion to the motley crew. Taj seems to understand the situation as well, craning his long neck around curiously, covering his master's blind spots.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Even in this heat, the streets are teeming with people going about their business. Vendors with their carts line the streets, hawking their wares, trying to convince the unwary buyer of the outstanding quality of the merchandise, much of which is barely passable, but when you have little to spend, beggars can't be choosers.

Despite the fact that Darian is doing her best to keep herself covered up, or perhaps because of it, you are drawing more than your fair share of curious eyes looking at you. Some are probably wondering about the fair skinned northerner and what you are doing so far from home, while others glance your way with idle curiosity at the sight of something new to gawk at.

Aredin is getting a few appreciative glances at him, thanks to his own good looks. The bustling street is old hat for you with your merchant background, and you are used to dealing with crowds like this, able to spot the true quality wares almost at a glance.

Fiehan (or do you prefer Sijip?) stands out a bit, compared to the throngs of underfed people around.

Rashiid draws the least attention of the four of you, seeming to be able to blend in better and vanish into the crowds. With your knowledge of Larceny, you are able to easily spot the occasional pickpocket working through the crowd.

Just as Aredin pointed out, you know that Hettar Dens is a very busy man, and it may take some coins changing hands to be able to make his acquaintance in a short amount of time, even for those with Guild backing. He keeps his offices in a fine mansion on the harbor, since most of the wares he's interested in are coming and going by ship. Makes for a shorter trip for him to go and personally oversee some of the more critical cargo. It will take you about forty five minutes to walk your way through the streets to get there, unless you make any side trips.

Everyone, please give me a Perception + Awareness roll. Also @Psychie, are you going to have your two Awareness Charms up and running? You did not specify that in your post.
 
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Rykon

Two Thousand Club
[Rolling... I have no awareness, and 2 perception so just the 1 success.]
 
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Thief of Words

Archivist for Hire
[Well, I was hoping to get a post in...]

Edit: @Sherwood It feels weird that people aren't noticing what looks rather like a dragonblood or a Dynast.

Or the fact that she's 6'7.

Also, her personal name is Feihan (pronounced fay-han, rhyming with say-con). Cathak is her Great House. Sijip is her branch name, taken from her mother, who is a satrap.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
[Well, I was hoping to get a post in...]

Edit: @Sherwood It feels weird that people aren't noticing what looks rather like a dragonblood or a Dynast.

Or the fact that she's 6'7.
OOC you can post as you like; I was giving general reactions and didn't want to leave you out of it. Also, I didn't know that she was so tall, so yes, you would be getting more of a reaction from the people in the city around you.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Perception and Awareness for Darian. Using Unsurpassed Sense Technique that doubles successes before penalties.

Good thing I was using the Charm.... 4 successes.
 

Thief of Words

Archivist for Hire

Feihan couldn't quite remember why she'd been running when she found the letter. See, she'd just finished off the last of a huge bottle of this really quite cleverly made stout beer, one that mixed in kaffa beans' bitterness, and a smoky under-layer of hot peppers with a teensy dash of, she was pretty sure, actual firedust. She'd just sitting there, just shy of the top of a tall dune, and she'd been fishing through her pack to take out inks, a brush, and a scroll on which to make a note to buy more after she got back to the Lap. Suddenly, an inhuman shriek filled the air just behind her. Dropping her pack, she whirled around to find the space immediately before her filled with the flailing appendages of some huge and monstrous beast.

Being an Immaculate-trained martial artist, she of course knew precisely what to do with screaming, attacking monsters: she beat it to death with her bare hands. She was just starting to feel quite pleased with herself about doing her duty to the Realm when a sudden thunder of cavalry appeared out of nowhere, surrounding her, and some man on foot in quite fetching robes and veils and jewels and such appeared shouting in Firetongue so rapid it was nigh-upon-incomprehensible something about a dead horse.


She'd just set to telling the man that he was welcome for slaying the monster that carried off his now-avenged but still just-as-dead horse, when out of nowhere he attacked her! For no reason whatsoever!
Worse, so did the veiled cavalrymen!

Well, clearly they had been driven mad with grief, so she did her best not to cause lasting harm beyond a few bruises and broken arms. It had, unfortunate madness on their part, been quite a satisfying fight, as the bottle of stout had just managed to hit her system then, and she'd felt the roll and rhythm of her style better than ever she could remember. She felt more alive in that moment than she had in all her 25 years of life.

In fact she felt so good about it, that even the screams about some Anathema or other couldn't phase her. She turned, casting about to find the demon-in-human skin, but could find nothing that fit, though to her wonder, she was surrounded by a roaring bonfire of orange-red flames. She nearly wept with joy! After all these years, Hesiesh had finally seen fit to grace her with Exaltation! And just in time, no less! She was just attempting to explain to shouty horse-riders that she'd be more than happy to help them with their Anathema problem if only they'd calm their grief-stricken friend. After all, grief was one thing, but it was quite rude to suddenly come at a complete stranger with blades a-slashing. Someone could get hurt that way!

She was thrown completely for a loop when the whole group set to attacking her instead. What madness was this? Utterly perplexed, she nonetheless strove to treat them relatively gently. She dismounted them from their horses and scattered the mounts about the dunes, running them off. That accomplished, she turned and, snagging her pack with one arm as she set to skidding down the dune-side, beat a retreat.

It was only later after those who'd opted to chase her on foot rather than try to corral their panicked horses had fallen out of sight beyond the horizon that she finally realized what must have happened.

Clearly, the beast she'd slain at the start of the whole thing was some kind of shapeshifting anathema, one whose fell magics had warped and deluded the poor horsemen into its minions. Well, hopefully they would see their error and be more vigilant in the future. Truly, Creation suffered mightily under the Anathema and its people were fortunate the Immaculates were there to free them from that yoke of madness.

She'd just finished uncorking a gourd-bottle of soju she'd been saving for a special occasion, and what could be more special than Exalting, after all, when she'd found a note placed into her pocket. That was odd in itself, for she'd have sworn that both before and after finding the note, her outfit had not had any pockets in which to find anything, much less correspondence.

Shrugging at the oddity of that, she opened the letter. It was addressed to her, though in a hand that made it hard to make out. Best she could tell, she was being called up for a Wyld Hunt! But she was to keep it quiet. No doubt the monster had been detected by the Eye, and they did not want it to be forewarned. Taking the warning of speed and secrecy to heart, she tore the note to little pieces and washed them down with her soju.

She then set off for the meeting place the note had listed.

Admittedly, the contact had given her an odd look when she'd called him Shikari, but she supposed he was just the Eye agent pointing them in the right direction. He'd even introduced her to other fresh Exalts! It was odd that she couldn't puzzle out their Aspects, but then, few even in the Realm were so evidently marked by the strength of their Terrestrial blood as Fei herself was. The Eye had even been so courteous as to find them space on a caravan for the rest of their trip to Chiaroscuro.

Though she'd wanted to introduce herself to her fellow Hunt members, she couldn't help but remember the caution toward secrecy. Plus, if she was being honest, the realization that she might matter again made her nervous about the impact her typically tactless tongue might make on her House's reputation with the Hunt. Instead, she smiled, nodded, tried to listen, but mostly fretted over how she might explain her Exaltation to Mother and imagined, for just once in her life, getting to see Mother feeling pride over something Feihan had accomplished.

Well, she also admittedly drank. Between the bottle of wine she drank as celebration, offering liberal shares with her fellow travelers, exhaustion from her earlier fights, and a first-in-her-life sense of honest-to-Hesiesh contentment, she'd drifted off into quite the comfortable sleep at some point, the gentle vibrations of the caravan in motion rocking her to her rest.


Woken by the gentle motion of the caravan stopping, Fei yawned mightily and smiled to her companions. Collecting her pack and following the others, she looked around at the wonder of the city about her. Truly, it was a shame that Anathema were evil and bent upon Creation's unmaking. Centuries had stacked upon centuries since many of the old city's buildings had been built, and still buildings stood unperturbed and intact in places. Were only they willing to serve humanity, those demons could have been such a powerful force for good. What the Empress could have made with such might and wonder at her command!

Alas, it was a thing not to be. The Anathema were wicked to a one, and it was the duty of any right-thinking individual, such as herself and her companions, to oppose them utterly and in all they did. Which is why it was so important that they keep a low profile until they could find this Dubnar Holster fellow--she assumed he, rather than Agent Niko, was to be their shikari on this hunt--and get themselves pointed in the right direction without alerting the Anathema to their presence.

Though she knew on some level that it was considered....bad to frequent the public houses as much as she did--it and gambling being Mother's two favorite subjects for the 'Conduct Unbecoming of a Chosen of Hesiesh' speech, well...after Failing to Exalt, which had clearly been the cardinal sin in Mother's mind...but! She'd fixed that error! It'd been delayed, not undone.

With that thought to cheer her, she took her companion's advice and kept her eyes out for a place that seemed liable to have good drinks and good games, sufficient to entertain a Prince of the Earth such as herself or this Drubnar fellow. Odd, that he had a Threshold-styled name, but perhaps it was some sort of elaborate cover-identity. One never knew who the Anathema had in their pockets, after all. Just look at the example of those horsemen from before.


So, she played up her inebriation--in truth her blood only fizzed a slight bit--to explain away the way she peered about at all and sundry like some gawping provincial in the Imperial City.

I'm going to assume that mild inebriation would be a -2 penalty, since that's what marijuana canonically causes, and the two are about as discombobulating. Let me know if that gets ameliorated by a stunt bonus on the check at all, as I'm pretty sure it'd fit with her Signature Style if so.

Perception 3, Awareness 0, -2 penalty for inebriation. Which I think is external, so can't reduce below Essence, so is technically ignored in this instance. Again, unless there's a stunt, in which case it'd probably eat most/all of the stunt dice.

1 Success.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
The Circle moves through the city, enjoying the sights and sounds of the place. The only downside is the heavy heat that is beating down on you. Once you get to the harbor, the cool ocean breeze is a relief to you, dropping the temperature by several degrees. It doesn't take you long to find the manor house that Hettar Dens uses as his offices.

There is a steady stream of people coming and going through the main entrance past the eyes of a pair of bored guards. The two hardly raise an eyebrow as you enter. Inside, it is a busy place. Several offices reside in here, handing out paperwork for various things of interest to the Guild and its Creation-spanning reach. A receptionist is sitting at a circular desk in the middle of the entryway, giving directions to people to send them to the various locations inside the building that they need to go to.

Once you get to the head of the line, the slightly frazzled woman looks up (and up at Feihan) with a worn smile. "How can I help you?"
 

Rykon

Two Thousand Club
Aredin smiles widely as he approaches the desk slowly with a small bow of the head, "My fair lady, I don't wish to take much of your time. My associates and I are newly arrived on business to meet with a contact and I was hoping for some simple directions. The one I'm looking for is a treasure hunter by the name of Dunbar Holst. Problem is, I've no clue where to find the man. If you or your gracious employer have the means to help us get settled in quickly, I would be most grateful."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
The woman at the desk frowns as she thinks. "Dunbar Holst. That name sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before? Hmmm. Let me see." She picks up a remnant of First Age technology; a crystal reader. After tapping at the screen for a few moments, her face lightens up with a pleased look of having found what she was looking for. "Ah! Oh dear. I knew that I had heard that name before. If this is the same man you are searching for, I have bad news for you. He's been locked up in prison for killing a man, and is due to be executed for his crimes in a week. Poor fellow." She doesn't sound very sympathetic when she says that. "Perhaps you can pay your last respects to him before he's hauled off to the gallows."
 

RettieSetGo

Junior Member
Rashiid can't help but chuckle. Both at the lack of sympathy in her voice, and at the thought of breaking someone out of prison. Those are always fun jobs.
 

Thief of Words

Archivist for Hire
From above and behind the other Solars, a faintly smoky scent filled the air and a wave of heat exuded from the now orange-red and glowing hair and eyes of the Dynast. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her hair and eyes returning to their resting black color. Having mastered her temper, Fei reminded herself that discretion was of paramount importance. When she spoke, it was with her ever-present accent--one anyone with any experience with them would instantly recognize as Dynastic. Surprisingly, her words were unslurred despite the subtle sway and shift in her posture moment-to-moment.

"You said crimes, plural? Of what else does the scavenger stand accused and by whom?"

Reaching behind her back to the large pack on her back, she pawed about unseeing for a gourd bottle, passing over three reed-wrapped glass ones, then pulled it up to uncork it with her teeth. Setting the cork in her teeth, she took a long draw of what turned out to be a spice-infused whiskey. Letting out a long, slow breath that sent a cloud of liquor-and-spice-scent drifting over the desk, she offered the little clerk a smile.
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Darian blinked in surprise. Well, we were told that this fellow had a dark fate to him. I suppose its up to us to make a change in it. "You said that he killed a man. What was the circumstances of this? Has he gotten a trial to try and defend himself?"
 

Rykon

Two Thousand Club
Aredin raised a hand to rub at his temples in frustration, though his guard's evident mirth at the situation lightened the annoyance. He paused though to consider his next move. Any further association with this criminal is going to reflect on us... Not too much that can be done about it though. Given Rashiid's humor at this probably best to leave planning to him. Clearing the man of the charges just doesn't feel likely and is likely going to get the hunt on our heels. Aredin steels his resolve to commit to a bust operation, staying silent as his new companions continue their inquiries.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
The woman at the desk gives off a shrug. "I don't know any details, other than what I've heard. Just that he's been arrested and is in prison, waiting for his date with John Stretch the Hangman. I would have to guess that he has had a trail, assuming that he could afford one. Right now, he's being held in the main prison, so if you have anything to say to him, you can go there during visiting hours." She gives another shrug. "That's up to you, of course. Now, is there anything else I can do for you?" She seems ready to be done with the conversation.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Darian shakes her head. "No, I believe we have all the information that we need. Thank you." She nods over towards the front doors, indicating to the others that they should leave. When outside, she says, "Well. That was certainly unexpected. From my point of view, we first have to find out just what happened. Did Dunbar Holst actually kill a man, and if so, why? I say we go to the prison and try to get a visit with him and get some information. Depending on what we learn, we may have to break him out of prison."
 

Rykon

Two Thousand Club
Aredin plops down on a nearby bench, trying to brush some of the dust off his shoulders. He'd lean in to speak so he could minimize potential eavesdropping. "Here's how I see it... If he didn't kill the man, the ones setting him up are committed to seeing him take the fall. We'd be fighting an uphill battle with a combat-hardened lynch mob gaining on us every step of the way. If he did commit the murder, there's no point in trying to prove his innocence. Any public action we take on his behalf puts a target on our backs and we don't even know this man. So the most efficient path in my mind, is a covert breakout with the understanding that he had better spill the whole truth including our target location for the cache. If he's guilty we can deliver the sentence, if that's how you want to play this." Aredin stopped, taking a swig from his canteen as he waited for the group to weigh in.
 

Thief of Words

Archivist for Hire
Fei looked over at the blind woman, raising a brow. "Does it actually matter if he did or didn't? We have our objective and he has information we need to accomplish it. 'Sides," she takes a long pull of her whiskey before continuing, "murder is weird here. Honor duel society that outsiders aren't exempt from. Could be he interfered in an honor duel to save someone from an angry Delzahn, could be he murdered a little old lady in her bed, could be just about anything. An' with no satrap here, it isn't like there's proper justice on offer anyway." Corking the bottle, she looked between the others. "That's not even accounting for the fact that he's probably gonna say he's innocent whether he is or isn't."

She stretched, first one arm, then another before rolling her neck with a series of audible pops. "I mean, I could go throw my weight around, use the family name to get something done, buuuut, well, given my face is one that's been seen with the Hunt before, that'd probably shoot discretion right in its throat."
 

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