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Trial by Fire - IC Thread

Dice System
Exalted 3e
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Random Word

Two Thousand Club
Rory and Spider's interjection breaks Maja's fixation on Mahina, her surprise at seeing the shock in Spider's eyes bleeding away some of the rage swelling inside her. When Bard rebukes her, her rage instinctively redoubles, driving her to thoughts of violent retribution until the enormity of what she's considering dawns on her. Immediately her rage is eclipsed by a growing horror at the notion of hurting someone who has been nothing but kind to her, even having saved her life, and she turns away in shame, unable to bear his calm unyielding gaze. Letting these feelings out was a mistake. Look at what they almost made me - did make me do. They only cause problems and make me feel awful.

Tears well up in her eyes, "Sorry. I didn't mean to... I can't... be here right now." She waves dismissively at Mahina without looking at her, wordlessly saying do as you please, before slipping off the table and giving Kuaidao a glance that says sorry for causing trouble, I need to put myself together before storming off into the Manse to find somewhere to shove these feelings deep down inside her where they won't hurt anyone again.

[Maja will take a Minor Principle of "These feelings only ever hurt the people I care about, and make me feel awful." Next time she'll be reserved and wary around Dynasts because Kuaidao has confirmed they're awful people, but won't fly off the handle or want to kill them.]
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
When Maja leaves the room, most of the building tensions seem to quickly fade away. Mahina gives a faintly sad look as she watches Maja head out, but Milo is still a bit on edge, being the less trusting one of the two. He plants the tip of his Daiklave into the floor and stands there for a moment, then says in a casual tone, "At what point were you going to tell us that you are traveling with Anathema? That by itself is a crime punishable by death in many parts of Creation."

Rory frowns. "Ah, I must say that I don't rightly care for your choice of words, friend."

Mahina starts to say something, but is overridden by her brother. "No! Don't tell me to calm down!" He points his finger at Bard and Spider, saying, "They are both Exalted! You saw what they did to the rock wolves! Then we get here, and there are even more Anathema! You would have us work with these demons!"

Mahina looks at Milo and shouts out, "What would you have me do? Try and kill all of these people? We are only slightly outnumbered here, and you yourself have seen what the Solars can do! And so what if they are Anathema! The artifacts that might still be in this manse can help our House!"

"At what cost? You will have us lay down with these devils!" He then yanks the daiklave from the floor and walks out the front door, slamming the doors open with an angry push. Mahina lets out a sigh, then turns to Bard and Spider. "Please forgive my brother. He is . . . . complicated."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Spider raises up an eyebrow. This Mahina seems to be much more willing to deal with the dreaded Anathema than Milo. But its not like they can just kill off the Dragon Blooded without alienating Mahina, and Bard seems to be putting in a lot of effort in swaying her to a more favorable attitude. She finally says, "Ah, well, he may be complex, but we still have issues. It does raise the question of what your ultimate goals for us will be." At this point, Spider is not bothering to deny their status of being Celestial Exalted.
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
Bard watches Maja leave with a sad frown, and as Milo left, his exit was accompanied by a sigh.

As Mahina tried to apologize for her brother, Bard simply held up a hand and shook his head. "It is forgiven and expected."

The sadness of his frown faded, as he nodded to himself, "No. I think he has things he needs to come to terms with. Milo is a good man, but I put him in a position where he had to choose. His duty, or two he thought was a decent pair. He rightfully felt deceived. And we did him a dishonor. But..." he paused.


"...but. He would not have left you if he did not believe you were safe. Despite him claiming us to be devils, something in him knows that we are not. Right now I believe that is the nature of his duress."


"Also... that really was a martial art I used against the rock wolves."





Bard turned his gaze to Rory. "Rory, was it? I apologize if our introduction did not go smoothly. But I must insist, that whatever offense Milo has or will cause, that you do not bring any harm to him or any of the others. I swore to them that they are under my protection. And I will take whatever steps necessary to keep that promise. So I ask that for now, that you may find it in yourself to turn the other cheek. Please." He asked earnestly.




He looked back at Mahina and Spider. It was a legitimate enough question to ask. Given the revelation, what was Mahina going to do now?
 
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jaydude

Three Thousand Club
Kuaidao had winced at Maja's reaction to the presence of Milo and Mahina, but he supposed such a thing was to be expected from his lover, given her earlier behavior with regard to Dynasts. After watching her go, he turned back to the others, grimacing when Milo left as well. Luckily, Mahina was a bit more willing to trust Celestials for whatever reason, while Bard seemed to have things well in hand with regards to smoothing tensions here.

---

"I'm a bit curious about what your plans are as well." he said to Mahina in Skytongue, not yet wanting her to know that he too could speak High Realm. "I hope you're not expecting us to get involved in any brewing power struggles on the Blessed Isle."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mahina is visibly upset, looking back and forth between the assembled Exalts in the room and the door that through which her brother just stormed his way out of. Finally, she lets out a sigh and makes her way over to one of the many stone benches that line the walls and slowly sits down. She says, "My men have been hiking through this snow for a long time, and could use some time to get some food in them and some rest. Is there somewhere that they can do so in here?"

The Curator nods. "Yes, Noble Exalt. If you wish, I can escort them to the dining hall where they can prepare something to eat. I regret to say that there is little that is suitable to eat left here in the fortress after all this time."

"Yes, that would be good. Pygar? Follow this . . . man. Take care of the men. I have much to discuss with these others."

The soldier she addresses nods. "As you wish, M'Lady." To the others, he says, "You heard the Lady. Grab those bags and move out!" They then shuffle their way out of the main hall after the Curator, leaving you alone with Mahina.

She looks over at the group and says, "You are all . . . Exalted . . . aren't you? That is the only thing that makes any sense right now."
 
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jaydude

Three Thousand Club
The Dawn Caste stepped forward. "I most certainly am." he said in Skytongue, the unspoken dialogue being that he wasn't going to out anyone else. "I am Kuaidao of the Blessed Isle, a Dawn Caste Solar. Or as you might have been taught to see me, one of the Forsaken."

He kept his manner calm, not wanting to give off the impression of a bloodthirsty Anathema here.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Spider looks over at the distraught woman and adds, "And I am one of the Exalted also, blessed by Luna as one of her Chosen." She has the desire to go and sit with Mahina, but doesn't want to push her too much at this delicate time.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mahina lets out a choked sob as she looks around at everyone, seeing even Rory give a nod, signaling that he's one of the mighty Exalted, too. Burying her face in her hands, and as she cries, she can barely be heard saying, "Oh, great Dragons! I could be put to death if the Order ever finds out about this! Milo too! And all my people. We are all doomed."

Rory lets out a chuckle. "Join the club, lassie. We are all on the Immaculate Order's hit list, for one reason or another. It doesn't stop us from continuing on with our lives, and working to make sure that the future holds promise for the people of Creation and not gloom and despair. You could do much worse than to throw your lot in with us and work for that better future."

She doesn't have a chance to respond before the front doors once more open up, and a familiar woman comes walking in. It is Melinda, your Sidereal freind. She stomps her feet to try and knock the snow off of her boots and says, "Brrrr! It is colder than a Deathlords tit out there! Damn!" Finally looking up, she sees that everyone is in the foyer, looking at her. With an indignant expression, Melinda says, "Well, it is what I've heard. Ah! Rory! Good to see that you made it in such good time! And I see that you have been introduced to everyone. Good." Turning to look at the crying Mahina, the Sidereal then turns back to the Celestial Exalts in the room and asks, "What is going on here?"
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
Mahina lets out a choked sob as she looks around at everyone, seeing even Rory give a nod, signaling that he's one of the mighty Exalted, too. Burying her face in her hands, and as she cries, she can barely be heard saying, "Oh, great Dragons! I could be put to death if the Order ever finds out about this! Milo too! And all my people. We are all doomed."

Rory lets out a chuckle. "Join the club, lassie. We are all on the Immaculate Order's hit list, for one reason or another. It doesn't stop us from continuing on with our lives, and working to make sure that the future holds promise for the people of Creation and not gloom and despair. You could do much worse than to throw your lot in with us and work for that better future."

She doesn't have a chance to respond before the front doors once more open up, and a familiar woman comes walking in. It is Melinda, your Sidereal freind. She stomps her feet to try and knock the snow off of her boots and says, "Brrrr! It is colder than a Deathlords tit out there! Damn!" Finally looking up, she sees that everyone is in the foyer, looking at her. With an indignant expression, Melinda says, "Well, it is what I've heard. Ah! Rory! Good to see that you made it in such good time! And I see that you have been introduced to everyone. Good." Turning to look at the crying Mahina, the Sidereal then turns back to the Celestial Exalts in the room and asks, "What is going on here?"
Bard stepped forward and put a hand on Mahina's shoulder.

"Do not feel such fears. Nothing of the sort will happen to you or your brother. Nor your people. You knew not what you were getting into. You knew not the nature of this manor. And while you were warned of its dangers, you could not have imagined this. But you have not betrayed anyone. And you have done nothing of fault. Remember, you are only here as a witness. You do not have to work with us. And that they would condemn you for that speaks volumes." Bard told her. "Regardless of what you choose, I have already tied myself to your good fortune. Anybody who wishes to harm you will have to go through me. But before that, they would need to learn of it. And that doesn't need to happen."

[I would like to inspire comfort in Mahina, to calm down and know that everything will be okay because Bard will be there. Pulling on her major intimacy of affection for Bard. Stunting, too]

6 successes





"Ah! The woman of the hour!" Bard exclaims as Melinda arrives. He looked back to Mahina. "I suppose it is your turn to be introduced. This is Mahina, and her brother Milo is walking the grounds, both are Terrestrials of the Realm. But they are both of good heart. And I brought them here, because it is only right for Prince's of Earth to be represented in this threat to creation you have yet to reveal."

"They came to do a study of this manor, to learn and loot from an ancient ruin. They are also the ones who hired us in Wranglers Knob. So do treat them kindly, please."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Over the next several hours, things slowly calm down inside the Invisible Fortress. Milo finally comes in from out of the cold but doesn't do much more than glare at everyone, even his sister as she tries to comfort him. She spends her time with him, trying to ease his temper and sway his thinking to be at ease with the fact that they have all of these Anathema in one spot.

As that is going on, Melinda gathers everyone (besides Mahina and Milo) together to share with you what she's done while she was away. "I have made some inroads and pulled in some favors with the various spirits and gods to try and get some celestial allies. Not nearly as many came to our aid as I would like, but at least a few have said that they plan on showing up when it all hits the fan. After doing some digging into the Loom of Fate, I have a lead on where our troubles might be showing their ugly faces. It is going to be some threat from up here in the north, giving us at least the advantage of not having to race across Creation to confront our foes."

"I have a strong suspicion of just what kind of threat it is that we are dealing with. I think it is one or more of the Deathlords slinging their weight around and trying to make some trouble. We may be facing off against an army of the dead shortly."

Rory gives off a snort. "Ey, lass. It matters not to me. I fully plan on being on the front lines against that lot to keep my lands safe. But in the meantime, despite the good work of Kuaidao and Maja to slow the advance of the Dynasts in the pass, we may be dealing with several hundred skilled troops and an unknown number of Dragon Blooded that have a chip on their shoulders and are looking for a fight. What are we going to do about them?"

D. Rex D. Rex Random Word Random Word Psychie Psychie jaydude jaydude
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Spider rolls her eyes. "An army of the dead? That figures. I'm with Rory on this one, though. One way or the other, we'll deal with it. Now, our large friend does make a good point. I don't know how many of the Dynast force is left over, but there is undoubtedly a few hundred mortals and some Exalts in their group. The mortals, while troublesome, are less of a concern to me than the Dragon Blooded. What is the plan here? Shall we gather up the imps and make a full on attack, let them come to us and have the imps attack from the rear as we hold the Fortress ourselves, or something completely different?"
 

Random Word

Two Thousand Club
Maja takes one last deep breath, holding the warmth of the sauna in her lungs before releasing it slowly and letting her eyes flutter open. Re-centred and the bundle of rage firmly sealed up in its little box once again, she rises and steps out into the changing area, clasping the golden collar around her neck and shivering slightly as all of the sweat she's built up is wicked away in an instant. That was so weird. She admires herself in the full length mirror for a moment, turning from side to side - and did her reflection just wink at her? No, she doesn't have anything left to deal with that today. It didn't happen. - until she notes with surprise there's a new gem in her spine. Is that going to keep happening? Are they multiplying? How many can fit? She isn't going to turn entirely into gemstones, is she? This one is really pretty, though, and somehow it feels more hers than any of the others. It doesn't look like any gem she's ever seen before. Eventually she shrugs. This is yet another thing she can't deal with today. She concentrates for a moment and her clothing materializes in a soft shimmer of silver light, then nods with satisfaction at her appearance and sets out for the main entrance hall.

She sits beside Kuaidao's chair in time for Melinda's story time, calm but subdued, avoiding eye contact with everyone else. She takes his hand in hers and nuzzles it with her cheek, "Hi. I'm feeling better."

When Rory mentions her contribution to delaying the enemy she recoils as if struck and looks down at the floor. "Can I volunteer for the dead part? I like that better. It sounds... simple."
 

jaydude

Three Thousand Club
Kuaidao had changed into a green robe with golden trim that he'd found in his bedroom. He'd removed his helmet, allowing his shoulder-length black hair to flow freely, and he had Guardian Host in a scabbard worn on his hip. As Maja took hold of his hand and rubbed her cheek against it, he turned and smiled at her, giving the Lunar a bit more attention than the current discussion, at least for the time being.

He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder when he saw her reaction to Rory's words, guessing that she was still torn up over what she'd done in the pass. Soon enough though, he focused his attention back on the ongoing discussion.

"We'll all join the fight against this army of the dead. But at the moment, this Sesus scion and his forces are the more immediate threat." he said. "I've expressed my opinions on this matter before. If we are to engage them in a prolonged battle, we should do so from the walls of this fortress, where we'll hold the advantage. But at the same time, we and the imps should take what chances we can to harass and weaken our enemy as they approach, using the network of underground tunnels within this area to move unseen and facilitate ambushes."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Spider suddenly perks up and looks out the hall towards the pair of Milo and Mahina. "Say! Hey Bard, didn't they say that Milo has had experience in fighting the Deathknights before? We may be able to get him and his sister on our side with this information."
 

jaydude

Three Thousand Club
"Having a common enemy certainly never hurt anybody." said Kuaidao, giving Spider an approving look before directing his attention to Bard. "You think you can win them over with that?"

He then looked at Melinda as a thought occurred to him. "Speaking of, do you have any idea or estimate of how much time we have before this Deathlord makes their play? You said shortly, but are we talking weeks? Months? Years?"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Spider nods. "If there is anyone that can talk Milo into working with us, even a little bit, it's Bard. He can sell snow to an Ice Court Fae. Just let him go to work."

D. Rex D. Rex
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
He then looked at Melinda as a thought occurred to him. "Speaking of, do you have any idea or estimate of how much time we have before this Deathlord makes their play? You said shortly, but are we talking weeks? Months? Years?"
She looks over at Kuaidao and says, "I suspect it is only a matter of months, probably less than a year, before we see the start of this attack. The best thing we can do is to start making a plan as to how to fight back."
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
Spider nods. "If there is anyone that can talk Milo into working with us, even a little bit, it's Bard. He can sell snow to an Ice Court Fae. Just let him go to work."

D. Rex D. Rex
Bard shook his head. "If these Deathlords are our target. Yes, I probably could. But I will not ask the man to join us while we go about fighting his brethren. Fighting this army will just go to enforce their ideas about what we are. Butchers. Warmonger. Troublemakers."

The white haired man began patting his robes, trying to find a cigar he could have sworn that he had. "Sesus is of little consequence to our ultimate goal. These Deathlords are. So ask yourselves this, why should we even fight them? If the answer is that because they are coming our direction, then that is a poor answer."


Finally he found it, and brought out the dry brown cylinder, putting it under his nose to enjoy the scent of its spiced tobacco for just a moment. He then used it to gesture at the other exalts. "As much as it pains me to say this, this fortress is of little use to us unless the Deathlords are literally near by. We should take the important contents, and abandon it to the Realm, that is a better alternative to open bloodshed that does not serve our cause of destroying these necrotic anathema."

Bard took a moment to light his cigar on a nearby torch, "While I am confident that we could fight back the army. Or just scare them away. What then? They will be back with greater numbers knowing that anathema are housed here. And the imps, who have trusted their wellbeing to me, will have spilled their blood in vain."


Smoking in his stogey, Bard held up one finger, "Of the wiser solutions, I have proposed one. We withdraw to avoid the realms inconvenience. Other, more risky options, would be to give the manor to Milo and Mahina, and trust that they can keep our secret while we hide and Sesus army passes us by. Or we take a long shot and try to convince the Sesus army to join us against the Deathlords."
 

jaydude

Three Thousand Club
Kuaidao looked at the Zenith. "I don't want to abandon this fortress either, but you may have a point there, Bard." he admitted, grimacing a little as he said those words. "I mean, we all saw how Milo and Mahina handled just being around us. Who's to say we can count on them being willing to fight on our side right now?"

He didn't bother mentioning the current political climate on the Blessed Isle. Bard was as much a former Realm citizen as he was, so Kuaidao was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he'd already considered that.

Well, Maja, looks like you're going to get your wish of me staying out of harm's way.
 

Random Word

Two Thousand Club
Maja's big fluffy ears perk up immediately at the mention of leaving the fortress behind. She squeezes Kuaidao's hand reassuringly when he tentatively supports the idea. But then... if we're going to leave... what did you kill those kids for? She feels hot tears welling up in her eyes and rushes to wipe them away. And now you're crying. Again. If you had more of a spine, maybe they would still be alive, and we would already be gone.
 

jaydude

Three Thousand Club
"What's wrong, Maja?" asked Kuaidao, his features shifting into an expression of concern as he looked at his lover.
 

Random Word

Two Thousand Club
She looks up at him and smiles slightly. "Sorry. I'm just relieved we're leaving. I was scared," she lies smoothly as she wipes away another tear. When did you become so good at that? Great, the Spirits chose you and you've gained the great and terrible power to hurt and deceive everyone you love. Ugh, for Spirit's sake pull yourself together. Your family would be ashamed of you. Only you could find a way to be upset about being made into a legendary hero. I refuse to be a burden. I just have to find something useful that I'm good at. "Thank you," she adds, warmth creeping into her smile as she kisses the back of his hand.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
At the thought of not attacking the Dynast force, Rory looks disappointed. "Ah, I had my heart set on sending a few of those Dragon Blooded pricks to the Underworld with my sword here, but if it turns out that it is best to leave this place," he looks around a the halls, "I am fine with that. Its not like I have any close ties to this place. I would just like to have an idea on what the plan is. Do we fight, or do we run? Either way, we are running out of time to make that call before the Dynasts are here."
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
"Be it as it may," Bard said to Rory, "They are not the enemy right now. And if being a prick was justification for eradication then I would have suffered defenestration much more often than I already have."

"No my new friend, let us remember that we are above this sort feud. Their culture needs not define our actions any more than it needs to define theirs. And should these Deathlords be as dire a threat as Mahina predicts, then we should expect that we will have terrestrials among our ranks when time comes to send them back from where they came. And there... there your sword will will get the chance to kill death itself.."


"Kuaidao, I trust both of them to do what they feel is right. But doing such things would be too far for them, and we could not rightly ask them to do such things. It would be unfair of us.

Sherwood Sherwood
Leaving his cigar on his mouth,he clasped his hands behind his back, "Kal Bax." The dynast called to summon the ghost, "Should we retreat, get me an inventory of what would be the most dangerous to leave behind for the Realm. Also see if you can locate any notes Kal Bax may have kept regarding his summoning of these imps. If you have wagons or other such modes..."


Bard paused... "Wasn't there... Ah-HA!" He exclaimed, ripping the cigar from his mouth,"The folding land ship! That will do perfectly! We can have the imps load up. gather our small army of mischievous minions and head out."
 

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