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Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult

The West

a part of Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult, by Wake.

A vast expanse of Ocean that stretches into infinity, broken only by scattered islands that grow fewer the farther one goes. Many myths tell of what lies beyond it, but few that venture that far return.

Wake holds sovereignty over The West, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/exalted

The West is a part of Creation.

There are no Places in The West.

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The Western ocean is the largest body of water in all of the known world, stretching for thousands of miles in all directions. The Great Island Chain in the furthest west is the last bastion of civilization before it all gives way to nothing but open seas.

The Wavecrest Archipelago is probably what about half the people in Creation think of when they think of living in the West. It’s tropical, its people are generally peaceful, and it is a wealthy tourist nation on a verdant volcanic isle. However, the leader, the Feathered One, keeps his position by feeding criminals to the volcano god when he grows angry, and of course the archipelago’s riches are not unenvied by others. While it appears idyllic, like all other directions, Wavecrest has its own problems.

The Neck is more provincial, a chain of islands loyal to the Realm where tribal inhabitants survive by fishingg and kelp gathering. They are relatively unspectacular, but they live on a treasure trove of ancient lore. Once, their islands were part of a larger continent called Okeanos. Though they do not realize it, they are living amidst the ruins of First Age glory.

The Coral Archipelago is what the other half of Creation imagines when they consider the West. They are a pirate nation, thinly disguised as merchants. While they bear nominal loyalty to the Realm, theirs is an economy based on thievery and nautical bullying. They believe in excellence winning out over weakness, and to them, the weak cannot protect their belongings.

The Denzik Merchants are actually merchants, a single floating city built by lashing the hulls of ships together, over and over, until it was large enough to support a culture. They sail around the West, taking on and budding off ships to spread their sails (and sales) to all the cultures of Creation. If you need some commodity in the West, the Denzik can find it.

The Skullstone Archipelago is a shadowland in the northwest, ruled by the Silver Prince. It is a necrocracy, where the dead rule and the living are second-class citizens. Unbeknownst to the people of Skullstone, their ruler is actually the Deathlord known as the Bodhissatva Anointed by Dark Water, and his “idyllic” necropolis is actually covering up a darker secret.

The Lintha are less a nation and more a rapacious culture based in the southwest. Accurately decribed as “demon-worshipping, cannibalistic, castration-happy slaver pirates,” they are the descendents of Kimbery, the Sea that Marched against the Flame, one of the Yozis. They raid and pillage in the southwest, led by the chosen of their demonic mother, seeking to regain the purity of their past.

Finally, Luthe was once a magnificent First Age city that floated atop the ocean, until the Usurpation came. The Solar in charge of Luthe chose to sink it, destroying herself, her subjects, and the assassins who came for her, dropping Luthe to the ocean’s floor. However, some of her people survived, and in time bred with beastmen to make a city of wondrous splendor. However, it is still guarded by Admiral Leviathan, the First Age Lunar who loved the queen of Luthe, and woe betide trespassers to his watery domain.

The region has been plagued for centuries by disorder. Pirates frequently patrol these waters, sometime even sponsored by powerful nations that vie for what scarce resources the islands can produce and making privatering a respected position among many in the west. Some, particularly the dredded Lintha Family Syndicate, even going so far as to defy the realm.

Local spirit courts are horribly mismanaged and fraught with infighting and corruption, likely the worst case in all of the five terrestrial regions. Special note must be made of the Storm Mothers in this case who dominate many the waterways. Known for their vanity and short tempers, they grow wrathful whenever they witness a woman more beautiful than they sailing their waters and unleash their fury on any boat carrying such pretties on their decks, which may well be all women for the Storm Mothers are universally hideously ugly. Subjected to this for so many centuries, many cultures here have adapted rigged gender roles to allay the Storm Mother' wrath.

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Character Portrait: The Storyteller
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One the moonlit sea a single boat drifted against the currents. Behind it, an ethereal wind pushed it along as it cut through the water with surprising swiftness and ease. The ship did not rock or sway as it traveled, for the sea had stilled itself at the coming of it's passing and the breeze, though fierce in its sails, remained constant in it's force for the spirits of the water and air knew well who this boat belonged to and dared not impede it's passage. Nay, in waves beneath it vaguely humanoid shapes writhed in the sea, pushing back any turbulent currents that bared the way.

The Vessel itself was a splendid construction. It's hull was constructed of ivory and birch-wood; it's nails were were silver, and it's sails of white silk. It's interior was no less luxurious, with its polished wooden walls featuring a multitude of tiny engravings of sea creature and holding several small cabins, enough space to comfortably fit ten people. Oddly it featured no crew aboard. It only carried a small group of passengers that it had acquired one by one through out the night, appearing from the mist at one port to collect one and then passing through the fog again to reach an entirely different pier mere moments later. Sometimes it would be in an entirely different point of creation. Each time the first thing they would see, was a strange cloaked figure at the helm, inhumanly tall with long tendrils peeking out from under his robe to claps at the ships wheel.

It would say nothing to them as they came aboard. Merely it would check that they held the scroll that held their invitation, nod, then bade them aboard before returning to the wheel. It did not speak for the first time until the last of it's occupants stepped aboard. When it did it's voice was raspy and wet sounding, like the spray of salt water hitting against the rocks.

"It will be some time before we arrive. Make yourselves comfortable. It would not be proper for you to appear before Lord Fakharu in an unpresentable manner."

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Character Portrait: The Storyteller Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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The last occupant stepped aboard, a Deathknight formerly known as Dresden, a ghostly pale man dressed in all black armor, reeking of funeral unguents, and holding a chain that was attached to a metal collar around a human male. Only a few short minutes after he did, the Caste mark above his brow brought forth the ire of one of the boat's occupants. Upon seeing his caste mark, Astrid stopped admiring the handiwork of the boat, taking her fingers from where they had been ran along the engraving. She stood from her seat, angrily striding over to The Artisan That Which Souls Cling.

Growling, her anima beginning to flicker and Caste mark becoming evident, as she assumed one of her True Forms. A hulking cross between human and tiger, with some features akin to that of a serpent. "Deathknight." Her eyes burned with malice, as she stepped forward. "You die now."

The Deathknight, recoiled, whimpering as he produced a small honeycombed piece of white jade that made an angry buzzing noise. "S-stay back. I'll use this!" He stepped back a few feet, his back hitting the bow of the boat. "G-guys? A little help here!? The invitation didn't mention psychotic Lunars!"

The 'psychotic Lunar' turned back to the cloaked figure, demanding answers. "What, Is HE doing here? How am I supposed to make myself comfortable with this, FILTH, on the same vessel as me. A servant of the Neverborn, within claw's reach, give me one reason I shouldn't gut him right now!" Astrid spat out, with hatred, eyeing the Artisan. She truly despised Deathknights, and for good reason.

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Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Ashen Sky had been checking the rigging of the boat. It had been a bit of a wonder to him that they sails seemed to adjust themselves of their own accord. The first thought he had had when stepping aboard this ship was that it had been too long since he been at sea. The sight of sails and oars and a mast had been almost nostalgic to him. The second thought had been how immaculate the vessel was. Even the ropes seemed to be made of silk, to say nothing of the decorations along it's walls and it's rails. This seemed more like the luxury yacht you'd suspect to see putting about carrying a realm dynast with little sense aboard, and some bloke had sent it to sea just to ferry them. It really raised a question in him mind of what kind of person this Fakharu person was that he'd send it so far just for help. And that he'd send it for HIM of all people. He hadn't been a chosen of Luna long, but since is second breath he had apparently gained a lot of attention on himself rather quickly.

Well, him and others. He wasn't blind to the fact that a sizable crew had been assembled for this venture that they were being asked to aid with. All of them apparently exalted if they had the same letter as he. And as what appeared to be the last of their assembled party boarded the shouting had started. And here came the third thought to go through his mind as he turned to the irate northern woman, spontaneously taking the form of a beast that marked her as a fellow lunar, who was screaming at another man in a ghastly ensemble. Just the general look of the man reminded him immediately of the sailors of skull stone. And though he had no love for the men of that collection black islets. He let out an exasperated sigh and started walking forward to get between the two. And as he did so he muttered under his breath something about 'not taking tha womenfolk out ta sea.' The... creature at the back of the ship stirred at the growing confrontation, and it's tendrils seemed to grow a foot or so longer, but it stopped as Ashen Sky started making his toward the Duo.

Stepping behind the large warform of the now taller lunar, he coughed slightly to get her attention. "Miss'm," He started in a accented form of river speak. "There are a number of things I don't be liking about this 'er voyage that keep me from bein' comfortable. Personally, out 'ere in tha west it's considered invitin' ill fortune to bring..." He stopped and looked the massive tiger woman up and down and decided to think about what he was going to say next before he invoked the other lunars wrath on him instead. "Well, folks like yer self lets say, out to open sea like this. And while I are not happy with some arrangements I am willing to put em pass me for the time being, since it ain't OUR issues that we been called upon to help sort out. Now If I might ask ye here an now what nature of your grudge with this er man is before ye start a brawl with 'em on ship?" Subtly he was playing up his own his own accent for the short term, inserting a few bits of sea tongue into his High Realm. The idea was to make her pause and try to decipher his speech a bit, a tactic he used before to get someone to shut up and listen to him in the past. And as he spoke, he subtly activated EMOTION SHAPING TECHNIQUE, allowing the essence to flow through his mangled words and try to instill a sense of relaxation into her mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Calliope was one of the first aboard the vessel. The ghostly evening seemed to whisper spells and enchantments. The comfortable breeze caressedher face, and brush her long, ivory hair behind her shoulder. She admired the vehicle which carried her 'cross the lurching waters. The boat cradled them; protectively -- substantially, although, the shifting of the boat felt unnatural beneath her armored feet. There was a rhythm to the rock of it. It was predictable, rather than random. Calliope's black robes crisply folded beneath her on the seat which she sat, and in the dim light of the evening, her skin seemed to radiate. Her hands were folded precisely on her lap, and her composure was stately and confident.

Calliope sat furthest from the majority of the group, which was not saying much since most of the passengers had spread themselves out over the length of the trip. Still, she had secluded herself in the most isolated corner she could find. It was not for any reason other than her overwhelming disinterest in the other Exalted individuals. Her eyes were fixed hundreds of yards in the distance, unchanging. The gold beneath her pupils caught the fire light from time to time, shimmering. Her deceptively soft facial features, were chiseled into distinguished focus. She was meditating, only it didn't appear relaxed. Calliope had discovered that she could preserve her energy if she maintained focus for long periods of time. This was what she had chosen to do with her time.

It was the timbre of raised voices that eventually drew her attention. From a few glances, she observed the characters in question. It started with the boarding of the gaunt looking man. While his demeanor was meek and cowardly, there was something about his presence that upset the dynamic of the boat. But it was the dark-haired creature that ignited the hostility. She was rugged and unyielding. She oozed trouble. Calliope noted that Astrid's impulsive dimness posed to be dangerous. Not soon after the mediator stepped in, he spoke with the tongue of a bog dweller. Well travelled. Manipulative. A potential peace-keeper.

Calliope could feel the whispers in the wind pick up speed as this 'Ashen' spoke. She submerged herself back into deep focus, this time, closing her eyes. She could feel the sea-like current of his monologue flow smoothly from his lips. Only when she had slipped back into mediation could she smell the enchantment this character was casting on the boat. It worked. It soothed her. And she resisted. She cared not for the trickery of synthetic-empathy. She wished to keep her mind clear of spell-bound pollution. Calliope inhaled deeply as she felt the energy of the boat rise and settle. She forgot the whole of them, and emptied her mind, preparing for the heavy task ahead of them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Among all the passangers was the one who got on just before these this latest arrival, the youngest of them all and seemingly the most carefree of the group. A bit shorter then average, he was currently resting at the highest point in the ship, watching the sky with a calm and cheerful expression. It looked like he had absolutely no cares in the world, even though he recieved that letter, probably from some advice his father once gave him.

"Don't worry about not being able to do everything. So long as you keep your spirit pure, your feet fast, and your will strong, its more then enough".

And so, with his boots currently attached to the pack on his side, he kept that in mind even as he heard people scurry below. He had already explored every inch of this ship, twice, including everyone's personal rooms occupied or no. Not out of paranoia or snooping but purehearted curiosity. As for why he was barefoot at the moment, and not wearing his boots...

Well, once he heard the scuffle down below, he figured something interesting had happened. And so, he jumped out of the nest on top of the main mast, and landed on the floor below. That was the reason he was not wearing his boots right now, well that and he was relaxing and being comfortable not having to deal with shoes. But it was also because he didn't want to risk damaging the boat, if he landed while wearing those specific boots. Right now, he was just wearing a sleeveless shirt and some long shorts, his legs looking wimpy but given the height he fell like it was nothing, was also clearly an Exalt.

He then looked towards the group of people with a tilted head.

"Is this what other people outside of my area are usually like? You all seem kinda silly to me. First off, mister, you shouldn't wear metal armor on a boat. If you go overboard, you would drown before you got it off ya know?"

There was no formality in Ioa's voice, and he spoke in an entirely casual tone.

"And also, miss...whats a Death Knight? It doesn't sound nice, but he doesn't really look like he could harm a fly. Just, if he tried to back up any further, he might drown and hit a fish".

And then, Ioa finally turned to Ashen, this energetic ball of light having an innocent face and a curious gaze.

"And by the way...what did you mean by what you said earlier? About not taking womenfolk out to sea or something? I mean, why call them womenfolk, it seems a strange way to say it..."

If Ioa had been a normal human, or if the boat was noisier, he might not have heard it. But one of Ioa's specialties was enhanced senses, and since he had gone up there without telling anyone or making any noise, it was likely that only the operator of the boat knew he was there, and within ear range to hear Ashen's muttering.

Well, it would have been a different story if the winds and weather were more violent though.

"After all, I actually met an entire female crew once. And one time, when coming out of the tavern, I saw this drunk guy try to grab one of them, and even though he was like, this huge guy three times her size, she threw him over her shoulder like it was nothing! It was really cool!"

At that point (even though he had snooped through their rooms already), Ioa realized he still had not introduced himself.

"Oh, sorry!" he said, lightly tapping his knuckle to the side of his head. "Dad is always saying I should try to remember manners. My name is Ioa, its super nice to meet all of you! Oh, oh! Before I forget!"

And then, his bare feet hammering against the well made floor boards with enough force to make them possibly feel like the ship was shaking, he ran over to the one who was piloting their boat. His demeanour seemed more casual and joking then serious, a lighthearted and honest boy with kindness and carefree nature.

"Sorry Captain! I should have introduced myself to you as well! Ioa, reporting for duty on this mission!" he said, giving a playful salute using the wrong hand. And then, his curiosity took over again. "By the way, what wood is this? Is this not common from where I am from? My father was a craftsman, so I thought I had seen every type of wood imaginable. But this is elegant and well made, so I was curious! It really is nice wood, I can tell by the way it feels when I walk on it....oh!"

Looking back at the captain, in a continueing non-stop chain of energy, Ioa looked back at the group while also paying attention to the captain.

"Hey, if this person is this influential and powerful, should we bathe before we get there! Dad always says its bad to not bathe before an important meeting with someone, and we are all probably a bit smelly from traveling!"

Not even paying attention to the fact he was talking to girls of the group as well, Ioa honestly asked that while showing no tact at all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Another Lunar stepped up, trying to play the intemediary between Astrid and her hated foes. Something about his tone seemed condescending, but she simply couldn't place it. Was he perhaps, insulting her because she was a Northerner, or was it something more. Certain words were overly mangled, and she decided to ignore them altogether. "This man's a servant of the Neverborn! Are you kidding me!? People like him killed Mila! And here, I'm supposed to listen to Nain-Ya about who I should and should NOT kill." She grit her teeth, uncertain about her course of action, but feeling strangely calm.

The man's words seemed to calm the angry Chimera. Nodding frantically, he tried his best to convince Astrid of his innocence. "W-what he said! This whole situations a craps-shoot, but I'm not your enemy here. Deathlords all hate each other, whoever killed your Mila, ch-chances are I hate them as much as you do!" The piece of jade continued to buzz angrily, waiting for the Deathknight to call its inhabitants forth. He was suddenly starting to regret not insisting on finding a way to bring his War Machines with him. Full Moons weren't to be trifled with, especially not one in a Beastman transformation.

The Lunar girl let a low growl loose, calming down but with an ugly taste in her mouth. She spat on the ground, expressing her distaste, but suddenly feeling much less like she needs to gut the pale worm. "Fine!" Turning around she stared at her fellow Lunar. He hadn't been mentioned at the last Tlak, meaning he was probably new. Expending Essence, her tattoos marking victories and losses began to shine and silvery flames seemed to envelop her. At the same time, she gave him a long look, attempting to discern who he was.

After a long moment, she reached out a clawed hand and rubbed her fellow Lunar's head, feeling his ears. "Ah..." A long bit of scrutiny revealed his tell, "You're Ashen Sky, I've heard of you from the Elders... I'm Astrid Grunewald." Turning back to the Deathknight, a flick of her tail expressed her displeasure, and she morphed into a small houescat with ferociously noticeable fangs. Tiny paws padded away from the two, joining the meditative woman and curling up on her lap.

The Deathknight sighed, thankful to not have been torn apart when he was most vulnerable. With a smile he addressed the newcomer in the common tongue. "Thanks... No clue what her issue was, I swear we've never met. I'm The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, nice to meet you." His features were warm and kindly, but his Caste mark betrayed a visceral nature. He put away the angry piece of Jade which his fingers clenched to as if life depended on it. "I owe you one," he said as he extended a hand in greeting.

A younger male also came to greet Artisan, and as it seemed the Deathknight would need all the friends he could get, he politely answered. "I rarely take my armor off, it leaves too much to chance. However I did contract a ghost to catch me should I fall overboard, in preparation for this journey. I am The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, nice to meet you Ioa." He then gestured to the shackled man behind him, "And this is one of my pets, he has no name." Artisan handed the slave a bag and told him to, "Take these to my room and prepare it for me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: The Storyteller Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Ashen Sky felt his jaw tighten as the larger lunar made reference to his low standing in the silver pact. He was still new to the life of a lunar, and most of his accomplishments thus far had been in the process of simple self preservation and thus the matter of his lack of 'face' among his peers was a sticking point for him. Thankfully his sense of self control prevent him from baring his teeth in the process of calming her down, as he waited for his charm to take effect. Though that matter wasn't help by some runt kid babbling to everyone in the background.

His patience was rewarded when the older lunar seemed to deflate in her anger, his magic appearing to take effect of her. Idly he took note of her lack of resistance to it for later as she spat the last of her waning ire out on the deck. Then she looked at him; her eyes trailing up and down his figure and he resisted the urge to flinch or pull back from her scrutiny for he knew a sign of weakness would likely mar him in her eyes. Then her anima began to flair and the moonsilver tattoo's on her body began moving across her skin. He tensed as she reached her hand out towards his head, and quietly his free hand drifted to the hilt of the rapier hanging at his side.

Then she clamped down on his head and started rubbing. He would have simply brushed the hand off with a slightly annoyed quip, but was stopped from such an action momentarily by her ministrations to the extra set of ears poking out the top of his skull. The sensation sent a small tingling sensation from the tip of his skull and down to the base of his neck. He did not trill at her touch, no matter what accusations to the contrary. He swatted away her arm to get her to stop as she spoke again. "You're Ashen Sky, I've heard of you from the Elders... I'm Astrid Grunewald." He re affixed his hair and nodded. "Ay, I've her of ya."

She stepped back, made another rude gesture towards the sickly looking man before assuming the form of a cat and scappering off towards the strange woman with pink skin. Having relaxed now that the apperent danger was over, that same sickly man approached Ashen Sky. "Thanks... No clue what her issue was, I swear we've never met. I'm The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, nice to meet you. I owe you one." Ashen laughed softly at that. "Wordy name ye got mate. Think I'll be just callin' ya Artisan fer the time being if ye mind." He then slapped his palm against his the outstretched hand offered him and let a toothy grin appear on his face. "And you do. I'll be cashin in tha favor soon!"

The subsequent introduction to the mans 'pet' was off putting, but Ashen Sky had seen slaves before and was willing to put it out of mind as quickly as said man disappeared below deck. Wouldn't do to start something over it after he had just ended something over something else.




At the back of the ship the pilot slowly retracted it's tendrils. Glad to see that these exalts could defuse their struggles on their own. It would be... trouble some to report to Lord Fakharu that he had to drown another group of incompatible aspirants. Time was of the essence as well, for it could not spare the effort to track down and vet a new collection of champions for the task ahead. Not with the stated deadline baring down on his lord like this. The ships helmsman could only hope that these scattered exalts could work out their own differences along the way for whether they new it or not a great deal would be put at immediate risk if they failed, likely bringing the whole of the western spirit courts into disarray. This was the reason why it had quietly worked its magic to allow them all to understand each others speech for the duration of their voyage.

One of the exalts, a small child by the look of it, came bounding over with absurd enthusiasm and started pelting him with questions and dialogue. The spirit stood listening to the boy talk before bringing one tendril up with an small but still audible snapping noise in front of the boys face in a motion not to dissimilar to a 'shushing' sign. "This ship does not yet have the provisions for a self cleaning for it was only built last morning. Rest assured that you will be given time to freshen up at the lords palace when we arrive."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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She still wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all...this. Though strange and unusual phenomena were something she wasn’t entirely inexperienced with, this ordeal was on a different level entirely. Certainly did she live for new experiences, but a small part of herself did still doubt that she’d made the right choice in answering the summons she received. Dragon-Blooded though she was, her exploits and journeys paled in comparison to those who were perhaps considered her kin—why she’d been selected against others of her kind eluded her. She was nothing truly special, really. However uncertain she was, Lux wasn’t one to deny what seemed to be a legitimate plea for help, if someone believed that she could really truly help them absolve an apparently dire matter, she would oblige to the best of her limited capabilities. It was the right thing to do.

....regardless, Lux was still somewhat awed and uncertain as she’d boarded the ethereal ship before. It was truly a marvel—gorgeous and a thing of true luxury, undoubtedly, but it still felt somewhat off-putting. Lux felt so very out of place on it for varying reasons, but she’d committed herself in spite of her doubts, and she wasn’t about to recant. A commitment was a commitment.

So, as the ship and its enigma of a helmsman made its rounds, collecting the other Exalted who’d responded to the summons like her, Lux decided that she would seat herself down upon its deck, back resting against the railings, and merely observe those who’d apparently form her traveling party. Including herself, they definitely seemed the mismatched lot. Sans herself, she was rather certain that a bulk of the summoned was what some called Anathema, and one in particular seemed to be what was referred to as a Deathknight. Most definitely, they were an odd bunch. Lux made no motion to greet or speak to the others as they boarded, and instead fetched a small piece of chocolate out of one of her many pockets, and nibbled on it contently.

Yet, when it was that the beginnings of a quarrel formed between the Deathknight and the Exalted with the long inky hair, Lux ceased eating her sweets, and put the remainder of it away for the time being—if in-fighting was already an issue.... Oh dear, was this to be a journey, indeed.

When another intervened in the squabble, and managed to quell it with little incident before it escalated, Lux relaxed herself with a sigh, what did she ever get herself involved in this time? Whilst those involved dispersed—the woman with the long inky hair shifting her body into that of a cat and the Deathknight retreating below deck with...was that a slave...? Lux stared, trying to process that for a moment before she lightly shook her head, deciding to dwell upon that matter at a later time, when less was going on and she had more time to comprehend that.

Later, later.... she thought, coming to the realization that it seemed that the last of the ship’s pickups were made.

Perhaps now she’d find it in herself to mingle amidst the others, attempt to begin something of a rapport. Reaching her arm up and back, she gripped the handrail above her head, and used it to pull herself up with a needless noise, brushing her bottom off as she felt the sea breeze tousle her short hair now that she was standing again. She looked out at the ocean for a moment—it’d been some time since she had been on the ocean before this; rarely did she venture out into open waters. Lux wondered about the others, if they were more at home upon the waves. Maybe she could utilize that to begin some kind of conversation with someone?

Thus, she turned around, walking toward the one whom had mediated between the Deathknight and the other Exalted—and found herself smiling upon realizing that he had...a set of some sort of animalistic ears perched atop his head, and did he have a tail too?

“Ah, ahem,” she cleared her throat to catch his attention, “so, that was...a wondrous way for us all to start off, we’ve not even heard the specifics of our summons and already there is conflict.” Lux let out a nervous laugh, “If no one else will say it; thanks for intervening between those two,” she held a hand up in something of a mock wave before smiling, “my name is Lux, by the by! It’s nice to meet you.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Ashen Sky looked over his shoulder at the short girl behind him and gave a toothy grin. "Eh, I'm used ta living on ships wit' tight quarters and tha tempers tha flair in em. Ya learn fast how ta cool heads if yer wantin' to live within the same 15 meters o' each other for weeks on end." He turned to her fully and in response to her mock wave gave her a mock salute. "be glad to makin' yer acquaintance miss Lux. You might o' over heard it from the cat lady but me name is Ashen Sky. Former privateer and chosen child of tha goddess Luna." He put both hands on his hips and regarded her for a moment. "Gotta say miss'm, yer oddly caviler about being on a boat full of anathema." He didn't know what manner of exalt she was just yet but he guessed dragon blooded by the smell of her. He looked up and took another glance about the boat at it's other occupants.

"So this'll be our crew than ey. Let's see. So we got Lux here, guy I'm calling Artisan because I'm not saying tha rest of his name because it's to dang long behind me. I think the little chatter box next ta our cap'n said 'is name was Ioa. Big lady cat lady Astrid over thar and..." He took a look at the strange woman that Astrid in cat form had just jumped into the lap of. She hadn't said a word since she got on board, but Ashen Sky knew the touch of the wyld on someone when he saw it and her manner of dress looked vaguely northern. Figuring he might as well try to learn something about her before they all went into the dragons den together he coned his hands around his mouth and shouted at her "HEY! Pretty lady with tha pink pigmentation! Ya got a name for us ta call ya or does tha cat got yer tongue?" He made the universal 'come here' waving motion at her as he yelled.

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Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes
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Many conversations passed, and Calliope had finally slipped into a light sleep. It was a strange kind of sleep. She sat up straight, her posture was impeccable, and though she had drowned out the murmurs of her cabin-mates, she was still partly aware. Calliope was stirred from her meditation by the presence of a small animal in her lap. When she opened her eyes, she discovered a cat that looked up at her with familiar eyes. Almost instinctively, she began to pet the cat. As cold and reserved as Calliope was, she couldn't help but feel drawn to animals, and beauty altogether. It made her feel something that was not discussed in her village. Beauty was considered superficial, but she could not deny to herself the odd lightness a beautiful day made her feel. Calliope did not smile or relax her furrowed brow, still, she was contented by the presence of the small creature of which she continued to pet.

The pink woman looked up at the call of someone clearly addressing her. "Hey! Pretty lady with tha pink pigmentation!" The man said. "Ya got a name for us ta call ya or does tha cat got yer tongue?" It was the bog-dweller she had tuned out not long ago.

It was clear that Ashen's choice of words neither repulsed nor compelled her. Instead, they seemed to fall off of her like water off a duck's back. She ceased petting the animal, and regained a more regal composure. "I am Calliope Lordes, Daughter of Titania, Soul Air to the Noble Seat of Gladom, of the the Gladomain Empire," and with the smallest, and most genuine smile she could muster she added, "But you may have the privilege of calling me Calliope." Each word she spoke was expertly articulated, but certain 't' sounds came out sounding more rounded, (such a Daughter, pronounced by Calliope like: 'Daaduer'), and often she held onto her 'm' and 'n' consonants slightly too long. She spoke softly, due to her native sky-tongue, but her accent was certainly acclimated to speaking a commoner's tongue. Something about her accent resembled more of a Romanian dialect.

"In addition, nno. This feline has nod yed addempted to cut out my tongue, as you say. Mannny gratitudes for the forewarning." She resumed petting the cat readily. After further examination, Calliope discovered that the cat was none other than the irritable Lunar she had observed earlier. The only reason she could tell now was because of the creature's small, distinct Caste mark. However, this did not give Calliope cause to stop petting just yet.

She looked back at Ashen with sudden intentness. "Annd whad is it that you are called, dear stranger?" Calliope asked in return.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Though he did raised an eyebrow at her rather literal interpenetration of his quip, for his part Ashen Sky let out a small whistle as 'Calliope' introduced herself. "Princess of Gladom eh.... never heard o' it." He gave a slight shrug and a smirk at that. "But none tha less it be interenstin' ta have a member o' royalty on this voyage." He started taking a few steps toward her, figuring that if she wasn't going to get up and come join them he'd at least try to meet her half way and subtly hoped that Lux and Artisan would follow so he could make this a group discussion. Quietly Ashen Sky was trying to gather the various passengers of the ship together into the same discussion. The idea being to form some level of group solidarity by getting everyone antiquated with one another before they arrived at Fakharu's palace.

"Ta give ye me name, it's Ashen Sky. I was born out 'ere in tha west in tha nation of Wave Crest, so this be a bit o' a return trip 'ome fer me." He scratched his chin a bit in a show of appearing thoughtful. "So Galdom... where be tha about? From yer accent and dress ye look northerner." He paused, seeming to realize something, and turned his head to look over his shoulder at the others. "In fact ay could ask tha of the rest o' ye. Where be all o' ye from in this 'ere wide world?"

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Astrid began to purr contentedly, lazily looking about her surroundings as Calliope pet her. Ashen started to make his way over, speaking with his weirdly accented words. The way he spoke left Astrid to ponder how he hadn't been killed yet, and make her start to regret accepting these summons. She had children to get back to and a tribe to lead. Trusting Ashen to introduce herself, Astrid continued to purr contentedly, that is until the Deathknight began to approach. Her hackles raised slightly and she started to hiss, but ultimately went back to purring in a heap on Calliope's lap.

Artisan joined the small group that had begun forming, eager to ingratiate himself with as many of them as possible, even if only so that they may be more inclined to keep the Lunar off him. He knelt down on one knee to acknowledge Calliope's rank. "Your grace. With a slight tip of the hat, he stood back up to introduce himself. "I am The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, a name given to me by my Lord. You may call me Artisan if it pleases you, your grace. I'm from a small town in the Blessed Isle, but I abandoned that place long ago."

Taking a seat next to Ashen, he smiled gently, then as if it were an afterthought he told everyone within earshot, "Oh, and as my name might suggest, I'm quite the craftsmen. If any of you need anything made, feel free to come to me and I'll cut you a great deal. Despite my nature, I'm sure we'll become fast friends! Indeed we should have to, as Fakharu isn't to be trifled with."

Content with his introduction, Artisan flopped quite unceremoniously onto his back, laying spread out and looking at the sky. "To what end do you think he called us all out here? We're quite a motley bunch."

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Calliope was pleased with Ashen's interest in her birth village. She noticed that his boyish features were deceptive. He seemed far older than he looked, though she could not pin an age on him. His blue hair was a shade that Calliope had never seen. Most citizens of Gladom had a mixture of white and a very light blue hair color, she couldn't help but stare at his a little. Not to mention his tail! A tail! Why, she'd never seen such a thing. For the first time since he had boarded the boat, Calliope was really looking at him. She had met a couple Exalted individuals in the past, mostly Solars, and others of the Dawn Caste -- being a warrior, it isn't infrequent one meets another Dawn. But never had she met a Lunar. The concept of transfiguration was foreign to her. She felt her curiosity peak, and she wanted to ask more, but the conversation moved forward.

Suddenly, the gaunt fellow approached her, and knelt before her. He was a weak minded man, Calliope gathered, but his humility was otherwise appealing. She obliged his use of honorifics, and nodded acceptingly, a formal greeting in her culture. She was thoroughly flattered by him, and his features were certainly not unappealing. She continued stroking the cat.

"Gladom is a prosperous village south of the Whide Sea, high in the Crag Mmountains. Mmy people flourish on warfare, and the ancient relics of our ahncesdors. In my culdure we fighd along side our people." In response to his question, she added, "I imagine it mmust be to a great battle."

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Following her introduction with Ashen, Lux followed him at his behest as everyone began to exchange proper introductions between themselves, giving some rudimentary information regarding their backgrounds. So far, it seemed that amongst their little group, they had Ashen, Astrid, Artisan, Ioa and Calliope, then herself. Indeed it seemed that she was the only Dragon-Blooded aboard the ship. From what she could silently gather, she had two Solars, two Lunars and a Deathknight in her midst. Never before had she been near so many other Exalted at once—once in a time, she’d run into one or two wayward, but that was it. This experience was definitely new to for her.... Given their first impressions, everyone definitely seemed rather...interesting. They were definitely a rounded group, to say the least.

For the moment, Lux kept herself quiet, looming at the edge of the group as she listened to the lot of them chat, til Artisan brought up Fakharu and the reasoning behind their collective summons. Calliope seemed rather certain it was for a great battle....

Certainly, they were needed for something, and while Lux was not the most educated of folks, knowing what she knew from hearsay and by piecing together bits of miscellaneous information she’d gathered over the years, she was knowledgeable enough to realize that the reasoning behind everyone’s collective summons was beyond the scope of a “great battle.” She didn’t know everything about Fakharu, but she knew enough to realize his power was immense, and whatever help he required from the gathered Exalted, it was something he could not do alone.

Lux lightly set her arms across her diaphragm, a thoughtful expression emerging upon her face. Indeed, as Artisan had said following his rather...peculiar introduction, Fakharu was not someone to trifle with. She tilted her head and pursed her lips as she let out a contemplative noise. “Hmm, I’ve a notion to believe that why ever we lot were summoned, it’s not for the sake of a battle, Lady Calliope.” she paused in her musing, “If it were merely a ‘great battle,’ then I don’t believe that Fakharu would require our aid.”

She adjusted her footing a bit, a thought occurring to her, “Ah, since you were all doing introductions prior...my name is Lux, Lux Fiala. I hail from The Scavenger Lands; I’m from no one place in particular, I’ve been a wanderer for longer than I can remember, if I’m to be honest. Good to meet you all.” she gave a small smile to the lot of them.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Ioa listened and watches as he got some responses from various people, including the captain who said they would bathe when they got there apparently and could make themselves look presentable then. At the very least, he was thinking of that, given the fact he actually had no nice clothes to wear. Technically, he just had one set, because he had been adventuring alone and would wash them when he bathed in some river or stream or pond.

His boots, which were actually a magic item made for him to increase his combat ability, were also the only footwear he had at the moment, not that he actually needed to wear any. And they were safely fastened to him it seemed, since he wasn't wearing anything on his feet at the moment.

"Oh, right? Are we supposed to say where we are from? Well, my name is Ioa, and I grew up in a village surrounded by forests...if that helps. I don't really recognize any landmarks anymore, I kinda just came to a port town and got on because this seemed fun and interesting".

Actually, Ioa had no real clue where he would point to on a map, though if someone worked out some details with him, he could probably designate some location...but that could always be saved for another time. After that, he darted over, moving so fast he seemed to just teleport for that moment, and...disappeared?

No, for some reason he was now hanging upsidedown on a rope, in front of the group. He was holding onto the rope using his legs and held it inbetween his big and index toes, for a reason no one might be able to discern. SImply put, he thought it would be fun. And then, he looked at Calliope.

"Oh, you are another solar like me! Nice to meet you! I am of the Night Caste! And you...Dawn Caste right?"

Ioa made a guess at his fellow Solar, half thinking back to remember if she specified that. Well, she kinda gave him the whole ultimate warrior vibe also. Meanwhile, Ioa probably seemed like the most lax one of all.

"Well, if he all contacted us....maybe he wants to make us a team, or give us a party for becoming Exalted? Or maybe, he...he has some sort of super secret quest that requires both strength and the upmost of secrecy and sneakiness! Or or...just something really cool!"

And then, Ioa added something.

"By the way, who is Fakharu anyways? I am kinda curious since he sent me a letter, so clearly he knows me, but I dont remember meeting him at all...maybe that one sailor that I made friends with when she passed through town, Lulella, knew him and mentioned me? I wonder if she is still out drinking and brawling guys twice as big as her..."

As Ioa sort of mentioned various things, he started to have his mind wander off in totally irrelevent directions.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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(Please keep in mind that exalts can't preform supernatural feats without burning essence. I know Ioa is supposed to be fast but he can't be super humanly fast without activating charms.)

It seemed his smooth talking skills had proven themselves again. Slowly the dispersed exalts started to gather around him and began discussing their origins and speculating about the reason for Fakharu's summons. Ashen Sky listened as they spoke their turn and noted what he could of each speaker in kind. Astrid seemed only lightly concerned with the conversation at large, with the only things he could gleam from her being her intense dislike for Artisan and people like him and her apperent willingness to cuddle up with strangers. Artisan, the amicable and shaping up to be a good conversationalist, seemed like someone easily startled and Ashen Sky suspected he was a little desperate to gain everyone's favor after his 'greeting' by Astrid. He was slightly surprised to hear that he was from the blessed Isle and could only hazard a guess as to what caused his departure.

He did notice out the corner of his eye that the pink princess Calliope staring at him rather intently. For some strange reason though, he didn't feel any sense of discomfort with being the object of her scrutiny. Even more, as her eyes trailed up and down his form he unconsciously started to give her a bit of a 'show'; flicking his upper ears and wagging his tail back too and fro when her gaze passed over them. He had a few of his own questions about her such as what was the origin of her skin's color and what this Gladom was like. After a while he realized that he too was starting to stare and returned focus to the rest of the group and the on going discussion.

Lux was the next to speak, sitting at the edge of the group in thought. By her garb he suspected she was well traveled and was quickly validated of that when she admitted such. Interestingly she carried a rather large lantern with her and had to wonder why she'd need on that big. Between her, Astrid and especially Calliope he had to admit that there were some rather striking women on this ship and thought wistfully of his adolescent years as a privateer.

Last was the rather hyper active youngest member of the crew. Ashen did have to admit being impressed at how quickly he zipped about the ship, not sure if the boy was showing off or just reveling in his own powers as any boy his age would. He was similarly impressed with how his mouth nearly moved as fast as his feet and would bounce from topic to topic as much as he did from place to place on the ship.

Deciding to keep things on topic he loudly cleared his throat. "Well, ye all make good points on tha matter..." As he spoke he walked over took a place next to Caliope and Astrid by the ships edge and rested his hands on the rails, facing the whole of the group. He made a pause and looked at the sky as if in thought. "Thinkin' about it, I think tha kid be on ta somethin'. And nay not tha party bit." He rolled his shoulders and looked the party over, taking one last glance at them all for appraisal. "If I was ta make ah comparison ta somethin', out here in the west there be a practice called privateering. The basic idea is tha wars are costly out 'ere in the west, not many have the resources ta keep standin' armies, but we still got rival power's to contend with. So ta get around tha problem nations employ privateer, private citizen's tha are given permission to attack other islands ships and towns an sell there loot back to the ships home nation. Tha idea being tha home country can send out raiders against their enemies without dippin into their own coffer tha much." As he spoke he slipped one of his hands into his coat and pulled out a flask. Taking a quick swig of the liquid to wet his throat he continued with his head slightly lower and his voice softer. "Now this is all well an standard in times o' war. It's expected then. But sometimes a even when a nation isn't at war it might still employ a few privateers to raid a specific target. In these cases, when the nation does this it's 'cause they want something specific done without there name attached ta it. Since Privateers are 'private' citizen's their home country can claim deniability in tha attacks so long as tha privateer don't link things back home. Some even go and hire outside there own country to further throw off suspision of there backing in tha raids."

Slowly bit by bit Ashen Sky's accent started to fade as he neared the end of his monologue. He raised his head now giving them each his full attention and making sure had their's in turn. "Now, I don't want to be throwing any accusations or bad words on our potential employers name, but I'm thinkin' if he's gatherin' so many exalts from different parts of creation, it's because there is something he wants done that he doesn't want his name attached to. Something he can't risk sending his own people out to do for fear of drawin' attention to himself." He shrugged, put his flask back in his pocket and wiped his hands. "'Course, that's all just speculation on my part. I don't know much about Fakharu despite livin' here a while ago." With that he smirked and shot a look at Artisan. "I suspect the only one of us that might is our pale friend here. Ya did say 'e wasn't one be trifled with did ye?"

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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The helmsman of the ship snorted. It was impressed with the young lunar's insight, but found it distasteful the manner in which he shared it for he made it sound as though lord Fakharu was intending to enact some petty criminal enterprise. The matter was much more delicate and important than simple piracy. But it was at least pleased to see the group of exalts forming together so soon rather than keeping each other at arms length. Hopefully it would be enough to form a coherent circle for the trial ahead.

A cawing noise and the distant flapping of wings drew it's attention as another crystal bird descended from the night sky carrying a message. Holding out a tendril for it to land upon, the spirit took the scroll from the birds beak as soon as it landed and read it silently. Nodding quietly it took hold of the wheel again and started turning it as a new fog bank materialized ahead of them. This time it took far longer to breach the fog than the scant few moments the ship had taken between it's 'shifts' from port to port. After a particularly long and silent period of drifting the boat finally broke free of the last fog bank, revealing orange and red tinged horizon ahead of it that heralded the coming of the dawn. The spirit nodded called to it's passengers in a loud but plain tone. "Lord Fakharu's palace lies ahead, we will be arriving within the hour." And as he said this, far in the distance ahead and just barely visible in the distance a small island came into view. On it what seemed that could be a large tower jutted up from it's center and glimmered slightly as it caught the pre-morning sun.

If one had a spy glass they would see it better for it's splendor, but for any other it would become apparent eventually as the spire gradually grew larger as it closed that it's exterior was wrought with an layer of solid gold. Flying about above it more lights twinkled, and as they came into focus they became whole flocks of the same crystal birds that had delivered the letters to the exalted passengers. Some roosting on the great white marble and gold edifice of the spire, some flying about it in lazy patterns, and others coming and going with scrolls clutched in their talons.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Lux listened as further speculation was made regarding Fakharu and the purpose for their summoning. She’d still yet to sort her first impressions of the others. The lot of them had gathered together into a group, at Ashen’s bidding. Her eyes fell across each individual for the first time proper, as she took the time to better take their appearances in—they all definitely had their own unique looks, didn’t they...? Everyone seemed to hail from all across the corners of Creation; no one was at all from the same place. Though they could all currently understand each other beyond some definite accentual quirks and such, Lux felt herself suspecting that each of them had a differing native tongue. She herself was really only fluent in Riverspeak, having rarely traversed beyond the bounds of the Scavenger Lands.

Ashen somewhat intrigued her, what with the ears and tail. She was curious what sort of animal they were connected to, and while Lux knew herself to not be among the most well-read of folks, she’d still did know enough about Lunars to know about their “Totem Animals.” Naturally, she could come to the assumption as anyone else that Ashen’s ears and tail were a reflection of his respective Totem Animal—though she wasn’t able to recognize which animal.

Calliope, who she’d address before, was quite a sight, indeed. You’d have to be struck blind not to realize that she was lovely—unusual skin pigmentation only adding to her splendidness. She’d spoken before of her home, Gladom, her people were warriors; Lux definitely believed that Calliope herself was a force to be reckoned with. There was an atmosphere about her....

Astrid—the other Lunar who’d almost gotten into conflict with the Deathknight, Artisan.... Ever since Ashen managed to mediate between them, Astrid had kept her form reduced to that of a black housecat, and remained curled upon Calliope’s lap. She didn’t seem much concerned about the exchange happening between the others.

Ioa was...he seemed to be the youngest amidst their group, and his youth was reflected in his rather energetic actions and his winded sentences. He had said he was a Solar, like Calliope was, and ended up spouting aimless rambles regarding Fakharu and his thoughts about him. Overall, Lux felt reminded of a squirrel when she looked at him? Odd, perhaps, but she couldn’t help it.

Lastly was Artisan, the Deathknight who Astrid seemed to have a strong loathing for. She’d never met a Deathknight before and knew very little of them, yet from what she could garner about him; he seemed as if he were cordial enough, definitely intelligent.... Lux would reserve her judgments about him, though first impressions led her to see him as decent, there was still the matter of him apparently having with him what appeared to be a slave and that...was not something Lux felt entirely comfortable with. Certainly, in many parts slavery was commonplace and entirely accepted, but her personal views rather conflicted with such notions, it reminded her of.... Time would only tell how she’d come to view him.

Her hand was held to her chin in thought, as she ruminated over her the opinions she’d had of her companions, however, she was rend from her musings as Ashen began to speak again. As he spoke, Lux noticed that the inflection in his speech began to dwindle away, til nothing of it was left. He made a point that Artisan seemed to have an idea of who Fakharu was, since the Deathknight had made a point to say, “he wasn’t one to be trifled with.” Given her background, Lux was certain that most people would know more than she about a being like Fakharu, especially Artisan, considering he’d said he was originally from the Blessed Isle. Whatever she knew were tidbits of miscellaneous information that she’d pieced together during her travels, she was probably lucky she knew of Fakharu at all before she received his summons....

Before Lux could even open her mouth to articulate anymore thoughts she had regarding the matter, the ethereal helmsman of their elegant ship spoke, informing them that they would arrive at Fakharu’s palace soon. No sooner had he spoken then did the eerie fog that’d enveloped them this whole journey dissipate. The sea around them was dark, though hues of pink and orange began to bath the oceans with light from the still absent sun. Lux moved, walking to the starboard side of the ship’s deck. She set her hands upon the railing, and leaned over it, squinting as she looked to what she assumed to be the ship’s destination. Her oversized, enchanted lantern squeaked as she stood on her tiptoes, leaning further out. Vaguely, she could make out the glimmer of something golden on the island....

The seabreeze tousled Lux’s a bit, as she lowered herself down to her feet, she tucked a stray bit behind an ear before she turned back to everyone. “It would seem that Fakharu has a rather ostentatious set of aesthetics, if my eyes are to be trusted. It looks like his palace is as golden as the sun itself.... If nothing else, this all will certainly be a sight to see—I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited at the thought!” Lux’s voice teetered a bit. Certainly, she had ever reason to be ambivalent about all this, but she couldn’t help herself. If nothing else, she lived for new experiences, and this would definitely be an experience unlike any other she’d had thus far.

A huge grin broke out over her face as she tittered a touch, excited anticipation spread across her face. The others might think her sudden shift in demeanor a bit odd, but Lux couldn’t help herself.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Calliope was lulled back into her fifty-yard-stare by Ashen's conjectures. She had to admit that among the crew were several formidable warriors, some with better intentions than others. She agreed with Ashen. There must have been some important reason for her presence, but aside from this? Calliope didn't picture the horrors that awaited them. She didn't imagine this 'Fakharu,' nor his intentions. She didn't even analyze the depth of the situation she had gotten herself into. The only thought that occupied her mind was the honor she would bring to her people when she was, at last, faced with great battle.

She was uninspired by the spectacular sight that beheld them. While the light was a pleasant change, the colors did not move her, and the glistening of the castle itself was only nuisance, since the glare of the sun stung her eyes. She was glad to better know her new allies. Calliope found them all peculiar, but then, the most important part was their functionality.

Instead of ogling the sight, she unsheathed her ōdachi, willing Astrid off her lap. The sword was one of the three she currently had equipped. Back in her room, she had a large weapons bag that contained the rest of her artillery (bows, daggers, arrows, and approximately four other swords). She began restlessly sharpening it with a piece of yellow stone she always had with her.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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The Deathknight nodded, armor rasping against itself as he stood to answer Ashen, and take in the sight of the approaching marvel. "Lord Fakharu is one of the Lesser Elemental Dragons, sometimes referred to as one of the 'Little Gods.' He also serves as one of the seven Censors, and not much goes on in the West without making its way back to his court." Heavy, armored footfalls made their way over to Lux, staring at the opulent palace that was fast approaching. "Lord Fakharu is well known in the Spirit Courts out here. Garnering his favor would indeed be ideal. Not to mention I doubt we want to bring his ire upon us."

Artisan took another long look at the assembled, 'privateers' as the Lunar boy had called them. Two Lunars, a Solar and two that had yet to show their true nature. No other Deathknights though, or if they were they must be fresh out of the Labyrinth, though he doubted it. Two Deathknights coincidentally in one place was rare, as there were only a a hundred or so in Creation or otherwise.

The Solar boy seemed impressionable enough, definitely a valuable asset to surviving this long journey. Perhaps even a corruptible Solar to be brought back to the The Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Waters. Gaining Clout with the Spirit Court AND recruiting a new Abyssal would definitely make this hassle worthwhile.

There wasn't much to be said for this 'Astrid' creature, she seemed hellbent on ensuring he died one way or another. Though she'd definitely be useful if he could get her to dance to his tune, doing so would be an entirely different matter. Ashen had probably saved his life, and as such Artisan viewed him with high regards. Sticking around him would probably be the best chance to not end up on the wrong end of Astrid's claws. However, he probably shouldn't stick TOO close. The boy was clever, more clever than he let on.

As for the last two, there wasn't much to be said. Neither of them had revealed their Caste, nor too much about them. They were both gorgeous, though he doubted that's why Fakharu sent for them. They were probably also Exalted, as everyone gathered here seemed to be. Calliope began to sharpen a blade, definitely a warrior aspect then. The question was which? Heir to the throne screamed some type of Solar, which might make her a Dawn Caste. Though she might also be a Sidereal or Dragon-blood.


The tiny black cat that was Astrid, however, seemed entirely unimpressed with the knowledge of who Fakharu was. He could be a valuable ally to her tribe, and that was all he was to her. The Abyssal's long-winded speech made her regret not beheading him earlier. So far Calliope was proving to be her favorite, her accent even heavily suggested that she was also from the North. Perhaps once this whole thing was over, they could join Gladom and Astrid's tribe and lead a great Horde, uniting the people.

The rest, Astrid would reserve final judgement for. The other Lunar was clever, she gave him that, but his prowess in battle had yet to be measured. The other boy was a bit too energetic for her liking, but perhaps that would translate well into fervor for combat. She couldn't be sure about Lux, but she seemed sweet enough, perhaps even willing to join the Tribe.

Standing up and stretching out, still in Calliope's lap, a lazy mewl was let out and she jumped onto the railing of the boat. On the horizon, a monument to overindulgence could be seen. Flattening her ears with distaste, tiny cat paws began padding their way back to Astrid's room, so that she may retrieve her meager belongings.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Ashen Sky let out let out a low whistle at the sight of the spire and nodded along to Artisan's explanation on. "Ay an by tha looks of o' it 'is assets be vast indeed." Almost immediately Ashen slipped back into his native accent again. "'Ave to wonder what sorta power bein' one o' tha censors gives 'im to amass all tha' an display it with outta care." And sightlently, he pondered what advantages it would be to have that power on his side. He'd had some misgivings about returning to the west as when he had left it had been made clear that he wasn't.... welcome in the great archipelago anymore and the simple act of showing his face here again would likely put him in danger. But if this Fakharu person was as influential as it was claimed, then getting himself in his good graces would likely be another step towards being beyond his pursuers reach.

As the minutes passed the spire loomed larger and larger as it came into focus and eventually the sun broke free of the horizon behind it just as the ship came to moor at the long pier jutting out from the shore. Just as with the ship itself and the spire before it, the wharf they descended upon was of splendorous craftsmanship with perfectly shaped wood untouched by the elements and nailed in place with precious metals. And from where it met the shore a long twisting path that was bordered on both sides by a beach of perfectly arranged raked sand and up through a field of well cultivated and colorful trees and bushes.

Ashen was the first out of the boat, figuring he'd be slightly courteous and offer a hand to those without sea legs in getting off the boat and over the gap between it and the pier. And as the passengers disembarked from the boat five beautiful young women began walking down the path from the pier. Each was bareheaded, garbed in clothing of white linen and each wearing jewelry exclusively of one of the five magical metals in the form of bracelets, necklaces and girdles. The one at the head of the group, adorned on decorations of orchicalcum, stepped forward and bowed. "Welcome honored exalted. We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival and we hope your journey was pleasant. I am Nāgasāni, behind me are Vengalu, Periya, Hotton and Lakshmī." At their introduction each of the other four women gave a slight curtsy in turn. "We humbly ask that you allow us to escort you to the lords spire."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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She took a breath and calmed her excitedly racing heart—yes she was terribly eager by the glimpse she’d gotten of what was upon the horizon, but she needed to keep a certain level of sang-froid. If her eyes were not deceiving her against the glare of the morning twilight, then it seemed that Fakharu’s palace was gold? Indeed, she might question the architectural tastes of whoever designed the place, nevertheless though, the prospect of seeing a place that was not just decorated with gold, but actually constructed in its entirety.... How fascinating, even if it was garish and rather a waste. Still, she needed to quell her anticipation; she wasn’t here merely for the sights and general experience of it all. Lux was here because Fakharu needed her and the assistance of the others, for some unknown reason. Though the group all had their own notions and had mused over it, they were really no closer to knowing for certain the magnitude of the situation they were asked to assist with.

One of her hands found their way overtop her heart, as she took in a rather deep and measured breath as she forced her heartrate to slow, but the smile never left her face. Lux’s attention was caught, though, when she heard the sound of a sword drawn from its sheathe, which caused her to cast her gaze toward Calliope who’d taken it upon herself to now sharpen one of her swords...the shape of the blade piqued Lux’s curiosities, momentarily distracting her. She recalled seeing sword like those in her travels from time-to-time, but could not recollect the proper term.... It wasn’t til she heard the heavy, metallic footfalls that ceased at her side that she returned to reality, Artisan standing rather near her. Her eyes trailed over to him, as he began to speak. He spoke of Fakharu, and the knowledge he possessed of him. Some of the information he revealed, she’d know, other parts of it, she had not. Until now, Lux couldn’t remember ever having heard the term “Seven Censors,” but it was as she’d speculated before. Fakharu was someone who was due respect.

Mimicking her in a manner, Artisan seemed to look upon those who’d responded to Fakharu’s letters, likely gathering his thoughts on herself and the rest. She still was unsure of what to make of this man, but, she would give him as much of a chance as anyone else. Sans Calliope, she herself was the only one of the group who hadn’t either willing revealed or had someone else reveal their Caste. Given the impression Lux got off Calliope, she wasn’t a Dragon-Blooded like herself, which meant she might be alone in that regard. Ashen seemed to have suspected her status, he’d made a comment before about how she seemed awful casual about traveling with a lot of “Anathema.” She was far from an idiot; she knew that Dragon-Blooded and other Exalted had bad blood between them, and a majority carried that ancient ill-will through to the present day, and those prejudices were still fresh for many.... Lux, in a manner of speaking, considered herself fortunate to not have been raised within the Realm or alongside any other prevalent group of Dragon-Blooded. She never had those archaic views ingrained into her from before she was capable of independent thought. Though her life hadn’t been idyllic in anyway, at least it’d allowed her the gift of free thought, she was allowed to form her own opinions without having her view skewed by some outdated, preconceived notion.

Her Caste and her status as a Terrestrial amongst Celestials could become problematic, though she held none of the views so common amid her Exalted kin...the others didn’t yet know that, and it was quite possible they’d judge her upon those merits. For now, even if Ashen had his suspicions, Lux figured it’d be best to keep quiet about her Caste for as long as conceivably possible. Til, at least, she’d hopefully established a strong enough rapport with everyone that it wouldn’t impede their budding camaraderie.

Ashen let out a low whistle, himself taking in the sight of Fakharu’s opulent abode whilst Astrid, still donning the form of a cat, trotted off, heading below deck—Lux had noticed her little ears flattening against her skull.... Perhaps in revulsion? While she herself was somewhat excited by what was before them, Lux could understand why one might gaze upon Fakharu’s grandiose palace and feel a bit queasy.

The minutes passed by in silence, as the ship drew ever closer to where it would dock, right as soon as the dawn was upon them proper. Unsurprisingly, to Lux at least, the wharf to which their ship was guided was just as elaborate as the ship and Fakharu’s spire. Off in the near distance, she could make out a sort of rather well-maintained garden.... Almost as soon as the ship had come to a standstill, and a board was set out for them to disembark, Ashen was already out onto the pier. Lux had nothing to gather from below deck, and thus was able to follow suit with little hesitation. As she stepped off the ship and onto the pier, she wobbled a bit and took up Ashen’s unspoken offer of assistance in keeping herself upright. She had been on boats and ships few times in the past, but since she rarely ventured beyond the bounds of The Scavenger Lands, she didn’t exactly cope well going between land and sea at a moment’s notice.

Whilst Lux rectified her posture, and got back her balance, a quintet of well-adorned women approached their group, one of them—Nagasani bowed, greeting them, introducing herself, and the other four. They were meant to be their escorts. Lux was dumbfounded for a moment; they were all very...lovely. Not surprising, considering the surroundings, regardless, she couldn’t help her brief stupor.

....oh, Creation, she was staring.

She was staring at these five lovely women like a fool. Realizing her faux pas, Lux’s posture went a little rigid, as she felt her face flush red in embarrassment. Why did she stare? She thought she was over doing that...!

Upon the realization that she was staring, a moment of absolute panic overcame Lux, and reflexively made an attempt to give the five women a wider berth than the few feet between them by taking a couple of steps backward...only to forget in her fretfulness that she was still rather near Ashen, who’d helped her. Gracelessly, she ended up fully backing into him with some measure of force, enough that she nearly knocked him backward off his feet. As Lux regained some few of her scruples, she comprehended what she’d just done, and hastily turned on her heel, grabbing onto Ashen without any thought to where her hands were gripping, simply concerned with righting her mistake, and kept him from tipping over the edge of the pier into the shallow water below. Something of a yelp came out of her, as she almost went crashing with him, only to regain her footing and balance at the last moment, keeping herself and he from tumbling over.

He’d helped keep her from falling onto her backside and here she had nearly knocked him over, and was still touching him while violating his personal space. A tiny squeak came from Lux’s throat as she righted herself, giving Ashen space and sidestepping a few feet to the right. She stood there, her arms stiff and straight at her sides, as she felt the entirety of her face redden further.

Figures, she sees several attractive individuals and she makes an utter dolt of herself. Why did this happen to her after managing to go so long without incident...? It'd been a while since she had a mental shutdown of this magnitude. Even beforehand, before she and everyone one else had introduced themselves proper, she'd not had a lapse in thought, though several members of her traveling party were definitely rather striking themselves. Perhaps it was because she had time to process each, one by one, whereas, this time, the appearance of the five maidens was...sudden? Or, maybe it was their overwhelming aesthetics?

Lux took in a sharp breath, and bowed at the waist very harshly, arms still straight while her lantern creaked in protest to the sudden action. “A-Ah, it’s a pleasure to meet you all! Our journey was perfectly enjoyable!” she greeted the five women, her voice too loud, and shaky. She stood back to her full height, “My name is Lux, and I-I think we’d be more than happy to have you ladies as our escorts!” Still too loud.

The women stared at Lux, their expressions unaffected by her awkward introduction and demeanor, they were quiet a moment before one of them spoke, Periya, the one adorned in Moonsilver responded, her voice calming and sweet, “Thank you, Honored Exalted, Lux. We will guide you to Lord Fakharu the moment the rest of your companions are prepared.” Perhaps they were used to this sort of reaction, then?

Lux swallowed, face still red. “Th-thank you! That sounds best....”

Heavens, it would be fantastic if she could compose herself...alas, what an impression she must be making, not to mention what Ashen was probably thinking of her now, and what the rest of the group would think of her as well. A nearly inaudible, miserable noise came from Lux’s throat again, as she brought a hand up over her face in embarrassment.

She peeked out from behind her hand, expression dismayed as she looked over in shame at Ashen, Gods did she owe him an apology.... "Ashen, I-I am SO sorry for nearly knocking you over, I-I, oh, goodness...."

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Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Lux Fiala
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For his part, Ashen Sky was used to the transition's from a rocking boat to a stable platform. And he was used to the unsteady swaying of fellow crew on rough seas. So the idea of bracing for the impact of another body colliding with his own was not new to him, but in this case there were a few factors that even he hadn't been prepared for.

Firstly was that he simply had been caught off guard in this case. He'd just helped Lux off the boat, and then held his hand out for the second passenger off when the quintet of bejeweled women came to meet them on the pier. He did give the group an appraising glance and hummed to himself as he hoisted another member of their party onto the pier, silently pleased with Fakharu's taste in staff so far. He could guess a bit at the ethnicity of the women in front of him as he saw tell tale signs of two or three island groups he was familiar with by their complexion. Figuring that he'd let Lux be the one to handle first greeting since she had been so excited to be on the island itself, he turned his attention behind him for the next passenger to help off the boat. That had been his mistake.

Lux, as it turned out, was also rather stunned by the five girls appearance. But rather than take it in appreciation she seemed to go instead for bashfulness and promptly retreated backwards straight into Ashen Sky himself. Distracted he too the full brunt of her back peddling and nearly took a fall into the drink. He was saved that fate and the accompanying embarrassment by a trio of factors. First the simple fact that Lux wasn't that heavy in comparison to himself and second was, again, Ashen Sky's instinctual surefootedness and experience with being tussled about. It was the third factor that he was not ready for that truly threw him of his mental balance.

Almost as quickly as Lux and bumped into him she wheeled about and made a grab at his shirt in an attempt to spare him a saltwater bath. There was a breath moment of panic for both of them as her momentum carried her into him and they both nearly tipped, but a combination of both their efforts kept them taking the spill. To the on looker it might have been somewhat comical, but to the both of them it was slightly distressing. On any other day, Ashen Sky would have thoroughly enjoyed having a pretty young woman clinging to him in such a way. But right here, and right now was most certainly not that day and he felt a ting of mortification burn on his face as the younger girl had her hands on the part of his upper body that gave the most leverage. Lux was now effectively and firmly groping his soft chest, electing from the lunar a sound of indeterminable origin as she squeezed. In that same instant she seemed to realize what she had done, let out a small squeaking noise of her own and separated from him at a quick step. Ashen Sky sharply followed suit by promptly turning around so that he could get the flush red embarrassment out of his face and readjust his shirt and jacket, clearly rattled by the experience. All the while in his head he muttered a mantra of:

'thatdidn'tjusthappenthatdidn'tjusthappenthatdidn'tjusthappen'

For their part the women seemed rather non-pulsed with the debacle as Lux made a flustered attempt at salvaging introductions. Ashen shuttered a bit to get the goose bumps out and fixed his jackets straps before he he let out a small cough, having finally regained his composure. This was NOT how he was going to start his service to a member of the celestial court. Most certainly not like a bashful maiden afraid of making a scene. Straightening himself he turned about just as Lux started making her apology. "Ashen, I-I am SO sorry for nearly knocking you over, I-I, oh, goodness...."

He let out a slightly nervous, perhaps slightly forced, chuckle and made a show of waving it off like it was nothing. "Oh don't be worryin' about it miss'm, ya just surprised me ah bit is all." He smoothed back his hair a bit and made himself appear relaxed about the whole ordeal. It was nothing. It was DEFINITELY NOTHING. He was NOT going to loose his cool because a girl he just met felt up his pectorals. "Accident's 'appen, no body got hurt. It's all fine. I'm more flattered that ye'd be jumpin' me so soon than anythin'. It's rather bold o' ye." He let out another slightly nervous laugh, playing the whole incident off as a joke that they could quip about later. Nothing weird or off putting happened.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling
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Not long before the group disembarked, Calliope retrieved the rest of her belongings. Her sword seemed sharpened to her taste, but before she returned the stone to her pocket, she gazed upon it. It was once smooth from the mountain stream that flowed past her home. She had grown since she first found it. It appeared smaller in her palm than ever before. In the places where Calliope's small fingers once struggled to enclose around it, she now held it comfortably. It reminded her of the days she spent antagonized by her brothers, sharpening twigs in the snow, trying desperately to get the upper hand in their next quarrel. She allowed the thought to pass, and hid the stone away.

Calliope returned from her room with her black, leather weapons bag. The bag was sizable, about as tall as she was, but she slung it around her shoulder like it was the size of a coin purse. It hung suspended from her back with a single thick strap. Along the strap were intricate designs and ancient ruins embossed and painted in gold. They originated from her ancestors, the Dragon Kings: the Pterok. One rune requested protection from the Gods of war and life, while the others allegedly enhanced attack and awareness. In fact, Calliope's whole weapons bag seemed adorned in a myriad of blessings and runes. The Empire was very superstitious, but she at least found the symbols comforting.

Aside from the hulking bag, Calliope travelled light, like most of the others. She had one extra pair of robes in a smaller compartment on her weapons bag, a tightly wound bedroll she managed to fit somewhere in the bag, a hair brush she prized greatly, and enough rations divided in small amounts to last maybe three weeks. The robes she wore now were less for combat and more for presentation. On each shoulder was a white lotus like design. A coveted flower by her village that somehow grows in a sacred water not far away. Her robes had a high, upturned collar, and they were held together by a large pink bow under which she tucked excess material.

Calliope returned to the deck. The light of the sun made her complexion less jarring. The sun was something that was dear to her, it felt good on her skin, and she took a moment to enjoy it, inhaling and exhaling, but it wasn't long before all of them were off the ship and onto the next hurdle.

The Noble was unperturbed by Lux's sudden tizzy, but still intrigued. If one didn't know any better Calliope's posture and manner would have seemed to fit right in with one of the five women that greeted them. Well, one thing that did set her apart was the vexed expression she had on her face at all times, a compliment of her furrowed brow. Calliope did, however, let out a short, guttural and masculine laugh, and stated, "I find this variety of courting mmost entertaining," totally misinterpreting the whole turn of events.

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Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Lux Fiala
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As for Ioa, as they arrived, he remembered to put on his boots and stepped off of the ship with a sort of simplicity and energy. He seemed entirely unphased by fear and concern, but he was smiling as he admitted the castle and the surrounding area. In the process, he saw the events unfold in front of him between Lux and Aschen, however...he failed to detect any lewd thoughts or such that others might get.

"You two okay?" he asked as he walked down, seemingly unaffected by the swaying waves and continued to admire the area. And then, he noticed the five women as well. "Oh! Hello! My name is Ioa! You all look really nice by the way! This castle looks nice too, did you help it look so nice and beautiful from expertise?"

Ioa, who unknowingly said way too many things with pure sincerity and interest and zero underlying motives, just gave a smile as he continued to walk down and made it to the docks safely. He wondered though if they were going to eat, rest, and bathe first before meeting the man who invited them, or maybe just bathe and rest and they would meet over a feast like in fairytales, or maybe they would just go and meet him directly.

He looked back at the women, thsi time with a curious look. "By the way, are we meeting him directly? What is the plan?"