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located in The West, a part of Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult, one of the many universes on RPG.

The West

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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala
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There was a clinking of noise as Burnished Mantis skittered down the halls. His four polished crystal like legs eliciting small clicking noise each time they tapped on the marble floor. The emerald colored insect spirit was slightly aggrieved and would mutter to himself as he made his way towards the washrooms in the lower spire. The cause of his piqued state was the new guest he was attending the request of. As servant of the celestial censor, he had been tasked with seeing to the needs of the exalted champions his master had summoned. And though it was his honor and duty to see that done to the best of his ability, there were still some protocols of etiquette that he expected be observed in return. As it was he was accustomed to receiving 'courtesy gifts' from visitors to the spire as a general show of consideration and setting a proper first impression. Instead this lunar barbarian had simply showed up and demanded in a hushed tone that he acquire her a new choice in wardrobe and weaponry. She hadn't even had the decency to introduce herself!

No matter, he was simply allowing himself to get riled over one exalt and some petty thing. He was certain the others would likely have better manners. For the most part he resolved himself to simply pass the task of finding a change in outfit off onto Nagasani and her assistants whilst he had a word with the master of the arsenal over whether they had the specific weaponry requested in stock. Down a flight of stairs and pass the library he found the handmaidens within the launderette chamber. When he opened the door though he was greeted by the odd sight of the girls frantically trying to put out a fire in the center of the room, originating from a burning red jade lantern that he didn't know the origin of. He stood there staring perplexed as the girls kept throwing wet towels on a localized blaze that continually burned at head height. It took a minute or so before any of the five noticed him, and when they did there was a long awkward pause between them that was punctuated by the crackling of the bonfire. "Oh... Mr. Mantis... uh, we can explain." Periya started, but the look on her face told him plainly that she was still to panicked to accurately summarize what led up to this circumstance. The emerald spirit just rolled his eyes and gave a sharp bark of "later" and stepped forward to pluck the burning lantern with a pincer from it's spot in the center of the fire. It continued to burn fiercely, almost engulfing his entire torso in flame, but the spirits own carapace protected him from the heat. Seeing no way to turn the artifact off himself he plainly shrugged and doused the lantern in a nearby tub of water.


"Now," He said sharply, "I have a task for you. One of our exalted visitors is in need of a change of attire. You are to aid her with that whilst I handle another chore." The handmaidens, still a little shook from the recent disaster, slowly came back to sense at this. "Another one?" Hotton asked as she started scrubbing down the scorch marks on the floor. "Which one requires our services this time?" "Which do you think? The one in the rags. She has requested an outfit similar to the one you gave to the fire aspect, but I will leave the final decision to you on that accord." The girls nodded and continued to fix up the remains of the firey mess as he excused himself. There was a few moments of quiet between the five as they scrubbed away the floor and tried to salvage what wash rags they could, before Lakshmī noticed that the tub Burnished Mantis had flung the lantern into was beginning to let off steam. "Oh gods no. It's still going!" The others looked and all let out a collective breath of exasperation. "Alright," Nagasani stood up to take charge of the situation. "We'll divide and conquer here. Lakshmī please go find Lady Lux and ask for her aid with... this. Hotton, stay here and keep an eye on the mess. Vengalu, Periya, I want you to go to the dressing room and get it ready whilst I go track down Lady Astrid."

They all nodded together and broke to deal with their separate task.

Astrid waited for the Mantis creature to return, taking the chance to shift into a tiny cat, and then ultimately back into her human form, anima shimmering around her all the while. It felt odd to be as a human, rather she spent most of her time in her animal or hybrid forms. Not due to preference, but rather necessity; she looked down at her wrapped hand, thinking about the onyx black skin underneath. By the time Nāgasāni had found her, the essence had died down and she was human again, albeit one that was dressed in rags. Astrid looked up from her musings and raised a cautious brow, expecting the Mantis thing to return to her, not the leader of the courtesans that had given Lux her makeover. "Hmm? What do you need, little one? Have you seen the Burnished Mantis?" Astrid hadn't signed up for a complete makeover, she simply wanted a less conspicuous outfit in which to travel in, as such she steeled herself for what may be about to happen.

Nāgasāni smiled and bowed as she answered. "Yes I have. Mr Burnished Mantis has informed me of your need for a new dress, I have been sent to facilitate your desires lady Astrid..."

Of course the Mantis couldn't have just grabbed her an outfit and been done with it. It wasn't like she made the request in a whisper, or took cares to ensure she wouldn't be overheard. She absolutely wanted the teenage girls to all know about it, and to be the ones to fulfill her request. "Humm.... Indeed." It was a good thing the strong drink had put her in a cheerful demeanor, or she might have put up an unnecessarily dramatic response. "Very well Miss, lets be on with it then. But be warned, touch me not inappropriately. I'm squeamish." The last sentence ended with a slight smile on Astrid's part, as anyone who knew who for a short while could attest to quite the opposite.

The slight smile remained on the handmaiden leader who kept eye contact with the lunar chieftain. "Please, perish the thought lady Astrid. I can assure you that we are professionals and know how to conduct ourselves accordingly." She stepped aside and gestured behind her with another short bow. "Now if you would kindly come with me, I will escort you to one of our guest changing rooms."

Astrid simply nodded, silently following after Nagasani, her metallic boots creating a rhythmic clicking noise as she did. It wouldn't be the first time someone else had dressed her, but the Lunar simply wasn't up for being squeezed into a corset and having her face painted like a doll. She supposed if it came down to it, a delicate dance of dodging and deflecting their implements would be called for. Was breaking some of the courtesan's things considered rude while a guest in this court? Perhaps a simple scare tactic would be sufficient that breaking anything wouldn't be needed.

Meanwhile Nāgasāni silently confided in herself that Astrid might provide a slight bit more of a challenge than Lux, and happily welcomed the thought.




Barely did a minute even pass after Lux questioned what she was going to do with herself for the rest of the day when she seemed to receive an answer in the form of a slightly panicked Lakshmī who strode purposefully into the room. The young handmaiden hadn’t been certain on where to start her search for the Dragon-Blooded since it seemed that the other gathered Exalted were meandering about the spire now that they had the chance. However, it seemed best to start her search in the last place she knew Lux had been for certain...and indeed that had been the correct course of action since Lux had yet to even leave the table. Indeed, that struck Lakshmī as peculiar, but that curiosity could wait til later, after she’d gotten Lux to extinguish her Lantern’s blaze.

Relieved that she was able to find Lux with so little issue, Lakshmī made her way across the room with haste, stooping over a bit once she reach the Terrestrial’s side, and spoke to her in something of a hushed tone, softly rousing her from her ponderings, “Pardon me, Lady Lux?”

Though gentle Lakshmī was, Lux still couldn’t help but startle—she hadn’t even noticed that the handmaiden’s return. An odd sound came from Lux as she jumped a bit in her seat, her hand flying overtop her heart, and she turned and looked at Lakshmī and blinked a few times, noticing the hint of urgency upon the handmaiden’s face. “Ah, Lady Lakshmī, I-I apologize, you gave a bit of a fright there...what, um wh-what do you need of me?”

Lakshmī bowed her head slightly, “My Lady, I am sorry for surprising you as I did, but, Nāgasāni sent me to retrieve you. There has been a bit of an...incident, of sorts, in the launderette room, involving one of your possessions—a Red Jade lantern?”

As soon as Lux heard she went as still as the emerald statue that stood in the center of the room, she even stopped breathing as her pigment-colored face turned pallor. She knew where this was going, oh Creation, did she know....

“Could I please request that you follow me, and extinguish it? It seemed that even submerging it in a tub of water was not enough....”

Without hesitating, Lux nodded and quickly rose to her feet, answering in a jittery tone, “Of course!”

Lakshmī bowed slightly before turning on her heel, beckoning Lux to follow her, “Thank you, Lady Lux. I hope this shan’t take too terribly much of your day.”

Lakshmī moved so quickly that Lux was barely able to keep up with her—the heeled shoes she wore were definitely not helping her as she attempted to hurry along, she wasn’t used to such footwear, and she’d never understand why anyone would subject themselves to wearing such things.... As she rushed, she fretted over what she was going to find. That the Lantern was put into a tub of water did not bode well. Something like this had happened before—a curious set of hands fiddled with the odd Lantern, only for it to suddenly unleash an inextinguishable blaze, no matter who Lux had had examine the Lantern, no one but herself had ever seemed able to display any deliberate control over it. After the last time, when that barn had caught fire, she’d stopped trying....

The moonsilver-adorned maiden led the dragon blooded down the spires levels and into the washroom below. There Hotton had finished cleaning the remnants of the disaster that burned the floor, and were now nervously tending to the bubbling pool of water.

Upon seeing the state that the launderette room was in, Lux blanched and seethed. She’d been so blindsided after her involuntary makeover that she failed to even think about the Lantern or allowing it out of her presence...and, naturally, that lack thereof thought led to a small-scale disaster.

At this point the tub had started to boil slightly and Hotton had taken to raiding ice from the kitchen's cold box to delay the rise in water temperature. There was visible relief on her face once she saw Lakshmī return with Lux in tow. "Lady Lux, apologies for the inconvenience but we had a slight... mishap while handling one of your belongings." She nodded at the floor and the bubbling tub behind her. "Mayhaps you would be willing to lend us a hand in rectifying it?"

Lux, flabbergasted, shook herself from her stupor and looked to Hotton and then to the now boiling tub of water, “Oh, goodness, of course!” and she moved with single-mindedness. Indeed, even submerged in water, the Lantern still blazed mercilessly on! Slight mishap this had caused indeed.... The Dragon-Blooded stared down at the bubbling water before her for a moment, considering how to go about this. While the Lantern itself and the flames produced by it would not harm her, the water that the Lantern had brought to a boil, however...posed a problem. Thinking it over, Lux realized with another sigh that she had no other options as she set her hands upon the rim of the tub, “Lady Hotton, Lady Lakshmī, may I ask that you both provide me with a few feet of space?”

Hotton nodded, “Ah, certainly, Lady Lux.” and she moved back behind the Fire Aspect, standing rather near Lakshmī as per Lux’s request.

When Lux was certain that she had a wide enough berth, she steeled herself and with a grunt, used whatever strength she could muster to tip the tub onto its side, spilling the heated water across the scorched floor with a loud, metallic clatter. Without missing a beat, she hurriedly reach out and took hold of the Lantern before it could start sputtering forth unquenchable flames once more, and willed the object to soothe itself and return to its normal state. After a few moments of silence and calm, it seemed the “slight mishap” was absolved. Releasing a breath she didn’t even realize she’d been holding, Lux looked abashedly up at the two handmaidens who stood watching her in the doorway, a hint of curiosity on their young faces.

A rather nervous giggle escaped from Lux’s mouth, as she gave the girls a discomfited little smile. Pulling the Lantern to her middle, and loosely wrapping her arms around it, she cleared her throat, “I am sorry for the mess and this fiasco—I failed to consider what might happen if I let the Lantern out of sight when you took my clothes and gear to have them washed and mended.” she bowed her head, “If there is to be any sort of consequence for this, I will take it for you girls in full, given that this happened due to my own oblivious nature.”

"Oh no, absolutly not!" Hotton said with a wave. "It was our fault for being careless with your things to begin with. You needn't burden yourself with our mistake." As she spoke the youngest of the handmaidens grabbed a near by mop and was setting to the task of cleaning up the spilt water.

She wasn’t fond of the notion that the girls might suffer some consequence, no matter how minor, for this whole ordeal when it was her seemingly scarce foresight that’d caused it to occur in the first place. However, Lux remembered how her attempts at objecting to anything had went during her makeover, after all...and as much as it went against her instincts to insist upon doing something to at least help.... Lux had a feeling it would get her nowhere, as she’d said earlier, it was pretty much impossible for her to deny these girls anything, it seemed. So, Lux merely sighed, and ceded.

“I’d much prefer to assume accountability for this, but I do believe we’ve learned I’m easily swayed to your whims....”

Behind her, Lakshmī looked thoughtful and after a moment she spoke up. "If I may... there is something we could ask of you." Hotton paused and gave her 'sister' a confused glance, but the moonsilver clad girl ignored it. "We had recived a request to provide a change of clothing for Lady Astrid, similar to the one we gave you. When we are done here, would you be willing to accompany us? I feel your presence might make her more comfortable with our ministrations."

Regarding the tidbit of information given to her, and request, Lux looked to Lakshmī and dumbly blinked a few times. Astrid had...asked for a change in clothing, wanting something that was akin to what she was wearing? They wanted her along to help the Lunar feel...at ease? Certainly, she was willing to go along, but, Lux wasn’t sure how Astrid was going to feel about her company. Prior to the brunch with Fakharu, her status as a Terrestrial was made known to the party overall. Ashen, who was a Lunar himself, had his suspicions of her while they were still on the ship, but did not seem to treat her with any ill-will for it, she had the feeling he treated her as he’d treat any potential ally, really. Astrid, on the other hand.... Lux had yet to really interact with her in a one-on-one manner, and her impressions were from what she witnessed.

The Chieftain seemed to be a little bit of a rough woman, though proud and strong. How she might feel about Lux’s status as a Dragon-Blood while she herself was a Celestial...admittedly, Lux was a little on the anxious side regarding that—after all her plans had been to keep her caste under wraps til she felt she’d built up enough camaraderie that no one would care.

A frown crossed Lux’s face and she hunched inward a bit—she was rather dreading this, but there as no time like the present? Right? Better to address the dragon in the room, right...? Oh, Creation....

“If, if you think I might make Miss Astrid feel a touch more comfortable, then yes, I’d be happy to accompany you.”

"Thank you!" Lakshmi said with a smile. "It will just take us a few moments to finish here." Hotton however seemed to notice the slight hesitation on Lux's face, and stepped forward to offer an out. "That said have no desire to impose upon you if you feel unease with the request."

Had her nails not been manicured, Lux might’ve nibbled upon the tip of her thumb. Hotton was kind to offer her respite from Lakshmī’s request, but.... As nervous as she was, it really was probably best to do this now, while she’d worked up some of the necessary nerve. No matter when she’d finally interact with Astrid proper, she was going to be antsy. So, Lux merely shook her head in response to Hotton’s polite offer, “Thank you, Lady Hotton, but I think it best I go along with you now; no matter when I speak with Miss Astrid, I’m going to be all nerves since I do not know how she perceives Terrestrials. Better to do this sooner, rather than later.”

Both handmaidens simply smiled again and bowed. "As you wish Lady Lux." They said in unison and set to work finishing the clean up. Once they were finished minutes later they joined Lux again outside the room and together made their way towards the guest changing room.