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The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls

Truly fleeting...

0 · 154 views · located in Creation

a character in “A Tale in the Time of Tumult”, as played by Sepokku

Description

Name: The Wandering Artisan Clad in SoulsType and Caste/Aspect: Daybreak Abyssal
Nature: Artiste
Anima Banner: The Sluagh


Image



Attributes




Physical

STRENGTH (1) DEXTERITY (3) STAMINA (3)

Social

CHARISMA (3) MANIPULATION (2) APPEARANCE (4)

Mental

PERCEPTION (2) INTELLIGENCE (5) WITS (4)



Abilities


WARFARE

ARCHERY---------
ATHLETICS------- 4
AWARENESS------
DODGE----------- 2
INTEGRITY-------
MARTIAL ARTS---
MELEE------------
RESISTANCE------1
THROWN---------
WAR--------------


LIFE
CRAFT------------- 5
LARCENY----------
LINGUISTICS------
PERFORMANCE---
PRESENCE--------
RIDE--------------
SAIL---------------
SOCIALIZE--------
STEALTH----------
SURVIVAL---------



WISDOM
BUREAUCRACY
INVESTIGATION
LORE----------- 5
MEDICINE------ 4
OCCULT-------- 4

SPECIALTIES
Necrotech (Craft)
Soulforging (Craft)
Geomancy (Craft)
Spirit Courts (Lore/Occult)
Magitech (Craft)



YOUR LIFE



PERSONALITY

Despicable and lacking morals would be a compliment to Artisan, as in truth he is actually much worse. Were it not for his ties to the Guild, he may have been hunted down and executed long ago. As a conniving sculptor of flesh, Artisan prefers to keep quiet, allowing his creations to speak for themselves. When pursuing things he wants or needs, he can be quite amiable, tending to bend words by lies of omission or half-truths. Though loathe to admit it, every so often he finds himself still dreaming about his love, Lea.

Though darkened by the Abyssal exaltation, Artisan still maintains most of his personality from when he was a simple scholar. Mornings are usually spent tending to various plants and flowers that remind him of his mother. The afternoons see him applying himself to whatever project most urgently needs his attention. Finally, nights are most often reserved for reading or praying.
Image
Motivation(s)
    Create Ghosts
    His Spirit Court
    Indentured Servants
    Helping Others to the Sweet Embrace of Death
    Creating New War Machines

VIRTUES
COMPASSION: 5
TEMPERANCE: 3
CONVICTION: 1
VALOR: 1

RESONANCE
Unlike other Exalted, Abyssals do not have a Limit Trait. Instead, their corrupted destiny manifests in an aura of unease known as Resonance. As Resonance increases, an Abyssal’s spectral nature seeps to the surface and discomfits those around her. Living beings sense this aura as unnatural and unclean, while the dead and other Abyssals feel the palpable doom of the Neverborn’s displeasure. Even if the character does not actively interact with others, her aura makes those around her subtly uncomfortable. Direr still, the atavistic taint of Resonance opposes Virtues.

MERITS
Underworld Ties: You know where the bodies are buried. Literally. You know the major families and gangs who run the Underworld, and while they might not like you, they respect you enough to let you live. You can call in these markers to find, buy, even get items, identity papers, hideouts, even get smuggled out of a city, but the more you use these ties, the more tenuous they get, unless you can strengthen them somehow.
Guild Ties: You know how the corporations that dominate work. You know the ins and outs of the business, and you know movers and shakers. You can get wind of deals, you can hop private skyships, get hotel rooms, and other freebies by placing a few calls. You can hear all the gossip, even check records by dropping your name, but beware, the more you use this Merit, the more tenuous the relationship becomes, and you can squander your pull by using it too often unless you can offer something in return.
Spirit Magnet: Spirits find you irresistible. They congregate near you and often compete for your attention. If taken as a Merit, they will seek to protect you and will advise your character if they can manifest.
FLAWS
Whispers: As an emissary between the gods and man, you hear the prayers of the common people as a constant murmur. You are down one die on Perception-based rolls unless a Willpower is spent to suppress it for a scene.
Shades in the Sun: Your supernatural nature is apparent even if your Anima isn’t flaring: Animals sometimes pay you obeisance, Horses often sweat in your presence, your shadow sometimes moves on its own, your reflection sometimes shows your anima, and your eyes may glow when angry.
Past Contract: In a past life the character made a bargain with a spirit or a group of spirits, a bargain that would reach beyond the grave. The oath was sanctified by a powerful member of the Eclipse Caste or someone of similar authority. Even though the character is merely a reincarnation the spirits will still fully recognize her as the oath partner and will act accordingly.


PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Image

Pale, with skin that looks like it was stretched over bone. His gorgeous raven hair turned deathly pale after being Exalted, and all color drained from his skin, leaving him looking like a vampire. Due to living in Creation, he dresses in the trappings of death, mostly black and drab colors that were taken from places associated with death.

BACKGROUND

Artisan's birth name was Dresden Ragnarsson, born to a Nobleman scholar and a medicine-woman. He was brought up as a Gods-fearing child and taught the trades of both his parents so that he may choose either that suited him. As the only child, he was doted on and grew up being shielded from all the world's problems. Thanks to his parents being very successful in their careers, he was able to live a very affluent lifestyle.

Servants waited on Dresden's hand and foot, ensuring that he never wanted to anything. He spent his early life playing with the townsfolk and studying all that he could. Often his parents wouldn't allow him to leave unless he expressed knowledge on certain topics. It's no embellishment to say he was popular with the ladies, and growing up he had many off-and-on flings. His first real hardship was the death of his mother, who succumbed to an unidentified sickness.

Before long, Dresden was a fine young man, and though he made no real friends, he was soon betrothed to a scholar named Lea. Madly in love, the two moved away and built a life together. Dresden plied his trades, becoming the local medicine-man and the one people came to for advice on many matters. Together they had three children, a girl named Cleo, the eldest, and two boys named Lyle and Cyrille.

It was Cleo's eighth birthday, a celebration that most of the town came to attend, even if only due to the feast that was prepared. Lyle and Cyrille were playing outside, which is why their screams alerted Dresden to what was happening. Assassins had made their way into the city, they wanted to kidnap Dresden and ransom him back to his father.

As Dresden and Lea ran outside to help their worried children, they found their kids being held, hostage. Lea's gasp brought Cleo running, and Dresden gave himself up willingly. However, the Assassins were thoroughly sadistic, slaughtering his children and wife. Bereft with grief, they transported him to where the exchange was to take place.

His father had brought the money, but the Assassins demanded: "Money first, hostage second." Dresden tried to scream, to warn his father not to listen, but a swift punch to the gut knocked the wind from him. Powerless, watching death creep closer and closer to him, knowing they'd kill him once they had the ransom. When the father was close enough to strike, the assassins did him in also, laughing and lauding it over Dresden. "You're next," they taunted him, as Dresden watched the life drain from his father's eyes. Then a voice contacted him, The Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible, offering to save him.

"I'll do anything!" The terrified man screamed, and in a moment the Bishop burst from the ground in a pillar of black flame, crushing the first assassin's head with a lethal blow. Though trained, they were no match for the manifested Deathlord and in moments they all lay dead. Dresden stared with confusion at the creature before him, and the contract he promised it, before being spirited away to the Neverborn.

From there, he underwent training in the Labyrinth, learning the philosophy of the Void. It was there that he gave up his old name and his destiny to the Void. That was when the whispers began, constant meaningless drivel in his ears, always. After judgment before the Neverborn and being deemed worthy, the Bishop hastily performed the Black Pact and left to wander Underworld, and learn its ways. A Neverborn Lord claimed the stars held great things for Artisan, and thanks to this fact, he was set free in Creation to proselytize death.

It was then that he was approached by a court of spirits that explained one of his predecessors had signed a contract with them. They were powerful beings, but they came with a monumental responsibility. Artisan was to destroy House V'neef, as it was favored by The Scarlet Empress, who was a sworn enemy of the spirits. They explained many things to the Abyssal, including the failings of the Realm's bureaucracy. That was when the whispers suddenly made sense. They were prayers of destruction upon House V'neef. Deciding that the Bishop would encourage the destruction of House V'neef, Artisan and his newfound spirit court hit the road.

He would need many things to fulfill his new contract, the least of which would be funding. With that in mind, he began a grand journey to secure funding. His mother has used a homemade painkiller in her practice. Conveniently enough it was also a popular drug in Creation, and he knew exactly how to make it. Thinking of poppy flowers brought a pang of longing for his family, which unfortunately caused Artisan's first encounter with the Abyssal Curse. Neverborn whispered in his ears, blasphemy unholy things as his Resonance grated against Creation. Feeling lost, he wondered at the kind of person he'd become. Perhaps he should have let the assassins give him a clean death, along with his parents. The thought caused another flare of Resonance, which in turn made him once more lament his sudden lack of humanity.

Though he has no idea how long that cycle continued, by the time that the unholy clicker training that is the Abyssal Curse was over, Artisan was surrounded by a field of poppies; and utterly convinced it would be better to ignore his original life altogether. This was the man that he was now, and he would play his role without qualms. The opium that came from the poppies was sold to the Guild, who in turn provided Artisan with an avenue for more drugs to sell and a steady supply of slaves. As compassionate as he was, Artisan could never fully support slavery. Instead, he made all slaves indentured servants and allowed them to work off the money he had used to buy them.

With his new servants, Artisan set up a workshop and began turning out ingenious and twisted Necrotech while growing all manner of plants to supplement his income. Very quickly, Artisan found himself the owner of a profitable business with strange and exotic plants dotting the surrounding fields. They were usually tended to by skilled servants who had refused to leave even after they were no longer indentured, but sometimes Artisan would take the time to enjoy caring for them himself.

Artisan didn't feel completely comfortable around his servants but he admitted it was nice to not have to do all the sewing himself, it gave him time to do things that he preferred after all. Slowly the workshop grew, as did his relationship to the Guild, which inevitably led to the Atami family and Nighthammer gang approaching him. They were major powers in Nexus, and they wanted to purchase some of his creations, to which he eagerly agreed. The resources he suddenly had at his disposal allowed him to create his most magnificent work yet, a loathsome suit of magitech armor. Only a few days after the armor was complete, Fakharu's letter arrived. Artisan left his creations to guard the workshop and set out to meet the boat.

Image



MAGIC, GEAR AND TALENTS
Essence score: 3
Health: 9/9
Willpower pool: 8/8


Essence motes

Personal: 9
Peripheral: 23


CHARMS

1. Crypt Bolt: (Lore 2 1M per Tick Duration: Instant) The character reaches out his hand, and a bolt of crackling darkness leaps from his outstretched palm, rolling Dexterity+Athletics/Thrown) doing two lethal damage per mote spent. Damage inflicted by this Charm is lethal and manifests as sudden decay: Metal corrodes or rusts, while wood and flesh wither away as though blighted by disease and aging. The range of this charm is (Essence Score*30) feet and does aggravated damage to creatures of the Wyld. (Stamina+Lore) is the maximum number of motes able to be spent on this charm?
2. Essence Scattering Blast: (Lore 3 1+M/1WP Duration: Instant) The character extends his arm, and a bolt of coruscating energy flies from his fingertips. If this bolt strikes a being with an Essence pool, it envelops her in ribbons of black lightning and drains her energy. Although it inflicts no damage, Essence-Scattering Blast otherwise follows the same rules as Crypt Bolt with regards to its Range, Accuracy, and roll to hit. Victims struck by this attack lose 1 mote of Essence for every mote spent activating this Charm, plus a number of additional motes equal to the Exalt’s permanent Essence. If applicable, victims always lose Peripheral Essence before Personal Essence. This Charm dissipates harmlessly if it hits anything besides a magical being, including unExalted mortals. A character cannot spend more motes on this Charm than his Stamina + Lore.
3. Breath-Draining Prana: (Lore 5 1M Duration: Instant) With this Charm, an Abyssal may feed on a target's life force directly without even touching her. The player rolls Willpower. Each success inflicts one die of lethal damage that can only be soaked with Stamina. For every level of damage actually inflicted, the Abyssal regains 1 mote of Essence. This Charm can also target the Essence pool of a magical being, with successes draining motes directly on a one-for-one basis. So long as the Exalt drains fewer motes than a target's Stamina, she may not even notice the loss — attributing the sudden weakness to some other cause. However, Essence drained from another magical being's pool glimmers in the air as it flows out of the victim's mouth and into the Abyssal's own. This Charm can target any being in the deathknights line of sight.
4. First Craft Excellency: Essence Overwhelming (Craft 1 1M/die) Abyssals with this charm are known for their terrible brilliance, The Exalt invokes this Charm when making a roll with the relevant ability, this Charm then adds one dice per mote spent to that roll. The max motes you may spend on this excellency is (Ability+Attribute)
5. Enhanced Dexterity Discipline (Athletics 4 Essence 2 2M/tick Duration: One Scene) Suffusing his flesh and bones with Essence, the Abyssal briefly elevates his physical prowess to superhuman levels. For every 2 motes spent, the character increases his Dexterity by one dot. The character cannot increase an Attribute by more than his permanent Essence rating.
6. Shadowlands Circle Necromancy (Occult 3 Essence 3 1WP) Spells always cost 1WP to activate and have additional Mote cost.
7. Corpse Body Resilience (Resistance 1 Duration: Permanent) The bodies of the Exalted are much more durable than those of mere mortals. To help simulate this, an Exalt may buy extra health levels with this Charm. The purchasing choices are based on the character’s Stamina rating: At Stamina 1 and 2: One -1 and one -2 health level.3 and 4: One -1 and two -2 health levels.5: One -0, one -1, and one -2 health level. The Abyssal may purchase Corpse-Body Resilience (Resistance) times. If she increases her Stamina after purchasing Ox-Body Technique, her health levels automatically change to reflect the new rating.

COMBOS


SORCERY/NECROMANCY

Walking War Machine (Varies): Few weapons sow as much terror among living armies as the undead siege engines employed by the Deathlords. With this spell, a necromancer can use Essence to animate such devices. The Exalt must first build or oversee the building of the monstrosity with his player making an extended Intelligence + Craft (Necrosurgery) roll to represent this. Bodies must be cut and stitched together and any grafts of metal inserted where appropriate. The Storyteller decides the difficulty based on the size and complexity of the weapon. For example, a spine chain needs one success for every two segments. Once the creature is complete, the necromancer simply touches it and invests 2 motes for every success needed to assemble it. Monsters created with this Charm serve their master to the best of their limited Intelligence. Statistics for spine chains can be found on page 300 of Exalted. Other devices are left to players’ imagination and Storyteller approval but should be of a similar power level.


PREFERRED FIGHTING STYLE
Ranged
Necrotech
Necromancy


LANGUAGES KNOWN

High Realm



EQUIPMENT AND POSSESSIONS

The loathsome osseous shell is the Mask of Winters’ answer to the gunzosha soldier of Lookshy’s Seventh Legion. It is the weakest and most common of the bleak frames used by the Mask of Winters to empower his followers. In addition to the normal processes involved in building magitech, creating a loathsome osseous shell requires the use of the spell Walking War Machine. The shell is a terrifying, seven-foot-tall exoskeleton of bone and metal that opens at the approach of the living, inviting them in. A built-in Artifact • attunement spike (which drains 1/M on activation and every hour thereafter) stabs into a wearer’s neck, animating the shell and giving control. The osseous shell grants the following benefits:
• Integration Ports*: Various spikes and slots permit the attachment of other Necrotech to augment the wearer’s senses, weapons, and the like - currently attached Necrotech: Bone Skewer Autonomous Ranged Attack: Speed 7, Dmg +2L, 3 Accuracy, Rate 1, Range 10 (Dexterity+Thrown:4+4=8)
• Armor: The shell grants +9L/9B soak and 5L/5B Hardness, with a -2 mobility penalty and no fatigue.
• Unholy Might*: Doubles wearer’s ground speed; +2 bonus to Strength for feats of strength and inflicting damage with attacks.
• Unholy Prowess*: +2 bonus to all attacks; +1 Parry DV.
• Unholy Resilience*: +2 bonus to Resistance. +1 Stamina
• Terrifying: As the default for Necrotech.(Necrotech creations are inherently terrifying. Untrained animals flee their presence or otherwise react as in distress. Against living people, these creatures receive a +2 bonus to all rolls made to frighten them) This feature does not affect the wearer.
The loathsome osseous shell needs maintenance every 120 hours of use. After 20 hours of use without maintenance, the suit negates the ability to feel pain and gains a fatigue value of 1. This value increases by 1 every 20 hours until the suit seizes up after 100 missed hours.

Clothes took from a corpse, Three funeral veils, A dead man's saber, Armor exhumed from a crypt, Intricate pendant depicting spiders feasting on a man's flesh,
Three Statuettes of skeletons, Hat stole from a dying man, Eight Black Candles took from a funeral, Seven flasks of embalming fluids, Six sprigs of the nightshade, Four yards of Black Ivy

A locket with Lea's portrait

Three empty glass bottles with cork stoppers, Six large bottles of ground bone,

Small journal, Ink, and Inkwell

A bow and Quiver, Ninety Arrows

A human slave

Three pairs of Shackles and Manacles

A steel flask full of whiskey

Surgical Knives, Hammer, Drill, Surgical Saw, Siphon,

Opium and Poppy Seeds

Marijuana, Cocaine, Qat

300 ft of Rope


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So begins...

The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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In all, she really wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all...this. Though her life was rather dictated by strange ordeals and unusual phenomena, she knew enough to understand that she’d committed herself to something that was on an entirely different level. Why she of all the Exalted in Creation had been chosen….

She, who wandered Creation aimless and without purpose. She, who was uncertain of her lot. She, who’d become a black sheep among those other loyal Solars, who wholeheartedly supported what she found herself doubting.

There were many others, many who were stronger, and many who had achieved feats that marked them as heroes in the eyes of some. Yet, it was she that had received a summons and a plea from none other than a member of the Celestial Bureaucracy—a Dragon. She had the option to refuse the request...however, she could not in good conscious do so. Even if it was far beyond her understanding as to why she was sought out, she wasn’t one to deny what seemed to be a legitimate appeal for aid. If there was something she could do to help absolve whatever sort of situation this was, she’d oblige to the best of her capabilities, that was the right thing to do, after all.

Though doubt and questions plagued her, Lux boarded the ethereal ship that’d awaited her—it had seemed she’d been amidst the first of its pickups. The deck was empty, there was no one aboard as the ship sailed itself to and fro.

The salty sea air was cool against her skin. Heavy and damp, it settled upon her in a manner that felt almost weighted. Though perhaps contradictory, it was both comforting and unsettling. Such was how it always was when she’d traveled upon the seas. It always felt as if the oceans and its spirits weren’t entirely sure how to feel about her. The waters could be as smooth as glass, the winds as gentle as a sigh, and the skies as clear as crystal, and never could she find herself feeling completely at ease upon the ocean. This instance was no different.

As the ghostly ship made what Lux assumed to be its rounds, gathering up other willing individuals, Lux herself had decided that she would seat herself upon its deck and...wait. She’d wait and observe those who were apparently to form her traveling party. It wasn’t often that she actually traveled with a group—since it was she’d decided to try to find her own way, she really had been finding her own way. It was a rare day that she was ever in the company of another for more than a short while. Agreeing to whatever task this was also meant to agreeing to be in the company of whomever else had decided to at least hear out their summoner. It was worth her taking a bit of time to merely watch. Most definitely, they were an odd bunch. Lux continued her vigil, making no motion to greet or speak to anyone as they boarded the ship, instead she opted to nibble upon a small piece of chocolate that she’d fished out of one of her many pockets.

….well, she kept silent, til another one of the few stray passengers decided to be the one who broke the ice. By the looks of him, he was a Lunar—an Exalt that was meant to be the shadow to the light of a Solar Exalt like herself. In her short life, she’d met a few Lunars...and it seemed she was to meet yet more. Lux kept her green eyes trained upon him, as he cleared his throat and spoke, “So...no that all of we be here, I think introductions be in order.” he bowed, placing a hand across his chest, “I be named Ashen Sky of Wavecrest. Might I have tha pleasure of knowing who might ye all be?”

Wavecrest…. So, this Lunar hailed from the West—though his accent would’ve made Lux suspect as much, even if he hadn’t openly announced it. She was familiar with the accent, after all, Vered had developed a mild one from her time there that bled into and dyed any of the other tongues she spoke.

Perhaps she might be better off still attempting to observe and muse over her apparent companions...Lux could not bring herself to ignore the Lunar’s—Ashen’s—attempt to instigate introductions. It’d be a while since she’d had to introduce herself to a group…. It’d been a while since she’d been in a group of people who would need to even know her name at all. It was an odd feeling, realizing that.

Well...no time like the present to get over that…! Is what some people might say. Lux was not one of those people, but she was one to make an honest attempt, at least. So, deciding to bite the arrow, she breathed in deep as she swallowed the bit of chocolate she’d been savoring. She hoisted herself upward with a needless sound escaping her throat as she habitually brushed off her bottom before she herself returned the gesture of a shallow bow to him, the sea breeze tousling her short hair as she so—she felt it brush against the scar upon her forehead. After a moment, Lux stood herself back upright, and clasped her hands together at her front, and smiled.

“Introductions are always awkward, aren’t they?” she awkwardly laughed before she half-snorted as she tried to clear her throat—realizing what sort of noise she’d made, her cheeks reddened a bit, “Ah...anyway, I’m Lux...Fiala, I suppose you could say I hail from The Scavenger Lands?” Lux stopped herself there, that was enough for an introduction, wasn’t it? “As it stands, it’s nice to make your acquaintance, Ashen. And it’s nice to make everyone else’s, as well.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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#, as written by Sepokku
“Chieftain, there was a messenger today.”

Astrid’s skin fluttered ever so slightly as she practiced the Unfettering, her skin shifting and adjusting ever so slightly as the protean nature of her very existence made itself known. The gift from Luna did not cease to change her form, nor did her eyes open, “And?”

“The Censor of the West requests your presence.”

Her left eye opened, a cat-eyed pupil staring back at the elk spirit that stood before her. Slowly the pupil returned to the shape of a human’s, “Very well.” The Chieftain rose to her feet and with a lazy stretch, immediately beginning preparing for departure.


The vessel that met her was by no means shabby. Deciding that the West was incredibly misogynistic, Astrid opted to take on a male form for her initial contact with the ship’s crew and the Censor himself. With a whim, her hair was shortened to a bob cut, her chest smoothed out, and her hips slimmed down to that of a man’s. Without bluster, she walked onto the ship and waited.

She hadn’t been the first person that the vessel had picked up. A small creature sat on the deck nearby, nibbling on cacao. Astrid’s nose twitched slightly, cacao didn’t grow well in the North. At least, not where she was from. The scent reminded her of delicate fruit that had been dipped in liquid cacao, it was quite a blissful memory. She’d only been lucky enough to try such a delicacy twice before. Sighing, she found herself a place on the deck and laid on her back to stare at the sky while she waited.

After some time, and picking up a few more “honored guests,” someone began to speak. “I be Ashen Sky of Wavecrest.” Astrid became suddenly aware that the person speaking was a Lunar. Her war-form blurred into existence as she towered at her full height of two hundred and fifty-five centimeters.

Covered in white and black fur, Astrid silently walked towards Ashen Sky until she was able to clearly look him up and down. As a human, she was a bit lean and fairly tall, but not incredibly imposing in stature. However, in this form, she was a paragon of sinewy muscle, the fusion of tiger and human. She bared her teeth in a grin, “Cascading Moonlight.” The runic tattoos that fixed her shape into something almost tangible flared into existence, telling a story of her time in the Silver Pact.


The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls poured the last of his watering can onto the final poppy flower. It certainly could have been left up to his servants, but it brought about a certain level of catharsis in Artisan to do it himself. Smiling, he began to make his way back to the workshop that lies at the center of his field of plants.

“Sir, a message.”

Stopping for a moment, Artisan picked a few flowering plants that were used to create Nepenthe. The flowers were beautiful this time of the year. “What does it say?”

One of the spirits bound to him answered, “We’re needed.”

“Always.” With a warm smile, the Deathknight’s delicate hands waved the spirit away. One of his employees was nearby watching over the indentured servants. “Gentry. I will be out on business for a bit. Care for the shop while I’m out?”


Artisan stood in front of a wagon as the boat pulled up before him. “Load her up.” His servants carefully removed the box from the back of the wagon and took their time putting it onto the ship. He smiled to himself as he boarded the ship, it was about time the powers that be recognized his talents.

“I be Ashen Sky of Wavecrest.” One of the guests previous to him had begun to speak as the boat had started to sail away, which seemed to upset someone else who had arrived before him. The man who had spoken was approached by another man who had shifted into a mixture between human and animal. ”Lunars…” Artisan would never know why Luna’s children always had to have a pissing contest with whoever they met. With a bored expression, the Abyssal watched the scene play out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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Under the brilliance of a full moon the surface of a natural spring glistened, with silken robes hanging in a nearby tree. The peaceful beautiful of the scene was soon interrupted by the emergence of a golden haired man from the center of the spring. They pulled their long hair back and tied it, with a cord on their wrist, into a ponytail. Standing up the man exposed himself while walking to the silken robes, drying himself before adorning himself with the robes.

After dressing the man grabbed a small wine container and his intricately crafted staff hidden among the grass underneath the tree. Taking a long swig from the wine within they walked towards their lodging, a large inn room located near the spring. Inside their room a woman was laying down in their bed, their clothes discarded and their body shining from sweat from their earlier engagement. The man placed some sheets on her before taking another drink from their container.

The man was known as Baek Kwan and had operated in this coastal town for over a month. They are a wandering exalted, offering their services to those willing to pay. Their activities had gained them some renown among those with enough wealth to purchase their services while instilling fear on those who would act against them. This had gained Kwan an equal amount of allies and enemies as well as money and influence. The monetary gain however wasn't his main motivation, it was the influence and information he could gain through his activities.

This is because he was not just any exalted, he was a Solar exalted. Solar's are hunted down and executed by those currently in power and the fragile egos of the Dragon-blooded. Baek Kwan's goals aligned with the Gold Faction, a group of people who wanted to see the Solar exalted back in control, overthrowing the corrupt Realm. He didn't have any desire to rule, in fact he didn't even really believe that Solar's would rule any better, he just had a personal grudge against the Realm and the Great Houses that flourished within. He would align himself with them as long as he could use their influence and power to exact his revenge.

While drinking and watching the beautiful scene outside their room, Kwan saw a peculiar sight. A crystal winged Osprey was flying towards his room, landing about a foot away from him. Curious he approached the bird and obtained the scroll the bird was carrying. Unfurling and reading the message revealed that the sender was requesting their presence at the spire of Fakharu. Apparently their deeds had gained them enough renown or notoriety to rouse the interest of the Censor of the Celestial Bureaucracy and Dragon of Water for a matter of 'personal interest'. Intrigued by the proposal and the possible gains he could make by participating, Kwan drank a little more wine before a fox like smile adorned his face.

Baek Kwan awaited the arrival of the arrival of the ivory ship with a small number of bags carrying a few essentials needed while journeying. While waiting he looked among his supplies, among them hidden was a container housing opium, tobacco, and an assortment of herbs for smoking. Kwan had attempted to rid himself of his vices but his addiction to the sweet taste of opium was hard to overcome. He would attempt to stave it off with vices which held a smaller grasp on him but he would carry some with him just in case.

A mist had settled into the harbor before the ivory shipped arrived to welcome him aboard. After walking up the ramp Kwan noticed that there was already a number of occupants onboard. One was a man with that had a number of animalistic features visible and silver tattoos adorning their body, undoubtedly a Lunar exalt. A young looking woman was also nearby, she was eating chocolate, a delicacy but not entirely uncommon. He couldn't tell what exalted they were just from their appearance. The others onboard were also hard to distinguish just by appearance, although one was very pale a common trait of an Abyssal.

After some time the ship hadn't made any additional stops, meaning that those onboard were probably the entirety of the party asked to attend. It could be possible that there was another ship or that other members may be further a long but until such an event occur it was safe to assume that this was all of the passengers.

In an attempt to 'break the ice' the visible Lunar had chosen to address everyone and introduce themselves saying, “So… no that all of we be here, I think introductions be in order. I be named Ashen Sky of Wavecreast. Might I have tha pleasure of knowing who might ye all be?”

In response the young lady said, “Introductions are always awkward, aren’t they?” She awkwardly laughed before she half-snorted as she tried to clear her throat. She seemed embarrassed by the action which elicited Baek Kwan's familiar fox like smile. “Ah . . . anyway, I’m Lux . . . Fiala, I suppose you could say I hail from The Scavenger Lands? As it stands, it’s nice to make your acquaintance, Ashen. And it’s nice to make everyone else’s, as well.” Still smiling, Kwan gave her a slight nod.

A less friendlier exchange then occurred as a man of slight build approached the Lunar. The slight man then began to transform, revealing white and black fur as well as a more muscular build and tiger traits. The tiger Lunar then bared their teeth in a grin, responding with only two words, “Cascading Moonlight.” Their greeting seemed like some sort of challenge but Kwan was unfamiliar with the customs of Lunar exalted.

The pale skinned man said something but was too far for Baek Kwan to pick up exactly. They seemed to be disinterested in introducing themselves as well as the Lunar's exchange. They did continue to observe the exchange with a bored expression.

Ashen Sky then responded to the Lunar's greeting. Activating a charm before replying, "Guide your hunt." He then placed his hands on his hip and gazed at the other Lunar. "Well, well. An impressive shape ta' take. Ya wear it as fashion big boyo or did ya put it on jus fer me?" His appearance darkened, making his shimmering silver tattoos become more pronounced before continuing, "What, were ya worried I'd bite?"

Kwan wasn't all too interested in their exchange so he chose instead to approach Lux, sitting a few feet away from her. Removing some tobacco and cloves from within his bag and the hidden pipe in his robes, Kwan prepared his pipe and lit it with a match. Taking a few drags before exhaling the smoke away from Lux. Kwan offered his hand in greeting to her before saying, "Nice to meet you as well, Lady Fiala." He then interrupted the Lunar's exchange by introducing himself with a fox like grin. "Name is Baek Kwan . . . Anyone know anything about what we got ourselves into or are we all just as in the dark as each other?"


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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#, as written by Sepokku
Astrid’s eyes did not falter, her gaze locked firmly onto Ashen Sky, a critical look of assessment on her face. She barely paid attention to his words while examining the tattoos that adorned his body. Lunars from the West had the most dramatic Moonsilver Tattoos, a simple necessity of people who found themselves frequently in water. The story his tattoos told was one of Cunning and desperation, not that desperation was uncommon among the Lunars. She had experienced plenty of desperation herself...

“Were ya worried I’d bite?”

She continued to stare him down for a few long seconds before replying. “I’m sure your bark is worse than your bite.” So this was one of the men that were to be her packmate for the time being. “You’re from the West. I hope you don’t ascribe to that patriarchal bullshit.” With a roll of her shoulders, Astrid turned away from the other Lunar and started prowling away. She called over her shoulder, “You’re one of Luna’s children, gender, form, and reality are mutable to you. Reconcile that with Western ideals.”

Raising a hand to her face to hide a yawn, Astrid’s form shifted down into that of a small black cat. Her eyes scanned the remaining occupants of the boat before her padded feet carried her silently to the side of the only other woman on board, where she curled into a ball and promptly began to nap.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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….whatever attempts she would’ve made to further the initiated introductions, they were otherwise interrupted by something of a show of...force? Capability? Between the Lunar known as Ashen Sky and yet another Lunar who’d joined the fray—they’d called themselves “Cascading Moonlight,” and assumed a form between human and tiger—one that was large and was meant to be intimidating. Yet, Lux actually found it fascinating, and perhaps it was childish, but she actually thought that it was really neat.

Lux had crossed paths with Lunars prior to this but, never more than one at a time. She didn’t know if this interaction between Ashen and Moonlight was a completely expected occurrence. Did all Lunars attempt to assert themselves when they met another? Overall, she knew actually very little about Lunars and their ways. The only sources of information she had were ones she herself didn’t quite feel were reliable. Those who mentored her, who taught her before she set out on her own…. Though they would’ve probably liked for her to have accepted their words and “lessons” about Lunars at face value, but Lux had her doubts about the validity of their teachings. They’d always tried to make it seem like they were supposed to be lesser than herself because she was a Solar…that wasn’t something that had ever sat well with Lux, and it never would.

A nervous grin crept up over Lux’s face as the exchange between the two Lunars continued—Ashen activating some sort of Charm, mirroring the other Lunar’s form. She could make out a subtle silver glimmer from his form as it seemed to darken, a projected air of predation had overcome him. That was it, however. It was a sort of show. A way to confer that even if he might not win in fight, it’d take too much effort for it to be worthwhile. Even if Lux didn’t know squat about Lunars and their customs, it was still easy enough to read an interaction for what it was...insofar as she was concerned, at least.

The presence of others attracted by the scene broke Lux from her own musings about it...and she silent craned her own head about to observe. ….a Deathknight was evidently among their summoned party, how curious. She knew even less about they than she did about Lunars, though she knew one was under the service of the Gold Faction. ….his name eluded her, as she’d only had ever heard him spoken of in hushed tones. Lux knew of the wives’ tales and dark whispered rumors that surrounded Deathknights, their very existences, and their overall everything. What was truth and what was hearsay, she couldn’t say, nor did she she want to dye her expectations of them with falsities. Whoever and whatever sort of individual this Deathknight was, that was something to be judged based upon his actions, and Lux would come to her own conclusions in time.

Again, lost in her own thoughts, Lux found herself somewhat startled from them by the sound of a match being struck to life rather nearby her, and it took almost every bit of the little Eclipse’s composure to not squawk in a manner that would most certainly attract seagulls under normal sailing circumstances. Though, there was nothing she could do to stop the inevitable reddening of her cheeks as she turned to look at the source of the sound—only to find that a hand was extended toward her. “Nice to meet you, Lady Fiala.”

The overly formal way in which she was addressed made Lux freeze. Never in her whole short life had she’d been called a “Lady.” She wasn’t of noble birth or high status. She really didn’t quite know how to react to that. It might seem rude to rebuff the attempt at politeness, but it felt really weird to her to be addressed as “Lady” anything. During Lux’s inner debate over how to handle this, the owner of the hand that was still extended toward her blundering self again spoke, this time making a point to address everyone else. “Name is Baek Kwan…. Anyone know anything about what we got ourselves into or are we all just in the dark as each other?”

Shaking off her doubt and uncertainties, Lux wanted to smack herself for taking so long to respond to the man—Kwan. She was never one who excelled in the realm of socializing, if she was to be traveling with these people for a somewhat significant timeframe, she needed to remedy that as much as possible, and the moments she spent getting lost in her own head needed to cease ASAP. Going forward with that line of thought, Lux made it a point to awkwardly shove her small hand into the man’s and try to shake it. Handshakes weren’t something she’d done a lot of either.

“Uh, Mister Kwan, I can’t say that I personally know much about what’s going on either.” Lux answered him, pulling her hand back to her side as she clasped both together at chest level, and twiddled her thumbs. “I received a request for my presence, to help resolve some evidently dire situation, and I obliged. What that situation is, I do not know though....” she mumbled the last bit, and turned her eyes down toward her hands. Lux mustered a small shrug, however. The lack thereof knowledge really did not do much to actually bother her. “In truth, I’m more curious why I was summoned. I mean, if it’s believed I can be of help, then I’ll gladly do what I can, though it may not be much....”

As Lux had spoken, it seemed that she had missed the conclusion of the encounter between the Lunars. It was only when Lux caught sight of Moonlight’s form shifting once more, shrinking down into the shape of a cat that she even realized. Her gaze was instantly back upon the Lunar, whose feline eyes were scanning between them all...til they settled upon her. Lux’s eyes followed the Lunar as she trotted on over to her side, plopped herself down and began to...sleep. This was regarded with silence from the Eclipse Caste, she wasn't wholly sure what to think. The hybrid form that Moonlight had assumed before had been fascinating to Lux, but this one was….

“Cute….” the thought slipped from Lux’s mouth before she could help herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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#, as written by Sepokku
Artisan watched the display play out between the two Lunars with a bored expression, his mouth upturned slightly when the second Lunar changed appearance; it seemed the two had to establish some sort of pack hierarchy, just like the dogs he had grown up with. For a brief moment, he entertained the notion of training either Lunar using positive reinforcement, just as he had trained all his dogs, before dismissing it as entirely unnecessary.

The tall blonde-haired man who had boarded after Artisan meandered towards the blonde-haired girl who had introduced herself as Lux. For a split second, the moonlight framed the duo and the whispers of the Neverborn sounded senselessly in the Abyssal’s ears. Those two had to be Solars, probably. At the very least the Neverborn did not appreciate their being on the voyage. The man produced a pipe and tobacco which raised a question Artisan hadn’t considered before. Can Exalted still feel the effects of various drugs and poisons? As far as he knew, only very strong poisons worked on them; by extension would very strong drugs be the only way for an Exalted to use?

“Name is Baek Kwan . . . Anyone know anything about what we got ourselves into or are we all just as in the dark as each other?”

After a moment, the blonde girl answered the stranger’s query, though she seemed just as lost as he was. She seemed almost as eager to help as a puppy that was to one day be a sheepdog. Idly Artisan wondered if all Solars were this clueless, certainly the Bishop mentioned they were mostly without guidance these days.

The Lunars seemed to finish their exchange, as one of them shifted into a cat and joined the two Solars. It suddenly hit Artisan that this was the most Exalted, nay the only Exalted that Artisan had seen since joining their ranks. Putting on his most winning smile, the Deathknight slowly approached Baek and Lux, taking a seat on the side of the boat nearest to them. “I’m The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls, and I suppose one could say I’m from Ikh Bayan.”

Scrutinizing both of their faces, he couldn’t help but wonder, did no one else know why they were here? Clearing his throat he continued thoughtfully, ”Well let’s see if we can’t work backward to find a way out of the dark. There are six individuals here, who I presume are Exalted like myself.” He pointed to each person on deck while counting with his fingers. “We were summoned by the Western Censor, Lord Fakharu, who is also a Dragon of Water. Finally, the letter mentioned the matter at hand is most dire.”

He looked down at the black cat that had curled up by Lux, its breathing had evened out, apparently already napping. “Somehow I don’t think the Tiger Lunar was summoned for their tactfulness.” Artisan looked Baek up and down, “You’re no stranger to war either. If I had to hazard a guess?” He paused for dramatic effect while taking a quick look at everyone, “We’re a strike team. Fakharu could raise Gods of his own court for most issues, so he intends to send us somewhere his jurisdiction doesn’t reach." He grinned, "At least that's would be my bet, if I were a betting man.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Astrid Character Portrait: The Wandering Artisan Clad in Souls Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Nimin Hedrox Character Portrait: Baek Kwan
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She stood by quiet as the others spoke, her eyes still partly drawn to the Lunar who’d taken to the form of a feline. The Deathknight’s introduction passed overtop her head—she was only aware enough to really catch his name and little else. She heard him questioning why they were all gathered together...and making assumptions in regards to the matter. Again, why she of all Exalted had received a summons was beyond her. Why Fakharu had summoned them all, it didn’t matter to her. She’d gotten a plea for help, that was all that she needed to know. Whether or not the others ended up agreeing to assist Fakharu in whatever matters he asked of them, that didn’t matter either. There’d been more than one instance where Lux had ended up having to absolve things on her own when others deemed them not worth their time. She’d do it again...even if she wasn’t the best suited to most tasks.

Folks had called her naïve before, she’d been called a lot of things before. She was, in a manner of speaking. If she was that, then that was fine.

Wanting to help others...and doing it, that was something that defined her life. She had no purpose, no goal, nothing to aim for. Lux took to traveling the world in order to find...something for herself, to gain perspective and to refine the views she held on many matters—including those she had on the Cult of the Illuminated. In her travels, she still had yet to find many answers. The only answer she’d reach thus far was that she felt compelled to help others, if only in the most minor of ways. From little things to the large, anything that makes things better….

That was enough.

“To be truthful with the lot of you, I don’t much care why we were all summoned in this manner.” Lux responded in a quiet voice. “Whether we’re needed for reasons of discretion or otherwise, it doesn’t matter to me. I only want to help however I can...if I can.”