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The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

"Your flesh is weak, but malleable... After the operation it shall be neither."

0 · 1,275 views · located in The West

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

Description

Name: The Artisan That Which Souls ClingType and Caste/Aspect: DeathKnight of the Daybreak Aspect
Nature: Sociopath
Anima Banner: The Sluagh


Image



Attributes




Physical

STRENGTH (1) DEXTERITY (4) STAMINA (2)

Social

CHARISMA (3) MANIPULATION (3) APPEARANCE (3)

Mental

PERCEPTION (3) INTELLIGENCE (4) WITS (4)



Abilities


WARFARE

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


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



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

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



YOUR LIFE



PERSONALITY

Despicable and lacking of morals would be a compliment to Artisan, as in truth he is actually much worse. Were it not for his nature as a Deathknight, 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 to suit him so that he may glean information from everyone. Little material things in this world mean anything to him, only ensuring everyone knows death as he does. Though loathe to admit it, he still thinks about his love, Lea, and is envious of anyone else who still has love in this world.

Motivation(s)
    Create Ghosts
    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. More dire still, the atavistic taint of Resonance opposes Virtues.

MERITS
Night Sight: Maybe you have some Fae blood, maybe you’re particularly blessed by the Unconquered Sun, but you can see well in the dark. You take no penalties for darkness unless there is absolutely no light at all–the Labyrinth, a locked room in a dungeon, and the like. Even then you are at only a maximum of +2 difficulty. Bright lights can shock you, but that is up the Storyteller.
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 or buy 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.
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
Jealousy: You deserve at least as good as anyone else! When your character's Jealousy rears its ugly head you suffer -3 dice to all social rolls for the remainder of the scene. (Jealous of Lovers)
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 himself 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 God-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 lived a very affluent life-style.

Servants waited on Dresden 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 Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Waters, offering to save him.

"I'll do anything!" The terrified man screamed, and in a moment the Bodhisattva burst from the ground in a pillar of black flame, crushing the first assassins 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. After judgement before the Neverborn and being deemed worthy, the Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Waters took him back to his citadel of Skullstone to perform the Black Pact. After which, he was let loose 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. Eager to ensure people knew the loss that he experienced, he began to actively building an army to set loose on Creation. Setting up a workshop in a nearby shadowland, utilizing mostly slaves and indentured servants, he began turning out ingenious and twisted Necrotech, before long Artisan found himself the owner of a profitable business; a business that's livelihood depended on things dying. There was nothing left in Creation for him, and as such he was doomed to walk the world eternally, destroying everything in Creation until Creation itself knew death's loving embrace.



MAGIC, GEAR AND TALENTS
Essence score: 3
Health: 5/5
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 Abyssal rolls Willpower, this does lethal damage. 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 deathknight’s 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 that 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. Shadowlands Circle Necromancy

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 most 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.

Summon Ghost: (4+M) This spell calls one of the Restless Dead and binds her to the service of the necromancer. This spell can only be cast at night or in the Underworld itself, and it involves an hour-long ritual requiring an unbroken circle of blood or bone-dust. The character must also know the name of the ghost he wishes to summon or have a piece of her corpse in his possession. The actual spell itself costs 4 motes to tear a portal to the Underworld and call forth the target. Once a ghost is summoned, the necromancer must overpower her soul with an opposed Willpower + Essence test. For every 2 additional motes the Exalt spends during casting, the ghost’s pool decreases by one die. This struggle continues with rolls made each turn, until one character accumulates three more successes than the other. If the ghost wins, she immediately escapes through the portal and cannot be recalled by the necromancer for a full year. If the Exalt wins, the ghost must obey him for one year or fulfill a single task that can have infinite duration. This binding only forces the ghost to obey the letter of the necromancer’s commands, rather than their intent, but most ghosts will fully comply rather than risk the wrath of an Exalted. Once the ghost fulfills its obligation, it vanishes back to its original location in the Underworld. Although ghosts make excellent servants, their usefulness in the living world is limited by their difficulty in regaining Essence. Necromancers employing such vassals must be sure to feed them motes of Essence, either their own or from libations of human blood. Though they resent servitude, few ghosts will plot revenge when their terms of service end, if only out of fear.

PREFERRED FIGHTING STYLE

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 use of 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 therafter) 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.
• 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) This feature does not affect the wearer.
The loathsome osseous shell needs maintenance every 100 hours of use. Every 30 hours missed after that randomly disables one of the functions marked with an asterisk, until the armor falls apart at last.

Clothes taken from a corpse

Three funeral veils

A dead man's saber

Armor exhumed from a crypt

A locket with Lea's portrait

Intricate pendant depicting spiders feasting on a man's flesh

Three Statuettes of skeletons

Hat stolen from a dying man

Eight Black Candles taken from a funeral

Seven flasks of embalming fluids

Six sprigs of nightshade

Four yards of Black Ivy

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 Manacles

Three pairs of Shackles

A steel flask

Surgical Knives

Hammer

Drill

Surgical Saw

Siphon

300 ft of Rope


Image

So begins...

The Artisan That Which Souls Cling's Story

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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While Lux had otherwise managed to regain her poise, after she’d snipped back at Artisan for his embittered comment, this was fleeting. Quickly enough, she noticed that the prior shenanigans had been silly enough to force three of Fakharu’s handmaidens into suppressing fits of laughter. Their hands were overtop their mouths, while their shoulders shook...she’s also fairly sure she heard one of them fail to subdue a quiet snort.... Lux sighed, and shifted between her feet uncomfortably, she’d done her best to make amends for her uncouth mannerisms, and that was all that could be done, now. She blamed no one for laughing at her expense, it was deserved.

“My, my, well, I am most certainly flattered by your compliments, Lady Lux, as Sir Ashen said, it is quite bold of you. And worry not, we take no offense.” Nāgasāni spoke, her voice possessing the slightest edge of amusement.

At Nāgasāni’s comment, Lux lightly cleared her throat, and felt her cheeks flush a touch once more. Mortified as she felt, having all this occur, at least the handmaidens were not irked with her inappropriate staring, or by her complimenting them. Their beauty had blindsided her—while she’d expected grand and splendid sights, the quintet of handmaidens had just struck her, in all honesty, the same thing oft occurred whenever she happened upon some wondrous work of art or architecture. And, while it was perfectly acceptable to look over inanimate objects, it was not to do the same with people. It was rude, uncouth, and inappropriate...Lux knew this, and while she had been attempting to cease gawking at people, it was an issue that always seemed to reemerge, regardless of her efforts.

Whilst Lux had been lost in her musings, Nāgasāni had started to guide the group along, beckoning them to follow her and the other handmaidens into the palace. Upon realizing that everyone else was on the move, Lux snapped from her thoughts and caught up with the lot of them, taking up the rear. For a majority of the trek, the air was quiet, save for the sounds of nature. As they approached the spire, Lux craned her neck in every which direction, trying to take everything in while she could. As she had stated upon the boat, Fakharu, or his designers, had a grandiose sense of aesthetics. Lux would not deny that everything was beautiful, in its own way, though. Sculptures, carvings, murals and reliefs—everything was dazzling in one manner or another.

Everything had a certain...atmosphere to it. Though the gold, the silver, and the gemstones were all unnecessary, there was still something about all of it that just...worked, overall. Lux was lost in everything, having gone from looking in every conceivable direction to actually turning on her heels as she walked, going in circles as she became even more enthralled by the sights around her. The flush that had come to her face earlier from Nāgasāni’s comment had all but faded, while her green eyes glimmered in fascination and excitement, a large smile having come across her face once more.

Along the way, Ashen stopped, and spoke about how apparently peculiar Fakharu’s aesthetics were, with one of the maidens factually responding to him. They continued walking, and Lux kept gazing at her surroundings, taking it all in while she had the chance. Certainly, she likely looked like a fool again, but at least this time she wasn’t doing anything rude. Eventually, they reach an extremely large set of double-doors, which were adorned with elaborate décor as everything else had. Thankfully, while Lux was still mystified and utterly enthralled by her surroundings, she was still aware enough to avoid another faux pas, such as walking into someone. She did still turn herself about, eyes wandering while it was Nāgasāni spoke, “Beyond this door is where the Lord holds his court. Since it is already in sessions, we ask that you wait here a moment whilst I announce your arrival.” Lux heard the sounds of a door opening before it shut again, rather quietly.

Then, they had a moment before they were to be introduced to Fakharu proper. “So,” she heard Ashen start, “Do any of you have much experience with courtly manners? I can fake it in a pinch, if needed.”

Lux didn’t bother to yet respond to this inquiry, still too engrossed by her surrounded, as she continued to wander about in a seemingly aimless manner. “While mmy country may have many reasons for starding wars, we also have cause for ending them. I have acted as ambassador in the past for my mother and father.” While Calliope was rather quick to respond, her words passed overtop Lux’s head as she finally allowed herself to look directly above, her mouth agape as she took in the intricate mural that was both painted and carved into the domed ceiling.

....it was magnificent, but the domed ceiling made it somewhat awkward to look at. Lux began to gingerly take a few steps backward, not minding her surroundings as she was thoroughly only interested in seeing every complexity of the mural—she gave absolutely no thought to anything otherwise, til it was that her foot suddenly met air where she thought there’d be floor, and she lost her balance with a yelp, snapping fully back into reality. Lux hadn’t noticed that around the edges of the halls, and the large, circular waiting area before the double-doors, the middle of the floor was higher, while it was indented near the walls, as water flowed through them, and around the bases of poles and the statues adorning the palace.

Though Lux gave it her best effort, she wasn’t able to keep herself upright this time around and ended up stumbling into a statue...which, thankfully did not topple over. But, when it was that Lux noticed the...theme of the statue, a couple engaged in, well.... The young woman’s face was set ablaze, yet again, and she jumped away from it as quickly as she could, only to not have proper footing to achieve such a feat, which only resulted in Lux falling backwards into the thin stream of water that ran between the elevated floors and wall, effectively soaking her backside.... This was just not her day, was it?

“....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.”

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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#, as written by Wake
The pirate nodded semi-approvingly at Calliope's assertions, figuring a princess probably would know how to herself themselves in the middle of a formal meeting with a high ranking spirit. It'd probably be a good idea to stick by her for the most part. Making a guess he assumed that Artisan probably new his etiquette as well based on his background on the blessed isle and the way he held himself so far. Astrid and Ioa however worried him slightly. He didn't know Astrid well enough yet to get a real read on her as she had mostly stayed in cat form since they last spoke and hadn't joined in any conversations. He doubted it'd be a good idea for her to stay that way once they met the Censor either. Ioa on the other hand was... well... he was a kid. A very active kid. And thus far he hadn't shown much understanding of social cues, which might be dangerous when walking into a court of spirits what with the know reputations of gods and their tempers.

Ashen Sky's ears flickered a bit as he heard a yelp behind him and turned just in time to see Lux backing into a wall with a sheet of water running down it's side. He hadn't even noticed the fountain until her hindquarters collided with it, drenching her. There was a moment of silence as she disengaged from the wall fountain. “....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.” The pirate put his hand to his face and sighed. This was off to a awkward start already.

And it was then at that moment that the doors chose to open wide and put the circle of exalted right smack dab in the center attention of about a hundred minor gods.




The throne room was ovaloid in shape, immersed in the same jeweled artwork that had been on display in the rest of the palace and currently thronged with a small horde of lesser gods and elementals who all silently waited their turn. Arrayed in a neat line they would each come forward one by one to kneel before a great throne of moonsilver sized to fit a dragon, whose ornamentation rippled and reshaped itself with every movement of the air. Sitting upon the throne that throne was Fakharu himself with a shining gold-green scales an wide patient eyes fixed upon eternity. It was his 'dawn attendance'. A daily ritual where in he held open court to hear the petitions, claims and concerns of those who sought his council or favorable judgement in their disputes.

Two earth elementals, with hair and eyes made of emerald and flesh of onyx, both petition for singular ownership of a perfectly shaped ruby they had found together. A bent and elderly woman who's body was made of rust colored water request permission to read the dragon's copy of the 'Histories of the Tenth Kingdom Under The Seventh Wave' so that she may learn the name of the third king who ruled there and fulfill the commands of a sorcerer who bound her to the task. The spirit of a river came forward to apologize for the conduct of a local village in failing to provide the proper sacrifices at the proper seasons, and promised to flood the village three times as punishment. These and many others all came forward to kneel at Fakharu's throne, but all did so in an orderly fashion and none who were not in front spoke in more than hushed whispers for all knew better than to show misconduct before the great western censor.

It was during this series of appeals that one of the side doors opened and in slipped a young woman adorned in orchalcum hurried at a dignified pace to the dragon's side. Fakharu was glad for Nāgasāni's arrival and the news she whispered in his ear, for he had started to tire of the petty arguments and entreaties that his petitioners brought. With a simple hushed order of "Bring them in" she shuffled back to the side door and flung it open to reveal the exalted standing the opposite side of it. The other handmaidens lightly nudged them to move forward as Nāgasāni loudly spoke to the assembled audience chamber in a carrying voice.

"My lord, and attending members of the court, we hereby proclaim the arrival of our esteemed guest. Sir Ioa, dagger of Heaven, Solar exalted of the Night caste. Sir Ashen Sky, Night Thief, Lunar Exalted of the Changing Moon Caste. Cheiftain Lady Astrid Grünewald, Night Fang, Lunar exalted of the Full Moon caste. Inheritrix lady Lux Fiala, Burning Sword, Terrestrial exalted of Fire. Princess lady Calliope Lordes, Ascending Sun, Solar exalted of the Dawn caste. And The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, Child of Bone, Abyssal Exalted of the Daybreak Caste." She bowed deeply as she listed their names and caste off one by one, gesturing to each as she did so. As was to be expected, the attention of the entire chamber now rested on the six exalts as they were herded into the room. If any of the assembled immortal spirits were displeased at this interruption (And there were. Several infact) none had a chance to voice it as Fakharu roused from his contemplation and rose to full towering height from his shimmering throne.

"Ah, I bid you welcome to my home young princes of the earth. I have eagerly been awaiting your arrival." He spared a polite but crisp glance back at the line of little gods that filled the room. "I will have to declare this dawn attendance over for today, as I must see to my guest. I thank you all for coming, and wish you safe travels in your departure." The serpentine dragon's tone did not hold room for argument. A fair number of the petitioners murmured amongst themselves in clear frustration and annoyance but not a single one dared to raise their complaints with the dragon. Quietly they excused themselves from the chamber but gave the gathered firm and scrutinizing glances as they filed out. Some were likely not to forget their appearance for a long while.

Rolling down from his chair in a great slithering motion, Fakharu stooped low to just above eye level with his guest. Even at this height, he still seemed to loom large over them. "Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments. There is a lovely balcony above where we may watch the waves as the sun rises." The dragon's voice was Jovial, but something about the look in his eyes implied that this was not a mere suggestion.

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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Ioa listened as the others spoke, observing with excitement and interest. The conversations, this place, he was practically bouncing off the walls with excitement and interest and desiring to see it all. As the son of a crafter, he had an eye for detail and could understand and appreciate these sorts of things. Indeed, he could understand that this was all very impressive.

And so as they were being guided, Ioa asked their guides all about everything they saw and were made of, often guessing correctly the materials used despite being new to this area. Ioa understood that this place truly had effort and greatness put into it...it was truly amazing and fantastic about just how much love and care was put into the place.

"Ashen, this is incredible! This, and this...its perfectly symetrical, even with the shading of colors! Not many craftsmen can do that! And this, I dont even need to touch it to clearly tell the texture is above first class, and this...this is high class material, perfectly used! Truly, this is all great masterworks!"

At this point, Ioa's eyes began to sparkle as he seemed absolutely filled with joy.

"This entire building...it in itself is a masterpiece of art!"

He responded like that, until they made it to the actual door, and had to wait. That said, his cheerful attitude did not waver in the slightest, and his general demeanor suggested he was quite carefree and not at all worried about the meeting with this great dragon.

And then finally, they entered. Ioa stayed silent for the few moments however, not from his sense of timing, but simple because he was admiring the various artwork that was this place. The entire building itself was art, a masterpiece of craftmanship that he truly knew how to admire and praise. This admiration lasted well and long until Fahkaru started to talk to him, and even a bit during that.

And once he made his invitation, it was Ioa that ended up speaking first. "Amazing...incredible! I really, really like this place, it seems really incredible and a masterpiece! I bet the balcony was perfectly built to be a masterpiece too right? This whole place is brilliant! I bet they even took into account to make the view itself a part of the masterpiece!"

Ioa honestly spoke his mind, without any ulterior motives or underlying desires. It was just pure, honest praise for everything he had seen, a rather refreshing concept if one thought about it.

"You must be really proud of this place! Its incredible! I would love to see more! Let's go!"

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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#, as written by Sepokku
Lux seemed less than pleased by Artisan's comment, becoming irate and beginning to rattle off explanations. Admittedly, he was glad to hear her deny being Ashen's Lover, but the Great Curse had already set in. Without saying much more, he set off after the giggling entourage and into Fakharu's palace. Court was still in session and thus the group was told to wait while Nagasani went on ahead to announce their arrival. Ioa began to comment on the palace's structure, visibly excited.

The interior was indeed as beautiful and opulent as the outside, very intricate and detailed work went into its construction, possibly by Lord Fakharu himself. A low impressed whistle made its way out of Artisan's cold lips, taking in the attention to detail that went into the palace. Ashen Sky began to ask about who knew how to conduct themselves in a spirit court, claiming to be able to fake it in a pinch. Artisan wasn't exactly foreign to court proceedings, but he imagined the Underworld did things a bit different than Creation.

While he pondered whether or not to speak up, the noble Heir of Lordes took charge, having had experience as ambassador already. If she wanted to be ambassador here, well he wasn't going to argue. The sound of Lux getting drenched wrested his attention away from that matter, she'd backed into one of the waterfalls that adorned the palace walls, and her face had turned a very interesting shade of scarlet.

“....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.”

"Oh dear," Artisan started while fighting to suppress a smile. "Perhaps Nagasani can provide you with a change of clothes in a bit. I'm certain they have very fine attire here."

The doors flung open and the party was ceremoniously introduced to dozens of Spirits and Elementals attending the Lord's court. Not all of the gathered attendees looked pleased to be interrupted by a handful of Exalted, prompting Artisan to tip his hat slightly forward in an attempt to obscure his face. Standing near the back of the group, he did his best to look unassuming.

Fakharu seemed to be a bit rushed, though, perhaps the rumors about him had been true. The Lord ended court immediately, which seemed to draw even more attention and/or ire from the assembled Spirits. Once his attendees had left, he prompted that they should all follow him to his private chamber. There was definitely some validity to the rumors.

A veritable river of words began to flow from Ioa's mouth, complimenting the Lord on his decorations and architecture, eager to see more. "Yes, as Ioa said, lead the way." The Deathknight cleared his throat before continuing, following the Dragon all the while. "Might I also add, thank you for having us Lord Fakharu, I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we're pleased to be of service to your grace."


The Nightfang remained draped across the shoulder's of her perch, and for whatever reason, seemed perfectly content to let the others do the talking for her. Calliope marched after Nagasani with all the countenance of a Highborn, and the grace of a huntress. It made for quite the comfortable ride.

Inside the palace was as gaudily overindulgent as the rest of the place, had it been up to Astrid the money would've been spent more practically. Like hiring or outfitting an army. The lead courtesan, at least that's the opinion Astrid held of her, took her leave to inform Fakharu of their arrival. Ashen inquired about anyone understanding court proceedings, which of course she did. As she was the Leader of her people, she'd often overseen weregilds, stopped taxation, and born witness to trial by combat. However, she couldn't be bothered to mediate, or even take an interest in Western affairs outside of using her strengths to put the Dragon in her debt, so she remained silent.

Ioa's boundless energy began to remind her of her children back home, a thought she played with like a ball of yarn for a bit. When Calliope expressed interest in speaking on their behalf, Astrid decided to walk using her own four feet. She slid to the ground and landed with grace, then began to lazily stretch. A bored yawn came from the small feline mouth and her eye caught Lux backing into a stream of water flowing from the wall. Rather than say anything, she simply decided to enjoy the show, Lux was indeed a fun one.

They weren't left alone long before the doors they had been waiting by opened to a room full of Spirits, and the big man Fakharu himself. It was, in a word, impressive. If this many Spirits were willing to give him authentic kowtow, then surely he'd be someone who could help her tribe. Though it might've been rude to not assume one of her True Forms, she hadn't been asked otherwise and didn't want to make a scene, so she stayed a tiny black cat.

Fakharu dismissed the court rather abruptly, a display of strength perhaps. "Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments."

Hoping these refreshments were of the alcoholic persuasion, Astrid considered the possibility this trip wouldn't be so bad after all. Ioa and Artisan shot off after the Dragon. The former still heavily reminding her of her kiddos whenever she came back from a Ritual Hunt and the latter still kissing ass.

"...I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we're pleased to be of service to your grace."

Awfully bold of that rat to assume she could be pleased. Regardless, it wouldn't do to make a scene before Fakharu was in her debt, so she flicked a dismissive ear at the Abyssal and cantered along after them.

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 sat perhaps a little too long with her hindquarters still submerged in the fountain...an absolutely exasperated air about her. Her face rather matched her elemental aspect at this point, certainly a rather impression shade of crimson. Saying nothing more than she had beforehand, Lux pulled herself free of the cold fountain, feeling the bits of it that’d soaked into her clothing seep further downward as she got to her feet whilst her cloak dribbled and dripped all over the stone and marble flooring—she mentally grumbled to herself as she shook her arms and hands, flecks and drops of water coming from the tips of her fingers. What a sight she must’ve been.... About to meet a Lesser Dragon, and she’d gone and dunked her butt in one of his fountains because she couldn’t stop herself from gawking at pretty things, again! Why could she never seem to get a handle on that...?

While Lux shifted on her feet and made a rather futile effort to at least wring out the water from the lower-half of her cloak, trying to stop it from dripping at the bare minimum, “Oh dear,” Oh, he was just going to have to comment on this, wasn’t he? “Perhaps Nāgasāni can provide you with a change of clothes in a bit. I’m certain they have very fine attire here.” Lux could well hear Artisan attempting to suppress amusement at her predicament. First he’d made the rather unnecessary comment about her and Ashen being ‘lovebirds’ earlier after she’d nearly knocked him over, and now he just had to go and.... Lux huffed to herself, mentally kvetching. At least this time, the comment was somewhat justified, and there was really nothing that warranted her getting peeved.

And, as naturally as things had been going so far, it was right as Lux was in a most undignified stance, trying to squeeze the back of her skirt free of water that the enormous, well-ornamented double-doors that held Fakharu and his in-session court flew wide open...putting herself and the entirety of their small group of oddballs on display to the whole of the spirit court. Lux froze in place, feeling the eyes of many spirits and, what she assumed to be, deities of various sorts. She had only enough time to form one coherent thought before she and the rest of the group was shepherded into the center of Fakharu’s audience chambers by the handmaiden quintet, ....well, this is the single, most humiliating moment of my life thus far.

Deciding to forget her half-sopping wet state for the moment, Lux took in the deepest breath she could, and held it as she shuffled forward to be presented before Fakharu and the myriad of gods and spirits. She stood ramrod straight, her arms stiff and held to her sides as her felt her heart skip a beat. Admittedly, Lux had run-ins before with various otherworldly phenomena and beings, but this...was something on an entirely different level. While under normal circumstances, Lux would lose herself in admiring all around her, taking it all in as she had before but she restrained her senses, both awed and nervous when she finally set her eyes upon Fakharu who was every bit draconic as his epithet of ‘Lesser Dragon’ would indicate. She was honestly at a loss.

....until Nāgasāni begun to formally introduce the lot of them to Fakharu, rattling off their titles, names...and Exalted castes. “Inheritrix, Lady Lux Fiala, Burning Sword, Terrestrial Exalted of Fire.” While Lux did indeed notice the peculiar title tacked onto the beginning of her introduction—something she would definitely ponder over later—her thoughts were more concerned with the fact that her status as a Terrestrial amongst Celestials was revealed before she otherwise had a chance to build a rapport with anyone and hope that would help stave off the bad blood between them. Nāgasāni had no way of knowing her intentions on keeping her status under wraps, so, Lux wasn’t angry just all the more anxious. Ashen had his suspicions, but seemed to treat her fine enough regardless, as for the others. After the meeting with Fakharu was said, done and they were on their way, the topic would properly be broached, she was sure. At least, she was likely safe for the moment since she was sure everyone in the group had the poise to not squabble before Fakharu and his court.

So lost in her own thoughts, again, Lux missed the end of Nāgasāni’s introductions, and the beginnings of Fakharu’s greeting and dismissal of his court, til it was the Lesser Dragon gracefully removed himself from his throne, gliding forward until he was nearly eye-level with the lot of them and she was able to actually feel the power behind his voice as he addressed them so close. “Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments. There is a lovely balcony above where we may watch the waves as the sin rises.”

Only when Lux realized that she essentially had a deity looming overtop her, speaking, did she find herself snapping back to reality, at last releasing that breath she’d been holding since Fakharu’s handmaidens had ushered them into the audience chambers. Realizing how long she’d apparently deprived herself of air, Lux desperately and rather sharply gasped, as she coughed a few times—the whole endeavor rather resembling a dying fish struggling for breath while it was that Ioa took it upon himself to sing Fakharu’s aesthetic praises, speaking before anyone in the rest of the group had even the slightest chance to respond.

Lux was actually rather grateful that she was likely not the center of attention at the moment, she’d had enough of that for the day. With a damp, gloved hand pressed against her chest, she took in a few unsteady, pitifully wheezy breaths as she staved off the wooziness that came with holding her breath far longer than she was used to. So, not only had she managed to make a most fantastic impression upon everyone early, stumbling about like a mindless drunkard and soaking her backside in a fountain, but now also her status as a Dragon-Blooded was in the open and she’d almost caused herself to faint a the foot of a God because she’d forgotten to do something as basic as breathe! Fantastic morning thus far!

After Ioa finished his praise-filled rambles, eager to see more of Fakharu’s palace, Artisan took the opportunity to speak as well, “ Yes, as Ioa said, lead the way. “ making motions to tread after the dragon before speaking once more, “Might I also add; thank you for having us, Lord Fakharu, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we’re pleased to be of service to your grace.”

Following along after Ioa and Artisan both, Astrid trotted on by, still within the form of a black housecat, absolutely no way to discern her thoughts at the moment...while it would indeed be sensical for Lux to follow suit, she currently found herself with the desire to bring up the rear of their little group. Lux was more than aware that she looked an absolute mess, and that her mental state left a lot to be desired. She was sure that if she drew any of Fakharu’s attention to herself now, she’d definitely end up making even more a fool of herself than she definitely had already. While she did not make it obvious that she was lingering behind, beginning to walk along as well, Lux still took slower steps, hunching inward on herself, feeling gooseflesh overcome her arms and legs as the damp state of her hair and heavy traveling clothes made her shiver.

Sighing, Lux reach into one of her pockets, clandestinely sneaking out the piece of chocolate she’d been gnawing on while on the boat before. She knew that Fakharu had told them they were going to have brunch, but she needed something to allay her anxieties, and chocolate usually helped in that regard. There was simply so much going on....

So, while she meandered just a bit, Lux took small nibbles off the sweet substance, hoping no one would notice her impolite action as she followed after a God.

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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#, as written by Castle
Calliope’s steady gaze remained fixed on the door. She was deadly still awaiting their introduction.

While the door was deliciously intricate, Calliope only observed a small nick in the design, an imperfection that was perfectly within her line of sight. The rest of the door was carved in some unearthly material- like precious stone, or was it wood? The designs were exacting, inhumanly precise, and thick, depicting portraits or stories. Calliope could have feasted her eyes on any of these details, but she stared deeply into the imperfection. It looked like the mark left by a weapon of some kind, like someone had attacked the door. But there was only one marking.

Astrid fit into Calliope’s robes like she was an addition to the costume. Albeit, it was a more tribal look, Calliope still enjoyed the presence and the warmth of the small animal. It was a strange and comforting feeling. She thought to herself could get used to it.

The doors heaved open to reveal an audience of immortals. The rising energy from within the chamber seemed to break into unsettling silence. The deities stared back at the humans with a multitude of expressions. Some were displeased, others marveled at the sight of Calliope and her new compatriots. The Gladomeen swore she spotted a familiar deity, but in moments it was gone, vanishing from her view.

One of the five handmaidens declared the Exalted’s arrival. Calliope corrected her posture, standing proudly when she heard her name announced.

“...Princess lady Calliope Lordes, Ascending Sun, Solar exalted of the Dawn caste. And The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, Child of Bone, Abyssal Exalted...”

The announcement seemed endless. Immortals who were displeased by the interruption seemed more displeased. Immortals who marveled at them scrutinized further. While Calliope typically handled situations like these gracefully, she couldn’t help but feel hot under the eye of their godly audience. But Fakharu, unlike all the rest, seemed calm. His manner and composure put his rank above all other creatures in the room. Calliope watched his actions carefully, noting his natural authority. Perhaps there was something she could further glean from this situation after all!

After humbly greeting the Exalted individuals, Lord Fakharu dismissed the audience. “I will have to declare this dawn attendance over for today, as I must see to my guest. I thank you all for coming, and wish you safe travels in your departure. Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments.”

It was obvious that this wasn’t a matter for discussion and Calliope contentedly went along with the dragon. While Artisan made another distasteful and weak-minded comment, Calliope barely caught the scent of something sweet. She covertly attempted to find the source.

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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#, as written by Wake
A great chortling laughter filled the chamber. The massive dragon was deeply amused by Ioa's praise, and he expressed this by placing one of his massive paws upon the boy's head and gently tussling his hair. "You flatter me young sir! It has been a long time since one has granted my work such honest and enthusiastic endorsement. Or at least none that wasn't feigned to gain my favor."

With fluid grace he turned and started towards throne rooms rear exit. "And it is I that must thank you all for coming Sir Artisan, I know my invitation was rather spontaneous and I hope you will forgive me for being imposing in my summons on such short notice." As they reached the entrance of a spiral stair case, a change happened in Fakharu's form. Mid movement his body spontaneously started to glow and shrink as his body morphed into something more humanoid in shape. He continued to speak even as his shape settled on that of a hansom well dressed human man. The only hint that gave away that his true draconian nature was clawed hands and tail that remained on his person. He stopped briefly to whisper something in Nagasani's ear. "Would be a dear and let the cooks know that we will be arriving at the balcony shortly. Oh and get a change of clothing for miss Lux as well. I'd rather she not suffer through the morning meal with damp clothes on... Or worse, let her get the furniture wet."

A slight him of mischief was in the eyes of the quintet as they received this order. "Of course my Lord." Was her obediently given reply. Though they held their composure until they left the Censor's sight, they started to whisper a amongst themselves. Well trained servants though they were, they were still young women of their mid adolescence and they recognized a chance to have a little 'fun' at someone else's expense when it presented itself.

Continuing to lead the group in the ascent, pass tapestries of silk and stained glass windows that over looked the rolling vistas of the gardens and island beyond them outside. "As young Ioa has guessed I am somewhat proud of this palace. It has taken me seven centuries to reconstruct it back to it's former splendor. My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade*. all those hundreds of years ago. A rather trying time that still leaves it's mark on the west today. Thrice cursed fair folk still infest some area's of the west." He he gave a practiced sigh at that. "But I do not wish to bore you with past dramas."

He stopped before another well crafted door and opened it wide. "Here we are. Please, enter and sit yourself where you wish." The room he invited the exalts into was large and spacious. The pale gold walls held ornate chiseled with images depreciating noble deeds and adventures of past exalts. It's western wall was open, giving a full view of the ocean outside while a gentle cool morning breeze carrying the scent of the sea wafted in. In it's center was a tall statue carved from a single emerald gemstone of a beautiful young woman in her mid twenties. Around the feet of the statue was an oaken table that even now a group of servants was ladening with succulent grilled fish, warm pastries, fresh fruits and fine drink. Fakharu himself, after the others had strode inside, took to reclining on one of the mounds of cushions that served as chairs from the low table.

Ashen paused as he entered the room. He sniffed the air a bit and hummed to himself, an action that hid his activation of [EMOTION REVEALING SCENT]. "Well, this here is certainly a feast." His eye's paused on a particularly large claw half again the size of his head. "Gotta say it's been a while since I've had the pleasure of feasting on traditional cooking from... from..." Ashen started to trail off as the actual smells hit him. He had activated the charm earlier to give him a bit of an edge in the inevitable discussion they was going to have with the dragon, hoping to read him better and get an edge on him in whatever negotiations that might follow. But in doing so he also opened up his enhanced nostrils to pick out the scent of the food *much* more clearly, and each smell he recognized clearly. Steamed Snipper, grilled clam flesh, cooked eel, Razor fish, Clawshell legs, squid and octopus and... was that **Siaka meat!? He'd only ever eaten Siaka once in his life. When his father had saved up for it as a congratulation gift for becoming an officer on a privateers ship. "... from home." He finished in a quiet mutter. A small wave of nostalgia hit him, and a small speck of moisture started to gather at the edges of his eyes.

In the background Nagasani and the rest of the quintet entered with entirely too innocent smiles. With them they carried a bamboo and silk folding curtain and a rolling wardrobe with accompanying make up kit. They each eye'd Lux with cheerful and expecting smiles.

*[STORY TELLERS NOTE: Anyone who has a lore of three or higher knows that the Balorian Crusade is the name of the fair folk invasion that happened immediately after the great contagion stuck creation. These two events are what are considered to be the official end of the first age.]
**[Siaka, also known as the greater sharks, are a heavy contender for the title of apex sea predator. At 40 feet in length they are basically megladons and hunting these things are incredibly dangerous, but also profitable if you can bag one as their meat, teeth and bones fetch a fair price. They are also considered to be the children of Siakal, the western god of war and carnage and are sacred to her religion.]

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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Lux continued to trail along a little ways behind the others, as Fakharu laughed, pleased with Ioa’s genuine praise as he patted the boy’s head with a very large draconic hand. That he’d be so thrilled to receive admiration...it seemed rather sad to Lux, since it sounded like people only ever flattered his work to earn support. Though power and prestigious came with advantages, it also came with as many negatives.... Along with the rest of the group, Lux stopped in place when Fakharu did, as they neared a spiral-staircase that led upward. As soon as the movement ceased, and Fakharu, Lux quickly shoved the piece of chocolate she’d been savoring back into one of her pockets—watching, awed as Fakharu’s whole form wavered for a moment, taking on a sharp and bright radiance that shrank in scale.

Throughout her travels, Lux had bore witness to many wonders and many feats. Yet, even if they repeated themselves before her, she would always stand in astonishment of them. Without even skipping a beat, Fakharu had shifted his form from that of a large, imposing dragon god to that of a, admittedly handsome, humanoid who still bore a draconic tail and clawed-hands. For something like that to apparently be such a...casual thing for Fakharu, that itself was amazing.

Though, when the Lesser God gave her a passing glance, Lux stiffened up again...as he bade Nāgasāni over to him and proceeded to whisper to the handmaiden, Lux could only assume it some kind of instruction that had to do with her, given that he’d only bothered Nāgasāni after giving her a quick look. She doubted that whatever Fakharu had ordered would do her harm, but Lux couldn’t help that her heart skipped a beat upon that realization; he’d taken notice of her sodden and soggy state.

“Of course, my Lord.” Nāgasāni responded immediately to Fakharu, while her eyes and the eyes of the other handmaidens were upon her—Lux noted that there was some definite...mischief and delight on their faces. All at once, the quintet hurried out of sight, murmuring amongst themselves as they would occasionally glace back at Lux, who felt her stomach twist. Reiterating her self-assurances from before, she was certain that no one would do her harm, but a sense of nervousness nagged at her regardless, knowing that something was in store for her. Puffing her cheeks out just a bit, Lux said nothing of her thoughts, though and obediently continued to follow after Fakharu and the group as they ascended the spiral-staircase, passing yet more works of splendor, which Lux did allow herself to appreciate, but did not let her fascination consume her as it had before, lest she take a tumble backward down the stairs, given what’d just happened before, such a thing was liable to occur it seemed....

As Fakharu began to speak again, Lux turned her attention back to him, “As young Ioa has guessed, I am somewhat proud of this palace. It has taken me seven centuries to reconstruct it back its former splendor. My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade all those hundreds of years ago. A rather trying time that still leaves its mark on the West today. Thrice-cursed Fair Folk still infest some areas of the West.” a sigh came from him as he paused in his reflections, though it seemed practiced insofar as Lux could tell. He’d perhaps reiterated this tale to others many times over? “But I do not wish to bore you with past dramas.” ....Lux did not consider that sort of tale boring.

As soon as Fakharu ceased discussion of the matter, they were before another elegantly made door that Fakharu proceeded to open to them. “Here we are. Please, enter and sit yourself where you wish.”

The room was...about as gorgeous and ostentatious as one would expect, given the rest of the palace. While Lux still stuck to her initial opinion on Fakharu’s aesthetics being rather grandiose, she still did indeed admire them for their uniqueness. Nervous as she still was, not knowing exactly what had been requested of Nāgasāni and the handmaidens, Lux did still quietly observe the room and its many adornments—her eye specifically drawn to the large, singular emerald statue at its center.... A woman, lovely as the emerald could covey her beauty to be. While everything in Fakharu’s palace thus far had been of the utmost craftsmanship and quality, the jeweled sculpture...there was...something to it. Something more than just the same careful care that everything else carried. The statue’s model, the actual woman, whoever she was...Lux felt her heart slip up to her throat, but swallowed the feeling back down.

Whoever the woman was, she mattered, gravely, to Fakharu. ....did the summons have something to do with...?

“Well, this here is certainly a feast.” Ashen’s sudden comment about the spread of food snapped Lux out of her rumination in regard to the statue, causing her to flinch a bit as a slight noise came from her throat. She turned on her heel, looking at the Lunar as he seemed to appreciate what was going to be offered to them—Lux herself hadn’t even really taken heed of the food, too entranced by the emerald statue behind her. However, now rend from her musings, she did take a moment to look over the food. Admittedly, it looked appetizing, yet the nearly obscene amount of it gave Lux a moment to pause. She knew little about the standards a Lesser God held themselves to when it came to treating guests, but, something about the quality and quantity of food made her quirk her eyebrow up, just a bit. Fakharu had summoned them from across Creation to ask something of them, no doubt. Everyone had, had their own ideations on the matter, ranging from grand to not-so-grand. Lux was now rather certain that whatever Fakharu wanted from them, it was grand.

But, when Ashen began to speak again, Lux’s gaze was drawn over to him, “Gotta say it’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of feasting on traditional cooking from...from….” he trailed off and Lux, it was ever-so-slight but, his voice quieted as he seemed to lose himself in thought. She crossed her arms, and raised a finger to her chin as she considered this—on the boat, Ashen had told everyone he hailed from Wave Crest, and that this was a ‘bit o’ a return trip’ for him, as he’d put it with his accent. If From the way he was acting and from what he’d said earlier in the day, Lux supposed that Ashen had been away from the West for quite some time...perhaps it was just hitting him? Maybe he was feeling the pangs associated with homesickness.

“....from home.” he finished speaking in a low murmur, his former enthusiasm all but gone. Lux felt this was enough to confirm her deduction that Ashen had suddenly been struck by a bout of melancholy. Hearing the sudden distance in his voice made Lux frown, she detested when people lost their spark. She weighed her options; at least socially aware enough to know that people oft didn’t like having attention drawn to themselves in situations like these. Certainly, what she was considering would make her look and sound like a nimrod, but given how the day had gone on so far, and the fact that she was standing in the presences of a Lesser God with a soggy behind, how much worse could she possibly make herself appear to everyone? If it made Ashen perk up....

Puffing her cheeks out, she took a few steps in Ashen’s direction, til she was standing to his side, and made it seem like she was eyeing up the food like he had been before. It was all seafood...she adopted a tiny smile, her expression bright as she crossed her arms over her diaphragm, and hummed a touch to call attention to herself, “I’ll certainly say that I’m rather unfamiliar with a majority of this food. I’ve had seafood on a few occasions, but nothing so lavish?” Lux started, bracing herself for how she knew this was going to go over, “I really only recognize the Clawfish legs—they always did make me feel a bit...crabby, though. People stopped letting me eat them because I’d always start getting a snippy attitude!”

....she let silence reign for a moment before she cleared her throat, and saying to him softly, “I’m sorry, but it looked as if you could use a distraction.”

Lux failed to notice as she spoke to him though, that she was being gleefully eyed by Fakharu’s quintet of handmaidens as they entered into the room, carrying with them a plethora of items. It was only when one of them spoke up, Vengalu, that Lux finally realized that Fakharu’s earlier unheard request to Nāgasāni was about to be carried out.

“Lady Lux? Might we five...borrow you, for but a moment?” her voice was gentle, but, Lux heard the elation in it, and noticed the tiny smiles adorning the faces of the handmaidens, the items they carried—a folding curtain, a wardrobe and…was that a make-up kit? Oh, Gods. What was about to happen to her?

She felt her stomach sink low.

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 5/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT


Ashen Sky winced slightly as the princess fist hit the table, bringing his attention back to her. While Lux had been off getting her make over at the hands of five enthusiastic handmaidens, Calliope had taken to stuffing her face with the sort of wild abandon you'd expect to see on a half starved Siaka. It was oddly fascinating to watch in a a morbid sense, how this woman could go from refined and composed royalty to savage eater in such a turn, and for some reason Ashen just hadn't been able to take his eyes off her as she tore into the food in front of her. Perhaps it was due to his own up bringing in the west where meat was a rare treat and the cooking of fish flesh was slow communal thing, but the privateer always felt that food was better if enjoyed rather than gorged.

.... though he'd admit his master had disagreed with him on that point, regularly stuffing his face at first chance and he'd been a northerner as well. Who knows maybe they were all just crazy.

He sighed. He didn't even need his charm active to know that Fakharu was resisting the urge to frown and he had been wincing with each noise she made through the meal. "Speakin' o' appearances. Ye should probably be takin' better care o' yours yer highness." Again Ashen Sky slipped back into his accent, but he didn't bother to correct himself for the moment. He plucked a folded cloth off the table and wrapped it around his hand. " 'ere, let me fix tha for ya." Then in a move that was rather out of character for him, the Lunar got up, placed a knee on the rim table and used it as leverage as he leaned across to press napkin to the Solar's face. He then proceed to start wiping away the left over gristle and juices from her lips and chin. "Now I'll be admitting' tha ah lot o' western food is saw-pposed ta be eatin' by hand, I hope ye be forgivin' me for sayin' tha yer doin' it wrong." It was just as he was finishing the clean up that Ashen Sky seemed to pause and suddenly realize:
  1. What he was doing
  2. Who he was doing it to
  3. And that he had garnered a few stares for doing it
The Epiphany that he had made his own faux pas (a series of them in one action really) came and went and with a short cough he sat back down, tossed the napkin aside and acted entirely like he hadn't just gone on autopilot and made a somewhat intimate gesture towards someone he'd only known for maybe 3 hours. Seriously, why? WHY did he do that?

Deciding to switch tracks entirely and maybe salvage something of this situation for himself. Clearing his throat he started to gather up a few bits of fish, marinated kelp and a bowl of sauce, and got ready to suppress his accent again. "When it comes to western style fish dishes, it's best to layer tha flavors a bit so ya get a nice spectrum in tha meal. For example..." He set down his gathered ingredients on his plate. "Start with some seasoned' kelp, slap down ah slab o' Siaka meat, lathar it wit some some Salmoriglio Sauce, layer some grilled veggies ovar top, than wrap it wit the kelp like so..." He continued with his little demonstration, pointedly not looking at anyone and hoping to Luna and heaven that this would be enough of a distraction that everybody would forget about whatever the hell that was.

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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Contending with the corset that was so tightly laced up around her middle was interesting...Lux felt like she had to learn how to breathe all over again with it on. Breaths had to be kept on the lighter side; her middle was too squished to allow anything more. Creation, how she hoped that she stayed conscious and didn’t faint in the middle of the meal. Otherwise, Lux remained still where she’d seated herself, hand set on her lap while a majority of her attention was centered on the intricate emerald statue that had captured her wholly, before Ashen had volunteered her to the handmaidens.... Looking at it again, she felt the same about as she had prior.

Her verdantly colored eyes trailed across the polished surface of the statue’s figure. As she’d observed before, the sculpture had a different atmosphere to it than anything else Lux had seen thus far in Fakharu’s palace. She wasn’t the most aware of people, nor did she carry much knowledge in matters related to crafts.... Was she overthinking it? That was a definite possibility; still, she couldn’t quite shake the thought from her pretty little head. With that notion floating about in her mind, Lux silently gazed over at Fakharu, saying nothing of her thoughts. Perhaps she was right and that the woman who’d modeled for sculpture was someone of great significance to Fakharu, but who was to say that woman was even still alive? It was possible that she’d been somehow involved with the Lesser Dragon ages ago and passed already. Lux didn’t know how long Fakharu had been alive, only that he’d been around for...a really long time.

....if the matter came up, she would inquire, otherwise she’d keep her musings to herself for the time being.

Humming to herself, she shook herself from her thoughts, her gaze ending up on Calliope who was seated diagonally from her, across from Ashen. Lux herself was seated across from Astrid who was still in her feline form after all this while—not that Lux minded, she liked cats, and animals in general...except for horses, those would forevermore give her reason to pause, one of those beasts was to blame for her hair being so short.

It seemed that while Lux had been left to the mercy of Nāgasāni and the rest of the girls, Calliope had gone ahead and gorged herself heartily and done so with much gusto. She had bits of food and grease spattered across her rosy face, and seemed utterly unaffected by it. Some would find the display nauseating, but the sight actually made Lux giggle a bit, making a small smile cross over her own made-up face, she found it endearing to see someone who so thoroughly enjoyed food. Til the princess went ahead and made her own comment regarding her makeover, that is.

“I amm in accordance with Ashen. I find your current appearance far mmore appealinng!” laughing wholeheartedly as she slammed her fist down onto the table hard enough to make the silverware rattle.

Lux stiffened up and slid downward in her seat just a smidge, as much as she wanted to hide her face in her hands she knew she couldn’t, else she’d ruin her carefully applied cosmetics. “....uh, thank you much, Lady Calliope.” she mumbled, reluctantly. Better just to take it with as much grace she could muster. She’d made enough of a fool of herself for one day, after all.

Allowing a sigh to slip from between her rose-colored lips, she did her best to shake off her embarrassment, looking back up at the Northern Princess, right as soon as Ashen...was chastising her table manners and blotting the food of her face with a napkin. Lux had really no idea what to make of the display; it was so...she didn’t even have a word for it. As soon as Ashen otherwise concluded his sudden lesson on etiquette, he seemed to realize himself how much of a gaffe he’d committed.

He tried to play off what he’d just done, diving into an impromptu lesson on how one was supposed to consume the Western foods that were lain out before them. The Lunar rambled on, rather monotone and speaking so quickly it was actually a little hard for Lux to even discern some of what he was saying—and she was sitting right next to him. Now, normally, Lux would keep down her urge to laugh and giggle at the display, but.... Ashen had given her over to the handmaidens earlier in retaliation for her making a couple of horrid jokes. The Dragon-Blooded wouldn’t deny herself this bout of laughter.

One of her hands went gently over her mouth, as her shoulders began to shake a bit as she tried to keep it quiet. Alas, she could not do so though, and Lux began to giggle, eventually erupting into full-on laughter that she couldn’t contain. Certainly, it was rude to laugh so loudly in the presence of a Lesser Dragon, and she would properly apologize in the aftermath if the need be.

“I-I, pfft....” she snorted, unable to continue speaking as bowed her head over, her hand fully overtop her mouth as her other was set across her stomach as she shook from laughter, occasional snorts working their way out of her. After maybe half a minute, Lux was finally able to calm herself, and reduced her little laughing bout to a fit of giggles instead—still she couldn’t wipe the amused grin from her face. Clearing her throat, Lux raised her head back up, her shoulders still occasionally twitching as she held back her laughter.

“I was not aware that etiquette lessons were included with today’s summons, Ashen.” she looked at the Lunar, resting a hand upon her cheek, “ Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so.... the grin on her face grew a touch.

Though she did tease, there was a warmth in Lux’s words, “How endearing.”

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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#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 5/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT


As Lux's laughter erupted besides him the Changing Moon stopped his explanation and adopted a neutral expression. Quietly he picked up a goblet of wine and sipped it while he waited for the Fire Aspect to finish her tittering. “I was not aware that etiquette lessons were included with today’s summons, Ashen. Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so....” Ashen could smell shit eating grin on her face and he knew, both by magical scent and tone of her voice that she was taking a little (admittedly deserved) pay back for earlier. “How endearing.”

Ashen Sky put down the goblet, calmly wiped his mouth with the napkin he had used earlier, and adopted a dead pan tone. "Both me mothers taught me to be mannerly around women when ye introduce yer self. But if ye would like then tonight our next lesson will be on balance and tha matter o' walking straight without falling over and gropin' your crew mates or landin' rear end in a fountain." He was calm, he was composed, and he was not going to let himself be dragged into an embarrassing display in front of a functionary of the celestial order just because he had a slight leave of senses. And if that took getting into a verbal sparring match with Lux, so be it. He could use the distraction.

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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#, as written by Castle
Before she knew what had happened, Ashen was partially on the table wiping Calliope’s face. This action stopped her in her tracks and for a moment she watched him. Totally transfixed by the odd circumstance they were both in at this very moment. For some reason, it felt totally natural.

Spoiler: show
With [EMOTION REVEALING SCENT], Ashen would discover that Calliope was both uncomfortable with Ashen’s gesture, and stirred by it.


“‘Ere,” he said, “let me fix that for ya. Now, I'll be admittin' tha a lot of western food is supposed t’ be eatin' by hand, I hope ye be forgivin' me for sayin' tha yer doin' it wrong.”

Then, suddenly, Ashen was upset! Calliope’s look of wonder transformed into bewilderment. He returned to his seat abruptly and began blathering about dining etiquette. Lux began laughing, and Calliope quickly recovered with another (forced) hearty laugh, joining in on her amusement.

Lux thanked Ashen for his true kindness, volunteering her for a ‘makeover,’ as she called it, and complimented his etiquette... at least, this is what Calliope thought she said. Ashen replied by graciously offering to assist her with her treacherous balance.

Given that Gladomain was founded on the overarching concept of oneness among citizens, Ashen’s gesture was considered polite. Gladomeens would typically dote on one another in a variety of ways. They would serve each other, feed each other, wash each other, and aid each other out of pure instinct, almost like a large hive mind.

“Mmanny gratidudes for your kinnd gesture, dear Ashen.” Calliope chimed in. “Wit such gracious mmanners, in Gladomm, you would be invited to dine wit the Queen herself!”

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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As Ioa watched with amasement as they continued, Fahkaru said some things that really caught his ear while the others introduced themselves. "Ehh. Why would anyone need to feint it? This place is truly amazing!"

Ioa really was not that well versed with social mannerisms at all, but he understood that Fahkaru and him seemed to be getting along, so he decided to keep going as is...no matter how concerning it might get for hte others. Ioa was Ioa though, and it seemed he was going to be his usual self. At least Fahkaru seemed to like that though.

"Oh wow! Really?! You must be super, super ultimately super amazing!" Ioa said again as he praised with wonderful craftmanship with honest eyes and a honest heart. He seemed incredibly interested in just how incredible it was all made, but also...he praised the scenic views that they passed as well, understanding the beauty of nature and how Fahkaru had seemed to incorporate it as well.

And then, as they entered the room where they would be staying in, Ioa saw Ashen volenteer Lux for something, and watched and listened as Lux seemed to be going under some sort of transformation. Ioa, who could only see glimpses of things at the edges of the curtains and what they brought in and out, appeared to have question marks appear over his head. He seemed...confused about something.

"Hey hey, Ashen...is Lux....is Lux transforming into something? I thought they were just changing clothes....hmm, I wonder what Fahkaru's male clothes would look like? Wait, could this be...could all of that just be the amazingness of his abilities?"

As Ioa had never worn anything fancy before, and as he admired Fahkaru as a crafter as well as a really great person, he wondered what sort of clothes those would look like. Eventually though, he got some idea...as Lux was pushed right out in full fancy dress, of which Ioa had never seen before. Almost immediately, he took out his sketchbook and began making a sketch and drawing of all this. Indeed, Ioa's skills in drawing were actually pretty good, even if it really couldn't be applied normally other then for personal interest.

WIth Ioa drawing Lux in such splendid detail, he couldn't help but fully and bluntly say his admiration in a typical Ioa style. "You look really pretty Lux! Really really pretty! You five did a really great job! And Fahkaru, you have some really great helpers and clothes and stuff!"

That was when Ioa looked back at Ashen and Lux...and remembered something right as the five were leaving.

"You know, now that I think about it, you two kinda make a really great pair! Lux alone looks great, but I bet it would look even more complete if Ashen dressed up with her! I bet they would make a really pretty pair! What do you think, Fahkaru?"

And then, he looked at Ashen giving off a smile while giving that slight tilt to his head that was just a little too naive and innocent for anyone's own good, the kind of smile when one drops a metaphorical bomb without any awareness or intention of it.

"Don't you agree you two would look great together? I mean, just look how pretty Lux is! I bet thsoe five could help you match that!"

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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#, as written by Sepokku
The Deathknight continuted to follow, smiling at Fakharu's comment about the request being at short notice, but not replying. He idly noted Fakharu's comment to his servant girls, and the eyes of the entourage's leader held a hint of mischief as she replied, one he too readily picked up one. What a wonderful turn of events.

"My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade*."

"Indeed the most beautiful places and people were lost at the end of the First Age."

Before long a low-set table, as was custom in the West stood before them. Fakharu took his place at the head of the table that was laden with exotic, rare, and delicious foods and began seating himself in a plethora of cushions. Obviously no expenses had been spared in the preparation of this feast, which further led Artsian to believe in the rumors he'd heard. It appeared his Lover had indeed been stolen by the Sirens. A most deserving fate for his hedonism, or so the Abyssal thought. Had Artisan had the power Fakharu posessed he would never have let this happen to his.... his, beloved.

Ashen began to express interest in the food presented before them, mentioning his home and, judging by the way he held himself and behaved, also his banishment. By whom he was banished remained a mystery, but for now this little morsel of information was more than enough.

Lux, the girl who was apparently a Terrestrial let loose a slough of bad puns about crabs which were bad enough to make Artisan chuckle to himself. Though he tried to hide it with a cough and a fist held to his mouth, the laughter was by no means suppressed. In the underworld, puns were more of a trap than a joke and it was refreshing to hear them used so lightheartedly again.

The entourage returned, which caused a sparkle to appear in his eye. Truly this was what he had been waiting for when he saw the mischievous gleam in theirs. As if in league with them, Ashen offered her up like bait to the sharks. Happily the sharks indulged, whisking Lux behind a curtain and beginning to size her up and play dress-up with her. The poor girl squeaked and protested as much as she might, but sharks that have smelt blood are not easily dissuaded.

“P-Please don’t touch me there!”

Artisan began to blush, even though he had suggested the possibility he daren't think he'd have to hear the whole ordeal. Obviously Lux hadn't been raised among aristocracy and now hearing her squeal and cry against those who were, caused a slight blush to appear on his face. The blush grew a bit deeper upon the mention of "measurements" and for once since Exaltion he cursed his pale flesh.

Taking his seat at the table, sitting in the same manner as Fakharu, Artisan took a long glance at the statue, presumably his lover, Amarel. It was a lovely statue, beyond even what Artisan was capable of producing. In the background, the makeover continued and he left a pleased smile fall over his face. After all, it had been his suggestion that they find her some new garb, even if they fell upon the idea with a bit more enthusiam than he'd imagined.

"Well would you look at that," Artisan concluded as the impromptu 'torture' session finally finished up, "Clothes befitting your stature have been adorned upon you dear Lux." Nodding approvingly, he finished "I assumed Lord Fakharu's trusted entourage would have clothes befitting thyself."

“Well why don’t you come join us then, now tha ye be finished.”

"Indeed, your absence left our motely crew feeling somewhat unfinished. Though I'm glad to see you, ah... more comfortable."

The stranger Northerner from Gladdom began to indulge herslef, eating heartily at the food presented before her. The innocence was commendable in and of itself, but it was the Deathknight's Lunar ally that drew true notice. Dabbing at her face with a handcloth, and correcting her behavior with an odd out of character behavior... It was curiously reminiscent of his pre-exaltion life.

No matter! He thought to himself, should it be necessary, a plot was already forming in the mind of The Artisan That Which Death Clings, one that would remedy the situation entirely. As Ashen Sky continued his mild doting, the Abyssal stated with a smile, "Forgive me if this is a bit forward, Sir Night Thief, but you remind me of a young lady I once fancied. Darling she once was to me, I'm afeared she is now lost to me." Whether the notion was a compliment or not was open to interpretation, but those very skilled in even the tiniest social nuance would clearly notice the statement carried a tinge of sorrow.

“ Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so...." Yes... Doting indeed... A plan had already formed in Artisan's mind to deal with this but the vote of confidence certainly helped him decided upon it.

Ashen quickly shot back and Artisan let out a slight groan at how quickly the situation was dissolving. Thankfully Fakharu was desperate and no one had expressed overt hostility yet. Perhaps, if the Abyssal was lucky, the group would survive just long enough to secure Fakharu's mortal lover, and then the nondesirables would suffer a sudden death. At who's hand didn't matter, but if he were lucky, it needn't be his. Calliope's reaction served to further cement his devilish plot. Meanwhile Ioa attempted to offer up Ashen to the same fate as Lux, though... he doubted the Dragon thought it was a good use of any of their time

Deciding to subsist entirely on blood for the day, Artisan didn't eat and instead directed a slightly direct query to the lesser Dragon. "So... I may have taken liberties against my liege's wishes in coming here. So in his honor, I'll get to the thick of it... About our summons..."


Fakharu continued with some regailing of his past glory, and asking his courtesan to run a few quick errands for him. His expressed dislike of the Fair Folk made Astrid wonder if, perhaps, he had irked Calliope with that comment. Certainly, Astrid had experience with Fair Folk and they tended to be at least slightly vain.

The vanity of Fakharu's 'personal chambers' where they were to indulge themselves in meal and drink, were of no less overtly gaudy then the rest of the palace, but at this point Astrid was no longer surprised. She idly wondered if he'd give her the emerald statue as payment for the job well done. Though, he could probably lend more valuable aid. The small feline girl quickly padded her way over to a pile of pillows and took her seat.

The feast Fakharu had prepared certainly appealed to her honed senses. The drink smelled strong, the fish exotic, however... there was a distinct lack of Northern delicacies. Regardless, Astrid began to rapidly grow in size, mass, and muscle as she resumed her hybrid form. Seeing Calliope take the lead, the Full Moon unceremoniously began to dig in. The succulence of the food helped distract her from the sheer terror that were Lux's crab puns.

The Courtesans seemed to want the Terrestrial for some reason, one that Astrid certainly couldn't be bothered with. Without even bothering to remove the shell, she devoured crab leg after crab leg, stopping only to wash them down with a hearty gulp of palm wine, sake, or mead. Once she was done with all the crab easily in reach, she moved onto the shark steaks. Piercing one with her claw, and tossing it into the air, lazily catching it in her mouth.

“Your pelt is quite soft ! I readily welcomme your residennce on mmy person !”

Snatching up a nearby morsel of clam meat and flicking it into her mouth, swallowing it down without chewing, she nodded idly at the comment. "Yes, hygiene is important, especially on the battlefield. Lest wounds fester."

Around ten cups of various wines, meads, and sakes in, Astrid began to feel comfortably buzzed and she felt a bit more at ease amongst her hastily assembled compatriots. When Lux's makeover was finished, Astrid let out uncontrollable fit of giggling. "You know, dearie! You do look quite lovely, yet..." Leaving the comment unfinished, Astrid simply plopped another shark steak into her mouth and began chewing on it thoughtfully.

Ashen suddenly reaching forward to wipe out Calliope's mouth put her suddenly on edge, and she licked at the sides of her mouth to ensure she did not recieve the same treatment. Eyeing her fellow Lunar warily, she watched him go about entirely too much tradition in preparing a bite to eat. Presuming that he was just a bit pretentious about his home cuisine, she began to relax once more.

Lux's interpretation and comment on the matter made Astrid let out a single loud guffaw imaginging the roguish Pirate trying to teach proper table etiquette. "Endearing indeed young Lunar, perhaps you may be an asset to our kind yet." What was once a single guffaw quickly turned into full out laughter when Ashen shot back, "...tonight our next lesson will be on balance and tha matter o' walking straight without falling over and gropin' your crew mates..."

"Your back and forth comments reminds me of my children!" The toddlers she'd left back in the care of her tribe teased and bickered with each other in a very similar fashion, almost daily. Speaking of people who reminded her of her children...

"Oh wow! Really?! You must be super, super ultimately super amazing!" Ioa's rapidfire commentary started back up. Turning to Ashen Sky, Ioa continued, "Don't you agree you two would look great together? I mean, just look how pretty Lux is! I bet those five could help you match that!"

"Indeed Mr. Corsair, perhaps a makeover is due for you as well. Certainly some fancy clothes and a Captain's hat could befit you better than your current garb." Grabbing her cup, Astrid slammed down her eleventh cup of the night in a single draught. "Fakharu, if a feast among Exalted company is all you called me here for, perhaps you ought to do so more often!"

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

0.00 INK

Collaborative post between Wake and myself.


“Your back and forth comments reminds me of my children!” Astrid spoke, having assumed a hybrid form between that of a cat and human. She’d laughed as Ashen had attempted to shoot back at Lux for her teasing. ....so, she had children then? Or, was her considering her tribe’s young as her own? Hmm, regardless.

As far as Ashen’s comment was concerned, she knew well enough that she’d gone and made more than a fool of herself earlier. The Lunar’s attempt at a retort to her teasing did nothing to particularly perturb her anymore than she already was to begin with. Perhaps she’d passed some sort of threshold earlier, what with how buffoonish her antics made her appear to be...not to mention the impromptu makeover that’d put her out of her element even more. The fact that Ashen was trying to quip back at her for her own attempt at ribbing, it made her giggle a bit. It seemed that he enjoyed dishing it out—but not having it returned to him. That bout of laughter she’d underwent had been rather cathartic, and overall seemed to allay some of her discomfiture. She still felt very much out of her comfort zone in the dress and with pigment and paints applied to her face, but, she felt better.

Calliope had seemed awestruck, then a little baffled, but she seemed to force herself into a hurried recovery, joining in on Lux’s laughter...though Lux herself could tell it was a touch strained in nature. “Mmanny gratitudes for your kinnd gesture, dear Ashen. Wit such gracious mmanners, in Gladomm you would be invited to dine wit the Queen herself!”

Lux hummed—good thing that Calliope had not ended up being offended by Ashen’s weirdly intimate behavior.

Ashen Sky smiled a bit and scratched his neck. He still felt a little embarrassed for his breach earlier, and the fact that he could detect the awkwardness from her as well and… Did he smell excitement from her as well? That sent him slightly further into sense abashed and to hide it he resorted again to a short laugh. “Well I’ll be keepin’ that in mind if I evar make a trip round to your shores than me lady.” Calm, collected, in control. That’s what he needed to be right now. He was sitting in front of a celestial censor, one that he could smell the growing irritation and regret of even as Fakharu continued to smile patiently. Right now they needed someone to not be making outburst or fools of themselves. He took another sip of wine and a bite of his food to keep his nerves straight.

Keeping herself quiet, deciding it would be better to end the teasing, Lux went ahead and took hold of a goblet that was in front of her, taking a sip of the liquid that was inside of it...before grimacing. Ah, she should have expected it to be filled with some kind of fruity, alcoholic drink.... Such beverages not befitting her sense of tastes, Lux set the cup back upon the table and and began to idly fiddle with some of the food upon her plate. Things seemed to be a calming down.

....then Artisan had to open his mouth.

“Forgive me if this is a bit forward, Sir Night Thief, but you remind me of a young lady I once fancied. Darling she was to me, I’m afraid she is now lost to me.”

The Deathknight’s comment made Lux cease her mindless actions and look up at him. She quirked an eyebrow, and remembered the “lovebirds” comment he’d uttered in a rather embittered tone earlier. The Dragon-Blood didn’t know what to make of this Deathknight.

Ashen Sky, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have heard the second part of the Deathknight’s speech. The changing moon stopped mid chew on his most recent bite and shot a glance at the him. “And by what manner do ya mean that, if you mind me askin”. He knew the statement wasn’t an insinuation, helped by the slight hint of grief he smelled off the other man. Still though his tone might have come off slightly more flat than necessary. Again he took a swig of his wine to wash the food down and free himself for further speech.

Then Ioa had opened his big fat mouth. It seemed that everyone had a comment about something at the most inconvenient of times.

“You look really pretty, Lux! Really, really pretty!” Though Lux was beginning to relax, that comment was still enough to make her clear her throat out of discomfort...then it just got worse as the squirrelly Celestial looked between herself and Ashen.

"You know, now that I think about it, you two kinda make a really great pair! Lux alone looks great, but I bet it would look even more complete if Ashen dressed up with her! I bet they would make a really pretty pair!” The food and drink promptly went down the wrong pipe as Ashen Sky made a sharp intake of air. He started hammering on his chest to clear his windpipe as the runt continued to babble on his idea of giving the night thief a similar makeover as Lux.

Had Lux actually bothered to ingest anything more than the foul wine, she might have had a similar reaction to Ioa’s rambles. While Lux certainly didn’t choke, given that she had nothing to choke on, she definitely did freeze up and feel her face heat under the pigment and paint. So...Ioa thought...that...then. The Dragon-Blooded began to mumble incoherent things to herself, she was perceptive enough to know that Ioa had meant what he said in a completely innocuous manner—he’d meant aesthetics. ….or, at least, she was pretty sure of that.

Things only seemed to worsen when Astrid decided to put in her two cents as well.

"Indeed Mr. Corsair, perhaps a makeover is due for you as well. Certainly some fancy clothes and a Captain's hat could benefit you better than your current garb."

Throat finally cleared Ashen responded curtly, “I am perfectly able to dress meself, thanks.”

Lux wasn’t wholly sure if Astrid was out to tease Ashen, or if she was being completely serious. Either way, the girl wasn’t entirely over what Ioa had said, but she did her best to push it aside to try to collect her composure. If events did so happen to play out, and Fakharu’s handmaidens were somehow able to wrangle Ashen into a makeover, the Dragon-Blood wasn’t going to deny herself a little schadenfreude. ....so long as it didn’t go the way Ioa had suggested, of course.

“Oh, if the notion of proper gentlemen’s ware is unappealing to you, Ashen, then perhaps a makeover near identical to mine would better suit you?” Lux didn’t look over at the Lunar, instead she returned to picking at bits of her food before finally popping some sort of unknown meat into her mouth.

A frown appeared on the pirates face. “As ay jus’ said, I’m perfectly able ta dress myself.” Ashen’s voice became a little more hard at that and his accent slipped in again. He pointedly looked outward towards the open westward wall, away from Lux and the group. “Besides, I don’t think I have your pretty little figure to fit in that.”

Pretty little.... Lux cleared her throat and tried to move past the comment as she swallowed the bite of meat she’d been chewing on. It seemed her little bit of a quip got rather under his skin? It felt like his tone got oddly defensive there, hmm.... She took another bit of the meat and took a bigger bite, “Oh, you’d be rather surprised what you can do, even if you think you have nothing. Corsets, binders, shapewear, etc. I have personally seen men who look far better in a dress than I.”

A small frown appeared on the Lunar’s face though it was likely difficult to see from the way he was resolutely watching the shoreline outside. What, were those the options we heard Nāgasāni and the others were presenting you back there? Probably not best to discuss our undergarments at breakfast my dear.” He crossed his arms over his chest, slightly tense now. Though he was trying to tease her back, the pirate was getting slightly more crass in his comebacks. “And Anyway, I can’t speak for your experiences but I can certainly say that I’m not one of these girly men you seem fond of.”

Her face did redden a bit, but Lux could tell that he was trying to unnerve her. Maybe if it’d been a legitimate effort, it would have had the intended effect. Even if she could not see his expression, she could still at least grasp his body language, and saw that he’d stiffened up. Indeed, she’d been right in thinking he had gotten defensive beforehand. Why, exactly, he was so prickly about this particular subject made Lux wonder, while she stared at him quietly as she nibbled on vaguely savory vegetable.

This was another oddity for her to mentally stow away, she’d noticed a bit of strangeness from him earlier when she’d nearly sent him and herself off the pier.... For now, it was best to not dig any deeper. Even she’d meant her comments in jest, he did not take them so lightly, and continuing the exchange would only prove to cause issues. So, how to derail this conversation? ....puns had proved distracting to Ashen earlier, but, he hadn’t seemed to appreciate them. Well, they had been talking about corsets.... She’d adjusted a bit to the one she was forced into, but it still wasn’t the most comfortable experience. Shifting about in her seat, the Dragon-Blooded mumbled a few, quiet colorful words, “Truly, I cannot say I quite comprehend why anyone would wear a corset of their own accord, anyway. There are bits of me that are squished in such manners, that I’d have thought them impossible!” she puffed out her cheeks, pouting as she played up her discomfort. “Never did I think I’d have to reteach myself how to properly breathe, I do not understand how my lungs are supposed to function like this.”

It was a small gesture but it seemed to work. His arms were still crossed but his shoulders eased up, and he finally turned his attention back to her with a raised eyebrow. He’d relaxed rather quickly now that the topic had changed. “Why did you even let ‘em stuff ya into tha thing?”

Well, she was glad that had done what was intended.... Lux forced a deep sigh as she fidgeted a bit, “I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, they just sort of threw it around me and laced me up into it.” she slid down a bit in her seat, “Til now I’ve never wore one, and after this, I’d prefer not to wear one again, if it can be helped.”

“Well, I recommend not letting yourself get kidnapped by a group of couturier then if tha be the case.” he quipped. A comfortable silence descended on the two as the meal continued. This brunch though was likely nearing its end, and probably sensing that Artisan brought up the question to the water dragon of why they were all here. Ashen and Lux both looked to the dragon with a similar question on their minds and waited for the Censor’s response.

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Ashen Sky Activates TRUTH SCENTING METHOD
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 4/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Ongoing Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT, TRUTH SCENTING METHOD


Fakharu bore the chatter of his guest with the patience of ages. There were an number of things in the gathered exalts actions that showed a surprising lack of decorum in their behavior that was displeasing to his sensibilities. Still though, he continued to grin and bare it. He had been the one to decide on inviting this group of exalted into his tower and thus it was on him for whatever ruckus they made while here. Still though, he was making mental notes on each of them as the meal progressed, and thus far his opinions of them were becoming low. If he weren't scrapped for time he probably would have sought out chosen that held more.... competent airs about them.

Finally the deathknight spoke up, and the dragon was almost glad to answer the question and put the present farce out of his mind. "So... I may have taken liberties against my liege's wishes in coming here. So in his honor, I'll get to the thick of it... About our summons..." Ah yes. The deathknight's 'liege', the Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Water. That was also a matter he would be getting into. Later of course. But for now the query deserved an answer and it was as good an opportunity as any to broach the matter.

"Ah yes, your summons. I had hoped to make sure you were all comfortable before I raised the issue of why I had called you hear for it is a rather difficult one." The dragon shifted in his seat till he was no longer in a reclining position. Now straight backed and sitting tall he drew the gathered guest attentions on himself. "Now before I begin, I know that some of you know me, and some of you only know my name but not my position and the duties therein in the celestial order. So for that reason allow me to reintroduce myself; I am Fakharu, appointed celestial censor of the west by the order of heaven. It is my responsibility to provide oversight and audits of the gods and elemental spirits of the west and enforce the laws of heaven in this portion of creation."

He gave a brief moment for that to sink in before he continued. "My rank in the celestial order grants me much power and prestige amongst the gods, but with that privilege comes the issues of responsibilities to uphold and envious rivals that would seek to exploit my power for their own gains or bitter law breakers that would undermine my authority. This is why I have called you, for the actions of a few such criminals has put me in a difficult position and I would be grateful for your aid in resolving the matter."

The dragon paused again to take a deep breath and place a claw over his chest. "The issue is a personal one I am afraid. One who is dear to me has been kidnapped by a trio of sirens, in an attempt to force me to unjustly prosecute the Storm Mother of a spirit court to the west of here. Naturally I would never abuse my position in such a manner under normal circumstances," Ashen sky's nose twitched at this but he said nothing. "but the threat to my beloved Amarel is something I cannot ignore. I cannot chase after her myself however, much as I would wish to- not only would such action give certain enemies of mine unwelcome ideas, but the sirens would know that I have left my spire and might kill her before I could reach her. They have hidden her in a place called the Archipelago of exiles, a place hidden from the eyes of heaven and earth by certain magics from long ago. This is why I need you, noble exalted, I cannot send my own servants for they are too well known in the west and the sirens may have spies watching the tower so I need trust worthy and powerful allies, unknown to the powers of the west who can covertly rescue her in my stead. If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt."

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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Lux listened intently, silent and thoughtless as Fakharu spoke.... Before explaining the reason behind the writ that he’d had delivered to each of the group, the Lesser Dragon took it upon himself to ensure that everyone in the group understood the fundamentals about him, his position and what it all entailed. Certainly, Lux was aware of a few sparse facts prior to this, at least...she knew enough to comprehend that Fakharu was an influential individual of great importance. She didn’t need to know many of the finer details to realize that his position as a Celestial Censor of the West came with as many negatives as it did positives…. Positions of authority were a double-edged sword for a plethora of reasons, after all.

“...this is why I have called you, for the actions of a few such criminals has out ne in a difficult position and I would be grateful for your aid in resolving the matter.” If Lux’s attention hadn’t been drawn to the Dragon before, it certainly was now. Fakharu sighed, deeply, and set one of his clawed hands upon his chest before he continued. Whatever he was about to divulge to the group, it was a...sensitive topic. And in the back of Lux’s mind, she thought about that statue.... “The issue is a personal one, I am afraid. One who is dear to me has been kidnapped by a trio of sirens in an attempt to force me to unjustly prosecute the Storm Mother of a Spirit Court to the west of here. Naturally, I would never abuse my position in such a manner under normal cirumstances, but the threat to my beloved Amarel is something I cannot ignore.”

So, it seemed that perhaps her intuition wasn’t wrong—Lux’s hands tightened into small fists upon her lap and a rather light expression of ire overtook her features as she continued to listen to Fakharu as his explanation turned into a plea.
“I cannot chase after her myself, however, much as I would wish to—not only would such action give certain enemies of mine unwelcome ideas, but the sirens would know that I left my spire and might kill her before I could reach her.” A pang of melancholy resounded throughout Lux's person. Fakharu and Amarel's situation...it was one she was knew all too well. After all, once upon the night she'd taken her Second Breath, she'd been held as a hostage. They'd used her as leverage against the closest thing she'd had to a mother, and that'd gotten her killed. Lux survived, only because of Vered's sacrifice and the fact that she Exalted.

Fakharu had more to say, but Lux knew where this was going, it made sense why he’d beckoned to Exalted all across Creation...even if she didn’t think she was quite fit for the task she knew he was going to ask of them. And she didn't even need to be asked.

“They have hidden in a place called the Archipelago of Exiles, a place hidden from the eyes of heaven and earth by magics from long ago. This is why I need you, Noble Exalted, I cannot send my own servants for they are too well known in the West and the sirens may have spies watching the tower, so I need trustworthy and powerful allies, unknown to the powers of the West who can covertly rescue her in my stead.” Someone of Fakharu’s position didn’t beg for help, but this...was about as close to it as you’d ever see, Lux was sure of that.

To call upon perfect strangers for a task like this one, truly, Fakharu was desperate, and she understood why. The Dragon was caught between a rock and hard place, his lover being held hostage, while he was physically unable to anything to save her. That someone would sink so low, that someone would do this.... This sort of matter was something that Lux would have felt compelled toward if she happened across it during her journeys. To take someone’s loved one to blackmail them—it disgusted her! Unbeknownst to Lux, she’d started jittering, just a bit as the irritation built in her. She still wasn’t sure just how helpful she could be, but, without needing any incentive, Lux was already swayed to the cause.

“If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt.” Fakharu finished, definitely trying to persuade the group...certainly that might be necessary for some, but, not for Lux. She didn’t need any incentives. Lux didn’t need promises of wealth or favors, she didn’t want those things.... And, perhaps she’d be called naïve or silly for that, but it didn’t matter to her. All she wanted to do was do what was right.

Perhaps her compassion and her anger over this wrong got the better of her, but without realizing the small Dragon-Blooded had gotten to her feet rather quickly which caused her chair to slide backward with a squeal, slammed her hands down on top of the table hard enough to make the dinnerware clink and rattle. She probably looked like a fool again, getting so emotional, but Lux didn’t care about that. “How revolting! That they’d sink so low....” she started, her voice loud, impassioned. Her views were simplistic, influenced by her own experienced but across all spectrums she’d view this situation the same. As wrong, wrong, wrong! No matter who the victims were, or their lot in life, her reaction would be as fiery.

“The sort of sods who’d commit this kind of thing can rot, as far as I’m concerned....” she spoke, rather allowing her thoughts to form aloud. Lux removed her hands from the tabletop and looked at Fakharu, expression genuine and determined, “I cannot say I’m entirely confident in myself, but, I want to help. I want nothing and need nothing, from you, Lord Fakharu, I just...want to help, if I’m able to.”

She jumped at the call, not caring or knowing if any of the others would even agree to assist. It didn’t matter, she was committed to this, and she would do whatever she could—she couldn't stand the thought of someone being in the position she once was. Certainly, the task that Lux was vowing herself to could well end up costing her, her life but...that didn't matter. If she did nothing, she couldn't live with herself. Whatever she was capable of doing, she'd do it.

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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#, as written by Sepokku
And so it was that Fakharu began to explain the reason he called these... uncouth heroes together. Artisan nodded while listening to Fakharu explain who he was and what he did, a fact that the Deathknight already knew. Present company taken into account though, he wasn't surprised of the necessity. Artisan himself had already explained this fact, but... he wouldn't be surprised if the group had already forgotten. After all.... Look at their behavior.

It seemed his lover had been spirited away, probably in retaliation against his corrupt behavior. It brought a slight smile to Artisan's face, one he did his best to hide. Fakharu blamed the incident on his position of power, but... The Abyssal decided it was probably more likely that he had made enemies of the sirens through his rather lackadaisical actions. As a result of the censor's indolent behavior, the gathered Exalted were being implored to head to the Archipelago of Exile.

The Artisan That Which Souls Cling didn't like that idea, but Fakharu promised "If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt." Which could definitely help with the mission his liege had tasked him with... Traveling with this group for an extended period of time could prove troublesome though. Lux interrupted his musings with an outburst of utter selflessness.

“I cannot say I’m entirely confident in myself, but, I want to help. I want nothing and need nothing, from you, Lord Fakharu, I just...want to help, if I’m able to.” How quaint that someone so seemingly harmless would so fervently stand up for what was 'right.' "Very commendable Lux. I understand what it's like to lose a loved one, Lord Fakharu. I'd be more than happy to lend you my assistance. I understand how intricate these political proceedings can get. They could discuss the reward and incurred debt in more detail upon his return.


Astrid was indeed comfortable, with a full belly and a decent buzz going on. Though she didn't appreciate Fakharu taking so long to bring up his reason for summoning them. It seemed underhanded somehow, waiting until your guests were intoxicated to beg favors of them. The Dragon continued bragging about his power and crying 'woe is me' about the misfortune it brought. She couldn't care less who audited or enforced what in the West. Not yet anyways.

Fakharu would be in less of a position to help should his authority be undermined, but ultimately he was but a piece to be used for her own betterment. It seemed the Dragon's romantic plaything had been taken out from under his nose and was knowing being held as a hostage. A tactic that Astrid enjoyed implementing, but one that reflected poorly on Fakharu. To think he couldn't even protect the ones within his palace. All that power, wasted on such a being.

She'd have to lend her aid though, as she'd already wasted this much time coming here and hearing him out. She decidedly wasn't swayed by his mention of reward and being in his debt. Though it had originally been why she came here, at this point she legitimately felt bad for the old bastard. Able to move rivers, lay low entire cities, and bend the very spirits of Creation to his will and yet; the old fart couldn't even keep hold of the woman that held his affection. Truly pitiful.

Sneaking through Creation and infiltrating a magically hidden archipelago to snap three sirens neck and save a fair maiden was the kind of thing Astrid lived for. She could hardly say no to such a challenge. Especially when it could positively impact her tribesmen. Deciding she was done with the feast, Astrid would have started to answer, were it not for Lux's outburst. It seemed the little creature was truly upset about Fakharu's misfortune. That or she was feigning it like the sniveling Dynasts loved to do, whatever emotion proved most useful they wore like a mask.

The filthy Abyssal also accepted, much to her dismay. Reserving judgement for now, Astrid nodded while looking Fakharu in the eye, "Very well Celestial Censor, I hear your request and will have your beloved back to you. Covertly is my middle name. Hold up your end of the bargain and I shall hold up mine, in only a short while we'll be feasting in this same room with Amarel, laughing the night away. Where is this Exile's Archipelago?"

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 4/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Ongoing Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT, TRUTH SCENTING METHOD


A smile appeared on the dragons face as three of the exalts gave their answer. "It relieves me greatly to hear that from each of you. The Archipelago lies 600 miles westwards from here, past the very same court of the storm mother whom the sirens seek to spite. I will gift you the same ship you arrived upon to provide transport there."

Ashen noted that by their own proclamations the three had more or less volunteered the group as a whole. He didn't mind though, he was planning on taking the job anyway and he recognized that the dragon had been maneuvering them towards this in the first place. Invite them into his house, feed them a fancy breakfast, give Lux a fancy dress, then make his request after they'd all sampled his hospitality when it'd be rude to refuse. A simple ploy that he honestly should have expected as soon as the word 'brunch' had come up. He had been making note of the emotional signals of each member as they spoke along with his charm for snatching out lies, and though he detected a smidgen of untruth from Fakharu his concern for his lover was genuine.

The more interesting responses came from the other exalts in the room. From Lux he could tell her outrage was real and in it was twinged a hint of regret? That was interesting, but it didn't seem to be targeted towards the dragon but herself. Perhaps she had experience with people being kidnapped before?

The more interesting scents came from Astrid and Artisan. Both had a mix of pity and contempt, with Artisan emitting a bit more avarice. Both of them seemed less interested in helping the dragon than they we're in either the reward or the challenge of it. He also detected a hint of disdain from them aimed towards Lux of all people. That one threw him for a loop and he couldn't figure what it was she did or said to earn that.

Regardless the changing moon decided to ask a question that the others hadn't. "So this archipelago... why is it magically hidden? And who is exiled there?" There was a pause from the dragon before he answered. "That is... a long story. The archipelago gets it's name for the fact that rogue spirits flee there for sanctuary. Lesser Gods who have fallen out of favor with the celestial order, elementals that have offended their spirit courts, even some demons that have escaped from hell or broken free of a sorcerers bindings. All of them try to escape punishments for some crime or another and the wrath of the law and seek the isles that dot that place to lay low. I will admit that I have found it politically pragmatic to ignore that stretch of the ocean, for there are those high in office in heaven that desire it be kept hidden for their own reasons. And as such I know little of the on goings there. I do know that Sikunare, the storm mother to the west, makes a business of smuggling such spirits in there and will likely know more, though I would caution discretion if you seek to meet with her."

Ashen grimaced at the thought of that. Entering a storm mother court, it was not a situation he relished the thought of. Especially not under current circumstances. For some reason he gave brief concerned glance at Calliope. She'd likely be the one at the largest danger if they went that route. "Any supplies you'd be willing to spare for this venture?"

The dragon nodded, likely expecting a bit of an extortion up front under this guise. "I can loan you a few items that may help, but for that I would like to know what strategy you plan to employ." Ashen pondered this a bit. They'd need to act fast if they wanted to nab Amarel safely, but how'd they'd do it will probably require a plan based around the groups strengths. He gave a glance to the others for suggestions.

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Castle
Collab Between Wake, Jak, Sep, & I!


After hearing the dragon's request, Calliope, too, offered her support. The noble creature smiled. "It relieves me greatly to hear that from each of you. The Archipelago lies 600 miles westwards from here, past the very same court of the storm mother whom the sirens seek to spite." Calliope licked her lips at the thought of confrontation. "I will gift you the same ship you arrived upon to provide transport there."

Newly invigorated after her meal, Calliope sat on the edge of her seat as though she was ready to jump up and depart at any moment. Ashen probed for more information, and in return, Fakharu explained the pertinence of the island, presenting the difficulty it might pose for forming a proper plan.

She could feel Ashen's eyes on her once more. It was a good thing she was pink, because her renewed embarrassment would have been all too apparent. For a moment, Calliope's mind lingered on the gentle, albeit awkward gesture Ashen had displayed earlier. Her heart raced. She stared deeply into the table as she relived the moment. For some reason his additional glance only embarrassed and enraged her further. She wanted to violently demand an explanation for his behavior, but instead, Calliope forced herself back to the topic at hand.

Ashen Sky however caught the scent of her embarrasement and subsequent anger. He flinched slightly even if she didn't return his stare, for his magic made it clear to him that he was the source of her sudden turmoil even if he couldn't identify the cause. He was going to have to come up with an explanation for his actions later, even if he couldn't figure it out himself.

Calliope followed the same train of thought Ashen did. What was Fakharu willing to supply for the safe return of his betrothed? It seemed he was unwilling to reveal that information without a more defined road map. "I would offer the assistannce of the Gladomeenn armmy, but I regret your quanndry may nnot cause enough alarmm to warrannt the accordance of mmy King and Queenn." Calliope made eye contact with the beast.

"I am inclinned to ask, dear Fakharu." She began cooly, wiping her greasy hands off on a napkin. "How could you let your beloved escape you so? Be you nnot all mmighty inn your lannd?" Calliope knew not what effect her agnostic approach may invoke.

The dragon's face remained neutral, but his clawed hand did ball into a fist. He showed no sign of feeling insulted even as he spoke. "While I welcome the sentiment Calliope, I feel that it is probably for the better that your nation didn't get involved. The movement of an army would be neither swift or quiet and this endeavor requires both. As for how Amarel was abducted..." He paused to rub his face. Though hidden under his palm their was a mixture of anger and remorse in his face. "She had been collecting pearls along the island's beach when it happened. I have always allowed her to wander the grounds as she chose, and she never felt the need to take a guard with her. Perhaps I should have insited she keep an escort on her walks, but that is in hindsight now. I have come to suspect that the sirens may have had help in snatching her away though, for the island is normally carefully watched from the sea and the air."

Calliope could sense the injury she had induced, but given the circumstance, she felt entitled to hear his answer. She tried to be apathetic, in true Gladomeen fashion, but she recognized his pain. A pang of guilt and anguish washed over her, while she also maintained a neutral expression. She said nothing in reply, simply because she had nothing to say.

"In anny case, I suggest we seek allies on this 'Archipelago'. What is this saying you have? The friennd of mmy friennd is mmy enemmy? The ennemy of mmy friennd is mmy...? No mmatter." The clumsiness of her attempt at the phrase was amplified by her Sky accent. "Surely we can enntreaty the assisstannce of sommeone with our commonality. Knnow you any other person with contact onn this island?" She asked Fakharu.

Fakharu nodded slightly and seemed to consider the idea. "While again I must admit that I have intentionally avoided scruitiny the isles and thus have little knowledge of its inhabitants, and that Sikunare knows more than I, I can offer a few 'gifts' to sway favor for you if needed." He placed his elbows on the table and leaned in. "As I said my position allows me much power over the west and in the celestial order and a word of my command can grant someone much. I can provide letters of pardons for past crimes for those spirits hidding from the law, positions within my own court, material wealth, vauluble information..." He paused for a moment to consider something. "If possible you might even be able to negoitate with the Sirens themselves, or who ever they are working for. After all there must be other thing they would want then simply the disgrace of one storm mother. And if we are lucky the kiddnappers themselves might not all be in agreement by this point. If any of them show remorse or a willingness to aid in her return then I can promise to be... lenient towards them." Their was a small glint in his eye at this. "But above all remember that the immortal inhabitants of the isles were exiled for some treachery or another, and though that will likely make the desperate another treachry is neither too much or too little to expect from them."

Lux returned to her seat after her rather emotive response to Fakharu’s request, having a little bit of difficulty doing so due to the damned corset...perhaps it’d be a little bit too impassioned, but she could not help it. And it was while she was settling herself that she listened as Astrid, Artisan and Calliope confirmed that they too would lend their abilities to Fakharu’s cause. Certainly, they had different motivations than herself, but it was still comforting for the little Dragon-Blooded to know that she wasn’t going this alone after all. She listened as the conversation continued, keeping herself quiet for its duration, doing her best to absorb everything she was hearing as Calliope spoke at length with the Lesser Dragon, and the latter revealed that he could offer up little actual information on the Archipelagos, but did mention the notion of providing materials with which the party could use to sway the favor of the islands’ inhabitants....

So, they were launching into a discussion on strategy? Lux slid down in her seat a bit—she’d been the first to volunteer herself to this cause, but that didn’t mean she was going to be the first to come up with a sound plan on how to go about rescuing Amarel. Strategy was not her strongest area of expertise—typically she tended to think on the fly and acted more on instinct. She was better at improvising, but Lux knew that it would be best to come up with some kind of plan; this was on a different level than the situations she usually delved into.

Bribery and whatnot wouldn’t be the worst way to go about things, but as Fakharu had said, the Archipelagos were full of beings that’d committed one crime or another. Lux brought her hand up to her chin as she ruminated on the information provided....

“Strategy and such things are not my forte, I won’t try to fool anyone on that matter....” she started, quietly, “But, I do not think we would be any lesser for having material we could use to persuade some with. Given that we are lacking information on the Archipelagos, we’ll likely end up having to take a mixed approach to this, though.”


Biding his time to speak, Artisan finally decided to put his two cents in on the matter. "What's done is done Lord Fakharu, my concolences on the kidnapping of your beloved, but we will have her back to you soon. As for the Archipelago... it is... complicated to say the least. We could use whatever resources you have to spare. Making allies is likely the safest way to get your beloved Amarel back to you. Other methods of rescue may have incidental damages, which I'm sure you'd prefer to avoid. As for treachery, I assure you..." He paused, pondering the exact wording of what he was about to say. Failing to find a phrase that properly conveyed what he meant, he decided upon, "Well, I'm no stranger to treachery. Whatever machinations they might have, I'm sure our little group will stay out of the spider's web, and perhaps turn their own plans against those who are keeping Amarel from you."

Turning an eye to Lux, the evangelization of the islands came to the forefront of his mind. "If the Immaculate Order had any success, perhaps Lady Lux will be able to sway some minds. With the proper resources of course." Artisan was intent on squeezing what help he could from the Censor. Though he kept reassuring Fakharu that they'd safely retrieve his lover, judging by certain temperments in the party, he was less than certain. They would definitely need all the help they could get if this was going to be an expedient and successful endeavor. Astrid suppressed a snort at the Abyssal's obvious kowtowing, if it were up to her they would simply sneak into where the girl was being held, kick open the door, and spirit her away.

However partly due to the thought of a challenge, and partly due to the drink, Astrid was in a good mood and willingly to hear the assembled group out. After all had been said and done, and once Astrid was picking her teeth with a claw she proclaimed her attack plan. "Me, I'm not one for words. I leave it up to popular decision, but in my opinion we should go in quietly, strike hard and fast." She slammed a fist into her open palm as it to emphasize the force of their assault. "We'd have Amarel in our hands before they even knew we were there."

Artisan, though not shocked at her plan, was shocked that she thought he could sneak around even half as well as her. "Um... Miss Astrid, I can't exactly move quietly in this armor." As if only just then remembering, she looked at the assembled Celestials and lone Terrestrial. "Then don't come. Though... perhaps most of us are not up to such a task." She ended the thought with a lazy shrug.

Calliope nodded thoughtfully. "While I finnd your approach ennticing, Astrid, this dismmal creature is correct," she referred to Artisan. "Diplomacy mmay be our best option."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Wake
The dragon steepled his fingers and spoke. "Lady Astrid's suggestion is tempting, and I would be willing to provide armaments for that course, but it would require locating Amarel and her captors first. That said it seems your group has come to something of a decision for now." He looked over the assembled exalts and nodded to them. "I again thank you all of agreeing to this plea on short notice. And if there is anything specific you would have in mind for provisions in this quest you need merely inquire it of me and I will see that it is given to you." Fakharu then rose from his seat and brushed himself down. "With that though I must return to my chambers and see to my midday task. If you have need of anything for personal taste you may speak to my chamberlain Burnished Mantis and he will provide for you. If you need information about the local seas then my other servants, Shemaru my librarian, Mirror of Divinity my informant, and Steel Sun down by the docks are all present and knowledgeable of the surrounding region. I ask that outside of these four though you do not speak of the true reason why you are summoned here. There are many that watch my court and and if they were to over hear talk of Amarel's kid nap they might see it as something to exploit and I cannot ignore the possibility that the sirens have left a spy to watch for any rescue being sent. If any ask you then tell them that your reason for being here is discussing the matter of my policy on the immaculate order. And while I would like for you to leave as soon as possible I would suggest waiting until night fall to foil any watching eyes or pursuit."

Artisan nodded at the censors words, glad to hear this talk of stealth had been put to rest. Fakharu mentioned the names and locations of some individuals that may be of use to them before they left to retrieve Amarel. Which reminded him of something that had transpired earlier and a need to react to it appropriately. "Oh, one more thing before you go Lord Fakharu. I um..." He bit his lip, thinking about how to broach the delicate matter. "I have need of a quiet place, one where i will be alone and entirely isolated. Can't have prying eyes or ears for this matter, I'm certain you of all people understand the need for privacy. Is there uh... such a place in your court?" For multiple reasons, the Abyssal hoped the dragon would say yes.

Fakharu quirked a brow at this request but he did answer. "There is a meditation chamber on one of the lower floors. I shall have one of the handmaidens escort you there if you wish."

"It would please me greatly to have some time to center myself. Thank you for your gracious kindness Lord Fakharu"

The censor gave a short nod again and addressed the rest one last time. "And with that I must bid you good morning for now. Feel free to enjoy the rest of your breakfast and make yourselves comfortable until nightfall comes. Until then, you have my permission to explore the spire to your hearts content." And with that the dragon turned a departed through the set of doors, leaving the exalts amongst themselves.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
Shortly after Fakharu left, a handmaiden approached Artisan, introducing herself as "Your guide, Sir Celestial. I was instructed to take you to our meditation chamber so that you may relax." Her smile was warm, if a bit fake, and it did well to relax the Abyssal about what he was about to do. "Indeed thank you so much Miss." Following the handmaiden, he made absolutely certain, to the best of his ability, that no one was following them. For what was about to happen, it was best that he be left alone and unseen.


Being left to her own devices, Astrid resumed her meal, polishing off a bit more of the feast. It seemed the filthy Deathknight had no plans to eat, and as such she was more than willing to eat his share. Between each few bites, she looked towards her companions. It seemed they were all better dressed than her. Not due to her vanity, but perhaps due to a slight bit of embarrassment, she began to grow self-conscious about her clothes. Her tribe never commented about them, but they treated her as a Goddess and Astrid began to suspect the disrepair of her clothes was definitely not common in other parts of Creation.

After eating her fill, and comfortably lounging about the table, Astrid remembered something Fakharu had mentioned earlier. Standing up, she made her way to find the chamberlain Burnished Mantis. Though it took longer than she liked, only an hour or so of wandering about with speaking to anyone, she found the chamberlain. Taking a quick glance around that no one would overhear her, she spoke to him in a hushed voice. "Hey," she addressed him rather tersely. "I'm one of Fakharu's honored guests and I need you to get me a new set of clothes."

The chamberlain raised a querulous eyebrow before replying, "Of course, any particular requests?" Astrid grit her teeth, feeling oddly tense about saying it. "Something similar to the Terrestrial's outfit, but not so similar that it's easily noticed!" The chamberlain gave a overt bow, replying with a simple "Of course honored Celestial," and began to make his leave.

An afterthought, but perhaps entirely necessary due to the nature of this mission, Astrid called after him. "Also! I will require a gauntlet and pair of greaves. They should all be spring-loaded with a sharp-edged blade that can be triggered easily with my hands or feet." As the chamberlain left, she began to idly play with her hair, wondering what outfit the chamberlain would bring her. Perhaps she shouldn't have asked, though she was certain that her current outfit would draw unnecessary attention.


The meditation chamber was expansive, larger than Artisan could've imagined. As the handmaiden began to take her leave, the Abyssal, examining the chamber, asked one last thing of her. "In about an hour's time, can you send my servant up to me. I will have need of him in my meditative practice." Slightly confused, the handmaiden acquiesced. "Of course sir."

Doing his best to ensure he was left alone, and after he was satisfied that he was indeed alone, he waited another hour, just to bore anyone watching that he might have missed. After the hour passed, he began the process of bleeding essence into the environment around him.

Though it sometime took a few tries, today Artisan had mastery over his curse, and his resonance began to effect Creation. The room began to smell slightly of a graveyard, death and decay filled the chamber as he felt the curse began to life from him. It seemed the Neverborn's grip would loosen today, albeit only momentarily. Waiting for the effect to face, Artisan sat and began to reflect quietly on the day. Once his servant was here, and night hit, the fun would truly began. A slightly twisted smile painted its way across his face, as he began to chuckle slightly to himself. "Fun, indeed."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
The sun had nearly dipped below the horizon and the time was nigh to begin. The Artisan That Which Souls Cling began by spreading about a circle of bone dust, about five feet in diameter and seating himself in its center. With a measure of effort, pure essence sliced open a rift to the Underworld drawing forth a familiar spirit, one that sometimes crossed the Necromancer's path in the Underworld. The summoning lasted for all of a few seconds. The spirit cast its gaze upon Artisan, and swiftly vanished back to whence it came.


Left with express instructions to ensure no one interrupted the master, Artisan's servants hung idly around the hallway that led to the meditation chamber. It was almost sundown, and he had been told to return an hour after the sun went down. It was now that time, and the servant began ambling down to bring retrieve the young Master.


As the servant came into the room, he found his Master on the ground in a state of perturbed silence. With a vague gesture, Artisan told the servant to lead him back to the surface so he may rejoin the... undesirables.

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 Character Portrait: Nimin "Zeri" Hedrox Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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#, as written by Sepokku
After the botched summoning, Artisan began making his way back to the pier, eager to set out and get this ordeal over with already, being met with his slave along the way, one of the many nameless chattel the Abyssal kept around as spare blood. The slave could sense the agitation his lord was carrying, and with a yelp of anxiety, he informed Artisan, "Th-there are more Exalted meeting you at the pier!"

Artisan's pace increased slightly, flustered as he was, and the walls of the Spire twisted up before him as he headed down to where the Censor's dubious representatives in this matter would be meeting. "Why would there be more of us!? Is Fakharu plotting against me and the Bodhisattva? That doesn't add up, we're already amounting to a small army; this would just be overkill." The Abyssal could think of no satisfying answer other than Fakharu wasn't telling them something.

He had already known there was more to this than the Censor was saying, but this only doubled his suspicions. "What exactly had Amarel been abducted for, and what kind of place was this Archipelago of Exiles, that it should be hidden from the Heavens?" More and more Artisan was wishing he'd woken more of his creations for this journey, especially if the Immaculate missionaries had seen success on their on the Archipelago.

The pier came into sight, sea-breeze blowing his snow-colored hair back, right as his eyes locked onto an enormous Golem, not unlike the ones common in the underworld. "Right, so that's one of the other Exalted found." Artisan began making his way to the Golem.


The Abyssal's appearance and sudden direction brought Astrid's attention to the Golem. Charting out a quick course, she jumped from her perch, catching the eve of a house as she fell, and using the moment to swing herself onto a nearby passing cart. From there she disappeared into the crowd, doing her best to blend in and hide from any would-be eyes, quietly shifting into a small black housecat.

Newly disguised, Astrid leaped up onto Artisan's shoulder and with a lazy yawn, she laid herself around his neck, claws well within reach of his throat.


With an annoyed sigh Artisan composed himself, the Golem appeared to be following a confident girl with dual-colored eyes, one that introduced herself as 'Mirror.' Her construct was interesting enough, and that alone made her less annoying then a majority of the other Exalted he'd met.

"Hello Mirror, I am The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, and yes I daresay I am part of the group you were to meet here. This is Astrid," with an idle gesture he indicates the cat on his shoulder. Turning towards the Golem, he continues "And, who pray tell, is this?"

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 Character Portrait: Nimin "Zeri" Hedrox Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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Nimin began to move down the pier as he could see the group that was now gathering midway up it's landing. It would be hard to hide such an event as anything other then an exalted gathering at this point.

He was sure that his message spoke of others like himself gathering, but at this point it was beginning to reach such proportions. That at least one Order bureaucrat somewhere in world, must have a ringing in his ears equal to a hornet being stuck in the damn thing. A thought that gives him both a slight amount of pause, and humor in equal measure. Resigning himself to simply worry about it later, and just finish stuffing his pipe away into his satchel.

The salty air of the sea blew across the pier once more as he closed within range of the group, taking notice of the more easily discernible members as he moved. Keep a calm look about him, even as the weight of the large construct ahead of him was starting to test the strength of the pier they all currently stood upon. Though he was confident that such construction would hold. Despite the groaning that could be heard from the wood underneath.

He scanned the group ahead of him, even as another came to join in. Stepping with a quicker pace than his own and addressing a rather familiar figure. One that Nimin had to be certain of who he was looking at before speaking. Then he heard the name spoken ahead of him as well. Mirror; such memories came to mind about long distant fields.

A group of exalted, with solars even. Three by the look of it, and more to boot.

It serves right that they'd even be graced by a princess as well.

The other introducing himself was enough to easily point out that he was an abyssal. Knowledge that already did not sit well with Nimin. Though that was only because of their opposing nature, it was just a feeling that was have for one like himself to kick after all these years. He honestly had nothing against the man on face value. Old emotions are hard to be rid of, and having to defend entire settlements from cults, ran by such entities. Was not something that one could deem, as helpful in that matter.

Nimin stopped short of passing his pale companion, and looked between the two of them.
"I see that our mutual acquaintance is more adamant about this proposal than even I thought possible."

He lightly nods towards the two of them as he finishes speaking. "Though it's good to see that I won't be alone as much as I thought this time around... I am Nimin" He adds as he extends a hand towards The Artisan That Which Souls Cling. Being the closer of the two.