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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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663921 No. 663921 ID: 5a02f7

”Mara?” Kamai asked dubiously, ”Isn’t that, like, a Second Circle Demon?”

“The Shadow-lover, defining soul of Erembour, That Which Calls to the Shadows, seventh soul of the Ebon Dragon,”
spoke the be-goggled girl, who had been quiet until now.

”Then who’re the other ones?”

“Gumela is of Jacint, made as a mockery of the Loom of Fate. Janequin is one of Oramus’s second-circle souls, of Remondin, if I remember correctly – she has a lot to do with luck and fortune.”

“Ya should know this shit, Kamai,”
Lintha scolded.

Kamai pursed her lips, ”I didn’t see you volunteering the information. Anyway, now it makes a bit more sense. Go on, Edge.”
Expand all images
>>
No. 663924 ID: 5a02f7
File 144000096325.png - (67.66KB , 750x750 , 201.png )
663924

The sunlight was blazing compared to the darkness behind my eyelids. It wasn’t quite as early as I woke up yesterday; Bulitar was silent, perhaps cowed from the visitor we had received during the night.

It turned out Mara had left more than just her enigmatic warning – I found suddenly that I had mastered a new charm, one that would allow me to –

-------------------------

”No way!” Kamai burst out, ”That’s totally unfair! You were on the Dragon’s shit list, and you got free stuff?”

“Let him tell the godsdamned story before I shut ya up myself,”
Lintha growled; she sounded serious enough that Kamai sunk back into her seat, dejected.

-------------------------

The new charm allowed me to become the nemesis of another. I would instantly feel spiteful hate for the person, which would not end when I chose to end the charm. For the duration, I would be Motivated to do whatever is opposite their goals. Doing this would allow me two new abilities: the power to recognize when I or another hit upon a topic that is held Intimately by the person I am mirroring, and the ability to Influence them Unnaturally. This would definitely be useful in the days to come.

It was early enough still that I had a good chance of catching Graceful Blossom at breakfast; alternatively, I could attempt to visit any of the others that I had met in the previous two days. I would have to meet with Abel at midday as Mirth, but my time was free until then.
>>
No. 663925 ID: 88960e

>That’s totally unfair! You were on the Dragon’s shit list, and you got free stuff?
Well, in fairness, it does sound pretty double edged.

>>663924
I wouldn't object to visiting graceful blossom again.
>>
No. 663972 ID: 7a6915

We have to make up a good story about what we were up to yesterday, but I would like to see Graceful Blossom again. Give me time to think on it, I might come up with something.
>>
No. 664019 ID: cee89f

>That’s totally unfair! You were on the Dragon’s shit list, and you got free stuff?
Well duh. If I made it back, I'd tick you off by telling you about it.
>>
No. 664135 ID: 88960e

Also, if we want to be be petty, being an exalt is pretty much entirely about things being unfair in your favor.
>>
No. 664175 ID: 5a02f7
File 144009999357.png - (75.39KB , 750x750 , 202.png )
664175

”It was certainly free, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “good,”” I spoke lowly, hoping the Dragon was too distracted with his new plaything to pay too much attention to our banter, ”Besides, I would have thought you had gotten used to things being unfair to you by now.”

Kamai looked hurt for a brief second before it's gone in a look of anger, ”Fuck you, Edge. Remind me to tell you the same thing next time you’re in trouble.”

I simply shrugged.

-------------------------

Graceful Blossom continued to occupy my thoughts. I wondered why she had not sent me a message; she had seemed interested when we had spoken last. My mind provided her a plethora of excuses as I trekked to her inn.

The common room was less crowded this morning, likely due to the fact it lacked a live performance; Graceful Blossom sat at one of the tables, papers strewn about in a haphazard fashion. She stared at them with bleary eyes and stifled a yawn behind a hand as I approached, ”Oh, Sky’s Edge – excuse me, let me just take these up-” I assisted her in gathering the sheets, sneaking another look at them – it looked to be star charts and references, mostly, this time written in High Realm. How many languages did she know?

”Forgive me for dropping in on you unexpectedly again,” I apologized as I handed over the sheaf of papers I had gathered.

She took them graciously, ”Oh, please, no. I said I would leave you a missive, and yesterday – by the Dragons, I was swamped with work. I stayed up half of the night until the letters began to swim before my eyes before I finally fell asleep atop the sheets; you should have seen me earlier, with writing stained on half my face!” she laughed, a little self-derisively.

Despite her state, the kohl around her eyes was expertly done as always – she must be extremely well-practiced to be able to do such a thing even when she had gotten so little sleep, ”Do you think you’ll be done soon?”

”Truthfully, I’ve done most everything I can with the information that was supplied,” she straightened her papers, ”I think eating might be in order, though, if you’d like to join me?”

If she was nearly finished with her work, this might be my chance to invite her out…
>>
No. 664177 ID: fbc59e

Yes yes yes!
>>
No. 664191 ID: a107fd

>Despite her state, the kohl around her eyes was expertly done as always – she must be extremely well-practiced to be able to do such a thing even when she had gotten so little sleep

Unless it's a tattoo, or a mutation.
>>
No. 664196 ID: ab7529

>>664175
Ooh. Burn, Edge.

Although meant more "being an exalt is about having unfair powers" not "life is always unfair to Kamai". Guess we're finally seeing how Edge can be a bit of a dick. (Although, to be fair, we know nothing of their history. Then again, the fact she was hurt suggests she really wasn't suggesting an attack from his direction).

>If she was nearly finished with her work, this might be my chance to invite her out…
Yes, inviting her out for a meal is a good opportunity. We have the cash for it now.

Although she's going to be astute enough to notice you have money now, meaning we'll have to invent a story as to how we came by it and/or if that means we found a job. She was helping us brainstorm job ideas, she'd ask the obvious follow up question.
>>
No. 664197 ID: ab7529

>>664191
...or part of a loom snaring deception.
>>
No. 664223 ID: 7a6915

As far as explaining where we got money yesterday, I might have a usable story. Improve this as you can, or replace it if you can do better, Edge:
While looking for accountant work we chanced upon evidence of counterfeit goods in a merchant's inventory through looking at ledgers. We were paid a bonus for that, but the merchant has probably left port now and we didn't want to leave town yet.

Also, by all means offer to take Graceful Blossom out, mention that we are curious about what she would consider an indulgence for breakfast. We should also be curious about what she was doing with star charts--possibly planning travel?

Also, if you want to try to respond to Kamai, try "Kamai, this whole story is about a quest to please and appease him. Perhaps he was rewarding me for trying, or perhaps he was giving me a 'gift' which was counterproductive so I'd more likely fail? I'm not stupid enough to ask which."
>>
No. 664327 ID: 5a02f7
File 144017484639.png - (55.59KB , 700x700 , 203.png )
664327

”Kamai, this whole story is about a quest to please and appease him. Perhaps he was rewarding me for trying, or perhaps he was giving me a “gift” which was counterproductive so I’d be more likely to fail. I’m not stupid enough to ask which.”

Kamai continued pouting, but she nodded, ”It does sound like it has some awful drawbacks. I’m curious how you ever put it into use.”

“If I ever did – you’ll see.”


-------------------------

”I managed to find some freelance work yesterday, so I’ve had something of a windfall; why don’t I take you out for breakfast?”

Graceful Blossom shook her head, ”No, I couldn’t possibly allow you to spend your hard-earned money on me, especially after you treated me yesterday…”

I smiled, ”I insist. I was planning on going out, anyway; your company just makes it more enjoyable. What would you consider an indulgence for breakfast?”

I saw her eyes sparkle at that, but she continued protesting, ”I couldn’t possibly ask you-“

“You aren’t asking; you are being forced into it by a charming rogue who won’t take no for an answer,”
I gave her my best grin.

That finally got a smile out of her, ”Well, there is this one thing I’ve been missing…”

-------------------------

”Oh, they have roe! We simply must get some of that.”

“What is “roe?””

“Fish eggs.”

“Ah.”


It “wasn’t exactly breakfast food,” she had admitted, but Graceful Blossom had apparently been craving the delicacy known as “sushi,” which, as it turned out, was just raw fish. It was beyond me why leaving the fish raw was more expensive than cooking it.

”The fish must be very fresh, and from a good part of the sea, for you to be able to eat it raw,” Graceful Blossom explained, ”Otherwise, it’ll make you sick.”

“I suppose that makes sense, why they would value such a thing in the Realm. To me, it seems a bit silly.”

“Oh, just wait – you’ll love it. I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t had sushi since I left Arjuf!”


I latched on to that little tidbit, so rarely did she drop them, ”Were you born in Arjuf?”

“No; that was where I performed my apprenticeship.”


Damn, ”For music or thaumaturgy?”

She smiled, ”A bit of both, actually. My sensei said that the two weren’t that different, in that you practiced following directions until you were learned enough to make your own works.”

“I saw you were preparing star charts – are you thinking of travelling soon?”

“Ah, those. No, those are for a client. I’ll still be in Chiaroscuro for some time yet.”


I smiled, ”I’m glad I won’t lose my newfound friend, then.”

She turned away, her cheeks highlighted with a blush. Our food arrived in the lull in conversation; it was surprisingly good, although the texture was terribly strange.

”So, did you manage to find steady employment yesterday?”

“No; I managed to find work with a merchant who was on his way out of town. While going over his ledgers, we chanced upon evidence of counterfeit goods. He gave me a bonus atop what we had agreed upon, so I decided to celebrate.”


She laughed lightly, ”Well, my offer still stands if you would like me to speak with my employers regarding your unemployment.”
>>
No. 664332 ID: fbc59e

Hrrm...Not seeing a reason to not take it...yet.
But we didn't take her offer before for some reason. Anyone willing to elaborate on that or will we take it?
>>
No. 664344 ID: 7a6915

>But we didn't take her offer before for some reason. Anyone willing to elaborate on that or will we take it?
"I’ll talk to some of my employers and see if they need an extra hand. I can’t promise it’ll be anything terribly exciting, but it will at least pay."
We didn't take that offer earlier because it seemed like she was talking low-wage stuff that might commit us as stable hand or something while trying to keep a consistent identity together for talking to Graceful Blossom. Other conversation on the topic of employment had her pointing us at places to try looking for low-wage, low-status grunt work. We probably don't want any of that without strong fringe benefits or it playing into a particular plan. We now come back later, still 'unemployed' but with a story of a bonus that implies we are not a worthless bum. It may now be worthwhile to ask *about* what she's got. Let me see if I can set up the ball here.


"The merchant already set up an appointment for me with one of his local trading partners. That appointment is for just before midday, but the life of a traveling adventurer is all about keeping multiple irons in the fire. What do your employers do, need and want--is it as interestingly eclectic as your pursuits?"

I'm also really curious about her story of a double-apprenticeship in music and thaumaturgy under the same master (or mistress): We could profit from skill in either or both of those. If we have the time for it I'm also curious about where she came from originally and why she's a traveler herself, but she might be avoiding that story.
>>
No. 664386 ID: 5a02f7
File 144020685021.png - (42.83KB , 700x700 , 204.png )
664386

>>664344

"The merchant already set up an appointment for me with one of his local trading partners, just before midday. But the life of a traveling adventurer is all about keeping multiple irons in the fire. What do your employers do, need and want--is it as interestingly eclectic as your pursuits?"

Graceful Blossom giggled, ”I suppose eclectic is a good word for it. They’re certainly an – interesting bunch. They hire a lot of people for individual jobs, mostly freelancers and artisans looking for a bit of extra coin. The pay is well for what it is, and I, at least, enjoy my work… But don’t let me interfere with something you already have set up; I would hate to make you late on my account!”

I peered up at the sun, ”Don’t worry; I have a few hours yet before the meeting – certainly time enough to finish breakfast.”

“Oh, true…”
she chewed some red-hued fish thoughtfully, ”Thank you, again, for treating me.”

“I’ll hear no more of it; the company is more than worth any expense on my part,”
I prodded some suspicious-looking white meat with my eating sticks before selecting the safer shellfish; surprisingly, it was cooked, ”It sounds as though you’ve been all over Creation, though. Any particular reason that has you travelling?”

Graceful Blossom got a distant look on her face, as though she were staring at the horizon, even hidden as it was, ”… Have you ever looked up one day and thought, “What am I doing here? What is my life going to be if I don’t do anything to change it?””

The statement set a swell of sympathy in my breast, ”Yes, I know that feeling well.”

She smiled at me, back in the here and now once more, ”That happened to me about eight Calibrations ago, and I haven’t looked back since.”

I nodded, ”The same happened to me, about two years ago, and I’ve been travelling between relatives ever since.”

“It’s not a bad life to lead.”

“There are certainly worse.”


We were near to finishing up our meal; I still had some time before I needed to prepare to meet Abel, and I continued to consider her offer of employment. Alternatively, I could spend my remaining time doing something else, with Graceful Blossom or without.
>>
No. 664395 ID: a107fd

She's a sidereal.
>>
No. 664414 ID: 7a6915

I say keep talking to Blossom unless she's got something she's keen on doing. I am curious who the heck her strange employer is, does she work for The Guild?
"I was running away from the expectation I would captain a fishing boat. I don't actually mind the smell, but I have too much imagination to handle the boredom of a fishing boat for long. So I proposed running a trader instead, but I didn't have enough experience traveling and trading for my family to support that. That convinced me to leave and go looking for either the necessary experience or something more interesting to do. What did you escape?"
>>
No. 664474 ID: ab7529

I'd agree- keep talking with her for now.

Her job thing does sound interesting- freelance weird / complicated jobs does sound like something we might be able to do. (Quest board: get).
>>
No. 664507 ID: 5a02f7
File 144028141960.png - (60.36KB , 750x750 , 204.png )
664507

>>664414

”I was running away from the expectation I would captain a fishing boat. I don't actually mind the smell, but I have too much imagination to handle the boredom of fishing for long. So I proposed being a trader instead, but I didn't have enough experience traveling and trading for my family to support that. That convinced me to leave and go looking for either the necessary experience or something more interesting to do. What did you escape?”

Graceful Blossom leaned back on her stool, her eyes getting that faraway look again, ”It was much the same, just a different place with different expectations. People expect you to do the same thing everyone else does, that everyone’s done for the past five generations, and no one bothers to try anything new. Everyone said “why would you want to do that?” Ultimately, I found the answer was “because I want to.” And that was that. I’ve been chasing the wind ever since, and I don’t regret a moment of it.”

“It sounds like your travels have certainly been exciting – you mentioned a sensei in Arjuf, yes?”

“Ah, Xiao-sensei. He was strict, but strict was what I needed at that time in my life. You know how when you’re young, you have this idea that you can take on the entire world without a single consequence? He was sure to beat that out of me – not literally. Have you found anyone to apprentice under as a trader?”

“Not yet, unfortunately. Few are willing to take the chance on a foreigner, let alone pay him while he learns.”

“Hmm…”
she tapped her bottom lip thoughtfully, ”You know how I mentioned my employers? They might be interested – can’t promise a formal apprenticeship, but perhaps you can get the experience you need while helping them out. What do you say? I think we might have time before your other appointment, if you’d like to go now.”
>>
No. 664512 ID: 7a6915

Graceful Blossom has said amazingly little about who or what these employers are. Are we walking into an ambush, an Amway meeting or what here? I hope it's The Guild she's talking about but even that could be worrisome because of their business in slavery.
>>
No. 664521 ID: ab7529

Very vague about her past. She's definitely hiding something in the lack of details.

>What do you say? I think we might have time before your other appointment, if you’d like to go now.
Make your own appraisal of the time, Edge. If you really think you have time for an outing and can still make it to your meeting, I think it's worth exploring.
>>
No. 664562 ID: 5a02f7
File 144030409967.png - (144.22KB , 750x750 , 205.png )
664562

>>664521

Judging by the length of the shadows outside, I still had several hours before midday, ”If it’s not too far away, I’d be happy to meet with them.”

Graceful Blossom smiled, ”It’s not; they’re in a sort-of shady part of town, but it’s not far from here.”

-------------------------

It turns out what Graceful Blossom considered a “shady part of town” was along one of the main byways of the Undermarket, just a short walk from one of the entrances. The building she led me to looked like a reputable establishment, with its stucco-covered walls and freshly-painted shutters. It was larger than most permanent structures I had seen in the Undermarket, perhaps twice the size of Amaranth’s establishment.

I stepped in front of Graceful Blossom, opening the door for her. She nodded her thanks and entered.

“咲ちゃん –“

“Eeeiyah!”
>>
No. 664563 ID: 5a02f7
File 144030413407.png - (67.24KB , 750x750 , 206.png )
664563

Graceful Blossom nearly stepped back into me as I crossed the threshold, and I put out a head to steady her. I can see why she was startled – a terrifying owl mask greeted us, held by a figure dressed in white.

“自分自身を落ち着かしてください,” the man lowered the mask. He had a nondescript face, notable only for the beauty mark below his right eye. His skin and hair were of similar coloration to Graceful Blossom’s, but his dress was definitely of the Realm, with his white robe and colored sash. The sleeves of his hanfu were long enough to completely obscure his hands, even as he waved one in placation, “私は – oh, forgive me. I did not see your friend with you.”

Graceful Blossom took a moment to regain her breath before answering, ”You scared me nearly to death with that thing!”

“御免なさい, 御免ね – but isn’t it exquisite?”

“Er, I suppose…”
She stepped into the shop proper, and I followed. The shelves were stocked with all sorts of things, from the everyday to the eccentric. I marveled at the sheer variety.

”Rook, this is Sky’s Edge. He is a traveler from Wavecrest looking for some experience in trading – I figured you would be the one to ask.”

Rook bowed, and I mimicked the gesture, ”It is a pleasure to meet you. Saki is correct – much trading happens here, so it is a fine place to learn, if you know how to look.”

“Ah, “Saki?””

“High Realm for “Blossom,””
she supplied, ”Rook, do you think you might have any work for Sky’s Edge? Perhaps as a favor to me?”

Rook studied me, ”Hmmm. If you can bring me a necklace of claw strider teeth, I will give you fifty dinars. Yes?”
>>
No. 664576 ID: 8d9368

>>664563
Activate Universe Emperor Shintai in order to better haggle.
>>
No. 664590 ID: ab7529

Google translates the Japanese as

"Saki-", "Please be calm yourself", "I" and "Please sorry , I'm sorry" respectively.

>If you can bring me a necklace of claw strider teeth
Quick mental calculations here. Are claw striders native to this area? Any idea if their teeth are regularly collected or if they're an oddity? Basically, evaluate how difficult that might be to obtain. Is it something we're likely to find trawling the market, is it something we'd need to resort to the undermarket for, or something we would have to gather pieces for or commission?

Judge likely time invested versus the return he's offering you, and only answer yes if you think it's worth your time.
>>
No. 664594 ID: 7a6915

This seems like a silly way to make money at first glance, considering the amounts of dinars we were talking about yesterday. Perhaps we're being asked to figure out the net profit, divide by time, and judge if this is more or less lucrative than shoveling shit for an inn or stable? Do the mental math Edge, you slacked off on those probability tables earlier, this is just arithmetic. Then consider haggling: I suspect you may want to counter-bid as much as ten times his offer, or even more.
>>
No. 664599 ID: 0ee153

>>664590
A claw strider is a two-legged reptile that usually hunts in packs and can take down much larger prey.Quite intelligent, tamed by some barbarian tribes as mounts. Found mainly in savannas and open plains.

So, given our seaside surroundings... is he asking us to get some specific guy's personal trophy, expecting us to analyze the effort/reward, testing our knowledge, expecting us to haggle? Check out his demeanor.

Anyway, they're apparently found and bred in relatively large numbers, so their teeth may not be that valuable.
>>
No. 664638 ID: 5a02f7
File 144034259604.png - (62.55KB , 750x750 , 207.png )
664638

>>664599

Claw striders are relatively common outside the city, and they’re bred by some nomadic Delzahn as mounts. I don’t know whether their teeth are valuable, but I doubt it. Whether they’re something often collected, well, that I don’t know. I would figure that they would be used somehow, considering most peoples use as much of the animal as they can.

>>664594

As to whether it’s a prudent investment, I haven’t the slightest, given I have no idea what the teeth would be worth in the first place.

>>664576

I let slip a few motes through my excellency to grease my voice with the power of the Ebon Dragon, ”Five hundred dinars.”

Rook laughed, bringing a sleeve up to cover his mouth. He tilted his head, studying me through his slit eyes, ”You are greedy – that is good. You know to haggle, which is even better. However, you don’t know the worth of the item – that much is obvious, since you are a foreigner who has not been in town long – so you bid high. Yes, you might make a trader yet. I will give you one hundred and fifty dinars if you can bring me a necklace of claw strider teeth. That should be worth your valuable time, yes?”

“Deal,”
typically, one would shake on such a thing, but Rook made no move to produce his hands from his sleeves.

I could always look for the item myself, but I suspected that might be a long and fruitless search. Better still would be to ask someone – Amaranth could probably point me in the right direction, if I wanted to bother with her again. Sienna, being a jeweler herself, would likely know where to find one. Alternatively, Myria seemed to know the Undermarket well enough that she might be able to help.

Whatever I chose, I would need to leave soon if I wished to be on time for my meeting with Abel. Were there any last words I wanted to say to Graceful Blossom?
>>
No. 664660 ID: ab7529

>Better still would be to ask someone
Amaranth seems like more trouble than a simple procurement would be worth. Especially if it would cost us information she's interested in to get it.

Sienna would be pretty straightforward- she'd almost certainly point us in the right direction if we paid her. Going to Myria gives us a reason to talk to her again, though we don't know know her well enough to guess a price.

>I [will] need to leave soon if I wished to be on time for my meeting with Abel
Yes, do that. Keeping a crime boss waiting is probably a bad idea.

>Were there any last words I wanted to say to Graceful Blossom?
Polite goodbyes, I suppose. Thank for an interesting morning. (Being accosted by owls wasn't what you expected).
>>
No. 664663 ID: 7a6915

For Graceful Blossom? "This is an unusual and slightly confusing opportunity you have arranged for me, and as everything else about you it fills me with curiosity and interest. Thank you. I shall try to catch up to you this evening, or failing that for breakfast again."

Regarding who to ask about the necklace, this could give us an opportunity to find out how Sienna knows Feng. As a bonus it would be funny to flirt with her some more even if we don't get anywhere with that. I would not expect a scribe to know about nomad jewelery, but she might surprise us. Amaranth could plausibly know something but I'm not sure we want to risk talking to him without a plan and a sincere need unless you want to marry him Edge. If you're interested in questing up his skirt for his femininity Ebon Dragon help us though.
Side note, did Graceful Blossom just introduce us to a high realm shaman? The mystery girl just introduced us to yet another mystery.
>>
No. 664711 ID: 5a02f7
File 144038122482.png - (131.73KB , 750x750 , 208.png )
664711

>>664660
>>664663

"Being accosted by owls was not what I expected, but this is an unusual and slightly confusing opportunity you have arranged for me. As everything else about you it fills me with curiosity and interest. Thank you. I shall try to catch up to you this evening, or failing that for breakfast again."

“It’s such a meticulously-made mask,”
Rook chimed in, ”If you’d like it, I’d be happy to sell it to you cheap!”

Graceful Blossom giggled, ”Let him complete the task you’ve given him before you go try to get him to buy your junk, Rook.”

His smile faltered a brief second, ”It’s not junk…”

She turned to me, smiling, ”It has been absolutely wonderful, as always, Sky’s Edge. Will you walk with me to the exit?”

“Of course.”


Rook waved a long sleeve at us in farewell, ”Stop back at anytime after you find it – I assure you, we’ll be open!”

-------------------------

Graceful Blossom and I parted ways at the exit to the Undermarket, and I took some time wandering before I ducked into an out-of-the-way alcove to change my appearance.

The sun was just as merciless as it had been yesterday at this time, if not more so. I found Abel where he had been the day before, under the blessed shade of the courtyard. Feng sat across from him in one of the nooks and raised a hand to me in greeting. After making a bow, I slid in beside the smaller man.

”Feng has told me you have saved me the trouble of making a poor display of having my men trounced by a child of Danaa’d – for that, I thank you,” Abel offered me a purse from the bench beside him, ”However, unfortunately, all I have is the scoundrel’s word that he will not return. I think him prudent enough to see the error of his ways, especially with such a,” and here he smiled, ”cunning predator after him, but you must understand if I do not provide you the full payment that was promised. Here are seven hundred fifty dinars. I will be glad to provide the additional two hundred fifty if he does not appear again within three nights. I trust this will be amenable?”
>>
No. 664718 ID: ab7529

That's the 1000 for completing the task. I guess "being a dragon-blooded" doesn't count as revealing his cheating method for the extra 500?

...I'd be tempted to push the issue, but if we make a point of the fact he was cheating with magic essence powers, we're left trying to explain how we matched him at the table. Not really where I want the conversation going.

Accept. It's not as if you plan not to be here in there days, and you will be surprised if he were to return within the span of those days.
>>
No. 664755 ID: 7a6915

No. No, no, no. Absolutely not. We are not going to break a deal so that Abel can pay us less. I'd sooner accept zero dinars than this seven-fifty figure he's pulling out of his ass. If he won't back down on being horribly cheap we have just found our first designated antagonist to use the new ability on. If it goes that far we can bite the bullet, trade Amaranth the information in the story thus far and get backup. So unless he's prepared to murder you here and now Abel's got more to fear from us than the other way around--we can take anything and everything from him.
However, Abel doesn't know us from a hole in the ground, so if he's some lying criminal cheat why wouldn't he try to cheat us? It comes down to whether or not you can sell the threat. Suggested soft-intimidation lines follow, improve or use as you see fit Mirth:

"I caught his icy, cheating hand and bluffed him into handing over a bag of money and an apology. I earned the full quarter talent in the deal you offered me, Abel. Your witness heard it.
"Help me understand this, are you having cash-flow problems? You probably weren't expecting me to both catch him cheating and win a final round of bluffing without dice to earn the out-playing bonus too. I respect vindictively offering a mercenary more than you have on hand to punish a crook for cheating you. There's no shame in that as long as you do pay with an appropriate surcharge for lateness added. If that's the case we can talk about other jobs which earn money so you can get back in the black quicker and pay for services rendered. This may involve certain assurances we will both keep our word.
"If instead the problem is that the guy is still alive and active when you really wanted him dead and made an example of, well, let it not be said I'm too squeamish to earn my pay! For no additional charge I'll bring a bow and we can hunt the slippery water terrie down like a dog. I'll look up what bounties there are on him and either claim those or leave him chained up for the undead to finish off. That is the appropriate end for some cheating hustler biting off more than they can chew."
>>
No. 664831 ID: fbc59e

Hrrrm...Could we fight him? I'm...thinking maybe. See, even if we ignore the threat of Feng, there's the fact that failure means anyone else with a red scarf can be a potential threat, which might wear on us...I think we should take it, but definitely follow up should Justice continue to stay away, since I think it's a bit questionable that we could be Justice in a fight...I think...
>>
No. 664838 ID: 88960e

>>664831
Do you mean "can we fight Abel"? Sure. I really don't see the point, though.

A crime Lord we can use for information and money and connections is useful. A dead one isn't. That, and Feng conisiders the gang family, and has at least an intimacy towards staying with them. Fighting and/or killing Abel, who he likely sees as a father figure, means we lose him as a bride candidate. That's hurting a line on our actual objective for a little cash, or over an insult (and as we said before, pride has no place here).

>>664755
I'm reading a lot of anger here. Chill.

The first quote is decent, if we want to try negotiation for the full amount. (Although I really don't think it's worth the risk of raising the awkward question of "really, and what did you use to fight his cheating ice magic to a draw?").

Everything else is way too aggressive, if not insulting. Respect and face matter to this guy, I think. Burning bridges isn't worth what's on the line, here. I'd want a social framework to opperate in more than I want the money.

>>664718
So it doesn't mess up vote counting on a tight argument, this is also me.
>>
No. 664859 ID: 7a6915

>>664755 >>664838
Clarification: I didn't say fight him. I especially don't advise doing so here and now. But if we let him cheat us out of money we don't even need that badly that's embarrassing. My proposal is that Abel pays in full or we curse him out as a cheapskate and walk--with an eye to getting it later or making him regret it.
Also, respect and face matter to this guy: If we let him push us around and underpay us that confirms to him we are small fry, easily intimidated or manipulated.
If you want me to write a second set of those lines without attempted intimidation though, I can do that.

"I do not break an agreed deal, and I won't break my word of bond just so you can pay less than half of what you owe, Abel. I would sooner walk out of here with no money and pass the debt on to the collections people of my organization, but I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. If the problem is that you expected him dead for that amount of money, I'll accept it as fair even though it wasn't explicitly specified. In that case I'll go get a bow, you lend me Feng--and one or two other people in your organization who can stand up against a water aspect without harm if you want it done quicker and cleaner--and then you pay me the quarter-talent owed when I hand you a suitable trophy from the remains of 'Embattled Justice.' If the problem is that he stole so much from you that you don't have the money, then we negotiate a payment plan and possibly also additional work to help you gain sufficient funds to pay. If it's something else, please talk to me about that."
>>
No. 664915 ID: 5a02f7
File 144046481972.png - (42.81KB , 750x750 , 209.png )
664915

>>664755

My first reaction is indignity – I caught his icy cheating hand fair and square.

>>664838

But I feel Feng stiffen next to me – he’s way too attentive for his own good. Making an enemy of Abel here would complicate things between us all, and that’s not a position I wanted to put either of us in. It would raise too many questions of how I had bested Justice, and I didn’t know what or how much Feng had told his boss. The loss of face was worth the relationship, and, if nothing else, this had shown me just how easy it was to obtain money if I really wanted it.

”That is acceptable,” I say, but I didn’t bother to keep all the disappointment out of my voice. Abel handed over the purse, and heft of it assures me of its amount.

He nodded, ”You’ve proven yourself more than capable, and I’ll be happy to allow you to claim membership with my people so long as you do nothing to damage our reputation. Wear that scarf proudly, for it comes with many friends.”

I smiled, ”Thank you, Mister Akhar. Perhaps you have some other business which I can assist you?”

”Fortunately, things are quiet for now. It is possible that I might have need of your talents when you return in three days, but, until then, I doubt I will have anything for you.”

I nodded, thinking. Now that this errand was out of the way, it was a good time to track down Sienna. The heat of the day was still upon us, but it was possible that she would be in the same bar as last time. Alternatively, I could spend more time with Feng – since Abel didn’t have work for me, I doubted he would be too busy, either. Of course, I could always do both, if I was curious exactly as to how the two knew each other.
>>
No. 664929 ID: 57dfcc

>Of course, I could always do both, if I was curious exactly as to how the two knew each other.
Playing one off against the other and seeing how they interact could be informative.

I'd go for that. Hang with Feng, sooth the ruffled ear-feathers raised over that tension, check in with the local scam-shopgirl.
>>
No. 664962 ID: 7a6915

Well Mirth, it doesn't look like there's anything good coming to us from Abel now--he didn't offer us a position as a dealer or suggest roughing up his gang competition for bounty. Heck, why didn't Abel even suggest bringing 'Embattled Justice' in to capture for the dynasts or recruit him for muscle? Occam's razor suggests that he's not using us to earn money one way because he seeks to earn money from us in another: I think he's guessed we're anathema or a runaway terrestrial. The dynasts pay pretty well for help catching those, don't they?
Measures for safety here are all severely annoying. In order of likely utility: 1) Unless you want to take vengeance on him for cheating us it's time to cut our association with Abel and plan to skip out on that meeting in three days. Unfortunately this also means cutting association with Abel's personnel, including Feng. 2) Stop being Mirth, or associating with anyone Mirth was known to have contact with (I.E. Sienna and Embattled Justice). 3) Stash, ditch or dye the scarf, the locals will note us wearing a gang sign and we don't know how seriously Abel or the Dynasts will take observing us. 4) Double check the cash we got, it could be counterfeit, magically marked, or unusual coinage for the area. 5) Prepare to get laughed at and consult Amaranth. We don't really want to protect Embattled Justice from him and it's not like we can afford to protect Feng from him either. The only safe assumption is that Abel plans to sell us out for big money, and do it in three days or less because we're a traveling exalt.

I'd like to take Feng with us to go shopping for the teeth, I think it would be funny to see him interacting with us and Sienna and flirt with either or both of them. It would also guarantee that Abel finds out about the teeth and that someone could use the necklace as a way to connect Mirth to Edge with the right magic. You judge that risk for yourself, Mirth.
>>
No. 664990 ID: 88960e

>Heck, why didn't Abel even suggest bringing 'Embattled Justice' in to capture for the dynasts or recruit him for muscle?
Possibly because Justice's peace offering of returning the night's winnings was accepted (so Abel no longer feels the need to retaliate). Possibly because he doesn't want to help the dynasts by giving him him up. And as for not wanting to recruit him, that's probably a matter of trust he doesn't have for him.

Or if Abel assumes we're exalted, as you suspect, he could be pragmatically opting to only mess with one dangerous unknown at a time.

>Stash, ditch or dye the scarf
Never gonna happen. The scarf that's the same in every identity is Edge's bond villain obssesion flaw. He's already alluded to a special personal significance and not hidden it in circumstances he really should have.

>The only safe assumption is that Abel plans to sell us out for big money
Frankly, the assumptions "he doesn't know yet" or "he thinks he can use or control us to his own ends" seem as if not more likely to me.

Burning the identity or bugging out seems premature. Things are just getting intersing.

Getting more info on Abel (from Amaranth or otherwise) might be prudent to narrow things down, though. In particular: Feng sees the gang as family, and I'd be interested how much Abel actually treats his own people that way. How significant is letting us wear his colors, and has he a history of selling out or crossing people he's let in, or in the group, before? (Or of the opposite)?
>>
No. 665001 ID: 7a6915

>>664990
I was weighting my judgment of risk versus opportunity on the facts that all our fake identities are trivially disposable, and over the long term we eventually will dispose all of them anyway. So why accept risk we don't have to when we can shed it and try again infinitely? Abandoning one face to start using another is an easy answer to avoid problems.

Your answer is more fun, and I'll accept that as the deciding factor. You're right that I am reacting to unconfirmed suspicions of what an ambitious thug with cash-flow problems may do for large amounts of money and political favours. We do not know what Abel's past behaviour is like, just that he has no durable reason to hold off on exploiting us because we're a traveling opportunity that may leave unannounced. We don't know what his level of knowledge and suspicion regarding the exalted is either, or who his friends and enemies are besides the one rival gang. We don't know if he hates and fears the Dynasts, and that would be directly relevant since he's got a terrestrial on staff they might steal. Without Dynasts or someone else politically or magically big backing him we may not want help against Abel's worst.
>>
No. 665009 ID: 5a02f7
File 144052474180.png - (56.88KB , 750x750 , 210.png )
665009

>>664929

”Well, if you have no further need of me, then I’ll take my leave,” I inclined my head respectfully to Abel, and then turned to Feng, ”Would you like to come with me, Feng?”

The young man looked from me to Abel, clearly asking permission. The boss gave a small wave of his hand, and Feng nodded, ”Yeah, I’d like that – I mean, I will.”

I smiled; this was almost too easy.

-------------------------

>>664990

”So, I’m curious – now that I’m “in,” what exactly does that mean?”

“Huh?”
Feng looked at me in askance, ”Oh, with the group. It means you can wear the colors officially, like instead of just because you want to. If people mess with you, then you can let them know that they’re colors now, instead of just fashion. If you’re in a tight spot, and we might be able to help, you can ask for assistance – the boss is usually pretty generous with that kind of stuff, as long as you aren’t stupid about it. If it’s your own damn fault that you’ve brought too much trouble down on yourself, well, there’s not a whole lot he’d be able to do, anyway.”

I nodded, ”So, a little like a family, then?”

“Yeah, like that,”
he answered, smiling, ”So, uh, where are we going?”

“I have an errand I need to run, and I need to figure out first where I need go to get what I need, so, for that, I need information.”

“Oh. That sounds… vague?”


I chuckled, ”It’s for a souvenir; nothing exciting, I assure you.”

“Oh, okay.”


The rest of the way to the bar where I had found Sienna passed with light chatter. When we arrived, the same strange feline lizard laid next to the door as when I had visited previously. Feng leaned down in an attempt to pet the creature, but it hissed with enough menace to make him withdraw his hand. I almost laughed at his youthful curiosity.

Sienna sat at the same table as she had previously. As soon as I entered, her gaze locked on to me and her expression fell. I ordered two waters from the bar and pulled up a chair to her table.

”You, again?” she asked, ignoring Feng for the moment, ”What do you want?”
>>
No. 665021 ID: 0ee153

"The pleasure of your company and a necklace of claw strider teeth."
>>
No. 665024 ID: 7a6915

"I'm not supposed to check up on a beautiful lady I'm interested in seeing? I have been asked to send a necklace of claw strider teeth by someone back home, but truthfully I came to visit, say hello, ask how you are, offer drinks or meals, and generally bask in your sultry beauty.
"But please forgive my rudeness for being so informal. Sienna, this is Feng. Feng, this is Sienna. Have you met before, and is it time for food or drinks?"
>>
No. 665035 ID: 57dfcc

>>665001
>all our fake identities are trivially disposable, and over the long term we eventually will dispose all of them anyway. So why accept risk we don't have to when we can shed it and try again infinitely?
Well, one reason to maybe stick with an identity is progress with bride candidate(s). We can carry personal resources and information over between identities, but not social connections. We have to start that over with every face.

The other consideration might be intimacies. I'm not sure if there's a penalty if we try to drop something we've developed an intimacy towards cold.

>>665009
So we have low level muscle and backup so long as we use it smart. Hmm. We probably outclass anyone they can field, but there might be a scenario were we could exploit being able to put bodies out there.

>Feng leaned down in an attempt to pet the creature, but it hissed with enough menace to make him withdraw his hand.
If that's how it reacts to him, that's a pretty good sign they haven't met before. Either the pet would already be used to him, or he would have already learned better.

>her gaze locked on to me and her expression fell
Is my company so distasteful? Why, a lady's feelings might be hurt.

>What do you want?
You were ever so helpful proving me with jewelery and information yesterday. (Idly play one of the ones she cheated us into yesterday through your fingers, bonus points if you thought to wear one in advance of meeting her). I thought I'd see if I could make another purchase. (Teasing / taunting, then segueing into business. Exploit the money-getting intimacy we're pretty sure is there).
>>
No. 665465 ID: 5a02f7
File 144081526913.png - (92.42KB , 750x750 , 211.png )
665465

>>665035

”Is my company so distasteful? Why, a lady’s feelings might be hurt.”

“Well, maybe a lady should make her company more tasteful.”


Ouch.

>>665021

”I simply desire the pleasure of your company – and a necklace of claw strider teeth.”

>>665024

“But please forgive my rudeness for being so informal. Sienna, this is Feng. Feng, this is Sienna. Have you met before?”


Sienna looked Feng up and down as he sunk into a chair, ”You’re that kid that always hangs around Abel.”

He frowned at “kid” but only said, ”Yeah.”

“Huh,”
she took another sip from whatever it was she was drinking – it didn’t look like water, ”You want a necklace of claw strider teeth? What for?”

“A souvenir for a family member.”

“And it’s important enough that you get it that you came to ask me.”


I shrugged, ”I know what I like – no reason to not go to any means to get it.”

“Uh-huh,”
she didn’t sound thoroughly convinced, but she let it drop, ”I think I could point you in the right direction, but what’s in it for me?”
>>
No. 665472 ID: 57dfcc

>what’s in it for me?
Why, I had this strange idea we could participate in an exchange of currency for goods and/or information.
>>
No. 665500 ID: 7a6915

"I was considering taking you out on a date, but if my company is really so odious to you I guess you wouldn't want that for free either. Are you more interested in a fee or a return service?"
>>
No. 665835 ID: 5a02f7
File 144097620747.png - (55.93KB , 750x750 , 212.png )
665835

>>665500
>>665472

”I was considering taking you on a date, but if my company is really so odious to you, I guess you wouldn’t want that for free either. How about an exchange of currency for goods or information?”

Sienna laughed, slamming her drink down on the table. Then, she peered at my face, and hers contorted into something between bafflement and disgust, ”By the gods, you’re serious.

“Okay, fine. Let’s exchange information. I’ll tell you where you can find the necklace, but you’ve gotta answer me this first – just who are you?”

>>
No. 665836 ID: 91cfcf

An overly flirtatious problem-solver for hire. If you want a name, the one you already have means as much as any of the others. If you want a hometown, I'm from the West.
>>
No. 665869 ID: 57dfcc

>>665835
I'm not sure to have read that as being offended at our half-joking flirting with her, or that we're just strait up offering to buy it from her.

>just who are you?
*Grinning* I rather think my life story would cost more than a necklace. At least, I hope it would.

>>665836
This seems to work. If we need more details, we can add that we came from someplace small, and weren't satisfied with it.
>>
No. 665870 ID: 7a6915

"I have too many names, but Mirth is one of the ones that's more important. I'm a bounty hunter, mercenary and occasionally a trader. I have also done other things, those are mostly either less important or hard to talk about unless you already know. I'm investigating some bigger purchases than jewelry as well. The answers I gave yesterday are accurate enough for casual purposes unless you're going to drag me off somewhere private to check if we know any of the same secret handshakes.
"Try asking more specific questions for more specific answers if you want. Also, please describe yourself in as much or as little detail as you'd like me to know."
>>
No. 666021 ID: 5a02f7
File 144105099665.png - (74.29KB , 750x750 , 213.png )
666021

>>665870
>>665836

”I have too many names, but Mirth is one of the ones that’s more important. I’m a bounty hunter, mercenary, occasionally trader, and a problem-solver for hire. I have done other things, but those are either less important or hard to talk about unless you already know. The answers I gave yesterday are accurate enough for casual purposes unless you’re going to drag me off somewhere private to check if we know any of the same secret handshakes.”

Sienna brought her hands down onto the table, ”Bullshit. I’m calling bullshit on all of it,” her voice became heavy with suggestion, Tell me the tru-

She held my gaze and her silence for a long, tense moment before sinking back into her chair, ”No, you know what – fine. I’ll take you up on your offer of a date, and we can see about secret handshakes. I’ll tell you where to find your stupid necklace if you’ll promise to meet me at Resplendent Water, where we first met,” she turned her sharp gaze on Feng, who managed not to quail too visibly under the assault, ”Your friends are not invited.”
>>
No. 666037 ID: 57dfcc

>>666021
She's certainly more agitated an angry than I would have expected. And she's clearly more interested in the truth about us than any small amount of money she could make selling us information.

Making guesses now, being in control of a situation is far more important to her than our initial read assumed. We've got her at a disadvantage here (she doesn't know who or what we are, and her power isn't reliable against us) and I think that is angering her more than the flirting or anything else.

>I’ll tell you where to find your stupid necklace if you’ll promise to meet me at Resplendent Water, where we first met
I think we should accept, though I'm not sure what story we should be prepared to sell her.

>Your friends are not invited.
And after you introduced us? Why, their little red hearts will be broken.

>her voice heavy with suggestion
I wonder if we could convincing fake failing to resist a suggestion at some later point. Showing weakness / fallibility might make us appear less interesting or less of a threat / challenge, and it might allow us an opportunity to deliver lies she'll accept as truths.

After to Feng: "Well. That did not go as I expected."
>>
No. 666040 ID: 7a6915

Completely different plan to >>666037
Sienna just stopped herself from doing her suggestion trick on us in a crowded place where it would get all of us in trouble. I'd rate the odds of her wanting to get us somewhere more private to interrogate us doing the exact same thing as near-certain. We have to deal with that problem or run away from it.
If we want to deal with it one way that could work is offer to tell her what she wants to know, for real, if she doesn't mind agreeing to protect the secrecy of everything she learns. A real secrecy agreement, one that we can't do anywhere but in the most private of places. We may even want to let Amaranth know in advance about that kind of thing since it may have... repercussions.
Also, we should apologize to Feng and promise him a good date; ask him about where and how to make good on that or talk more about it. If he's confused or upset we can whisper in his ear that Sienna's special, at least a little like he is. Don't elaborate until we've convinced him not to tell Abel absolutely everything.

Oh, and words to answer Sienna with: "When, how should I come, what should I bring, and what should I be prepared for?"
>>
No. 666084 ID: 5a02f7
File 144106891865.png - (80.73KB , 750x750 , 214.png )
666084

>>666040

”How should I come, what should I bring, and what should I be prepared for?”

“Come however you want, but no one else. As for what you should be prepared for – be prepared for anything.”


Sienna downed the rest of her drink and left the cup on the table as she stood up, ”You’ll find your necklace at a stall in the New City, along the western wall. Lady who runs it’s named Ruby – she has crazy hair; you won’t miss her,” with that, she left.

>>666037

”Well, that was not what I expected.”

“No kidding…”
Feng cautiously sipped from his water, ”She’s very, uh, what’s the word…”

“Intense?”

“Not what I was gonna say, but, yeah. Intense.”


I smirked; this was certainly an exciting prospect, albeit a possibly dangerous one. If necessary, I could bind her to secrecy under the ancient laws of Cecelyne by calling upon my anima power – but doing so would make my caste mark flare briefly. Still, it would guarantee that if she told anyone, I would know instantly, and terrible misfortune would be upon her for breaking her oath.

”So, um, what now?” Feng’s question stirred me from my thoughts. It was near the end of midday – stores would be opening again. Resplendent Water wouldn’t be for many hours yet, after nightfall, so I had much time before my next meeting with Sienna.
>>
No. 666139 ID: 7a6915

If you want to tease Feng, and start leading him into your web, this is a golden opportunity. Suggested lines:

"Hmmm, I'm trying to think of something but I don't know that much about Chiaroscuro. Do you have anything in mind you want to do with me? If nothing else comes to mind I'm curious about you.
"I don't know enough yet to ask any truly interesting questions though, so I guess I'd start with simple things. Stuff like what it was like where you came from, who's your family, romantic status, who you know and trust around here well enough to call a good friend, what you're good at, what are your interests, plans and hobbies, would two wives be enough or would you like a husband too, you know... the standard, getting to know you questions.
"If you'd rather have that kind of conversation somewhere else, perhaps more private, lead on."
>>
No. 666171 ID: 57dfcc

>If necessary, I could bind her to secrecy under the ancient laws of Cecelyne by calling upon my anima power – but doing so would make my caste mark flare briefly
I would not at all be surprised if Feng tries to eavesdrop on that meeting. Either on his own curiosity, or if Abel pushes him too. The oath will only secure her silence, not anyone else who overhears. Be careful of the circumstances and environment in which you speak openly.
>>
No. 666324 ID: 7a6915

>>666171
Fair point, we should do something about that. Feng's curiosity we could redirect into a seduction if we catch it in time (like right now), but Abel's professional interest in his business partners is a bigger worry: The real issue is him deciding our conversation with Sienna was strange enough to merit particular observation during our date.
I'd like to stop Abel from making that decision until it's too late, but that's hard because Abel probably has scheduled check-ins for his personnel and establishments. Do we get Feng drunk? Play it off by talking about pick up techniques like working the mysterious stranger angle? Spend the afternoon ass-up underneath him so he's too busy or tired to talk about it because of fucking? If we can stop that report it leaves Abel's people with no additional information to suspect our date is more than just a date.
Amaranth may have a solution, and we should talk to him before the date if we can even if he doesn't, but I don't really want to. Involving him sucks because he'll be annoying or take advantage of the opportunity to slide his slimy snatch into our schemes. We're coming up on the point where he could be legitimately annoyed we didn't tell him sooner though; we don't know if we'll need him when he's busy or what we may upset with this plan to snare Sienna into our orbit.
>>
No. 666329 ID: 57dfcc

>>666324
The simplest solution is to simply arrange things such that enhanced hearing isn't sufficient to eavesdrop, even if he tries. Noise barrier, privacy charm, a location where there's nowhere for an eavesdropper to conceal themselves, a location we can't be easily or quickly followed to?).

More than anything, I just want Edge forewarned against the obvious danger so he doesn't blurt out something sensitive without taking precautions.
>>
No. 666341 ID: 5a02f7
File 144114792726.png - (92.24KB , 750x750 , 215.png )
666341

>>666139

"Hmmm, I'm trying to think of something but I don't know that much about Chiaroscuro. Do you have anything in mind you want to do with me?”

”Well, it’s probably Descending Fire by now, so all the shops are open again – we could go get your necklace, if you wanted… I can’t really think of anything else,” Feng replied as he turned his cup within his hands.

"Since nothing else comes to mind I'm curious about you. I don't know enough yet to ask any truly interesting questions though, so I guess I'd start with simple things. Stuff like what it was like where you came from, who's your family, romantic status, who you know and trust around here well enough to call a good friend, what you're good at, what are your interests, plans and hobbies, would two wives be enough or would you like a husband too – you know... the standard, getting-to-know-you questions. Of course, if you'd rather have that kind of conversation somewhere else, perhaps more private, lead on."

“Wh-what was that about wives?”
he asked, wide-eyed.

I simply smiled.

Feng ducked his head, suddenly very intent on the contents of his mug, ”Well, I was born in Harborhead – at least, that’s where I grew up. I told you about my father – he said my mother died in childbirth, so I never really knew much about her. My father died a few years back, and I ended up in Chiaroscuro. Mister Akhar was kind enough to take me in, and I’ve been with him ever since. Let’s see, um – I guess I’m good at running. I don’t get winded very easily, and the weather doesn’t bother me here since I’ve lived in hot places my entire life. The boss uses me when he needs to get news somewhere quickly, since I’m the fastest runner out of the group. I like working with my hands – like, crafts and stuff. I’m not very good at it, but,” he shrugged, ”About marriage, well, since I’m only nineteen Calibrations old, I think I have a few more years before I really need to think about that.”

“You’re nineteen?”

“Yeah, why?”


I smiled, ”You look older.”

Even though it was a lie, the compliment got a smile out of him, ”So, what about you? I mean, you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to; I’m just curious, is all.”
>>
No. 666399 ID: 7a6915

Well, let's answer him I guess. Correct and adjust this as needed, Mirth:
"Both lots and surprisingly little to tell really. I'd have to double check back home how old I am, but I'm twenty five at most. Mercenary, spent some time at sea because I'm originally from the far West. No close family left but there's varyingly distant cousins everywhere. After a few too many close skirmishes I decided it's time to quit the company and find a safer job. Still want to travel the world because there's more to see, learn and do on the road. I'm not looking for the domestic motherhood and kids thing so I'm trying to become a mercenary captain or trader. I'd like the second better but it depends on investors, favours and opportunities so we'll have to see."

I would be amused if you managed to pick him up with the line, "Wanna go digging in my dirt for treasure?" You need to decide on your plan for how to handle Feng, Abel and Amaranth in advance of your date this evening though, and execute accordingly.
>>
No. 667126 ID: 5a02f7
File 144134259556.png - (155.03KB , 750x750 , 216.png )
667126

>>666399

"Both lots and surprisingly little to tell really. I'd have to double-check back home how old I am, but I'm twenty five at most. Mercenary, spent some time at sea because I'm originally from the far West. No close family left, but there's varyingly-distant cousins everywhere. After a few too many close skirmishes, I decided it's time to quit the company and find a safer job. Still want to travel the world because there's more to see, learn, and do on the road. I'm not looking for the domestic motherhood-and-kids thing, so I'm trying to become a mercenary captain or trader. I'd like the second better, but it depends on investors, favors, and opportunities, so we'll have to see."

“Wow…,”
Feng said, amazed, ”You must have been lots of places.”

I shrugged, ”We mostly sailed the waters between Wavecrest and An-teng, so when I felt it was time for a change of scenery, I went eastward. I’ve stopped in a few places along the way and ended up here for a while.”

“How long do you think you’ll stay?”

“For as long as I find interesting things and people to keep me busy. I doubt some big job will just fall into my lap, so I’m freelancing where I can. That’s why I got Sienna to introduce me to Abel.”


He nodded, ”How long have you been in the city?”

“Oh, just a few days.”

“… Did you ever fight Lintha pirates?”


I smirked, raising a brow, ”A time or two, yes. Why?”

“Is it true they really eat people?”


-------------------------

”I find this offensive.”

“Well, you’re offensive, Lintha. Plus, you really do eat people.”

“Don’t mean people have to spread it around.”


I sighed, “May I continue?”

Lintha waved a hand, ”Yeah, yeah – sure.”

-------------------------

”They do – that’s why they have teeth like a shark.”

Feng shuddered at the image, ”You must be a really good fighter to be able to go up against that.”

I chuckled, ”I’m an archer, so I was away from the action whenever I could help it. But, like I said, one too many close-calls made me reconsider my choice of employment.”

“Well, if I hear about anything, I’ll let you know, although you’ll probably hear about it from Mister Akhar rather than me.”


I nodded. The conversation came to a natural lull, and it seemed a good time to move on. I could go shopping for the necklace, or I could take Feng somewhere else. Alternatively, I could send him back to Abel and go somewhere alone.
>>
No. 667150 ID: 7a6915

Considered further, have a plan recommendation finally.
We have conflicting goals and demands on our time here. The conflicting goals are 1) date, corrupt and bind Feng into our service, and 2) date and bind Sienna into our service--corrupting as useful, desired or necessary.
It seems premature to push Feng on the dating/seduction front, and we don't really have the time either. Pursuing our other goal using the plans we've started building requires a fair bit of setup still, the top of the list being getting a good place for our Infernal binding. High up on the list after is stop, delay or mislead Feng and Abel's gang if (when) they try to tail us for that. Also, we should inform Amaranth in advance as both a sanity-check on us attempting the plan at all and backup security or other resources to make it go well. Ideally we also get a plan to shake off or deal with any other spies or unknown interest in our activities for this evening.
So it's not time yet to hit on Feng, but we should plant some seeds of interest in future meetings. One I came up with may also work to make him and Abel less suspicious about our date: Offer to teach Feng how to hit on women so that they're interested in doing secret handshakes--and include a lewdly-representational gesture of a sex act at that point to give the idea that 'secret handshake' is a personal euphemism for sex. Inquire about when would be a good time to do stuff with him, and then when we leave, do so flirtatiously of course.
Then we need to try hard to lose our possible tail(s) and talk to Amaranth or work on some other method of securing our secret meeting place for this evening. I'm really at a loss for how to find something appropriate that doesn't involve asking one of the locals, and Amaranth is the only person we know who completely understands the secrecy issues involved.
>>
No. 667273 ID: 5a02f7
File 144140890379.png - (75.83KB , 750x750 , 217.png )
667273

”Well, unfortunately, I have other matters which require my attention,” I rose from my seat.

Feng did the same, ”Oh, okay. I guess I’ll see you later, then?”

“Where and when would be a good time to find you?”


He scuffed the floor with his bare toes, ”If I’m not busy doing things for Mister Akhar, I’ll be where you met him during the midday hours. Other than that – well, it depends on what I’m doing.”

I smiled, ”Well, I’ll look forward to our next meeting. Maybe I can teach you how to hit on women so they’re interested in doing secret handshakes,” I made a lewd gesture while raising my brows.

That got a blush from him, ”U-um, yeah. Maybe later.”

I laughed, leaning in and kissing him on the cheek, ”Stay out of trouble until then.”

I didn’t have to look back to feel his eyes follow me out.

-------------------------

I went through another face before I felt safe enough to wear my first one. The streets were beginning to become more crowded as the heat of the day passed, and I wove between carts and people on my way to the Undermarket.

The cavern was blessedly cool, and even more welcome was the respite from the sun’s searing rays. It didn’t take me long to relocate Amaranth’s shop, and I entered without ceremony.

”Oh, Edge – welcome back,” she smiled from where she lounged on a crimson chase, ”Here to talk business, I presume?”

“Indeed,”
I sat among the pile of pillows, tucking my feet underneath me, ”I actually came to seek your advice.”

“Oh?”
she arced one neatly-manicured brow, ”I would have thought you skilled enough in the matters of love to be able to find a Bride without advice from me.”

I shook my head, ”It’s not about that – I think I’ve found an essence-user.”

Her eyes sparkled at that, and she leaned in intently, ”Do tell me more.”

“Not for free, I won’t. The situation I seek counsel on is this – we’ve agreed to meet tonight, but I worry about finding a place secret enough for such discussions and losing whatever possible tails may be intent on eavesdropping.”


Amaranth took a long draw from her pipe, blowing out smoke with a thoughtful expression, ”I could offer the use of this place for a modest fee.”

“Unfortunately, this is under one of my other faces – I’d rather not have you connected to any but this one.”

“That is a difficulty.”

“Also, I want you to tell me if the idea of doing this is completely insane.”


She smirked, ”Let me get this straight – you’re meeting a likely essence-user, alone, at night, and you’re asking me if it’s a good idea?”

I shrugged, ”Basically.”

”It’s a terrible idea – but nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she drew once more from her pipe, ”Whatever they are, unless they’re an Earth-aspected Dragon-blooded, you’ll have the advantage over them in the darkness – it is your natural element. But do keep in mind that others have abilities to see just as clearly as you. You’ve learned some of Adorjan’s tricks, yes? Well, if things go terribly wrong, dash away as fast as you can, change faces, and walk away like nothing happened.”

“I wouldn’t be able to use that identity again, though.”

“It’s a risk you’ll have to take, if you go to this meeting. You’ll have to weigh how much you trust this person versus what you have to lose. That’s something only you can decide.”

“So, did you require anything else other than my advice? I’ll let you have that much for free, seeing as I’m interested in how this concludes.”

>>
No. 667285 ID: fbc59e

Weeee should maybe ask about that shop Graceful Blossom took us too, see if it's got essence wafting around there or if she's just a mortal.
>>
No. 667288 ID: 7a6915

>>667285
That is tempting, Graceful Blossom has been jumping up and down on our threat assessment scales suspiciously. There are a number of problems with that, though, briefly: Price, counter-observation, effectiveness, and unforeseen costs and problems. Depending on how well seeking help with Sienna works out for us it may be worth at least asking about it.

We haven't been telling Amaranth much because we expect him to use the information we've got for his own ends that are counterproductive to ours. Can we negotiate that, and propose inducting Sienna into the reclamation as a joint project? I'd really feel much safer against Sienna with backup that can resist her mental compulsions before they result in us slitting our own neck, but if the price and risks of that are higher than the price and risks of facing Sienna alone then never mind.
>>
No. 667426 ID: 5a02f7
File 144148232087.png - (69.71KB , 827x750 , 218.png )
667426

”I have a proposal for you.”

“Oh, Edge – you’re so forward!”


I stare at her flatly, ignoring the comment, ”I have a feeling this essence-user would be a valuable part of our effort towards the Reclamation. If we could corrupt them into our service or simply mislead and use them to our ends, it would no doubt please the Yozis.”

Amaranth’s eyes narrowed, and she drew from her pipe as she thought, ”That’s a dangerous game to play. Still, having an Akuma in this area would make things easier…

“… Fine. I’ll assist you on a few conditions – one, I want to know everything you know thus far about any essence-users and everything you learn in the future, as having unknown exalts in my territory could severely hamper my efforts here. Additionally, if we do successfully corrupt them into an Akuma, I want the Principle of Hierarchy to have equal claim on her as the Ebon Dragon – the Yozis themselves can fight out the details, but I don’t want to be edged out of things just because the Dragon’s Shadow gets possessive.

“For tonight, I’d offer to follow as well as I can, although I am by no means a gifted sneak. If you wish, instead, I can simply go with you. If a fight happens, I’ll try to see to it that we both make it out. My assistance in the future will depend on how best to apply my abilities, and the time I can dedicate to something that is not my primary goal here.”


She gestured with her pipe, ”If you’d like, I’d be willing to swear an oath to that effect, as long as you word it to my liking.”
>>
No. 667457 ID: a107fd

Get the oath, then tell about the two Terrestrials you found.
>>
No. 667458 ID: bc7248

I'd rather keep Feng out of the deal. No problem with the other guy, though.
>>
No. 667526 ID: 7a6915

>>667457 >>667458
Hold up, we don't want to turn Sienna into a brain-wiped demon-husk, or at least not yet. We don't really want any part of that deal since she'd no longer be a bride candidate really, and it would mean wiping out our full list of candidates to date if we included our justifiable suspicions about Graceful Blossom. No sale.

Amaranth has been 'giving us free advice' and such, is it time to take a page from his book? I'm tempted to trouble him with a taste of the full threat picture we've found, but I'm not sure how to pose or trade that to best advantage and a minimum of loss. In particular I'm considering sharing that we have confirmed three essence users and met two more potentials that... are possibly scarily powerful, and three of those are people we've been cultivating as potential brides because they seemed more interesting than hazardous.
We haven't considered this long enough to be sure we want to tell Amaranth much about what we've seen though.

"Amaranth, did you try to present a proposal that makes me shake my head in confusion? We don't do full Akuma investiture in places where we have cover to maintain because it's too hazardous, unless there is a particular counterbalancing factor I'm not aware of. At least the rest of what you said makes some sense, and your requirements are varyingly negotiable. I find it difficult to guess what is more important or valuable to you without knowing more about what you've been doing--and are trying to do--here in Chiaroscuro though."
>>
No. 667558 ID: 5a02f7
File 144150086297.png - (67.43KB , 750x750 , 219.png )
667558

>>667526

”Amaranth, did you try to present a proposal that makes me shake my head in confusion? We don't do full Akuma investiture in places where we have cover to maintain because it's too hazardous, unless there is a particular counterbalancing factor I'm not aware of.”

A grin spread across Amaranth’s face, ”Ohhh, you care for this person.”

“I’m working on making them an asset – they won’t be much of one if they’re just a witless puppet of the Yozis.”

“We could send them back home, and then it’d be someone else’s problem. Besides, that’s just if things turn out that way. I’m not advocating doing the Investiture as the only option. But, fine. You can keep your free-willed slave. Then it’ll be your problem.”


I frowned, shifting in my seat, ”At least the rest of what you said makes some sense, and your requirements are varyingly negotiable. I find it difficult to guess what is more important or valuable to you without knowing more about what you've been doing – and are trying to do – here in Chiaroscuro though.”

Amaranth frowned, ”True… Fine. I’ve been tasked with subverting abolitionist movements. I’ve made local contacts with the Guild and swayed some criminal elements to do my dirty work for me. Mostly, I make myself useful and demand useful things in return – money, information, favors, and so on. I haven’t had much time to go snooping about the city finding who else is using this as a base of operations, but I know there aren’t any Akuma here. It’s just me and the cult I’ve grown.

“As for what I want… I’d very much like to know about this essence-user, and any other you ferret out. If you aren’t willing to give me that, I may accept dinars, information, or future favors in exchange. As I said, though – this is your problem you’re asking me to help with. Tell me what it is you have to offer and what you have issue with.”

>>
No. 667674 ID: a107fd

You know four essence users: two low-profile DBs, neither with any more than a street gang backing them up and one of whom you wouldn't mind seeing publicly humiliated or quietly destroyed, a possible sidereal, and a god-blood or something running small-time scams. Rattle off vague descriptions, short on identifying detail, and ask how much each of those profiles would be worth to her in terms of future favors.
>>
No. 667704 ID: 7a6915

>>667674
Think about it, except for Embattled Justice, and maybe Sienna, the rest of them and Abel's gang are houses of cards at risk of falling if any of them get knocked around too much by Amaranth making use of the information. If Amaranth disturbs either Graceful Blossom or Rook that risks progress and opportunities with both. If Amaranth pokes at Sienna, Abel or Feng any of those could affect what happens with the other two in addition to being a setback for dealing with them directly. Sacrificing Embattled Justice is a freebie though, we don't like that guy.

"I have very nearly been working at exactly what you want of me by accident. You could likely use at least one thing I've learned in two days of wandering around looking for opportunities, and my aid dealing with some of it too. In respect for the fact that you told me what you're up to without a price I'll share some details. The piece of it I'm most willing to give you and aid you in making use of is an apparent exalt I found foolish and irritating. Risks aside, I couldn't imagine a finer fate for them than becoming an akuma, although we should maybe confirm they aren't an abyssal or someone else's agent. Besides them I have met other confirmed and possible essence users I have interest in, and a criminal gang I have status and interest in. Three current spousal candidates are two of those confirmed essence users and a suspected one, and that's most of why I'm reluctant to tell you much about any of that without either pretty solid guarantees you won't work counter to my goals or adequate compensation."
>>
No. 667803 ID: 5a02f7
File 144156720947.png - (89.50KB , 750x750 , 220.png )
667803

>>667704

“I have very nearly been working at exactly what you want of me by accident. You could likely use at least one thing I've learned in two days of wandering around looking for opportunities, and my aid dealing with some of it too. In respect for the fact that you told me what you're up to without a price, I'll share some details. The piece of it I'm most willing to give you and aid you in making use of is an apparent exalt I found foolish and irritating. Risks aside, I couldn't imagine a finer fate for them than becoming an Akuma, although we should maybe confirm they aren't an abyssal or someone else's agent. Besides them I have met other confirmed and possible essence users I have interest in, and a criminal gang I have status and interest in. Three current spousal candidates are two of those confirmed essence users and a suspected one, and that's most of why I'm reluctant to tell you much about any of that without either pretty solid guarantees you won't work counter to my goals or adequate compensation.”

Amaranth’s eyes sparkled, ”Oh, this is interesting. How is it that you’ve found yourself in so much trouble, Edge?”

I shrugged, ”The Maidens must find my thread an interesting joke.”

She laughed at that, ”Fine. You tell me about these essence-users, and I promise I won’t mess with them until you’ve chosen your Bride. In return, I’ll assist you as I can – namely, tonight I will accompany or follow you as you see fit.”

Now it was time to word the oath. I’d have to do so carefully to make sure there were no ways Amaranth could weasel out of it.
>>
No. 668178 ID: 57dfcc

Obvious question: we're a sneak, a social manipulator, and an archer. What are Amaranth's strengths, if she's backing us up? (I assume Edge has some idea).
>>
No. 668365 ID: 5a02f7
File 144174205493.png - (67.53KB , 750x750 , 221.png )
668365

>>668178

Amaranth, being of the Malefactor caste, is a leader of people. They rely on the strength of their cult for many of their powers, and their abilities are uniquely suited to gathering and shaping large numbers of people. Being of Cecelyne, their charms often work better in places of either physical or spiritual desolation. The downside of this is that the law of Cecelyne forever places the strong above the weak, so they are very poor at defying their superiors.

As a Pyrian Malefactor, Amaranth also has access to the charms of She Who Lives in Her Name. Because the Defiler caste was based on the Solar Twilight caste, many of Her charms are centered around knowing and changing the environment. One of the most obvious of her gifts is that of telekinesis, although there are those that may do so without making the source clear.

I know Amaranth has Essence-dissecting Stare, so she can analyze charms and detect essence flows. I also know he has access to Loom-snarling Deception, which gives him similar shapeshifting abilities to myself.

I have not personally sparred with Amaranth, so I do not know if he is a skilled combatant, although I know She Who Lives in Her Name’s gifts can be used in combat. Judging from his business, I would suppose that he is a social manipulator as well, albeit one of a different kind from myself. To properly know his abilities, it would be best to ask him myself.

>>
No. 668405 ID: 7a6915

"Thinking on your question further, if I had to guess why I'm in so much trouble it's because our lord principle of defiance and failure is interested in my attempt to appease him. He's given me a warning which likely applies to you as well actually, so I know he's paying at least a bit of attention. My recent past would be wholly clear if he's been matching me up with attractive people capable of sustained and dangerous defiance, yourself included. That does match his criteria for an exquisite bride, yes?
"Regarding the matter of agreements between us, now that we've reached a degree of common understanding I have a draft proposal worked out. Most of it shouldn't be too controversial. The language guaranteeing we inform each other of additional threats, interests and opportunities is not explicit, but it is implicitly required. I amended that because I note with some surprise you tried to ask me to pay you for a service now with an unbound and unspecified quantity of information in the future, which is a questionable bargaining proposal. Instead I substituted that I will help you investigate and use the fool I mentioned earlier, trading a service for a service. If it turns out they are someone we won't turn into an akuma, we both need to know that anyway. I think that's balanced because it's service regarding a potential opportunity versus service regarding a potential opportunity."

Legalese put in the discussion thread, because it's such a TL;DR. http://www.tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/92283.html#94749
>>
No. 668453 ID: 57dfcc

>analyze charms and detect essence flows
That sounds particularly useful in assessing an unknown essence user.

I guess the biggest pertinent question to ask after would be combat capabilities, if this manages to go completely tits up.
>>
No. 668463 ID: 5a02f7
File 144176234674.png - (73.25KB , 750x750 , 222.png )
668463

>>668405

”Thinking on your question further, if I had to guess why I'm in so much trouble, it's because our Lord Principle of Defiance and Failure is interested in my attempt to appease him. He's given me a warning which likely applies to you as well actually, so I know he's paying at least a bit of attention. My recent past would be wholly clear if he's been matching me up with attractive people capable of sustained and dangerous defiance, yourself included. That does match his criteria for an exquisite bride, yes?”

“Your flattery is noticed and appreciated, although I’m more concerned about this warning,”
Amaranth leaned in, “Just what exactly are you getting me into, Edge?”

“It’s all part of the agreement – I assure you, it’s vague enough that it’s nothing more than an interesting point.”


She chewed on her pipe, leaning back, ”I’m not agreeing to anything without knowing about it.”

I sighed, ”Mara appeared to me in a dream and told me I have a knot in my destiny. Now, do you have any paper?”

Amaranth looked at be dubiously but handed me a sheaf, and I took out a pen and ink, writing as I spoke, ”Now that we've reached a degree of common understanding, I have a draft proposal worked out. Most of it shouldn't be too controversial. The language guaranteeing we inform each other of additional threats, interests and opportunities is not explicit, but it is implicitly required. I amended that because I note with some surprise you tried to ask me to pay you for a service now with an unbound and unspecified quantity of information in the future, which is a questionable bargaining proposal. Instead, I substituted that I will help you investigate and use the fool I mentioned earlier, trading a service for a service. If it turns out they are someone we won't turn into an Akuma, we both need to know that anyway. I think that's balanced because it's service regarding a potential opportunity versus service regarding a potential opportunity,” I wrote out the full terms of the contract before passing it over to her.

>>/questdis/94749

Amaranth read my note, her face falling as her eyes moved further down, ”Damn, I forgot you were good at this,” she muttered around the pipe she held in her mouth, ”I’ll agree to this, Cecelyne help us both, except that last part – I’ll try my damnedest to help you, but I don’t want Her wrath falling on me just because there’s no saving you.”

I amended the final stipulation, nodding, ”Then your hand, please?”

I took her hand in mind, manipulating my essence to sanctify the oath I spoke, ”Until the completion of the Exquisite Bride Obsession or until the two parties agree to end this alliance, Sky’s Edge and Amaranth will cooperate by sharing information and lending assistance in achieving theirs and each other’s goals. The limits and bounds of this agreement will be acknowledged in writing and shared between both participants. I, Sky’s Edge, Fiend of the Ebon Dragon and arbiter of this oath, swear by these words.”

“I, Amaranth, Malefactor of She Who Lives in Her Name, swear by these words.”

“Then, as a Chosen of the Ebon Dragon, formerly the Dragon’s Shadow, architect of Creation and creator of what is, I bind these two to their words.”


My caste mark flared briefly to life upon my brow, turning the red shades of Amaranth’s hut into a nightmare of dark purples and sickly greens before dying to a mere ember.

Amaranth let out a long breath, shaking her hand, ”Even as a Priestess of Cecelyne, I’ll never get used to how that feels.”

I smirked, ”So, I suppose you wish me to go first, hmm?”

“But of course.”


I took a deep breath, beginning, ”I know of three confirmed essence-users, one of which I will be meeting with tonight – I’ll detail the other two first.

“The first I encountered is Feng, a member of the gang who wears red as a sign of their allegiance. He claims to be an Earth-aspected Dragon-blooded, and I’m inclined to believe him, seeing as he has crystals growing on his ears. He claims it’s simply a Wyld mutation, but I have my doubts. He’s exhibited very keen hearing and claims some other talents, but nothing that I’ve noted as being exceptional.

“The second is Embattled Justice, a former Lookshyan soldier. He claims to be a Water-aspected Dragon-blooded and has exhibited a chilly anima that accompanied what I assumed was use of charms. I reserve judgment as to what exactly he is, especially as we’re this close to Thorns, but I know for certain he has some abilities that can manipulate chance. I found him foolish and abrasive, and I see no better use for him than serving as an Akuma to the Reclamation.”

“I know of that one, if only through rumor,”
Amaranth said, drawing from her pipe, ”Now tell me of your Bride-to-be.”

“Her name is Sienna. She’s a jeweler who sells wares in the New City. When I approached her stall, she used – some ability on me that made me follow her words exactly, as though they had been thoughts of my own. I was able to break free of it after the fact, but only through a feat of will. She apparently uses this trick to sell overpriced trinkets to foreigners and tourists. She wants to meet tonight, likely to speak frankly on what it is we are and how I was able to resist her compulsion. Seeing as she could easily command me to slit my own throat, I thought it prudent to seek assistance.”


Amaranth blew out a long flume of smoke, ”Then all that remains are the two.”

“Yes. I’ve mentioned the first, Graceful Blossom in Full Bloom. She has knowledge of Old Realm and claims to have visited numerous places around Creation. She introduced me to another man, a shop owner by the name of Rook. I’ve only met him once, but he seems suspicious as well.”


She thought on that for a long moment, nodding, ”Then I’ll tell you what I know.

“Myria is a powerful essence-user.”


I cursed in Seatongue, ”And you introduced me to her as a potential Bride?”

Amaranth shrugged, ”I was being helpful! I only know this because she has essence strong enough for me to detect, but I haven’t observed her using any charms, so I don’t know what it is that she is – she could be a god in disguise for all I know.”

“What about Crimson?”

“I don’t know, but I have my suspicions.”

“This city is rife with exalts and stranger things…”

“Why do you think I’m desperate enough to help you with your dating problem?”
she huffed, ”Besides her, there’s a Yozi-kin in my cult, and a demon-blooded in a gang I have connections to. I think the local dynasts have three Dragon-blooded with them, although I don’t know their abilities or aspects.

“As well, I’ve noticed – something. I can’t really explain it, but when I’ve made moves, there have been moves made against me. Something, someone, or a group of someones don’t want me to have power in this town. I’d like to find out who or what exactly they are so that I can slit their necks and leave them in the gutters.”

“That reminds me – how skilled are you in combat? I’ve never sparred against you.”


Amaranth shrugged, ”I can knock people and things about with the force of my mind, with enough strength to make foes bleed if I so choose. It’s subtle enough, if you consider floating people the norm,” she gestured with her pipe, ”But enough of that. What exactly do you want me to do tonight? I could follow secretly or overtly, and if I do the latter, do you have any particulars you want for my identity?”
>>
No. 668540 ID: 7a6915

-We don't know enough about Sienna's powers, agenda or connections to predict her well.
-Simple proposal: Mirth seen off by 'her cousin' (Amaranth in appropriate persona).
*-Mention opportunity of a conversation later with both.
*-Should intimidate her out of attempting mugging, murder or subjugation if she's sane.
*-Would help establish groundwork for negotiating deals for artifacts/powers/etc.
-Need backup plan in case Sienna not sane, or in case Sienna bringing backup too.

-Restate warning: Mara mentioned tracking Edge down by his stars, after they were discussed by other demons.
*-If property of Loom-Snarling Deception, both Edge and Amaranth may be getting tracked by star-watchers.
*-If not property of Loom-Snarling Deception, Edge may be lightning rod for weirdness because of his stars.
*-Mention that morning after Mara's appearance, Graceful Blossom had a star chart with her, which was just one of the unsettling things about her.
**-Suggest Edge take her to meet his cousin at some point.
***-Meeting place should be decided based on risk that Graceful Blossom is either hostile essence user, or working for hostile essence user.
>>
No. 668554 ID: 57dfcc

>Myria is a powerful essence-user.
Not really surprised at this point, but that does rekindle fresh interest in investigating her more when we get a chance later, even if we have other people we've made progress with as bride candidates. Might still find some way to use her.

The important question we thought to ask ourselves before, that we should now ask Amaranth: does Myria know she's an essence user too? If so, the specific way she introduced us may have outed us as well.

>floating and telepathy
Right, so one subtle fighter, and one ranged. Prefer things not to get violent, if at all possible.

>>668540
The biggest problem I see with the cousin plan is it immediately puts Sienna back on her guard. The whole idea of covert backup is so we can draw her out without placing ourselves in as much risk. A show of force decreases the risk, but hinders drawing her out.
>>
No. 668597 ID: 7a6915

>A show of force decreases the risk, but hinders drawing her out.
Sienna brought her hands down onto the table, ”Bullshit. I’m calling bullshit on all of it,” her voice became heavy with suggestion, ”Tell me the tru-”
Sell me on the idea that there is anything at all we can get out of her while she thinks she can just order us to take twelve steps on an eleven-step pier into a feeding frenzy of maneater fish. I think her hasty agreement to the date was decided by the fact that this would get us somewhere private she could steal from us, kill us, use her powers to interrogate us, or some combination of the above.
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No. 668674 ID: 5a02f7
File 144183490454.png - (83.26KB , 750x750 , 223.png )
668674

>>668540
>>668554

”Before we get to that, there are a few points I want to clear up.”

Amaranth gestured for me to continue.

”First, about Mara’s warning – she said that she tracked me down by my stars. Now, I don’t know if she was talking about my destiny here in Creation, under the Loom-snarling Deception I’ve assumed, or my true destiny, as guided by the stars of Malfeas. If it’s the first, it’s possible that I could attract the attention of other star-watchers. This worries me because this morning, I encounter Graceful Blossom with a star chart.”

“Astrology is a common-enough practice for thaumaturges, but that is worrying… have you given her any personal information about your identity? Where and when you were born, or even what season it was?”


I shook my head, ”I’ve only told her that I’m from the West.”

“Then you should be fine. From what I understand, astrology needs a lot of specific information to be truly effective.”

“And about Myria – does she know that you’re an essence-user as well?”


She shrugged, ”I haven’t the slightest. Like I said, I haven’t seen her use any charms, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have any.”

I fell quiet, thinking about how best to approach the meeting with Sienna. I was of two minds of it – if I brought Amaranth with me, it would show Sienna that I’m not alone and possibly discourage her from doing anything drastic, but she would likely be very cross, since she specified I should leave my friends at home. If I had Amaranth follow, then she would be less able to help me in case things went poorly – but she would be out of range of Sienna’s ability for much of the time. Of course, if she discovered somehow that we were being tailed, she would react poorly. Either decision had its downsides.

Amaranth observed my reticence and spoke up, ”The way I see it is you can do things a few ways. The first, I could go with you, and you could introduce me as someone like you, which would probably make her more on guard. Alternatively, you could pretend I’m someone unrelated, which will make her underestimate me. Or, I could follow covertly, only providing back-up if you need it. Like I’ve said before, the choice is yours.”
>>
No. 668685 ID: 7a6915

I know: Split the difference on introducing Amaranth by saying that we've mentioned her to our cousin. Add that we're invited to visit for a conversation if we're not too busy.
After that, a covert tail doesn't even have to be Amaranth herself if she's got someone more appropriate in her cult.
>>
No. 668737 ID: 57dfcc

>haven't told her anything she could astrology you with
Unless how you eat breakfast is applicable. Or unless you can read raw fish work like entrails.

>>668685
I think this works. A chance meeting with someone seemingly unrelated to our business (even if we go with blood related) followed by a tail. And she should try to learn what she can watching her essence. She offers support, and if things go really bad and it comes to a fight, her role is to covertly keep us from staying compelled (smack us out of it telekinetically or what have you) and to tun interference with her ranged stuff to give us the room to get to range and engage with bow.

Maybe we can goad / manipulate Sienna into using her compulsion to make Amaranth "go away" when we encounter her. Amaranth rolls to resist, pretends she was affected, and gets to analyze the charm cast in her direction.
>>
No. 668804 ID: a107fd

Sienna said "your friends are not invited" in a way that could be taken to specify the gang. So, regardless of the other details, I would suggest insisting that Amaranth not wear anything red, just to avoid confusion.

If Sienna thinks that "Mirth" is a clumsy idiot from the home office sent to check up on her, or something like that, the obvious way to play into the assumption would be to have Amaranth act playfully hostile, as if Sky's Edge were trying to shake her off the trail before the meeting and failed.
>>
No. 668849 ID: 7a6915

>So, regardless of the other details, I would suggest insisting that Amaranth not wear anything red, just to avoid confusion.
The sign of the gang is a single, conspicuous red accessory, he's fine if she wears a red outfit like he seems to prefer.
>>
No. 668908 ID: 5a02f7
File 144193350703.png - (98.84KB , 750x750 , 224.png )
668908

>>668685

”I think I’d like you to follow me. I’ll introduce you as my cousin, and if Sienna’s fine with you following, all the better to have you close.”

Amaranth smirked, ”So be it. So, how should I dress?”

I described how I look as Mirth. Amaranth nodded, and the shadows of the room writhed as they jumped to cover her. When the darkness returned to where it had been before, a new form stood before me.

Her eyes were the same, but her skin tone had lightened to that of a Southwesterner. Her hair was a few shades lighter than Mirth’s, long and pulled back with glittering accessories. A cobalt bindi adorned her brow, which complemented the blue silks she wore. Her clothing was in the local custom of the Delzahn, clearly marking her as an available woman.

”Will this do?”
>>
No. 668945 ID: 7a6915

Uhm, a smoking hot blue chick wearing clothes that display more than they cover is not an inconspicuous tail. Amaranth may pass as a locally-adapted relative of Mirth like this, but does he ever wear clothing that's not distracting while female?
If we are planning to introduce him at the beginning of the date it would generally make more sense (socially) for us to be 'seen off' by Amaranth onto our date instead of inviting along a third wheel, unless the local customs support chaperons. We could try to play that ambivalently though, with Amaranth saying something like: "Hello there, I'm (insert name). I apologize for intruding on your date but when my cousin Mirth said she'd met someone special I wanted to see for myself. If you aren't too busy enjoying the evening as a couple I'd like to invite you to stop in at my place for a chat later."

Do the local customs support chaperons? That could be the most hilarious reason for Amaranth to come along. It would be interesting to imply that the two of them have enough pretensions at being upper class that Mirth would be obligated to take a chaperon on her date, but I'm not sure we can pull it off convincingly. "Oh, she's from the more crude branches of the family in the west, where they're really more like warlords and pirates than proper members of the civilized upper class. She enlisted as a mercenary to get experience because they weren't having enough wars. At least they convinced her to sign up as an archer instead of a swordswoman. I'm supposed to help protect her virtue from you, but I imagine she's more likely to threaten your virtue than the other way around. Thankfully you're both ladies so you probably won't be getting her pregnant."
>>
No. 668947 ID: 149da0

>I described how I look as Mirth
Not sure why you didn't just show her, unless we're conserving juice, or worried we could be seen.

>Uhm, a smoking hot blue chick wearing clothes that display more than they cover is not an inconspicuous tail.
Hmm. Unless she's going for a bait and switch? Present as someone flashy and noticeable, then shift to someone much less so for tailing?
>>
No. 669112 ID: 5a02f7
File 144202385254.png - (105.90KB , 750x750 , 225.png )
669112

>>668945

”Do you ever wear clothing that’s not distracting while female?”

Amaranth rolled her eyes as she twirled her pipe, ”A woman’s only honor is her beauty; do you want me to be seen as an honorless woman?”

I held my tongue instead of saying “like you aren’t already.”

She took that as an agreement, ”This will blend in well enough to not stand out if there are other people around.”

“You could be my chaperone.”

“That’s a possibility – you might be able to pull off being high-class enough that such a thing is accepted… She did say this was a date, right?”

“Correct.”

“It might work, then, but you know her better than I do.”

>>668947

“Could you switch to an appearance less noticeable for tailing?”


She chewed on the end of her pipe, ”That’d work, too, if she doesn’t like the chaperone idea. It’s up to you – just tell me the plan, and I’ll do my best to see that it doesn’t get too messed up.”

Judging by how long we had been talking, I probably still had time to buy the necklace before I had to meet with Sienna, but even if I decided against it, I should conclude my business with Amaranth soon.
>>
No. 669127 ID: 7a6915

Amaranth knows the locals better than we do--or should--and also is on the hook for keeping us alive or else he loses his partner for gathering intel and suckering Embattled Justice into becoming a demon-slave. Does he really have no particular recommendation? In the absence of a recommendation I'm inclined to suggest combine the approaches: Chaperon comes to ensure the date isn't male, offers opportunity for a drink and a discussion at some point because she's curious about this special lady Mirth found, asks if Sienna wants her around to stop Mirth from groping her too much.
More generally about the identity we're projecting, us being a warlord from out west who went prodigal as a mercenary because we were tired of being considered inexperienced is a good line to explain pretty much anything and everything Mirth could be up to. People like that are allowed to be odd, and it could be a hook for explaining that our interest in Sienna was significantly sparked by her being *more* than just an ordinary person.
>>
No. 669308 ID: 5a02f7
File 144211414714.png - (115.75KB , 750x750 , 226.png )
669308

>>669127

”Here’s the plan – you’ll accompany me as a chaperone. We’re from the family of a Warlord out West; I went prodigal as a mercenary because I was tired of being considered inexperienced. You’re accompanying me to see this special lady that I mentioned and, I don’t know, protect my virtue,” Amaranth barked a laugh at that, ”If she shoos you away, follow us as someone less conspicuous to make sure she doesn’t drag me to a back alley and make me slit my own throat.”

”Oh, this will be fun.”


-------------------------

I changed my appearance to that of Mirth’s, and Amaranth and I exited through a back entrance to her shop. We walked at a leisurely pace, having some time yet before I needed to be there.

”So, Cousin Mirth, what can you tell me about this lady-friend of yours?” Amaranth purred.

I eyed her, frowning, ”She won’t like you.”

She laughed and asked no more.

The breeze of the open market was refreshing after the smoky closeness of Amaranth’s shop and the stale air of the Undermarket. I took in a few deep breaths, going through a mental checklist, ”Shit. I don’t have my bow.”

“That would be a problem.”


It was a small detour for me to switch faces, return to my inn, and retrieve my weapon, but I felt safer with it at my back. I opted to keep it in its case with a small supply of arrows so that I wouldn’t draw undue attention – packaged as it was, it could easily be mistaken for any long, slender object.

We arrived in the New City just a bit past Resplendent Water. Sienna was already waiting in the shadows of her stall, her strange pet keeping watch from the stack of boxes. I did a quick visual sweep of the area, but it was clear to my eyes of anyone. I affected an easy manner as I approached.

Sienna rose as I came near, stepping out from behind her stall. I instantly noticed the addition of a sheath at her thigh. As suspected, her expression soured when she saw Amaranth, ”I thought I told you to leave your friends at home.”

“Oh, but when Mirth mentioned this special lady, I just had to come and see her for myself,”
Amaranth said, ”I’m her cousin, Glorious Zephyr. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Sienna,” she extended a hand that wasn’t taken.

”What are you doing here?”

“Chaperoning, obviously. I needed to make sure that Mirth wasn’t seeing a man – you know, protect her virtue and all that – but since the two of you don’t need to worry about that, I’ll be on my way if you don’t want me around.”

“We don’t want you around,”
Sienna quickly said.

”Well, I can tell when I’m not wanted,” Amaranth winked and nudged me, ”Make sure you don’t do anything that I won’t want to tell Auntie about, ‘kay?”

I easily affected annoyance, ”Thank you, Zephyr. Now go.”

Amaranth laughed before turning and walking away.

”By the gods,” Sienna murmured after Amaranth was gone, ”you think this is an actual date.”

I smiled, ”That’s what you said.”

She stared at me, aghast.

”So, shall we?”

Sienna sat back against the counter of her stall, continuing to stare at me, ”Are you honestly that dense? – No, you’ve got to be playing me. What do you want?”
>>
No. 669317 ID: 91cfcf

"I do genuinely enjoy your company and it's cute how you react to me, but if you hate not being able to understand and control me that much, I wouldn't mind an exchange of information."
>>
No. 669355 ID: 5a02f7
File 144212665517.png - (71.85KB , 750x750 , 227.png )
669355

>>669317

I smiled, ”I do genuinely enjoy your company, and it’s cute how you react to me, but if you hate not being able to understand and control me that much, I wouldn’t mind an exchange of information.”

Sienna frowned at “control,” but she nodded after studying me for a long moment, ”Right, secret handshakes. Follow me,” she eyed me once more before beckoning to me and walking off with purpose. I followed, noting that her pet stayed behind.

”So, what do you have in mind? I haven’t eaten dinner, yet, if you would like to do that.” She didn’t respond, ”I don’t know this area of the city very well, yet, so if you have any recommendations, I’d be open to hearing them.” Silence.

Sienna slowed, examining the sky. I followed her gaze, but all I could make out against the dark sky was a circling seabird. Whatever she saw there displeased her, for she turned on me with a sharp look, [color=#FF0000]”I told you to leave your friends – who’s following us? That cousin of yours?”

>>
No. 669356 ID: 149da0

Drat. Amaranth's sneakiness is not up to our target's paranoia.

>seabird
She has an eye in the sky? Hmm. Does that narrow down what she could be? What kind of thing gets animal companions?

>who’s following us? That cousin of yours?
Possibly. She's certainly nosy enough that such a thing might occur to her.

If it's one of the "friends" you introduced me to, they're doing so without an invitation. It's always possible your curiosity wasn't the only one piqued.

She's not going to believe for a minute we don't know exactly who's following us, but we have plausible deniability here.

Shall we try to lose them, or would you prefer to... tell them to leave?
>>
No. 669359 ID: 91cfcf

>>669355
My cousin's certainly nosy enough to try and get me in trouble. If it's one of the 'friends' you introduced me to, it's not with my say-so and they're trying something.

>>669356
Anyone can get a Familiar by putting dots in the background. It basically confirms that she put a dot or two into that, and maybe a charm. Mildly useful information, not very narrow.
>>
No. 669363 ID: 4d8a68

Note: Since her mind control ability appears to have a verbal component, you should stay within throttling range (i.e. arm's length) at all times.
>>
No. 669372 ID: 7a6915

"It's possible that my cousin is following. I mentioned to her that you might be as special as people in our family are, so they could be interested in independently following up on that. If that's the case we might be better off visiting one of their places and including them in the discussion anyway, if you're interested in information exchange or negotiation of other considerations. If it's our mutual friends with the red accessories, well, I did not tell them to come and dear Feng was certainly present for your message, wasn't he?"
>>
No. 669417 ID: 5a02f7
File 144217595995.png - (88.45KB , 750x750 , 228.png )
669417

>>669372
>>669356

”It's possible that my cousin is following. I mentioned to her that you might be as special as people in our family are, so she could be interested in independently following up on that. If that's the case, we might be better off visiting one of her places and including her in the discussion anyway, if you're interested in information exchange or negotiation of other considerations. If it's our mutual friends with the red accessories, well, I did not tell them to come and dear Feng was certainly present for your message, wasn't he?”

Sienna narrowed her eyes at me before looking up at the sky again – the bird was gone.

”Shall we try to lose them, or would you prefer to… tell them to leave?”

”In here,”
she pushed me into a shallow alley, motioning me to be silent. She pulled a glass dagger from her boot and silenced my complaint with a harsh glare.

Not long after we ducked out of sight, I heard the quiet shuffle of bare feet on the packed earth. Whoever it was was trying to be quiet and doing a fair job of it. As soon as the sound approached our hiding spot, Sienna struck, pulling the person off-balance and into the alley with us. In a scuffle that was was too short to really be called such, she has the interloper pinned against the wall, his hood thrown back, and the knife pressed against his throat.

It’s Amaranth, wearing the face I associated with him before coming to Chiaroscuro.

”Not your cousin, not a member of the gang – what do you want, Djala?” Sienna murmured, pressing the blade further.

Amaranth’s red eyes flickered to me, and I could almost see the beginnings of a charm forming there. If I was going to defuse the situation, I’d need to do so quickly.
>>
No. 669422 ID: babd0e

"If there really is a third faction skilled enough to infiltrate the city, is it wise to offer violence the first time we meet an agent?"
>>
No. 669427 ID: 7a6915

"More cousins, meet Courage. He's not here to hurt you Sienna, please remove the knife or I'd actually be expected to defend him."

If she does that, we don't give her an opening to talk before we begin pretend bickering, asking just how many people were involved in looking over our shoulder besides just him and Glorious Zephyr.
>>
No. 669428 ID: 7a6915

>>669422
Uhm, we've already piled up enough BS that we could fall face-first into. Aside from that, if we have to start talking about an actual faction in response to that we're giving away free information, which is counterproductive: Part of the game we're playing is making Sienna *pay* to find out how we hook and/or screw her.
>>
No. 669435 ID: 149da0

Damn. Our backup is causing more problems than help. Although directing suspicion away from us and at others is something we might be able to use?

>possible approaches
Okay, >>669427 is suggesting we pretend to know them and are friendly. Which is awkward in that it turns the suspicion right back at us.

A variation might be we pretend to know the assumed identity, but as a rival or competitor. Or someone else who's interest we attracted. More threats directed against us might make Sienna more confident, and lets us sort of play two sides at once. The tricky bit is selling him as a rival we don't have reason to want dead.

Hmm. We could call her out on resorting to threats to extract information when she has a far more direct method. If she tries to compel Amaranth, and Amaranth resists but acts affected, he can sell any story he wants as 'true', and get to analyze the charm. Of course, if the charm works, we're fucked. (The other risk is it relies on Amaranth picking up the right idea and running with it).
>>
No. 669439 ID: a107fd

While Sienna is focused on Amaranth, use hand-gestures and mouthed words to indicate that telekinesis should be used to move some debris around, make it sound like a pack of blood apes is materializing and moving into position around the mouth of the alley. Then say "maybe you should hurry up that interrogation, we're being surrounded."

Sienna uses UMI on Amaranth, Amaranth checks it out with Essence-Dissecting Stare to pin down the nature of Sienna's powers, and you get a perfectly sensible excuse to unpack your bow without Sienna thinking she's the target.
>>
No. 669481 ID: 5a02f7
File 144220124936.png - (63.47KB , 750x750 , 229.png )
669481

>>669427

”More cousins – meet Courage. He’s not here to hurt you, Sienna; please remove the knife, or I’d actually be expected to defend him.”

Sienna’s eyes darted from me to Amaranth, but she did as I suggested; it seemed I read her bluff correctly.

”By the gods, you didn’t tell me she was psycho,” “Courage” complained, rubbing at his throat.

”I didn’t tell you anything thinking you would follow us. Did Zephyr put you up to this?”

He smirked, ”You know how she is – always looking out for her little cousin.”

“What are you, the Lintha family?”
Sienna asked, exasperated, ”No, don’t answer that – I don’t want to know.”

I shrugged, ”I have a lot of cousins from all over the place.”

“Nevermind,”
she said, ”Just- ugh, she’s gonna kill me... Is your cousin another one of your special family members?”
>>
No. 669490 ID: 0ee153

>>669481
Something something, I'm not Lintha I don't eat people that way. Anyway, yeah, you'd have to be special to try and sneak up on us.
>>
No. 669491 ID: 149da0

>Just- ugh, she’s gonna kill me...
She? Sienna never told us someone else was involved.

Were you planning on introducing me to someone else tonight?

>Is your cousin another one of your special family members?
I'm torn. Yes gives us an excuse to keep him involved, no lets us get him out. I suppose show of strength might be worth more than stealth at this point, as she's show capable of making our tail.
>>
No. 669547 ID: 7a6915

-Apologize for clumsy introduction.
-*Note that it was hard to be more graceful with it when talking with someone as prone to walking off without completing a discussion as Sienna has been.
-*Note that our family seems to have had cause to worry for our safety since Sienna tried to ambush two people in an alleyway instead of responding to being tailed in a more sensible way
-Ask about where she's taking us and how many people we're supposed to meet with.
-*Our family desires secrecy.
-**Our family has special means of binding secrecy agreements that are unmistakable and must not be seen by those unbound by the agreement.
-Add that it would have been more appropriate to bring along Glorious Zephyr than Courage for a discussion, and that he'll be annoyed over the knife at his throat for a while.
>>
No. 669567 ID: cee89f

>>669481
>Is your cousin another one of your special family members?
"Well duh. Look at his makeup."
>>
No. 669584 ID: 5a02f7

>>669567

That's actually the natural skin tone for Djala; check out the discussion thread for a bit more information on them.
>>
No. 669610 ID: 5a02f7
File 144226855290.png - (346.10KB , 750x750 , 230.png )
669610

>>669490

”Yeah, you’d have to be special to try and sneak up on us.”

Sienna eyed me up and down but finally seemed ameliorated; she stored the knife back in her boot.

>>669491
>>669547

”Were you planning on introducing me to someone else tonight?”

“Yeah, just one more person. She’s – a member of my family,”
Sienna looked to the sky again but didn’t seem to find anything there that worried her.

”Well, we desire secrecy above all else. My – family – has a special means of binding agreements, but it must be done only among those being bound. When we get to your cousin, I would want to do this before we exchange secret handshakes.”

“If she says it’s fine, it’s fine,”
she shrugged, ”She knows about this stuff better than I do.”

“So, are we going to stand in an alley all night, or are we going somewhere?”
Amaranth asked, grumping.

Sienna cast him a harsh glare that just rolled off, ”Let’s go.”

We continued to follow the red-glass road, heading closer to the Old City. The path became wider as we went until it opened up onto a massive plain of golden glass, a mile wide.

”By the gods…” I breathed out, ”What is this place?”

“At the end of the First Age, a group of Anathema chose Chiaroscuro as their hiding place. A legion of Dragon-blooded fought against them, and the magic unleashed reduced the grand palace of Chiaroscuro to what you see here,”
there was a frown caught somewhere between Sienna’s brows, but then it was gone, ”Now, it’s just the Field of Gold. Watch your step – it’s hot.”

I could feel the heat through the soles of my boots as I stepped onto the plain. Amaranth hissed a curse as his bare feet first touched and walked hurriedly to avoid burning his soles.

The moon climbed higher in the sky as we walked in silence. As we progressed, I could make out a dark smudge against the nighttime shore, only barely the shape of a figure at this distance, ”Is that your cousin?”

“That’s her.”

>>
No. 669611 ID: 5a02f7
File 144226860872.png - (122.43KB , 750x750 , 231.png )
669611

The figure eventually resolved into a familiar-looking robed individual with pale, ink-stained hands. I cringed internally at the irony of it.

Sienna turned, ”Before we get to talking, I want you to promise some things. First, that you aren’t going to tell what you hear to anyone else. Second, that you aren’t going to act on it in a way that will get us in trouble. Then we can talk about your secret-oath thing and see if it’s something we’ll agree to.

“And it goes without saying that you should be honest. Otherwise, the whole thing’s off.”

>>
No. 669627 ID: 0ee153

"There are some secrets that aren't mine to tell, but I'll tell the truth or try and give a good reason for silence."
>>
No. 669645 ID: 149da0

That's totally Myria there.

Of course, neither of you are wearing faces that have met her before, even if you both know her, so it would be foolish to address her by name, or reveal that you know her.

>Before we get to talking, I want you to promise some things. First, that you aren’t going to tell what you hear to anyone else. Second, that you aren’t going to act on it in a way that will get us in trouble.
The first is an easy promise- whatever happens, it's very unlikely you'd ever tell anyone outside your green sun conspiracy the truth. (Although the fact we're telling this story at all in the flashback means we've already implicitly broken this promise). The second is also easy to agree to, although we'll see if we end up using them to their benefit or not.

>And it goes without saying that you should be honest
That we can agree to, though we'll see in an update just how honest we choose to be.

Although I feel like depending on how we explain / introduce the binding secret oath to them and what truths we give them, we have an opportunity for Infernal Genius Declaration. (Basically we rope them into our plans, we tell them we're doing that, and the oaths sticks it to em). Would have to be worded just right, though.
>>
No. 669705 ID: 7a6915

This is fscking hilarious. If my guess is right, we've just met up with (representative members of) the abyssal group in town. Problem: We don't know how many more there may be here, and we know there are roughly twice as many abyssals as there are green sun princes (and princesses). That's just a guess and there are other plausible possibilities for what/who we're meeting here, so don't get trapped in false expectations: Others in the top ten list include solar and lunar, rogue abyssal and lunar, members of the empire, runaways from the empire, and local deities that are creeped out by us.

-Those terms are an acceptable starting point for negotiations. We would amend and extend them.
-*All constraints and conditions to be mutually binding on all parties and witnesses.
-*We'll avoid speaking untruths but we insist on fair exchange for any information we give.
-*Our agreement binding method reveals clearly the nature of our family to any who understands the signs, so a condition would be similar--truthful--declaration of their family's natures.
?? -**It's also potentially visible from a distance, so we should do this somewhere less open.
-*The word "trouble" is vague and capable of both underreaction and overreaction to failures of intent and action. We suggest changing that to a formal truce.
-**To last indefinitely until formally declared broken (communicated clearly, formally, unmistakably, in speech and writing to notify all known affected parties) with seven days of grace continuation period.
-*These terms are broadly acceptable as long as we can inform our inner circles in the rest of our family.
-**Nobody who isn't themselves special with comparable need for secrecy of their own.
-***This is necessary because otherwise we'd be charged with controlling the conduct of others without being able to explain ourselves, under the conditions of the truce.
>>
No. 669776 ID: 5a02f7
File 144235573040.png - (62.50KB , 750x750 , 232.png )
669776

>>669705

”I can agree to that, with a few amendments.”

Sienna crosses her arms, though it could just as easily be against the brisk wind or in frustration, ”What?”

“As I spoke of before, I have a way to bind an agreement between parties, but it is potentially visible from a distance – perhaps we should do this somewhere less open?”

“We’re a mile away from anyone watching, there’s no need to-“

“That’s a lie,”
Amaranth interrupted, ”You keep looking up to the sky – something’s up there.”

Sienna looked taken aback at being called out so forcefully, ”Fine. To the best of my knowledge, we’re a mile away from any eyes that aren’t friendly – does that make you happy?”

Amaranth nodded.

”I’ve heard of such a technique,” Myria’s voice is barely audible above the wind, ”We would be willing to undergo it.”

I didn’t know whether to be unsettled or reassured that she knew what I was talking about, ”Neither of us trust each other,” I stated plainly, ”That much is clear. We’ll be honest, but we demand honesty in return and fair exchanges of information.

>>669627

“There are some secrets that aren’t mine to tell, and I assume the same is true for you. I’ll tell the truth or try and give a good reason for my silence.”


Sienna looked to Myria, who nodded, ”We can agree to that, too. But we still aren’t talking until you agree to our first two terms.”

“First, all agreements are mutual.”

“Aye.”

“”Trouble” is too vague – I suggest changing it to a formal truce.”


Myria spoke up, ”No party would make moves to or by inaction endanger the other. Actions by others that would endanger the other party would be opposed with the utmost effort.”

“That’s… workable, for now. The truce would last until formally broken, with seven days of grace period.”

“No,”
Sienna interrupted, ”Held until all parties involved agree to break it.”

I sighed, ”Finally, I would like to inform the inner circle of the rest of my family, all special people as well, with comparable needs of secrecy.”

Sienna shook her head, ”Unacceptable. These words don’t leave here without everyone’s consent. Your family is your problem – tell them that you swore an oath on it, and that should be all the explanation they need.”

I felt Myria’s cold gaze on me, even from within the depths of her hood.
>>
No. 669808 ID: 149da0

>“No,” Sienna interrupted, ”Held until all parties involved agree to break it.”
How do you enforce a truce between two parties indefinitely if one side decides they wish to break it? Uh, unless we word it into the binding oath we haven't triggered yet, but Sienna explicitly specified these as preliminaries we agree to before even discussing the oath. So they're separate agreements.

Then again, it specifies "endanger". Technically that leaves us free to act against each other in any way that's not putting them in danger, which is exactly the kind of Bond villain nonsense we should excel at as green sun princes. ("So many fates worse than death" backstab).

>These words don’t leave here without everyone’s consent.
Due to the very way this narrative is structured, the words have already left. (Unless agreeing to terms means the remainder of the meeting gets blacked out for the readers and/or Edge's future-audience). Which means we either will get that consent or break those terms. (Or never accepted / will accept them in the first place).

And um. We're telling this story to the Ebon Dragon. ...if we swear an oath to the Yozi not to tell the Yozi something, is that even enforceable? Wouldn't the Yozi have to be made implicitly aware of information we're not supposed to share?

We got logical paradoxes here.
>>
No. 669809 ID: 0ee153

>>669808
Nah, we're just lying assholes. Ignore the man behind the curtain, etc.

Agree.
>>
No. 669831 ID: 149da0

>>669809
Actually, I'm concerned we may not be able to be lying assholes.

If they're asking us to make promises without any binding oath or real trust enforcing it, the only thing that makes sense is if they're somehow checking our intent.

I'm wondering if that cold gaze we feel is Myria using some kind of charm on us that will reveal a false promise as a lie.
>>
No. 669848 ID: 7a6915

>>669831 >>669809 >>669808
I have a much simpler interpretation of what's going on here that make perfect sense of the available evidence: They scared of us, because they're a rogue pair with no backup, and we're doing a pretty credible job of appearing to be part of a significant organization.

"Our problems with informing nobody about you or an agreement with you would mostly fall into two sets: The first is our responsibilities to our family, particularly regarding our secrecy, safety, cooperation and goals. It's difficult to elaborate on that for obvious reasons. The other set is that we can't get our family to follow agreements they don't even know of, with people they don't know, according to terms they don't know. At least I don't see how it would work.
"Are you really part of a larger organization? Recruitment may be an option to break this impasse. We can make offers of wealth, notable items, knowledge, underlings, and potentially more than that for the right recruitment candidates, depending on the candidate. Then we'd be obligated to protect you and your secrets without even needing any specific agreements about that.
"If that's not an answer worth considering from your perspective then I'm failing to understand what your perspective is. In that case would you please be more detailed about your confidentiality concerns?"
>>
No. 669971 ID: 5a02f7
File 144243422120.png - (98.75KB , 750x350 , 233.png )
669971

>>669808

”Wait, wait. If you agreed to that, and you’re telling us now, doesn’t that mean you broke your agreement?” Kamai asked, ”Or is it okay, since you’re telling us and the Ebon Dragon, and the Ebon Dragon is the One Who gave you the power in the first place? Would the Ebon Dragon know about the thing you swore already? Wouldn’t that break the oath?”

“Kamai, slow down before ya break somethin’ in that noggin of yers,”
Lintha teased.

>>669809

I held up a placating hand, ”Let me just tell the story, all right?”

The Ebon Dragon let out something that sounded like a giggle.
>>
No. 669972 ID: 5a02f7
File 144243426201.png - (109.22KB , 750x750 , 234.png )
669972

>>669848

"Our problems with informing nobody about you or an agreement with you would mostly fall into two sets: the first is our responsibilities to our family, particularly regarding our secrecy, safety, cooperation and goals. It's difficult to elaborate on that for obvious reasons. The other set is that we can't get our family to follow agreements they don't even know of, with people they don't know, according to terms they don't know. At least I don't see how it would work.”

“I don’t care about your damn family,”
Sienna said, raising her voice, ”I want you to agree to this right now. We swear the oath, and then we can stop talking around this thing already.”


I studied her, "Are you really part of a larger organization? Recruitment may be an option to break this impasse. We can make offers of wealth, notable items, knowledge, underlings, and potentially more than that, depending on the candidate. Then we'd be obligated to protect you and your secrets without even needing any specific agreements about that.”

“Our affiliation would be covered under the secrecy of the oath,”
Myria said. A seabird descended from the sky and nestled on her head.

I shrugged, "If that's not an answer worth considering from your perspective then I'm failing to understand what your perspective is. In that case would you please be more detailed about your confidentiality concerns?"

“”Our confidenti-“!”
Sienna let out a low groan

”Calm. Her points are valid,” Myria instructed.

Sienna took a few breaths and lowered her voice, sticking out her finger for emphasis, ”Listen, what we’re talking about here could get all of us in enough trouble to kill us and steal our souls away from Lethe itself. That’s my confidentiality concern. If – my associate trusts this oath of yours, then I’m willing to throw in, too. Keep in mind we’re doing this the nice way. We want this to go with the only things being exchanged are words,” she leaned back, ”We want friends, not enemies.”

“I have a proposal for the oath,”
Myria spoke up, ”We swear these words do not leave this place and this time without the agreement of all other parties. We swear that we do not act against each other through action or inaction. This truce will be dissolved when all parties agree to do so. Parties are freed from this agreement upon their death.

“Is that specific enough to your liking?”

>>
No. 669977 ID: 0ee153

We should probably specify that no information leaves if we want to be comprehensive, not just words.
>>
No. 669984 ID: 7a6915

>We should probably specify that no information leaves if we want to be comprehensive, not just words.
Current hypothesis for cause of paranoia: They are abyssals trying not to admit that to people who they think don't know. This is annoying because they are the only outsiders who could reasonably know exactly what we are too. And everybody needs to be able to talk about this meeting because it's got political-level implications above our heads.

"By Malfeas, if I've finally figured out the signs correctly we've both been wasting time. Do we not already know each other's most dangerous, dirty secrets?
"If I did guess right I'd imagine we can move on to other business now, unless you still think we need a specific truce and secrecy agreement for some reason."
>>
No. 669985 ID: 212dec

Insist part of the deal be that you get a proper date after this meeting- after all, she said if her associate agreed to the oath, she was in~
>>
No. 669989 ID: 0ee153

>>669984
Nah, not enough evidence to play our cards this early and it's funnier to let them sweat anyway. Seriously though, good odds the reason for their paranoia is more personal than what type of supernatural creature they are. Like what they're supposed to do here.

>>669985
Now's not a good time for wooing.
>>
No. 669991 ID: 7a6915

>>669984
Alternate version of spoken, if character knowledge supports it:
"By Malfeas, if I've finally figured out the signs correctly we've both been wasting time. Let me guess, Daybreak caste, Moonshadow caste, and lunar companion. Do we not already know each other's most dangerous, dirty secrets?
"If I did guess right I'd imagine we can move on to other business now, unless you still think we need a specific truce and secrecy agreement for some reason."
>>
No. 669995 ID: 0ee153

>>669993
The "if" is the problem there.
>>
No. 669997 ID: 7a6915

>>669989 >>669995
If I'm right we can't agree to keep this secret because that would be counterproductive for all of us. Also, I don't really want Edge to be suffering from the curses of breaking our oath under Cecelyne when we tell this story. That leaves us needing something to say and I'm low on ideas for how to milk their false-assumption we don't know they're abyssals. Here's a gamble you might like, we could try to double down on the intimidation by saying we already know their secrets.
(The following requires appropriate character knowledge.)
"You're presuming that secret of yours is secret from us. Let me disabuse you: I'm guessing you're a Moonshadow caste, your friend in the hood is Daybreak caste, and I don't know enough to identify the specifics of your Lunar companion yet. Can we get on with bargaining for information we don't already have now?"
>>
No. 670033 ID: 149da0

...I'm suddenly wondering if that bird isn't a familiar, but Crimson as a shifted lunar.

>”We swear these words do not leave this place and this time without the agreement of all other parties. We swear that we do not act against each other through action or inaction. This truce will be dissolved when all parties agree to do so. Parties are freed from this agreement upon their death.
I'd add the stipulation that parties aren't exempt from these terms if they happen to have already died before making the agreement. (Closing a possible loophole for abyssal exaltation occurring on death).

Agree to her terms. They're actually fairer than I would have liked (can't screw them over as easily as I would have liked, but we're adequately protected).

As well, obviously the agreement applies to all parties present, even those whose tongues aren't currently suited for speech. *glace at bird*

>paradox concerns
Revisting this idea, I actually kind of think this is a good thing. We're perverting and twisting an ordered system in on itself in a confusing and unexpected way- that kind of subversion is exactly what the Ebon Dragon is all about. He'll love it.

Either the very nature of the oath makes the terms unenforceable, or the paradox of the backwards narrative means we can guarantee we will somehow get them to consent (or outlive them). Hell, we can even preform Infernal Genius Declaration and flat out tell them they're going to eventually allow us to share the truth with our inner circle, if we want to be dicks about it (although do we have to describe method for that to count? Past-edge doesn't have our meta-knowledge).
>>
No. 670059 ID: 5a02f7
File 144246126156.png - (103.91KB , 750x750 , 235.png )
670059

>>669977
>>670033

”A few amendments – first, that no information leaves this place and time, not just words, and, secondly, that parties are not exempt from these terms if they happen to have already died before making the agreement.”

Myria smiled, ”I agree to those terms. Sienna?”

Sienna sighed, ”Yeah, that’s good.”

“I as well,”
croaked the bird. I gave it only a glance before I placed my hand out.

”Until the dissolution of this agreement by all of the five parties, we shall swear a truce between us all. The information we exchange here will not leave this place and time without the agreement of all other parties. We swear not to act against each other through action or inaction. Parties will be freed from this agreement only upon a death occurring after this time.”

Sienna placed her hand over mine, ”I swear.”

Amaranth sighed, muttering, ”This is going to bite me in the ass, but I’ll swear.”

Myria placed her hand on top, ”I so swear.”

“As do I,”
said the bird.

My caste mark blazed upon my brow for an instant, stretching the shadows strangely about us before it faded away.

Sienna let out a breath, ”You’re one of the Blasphemous – I mean, a Deathknight Zenith, right?”

“Not quite,”
Myria remarked, ”I believe we face something stranger than that,” she reached up to lower her hood, and the bird fluttered to Sienna’s shoulder. Her scarred visage was bared as confirmation of her identity, ”I am Myria Ashborn. You are Mirth, correct?”

“That is true,”
I stated, ”This is my cousin, Courage.”

“I am Warden Who Stands in Doorways Marked with Crimson,”
spoke the bird.

Sienna sighed, ”Gods, it feels so strange being honest for once – it’s good, though,” she studied me, ”So, if you aren’t a Zenith, then what are you?”
>>
No. 670069 ID: 3e47aa

"I'm a chosen of Creation's makers, my exaltation taken from the usurpers' usurpers and reforged to serve those it had been used to betray."
>>
No. 670070 ID: 149da0

Yup, that's Crimson. Literally the only people we've met and not confirmed as exalts are Abel and Rook. Which doesn't mean they aren't.

>So, if you aren’t a Zenith, then what are you?
Well, we said we'd be honest, and we've got them bound to silence.

*Chuckle*. You were close. The deathknights are the creatures of the Neverborn. Remnants of slain Primordials. We trace our roots not to the Labyrinth, but to Hell. To the Yozi that survived. We are Princes of the Green Sun.

(Beat, don't even acknowledge any shock or upset). Now, I believe it would be your turn to tell us who you are?

>Mirth / Courage
Well, the oath wasn't that we'd give true names, or eschew aliases.
>>
No. 670086 ID: 0ee153

"Do you know the story of how the Neverborn got their Abyssal servants? The Yozis got their portion, too, and here I am."
>>
No. 670102 ID: 8ae5eb

>>670069
Oops, I forgot the last part: "Only my masters are alive, rather than dead."
>>
No. 670103 ID: 7a6915

>Well, the oath wasn't that we'd give true names, or eschew aliases.
What's with people wording ways of giving away the store when they haven't paid for anything or put in a useful set of fine-print? We haven't even been constrained to be honest yet, folks! Wanna pretend to be alchemicals?
>>
No. 670418 ID: 5a02f7
File 144261804110.png - (63.46KB , 750x750 , 236.png )
670418

>>670070

”You were close. The deathknights are creatures of the Neverborn, remnants of slain Primordials. We trace our roots not to the Labyrinth, but to Malfeas. To the Yozis that survived. We are Princes of the Green Sun.”

Everyone’s eyes flew wide at that – the shock was definitely worth it.

”M-Myria?” Sienna stuttered.

”She’s telling the truth,” Myria muttered, ”By the spirits, to think… no, it makes sense. But how?”

“I’m not privy to the exact details, only that I am what I am,”
I shrugged, ”I am what once was the Eclipse caste, hence my power to sanctify oaths. They are just as binding as those sworn upon the name of Creation’s Sun, so do not doubt that you will suffer if you break your bond.

“Now, I believe it would be your turn to tell us who you are?”

>>
No. 670419 ID: 5a02f7
File 144261807335.png - (89.30KB , 750x750 , 237.png )
670419

Sienna let out a sigh, ”I’m a chosen of the Sun, one of the Wretched.”

“A Night caste,”
Myria corrected.

Sienna shrugged, ”Whatever. I got my power not too long ago, so I’m still getting used to this whole idea that the Anathema aren’t terrible, horrible monsters that serve demons that stole power from the sun and the moon.”
>>
No. 670420 ID: 5a02f7
File 144261810889.png - (46.76KB , 750x750 , 238.png )
670420

”That’s largely due to my tutelage,” Myria said, ”I have been Exalted for several years now, as a Deathknight of the Daybreak caste. However, I no longer serve the Deathlords.”

“A rogue, then,”
Amaranth said.

Myria nodded, ”Aye.”
>>
No. 670421 ID: 5a02f7
File 144261814346.png - (81.72KB , 750x750 , 239.png )
670421

The bird – Crimson – spoke, ”I am a Chosen of Luna, blessed by the light of the Full Moon.”

“I take it this isn’t your true shape?”
I couldn’t really see Crimson as a sea bird.

He laughed, ”No.”
>>
No. 670422 ID: 5a02f7
File 144261817852.png - (93.68KB , 750x750 , 240.png )
670422

Amaranth spoke last, eying me, ”Like Mirth, I’m a Chosen of Hell as well, but one from the Zenith caste instead of the Eclipse.”

“How does that work?”
Myria inquired, ”Any information you can give would satisfy at least some of my curiosity.”
>>
No. 670432 ID: 149da0

>”She’s telling the truth,” Myria muttered
Running some kind of truth sense. Called it. We'll have to be crafty with our lies / half truths / elegant story telling around this one. I'd love it if Amaranth used her Essence-dissecting Stare and figures out the restrictions and/or limitations, but it's not as if we can ask right now.

>solar Sienna
Huh. Did not call that one. Forgot they had a sneaky caste. Although Edge called it right in their first meeting that her scam showed she was new.

I wonder how much of her angst and grumpiness at us is more due to uncertainty and unhappiness over what she's suddenly becomes? A lack of self-confidence or a shaken worldview is much better ground to exploit than active hate.

>rogue deathlord
>But that's silly, you can't just stop...
Looks like they can after all, Kanami.

Quite the diverse group they have, don't they? (Which is really the follow up question I'd be most interested in).

>I’m still getting used to this whole idea that the Anathema aren’t terrible, horrible monsters that serve demons that stole power from the sun and the moon.
Don't worry, we're the ones who serve demons, and technically the sun and moon stole power from them.

>Amaranth spoke last, eying me
She wasn't expecting the night to go this way, for sure.

One way she comes out ahead though: she now knows who and what several of the powers she was concerned about before are, they don't know her true identity, and they're oathbound not to act against her. That's actually very helpful for her current efforts here- we effectively took what could be several complicating pieces off the board. (Maybe should point this out when she's being pissed at us later).

>How does that work?
Hmm. Now we start butting into how much information we're willing to give away for free and keep talks going (And/or what information we trade about ourselves for information about them). I'm sure she'd love a full breakdown ala >>/questdis/94150 , but we're not going that far with infodump. (Biggest sticking point is unless we're trading for other information, it's not as if they can reciprocate. We already have a broad understanding of their castes).

Pretty sure we should avoid getting into reclamation talk too soon. And I'd rather not bring up the subject of obsessions at all- that makes our motives known rather more than I am comfortable with.

I suppose it's no great secret to shrug and reveal each caste is the creation of a different Yozi. As with your Solar and Abyssal 'kin', each has their own strength or focus.

(Um, assuming she was actually asking about castes there and wasn't inquiring more broadly).

With a rogue and a confused newbie, recruit is potentially something we could pursue, although Myria might not be so quick to follow masters too similar to the ones she deserted. We'd need to find out more about their situation (and/or why she ran) first.
>>
No. 670450 ID: 7a6915

"We can inform you of that, and a great many other things of interest and import about the Yozis, their servants, and probably some other interesting esoterica about the history of Creation that you may not be aware of. However, are you sure that's what you want to ask in exchange for the information that we want? You seem rather on edge, judging from your attempt to set up an ambush for someone that hadn't offered the slightest bit of prior hostility. This suggests you need something more than details of the baffling complexities of the Yozis."
>>
No. 670529 ID: 7a6915

>>670450
Oh, and to explain why I think we should ask that: Every single bit of information we get is something we have to pay for. We don't know that we even have any information they need or want besides secrets of the reclamation that we really ought not trade away cheaply. So let's see if we can get free information about other supernaturals by checking if they want help dealing with someone else.
>>
No. 670613 ID: 5a02f7
File 144269692475.png - (67.46KB , 750x750 , 241.png )
670613

>>670432

I shrugged, ”We can inform you of that, and a great many other things of interest and import about the Yozis, their servants, and probably some other interesting esoterica about the history of Creation that you may not be aware of; however, are you sure that's what you want to ask in exchange for the information that we want? You seem rather on edge, judging from your attempt to set up an ambush for someone that hadn't offered the slightest bit of prior hostility. This suggests you need something more than details of the baffling complexities of the Yozis.”

“What did you do?”
Myria asked, looking to Sienna.

She had the sense to at least look abashed, ”I was on-edge, okay?” she gestured to Amaranth, ”Sorry about that.”

“No hard feelings over it,”
he muttered, rubbing at his neck, ”Not many, anyway.”

“I, for one, would be interested in hearing more,”
Myria spoke up, ”But this is likely not the best place for continued conversation, and I am not certain what I can offer you in exchange. Perhaps we can speak of esoterica later – I wouldn’t want to bore our present company.”

Sienna rolled her eyes good-naturedly, ”Well, is there anything else you want to talk about?”
>>
No. 670614 ID: 0ee153

"Our goals in the city. I think we may have been unnecessarily working at cross purposes."
>>
No. 670623 ID: 7a6915

"We would like to know more about other people in Chiaroscuro that are... special. It's much easier to avoid unnecessary conflict when you at least know who else there is that may accidentally--or otherwise--conflict with you.
"Also, I'm not bored but if I'm totally honest I was hoping against the odds that I was going on a hot date with a beautiful and powerful woman this evening. I'll try to calm my disappointment that neither you nor Sienna seems interested, and enjoy these subtler pleasures instead."
>>
No. 670626 ID: 149da0

>>670613
I would think the first thing we would want to inquire about is what brings such a diverse group together for a common purpose. I suppose it's not uncommon for chosen of the sun and moon to work together, but this would be the first time I've seen one under the tutelage of a Deathknight.

We want to see how much we can get them talking about their own situation, and what basic knowledge of about Green Sun princes we can sell in exchange as information about ourself. (Before they start pushing for specifics like what we're actually up to).

That, and if we want to try recruiting them to the reclamation later, we need to lay a basic groundwork of information. (Mentioning something that could play on greed or emotions over time in passing might help, like if we get greedy Seinna thinking about the material artifact wealth hell might offer, or learned Myria thinking about the secrets or history being kept our of her reach). We want them thinking about what we have that's good before pitching it.

>>670614
I think the biggest problem of just up and asking their goals is we don't want to reciprocate and be honest about ours. Amaranth certainly won't want to reveal what she's trying to do (or give them information that could tie cousin Courage to the identity she's been running her shop under), and we don't want to discuss the exquisite bride obsession.

The obsessions / urges make us too easy to identify in other identities, and they're a real weakness when exposed. It makes us predictable, and worse, gives them a point of leverage.

...the only advantage I see to coming clean would be the look on Sienna's face when she realizes we were honest about what we wanted when she first asked us, and that our perceived teasing asking her out was fully serious.

I suppose if we wanted to be say something on the subject (without Myria catching us in an outright lie): we're searching for someone. Exactly who remains to be seen. Courage is currently aiding us in our efforts. (Which is true, even if she has her own goals).

>>670623
Personally, I would leave out the crack about the date right now. I think now that we understand where Sienna is coming from (I think more of her hostility comes from her situation, her uncertainty, and becoming something she was taught to hate and fear), we might actually be able to exploit that understanding and make a better effort pursuing her, if we really wanted to.

And we might actually have a shot with Myria, too. She's certainly interested in learning more about us, and I think she was impressed with the detail wrangling we matched her with. Though that would come to how we leverage that.

In either case, I don't think we can really do too much in front of the bigger audience. The whole group being here restricts our options.
>>
No. 670696 ID: 5a02f7
File 144271305197.png - (123.77KB , 750x750 , 242.png )
670696

>>670626

”What brings such a diverse group together?”

Crimson barked a harsh cry, somewhere between a laugh and the call of a sea bird.

”Well, like I said, I was Chosen pretty recently,” Sienna explained, ”I was wandering around without much of a clue, and I sort of – ran into Crimson, I guess is the best way to put it.”

“Politely.”


Sienna shot the bird a harsh look, ”Anyway, we stuck together because what else were we supposed to do? Then there was this thing-“

“I’d prefer we not get into details about that,”
Myria interrupted.

Sienna shrugged, ”Fair enough – it’s your story to tell. Anyway, we met Myria, and we adopted her.”

“More the opposite, I feel,”
the Abyssal murmured, ”There is a fourth party of our circle, but it is ill luck to speak of others when they are not present.”

Sienna gestured, ”So, how about you two? It’s unusual to see a Djala in these parts.”

“You mean one that isn’t in chains,”
Amaranth corrected.

”You said it, not me.”

>>670614

“I came to Chiaroscuro searching for someone. I don’t know who they are, yet, though, so that makes things a little difficult. I contacted Courage when I got into the city, and he’s been assisting me since.”


Amaranth crossed his arms, ”I’m doing my own thing in addition to that – it’s too complicated to get into here.”

Sienna looked unhappy with that, but she let it pass, ”I guess I’m just – looking for a place of my own, you know? I’ve got this power, and now I’m trying to figure out what to do with it.”

“I’m looking for someone as well,”
Crimson spoke, ”My sister.”

I looked to Myria expectantly, and a long beat passed. I was sure she wasn’t going to answer before she finally did, ”I’m simply trying to survive and stay free.”

“Not as easy as you would think, huh?”
Amaranth commented sourly.

>>670623

”We would like to know more about other people in Chiaroscuro that are… special. It’s much easier to avoid unnecessary conflict when you at least know who else there is that may accidentally – or otherwise – conflict with you.”

“We haven’t run into any other essence-users,”
Myria answered, ”Our circlemate is the only one I know of in city that is not present here.”

“There are some dynasts in town, and they’re starting to stay suspiciously long,”
Amaranth added, ”I don’t know what they’re looking for, but it can’t be good for any of us.”

Myria dipped her head graciously, ”Thank you for that information. We will work to be careful,” she shot a not-so-subtle look in Sienna’s direction, but the Solar pointedly ignored it.

This was my last chance to give or request any information that would be under the oath of secrecy. Once we were done here, there was also the question of what to do next; I could depart with any of the people here, or I could go back on my own to my inn.
>>
No. 670709 ID: 149da0

>I sort of – ran into Crimson, I guess is the best way to put it.
Like she ran into you?

Interestingly, that arrangement makes it sound more like Crimson is the one in charge, when I was expecting it to be Myria.

>Djala usually enslaved
If that's Amaranth's natural form, that's an interesting wrinkle with her patron directing her to subvert the abolitionist movement here. Wonder how happy she is with that.

>There is a fourth party of our circle, but it is ill luck to speak of others when they are not present
I'm sure their attempts to reassure their companion as to that which they learned but cannot speak of will be equally illuminating.

...I really want it not to be Justice. But knowing our luck, it probably will end up being, so if we try to Akuma him, they'll intervene. (Then again, if it was, Sienna probably would have tried to warn him if she stucj around long enough to hear Abel pitch that job to us. Not sure if she'd left by then).

>motives
Sienna and Myria's stated goals are actually pretty good for us if we want to try and charm them to our banner. Sienna is looking for a cause and a purpose, and one could be offered to her, if we prime her correctly. Myria is looking for security and safety, which we might offer if we can first figure out what it is that drove her way from her previous masters (otherwise, we risk offending her the same way).

Crimson is straightforward, at least. Pretty sure we'd get something if we gave him who he wants. The question would be how we could beat him to her. (Does either of our castes have a means of finding someone? By connected fates, or blood or something?). I'm half expecting she'll be enslaved here somewhere, putting Amaranth's efforts directly opposed to his.

>This was my last chance to give or request any information that would be under the oath of secrecy.
I kind of want an excuse to allude to some of the benefits Kamai mentioned the Yozi provide their allies (start priming them, thinking about what we have, even if we haven't extended an offer yet), but I feel like we need to ask another question of them or raise a topic that lets us do so. Just proffering information without asking for any is too transparent. Anyone got any ideas, there?

>I could depart with any of the people here, or I could go back on my own to my inn.
Well, you could depart with anyone who will have your company.

Pretty sure we're absolutely going to talk with Amaranth after this, but we could rendezvous with her after, if we want to take the chance to talk to someone else as we leave.

The obvious choices seem like they would be Sienna (so what do you think of me now?) or Myria (if we wanted to start teasing details and arrange a time later to discuss (or trade for) infernal minutia and try and woo and/or recruit her).
>>
No. 670724 ID: 7a6915

Well, we may need to know who this fourth circle mate is. If it's someone else we've met I'll laugh.

"At the moment we've bound this pact of truce between us, but we're... probably not aware of your stated fourth circle mate. It's a bit difficult for us to avoid misunderstandings with them if we don't know who they are or what they're up to. Your thoughts on how to handle that issue?"
>>
No. 670766 ID: 7a6915

>I kind of want an excuse to allude to some of the benefits Kamai mentioned the Yozi provide their allies
"Thinking on your stated goals, I may have some useful advice. Sienna, others may offer vastly different answers for what to do, but I've found that serving a cause greater than myself helps grant direction. Another answer is to pick someone whose life or achievements you respect, and adopt part of what they do--or did--as goals. A third answer is to seek needs and try to aid with them--for example finding Warden's sister. Whatever you choose, I would also suggest you make sure to have a personal life too. Serving causes, ambitions or needs too fiercely can kill people before they've truly lived.
"If any of you find that you have difficulty achieving your aims, well... there is an entire other world of knowledge, powers, beings and resources which may be brought to bear at the Yozis' will. One of my missions is to try to make friends on their behalf, although I would also caution that everything in life has a cost."
>>
No. 671157 ID: 5a02f7
File 144280284299.png - (123.86KB , 750x750 , 243.png )
671157

>>670724

”At the moment, we’ve bound this pact of truce between us, but we’re… probably not aware of your stated fourth circlemate. It’s a bit difficult for us to avoid misunderstandings with them if we don’t know who they are or what they’re up to. Your thoughts on how to handle that issue?”

“She should be available for meeting you tomorrow,”
Myria replied, ”After all, since we won’t be able to talk about what we learned here, she’ll undoubtedly be intensely curious about it.”

“I can take you to the place,”
Sienna said, ”Meet me at my stall at the end of Ascending Fire, and we’ll go there.”

“I have my own business to take care of tomorrow,”
Amaranth corrected, ”So I probably won’t come along.”

Sienna shrugged, ”Suit yourself.”

>>670766

”Thinking on your stated goals, I may have some useful advice.

“Sienna, others may offer vastly different answers for what to do, but I've found that serving a cause greater than myself helps grant direction. Another answer is to pick someone whose life or achievements you respect, and adopt part of what they do – or did – as goals. A third answer is to seek needs and try to aid with them – for example finding Warden's sister. Whatever you choose, I would also suggest you make sure to have a personal life too. Serving causes, ambitions or needs too fiercely can kill people before they've truly lived.”


Sienna looked genuinely touched by my words, ”Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“If any of you find that you have difficulty achieving your aims, well... There is an entire other world of knowledge, powers, beings and resources which may be brought to bear at the Yozis' will. One of my missions is to try to make friends on their behalf, although I would also caution that everything in life has a cost.”


And the expression dropped off her face immediately, ”No thanks. I’m just getting used to the idea of not being a demonic puppet.”

Myria only frowned, saying nothing.

Amaranth coughed, ”Well, I suppose that’s everything, then. We’ll go our separate ways from here?”

Myria nodded, ”Aye. It would be better to not leave in such a large group.”

Crimson took flight at that, quickly climbing on the thermals that the heated plain provided. I could walk back with Sienna, Myria, or Amaranth.
>>
No. 671246 ID: 149da0

>she
So, probably not Justice then. Really going to get messy if it's Graceful Blossom.

...the fates totally hate us that much, don't they.

>not being a demonic puppet
Haha, too hard a sell. She's touchy there.

>I could walk back with Sienna, Myria, or Amaranth.
Hmm. We just offended Sienna, and honestly, I feel it might be best to let her think before we push any harder. Plus, we have the meeting tomorrow. We can always follow up chat with her a little before meeting their fourth member.

That leaves Myria and Amaranth. We need to discuss what happened here and what our next moves are with her, but we can do that after we rendezvous at her place (can we signal that to her?). I'd think we'd give Myria a chance for her curiosity to start working. See if she opens up at all.

>also
Both you and Amaranth need to take great pains not to be followed and to change identities in a way that makes sure you aren't being trailed by an eye in the sky when you go your own way. The fact that Crimson can fly makes assuring that you are not being watched much more difficult.
>>
No. 671252 ID: 0ee153

>>671246
Odds seem more likely they're Sidereals.

As for not being seen by Crimson, get under a roof and away from windows. Preferably in a place with multiple exits.
>>
No. 671372 ID: 7a6915

>>671246 >>671252
>So, probably not Justice then. >Odds seem more likely they're Sidereals.
We don't know. If Justice is a lunar who ate some dude's heart and has a way of projecting cold that might do it. On the other hand, I think the odds of Graceful Blossom being a solar or lunar are higher than being a sidereal just on the numbers alone. Lunar was one of the higher ranked possibilities, and Rook could be another face Crimson wears.
Could be we're actually going to meet someone new as well.

After overselling the notion that we have infernal connections the question is whether Myria is interested in trading information about the abyssals and the neverborn for information about the green sun princes and the yozis, or if Sienna wants to have an actual date. I'm at a loss of words for how to handle either of those offers well at the moment, and I'd leave it up to Mirth whether she thinks she can and wants to in either case. Failing that, we do need to confer with Amaranth.
>>
No. 671577 ID: 7a6915

Oh, and if we need a parting shot... "Alright, I guess I'm supposed to go get my strings re-tied or something, good evening."
>>
No. 671845 ID: 5a02f7
File 144298011184.png - (49.38KB , 750x750 , 244.png )
671845

>>671577

”Alright, I guess I’m supposed to go get my strings re-tied or something. Good evening,” I smirked at Sienna, getting an eye roll in response.

>>671246

”If you’ll allow me, Myria, I’ll walk with you until the end of the plain.”

Myria cast a glance at Sienna, who shrugged, ”Yes, that would be acceptable.”

“I’ll see you back at home, then,”
Sienna said. With a wave, she began walking to the east.

I turned to Amaranth, ”I’ll meet you back at your place.”

“You’d better,”
he hissed. With a glance at Myria, he turned and walked to the south.

Without a word, Myria headed southeast.

The pace was comfortable, leisurely, even. The moon was waxing towards half-full, shedding light enough for us to find our way across the featureless plain.

”Do you speak Old Realm?” Myria asked suddenly.

I quirked a brow, ”I do. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you do as well.”

She gave a subtle roll of one shoulder, ”The Deathlords gave little information to their minions, but I suspected they received assistance in taking the Exaltations from – wherever it was that they were stored. The Yozis make logical sense, although the mechanics of it still baffle me. You are not an Akuma, are you?”

I blinked, ”You’re well-read to know such a word, but, no, I’m not.”

She nodded, ”A free-willed tool… yes, that would be a dangerous thing for demons to have. Pardon my frankness, but if yourself relationship with your masters is anything like mine was, then “tool” is a proper word to describe you.”

I chuckled a little at the tactless remark, thinking of the Ebon Dragon’s ire, ”It’s not too far from the truth.”

Myria watched the horizon, ”… Curiosity is what got me this far, is likely what earned me the Black Exaltation, and it burns in me still. You speak vaguely, and I do not fault you for that, since we all have our secrets. I will say this: I would be very interested in learning more about you and the type of being you are. I acknowledge that nothing comes for free – what price would you charge for your secrets?”
>>
No. 671858 ID: 7a6915

Duuuuuh... maybe we should get edumacated about them Neverborn, what they're up to, and what they've got for personnel? We aren't going to get very far with Myria romantically or otherwise until she has respect for our mind, so that's really a precondition to any kind of more significant involvement with her.
If we go with that:
"Equal secrets seems like the natural starting offer for such a trade unless you have something else in mind. To be honest, I need to know more about the other half and what they've done. I expect this would require a separate confidentiality agreement since we're already passing out of the bounds of the first."
>>
No. 671870 ID: 149da0

>“You’d better,” he hissed.
Yeah, haha, they're pissed. Making the case that she's actually in a better position now than she was before, and figuring out what our next play is / how we can collaborate to use what we learned will be very interesting.

>I would be very interested in learning more about you and the type of being you are. I acknowledge that nothing comes for free – what price would you charge for your secrets?
Bam. We played that exactly right. We've have something she wants. Question is now how we use this.

We're not far enough along that we could make her a bride, nor are we going to be able to recruit her to the Yozi's banner so soon after fleeing the Neverborn. I think, at this point, our best bet is to try and turn her into an asset we can use. Resources are what we need more than anything as we try to juggle the situation here.

"I can think of two prices you might pay that might be of interest to me. The first: a secret for a secret. If you would ask for knowledge of my masters, I would ask what it was that drove you from yours. And the second: words for actions. I would not expect one so new to freedom to relinquish it, but I would trade information for the execution of specific favors and tasks."

I'm thinking arrange some kind of session / lesson payment plan. Each one earns us payment in the form of another favor / task we can call in, or her story. Once we know what drove her away, that puts us on better footing to make an actual recruitment effort, and as long as she's in our debt, we'll have an abyssal asset we can use when we need her. (There should be enough be more than enough demonic / Yozi / Green Sun Lore that we can wrack up a few).

Then it's just a matter of being enough of a magnificent bastard to use the favors cleverly.

(She might ask to think about it, or try for a counter offer).

We will offer a first lesson free of charge though: oath bonds or not, your masters would not be pleased if such secrets were to reach... general circulation.
>>
No. 671963 ID: 7a6915

>We will offer a first lesson free of charge though: oath bonds or not, your masters would not be pleased if such secrets were to reach... general circulation.
I don't get this. The secrets are precious so we're giving some for free? Also, giving information in advance is a terrible bargaining position: The standard of bargaining positions in non-refundables is that the perceived value goes down after delivery, so giving information in advance gets us less than giving it later. We're better off with straight up trading in information and increasing Myria's respect for our knowledge and intelligence as a side-benefit instead of talking about unspecified 'favours' that she would be naturally suspicious of.
>>
No. 671981 ID: 5a02f7
File 144304111301.png - (286.75KB , 750x1250 , 245.png )
671981

>>6718858

”Equal secrets seems like the natural starting offer for such a trade, unless you have something else in mind. To be honest, I need to know more about the other half and what they’ve done. I expect this would require a separate confidentiality agreement, since we’re already passing out of the bounds of the first.”

Myria tossed her hair back, ”I have no such needs for confidentiality – tell whomever you wish what I tell you, just know that my former masters are jealous of their knowledge, and they will not take kindly to one speaking what should not be spoken.”

“I could say the same – oath bonds or not, my masters would not be pleased if such secrets were to reach… general circulation.”


She gave a rare, fleeting smile, ”I believe there is a saying in the West – “dead men tell no tales?””

>>671870

“I can think of two prices you might pay that might be of interest to me. The first: a secret for a secret. If you would ask for knowledge of my masters, I would ask what it was that drove you from yours. And the second: words for actions. I would not expect one so new to freedom to relinquish it, but I would trade information for the execution of specific favors and tasks.”


Myria studied me, her one eye narrowing, ”That is fine enough. Each bit of knowledge will have its own price, to be negotiated separately in exchange for secrets or favors, decided at the time of bargaining. So long as I might ask the same of you, that is agreeable.

“For my story, I ask the same of you. In order to understand what led me away from my masters, you must know what first drove me to them.”


She paused a beat, gathering her thoughts.

”As a mortal, I was a scholar and a thaumaturge. The land I lived in was remote enough that such rituals were magic to the people who beheld them. The area was ruled by a powerful god of storms, and he became jealous of the praise my powers brought me. It was a simple decision, really – one shaman or the lives of all of our village and those beyond. They set me atop a pyre and burned me to appease the god.

“At that time, I was offered a choice – live, or die. I chose to live.

“My master was a Deathlord known as the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible. He demanded worship of Oblivion, but I would worship nothing again after seeing what terrible things greater beings asked of their followers.

“So, I left. I wandered with little purpose until Sienna and Crimson found me. Since then, I have followed them.”


Her eye fixed on me, ”Under what circumstances did you take your Second Breath? How does such a thing work for your kind? And, most importantly, I suppose, why do you continue to serve your masters?”
>>
No. 671983 ID: 0ee153

"I failed. From what I understand, each and every one of us Infernals could have done a deed worthy of a Solar Exaltation if we had made one choice a little bit differently. No guarantee we would have been Exalted, but there would have been the chance. So the Yozis send a demon to tell us this, and offer... a way to redo that, I suppose. The Exaltation. The Chrysalis Grotesque. The demon's flesh becomes a cocoon while the Exaltation and the demon's mind fuse with your soul. The Exaltation for power, the demon's mind because the Yozis hoped for more control over us after the Usurpation. I wasn't told the demon would be part of me, but there Bulitar is nevertheless. I understand the Neverborn force you to abandon your past identity under pain of Resonance? I have an urge to act in a way pleasing to my master. It is not binding, but if I go against it strongly for a long time I suffer a flareup similar in nature to your own."

Also should tell her what the failure was.
>>
No. 672004 ID: 149da0

>Under what circumstances did you take your Second Breath? How does such a thing work for your kind?
Exaltation finds the lunars in a defining moment of survival. It found you in the moment of death, an echo of what the Neverborn once faced. For my kind as well the exaltation echos the power behind it: the chosen of the Yozi find their exaltation in a moment of profound failure.

(Then let's rip off some of this >>/questdis/92430 , censored slightly):

You were born in a small fishing village. For a time it seemed you were fated to would be a fisherman, just as your father and father's father, but events took place that were not written into the Loom of Destiny.

There was a nearby Shadowland, a small but powerful conduit of the Underworld surrounding some ruins from the Shogunate period. One of your peers of the village got got the idea that there would likely be treasure left abandoned in such a place, just waiting to be taken. It was easy to round up a small group of young discontents and inspire them with tales of the better life that awaited them.

...and then tell her how you failed.

>And, most importantly, I suppose, why do you continue to serve your masters?
Perhaps I have more freedom than you once did. There are things asked of me, as well as rites and actions which are pleasing to my masters. There are consequences for allowing their favor to wane, but I have some discretion in how I choose to earn it. As a hypothetical, being required to commit acts of violence becomes far more palatable when you may chose your target.

(Aka: the Yozi make you a Bond villain, but no one said you have to Bond villain the good guys, and you can game the system).

In a sense, we need only be as truly terrible as we allow ourselves to be. And managing the competing obligations and objectives and intrigue and demonic politics holds a certain fascination all in it's own, and ample rewards for the clever. To say nothing of the fact that your patron, the Ebon Dragon, is the embodiment of cheating and subverting complex systems for new purposes, even his own.

You might also notice a certain lack of direct attacks on creation on the part of my masters. An objective other than invasion or oblivion and far subtler methods probably contribute.

That would be the short answer. Explaining the nature of the Yozi in detail, and how you can play the contradictions seems like a whole 'nother lesson, at least. (We don't need to cover compulsions or torment in further detail yet either, I think).
>>
No. 672101 ID: 7a6915

>>671983
Whoa, hold on, she didn't tell us half that much yet. I know it's tempting to try to lead the discussion by giving more information than Myria has, but that just makes us look like a jackass that doesn't know the value of what we know. The chrysalis grotesque and the fact that we are literally bonded to a demon are things we should make Myria pay for, dearly, and specifically. That's information that's broadly useful against all green sun princes/princesses and she's shared nothing similar about death knights yet.

>>672004
Much closer, thank you. I would agree with explaining vaguely about where, and the details of how and when our exaltation came. Add that our patron is The Ebon Dragon and that our relationship has its ups and downs. And there are plenty of reasons why we're interested in following The Ebon Dragon: A life not wasted as a peasant stuck in nowhere, a new family, and maybe we'll get a part in saving Creation from its imminent collapse.
>>
No. 672722 ID: 5a02f7
File 144323261307.png - (204.31KB , 750x1250 , 246.png )
672722

>>671983

”I failed. From what I understand, each and every one of us Infernals could have done a deed worthy of a Solar Exaltation if we had made one choice a little bit differently.

>>672004

“I was born in a small fishing village. I thought I would live and die there, just as all my ancestors before me, but I wanted something more. There was a nearby Shadowland, some ruin left over from the Shogunate. I thought there would be treasure, or adventure in the very least. So I gathered some of my peers to go investigate.”


And then I told her how I failed.

-------------------------

”Wait, wait – let me get this straight – you told a near-stranger your greatest failure, but you won’t tell us?” Kamai seemed incredulous.

”A stranger that had the power to tell if I was lying or not, and one that I could very well spend the rest of my life with,” I corrected.

”Let him keep his damned secrets if he wants to, Kamai,” Lintha growled, ”I’m still in’erested how yer gonna get outta this one. Keep on tellin’.”

-------------------------

”I serve the Ebon Dragon, yes, but I think I have more freedom than you did. There are things asked of me, as well as rites and actions which are pleasing to my masters. There are consequences for allowing their favor to wane, but I have some discretion in how I choose to earn it. As a hypothetical, being required to commit acts of violence becomes far more palatable when you may choose your target.

“In a sense, we need only be as truly terrible as we allow ourselves to be. And managing the competing obligations and objectives and intrigue and demonic politics holds a certain fascination all in its own, and ample rewards for the clever. This is to say nothing of the fact that my patron is the embodiment of cheating and subverting complex systems for new purposes, even his own.

“Perhaps, in the end, I serve because it earns me a life not wasted as a peasant stuck in nowhere. I have a new family, and the power to perhaps make Creation a better place.”


I finally fell silent. Myria had listened through all of my speech, looking contemplative. It was a long moment before she spoke, ”You and I are very similar, Mirth. It is… good to find one who turns ill power towards noble ends,” a genuine smile crept across her face, ”It is good not to be entirely alone.”

> Intimacy gained towards Myria Ashborn

”I would like to speak with you more, but it appears our time has come to an end,” indeed, the golden plain stretched only a handful of meters beyond where we stood. Myria turned to me, bowing, ”It was a pleasure. If you wish to speak with me again, ask Sienna to guide you to my booth – I own a stall in the Undermarket where I provide scribing services.”

I returned the gesture, ”You’ll likely see me soon. Take care, Myria.”

“And you as well,”
with a silent stride, she turned and headed off into the night.

-------------------------

I took great precaution in returning to Amaranth’s shop, making it a point to not change my appearance until I was safely within the Undermarket. Once I was back to wearing my original face, I headed towards Amaranth’s place, entering through the back entrance.

He stood in the midst of the main room, still wearing his natural appearance. The pipe that he held in one hand contrasted heavily with the image he projected, but the attitude matched it perfectly.

”What the fuck was that, Edge? What have you gotten me into?”
>>
No. 672726 ID: 0ee153

"Don't tell me the master manipulator is suddenly out of his depth with a novice Solar, an idealist Abyssal, and a Lunar.

And you were already in it, O fellow servant of the Yozis. We both were. Now the difference is we know more of what we're in. Didn't you say you were being countered by an unseen, unknown opponent? Didn't you say you wanted to know more about the local Essence-users? How did you expect to learn?"
>>
No. 672731 ID: 7a6915

>>672726
Seconded. Frankly, this should be a bonanza of information that Amaranth knows and can use as long as she can keep the others from catching on that she's 'Courage.' Ask her if she needs help managing the complexities, and whether we should slot something other than meeting the the other member of their group second thing in the morning (after breakfast with Graceful Blossom). It probably should be meeting them in case that is 'Embattled Justice' or someone else we already know, but we are obligated to help Amaranth with investigating (and if favourable) acquiring the prospective akuma according to an agreed plan.
Add that some backup against the dynasts would be lovely, and now we've got some....
>>
No. 672738 ID: 149da0

>What the fuck was that, Edge? What have you gotten me into?
I got you into exactly what I planned to get myself into. Provided she didn't lead me into a trap, using the oath to protect my identity while learning who and what we were dealing with was the plan all along.

Granted, I did not plan on my backup being spotted and dragged along, but once you had been made bringing you with me was the only real option. A third cousin would go beyond the plausible after rebuking two, a covert tail was not feasible with an eye in the sky, and leaving you behind could have meant walking into a trap alone.

Your presence did serve to reveal Crimson; I'm not sure he would have descended, much less spoken, had you not been there. And the two of us together presented a much stronger face- rather than my appearing as a lone representative of a strange and distant power, we appeared as agents of an organization at work.

And as for yourself, I gave you exactly what you wanted. You now know who and what the other essence users you must work around are, while they remain ignorant of your face or name in this place, and are oath bound not to work against you. I've effectively taken several powerful pieces of the board for you.

>what else
Once we've calmed her down, we should ask if she had the chance to sneak an Essence-dissecting Stare (maybe learn the constraints on that truth charm?). Or if she has any insight into what Myria or Crimson said or said, since she knew both of them longer than you, and in their 'civilian' identities.

We should also probably share that Myria took the bait of curiosity. Depending on how that goes, we might be able to use her as an asset (the favors), make her a bride, or perhaps tempt her into enlisting.

Also feel like we should discuss Crimson's sister. If she's here and he knows not where, there's a not unreasonable chance she's wrapped up in the slave trade. Something to keep an eye out for, lest Amaranth's efforts lead her to work against Crimson. That, and I'm sure if either of you locates her before he does, we'll be able to use that to our advantage. (I don't suppose either of you knows essence tricks for locating people?).
>>
No. 672774 ID: 7a6915

>>672738
The easiest way to rescue a slave without disrupting the slave trade is to buy them. Not disrupting the slave trade isn't Amaranth's mission though, subverting the abolitionists is.
>>
No. 672985 ID: 5a02f7
File 144331319302.png - (67.88KB , 750x750 , 247.png )
672985

>>672726

”Don’t tell me the master manipulator is suddenly out of his depth with a novice Solar, an idealist Abyssal, and a Lunar,” I said wryly.

Amaranth took a long draw from his pipe, breathing it out in a sigh, ”I didn’t say anything about being out of my depth, I asked what the fuck you got me into.”

>>672738

“I got you into exactly what I planned to get myself into. Provided she didn’t lead me into a trap, using the oath to protect my identity while learning who and what we were dealing with was the plan all along. Didn’t you say you wanted to learn more about the local Essence-users? How did you expect to learn?”

“By not revealing the biggest secret that we’ve been entrusted with,”
he growled.

”Saying our existence is our biggest secret is terribly unimaginative, Amaranth.”

He ran a hand over his face, frowning at the feeling as though his skin didn’t fit properly, ”Just – next time you’re going to make such a big move, let me know ahead of time so I don’t nearly bite off my own tongue when you lead with the truth, okay?”

I smirked, ”I’ll try to warn you, but I make no guarantees. It was a net-gain in the end – you now know who and what the other Essence-users you must work around are, while they remain ignorant of your face or name in this place, and are oath-bound not to work against you. I’ve effectively taken several powerful pieces off the board for you.”

He finally sat among the pillows of his usual spot, his movements less agitated than before, ”I just wasn’t expecting such a big opening move – by the Principle, you’re good enough that sometimes I forget how good you are,” he pointed the pipe at me, ”That’s not a compliment.”

I chuckled but said no more on the subject, ”Did you have a chance to analyze the charms they used?”

Amaranth nodded, ”Whatever charm Myria had was already up when I got there, so I couldn’t learn more about it. Crimson used a charm to talk, which did exactly that. That was all I saw.”

I hummed as I digested that information, ”Do you have any insight into what Myria or Crimson said? You’ve known them both longer than I have.”

He leaned back, ”Myria’s always been a mystery, and finding out that she’s an Abyssal Exalted of strong Essence makes me only more confused at why she’s doing what she’s doing. Maybe she just wants a normal life – that seems like a pretty dumb reason to accept an Exaltation, but that’s the only thing she’s been seeming to pursue while I’ve known her. About Crimson’s sister, this is the first I’ve heard of it.”

“If she’s here, there’s a not-unreasonable chance she’s been captured and put into slavery; something to keep an eye out for, at the least.”


Amaranth gestured, ”I can’t do anything off of “Eastern girl who might be a slave.” Get me some more information, and I’ll see what I can do. You’re right, though – if we can find her, that’d definitely gain his favor.”

I paused for a beat before switching topics, ”Myria took the bait of curiosity. She’s told me a bit in exchange for some basic information about herself. Depending on how that goes, we might be able to use her as an asset, make her a Bride, or perhaps even tempt her into enlisting in the Reclamation.”

He studied me, frowning, ”Be careful, Edge. If it gets out that you’re selling our secrets, you’ll get the worst for it.”

-------------------------

”Yeah, how did you manage that?” Kamai interrupted.
>>
No. 673004 ID: 91cfcf

"I work for the Ebon Dragon. The literal embodiment of treachery. He doesn't expect or particularly approve of loyalty from me."
>>
No. 673014 ID: 149da0

>next time you’re going to make such a big move, let me know ahead of time so I don’t nearly bite off my own tongue when you lead with the truth, okay?
I honestly thought we had. Guess we accidentally forgot to bring up that detail when we got sidetracked working out the terms of our alliance deal.

>Whatever charm Myria had was already up when I got there, so I couldn’t learn more about it
I'm reasonably certain it's a truth detecting ability. Checking our intent is the only way asking us to agree to make promises before the oath makes sense. It would be nice to know the limits or constraints, though.

(Might be worth arranging some scenario where Amaranth is in place to see her cast it).

>Myria's actions here don't make sense
>Maybe she just wants a normal life?
Or the life she's leading her is simply a safe cover, or provides her access to facilitate another goal. Her job means a lot of information passes through her hands- maybe there's something in particular she's looking for.

>what else do
Per keeping Amaranth in the loop, lay out what leads you're probably following tomorrow. (There's at least the meeting with Sienna and Myria). Also see if he has anything pertaining to his own plans to bring up we might need to be aware of, or provide assistance with.


>”Yeah, how did you manage that?” Kamai interrupted.
Selling secrets is only treasonous if you place them in the hands of the enemy, and allow your enemy to use those secrets. Provided I left her unwilling or unable to use those secrets against our cause, no treachery was committed. Secrets are safe so long as they are contained.

Of course, telling you how that was resoleved at this point in the story would be spoilers.
>>
No. 673016 ID: 7a6915

"Besides, I thought I wasn't giving away anything that was secret considering the company involved. Do you really think the Abyssal exalted did not already know about us? Where did the solar exaltations used to make us Green Sun Princes--and Princesses--come from?
"It is also the mission of the followers of The Ebon Dragon to lie, cheat and corrupt. I set my sights on the greatest corruption possible that would advance the Reclamation: Turning the exalted weapons of the gods used against the primordials non-hostile, and even friendly if I could manage it. If you have useful alternative ideas how to convince the weapons of the Gods to serve the Yozis willingly besides tricking them into becoming akuma, I await your wisdom."
>>
No. 673018 ID: 149da0

>Do you really think the Abyssal exalted did not already know about us?
Uh, indications were she didn't. Unless you're taking the position she was faking the surprise she and interest she showed.
>>
No. 673108 ID: 7a6915

>>673018
I'm taking the position that the Neverborn knew, so the big secret of the existence of the Green Sun Princes was never fully secret to begin with, and trying to fudge those details. ;)
>>
No. 673135 ID: 91cfcf

>>673108
That would just suggest Edge was horribly naive. The Neverborn and Deathlords don't tell their servants everything.
>>
No. 673139 ID: a107fd

>>673004
Even moreso, another act of villainy: Infernal Genius Declaration. The Pyre Within Which Thoughts Are Burned has fire at her center, and fire wants to be seen.
>>
No. 673184 ID: 7a6915

>>673135
That's insane, there's another whole faction of solar exalts they know about--and have something resembling formal relations with--and they don't tell their people about it? I'd call bullshit, but this could be the plot-hole ass-pull nonsense the designers went through to retcon in a new faction of exalted so they could sell more supplements, this being a White Wolf product and all....
>>
No. 673205 ID: 149da0

>>673108
I would not at all be surprised if the Yozi and the Neverborn were keeping significant secrets from each other. Logically, they should have common interests, but I could see both sides sort of looking at the other and thinking despite that, there's something fundamentally wrong with the other.
>>
No. 673242 ID: 7a6915

>>673205
Of course they've got secrets from each other. The Yozis can't keep secret from the Neverborn that the Neverborn gave them fifty solar exaltations from the jade prison, can they?
>>
No. 673258 ID: 5a02f7
File 144340613834.png - (96.88KB , 750x750 , 248.png )
673258

>>673004

”I work for the Ebon Dragon, the literal embodiment of treachery.

>>673014

“Of course, telling you how that was resolved at this point in the story would be spoilers.”


Kamai puffed out her cheeks in a pout, ”Man, I wish Kimbery was that okay with shit like that.”

“No, you don’t,”
Lintha corrected, ”The All-Mother is perfect just as she is.”

Kamai rolled her eyes like she had already heard this a hundred times. She motioned for me to continue.

-------------------------

>>673139

”I thought you would approve of that; after all, the Pyre Within Which Thoughts Are Burned has fire at her center, and fire wants to be seen.”

Amaranth frowned, ”Fire wants to burn more than that, and to continue burning, it needs to not be put out by nosy little Abyssals with more curiosity than restraint,” he blew out a plume of smoke, gesturing with his pipe, ”But do whatever you want; it’s your neck on the line, not mine.”

“Regarding Myria, it might be worth arranging you seeing her cast that charm so that you can analyze its limits or constraints.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but I don’t know how you’d swing that. Maybe invite me to an impromptu secret-sharing session? I don’t think she’d approve.”


I paused a moment in thought, ”Maybe the life she’s leading is simply a cover. Her job means a lot of information passes through her hands – maybe there’s something in particular that she’s looking for.”

He leaned back, ”That’s a solid line of reasoning; the question is what, though. Maybe you can figure it out, hmm? You certainly have a better chance than I do – after all, she likes you better than me.”

I blinked, ”Really? But she hardly knows Mirth.”

Amaranth grinned, ”Both of you. I’ve never heard her talk so much as when you’re around. I don’t know what it is about you, but it’s something that she wants.”

I shifted, a little uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking, ”Tomorrow, I’m planning on having breakfast with Graceful Blossom. I’ll meet with Sienna at midday to be taken to their fourth circlemate, and from there, I’ll ask her to show me to Myria’s stall as Mirth.”

“Sounds like a busy day wooing ladies,”
he smirked.

I ignored that, ”Is there anything pertaining to your own plans that you’d like to bring up? Something I should be aware of or provide assistance with?”

He took another draw from his pipe, ”I have a feeling that there’s some trouble brewing between the gangs. I’d keep an eye out for it, lest you get caught in the middle of it,” he pointed the pipe at me to emphasize his words, ”Remember, you may have contacts with Akhar’s people, but I’m playing the other side, so watch out just how much you help them, all right?”

I nodded, ”Got it.”

Amaranth let out a long breath, ”Anything else you need, or can I finally get to bed?”
>>
No. 673286 ID: 149da0

>I don’t know how you’d swing that. Maybe invite me to an impromptu secret-sharing session? I don’t think she’d approve.
No. It would have to be Amaranth in a non-threatening identity in a position to observe, at a time or place Myria wouldn't have the truth detector up, and then give her a reason to turn it on. (I assume it's not on all the time, and that there's essence cost to activate or maintain it, and/or that one casting only lasts so long).

>Both of you. I’ve never heard her talk so much as when you’re around. I don’t know what it is about you, but it’s something that she wants.
Huh. That's interesting. So it's not just the secrets we hold piquing her interest.

>Anything else you need, or can I finally get to bed?
No, not at all. I'll leave you to your beauty sleep.
>>
No. 673302 ID: 7a6915

"Mm, our plans for Embattled Justice probably hinge on who their fourth circle mate is and discovering more about him. You have more people in town than I do, might speed things up to do a bit of gentle digging if you've got people you would trust to handle something like that with adequate delicacy. If you don't have anyone you're confident in or don't want to that's your business though.
"Also, if we're both invested in different sides of a gang war we should at least consider managing that to our mutual advantage. It is late though."
>>
No. 673997 ID: 5a02f7
File 144364475336.png - (85.63KB , 750x750 , 249.png )
673997

>>673302

”If we’re both invested in different sides of a gang war, we should at least consider managing that to our mutual advantage.”

“I’ll think on it,”
Amaranth replied.

”Our plans for Embattled Justice probably hinge on who their fourth circlemate is and discovering more about her. You have more people in town than I do, might speed things up to do a bit of gentle digging if you’ve got people you would trust to handle something like that with adequate delicacy.”

“You get me a name, and I’ll get you information,”
he said.

>>673286

“For you to see the charm that Myria uses, you’d have to be in a non-threatening identity in a position to observe, at a time or place she wouldn’t have the charm up, and then give her a reason to turn it on.”

He took a draw from his pipe, ”That’s a good plan. Set me something up and let me know how it goes,” he blew out smoke as he rose, ”I take it that’s it?”

I nodded, ”I’ll leave you to your beauty sleep.”

Amaranth sighed, waving half-heartedly, ”Gods know I need it.”

-------------------------

The trek back to my inn was uneventful. A different clerk from the one I was used to seeing in the day was managing the counter. No messages had been left for me, but that didn’t surprise me, with how busy Graceful Blossom said she had been.

My pillow was welcoming, and sleep found me quickly.
>>
No. 673998 ID: 5a02f7
File 144364477447.png - (67.06KB , 750x750 , 250.png )
673998

>>
No. 674001 ID: 99cfa8

>>673998
Engage self makeouts.
>>
No. 674012 ID: 149da0

>>674001
Are those both us? Only one of them is wearing the scarf, which is probably more central to Edge's identity than any of the face's he's adopted. Just going by the hair poof, the scarf-less one could be Edge, Mirth, or Kamai.

...offer other silhouette your arm for a dreamtime dance.
>>
No. 674023 ID: 0ee153

I'm guessing this is his failure. The scarf used to be someone else's and it's a memento of someone who died in Edge's adventure at the Shadowland. Hair poof is Edge pre-Exaltation.
>>
No. 674033 ID: 5a02f7
File 144365325845.png - (70.53KB , 750x750 , 251.png )
674033

>>674012
>>
No. 674040 ID: 149da0

>>674023
Seems the most likely explanation, for now.

>>674033
Silly! Your hands missed.
>>
No. 674064 ID: 7a6915

Oh hello... you're about to teach us something, aren't you? I guess we aren't allowed to make notes if it's being done this way.
>>
No. 674105 ID: 5a02f7
File 144367530060.png - (33.76KB , 750x750 , 252.png )
674105

>>674064
>>
No. 674106 ID: 5a02f7
File 144367532111.png - (37.97KB , 750x750 , 253.png )
674106

>>
No. 674107 ID: 149da0

>>674106
Go to the window. Scarf must want you to see something.
>>
No. 674110 ID: 7a6915

Prepare to jump and/or be pushed from the window, but sure... let's follow the script and look out the window.
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