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6514 No. 6514 ID: 3a325b

The Tower of Ages

The world is in turmoil; as the Age of Sorrows turns towards the future, the face of Creation changes every day. The edifice of the Realm, once so powerful, has lost its central pillar, the Empress; the supports that have been hastily erected to keep it standing are cracking, and if they are not held, soon the Scarlet Empire will collapse upon itself. The kings and queens of old, bright with the essence of the sun, have returned; and their light entices other ancient powers from the shadowed corners where they have hidden so long. A multitude of forces, terrifying and glorious, do battle with each other over the fate of the world. All the while, the kingdoms of mortal men still struggle to survive.

On the fifth night of Calibration, six years after the disappearance of the Empress and the return of the Solars, a great tremor rocked the entire world. When the Unconquered Sun returned to the skies, those eyes that turned north saw a sight that baffled the eyes and boggled the imagination; a great tower rose from the horizon. So tall it was that its top was lost in the storm-driven clouds of the far North, and so broad that even on the slopes of the Imperial Mountain a clear day and a keen eye could see its line against the sky, tilted like the spear of a drunken behemoth.
No. 6515 ID: 3a325b

An expedition from the Kingdom of Tarak, one of the closest nations to the formerly barren and icy wastes where the tower had appeared, had set out to explore and to judge the wonders and the dangers that it might bring their lands. Following the track of ancient roads cracked and broken from Ages past, and crossing those mountain passes and flattest fields that would spare them the harshest conditions of the North, they have met many other groups and individuals who seek the tower themselves, and in the custom of the frozen land these travelers have walked together. The land was still dangerous… though less than might have been expected. In lands as those, where the hands of man had long passed away, the touch of the Wyld that waited beyond the world should have at least been glimpsed; but neither ice nor stone nor small and hardened tree bore any hint of the twist of chaos, and not the barest glimpse of the strange and lethal creatures that dwelt in it was to be found.

The tower is as broad across as the largest cities of the world, and as the travelers draw nearer to it, its dark shape against the sky each night is speckled - barely, thinly - with tiny glimmers of firelight. It is soon after this that they first witness the shaping of the land it has brought; crossing a ridge one day, a blinding light pains the eyes of anyone who looks upon a vast swathe of sand and stone. It glows with all the intensity of the desert sun, shimmering with heat; those brave enough to pass the barrier of violently writhing air about it and the sudden shift to the heat within find gems lying bright across the ground, all colours, all sizes. The cracks in the roasting rock are filled with the coarse black powder of firedust, and those who venture furthest without collapsing from the searing air glimpse the half-buried stones of some ancient, unknown structure, choked beyond exploration by sand and yet unweathered. Yet further wonders wait. Dense pockets of forest, dense and shadowed with the primal darkness of ancient wood, conceal the seamless, curved surfaces of an empty fortress. A shining river of the freshest, purest water skips and dances not feet away from walls of ice banded with age, while a deep lake of water not far beyond is clear and warm and salty to the tongue.

On the edge of a thick, humid jungle wedged between barren, frosted cliffs; on a night where the full moon rides high over clouds streaming in the sweep of powerful winds, those who seek to reach the tower make their camp. The winds of the North howl as they do without cease, but seem distant, while the chirp and squawk and hum of unseen creatures emanates from the sweltering darkness of the trees. Over their days and weeks of travel together, some of the travelers have gotten to know each other; some have not. Perhaps, while tents are set but sleep is not yet here, while food is eaten and the horses and beasts of burden are laid to rest, they might choose to meet.
No. 6525 ID: cf244d

King Tarn finished giving the orders for making camp. The watch perimeter was established, tents were pitched, and the night's meal was being rationed out to the troops. The small band of scholars which Tarn had brought were huddled together, discussing whatever scholarly matters pleased them. The group had also picked up a fair handful of others, traveling to the new land. A motley assembly of entrepreneurs, yahoos, and would-be adventurers. Local boys hoping to strike rich, mostly. They all had small bags of gems and firedust by now, and could go home and be wealthy, but of course they hoped for more. Why not? King Tharn hoped for more too. Some of the camp followers were a bit more unusual, though. A pair of dragonbloods with the look of the east about them, one aged and one armored, and some tattooed folks.
Tharn grew curious of them.
He pulled aside a battlefield messenger. "Invite those foreign folks to eat at my fire. And have the cook prepare a proper meal for them as well."
No. 6527 ID: f61995

Consider for a moment the fire. Some my call it a purifying force, while others see it as destructive, though one cannot wonder if it can’t be both. Fundamentally, it tears things down, yes. It breaks matter, essence, souls down to their component parts, but in the end, perhaps this is not a bad thing. If you choose to take a longer view, another truth becomes evident, as the fire washes away the old; it brings hope for the new.

Fire is not an aberration of nature; it has its place in that great cycle. There comes a time when a wildfire must destroy much of what has come before, to allow room for a grander future. But used unwisely it can leave nothing but ash in its wake, burning down the future along with the trappings of the past.

Now let our gaze expand further for a moment, to consider the soldier sitting in the shadows of the flame. Easy standing a head taller then an ordinary man in her armor, the smooth joints and plates where, for the moment, perfectly still. The flames were reflected in the visor, casting away the light, asking for nothing, and so taking nothing. One gauntleted hand moved over to one of the heavier shoulder plates, out of which a heavy knife was smoothly plucked. She held it in her hands for a few minutes, doing a few tricks as she looked over the camp.

There was fire in her blood. Every motion carried with it a sense of urgency, even in her stillness, and in her shroud of jadesteel she conveyed a passion, an inner light that was impossible to hide. The question still remained however, what kind of flame would she be?

“Hmm?” Hikaru slide the knife away quickly, almost jumping when she heard the messenger approach, so lost was she in her thoughts. She missed her home. It wasn’t something she would ever admit, certainly not while among strangers, but it was true none the less. She would not fail in her service to Lookshy though, much trust had been given to her. “Tell your Lord… I will be there shortly.” Her voice was roughened by the breathing filters in the suit, giving the tone a mechanical edge.

And so, she found herself approaching the other group, burnished red and black settling down beside the offered fire though obviously not totally at ease. “Thank you for the company your Highness. I’m afraid I’ve already eaten though.”
No. 6559 ID: b6178d

Elmes Gant rested alone beneath the heavy boughs of tropical trees as the camp settled in for the night, positioned so that he could keep an eye on the various people and factions of travellers. Largest by far, dotting the ground with camp- and cookfires, was King Tharn's expedition, numerous military men and camp followers, a gaggle of scholars, riding animals aplenty and, of course, the noble king himself, a man of great bearing. A man to watch, and potentially serve. Yet others attracted interest as well. The lone Lookshyan terrestrial more than most, armed and armoured as she was in artifacts of a grander age; a well-equipped warrior if there ever was one, imposing and dangerous. Elsewhere a stunningly beautiful Haltan woman continued to turn heads, despite many of these having already found affection in her arms. Her brown burnished skin was perfect, smooth and well-tattooed, and her demeanour disarmingly charming. A pleasing sight for sore eyes.

Further off stalked another tattooed person, a muscular, mute woman with an artifical arm. Few would dare to cross her, and fewer still survive the attempt as word in the camp had it she was Guarana Melo, the Vengeful Arm of the Ruby Earth, a lunar hero. Nobody had yet had the courage to ask her to prove it herself, but how many tattooed, artifact-armed women can there be in Creation? Though, of tattooed women at least, there seemed to be more. A red-haired woman, moving with effortless grace, sped past in the sweltering heat, seeming more bouyed than oppressed by the night-time warmth. A messenger, bearing Tarak's colours, sped from King Tharn's camp to wander between these personages.

Gant silently watched this, and considered his future, of which there did not appear to be much. His hairless dome was smooth and liver-spotted, his mustache and goatee white as the snows of the north, and his face was aged, full of lines and weathered skin. Despite his age, Elmes Gant of Watcher's Wake had proven himself spry and resourceful to the others in the past week or so since he had joined this band, and he had carefully intimated that he was knowledgeable as well, particularly about the First Age and its wonders. Where they were now such knowledge could be of no small value, after all, and Gant appreciated being valued.

Beyond this he had made little attempt to flaunt his terrestrial blood, letting people think as they wished. The sharp-spaded wrackstaff that he carried, made from clear blue jade and inset with an almost see-through hearthstone gem, was perhaps the most ostentatious display of elemental blood he carried, but other indications had cropped up for those wise and keen enough to spot them, he was sure.

Currently he was clad in blue fashionable traveller's robes of an eastern style, the material smooth, airy and silky, rather than course and warm as it had previously been. As the climes changed, he had spent a measure of his power to shift it to a more appropriate form and material, but he still kept them robe-shaped and blue. A dark, heavy cloak was usually draped over this robe, though at the moment, in this sweltering heat, he had delegated it to his seemingly bottomless pack and the cache egg within.

As the royal messenger finally approached him in turn, the dragon-blood wondered if, at that moment, opportunity was playing into his hands, or if he was being played into someone else's. He discarded the notion, as it mattered little either way. Gant had need of connections in the north, and of all the people gathered here King Tharn of Tarak was decidedly the one most powerful and influential, and would see the use in the skills and knowledge Gant could offer in exchange for patronage and help with his... condition. The main reason Gant had not chosen to approach the king yet on such a deal was simply that he did not want to appear desperate.

"His royal highness, King Tharn the Thunderous Winged Lance, of the House Tarak, Son of Arog the Crushing Steel Fist by Loryl of the House Hakust, invites you to dine with him and other guests this eve," said the messenger with customary pride and pompousness. Gant smiled politely, before replying in a manner that liltingly hinted of Lookshyan descent, just like the other armoured terrestrial, though the two did not associate. Yet, anyway, thought Gant.

"I am honored to receive such an offer, and accept your king's gracious invitation."

A short time later Gant arrived at King Tharn's tent, sniffing the air at the heady smell of spices. He easily spotted the other terrestrial, clad in her armour still she was hard to miss, but thoughts of food and company was quickly put aside in order to focus on the main event of the evening; his first real meeting with a king. Stepping to a respectable distance, he hesitated for a moment as he considered etiquette, then bowed subserviently low.

"It is an honour to meet you face-to-face at last, King Tharn. You are very gracious to invite one such as I to share a meal with one such as you. May your kingdom flourish."
No. 6601 ID: 55c4cf

Guarana stands quietly to herself with her eyes trained up towards the sky for a long time. Nobody bothered her, and she did not bother anyone else. She had no intention of letting people know for sure who she was, but judging by strangers' reactions many of them must know anyway.

When a messenger comes to her specifically asking her to go make company with the king, she simply nods and begins to walk. Any offer to a nice meal was not one she was likely to refuse.

It was very possible that the King was extending the invite as pretense of a request, and that was what she looked forward to more than food in her belly.
No. 6602 ID: 0ec2e4

[I'm on my lappy and I don't remember my trip, but will write it down next time I'm on my desktop]

Warmth. Glorious, permeating warmth. Adrianna reveled in it, twirling about beneath the canopy of the jungle she tread through, closing her eyes and breathing deep of the humid air, listening to the myriad of sounds the denizens of the otherworldly forest made. It was a welcome respite from the harsh, bitter cold of the North, a biting chill which froze her to her core, leaving her sluggish and lethargic whenever exposed to it. But here, in this bastion of lush tropical heat, she felt more alive than ever before. She gave a soft sigh as she paused her cavorting, taking seat upon a fallen trunk before pulling out a small pouch filled with those odd gems that had been lying about the desert area they had passed previous, pulling out one of the shining relics and holding it up to the moonlight, giving it a criticizing eye. Yes, they should fetch a decent price, once she managed to get back to civilization. Her gaze then shifted to the side, fixating on the massive tower that dominated the sky, a grin spreading upon her face. But in there...holds far greater wealth and treasures that no gem can match.

Her solemn reflection was interrupted by the approach of the King's messenger. Tharn was an interesting man, to say the least. Well maybe interesting is the wrong word. Trusting, perhaps. He had made no qualm when she had happened upon his convoy, allowing her the opportunity to traverse across the strange shifting terrain that surrounded the tower, nor had he any qualm when more had appeared to join with him. If her life had taught her anything, it was to be wary of anyone and everyone - and that went double for Dragonblooded. So imagine her surprise when not one, but two had shown up, also on their way to the Tower. The first one hadn't been so bad - an aged old man, looking more scholar than warrior. Not much of a threat. But then there was the other - a shining centurion in armor from ages past, built for war and war alone. She had kept her distance, watching from afar, skirting the realm of caution for more information but daring not a direct confrontation. At least she felt more at ease when two others of her own kind had appeared one day, though the bulk of that relief came from the self-titled Vengeful Arm of the Ruby Earth, Guaruana Melo. If those Dragonblooded were up to anything, they'd be in for a hell of a fight.

"His royal highness, King Tharn the Thunderous Winged Lance, of the House Tarak, Son of Arog the Crushing Steel Fist by Loryl of the House Hakust, invites you to dine with him and other guests this eve." The messenger spouted in a well-rehearsed and practiced manner. No doubt this wasn't the first time he'd had to recite those words. Adrianna turned her gaze away from the messenger, looking back up at that Tower, before pocketing the gem once more and giving a nod, standing up and brushing dirt from her robes. "Who am I to turn down the prospect of a free meal, eh? Aye, I'll come. Lead the way for me, lad."
No. 6636 ID: 13b3e1

Elicia skipped along the camp, looking for people who looked unhappy. She hummed as she walked gracefully, her braided hair trailing slightly behind her. She stopped to admire the view, tilting her hands up, her hips swaying slightly from momentum.

She was quite enjoying herself, having met a lot of new people, extracted their life stories, and then spent the night with them. Among them was a formidable suit of armor, its wearer hidden beneath the fine jade. She had also noticed a rather old man, who seemed to be watching everyone carefully, although she found it difficult to tell when he was watching her apart from the normal amount of attention and stares she got.

She had not failed to notice the two other Lunars. She had heard the legends of Guarana Melo, but she had never seen them, and part of her had not believed they were true. She intimidated Elicia slightly, making her shy away from her a bit. The other seemed a bit secluded, which of course set Elicia's curiosity off like wildfire. She determined to meet her and learn a bit about her sometime soon.

The King's messenger arrived, whom Elicia greeted like an old friend, listening to his message intently. She had not yet met King Tharn, perhaps saving the best for last, and was excited at the prospect of finally saying hello to him. She hummed a tune as she followed behind the messenger, her good spirits leading her to walk a little silly.
No. 6651 ID: 30ec21

The preparations for the meal were made with practiced speed. A keen eye could spot some discomfort and frustration among the King's servants - they didn't have the full regalia of decorations and comforts that they were used to providing with such a feast, and they were nervous of the beings of power who were coming to attend - but such feelings were covered expertly, by mortal standards. Ground was cleared, sheets placed and what approximations of cushions could be found were prepared as seats; the only actual chair in the group was given, of course, to the King himself, albeit with nervous glances at those guests who bore the marks of divine power.

Torches were set on tall poles, lined to either side. A large fire dug at the bottom of the "table" was soon bearing the responsibility of preparing a number of freshly-caught beasts and fish; after a few of the less well-off travelers were brave enough to try them first, the creatures that lived in the misplaced lands had added greatly to the group's sustenance. Soon the space between the fire and the King's chair was filled with dishes of the finest food that the camp had to offer, and the guests were politely guided into place: on one side, the Dragon-Blooded, along with the commander of the King's own forces at his right hand; the other guests opposite them. The servants eyed the group nervously, and made busywork for themselves, while many of the King's other followers kept their distance.
No. 6680 ID: 78075a


Hikaru's trained and hardened mind sliced through the illusion the moment they approached, but thanks to her helmet there was no noticeable reaction for them to play off of. She had marked them as soon as they had gotten together, but had no chance to speak with them yet. Getting to know these so called anathema would be a fascianting experience.

The Immaculate Faith had its talons much looser in the city of Lookshy then the realm. It wasn't unheard of for some to ignore it all together and follow their own beliefs, and as long as they served Lookshy first among all others, such heresy was tolerated. Hikaru herself maintained the belief that much of the Immaculate Order was merely a front for the Scarlet Empress to maintain control over the mind and spirits of her peers.

Regardless, the warrior bent over, heer heaqd cocked curiously at the gathered Children of the Moon. "Its a rare treat to find myself in the company of... What do you call yourselves? Stewards? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Chozei Elysius, of the Crimson Dragon. It is a pleasure."

Her voice, from inside the suit was clipped, and maintained a mechanical edge that stifled the tone.
No. 6681 ID: f5fe2f

As the guests from the far corners of Creation enter, beginning to introduce themselves to each other, Tharn stands.

"greetings, my honored guests. I am King Tharn the Thunderous Winged Lance, of the House Tarak, Son of Arog the Crushing Steel Fist by Loryl of the House Hakust, though in the interests of convenience you may simply call me King Tharn. I am King of Tarak, and the leader of the army with which you have been traveling. I requested your presence this evening because you are rumored to be potent individuals. Both children of the dragons and... otherwise. I would be pleased to learn who these remarkable people that travel with me are."
No. 6687 ID: 3922ab

Gant let himself be distracted as he looked appreciatively at the bounty of well-prepared food being set before him, but as the king adressed the guests he turned to the standing man and inclined his head respectfully from his sitting position on the pillows, acknowledging the king's honouring of his guests.

"If you want to know of me, King Tharn, I'll answer whatever questions you may have, though I'm sure there are more interesting tales at this table than mine," he responded and glanced past his full plate at the three tattooed persons sitting opposite him. A wry smile slipped past his tarnished teeth and made a decent attempt at trying to be non-threatening. If the lookshy woman wanted to confront these potential lunars with their nature, she was welcome to, as long as she did not cause trouble. Gant himself was curious, but he did not want to appear like he was prying either.

"Still, seeing as I seem to have the word, I shall seize it for a moment. I am Elmes Gant of Watcher's Wake--call me Gant--and I am also dragon-blooded, of air, rather than fire. I am not, however my accent may lie, of Lookshy, nor of the Empire for that matter. They would call me an outcaste, mainly for not being of their alliegiances and beliefs," he said, snorting a bit derisively and sending a wary look at Hikaru, who was seated beside him, but he was unable to read her expression with the helmet on. In some ways he was as nervous of her armoured form and the connection she surely tendered to the Gens of Lookshy as he was of the suspected lunars, but he wasn't about to let any nervousness show in either case.

"No offense intended to you, Elysius, but I like to think that being raised differently makes me no less capable than any gens or dynast. I dare say my knowledge are most equal or better, at least. I am grounded in the ancient and esoteric, in crafts and the lore of artifacts and their make, as well as martial arts. That said, while I may look old, I am not quite a true master of these things. My master and sifu, Elmes Pelet of Watcher's Wake, was, but I've yet to match him. Not too surprising, given that he died only a few moons ago, and here sit I, there but for the grace of the elemental dragons."

At this Gant paused and sighed, apparently realizing recent death wasn't perhaps the best thing to bring up at a dinner table. Looking apologetically at the others, he picked up whatever passed for cutlery among the Tarak, and began spearing the food with vigor. If it tasted half as good as it looked, he would walk from this table a sated man however the conversation went.

"Please excuse me and carry on introducing yourselves to the King, I'm just rambling like an old man again. I swear, I'm not always like this. Just when I talk to people, apparently," he said and excused himself from talking further with a wan smile and the bringing of food to his mouth. It tasted exactly as he suspected after months on the road; delicious.
No. 6706 ID: 55c4cf

She stepped to an empty seat nearby the King. She sits herself down and adjusts her gear and form quietly. She folds her hands in her lap and averts her gaze from time to time between the speakers after spending the first few seconds watching the King.

She spoke no words, she only shared her fierce unrelenting gaze of attentiveness with the other exalted guests.

Her skin was a caramel brown. Her short ambiguous hair a dark orange-red that might as well be black. Her warm orange speckled eyes following the movements, words, micro-expressions, the most subtle things in each of their actions. Those are what she watched.
Her body was covered from foot to neck with wraps or a tight fighting reinforced leather like suit. It didn't hide her artificial arm whatsoever, but anything else underneath was masked beyond her face. The markings upon her face darkening and lighting sections of her face to give a sometimes appearance of the totem inside of her.

Guarana watches. Guarana sits. Guarana experiences the aromas of everyone and everything. Silently judging.
No. 6707 ID: ca7bd5

Adrianna took seat next to Guaruana, giving the Lunar Legend a polite nod before oohing at the royal spread set before those gathered. Her tongue flicked out for just the briefest of moments, then licked over her lips as the aroma of cooked and spiced meat hit her senses.

She glanced up as the metal maiden on the other side of the table spoke, herself giving a soft shrug as she sat back. "Iffin' you want. And likewise. Tis rare to be seeing one in such...exotic and ancient gear. Impressive, quite." As Elmes began to ramble on, the lunar's attention turned more and more to the feast before her eyes. She was nearly drooling before King Tharn's gaze settled on her, the woman pausing and giving a sheepish little grin, straightening back up and giving a polite nod. "Ah. yes. The name's Adrianna. But you can call me Lady Blightfang. Good moniker, methinks. Come from the West, aye. Not just for the tower 'ere, eh? Been wanderin' all over Creation for a good bit o' time now, lookin' fer all sorts of lost and buried treasure. Caught wind of this here monstrosity, and the possible treasures it might be holdin' within...so, well. Here I be!"
No. 6713 ID: e79a65

Gant chewed on his food with an expression of delight as Adrianna introduced herself. As she finished there was a gap in conversation that nobody quite seemed to fill, particularly not the silently mute and watchful Guarana, and so the seemingly old terrestrial decided to fill the gap by speaking up again. Letting things become awkward would not help fostering cooperation, after all.

"A good choice on your part, I think. If what we have seen so far is any indication, there's plenty of riches to go around... perhaps more so than even in the scavenger lands. The scavenger lands have, after all, been picked over for hundreds of years, while this tower has only been here for a comparatively short while. We won't have been the first here, but the king's expedition might be the best-prepared yet. More so if he receives the aid of skilled treasure hunters like yourself, Lady Blightfang."
No. 6719 ID: 13b3e1

Elicia yawned as she entered the dining hall, scanning the room for interesting people. She noticed Adrianna seated and skipped over to her, frowning slightly when she notices she's next to Guarana, but undeterred. She plops down on the other side of Adrianna and greets them both with a friendly wave, casting a cursory glance over the food presented.

"Hi! I'm Elicia," she chirps, smiling. "I don't have a fancy name like you two. I just tend to go by my own." She casts her gaze over the other two. "Hello to you also! I hope you don't mind me traveling with you. It just seemed like some fun. I can make myself useful somehow, I'm sure."
No. 6812 ID: 2aa2f1

"You're from the Scavenger Lands? Perhaps there is something to being raised in a way outside of Lookshy's scope, but I would have to point out the very fact you where allowed to grow without outside interference was because of Lookshy's efforts." The Realm was always hungry for land and secrets there. Lookshy was always there to push them back, sometimes with allies, often alone. They where the shield that had prevented the entire place from being little more then another satrapy.

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised the tower has drawn all sorts here." She thought back to the grim thing, tall and enigmatic. Why had it appeared? Now of all times? One had to wonder, and hope that maybe it would house a secret that would finally let Lookshy decisively crush the Realm in its weakened state.

Without the Empress it was falling apart already though, perhaps all anyone needed to do was wait...
No. 6827 ID: 0ddb0e

Gant greeted the newest arrival with a nod and a smile. Elysius' comments on him being from the scavenger lands brings out a short inadvertent chuckle from him. She seemed rather eager to leap to conclusions. Rather than correct her immediately, the elderly man instead adressed the lovely Elicia.

"I'm sure you'll make yourself useful in many ways, miss Elicia. You are a bit late to the dinner, however, so allow me to introduce you to the others, since we've already made introductions."

Raising a wrinkled hand, a flourish is made towards his left, where Elysius sits. The flourish continues as he speaks, gesturing from himself, to Adrianna to Guarana.

"This impressively clad terrestrial of Lookshy beside me is Chozei Elysius, of the Crimson Dragon. I myself am Elmes Gant of Watcher's Wake, also a terrestrial, but not particularly aligned to any faction in Creation. Across from me sits the lady Adrianna, going by the moniker of Lady Blightfang. The silent, but formidable-looking woman across from Elysius has yet to introduce herself, I fear, but no matter."

The last comment comes with a shrug and a wave. Gant already had a good idea of whom the mute was, and if the rest were any wise to the lore of the world they would know of Guarana reputation as well. With his final gesture, he presented the king.

"And I hardly need to introduce King Tharn The Thunderous Winged Lance, the magnanimous leader of this expedition."

With that said he turns back to Elysius, peering at her artifact armour, trying to take in its make and type as he considers his next words.

"At any rate, as I was about to say, no, I am not from the scavenger lands, nor have I ever done more than simply pass through. I fear your words are a bit wasted on me, as Watcher's Wake lies along the northwestern edge of the Linowan nation. We were independent from them, of course, as many villages tend to be, so far from the main rivers the Linowans ply."
No. 6828 ID: f5fe2f

"Thank you, Gant." Tharn shifts into his seat. "A Lookshyan and an independent, and a few... wanderers, it seems. Including a lady, by claim. Though claiming a title means little by itself.
Hopefully you're all capable of handling the North, and whatever we might find with this tower."
Tharn glances towards Guarana. "You've not yet introduced yourself, nor said any other word, unless I'm mistaken. Do you not speak at all?"
No. 6862 ID: 55c4cf

Guarana turns towards the King, her attention to his words multiplied since he is asking something of her specifically. She lets him ask the question of whether or not she speaks, and gestures that: no, she does not. Guarana smiles, bows politely towards him, and resumes her position observing, and awaiting her dinner.
No. 6888 ID: 8210ba

Gant watched the exchange between Guarana and Tharn as he continued to sample the delicacies set before them by the king's cooks and servants. As he ate, he considered stepping in and offering to identify Guarana to king Tharn (for surely it must be her, she fit the description he had of the lunar hero to a tee), but then... that was not quite his choice, was it?

"Madam, I believe your name is already known to me. Normally I wouldn't speak for another, but I'd be honoured to present you to the king should you wish me to," he said and met Guarana's gaze with his own blue eyes, awaiting a nod or shake of the head. Her choice, then.
No. 6896 ID: 55c4cf

She raises her prosthetic hand towards Gant and bows her head and gently turns and wafts her hand to face her palm upwards. She dances the hand from Gant to the King, and lowers it slowly during the movement. Gesturing, if received, that she is honored to be introduced, and to proceed.
No. 6899 ID: 3995d5

"Ah, a wise choice, madam," Gant said, reading her intentions correctly, and his voice carried a tinge of approval as he looked to King Tharn and spoke again.

"Then, king Tharn of Tarak, know that you have to your table invited Guarana Melo, Vengeful Arm of the Ruby Earth, a lunar hero and fearless protector of the oppressed. She has quite a reputation from where she hails, and word had even reached us of her in isolated Watcher's Wake. As for her reason for being here, I can but speculate that it is the same as for all of us," he said and gestured at the giant edifice silhouetted against the dark star-filled night.
No. 6928 ID: 071797

The sound of the wind is ever-present this far North, but the strangeness of this region has dulled its howl to a distant whisper. Behind the words of their conversation, it's easy enough to pick up the sounds of the camp around them: murmurs of conversation, the the clank of equipment and the groanings of leather and canvas. The misplaced jungle nearby carries its own sounds, the chirp and squawk of nocturnal creatures. Strange and unfamiliar sounds to northerners, making it difficult to tell what might be right and might not. And yet...

Adrianna and Hikaru both catch... something... that sounds at odds with the heavily textured hush of the humid foliage, though they cannot discern much about it. Elicia's keen ears cut easily through the foreign background noise, however, to detect... people? Quite a few, and clearly trying to stay quiet!
No. 6934 ID: f5fe2f

"I don't suppose you can write, then, and communicate to some degree in that manner?"

Tharn gestures for the servants to step away a bit before speaking.
"Anathema, then, if what he said is true, and an enemy of the Realm. When next I formally meet with a representative of the realm I'll be obliged to mention your presence, if you don't deny his claim to your nature. I bear you no ill will personally, however, and you've done no harm while you've traveled with us, so as long as you continue to do no harm I'll abide your presence. I hope you'll not take my obligations as any insult, for I none is intended. I also request that this information not be spread around, we're facing enough uncertainty as it is in this land, and I'd rather avoid unnecessary morale problems, if possible."
No. 6948 ID: dad664

Adrianna busied herself with helping her plate to a smattering of foodstuffs, almost entirely meats as she dug into the feast laid before the group, occasionally looking up as she listened in on the conversation at hand. She kept quiet after her introduction, chewing her food quickly, before she paused and glanced back over her shoulder at the dense jungle surrounding them, a look of curiosity spreading over her face, before she gave a soft shrug and slowly turned her attention back to her meal, letting out a pleased noise at the taste.
No. 6968 ID: 040a35

Gant finished off another few slices of juicy meat and fruits as the king spoke. As silence fell again, he looked appraisingly at Tharn, one hand reaching up to scratch at his chinful of grey stubble. He hadn't pegged the king as one of the Realm's lapdogs... which probably meant the man was simply wisely covering his bases.

"I shall hold my silence on the matter if you wish, but would men of Tarak truly be so despondent if they knew the famed Guarana Melo was aiding your expedition? In this distant unexplored part of creation it would be natural to not refuse potential allies out of hand. After all, who is closer here, the Realm, or Guarana?"
No. 6973 ID: f5fe2f

"Perhaps, perhaps not. Anathema are not known for discretion in their actions, and while I'm sure any thinking being can behave perfectly acceptably, some of my men are likely to be concerned nonetheless. They know they march with strong warriors already, they need not also know that they march with those known to kill soldiers affiliated with states in service to the realm. For Tarak does still serve the Realm, despite distance, and despite the current turbulence. I'd no more see my people suffer from altercations with the Realm than from any other source of trouble. There are thus obligations which Tarak is behooved to fulfill. Nonetheless, I shall reject no ally for the time being. I am not so proud as to ignore the possibility that aid of this unusual source may be needed, and indeed I hope that we might all work together fruitfully in our exploration of the strange lands which we have entered."
No. 6977 ID: 55c4cf

Guarana takes a napkin off of the table, or whatever similar is available at the moment. She scrawls one word on it and slides it to the King and she forms a very thin smile.

It reads, "Maybe."
No. 7011 ID: fa057f

Gant chuckled briefly as Guarana slyly proffered the response napkin towards the king. Further inroads was made on the grand meal as the king's response was given, and the elderly exalt nodded happily in agreement.

"That is good news. You are not the only one to harbour such hopes, King Tharn. I suspect my investigation into this tower and its artifacts will become far more difficult and time-consuming were I to be on my own, and as you may have noticed, time is not something I have in abundance of late."
No. 7012 ID: 13b3e1

Elicia smiles at Tharn. "Strong warriors or no, I should think your warriors would rest easier with the thought of us here on their side. Rest easier indeed, with me here," she added, her smile turning sly.

Suddenly her keen ears perk up at the noise, her friendly demeanor dropping. She leans forward to taste the food, then sits up again, her ear twitching. She leans over and whispers to Adrianna, "Did you hear something? It sounded like a lot of men sidling around outside. Like they were trying to hide."
No. 7063 ID: dad664

Adrianna glanced over at Elicia with a mouthful of some sort of seasoned meat, before giving a shrug and swallowing, taking a drag from her beverage and glancing back into the forest. "Iunno...I though I heard something, but then again it could just be some animal being curious as to what's going on with us. Why, you wanna go check it out?"
No. 7117 ID: 13b3e1

Elicia frowns and curls a finger on her lip. "Hmmm... it sounded fairly distinct to me. I swear it sounded like a group of people trying to settle in and hide. Not just an animal." She sits up and discreetly coughs, trying to catch King Tarn's attention.
"Your Majesty, speaking of the usefulness of Lunars... I fear we may have unexpected guests."
No. 7132 ID: 4b3731

Gant raised an eyebrow at Elicia's warning. He himself might have seen through her guise, but with that she'd practically admitted herself as another Lunar to the king. What more... if her words were true, it could mean ill for the camp.

The old man looked at his meal with a sigh before he reached for the bag and the staff which he had deposited beside him.

"Your majesty... as the fine lady speaks, perhaps we should listen. This is not a land without dangers. Do you wish me to go investigate? If so, I'm fairly confident I can do so without attracting attention."
No. 7140 ID: f5fe2f

"Very well, then. It may well be nothing, but let us take the time to investigate. Hopefully it is indeed of little consequence."
Tharn waves a servant over.
"Tell the captains to make certain the men are alert and have their weapons about them. The mounts should be made ready as well, and have the Lance brought to me."
Turning back to his guests,
"It would seem my senses of perception are surpassed. How many men do you deem "a lot", Elicia? You hear no sounds of armor or horses, I take it? With luck it is merely some group of ne'er-do-wells or would-be bandits who are too foolish to realize that there is an entire ambush here. Or their purpose may be entirely harmless, though that is unlikely for those who would try stealth."
"Gant, if you're confident in your ability to remain undetected, then it would be good of you to employ it. Information is always to our benefit."
No. 7151 ID: 13b3e1

Elicia smiled grimly at him. "I can't tell all that from a few whispers in the wind, mi'lord. I just hear quite a few people plainly trying to stay quiet outside. It may be nothing, but... I doubt it highly."
No. 7169 ID: 2e281a

The servant gives her king a look of some anxiety at the order, realizing what it might mean. But of course she obeys, swiftly moving to alert the officers of his army. The foremost of them, seated right by the King's side, follows her with his eyes: the mortal man does not speak, however, instead turning his hard, lined face to watch the Exalted around the table.

Soon, soldiers who had been off duty are shifting from where they lay or sit by fires or in comfortable corners, pulling weapons closer to their sides, their chatter fading as they eye the darkness around the camp. Just as some begin to tighten armour to themselves once more, a sharp yell sounds, loud enough for everyone near the jungle's edge to hear, a cry of mingled alarm and command; someone has realized their stealth was broken, that much is clear, though the words they use are hard to catch. Lights flare in the shadow of the trees, that blackness deeper than the moonlight night beyond; fires struck with surprising speed. There is movement, caught by the edge of that faint flickering light. Bare moments after that one shout, and instantly as those flames are born, parts of those fires separate, lift and suddenly streak up, out into the air towards the camp - the flames of burning arrows, aimed at their tents and supplies!
No. 7171 ID: 4b3731

Gant pulled his bag onto his lap on being granted Tharn's permission. He rummaged in it, brows furrowed, as the king's men organized themselves.

"Humm... I swear I put it here somewhere," he muttered absentmindedly, tugging and turning with his hands. Finally, with the clatter of far more gear shifting than seemed reasonable for such a small pack, the dragon-blooded exalt pulled free a thick black cloak, complete with a clasp within which sat a perfectly translucent gem. Gant threw the cloak over his shoulders and had begun to affix the clasp when cries began to erupt from the edges of the camp.

"Gods and curses! It seems reconnoitering is becoming moot, King Tharn," he said, a frown appearing on his head as lights began to appear on the edges of the map. "No fear, though. I shall make myself useful," the old man continued, and his anima flared white around him, freezing fog appearing suddenly in the damp, hot air of the jungle. It swept up against his surroundings, the table, the cup and plates, the side of Elicia's armour, caressing them all and frost began to spread and rim on the items all around him.

"If nothing else, I shall give them something else at which to aim their arrows than your tents and men. We'll see how they like the might of a sorcerer," he muttered as his cloak shifted, warped and transformed into large leathery bat-like wings. These wings began to beat rapidly, lifting the frail-looking old exalt into the air with surreal ease. The white-swirling, glowing fog swept after him like a comet's tail.
No. 7190 ID: 55c4cf

Guarana takes a few steps back. As she moves, she takes hold of her daiklave, and prepares to defend herself, or the king. Keeping closer to Tharn in case something terrible happens. Only barely keeping herself from assuming her beast form.
No. 7258 ID: 400170

Elicia ponders this matter deeply for a few milliseconds before dashing out of the tent towards the source of the arrows, waving her arms and screaming at them to stop.
No. 7395 ID: dad664

Adrianna gave a soft huff as she swallowed the food within her mouth, chasing it with a quick gulp of her drink before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "Well, it was a pleasant couple of days without anyone shooting at me at least!" She hops to her feet, giving a brief stretch before giving a nod to Guarana and Tharn. "Be back in a wee bit, m'dears." Turning on her heel she charges after Elicia, the red whip of her ponytail flagging behind her as she charges to catch up with the fellow Lunar. Giving a glance upward she notices the incoming hail of arrows, the sea-lass closing her eyes briefly as she focuses inward. Thick bone-like plates begin to surge up over her skin, overlapping upon each other like heavy natural scales as they grow thick enough to grant better protection to areas unprotected by armor, Adrianna's eyes snapping open as the sudden change ends and she bolts forward [Armor-Forming Technique; +6 Bash/Leth Soak, +2 Aggr Soak, -2m]. She sidles up next to Elicia, giving a grin and a nod over at the other woman, before returning her gaze towards the emanation of that hail of arrows. "I really don't think asking them nicely is going to work, luv, hope you've got a back-up plan!"

DV: 6

Personal: 22•/22•
Peripheral: 34•/40• [8 Attuned; -2 for AFT]

BASH: 21 (+6) [27]
LETHAL: 18 (+6) [24]
AGGRAVATED: 0 (+2) [2]
No. 7400 ID: 10d022

Elicia nudges Adrianna and whispers to her, "It can work if we try it! The diplomatic solution is always the best solution. We have to find out why they're attacking us. If all else fails... I'm better at hand-to-hand combat."
She holds her hands up high, palms forward, and inwardly summons all her charisma as she begins to step forward, calm, determined.


Her Changing Moon caste mark appears as a light glow shimmers around her, and a commanding tone enters her words. Her eyes glint, cool and soothing, her steps firm and unafraid.

"Stop! Stop your fire! Please, stop this mindless violence!"

[5 motes to First Charisma Excellency

Parry DV: 3
Dodge DV: 3

Personal: 20•/20•
Peripheral: 37•/42• [-5 for FCE]

No. 7457 ID: e6ceaf

Elicia steps forth just as another volley of burning arrows streak from the shadows, again finding their marks on tents, wagons and two unfortunate soldiers, though those injuries seem accidental and their fires swiftly snuffed. The inanimate targets are not so fortunate: over half the camp is now aflame, and fireball sends splintered planks of wood through the air as a small barrel of firedust, collected from the misplaced desert, explodes with a deafening blast. Silhouetted against the angry red glow, the people running around the camp are but shadows... but some of those are not allies! As the Exalted watch, horselines are cut, beasts sent running and packs snatched away by elusive man-shapes that dash towards the forest.

As the Lunar makes her plea and the brand of her Caste burns on her brow, alarmed cries sound in the woods; those who hear it and can understand the ancient tongue of the Old Realm can understand it as a recognition of her Exalted nature, though in a dialect that's hard to comprehend beyond that.
No. 7464 ID: d86f54

Gant observed the spectacle from above with a chilly demeanor, one hand clamped tightly around his silvery staff. As he soared above the King's tent, fire spread through the camp, causing panic and confusion. Though he had been prepared to be targeted when he rose up into the air, none of the missiles had come toward him, and instead they had again fallen upon the flailing members and supply tents of the expedition. Even worse, from his vantage point, Gant could see that some of the figures in the camp seemed to be acting with ill intent... saboteurs, infiltrators or worse.

"King Tharn! I will worry the archers! You have enemies infiltrating your camp!" he yelled down and hoped that the Monarch could hear him, and that his own plan of action would go off without a hitch. The lovely Elicia's attempt at diplomacy would not stop the fires, nor reach the ear of every raider intent on stealing or ruining the expedition's stores in this ambush. No, to stop them in their tracks altogether, something more... spectacular would be needed.

Gant steeled himself, took a deep breath and then, trailing a glowing white fog through the air, dove towards where he suspected the largest row or line of archers would be, aiming to position himself along its edge. His bat-like wings buffeted the air furiously as he descended to their level of the jungle, instinctively ducking and weaving to avoid any errant arrows sent in his direction. As he dove the aged exalt pooled his essence, rapidly uttering the arcane phrases required for his spell. As more and more of his power drained from him, the snaking white fog around Gant thickened and shone brighter, until he seemed like a falling star descending upon the archers who had fired upon Tharn's camp.

Before they could even react to the sudden presence of the glowing Dragonborn, the self-proclaimed sorcerer of Watcher's Wake finished casting his first and most potent spell. The ground shuddered as he did so, and the dense jungle trees before him toppled and fell to the sides as something banned from Creation was thrust back up into it. From the ground squirmed a mighty titan's head and shoulders, at least five men tall and ten wide at the shoulders, all in all. Its frozen body was wrapped in great chains of metal, which it struggled against vainly before its cold, unblinking eyes set upon the shapes in front of it.

Gant, safely ensconced behind it, heard it breathe out an arctic breath so cold that the air itself crackled and froze before it, catching the unprepared archers in a sudden glacial trap. The Dragonborn put his hands to his ears as it then immediately drew breath again and bellowed a word in some language long dead, and the frozen air shattered explosively, spilling frozen archers and jungle everywhere. Its duty fulfilled the titan vanished, leaving only Gant hovering behind the space it had occupied and a cold wind blowing through the hot jungle air.

Gant takes a Move and flies at a speed of 45 yards per tick towards the most appropriate batch of archers, where he hovers half a meter over the ground and casts his spell.

(SPEED 5, DV -2)

Cost: 1 Will, 10 motes.

The spell is targeted so that it won't hit the camp, and aimed along a whole row of archers, catching as many of them as possible.

Dodge DV: 6/9 (Flying +3 DV, +3 DV vs Ranged or Thrown attacks from anima banner. Windhands gemstone: against ranged may use DV without defense penalties or onslaught penalties and allows parry of ranged lethal attacks unarmed.)
Parry DV: 5 (w/fists or wrackstaff)
Mental DV: 5

Personal: 0/10 [10 attuned]
Peripheral: 6/26 [10 attuned] (10 motes spent on sorcery)
WILL: 5/6 (1 spent on sorcery)

5B/6L/6A (4B/6L/6A Transformative Armor)

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