Circles Shattered and Reforged

When Evil Giant RobaCancerBugs Attack!
No Song Lyrics Attached
  • A trio of gremlinized custodians attack the Exalts. It’s…messy.
  • Akeva manages to restrain one, but it’s big, and strong, and very, very unwilling to just roll over and die.
  • Another is taken by the rest of the Circle. Without Akeva, and having already spent so much combatting the Blight and its victims, the struggle is a hard one. It draws blood from both Dusk and Lyim, and Unari is hurt worse—far worse.
  • The Alchemicals field the third.
  • Finally, after briefly losing control of his clinch, Akeva manages to hurl the gremlin in his grasp at another, shattering it into tiny spiteful pieces and making the one the rest of the Circle fights a much, much easier proposition.
  • Eventually, Lyim pierces it through the skull, and Unari through the heart. It’s dead.
  • The Champions finish their dirty work, and the lot of them make their way to the pit; Sparrow heals Unari on the way.
  • A voice emerges from the pit. Its words are unclear, but Lyim listens a little too closely, and tumbles into the pit.
  • Lion and Asim make their way after him, followed by the other PC’s—the Alchemical Exalted remain behind to protect them from the swarm above.
  • Down in the darkness, a figure appears—an apostate who recites, repeatedly, an odd and dark story.
  • She puts up a good fight, and might have drawn more blood had Akeva not used his martial expertise to knock her out prematurely.
  • The gremlins have long since stopped scuttling out. Instead, down here, there is only the PC’s, Briar, and a handful of sounds: the buzzing and battle of above—it seems to have gotten busy up there—the broken clockwork heartbeat of the Engine of Extinction, and an incoming cascade of explosions.
  • From one of the tunnels emerges the Imperative, Athyfer’s ship. Hell, seconds later the young-old Eclipse emerges onto the deck: “Sun above, what are you doing here?!”
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When Bunnies Attack!
They've Got Them Hoppy Little Legs And Twitchy Little Noses...
  • It isn’t long before the ground and terrain starts to look wrong. The dry grass waves in the wind with the sound of static, and a tree splits open and bleeds sap instead of oil.
  • Akeva suggests setting the place on fire to cleanse it. It probably wouldn’t do too much, but…
  • Lyim sets a flaming arrow into the grass, and gets something’s attention.
  • A tiny, cancerous lump of flesh leaps out at him, mouth stretched painfully wide to dig teeth into him, only to be swatted out of the air by Lion.
  • She’s able to identify the twisted, dying thing as having once been a rabbit. She puts it out of its mercy.
  • All around them, the cry is echoed.
  • Our heroes are swarmed by the little monsters. Individually, they aren’t too terribly dangerous—if one discounts the potential of Blight infection—but there are just so MANY.
  • Vista conjures an Oil elemental, who sprays down the rabbits…
  • Rabbits + Oil + Dry Grass + Fire = More fire!
  • Our heroes flee, seeking to outrace the flames, and make it to the ruins of Sparrow’s manse.
  • It isn’t long before they find safety from the flames; the ground becomes cool, smooth, rubbery and barren, split open with metal wounds.
  • under the ground, something pulses
  • In the distance, they can see the ruins, and a tower of swirling insectile machine gods.
  • More immediately, one of the remaining men from the Bull is wounded, and infected. He tries to hide it, and then to flee, but Akeva knocks him out, and Sparrow performs surgery. He should make it.
  • Note from the future: He won’t.
  • Finally, our heroes make it to the Manse, or what’s left of it. There’s only a bit of one wall left. The rest is a pit with no visible bottom from where they stand, full of rusted machinery, from out of which crawls more and more custodians.
  • The Exalted are ambushed by another bit of infected wildlife: a fox who apparently tried to eat one of the rabbits. Or maybe the rabbit wedged itself into her mouth. Regardless, the vixen postures aggressively, only to be slain by Lion, and dusted.
  • Its kits remain, for an instant longer, and whine before Lion kills them, too.
  • Their cries draw the attention of a couple of the machine gods, and battle in earnest is joined.
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Reconnaissance
What happened?
  • The Lunar Amberhall/Phittler Vintner/Riedan—Actually Sword of Forgotten Skies, aka Amphitrie Dannerhall, last surviving soldier of the Köline aerial fleet—says she’s going to scout ahead. She promised Unari’s previous incarnation that she would take care of the manse, and…she has to see what happened. And Erryl’s going with her.
  • The Manse is already in a state of severe damage when they get there; a pit has replaced most of it, and from that come swarms of corrupted machine gods. Sword flips out, and goes on the offensive.
  • Back with our heroes, Unari summons a dragon to fly the cleansed wreckage to Hatiq. It’s messy, but she binds its will quickly, and orders it off.
  • A few hours later, Erryl returns, literally carrying Sword with her. She drops off the Elder Lunar, and leaves Sparrow and Unari to treat her. It’s BAD.
  • They manage to patch Sword up despite her best efforts, and try to plan how to attack.
  • Said plans are interrupted by the arrival of a trio of soldiers from the Bull.
  • No, they aren’t planning on drawing steel on our heroes. There were a score of them before, seeking out the fallen star. And now, only they remain.
  • They lament that word will not reach the Bull for weeks as to what happened. They had Infallible Messages prepared to send him, to let him know. But those were taken with the rest of their men.
  • Unari knows Infallible Messenger, and passes the word along.
  • She also passes word to Samea, and to Hatiq.
  • The next morning, the Hatiqi alchemicals arrive. Yurgen’s forces are on their way.
  • Our heroes do not wait…onward, to the ruins of Sparrow’s manse!
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To Catch A Falling Star
  • With the city up and running, Sparrow can turn her attention to another project: shortly after the city lives again, she is able to bring Precious back up to full capabilities, with bonus! The familiar is now markedly larger, and speaks with the voice of the Ragdoll Princess.
  • This is a small thing, next to details like the news of a fallen star; an astronomer named Ilan comes, asking to charter their ship to fly there and recover it. He wishes to split it, 50-50.
  • Aracember does not actually appear, but does leave a message requesting the PC’s look into it: there was no records of a star intended to fall.
  • Well, what are they waiting for? They pile into the Roar and take off.
  • Ilan the Star-watcher has a rough idea of where it is. It’s far to the west; it might have fallen into Haslanti territory, or perhaps in Icewalker lands. Hrm. Problematic.
  • A little while after they enter the possible search area, Roar speaks up.
  • She knows where the Star That Fell is.
  • She knows what it is.
  • Sparrow’s manse is compromised.
  • Through the manse, Sparrow’s Hearthstone is compromised.
  • Through Sparrow’s Hearthstone, Roar is compromised. Her reports take on the distortion of blight-infected machinery as her frame begins to pulse.
  • The vessel begins to ascend as panels begin to fall off.
  • The vessel laughs madly, and repeatedly refuses self-destruct orders.
  • Where the hell are those coming from?
  • The Ascendant Nimbus Roar continues to rise; the PC’s manage to rescue most of the crew. Unari turns into a flying mammoth to bear most of them.
  • Lyim refuses to leave.

Lyim is currently still where he was before everything went to hell, though he’s now mostly just staring at his hand, which has yet to relinquish its deathgrip on the controls.

“Eh…” Erryl pops up, apparently from nowhere. “Y’know, it might’nt be the poorest of plans to get your ass out of here.”

“Needs to be a hand on the wheel, doesn’t matter where we’re going.”

“Eh…y’know, the ship’s abandoned you first.” She says. “No harm in returning the favor.”

“Not used to ships that think, you know. Can’t just turn off my instincts. I’m a man of the sea.. doesn’t matter that we’re not on it.”

“…would it help if I wrested you away, mayhaps?”

“I’m thinking that might be necessary.”

“All right.” Erryl gently rests her hands on Lyim’s. “So. On the count of three I’m going to pull you free and drag you out of here, and you’ll be making with the wailing later, yes?”

Lyim nods, eyes and teeth clenched.

“Okay.” She says, with a smile, and takes a deep breath. “One.” And sucker-punches Lyim across the jaw with the force of a horse’s kick.

  • Meanwhile, Sparrow and Akeva and Dusk attempt to bring Roar down from the inside.
  • They also gain assistance from quartermaster Amberhall, who consumes the cook and one of the crew with her hair and reveals herself as a Lunar.
  • The Roar cannot stand against this. She draws blood, and Dusk’s copies are destroyed, but finally, she collapses, and our heroes make their escape.
  • The last ship of the Köline empire slams into the ground, a victim of Autochthonian blight, gravity, and her own crew.
  • Rest in Peace.
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The Aftermath
A Whole Buncha Cutscenes.
  • Dusk looks at the letter. It’s pretty damning, but at the same time it gives absolutely no indication as to its intended PURPOSE. It’s completely unreadable to charms.
  • It’s…suspicious. But at the same time, there’s no indication that there’s more of the undead forces.
  • A little while later, the stars fall, and gods come to forge them into a web that straddles the city.
  • Days pass. Months pass. Finally, Ina has her child in a storm and fury worthy of any who bear the blood of the Dragons, and brings her daughter Valah into the world.
  • Congratulations and ‘awwwws’ are all around.
  • Two days later, a gift basket full of fruit and flowers arrives.

Congratulations on little Valah!
From,
Your friends at the Nexus Freelance Troubleshooters Union!

P.S. Bring this card in for a discount on your next job request!

  • Fuming is made, people get over it, and more months pass.
  • Unari’s mentor, White Beast Hallenghast, drops by.
  • Along comes Kiemi.
  • Killing very nearly commences. Lord knows which one would win. These two have a history. Hallenghast refers to Kiemi by her Wyld Hunt sobriquet of “Helltide.”
  • She goads him and taunts him, and reminds everyone present that she’s not here to be hostile, but she’s not exactly their friend.

“I am here following an assassination attempt several years ago at my home manse on the Blessed Isle, which I expect to be in some manner of disarray by now. With the vast majority of my descendants dead, acting dishonorably, or being possessed forevermore by the previous bearer of their Exaltation, my emotional investment in the Isle and the Dynasty has been greatly reduced and so I place myself at a geographical remove for the time being.”
“Until such time as I feel it necessary to return—should that ever happen—I intend to remain here in a sort of working retirement.”
“I would apologize for what has passed between us, Hallenghast, but the situation has changed rather than my morals, and we’d both know it was a terrible lie.

  • Akeva rebukes her, but meh. She brushes aside his concerns, and brushes off Hallenghast, infuriating him until he leaves.
  • Some time later, Dusk receives a small vial from the guild, with an attached message:

To the Honorable Tranquil Dusk, Iron Wolf:

I was pleased to meet you and your companions in Skullstone, although I regret that we were unable to meet under better, more favorable circumstances.

With that said, your past incarnation and I did business on occasion, and as I understand it was quite happy with his bargains.

I would like to speak with you, if I may be so bold. The vial that is enclosed will invite me into your dreams for a single night, in which we might converse. While I am aware that your companions may have misgivings, I assure you that there are no strings attatched.

I strongly suggest you take this invitation. Wouldn’t you like to be able to help the soul-eaten?

All regards,

Makarios, the Sigil’s Dreamer.

  • Well fuck that. He locks it in a box, puts this box in a bigger box, and stores it in a hidden part of Hatiq’s shut-down zones.
  • Also, Lion gets a delivery from Heaven, a stored missive that should have gone to her past life centuries ago.
  • The contents will not be discussed.
  • Nor will the discussion that follows this between her and Heaven.
  • But shortly after, a message comes from Heaven: if they make contact with Jaan Diheris (aka Teggah, aka Five Winds Jay, aka Smiling Shale), to please proceed with caution, and send an Infallible Messenger to Buk Mak Har with this information as quickly as you can.
  • And now, not long after, years after the city landed, the Essence of the land is activated, and Hatiq now sits on a manse, and can intake Essence to support himself and the city.
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How Not To Take a Patropolis
It goes a little like this.
  1. Infiltrate city.
  2. Leave note compromising your agent’s identity floating around.
  3. Get agent caught, tortured, pumped for information, and executed.
  4. Panic and deploy force initially intended for subtle discord-sowing and voluntarily accepted peacekeeping, and attempt military siege of the city.
  5. Lose Dusk Caste.
  6. Deploy Woestrider.
  7. Allow Woestrider to be escorted off battlefield in its moment of triumph, never to be seen again.
  8. Pull a hasty and ill-organized retreat.
  9. Profit!
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Back FROM the West
I know that's new.
  • The PC’s rush as quickly as they can manage.
  • That’s still days. More than a week, really.
  • A couple days in, Akeva is walking past the crew quarters, and finds that Jay is missing.
  • Replacing his bunk is a silken curtain, with a wooden placard saying "THE REPRESENTATIVE IS IN. PLEASE RING BELL FOR ENTRY.
  • Akeva rings the bell, and a woman inside requests the presence of his circle.
  • So he does!
  • The woman inside introduces herself as Aracember, chosen of Saturn, and representing Yu-shan to them, as the city of Hatiq is fraying the Loom by becoming a.) a major trade hub, and being outside of Fate.
  • Arguments are had, primarily on general Sidereal efficacy. Aracember gets snippy, but an offer is still made to construct an artifact of Starmetal that can sustain it in Creation without causing further damage.
  • More arguments are had. Suspicions are raised. What happens if they say no?
  • Then the Starmetal that was going to be deposited nearby will be deposited even more nearby, followed by rapid sanitization procedures to strip all traces of Hatiq from Creation.
  • Aracember insists that she did not make this offer with the knowledge that the PC’s were racing back home to fight Deathknights seeking a further stronghold.
  • A deal is struck, the Roar will be hastened along its path, and Lyim will try to convince Hatiq that this is necessary.
  • And…damn. There’s a battle going on when they get there.
  • And the city is winning.
  • Akeva descends, and the battle is joined.
  • And shortly thereafter, ended.
  • Ohhh, there’s a story to tell. More on that next time.
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Into the West
Have I already used that title?
  • The flight to Skullstone is…mostly uneventful. The yellow-eyed man who spoke to Dusk back at the tournament appears on the Roar, tentatively offering vague advice and hints of…something…to Dusk. When the Night calls his bluff and promise to disappear, the man does just that.
  • Dusk’s twigged to the knowledge that Five Winds Jay may be…something. Chosen of the Stars? He’s pretty aware Staenfoldt is like that. He sics Akeva on him, urging his circlemate to fetch the crewman out of his bunk, and carry him up to the bridge.
  • Jay seems like he really was just fetched out of bed. He’s tired, only half lucid, and deflects questions with yawns and lack of comprehension.
  • Finally, Dusk prods a little at Jay’s Essence pattern. The paradox backlash that’s built over the scene snaps, and leaves him mentally feebled.
  • A little horrified by what he’s done, Dusk lets Jay go back to his room. Before he disappears, he cautions them that the Silver Prince is not the one suing for peace.
  • The arrival itself is without any real incident. Welll…maybe just a bit. The docks are expanded, full of warships, but a spot is reserved for the Roar to descend.
  • People gather to watch again; maybe they already knew something was up; a carriage is waiting for them.
  • Lyim opts to remain behind, much—as it ultimately turns out—to the chagrin of damn near everyone in Skullstone. He actually goes searching. The Hunter from Bluehaven, after all, spoke with a Skuller accent, and his talk of a fifth island—where everyone knows there’s only four—piques his curiosity.
  • Meanwhile, the others enter the carriage, finding one seat already taken. A deathknight wearing a fearsome and stern iron mask greets them pleasantly, and bids them be seated while he sees them to the Prince’s mansion.
  • Along the way, the merits of a life versus afterlife are debated realistically—that is, neither side is willing to budge an inch.
  • The Prince greets them in his chamber, when they arrive, and briefly converses with them. He welcomes them, voicing some small disappointment that the Prodigal Son of Skullstone has opted not to return to the lands of his birth, but he’s a ghost. He’s patient.
  • He also intimates that Malfeas—and other Yozis—would probably like nothing more than to see Hatiq wiped off the map, and that this might enter the deal, were Skullstone and Hell to enter a ceasefire.
  • He bids them make themselves at home, urging the Deathknight—“Wake”—to see them to a place where they can make themselves comfortable.
  • The Exalts are escorted to an Inn known as the Rosegallows, a place deliberately a bit more lively than the rest of the city. The lot of them are set up with comfortable, relativley lavish rooms, and bade to make themselves comfortable.
  • Lyim returns, with only the vaguest of ideas in which way he should head. He consults with his Circle about the Roar; Sparrow and Unari opt to go with him. They’re not going to be much good in the diplomatic talks, but searching for a lost island? That’s kinda cool.
  • The next morning, Lion and Dusk and Akeva go to talk to the Prince. He’s waiting for them, along with the one who’s come to speak up on behalf of Malfeas: Makarios, the Sigil’s Dreamer.
  • Meanwhile, Sparrow and Unari and Lyim go a-island-hunting.
  • It’s going to be hours of this. The Roar searches the area as best she can, but her capabilities are limited when dealing with a landmass not even on her maps.
  • Ultimately, Sparrow is able to bolster the Roar’s sensory capabilities by routing them through her Stormclaw Reaper Essence Collection arrays. This works, although every time Roar gets a ping on their direction there’s a horrible scream.
  • Eventually, they find…something…to the northwest. A fold in space the waters ripple strangely around, and that souls seem to be drawn to.
  • Returning, they discover their Reaper Arrays don’t want to close. Sparrow discovers that the Roar has been getting pings by catching the souls of the dead like a magnet to iron filings, and that their corpus has gotten torn and spattered all over her Essence intakes.
  • A whole lotta ghost-eating takes care of that.
  • Back in Skullstone, Makarios makes it clear—diplomatically—that Malfeas has a distaste for the Maker, he’s sure that this conflict is really quite one-sided at this point both in drive and in potential outcome, etc.
  • He makes it clear that there’s much to be gained by ceasing Skullstone’s war with Malfeas.
  • The heroes, on the other hand, make it clear that they don’t have any real desire to see this ended, that the Prince made this deal, and it’s really up to him to see this through, and that they will not allow any such cease-fire to be made.
  • The Prince sighs, defeated, concedes to the Exalted, and dismisses Makarios with his message.
  • He then politely advises the heroes that he’s actually on the winning side in this conflict and that he intends to take this war to the shores of Kimbery.
  • Oh, also, this entire thing was a front to pull them to the other side of the world, away from Hatiq, while the Lover staged an invasion on their city. That might be getting into full swing in a day or two. They might want to hurry back now.
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A Tale of Two Lions
This is a short one.
  • The package Lion receives is from Six. It contains a note and a key.
  • The note begs for a meeting, and includes a map within the demon city citing where. The key will open any door, and lead it to Malfeas.
  • …what happens next is a secret. Later, Lion will summarize: Six led Lion to the ruins of Meru on the Imperial Mountain, and with her present, wiped her own mind, and left indications of a new identity for herself, leading her to become “Sesht” instead.
  • Of further note is an entity known only as “The Hunter from Bluehaven”, an Infernal stalking the streets, killing everything he sees, muttering about Island Five.
  • Lion returns, with her new “sister” in tow.
  • And now, it’s off to Skullstone…
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An Invitation to the West
We'd like to pretend this is polite and cordial.
  • Deliriously courageous, Akeva accepts the token of his prize—a woven brass headband—and has to be talked down from putting it on right now just to go show a demon who’s boss.
  • Well, that’s that, then. Akeva leaves, granting freedom to any and all slaves there. Not that he has any legal right to, but is anyone REALLY going to argue with the guy responsible for that hole in the bleachers? No.
  • They all head home. The slaves who want it are given a free ride back to their own homes if they’re on the way.
  • Time passes, and another year fades.
  • Another Calibration brings an odd visitor; a Nemissary from Skullstone rides a skiff through the fields, bearing a message: The Prince has wiped the Lintha from this world and the next. The conflict yet lingers with Malfeas itself; must he continue?
  • If he makes a peace offering to Malfeas, it may be to the detriment of Hatiq, or to our heroes. Perhaps they may wish to prevail upon him to consider staying his course, or seeking alternative exits.
  • She is genuinely apologetic for delivering this message, and for being unable to be more thorough in what she can tell; apparently many restrictions are on her regarding what information—especially regarding herself—she may divulge.
  • The PC’s agree to attend in time—not necessarily immediately, but with the intent of visiting soon.
  • And then Lion gets a package…
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