Circles Shattered and Reforged

We Have A Winnah!
Tell him what he's won!
  • The dragon roars, and rains terrible lighting upon the crowd as it begins to rise.
  • Akeva is undaunted, and launches after it. He’s going to catch up with it, he’s going to find Basilisk on it, and he’s going to make her pay.
  • Down on the ground, Staenfoldt pops up next to Lion, his forehead glowing and his side bleeding, and wonders at the scene above.
  • While Akeva and Dusk attempt to take down the mad dragon above, Lion presses the Sidereal for information. He attempts to dodge questions as best he can, evading any and all suggestions that he might have leaked anything to Akeva’s hated former owner.
  • Above, the Exalts are having a more definite—if more violent—edge. Slowly, the dragon weakens; once Akeva gets his arms around its neck, it’s all over.
  • The dragon falls, and wrecks the stands before it disappears. In the wreckage, Akeva finds Basilisk’s corpse, with an upwelling of catharsis.
  • He laughs, he whoops, and bears the body back to Lion and Dusk for proof.
  • Meanwhile, down in the arena, the fight comes to an end; Jian Kai, an agile Eastern warrior, overtakes the wyld mutant Fathi, and the beastman known only as the Howler, to become the champion.
  • The host cries out the champion’s bravery, and praises her prowess. Ritually, she invites any new challengers…
  • And here comes a Limit Breaking Akeva, hot off defeating an elemental dragon. He slams Jian Kai off the platform and into a wall, and takes the prize with the host’s blessing.
  • He has her attention, and the honor of being the future student of her father, Suntarankal, Crucible of Iron and Brass, one of the souls of Malfeas.
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The Battle Begins!
Well, _a_ battle. The PC's have no part in it.
  • In the morning, people on the ground awake to find HOSHIT FLYING BOAT.
  • Akeva doesn’t want to announce himself; maybe Basilisk has a plan. He needs to avoid playing into that.
  • So no, another approach is called for.
  • The Roar descends to the ground, and responds to the pokings and proddings of those below with cautionary chimes and pulsing weapons systems.
  • The door opens…to reveal Lion and Asim there.

She clambers onto [Asim’s] back, obviously no horsewoman, but she’s spent enough time here over the years (even with that long hiatus in the middle) that once she’s up she sits comfortably. There’s a shiver of Essence (Graceful Crane!) and then he leaps to the ground, tossing his mane. “Greetings!” Lion calls, her accent stronger than usual. “Here is tournament, yes?”

The people look to each other—surely this was one possible result, yes? I mean, who wouldn’t expect a new challenger now? With a golden lance. Riding a golden lion. Who would be surprised?

These people, apparently.

“…Yes.” One man with a long and ugly scar passing through the wreck of one eye and a lip that never healed right. “Yeah, this is it.”

“Ah, good! Have wanted to watch such a thing for a long time! Am allowed to watch?” She pets Asim’s mane. He says nothing, for now.

The wave of OhThankGodGoldenLionLanceLadyIsn’tGoingToKillUs is palpable.

And really, who would tell her no?

The chiming, glowing, slightly-weaponized-looking crystalline protuberance on the hull of the Roar says nobody would be so cruel.

And so people—men and women alike, bystanders and warriors alike, get out of the way and let her disembark.

  • Meanwhile, Akeva, in a borrowed and terribly undersized cloak, sneaks furtively into the crowd like an expertly concealed yeddim. He works his way past them, to the colosseum that’s the only real surviving structure of this city.
  • Meanwhile, Dusk infiltrates the crowd in a half-dozen copies.
  • And all three of them…well, they have some meetings.
  • Lion converses with Shadowed Fist, God of Strife-in-Secret and Hidden Conflicts. They converse about various topics: there is a party here with great interest in Akeva, albeit not necessarily an immediately dangerous one; Yu-Shan has sent explorations to Autochthonia of its own; the full origins of the Infernals remain unknown, despite the efforts of Verumipra; Lion cannot duplicate the results of what she was able to do to Blasphemy.
  • Dusk meets with a stranger who seems to know far more about him than he would like, and while he offers information—the knowledge of Hauricant’s location, and warnings of the traplike nature of this place, his overbearing and rather smarmy nature fails to endear him.
  • And Akeva…Well, Akeva has a memory, first. And when he comes to, Staenfoldt is there, promising to give him a signal when the time is right.
  • A woman emerges onto the platform at the center of the arena, sanctioning this free-for-all by right of her parentage, and promises her father’s blessing to the victor.
  • Shortly thereafter, the conflict begins. It’s messy, it’s bloody, and it’s clear a lot of people aren’t going to walk away from this.
  • Akeva watches and waits for Staenfoldt’s signal, but a different invitation comes: Bear, one of Basilisk’s thugs, comes for him, and leads him down. The Red Beast of Nexus probably could have rendered him a fine red paste; he’s not afraid.
  • A call is given as they reach the lower levels; Little Hare, another of Basilisk’s fighters, is called up. She’s not there, though; she’s doing some other business for the boss.
  • No matter. Akeva’s business was never with her.
  • Waiting for him in a cell, Basilisk greets Akeva, and after the two of them are locked inside, she changes her mind as to her course of action, and instead decided to go upstairs.
  • Akeva has no such luxury, and is still in a locked room, by himself.
  • Meanwhile, in that upstairs room, Basilisk whips out a prayer strip, and slaps it on the forehead of the bound and gagged Little Hare.
  • As Akeva bursts out of his cell, furious and raging for blood, the east wall of the colosseum collapses, and a serpentine dragon, gold-maned, roars as it rises into the sky.
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Chasing Basilisk
It's about damn time.
  • The Memory clarifies that the Lover has informed her that the Deathlord offered her the ealtation, but she knows this to be a lie. She insists she speaks for nothing more or less than the Tear-Eater dead.
  • She departs alone, per the traditions of her people. She cautions them that their response and possible further action will not be quick—for the dead, by definition, are not—and that it may be years.
  • Months later, at the end of Descending Water, Ina informs Sparrow that she is with child, and will require time off.
  • At Sparrow’s urging, she leaves early to notify her husband.
  • As a bonus, leaving ahead of schedule, she is also able to inform her husband’s mistress.
  • She also politely requests Akleus maintain a facade of plausible deniability, at Kiemi’s urging.
  • We skip ahead several months. If Ina were mortal, she would be very with child, but she’s not. She’s not even particularly relevant at the moment.
  • Akeva, on the other hand, is.
  • Training the Hatiqi military in Tiger-Warrior drills, he’s abruptly interrupted by Staenfoldt.
  • Applauding Akeva’s progress, the Sidereal has an offer the boy really can’t refuse: Does he wanna catch up to Copper Basilisk?
  • Turns out there’s a clandestine tournament of warriors, slaves, and freemen. It’s the kind of temptation Basilisk could never avoid, and Staen insists she’ll be there.
  • Two hours later, the Bronze Tiger has gathered his entire circle and is champing at the obvious trap bit.
  • One application of Sidereal magics later—though Staenfoldt doesn’t seem to be the one who did it—the Roar races across a sea of white lotus-petals, far, far to the south.
  • A couple days after that, and the Roar pops back into conventional reality over the ruins of an ancient city, mostly buried under vines and trees and dirt.
  • It’s night; Staenfoldt excuses himself to the deck, and falls into the trees below. He doffs his own destiny, and dons that of Copper Basilisk (whom anyone watching should have known he was all along.) Returning to her own camp, already there, Basilisk prepares for the next day…
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Year 2 - Calibration!
You've got some red in your ledger...
  • The Calibration of the second year is marked by the appearance of another strange figure.
  • A woman of Tear Eater descent appears on the borders of Hatiq, and begins to read off a list of the dead.
  • The names are nearly beyond counting, but the causes of death are much less numerous. Starvation and disease are common, but most often they are named as having died in the fall of Hatiq from the skies.
  • She spends the second day reading, too.
  • By the end of the second day, a thing is happening. She’s been using Essence to sustain herself; she’s refused food and water, and while she spends the evening in contemplation she has not slept. Her caste mark appears.
  • It bleeds.
  • The PC’s do NOT kill her right off the bat. She in fact continues her roll of names, spending every day of Calibration reading, until finally she concludes.
  • She identifies herself as The Last Memory of the Unshattered Lands.
  • She departs, having aired the grievances, with the promise that her people will decide what they wish to do next when she returns to them.
  • Another oddity: She claims to have no patron Deathlord. What is with this strange woman?
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Year 2
More Arrivals
  • Good news, everyone! Lion brought Blasphemy Asim back from the not-really-dead!
  • In the springtime of the second year, a figure rides into town:

Unari will glare at the speaker. “Havew we met? And does one of us owe the other a punch in the face?”
“Threatening your elders, child?” And with this, the figure pulls back her hood. Her age is indeterminate—she looks perhaps fifty, but the light oceanic green cast to her skin, and hair white like seafoam, hint that her age may be far greater.
“Fuck.”
“Once again, Unari,you are a disappointment to your ancestors.” says Tepet Kiemi. Her voice is…slightly more teasing than one might expect.
“That would depend on which line you’re refering to.”
“The one that would send out more than a defenseless old woman to disapprove of their wayward child’s decisions in body art and spiritual compromise.”

  • Kiemi claims to mean no threat and is openly pleased to see her former student, but is open in noting that under other circumstances, yes, she’d see the Exalts killed.
  • That said, for the meantime she’d be glad to provide some assistance while her home is under repairs from assassination attempts weather damage.
  • Ina also brings in a new face, in the shape of Akleus Thorn, her new husband in an arranged marriage. She isn’t particularly emotionally attached to him, but as the youngest member of a Terrestrial bloodline (and the only surviving Exalt of her generation) she’s expected to continue the family line.

And then…we come to Calibration. But that’s practically a post in and of itself.

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Year 1 - Guild Dealings
They couldn't stay away forever!

Months later, while the snows are still heavy on the ground, but after Lyim has done his fast-talking sale of an Autochthonian ROUS, a visitor arrives.

  • Brack Hullin is the head of a northern mammoth caravan, and shows up to offer his services to assist in distributing Hatiqi goods across the north.
  • He has one condition: He wants sole distribution rights across everything between the White and Inner seas.
  • On the whole, he seems to be working above the board—he himself acknowledges the futility of trying to pull a fast one on a collective of supergenius heroes who also are capable of laying waste to powerful nations even without a city to drop on them.
  • A deal is struck, and Brack Hullen’s caravan now brings in solid money for the PC’s, as long as Sparrowsteel keeps working.
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YEAR 1 - Rats for sale!
A rat, anyway. Bought by a Hare, as it turns out.
  • The Citizens of Hatiq find themselves in a poor position. To be sure, they’ve escaped the crushing tectonic thing that would have flattened the Patropolis to a jadesteel pancake, but their supplies are limited. And even if they hadn’t left the surrounding area a blasted wasteland from the impact, the hardscrabble soil of the frozen north isn’t forthcoming for crops.
  • Unari tries to pull in favors from the Silver Pact, only to learn she doesn’t actually have much in the way of pull-age. Her mentor, however, teaches her a charm that can imbue the land with fertility for a time.
  • In the short term, the crew of the Roar finds themselves needing to sell SOMETHING. In this case, they end up taking a young draft rat and a handful of fragments of Hatiq’s carapace, and taking them to the place where anything and everything can be sold: Nexus.
  • Turns out Lyim does a bang-up job promoting the domesticated ROUS, and Lion trains it to do tricks on the way into the city.
  • The bidding is fierce. It starts in the thousands of dinars and rapidly escalates.
  • He is rapidly outbid.
  • He reiterates his bid: One Talent. Jade.
  • Yep, that pretty much clinches it.
  • He has his assistant, Perfissa, hand the funds over, and refers them to a proper seed distributor.
  • Said fellow—Sweet Plum Arnech—overcharges, but seems to enjoy haggling with Lyim until a reasonable price is met.
  • Akeva, when he has a bit, heads to a bookstore, to get books with which he might Learn Things.
  • He runs into an old friend, who directs him towards a few titles—one of which seems to be written by a previous incarnation of Akeva’s.
  • Dusk also meets up with someone from his past…
  • So, armed with food, seeds, knowledge, and just enough space to store it all, the Exalts return home…
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Now Entering Time Skip
NOT A WHOLE SESSION, JUST A NOTE

Following the departure of the Bull, Hatiq establishes it does not possess an innate connection to the Essence Flows of Creation. Sparrow begins terraforming the surrounding area in the interests of making a demesne that he can tap into.

This will take roughly 5-6 years from start to finish. Until otherwise stated, the following posts will happen episodically over this time period.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood!
We didn't have a gift basket, so we brought a request to surrender
  • It takes a while for the Roar to catch up with the city where it has fallen. The administrativa of the tripartite arrive safe and sound to the city, only to find things a bit of a wreck.
  • All things considered, a 10% fatality rate isn’t bad for what the Patropolis has been through. By any other standards, it’s still pretty awful. They’re burning the bodies for safety reasons, but the Harvesters present are all kind of mortified that they can’t be processed back into the body of the Great Maker like they could before.
  • They also lack a Ewer of Souls. They won’t be able to be monitored properly via Soulgems anymore. This is slightly more horrifying.
  • The PC’s do what they can, but move up to the upper layer of the city eventually. There, in the center square, is a figure that they haven’t met in person. The Bull of the North has arrived, to thank the city for committing an act of ethnic cleansing upon the Tear Eaters he was ready to go to war with, and he was prepared to welcome them into the fold of his empire with open arms. To do so would also allow him to divert the war engine he’d been building up into a civil works force to help the newcomer to Creation integrate and recover from its obvious recent disaster.
  • Our heroes obviously take issue with the Bull waltzing in and wanting to own the place.
  • The Bull, Samea (with accompanying dematerialized Florivet tank), the Tripartite, and Hatiq’s humanoid avatar converse in private with the PC’s.
  • The city’s keepers—and the city itself—are willing, if not particularly eager, to pay the price of bending knee to the Bull.
  • The Bull, for his part, feels his demands are more than reasonable. He’s reasonable, even. If they say no, then he walks away. He’ll ask again later, when they should know better. He won’t really have patience for fools then, but hey, they’ll do the right thing, right?
  • Finally, exasperated by the standstill, Yurgen asks Hatiq point-blank what he is, prepared to assert the Creation-Ruling Mandate that places him over God and Demon and even terribly cleverly made automaton.
  • “Exalt” was about the last thing he was expecting, but when Hatiq flares his anima—flashing the lights of the entire city—Yurgen backs down, at least for now.
  • Meanwhile, Lion and Dusk notice that Florivet’s looking a little ragged around the edges. It turns out that as they speak, he’s being unmade in Malfeas, broken down into Azoth for use in some Infernal’s trinket. Samea hasn’t realized this yet.
  • Yurgen elects to leave, although not before Lion has the chance to privately speak to him.
  • And with that, he and his leave.
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Making Your Mark on the World
...yeah, that was pretty bad.
  • With a location selected, the Exalted set to work attacking the project.
  • Sparrow and Unari do a lot of the technical work, alongside the laborers of Hatiq and Bright Alarum Carillon.
  • Lion and Akeva do some of the heavy lifting.
  • Lyim coordinates.
  • Dusk goes gremlin-hunting with Vista.
  • Finally, everything is ready:

All around Hatiq, the dozen ways out break loose, the interior structures—floors and walls and ceilings inside snapping inward to provide structure and support
The buildings of the lower level shift positions one last time, not to defend against invaders, but to provide optimal structural integrity against the pressures the patropolis will soon face.
And then, with a squealing sound like a prelude to the coming destruction, the wall to the aft of the Roar begins to tear open, blunt segmented tentacles pounding their way through.
The Ascendant Nimbus Roar begins to cruise away as the walls tear open wider and wider. The main external body of the city is partially visible now, a great wall of white jade slowly applying pressure, tearing open the Machine God more and more.
As the Patropolis tears free of the wall—something that takes several minutes, being miles in diameter—it places its tunnel-tendrils (tundrels?) down to some invisibly dark floor, the ruins of its neighbor that Athyrfer crumbled away months ago. It bears a slight resemblance, one might imagine from a distance, to an octopus or marrotte. Or a covered stadium on many flexible legs, depending on one’s inclination.
“At this time, citizens, the Essence of Hatiq is greatly restricted. The Luminors ask that you understand as visibility may be impaired for a while.”
The city follows the Roar, teetering slightly as it does so; as it comes to the point where the Exalted of Creation first entered—the tunnel large enough for the Roar and the Imperative to fly side-by-side—the patropolis pauses. The city carefully tears open the tunnel, widening it by a factor of ten to begin to even begin to squeeze itself in.
As it enters this final corridor, the city takes its limbs and wraps them around itself, angling the joints to shred the great hallways of the Machine God. Vista, tied down and facing up, looks pained.
The city glows with green light—its own anima, one supposes—as it begins to churn. Custodians begin to leap in at Hatiq, defending the body of Autochthon, only to be torn apart by the Alchemical’s defenses.

  • The progress of the city seems to be going well, until the Roar reaches the end of the corridor. The first time they were here, Raphares opened the way in with words in honor and prayer to the Machine God. Does anyone know the way out?

“So,” muses Dusk, “do we fire on the bulkhead?”
“…command acknowledged.” Intones the ship. “Deploying weapons.”
WAIT!!!” Sparrowsteel cries out.
“We have weapons?” Akeva blinks.
“Pause.” Says Dusk. “I asked a question of the captain.”
“Of course.” Responds the ship. “You did not issue any orders.” Says the ship, even as its crystalline projections begin to shine and hum.
“We only fire if we can’t find a place to get out of Hatiq’s way.” Suiting word to action, Sparrow is already pulling up the scanners and looking for any sort of passage big enough.
The weapons continue to build in pitch, but do not fire. “Warning.” Says the Roar. “Weapons will discharge in ten seconds. At close range, a shockwave may result, as well as impact by shrapnel; please brace for impact.”
Now Sparrow is pissed the hell off. “Stop! Who gave the order to fire?”
“Not me.” Asserts Dusk. He looks across the systems for a method of pausing the assault.
“Five. Four. Three…” The voice of the ship continues to calmly count down.
“Roar, CEASE FIRE!” Shouts Sparrowsteel. “STAND DOWN!”
“Cease fire, damn it!” Commands Akeva.
“Roar, stand down!” Orders Unari
“Two…One…” The Roar drones.
MANUAL FIRE!” Shouts Akeva. “Gimme the controls!”
“…Denied.” Says Roar. And then there is a crackling, ringing cry like the scream of a thunderbird, and everything goes white.
“You son of a bi-” Akeva grumbles, before the rest of his words are drowned out.

  • The explosion opens the way with minimal damage to Roar’s structural integrity, allowing the ship, her crew, and their passengers to escape.
  • The Roar is not forthcoming with the identity of the one who ordered it to fire. But perhaps there are more pressing concerns…

Above, the balled-up mass of Hatiq pushes at the hole torn in Autochthon’s body again and again, widening it more and more, until finally, with you miles below and out of the way of a direct descent, the city pulls free.
It teeters at the edge for a second—afraid, perhaps?—before rolling, taking the plunge. The surrounding tendrils spin around, writhing, and the city rolls in the air like a ball pitched with a spin. It falls, falls, falls, plummeting as it shoots to the East.
It descends in a swift arc—for certain values of “Swift”, anyway—hours of freefall, etc.
The plume of dirt and stone as it strikes the ground is visible even from this far up. The ground ripples like a wave for hundreds of miles around. Hundreds of camps of Tear-Eaters are torn apart in the ensuing impact.
Far to the south, a sound like a peal of thunder races through the camp of the Bull of the North, and his tankard splashes as the ground shakes. Yurgen looks up, and to the North.
Six stands amidst fallen cultists and demons in the northern wastes. She takes a deep breath as finally, everyone is still. Then the roar of an impacting city hits her, and she collapses, holding her hands to her ears.
Across the Haslanti City-states, people hear the noise.
Even in Nexus and the Blessed Isle, men and women will plainly hear the grumble of a world forced to greet an unwelcomed visitor.
And there, at the heart of it all, in the middle of a crater where all trees and grass have been blasted away as far as the eye can see, as though tilled by the passage of a mountain, rests the city of Hatiq.
Slowly, the tendrils upon which it walked unravel and pull away. As it does, it pulls apart its shell—the shattered canopy and walls to which the force of impact was mostly distributed, opening up the patropolis to Creation like a jade flower.
Slowly, with the city’s permission, people begin to leave. And for the first time in thousands of years, they see their ancestors’ sky.
Clouds. A sun. Even a crystalline rainbow crosses the heavens.
Perhaps this is the world welcoming them home.
Probably not.

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