Circles Shattered and Reforged

Things to do in the Citadel when you're Alive
See?! I didn't repeat it this time!
  • The Skald welcomes his guests, and orders that rooms be prepared for them, and dinner.
  • The Ragdoll Princess and Ellaphelia take the PC’s across the Citadel of the Eternal Saga to their rooms. Along the way, they see one man stab another in a vicious rage over a woman. The Princess steps aside—in fact, was diverting out of the path of his fall before he was even stabbed—and leads the Exalted onward.
  • The room is covered in traps. They aren’t hard to find, mind you: vents for poison gas, mirrored ceiling designed to break into a rain of piercing shards, etc. Savant uncovers the traps. All of them.
  • He then leaves taunting notes.
  • Our heroes decide to go on to dinner—and that they’ll be staying aboard the Roar, thank you.
  • Dinner is…off. Actually, flavorless. Another deathknight is there—a tall woman, with strong Realm features, and in soulsteel plate—as well as a host of denizens of the castle. All of them are Pinned. They pay attention to Lyim’s seat, nodding along to a speech that another figure would have given, had the PC’s not been there that evening.
  • Lyim makes faces, and actually manages to make a few of the people there crack a smile.
  • Mother is seated next to the Skald, and they engage in conversation.

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  • Mother then sees a figure looking out over the balcony—the slaver she murdered in Nexus. He’s leaner than he was, maybe a little harder. But he’s significantly healthier than the last time she saw him, too, and that’s just plain unacceptable.

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  • Mother tracks down the slaver, and is in fact even guided by a fourth deathknight, finding the new Abyssal in control of dozens of pinned slaves. He drives them against her, and using his whip (and a crash course in Hungry Ghost Style) slowly breaks her down. Just when she’s paralyzed and barely able to move, the Skald terminates the battle from afar, dropping her back at the table.
  • After dinner, the PC’s explore the Citadel more, and discover a library, with books covering all their histories. Of course, “Dusk” doesn’t seem to have one. But everyone else does!
  • Further exploration reveals that the whole of the citadel seems to be in a loop. Conversations repeat themselves, people die only to rise again and start over. There are hundreds of tiny dramas interlocked and ongoing forever.
  • Curiously, the people who Lyim drove to break character are now missing.
  • Lion attempts to influence the direction of the stories by interacting with characters, subtly influencing the gossip, etc.
  • Dusk finds his way in the secret tunnels to a door. Attempting to open it invokes questions:

“What is your fear?”

  • Dusk finds out the wrong answer has consequences, and is very nearly electrocuted multiple times. Returning to the ship, it turns out Sparrowsteel somehow knows the answer.
  • And the answer to subsequent questions:

“What is your fear?”
“That I should disappear, as motes of dust on a sunbeam.”
“What is your desire.”
“That my story should not end.”
“What is the shape of your deliverance.”
“An egg, in which I may slumber until I wake again.”

  • The door opens, and our heroes find their way into a chamber with the Eye of Autochthon, encased in soulsteel rings, encased in an adamant sphere.
  • Also, the Skald.
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Into the North
...again.
  • Our heroes take the Roar back east and north, stopping through the Coral Archipelago to pick up supplies and trade goods, and possibly hear word of the Skald.
  • Word does not come easily, but Lion plays in the market and finds an unexpected listener—another Lion, who (unnerved by the appearance of her unmarred twin) attempts to leave. Lion plays a song about two sisters long separated, and does so well enough that not only does this Lion stop, but the song itself is now part of the cultural consciousness of the city.
  • The Exalts then proceed to Diamond Hearth, engaging in some trade, and encountering barbarian raiders, who re-enact the same attack every night regardless of how many arrows are planted in them, or how badly they are wounded.
  • Dusk captures one on their next raid, and pumps him for information. This is difficult, takes hours, and he only gets a little bit of information regarding “A woman with a spear” before the pin through his heart pops, and he goes limp.
  • The circle then proceeds north. Along the way, Mother torments the Emissary to the point that he draws a thin line of blood with his knife. He isn’t smiling anymore.
  • They find the Shadowland after several days. The landscape is covered in great steel towers, piercing the clouds. All the Exalts become aware of not only the half-stifling feel of Shadowlands Essence, but a precise tingle dancing across their skin.
  • They do not recognize the meaning of this. Roar, on the other hand…

The panels of the ship light up, and the whole ship rings out eagerly. “Source detected. Crew of the Ascendant Nimbus Roar, we are returning home.”

  • The airship begins to bank towards an unknown destination, informing the crew that it is heading in to dock.

“Command recognized.” The ship intones. “Requesting authorization from the Eye.”
“Requesting authorization from the eye.”
“Requesting authorization from the eye.”

  • It seems that whatever signal the Roar is expecting never comes. The vessel suggests that the Köline empire has suffered a temporary coup. It does not make value judgments regarding this; such matters are left to the crew to decide.
  • …this would be easier to debate upon if it weren’t for an incoming spike of Essence. The Roar’s Essence absorption capacitors take most of it, but it seems the Emissary of Alternative Diplomacies does not take it so well. It seems that the spikes of Essence are specifically worse for creatures of Death; one can only imagine that his head would have exploded from the first pulse if not for the Roar’s capabilities.
  • The ship that departed Skullstone appears as the Exalts rise above the clouds; there to greet them are the veiled figure of the Ragdoll Princess and her stitched-up creation, whom she introduces as Ellaphelia. She agrees to take the Exalted to meet the Skald, who wishes to meet them in turn.
  • She leads the Roar across miles of iced-over cityscape. People live in the towers, but they do not seem to notice the Roar, or at least seem restrained from acknowledging its presence.
  • At the northern reaches, where the Eye is, the city seems to have been disassembled into a steel forest, and a great mansion in the middle is formed not according to the proudly technological motifs of the Köline empire, but the flowing lines of the First Age.
  • The docks are manned by workers who—upon permission from the Princess—eagerly lash down the Roar. Perhaps a little too eagerly…
  • The Princess is accompanied by another figure, a woman in Soulsteel armor with a great direlance.
  • The Ragdoll Princess leads the Exalted through the halls of the Ivory Citadel of the Eternal Saga. There are many people there who, like those outside, do not acknowledge the presence of the Exalted. She leads them on to the library of the Skald.

A figure descends from the bookshelves, tall and wiry. A grey cloak ripples down after him, though it fans out as he descends into four translucent wings. He wears a mask, in a constant smile, covered with shifting words.
“Greetings, Chosen of the Sun.” He intones. “I am the Ash-Winged Skald. I am very glad your story has brought you here.”

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Go West, Young Exalts!
Covering the whole of Creation, one pole at a time
  • As the Exalts begin to regroup, Lyim receives a message from his mentor: He’s in trouble; the Silver Prince seems to not take kindly to him. An attack should be coming in a week’s time. Help, ASAP!
  • The others agree to help, and fly quickly to the Golden Bull’s camp. It is, unfortunately, too late. The few bodies they do find are dead, and have been converted into exploding traps—fortunately, nobody is badly hurt by this. Physically, anyway.
  • Onward to Skullstone proper, then!
  • The Exalts arrive in time to see the departure of another guest: a woman clad and veiled in black, followed by an ambulatory sackdoll. A third figure at the Skullstone docks, a young man with long white hair and a soulsteel powerbow, speaks to her, calls her “Princess,” and seems disappointed regarding something involving her and someone known as the Skald, but bids her and her doll farewell.
  • Curiously, the ship they depart in is an airship. Stranger yet is Sparrowsteel’s revelation, that the airship is identical in design—if not in exact materials used—to Raphares’ airship, which she recognizes from the plans she took from Athyfer’s wrecked manse.
  • When they land, the deathknight on the ground greets them, introducing himself as the Emissary of Alternative Diplomacies. He bids them welcome to Skullstone, offers to set them up with accommodations, and suggests they catch a necrodrama—they’re quite popular.
  • The heroes decline the former, but do take in the artistic scene. The play then proceeds to attempt to instill an intimacy of Awe towards the Silver Prince. And for the first time in the game, perhaps, the PC’s eat limit to fight it off.
  • After that, and after dinner, they are met by a boy who proceeds to reiterate the offer of fine lodgings for Skullstone’s honored guests. He also gives Lyim a box.
  • After much deliberation, our heroes open the box, and inside is an ornate soulsteel plate with an invitation to an audience with the Prince.
  • They accept the invitation, and are accompanied by the Emissary.
  • The Prince welcomes back the prodigal son of Skullstone, and his companions. He claims ignorance of any wrongdoing towards Lyim’s mentor, having only asked for his Emissary to get a word sent out. The Emissary then whimsically claims things just didn’t go smooth (the rascal!)
  • The Prince orders the Emissary to leave, and begins to speak to the Exalts of the Ash-Winged Skald, an ancient ghost of stasis and stories, who makes his home in the furthest frozen reaches of the North. The Deathknight with the wicked pincushion the Exalts had encountered earlier, and this was one of his servants.
  • The Prince wants him…dealt with. And is willing to pay handsomely.
  • The exalts agree, with a couple conditions:
  1. Full salvage rights.
  2. Skullstone ceases to expand in Creation for 50 years, and withdraws any advances made in the last few years.
  3. Orichalcum and gold.
  4. Skullstone declares war on the Lintha.
  • The Prince agrees to these terms, and calls in the Emissary. He requests the Emissary follow the heroes to the Ivory Citadel of the Eternal Saga, doing them no harm nor allowing it to come to them, nor taking anything. The Emissary agrees—but is rather dismayed when Lyim seals the agreement with his Anima Banner.
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And Then A Year Happened
  • Our Heroes decided to part ways for a time. Players may post about what they did in response to this article.
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A Leisurely Retreat
Meh. The Fighting's done by now.
  • Akeva re-enters the warehouse, and informs the circle that they have other Solars waiting outside.
  • The Nexus Freelance Troubleshooter’s Union spokesman here—Hare of the Streets—inquires as to the well-being of any remaining Guild Personnel. In between the asking of the question and the response of its answer, Unrelenting Rain is quickly dispatched.
  • The Union members enter, and Hare uses an Investigation combo to quickly discern the general course of events. The Guild’s property has been damaged, and they’ve lost many employees. Neither one is a terrible loss, of course—they can be replaced—but repairs and training are expensive. The Circle is left with an invoice counted in multiple talents of silver.
  • Savant agrees to pay them back in 48 hours, and does…with funds he’s liberated from other Guild operations. Lyim launders the money to hide their tracks.
  • Unari sends an Infallible Messenger to Ina and Mina, getting them to bring in the Roar.
  • Savant investigates the camp of Dressh’s army. It seems to be fairly functional, with sesselja medics, tomescu trainers, agatae acting as mounts and safety nets for soldiers drilling to take on Raphares’ own airship. There are also neomae acting as ahem camp followers. Nut’s own people are there, joyfully reunited, though many of those liberated from the city are understandably nervous about the number of demons.
  • Savant’s investigations show that the soldiers were lured to Dressh’s service by a promise from him to train them and then lead them in battle against Raphares. One surviving Dragon-Blooded officer seems to have become an assistant to Dressh. Dusk attacks her in her sleep, but suspends the damage with a charm until the next day.
  • The Ascendant Nimbus Roar appears over Dressh’s camp. Dusk remotely explodes the surviving officer’s head, and this, combined with a speech from Lion, induces the surviving human population of the army to submit and take a ride home in the ship. The demonic infrastructure of the camp is subsequently reduced to its motonic components.
  • The people of the East are quickly returned home, and the Bull’s errant soldiers are dropped off in his territories.
  • It is only within sight of Kaet’s Landing that Blasphemy is possessed by Adorjan. In his body, she waits until a minute is almost up, and then turns to Lion and reminds her that she promised she would take this one away. She promised, she promised
  • Blasphemy’s body cracks and crumbles into dust, leaving only a finely carved heart of flecked gray stone.
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The Red Beast Bites Back
  • Despite her best attempts otherwise, Six cannot defend Dressh from the rain of blows.

Akeva feels his boot sink into the Slayer’s chest; flesh and bone and probably a little of the viscera underneath all give way underneath a kick that would crack mountains and shatter walls.
Dressh staggers, spits up blood, and grins. “Damn. Good shot, kid.” He rests a hand on Akeva’s shoulder. “But I won’t go so easy on you, next time.” And with that, he collapses to the ground, his anima still burning in an emerald inferno around him.
FINISH HIM.” Staenfoldt urges from the sidelines, and his words strike like a whipcrack upon the soul. It might actually cause pain, if Akeva hadn’t long ago decided to do just that.

  • Akeva deals the final blow.

Akeva turns, whipping a leg at Six and threatening her with one of his punishing kicks to force her on the defensive and instead punts one of the guildsmen corpses at her. While he doesn’t use enough force to inflict damage on her, his intention is to obscure her view while she attempts to keep it from passing. When moves to swat the corpse down out of her view, the first sight she is greeted with is Akeva at full sprint, leaping up and using the falling corpse as a spring to vault over her towards dressh, whirling in midair and landing on the ground over him. Akeva reaches down and yanks him halfway up from the ground by his collar, forcing the mountain of man’s senses to at least know what comes next. Akeva snarls his words inches away from his enemy’s. “When you see Malfeas, tell him I’m comin’ for him next.”
Then Akeva pulls his fist back, and it explodes in a roiling sphere of golden fire, essence spiraling and screaming as it’s quickly charged, harnessed, and weaponized into pure, world-sundering power. He lets go of Dressh, then drives a single fist down straight into the man’s head. His fist flies faster than sight, connecting with an impact that can be felt blocks away. The warehouse shudders and buckers as an impact crater forms around them four feet deep, cracks surrounding both men taking the vague shape of the 8-pointed sunburst.

  • Lion offers Mother a chance to ask Six questions before she executes her errant “Little Sister.” Mother declines.
  • Furious, Six leaves the scene. She takes a few blows from Lion, Savant, and Lyim (7 levels total), but this does not stop her from running up the wall, out the window, and into the night. The wounds do leave a spatter of blood, which Savant collects.
  • And so the night’s conflict ends.
  • …Or does it!

“Excuse me, all combatants in the warehouse.” Comes a voice from outside. “This is the Nexus Freelance Troubleshooter Union, here to negotiate on behalf of the Guild. Please stop fighting.”
“Are there any surviving Guild personnel in the building?”

  • Savant and Akeva takes a moment to consider their answer and with the help of a knife to the face and a bootheel to the throat, make their answer a reality. “No.”
  • The speaker seems to be insistent on resolving matters quickly. As he seems to recognize Akeva’s voice, they send their local celebrity out to negotiate.
  • Akeva steps out, and gets a look at the local representatives of the Nexus Freelance Troubleshooter Union. The one with the megaphone is a girly-looking boy, not particularly intimidating at all. However, the armored Orichalcum figures surrounding him seem a little more imposing.
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The Tide Officially Turns
And against the Water Aspect, no less!
  • Sparrow is officialy tired of this bullshit, and Sajira has spent too much Essence to ontinue defending for much longer. Between her and Lyim, they manage to strike him down.
  • DOUBLE TAP. Sparrow splatters his head like an overripe pumpkin.
  • Six and Mother continue to struggle.
  • Lion challenges Dressh. The Slayer questions if she wants to die, too.

Akeva blinks when he hears Dressh threatening to kill Lion, and then gets up. He spits out blood, taking comfort in that he can feel his pain dulling and wounds knitting back together. “Too? You think you killed me? Who the hell do you think I am?” He picks himself up, and resumes his stance. Inside, though, he decides he needs to buy himself time.

  • Dressh acknowledges the challenge. He also questions if Akeva really wants to keep going, given that he just got the shit knocked out of him.
  • Lion impales Dressh with her spear.
  • Dressh does not like this, and explodes the spear with Green Sun Nimbus Flare while it’s still inside him. But hey, Akeva’s the target here, so he keeps going despite the blows raining down on him: Lyim is picking away at him with Holy arrows, Lion is stabbing him, and Sparrow sends Unari like a tortoiseshell hockey puck to embed the Lunar in his back.
  • Unrelenting Rain takes a defensive position to cover someone with unique and useful skills.
  • She and Lion exchange blows briefly.
  • When Savant enters the fray, the battle becomes brutally one-sided, and she is forced to retire.
  • Six, on the other hand, won’t stop wriggling, and Mother, in a fit of pique, decides that if she wants to go help Dressh that much, she can just GO.
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Akeva Gets Whacked
Do not Taunt Happy Fun Dressh
  • Dressh recovers from the exchange of blows slightly faster than the Dawn, and unleashes a flurry in Akeva’s face. The Red Beast of Nexus only manages to evade one before they begin to connect, and seconds later is flung across the warehouse and slams into a wall.
  • Well into his dying levels, Akeva hears a voice.

“You pathetic little shit.” A voice whispers as things go dark. "Is this what the legendary “Red Beast” comes down to? Beaten down by a worthless has-been?"
“…felt pretty fucking bein’ right now to me.”
“Don’t kid yourself, whelp.” The voice whispers. “You made it through the crucible where he didn’t. He’s got no right to be kicking your ass.”
“He got me by surprise. He wasn’t that fast last time.”
“Then be faster!”
“Well, I’m tryin’, but my body ain’t bein’ too helpful right now. You take four punches in the teeth from him, see how cheerful you are.”
“I know better than to be struck, you worthless fool.” Distantly, Akeva feels a boot strike him in the side. “Now get up! I’ve waited too long for this, and YOU DO NOT GET TO DIE HERE.”

  • Akeva’s wounds begin to heal, and when he comes to, Staenfoldt is kneeling next to him.
  • Six attempts to command Blasphemy to stay out of the battle, but he overcomes any charms she wields on him, and goes to assist Lyim and Sparrow against Sajira.
  • She then breaks out of Mother’s grip. Momentarily.

When Six slithers away, Mother feels paw-pad contact straw and wood, and snarls in her rage and frustration — she is getting away and she will never have answers (and neither with Lion, though this is only a background noise in the jumble of her thoughts). She lashes out with one massive hand to grab at Six’s hair, ready to pound her to the floor again, hair bristling up along her hunched back, her strangely sloping neck. “I DIDN’T SAY YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE!”

  • Sajira manages to draw a little blood from Lyim, but is slowly becoming more taxed. He lands what should be a lethal blow on Sparrowsteel, but her anima blunts it entirely. He sputters and fumes.
  • Lion figures her evil twin is wrangled for now, and goes to take on Dressh. She draws blood, but not enough to stop him. Fighting Akeva was on his to-do list, sure. But she’s not on his agenda, and his Urge says HOSHIT THOSE SLAVES ARE GETTING AWAY.

Dressh leans towards the slaves, almost entirely out the door, and there is an explosion. Not physically, but still; his eyes burst out into the white and spiraling galaxies of the Black Boar, his anima banner illuminates the whole room, and over the Guild Warehouse his Icon appears, a great citadel of basalt and brass. “WAKE UP!” he roars, and his voice is like a spark, catching the flinders of the slaves’ shattered souls and setting them alight once more.

  • Savant proceeds to continue to lead the slaves out, although he drops the idea to the Dragon-Blooded officer that perhaps she might want to talk to this guy. After all, aren’t slaves with will and drive worth more than meat-puppets? The idea has merit to her, and she proceeds into the inferno to talk to the chosen of the Demon City.
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MORE FIGHTY
It goes on and on...welcome to combat, folks.
  • Sajira, Lyim, Unari, and Sparrow exchange blows. Sparrow gets in a good knock to his skull at 8 bashing, but he’s still standing. He responds with 2 lethal to her gut.
  • Akeva slams Dressh with a solid blow, but the Infernal misses his own.
  • Mother interposes herself between Six and Lion, managing to wrestle the Infernal to the ground. Six Continues to should—mentally—that Lion needs to die, she’s not real, blah, blah, blah.
  • Dusk sneaks the slaves out, only to find a dragon-blooded woman with guards, who urges him to move the merchandise to a safe location. He attempts to lift her daiklave, but she rebuffs him, planning to fire him later, and prepares to attack.
  • Meanwhile, a man with ashen wings comes to offer the badly mutilated slaver a choice, here at the edge of death.

Your story does not end here

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ENTER THE INFERNALS
Right through that door over there.
  • Dressh and Sajira enter through the door.
  • Dressh asks if he can finish murderlating the one slaver guy who Mother beat up.
  • No.
  • Dressh :( but sets him down regardless.
  • Sparrow places herself between the Infernals and the Slaves.
  • Sajira is a dick and cuts her arm RIGHT FUCKING UP.
  • Six attempts to slap Lion right in the face because she is EXALTED and she SHOULD NOT BE.
  • Lion wraps up Six in her banner. It works for a second, and Six chews her out for being her:

“You should ask yourself who you are.” The answer is calm in Lion’s head, at least at first. “You are not. You are nothing. You are just one of the copies Fate spun off into the world so it could reject ME when I tried to escape! You are not real. You have no soul. Why are you Chosen? Why? Why? Why? Why? You have no soul You Have No Soul You! Have! No! SOUL!”

  • Unari conjures a portal to let Akeva through. He and Staenfoldt step through, and asskicking is about to commence.
  • Lyim, Sparrow, and Unari hammer at Sajira, and he hemorrhages Essence fending them off.
  • In the process, he uses the man in black as a human shield.
  • Said guildsman, incidentally, has had his ribs cracked and his neck snapped by Mother, and then been used to intercept a handful of arrows from Lyim’s powerbow, and then was hurled through the walls of the building into the night. He’s really wishing the darkness would finish closing in this tick so he can just DIE and be done with it.
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