Circles Shattered and Reforged

A Sales Pitch
Please Allow Me to (re-)Introduce Myself

WARNING: Lots of quotes tonight.

  • Once Hatiq is there, Athyfer gets down to business.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Tripartite, and honored Patropolis. You honor me by agreeing to see me on such short notice.”
He says it with such humility and conviction that it seems implausible that he actually walked in without an appointment.
“I begin by saying that I did not expect to find you alive and well. When I returned to the place in the Maker where you once made your home, I only found a cavernous wreckage dozens of miles across, and a tumorous micro-continent of rust that had tunnelled through the Maker’s body that had carved it.”
“I did not expect to find you alive and well—none of you at all” He turns, and nods towards his fellow Lawgivers as though to include them, “—and it brings me the greatest pleasure to see you all alive here, and to see this city thriving.”
“Now I come to you here, and I am about to ask a great thing of you, but nothing I expect you will not give willingly.”
He pauses for a handful of seconds, just long enough for people to lean in, curious.
“I have been to Xexas.” He says, and the shock that ripples through the the older members of the Tripartite assembly is tangible. “I have been to Xexas, and I have seen the flowers.”
“I have been to Xexas and seen the flowers, but I tell you now that when I came there were four-score blooming into the smoke; when last I left, there were seventy-three.” Another pause, shorter. “We are winning. The Maker is healing.”
“Now a chance arises; there is a spot on the surface of Creation where the Maker’s Blight touched. By the workings of your Exalted friends, and of the Bull of the North, the Blight was beaten back, but this was not all…”
“Your Mirrorblade, the colossus Seer of Bright Vistas, has chosen to stand as stalwart guardian at the edge of our world and that which saw you born. Even now she sits in a chrysalis, embracing her duty and her fate.”
“But the Blight sits beneath and around her.” He continues, his face bowed. “The Bull agrees to defend her, but…” He permits himself a laugh, and a sly glance to the assembly. “what does an Icewalker king—even one of the Chosen—know of the dangers of a Blight Zone, or of the ways of fighting one back?”
He turns to Hatiq’s solid jade body, and bows. “Patropolis, I ask for some of your people, and in some ways I ask for your best. I ask for the wise ones and the strong ones. But I have spoken with you, in years past. And I would like to think I know you.” He looks toward the door, and takes a couple of paces towards it. “Xexas became as it must be.” He bows his head. “Neither he nor you wanted that to be the sole human legacy within the maker. You became as you wished it could be. Your city was the well-protected, armored seed from which you hoped could spring anew the Autochthonian people.”
“And now I tell you that thanks to Seer’s choice, there is a fertile ground for that seed to grow. She needs your help. And she will help bring your dream to fruition.”

  • There is little real debate. Athyfer is right, inasmuch as re-seeding the Autochthonian populace is exactly what Hatiq once wanted to do, and still would like to do!
  • Dusk privately voices to Hatiq his concerns:

Dusk shrugs. “Your patron was an ally of ours from way back. Powerful, loyal. If it weren’t for him we might still be under to Yozi’s yoke. I have no doubt that he seems more than I ever will. I don’t deny that for the lives lost in coming here alone, let alone all the effort made by others makes this turn of events feel like a punch in the gut, to use the vernacular…” He sighs. “But I Stand by my commitments.”

  • Akeva also has misgivings, although less about Vista herself, and more about the events of the past couple weeks:

“I still ain’t sure how the Blight got to there to begin with. [W]e didn’t even find what started this damned thing. Athyfer ain’t too concerned about it, since he didn’t even mention it. Assumin’ the thought occured to him.”
“And it happened at our manse. That can’t be just an isolated incident either.”

  • Hatiq holds that whatever Dissonance drove her, it held Briar’s leash and guided her to unleash the Blight upon Sparrow’s Manse. He does not have immediate concern, but Akeva is unconvinced.
  • Hatiq acknowledges that restoring Rose may be the best way to find out what happened, and advises the Tripartite to allocate the appropriate resources to the regeneration of Rose and the ascension of Spear.

  • Meanwhile, at the Vats, Sparrow and Unari speak with high-ranking Sodalites and confirm that the remains Sparrow purified are alive and clean. Briar’s brain and soulgem are set in a vat until such time as they can be appropriately addressed.
  • There is also some discussion re: Alchemical Weaving and Exalted Sorcery. Sorry, Sparrow! This particular form of Essence-shaping is not for you!
View
Re-acquaintance
Nice to meet you again...or not.
  • Athyfer emerges from his ship at last, attempting to introduce himself to the Bull.
  • As a reminder, the last time they met was actually when Raphares was still around, and he left a hundred-mile long scar of scorched land and dead men.
  • But Athyfer can play the crowd, and attempts to flatter Yurgen. Maybe it would work.
  • But Unari speaks up, and clarifies things.
  • Raphares is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Except physically. And Yurgen intends to fix that.
  • Athyfer doesn’t like this plan, and attempts to talk his way out of it.
  • Dusk points out the inherent problems of killing Athyfer now, and tries to reason with the Bull.
  • Spear, for his part, also attempts reason after a sort, and points out that the Falcon was quite a bit of help earlier.
  • Damn, the Bull is stubborn. But with Athyfer’s assurance that he will return bearing people from Hatiq who can assist in the reconstruction effort, then his head is spared, for now.

Yurgen, for his part, seems only partly won over. But partly is enough. “Go, then. Return with men, and know this: if I see you within my borders uninvited after this? No more deals. I will have my sword in my hand, and you will have your tongue in yours.”
And this Northern pragmatism and forthrightness is why Sparrow has begun liking Yurgen. She smiles and bows her head respectfully.
“The best I could hope for.” Acknowledges the Eclipse. “Then I imagine you’d prefer we leave—”
“Now.” Says Yurgen. “Not ‘sooner rather than later’” he makes a mocking flourish with his hands. “Now. You. In your boat and fly.”

  • Onward, then, to Hatiq. And when Sparrow arrives, Athyfer immediately launches into salesman mode, turning on the charm and offering the people of the City that Fell a trip back home, to the Maker.
  • Dusk is gonna have none of that shit. He takes Athyfer just about by physical force to the center of the city, and informs him that they will talk this over with Hatiq, and they will abide by his decisions.
  • Athyfer doesn’t seem particularly fazed, but agrees, and calls for him the moment they step onto the tripartite floors.
  • Meanwhile, Sparrow and Unari go to the Vats complex, and run into a problem.

They look, and shake their heads. “We can’t. Her Essence isn’t developed enough for a purely mechanical frame, and assuming we weren’t a little afraid of what would happen, we still don’t have enough starmetal to construct that kind of body. We would need enough flesh-clay to build a new body, and…we don’t have that, either. We haven’t needed to, and we don’t have access to the Maker to craft more.”

  • Their local friendly Jade caste, however, has tagged along. And he has a solution, one which has been percolating in his head for a while:

He turns to the technicians on staff—all two of them, and kneels.
“I am Hundred-Hand Spear, Executive, Chosen of Autochthon and Champion of the people of Hatiq. I am one-hundred and thirty years from my rebirth in this city. With the loss of Seer of Bright Vistas and of Bright Alarum Carillon, I beseech that I be taken to the vats, and upraised to the status of Colossus.”
He looks up to Sparrow for a moment, and then back down to the ground, kneeling even deeper. “I ask that the clay of this body be taken to reform that of the recovered Whisper, Rose of Ineffable Wisdom.”

View
Gentlemen, We Can Save Her
We Have The Charm Technology
  • The Exalts decline to finish off the apostate, despite the urgings of Athyfer and his crew.
  • Athyfer, for his part, is terribly glad to see everyone, but talks to Sparrow privately—she needs to convince him that she can fix this broken Alchemical and make her work again.
  • Meanwhile, Unari goes up to see how the Alchemicals are doing. They’re holding steady, but the Bull has arrived with his forces. They’re making some progress against the swarm, but there’s just so many, and this pit remains…
  • Vista sends Arc and Spear down with Unari; she needs to talk to the Bull regarding something.
  • We won’t go over Sparrow and Athyfer’s conversation here. Suffice to say that he was convinced; when they returned to the others his anima was blazing, and he gave her use of the Imperative’s sick bay in which to do her work. Unari goes with her, along with the favor of the Dice Roller Gods.
  • No, seriously, it was obscene how well she rolled.
  • Sparrow starts by removing the obviously tainted charms. They can’t be cured; it’s intrinsic to their function that they reinforce her infected state.
  • She continues by stripping out the less obviously tainted charms. They’re just as Blight-a-riffic.
  • Over the course of hours, she strips away everything she can’t save, until she’s left with a brain and a soulgem; an application of Order-Affirming Blow finally drives out the Blight, but there’s nothing left to heal back; something like a bismuth crystal with a diamond attached is all Sparrow has to show for her work.
  • Meanwhile, Athyfer takes the rest of the PC’s below decks as he takes his ship up into the skies of Creation for the first time in years, joining in the fray.
  • Akeva recognizes that the odds of the Bull surviving this are slim—still not good even with the help of the Imperative, and seizes command of the cannons.
  • He and Lyim also apparently bribed the dice roller gods.
  • It’s well into the night—closer to sunrise than sunset, and after a triumphant Sparrowsteel emerges from surgery—when the last few gremlins are struck down.
  • Landing, our heroes meet up with the Bull, and some posturing is engaged in, and it is learned that Vista has struck some deal with the Bull of the North, to protect this land and use any resources necessary to cleanse out the Blight from this land and the Autochthonian pit.
  • …Well, that’s just great, what does he get in retur—
  • Vista leaps into the pit, and suspends herself in midair by cable tethers from her feed and hands to the sides, and envelops herself in an Essence-enhancing chrysalis.
  • Oh.
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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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