Series 03

29 July 2003 to 7 October 2003

Week 1 29 July 2003

Week 2 5 August 2003

Week 3 12 August 2003

Week 4 19 August 2003

Week 5 26 August 2003

Week 6 2 September 2003

Week 7 9 September 2003

Week 8 16 September 2003 – Cancelled

Week 9 23 September 2003

Week 10 30 September 2003

Week 11 7 October 2003

Jul 25, 2003 msg 3187

Players – Carlos, Matt Baker, Dave W

Ant: A great game, gentlemen. Not a single sword drawn or dice rolled in anger.

Pure RP all the way through. Hope one evening was enough. I wasn’t sure we could put together a coherent story in one evening.

I think Malla named you all very well.

Braxus – the radiance of the Unconquered Sun

Jireh – the majesty of the Unconquered Sun

Shadrach – the wisdom of the Unconquered Sun

James – the fury of the Unconquered Sun

Ace: I think there was some excellent interaction between you all, and I thought the walk through the city of your enemies was particularly good

Ant: Ah well, then. Looks like the two Exalts will have to find and kill the Scarlet Empress on their own (with a third joining them later).

Ant: Perhaps Marcus is too busy setting up a martial arts school.

Ant: After returning back to Malla’s house, you are told someone is waiting to see you.

You are shown in to the antechamber where a tall, pale man dressed in black leather armour is lounging, a sword propped up against his chair. He seems very self-assured and has a slight smirk on his face. He stands half-heartedly as you enter.

“Greetings, Exalted brethren. I come with a message from the Mask of Winters.” He pauses, gauging your reactions.

He sits again. “He says he has foreseen your mission, to destroy one of great power, allied with those who have even greater power. He knows you are great men, but even such as you need the help of other great men to aid you. He, too, has a vested interest in seeing the destruction of the corrupted, and suggests you may succeed with the help of the Malfeans. He offers to aid you in your mission, perhaps by sending me with you.”

He sighs. “He also says he is aware of the redemption of Opal and Mercy’s Blade, and promises not to pursue them if you accept this alliance. He gives you his word that there will be no double dealing, no double crossing, and no ulterior motive on his part. He wishes to see the Scarlet Empress dead, and has sent me to help. Should you need others, you have only to ask.”

“What do you say?”

Gordy: I won’t be there so it’s not for me to judge.

Ant: But Marcus has met the Mask of Winters (and killed him once, I believe). BTW: I thought I’d let you all in on a secret: The Unconquered Sun didn’t convert Yllira from Fae into human….. He gave her a soul.

David W: I have no idea what’s going on.

Gordy: that doesn’t figure – if she was Marcus’s consort in a past life then she must’ve had a soul?

Ant: What makes you think that?

Gordy: Because you said that I remember seeing her bind Marcus’s wounds – and she was in Marcus’s tomb. Unless that was her soul that was in the tomb? Marcus just freed it?

Ant: Now this is all true. You saw her body and remember her (vaguely) from your previous life (or lives, in your case). She WAS a consort, THAT much you remember. And recently she was fae and now she seems human. I told you the Unconquered Sun gave her a soul. The rest is a mystery (but don’t worry, I know what happened).

Your past is an enigma. But it IS coherent.

Ant: So Braxus refuses outright. James? Jirah? (to respond to the question).

Ace: I would bow to the greater wisdom of those whom know of this person. Let him give me time to think over and discuss with my friends. I would need a fewdays to think it over. I must see what destiny has placed in front of us and

see where to perhaps guide our hand.

Help is always welcome but can sometimes when offered freely such as this

comes with a silent blade not usually for those that have accepted the help

but for those around, whom they care for

Matt Baker: We need all the help we can get for this. She was powerful BEFORE she became twisted. We let them help us kill the empress, then we kill them. We also need to try and find a way to kill the Mask of Winters in a more permanent manner. Then we kill the sidereal monk to make a statement to the remaining sidereal that we will no longer be manipulated by them, and then we kill any dragon blooded who oppose us. I’m being redeemed here btw (before anyone comments on the bloodthirsty nature of the above). Doesn’t stop me being practical, and doing what’s necessary to further the cause of the Unconquered Sun, however squeamish others may be about it. If we can find ways to permanently remove any of the above from the equation without killing them, then I’ll listen. Can’t think of any, though. Oh, one last thought. Why don’t we try and ask the Unconquered Sun what he thinks of this offer?

Ant: The priests are the ones who can hear him clearest. They should ask (Braxus? Marcus?) if they feel they should.

Ant: And Shadrach is still meditating on what to do.

The man in black stands. He salutes you with a smile, and says “I will await your decision and return it to the Mask of Winters. He bears you no

ill-will, and suggests that you may not yet be powerful enough to face the

Scarlet Empress without our help. He recommends that we put aside our

differences to face the greater threat. We can learn from each other and

face our collective foes like brethren. And we ARE brethren, although we

have chosen different paths.”

He bows and says “I leave you to think on our offer. If you need me, you

shall find me at the Immaculate Order citadel in Imperial Square. Until

then.”

Gordy: Words of warning brethren – to speak to Mask of Winters is to offer him words to

use against you. He has crossed us one time too many. His deeds and his words

show him to be untrustworthy. Let him recant his ways and become a Solar once

more, only then I will listen to him. Mark my words there is evil in his

making. He is not to be trusted.

Carlos: After the man has left, Cathak Shadrach says “The stream finds the sea.

The wind changes it not.”

Aug 11, 2003 msg3188

Ant: Looking forward to getting through a LOT with just two players. Maybe you’ll even

find the Scarlet Empress?

Week 3

Ant: I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Carlos, whose character tore an oak

tree out of the ground and threw it down to stand on to address the crowds.

After his address (during which the cloud cover broke and a long beam of

sunlight lit up the area he was standing in) the three characters were

considered gods, and had hundreds of people bringing their sick to them to be healed.

I’d also like to congratulate David, for killing one and injuring four in

around 3 seconds. He also managed to heal two soldiers, and tell a crowd of 150

– 200 fanatical worshippers to stop pushing at the back.

And finally, to Tara who managed to play with the rest of us freaks and

for demanding the right to heal several babies and old ladies before running

out of power and giving everyone cash to find their own doctors.

Week 4

Ant: I have the manga pictures

Week 5

Ant: The Cathak kinsmen have a great shock about who they happen to be fighting (again). Last time it was an ally (Strength of Many, Lunar Exalted). This time it’s….?

Week 6

Ant: The bad news is that Carlos won’t be there this tuesday (although many might

think that good news).

The good news is that Exalted is still running. And I have Manacle and Coin,

Savage Seas and Ruins of Rathess to go with it!! Hooray, etc.

I’ll just have to assume that Cathak Shadrach just gives in to his baser

urges and goes off with a faerie or two.

Ant: Here’s the deal – the heroes (heh!) have made their way to the edge of the

world, and have come to an oasis on the borders of the Wyld – the fae

realm. They’ve met the Fae who’ve been fighting an incursion of Infernals

(Exalted and demons) and need help, as a huge army of Infernals is on its

way to wipe them out. The real problem is that the Fae are as bad as the

Infernals, so who do the Solars help?

On the way south, they met a ‘monstrous demon’ who they fought to a

standstill. When it looked like two of the three protagonists were going

to die, they found out that this demon was actually a Lunar Exalted.

The real issue behind the original mission is to go to Malfeas to find the

Scarlet Empress and find out if what theSolars have been told is true. If

it is, then the two who’ve gone to find her can be guides to the main body

of Solars. If it is not, then the two need to find out why their

arch-enemies, who called a truce and gave them the information, would send

them to hell……. (Well, duh! Who’d talk to their arch-enemies and

believe anything they’d say?). Got it?

Gordy: Well – naturally Marcus would be more inclined to help the Fae for obvious

reasons. I’ve forgotten his partner’s name – the one who used to be a Fae?

Ant: The name of your fae is Yllira. Besides, she’s not fae anymore. The Unconquered Sun really returned her to you when you asked. He even returned her soul, which was imprisoned to some extent when he returned her physical body.

Ant: For those who have faced the Wyld Hunt, I’ve found out how tough it’s

supposed to be:

Three to seven Immaculate Monks of between 250 and 450 experience points.

One sorcerer of similar level (who may or may not have quite a number of

demons at his command).

Between 25 and 50 mortal soldiers (a ‘scale’ or two).

A warstrider suit or two…..

You may find your next encounter is rather harder to deal with. And you’ve

been less than discrete, walking around the Dragon-Blooded capital fully

armoured (in some cases, which was encouraged by Sesus Malla). Could be

they’ll visit soon. Of course, a battle with over 30,000 protagonists is

unlikely to escape notice too….

The western wall of the keep is collapsing as the magics worked by the

Scarlet Empress take their toll. It sags, then suddenly gives way,

crushing some of the fae and some of the goblins. More goblins rush

towards the gaping hole in the keep’s defences, but then a counter-charge

is led by Cathak Shadrach, his hammer glinting in the glare from Char’s

anima. The deathknights follow him, and they begin to close the hole with

goblin dead. Fae meets goblin, the beautiful and the truly ugly cross

swords, hammers, axes and spears, and victims on both sides stagger away to

fall and die. Marcus’s prayer is answered, and a huge (18 foot high)

golden lion appears beside Shadrach, tearing at the intruders as they come

through the ruined wall.

The flaming tar begins to go out. Each of the Exalted feel the presence of

magic, and assume that some sort of elemental magic is being used to put

out the fire. Cathak Tomas roars above the din of the battle that he can

feel some fire essence being used to dampen the fire, and that he will

attempt to use his fire anima to rouse it.

Four more ladders are pushed up along the north and east walls. Each is

accompanied by scores of arrows as the attackers seek to stop the defenders

from pushing them off. Char’s bowfire slows as his essence reserves run

low, and he cannot kill as many of the ballistae crewmen as he needs – 4

men fall, but it’s not enough. Three ballista bolts fly towards the keep

walls, one imbedding itself in the stonework, one passing through the

crenallations and striking a fae, the third wrapping itself around a

portion of the northeast section of wall. The chains taughten as they are

pulled by dozens of men and goblins.

The battle is fierce in the east, where a ladder went unnoticed. A giant

is picking up fae and throwing them over the wall, to crash into the

seething mass outside. Behind him, three hobgoblins fight more fae, and

you can see one of the deathknights in the confused melee. He’s striking

down the creatures where they stand, although he’s alone as the fae with

him have been killed. You see his dark anima flare as he uses charms to

help him cut through the mob around him. In mere moments, he will be

facing the giant one on one.

The south wall is also engaged, as the fae there are fighting off bizarre

goblin/bat hybrids. The fighting is less fierce there, although there seem

to be some slain on either side.

Strength of Many has finished off his opponent as its head flies over the

battlements to land in the horde below. The body falls, blood gushing out

of the torn neck, and he turns, sensing more attackers behind him. Marcus

also waits for the next wave, having felled his opponent with a little help

from Char.

Cathak Erland waits on the battlements, surveying the battlefield. In his

estimation, after the night action by Char and the current battle, there

are perhaps 14, maybe 15 thousand infernals. There are approximately 156

fae, of the original 300. He is shaken from his reverie when a battering

ram hits the gates on the walls full on.

Strength of Many raises his head high, lifting one arm high and his axe

aloft and bellows a savage battle roar. He picks up the still spurting

body of his enemy and pitches it over the wall, directly at a ladder. The

attackers climbing this ladder are knocked off as the body catches each one

while plumeting to the ground.

Yet another ballista bolt hits the wall, and the whole structure shakes as

the battering ram hits the fortress gates again. Cathak Erland rushes to

the wall and begins to push at a ladder. Three arrows hit him, two

deflected away by his armour. The third grazes his head drawing blood. A

low groan that grows to a battle cry sounds in his throat as he pushes

against the combined weight of the ladder, the attackers trying to jump the

gap between it and the wall and those below who are pushing the ladder

against the wall. Gradually, the ladder begins reverse direction and then

falls, crushing dozens underneath.

Strength of Many looks about the keep, then shouts to the men under his

command in the courtyard below. He points to the east wall. His words

seem lost in the din of the battle, but the men turn almost as one and run

towards the stairs up where the giant and the deathknight are starting to

fight. Goblins are racing past the combatants on the east wall, into the

keep, and deathknight, stalled by the giant, is incapable of stopping them.

Cathak Tomas, the Dragon-Blooded screams something, but he can’t be heard.

He indicates the south wall, where the remaining fae have fallen and the

winged creatures are making their way across the bridge. A few fae try to

meet them, but they are being sidelined as almost four dozen of the

creatures are holding the south wall and southern end of the bridge. The

first across falls with an arrow in his chest. Faintly, Char can be heard

cheering overhead. The rest of his archers, however, are now in hand to

hand combat and cannot help him.

Back on the east wall, magic flares as the deathknight uses charm after

charm to counter the massive strength of the giant, and the fight seems

even. There is a brief flash of golden light, and Marcus flies into the

fight, using his seven section staff to polevault. Crying out to the

Unconquered Sun, he uses his martial arts and kicks the giant full in the

face, targeting his eyes, then flipping backwards to land on the parapet,

his staff ready and his one arm outstretched fist balled.

Strength of Many races to the ruined wall to help with the defence. As he

arrives, he finds most of the fae pushed back to the keep, but Cathak

Shadrach stands in the middle of the courtyard, swinging his hammer above

his head, taking out oncoming goblinoids. He sees Strength of Many out of

the corner of his eye and shouts “I am like the scythe at harvest”. He

looks to be on the verge of capitulating to their sheer numbers, however.

Three more arrows shoot from overhead, humming in the air as they pass,

striking down three of the goblins.

Above, Cathak Tomas prepares to hold the narrow bridge across the keep,

walking to the mid point, and waiting for the oncoming winged creatures.

Marcus and the unknown deathknight face the giant, although even as they

wait warily for the attack, they can see dozens of goblins coming over the

wall behind him. Erland holds the north wall with a small number of fae,

Cathak Shadrach and Strength of Many are holding the gap in the west wall.

Far above them all, glowing like the noon-time sun, Char stands on the

tower, arrows burning the air with essence.

The goblins let out a cheer, as far to the west, a figure dressed in scarlet reappears.

Ant: The Scarlet Empress returns to the fray. She can be seen as a red glow,

dwarfed by the combined golden animas of Char, Cathak Erland, Cathak

Shadrach and Marcus.

Howling their battle cries, the goblins increase the ferocity of their

attack. The chains holding the huge ballistae arrows taughten as they

pull, bringing the top of the northeast wall of the keep down. The

stonework crushes dozens as it falls, but then Cathak Erland and his men

topple into the shrieking mob below. At first, the goblins shrink back as

his anima blinds them, but, urged on by the hobgoblins and greater goblins,

they surge forward. He finds himself inside a rapidly shrinking circle,

the outer edges of which are defined by the tip of his daiklave.

Cathak Tomas begins to stride across the bridge, meeting winged creatures

and felling them as they approach. A few at the back take off and land

behind him. Caught in a pincer, he fights bravely but is overwhelmed by

the creatures. They are moments away from spearing him, until a flash of

golden light looms from above, and Char lands beside him. As bright as the

sun at noon, his anima blinds the winged goblins, and then, spurred by his

essence and totem animal, it forms a giant golden wolf which howls at the

sky and snarls at his enemies. His golden gauntlets flash as he swings

left and right, tearing at the goblins. They fall back, throats torn from

them, to drown in their own blood.

Over by the western wall, the golden hammer of Cathak Shadrach can be seen

rhythmically rising and falling, golden glints from his anima reflecting in

the darkness. Shoulder to shoulder with Strength of Many, the two hold the

goblins coming through the gap at bay. They fight side by side, and

although the fae with them are dead, they begin to fill the gap with goblin

bodies. Still they come on, though, climbing their own dead to reach the

two Exalts.

Char helps Cathak Tomas back to his feet during a brief respite. Tomas can

see a deathknight at the other end of the bridge. He’s made his way to the

south wall and begins to meet the winged goblins there. Retrieving his

jade daiklave, Tomas starts across the blood slicked bridge to meet the

deathknight in the middle and create his own pincer manoeuvre.

The walls shake again as the battering ram hits the gates. Char turns,

recalling the words of the fae lord that the wyld can be bent to the will

of one with sufficient power. He concentrates, willing the wyld to form as

he desires. Ignoring the battle around him – the screams of the wounded

and dying, the arrows raining across the battlements, the clash of arms –

he forces the wyld around him to do as he wishes. The ground outside the

gate begins to melt, the stone disintegrating into a thick mire. With a

cry, the goblins on the battering ram begin to sink, their feet and ankles

submerging in the filth, quickly followed by their knees and thighs.

Pulled under by the weight of their armour, he smiles grimly as the start

to drown.

Marcus and the lone deathknight face off against the giant. Marcus jumps

up in a flying kick as the deathknight strikes low with his daiklave. The

giant, slow to respond, sweeps his club from his left to right in front of

him and beats them both down. Falling, Marcus tastes blood. The

deathknight falls hard, the breath forced from his body. Drawing his seven

section staff, Marcus draws his essence in and begins to shape it. The

giant moves forwards, lifting his club above his head, ready to crash down.

One end of the staff, now glowing golden, whips out, catching him in the

throat. Before the giant can react, the second end flashes out, taking out

an eye. Arms moving like a blur, Marcus strikes the giant several times

before he can even react to the blow to the throat. The club falls, and

the giant totters backwards, his face a smashed, bloody mess. He leans

against the battlements, and Marcus delivers a flying turning kick,

catching him in the chest and knocking him clean over the side. Scores of

goblins have come across the east wall while the Exalts were facing the

goblins. The cover the entire eastern courtyard and are moving southwards.

The Scarlet Empress returns to hurling bolts of power at the fortress.

Most of the fae are dead. Perhaps 80 remain. From inside the keep, you

hear someone shout “The walls have fallen – retreat to the keep!”

Week 7

Ant: Thank you, gentlemen, for a very unusual end to the battle last night. I

really wasn’t expecting you to win, but calling the malleable reality of

the Wyld to form a tsunami to sweep away the remnants of the Infernal army.

The trouble is, they know you now!

Ant: I think it’s interesting that even the demigods don’t know the gods.

Although a couple of them do have a clearer idea of their past lives.

Seems they were statesmen.

Ace: Ahh the price of being a visionary!!!!!!!

Thanks for letting us win, though I came close to being another dead solar.

I have thinking more on the deliberative council and will let you know more

later on.

I have two great characters in Exhalted and now have a crux for both of

them. Ohh what joy for you MR Arstrong.

Well you did say if you had the will you can bend the wyld to your whim, so

I did. Mind you Shadrachs tsnami was good. Nearly got washed away in all the

excitement.

Ant: Being a visionary is one thing, but changing a governmental system which

has been in force for over 3000 years (in one form or another) is another

thing entirely.

I didn’t let you win at all, mister. I thought you’d lose and had plans

for that particular contingency. You won, however, and I have to hand it

to both of you, you deserved to. Your actions carried the day. True, the

Fae were depleted by around 87%, but the infernal army was pretty much

destroyed (97% dead). I’m sure that area of the Wyld will never be the

same. Mountains, 10 foot spikes, lakes, chasms, ripples and lastly, a

tidal wave. Weird.

Ace: Char feels restless, he dreams of the solar council of old then watches as

the faces change to the new vision of his dream for the realm. His feet grow

restless for the road again, Rathess what do you hold for me???

The dragon kings must again be found, who rules the land once known as

Rathess and what awaits Char and his companions. The scarlet empress knows

him she has seen the might of the solar within him and will search him out

he is sure. But nothing can stand in the way of his vision, it is the way

the first footsteps in saving the realm from itself. I must stride on.

Ant: I’d give you xp for that, but it’s not fair, because Carlos can’t email to

the list and get the same reward. Still, it IS only Carlos. Have 3 xp.

Ant: If Carlos is there, I’ll run Exalted. I have a lot of plans for them all, they have a lot to get

through, and I’m sure the Ebon Dragon is most displeased at the dent in his

plans by beating his beautiful wife in the battle.

Ace: Well Char will walk his path and not fear the consequences; his path is the

righteous one. Soon all will walk this path, guided by the new deliberative.

Ant: The New Solar Deliberative? I like the sound of that!

He has to get to/restore Rathess first. I dare say he’ll need the help of

his circlemates. Not that anyone’s FORMED a proper Circle yet. BTW: A

TRUE Circle has a representative of each of the five castes. Eclipse

caste, anyone?

Week 8 – Cancelled. msg 3469

So far, the gentlemen have met, fought, then befriended a Lunar Exalted

called Strength of Many (and he is VERY tough). Next on the journey, they

met an old hermit ‘wise woman’ who told them that they should either: take

the throne themselves or help Tepet Ejava. After being told a few more

gems about the future (or the past?), the heroes left.

They journeyed far southeast, to the edge of the world and met the Fae

there. They helped the Fae battle 30,000 infernals, although only about 40

of the Fae remain. The Scarlet Empress was the leader of the 30,000 and

she’s fled with the remnant of her army (about 900) back to Malfeas. Char,

Marcus, Shadrach and Cathak Erland were at the battle, although Erland and

Marcus were missing at the end of it. James arrives too late to help in

the battle, and can only wander through the aftermath – thousands of dead

and dying, mostly floating in a foul swamp/lake.

Char and Shadrach journeyed north with a Fae (one of Char’s chosen

‘scouts’) and Strength of Many. They met a Sidereal Exalted who explained

that even though the Sidereals chose to kill the Solars 2000 years ago,

some of their number opposed them. These ‘opposers’ <ahem> were called the

Gold faction, after the colour of the Solars they supported. The others

were called the Bronze faction. He carried a message to the four, telling

them that Rathess was the answer and that the Solar Deliberative needs to

be re-established in the ancient seat of their power – Rathess.

Char and his Fae companion left to go Northeast to the ruins of Rathess,

while Shadrach returned south to the Fae stronghold, ready to pursue the

Scarlet Empress in to Malfeas. At this point, James joins them.

Ant:  I have at least one player tonight, and possibly Matt Baker will be joining too. Cathak Shadrach (Carlos) is going to attempt to persuade his arch-enemy, the Scarlet Empress, to return from the Dark Side (the fool), and since this is the last time he’ll be able to play this block, he wants to play. Strangely.

Week 9

Ant: As far as I know, James will be contacting Marcus and Braxus via telepathy

spell. I’d like to be cc’d in every communication, please! The reason for

it is that the Unconquered Sun will know what has been said, and he’ll be

asked for his judgement in the matter. I need to know all the facts!

Ace: Exhalted lose ends

My demigods are walking their paths of destiny. Anyway who wants to go to

hell??

Jirah has been there, and Char has enough on his plate as it is thankyou

very much

Gm’s any recommendation on controlling them??

Ant: It’s true that Marcus, Char, Braxus, Jirah, James, Shadrach, Turoc and

Erland (whew! Have I missed any?) have a destiny to go to. Char and

Marcus are actively pursuing theirs. Erland is missing, Turoc is ignoring

his (he’s gone back to his barbarian people), Braxus and Jirah are sort of

ignoring theirs – baiting the Dragon-Blooded, James and Shadrach are

currently in hell, looking to escape with their greatest enemy as an ally.

But still you all continue to further the plans of the Unconquered Sun very

much, thank you. He’s quite happy with your progress.

Ant: Have any of you actually spoken about the events in the game? James was

going to use magic to contact the two Zeniths.

Ant: I think Braxus isn’t available for comment at the moment.

The Unconquered Sun has something to say.

Wonder if we’ll see a fight between James and Shadrach?

Matt B: Not sure how much of a fight that’d be, really.. Especially as I’d probably

catch him by surprise

Ant: Although the dawn caste DOES have the Scarlet Empress on his side

Matt B: A tough night caste versus a dawn caste? I think it’s the sorcery which

will tip the balance…..

Matt B: Revenge is a dish best served Cold.

James might be borderline psychotic when he’s peeved, but he’s not stupid

enough to do anything in the middle of hell. Depends how angry he gets I

guess, which at the moment is somewhere between scaldingly hot and

volcanic. Not fond of being backed into corners with someone else I don’t

particularly trust dictating my life or death. That and the aphorisms,

which would be fine if any of them ever actually made any sense, but they

SO rarely do!

We need to follow through whatever the idiot has put in progress now,

unless an alternative presents itself in the meantime. Once the dust has

settled however, Shadrach and James will most definitely be having.. Words.

Ant: I think you need to make a wits + occult roll, needing as many successes as

the opposing attack got. If you fail, it blinks out. If you succeed, it

takes the hit as if it were hurt, vanishing if it ever takes (cumulatively)

as many hits as you have…. What do you think?

Ant: OK, so James, Shadrach and the Empress will be coming out through hell

together? Ah, the possibilities are endless.

Ant: This is all very well, but you have yet to make a perfect circle.

Gordy: What happened to my Eclipse character?

Ant: You haven’t played him (yet).

Gordy: Give me a chance. I was looking forward to playing him with Braxus and company.

Ant: But he is out there. Almost full circle.

Ant: He hasn’t been Exalted yet. He’s still somewhere between Kirighast and Gem

with plenty of slaves for the mines.

Ant: Won’t be a perfect circle til you play him.

Ant: The clearing is deserted, barring a small group of individuals circling a

dying fire. Twisted trees line the clearing, their black trunks picked out

in the silver moonlight. In the darkness, little can be seen of each of

the dancing individuals, although occassionally the moon appears from

behind clouds to illuminate the scene. Each robed figure dances around the

dying fire, each singing a song last heard centuries ago. Glints of silver

can be seen reflecting from them as they dance. Then the central one

shouts “Zsofika, The Kite Flute, come to us”.

Suddenly, distant drums begin to sound. The embers of the fire burn low,

and a humanoid figure seems almost to fade in from the darkness. A female

figure, tall and lithe, with black skin, great soft eyes, and long red

hair, with brass bells woven in.

The central robed figure steps forwards. “Begin your celebration, Zsofika.

Braxus is your target! Braxus! And he is with another you may choose –

Jirah Ashad.” The voice rises to a shriek “James, Shadrach, Erland, Marcus

and Char! All these you can choose!”

Her dark skin smoking, and her eyes showing the blaze of the fire before it

died, she steps forwards in time with the drum beat, the bells in her

crimson hair ringing as the breeze picks at it. After taking 10 steps, she

draws her swords and clashes them together, gnashing her teeth as she does

so. all in time with the drum beats. Each 10 steps after, she crashes her

dual swords together, sparks flaring in the dim light. After taking 100

steps, a second figure appears in the fire. Carrying a large standard, the

tubular bells hanging from the crosspiece whistle in the wind, a low

howling wail. After another 100 steps, a second standard bearer arrives.

With her train and entourage following behind her, Zsofika begins her celebration.

Week 10

Week 11

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