The party defeated Sigereth, who had brought her pawns to life in order to make the game more interesting. However, the anima banners scorching through Wu-Jian’s skies, as well as the perimeter Live Wire set up around the Cat House, did not make for a subtle affair.
Indeed, a street rat had even witnessed most of their match firsthand, before making her escape through the window.
Agreeing to rendezvous with Sigereth later to uphold her end of the bet, they split into pairs to lay low while the dust settled. Leo and Mnarset returned first to Sans’s shop, and were met with Yung, who came to hear Leo out on behalf of Live Wire’s head, Dr. Delphi. That, however, is a story for another time.
As the air cleared, the four of them sat down for dinner with Sans, who explained that while Wu-Jians aren’t exactly Immaculate fanatics, they don’t exactly associate “Exalted” with “Good News”, either. Knowing that the mob would be at their door soon enough, he suggested either they take advantage of the Empire’s absence to establish themselves – or leave. The dilemma hung in the air for a bit, as he went on to other subjects of interest.
Namely, why the Empire was gone to begin with: Apparently, something massive fell onto the Imperial City, just as the Deliberative was congregating. Almost every political power was either dead or M.I.A. The most prominant survivor, Cathak Cainan, declared state of emergency and (with no one left to protest) took control of the Empire. While most satrapies were forced to pull home at this, it also meant that they would very soon return, in greater numbers, united under his flag.
The rest of the evening was spent on similarly-peppy topics, such as the three sorcerous schools, crude humor, and the difference between tactics and strategy.
Later that evening, Sigereth came by, retailing Cirrus‘s history and whereabouts, as agreed. The four Solars unanimously decided to go after him, leaving Wu-Jian to its fate.
Unfortunately, going after the demon as he heads to Vanileth’s Sanctum would take them weeks using their default means of travel. Taylor suggested summoning Agatae, which would reduce the flight time immensely, but Mnarset flatly refused to summon further demons into their mess.
A short diguise for Jak’s ugly mug and Jade shackles later, they settled for Sans’s shortcut, which only took them as far as Pneuma. However, it did cut their distance in half, as well as put them strategically close to an individual who, according to Sans, might be able to assist them: A man named Stenvall.
When asked if they can repay him somehow, Sans pointed at the blue-and-white marble tower overshadowing the rest of the city: “There’s a dungeon at the base. The Empire uses it to torture beings they believe are Anathema. I’d like for that to stop.”
And with that, he left them at the mercy of the agitated innkeeper. At 2am.