Angels and Demons

Separated but whole - What Jak, Mnarset and Yilling did at Whitewall
"Welcome to Whitewall, papers please..."

And so 3/4 of the group arrived at Pneuma, which was quite different than how our heroes have left it… Probably because of that big struggle the city had with The Necromancer.
Instead of the broken down wall surrounding the city, a new one was built, bigger, stronger and faster than ever. Also more thorny. Scattered at the foot of the walls were balistae operated by giant skeletons. Needless to say our heroes made the right call to land close to The Golden Road where it was safe and sound and FAR away from the spoofy skeletons.

While they made their landing, the gang noticed a bright light on the road. Yilling volunteered to have a look-see. On the road was an empty tent, filled with a bit of supplies and for some reason a drawing of a chubby man in a dress. Other than the tent the mercenary noticed a group of a dozen or so men walking north on the other side of The Golden Road.
Yilling went back to report his findings. Jak suggested they raid the tent for any supplies.

As the three of them approached the tent they saw an arctic fox enter it. As Jak lifted the tent’s flap he saw the familiar disapproving face of Giga, the airship pilot. Unwillingly she invited them inside.

After some arm twisting and bickering from Jak and Mnarset, Giga filled them in on what has happened since last they met. After she left them in the village Giga and crew at hand returned to Pneuma in search of Stenvall. Seeing as the city is in the state that it is, Giga thought it’ll be suicidal to try and enter it, and so she made contact with The Bull of the North to come take care of business. As she made camp on The Golden Road none other than Cirrus bumped into her. The friendly cloud/vengeance seeking demon inquired if by chance she came across Oadenol and gave her one use of his oculus, free of charge. She used it to track down Stenvall, who was in binding… in a sewerage channel… in Whitewall… which just so happened to be closed off because all of the refugees from Pneuma. Since she looked like a refugee, she just bade her time until The Bull arrived.

Feeling responsible for Stenvall’s current state, Mnarset offerd (and gave Giga little choice) to save him. Jak still pondered why would someone draw Penn in a dress when the thing(?) rolled out from under the bed and greeted the gang. Yilling gave Giga some booze in condolences for putting up with all their crap before our heroes departed and made their way merrily up The Golden Road, heading towards Whitewall.

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Soon our heroes arrived at the white wall of Whitewall. There they saw hundreds of refugees camped in a soup kitchen under the banner of High-Rock. Near that a guard was unfazed with a small Zenith who shouted and stomped all around to get him to open the gate for the refugees. This Zenith, as named by Jak, will be forever known as lady Sparkle-Sparkle. Our heroes interrupted the one sided tantrum as they introduced themselves as mercenaries for hire, Bright Yilling producing a letter of employment with The Bull’s sigil on it as proof and vouched for Mnarset and Jak. In a feat of god-like bureaucracy and speed they were given entry into the city, much to lady Sparkle-Sparkle’s dismay.

Inside the city they were led to a simple inn by one of the guards. They were not allowed to enter the inn because Jak high-fived the inn-keeper. With abandon of curse words in Skytongue the guard led them to another inn. They were greeted by a bespectacled inn-keeper who went by the name of Inn-keeper Jr. They bought a room for a week and went around town in search of Stenvall.

On their way to the bath house which led to the sewerage channels they passed an ancient manse. Mnarset pleaded Jak and Yilling to make a visit inside. Yilling and Jak reminded her what happened last time they wasted time in search of someone.

In the bath house they took a bath, thinking mingling with the city folks could bring some leads in but the filth that washed off of Jak drove all the sane people out of the bath. Needless to say the gang left the Bath-house and were never allowed back again. They went deeper down the channels where they met a homeless man who after some donation led them to Kia, a fatherly figure who welcomed them with a broth of an unknown origin. Yilling asked if he saw anything stranger than usual and specifically about people carrying other people in bindings. As it happens he did see a group of people heading deeper into the cave and gladly escorted our heroes.

As they arrived to a dead end Kia left them, wanting to stay uninvolved in the matter. At the end of the tunnel were two tents and leaning on the wall between them was Moira, badly wounded. Yilling approached her but she was still willing to throw her life for her mission.
She told Yilling that if he was sent by Sans he might as well just kill her now. Soon Jak and Mnarset joined them, provoking Moira for answers. In response she brought them Stenvall and told them that Mars herself has sent her to kill the other three prisoners. Belittling her claim our heroes trembled when a different voice spoke out of Moira’s throat, the voice of Mars. While that happened, Jak poked his head into one of the tents only to have a crossbow pointed at him and an order to back away.

After the goddess spoke Moira tiredly went inside the tent Jak disturbed. After a few moments curiosity overcame them and our heroes went to take a look. They found Moira, dead, an icicle lodged in her head. On the ground were three bonded prisoners and no marks of anyone else in the tent. Jak and Yilling dispatched of the prisoners, a blond girl, a boy with a walking cane with the letter ‘P’ engraved in it and a golem.
Mnarset laid Moira’s body to rest and asked if anyone can contact Cirrus so he can confirm that the body of the girl was Oadenol. Yilling called the demon, who inspected the body but told them that she was not Oadenol.

But the boy they killed… That was her brother…

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On the road to Mahalanka - You can't see the forest for all the demons
A foul cloud hangs above

As the gang woke to a new day in the forest they noticed a strange occurrence. The trees of the forest grew and their elongated branches obscured the sun. Taking note of the creatures responsible, the gang decided to continue ahead on land. As they journeyed forward, the sound of trees falling could be heard up ahead.

Soon the group found themselves in front of a large camp surrounded by numerous demons. There were three types of demons clearing the woods while diging and filling holes around the camp: Erymanthoi, Metody, and Firmin.
At the center of the camp was a high chair covered in thornes next to a pole —waving the banner of The Bull of the North.

The group, noticing the very visible demons, decided to debate among themselves on how to proceed when a familiar voice greeted them. It was none other than their old pal Cirrus, informing them that Samea is unavailable at the moment but she will return shortly and that in the meantime the gang is welcomed to some tea while they wait.

This was the closest they’ve gotten to Cirrus since they freed him from his imprisonment and so Jak suggested they try and kill him. Yilling however wanted to find Samea first before dealing with the demon, to which Mnarset agreed as she wasn’t sure they could kill him that easily. Taylor suggested to first converse with the demon so they can try and milk some information out of him. He and Yilling went on to speak with him while Mnarset stayed back with Jak who took his frustration on a giant log, carving some sort of sculpture.

Inside the camp Yilling and Taylor got a closer look at Cirrus, who was floating just above the high chair holding up a scroll and wearing tiny glasses where, if he was more human-like, his nose would be. He lowered himself to their level yet his feet never touched the ground. He greeted Taylor and Yilling, asking them if they enjoyed the tea. Taylor inquired about Cirrus’s goals on creation while Yilling bluntly asked for Samea’s wherabouts. Cirrus gave Yilling an automatic answer to which the mercenary accepted as waste of time. They returned to jak and Mnarset shortly.

Yilling decided to ride head to Mahalanka in search of Samea, and Mnarset asked to join him. The two of them rode on Ludwig, almost making their destination by the hour. As they neared Mahalanka, a trail of corpses welcomed their aprroach followed by the sound of apes, choking on something. Meanwhile Taylor prayed to the god of the forest who happend to be ’Xe at the moment, who was reaaaalllly hungover. He asked the god for guidance and he gave them two pieces of information:

  • Samea was still in the camp.
  • DO NOT GO TO MAHALANKA, IT’S A DEATH TRAP!

Almost at the same time, clutching for dear life as she rode on Ludwig, Mnarset gave out a prayer to ’Xe as well. The god apeared before her and Yilling, stopping them on their tracks and prompting them to turn back… as he made grass throw up.

As the two of them returned, Yilling, with the help of Jak, scoured the forest for Samea with no luck and thus it was concluded that they will go and speak with Cirrus one last time before they decide if they’ll face him in combat. All four of them went on to face Cirrus who simply told them that Samea has been punished in the most poetic way.

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Cirrus handed over an olive branch and offered to give them one use of the Oculus as a show of good faith and revealed that he will leave Creation as soon as he will take revenge on the last person who’s responsible for his imprisonment, Oadenol. He mentioned that after his vengence is complete he will gladly give the gang his Oculus, his anchor to Creation.

The gang pondered on his offer and accepted his show of good will of one use on the oculus and saw Ragara Albok in Sans’s shop up north. Mnarset sent a messenger to see if Sans was alright.

The gang decided to take Cirrus on his offer and made a pact with the demon. They will let him finish what he started, uninturrepted, and he will deliver the Oculus into Taylors’ hands. He then told them the location of Samea, buried in a hole for days inside the camp. Yilling dug her out and laid her body on the ground. He took her tiara and let Taylor say some prayers before her body faded into essence. In anger that they wasted their time debating on what to do, Yilling pommeled a tree into a twig.

With their business complete, Yilling’s mission ending in a failure, they returned to The Bull of the North. In one of the nights in their journey back east, Taylor finished teaching Mnarset his sorcery while Yilling went on to express some rage. He asked Mnarset to sand a massage to The Bull to let him know of the situation.

As they arrived to Icehome they saw The Bull’s army headed south. The gang met The Bull and Yilling handed him Samea’s tiara without a word. The Bull dismissed the mercenary from his service and informed father Taylor that he is heading towards all the monasteries in the north, suggesting they will join him in attacking Pnuma or when he returned from it he will make sure there won’t be any monasteries up north.

And so the gang split, Taylor went to warn his monastery and the others went on to Pnuma.
Taylor blessed them that Mercury will guide their way and Yilling told him that he prays that Mars will have mercy on his soul….

Fun, fun, fun…

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At the walls of Icehome - You pissed off the bull, hope you're lubed for the horns.
Sitting with bulls...

Our story continues the following morning, before dawn breaks, as the bells of the monastery sing their loud choir to wake up all the residents of Secundo Aurora… except for Jak who possessed the iron will to stay in bed until breakfast.
After they filled their bellies with scrumptious food, Mnarset and Jak were invited to join Taylor in the library. Yilling was not part of the invitation but since he was already in the library there was nothing anyone could argue about.
Taylor inquired both Jak and Mnarset about their stay and informed them they will leave east after a small service he’ll shortly make. He then asked Bright Yilling regarding his means of transportation since his men did not report of any steeds in the stables. The mercenary just smiled and told him not to worry.

The service was complete and the gang, with the help of Yilling, prepared to embark as Taylor called forth a carriage made of clouds with a skeleton marionette at the helm of the coach.
Sister Alice came to say her goodbyes and wished them a fair journey. Father Taylor than noticed that the gift for The Bull of the North was missing. Alice informed him that Yilling already took it, which is for the best as he is The Bull’s envoy.
Said envoy told them that he will meet them in the skies in a short while and departed the monastery grounds. The gang began their ascension towards the heavens.

As they floated in the air, waiting for their guide, a great ball of fire came swiftly hurtling towards them and when he neared the coach it suddenly came into a halt. As the flames dwindled Bright Yilling was revealed, wearing full set of armor, the same color as his faded yellow helmet, riding a fiery stag whose skin seemed burned in some places and missing in others. He presented his menacing travel companion as Ludwig and they began their way towards Icehome.

It took them a day and a night to rest (except for Taylor who, to the better knowledge of the gang, who might as well have gone dancing naked in the night in some sorts of ritual) to reach their destination. As they made camp, Jak tried to befriend Ludwig and to his dismay failed before the great beast disappeared out of sight. Yilling was relieved no one lost any fingers in the exchange.
At dinner, while Mnarset tried to feed Yilling one of Sans’s trademarked “Cold-Dogs” , Jak opened up and spoke of his family. Specifically his parents. About their hospitality and how they knew The Great Bull. Yilling than shared a bit of his past, about his birthplace, Willow-creek, how he didn’t remember anything about it other then the fact that today it’s a Shadowland. Mnarset was also interrogated for once about her short-lived stay as a scholar of The Empire.
They than took shifts guarding the camp and in the morning they hit the road again

At noon, as they approached Icehome, flares were shot into the sky as a warning sign, so they descended and waited to be greeted by a welcoming party on land. The party was made entirely by Brunhilda, a big voluptuous valkyrie, wearing a horned helmet and riding an elk. She greeted them and clasped Yillings’ hand in an overjoyed fashion. She than proceeded escorting them into The Bull’s camp, dozens of tents at the foot of the wall of Icehome.

Brunhilda brought them to The Bull’s main tent where they finally saw the great Bull of the North. He set on an enormous chair made from a stuffed wild bear that was small in compression to the Bull. He greeted Yilling with a great bear hug (HA HA.. Please love me) as the envoy presented him with a keg of wine from the monastery. The Bull acknowledged the gift and set it aside. Yilling then presented the gang. The Bull recognized Jak and shared his fond recollections regarding Jak’s parents before asking Yilling for his report on Secundo Aurora. As Yilling delivered his findings bluntly, Taylor interrupted him to try and explain himself. He stopped mid-sentence as the steel of a sword flashed in an instant near his throat. Though it seemed he hasn’t moved an inch, The Great Bull held the blade and informed Taylor that he won’t get to interrupt his envoy a second time. His message received, his mood spoiled, he withdrew his sword.

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Yiliing finished his report and passed Mnarset the mic. Nervously, she told The Bull that they came here to warn his second-in-commend, Samea, that a demon named Cirrus is seeking his revenge on her for his imprisonment. The Bull than informed them that Samea left for Mahalanka for some reason he found boring and uninteresting. Seeing as the gang was set on the task of finding Samea, The Bull ordered Bright Yilling to join them. He than called for Brunhilda to show them the way back out of camp and once more they were on the road again.

The journey to Mahalanka took them three day and two nights. The first night, Taylor began to teach Mnarset his carriage sorcery so she could take the helm if needed while Jak and Yilling exchanged revenge plots and battle scars. Yilling mentioned how he lost his right arm and left eye when he was betrayed by a man named Vergil and Jak told him how every scar on his body (except the one on his ass) was a mark left by Ragara Albok when he inserted strange metals into him.

The rest of the journey was uneventful as the gang made their way deeper into the man-eating ape infested forest of Mahalanka…

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The Monastery - This Rock is so High right now.
Thank the gods they also make wine.

The gang woke in Sans’s shop after their group counseling, the one that was about how they need to stick together and help each other out, only to find out that Leo bolted, gods know where… and Sans!
Seeking answers, Mnarset went up to Sans’s room only to get her Rickrolled.
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That led to a random inspection of rooms by Jak, looking for the drowsy shopkeeper. Sans was found splayed all over the floor of some room, his head adorned by Leo’s signature little pink hat… napping.

As Mnarset interrogated Sans for Leo’s whereabouts, a friendly and not suspicious at all old woman knocked on the shop’s door. She was greeted by both Jak and Taylor. In her hands was a parchment that was left at their doorstep and by her unassuming nature and good old fashioned caring for thy neighbors, she did not want it to be tarnished by the snow. As Taylor thanked the old lady and sent her on her way Jak opened the parchment. it was revealed to be a drawing of Pneuma as if viewed from the sky. The city’s edges were covered in dark clouds.

Jak and Taylor went to Sans, who was busy ignoring Mnarset’s questions as always, and gave him the drawing. After inspecting it for a moment the shopkeeper informed them a few details:
A. The gang’s initials were written on the parchment in Riverspeak.
B. The drawing was drawn with a crow’s feather.

Sans, as he is Sans, informed them that they know of someone with a connection to crows but batted away all their guesses and gave no answers. He than dropped an info bomb that he and Leo were off to Pneuma as he made his quick(?) getaway. Furious at both Leo and Sans, Mnarset ran outside in rage, Jak fast on her heels.

Eventually they both arrived at the crash site of Giga’s ship… Minus Giga and her ship. Mnarset let free her anger, though slim she had hoped Leo will be there. She and Jak returned to the shop, as Jak tried to his best (less worse maybe?) to comfort her along the ride home. Once they settled inside the three of them agreed to set course south-east and pay audience to The Bull of the North and pay a visit to Taylor’s monastery.

The journey took them 15 days by clouds. An uneventful journey, filled with training, chit chat and bonding. It seems little by little the gang grew closer.

On Sunday they arrived at the monastery, just in time for the market where the monastery makes its livelihood and where Taylor hoped he could make some sort of a political pact with Father Claude, a dreadful man by the panic that is seemed by Sister Alice as she greeted them.
She enrolled Mnarset and, unknowingly, Jak to persuade Father Claude to come out of his carriage. After a small conversation Father Claude, charmed by Mnarsets’ inquisitiveness and Jak’s Jak-ness, agreed to join them for dinner.

In the meantime, Arch-priest Taylor set to work, greeting all that have paid tribute at the dining hall, at the other end of the table sat a cloaked man drinking wine. Father Claude entered the hall accompanied by Mnarset and Jak and gave his acknowledgements to Father Taylor for the hospitality and respectfully sat as far away as possible from him. Father Taylor welcomed all those who filled the hall with a awe inspiring blessing. Wineglasses were raised in approval.

After a minor political debate between the Fathers, Sister Alice presented the cloaked man, who didn’t make his presence noticed before as he did not want to interrupt the entertainment, as Bright Yilling, a representative of The Bull of the North and other interested parties. Though his appearance a bit strange Yilling fell naturally into the conversation, losing no composure when Jak and right after him Taylor asked about his caste.

Father Claude, having his goals laid out on the table and his opinion of Taylor clear, made his leave. Bright Yilling, seeing as the gang was heading for The Bull of the North offered to escort them and accepted both Sister’s Alice dinner invitation and Taylor’s tour of the ground. They drank, gawked at books, drank some more, paid respect to the gods in the cathedral, visited the winery to drink even more and than came dinner time.

At dinner Arch-priest Taylor held a pledging ceremony for all the new initiates of his monastery and announced a showmanship match, his bast men against Jak. With his eyes glittery Jak pumped his fist in the air, gettin’ psyched for the mass combat.

The battle’s results were clear. Though close, Jak was triumphant! After the great meals and drinks and the joyous battle that ensued, the residents and guests retired after an eventful Sunday. Some a little bruised and other a little bit drunk.

The Sun will rise again…

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The Airship - Or, Oops is he dead?
The time we went (almost) full circle

After the morning came Mnarset was still in her room. But Leo woke up early and started his day by fixing everybody breakfast. He took note of the boiling hot liquid and served it as “coffee” next to Jak’s and his meal. He offered some to Giga that was horrified because that was Penn’s….thing. And apparently it might kill you. Luckily nobody died from that.

As the morning progressed Father Taylor woke up and as he tried to figure out how to heal quickly from his wounds Giga has confirmed Penn is the medic in Sten’s party. He asked Penn’s aid to make him heal better and… ended up mostly dead. To which the toxic fumes and the weird things Penn must have had poked trough him would have finished the job but Giga was very firm to make him stop this. Father Taylor survived the experiment, to Penn’s disappointment, and had to shave his entire head (now he looks like a weird version of Tenzin). As time flew by things heated up in the airship. The party had a lot disagreements about nearly every topic. So Giga told them to simply get things straight after discovering they are the reason that Sten is in trouble in the first place.

After they cleared their goal to find Cirrus and then to go help Sten and make amends. During this the engine “suddenly” stopped working and Giga had “no choice” but to land a few hours from the nearest town. We said our farewells and flew on our clouds to the town. The town was so quiet and eerie so we stepped into the first house at the edge of the town. It was a toy store and at the center was a toy from the Skytech L. We rang the bell on the counter to see Sans emerging from the shadows. He was listening to our story only to tell us we did poorly (He was right though.)
As the night progressed we made a pack to try our best to aid each other and do our best.

We now face a lot of options which are well to deal. Will we go meet Bull of the North? Will we find Vanileth at his Sanctum? Will Sans actually give himself to the Angels?

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Recap - the adventure time!
Because.

After fleeing Pneuma from an encounter with two soldiers at the Nail of Truth, our party watched the city burn from the wrath of the Necromancer that Stenvall warned them about. The fight looked hopeless from where they watched as three different Anima effects were seen at the city sky’s. Wishing to help the one she framed – Mnarset wanted to go back to the city but was convinced by Leo to go to the ship Stenvall has prepared for them. As they reached the airship there were Sister Alice and her Brother Thomas. They seemed quite displeased with their Father Taylor and seem to demand him to go back to the monastery. He seemed upset with them but still went to the ship. Then the party met Penn the weird human (he isn’t really, right?), Giga the pilot, and Odysseus (see character description). The Party seemed quite and shaken by the situation they left Pneuma at. Each had their way of coping with the thought of loss and danger they left the city to deal with. (Yes, I also think Jak had some feelings about this matter…yeah. He’s just good at hiding them!)

At night the party (except Mnarset) got together at the Boys’ room to discuss further actions. They seemed to be at the same page that we still should go after “Cirrus” and continue our way north.

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The Nail of Truth
Ascending Water 5th, Wooday/Jupiterday/Thursday

Picking up where we left off – our party spent the rest of the day resting and prepping for the long night ahead.
Leo returned to the inn at eventide, explaining that he’d been surveying their target. Sharing his findings with the rest of the group, they began to plot the jailbreak.

Around that time, a formally-dressed man came by their room, accompanied by a pair of Erymanthoi. Introducing himself as Magister Ledaal, he said their belongings must pass an inspection under the head of security (i.e. Stenvall) for anything that might risk the city’s safety. He assured them that if all in order, it will be returned to them the following morning, before taking most of their baggage, and a certain notable possession of Taylor’s.

Following that, Taylor went on to introduce the party to his children, who came to Pneuma to help with the prisoners. It was settled that the two of them will wait by the border in case their assistance was needed.
Later, Thomas got to inspect Jak’s handcuffs, and concluded that while they are breakable, it will be painful, and making sure the Dawn doesn’t get killed in the process will be expensive – in either time, or actual money.

Midnight struck, and the four stormed the tower, using Jak’s familiar Lady to distract the guards via fly-by defecation. The young Terrestrials were quickly disposed of, but doing so was both loud, and highly visible: Alarms were bellowing all around the city by the time they entered the tower proper.
The ground floor was dark, silent, and vacant – with the exception of an immaterial rabbit spirit, whom Mnarset persuaded to show them how to enter the dungeon. Unfortunately, them attempting to do so triggered a trap, which set the floor on fire, as well as drop a Jade wall over the entrance. The latter may not have been so bad, as it kept whatever came after them out of the tower. A short team effort later, the four traversed the fire, and entered the dungeon.

Downstairs, they were vocally met with Moira – a somewhat drunk guardswoman (and Zid), who revealed (behind a rather thick door) that, because of Leo, she knew they were coming (disappointedly noting she expected five of them), and made preparations – setting up traps, calling off the patrol – to accommodate.
However, she was perfectly willing to let the prisoners go, in exchange for safe passage for Zid and herself, plus the name of whoever sent the party (or an equivalent of such).
A long negotiation ensued, which only ended when Mnarset named Stenvall. This was met with confusion and disbelief from Moira, who asked for two minutes to consider.

Meanwhile, the party prepared a poisoned cup of wine as they waited for her answer. Alas, none came. The door opened, revealing a mostly-empty chamber. A short investigation led them to where the guards must have gone – a complex network of tunnels spread beneath the city. Going back and forth through the tunnels, getting a message from Moira that they were still in the tower, but knowing the Nail of Truth’s “Guardian Entity” was hot in the party’s trail, the four escaped through an underwater cave outside the city borders.

Flying north to where an airship would be waiting for them, the party got an eagle’s eye view of what’s been going on in the meanwhile: The Necromancer invaded the city, and his forces were now barely, likely temporarily, held back by Stenvall and a handful of Terrestrials.
Deciding it was not their fight to have, but agreeing to return to Pneuma later, they parted with Taylor’s understudies, boarded the airship, and set sail towards Vanileth’s sanctum.

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Pneuma
"We're asking really really nice." "Aww. No."

Jak, Mnarset, and Taylor awoke in the Dragon’s Eye Inn to find Leo missing from his bed, presumably to investigate the Nail of Truth, as he suggested the previous night.

However, Taylor spoke out against that plan: Replacing the current reign in Pneuma would be more complicated than they assume. Sans’s request to stop what’s going on in the dungeon could wait a few more days. But the longer they stay in the city, the less likely they’ll be able to catch up with Cirrus on time.
Jak agreed saving Vanileth is more urgent, while Mnarset insisted on rescuing the prisoners. Seeing as they couldn’t leave without Leo either way, the three decided they might as well look for the guy Sans told them about; Stenvall.

They went downstairs, where Jak was somewhat harrassed by a… fashion designer of sorts, who gave them her card.
As the three ate their breakfast, an armoured man came by to announce that a “sorcerer with a sense of humor” seemed to be disrupting communications – Infallible Messenger services are, ironically, unavailable. So anyone with information regarding that should speak with him or go to the House of the Blue Wolf – the Realm’s prestigious Magistrate School placed within the city.

A purchase of supplies and a quick chat with the inn-dwellers later, they discovered that the guard who visited the tavern was, in fact, Stenvall – whom they then tracked down to Sans’s sentry station, and explained why they needed help reaching northward.

Unfortunately, with Sans gone – an ominous black feather hovering over his empty station – Stenvall had very little reason to trust their story. The threat of a necromancer roaming nearby made him very unlikely to give up his airship easily, as it is his mercenary company’s job to keep the city standing while the Empire sorts out its mess.

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It was only once Mnarset confessed their being Solars, Taylor that they intended to liberate the city, and Jak that they planned to free the prisoners in the Nail of Truth, that Sten explained to them a few things, among which the true nature of the tower:
It’s a temple, where the Immaculate Lamas negotiate with the gods to decide who gets prayed to on what day. Every Exalted the Wyld Hunt saw right to keep alive is kept in its dungeon – but that doesn’t necessarily make them worth saving. Worse: “liberating” the city with no solid alternative to the Immaculate Order will make it – the last harbour in the entire northern coast – easy pickings for the Necromancer. That is, assuming they could even manage to do so, with the powerful entity currently oathbound at the top of the Nail.

For now, rescuing the prisoners will suffice. They could return once they’ve gathered the support they needed to deal with the city itself. Sten said he’d even volunteer some of his crew to make sure they and the refugees reach safety northward…

On one condition: They will not kill, or loot any of the local guard, until they come back with their new reign. If the four of them, or any of the prisoners, wreck unnecessary havok – they will have to answer to Sten. And he will not be happy about it.

As they bade farewell to the Exigent mercenary, Taylor received a message:
His ‘children’ were coming to Pneuma.

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There and Back Again
"So, yeah. All hail the new Scarlet Empress."

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.

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Sigereth's Riddle
Why Does The Sun Set?

Rejected answers:

  • So that Luna may shine. (“You assume the sun had always set. Once, they shone together.”)
  • So another sun may rise. (Mnarset: “Nooooooooo.”)
  • The Usurpation. (“Ah. No. Way sooner. Earlier than humanity can remember, it seems.”)
  • TUS and Luna do something they can’t do together. (“Direction. Not an answer.”)
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