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 Post subject: Exalted Campaign 3: Blade's Teaser
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:04 pm 
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(10:59:34 PM) Zobot: Sorry about the delay.
(10:59:39 PM) Demo: no worries
(11:00:13 PM) Zobot: Anyways. This is going to be Blade Carrier's teaser thingy for my second Exalted campaign, set, at least in the first part of it, on Sal Maneth.
(11:01:00 PM) Demo: righto
(11:01:20 PM) Snail: Allo allo.
(11:01:29 PM) Snail: It was all my fault Demo.
(11:01:46 PM) Zobot: Woah woah. No need for slinging blame anywhere
(11:01:52 PM) Zobot: Or in this case applying it topically.
(11:02:03 PM) Zobot: It just took us a while to set up. No guilt or anything involved
(11:02:40 PM) Snail: Sorry. ^^;
(11:03:27 PM) Zobot: It's cool. I doubt anyone minds, Geneve
(11:05:03 PM) Zobot: Anyways. Before we get started, as a matter of point I want to ask. During whatever downtime SHE has between her previous adventure and the coming one, is there anything Blade is pursuing or anything she really wants to do?
(11:08:52 PM) Snail: Well, of course she wants to explore and record information about Sal Maneth, and there was the original goal of getting the MacGuffin to Halta. (I kind of envisioned her yelling at Yoriki for removing shinies from her transects at least once.) We've also got a bunch of new people and, while she's no Changing Moon, she has been wanting to keep an eye on all of them and work out how best to keep everyone from killing each other, though I suppose everyone with a modicum of sense is doing that.
(11:09:11 PM) Zobot: Yoriki: *Tends to remove shinies a lot*
(11:10:07 PM) Snail: If she can find one that's non-mutated enough to be a valid target, and there's enough time, she's going to take a rat's Heart's Blood.
(11:10:31 PM) Snail: (Can you tell I've been thinking about this way too much?)
(11:11:18 PM) Zobot: Actually, I approve a lot
(11:11:31 PM) Zobot: And a rat's not that hard to hunt, so I'd give it to her
(11:13:01 PM) Zobot: Alright. So anything else before we begin?
(11:14:33 PM) Snail: She was also going to very cautiously approach the prison again, checking for survivors/escapees from the blaze, though that was something I planned to have her do back when I thought there would be time to deal with an outcome other than "charred walls and nothing else". And she was going to look for records of Keystone, prison records or somesuch, if there were any to be found. Other than that... well, you already know she was looking after Keystone, and that when she gets the news and leaves Sal Maneth I was planning to have her leave Keystone with Jan.
(11:15:13 PM) Snail: All of this, except the last bit, was planning for a continuance of the original campaign.
(11:15:52 PM) Snail: If a lot of it has to be set aside or glossed over in the interest of time, I completely understand.
(11:16:23 PM) Zobot: Well... investigating for records of Keystone, prisoners who survived, and so forth, is all in Demo's territory, so I'll defer to whatever he decides on that. It's less important regarding tonight and what happens, but it's good to know
(11:19:12 PM) Snail: Alright.
(11:19:26 PM) Demo: Lessee... there'd be no survivorsd. that trap was meant to be thourough. as for keystone, there'd probably be some cursory notes on her
(11:22:48 PM) Snail: Eesh. Good thing she'll have a serious puzzle to distract her from the prison then. =(
(11:23:54 PM) Zobot: In any event... while operating the ship/city one day, Blade Carrier is suddenly and abruptly bombarded by warning indicators from Sal Maneth's AIs.
(11:25:32 PM) Snail: (lemme know when you're done setting up and I should respond)
(11:26:03 PM) Demo: Cent: *cutting through the din of wwarning lights and sirens* sorry about that ma'am. They;'re automatic. Anyway, it seems there's an odd power fluctuation near one of the main engines in one of the storage bays i believe.If left alone it could be a serious problem for Sal Maneth remaining in the air.
(11:26:07 PM) Zobot left the room.
(11:26:50 PM) Zobot entered the room.
(11:26:56 PM) Zobot: Thank you... what was the last post?
(11:27:32 PM) Demo: Cent: *cutting through the din of wwarning lights and sirens* sorry about that ma'am. They;'re automatic. Anyway, it seems there's an odd power fluctuation near one of the main engines in one of the storage bays i believe.If left alone it could be a serious problem for Sal Maneth remaining in the air.
(11:28:40 PM) Zobot: (Geneve, you can respond now)
(11:31:00 PM) Snail: Blade: Right. Thank you, Cent. I'll take a look. Do you need someone to remain here?
(11:31:48 PM) Demo: Cent: I can maintain basic functions in caser of an emergency.
(11:33:20 PM) Snail: Blade: Alright. Call me if you need me.
(11:33:33 PM) Snail: ((*hopes this is appropriate*))
(11:34:29 PM) Snail: She's going to check the problem out immediately on her own first.
(11:37:25 PM) Zobot: Alright... Cent can direct Blade to the right avenue, but as she's running, Sal Maneth begins to start experiencing some turbulance...
(11:37:49 PM) Snail: Blade: What's going on?!
(11:37:56 PM) Zobot: You're going to have to make an athletics + dexterity check
(11:38:47 PM) Snail: (wow, I was terrible at ability dot allocation)
(11:39:19 PM) Snail: (nothing xp can't fix I guess)
(11:39:26 PM) Zobot: Otherwise Blade's going to take longer to get there as she keeps getting knocked over, tossed and turned
(11:39:29 PM) Demo: Cent: the earlier energy fluctuations are growing more...problematic. I'm attempting to compensate with the other engines.
(11:40:24 PM) Snail: 5,1,4,4,10, 10 (4 successes)
(11:41:47 PM) Snail: How does she do?
(11:42:54 PM) Zobot: Alright. Blade manages to keep her footing in spite of the excessive turbulence. As she she's getting closer, however, she starts to notice that things are... changing. Parts of the ship that were broken and battered before are starting to look... new. And parts that seemed functional are suddenly broken
(11:43:38 PM) Zobot: She has to force her way through at least two doors that Cent reported were fully functional just a few moments before, but other systems seem to make her path easier
(11:46:29 PM) Snail: Blade wishes very much that she had time to investigate this phenomena further, and is increasingly uneasy, but first priority is not falling out of the sky. She is likely cursing. Has she gotten to the original disturbance?
(11:47:24 PM) Zobot: Eventually, she finds her way into a large empty storage room, the door of which is covered with what look to be prayer slips inscribed with odd symbols... the door looks to have popped open, and behind it there's an intense white light...
(11:48:37 PM) Snail: Blade: ...Well THAT'S promising.
(11:49:16 PM) Snail: Does she know what part this is and what it is supposed to be doing instead of that?
(11:49:55 PM) Zobot: As near as Cent has confirmed, it's not a part. At least not one he is aware of. It's something in a storage facility nearby one of the main engines.
(11:52:54 PM) Snail: As she tries to approach to get a better look, extremely carefully, Blade asks Cent if he has any idea what was stored here.
(11:54:33 PM) Demo: Cent: Unfortunately not ma'am. The manifest for that room is at least a thousand years old. and was for perishable foodstuffs.
(11:55:32 PM) Zobot: Alright. Inside the empty room, there's a bright shining light in the center of it, which is almost blinding. Blade can't look directly at it without being forced to shut her eyes.
(11:58:26 PM) Snail: Blade: If this is some sort of weaponized potato, and I die, please tell the others to make up a more impressive death story.
(11:58:57 PM) Snail: Can she approach it?
(11:59:05 PM) Zobot: Is she going to try?
(02/06/2013 12:02:18 AM) Snail: If it doesn't seem like doing so is likely to sear the flesh from her bones. She can't see it properly, but maybe she can see what it's mounted on or what might have triggered it. She won't get too close if she can help it, but she'll enter the room. And she's poised to run back if it shoots death lasers or something.
(12:02:33 AM) Snail: How big is it, and what's around it?
(12:02:35 AM) Zobot: Ok... one second.
(12:03:06 AM) Snail: (It would be really sad if I died of stupidity right now.)
(12:03:49 AM) Zobot: One second. I have to look something up
(12:06:20 AM) Zobot: Ok... at the center of the light are a pair of ivory knives, covered in prayer slips.
(12:07:07 AM) Zobot: (One moment)
(12:07:56 AM) Snail: (*deeply concerned that I have done the wrong thing and am about to die*)
(12:08:05 AM) Zobot: Blade approaches, but then turns and runs away. She runs and runs and runs and runs, until there isn't any of Sal Maneth left to run in. Cent tries to stop her, but she reaches an exit... and then JUMPS.
(12:08:23 AM) Zobot: Geneve, have Blade Carrier roll a number of dice equal to her essence score and tell me how many are successes and how many are failures
(12:12:14 AM) Snail: (...welp)
(12:12:27 AM) Zobot: ?
(12:12:59 AM) Zobot: (What was the result?)
(12:14:09 AM) Snail: (I don't have one yet. I'm just realizing I really, really &#@!$ up)
(12:14:19 AM) Zobot: (On what?)
(12:14:57 AM) Snail: (On approaching the thing, apparently, since I just jumped off Sal Maneth.)
(12:15:09 AM) Zobot: (Just roll the dice and see)
(12:15:32 AM) Snail: 1,1,8 (1 success)
(12:15:50 AM) Zobot: Blade takes one step forward, and then another. The room is beginning to shake and rumble around her as engines fail. A piece of ceiling collapses nearby her, as the blades hold her attention, the Essence of Fate all around her warring with her own moontouched spirit. Her arm raises up, still far from the blades, as if to grasp at them were they closer. Suddenly, the ceiling gives way above her, and shards of metal rain down upon her...

(12:15:53 AM) Zobot: Roll again.
(12:16:36 AM) Snail: (...Oh.)
(12:17:00 AM) Snail: 9,8,3 (2 successes)
(12:18:39 AM) Zobot: Blade is getting near the knives. They're just within her grasp now. She reaches for them, feeling her hand wrap around one. Her head is throbbing as she sees her own lives flashing before her eyes. Thousands and millions of things she chose not to do, of things she didn't say, of things she had dreamed of but never had the courage to follow through on. So many different paths and so many different outcomes...
(12:19:14 AM) Zobot: Blade, make one last roll. A Charisma + Integrity roll
(12:19:32 AM) Zobot: you may substitute manipulation if it's higher, and channel virtues if you wish
(12:20:12 AM) Snail: Including Compassion?
(12:20:53 AM) Zobot: yes
(12:24:30 AM) Snail: Eek.
(12:24:36 AM) Snail: 7,1,2,5,6, 6,2,3 (1 success)
(12:24:49 AM) Zobot: Alright...
(12:26:20 AM) Zobot: Blade's hands seem to move of their own accord. Wrapping around the blades and tugging them, living up to her name as she feels the blades giving way.
(12:29:21 AM) Zobot: As she withdraws both the embedded blades, all the prayer slips on them go flying off in every direction, including into Blade's face. Her eyes are covered as she loses her balance and falls backwards, hitting the floor, the ivory knives flying out of hands. Her mind feels on fire. As consciousness slips away, she sees something... spiders. Small, mechanical spiders, all around the edges of her blackening vision, and where the blades land, a translucent image of a man with closed eyes and shimmering blue hair, his black robe covered in small motes of white light...
(12:29:29 AM) Zobot: She blacks out.
(12:30:03 AM) Zobot: In the void of the mind, the space behind her thoughts, Blade sees something. Another man. A different man.
(12:31:26 AM) Zobot: Gaunt and ghostlike. His body covered in small mouths, all over his body like marks of a pox. The unblemished parts of his skin a ghostly white, both of the ivory knives in his hands. On his face, a grin.
(12:31:35 AM) Zobot: "Hey. Good job, kid."
(12:32:02 AM) Snail: (...weeeeeeeeeelp)
(12:32:08 AM) Zobot: "
(12:32:23 AM) Zobot: "Bout time someone let me loose. I was getting cramps in my neck."
(12:32:52 AM) Zobot: "Hey, yer listening, right? Say something!"
(12:33:14 AM) Snail: "Who the hell are you?!"
(12:34:29 AM) Zobot: "What, have the Moon's chosen slipped so far you can't even tell me my own name when you see me?"
(12:34:59 AM) Zobot: "I'll give you a hint. It starts... with an L..."
(12:54:46 AM) Snail: She stands still, takes a deep breath, and observes him closely, circling around him if she can move in this space to do so. She takes in each detail of man and blades, trying to judge distance, the light, his body language, the nature of the space they're in. Nothing feels quite solid, not even her own thoughts; usually her most trusted weapon, sharp and quick, or purposefully, powerfully fluid as the seal-form which became her soul's second home, they meander now like sickly Wyld-touched beasts. She feels not quite awake, not quite asleep, in that space where truths are half-glimpsed among the nonsense.

"...Well, that you have a name still is something. Now, if you are some form of Luna I will eat my hat. I will purchase a hat specifically to eat it."
(12:55:47 AM) Zobot: "Luna?!? Hah!"
(12:56:48 AM) Zobot: "Try Lucian." He grins.
(12:57:00 AM) Zobot: Shoot... *Lucien
(12:58:08 AM) Zobot: "I don't have a lot of time for this, though." He sheathes his blades and folds his arms. "They'll be coming for you soon if they aren't already. And i've got kids to see. But first, let me give you a bit of a reward. I owe yah, kid."
(12:58:35 AM) Zobot: He points a finger at Blade, whose whole body suddenly feels as if she's simultaneously on a sugar rush as well as being on fire.
(12:59:44 AM) Zobot: "You'll thank me when you're awake, kid." he grins, as he turns and walks into the void.
(01:01:43 AM) Zobot: In the darkness of the mind, another voice, softer... quieter, echoes in her ears. "You needent feel bad, miss."
(01:03:32 AM) Snail: She first tries to chase after him, wanting answers, but stops when she hears the new voice.
"...Who's there now?"
(01:05:20 AM) Zobot: The voice fades in and out, circling her body like the wind, in one ear a moment and then in another. "I don't have a name I recall. I simply am. As I was what kept him bound, you were the blade that cut him loose. And it was Meant.
(01:05:55 AM) Snail: "What is he? Why was he bound?"
(01:08:39 AM) Snail: Her voice catches. "...What did I just do?"
(01:08:43 AM) Zobot: "He was bound to stop him from doing what he exists to do. Now he will return to it. This is not Meant, it is merely nature. You do not write that a bear will choose to hunt for fish, merely which fish it catches and where."
(01:09:56 AM) Zobot: "You saved your own life, and many others. A Seal broke the seal and a Blade cut free the blades."
(01:10:20 AM) Zobot: "You have also released a demon upon this world."
(01:20:04 AM) Snail: "You speak like the startouched," she huffs, frustrated. "All fate and wordplay, and distance. I suppose I should be grateful you strained so close to a straight answer, but I also suppose I don't have the luxury of taking it at face value."
(01:20:44 AM) Zobot: "I... am sorry. It is difficult to be direct. It always was."
(01:21:26 AM) Zobot: "His name is Lucien. The Guardian of Sleep. One of the souls of the End of All Wisdom, one of the most powerful demons of Malfeas."
(01:23:00 AM) Snail: Blade becomes very still, eyes widening.
"...And I set him loose?"
(01:23:12 AM) Zobot: "As it was Meant."
(01:23:47 AM) Zobot: "In no other strand did you manage to do so. In no other time did you not somehow falter."
(01:24:06 AM) Zobot: "And in only one other did you and yours survive."
(01:27:37 AM) Zobot: "Knowing that, what will you do now?"
(01:28:27 AM) Snail: "How can it be a good thing that I just set that loose?! How does that protect- and he- well, I'll just put him back. I'll just have to put him back." She tries to make the task sound simple to herself. "That's what I'll do. ...Sorry I called you startouched."
(01:29:09 AM) Zobot: "I do not believe it was inaccurate. It's difficult for me to tell."
(01:31:24 AM) Zobot: "If you seek to undo what wickness will result of his release..."
(01:31:58 AM) Zobot: "First, you must become recognised as an Elder among your own people. This is the path you must walk."
(01:32:43 AM) Zobot: "I do not know why, but you must. A chance will come soon. You must take it."
(01:33:09 AM) Zobot: "My mind flakes. It cracks and crumbles. I am here, but not wholly and not for much longer."
(01:33:15 AM) Demo: (ok, I need to get to bed. g'night all)
(01:33:20 AM) Zobot: (Night)
(01:33:31 AM) Snail: (G'night)
(01:33:46 AM) Demo left the room.
(01:35:30 AM) Zobot: The blackness of Blade's mind begins to fade to white, as consciousness begins to return, like water being poured into a glass
(01:35:39 AM) Snail: She softens. "Well... wait, if you can. You seem nice enough and you haven't tried to kill me yet. That I know of. ...Thank you for the help, if it's genuine. Is there anything else you can tell me?"
(01:35:43 AM) Snail: (Dang)
(01:35:48 AM) Snail: (sorry)
(01:35:54 AM) Zobot: (Nah, it's cool)
(01:36:36 AM) Zobot: "Soon, friends will arrive. You will need them. They will need you. It is Meant... farewell..."
(01:37:06 AM) Zobot: As Blade opens her eyes. And finds herself in an empty storage room, surrounded with debris fallen from the ceiling

We've learned a lot, but this still isn't going to be easy. But I don't think the elder star's confidence in us was misplaced. I know we can do this! We'll set things right! ...somehow.

"There is a fine line between a good King and a Despot. A King is best when His subjects barely realize that He exists. When His work is done and His will is fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Xin Yun

 Post subject: Re: Exalted Campaign 3: Blade's Teaser
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:55 am 
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The previous teaser is now non-canon and is here for archival purposes only. Instead, there is now basically an entire mini-chapter because holy frig Z is amazing and dedicated. Wow.

It's much better so you should read that, assuming you didn't already.

 Post subject: Re: Exalted Campaign 3: Blade's Teaser (Commentary Version)
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:16 am 
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This version is not fully edited, and includes OOC comments which could have been clipped out. I may put up a more fully edited version in a little while, just because this adventure is so long that it's hard to read in chat format.

Zobot: Ok. It has been several weeks since Blade Carrier's adventure on Sal Maneth with her friends. During this time period surprisingly enough nothing has happened at all.
Snail:That IS shocking.
Zobot: Oh, there are the odd moments of panic, and the group rushing to keep parts of Sal Maneth from breaking down, but these are not challenges to be faced. These are merely bumps in the path, worthy of notice in the immediate present but upon reflection, almost laughably forgettable.
Zobot: But time is like a river... the dull lull of slower currents can easily shift to roving rapids with little notice.
Zobot: It starts with a note, carried by bird. Blade is working on a project at one point when a small red-feathered bird lands on her head, preening its feathers.
Snail: "? ...How did you get in here?"
In spite of her choice of words, Blade isn't too concerned with how a little bird got in where no little bird rightly belongs. It's carrying a note. As messengers go, she's seen stranger things prove more capable. What puzzles her is who would be contacting her by messenger bird when Echo contacts her through her book, and vice versa.
Zobot: The bird hops once on her head, then flaps down to her feet, reaching down to pull at a string on one leg. Upon pulling it loose, a small scrap of parchment unwraps from its leg, which it nudges forward towards Blade on the floor with its beak.
Snail: Blade takes the note, thanking the bird as she does, and wearing a bemused, curious look she begins to read.
Zobot: In any event, the note is written in very small script, which is very difficult for Blade to read at first, but eventually she can make it out. It reads as follows.
Zobot: "The Lunar Elder known as Echo is gone. Either dead or beyond our sight at moment. My apologies for how blunt this must be. You are summoned to Echo's territory so we can decide what must happen now, and how we may find his fate. This bird, Chiara, will act as your servant until you arrive. Please take care of her. -Tamuz"
Zobot: To provide context, Blade knows that Tamuz is the name of one of the other Lunar Elders, whose territory is the nation of Chiascuro. He's known to be a skilled planner and tactician.
Snail: ((I actually knew that! Yay Book of Lunars! ...Also, dang. If he's getting involved in any way, that's super serious.))
Snail: Blade stares at the tiny scroll, rereading it over and over as if the tiny script might shift meaning if only she finds some word she accidentally skimmed over.
It doesn't, of course.
"Well. ...Well." She looks at the bird. "...Chiara, right? Let's... let's get you something to eat. Must have been a long flight. You look like a seed eater, am I right?"
Zobot: It nods. "Peep!"
Zobot: Although it doesn't seem like it talks, it takes off of the ground, circles Blade, and then lands on her shoulder, where it perches gently.
Snail: Finding something remotely edible for the bird on Sal Maneth proves a worthy distraction even from such tremendous and distressing news. A few hours and one brief combat with something probably descended in part from a blackberry bramble later, the messenger is fed, and Blade is sitting on the floor of an old barracks, reading the note yet again.
Gone? Dead? Maybe dead. Missing. Tamuz, as in... that Tamuz?
Frustratingly, she finds that one part of her mind has become fixated on certain Lunar history lessons and the possible implications of the messenger bird's name. She tries to shut it out. One distraction was enough. This needs dealing with.
It seems she has a journey to prepare for.
Zobot: Mmm...
Snail: The important thing, she decides, is not to panic. Planning is the enemy of panic. She will have to make certain she does whatever is left for her to do here to ensure Halta has a fighting chance, though she's already accomplished most of that. She'll have to make certain that Keystone is safely away somewhere. She'll have to make sure Rayne doesn't murder Relentless and Relentless remains safely occupied with books, and... Yoriki. She should speak to Yoriki first. The city accepted him as its leader, so really he's the one in charge... in a sense... she likes to think they've been doing this together, as a team.
Snail: ((I hope this isn't rambling on too long.))
Zobot: It's cool
Zobot: So what is she doing first?
Snail: She's going to talk to Yoriki. Well, find him, then talk to him.
Snail: ((If that's okay? I'm not exactly sure where I should be going with this or if I should skip ahead or whatnot... Hope I don't derail anything...))
Zobot: (Nah, it's fine. Trust me. When I give you a set direction, you'll know it
Zobot: Part of this is for resolving things with Blade. Plus, I like playing Yoriki.)
Zobot: Yoriki is at PRESENT spending time in the lower part of Sal Maneth, mapping out the lower areas that Cent has lost data on. It's not hard to find him, since he's leaving a trail behind to keep himself from getting lost.
Zobot: Blade finds him presently trying to figure out a machine in what looks to be a holding bay. He looks up at her when he hears her approach. "Blade? What's wrong? It's sort of odd seeing you down here..."
Snail: Blade is very tempted to burst into tears.
She doesn't. But she can't remember any of the things she was going to say.
Zobot: Yoriki: Is... is everything alright?
Snail: "Not really."
Still at a loss for words, she hands him the tiny parchment itself. She sits down on the nearest object she can trust to hold her weight without damage, an old crate, upside down and probably empty.
Snail: "Echo was- is- my mentor. A little like you and Sal Maneth's god."
Zobot: Yoriki shifts uncomfortably, taking the parchment. He's clearly not used to trying to read people like this, and old habits compel him to look over Blade trying to detect anything he can. Eventually, he looks over the parchment and reads it over. "Oh. I see... want to talk about it?"
Snail: Blade lets the silence grow just long enough to be uncomfortable before she answers. Her voice is carefully level."There's a lot I need to do. There's still repairs I want to oversee before I leave, and I need to make certain Rayne and Relentless continue to coexist in a murder-free environment. I don't think Keystone should stay here. I know someone safe, good with Exalts, good with children. I'm not sure what's going on with that fellow who took the sword but you seem to be handling him just fine anyway. I'd been meaning to ask you if you could just make certain Haltan authorities keep the old dig crew away and you already know about my... the Water Aspect leading the dig and my feelings about her and he's not dead dammit!"
And now there are tears, just a few, as her tiny claws dig raw spots in her palms.
Snail: "He's not. He's too damned cunning for it."
Zobot: Yoriki sits down next to her. "... cunning people can make mistakes too, Blade. Sometimes they can make bigger ones than most. I used to think I was cunning." He sighs. "But if you think he's alive, than I think he is too." He leans in and hugs her as she cries.
Snail: When things have been difficult in the past, Blade was nothing if not vocal about it. Strange is the contrast, then, to see her grow quiet again and still as a stone. After a little while she seems to revive, though she looks embarrassed, as if caught lazing when she should be working. She coughs. "So, I'll have to go away for a while and help sort this mess out. And it will be a mess, losing track of an elder. God, the politics. Augh." She sighs. "I thought you should know first."
Zobot: Yoriki: And I take it by your tone I can't come along?
Zobot: He sighs.
Zobot: Yoriki: Even presuming I could. If we leave Cent alone, what would happen here? And there's too much to do... Arrgh."
Snail: Blade gives him a low, rueful smile. "Yes, exactly. Unfortunately, little balls of sunshine and knives are not generally welcome in the pack at times like these... or... ever, really. And you have your own circus to be ringmaster of here."
Zobot: Yoriki sighs. "Well... um..." He's clearly not comfortable. Probably because he's never been in a situation like this before. Ever. "...I... well, if this is what you need to do, I'll support you every bit of the way, ok?" He winces. "If things get hard, just... remember you have friends here. If we can, I promise we'll do what we can to help."
Snail: Blade nods, trying not to wince in sympathy. She has a little experience. Not much. "I'll remember. Honestly though, for now, I don't want you anywhere near this. Tamuz, the one who sent that message? He's old. Old enough for grudges against the original Sun Kings... or Sun Queen in his case, I guess. There are others who are more general about their grudges though, or just plain Wyld-mad. No disrespect, but if you met up with any of them and something went wrong, they could turn you into a fine, smooth paste."
Zobot: Yoriki: ... that's not going to make me feel much better about letting you walk into a bunch of them.
Snail: Blade laughs. "I'm a lunar, Yoriki. It's less of an issue with me." She decides not to make a comment on her heritage, as that would be less reassuring, but the thought does occur and she quietly flags it to mull over later. "At any rate, this needs to be done. We need to find him. In the meantime, we can't let his work fall apart."
Of course it will have to be a group effort. If they were leaving the matter up to a single one of Echo's people, it wouldn't be a pup like her.
Zobot: Yoriki: Alright. Just let me know when you're leaving, ok?
Snail: Blade: Of course.
Snail: Blade: When you're done down here, I think we should work on a plan for what happens here next, together. United front and all that. Plus I want SOME input- can't have you stealing my site from me.
Snail: She grins.
Zobot: Yoriki nods. "Heh. Alright. I'll be up in a day or two, ok?"
Snail: "Okay." She leaves, still trying to keep up a smile.
Zobot: (Mind if we skip ahead a bit?)
Snail: (Not at all. You know about what she was going to do.)
Zobot: And days pass as Blade prepares for her trip, the bird Chiara following her around like a baby duck.
Snail: She occasionally gives it odd small jobs, figuring even a bird familiar likes to feel useful when things need doing.
Zobot: Blade finds that the bird is surprisingly smart, and can understand complex commands, but is seemingly incapable of talking beyond basic chirps and peeps.
Snail: She's known worse conversationalists.
Zobot: Heh. As she prepares to leave, Yoriki finds her.
Zobot: Yoriki: Hey.
Zobot: Yoriki: Um, in our part of the Isle, I don't know if this is true elsewhere, but where I grew up, before I left, of course, well, um... typically it's customary to give someone you care about, um, not necessarily care about THAT way, but you know how it is, and um... well... I guess... I mean... a gift. You give people a gift to show that you'll miss them. And, well, I've never done it, but I have one, and... gah. just take it.
Snail: Blade is trying very hard not to laugh, because it would be mean.
Zobot: He holds up a small steel chain with a small symbol on it, a starmetal symbol of what appears to be the letter "P" combined with the letter "L".
Zobot: Yoriki: I found it in a room down in the depths of Sal Maneth... I don't know much about it. I would have preferred something a bit more meaningful, but I couldn't find anything else that was fitting...
Snail: Blade has a difficult time restraining herself from once again reminding him not to remove the shinies from their original position until after they've been recorded and cataloged. Nevertheless, she's genuinely touched, and gives him a hug.
Zobot: Yoriki hugs her back, faintly smiling
Snail: "...You know what, I have something for you too. I've been carrying it for too long now, I think." She reaches for her belt. "Anyway I was right, and I did work out what it really was. Finally."
Zobot: Yoriki: Huh? What do you mean?
Snail: She places a small oricalcum knife in his hand. The handle is intricately and skilfully decorated, the blade of quality material but oddly poor crafting in comparison. It's the same blade that hasn't left her side in all the time he's known her. Of course, he also knows it to be a key.
Snail: ((I hope this is okay.))
Zobot: Yoriki: ... your blade? But...
Zobot: (It's ok. It also surprises the crap out of Yoriki, but it's touching)
Zobot: Yoriki: That's... but that's yours. It's really important to you, isn't it?
Snail: Blade: That's an understatement. I'm named after that thing. If you lose it there will be blood. ...But some things you just have to learn to let go. Or at least, to trust to someone else.
Snail: She doesn't wear the charm, but instead clasps it securely where the knife hung moments before. "I'll hang on to this instead, for now."
Zobot: Yoriki: ...I'll keep it safe and protect it with my life. *He swallows*
Zobot: Just so you know, if Blade attunes to the Symbol, it costs 1 mote of essence to attune, it's considered a starmetal artifact, and as she soon discovers it adds a blanket 1 bonus die to her Integrity and Resistance for resisting the effects of any charms used on her by Raksha, Demons and/or Yozi... and Sidereal
Snail: Ohhh.
Snail: *makes a note of this*
Zobot: You can call it whatever you wish, but I'm for now just referring to it as Yoriki's Gift, or The Symbol
Snail: I'll call it Yoriki's Gift. =)
Zobot: Anyways...
Zobot: Blade departs on her journey, heading back to Echo's territory, where she's been summoned.
Zobot: This journey will take weeks even by birdflight, assuming Blade has a flying form, or even longer if she lacks any mode of transportation
Zobot: What forms does she have, anyway?
Snail: Don't forget she would be traveling with Keystone initially, until she dropped her off with Jan. That'd slow her down.
Snail: And...
Zobot: Point.
Snail: You said I could have the rat, right?
Zobot: Yes.
Snail: In which case, seal, rat, lark, draft horse.
Zobot: Yes. She'd be traveling with Keystone.
Zobot: It is about a week into the trip that, upon sleeping, Blade Carrier finds herself in a dream. Surrounding her, a black void, filled with twinkling silver stars.
Zobot: In the darkness, a voice rings out. "He is not dead." it says, in a monotone, masculine tone.
Snail: Blade takes in her surroundings cautiously. "...Who's talking?"
Zobot: "I/We are." The voice speaks again, the words "I" and "We" both said at the exact same time. "The Lunar you know as Echo has not died. But his time runs short."
Snail: "What do you know about it? Can you tell me what happened? Where he is?" Her voice is steady and half-demanding, if flat in the strange open space. There is the slightest note of desperation in it.
Zobot: "We/I cannot. My sight was blinded long ago. I/We would offer assistance however, if We/I can."
Snail: "...Who are you?"
Zobot: "I/We do not know."
Zobot: "Something/Things that do not have name/names."
Zobot: "Regardless, our/my time draws short. If We/I could, I/We would offer you our condolences. The one known as Echo was a man who built bridges instead of walls. Such people must prepare for the world itself to rise up against them even without knowing what it does."
Zobot: "Gaia's children too often do not understand that they must be together and not apart."
Snail: "Wait!" she cries, aware that she's being given some sort of clue or chance, afraid of missing it. "Please, if you want to help me, tell me what you do know. Or at least tell me how you think you could help."
Snail: "...I agree with you. I... have experience, with that problem. We need our bridge builders. We can't afford to lose them."
Zobot: "That is why he will in coming months die. Some of those that snatched him away do not understand the need to tear apart old walls. Others involved do not wish for them to be torn down."
Zobot: "If you would seek him, hunt him, his fate changes. He may yet live. But if you do so as you are now, you will die. There is no doubt of that."
Zobot: "Knowing this, will you still seek him?"
Snail: "Yes." She doesn't hesitate. "Though I'd rather not die if you have another suggestion."
Zobot: "Then you must become more than what you are now."
Zobot: "You are almost unique among your kind. There exists yet the opportunity for you to know the previous holder of your Mark."
Zobot: "If you would walk this path, I would lead you to where they rest."
Zobot: (Having fun?)
Snail: ((Yesssssssssss.))
Snail: She's taken aback. For a moment she imagines the impossible, then the even greater strangeness of the real possibilities nearly overwhelms her. For a moment, despite the fear, anxiety and confusion that have plagued her since the arrival of the red bird, all of which have only reached a crescendo here... she feels a leap in her chest. Curiosity. Excitement. It's an effect few things other than the mysteries of Creation's history have on her.
Snail: "Lead the way."
Zobot: There is a sealed chamber within a few miles north of a small town called Murden's Falls. It is near Echo's territory. Within this chamber a young lunar hid herself away from the world when the Servants betrayed their Masters and saved their World. Find this chamber and brave its dangers and you may have a chance to meet her.
Snail: "Thank you. I'll go." She pauses a beat. "I still don't have any idea who you are, or what you are. Why are you helping me?"
Zobot: "We/I do not entirely know. It may be possible that it is in my/our nature to do so. I/We only know that we feel a need to act in the defense of Gaia. My/Our Mind(s) flakes. It cracks and shatters and rebuilds itself. I/We may be mad.
Snail: Blade is less discomfited by this than one might expect. She knows mad people. Trusts mad people. Her goddess is widely considered mad, and is at any rate a goddess of certain kinds of madness. The mad can be faithful, dependable, and valuable allies, no more nor less than the sane are.
Snail: "Thank you, again. Thank you so much."
Zobot: "I/We will assist if we can. The world is nearing the end of an Age. Things are reaching a boiling point. We/I seek to pr-" And then suddenly Blade wakes up to the scent of Keystone making breakfest.
Zobot: Bacon.

INTERMISSION (rambling about the necessity of food cut for boring)

Zobot: And the weeks pass like days as the journey continues. Throughout this trip, bonds are strengthened, friends are made who may never be seen again, the Wyld Hunt is narrowly avoided at least three times. In a more extended narrative, this journey may have been comparable to the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Snail: ((...That'd actually be really neat.))
Snail: ((Not a thing that will happen though.))
Zobot: (Hey, if you ever want to write up some of them, I may give some SSXP for the extra effort or even possibly work it into canon somehow. No promises, just saying)
Snail: ((Oooooooo. I may very well do that.))
Zobot: However, all journeys end eventually, as Murden's Fall looms in the distance.
Zobot: Now at this point we have a split. If you want, Demo is willing to play Keystone and/or has time, you can bring her along with you. Otherwise Word of God dictates that BC takes her to Jan's home first.
Snail: Jan's home first. It would have been putting Keystone in unnecessary danger otherwise, especially since this is also close to Echo's territory.
Snail: Which is currently Echoless.
Snail: So yeah, she's alone.
Zobot: Ok. Then the first thing to work on is finding the sealed chamber itself. You were told it was to the north of Murden's Fall, but that's not very specific
Zobot: Does BC have any skills that may aid her in finding more coherant directions?
Snail: Survival 2, Investigation 4 with a three dot specialty in archaeological sites, Lore 4 with a three dot specialty in Archaeology, Inevitable Genius Insight, and... knows how to read Old Realm?
Snail: Any of that relevant?
Zobot: If I didn't know better, I'd say that was you being smug. :-)
Snail: Whee!
Zobot: Anyways... so there's a few ways you can go about doing this. If you think of another way, I'm also willing to go along with it. But you can do things such as ask the locals for insight using Investigation + Charisma, use Survival + Wits to search for the site itself, or use Lore + Intelligence to try and recall anything about this region that may be useful.
Snail: All of the above or just one?
Zobot: Any/all of the above. However, I will say to save on time we will not be doing this in detail.
Snail: Sounds good.
Snail: I'll start with Lore+Intelligence. Archaeology specialty apply?
Zobot: Yes
Snail: 6,6,6,8,5, 3,3,7,8,1, 7,1 (4 successes)
Zobot: Alright. With that roll, Blade can remember she's heard legends of an odd place to the north where there is a waterfall that flows upwards, as well as another place, a cave with odd crystals that is said to be home to a terrifying creature.
Snail: Okay. Investigation + Charisma next. Specialty apply there?
Zobot: Yup.
Snail: 6,8,1,5,1, 8,6,6,10,2 (4 successes)
Snail: I'm gonna go ahead and roll the last one too.
Snail: 8,9,1,3,7 (3 successes) on Wits + Survival
Zobot: Murden's Fall is a pretty slow town. Not much happens here these days. But legends say that in ancient times the once proud Wyld Hunt sought out a terrible Sun King from ancient history, facing him at an old storage cache hidden in the mountains to the northwest, near a mountain river.
Zobot: Finally... BC searches the surrounding countryside only to find a discovery most people may have overlooked!
Snail: =D
Zobot: There is a waterfall to the northwest of Murden's Falls where once every twelve hours, the flow of water suddenly reverses itself, moving upwards and pulling anything within it up with it. This happens for a single half hour, and once it does, there's a small hatch at the base of the waterfall, underwater, that opens during that time period.
Zobot: It's hard to find unless you know what to look for both because of the strong currents as well as the impracticality of where you're looking.
Zobot: Getting near the hatch, Blade feels the familiar hum of the native energy of the world itself. There's a manse here.
Snail: Welp. Let's go down the hatch.
Zobot: The hatch itself has a strong current of water bursting out of it. It may not be easy to swim through it, especially not in the limited time frame. You're going to have to make a Strength +... hm... I'd say either Survival or Sail, to swim into it
Zobot: Er, Survival or Athletics.
Zobot: If you have any thing that gives a benefit to swimming or lets you breath underwater, it might be useful
Snail: ...She's a seal.
Zobot: I know. Just saying for the purposes of practicing DMing.
Snail: =p
Snail: ...Huh. I can't find any specific dice-giving benefit for swimming written on my sheet. =/
Zobot: Ok. Well, I'll give you two bonus dice for now. We'll work stuff out from now
Snail: Okay.
Snail: (Was going to ask if I needed to stunt it.)
Zobot: you can if you want to
Snail: Meh. I'll roleplay it and if it's good enough for a stunt die, so much the better?
Zobot: Sure!
Snail: It's been a while since Blade took her other true form. She spends some time getting reacquainted with the precise guidance of flippers and the powerful, serpentine muscle of head-body-tail all flowing into each other. She's reminded of a gift Jan once made to her, the creation of an ancient naturalist from a time when even many common animals of Creation seemed strange and exotic beasts to the people of the Blessed Isle. An illustration of a seal, it contained an odd note, suggesting that the creature might be cousin to a water dragon.
It takes little time to become comfortable, moreso than she was in a human skin. There's a certain ease of mind that comes with the gliding grace of this form.
Snail: She feels the steady pull of the moving water with her whole body as she traces a semicircle at the base of the waterfall, and the spray kicked up from the clash of water against water prickles against the skin when she surfaces. The sound of it is like a hundred thousand hammers, like great engines, like an unending roll of thunder. It's powerful, and a little disorienting. Under the water is quieter, but even so she feels the weakening of that thunderous roar in her bones as much as she hears it, feels the currents change.
She leaps more than swims, all sinew and force, her own personal current. In the split second between the failing of the downward rush and the dominance of the upspout, she plunges into a chaotic push-and-pull of water which has not yet decided where to go. The sleek body cuts through water as a thin blade glides through open air, and meeting resistance in the second after, she slices through it. The current is weakest at the edges and so she stays as far from center as she can. It nearly costs her the attempt- her tail just scrapes the edge as she passes. She tries to twist herself into open air, and let gravity finish the work.
Snail: ((Aaaand gonna stop there because I don't wanna write succeeding when I might not succeed.))
Snail: ((Bluh. Sorry to waste so much time.))
Zobot: Ok... that is quite well written. While that would have taken too long for me to allow it in a regular game of Exalted given the other players, in here since it's just us I'll allow it
Zobot: That's actually worthy of a 3 die stunt.
Snail: ...Are you serious?
Zobot: You can choose to gain either 1 ssxp or one temporary willpower.
Snail: =o
Snail: Wow!
Zobot: It meets the criteria: Not only is it very well written, it takes into account the character's physical appearance and/or mental state as well as external aspects of the environment and the world around them in a manner that makes sense and looks cool
Zobot: Ok. Suggested theme music:
Snail: (4,4,1,10,4, 4,8,7 (4 successes))
Zobot: Blade swims with all her selkie-ish might, bursting through the small hatch into an underwater tunnel. It goes on for a short distance, curving in the shape of an "U" until she hits surface inside a tiled room with murals surrounding her.
Zobot: Ahead of her is a metal portcullis covering a passage forward.
Zobot: It looks rusty and old.
Zobot: Aside from dust and the odd cobweb, which is odd given the only apparent entrance, Blade doesn't presently see anything else.
Snail: Blade looks around the room with quiet awe. Normally a site like this, untouched, undiscovered, would have her bouncing and laughing with glee. And she is thrilled... but somehow this place commands greater respect. She hauls herself to dry floor and changes back, dark vision becoming slightly worse, to her lament.
Snail: She studies the murals first.
Zobot: Alright. So now you have two problems. Presently no ability to go forward and now it's very difficult to see.
Zobot: Does she have any torches? Without your Seal-Vision it's hard to see the murals in any detail
Snail: I would assume she'd acquire some in town if she was able, knowing where she was going. Would she have been able to find torches within a reasonable distance? Better if she could trade for them in furs, food, etc.
Snail: Though I'm not sure what she would have acquired over the weeks it took to get there, so...
Zobot: It's retroactively assumed that anything she acquired during those weeks she lost or consumed somehow. That being said, I should also point out she can just spend one mote to activate her caste symbol, which generates light to read by
Snail: If you think she wouldn't have them, she will be very sad, but she can and will move on.
Snail: ...
Zobot: It's ok. It rarely comes up.
Snail: Yes. She will do that.
Zobot: Ok. A bright silverly light, like that of a lantern, pours out of Blade Carrier's forehead, illuminating what's in front of her. The whole room isn't illuminated, but it's still enough to see the murals by.
Zobot: Each of the four walls of the room shows a different mural. The one on the west wall depicts a large man with a bright golden halo leading people in building an enormous castle amidst several mountains
Zobot: In his right hand he holds a key, and in his left, a tome
Zobot: The North Wall's mural is split down the center with the inclusion of the doorway. it depicts two scenes in the forest and mountains of a large silver-painted mountain lion tearing apart odd demonic creatures.
Zobot: In one of the pictures she fights with a bow and arrow, in the other, with a large sword.
Zobot: The East wall depicts the Mountain Lion, now in a humanish form, standing next to the halo'd man in a large dining hall, surrounded by people. They are seated next to each other, one holding a knife and the other holding a fork.
Zobot: The South Wall depicts a large and terrifying battle with unworldly creatures spewing forth from a formless void, with many soldiers fighting for their lives. Amidst the battle stand both the mountain lion, the halo'd figure, and several men in different colored armor.
Snail: Blade inhales sharply. She could spend months just looking at these murals.
...And someday, she might. But today isn't that day.
Zobot: Oddly enough, looking at these murals instils in Blade a sense of familiarity.
Snail: Now, the portcullis. Is it the grated metal type? Are there large square holes?
Snail: Large enough for a rat to squeeze through?
((I know you said rusty, old, frail, but it's BC. She's gonna avoid damaging the site if she can.))
Zobot: That is actually quite an accurate description of it. A rat might actually be able to squeeze through.
Zobot: One of the two ways I anticipated you might solve that puzzle. Well, four ways, but the third was only a temporary solution and the fourth was something I didn't expect Blade ot try
Snail: ^^
Snail: Alright. She uses her newest form, one of the quick and agile rats of Sal Maneth, to scramble through the portcullis bars. She can't see the murals at all once she changes- rats, she has discovered, are terribly shortsighted. However, climbing bars is child's play, almost easier than running on flat ground. A rodent instinct presses her tight against the wall on the other side, sensitive ears alert to the sound of predators.
Zobot: Alright. Past the portcullis is a long hallway that stretches out towards the north. Ahead of it she sees tiles made of what appear to be red, blue and green jade, each as long and wide as a man's foot, patterning across the hallway. At the end is a door she can barely see.
Zobot: It's impossible to cross the hallway without stepping on the colored tiles if you cross on foot. What is Blade doing?
Snail: What's on the walls?
Snail: If anything.
Zobot: Ornate carvings, in curling, spirograph patterns. The walls are made of a bluish stone, and the patterns seem to be purely decorative, unlike the murals
Snail: And can I make a Lore check to see if I know why the floor would be set up like that?
Zobot: You could try. It'd be a wits + lore check.
Snail: Would the archaeology specialty count?
Zobot: In this context... yes, yes it would.
Zobot: I really forgot you had that Archaeology specialty
Snail: ^^
Snail: 5,6,2,2,5, 3,10,6,3,7 (3 successes) Well that's just sad.
Zobot: Well, the good news is that it's not that hard a check. Ancient first age tombs usually have security measures installed to prevent robbers from stealing them blind
Zobot: While it's hard to tell specifically what these do, she can tell the tiles are all pressure weighted, so stepping on any of them will trigger something.
Zobot: The question is what.
Snail: Blade would rather not find out. (Or rather, she'd love to find out, preferably by safely and carefully temporarily dismantling whatever mechanism they activate.) She could fly across, but that involves spending even more essence on switching forms, and she's worried she might need that strength later. So first, she wants to see if the ornate carvings can be safely traversed by a furry little climber.
Zobot: That would require an Athletics + Strength check. You can add a die due to your animal form
Snail: Ooh... any chance I could swap Strength for Dexterity?
Zobot: You could swap stamina for strength, but not dexterity, no. Actually, it takes very little dexterity for your tiny clawed fingers to grasp at the carvings of the walls. But it's considerably harder to do it for long periods of time.
Zobot: Hence Strength or Stamina.
Snail: Ahh.
Zobot: Actually, the carvings are like teeny hand/claw holds
Snail: Huh!
Snail: *fingers crossed*
Zobot: Not intentionally, probably. I mean that they're pretty easy for a small rodent such as Blade to take advantage of.
Snail: 3,1,9,9,2, 4 (2 successes)
Zobot: Not enough, I'm afraid, to get all the way across. As Blade Carrier starts scrabbling across, she makes it about halfway (you needed 4 successes for this) and then her grip starts to weaken. Panicking, she scrabbles against the stone walls, which does nothing save irritate her claws and make irritating sounds, as she slips and falls, tiny rodent back towards a red panel!
Zobot: There's no time to react. Not enough time to change.
Zobot: It's over in a moment. As she smacks down on the floor, achieving a small backache but no permanent damage, the red tile sinks in....
Zobot: And on a part of the wall to her left, as well on the door in front of her, a small red square begins to glow
Zobot: To clarify: There is now a glowing red square on both the door in front of you, and the wall to the left of you. You are midway through the hallway
Zobot: Buuut nothing else has happened
Snail: Meep.
Snail: Hmm...
Snail: Is it possible for me to hop to either of those squares, and/or would it be possible to step to them if I were human?
Zobot: I should specify a bit: The glowing squares are on the WALLS. Not the floor.
Snail: Oh.
Zobot: That means that it's rather hard to step on them.
Snail: Was the square a visible design before? Are there visible, unactivated squares on the walls?
Zobot: Rodent vision isn't as clear, remember?
Zobot: It' sort of hard for Blade to see that far away.
Snail: Oh, right.
Snail: Hmm...
Snail: ...Dangit, this might be a puzzle I need good vision for...
Snail: And why do I get the feeling turning into a bird *now* is a terrible idea?
Snail: ...Wall to the left, and in front of the door...
Snail: Am I right up against the left wall, or are there squares to the left of me?
Zobot: The tiles are in a 3x12, 12 stacks of 3 tiles each. There's 1 red, 1 green, and 1 blue tile on each stack, arranged in random orders, with no visable pattern. You're on stack 6, on the farthest left panel, which is red.
Zobot: Ahead of you is a green square. Behind you is a blue one.
Zobot: to the right is a green panel as well
Zobot: You could also try re-climbing the wall. It's still a possibility
Snail: Where is the red panel in the row ahead of me?
Zobot: Far right. You could make it by jumping, but it might be a bit tricky
Snail: And if I were human?
Zobot: It'd be easy to step across
Snail: Hmmmmmmm.
Snail: I'm gonna feel awfully silly if I'm wrong about this. What's the roll to jump as a rat?
Zobot: Dex + Athletics or Str + Athletics
Zobot: The difficulty you have to meet is 2, though. it's not a far jump, especially if you get a running start
Zobot: It's just not something you can step through easily
Snail: Let's go for it. Leaping to the red panel, using Dex.
Zobot: Good luck!
Snail: 10,4,10,6,8, 3 (5 successes) And NOW I get all the successes.
Zobot: As a rat you somehow manage to do a triple flip across, hitting the wall but using that to bounce off of it and land with ease on the red tile.
Snail: Pff
Zobot: As you land, the tile sinks in. Suddenly the two red lights vanish, and small gaps open in the walls above you. Small nozzles appear out of the gaps, and start flooding the room with fire.
Snail: Blade's immediate thought is "Not again!"
Zobot: This is where Blade being a rat works in her favor. At your low vantage point, you're almost entirely out of the blast radius. As such, I'm ruling that the damage is reduced.
Zobot: Only 2 potential damage dice.
Zobot: If you have any defensive charms that protect against fire or anyhting like that, now's the time to use 'em.
Snail: Can I scurry to a blue tile, actually? Or two of them in quick succession?
Zobot: This happens pretty quickly, You'd have to make a Dexterity + Dodge check. 3 successes needed
Snail: Wish me luck...
Zobot: Best of luck
Snail: 1,3,8,1,7, 5 (2 successes) Dangit!
Zobot: Nope! It's too fast even for rodent reflexes.
Zobot: You take... 4,9 (1 success)
Zobot: One point of lethal damage.
Snail: Ouch...
Zobot: Now, since you already said you were scrambling for the blue tile, I'm afraid I have to rule you got to it while the fire was going. As the nozzles pull back into the wall and seal themselves shut, Blade sees a blue square of light appear in the same two places that the red square of light appeared on previously.
Zobot: On the left wall and the north door.
Zobot: Same exact place. Note that the red square vanished once you landed on the second red square
Snail: Hmm.
Snail: Okay, mural's probably not part of the puzzle. But I bet there's a pattern. and you DON'T want to step on two of the same kind in succession...
Snail: Where's the nearest green tile?
Zobot: From where you are? Right in front of you, on the far right side of row 8.
Snail: Water beats fire, wood beats water. This is my reasoning. ...And if I'm wrong, at least I'm a strong swimmer.
Snail: I'm gonna step on the green tile. Do I die?
Snail: Also what do the wall squares do?
Zobot: Ok. As you sink in on the green tile, a green square appears below the blue square.
Zobot: On both the wall and the door.
Snail: Yessssss. Now fire beats wood. Where's the nearest red tile?
Zobot: Far left of row 1. You'd have to jump
Snail: Big jump or pretty doable jump?
Zobot: Same as the one you did earlier to get from Red 1 to Red 2.
Snail: I'll go for it.
Zobot: Fill your hands with dice and toss 'em!
Zobot: Er, metaphorically
Snail: 2,8,5,2,6, 8 (2 successes)
Zobot: You make it, but it's not as neat as before. You almost touch a blue tile nearby you.
Zobot: As you land on the red tile, it sinks in ever so slightly, and you see below the blue square on both the wall and the door, there's a red square that appears.
Zobot: Suddenly the squares all vanish. On the wall, you see a part of the wall erupt into flame, burning through stone somehow.
Zobot: It burns quickly as the wall collapses into a pile of science-defying ash, and leaving a small room with a podium on it.
Zobot: Blade can't see much else because the podium is person-tall and she can't see that far as a rat without light
Zobot: But there's also no longer any glowing squares on the door to the north
Snail: Sorry, small internet flicker.
Zobot: k
Zobot: Should I repost?
Snail: Did you post anything after there no longer being any glowing squares?
Zobot: No.
Snail: Okay.
Snail: I'm assuming I would need to go back across the pressure plate floor to get to the new doorway?
Zobot: A bit, yes. Or climb across the walls as a rat.
Snail: Alright. Going there. Same pattern, just in case.
Zobot: So green-blue-red?
Snail: *nod*
Snail: It reset, so I don't think I have to worry about the red tile I was on before.
Snail: Of course
Snail: ...Well, no.
Snail: Never mind that thought.
Snail: *sudden feelings of foreboding*
Zobot: Ok. As you do, the combination flickers to life on the door again. Then, the three lights sputter and vanish, leaving only the green one. Above BC, a different set of gaps slide open in the walls, as bamboo spears with green jade tips burst out of them at varying angles, filling the whole hallway.
Snail: Ah frig.
Snail: Wait!
Snail: I thought
Zobot: However, as a rodent, Blade is very hard to hit. Roll a dodge + dexterity check and add 2 bonus dice
Snail: Oh, you only meant the ones on the door, didn't you.
Zobot: Yes.
Snail: Frig. Would have seen that coming if I'd read more carefully.
Snail: *feels incredibly stupid*
Snail: 9,7,2,8,3, 7,2,2 (4 successes)
Zobot: None of the Bamboo spears manage to skewer the teeny rodent. They all pull back and the small gaps in the wall slide shut.
Zobot: The lights have all extinguished
Snail: The tiny rodent boxes herself around her tiny ears.
Snail: I'm still glowy, right?
Zobot: yes.
Snail: *sigh* Alright, green to red, red to blue...
Zobot: That's the pattern you're trying?
Snail: ...
Snail: I'm on a green tile, right?
Zobot: yes.
Snail: ...yes?
Zobot: Yes.
Snail: I am the worst New Moon.
Snail: Yes, green to red, red to blue, and if that's wrong I will ask the elders if it's possible to switch your caste. I continue to maintain my strength to weakness theory.
Zobot: Ok. As you land on the last time, the green lights up, then the red, and then the blue. The door in front of you starts to shimmer.
Zobot: And then turns into translucent water, and literally melts away, with water rushing down the hallway, dying off as it reaches to you
Snail: ...Okay.
Snail: I enter the door.
Zobot: wait... so you're not checking out the podium?
Zobot: Just asking, because I thought you were jumping over to get at it
Snail: I thought you meant this was the entrance to the podium.
Zobot: Oooh. No. Sorry. I meant the door to the north.
Zobot: You've opened both the podium and the door to the north now.
Snail: Ah.
Snail: Okay. So am I in front of the podium now?
Zobot: Thus far you've been forming theories and trying them out. It's dangerous, of course, but you've been acting very logically
Zobot: you had no way of knowing how this trap worked. All the mistakes you made were sensible and the conclusions you drew from them were very logical
Zobot: And yes, you are.
Snail: Okay. Can I climb up it?
Zobot: It's a bit tricky, but given there's not really any risk, i'll say yes.
Zobot: The podium isn't as easy to climb, but after a few tries Blade can make it up. There's a small book there on top of it, with the smell of decay hitting Blade's rodent nostrils
Snail: Ordinary mold and microbe decay, or Rotting Flesh This Is Definitely Necromancy decay?
Zobot: The first one.
Zobot: Nothing setting off Blade's concerns
Snail: Open or closed?
Zobot: Its closed currently
Snail: ...
Snail: I'd probably have to make some sort of check to open it, huh?
Zobot: As a rat? Actually not really.
Zobot: it's not that hard to open it. You might damage it a bit if you do, though. You'd have to make a check to open it carefully
Zobot: But it's another easy one
Snail: Alright. Hmm... I guess this doesn't fall under investigation?
Zobot: Nope! Dexterity + Awareness, oddly enough
Zobot: To notice when the book is at risk if you open it and to open it skillfully
Snail: Hmm. I should take an Awareness specialty when I have the ssxp. Handling fragile artifacts with care is important.
Snail: Anyway.
Snail: 9,7,9,4,3, 8 (4 successes)
Zobot: No trouble here! BC can open the book safely and read its contents
Zobot: It's written in Old Realm, however.
Snail: She can read that!
Zobot: Good to know
Snail: ^^
Zobot: Most of the pages of the book are ruined. It's hard to get anything intelligible out of them. But it appears to be a diary of sorts. There's just one page left that's readable, towards the very back.
Zobot: "He says it'll protect me until he returns. I hear fighting up above. I wish I could have helped. I don't understand why he's so protective of me. However, I have to follow his order. If there's any chance that they spare me because they cannot find me... Once I use this charm, I will enter a state of torpor. I won't be able to wake up until I hear his voice again.
Zobot: "This scares me. What if... what if I never wake up. What if he doesn't survive the Dragon's Assault like he plans? It terrifies me more than going up there and fighting would. Will I close my eyes and just open them again years later? Will I dream? What if I'm caught in a neverending nightmare? What if... there's just nothing. Nothing for eternity?"
Zobot: "I don't know what scares me more."
Zobot: "But I have my orders. No matter how this ends, someone must survive to bring the knowledge of the Sun Kings to the Second Age. I will shoulder that burden for those that cannot."
Snail: Blade Carrier lingers on the page. She traces a tiny claw, very gently, across the last two lines.
Snail: Then she climbs down the pedestal. Making very, very certain that she has enough space to change without bumping or brushing against the pedestal, she takes human form again. She'll carry the book with her. It will be protected when she leaves, sent Elsewhere while she swims. It's worth the risk to keep these last words from also being lost.
Zobot: Aww.... that's very noble of her.
Zobot: Alright. So what now?
Zobot: Also, brb. Type away
Snail: She's finally gotten the hang of the trapped floors, and by matching each element to its weakness she traverses it easily. She now stands before the remaining door, and has a suspicion of what she will find beyond it.
Zobot: Back.
Zobot: Alright. Within this room is... quite a sight.
Zobot: The room behind the door is large and ovular. Running along the walls are small rivers of what appears to be water, but it's a bright blue color and seems to be glowing faintly. They both lead to the center of the room, where a tiny moat of water circles a platform and flows underneath a set of small steps that leads up to the circular platform where there rests a large mountain lion covered in silver tattoos... the smell of death and decay is rich here intermingling with the smell of water. This is probably because the Mountain Lion is clearly dead. There's a large water jade spear embedded in her chest. Holding the spear is the corpse of what appears to be a corpse clad in blue jade armor (A buff jacket) who has a small rapier embedded in his chest, which is held by a third decaying corpse, that of a young man collapsed upon the steps.
(10:58:46 PM) Zobot: And above them all floats a translucent figure of a somewhat pretty young lady, with spectral blue flowing hair, and a wound going through her chest. She's clad in a modest dress which appears to have been at one point elegantly stitched. She looks up at Blade and smiles warmly.
Zobot: Speaking in fluent Old Realm, she bows. "Hello, Carrier of my Exaltation."
Zobot: (Suggested music:
Snail: Blade bows back and answers, her accent somewhat off and her speech formal- book learned Old Realm, rarely spoken aloud. "Hello, my honored predecessor. I fear you have been waiting long."
Zobot: "Yes... I waited for far longer than either of us ever hoped. I know my Solar mate tried several times to find me, in several rebirths. I feel horrible about that."
Zobot: "Many people were driven to seek out a woman they knew nothing of. And most died in the process. As his Confidant in this plan, I must accept some responsibility for the slaughter, even if I did nothing but serve as bait."
Zobot: "The last one, a boy known as Angelo, actually found me. But he unknowingly led the Hunt to us, and ended the struggle. He died defending me with his last breath."
Snail: "...I am sorry." Her stomach twists and her chest feels too tight, as if each rib were bound to her spine with taut wires. She is not sure whether it is because she grieves for the spirit, or the boy whose remains lie at her feet, or because she can imagine foolhardy Yoriki with all the selfless bravery he claims not to have doing just the same.
Zobot: She sheds a spectral tear and gives a weak smile. "But I guess there was a silver lining after all. Even if his voice never woke me. Even if it was my fate never to meet my Mate again... at least it let me meet you. For that, I can pass on in peace. After I make sure all this death was worth something."
Snail: "How do you hope to do so?" Blade Carrier asks, fluent but not quite fluid.
Zobot: "My mates original plan was to hide me away while he fought the Dragon Blooded traitors. If he survived, he would have returned, awoken me, and we would have brought peace to the world together. But in truth he never believed he would win after so many had passed. His descendants would feel compelled to find me, and upon finding me, they would waken me. I was to teach them the secrets of the ancient times, and then help them bring all that knowledge back to the new age. Unfortunately, that is no longer possible. Even were he to find me now, I cannot play that part. This ghostly essence is growing weak. I cannot persist in this world for much longer. And I will not take the blood of the living to extend my own non-existence."
Zobot: She floats down to you and locks ghostly empty eyes with yours. "But your presence here gives us other options."
Snail: Blade swallows, but meets her gaze without fear. "Permit me to explain my own purpose."
Zobot: She nods. "By all means. This is your life, and I am proud of you for choosing to live it by your terms and not mine. That is our kinds Way."
Snail: "My mentor, and Elder of a territory not far from here, has disappeared. None know what has happened to him. A voice in a dream told me that without my aid, he will die. To save him, and not perish myself, I must become more than I am. It said I could find the strength I needed here, in the tomb of the one who bore my light before me.
But... I am also aligned to your goals. I am a scholar of ages past, one who seeks lost secrets. I, too, wish to bring the knowledge of the First Age to those who so greatly need it in our own."
Snail: "And my own mate aids me." She smiles. "Together, we recovered Sal Maneth, the Spear of the Empire."
Zobot: Her eyes widen. "Sal Maneth? It flies again?!?"
Snail: Blade Carrier laughs. "Just barely."
Zobot: She smiles. "That is nothing short of amazing, given what I have seen of what has become of our world. Where others have found failure, you have only been met with shining success."
Zobot: "But... on a more personal level, I must also express my gratitute."
Zobot: "You found him before he tried to find me. You ended the slaughter. That more of my mates will not die because of me makes me feel... joy."
Snail: Blade feels a sympathetic relief. "So then, what are these other options?"
Zobot: She thinks. "There are a few possibilities."
Zobot: "None are easy. The first. If you so choose it, I can accompany you for what time I have left. I cannot stay the Lethe for long, but while I am, I will assist you as best I can. My insight is yours, and I will teach you what I can for as long as I remain."
Zobot: "The second... if you so choose it... you can subjugate my will. I will not allow it without a struggle, but if you triumph and prove yourself a worthy heiress, all that I have left is yours. I will give you what power I have left."
Zobot: "The third... If you choose it... your power resonates with mine. As we have shared an Exaltation, we could share a consciousness. If we became one, you would be changed by the experience, but we would share the power of each other."
Zobot: "The fourth... I could grant you my remaining essence. It would not be much... but at the very least it would grant you power."
Zobot: "The choice is yours. I will accede to whatever choice you make."
Snail: The room is quiet save the sound of running water, as Blade Carrier carefully considers the choice.
"What... precisely... would happen, should I choose the third?"
Zobot: "You and I would become one. Both of us would become a composite of our shared identities. I don't know entirely what would happen but both of our powers would grow."
Snail: "Do you know if we would cease to be ourselves?"
Zobot: She thinks. "It's... hard to say. Such a thing has never, to my knowledge, happened before. We would still be something LIKE ourselves."
Snail: "And if I chose the first? How long might we have?"
Zobot: "Maybe weeks. Maybe months. It's hard to say."
Snail: "I will not choose the second. The fourth... seems a waste. Power I can gain for myself. Knowledge lost is lost forever."
Zobot: She nods. "I understand."
Snail: She considers her next words carefully. "...I am descended from dragons. Most of those I once called kin would abandon or slay me, if they knew I lived, and knew what I now am."
Snail: "Yet still, they are my kin. They may forget, but I do not. And there is one... My sister. I... I must believe that she would remain loyal to me, if she knew. I... cannot help but be loyal to her."
Snail: "There is another dragon, mated to my missing Elder, utterly devoted to him. When I was lost, confused, new to Luna's gift, he too was a teacher. He too is my family."
Zobot: She listens intently
Snail: "So I must know where you stand. You were murdered, your mates were murdered; I would not ask you to forgive your murderers. But do you count all of Gaia's chosen among the guilty? And what of the descendants of murderers? My own ancestors' hands were stained with the blood of Sun Kings, Luna's Chosen, and their followers."
Zobot: She thinks... "I... It is true. I have anger against them. But... I would like to believe that such anger should not be focused on the individual. Not all soldiers on the opposing side are horrible, even if the side seeks to slay you."
Snail: Blade breathes a harsh sigh, a frustrated blast of air. "I apologize. I must think."
Snail: ((OOC for a minute I'm genuinely struggling to figure out what she would do. Sorry.))
Zobot: no, it' cool. This is a tough choice
Snail: Blade thinks her best choice may be the third. She's not afraid of changing on a personal level. She's curious. There's so much she wants to know. More importantly, she needs something extraordinary to save Echo. She is willing to make almost any sacrifice for that. But... what happens to the Blade Carrier that Keystone looks up to, that Jan half raised even if she was an adult, that Shena could recognize if they ever met again, that Yoriki called the closest thing he'd ever had to kin? Death is a hard loss, but to have someone come back half a stranger... that's harder.
Zobot: So is it the third choice?
Snail: Blade considers the options left to her for a long time, sitting in the doorway of the tomb as above ground day turns to night and back again. It is not an easy decision. Some whisper of immaculate teachings still warns her against striking deals with demons. But the ghost's intentions seem good, and there is so much they couldn't possibly cover even in a few months.
At any rate, Echo of the Jackal's Laughter doesn't have a few months.
She has to find her mentor. She has to protect her friends... her family.
"...Spirit? ...I do not even know your name. What is it?"
Zobot: At this, she looks confused. "I... it's been so long... I..." She closes her eyes and thinks. "Something... ugh..."
Zobot: "... Selphya. That is my name."
Snail: Blade bows. "My name is Blade Carrier. I was born Ledaal Catala Kaori." She is terrified; though she has felt greater fear, it was never quite this species of quiet trembling. "If we merge together, we both take a great risk. Are you certain you are willing to go through with it?"
Zobot: "At this point, what I want and what I do not wish means very little. In less than a year the Lethe would claim me and I would be reborn as a new entity. All the knowledge and history I carry with me would be lost to future generations. If I allow this, even if I am scared... I... I can help whatever other Exalts are left, can I not?"
Zobot: "Sacrifice is never ideal. Every choice you make that is not in your own interest can hurt you."
Zobot: "But in the end, if my consciousness must cease, I would prefer it be done for some constructive purpose."
Snail: ((Ghost lady is significantly braver than me as a player.))
Zobot: Selphya: I made a choice long ago to put aside what I wanted for the sake of others. If I turn away from it now, then all the time and waiting I've done loses all meaning.
Blade Carrier bows her head again. When she raises it, her eyes shine with tears not quite shed. Her mouth is a thin line, but it turns up just a little at the ends. "Then this is my choice. Whatever happens, to either of us... let us promise to remember each other's names."
Zobot: (She had to be someone Blade could respect. At the same time, as a ghost I am required by DM contract to make her a little bit spooky. The things she's suggested to Blade are all unnerving. They're designed to mess with the player's head a bit)
Zobot: She looks to be crying. "Thank you, Kaori... Blade... you have such beautiful names."
Zobot: With this, she approaches Blade, spending three motes of essence to take a material form. And then, she hugs Blade.
Zobot: Please make your roll now. You can spend a dot of willpower to channel your highest virtue as well if you want.
Snail: Spending willpower to channel compassion.
Zobot: k
Snail: 8,1,4,6,3, 9,6,3   (2 successes)
Snail: ...At least it wasn't a botch...
Zobot: (One source of inspiration for Selphya: Aridia Megido. Another source of inspiration for her: Talos Myer ( the dark skinned man in the red and silver armor in this comic)
Zobot: Ok. We'll get to the mechanical aspects of this in a moment.
Zobot: As Selphya hugs Blade Carrier, there's a bright silver light. Blade for a moment feels like her mind is flooded with thoughts. Memories. Ideas. Concepts. Learning.
Zobot: It's more than her mind can consciously process. There's too much. She falls to her knees, clutching her head.
Zobot: Her body tingles. She blacks out.
Zobot: Eventually, she wakes up, although it takes a few minutes for her to work out exactly what everything is. In a weird way, everything looks different now.
Zobot: When she looks at the mural in the other room, she doesn't just see the mural. Looking at it fills her mind with the history of what it represents, the name of the person who painted it, and even a few physical traits of the painter that stuck in her mind
Zobot: Looking at the trap in the hallway, which suddenly seems rudimentary and obvious to her, she can just innately tell the mechanisms that drive it. How it refuels the fire chambers, the way the bamboo is prevented from decaying, the source of the water that would flood the chamber... she could take it apart, field-strip it and maintain it, and put it back together with no problems.

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