Crossing the Yanaze.   Posted by Segev Stormlord.Group: 0
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 683 posts
Sun 29 Jun 2014
at 22:19
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Mmh," rumbles the Lunar in the tones of one irritated at the need to think too hard outside one's normal paradigm. "You didn't know for where they were destined? I can't fault you for keeping them from feeding the fae..."

The man does his best to nod with his neck held firmly against a rough-hewn wooden wall and his toes barely scraping the floor. The prayer to whatever deities he follows is clear in his eyes: please believe me please believe me please don't kill me

His captor relaxes a bit, letting him lower down to his heels. "Very well. I will take them where they SHOULD have gone."

Eyes widening, the foreman blurts out, "No! uh--" he chokes as the monster slams him a foot up the wall again. Hastily, as soon as he gasps half a breath, he continues, "No, they're paid for, and if you do, my mistress is, um, ruined, so um, you need to take it up with her, now. I'm sorry. Um. So if you took them, it'd be stealing, and I can't --er, you shouldn't steal from my mistress or you're saying it's okay to steal from Ma-Ha-Suchi, right?" he says, his voice getting fainter as he runs out of breath.

He's turning blue, too terrified to re-inhale, by the time the Lunar lets him down and backs off. Lambent argent caste mark glaring from between narrowed eyes, the Lunar grunts. "Very well. But if she will not make recompense, I will let her take it up with the rightful master of these spoils."

In a flurry of silver light, the iconic stryx shudders into blinding being once more. A silent thunder rustles as a nocturnal bird of prey wreathed in moonsilver tattoos leaves the premises, heading north once more.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 686 posts
Sun 6 Jul 2014
at 18:29
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Everything is still in the building for a time. The men slowly gather to look out in the direction the monster retreated, unsure whether they really were safe or not. The foreman, himself, is rigidly frozen against the wall, almost as if he were too afraid to even collapse.
Austringer
 player, 25 posts
Wed 9 Jul 2014
at 00:21
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer gazes off after the disappearing Full Moon for a moment.  This isn't over yet, abomination, he thinks.  But he has more immediate concerns.

He'll need to speak to the foreman, but he looks too stunned to form coherent responses and too scared to run away for the moment.  A more pressing concern is the man wounded by Austringer's attack.  He promised to check on him, and as an ordinary worker, he might be less inclined to present a slanted view of things than the obviously dishonest and self-serving foreman.

Austringer hastens back through the shallow water to the dry spot where he left the wounded man (while carefully keeping an eye out to ensure that the foreman isn't sneaking away or otherwise becoming unavailable).

Speaking as unthreateningly as he can, given his inhuman appearance in warform, Austringer asks the wounded man, "Are you all  right?  What is going on here-- before two Exalted started fighting here, I mean?"  He shakes his head to address the man more clearly.  "What is this place?  And who's this 'mistress' that foreman was talking about?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 687 posts
Wed 9 Jul 2014
at 12:36
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The man had fallen unconscious while Austringer observed the drama between the other Lunar and the foreman, but Austringer's questions bring him around. It takes him a moment to process what's being asked. "Uh-- gh. Jade mine. This is a Jade mine." His hand clenches weakly under the water in which he's half-lying, pulling at the dark sand of the bar that makes this submerged island.

Though no longer bleeding out, the man's face is contorted with pain by each breath. His eyes stare unfocused past Austringer's monstrous form, perhaps mercifully too delirious to register what he's seeing as unusual.
Austringer
 player, 27 posts
Sat 12 Jul 2014
at 17:22
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
It hadn't occurred to Austringer before, but the Yanaze's concentrated elemental Essence would be just the thing to create black jade deposits.

Grateful that the man apparently can't see that a glowing mospid-man is looming over him, he asks, "So, you're slaves?  Who are you working for, then?  Whose mine is this?"

Meanwhile, he glances around surreptitiously for a safer place to move this man ... assuming he can survive being moved at all.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 688 posts
Sun 13 Jul 2014
at 00:53
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
There are already some tentative and cautious efforts by a few of the people here to tend to wounded or check on probable corpses, but a glowing mospid-man is definitely getting an extremely wide berth. As Austringer glances about, the mere hint of his gaze is enough to send most who braved coming out to check scurrying back for cover.

In response to the Lunar's question, the wounded man coughs, "Le- schaye. Bought. Pays. better 'n 'arm--" Inability to fully inflate his lungs leaves him gasping in short, painful wheezes, unable to muster the breath to continue speaking for a long stretch of seconds.
Austringer
 player, 28 posts
Sun 13 Jul 2014
at 15:31
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer soon realizes that if he keeps questioning this man, it'll kill him.  He'll have to get his information from that weaselly overseer.

And, hopefully, find someone with real medical knowledge to treat him.  Austringer can bandage wounds, but reinflating collapsed lungs is beyond him.

The realization makes him clench his talons.  Ma-Ha-Suchi, he thinks, you just keep giving me reasons to hate you.

"Rest," he tells the severely injured man.  "I see you're in no shape to talk.  I'll send someone to help you if I can."  He lays his scaly hand gently on the man's shoulder.  "May the Lady and the Dragons guard you.  Be strong."

He stalks over to the cowering foreman, trying to look as implacable as possible.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 689 posts
Sun 13 Jul 2014
at 20:28
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
If the egress of the first Lunar froze him with terror, the foreman seems almost to have the spell broken by the sight of a second approaching monster. He slumps almost to the ground, sliding down the wall, in defeat. He smells less of fear and more of resignation for a moment, before his knees lock at a square angle, and he forces himself to stand rather than collapse completely. Fear mingled with determination washes across his odor. Shaking he faces the oncoming Austringer. "Here to finish the job? What will it cost us to be rid of you?" he asks with false bravado.
Austringer
 player, 29 posts
Mon 14 Jul 2014
at 03:25
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"My price depends on what you tell me in the next few minutes," Austringer says.  he ostentatiously flexes his essence-sheathed talons.  "Lie to me, as you did to that minion of the Goat-Wolf, and I'll set it ... higher than you wish to pay."

He leans close, staring into the man's face with his scarlet eyes.  The cold, clear light of his anima plays on the man's bloodless face.  "This woman who owns this place, this 'LeSchaye' ... she has no idea you've brought in these slaves, does she?"  He scrapes one set of claws lightly down the wood next to the overseer's ear, leaving only shallow furrows but making a harsh scraping sound.  "What is your game here?  Who are you really working for?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 690 posts
Mon 14 Jul 2014
at 03:51
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The smell of trousers dampened by fear rather than the river water outside this building-on-stilts punctuates Austringer's threats. "Her! Th-the Lady LeSchaye! Really! She doesn't know about buying slaves, but sh-she'd--" he cuts off, eyeing the claws for a moment before going on, "They're gonna be sold somewhere. I wasn't lying to your friend, not about keeping them from the Fair Folk. Nobody deserves that. And we need workers here. Hiring's hard, even with the wages Lady LeSchaye offers. But buy the slaves from the Guild and offer them ninty percent of those wages, and most take the job, and the books balance in a year or so.

"I didn't know your goat-wolf boss was after them! I wouldn't--" he cuts off, his rather poor ability at lying betraying that he probably would have risked it. "The Lady won't tolerate you ruining her business down here. Not even if you work for Ma-Ha-Suchi. Please don't make her go to war. War is TERRIBLE for business."

Utterly terrified, he seems to be retreating to bravado. There's nothing he can do against Austringer, and it's pretty clear he knows it. "If-- if I've said enough, please don't hurt the others. I'm in ch-charge. T-take revenge on m-me only. I'd claim I had a wife and kids if I thought you'd believe me, but really many of them do, please don't kill them. Please don't kill ME if money'll work. She'll be mad but there's a lot here I can pay you if you just leave and spare us please, I'll give you anything we have if you let us live..." The foreman is a wreck, babbling with surprising coherence despite bawling out his pleas for mercy.
Austringer
 player, 30 posts
Thu 17 Jul 2014
at 22:13
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"I don't work for Ma-Ha-Suchi," Austringer says flatly.  "And that ... thing ... is not my friend."

Austringer feels a momentary twinge of guilt over abjectly humiliating this man.  And yet, if he's buying these people from the Guild and diverting away wages ... Austringer comes from the Realm, whose economics could politely be called "primitive."  But the suffering inflicted on these people-- not to mention the risk that that owl-thing will simply lead a horde of beast-men back here and eat them-- has to be stopped somehow.  But this Lady LeSchaye sounds fairly reliable.  Maybe a potential ally against Ma-Ha-Suchi.

He draws back his clawed hand.  "I can't fault you for buying people out of harm's way.  Better anything than having their souls eaten by some gauze-wearing, headache-inducing raksha.  You should be proud of that.

"Still ... I am not a creature of, um, business, but it seems to me that if you buy slaves from someone, you're only encouraging him to steal more people.  It sounds like your Lady has a set way she wants you to deal with the people working here.  You need to abide by that.  You can't keep cheating them.  You know that.  And you know I know it, too."


Austringer glances back at the battle site and the wounded man.  "For now, that means protecting these people as well as the mine's operations.  If you're serious about seeing to these people's survival, you're going to have to be ready.  You've got to post sentries and keep an eye out-- if that creature I fought doesn't get satisfaction from your Lady herself, you'll likely wake up one day with a horde of beast-men poling out here in skiffs and eating your workers."

"For now, though, you need to get him"-- he points to the wounded man-- "to some decent medical care.  You've gotta have a healer around here somewhere.

"Do those things, and I'll consider myself paid off."
  Austringer draws himself up and back.  "War may be terrible for business, but something tells me war has come to visit you.  And it looks as if I'm on your side.  Where can I find your Lady LeSchaye?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 693 posts
Fri 18 Jul 2014
at 02:55
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Something in Austringer's demeanor seems to cause the foreman to relax a bit. Still stiff, but not petrified, he answers, "Last message she sent, the Lady LeSchaye was postponing a trip here to head off a war and deal with a slave trade problem. So maybe she's putting a stop to this already.

"The men we've hired from those details either came from Falan when Beastmen traded them, or said the Guild Factors who were keeping them stopped to trade with some Beastmen up north. So if she's not gone to Nexus or the like, you'll probably find her in Falan. It's a huge kingdom, though; stretches from here to where the Yellow River feeds into the Yanaze, all along the shore," he finishes, pointing towards the nearer shore. The one Austringer was flying towards when he first noticed this sand bar.
Austringer
 player, 31 posts
Thu 24 Jul 2014
at 15:08
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer glances at the north shore in bewilderment.  That's an awful lot of area to search.  And so far, this is his best lead on fighting Ma-Ha-Suchi, and maybe locating Master Harrez.

"Is there some kind of central place travelers to Falan tend to pass through?  Someplace more specific I could look?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 696 posts
Fri 25 Jul 2014
at 01:19
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"We do all our business with Oredol, mostly. She likely stopped there. There's no way anybody'd forget her, so if you ask around..." he trails off, muttering "...and don't eat anybody..." beneath his breath.
Austringer
 player, 32 posts
Sun 27 Jul 2014
at 02:35
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Oredol," Austringer repeats, committing the name to memory.  "Which direction exactly, and how will I know it when I get there?"

He glances north again, wondering if perhaps that's where Harrez ended up, too.  With a twinge of guilt, he realizes he'd almost forgotten Harrez in the confusion of the Full Moon's attack.

He regards the man with one red eye.  "One more thing.  I don't suppose you saw a stocky man carrying a javelin-- or a peccary, for that matter"-- might as well be hanged for yeddim as for a calf, he thinks-- "come through here?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 697 posts
Sun 27 Jul 2014
at 04:15
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"I- I haven't seen anybody like that, no... and Oredol's got a castle, I think. Look for farms, and ask for directions if people aren't too scared to talk to you." He claps his hands over his mouth as if realizing he's let it run ahead of his wisdom once again, fear over the possibility that Austringer might take insult clear in his eyes.
Austringer
 player, 33 posts
Tue 29 Jul 2014
at 16:01
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
This sounds like about the best directions Austringer's going to get.  Best to get in the air and head for this Oredol.  If that chimera is going to bring Ma-Ha-Suchi's beastmen down on this place, better to fight them there, anyway.

"Thank you for your help," says Austringer.  "I'll do my best to find your mistress.  And know that if the Goat Wolf tries to bring his legions against your people, he'll have to go through me first.  Remember, you need to get that injured man to a healer as soon as you can."  He turns and prepares to take wing.

"Oh," he adds, turning back, "and you should really change your pants."

Essence bursts into the air around him, rising in a brilliant, silvery outline of a mospid with spread wings as Austringer assumes his own mospid shape and takes off, headed north once again.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 698 posts
Sat 2 Aug 2014
at 03:40
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
It turns out to be relatively easy, if a bit circuitous, to find Castle Oredol. Farmers in the duchy are not at all shy about talking to strangers, as long as they present a relatively ordinary face. Directions are easy to come by, and what passes for roads in this backwater kingdom all seem to flow from the castle outwards to the small villages which house the serfs.

The castle itself is nothing too impressive, though it is a serviceable structure. A small town dwells at its outskirts. The question is, how to get the information he seeks now? There is one decently large inn in the town, and the castle seems to have no defense against aerial insertion, though there are guards patrolling the ramparts. Perhaps the most notable thing is the youth who leaps from tower to turret to tower in a swirl of air, his hair lit up a sky blue by essence as the guardsmen cheer. There's at least one Chosen of the Air Dragon here.
Austringer
 player, 35 posts
Sat 9 Aug 2014
at 02:35
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
During the flight to Oredol, Austringer plays over the fight with Ma-Ha-Suchi's acolyte again and again in his mind, trying to think how he could have worked around the other Lunar's defenses, evaded its (... her? ...) claws, or at least avoided nearly killing an innocent bystander.  That will haunt him for a long time.

At the same time, he forces his personal essence through his wound again and again, trying to use his Lunar control over his form to smooth away injuries.  It feels natural, but it's hardly as instinctive as changing from man to mospid to warform.

His essence flare has receded by the time he reaches Castle Oredol, and he is now, once more, simply a colorful mospid adorned with silvery patterns.  He circles the castle a couple of times, gazing down at the Dragon-Blood cavorting among the battlements.  Before presenting himself as a human at inn or castle, perhaps he can learn something by listening in as a (relatively) ordinary serpent-bird.  He alights in a relatively unobtrusive spot, out of reach of ordinary mortals, near the cheering soldiers, where the Lost Egg has most recently landed.  He cocks his head and listens carefully while watching the proceedings with a wide, scarlet eye.

(OOC: Austringer spends 5 xp apiece to raise his Martial Arts and Dodge to 4 each [immediate training] and 10 to begin learning Bruise-Relief Method [2 days training].  Let me know if there's anything requiring PER+Awareness or Investigation going on here.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 699 posts
Mon 11 Aug 2014
at 13:35
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
((ooc: Your exp expenditures are fine by me, and yes, as long as you can explain when you were training them, I'm not going to be overly strict on "one at a time" or any such thing.))

Listening for a bit, Austringer picks up that the Lost Egg's name is "Seln." The guards oft refer to him as "young prince," which would be an appropriate honorific for a mortal guard to any Terrestrial youth with whom he had a familiar and friendly relationship.

"Checking up on us, young prince?" queries one guard with a laugh at the small tower to which the boy just leapt. Most of the guards have their capes pulled all the way back; the night air is cooler than that of the day, but it is still too warm to wrap them 'round oneself. The Lost Egg seems to be using his to help get some lift out of his Anima flux.

"Only if you've got something to report, Jame," is the good-natured reply. "Did you hear? Father heard back from the King. We're to go to the capitol next month!"

From the chuckles and knowing looks exchanged by some of the older guardsmen, they had heard, but before Jame says anything, another interjects, "Congratulations, lad. You've earned it."

Rubbing the back of his head, the Terrestrial grins sheepishly. "Well, not yet, but that's why I'm practicing. Wish I had a wing-board like Merlin's, but I can jump a lot better now, at least! Father says I'm to step up my archery training, since it'll be more useful than swordplay with my mobility. Somehow, I don't think he means to lessen my other training, though, so it's gonna be busy."

"Aye, lad," agrees Jame, patting the youth on the back. "'Tis a great curse, the responsibilities that come with the Dragons' blessing. Any word on Lookshy, yet?"

The boy shakes his head. "I think Father would prefer Lady LeSchaye or one of the other Exalted she has at Trademeet, because we already trade so much with them. But if the King wants to use me to firm up ties with Lookshy, we'll do what he asks, of course. I don't know that I want to go so far away for military training."

One of the older, craggy-faced guards grunts, "It'd be good for you, Seln. The Seventh Legion are some of the finest warriors in the world, and Lookshy is the most connected city in the East." At a coughed "nexus!" by one of the other guards, he adds, "Well, of the sorts of connections respectable nobles want."

Jame elbows Seln with a knowing grin on his face. "I wouldn't worry too much. The King's got a daugther, right? He'll probably want the first Dragonblood in a long time to marry into the royal family. I hear she's cute, too," he suggests, causing the younger boy to blush a bit.

"I think Father suspects something simlar," he replies, eyes shifting about for some change of topic. Austringer almost feels the boy's gaze when the light on him. "Oh! A mospid!" he exclaims, jumping up to grab a buttress from beneath and brace himself against the stone wall about six feet below the creature.

"Hey!" calls out Jame, "That's good luck! It's an omen!"

The craggy-faced guard warns, "Be careful; they can be dangerous, Seln. Don't startle it."

"I won't," he says, nodding absently, keeping his gaze on the creature. The Lost Egg tilts his head, watching the mospid. "Don't see many of you this close to the river," he comments, talking to the animal the way one does when one is really talking to oneself. "Are you lost, or just looking for better hunting, away from your brethren and their competition?" he muses.
Austringer
 player, 36 posts
Sun 17 Aug 2014
at 22:53
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer has been wondering how to locate LeSchaye, not to mention assess the situation in here in Oredol, especially with regard to Ma-Ha-Suchi's forces.  Either would involve asking a lot of strange-sounding questions to a lot of strangers, and if there is one thing Master Harrez taught, it's that a Lunar should not draw unnecessary attention to himself.

But now a simple solution presents itself.  If this Dragon-Blood is likely to be sent out to meet Lady LeSchaye, why not let him carry Austringer there directly?  And if not, it should be obvious within a day or two.  Both things will be simpler if he just remains a mospid ... and lets the Dragon-Blood simply carry him around himself.  And if there are any problems ... well, Austringer is an austringer as well as an Exalt; he can slip out of any mews in Creation.

He hops onto this Sein's wrist expertly and perches as a proper hunting mospid should.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 702 posts
Mon 18 Aug 2014
at 12:51
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The young Dragonblooded's eyes widen in surprise, but he quickly adjusts his forearm to be a suitable perch. "Woah, friendly little guy, aren't you?"

"Looks like he's a trained one," says Jame, walking closer. "Must've escaped some master of the hunt."

"We don't have an austringer, so it can't be ours. Hold still, little guy; I just want to see if I can find out to whom you belong," sing-songs Seln, gently turning his arm and lifting each of the mospid's legs. It's clear to anyone who knows the business of managing hunting birds that he's looking for an identifying tag, tattoo, or brand. "Do you think Father'd let me keep him?"

The older guard grunts, "That's not for the likes of us to say. Trained mospids are not cheap. If it wandered here, it must be lost. I don't know how the Duke would find out to whom it belongs to return it, but that's his choice, lad."

"I think I'll go ask him right now!" exclaims the youth, hopping off the battlement as his anima flux rages into a tornadic force that rips through his cape to slow his fall to a safe descent. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?" he asks over the wind, stroking under the mospid's beak. "We can go hunting together when I'm on the road."
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 707 posts
Thu 4 Sep 2014
at 23:04
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Before the young prince can take his new pet to his father, however, the front gate guards announce a most unusual guest. Seln hastens to the audience hall to be with Duke Amaran as the bald, simply-robed figure is introduced. Local peasants have gathered as well; this unusual and exotic sight is not to be missed.

"Brother Bars-the-Way of the Immaculate Order!" announces the chamberlain, his aplomb most maintained of anybody in the room. Visitors from the Order were unheard-of. The Duke stood tensely, while Seln held his new mospid beneath his cloak, idly scratching behind the horns as much to calm himself as anything else.

"Your Grace," begins the monk, "I come bearing grave tidings. I have tracked one of the Anathema to this land. We must act quickly and convene a Wyld Hunt, lest it stir more trouble than it already has. It is possible that many of the rumored problems of late are its doing.

"I come to you because I have heard your house is blessed with a Lost Egg. The Chosen of the Dragons are sent to protect us from these monsters; have you such a one? Will you aid me in forming this hunt to protect your lands?"

Is it Austringer's imagination, or did this Brother Bars-the-Way look at the boy as he mentioned the Lost Egg? Or was he peering at something else, other than the Chosen of Air? Regardless, he can feel the prince stiffen in surprise, or perhaps concern.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 708 posts
Fri 12 Sep 2014
at 04:08
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The Duke frowns. "My son is young, yet, and new to his Exaltation. Surely you do not need his help for your holy duty, Brother Bars-the-Way," he objects in measured tones.

The monk lowers his voice in ominous sorrow. "The Anathema may well be seeking him out. A Lost Egg would be a prize for the creature's bragging rights in the halls of demonkind, even one not yet fully trained in his Dragons-given blessings. We must seek it, rather than allowing it to come upon him in a time of its choosing."

The discussion continues, but the tone of the court gradually shifts in concern, for Prince Seln and for the safety of Oredol and supportive courage to be lent to the young Dragonblooded Exalt.

So it is that the Prince and a company of guards find themselves accompanying the wandering monk northward, following a trail that is most clear once Bars-the-Way points it out, of feather and claw-mark, of prey hunted and trees disturbed. As the guards begin to set up camp, the Immaculate Monk speaks to the boy of the honor he has received, and gradually pulls the story out of him.

Seln, for all his effort to be polite and cheerful, nevertheless confides in his mospid in the privacy of his tent, "What have we gotten ourselves into? I don't like this monk. He isn't even a Dragonblooded, but he talks like he expects my father to obey. Do you think there really even is an anathema? This just looks like a feather to me," he says, holding one that was a "sure sign" of the Anathema's passage. To Austringer's eyes, the large stryx-feather has clear - and somewhat familiar - moonsilver markings.
Austringer
 player, 39 posts
Wed 24 Sep 2014
at 18:07
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Fortunately, the faces of mospids don't show worry.  This Brother Bars-the-Way is displaying the cocky overconfidence that Austringer has come to associate with Wyld Hunts, and he seems determined to let Seln and the Duke's men take care of all the life-threatening details.  If young Seln faces the powerful stryx-Lunar Austringer fought at the Yanaze, there will be a lot of blood and one less Dragon-Blood in Oredol's line of succession.  Well, if Seln faces the stryx alone, that is.  And thus, while keeping a weather eye on the Oredol forces and the ambitious Immaculate, Austringer has been surreptitiously training himself for the inevitable rematch.

When Seln has been asleep or otherwise not watching, he has continued trying to use his shapechanging powers to smooth away fatigue and injury.  In the past week, he's reached a point where he can comfortably ease a bruise or a muscle pull, and he's mastered sealing ordinary cuts.  Next time an owl-thing slices him open, perhaps it won't be such a lasting threat.  (OOC: Effectively, Austringer has learned the charms Bruise Relief Method (2 days training) and Halting the Scarlet Flow (4 days).)

Seeing how the elder Lunar laughed off his attacks has gotten him thinking about protecting himself, but where the other Full Moon relied on toughness to withstand attacks, Austringer chooses to rely on his avian speed and grace to avoid getting struck at all.  While out hunting with Seln, he has practiced wingovers, stalls, and veering and backing, much to Seln's confusion.  He's also shown an unusual tendency to attack prey that's likely to fight back, simply to give him a chance to practice darting out of the way of attacks.  He has become even more mobile than before, particularly on the wing.  (OOC: Austringer practices the defensive DEX Charms Wind-Dancing Method (3 days) and Wary Swallow Method (4 days), building toward the flashy Flowing Body Evasion.  He hasn't had time to study beyond the fundamentals and reach that Charm yet, though, which is just as well ... Seln would probably notice if his mospid's flesh started flowing around attacks.)

At the same time, remembering how easily the stryx shrugged off his single, powerful attack, he works on using his considerable speed (and all his limbs) to strike.  Striking with both his talons comes instinctively in mospid shape; the challenge is assimilating that knowledge into his human consciousness, to apply it to fighting two-handed, or in warform.  And while he can now strike prey in the face with his wings or tail (surprising more than a couple of rabbits), he hasn't quite mastered doing both those things while also snatching with both talons.  This'll only be harder with his extra set of limbs in warform, he suspects.  (OOC: Austringer practices the attack DEX Charms Wasp Sting Blur (3 days) and then Twin Fang Technique (4 days) and Octopus and Spider Barrage (5 days).  He's likely still working on the latter (the "lash out with every limb" Charm), given that he's had only about a "week" of downtime.)

He is determined to punch through the elder Lunar's defenses should he meet it again.  That means building up his strength, something that's never come as easily to him as speed seems to.  He's tried everything, from carrying heavy game through the air (much to Seln's surprise and confusion) to surreptitiously doing mospid chin-ups on his perch while Seln is asleep, but the going is slow.  (OOC: Austringer begins training to raise his Strength to 4 (6 weeks).)

All this covert observation has gotten Austringer thinking about new ways to use his shapechanging powers.  Master Harrez was a Full Moon, like Austringer, and his methods tended to be direct.  But his brief experiences with the young Dragon-Blood, not to mention the fact that he's discovered more here by quiet observation than he did by showy combat at the Yanaze, have got him thinking outside his usual comfort zone.

And thus he begins training himself to take smaller forms.

Learning to change into a new kind of shape isn't easy.  A Lunar can't assimilate a new kind of form into his Heart's Blood until he's prepared himself, spiritually and physically, for a new kind of ritual hunt.  One doesn't hunt down a mouse in the same way one hunts down a tyrant lizard, after all.  The first, easy part of the learning process is physical.  Day by day, in the times when no one is watching, Austringer concentrates on feeling every feather and scale of his form, concentrating on the idea of smallness.  Then, carefully, he forces himself to shed mass, growing infinitesimally smaller for a second or two.  It's a grueling process, but with each attempt, he changes more in size.  (OOC: Austringer begins learning the shapeshifting Knack Humble Mouse Shape (1 month), another long-term project.)

Second is the hard part, the spiritual preparation.  Whenever possible (a rare occurrence so long as he's posing as a mundane mospid), Austringer bathes himself in the protean light of Luna herself, concentrating on the self-diminishment of the waning moon.  In these stolen moments, he feels his Exaltation itself quivering and questing, as if trying to expand within him and change itself.  Sometimes, he feels as if he's on the edge of some great revelation, something that'll let him connect his still-fruitless search for Master Harrez, his defeat at the stryx's claws, his yearning for vengeance against Ma-Ha-Suchi, and the massacre that brought on his Exaltation into some kind of coherent meaning.

But it never lasts.  This will be a long road to closure and enlightenment.  Austringer hopes that he and Seln, whom he's already begun thinking of as his charge, will survive long enough to reach it.  (OOC: Austringer begins meditating his Essence up to 4, a three-month-plus process.  With all the other things going on in his life, this, too, will be a long-term project.  All told, all these expenditures, plus the ones from my previous post, come out to 137 of his available 160 xp, if I counted up correctly.)