Crossing the Yanaze.   Posted by Segev Stormlord.Group: 0
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 645 posts
Mon 5 May 2014
at 12:15
Crossing the Yanaze
The forests have been getting thicker as Austringer moves North. In the Southeast, fertile plains blanket the landscape, but in the East, the Pole of Wood's influence slowly makes itself more felt. This far from the Wyld, it is nothing out of the ordinary; woods like this exist on the Blessed Isle as well, though these are less well-maintained. Still, there are simply more of them, and they stretch for further, with more villages and even small kingdoms built within them rather than clearing them out for farmland, or even usable space. This leads to many of them being nearly haphazard in their layout as they follow the lay of the land.

It is a comfortable place for various creatures, some of which are dangerous to the lone traveler. Others, like the mopsid, simply are too dangerous compared to the meat on their bones to be threatened by anything larger than they. Nests of these creatures are not infrequent, and they can be seen flying through the trees on their own business relatively frequently.

It is thus a little surprising when the woods thin out again to reveal a vast plain that stretches to the East and West for as far as the eye can see. It requires gaining a proper vantage, but distantly ahead, this plain seems to end in a vast, flowing lake: the Yanaze River, more than 80 miles wide and at times audible from as far a distance away. A month, maybe two, North of that - for those who travel by foot or wagon - lies Greyfalls.

As the plains open up, a few farms are set behind small but sturdy fences, keeping the wild animals of the woods from besetting their crops and livestock. A logging village lies just in the open, serving as a trading post for the farmers as well as marking the start of well-trod dirt roads leading to the massive river.
Austringer
 player, 2 posts
Mon 5 May 2014
at 21:00
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
It feels odd to be out in the open again.  And after weeks of traveling mostly by wind and wing, it feels equally strange to be standing upright on the ground as a human being.  Beneath Austringer’s gloves, his moonsilver tattoos seem to itch.

He peers from the forest edge toward the distant river.  So, he thinks, the mighty Yanaze, Mother of Eastern Waters.  I knew it would be big, but I didn’t realize it was big.

Austringer ponders his next move.  The river itself poses no barrier for a fish, let alone a mospid, but what then?  Rumor among the Lunars of the Threshold has it that the Nameless Lair of Ma-Ha-Suchi lies somewhere beyond that far shore, but he has only a vague idea of the time and distance.  Worse, as he glances down at the gloves covering his hands and the rather ordinary sleeves bunching around his bracers, he realizes once again that he is no match for a homicidal elder Lunar from the First Age and a literal army of his children.  Worst of all, he has only suspicion that his mentor was headed there in the first place.  “Why couldn’t you just give me some straightforward instructions for once, you old peccary?” he can’t help muttering.

The thought of Master Harrez in trouble brings him back to himself.  Harrez’s trail has been growing colder by the day, until it recently petered out beyond Austringer’s ability to follow it.  Did he cross the river at all?  Or did he head off in some other direction?  And if he did, which?

Harrez, he knows, would want him to take initiative for himself.  Maybe the people in this logging village have seen a squat man with a vajra—or a javelina—pass through.  Maybe they know more about the stirrings of the Wolf with the Red Roses.  And more than that, Austringer has begun to miss human contact.  He decides it's best to cross this great floodplain as a man.

With a careful glance at his clothing to ensure he looks presentable without drawing attention to himself, and a final, nervous glance at the gloves covering the tattoos on his hands and fingers, Austringer shoulders his small pack and approaches the logging village quietly but confidently.
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 647 posts
Mon 12 May 2014
at 00:08
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The village is tiny, no more than a few buildings. The largest seems to be a pavilion sheltering the logs brought in by the lumberjacks; the second largest is apparently a shared domicile. It's mid afternoon as Austringer approaches; there is some activity as young men lead a stolid yeddim-pulled sled back into the woods, its earlier contents freshly deposited with the other lumber.

The majority of people moving about are young women, cleaning up the village itself and tending a smallish garden. A pair are working on the roof of the long, house-like structure, patching it with bark-shingles. Nobody seems to pay any initial mind to a man walking out of the woods.
Austringer
 player, 3 posts
Tue 13 May 2014
at 15:59
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer approaches the nearest person, one of the women tending the garden.  "Good afternoon, ma'am," he says, sketching a faint ghost of a bow and smiling his most forthright smile.  "Have you seen any strangers in the area recently?  I'm a traveler from the south, looking for a friend.  Did a large, squat fellow with a mustache pass through here?  He looks like a hunter, carrying a sort of javelin.  It would probably have been about a month past."
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 650 posts
Sun 18 May 2014
at 04:25
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
A handsome woman in the middle of a mortal's tragically short number of years pushes some still-dark hairs up under her kerchief, to join the slate gray ones through which the darker locks streak. "We see a few dozen travelers going through town every month or so," she says, not unkindly, as she dusts her hands off on her much-used apron. "Some have mustaches," she adds a bit unhelpfully.

"Most don't travel alone; only seen a few of those." chimes in another of the women, this one younger.

A third, about the first one's age adds conversationaly, "Area's not too dangerous, this far from the river, but that's the only place to go north to around here."

"Where might your friend have been heading?" asks the first matron as she steps out of the garden to speak to him directly. Her shoes have thick but high heels, putting her nearly eye-to-eye with Austringer as she draws nearer and gets onto the firmer-packed earth of the path through town.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:27, Sun 18 May 2014.

Austringer
 player, 4 posts
Mon 19 May 2014
at 13:51
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Realizing that saying he isn't sure where his friend was going would sound ridiculous, not to mention suspicious, Austringer instead makes his best guess.  "He would have been heading for the river, looking to cross, I should imagine.  He had business on the north shore."

Something one of the other women said sticks in Austringer's mind.  "Wait, what's dangerous about the area around the river?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 652 posts
Mon 19 May 2014
at 22:28
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Most of the rough sorts come from there," comments one of the younger women. They're beginning to gather around Austringer as the conversation gets more interesting. "River pirates, that sort of thing." "Yeah, lets them make quick assaults and get-aways."

The first woman to speak to him rolls her eyes a bit. "There really aren't that many of them, but the tales get bigger in the telling. We're still a couple of days' walk away from the shore, here," she offers in the tone of a well-worn discussion point, more aimed at the others than at Austringer, despite being addressed to him. "What's his business? Trade, or mercenary?"
Austringer
 player, 5 posts
Wed 21 May 2014
at 03:57
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer considers an apt answer for a second, hoping the hesitation isn't obvious.  "Troubleshooter," he says.

Sometimes, he thinks, you just have to trust somebody.  "Some while ago, my home was ravaged by some kind of beast-creature-thing.  Master Harrez-- my friend-- took me in.  Not long ago, I told him the whole story, and he headed off this direction, I think to hunt down the beastman or demon or whatever it was that's responsible.  Have you heard any rumors of anything like that?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 653 posts
Thu 22 May 2014
at 04:19
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Oh, there're always tales of monsters beyond the river," says the woman with increasing speed of speech, as if racing to get her words out before others. If so, she fails. A torrential flood of rumors, myths, and old wives' tales spin about and ricochet around Austringer as the women each have at least one tale they heard from a friend of a friend who was traveling south from there just last month. The tales range from lurid stories about knights rescuing fair princesses from faerie dragons to shriek-seeking suspense thrillers about monsters in the dark who steal away peasants to be eaten by things under hills. One even speaks of a princess so wealthy she has seduced a god into betraying Heaven for her hand in marriage (and a share in her enormous assets). He is, of course, going to eat her up if she discovers his poverty.
Austringer
 player, 6 posts
Fri 23 May 2014
at 03:28
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer blinks at the welter of stories but recovers quickly.  "The north bank sounds like an exciting place," he says.

(OOC: Austringer attempts a Per+Lore+specialty in Exalts or, if the ST feels it more apt, Per+Investigation, to determine if anything they said might give him clues toward either Harrez's whereabouts or anything useful about Ma-Ha-Suchi's current operations.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 654 posts
Fri 23 May 2014
at 04:27
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The stories mostly sound well-worn and rehashed, though a princess seducing a god is well within the purview of the Exalted when they put their minds to it. The part that rings most true is the reference to monsters stealing people away; Ma-Ha-Suchi's breeding pits are not exactly unknown in the Silver Pact's circles, and some may argue that being devoured would be a kinder fate. The Nameless Lair is a month or more of travel by mortal means, however, even from the north side of the Yanaze. It could be that the Elder's reach is spreading if these sorts of tales are becoming gossip this far south. Or it could just be that not much more exciting happens in a thousand-mile radius.

At Austringer's comment, however, one of the youngest in the bevy of women exults, "Oh! Yes! The King of Falan and his Knights live on the north bank! They're always in the midst of one adventure or another!"
Austringer
 player, 7 posts
Sat 24 May 2014
at 02:17
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Knights, Austringer thinks.  The word plays on his imagination like a master musician on the strings of a harp.  This is what he and Tepet Arslan used to daydream about when they were boys: being knights, battling Anathema and other monsters in defense of the innocent.  Suddenly, Austringer’s concerns over Harrez the Rough’s whereabouts seem misplace.  Harrez is a formidable warrior over a century old and can take care of himself.

But regardless of Harrez, there's still a wicked elder Lunar across that river, preying on the innocent, misusing an Exaltation that should be an honor to himself and the Fickle Maid for the vilest of ends.  The forces of—Falan, was it?—might be just the allies Austringer needs to punish the Wolf with the Red Roses for his crimes once and for all.  And maybe, just maybe, to discover whether he was the one who turned Austringer's life upside down the night the young Lunar Exalted.

“I’m a stranger to the here,” he says, “and I haven’t heard of Falan before.”   Trying to contain an almost boyish eagerness, he adds, “This Duke and these knights, why has their fame spread all the way across”—he gestures to the river—“that?  And where can I find them, precisely?”
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 656 posts
Sun 25 May 2014
at 16:23
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Falan's a huge kingdom on the far banks of the Yanaze!" offers one young woman.

"The King is old and wise, and has a really handsome son who's a knight and is looking for a bride."

"No, the King's young and looking for his own bride so the kingdom has an heir."

"If you're looking for justice against the evil beast-thing that ravaged your village, the knights'll help you. They fight off the hordes of beastmen from the north all the time!"

"Maybe you should become a knight!"

"If you want to talk to a Duke, the Duke of Eastriver is closest to the King, but the Duke of Oredol's closest, here. He's also the richest, I hear."

"Do you suppose HIS son's married yet?"

"Hah!" scoffs a more elderly matron, "As if any of the likes of you have a chance to even ever meet such nobility."
Austringer
 player, 8 posts
Tue 27 May 2014
at 02:02
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer considers and wonders if perhaps it's just that simple.  Particularly if Ma-Ha-Suchi's forces are on the rampage, he can simply head north into Falan and scout around its forests and fields until he finds a force of mortals fighting the elder's vicious beastmen.  He reviews the names the villagers gave him in his head to make sure he has them set.

"Thank you," he says.  "They sound like exactly the people I need to see.  Where is the best place in Falan to start looking for forces fighting the beastmen?"  Ideally, it'll be something he can spot from the air ...
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 657 posts
Tue 27 May 2014
at 05:17
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"The northern border, certainly," answers the first woman to speak to Austringer. "That's the edge of civilization, so it's closest to the beastmen's lands."
Austringer
 player, 9 posts
Wed 28 May 2014
at 17:50
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer reflects that the lot of a Lunar always seems to involve ending up on the borders of civilization.  Still, if that is where the fight against Ma-Ha-Suchi is flaring, that is where he'll find answers, and possibly Harrez as well.

"Then that is where I'll go." He grins.  "It's a long way; I'd best get moving.  Thank you so kindly for you assistance, ma'am.  May the blessings of Luna and the Dragons be on you."

(Assuming the villagers have nothing further to add, Austringer heads for the nearest out-of-sight place and assumes mospid form for the flight down to the river edge, where he takes a short rest before making the long flight across.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 658 posts
Thu 29 May 2014
at 02:33
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
It is a long flight over the Yanaze. Austringer's seen inland seas that are narrower. Boats - fishing, merchant, pleasure - occasionally pass below over the hours as he glides along, the water essence churning the air and providing a controlled breeze that almost makes it easier to face eastward.

As he finally nears the far shore, the first sign of "land" across which he comes seems at first to be a set of buildings constructed right in the water. Too stationary to be boats, it becomes clear that they're built on a barely-submerged sand bar. Men who initially seemed to be walking on water are clearly toiling under the late afternoon heat of the Sun as it descends towards the mouth of the great river. What they're doing is unclear from this height, but their overseers patrol with a stern presence which most butlers would envy.

Intently focused on their various labors, they are at least as surprised as Austringer when a great river dragon erupts from the water and snaps its jaws around the shoulder and upper torso of one of the supervisors and flips him end-over-end out towards the deeper water. He grows almost peacefully in Austringer's sight as he rises, before Earth's uncompromising grip retake's its hold and pulls him downward once more.

Screams spread in ripples just behind awareness of what has happened, and men and women start to stumble from where they kneel to scurry backwards on their hands and heels, or turn and flee as fast as they can through water at least up to their ankles. The river dragon surges onto the shallowly-covered sand bar, sending waves pushing the nearest fleeing mortals ahead as it begins to prowl towards them. Almost herding them towards the narrower end of the not-quite-island, where the tallest building stands.
Austringer
 player, 10 posts
Sat 31 May 2014
at 00:41
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The mind of a mospid, even a Steward, is not like the mind of a man.  Austringer realizes the danger to the people below, and feels the impulse to protect them, not as a matter of conscious thought but as a matter of instinct.  And that same instinct tells him that this is not a time for subtlety.  (Thus, he will begin by burning peripheral rather than personal essence.)

He performs a wingover to get slightly behind the river dragon, as well as above it.  (If possible, depending on the relative positions of the sun and the river dragon, he lines up so he's hidden by the sun from the dragon's position.)  Then, feeling the tattoos across his wings coil with the protean power of moonsilver and blaze with Lunar essence, he shifts to his warform.  Faint, pale-yellow light wreathes his form.  In moments, his flight is less effortless, yet he is now tremendously stronger and faster.

At the same time, he calls forth his Claws of the Silver Moon.  Silvery essence now gleams along his talon-like nails.  His anima banner flares brighter, to a cool white, and rises farther from his skin, forming a rough, radiant outline perhaps six inches from his skin.

While doing all this, he watches the river dragon carefully.  Should it move to attack the workers, he will arrow down on it and strike as soon as possible.  But this "herding" business looks suspicious-- frightening potential prey toward safety while ignoring the man it flung into the river is not normal behavior from any river dragon Austringer has heard of.  He examines the river dragon as carefully as he can from this height for anything unusual.

(OOC: This appears to be three actions: (1) flying into position and trying to establish a position of surprise (presumably either Dex+Athletics and/or Dex+Stealth), (2) donning warform and popping his Claws (a shapeshifting plus a Charm; note that this is Claws in its normal form, not its Gift form), and (3) examining the river dragon (presumably either Per+Awareness or Per+Investigation).  Please let me know how many rolls I need here and of what sort.)

This message was last edited by the player at 00:43, Sat 31 May 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 661 posts
Sat 31 May 2014
at 01:24
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
From the high vantage point, with the Sun entirely behind his small form, the mospid can tell easily that the river dragon and its human quarry are not looking up at all, let alone into the daystar's blinding light. More to the point, however, Austringer can see a tell-tail glint of silvery lines tracing flows of Essence mere moments before the river dragon's wings turn from leather to feathers, and several of those develop a moonsilver sheen as they turn razor-sharp and magically hard.

Rearing up into a bipedal form, some sort of multi-winged hybrid of predatory avian raptors sweeps forward, gouging deeply into the flesh of any men too foolish or slow to get out of its way. The lethal grace of the unfettered motion is eerily beautiful from up here, where the wind can almost cover the screams of pain and fear.
Austringer
 player, 11 posts
Sat 31 May 2014
at 03:23
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Another Lunar!  A fierce, rasping hiss escapes Austringer’s throat before he can control it.  If there’s one thing a Steward ought not do, it’s slaughter a bunch of inoffensive mortals.  Never again! thinks Austringer.  Pouring more essence out through his anima, Austringer folds back his wings and dives down out of the Sun, hoping to use the power of his dive to drive the heavy, essence-infused talons on his feet into this ravening monster’s body as a mospid would stoop upon a vole.

(OOC: Diving for up to 50 yards, which easily should take him down to the other Lunar: diff 1, Dex+Athletics+tail bonus+flying specialty, for 11 dice total.

Austringer rolled 6 successes using 11d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7. Diving.

The enemy Lunar should have 0 DV due to being surprised and attacked from above and out of the sun.

Striking at the end of the dive with first foot: Dex +Martial Arts +natural weapon specialty+2 for CotSM Acc bonus +3 for channeling Compassion (protecting the mortal workers) -2 for two actions in the flurry, for 13 dice total.

Austringer rolled 8 successes using 13d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7.  (First attack roll) Plus 3 successes for 3 purchases of Essence Triumphant (DEX) gives a total of 11 successes.

9 dice for second kick.

 Austringer rolled 6 successes using 9d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7. (Second attack roll).  No bonus successes purchased for this one.

Please let me know if the enemy Lunar's using anything applying external penalties or has some sort of supernatural effect that would enable him to dodge or parry, and I'll take care of the damage rolls.

Note that Austringer's anima power is now active reflexively for burning 15 motes during the scene.)

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 665 posts
Mon 2 Jun 2014
at 01:21
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The befeathered monster never saw it coming, but as Austringer's dive collides perfectly with its winged trajectory, his silvered talons pierce the pinions on its back with an argent shockwave rippling from the point of impact outwards, the creature's flesh turning to solid metal beneath his assault!

((OOC: Invulnerable Moonsilver Carapace: +15 Soak over whatever its normal value is, and minimum damage is reduced to 0. Your attacks hit a 0 DV, however, so roll damage with all successes on the attack rolls as bonus dice!))
Austringer
 player, 12 posts
Mon 2 Jun 2014
at 05:01
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
(OOC: The first, more powerful strike (presumably Austringer's leading foot) hits with a respectable 4 str+8 CotSM damage+ 11 successes, for a total of 23 Lethal, with the secondary attack hitting for 18 Lethal.  Soak reduces each of these by 15+, for something less than 8 and 3 respectively.  Given that we're dealing with a fairly high-Essence Exalted monster here, I suspect the second strike simply bounces off the chimera's Moonsilver Carapace.  Minimum damage would normally be 3 for Austringer's Essence or 2 for CotSM itself, but that is obviated by the defensive charm.  In any case, I do need to know the enemy's full soak before the damage roll.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 666 posts
Tue 3 Jun 2014
at 04:45
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
((OOC: At the moment, the total lethal Soak of this monster is 29, due to 2L from Stamina, 12L from 4m committed to Armor-Forming Technique (I apologize, I should have described more visible armor plating in the feathers before-hand), and 15L from the aforementioned Invulnerable Moonsilver Carapace. The 15L will cost at least 6m/action to maintain, so likely can't be kept up indefinitely, however. Full Moon Lunars in war form are very tanky.))
Austringer
 player, 13 posts
Wed 4 Jun 2014
at 03:57
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer’s talons rebound from the ravening Lunar’s armored, moonsilvered hide.  His wings thrash wildly as he balances for a moment on his adversary’s back.

There's no way he can punch through this monster's hide.  He could carry an ordinary foe off into the sky and drop it on a rock face like an eagle cracking open a tortoise’s shell, or grapple it and hold it under the Yanaze’s waters until it drowned.  But neither route will work against protean body of a Lunar that’s already displayed the forms of a river dragon and a flying creature.

Maybe there’s another way, he thinks. Got to find out what it knows, got to exhaust it … He quickly glances around at the work site now that he’s down at a level where he can see it better.  In particular, he tries to see what the building looks like, whether there are any ropes or heavy pieces of material around, and, most importantly, whether the workers made it to the temporary safety of the shelter.

And, in those same moments, he takes a look at the monster thrashing beneath him, searching for moonsilver tattoos or for anything that might suggest a Tell.

(OOC: Let me know if I need to roll Per for either thing, since we’re right in the midst of combat.)

This message was last edited by the player at 04:03, Wed 04 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 667 posts
Thu 5 Jun 2014
at 03:16
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The creature's expenditure of Peripheral Essence on the Invulnerable Carapace has made the glowing traceries of Moonsilver tattoos quite obvious. The water splashing beneath its tread has a feathery-softness to its sounds that seems unnatural, as if hushed by the passage of an owl's wings.

Its head rotates about to look at the small mospid on its back, and lashes out with a razor-sharp on a snake-like neck, arcing up and around and down like a reverse scorpion's tail to pin the smaller Lunar against the silver-shelled feathers rippling about his where he landed.

((OOC: Attacking with 15 dice to hit.))
Austringer
 player, 14 posts
Fri 6 Jun 2014
at 03:28
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Segev Stormlord:
... the small mospid on its back ...


(OOC: Keep in mind that Austringer's in his warform and thus of significant size, though still smaller than the other Lunar.  At this point, he's only been on the enemy Lunar's back for a second or two and wouldn't be able to balance there much longer, anyway.)

Austringer hisses involuntarily.  He kicks violently away from the creature's striking head, pushing off from its back and attempting to backflip away while simultaneously throwing his foe off balance.

(OOC: Austringer has a total Dodge DV of 9 (including the effect of his hearthstone bracers), plus any stunting bonus he might get for kicking off the foe's back and doing a flip.)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 669 posts
Fri 6 Jun 2014
at 18:41
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
((OOC: My apologies; I somehow missed that he assumed war form. You're probably about the same size, then!

The enemy Lunar has rolled 10 successes to hit. Unless you have a defense reroll charm, the raw damage of the attack, pre-soak, is 6L. If you have a defense reroll Charm, please apply it; if not, please apply hardness or Soak and any appropriate Charms.))

Austringer
 player, 15 posts
Sat 7 Jun 2014
at 03:12
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
(OOC: Austringer has a Lethal soak of 5L in warform, leaving 1L damage [unless the Lunar is using an Overwhelming effect that would allow it to use its Essence or some higher value as a higher minimum damage, if I read the rules correctly].)

The bite just barely clips Austringer as he dodges away.  He splashes to a landing and bares his teeth in pain and fury.  "What's it like to fight someone who can fight back?" he hisses.  He edges back slightly, toward one of the less sturdy-looking structures on stilts.  "Killing unoffending mortals-- you are no true knight of Luna!  We have a name for your kind where I come from, and that name is ANATHEMA!"

This message was last edited by the player at 03:23, Sat 07 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 670 posts
Sat 7 Jun 2014
at 20:31
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
((OOC: Essence is always minimum damage (assuming raw damage was at least that high) unless something says otherwise; if you have Hardness of 6L or higher, it stops it all, otherwise there are still 4 dice in this Lunar's damage pool. Rolled 1 success, so Austringer takes 1L.))

Swooping up in an eerie silence, the creature rises above Austringer, but allows its forward momentum to die. The screams and panicked flight of the mortals continue all the more energetically now that there are two monsters on their small sand bar. In a muted voice, like a woman's but with all the higher pitches hushed away, it replies, "Your words sound Casteless and naive, though you mean them to be insulting. Who scribed your tattoos that schooled you so poorly? By what right do you presume to judge who is offensive to whom?"

The silver fades to mottled gray on brown as the Full Moon caste mark blazes in the center of a stryx-faced forehead, four wings replacing any arms while legs longer than any natural bird's curl beneath it until it extends them to stand in the water with a grace that removes any need to descend to land.
Austringer
 player, 17 posts
Mon 9 Jun 2014
at 03:54
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Wincing at the cut from the creature's beak, Austringer struggles to bring his fury under control, to fight smart, as Master Harrez would say.

"My tattoos were inscribed by Harrez the Rough, master of the tooth and javelin," he says, his voice dropping from an avian rattle to a softer but equally fierce reptilian rasp, "and I'll advise you just once not to speak of him so lightly.  I judge by the evidence of my eyes and the right of my Stewardship."

His wings twitch half-open, distracting from the fact that he continues to back up until he stands near one of the wooden stilts holding up one of the deserted buildings.  "And if my words are Casteless, then your deeds are chimerical!"  He gestures with a nod of his head toward the frightened mortals fleeing the mospid and strigiform Full Moons. "What could these mortals possibly have done to deserve death?  We are the Stewards of Creation, not its ravagers!"

(OOC:  Austringer rolled 4 successes using 6d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7. Reflexive STA+Res to close his wound, diff 2.  Also, how high and how sturdy is the stilt near which Austringer is standing?  I.e., will the two Lunars be able to stand up "under" the building?)
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 672 posts
Tue 10 Jun 2014
at 04:54
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Well said; a Steward needs justify his judgment to none," retorts the other Lunar. "But out of respect for Harrez, I will tell you that these mortals serve a liar or are traitors. I mean to find out which, though either way, they deserve what's coming to them."

((OOC: Since I didn't specify and it has not been established, things like the height of the building's stilts and whether or not you can stand beneath it are well within the purview of a 2-die stunt for you to determine.))
Austringer
 player, 18 posts
Wed 11 Jun 2014
at 01:12
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Thinking that the owl-Lunar's "judgment" seems to involve nothing of the sort, Austringer resolves not to be equally impulsive himself.  There's obviously some history here of which he knows nothing.  But while appearing relaxed, he tenses himself beside the bamboo stilt at the corner of the building, just in case.

"What liar?" he asks.  "What treachery?  Who are these people working for, and what did they do?"
Segev Stormlord
 GM, 673 posts
Wed 11 Jun 2014
at 22:21
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Their mistress claims she will not traffic in men, but they buy what is rightfully tribute from those who have no right to sell it," replies the older Lunar as it turns nonchalantly towards the largest building once more. "I've been listening to them for days. I will take the head of this place back to their mistress and confront her. You may come or not, as you like."

With an eerie silence, the Lunar's clawed feet cut through the water and leave no splash.
Austringer
 player, 19 posts
Thu 12 Jun 2014
at 18:49
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer carefully parses the other Full Moon's language.  So, he thinks, these people are slaves and slavers.  If this chimera is offering them any freedom, it is the freedom of Lethe.  If I trust this creature to settle whatever's going on here, this will end in a blood-slick on the Yanaze's surface.  And this matter of people as "tribute" ... I really don't like the sound of that.

"Wait!" he calls out commandingly.  "Tribute to whom?"  His scarlet eyes narrow.  "I told you who scribed my tattoos.  Who is your master?"

This message was last edited by the player at 18:51, Thu 12 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 675 posts
Fri 13 Jun 2014
at 01:00
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
With an exasperated ruffle of feathers, the other Lunar states, "My tattoos were scribed by the Praying Matron, but it is by Ma Ha Suchi that I was introduced to the ways of the Silver Pact. And it is his tribute that has been misappropriated. Worse, if these people are - as I suspect - a front for the Guild, the tribute could be ultimately feeding the enemies of Creation."

To hear the full of this admittedly short diatribe, Austringer would have to take wing once more. Something about this Lunar's voice doesn't carry any better than the hushed flight sounds of passage, and the Lunar is not stopping its relentless advance on the biggest building.
Austringer
 player, 20 posts
Fri 13 Jun 2014
at 17:37
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer glides a short distance after the Full Moon, catching the end of its eerie whispering.

His eyes narrow.  "That's what I thought you'd say," he whispers equally softly.

Slave-holders abusing slaves and a chimerical Lunar "punishing" everyone in sight indiscriminately.  He's been here before.  Never again.  Never.  Again!

He can sort out this conspiracy of slavers later.  Right now, he has to ensure that this Lunar never helps any more "tribute" pass into Ma-Ha-Suchi's clawed hands.  Ever again.

Austringer pounces on the owl-thing once more and locks his talons, attempting to seize it as a mospid would seize a weaker bird.

(OOC: Austringer rolled 10 successes using 12d10 with the White Wolf Exalted system with a target of 7. Clinch attempt.  Standard DEX+MA+specialty+CotSM; no excellencies.)

This message was last edited by the player at 17:39, Fri 13 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 676 posts
Sat 14 Jun 2014
at 23:52
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The Lunar jukes sideways sensing the attack coming. The flash of sunlight on the water blurs with the gray-dappled feathers, and Austringer almost loses sight of his target for a moment, but the maneuver was too early, and he can adjust in time to wrap talons and limbs around a warm body.
Austringer
 player, 21 posts
Sun 15 Jun 2014
at 21:24
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"Never again, do you hear me?"  Austringer's voice rasps with the inhuman rattle of a mospid.  "Never again!"

Austringer's essence-sheathed claws dig in as he braces himself.  Slewing himself around with his momentum, he flings the silent Lunar toward the support strut he examined earlier, in hopes that it will crash through it and perhaps be crushed by collapse of the small building.

Let's see you shrug that off, you horrible thing! he thinks.

(OOC: Assuming the Lunar can't stop its flight through the air [I've learned not to underestimate this thing's ability to mess with my tactics ;)] ... I'm not sure distance really matters here, but Austringer can likely fling this thing pretty far, about 21 feet, with his base Strength of 4 in warform plus an extra 3 for his Full Moon anima flare.  Rules imply that the owl takes no damage from cracking through the support, but it might take some from the building falling on it, to the extent that happens.)

This message was last edited by the player at 21:25, Sun 15 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 677 posts
Sun 15 Jun 2014
at 23:44
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
The support wobbles under the force of the man's body impacting with it. If he's still alive, he won't be for long with the essence-sheathed claw wounds piercing his torso and bleeding out into the water. People continue to scatter before the advancing Lunar, who takes a moment to locate, as it continues to move in eerie silence.

The foreman - marked by the way everybody first crowded towards him, but now are pulling away as the Lunar closes in - is likely regretting his decision to come out to see what the commotion was, as he is now pinned against the door by the Lunar's argent gaze.

((OOC: Running Through the Herd. This Lunar can, indeed, mess with your tactics.))
Austringer
 player, 22 posts
Mon 16 Jun 2014
at 01:25
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer screeches in frustration and shock as he realizes this foe is beyond his ability to stop.

But the man he injured is more important than this seemingly invulnerable monster.  He rushes to the injured man and attempts to stabilize his wounds with his admittedly limited knowledge of first aid, thankful that Master Harrez made him learn it.

He does his best to keep one eye (and ear, so much as possible) on on the Full Moon as it advances on the foreman.

(OOC: Appears to be a diceless action to stop the bleeding because Austringer has Medicine 1.)

This message was last edited by the player at 02:54, Mon 16 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 678 posts
Mon 16 Jun 2014
at 04:12
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
While Austringer is binding the wounds - a tricky task with only the man's own clothes from which to make them, especially with wounds so deep - a towering owl of silver light, shedding feathers like leaves in autumn, erupts at the building where the Lunar is confronting the foreman.

Eyes glassy with pain, the green-haired man Austringer is treating gasps out, "...why?"
Austringer
 player, 23 posts
Mon 16 Jun 2014
at 19:19
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
How can Austringer answer the most difficult of questions?

It was an accident?  The other monster used magic on me?  Hardly sufficient.

Because I'm hopelessly overmatched?  This man has enough to worry about without shouldering Austringer's burden of anger and frustration.

Because it's not enough for the chimerae of the Silver Pact to treat mortal lives like Gateway counters; they have to make the rest of us accomplices to their crimes?  That is his own guilt and self-pity talking.  Even if it is true.

"Because I failed you," he says.  He lifts the man onto one of the stable pieces of debris projecting out of the water.  "Rest now.  Try not to move.  I'll be back to check on you when this is over."  He hurries past the frightened workers outside the building now wreathed in a baleful essence flare.

"If I survive this," he adds to himself.

If there's a place he can watch what's going on inside without being easily seen, such as a knothole in the wood or an appropriately placed window, he stations himself there.  Otherwise, he pauses on the threshold of the building to take in what is happening and, hopefully, listen (to the extent he can hear his near-silent foe at all).

(OOC, Edit: On a reread, it isn't clear to me if the silent Lunar and foreman are outside or inside.)

This message was last edited by the player at 17:34, Tue 17 June 2014.

Segev Stormlord
 GM, 679 posts
Wed 18 Jun 2014
at 22:58
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
"--didn't know!" squeaks the foreman, head held high not in hauteur but to hold his neck as far from the bladed silver feathers gently pressed against it as possible. "I just bought them from the Guild to do work. I thought it was better than them going to feed the Fair Folk!" He is not a large man, and has the soft look about him of one who was recently overweight but has not been eating as much lately. His skin is tanned, but that could be natural coloration or from hours spent each day in the sun, overseeing the workers.

"Your mistress claimed she had no slaves," retorts the Lunar, raising the man higher on the wall.

He gasps for breath, trying not to slip down onto her sharpened pinions. "She doesn't!" he says, eyes shifting slightly as he avoids the piercing, terrifying gaze of the owl-serpent-beast. Tears at the brightness of the towering avian anima slip down his cheeks. Or perhaps they're tears of terror. "Um, I mean, she doesn't know. Because we have... ...I mean we didn't know they were for the great Ma Ha Suchi!"

To Austringer's ear, this is the clear dissembling of an underling to a noble (and abusive) superior. He's not being fully honest, scrambling to say anything he thinks will keep him alive in the face of this monster. Yet, the Lunar's expression - unreadable, likely, to those unfamiliar with the distortions a hybrid form applies to one's face - twists thoughtfully, considering the words and possibly even buying them.
Austringer
 player, 24 posts
Thu 19 Jun 2014
at 18:52
Re: Crossing the Yanaze
Austringer's eyes narrow.  These people likely aren't very well-off as slaves here, but at least they aren't being brutalized and then eaten by Ma-Ha-Suchi and his beastmen.  There may be a way to turn all this to these people's advantage, maybe even free them, but the most important thing is to make sure the chimera doesn't kill any more of them or worse, drag them off to her monstrous patron.

To formulate a plan, he needs more information, about this "mistress" and about this pathetic overseer's Guild contacts.  Ideally, a chance to question the man himself, out of the ken of the other Lunar.  If it really believes this laughable charade, then it may depart without further incident, and Austringer can deal with things himself.

He's just got to be sure the chimera doesn't kill this man before Austringer's had a chance to talk to him.  Besides, though Austringer has little but contempt for this man, he is at least a man.  The chimera's words and deeds have shown that it's not even that.

Austringer continues to listen without interfering for the moment, unless the Lunar appears likely to attack or kill the man.
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.)