What Makes an Empress? (Final Breath of the H&E.C.Empress)   Posted by The Calendar of Setesh.Group: 0
The Calendar of Setesh
 GM, 2 posts
 The Black Monarch
 Storyteller
Fri 3 Sep 2021
at 04:30
What Makes an Empress? (Final Breath of the H&E.C.Empress)
In the northern reaches of the Empire's tributaries lies Pneuma. A fortress of a city, and as those within the Empire would have anyone believe, the last bastion of civilization in an otherwise barbaric, and backwards Threshold. By Day, the innermost ring of the grand keep echoes with the shouts of disciples running through their training drills. Dozens of young trainees dedicate themselves to the Immaculate Order and its traditions of achieving spiritual strength through martial perfection.

It is within the Immaculate doctrines that young hopefuls find the articles of Upright Order and Perfected Hierarchy. Each soul, they are taught, travels down a vast path of spiritual perfection. Every life, every crossroads they find themselves at, is an opportunity to move farther down the road towards Immaculate Action. Or, to take the imperfect route. Finding themselves turned around, back where they started and struggling to master the most basic civilities once again to guide their future actions. Always striving for that state of Dragon's Grace possessed by the most pure and refined of souls, their Exaltation a mark of mastery. Neither able to be faked, nor suborned, by those still stumbling along towards their destiny, and proof of their righteous authority over the land itself, and the peoples upon it. Princes of the Earth, in name and role, they are what all would, and should, aspire towards.

At least, that is the way the Empire tells it.

-------

The air is cold and crisp. It mists before your face with every heavy breath you take. Morning drills designed to activate every gate of essence within the body always left you with a sweat and a burning in your muscles, but this day is especially taxing. The pain in your chest is both high and low, your lungs struggle to fill and they struggle to empty themselves. Being without breath is like drowning, cold and painful. Not the serene peace one might have imagined. The body fights for every gasp, convulsing and retching.

The Master was readying her disciples for an excursion into the Frost Walk. A splinter band of the northern barbarian tribes had made its way south into Imperial territory and as defenders of the Realm, it was your duty to show them the enlightenment that had been beaten into your bones until they broke. Word amongst your peers was, this was the final test for the Sixth Duan, and if they, if you, proved yourself this day, you would be done with the Duan, and a Monk - noble and true - you would be. The final step towards the vistas of perfected essence. The Dragons waited to bestow you with their blessings, you needed only make this final step, and seize it.

Before your team sets out with The Master, you have been given a task. Those in the Sixth Duan must ensure final preparations were complete. Without collaborating, the five of you were to split the efforts between you, trusting in your Fang to trust in you, and blindly secure one of five Knowledges to empower you to erase the threat of the Anathema Bull. The Master considers this unit acting as one mind pivotal to the most basic forms. If any two of you returned the same Knowledge, your whole Fang would be banished from Pneuma, from the Empire itself.

The First Knowledge was ‘Weakness’. In knowing your own limits, you know also the limits of the unrighteous.Secure strategy of approach from a captured northern warrior.

The Second Knowledge was ‘Power’. In knowing your own strengths, you know also the strength of the unrighteous. Face a northern warrior in combat to learn their techniques.

The Third Knowledge was ‘Desire’. In knowing your own temptations, you know also the temptations of the unrighteous. Break the will of a northern warrior by disrupting their pretense to temperance.

The Fourth Knowledge was ‘Faith’. In knowing the pillars of your own belief, you know also the architecture of the heathen’s devotion. Discern the iconography of the Bull, so that its followers’ morale can be broken.

The Fifth Knowledge was ‘Destiny’. In knowing your place in the Perfected Hierarchy, you also know the chaos suffered by the heretic. Muck out the stable, and dress down the horses.

You must choose one Knowledge, acquire it, and trust that the other four members of your Fang trust you to select the most appropriate for your own skills, while also trusting them to do the same. You must not be found to be speaking with them, or collaborating with them prior to acquiring your chosen Knowledge.

The Master wishes you all luck, then returns to smoking her long pipe, gazing out over the northern parapets towards where the day would eventually take you.
Heaven and Earth Celestial Empress
 player, 1 post
 A Flash Of Light
 A Glimmer of Dark
Fri 3 Sep 2021
at 09:43
What Makes an Empress? (Final Breath of the H&E.C.Empress)
Mei grimaced as she walked, feeling the ache and burn in the muscles as she walked, and the cool breath fills her lungs, feeling more like a liquid than air as she walked; the old master had hardly given them a minute to rest before it was time to set out on their journey. Still, she did not complain, she knew that she was worthy of the dragon's blessings, she pushed herself much harder than the others of her group, and this was just an extension of it; to complain would be to show weakness, and she wouldn't allow that.

Her feet feel like lead as she walks the path, navigating the directions given to where the splinter was in hiding, letting her steady pace and breathing steady herself as she meditated a bit while on the move, not quite able to get the same focus as she could while sitting. Still, it was more than enough to recover a bit of energy as she walked, knowing she will need it for the fight to come. She didn't think much of the barbarians that came into the empire. Still, she also didn't hate them; hate was earned, not inherent. It was simply her duty to gather knowledge about their fighting styles, and the others should know well enough that the knowledge of their "Power" was hers to claim.

As the light starts to grow dim, her steady pace having taken her up to the northern parapets, she sits for a moment to rest, retrieving her Tiger Claws from her bag and affixing them to her hands. The clawed gauntlets showed beautiful wave patterns and the symbol of their clan, a gift from her father as congratulations for making it so far; they should be more than good enough to spar with and defeat a northern warrior. After a few minutes more of meditating and relaxing, her body refusing to get up just yet, she managed to push herself to her feet, her determination taking hold as she starts to approach a nearby campfire, it was in the area where the barbarians were supposedly staying, so it could very well be theirs, taking caution to scout first before she engaged.

She watched the camp for a while, taking note of any of its occupants, not wishing to poke a hornet's nest, while she trusted in her ability to face one or two in combat, she was still a mortal, she could not strike her enemies simply by attacking nearby like her martial uncles could, or control the flow of their blood to pool their lungs, she was skilled, yes, but caution must be had. However, after watching for a good while, her patience started to wear thin. Having at least ascertained that this was simply a small camp of them and not the main splinter, she made her presence known to the barbarians, she would learn nothing by killing one from stealth, and thus, she must make her presence known and exchange some moves with the barbarian, even if it was only to learn how he fights.
The Calendar of Setesh
 GM, 7 posts
 The Black Monarch
 Storyteller
Fri 10 Sep 2021
at 04:40
What Makes an Empress? (Final Breath of the H&E.C.Empress)
The beasts, for that is all you could call them, hunch and grunt and lounge about their meagre camp. A small fire is all that affords them warmth, the thick layers of furs and leathers wrapped about them are frosted with a dusting of white snow.

They honk and heave at you making a direct appearance, some guttural language of theirs you don’t dare profane your soul by trying to comprehend. They beat their chests and roar their fury and heft their wooden spears, one heaves theirs to a couple feet from where you stand, a warning to back away and leave them in peace lest they savage you for encroaching where you were not wanted. As if this was their land. As if they had any claim to any scrap or morsel.

Coming closer, stopping just before the wooden spear now protruding from the ground, you get a better look at what they had been doing. Where the prior distance inferred they had hunted something on your people’s lands and were slaughtering it for meat, you see now that they were crowded around two of their fallen. Where once they were six, now they are only four. Had they turned on each other? No, those wounds were too clean, several horizontal slashes with an upwards cut to finish…

You would recognise the Dragon’s Claw Maneuver anywhere. A simple kata of straight blade and spinning arcs your Master had taught you and… only Chen from your Fang had not advanced past such basic forms, and as his name forms in your mind, the flap of the barbarian’s tent flicks open and your junior classman strides out, haunch of cooked meat in one hand, several large bites from it already missing.

He sees you only moments after you recognise him, frightened at first, his canny discipline quickly reminding him of what was at stake. His eyes flash with contemplation but his brow settles into the killing intent. He could not risk you returning with the same Knowledge, or worse, that you be considered fraternising or colluding. You were both too far down the path, failing now would mean another life spent as useless peasants before dying in the most shameful, mediocre way, only to try again in the next life, when you should both be worldly gods… His hand fumbles at his blade, the barbarians near him sensing the coming conflict and burrowing into nearby mounds of snow to escape.
Heaven and Earth Celestial Empress
 player, 2 posts
 A Flash Of Light
 A Glimmer of Dark
Fri 10 Sep 2021
at 06:51
What Makes an Empress? (Final Breath of the H&E.C.Empress)
Mei paused as she saw a member of her fang, glancing at the shallow wounds from the basic forms that Chen practiced, before staring him down, saying nothing. She began to turn away, intending to act like she had saw nothing and to go for another knowledge, but she felt the hairs on her neck prickle as she hears him fumbling for his blades, getting into a defensive posture as her brow furrowed. "Why do this Chen, I was willing to let you go, but I do not forgive those who show bloodlust towards me, and you should know very well my foundations are better than yours"

Never the less she waited for his strikes, being a proficient defensive duelist, having learned the advanced forms of their clan her blades cutting lighting into his skin as she parried and riposted, not doing much damage on their own, but they were wounds, and they bled like any other sapping his strength as she fought defensively, conserving her own strength "I have no qualms about taking you in, attacking your fellow disciple is a grave crime" She said, continuing to fight defensively, maybe a bit too arrogant because of her knowledge of advanced forms, but at least it was somewhat warranted.