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[IC] [Exalted] The Whitestone Island Campaign

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  • #91
    As our injured heroes got to know one another, and slowly and groaningly figured out how to move and converse around their wounds both physical and supernatural, Endlessly Yearning Horizon tended to the other wounded from the earthquake, several of whom similarly woke up and began chattering with one another (and several of whom were also terrified of the golden-skinned extra-fingered emotion-tasting healer, and needed to be gently talked down).

    The sun slowly set, and the sky overhead turned purple before fading to a deep dark blue studded with several gleaming stars. The flowers on the vines that grew on the walls of the grotto slowly closed, and the constant background noise of distant birds quieted, and the tattooed guards lit a couple of torches in sconces on the grotto walls. The atmosphere in the grotto was tense, for everyone in the little grotto got the news that a demon was loose and the earthquake had injured people and broken ancient wards guarding the island from the dead and evil spirits, but they took to Wahine's suggestion and passed the time with stories.

    A young woman named Tulani told a story about her grandmother meeting Oihana of the Silent Wood when she was lost in the jungles of the north as a girl, and how her ancestor had persuaded the god to show her the way home in exchange for the answer to a riddle. A young warrior with red and black and white tattoos who introduced himself as Kune asked Pakari for news of the Bearer of Bones, who had not been found in the shattered jungle, though the bones she bore had been recovered. He thanked Pakari for what news he could give, and he took the small corpse out of the grotto and away into one of the caves, his eyes wet in the torchlight. Endlessly Yearning Horizon, as the hour grew late, finished with most of his medical ministrations, told a tale of a mighty warrior-princess who fought a thousand battles and won a thousand victories, until one day she stood across the field from the queen of an enemy kingdom and fell in love with her foe. The princess lost her first battle, for the queen she faced was a brilliant strategist and a peerless swordswoman, and thereafter the princess became cruel and vicious, mounting assault after assault in the hopes of facing again the only enemy who had ever brought her low. The story ended with the queen's sword in the princess's heart and a smile on the princess' face, and it should have been a tragedy (especially with the subplot Horizon worked in about how the warrior-queen was married to an old bitter tyrant of a husband), but the way the golden-skinned man told it everyone was smiling at the end, for the princess had found the ending she desired.

    The Maiden took a turn at the telling of tales then, for nobody else seemed confident enough to follow the burning words of the gold-skinned healer, but the Maiden was a professional storyteller and she got up and did the voices and acted out the parts and if Menreiki-San would have rolled his eyes and told her she just couldn't go deep enough to get the villain's voice right and her timing in the third act was terrible, it didn't matter, for she was telling stories of strange distant lands none of these islanders had ever heard of, and stories unlike any they knew. Several times she had to stop and explain things like taxes and towers and ice and silk in the middle of her narrative, and as she spoke her listeners' eyes grew wide with wonder as their imagination brought them to places they had never known existed. Endlessly Yearning Horizon smiled and Wahine noticed him licking his lips as the Maiden spoke and her audience listened in wonder, and occasionally making happy little humming noises like a child sucking on candy.

    At one point, somebody brought out a flute, and there was music, and while he was a little bit clumsy at first, after the first time Pakari lifted someone up and twirled them around over his head he was suddenly the most popular dance partner in the tiny little cave. Grown men and women waited their turn to be spun about as they had not been since they were children, until finally Pakari's head spun and Horizon politely asked him to sit down before he fell over and got another concussion, and took his place among the dancers.

    Eventually, after many tales had been told and the torches were guttering low, and the night had grown cool, everyone finally decided to rest. With grunts and moans of pain forgotten during the telling of tails, they grabbed the bedrolls provided by the Whispering Valley Tribe and found their cots and joined their companions who had already fallen to slumber. Endlessly Yearning Horizon stalked quietly from cot to cot like a concerned hen, occasionally touching two fingers to a sleeping man's neck to check his pulse if his breathing was slow, or pausing as still as a golden statue to listen to breathing or a heartbeat before moving on. As the others drifted into their dreams, Wahine clutched her pittance of iron close, and remembered a cold night under strange stars and the lapping of waves and unearthly music... and could not make herself sleep, try as she might. She pretended to sleep, and listened to Horizon's quiet pacing, and listened to the guards.

    There were two passages out of the grotto, both winding away out of sight into the rough black stone of the mountain. Several times tattooed warriors came in or out and signed to each other. Wahine gathered from glimpses at their hands moving in the dying torchlight that this location seemed secure, but that the dead were out in much greater numbers than usual in the Whispering Valley. Most of the Whispering Valley Tribe had safely been evacuated from the villages during daylight, and now they were safely ensconced behind the heavily warded walls of the Temple of Eyes or the Hall of Singing Stones. A fierce battle was apparently raging at the Village of Stairs, as the permanent wards etched into the stone walls there had cracked during the earthquake. Periodic reports on the fighting came in as the night wore on. Several hours before morning, a report came in that gliders had succeeded in scattering enough salt bombs to disperse and drive off the dead, buying the Village of Stairs enough time to repair the damaged wards.

    Endlessly Yearning Horizon finally approached Wahine and told her in a gentle whisper that Pakari (asleep and snoring gently on a nearby cot) was dreaming frankly delicious dreams about flying and wrestling giant eels and making his aunt an eelskin purse as a present, far tastier than anything Wahine's battered little husk of a soul could manage even if she wasn't all terrified and bitter-tasting, and that he swore on his very Heart he wasn't going to come over and eat any of her soul in her sleep. He asked one of the tattooed warriors to stand on guard next her cot, and wake her if the golden skinned healer so much as approached them. After Horizon left, the guard (a young woman who introduced herself as Kiri) smiled at her and showed her a white jade dagger carved in the shape of a shark, and told her it was carved by an ancestor who named it Dreamslayer because he used it to slay a faerie raider. The dagger had been passed down in her family for six generations, and each successive bearer of the blade had slain one more Raksha than the previous bearer. Kiri grinned cruelly and nodded at Endlessly Yearning Horizon on the other side of the room, and told Wahine she had a legacy to live up to, and she sorta hoped the healer tried to steal her soul in her sleep. It would give her an excuse.

    After that, she slept soundly until sunrise.

    Green Moon Grotto, RY 767, 24th of Ascending Fire, Sunrise

    Morning came with the sound of quiet talking. As the Maiden awoke and sat up, rubbing away sleep, she got smiles and friendly nods from friends she had made the night before.

    "Would you mind waking Wahine?" Endlessly Yearning Horizon asked her, handing her a hot clay bowl full of stewed yams and sweet fruit. "Our, um, prisoners have woken up, and apparently it's time to take you all back to your cat-faced captain. I'd wake her myself, but there's a legend there I'd rather not become a part of."

    "Pakari?" Kune, the tattooed warrior who had taken away the Bearer's bones the night before, spoke to Pakari as he ate his breakfast, feeling much better than he had the previous day. "We're riding out soon on Endlessly Yearning Horizon's flying beast. After we talk to the Maiden's strange friends from her distant land, the plan is to fly north to search the Tomb of the Stone Maw for your master or the Bearer of Bones, and maybe see if we can find the demons' tracks. If the stories are true, it sleeps by day, so we're hoping we can trap it or poison it before it awakes again at sunset. We'd be happy to have you along."

    You have had a good night's rest, tended to by an attentive healer. Pakari, you are fully healed and in good shape again. Wahine, you've had time to heal 2B, but your rib (which is mending really fast and well due to Horizon's expert care) is still sore, especially if you breathe hard or twist or touch it-you've still got 1B on you. Seskan, if you're still with us, your 1L has fully healed and you are feeling much better this morning.
    Last edited by Wise Old Guru; 03-22-2015, 12:24 PM.

    So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

    The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
    -Roger Zelazny


    • #92
      Ah, the Maiden felt bad for having such a joyous night yesterday while her Master is still missing, if they all get back to the mainland alive then she will definitely use all the money that she kept to treat him with a big banquet. The Maiden slowly crawled toward Wahine, it's seem that she and Horizon don't get along very well, why anyone would hate such a charming man like Horizon is a mystery to the Maiden.

      "Miss, morning has came ~", the Maiden shake Wahine's arm gently. She heard one of the warrior mention captain Phi Ho, she should probably think of some responses for the barrage of questions that is about to come from him.

      The no.1 fan of Demetheus. I also draw Exalted things and is looking for commission works ~


      • #93
        "I'd be happy to come along," said Pakari as he set down his spoon. And he was, although he was not sure he could explain why. Consciously, he understood that he could be heading into terrible danger, and he did not feel at all ready to face down any kind of demon. Despite that, it felt good to be doing something - anything - to help. Yesterday, things had spun entirely out of his control, and today he had an opportunity to put things back in order. He would deal with threats as they came to him.

        "What's this flying beast?"

        On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

        Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz


        • #94
          As the night wore on, the confines of the grotto became a little claustrophobic. Even without the presence of the fair folk, she doubted she would have slept too terribly well. She much preferred a hammock stretched between the upper branches of a tree lazily watching the forest below as cool breezes carried all the scents of the island her way. Someplace where she could both admire the heavens and watch her hunting traps or the comings and goings of unassuming people below. It was amazing how infrequently people thought to look 'up' as they hacked noisily through the forest. Gatherings in the most basic sense where almost always sources of discomfort and awkwardness. The fair folk only worsened what was already an uncomfortable situation.

          As she watched the fair folk in the quiet of the night, she could tell that he was examining people's injuries with great care. Whatever his ultimate motives, he seemed genuinely committed to the role of healer and helper. Her heart pounded when he caught her eye following him curiously with a hint of trepidation, turning into a flutter when he knelt beside her to whisper honeyed words that stung deep. She didn't know what to make of his words. Was be trying to be reassuring and comforting in his own odd way or was he trying to pluck at her emotions for his own amusement? Either way, it did hurt her feelings a little that yet another being saw her only as something damaged, incomplete, or lacking. But he at least could objectively see the spiritual scars as clearly as if it where a scar upon her skin. The only solace perhaps was that the fair folk, in an odd bit or irony, was honest about what he saw in her and and what he thought of it. It was more than she could say about most of the people she'd encountered over the years. People rarely took the time to pierce an enigma and almost always filled the silence with their own narratives. The suitors who'd attempted to court her over the years where the worst of all, enamored not with her but the idea they had created of her and attempted to impose upon her. No suitor had ever taken the time to get to know her and none had taken the time to learn the meaning of her signs. It was clear to her that none of them had any desire to communicate more naturally. It would ruin their illusion.

          With a sigh she lay on her back and let her mind wander, thinking of the gods and spirits that inspired her art, of conceptual designs and how she might make them real, of the magnificent foreign ship tempting her just beyond the shore, of all the beautiful goods she could present to entice their willing support, and of all the fine goods they would surely commission once the crisis was over. As she drifted off to sleep, she even managed a smile as she thought of Sarika the Colored One, her muse to whom she always prayed for inspiration and success in her artistic endeavors. It was to her that she often dedicated her most beautiful works. Turning away from the distraction of the world to pour her heart and soul into something beautiful was at times an act of worship in itself. Comforted by the watchful eye of the Whispering Valley tribesmen, she drifted into dreams of treasure found and forged, of magnificent ships and savage seas, of journeys to exotic lands and bartering across the mysterious East.

          She felt a warm hand on her arm as she drifted at the edge of sleep and wake. Reflexively she reached up with a gentle smile, hands as calloused as a hardened sailor taking the maiden's hand as delicately as if she where a flower on the verge of shedding its petals. As wakefulness came to her, she didn't startle. Instead she simply smiled a friendly, wordless 'good morning' as she tightened her grip and pulled herself into a sitting position. Her wounds where healing far faster than she ever thought possible. Despite her misgivings, she wasn't ungrateful for the fair folk's assistance and she gave the creature a nod of acknowledgement as she retrieved her breakfast. Expressing her gratitude further would be redundant. He could surely taste it in the air. For Kiri, she gave a polite bow of her head and signed words of appreciation as she sat with her breakfast and waited for the rest of the day to unfold. She liked Kiri. The woman had spunk.
          Last edited by Foxsimile; 03-24-2015, 11:00 PM.