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  • The Journey South

    It begun when Crystal Amarath received an invitation with Vorshgard's mysterious and reclusive head of state a man known as the Master Shaper. Her relationship to Vorshgard is a complicated one it’s her late father’s homeland and one of the few connections she has to her past but it’s ruling caste the Shaperate are generally not nice people and the man considered the foremost among them is certainly a man to be wary of.

    Part 1: A Night it Redport
    Stormwind Rider is a great way to cover great distances at speed but even then, going from the East to the South can be exhausting. Eager to avoid interest from Realm garrisons they evaded Harborhead and touched down on an island in the Great Lakes region.

    Walking dirt roads and paths for oxen carts they found themselves in Redport a coastal city frequented and partially ran by pirates. As Exalts they knew they were more than capable of defending themselves but somewhat optimistic that they wouldn’t have to if they kept their heads down and travelled towards the money, leading them to an inn simply known as Irsia’s.
    Shortly after arriving they were treated to a zither performance by the lady herself, Irsia is something of a local legend as the Queen of Courtesans and one of Redport’s ruling council. They have dinner, a chance to learn a little more about the region and see about getting rooms for the night so they can travel on to Chiaroscuro in the morning.

    With an empty stage and an open invitation to perform multiple members of the group decide to give it a shot and predictably impress the owner. She's something of an interesting figure herself in local lore since Queen of Courtesans isn't a title that Irsia just gave herself but rather she's a Courtesan who was fortunate enough to marry into royalty and subsequently rejected it for being boring causing a small war when she left her husband for the local of a nearby kingdom. Upon learning that her guests are Exalts who have travelled halfway around the world she's forced to confront the reality that she's being a big fish in a small pond, there's talk about her going to visit Seven Sentinels and in the short-term she's quite eager to show some them that she's worthy of her title.

    While this is going on however Tempest and Nalia are playing a game of cards with a man by the name of Dufrene, who appears to be more than what he seems. for the cards that they’re playing with appear speckled with blood and some point into the game Tempest remembers this same deck of cards from his past. Dufrene admits to having been in Nexus in the past but is otherwise cagey as to his exact nature while Tempest is equally reluctant to let this stranger get under his skin.

    Out of character comparisons are made between Dufrene and the Devil because the whole exchange was so foreboding, but the mystery of who the man was remains unsolved for now but a countdown has started.
    Last edited by Lioness; 08-30-2020, 02:25 PM.


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    • The Journey South

      Our Merry Band of Hangers On-
      This game has many NPCs and here are the five the PCs brought with them to the South, knowing who they are is potentially important in the stories to come.

      Creeping Juniper – Sand Cat totem Changing Moon mate of Joyous Sky, a former circus performer who became a scavenger lord exploring the Dragon King ruins of her homeland of Khamaseen and hasn’t been back there since, this is an opportunity to change that.
      Anise Stormtamer – Owl totem No Moon mate of Shanisara, once a shaman in her Icewalker tribe she’s ended up as the spymaster of Seven Sentinels. She’s got no personal business in the South and is mostly along for the ride with Shani.
      Chorus at Midnight – Moonshadow Caste parasol wielding spymaster, former princess of a country called Thiri that’s on the south western coast. She’s here to support Crystal and hoping to check in on her family from a safe distance.
      Nalia – Western Dawn Caste potential love interest of Tempest, like Anise she’s along for the ride but unlike Anise she’s a staunch abolitionist who will probably ruin everything if the PCs don’t beat her to it.
      Callia Amarath – Crystal’s younger sister, knows the ins and outs of Vorshgard’s society thanks to being raised there by their “aunt” Agrona, has been modified with bat wings to better serve her Shaper.

      Part 2 Onwards to Chiaroscuro
      The group departs from Redport in the morning using the Stormwind Riders to be in the city of Chiaroscuro by nightfall. They use the fact the group contains two Dragon-Blooded to check into some more exclusive accommodations.
      Shanishara explains a little about her homeland’s etiquette before largely leaving them to their own devices for the following day.

      Crystal and Chorus travel through the shadowland where they emerge in the southern underworld that is currently being beset by a giant sandstorm. They are here in search of precious scraps of First Age lore and discover a map that documents a few water stations that were once used to irrigate parts of what is now the Burning Wastes. Barter is relatively easy since they have immediate access to something the dead very much want right now, water because while the dead can’t actually die of thirst the drought brought on by the sandstorm has made their lives rather unpleasant of late.
      Tempest and Nalia go shopping and find a store selling more exotic goods one of which is a tiny Flame Piece that’s been condensed into a ring. While there a Fire Aspected Delzhan man in red attempts to buy Tempest’s sword and challenges him to a duel when he refuses. Tempest is very eager to get out of a duel that might show how strong he really is and with a bit of negotiation with the man gets it to a race through one of the old towers that still has First Age defences.
      Sky and Linarra have an infinitely less eventful shopping trip that’s mostly the Zenith stressing over what gifts to buy for who when they’re trying to travel relatively light.
      Viola takes Nileen on a date that’s intended to help with her fear of big cities, leading her around blindfolded she takes her to one of Chiaroscuro’s tallest towers to survey the city in every direction from a safe vantage point.

      Shanisara sneaks into the Tri-Khan’s harem where she was raised and meets her grandmother Aicha who spends most of her days teaching young women the skills they need to get ahead in society weaving, preparing tea, how to defuse a tense situation. What’s unknown to the Delzhan at large is that this sometimes includes teaching particularly gifted young women the art of assassination the most skilled of whom takes her old title ‘Shanisara’ until they eventually retire into married life.

      Aicha is pleased to see her granddaughter despite knowing she’s Anathema but a little on guard, there’s no chance of Shani meeting her father the Tri-Khan at least on this visit because the Dynasts are still looking for who killed one of their own and if he doesn’t know she was here he’s not an accessory to anything. She agrees to meet Shani and Anise at a place that’s equal parts teashop and woman’s pharmacy.

      Lastly, Juniper and Callia being kind of force multipliers for each other chase down the legend of these creatures called Goshun and bring a pair of the weapon wielding rats back for Crystal to make an offering to the Master Shaper. There’s serious questions raised as to how sentient the Goshun really are and if by stealing a couple they’ve kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest.
      Elsewhere that evening the Goshun to the surface seemingly ready for war, an ominous if slightly ridiculous sight rat soldiers rank up with improvised shields and spears, supported by tiny catapults made from mouse traps and strange wheeled contraptions powered by a pair of Goshun running in circles.
      Last edited by Lioness; 08-30-2020, 02:25 PM.


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      • This road trip has been one hell of an experience for us all.


        “The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.” George Carlin

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        • The Journey South

          Part 3 Leaving Chiaroscuro
          The Goshun are on the hunt and Tempest is eager to get out of his death race.
          Shanisara takes point on this since this is her homeland and meets with the shopkeeper who sold Tempest the flamepiece ring to try and learn the identity of the Dragon-Blooded. The shopkeeper gives the man’s name as Yannis but he’s clearly very worried. Unknown to Shani he’s not worried by the Dragon-Blooded but by rat under his robe wielding a tiny blade to his throat (he and the Goshun have a prior acquaintance and that's where the ring sized flame piece came from).

          Armed with this new information, Shani goes to meet with Aicha again and learns two things. Firstly, that what she knows concerning the Goshun is that dangerous and that kidnapping a couple of them isn’t going to fly with the rest but also that Maryam, a woman Shanisara know from her time in the harem is now married to Yannis. Grandmother and granddaughter part on good terms with the hopes they see each other again.

          The two-part ways on good terms still enough time to prevent the death race and the Goshun causing too much havoc. The latter takes priority as the group ventures deep under the city where they encounter the remains of Old Chiaroscuro with a collection of pipes and dead dragon king vines that once helped pump water all over the South, then to Older Chiaroscuro a place of semi-stilled machinery that serves an unknown purpose.

          They are beset by the Goshun when they crawl through the small passageway to the nest and here, once initial hostiles are smoothed over, they learn more about these strange creatures who communicate through scratching in the walls. The Goshun are unaware of when they came to be or to what extent they are individuals, they seem to exist as a form of hive mind but don’t really understand the situation themselves they’ve tried sending rats further out to see if they form a new colony and a different mind but every time it’s been attempted the rats never returned. An agreement is made to help the Goshun better understand itself/themselves and one of the older white rats of the nest accompanies Crystal.

          After taking some time to get cleaned up Shanisara meets Yannis’ wife Maryam and learns a bit more about Yannis and why he’d do something like this. Essentially Yannis was the Tri-Khan’s bodyguard at a few official events but suffered a dishonour when one of the Realm’s Dragon-Blooded broke his family sword in a duel. Since they got married, she has been helping to temper her husband’s passions.

          Shanisara, realising that a replacement daiklave would fix this mess mentions that she is currently travelling with a couple of Dragon-Blooded whose Great House might be willing to help him out if the end result is one of their rivals getting humbled.

          The meeting with Yannis with Viola playing a Dynastic powerbroker is a little tense in places, he’s still raw from his sword being broken and Tempest is convinced he’ll do something stupid a concern that were he to voice would have the duel back on. Fortunately, Maryam has quite a firm hold on her husband it is her job afterall. When the negotiations are over Tempest’s daiklave Atansis Kohl (which people may recall from back in Relic Hunt is fully sentient) lets him know she stroked Yannis' desire for revenge and made him covert her, she was bored and was hoping for a duel but watching him jump through hoops to avoid one was almost as fun.

          But yes, turns out the daiklave was the villain.
          Last edited by Lioness; 08-30-2020, 02:10 PM.


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          • The Journey South

            Our Merry Band of Hangers On-
            This isn’t the last time the PCs were in Lian and Liham, while their previous visit was brief due to the urgency to stop the man known was Wyne from gaining access to the Loom of Fate there’s a few familiar faces.

            Kanna: Zenith from Shani’s First Age circle, Lu Zhin invited her to Seven Sentinels and was never all that clear what she’d do there. Kanna had a very different leadership style to Joyous Sky due to her personal history as a gladiator and it led to an initial personality clash. Kanna had other personal issues which led to her deciding to stay in the Li cities and preach the word of the Unconquered Sun.
            Marshireen: High Priestess of the Great Maker, memorable in no small part because she’s a pretty albino and was naked when they first met her, here’s where they learn she’s more than a fanservice extra with a name.

            Part 4 Return to Liham and Lian
            Arriving in Liham the PCs head directly to the temple where their old ally Kanna is pleased to see them and explain how she’s been introducing the Unconquered Sun to these people. Since the Li were underground for so long they don’t have much in the way of traditions regarding the sun and when a tribe of Dune People joined them the myths were entirely negative and concerned an “Oppressor Sun”.

            So Kanna’s had to weave her patron back into the mythos as the Champion Sun, a patron of heroes but there’s been some downsides to this. The Li have a strong idea of self-sacrifice for the greater good due to their encounters with subterranean horrors and she’s worried her religion is filling with people who don’t want to live for themselves.
            Once everyone’s reacquainted and had something to eat, they go to the baths which is really more like a communal shower spraying a very fine mist over everyone. It becomes apparent during this that Kanna and Marshireen are now a couple.

            Joyous Sky feels self-conscious that she was the one holding Kanna back upon seeing how happy she is, Kanna’s not worried about it and says she wouldn’t have made the most of an opportunity like this before coming to Seven Sentinels. Crystal takes this opportunity to mention the map she acquired from Chiaroscuro’s Underworld and it turns out that Liham and Lian are only a few miles away from one of the old water stations that was constructed during the First Age.

            As a group They decide to head down to Lian in the morning and put together a tunnel guard expedition supported by the rather large group of Exalts to find the station or at least some of its old water pipes that can be syphoned for their purposes.

            This is their first real look at the main cavern of Lian where they waited out the Great Contagion rather than its various outposts that they saw last time and they’re impressed by how the settlement is gathered around a device called the fungal moon a collection of what bio-luminescent fungi they’ve been able to find down here gathered up so that it shines its cold green light down into the cavern and prevent them working in total darkness.

            Marshireen takes the time to explain that she’s originally from Lian, her mother was part of the Dune Person tribe who broke with their ancient tradition of self-determination to abandon their nocturnal existence and live underground with the Li. Her death kind of broke the family, her brother moved more towards an approximation of Dune Person traditions while she followed, the paths of the Li faith in the Great Maker and became a major player in reclaiming the surface.

            Kanna reveals she's gained a military rank in the tunnel guard while helping them fight off various Darkbrood incursions and invites the group to help put together a plan to converse several subterranean miles and determine the status of the water station.
            Last edited by Lioness; 08-31-2020, 09:19 AM.


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            • Journey to the South

              Part 5 A Journey through the Dark
              With a team of eight tunnel guard, Kanna and Marshireen the PCs advance into the tunnels looking for signs of underground water that could clue them into the location of the pumping station.
              After a long trek through the dark they find themselves near an underground lake with a half-submerged mechanism that’s gotten Juniper’s attention. It transpires that nobody in the group is completely sure how they got here. Kanna immediately recognises the threat as Cephalids, beings capable of disorientating their foes with powerful mental attacks.
              The coven of them is led by three leaders The Whisperer whose powers sew confusion and discord, The Weaver with its alien magics comparable to sorcery and the worst of them all The Brewer who performs a kind of sympathetic magic with a preserved human brain that caresses with tentacled fingers to cause sudden heat and spikes in the pressure in people’s skulls.
              The Cephalids were ultimately defeated without loss of human life (though a few injuries, it came a bit close) a two-part combo between Linarra and Juniper put the last of the Cephalids out of commission by hitting them with a tidal wave from the lake before flash freezing all water in the immediate area with a spell.

              Despite the ambush, all this water had to come from somewhere and they proceeded to trace their way through several damp caves until finally they reached the water station. They arrived to find it somewhat functional, the station was essentially a techno-sorcerous construction it moved fluid through pipes and tubes that weren’t in the best of shape but the stone at the core of the station drew water towards it ensuring that even if the overall system failed the individual units would still be able to provide water for the settlements they were connected to.
              Unfortunately, this failsafe being active all this time this station and others like it might have contributed to the overall desolation of the region since water is being horded by ancient technology for the benefit of settlements that no longer exist.

              There is a fight with a few service automata that were designed to be self-replicating but may have gone a little off mission, as for whatever reason they stripped non-essential metal from the station to build more of themselves. It is possible that this was in response to some threat like the Cephalids or maybe they were not meant to be left alone this long. However, the real discovery is when they get to the top of the station and discover an old outpost. The group is generally relieved to be above ground and realising that their best option with the water station is to have it bring the water directly upwards to help turn the station into an above ground oasis under Li control.

              People decide to rest now that they are above ground and able to enjoy some modicum of safety but one of the tunnel guard spots movement of the doors. Tempest downplays the situation but insists on guarding the door because he wants the tunnel guard out of harm’s way. It is fortunate that Joyous Sky joins him as the being that emerges is a Susurrus, a tortured amalgamation of ghosts that the Zenith ghost hunter has only heard stories about.

              The day after there is an expedition to find where the Susurrus came from, fearing the outpost might be above a Shadowland. The answer was a different kind of horrible when they discovered a set of tools designed for soul mutilation. Though at least with that out the way, all that was left to do was to turn on the water and go swimming in the newly forming lake. There was some reflection on the fact that Kanna wasn’t coming back and that this is her home now, but on the upside, she can at least visit Seven Sentinels whenever she gets a break from helping with the new settlement.

              Finally, Tempest gave a sermon on behalf of Kanna about what heroism meant to him to help deter her followers from the path of self-sacrifice. It should be Vorshgard next, but Chorus has another destination before that.


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              • Tempest has actually been struggling a lot in these storylines.

                He was pretty unsatisfied with the ending of Relic Hunt; He got extremely excited when he found a Solar that looked like he could test himself against, but the end result, where the group all teamed up on him, made him reflexively hold back because he realized it wasn't going to be a fair fight- a lot of his intimacies and what he cares about are things like fair fights where the combatants are equal, and he often finds himself disappointed by things he thought could put up a fight-. He put trust in himself to be able to stop Wyne from whatever he was planning, but when Wyne killed the Solar when he was distracted, he blamed himself pretty severely. The ghosts dispersing at the end of Relic Hunt actually happened because Tempest got so frustrated he screamed them back into the ground. His interactions with Suzu continued to stress him out; it's in his nature to be concerned about himself fucking things up, it's why he's unwilling to intervene in situations unless he thinks it's reached a big enough 'issue', so his immediate concern when he got out was a concern that he could have prevented or delayed Suzu's awakening by messing with the trial she was going through. That no one really has an answer is difficult to him, because him attempting to open up to people also makes him feel like he's being emotionally unfaithful, and he's naturally the kind of person who puts up walls around himself to hide who he is, but even people like that sometimes do need to be honest about who they are, which Tempest doesn't have right now. He also made a pass at Artashakthra; he finds a lot of similarities between himself and the dragonblooded matriarch in a way that makes it difficult for him to stay away from her when given the chance, but she shut him down extremely hard, which was probably for his own benefit in multiple ways. Tempest's own thorny and confusing relationships would only be further entangled had the Matriarch responded in any positive way, but she seems totally unaware both of how strong he is (because he's always hiding it) and how much she could probably get away with if she played into his emotional state.

                The trip to the South has made him more frustrated; he would have enjoyed dueling the Fire Aspect, but other members of the party had requested keeping a low profile, so he was desperate to avoid it. When he brought up it happened, some of the other PCs actually got mad at him for being challenged to a duel when he didn't really understand why this had happened (His first instinct was to try and figure out what had caused the Fire Aspect to really want Atansis, because it seemed to have come out of nowhere), which continued to stress him out. He's also having trouble dealing with Nalia; she's a trauma victim and he's scared that the way he puts up barriers and puts on a show makes things difficult for her, but he's also not willing to just outright stop, because he doesn't want to infantilaize her or make his relationship with her entirely about her trauma, but both are worried about how their relationship is progressing given each of their tangled nets and barbs of feelings and relationships. His difficulty in navigating the relationship has been straining at him without anyone to talk to about it, because he doesn't want Nalia to think she's second class to him, but he wants to protect the relationships he already has.

                The reason he gave that sermon despite the fact he's not actually that good in dealing with large groups of people and much better in one on one situations, is because Sky had been asked to do it and she declined, and the trip through the underground made him realize if someone didn't try to push the worshipers away from heroic self-sacrifice as a primary virtue they'd end up with a religion of death cultists who only thought of dying in battle to live up to the Sun, and Tempest wanted to make them understand that there are more ways to be a hero then just dying gloriously in combat, so he decided that if Sky didn't want to, he'd do it himself. He was actually really embarrassed about doing it (I was too, as his player, tbqh)

                As stuff happens later on that hasn't been talked about yet, Tempest is continuing to get stressed out, and his limit track is rising fairly consistently, so it seems it's more likely a 'when' he explodes, not 'if', and what's going to happen when he does.

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                • ​Journey to the South

                  Shapers and the Shaperate: The scholar elite of Vorshgard and the ruling class of The Domination are the Shapers, men and women feared and respected for their ability to create exotic hybrids and terrifying weapon beasts. However, they are neither sorcerers nor thaumaturges but instead have generations of observations on Vorshgard’s wyld pocket and introduce specific variables to the mutation process like how a cook experiments with different recipes. The Domination is primarily geared towards supplying the Shapers with necessary raw materials and maintaining not only their quality of life but a sense of continual progress.

                  As one might expect, the culture of such a group tends towards being extremely callous. Really, anyone who calls their little empire The Domination is kind of bad news.


                  Part 6 Solitude
                  Chorus led them into the Domination but not Vorshgard itself, rather like the Li most of the cultures in this region are semi-subterranean due to the harsh weather conditions and Solitude is no exception to this.

                  From a distance it looks like a mountain but in actuality it was once a series of crypts marked by giant statues, over time or by design these have been partially buried and fused together with sandstone to create a bulwark against the elements. From within the individual layers of Solitude were created from spider web like layers of incredibly strong capable of supporting the various shops and walkways that people use to get around.

                  As impressive as the engineering is, most of the group is not entirely sure why they are here but is following Chorus’ lead them underground to meet her contact Eira, a writer who collects oral histories in this case she has been paid handsomely by Chorus to learn what she can about two people, namely Crystal and Callia’s parents.

                  Eira’s research gives them a more complete breakdown of their mother’s known history, it seems that at one-point Vorshgard attempted to mine under Solitude and after being injured by falling rock she gained a level of insight into future events. At some point she met their father, a representative of Vorshgard’s Shaperate and there they became ringleaders of the Solitude Rebellion that ended in both their deaths but is seen by the locals as something of a victory because it made mining Solitude no longer viable.

                  The historians greatest offering is two composite sketches of Crystal’s parents made from interviewing the surviving rebellion sympathisers, Eira has also heard rumours that their mother maintained some kind of sanctum within the abandoned mine a place where the locals and Vorshgard’s soldiers stay away from because of loose rocks and the generally inauspicious nature of the caves beneath the city that are said to go down forever.

                  Thanking her they go to check it out, they discover a clue in Solitude’s graveyard or rather a clue has been waiting for them. They each have a marker down here, almost like someone was waiting for them to discover them. In their false graves, Crystal and Callia were each left a message from their mother who towards the end of her rebellion was aware that the possibilities were closing in on her but she’s left them a special compass to guide the way to her old sanctum.

                  The caves are not easy to traverse but they find what the compass is being drawn to when it flies out of Callia’s hand and becomes stuck to it, a great quantity of metal that crackles at the mere touch. This was his final work, a metal called Levinium that was intended to arm a rebellion against the Domination. Callia’s a bit overcome by all of this, she was raised by her father’s former mentor Agrona in Vorshgard and came to see her mother as something of a bad influence on her father made easier by the fact that her older sister had been their heir to all that strangeness with Kanika and resolves to see the Domination fall.


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