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[IC] [Exalted 2.5] The Scarlet Sky Conspiracy – An Epistolary Game

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  • [IC] [Exalted 2.5] The Scarlet Sky Conspiracy – An Epistolary Game

    “Are you sure you want to do this?” Nellens Ryo asks. The short rotund man sits across from you in this stuffy windowless room. Ryo reminds you of the thousands of mortal bureaucrats who make their way in the Imperial City instead of the vicious Anathema described by the Immaculate Texts. Ryo adjust his wireframe glasses with his ink stained fingers. He leans forward and waits for your response.

    You say nothing, but hold your hand across the rickety wooden table. Now was not the time for doubt. Ryo places a small scroll of parchment, no larger than your pinky, in your hand. You take a moment of finger the fine grain of the paper and unroll the scroll. The oath is short, but artfully scribed in Ryo’s fine handwriting. “Am I the first?” you ask. No other names appear on the scroll.

    “No,” Ryo grinds a stick of black ink on to the inkstone. “The other names will appear after you sign and the oath is sanctified.” He offers you the brush.

    You hesitate. Up until this point, everything you have done could be undone. Now, after this oath, there will be no turning back.

    When you hesitate, Ryo’s eyes dart at the door. “I have as much, if not more to lose by participating in this conspiracy.” Ryo reminds you. You did as much research as you could on this “mortal” Dynast. He has risen far in the past few years until he was appointed to the Imperial Court itself. He attends services at the local Immaculate Temple. Ryo is married and has two young daughters.

    Before you could second guess yourself, you sign. You watch as your ink dries and disappears into the scroll. You make to hand back the scroll, but Ryo stops you. “You keep it. Everyone has their own copy. Do not lose it.”

    Ryo takes a deep breath and steels himself for what comes next. He holds out his hand for you to take. His hand is cold despite the stuffy room. “Read the oath.”

    We are bound by this oath until the Blood of the Dragons sits again upon the Scarlet Throne.

    We are knowingly committing heresy by associating with allies forbidden by the Immaculate Order.

    No conspirator shall call the Wyld Hunt on any member of the conspiracy.

    For the Wyld Hunt’s days are numbered and one day we all shall walk free under Scarlet Skies.

    This I swear by the Dragons of the Earth and the Incarnae in the Sky.

    Ryo’s hand warms as you read the oath. When you finish the oath, the mark of the Deceiver, no Eclipse, glistens on his brow. Ryo sits taller; his unease burnt away like dew in the morning sun. You glance down at the scroll and see the names of your other conspirators.

    Nellens Ryo

    Cathak Titus

    Mnemon Aisa

    Ferem Quelaana

    Whispering Twilight

    Ledall Catala Akashan

    Contarini Carmela

    The Oath gives you security, confidence in this group. Unless they wish to incur the wrath of Heaven, no one will break the conspiracy's trust.

    Ryo squeeze your hand and gives you a warm smile. “Welcome to the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy.”
    Last edited by wonderandawe; 11-17-2016, 08:56 PM.

    I write things.

  • #3
    The Third Day of Ascending Air, RY 767
    Imperial City, Blessed Isle

    Dear friends,

    I hope everyone had a wonderful Calibration. Mine was thankfully quiet, besides the fact a stray kitten that found her way into our kitchen. Shu, my youngest daughter, has taken a liking to the kitten and named her Shogun.

    The letter will go on to describe the antics of Shogun the kitten. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

    Though many of you already know me, the rest of you are strangers to each other. Since we are about to embark a dangerous venture, introductions are in order. My name is Nellens Ryo. I always had a good head for numbers, thus my family sent me to the Spiral. I graduated near the top of my class, ahead of the less motivated Dragonblooded students.

    In hindsight, perhaps my pride in my academic achievements lead to my present predicament. Alas, even after seven years, I still have mixed feelings about my Exaltation. Though I no longer believe myself to be on the verge of demonic possession, I worry about my family if my Exaltation as an Eclipse was discovered. Escaping to the threshold is not an option, since I have responsibilities here. I console myself with the fact I have managed to stay hidden for many years, the past year in the Imperial Court itself.

    This is why I brought you all into the conspiracy. I no longer hold out hope that the Scarlet Empress will return to clean out the corruption in the Imperial City. After a year of watching the incompetence of Tepet Fokuf, I wish for the fate of the Scarlet Throne to be settled once and for all. Do not worry, I have no interest in taking the throne for myself. My goal in instead to support the candidate that will end the Wyld Hunt and change Immaculate Doctrine. There is so much I can do for the Realm, yet I must hide my abilities for fear of the Wyld Hunt.

    Yet there are some things I can accomplish in spite of my limitations. I am the chief auditor of Accounts at the Imperial Court. A very tedious position, but I have complete access to all the financial documentation. As my father-in-law always says, “Follow the money” and I have discovered some interesting goings-on in the past year. In addition, I hear all sorts of rumors and gossip at the Imperial Court, which I can pass along to you.

    The Imperial Court was tense before the Calibration Break. I can’t put my finger on it, but the pall of grief lingered in the air. Similar to my old accounting office on the Jade Coast after it was announced the Scarlet Empress was missing. The Imperial Court will reconvene in a few weeks and I managed to get a seat in the viewing gallery of the Deliberate. I spent most of my time avoiding that place, but for the good of the conspiracy, I will brave that mad house. Titus says I will find myself entranced by the proceedings, but I doubt I will find anything fascinating among the gallery of fools.

    May your new year be the start of many opportunities.

    Nellens Ryo
    Last edited by wonderandawe; 11-04-2016, 02:05 PM.

    I write things.


    • #4
      The Seventh Day of Ascending Air, RY 767
      Cherak, North

      Salutations compatriots,
      (A less impressive cipher than Ryo’s is used because it’s not supernatural)
      Fear not, for I am Ferem Quelaana, Troupe master of the Shining Heavens Theatre. I, am also a practitioner of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan, and as you know I have ties to the magistracy which will help us keep an eye on other big players.

      I am currently in my home city of Cherak setting up for my next big performance, I’d invite you all but you seem just so busy, I wouldn’t want to guilt rid any of my friends. But on a more serious note I am helping this adventure for Cherak needs to have a voice, a real voice. Cherak is Realm and it seems criminal to ignore the Blessed isle’s first defense against so many shadow lands and Dragons forbid Deathlords.

      In the inevitable Civil War I aim to rectify the Slave Coast debacle and ally with Inara to create a proper legion in the north. Such a legion would owe loyalty to our conspiracy and incidentally wound Cynis’ Economic power, who I doubt would back such a noble underdog. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and be able to deal with the Bull in one way or another?

      Ferem Quelaana

      P.S. Just so everyone knows, I aim to scout out Roseblack since she is in such close proximity to me.

      (Microsoft word made this look bigger than it is)


      • #5
        The Seventh Day of Ascending Air, RY 767
        The Heptagram, Blessed Isle

        Dear Nellens Ryo,

        I had a wonderful time meeting your wife and children, and I hope you will not take it amiss if I keep in regular correspondence. Please say hello to them for me. My calibration was anything but quiet - I arrived at the Heptagram on the very last day, and was greeted... enthusiastically... by several of my friends who have not yet graduated.

        (The letter fondly describes the antics of V'Neef Iphen, who is considerably more energetic than a kitten. Aisa seems to love flowery language. The true contents are as follows.)

        First of all, I wish to thank you all for the immense faith you have shown to put your lives on the line by joining this conspiracy. It is my earnest hope that I will be able to live up to your trust. I beg your indulgence if I repeat information already known, but allow me to introduce myself for the benefit of those I have not had the pleasure of meeting.

        I am Mnemon Aisa, Air aspect. My mother is Mnemon Myrel. My grandmother is Mnemon. My great grandmother is the Scarlet Empress. I exalted at the age of 10 years and five months, a mere 8 months older than V'Neef herself. I graduated the Heptagram at the top of my class. I am currently unmarried, and considered one of the most eligible and desirable women in the Realm.

        I say these things not as a boast, but because they are true, and because they are relevant, and it is important that we know where we stand. For all of the advantages listed above, I am not a serious political player yet - few people owe me favors, and even fewer consider that I'm powerful enough to grant favors myself. I must prove myself to the Realm as a whole, but before that, I feel I must prove myself to you.
        1. I am not disliked, and there have not been decades or centuries of distrust surrounding my person. I have no notable enemies, and no ugly rumors. There is no one who would rather see the Realm torn apart rather than see me sit on the throne.
        2. I am young. This may not seem like an advantage at first, but consider - the reason Fokuf sits as regent is because no one fears him. The elders and the Great Houses will feel the same about me - though a disadvantage in some ways, my youth is less likely to stir opposition than age and strength would be. Remember, the Scarlet Empress was barely older than I am now when she seized control.
        3. My bloodline and social standing is impeccable. To those not raised in the Realm - as several of you have not been - this may seem like a minor matter, but I assure you it is not. Doors are open to me at a touch that would not budge for Tepet Ejava, no matter how worthy she may be.

        If the Scarlet Empress returns, I will not place myself in conflict at odds with her, and I continue to hope for such a joyous event. Failing that, Mnemon would make the best Empress. This I say without uncertainty, having lived in her shadow all of my short life. She deserves it. However, she must not be allowed to let this fact drag the Great Houses into open conflict. I have the greatest respect for Grandmother, but none the less, I have placed myself in your hands for that reason. The Realm must not go to war with itself - this would be a disaster not only for the Dynasty, but also for Creation as a whole.

        On a more practical level, I bring sorcerous talents to the conspiracy. I am a guest instructor at the Heptagram, and well liked by many of the students, extending my ability to deliver sorcery beyond my own person, including the foremost library in all of Creation. Many in the Realm do not take proper precautions against immaterial beings.*
        *Did you see who delivered this letter? Did you check if my elemental was still here, watching you read? Ai'Zul is quite friendly, and has ensured there are no other spirits present, but please consider doing so yourself in the future. If you do not know how, let me know and I shall send a watcher to keep your secrets secret.
        I am also one of Mnemon's agents - I have admired her my whole life, and it was only natural that she should recruit me when I returned from my travels in the threshold. I am currently awaiting my first assignment from her. I hope this connection will give me insight into her plans, as well as the ability to thwart them if circumstances should make it necessary.

        -- Mnemon Aisa
        Last edited by BlueWinds; 11-04-2016, 06:30 PM.


        • #6
          The Seventh Day of Ascending Air, RY 767
          Arjuf, South

          Dear Readers,

          I must impress upon you the interesting features of the typical plants that surround us in our daily lives…

          The letter will go on to describe the quite boring features of the Realm`s most common plants. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

          I go by the name Whispering Twilight these days as my original name is unfortunately on the Wyld Hunt`s list of Anathema still at large. I am currently residing outside of Arjuf, in the encampment of the 12th Legion. The life in a camp of soldiers in peace time is quite enjoyable especially as my arrangement with my friend leaves me with plenty of spare time and a small apartment in Arjuf I can utilize when I need privacy for certain aspects of my undertakings. I am writing this while viewing the commercial bustle in the great market of Arjuf from my favorite restaurant. If anyone would want to acquire some rare good, do not hesitate in asking me, it seems this market holds almost whatever one desires.

          Currently I am serving as the manservant of a good friend, a most promising officer, who is supportive of a change in Realm leadership and friendly towards other exalts, in the 12th legion with close ties to the general.

          I joined this effort because the dangers facing creation cannot be defeated without the realm and the realm cannot succeed if it is to battle both Lunars and Solars while also facing the true enemies of creation. The need for a regime change is of utmost importance.

          As our dear accountant, I am also a solar exalted, one of the Unclean ones as the immaculate faith so fondly has named us. In fact, I guess I live up to that reputation in one way. My forte within sorcery is namely the dealings with demons and especially the summoning of them. My lack of access to sorcerous knowledge have so far hampered my study of other areas, but my mastery within sorcery has still reached an advanced stage as I have mastered the celestial circle.

          It has been a busy calibration as usual. It is an exquisite time to stock up on useful tools. My trunk`s assortment of tools grows and holds now a solid array of handy solutions to many problems.

          My posting in the 12th legion is the first step of many in securing one or more legions that will serve our purposes when the time comes for such measures. I will be working with my close friend and ally on this and on securing influence and insight into the great house Ledaal who`s seat of power is here in Arjuf.

          The bureaucracy of the Wyld Hunt and the House of Bells is also located nearby and I think both places should be dealt with in different ways on our path to transforming the Realm. If anyone have any suggestions for them, do share them.

          Stay safe and vigilant, the times are treacherous.

          Until next time.


          • #7
            The Seventh Day of Ascending Air, RY 767
            Danaa'd's Breath Bathhouse, Pahua Basin, Blessed Isle

            Friendos! Check out what I wrote. It's a poem... about poems.

            Let's have a look at this poem. Here it is, going down. You can tell it's a poem because it's swimming in a little pool of white space. That shows it's a poem. All the calligraphy on all sides has drawn back. The words are making room, they're saying, Rumble, rumble, stand back now, this is going to be good.

            [Many, many lines of particularly atrocious metafictional free verse follow. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:]


            I'm the goddamned Carmela Contarini! I'm the hottest dragon in the southern isles, and people tell me I'm pretty, too. Being neither an Immaculate believer nor a Realmster, I am committing neither heresy nor treason for associating with you. which makes me a paragon of integrity and trustworthiness the likes of which have ne'er been seen by mortal eyes.

            So let's talk about what I can do for you.

            My great-grandfather is the Patriarch of Contarini, a merchant house of the Threshold and the proud home of many dragon-bloods. Well. I say 'many' but by your standards we're closer to House V'Neef than a House Mnemon. We are not Realmsters but we do a fair bit of trade with them (possibly we, being of superior draconic stock, are more palatable to deal with than the Guild, so we get nice deals). As a mercantile neutral party, this puts me in a good position to procure or smuggle in things that are needed for our nefarious plans, from cinnamon to arsenic. No slaves, though. The paperwork is killer.

            Speaking of, I've had a very lucrative mercenary career so far, and several profitable ventures that other people take care of but I get to collect on. I have the dosh of a Dynast and none of the oversight. If you need it and it costs less than an actual estate or prefecture of your own, I can get it for you. That's especially relevant for those of you who might get audited.

            My father is an exiled member of House Iselsi (keep that under your hat, would you?), so I know a fair bit about how the Realm works. Not many of his old contacts are willing to openly treat with me because, well, that's just a bad idea. But they're a bunch of sneaky fucks, and they get shit done.

            I recieve about a dozen suitors every day. The fact that House Contarini makes a merry sport of poaching lost eggs and cast-off Realmsters for its own (and thus has a bloodline that would be considered "pretty good" in these parts) is something of an open secret. Thus, a number of of patrician families feel I could bring their star into the ascendant. Also, unlike a lot of Dragons around here, I don't turn up my nose at them. It's part of my charm! Their constant bidding for my favor could be useful someday, maybe?

            I have both punched a Solar in the face so hard his head spun and slept with one. In a shocking twist for a story that starts like that, it wasn't actually the same Solar!

            I'm a hop, a skip, a jump and a good hearty boat ride away from Chanos if I really want to mix it up; I've made the acquaintance of some of the Dragons and gatekeepers that normally reside there, and there are rumblings that it's going to be a bastion of support for the Roseblack, but I don't know how true they are. Out here is WAY nicer, though. Dad talks sometimes about 'plucking the dragon lines' where the really good stuff going on in a place is found elsewhere. That sounds like a GREAT excuse to hang out on the beach instead of traipsing around in the cities.

            So now let's talk about what you can do for me.

            Some sweet imperial monopolies for Contarini wouldn't hurt. I'm not actually asking to become an Imperial House because I'm 99% certain there are some logistical hurdles to the usual means of establishing us as one, which would be Aisa filling my womb with as many babies as it can hold. But even something like exclusive rights to the wine trade along the Yellow River would be a nice little boon to show good will.

            The new Empress has to knock off the persecution of Iselsi. Welcome back some of the exiles. Not right away, that would be suicide. But it needs to happen, or else a bunch of your best talent is going to fuck off to the Threshold and not come back. In the short-term, that means our little conspiracy should help to shelter them where they can. You'll be repaid for that aid; they're good for it.

            The new Empress is going to need new people, again, probably from the Threshold. New blood to refresh those stagnant bloodlines. I sympathize with Aisa's position, not wanting to see her homeland torn apart and set on fire. But from an outsider's perspective, seems like a lot of the grievances her people have against each other won't - and CAN'T - be settled through discussion and compromise, but will be settled with iron and blood. Scarley seems to have cultivated it. Woman thought she was going to live forever.

            No one lives forever. So there's the last thing I want. Don't assume you're going to live forever. If we ever get a whiff of power, we need a plan so shit like this doesn't happen again.

            Carmela Contarini
            Last edited by Guancyto; 11-06-2016, 01:16 PM.


            • #8
              Ascending Air 17, 767
              Imperial City, Blessed Isle

              The Following letter talks about Titus’ success in the Gateway Rankings. But here is what it actually says:

              My name is Cathak Titus. I am an assistant judicial advocate in the Realm’s Legions. I make sure the Legion’s officers are not breaking any rules and causing trouble. Also, “Other Duties as Necessary” with is shit. Never accept a job that has that in its description.

              Aisa, I would not worry about the Scarlet Empress returning. Some associates of mine searched all over Creation for the woman. Not one trace of her found and they were very through. We’ll probably find her corpse in the Imperial Manse if someone ever cracks that nut.

              Ryo mentioned the uneasy mood in the Imperial Court. I can shine some light illuminate the cause of this mood. An old man collapsed in court before Calibration. He was in a coma for a few days and died without waking. The cause of death was old age, so no foul play involved. To be honest, I’m surprised the Court even noticed his death. I cannot tell you much about this man, but his death causes me to fear for the future of not only the Realm but all of Creation.

              You won’t be hearing too much from me. I travel a lot with my work and will pass along any information I gain to Ryo. He has a better way with words. Even now, he is looking over my shoulder shouting “Eloquent! Use the word Eloquent!”

              He may be Eloquent with his big Spiral Education. Too bad they didn’t teach him to play Gateway properly.


              P.S. I’m glad Carmela around to keep all these Solars in line. Gods know they are a handful.

              I write things.


              • #9
                The First Day of Resplendent Air, RY 767
                Imperial City, Blessed Isle

                Dear friends,

                After a warm Calibration, the weather has finally turned cool. I've gone on long walks to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. The few times my children have accomplice me, they bundled up in their heaviest furs. I tell them that winters in the Imperial City are warmer than the rest of the Isle. We have not had snow since before Zara, my oldest daughter, was born. Yet they still complain. Perhaps a visit North will make them appreciate the Blessed Isle's temperate climate.

                The letter will go on to describe winter in the Imperial City. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

                I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you wrote me back! I will admit I had some doubts, but Titus said I was being an idiot. Of course, you will write back. I once again thank you for your support. I have hope that one day I will be able to sit in a teahouse without the fear of the Wyld Hunt.

                And now I have yet another reason to see Mnemon Aisa on the throne. In the month since Calibration, V’neef has be busy trying to get into the Imperial Manse. The requisitions for her exotic materials could fill an entire file room. Justification for all these requests is “Defense of the Realm”. Yet, it is common knowledge V’neef only wants the Imperial Manse for her own gain.

                For obvious reasons, I try to avoid any interest in the Imperial Manse. However, when V’neef’s request for slaves came across my desk, I had an excuse to investigate. I find slavery a despicable institution. According to the Thousand Scales Code, all requisitions for slaves must include upkeep. If you bring slaves into the Imperial City, you must provide them with room and board. V’neef’s requisition did not and was flagged for audit. I denied the requisition and sent it back. I told my assistant to expect V’neef’s supply officer sometime in the next couple of days. An agreeable sort, I knew we could come to some sort of understanding.

                After lunch, when my assistant told me V’neef not her supply officer, was in my office, I knew I was in trouble. At first, I hid behind the Thousand Scales’ convoluted procedures. The code was clear in this situation. No one, not even the Scarlet Empress’ youngest daughter, can defy the Thousand Scales. V’neef shrugged and ordered me to make an exception. The slaves will not be in the Imperial City for long, she explained. I searched though her paperwork and said I did not see a travel permit for the slaves.

                “The slaves will not be going anywhere.”

                I was still confused. “You said the slaves will not be in the Imperial City for long.”

                “Both those statements are true.”

                While I am intimately familiar with the impenetrable maze of the Thousand Scales, I am not a student of the occult. It did not occur to me Human Sacrifice was the fate of these slaves. If it did, I would have been better prepared for this meeting. I would not be sitting in my own office, blood boiling with the injustice of the situation. Prisoners of war, indentured apprenticeship, and simple bad luck. There were many reasons why one could become a slave. While technically legal, no slave deserves to die at a sacrificial altar.

                I am ashamed to say, I lost my temper when V’neef lectured me on interfering with the affairs of the Dragons. I quoted the Immaculate Texts at her. A Dragonblooded has a responsibility to her people. To murder these people for power was unacceptable behavior.

                “If you do not approve this requisition, I will replace these slaves with you and everyone you have ever known.” V’neef said this without emotion. As if she asked to borrow my ink well. The Dragonblooded Dynast slid the requisition towards me.

                I remembered myself, my position both as mortal agent of the Thousand Scales and as a hidden Anathema. I could see my youngest daughter on a sacrificial table. With a shaking hand, I stamped V’neef’s request and sentenced fifty people to their deaths.

                Once V’neef left my office, I set to work delaying her requisition in ways that could not be traced back to me. Titus and I are working on a more permanent solution.

                V’neef is no longer filing requisitions for materials. We need to know where she is getting her supplies from and put a stop to this. I cannot show much interest in this matter after my encounter with V’neef, but I will do what I can.

                Quelaana’s plan to get in close with the Roseblack is a good one. An assassination attempt would be easy to arrange in the Threshold. A Northern Winter is hard on a Legion, thus leaving her vulnerable to the Bull of the North. I do not think House Tepet could survive another blow by the Barbarian Anathema.

                We need Tepet Ejava alive to occupy Mnemon. I have heard rumors in court of a plot to keep Roseblack away from the Isle. I tried to track down who sent the orders, but hit a dead end. We need to figure out who conspired to send her North. And how. I doubt someone walked into the legion offices and politely requested to send a potential Empress to the Icy Wastes.

                Mnemon has been taking advantage of the Roseblack’s absence. Since the start of the year, Cathak Cainan has visited various house heads. Rumor is he asking their opinion on who should sit on the Scarlet Throne. Mnemon has set up a meeting with the Old Dragon. It took me a bit of digging, but the meeting will be held at the Heptagram this month.

                Together, I believe we can take advantage of these situations. I will focus on keeping V'neef from breaking into the Imperial Manse.

                May you find a warm welcome wherever you may be.

                Nellens Ryo

                P.S. Aisa, Zara would like to ask permission to write you. Your stories of the Heptagram entranced her and now she dreams of going there herself. At fourteen, she is of age to receive the Dragon’s blessing. I try to warn her not to put all her hopes on the Exaltation as her mother did. I am discovering that my words do not carry as much weight with her as they once did. It is a difficult balance between supporting your children's dreams and advising caution.

                1 Success Integrity Roll for keeping temper

                12 Successes Indolent Official Charm Roll The difficulty for this roll was four. I may have went a bit overboard. :P

                Last edited by wonderandawe; 11-11-2016, 04:38 PM.

                I write things.


                • #10
                  The Second Day of Resplendent Air, RY 767
                  Imperial City, Blessed Isle

                  Ryo is an idiot. It wasn't V'neef, but V'neef Bijar, one of her daughters who plans to kill all these slaves.

                  Dragons, man. Learn to keep your Dragonblooded straight.

                  Last edited by wonderandawe; 11-13-2016, 01:20 PM.

                  I write things.


                  • #11
                    Being the 5th Day of Air, Resplendent, Year of Our Realm 767
                    Dragonsmouth, Scarlet Prefecture, Blessed Isle

                    My most sincere apologies for the lateness of this letter. By way of explanation, though not of excuse, I can only offer an indictment of the state of travel between the Imperial Mountain and the coast in this sorrowful age of ours.

                    Regarding the fragmentary text recovered 19 Air, Ascending,
                    "Certainty is for Clockwork Logicians and Patricians of vibrant mascara who wear it on their sleeve."...

                    What follows is a brief statement that the phrase is nonsense. However, when the cipher is applied to the quoted text it produces a longer result. Repeated multiple times, it is revealed that the entire letter was compressed into that single sentence. Someone may be showing off.

                    No doubt an account of me at once less abridged and more entertaining can be found at your nearest house of salacious gossip. Being constrained by the limitations of a letter, know then that I am Ledaal Akashan. It is my honor to serve as the most junior member of the highest councils of my House, chief analyst in the archaeological investigations of the Catala family, First Artificer of Ledaal, and formerly as an adviser and sorcerer-engineer of the Realm for Her Most Highly Exalted Majesty. For what little it adds after such a litany, I also received the Dragon's Breath but 108 days older than my cousin Kes, am a certified graduate of the Heptogram, and command an earning power so great that I am individually listed on House Ledaal's condensed chart of accounts with the satrapies. You will have to forgive me if I take somewhat less pride in these than my various cousins do. (As a personal request, I would greatly appreciate if Whispering Twilight could refrain from causing overmuch trouble in the ancestral seat of my House. Whatever their failings, most dyansts and patricians there are my family and excessive reductions in their fortunes or influence could make my own position far more tenuous).

                    I write you from Dragonsmouth, here to meet a shipment from my sister marked as particularly aligned with my personal interests. However, I expect to soon be recalled to the Imperial City, at least temporarily, given a number of requests from House V'neef to discuss employing the savants of Ledaal for some project or another. My familiarity with such matters means I am often called to negotiate the prices of these services and must personally perform the most challenging tasks myself. Should the trip prove to be temporary I am well placed here at the gateway to the Imperial City to intercept many of the more interesting flows of goods and people from most of the Isle and the Threshold. If it become necessary, I have considerable sway with the Catala and can direct their efforts to particular sites or areas of focus. There are, after all, some things even money cannot buy.

                    Besides the skill, connections, and political power already alluded to, know also that I have earned my titles good and ill. Though not a graduate of the House of Well Flavored Aspect I am the only non-Elder known to have fully capped the most powerful demesne of Creation without resort to wasteful discharging of their energies. I have personally supervised the maintenance of key nodes in the Realm Defense Grid and am one of the few people able and by Her Most Exalted Majesty trusted to perform such work. Finally, I have filled the orders for newly constructed suits of dragon armor and greater works. Though notable in light of the above, I do possess the deficiency of failing to initiate into the Terrestrial Circle of Emerald while at the Heptogram, something attributed to my youth at the time, and have been unable to pursue it since.

                    It may appear surprising that one of my high position would join in this conspiracy that seams aimed at much of the basis of my prestige and power. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. I love the Realm and its people, and they deserve better than what we have managed to do for them. It was these sentiments that first put me at odds with Her Most Exalted Majesty, for much of the structure of Her Realm was designed and calibrated to ensure the security of Her Reign. Yet I am not content to spend the modicum of effort necessary to slay the twin troubles of ignorance and want. From investigations and my own work I know that this is an age of squalor. The luxury that my Exalted kin revel in as is the poverty of the former empires and they do not even know it. The Mandate of Heaven rests with the Terrestrial Host, and with it comes the responsibility to act as good stewards to what Dragons and Heaven have granted us, to properly cultivate and elevate Creation into the full flower of what it can be. Part of this is a change in our relationship with those who are other than we. I do not mean only the Threshold, though that situation is shameful and wasteful in equal measure, but the races with which we shared this world. Our Mandate is for all of Creation, and that includes everyone in it. We ignore or enslave those who should be our sisters and friends. All these are the true heresy against which association with Anathema is as petty as an argument over if Exaltations is of or from the Dragons.

                    In fire, faith, and blood,
                    Ledaal Catala Akashan


                    • #12
                      Dear Ryu and other friends,

                      Please do have Zara write to me. If she is truly interested, there could perhaps be something more than correspondence - ever since my return from the Threshold I have been looking for a handmaiden. While it is perhaps an unusual position for young enough to Exalt to hold, her tutors would surely agree that a few months in direct contact with the Dynasty might do her well. Obviously I would not have much time to attend to her directly (it would rather defeat the purpose of having a servant), sitting in on some of the introductory classes would not be out of the question.

                      The letter carries on about the possibility, dancing around the fact that she might not be chosen by the dragons - and if she is not, the position could be more permanent. Aisa could use someone trustworthy and young enough to groom into the position - she couldn't even believe another Mnemon served her, rather than being a spy for the family matron.

                      The conspiracy members will see the following.

                      Ferem Quelaana, Carmela Contarini and Cathak Titus, this letter was delivered to each of you by your new elemental companion. Since you expressed no ability to protect yourself against the immaterial in your last communication, I have taken the liberty of providing some insurance of my own. Please do not rely on them as a bodyguard should it come to a fight, but they will remain at your side dematerialize to protect you from spies. Should you not wish their presence, merely address politely - while demonstrating that you can defend yourself by looking directly at them.

                      Ai'Zul is delivering this to Whispering Twilight and will not stay, as I would not dare presume upon as a follow practitioner of the Art, and it would draw too much attention to Nellens Ryu to have a companion, situated as he is in the Imperial City in proximity to so many of the Chosen.

                      Following up on the information about V'Neef Bijar's interest in the Imperial Manse (truely the dynasty is complex, but the difference between the head of a Great House and merely one of the Chosen is quite important, Ryu!), I dropped some hints of my own research in that direction (recently begun) within the hearing of V'Neef Iphen. Since he has been paying court to me recently, he seemed a likely means of inserting myself into the affairs of his house subtly, making them think it was their own idea. He was obstinate at first, crudely attempting to hinder my efforts rather than take the bait. He feared I was acting as Mnemon's agent in the matter, but with some persuasion he came around.

                      In addition to setting up a meeting with V'Neef Bijar and building a bridge with that house, this also presents a solution to Ryu's slave problem. I believe I have uncovered what she intends to do with them (following in the steps of one of the Shoguns who sought entrance to the manse), and can prove to her why it will not work. The details are geomanticly complex and not terribly interesting, but blood sacrifices of that sort won't disrupt the energies the way she expects due to...

                      (a short passage is scratched out here, written and then thought better of)

                      This letter is not the place for too much detail, but I expect V'Neef will find the argument compelling - only delay her requisition for another week and it will vanish entirely. If things go according to plan, I will arrange to set up a personal meeting soon - in addition to the Imperial Manse being of great interest, an alliance with V'Neef would be quite beneficial to our endeavor. A small Great House is still a Great House, and this one is small enough tha Bijar can easily be a stepping stone to her mother.

                      On the other end of the political spectrum, my work at stepping into Mnemon's graces also bore some success. She asked me to acquire a recently found copy of a rare tome for her before it reached the Heptagram library. One of my Hurakas spied upon the ship, and I arranged for one of the longshoreman to become quite drunk the night before. Wearing his face I stole the book in question. This would have been the end of it, were it not for a slip up on my part. His wife spied me on the way home, still wearing his face. It started with "I thought you were too sick to go to work," devolved from there into "you went to see her again, didn't you?" and ended with my being chased around the market being pelted by breadrolls. There was also a squid. And a broom.

                      Far more than demons, Solars and betraying Mnemon, if word of my involvement in the "breadroll incident," as the locals have started calling it, ever leaks out, I will murder you. All of you. Take this secret to your grave.

                      Regardless! Upon reading the book, The Girl with the Sun in her Eyes, it is easy to see why the Empress ordered all copies destroyed. It appears to be nothing more than "First Age" rhymes, but there are tantalizing hints everywhere - what is not said, what is missing, and what context would need to be known for the rhymes to make sense. I have copied some parts for further study, but lacking a trustworthy scribe, will have to rely on memory. Mnemon will have received the original by the time you get this letter.

                      In more lighthearted news (the breadroll incident is not lighthearted. Remember: to your grave), life at the Heptagram continues as normal. Empress or no, the work of teaching the next generation of sorcerers and savants continues.

                      I arranged a scavenger hunt for the students at the Heptagram. Forming not-so-sworn brotherhoods from across all ages, they searched the isle for five items. This was done with two motives. Firstly, it would help cement my position and reputation in the school, as someone both fun and approachable, in addition to knowledgeable. Gaining trust with the student body is important. The Heptagram is a far more important power center in the Realm than most give it credit for.

                      Secondly, it gave me a chance to see the students acting more independently than usual. Establishing a sorcerous society is another possibility to consider for gaining influence, and this was a filter for potential members. Most of the participants were too hung up on the elemental associations of the locations they had to visit, but there were a few knowing looks from those who noticed the subtler association with the Trials they had either recently gone through or were approaching. Those are the students to pay attention to, of course. Those that look beyond the obvious.

                      The winning team accompanied me to a weekend at one of the local beach god's sanctums, a welcome respite from the biting winds and freezing rain we get at this time of year. They quite enjoyed themselves, but apparently managed to smuggle out some Smoke of Daana'd back to their rooms, and were doing poorly in their classes.

                      I tried to explain matters to them. "You are the Chosen. This means you can indulge, yes - I would never deny that. I too enjoy the finer things in life. When I stayed in Nexus, the first thing I did on arrival was trade some sorcery for lodging at the penthouse suite at the finest brothel in the city. But it also gives you a duty to excel. Your indulgences cannot get in the way of your education or your work." I followed this up with a couple of choice quotes from the Immaculate texts, about how their duty to protect Creation and the fact that pleasure is not evil, especially not for the Dragon Blooded.

                      I am sure it would shock many of the Dynasty, but truly believe everything I said. We Dragon Blooded have a duty to protect and to rule well. The Texts have much to teach us about right behavior, even if some of the specific details have been changed to accommodate state policy.

                      Which brings me neatly to the final topic, state policy. Several of you have seemed certain about, or dare I say even eager to bring, bloodshed to the Realm. I hope that this is merely bluntness about your predicted future, rather than any intention on your part. Please remember, fellow conspirators, that it is explicitly to prevent such a possible civil war that I have placed my trust in you - and in myself - rather than in Mnemon. I do not expect events will occur in such a way, but I would retract my claim to the throne if doing so would prevent the Realm from being torn apart. I will do everything in my power to prevent those horrors from being visited upon the Blessed Isle. The Realm is too important to Creation to be sacrificed on the altar of ambition or any other motive.

                      Yours in secrets and in strength,
                      Mnemon Aisa
                      Last edited by BlueWinds; 11-17-2016, 05:50 PM.


                      • #13
                        Resplendent Air, 9, Realm year 767
                        Cherak, North

                        My dear friends you should’ve seen the morning today, the dawn was actually a shade of pink and reflected off the ice and snow in a soft way that didn’t hurt your eyes.

                        The rest of letter goes on about how Quelaana had the perfect day, those part of the conspiracy see the following.

                        First off I’d like to say Titus’ suspicions were correct about the Roseblack. Assassins tried to kill her in the middle of my big speech, the gall of such an act! Fear not, for I managed to not only Save Ejava and get a stupendous first introduction, but I recognized this gang, whoever caused this hit has ties with the guild, I wouldn’t know which facetious prince of the earth has that, but I’m sure you guys could find out.

                        I’m sorry to say but I may have charged our candidate’s elemental five koku for sneaking in my theatre. He seemed a good sport about it and has an adorable confused face; I see why you summon him. I’ll keep him around since Pasiap’s humility requires great essence and mental concentration.

                        Through my magistrate connections I managed to find a group of slaves in the Amber River Satrapy called the Bloody hand. I’ve begun supplying them in the hopes they will become a foothold in my attempts for an abolitionist movement, I narrowly avoided a faux pas and almost shipped opiate tea. Hymn of Solace, my god mentor, assures me of a Cynis outcaste to where wary slave refugees can hide out. I’ve been sending Rei, my spy, to sneak supplies while I’m gaining the Roseblack’s trust.

                        As for this state policy thing, I don’t know about the Blessed isle but bloodshed will happen whether I do anything or not. Civilians are constantly being abused and/or murdered in the satrapies; there are two circles of Anathema rampaging up here, one of the biggest shadowlands still churns out undead, and at least two Deathlords are looming. I’m already at war.

                        With regards, Quelaana

                        P.S. If thou’st wondering about the gang’s name it was Stygian Cross, they’re known for performing funerary rights to the slain of friend and foe and have been found to be quite honorable.


                        • #14
                          Resplendent Air, 10, Realm year 767
                          Arjuf, South

                          The letter describes the reason for the vast amount of goods available in Arjuf`s markets.. Those in the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter:

                          This month has been filled with some interesting events, some progress and a setback thanks to the ineptitude of others.

                          The Arjuf dominion houses the ancestral home of house Ledaal and many other interesting institutions. I hope to have Ledaal Catala Akashan`s assistance in building my network of contacts in their home dominion. I assume the most important decisions takes place in the Palace of Vines? Some tips of who to get in touch with for building a good contact network would be awesome.

                          There has been some progress already as I have impressed a scholar from the Ledaal house on the subject of history of the Salinian School and he invited me to a lunch and lecture on the history of the Siluran School of sorcery. I think he can be a useful contact in the Ledaal household.

                          My ally, Ledaal Darino, got an opportunity to gain the position of a Dragon Lord in the 12th legion served on a silver platter. Unfortunately for us, his utilization of this opportunity was found lacking. You would think a dynast of the house Ledaal would be able to use damning secrets of others to advance themselves… alas not this one. Therefore, he is on latrine duty the rest of the month instead of advancing in the legion. I look forward to serving him refreshments as he digs the latrine ditches, as the diligent manservant I am.

                          There are some interesting areas in the Arjuf dominion I have visited recently. Nishim is a small town, which had a successful quarry. After the quarry became unprofitable to run, the towns decline has been fast and certain. It’s been slowly usurped by criminals and these days there are plenty of lowlives making sure its easy to disappear in the small town. The governor, Carver Bear, is very touchy about being blamed for that decline and usually responds with violence if someone blames him for it. Its been aptly called bear baiting and quite fun to watch. If you are ever in Nishim, do check out some of the local bars and you might be lucky to enough to see bear baiting in action.

                          I have utilized an abandoned house with a cellar for some rituals not suitable in Arjuf city or the legion camp. Always in disguise, an old aged woman does not attract too much attention. After the initial Wyld Hunt, I have developed a habit of wandering around in some form of disguise. Old men and women are often a funny disguise to wear; people usually presume they are harmless beings. Especially the young and rash.

                          In the coming months, I will be gathering several potent tools that you can lend if you so desire if you need some expertise you lack. I have summoned Naburo, the Stealer of Knowledge. To serve me as my spy when I need some hard to acquire info. Given the latest letter from Quelaana I will dispatch him to discover the employer of the Stygian Cross gang for the assassination attempt on Roseblack.

                          And if Nellens Ryo could give me all the details he has on the plot to keep Roseblack from returning to the isle? Ill dispatch him after he finds out who ordered the assassination on her, so he can sniff out who have been working to keep her from returning.

                          Aisha, I was wondering if you could assist me with gaining access to sorcerous knowledge at the Heptagram? My current access to occult knowledge, especially in terms of sorcery is limited and I would love to delve deeper in my studies.

                          Aisha`s point on violence might have been for me. I am working on gaining control of legions for our cause as I dont think a lot of actors will go peacefully once its clear they wont win. I am going to be ready for that. I believe in fighting fire with fire and will be ready to handle all challengers with the necessary means to win. As I dont like loosing. If the opportunity to win peacefully arises, I am not against that. I just think that scenario is extremely unlikely.

                          Stay safe and vigilant, the times are treacherous.


                          • #15
                            Being the Twelfth Day of Air, Resplendent, Seven-Hundred and Sixty-Seventh Year of Our Realm
                            Center of the Known World and Creation's Imperial City, Scarlet Prefecture, the Blessed Isle

                            As you asked me to be on the lookout for any more texts that might relate to the fragment we discussed, I am compelled to relate the most singular experience which occurred some few days prior at the ruins of the Provisional School. I had entered, running my hand along gradations of warmth, and lighting candles on the left because they were on the untrue side...

                            The letter rambles on about the minutia of a briefly popular architectural style in the early Shogunate tried to encode religious lessons into the structure of mundane buildings. The conspiracy members see the following:

                            It appears my beloved cousin Aisa and I have approached the problem of V'neef in a similar fashion. I have convinced Bijar that I am supporting her efforts to enter the manse. While initially wary of me overtures, I was able make the case that my aim was not to support this or any V'neef but to oppose the similar efforts of Mnemnon. I am afraid some of my younger assistants have taken to using a few of my more colorful turns of phrase in conversation. (Cousin, if you should find yourself called a megalomaniacal, self-aggrandizing witch I apologize. You know how these things spread among students.) However, I am now poised to obstruct any actual progress to enter the manse while also gaining access to the research of one of the most obsessive experts. Expect updates if anything of interested is discovered. It cannot be stressed enough that no one outside of this sworn conspiracy can be allowed to gain control of the Imperial Manse. Such an event would be the final, and fatal, end of our efforts. The slave problem appears to have taken care of itself.

                            As we are in the service of Aisa's claim to the throne, I am compelled to ask how she wishes to gain it. I have been operating under the assumption that the most expedient and achievable way of accomplishing this is to present the Great Houses with a fait accompli. When the balance of strategic power is such that there can be no victory against us we can repeat the ascension of Her Most Highly Exalted Majesty. The Manse is a single factor which would decide any contest, but the accumulation of wealth and allies could do the same. I do not belief that there can be a amicable, negotiated solution.

                            Toward that end, I have taken steps to enlist the assistance of the Jadeborn Mountainfolk. The Scarlet Stone is the most cohesive force of martial essence users in the Imperial City. Many in the dynasty are only passing combatants, and the Stone is composed of veterans with mastery of war magic. I am not advocating a purge, but there is a reason for proverb "Better a petition in one hand and a sword in the other than only a petition." I have not gained the services of the Stone, but I have made inroads with their masters which brings me to the next bit of news.

                            Ejava is currently on the far side of the Inner Sea where she is of no good in the struggle for the throne. However, I may have found a means to make better use of all forces loyal to us. After negotiation with the Jadeborn they have provided information about a novel form of food preservation which can allow us to keep armies supplied far more cheaply. While that is their primary use, it may prove to be a significant boost to Ledaal shipping. (Whispering Twilight, along with an attached list of possible contacts, this new development may prove to be of some use to your rather moral employer.)

                            Please accept the lack of significant progress on my end, my time is much taken up with artifice work, but I expect that project to be finished soon.

                            In fire, faith, and blood,
                            Ledaal Catala Akashan