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

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  • #61
    Third Day of Ascending fire, RY 767
    Imperial City, Blessed Isle

    Dear Madam,
    I’m afraid the Realm bank is closed for the month, the recent tensions make your requests quite impossible and I’m afraid…
    What follows is a lengthy and rather formal apology. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

    So I bear two letters on my desk today that any of importance in the capital has crossed their eyes over at least once. Even the feckless and lazy seem to know these ones, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a little essence is in play here and I’ll summarize to safeguard against spreading that any further.

    Mnemon herself says that the Tepet legions have failed the Realm in the North with their disaster of a plan against the Bull and the recent ceasefire only shows how unfit they are to truly safeguard the Realm. She called Ejava a failed Commander of a failing house and even her own house finds her unfit to lead a real company of soldiers and it was time to bring them to the Realm’s heel. It has been more popular a sentiment than any of us would like I’m afraid, House Tepet is not rich in allies.

    Meanwhile the other letter comes from Tepet Fokuf (Yes that one, yes really) has repudiated her and made a proclamation that House Mnemon is working against the realm by stymying trade in the North and that when it comes to a family feeling they’re not fit to lead she should be the last to be casting those particular stones. This hasn’t really helped Tepet much since no one likes the bastard but the fact he’s starting to actually fight for his house is worrying a fair few people. He’s put three failed motions forward to try resolve the Northern crisis in Tepet’s favour so far and I feel if Mnemon was ever in the same room as him he’d have every bone in his body pulled out through his mouth.

    A conflict seems almost inevitable, nobody is willing to mention the word “Civil War” yet but that’s what it’s sure to be. There’s not been much pledging of sides outside of Sesus for Mnemon but once it begins I imagine everyone is going to pile in soon enough. A particularly decisive victory for either side may well end the question of who are our next Empress is going to be.

    I've kept my hand off the politics for a while so I can use my talents when it is needed, this is one of those times, if you're desperate for help with a house send me a word and I will do what I can but as a fair warning, the more I do now the less I do in the aftermath so think carefully on it.

    Reports of scout fleet clashes are coming in as I write so I’ll be brief. Whatever happens in the next month I will continue to work for you all, my best hope at a restored Realm, even if it is under the heel of a new Empress.

    Watching carefully as the first fires are lit,

    Nellens Ryo


    • #62
      In violation of the legal claim House Tepet holds to Amber River, Mnemon has marched north to tear the Realm asunder with violence. Let none mistake her claim - this is about the throne, not about Tepet Ejava. Weakening the Realm for the sake of personal ambition is unacceptable, and she is not worthy to be Empress.

      Enough. It is in House Mnemon's power to end this immediately, and without further bloodshed. I seek only peace, and Mnemon need only withdraw her forces to end this conflict before it begins. But if it is come to battle then, with House Tepet, with the loyal subjects of Amber River, with allies numerous hidden and visible, with legions and with words, I will oppose her.

      Mnemon cannot be Empress, or the Realm will tear itself apart in civil war. Tepet Ejava has no power. Ledaal Kes lacks the will to unite the Realm and restore they Dynasty.

      I am the direct matrilineal descendant of the Scarlet Empress. The power of the Dragons is upon me with strength not seen in a generation. When we have won this battle, Tepet Ejava will acknowledge my claim and withdraw her own. There is no one more fit for the position.

      I will be the next Empress.

      -- Mnemon Aisa

      ((Copies of this letter have been distributed all over the Realm - first to the heads of major houses, then to public places in major cities, and then just... copies. Like the two letters Ryu mentioned, it seems to have been read my everyone. Only a few rare copies, sent directly to members of the conspiracy and scribed directly by Aisa's hand, have additional text hidden in them.))

      I believe the letter mostly speaks for itself as to my recent activities, but I will add some additional context for all of you to sink your teeth into.

      Mnemon's response is unofficial, but she's been attempting to keep the focus on House Tepet, which is significantly less popular at the moment than I am. Casting them as the aggressors has backfired, however - the Mouth of Peace has been heard to make several comments to the effect that it "is good someone is adhering to the values that made the Realm so powerful." That subtle endorsement has done wonders for my standing with House Ledaal, and with the religious sections of society as a whole. Also allow me, for a moment, to bask in the praise. It's pleasant to hear that someone who isn't convinced my faith is a political sham - especially the Mouth of Peace herself.

      House Nellens has backed me publicly. House V'Neef has not done so, but they have sent me a great deal of money, and will be speaking on my behalf privately. Ragara, Peleps, Sesus and Mnemon's response are as expected, varying from polite dismissal to completely silence.

      I will be getting married in three months. Cathak Cainan was clear - he was willing to back me, conditional upon my marriage to Cathak Nadrian. Given that I had already decided upon such, and it lacked only to make him aware of the fact, this was an easy price to pay. Wedding invitations will be going out in the next month or so, but I imagine many of you will be too busy to attend. Ryu, as father of my protégé, it would not be suspicious if you wished to come - Zara will certainly be involved, once negotiations settle on a form for the ceremony.

      Cynis is an interesting case. They cut all ties with me and are backing Mnemon, with a polite apology from Cynis Belar - but at the same time, Cynis Wesel, one of the other elders, paid me a personal visit shortly thereafter. She's the most conservative of the sisters, and has (according to Belar, who I do not completely trust) been a voice against me. Wesel offered me a surprising deal, which I accepted.

      The short and casual version is such: House Cynis will back me, and in return, I will (once I have authority to make laws) slowly increase restrictions on slavery and goods traded my anyone who deals in slaves. While such a move would hurt their ability to deliver intoxicants cheaply, Cynis themselves only buy slaves, they don't trade in them - their prices will rise, but it will deal a bloody blow to the Guild, their main rival. Since my time in Nexus I've frowned upon the Guild, and gaining favor and allies in return for accelerating a plan I already had... well, I welcome the opportunity.

      I keep my word, Cynis Wesel agrees, and so it's Cynis' turn to show good faith. Let us wait and see if they will change their colors.

      I hope our two northern ladies or war are doing well? I'm waiting anxiously for news from the north. Quelanaa, it's too much to hope that the Roseblack was killed in action, isn't it? She remains rather uncooperative, and has refused to do as my letter to the Realm promised (relinquish her claim). If possible, I'd at least like to make it clear to everyone involved (and those uninvolved but powerful) that it was only due to our aid that she survived, much less won a victory.

      Yours in temporary glory and in lasting gratitude,
      -- Mnemon Aisa


      • #63

        Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I might have fallen in the water and I might be sort of bad at swimming but I managed to not only survive, but I punched out a shark! Sharkpunch! I'm thinking that some sort of giant squid is next on the ledger of things I need to punch.

        The letter, written in charcoal on a piece of bark, goes on in this vein for some time, a thorough description of the various marine life that Carmela has punched or will punch. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following...

        So, rumors of my demise have been... somewhat exaggerated. It was a pretty near thing several times and at the very end of the battle I'm... honest to dragons not sure I wasn't actually dead for real. Of course that would mean a Storm Mother gave me mouth-to-mouth, which is something I really don't want to contemplate for too long.

        The breakdown: rode a commando team of cloud bears hopping from ship to ship in the darkness, homing in on any red-haired women in Mnemon's fleet. Burst down to the decks, got to punching, clawing, grappling and other assorted forms of close-quarters combat, aimed to pitch them over the side. If it worked, the storm (by the way there was a hell of a storm) would claim their vessel. Oh, also: I burnt the Sesus cutters so don't count on getting them back. WELL. To be more accurate, we used captured Sesus codes and signals to get them close to part of Mnemon's fleet and used FIRE SHIPS to set EVERYTHING ON FIRE.

        So there's me surrounded by elementals in a driving storm invading ships that were quite thoroughly on fire waging redhead-to-redhead duels. If it's not too much trouble I expect at least a dozen paintings of me and my various opponents conducting a life-or-death struggle.

        Oh, I... might have attracted Florivet's attention, and then used myself as bait to get him down into the water where the water spirits could gang up on him and take him down. I may or may not have drowned in the process. It's not exactly clear. I blacked out pretty thoroughly once my lungs started taking on water so I guess that technically counts as drowning. See again: not sure I wasn't actually dead for a bit.

        So here I am, on a beach surrounded by wreckage, writing this because it beats the hell out of getting up. Oh! I've got a totally sweet crown made of coral that's... probably a gift from the Storm Mother for having given her so many redheads to play with (she, uh, animated them, to help fight Florivet. Just when I thought gods couldn't get any creepier...). I'm going to look into having it enchanted first thing, or it might already be and I haven't noticed, but either way it's a hell of a trophy for this battle.

        Oh! Someone's telling me we won, apparently the Cynis decided to involve themselves too. Between that, the fall of their demon ally and... probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting because my head's still spinning... anyway Mnemon's admirals decided to fuck this sideways and the blockade is broken. Hope things are going well on your end and that you haven't done anything too crazy.

        Fuck. I need to get warm and I need something to get the taste of seawater out of my mouth. Quelaana! If you get this, bring me booze and company!

        -Carmela Contarini


        • #64
          Ascending Fire, 14, RY 767
          Amber River, North

          Oh lackaday and woe betide me,
          Storm and tide deride me from which ruin speaks. What fortune could such madness bring to war over Ice and snow?

          The letter continues to doom say the battle that happened recently. Members of the conspiracy will read the following.

          The battle on my front appears to have gone a bit more smoothly than Carmela’s. I’ve had a great deal of time to prepare so maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy? All traps I had laid out in the coast seemed to have worked out because the enemy ground troops didn’t stay for long. Dealing with the sorcerers on the other hand…

          Turns out there is a way to make ships fly and they were dead set on ruining my day. With our warstrider busy dealing with the aquatic fleet there wasn’t any opening for the big guns to do much against them. One of them flew a little too close to a tower for cover and I saw my chance. One arduous climb and daring jump later I was on a flying ship wreaking havoc. I managed to break the formation by crashing the ship into another causing a domino effect. The landing just about killed me.

          When I awoke I saw Florivet pushing Carmela back and I decided to help out. By the time I got there both of you were gone so I’m assuming that’s when you tricked him underwater. At this time I holed up on a ship with a red headed captain I made a hostage and beat the shit out of anyone that got near me.
          It’s a good thing the Cynis showed up because I wasn’t sure how many more guys I could’ve taken.

          The rat lunar was apparently watching us the whole time. I’m wondering how long before the Bull starts messing with us.

          With regards,
          Quelaana Ferem

          p.s. Carmela, I don’t know about good booze, but I’m up for ranting about better times.


          • #65
            Second Day of Descending fire, RY 767
            Imperial City, Blessed Isle

            Thank you for the concern over my health but let it be known that any difficulty I had was easily resolved thanks to the Imperial City Healers, the very best in the Realm. It seems not even I can escape a little drama in this life...

            The letter continues to muse on a close call with death. Members of the conspiracy will read the following.

            We've all had an eventful month, I am both pleased and saddened to announce I have survived my first poisoning a few nights ago. Moves are being made in the Imperial City to replace key figures now that blows have been struck and with the keys to the Realms coffers I made an attractive target. I imagine this will not be the last attempt at my life while I hold this position. Do not worry, I will find out who did it soon enough, they were good but I am better.

            But let's not talk about me, let's talk about what you've all accomplished.

            The Realm is not yet in open civil war, but behind the scenes it has very much begun. With the failure of Mnemon's blockade and the sense of blood in the water Mnemon has asserted her position by cracking down on dissenters and spreading propaganda to try lessen the bite of her defeat. Tepet have not been so cunning and are openly bragging about their victory, which is not enamoring them to many right now. We all want to see Mnemon taken down a peg, but bragging about the start of a civil war is the sort of brash thing that I know you all would not engage in. Tepet's ego is not matching their position right now, a single victory does not win a war.

            Trade in the West has become a mess, whatever problems that direction is facing there's almost nothing coming to the shores and the Realm is beginning to feel the pinch even with the restoration of goods from Tepet lands. This war may well be won now simply on who has the most holdings and ability to feed the Realm while the fishing boats and jade from the islands stops rolling in. This has particularly hurt Peleps who rely on their offshore holdings to fun their house and yet still I hear not a single word of what is going on there. It is rather mystifying.

            The Bull in the North has demanded an audience with the ones who won the naval engagement in the North and Tepet Ejava refused him. He has since stated he did not mean her, which is concerning.

            Fokuf is trying to secure Tepet's name in the chamber, his recent activities are like he's a completely different person and I have a feeling that might not be wrong. My abilities are not perfect at seeing deception but speaking to him I always feel I am being deceived. I don't know who is wearing his skin right now and I don't much like that they can hide that from me either. Whoever it is, they're both strong and failing to get much done. I don't understand it yet I'm afraid.

            All in all this seems to be a win for nobody but Aisa, who has gathered a fair bit of support to her claim and is now the subject of much discussion here in the City. There's some who'll never trust a Mnemon, the head of the family or a grand-daughter, but there's whispers that if they have to pick between two evils one of them is clearly the lesser.

            Mnemon has lost face and while the Tepet won the battle, I feel total victory would come at a price they simply can't afford especially with so few allies.

            I cannot say whether you should act now with speed or stockpile for the next battle as I don't know where we go from here. We've all cast the die, now we see where it falls.

            We marvel at the splendor of the last embers of the year as they slowly fade away,
            Nellens Ryo


            • #66
              Dear associates,

              Sorcerous Messaging Services has opened a branch in your town or city, and we're extending a welcoming hand to all in need of fast - nearly instant, in fact - communication to anywhere in Creation. While your own House doubtless has sorcerers available to you, SMS is unique in that we are a commercial operation, and are willing to transmit your message without judgment or comment.*

              * Bulk rates for SMS messages available, inquire at your local branch. Service fees and other charges may apply, see full terms and conditions for detail.

              ((The letter appears to be a coupon for a free Infallible Messenger casting from a new company opening branches in eight major cities across the Realm, promising more locations soon. It's not personalized, and has been sent to half a dozen other dynasts in your area alone. Only the most discerning will notice that the scribe for this particular copy was Aisa, and only members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will be able to read the true message.))

              Ferem Quelana, to follow up on our previous conversation, I do not have any source of celestial essence for powering your warstrider, but you seem to be entangled with several. If any of them are at least slightly trustworthy, feel free to offer them any reasonable reward for their help, and I will make good on your promises. The Blessed Isle is a dangerous place for them, but I can provide safe passage at least temporarily.

              Nellens Ryu, I exchanged a letter with Regent Fokuf, and I must agree with your assessment. He does not match the descriptions I have heard, nor does he seem to care for House, Realm or his own dignity. I invited him to my wedding - if he remains civil, he may even survive the experience. Regardless, I will look into the possibility that he has been killed and replaced magically when he is in my presence.

              Carmela Contarini, that all sounds rather exciting, and I'd love to hear the story in person some day. I'm very glad that Cynis finally came through. Perhaps with things a little calmer you can now have at least one month where no one tries to kill you? Also, repayment for the loan you tendered me is awaiting your collection back on the Blessed Isle.


              Don't trust Sorcerous Messaging Services with anything terribly important, as I'm sure you figured, but do feel free to make use of them. They are a group of lesser sorcerers who requested my backing, and since it was both relatively cheap to help them get started and has the potential to be quite useful in the future, I'm funding them. I make no promises as to their discretion or their loyalty.

              The disruptions in the west are growing worse, but I still have no news as to exactly what they entail. If anyone knows more, please let me know. House Peleps has been having trouble paying its legions. I will be looking into this. The troubles of a great house are an opportunity for us.

              My wedding will be next month, and with it comes an alliance with House Cathak. This in turn brings a great measure of stability and security - we won't need to beg borrow and scrape to assemble a military force in the future. Any of you that are free are welcome to attend. In particular, it would be an excellent excuse for your presence at the Heptagram, as a staging point for an expedition to the Versino ruins, if either of our competent, dangerous and violence-prone conspirators are interested and available for such.

              The Mouth of Peace will be officiating the wedding, and publicly backing me. I won't go into details of our meeting, since they are intensely personal, but suffice it to say that it went well. Do not expect to see the carefree and whimsical Mnemon Aisa again. I have left her in the care of the Mouth, and will henceforth be in the guise I have only donned temporarily until now - the Empress in Waiting, rather than an ambitious and nervous young woman.

              -- Aisa


              • #67

                Did you know being a fire-aspect is the best possible thing someone could hope for? When they suggested a hunting expedition in the North I didn't even have to pack a coat! I did anyway because it makes me look like a barbarian princess, but I could have run around in a chainmail bikini and been none the worse for it!

                The letter prattles on for a while about a snowlion-hunting expedition and the various wardrobe choices she's making along the way. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:


                I met with the Bull of the North.

                So there's bad news and good news, and good news and bad news, and bad news and good news.

                The bad news is that he wants to march on the rest of the North and bring it under his heel in an orgy of fire and blood to put the Teakettle Conquests to shame.

                The good news is that I think I may have sort of talked him out of it?

                The further good news is that he is actually willing to fight for our conspiracy if it comes to that (?!?). Yes, you heard me right. Read me right. Whatever.

                The further bad news is that if he did so and won he'd be all about burning the institutions of the Realm to ashes and building something new atop its grave, so, uh, not so much for us as with us.

                The even further bad news is that I sooort of talked him out of it by insinuating that I was going to start a populist rebellion that may or may not burn the institutions of the Realm to ashes and build something new atop its grave, and that if he sees that not happen it's probably going to be bad times for everyone.

                The even further good news is... well that was all I had really but I needed to keep up the pattern so... it's good to know where we stand, at least? Yeah! Gonna go with that.

                Aisa! I'm gonna collect on that loan when I get back. The wedding sounds big for you (well, let's be honest, if you wind up as Empress you'll be having a lot of them) but I don't think my fancy dress is sufficiently fancy. BUT getting to muck around in the ruins of Versino with Quelaana at my back sounds like a pleasant level of danger and derring-do, meeting a Solar is nice but nobody's tried to kill me or poison me this month and I'm actually sort of missing it.

                Quelaana, I met your rat-lunar and apparently left a good impression, although she didn't want a date. I suddenly feel your pain in dealing with her. Oh! She's got some sort of weird reincarnation romantic interest in Ryo (she might have told you already but I dunno, the Bull was the one that mentioned it), in case we want to set that up for some reason or, you know, REALLY NOT set that up because that may or may not be the Worst Idea because introducing a jealous Lunar into Ryo's already messy personal life sounds like it would end badly.

                So, should be interesting times!
                Carmela Contarini


                • #68
                  Resplendent Fire, 18, RY 767
                  Whitewall, North

                  Shame on you for selling me such a faulty piece of equipment! I’ll have you know as a mother of 2 and a patrician Wife of Cathak Velstadt I demand a full refund for the Thousand Comforts lounge I ordered.

                  The letter continues to have the irate self-entitled woman describe how she couldn’t get the Thousand comforts lounge to do things it clearly can’t do. Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.

                  My current adventures have calmed down, but not by as much as I had hoped. I managed to rally with the Tepets to deal with the hungry ghosts and even managed to catalyze 2 soulsteel bars from the commotion. Annoyingly the storm mothers stole a lot of the corpses of dragon blooded that would’ve made excellent fuel for this up and coming magical material. I would like to emphasize using only hungry ghosts for soulsteel and not anyone’s true soul that could still theoretically reincarnate.
                  I ended up having to go to whitewall to find someone whom could consult me more on using this material to fighting the undead. Unfortunately this mean I’ll have to make a visit to the labyrinth to find the Artificer whom could suit my needs.

                  After some failed negotiations with some slavers to find someone whom would be willing to infiltrate the guild a rather well informed raksha told me about a guild member spying on my own activities. It was surprisingly easy to make him a double agent. I guess when your only motivation is wealth it’s easy to turn someone.

                  Lastly, I’ve started to expand my troupe and even started to write more Northern and less Realm based plays. Realm plays just don’t draw much of a crowd outside Cherak. When learning more about the deep north I may have gotten into a relationship with Darkest Dawn (don’t judge me). I’m sorry Aisa but the Lunars I know are far too worried about the Bull to make a journey to the Blessed isle as of now. How do you feel about celestial gods though? My mentor, Hymn of Solace, might be interested in helping if you could capture his attention.

                  Carmela, I would like to remind you that the Bull of the north is probably the most dangerous living being in the North as of right now. Please don’t rile him up if you can help it.

                  With regards,
                  Ferem Quelaana

                  p.s. *the bottom of the letter is a description of the prayer ritual to try to capture Hymn of Solace’s attention*
                  (here's a link to Hymn of solace since I wrote one way at the start of the game)



                  • #69
                    The letters come unbidden every day.

                    1st Day of Calibration R767

                    This letter is a picture of a wrought iron pen stripped of it's feather and stabbed through a piece of paper so the ink bleeds out in a dizzying spiral pattern. Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.
                    Bound by an oath until the Blood of the Dragons sits again upon the Scarlet Throne.

                    2nd Day of Calibration R767
                    This letter is a picture of seven indistinct figures holding hands in a ring. Six? Seven. No Six. No... it's really not clear. Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.
                    Seven swore to defy order and protect those not of their own

                    3rd Day of Calibration R767

                    This letter is a picture of a water clock, the reservoir painted with a sun symbol pouring into a bowl with an incredibly detailed starlit night pattern. Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.
                    Golden Dragon, Starborn Servant, Clockwork Prince

                    4th Day of Calibration R767

                    This letter is a picture of the scarlet throne with three people sitting on it, one with a coral crown, one with an exposed heart cracked with ice and a small girl in the middle with brilliant white hair and a daiklaive resting along her lap far too big for her to possibly ever wield., Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.
                    Redhead Queen, Ice-Touched King, Empress in Waiting

                    5th Day of Calibration R767
                    This letter comes with a picture of disturbingly detailed a bleeding heart, held by a rail thin black eyed woman with a piercing gaze. Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.
                    This Whisper in Twilight has not forgotten you all.

                    1st Day of Ascending Air R768
                    Imperial City, Blessed Isle

                    I hope the new year finds you all well.
                    It's a very short message.
                    Members of the Scarlet conspiracy read the following.

                    There was seven of us? Please, don't respond. Not yet. Take this month to do what you need to do, I'll work out how this happened.

                    Speak again when it's safe,
                    Last edited by Fansibubbles; 07-12-2017, 11:31 AM.


                    • #70
                      Ragara Saveria and Nellens Ryu,

                      Ragara Zara has taken well to her new school, as expected of one with her illustrious paternity. Dragons bless you for raising a fine young dynast! A dozen more like her, and the Heptagram will be overflowing with talent. Your daughter is doing well in all of her classes, especially the Arts of Weather Working and Divination. Her enthusiasm is commendable in all academic areas, and she displays great desire to please her professors. We foresee no difficulties in continuing her education.

                      Our approbation of her academic pursuits does not extend to her social life. She has several times expressed disdain for some of her well connected classmates, confident, it seems, in a belief that her already existent connections will be sufficient later in life. While being protégé and former handmaiden to Aisa may prove to be to her advantage in the future, we are applying increasing pressure to remind her that one should not dismiss any advantage, and that...

                      ((The letter is a term report for Ryu and his wife on Zara's progress in her studies at the Heptagram. It paints a picture of a bright and fiery young woman, perfectly controlled when it suits her, but not exercising that level of control often enough. Members of the Conspiracy will be able to read between the lines.))

                      Carmela, the Bull may be getting more of what he hopes for than you reckoned. With the Mouth of Peace, House Nellens and Amber River on our side, plus the end of slave trading in the Realm on the table, it begins to feel more like a populist rebellion with each passing day. I hope to burn very few things to the ground, but you're welcome to run any specific actions he'd like taken by me.

                      Please send your father my regards? I desire to speak with "some old sneaky fucks who get stuff done," as you once eloquently described his contacts. I have proposal that may interest any of House Iselsi who still desire a return to their glory days.

                      Quelaana, I must admit to feeling uneasy over the creation of soulsteel, even from the remains of hungry ghosts. If you wish an introduction to Ledaal Kes, let me know and I shall (discreetly) point him in your direction. I believe his family is quite interested in the underworld, and may be of some use if you wish a second opinion on your proposed trip (or a lecture on why Soulsteel is a bad idea - perhaps best keep that part of your plans secret).

                      Thank you for the introduction, I shall see about speaking with Hymn to Solace in the coming months.


                      I think you'll all be pleased to know that Tepet Ejava will survive her visit to the Heptagram. She's a refreshing dose of candor amid the plotting I find myself engaging in, and it would have been a shame to have to remove her. She'll be staying here for a month or more, observing me and taking her time to make up her mind about whether to support me or to continue pressing her own claim. I suspect she'll agree in the end, though that's uncertain as of yet.

                      Regent Fokuf was also here. He is not a lunar having eaten the heart of the regent, which was my primary concern. Ryu, I'm afraid I cannot reveal all that he told me, but be assured that he's the same Fokuf he always has been - but that the Regent we've come to know and love is not the whole of his nature. I will say no more on that subject. He will remove himself soon enough, after an embarrassing incident even worse than usual.


                      As important as all that is, my month has been consumed by one thing - marriage. I seem to be growing a small, permanent court here at the Heptagram, as envoys and elders from all the various Great Houses stay to negotiate, intrigue, and otherwise stay close at hand. This erupted into a full blown invasion of the premises as hundreds of invited guests and hangers-on arrived all at once. I must thank House Cynis for planning and organizing everything - I haven't the skills or the contacts to put together such an event on short notice.

                      I copied, with minor modification, a ceremony from six hundred years ago, when the Empress, still new to her power, wedded one of the last great families not yet brought into the Dynasty. Forgive me for waxing poetic on the subject, but as a somewhat important event in my life, it seems worth the spilled ink.

                      I wore a blood red dress, flows down my body and pooling on the floor, where a breeze from my anima gently stirred the rich fabric. It was unadorned, without pattern or lace, covering me from the shoulders down. Diamond earrings glittered beneath long white hair. An ornament of peacock feathers graced one temple, formed to resemble the House Cathak mons. I wasn't wearing any visible weaponry, traditional for a sorcerer and unheard of for any other dynast.

                      I entered the hall accompanied by the Mouth of Peace from behind a stage. We moved slowly to stand at the top of two steps, where I stopped, a sculpture made of ice without further movement.

                      Cathak Nadrian entered from the back of the hall, striding towards where me at the front. He was accompanied by three armed companions. One of the guards barred their way, and after a brief (entirely ceremonial) battle, the guard retired, along with one of Nadrian's companions, to stand at attention along the path towards me. A second guard barred their way, and again, Nadrian's companion battled the challenger, opening his way. This repeated for a third and final time before he reached the base of the steps.

                      I finally acknowledged his presence, gesturing the Mouth of Peace to go speak with him. The Mouth stepped down to floor level.

                      "Why have you come, Cathak Nadrian, grandson of Cainan, grandson of Cathak?"

                      "To claim the hand of Aisa."

                      "Why do you seek the hand of Aisa, granddaughter of Mnemon, daughter of The Scarlet Empress?"

                      'To bind our houses together' would have been the traditional response, but I'm not claiming any house at all right now. "To bind my house to her, and her to my house."

                      "Then come."

                      Summoning a smile for Cathak Nadrian is one of the more difficult things I've done in my life, but I am a dynast, a Mnemon, and a sorceress. Emotions are to be used, not to use me. I said my vows and smiled while I did it.

                      The price of power is, as always, a little piece of my soul.


                      There has been... a complication, of sorts. Tepet Cotina is now firmly at my side, and I have neither the strength nor the desire to pry her from that position. This is a complication not because having a mortal lover is scandalous, but because of the strength of the attraction. I find myself unwilling to contemplate harm done to her, and unwilling to use a potentially very useful ally in any way that would put her at risk. It is a weakness. Please forgive me if it brings harm to our cause, but I cannot find it in myself to cast it away as I have so many others.

                      ((The letter in the previous paragraph is a break from Aisa's usually impeccable calligraphy. A few of the letters are actually shaky, as if the internal tremors of conflict made their
                      way into her fingers.))


                      The form of the ceremony was, in effect, a public endorsement by the Mouth of Peace. Acknowledging me as an equal in this way is something no Mouth has ever done since the founding of the Realm, save with Empress herself.

                      There has been some minor pressure by people who see my lack of house ties as a sign of weakness rather than strength. Despite the attraction of beginning House Aisa, after some discussion, Cathak Nadiran has kept his name. This is an alliance marriage, after all, and those who consider leaving behind my affiliation with Grandmother's house an invitation are both few and foolish as of yet.

                      I shall skip over the evening after the wedding. It went as you expect the night after a wedding to go. I look forward to seeing Cathak Nadrian as little as possible. Cathak Nadrian is a fine and perfectly attractive young man, but I like his company no better than any other man's (which is to say, not a great deal).


                      We now have five Great Houses sided with us, with one degree of reliability or another. It's a good start. It's an excellent start, in fact. With Cathak, we have enough military power to hold our own in battle. With Cynis we hold enough economic pull to make a go at it.

                      I thank you all for your work thus far. I'm honestly not sure I believed we'd get this far, but we're here. Good luck. Keep watching for the other shoe to drop, I have a feeling it will soon.

                      -- Aisa


                      • #71
                        The letter has seen better days with edges being blackened and almost seems to have been crumpled and re-flattened. The words that are legible seem to be rantings and ravings about seemingly random things that worry the troubled soul that sent this. Conspirators will read the following.

                        I’ve had a hell of a month and honestly I’m not sure if I should be writing some of this stuff even with a cipher made by a solar Bureaucrat.

                        I suppose I’ll start with what I’ve been doing with the guild as of late. The Tepets and I have decided the Bull having full funding from the guild is very bad news. Even if the Bull was to seriously go along with our conspiracy that much support would make him too strong too fast and honestly I don’t trust anyone whom forces people into servitude by threat of death if he finds them useful. This was going alright with helping non-guild merchants, tariffs, and even bandits conveniently knowing guild caravan routes.
                        That is until Misery showed up and failed to poison me (nobody tell her I’m immune to plant based poisons), I think she seriously thought I was going to kill her until I managed to find a loophole with her forced oath to get her into helping me finding out how the Guild is planning to screw over the Bull. We haven’t discovered anything yet but my bet is war profiteering.

                        As you know I was in Whitewall for a while so I decided to learn more about their culture and see if I could anything cool before I had to leave. I happened to stumble upon a most peculiar Bookstore that apparently had books for every conceivable concept I could care to read about with more knowledge about the subject than anyone had a right to know. Whether this place was an act of a stray god or the scheme of a fate-chosen I do not know, but when the store owner could give me real answers about the eye of Autochthon I’ll admit I lost my composure. He gave me a choice of only one topic so I chose the one I didn’t think I could get on my own, Deathlords. I’ll only say a little of what I know but the there’s more Deathlords than we thought and the Great contagion was no accident. This leads me to my next escapade…

                        I’m sorry Aisa but the smith in the Labyrinth was sadly a better bet for me to get my artifact made than gambling with Ledaal Kes’ help at his time; that said, discussing what I’ve learned now with Ledaal would be appreciated as long as he knows we’re not dismantling my prize (does he know about fate-chosen by the way?).

                        Anyways, my trip to the Shadowlands themselves was largely uneventful and I found it takes a substantial amount of resources to hire a proper guide whom was a little too obsessed about being betrayed. Thanks to Ram, my guide, I managed to get to the smith with minimal trauma for what the Labyrinth could have offered my sanity. There were legions upon legions of stalwart stoic undead with only the constant thrumming of hammering metal to counteract the staggering silence. Turns out the newest undead still awaiting to be armed was quite a few casualties of our battle for Amber River. They remembered and blamed me to cause a fight I’m surprised I survived at all. I managed to convince the smith whose name is “Fading Light of the Forge” to help me forge my artifact and in return I would have to start a school that didn’t charge its students to teach them metalworking as long as they never made weapons there. The North always needs more Farming tools so I agreed. I’m still in the Labyrinth so I’m not sure when/if this letter will reach you.

                        With regards, Quelaana Ferem

                        OOC: Technically I shouldn’t be able to send this letter but the Labyrinth has super malleable time so I’m saying you guys have gotten this letter before Quelaana has even written it. Hence the super messed up letter.


                        • #72

                          I've been very busy and haven't been regaling you with my exploits nearly enough, nor have I been giving you my best poetry.

                          We'll make up for this now.

                          Sing the melody
                          You can explode your own way
                          Explode your own way

                          The rest of the letter is the familiar-by-now rambling about adventuring and terrible poems! Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

                          Well! I'm glad to see I haven't had the most messed-up month, nor am I the one the most in over my head! Quelaana you are screwing with some seriously dangerous shit here and I'm going to assume you know what you're doing and that you can give some sort of explanation for... well, any of that stuff that's in the letter. For instance, are you saying Misery is under an oath like ours, but didn't want to be? I feel like that could be useful to us. (The other bits... hey, everybody and their dog has a pet theory about the Contagion, you know? If I had a dinar for every mad god I've met that's claimed responsibility for almost destroying the world I'd... well I'd have a dinar.)

                          So, um, for me. Nothing much happened! Nothing much at all! There is the small detail that Cynis Belar has decided she wants to marry me. Did she catch the bouquet at the wedding or something? First of all how does that even work in the Realm (it's not a subject I've really thought about much, to be honest! Belar explained that a marriage has to produce children within fifty years or it disappears but that fifty years is plenty for her). Second of all most of my support in the Realm (you know, most of the reason nobody's just up and decided to throw me out) comes from the Magistracy and the Immaculate Order and I'm pretty sure both of them would flip tables at the very idea!

                          Sooo Aisa and or Ryo I require your political-fu.

                          Aisa! Congratulations on your wedding. I think. I've taken your proposal to my father and he is... we'll call it recalcitrant. With Iselsi's fortunes shaky as it is, openly throwing in their lot with you would be painting too big a target on their backs, is my impression. You may need to sweeten the pot a little. If your negotiations with Ejava go well that may change, as they had previously been assisting the Tepet in exchange for a bit of territory (some of which has been very legitimately sold to me, so if you can pull it off it'll actually help me out a lot, otherwise my life's going to get very interesting very soon).

                          With the Cathak joining you I feel like my own forces are going to be dwarfed in short order, but I feel like we should still keep them around. For insurance. Also, you can never have too many armies.

                          Carmela Contarini


                          • #73
                            Third Day of Resplendent Air, RY 768
                            Imperial City, Blessed Isle

                            Dear Sir/Madam
                            The Imperial Treasure wishes to renovate the aqueducts leading into the Imperial City and we call upon your house for a small contribution to aid in resolving this matter in an expident manner. As you know the Imperial City is a vital point of ...
                            What follows is a very politely worded begging letter. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

                            I return to you all with a tan and a list of names.

                            Nellens Ryo

                            Cathak Titus

                            Mnemon Aisa

                            Ferem Quelaana

                            Whispering Twilight

                            Ledall Catala Akashan

                            Contarini Carmela

                            These were the names of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy and some have faded into the background over time. The bad newsis Ledall Catala Akashan is more or less dead. I say more or less because while the body of Ledall Catala Akashan lives his mind has been taken, he was found in his workshop with no more will than one who had been thoroughly ravished by the Fair Folk. His family care for him but have no idea what caused this, I believe I do and it leads me to far worse news.

                            You may dimly, remember the name of Whispering Twilight. Take some time to reflect on them and you may remember they are one like me, camped in Arjuf a place I have sailed for last month and checked thoroughly for signs of their passing and I found a few. The last we heard of him was when he summoned Naburo, the Stealer of Knowledge and was trying to recruit a Legion. It turns out he was discovered and chased off as a Anathema in a bloody battle and had dragged himself back to the demon, only for it to, well, steal their knowledge and then somehow steal away his very memory in this world.

                            Carmella you captured a Sorcerer who also has his thoughts stolen away by a demon did you not? I do not believe this is a coincidence, someone has control of a demon that is now eating it's way through our secrets and I worry what this could mean for us in the future. It turns out it's not the only demon problem you now have to deal with too, be careful with Belar we've talked once and that lady cares for little beyond her houses fortunes, if you ever cause problems for it she'll sink you faster than a Mnemon battleship.

                            Parlaying with demons may help you find out more, my ability in Sorcery is sadly non-existent and my contacts do not extend into realms beyond ours. I have taken this as far as I can, I hope all of you can find a way to take it further before this malfean worming it's way through our midst kills any more of us, or spills our secrets to the wrong person.

                            Sadly Creation does not stop for our problems and I cannot put off these letters, so I will go on as best I can.

                            The Fair Folk have invaded the West, it's not quite on Crusade levels but it's bad. You may have wondered how the Realm's largest Naval Battle could have occurred without the Realm's largest naval household and now you hold now, they're busy protecting their holdings from a fair folk onslaught. Trade from the West is becoming ropey at best and the other directions will need to pick up the slack when it comes to feeding the Realm. Now's the time to make good for that cropland to the North you fought so hard over, it's suddenly become a lot more valuable.

                            Sadly there's been little political maneuvering I can discuss beyond Aisa's wedding, which has thoroughly captured the Realm's attention. Aisa you looked quite the part in your wedding outfit, I'm sorry I didn't get time to talk to you. I thought it best to not start any rumors about us by doing so, you are of considerable more import to the chatter of Imperial Court than I ever could be now. I hear so many fanciful stories I know couldn't be true, I'll save up a few good ones for a more light hearted letter. House Ragara is leveraging their funds and Mnemon is in deep discussion with them but I haven't been able to pry what for yet. They seem about to purchase something very, very big.

                            I should get some sleep, I haven't tried that recently. I've heard it's very good for your health.

                            I feel the breath in my lungs and know I still yet live,
                            Nellens Ryo