Sands of Chiaroscuro

Transcripts! Third of Many!

((Apologies for the missing content, this transcript starts about the time that MSN messenger and Vent were being nasty and losing content from the RP before I could copy it down. Instead of weird unexplained breaks in the text, I’m going to make a summery of events.))

((Early morning goes back to meet Mk’rrrl in the temple finds him and Sesus, after a brief battle with Sesus follows Mk’rrrl to a abandoned warehouse where they learn to communicate and she learns his name is Progression of People’s Progress, and needs to be fixed, she hurries back to the temple but is caught by Kalthok late, after she comes out of the bath, since the fight with Sesus had ruined her boot, and she’d needed to clean her feet, all the while ignoring what apparently was a couple of people from the temple getting it on in there, writes what happened etc as part of a punishment. Then she gets sent to bed. She wakes up, and as part of her punishment from Kalthok has to deliver a note that Kalthok had dictated to her about how one of the participants of what she’d been ignoring was supposed to have extra chores. Said participant tries to convince her to do it because he’s a spoiled pretty boy. She doesn’t buy it and leaves him with his duties, leaving the meal area in the meantime.))

The day is quiet, as she heads into the corridor. She had lessons to deal with today, and the issue of being fed had been dealt with.

Early Morning looks about for where her instructors could be, or food for that matter, whichever she stumbles upon first, favoring one foot slightly due to the nasty bruising from Sesus’ attack, though the stiffness is fading as she uses it more.

The food was unfortunately in the hall she had just left. Given Victory’s new place of seating, returning would mean passing him by again, him and his ‘ladies man charms’. As for Kalthok, heading down the corridor, she would be able to see him pulling the ear of another ‘student’ as he heads into a cupboard, of all places.

With a very put upon and grumpy look upon realizing this she brightens instantly in somewhat sadistic glee at the sight of Kalthok tormenting someone else, apparently making her day a much more cheerier thing. Not knowing where or who she is to go to for her lesson, she calls out to him, headed in his direction, “Um, Kalthok? I delivered the letter, do you know who I’m supposed to be studying with or where they are so I can find them?” she asks, scratching her head in embarrassment about not knowing her way around but still bright and cheerful at the poor sod Kalthok has ahold of’s suffering.

Kalthok looks back at her from in the cupboard, in the process of tying the student to one of the tool racks as she looks in, the door still open. “Hmph. I suppose you should look in the crafting area. Blowhar-” he pauses, closing his eyes a moment before continuing. “His Lordship is not there at present. “

The look of confusion is plain on her face, “Sooo…. where do I go?”

Pointing in the direction of the main hall, he grunts, picking up another length of rope as he speaks. “Head out to the main hall. End of the long passage. The High Priest will probably have you do something.

Grinning, she nods, giving him a cheerful wave she calls out behind her, “Have fun!” as she leaves to take the directions that he gave her.

Chuckling, he returns to it, and she would be able to hear the words “Now. About the missing inks that turned up in my clothing?” The corridor is straight, and as said, she is without a god bombarding her ears as she enters the main crafter’s hall.

When she gets there she scans the area for the high priest, bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet as she does.

The high priest in question is overseeing the crafters at this point, and as soon as he sees her, he waves for her to approach.

She gives a happy little wave back and leaves off her bouncing to approach, “Good Morning!” she greets him with a smile before tilting her head with a questioning look, “I was told that you’d have work for me to do today? And maybe lessons?” she grins cheerfully.

“I do, actually. I need you to help with one of the apprentice’s normal chores. Running.” He chuckles openly, a jovial smile on his face, his robes stretched at the belly as he calls. “We need you to run messages, carry items, and so forth. Not a girl’s typical labor, but I think you look like you’re used to it.”

She nods, still smiling, “I used to be a courier.” she pauses slightly as if remembering something then shuffling it back in her memory for later things to do, “So what shall you have me do first?”

He beams as she prompts that, pointing to a group of men slowly dipping bronze into the cooling pits that lined both sides of the cathedral. Speaking now in a quieter tone, he instructs her. “Head over there first. We’ll need you to…” He speaks in a concise tone, giving her tasks for the day in detail.

The day does go quickly; whether she’s running water to the workers, helping to carry sand, copper bars, pewter, or more from place to place, even on occasion being given instruction to maintain different processes such as glassblowing, or scouring. By the time late afternoon approaches, a single small scroll would suddenly drop onto her shoulder, then the floor, tied with a small ribbon.

She blinks as the scroll hits her shoulder, then bends to pick it up before looking about to see who had dropped it there.

A single raven swoops about, seeming content to circle a moment, before flicking to the doorway with the smoke.

Blinking in surprise at the bird for a moment she opens the scroll that had been left.

“Let me know that you are well. A little bird told me you were with the god of shouting, glass, and bronze. – Raven”

Early Morning smiles happily at her surrogate mother’s concern. Though sighs when she realizes that she’ll have to finish whatever other small tasks there may be for her before she could send a response, the bird hadn’t stuck around after all.

The end of the day comes quickly, with a mass of people heading for the mess hall, the high priest patting her on the back as they head back. “You did well!” He beams at her again.

She smiles at him, “Thank you!” before hesitantly asking, “Um… could I have a few hours? I have to let my mother know that I am all right, see if my friend needs anything, and possibly get some new boots… I’m afraid I only have one now, and I wouldn’t want to walk on my bare feet for long with what is usually in the street.” she looks ruefully at her bare feet wiggling her toes.

“Your… mother? Certainly. I had been told you were an orphan…” He trails off, shaking his head to himself. “Of course, well… sandals, if that is alright?”

She smiles, “I am an orphan, I just call her that because she partially took me in when I was little, she’s the one that got me the job as a courier in the first place, taught me to read…” she trails off shrugging with a laugh, “I think sometimes calling her Mother, or Mama annoys her. Probably makes her feel old.” she continues, “I will take the sandals if you can spare them, otherwise I’m not unaccustomed to going barefoot, my feet will just need a washing after, it’s not like I’m going to be running across the field of gold or anything. Thank you for the offer though.” she grins good-naturedly.

He laughs at the comment of the field, nodding to her request. “Of course! Sandals do not cost much. Take what you need.”

She nods, “Um… where would I find them?”

Pointing back down the hall, he pauses, before taking her there manually himself. Finding a room filled with spare robes, blankets, sandals, even a spare wooden leg.

She gets a pair that vaguely fits her feet before bowing, and thanking him again, getting her pack before heading out to go see Raven first, Raven’s letter securely shoved down her front, and once again putting the robe away after leaving the temple, dumping the soiled cloth that she had wiped herself down with after the annoying dream in a metal rubbish bin that someone during the day had set the contents of on fire – a method the homeless of the city used at times if they had to cook, aka burn anything to make it edible.

The bin does indeed seem to react to the admission of a message; that is to say, it nearly explodes in a cascade of brilliant essence, the fire suddenly golden as it erupts to a near twelve feet in height, the smoke a brilliant silver color, forming shapes of miraculous scenes, forming columns of marching beasts as they ascend into the sky. The light of the fire is bright enough to have the street suddenly reeling, as though a flashbang had gone off, people calling out in sudden surprise, fear, and even elation as they try to clear their sight and hearing. All, that is, but for three other people who are standing in amazement only a scant thirty yards distant, one with a raven perched on his shoulder. Three, I might add, dragon-blooded, clad in jade armor of black-green, deep green, and blue respectively. Unfortunately for Morning, the faces of two are immediately recognizable, as one is the imperial but feminine features of a certain Cynis Evaja, the other next to her a scarred and almost exhausted-looking Tepet Rhalkim. The third, looking more baffled than anything, seems to continue staring at the smoke rather than looking down at the urchin.

Early Morning twitches, not even looking at the flash behind her as she’d thrown it while on the move, a look of pure annoyance and hatred of circumstance coming upon her face as she continues through the freaking out crowd, very quietly spewing words that would probably have had Raven giving her a light smack on the side of the head for uttering. Her shoulders hunch slightly in irritation as she pushes her way through the blind and screaming crowd who are likewise attempting to flee the scene.

“Hey, someone’s- IT’S HER!” is the sound that comes from Sesus’ mouth, the same time as Rhalkim seems to mumble “Why always so flashy, you damn theatrical ass. Hmm? Who’s who? What… HEY! THAT GIRL!” The third figure, however, only seems to utter “Strange. I thought I put in more effort on keeping it somewhat muted. Stop the shouting!” as he watches the other two of the same guard patrol racing their way forward as well, with the cries of people stumbling in the way seeming to block them. the shadows of an alleyway, however, a single dark hand reaches to grab the poor girl as she attempts to make her escape.

A single dark hand reaches to grab the poor girl as she attempts to make her escape, grabbing the hem of her shirt, and with a slight flash of essence, seeming to take the sight from her. It would take a moment to have the slight light of the room filter into view; a cellar window the only sign of the street nearby, as a pair of dark green jade boots stomp past. “I know she went this way!” comes the cry from Rhalkim.

Early Morning blinks her eyes and tries to get her surroundings, she hasn’t stopped though quietly voicing very bad language she’d picked up from a number of sources and had rated their scathingness by repeating them within Raven’s hearing when she was younger, using that rating system she picks the most hair raising now, interspersed with inane questions of why the heck things/people/events couldn’t leave her in peace, shut up, and be peaceful.

A soft slap across the back of her head comes suddenly from the darkness, a unique charm designed for that same purpose when teaching very basic verbal manners to orphan children, a melee attack with the bonus of being unavoidable, and dealing no damage to those it strikes. From that same darkness, Raven chides the princess of the ocean for her use of such verbatim. “I thought I gave you more manners than that. Can I ask how you did the extremely… showy… fire?”

Early Morning spins, blinking, trying to catch a sight of her mother, “Mama? I don’t know, I’ve been having really gross annoying dreams and woke up with nasty shit on me so I rubbed it off and then thought to dispose of it in the fire, then the piece of fucking shit bin exploded…” her language while starting to be self censored, hasn’t gotten all the way there yet, confusion and irritation plain on her face, as well as relief that Raven is there, and possibly can make everything sane again.

The charm is activated again, the back of Morning’s head suddenly smarting again, despite Raven stepping out of the shade in front of her, pouting in thought as she looks the girl over, an amazing lack of exalted obviousness to her as she steps around in the shade. “Something attacked your soul.” She mutters, looking the orphan up and down slowly. “It ate, but nothing that won’t heal… Ah. That’s…” She trails off, before petting the girl on her head gently, like a pet almost, tutting. “There’s a very perverted spirit out to get you. It’s going to get to learn about castration later. But in the meantime, let’s have a little story. About how you can apparently breathe water and use essence now?” The last part of her sentence is almost a question, but better left as a distinct request without room for refusal. Sitting herself down on her knees in front of the girl, Raven tuts over any small signs of dirt or injury on her, an immaculate vision of motherliness.

Early Morning pouts, looking put upon for an instant before lurching forward to hug her, “Sorry, Mama Raven, and I told you, a nasty dragonblood tried to drown me, then ran when it happened then the nasty harbor people tried to marry me off and I came to you to hide.” she pauses before continuing, “Then nasty dead things half squished your safe house.” Early Morning obediently replaces her fouler language with the word ‘nasty’ in hopes of keeping her mother happy and not getting smacked again.

Smiling, the exalt takes the dragon-blooded in her embrace, frowning as soon as her expression is no longer in sight of the young girl, not wishing to have the poor child given to a fit of worry. “Pervy spirit” indeed. Petting the girl’s head where she had been smacked, Raven speaks quietly. “It’s alright, Morning. You don’t need to worry about the safe-house. The Tri-Khan is angry, though. He heard that you exalted, and that could be trouble for you. He said something about how you have to be exiled” Pulling back, she puts her best ‘serious but unworried’ expression on, looking the girl in the eye. “So, we need to keep you hidden for now, don’t we? And the best way to start will be to keep you from having to keep fighting off everything around you, don’t you agree?”

Early Morning however looks to have gotten worried at her words to the point of near tearfulness, but she nods at that sniffling, “How are we going to d-do that? And why does he want to exile me? All I want is to be left alone by the nasty crazy people but they won’t stop, and I still have to replace my boot!” shifting the small pack from her back she takes the crumbling boot out of it and shows it to Raven.

“Oh shush. Chin up, you’re a dragon-blood now. You don’t want the other terrestrials to laugh at you now, do you?” Raven tuts as she physically reaches to lift EM’s chin, frowning seriously still, seeming oblivious to the relative ridiculousness of her phrase. “And that’s what I mean. The nasty crazy people won’t chase you if they can’t find you. Now let’s have a look at that boot, then I’ll see to what we need to do.”

Early Morning nods, wiping at her eyes and handing the boot over to Raven. “They haven’t laughed, just been scary, tried to drown me, marry me off, called me names, tried to hurt my friend, and apparently have hobby of destroying things I’m wearing.” Early Morning gets the annoyed look on her face again. “Oh! And attempted to adjust my face using a knife.” she pouts.

Nodding, Raven runs her hand over the boot, her Craft charms coming into effect, only a subtle effect however with limited essence expense, the leather and wood flowing at the command of the erstwhile mistress of their spirits, resealing into a worn, but eminently usable, twin to the other boot. Seeming somewhat happy at it’s repair, the boot is also more comfortable to wear now, no longer resenting it’s lack of attention – however, Raven has no way of knowing this unexpected benefit. Standing as she finishes, she nods to the girl, offering the footgear. “And that’s what I mean. The dragon-blooded around here are blustery types. All show, no strength. And you need to remember that. If they get angry, you need to show them that they are angrier. Then they’ll stop hurting you. Alright? As for marriage, just say you’re married to House Cynis. They have a habit of wedding people while completely drunk; they won’t be able to deny it. However!” The last word is much louder, intended to gather the girl’s attention again. “That is if-” Cut short by the cellar window opening, if Raven lacked more Temperance, she would indulge in a sweatdrop, as the third dragonblood pokes his head into the open window. “I thought I shouting…” He mutters, looking down into the room below.

Early Morning looks delighted at the repaired boot, but stays silent to listen to Raven, however her head whips around to stare at the third dragonblood that has just poked his head in, remaining quiet.

The dragonblood looks at Raven as the Solar turns, thankful that she had been spending double on her charms now, and able to feign a believable expression of concern. “I am sorry, prince of the earth!” Bowing in deep supplication, Raven’s performance of common-folk nature is flawless. “Is there anything my lord of the elements wishes of a humble girl or her daughter?” The dragonblood frowns, seeming to sense that he had intruded, and then shaking his head as the door to the cellar opened, despite the sudden mental cursing given by Raven against the pattern-spiders and their love of mischief. Looking at the intruding human as the man descends the stairs, the human involved seems suddenly surprised at the two women in his basement, his eyes clearly fearful, even to the relatively oblivious dragonblood that Sesus and Tepet had dragged with them on patrol.

Early Morning stays silent, though her muscles imperceptibly tense to run and evade should she need to, hoping that her mother can solve the situation.

The dragon-blood’s eyes rotate now to the girl who wasn’t prostrating herself at an exalt’s direct attention, more than enough in the room setting him on edge. “Yes. You can come out, with your… ‘daughter’. I need you both to answer some questions.” Not waiting for the girl to attack (potentially), the guard pulls from the window, using a simple elemental flare to signal his position to the other two. He’d been hearing of a rogue dragonblood. The human, however, seems taken aback as Raven begins using the same words she had taught Morning thoroughly not to use, grabbing at the latter’s clothing, and tugging towards the stairwell, snarling at the man in the way. “Move, mortal.” Her voice is tainted with black ice and death, the man’s face paling as he seems to fall over himself in an effort to clear her way.

Early Morning hurries up behind Raven, somewhat worried, wide eyed, and taken aback by Raven’s tone, though the language in this situation was perfectly understandable in Early Morning’s eyes. She decides to continue to keep her mouth shut and follow Raven’s lead, asking stupid questions now would probably earn her more than just a small harmless smack.

Raven, once within the house, calls out in a voice that seems to quiver with an unseen energy, her anima now coming into display as she turns to the girl she had ‘adopted’. “Sweetie?” Raven smiled too pleasantly as she looked at Morning intently. “I need you to hold on. This is going to involve a lot of moving quickly through things that won’t want me to run through them.”

Wide eyed EM nods but asks, “Er.. To you Mama?” After which she glomps on to Raven, once again looking like she’s going to be near tears with worry.

The blur of speed that comes after is partially mitigated by the Solar’s own enhanced Excellencies… and completed with Morning’s own abilities as well, lending some safety to being held as the Solar then leaps with a streaking blur to the wall, and then through, the Monkey Leap and Material Weakness charm combo leaving a path as solid as brittle wood for the errant Solar to take ‘flight’ through. Before too long, after smashing a line through the scenery, she stops, leaping into a nearby stairwell, and then around an edge to a quiet spot.

By this point EM’s shaking and there are tears of basically stress running down her face, too much has been happening in too short a time, she continues to keep a grip on Raven, not just because Raven told her to, but because she wants the comfort and Raven has always smelled comforting as well, even when Early Morning as a child was covered in mud and decided to snuggle next to Raven, knowing that the yelling would start as soon as she woke up…

Thankfully, the trio of Exalts on their tail do fall for the trail that Raven left, heading well past before they recognize the exceptionally simple falsehood in their combined arrogance, exhaustion, and obliviousness. As soon as the scene seems to become quieter, Raven takes a long, deep breath, taking refuge in the rare moment of peace lacking interruption by fate. Looking at the trembling child in her arms, she starts getting into her maternal mode again, sitting back against the wall, and just hugging her gently, cradling and petting her traumatized ward, murmuring soothing words to help make the pain and fear go away.

Early Morning eventually quiets, though she doesn’t let go of Raven she does look up, the tears and other evidence of her crying having been messily wiped off on Raven’s top unintentionally. “A-Are they gone?” she asks, looking back slightly.

“They’re gone.” Raven affirms, petting the girl still, her anima annoyingly still brilliant enough to merit staying in yet another basement, this one thankfully in a ruined, abandoned building free of occupancy. Indicating that the girl sits nearby with a pat on the dirt packed on the floor, Raven gives a sigh. “I guess I should help explain the glow, shouldn’t I?”

Early Morning nods, sitting where Raven hat patted, “And the busting through walls. That was pretty neat.” she gives Raven a weak smile. Reaching to her pack that had been squished between then she takes out her other boot, putting the pair on and wiggling her feet with a pleased look before shooting Raven a grin, “Thanks for fixing my boot too!”

“That’s alright. The least a chosen of Sol could do.” Raven knew about Morning’s late-night reading sessions, and waited to see if the statement had any effect. It was beginning to get cold, even with the light of her anima in the room, the lack of competition from the sun in the sky was noticeable. It had been a time since the pursuit had been called off.

Early Morning blinks once before the references in her reading, especially her ‘research’ into various artifacts catches up with her, “Sol? Oh! You’re a Solar then…?” Early Morning looks mainly confused at this, “Why didn’t I know before? Unless this is recent, otherwise I wish I had your skill at hiding my exaltation.” Early Morning smiles ruefully. “Seems all sundry knows about mine.”

“It isn’t. And I am. A night-caste, to be exact.” She smiles at the girl quietly, as though admitting that she had special underwear to a daughter by birth, a slight blush to her features. “We are lucky enough to be able to hide our powers if needed. But it is very taxing. Exhausting, even.” She lets the oversimple explanation stay for now. Time to explain about essence and motes later if it was needed. “It’s how I’ve been able to keep on top of half of you little rascals!” She smiles, reaching out to brush a hand over the girl’s forehead. “Unlike you. You were chosen by water, I heard?”

Early Morning chuckles, but then sobers and nods, “If my breathing water is any indication, I doubt anything else would have helped with drowning, he’d stuck my feet into the stone of the dock so I couldn’t get up to get air even if I tried without detaching my feet.” She shudders slightly in remembered unpleasantness.

The woman frowns, nodding after a time as she seems to contemplate what had occurred. “He wasn’t very kind to you. But in a way, if he hadn’t, you wouldn’t have had your Second Breath. Which, though a pain now, will be of great benefit to you”.

Early Morning sighs, “It’s not like I’ve been able to do anything interesting since then, mostly I’ve just been trying to dodge all the crazies that have cropped up and suddenly developed an interest due to who knows what, and I keep running into him, though happily there are things that distract him, he obviously doesn’t mean me any good.” She looks at Raven, “Soo… my turn to ask something…” she grins, “Since you were already a Solar when you found me does that mean that you’re older than you look? Really old? Should I call you granny instead of Mama?” she suddenly teases.

Raven’s eyes narrow, her expression suddenly distinctly cattish. Without moving, she uses her charm to ‘tap’ the back of the dragon-blood’s head once more, before answering. “Not yet, you can’t. I was chosen only a scant 200 or so years ago; I’m a young exalt by those standards. But the circle has been completed. We have a lot of work to do even now.” She looks at the fading light, before helping the girl back up once more.

Early Morning lets out a light hearted laugh, not minding the tap. “So, how do you intend on hiding me? It seems that no matter where I go the minute I step out another crazy rounds on me. The safe-house got squished, then there’s the temple I’ve been staying at these past couple days, but not being able to leave such a small area…” she makes a face, “What do you think I should do Mama Raven? If I’m to go back to the temple it should be relatively soon, I already had to write about why I was late coming back last night, and I certainly can’t let out a whisper about this.”

Nodding, Raven gives a sly smirk. “You know, perhaps the best place to hide would be to arrange a marriage to someone old and grody. You know, an old man who wouldn’t know what to do with a girl other than drool on her.” She laughs. “Granny indeed. We can’t hide you in the streets, and not knowing your powers will only make things much worse for you. In the end, I think we’ll have to make some form of basic arrangement for your legitimate safe-keeping.”

Early Morning shoots Raven a look of disgust and disbelief at her first suggestion, but calms once it’s obvious that it was in jest. “And how are we going to do that? Without marrying me of course.” Early Morning gets a stubborn look at this that says very plainly that she won’t budge on the matter of matrimony.

“Aww. But you’d look so cute next to a prune in marriage robes!” Raven snickers, the image elicting more amusement in her mind than the insult had removed. “No matter. Leave the planning to Momma Raven. I’m sure there’s no chance of a member of the Immaculates not being able to accept a ‘generous donation’ in exchange for quick finding of a new name and family for you.”

Early Morning makes gagging noises at the comment, before nodding at the last, “So what do I do now?”

Raven smiles at the girl with a slight motherly expression, taking the time to start a small fire in the corner, tending to it carefully. “Sit tight at the temple for now. I’ll have to come visit you tonight, though. Naughty spirits shouldn’t get their way.”

Early Morning nods and smiles at that, “That would get one annoyance out of the way.” she pauses a moment, “Do you think I should risk visiting Production to see if he’s alright? I’m afraid he’ll get bored standing in a corner all the time.” she looks concerned at this.

She nods slowly, before looking very pointedly at the girl. “Who is Production, again?” She asks simply, not with any major suspicion at yet. She had simply been left out of the name’s being updated. Early Morning gives a brief description, “Really tall, looks like a suit of armor, has a speech impediment where you can’t understand most everything he says, can’t write understandably, nice, has a hollow in his chest where he keeps trinkets…”

Raven looks at the girl very slow, thoughtful look, something unsettling in her gaze as she does. “Morning, dear. Do you think he’d mind meeting me?”

She blinks, then shakes her head, “I wouldn’t think so, after the safe-house got squished we were going to go and tell you about it but you had company over and the very scary man that can’t take corners well was in the window so we decided to sleep up against the bakery with the other streetrats instead. “

Raven goes quiet; tilting her head. “What scary man did you see, Morning?” She asks quietly, not trying to scare the poor child; after all, she’d been through enough already.

Early Morning briefly describes the little she had seen of the deathknight ending in how she had come across him, ”...And it was late and he was yelling and glowing blue and chased me! So I ran and kept running, then took a sharp corner and BAM!” she does a little clap to illustrate the impact, “He hit the wall face first.” she looks pleased at this, but finishes her explanation, “But I kept running till I was sure I lost him and I hid.”

Raven nods, stirring the fire with a thin stick as she seems to listen, though her responses show she’s lost in thought. As the story ends, she looks up with a motherly smile again, gesturing for the girl to take her lap once more, something saddened flicking behind her eyes as she does, for a moment looking almost as lost as if she were the one out of her depth in a strange world of newfound powers.

Early Morning sits in her lap, and hugs her adopted mother tightly, trying to comfort her to get that look off her face. “So, do you want me to take you to where Production is before it gets too dark?” she asks, trying to steer the conversation away from the subject that had apparently disturbed Raven.

Raven chuckles, lifting her head so that she can rest her chin on the girl’s scalp, putting both arms around her and giving a sigh. “You’ve grown so quickly. I barely had time to notice…” She trails off, leaving a minute or three of silence before continuing. “Alright, then. Let’s see Production.”

Early Morning laughs in turn, giving Raven another squeeze, “Don’t worry, you’ll always be Momma to me.” she grins at Raven warmly before standing and offering a hand to help Raven up. Intending on leading Raven to the warehouse where Production was staying.

Raven does follow into the sapphire-black night air, her anima now having reduced back to something her habitual cowl covered. In the sky, the five maidens watch with omnipresent eyes, reflected in the light of Luna, and the single owl watching the pair as they left their erstwhile hideaway. In the distance, the guards on the wall shuffled in their habitual salute to the Tri-Khan, done once an hour on the hour.

Early Morning leads until she’s at the door of the warehouse, giving a brief knock and sticking her head in cheerfully, scanning the room for her friend.

Production seems to have not moved in the time that she had been gone, a slight amount of dust now having collected on his(?) frame, giving him a slight discoloring, and a slight cloud as his head moves to regard her intrusion into their shared hiding-hole. With a slight clicking whirr, he flexes his fingers, rotating a good number of his joints, displacing more of the stuff over his frame.

Early Morning starts forward, approaching him and tisking at the dust, brushing off what was in reach and doing small hops to try and reach what wasn’t. As she does, she indicates behind her where Raven should be with a tilt of her head, “Production! You really should move around a bit, don’t you get bored just standing there? Anyway Momma Raven wanted to see where you were and stuff before I have to go to the temple again, hopefully soon enough that I won’t have to write another essay, makes my hand cramp it does.” she chatters amicably.

Production gives a grinding whirr again, this time giving a distinct electronic series of buzzes and pops, almost like a modem trying to talk. After several seconds of this, he finally manages to produce a “grrrrr-k’tchk’aaaagh”, as he reaches to give his human-seeming friend a hug. As the last of the dust falls, he regards Raven, at first curiously, then with a sudden reaction of almost concern that Raven doesn’t seem to mimic, he begins to growl heavily, a slight motion on his arm revealing a buzz-saw that began to spin dangerously. Raven, on the other hand, seems at a loss. “What… is it?”

Early Morning hugs Production back but at his sudden threatening posture towards her adopted mother scolds, “Production, stop that! Momma Raven is nice!” with a frown. She turns to Raven, “Production is production. He’s been really nice and helped lots, especially when that Cynis Broken Wheel person wanted to cut my face up. I don’t know why he’s acting hostile to you, I only just figured out a way to communicate with him clearly last night, his voice is messed up and I can’t understand his writing so I just intone sounds and he indicates which one he wants to use, and I write it down and repeat it to him before doing it again. It takes a really long time.”

Production seems decidedly against the idea of trusting the solar, watching her as though a cat who had just seen the bull mastiff in the next room enjoying a chewtoy. The growls do subside, however, but it isn’t to the extent that Raven seems eager to approach. “Well, hello then Production. Thank you for helping Morning out.”

Raven, after having spent some time deciding that Production seemed less than inclined for company, finally gives a smile to the young dragon blood. “So. I guess if I need to find you in a hurry, this should be somewhere for me to look?” She doesn’t comment on the girl’s having found what seemed to be a living suit of armor; it seemed attached enough to the girl, and protective at that.

“Either here or at the temple. Other than getting waylaid by crazies and having apparently ordinary things blow up spectacularly in my face and attracting them.” Early Morning grumbles this last bit but grins at her mother, then looks at the hardly visible light coming into the warehouse. “I’m going to have to run – don’t want to be late getting back again, nor miss breakfast tomorrow morning as I did…” she pauses thinking, “Most every meal I have today. Stupid crazy psychotic Dragon-bloods….” she pouts at the thought of the lost potential food.

Chuckling at the girl’s admission, Raven considers something, a serious expression to her eye. Smiling, she looks at her daughter with a mothering expression. “Well, don’t worry about the dragon-blooded. We’ll save you some hassles with that, even if we have to arrange some fake marriage or some-such for it. Alright?” Of the group, Production seems the most disturbed by this prospect, his body language happily telling EM that he had a problem with that statement.

Early Morning winces, “Err… maybe something where I wouldn’t have to act or make things up, I really don’t do that well…” she scratches the back of her head uncomfortable with the idea slightly and a bit put off of it by Production’s reaction. “At least you’re getting rid of the darn pervert Spirit though, that’s one hassle dealt with, or soon to be.”

Raven smiles, chuckling at the comment as she reaches to ruffle the girl’s hair. “If you need me, you know where you can find me. If I’m not there… just wait at the shop.”

Early Morning grins at Raven before turning to Production, “I’ve got to go back to the Temple alright? I’ll try to come back soon, was intending on talking with you more but I ran out of time because the crazies decided to make themselves known. Since they are both close enough, Early Morning wraps an arm around each, giving both a half hug before disengaging and fishing her robe out of her pack, putting it on over her leather outfit. “You two take care of yourselves alright? Don’t let the crazies get to you through means of collateral targeting when they’re after me to irritate me more.” with a grin she sticks her tongue out, making a face uncomplimentary about the character of those crazies.

Production gives a grinding, halting half-whir as she starts to head out, the solar nearby murmuring something back in exchange, at a volume below audible levels. Neither does anything to stop her from going, and if she presses out into the night air, she’d find that the typical desert night’s chill has already settled in, biting enough to be uncomfortable to anyone. In the darkness, a single owl swoops overhead, clutching an unfortunate rat in it’s talons. In it’s wake, EM would be able to spot a clumsier ‘child’ on a roof, making his way into a shop’s attic.

Early Morning shakes her head at the kid on the roof, before heading towards the temple, glad of the robe’s warmth, what little it offers. Critiquing the kid could get them caught after all. picking up the hems of the robe she hurries towards the temple, hoping that it wasn’t past the closing time that had never been fully explained or told to her.

As she rounds to the temple itself, the doors at the entrance are being slowly shut, the two monks at the door seeming disinterested in conversation, and eager to let her within. Something, however… seems amiss. A subtle scent in the air, perhaps? That’s probably it. Actually, after a time, she can smell it. Something akin to a cross between a dog scenting a tree and a rancid orange.

Making a face at the stink, she takes the collar of her robe and puts it over her nose, continuing onwards, it was perhaps too late to hope for dinner but she could at least get some good sleep in.

As she enters the main portion of the temple, the doors behind her close, ominously, a sudden rushing of wind entering the room as the light gets dragged with it. In the air, the scent increases, now heavily laden with a musty, sweaty scent, the odor of arousal amplified to an uncomfortable degree. In all the corners of the room, it seems apparent that something is growing, as the waters of the multiple forges begins to rise and bubble.

Early Morning’s eyes widen as her face grimaces from behind her collar. With a cry of, “Argh! Disgusting! she spins in place, trying to grapple the doors to leave back the way she came, making a guess immediately about what is causing the disturbance.

Within the confines of the suddenly darkened room, a faint voice carries, echoed from the myriad implements of creation. Unlike the spirit from her sleep, the voice is female, too pleasant, and filled with both promise and malice beyond description, lilting, musical. “So. The sparrow has returned to it’s glass-enclosed home. A shame that you won’t be able to take nest, without us… furnishing you with eggs. Get her, my precious darling!”

As ‘she’ finishes, there is a sudden rush of air beside her, as a slimy length of rubbery flesh bursts by, almost striking her in a rough attempt to grab her, leaving a trail of something almost liquid behind it.

“Eww… What the fuck is wrong with you?! That’s gross!” Early morning shrieks as she backpedals, looking for another exit.

The two exits from the room, short of making one on yourself, are the main double doors, and the single small monastic door that if it were not for the absence of light in the room, would be visible within a few yards of her. As soon as the first strike slides past her, a series of rapid returns come from all angles; the next rubbery limb striking past coated in a thin spray of water as well as the substance inimical to semen. Through it all, the voice chimes. “Nothing is wrong! Sit back and enjoy yourself. It will all be over soon!”

Early Morning, if she can’t get the main doors open strafes to the side to try the smaller door, chanting like a mantra, “C’mon open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open. Open…...”

Sensing, rather than seeing the attack from behind, she is able to avoid the tentacle as it slams into the wall immediately next to her; the impact is solid, giving a slight shaking to the floor beneath her feet at the same time. Whipping back, the beast gives a solid, screaming roar that temporarily drowns out the laughing female. “Stop panicking, you’ll agitate it to hurt you! Take slow, deep breaths!”

“Go drown yourself in the harbor!” twitching she still tries the door, trying to get it open.

“Well, THAT isn’t very nice!” The female sounds insulted suddenly, starting a tirade as the creature continues barraging her. “I’m here to make sure it isn’t to hurt you as it leaves you with young! Mortals these days!” Ignoring the shouting female, a shadow appears at the far wall, unable to see into the magical darkness given to the area.

“Both you and it go now and leave me alone!” Early Morning wonders why the doors aren’t opening after she’s been tugging on them so long. Early Morning starts swearing and pounding on them as well, maybe if they can’t be opened from the inside maybe someone can from the outside?

Striking the door, wall, and floor reverberates through the room with enough sound to drown out the loud chiming of breaking glass as something lands in the room, orichalcum and soulsteel eyes panning the darkness with mechanical precision. As the female screeches, the tentacles suddenly cease their motions, instead coiling in the air around her. “Very well then! If you want to be so difficult, then you shall have your difficulty! Take her, my pet!”

With a cry of alarm Early Morning spins, leaving the door to try and dodge whatever it is the rest of the ‘pet’ is.

With amazing alacrity, the sudden bombardment of tentacles around and at her is completely avoided, the swinging from below, the strikes from the sides, driving from above, all being somehow unable to land on or around her. As she moves, however, something heavy lands on her back – though immediately after it does, the same suddenly grabs at one tentacle swaying too close, giving a slight flash of moonsilver in the thin light given by the broken window, injuring the ‘tentacle beast’ to the sound it suddenly makes.

Early Morning lets out a cry as whatever it is falls on her back, her hands coming up in surprise as she turns her head slightly while still trying to dodge the tentacles to see what the heck it is.

The tentacles seem to be repelled for a time, though she would be able to tell it’s not from her own sense of survival, as her slightly tired limbs don’t move to counter the strikes; almost as though something else were doing it for her. With a sudden lurch, the object on her back would lift her lightly, cold metallic snares encircling her legs without pause.

Letting out another cry she twists, attempting to see whatever it is that has her, or things if the thing on her back and the thing around her ankles are two separate entities.

The object on her back, lifting her, has a series of long spider-like legs, each extending far over her and around her, almost like a cage. A set of mechanical eyes regard her, spider-like, as she tries to find them.

Jagane: Seeing as it’s keeping the perverted thing away from her she stares up at it, with a somewhat nervous, friendly demeanor. “H-hello, who are you? Wh-what are you?” she hopes it’s friendly.

As she seems to ask it a direct question, it seems to suddenly smile, all eight of it’s eyes closing in a clear expression of pleasure, before it begins to concentrate on creating a series of speaker arrays along it’s back. Being so distracted, it fails to notice a coil of tentacle running it’s way around the both of them, suddenly grabbing the pair in a tight bind.

Early Morning shrieks as the tentacle grabs them, “Talk later, get away from bad perverted monster thing now?!” she suggests in a panicked tone.

As she and the creature suddenly break from their relatively distracted state, the tentacles continue their winding, the beast finding purchase now that she and the thing had been distracted enough to be secured. Much likely to the poor girl’s dismay, the tentacles begin to worm smaller brothers to the junctions of her clothing, seeking out the warmer parts of her body.

Jagane: Instead of dodging this time she attacks, after all, it already had her, she would have to inflict damage on it most likely to get away, not to mention getting it out of her clothing, she was happy for the leather that she wore under her robes.

Despite her better efforts, the tentacles remain locked firmly in place, her fingers sliding on the viscous fluids coating them, giving a malodorous sensation to her grip. As they begin to work their insidious way into the waist of her pants, the female screeches out now. “See! It’s better if you do not fight! Relax, let them take you. Let the pleasure overwhelm you!” Oblivious to her struggles, the ‘voice’ seems to think that she has given in.

Early Morning tries again, getting even more panicked, “Get away! Get away! Getaway! Getaway! GetawayGetawaygetawaygetaway!”

With a horrendous sensation of flesh ripping, Morning is suddenly able to drive her fingers into the rubbery flesh, ripping into the limb’s inner… ‘texture’ with only the merest efforts. As it is injured, the strands within her clothing suddenly go wild, grabbing purchase on, writhing over, and sliding between different parts of her anatomy as though electric current had motivated them.

Early Morning, though disgusted by the movement is heartened by this apparent negative reaction to pain, doubling her efforts along this line, glancing up at her apparent ‘help’ to see what it was occupied with, besides holding her that is.

With the assistance of the metal ‘spider’ on her back, she is able to finally rip the invasive tentacle from her garments with a minimal amount of tearing, leaving her only mildly violated. As the tentacle releases her, the expectation of landing on the floor is dashed, the clicking of multiple metal legs instead breaking her fall. With a whirring, the arms suddenly flick past her face to the door, straining with the effort of the pride of the first age to force it open.

Grinning and attempting to evade whatever the tentacle thing will throw at her while still being held by the ‘spider’ she comments, “Yes, back out is good! Let’s slam the door on it when we do get out…” she rambles on along this line consistently, biting down her panic.

In a clear soprano tone, the spider suddenly warbles at her, the legs still frantically, almost comically, pulling at the door. It gains an inch, before the portal simply swings shut again once more. “Whydon’tyouusethepowersyouweregiven?It’safterallinsidewateryoushouldhavethewaterdosomethingtoityou’rea waterterrestrialinthislifeafterallbutdon’ttakethatasanorderjustalittleheptupafterhavingtodivetothe attack!”

Early Morning looks sheepish before telling it, “I’ll try, I don’t think I’ve ever used the power consciously though, so this will be an interesting experiment!” her eyes narrow and she focuses in on manipulating the tentacle thing, or more accurately the water within it, preferably to do the most damage like exploding messily, or at least ripping any liquid that it had for blood out of it.

“Thatcouldbegood;aslongasyoucandistractitIshouldbeabletoopenthe… erm.”

With a sudden explosive noise, the pair of ‘spirits’, the tentacle beast and the female voice, suddenly become engulfed in the forge waters. While it would have done more injury had the water been heated, the sudden blowup causes the pair of invaders to be inundated with geyser-like force. At the same time, the mechanical thing mutters to itself.

“WellifitwantstobeasmartassI’llshowitwhatwedidtotheSultanofSearingStonehehehehehehehe…” With a sudden lurch towards the door, the metal limbs work furiously at chiselling the door inwards, to thin it. Almost immediately, the pair are hurtled inwards, bashing past the tentacle within with the combined force of both parties wrestling for the door.

“Gah!” Early Morning cries out wide eyed as she and the ‘spider’ are thrown backwards, looking to see what applied some of that force from the other side of the door and watching out for the tentacle thing in case it decides to attack again.

A single tentacle is crushed beneath the door as the pair enter, the spider-thing putting through a series of acrobatics that propel them both down the corridor at near-breakneck speed, a single limb at a time holding them from collision with the ground. “EATTHATYOUBIPOLARSONOFABITCHHAHAHAHAHAHA!” The spider, in turn, is suddenly seeming to be overcome with mania, several of the limbs lifting to give the finger to the ‘pair’ behind them in rapid succession. As they grind to a sudden halt, two things would become obvious to a very vertigo-struck EM. That she is now deep inside the monastery, and that the god of copper and glass is currently hunched, upside-down, at the end of the corridor, sitting on the ceiling behind a coordinated front of the monks and students, also likewise on the ceiling by some form of miracle…

Early Morning blinks slowly, pointing back they way they’d come, somewhat dazed sounding due to the excitement and it being late without her having eaten that day, “Err… There’s nasty stuff back that way we just ran from and the door was stuck?” she doesn’t speak very loudly though.

The horde of priests charge past ‘above her’ as her sense of balance finally catches up, shouting varying battle-cries of defense as they do. Suddenly becoming aware of her position, being the one upside-down, the spider-thing speaks in a sotto-voce quickly. “Sowhichwaydoweheadbossafterallyouneededtocomethiswayforsomedaringescaperight?”

“Well it looks like we’ve already pulled off the escape part, and those down there look a lot more daring than I ever felt… I’m kind of a little dizzy from being upside down though. So what’s your name?” she smiles still a little nervous from the attack they’ve just been through. “Thanks for the help too!”

Ducking hard to the side through an open door, the mechanical thing rights her within (ironically) her own room, the frames from her work the previous day laid casually on her bed. In a near-whisper only raised to help counter the shouting from the spirits and priests, the spider begins it’s spiel, coughing politely if quickly to begin. “BeautifuldaughterofthemostradientmakerDawn’sVisageIamTheServantIntendedPurposefullyandExplicitlyforthe RecoveryandProtectionofExalted-TendedSpiritsOr’spider’forshortsinceitcoversnearlytwothirdsofmyname butthismustbearushI’lltrytocoverthebasesinordertoletyouabsorbitinyourowntimeIamacreationfromthefirstagea livingsentientbeingruningonfluidcircuitsofquicksilverandstarmetalfortheexpresspurposeoftrackingdownthe highersoulofmymaker’sdaughter’Dawn’sVisage’shouldtheunfortunateeventcomeaboutthatwouldendherlifeThen thedragonbloodedroseupandkilledyouactivatingmeintheprocessI’vesearchedforaveryverylongtimebutafter makingsomechanceencounterswhichindicatedthatasurpriseTerrestrialexaltationwasintheareaImanagedtosnagon tothesignalyourspiritleavesinthefatewebsthoughIshouldadmititwashardertodothanitshouldhavebeenassomeone hastakenactivemeasurestoseveryoufromtheloomoffatewhichisintriguingSOdon’tbetoowierdedoutifIcallyou’Dawny’ orsimilarit’sonlyapetnameandtocoverthateventualityIthinkI’llcallyoubossifthat’sokaybyyouboss?AnywayIshould mentionIamrelativelymaintenance-freeincaseyou’rewonderingaboutmaterialsexpensewhileIprattle butIwouldappreciatehavingsometimetoexpedientlymakemywaytoYuShaninordertocollectonmyresevoirsofQuintessence butthatshouldn’tbetoomuchtroubleevenifthereisthecomplicationofmynowbeingfusedintopartofyourbodyShoulda mentionedthatsorryI’mnowapartofyoubutdon’tworry!I’llkeepsilentwhileyou’reondatesorgettingthenastyon withtheguyofyourdreamsorgirl!Idon’tjudgeOrspiritifoneshouldbesoluckyyouknowitwouldn’tbetoofaroutofthe familygenesforyourpastlifeoncesawyourmothergettingitonwithallsortsjusttowhetherappetitemanamenangerie thatCynisherselfwouldhaveblushedforseeing” The entire spiel takes no longer than several seconds to erupt, an explosion of sound.

Early Morning sits there quietly for a few moments before saying, “Soo… I was apparently this Dawn’s Visage person in a past life and somehow you’re fused into me?...” she looks herself over, “Where? I can’t really tell…” she blinks at it. “And ‘boss’ works, as well as whatever else you want to call me, Spider.”

“WOOTWellI’lljustgobacktobeingsilentlittlemesoyouwon’tneedtoworryaboutitandI’vegottheabilitytoneutralise painonentrytoyourbodycurrentlyI’mhookedintowhatpassesforsomethinglikealiveratthemomentifIdidn’thaveaccess tothosecharmsyou’dbeinblindingagonyrightnowsojustbegladIcanstopbleedingandinternaltraumaeasilyotherwise WHEWthat’dbeamesswithbloodandgutsalloverthefloorhehBYTHEWAYyouwon’tneedtoworryaboutthepartsItookoutof youyouweren’tgon’nausethemanyway.” Snapping all of it’s limbs into itself, SPIDER suddenly burrows beneath the skin of her back, instead now becoming a high-pitched rapid speech inside her eardrums.

Twitching slightly, Early Morning reaches back behind her to feel and, cranes her neck to see evidence of where it entered a bit nervously, “Took ‘parts’ out? Like what? And you can go to YuShan whenever you think it’s best…”

“Ohlikethisorthis…” trailing off, various mechanical limbs extend from her back, over her shoulder, each holding a small, bloody, severed organ in it’s grasp, before they retract once more. “Andsurethingjustsolongasyoudon’tmindthesuddenshiftthroughtheplanarbarriers…”

“I don’t know what that would entail…” she makes an ‘ick’ face, “Though you don’t need to show me them again I don’t think… As long as you’re sure I don’t need them…”

“MOSTLYsurenowthenaboutthebigspiritsincethepriestsaregoingtoatbestholditoffuntilthewatcharriveIadvise sittingtightuntilthewatchdisposeofitafterallbeingTerrestrialthey’llsubmittoyourpreviousincarnationof exaltedbirth!”

“Um… I don’t think so, most terrestrials seem to make a habit of being nasty or crazy when I’m in the vicinity. And I doubt a past life from all the way back then would really change things. Mostly I run, hide, and cooperate and hope that I don’t get that much of a beating for my troubles…”

It pauses, noticeably, before piping out again. “DoyouthinksobecauseI’msurethey’dacceptyourbeingdragonbloodedasbeingsomethingakintotheirlevelafterallthe Tri-Khansaidallwhoexaltinhiscityareequalaslongastheypresentthemselvestohim…”

She sighs, “I’ve been chased around so much that I haven’t had the chance to do anything of the sort, it hasn’t really crossed my mind, after all I wasn’t expecting to exalt, I was just some diseased orphan street brat that momma found under a pile of trash. So far I don’t think I’ve had a single day of peace to get my head on straight let alone think enough to research proper channels, and the dragonblooded are making a big deal over me for some reason and won’t leave me alone, so momma said it was best that I stay hidden or at least out of sight…”

“OHThatyoudon’tneedtoworryaboutyoureallyareafreakoffatesinceyouwereneverscheduledtoexaltbutdon’tyouworry it’sallgoingaccordingtoAplanevenifnotthegreatdivineonebutyouhaven’tpresentedyourself?Thatwon’tdo!Tothe TriKhanpronto” The mechanical limbs now extend once more, propelling her back up the battle-strewn corridor without so much as a “may I”. As it does, the voice continues in her ears.

“Ofcoursetherearesomepeoplewhowanttoseeyouaboutthatbutdon’tworryI’llpointemoutwhenthetime’sright!”

“I-If you’re sure?” she begins walking, hoping it would go back into her back, but then objects even as she’s going along, “But I’ll get in trouble for being late again, and Momma said she would be coming by tonight secretly to get rid of whatever was spiritually munching on me, and I’ll miss breakfast!” she gets a pouty look but doesn’t slow despite her objections.

“Youmeanthepervertedspiritcurrentlyinthemainchapel?I’msorrybutyourmomma…” Trailing off as it rockets the both of them into the main chamber, with good reason, the pair would be able to see the form of Raven once again locked in battle against something; in this case, the many-tentacled thing, from the center of which seems to be suspended the puritan figure of a small girl-child, locked in angry gaze with the solar. Raven, for the amazing part, exhibits no sign of radient essence or anima, seeming just to be able to use her staff and martial arts skills to hold the beast at bay. As they do, the small form of her writing instructor can be seen, leaping impressively back and forth with a flash of his own essence; in this case, flame wrapping around his fists and feet.

Early Morning stares openly, “Well it looks like she’s here then…” Early Morning trails off before continuing, “Er… should I let her know I’m alright? And where we’re going, that is if they don’t need any help…” Early Morning looks concerned, idly wondering how Kalthok and Raven would get along, if they weren’t fighting a perverted tentacle monster, though that did seem to be a team exercise…

“ThatisunusualwhytheMalfeansissheabletofightoffaspiritunless… whoah.” SPIDER seems to come to a sudden realisation, as Raven looks over in sudden recognition. Locking eyes with the girl, she calls out to her daughter. “Hand please!”

“Looks like we’re helping.” Early Morning states, jogging up to her mother’s position, “Anything particular you want me to do Momma or should I just beat on it?” she calls to Raven as she approaches.

Glancing back at her daughter as the weaves in amongst the mass of striking tentacles, Raven shouts out a series of simple commands. “Try to distract it, or if you can, hit the kid in the middle! It’s a parasite! A spirit that feeds of betrayal and disgust!” Swinging through the midst of the counter-attack, Raven begins to gather the tentacles as quickly as she can, leaping nimbly past the ancient form of the writing instructor.

“I’ll try – but this thing that it has is absolutely disgusting!” Early Morning tries to clamp down on her disgust, focusing on avoiding tentacles in a bid to get in close so that she can target the child like spirit, gritting her teeth.

The tentacles go wide across her, distracted completely between Kalthok and Raven, and unable to appropriately strike the advancing girl in it’s split attentions. Letting out a sorrowful cry, she begins to wail now. “Noo! It’s stuck on me too! You have to help me!” Her eyes tearing, she looks at Early Morning in devastation.

Eyes narrowing Early Morning moves in close before balling a fist and attempting to strike the child-spirit-thing, after all there’d been times when it had been necessary to beat the ever loving crap out of some ‘sibling’ of hers under Raven that had suddenly had a ‘change of heart’ and professed the need for going to the guards about Raven’s little family. She and the older children/spies/thieves tended to split such duty between them when it was necessary. There was another promised beating added onto it if they went to Raven about what was going on as well. The older ones didn’t want to get in trouble if Raven was moved by the would be snitch’s tears after all.

The blow lands solidly, the impact ‘smack’ sound resounding through the chamber as the girl’s eyes widen in pain and shock, her stomach clenching too little, too late, as the dragonblood child gives her a gift of aggressive physical negotiations. Her mouth opens in a gape, showing that trying to breathe for a second after the strike is impossible, before with crying rage, she begins to direct the tentacles away from her other two assailants to levy them onto the painful annoyance in front of her.

Early Morning keeps focus on beating the stupid thing that had been raring to have the tentacle beast assault her not too long before, her pent up frustration fueling her attacks as she keeps an eye out for the tentacles.

The tentacles flailing about her seem to have a limited willingness to strike so close to itself, giving EM a chance to avoid direct connection. As the girl takes yet another blow, she begins to weep however, looking both furious and upset.

“If you don’t like getting hurt then leave!” Early Morning growls at it, still swinging. “You put yourself in this situation, you take yourself out of it if you don’t want a beating, crying doesn’t get you anything! It’s your own damn fault you’re getting beaten on!” (Six successes for dodge, three for the smackdown)

Lifting herself in a suddenly informative stroke, EM would be able to get a brief image that the dress does contain legs; a pair of girl’s legs, both severed and stapled to the inside of her clothing in a rather Abyssal display. The tentacle mass, beginning in her body, seems to disappear a short distance beneath her, in fact into a single wooden ‘bucket’ of water. The lift, as suddenly giving of realization as it was, does achieve one thing. In her sudden ability to fly, the girl lifts from Early Morning’s reach quickly. As she does, she shrieks. “I hate you! ALL of you! I just wanted to play!” Giving a gruesome snarl, she throws her head back, straining suddenly as though constipated. Running back towards Morning, Raven makes a grab for her daughter’s arm. “Run.” Breathless but without urgency, the solar tries to spin EM towards the door, as her writing instructor seems to suddenly drop into a meditative stance.

Obeying her mother, she darts in the direction that Raven had pointed her, running through the door but glancing over her shoulder to see if her mother was following, and what Kalthok was doing while making the dash.

Kalthok gives no indication of his reasoning as he remains seated, though both she and Raven make good light from the main chamber as the creature begins to erupt the thick fluid from each of it’s tentacles in a spray of disturbing nature. Outside, free of the blast, both women would find themselves confronted by a selection of aggressive-looking dragon-blooded guard. One of which, to EM’s dismay, would be Rhalkim, including the triple-scar from being clawed by a lunar.

Pausing at the sight of the dragon-blooded there, Early Morning indicates with her thumb back the direction that they came, “Uh, nasty spirit back there in temple?” she informs them wondering what had messed Rhalkim’s face but assuming that he’d probably done something nuts like rub his face against a tree branch or something, you never could tell with the insane….

Rhalkim seems to start at seeing her, before the remaining seven guard of their partial claw head towards the doorway. Seeing the spirit’s eruption, several seem to pause in either disbelief or disgust, before of all people the males begin to dive inwards at the spirit, giving the all-too-familiar cries of “For the Empire!” “Dragon’s honor!” and similar as they brave their relatively harmless, but disturbed foe. Rhalkim doesn’t pause long at the sight of his teammates headed inwards, with a sneer at the girl, he makes his own way into the night-held chamber as well.

Dodging to the side so that they can pass easier, after the lot is past she calls after them, “It’s really gross!” before looking to her mother and then herself with an ‘ick’ expression over the bit that they got on them. “Ewww…”

Raven sighs, looking down at herself with annoyance. “At least it’ll come out with a bit of vinegar… Are you alright? I take it that was the spirit from your dreams?”

“Yeah, I think so. The kid above it was new though…” She blinks up at her mother, “Are you alright Momma?” she idly wonders what Spider is up to inside of her, and how much it ripped the back of her robe and leather outfit going in.

Frowning, she tilts her head curiously. “I’m fine, Morning girl. And I’m not too surprised. It’s a fairly weak form of siren; they play on desires in different ways. This one, on disgust, mostly.” Giving a thin smile, she looks into the room where the dragonbloods were quickly putting the spirit to rest; Kalthok in the middle of the room still, a circle of uncoated area around his still form. “I don’t think they or the priests should give you any troubles. If you need to, just concentrate on glowing your anima and then tell them your name is “Radiant Harpoon”. I already made sure that a girl by that name was registered. And… you have a husband, but you’ll get to meet him soon.” Stifling a grin, Raven’s eyes take on a dangerously mischevious glint.

“Gah!” her eyes widen and she looks at her mother in shock, “B-but I thought that we weren’t going to do that! And the priests here already know me by my real name! How am I going to pull that off?!” Early Morning immediately starts fretting.

“Just to the Dragonblooded. And the idea came to me after you’d left; don’t pick at yourself!” Scolding her daughter, Raven takes a decidedly active stance, both hands on her hips. “I went to a lot of effort in finding a husband you can’t possibly have a problem with.”

Early Morning pouts up at her mother, before sniffing and crossing her arms with a mischievous glint in her own eye besides her put-outness, “I’ll just have to get you back for that Momma Raven… Maybe cutting off half your hair as you sleep so it’s all lopsided…” she ends this in a giggle, sticking her tongue out at her mother, “So fill me in on information. If I’m supposed to be this Radiant Harpoon person, I’d have to know about them right?”

“Fifteen, daughter of a ship captain from a minor Tepet bloodline, just got left in the city yesterday; your father is Ponticalatius, captain of the ‘Sorrow Edge’. He’s picking you up after making a leg to the Lap, in the meantime you’ve come to the shrine to make tribute, and will be staying with a distant cousin until he returns. By cousin, I mean me.” Smiling at her daughter, she then speaks in a very low tone. “And Morning, dear… remember, it isn’t every day that I can get to make good on owed debts at the Immaculate Temple. I could do that again in revenge to a haircut, though… “

“Er… That won’t work Momma, one of the dragonblood that just went in there is the one that forced my Exaltation.” Early Morning looks worried.

“Then he’ll have to explain how he knows that’s not the case, won’t he? And that means giving away that he attacked you. If he’s that dumb, you’ve nothing to worry about.” As they talk, the battle begins to finish, as one of the dragons begins to force the spirit to submit to Immaculate doctrine in exchange for it’s life.

The dragon-blooded do indeed take the bait, including a reluctant Rhalkim who gapes but indeed says nothing, though his eyes follow her as the claw heads on to it’s other duties. Soon after the fight, Raven passes some more instructions. “Come on. Gather what you can. You’ll be staying at my place, now that things should be calming down for you.”

Early Morning nods, and points to her much beaten pack on her back, “Everything’s in there Momma Raven, um… Do the monks know I’m going?”

“They’ll figure it out. Besides… you can come back during daylight. I hear they’re teaching you to write..?” Giving a smile, she turns, making her way back towards her place, still talking. “Come on, then. They’ll be busy cleaning, and I have soup on the stove.”

Early Morning perks up at the mention of food, “Kalthok is teaching me how to not be ‘leaving notes for mice and flies to read’” she tells her, “He’s the one that was beating on it with the burny hands.” Early Morning hurries after her mother, soup on the stove being a major motivator, unlike the prospect of no dinner and possibly being roped into helping clean… that. “And I take it clean up for us first? I really don’t want the soup to be flavored with what that thing in there was spewing.” Early Morning grimaces.

Looking slightly pained, Raven hangs her head. “You go clean. The baths are on the boy’s turn, though. Be careful if they get grabby; I’m going to get changed, though. Be back as soon as you can. That dragon with the scars might not be deterred from tracking you down after he finishes his duty for the night!”

Early Morning deadpans, “If I have to dodge them getting grabby it’s not going to be quick. And I definitely don’t want that insane person after me, so I’ll just come along and change as well, I mended my previous outfit after all.” she jams her thumb back over her shoulder, indicating her bag.

“Go bathe. Consider it payment; you get to keep the boys in check. They won’t get rough if they know what’s good for them. Scoot!” Raven begins again, making her way to the store, rather than the bathhouse. Bathing, in the Age of Sorrows, was a relatively public affair; the issue here would be a majority of boys as opposed to a mixture of the sexes.

Nodding Early Morning goes to bathe, quickly though, her mind focused on the soup.

The bathhouse, a marvel of structural engineering from the first age, is a decorative affair, having survived the hordes that ransacked the city in the name of the Kha-Khan. Twin edifices of female nymphs adorn the arched door entrance, though years of lacking service have rendered the guardians still and silent; in old times, it is rumored, they would greet people by name in a friendly manner. The baths are no less wondrous; a series of small pools play water into one another through intricate tubes forming hot waterfalls, small vortexes, and light currents that carry bubbles, soap flakes, and even exfoliating sands, hot, cold, or comfortably mild depending on the pools you select. Inside, the boys are playing, arguing with one another as they set about relaxing. Of them, Joran is the least provocative, relatively stable; Rich Tulip is the most unruly, and thankfully near the back with some of his ‘friends’. Thanks to the merit of the pools, though the entire region is one large room, hanging plants, falling water, and even the cut of the walls themselves leaves little more than a single room in view. As she enters, the two boys lounging in the hot water sit up, looking at her in concern. One speaks quietly. “Ee-em! What happened?”

“Really really gross spirit-monster-thing.” Early Morning replies, pulling off her soiled robe and leather outfit, and getting into a pool, looking over the outfits for damages she particularly looks at the backs of them, in case spider had damaged them as it had burrowed through her back. She looks up at the two boys, “I think the dragon-blooded guards that took care of subduing it in the end got the worst of it though, they were covered in the stuff.” She grins at this.

Scowling, one of them ducks his head under the water, the other seeming relieved that she was alright. “I wish I got to do cool stuff on the job.” He mutters sourly to himself before Joran pokes his head in, blinking and grinning as he sees the girl. “Hey, E! You got here late, I take it? Girls were an hour ago!” Despite the teasing pitch of his voice, he slides into the pool without trying to draw too much attention to the further back ‘rooms’ of the bath.

A sudden realization would come to EM; having been in contact with the stuff now for almost a ten-minute block, that the same, but slightly diminished effect was spreading. A warm, tingling feeling in the crux of her womanhood (as Raven would say), and a flush to her blood of energy. It had only occurred since the tentacle thing had attacked her, and had been lost in the adrenaline of the attack. Now, here in the bathhouse with three naked boys, it was beginning to rear it’s head again. Thankfully, whichever reason it was that was able to make it diminished in effect was letting her keep her mind enough to avoid being overwhelmed with the lusty timbres.

Early Morning takes this as an apparent need to grab the soap and attempt to scrub her skin raw, “Ick, ick, ick, ick, yeah got held up by a really really disgusting spirit attacking the place I was at. Eww…” Turning to the one that had expressed envy she lifts an eyebrow, still scrubbing, “You wouldn’t have wanted to be there. Seriously this thing was gross, mass of tentacles spewing stuff so unless you’re the type to like that sort of thing…” she lets that hang in the air for a few seconds before chuckling and continuing to scrub.

Looking at her in a mixture of disgust and disbelief, the two boys seem to share different reactions, the first one looking jealous as he leaves, muttering as he does. “Fight a monster, and say you didn’t want to be there? Girls.” The second, however, leans over, his eyes bright as he begins to question intently. “Whoah! Like… a sea creature! I saw one, once! On the docks! It was huge, and it had tentacles, and when they opened the net, it sprayed this black stuff everywhere!” “That… was a squid, Lorn.” Joran chuckles, leaning back. The two boys begin to banter as she scrapes at herself, before Joran sends his companion elsewhere, the other boy looking disappointed, and hesitating. “Fine. But you have to tell me how you beated it, Em!”

Early Morning blinks, “I didn’t beat it, I just helped distract it until the guards could come and deal with it, like the others in the area. At least I didn’t get covered in the gunk it spewed out as much as they did.” Deeming herself clean enough she attends to her clothing, cleaning it as much as possible. “And you could say it was like a squid, just one that liked to grab you and cover you in muck.”

Wrinkling his face, he grins at her, before darting off quickly though the waterfall, calling as he does. “Hey, Karrik! You hear that? It was sorta like a squid!” Joran smiles as he hears the others leaving, before giving an honestly concerned look at her. “Wait. You said it got all over you?”

“Well compared to the guards, not really, but I did get spattered.” She replies, squeezing out her clothing, thinking that that was as clean as it would get without special treatment, and stowing it in her pack, after taking out her clean and mended cloth outfit.

View
The Wood of Slaughter, Yu-Shan

Those gloasmiðr that hadn’t fought were herded into a grassy field under the emerald sun of Yu-Shan, their patron’s rays showing their fear and trepidation as they were gathered there at the points of Jade, Ivory, and plant based weapons which were the specialty of the dragon kings. The chosen and their allies had not come unprepared to deal with them, their strengths denied in the armor and weapons of their foes, that and with their powers, the chosen of the gods had slaughtered every able bodied one of their people that had tried to defend their master’s holdings before rounding up all who were left. The chosen of the maidens lending their astrology into the hunt to find all that were in Yu-Shan no matter them hiding, even the children, seniors and infants.

There were many of the chosen of Gaia’s soul, Sextes Jylis among those that held them there, even as they sent prayers to their patron, they flinched as unfamiliar seeds were rained down on them before the chosen of wood gathered began glowing, a response mirrored by the seeds.

Then the screaming started and was immediately muffled.

The lucky ones, if you could call them that, were near instantly killed by the thick mass of growing trees that sprang up within seconds. Others however were held by the branches and roots of such, held still as first heartwood, then bark, covered them, still living within the trees, unable to move, interred alive and suffocating. The branches at the command of those who orchestrated their unnatural growth ripped the clothing that the people they were consuming were wearing, denying them even that little dignity, some ending up, nude, impaled, and writhing in the upper canopy partially consumed by the trees but still exposed.

Ligier’s rage was quick as he charged down in a blaze, not only seeking to burn his foes but to mercifully finish off his people and burn down that unholy forest that held them so that they could at least have that honor to fall under their patron’s merciful flames and be consumed by the holy fire.

It was not to be however, the fire did consume those that were partially exposed, but even then the trees kept some small amount of their bones, those suffocating within the trees were cooked with agonizing slowness though not immolated as their patron had hoped to deliver them in mercy. The trees had been specially engineered by a group of Solars, Lunars, dragonblood, and Dragon Kings to be immensely flame retardant, their leaves not green but a purplish red, to further enrage the fetish soul of the holy tyrant past rational thought, that there would not only be no fast death for many of his people as they were driven to extinction, but that they would also be denied proper rights at their deaths, or even cremation, and their lord’s attempts would cause many of them to die in that much more agony even as they called in desperation to him.

And the newest forest in Yu-Shan was watered by the blood, and grew on the flesh of an entire race of Ligier’s Deva, their name to be lost to history and the faltering memories of the chosen and dragon kings through their many incarnations, only few surviving gods would know of them and their fate and many of those even forgot as the information had little value. Who’s to care for an extinct race? And thus the maiden of secrets closed the folder containing mention of them to idle curiosity, it sitting in a dust covered cabinet, shoved in the very back corner of the newer building the division of secrets, buried under tons of much more recent secrets just as sealed. Though in that folder it speaks of a small population protected and hidden by the Yomi of Amalion….

View
Transcripts! Second of Many!

The midday sun continues burning, unrelenting, as the trio make their way to the palatial gates of the Sesus manor; by dragonblood standards, it was a fortress, utilitarian in design and with little spent on excess; wide buttressed walls, manned with small station towers that guards watched down from, alert in the presence of near-gods. The ornate orichalcum bars of the gate wove an intricate pattern of warning and beauty, the form of two armored women in battle the image they formed when looked at from a distance, the Sesus name written in sungold runes down the center line, along both ‘doors’ of the gate. Within, a thin path made little fuss or preamble to the main building of the manor, through which guards can be seen, stationed almost every foot along the distance, while above the rooftops, guardian creatures of stone and mortar prowled in their unending vigil. Trees, not just palm, but other varieties, seemed to bloom like weeds, however, on the left-view, where some distance from the barracks-looking house, a large pool of water sits in the shade of the fruits of nature. Other than the guards, slaves, and servants, however, there is no sign of any other exalts.

Sesus Evaja smiled, making light banter as they walked, though through her talk, she seemed to lose track of whether or not Morning had been there with them, laughing at occasion without explaining the story completely. Rolling her eyes in mockery of one of house Tepet’s elders, she continues to talk.

”... and then he looked all stern at me and called out: ‘Evaja! If you don’t give that back to the monks right this second, I’ll get up there and make you!’. And I-” Laughing again, she paused. “I looked down at him and called ‘Get up here? I heard you can’t even get up for your courtesans!’”

Once again, she seems to be caught with laughter.

Early Morning smiles at her jokes though still on her guard, so she isn’t given to the amount of laughter that Evaja is. “So what was it that you wanted to talk about then?”

Evaja seems to snap back, sighing as she does “Yeah, oh yeah. Almost forgot.” Leading the trio to the garden, she hastens to make the slaves put in work; bring food, wine, water, fans, candies… Only a minute later, however, she sits back against a large, well muscled slave, who immediately sees to the massage her shoulders seemed to demand.

“Now then; please! Relax! The talk.” She takes a deep breath.

“You were in the river, and it started to go out of control; frothing, churning, spinning, and so forth. And suddenly, you could breathe, and the water seemed to know what you were feeling. It seemed to want to do what you were feeling, but it faded after a while?”

“Somewhat, though it wasn’t a river, it was the harbor.” Early Morning looks a bit uncomfortable at this.

Eveja nods, waving a hand in the air blithely.

“A daiklaive is still a sword. So, you were in the harbor. That feeling… have you been able to get it again?”

Early Morning shakes her head in negative.

Scrunching up her face, she nods.

“Right. Off!” Shooing the slave away from behind her, she leans forward to look at her properly. “What happened was as natural for our kind as walking is to a horse. That was the eruption of power that says that you are one of us. An exalt of the water dragon!” Concentrating without losing her train of thought, her caste mark begins to glimmer once again, the elemental sign of wood.

“This is our heritage. Our birthright. It is what says that you are a soul destined for perfection, no matter how far from the nest you may have fallen.”

Early Morning still looks a bit lost and confused. “But why me? All I want is to be left alone.”

“Well, that might be what you need in the end, but no-one will let you if you just act like a mortal. Power means having what you need to protect what you want. Stop that!” She swatted harshly at a slave nearby, though the reason was not apparent, though the slave bowed appropriately.

“As I was saying. Being left alone is quite appropriate… and perfectly understandable. Take the privacy of this garden, for example. Pristine.”

As she gestures around the lake, the irony of her statement seems to miss her completely – the dozen or so slaves tending to it seem intent to stay hidden from view, but are definitely present.

M’krrrl growls again, unimpressed.

Early Morning is unimpressed as well, as she is with most gaudy things like pillows with sequins. “Was that all that you wanted to talk to me about then?” She thought Evaja was friendly enough but the class distinctions were really getting in the way, plus the surroundings and Evaja’s attitude was rather grating on her, though she tried not to let it show. Not that she had anything against slavery, but having that many probably explained the spoiled attitude Evaja had, probably took her years to tie her boots, having slaves about to do it for her…

The dragon-blood frowns, looking chastised at the question. “Of course not, but I’ve been prattling. I lose track of business sometimes. Simple. If you want to be left alone, you need to use your power. Hmm, no – you need to LEARN to use your power. Otherwise, you’ll just end up a prize plaything to someone like Broken Wheel. Or that horrid Tepet man.” She visibly shudders.

“I swear, he is as close to a Yozi as any living being should be.” Crossing her fingers, she gestures for a ward of safety; M’krrrl looks around furtively at the suggestion of their name.

“We can teach you, and it would be for very small obligations. You share our blood; it’s only natural that you should spend your training with those who should have been your family.”

“How so? I’ve been alone as long as I can remember and what sort of obligations are you talking about?”

“Well… like what happened out there in the boneyards. Where the anathema were playing with people’s minds. Obviously, you’re no renowned warrior, and no offense, but you don’t look like you’ll ever be. But hiding is your specialty. And we can enhance that.”

She sighs, smiling sadly at Morning. “But no matter where you run to, you won’t be able to hide from your exaltation. No-one can. And I know how unfair that is. Believe me. But there’s nothing you, or I, can do to change that it’s happened. All you can do is pick which road you think hurts the least.”

She stands up, servants quickly busying to collect her drinks and food.

“After all, I can say that from experience. Not too bad for a Snake Gang thug, hmm?”

Early Morning raises a eyebrow, “Really now?”

“I’m sorry but it seems that you’re so removed from that lifestyle in temperament that I just can’t see it.” She cocks her head to the side.

She grins, shaking her head in amusement.

“I’ve had a couple of centuries to get used to something different. I used to be like him.” Hiking her thumb over her shoulder at M’krrrl, she looks more serious.

“Though without the strange body shaping, obviously. Mostly just broke legs and looked angry. All the time. Then one day, I went through what you did… it will change what you do for your life.

But I’ve already talked your ear off, I think.” Clapping her hands, she begins to walk to the gate, servants following.

“I’d give you food, or clothing, but I don’t want to tie you down with obligations, or feeling of debt, or whatever else, unless you’re willing to take it on. I won’t force it on you. And I’ll leave word with the guards that you are expected if you want to come back to ask about anything.” Stopping at the gate, she bows, very formally, and begins to speak in very quiet tones.

“Good luck out there. I remember how tough it was.”

Early Morning nods at her and smiles, making her way out, “I’ll think on what you told me. Thank you for the offer, I’ll come to you if there’s anything I’m wondering about.” She beckons M’krrrl to follow her, smiling at him, “Come on M’krrrl, lets have those naps while it’s still hot out, this isn’t weather we really should be out in, too much sun.”

Early Morning smiles at M’krrrl following behind her as she takes a longer windy way back to the ‘safehouse’ just in case there would be others following her. She didn’t quite trust that dragon-blooded girl and she’d gotten away without even giving her name. Though with M’krrrl being here she couldn’t evade, she’d bore them to tears with her conduct instead.

Making her way to a nearby merchant, Early Morning buys a small cheap spool of rough but sturdy thread, moving onto another to make further purchases since she doesn’t want herself to stay in their memories with a large purchase.

From merchant to merchant, she winds her way about, buying items such as another light outfit made out of very plain canvas, a cloth bag with straps, a clay bowl, a piece of cloth, a small knife that’s more utilitarian than any sort of weapon one that’s been made extremely thin by repeated sharpenings, the only thing that isn’t the cheapest that she can buy is a hand axe in good repair that seems almost new besides a bit of use about the blade, and a leather bag to hold water in, which she fills.

After meandering like this for a while and the amount of coins down her front lessened by quite a few they find themselves at the safehouse once more, Morning sitting down and mending the clothing that had been torn by Tepet before taking the large piece of cloth that she had bought and lying it down on the ground, bunching the softer possessions she had in a bundle about the harder, sharp pins, needles, coins, clips, and poor jewelry that she had found the previous day in the harbor. Making a pillow of sorts of that she actually lies down to go to sleep rather than sleeping while sitting up. Glancing over at M’krrrl and asking partially rhetorically, “So what do you think of this whole mess that’s happened?”

She adjusts the ‘pillow’ slightly to make her head more comfortable.

“Lllgghh gGh’rrrgh m’rrrk lllrrrgh r’m’Krrr’ghl.” M’krrrl nods sagely, as though having stated a universal truth, then reaching into it’s armor, begins to rummage around for something.

Outside, the temperature drops swiftly, deep shadows flicking over the holes in the roof and walls, and the faint sound of what would apparently be thunder cracks in the distance. Outside, a swift wind begins to gather. Looking up at Morning as though the weather change outside was nothing abnormal, he begins to pull some of the still-marked canvass rolls from within his ‘skin’; as the front plate of his ‘body’ sits open, it is obvious that nothing is within. A hollow expanse big enough for her to crawl into and hide as a small ball.

Early Morning blinks at this before smiling again at him. “I don’t care what that girl called you, that is really cool armor.” at the temperature plummet she shivers slightly curling her knees to her chest and tucking her arms in between after flipping up the cloth that she is lying on so that it covers her partially even though it really isn’t meant to be padding or a blanket.

M’krrrl seems to go quiet at that, even as the sound of rain begins to spread from the roof, the sudden storm catching the town off-guard enough that the hotter metals exposed seem to instantly flash up with steam – a popping sizzle that would be more familiar to students of sorcery and alchemy than a township. Nonetheless, cool, fat raindrops begin to slip through the larger gaps, one hitting the loose bottle in the corner with a ringing “plunk”. Outside, the neighborhood seems intent on exploring this new sensation of weather.

Moving the bowl out from inside her ‘pillow’ Early Morning pushes it towards the closest source of water falling down from the roof that is currently in a state of disrepair. She continues to completely ignore the rich hammock at the other side of the room, even if it were meant for her the fabrics are far too nice for anyone with her layer of dirt to touch, let alone sleep in. Scrunching up further she manages to pull the cloth that she is lying in and under up to her chin, though she still shivers slightly in spite of this, she’s slept in worse conditions before, and is used to the discomfort.

The rain continues to fall, with a crack of lightning sparking the room in a sudden flash of light that in it’s absence, points out how dark it’s become. Very swiftly, the clouds had thickened, and in the ‘natural’ light of the building, it begins to become as dark as night. M’krrrl growls faintly, looking at the doorway, then up at the roof, before sighing again – despite his inability to make softer noises, the sigh seems… resigned. After a few moments rummaging again, he begins to flick some flint chips together, sparking in the same color as the flashes above, before setting a nearby candle to light, the glow filling the room suddenly in contrast.

Over the steady “tink” of the bottle, and “plip” of the slowly-filling bowl, the guards sound various horns, coordinating themselves towards the ‘boneyards’ to the north.

It takes a second for Early Morning’s eyes to adjust to the light. She smiles again slightly thankful for the ‘nightlight’ especially since that nasty earth dragon-blooded had taken her on the little trip through the ground before trying to drown her. Closing her eyes she tries to hold as much heat to herself as she possibly can.

Despite all other available trinkets and tricks, M’krrrl sighs, unable to provide better heat, and in turn, he sits, watching in silence, as the ‘night’ rolls through; as for the next few hours at least, things seem to be quiet.

In the relative quiet Early Morning manages to drift off into a slumber.

In time to come, Early Morning would probably wonder more which it was that woke her.

The prevailing sound in the night (?) air seemed to be screaming. The guards at the boneyards, horns shrilling over the cries of battle, and mayhem in the streets. Outside the doorway, a woman’s distinct cry of abject terror pierces the darkness. More disturbingly, it cuts short, followed by a heavy, breathless ‘thump’ to the wet clay below her. Crashing in the nearby buildings, as rioting seemed to be taking place, or pillaging. Something heavy landed near the building; the ground shaking enough that a whole slat of roof gave way inwards, the stone and clay above dropping like literal bricks to the building’s interior, before M’krrrl’s form was suddenly over her, leaning over to cover her body as the masonry found it’s rightful place around his body, as well as on top of it.

High above, however, in the sudden rain and darkness, the lightning crossing the sky silhouettes a massive shape, hundreds of yards long and roughly in the shape of a deformed man, albeit gigantic. Thousands of writhing, crawling arms, legs, gaping mouths, and stitched-together torsos form it’s flesh, maggots the size of men crawling through the mass, dropping fatally to the street below. A foot the size of a bus, crushing the house alongside the ‘safehouse’, while just outside the ruin of her wall, corpses seem to litter the street.

The rain, unceasing, has now changed as well. No longer the fat ‘plump’ rain, it stings on her exposed flesh; cold, sharp, and fast, carried on a chill wind moaning with malice. And above the city, the clouds are as thick as night itself, formed into the shape of a skull.

Death had come to Chiaroscuro.

Eyes wide Early Morning lets out a small, fearful whimpering noise, though she slowly gathers her bedding/blanket and slips it into her pack which had been serving as a pillow as she doesn’t take her eyes off of the giant… thing. “M’krrrl? I’d say we’d better move deeper into the city…” she says softly in a near whisper, her voice shaking slightly.

M’krrrl, growling as he shook off the weight of the roof, looked slowly up to follow her gaze. His growling stopped, and his form seemed to pause as well, not moving at all, before he speaks quietly.

“Rgg’k.” His tone seemed relatively insulting.

As the giant moved, maggots continued to fall, splashing, rather than slamming, onto the buildings and clay streets, the gore rising the height of splashes from depth-charges, throwing debris into the air. The maggots, however, seemed to be following it’s path, as the necromantic thing stepped without noticing them over, towards the northern district. Horns and screams suddenly silenced as a gruesome foot trod purposefully to the guards there.

M’krrrl, standing, looked at her, and began to make pace for a nearby main road, keeping pace with what he had seen her run before.

Early Morning dashes after him, easily shouldering her small amount of worldly possessions onto her back as she partially climbs over the debris in the safehouse. Ignoring the rain for now and how it’s plastered her hair to the scarred side of her face, having come out of it’s ponytail partially due to tossing a bit in her sleep earlier. The rain not soaking into the leather that she was wearing, and not having much luck with the cloth bag, the low quality making it somewhat nonabsorbant.

As she made haste along the roadside, the street suddenly lit up with thousands of colored glows; the giant beset as though adorned with multi-colored lights, climbing up along it in a swathe of consumption, dead flesh falling like peel from an apple across it’s form. The dragonblood, eager as always to the defense of ‘their’ holding in Chiaroscuro.

Ahead of her, however, M’krrrl slows, coming to a halt and growling at the same time at something out of sight.

Still getting away from the giant monster, even though it might be getting it’s ass kicked, Early Morning slows as she comes up behind M’krrrl, her hand slowly extracting the axe that she’d bought earlier from her pack, peering around M’krrrl’s bulk, “What is it? What’s wrong M’krrrl?”

“Ghssshts” His voice rhasps as he tries to pronounce the word, though it’s intention seems clear enough almost instantly. Ahead of the pair, pale, transparent forms of misshapen men, women, and children, begin to gather; their eyes glistening red with hate-filled hunger, forming a mob from the downpour. Behind her, the lights of the dragon-blooded seemed to flicker – some fading, others flaring, and still others suddenly shut out like a broken globe. In a flash of lightning, M’krrrl’s armor seemed to glow, though the flare passed quickly.

Ahead of them, one of the men begins to call out, a hollow, metallic tone to his voice.

“Girrrl? You’re very kind to bring us… lunch.”

Early Morning, keeping her hand on the comforting weight of her axe, reaches out and tugs M’krrrl backwards, to the fighting, a much better assurance of survival than the mob of ghosts in front of them now. “Sorry, you’re out of luck there,” she replies to the ghost before breaking into a run back the way they came if M’krrrl gets the idea.

With a wailing, the horde begins to race after her, swooping over the road with the hunger of the unquieted dead. M’krrrl, not as fast on his feet as Early Morning, gives a roar as the wave of spirits hits him, though from the splashing bursts of pale, glowing fluid that erupted suddenly around him, he seemed far from defenseless for a wyld mutant.

Ahead of her, the street was broken with rubble, corpses, water, and the broken shells of high-altitude maggots, making the run difficult to maintain. On the plus side, the ghosts seemed to have no better luck, with several being toppled by debris beneath their feet. Ahead of her, the giant continued to flail in raging agony, the lights of the dragon’s children like fireflies, several swooping around it to harass it from every angle, including the air itself. The lights of the fight give more than enough to see by, even without the flashes of violent tempest above.

Ahead of her, to the side, a cluster of people seem to run, cloaked heavily against the weather. Four adults, one child, and a pair of jade-armored guards as escort.

She looks back a split second as M’krrrl is overcome, calling out his name worriedly, though somewhat comforted that it seems he may be able to take care of himself, it would be harder for him to do so and protect her at the same time. Meanwhile she dashes forward, amongst the debris littering the street, at times using her axe to help her scale various obsticals before continuing on. Should she reach the little group that is running, she would make to bypass them, warning, “Ghosts. Behind. Run FASTER.” Not bothering to look to see who they are as she passes.

As she approached, one of the two dragonblood turned to face her, a vicious, ragged scar running the length of his face, from chin to ear, and blurred in a fan-shape of bloodclots across to his bloodshot eye. In the light, she could see his eye widen at her being there.

“You!” Tepet Rhalkim reached to the hilt of his greatmace, Slaughter’s Son, as he dropped to a crouch, ready for battle. The other dragonblood, looking back, began to usher the group forward, as the small anathema cursed about their discovery. With a sudden motion, all but one of the figures remove their cloak, the light of their animas burning with the light of the sun in the storm’s wrath; making haste forward with abandon, essence fueling superhuman leaps of speed towards the boneyards. At the sight, a number of the dragon-blooded break from the undead thing, racing to stop the solar from whatever plans they had mustered.

Tepet looked, suddenly, past the girl, his eyes staying wide as he sees the mass of ghosts at the ready, their progress paused by the painfully bright light.

“Dragon’s shit!” he cries, both gallantly and courageously, as he turns to start running towards the battle as well, ignoring her completely.

Early Morning quickly considers things, in front of her was Solar, pissed off dragon-bloods, and more dead things, behind her was that nasty earth dragon-blooded, lots of dead things. She strafes to the side then, headed for an alley, or a debris pile that is high enough to get up on a roof, from there she would continue that direction, clambering over more obsticals than those in the streetbut that might be a good thing as it seems that it slows the ghosts and whatnot down as well. Plus she had lots of experience running and climbing, after all she didn’t particularly care for getting beat up by guards.

Darting into the alley between two yet unruined buildings, something chiseled into the ground would catch her eye. The groove of the boundary that Grandmother Bright, patron of the city, had carved to lay salt into as a blessing to keep the people strong. Along it, sigils had been pasted, in a mixture of what looks like fresh blood, yet it stayed clearly drawn despite the cover of the rain. In the street, the dragon-blooded runs past not long after, two ghosts on his back as he cries out in a mixture of pain and rage, the horde following only feet behind him and closing. As soon as the horrid hunt had passed… the street lay silent, glinting with the flaring of dozens of colored lights.

Early Morning kneels down, she doesn’t know much about all the mystical crap that sorcerers and the like use but anything that in some way messes with the boundary isn’t good at all. As there is no one about she takes the cloth she had been sleeping in earlier and attempts to clean the blood off, something was preventing the protection from helping, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a friggin’ army of ghosts coming from the direction that was inside the city. She rubs at the blood trying to make the boundary nice and shiny again.

As she pours effort into the cleansing, the lights of the battle grow dimmer, as by and large, the colored lights seem (hopefully) to be drowned out by the sunlight-glow. Try as she might, however, the mark does not budge.

In the distance, a clear voice cries out – the vibrant chord of the charismatic man from the night of debauchery. On supernatural currents, his tone carries through the city, echoing from the far wall as clearly as if she was standing by it.

“Chiaroscuro! Lift your eyes, and be freed!”

With a violent flash like smokepowder being lit, the mark of blood boils, burning away instantly, leaving a foul-odored stench in the air. Above, the lightning crashes paled, and spread, as the sky itself seemed to suddenly be at war, the clouds boiling with furious passion. And from the gaps between then, pure sunlight began to pour through, slicing into the darkness with painful brightness.

Down the road further, the ghosts of the horde screamed in agonizing despair, disappearing into the netherworld, their wails accompanied by the horrid groaning, and crashing, of the giant corpse mountain. As the devastation seemed to pause, however, there is suddenly a cry that pierces through the fracas; having heard the shouting of the guard before, Early Morning would be used to the sound of battle being nowhere nearly as fluent as this.

“The anathema! Stop them!”

Early Morning shoves her ‘bedroll’ back into her pack, what she’d been working on done for her it seems, Looking back the way she came she ascertains the angle of direction of where she’d last seen M’krrrl, let the dragon-blooded fight the solars, seems like the mess was already cleaned up by them anyway. She starts carefully making her way to where M’krrrl was last seen, slower than her headlong

Far back, lit by a slice of daylight across the rubble, M’krrrl lies on the street, motionless, face-down. Several feet from him, an arm lies, bloodlessly removed from his body. No-one at this time seems interested in him, with the anathema fleeing the dragon-blooded as though they had already picked a route to escape by, though in the distance, she could hear a number of angry cries coming from the city center. The last of the storm, dramatic as it had been, dissipates without sound, boiling back to where it had come, and leaving the normal Chiaroscuro sunlight of the afternoon.

Early Morning dashes up to M’krrrl, “M’krrrl! C’mon M’krrrl get up!” taking the arm that is still attached to his body she attempts to shift him to his back so that she can get a better look at him.

His hollow armor still felt cool, and wet, some water still pooled inside it, but as she called, the same armor seemed to stir, lifting itself, the plates moving of their own accord to close together of their own accord. Springing to life, the severed arm twitches, then springs once more up to the joint, closing instantly into a flush seal, the dents moving and flowing back into alignment. Looking around, M’krrrl growls, bending to collect some of the less damaged items that had been stored within his cavity.

Early morning gives him a relieved impromptu hug, then kicks him hard approximately where his shin should be, “Dammit! Don’t worry me like that! You almost made me think that you were dead lying there!” She gives him another quick hug then does her best to look mad at him, crossing her arms and huffing.

M’krrrl pauses, looking up at her with a snort, then reaching out, he runs one hand over her shoulder, his head held apologetically. Looking back to where the safe-house had been, he growls in annoyance, looking back at her as though hoping for some form of decision.

She gives a weak smile, “Don’t worry, we can go there and find out the damage then do our best to repair it. It may wind up a little smaller from lack of materials but I wouldn’t be too surprised that there’d be plenty of building materials and such just lying about around the place, ours wasn’t the only place wreaked after all, and it wasn’t completely smushed either.” she waves at him to follow her back to the house, “We’d better get going on it before like minded persons decide to raid our building like we’re going to do theirs for materials.” After all, bricks, pieces of wood, etc, all looked about the same and didn’t have anyone’s name on them. There was also the fact that a lot of the residents of that area weren’t in any position to object, possibly smushed themselves.

Shaking his head, M’krrrl gives a saddened sound, and gestures for her to come back.

She blinks at this and comes back to him, “What is it M’krrrl?”

Making the same saddened noise, he reaches up to her face, tracing one cool finger across her forehead, then using it to gesture towards the boneyards, making a gruff noise as he points to the dragon-blooded still dealing with the guards there.

“Er… You have a point, best find someplace to be to let that all blow over if that’s the point you were trying to make?” Early Morning looks at him somewhat confused, reaching up and patting him so that maybe he wouldn’t make those sad noises?

Sighing again, he nods, pulling a fallen length of leather cloak from some rubble, and offering it to her before he starts to walk into the city further, grumbling as he does.

She smiles at him and accepts the cloak, brushing off the leather before putting it on, the sun after all wasn’t that good for you. She follows M’krrrl into the city, wondering since the ghosts had come from that direction, how the state of it was compared to the border regions she’d just come from? Was Raven alright?

The trip through the streets was unbroken, though the sore scale of destruction seemed apparent. From the damage, and survivors talking, the story seemed to unfold. The ghosts had rampaged from the boneyards through the guards who had been unprepared for the scale of the attack. Something had kept Grandmother Bright’s hand, however, and the salt to line the border did not survive the rain, and the ghosts, eager for souls to replenish that which they lost, had decimated an entire stretch of the city, leaving hundreds more to bury. Closer to the center, near the trader’s district, the ghosts had stopped, and headed further in, checked headlong by the dragon-blooded, who were then delayed from attacking the gigantic corpse creation. They had run to it already fresh from battle, leaving the score that had chased Early Morning, and then leaping to attack it, even as it grew in strength from the dead crushed into it’s body. Then, the solar arrived, and in one motion cleared the storm, and decimated the corpse, before disappearing as quickly as the rains.

Raven’s house, near the trade district, is untouched as the pair approach, though M’krrrl seems discontented, sniffing the air aggressively, before growling softly.

“What’s wrong M’krrrl?” So far her staying low hadn’t yielded the relaxation that she needed to distress, finding herself now to be on the alert most of the time with a small case of the jitters.

M’krrrl, cautious himself, pulled to the alley alongside Raven’s store. From the window, no sound emanates, but the shape of the deathknight, in his blackened armor of bone and soulsteel, looms through it, as he stares in frustration out into the street, looking right at the massive form of M’krrrl, then at her, before turning back into the premises. From within, an angry voice shouts for a time, the sound rich in vibration. The solar’s leader.

Early Morning blinks, then whispers to M’krrrl, “Maybe we should come back later…” Biting her lip nervously she continues, “Let’s find some other place to hang about till everything settles again…”

Nodding, M’krrrl moves back out into the street, keeping between her and the doorway, until the building is out of sight once more, when he followed her, instead.

Looking back at her, M’krrrl tilts his head in curiosity, pointing to himself at her question.

“Mrrgh?”

Shaking his head, he grumbles again, then stops his amble, and looks out at the cooling sky, as the sun begins to set.

“Rrgh’krrrl mrrrghlgh’k.”

“Yes you. And I still can’t understand what you say most of the time.” she looks with annoyance at the sky, “We’d best stay away from the edge of the city for the time being, at least till we’re sure they’ve gotten things mopped up. Be better to rebuild by day as well.” she glances at him, “Do you know of anywhere to go? Since the house is messed and Raven apparently has none too friendly company, I don’t know where to spend the night, tho…” she smirks a bit nastily, “I could see if my former employer has any of my things from before, including wages…” She chuckles a bit as she imagines her practically spineless boss dealing with the authorities, a mischievous glint in her eyes.

M’krrrl seems to think, rubbing his elbow in a way he seemed to from time to time when troubled. Looking back at her, he grumbles again, this time drawing a few disturbed-looking stares from passers-by.

“Rgh’ghm?” He pantomimes his hands together, flapping his fingers like wings.

She blinks and shakes her head, “Don’t know what you’re trying to say there, sorry.” She smiles at him, “Ehh.. might as well not visit my old boss, it’d be mean and pathetic to see a grown man blubber because of the after effects of the guard questioning him. Fun though!”

Nodding, he falls silent again, no longer seeming to take offense, or dismay, from her lack of understanding, and instead looking back where they had come from. Looking at her again, he runs his hands over his arms, shivering lightly, then pointing at her.

“Hmm?”

Reaching out, he pulls the cloak a little tighter around her, then lets it loosen again.

She smiles and shakes her head, “I’ve been cold before, though it would be best if we found someplace warmer to tuck in for the night. Let’s see… Are there any bake shops or forges nearby? They usually keep a fire going in their ovens and if we hunker down next to that wall, we should be right cozy till dawn.” She grinned, this time she wouldn’t have to compete with the other street brats, especially those too stupid and selfish to realize that keeping others away from your space there kept you colder since it was warmer to curl up like a group of puppies than defend your territory against interlopers. She was now bigger than most of them after all, and M’krrrl was bigger than her.

Thinking for a while, M’krrrl partially leads, partially follows her through the streets to a bakehouse, near the teahouse that had been so prominent so many game sessions ago. As both he and Early Morning made their way to the building across from the Open Rose, the doors opened with Rhalkim stepping out, confident as usual despite the daggers his eyes threw back into the place. Looking at the street belligerently, he stops when he sees Morning, and M’krrrl, his body tensing in annoyance.

Early Morning tenses in turn with a bit of annoyance as well, but also with a good deal of fear and caution. Reaching to M’krrrl’s arm, she tugs him a bit away from the earth dragon-blooded, starting to head in that opposing direction herself, hoping that pretending that he isn’t there is enough to have him ignore her.

Tepet Rhalkim, his face twisting into a sneer worthy of the most vile death knight, reaches with a lash of his strong hand to her shoulder, calling out as he does.

“You! I warned you what would happen if I saw you again!” Fresh, scabrous scars run on his neck and shoulders, his visible skin on his hands, and his face, matching the look of hundreds of sharp, ghostly fingers.

With a small ‘Eep!’ Early Morning tries to duck away from his hand, if she’s successful, she tugs at M’krrrl’s arm to indicate that he should follow before dashing off once more. A small part of her mind however recalling his retreat previously in the day from the ghosts, some of them practically riding on him as he runs away, and that part of her mind is snickering.

Slow from his injuries and exhaustion from the night before, Rhalkim clutches at the air, reaching for his daiklaive as she moves aside. A second later, he grimaces hard, his face scrunching in pain as he doubles over. “Noo! I… argh!”

Early Morning continues leaving him be, not wanting to hang about the angry, mean, crazy Dragonblooded who had tried to kill her on a lark once. She drags M’krrrl behind her, wanting to get away from him so that she doesn’t get in a fight with the nasty person.

M’krrrl follows obediently, growling over his shoulder at the dragonblood who obviously causes Morning distress. As the night falls, she would find that the bakery wall is occupied by all forms of urchins – from the ‘innocent bait’ to the ‘heavy bully’. Universally, they take one look at the ‘adult’ and her ‘monster’, and begin to inch away quickly, some more intimidated children scampering away before trouble comes.

“Pfft. Stay where you are brats, just scoot over and make room. You’re not the only ones wanting to stay warm tonight.” Early Morning sighs and leans back against a recently vacated point in the wall big enough for herself and M’krrrl, patting the portion next to her for him to come and sit against the hot wall. Intentionally looking like she’s ignoring the other urchins, a well used tactic that the more friendly tolerant older ones use to show that they aren’t going to prey on the rest of them.

The kids do indeed scurry aside, taking posts further along the wall, and crowding up on each other, glancing worriedly at the giant armored man, and then leaving room for the both of you. M’krrrl moves, however, to the opposite wall, and standing like a guardian statue (legs aside and still), he waits, as though patiently watchful.

Early Morning raises an eyebrow, “You don’t want to share the heat then? If not the brats can have it.” She shrugs at him smiling. Tilting to head to the side with an inquisitive look she asks, “Do you sleep at all M’krrrl?”

M’krrrl looks over at Morning, shaking his head slowly, before returning back to his original position. Unlike before, where he had been relatively… human, at the hut, he seems now to be much more mechanical. Standing, absolutely still, and silent.

One of the children leans against Morning, and snuggles closer to her, tighter.

Morning shrugs again. Doing something that she had seen other teens and adults do when chilly without real blankets she herds various urchins about her till her legs are covered by some using them as pillows, leaning against them and having one snuggled on either side of her shoulders. Cozy now due to the heat coming off the stoves on the other side of the wall and the flea ridden urchins keeping the cool night air off the rest of her, her pack crushed against her lower back so that if it was shifted by someone trying to take something she would wake, and her hand resting on the axe at her side, giving one more sleepy smile to M’krrrl she falls asleep.

The only two disturbances that night are pretty common, though with strange outcomes.

First, there is a rough calling of orders from both ends of the alleyway.

“Go on, lads! Just herd them into the nets, and they’ll be clean and marked for sale by to-”

“What on the Isles is that thing?” – This one was followed by M’krrrl growling aggressively.

“Screw that for a joke, boss. I’m not gon’na try taking that on. It’s huge!”

“When the hell did those brats get themselves a golem?”

Before too long, the voices retreat, without even coming into view.

The other disturbance, that night, is something silent that brings her from her drowsiness without noise. A presence, dark and malicious, but begrudgingly respectful. Jagane says: Early Morning, not moving much opens her eyes and tilts her head forward, to peer into the gloom to assess whatever was there. This having been a long day including the false night that had happened during the storm, she’s still a bit sleepy and foggy headed, especially being warm and covered with flea infested street brats.

Leaning over Morning, a pale, willowy figure dressed in the robes of an immaculate priest looks over her, at the children around the pile. Four massive, birdlike wings sprout from it’s back, the androgynous form giving no clue to it’s gender. Looking at the girl with annoyance beneath it’s porcelain mask, it seems to project sound to her, sound with no words, but clear meaning.

“Are these your charges, exalted one? Or am I free to do my duty without interruption?” The sound is sharp, grating, and carries on it the sensation of sand being rubbed on laminated steel; rasping and rough, despite being faint.

Neither M’krrrl, nor the children, seem aware of whatever this interloper is.

Early Morning’s eyes narrow. This being’s ‘duty’ didn’t sit right with her the way that it sounded. And she sure as hell didn’t want anything to happen like waking up again snuggled to a pack of corpses or the like. “They are for now.” She really didn’t like the way this thing sounded either. “Why don’t you just move on, we’re all perfectly content here?” She really wanted to get back to sleeping. Stupid dragon-blooded… Stupid exaltation…. No one wanting to #$%*ing leave her alone….

“By your wish, exalted one. I will pick another for the plague, then.” Without pausing, the being began to slip from view, walking on the spot but not moving forward, instead fading until no longer in existence.

Beside her, someone stirred lightly, and rolled over. “Mine. You can’t…” The mumble is faint.

M’krrrl shifted his head slightly, looking down at her, and tilting his head. Quietly, he rumbles.

“Rgggh K’ghh?”

Early Morning sighs, absentmindedly patting the kid that rolled over. “It’s nothing M’krrrl, just another stupid person not wanting to leave me alone because they’re stupid. I’m going back to sleep.” She closes her eyes again and tries to do just that, muttering about stupid invisible gratey things.

As Morning light begins to hit Early Morning, she would find that she is not only stiff from the position she was in, but also sore from where her bag was digging into her flesh. The night air seems to still be in the shadows, however, and there is a solid chill that doesn’t seem willing to budge. Above her, there is a bit of noise as children begin to rouse with the predawn.

Early Morning stays still, not wanting to disturb those that are lying on her and wanting to be in as much warmth as possible right then, after all being stiff and sore can be taken care of by stretching and moving about, if she got cold she’d be cold till the sun actually warmed things up. So she stays put, simply relaxing.

As the children begin to pile off in their own mindset, a couple come over to M’krrrl, their caution gone in the light of his impromptu – and passive defense against the slavers the night before. M’krrrl, as he becomes the subject of that scrutiny, looks down pointedly at the younglings, before growling out loudly.

“Rrrrghhh!”

The children inspecting him scurry away quickly.

Early Morning grins, “You did that on purpose!” and laughs. “Hope you weren’t too bored.”

(DAY4 sorry this is another bit that MSN ate, The Thrice Exalted Lord of Glass and Copper Shows up on his chariot, starts spouting off and to get him to shut up so that he doesn’t freak out the street brats so she won’t be surrounded by both a yelling god and a bunch of screaming munchkins, she goes with him to his temple.)

The god seems to step forth with gusto, pressing a hand to both her and her companion’s shoulders, essence flowing to give an impression of unavoidable motion to the minds of both, speaking as he did so. “Come! Come! Your destiny awaits you, child! Hurry!”

Early Morning blinks as she’s pushed forward unresisting, things being to hectic through her head even without the added influence of the essence. “Er… Alright….” she agrees, her expression very much one of ‘deer caught in headlights’.

Striding them both to the doors of the temple, he gives no sign of the effortless motion expressed to make both doors swing inwardly with a flourish, the entire area awash with color and light, several very surprised-looking monks and priests looking with a variety of expressions from awe to outright irritation on their faces. Pushing her bodily to the altar, Telgac releases her shoulder as they approach a balding man of apparently sixty years of age, who looks down at the girl with a moderately confused expression.

“Your humble mightiness of craftsmanship…” the priest begins to ask, looking Morning over. “May I be excused for the question of why you have brought this girl to me?”

Morning, even though she hasn’t resisted being herded about like a camel, is none the less not very happy about it, her shoulder that he releases are stiff, and the hair on the back of her neck is standing up a bit, not that one can tell from the mass of it which has once more fallen forward to cover her face. She did not like others noticing her, especially large groups of strangers with possible social power from their standing in life. She makes quite the contrast to the temple, filthy, and obviously flea ridden as with the amount that she’d picked up from the street brats, it is clearly visible as one or two are upset by some motion and do a little jump, possibly to burrow in her impenetrable mass of black course hair. She peers up through her hair at the god behind her, waiting for his answer as well, before glancing to M’krrl to see if the giant is as tense with the situation as she is. If you’re going to be uncomfortable, it’s far more comforting to have those you know uncomfortable as well, justifies it in a way.

The creature does indeed seem irritated at the current situation, giving a quiet growl at everything in the local vicinity; an action that seems to both disturb and outright frighten the acolytes nearby to it. The god, however, booms with a voice used to having orders obeyed.

“This, father of my flock, is the one I had been seeking, with the powers that do not yet belong! It is your role to protect and hide her, to teach her in the ways of the Dragons, and to equip her for the role that the Maidens have bidden her. Do this, and be blessed!”

The priest simply blinks, before asking simply in return.

“But, almighty lord of beautiful creations, if you wished us to hide her… perhaps a less… ostentatious… display would have been better for bringing her here?”

Early Morning turns to the priest, there is a bit of strain in her voice that tells of her trying very very hard to not say nasty things in regards to the god, “Less of a display would have been nice. It would have been very very nice….” she twitches a bit in irritation, that had to be about the worst way to hide her that she could have thought of, though she suspected that this god also lacked the ability to lower his voice…. Her poor ears were getting a workout.

Pausing for only a moment, the god seems less at a loss than taking time to breathe, before pressing forwards, his ample volume projecting enough to rattle the windows beyond the older man.

“Do not question the orders of the one who begat your crafts! You are dust to me, and it is in my mercy that you shall be given talents to perform your works! Go! Do as I command! This girl is to be trained in the powers she has inherited, lest the houses of the city take advantage of her! Thus, I have spoken!” – By now, the noise from the commotion has drawn a pair of onlookers from the street, probably sticking their heads in to see why someone seems to be shouting at the priests within. Without pause, however, the older man, now clearly flustered, gives an apologetic and somewhat embarrassed look to the urchin, bustling her into the folds of his robe, and then hefting with a slight limp towards a door on the eastern wall, not noticing himself that the construct following her begins to pace, even as the god turns to regard the two looking from the street.

The priest speaks, but is unfortunately drowned out by the reverberating strains of

“You! Do you come seeking the power and glory that is given to those who craft of glass and copper? Tremble! For the might of the dragons smiles on this place, and the seas shall boil with my constructions!”

Thankfully, the door before Morning is opened quickly, leading to a soundproofed corridor beyond, reducing the near-deafening monologue to a muffled murmur of what distinctly sounds like obscenities.

Early Morning looks a bit wild-eyed, finally failing her temperance roll, her hands having been clasped over her ears tightly as she asks in incredulous horror, “Is he incapable of speaking without shouting?!”

“Err… I’m afraid not. Not since the work he did with crafting bells for the Temple of the Dragons in Nertweist. Uh… I think introductions are in order, m’girl. I am Jarok, High Priest to the Thrice-Exalted Lord of Glass and Copper, may the heavens glow with praise for His works. He… seemed interested in you?”

She spares a dirty look back at the door, “Maybe if he had someone who’s job was to pinch him each time he went over a certain volume he’d get back to normal volumes.” Turning back to the priest she looks apologetic but utterly unrepentant at her remarks, she didn’t like being at the center of attention nor having been so close to someone who apparently screamed all the time. “I’m Early Morning and just about all sundry seems interested in me since I apparently exalted and became a water aspected dragonblood.” she seems less than thrilled over this, “I really wish people wouldn’t make such a fuss…”

The priest looks both disappointed and apologetic.

“I am sorry. I didn’t think he would… show so much frivolity for the favor of a lost egg. But His will be seen to without delay. Do you care for a bath? You certainly seem to be able to use one, and… considering how you look, I would assume the offer of a warm bed and regular feed wouldn’t go astray?”

She sighs then smiles gratefully, “Thank you, it would be much appreciated, I don’t normally sleep on the streets if I can help it, but the place where I and my friend were staying got a bit… damaged during the storm. We were very close to the salt wall…” She looks back with a somewhat worried expression, “Do you think my friend, M’krrl will be alright out there? He doesn’t much like attention either despite the natural attention that his stature brings…”

The priest hesitates a moment, looking back at the door he had inadvertently closed on it. Stepping back, he cracks the door open a tad to look through, no sign of M’krrl being obvious on the other side. The door, however, does allow the deity to boom through into the hallway with the echoes of:

”... why it is time to show these upstarts that stained glass is no different to my own creation, colored glass! Make them kneel before me, and prove to them that no-one can escape my superiority!”

Early Morning automatically has her hands clasped over her ears again, a somewhat pained look on her face

Closing the door quickly, he looks up at her with a thin smile.

“I’m sure your friend seems capable of looking after… himself? And the time we spend looking means time spent, uh, ‘detracting’ from the speech My Lord is giving those with the benefit of hearing. Come, bathing, then feeding. I won’t be giving fleas a free meal.” As he speaks, Jarok waves his hands to ‘herd’ her further down the corridor.

She lets herself be herded, throwing back a worried glance towards the door where she had left M’krrl but for a few moments before he had disappeared, Hoping that he was alright, undeafened, and not getting into trouble. She made a promise to herself to go looking for him when she had the chance. She turns back to the corridor taking note of the route that they are taking. “If you say so…”

Herding her quickly to the communal baths, the priest unceremoniously begins to pull at her clothing, almost as though undressing a child, and fussing at her as one would throughout.

“How did you get mud in there of all places? No matter…” His manner doesn’t imply molestation; she would have had ample opportunity to see those sorts of people at work, preying on the orphans. In the room with her (and empty besides them), his attitude would be very strongly akin to Raven’s, especially when something happened to douse or coat an orphan in something foul.

Somewhat comforted by this manner she complies with him and replies to his various remarks, “It’s not my fault! I was clean yesterday, but something dead crushed the place we were staying at, then I had to run from ghosts and get rained on! And I couldn’t stay with my other friend because she had company over so I had to sleep outside next to the bakery to keep warm with the other street brats!”

“Ah, I see. Hurry up and get clean, then. I’ll tell Brother Marrth that he has to feed you. Buttercorn and needra pie something good for your pallet?” He smiles, creases forming as he playfully swats at her butt, turning to head out. Needra are massive beasts, not normally used for butchering, since they are some of the rare creatures that the noble house of Cynis, and the guild, use for making opium; the beasts eat the flowers en-masse, the opium produced by their digestive tracts automatically, and they are usually tended to by droves of slaves each. The other reason for their normal exemption from the dinner plate is their “robust” (read, excessively strong) flavor and rather heavy toughness; almost akin to blood-drenched leather in texture.

At the offer of food Early Morning grins and nods enthusiastically, and at the swat she shakes her fist at him in a playful manner before getting to work scrubbing herself down more thoroughly. She looks somewhat unhappy at the state of her clothing however, this outfit was new, she just got it yesterday, granted it wasn’t anything fancy or particularly special but it was hers. Frowning she takes the leather into her hands and begins to clean it the best as she can.

The bathwater is both warm, and scented, though it doesn’t completely mask the odor of garlic, mint, and lavender given to the soap in a disastrously competing fashion. Nonetheless, the odor does seem rather repulsive to the fleas in her hair; one would leap to her arm, before elsewhere in an apparent bid to escape. (OOC: actual method of ridding of fleas; those three oils in combination are like flea tear-gas)

Not taking too long, the garment would mirror her own state of cleanliness, and being still whole as well, she would soon be rather presentable, despite the tangle across her face when she lets her hair back down.

She sighs at the state of her hair but shrugs it off, she was used to it being completely unmanageable, though she does her best to twist out the excess water. Moving to the door, the outfit still slightly wet and her boots squelchy she opens it cautiously before sticking her head out of it.

Jarok would be on his way back about now, looking surprised that she had readied herself so quickly.

“Aha! So, you’re not only a child of a water dragon, but also the daughter of an experienced laundress and marathon bath-diver?” He laughs, heading back on his heels up the corridor again.

“No matter; follow if you are unabashed, or wait. I will get you some robes to wear; they’re not pretty, but they are warm at night!”

She ducks her head at the comment on her speed a bit, looking slightly embarrassed, “I’ll follow, robes sound nice, I have had my fill of cold nights.”

Heading down the corridor, he leads her to a small chamber about twice the size of a cupboard, a single raised bed the only feature, with a small wicker chest underneath, that he opens to pull out an oversized camel-hair tunic from. Offering it to her, he gestures to the bed.

“Here’s where we can put you up for now, if you like? There are other rooms if you have need for a different one, but we can spare this one for now, I think! The pie will be ready soon; it’s being baked as we speak. Oh! And there’s parsnips for the side dish.” Smiling again, he squeezes his way past her to leave her some form of privacy if possible.

She takes the tunic from him, managing to get out a, “thank you!” before he leaves, turning to the small room she smiles, putting her pack under the bed before flopping down on it, trying to straighten her thoughts.

The bed is solid, and rather uncomfortable, unfortunately. That being said, it beats any form of ground short of comfortable, slightly cool loam. The lack of windows also seems to be a feature, since this way, the noonday sun won’t reach in for the scorching of her skin.

Her sleep would be shallow, and despite her normal attitude to the subject, moderately sexual, though the subject causing her ‘delight’ seems to elude her on the sudden wakefulness that comes with a sharp knocking on her door.

“Early Morning? It’s me, Jarok! Your pie is ready!”

She cracks her eyes open, stretching her arms and sitting up before scooting off the bed and opening the door, smiling at the priest. “Thank you! Um… is there anything that I can do to help about? I don’t feel right getting food and such for free…” Early Morning really didn’t like feeling indebted, though sometimes, as with Raven, that couldn’t be helped, she’d probably feel indebted to Raven for the rest of her life for supporting her when she’d needed it.

The priest starts to make his way in, carrying a platter as he does, and after entering stops at the foot of her bed.

“Yes, there will be, actually, but you don’t need to feel as though you’re imposing. His Lordship gave the command to house you, and we are but his adoring servants.” He smiles with a note of sarcasm to his voice, but it doesn’t seem born of bitterness insomuch as possibly the lack of warning from his deity for her arrival. Putting the platter down, he steps back out again, giving the girl her space.

“Enjoy, and then we’ll have you come to the training hall. I have no idea what we’re meant to be ‘training’ you for, so I think we’ll just have to cover a bunch of things and see what you become good at.

She nods, picking up the platter before asking, “Err…. Where is the training hall?”

“It’s at the end of the hallway away from the central chamber!”

She nods again, “Thank you.” before digging into the food in front of her.

The food is as promised. Tough meat with a heavy flavor, though the ‘buttercorn’ seems to be sweetcorn or maize with a naturally “well-buttered” sort of taste to it, going well. Soon enough, her meal would be a memory, the empty plate it’s only reminder, other than a pleasant taste in her mouth still from it.

Putting the tray down neatly, she walks out the door and heads to the end of the hallway away from the central chamber, sticking her head in and surveying the room.

The training hall is a large, vaulted room, flush with a reed-mat styled floor covering, and with walls made of a mixture of copper beams and oaken pillars, with a fluted skylight letting the sunlight reflect in without it’s normal intensity; outside of view, a series of copper pipes actually filter the light through to here, at almost half it’s normal intensity. A variety of instruments line the walls, clearly from a variety of fighting styles, mostly seeming to favor staves and poleaxes.

In the center of the room, Jarok stands near two other priests, one an extremely rotund man with the flushed-dark skin of the far western jungle-folk, the other much smaller, and old to the impression of near-death, hobbling on what appears to be arthritic legs. Seeing Morning’s head come around the corner, Jarok beams, waving at her.

“Come, come! I’d like you to meet the other two masters who will be trying to learn what it is you can do. I will handle your basic training; exercise, athletics, dance, swimming, and so forth. This is Master Kalthok;” At this, he gestures to the old man next to him, who gives her a partial scowl. “Kalthok handles social studies, the learned arts, and the mysteries of the arcane. Though no Heptagramist, his lessons will cover more than you had prior. And this-” His monologue is interrupted as the large man steps forward, bowing to her. His voice is incredibly deep; resonating at the same pitch one would expect from a sub-woofer. Or from a still-living Barry White.

“I am Master Brojii.”

She hesitantly comes into the room and bows to them, “I’m Early Morning.” she introduces herself and looks to Jarok for more instruction as to what will be going on.

Brojii continues as she responds, bowing again as he inters.

“I will be teaching you kung fu.”

Jarok smiles at her reassuringly, speaking as the large man finishes.

“You don’t need to fear. Your lessons will be first to measure your abilities, then decide where your training should extend to. For now, I think some simple exercises will suffice.”

She nods, “Then shall we get started?”

Jarok nods, clapping his hands together, and waving a hand from one end of the room to another, calling to her.

“Simple first. Back and forth; one wall to the other, as a run.”

Early Morning, still hesitant with her new circumstance takes off running to the side of the room to her left.

Leaping from her place on the floor, she begins to rapidly move across the room, the reed mat helping her stride easily as she makes her way to the opposite wall. As she is about to reach it, however, her stomach lurches lightly, the hiccup strong enough to make one leg buckle.

She bites her lip and tries to recover.

As she reaches the wall, it’s more as a tumble than a sprint, her body bouncing from the wall in an illustration of accidental motion. The three masters watching the display pause in embarrassment for her.

Early Morning steadies herself, clenching her eyes shut in her own embarrassment before attempting to go to the other wall hopefully without further mishap.

Her leg lightly twisted from the mishap, she staggers her way to the other wall, taking about as much time as she would have normally. Calling out as she reaches it, Jarok motions for her to stop.

“Morning! Please. You don’t have to keep going. We’ll start you on something else, perhaps better for your… history.”

She sighs, very obviously embarrassed and disappointed in herself. “Alright.”

Motioning for her to make her way over, the large man steps over on his own.

“This will be a simple test. Take swings at me, plesse.” His accent flattens the “ease” sound at the end.

She nods, doing so.

Swinging at him openly, her fists would fly through the air to actually slap against the dark man’s stomach, before he knocks the strikes aside.

“Well done! Seems we know whatta do with you!” Beaming, he chuckles, stepping back.

“Now then. Show you know how to defend, plesse.”

Stepping back from his simple assault, his hands move down in open-palmed strikes, doing nothing more than simply slapping against her skin before he pulls back.

“There. Now, have you used a weppon before?”

“Only a bit, a whip and a hand axe in the past.” The whip had been used on the resident camel, primarily to keep it from biting things, people, etc, the last one that had ridden it had not been told this, the camel as a result biting off the middle three fingers of a dragonblood and then spitting them out in his face before trying to take another chunk out of his arm. The hand axe had been mainly used as a versatile tool primarily, weapon secondary.

“At the same time?” He doesn’t sound hopeful, only curious.

Beating on her for a while, the large man eventually finishes his ‘instructions’, stepping back with a nod to her, respectfully.

“There. Now, recuperate.”

Wincing and nodding, Early Morning sits down and starts stretching, it would do no good for her muscles to seize up because of injury however mild that they would if she rested them.

Waiting, the last master, the old man, watches with a tilted head and a disapproving expression on his features. As she works, he snaps at her.

“The third spoon on a table is meant for what?”

She looks up, puzzlement on her face, “Eating with?”

Frowning, he continues his sharp questioning.

“And the constellation with the most numerous stars?”

“Er… The claws of Exturag?” she hesitantly answers. Zenithas says: He humphs, looking at her with somewhat less disappointment, before snapping again.

“And the product of nineteen and four, multiplied, then squared, divided by twenty-three?”

“251.13” she answers with little hesitation.

His eyes snap up in surprise, looking at the girl with substantially more respect.

“Interesting. Why would there be trouble in the idea of making a trade route from Gem to Thorns?”

“Because Thorns is infested with the dead and the guild would probably do something nasty to you, so you’d probably end up not only with your workers strung up, not even the ropes would be left after their bodies are made off with and eaten?” She lifts her eyebrows.

He nods, looking at Jarok again with amusement in his voice.

“No class, but she knows business well. Not completely stupid.”

Early Morning sighs at his remarks and makes a comment under her breath about delusional people thinking that street rats had access to formal education.

“And I thought ‘street rats’ were good with moving around?” He snaps back at her almost unheard whisper, shooting her a dark look.

Jarok, nodding, looks at Morning with what starts with a pleasant expression, until the byplay begins, where it then becomes a disturbed grimace.

“Ah. I… hope you can get along with your new student, Kalthok. You said it yourself, she has a good business mind.”

Early Morning gets a sulking look on her face, making a mental note not to mutter any more things around the monk with more hearing than he should have in this temple. She sighs. “What now?”

Jarok looks quickly between you, before giving a bow.

“I will leave the both of you to get acquainted, and take Brojii to ensure that the other priests will be aware of the changes. Come, Brojii!” Taking the large man by the arm, he begins to lead him from the room, not giving Kalthok time to react.

The old man frowns, one eye creasing in as he attempts unsuccessfully to raise the other eyebrow, before turning to you, as the pair of priests talk quickly.

“Why are we nut staying to-?” The large man begins.

“If they don’t kill each other in the next ten minutes, then they’ll make an excellent pair. Besides, Kalthok could use a relatively sturdy student who can’t run away!”

Early Morning’s eyes widen in undisguised incredulity, and looks to the bad tempered monk quizzically.

Kalthok’s expression has frozen as he obviously had heard the comment as well, his expression a twisted form, one eye still closed somewhat, his mouth caught open as he was about to start talking when they spoke.

“Err… What’s all that about?” she ventures tentatively.

“Nothing. They are teasing.” Grimacing, he looks about at the equipment, before sighing.

“Come. We need you to have a desk to study at. I assume you can write?”

She looks somewhat embarrassed, “Barely, I can spell just fine, but my penmanship is barely legible.”

Hmphing again, he nods, gesturing the same way that the prior priests had headed.

“Then we go to the library. I will start with the basics, and I will loan you my desk until Jarok shows you how to make one of your own.”

She nods and gets up to follow.

Leading her to the library, Kalthok gestures to a desk close to the floor, a single pillow the seat for it, with a variety of small linen sheets placed on frames on top of it. Taking a moment to gather some soluble inks, he also places a much larger sheet on the desk top.

“Take a seat” he says as he finishes his work, the large sheet dominating the tabletop. “You will be practicing on this frame, when you have done for the day, or there is no room left, you will give it to me for appraisal, then clean it of ink.”

She hesitantly sits down neatly, “Alright, what shall I be practicing writing down then?” she asks.

“Let us begin with the basics…” And, with that, he begins to give her a basic ‘alphabet’ lesson. Unlike English, and more like Chinese, the word form is less dependent on a set phonetic alphabet, but more a diagrammatic glyph style of writing.

Early Morning pays attention to the lesson though most of the material is already known, the problem with her writing is that she wants to do it fast, which with an unpracticed hand makes it even sloppier than it is wont to be, and she writes infinitely small ‘to save material’.

He works on that, giving small criticisms as soon as he can see that she knows what she is doing.

“Slow down! The ink will not dry before the brush has finished moving! Be careful, and do not make the words unintelligible! If you cannot read it, then the entire space your blobs take is wasted!”

She slows down and does things more carefully, though this takes much longer since her muscle memory for writing is near nonexistent.

He is patient, as long as she does things as he says, and he would continue her doing her work until dinner begins to arrive.

She continues to do her work as he instructs her, though her writing is still painfully small.

After a time, a loud gong echoes through the halls, and Kalthok stops his lesson, looking to the door.

“I will be back. That’s the call for worship. Unless you’re coming as well, you tend to cleaning the sheet, then head for dinner. You did better than I thought you could, though you still seem to be leaving notes for mice and flies to read.”

She nods, “I’ll clean the sheet then.” And sets to work to do so.

Leaving her be, Kalthok heads from the chamber, looking somewhat more solemn as he does.

The linen is surprisingly easy to clean, and doesn’t take long before it is blank, and wet, and hanging at the provided rack to dry again for the next day’s practice. From elsewhere in the temple, a strong scent of curry wafts.

Early Morning carefully follows the scent, attempting to find out it’s location, and make a more complete map of the place in her head.

The local geography is fairly simple; a long, straight corridor bisected by two perpendicular corridors. The long passage is the one connecting to personal rooms about the size of monk’s cells, and the cross-sections seem to lead to places like the kitchens, baths, and so forth.

She continues to follow the smell of the curry.

The kitchen is fairly easy to trace down; within it, a large single table sits, in a square in the center of the room, an assortment of plates layered on it haphazardly around. Outside of that, numerous seating cushions adorn the floor – obviously intended for sitting on while holding the plate in your lap. The dish for tonight seems relatively normal, though spicy.

Early Morning has the grace enough to wait until it’s indicated that is is right for her to help herself, not wanting to be presumptuous.

It is about fifteen minutes before the priests enter, taking plates and seating themselves in what seems to be a fairly casual social occasion. A number of younger priests and priestesses also come in, most seeming like fairly generic craftsmen, wearing aprons and even crafting equipment over their plain robes. Soon, there is a group of people eating, with several plates to spare.

She takes one of the open seats as well as a small amount of the food from the communal serving plate.

As one of the younger craftsmen sits near her, he looks her up and down, grinning boyishly.

“Hey! I’m Fading Blast. Take it you work with copper, huh?”

“I mean, you didn’t show to the glassblowing today…”

She shakes her head. causing her nearly uncontrollable hair to fall into her face before pushing it back again, “No, I just came here today, I was in lessons with Kalthok to attempt to turn my chicken scratches into something more resembling writing.”

He frowns, then widens his eyes when he hears about her tutor, drawing back as though she was somehow infected or on fire.

“Gah! Kalth-” His eyes widen further, and he pauses, then whispering hoarsely.

“Kalthok!? You have the Slaughterer teaching you to write? Who are you? You don’t look like a cannibal!”

Early Morning gives him a look which clearly shows that she clearly knows nothing in regards to her new tutor’s reputation, “I don’t really know what you’re going on about, sure he’s a bit off-putting, but he’s fairly straightforward in teaching, as I said I just came here today.” She looks somewhat confused, “What’s this about cannibals?”

Fading Blast looks around furtively, before leaning in over his plate to whisper to her again.

“Kalthok the Slaughterer was the most infamous of a gang of cannibals who set up shop outside the city years ago. Legend has it that he was not only a spellcaster, but promised to the demon lords of Malfeas as a captain for when he died! He would rally the cannibals into attacking anything in sight, caravans, the city walls, the guard, even the dragon-blooded, and every time, his skill with tactics and magic would get his band fresh corpses to leave with. He also used to have his men and women kill the cannibal who had the least kills by the end of the month, to encourage them to have no weakness. That went on for almost a DECADE!” Pausing for breath, he then continues almost straight away with barely a moment between.

“And then, one day, he disappeared. The cannibals stopped raiding as well, but their leader, Kalthok the Vile, slaughterer of the young and despoiler of all that is holy? Not a sign of him. Then the DAY that the cannibal leader disappeared, suddenly we get a new tutor. Kalthok. The old man who’s with us now. And he’s been here for nearly thirty years.”

Early Morning has been eating through his recital of history, swallowing another biteful she blinks, “I’m sure it’s just coincidence even if it isn’t it still doesn’t have any impact on what I should be studying, a teacher is a teacher, and their personal past imagined or not is their own affair.” She shrugs and takes another bite.

The boy looks at her strangely, as though she had just sprouted a tentacle from her forehead, before turning to face another student, talking normally as though she had never existed.

Shrugging the boy’s dismissal off she continues to eat her meal.

The meat is succulent and tender, and the sauce flavorsome and spicy, together with the mixture of yams and rice, all in all it covers the bases for being a good feed.

She quickly finishes the small portion she had set for herself and gets up to retrace her steps to the place where she had been learning how to write legibly earlier.

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Transcripts! First of Many!

Hey all! As I said I’d be posting transcripts of the RP that has been done and this is the first installment! It’s going to take a while since it’s 500+ pages of material but it’ll get done eventually! This takes place from when EM first came to the safehouse the same day as her exaltation.

The safehouse, if it could be called that, looked… a mess. Deep in the northern suburbs of the city, next to the border of the dead zone, the habitat was constructed crudely, the stone hefted onto itself without thought of mortar or plaster alike, jagged scars running through to let wind and light alike play in a dance over the dust-and-debris coated floor. A broken, wooden door hangs on it’s hinges, the frame able to hold it standing so long as it doesn’t open. A single, boarded window colors the outside of the building, a small slit at the base showing into the single, trashed room within, a table, and two chairs showing in the patches of light, a bottle of liquor still sitting where the previous occupants had left it. Broken pottery is strewn in the corner, with a malicious odor arising, of urine and vomit, death, and fear. Blood stains can be seen in amongst the shards, small black-brown streaks that bely the history of the house. Amazingly, the single hammock that sits in the opposite corner seemed quite homely; thick furred blankets wrapped over and under the netting, making for a nest worthy of even the furthest-north barbarians, covering silken sheets that seemed to shimmer a scene of green and pink, a patterned dye showing a butterfly in flight over a garden. In the street around, vagrants of all callings seem to shift into the scenery, merging into buildings through doors and holes in walls, shadows, and alleyways, ignored by and ignoring the world around them.

Early morning attempts to enter as unobtrusively as possible, glancing slightly at the hammock before ignoring it completely. It was at such odds with the space that she didn’t feel comfortable with it. Slightly clearing a space in a corner, away from the most apparent smells of urine and the like she puts down her bundle of knicknacks that she had found underwater wrapped in her ragged clothing, bunching it up slightly to serve as a bit of a pillow before placing it on the the ground and using it as a cushion to sit on, leaning against the wall, glad to be out of the sun. The bundle being all her worldly goods now that she was entirely to wary to go back to get the belongings that she had had before all this had happened. Idly, she amuses herself, bouncing small broken pottery pieces against the wall lightly, not enough to make much in the way of noise.

The day seems to move with agonizing slowness, the sun shifting in it’s eternal cycle overhead, staring with intense heat at the city below, the clay of the street sizzling with a sheen of shifting air, the walkway empty for the most part, with only the occasional jade-armored figure, or cloth-padded caravan rolling through the street. As midday rolls to the point of breaking, a shadow sharply across the windowframe, cutting the light before a solid sound of grasping comes from the door working. With a steady creak, it begins to pull outwards.

Early morning remains quiet, though her muscles are tensed to run should there be danger. She stops throwing pottery shards and waits quietly, watchful to see who the intruder is. One hand to the side, casually gathering up a bit of dirt/dust in case in a getaway she’d need to fling such in someone’s eyes.

The door opens with a pondering determination, revealing the oven without, the stonework seeming to twist in the mirage from baking. Standing above, hunched lightly to fit through the door, a massive form of black armor reaches in, as if to hold the roof in place, before it crouches into the room, the armor gliding silently against itself, not even giving the slight sound of friction as it moves with an uncanny grace. Once within, the form reaches behind itself, grasping the door just as firmly, and just as easily, pulls it closed and jammed once more, the wood protesting before being forced into place regardless. The helm, a carapace of blackened sheen and glistening metal, turns to face the girl in the corner, holding only a moment before a grunt can be heard, almost a parody of speech uttered by the figure’s urgings. Only a few words, if they are, before it turns to the corner with the hammock, and lets a shuddering sigh loose. With uncanny silence and without the lumbering a huge form would normally convey, the figure moves to the corner still unfilled, and stops.

Early morning blinks and shrugs to herself, not stupid enough to deny being intimidated by the massive figure, that they haven’t broken her skull like a melon gives the feeling that they don’t particularly care about her presence. Even so she makes a small announcement, beginning to idly draw in the dust with another piece of chipped pottery, “Raven said I could stay here for a time.” before going back to trying to keep her mind from sinking into abject boredom and her body from overheating with the small amount of movement that she’s been making for a while yet, trying to wear her nerves out of their frenzied and frazzled state so that she could actually start planning what she was going to do with herself besides getting caught and forced to marry someone who probably would gain control over her because of her youth and inexperience. Not to mention that scary Earth dragon blooded finding her. She wanted to put that off indefinitely, though she didn’t mind the weird creepy kid all that much, he didn’t hurt her after all.

The figure shifts slightly, the head rising to regard her pointedly, as though now taking notice of her properly. The voice again, within it’s shell

“Hmmph-gurph-m’krrrl”

“Er… I can’t understand what you’re saying…” She trails off, the heat getting to her causing her lassitude in the afternoon despite having lived in this part of the world as long as she can remember, her nut tan skin, acclimated to the sun’s harsh rays still didn’t like them and was thankful for the shade.

The figure watches her silently as the words seem to sink in, before the head dips, a nod, and another sigh. A hand reaches out, pointing with a slow motion to the hammock, and another nod. Then, the finger points at the girl once more, and the urging again.

“Nph”

The hand moves, pointing now at the bulk of itself. The voice again, masculine, possibly in the tone

“M’krrrl.”

Early morning takes a few seconds to understand the meaning of the gestures before realizing, “Ah, you’re M’krrrl then? My name is Early morning.” She pays close attention to imitating the figure’s name.

Another grunt, and it lowers it’s arm, slowly squatting at the same time, coming to an apparent rest, and silence. Seated near the window, the figure covers the window entirely, shade now filling the room, and with it a noticeable drop in the heat of the air. After a few minutes, another grunt can be heard, this one again in an imitation of speech.

“Rrrlgh-Mrrngh”

Early morning gives a bit of a smile, “Yeah, rather long winded isn’t it? I’m beginning to think that it may have been an in joke from whatever parents I had that it may have something to do with the time of either conception or birth. They’re dead tho so can’t ask them, All they left me with was this mouthful of a name.”

Another sigh, another nod. As that finishes, the metal face sliding back to it’s original place, there is no more motion, the form seated on the pottery without problem or cramping, apparently. Outside, another set of lumbering needra pulled another cart through the furnace of the street, some mercenaries joking about collecting ‘slaves’ before leaving the city, with raucous laughter echoing through the shadows once more.

If nothing else needs attention or seems to have importance, Early morning falls asleep, seated on her small amount of worldly possessions.

As Early Morning passes out, a slight sensation of calm washes over her, as though something, or someone, was holding her, comforting her. Holding her up on her seat of many things. Sleep, however, comes too swiftly to sense.

Early Morning doesn’t take note of the fact that this is odd, reveling somewhat in the comfortable sensation.

The first thing that she sees, landing on a softened surface, albeit in complete darkness. From immediate examination, it feels… cushioned, but something heavy rests on both her wrists.

Blinking in surprise she looks at her wrists first, the ground, the next thing under scrutiny. The ground wasn’t soft, falling on mud or sand wasn’t soft, how the heck was this ground soft? And she hadn’t had anything on her wrists that she could remember…

Feeling her wrists, she would find two bands, seemingly made of leather, that wrap across both wrists, without adornment, but with what feels like some form of carving along the inside. The ground, however, feels cloth-covered, as though somehow a bed that extends for at least as far as she can reach, spongy in texture.

She instead of standing, carefully begins to make her way across the soft ground beneath her on all fours, not knowing when the mattress will end but also knowing that mattresses can’t go on forever. She searches for some kind of light, something to better see her surroundings and what the heck was on her wrists.

As she begins to make her way along the soft ground, a voice calls out from nearby, deep in tone, but not having any location noteworthy
“Going somewhere?”

Pausing for a second and continuing on, trying to find some kind of a corner with her questing hands to give her some kind of thing to give her bearings, “Where am I?”

Moving for a lot longer before anything happens, she does stumble across what would be considered a landmark of sorts; a single pillow, sequined, with a furred side underneath. The pillow feels somewhat more solid than her ‘ground’ at present, and she can feel warmth coming from it. The voice intones once more, resonating with a slight sound of amusement

“In my realm, girl. And you, are mine!”

Grasping the pillow, she looks nonplussed, only the very rich would do such a thing as to stud a pillow with hard uncomfortable sequins. It really went against everything a pillow was. “And who are you?” she asks somewhat disgruntled, she didn’t like being kept in the dark figuratively.

The voice laughs, an echo sounding in the darkness around her, a hollow, mocking tone to it, like a small child taking joy in the struggles of a hapless kitten. The bands over both wrists burn lightly, as though heated from within, and she hears the voice call quietly, once again only within her mind.

“Those that follow me know of my name in their dreams, and tremble. I am the one who carries the desires of your mind, who learns of the secret wishes of your loins, and who whispers of carnality into your slumber. I am… Hypnocrates”

“Ow! Hey!” she tries to pry the bands off of her wrists, “Yeah, well whoever you are, I can’t say I’m impressed or see a point to this, so how about you let me sleep in peace? I need the rest.” She picks at the bands, trying to find a fastener or a seam, or something to get them off.

The bands soothe after a moment, before something, or someone unseen suddenly seems to grasp them, pulling them both sharply into the air.
“Your impression is not my concern. It is… the unkept desires that call to me…”

“Let me go!” She tugs at her bracers with all the strength in her arms, which isn’t much given that she’s a skinny mostly underfed 17 year old street rat.

The voice echoes with laughter again, before giving her arms a twist, curling them both behind her head, and then sharply downwards, to hold both behind her back. Hypnocrates, this time openly, speaks through the darkness as a slight breeze can be felt brushing over her, through her thin clothing

“I am not the one holding you, Morning. It is your lusts that chain you down…”

“Bullshit!” she struggles against her restraints trying to get her arms freed, or in a different position, because if her hands couldn’t free her maybe her teeth could.

A distinct feeling of pressure crosses both breasts, sliding from left to right, over her clothing, and a slight cool sensation can be felt afterward, as something wet is left behind. Where her clothing is soaked, a slight tingling can be felt against her skin.

“Then why aren’t you free? You are, like any other mortal creature, powerless against your desires. And in the realm of Hypnocrates, all things that you desire have reality.”

She squirms even more, her face twitching a bit in irritation and disgust. “Ewww….” She kicks upward, trying to hit whatever just decided to slobber all over her front. “Ick! Did you have to do that? Gah! I need a new shirt now!” Early morning keeps bitching.

The sensation rubs back the opposite way, this time leaving more of the fluid against her, this time curling lightly in a fashion that suggests it’s not an arm, but a tentacle, that now harasses her form. The voice continues to laugh

“Then tell yourself that the same fluid does not build between your thighs! Deny your lusts, honestly, and you may just yet get free!”

“Of course I’m denying it! This is disgusting and I can’t see anything! And you’re mucking up my shirt. Ewww…” she gets a more horrified look on her face, “Is that what I think it is?” she tries to kick at whatever it is again, “Get it off! Get it off!”

The voice laughs harder as she complains, the ‘tentacle’ ignoring her completely as it continues it’s licentious molestering of her breasts, curling around both equally, before sliding off across both nipples. Hypnocrates, however, seems just as amused as before.

“I see! So your complaint is about your clothing? Very well then. I will ‘get it off’.”

With a sudden, swiping motion, multiple smaller tentacles launch at her, slapping with a sting when they strike her, across the sides and breasts, stomach and, to a lesser extent, face. Relying on her surprise and shock to keep her still (in a relative sense), most then grasp at the front of her shirt, pulling back away with just as much force, looking to tear it open from her body

Early Morning demands, “What do you mean ‘get it off-’” she’s momentarily shocked into silence by the stinging slaps before protesting again, “No! Leave my shirt alone! I meant this disgusting slime! Get away from me!” Having some kind of bearing as to where the tentacles are because of what they’re doing to her shirt, she kicks out in that direction, trying to dislodge them from her and hopefully hurt this twisted… thing.

“You find it truly disgusting? I know what you found every time you watched the whores rutting in the streets, with sailors or soldiers of more… comfortable… physique. That heat, you would take to your sleep. And that, is what gave birth to your torment now.”

She would, indeed, hit at least a couple of the tentacles as they retreat with shreds of her shirt-front, the ‘flesh’ rubbery beneath her kick, but those pseudopods retreating faster than their brethren. Almost as quickly, however, the larger one is returned to her breasts, a second one now, however, also coiling across the back of her pants, giving one buttock an almost playful squeeze.

“Free yourself, Early Morning! Accept what you want into your core, and revel in it! This is your calling!”

“Hell no!” Early Morning is completely disgusted and turned off by the very notion and the example that was put forth, the main reason that she didn’t like/want sex was seeing those very diseased whores old and deformed while still young, and the poor wives that were churning baby after baby out that didn’t fare much better. In her mind sex led to those two fates for the most part and she had not a smidgen of desire for it. Heck, the closest thing that she had gotten to a pleasurable experience was that massage a couple of days ago and she’d even been uncomfortable during that!

“Get the hell away from me and leave me alone! Go spout what you think are ‘temptations’ to someone who doesn’t totally hate the thought of them!” She glares and tries to ‘aim’ for the tentacle assaulting her breasts, thinking of doing as much damage to it as possible.

The tentacle on her breasts is a little hard to reach, being on her chest, and the position of her body. Though with the vehemence of her disgust, there is a sudden pausing, as the reality of the realm she is in shifts faintly. For the first time in a long time, Hypnocrates feels the compulsion of a girl disinterested in being raped by the tentacle-beasts he had been paid by for that very purpose. This concern, however, only lasts a short time, before the beast acts on it’s own accord, to release her breasts, and arms, albeit the one on her behind does remain.

Early morning immediately twists to get away from the tentacle and it’s purchase on her behind. Stumbling backwards away from it, her hands taking as much purchase on the soft ground/mattress below her as her legs since it doesn’t offer support for walking, or reckless fleeing in this case. “Just… Leave me alone. Let me sleep.”

With a slight shudder, the reality she is in begins to dissolve, the floor beginning to buckle and soften further beneath her, dropping away partially beneath her feet. As the dissolution continues, Hypnocrates’ voice can be heard in an echo

“You were asleep, Morning. That was your dream that you just ripped apart… We will see you again, howeve-…”

Morning wakes with a realization of gravity

Morning startles awake, falling to the side in her surprise, broken potter hard against her side on the dirty floor as she groans and picks herself up, taking note of her surroundings and any changes with them, a little thankful that while she was dusty and dirty, she wasn’t slimy. “More a nightmare.” she mumbles to herself.

Landing on the crockery-strewn ground doesn’t seem to be the worst of her troubles, however, as Morning’s morning is brought to bear, there is a single, metal boot in front of her face, the foot easily the size of her head. A single, metal hand presses against her shoulder and back, and a deep, possibly masculine voice urges in the shade above her.

“Rrlgh-Mrrng. Ghhllll”

“Um… M’krrrl? I still can’t understand you, sorry.” She cranes her neck, trying to look up at him fully.

The hand tightens on her shoulder, keeping her down, and pushing with more than a little heaviness into the floor, the broken crockery pitting into her skin in more than a few places.

“Mggghl Rlnng!”

“Er… I’ll stay down here it looks like? Could you take a little weight off though? The broken shards are rather digging into my skin…” She stops craning her neck and keeps very still and quiet after speaking.

In the street, there is a sound of boots getting closer, and a crunching of masonry, before a loud thumping on a nearby door. An authoritative voice calls out soundly nearby.

“Open up! In the name of the watch. We’re looking for a girl, thought to be in the pay of the Anathema!”

M’krrrl lets go of her, lifting his bulk to shift slowly around, one foot ponderously swinging by as he rotates to face the door

Early morning blinks but remains plastered to the ground where he left her, she didn’t know how good he was at judging his surroundings in that armor but she didn’t want him to accidently misstep and fatally smush her. Taking her leather hair tie out and readjusting it so that the half pigtail was turned into a tight ponytail, allowing the barely noticeably scarred side of her face to be uncovered from it’s usual curtain of hair. Her vision in that eye wasn’t all that bad, just a tad misted, and it would help her to peripherally know where his boots were stepping.

The sounds across the street continue, as the watch guards seem to be intent on ‘questioning’ the occupants, and searching the building. No sounds of breaking can be heard from either; no, they haven’t seen a girl of your description, m’lord. Surely the wisdom of the five dragons would lead them to this scoundrellous traitor? The voices stop, after a time, taking their leave, and heading to the door of the building you were in. Twin shadows appear beneath the doorframe, booted feet beyond in the morning light, one wreathed in dust that seems to well in through the crack. A heavy knock sounds, rattling the thin wood and, indeed, pulling dust from the ceiling lightly. The same voice calls in it’s confident tone.

“Open up! In the name of the watch!”

Early Morning glances up at the ceiling sprinkling dust on her in irritation, she had hoped that a ‘safe house’ would equate to Raven somewhere she wouldn’t likely be disturbed. She was still shaky after the past few days and had only wanted a little bit of time to herself, to figure things out, get her head on straight. This also completely ruined what plans that she had had for this evening, namely waiting till the sun wasn’t so unbearable and purchasing some thread to mend her old garments and maybe a hair brush, there was just so much one could do to thread fingers through in hopes of getting rid of tangles. Still she was more afraid of being stepped on than anything else right now so she stayed put. Maybe the nice guards would let her be instead of making her cry and beating the crap out of her like they had been usually inclined to in the past. Really it was good she had quit trying to be a thief some time ago, if she’d kept it up she’d be a crippled idiot, they’d already slightly impaired vision in one eye after all and scarred that side of her face a little, though that was usually covered up by her thick hair. If she didn’t think that the sun would fry her scalp off she would have shaved the troublesome mass off long ago, it was like she had some kind of a limp animal on her head at times, one that decided to make it impossible for her to get cool.

With a push, M’krrrl grips the door solidly, lifting it completely aside, as the hinges finally give up their attempt at holding together, the door coming aside in his? grasp. Standing directly in front of the entrance, the massive form completely blocks the view from outside; though the two sets of armored boots can be seen from between his legs; one with elemental earth coiling around quickly.

Early Morning remains still and silent, watching the scene…. well watching M’krrrl’s back and remaining quiet. Don’t want to startle the big figure after all, don’t want to get stepped on….

The voice seems to pause, not taking the normal stride that it had with the prior house, instead remaining silent for a good few seconds; enough time for M’krrrl to speak instead, his form a blockade against observation.any further into the building.

“Mrrrrrr?”

Early Morning remains quiet, though muses on how that sound is more like that of a kitty than seeming to be actual speech.

The guards, seeming to have lost their train of thought at the juggernaut, recover quickly, with the earth-blood taking his normal tone once again, as he does, he seems to try to lean past, to no avail, the creature’s arm blocking even the slit in the window as it rests, casually, on the nearby wall.

“You there! We’re looking for a girl-”

Early morning presses herself to the ground. being extra quiet now, still looking where the large person’s feet were, somewhat interested in what was going on. She really didn’t think that Raven would send her someplace routinely searched, this must be an odd occurrence. She didn’t think that the guards usually came about places like this, too many nasty smells.

The earth-blood guard, now irritated by the large figure’s presence, begins to speak louder, aggressively, over the protest of his air-blooded comrade

“You! I don’t care whether you are in the mood to deal with us or not! By imperial mandate, I order you to stand-”

A loud shouting begins to come from another side of the building, and a brief shadow flickers overhead, through a hole in the roof that Morning seems to have overlooked given the wreckage of the construction already. A heavy thump, followed by a crashing, comes from the roadside, and all three armored figures look startled (as much as M’krrrl seems able to look startled, anyway). The voice, however, was immediately obvious in it’s message before being thrown into a nearby neighborhood.

“Anathema! Alarm! Anathe-”

Early Morning presses herself closer to the ground, broken sharp pottery shards or no. Looking forward, she spies the hammock, lavishly bedecked in soft blankets and such. With the three distracted with whatever had cried out that alarm she silently makes her way over there, using her thieving training to move undetected, even with the distraction. Moving on her fingertips and her booted toes, her possessions balanced on her lower back as her whole body holds taut in the movement she moves forward to the area under the lavish hammock. Taking her small bundle and bringing it up to her midriff she tucks herself on the floor under the hammock, carefully pulling a few blankets half off as if they had been flung aside on their owner vacating it, but concealing her. Feeling helpless at the whole situation, wanting to run but unable to, not stupid enough to run from guards, and not stupid enough to reveal herself especially when the yelling made everyone so damn twitchy. She only had the option of hiding, her small frame indistinguishable in the corner, her thinness allowing her to collapse in a ball that younger children would be hard pressed at attaining. Hiding under blankets, and darn near crying too, why wouldn’t people leave her be? Or her surroundings for that matter? Moisture gathered in her eyes but she didn’t dare whimper, even though getting even more upset and confused than before. She waited for even more shit to hit the fan.

The two guards, startled at the show of obvious violence, begin to make their way past the building altogether, while M’krrrl turns to where he had seen you last. No longer being able to spot you, he makes a noise akin to “Hmph”, before he turns back to his spot in the wall, one hand casually jamming the door once more into it’s place. Sounds of combat can be heard behind the wall, which move rapidly further into the area of the rooftops.

Early Morning pulls the blankets to the side to look at him, “What was that?” her head sticks out from the tent under the hammock, the side of her face that has a spiderweb pattern of old scars, not big enough individually to deform her face exposed since she has her hair pulled back. There’s smears of dirt on her cheeks from wiping her eyes with her sleeves.

The statuesque form looks over at the hammock, his expression covered by the metal of his armor. He shifts, lowering himself to the floor, and giving her a nod, shifting his head with an audible cracking of bone as he seems to stretch his neck. The sounds of combat seem to leave rapidly, although the alarm seems to increase quickly, before soon there is silence, other than the sounds of some of the nearby houses emptying to see what the business was all about. M’krrrl seems to think a time before he rummages into a big sack tied to his belt, pulling out a handful of stale looking crumbs and clumps of some bread, he holds his hand out towards you, rumbling as he does.

“Unnngh. Yaaaaaaaagh rrrrrt.”

Early Morning scoots from under the hammock to hold out her hands to accept the bread, smiling at him. He was a good roomie, as long as he didn’t step on her she was happy to have him, even if she couldn’t precisely understand what he said.

As she seems to finish the bread, the armor moves silently once more, bringing a very well polished casket from the depths of it’s sack, holding it out like a thimble in it’s grasp. Once again, the urging.

“Nnnnn’k!”

She reaches up quizzically to take it, looking at him in confusion, “What is this?”

The hand moves again, urging once more

“Nnn’k.”

Early Morning carefully opens it.

Inside smells of nothing at all, however, to the touch it is both cool, and heavy. Within, a small opening shows a liquid flowing motion that moves back and forth. At seeing your expression, M’krrrl imitates drinking, holding his own massive hand to his mouth, and tilting his head back.

“Nnn’k!”

Early Morning smiles at him and drinks, the stale bread taste being washed away by the much needed liquid in the current heat of the late day.

The water is both cool (amazingly), and crisp, no flavor to it’s body while she drinks. If she drinks eagerly, then there is only about a cup’s worth within the bulk of the flask, quick to be devoured.

Morning drinks but doesn’t glut herself on the water, knowing that consuming it too fast might make her queasy. Having taken her fill she closes it and hands it back to M’krrrl. “Thanks!” She chirps as she gives him a friendly grin.

The being doesn’t say anything, but nods in return, before putting the cask back into his sack once more. After a few moments, he looks at her, tilting his head.

“Rrrrgh rrrrrh?”

His voice sounds… quizzical, perhaps?

“What is it?” She questions back, looking quizzical herself.

The figure growls, and repeats itself, elaborating.

“Rrrgh ghh rrrh? Rrrrlgh Mrrrrrngh”

Early Morning shakes her head, “I’m sorry but I still can’t understand what you are saying. The only part I caught there was I think my name. Can you write? The floor is dirty enough to make marks in I think?”

The figure seems to take heart from the thought, and with quick motions, moves the table with a ‘thump’ against the wall, before pausing, looking at the ground. Taking a finger, he begins to trace, carefully, line after shakey line in the dust and muck.

*The text, when he is done, reads:

JMMDL***HNNS***KKM**4; ((including *s for the completely unintelligible scrawlings.))

Seeming pleased with his handiwork, M’krrrl sits up, and speaks, in his own way, with full confidence.

“Rrrgh rh ggh rrrh?”

Early Morning looks over the scratchings, “Hmm… From what I can see that didn’t come out exactly understandable either… It’s obvious that you can write from the letters that I can understand.” She looks up at him, “Is something preventing you from using language?” she asks, “The best we can do in that case is charades and yes or no questions I think…”

With a growl, M’krrl deflates, sagging as though his pride had just been hit. Shaking his head slowly, the armored body seems to shift back, sitting on the floor once again with amazing quietude. He seems to wait for a time.

Early Morning stands up and pats him on the shoulder, “Hey, it’s alright, we all have things that we can’t do.” She turns her head so that the slightly scarred side of her face is showing, “Not being able to communicate through speaking isn’t that bad. Look what I got from failing to be an even adequate thief. Got the side of my face torn up by a guard’s fist, not being able to talk can’t be nearly as painful, so cheer up!” Early Morning tries to raise his spirits.

M’krrrl shudders, the ground shaking lightly as he begins to stand slowly, the building loosing dust from the ceiling when he reaches it with his head. Hearing the sound of anathema-related combat leaving further from the house, he reaches easily across the gap of the house to the door, gripping it tightly and pulling it free.

In the sudden burst of sunlight, the black armor across his body really does begin to look less like armor, and more like a carapace; the plates glistening with some inherent life of their own as they effortlessly and silently slide and fuse with one another over his form. The shadow he casts through the room is more than enough to keep the sun’s reflected heat from being too uncomfortable, but the wind, carrying the clay outside’s oven-baked temperature, seems to hit like a furnace being opened.

On the scenery outside, a number of people seem to be, of all things, complaining vocally about the Tri-Khan having let the Dragon Blooded in as many number as they were into the city.

Having come out of their roughly searched homes, some seem in rapid argument in the local tongue (Delzhan), some with smatterings of Realm Imperial, and further down the road, a woman angrily banters at someone in the melodic callings of the Lap. The common theme outside, however, is aggression at the Terrestrial’s presence.

In the distance, the guild and local merchants compete for audial dominance in the markets; even here, you can distinctly catch the trails that ‘Cynis Yelkim Barak sells the cheapest stonefruits this side of Great Forks! No where else will the flesh be sweater, the juice thicker!’.

Amidst that, the flags of nobility seem to flutter in the wind’s agitation, making the noble’s district tense if the superstition is to be listened to. Elsewhere, the guards of the city, the pride of the Chiaroscuro army, make a show of their post along the wall with a fanfare and fluster of scimitars and spears, something of enough of a splendor at the midday and evening guards that parents would occasionally bring their sprats to watch it – an hour’s entertainment or two for the young eyes at the flashing of steel and perfectly synchronized motion of the guards essentially drilling their weapon strikes at each other.

Just outside of the region you are in, the dead quarter reeks of rot and sickness, Grandmother Bright unable to do much against the smells that would escape the dead still within that area. Despite the work of hundreds of civil servants, those killed by the Contagion still number in the thousands who are yet to be buried properly, an ever-present threat against those wishing to keep their soul within their forms.

Nearby, there is a strong pang of scented oils carried on the wind, and there is a slight shout of someone calling the rules of a duel to first blood – the right of anyone who can trace their ancestry back to Kha-Khan, the legendary founder of the massive city of red glass, clay, and jade.
Looking back at Early Morning, the juggernaut tilts his head in an apparent question.

“Mrrr ghll rrrgh k’mrrrgh?”

Early Morning looks up at him confused, “I’m sorry but I still can’t understand what you’re saying.” Looking at the door and the blast of heat and reek she wrinkles her nose, “Could you shut the door? You’re letting the heat in. And that’s really cool armor by the way,” She smiles up at him, making her way over to the corner in hopes that the shadiness of it will ward off the heat a bit. “If you don’t move the door back you’re going to get all crispified too in this heat.” she warns.

M’krrrl steps out into the daylight sun, shielding his face with a single outstretched hand as he does, turning, unmindful of the heat, as he looks back at the girl in the doorframe. His voice quietens, taking a more serious tone.

“Kmm.” A second’s pause, then: “Rgh. Mghh.”

A hand beckons to her from the street, before he repeats himself. “Kmm”

Picking herself up and dusting herself off she nods, “Alright,” Smiling at the giant person, and following him inquisitively.

The street below burns lightly, as is expected of the clay in the sunshine, but he begins to hurry despite, or perhaps because of it, darting with surprising nimbleness through the street towards a destination he didn’t seem willing – or able – to mention. Soon, they seem to pass a grisly scene – a single, cleanly severed leg dangles from a nearby gutter, blood having sprayed violently from it onto the wall below, the jade armor matching the color of the guard who had been intent on trying to pry past the large thing. Without pause, he continues, only stopping if she does – his tone occasionally coming out as he moves.

“Kmm! Krklgh!”

Early Morning doesn’t stop, having seen glimpses of such things before on the streets. It was safer to play ’don’t ask, don’t tell’ than anything. She averts her eyes from the limb, hurring behind him.

Before too long, the massive ‘person’ stops at a single building, Looking back at her, he gestures to the door, no sign or markings showing that this place is any different to any others on the street. Within, however, is also an eerie quiet, as though somehow the graves of the northern quarter seemed… buried into here.

Early Morning’s voice is a bit hushed as she turns back to M’krrrl, “Um, this place is creepy…” She bites her lower lip in nervousness, “Can’t we go to someplace less eerie?”

M’krrrl shakes his head, urging once more with his hand to the doorway. Even in the heat of the sun, the place seems to have an unnatural chill emanating from it, like the damned were waiting. Like a pit into the abyss of death.

In the distance, a dog barks, and a child screams in disturbance. The thick smell of ginger and spices wafts nearby – rich man’s food.

Hesitantly she steps within the doorway, looking back at M’krrrl with concern before taking a look about her surroundings within the building, her hands coming up and rubbing her upper arms in the chill of the place.

Within the darkened building, seems to be scavengings of the burned wreckage of an immaculate temple; a thick alter depicting the five dragons in their glory, arched whalebone-style beams roughly held in their original place by the forces of nails and screws, and artifacts of obvious religious significance. Around this, however, on the walls, seems to be ornate paintings of a man; descending from the air on wings and looking to the city from his place in the desert. Around him, thousands of warriors spring from the sand, and together, they take the city from it’s prior occupants in a bloody battle. The five dragons smile on him, and bless him not only with wealth, and children, but also with peace and trade, the Scarlet Empress herself bringing news of acceptance and warmth. It is a story familiar to anyone who opted into the public education given by the local loretellers, storytellers, and old men keen to recount history. The Kha-Khan, the man who made Chiaroscuro into a city, as opposed to a ruined den of thieves and bandits.

Early Morning turns back to M’krrrl again, looking at him in confusion, “Um, Why did you bring me here?” Giving another glace about the room she moves back to the doorway, “This place gives me the creeps.”

Walking into the room as well, M’krrrl makes his way, almost reverently to the wall, gesturing to the first image, the Kha-Khan descending from the skies. He then points at Morning, before pantomiming some action involving both arms being up, like a play at jumping or diving.

“Rrrgh”.

Without pausing, he then moves around to where the waters part for the Kha-Khan, allowing him to meet the Scarlet Empress. Again, he points back to her.

“Rrrgh.” – This time, he pantomimes swimming.

Early Morning stares at him still in plain confusion.

Walking his way to the altar, M’krrrl very carefully makes a gesture of Immaculate submission, and then kneels, gesturing only to the side to beckon her over.

She comes over next to him and kneels down as well, though never having put much faith really in anything intangible, it’s still good to show respect to what the person who looks like they could smush you like a grape is paying respect to no matter how friendly they seem.

For a long time, M’krrrl doesn’t even seem to move, before the door cracks open again, and a tall female, dressed in black and scarlet armor – jade, perhaps, but very vicious in tone and color; jagged spikes erupt from her form like spines from a pineapple. Looking inwards, she seems surprised to note the occupants, but then nods, respectfully.

Early Morning stays quiet, not moving from where she is, simply relishing right now the quiet and coolness of the room, no matter how creepy it’s origin seems to be.

The female walks into the room properly, the door swishing almost silently behind her, crossing the room to the pair of you, and dipping in a quick mark or respect, before muttering in a low tone, something almost menacing in it’s inflection. Besides Morning, M’krrrl begins to rumble faintly.

Feeling very awkward Morning remains silent.

The female, seeming to notice the threat, turns to look at the massive being. Seeming to regard him for the first time, her expression changes to one of disgust.

“Wyld thing – stay your tongue. I am Sesus Evaja, and my business here is with the god that uses this holy place as a sanctum. Do you dispute my right, as one of the chosen, to do so?”

Early Morning does what did for years on the streets where there was some dispute she didn’t want to get involved with, which is to say all of them, pretend to be invisible. It might not work but it was comforting on a mental level.

M’krrrl seems content to accept that, though begrudgingly, and as he relaxes, he falls back into a pattern of prayer once more. The female, seeming to notice, turns to Morning instead.

“And you, uh… girl? Do you have any quarrel with my seeking the god of this temple?”

Early Morning shakes her head, indicating that she has no problem at all with it.

Satisfied, the dragon-blood turns her attention back to the prayer, or chant, she had been reciting. Almost immediately, a spectral form steps forth from the ether, an angry-looking old man with silvered skin and bronze fingernails, who looks not at the Sesus girl, but at Morning directly.

Like always when reality decides to make it clear that Early Morning is not invisible she is somewhat put out. Though she’s till sticking with her thoughts that this place is still very creepy but it is nice that it is cool, though she doubts that this is some god of cool rooms. Though in this city that kind of god might be very practical and well liked for such an effect.

A voice echoes quietly in the room, although the ‘god’ doesn’t seem to move even it’s lips.

“Why ask, when you are too blind to see her next to you, Sesus?”

It’s laughter seems irate.

Early Morning blinks, wishing that reality didn’t go to the trouble of putting up big signs about her neck, especially when those that apparently read them were reading ’let’s mess with the street rat today!’ Why were so many interested in her anyway? She just wanted peace and quiet and to be left alone, but nooo…. Morning’s face goes into a deadpan as this line of thought runs through her head.

The female turns to look at her in stark amazement, and disbelief.

“That?!”

The god, laughing mockingly, looks back at her openly, his posture straightening.

“No, of course not! Your own ignorance keeps you from seeing the real new Exalt. It’s the cockroach on the floor nearby, of course. Stupid wench.” – Without waiting for it’s obviously aggressive response, the god vanishes into the ether from where it came.

Sesus Evaja looks at Morning in continued disbelief.

The girl, having finished eying Morning up and down, smiles blithely.

“I wouldn’t have expected it. But such is the scheme of things. Stand up, I want to have a good look at you.”

Beside her, M’krrrl growls a bit louder, obviously uncomfortable with the way the trip to his temple had turned out. The girl, however, seems content to ignore him utterly, her weight shifting to one leg as she looks Morning over, her expression a mixture of wry amusement, annoyance, impatience, and stark pity. In the dimmer light, the spines on her armor seem to glisten with some form of demonic inner glow.

Early Morning grumbles, not looking happy with this turn of events, “Why is every day ’let’s pick on the street rat day?” She sighs and gets up, though then she makes for the door, as if ignoring random somewhat nonthreatening dragon blooded is something that she did often.

Calling out into the room, Sesus Evaja snickers to herself, watching to see the girl’s reaction to the comment, and expecting her to either run, or be astounded.

“Sister! You’ve been lost a very long time now.”

Early Morning turns and lifts a brow, “I’m sorry but I don’t recall ever having any siblings, and would much rather stay that way. Bye!” Early Morning decides that turning tail and running now would be the best course of action. Intending on leading her away from the ‘safehouse’ till she could lose her then looping back.

Breaking into a grin, Sesus laughs, tightening her hands into fists as she begins to bound after the running urchin, glad for the chase. Inwardly, she had been hoping to make the assignment more interesting than a simple offer-and-acceptance, and her blunt, tactless approach gave her what she wanted, and she was pretty sure she could keep it from her father that the girl had been spooked into running from her. But no matter – the hunt was on finally. And with ample spending of small charges of essence, the dragonblood began to leap from the road to the rooftop, following her ‘prey’ with almost wild abandon.

“Sister! We only want to share our house with you!”

“Pfft! It’s probably messy!” Early Morning calls back, she enjoyed a good chase at times as well, though the enjoyment often was tempered by necessity. Now though she could run and mock the one chasing her, since she was fairly sure that this dragon blooded wasn’t going to beat her senseless as others, and the guards were wont to do. She takes a winding path through the various alleyways, attempting to lose her under eaves and other overhangs, changing her direction most often under these, not bothering too look up and around her as that would slow her down. She blanks her mind of everything but the run and the evasion, and the snide little comments to be tossed back at her pursuer.

As she dips beneath eaves, or verandas, Evaja just leaps easily to the opposite side of the street, nearly knocking one roofier flying as she lands with the grace of a sparrow on the tiles he had been layering, not knocking them aside or losing her footing, running across the beam nimbly, before darting once more to the side she had been sprinting along.

“So you’d fit right in? We have a kennel if that would suit you better than a bed?” She laughs – the same insult had been given to her that morning by her brother.

Early Morning grins and strafes backwards, back into the alleyway she was about to come out of, “Ooh. Good one, Though I doubt you know what a kennel looks like since if you went near one in those spikes all the dogs would be dead!” She switches direction again, not really thinking of where she’s going to keep up the unpredictability of her movements, enjoying what had in her mind, degenerated into a game.

Noting her sudden absence, the dragonblood concentrates, pushing off the wall with tremendous strength, leaving a slight indent as the wall caves slightly beneath her force, flipping backwards across the road and into the alley itself, her hands gently continuing her impromptu flight as she turned to avoid hitting the fleeing girl.

“At least we’re not Cynis, they’d only be dead! Besides-” The retort is cut short as the local guards suddenly cry out in alarm and warning from nearby, apparently roused from their laziness from the activity on the road. Cursing, Evaja kicks from the wall she rides alongside to slow herself into the other side.

At the guard’s shout, Early Morning’s eyes narrow in annoyance as she spits a curse herself, instead of her previous headlong enjoyable rush she ducks herself down so that she’s moving at the same pace but at a lower height so that at times she’s partially obscured by crates and bits of trash as she moves through the alley, putting extra strain on her thighs but nothing she isn’t used to, having used this low sort of run before to escape pursuit of authorities. As her movement is better controlled by her stance, her feet don’t make as much noise as she slinks/runs, picking up a clay pot that she passes in another heap of trash that has been cracked to uselessness and chucking it down the opposite direction, it crashing and breaking against the wall there, to provide some noise confusion to the now alerted guards, the dragon blooded she’d been playing with ignored now in order to avoid contact with the authorities – which usually ended painfully.

Unfortunately, unlike earlier encounters, the guards recently seemed to be on high alert – even as she throws the pot, several arrive from both ends of the alleyway, one nearly cleaned up by the pottery and darting back rapidly to avoid it. The remainder watch into the alleyway belligerently. Marching forward forcefully, one of them steps out, flaring a green aura to give an air of authority – unfortunately, it seems to work, as the very air seemed to sit still around him, a hushed tone of respectful fear that seems contagious. Striding up, he calls in a very proud tone.

“Cynis Broken Wheel! You, perpetrators against the peace, have been apprehended. Come peacefully, and the house may have mercy on you, in the BENEVOLENCE of the immaculate dragons!” Without pausing, he adds orders to the noise he makes.

“You two! Take the girl covered in fleas. You four, the armored whore.”

Early Morning sighs and stands up straight waiting for the guards to take her, annoyed that her playmate had caused attention to be brought to them with all her flashy stunts. Her face takes on a bored impassive look, since she had been though being arrested and usually smacked around before. This was nothing new. Though she did wonder why it would take two to restrain her, an underfed, scrawny street urchin, her real talent was in running, there wasn’t any way that she could overpower them once caught.

Evaja straightens, looking with a raised eyebrow at the man. “What charge, again?”

Cynis smirks. “Sesus. Disturbing the peace again? I remember what the matron said you should have done to you to keep you from acting up all the time. You four, help the others. We’re going to have some fun with these two.”

The two guards near her seem to cringe at the comment, one sighing resignedly to Morning, speaking in low tones as he takes one arm, his companion doing the same.

“We are sorry, saheed. We will be as gentle as we are able to under his watch.”

Early Morning winces at that, crap, probably a sadist, and twists her wrist about to pat the nice on that apologized on the hand briefly, not giving any fight and resigned to whatever it was that happened.

Before the guards take her, Evaja walked with deceptive speed to the other exalt, smiling at him.

“Aww. Broken Wheel. You know as well as I do what would happen if the Tri-Khan found his daughter being molestered!”

Cynis scowled broadly at the woman, almost spitting, before concern crossed his face. Looking at the guard captain nearby, he asked in a tone not quiet enough for the alley, sotto voce.

“Is that the Tri-Khan’s daughter?” The captain, not a man of noble associations, looked trapped.

“Yes, Saheed Cynis.” The lie undetected, Broken Wheel looked back at Morning again, blinking in confusion, the caste mark of elemental water flaring subtly on Evaja’s forehead before she spoke.

“See, Broken Wheel, love? The scars on her face… you remember hearing about his daughter’s accident?”

“Don’t you?”

Early Morning keeps silent initially, not wanting to be molestered herself, but also not wanting to be caught lying herself. Instead she gives her best confused puppy dog face, widening her eyes to make herself look more innocently confused. “We were just having a game of chase, helps improve reflexes. I had to wear these so that my normal clothing wouldn’t get dirty.” She speaks the truth other than the reason her other clothing was left behind, making sure to give her words and accent careful consideration. She ducks her head theatrically, eyes moving off to the side, “I don’t like talking about the accident…” she trails off softening her voice so that she seems more upset about it. though the accident was letting the guard catch her as a kid…

Cynis pauses, unsure of himself, before Evaja turns to the eight guards prompting to try to ‘apprehend’ her.

“Well, then. Come on and hurry up – the sooner we start this, the sooner it’s over, no? And you know the Matron would never want to be caught keeping the Tri-Khan’s own waiting.”

The two guards alongside Morning seem tense. Very tense, indeed, before Broken Wheel begins to laugh, suddenly and uproariously.

“You almost had me, you callous bitch! Even I thought this was actually the Tri-Khan’s whelp. But if it was… where’s the golem he has protecting her, then?” Taking a knife from his belt, he spins the golden-jade hilt in his fingers, looking at the girl with an expression she’d seen on an earth-blood just before he had tried to molester and drown her.

“Hold still, slut. I’m going to make sure those scars aren’t mistaken for anyone else’s.”

Early Morning draws back a bit in fear though not able to go far because of the guards holding her, her eyes widening in fear that is in no way feigned. Her mind panicking though there is a small part of it that is banging it’s head against the wall at Evaja’s ploy that she would pay for though technically she wasn’t the one lying her ass off.

At that moment, the guards at the back of the line give cries of alarm, drowned out only by a throated roaring that seems to be preceded by panic. The crowds from the street flood lightly into the alleyway, overcoming the guards until they too start to run, avoiding the dragon-blooded only by pressure of training from birth. With a blood-thirsty tempest of noise, M’krrrl finally catches to the end of Morning’s pursuit, slamming into the wall at the end of the alley with enough force to break the windows and wall alike, dust, plaster, and wooden debris flung into the air around him. Pulling his arm from the wall, he bellows into the alleyway, drowning the cry of surprise from the dragonblood.

MRRRRRGH RRRRRNGH!”

Evaja, not waiting to let the moment pass unused, quips without the fear present in her stomach.

“You mean that golem, Wheelie?”

Morning looks both relieved and concerned at M’krrrl’s appearance, relieved that he’s playing the rescuer, but concerned that he might get in trouble as well. “Try not to damage too much property? People don’t like that…” she manages to get out coughing a bit at the fine debris in the air.

Broken Wheel, demoralized enough to not look carefully at the ‘golem’ at the end of the alley, makes a hasty apology – sincere-sounding in his panic, before ordering the remaining guards to pull back. A rampaging golem was trouble, even if it didn’t have potential to have you executed if you fought it. Within seconds, the alley is clear, other than the angry mutant, Morning, and a cackling Evaja, who seems to be pointing the way that the Cynis man had run.

“Did you… did you see… I think he shat himself!”

Early Morning walks over to M’krrrl, and begins to dust the debris off of him, “Uh, yeah, I think we’d better leave though before your bluff is called again. You almost got me cut up if M’krrl hadn’t come when he did.” She smiles at M’krrrl. “Thanks M’krrrl, let’s go someplace where things aren’t so hectic alright? I could use a nap and you probably could as well. Sorry for ditching you like that, habit.”

M’krrrl growls still, but it seems more of a confused, accepting growl, confused why the raucous seemed to solve without a fight. Looking suspiciously at the dragon blood currently doubling over, he seems to begrudgingly accept the apology. Unfortunately, so does Sesus, who straightening up despite the spasms of her laughter, calls back.

“That’s alright – I didn’t expect you to come back with me right away. But now that twit’s gone and ruined the chase… so it’s time to talk.”

Early Morning continues getting the dirt and dust off of M’krrrl, “Lets get to another area that hasn’t had such a disturbance yet then?” She looks around at the bit of property damage, “Then we can talk.”

Evaja nods, calming herself with effort, and walking over to them, ignoring M’krrrl’s obvious aggression to her.

“The Sesus manor would be safest; and I give my word you’ll be free to leave. Guests, not prisoners.”

“I was thinking maybe just move into a different neighborhood if this talk won’t take long.” She pats M’krrrl, “I don’t think I’d be quite comfortable in a manor.”

“Then not the manor. We have gardens, you know.”

Early Morning sighs, “Fine, the gardens then, lead the way.” turning to M’krrrl she asks him, “Want to come? I’ll be back later if you don’t, but I’ll be happy to have you along.” She smiles at him.

M’krrrl growls protectively, putting one armored limb over her to hold her in place. Leaning forward, the armored place can’t be described as anything but hostile, but Sesus ignores it.

“Oh, shut up you big ball of metal. She’s willing to come along, and we’re willing to get her food and water while she rests up, and we can explain to her what happened in the river.”

Looking back at Morning, she gives a somewhat reassuring smile. “Because I was just as confused and scared when it happened to me.”

Early Morning doesn’t look impressed by her offer, “Well in any case let’s start walking, and try to be civil to my friend alright? He did save us and so far you haven’t been very nice about it.” She turns to M’krrrl, “And stop with the growling, she’s just trying to bait you. Do you want to come along then? I’d understand if you didn’t with her being nasty.”

M’krrrl growls with a huff, and stiffly steps back to let them walk. Taking the initiative, Evaja smiles, nodding at him amicably, before turning to the girl again. “Alright. This way, then? And I’m sorry – I didn’t want to offend.”

Early Morning smiles at him and gives him another friendly pat before giving a more wary look to Evaja, “Lead the way then.” and she starts following her.

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Plot so far (Welcome to the game!)

Halrighty then.

To cut a long, long, long story short, I will summarise the plot so far. Expect me to forget or mix up things until further corrected by the players.

Story began (prequels come later) with a group of otherwise unexalted individuals in the city of Chiaroscuro. Don’t know it? Buy the game already. It’s available from any game shop that sells White Wolf products.

The group of unaffiliated persons was bound together with the common feature of either being kidnapped, led, or otherwise ordered into the city’s “Dead Zone” (the old ruined city center), during which a collection of Solar were preparing some form of blasphemous ceremony, inciting bloodletting, orgiastic frenzy, and wanton Solar-worship with abandon. The players then were thrust into the midst of an angry Dragon-blooded mob who wanted to stop said blasphemy.

A death knight rocked up, unleashing a nephwrack into the area to deal with some of the lonelier or less-observed of the dragonblood, the nephwrack nearly dies to the party thanks to their interactions.

Party then divides as it is wont to do – various members being exposed to things to force exaltation – Kage, guildsman hunter, finds a collection of cannibals attacking a caravan just outside the safe reach of the town guard. In his rage, he consumes them with an unleashing of Wood-blooded righteousness. Early Morning, caught by a very vicious and twisted earth-blood (Tepet Rhalkim), is betrayed by Kage (who shoots her in the leg to present her to said earth-blood), then left to drown for Rhalkim’s sadistic enjoyment. To his horror, she exalts in the aspect of Danaa’d.

Another character (“Tea Girl”) was also exalted in the aspect of fire – she left the game shortly thereafter, having a lack of time to continue.

Through varying trials, the party wandered – Kage was possessed by a nephwrack, who began to Skinride him, though he took back to his hunting once. Early Morning went into hiding, discovering first a mysterious being of aggressive appearance (“Production”), which was unable to speak other than by crude writing, and then a member of one of the local houses – Sesus Evaja. As Kage began to track down the steps to a missing girl, Early Morning escaped Evaja’s “bully into adoption” strategy, found a safe-house, and began to work on laying low. Kage however managed to find a man from Gem who had murdered the girl he was seeking, who was selling her body as “meat” for a carnival, leading to a tense face-off and chase for his bounty.

Unfortunately, then the blasphemous Solar circle reappeared, this time secretly tampering with the official salt barriers that were erected in order to keep the living dead within their areas. As a wave of hungry ghosts and ghouls began to attack, the Abyssal from earlier worked to summon a gigantic flesh-beast creation to unleash on the town.

As the town was rampaged on, the two party members heroically ran for their lives, leaving the mortal and terrestrial guards to sit back and pick at it – as unnatural rain began to drench the broken glass tiles. Kage began to be tempted and taunted by (lies of imminent death and promises of power) to the service of the Deathlord, the First and Forsaken Lion, as Early Morning played dodge-undead hopscotch, eventually finding how the solars had tampered with the salt lines.

As Kage swore himself into service to the Neverborn, heading underground for ‘safe keeping’, Early Morning restored ‘order’ to the town’s defense, even as the Solar circle broke their hiding to attack, and far-too-easily destroy, the undead behemoth before a witness of thousands, evaporating once again after as though they had never existed.

“EM” (Early Morning) was admitted to a local temple (of a crafting god) for training under a martial artist monk named “Kalthok”, who’s shady past is not yet revealed. Not given time to recover, she was then attacked once again – first by a siren god that is in service to Parad, though she is saved by a mechanical spirit that knocked her flat and burrowed into her, then by the same earth-blood who had forced her exaltation. Escaping into Yu Shan thanks to the spirit’s ability to teleport her about, she then found the temple under attack by “fair folk”, who also then called further mysterious weather (freezing cold, and blizzards) onto the town.

As the snow fell, the Nephwrack used it’s arcanoi to assure itself that Kage would not rouse from an unnatural slumber, and then reported to it’s master, getting a plan on how to begin it’s role as corruptor and mentor. Rising a mote too early, Kage was left alone in his underground cell, finding the supernatual cold and almost being attacked by first the “fair folk”, and then the monks they were fighting at EM’s temple.

Being admitted, the pair would then meet once more with Kage being accepted for studies alongside Early Morning. However, it is not long before Kage’s “beloved door” (long story again) is destroyed, the pair of new exalts forced into a temporary alliance as ‘goblins’ began to attack them. As they are chased off, the ‘fair folk’ begin assailing EM’s, and then Kage’s dreams despite wyld-protections being placed around them. As the nightmare battles began, Early Morning and Kalthok quickly became intimate. She is also given company of a ‘dream god’ that seems eager to keep her company in her less-turbulant nights, even as Kalthok is convinced by the mechanical spirit (“SPIDER”) that she is an emergency protection assignment by his contacts in the All-Seeing Eye.

With both distracted, nothing prevents Kage’s first steps into soul-consumption and necromancy at the nephwrack’s hand, slaying one of the monks in the midst of the night. As the pair finally find time to leave without snow drenching them, Early Morning meets with her “Momma Raven”, and is introduced to “The Wanderer” (Ith), who begins to teach her of spirit charms, before she is introduced by accidental circumstances to her deceased parents. Kage gets a well-deserved sleep finally, oblivious to the water-blood’s sudden indoctrination to ancestor cultism.

Early Morning is then sent on errands to allow Kalthok time to research about the recent events, finding parts necessary to begin repairs on her gigantic mechanical friend, with Kage sent to ‘act as her bodyguard’. Kage, however, is distracted away on Guild business, leaving Early Morning to be trapped by some of a gang that opposes Raven’s “Flock” gang – the “Fishhook Dads”. Chased to her “Momma’s” shopfront, she is confronted by a godblooded child of a local spirit of trash that is loyal to “Dads”. As she learns more about her capacity for bloodshed-via-teleportation, Kage informs the Guild of his second breath… and is taken note of in better light by some of their higher factors, who then begin to covertly monitor him.

The hunter then tracks his ‘ward’ to Raven’s shop, meeting “The Wanderer” for the first time as he assists with the Flock gang children injured in the wake of the Fishhooks’ attack, as well as a strange being who called itself “Chibbles” that claimed to slay people with only a touch. Together, the three witnessed a personal fight between Early Morning and a friend who had never revealed his attraction (prior to Kalthok’s “claiming” of her), before Kage is taught to read the basic attributes of a person’s past lives – in the process learning that The Wanderer is in fact a Solar exalt named “Ith”, and a circlemate to another Solar night caste… none other than Raven.

As these revelations strike him, Kage is flooded with his own past life – memories of loyal service to a Solar named “Angal”, before he is slain in battle, then raised by the same Zenith caste in order to defend his own tomb. Enraged by this, the hunter storms out, looking for a fight. In the ruins of the city, he is introduced to the wonders of consuming vanquished po, before he is goaded into the murder and subsequent raising-and-binding of a prostitute, though he is witnessed by the whore’s child, who escapes into the city streets.

Early Morning is attacked once more by Rhalkim the following day, the earth-blood considering that nearly murdering her is an appropriate method of claiming her. She escapes to Yu Shan and then after some minor misadventures, she learns that SPIDER has some ulterior motive for finding her. After some acrobatics, she learns that she has after only a scant number of days, become pregnant to Kalthok thanks to her overly-pure bloodline, leaving her insensate from stress for a time. Recovering some hours later, she uses an “official pass” to enter the Palace of the Maker – the forge-cathedral of Autocthon – and aquire an automated repair utility spirit, that then accompanies her to where it can repair the large mechanical being she had befriended.

Unfortunately, it in the process “telefrags” the roof of the building Production had been hiding within, summoning local crisis solver terrestrials to investigate – none other than Tepet Rhalkim and Sesus Evaja, who immediately recognise the girl and begin to battle over her adoption. Battle is only briefly joined, however, before the repairs are completed, allowing the girl to escape.

It is at this point, I should mention, that Frigid arrives by boat – and is then accosted by a pair of guards that are summoned to a grifter’s fake accusations of theft. The guards are starkly racist against his “northern barbarian” look, though quick talking on the air-blood’s behalf saves him from a night in the stocks, and his subsequent escape allows him to overhear none other than “Fishhook” Dads, infamous cannibal, enforcer, and press gang leader, ordering the mass slaughter of the “Flock” to continue.

Kage, however, wakes from an overnight stay at a tavern to discover corpses strewn about, mutilated and partially consumed, apparently by him. His nephwrack is overjoyed, praising him for his “feats of murder and torture”, much to his confusion, then being told that he had been the one responsible for the actions while asleep. Working quickly, he is able to pin the blame for the acts on the apparently suicidal tavern keeper, before leaving to the streets – and inadvertantly running into one of the Fishhooks, who takes offense.

Battle is joined, with Kage and Frigid (who had followed one of the Fishhooks to see what was occurring) teaming up against a small attack group of gang members, though they easily dispatch them thanks to Frigid’s sorcery and Kage’s poisonous miasma of an anima – the lead thug escaping thanks to his own supernatural abilities. Recognising Frigid’s talents, Kage takes him to the Guild for recruitment, where he is accepted as Kage’s apprentice in the arts of hunting.

Escaping from the clutches of both Evaja and Rhalkim, Early Morning then arrives on the scene, before some minor mis-wording of a request to SPIDER lands the lot of them (including Production, Kage, Frigid, SPIDER, the nephwrack, and herself) in Yu Shan’s residential district, near the darkened North-Western forest. And here, we now find the party.

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Rhalkim's Meeting with the Kid

In the docks, a single form descends with a blithe disregard for subtlety, crunching heavily on the steps of the Red Dawn Slaughter as he walked. Holding an apple to his lips, Tepet Rhalkim looked with amusement at the sickened lepers and other diseased mortals beneath his feet as he strode over them.

Ever since the sorcerer child had shown that he was able to curry the flesh into appropriate line for healing, or cure disease, the anathema had gathered a small army of filth, nearly a claw in number. Impressive, if they were worth as anything but paving markers for distance.

Crunching the fruit lightly, the man twisted his grin to accompany the mass of scars running across his face, giving one beggar a grimace worthy of the Deathlords, the crone catching her breath to his laughter.

Lesser men would be concerned about the detriment to their image. Rhalkim reveled in it; the shock and horror of those lessers concerned about such things. Perhaps, though… he could ask the mummy-child about if his powers included fixing the marks left by whores when they were raped.

The door opened before his hand could reach it, and Rhalkim was unable to hold back his surprise as the twilight-caste anathema, the child wrapped in bandages, looked up at him with a cool expression. Behind him, the ship’s room could well have been from another place; a sorcerer’s tower far from civilization, with bones and clay statues, pewter daggers, and a massive glowing ball of mist in the centerpiece. On it, the earthblood could see his own marred grimace, looking at the child he had been tormenting earlier, holding her underwater…

Shit.

“Tepet. I had hoped you would leave that girl alone, like I had asked you to.” The boy’s voice was youthful as well, rich in quality though not apparently age. Reaching out gently, he rested a hand on the guardsman’s knee, a gesture that frankly terrified the earthblood man, but not one he wished to challenge or cause offense by refusing. The muscles in his leg tensed, as though ready for a devastating pain.

“Now, it seems, you forced her exaltation. Into the blood of water, too, it might seem. Do you know how bad that is for us? I hope you do.” From within the boy’s bandages, a slithering thing of gold and steel slid forth, thousands of legs looking as golden shining hairs pushing it’s finger-length body along, a centipede of subtlety.

Wasting little time, it crawled to the earth-blood, and without pause, through his skin and bone as though it were liquid. Gritting his teeth, Rhalkim held his breath, waiting for agony that never came. Instead, the child-thing spoke quietly again.

“But even if you do, it’s of little value. Since you seem too simple to command through speech alone, I will have to use this to chastise you when you fail me… fail us next. I won’t need to warn you of the effects, will I?”

The child of the earth dragon shook his head, his voice shaken lightly with phlegm in his throat. “Of course not, sir. Is that all?”

The child nodded, and without a word, turned to his room and began to walk to the globe once more, the door pushed closed from the inside by invisible hands. Something wet trickled over Rhalkim’s feet, and looking down, he saw the juice of his completely crushed apple dribbling from within his tightly-clenched fist.

Dropping the fruit with a scowl, he marched up the stairs without pause, only to be accosted at the deck by his erstwhile partner for the watch. The maggot’s expression was one of aggression. How dare he leave to search the boat without being backed up by the other. They were meant to work together. The usual drivel.

Reaching for his daiklave, he spun, the combat second nature to him, as he ran the other man through, and then with a flick of his essence, hurled him into the water beside the docks. As the blood pooled on the water’s surface, he paused. Water, or fire-blooded?

When the bubbles stopped arising without sign of his return, he began to walk again, cleaning his blade on the sails as the mortals around him scurried in terror of him. Fire blood, it seemed. His frustrations bloomed within him. Time for a girl to take his rage out on. Someone fun.

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Why Early Morning Exalted

Some secrets are best shared. There’s a theory for some that not all things need to be equal. A small partitian of the Gold Faction support this philosophy, a group of sidreal devoted to not only the solar ruling, but claiming that it is right BECAUSE they are strong. These have had an interesting time on their path, since often their agents are unable to operate directly. But when the chance presents itself, sometimes they can try to find ways of not only diverting some disinherited solars into productive behavior, but through what seems to be natural events. Illegal by the levels of Yu Shan’s law, they invest a lot of time with the pattern spiders of the loom of fate, offering them bribes, blackmail, or even outright benefits in exchange for hiding certain ‘anomalies’, judging their value by the effect they have on fate. In these cases, pairs are sent to monitor but not interact with their agent, instead keeping watch on them and making sure other sidreal are unable to find them, deliberately muddying the waters, so to speak. One day, long ago, a man found this secret, in a bar far from the lands of his birth and disenfranchise. The man had a simple exchange. He would help them, to cleanse a taint from himself that fate had dealt him. In the process, he approached a god known to have the power to take chances with exaltations, and in his game, he bet in a highest regard. His exaltation, a potent one, colored by the earth, in exchange for his daughter’s reincarnation. For three days, and four nights, the pair wagered and brokered, dealt and folded, in games so numerous that the god itself began to get amazed, for the man had studied the arts of gambling to the point of almost making it worship. And then, one day, he won.

His exaltation, against an exaltation for his daughter’s reincarnation

It’s possible to trade your exaltation when the realms of a god are more… esoteric. Had Tremors lost even a single one of the games, with the stakes against him, he would have been mortal – which was fine for him, as his life was giving him nothing, even under the pay of the shogunate of the region. If he had made bargain with the Lady of the Lost, it would have been the same.

But the man was victorious, and despite his elation that his progeny’s returning would be fuelled with power beyond what was her ken – he also remorsed. His aim had been to lose enough to require a bargain, something that was unavailable to him now. And so, into the fray, he offered one last wager.

In his hand, he would take a coin, to drop it to the floor. Regardless of the outcome, his life was forfeit, but the wager would be one of two outcomes. In his loss, he would be stripped of his exaltation, and all that he owned would be the god’s to use as his own. In a win – then the god himself would watch the child, to give her his own luck and hand in fate

The god agreed, and Tremors dropped a blank coin to the floor – neither heads, nor tails, and as this counted ‘cheating’, the guards of the palace descended on him, to end him, as he knew they would. In the scope of his audacity, however, the god approached the dying exalt, asking him what he had hoped for. Tremors explained; he had not determined how the bet was to be made. By his death, he had won what he wished. With a laugh, the god praised the man’s actions. He had lost his life, but in his mourning that was no loss at all. As his spirit left for the lethe, with nothing left to hold it to this world, the god called after him. A promise, that it would be so, in respect for a man who gambled with the lord of the art, and who against all odds, won against fate itself.

That was the end of the story of Tremors, former guardian to the Solar, Raven’s Flight of the Midday Shadow. Four hundred years earlier than his intended death by drowning in his own blood in a bloody battle against a rival shogunate…

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