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Gracious Ivory Crane ("Just call me Crane. Everyone does.")
Game: Stalker's 'Orichalcum Legion'
Concept: Spirit Court Ambassador
Anima: Feathers, Feathers, and More Feathers.
Bureaucracy 4 (Celestial Bureaucracy +3)
Linguistics 2 (Native: High Realm, Old Realm - High Heavenly, Riverspeak)
Socialize 5 (+3 "Fitting In")
Performance 5 (+2 Oratory)
Presence 5 (+2 Social Grace)
Lore 5 (+3 Spirits)
Occult 5 (+3 Spirits)
Awareness 5 (+3 Social Situations)
Break: Heart of Tears
Artifact 3 (Dire Lance: 'Herron's Feather', Silken Armor, Hearthstone Amulet)
Influence 2 (Spirit Courts - Bureau of Seasons)
Backing 5 (Spirit Courts)
Familiar 2 (Small songbird- Orchid)
Mentor 3 (Shogun-Regent Ghataru of the Bureau of Seasons)
Manse 4 (Celestial: Seacalm Gemstone 4, Terr: Gem of Grace 3, Terr: Stone of Shelter 1)
Mertis & Flaws:
Past Lives 3
These are linked in concept. His shard (White Crane on Still Water) has a Caregiver nature that borders on Martyrdom. It's pushy about past associations, and the Past Lives shard flashes are its way of going on about what *it* thinks he should be doing with their current incarnation. That agenda includes a few lovely things like finding the reincarnation of its First Age gal (She's a Terrestrial Dynast and a student at the Heptagram) and the new incarnations of its Circle, never trusting another so-called Sidereal "friend", and putting back together the agreements it was working on in the spirit courts at the time of its last rather melodramatic demise. Obviously, Crane and... well... Crane... don't always see eye-to-eye.
Mastery of Small Manners
Welcome Guest Method
Graceful Courtier Attitude
Wise-Eyed Courtier Technique
Graceful Deflection Technique
Distracting Banter Method
Motive Discerning Technique
Masterful Dissimulation Method
Harmonious Presence Meditation
Herron's Feather is an ornate and rather wicked-looking short qiang (horseman's spear) of pale wood and white jade. Obviously antique, and covered with a motif of feathers and long-necked birds it would be easy to assume that it had belonged to White Crane in the past. It didn't. Herron's Feather belonged to Matsujonoryu, and was passed down through her terrestrial family line (The patrician family that Ivory Crane was born into-) to the present day... Eventually White Crane may allow Ivory Crane to remember the broad-bladed spear's origin (It was his gift to Ryu when she and her brother agreed to become his yojimbo-), but it hasn't happened yet.
Crane, Tanamuri Lir, is originally from the Blessed Isle... a little town called Skybound Water that grew up around the ruins of a First Age temple complex. Renowned for the medicinal properties of its hot springs, Skybound was exceptionally popular with Dynastic idlers, and Crane's family (patricians themselves, though associated loosely with the Sesus-) owned a hotel popular with the courtly set. He grew up learning the social niceties and constant balancing act of survival among the mannered when you're not really one of them. It's a game he's very good at.
He left the Realm right after his Exaltation in an effort to avoid the Wyld Hunt and to spare his family the trouble of being associated with "one of those Anathema-people". It really wouldn't have been good for business. Though the journey was very difficult (For some reason nothing seemed to go quite right... His horse ran away, wagon wheels broke, he missed the first ship he was supposed to sail aboard... It was a traveler's nightmare- Almost as if Fate was trying to prevent him from leaving. ^_^), he did eventually manage to make his way to the Threshold.
His spirit associations have all come along since his Exaltation, and he doesn't quite understand them yet... Spirits just seem to like him. Some claim that they remember him, and a few times he has met beings that he's seen in one of those weird visions he has... They tell him that he used to be some kind of ambassador to the spirit courts. He's not quite sure he believes that, and being able to see disembodied Small Gods floating around has definitely taken some getting used to. Having them come to him to help settle problems with humans has been even stranger.
He met Ganelon in Gem, and remained with the Dawn caste swordsman after their mission there turned into a disaster... He's gotten good at talking his friend out of trouble. Except in Nexus. That situation proved to be a little more difficult than he'd expected.
Along the way, he's rediscovered a fair bit about his past, including the location of Kyoden Cloudfall, his First Age "country house", and the current where-abouts of Matsujonoryu's reincarnation. He hasn't quite figured out how to approach that topic yet... and for the moment he's mostly content just to get the occasional bit of gossip from Coils of Silk or the playful zephir named Indra regarding the young Dynast http:/DragonsDaughterWeb.jpg and her friends. He knows that eventually he's going to have to work up the nerve to approach her, but other issues just keep getting in the way.
After the battle with the deathlords and their army, the wind spirits recommended Crane to Shogun-Regent Ghataru of the Bureau of Seasons as a possible candidate for reclaiming that division of the Heavenly bureaucracy. Crane was surprised to find himself summoned to Yu Shan by a god he'd never met, but handled the situation well enough to impress the divinity. Much to the dismay of the Bronze Faction, he became Ghataru's apprentice soon after, and was given an official position in the bureaucracy. By virtue of that position, he was also given control of the Celestial manse Whirlwind's Eye... the traditional heavenly residence of the Solar members of the Bureau in the First Age.
Officially sanctioned and salaried resident of the City of Cities or not, Crane isn't entirely comfortable in Yu Shan... His distrust of Sidereals (of all Factions-) makes the prospect of crossing paths with them so often more than a little frightening, and the Bronze members of the Capitol Convention have made it abundantly clear that should he move against them, they have no qualms against using certain Heptagram students as leverage. Being a member of the Bureau of Nature offers some protection against outright assassination by the operatives of the Bureau of Destiny, but for the moment, he's still trying to keep a reasonably low profile in Heaven... if only for Kareyeru's sake.
About 25 and on the short side of average, with fair hair and golden-hued hazel eyes. Speaks with an obvious Realm accent.
Having Fun with Crane, Traditional Splatbook Style
Crane speaks for himself-
“Good afternoo- Oh… It’s you again.”
“I really don’t know what more I can do for you. The stone burrowers are most unhappy about that new cellar, and are adamant in their opposition. You know how stubborn the children of Earth can be when they’ve made up their minds... No, I don’t think that offering them more wine-…”
[sighs] “Alright, alright… Come inside and we’ll discuss it over tea. There’s no sense in arguing the point standing on the landing… You must forgive the humble nature of these lodgings, I’m afraid. I travel so frequently that it makes little sense to maintain a proper household.”
“Ah… Yes. The bird’s song is quite beautiful, isn’t it? It’s species? I’m not entirely sure. I found Orchid in the midst of a flock of caged rice birds that were destined for skewers in the market. How so colorful a creature was mistaken for a common rice bird I’ll never know, but the seller seemed quite amused when I insisted on having the entire lot live instead of roasted. I opened the cage and I let them all go. But this one stayed. A curious thing… but the world is full of curiosities these days.”
[laughs] “Mind the lance. A crude object to have in one's front room, I must admit... Doesn’t it look ferocious? Oh, don’t worry. I don’t really know how to use it… It’s just an antique. It belonged to an ancestor of mine who was a member of the Legions, as I recall… Quite the family hero in her time, I’m told. I only keep it to discourage certain of my less savory neighbors. This isn’t the finest of neighborhoods, I'm sorry to say... Though it looks like it might have been very grand once, long ago. It could be again with a little work.”
“Now… about those stone burrowers under your tavern-“
Song of a Perfect Orchid… youngest son of Fallahana, Goddess of the Songbirds of the East and Chee-ree-kett, a black-throated crimson warbler… discusses his companion Gracious Ivory Crane
“Curious about my young friend, are you? Well, that’s not surprising… Curiosity is what you magpies are all about…”
“He’s a descent fellow for someone without feathers. ‘Not the most grounded or realistic egg in the nest, and a little slow to take a hint sometimes, but- [ruffles feathers]… You know how it is with this new generation of Sun Followers. All sound and fury and idealism to go out and change the world… It’s charming, really... Just as long as you don’t stand too close or end up in their path.”
“He had some trouble accepting the Spirit business at first, but he’s learning. That’s a good thing, if you ask me… The courts used to be a lot less messy from what I’ve heard, and there’s going to be trouble soon if somebody doesn't step up and start talking some sense back into them. I think Crane here, and the other ones like him, may be just the people to do it. 'Maidens know somebody needs to and it's not going to be those Dragon-Bloods.”
“I’ll be right there with him, of course... 'Nearly got myself cooked as an afternoon snack trying to get this gig, so I'm not going anywhere... Because, like I said, Crane’s not the most down-to-earth person I know. He’s an idealist and he assumes that everyone else is too. There are too many beings in Creation that'll take advantage of that, so the kid needs all the help he can get.”
Coils of Silk, a minor goddess of the Department of Serenity's Heavenly Division of Courtly Love in charge of the Arrangement of Destined Reunions, has her say on Crane… both Past and Present
“Crane has always been… How can I put this?... A difficult case. The other shards’ reunions with their proper mates were reasonably simple to arrange. But him? Ha!... Nothing about Crane is ever simple. Ever!… Do you have any *idea* what we had to go through to make sure that the right soul was reincarnated at the right time, in the right place, with the proper breeding and elemental Exaltation? It's not as easy as simply shuffling shards when you're talking Terrestrials, my dear... It took a nightmare of petitions and paperwork the likes of which my department hasn’t seen in… oh… a thousand years. And what does HE do? Does he take the hints we practically dropped on his pretty little head like a summer rain? Oh no… Of course not. HE picks up his silly little spear and his silly little bird and runs to the Threshold! Meanwhile the poor girl has herself hidden away at that nasty Heptagram with those... people.” [sighs]
“At least there seems to be something of the old one left in him, and *that one* remembers what’s what... He always was a favorite with the Division, even though he was murder on our workload... Very bright, that White Crane on Still Water, and so sweet-natured... He would have appreciated the trials that we had to go through and the strings that we had to pull to make this work… But the younger one? Gracious Ivory? Don’t get me started… He has a lot to learn if he wants to live up to the last Crane we knew.”
Crane Remembers… A Dream of Sky-Bound Water
Being a A First-Age Vignette to Introduce the Circumstances of White Crane’s Demise and His Supporting Cast
Ivory Crane speaks.
"I sometimes see things that I don’t understand. Great battles and the courts of the gods. Cities razed to the ground only to be rebuilt in white marble and magic… It’s all very strange. Most of these things I see only once. But there’s one vision that stays, and I’ve had it many times. It’s a gentle enough dream. There are no flames or scenes of war… but it's no less a nightmare. Its cruelty just lies elsewhere.
"I'll try to explain… I know that I'm not making much sense.
"Though I grew up not a stone's throw from its walls, I never set foot within the ruins of the temple at Skybound Water until after I became… what I am now. I was never drawn to explore it as others had, and so it came as something of a surprise when I felt a great urge to go there before I departed from my home. Perhaps I shouldn't have listened to that instinct. I wonder now, if I hadn’t… would I still know what happened there? Perhaps not.
"What I saw when I crossed into that place was not the old foundation and silted pond that remains, but a vision of what Skybound had once been. The red gate was whole. The temple stood proudly. The lake before it was still, and clear, and many lotus flowers grew there... The temple lawn was green, and there was a stone lantern, and an old willow tree. It was very beautiful.
"In the dream I walk through the gate, every time, and I stop at the tree. I lean against it, and I watch a woman as she moves beside the water. Watching her is like watching the sun rise. She wears the silks of a high-born of the five dragon’s Chosen… though how I know that, I can't guess. Her braids are midnight blue and fall to the hem of her robes, and her eyes are the color of the summer sky. She smiles at me as she dances... with a zephyr coiled around her, laughing.
"On the grass nearby two others sit… a young man with the same blue eyes as the dancer, so much alike that I know they must be brother and sister. He’s laughing as he watches her, singing the song that she dances to. The other is older… wilder somehow… with unkempt hair and a scarred face that makes him look very fierce. But he smiles too, and when he does there’s great affection in it.
"As I wait, a third comes forward… bright-faced and little more than a girl, with fine, unreadable eyes that shine with stars. She too smiles and turns to watch the dance.
"I love these people who stand in the temple garden with me. They're the center of the world, the sun and the moon, and I think to myself that I want to be with them forever… To stand and to watch that dancer and her wind spirit until Creation ends. But the third speaks to me and she says that the temple keeper and some small god are waiting… and that she and I must go, and leave the others here.
"And I always do. I always turn away from them and I always go with her… and in that one act lies the great cruelty of the dream. I know that it will be the last time that I see them... Because the bright faced girl and the old priest betrayed the one that I was at Skybound Water on that day, and he never returned to the temple garden to see the end of the dance.
"...And it's a fate that I can do nothing to alter.
"The earth spirit Shard of Onyx has told me that after the destruction of the one that I was, the scarred man, whose name was Heart of the Moon, destroyed the temple in his rage and so was cursed. I don’t know what became of the dancer or her brother... or the bright-faced girl. The spirits have never told me."
The observer, of course, was Lirion Kyra (White Crane)... The present Crane's last incarnation.
The dancer was Matsujonoryu (Her name means "Dragon's Daughter" and that's how I usually reference her). She's the one whose reincarnation is currently resident at the Heptagram... Bronze-faction Central. She was (and is-), a very talented spiritmaster. You’ll find her elsewhere on the wiki. Her name is Tepet Kareyeru.
The wild n' scruffy one was a wolf Lunar named Heart of the Moon... He has the distinction of being the last member standing of this little opera's cast. Alas, he got his furry butt cursed for destroying that temple and its keeper (An unlucky water aspect named Mirror of the Maidens, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time-). 'No clue what his latest incarnation is up to these days, or if he wandered off into the Wyld, or what.
The brother was Kokaya (Falling Arrow). Just for fun, he may or may not also have a reincarnation running around somewhere. Like his sister, he was Dragon-Blooded. She was an Air aspect, he was Wood. They served as Crane's guard when he traveled. As the name implies, Arrow was an archer. Dragon was a martial artist with a talent for spears.
The young girl was Kooroji-Neru (Iron Cricket). She's the advisor who turned what's left of White Crane completely against the entire batch of Sidereals. She was a Chosen of Serenity, if you can believe it. No clue what she's up to these days either, but you can find her First Age write-up elsewhere on the wiki.
His actual Solar circle remains undefined. These people mentioned in the garden dream were just his friends and traveling companions... though all of them were very important to him for one reason or another. Dragon (who was White Crane's True Love) and Moon (who was his Lunar partner through many incarnations) in particular.