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The room glowed with warmth, its walls carved from the center of a gigantic pearl once presented to the Maiden of Serenity by Praelor, Grand Daimiyo of Shellfish, as a token of his ardor. Cobalt silk covered the floor, and tapestries that would make the finest Exalted artist weep with inadequacy lined the walls. Placed here and there were sculptures of the finest quality, small heaps of jewels, artifacts and novelties the likes of which would never be seen by a mortal eye.

And in the center of the room, a large circular canopy of joyous tears hung from the ceiling, suspended on fine chains of starmetal.

And inside those curtains were five large, luxurious pillows made of fine silk and stuffed with clouds and the prayers of children.

And upon those pillows sat five Maidens.


Calibration. The stars shine a little dimmer, the moon turns its face from the sky. The golden morning loses its luster. For these five inauspicious days, the Incarna turn their faces from the world and from their precious Games. And, far away from the joyous din of the Festival of Meeting, five sisters spend an evening of family togetherness..

Truth or Dare

"Why must we always meet in your abode, sister dear?" Saffron eyes flashed with petty irritation as Mercury took another bite of peach. "I mean, it's nice and all, but--"

"First of all, don't speak with your mouth full; it's bad manners and it makes you seem like you're in a hurry," Venus gently interrupted. She took a slow sip of her Celestial Wine. "Besides, where would you have us meet? Mars' home is on the battlefield; Saturn's home is in the grave. Your home is on the road, and as for our last sister.."

Jupiter quirked a smile and slightly shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh, don't give me that." Venus sighed in irritation. "I mean, really, it's scandalous that you won't even tell your sisters where you live. Yu-Shan isn't even that big!"

"I know," Jupiter admitted, and took another drink of wine.

"But we digress." Venus' face slid smoothly into a state of sweet repose; she smiled once more at Mercury. "I am the goddess of home and hearth; I know we are all equals, but when it comes to home, I am the authority."

"Enough arguing." Saturn's quiet voice broke the merry banter like a rock wrapped in velvet. "There are other ways to pass the time."

"I miss the Game," Mars blurted out, and then hid her blushing face with her glass of wine as she drank.

"We all do," Saturn consoled, "but there is a time when the round must end, and it is now. We'll start the next one soon enough." Mars shot her sister a look and lapsed into stony silence.

"I know!" Mercury interjected cheerily. "It's not the one we're used to, but I have a game we could play."

Jupiter looked up, her green eyes glowing with a cat's curiousity. "Really? What are the rules?"

Anyone who passed by the Heart of Joy that evening would have been able to hear the racous laughter pouring out of the giant pearl-- partly from the celestial wine loosening inhibitions, but mostly from the game that the maidens had taken a liking to.

"Okay, okay. Jupiter, choose-- Secrets or Ventures?" Saturn's violet eyes, usually sad and resolute, glinted with amusement.

"Ah.. um.. Ventures." The ladies groaned their disappointment.

"You ALWAYS choose ventures! No more!" Venus sighed in irritation. "What fun is it having someone who knows every secret ever created playing if they always choose Ventures?"

"Don't worry, sister dear. I have an idea." Saturn turned to Jupiter. "Your venture is to speak a name."

"Just.. any name?"

"The name of one person you've ever loved.. physically."

Venus hooted with joy and pounded her hand into her pillow, spilling a little of her wine. "YES! That's your Venture!"

Jupiter blushed bright red. "That.. That's not fair." She turned to Mercury, her eyes pleading and urgent. "Tell them that's against the rules."

In a mockery of her sister, Mercury smiled slightly and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know if it is or not. This never came up in the games that I saw. We never said it wasn't, so..."

Jupiter sighed and mumbled a name.

"What did you say?"

"I don't have to say it twice," Jupiter snapped petulantly.

"You do if we didn't hear you," Mercury retorted. "That much I do know."

"You better not be making these rules up as you go," Jupiter pouted.

"I'm not. Swear. So tell us!"

Jupiter's face flushed and she looked at the floor. "Chejop Ke--"

"Kejak!?!" Venus laughed until tears rolled down her face. "He is quite a savant in bed, I'll give you that, but your own Chosen?"

The room got quiet.

Jupiter looked up, her face no longer flushed. "What do you mean, he's quite a savant in bed?"

Venus sighed lustfully. "It was the ponytail that did me in. Don't blame him, dear sister--"

"I don't." Jupiter's words were green venom.

"It's just those young men. They're so energetic," interjected Mercury.

Jupiter blinked in disbelief. "You too?"

Mercury looked uncomfortable. Saturn blushed.

Jupiter lept to her feet and pointed an accusing finger at Saturn. "Don't think I didn't see that! Is there a single one of my sisters who didn't sleep with my greatest Chosen?"

All eyes focused on Mars, who blushed mightily and quickly downed her nearly-full glass of wine. "I think I need a refill."

Venus' blue eyes were as wide as the summer sky. "You mean you haven't ever..?" Mars shook her head. "My dearest, sweetest sister, if only you had said something! I could have arranged a tryst with the fairest mortal you've--"

"No. You couldn't have." Mars' tone was flat and cold, edged with sorrow.

"Just leave it be," soothed Jupiter, wrapping an arm over her maligned sister's shoulders.

"I thought you'd be having liasons left and right, demanding men into your tent every night-- I mean, all that conquest! What fun is being the Maiden of Battles if not inviting men who fear death into your bed for one last night of sweetness?" Mercury's sighed, her eyes far away and dreaming.

"Nothing lasting could ever come from such a tryst, not with our dear sister Saturn so eager to pluck their threads from the Tapestry."

"Enough of that," Saturn interjected, pained. "It is not my wish to kill, only to end the things whose time has come."

"Like the life of Triumphant Wren," Mars spat.

Jupiter sighed and closed her eyes momentarily, rubbing her temples. Saturn blinked, confused. "Who?"

Mars laughed bitterly. "You don't even remember his name."

Venus squeezed her sister's leg, her face softening in sudden understanding. "So tell us."

"He was just a mortal, you know?" Mars swallowed hard. "None of us arranged his birth, and our cousins overlooked him-- I don't know how. He was amazing, an unsurpassed swordsman. He even took down a Lunar, once, in single combat. And he was so handsome... His smile, it was like the light glinting off a daiklaive in the noon sun. So bright, so full of promise."

"Why didn't you bring him here? Make him your companion?" Venus delicately dabbed some peach juice from her mouth with a silk napkin.

"I've never.." she sighed in frustration. "I live for my work. I lead men into battle, not into my bed. And as much as I loved him-- and I loved him with everything I had-- I knew it would somehow lessen him to take him away from the battlefield. The sights of Yu-Shan would beguile and entice him, and he would be happy to stay here.. But he wouldn't have been himself. Or so I have told myself, over the years." She sighed once more, sullen.

"He loved me back, you know." Her face was lit momentarily with a winsome smile. "He was completely devoted to me. Every battle, every victory he claimed in my name. He prayed to me twice a day, and made regular sacrifices. He put some of my priests to shame with his devotion."

"Did you ever appear to him?" Mercury was on the edge of her pillow, completely ensconced in the story.

"Once or twice, in dreams. To give my blessing, or to warn him of ambush. He never knew how much I loved him. I had finally gotten the courage to bring him here as my consort, when.." Her eyes filled with water and she turned away.

"When he died on in the field of the Seventy-Seven Willows, during the Uprising of Tolan," Saturn finished quietly.

Mars looked up bitterly, tears on her mannish face. "You honor him with your memory."

"Shhh," hushed Mercury. "You know she can't stop death, any more than you could stop war."

"I would try," said Mars pitifully, "if it could bring Wren back."

"Tell me something," said Jupiter. "Let's suppose you had made it there, in that instant, to sweep him to Heaven and make him a God, your personal consort, dining on the Peaches of Immortality. Would he still be spending his days fighting for his life on the battlefield?"

"Well, no.."

"Would there be kills for him to dedicate to your honor? Battles won by him in your name?"


Jupiter smiled softly. "He lived for you. He died in your name, as well. Don't you see? Wren, as he was, would have ended that day even if you had taken him here."

Mars sighed. "You speak the truth, sister." She turned to the Maiden of Endings. "You're right, all things must end at their appointed time, and that includes my animosity towards you. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?"

Saturn crushed her sister in a hug. "Of course, my dear. Of course."

Mars pulled back slightly. "So Kejak, huh?"

Saturn blushed and giggled. "He was better than some. Wayang didn't make a sound!"

The other sisters laughed uproariously.

Venus cracked a wicked smile and refilled everyone's wine glasses. "You know, Mars, if you're over your grief, I could set you up with Alhat. I hear he's into virgin warrioresses.."

Everyone groaned and laughed, and all was right with the five sisters in the Heart of Joy.

-Thanks to Dim and CrownedSun, apologies to GCG. -dissolvegirl


I always figured Mars would be a virgin goddess.\\ _Ikselam

Sooo, the Maidens and Chejop Kejak, eh? That'd be one hell of a God-Blood in the making, wouldn't it? - Patkin

Obviously none of them wanted to get pregnant. That's how being a goddess works.\\ _Ikselam

I was waffling between Mars and Saturn for the "virgin goddess," but figured Saturn would probably get some nookie from pretty goth boys. And there's no way I could resist making Kejak a man-whore dissolvegirl

It has to be Mars, because she's obviously more like Athena than Ares, and Athena was one of, I think, two virgins in the entire Greek pantheon (the other being Artemis). \\ _Ikselam And anyway, Saturn would just be like, "Our love ended, as is the way of all things. Could you please pass the nachos?"

This is the best Exalted fiction I ever read! O_O\\ White-Wolf should put it in their next book! ^_^\\ - VelZiliuse

I've been waiting to say how much I love this story ever since I first heard of the ExaltedWiki. And now that it's back, I can say: I loved this story. Should have been in Sidereals. :) TheT

This is really good and quite funny. Now we just need to pare it down to it's essentials, make it really mysterious sounding, then use it as a sutra in a siddy level MA. That would be so cool.