Back to Session 40 The ruined library is silent save for the wind outside and the distant pounding of surf on the cliffs of the Isle of Shadows. Shen and the Auspex in Crimson are studying the old chart of the Isle, while Peleps Leden stares up at the ceiling. Monkey is fidgeting. The Admiral is reading through the caster's notes on Keel Cleaves the Clouds in the grimoire of Ashbeni can Tokam of Gem while Saji examines his wound.
Monkey fidgets fidgets.
Saji harumphs. "Not too bad, Admiral. You should recover soon and without lasting injury," he says as he passes his hands over the slash, "especially if you slow down a bit for the next few days." He stands up. "Not that _that's_ going to happen. Did you have any further need for me, sir?"
Monkey . o O ( Well David, I think this is your scene. )
Admiral Kaizoku is not being a patient patient himself, ever more unhappy with the state of the base on the Isle and his attack on Laden among other things... though a plan is developing, as it so often does. He gives the odd couple a curious glance. "No, Mr. Saji, that will be sufficient... when you return, give the order to have the wrecks in the harbor surveyed with an eye to which could be raised for salvage... perhaps your boat would be best for that, Mr. Shen?" He looks to the new sailing master of the fleet.
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Maybe. ^_- )
Shen looks up from the chart. "Aye, Admiral, it'll be but a small task with my lass in the water."
Admiral Kaizoku nods once. "Indeed. Her insights would be valuable as well... I would like a chart of the harbor within two watches, Mr. Shen."
Shen grins and looks at Monkey. "Betcha an obol I can get it done in one."
Admiral Kaizoku walks over to the table where the chart is and puts his palms down on the wood. "Now..." He looks to Laden and the Auspex. "Let us compare notes... we have a common enemy here, and should know of how he came to be our foe."
Monkey . o O ( Oh, he meant one watch. Okay. )
Admiral Kaizoku says, "I do indeed. He killed one of my best officers to send a message that declared the seas belonged to him...""
Monkey answers Shen, "You're on!" not bothering to check whether he has one obol with him or not.
Shen says, "Aha! I'll see you in one watch with a complete chart!" He tosses off a salute to the admiral as he and Saji leave at a fast walk.
Shen says, "Aha! I'll see you in one watch with a complete chart!" He tosses off a salute to the admiral as he and Saji leave at a fast walk.
The Auspex says, "Though he rarely flaunts his power, that is a claim many of his servant make. Thus he extends his grasp to distant ports."
Admiral Kaizoku says, "His hand will be smashed if he reaches it towards the Solar Navy again... and I presume you are late of his service, madame?"
The Auspex says, "The Bodhisattva has no name, but his title speaks of his anointing in the dark waters of the Underworld. Once you have sailed them, you can never fully escape his gaze, no matter how long you sail under the clean sun."
She faces the Admiral and says, "Yes, I am. But that is a tale best told by Leden."
Leden says, "If you wish. It is a simple one in the telling: I, an agent of my family and the Water Fleet -- in that order -- was spying upon the ships of the Silver Prince, seeking news of the pirate called Moray Darktide. I am skilled, but the arts of the dead are difficult to escape with merely mortal cunning. I was captured by a nemissary in the port of Coral, and carried to the dungeons of Onyx. The captain of my prison ship was the Auspex."
He continues, "In Onyx, we saw each other often, as the Silver Prince treated me as an honored prisoner. We found some things in common, and in time we pledged to aid each other in escape, for I soon saw that she was as much a prisoner as myself. She had long cultivated friendships among certain of Onyx's ghostly populace, and with their aid we escaped. In the course of that long night, the power of the Sun came to me."
Admiral Kaizoku looks between the two of them, reflecting on how some Deathknights may be redeemed.
Monkey says, "So you went straight for this place?"
Leden nods to the Auspex, who picks up the story. "Since then we have sailed both the seas of the living world and the dead, ever seeking to avoid the agents and the power of the Bodhisattva. We have been guided by the Loom and the Calendar to this harbor, and I believe I have finally discovered why." She looks at the Admiral with an odd expression on her beautiful, alabaster face. "Strangely, it was only as your ship entered the harbor that I came upon this," she says as she opens a small book that sits aside from the pile of tomes on the table. It is black and dusty, but familiar to the Admiral's eyes: A harbormaster's logbook.
JesseLowe . o O ( BTW, the Admiral does not _know_ that deathknights can be redeemed, though he may hope it. )
Monkey says, "Let me see, let me see."
JesseLowe . o O ( Ah. Gotcha. )
The Auspex carefully turns the pages of the logbook until she is about two-fifths of the way through the book. "Here," she says, "In the tongue of the Shogunate, in the fiftieth from its founding -- near as I can tell -- the harbormaster notes the arrival of... well, read it for yourself."
Monkey . o O ( I favor the "is it yummy?" approach. If said deathknight seems interesting, I'll play with it for a bit. If not, assume a haughty air and leave. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Admiral reads High Realm, right? )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Yep. )
JesseLowe . o O ( 'kay. Posing. )
Monkey . o O ( Being a Dynast and everything. )
Monkey recognizes some words and phrases. "Hmmmm, whoever wrote this made quite a bit of grammar and spelling mistakes. I think that's ship, two caties, a dragon of soldiers, and a bucket. But the whole thing as a whole doesn't make any sense!"
Rising Water 3, 50. At noon, the Lucid Vision docked. Wai Tan-Junai Maghreb requisitioned the use of a talon of engineers to perform maintenance on the tomb. Chumyo Su Lin assigned a warstrider fang and ashigaru dragon for security.
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Do any of those names stir memories? )
The Auspex moves her finger a few entries down. The next one reads "Rising Water 8, 50. Maghreb returned to the harbor, having completed maintenance. Casualties were light."
Monkey . o O ( Cool, I got 2 out of 4 correct! )
JesseLowe . o O ( No, they don't. )
Admiral Kaizoku's brow furrows as he tries to think of what could be in a tomb that would require so much security... and what happened to the contents since then.
The Auspex says, "Do you not understand the significance?"
Admiral Kaizoku says, "It would seem that the security contingent was left at the tomb..."
The Auspex says, "Not exactly. The tomb was already guarded, and the security contingent was necessary to ensure the engineers survived long enough to ensure the wards were still in place. And what else would the Dragon-Blooded Shogunate guard so strongly -- and with such casual disregard for their own soldiers -- if not the resting place of their ancient rulers?"
Admiral Kaizoku steeples his fingers. "Driven by the fear of their return and vengance..." he muses. "The Dragon-Blooded of the past had true reason to fear the Solar Exalted, not use them as a scapegoat for all their troubles..."
Monkey says, "Now that we're here, consider it done. So where is the tomb? Let's go!"
Admiral Kaizoku clasps his hands behind his back and straightens up. "I have found one part of my past in another location... it was fraught with peril." He looks over the Auspex and her delicate condition.
Monkey . o O ( Probably should discuss the fate of the ship, but hey, there's a new shiny thing! )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( If it's a tomb THAT big, maybe there's a ship inside! )
Monkey . o O ( Do I know it? Speaker? )
Admiral Kaizoku says, "One of your fellow Deathknights, I presume? Hunting you down for your crimes?"
Monkey . o O ( I thought it was some sort of sea godling. I mean, with a name like that I can see it being a member of the Water Court. )
The Auspex shakes her head. "If that were so, 'twould be easier, I think. No. The Speaker for the Sea is far older, though of perhaps of lesser power. She is a nephwrack, a priestess of the Void. And she holds the heart of the hekatonkhire Pontoppidan."
Monkey says, "Who? What?"
Leden says, "Hard to explain. You know what a behemoth is, yes?"
Monkey says, "Yeah. Big thing. Well, I'm pretty sure there are other important bits, but mostly big."
Monkey . o O ( Sad thing is I actually know all the jargon. )
Monkey says, "Ah, so it's a... big thing. With other things, but mostly big. Right?"
Monkey says, "Yeah, but it's big. Cool. Let's go see it then."
Monkey . o O ( I'm such a geek. )
The Auspex says, "Have you seen cachalot, or the octopid, or the river dragon? The hekatonkhires are the great ancestors of these, dead but too great for death to swallow, and so they linger and roam the Underworld."
Admiral Kaizoku says, "Thus, we will need a bigger ship... what have you found here, precisely?"
Enlightement dawns. Or maybe not. "Ah, too big, eh," Monkey says. "That just mean we'll have to cut them into smaller pieces."
The Auspex says, "The ship we are working on was a project of the Speaker for the Sea. When we arrived, her war ghosts and spectres attacked us, but we drove them back and seized the harbor. I have warded it, but we have not dared the land beyond the walls. Ordinarily, Leden's skill and my necromancy would give us the edge -- I think -- but I dare not use dark magic until I give birth. So we wait, and to keep idle hands busy, we build."
Monkey . o O ( Canon fact: when you kill a yozi, it gets reborn smaller. Canon fact: yozi and malfeans are primordials. Preposition: despite being dead, Malfeans and Yozi share similar qualities. Canon fact: Malfeans can't pass on because their soul's too big for Oblivion. Thus they're trying to widen Oblivion. Theorem: Alternate approach. Instead of widening Oblivion, we kill the dead Malfeans again. Theorem: Dead again Malfeans gets reborn as smaller Malfeans. Theorem: Do that enough time, and you'll get something Oblivion bite-sized. )
Leden says, "And we need a ship in any case. The one that brought us here is all but sunk. If the Speaker's plans are accurate, this new ship will be a powerful weapon in its own right, swift and deadly. Though I dislike the soulsteel planks, I'll take any edge I can get to protect her."
Admiral Kaizoku says, "I would be very interested to hear how someone so close to the edge of death can bring a new life into Creation, but that must wait. When did you last see the Speaker?""
Admiral Kaizoku adds "What is in the second drydock? I believe enough Orihalcum can be salvaged from the sunken vessels to make a single capital ship functional, if there is one inside, as I suspect.
Leden says, "Two months ago, give or take a week. That was when we attacked and took the harbor. She was a gaunt thing, lashing her slaves at us with crazed words and magic, but when the defense failed, she melted into the forest."
Monkey . o O ( Orichalcum. Worst come to worst, cannibalize Unconquered Sun. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( I was really hoping to avoid that possibility... it means a long time in hostile waters with no ship. )
Admiral Kaizoku says, "And was there any sign of her hekatonkhire?"
The Auspex says, "The bare frame of a warship, yes. Nothing but the keel and half the ribs have been laid, though I believe sufficient material to finish it is stored up in warehouses around the harbor." She leans forward. "A greater worry would be the disrepair of the dock itself -- the engines of creation do not weather the ages so well as the bare keel, and they need much work."
Monkey says, "The situation seems simple enough. You guys want to find something to use against the Silver Prince, but this Speaker is in the way. You'd take her on, except she's in a delicate way. No? Well, with the Admiral's permission, I can take care of the Speaker. Then we go look for that thingamajik in the tomb. Dunno after that though."
Leden says, "No. It's a sea monster, and the battle was on land. However, some of our people have seen things in the waters around the island, and some of our scouts have not returned when they venture beyond the reefs. A pale shadow consumes their skiffs."
Monkey says, "Hey, Admiral, you think we can shelter them at Iridia?"
The Auspex says, "A sea journey would be unwise at the moment. My time is near."
Monkey ponders, "Actually, looking for Speaker sounds like work. Maybe we ought to just go straight for the tomb. She'll show up then, I think.
Admiral Kaizoku nods. "Exactly... her strength is her sea monster, and she was last seen on land... we could set a trap and draw her away from that strength... with something close to a full Circle and the power of my ship behind us... she would fall.
Monkey . o O ( Hmmmm, the traditional approach is to tie a maiden to the reefs as bait, cut off a medusa's head, and when the kraken shows up, use the medusa's petrifying gaze to turn it to stone. )
Admiral Kaizoku looks between the Auspex and Leden again. "After that though... would you join your cause to mine? Become part of the Solar Navy, part of a shining beacon to restore hope in this time of turmoil?" he asks sincerely.
JesseLowe . o O ( hang on a sec. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( We're low on maidens... )
Monkey . o O ( That's what she wants you to think she was thinking of you. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( I think. )
TonyC admits that he tacked on the last half to make it sound more confusing.
Leden leans forward. "Sounds intriguing. Tell me of this Navy. I'd heard a little about "that damn Kaizoku" in conferences with my superiors back in the Water Fleet, but nothing of a Solar Navy." He's got a bit of a cagy look -- like he wants to know what he's getting into.
Monkey . o O ( You do realize that Resonance is going to make things interesting in Iridia if she takes the offer. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( I know, I know... it's a big island though. )
Monkey says, "And what about you, Lady?"
JesseLowe . o O ( Heh. Resonance is already making things interesting for her. That's one of the reasons for the funereal garb... when she has that kid, it's gonna spike. )
Monkey . o O ( Worst case scenario, a small corner of Iridia got turned into shadowland. )
Monkey . o O ( Anyway )
The Auspex says, "Where he goes, I go. Where he stays, I stay. His people are my people. Where he dies, there I will die, and there buried."
Monkey . o O ( And there your ghost will stay, haunting and mourning forever. )
Admiral Kaizoku leans forward as well. "I'm sure you heard many things about me, but it is what you saw in the numbers and reports that told the tale... I have been making war on the corrupt and bloated Realm, to be sure. But in the fall of Celeren makes it clear there are much greater problems in Creation. I am attempting to re-create the best of the First Age with my navy, to show that the Solars are worthy of respect, trust and leadership not from divine gifts but from their actions to protect the peoples of Creation from the forces of darkness."
JesseLowe . o O ( Of course! )
JesseLowe . o O ( Admiral: what are your true motives concerning both the fleet and them? He's using Motive-Discerning Technique on you. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( As stated vis a vis the fleet... the Mask spreading his shadowlands being the most important force of darkness that concerns him now. And as for them, he would like them to join up to further those goals, and also to thwart the Silver Prince, as whatever he wants can't be good, and that's good enough for him. )
JesseLowe . o O ( okay. )
Monkey says, "No offense, but what are we going to do while we're here then?"
Monkey is being his usual "Action Now! Plan later!"
Admiral Kaizoku smiles grimly at that turn of phrase, liking it very much. "We will use our many able hands to repair the dock and complete two powerful warships, Monkey, draw out the Speaker and finish her and find the tomb of our past.
Leden says, "Well... if you're itching for action, there's parts of the harbor complex we haven't really explored. Seems they're haunted by ghosts older than the Speaker, and far less rational."
JesseLowe . o O ( Pause for a moment. BRB. )
Monkey says, "Hmmmm, something of value.... I know, The Unconquered Sun!"
Monkey . o O ( This means that if you haven't expecting one already, expect a night attack on The Unconquered Sun. Possibly even as we speak. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( That's why I set the double watch and had the weapons manned. )
Monkey . o O ( Ah, do we tie Mr. Shen on the reefs then? )
Monkey . o O ( The problem is Monkey can't stay still for long. After the first ten minutes, he'd be worried that the Speaker already came and left and will want to untie himself and check the surrounding area. Being a Solar, he'll get untied. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( OK. )
Monkey . o O ( But that shouldn't stop us for making fool-proof plans guaranteed to go wrong in the most interesting ways. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( The best one involves fighting her in the forest, of course. Unless there's a Command Warstrider in a hanger here. )
Monkey . o O ( Warstrider? Nah. Speaker has been here ages. If there's one she'd found and use it. Probably as scrap material. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( It's a big place, and Solars are fond of elaborate setups... There could be all sorts of fun things hidden around. )
Monkey . o O ( OOC: I favor going straight to the tomb. If Speaker shows up, so be it. If not, then we'll find something useful and can take care of the hekatonkhire on our way out. )
JesseLowe . o O ( back. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( OOC IF there's something useful there, of course. And WB! )
Monkey . o O ( In my estimation, Speaker isn't a threat and could be ignored until she gets uppity. )
Monkey . o O ( Welcome back. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Then a diversion to draw her off the other way, instead of a trap. )
Leden says, "I don't know any particular weakness or desire the Speaker may have. The Auspex knows little, as well. And she has done little in the last two months aside from launch the occasional pack of hungry ghosts at us. It's a little unnerving... either she's too weak to bother us, or too strong to bother with us."
Monkey . o O ( I think we can get away without that, even. It's Pontoppidan that's a factor. Unfortunately, I don't see a way of getting around it. I just can't see us, or even Shen, sneaking a ship around a behemoth-equivalent. )
Monkey says, "I vote for too weak."
Monkey . o O ( Oh. Wait, I see the set-up. Alright, I agree, we ought to find Speaker. )
Admiral Kaizoku spreads his hand out over the charts. "Show me the exact location of the tomb..."
Monkey . o O ( Speaker has Pontoppidan's heart. We find it, and we get to order Pontoppidan around. So Kaizoku should plan and take that into account, and just tell Monkey what the plan is. I'll suggest some Dawn-like stuff, but that should be the general set-up. )
The Auspex says, "I think it's here, in this valley." She points to a spot about twenty miles due south of the harbor. Little notations near the area are in old High Realm for "restricted area."
Monkey . o O ( Little do they know that the site is actually a First Age Toxic Waste Containment Plant. Oh wait, Solar Tombs are such. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Especially after the Annual All-Celestine Chili Cookoff. )
Admiral Kaizoku looks to the Auspex. "Are you able to travel such a distance? Or to engage in battle?" he asks her. "While my crew sees about rebuilding the facilities here, we should strike out for the tomb... perhaps putting a skiff to sea to draw her attention in the other direction first. We will defeat her on land and dispose of the heart she holds."
The Auspex says, "I may be able to travel, but I can fight only in the most extreme risk. Indeed, I am reluctant to use even Charms at the moment."
JesseLowe . o O ( I'd like to put off actually going after the tomb or the Speaker until Brian shows up, so probably next session. )
Monkey . o O ( And the Grand Chili Chef Prize would go to Jupiter with her Chili Surprise. "So what's in it?" "It's a Secret." )
JesseLowe . o O ( Which isn't to say a scouting mission or something is out of the question -- but I'd rather not go straight for a boss fight right now. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( As would I, but if we've got most of a plan in place... )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( It'd be a faster start next week. Hmmm... probing attack? )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Or we could check the dock and the other ship, see what can be done wtih that. )
Monkey . o O ( Okay. Recent sessions have been really short. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Yeah, I know. I've got about an hour fifteen before I need to go to bed. So... check out the rest of the harbor or do a probe into the area beyond the walls? )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( And we don't have the exact location of the tomb... we could go find that now. )
Monkey . o O ( Therefore if he miss something, he miss it. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Point made. )
Monkey . o O ( Pick a direction. )
Monkey . o O ( Only with David's agreement. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( OK! )
JesseLowe . o O ( Like Tony said: Pick a direction. )
Admiral Kaizoku lifts up the map. "Let us find the tomb. My Stormwind Rider can have us to the general location in minutes. If we find the Speaker along the way, then we will deal with her. Will you join us?" He looks to Leden.
Leden says, "If my wife can stay on your ship for while I am gone."
Admiral Kaizoku thinks on that a moment. "Of course, but I do hope there will be no dark miracles..."
The Auspex says, quietly, "So do I."
Monkey continues, "Sailors are superstitious lot, Admiral. With good justification, mostly, what with godlings and elementals. Thing is, the crew thinks deathknights are bad news, and while Auspex might be different, that won't change their opinion overnight. While a guide would be nice, perhaps Leden should stay with his wife here."
Monkey . o O ( Voice of the commoners! That's me! )
Admiral Kaizoku shakes his head to that. "Our sailors are made of sterner stuff Monkey... they follow what most call "Anathema" to the ends of Creation. We will introduce them personally to the Auspex before setting out though..." He stands up. "Come! First to the Sun, then to the tomb!"
Monkey says, "Let's."
Monkey strolls out of the library and under the strange stars of the shadowland, leads the way back to The Unconquered Sun.
Leden stands and offers his arm to the Auspex. She takes it and with her free hand gestures to a pair of maidens standing near the door. "Gather up the books and follow us," she says. The ghosts obey quickly and follow at a respectful distance.
Monkey . o O ( Respectful distance: approximately 3 steps behind. )
Monkey . o O ( Something I read about feudal-era Japan. )
Admiral Kaizoku lights up his caste mark as he approaches the Sun, to confirm his identity to the sailors aboard. "We have found new allies here!" he declares as he steps aboard, gestureing to Leden and the Auspex. "This couple, Auspex in Crimson and Peleps Laden, would both seem to be our foes... but our true foes desire their deaths! The so-called Silver Prince who claims the seas as his and struck down Venos Hydros to deliver that message desires his servant and his former hostage back! I say this: He shall not have them!"
By now, it is near midnight, and the wind has picked up considerably. Black clouds tear across the sky, concealing the stars entirely. It is only a short walk to the Sun's berth, and as you walk out along the dock, you can see Shen's boat out on the far side of the harbor, lanterns on bow, stern, and mast. The glow of his caste mark is also visible, gleaming across the water. The Sun, too, is light, and you unconsciously quicken your step as you approach it. The Auspex hesitates a moment before she sets foot on the gangplank, but she boards nonetheless."
JesseLowe . o O ( Make a Cha + Performance roll )
Monkey eyes Shen and estimates his chance of getting that obol.
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 6 dice on Cha+Per and got 4 successes.
Monkey mutters, "Not good. Not good at all."
JesseLowe . o O ( Well, if he started at the Sun, he's either way behind or almost done. And he's got about half a watch to go. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Whoops, missed one die. )
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 1 dice on One more and got no successes but no botches either.
A few sailors give the Auspex dark looks -- the ones who saw what happened to Venos and the Marukani. But the Admiral has long since won their trust, and dark looks are all that objects to her presence.
Monkey takes aside one of the sailors and confers with her, confirming that everything and everyone is fine, so far anyway.
Akbar steps forward and asks the Admiral if he has any special orders for the crew.
Admiral Kaizoku continues "Now, Mr. Monkey, Leden and I are going into the interior to find something of great power, something that the Dragon-Bloods have feared for centuries... the past of the Solars! You all must stand by and guard her... I have pledged her safety on my honor! Now, there are hostile spirits nearby, but you are the finest crew in creation, and more than a match for any of them! We shall return soon... but should I be heralded by the light of my anima, prepare to cover our return with the ship's weapons!"
The crew shouts, "Aye, aye, sir!" and Razor Leaf adds, "We'll greet them with fire, sir!"
As you walk up from the docks, Leden says, "I'd suggest waiting on any spells until we're past the walls. There are old wards here in the harbor, and the Auspex says some may be dangerous when mixed with sorcery."
JesseLowe . o O ( posing )
Monkey says, "Of course I'm prepared. Being prepared is my middle name."
Leden leads you to the old south gate. Great pillars rise up on either side of you, their tops crumbled and jagged. You pass through the arch of the gate, and can't help but notice that even the First Age masonry looks weak and decrepit in the light of the Underworld. Beyond the arch is a clearing wide enough to hold a dragon of heavy infantry in parade formation, and pounded into the dirt are the gates that once safeguarded this approach to the harbor. Leden says, "I wonder how that happened?" He shrugs. It was long ago. "The tomb should be... that way." He points south.
Monkey . o O ( Okay, Stormwind Rider away, Admiral. )
Admiral Kaizoku looks at the map and compares it with his own eyes and the pointing finger. "Stay close, and say what you have to now... this spell is noisy." His caste mark glows and his anima flares up as winds come down from the sky and spin in all directions... without even a jolt, he and his companions are off down the road at high speed.
Monkey . o O ( who's posing the arrival scene? )
The road is smooth, for all its age, and though it is not straight, the journey is swift. Within ten minutes you have climbed into the range of hills that surrounds the harbor and are traveling through shallow ravines and sharp valleys. The road curves to follow the line of the hills, avoiding high points for the most part. Even through the stormwind and the darkness, you realize that once, it must have been a beautiful landscape.
JesseLowe . o O ( posing a bit. wait. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Him. )
Now, however, the forest that surrounds the road is dark and fearsome. Stunted pines and palms grow, overshadowed by tall black trees that you have never seen before, their dark green leaves laced with leprous silver light. Things scurry out of sight into the undergrowth, and over all, the black clouds race across the sky. The stormwind drowns out all sound from outside, but by the swaying of the trees, a strong wind blows from the south. At least, you hope that's why they're swaying.
Monkey . o O ( It was a dark and stormy night.... )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( And following the shot, two men with Daiklaves rushed into the office! )
Monkey . o O ( And like all stories like this, it begun with a femme fatale. )
Shortly, the road begins to curve east. Leden shouts, "Look!" and points. Ahead, a pair of carved pillars of white jade mark a side road. Dragons and sigils adorn the pillars, and though you're moving too fast to really appreciate them, you're pretty sure they mark the road to the tomb.
Admiral Kaizoku takes the small tornado back past the pillars a second time, watching more carefully before steering the mystic transport down the center of the side road.
JesseLowe . o O ( done posing. Do you storwmind rider on down the side road, or proceed more cautiously? By your estimate, you're only four or five miles away from the tomb. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( There's no throttle on Stormwind anyway, so we might as well go full speed. It'll be too fast for deadfall traps. :) )
Monkey . o O ( You just hope nobody strung some starmetal wire. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Great minds... )
TonyC regrets not prioritizing Adamant Skin Technique.
A mile from the pillars, you are approaching a hilltop and see, at the apex, another pair of pillars, this time of black jade. As you reach them, there's a flare of emerald light all around you, and the stormwind dissipates in a roar of shredding magic.
JesseLowe . o O ( Make Dex + Athletics rolls )
Monkey rolled 10 dice on Dex + Ath and got 5 successes.
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 6 dice on Dex+Ath and got no successes but no botches either.
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Naturally... )
You rolled 10 dice on Leden roll and got 1 success.
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Road rash city )
Leden takes the sudden loss of flight about as well as can be expected, and though he lands at an awkward angle, he rolls with it and is on his feet in the blink of an eye, daiklave at the ready as he scans the surrounding forest.
Monkey steps out of the dissipating spell like he was stepping off a docking boat. He turns back and extends his hand to help the Admiral only to find the Admiral already on the ground, if in somewhat less graceful position.
Admiral Kaizoku was concentrating intently on steering the Stormwind past physical traps... his heels drag into the road as the Countermagic strips the winds away and he continues forward on his feet until a bump in the path plants his face on the ground.
JesseLowe . o O ( Heh. Have you seen Inu Yasha? "Sit!" )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Heh. Then who'd Kagome be in this band? )
JesseLowe . o O ( Make Per + Awareness rolls )
Monkey rolled 4 dice on Per + Awa and got 1 success.
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 4 dice on Per and got 1 success.
You rolled 8 dice on Leden Per + Awa and got 3 successes.
JesseLowe . o O ( Hm. )
Monkey . o O ( We do not see the horde of ravening hungry ghosts slowly surrounding us. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( We don't see any traps either. )
Leden turns to the Admiral and says, "I don't see or hear anything out there, Admiral."
JesseLowe . o O ( Admiral, roll an extra three dice on that )
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 3 dice on Extra and got 1 success.
Monkey says, "The ward is still keeping the ghosts out then. Good. Let's go on then."
Admiral Kaizoku replies "That doesn't mean there isn't anything out there... let us move with caution." He draws his daiklave and heads out for the arch.
The Admiral climbs to his feet, rubbing his back, and notices that the bump in the road is... rather regular. Deliberate, almost.
Admiral Kaizoku pokes at the bump with the tip of his blade, waving it to draw the others attention to it.
Monkey says, "What is it?"
Monkey says, "Makeshift grave?"
Admiral Kaizoku says, "In the road? That seems unlikely..."
Admiral Kaizoku tries to turn up whatever it is.
Monkey . o O ( Actually, a sacrifice buried in a road isn't that rare. Although in RL they're usually at crossroads. )
The Admiral's blade scrapes years of dirt from the bump, revealing pale blue jade... Looking around, the Admiral realizes that they are standing in the center of a circle as wide as the road, made of blue and white jade inlaid in the paving stones. Magical symbols are carved into the circle, both characters in Old Realm and symbols that have meaning only to sorcerers.
JesseLowe . o O ( Admiral, make a Wits + Occult roll. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( And usually the road isn't first age material... )
Admiral Kaizoku motions to the others and continues to scrape away at it, trying to determine if this is merely a trigger for the towwer or something more.
Monkey . o O ( If you think the roll is important, spend wp. )
Admiral Kaizoku rolled 8 dice on WIts+Occ and got 3 successes.
You whisper, "It's some kind of artifact that acts as a permanent Emerald Countermagic on anything that passes over it." to jetman.
Admiral Kaizoku hrms. "A security measure..." he says, moving onward. "We will go on foot from here."
Monkey extends his Ultimately Useful Tube and uses it as a hiking staff.
JesseLowe . o O ( What's your marching order? (I lurv asking that.) )
As usual, Monkey quickly outpaces the more cautious folk's and he occassionaly has to stop and wait, tapping his foot impatiently.
Leden follows the Admiral at seven paces distance -- enough to close in a heartbeat or two, but far enough to avoid being caught in a single attack. He moves warily, keeping an eye on the forest to the sides and to the rear. His caste mark gleams a little in the dark, and his daiklave is ready in his hand. (He's powering up a bit.)
Admiral Kaizoku is already glowing brightly from his spellcasting, eliminating any attempt at stealth.
JesseLowe . o O ( It's been about thirty minutes since you left the Unconquered Sun, btw. )
Monkey yawns as he blithely continues on, staff on his shoulders.
JesseLowe . o O ( Posing )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( It doesn't say... )
After a short climb, you reach the apex of the hill and stand under the arch of black jade. It is a simple thing, a trilithon, not so elaborately carved as the two pillars that marked the road. Two smooth pillars twice the height of the Admiral stand on either side of the road. Atop them is laid a single slab of jade. Inscribed in its face is a message in Old Realm: "Turn back. Death alone lies beyond."
Admiral Kaizoku bites back the temptation to deface that message and carries on. "Watch for more bumps in the road... it will likely be secure until we find the entrance Monkey, but still..." he warns.
JesseLowe . o O ( posing some more, of the view beyond )
Monkey rolls his eyes at the warning.
Below, the road descends into a narrow valley. The valley is covered in the dark forest, and to your right and left hills enclose it, running south three or four miles to the far end, where a cliff and waterfall make the far end of the valley. In the center, a stepped pyramid rises up from the forest, white jade chased with moonsilver and -- starmetal? -- and capped with orichalcum. Four smaller pyramids stand beside it, red, blue, black, and green jade. As you stand and take in the sight, a murder of crows erupst from the middle distance between you and the tomb, a black cloud in the sky. Squawking furiously, the flock scatters in all directions. From whence it fled, you hear something large crashing through the forest, loud even at a mile's distance.
JesseLowe . o O ( Done posing. )
JesseLowe . o O ( I hope this is a good stopping point, 'cause it's my bedtime. )
Monkey . o O ( If you have to go to bed, we can stop now. )
Monkey . o O ( Guess it is. :) )
JesseLowe . o O ( Synchronicity! )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Heh. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Okay, 4 xp each and I'll see you guys next week. Any comments or questions before I log off? )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Hmmm... the Admiral's low on Essence... )
Monkey . o O ( Start stunting. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Have you been keeping track of the trickle from his Hearthstone? 4 motes an hour, IIRC. )
Monkey . o O ( And I don't trust your definition of low anyway. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Has it been an hour since the fight? )
JesseLowe . o O ( More like two. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Ah, longer than I thought. WHat does that charge first, personal or perhipheral? )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( And WP's really low... down 5. )
Monkey . o O ( Personal first. Then Peripheral. Then all other weird essence pools. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Got it. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Woo! 200 XP exactly! )
JesseLowe . o O ( Okay. Good game, all. I'll put it up in the archives -- as well as last week's -- asap. )
JesseLowe . o O ( Leader. Hm. )
Monkey . o O ( Of course. Which why you order him to do the opposite. )
JesseLowe . o O ( True, but the crew usually does. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( He never asks them to do anything that bad though... he takes the biggest risks himself. )
JesseLowe . o O ( I'm just wondering when it should count as granting him Willpower. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( But he never makes a show of it. :) )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( And it's hard to tell for that... he's in a position where he has orders obeyed all the time, which is naturally too easy, so it can't be then. Just when there's a chance of them not being obeyed? )
JesseLowe . o O ( I think when it's really important and/or a test of his capabilities as a leader. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Got it, thanks. )
Monkey . o O ( Now go to bed so you don't get in trouble at work tomorrow. )
Admiral Kaizoku . o O ( Hear hear! )
JesseLowe . o O ( Right. See you guys next week! )
On to Session 42