As the tale of the Exalted Continues

Aster's Diary 22

Grateful for my friends' compassion and durability!

I am concerned for my countenance, Diary. For the last few days, two of my friends have been participating in a fighting tournament, for prizes and glory. I have been doing my best to keep them and the other competitors safe and healed, but my nerves will be much more at ease when this has all been concluded. It is not as if I don’t understand the need for force at times, and I would do nothing to stop my companions’ recreation but… well…
They endanger themselves needlessly! For fun! I do not understand it. All I can do is watch between my fingers and pray there is nothing done to the competitors that I cannot heal.

Let me start at the beginning:

The morning before the tournament began, a group of rats brought a small token into our compound: a crest of the Rising Sun House, in gold. We knew, as soon as it had been done, that this little act violated our agreement with Silgur, through the divinity of the contract we signed, which Silgur should have known as well. Why do this now? If it were as a peace treaty, for fear of what we did to Akkimu, why not keep the original agreement? But, if he felt the need to break this contract, why do so with an offering?
Silgur… puzzles me. If I understand Champoor’s gods’ pasts, he used to be just a sort of trickster thief god, but has become… pitiable, deranged. If he is truly insane, it may be his motives are unknowable. Only time, and investigation, will tell.
I made my way to the tournament grounds early, in order to set up for the inevitable injuries. A number of the participants’ partners joined me there as well, and agreed to assist me in triage when necessary. It is good to meet new faces. Perhaps some of them will agree to help out at my clinic in the future.
The fights themselves were something of a blur for me. I remember something of the competitors themselves, but I paid little heed to the fights except to watch for injuries. Besides my friends, one in particular sticks in my mind, for reasons that will soon become apparent.
Dedecasi’s Demise. The first night of the tournament, she sat in the tournament grounds for the night, instructed to stay there by her… handler, let us say, for want to keep this diary to a civil tone. She was well over ten feet tall, it seemed to me, and immensely strong, but surprisingly gentle when not being instructed to do otherwise. Her features were hidden by cloak and mask, but those that could be discerned seemed quite deformed. My heart bled for her, alone and uncared-for, so I took her some food and set up the medical tent around her for shelter during the night.
Her… handler… well, he may not have malformed features, but everything else about he seemed malformed. Glorious Star of Summer’s Glory sat with the Heart family during the tournament, and I do not know if I have ever felt so much distaste for another creature. The Heart family gave me an open invitation to visit their box in the stands during the tournament. After seeing the way Dedecasi’s Demise was treated, I hoped to be able to put this invitation to good use. It was only after that day of the tournament had ended that I realized the inevitable folly of my actions.
I cannot stand by when one so seemingly innocent is used in such a cruel way. To be made to fight for another, when one does not seem to have the faculty to make such decisions oneself? This is not something that I can abide. I went to Summer’s Glory with the intention of making him a deal.
I find myself unable to truly describe my level of aversion toward that man. He had no regard for Dedecasi’s Demise, and was unperturbed by showing this. So, I made him an offer. If he would agree to not force her to fight in this tournament, I would do one thing for him, whatever he wished. He agreed, though seemed bemused by the concern I showed for her, on the condition that I keep the conditions of our deal to myself.
And then he told me what he would have me do: bring him Mawk’s soul gem.
As much as it pains me to give this man anything, and to take something that is not mine to take from an ally, I agreed. If it would save that innocent creature from having to destroy another combatant against her will, I must do it, even if it is against what would usually be my better judgement.

I need not have bothered.

As he left the arena on that day, Summer’s Glory spoke to Dedecasi’s Demise in some language I do not know, before leaving without looking back. I assumed, at the time, that he was telling her not to fight that day. However, when it came to her turn in the tournament, against, no less, Broken Walls, she stood up and took her place on the battle stage!
At the time, I was furious. Summer’s Glory had gone back on his word! While I felt relief at not having to steal from Mawk, much of my emotions twanged with fear and concern; Dedecasi’s Demise, on the one hand, had defeated each of her previous components with a single hit, and I feared for Broken Walls. One the other hand, Broken Walls is a formidable opponent that I had also yet to see defeated, and against such a daunting competitor, I feared he may indeed be able to hurt her, and may have to do so quite deeply in order to best her. I was in, however, for a surprise on both counts.
Dedecasi’s Demise did not simply bash him into the ground, and Broken Walls did not have to damage her in order to be victorious. She rushed at him, and he was able to knock her off balance enough to win by having her leave the stage! It could not have been a less stressful outcome for me.
It was, I discovered after, an orchestrated one.

I have spoken before of Piper’s ability to change form, and of their (sometimes quite hidden) good-intentioned heart. Both of these came into play during this fight, as Piper, it seems, had changed themself into the likeness of Dedecasi’s Demise in order that both A) she might not be spirited away from such a heartless creature as Summer’s Glory and B) Broken Walls would not have to either be beaten to a pulp or destroy her. Piper is a surprisingly caring person at times, and while I was dismayed that my contract with Summer’s Glory still held, I was heartened by the compassion my companion had showed.
This does bring us to Piper’s other deception, however. It seems that they decided to participate in the tournament after all, alongside Broken Walls and Saiten, but in disguise. I discovered this after they were finally defeated, thinking, previously that that particular participant had been one Sun Shen Lee, a spirited young martial artist from out of town. The wool was uncovered from my eyes, however, when he came to my medical tent for treatment, and I saw the Rabbit necklace around his neck. His sheepish grin was almost comical, and I may have smiled, were I not so concerned with their wounds.
It was nice to see Piper engaging in a bit of purely entertainment-based recreation, even if it is fighting. They seem to spend so much time working on things for the city that it is nice to know that Piper can also have fun.

I was also glad for Piper being at the tournament for, well, other reasons as well. I am not proud of this, Diary, but I needed a friend to quell my feelings of jealousy that day. A number of gods, beside Mawk, of course, attended the tournament as well, up in a special set of chairs in the stands. This afforded us our first view of Natasha, the god of pleasure.
She is ridiculously attractive. I have never seen a woman who so exudes desirability before. Upon seeing her the first time in the stands, Broken Walls and Choaxi both seemed overcome by their own desires, and kissed one another! They blame her effect on them, which I… mostly also attribute to her powers. There is much of their relationship prior to meeting them that I suspect, but little that I can say for certain. Perhaps something happened? Perhaps nothing has, but they fear a change in a relationship so vital to both of them that has lasted for so long? Who can say?

Where was I? Yes. My feelings of inadequacy. Beside Natasha sat Hatelis, the object of my own desire. Seeing them chatting companionably to one another, my self-esteem plummeted. She is literally the god of desire. Who am I to compete with such a woman?
Yes, I am beautiful, but she is…. Well… she’s so sexy! And worldly…. And, well, experienced. I am 17, and know so very little of… such things…. Hatelis may like me, may even feel affection towards me, but he has shown little in the way of desire towards me. And why would he, with such an alluring creature to sit by his side…

Piper was quick to point out how foolish I was being, and soon also brought over Choaxi to chastise my jealousy further. Though it is possible that they were in the past, they are not together now. He does like me, and has shown me this in many ways. And, as Choaxi pointed out, he is well aware of our age and experience differences, and is likely “taking things slow” because of this. For which I am grateful, of course… but….

Anyway. The point was that, were it not for my friends, I would have spent much more of the tournament mooning instead of taking notice of all of the other strange goings on…

But more about that in my next entry, Diary, as it has been a long night, and, after all that happened, I am I need of some rest.

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