As the tale of the Exalted Continues

Piper's Journal 2

Wood Resplendant 3 – Later that day

We made a loop outside of town and headed North towards Champoor. We had to keep our eyes peeled on the roads so we spoke little until we made camp that evening. At camp we introduced ourselves. The man I mentioned before who looks like some sort of junior officer is named Chijiwa. The woman with the swords is Chaoxi. They seem alright. They’ve got the look of warriors who know what they are doing. Chaoxi has a handy skill of being seemingly prepared to accommodate for every possible need of her companions. She even carried enough spare tents for all of us.

After introductions the lot of them tried to convince me it was a bad idea for me to follow them. It was a reasonable thing to do given I was still shaped as a 14 year old serving girl. Broken Walls however noted that I could obviously take care of myself given my take down of Guumari earlier. It is nice to know someone is paying attention.

Broken Walls and Chaoxi explained some useful finer points about being Anathema that was good to know. If I am to believe them then Anathema are chosen of the Unconquered Sun. It’s an explaination of sorts which is more than I have had to go on up until now. Not sure if I entirely believe it. By way of demonstrating that he knows what he’s talking about, Broken Walls showed Aster how to light up the mark on her forehead. Neither of theirs looks quite like mine but the effect is similar enough that I know I am amoungst kin of some sort. Chijiwa refused to try the same trick but Broken Walls and Chaoxi seemed to be willing to accept him regardless.

Broken Walls then set into telling us that the Wyld Hunt was coming for us and that there were two options : To run or to make a stand and dig in somewhere. He told us he wants to take over the city of Champoor and set up some sort of fortification there. The whole thing sounds a little ridiculous to me. The others seemed to agree that being on the run indefinately was undesirable but I just think they have the sense to realize they wouldn’t be any good at it.

If I were more fair I might admit that the idea of running forever isn’t terribly appealing to me even though I know I could pull it off. Still, Broken Walls might as well set a rock on the sea shore and watch the Immaculate Ocean wear it away! Seiging a port city is difficult, not impossible and the Immaculate Faith has no limit to the soldiers they can field and the amount of diplomatic power they can wield to freeze out the city from trade.

The little speech did inspire me to come up with my own solution. The houses that supply the wyld hunt are in disarray. With a little push here and there to set them against each other could make them weak enough to take them down. Rot the ties between the houses and it is conceivable that a decisive blow could finish them off.

It’s ambitious. I admit that. It sounds dangerous and I am nowhere near ready to take on a task of that magnitude alone. To do what I intend I will need three things : money, allies and a place to start. Champoor is a pit. Everything I’ve heard about it tells me it is rotten to it’s core. If I have what it takes to take on the Wyld Hunt at it’s source then taking a single city shouldn’t be impossible. I will help Broken Walls place his rock on the seashore but nothing says I have to drown with him on it.

With the others willing enough to go on with Broken Wall’s plan they turned to me again to suss out why I was willing to follow them and how I could be of use. I think they suspected me of being some sort of spy which is fair enough. I could have told them a lie but there didn’t seem much point of going through the effort. If I am going to help these people then a little trust is necessary. I tried the trick Broken Walls taught Aster earlier and lit up the symbol on my forehead. The look of surprise on their faces was worth it.

There was some talk about fate and Broken Walls resolved that we were a proper group. He revealed that Chaoxi is a Water aspect Dragonblood which was a surprise. She seems like a nice enough person otherwise so I’m willing to give her a chance. We decided to go to sleep for the night after that. Broken Walls, Chaoxi and Chijiwa all went directly to bed but I stayed up for awhile to play the Radius. Aster butted in and asked me to teach her the words to the song which I sung for her. After one rendition she had it perfectly.

She is talented but then, if she is like me, maybe it’s to be expected.

Wood Resplendent 4 – On the Road to Champoor

I was awoken this morning by Broken Walls shouting my name and shining light from his mark in my face. I am not fond of people seeing me in my morning form but I am a heavy sleeper and slow to wake and this morning particularly I felt like there were lead weights sewn into in my clothes.

Okay well, there ARE lead weights in my clothes but I’m used to those. What I mean to say is this morning I was groggier than usual and a little achy.

Broken Walls demanded I light up the mark on my forehead which I did and thankfully he backed off. The others looked at me like I had grown antlers which is when I remembered that I never told them about my more peculiar skills. I transformed into the form I had used yesterday while they watched. This handily served as an explaination. Chijiwa and Chaoxi reacted as one might expect and looked surprised and alarmed. Aster’s reaction surprised me. She seemed delighted. She asked if I could turn into someone specific and asked if I could turn into her. I couldn’t resist trying. It made her rather shy seeing herself from the outside. I know most people find it disconcerting. Broken Walls asked me what happened to my bones when I change size and I replied that I prefer not to think about it… which is true. When my skull shrinks in size it tends to make a sound like a handful of sewing needles snapping. It hurts but not enough to stop me doing it. Broken Walls simply took my comment in stride and told me the skill was sure to come in handy. The man makes understatement an art form.

I reformed into the teashop girl and we were breaking camp when the cough started. Broken Walls and Aster were immediately concerned. Broken Walls mentioned the night before that he’s been alive for over a hundred years and since he took his “second breath” he has never gotten sick. Aster seems to have some healing skills and examined me for a little while before pronouncing that I had Guumari’s disease. When I find that bloated slimeball again he will die painfully and embarassingly. She told me that I would need to take a medicated bath that night which sounded like a fine idea.

By the time we made camp tonight I felt vile. Broken Walls went off and made a bath for me. I expected nothing better than a clay lined pit but he created an entire bath house complete with wall murals. The bath was a godsend. When I had finished however I noted that brown sludge had leaked from my pores to taint the water of the bath a foul brown. It smelled like that greaseball god and when I picked up my clothes I noticed I could smell it on them as well. I went to the river and washed them wearing a robe Chaoxi lent me. She really does seem to have packed everything.

I made sure I thanked Aster Full of Light for helping me. She is an interesting person. She seems willing to accept me as I am and I am beginning to believe that her kindness isn’t just some sort of act. She wanted to know more about my work and I told her about some of the more benign things I do. I don’t know if she would be so willing to accept me if she knew everything I do. Come to think of it I don’t think any of them would. Broken Walls and Chaoxi seem pragmatic enough but warrior sorts like them tend to frown on people who would rather take their enemies out while they sleep.

Resplendent Wood 5 – the Road to Champoor

Last night we mulled over a couple of options for getting past the border patrols. Broken Walls wanted to get past the river by building a bridge. His solution to any problem appears to be “build something”. I pointed out that that is something people would most likely notice and decided to experiment to see how well they could play.

I tried to disguise Aster first by using an old trick of frothing soap and wine to create a fake skin. I was putting a bit of oil in her hair to make it look stringier when all of a sudden the stuff just started to slide off her skin and hair like water off a duck. To add to the conundrum Aster is unused to going in disguise and refuses to lie even under life threatening circumstances. I sincerely hope she reconsiders that stance in the future.

Chijiwa, Chaoxi and Broken Walls were next. Thankfully they didn’t suffer from whatever bizzare condition effects Aster and the disguises stuck. Aster took her veil off and fashioned it into the sort of head covering they require of females in parts of the south. She has the potential to be good at this if she were more flexible about what she considers the truth. I made myself up to look like a young lord and climbed aboard the most impressive of our two horses. I’ve never liked riding but selling the disguise sometimes requires a little discomfort on my part.

I arrived at the boarder with my “guards” and let Broken Walls speak for me. It would have looked a little odd if I had addressed the guards directly and I needed to see how well Broken Walls can pull off an alias. He’s not bad. Not great but there’s time. He had informed the boarder guard that we were “Merchanting” and the guard seemed to be unimpressed. Not surprisingly, we weren’t well equipped to be merchants. He went to me to confirm the story and I fed him a haughty tale that I was going to Champoor to select a gift to impress a perspective bride. “Merchanting” does have two meanings after all. Broken Walls apologized saying he was just the hired help and they let us through. A good first attempt.

Resplendent Wood 9 – The Road

I have done my fair share of travelling since the incident at Great Forks but never have I travelled so comfortably. It seems to make some difference not having to be as guarded about being discovered every morning or losing sleep from every bump in the night when travelling alone. Chaoxi and Broken Walls supply us with everything we need. The food is rough but good. Aster accompanies me when I play Radius and she doesn’t pry too much into uncomfortable subjects.

I realize that she is a problem. She is kind and gentle and I have told her more about myself then I have told anyone in the past five years. Lying to her seems… wrong. From a practical standpoint I know shouldn’t become too attached. For what I intend to do I mustn’t have weaknesses for my enemies to exploit. Troublingly I don’t think I can find it within myself to exploit her for my own gain. I value her opinion of me. That is the worst of it. I know I will disappoint her eventually and that disappointment will hurt. I must accept that as the price for her company now.

Chijiwa told us a bit about his family. His ancestor founded the White Reaper Style and he is the successor of it. He seems proud of his lineage but he is hessitant to tell much about himself directly. I sense he’s dealing with something he doesn’t want to talk about. Until he coughs up whatever it is that bothers him I see no reason to disturb him.

Broken Walls and Chaoxi told us a bit of their story. Broken Walls came from Fortitude in the north. Given his discription I intend to never visit. After he “took his second breath” he wandered into the wastes and was scooped up by the Hunt and ended up in the Imperial Mountain for 100 years where he met Chaoxi. I can’t imagine getting stuck in a Mountain for that long. I would have gone insane. Perhaps he did- that would explain a lot.

They seem like good people. They also seem like very capable people. I don’t know how interested they would be in joining me in my scheme once they have built their tomb in Champoor but I hope they will for their sake. Best case senario their plan is successful, we make a ton of money and they can hold the city for awhile and take a lot of enemies with them. Either way the place needs cleaning out.

Resplendant Wood ? – A Temple

We have stopped for the night in a Temple. With us are two brothers Knot and String who are brewers on their way to negotiate a business venture on the way to Champoor. There is a mercenary as well – Seventh Dawn. She looks capable though when she claims she’s a martial artist I don’t believe her. She’s a warrior for certain but beside claiming to have had some White Reaper style demonstrated for her she’s been evasive. Broken Walls has negotiated a contract with her to join us on the road until we reach the city.

We paid our respects to the God of the temple before getting ready to sleep for the night. I am not sure I like these newcomers. I will need to be cautious again about my habits so they do not discover more than is healthy for them to know.

Piper's Journal

3 Wood Resplendant – Nimrun

I felt it again when I woke up this morning. The ghostly itch I can’t scratch. I would have thought that after all these years the sensation would fade. True I don’t feel it as often since I started ridding the world of the undeserving but every now and then it catches me off guard.

Perhaps I haven’t been working hard enough?

My investigations which started from looking into a shady takeover of a fish wholesaler in the middle of nowhere just keeps offering up new surprises. Now my latest intel has brought me to the town of Nimrun. Not a bad place, bit of a backwater but the inn has hot baths and the desserts here are worth the trip. Fresh fruit isn’t as good in the city.

I had been casing this town for a few days now to get the lay of the land. I was a bit surprised to find that this time the victim was still alive. The Magistrate, a man by the name Frozen Grain, had fallen deathly ill and coughing himself bloodily to death in the temple while his brother, Falling Harvest, was setting himself up to succeed him. I suspected poison but I don’t have much experience in medicine nor have I patience for nursing the sick and elderly. I followed Falling Harvest to ascertain the whole of his plot. With Luck he might lead me to his conspirators.

I followed him through the back door of the town’s fanciest teahouse taking a bit of time to make myself up like one of the serving girls. I was one foot in the door when I was stopped by a hostess. I told her I was the new hire and she took me at face value and sent me over to the tea brewing station. Seeing my target wasn’t on the ground floor I picked up a tea tray and went upstairs where they keep the private rooms. Some girls on the stairs accepted me right off and warned me that the fellow inside was a customer to be wary off.

I put on a bit of a show of being nervous to buy me some time to listen in. At first I only heard a loud man who sounded like he was gargling marbles but when I focused a little harder I could pick out my mark talking. Seems loudmouth was trying to shake down my mark for cash.

I went in and saw one of the nastiest customers I’ve yet come across. My first impression was he must have rolled in rotten fish garbage before he came to the teahouse. The rest of him was about just as pleasant. Bloated, tattooed and with a big tetsubo leaned up against the wall. They ignored me as I served them tea and just continued on with their conversation. The big guy mentioned his name was Guumari and referred to other people as mortals.

I have no idea what he is only that he isn’t human. If I had to guess I’d say a God or maybe some sort of demon. It sounded like he was the cause of Frozen Grain’s illness somehow and that he was extorting the other brother. Maybe it was as simple as just demanding payment for his services but it sounded like Falling Harvest was going to have difficulty paying up and was nervous about what would happen when he had to.

Guumari disappeared right before our startled eyes after declaring that someone was trying to heal the Magistrate and Falling Harvest left abruptly to go finish off Frozen Grain at the temple. This sounded like bad news for the healer so I followed Falling Harvest to the temple.

Following them was easy for an unexpected reason, a mob was heading for the temple lead by what looked like a monk of the Immaculate faith. My first thoughts when I saw where we were heading was that the place was on fire. A second look showed me the source of the trouble.

Inside the temple was a young woman of about 16. She was wearing what seemed like a robe made of flames. A man was with her dressed like a well off warrior or officer sort and he was facing down Guumari threatening violence if he tried anything nasty. Pretty bold of him seeming as he was unarmed and Guumari had that big tetsubo.

I ducked behind the temple doors and started playing my flute trying to leverage this strange power I have to calm the crowd but I didn’t get far into my song before That idiot Guumari tried to attack the glowing woman.

A guy jumped over the crowd and appeared to don armor in midair and took the blow. He was followed by a female attendant. She looked like she knew how to handle herself. I pulled out my hair ribbon and ducked through the stunned crowd tying up Guumari’s feet and tripping him up. The warrior woman gave Guumari a decent slice with her sword and the guy who had defended the lady from the beginning summoned a lance out of thin air and slashed the aberration across the face. His blood was green, bubbling and smelt foul.

This next bit is hard to explain. The glowing lady sang at the fellow. I know what music can do but it wasn’t directed at me so I’m not precisely sure what it did. I can tell that it did something to Guumari. The look on his face told me he was scared out of his bloody mind. I snapped my ribbon around Gumari’s neck and gave it a nice smart tug. Guumari did the smart thing and dissolved into thin air but not before he spat at me. Here’s praying I get the chance to make him regret that.

We sort of introduced ourselves while the warrior lady calmed the crowd. The big fellow in armor who lept over the crowd is Broken Walls. I don’t doubt the name suits him. The Lady is Aster Full of Light.

Hmm. Apt.

The fellow in armor showed more sense about sounding off his name before so many witnesses but I can tell he’s more than he appears to be. Broken Walls called the others “Solars”. I’ve never heard of a “Solar” and am interested to learn more about these strange beings. I think I can put off my investigations for a while to get to know these people a little better. I’m simply too curious to let this opportunity pass.

Broken Walls Journal 1
In which I jumped over a guy.

Resplendent Wood 2, RY768
The Book of Broken Walls

Chaoxi Kawa has told me I should record the events of my life. Knowing her love of books, I took this for the compliment that it is.
It feels incorrect to start in the middle, so I shall provide some history.
I was born and grew to manhood in Fortitude. I took my second breath there, also. There were circumstances. This was in the year RY612. I was ejected from Fortitude, and picked up by some monks, who delivered me to the Imperial Mountain, where I have been a guest until just under a year ago.
It was in my home in the mountain that I met Chaoxi Kawa, somewhere around 100 years ago.

It feels like a week ago, and it feels like one thousand years ago.

Chaoxi was assigned to study me, after the previous researcher had failed.

Five years ago, the world changed.
I felt it happen.

A little under a year ago, Chaoxi brought me my armour, Dauntless, and with his assistance we departed the mountain, and then the island. We have been travelling since.

Today, we arrived in the small city of Nimrun.
In the market, while Chaoxi shopped, I saw a lad steal a man’s purse. The boy seemed cocky, but poor. I made myself seem like a ripe mark for the boy, then when he came for my pouch (largely empty, Chaoxi provides our funds), I assumed the role of his superior, relieved him of the purse, awarded him 5 bronze shekels from the purse, and sent him on his way, then returned the purse. The man rewarded me with a silver dinar, very generous.

Shortly after, what I presumed to be an air-aspected Immaculate Monk jumped onto a platform, shouting about an Anathema in the temple, requesting assistance. Her shouts drew what appeared to be two rival factions into the square. I volunteered to help.
Chaoxi gave me that look.

We ran to the temple. There was a beautiful woman glowing with a golden-white aura
with a great, horrible ogre of a man wielding a massive tetsubo stalking toward her. Even from outside the temple, I could smell him. I summoned Dauntless to me and leaped over the creature, landing as Dauntless locked his defenses around me. The golden disc of my caste mark slammed into place as my final piece of armour. The beastly man attempted to claw at me, which rattled off of my armour, naturally.
Some young girl ran up and tripped him up with a pretty pink ribbon, of all things.
Chaoxi harried him back with a slash from each of her black daiklaves – her grace in battle continues to amaze me. I then knocked the sense out of him before some young armoured noble skidded his great blue jade spear off the creatures skull. Funny, I could have sworn the lad was unarmed. Of course, the creatures blood bubbled green.
The other Solar sang a frightening melody at the beast, the young girl choked him with her ribbon. But then the beast swore vengeance in the typical fashion and then faded from view. Its name is “Gumari”.
The other Solar is named “Aster Full of Light”, and Chaoxi and I left in her company, as well as the young girl, and the Noble from the Motome House of Kamthahar – I recognized his House symbol and colours. We exited town to the southeast as Aster Full of Light’s Anima dimmed, then circled North, towards Champoor.

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