Exalted Episode 3 - part 2
The circle of Solar Exalts entered the city of Khacin through the alabaster white walls. This was the first ring of walls that defended the small outer villages and farms. The Blue Road led on towards the main walls of Khacin. The festival atmosphere was increasing, and once they had entered the city itself, the circle was met by the roar of the crowd. All about were slavers, traders, warriors from many kingdoms. All were here for the Festival of the Grey Tiger, the great festival of ritual combat. The circle could see ahead the looming form of the Circle of Blood. This dark metal arena stood over all the buildings around, and from it hung the red flags of Khacin, proudly displaying the emblem of the Claw of Khacin.
From here, in the main square, the circle split up. Kheralin and Echo, using their charms, vanished into the crowd. Kheralin headed off to listen in on the rumours being whispered in the bars of the upper classes. Echo however went off to cross the river to the army barracks and find out more about the military situation of the kingdom. Meanwhile, Dorn headed off to sign up to the tournament, taking Aisha with him to act as his manager, while Light went off into the markets to go get a better weapon. Rain however had someone to see, his mother.
Rain's mother, Unfettered Emerald, lived in one of the more impressive, upper class, private walled homes. She was the political mind of the family, while his father was more content with tending to the manor house gardens. Rain knocked on the door to his family home, aware that he could be spotted by those still hunting for him. The first servant that answered did not recognise him, while the main servant of the house did. Rain was eventually let back into his home, and he met with his mother. She was a haughty woman, with luxurious clothes and pinched features and red hair. They had much to talk about regarding the cult of followers that had now grown up about his mother and the revelations that he had discovered. But first Rain need to wash and redress in something more fitting.
Meanwhile Aisha and Dorn were registered for the tournament. Aisha was able to haggle for Dorn, and they were given a private apartment for the tournament, and access to an apothecary. They were also to get sex slaves for the evening, and Dorn was to start at a higher ranking in the tournament given his own experience.
At the apartment having made themselves at home, the brothel mistress arrived, and with her were 6 slaves. There 3 young men, and 3 young women. One of the men was a lizard beastmen, while one of the women was a bird like person, with feathers and wide eyes. Dorn selected 2 of the men, and two of the women, and left Aisha outside while he attended to his own pleasure. While Dorn enjoyed himself Aisha was confronted by a pleasant monk who offered his blessings for Dorn.
Now washed and dressed in clothing more fitting of the nobles of Khacin, Rain was once more speaking with his mother, intent on meeting the others of the cult. Emerald was carefully pouring tea for both of them when the master slave entered the room to announce they had guests. It was Echo, Kheralin and Light. Together they all dined together at a
low table, drinking cordials, and eating fine meats and fruit.
While talking Echo explained that there were some rumours of Ashuriana forces gathering, but that this was not made public what with the tournament in full swing. There was also rumour of Dragon Bloods from Greyfalls in the court of Khacin. Apparently they were here to see the tournament and bring good tidings from the Scarlet Throne. As the circle discussed these matters, Emerald expressed some interest in Echo, and was obviously flirting with him. She also mentioned that she would be going to the evening tournament fights and that the others were welcome to come along. Rain was not sure he wished to attend, and would instead wait for the cult members to come to the family home later in the evening.
That early evening Aisha and Dorn left the apartment, now a mess after Dorn's antics, and headed out to the private estates and Rain's home. It was then that Aisha realized that they were being followed.
The gang of bandits leapt upon Dorn and Aisha and Dorn's bear, Grunsen. Aisha drew her sword, dodging the blades of their attackers. The bear growled out in pain as his hide was cut. But Dorn, though hit by a blade, took the advantage. He summoned his essence and in a pulverising blow sent one of the men flying back into another, sending both into a wall and crushing their bodies with the impact. Aisha called upon the powers of the trapped ghost within her Yasal crystal, and from her mouth erupted a stream of foul liquid. However, the gang were not so soft hearted and fought on.
Now surrounded, Grunsen lashed out, gripping one man in his jaws. Dorn summoned more of his essence and landed another blow, smashing the man back against a wall, causing his head to snap back and his skull to crack open against the wall in a big spray. Aisha, seeing her chance, called again upon the ghost in the crystal, and through her own mouth it spoke the ancient words of death, awakening the hungry ghost in the dead outlaw. The body, though broken and crumpled, shambled to life and attacked its living compatriots. The outlaws knew their number was up, turning tail and running, but not before Dorn launched the shambling ghost at them.
Looking around, the fight over, and their caste marks glowing, Dorn and Aisha fled the streets, making their way to Rain's house.
Rain had remained at the house, while his mother, Unfettered Emerald, Kheralin and Red Echo had taken rickshaws and gone to the arena, the Circle of Blood.
At the house Rain welcomed Dorn and Aisha and informed them of his plans, and that to ensure their safety at the house he would be doing some dangerous magic later, and that Dorn would be useful if it went out of control.
At the arena Emer
ald led the others to the private boxes, and from there, in luxury, they watched the tournament. Many fights were taking place in the arena. All around, in the warm evening, were hundreds of spectators, cheering for their champions and heroes as the fights took place. Weapons rung out in the arena, and crowd roared as blood was split upon the sand. Once all the evening fights were over the main event for the evening began. Into the arena a demon beast with many arms and eyes, skin a pale blue and shifting with screams, lumbered out. It was almost 10 feet tall and towered over the fighter who walked out to face it. Bearing a spear and rippling with muscle was a warrior of Khacin. The fight started, with the two combatant trading devastating blows. The anima banner of the man exploded, revealing him to be of the Earth caste, a Dragon Blooded, and with each attack the earth trembled.
With the fight over and the demon beast dead, the crowds began to filter out of the arena. On departing Unfettered Emerald was talking to many of the nobles of the city. It was here that Red Echo spotted a person that made his stomach turn, and yet he found himself drawn to her. The woman was dressed in little more that chains that barely concealed her petite frame. She had voluminous black hair, and her cloak was a deep crimson. She presented herself as The Lady of Darkness in Bloodstained Robes. She made it known that she was in Khacin as an ambassador of Thorns, and brought the blessings of the dead of Khacin and of the Deathlord, The Mask of Winters. Echo could barely contain his rage seeing this woman, a representative of the forces who had killed his best friend.
Meanwhile, Kheralin had worked her way around the gathered nobles and found out the identities of the Wyld Hunt. There was an Immaculate priest, Ascendant Hawk of Fall, of House V'neef, a scholar, Luminous Feather of House Cathak, a general, Solemn Topaz of House Peleps, and an ambassador, Ribbon of Silver Hand of House Seus.
Back at Rain's home, in the basement, Rain had constructed the summoning circle, with the help of Aisha. Aisha looked on in wonder, and Light was also intrigued. Dorn simply sat, drinking from the house wine barrels.
Using all his power Rain opened the gateway to Malfeas, to the demon realm of the Green Sun. He spoke the ancient words of power that had shackled the Primordials to their prison, and from the gateway, a twitching hole of flesh and blood, came forth a Blood Ape. The beast looked into the eyes of Rain, and bowed its head in respect. It listened to Rain's command and then vanished to go and enact them.
Rain's mother, and the others, returned to the house, and the last preparation were made for the arrival of guest for the party that night. Rain waited in the basement as his anima banner diminished. The others engaged in conversation with the arriving guests, and Dorn was suddenly the objection of interest for Rain's mother, much to Echo's relief. In time many of those present, Emerald, and her son Rain and the rest of the circle went off to a more private.
Rain took the scrolls that the growing cult had been reading, scrolls that spoke of other gods and beings, and he deemed it all folly and false. He threw them on the fire and instead decreed that knowledge and wisdom was found in the texts banned to them. That revelation was found by the individual. But his words were attacked by a politician, Grieving Silk. Rain was disturbed by his words, unsure why such a good friend would seek to support the status quo. But he could see no sign of influence.
With the meeting over, Rain sat pondering what had happened. It was then he felt pain searing in his chest and he coughed up blood. Light attended to him, examining the flow of es
sence through his chi points. It seemed that whatever had attacked him had put his essence out of alignment. Rain, feeling that something was off, instructed the Blood Ape to apprehend Silk and bring him to the wine cellar.
With Silk now in their custody, Rain and the others questioned the man. He simply laughed and patronized Rain. He called him a boy, lost and with out a sense of place in the world, and so something that should be put back in its place. The man spoke of the stirring sleep of Sacheverell, and that the circle was causing chaos that would awaken the dreaming Primordial and set in motion the end of the world. Rain realized then that before him was Lucien, the Guardian of Sleep. But before he had a chance to ask more the man fell apart, like a balloon loosing air.
In the Imperial Palace of Khacin, in the ornate chambers of the king, Lord Kavar, came a guttural scream. The guards ran in to find, haunched over the dead king, Rain. Both swords were driven deep into the king, freezing the corpse. Rain grinned and fled, leaping from the window.