3/14/2015 – Session 2 – 12, Ascending Water – "When the Sun was Shining Down on This Place"
As it turned out, Nexus was positively crawling with exalted. Not quite as thick as the sewer rats, but a shocking number, Liric thought. Chief among them were Fandris and Alya, members of a Nexus gang. Fandris was a Lunar and seemed to be the de facto leader, and Alya, a night caste solar, his second, though he wasn't really sure if these were official ranks or titles or just the natural recogntion of ability. Liric had the very nasty suspicion that he may have been briefly marked as the target for petty theft, but after they became aware of his nature, they seemed mildly curious. Liric also noted they were protective of their own, and he decided he definitely did not want to get on the bad side of either of them.
This motley gang of monkey god and exalts seemed to have little in common, but all had noted the general poor health of the city – Fandris and Alya had several extremely ill associates of their own. It seemed like something they could work together on, partly for their own interests, partly to get a better idea of each other's abilities. Through investigation, prayer, informant, and footwork, they realized that something was likely up with the local plague spirits. A flu-like disease was spreading much too rapidly for everything to be functioning "normally."
Although aware of their occult functioning and theoretical necessity, Liric didn't much like the idea of plague spirits and their deliberate infection of a certain portion of the population. However, until he was in a better position to make a complete overhaul of the health management of creation, he would content himself with making sure the spirits were not being reckless with their infections or infecting people with things they were not supposed to be.
Their trail took the group into the undercity of Nexus on the edge of the Firewander and Cinnabar districts. This area consisted of the basements and sublevels of much older buildings, some, though ruins now, dating back to the first age. Areas of collapse had been tunnelled through to create streets, of sorts, and the truly disadvantaged (or depraved) of Nexus had to make their way in these places as best they could. Their path eventually led to some areas completely sealed away that required them to break through. There were no other people down here at all.
The group moved slowly on for several hours. Eventually they came to an open place – well, cavernous now rather than open. It was something of a minor miracle that the mounds of debris and crumbled walls could be supporting the city above without further collapse, let alone allow for this ancient plaza now with a roof several dozen feet above the old streets. Ahead was an old hospital, a structure predating the usurpation, a ruin now, its upper floors completely demolished, and the remaining floors leaning at an alarming angle from some foundational upheaval.
Liric realized with a shock that he had been here before, "when the sun was shining down on this place." That phrasing was archaic, and came to him in Old Realm before his mind performed the near unconscious work of translation. The words had multiple levels of meaning, moreso in the original tongue. They were not lost on Liric, but he kept his thoughts to himself. As they explored the ruined hospital, Liric had ... maybe visions, maybe memories, as if windows were mirrors, mirrors were windows, and the past and present briefly seemed to exist at the same time. Patients, nurses, doctors, and observers passed before him, and Liric felt he had been one of them, but exactly which he could not be certain.
The patients were rather grotesque. They were mishapen, and clearly some research was going on about them. Liric thought that whatever it was must have been quite serious if the solars of the first age could not treat it, but then he had another disturbing thought, in a way much like the nightmares he sometimes woke to, that the patients were not the subjects of research because they had a disease, but instead had the disease because they were the subjects of research. It was only for a fleeting moment, and there was no clear evidence to support this, but Liric couldn't shake the feeling that he could not be certain of the cause-and-effect relationship of anything he was seeing.
The group made their was to the ruined basement. There they found several plague spirits and several humans who were horribly diseased. They were effectively vessels of disease. There was a brief fight. Liric was remarkably uneffective and unnecessary. The others, not so much. Yes, definitely do not want to get on the bad side of people here, thought Liric. The spirits were cornered, unable to flee, and quickly surrendured.
The spirits did indicate they they had been encouraged by someone, but they also said it had been a long time since anybody who was "supposed" to be in charge had told them what to do. With the immediate problem seemingly resolved for the present, the group made their way back to the surface of the city. Some of them wanted to check out who the spirits might have been working for, and a few others wanted to pursue more personal interests, so they parted ways shortly after returning.
Nexus has an Exalted infestation, and no one--not even the Exalted themselves--know who, how many, or why.
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