4/25/2015 – Session 5 – 21, Ascending Water – One of Many
The next few days would be extremely active ones for Liric. He received a reply from Sund. She gave him an address to meet in Firewander. She recommended bringing a shovel and some means to detect spirits. He arrived near a "public works" project of sorts. Some sewers were being expanded, but they were headed in the path of a crypt that Sund though Liric would be interested in seeing. It took a while, and some digging, but Liric eventually broke through into a very old crypt of sorts. A thorough investigation indicated it dated to the time of the usurpation or before. This was first age stuff, and it was disturbing. The area had been warded with salt, but lines had been broken over the centuries. There was also some evidence of wyld taint. However, the majority of the bodies inside were very similar to the kid Liric had encountered earlier.
There was no active disease (Sund said she was reasonably sure she could detect it if anything were still active) and the bodies themselves seemed unlikely to harbor anything dangerous anymore, although she wasn't sure exactly how the disease was supposed to be transmitted either. For that, they would need an actual sample... which would mean finding an infected person, isolating him, and then... hopefully not anything too extreme or invasive after that. Sund had no other first-hand knowledge of what was happening at the time. She said she wasn't around in the First Age. Liric wondered about that, but decided it might be something she considered a little too personal to discuss right then. Sund did, however, know that this crypt was only "one of many," and she gave him the locations of several others.
Liric looked around a little more, spent all the essence he dared on charms to heighten his vision and perception, but could not make anything more of the crypt than it was very old, inactive, and used to store dozens of deformed bodies. When there was nothing else to gain, he decided the best thing to do would be to try to restore the earthworks he had broken through to get in, so as to make it looked undisturbed again. This took a while, but it looked good when he had finished.
Sund had some last information for Liric regarding his specific questions. Yes, the blades around the Tomb of Singing Blades did affect dematerialized spirits the same as material objects, and sensible spirits avoided the place. "Fall away ashes; fall away skin" probably had some occult significance related to transformation and compulsion. And that was pretty much it.
Liric thanked her for her insights and said he would be in contact. They both departed, and Liric hurried back to the Vulgar Tiger. He wanted to compare an old map of Hollow he had to the locations of the other crypts that Sund had given to him. Just as he was finishing marking the last of their locations, he received a message that someone else wanted to meet with him regarding the inquiries he had made with the officials.
This someone turned out to be Dorian Duskholme. Dorian was a wealthy savant who occasionally did consulting and identification and appraisal work for the council and wealthy individuals. When Liric got the the estate and was shown to Dorian's study, Dorian seemed more interested in esoterica than strange graffiti or ancient crypts. Liric did explain most of his interest (though not his entire background) and what he had already uncovered. He did also mention the new crypt locations that Sund had given him and suggested that Dorian use his influence to try to keep people out of them, or at least divert building projects like the one going on now, if possible. As far as actually learning anything new about his immediate concerns, though, Liric did not.
Dorian did show Liric a few things he had been asked to consult on. Liric kept most of his answers to "yes," "no," and noncommital short answers as the topic turned quickly to Lytek.
"You know about Lytek?" Dorian asked seemingly from nowhere.
"I'm... aware of him... and his, uh, domain, yes."
"This is one of his tools. It's the yanky tool."
Dorian showed Liric a well-drawn picture – no, more a schematic or plan perspective – of something that could have been right out of a manual on obscure torture devices. Toss a very large nutcracker, a key, a hook, and an exquisitely delicate teacup all into the Wyld on a full moon and something like this might come out a month later and succeed in killing you horribly. "It's the yanky tool," repeated Dorian, "at least I'm pretty sure it is." Liric did not have to play dumb on that one. Dorian explained at length, along with the implications of such an instrument being in creation and, apparently, going into a private auction. According to Dorian, the "yanky tool" had been designed to extract an exaltation from a crushed and/or twisted soul so that it (the exaltation, that is, the remnants of the soul were destroyed in the process, of course) could then be implanted in a new host. Extremely handy to have in a Primordial War. Not likely to see so much use now... unless someone wanted to use it on an intact host, which, in theory, it would work on with similar efficacy as a soul. Maybe a tad less efficient due to all the mortal bits getting in the way.
Liric was getting the very nasty feeling that Dorian knew far more about him than he was quite willing to share with someone he had just met. But then a brilliant silver-white light from somewhere outside drew their attention to the window. Liric recognized it as a Lunar anima, similar to Fandris, but belonging to someone he didn't know.
"That's something someone should probably check out," said Dorian. "Wanna come?"
Liric was finding it irritatingly difficult to say no around him, and Dorian was seeming to be far too free with information for an exclusive information broker. "He must know something about me..."
Dorian had fast horses, a carriage, and guards at his call. They arrived at the place where the anima had been. They found the aftermath of a very significant fight, a very dead blood ape (or what was left of it) and signs of a very significant injury suffered by someone no longer there. Some mercenaries contracted by the council also showed up around the time, but Dorian used his reputation to have them just secure the house and keep people out. He and Liric were going to follow the trail into the undercity. When they did, it did not take them long to find Alya in very bad shape. When Liric saw her, beaten and bloody, he had a flashback – possibly remembering a nightmare – of hands covered in blood. Alya's hands? Or his? Liric took a few moments to recover from the shock of it, then used his spirit sight charm. The shock of seeing the Bloody Hand standing over Alya, looking very concerned, took a bit longer to recover from. There was also a rat that didn't seem to care much one way or the other. They took Alya back to Dorian's estate. Liric did the best he could to patch her up. He kept waiting for Dorian to ask for a good explanation, but he didn't.
Dorian was too busy getting ready for his next appointment – something about a baby at a party. It was a very exclusive party. For some reason Dorian invited Liric along again, and he agreed since he had done all he could for Alya and now she just needed some time to rest. It was also a very creepy party. Masks were involved. A baby was presented to Dorian. He was asked if it was a normal human baby. Yes, he thought it was a completely normal human baby. Everyone seemed happy. Liric managed to be socially adept enough to keep his mouth shut the entire time. They both left very shortly thereafter.
Back at his manor, Dorian suggested they get some better information about the crypts Liric had mentioned. So... he contacted Oro. Oro was able to confirm the information, and also knew of an "active" crypt that he had been told not to mess with. "Active" meaning disease, ghosts, both, or something else entirely he couldn't say. In return for the information, and further assistance, Oro told Dorian that he wanted a shrine, more prayers, and more information to exchange. Dorian said he thought he could manage something.
Oro ("Yes, definitely a rat.") was constantly insinuating he knew things about Dorian and Liric throughout the meeting, and kept asking if they knew as well. ("Do you know? Did you show him? What kind? Two-fers?") It was fairly obvious that he knew Dorian was exalted. Liric seriously considered hitting Dorian in the mouth, but didn't. He hadn't seen Dorian in an actual fight yet. He was unlikely less effective than Liric, though, so it was probably for the best.
Nexus has an Exalted infestation, and no one--not even the Exalted themselves--know who, how many, or why.
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