Liric Meranti

Nexus has an Exalted infestation, and no one--not even the Exalted themselves--know who, how many, or why.
sean
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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:26 am
Name: Sean
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Re: Liric Meranti

Postby sean » Sun Oct 18, 2015 5:00 am

Session 014.pdf
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10/10/2015 – Session 14 – 13, Descending Water – Inaspaucious Departures

     Liric paced back and forth across the property. He needed some way to observe the dragonbloods without himself being observed. Or some way in without being observed. Or a good place to watch for the Bloody Hand without being observed. Then after that there were any number of ways he could make contact with Alya. He was sure he could do all those initial things, the difficulty was in what came second – the actual contacting. He did not exactly have a large pool of essence to work with, and pretty much ensuring success in the first task made a discreet escape if something went wrong in the second part impossible. He was back at the Duskholme doorstep, considering his ways back in and looking across the city. He noticed some fires burning in several places across the city. What was going on? That was when Wilikins materialized behind him. He was not expecting that.
     "Sir, this is really not the best place for you to be, especially at this time. May I?"
     Liric was efficiently ushered into an empty room off the library. Outside they could still see the fires through the window.
     "Wilikins?"
     "Sir."
     Liric had no idea how to proceed without being rude. Wilikins... could materialize.
     "I didn't know that... you... has Dorian left for Great Forks?"
     "The Master is in Great Forks, and I just returned. The Master has made some travel arrangements that Sir may wish to take advantage of.... But Sir will need to leave soon. Shall I prepare a carriage?"
     "Right, okay, but... Wait? He's already there? Okay, fine, but I really need to find Alya, first. I don't suppose you have seen her, have you?"
     "Yes, Sir. She is crawling across the lawn and appears to be attempting entrance to the manor. If you will pardon me a moment..."
     Wilikins stepped across the room and raised a window just as Alya's head popped in view. "Do allow me to assist you, Madam, though we do have a front door." As Alya crawled through the window, Wilikins looked stony-faced into the dusk beyond and slowly shook his head.
     "I just was going to check if anyone was here." Alya said slowly.
     "Of course. Now, some sandwiches and a nice picnic basket and a carriage?" said Wilikins, turning back to her.
     "Right, but we kind of need to talk for a little bit, first," replied Liric.
     "Certainly." Wilikins led them out and down a flight a stairs, into what Dorian called the Heresitorium, where he kept everything the dragonblooded next door would be extremely interested in seeing and not appoving of in the least.
     Unipug was beginning to make a scene, and Liric was concerned the carpets were about to get soaked, either literally or in a more spiritual manner. Having finally come face to face with Alya, he wasn't holding up well. "I really should go get Gen. I really should go get Gen..."
     "Sit. Stay." Liric and Wilikins said together.
     "If you will excuse me, Sir, Madam." Wilikins left and closed the door behind him.
     Liric did his best to explain the current situation to Alya, and asked her to leave Nexus, if just for a little while. She told him that she already had some plans in motion that didn't really involve leaving. Chief among these was looking for a strange sort of tool for the Diamyo of Faces, Shalrina. Liric didn't like this much. He explained what had happened to him in heaven, what he had been told, dismissed Alya's alarm that he had been tracking her, ("It was your Bloody Hand we tracked, actually.") and reiterated his own memory problems, finally suggesting they seemed to go together somehow and maybe it would be more beneficial to work together and try to find a common solution, and maybe deal with Alya's enemies before they caused more trouble for either of them. Alya said that she had been told that for a while she had two souls in her and that possibly the other soul was dominating during the time she had amnesia, and that was the source of her memory issues. Liric was not quite sure what to make of this. He really wished he could communicate with his fellow exalts more frequently. In did potentially answer some questions, but opened up a lot of new ones as well. But regarding leaving and working together and laying low for a while, Alya finally agreed, in principle, at least, to all these things.
     Around that time Wilikins returned with a basket of sandwiches and told them a carriage was waiting. Then Alya noticed the yassal crystal Dorian had taken from the bolt hole. "Hey, that's mine... "
     "If Madam wishes to take her property...." offered Wilikins. "But time is of the essence."
     Wilikins was really beginning to make Liric worried. Maybe something was going on that he wasn't aware of? Like what was up with the fires? Alya had been in the house next door this time, so people couldn't be blaming her this time, and he didn't think she'd ever burn Jampa's teahouse.
     "But, there's still some things I really need to do here," Liric tried to explain as Wilikins ushered them up the stairs.
     "The Master has made arrangements that it would be very good to make use of. If Sir takes to the road now, Sir should find himself in Great Forks very quickly."
     "But..."
     "It is simply not a good time to remain here," pressed Wilikins as he showed them out of the house and to the waiting carriage. A cold sleet had begun to fall, and the wind had picked up a bit. It gave the growing night a very ominous feeling.
     "At the first major crossroads, Sir should find all the assistance he needs to continue his journey."
     Unipug was having a minor crisis of terror, now finding himself inside a carriage with Alya.
     Wilikins handed the basket through the carriage window to Liric, then picked up Unipug from the seat.
     "Um, if you're going back to Great Forks," began Liric, "could you possibly take him with you? I... sort of need him there." He didn't, but he didn't like the idea of leaving Unipug alone.
     "Of course, Sir. Now, on your way, Sir, Madam."
     And the carriage was off. They passed the dragon-bloods next door. Liric just sat back in the seat and unconsciously held his breath as they went by, then sighed as they continued down the hill toward the gates. He began to get an uneasy feeling. There were a lot of things he still needed to do, especially the recent promise to the doctor (Did he even get her name?) to help her at her clinic the next day. Then there was the meeting with Gen he hoped would earn him some gratitude and favor, and possibly shelter from the Wyld Hunt and the cooperation of the Council, or at least part of it. Then there was still that yankee tool floating around. It probably wouldn't surface with the Wyld Hunt in town, but if they left... with no significant exalted presence at all...
     He was brought out of his anxiety when Alya said she thought she saw the dragon-bloods in a whirlwind moving by very quickly and moving ahead of them. They were a few miles outside the city gates by now. Liric looked out, but saw nothing. He supposed it could be possible, dragon-bloods having some elemental control and all. If they were going to stop the carriage, though, there really wasn't much preventing them from doing that now.
     Liric got his own shock a short time later as they passed the stones of exile. He clearly saw the Emissary in the shadows of a fire some poor travelers had started to try to keep warm, then the Emissary took a step or two back into the darkness and was gone. Great. It knows I've left, and it's not happy. He told Alya, who looked out but didn't see anything, and seemed skeptical.
     Eventually they reached a small roadhouse at a crossroads and the carriage dropped them off at the door, then headed back toward Nexus. They trudged inside. There was just the proprietor and two dirty, travel-worn guys at the bar.
     Liric began to get the nasty feeling that maybe Wilikins just wanted him out of the house and off the grounds. After some awkward interraction, the muddier of the two men asked Alya if she were Alya. She confirmed that, yes, that's who they were. The man seemed relieved and said that Dorian should expect them to be on their way soon, but if they wanted dad to show up, they'd have to make a prayer. But in the meantime, they should share a story.
     Liric finally began putting the pieces together. This was an offspring of Talespinner, one of the gods of Great Forks. And unless Dorian had paid through the nose for travel arrangements, this was going to cost them a favor. Liric was pretty sure Dorian wasn't footing the bill for this one. They agreed to work on this the next morning.
     Their initial attempt was not very successful.
     Neither was their second.
     Liric thought a complete rethinking was in order. Alya thought maybe getting drunk with some traveling entertainers might help. In the end they did a little of both, trudging up and down the road near the roadhouse, telling stories about where the travelers had been and what they had done, and Liric adding in that he'd be willing to perform some major service to anyone who could help him continue the journey and the story.
     This time Talespinner did appear. He did not appear to be in any great hurry, somewhat to Liric's irritation. He talked with them both for a while, made an agreement, then also made an agreement with a cat nearby that Liric had not been paying any attention to. A cat? It never actually spoke, and Talespinner just asked if it wanted the same agreement, which was followed by a 'mew' and some head nodding and satisfied purring. They started down the road, Talespinner starting in on an elaborate story. Liric kept an eye on the cat.
     Not too long afterward they came to a cabin by the road. Talespinner invited them in, said he would be on his way, but he was sure they would meet again soon. There was a warm fire, some comfortable cots, and good traveling food – fresh bread and stew. There were also some books, primarily travel guides and atlasses. It was also fairly heavy food. All of them had a bowl. The cat... shifted into a monkey... dipped itself another bowl... then shifted back to a cat, and proceeded to continue eating.
     Riiiiight.
     Alya fell asleep rather quickly, the last of the alcohol also showing its effect. The cat – Fandris, rather – looked remarkably full and content curled up next to the fire. Liric was the only one that stayed awake, or perhaps he dozed as well, for he suddenly realized that the light had shifted and noises outside were different. He opened one of the shutters on a window and looked out. They were definitely not where they were a few hours before. How long, though? Liric had the feeling it was early the next day, and when he went out he would find himself just outside Great Forks, meaning their journey had taken an entire day... and the meeting with Gen and the doctor would have been the previous evening. He wasn't sure though. He was pretty sure that no matter what now, he couldn't get back in time anyway, even if his estimates were off.
     The others soon woke. They found some good traveling clothes that fit them in a wardrobe and changed into them. Outside, the feeling was of early morning, and they could just see the walls of the city of Great Forks beyond some trees down the road. They also met a girl on the road who told them that since they had met dad, they probably wanted to meet Dorian now, too. They started toward the city. She did caution them that there had been some significant events happen in the past couple of days, and not to be too surprised, but she would let Dorian tell that story. Liric flatly asked her if the entire town knew of the various exalted that might be around, or was that being kept hush. The girl just smiled mischievously and said that letting everyone know at once wouldn't make for a very good story. Inside the city, every building had been festooned with blue and motifs of Venus. It had the appearance of being a very earnest but impromptu affair, as quite a few decorations were a bit tattered or wrinkled as if they had been in storage for a long time, but the sheer quantity made up for it. She led them to a townhouse in the middle of the city and took her leave.
     Dorian was not there. Wilikins was. So was Unipug, who seemed to be hovering between abject sadness and utter despair. Liric felt rather bad but didn't have much time to talk to him, because then Dorian arrived with... purchases.
     It may as well have been a full month, maybe even three since Liric had last seen Dorian, instead of a few days. These were the significant events as well as Liric was able to piece them all together in a few minutes of confused introductions:
  • Dorian, Nexus' most eligible bachelor, had gotten married to Nerium the half-neomah.
  • Jampa had presided over the ceremony, which was a smashing success because
  • Venus herself had showed up to bless the couple when their vows were exchanged
  • and now Dorian was... buying a family from the slave markets which consisted of
  • two human children and
  • one adult Djala with a child who showed a remarkable aptitude for technology
  • and a wyld-touched kid that Dorian asked Liric to check out for mental illness.
     The wyld-touched kid was disturbing. Liric determined that he simply did not function mentally as people did, and did not really even see people as people. He could not empathize or show compassion in any real capacity that could be recognized as human. These were innate traits, brought about by his bloodline. So, no, Liric couldn't fix him, since, for him, that was normal and didn't need fixing. If Dorian wanted him to function as a normal child, that would require some kind of alteration, and alteration was beyond any of Liric's abilities.
     That diagnosis was a bit depressing. But more significant to Liric were all the things back in Nexus he had left unfinished, and the more he thought about them, the more they bothered him. Despite the Wyld Hunt presence he thought he ought to try to find some way back. If one Councilor showed him favor, like Master Gen, he was pretty sure he could be insulated from the Wyld Hunt if he didn't cause any problems and began working on some projects Gen wanted to see happen. He really didn't want to find himself owing another large favor, though, so decided he would ask around and try to find out if anyone else had ideas for getting back, or even if that was a good idea at all.

sean
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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:26 am
Name: Sean
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Re: Liric Meranti

Postby sean » Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:39 am

Session 015.pdf
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10/25/2015 – Session 15 – 15, Descending Water – Trials and Tribulations
     Outside the commotion of kids and post-wedding well-wishes, Liric was able to find a chance to have a long talk with Jampa and Oro concerning Oro's actions and attitude particularly as it related to Liric's abduction into heaven and continuing hostility toward Alya. Oro made it clear he really disliked Alya and was convinced she was actually much older than she said she was, and that the lost memory was likely a sham. Liric found these assertions extremely difficult to believe. Jampa seemed to be very sympathetic to the little rat, but it was difficult for Liric to feel much the same way. However, he couldn't deny that Oro hadn't been treated exactly well in the past, particularly by Alya, though he seemed reluctant to go into details. Liric just hoped that he had pressed his point that he didn't want to get caught up in the middle of any more bizarre kidnapping plots.
     On a more personal level, Liric asked Jampa her opinion about his leaving Nexus so suddenly, and some of the things he still wanted to accomplish there. Jampa told him that if he felt that strongly about it, then he really should try to get back soon, even if it might be dangerous. Liric said he would think about it, and spent the next couple of days doing so, but could not come up with anything that could get him back to Nexus quickly that would not involve another major obligation to someone.
     Liric received an invitation from Dorian to stay at the flat, but he found the place a little too chaotic to really concentrate and think. To escape the bustle of the flat, Liric took to the streets. Unipug followed him frequently, materialized. He seemed to enjoy just getting out like that, following someone around, and blending very well among all the gods and god-blooded there were in Great Forks. Liric could never quite think of him as just a dog, even in moments when he stopped to roll around in a patch of dirt or grass that was receiving a moment of sunshine through the patchy skies.
     In the early afternoon of his second day of wandering, Liric found himself inside a tavern, not someplace he usually frequented, but he found himself unaccountably in the mood for refreshments both simple and strong. Inside he found Fandris carousing with a few locals. He hardly knew Fandris, really. They had virtually nothing in common, and Liric was quite sure Fandris' gang had marked him for petty theft, or possibly a good mugging, the first day he was in Nexus. Still, there was something about him that Liric couldn't help but like. Fandris motioned him over, and Liric soon found himself sharing his concerns about what his next course of action should be. Fandris got them both very large mugs of Ale and starting talking. Liric got the idea he was going to be expected to finish the mug when Fandris finished talking. That, and pay the tab. Though they hadn't been around each other a lot, Liric had never got the impression that Fandris was long-winded. Liric listened and began gulping ale.
     Fandris' advice was quite straightforward, involved a little story, Fandris' arm over Liric's shoulder in a good-natured semi-bear (or badger?) hug about halfway through the story, several hearty laughs, and the conclusion that Liric shouldn't stress so much about things he couldn't do anything about, and to learn to roll with the punches. Then bottoms up. There was still rather more ale in Liric's mug than he thought he could handle at once, but he did his best. Fandris just laughed again and gave him a good-natured punch to the shoulder. Liric barely saw it coming in time to relax a bit on the barstool (roll with the punches) and let it spin him around rather than send him flying from his seat. Laughing as best he could, Liric thanked Fandris and left some silver on the counter. When he was outside, he winced a little and made sure his shoulder could completely rotate the right way. Then he activated his body-mending meditation charm. Exalted or no, that would leave a mark the next day without some intervention.
     That evening most every exalt Liric knew had found their way back to Dorian's flat. It seemed most of them intended to set out on their own or a while to train some kind of skill or just for meditative purposes, and intended to eventually return to Nexus. Liric let them know that he intended to return to Nexus immediately. He hadn't worked out the details, but he would probably try to contact some god associated with travel and ask a favor. Liric also showed them all the prayer transceiver module he had and explained how it worked, and suggested maybe they look in to acquiring some of these to make communication easier. It seemed like a fine idea to most if Liric was the one who actually did the acquiring.
     That night would be the last time Liric would see them for many months. The following day he was taking another walk around the city, considering which god associated with travel might be most inclined to assist him while being least troublesome to owe a significant favor, when he made his way into the temple of the Unconquered Sun. It was devoted to his aspect as the god of the sun, with no reference to anything that might be considered anathema. It was smallish, but the interior architecture was subtly heretical in a way Liric found himself approving of, with vaulted ceilings, massive block architecture, squared pyramids, and a bit of iconography (a small image of the Unconquered Sun, about two feet tall) all frowned upon by the Immaculate Order. Liric wasn't exactly expecting anything profound to happen, but he wouldn't have refused a vision at this point, either, if it happened. Instead, he heard his name being called across the interior. The voice was neither booming nor godlike.
     The voice belonged to a white-robed initiate that Liric had payed no significant attention to when he first entered. The man's name was Yanis, and he had the look of a mildly desperate, manic individual whose emotional control rested mostly in the amount of hallucinogens he had not yet sweated out of his system. He claimed he was Liric's business partner. Liric did not remember having any business partner. However, the man seemed to have knowledge about Liric that only someone who knew Liric prior to his exaltation would have. His initial elated attitude at having found Liric was very short-lived when he discovered Liric had no memory of him or their business. The short version of the man's story was that he needed Liric to sign over his part in the ownership of some items in a storage facility, especially since he had sold off some mutual assets and left town about 9 months ago. And now, please, if it wasn't too inconvenient.
     Roll with the punches.
     The long version of the story Liric got over the next week as they made their way upriver to Northport. Liric had left Yanis in a somewhat bad position financially. In addition to that, Yanis had seen a strange light about the time Liric disappeared that he couldn't explain. Asking around about both the light and Liric had eventually put him into contact with the Cult of the Illuminated, which was what Yanis was now living his life for, “to help out the illuminated ones.” The light had the same characteristics as Liric's anima, and the “illuminated ones” were the returning solars, though couched in imagery and descriptions to try to make them distinct from the anathema of the Immaculate Order. And Yanis was trying to find inner meaning through a regiment of self-flagellation, dietary restriction, hallucinogens, and katas. Liric studied the man's routines carefully. He had no experience himself in martial arts, but could find no occult or symbolic significance whatsoever in anything Yanis was doing. And the more Yanis went on about the Cult of the Illuminated, the more it seemed outwardly well-intentioned yet manipulative to Liric.
     In Northport, they got the paperwork, and Liric signed over his part of the locker's contents. He did insist on actually seeing what was in there, though after protests by Yanis, he signed over ownership first. His time with Yanis had begun to bring back some memories, and he thought maybe the locker's contents might bring back more. Well, maybe not so much actual distinct memories, but awareness of skills, a certain familiarity with travel and local geography, and hazy recollections about Northport and its environs – more like images from a dream or images imagined after reading about some place, then traveling there and finding your imagination had a remarkable coincidence with reality.
     Finally, they opened the locker. Is was down in a basement area under a house, and might have possibly been a regular room at one point. Its mundane surroundings were more important as a hiding place than the lock on the wooden door. Inside there were stacked crates filled with.....
     Roll with the punches.
     …
     Roll with the punches, Liric.
     …
     Liric?
     That's a lot of punches.
     Roll with 'em.

     Inside there were stacked crates filled with every scavenger lord's or would-be scavenger lord's greatest hope and worst nightmare. A large trove of artifacts, magical materials, and papers, including some artifacts that looked like they could be returned to working order by someone with the right skills. These were not a nice little stash of trinkets that could be sold over a few months without attracting attention. This was a major find worth the trouble for someone significantly more powerful than the scavenger lord or would-be scavenger lord to come and claim as their own. But it would set up a scavenger lord or would-be scavenger lord and their family for the rest of their lives if they could somehow manage to trade them off or sell them to the right party. Liric activated a charm that allowed him to determine the worth of what he was looking at, just to be sure. And Yanis was preparing to give it all away... to an organization supporting powerful essence users to whom the trouble spent acquiring the goods would be well worth the advantage of having them... after an extremely unlikely set of coincidences set in motion by Liric's own exaltation and Yanis' inadvertent spotting of his anima and subsequent inquiries into it. The Cult would even have the paperwork now should anyone actually bother about claims of legal ownership. The chance meeting at the temple of the Unconquered Sun was something Liric could not explain. The rest reeked of manipulation.... or just possibly the most unlikely coincidence ever.
     Yanis was about to leave to go to his contacts. Liric wanted some more information, and there was only one way he was going to get it. Liric made sure the door was closed securely and flared his anima. “This is the light you saw nine months ago, isn't it?” Yanis just stood wide-eyed (“They can still get wider even after all those hallucinogens?”) then fell to the floor on his knees. “I'll take that as a 'yes,' then.” Liric began to get out his healing satchel. “Ok, first thing, let me see your back. I don't want you to go around hitting yourself anymore.”
     Liric explained what he could while he healed the welts and purged the drugs from Yanis' system. At the least he wanted the man to be in full control of his mind before making any kind of decision like that. Liric said he had to be careful because the Wyld Hunt did not make any distinction between anathema and illuminated. No, he had not always been an illuminated one. No, he could not say for sure just how that worked, or if all the illuminated had been through experiences like his. Something had happened at or around the same time that was traumatic that caused Liric to lose his memory. No, he didn't think that was normal, but yes, he had in fact been to heaven. Liric kept things generic and a bit vague. He did not want to contradict anything the cult had taught Yanis as that would likely just create more problems for Yanis later. However, if the illuminated were supposed to set the world in order, it couldn't hurt by starting with setting Yanis on a path somewhat less self-destructive. Liric would not try to claim anything from storage here, but he did want Yanis to think about family and relatives as well as his desire to support the cult. By the time he was finished, Liric's anima had died down, and he agreed to wait for Yanis to go to his contacts and them meet with a representative from the cult, but otherwise he would appreciate Yanis keeping his identify to himself for now.
     It was late in the evening when Yanis came back and said a representative would like to see Liric. It took another couple of hours to get to the meeting place far out of town, and it was fully night by then. Liric was aware that this could go very badly if the representatives had hostile intent, but under the circumstances he was willing to take that chance.
     Roll with the punches.
     The lesser ranking cult members left, then Liric was alone with one figure with a deeply cowled cloak in the shadows of some large trees.
     “Liric, what are you doing here?” was the first question from the figure that carried with it a tone of exasperated familiarity.
     “Wait, what do you... do I know... am I supposed to know you?” was Liric's exasperated response.
     The man would not tell Liric his name or any real details about himself. (Liric would later think of him as “the cult figure.”) He obviously knew some details about Liric though. He explained a few things about the Cult of the Illuminated to Liric. He didn't think it was something Liric would be interested in, though. Liric had to agree. The training offered to young solars was a little interesting, but Liric already had a fairly definite purpose in mind. And if the results were anything like those experienced by Yanis, Liric thought he would pass. Besides, his priorities were back in Nexus. The cult figure asked if Liric was sure, maybe start somewhere a little less awful and work his way up? Liric was sure. The cult figure offered him a ride, if he wanted it, then. The ride turned out to be in an aerial rickshaw. An aerial rickshaw where Liric found one grain of partially chewed raw rice in the back seat.
     That complicated things. Liric never mentioned the rice. He wasn't sure if the cult figure had anything to do with his abduction into heaven, and he couldn't be certain that the Cult of the Illuminated wanted Alya dead, but it was hard not to put them together. Was that going to be how the cult dealt with solars it couldn't control or who acted against its principles in some way, or simply disagreed with its methods? Perhaps the cult figure was god-blooded, and his parent or ally of a parent, while giving general support to the returning solars, had been so offended in some way by Alya that they were making this one vindictive exception? Given their proximity to Great Forks, the purpose of Liric's abduction into heaven, and the lack of personal hostility he felt like he was getting from the cult figure, that seemed more reasonable and consistent. And the cult figure could have features that might make his lineage obvious... or maybe he was just the offspring of one of those gods human sensibilities would not have found remotely attractive. He supposed that the rickshaws could have been hired out, and simple coincidence had brought him to the same one... but Liric thought he had enough coincidence in his life recently.
     Also, there was the matter of Unipug. Unipug was still with Liric and was in the front near the cult figure where he could get a better view out the windows. Naturally, being Unipug, he had a hard time keeping quiet about certain things, and something about Alya did slip. Liric could tell that the cult figure was interested in learning more about that but was trying not to show much interest. Fine. Liric would keep quiet about the rice, the cult figure could keep quiet about Alya, and maybe they would or would not figure out various thoughts in each others heads. Obviously there were greater powers at work than Liric had been introduced to, and he would not get any closer for now.
     In the early morning hours before the sun was up, the cult figure dropped Liric off not at Great Forks like he expected, but at a little town west of Great Forks. This would make contacting a god of travel more complicated, unless Liric took a few days to go back upriver.
     Roll with the punches.
     Liric considered some options, then booked passage on a barge that would arrive in Nexus in about 3 weeks after making numerous stops along the way. This would give him a chance to sort out a few things in his head, and also confirm some insights he had received about his past. It was clearer to Liric that he was familiar with river transport. The day-to-day activities on the barge should make intuitive sense to him – the frequent loading and unloading, basic navigation, and so on, and Liric wanted to make what his instincts were telling him more definite. Liric also decided he wanted to spend some extra time with Unipug. Liric thought he really needed to work on reliable means of contacting gods and spirits. The most direct way was usually prayer, something he would need some practice doing. And since Unipug was a god or sorts (Liric couldn't quite completely equate Unipug with divinity or plain doggy-ness – maybe he had been around Unipug too much – and was beginning to think of him more as just a furry mound of Personality.), he could probably give Liric some advice and let him know if he was getting through.
     Liric arrived back in Nexus nearly a month to the day after he left. The Wyld Hunt had cleared out. Liric did not bother with any kind of disguise of pseudonym. He paid the entry fee at the gates and found a modest room in the Cinnabar district. Then he asked Unipug if he would go contact Gen again and let him know where Liric was, and if possible, to please meet with him regarding the topic of their previous meeting. Liric waited all afternoon in his room. And then all evening. Liric did not go to bed despite the late hour. He would sit up in the chair until morning, but this first night he was not going to sleep. He was pretty sure one of two things would happen. The first, and most likely, someone would be paying him a visit – either Gen, the Emissary, or possibly someone Liric hadn't met. Liric was hoping for Gen. The second, and this seemed somewhat less likely, was that his return would be completely ignored. Liric could not deny that a part of him would have no problem with this outcome. However, if he could meet Gen, and if Gen could be slightly reasonable, and if Gen would even possibly advocate for Liric in the council and let him work on projects of mutual benefit....
     Liric woke up. He felt like he had received a spectacular blow to the head and had been transported not very gently to... somewhere. He could feel essence around him – possibly he was in a manse. He was on the floor, the lighting was strange, and he could hear a strange bubbling sound behind him. He slowly got to his feet and worked a little soreness from his joints. He was in a room with the Emissary.
     Roll with the punches.
     Okay, he was in a room with the Emissary. He was alive, which indicated he was more useful in that state than dead, and not bound and imprisoned, which indicated his usefulness was not as a future horrible public example of the consequences of defying the Emissary. Probably. So things could be worse. Liric looked around. Judging by the architecture, we was in the hearthroom of a manse. However, where he might expect a pedestal bearing a hearthstone or some other principle focus of essence, there was an opening in the floor, presently closed by a metal door that would open like an iris. Nearby was a circular metal valve in the floor whose purpose seemed obvious, and next to that was another man, bound, that Liric did not recognize, whose purpose was somewhat less obvious. Less obvious still was the purpose of the large glass cylinders lining one of the walls. A couple were broken, the glass scattered on the floor, and others were filled with a strange liquid. It was from these the bubbling sound came. Liric did note they were just large enough to hold a person before his attention was diverted back to the floor in front of him.
     The Emissary was not saying anything, but he... it... was pointing to the valve. The meaning was obvious. Liric didn't say anything either, though there were several pressing questions on him mind. Where they were and what was happening were the most pressing. He bent down and began turning the valve. It was heavy but moved smoothly with an ominous creaking sound that Liric felt sure had been deliberately designed in to its workings. As expected, the iris in the floor began to open. At first, there was nothing but a dark hole, but then when the iris was about half opened, Liric felt every fiber of his being assailed by something unseen coming from the pit before him. His skin began to itch and redden, his eyes burned, and something inside him felt like it was growing at an alarming rate, while something else just felt like it was alive and moving around.
     The unknown man on the floor was having it much worse though. He was screaming in pain and lesions and growths were sprouting over his skin. His eyes swelled and ruptured. He was wracked with convulsions and Liric could see some kind of movement beneath his skin that could not have been caused by any sort of muscular contractions. It was all Liric could do to just back away from the opening to the far wall, where he stopped between two giant tubes of liquid. The Emissary stood observing it all impassively.
     The man on the floor was now unrecognizable and some kind of growth like a fungus was beginning to spread over his body. Liric wanted to demand an explanation from the silver mask, but he thought opening his mouth might result in something he really needed inside somehow making its way outside. He felt like all his internal organs were being rearranged. The Emissary turned the valve back, and the iris closed. The worst of the feeling of being assailed stopped, but Liric knew he was extremely ill from multiple diseases, with extensive unknown internal damage. His exalted nature must have provided some protection, or maybe the mortal was simply easier for... whatever... to attack, so Liric did not receive the full effects.
     The Emissary began to approach. Liric desperately wanted to say something, but any attempt to form words were just lost in waves of nausea.
     Roll with the punches.
     Not now.
     You better...
     I have never felt this bad... I didn't know you
could feel this bad...
     Liric realized he was going to get knocked out again.
     Roll with the punches.
     Oh, shut up.

     For a moment, Liric considered trying to fight or trying to run. Only he really couldn't do much of either, at least not enough to be effective against this thing in front of him. He determined he wouldn't cower, and as much as he wanted to say something the best way to avoid throwing up at the moment was to keep his jaw clenched.
     No, roll with the punches.
     …because if it's clenched it might break, right, got it. Flare anima to reduce damage? No, that might just make it mad. Madder. Ok, rolling, but this is still gonna hurt...

     The last thing Liric remembered was a raspy voice saying, "DON'T LEAVE TOWN."
     Liric woke up several hours later on the floor again. The sunlight coming through the window indicated he was back in his room at the hotel he had found in Cinnabar, and it was early morning. His Resplendent Satchel of Healing was on the floor by the bed. He checked himself and concluded... he was in bad shape and a lot of stuff was wrong. Most worrisome was a huge tumor Liric could see and feel beneath the skin on his side. He felt like he could pass out any time again, though, so he activated his Body Mending charm. He crawled to the satchel and took out the instruments and set them in approximately the right positions. It took a while, but the body mending charm was doing its work. Liric gave it a little while longer to mostly stop the throbbing in his head. Then he checked the instruments again, made a couple of adjustments, and flooded them with all his personal essence to enhance their performance. A few minutes later the tumor was gone, and Liric felt remarkably better for a few seconds before he realized how badly he felt elsewhere.
     Liric spent the rest of the day healing himself, pacing out the use of essence as it was resupplied by his hearthstone amulet. He went for the most serious and most painful afflictions first, then moved on to lesser ailments. He kept finding new places he was suffering infection, but he was getting better. The last thing to go was a painless but vile looking fungus beneath a toenail. It was late afternoon by then, and Liric just lay on the floor staring up at the ceiling. He supposed he should be feeling grateful to be alive, that all his internal organs were present and in working order, and should also be feeling abject terror at the thought of what might happen should the Emissary give him a command a third time. (“If that thing even repeats itself more than once.”) But he didn't feel that way at all. Mostly he was angry. Angry for being unable to help the man back at the manse, angry for being unable to really fight, but mostly angry at that thing for its casual cruelty and obtuseness. “Don't leave town? And why not? What for? What am I supposed to be doing? And what does that thing want, anyway?” He eventually went downstairs for some water and a small bowl of rice. He wondered if that thing had dragged his through the commons area, but nobody seemed to pay him much attention.
     The next day Unipug showed back up. Liric couldn't blame him for taking off. He spent the day in his room running every little thing through his mind over and over, and waiting for Gen. He was pretty sure he had been given all the attention the council had to offer for the time, though. Two things stood out. He was sure they had been in a manse. And the only manses in Nexus were the old Solar tombs that it was forbidden to try to enter. He didn't think it likely he had been removed from Nexus. That just didn't seem like the Emissary, or that thing as Liric now tended to think of it. Second, there was a rumor he unearthed shortly after arriving months ago that the Contagion actually began in Nexus. What he had largely dismissed now took on more significance. Maybe. A manse built to breed disease? Or maybe a partially damaged manse that now only bred disease? Either way a wood aspected manse seemed most likely. Unless is was an underworld abyssal manse, and Liric didn't have much familiarity with them. It would take a shadowland to get into the underworld, though. Liric supposed there might be such a thing somewhere in the under-city, but shadowlands were one of the few afflictions on creation from which Nexus seemed to be free.
     The next day Liric decided he had been on his back staring at the ceiling long enough. He used his new performance charm to contact Sund with his prayer transceiver module to ask he about any information she had on “mosaics.” He also made a formal request at the council tower for an audience with Gen. Liric was told he would be informed when the councilor had an opportunity to meet, but please leave his contact information. Liric did and thanked the receptionist. Only one more thing to do. Strangely, Liric was dreading this about as much as he had been an encounter with that thing.
     Her name was Doctor Diya. She ran the tiny clinic Liric had promised to help out at a month ago then disappeared. He was disguised as not-Liric at the time, but there was little mistaking the Satchel. She eyed him with a bit of suspicion.
     “You're late.”
     “I was called out of the city rather unexpectedly.”
     “Uh-huh.”
     “So... I was wondering... if you could still use an assistant?”
     “Sure. As long as you work cheap.”
     She showed Liric inside, then placed a sign in the door, “Buy one, get one free.” Then she suggested Unipug might want to dance out in the street to attract more business. Liric had no idea at all if she was serious. But by cheap she seemed to mean "for free."
     Sund showed up and gave Liric information on mosaics. Mothers who had recently given birth and their newborns, twins, and people who had undergone procedures like blood or bone marrow transfusion were most likely to develop symptoms. She supposed it might be possible to replicate the effects in the Wyld or through the work of demons. When testing different parts of an afflicted person, those parts would show as belonging to different people. She did not think there should be any way for it to affect memory. Finally, most information about it had been destroyed around the time of the Usurpation because lots of experiments being conducted then (and most of that was done in Nexus, or Hollow) were considered quite horrific.
     Liric thanked her, and he asked if there was any thaumaturgical rituals, uncommon plants, or other information of a healing nature she thought might be useful to reintroduce back into creation. She didn't offer anything specific, but suggested focusing on taboos and hygiene as a start, especially for Nexus, and indicated there were already people in Nexus who could probably help Liric out.
     A couple of days later, a new mother Liric had seen on his first visit into the clinic a month earlier showed up complaining of headaches. She said she “just wanted to stop the pain.” The wording of her complaint caught Liric's attention. He checked very carefully, and determined that she was likely a mosaic. He thought treating the headache as if a tumor was the cause would likely result in a cure. He proceeded to do that, and the woman said she felt much better. Liric asked her to come back in a few days for a followup checkup, and to bring the baby, too, no charge. She did, and both seemed to be free of signs of the affliction.
     About two more months passed like this. Liric spent most of his days on his own working on his own personal skills. In the evenings he spent a few hours at the clinic working on the most difficult to treat cases and compiling records of seasonal ailments, with Dr. Diya's assistance, and possible ways to address them in terms of public health, such as establishing new taboos or hygiene rituals, commercial practices, or even new civilities. He did not see any signs of the Council or the other exalts he knew. Then the mother showed back up at the clinic, complaining of the same symptoms. There had been a relapse of some sort. But this time Liric had another medical charm he could use to assist him. He used it while doing a careful examination, and realized there was some critical piece of information about her condition he did not know. The woman did not seem to have anything else he could tell him; the baby still seemed fine. Liric told her he would just do the same thing he did last time, since it seemed to work for two months. He didn't go into more detail – he wasn't even sure if she could understand, and he didn't know what a successful treatment would require.
     While he was finishing her treatment, an ornate carriage pulled up outside. Dorian and Jampa had arrived with several prostitutes that … well... frankly, just needed a good cleaning out. Dorian, especially, seemed to like doing things like this to Liric. The two had nominally come by to invite Liric to a party of sorts that would be at the Duskholme manor that evening. Liric was surprised he hadn't heard anything about Dorian's arrival back in Nexus. Dorian had to hurry off to meet up with Nerium, but not before offering to buy or build her a much larger clinic. He was irritating like that. Jampa stayed and filled him in on the details. Essentially it was an audition by several bands to play at Dorian and Nerium's Nexus ceremony that had gotten out of hand, and had morphed into a free concert at the estate with food and drinks for whoever showed up. Liric said he would stop by if he had time, which he did. The bands had been organized by Alya (“So, everyone is back, then?”) and were all very amazing.
     After the concert, Liric was able to have a few words with Dorian and Jampa down in the heresitorium. Oro was there with Jampa, too. Liric told them about what had happened to him immediately after returning. He tried to get some more information from Oro. Oro hinted that the Emissary was, in fact, known to enter the tombs. But he absolutely refused to provide details, saying there were some things he didn't want to know. Liric thought, more likely, there were just some things he didn't want to mess with.
     Oro's distaste for Alya had not slackened, and he told them that the Wyld Hunt had really hurt Fandris' gang, and a lot of people had been sold off into slavery, but Fandris and Alya didn't seem much concerned. Liric wasn't sure that maybe they just hadn't had time to do anything about it yet. But it was still disturbing and discouraging news at a time Liric was hoping for a little more support and maybe even a bit of camaraderie.

sean
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:26 am
Name: Sean
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Re: Liric Meranti

Postby sean » Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:36 pm

Session 016.pdf
(52.97 KiB) Downloaded 92 times

11/14/2015 – Session 16 – 23, Ascending Wood – Jampa's Basement
     Liric received an invitation to Nerium and Dorian's Nexus Marriage a couple of days after Dorian's visit to the clinic. Included was a short note from Nerium informing Liric that they would both like for him to be there, and that Dorian wanted him to be his best man. The reason for this, according to Nerium, was that Dorian thought of Liric as his little brother. This was surprising to Liric, and he had to think about what that might mean to him for most of the day.
     Late that afternoon he went to the estate. He wanted to confirm with Dorian that he really wanted Liric there, considering Liric's checkered past with the Council. Dorian assured Liric that he didn't think it was a big deal. Liric privately disagreed, as he had spent the past two months doing his best to not cause trouble, and really didn't want to spread any to the Duskholme estate, but he did agree to be Dorian's best man.
     Since tailors were already there, Liric was fitted for appropriate attire. The invitation he had also mentioned he could bring a guest. The only other person he really knew was Dr. Diya. He wasn't sure about that. While he was being fitted, Dorian also showed him a list of things that were going to be available at an upcoming auction that would be sometime after the wedding. There were quite a few minor artifacts, fine and superior equipment and animals, slaves, and favors and services. It looked like the guild was taking artifacts and services in exchange for credit, then auctioning off the artifacts and services as well. Liric was very interested in a few items including a couple of maps to demenses, some incense that would prevent the spread of disease, and some freshwater pearls. However, he was concerned about the kinds of people any exchange of goods or services might be going to. From the looks of some of the services on the list, some of the buyers seemed like a shady lot.
     They also briefly discussed plans for Dorian's “tenements for sick people.” Dorian wasn't taking much of an active roll and was leaving decisions to a group of designers and architects, but said Liric was welcome to provide input if he wanted. So far they didn't even have a site picked out. Liric thought that was probably something that should be looked into pretty soon.
     After the fitting, Dorian asked Liric if he wanted to go out to “a cabaret show.” Nerium would also be going along. Liric decided to take a chance and live a little and said okay. The show was... amusing enough. “Cabaret” turned out to mean classier strip joint. Dorian seemed thoroughly uninteresting in the male strippers on the stage and spent most of his time reading, and Nerium was paying much more attention to the crowd. Liric supposed if anyone were married to someone like Nerium that anything and anyone else probably wouldn't compare well at all. Dorian explained that Nerium was eating for two, and also that she consumed desire. Liric wasn't quite sure what to make of that so he just said “congratulations.” Liric tried to enjoy the rest of the show, but by that time the boys had taken out some sparklers and the rest after that was just a bit silly. Liric suspected he might see a few in the clinic the next day to take care of some accidental scorching.
     Afterward, they considered heading to a second show since Nerium was still a bit hungry, but a messenger came for Dorian and said that some kind of tense situation was developing at Jampa's old teahouse. Dorian had apparently put the place under watch by some of his guards in case anyone still had hostile intentions toward it or Jampa. They took a carriage and parked about a block away. Nerium stayed behind while Dorian and Liric went to investigate.
     Reconstruction had begun, so they couldn't see what was up immediately. When they ventured down into the basement, though, they found Jampa, Norbu, and someone else and his head, both drained of blood, and a lot of ghosts. Liric activated his spirit sight charm, and realized there were quite a few more ghosts. Dorian also pointed out a tiny shadowland, maybe 6 inches across, in the center of the basement. It was easy to miss, but definitely had an unhappier look about it compared to the rest of the place once you knew what to look for. He drew a circle around it, stood back, thought for a moment, then added a date. He looked around again, glanced at the body and Jampa and Norbu, then said if there was nothing else, he'd be excusing himself.
     Liric would have been happy to leave, but Jampa said she was injured and asked Liric if he could heal her. Dorian headed out anyway and said he'd send a carriage. The cut on Jampa's wrist was easy enough to treat (Liric didn't ask how it happened – it seemed fairly obvious) but she also had a bloody nose Liric couldn't immediately see any reason for. It obviously wasn't broken, so Liric just told her to keep some pressure on it and it should stop on its own. He was really eager to get out of there. There were too many ghosts, and Norbu kept looking back and forth from the body to the shadowland, sometimes holding up a couple of fingers to judge relative sizes or trying to determine which was bigger. Then Jampa mentioned that the nosebleed happened when arguing with someone who might have been exalted. Liric glanced at the body and asked if that was him. He had inferred based on a few exchanges with Jampa and Norbu plus what a few ghosts were talking about that the recently decapitated was responsible for the fire. Jampa said no, it was someone else.
     Liric decided he didn't want more details right then. He used a medicine charm to make a very thorough examination of Jampa's nose. It was still just a nosebleed, but there was also more to it that he didn't know. Norbu spoke up then and said they might want to turn around. Norbu had picked up the body and was standing next to the shadowland. Liric made for the stairs. He told Jampa as far as he could tell it was just a nosebleed, even if it was caused by someone using essence in some strange way, so just keep some pressure on it for a while and it should stop. He tried very hard to ignore the sounds coming from the basement.
     Just then Oro showed up and told them the hooded executioners had descriptions of Jampa and her entourage and were going to be there soon looking for them. He had to repeat it twice before Liric realized they were not looking for him for a change. About that time a carriage came rolling into the street. Liric quickly asked Oro if he knew of any shadowlands in Nexus or the undercity besides the new one in the basement. Oro said he did not. Liric thanked him and got in the carriage and headed for home. He tried not to feel guilty about being happy he wasn't wanted for questioning for a change, and was satisfied to know there probably wasn't any weird abyssal manse the Emissary had taken him to, since the only way into the underworld in Nexus was a tiny 6-inch circle.
     Liric tried to rest that night since he had a lot of plans for the next day, but he kept waking up from nightmares where everything was dark and there were awful wet ripping and crunching sounds and every surface was coated in something dark and damp and sticky.

sean
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Re: Liric Meranti

Postby sean » Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:51 am

Session 017.pdf
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11/28/2015 – Session 17 – 24, Ascending Wood – Medical Complications
     The next day, Liric received word that a baby had been left at the medical clinic. It belonged to
Valasa, the woman the mosaic condition he had tried to treat before. He reasoned that under the
circumstances the infant would need long-term care somewhere – Valasa was likely in very bad shape
somewhere in the undercity, if she was still alive. He wondered if the Duskholme defenders maybe had
nannies... so we went to see Dorian after leaving a message for Sund. After he heard, Dorian offered to
help investigate. He got a carriage and took Liric and Harrick to the clinic midmorning. Harrick was a
god, the god of opium's healing properties, that had come into Dorian's employ while he had been in
Great Forks. Liric wondered if Dorian really just wanted some time away from wedding preparations.
     Shortly after arriving at the clinic a kid came crashing in. He seemed to be very familiar with
the place. He said his name was Ahmar. Dr. Diya did not give him her usual suspicious treatment.
Ahmar also recognized Liric as the guy with Unipug, but didn't seem to notice Unipug himself, who
was dematerialized. Dorian had to show off a bit and made some comment in Unipug's general
direction (Liric wasn't sure if he was using Spirit Sight or just acting) and Ahmar immediately picked
up on it and began pestering Dorian about how he could see spirits and if he could change into an
animal.
     Ahmar had a lot of street smarts and also seemed intelligent and perceptive – much moreso
than his age would suggest. He belonged to Dr. Diya. He seemed to be sort of an adopted son, thought
she had actually bought him. Ahmar said that Dr. Diya had originally been from Thorns, and that
maybe she had another kid there, but then came to Nexus and acquired Ahmar. Liric didn't inquire
further. He had never heard any of this from Dr. Diya (not that he had actually asked a lot...) and
thought maybe it was something she preferred to keep private. At any rate, Ahmar insisted on coming
with them.
     The company eventually found Valasa in a bad neighborhood in the under-city. She was
unconscious in an ally, and a baby … or something vaguely resembling a baby... seemed to be
manifesting out of her head when she was seen with spirit sight. However, the baby took control of her
body, said something that sounded like “Kithera,” and led them on a chase. They lost track of her in
the under-city, but Liric realized she was on an indirect path toward the Tomb of Singing Blades, like
the mosaic child he had seen before. They intercepted her on the streets before she could reach it.
Dorian tried to restrain her, but the infant was able to make some kind of spiritual attack on him, and
he was seriously injured before Liric could grab a tablecloth from a nearby cafe and wrap her up in it
to restrain her.
     They headed back toward Dorian's residence. It took about one and a half hours for Liric to
completely heal Dorian, but all the while he was much more worried about Nerium's reaction to all of
this. He was also wondering where they could keep Valasa. Dorian didn't think she could be kept
around mortals and suggested she stay confined downstairs for the time being. About that time Fandris
came by for a fitting. Dorian went upstairs to see him and Liric went to the clinic to pick up the baby
and take Ahmar back.
     Sund was waiting at the clinic when Liric got there. He let Dr. Diya know that they had found
Valasa but that she wan't doing that well. He went back to the Duskholme estate and met Nerium
coming up from the area the woman was. She was in some distress. She said she thought there might
be something demonic – or partially demonic – about the baby in the woman.
Liric treated her and the baby appeared to be sleeping afterward. He recounted the days events
to both Sund and Harrick. Both gods examined the woman, but neither could offer much insight. Sund
said that foreign tissue was growing and that was causing symptoms but also that there was no reason
it should be growing. When Liric asked her about the name Kithera, she became a little uncomfortable.
Sund's predecessor was a god that worked closely with Kithera before the Usurpation but was now an
artifact. Kithera was said to be burried in the tomb of singing blades and was generally thought of as
an unpleasant guy.
     By that time it was very late. Liric thanked everyone for the various help they had offered and
tried to get some sleep, but he kept waking up when tiny arms reached out from the shadows toward
him and disembodied voices whispered “Kithera” out of the darkness.
     The next day Liric was exhausted. He was able to spend a little time with Nerium and get some
help with the best-man speech he was working on for the wedding. He also chatted a bit with Dr. Diya
about the wedding and invited her to come. However, she also wanted to see Valasa since she was
originally her patient. Liric explained the condition as best he could. There could be some interesting
complications with letting Dr. Diya examine her, and she'd probably be asking questions about how
Liric was able to make the diagnosis in the first place. He'd worry about that later. He spent the rest of
the day looking at a mostly-blank page of paper with some notes for a speech and nodding off.
However, he never really seemed to rest. That night was not really any different. He didn't have
nightmares for a change, but his sleep was fitful and restless, and he woke up the morning of rehearsals
for the wedding more exhausted than ever.


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