Session 15 (10/25) Recaps

Nexus has an Exalted infestation, and no one--not even the Exalted themselves--know who, how many, or why.
Armaghn
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Name: Armaghn
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Session 15 (10/25) Recaps

Postby Armaghn » Tue Oct 27, 2015 1:00 am

Dorian
After session 15: Stalking ghosts, going to cabaret shows, and hanging out with panda people
Dorian came back from the remains of Jampa's tea house. He had a couple of defenders watching the place at night to see if they could catch the people responsible for giving the ghost offerings. He figured it was the best way to get answers about who had been the guy that gave the ghost the idea to hold the doors shut while the building burned.

He was still a bit tired from the impromptu music concert at this house the night before. But Nexus Prism had been worth it and the rest of the bands got a lot of business from the Bastion Street dwellers. Alya should be very proud.

The first thing he did was go and make sure Nerium didn't need anything. Though she wasn't showing it yet, she was about 4 months pregnant. He had missed a good deal of he first 3 months and had no intention of missing any more. If she needed anything, he would be the one to get it for her. He was also making sure that the kids didn't stress her out to much. Not that they meant too, but a 3 and a 6 year old can wear a lot on a person. So he, Wilikins, and Xipil were keeping a close eye on them and making sure that the kids didn't wear Nerium out.

She really hadn't needed much so far, mostly cuddling and to be reassured that she wasn't any less wonderful in his mind. That last part was easy. He never even needed to say anything. She read his mind and that was all it took. She was his everything, and that fact that she could be carrying their daughter inside of her made her even more wonderful, if such a thing could be said.

They had been to a couple of cabaret shows every night for the last week. She now was feeding for 2 and her normal ways didn't seem to cut it. She still refused to feed on Dorian's desire, even though he had offered it as soon as he noticed that she wasn't eating enough. What was funny to Dorian was even though the shows they went to were supposed to be the most scandalous in Nexus, they didn't make him feel anything like the desire he had for his otherworldly wife. Whenever he would think that, she'd give him a kiss to make his brain melt. He was also going to look into buying distilled desire from the guild. He was pretty sure they could get their hands on it, if enough money was offered. Maybe that would get Nerium through the times she really didn't want to leave the house. Nerium had just looked at Dorian after he thought about this and then cuddled up to him in the box seat. She just held him without saying a word. She held him tight the rest of the show and on the way home as well.

Then there was the awkward dinner at Setsuna's place. He had to attend to keep up appearances. He was very certain the woman didn't like him and she made very little effort to cover up the fact. Nerium came, and her presence there made the dinner a something he didn't mind attending. In the carriage afterward she confirmed that Setsuna really didn't like him. REALLY didn't like him. REALLY REALLY didn't like him. Though since she knew Nerium could read minds it was probably not as bad as all that but merely a smokescreen. Nerium had smiled and kissed him saying, “ Don't worry, you're an acquired taste, my love.” Her smile turned wicked when he tried to figure out if that was a good or a bad thing.

The kids were adjusting well to the lifestyle change. Going from slavery to high society did take a bit of getting used to. Wilikins had told him that he had found that the two had been hiding food back in case the next meal didn't come. Dorian had said to take anything perishable out of the stash and replace it with non perishable goods. He didn't want them worrying about food and they would figure out that they really had nothing to worry about. They had been upset at the idea of bathes but that was fixed by the addition of bath toys and bubbles. Nerium's idea, she is a genius. Wilikins had asked about contacting the blanket fort god, Castrum Vestis. As that would keep the kids entertained and also give the god something to do. He wasn't a highly sought after god these days, not since the golden age of blanket forts during the high first age. Dorian would see if Nerium was feeling up to a prayer later. He was pretty sure that his prayer would fall short.

Then there was the new servants Nerium had picked up in Great Forks. Djala mostly. Though they had been freed and told they could get other jobs if they wished. All the djala had opted to stay on as servants and live on the the manor grounds. They liked the idea of a place guarded from slavers for a home. Dorian had also offered to send messages to families back home to let them know that their loved ones were ok and in Nexus. A few had taken him up on the offer. Most of the other ex-slaves had went off to seek employment elsewhere. So now a lot of the staff was of the short black and white variety which suited Dorian just fine. He knew that this would cause a bit of a buzz in Bastion society, but he was used to that.

Dorian thought about all this and sighed. All in all, things were going pretty well. He knew there would be issues that would pop up, but he was sure that he and Nerium would overcome them. Family was important to both Dorian and Nerium, and that plus their love for each other would see them through anything.

sean
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Re: Session 15 (10/25) Recaps

Postby sean » Thu Oct 29, 2015 12:52 am

LIRIC

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.


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