Sorrow Resplendent – City of the Free

An Exalted 2nd Edition Campaign Chronicle

The Circle from Sorrow Resplendent. From left to right – Demiato, Night Locust, Koh (Kalara), Chaos Divide, and Xesa.

This 2e Exalted campaign ran from 2014 – 2016 and inspired the creation of many of the characters on this site. Featuring grand adventures in city-building and epic Solar feats!

Introduction:  Five newly Exalted Solars find themselves as refugees cast from their homelands, hunted and alone.  Their journeys intertwine at Dinas Ryhdd, a city of escaped slaves teetering on the edge of destruction as surrounding forces press in on all sides.  Can they band together to save the city and fulfill their new purpose?  What is their connection to the ancient ruins beneath the city?


The Player Characters | The NPCs


The Story So Far (Season 1 Recap)

Episode 1 – The Silver Pact Cometh

Episode 2 – Obligatory Hot Springs Special!

Episode 3 – The Meeting of Nations

Episode 4 – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Episode 5 – The Bathhouse Between Worlds

Episode 6 – Temple of the First Pulse

Epilogue – The Last Mortal String (Short Story)


Cathak Demiato – THE DAWN CASTE – Played by Jenn

A former Realm soldier who Exalted when she refused to take immoral orders to slaughter a village, much to the disappointment of the Cathaks, whom she had always had tensions with. Demiato has broken ties with her dynast family in hopes of forging her own destiny and to atone for her past sins as a soldier. She finds herself in the city of Dinas Rhydd seeking no more than a passing night’s refuge, eventually finding herself embroiled in the destinies of the people around her and the innocents of the city in need of protection.

Chaos Divide – THE ZENITH CASTE – Played by Clint

A kind and gentle giant, Chaos was orphaned at a young age by raids and taken in by the Immaculate Order monk, Ten Winds. He Exalted while facing insurmountable odds against a Fey invasion. Chaos arrives in Dinas Rhydd during his wanderings across the countryside in search of Fey and in search of any who might enjoy his homemade baked goods.

Darimena Xesa – THE TWILIGHT CASTE – Played by Kelly

A fortune teller and sorceress who found herself hunted by the Wyld Hunt before she even knew she was meant to be an Exalted. She outsmarted her hunters and escaped to freedom. Xesa also arrives in Dinas Rydd with her impressive wagons full of books seeking the promise of asylum.

Koh the Silver-Tongued Devil (aka. Kalara Vadras) – THE ECLIPSE CASTE – Played by Angela

Emancipated from slavery in her teens and inducted into the Guild, Kalara tried to bring anti-slavery business practices to the organization alongside her abolitionist father. The Guild didn’t take kindly to their reforms, however. She was framed for her father’s murder and sentenced to execution by crucifixion. The unearthly awe that surrounded her Exaltation on the cross allowed her to escape to freedom. In disguise as a man named Koh, she arrives in Dinas Rydd leading a caravan of escaped slaves and seeking a place to house the headquarters of her new mercantile organization – The Pristine Guild.

Night Locust – THE NIGHT CASTE – Played by Kevin

A teenage assassin who Exalted when he was ordered to shed his humanity and kill his best friend, fellow assassin Arc of Silence. Night Locust killed their master, instead, and the two escaped to pursue their own destinies as free men. Night and Arc arrive in Dinas Rhydd in Koh’s caravan seeking asylum and a new start.

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Arc of Silence – The younger of the assassin duo of Arc and Night Locust. He and Night serve as bodyguards and captain of security for Koh’s Pristine Guild. Despite his young age and prankster nature, he enjoys inspiring the local children with his feats of ninjutsu.

Bara – An Exalted of Mercury, this Sidereal first greets the Circle as a member of the Bronze Faction. He begrudgingly aids with intel, ever suspicious of these new, powerful Solars.

Cathak Teraja– Air Aspect and Cousin of Demiato, he came into the city alongside Xesa, leaving behind a life of hedonism in the Realm. He has proven himself to be a capable leader in the fledgling city’s government.

Leshuna of the Silver Pact – This batlike Lunar once terrorized the paths outside of the city until she was confronted by the Circle. Intrigued by their unexpected behavior as Solars, she exists in a curious alliance with them.

Orpheus – This Pale Dragon came to Dinas Rhydd seeking a place tolerant of his study of necromancy and his Ghost-blooded nature. He aids the Circle with his wisdom and library of sorcerous knowledge from time to time. (Yes, he is inspired by Dr. Orpheus from Venture Bros.)

Peridot – This Alchemical being was discovered in a state of suspended animation inside of one of the city’s manses. An unknown preternatural event tore her from the realm of Autochthon, after which she was treated like a lab rat by the ancient Solars. Now, she’s found these new Solars to be much more tolerable of her freedom and that the city is full of new interesting foods to try! (Yup, she is inspired by Peridot of Steven Universe!)

Ten Winds – Once a drunkard and not so shining example for the Immaculate Order, this 400-year-old Air Aspect and mentor of Chaos has relocated to Dinas Rydd, where he teaches a brand new interpretation of the Immaculate Order which does not condemn Solars, outright. (Yes, he is inspired by Ten Winds of the Keychain of Creation).

Voice of the Orichalcum Forge – Once a renowned master craftsman and Scavenger Lord in Lookshy, Forge was ousted by his competitors and accused of crimes. He has settled in well to Dinas Rhydd taking pleasure in helping to excavate and rebuild the ruins there.

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THE STORY SO FAR…(From Season 1)

In a barren stretch of land in the East lies Dinas Rhydd, a city built over the ruins of a previous age of splendor. It sits atop a land scarred by an ancient war, too barren to farm and too weathered by roaming Fey and Barbarians to be viable for any serious development by neighboring countries. Only desperate fugitive slaves chose to make it a home, their city beginning as a gathering of rickety shacks and a flicker of ambition. Hoping for a new future and to expand their city, the founders promised forgiveness of past crimes and asylum to all who dared to settle in their fledgling city.

This promise of a new start drew many, including the newly awakened golden warriors of the Circle. None of these newly Exalted beings would know upon their first arrival that they were the inheritors of the soul shards of the Solars who had once ruled the ruins slumbering beneath the city. The Solars would find out soon enough, however, as the ruins beneath the town were gradually unearthed, signaling the start of a new era! Each Solar faced the trials of the manse that once belonged to the ancient Solars who had come before them. They would learn of the ancient war where weapons of mass destruction were brought to bear against the city’s high-tech defenses, burying the city under death and ash. These destructive forces were led by Desus, once a friend of the ancient Solar Circle who was somehow turned to madness and evil, the mad Solar murdering more than a couple members of the ancient Circle during the battle for the city.

Each successive manse the Circle unearthed presented a unique challenge, testing the limits of each fledgling Solar until they could claim their ‘inheritance’ – ancient weapons wielded by their forebearers. They also discovered and repaired I AM, the central intelligence of the manse who had been fractured into different personalities during the prior invasion of the complex.

Dinas Rhydd was not free of invasion even in the modern age. The Guild and the Realm sent their own respective forces against the city, only to be repelled by the burgeoning power of the Circle, who only grew more effective as a team the more they were forced to work together. They emerged victorious battle after battle, their presence helping the city to grow stronger and rise up slowly, but surely, from its bleak roots.

New unusual allies would make themselves known, such as the Jadeborn, lost servants of the original Solars who had made a home beneath the city ruins. The Circle gained their trust and promised to remove the curse of the Unconquered Sun as part of redefining their legacy as Solar Exalted.

Even a Lunar with territory nearby who had been attacking local caravans formed a respectful alliance with these new Solars, finding their synergy with the town and its people intriguing and positive. The master monk who served as Chaos’ childhood mentor also relocated to the town, where he preaches a new, more Solar-tolerant form of the Immaculate Order’s teachings, his opinions swayed by the benevolent actions of the Circle.

All of this comes to the surprise of a Sidereal named Bara, a Chosen of Mercury who had been sent to provide the Circle with assistance, while also spying on them for the Bronze Faction at the same time. Even Bara was eventually won over by their heartfelt, but often naive, hopes for justice and peace. The Circle showed true bravery when they banded together with neighboring nations to fend off a barbarian invasion secretly led by a manipulative Fey lord, an action that gained them trust and allies in their region of the East.

However, the Circle’s ultimate test came when they awoke one day to find the city under mental attack by a terrifying force under the leadership of Walker in Darkness. I AM had been hacked while the Circle slept, the power of the northern manse use to fill the minds of the city’s inhabitants with dark dreams the Circle could barely resist, themselves. The Deathlord had been watching the town and planning his invasion ever since the manses had begun to reactivate. Under the cover of subterranean tunnels, The Deathlord had been converting the northern manse into a shadow realm using soulsteel spires and dark magicks. The Circle made short work of Walker’s Death Knights, but the Deathlord, himself, proved to be a far greater foe!

Walker in Darkness offered them amnesty as his servants, only to find himself under attack from the fearless Circle before they would hear any more of his poison words. The Solars fought a hard battle, nearly running out of essence as Walker toyed with them and prepared to crucify the city’s heroes using the manse’s projection capabilities. He would show off his victory to the entire town and the surrounding area. Instead, the overconfident Deathlord’s defeat at the hands of the Circle was broadcast across the land! After this fateful battle, Bara would disappear at the behest of Chejop Kejak, as would all memory of the Sidereal after a time. Only Xesa was quick enough to write down a record of him before memory of the Sidereal disappeared from her mind and those of her companions.

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EPISODE 1 – The Silver Pact Cometh

In which the Circle decides what to do with the Lunar thief and awaits the arrival of the Lunar delegation from the Silver Pact with equal parts dread and anticipation!

After the Walker in Darkness’ failed invasion, the Circle’s renown grew, placing Dinas Rhydd firmly on the map as a power in the East not to be ignored! The success of the city and the expanding influence of the Pristine Guild headquartered in its market district drew the eye of a trade god, who offered his blessing and influence to the city during a long-awaited auction hosted by Koh’s Pristine Guild for Xesa’s fabulously crafted jewelry.

The auction drew interested parties as far away as the Blessed Isle and Lookshy, creating a political battleground masked by the colorful festivities of the city. Murder, intrigue, and unexpected alliances plagued the auction day, ending in an unlikely alliance between Dinas Rhydd and the Black Rose, Tepet Ejava. Before the divinely hewn jewelry could be placed in her ownership, however, a small spider hiding in the jewelry’s box morphed into a young Lunar!

The Lunar led the Circle on a merry, but short chase, the hapless wildling finding himself overwhelmed by the Circle’s staggering might. They took pity on him, however, when they found that he was nothing more than a feral, uneducated young man who had been drawn to the shiny quality of Xesa’s necklace like a magpie. The young Lunar took a shine to Xesa as well and presented the Circle with a problem. What do they do with a no-caste Lunar who could endanger himself and innocent lives?

After the hullabaloo of the auction, our fair city returns to a state of normalcy (aka. returning to day to day business and waiting for the next disaster or weird thing to show up). Businesses are bustling after the success of the auction and the various temple, housing, and commerce districts have started to regain some of their former glory. Meanwhile, Forge and the Jadeborn continue work on the transit system and city infrastructure.

That leaves the Circle with just one more challenge to face – bringing the casteless and feral Lunar, Kisk, up to speed on his years of education (and basic hygiene)! Xesa and Koh take him under their wings, taking turns to help him understand the use of clothing and hygiene and of learning about civilization, morality, and literacy. He’s eventually convinced of the benefit of clothing by the reasoning that it means wearing new shiny things every day, which Xesa wastes no time in creating him a fabulously crafted wardrobe with embroidered animal motifs.

While Xesa weaves her wonders, Koh brings Kisk up to speed on the basic tenants of social interaction with others, language training, and literacy with the mystical prowess of a legendary scholar (and the aid of meat pie and pastry bribes to keep his attention). Koh and Xesa try to understand the link between a Lunar and a Solar, but the intricacies of why Kisk implicitly trusts Xesa remained a mystery to everyone, beyond a general thought that Sun and Moon just naturally go together in the grand divine scheme of things.

By the appointed time of the arrival of the Silver Pact, Kisk has been shined up like a new jade piece, sporting beaded braids, a splendid wardrobe, and complete sentences! Koh finds the transformation odd and slightly uncomfortable now that his pupil has turned from a feral imbecile to a dapper Lunar (Kisk’s appearance rating is 4, making him officially the highest appearance rating out of everyone in the party). Xesa and Koh try to reassure him that the coming of the Pact will be good for him and that they won’t let any harm befall him.

The day of the Pact’s slated arrival finally comes, but instead of an entourage, Demiato and the city guard spot a lone painted Yeddim lumbering up the path to the city. The Yeddim finally speaks when he gets close to the gate, much to the guards’ relief. The Silver Pact has arrived! The party converges to greet them and the Lunar reveals himself to be a giant of a man named Dorgan, while a white snake crawls from his hair, revealing herself as Maraga, both representing warrior and diplomat types, respectively.

Maraga looks especially strange, as she doesn’t appear to walk, but floats, as a snake body hides beneath her white cloak. Introductions were cool and standoffish, much as they were when the party first met Leshuna. Even so, they allowed the Circle to give them a tour of the city before getting down to business. The Lunars seem at least vaguely curious about the city, much as Leshuna was upon her first arrival.

When they’re finally ready to get down to business at a private location set aside for their parlay, Kisk is sent ahead while the Lunars discuss his fate and Lunar culture with the party. Mutations are to be destroyed before they can harm others. Their minds become too filled with hateful instincts if left unchecked. Kisk is to be tested and found satisfactorily untainted…or be destroyed! Xesa offers a solution involving a Solar charm that can remove Wyld mutations, but Maraga seems hesitant to commit. All decisions will be up to The Clawspeaker upon her arrival.

Maraga eventually enters the room to begin her evaluation, leaving the Circle in the company of her intimidating traveling companion. Night excuses himself under the pretense of checking on city watch things, but in actuality, sneaks off to spy on the evaluation, which Koh would have sent him to do anyways. Xesa protests this action on the mind link, but Koh explains that they have a right to make sure their promises that no harm would come to Kisk are kept and that the Lunars must earn the right to be trusted first. There are no guarantees he might not be harmed during the course of the evaluation.

Night re-broadcasts the audio of the evaluation onto the mind link, showing the poor lad being grilled with pointed psychological questions by Maraga. In the end, she emerges from the room to declare him as ‘acceptable’, save for the very slight mutation of his eyes that glow silver in the night. Shortly after, IAM sends an alert that another Lunar has arrived, this Lunar being a magnitude 9 in essence!

This can only be the Clawspeaker, who has taken it upon herself to sore into the city without waiting on a welcome. Night is told to withdraw before her arrival, as this is a case where even Koh realizes bending the rules could be catastrophic if Night is discovered by a more perceptive Lunar. At the very least, the most immediate danger to Kisk had also passed.

With IAM’s holographic guidance, the Clawspeaker arrives, radiant and owlike. She is Lilith, a Lunar who is much older than her younger colleagues in attendance, who immediately rise and bow, signaling the Circle to do the same. Lilith is brusk, eyeballing all of the Solars with barely masked contempt. To his complete surprise, Night receives a telepathic message from Lilith saying she spotted the sly little worm in the room, but she’ll let it slide just this once, leaving Night thoroughly intimidated.

While the Circle waits on her to evaluate Kisk further, a curious Koh continues to press Maraga and Dorgan for more about Lunars and the Clawspeaker. It seems Lilith had visited the city before, but things get tense when an aside comment from the Lunars about how the Circle would be fine as long as they didn’t know a man named Swan leads to the mention of Desus’ name. While most of the Circle said they didn’t know him, Xesa shares aloud that they had heard the name mentioned because Swan is the name of the mortal man who holds the soul shard of Desus. As soon as Desus’ name is spoken, a loud crash interrupts them and Lilith emerges from the room, quietly seething. Apparently, her tapping fingers had destroyed the table as soon as she heard the name, leaving a terrified and confused Kisk looking to the Circle for reassurance.

Thankfully, Lilith’s reaction to Desus had nothing to do with Kisk’s final evaluation and he is deemed worthy to receive the Moonsilver tattoos! Lilith requests the Circle lead her to the temple of Luna where the ceremony can be performed. Most of the Circle, even the highly curious Koh, leave her to her silence. And yet, along the way, upon taking in the sights of the city, Lilith asks the Circle their thoughts about the previous Solars who ruled here, to which most of the Circle responds that they are either indifferent or dislike their previous incarnations. Koh finally sums it up that they were ‘assholes’ and that the character of the previous Solars can be marked most effectively by a particular atrocity – the enslavement of the Jadeborn. He goes on to say that their new Circle’s character can be marked by the deed of freeing them.

This seemingly simple statement stops Lilith in her tracks and she immediately flies away in owl form to speak to a nearby Jadeborn, side-eyeing the Circle the entire time as the Jadeborn, who had been working on the transit system, confirms that they are no longer burned by the sun and that what Koh had said is true. It was also revealed to Lilith by the Circle that they were planning to complete the Jadeborn’s freeing from their curse by calling together the Deliberative to remove their final geas, which spurred a genuine laugh from Lilith.

When asked how they would handle the Abyssals, Koh responded that they had taken down Walker and would not hesitate to do so again if threatened by those who endangered Creation and wasted the potential that fate had chosen them for. Lilith’s statements confirmed that the Abyssals were, as the Circle had suspected, the same as Solars at one point, though the Death Knights were not the same as their Lords, according to Lilith. It was Koh’s opinion, when asked, that the Abyssals had lost their place in the Deliberative once their intent became to harm Creation.

And yet, even with the Circle’s charms to understand intent, Lilith hid any surprise she might have had and continued on towards the temple. The procession of Solars and Lunars continued again in awkward silence until Lilith posed one more question to Koh – What did he think of Desus? Koh took a more diplomatic approach and responded that such a topic was a long discussion, implying that they should speak about it later at more length once they got to know each other better, but this approach spurred an unexpected response.

Koh found himself alone in a dark room, sprawled on the floor, bleeding and beaten with broken ribs. At first, he thought perhaps this was somehow the near death memories of Calymm, his soul shard’s owner, being projected into his mind, but that didn’t match up because Calymm’s throat had been crushed. Finally, he realized he was experiencing Lilith’s memories of a time where she had been beaten to near death and that, somehow, despite the horror of this experience, her assailant had been her Solar mate, Desus, who had cruelly made her believe that he was right in his abuse of her. Before the mind link was broken, Lilith shared the sentiment that this kind of horror had happened countless times and that the deaths of all of the Solars in the past were worth it for the fact it meant Desus’ death too.

Needless to say, Koh did not speak again until spoken to.

Finally, the procession arrives at the temple of Luna, where a magnificent silver statue on the altar changed every time anyone glimpsed it. This fact seemed to please Lilith, who stated that the statue’s everchanging nature meant that the temple had been built properly. Surprisingly, the Circle was allowed to watch the ceremony, all of them watching in awe as Lilith began chanting in a language none of them had ever heard over Kisk’s prone body on the altar. She produced a dagger, creating paths in his skin, which her companion, Maraga, filled with moonsilver as the blade passed. His initiation was completed as the sigils glowed and his Lunar caste was revealed in moonlight and silver. With that, Kisk phased into a crow and flew away, finally free to travel Creation and beyond untainted and unphased by the Wyld!

After the ceremony, Lilith approached the speechless Circle with one final evaluation. She stated that she still believed this city deserved to be pulled down and destroyed, stone by stone, and that the good deeds of a few Solars could not erase the evils that had been committed in the past. However, she would wait and see…and if the Deliberative would truly be called, the Silver Pact would attend. She also revealed that it was Leshuna who had spoken so highly of the Circle’s deeds before her arrival for the ceremony.

Before Lilith took her leave, Koh bid her to grant one final request – that he or a delegate of their choosing be allowed to come and learn about the Lunars so that they would not repeat the mistakes of the past due to the Circle’s ignorance of them. Lilith seem amused that any Solar would sit at the feet of a Lunar to learn and asked every member of the Circle if they felt the same way, to which all replied in agreement. Lilith would let the Circle come and learn once they weren’t so busy with the laughable concept of trying to fix the mistakes of past Solars.

And so, the Lunars took their leave, new diplomatic connections were forged, and the city was left standing! All in all, the Circle agreed that this event went pretty well, considering the dark days of Abyssal invasion and warring factions that were barely behind them.

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Episode 2 – Obligatory Hot Springs Special!

In which our Solar Circle visits a completely normal and unsuspicious hot springs before their next important business trip. Enjoy the Obligatory Hot Springs Episode (and probably one of my fave game sessions of this season)!

After much toil by Forge and the Jadeborn, the day arrives that the manse repairs have been fully completed! The walls come to life with a loud hum, after which even the manse’s own essence cannons capable of sheering rocks in half cannot pierce them. The manse’s invulnerability is assured, unless, of course, one has a First Age weapon of mass destruction that might be able to crack it, such as the ones that pierced the wall during the Circle’s previous incarnations.

With the final repairs complete, the hidden library finally becomes accessible. The Circle reports to their manse thrones to be teleported into it, where they meet Araki Denlai, Twilight Caste of the ancient Solar Circle,…or what’s left of her. The AI intelligence of the library was created in Araki Dunlai’s final moments of uploading herself into the machine, an act which caused her body’s final death.

The AI seems distressed after learning how badly the deliberative has failed after being connected to the outside manse. The Circle encounters the body of Denlai in stasis and plan to ask Ten Winds to give her a proper burial to send off her Po peacefully. Kalara worries in private with Xesa that the AI seems a little…off, but they would wait and see if she showed any other signs of being dangerous.

After preparations are made for Denlai’s body, the Circle is left to explore the manse. Even Chaos could not jump the height of it, as invisible walls keep one from doing so. Night finds plenty of resources on the creation and theory of Soulsteel, while Kalara eagerly searches for materials on Righteous Devil and other obscure histories. Demiato is led to the Genzosha armor that was left previously by an intruder. Forge is tasked with making the armor usable again for the squad leader, Wilkins, whose awakened essence allows him to control the exosuit without needing life-shortening alterations.

Kalara, meanwhile, secretly asks the library about any kind of adventure and erotic sections, her guilty pleasure reading. Surprisingly, there happen to be books written about the previous Solars in both sections. Such books will make for amusing dirt to use against Calymm, her Soul Shard’s owner, whom Kalara enjoys trolling in the Underworld after their first encounter where the Solar’s spirit threatened to kill her if she wasn’t up to his standards for his ‘inheritence’. Unfortunately, one must read any book in the library aloud for proper record-keeping purposes, which makes further explorations on such scandalous topics left to more private visits.

The Circle comes to a consensus via vote to reprogram the northern manse’s mind-reading ability to disable unnatural mental influence, giving any in the manse’s range the ability to know that they’re being targeted by it so that they can choose to allow the influence or have it blocked.

Things seem quiet as the days count down to the Marita council. Xesa crafts a wall plaque for Kisk of such wondrous quality as to make the gods jealous. She also crafts for Avarice an outfit for herself and her bear so that she has a change of clothes with underworld motifs, along with a wall hanging. The depictions of the underworld seem to bring the captive Abyssal a kind of peace, so much so that even Avarice thanks her for the gift. Kalara, meanwhile, pays regular visits to Crown of Thorns, their other captive Death Knight from Walker’s invasion, who continues to be evasive about his past self. His resonance spikes every now and again, but he seems otherwise unphased by her prodding.

Finally, the Circle departs a few days early before the meeting to accompany Kalara on a visit to a hot springs she’s been planning for a long time. After the constant wars, attacks, and mishaps, the Eclipse insists such a visit will be good for everyone’s well-being and morale (especially her own). The trip also counts as the enchanted event for her Servant Rewarding Benevolence, to bless them all with good luck for Marita. The Circle travels in style in a boat summoned by Xesa in the form of a giant glowing lotus. Chaos is left behind to help monitor Avarice, who is kept under control by being allowed to take out her lethal aggression on the bandits who attack the town.

Along the way, the Circle stops by one of the many trade posts Kalara had formed before she settled in Dinas Rhydd. The landscape of the town has changed completely now that the river has changed course. Although it seems to be more abundant with fish and trade, local attitude seems resistant to the change, which Kalara hopes will pass as the years go by. While in a local shop, she notices one of her Pristine Guild merchants overcharging for his items and calls him out for his treachery by revealing her position as Guild Master. He begs forgiveness while Night intimidates him with a harmless threat that the shadows will get him. The merchant gets off with a warning and afterwards rumors spread that the Guild Master of the Pristine Guild is traveling the countryside with the terrifying ‘Nightstalker’, who will kill or terrorize all dishonest merchants who disobey the Pristine Guild’s edicts. Kalara decides a little fear can be useful and lets the rumor lie, at least until the next board meeting.

Kalara is ecstatic that they make it to the hot springs without incident, though the place seems freshly built with new wood and was the only one she could find in the area that was along the way to Marita. Her hopes for no incidents are seemingly dashed when river bandits emerge in canoes upstream to rob them. Night and Demiato argue over who gets to fight them, while Kalara ignores the fight and goes to check the Circle in at the front desk. Xesa watches on, amused. The bumbling bandits (who actually botched their join battle roll) are no match and find themselves intimidated into recruitment in Dinas Rhydd by the merciful blade of Demiato. Night uses lightning speed to taunt them all way back to their boat and make sure they’re sent on their way to Dinas Rhydd.

The hot springs seem like a normal hot springs resort staffed by demure women in kimono with traditional shrouds over their faces. Kalara wastes no time getting everyone settled into the men and women’s baths where she and Taraja both heap alcohol on everyone. Demiato, upon seeing a nude Kalara, spends a few minutes blushing for no apparent reason (Jenn botched her ladyboner roll…again lol). Kalara is too tipsy to notice and she, Demiato, and Xesa all realize they’re terrible at small talk. Another female guest, an older woman, gets them on the topic of scars and war stories and how wonderful the new hot springs is. Folks who come to the baths find themselves relieved of old ailments and their old scars miraculously healed!

Meanwhile, Night and Taraja get pretty drunk and can be heard singing even on the women’s side of the springs. Night sneaks off to climb the wall and eavesdrop on the ladies, but decides they’re pretty boring. He doesn’t have time to consider doing anything else when he finds himself confronted by a floating crystal eyeball. It watches him and he watches it until one of the shrouded female hot springs attendants taps him on the shoulder and politely informs him that such behavior is against the rules and that he should return to the men’s pool. Night scoffs at being discovered and walks his way back down the wall to the pool, wondering what the heck that eyeball thing was.

Eventually, Kalara gets that moment of comradery she was hoping for when she asks Demiato and Xesa if they could have ever predicted they would be where they were now 5 years ago. Demiato states she thought she would be dead, to which Kalara chides her somewhat for being cynical. Demiato takes some offense, but Kalara eventually explains that she could relate, having thought she, herself, would have still been a slave, but has found herself the head of a guild instead. Demiato actually compliments her for having done great things, to which Kalara replies that Demiato has as well, hoping that the commander would value her own worth a little more.

However, the moment is interrupted by another shrouded attendent who summons Demiato for her scheduled massage. The commander is wary of dropping her guard for anyone, but the attendants seem to have an aura of calm. She randomly observes that two of the attendants sound the exact same, but is too lost in the exceptional quality of the massage and the pleasant aroma in the room to act on that suspicion. Even more suspicious, under the shroud, she notices the attendant has purple skin and an inhuman look, but (Jenn failing her lore roll), seems to recall these kinds of servants aren’t usually harmful or unusual.

Meanwhile, an inebriated Kalara attempts to convince Xesa to go peep on the men with no success (Kelly kept making her Temperance rolls!). Donned in the traditional peeping attire of a towel on her head, Kalara scales the wall hoping to catch a little peek of at least Taraja…and instead comes face to face with the same strange crystal eyeball! Startled, she calls down to Xesa asking her what a ‘crystal eyeball thingie is’, Xesa reporting it’s a low level demon and probably nothing to worry about…probably. One of the attendants appears seemingly out of nowhere, informing Kalara to return to the women’s pool and that it’s time for her massage, now that Demiato had returned from hers.

While Demiato and Xesa try to figure out why there are purple attendants and first circle observation demons staffing the hot springs, a blissfully unaware Kalara has the best massage of her life. Little did Demiato or Kalara know that it wasn’t just a deep muscle massage, but the strange demonic attendants were actually using flesh weaving to detach, correct, and reattach their muscles! The attendant’s hands weren’t just massaging them, but dipping inside their flesh, unbeknownst to either of them.

Kalara emerges completely refreshed and gushes about the quality of the hot springs and how she’s thinking of investing in it. Xesa, suspicious of the demonic attendants, simply tells her that might not be a good idea, but doesn’t say way, much to Kalara’s chagrin.

The Circle is gathered to dinner, everyone growing more suspicious by the minute, except for Kalara who tries to remain hopeful. She surprises Night with a birthday treat of a delicious looking dessert with a candle, declaring the day a new birthday for him, as a birthday was the best gift she ever got from her own father. Xesa identifies the dessert as a strange delicacy from the underworld – a mashed up locust paste on a bun that tastes different and uniquely appealing to each person who eats it. It’s also known to cause insanity and addiction, if eaten too often. Kalara also makes friends with an old mercenary woman who’d been in the woman’s bath with them, the Eclipse never able to turn off her business mode, no matter the circumstance.

Finally, the Circle is called to a meeting with the ‘Mistress’, whom they had been promised an audience with. Night’s essence sight can see the energy bonds leading from each demonic attendant to the room where they’re headed, but there’s no way to tell of the nature of the summoner. They’re led to a dark room lit with candles where the mysterious purveyor of the inn beckons them. They can see that she’s a woman with long hair and a loose-fitting kimono smoking a pipe. Kalara cordially introduces the party and thanks their hostess for a wonderful visit, even though all are on edge about dealing with a possible threat.

Upon hearing Kalara’s introduction, the hostess perks at the name ‘Vadras’, reminiscing to herself about how she knew an Ahrun Vadras once when she was an amateur businesswoman and how she remembers a little girl she healed years ago. She introduces herself as Nadara, a name Kalara had heard rumors of as a traveling doctor and businesswoman who was known to heal people…for a price. And sometimes for no price at all.

Upon recognizing the innkeeper as the same woman who saved her life years ago, Kalara bows deeply, apologizing for any rudeness and thanking her for saving her life. Nadara reveals herself as a Twilight caste, dismissing such formality. She promises that the inn is in keeping with Ahrun’s principles and that the Circle can interview the staff as she sees fit. The Neomah were summoned and bound to her in mutual agreement that they could take scars and tumors from her patients for their purposes, while Nadara has built a thriving new business, thanks to the Circle’s rerouting of the river, which created the perfect spot for a hot springs resort. She also thanks the Circle for dispatching the bandits, for if they had met her wrath, there would be new bodies to dispose of.

The Circle seems pleased with Nadara’s openness, while Nadara seems impressed with their feats and agrees to attend the meeting of the new deliberative they have planned in the future. Another ally joins the new deliberative! Night spends the rest of the time partying with Taraja on his new ‘birthday’, while the rest of the Circle breathes a sigh of relief. Kalara also decides to let the Neomah take the scar of her slave brand and hopes that bit of flesh will end up as part of something better than what it represented for her.

With their hot springs interlude over without incident, the Circle finally proceeds on to Marita, where representatives from nations all over the threshold are arriving in fashion. Demiato heralds their arrival by posing atop the mast in her power armor, colors high and cloak flailing in a wind created by Taraja. Kalara, meanwhile, has donned a disguise as a bodyguard, so as to cast off any suspicion for her upcoming plans to make a big entrance at Marita.

The other nations, even those ruled by Deathlords, gather in a fanfare of glittering ships, opulence, and slaves. The biggest entrance is made by the Fey, who appear on the horizon as a great lumbering beast. As it nears, the beast dissembles into smaller creatures, the Fey lord atop the mass calling loudly to all that they should appreciate his magnificence. The Circle is not impressed, and rather thankful that Chaos had to stay back for business, else there’d be a fight on their hands almost immediately.

The players have assembled and the grand meeting of nations is about to begin!

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Episode 3 – The Meeting of Nations

In which our heroic Circle of Solars endures their first experience in heavy politics…and nobody dies!

The meeting of nations has begun in Marita! The Circle is given their own living quarters where Koh prepares for the events he has planned for tomorrow. He takes the evening to study the major players using Charms to build a profile of the powers at play. The Circle arrives the next day to the assembly hall, primed and ready to make their names known!

Koh has finally dropped his disguise and arrives as the Pristine Guild’s founder, Kalara Vadras, decked out in gold finery crafted by Xesa’s genius! Koh had been planning a big entrance to reveal his true identity as Kalara Vadras at this event, but was disappointed to find no formal caller announcing their entrance into the hall. Most people, in fact, seemed to be treating this political event as a boring duty that never gets anything done.

This doesn’t stop Kalara from making an entrance, regardless! She struts into the assembly, arm and arm with her bodyguard, the Circle’s Night Caste disguised as her male persona Koh in a ruse to confuse her enemies. The two cast such an aura of beauty and charisma, with the help of Teraja’s Air Aspect abilities, that they turn every head in the room, even the attending Fey Lord’s! Teraja and Demiato make their own entrance by announcing themselves loudly as Cathaks, entering Teraja’s nomination for house speaker, much to the chagrin of their enemies in the Realm.

Meanwhile, Chaos Divide learns of the Fey presence at Marita and travels there with the alchemical, Peridot, in tow. He barrels into the hall, ready to punch Fey and forcing the Circle to desperately attempt to talk him down to avoid a diplomatic incident. The strange Fey lord, Shining Radiance in Darkness, welcomes the Zenith, hoping for a hug of greeting, but the holy aura of the Zenith’s hearthstone keeps him at a distance.

The Fey lord had once been defeated by Chaos in battle and had apparently found his way back to Creation, his attitude allegedly changed from his previous aggressive stance towards Creation. Chaos is highly skeptical, however, and finally decides to back down. He will hold the Circle accountable, however, should this Fey end up hurting anyone during his stay. Peridot, meanwhile, enjoys trying every kind of food from the local street vendors, while getting gasps from the citizens, who have never seen an alchemical before.

Despite the tense scene of near-violence between Chaos and the Fey lord, nobody in the meeting seems to notice much. Fights are breaking out all around as the assembly deadlocks in choosing a speaker. To the Circle’s surprise, even a Solar in the crowd goes totemic, gaining their attention. Nobody makes any move to arrest him, however, much to the Circle’s relief. Anathema weren’t entirely unwelcome, or were at the very least tolerated, for good or ill. Kalara makes a note to talk to the Solar later to get a sense of him as an ally and to introduce him to their new Deliberative.

Fortunately, the deadlock is broken as Demiato and Kalara move throughout the assembly, reminding past allies who had joined them in the defense of the region against barbarians that the city-state of Dinas Ryhdd would be a fair and impartial speaker. Hostilities cease as Teraja is finally voted in as speaker. The Air Aspect is a natural and uses his social and magical proclivities to silence those who are out of order, while also keeping the meeting going at a brisk pace.

The Circle learns of a new Haltan delegation which publicly denounces the Realm in their governing body, causing Demiato to worry for her mother, Viper of the Storm Ward Forests, who is the Haltan connection via marriage to the Cathaks. War and rebellion seem immanent and Demiato makes a note to send a message of warning to her mother of the new aggressive Haltan policy.

Another diplomatic incident nearly occurs when Demiato’s father, Cathak Sestin, accuses Dinas Rhydd of harboring heretics and vile Anathema who have interfered with his ability to perform his duty to defend the Confederation of Rivers. The accusation causes Demiato to go totemic as she passionately defends the morality of her actions and reveals Sestin’s unjust orders to kill innocents that led to her Exaltation as a Solar.

Kalara also dismantles his defense, calling to light the approval of Anathema in their city by the new, more tolerant branch of the Immaculate Order that has made its base in the city and naming Sestin’s prior attack on the city a violent act taken against innocent civilians defending their home and freedom. Teraja subtly deflects Sestin’s anger by dampening his voice with air manipulation. The meeting barely keeps from devolving into open violence.

Next on the agenda, the Fey Lord charms everyone with a passionate speech about his wishes for peace and how they all might make their dreams come true together! Nearly all but Chaos and Kalara are affected by his persuasive presence and mystical aura. Kalara briefly dismantles his mental effect on the crowd and demands reparations, to which the Fey replies with a smile, re-asserting his effect over the crowd with ease, but still promising he will deliver his plan for reparations by the end of the meeting.

Next, the Guild announces their withdrawal from the near East, blaming the Pristine Guild’s ‘barbaric’ practices and asserting that important goods will be scarce because of their interference. However, the rep, who Kalara recognizes as an old classmate, seems to know he’s defeated before he even speaks. Kalara comments with a diplomatic statement about how she wishes for future negotiations between their organizations for the good of all and assures the assembly that the Pristine Guild is happy to bring much needed supplies in the Guild’s absence.

The meeting is adjourned for a two day break and the Circle retreats to their quarters. Demiato’s mother arrives after being warned via a message sent by sorcery. After realizing the disguised Koh was a decoy Night Locust in disguise, Viper re-familiarizes herself with Kalara, once again subtly probing her about romantic relations with her daughter. The Eclipse fails at first to recognize the suggestion of a romance, being too focused on her own business aspirations.

Once the realization hits, however, Kalara acknowledges the attraction, but claims they’re too busy currently to explore such things. She also deflects the issue, citing her own wish not to disappoint Demiato, showing doubts in herself as a worthy prospective partner. Before they can talk more about the topic, however, Kalara quickly excuses herself with her decoy Koh, eager to move on to networking with the other assembly guests before any more uncomfortable topics come up.

Afterwards, Demiato and her mother talk about the political division happening in Halta, while Chaos hears the Fey calling out his own magnificence through the streets. Shining Radiance in Darkness parades through the streets on a vehicle forged of living arms, delighting in the attention of his onlookers. He once again tries to greet Chaos and make peace with him and is, once again, greeted by the burning banishment of the Zenith’s holy aura. Xesa tries to have a sensible discussion with the Fey about whether he is friend or foe and ends up confusing him with her logical questions about his nature and intent.

They learn from the Fey that he claims they can feed on dreams without taking too much from their hosts, but that he still has much to learn about humanity, who he finds fascinating, confusing, and beautiful all at once. The discussion ends, however, after Chaos destroys his vehicle by moving too close to him. Xesa’s barrage of logical questions also ward him off just as effectively. It remains to be seen if the Fey lord will be a friend or foe!

Meanwhile, Koh and Kalara move through the festivities, making their way to where the Guild representative, Donavan, is drowning his sorrows at a bar with his companions from Nexus. Kalara plays the part of an old classmate and friend, describing how she was dealing with legal matters until she could publicly lead her guild. Meanwhile, Night has fun acting as her bodyguard, playing the part of Koh, ex-bandit and Merchant Prince.

Much to Kalara’s chagrin, Night adds some off-script flirtacious flourishes implying a romantic relationship between the two. Kalara plays along, however, hiding a verbal chiding behind a more painful than romantic ear nibble, while trying to keep things natural and inconspicuous. Mostly, their odd behavior just makes Donavan believe they’re into some kinky stuff.

Kalara wastes no time in making Donavon an offer, telling him to bring a message to the Guild that she’s interested in negotiation for the best future of their organization, as well as offering him a ‘safe’ position in the Pristine Guild. The merchant uses a monocle to see if she’s utilizing any unnatural spells or abilities on him and is satisfied to find that she’s not. Rumor had it she was utilizing Yozi in her contracts, which amuses the Eclipse.

Donavan needs time to consider her offer, to which Kalara is happy to give him time, as well as offer funds to help bribe his pursuers, should he have to escape the Guild through more intense means. Donavan also divulges the Guild’s intent to move their operations northwards into the crystal reaches, which Kalara notes as something to investigate later.

By the end of their negotiations, Night steals from the merchant not once, but twice, making the merchant’s bodyguard look like an idiot and living up to Koh’s bandit name better than Kalara ever did, much to her amusement. On the way out, the fake Koh showers Kalara with affectionate nicknames, Kalara hiding her annoyance behind a ‘loving’ punch to his butt. Donavan and the rest of his entourage watch on, pondering what kind of secret bondage dungeon Kalara must have hidden in her holdings.

By the end of the night, all seems well, but for a message that arrives via sorcery for Xesa. Unaffiliated mercenaries have been found trying to penetrate Dinas Rhydd’s defenses while they’ve been away, but have so far been unsuccessful. The Circle’s forces at home claim to have it under control, but they make sure to send back orders for recon, regardless. Perhaps their neighborhood ninja, Arc of Silence, who was left in charge of Pristine Guild security in the city, can retrieve information on the unknown forces that the city guard could not?

The Circle survives another day, having made a powerful impression on neighboring nations, as well as enduring their first bout with regional politics!

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Episode 4 – Something Wicked This Way Comes

In which our band of Solars learn that ancient murderous rituals are only the beginning of the pesky problems to be dealt with at the meeting of nations!

The first night of the meeting of nations went well! The Circle of Solars impresses everyone they meet, encouraging old allies and meeting new potential ones. The next day, the Circle separates in order to cover more ground with the factions they’re familiar with.

Chaos is called to a meeting with a group of representatives from neighboring nations to discuss the new branch of the Immaculate faith that has taken root in Dinas Rhydd. Servants and representatives greet him warmly, offering him tea while they wait for the remaining representative to arrive. All seems well, until one of the diplomats starts speaking strangely. Seemingly all at once, blood seeps from the mouths of each representative, all of them dying on the spot! Chaos tosses away his tea at the realization of poison.

Panicked, Chaos rushes to find the missing representative and stumbles upon a disturbing scene in the basement…

The missing diplomat had been killed by his servant, who then turns the knife on his own guts! With the servant’s death, the summoning rites are sealed and an unknown evil crawls its way from Malfeas into Creation. Chaos attempts to speak to the unknown horror, but it only regards him for as long as it must, the Zenith dressed in a robe which requires the consideration of any who speak while dressed in the raiment. Chaos chides the demon for its bad behavior, the demon brushing him off with a word that his target lay elsewhere.

He is the Emperor’s Waiting Sepulcher, a Third Circle demon whose only goal is to target those who maintain the power of civilization!  During Chaos’ attempts to stop the demon, the building catches flame.   The Zenith carefully removes as many of the victims from the burning ruins as he can, only to be greeted upon his exit with the spears of the city guards at his neck!

Being a patient Solar, Chaos surrenders to the guards after bending their spears with little effort and allowing himself to be led him away to a holding cell where he hopes to explain himself further. He politely informs the captain of the guard that they need to let his traveling associates know what’s going on if they have any chance of containing a dangerous situation that the soldiers of the city will not be able to handle on their own.

Sure enough, news of a part of the city being ablaze and rumor of a panic in the district of Chaos’ meeting travels fast. Night and Kalara arrive after a brief stop to let Kalara slip back into her gunslinging Koh persona so she can continue the charade of Kalara being a mere businesswoman.  Koh heads for the lockup where he’s heard Chaos has been taken into custody, while Night’s sorcerous sight allows him to track the demon. Demiato arrives at the prison as well, everyone in a panic as word of the situation spreads.

Wasting no time, Koh uses words charged with essence to immediately declare the innocence of their companion and command him to be freed so that he may aid in handling the emergency situation. At the same time, Demiato marches past the stunned guards and lifts the cell doors off the hinges in a show of authority and strength, everyone too scared of her fearsome reputation to move against her. Every mortal in that room does exactly what she and Koh say without question, the entire building too intimidated or awed to lift a finger!

The Circle scrambles desperately to decipher the meaning of the entity’s words. Does it mean to target the visiting rulers? Will it target the attending Solars? Koh and Xesa try to rally the city’s sorcerous defenses and alert the visiting dignitaries while Demiato and Chaos race to aid Night Locust, who has chosen the dangerous path of trailing the entity on his own!

During the rest of the Circle’s adventures in ‘negotiating’ bail, Night Locust follows behind the demon, watching in horror and fascination as the invisible entity only he could see lumbers towards the outskirts of the city. Any living thing it walked through instantly began to wither and die. Thankfully, only vegetation seemed to be suffering in the creature’s path. It spoke up only once to warn the Night Caste that if he ventured closer, he would ignore him no longer.

Being the cheeky fellow that he is, Night stays on him, drawing the creature to attack with a beam of destruction that cuts a swath past Night and for miles into the countryside! Thankfully, the Solar dodges it, his instincts telling him the beam of foul energy would have destroyed him if he hadn’t been able to evade it.

Wasting no time, Night Locust launches himself at the demon, the assassin shifting into nonexistence in his counterattack and reappearing at the creature’s back, his scythe’s energy blade at its neck! The creature barely has time to respond before Night channels all of his remaining essence into two more overwhelming attacks, slicing deep into the creature as he runs across its immense body, launching off of its chest and twirling into a slash that beheads the demon in one fell swoop!  Night’s final blow imbued with his ghost-eating technique assures that the demon had been destroyed utterly…or so he thought.

Just as Night’s victory begins to sink in, his essence entirely spent, the rest of the Circle arrives in a strange blink of reality. Despite being blocks away, each Solar had found themselves transported as if they were closer than they remembered being. They embrace Night, Koh promising him drinks and a raise as he and Demiato support him by each arm. Xesa rattles him even more with a hug.

But how did any of them get there so fast? The mystery of the reality-bending glitch in Creation is solved by the appearance of a man with the glowing symbol of Mercury, the Maiden of Journeys, shining on his forehead. It was Bara, their old friend!

…except none of them could remember him thanks to the Sidereal aura of forgetfulness. All but Xesa had forgotten him,  the Twilight being thoughtful enough to write down an account of Bara after she first noticed others had begun forgetting him upon his abrupt departure.

The afternoon ends with an addled city guard showing up to a crater of steaming corrupted essence and the supposed diplomatic delegation of Dinas Rhydd having a lot of explaining (and sleep) to do!

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Episode 5 – The Bathhouse Between Worlds

In which the Circle celebrates a momentary victory that was never meant to last…in style!  Sidereals really know how to party!

After the mad dash that left a Third Circle demon defeated in one blow, the Circle sets about helping the townsfolk clean up the destruction and chaos left in the demon’s path.

Chaos soothes the townsfolk, using his undeniable presence and a bit of visual illusion laced with essence to calm the people and convince them to go home where it’s safe, for the death of the creature had left a dangerous crater of bubbling corrupted essence that consumed anything that got close to it, even curious birds.

Using his knowledge of spiritual cleansing, Night Locust works with a Water Aspect to cleanse and calm the essence into a stable form. His act of heroism, alongside the helpful presence of the rest of the Circle, has convinced the local law enforcement, even the Dragonblooded among them, that these ‘Anathema’ might truly be there to help.

Somehow, during the purification process, the earth from within the crater combines with the remains of a bird into the essence of ‘sharp’, a bird that behaves and acts just like a bird, despite being made of diamond! The diamond bird takes refuge with Chaos Divide, who is the only one hardy enough to hold a being that cuts anything that tries to contain it, much to Kalara’s chagrin. A diamond bird would have been worth a lot of money to many or made a very impressive pet for her office! She requests to keep any feathers it might shed.

With calm returning to the town, the Circle finally takes a breath and heads to their appointment with the strange Sidereal they had met after the demon’s defeat. He had left them a magically imbued business card to negate the forgetfulness that would no doubt wipe him from their minds again in due time.

Along the way to the seedy part of town where the Sidereal had bade them to meet, Kalara notices that Demiato’s shoulder seems stiff as if she had been injured earlier during the commotion. Concerned, and more than a little surprised, Kalara asks what happened. Demiato, however, only admits to someone attempting to mug her earlier. Kalara doesn’t accept that as the full truth, but decides not to prod, leaving it at the thought of how brazen the muggers of Marita must be to try to assault THE General Demiato.

In truth, Demiato had been attacked by a member of the First Pulse while she had been out and about the town the day before. A skillful surprise attack that managed to surpass even the defense of her power armor had left her shoulder mildly injured. Her ‘welcome’ to the First Pulse ended with a sore shoulder and an invitation to their school as long as she came alone to their tournament and kept such things secret.

Finally, their journey through the seedy streets leads them to a rundown tavern. Right at home in the slums, Kalara slips into her Koh persona, playing on his fearsome and charismatic reputation as a Robin Hood figure to convince the owner of the establishment, a short, cranky Amabosar named Kowari, to welcome them in. Upon seeing Bara’s business card, Kowari immediately remembers the Sidereal as a regular customer and waves them inside.

Once inside, the doors shut behind them and the tavern opens up into another dimension filled with a wondrous bathhouse with every kind of room they could imagine! Kowari welcomes the Circle with drinks and keeps offering them ‘pleasant company’ to sate Koh’s rumored appetite for women, much to Kalara’s mild embarrassment in front of the rest of the Circle.

Finally, they find Bara in a private room in the bathhouse patiently awaiting their arrival. Despite not remembering much of him, the account of their alliance kept by Xesa convinces the Circle to take a chance at drinking the concoction Bara offers that might help them remember what they’ve forgotten about him…or possibly poison them.

Thankfully, the concoction works, letting the Circle remember all the trials and tribulations they’ve had alongside Bara, the invasion of Walker in Darkness, Bara coming to their defense by illegally leading an army through folding time and space, and their final meeting with him where Chejop Kejak dragged him away for disciplinary action.

Bara proudly displays a gold pin, announcing that he has changed factions from Bronze to Gold, which leaves the party to question what that actually means. He skirts around the detail that the Bronze faction destroys Solars who don’t tow the line, but proudly announces his opinion that the Circle has proven they can do a lot of good in this world and are not like their predecessors.

With their happy reunion settled, the Circle spends the rest of the night unwinding with Bara, who is more than happy to encourage a celebratory mood by summoning his friend White Feather, the Goddess of Intoxication, to help the Circle find an alcoholic beverage strong enough to get the Zenith, Chaos Divide, drunk, as he was just too damned hardy to ever feel the effects of alcohol like everyone else. The goddess is happy to oblige by providing Chaos with a drink that knocks even the towering Zenith for a loop, while also providing Kalara with an illegal drink and smoking herbs only available in Yu-shan that the Eclipse is more than happy to partake in, for she could never resist forbidden things and fine wines!

By the end of the night, Xesa is singing songs, Kalara is reading erotic books written by her former Soul Shard’s owner out loud to the Circle, and the rest of the Circle is pleasantly sloshed! Thankfully, nobody notes that in order for Kalara to have taken this erotic fiction from the secret library under their manse complex, she would have had to read it aloud to transcribe, as it was forbidden for anyone to physically remove books from the sanctum. Eventually, Night Locust disappears after a flirtatious Sylph courtesan, the drunk ninja encouraged by a grinning Kalara who always thought he needed to learn more ways to relax than meditation.

When the night finally winds down, Kalara finds herself alone with Demiato and decides that there’s no time like the present to find out why the Dawn Caste is always staring and blushing around her. She makes an embarrassingly strong and inebriated pass at the surprised commander, mincing no words that there’s no shame in acting on an attraction, whether there’s a serious relationship there or not.

Tongue-tied at first, Demiato politely withdraws, telling Kalara that she has no interest in one night stands and that she should come to her again when she’s sober. For once, the Eclipse Caste has nothing to say in response.

The members of the Circle either spend their night surprisingly alone, passed out in their rooms, or in the arms of a Sylph courtesan.

Meanwhile, Bara foots the bill on heaven’s dime. All in the name of a Sidereal day’s work!

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Episode 6 – Temple of the First Pulse

The season finale of our campaign’s season 2, in which the Circle learns the cause of all the ominous disturbances in Marita and the real danger that awaits them in the dark!

The next morning after the ‘day of rest’ for Marita’s famed meeting of nations, the Circle awakens, divinely hungover and full of regrets. Or at least one of them is. Kalara can barely look Demiato in the eye, Demiato pretending nothing at all happened, while the rest of the Circle emerges to the smell of coffee (or coffee and shot of whiskey). 

Still not sated by last night’s entertainment, Chaos Divide issues a challenge to all Valor-based courtesans to have more fun with him! Xesa fails a Temperance role and decides to take on the challenge and the two disappear into the privacy of a pocket dimension where they spend hours wearing each other out, considering the crazy amount of stamina the two of them have.

Meanwhile, Demiato discreetly makes her way to the location of the First Pulse’s invitation, an old temple converted into a gladiatorial ring, now a shrine of violence for their merciless art form. Unbeknownst to Demiato, Night and a disguised Kalara as Koh also find their way to the temple after having heard from the barkeep, Kowari, that there’s money to be made and entertainment to be had at a secret tournament. Kalara couldn’t resist a chance at gambling and Night the chance to study the martial arts of others.

Upon spying Demiato in the lineup, Koh cheers loudly for her, placing all bets on her to be the winner. The cheering draws a groan from the general, who’d rather not receive any more attention from the overly interested Eclipse. Much to Koh and Night’s chagrin, the front row seats next to them are also occupied by the delegates from Thorns, Abyssals like the ones who had invaded Dinas Ryhdd none too long ago. Koh and the delegate share verbal quips during the first fights, the Eclipse praising Demiato’s merciful efficiency, while the Abyssal lauds the brutality of the fights, taking much pleasure in the front row blood splatter zone (and a little taste when the opportunity provided itself with an errant shower of blood, much to Koh’s disgust).

Demiato tears her way through the competition until she meets one inauspicious opponent who can stand up to her, a man with the seeming of a monk. Instead of falling instantly to her skills, she finds herself under attack by moves she can barely follow with her eyes. Koh and Night strain to see how he could be landing hits, noticing with their quick eyes that her opponent is manifesting chitinous claws that strike like lightning! When Demiato finally has him on the verge of defeat, a rush of infernal green energy shoots from him, filling the arena with sands from the Underworld until he disappears into a portal of essence.

Demiato is announced the winner after verbally denouncing the abbot about his lack of security, Koh and Night joining her in the ring to help keep people away from the dangerous sands and to de-escalate the situation. Koh investigates the monk who had no previous infernal ties and discovers that he had been murdered and his form taken by another entity. Yet another suspicious incident in a string of suspicious incidents happening in Marita during their stay! 

Koh happily accepts a huge winning prize pot, offering it to Demiato to cheer up the foul mood of the whole affair, but the stoic general refuses, stating she doesn’t want her ‘silence’ money and that betting on a clearly superior opponent like her was akin to cheating, hinting that maybe the Eclipse’s advances were a little more disturbing to her than she had previously let on. Flustered and more than a little confused that someone wouldn’t be overjoyed with that much money, Koh keeps the winnings and makes a mental note that this ship has sailed.

After the Circle regroups in town, they stumble upon a strange sight in the marketplace, a magnificent green mechanical woman leaving a trail of bewildered citizens in her wake – their old Alchemical friend Peridot who had since disappeared to explore the city after dropping Chaos off! They catch her up on all the strange events and she provides a simple solution. She can track the energy of the dark magic that they are seeking!

Together with Peridot, several of the local dragonblooded guardsmen, and the rest of the Circle, they venture into the seedy back alleys once again to track the scent of this dark energy. With so many citizens startled by Peridot’s appearance, Kalara, now back in her female persona with Night posing as a decoy Koh, convinces the Alchemical to cover up with a cloak.  Flattery works wonders as Kalara compliments that it must be done, despite the coverings hiding ‘such fine craftsmanship’ (it’s at this point we discover she also has the highest Appearance rating out of anyone in the group, which we never knew until now. Imagine our surprise!).

The trail of dark magic leads the Circle to a row of shady market carts filled with illegal magical accouterments and abandoned buildings. The guardsmen stay behind to manage the crowd and guard the entrance while the Circle breaks into the wall of one of the buildings, Kalara pretending to be just a mere Guild leader and taking one of her darling Koh’s guns for protection so the guardsmen won’t get suspicious of her capabilities.

Thankfully, the guardsmen seem amicable towards letting the Circle do as they please, most of them not really wanting to deal with any more heinous magic like the demon from the previous day and knowing, if anything, that the Circle was better equipped (or at least more willing) to deal with this than they were.

The Circle descends deeper and deeper into a dark corridor hidden behind a secret wall, finding the remnants of blood sacrifices and remains as they move deeper into the old complex. Inscriptions hint at the presence of an old shrine and Yozi worship, their suspicions confirmed when the shadows open up on a ceremony of prostrate priests chanting in unison, the single figure of a girl sitting on a large hammer at the front of their tortured assembly. She reveals herself as Avleua, the keeper of the forge of night, a demon of the Second Circle.

The Circle cautiously questions her about her motives, which amuses her greatly, for they had made the mistake of thinking the Yozi sacrifices were meant to threaten their lives, when a much larger game was at play. The sacrifice of innocents and negligence of the people in the crossfire of the Yozi’s machinations, as well as the demon’s condescending attitude towards them, incenses Kalara, who threatens the demon with the fact that there are a growing number of Solars out there who will never let the Yozi return to harm the innocent, despite Xesa’s warnings that they should tread carefully threatening such a being.

Xesa and Chaos question Alvuea even further trying to understand the nature of the Yozi and why they simply cannot re-negotiate the terms of their imprisonment, but this only perturbs Alvuea further. Negotiation is not her function and if they truly want to talk, they should speak to Berengiere, the weaver of voices, who would delight in talking to them forever and ever. Not understanding her cruel joke, the Circle incapacitates her priests, causing her summoning to release and the demon to disappear back to whence she came.

When they relate this disturbing encounter to Bara later, the Sidereal goes pale at the implications. A Yozi invasion had not been foreseen! What started as a strange encounter ballooned into a cascade of disastrous revelations. If the Yozi were invading, then who would guard the Sword of Creation at the Imperial Manse in the Blessed Isle? With the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress in recent years, only the remnants of her fail-safes were in place.

The Circle try to understand this turn of events, discussing and strategizing into the night with a shaken Bara. With the meeting of New Deliberative about to take place in Dinas Rhydd, it seemed their city would not only become a haven for those seeking freedom, but the jumping off point for the assembly of a shining new force, should they want to survive the coming storm!

Bara plans to take his concerns to the celestial courts, the Sidereal still convinced that they were all going to end up ash in a box somewhere, and yet, he could not deny the fact he had seen this Circle do things he had thought impossible! Before he leaves, he gifts Kalara with a talisman she can use to contact him, should she need to, and the two come up with a secret code phrase he can tell them, should he be unable to speak the truth when they are together, for she was suspicious of what Bara’s colleagues were hiding and what danger he might be in even from his own home office.

With so many dark revelations, the Circle prepares for the worst that was yet to come, the final days of their time in Marita, and the formation of a new, shining Deliberative with them at the fore!

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2781 Words | Status: Completed

With so many existential threats happening to the Circle and the world, Kalara decides it is time to move on from the concerns of her ‘mortal’ life. One last string waits to be cut – the man who ordered the murder of her father and framed her, leading to her would-be execution.

Will she give in to the vengeance she has been dreaming about for years or find peace another way?

AO3 (Archive of Our Own) |

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