8 Descending Fire, RY 768
Outside Mishaka, in the lands of the Marukani alliance.
Birds-of-Trinity and Markuran have journeyed here to witness the Ride of Ten Spears, a yearly rite of passage amongst the Marukani youth, at the invitation of Tybal Nallan, a city elder. The ceremonial grounds lying several miles outside the city are decked out as per tradition, bearing numerous flags and banners bearing the images of Marukan's legendary steeds. Oddly, however, they seem to be empty -- quite unlike what the elder described in his letter of invitation.
No men or women can be seen anywhere upon the grounds, nor horses either; they appear to be utterly empty.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Where do you suppose everyone is?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Something must be up."
<Markuran> "What is this talk I hear that you are going to instigate a holy war upon the world?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I prefer to call it...a reformation."
<Markuran> "It will start wars. They all do. But what is it you desire? An Immaculate Faith with us at the top, as we should be? A restoration of the proper order?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "That would make us no better than the Immaculate Dragons."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I intend to restore the order of universal truth."
As the Exalts begin to journey towards the city, it becomes obvious that it is in something of an unusual state.
In a yard amidst the city, a large number of Marukani sit astride their horses, decorated in full wargear. What appears to be the beginnings of a supply train are being constructed nearby
<Markuran> "I'll help you bring this holy war of yours to the world, Birds. It needs doing."
<alsoquin> Many of the men look up, and point at the incoming Solars. One youth, standing on his own two feet, runs off, seemingly to fetch an elder.
One of the warriors turns to Markuran and states, in a gruff tone of voice, "The Marukani are going to war against Lookshy."
<Markuran> "Well that's stupid. Why?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What oath is this?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "And how do you intend to wage war against an empire of sorcerors and monsters?"
As Birds speaks, an elder arrives from behind the two Solars.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, Mnemon's stony heart. Are you completely serious?"
The elder nods gravely.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Alright then. Let's get suited up, Marku. These people are our friends, and I wish to aid them in battle."
<Markuran> "The Mask is using you. Why would you make such pacts with the dead? They can have no interest in your welfare. They are serving that which is the END of all things."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We need Zahara."
The elder looks ashamedly at the ground.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, you have made an oath that is not perfectly wise...but that does not mean you must go to war like lambs to the slaughter!"
<Markuran> "You and those who agreed to such pacts are fools and, were it not for your good will in the past, I would leave you to suffer your fool's fate."
The elder looks ashamed.
<Markuran> "From the Crostani and Jakobi?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "There is no reason that we cannot preserve Marukan's might and power...if we are far-seeing and quick-thinking."
<Markuran> "Have the Karala and the Chayans joined in this madness as well?"
As they speak, the others continue, grimly, to ready themselves for war.
<Markuran> "Tell me the terms of your oath."
Elder recites "The oath holds that if any party to the oath is attacked by a military force of any strength, all other parties are duty bound to aid them to the greatest of their abilities in any military actions taken in defense or offense against the attackers; the oath is held for one year and one day from the time it was forged."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Do you know the precise wording of said oath?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I would like to see it. As soon as humanly possible."
The elder hastily scribbles a note, and hands it to Birds.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "To the greatest of your abilities, eh?"
The elder shakes his head too. "It is true. Our folly has doomed us; where the proud Marukani once stood, only ashes will soon stand in our place."
The Exalts return to the Cascade. The others are nowhere obvious to be seen.
<Zahara> "What's wrong?"
<Markuran> "The Marukani are going to war against Lookshy. So is everyone except us, the Chayan and the Karala. The Mask and his allies have blackmailed them into a binding Oath."
<Zahara> "How did I know that was going to happen? Do you have the wording of the Oath?"
<Markuran> "Birds has it. It seems we have been surrounded."
<Cerin> "To war with Lookshy..." he shakes his head slowly
<Markuran> "I'm going to visit Karala and Chaya soon. To make sure any fools there are taken care of before they do harm."
<Zahara> "How do you plan to 'take care of them' Markuran?"
<Zahara> "I'm simply curious."
<Zahara> "I wouldn't want you to turn them against us with your barbarian charm."
<Zahara> "Oh, really? And what about the denizens of the Sea?"
<Markuran> "They just wanted to talk to you and your greater lipid mass."
<Zahara> "And the way you punch every messenger that looks at you the wrong way?"
<Zahara> "Well they couldn't stand your low reasoning."
<Markuran> "I only punched the soul-less fae-drone. And the one from Harborhead. But he only lost three teeth and he could ride home in three weeks without falling off his horse."
<Zahara> "That's because everyone ELSE is AFRAID to send us messengers!"
<Zahara> "because you and your morals turn them into paste!"
<Cerin> "If the legends of lookshy are true..." he considers "then they will not be a threat to us, nor anyone else, the marukani I mean"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Why do we let him talk to messengers, anyway? Zahara, you're the one who's good at talking."
<Markuran> "OH, they'll be wiped out and turned into ghosts to serve the Mask forever."
<Zahara> "You've named two messengers you've punched, now name one you've treated with courtesy, that wasn't already from our Nation?"
<Markuran> "That woman from Chaya. With the peach-colored hair and the dress made out of velvet-soft foxfur and the rosy tan.."
<Zahara> "Uh huh."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "So, the Mask is about to surround our Manse in a big, hollow shadowland full of his minions, anyway."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What were we going to do about that, again?"
<Zahara> "So at least run your lovely plans past the REST of us before you DO them."
<Markuran> "They haven't gotten the Chayans or the Karala. They still hold the eastern ways."
<Markuran> "Which is WHY, Zahara, they must continue to hold."
<Zahara> "If we defend them, we may end up legal prey to the Oath."
<Zahara> "The Mask can certainly read us attacking them when they are attacking others to be an aggressive, rather than defensive, move.
<Markuran> "And if they join us?"
<Markuran> "We can save their people, extend the rule of the Sunlands and bring the Faith Ecliptic to them."
<Zahara> "Then the Mask has reason to call us other than Allies, which we are tenuously at the moment. And before you go saying you'd rather be the Enemy, think about what that entails."
<Cerin> "It is worse than that. He can use them all up on the Lookshyians then use them against each other. There is nothing in that Oath that protects them from each other."
<Cerin> "To exempt them from the oath, they would have to be, as Marku says, no longer of the nations they are now."
<Markuran> "Indeed. We might be able to turn the Marukani against the rest and support them..."
<Markuran> "Or convince them to become Sunlanders without battle."
<Zahara> "Our best option would be to ally with Lookshy, actually. They are one of the greatest powers in the area."
<Zahara> "Don't think he won't turn them changing nations into including OUR nation in the oath. Especially if those who made it join us."
<Zahara> "Why exactly is that? They do not spread teh Immaculate heresy. They broke from the Realm and are its enemy."
<Markuran> "He can't change the words of the Oath, Zahara."
<Markuran> "It binds the nations, not the people. If they become our people, they are not bound."
<Zahara> "The Mask had a way of destroying all of the zombies the Walker had made... I wonder if there's a way for me to do that."
<Cerin> "They are named. If that nation became a single man, only he would be bound..."
<Markuran> "Well, before anything else happens, I will be visiting the Karala and the Chayan. They will not be tricked into this like the Marukani were."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "That seems wise."
<Zahara> "I at least shall come with you. For damage control."
<Cerin> "They can wait I think. Only fools would enter a military alliance when the other party is at war. I think we would be better served preserving the Marukani and the others"
<Zahara> "You'd better convert them all at once. Stealing an army won't be taken kindly, AND it will launch US into a war."
<Zahara> "Why exactly are we saving them from their foolishness?"
<Cerin> "because otherwise they will die. And the land to the north will be shadowland, under the Mask Of Winters control"
<Cerin> "We are saving /us/ from thier foolishness"
<Zahara> "So we cleanse the shadowland."
<Zahara> "Or we will fight all of them twice instead of once."
<Cerin> "No, if they are ours, they will not fight us, if they are his we will fight them all together, along with the Mask. The dead of the war with lookshy are his troops as surely as the survivors are"
<Zahara> "If they are ours, we throw ourselves into war immediately."
<Cerin> "The mask cannot ignore Lookshy though. If he does not meet them, things will not go well for him"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We could just hole up in Fire House until this little brawl sorts itself out."
<Zahara> "We must prepare for the backlash before we do. Besides, we have other enemies."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "The Cascade is nice and all, but the winters get awfully COLD..."
<Cerin> "We do not nessesarily have to invade, but to let them die will harm us more than the preparation time will gain us I feel"
<Zahara> "Wow. he IS muscular."
<Zahara> "Do you two..have some sort of... thing going on?"
<Zahara> "So.. about..that war."
<Markuran> "And if we do as Cerin and I think we should, we can convert some of the fools back to their senses and gain them too. If we fail, the attack comes sooner. That's all."
<Zahara> "I think we should pursue Chaya and Karala first, before we get into the war."
<Markuran> "As do I."
<Markuran> "So, let's just go there."
<Cerin> "Very well"
<Zahara> "I think we should leave Rannath and his Legions behind, in case someone comes our way."
<Zahara> "He can hold them off well enough on his own."
<Zahara> "And LAST time we all went somewhere, there was a break-in by that flower guy."
<Zahara> "We haven't completed our bargain with them yet, but perhaps in the future.."
<Markuran> "They are close to the Crosanti. We should build the Manse strong."
<Zahara> "It will be well-defended."
<Zahara> "Better than your pants..." she snickers.
<Zahara> "I was just impressed with how the rest of your muscles made you seem a little small in the middle."
<Cerin> "As you wish" he nods to Zahara
As the Exalts approach the Chayan city of Larjyn, already the strange scent of Chaya's unusual foliage begins to fill the air, even flying high above the land as the agatae do.
The trees which line the ground near the city are each covered in hundreds of brilliant red blossoms, with petals edging towards orange and yellow at their tips. The air is positively thick with the pollen of these trees -- enough to thicken the air at ground level.
Something about the smell is very... relaxing.
Even from a distance, it can be seen that Larjyn appears to be the scene of a great deal of activity. People move wildly in the streets, and crowds are assembled throughout the city.
<Markuran> "The Fire Trees are in bloom. The Chayans are running amok, as usual."
<Markuran> "Unless we wish to join them...huh.."
<Zahara> "Apparently the flowers of the Fire Trees have an effect much like getting drunk, but it only requires breathing."
In the city below, all matter of inappropriate activity can be observed; the fire trees inspire both love and war.
<Cerin> "That would be why I'm unaffected." he gestures to his suit "Can we make any progress with diplomacy with them like this?"
<Zahara> "You don't breathe?"
<Zahara> "Diplomacy at its finest" she comments.
The man attempts to run past Marku, still violently waving the branch
<Zahara> "I think we should come back during another season."
The woman seems remarkably interested in Marku all of a sudden.
<Zahara> "Actually... I'd love to see the effect enough of these flowers ahve on the battle in Lookshy."
<Zahara> "We could deliver it anonymously."
<Cerin> "How...hmmm...your demons would not do here I dont think..."
<Zahara> "I think they would be rather immune, yes."
<Cerin> "As collecters yes, but not as the delivery agent..."
<Cerin> "Do we want to effect lookshys forces too though..."
<Zahara> "I think we should concentrate on Mask's." she ponders for a moment, "Although affecting our potential allies will make them more likely to agree to Markuran's bellowing."
<Cerin> "That is true"
<Cerin> "This might well be where his God orginates from...the infinately blooming lilies..."
<Zahara> "We should speak with.. someone who looks like he might be a leader here. And then leave, quickly."
<Zahara> "Lai will probably get word of us being here if you are correct."
A large, ornate building with a red and gold marble facade seems like it might be a house of governance of some kind.
<Zahara> "Perhaps you can bring him up here, since you have those filters, which I lack."
Most of the building seems empty. There is one room, raised several steps above the others, that is clearly the primary office. In it, a rather obese man sits, thirteen sumptuous platters of food lying on the table and floor around him. Grease from a large shank of meat runs down his chin.
<Cerin> "You are the govenor of this place, correct?" he asks
The man burps loudly. "Most of the time, yeah." He takes another bite of meat. Through a full mouth, he says "What in Hell do you want?"
The man knocks over his plates and stands up, still filthy. "Well, in that case, I'm READY!" He strides -- no, waddles -- boldly out the door. He strides on thin air as Cerin carries him out.
The wasp struggles, but manages to raise the large gentleman up to Zahara's level. His eyes grow more lascivious the closer he gets to Zahara.
<Zahara> "Hello, sir. Are you the ruler of this land, and can you make binding decisions?"
<alsoquin> "Yeah, sure, lady! As much as anyone'll listen to me....."
<Zahara> "Good. Because if you and your country join the empire of the Sunlands, I'll show you a good time." She smiles back, licking her lips.
The man's jaw drops open a little.
<Zahara> "A REALLY good time."
<alsoquin> "I, ah... oh, the hell with it. It sounds like a good idea."
<alsoquin> "Excellent. Repeat after me. Chaya and all its people and lands are now under the jurisdiction of the Sunlands."
<alsoquin> "And neither I, nor Chaya, shall make any binding oaths to others, without Zahara Zhan's express consent."
A few small gods seem to be directing the elementals who tend the blossoms -- each bears the shape of three red flowers, each blossoming within another.
<Markuran> "ZAHARA! WHERE'S MY WASP?"
<Markuran> "Don't be disgusting. Where is it? And are you two ready to go?"
<Cerin> "How are we to collect the spores, this place is thronged with the gods"
<Cerin> "True enough"
<Zahara> "Besides, we should support our new allies. Especially if they're no longer allowed to export it to others." she smiles slightly.
<Markuran> "What did you convince them to do, Zahara?
<Zahara> "They are our subject nation now." she says airily.
<Markuran> "Good work. And what's this about flowers?"
<Zahara> "We're going to donate them to the war effort." she smiles.
<Markuran> "..that could be useful. Good idea, Zahara."
<Zahara> "Get off me." she says coldly. "This isn't funny."
The Exalted, red flowers in tow, begin to close in upon the pitched battle being fought between Lookshy and Mask of Winters' alliance. The Seventh Legion seems to be attempting to avoid needless casualties amongst the mortal warriors it faces, though that is harming their ability to actually fight the battle. As much as possible, they are striking against the zombies intermingled with the human warriors.
As the pollen begins to descend upon the battlefield, many of the combatants stop to look up, struck by the unusual scent.
<Markuran> "Men of Lookshy! Men of Marukan, of Melekin, Crostani and Jackobi! You have been lied to, betrayed. The Mask has bullied you into these oaths with his black lies. You were not alone, as he said. You have always had us to turn to and your neighbors turned only for fear of YOU! You need not fear each other! Do not fear us! Fear the one who lies to you, who binds you to his war!"
<Markuran> "When your blood stains the ground, your souls will serve him as your flesh does now! He cares nothing but that you serve him! Do so no longer! Become Sunlanders, join with us and leave your chains of darkness behind! FOREVER!"
As the warriors begin to drink in the scent of the pollen, their fighting begins to slow. Finally, some of them begin to drop their weapons -- many of them sit down, begin singing, lie down on the ground....
<Markuran> "Become Sunlanders and destroy the forces that would betray you!"
<Zahara> "Warriors of Lookshy, see that the armies of Death are your only true enemy here! Do not strike down those men who do not bear the banner of the Mask of Winters!"
Markuran's words echo over the battlefield, and as one the warriors of the alliance turn to look at his glowing form. Many of them throw down their banners and begin to prostrate themselves to the Solars hanging above the field. The Lookshy forces, hearing Zahara's words and seeing the unusual events upon the field, redouble their efforts to strike precisely at the zombies while leaving the living untouched. This has become much easier since the living have stopped fighting back.
<Zahara> "Mask of Winters! Leave this place in peace, you have no hold over these people, whom you used harshly and cruelly to serve your own interests! Go back to the Underworld, where you belong. You have earned the wrath of the Sunlanders""
Upon hearing the Solars' words, the newly converted Sunlanders begin to slowly stagger to their feet and charge the zombies
With the presence of the Solars, and the sudden conversion of the warriors upon the field, the battle's tide rapidly turns. Together, the forces destroy the zombies until no undead remain standing.
Tags: (:tags Faith Ecliptic, Marukani Plains, Mask of Winters, Thorns, Lookshy, Crostani, Jakobi, Chaya, Lai Misuna, Flowers:)