Anstice: It is truly surprising how effective boring your guards to sleep can be with long recitations of how innocent you are. In this case, it covered up the chanting and faint ruddy glow of the impartation of elemental essence to one of the few things in his prison room/priest's cell, the bowl.
Anstice: A few minutes after he's caught his breath, he tosses the thinly shredded strips of cloth into it and covers his face as the magic begins to work, billows of smoke rising out and beginning to fill the room. He pounds on the door, calling out about a fire and then steps away, pressing himself into the corner and preparing his charms.
With the physical prowess of a man three times his size, Anstice ducks through the smoke-blinded and Essence-bound priests and into the hallway. A husky acolyte rushes right past him, hardly noticing the Exalt as he single-mindedly focuses on the fire and the bellowing men in the prisoner's suite.
Not having familiarized himself with this particular temple before being captured by Ahlat himself, Anstice isn't exactly sure which way to go. But as he moves through the torch-lit hallways he smells male sweat and hears the sounds of bare feet on stone and the animal noises of men struggling to push the edge of their physical limits. Flickering shadows ahead play out a wrestling match in an expansive gymnasium, open to the sky above.
The open ceiling is set high. It would take a great deal of talent indeed to simply leap into the sky. But Ahlat's vanity may prove a vital asset; massive sculptures of the Bull God reach almost to the open ceiling so that the sun illuminates them and casts the best light upon them at all times. Where the shadows of the 25 statues meet, two of the youngest priests Anstice has yet seen wrestle with each other in the form that offers most veneration to their deity.
Ahlat Priest: Stranding in a clear position of some authority is a middle aged man, wearing only a loincloth himself and with the sweat of a man who has been active at work in this gymnasium. His hair is growing a little grey though, but the amulets around his neck and the respect others show him must mean he still is a great man in their eyes.
Ahlat Priest: Another youth quickly moves up and out of the small crowd to engage the other boy in wrestling. The older priest talks quietly to them, again ensuring they know the rules and asking Ahlat to watch over this battle, as these two men fight for his glory. Not long after the two are at each other, grunting and shifting for position in the dirt circle.
Ahlat Priest: Suddenly the priest lifts a hand sharply and the gymnasium falls quiet and all turn to look where he looks, watching this stranger climb a statue in the sudden deafening silence.
Ahlat Priest: "I suggest more respect from you and a fast and quick explanation or everyone here will be getting to test their Javelin skills very soon." There is no humor in the priests voice as he watches you climb.
Anstice: "You don't believe me? Unfortunate. I happen to be surveying this place for geomantic purposes, as a student of thaumaturgy in these lands. I do admit I should have been more respectful, considering I'm not sure if I was awarded permission yet..." He pauses, and hangs his head. "Oh, well. Easier to ask forgiveness than get permission, right?"
Ahlat Priest: "Its easier to ask. Though harder to get. Now get down from there immediately. What is your name? Who is your teacher?"
Currently Anstice is clinging to the statue's buttocks, halfway from freedom. There are a number of javelins, shot-put balls and other bits of athletic equipment in the gymnasium that could easily do great bodily harm to a single unarmed man clinging to a statue.
Anstice: "Might I get your name before I drop all that way?"
Anstice: "It seems only fitting that I give my explanation in less of an embarrassing manner."
Ahlat Priest: "I am Broken Stone boy, and you are wearing my patience thin."
Anstice: "Well, Broken Stone Boy, I'm going to keep climbing and think up an explanation. You'll get it when I'm done, and you can deliver it to my teacher, Arianna."
Ahlat Priest: For a moment, which no doubt Anstice will use for every second its worth the crowd is somewhat confused looking. Then it dawns on them, someone is trying to scale the face of the statue of their god and with a great shout they grab for their weapons to kill the sinner, for only blood can wash away this insult.
With a clatter and a few thunks the javelins hurled by the priests below stab into the wall and statue. None hit Anstice himself, though one comes very near his leg. Two are firmly fixed in the stone, providing further steps up towards the roof.
Ahlat Priest: The priest, Broken Stone, looks furious and he grabs a great medicine ball and starts to spin. Muscles snap out like corded steel as he whirls, is this what Anstice feared? That he was something more then he seemed?! Yes, he is! he is smart and the ball is flung, smashing into a great gong which echoes through the temple, a signal to the other priests and guards that there is an intruder!
Anstice: "Thank you, sirs! I'll be sure to call a blessing upon your houses when I learn how." He plants a foot on the nearest of the javelins and tests how firmly it's stuck. Suddenly, he springs from it to the next, the javelin shattering from the deep flex it's subjected to and rained splinters down the statue. Another leap, and another great crack, and Anstice is sailing up into the sky, silhouetted against the clouds as he hangs onto the broken javelin.
Anstan: "Events are under complete control, Anstice. This is not your business."
Anstice: "You're mostly me. How is something involving you NOT my business, hrm?"
Anstan: "There are people that look far more similar then we. No matter your appearance, you are troublesome to Ahlat and I have been sent to deal with you. You will not disrupt my marriage."
Anstice: "Who says I want to do that? I want to disrupt your engagement."
Anstice: "I don't trust Ahlat, considering that this was set in motion while I was unable to respond. Mendhari has been with me these last few months, and until I know WHY Ahlat is pulling strings to marry her off, I'm going to keep fucking with you. Oh, and probably her, too."
Anstan: "Mendhari will marry me and once she becomes accustomed to it, she will enjoy our marriage far more then any pale shadow of me she may have tasted in the past."
Anstice: "So now you're admitting that you're me? Maybe I should insult you some more, it seems to bring my natural wit out from under the suffocating folds of muscle."
Anstice: "What's in this marriage for you, anyway, beyond a rather stunning woman with a host of personal problems you're ill-equipped to deal with? I'd like to see you rawrgh-smash a Deathlord."
Anstan: "I will become the Tri'Kahn and Ahlat will achieve his goals through me. What those entail is none of your business."
Anstice: "They're damn well my business, you utter MORON. They became my business the minute Ahlat decided he wasn't going to give any warning whatsoever to the woman he wants married off. They became my business when he whacked me over the head, when he sent the goon squad to prevent me doing my celestially appointed duty."
Anstan: "Ahlat has heard that your celestial duty has been suspended." the muscular priest sneers at Anstice, for the first time looking very different indeed.
Anstice: "I suppose you'll be kissing Ahlat's ass a long time before you get to see that happen though."
Anstan: The High Priest snarls and races after the slighter version of himself, easily catching Anstice and barreling at him hoping to drive the smaller man to the rooftop and pin him.
Anstice: "Oh, please. With a wedding on the way, do you really want me eye-gouging, groin-kicking, and biting your ear off?"
Anstice: "Certain terms, a way other than complete unconsciousness to settle things."
Anstan: "What terms? I will beat you regardless."
Anstice: "I already lose at first blood." He sucks on his knuckle. "Pinfall, thrown off the roof, or submission, in a variant on the rules I saw back there. I'm keeping the stick, though, and I assume you're keeping that distractingly bloated body of yours."
Anstice: "As if you're not using any of your own."
Anstan: Despite taking two light scores across the chest as Anstice takes advantage of slight defensive openings provided by the hail of attacks, the High Priest delivers a devastating blow. Four attacks are deflected, but the fifth lands solidly against Anstice's chest and the shock sends him to his knees.
Anstan: "I believe that concludes our duel, Anstice."
Anstice: "Bastard. New and improved me... Can I at least know what to call you when I send Mendhari the message where she's hiding to avoid you?"
Anstan: "You've been told my name."
Anstice: "I was? I'd have sworn it was mine with accent..."
Anstan: Grey-green eyes narrow and his, your, voice tightens. "Do you insist I pin you properly, or will you abide by the agreement you made without the need for the embarrassment?"
Anstice: "Oh, I will abide by the agreement, Anstan. I yield this fight on behalf of Mendhari. But, as Ahlat knows, she's missing. She's very good at hiding, and she left because of this very reason, Anstan. If you want her to accept you, you'll have to handle her yourself, and prove that you're worth her breaking her word to me. That's not going to happen without honoring Mendhari's wishes, Anstan.
Anstice: But if you're willing to let me actually handle that, and bring her to you, I give my word of honor that you'll be meeting her within the season."
Anstan: "I will let you leave here and go where you will if you agree to return within that same season and engage in a contest. When you loose, you must give up your claim to Mendhari."
Anstice: "Agreed. Who chooses the contest?"
Anstan: "A neutral party we will both agree on."
Anstice: "Mmmm... I am cynical. I think the agreeing on a neutral party will be more difficult than the contest. But yes, I can agree to that. Might I stipulate it be a public contest? To satisfy the tri-kahna, and the future tri-kahna."
Anstice: "I'd prefer to talk to her. Ahlat is a big name in the South, after all."
Anstice: "Mhrm. It'll be late in the season, admittedly. I have to speak with my companions, see how their fight progresses.
Anstice: "Mind letting your paralysis go?"
Anstan: "Your body will recover in a few minutes." Without further attention to the smaller man, the newest High Priest of Ahlat drops down the skylight and into the Gymnasium to inform the other priests of the rooftop battle and its results.