<ST`> The morning rolls in as a tide of fog that obscures vision badly. Iron Horse remains behind, feeling it unwise to leave his father at this point. Ruby Doe seems sad to see Anstice go and packs a lunch for the three Sidereals on their way to the pyramid, putting in an extra sweet for Anstice. Somehow, she forgot to give Mendhari one.

  • Mendhari glares at the extra sweet, then shoots a VENOMOUS look at Anstice.
  • Kinqueduran grins broadly through it all, very nearly humming a merry little tune.
  • Mendhari 's look says... "You slept with her, didn't you? I can kill you with my little finger."
  • Anstice pauses from where he was about to throw the victory sign up. "Did something bite you, Mendhari? You don't seem well."

<Mendhari> "I might ask if something bit YOU."

  • Kinqueduran stifles a laugh by coughing noisily.

<Anstice> "Not recently, no."

<Mendhari> "Good. Keep it that way. You can die from some bites."

<Mendhari> "And I've heard that some bites can cause looooong.... angonizing.... tormenting deaths."

  • Kinqueduran very nearly says something about how toxic Mendhari's bite must be, but SOMEHOW holds it in.

<Anstice> "I'll try to avoid poisonous things, yes."

<Anstice> "i do have plans for the near future, after all.

  • Kinqueduran coughs. "I'd hate to disrupt this adorable little scene, but let's focus, we have work to do."

<ST`> Iron Horse made a map that is included in the picnic basket, showing clearly the way to the haunted Temple where Deimos indicated you must all visit.

  • Mendhari pointedly ignores Kinqueduran, and focuses entirely on Anstice, the most vile and wicked methods of torture coming to mind.
  • Anstice nods, and pops the extra sweet into his mouth, either blissfully ignorant or too afraid to act scared.
  • Mendhari stares at him as he eats the extra sweet. Oh.... I hate that girl so much...
  • Kinqueduran grows annoyed, and grabs each of the others by the collar, dragging them along the path the map indicates.
  • Anstice sighs. "IN a hurry, are we K?"

<Kinqueduran> "Yes, actually. We are."

  • Mendhari tries to spin around and kick Kinqueduran.... or at least that's what it seems. She "accidentally" hits Anstice instead.

<ST`> Anstice remembers something very odd as Mendhari's heel impacts his temple..very odd indeed.

  • Kinqueduran shakes Mendhari soundly. "You straighten up! You're Exalted, not the daughter of some pathetic town mayor, now bloody act like it!"

<ST`> …in the battle with Besvanda the Waste Maker there was a single hero who lead his hordes of Dragon-Blooded against the demon fearlessly. Blazing bright as Sol Invictus, the Playwright lead a brilliant charge that will be forever remembered.

<ST`> Marionettes, Cart dolls, karakuri and others of his minions raced forward to battle the Hopping Puppeteers and spawn of Besvanda. The eemsayz and vess battled fiercly, but the Playwright overcame them all and won his way past the Copper Circle Demon Mishu to attack Besvanda herself.

<ST`> As his prophecy had foretold, he was victorious. The battle lasted for hours and cost many of his troops, but the Playwright himself was not wounded once. His techniques deserve detailed description….

<Mendhari> "Ow ow ow!" She sighs. "I'm a Princess of the Delzhan Empire, thank you very much!"

<ST`> at that point, Anstice had started skimming and can’t quite recall how Besvanda was destroyed.

<Kinqueduran> "A princess who acts like a jealous she-dog."

<Mendhari> ".... I... am not a jealous she-dog!"

<Kinqueduran> "I know you're not, that's why I'm encouraging you not to act like one. Do I still have to drag you, or can you straighten up and take care of business?"

  • Anstice rubs his temple. "We should be nice to this Solar. He defeated a yozi once."
  • Anstice blinks at the pair. "Did I miss something?"
  • Mendhari sighs. "Put me down, then."
  • Kinqueduran shrugs. "I think how we treat the Solar will be moot quite soon after we complete our mission." He looks at Mendhari, then decides to just trust her, and sets her down.

<Anstice> "Oh. A shame. He'd be useful."

  • Anstice rubs at his temple one more time, shaking his head. "Mysteries are the oddest things..."

<Kinqueduran> "I agree. But do -you- want to infuriate someone as insufferable as Deimos?"

<Anstice> "Yes."

<Anstice> "He'd forget eventually anyway."

<Kinqueduran> "....well, I do too, but that's another matter."

<Anstice> "In short order, I've pissed off all the maidens, two deathlords, and two yozis."

<Anstice> "What's a Dark Brother in all that?"

<Kinqueduran> "Well, my aim is to get Mars to at least stop hating me."

<Anstice> "I think we should make them all get along. At least Mendhari and I have excuses for the occasional petty bickering."

  • Anstice stretches, and slips easily out of K's grasp. "Now, we were walking?"

<Kinqueduran> "I wonder if a suffeciently nice dinner, followed by an evening of dancing would make Mars hate me less?"

<ST`> The Temple looms suddenly before you, a massive steppe pyramid of dark green-black stone.

  • Temple* looms ominously.
  • Kinqueduran dismisses that thought with a headshake, looking up at the pyramid. "I suppose this is it."

<Mendhari> "Great."

<Mendhari> "Why can't they ever be nice happy places?"

<Anstice> "Those are creepier."

<Kinqueduran> "Because nice, happy places don't exist."

<Anstice> "I was at a haunted carnival once."

<Anstice> "It's so much less disturbing when things are obviously out to kill you."

<Kinqueduran> "Mhm. I'm in favor of obvious foes."

<Mendhari> "I'm not."|

<Mendhari> "I just want them to die quickly."

  • Mendhari 's eyes go wide and she covers her mouth, stunned.

<Kinqueduran> "Now, to business. My information indicates that our foes are demons and ... Mendhari, are you alright?"

<Mendhari> "... I'... I meant to say get married and live a happy, happy, happy long life together."

<Kinqueduran> "I think we all know that storybook endings like that only happen to peasants."

<Mendhari> "No... No... That's what I actually said."

<Mendhari> "... Don't say Endings!"

<Kinqueduran> "Peasants in distant, remote places, that no-one cares about."

<Mendhari> "Those losers.... impersonators!" Her eyes go wide again.

<ST`> The temple's doors are wide open, welcoming any to enter.

<Kinqueduran> "I shouldn't say endings? You're the one wishing swift death to befall all that you encounter."

<Mendhari> "Shuuuut uuuup!"

  • Mendhari stomps like a little girl.

<Kinqueduran> "Anstice, back me up on this."

  • Anstice sighs. "The temple is apparently messing with Mendhari."

<Anstice> "Why don't you scout, and I'll try to handle this?"

  • Kinqueduran can't help but smile at Mendhari's foot-stomping, and just can't keep himself from hugging her warmly.
  • Mendhari blinks as he hugs her. "... what are you doing?"

<Anstice> "Or not. I'll scout, you two have fun."

  • Anstice steps through the gates of the temple warily.
  • Kinqueduran steps back with a smile and fondly pats her on the shoulder. "Nothing." He looks at Anstice. "I'll take care of it, you keep an eye on her."

<Kinqueduran> "Or...not."

  • Mendhari pushes off Kinqueduran, and grabs Anstice. "Don't you dare go!"
  • Anstice blinks at this.

<Anstice> "K, can you see if the temple is doing something strange to us?"

<Kinqueduran> "Sure. Let me see..." He mimics performing some arcane ritual, complete with nonsensical mumblings. "Yes. It is."

  • Mendhari looks at Kinqueduran, sternly.

<Mendhari> "that's not funny in the least."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs and doesn't reply, but stares rather intently at the temple, squinting as he seeks out any hint of Essence.

<ST`> Despite all the rumors of pain and death associated with this temple, the only flows of Essence are faint traces of once-strong wardings. No darkness taints the outside of the structure. It may once have even been a blessed place.

  • Mendhari , as Kinqueduran disappears, starts shivering.
  • Kinqueduran looks back at the others. "Okay, so I lied. The temple seems normal."
  • Anstice wraps her up in his arms, passing her the non-extra sweet. "Here, suck on this. You'll feel better."

<Kinqueduran> "The weirdness is on our part, I guess."

  • Mendhari takes it, and puts her arms around him, lying her head on his shoulder. ".... why did I say those things?"

<Anstice> "Stress? See if anyone's home, K..."

<Anstice> "Shout if you need us."

  • Kinqueduran rolls his eyes at the couple, and quietly approaches the entrance, setting his shield before him, keeping his spear ready.

<ST`> The interior hall of the temple is dark, but Kinqueduran's eyes have long since adapted to a lack of light. He can see a single long hallway leading out the chamber that is echoingly empty but for broken chests and smashed banquet tables.

<Mendhari> "... it feels like it's more than taht."

<Anstice> "It could be."

<Anstice> "But we don't know, and what good is dwelling on bad possibilities?"

  • Kinqueduran grits his teeth, and is grateful for having invoked Scarlet-Tempered Spear the other night. The preparation seemed as though it might prove to be worth it.

<ST`> From the ceiling a strange contrapation hangs, something like a Haslanti air ship. With the hull of a schooner and the outstreched wings of a Strix, the ungainly craft is made from thin bamboo and rotting silk. An ancient Grave Good?

  • Kinqueduran crouches, staring up at the airship for a moment, then catches himself, feeling suddenly vulnerable, and proceeds deeper into the temple.

<Mendhari> "... what if it's the pact I made with that bastard, Hades?"

<Anstice> "Then you're going to need to find a handle on it."

  • Mendhari closes her eyes. She's never been this troubled. "I want to celebrate life... not destroy it."
  • Kinqueduran decides to turn back to retrieve the others without resorting to shouting.
  • Anstice kisses her, letting her go. "The reason a rose is beautiful is that it fades. Think of it that way for a while. What's up, K?"
  • Mendhari nodsnodsnods. "... I'll try."

<Kinqueduran> "Seems clear, at least a little ways in. Follow. Also, Mendhari. Relax."

  • Mendhari glares at Kinqueduran. "You... you..."

<Kinqueduran> "Relax."

<Mendhari> "I'll relax... I'll relax..."

<Anstice> "Good girl. Let's go."

  • Kinqueduran looks at Anstice. "If she doesn't relax, I'm going to kiss her. That should give her a heart attack, which would at least keep her quiet."
  • Mendhari 's eyes go wide. "I'LL RELAX!"
  • Anstice laughs helplessly at that for a moment, finally recovering to follow.
  • Mendhari is even more horrifed at that prospect than anything Hades can inflict on her.
  • Kinqueduran grins. "I figured a threat that drastic would make you realize the severity of our situation."

<Mendhari> "... I hate you so much."

  • Kinqueduran blows her a kiss. "I know."
  • Mendhari stares at him. "I hope you choke on your own entrails."

<Kinqueduran> "Oh, I expect far worse to befall me soon enough. Now, shall we proceed?"

<Mendhari> "... sure."

  • Kinqueduran leads the way into the temple slowly, pausing in the room where the airship appears to be.
  • Mendhari looks up.
  • Anstice is unable to help but wonder what it was once like.
  • Kinqueduran speaks softly. "Reminds me of a rather unpleasant mission a few days' ride outside of Diamond Hearth."
  • Anstice starts to wander in a direction, then shakes himself, waving at the other two. "Come on."

<Kinqueduran> "Where are you going?"

<Mendhari> "We should turn right."

  • Kinqueduran makes a sort of 'what the hell?' gesture.

<ST`> The only exit from the entry hall is the long corridor straight ahead. Though at its end another room is visible.

<Anstice> "Down and to the right."

<Anstice> "I've got a hunch."

<Kinqueduran> "Fine. Lead on."

  • Anstice moves slowly through the hallway, just in case anything was left that might be iluminating, finally winding up in said room.
  • Kinqueduran trails behind both Anstice and Mendhari

<ST`> The corridor once bore hangings or portraits, for their stonework supports are still in place. But long generations of bandits and scavengers have cleared all decoration and illumination from the temple's easy-to-reach regions. The circular room at the end of the corridor has a solid table, made from part of the floor. Other then that, only doorways remain.

<Kinqueduran> "I think I've decided to dislike this place."

<ST`> Four doorways, three leading further onward. One in the ceiling, with no clear way to reach it. The other three are normally-placed, left, center and right.

<Anstice> "We go right for now. But I imagine up is important."

<Kinqueduran> "Of course it's important. It's inaccessible."

<Mendhari> "We could throw you."

<Kinqueduran> "I might not mind it. But do consider how you'll handle the guards."

<ST`> Bits of dust fall from the ceiling doorway.

  • Kinqueduran 's eyes snap to the ceiling doorway immediately, and the grip on his spear shifts.

<Mendhari> "..... great."

<Anstice> "You shouldn't have told it you dislike the place."

<ST`> There is no immediate movement, but something far up in the darkness is moving, regularly and without alteration. Swinging gently back and forth.

  • Anstice ponders.

<Kinqueduran> "I'm sure the temple would have noticed, Anstice."

<Anstice> "Is there somewhere we can buy a good tablecloth for Ruby Doe?"

  • Kinqueduran coughs a little at the comment, and glances at Mendhari.

<ST`> A few more bits that may once have been fine silk fall from the doorway, onto Anstice.

<Anstice> "I'd hate to just set it on fire without replacing it."

  • Mendhari 's doesn't seem to be fazed by the comment.
  • Anstice brushes at it, hrming.
  • Kinqueduran just shrugs a little bit.
  • Anstice plucks one of Mendhari's bracelets from her wrist suddenly, hrming as essence swirls and coils around him, tossing it up as it catches a colorful, heatless flame, spilling light out into the room. He hands it back to her.
  • Mendhari blinks. ".... wow."

<Kinqueduran> "Handy."

<Anstice> "Mhm."

<ST`> As if in protest to the light and the magic, a shower of dust falls from above. Then there is a strange fluttering noise.

<Mendhari> "... Oh, great."

<ST`> A pale blue gown falls to the ground at Mendhari's feet. The sort of elaborate designs often seen adorning Goddesses in Heaven are stitched into the Jade fabric with thin threads of Moonsilver and Orichalcum. Around the neck and arms scrolls of Starmetal twine in chain-like patterns that also wrap around the breasts and stomach, drawing attention subtly and with dignity.

  • Mendhari kneels down and starts to pick it up. "... so beautiful..."

<Anstice> "Careful with that, Mendhari... It may be tainted."

  • Kinqueduran lays the haft of his lance in Mendhari's path, to prevent her from kneeling. "Anstice is right."

<Mendhari> ".... but..."

<Kinqueduran> "But doom."

<Kinqueduran> "Doomy-doom doom."

  • Mendhari keeps trying to get it.

<Kraken> It is then that Anistice hears the whistling of claws in the cool underworld air, a twisted monstrosity in white robes, holding a quill in one clawed hand, then other trying to take his head off. Then it howls.

  • Anstice snaps his hand out to grasp at the new threat's hand, tangling his fingers with the claws and wrenching the offending arm into an un-natural positong.
  • Mendhari suddenly backflips backwards, drawing her needles from her hair. They glow with a frightening, baleful glare.
  • Kinqueduran turns to meet the inbound threat, the glittering starmetal head of the Lance of Mars Descending darting towards the white-robed assailant without a thought.
  • Anstice drags the figure towards him, spinning as he does to bring the strike into the lance he still has at his back, flicking it to spin the creature open for Mendhari's hopefully knockout strike.
  • Mendhari watches the dress, and quickly rolls to protect it from being trod upon by the filthy feet of her friends. She rises up in front of the demon... thing, and thrusts out one of her needles as she rises to her knees.
  • Telgar has joined #RedIce
  • Chan Serv? sets mode: +o Telgar
  • Telgar is now known as ST

<Kraken> The ghost howls in rage as the needle stabs into it, looming over Mendhari.

  • Anstice closes his eyes, again beginning the work on a spell, the words echoing throughout the empty temple as a glow slowly begins to burn around him.

<Kraken> The ghost smiles a horrible smile down at Mendhari, then it's claws blur and it's quill whirls, drawing a graceless picture on her skin as the claws rake her stomach

  • Kinqueduran lunges at the ghost wordlessly, crimson fire swirling around the razored head of his lance as it rends ghostly flesh.
  • Anstice james the lance into the wall, using it as a bar to drive the ghost against with the flrry of strikes from the spirit sword, an arcane sigil of flame drawn on the ghost's chest and further illuminating the chamber.
  • Kinqueduran leaps at the ghost, the Lance of Mars Descending flicking back and forth, raking the cruel starmetal blade across the ghost.

<Kraken> The ghost ignores the spears and swords of the two men, focusing still on Mendhari before it, the claws raking over her skin again.

  • Mendhari is hurt! Very hurt!

<Kraken> It howls a wicked howl as she falls, flicking her blood through the air in celebration.

  • Kinqueduran vaults towards the ghost, shoving his shield into his foe's face as the spearhead rakes across the ghost's 'gut', then rams upwards through its chest.

<Kraken> The spear does not reach it's chest, the ghost already falling appart to dust, blown aside by Kin's strike.

  • Anstice just drops to a knee, wrapping the dress around Mendhari's wounds. "We're camping outside, I think." He pick her up, heading that direction already.
  • Kinqueduran nods, stepping back. "I agree."
  • Mendhari nods weakly.

<ST> Many hours later, Mendhari regains conciousness, wrapped in the blood-stained dress.

  • Anstice is watching her quietly.
  • Mendhari 's eyes go wide. "... The dress... IT'S RUINED! IDIOTS!!!!"

<Anstice> "The dress is made of jade, Mendhari."

<Anstice> "Jade doesn't get bloodstained."

<Mendhari> "... it's got blood all over it! It's stained!"

<Mendhari> Not exactly being reasonable here.

<Kinqueduran> "Shut up."

<Anstice> "It'll rinse. You'd prefer I strip you and use the other dress to bind your wounds?"

<Mendhari> ".... Yes."

<Kinqueduran> "She probably would."

<Kinqueduran> "But we're not doing that."

  • Anstice lifts her up, untying the jade dress and beginning to work her other off. "Why not? If she wants to sit around naked in front of you, that's fine by me."
  • Kinqueduran shrugs. "I'm sure I could get over having a beautiful naked princess in my presence."
  • Anstice looks at her, pausing. "Well? Which?"
  • Mendhari throws a rock at Kinqueduran. "Turn around."
  • Kinqueduran watches the rock bounce off of his armor rather lazily.

<Mendhari> "TURN AROUND!"

  • Kinqueduran shrugs a little and turns.

<Mendhari> "... now Anstice."

<Kinqueduran> "I don't think we should let her."

  • Anstice shrugs, and continues stripping her out of it, using some nice cold water to clean the wounds. "It beats her obsessing over it."

<Kinqueduran> "I suppose."

  • Mendhari holds the dress with her fingers.
  • Anstice eyes it carefully as he tears her old up to bind her wounds.

<Mendhari> "... I should have another dress in my pack..." She sqeezes her new dress.

<Kinqueduran> "I'm going to rest. You two keep your 'activities' quiet."

<Anstice> "A good point."

  • Anstice heads over to check in the pack.
  • Mendhari looks up at him. "... I'm tainted... you know?"

<Anstice> "What do you mean?"

<Mendhari> "... Hades. I think he did something to me."

<Anstice> "Why would he do that?"

<Mendhari> "I don't know. Part of the deal.... I wish I never made it..."

  • Anstice sighs, pulling another dress out and helping her into it. "I'm sure whatever he's done can be handled, Mendhari."
  • Mendhari shakes her head. "... I don't know. It's already changed me. I meant to say those horrible things before."
  • Kinqueduran has left #RedIce
  • Anstice nods. "Just... relax. Don't think about it."
  • Anstice starts to go, then shrugs. "You want me to stay or not?"
  • Mendhari looks at him. "Don't go."
  • Anstice nods, sitting down beside her. "Fine. Just... let go of the dress, Mendhari."
  • Mendhari looks at the dress and shakes her head.... then releases it.
  • Anstice folds it carefully.

<Mendhari> "... what is it?"

<Anstice> "What is what?"

<Mendhari> "The dress."

<Anstice> "Magical."

<Mendhari> "Obviously...."

<Anstice> "And quite simply, you're not going to wear it whle wounded. Some sort of rather big power, but the demands might be too dangerous for you yet."

  • Mendhari frowns. "... if you say so."

<Anstice> "I do."

  • Mendhari pushes the dresss away from herself.

<ST> Even covered in blood, the dress still calls. Wounded, Mendhari is more vulnerable to its call but too weak to put it on by herself. With Anstice refusing to help, she can not don the beautiful object. Not yet..

  • Mendhari WANT DRESS!
  • Anstice watches her worriedly, finally wrapping it in his pack and slipping it in K's sleeping bag before returning.