< Xansha's Tutoring | Red Ice Logs | The Sevsimtali >

  • Anstice is beginning to wonder slightly if they'll ever escape the seemingly unstoppable pull of fate from Niestro's citadel, riding slowly back to meet the final student at the doors, now slightly grayed by the ashes and snow since they've left.
  • Mendhari is shivering, clad in a large parka and underneath that, the almost transparent silk of Chiroscuran nobility. Her hair is up, held by two lovely Starmetal pins.

Down in the village the three men discovered that the infernal taint was not long-established, but it had come to the attention of the mortals in the area. Several mentioned minor demons, terrible horrors to their minds, seen in the distance and closer at night. Once a young couple had been found half-devoured when they had ventured too far in search of privacy for their romantic endeavors. Mothers fear for their children and the militia is sharpening its blades. Mothers fear for their children and the militia is sharpening its blades

  • Kinqueduran had been more distant than usual after they had left the village, perhaps because Anstice stopped him from dancing off on some quixotic crusade. The journey back had let his mood shift from distant to sullen, though, and he was scowling more than usual when he finally looked up from the ground to spot Mendhari.
  • Mendhari sighs, too cold... and dances a little to help herself stay warm.
  • Kinqueduran exhales slowly, raising his hand from his crossbow to greet Mendhari with a gesture.
  • Mendhari blinks and looks up. She scurries over with the regal bearing of a princess and greets them. "May joy follow you.... are you... her other students?"
  • Anstice swings lightly off the horse and goes to greet her, keeping the formalities short to prevent the rather unpleasant idea of having a sidereal and an assistant catch frostbite on his watch, letting Kinqueduran handle the mounts to work out his funk while he leads Mendhari inside to the guest room, and the nice big fireplace.

The demons, however terrifying they may be to mortal eyes, were not the only reason for the smithy's sudden boom in business. The formerly peaceful and isolationist Algorans are apparently rampaging unchecked through the north in at least two directions. A Gelidi village was burned not two days before Xansha died, another devastated three days ago. The devastated villages are only a handful of days from the citadel.

  • Mendhari sighs happily, stripping off the parka and sitting on a big chair near the fireplace. "I hate the cold. And the North."

One of the most vicious predators preying on the minds of the villagers is the moon. For five days now, it has risen a brilliant, coppery green that washes the world in shadow and unhealthy light.

  • Kinqueduran irritably stuffs the horses away in the stables and removes their saddles, but doesn't comb them and such. He wasn't much of an animal-person, you know. Shortly after Mendhari had settled in front of the fireplace, Kinqueduran stalked in, his usual "Mr. Sunny" disposition rolling off in waves.
  • Mendhari looks around for some hot tea as she looks at the other members. "I never learned your names from her."

Anstice: "You'll have to excuse him. He's not fully socialized until he's killed at least a couple of demons that day."

  • Mendhari blinkblinkblinks. "Violent, isn't he?"
  • Kinqueduran shoots a killing look at Anstice and bites his tongue.

Mendhari: "I hope he doesn't take his violence out on small little woodland animals."

  • Anstice bows slightly. "Anstice, the Cyzarine. That would be Kinqueduran, the... I am afraid I am not fully aware of your status."

Mendhari: "I am Mendhari, Chosen of Serenity."

  • Kinqueduran looks up from his folded pile of belongings. For a moment, just a small hint of pride and grace touches him. "Kinqueduran. Formerly Carmine Rain Hunter of the Division of Battles, Office 6."
  • Anstice smiles. "Better. Perhaps you can continue this trend by briefing Mendhari here on the current events?"

Mendhari: "I would like that. I know very little of what is happening.... and it is uncomfortable."

  • Kinqueduran is, for once, compliant with a minimum of dirty looks. "Xansha's dead, the work looks infernal. The moon's green, the Algorans are going nuts, people are dying. Oh, something about all Malfeas breaking loose, too."

Mendhari: ".... well... isn't this wonderful."

Kinqueduran: "Really puts a spring in your step, doesn't it?"

Mendhari: "In the other direction, yes."

  • Anstice drums fingers on the desk. "... short. I'll give you that much."

Mendhari: "Now, perhaps the Green can give me more.... precise information."

Anstice: "However, at least we can be certain all these events are connected, and we but have to find the proper place to push to deal with them all at once."

  • Mendhari nods. "Now, what do we plan to do with these... clues? Grasp at motes of dust?"

Kinqueduran: "No, we handle dust with stomping."

  • Mendhari raises an eyebrow. "Quite extreme for simple dust. Perhaps I should introduce you to the feather duster."

Anstice: "Not quite so crude, but that does seem the prevailing plan. And this dust is not so simple."

Kinqueduran: "It was evil dust."

Mendhari: ".... evil dust? Did it look at you funny?'

Kinqueduran: "...well, it looked at Anstice fun- ... no! Anyway, my guess for now is that we've got a very naughty sorcerer on the loose. Maybe even a Solar."

  • Mendhari frowns. "A solar would not do this."

Kinqueduran: "Bullshit. Didn't you hear about that Zenith outside of Gem that sacrificed 23 babies to the Sun within five days of Exaltation? Solars sure can shine bright, but bright lights make darker shadows."

Mendhari: "Ahhh... Gem... Proper weather. But that was an isolated incident..."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs, opening up the crossbow's mechanism. "Suuuure it was. If it happened once, it can happen again. I'm not saying that this is the work of a Solar, okay? But ... but it could be."

Mendhari: "I certainly hope it isn't."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs, somehow making the gesture dismissive, and briefly looks at Anstice, seeking comment.

nstice: "I do not see how there is enough evidence to decide either way. All must be suspect at the moment."

Mendhari: "So, we've got a green moon, monsters, a dead elder and... evil dust. You boys certainly like your stories."

Kinqueduran: "More or less. The dust you can pretty much take-or-leave, I think."

Mendhari: "I think I will. Monsters and a green moon are so much... more believable."

Anstice: "Also provable."

  • Kinqueduran looks up from the crossbow and glares at Mendhari. "Anstice can attest to the wicked looks of this particular dust. If you think we're bullshitting you, just ask Iron Horse if he gets back."

Mendhari: "And how am I to be certain that you're not all in on this Grand Dust Conspiracy." She looks very amused, obviously just teasing you.

Unbeknownst to the Sidereals, a congregation of dust-bunnies glares evilly up from under the chairs on which they recline, waiting to reclaim the citadel from the fleshy fingers and cleaning feathers of the living.

Kinqueduran: "You know what?" He points at Mendhari with some unidentifiable component of the crossbow. "Forget the fucking dust. Focus on the scary stuff."

  • Mendhari chuckles. "Dust is quite scary, to a chair without a blanket over it. Anyhow, I believe you, despite the absurdity of your tale."
  • Kinqueduran shrugs a little, setting the disassembled weapon down, frustrated with it for now.

Mendhari: "Now... Mister Anstice, your Green powers tell you that there IS Evil Dust?"

Anstice: "Afraid not."

  • Kinqueduran looks up at the ceiling. "Yes. Verify the evil dust. That's the issue here, never mind the flesh eating demons from realms beyond."

Mendhari: "Flesh eating demons are obvious. They eat flesh, leave bodies. Evil dust is far, far more devious."

Kinqueduran: "Flesh eating demons aren't quite that straightforward, doll."

Mendhari: "If you are to call me doll, it will be in bed... and that would take Venus herself to set up. Now... let us discuss our options."

Kinqueduran: "Right. Options."

  • Kinqueduran looks at Anstice.
  • Mendhari looks at Anstice as well.

Anstice: "First: Wait for our Mercurial counterpart. Second: Attempt to use your obvious social mastery to dig deeper into the causes of the Algoran shift. Third: Kill the local flesh eating demons."

  • Mendhari sighs. "Who remembered to bring up this Algoran shift?"
  • Kinqueduran shrugs, standing up. "I mentioned it."

Mendhari: "And what exactly is it?"

Kinqueduran: "Jupiter's tits, you only hear what you want to hear, don't you?"

Mendhari: "Evil dust is in my ears."

Kinqueduran: "I swear, if you mention the fucking dust again, I'm going to stab you."

  • Mendhari smiles. "So sensitive. Now, The Algoran Shift is dangerous. A nation suddenly becoming violent and expansionist is suspicious, and likely the result of sorcerous influence, therefore, we need to have essence manipulation reports from the Convention on Essence Wielders."
  • Kinqueduran shrugs, leaning against the wall. "I assume you have the connections to make that happen?"

Mendhari: "I was hoping one of... Anstice would."

  • Kinqueduran looks at Anstice.
  • Anstice raises an eyebrow. "Explain to me why waiting for said reports is worth the time it would take to get them through the red tape, when we could easily arrange our own collection of said data?"

Mendhari: "Because then we could stay next to the warm fire.... instead of going out into that godforsaken cold."

Kinqueduran: "Action trumps comfort."

  • Mendhari groans. "Well... I guess I'll have to get a bigger parka... and maybe new boots.... Either that, or a walk-in yeddim."

Kinqueduran: "I'm sure we can find some large animal whose rectal cavity you'll fit in."

Mendhari: "Is that the proper way to treat a lady?"

Anstice: "Or, we could use the readily available spell to empower her clothing." Kinqueduran: "I'm not sure, but it seems to suit you."

Kinqueduran: "...you're no fun, Anstice."

Mendhari: "... spell?"

Anstice: "That's my job."

Mendhari: "Ah. I thought your job was to be mysterious."

Kinqueduran: "What spell were you referring to, anyway?"

  • Anstice sighs. "That is a common misconception. It shall pass for now. I can instill your clothing with the essence of fire, should you wish it, which will more than handle your need for warmth."

Mendhari: ".... that would be very nice."

Anstice: "Though I might suggest better shoes."

Mendhari: "Yes, these little linen things don't to the job.

Anstice: "Ritual of Elemental Empowerment. You know, second on the list Niestro had in the curriculum?"

Some of the boots from Xansha's closet, still intact, would probably fit Mendhari if she and the others were inclined to use any of Xansha's possessions.

Kinqueduran: "I didn't learn sorcery from Xansha, ass."

Anstice: "I recall. Thought you'd have found the use for it by now."

Kinqueduran: "I'm sure I'll need it sometime soon."

Anstice: "Two weeks. I'd have it in two weeks."

  • Mendhari raises an eyebrow. "Two weeks? We do not have two weeks."
  • Anstice is mysterious! "Now, if you don't mind a more.... severe aesthetic, we can find some boots for you."
  • Kinqueduran nods a little, folding his arms. "I should probably get in touch with Nine-Roads Sojourner. She was always better at actually finding trouble than I was."

Anstice: "I'd advise that. Mendhari?"

  • Anstice stands, and offers her his arm.
  • Mendhari looks up at him, and takes his arm. "Fine, we will do what we have to."

  • Mendhari frowns at the boots. "Do we have time to get to a cobbler? These boots seriously need a splash of.... taste."

Anstice: "These boots have survived a thousand years without alteration. I shall imagine they will last a little longer.

Being the boots of Xansha Niestro, they are plain, utilitarian and dark brown in color. Lined with fur and perfectly suited to the climate, they fit just fine. But they're rather boring.

Mendhari: "Fortunately my clothing is much more palatable."

  • Anstice shall hope that the lack of distraction Kinqueduran now has thanks to his efforts is being put to use.
  • Mendhari looks around. "Now, shall we get to business?"
  • Kinqueduran remains downstairs in front of the fire, putting his privacy to good use by sitting in front of the fire and smoking his pipe, thoroughly lost in thought.

Anstice: "Which specific bit of business?"

  • Kinqueduran suddenly remembers something! Standing, he wanders through the citadel, attempting to verify a memory of Summoning Smoke.

Mendhari: "The evil dust."

  • Kinqueduran didn't hear that, or he'd be stabbing.

Anstice: "The dust as not evil, a demon happened to have been hiding in it. Kinqueduran has a tendency to oversimplify."

Mendhari: ".... THAT makes sense now. Perhaps then, will you explain the Algoran Shift, and your suspicions?"

Anstice: "The Algorans were previously peaceful, and are now engaged in a minor land war. This coming in short succession with the other events seems to indicate a connection."

Mendhari: "Indeed. I suppose they are the aggressors?"

Anstice: "Correct."

Mendhari: "And those they are warring against must be the Haslanti. In which case, it begs the question... "Are they idiots?""

Anstice: "No. They are backed by infernal forces. Only a select few important ones are idiots."

  • Mendhari nods. "Then, let's get out of her. Mister Battles is probably stabbing himself at this point, desperate to see blood."

Mendhari: "... By the way, do demons bleed red?"

  • Kinqueduran is actually setting up the summoning smoke in an effort to get in touch with Nine-Roads.

Anstice: "Not all of them. Some, however."

Mendhari: "Ah. Well. Let's find him anyway."

It takes several minutes, but the summoning smoke eventually swirls into the serpentine face of a minor dragonling, one of the errand-lizards of Heaven. It blinks at you with slitted eyes. "You are not Xansha Niestro."

  • Anstice intentionally makes things slow, figuring it's going to take a while for K to finish.
  • Kinqueduran nods slightly, folding his arms. "Xansha is dead, I'm one of her students. I need to speak to Nine-Roads Sojourner."
  • Mendhari sighs, and grabs a cup of hot tea.Dragonling: "She is on assignment."

The little lizard didn't even blink. You get the feeling it didn't check.

  • Kinqueduran narrows his eyes. "I need to speak to Nine-Roads Sojourner. Don't jerk me around, asshole."

Dragonling: "You are not the registered user of this smoke. And you are taking up my time. I have important business. I tell you she is on assignment. I will pass along the message that someone at this smoke consistency wishes to talk with her.

Kinqueduran: "What's your name and who's your supervisor?"

  • Mendhari sips her tea. "Honestly, I hope he's not dead."

Anstice: "He's probably swapping war stories with an old friend."

Dragonling: "I don't have to tell you that."

endhari: "I hope so. Because if he's bleeding to death in some place... this trip is going to be dreadfully boring."

Kinqueduran: "I am Carmine Rain Hunter, Division of Battles, Office 6. This is official business."

  • Mendhari looks down into her tea. "Is there any honey?"

Anstice: "Ah, yes. Should have guessed you'd take it in tea."

The little lizard gets a huffy expression "I will check with my superiors."

  • Anstice offers some after finding it.
  • Kinqueduran scowls and loses his cool. "Quit stalling, ass! This is important SHIT! There are fucking DEMONS running AMOK, do you fucking understand me, fuckmook?

Mendhari: "Of course. I may be sweeter than honey... But I can't sweeten tea without it." She pours a generous amount in, stirs it slowly, and then drinks. "I hope he's not too upset."

Anstice: "If he is, he'll get over it. He is Red, after all."

  • Anstice smiles at the deliberate contradiction from earlier.

Mendhari: "He'll likely have to kill or destroy something first."

Anstice: "Usually a metaphorical destruction, I assure you."

  • Kinqueduran is seething in the summoning smoke room, and his shouts may well be echoing through the citadel.

Mendhari: "Is it possible to destroy a metaphor?"

The little lizard scurries off, ignoring your tirade. For several minutes the smoke is blank swirls of burned incense, mirroring your fuming rage. However, an image forms after a time. A larger, more important dragon. "I am Calefis. Your former partner is indeed on assignment in the Haslanti League. I will have her contacted for you. What message do you wish to send?"

  • Kinqueduran sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose and closing his eyes. "Just tell her that she's needed around Xansha's citadel."

Calefis: "Very well. She will receive the message today." The smoke flashes bright blue, then goes blank. The connection has been terminated. Anstice: "I assume so. But I and not one of Saturn's children. You should ask one of them when the time comes."

Mendhari: "Indeed. Though the Purples are... very strange."

  • Kinqueduran wanders back into the main hall of the citadel, arms crossed, eyes down.
  • Mendhari holds up a cup. "Tea, Kinqueduran?"
  • Kinqueduran looks up as though seeing Mendhari for the first time, blinks once, then speaks quite softly. "No ... no, thank you."

Mendhari: "Are you certain? It's quite good."

Anstice: "I assume from your manner that things went poorly. Console yourself with the fact we shall now be going to find those who deserve stabbing."

Kinqueduran: "I'm certain."

  • Kinqueduran sighs and halfheartedly twirls a finger in the air, mumbling. "Hurrah for stabbing."

Mendhari: "... I have some opium that I could add in... if you wish it."

Kinqueduran: "I said no."

Mendhari: "Right." She sets it down, and resumes drinking her own tea.

  • Kinqueduran returns to where his belongings rest and seats himself on the floor, staring blankly at the disassembled crossbow.

Mendhari: "If we're going to leave soon, you should put that back together."

  • Kinqueduran still seems oddly subdued and nods a little. "Right...."
  • Mendhari shrugs, and goes to arranging some flowers in the corner. Ah, much better.
  • Anstice marks down calm before the storm on a scrap of paper, dates it, and prepares to head off for the village!
  • Kinqueduran punctuates the reassembly with a loud ratcheting sound as he readies the crossbow. Slinging the weapon onto his shoulder, Kinqueduran stands and grabs his covered shield.
  • Mendhari follows Anstice. "Wow. These boots work well. I'm actually warm."

The three Sidereals manage to make decent time despite Mendhari slowing the two men up considerably. They arrive with at least three good hours of sunlight remaining before the villagers scamper into their homes and throw the locks home to defend from the demons. In fear of the demonic attacks, the guard towers have been abandoned, despite the threat of the Algorans only days distant.

< Xansha's Tutoring | Red Ice Logs | The Sevsimtali >