23:59 <@Carreau> Two men are rubbing their hands together nervously on the alley behind the Three Oxen Inn in the Haunches, waiting for their contact to arrive. One of them has decided to start drinking already, having communicated the secret rendezvous to his friend.

00:02 <@Carreau> "You're sure this isn't some trick?" The one who originally spoke of Mara asks his friend, who makes a small dismissive wave with his hand. "I don't know. I just had that in my pocket."

00:02 <TDS> Leaf is watching them from the top of the alley, her entire body covered in shadows. Those that manage to look under the hood of her clothes will see nothing but living shadow, so she hopes that it will be suitably impressive for the mortals. After confirming that this isn't a trap she drops down behind the two men completely silent and startles them when she suddenly speaks right net to them. "I assure you, this isn't a trick."

00:02 <TDS> *right next to them

00:03 <@Carreau> The two recoil visibly, grabbing each other by the shoulder, eyes wide. "A-ah, well, that's good?" The less drunken one then mutters. "I am Bobo." He's got a little chub on his cheeks, receding hairline, wearing a simple mousy brown tunic and a pair of loose pants, wiggling his toes in his sandals. "I... I wish to commune with the deer-footed one."

00:04 <TDS> "The deer-footed one isn't someone you bother lightly. Why do you wish to commune with her?"

00:05 <@Carreau> Bobo takes a step forward, gathering his strength. "I was wronged by a lover, a sorceress of Whitecrest. I wish to obtain the power to bring her to ruin." The drunken friend shakes his head a bit at that.

00:08 <@Carreau> The man seems very determined to do the exacting of vengeance himself, craving sorcerous power to turn against one who has wronged him.

00:10 <TDS> Leaf lets out a sinister giggle as she hears this. "Ah, certainly a worthwhile goal. I could put you in contact with her, if you really wish, but be warned! It is not a path for the faint of heart and there will be a price. If you aren't ready to pay it, give up now. The deer-footed has no love for cowards."

00:11 <@Carreau> The man does seem surprisingly resolute. "She stole everything from me. I am willing to pay any price to get back at her, even if I do not gain my life back."

00:12 <TDS> "What about your friend? Does he share you devotion to this cause?"

00:13 <@Carreau> The drunkard chuckles at that and shakes his head. "I'm just glad if this lout can get himself out of the gutter. Been taking care of him since the bitch betrayed him."

00:14   | Platinum [] has joined #lathe-ic

00:15 <TDS> "Very well. You can leave, this doesn't concern you any longer." She turns to Bobo. "You, on the other hand, come with me. We have much to do."

00:15 <@Carreau> The drunkard shrugs, pats Bobo on the shoulder and shuffles off towards a nearby watering hole. Bobo nods and starts following the woman, glancing about a little warily.

00:20 <TDS> Quickly, Silent Leaf leads the man through the streets towards her hideout, making sure not to be followed. After reaching it, she invites Bobo in and makes sure the door is locked behind him. Inside, he can see a small, dimly lit room with a table in the middle and several cushions on the ground for sitting.

00:24 <@Carreau> Someone is definitely following the two, a hooded figure that only moves to check behind corners to see where the two are turning, otherwise staying out of sight.

00:25 <TDS> After telling Bobo to go ahead, Leaf stays behind hidden in shadows waiting for the hooded figure, weapons at the ready.

00:26 <@Carreau> The moment the hooded figure notices that Bobo is alone, it turns around and starts running to an opposite direction as fast as it can.

00:28 <TDS> Leaf suppresses a curse as the figure starts running before giving chase, still trying to stay in the shadows while getting close enough to be guaranteed to hit.

00:31 <@Carreau> The figure weaves and takes sharp turns, trying to lose the pursuer as fast as it can while running at full speed.

00:32 <@Carreau> The figure actually runs through the entrance of a tea house with its door open, skipping over a table and running straight through the back door.

00:33 <TDS> Leaf jumps from roof to roof, simply going over the tea house. She can't let this man get away just as she was about to get her first cultist. Moving with a new burst of speed, she surges forwards.

00:36 <@Carreau> But instead of the hooded figure, it is a chubby waitress that runs out of the tea house's back door, the footsteps echoing just as well before she comes to Leaf's view.

00:39 <TDS> Leaf notices the waitress and weights her options. Is it the hooded figure in disguise or just a distraction? Her entire efforts in this city could be destroyed before she even begins. She tries to get a closer look at the waitress, trying to determine if she moves in the same way the hooded figure did.

00:41 <@Carreau> The waitress drops, pants, and leans down to hold onto her knees. She looks about, confused, before rubbing her elbow and glancing behind her back. "Cursed rascals, scaring an old woman like that..."

00:52 <TDS> "Damn bastard got away, I'll have to keep my eyes open." Leaf mummers to herself before turning back, looking for Bobo while taking care not to be followed. She doesn't think the figure will come back so soon, but she'd rather not take any risks. After finding Bobo, she guides him to her hideout.

00:54 <@Carreau> Bobo is actually occupied when Leaf comes to him. He is sitting by a bench in a small opening with a well in the center, chatting up to a man in long dark-brown robes and wide-brimmed straw hat that covers his face except for the sight of pale skin and long, purple hair.

00:55 <TDS> Leaf waits in the shadows, trying to overhear what they are talking about.

00:57 <@Carreau> The man's voice is soft and lilting, very soothing to the ears and mind. "And she stole your business, on top? But why did you sign it off to her?" Bobo sniffles and wipes his eyes. "I was in love, a fool. I thought we'd be together forever, even though she said she had other suitors." The man reaches over to stroke the sniffling man's shoulder. "We all do mistakes when emotional, Bobo. You're making an 

00:57 <@Carreau> >

00:57 <@Carreau> > effort to reclaim your life, though, so that's good. You have to keep your chin up."

00:59 <@Carreau> Bobo nods and blows his nose to his sleeve, before standing up. "You're right. I'm gonna make that bitch pay." The man under the hat lets out a sigh. "Is that the only way, Bobo? Can you not start anew, instead of clinging to the past?" Bobo gives the man a stern look. "She deserves a taste of her own medicine. And then, with that power, I will rebuild what I lost."

01:00 <@Carreau> The man continues sitting, in thought for a moment before he speaks. "You are digging yourself a hole. Once you've had your vengeance, you will find that you are far deeper than where you started. This is not you getting ahead, this is you barely breaking even."

01:05 <@Carreau> Bobo looks over to the man and considers his words in silence.

01:08 <TDS> Leaf decides to step out of the shadows, appearing behind Bobo and the strange man. "Bobo, come. Don't tell me you already changed your mind."

01:11 <@Carreau> The man with the hat doesn't move, hands folded into his sleeves. Bobo glances at the woman, then at the man with the hat, then back to the woman. "No. I want to do this. I am fine just breaking even." He nods his head and looks; "The ritual you taught me is not strong enough. It cannot summon the deer-footed. So I will find a way to do it." The man lifts his shoulder a little bit at that. "I am just >

01:11 <@Carreau> > trying to guide you, Bobo, I am not trying to deny you anything."

01:11 <@Carreau> *looks back at the man.

01:14 <TDS> "Oh really? And where are you planning to guide him to?" She asks the man, studying his features.

01:16 <@Carreau> The man keeps his face covered under the brim of the hat, only his delicate jaw, thin lips and porcelain pale skin visible. "To power that does not cost him his soul." He says very calmly, hands folded over his lap, sitting straight.

01:17 <TDS> "And where do you get this power and why do you even share it with Bobo here?" Leaf moves closer, standing next to Bobo while facing the man.

01:20 <@Carreau> "There are many ways to the path of sorcerous enlightenment. The path Bobo has chosen is an... unfortunate one. Easy, yes, but dangerous and unpredictable. One doesn't need to learn the art, one simply receives power they do not know how to control. I am not particularly fond of the methods utilized by the lowest--" He bows down, as if pointing to the Lily Pits. "Or the highest of practitioners in Lathe.

01:20 <@Carreau> " >

01:20 <@Carreau> > He tilts his head so that the edge of his hat points upward to Whitecrest.

01:20 <@Carreau> But still concealing his features, the robe's collar tucked up high.

01:23 <TDS> "Oh, believe me, the path I have taken is nothing like the dabblers utilised by the lowest-" She mimics his gesture down to the Lily Pits. " You could say I partially came to this city to lead those poor souls. Believe me, my methods are completely safe when used correctly."

01:30 <@Carreau> The man lets out a small sound at that, perhaps amused or perhaps a sigh of regret. "An interesting claim. I would like to put your certainty to a test at some point. Here." He pulls off his hand from his sleeve, revealing slender milky-white fingers that are holding a ring of gleaming black metal between their tips. The ring is in the shape of a coiled centipede, legs hugging its torso. "Place a letter 

01:30 <@Carreau> >

01:30 <@Carreau> > through this, think of me and recite 'I wish for my love to cherish my words'. The ring will then deliver the message to me."

01:31 <TDS> Leaf takes the ring and adds. "That's certainly an interesting code phrase. Any particular reason for it?"

01:31 <@Carreau> He then extends out the ring toward the woman, holding it out. "This was forged from the soul of a man who, once, was willing to pay any price for the target of his affections to read his love poems."

01:32 <TDS> "You forge things out of people's souls and still distrust my methods? But okay, we will speak more about this later."

01:33 <@Carreau> The man slides his hands into his sleeves again. "It was not my doing. The man offere dhimself willingly and he was dragged by the Keeper of the Forge of Night into Hell itself, where she tore apart and hammered his soul into this ring."

01:33 <@Carreau> *offered himself

01:33 <TDS> "By the way, we were followed earlier. Do you know anything about this?"

01:34 <@Carreau> "I do not. I was just having an evening stroll when I ran into Bobo, here." The man lowers his head, rubbing his wrists as if a little cold.

01:36 <TDS> "A very strange coincidence, really. Maybe this meeting was fated to occur. No matter, we have to go. Come Bobo." She turns to leave, not even looking back.

01:36 <@Carreau> Bobo gives the man a small wave, and then follows the woman.

01:38 <TDS> After getting Bobo finally to her hideout, Leaf starts with establishing what he already knew about the Occult and what he had learned by the straw-hat man.

01:43 <TDS> "So, what rituals did that man teach you and what did you manage to summon with it? And while we're at it, how did you even find him?" She asks while sitting down on a cushion on the floor.

01:46 <@Carreau> Bobo explains that he has learned a thaumaturgic ritual that allows him to call forth demonic stags formed of writhing white tendrils by spilling human blood onto certain locations in the Lily Pits. These demons do not attack or acknowledge him, but he can use a twig of rowan, ash or oak to herd them toward his enemies.

01:49 <@Carreau> He used it after he lost everything to gather enough money from criminals by leading the demons to prey on muggers in dark alleyways.

01:51 <TDS> "Is that all they taught you? How to beckon some lowly demon with human sacrifice you can't even control? Let me demonstrate just a bit of what you will be able to do once I'm done." She gestures into the empty room where she knows her bound Blood-Ape is and shouts an order for him to materialise. "This demon here was summoned without any sacrifice and completely bound to my will, he is nothing but a slave now. With determination you could 

01:51 <TDS> build yourself an army of them, without needing to herd them anywhere."

01:54 <@Carreau> "Adhyasa, the man from before, was visiting one of the scraperies in the Pits where I was working. He saw me, crying, and was very kind. I explained my situation, and he asked me if I wanted a way out of the pits. I, of course, took his advice. He taught me how to feel a strange wind, and then, just spilling two drops of my blood, it would call forth this demon. He said I could only use it to weed out >

01:54 <@Carreau> > those who'd prey on the weak - only hunters."

01:56 <TDS> "You can use this power I will give you to weed out the same people, except you would have more control over them."

01:58 <@Carreau> Bobo nods a little at that, looking excited. "So what do I have to do?"

02:04 <TDS> "Oh, you'll have to learn some rituals before I put you in contact with Mara so you can finish your pact. You can stay in this hideout if you want, it should be safe as long as you don't leave."

02:06 <@Carreau> Bobo seems to be brimming with excitement, promising to do some housekeeping while the woman is away.

02:08 <TDS> Leaf also decides to leave her Neomah there to keep him 'company' if he needs it, to get him used to demons and maybe give her another tool to control him with.

02:10 <@Carreau> Bobo takes the chance eagerly, laughing nervously at first before indulging in the neomah's passions.

09:51 <Pluck> ---

09:56 <Pluck> Pluck's initial reaction towards the prospect of taking on another contract was to refuse it; they're already operatnig near capacity, and she wants at least a few troops free in case more excursions are required to suppress the Lintha. But you don't just turn down Lathe's most favoured musician; no, certainly not when your own soldiers seem to discuss her with adoring smiles and overkind 

09:56 <Pluck> words. Could the desire to emulate her be the reason behind the sudden intensity of her company band's practice regime?

09:56 <Pluck> Besides, after the first round of fruitless exchanges with the Imperial Navy Liason over getting proper support for warding off further incursions, Pluck decides that it would be nice to talk to someone who actually wants what she can provide, so she sets off that afternoon towards one of Jade Soma's salons for the appointment. If nothing else, she will at least have some fine tea, and perhaps 

09:56 <Pluck> some oysters while she is there.

10:10 <Alvuea> The idea of going to a band of mercenaries and hiring some of them strikes Radiant as rather odd.  However, it is what Marco has assured her is the correct course of action for a bit of extra security.  Strange people paid to work as protection seems nonideal, but she did bring it up with her guard and assistant in the first place.  And it would be...

10:10 <Alvuea> fitting.  So, now she finds herself in the Saphire Font, which she had rather expected to have better tea, but... the little grotto she has been shown into is nice... should be quiet, private... and affords a nice bit of a view of the staff while she awaits the Mercenary Captain?  Was it captain?  She really should have asked about what sort of title the

10:10 <Alvuea> woman uses.

10:16 <Pluck> Eventually, Pluck is shown in by another servant. The woman is not dressed like a soldier, for she arrives in black robes of mourning and an accompanying veil that obscures most of her features. Radiant might make out the onset of greying hair across the soldier's scalp, or perhaps that her eyes seem tired, or maybe even the woman's slight discomfort with the opulence of her surrounds. "Lady 

10:16 <Pluck> Radiant? I am Captain Pluck, of the Whistlers," she says, solving the songstresses dillema and extending a hand in greeting. "I'm given to understand you require a security detail?"

10:16 <Pluck> *songstress'

10:23 <Alvuea> It's interesting, from that seat in the grotto, observing the interactions of the people in the Font, the young people clearly working, encouraging the patrons... the dance of what passes for a sort of courtship in a place like this, the hum and gurgling of that lazy river of water drifting through.  It's a delightful little movement of a symphony to

10:23 <Alvuea> observe.  Of course, there is soon a rather discordant note.  A woman in black robes of mourning, that's rather a note out of place.  Of course, it's also Radiant's sign to conclude her bit of observation, and to instead smile to her guest, "It is a pleasure to meet you, Captain Pluck.  I've heard good things about your... Whistlers."  She smiles, "I love

10:23 <Alvuea> the name for your... company?  And... yes, I've been thinking it is rather time to have a full detail."

10:31 <Pluck> "Company. It was intended to reflect the sound of arrows in flight," replies Pluck, and though her lips cannot be seen her eyes seem to smile at the compliment. "We've also heard good things about you- well, who has not, this side of the Haunches? I hope we can have a forge a good working relationship over this afternoon." The captain relaxes a little. "Now, will you require a full-time guard 

10:31 <Pluck> for an indefinate timeframe? Or are you looking to have security attend for specific events at specific times?"

10:36 <Alvuea> Radiant immediately regrets letting Marco have the rest of the day off, rather than insisting that he come to the meeting.  "There is a sort of deadly music, even to that, though, isn't there?" she asks with a smile, about the name.  A concerned look crosses her face, she isn't actually certain what she needs, "Yes.  Honestly, both of those.  I do think I

10:36 <Alvuea> need to hire some full-time guards.  My current sparce few are rather horrifically overworked.  And yes, I also would like to... have a relationship for additional security at certain events."

10:41 <Pluck> "Of course. Then we can assign you a day-to-day detail, and when you are holding an event you would be able to request an additional group of men. We'll need to know about a week in advance if you require additional forces." Pluck inclines her head. "I must assess the risks intrinsic to this assignment. Could you tell me if there are any particular threats you are concerned about?"

10:47 <Alvuea> Radiant quickly decides that 'A Wyld Hunt' is not the correct answer, even if it *is* the particular threat she's concerned about.  So, instead, she considers for a bit, looking again a bit out from the grotto, at the suddenly rather lurid events taking place outside, before turning back, "There isn't really anything particular, No.  Someone trying to make a

10:47 <Alvuea> statement.  Something.  Someone had... someone else killed at a recent concert.  Nothing to do with me, really, as far as I can possibly imagine, but... it's made me a bit nervous."

10:49 <Pluck> "Ah, that affair. I believe I heard about it earlier. Of course. And not just a 'someone', but a scion of House Ragara," replies Pluck, inclining her head.

10:54  * Alvuea nods, "Yes. That would be the one." Radiant nods. She pauses, then decides to ask, "Do you know of a man called... fangs?"

10:55 <Pluck> "Fangs?" Pluck frowns. "Not offhand. It sounds like a nickname. I can think of one or two people who might deserve such an attribution, though. Whyfore?"

10:57 <Alvuea> Radiant laughs, "No reason in particular.  Just... something I'm looking into, and I was curious if you knew him." she pauses, "Have you ever been... here, to the Font, before?"

11:02 <Pluck> "Not for pleasure," admits Pluck. "When I visit Jade Soma, it is typically for work rather than play. Although my men speak quite highly of this venue. I know they save up their pay for weeks so they can afford a single trip here. The disciplined ones, at least. For myself... well." She taps her mourning veil. "It isn't really what I'm looking for at the moment. But I do like the tea," she 

11:02 <Pluck> adds. "What about yourself?"

11:07 <Alvuea> "Personally?  I'm rather disappointed in their tea."  She looks curiously at the veil again, now that it has been highlighted, "Why are you wearing that in here?  In a place like this, it seems the perfect way to draw a great deal of attention.  Mmm, perhaps I should have thought of that."  She gives that a little laugh, "I had not been here before.  Though

11:07 <Alvuea> I do appreciate its... style.  It is an intriguing dance going on outside this little grotto."

11:09 <Pluck> Pluck looks surprised. "You... you think my garments will attract others?" she asks, sounding a little stunned. "No, no, I am wearing them to engender the opposite effect! They are, um-" The captain shakes her head a moment. "My apologies. These are clothes of mourning."

11:11  * Alvuea nods, "Yes. I do." she looks over you, "If you'd like to keep the attention of others off of you, the key is not to cover yourself. The key is to look as much like the others about as you can." She grins, "It's also helpful, if you can manage it, to have a distraction of some sort. Someone or something that *does* hold all sorts of attention." She reaches

11:11 <Alvuea> over to... touch the veil slightly, "Are you... wearing these to mourn someone?"

11:14 <Pluck> "Ah, well, yes," replies Pluck, wondering when the conversation moved so far away from business. "Someone very dear to me passed away a few weeks ago."

11:16  * Alvuea nods, "Ah, and you have been wearing the garb of mourning for... several weeks? They must have been very close to you. I'm sorry to hear that."

11:20 <Pluck> Pluck looks a little ashamed, and she slowly sips from her tea. "It is unbecoming to continue for so long, particularly in my profession," she admits. "I think... by now, I might be insulting his memory by continuing. Perhaps I will stop."

11:25  * Alvuea looks down and takes another sip of her own tea, and says, "It would certainly help you blend here, a bit less." she pauses, "and I wouldn't mind seeing your face a bit better for our talk. Mmm, how many people do you have in your company?"

11:29 <Pluck> Pluck nods for a moment, and obligingly pulls down the veil. The faintly lined face of a middle-aged woman lies behind it, a face hard and taut by custom if not situation. It is not a face that conceals its owners thoughts or feelings particularly well; it is plain to see traces of shame and regret in her downcast brow. "A hundred and eighty five active personel," replies Pluck. "Many are 

11:29 <Pluck> assigned to other contracts at present, but a regular detail of one or two dozen should suffice for your needs, no?" The captain pauses. "I am keeping some free so that they can be redeployed with great haste as well. Did you know that a Lintha raiding party sacked one of the coastal villages yesterday?"

11:37 <Alvuea> Radiant takes her time, looking over Pluck's face, now that it isn't hidden by the veil.  It is not, rather to Radiant's surprise, a very good mask.  She'd expected a sort of wall, a rigidness to the military woman.  Little Spume would be rather difficult to read... if she weren't so prone to displaying strong emotion by action and gesture, rather than her

11:37 <Alvuea> face.  Radiant looks a bit impressed at the number, "Yes.  That would be plenty.  I would like to... meet them, personally, and... vet them.  A bit of a personal... connection and trust matters very much to me." she looks a little wide-eyed, "No.  I had not heard about that.  All I know about is the Navy has been... gearing up for some serious fighting with

11:37 <Alvuea> the Lintha recently.  What happened?"

11:42 <Pluck> Pluck shakes her head. "The Imperial Navy is presently engaging raksha forces elsewhere. There are no patrol ships paying attention to the island or the archipelago, and so the Lintha are able to attack freely. Lathe itself is secure, of course, but nowhere else." she responds. The woman seems far more comfortable talking about military matters than her personal situation, and she quickly 

11:42 <Pluck> regains her air of professionalism. "We received word of the attack and were able to muster in time to dispatch the raiding party, but it was much too late for the villagers. Only five survived. I tried to discuss the matter with the imperial brass this morning, but of course they do not have a lot of time for a lowly native captain like myself."

11:47  * Alvuea listens intently, horrified at the slaughter "That is... terrible. I can see if I can get you in contact with the right people. I know... a few members of the Navy, at least, and I'm sure I can get you some sort of meeting with more brass. I do not... make any claims on them going well, but I can see about ensuring you can meet them." she pauses, "You're

11:47 <Alvuea> from here?"

11:50 <Pluck> Pluck nods. "I was born in the Lily Pits. I was lucky that the Whistlers recruited me at an early age. I'm proud to say I've given others the same opportunity I was granted."

11:58  * Alvuea smiles, "I'm glad you managed to bring yourself to such a grand improvement in station." a little sigh, "I'm glad you've helped. I've been... trying to help, though... I've mostly focused on the little villages... I try to tour as many of them as I can manage."

12:02 <Pluck> "There's only so much anyone can do," admits Pluck. "I think you are well-positioned, however. The city is like to follow your lead in some ways. Even my own men try to copy your songs, which goes about as well as you'd expect, I'm sure," she adds, grinning an honest smile. "Perhaps... yes, perhaps if you made an appeal during one of your upcoming events, the rich folk might well sit up and 

12:02 <Pluck> take notice of the horrors befalling our sister villages?"

12:04 <Alvuea> A smile crosses Radiant's face, "Do they?  That's absolutely delightful.  Mmm, yes, I can see about that.  Though, if you'd like to just have a meeting with brass, they'll likely be more receptive if I simply talk to the right people... and get you a meeting.  They're likely to get upset and feel terribly manipulated if I make it the focus of a concert. 

12:04 <Alvuea> But... mmm, that doesn't mean it wouldn't work."

12:07 <Pluck> Pluck nods. "I understand. Perhaps it would be unwise to put pressure on them so blatantly. Should they not see reason when next we speak, however..."

12:09  * Alvuea smiles, "You follow. Good. Great. Mmm, when can I meet the fine young men and women you will be sending over to act as guards?"

12:09 <Pluck> "I shall make a detail available for your inspection tomorrow morning." Pluck seems amused. "I think I shall have them compete for the honor."

12:14  * Alvuea laughs. "Excellent. I look forward to meeting them. I'd rather some sort of... meeting, rather than a formal... inspection?"

12:15 <Pluck> "They are soldiers, my lady. A certain amount of formality is necessary for the sake of maintaining discipline..."

12:18  * Alvuea nods, "Mmm, I see. Of course." a bit of consideration, "Yes. Well, I suppose we shall, then... schedule interviews with them... after, so I can speak to them more personally." She laughs, then, not from anything of the conversation, but instead at a sight out in the main area.

12:22 <Pluck> "I understand that as your personal guard, there is a need to build personal trust," replies Pluck, pursing her lips. "My men are professionals, however. Once the contract is signed, they will lay down their lives in your defense."

12:24  * Alvuea nods, "I'm glad to hear it. I'm hoping that won't be necessary, but I will be glad to have the help." she smiles. "Are you worried that something is going to happen here? You seem as though you are preparing for it."

12:29 <Pluck> Pluck purses her lips. "Worrying is my job, and preparing for problems takes up as much time as drilling my troops. But trouble is brewing in Lathe more than I've ever seen before," she replies, plainly. "The Dynasts are tearing apart the Haunches looking for the murderer of that Ragara fellow. Agitators walk freely through the streets. Discontent has been on the rise ever since that new 

12:29 <Pluck> satrap took over, and didn't he manage to do so after pulling off a coup on the previous satrap? As well as our internal trouble, we also have the Lintha and the raksha openly threatening our borders. It seems to me that Lathe is an explosion waiting to happen. I am doing what I can to maintain order, but it won't be enough unless some of these problems go away."

12:32  * Alvuea nods, "No. I don't think your company can quite manage it. But... certainly, you can keep... some spaces, some pockets safe." She sighs, and then smiles, "But perhaps you should take a moment to relax? Enjoy this place while you can. Or... something else, as you prefer."

12:38 <Pluck> "Now that I am here, I don't want to refuse. But if I am here to relax," reflects Pluck, glancing at her tea. "Then I think I shall have something stronger."

12:42  * Alvuea smiles, "Excellent. That sounds much better. Honestly, I think they shouldn't be allowed to call this place a teahouse, serving that." She calls one of the servants over, then laughs, "Now, what would help my new friend relax and enjoy herself?"

12:46 <Pluck> ---

19:36 <TDS> After making sure Bobo is taken care of, Leaf starts writing a letter to Adhyasa. It says: "Adhyasa, I'm afraid our first meeting was not as friendly as it could have been under other circumstances, but I am still excited to know of another group of occult practitioners in the city not under the thumb of the realm. You mentioned that you wish to test how certain I am in the safety of my methods and I believe such a test could be arranged, if 

19:36 <TDS> you were willing to share something about your methods, as well. I would also like to know what your long term goals are, to make sure we are not working against each other. I'm looking forwards to you reply. Silent Leaf.

21:35 <@Carreau> As Silent Leaf places the rolled up letter through the black ring, visualizes the man in the straw hat and whispers out the word, the ring leaps out from her hand and starts spinning wildly around its axis, before flipping into the air and turning into black smoke, disappearing from sight.

21:36 <TDS> Leaf watches the ring disappear with interest, wondering how Adhyasa got it.

21:43   | Alany [] has joined #lathe-ic

22:20 <@Carreau> The ring returns soon enough, flipping into existence in the middle of the room and falling down onto the floor with a neat letter rolled inside it. The handwriting starts out neat but starts to get lazy toward the center, turning into long, swirly strokes that improvise long angles and curves instead of sticking to the orderly calmness of High Realm calligraphy.

22:20 <@Carreau> "Greetings, Silent Leaf. I am glad that you decided to contact me, as it is rare to meet one as capable as you who shares my field of expertise. I do not belong to a group or society of practitioners, my interest in the occult is purely a personal endeavor. I do not have a strong opinion on the Realm; they have yet to interfere with me or my acquaintances and to my understanding they've been quite >

22:20 <@Carreau> > effective at keeping Lathe's foes at bay. What I do possess is a great distaste toward the rampant use of demonic pacting as a path to sorcerous power utilized by both the Hall of Aruspicy and the yozi cults of the Lily Pits. Most of these demon-wrought sorcerers end up with a twisted sense of their role in the flow of Essence that composes Creation. They are willing to compromise their internal >

22:20 <@Carreau> > integrity for short-sighted gain, constructing unsustainable sorcerous workings and worse; ending up seduced by the powers of Malfeas. They will never push themselves to greater challenges, never dip into the wonders of the Sapphire Circle of Sorcery, never build something that leaves a legacy. I find that unsatisfactory. I wish to bend the power of sorcery to shape this world into a greater, more >

22:20 <@Carreau> > glorious version of itself, reminiscent of the wonders of the First Age that mankind has lost to hubris. I cannot do this alone. Thus, I extend you an invitation to join forces with me. In exchange of your cooperation, I will grant you power beyond the lies of the spawn of Malfeas. In exchange of swearing to assist me, I can bestow you with -permanent- power, unlocking your inner knowledge, unboud >

22:20 <@Carreau> > vitality, prowess in battle and cunning in the court. All you have to do is listen, learn and when the time comes, help me. Are you intrigued? -Adhyasa"

22:21 <@Carreau> *unbound

22:22   | Mad [] has joined #lathe-ic

22:33 <TDS> After reading his reply, Leaf quickly writes an answer and sticks it back into the ring. "Adhyasa, thank you for your reply. I agree that most yozi cults are truly pathetic, nothing but pawns for demons to use and discard, but I assure you that it is quite possible to make a more equal pact with a demon, if one has enough leverage and things to offer. Nevertheless, I am intrigued by your offer and a second source of power would be more than 

22:33 <TDS> welcome. I am a very good friend to have and am sure I could repay you and help you when you need me. Perhaps we could meet in person so you can show me what you want to teach me? -Silent Leaf"

22:44 <@Carreau> "I could meet you by the well where we first met in one hour. Bring some refreshments for us to enjoy and a small item of personal significance. You should also wear normal clothing, we're going to be in a social situation." The ring rolls around on the floor, half of the letter's contents written with what appears to be a piece of lipstick.

22:46 <TDS> Oh joy, socialising, Silent Leaf thinks to herself before writing her reply:"I will be there. -Silent Leaf PS: Should I bring you some ink as well? You seem to be running out."

22:48 <@Carreau> The ring flips back in a puff of black smoke. This time it is written in hot, spicy sauce. "No need. I'm just cooking and getting ready. See you soon."

22:51 <@Carreau> Invitations have been sent to all the noteworthy people of the Jade Soma district, offering an invitation to the new grand opening of "The Crayfish", a casino hotel that has recently changed owners. From the looks of it, anyone who is anyone in the Jade Soma district will be in the opening ceremony, and staying out would be considered a faux pas that surely would have nasty repercussions to one's social 

22:51 <@Carreau> > status.

22:53 <TDS> After sending her reply, she begins dressing up in some colourful clothing of moderate quality, something a moderately wealthy trader or craftsman might afford. Of course she includes several dozens hidden throwing weapons, just to be sure, before grabbing some refreshments. After a moment, she also takes a very special throwing knife, the weapon she used when she earned her exaltion as the personal item. Double-checking everything, she 

22:53 <TDS> leaves early to make sure she has time to check the meeting place.

22:59 <Mad> Reading his invitation, Platinum mutters to himself, laughing, "I guess I am noteworthy; I've not been here even a month." He begins his early morning exercises, and continues thinking, "[I should be careful, as there may be other 'anathema' at this party. This place seems like it would draw them; Prince can't be the only one]". Finishing his exercises, he stretches, and heads off to the baths. "Today, huh? I'd better get ready then"

23:04 <@Carreau> As Leaf arrives to the meeting spot, Adhyasa is already there. He is sitting on the same bench, large straw hat still covering most of his face, wearing a plain brown robe with a high collar. He stands up as the woman approaches, bowing his head in greeting. The man is taller than he looked like, and every slender. When standing up, she can see that his features are extremely fair and symmetric with high

23:04 <@Carreau>  >

23:04 <@Carreau> > cheekbones and an angular jaw, long-lashed eyes closed. "Good evening. We are heading to Jade Soma district, there is an opening of a new venue and you shall be my avec." His voice is soft, lilting, and he extends out his hand for the woman to take it. "This is part business, part pleasure. I will teach you certain skills that you will find... necessary in the future."

23:06 <TDS> Leaf takes his hand after a moment of hesitation. "I hope this isn't just a waste of time."

23:09 <Alany> Prince was already half-way out of the door as he read the letter. Quickly writing a small message for Gale on the back that he may be back later, with a small hope in the back of his head that he won't need to be. Packing his sword and newly washed clothes, he quickly set off to explore the site in question. Getting the layout of the place would be a good idea, right?

23:12 <@Carreau> "I assure you, dearest Leaf, that you will find my mentorship more than adequate. If someone asks about your association with me, simply smile and do not respond." The man moves with refined grace, pacing calmly through the Haunches before they reach the ramp leading to the Jade Soma District. Adhyasa comments on small things while they walk, such as the history of a certain noodle bar, the strange >

23:12 <@Carreau> > obsession a certain statue's sculptor had with the nuga and so forth.

23:16 <TDS> Although she is sceptical, Leaf tries to pay attention to what he says, on the chance that it may be important or hide some bigger, secret lesson behind seemingly trivial talk.

23:16 <@Carreau> The Crayfish can be found easily by the flurry of fireworks that opens up from its courtyard, lighting up the Jade Soma District in colors of green, blue and yellow. The complex is a walled-off area of granite stone with sloped tile walls, a large gate leading to the courtyard. The building itself is of wood, with paper-covered sliding doors and windows that show the silhouettes of the people inside when

23:16 <@Carreau> > they are lit by the dozens of colorfully glowing nuga inside. Several dozen people pace about the meticulously raked gravel garden and its limestone pavements, long strings adorned with flags and pennants flying in a soft breeze. On top of the main entrance, an elevated wooden platform, is a large silver statue of a crablike creature with big wooden dice in its pincers.

23:19 <TDS> "It looks pretty nice, this Casino. Do you like to gamble, Adhyasa?" Leaf asks when the Casino gets into view.

23:25 <Mad> Dressed in a fine silk haori over his formal gi, Platinum approached the Crayfish, ticket in hand. Completing his outfit was his katana, Point of Light, which he never went anywhere without. 

23:26 <Alany> Prince was not three steps behind Platinum, with the lack of his eye however he was remarkably unobersvant and did not manage to see him. Walking behind him and waiting to hand his ticket across as well.

23:30 <@Carreau> "More than anything." The man answers cryptically, smiling faint. At the gate to the Casino, a large bald brute of ripped muscle has been stuck inside a tight black tunic and a blue silk scarf. He gives a glance at Adhyasa as they enter and bows his head deep. "Factor." He grumbles with deep respect. The man makes a faint dismissive gesture at that, continuing forward in his very plain robe and straw hat

23:30 <@Carreau> > Two servant girls in black, silver and blue cheongsam are fast to intercept them, offering the man and Leaf crystal goblets filled with a fluorescent yellow liquid. The man disregards them and walks past, before glancing to his partner. "You should never drink what the house offers, but rather ask for whatever you want yourself." He gives a small tip, before proceeding to the entrance. An elderly man >

23:30 <@Carreau> > with a neat topknot in a similarly black tunic and blue scarf shows up, extending his hands. "Factor, it is so good to see you. May I?" Adhyasa lets out a faint sigh, and then runs a finger from his neck down to his navel, the robe unfurling from around him. He pulls off his hat and hands it with the robe to the man. Words don't do him justice. The man draped in an exquisite, glittering silk shirt that

23:30 <@Carreau> > reveals his toned musculature and a soft collar of clothlike metal that shines in five different colors based on the direction. His hair is deep purple with shades of lilac, almond-shaped eyes a shatterstar of bright aquamarine and teal. His expression changes from solemn to an almost boyish grin, a lip piercing of the same metal as his collar adorning the corner of his mouth. The entry hallway turns >

23:30 <@Carreau> > collectively to face the man and one woman faints. "It's the Guild Factor." "Oh, the Guild Factor is here?" Adhyasa makes a small greeting gesture with his hand to the crowd. Someone applauds. He then gently pulls Silent Leaf away from the crowd and starts moving toward one of the gambling rooms.

23:37 <Mad> At the gate, Platinum presents his ticket to the bouncer. "Flawless Platinum Daimyo, here for the opening ceremony"

23:37 <TDS> After staring at his body for several seconds, Leaf gathers herself and asks:"Guild Factor? I didn't realise you were that important. Well, can I assume you'll be paying for my drinks, then?" as she is being pulled along.

23:38 <@Carreau> "Welcome, Sensei. I.. I've been thinking of joining your school, myself." The big brute at the door mutters, bowing to Platinum. "Please enjoy your stay."

23:39 <@Carreau> He lets the warrior pass and doesn't even consider asking for a ticket from Prince, giving the the man proper welcomes with wide-eyed respect.

23:40 <Alany> "Oh?" Prince exclaims "I apologize Sensei!" As he approaches from behind, touching the man's back, giving a small bow with a smile "I didn't see you there!"

23:40 <Mad> "Thank you, and feel free to come by at any time." As he enters, Platinum thinks how much his dojo has expanded. At the current rate, he would need a second assistant instructor to keep up with all the students, and perhaps even a bigger, secondary dojo.

23:41 <Mad> "Oh, hello Prince! You were invited to this as well? I suppose your surviving a fight with the Tiger of Lathe was enough to draw the attention of those who own this place"

23:44  * Alany gave off a small chuckle, internally recognizing that his past actions in the South were entirely meaningless here, refraining from talking about it, he weakly let out the words "I suppose you're right." Slowly walking alongside Platinum, he gestured to the inside "I am surprised you yourself are not planning an event like this, all it would take is someone famous of strong blood in your Dojo and we could proclaim you as the official 

23:44  * Alany Martial Arts of Lathe."

23:45 <@Carreau> Adhyasa looks over to Leaf with a faint smile, as if it is no big deal. "It's not like anyone charges us. Come. Let's roll some dice, shall we?" He moves over to the main table, three people instantly scooting out in the middle of their bets. The man seats himself down, offering a place next to himself to the woman. He then offers a smile at the dealer. The Dealer. The woman from Little Dreams, now >

23:45 <@Carreau> > dressed in extravagant clothing who instantly notices Silent Leaf and her brow twitches a little bit, before she offers a smile. "Welcome, welcome. New round starting. Place your bets." Adhyasa looks over to the markers left behind by the previous players, and pushes them over to Silent Leaf. "She will be my representative."

23:46 <@Carreau> When the master and student walk in, a slightly overweight merchant's woman points at Prince. "Oh look! It's him, the dancer from the City of Steel Lotus!" Her husband peers. "Oh dear, that's true. What happened to his eye?"

23:47 <Mad> "Hah! Perhaps I should find a patron here and do that. My dojo has been growing at an astounding rate. Come, let us drink". Platinum moves into the front door

23:51  * Alany barely manages to catch the Merchant's call, slowly angling their journey towards the two. With a small wave he approaches "Hello there, it has certainly been a long time since I came here from An-Teng hasn't it?" With a short greeting he got to their question, lightly trailing a finger across his petal colored eyepatch "I and the Tiger of Lathe had a small sparring match, we both got a little too into the fight." He paused for a 

23:51  * Alany moment, before gesturing towards Platinum "I apologize, this is Flawless Platinum Daimyo, the owner and instructor of the new and very prominent Dojo."

23:52 <TDS> 'Gambling with other people's money is always fun' Leaf thinks before she makes her bet, betting only a relatively small amount to try and get a feel for the game. Leaf grins at the dealer as she recognises her, but says nothing.

23:56 <@Carreau> The two merchants smile and are really flattered to be talking to a celebrity, introducing themselves as local spice importers. Before they get a chance to get to talking, though, a tall woman of ebony skin and burnt orange hair appears. Cinderlock, the jadesmith. She very calmly moves in between the two pairs and looks Platinum in the eye. "We need to talk." She says calmly, before nodding briefly to the Prince, her eyes wandering about his form until they catch a glimpse of his sword's hilt. Her brow quirks, but then she turns around and starts leading the two toward the banquet hall.

23:57 <@Carreau> The dealer keeps throwing dice, and the odds seem to be against Leaf for the first few rounds. Eventually Adhyasa leans closer and starts speaking in a calm, almost droning voice. "Watch her hands, from the way she curls her fingers, her shoulder's elevation, and who she looks at. She does three glances. You will figure out the many things from that."

00:00 <Mad> Catching up to Cinderlock, and keeping his voice low, Platinum inquires, "Is there a problem?"

00:01 <TDS> Leaf does as Adhyasa says, keeping an eye on the dealer and her fingers. Could she be cheating? It is not her speciality, but she knows some tricks herself, so she tries to see if the dealer is using any of them.

00:01 <Alany> "I apologize, but this is to do with business, if I have time I will talk to you later." He gives a little bow to the couple of traders before following after Cinderlock. His eyes most certainly trying to read her intentions, but seemingly falling on all of the wrong places. Feelings welling up inside him as he began to smirk like a child with his first crush.

00:02 <@Carreau> "Yes. A very big problem." She seems stoic, leading them to the banquet table. The woman is well-built and athletic, but still very feminine. She's dressed in a skin-tight dress of deep red that opens up at the hip down to her ankle, though giving a very reserved amount of cleavage.

00:03 <@Carreau> She points at some shrimp, yeast bread and tomatoes, before glancing over to Platinum. "I went by your house yesterday. There was an Immaculate monk sitting on your roof."

00:05 <Mad> "Oh dear. I do hope they're interested in becoming students." Platinum says it almost comically. Leaning in close, he whispers, "Since they're watching my house, they don't have anything solid, correct?"

00:05 <@Carreau> Silent Leaf notices that the dealer is not cheating, but the way she cups up the dice seems to have a certain pattern to it based on who she is looking at. You could probably start calculating the odds based on the way she throws the dice.

00:05 <Alany> Prince couldn't help but smile, eyes especially followingher dress. Even the proclaimation of the problem didn't seem to phase him. Letting his friend deal with her first, but quirking an eyebrow at their interaction.

00:08 <@Carreau> Cinderlock bends over to reach for a small two-pronged fork on the other side of the table, facing away from the Prince. "I doubt it. He was dressed dark, not the usual robes of the Immaculates."

00:08 <TDS> Leaf leans over to Adhyasa and whispers to him: "She throws the dice differently, based on who she is looking at, to give some people different odds."

00:10 <@Carreau> The man smiles a little at that. "She doesn't know she does it. You can reset her pattern by drawing attention when she is about to roll, forcing her to use the same pattern she uses when she starts by looking at you. Try it."

00:11  * Prince paused for a moment, scratching his eyepatch as his other eyes followed Cinderlock's hips as she bent over "It was a he correct?" He pondered "What was his build?"

00:11 <Mad> Mirroring her action, Platinum grabs a ripe piece of fruit from the table. "Gathering information for a hunt? Or is he merely pretending to be an Immaculate?"

00:13  * Prince quickly, noticing both of the others pretending they were doing things moved his vision away from Cinderlock, searching the table for something exotic and small.

00:15 <@Carreau> "From what I gathered, you've either blown your cover or become associated with." She touches her forehead a little and frowns, before standing back up. "Just be careful, alright?"

00:16 <TDS> Deciding to give it a try, Leaf waits until the right moment, places a substantially larger bet and interrupts the dealer, just as she's about to roll. "So, how is being a dealer? It sounds like it would get boring quickly, always throwing dice and not even getting the enjoyment of winning it usually carries."

00:17 <@Carreau> The Dealer flashes a smile, her pattern reset, before she rolls the dice. "Well, the house always wins." She winks and lets the dice roll out. At Leaf's exact bet. She blinks, looks at the woman and then appears confused. "... Or I guess not."

00:18 <Alany> Prince, taking a small fruit in hand moved back to the two of them "So, Platinum." His blue eyes meeting his "Are you going to introduce me to your friend? Someone in your Dojo perhaps?"

00:18 <TDS> Leaf winks back as she takes her money. "Sometimes the house has to lose, or nobody would bother playing. The trick is to make sure the house wins more than it loses."

00:18 <Mad> Straightening himself, Platinum asks jovially "Shall we dance?" In a whisper for only her to hear, he continues "I went... a little overboard against some Lintha. Would a powerful patron be enough to shield me from the immaculates until their suspicion dies down?"

00:20 <@Carreau> Cinderlock nods a little, ignoring the Prince's questions, as the two move to the dance floor at the other end of the banquet hall.

00:22 <Alany> Prince's face falls. Blinking his eyes a little, he walks straight over to the bar, before realizing he has no money. Dejected, he moves to one of the seats nearby and places his hands on his chin. 

00:23 <Mad> Taking her cue, Platinum almost imperceptibly shakes his head at Prince. And then realizes he hadn't danced in years. He whispers to cinderlock, "I hope I don't mess everything up", and begins to dance.

00:25 <Alany> Prince lets out a long sigh as he watches the two haplessly "manage" to dance together. Almost disgusted by their mediocre performance, his azure eyes quickly attempted to scout out ANYONE nearby that looks even nearly as dejected as himself, before asking them to dance.

00:25 <@Carreau> The two dance correctly, if not particularly impressively. "I heard something about Lintha raiding a nearby coastal village, but their rescue was attributed to some of the local mercenaries. I don't know, looked like he had been there for a while based on how he was simply meditating."

00:28 <Mad> "Hmm. How long ago was this, today? I've not been overt except for the time... I met Prince." Narrowing his eyes, he asks, "What do you think of him, anyways?"

00:29 <@Carreau> Prince's attention gets drawn to a rather awe-inspiring sight, though she tries her best to remain unseen. Dressed in a ceremonial scale armor of green jade, thigh-high boots of polished back and a high-waist skirt of similar leather, the woman is obviously of dragon-blooded heritage. Her hair is light green, tied to an ornate bun over the back of her head, skin light cream in hue, hazel eyes glancing >

00:29 <@Carreau> > about the dance floor.

00:31 <@Carreau> To her back is strapped long, double-edged daiklave with a slight curve to its blade, deep shining green from tip to hilt. Its guard is fashioned as a tangle of ornate brambles, curled about the blade.

00:33 <@Carreau> "I have no idea who he is. Is he trouble?" She glances over to the Prince pouting while they dance, before grimacing a little at the sight of the Prince noticing the dragon-blooded. "... Don't answer that, he's about to go talk to Cynis Siru." She sucks air through her teeth, and then suddenly spins the Daimyo around. "Has he done... anything else that might attract unwanted attention?"

00:34 <Alany> Prince slinks up to her, shedding his colorful outer robe as he went. With careful and precise steps he almost seemed to dance into her vision, his body winding as he took her hand for a moment. Stepping towards the dance floor, he ever so lightly tried to guide her with him to the dance floor, she was however, easily stronger than himself. If she did not wish to go, Servant's hand would eventually leave hers.

00:35 <Mad> "Well, you saw his sword, didn't you? Now, what would you say if I said he beat me in a fight? Apart from that, I'm no- Oh, he lost his eye to the Tiger"

00:38 <@Carreau> The woman blinks, rejects the offer for a polite second so that she doesn't seem too easy, then blushes and gets pulled to the dance floor with the man.

00:39 <@Carreau> Meanwhile, Adhyasa stands up from the table, making a small motion with his hand to cash in the markers for the lady and starts walking toward the banquet hall. "People are predictable. They do patterns, routines, they go about their daily lives not realizing how easy they are to read. You just need to open your eyes to it."

00:42 <TDS> "Hmm, I see. That is certainly a useful talent, but how is it related to what you wanted to teach me?" Leaf takes his arm and follows him, keeping an eye open for any unusual people in the crowd.

00:43 <@Carreau> "There is something I want you to do for me, Silent Leaf." The factor offers the woman a faint glance, before apparently very openly explaining in hearing range to a dozen people. "I need you to acquire three different swords for me. Very special swords, owned by very special people. One of them is here, today."

00:45 <TDS> "Is this some sort of test? And you couldn't say that a bit quieter?" She whispers, looking around to see who heard him.

00:48 <@Carreau> "If you hunch your shoulders and look about warily, people will certainly try to try to eavesdrop on you. What I just did was lift my hand like this, pointing toward the banquet and made a motion to designate a certain space. Whatever I said is irrelevant. People read gestures more than they actually pay attention to what they are hearing." He offers the woman a smile.

00:49 <TDS> "Hmm, I see. So, who has those swords?" She asks, making a gesture as if she was pointing at the decoration, trying to mimic his trick.

00:56 <@Carreau> Adhyasa laughs a little and nods. "The Serpent of the Alembic, Cynis Siru. She is the daughter of the leader of the alchemists' consortium, a Princess of the Earth. Completely unlike her mother, lacks tact and finds interest in application of alchemy rather than its research. She's used as a torturer by the satrap, at times. Rumor has it she can make a--" He quickly asks for a drink from a passing waitress, smiling, and then continues. "She can make even the dead feel the burn of her poisons."

00:57 <TDS> "That's a pretty dangerous thing you ask of me, I hope it's worth it." Leaf already starts looking around, trying to spot her target.

01:00 <@Carreau> Adhyasa stops the woman, takes her by the shoulders and makes her face him, making eye contact. His eyes are almost hypnotic, a swirl of turquoise and dark teal, before he speaks calmly. "You have unlocked many secrets today, you just need to acknowledge them. Do you trust me as your mentor?"

01:02 <TDS> Leaf looks into his eyes and thinks for several seconds before answering. "Yes, yes I do."

01:03 <@Carreau> Adhyasa smiles, closes his eyes, leans a little closer and breathes light against her lips. A strange sensation, as all the pieces of the small details he has taught her today come together like a completed puzzle.

01:11 <TDS> "I....see. I will try to use what you taught me today, then. Wish me luck." With that, Leaf turns away and starts looking for the woman.

01:12 <@Carreau> "Hey." He calls out as the woman is about to turn away, smiling a little bit. "That blowing thing didn't actually do anything. You had learned it all already."

01:13 <@Carreau> Adhyasa flashes a smile and then suddenly gets flocked by a dozen people who all were waiting for him to not be with his avec.

01:14 <TDS> Leaf smiles to herself as she sees her mentor swarmed by people as she turns away, trying to apply his lessons, trying to get a feel for the crowd.

01:15 <@Carreau> Silent Leaf walks over to the banquet hall, only to be met with an amazing sight. The Prince of Dancing Blades, in the full spectrum of motion, and a dragon-blooded woman with her light green hair on a bun, sword on her back, being spun around by him.

01:15 <@Carreau> Everyone else has stopped dancing, having formed a circle around the pair, gasping, oohing and aahing at the sight.

01:17 <@Carreau> "He lost his eye to Jagamaru, how?" Cinderlock pulls Platinum over to the edge of the crowd, talking in hushed voices.

01:20 <Mad> "I don't know all the details, but I think he challenged an immaculate Jagamaru cares about to a duel. In a rage, the Tiger rushed over to the immaculate temple, they fought, and the Prince lost his eye. I met him three days after the fact, when he came to my dojo for training, and I treated his remaining wounds". Shaking his head and chuckling a little, Platinum finishes, "He's really quite a fool".

01:21 <Alany> At the final last step of the performance, Prince leans down and plants a brief kiss on Cynis Siru's lips. His azure eyes staring into hers for just a moment, letting her act if she wished, before bringing them both up to standing point and looking out at the audience.

01:24 <TDS> Leaf frowns a little as she sees the attention the woman receives before the kiss lets her come up with a plan. If she can follow her, she will probably take off the sword and become distracted enough to let her steal the sword. All she has to do is follow the two of them after this party is over.

01:31 <@Carreau> Her lips taste of cranberry and leave a sting to the Prince's lips. The crowd lets out a loud gasp at it, and the Dynast, blushing, sets her hands on the man's shoulders reflexively, starting to deepen the kiss.

01:32 <Alany> Prince simply smiled dumbly, murmuring to her "That does taste nice." Before leaning back in and kissing her back

01:35 <Mad> Hearing the commotion, and looking over, Platinum shakes his head. "See? There he goes again, attempting to seduce an immaculate."

01:36 <TDS> Leaf sighs as she watches the kiss go on."At least get a room first", she thinks.

01:40 <@Carreau> "She's not an immaculate, just a dynast of House Cynis. And she's known for her anima leaking through her skin. Your friend is soon dead." Cinderlock furrows her brow and seems to contemplate interfering, having grown fond of the Prince.

01:42 <TDS> Suddenly, Leaf gets an idea. She looks around for an important looking employee of the casino, maybe even the dealer she knows. After finding them, she pays them an impressive sum of money for their best room for the night and tells them to give it to the Prince and the woman he is kissing as an anonymous gift.

01:42 <Mad> "How soon is soon? So long as he doesn't cross, I should be able to bring him back from the brink of death." Platinum begins maneuvering the two of them to the center of the crowd. "Still, a better position is necessary"

01:44 <Alany> The Prince of Dancing Blades was in a bit of an awkward position. His hand swinging out and clapping with noise on the Cynis' buttcheek. Trying to separate himself from her long enough to murmur out something along the lines of "Later" Or "Room" Or "Privacy" And maybe a little "Are my lips supposed to be stinging this much?"

01:45 <@Carreau> The Cynis lets out an involuntary giggle, moving her hands over to her cheeks in a girlish fashion, looking over at her new Prince charming who is suffering from a lethal dose of her anima.

01:48 <@Carreau> One of the waitresses moves up, smiling, as the crowd starts to disperse and start dancing again. "Lady Cynis, you have been granted access to our luxury suite for the night, courtesy of an anonymous guest."

01:49 <@Carreau> And at that, there's keys in her hands and she's already dragging the Prince towards the suite, cheeks flushed and bursting into giggles.

01:50 <Mad> Looking at Cinderlock, Platinum asks, "Should we follow them? Or does she keep an antidote to her poison with her?"

01:51 <@Carreau> "I think she does. I hope. Um. I think this Prince might be the reason why the Immaculates keep an eye on your house, if you associate with him. If he was the one who made the scene at the temple, that'd be more than likely."

01:52 <TDS> Grinning to herself, Leaf gets herself the suit right next to the luxury suit and follows the two.

01:52 <Alany> Making sure to glasp his hand around her waist as he's being dragged along, he murmured a somewhat desperate "Poison, hurting." And coughing up a bit of blood into his hand after that "Mood isn't ruined."

01:54 <@Carreau> The Cynis blinks, her eyes widening a little. "Oh. OH!" She then unsheathes her double-edged daiklave from her back and with a swift motion brings it up to the man's throat.

01:54 <Mad> "Well, she seems confident he won't die. I just hope I'm not wrong and he ends up dead in the morning" Turning to the rest of the party, Platinum looks for one who might be a worthy patron. "Any ideas on who would be a decent patron for me?"

01:55 <@Carreau> The tip sprouts a black thorn that punctures through the man's skin with a tiny pinprick. The edge of the ornate blade then glows in hues of yellow and verdant green, as the poison gets sucked out of the man's body into the jade, stained slightly red from the blood.

01:57 <@Carreau> She flicks the blade to the side, and splotch of neon green liquid splatters down to the floor. She then repeats the process.

01:58 <Alany> Prince blinked at her Daiklave seemingly was about to kill him. Too surprised to act as the thorn punctures his skin, rubbing it lightly as the pinprick departs "As much as I find it strange to have a sword in the bed, I think we're going to need it tonight." Smiling deviously he wrapped his arm around her waist, slowly leading her upwards to that fabled room.

01:59 <@Carreau> The woman laughs, not apparently one for elaborate words. Once inside, she pulls out a tiny vial from between her breasts, a deep black liquid, that he offers to the man.

02:00 <Alany> He stares at it, unsure of what to make of it as he holds it in one hand. The other tugging at his own clothing.

02:00 <TDS> Leaf follows them and enters her suite next to theirs, deciding to give them a few minutes to get started and properly distracted before she makes her move.

02:01 <@Carreau> She makes a drinking motion, before she starts removing her armor and kicking off her long boots. The suite is large, draped with curtains on all walls, tiny baby nuga placed in glass spheres that hang from the ceiling, glowing rosy and scarlet.

02:03 <Alany> He swigs the entire thing down, his eyes looked around the room before deciding he doesn't even need a bed for this. Bringing the Cynis girl, who remarkably he didn't even know the name of, closer to himself. Starting off the night with another kiss.

02:03 <@Carreau> Cinderlock looks a little miffed as the Prince and Cynis Siru leave together, before resuming her stoic expression. "Well, there are a few. Around here, I think the most influential person is the Guild Factor, Master Adhyasa. That man has never spoken a sincere word in his life, though."

02:07 <Mad> "The guild, hmm. As much as I might dislike their business, they're a useful backer to have. Shall we find him?" As he says this, Platinum pulls Cinderlock with him in search of the elusive factor.

02:07 <TDS> After giving them some time and listening on their door to confirm that they are very 'enthusiastically' at it, Leaf starts picking the lock to their suit.

02:08 <@Carreau> Cinderlock follows Platinum carefully, glancing about the room. "I would be very careful around him. They say he deals with all sorts of dark forces, even ana... Yeah, alright." She concedes, picking up a drink from a nearby platter.

02:10 <Mad> Smiling at the last comment, Platinum sees a crowd of people. Motioning over to it, he asks, "Is that him in that throng? I would imagine so, if he's as important as you say"

02:10 <@Carreau> The ornamental daiklave lies against the bed, which luckily isn't being used right now.

02:10 <@Carreau> "Mmhm." Cinderlock acknowledges. "I just don't know how to get the sycophant's off him. They're ravenous."

02:12 <TDS> Trying to ignore the noises of the two, Leaf sneaks forward, grabs the daiklave and slowly makes her way out again, stopping after closing the door to use her lockpicks to lock the door again.

02:13 <Mad> "I suppose your reputation isn't enough? Is he skilled in combat? I could challenge him to a friendly duel based on news of his martial prowess." Platinum muses over his idea.

02:19 <@Carreau> The daiklave is heavy, but with a little slicking of Essence Silent Leaf is able to pick it up with ease.

02:23 <@Carreau> As the door closes, sounds of very loud passion emanate from the room, the sound of thrashed furniture following.

02:24 <@Carreau> Meanwhile, Cinderlock glances at Platinum. "I don't think he's the fighting type. But you could ask for business opportunities regarding your dojo."

02:24 <@Carreau> "Everyone in Jade Soma seems to have heard of it." She adds, before starting to move through the ground, casually elbowing smaller women out of her way.

02:26 <TDS> "I hope this night was worth losing a daiklave" Leaf thinks to herself as she goes to her suit, straps the daiklave to her body under her clothes so she isn't seen carrying the suspicious weapon away and then goes back to meet with Adhyasa again.

02:27 <Mad> "In that case, this shouldn't be an issue". Moving with her, he makes sure to put the symbol on his back in full display, to murmurs of recognition. 

02:28 <Alany> Switching position once more from against the furniture, The Prince pulled her up into a sitting position. His right hand at her waist to keep her steady, the other slowly stroking her green hair as he leaned forwards to plant a kiss on her lips. Azure eyes softly looking into hers of hazel, his movements slowing as he made the moment just a little more tender.

02:29 <@Carreau> Cinderlock seems to draw the ire of the sycophants, who swarm her and start hissing curses and "get in line" and quite racist remarks regarding her deep ebony skin.

02:29 <@Carreau> This gives Platinum the opportunity to slip past up to the Factor.

02:30 <TDS> Leaf wraps the  daiklave up, straps it to her back and makes her way onto the rooftops of the city to one of her hideouts, to stash the weapon safely. After dropping it off, she goes back to the casino, entering again over the same window she left and going down to the party as if nothing had happened.

02:30 <Mad> Approaching the Factor, Platinum gives a deep bow, putting his haori on full display. "Greetings, Factor. I am Flawless Platinum Daimyo, head of the new dojo in Jade Soma District. May I presume that you've heard of me?"

02:34 <@Carreau> Adhyasa turns from the crowd to the tan man and offers a faint smile. "Ah, Master Platinum. I am Factor Adhyasa, it is a pleasure to meet you. My nephew is a student at your dojo, Danro. Just started recently." He tilts his head to the side, motioning for a waitress and then pointing at his empty glass. "What can I do for you?"

02:37 <@Carreau> Cynis Siru stares back at the man's eyes, pressing her warm skin against the man's. "I do not even know your name, yet you already have made my thorny heart bloom. Praised be Sextes Jylis in his compassion." Considering Sextes Jylis is the patron of abstinence, resisting temptation and his antithesis is short-sighted neglicence, this woman does not know her scripture all that well.

02:39 <Mad> Picking up a full glass from a passing waiter, Platinum takes a sip. "Danro, yes. He shows talent, though I haven't had the pleasure of teaching him yet. And it's along those lines that I come to you. At my former dojo, we had the protection and blessing of the local landlord, which allowed us to focus on training our students. I am in need of a similar relationship, as I've been in Lathe nary a month"

02:40 <TDS> Leaf makes her way to the factor, hooks her arm into his and says. "Adhyasa, I took care of the thing you mentioned earlier, I hope it didn't take too long." Then, she notices the man talking with the factor, smiles and greets them. "Silent Leaf, a pleasure to meet you."

02:41 <Mad> Bowing to the newcomer, he responds, "Flawless Platinum Daimyo. Pleased to meet you"

02:41 <Alany> Prince smiled giddily back, it had been far too long since he had laid with a woman. Or a man murmuring back "Praise Sextes indeed... But the night is long, and we have only just started" Giving her a brief kiss, lean muscular form pressing further against hers.

02:42 <TDS> "I heard you have a dojo here, right?"

02:43 <Mad> "Yes, iaijutsu specifically. The Factor was just telling me his nephew was a student"

02:44 <@Carreau> The Factor smiles, surprisingly sincerely, at Silent Leaf arriving, nodding his head. "I am pleased." He then turns to the man. "Ah, so you would seek my sponsorship? Intriguing. I ... could see it. I do dabble in Western swordsmanship, though it is rather different from the unsheathing techniques taught in your school."

02:46 <Mad> "Of course, there would be benefit for the guild as well. But that is not something to talk of at a place of revelry such as this. Tell me, is the swordsmanship you study a specific style, or general swordplay?"

02:47 <@Carreau> "I've mostly worked on fencing techniques, but I am a bit of a sword collector, so I know this and that from various styles."

02:49 <TDS> "Hmm, you know, I could use something to invest in, as well. I could help you finance a second dojo for a part of the profits, if you're interested."

02:52 <@Carreau> "Ah, well, that could work. Silent Leaf is under my employ, so if you two form a business relationship, you will have my sponsorship. Now, if you excuse me--" He motions over to the sycophants, one of them who has reached to grab Cinderlock by the hair.

02:53 <Mad> "A second dojo? Yes, space is one of my largest concerns. I've had to turn people away with promises of contacting them once I have room in my class rosters. Please, come back to my dojo after the party, or in the next few days, and we can negotiate." 

02:53 <@Carreau> Cinderlock glares at the small woman tugging on her orange hair, squaring her jaw. Adhyasa slides over with a smile, gently thwapping the woman's hand off. "Now, now, that is not how you should treat our dearest jadesmith."

02:54 <TDS> "Yes, I'll make sure to drop by in the next few days. By the way, do you do anything but train people? A martial art is useless if you don't use it, after all."

02:56 <Mad> "Mmh, mostly I've killed Lintha. Though if there's ever an organized tournament in Lathe, I'll no doubt be there. Pardon me, I must take my leave". Bowing to Leaf, Platinum walks back to Cinderlock, taking her arm.

03:00 <@Carreau> Cinderlock gets pulled away from the crowd, which instantly forms a circle around the Factor. The man smiles, waves a little at Cinderlock and then continues socializing with the men and women.

03:01 <TDS> Having nothing better to do, Leaf moves back to the game tables, passing the time trying to apply the lessons the Factor taught her.

03:02 <Mad> "I'm sorry you had to deal with them. But, good news: Silent Leaf, who is under the employ of the Factor, will most likely be investing in a second dojo of mine, which will give me the sponsorship of the Factor without dealing with him directly." Looking refreshed, Platinum goes on, grinning. "It even comes with the benefit of not having to deal directly with the Factor"

03:04 <@Carreau> "That is good. I don't trust the Factor at all. He is too nice." She grunts, before straightening her hair a little bit. She glances up to the stairs leading to the suite, then to Platinum, before her demeanor changes a little, the finger she was straightening her hair with twirling around an orange lock. "You want to get out of here?"

03:06 <@Carreau> Soon enough, Adhyasa shows up at the table with Leaf, sitting down and letting out a long exhale. "Well, brokered a few good deals with Goldenseal and bought a black jade mine from The Caul. Eventful evening. Are you enjoying yourself?" He swirls his drink, taking a sip.

03:07 <Mad> "I wouldn't mind."

03:08 <TDS> "Oh yes, this has certainly been an entertaining and instructional evening." Leaf replies as she places another small bet absent-mindedly.

03:09 <Mad> Glancing up at the suites himself, and shaking his head, Platinum asks her, "Would you like to come to my place? There shouldn't be any students at this hour, and I'm the only resident of the building"

03:10 <@Carreau> He makes a feint with his hand, as if pointing at something. "I really dislike these events, but it comes with the job. I prefer quiet walks in the Haunches, noodle bars where nobody knows me, reading in natural light on my terrance in the Heartworks."

03:10 <@Carreau> Cinderlock nods eagerly, taking the man's hand and very obviously leaving with him so that the rumors will reach the Prince's ears eventually.

03:12 <TDS> "I can understand that, it must be pretty annoying how everyone clusters around you as soon as you show up. I've never had that problem."

03:14 <@Carreau> "It's... flattering, but also very lonely." He admits, before setting his drink on the table. "You can't show your true face to these people. They wouldn't understand."

03:14 <Mad> Realizing what she was doing, Platinum internally sighs. Still, she was beautiful, and he respected her skills. As they left the party for the dim lights of the city, he pulled her close to him

03:15 <TDS> "I see what you mean. Is that why you help people like Bobo?"

03:17 <@Carreau> He gives the woman a sideways glance and his lips curl up to a smile. He sucks in his lower lip, nibbling on the piercing before laughing a little. "I guess. You can get to know people in the Haunches. Here, it's masks upon masks. You can see through the masks yourself, but it's like there are a dozen walls built between even the closest people. It's a marriage where the couple holds hands in public and sleeps in different rooms." 

03:19 <@Carreau> Cinderlock gingerly places her hand onto Platinum's waist, suddenly feeling a little shy, casting down her eyes and intently staring at the man's chest instead of his face. "I... I had fun tonight, with you." She then finally vocalizes. "Perhaps we can go together some time."

03:20 <TDS> "So, want to tell me what you plan to do with those swords?"

03:21 <Mad> "I agree. Let's go to the next one for pleasure, and not let any business get in the way"

03:24 <@Carreau> Cinderlock nods a little, and her firm hold of the man's hand turns a little more gentle, a little more sincere. She entwines her fingers with his, and then starts walking toward the dojo.

03:29 <@Carreau> Adhyasa looks at the woman for a moment, as if evaluating whether he should tell her or not. After a moment of silence, he then starts to explain. "I have to tell you a little bit about me for you to understand. My father was a Factor before me, ruled over An-Teng. The Guild was having... trouble. The locals had strong underground unions that kept the business from the Guild's hands. They kept the >

03:29 <@Carreau> > resources of the region tightly under control. When the new trade routes started opening, he wanted to make sure the Guild would be in control of them. This meant the shipments from the Caul and further had to be unsuccessful. He made it happen by making a deal with my mother."

03:31 <@Carreau> He orders a new drink, his brow furrowing a little, before he finally finishes. "One hundred and one men. One hundred and one women. That was the price. They rounded them up from the deserts of the South. Tribals, nomads, what have you."

03:33 <@Carreau> Adhyasa waits for a moment, as if letting the information sink in, before continuing. "My mother, you see, has a thirst that cannot be quenched with water or mango wine. She craves despair. A peculiar kind. The terror of realizing one is about to drown."

03:35 <TDS> "I think I know what kind of being your mother is." She motions for him to continue.

03:39 <@Carreau> "Their working relationship became close. My father, always, was a stern man - unshaken by superstition, pleads or movements of the heart. I was born in a palace of corals deep beneath the sea. My... mother lost interest in tormenting me eventually, and sent me to be with my father. I got to spend five years with him, before one evening he looked me in the eyes, told me that he finally realized that he loved my mother and--" He breathes deep. "--Drowned himself in the cistern beneath our mension. So, I inherited him, and his position."

03:40 <TDS> "That's---" Leaf puts an arm on his shoulder. "Horrible to hear. I'm sorry I brought it up."

03:44 <@Carreau> He swirls the drink in his glass, before reaching with his free hand to place his palm over her knuckles. "I did not love him. But that leads us to the swords. There is a spell, a very peculiar one. It requires three very distinct types of components. The fang of a venomous dragon. The freezing breath of a mountaintop." He then looks over to her, rather stern.

03:46 <@Carreau> "And the roaring fire of insurgency. With those three combined, a spell can be woven that will tear apart the strongest of fae magics. It will freeze the drifting coral palace in place, poison its guardians and then destroy the very freehold."

03:47 <@Carreau> He finishes his drink and flicks the goblet to its side. "I plan to destroy the Pearl Court's seat of power."

03:48 <TDS> "I see. You plan to do the insurgency last, I assume."

03:48 <@Carreau> He stretches out his arms and nods a little bit, before bursting into a soft chuckle. "Indeed. For the bearer of that blade is none other than our beloved satrap, Cathak Ogata."

03:50 <TDS> "Well, as long as you continue to teach me, I suppose we have a great partnership. Can you tell me where you want me to drop off the daiklave?"

03:51 <@Carreau> "You can bring it to my estate in the Heartworks, if you want. Everyone thinks you work for me, so it shouldn't be a problem. If you are hesitant, I can pick it up from the well by the square where we meet, too."

03:52 <TDS> "No, it's okay, I'll bring it to your estate. I should show up there from time to time if we pretend I work for you."

03:53 <@Carreau> "Pretend? I do plan on having you help out for real from time to time. I might need a bodyguard soon." He laughs fake-nervously and rubs his temple.

03:54 <TDS> "As long as you pay me for real, I don't mind. Just be warned, I have other things to do, too."

03:56 <@Carreau> "Naturally." Adhyasa smiles a little. "Can you go retrieve today's prize and bring it over? I can't wait to get started."

03:56 <TDS> "Certainly. I will see you there." She says as she gets up and makes her way through the crowd.

04:09 <@Carreau> The Factor's mansion lies on an elevated platform in the Heartworks, surrounded by lush gardens and a high wall. Three bridges lead to it, one spiraling down the artificial park dominated by the lake. The building is two stories high, of white and aquamarine marble, composed of many long corridors with arch-tipped pillars supporting it.

04:11 <@Carreau> The gates are guarded by two men in fine lamellar armor, helmeted and wielding long polearms. They salute in the moonlight as Leaf makes her way to the mansion, letting her enter.

04:11 <TDS> Admiring the mansion, Leaf approaches over one of the bridges, enjoying the novelty of not having to sneak into the fancy mansions.

04:13 <@Carreau> Adhyasa has changed into a long silvery kaftan with a high collar, as well as baggy silk pants wrapped around the ankles. He lounges on an exquisite leather divan in a spacious room that has a view to the park, seen through a large glass window covering most of the wall. "He lifts his drink as a greeting, seemingly drinking juice of some sort."

04:14 <TDS> "You have a really nice mansion. I suppose that comes from being a guild factor." She takes the sword, wrapped in a piece of cloth, from her back. "Here is the sword."

04:16 <@Carreau> Adhyasa chuckles soft at that, receiving the blade to his hands. It weighs down on his hands for a moment, before the attunement breaks and reweaves itself. He then lifts it up with ease, grinning and unfurling the cloth. Standing up after setting his drink to the floor, he then makes a few quick slashes in the air, marveling the craftsmanship.

04:17 <@Carreau> At the same time, in the heat of passion, Cynis Siru lets out a scream of rage instead of pleasure, throwing the Prince off herself and exploding out of the bed, reaching for a sword that is no longer there.

04:18 <TDS> "Oh boy, she probably noticed it disappearing right about now. I'd pay a decent sum to see her reaction right now. From a safe distance, of course."

04:20 <Alany> Prince is thrown off into the wall, groaning as he's smashed against the wood. Not catching himself, he slides down to the floor. Looking up blearily at Siru as he parts his blond hair.

04:20 <@Carreau> "Her reactions are irrelevant. Look, here. This wood is actually still alive. It was quenched in the sap of a tree that was planted on the same day the blade's forging began. It's exquisite." He marvels, moving about the place while cutting the air. "It is called the Spring Razor, crafted by one of the slayers of the dragon Vasshir by the name of Shoku Pan."

04:22 <TDS> "Will the ritual destroy the blades or do you just need to have them present? It would really be a shame to destroy such a wonder of craftsmanship."

04:22 <@Carreau> "The razor! It's gone!" The Cynis screams, her anima blossoming poison, sickly yellow fungal tendrils sprouting from her shoulders before opening up into nauseating, droopy lotus flowers.

04:23 <@Carreau> "It will not harm the blade. I will only tap into its Essence briefly. A process I am afraid I am hesitant to show you yet."

04:25 <TDS> "Oh, that's a relief. It's a shame I don't really use swords all that much, or I'd ask for one of them once you are done."

04:26 <@Carreau> He looks to her and purses his lips in thought. "No, that is good. I will give you this one, if you wish, once I am done with it. I can teach you how to use it."

04:26 <Alany> Prince was a little confused, mainly being thrown off and after an extended session of long sex. He moves forwards, shaking a little with his steps as he wraps Siru into a hug "Now is not the time for anger Siru." He stated, almost coldly "Think. Who could want it, where can we go to search and who we can search with."

04:26 <@Carreau> He then points the blade at her. "I mean I will let you -borrow- it as long as you are in my employ."

04:27 <@Carreau> "Who'd want it!? It's one of the prized possessions of my House! My mother will have my head for this!" She lets out a frustrated scream, falling to her knees before she starts tearing at her hair, pulling tufts of green hair off.

04:28 <TDS> "Thank you, even though that probably won't be necessary very often. Lunging such a big blade around can be a hindrance and make me a target for its original owner."

04:31 <@Carreau> "Well, there might be times when you will find it... useful. Acquiring the second weapon will be a lot harder."

04:31 <TDS> "I can imagine that. Who has the second weapon?"

04:33 <@Carreau> "A certain Lintha captain. Trueblood. Very dangerous." He makes a few more swings, before flicking the sword absently to the divan.

04:34 <@Carreau> Siru turns into a twitching, sobbing mess, hugged by the blonde Prince on the floor.

04:34 <Alany> "Not if you get it back." He almost whispered, trying to still her hands "It has not been two hours, Lathe is small and we are fast." He paused, stroking her green hair slowly "Come now, tell me about the Razer. Sobbing will do us no good."

04:35 <TDS> "Hmm, it will be a lot harder to steal from a Lintha captain, but I could probably get myself some help. Nobody likes the Lintha, and I think the man wanting you to sponsor his dojo said he had fought the Lintha. Perhaps we could ask him for help?"

04:36 <@Carreau> "Wonderful. You're already networking. I'll try to figure out his whereabouts, if you organize a force to take them on." He stretches his arms a little bit, before looking at the woman. "Is there anything else you wish to do or talk about?"

04:38 <TDS> "Hmm, I've been looking for a place to live in the city and haven't found anything safe enough yet. I thought maybe you know some reliable people and a source of quiet servants that won't betray my secrets."

04:39 <@Carreau> "You could live here." He motions about himself with a laugh, before crashing onto the divan and patting the green daiklave. "But if you want, I can organize lodging in the Haunches or Jade Soma."

04:40 <TDS> "The Haunches would be preferable, I think. I have a number of contacts there I'd like to keep near me. I think that is everything for now, we'll stay in contact with the ring."

04:41 <@Carreau> Adhyasa dips his head. "Very well. I am glad our relationship has gotten this good as fast as it has."

04:45 <TDS> "As am I. I'll stay in touch." With that, Leaf turns away and returns to Nyu's place, ready to wind down and relax after a productive day.

04:53 <@Carreau> Factor Adhyasa, with his new trophy, descends down into the depths of his basement and into his ritual chamber lined with rainbow-hued serrated crystal that glitter in the light of the freely-moving nuga scurrying in the cracks. His kaftan falls by the door, and the man kneels down at the center, holding the blade up by his palms at chest level. He closes his eyes and focuses on his breathing, each inhale bringing forth surges of ancient formulae and Old Realm glyphs that manifest in the colorful shadows of the chamber as ephemeral calligraphy. His fingers curl into the wood-and-jade blade, feeling the venomous dragon's fang pulsating at its core, synchronizing his Essence with its flow. "Speak to me, Spring Razor, speak to me of your slayers." The blade responds with a soft green glow, flashes of a terrifying combat occurring in the forests of the deep East. Trees collapsing, terrestrial heroes bounding from branch to branch, the dragon flashing its wings out to deflect a hail of arrows. "Speak to me, Spring Razor, of your thousand-forged intoxication." The dragon's mane blooms poison that turns the forest black, sapping it of life. "Spring Razor, fang of Vasshir..." The Factor's eyes open, the teal and aquamarine now tainted with the deepest of emerald green, tracers of Essence streaming from the blade into his chest, shoulders and eyes. "Teach me your deathspell."

04:59 <@Carreau> The sword starts floating on its own, lifting from the man's hands, spiraling in the air and sending forth surges of Eastern Essence, serpentine images radiating verdant in a corona about its pummel. Factor Adhyasa bursts into laughter, extending out his arms, as the room lights up with blinding light, consuming both man and sword until their spirits touch and bond for the briefest moment, imparting ancient secrets through a sublime connection only few have ever known.

05:05 <@Carreau> Cynis Siru soon eases into her lover's hold, calming down eventually, before shaking her head. "It could be anywhere. It is a family heirloom, passed down for centuries."

05:07 <Alany> "Think." He stated firmly "No one would risk stealing from you unless they were in a powerful position, much more they'd have to have an escape route out of here to carry something so large." He paused, thinking to himself "Do you know anyone good at tracking? I can talk to the staff and see if they have heard anything, from there we can work to finding a culprit, and hopefully then bring it back to you."

05:08 <@Carreau> The dynast falls into instant apathy, laying limp against the lover, depressed and listless. There is no reaction, her head hanging loosely against his shoulder.

05:10 <Alany> With a long swing of his hand, his palm impacted upon her bare buttock once again "Snap out of it and think." Prince almost seemed to demand, taking action as he slowly picked up his disgarded loincoth "I'm going to start investigating, if you're not out here then I'll do it myself."

05:11 <@Carreau> "I need opium." She mewls quietly and starts rolling under the bed to demonstrate how she loathes the world.

05:13 <Alany> Prince turns, moving over to her and grabbing her by the shoulders "Give me something that proves your authority."

05:16 <Alany> "If you will not do it." He grasped her by the chin "Then I'm doing it for you, and I'll make sure that opium is sent." He stated firmly.

05:23 <@Carreau> The Cinus girl sighs and pulls off a signet ring, flicking it at the man absently. "And I want a massage." She then adds and climbs into the bed, naked, burrowing her face into the pillows.

05:23 <Alany> Prince exits the room. Quickly with the seal of the Cynis girl he searches for the owner of the establishment, making sure to hold the ring tightly and safely as he stroke wearing just his loincloth.

05:28 <@Carreau> A slightly intoxicated couple walks past the Prince. "I just -can't- believe Cinderlock and that swordsmanship teacher are an item. Did you see how they held hands? I swear, you won't hear the end of it." He laughs and steers her toward their room.

05:30 <Alany> "Really?" Prince raises an eyebrow a smile coming across his face "Man, I always thought Platinum was always too stiff for that." More spoken to himself as he tried to find whoever owned this establishment.

05:30 <@Carreau> One of the waitresses in a black and silver cheongsam comes to meet the man, smiling a little while eyeing the man's barely clothed body. "May I help you, my lord?" She curtsies a little.

05:31 <Alany> He crossed his arms, smirk falling into a scowl "Tell me where the owner of the establishment is." Simply asking without the ring at first "Or whoever is currently in charge."

05:32 <@Carreau> "Ah, well, the owner has withdrawn for the night. I can help you with whatever you need in her stead."

05:32 <Alany> "You are in charge then?" He asked.

05:34 <@Carreau> "I am ... authorized to help the guests, yes. What is this regarding?" She smiles a little, though she feels perhaps a little intimidated by the man's forceful approach.

05:37 <Alany> Prince held up the ring "Then you will help me by bringing me to whoever gives the orders around here, you will also bring two messengers to me and a carriage." He stated firmly, grasping his sword in the other hand "Am I understood?" 

05:40 <@Carreau> She peers at the ring, and then pulls back. "I will need to know the subject of the matter to rouse my superior, I apologize. The messengers and the carriage can be easily arranged, though."

05:43 <Alany> "Cynis Siru" He growled "And I will say nothing else on the matter, lest you wish to end up with her under interrogation" Gripping his sword tightly by his side.

05:45 <@Carreau> "... Very well. I shall be right back. The carriage will be at the door very briefly, as will the messengers." She then bows and scurries off.

05:47 <Alany> The man quickly called another servant to him, asking for pen and paper. Enough for two messages.

05:50 <@Carreau> Two scrolls and quills are brought in with a ready-wetted inkstone.

05:54 <Alany> Upon these pieces of paper, if he has them, he hurriedly scrawls upon one the following: "Tiger of Lathe, Cynis Siru has had her most precious stolen from her this night. It is of the utmost urgence that you intercept her carriage to find out the details, before meeting with myself at the Casino: The Crayfish." The other was titled to Gale "I apologize for relying upon your services as it is, however an event of great importance has occurred and I require your assistance." To the Servants he inquired if either of them were actually in attendance. 

05:55 <@Carreau> Meanwhile, in the darkness of the dojo, two bodies are entwined, rich ebony skin in contrast to islander's tan, fingers clasped, their motions matching each other much like the ebb and flow of martial arts katas.

05:55 <Alany> He also signed the letter to Jagamaru with an imprint of the Signet ring.

05:57 <@Carreau> The workers at the Crayfish tell that no, these two are not in attendance, and nobody knows a "Gale".

05:58 <Alany> He shrugs at that, waiting for the messengers and carriage to arrive. He also signalled for them to get a massager and opium ready for the carriage.

06:00 <@Carreau> A young bald man with a small pouch and a pipe is at the ready while the Prince in his loincloth barks orders.

06:01 <Alany> All he had to do now was wait for the supervisor and the messengers.

06:04 <@Carreau> Soon enough, a rather tired-looking woman shuffles up in a kimono, hair in a bun. "My lord, how may I assist you?" She mumbles, stifling a yawn.

06:04 <Alany> With a wave of his hand he sent every single person he could out of the room, making sure the two of them have privacy.

06:05 <Alany> Complete, privacy.

06:05 <@Carreau> She shrugs a bit and waves them off, closing a panel door and waiting.

06:07 <Alany> "You will organize in three hours time for all of the staff regardless of their position or station to organize outside, this includes people who have left, asleep or busy, I will not accept no for an answer" He commanded, flashing the ring as he held his sword in the other hand "If you do not then I will have to mark you as a conspirator in this against Cynis Siru and by extention The Realm." 

06:08 <@Carreau> She looks at the signet, then she looks at the man. "What is this about?"

06:09 <Alany> "Until you comply with me and send these orders, I can't tell you that." Calmly and professionally he spoke "Needless to say, it's of the utmost importance."

06:11 <@Carreau> "Look, I don't think you understand how this works." The old woman says calmly, before sitting down and pulling out a pipe. "Cynis Siru is a valued customer, certainly, but she's of the weakest house in all of Lathe."

06:12 <@Carreau> "So how about you explain this thing before I have you kicked out of my establishment?" She flashes a fake-friendly smile, lighting her pipe with a blue-flame stick.

06:15 <Alany> "Tell me, what in this world rivals a Terrestrial?" He asked circling and finding a chair "And what exactly would someone of that power want with a powerful artifact?"

06:19 <@Carreau> "Stop beating around the bush, kid." The woman blows out a ring of smoke. "And get to the point."

06:22 <Alany> "An Anathema has stolen Cynis Siru's sword." He bluntly put "Both the immaculate order and the Satrap, Cathak Ogata need to be alerted as such." He paused "I realize this may not be good for you, considering they blatantly stole from a Dynast house on your opening day and there has not been a single word about it, so keeping it quiet would be in your best interests and allowing us to deal with it quickly, yes?"

06:23 <@Carreau> "An Anathema." She snorts at that. "Yeah, right. You think this is the first time artifacts go missing? Have you been completely blind to the cloak and dagger going between the Imperial Navy and the local houses?"

06:26 <@Carreau> She pushes at her pipe with the stick. "So a Terrestrial lost their sword. What're they going to do, tell us that we should've been more alert for intruders than one blessed by the Dragons? Was this really her idea, blaming it on Anathema? That girl has no tact."

06:29 <Alany> "If I do remember, the Imperial Navy is busy with a certain problem." He commented, before cutting her off "On top of this, I am the one to blame here. I am not asking or penalizing you or your establishment, I merely wish to interview the servants. Sure, it could all be the cloak and daggers, but I am going to find out, and I would be very thankful if you would co-operate with me."

06:32 <@Carreau> "See, if you had tried that in the first place I wouldn't think you're a blathering half-naked idiot, my lord. I'll ask around my staff and report to you. You go put some clothes on and leave your contact information to one of the girls." The old woman stands up, sighs, and shakes her head before pushing the panel door open. "If you want more help than that, go find Lady Cynis' mother." She then disappears.

06:32 <@Carreau> rs.


06:36 <@Carreau> "See, if you had tried that in the first place I wouldn't think you're a blathering half-naked idiot, my lord. I'll ask around my staff and report to you. You go put some clothes on and leave your contact information to one of the girls." The old woman stands up, sighs, and shakes her head before pushing the panel door open. "If you want more help than that, go find Lady Cynis' mother." She then leaves.

06:45 <Alany> "Wait." He asked, tone softening as he undid his loincloth, sitting down on the bed he crossed his legs to hide himself "I wish to interview them personally."

06:47 <@Carreau> Meanwhile, in the dojo, Cinderlock curls against Platinum and lays her head against his shoulder, hand trailing along his chest in absent, spiraling patterns. She shifts a little and looks up to the man, puzzled, before nuzzling closer. It seems like she wants to say something, perhaps about why she originally suggested this, but has a hard time coming up with words.

06:49 <@Carreau> The old woman looks at the man and simply shakes her head as if if pitying the delusional man's aspirations.

06:49 <Mad> "You don't have to say anything if you don't want to" Platinum whispers to her

06:49 <@Carreau> *-if

06:50 <@Carreau> She curls her fingers at that, as if to demonstrate she does want to say something, but is unable. Relaxing after a while, she then gets distracted by an errant thought. "Where are you going to set up the second dojo?"

06:52 <Mad> "I haven't decided. Somewhere close, close enough that I can walk over in a few minutes, but not so close that you can hear it from here."

06:58 <@Carreau> "You could be a philantropist and set a secondary dojo in the Haunches. Maybe not as profitable, but it'd garner you a lot of goodwill."

07:03 <Mad> "The Haunches? That's actually a fairly good idea. I'll talk with Silent Leaf about it when she comes by to negotiate terms, though I doubt it would be an issue." Platinum is quiet for a time, then asks "How goes your weaponsmithing?"

07:08 <@Carreau> "Less weapons, these days. I'm starting a new project for the satrap, red and black jade bracers and shinguards. It's... coming along."

07:11 <@Carreau> She then leans to place a shy kiss on the man's jaw, before withdrawing to the safety of his armpit. "I'm not sure about that woman, Silent Leaf. She seemed a little too friendly with the Factor. That's never a good thing."

07:13 <Mad> "He probably trusts her far more than any of his underlings, in that case. So long as we keep at business distance we should be fine"

07:16 <@Carreau> "Is there more to you than swordsmanship?" She then quietly asks, moving a hand to brush his hair above his ear. "What do you dream of?"

07:21 <Mad> "You know how the martial arts are. They ask you to dedicate your life to them. I also hate the Lintha, almost to the point where I wish I could just slaughter them, but revenge will leave you hollow and broken. I... want to live a happy, peaceful life, but I have an urge to do great things. Like with coming to Lathe. Why here? There's countless small islands that I could have taken root on and spent the rest of my life teaching, but instead I came here, and have become the newest celebrity of Jade Soma." 

07:25 <@Carreau> "I'm glad you did. And I do think you will do many great things. You just have to be very careful, um." She takes a moment, before recalling his name from before. "Platinum."

07:34 <Mad> He blows in her face for forgetting his name. "Silly Cinderlock, what will I do with you if you can't remember my name? Don't worry though, I will be careful. I lost my temper a little at a fight with the Lintha and was more obvious than I should have."

07:36 <@Carreau> She hides her face against his chest and laughs, embarrassed, before stretching out her arm to hug him. "As long as you are careful." After a moment, her breathing starts getting calmer, and she then whispers; "Do you mind if I stay the night?"

07:37 <Mad> Smiling, he responds, "Is that even a question?"

08:27 <@Carreau> Two days have passed since the opening of The Crayfish casino. Several people from the event, along with a selection of the actually rich and famous, have received invitations to join the Factor for brunch. The sun is shining through the opening of the Heartworks to the beautiful, lush garden of the mansion built on a large platform that lies suspended several dozen yards above the lower level. A large table has been lined heavy with various delicacies from fruit to fluffy, freshly baked bread. Mango wine and juice is served by the glass by dutiful attendants in the Factor's purple, people sitting on the veranda or in the garden. Several dynasts are also in attendance, but they stick together for the most part, looking down at the park below.

08:30 <Mad> Relaxing in the sun that he hasn't seen for quite a few days, Platinum drinks mango juice - it's far too early for wine - and munches on bread, looking for people he might know.

08:34 <@Carreau> The people, for the most part, are completely strange to the newcomer to the city. There are names thrown around like "Magister of Commerce" and "Leader of the Spicetrader's Union".

08:34 <Alvuea> Brunch is always a nice way to spend a morning, besides, a bit of conversation with some of the wealthy Dynasts, Radiant might be able to get a bit more help for the villages... though she knows it's a rather questionable subject to bring up at such a relaxed gathering.  However, in she enters, a vision in emerald today, as she accepts a glass of the wine,

08:34 <Alvuea> which she sips slightly, and begins with simple pleasantries with some people, "Oh, I'm sorry you missed that show.  I have another one coming up in a few days... last one before I go for a bit of a tour, if you can manage to find a ticket."

08:44 <@Carreau> After a while, the host shows up, and the guests give him a round of applause. The man has his purple hair down for a change, wearing a silver-and-white kaftan with a high collar and a deep crimson silk shirt underneath. His face is fair, jaw angular and cheekbones high, with strikingly aquamarine eyes almost shining in the sunlight. An old scar crosses horizontal over his nose, a small hoop piercing the side of his mouth. "Thank you, thank you, please, continue. It is so nice to see you all here. With the gala cancelled due to the recent trouble to the West, I wanted us to have a chance to get together and enjoy each others' company. Don't let me keep you. The bread is freshly baked, rye flour imported from the mainland. My chef is quite miraculous, please try it."

08:45 <@Carreau> He then moves over, picks up a glass and starts looking for someone with his gaze, ignoring the two older ladies who are trying their darnest to chat him up.

08:47 <@Carreau> He then notices Platinum, and offers the man a polite nod, hands clasped behind his back.

08:48 <Mad> Seeing the nod, Platinum stands up and walks over, giving a small bow. "Hello Factor. I hope your day is going well."

08:49 <@Carreau> "Ah, Master Platinum, it is so great you could come. Well." He motions over to the sun shining to the garden. "As you can see, everything is bright and sunny, just like my mood. Say, did you manage to hammer out details with dearest Silent Leaf?" At that, before he answers, his eyes start trailing after a certain feminine figure, mouth unwittingly opening a little at the sight.

08:52 <Mad> "That's excellent to hear. I too feel as bright as the day; I lived my whole life on an island in the sun, and Lathe has taken some getting used to. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to meet with Silent Leaf; we haven't had a time we're mutually free."

08:57 <@Carreau> "Ah, yes, scheduling can be quite the hassle. Say, are you familiar with our Lady Radiant over there." He motions toward the woman's direction with his drink. "Finest voice in all of the South-West, I'd say. I saw her performance a while back, truly touching. Have you two met, yet?" He seems to be more interested in using the excuse to go talk to the woman than sincerely introducing the two.

08:59 <Mad> Looking over at the woman he means, Platinum searches his brain. "No, I can't say I have. It sounds like a wonderful experience, would you mind introducing me?"

09:08 <@Carreau> The Factor flashes a smile and starts leading the swordsman toward the songstress, offering a few hellos and good-to-see-you's while they pass other people. While on their way, he gives the man a quick sideways glance and leans closer to quietly add; "An unfortunate event happened during her concert a few weeks ago. A murder of a moneylender of House Ragara. I do hope she has recovered."

09:10 <Mad_Rubicant> Keeping up the cheerful face for the other guests, Platinum quietly responds, "Oh dear, that's terrible. Has the killer been found?"

09:10 <Alvuea> Radiant has been been busy thus far at the brunch, admirers to be found at all ranks, and they rather expect much more of her time here among the wealthy.  However, eventually she manages to clear herself enough space to actually get to some of the food, rather than merely sipping at her wine as others talk.  She collects a piece of the excellent bread... which does remind her very much of home, delightful breads having been a rather more common thing in that farmland, and eats bits of it slowly.

09:11 <@Carreau> The Factor shakes his head a little at that. "The satrap's men have been turning the Haunches upside down. They say the killer was twisted by the Wyld, though, so it should not take too long."

09:14 <Mad> Thinking to himself, Platinum wonders, "[Twisted by Wyld? No, it couldn't be. What are the odds, after all?]". Slightly worried, he inquires further. "How was the man killed? As a warrior myself, a killer wandering around worries me."

09:17 <@Carreau> "Mmh, decapitation by a slashing sword, followed by a plummet from the Jade Soma district to the Haunches." Hastening his pace a little bit to block off yet an another fan from reaching Radiant, the Factor slides next to Radiant and extends out an arm to create space for Platinum to arrive by his side. Bowing his head courtly, he then offers the woman a broad smile. "Lady Radiant, you are even more >

09:17 <@Carreau> > beautiful in natural light than I could've imagined. Welcome to my humble adobe, I am Factor Adhyasa, the Guild's representative in Lathe."

09:19 <Mad> Now more than slightly worried, Platinum whispers to the Factor, "I think I need to talk to you about that later", before turning to Radiant and bowing. "Greetings, Lady Radiant. I am Flawless Platinum Daimyo, head of the Mani iaijutsu dojo in the Jade Soma District."

09:34 <Alvuea> Radiant smiles to the Factor, she's not entirely a fan of the man, she prefers a rather more straightforward sort, rather than the somewhat duplicitous nature of the man.  However, he's important, and decent enough... and this is, after all, his brunch.  So, she gives him a bright smile, "It is a pleasure, Factor.  Thank you very much for having us all here,

09:34 <Alvuea> you're a fantastic host."  She then turns and returns but the slightest of bows back to Platinum, and smiles, "Ah, it is a pleasure to meet you, Platinum.  I believe I have heard of you... though hardly of your Dojo.  Do tell me, what is a 'Mani iajutsu'?"

09:38 <Mad> Laughing at her mistake, Platinum shakes his head. "No, no, the art is iaijutsu, that of drawing your sword and slaying the opponent in the same action. The dojo is named Mani, after the island I come from."

09:42  * Alvuea smiles, "Ah. I see! Well, that seems rather like the goal of every fighting style, wouldn't it? A single swing? What if your opponent has a sword as well, and perhaps theirs is out? Or is it not for such a situation?" she inquires.

09:43 <Mad> "Well, in that case, you must be faster. If you could give me a wood and straw dummy, I could show you what I mean, and the speed of a master."

09:45 <@Carreau> "Shall we organize such a demonstration?" Muses the Factor, motioning a servant over. "Bring one of those bamboo stalks from the atrium and set it to the yard so Master Platinum can demonstrate his style, will you? Thank you." He then turns to the two with a smile.

09:45  * Alvuea comments, "I don't think such things are common fare for brunch. We could find a larger servant and a baguette? Would that suffice?" she inquires playfully, and then laughs, "In any case, your school must be doing well. I don't think too many such dojos manage dates with jadesmiths."

09:46 <@Carreau> Adhyasa flashes Platinum a boyish grin at that, shrugging his shoulder a little as if to say 'the grapevine is what it is'.

09:50 <Mad> Blushing ever so slightly and scratching his head, Platinum responds. "Oh my, has that rumor gotten that far? Well, we did leave arm in arm, so it's to be expected. To be fair, not many dojos fill up students within a month." He turns to the Factor, slightly amused. "Oh my, at this rate I'm going to attract the attention of the Dynasts and have them clamoring for me to teach them."

09:55 <Alvuea> Radiant sighs as, apparently her little joke was missed, the Factor is terribly excited to show off his new toy, Platinum.  She shakes her head slightly, then smiles, "That's honestly the only thing I knew of you.  Be careful, your school is likely to become a fad if you don't watch out for it."

09:55 <@Carreau> The Factor's servant sets up a bamboo pole, about a man's height, to the yard with the help of a shovel, making sure it is sturdy. A few of the guests, intrigued, start gathering around it. "Master Platinum, if you would?" The Factor detaches from the group and lifts a hand to call attention. "Dearest guests, friends, you might've heard of the new dojo that has opened in the Jade Soma district. I am glad to announce that I have recently become a sponsor of this fine establishment, and Master Platinum, the headmaster, has agreed to give us a demonstration of the style's fantastic techniques. Please welcome him." He turns around and applauds lightly, soon enough the guests are clapping calmly.

10:00 <Mad> Platinum bows, and removes his loose shirt, as it's the wrong kind for fighting or demonstrations. Turning to the stick, he places his hand on his sword, flipping it from edge-down - a statement of peace - to edge-up - the statement of war. He steps up to the stick, kneels on to one leg, and seeks the void.

10:03 <@Carreau> The Factor nods at the few people quirking their brows, smiling to himself, before moving his presence to Radiant's proximity. "I think it is good for newcomers to Lathe to have a chance to showcase their talent and gain a little bit of fame."

10:04 <Mad> He begins standing, pulling out his sword in a flash, cutting the stick in half. The stick has yet to begin falling when his sword is at its apex, and he sheaths it as the top falls to the ground. Turning back to the Factor and Radiant, he bows.

10:04 <@Carreau> The crowd lets out a gasp, followed by actually enthusiastic applause that turns into muffled whispering.

10:06 <Alvuea> Radiant barely manages to resist the urge to roll her eyes.  She does, however, recognize this as the perfect time to claim a bit more food from the table.  "Certainly, always a positive, Factor."  She watches the stick, sliced in half, and manages to not ask about 'iajustu lumberjack style' but to instead say, "That was indeed an impressive bit of speed."

10:07 <@Carreau> "Oh, that's quite the feat" and "Did you even see him unsheathe his blade?" is also mixed with "You could decapitate a body with one swing, you know like with the Ragara money-lender." hushed by a "Don't be silly. Why would a swordsman like him murder a moneylender?" "Well, maybe not him but he does have quite a few students, doesn't he?"

10:09 <Mad> Picking up his shirt from the ground and putting it back on, Platinum walks back to his partners in conversation. "Thank you. It's something I've practiced for years to get to this level."

10:10 <Mad> He tried to push the whispers to the back of his mind. He still had his conversation with the Factor before he could decide anything.

10:11 <Alvuea> Radiant smiles, "It is quite impressive.  Though, I don't know, I think it lacks for... panache, showmanship.  Do you simply practice speed of unsheathing and a single slash?" she inquires, honestly curious.

10:11 <@Carreau> One of Radiant's bodyguards visibly makes a face at her comment, glances at Platinum and then down to his feet to keep his reaction from showing further.

10:13 <Mad> Happy to talk to someone about the style, Platinum responds. "Mostly, though there are a few techniques with multiple strikes. It is hard to maintain that speed in the heat of battle, however. It is reserved for duels or demonstrations like this."

10:18  * Alvuea nods. "I spent a great deal of time training with a sword, once. It was... essential, back in my village, but... well, I never really took to it. I don't love the dissonance of clashing blades." she sighs, "But... I have seen a great many swords, and there's certainly something special about that one. What is it?"

10:19 <Mad> Platinum chooses the words for his answer carefully. "It's something more than steel, gifted to me by someone who I respect more than most others"

10:23 <@Carreau> Adhyasa entertains a few people who want to talk about the demonstration, until he returns back, looking a little more sour than before. "Seems like I have made a small mistake. The death of Master Ragara Sempo has my guests on edge, and his... gruesome demise timed with the arrival of Master Platinum has gotten many people leaping into unpleasant conclusions."

10:24 <Alvuea> Radiant grins, a bit impishly.  Now, now things are getting interesting.  He's got a secret, one he's rather ready to show off.  Discovering it sounds like a lovely game to play for this brunch.  "Oh, that sounds like a very interesting story!  Would you mind terribly sharing about the one who you so respect?"

10:25 <@Carreau> He informs the two after they've gotten into talking about the sword, frowning apologetically at Platinum. "I apologize. I was thoughtless and have brought ill fame on your establishment. I will do my best to definitely clear your name as soon as possible."

10:27 <Mad> "Please, it's not your fault. Though, when exactly was this murder? I may not even have been in the city at that time."

10:28 <@Carreau> As if shaky on the details, the Factor directs his eyes at Radiant, again so very sorry about bothering the woman with such a tragic topic.

10:32 <Alvuea> An annoyed look comes to grace Radiant's face.  This murder topic is rather distracting from the game of discovery of Platinum's secrets, and it isn't as though there is a serious investigation about it happening right here and now.

10:37 <@Carreau> "Ah, it was..." The Factor tries to recall the exact date, but seems to have conveniently forgotten about it, touching his lip in thought, giving ample space for Radiant to fill in the blanks.

10:37 <Mad> Seeing her face, he misinterprets it as disgust about the murder. "Pardon me for bringing the topic of the murder to the surface. About the sword, it belonged to my sensei on my home island, and one day the Lintha attacked. He was killed in the fighting, so the sword passed to me."

10:40 <@Carreau> One of Radiant's bodyguards now very intently stares at Platinum, unable to keep composure and going through some sort of a breathing exercise to keep himself from running away from the man he witnessed killing three dozen Lintha in close combat.

10:44 <Mad> Noticing the man's breathing, Platinum looks up. "Soldier, what's wrong with you? You're acting like you're seeing the Lintha that killed your entire family right in front of you"

10:44 <Alvuea> Radiant smiles, and says, "It was just a few days ago, on the Nth" ((I dunno the dates of such things)) The bodyguard, Radiant recalls his name, "Kato" she says softly, "Why don't you take a break?  Though I would like to talk to you again... a little later." she says, softly.  She then turns back to Platinum, "Oh, that is... quite the tragic story.  The

10:44 <Alvuea> Lintha do such... terrible things on these islands.  We really do need to provide them more protection from here, don't we?"

10:45 <@Carreau> The bodyguard nods politely and evacuates the presence of the anathema on the double, going so far as to go around the building so he doesn't have to see the man.

10:47 <@Carreau> The Factor quirks a brow at the suggestion. "Is the Realm fleet not enough to protect Lathe from the Lintha, in your opinion?" He asks in a very friendly tone, picking up a new drink from a passing waitress.

10:49 <Mad> "Well, a few weeks ago I was hired by a mercenary to help save a small island from some Lintha that were attacking it, what with the Navy occupied by the Fae." Drawing in close, so that his words will only be heard by the Factor, "Not in its current state, no. Not while they have to deal with the Raksha."

10:49 <Alvuea> Radiant's interest in Platinum has... just doubled, the soldier's reaction, the strange sword, there is rather more to him than something that The Factor was using to make a bit more coin or garner a bit more prestige, as she'd initially assumed.  Then she turns to the factor, "Oh, certainly, Lathe is incredibly well protected.  Unfortunately, those outlying

10:49 <Alvuea> islands are... rather less well protected, I cannot help but hear constant horror tales of the Lintha raids upon them and  how they go largely unopposed."

10:51 <@Carreau> After Radiant has mentioned the islands and Platinum reinforces her statement by describing his own actions, the Factor visibly frowns. "Truly, the Lintha are so bold? And the Navy, yes, I know they were busy with the West, but... That is alarming news."

10:52 <Alvuea> Back to Platinum, the rather more interesting target, even if she's interested in spreading talk about Pluck's quest to protect more of the islands, she's far more curious about the strange swordsman, "That is... an impressive task you undertook." she states, "Bringing your... sensei's sword back to fight against the Lintha.  Mmm, there's a poetry to that. 

10:52 <Alvuea> I think there could be a song about it.  Though, of course, I would need to know rather more of... both parts of the story."

10:53 <Mad> "A song? Well, you are a performer, so perhaps. It's not a story for an event like this, however. Too sad, too gruesome."

10:55 <@Carreau> The Factor seems deep in thought for a moment, before he moves a hand to his elbow, other hand's thumb on his chin. "Master Platinum, do you think you could rise a fighting force from amongst your students. Against the Lintha, that is?" He lifts his brow a little.

10:55 <Alvuea> A nod, "Certainly.  A song.  An anthem.  The loss... the sensei being cut down, and the sword then being used... later, to fight back... it could be a... rallying song, against the Lintha.  Of course it isn't a song for right now.  It needs to be written... scored, but... the song of you... and your sword... could be quite the thing, I think."

10:56 <Mad> "Could I? Yes. Will I? No. A large number of them have no combat experience, many are too young or too old to fight, and those who are skilled enough to fight I need to teach the others."

10:59 <Mad> "Should we meet somewhere, and have me relate the story to you?"

11:01 <@Carreau> The Factor sighs at Platinum's rejection. "Unfortunate. If the Lintha are so bold, I know a way to throw them into disarray, but I need a fighting force to do that. The Guild would back up any group that could do a small excursion to Lintha territory."

11:02 <Mad> "I would be willing to risk my life on such a task, but there are only a few who I would ask to risk theirs on it. How large of a group are you talking about?"

11:03 <Alvuea> A nod from Radiant, "I would love that.  I do suppose it isn't quite a tale for Brunch, is it?  Well, I suppose I can invite you over to my apartments?  Or, if you'd prefer, I've found that the Sapphire Font has nice little spots for conversation" then she turns back to the Factor, and gives him a gentle smile, "I'm certain there are plenty of Mercenaries

11:03 <Alvuea> who would jump at the chance to help fend off the Lintha... I know for a fact that The Whistlers were... hunting for such a contract."

11:05 <Mad> "Whichever you prefer, Lady Radiant."

11:08 <@Carreau> "Mmh, the Whistlers? Oh." He looks at the bodyguard and his insignia, then back at the woman. "You find them competent, yes?" Then over to Platinum; "Well, the main target is a fleet commander of the seventh Gajui fleet. The Guild has a particular interest in him, since he raided one of our convoys and stole an important heirloom of one of the Factors. We're willing to pay handsomely to get it back. But, as I said, it is an entire fleet."

11:12 <Mad> Platinum looked over at Radiant's guards, really looking, and realized they wore Pluck's insignia. "Ah, the Whistlers! I worked with them to stop those Lintha I told you about earlier. I can definitely recommend them for anything involving Lintha."

11:13 <Alvuea> A nod from Radiant, "Yes.  I have the utmost regard for them.  I do not know terribly much of tactics, I am afraid, but I am certain that if you speak to their leader, she will have plenty of grand ideas for what would be necessary to achieve that."  She then looks back to Platinum, and smiles, "Well, in that case, I think that it might be nice to pay a

11:13 <Alvuea> visit to the Font.  It is such an... illuminating sort of meeting place.  Though, I will warn you ahead of time, that the tea is... sub-par and I would advise getting something else."

11:15 <Mad> "Then we shall meet there. I already have a business obligation with someone else in the next few days, so perhaps we could meet in about a week? And thank you for your advice with the tea, though in what way is it lacking?"

11:16 <@Carreau> "Ah, if you are familiar with their leader, might I ask you to relay a message to her that Factor Adhyasa would like to speak to her regarding this contract? And Master Platinum, if you have any battle-ready men and willingness to go against the fiend-pirates, your sword would surely be a welcome addition. I did send Silent Leaf to inquire about possible forces to undertake this task, so she would be accompanying you as well."

11:20 <Mad> "I hate to say it, but I don't actually know how to contact their leader; I was brought in by someone else. You may have to ask the Lady Radiant here how to get in touch. As for myself, I would be pleased to join your fleet, and perhaps with a few of my equals in skill." Leaning in close, voice lowered, he goes on, "What you said about the murderer earlier, wasn't it that he was a Wyld-mutant? One that uses my style?"

11:22 <@Carreau> "I cannot say about the style, but the cut was... similar to yours. The satrap does not actually have a lot of details beyond that he had some sort of a mutated deformity on his face somewhere." The Factor again gives Radiant an apologetic nod for having to bring up the gruesome event.

11:22 <Alvuea> "I can certainly contact her.  I'll let her know you were interested." she says, rather simply to the Factor, content to let that matter rest there.  There is hardly more to be gained from that venture.  To platinum, she is rather a bit more verbose  "I was hoping you might have time today, while the inspiration is fresh, and I am going to go on tour

11:22 <Alvuea> shortly... but I do understand... you are oh so terribly busy and don't have time to spend a few minutes conversing about the past."

11:25 <Mad> "I am terribly sorry Miss Radiant, but I have a class to teach this afternoon. Otherwise I would love to stay and tell you the whole story."

11:29 <Alvuea> A nod from Radiant, "Do you teach class on into the night?  It seems like you might have some time afterwards to tell me the tale." she closes a bit of the distance, as she finds that a bit of closeness often helps her to convince.

11:34 <Mad> "I am actually free tonight, so you're in luck. I hadn't thought of that; thanks for suggesting it. The Font, correct?"

11:37 <Alvuea> A smile from Radiant, pleased that he relented, "Yes.  Though I'd offered you to come pay a visit, The Font is a nice little spot to spend an evening.  When do you think you can make your visit?  If you'd like, you could come straight over from your class... bathe there.  They have quite the offering of such things."

11:40 <Mad> Muttering to himself "Was that an attempt to get me into her bed? Nah", before responding, "My class finishes around the 7th hour, so we can meet at half past the 8th. I'll be taking a bath at home, thank you."

11:41 <@Carreau> The Factor bows courtly at the two as people have started to grow restless regarding him entertaining only two guests. "Lady Radiant, Master Platinum. It was a pleasure to have you here. Do not hesitate to contact me if anything comes up. Have a nice day."

11:42 <Mad> Platinum bows to the Factor. "It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you for throwing this gathering."


11:54 <@Carreau> A knock on the woman's door is followed by news. "The Sword of Daana'd has returned, my lady." One of the Whistlers informs Radiant later that evening, his expression stone cold. "Captain Nellens Tomo has requested your presence in the Caldera, Nellens Enclave... Medical wing. Urgently." He dips his head and withdraws from her quarters, giving her time to prepare.

12:00 <Alvuea> A whirlwind of emotions have opportunity to cross Radiant, as the whistler speaks, the initial news... exciting, then... her heart dropping when she hears the place.  She bites her lip, and responds, "Well, then.  Get the fastest carriage you can find to get me over there.   I'll be out in two minutes to head over there."  She's hardly dressed for a trip

12:00 <Alvuea> into the Nellens Enclave, but she can quickly change that, even if she skips the accessories and cosmetics that would normally accompany such a visit, no... it's important to get over there *fast*

12:07 <@Carreau> The bodyguards guide Radiant's carriage through a tunnel leading from the Heartworks to the Caldera, the sound of people gasping and crying coming from the outside as they reach the district. If she were to peek out past the curtains, she would be met with a despair-inducing sight; two of the five masts of the Imperial Navy's pride splintered, sails still smoking from fire. And what is worse, dozens of sailors manacled in rows at the massive stone piers. Brave men and women - Imperial sailors, defenders of the Realm - reduced to screaming, psychotic messes that foam at the mouth and try to claw at their eyes and ears to stave off the hallucinations. Some are gagged to stop them from pleading to be put to the sword or from singing in languages that have no rhyme or reason. Sailors are carried away by dynastic medical staff on stretchers toward barracks, their limbs replaced with molten, ooze-dripping stumps. The carriage continues forward towards the Nellens enclave, which luckily has high enough walls to shut off the cacophony of the defensive victory's aftermath. A woman with greying hair comes to meet the songstress, hurrying her toward the medical wing. There, with two beds put together to accommodate for her size, lies Little Spume. Pearls of sweat coat her brow, her breathing labored, a white sheet pulled up to her shoulders to keep her warm. Her eyes are pinched close forcefully, as she struggles to keep inhaling and exhaling.

12:11 <Alvuea> Radiant is more than a bit horrified at the sight of what she sees, the psychotic messes that the Fae have reduced those sailors to, as she shivers in her carriage, mentally urging it to move... still faster, as she rushes through the Nellens enclave, and... quickly over to Little Spume's side, "Tomooo" she says, as she rushes over, and reaches down to touch

12:11 <Alvuea> her head, "Are you..." she isn't even certain what to ask, though she's frightened for her rather closest friend here.

12:25 <@Carreau> The dynast's eyes open, irses hued nacreous and pale, as she lets out a gasp and stares at the woman intently. Her lips then start moving on their own, her muscles trying to resist to no avail, as she starts whispering a strange rhyme; "From the submerged lands / We come, we come; / From the Wyld-kissed islands / Where loud waves are dumb / Listening to our sweet whispers." Her hands starts moving, sliding up from under the sheet, trying to reach Radiant's. "The song of the heart that rushes / And reek of passion-spent time. / The dirtied maiden that blushes / After the most succubine crime." Her expression twists to that of intense pain, then surprise, then panic, before she very slowly and clearly enunciatatess; "And the spirits below in the sea / Were as silent as the slain sun was / When listening to our sweet whispers." Her rhyming then takes on a frantic tone, as if trying to explain something extremely important, voice rising; "They sang of the falling stars / They sang of the doomed Realm / And of Heavens, and the coming wars / And foam-striding armies that overwhelm" She stops, blinks twice, and then, as if given a revelation; "And then they explained their whispers —" Her other hand comes from under the sheet and pulls it aside, revealing an abhorrent sight. The skin from her shoulder to her collar on the left side seems to have bubbled and broken, a tiny pinprick of necrotic skin at its center. Each of these pustules has erupted due to the writhing of fishbone skulls pushing through it, dead fish that still somehow manage to open their jaws as if silently singing along to the chorus of the song she recites without melody. "Showing how their siblings corrupt and crush / They pursue their foe and perform the deed. / Gods and men, you are all deluded thus; / You assume your role and then you bleed." The skin writhes and the fishbone start pushing out in spirals, spines like spooled thread that tries to wriggle free from the containment of her body. Little Spume, feverish, then whimpers; "Head hung, on our knees, 'tis how mankind falls / Haunted by raksha and their coralhorn calls / In harmony with their sweet whispers."

12:37 <Alvuea> Radiant reaches down... to touch back, to hold her friend's hands, "Tomo, come back to me.  You can resist.  You will... fight this."  She starts to hum softly, rising a little more, squeezing her friend's hands, trying to think, to build a little song, to tap into the... music that is Creation, to push... back against that... terrible sound of that horrible

12:37 <Alvuea> song, full of impossible discord that Little Spume speaks.  She struggles to find it, managing but pieces of it as she hums, occasionally words escaping into it as well.

12:41 <@Carreau> A moment passes, and the door opens finally. A lanky man with shaggy brown hair and dull blue eyes walks in, dressed in a black robe with a purple sash around his waist. He wears a white porcelain mask over the side of his head, five red eyes in a star-shape carved to it. He stays quiet, walking very slowly toward the bed.

12:45 <Alvuea> Radiant pays little attention to the man entering, certainly... a thing of significance, but he's quiet, and she's trying to hear and recite the music that she'd heard from her moments with the Sun. They are difficult to recall, and there is so much more... to this music that she tries to press back, to push out that terrible *noise* of the wyld.

12:57 <@Carreau> It seems to be working. Her song seems to work by singing alongside the wyld-song but with a different and clear melody, as if subtly correcting an off-pitch singer. The spooling fishbone curls up and starts standing erect straight from her chest, swaying to her song like seaweed. Fish-skulls pointed toward the ceiling, they then start pulling out of Little Spume's body, spontaneously sprouting splendid fins and dragonfly wings of glittering gossamer. The wings start fluttering, a soft buzz, as the dozen or so dead fish begin ascending with the elevation of their beating appendages. Then, suddenly, there is a shout, and a blur of movement. "GET DOWN!" Time seems to freeze for a moment, the sight of the black-robed man leaping toward her with hands extended. As she looks back, slowly, she notices at the corner of her eye that the flutterwing fish seem to have disappeared. Her error in expectation is followed by the sudden realization of one of the fishbone maws being but a few inches from her face, going for her eyes. 

13:02 <Alvuea> The black-robed man leaping, the fluttering fish bone thing... right in front of her face, Radiant's song is ceased, instead, a shriek at that having been able to escape and come at her, drops and moves to the side, rushing to get out of the way, dashing in a sort of cartwheel over to the side to escape that horrible... thing.

13:08 <@Carreau> The sound of terrifying screeching does not come from the fish, but rather from their gossamer appendages hitting the stone walls of the medical wing and cutting through it like a knife through soft bread. Though, in this case, the breadcrumb sprayed about are finger-sized slices of shattered stone and plaster. One of the beds collapses, cut in half by an errant fin of a flying wyld-monster's tail. They move at blinding speeds, ricocheting off the walls and shearing the walls and the ceiling with their razor-tipped flight, bricks and dust exploding in surges wherever they collide with an obstacle. As Radiant ducks under one of the beds, the sorcerer moves to protect Little Spume's body with his own. The wings tear into his back, robe severed in seconds, revealing tan skin that flares pure bronze with each hit. The wooden door is shredded into pieces very soon, and the entire swarm flies out the moment wind blows in. But a blink of an eye, and they're all gone, leaving the three alone in the room, covered in plaster and broken pieces of furniture. The formerly black-robed man is bleeding profusely from his back. Even with the sorcerous enchantment of his skin, the flying wyld-fish managed to cut all the way to bone. 

13:16 <Alvuea> The rushing of those creatures out the door, the blood on the man, No... no, all of this is so... wrong. There has to be something she can do.  Anything.  She calls out, "Medics!  Sorcerors!  We need more assistance in here!" out the door, in a voice that she's reasonably certain can be heard well outside of the Nellens compound, not to mention everywhere within.  She knows... but a little about medicine, but... at least enough to understand how little she knows, but... stopping the bleeding of the man's back... there must be plenty of supplies in here she can use.

13:24 <@Carreau> The man painfully lifts himself up to a semi-standing position, holding onto the edge of the bed. He coughs, spitting out a bit of blood, before letting out a quiet grunt before "Fleet-Shredding Plague. I'll be--" He coughs abruptly. "Damned. Thought it was an old wives' tale." As the woman starts bandaging his back, he stays very still, holding his breath for extended periods to keep the wounds from gushing too much blood. Finally, he moves to sit next to Little Spume, holding onto her knee for support. "You alright?" He then gives a weary look at Radiant.

13:27 <Alvuea> Radiant shakes her head, "No.  I am not.   I should have... I needed to be able to... fix it.  To... push that song away... back... out. This is not alright.  However, I am not harmed." she says, "There must be more... something that can be done."

13:31 <@Carreau> The sorcerer nods a little bit, wrapping an arm around his body. "Yeah. Go to the docks. Announce that every sailor has to be checked for black pinprick marks by the order of High Aruspex Nellens Juuka and sedated immediately if any are found. Fleet-Shattering Plague. Please. Go. Fast. I'll look after her." The man's bleeding has stopped, but he doesn't seem to be losing consciousness any time soon.

13:34 <Alvuea> Radiant looks back to her friend, to Little Spume, the wreckage of the room, the man there... and swears.  She wants to be here, to help her friend, this person she cares deeply about.  But she can't stay here.  No, she shakes her head, nodding, "Right.  Yes.  I can do that." she then changes tone a bit, rather more confident, even commanding, "Help her. 

13:34 <Alvuea> Get everyone, anyone, anything.  I'll make sure of others."  She turns and leaves through what was once a door.