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[14:58] <@Carreau> Calibration. Five days when the moon hides its face, weather forgets how to behave and strange beings from gods, ghosts and demons walk the earth. Calibration in Lathe is a time of extravagant festivities; colorful triangular pennants on strings criss-crossing streets, promenades lined up with stalls selling deep-fried fruit and the legendary 'chupo' flatbread of Lathe baked from wild corn flour, seaweed and ground mealworms, usually ...

[14:58] <@Carreau> ... stuffed with spicy chicken, chopped up boiled egg, lettuce and beans. The pubs and bars in the Haunches flow with imported rye beer from nearby Redmoon while the Jade Soma District has hired the best of the street performers to juggle, spin and breathe fire on rooftops while acrobats tumble below for the entertainment of the merchants and visitors. In the Lily Pits people don grotesque wooden masks and drape themselves in sack cloth; ...

[14:58] <@Carreau> ... singing, beating drums and dancing through the labyrinthine alleyways to enact the superstitious Five-Night Parade of Jubilant Demons. The satrap hosts the greatest gala of the entire, a masquerade ball in his palace in the Caldera that according to rumor devolves from a formal dinners into a decadent orgy more often than not. But what of the Heartworks and Whitecrest, the heart and mind of Lathe? What sort of celebrations do these two ...

[14:59] <@Carreau> ... districts organize? They are secretive, that much is known. Each entrance to the Heartworks from Jade Soma and the Caldera gets closed and locked tight with impenetrable metal gates during Calibration. Many who have their homes in the Heartworks spend the five days in the satrap's party in the Caldera or amongst the celebrations in Jade Soma, refusing to answer why they are not spending time in the Heartworks. Many have died trying to ...

[14:59] <@Carreau> ... figure out the mystery, falling to their death while trying to scale the outer carapace of the petrified behemoth or disappeared once they got inside through the opening. The mystery is more unnerving than fascinating; simply thinking about the districts of the Heartworks or Whitecrest during Calibration fills one's mind with unnatural queasiness, making it a hard subject to linger on. But who would want to, anyway? It is Calibration ...

[14:59] <@Carreau> ... and one could be enjoying the celebrations instead!

[14:38] <Pluck> What was originally planned as a single, decisive archery tournament quickly expanded beyond Pluck's original estimates. Now, the archery competition is to be held on the last day of Calibration. Prior to that, the grand melee- a barely-organized series of bar brawls- is to take place, determining who is the toughest, dirtiest, all-around nastiest of the many pugilists who live and breathe in the Haunches.

[14:38] <Pluck> Following the grand melee, however, will be a more formalized series of duels between the more refined martial artists of Lathe, where invitees from reputable dojos and others who think they have what it takes square off in honorable combat. Here, wooden weapons are used, a point-scoring system is implemented, and it is in every way reminiscient of the theatrical battles fought out in Jade Soma District. Unlike the grand melee, it will not be permitted to scream howls of derision during the proceedings.

[14:38] <Pluck> Pluck herself is leaving most of the implementation details to her lieutenants! She herself must hobnob with the interested patricians who have come down from Jade Soma to watch some genuine violence, along with the richer and more influential extortionists, merchants, ship captains and other noteworthies who make the Haunches their home. In the ring below, the grand melee proceeds- only six or so competitors left, the canniest and most dangerous of the lot, armed with bronze knuckled, clubs, armoured boots- they circle one another like wolves, forming improptu gangs to face each other down.

[14:46] <Crane> Shining Glory oohs and aahs at the display, gasping in awe at the ferocity and skill of the warriors. Occasionally she takes a moment to look away and sign something for one of the other viewers - her beauty and talent have earned the actress many fans, and she's more than happy to indulge them when she gets the chance.

[14:55] <Pluck> Sipping from a mug of tea, the commander surveys her guests with some curiosity. The tournament has really attracted all sorts. Pluck had not even dreamed of inviting the Lady Radiant to a brutal event such as this, but the presence of a storied actress of equivalent calibre leaves her wondering if that was a mistake.

[14:55] <Pluck> Four of the thugs on the ground have formed an alliance, cornering the two remaining. The slighter and reedier of this mob on the whole, this pair makes a silent agreement and stand back-to-back as the hounds close in. One of them, a woman, suddenly lashes out with her belt like a whip! She grasps the heel of one of her opponents and pulls him to the ground, but then the rest leap upon them, and she and two others go down on the ground in a tangle of limbs.

[14:55] <Pluck> It leaves the man able to face a single opponent at a time, and he delivers a swift kick to the groin against his larger adversary! The crowd gathered around the ring howls in laughter and scorn!

[14:55] <Pluck> "It looks like that man may be our champion," remarks Pluck, considering how all remaining combatants are struggling to find their feet.

[14:58] <Alira_Whitefeather> Alira is somewhere in the crowd, clutching a wad of money she'd placed on a bet and whooping and cheering along wth teh rest of whoever's there.  She's really into this!  Copper is too, hopping from foot to foot behind her.

[15:03] <Crane> Glory's eyes widen at the sight of Copper. She's heard of claw striders before, but never seen one with her own eyes. And a tame one, too! Or so she hopes. After watching the remainder of the fight, and enthusiastically applauding the winner, she makes her way over to Alira. "What an impressive creature this is! What's its name?"

[15:07] <Alira_Whitefeather> Alira's eyes widen massively, and she slowly turns.  After a moment, she's face to face with Copper, who opens his mouth right in her face.  Alira screams, putting her hands to her face, and leaps behind Glory.  "AHHHHHHHH!!!  IT'S GONNA EAT MEEEEE!"

[15:11] <Crane> Glory's eyes widen in shock, and she begins to quickly back away from the beast without taking her eyes off it, in case it should lunge. After a moment she realises Copper isn't eating anyone, but why not have a little fun? She poses heroically and places a reassuring hand on Alira's arm. "Worry not, fair maiden," she announces. "I shall protect you from this savage animal!"

[15:11] <Pluck> More than a few arena-goers make a hasty retreat at Alira's pronunciation. Several Whistlers standing watch on the roof draw bows at her excited scream, but release them with shared grins upon identifying their target.

[15:11] <Pluck> The standing brawler did indeed overcome his grounded adversaries, repeatedly stomping on their heads and backs until they have all fallen unconscious or crawled outside of the ring proper. Pluck stands up, and descends into the pits with a pouch of silver for the victor.

[15:11] <Pluck> "A brilliant effort," she exclaims, grabbing him by the arm and raising his hand in victory. "To the victor, the spoils! Blood for silver, strength for wealth! This coin, this money- it comes from the broken backs of Lathe's defeated enemies!" Or at least, it comes from Adyhasa for breaking said backs, which amounts to the same thing in Pluck's view. "To the strongest it goes," she continues, shoving the pouch into the winner's hand. "You men and woman who traded blows today, know that there's a lot more where that came from! Be not dispirited. If you seek to turn your strength into coin, come and speak to me, Pluck!"

[15:15] <Alira_Whitefeather> Alira continues to cower, putting her hands over her head.  "Oh, good!  You probably taste way better than I do, anyway!"  Copper, however, doesn't seem to understand what's going on and approaches, sniffing at Glory and cocking his head curiously, instead of playing along.

[15:20] <Crane> Abandoning her act, Glory leans in to admire the claw strider, though she keeps a small distance from it just in case. "All those vicious teeth and claws, but on the inside you're really just a big softie, aren't you? I've never heard of a tame claw strider before. Whoever trained this fine specimen must be most skilled."

[15:21] <Pluck> "In one hour, the dueling lists shall be opened! You've seen the best of the fine art of pugilism. Now you'll see what is normally reserved for our gracious nobles of Jade Soma, the finest duelists ever spawned within this great womb we call home! We are the children of a mighty monster indeed, and in every field we are strong." Pluck waves at her lieutenants, who set to dragging bodies out of the pit, washing away the blood, and getting sets of duelists ready for their competitions. What this contest lacks in brutality, Pluck hopes it will be made up for in elegance and sheer skill.

[15:23] <Alira_Whitefeather> Alira decides to abandon her act too, standing up and taking Copper's head in her hands, moving to put her forehead on his.  Before she can reach him, though, he puts his mouth around her head, as if he were eating her.  "...uh."

[15:27] <Crane> Glory smiles at the announcement of the duels. She enjoyed the spectacle of the brawling, but the elegant dance of swords has always stirred something in her heart. So much like acting, in a way. Each warrior learns their part, practices it night and day until they have perfected it, and then on the day the two seamlessly integrate their deadly dance in a show of skill and daring. She's snapped back to reality by the claw strider's

[15:27] <Crane> actions, and her eyes widen for the second time. "You're sure you won't be hurt? Those teeth look very sharp."

[15:28] <Mad> Dressed in a bright red patterned haori on top of his high quality gi and hakama, Platinum wanders over to the dueling lists, to get a good spot to sign up. While the melee had been a spectacle, it reminded him too much of war to be to his tastes.

[15:30] <Pluck> The Whistler in charge of handling admission pauses when Platinum approaches, and raises a cocked eyebrow at him. "This kinda thing is worth your time?" he asks, chewing on a piece of straw.

[15:32] <Mad> "You mean it isn't? This is the perfect place to advertise the new dojo in the Haunches I'm opening. It'll also be good for my students to watch, there's quite a few in the crowd. I gave them Calibration off, of course." With a grin, he continues, "Now, sign me up."

[15:33] <Pluck> The Whistlers shrugs. "Captain said no dragon-blooded allowed, but nothing about-" His friend thumps him on the shoulder, and he shuts up before waving Platinum through.

[15:35] <Alira_Whitefeather> Alira pries open Copper's mouth, then pats him on the head.  He wears the closest thing to a shit-eating grin that a raptor can while the young girl explains.  "Ehhh, y'know, he's just messing around.  You'd never hurt me, would you, boy?  Nooo, that's right.  You're a good boy."  With that, she offers a smile to Glory.  "I'm Alira."

[15:40] <Crane> "Shining Glory," she replies, offering a hand to shake. Many people here already know her name, but not all, and she would have remembered seeing a girl with a claw strider at her plays. "Nice to meet you." She pauses for a moment to admire Copper some more. "Are you two looking forward to the duelling or the archery more? I can't wait for the duels myself."

[15:41] <Alira_Whitefeather> "Well, uh, I was thinkin' of entering the archery contest, so... the archery one, yeah.  Copper likes a good duel, though."

[15:45] <Crane> Glory laughs. "I'm sure he does. I'll make sure to cheer for you, Miss Alira. Maybe we can teach your friend to cheer too."

[15:46] <Pluck> The contestants are filed into a waiting area, where Platinum finds himself amongst men he may have fought before. Representatives of the Gloaming Heart dojo are present, as well as a competitor from the famed dojo-ship, the Floating Hydral. Worrisomely, an Immaculate Monk is present, armed with a pair of hook swords and maintaining a demeanour of being above all he sees. Finally, one man who seems to be snoozing with a seven-section-staff curled around his neck.

[15:51] <Platinum> Slightly conscious of the wrapped daiklave at his side, Platinum seeks out an attendant. "Excuse me, but is there a place I could keep this, and where I could get a bokutou for the duels?"

[15:59] <Pluck> The concealed daiklaive is soon taken from Platnium, and brought inside the nearby compound. "You've seen the rest," Pluck says, standing up once all the preparations are completed. "Now, you see the best! Honored masters, we salute your skill and dedication," she declares. "Now, fight! Show the people of Lathe who is the strongest!"

[15:59] <Pluck> The duels are swiftly underway. Style clashes against style! Bitter rivalries are settled, and new ones emerge. The Master of the Gloaming Heart dojo is slain, throat 'accidentally' crushed by a rival from the Tai-Kun School of the Staff; that master is disqualified and promptly seized by a dozen Whistlers and escorted into an alley out the back of the dojo, from which many a retributive thump is heard. The representative of the Floating Hydral fights with dual nunchucks and knocks herself out; upon awakening, she makes loud and angry complaints about the lack of a rocking deck being a most unjust handicap.

[15:59] <Pluck> Platinum easily breezes through his competitors, and has the pleasure to witness the sleepy staff-wielding man defeat his Immaculate opponent. The monk is disarmed of his hook-blades and concedes once deprived of his weapons, prompting a mixed reaction from the crowd.

[15:59] <Pluck> Then, he is called to take the ring once more for the final match!

[16:03] * Carroo (fs-carreau@hsmnb.freeshells.org) Quit (Quit: Lost terminal)

[16:03] <Platinum> He strides from the waiting room, looking for the other man who will be his opponent. He decides to wear his haori through the match, the dojo symbol prominently displayed for all to see. He steps to just outside the edge of the ring, as is proper for formal duels.

[16:12] <Pluck> His opponent holds his staff around his neck, and makes a show of yawning. "On the side of Water, we have Master Flawless Platinum Daimyo, of the Mani Iaijutsu Dojo!" exclaims Pluck, as she stands between the two combatants in the centre of the ring. "On the side of Wood, we have Master Fox-Tail-Weaver, of no school!" This opponent blinks, and then focuses his eyes squarely on Platinum. "Sorry, friend. But I need that silver," he says, twirling his staff about his head for a moment. "No hard feelings." Pluck backs out of the ring, and raises a handkerchief. It slowly flutters towards the ground...

[16:14] <Platinum> Placing his hand on his sword, Platinum quips back. "Well, my new friend, if you can beat me, then you deserve it."

[16:18] * Carroo (fs-carreau@hsmnb.freeshells.org) has joined #lathe-ic

[16:19] <Platinum> At the instant the handkerchief falls to the ground, Platinum strikes, rushing forward and making a slash strong enough to break bones. It's aimed at his arms, of course, as he didn't want to kill his foe.

[16:23] <Pluck> His sword lashes towards the arm of his opponent, who slides back! His staff enricles his bicep, and wood meets wood with a fierce clack! It unravels itself like string falling from a broken loom, and the staff unfurls in a flash towards Platnium's solar plexus!

[16:29] <Platinum> In a flash, the bokken is back to a ready position, and seeing the strike headed his way, Platinum launches another, putting his in the way of his foe's, with the intention of breaking through.

[16:36] <Pluck> His opponent's strike wraps around his blade, flinging it off-course and yanking Platinum's arms backwards! The back of the staff narrowly misses Platinum's head as he ducks, but he is thrown wildly off-balance by this assault!

[16:38] <Pluck> His opponent yanks on his staff, pulling Platinum closer to him! One of his fingers drives towards a series of pressure points upon the swordsman's chest, seeking to end the fight by disabling a few key nerves!

[16:39] <Platinum> Platinum's sword rotates in a quick circle to fling the fingers away and give him some breathing room.

[16:40] <Pluck> But he retracts his blow at the last second, rather than let his fingers be broken by Platinum's attack!

[16:42] <Platinum> Not one to let a chance slip away, Platinum makes a quick and deadly thrust for the Fox's shoulder

[16:44] <Pluck> His target steps out of the way, and nimbly disengages from Platinum with a shrug! He whirls his staff around himself, and strikes several pressure points upon his own body, which seems to loosen up substantially. Fox adopts a sinuous rocking back and forth, peering into Platinum with a faintly alien, calculating gaze.

[16:46] <Platinum> At this reprieve, Platinum calls out. "Oh, a break in the attacks? You'll find that to be a mistake, once you're beaten and bruised by my hand." Platinum raises his sword in a ready position, but makes no move.

[16:51] <Pluck> "With this staff, I make seven a second," drawls Fox, twirling it around him like a storm of oaken branches. "Will that be enough to satisfy you, great master-of-drawing?" he adds, spitting out a piece of straw and casting out with his staff towards Platinum! It ripples in the air, making it difficult to predict, before striking at his brow!

[16:52] <Pluck> It is easily deflected with a twist of Platinum's bokutou!

[16:52] <Platinum> "Eh, seven a second? Why so many, if none will hit?" He readies his sword to block the strike

[16:57] <Platinum> "In any case, it's too late." Platinum sheathes his sword and brings his senses to their greatest. Half a heartbeat later, he strikes back, with a step forward and a perfect arc.

[17:01] <Pluck> His opponent's eyes widen at the sudden speed with which Platinum attacks! Recoiling, he dances back a step before he leaps into the air for a brief moment! The staff rears back and crashes upon Platinum like a pouncing dragon!

[17:04] <Platinum> Turning away the staff with a motion like light falling onto the ground, Platinum makes a retaliatory strike.

[17:08] <Pluck> The whirling snake-staff finally fails its keeper. His opponent is forced to absorb the blow with his shoulder to protect his head, and grunts in dismay!

[17:10] * Nyumetsu (IceChat9@59-034-034-59.lightspeed.sndgca.sbcglobal.net) Quit (Quit: Beware of programmers who carry screwdrivers.)

[17:10] <Platinum> With blinding speed, Platinum sheaths the sword and immediately launches a second attack, aimed for the right side, while the staff is still moving to protect the Fox's left.

[17:14] <Platinum> Now a whirlwind of wood, wind, and reflected light, Platinum strikes again, still with the lightning fast sheath and drawing slash.

[17:15] <Pluck> This blow strikes his opponent solidly in the midsection. The cheering crowd falls away, as the two combatants lock gazes again and wholly embrace this new martial world they have entered.

[17:18] <Pluck> One more blow rocks his opponent, who resorts to coiling his staff around his body and hurling himself towards Platinum with a rather ungraceful shoulder-ram!

[17:20] <Platinum> Meeting the attack head on, Platinum levels a strike at the rushing shoulder

[17:22] <Shining_Glory> Glory cries out in amazement from the crowd, thrilled by the martial skill on display.

[17:23] <Pluck> His opponent smashes into his side and sends Platinum to one knee! The staff is swept aside by one hand, and his opponent leans in once again to strike against Platinum's chest a half-dozen times! From the side of the battle, Pluck watches the entire battle play out with narrowed, deeply suspicious eyes.

[17:29] * Alira_Whitefeather (chatzilla@avrd-02-366-810-21.central.biz.rr.com) Quit (Ping timeout: 272 seconds)

[17:29] <Pluck> Platinum feels a series of light taps around his lungs and heart, as his opponent's fingers drift lightly across his chest. The martial artists jumps back, then, gesturing coyly at the Forsaken to rise and face him- but he cannot. His limbs refuse to heed his commands, and he cannot even push himself up from the ground to return the man's mocking gesture. Silence reins throughout the tournament field, until Pluck finally finds her voice. "The winner, of no school, is Master Fox-Tail-Weaver!" she proclaims, with a notable crack at the pronouncement.

[17:33] <Shining_Glory> Glory stands to applaud the victorious Fox-Tail-Weaver, cheering as loudly as she is able.

[17:35] <Platinum> Platinum silently seethes, since he can't even stand and give his opponent the respect he deserves

[17:35] * Alira_Whitefeather (chatzilla@avrd-02-366-810-21.central.biz.rr.com) has joined #lathe-ic

[17:36] <Carroo> A woman with burnt orange hair and ebony skin suddenly hops over the railing and starts moving towards Platinum, expression like stone, dressed in a deep brown dress with yellow stripes, wrists, ankles and bicep adorned with elaborate orichalcum and white jade jewelry.

[17:36] <Pluck> Pluck advances towards this apparent grand champion, forced to keep her word and deliver the prize for victory even though he is clearly no natural competitor. She can hardly point out what really just happened to the crowd... "That was well fought," she says, pausing. "I hope you will join me this evening. The victors of each tournament are invited for tea and contemplation," she states, and Master Fox blinks. "With rich folk, right?" he says, glancing towards Glory for a moment. "Like her?" he asks, grinning and jerking a finger towards the actress. Pluck seems a little scandalized, however. "I shall pass an invitation," she says, dourly.

[17:37] <Platinum> Turning his head to the side as she comes over, Platinum makes a small grin. "Hey Cinderlock. Man, that was an amazing fight. I even lost!"

[17:38] <Carroo> Cinderlock, the Jadesmith, moves to lay a hand onto Platinum's shoulder, before crouching down and helping him up by lifting the man from under his armpits. "... Indeed." She responds, trying not to look over at the winner of the fight to keep her expression steady.

[17:38] <Shining_Glory> Glory smiles, taking the comment in her stride. She enjoys the kinds of parties 'rich folk' throw, but understands that some people prefer a more casual atmosphere.

[18:01] <Carroo> Tea and contemplation done, through which Fox-Tail-Weaver kept his eyes open for a good ten minutes, the victor's celebration takes a more active tone. Five rowdy men - friends of the champion - are invited in, who immediately dogpile Fox with enthusiastic, brotherly affection. Mango wine gets uncorked and Pluck is forced to appease the alarmed owner of the rented venue and promise that they'll be changing establishments soon. Two carriages ...

[18:01] <Carroo> ... are called and shouts announcing an afterparty in the Birdcage soon mobilize the group. Fox shows up to stand in front of Glory, grinning broad, his staff loosely hanging around his neck, before extending a hand to help her up. "Seems like you've got a spot in carriage."

[18:03] <Shining_Glory> Glory flashes Fox a dazzling grin as she takes his hand. "Thank you, sir. Your performance today was incredible. I've not seen anything like it."

[18:07] <Carroo> The man pulls her standing, his hand warm, before scratching the back of his head and chuckling with fake embarrassment with closed eyes. "Wouldn't be a spectacle if I ran around doing that all day, would it? Glad you liked what you saw." Pacing over to the carriage, he's about to go in first, but then seems to remember his manners and pretends to have only stood up to the carriage to open the door for the woman, gesturing her to get in.

[18:13] <Shining_Glory> Glory graciously steps inside. "What's it like, fighting like that? You must be so tense putting your life on the line. I know it's only a tournament match, but mistakes do happen..." She trails off, remembering the fate of the Master of the Gloaming Heart dojo. She hadn't quite looked away in time, and was sure that image would haunt her dreams tonight.

[18:15] <Carroo> "Ehh, I don't really think about it. Comes very naturally. Though I almost lost my cool against the Immaculate. Swear his eyes were saying--" And he suddenly impersonates a stoic, disgruntled monk and lowers the depth of his voice. "You beat me here and Pasiap himself will come and pummel you when you sleep." He then collapses onto the back of the couch, sections of his staff clanking against each other, spreading his legs and throwing an ...

[18:15] <Carroo> ... arm over the back of the seat. Flashing a grin, the man then reverts to his normal voice. "I like to pretend I only beat his swords and not the monk himself. Spares my knees from the constant praying I'd have to do."

[18:22] <Shining_Glory> Glory pauses to carefully consider her next words. The Immaculate monks are protectors of Lathe, and she respects them more than many others in the city, but she knows what she is, and if they did too she wouldn't live for five minutes. "I'm sure he wouldn't abuse his position to get revenge on you." She brightens up. "But if he did, I think you could hold your own against anything and anyone. You fight as well as any Exalted

[18:22] <Shining_Glory> warrior I've seen." Glory idly wonders for a moment when she's ever seen an Exalted warrior fight. She can't quite remember... Perhaps it was during her childhood.

[18:25] <Carroo> Fox laughs, a little nervous, before remembering he had tucked a bottle of mango wine to a satchel he carries over his rear, pulling it out, he takes a swig. "Now, now, let's not let the praise get to my head, um..." He the blinks, trying to remember her name. Surely they were introduced, but he slept through most of the tea ceremony.

[18:31] <Shining_Glory> "Shining Glory, but my friends just call me Glory." Her smile makes it clear that she considers Fox a friend. "Maybe you've heard of the plays I do? My most famous one was Shibo. I played Sesus Shibo's wife. The makeup they had to do to make me look Dragon-blooded took three hours for every performance, but it was worth it. Rave reviews, and it earned me enough to buy my house."

[18:37] <Carroo> Fox clears his throat, fixes his posture and looks out of the window of the carriage, trying to act non-chalant. "Oh, is that the one with the dragon and the rabbit?" He must be referring to a play often acted out by children in Realm satrapies, a bit of Immaculate-approved folklore that has changed over the ages to be an educational story about the righteousness of the dragon-blooded and their dominion over gods and animals alike.

[18:38] <Carroo> Shortly put, it is unlikely he has seen theatre beyond dockside cabaret.

[18:46] <Shining_Glory> "Ah, no, it's, umm... Well there is a dragon and a rabbit, actually, but the dragon doesn't actually show up and the rabbit was metaphorical..." Glory stops herself before she bores the man with her detailed analysis of the play. Clearly Fox is a man with different tastes to her own. "Anyway. You have any other exciting things planned for this Calibration?"

[18:55] <Carroo> The man gives the stunning woman a sideways glance, lips curling into a suggestive smirk, before he ruffles his hair again. "Ah, no. We're here from Redmoon, came to deliver the rye beer. One of the few traditions between back home and Lathe. They bring us mango wine and that weird green bread, we bring them our local brews. Saw the price money on the tournament and got encouraged by my brothers to sign up. Glad I did. That silver will help ...

[18:56] <Carroo> ... a lot back home." He moves to scratch his stomach, expression going serious for a moment. "It's been a bad year." He looks out of the window again, as the carriage climbs up toward the Jade Soma District along the ramp. "Me and my brothers, we were all raised by this sweet old lady in a farm outside Redmoon. We were just orphans on the streets of the city before that. When she passed, our big brother took charge and built a brewery - ...

[18:56] <Carroo> ... still taking in those without a home or a family to go to. There are more and more children coming in every year."

[19:09] <Shining_Glory> "That's sweet of you. Most people I know would take that silver and spend it on themselves. Tell you what, I can help out. I've got more money than I need, and you deserve more. Come around to my house once this is done and I'll make sure you get a proper reward for your heroic effort today." Glory casually shifts her body closer to Fox's, clearly showing that the reward she has in mind is more than just jade.

[19:18] <Carroo> Fox tries his best to conceal his reddening cheeks, surprised by her suggestion. Going through a litany of focusing mantras in his head, he draws deep on his newly-reinforced confidence to try and seize control of the situation. "Well, uh, I -am- going to treat my brothers a little, it's not all spent on hoes and plowing equipment." The man takes a few seconds to realize what he said, grabbing his knee to keep himself from smacking himself ...

[19:18] <Carroo> ... in the face. "We're taught to be hard workers and not beggars, so if you want to help out, I must insist that it's in exchange of services rendered." His shoulders slump a little, spiraling further into embarrassment. "I mean..."

[19:23] <Shining_Glory> "Oh, of course!" Glory doesn't seem to notice Fox's stumbling words and embarrassment. "I wouldn't dream of asking a man of pride and honour to accept charity. I'm sure we can find something that you can do for me in exchange."

[19:33] <Carroo> Glad that the woman didn't twist his stumble against him, the Fox's posture straightens again and he nods solemnly. "I'm glad you understand. That said..." He grins a little bit, while recalling the fight with Immaculate. "I had an unfair advantage against the monk; he used my teacher's favorite weapons against me. I've been avoiding hook sword blows since I was ten." The carriage stops abruptly, and the door gets pulled open by one of Fox's ...

[19:33] <Carroo> ... companions. "Bro! It's -huge!-" The man points over to the Birdcage's entrance, and it's domed ceiling.

[19:41] <Shining_Glory> "Ah, we're here." Glory gets up and exits the carriage immediately, brushing against Fox as she leaves. "Time for a real party!" She turns back to Fox for a moment before walking off. "I'll be seeing you later."

[19:43] <Carroo> The man smiles wide at the leaving woman, stepping out of the carriage after her and throwing his arm over the shoulder of his brother, pulling him closer as he watches the beauty go.

[19:47] <Shining_Glory> Some time later, Isami wakes up. Another one of her odd dreams, and longer this time. It must be Calibration, she decides. The world thrown out of kilter, making her sleep and imagine being Shining Glory for... two days, this time? It's getting worse, but in a way she doesn't mind. Better to spend two days thinking she's Glory than actually being Isami.

[21:01] <Alvuea> It is nice being able to invite Little Spume out by sending a message, rather than travelling into the depths of the Nellens compound and spending time standing over a hospital bed.  So Radiant has done so, with somewhat embarrassing regularity, as she is rather in the habit of being the courtee rather than the courter... but recent events, changes in

[21:01] <Alvuea> fortune have shifted things greatly.  So, reservations at the finest restaurant in Hearthworks.  They're currently taken months in advance, but it seems they managed to make space for Radiant and her oversized partner in not even quite a day.

[21:11] <Carroo> The Calibration festivities tend to be a time when people take their loved ones out for a feast, and though the restaurants were booked months in advance, Radiant and Little Spume were given the table in the Twin Hyancints. Nellens Tomo, today, has donned an outfit Radiant has never seen her in. A deep azure wrap top hugs her form tightly, tied around the waist, and actually shows a little bit of skin in the decolletage; though not lower ...

[21:12] <Carroo> ... than her collarbones. Even further, she is wearing a draped ankle-length skirt of black, revealing the shapely, but often concealed curve of her gams. Her hair is braided, twisted and pinned into a bun over the back of her head, a silver hair pin with a feather at the tip stuck through it. She stands up as Radiant arrives, bowing courtly, before pulling the woman a chair and seating herself after the singer.

[21:20] <Alvuea> It is a surprise for Radiant to see Little Spume dressed so.  She does a moment of a double take, as the woman always seemed to dress to embrace being a sailor, that roughness.  It was a part of what made her so fun and exciting.  Radiant is, of course, dressed absolutely beautifully, in a viridian dress made by the fainest tailors in Lathe, cut deeply down

[21:20] <Alvuea> her chest, baring her back, though it is largely covered again by a wild river of red hair and with a long skirt with a wide slit on the right side... and of course, an assortment of gorgeous accessories, from the bangles on her wrists that chime oh so softly, a deeply beautiful song, to the collection of jewels hanging from her neck, but... Radiant still

[21:20] <Alvuea> wishes she'd dressed still better... wilder, something to match the shift from her partner.  She returns the bow, and takes the offered seat, as she gazes over, eyes still dancing across the delightful surprises, "You look *amazing*, dearest Spume."

[21:32] <Carroo> With practiced Dynast grace, the woman bows her head in thanks. "Nothing compared to your beauty, but I cherish your words. I've ordered already, I hope you don't mind." She leans back in the chair and looks out of the glass-pane window at the celebrations in the street, her eyes drawn with the faintest trace of kohl. She seems deep in thought, her lips parting a few times wordlessly before she manages to finally speak. "We've received word ...

[21:32] <Carroo> ... that the last stronghold in the Caul outside Faxai has fallen. The Realm is gearing up for a full-scale invasion to reclaim the continent." Waiting for the information to sink in, she is quiet for a brief moment. Shifting her gaze to the table, she then gives Radiant a look from under her eyelashes, phrasing a statement in her head before with a slight hesitation, she almost whispers. "I have been offered the admiralty of the third Realm ...

[21:32] <Carroo> ... fleet, serving directly under Lord High Admiral Peleps Kubaro himself."

02[21:36] * Shining_Glory (Crane@97-030-420-78.static.tpgi.com.au) Quit (Quit: Leaving)

[21:46] <Alvuea> Radiant blushes at Little Spume's words, though she nods, "Of course not, dear."  She watches the struggle to form words on Tomo's lips.  Those lips that are, oddly, rather redder than their lovely natural state.  Then she hears what Little Spume has to say.  She bites her lower lip slightly, and then smiles, "Whoa!  Congratulations!  I... that's exactly

[21:46] <Alvuea> what you'd wanted..." she starts with excitement, but it rather immediately vanishes to be replaced with a soft, uncertain tone.  She looks down, at the table, rather wishing she had food in front of her, to use to create a little space, a little time.  However, no... this isn't a thing available to her.  "You might think me terribly... greedy... but I had

[21:46] <Alvuea> rather hoped that you would be here for some time.  I want to have you close, Tomo.  Such a distance... you've still just recovered... You can't have that happen again.  Please."

[21:59] <Carroo> There is a twinkle of hope and relief in the woman's eyes, which soon gets overshadowed by the dark of paranoia. How long is some time? How close? Little Spume swallows, trying to quiet her internal conflict, fingers drumming instinctively on the edge of the table. "I haven't decided yet. But if I don't go, I have given up the opportunity to rise in the ranks for good. I have until the end of Calibration to make my decision." And with that, ...

[21:59] <Carroo> ... the food arrives. Wines are sampled, small plates full of delicious little morsels brought in by dozens, digestifs lit on green and purple fire and then drunk quick before biting into a lime. There's no time for talking, and both women are forced to act social and engaging with the waiters.

[22:07] <Alvuea> Radiant considers that perhaps a more modest restaurant would have rather been a better choice.  One where there could have been a bit more discussion, "We should... discuss the future some more after dinner in a comfortable, quiet place."  is all she manages to offer, as there are indeed far too many other distractions with the collection of tiny foodstuffs

[22:07] <Alvuea> and drinks and flames and waiters, as Radiant is, of course, to be the most delightful of guests the restaurant has ever had, and even if she'd rather take Little Spume somewhere else for a long collection of activities, one of which a long collection of the future, she has a responsibility to sing to her current audience, the restaurant.  She considers her

[22:07] <Alvuea> own plans, how this throws many of them adrift, or at least changes them greatly.  Perhaps this is another sign of the time being ripe... Plume's developing army... Spume either... vanishing into higher ranks or nigh-parting with the Imperial Navy.  It is certainly some sort of sign... she knows she can't take me with her, as she had initially planned, so

[22:07] <Alvuea> long ago.

[22:14] <Carroo> Finally, when the excitement of feasting has died down, Nellens Tomo leads Radiant to the balcony of the restaurant, overseeing Pasiap's Way beneath filled with people in colorful celebration attires. Leaning against the railing, she pulls out a small pipe and fills the bowl with marijuana before lighting it with a match of smokeless fire the people of Lathe tend to use. Taking a puff, she exhales deep, tired, weariness starting to settle ...

[22:14] <Carroo> ... onto her face. "It's been hard." She lowers her pipe-holding wrist against the railing, staring at the ceiling of the Jade Soma District.

[22:22] <Alvuea> The fullness from the feast has failed to put a damper on what feels like rather severe stakes of the evening, as Radiant follows Little Spume out onto the balcony, looking down over the colorful celebrations, and watches her light the pipe.  She's never been too terribly into such things, but never one to object to another indulging, either.  Instead, she

[22:22] <Alvuea> simply pulls herself close against Tomo, feeling the strength of dragonblooded muscle against her, letting her fingers trail across a remembered scar on Tomo's back, over the cloth.  She rests her head on Tomo's side, looking upwards, listening, thinking this is a good time to let her speak, to let her own words not be spoken words, but instead simply the

[22:22] <Alvuea> language of touch.

[22:29] <Carroo> "I'll miss you terribly if I go. But if I stay..." She sighs, trying to somehow put her feelings into words. "You live in a very different world from me, I know this. A world you can't share with me. I'm the greedy one. I want you for myself. I want to wake up next to you each morning and know that you're the treasure nobody else has in this world. I - very selfishly - want your heart to only sing to me." She gives a melancholy glance at the ...

[22:29] <Carroo> ... woman, enjoying her presence but obviously starting to brace herself for rejection and separation.

[22:40] <Alvuea> Radiant doesn't pull away, she doesn't provide any separation, letting Little Spume feel her closeness, a deep bit of physicality, as she listens, and then lets the words hang in the air, and she says, "You are, indeed, a very greedy creature, Tomo.  I wouldn't possibly have it any other way.  That way you demand... it is so much of who you are.  I can... do

[22:40] <Alvuea> more to share my world with you, dear Tomo.  So very much more.  If you truly desire, I can offer that you may wake up next to me each morning... though I must be honest, I cannot truly offer what you would love to follow with that.  My song is a song for many, for all.  I treasure you deeply and want to have you beside me."  She pulls still closer, "When

[22:40] <Alvuea> you are ready, let us go.  I think it may be time for me to sing the most private of songs to you."

[22:55] <Carroo> Emptying her pipe, Tomo hesitates. Yes, she could go with Radiant tonight. Yes, she could become even more addicted to her presence, even more obsessed with her spirit, body and scent. She could let her emotions run wild; stay in Lathe, stay with her, grow bitter when she is not the singer's world like the singer is hers, become jealous, vindictive, hateful and destructive. She envisions the heated arguments, her temper flaring, furniture ...

[22:55] <Carroo> ... smashed and voices raised. She imagines making her beloved Radiant cry. The kohl runs, in a single drop, from the corner of her eye down to her cheek. Then, with a quavering voice, she chooses. "... I am not ready. I am sorry." The large woman pushes off the railing, pulling her arm from the singer's grasp, before starting to head back inside the restaurant.

[23:08] <Alvuea> Radiant spins about, grasping at Tomo's hand, as she turns, as she's pulling away, she speaks, pouring emotion and perhaps a bit more into her words "No.  Tomo, love.  Please.  I need your presence, your beautiful music with mine.  I can't lose you to the sea.  I thought I almost did so before and I can't do that again.  Be with me, please."

[23:30] <Carroo> Her resolve crumbles under that four-letter word. Days of preparation and steeling herself for this moment turn to dust as the woman is unable to resist the singer's allure, unable to leave and pursue her dream if it means being separate from her beloved. Nellens Tomo halts. Her faith shattered, her loyalty and belief in her home overridden by the woman, she slowly starts to turn. Radiant needs her. Radiant wants her. Does she even need any ...

[23:30] <Carroo> ... other purpose? Unchaining herself from all the things she thought defined her, she lets her heart guide her. She is now her life, she is now what defines her. She is her goddess and her sun. Her lips part, before she confesses in a whisper; "I love you so. I will stay, with you. Forever."

[23:37] <Alvuea> Radiant grabs Tomo's fingers tighter, "I love you, too, Tomo.  I... oh, you have no idea how I've longed to hear those words, but I didn't want to take you away from your sea, but... it seems you had to choose one and I am going to show you how you made... exactly the right choice." she leads on, to ride off to the most private of spaces where they will

[23:37] <Alvuea> (probably) commit carnal acts not seen since the first age.

--

21:56 <Nyumetsu> Time has little meaning for Nyumetsu in the Wyld's endless shifting chaos. He has defined his entire life by his interactions with others- and without them it all fades apart; it's a good thing he told somoene to pick him up at a set time- and that if he's done he can just tell them to go back and return in a week or so. He meditates on- and weaves magic into his exercise; as the energy of change burns around him in his te

21:57 <Nyumetsu> he draws on it to enfuse his very being- to make it easier for his body to grow; as he draws on the concept of the potential hidden within chaos by nature- and on the strength untapped within his own body.

22:03 <Nyumetsu> But it is not only the untapped and latent physical potential of his body he is drawing upon. He lets the Wyld's ability to change seep into his being as well- almost by reflex. He shapes it about himself- letting weaves and tendrils of emotion and passion flow about him- experimenting with the limitless power of the Wyld... and using that to fuel a certain spell instead- using that to weave his invulnerable armor of cryst

22:04 <Nyumetsu> using that limitless energy of chaos and nightmares and /dreams/ to shape his hide of black crystal into being- a long, slow process, during which he casts the spell normally many times. He gazes upon creatures of crystal and flesh every day in this Wyld- so why is it so hard to become one for a time, he wonders.

22:08 <Nyumetsu> -crystal

22:17 <Nyumetsu> Still- it is slow going for most of his workings- as he continues to look to the sky. What began as an idle fancy has evolved beyond that into a working of dreams- something symbolic to him. Flying free- wouldn't that be glorious..? To ascend past what he used to be- to cease to be just a knife in the night, and become... something more. Flight.. being free of all those earthly tethers and bonds- it becomes a more intoxica

22:18 <Nyumetsu> intoxicating dream to him by the day, as he works tirelessly to shape the wings on which he will fly- if only in the Wyld. He knows his works are temporary- but it is a clearing influence on his mind, ironically- shaping Chaos bringing order to his thoughts, as he weaves for himself.. wings from a dream.