Exalted: Pillar at the Roof of the World
Game 1: Sick Times
At The Weeping Willow, the party continue into late night when a messenger named Garwulf comes to the tavern searching for Muras Konta – explaining to Penge O Dimm that he didn't seek assistance from the Dragon-Blooded scion Muras Ohri because the man was unfamiliar and he had come in from the blizzard searching for Konta specifically.
Despite the continuing storm, they set out in a borrowed iceboat that Konta pilots perfectly despite the terrible winds and the pitch darkness (thanks to some Solar Sail charms to bolster the ropes and negate the penalties). Arriving in a few hours, just as dawn begins to break, the group witnesses a bedraggled camp of Tear Eater barbarians hastily decamping, about to move against a local fortified homestead now visible on the horizon.
Twenty in number, the barbarians would surely pose a mortal danger to the homesteaders, despite their being dug in. Their desperation makes them even more dangerous, as the arrows and barriers that would have seemed like unreasonable threats before, they are now willing to brave in search of any supplies and food at all. The Tear Eaters are busy, and the team's iceboat is moving at a good clip, so the very first real warning the bedraggled ravagers get is Konta's careening into one of their own tents, smashing into it at full speed and trapping several of them under the full weight of a sleigh-sized skimmer (and very likely simply killing some, though it's difficult to verify at this point).
The rest attempt to rally, and Penge uses the confusion to transform himself into a large raven, immediately speeding off in the direction of the farmhouse to scout ahead. Kan Chi Ja, still under the illusion of the Muras Dragon-Blooded noble Ohri, hops lightly off the skiff and as a group of barbarians try to muster out of their tent, he dispatches them quickly in a flurry of blows. Konta, however, is not on the skiff at all – as they moved at a brake neck pace towards the tent, she had unlatched the sail from the rigging and mast, letting the air catch it fully and having her sail up at a steep angle into the air.
As the glider begins to stall, she unlimbers her artifact forge hammer with one hand, grasping precariously with the other, and drops off, flipping backwards and crashing into an assembled group of Tear Eaters (a three-dice stunt). She stuns them and during the fight, sustains a cut on the side, but makes quick work of her opposition, while Kan Shi Ja finishes his.
Meanwhile, Dead Flowers of Youth remains unfazed be the situation he has found himself in. While several barbarians who had spotted Penge initially search in vain (before moving to address Dead Flowers), five of their number assemble before the leisurely sitting Flowers. Having enacted Exquisite Etiquette Style, he puts on a brave first impression, and lessens their initial resistance to his social attacks. Their resistance eroded, they still attempt an assault, striking at the sitting man – but either failing to strike him entirely as he moves calmly out of the way, or else their attacks cannot even scratch his soulsteel armor. Flowers's mein changes abruptly from placid to demanding as he loudly calls for their surrender as he stands. (A two-die stunt.) Such is the ferocity of his demand, combined with the utter failure of their attacks to even scratch a sitting adversary, that their will to fight crumbles and they submit.
The whole business takes only a few moments and, after establishing that these are the Tear Eaters she thinks they are, Konta sets the crumpled tent aflame with her forge gauntlet. Acrid smoke fills the air and any barbarians not crushed by the iceboat probably perish from asphyxiation or heat quickly, but Konta doesn't wait for a body count and immediately takes off for the homestead in the distance on foot.
Penge is already there, landing on a windowsill where the shutters are designed to double as arrow slats. Inside the family seems to be taking watches, younger family members sleeping restlessly while those keeping watch are taken aback by the large bird that's landed. Penge is glad to see that the family is seemingly well, if anxious, and uses Instinct Memory Insertion to create a story in their memory of the Exalted success in battle here, and what they perceive to be a totem of the Battle Crow blessing the occasion.
As Konta runs towards the house, in full view of Kan Chi Jan, Dead Flowers bids the remaining Tear Eaters to take what they will from the remains of the dead – including flesh, as he sees their mouths water. About eight in number, most refuse to eat of the recent dead though they are gaunt and clearly starving, their gums high on their teeth, and their faces weathered and dry. Some tear at the tent itself, chewing on the treated leather with disgust while some few do pick on the burning flesh of their former comrades in a gruesome display of cannibalism. Meanwhile, just as Wulfgar had mentioned back at The Weeping Willow, the Lujani iceboat militias had been roused, but were forced to take shelter when the winds became too bad, and their sails became clearly evident even as they came in from the east with the glare of the rising sun at their back.
Konta doubled back rapidly, to make it back to the barbarian camp and the iceboat before they arrived while Dead Flowers halted those barbarians that had descended into frenzy with stern words, forcing them back to attention. Not wanting to be around when the Muras-loyal militia arrived, she rapidly repaired the iceboat by reattaching the sail to the mast – though they only barely had space to take any of the Tear Eaters back for questioning at all.
Leaving six to the mercy of the militia, Dead Flowers selected two young men from the band and bound them, placing them aboard before they all set off – Penge arriving just in time to flee, and changing back to his normal form. Speeding off in good form, the group could see several of the expeditionary iceboats surround the remaining Tear Eaters while two made good to follow though, as they split from the main group, one ship tilted and found itself careening into the other, causing both of them to break chase. In this way, the band found itself able to travel back unmolested in the morning calm back to The Weeping Willow.
On the return trip, Dead Flowers spends time interrogating the two barbarians, learning that the raiding party was driven awry from their normal skirmishing and raiding territories by a spirit named Cannibal Winds Ego, who would repeatedly harass the group, going so far as to pick off whoever asserted themselves as leader at any given point until the band was down to a scant few people. The spirit would send whispers telling them where to go whenever they tried to sleep and would murder a few every couple of days, no matter what they did to try to stop it. Because they were a young band hoping to be properly blooded in their raids, they had no powerful ghosts to protect them, and the ones they had were driven off.
They return to the inn, where Dead Flowers disappears upstairs with the two barbarians – but only one is seen again. One is exsanguinated to feed the Abyssal's mote pool and bound as a ghost to the building while the other is sent to rest out from the sight of others until Flowers sends for him. The group proceeds to rest until late afternoon when a messenger approaches Dead Flowers with a message for Muras Ohri, making sure to see if the Dragon-Blooded Exalt sees fit to be interrupted. He does, and is provided a letter from Guild Factol [[Sartaq Altan]] with a request for a meeting in Lujang – with a proposition in mind.
EXP Rewarded: 8