Dynasty of Dovak

BY : JohnDoe
Category: +A through F > Exalted RPG
Dragon prints: 2113
Disclaimer: White Wolf, Exalted and Exalted 3rd Edition are all trademarks of White Wolf Publishing AB, and official characters, names, places and text are copyrighted by White Wolf. I do not own Exalted and I'm not making money from this fiction.

Session 21 – Ganan (50XP 40DX, Spent 50XP, 36DX; 18GP 3SP) and Melody – Into the Maelstrom

 

“Wake up!”

 

Cynis Ganan opens his eyes to find himself in the back of a rough wooden cart. Crudely spun rope lies cut, dropping loosely from his wrists and ankles. He shambles off the cart to find Mnemon Nanals standing over a sleeping bear.

 

Nanals holds out a hand, “Do you have my book?”

 

Ganan silently reaches into his belt pouch and hands over ‘A Lover Clad In Blue’.

 

Nanals gives a rich sigh of satisfaction, “Good boy.”

 

Ganan looks around, they are alone. “Where are the others?”

 

“Tied up in the back of carts, being pulled by the Lunar’s bears.” She gestures vaguely in all directions.

 

Ganan growls and thumps the side of the cart in frustration, he takes a deep breath, “What’s the plan?”

 

Nanals smiles broadly.

 

****

 

Melody and Reya race through the trees astride Yipyip. After using the secret tunnel to escape the Wall to beyond the city limits, they struck out on a lightning strike against the bearfolk encampment to reclaim their lost artifacts.

 

Tinkara Dovak, Crown of Laurels and The Gift of Merciful Silence follow behind on foot. Clearly the Anathema is powerful enough to kill Tinkara despite her elemental bodyguard, but if the Gift is going to betray them then their audacious plan would fail no matter what precautions they take.

 

Melody is comforted by her sister holding her tight around the waist, it feels good to be in the saddle again. Not daring to fly over the trees, Melody deftly steers the agata between tree trunks, easily spurring the demon to top speed despite the darkness and the terrain.

 

****

 

As Melody and Reya race back to the bearfolk camp, Nanals and Ganan race for Eletha’s copse on a Stormwind Rider.

 

“Tell me Ganan, what do you know about Sondok?”

 

“Sondok. She-Who-Stands-In-Doorways. Demon of the Second Circle. Warden Soul of Ligier. Associations include: Biryu, the hell hound; and the protection of treasures, locks and sentinels. Her mandala can be found hidden within the book I just gave you, in the negative space in the image of the three lovers on page 23.”

 

“Very good my boy, very good.” Nanals deftly steers the dust-devil through the trees.

 

Ganan continues, “Summoned by Anathema to guard their lairs, or instruct them in warfare. As a Demon of the Second Circle, Sondok is all-but-impossible to bind to a sorceress’s will. The Empress, as rightful ruler of all Creation, has managed the feat, of course. As has your mother, using the dread power of the Emerald Thurible. Even so, Sondok may only be summoned on moonless nights. Texts disagree, but I understand a blood sacrifice is also usually required. And I should tell you, I’ve never even summoned a Demon of the First Circle: my demonology is entirely theoretical. Even if it were possible to summon Sondok, you should have saved,” Ganan pauses, thinking Reya, “Alinos. She’s the demonologist.”

 

Nanals cackles, “My daughter is the last thing we need. I don’t need another sorceress getting in my way! I need a strong arm in case things go wrong.”

 

Ganan shakes his head, “Even the Empress couldn’t summon Sondok with a gibbous moon in the sky! And besides, summoning rituals have precise timing, we’d need to begin at nightfall and be finished by midnight. We need to go back and free the others.” He doesn’t add that he doubts his ability to bring down one of the most infamous demons of the Second Circle in single combat.

 

“Have a little faith. You don’t think I sat at Mnemon’s knee for a lifetime without learning a trick or two?”

 

****

 

As Reya and Melody draw near to their goal, Melody spots a glowing light. She sets down the agata and approaches the apparition of an ancestor ghost. In a mournful voice, the ghost speaks:

 

“My master says you seek your artifacts. The bearfolk have them there,” She points at a hastily erected tent, surrounded by guards, “The guards have been anointed by the shamen: they can see ghosts. And a line of grain bars our entry. You will have to approach with stealth.”

 

Reya and Melody share a knowing look.

 

“You need a distraction.” Reya states decisively.

 

The ghost looks bewildered as Reya begins summoning a Stormwind Rider. Melody jumps back on her agata, as Reya blazes through the bearfolk camp, yelling the Burning Name, setting things on fire.

 

The guards which don’t chase after her are quickly put down by Melody’s arrows. Entering the tent, she throws her short-bow aside, her eyes quickly finding the golden gleam of Summer Thunder. Artifact bow back in hand, Melody almost feels whole again. She loads the other artifacts onto Yipyip as quickly as she can, then bolts from the camp – putting as much distance between herself and the Anathema as possible.

 

****
 

Ganan and Nanals set down at the fortifications around the Heart-Rot Tree.

 

Blood stains the ground, but no bodies can be found. Ganan quickly surmises that The Gift of Merciful Silence must have slaughtered the Dovaki troops stationed here, and used their bodies to swell the ranks of the undead army sent to raze Dovak.

 

Nanals is unperturbed and heads straight for the Heart-Rot Tree.

 

Not expecting a reply, Ganan sets his Voice on the Wind, “Reya, where are you?” Before reluctantly heading after Nanals.

 

****

 

Melody sets her Voice on the Wind, and informs the Gift that she has the artifacts and to free the captured Dragon-Blooded.

 

****

 

Reya puts straight line distance on the bearfolk camp, booking it as fast as possible away from Mishra. Her brow furrows as Ganan’s message reaches her: the last time she saw him he was knocked unconscious by the Mists of Eventide.

 

****

 

As Nanals approaches the Heart-Rot Tree, she pulls out a pale opal, no larger than a chickens egg. She holds the precious gem out before her and speaks a single word in Old Realm, “Malfeas.

 

The Heart-Rot Tree shudders, and begins to transform. Where before it was a dead thing, it now sprouts new life. Strange new life. Metal leaves begin to unfurl from dead branches. The tree begins to throb, as if a living heart beat inside of it. Grayish bark takes on the green tint of tarnished bronze. Nanals’ opal also transforms, becoming a radiant emerald, shining with its own inner green light, illuminating the darkness.

 

Dumbfounded, Ganan looks to the sky: it is moonless as any night of Calibration.

 

Nanals produces a bag of sorcerous supplies, and starts drawing glyphs and sigils. Ganan doesn’t ponder too much about what else might be inside the bag, but stomps back to the large boulder beyond the defensive perimeter to retrieve his weapon. Ganan does note that the bag is clearly not something made on the Blessed Isle, but has the same crude quality as the bearfolk ropes he was bound with.

 

****

 

After putting a good twenty miles between herself and the bearfolk camp, Reya starts to loop around. First she contacts Melody to confirm that the plan is well underway: it is. Then she contacts Ganan who informs her of his rescue and where he is.

 

Reya loops back to regroup with Melody, Tinkara and the Gift.

 

“We have a problem.”

 

The Gift of Merciful Silence looks irritated, “Yes, we do. It’s an army of bearfolk led by a shape-changing Anathema who are going to burn m- your city to the ground. We’re supposed to be killing them together.” He gives an exaggerated pout as he speaks the last sentence.

 

“Hold on!” Melody interjects, “It was your zombie army that set the city on fire, the bearfolk were putting the flames out!”

 

The Gift is inscrutable, but Reya does not give him the chance to respond, “Ganan is with Edge of the Wolf’s Blade. They’re going to summon the demon Sondok.”

 

The Gift snorts and shakes his head pointing at the sky, “It can’t be done. Try again in eight days.”

 

Melody grits her teeth, “I don’t know anything about demon summoning, Reya. But if you think it’s going to be a problem, then you should go to him. Yipyip and I will give out the weapons, and we’ll try to stop Mishra without you.”

 

Reya nods, solemnly, “Gather everyone together and prepare to attack the Lunar. The Gift and I will put a stop to this.”

 

The Gift looks bemused, “Fine. If you want your family to die attacking Mishra without my help, we can chase down your husband’s delusions. I honestly don’t care.”

 

“You’ll need this.” Melody hands Reya Perdurant Vault.

 

The sisters clasp hands in solidarity, and an impatient Deathknight whips up his own Stormwind Rider with a single snap of his fingers.

 

****

 

Ganan goes back to Nanals, weapon drawn.

 

“This is a demesne. It shouldn’t have a Hearthstone.”
 

Nanals smiles as she continues working on the ritual to beckon Sondok forth, “Is that a question or a statement?”

 

Ganan points his tetsubo at the emerald-that-was-an-opal, “What is that?”

 

Nanals sighs, “It is the focus of a powerful bit of sorcery. This tree is a gateway between many worlds. The sorcerer who forged it, did so from a roiling island of Wyld energy. The tree has a stabilizing effect on this energy, leading to what you mistakenly identify as a demesne. The tree is a gate. The gem is the key that opens the gate.”
 

“Which is presently a gate to Malfeas?”

 

“The demon city, yes. As I said, it’s powerful sorcery. But the magics which bind demons to Malfeas is powerful also. To allow Sondok to cross over, we must ease the path a little.”

 

Ganan does not retract his tetsubo, and begins to close on Nanals, “And how, exactly, do you plan on binding Sondok once she is here?”

 

****

Even at Yipyip’s best speed, reaching all of the Dragon-Blooded takes time. Melody returns their artifacts and gathers them up as best as she can. Both Alinos and Bekara are difficult to rouse, but Melody manages to get them both awake.

 

The Dragon’s are grimly determined to march on the bearfolk, and the sorceresses use their magic to unite everyone faster.

 

****

 

Reya and the Deathknight hurtle towards Eletha’s copse on the Gift’s Stormwind.

 

****

Tinkara and Laurels proceed to rendezvous with the Dragons to attack Mishra.

 

****

 

Nanals sucks her teeth, “Now, my boy. Who ever said anything about binding Sondok?”

 

****

 

Melody twists a loose strand of demon-ichor from Yipyip’s tail into Summer Thunder’s bow string, and the Dragon-Blooded charge the bearfolk camp.

 

****

 

“Daimother or not, I’ll not let you loose an unbound demon on Creation, Nanals!”

 

Ganan shifts into Earth Dragon Form, as Nanals draws a whisper thin-blade as if from nowhere and disengages back.

 

****

 

Combat is enjoined.

 

Nanals: 9i (43m, 1a, 7WP, Earth Aura, -1 Wound Penalty (2L)) Short

The Dragon-Blooded: 9i (Size 1, Magnitude 9, Might 3, Average Drill, Accuracy 12, Damage 21/3, Move 2, Defense 8, Soak 17/10, 6WP, 39m)

Ganan: 8i (5/0m, 2a, 2WP, Dragon Graced Weapon, Earth Aura, Earth Dragon Form, -1 Wound Penalty (5L))

Tinkara: 6i (5WP)

Melody: 6i (13/22m, 5WP, Bonded Mount)

Mishra: 5i (17/30m, 1a, 5WP) Long Range

Bearfolk: 5i (Grizzled Mercenary Beastfolk (Claws 1, Unusual Hide 2, Hideous 0, Enhanced Sense (Smell) 3); Size 3, Magnitude 10, Might 1, Elite Drill, Accuracy 12, Damage 16/2, Move 7, Defense 7, Soak 13/0, 5WP) Long Range

 

Backing further away from Ganan, Nanals continues the ritual to beckon forth Sondok, “I understand your reservations, Ganan. Sondok was not my first choice. Unfortunately for us, Ragara Haseti set this in motion long before our arrival.”

 

Ganan warily closes the distance again, “If you want to talk, then stop this ritual and we’ll talk.” Ganan rushes forward, but Nanals, expecting the charge, gracefully keeps her distance.

 

Meanwhile, the Dragon-Blooded barrel into the bearfolk camp with as much subtly as Ganan, hoping to catch their enemies off guard. They smash open the crude perimeter, but the bulk of the bearfolk force is too far away to meaningfully engage.

 

Melody swoops in closer, sighting Mishra as she glows in a dreamlike glow of purple and silver. Even from this distance, she spots the tinkling hollow circle on her brow, marking her as one of the Ogres. Her bear ears seem so obviously out of place now, as the bob of the agata beneath her shifts her aim reflexively, and she sights with Unobstructed Hunter’s Aim and uses the Arrow Thorn Technique (4/18m). The arrow flies through the air, bursting into thorns: by all rights it should be impossible to block. Mishra’s skill with an axe is excellent (9/30m) and her battle axe nearly deflects the blow, rising with impossible speed to shave thorns off the side of the projectile and knocking it from a killing course, yet the arrow still strikes, glancing off Mishra and causing her to curse (9i/3i).

 

“Forward!” Tinkara cries, “For Dovak! For the Realm!” The battered Dragon-Blooded are invigorated (4WP, Magnitude 11).

 

The bearfolk close ranks and move in against the advancing Dragons, now only a Short distance away.

 

Mishra recovers from the arrow shot and throws her head back to the sky. All thoughts of caution and careful planning abandoned, howling wildly at the moon. Her skin splits apart and cracks, as her form morphs and grows larger, revealing the thick hide of a grizzly bear. The Deadly Beastman Transformation leaves her a hulking brute, dominating the battlefield and burning with the light of the moon (9/25m, 2a, 4WP).

 

Melody: 9i (5/22m, Wood Aura, 5WP, Bonded Mount)

The Dragon-Blooded: 9i (Size 1, Magnitude 11, Might 3, Average Drill, Accuracy 12, Damage 21/3, Move 2, Defense 8, Soak 17/10, 6WP, 44m)

Nanals: 9i (43m, 1a, 7WP, Earth Aura, -1 Wound Penalty (2L)) Medium Range

Ganan: 8i (5/5m, 2a, 2WP, Dragon Graced Weapon, Earth Aura, Earth Dragon Form, -1 Wound Penalty (5L))

Tinkara: 6i (4WP)

Bearfolk: 5i (Grizzled Mercenary Beastfolk (Claws 1, Unusual Hide 2, Hideous 0, Enhanced Sense (Smell) 3); Size 3, Magnitude 10, Might 1, Elite Drill, Accuracy 12, Damage 16/2, Move 7, Defense 7, Soak 13/0, 5WP) Short Range

Mishra: 3i (9/30m, 2a, 5WP) Medium Range

 

In a flurry of action, Melody bellows at her family as she nocks her next arrow, “We end this now! For the Dynasty!” She lets fly into the battle-group (5/16m), and the thorny arrow punctures the closest of them (12i/Magnitude 8).

 

Emboldened, the Dragons charge the bearfolk line and the battle is engaged in earnest (Magnitude 7).

 

Tinkara moves up to Melody, and with a smooth motion mounts alongside her.

 

Back at the Gateway Tree, Nanals continues the ritual to bring Sondok forth. “Haseti planned to beckon Sondok weeks ago. To use her to kill us and secure Dovak for House Ragara. Danireya and I made sure not to let that happen. But now we face two Anathema Ganan: turning She-Who-Stands-In-Doorways loose is our best chance of killing Mishra and freeing the others.”

 

Ganan does not falter, and he charges at Nanals once more. The elderly Dragon-Blooded is faster than she seems and retreats like smoke, but Essence carries Ganan forward like the Effortlessly Rising Flame (5/3m) drawing closer. The two circle the Gateway tree as Sondok draws ever nearer.

 

In the bearfolk camp, the beastfolk strike back against the Dynasts. Seeking to overwhelm them with numbers, the bears hammer the Dragons from all sides, but the practiced discipline of the elite Exalted force keeps them at bay.

 

Mishra barrels past her troops, closing the distance between her and Yipyip. She blasts forward on a surge of Essence with the Predator’s Grace Method (6/26m), but the agata flits away out of reach.

 

Nanals: 9i (48m, 1a, 7WP, Earth Aura, -1 Wound Penalty (2L)) Short Range & Rushed

Ganan: 8i (5/8m, 2a, 2WP, Dragon Graced Weapon, Earth Aura, Earth Dragon Form, -1 Wound Penalty (5L))

 

Melody: 12i (5/19m, Wood Aura, 5WP, Bonded Mount)

Mishra: 3i (6/31m, 2a, 5WP) Short Range

 

The battle between the Exalted and the Bearfolk seems to drift into a haze. Melody can hear Tinkara bellowing orders from the back of Yipyip, and knows that her duty is to keep the Anathema from effectively leading her forces – that means keeping her busy without making her lose interest.

 

She sends another thorny arrow at the Lunar (5/16m), and again Mishra turns the killing blow into a glancing one at the last moment (6/18m). Mishra’s Impenetrable Beast Armor is barely grazed by the arrow (14i/2i), and her anima flares into a giant bear on its hind-legs. Argent light can be seen for miles as the bear collapses into a raging bonfire of Essence. Melody backs Yipyip off, trying to draw Mishra away from the fight.

 

Mishra bounds after the retreating Dragon, howling with blood-lust and tries to close the gap once more. Despite the agata’s speed, the half-bear monster Rushes closer.

 

“You owe your fealty to my daughter’s house, Ganan. Stop this. Now.” Nanals holds her ground, the tension in the air slackens as the ritual is paused (44m, 6WP). The air, pregnant with sorcerous Essence, starts to clear as the energies used to beckon Sondok stop building (if only for a moment).

 

Against his better judgment, Ganan is stopped in his tracks. He knows unleashing Sondok on Creation is a great evil, but he has also been raised from birth to respect his elders and follow instructions from the women of his house. Reluctantly, he lowers his guard. “You are unleashing an evil that you cannot control and I cannot contain. Don’t do this Nanals.”

 

Melody: 14i (5/21m, Wood Aura, 5WP, Bonded Mount)

Mishra: 2i (6/23m, 3a, 5WP) Short Range, Rush

 

Melody continues to back her agata off, but Mishra easily keeps pace, bounding after her. Closing her eyes, Melody draws breath and draws back her bow. She exhales, opens her eyes, sights the Anathema… and looses another thorn (5/18m, 4WP) as Mishra relies on her Impenetrable Beast Armor to protect her (6/18m). The thorn flies true and without Mishra’s full attention to deflect it, it strikes her square in the chest. Whilst the Beast Armor protects Mishra’s life, the blow knocks the wind from her (24i/-2i CRASH).

 

Mishra closes the gap and swings her battle axe in a two-handed, overhead strike (6/11m, 4WP). Melody rears Yipyip hard, and the blow glances from her armor (0i/23i).

 

Melody: 23i (6/22m, Wood Aura, 5WP, Bonded Mount)

Mishra: 0i (6/23m, 3a, 5WP)

 

Melody calls on her powers, The Skirmisher’s Piercing Deliverance, Laughing Stallion’s Escape, Scattered Hoof Falls, Unobstructed Hunter’s Aim (6/2m, 3a, 3WP). Despite Mishra’s defenses (6/15m), the shot hits (25i/-1i). Seemingly thrown back by the shot, Melody disengages (25i/-2i), despite Mishra’s unholy speed (6/11m, 10 success to 9).

 

Mishra rushes closer (6/7m), but Melody pulls the agata into the air keeping her distance (6/0m).

 

Melody: 25i (6/5m, 3a, Wood Aura, 3WP, Bonded Mount)

Mishra: -2i (6/12m, 3a, 5WP) Short Range

 

“Fuck. You.” Melody launches with Unobstructed Hunter’s Aim and Nock and Canter Unity as the thorns of her anima lash Tinkara (1/0m, 2WP). Mishra defends with everything she has (5/0m, 4WP). The arrow catches the bear beast in the neck, and a great gout of blood spurts forth (9L, -4).

 

The great bear-woman seems to collapse in on itself, shrinking to a glowing badger. The shining light of the moon is swallowed by the earth as the badger burrows its way into the ground to escape the flying archer above it.

 

Cursing in frustration, Melody drops Tinkara back with the others, who are still battling their way through the bearfolk, “I’m going back for Clapper!” She roars above the din. Ferad gives her a quick nod, then disembowels the closest bear warrior. Tinkara falls in to the rear of the formation, avoiding the lashing animas of the Dragons, and Melody races back to town.

 

****

The Gift of Merciful Silence and Mnemon Alinos Danireya arrive at the Gateway Tree, the gift opens his mouth, “What?-”

 

They ride on their Stormwind past Ganan’s fortifications and see Nanals standing before the tree. The Gift snaps his fingers and the Stormwind dissipates. He unslings his warclub and advances on Nanals. The elder Dragon-Blooded turns, blood streams from her eyes and wrists. The Gateway Tree pulses, beats and splits open.

 

From the depths of the tree a woman strides with the grace of a tiger. Blood stains her face and her talon-like fingers. Clad in red leather and black silk, with a decaying dog spirit stalking her heels… Sondok.

 

“Oh hell no!” The Gift’s anima flashes blue and black, and crawls over his body as he vanishes, leaving Reya facing her daimother and Sondok alone.

 

Merde.

 

****
 

Ganan trains Masterful Dragon-Artisan Expertise (8XP).



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