Dynasty of Dovak

BY : JohnDoe
Category: +A through F > Exalted RPG
Dragon prints: 2114
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 23 – Ganan (55XP 44X, Spent 50XP, 36DX; 18GP 3SP) – Equivalent Exchange

 

Ganan stares at the Gateway Tree as brass filigree grows like lizard scales unfolding from within the formerly dead bark. When he looks at the brass square on, he sees his own reflection, but from the corner of his eye he sees the blood stained face of a woman dressed in red and black.

 

“If I may offer some advice: one’s first instinct on arriving is to draw breath, therefore it is better to exhale just as you pass through the portal.”

 

Mnemon Nanals, her voice like silk and honey seems to be inches from his ear, but still Ganan barely hears her. He nods, stiffly, as if barely able to control his body, not trusting himself to speak.

 

Nanals goes back to her preparations. A distant and distracted part of Ganan’s mind takes in the details of the ritual as he stares into the brass and tries not to think about what is about to happen. He dimly notes Nanals dress the worst of his wounds, and the pain in his body receding, somewhat (5B).

 

After an eternity Nanals presses the glowing emerald into his empty palm, “Socket it into your tetsubo, then banish it. There’s not a lot of Earth to be found in Malfeas, so you’ll have to use your anima, or the black basalt the demons build with. This key is your only way back, and if you don’t start the journey in three days, you’ll never be able to break though back to Creation. Even if you can find your way out, your bond to Sondok will be broken and she will be loose here – and who knows where you will be. Speak the name of Creation’s focus and walk towards us, the key will do the rest.”

 

Ganan sockets the gem and banishes his tetsubo into the last vestiges of his anima, which goes dim.

 

Nanals removes her pocket watch and attaches it to Ganan with a motherly affection. “Good time-keeping is essential in Malfeas. Check it often to avoid the worst hazards. Best of luck.”

Blood starts to pour from Nanals eyes, staining her cheeks, and with a practiced deftness, she pierces her wrists with her rapier. As the blood touches the ground, the Gateway Tree starts to shimmer. Nanals traces Sondok’s mandala a final time, directly onto the tree with her own blood, and the brazen bark ripples like the surface of a pond disrupted by a pebble.

 

“Pasiap watch over you Cynis Ganan.” Nanals beckons Ganan to walk into the tree, which he does.

 

****

 

There is a rushing sensation. Like falling. Like being dragged. There is pain: pain like needles, pain like ice. The burning of smoke in the eyes. The taste of sand in the mouth. Blinding (green) light in the eyes, Ganan’s teeth ring with the sensation left in ones ears after nails have been run down a chalk-board.

 

And then it stops, and Ganan sucks in great breaths of rancid air, pregnant with the reeking hatred of the Yozi. He blinks, eyes adjusting to the light of the Green Sun. A disjointed cacophony hits his ears, harp music expressing self-loathing, the clamor of gongs and the musical squall of fulope and jazon demons.

 

Ganan looks up, great towers of metal stretch to a metal sky. A menacing green sun pulses in the absolute zenith above him. The towers are far taller than anything Ganan has seen in Creation, dwarfing Urza Arcus, as well as the buildings of Nexus and the Imperial City.

 

Oi, videe this great, gawping, golden bog!

 

Ganan looks and sees a pair of demons pointing at him. A cloud arsenal and a naneke, the naneke nudges the tomescu, and approaches Ganan, “Tha’s ne ‘golden bog’, wobble-brains. 'Tis common bronze. What be ye? Wizgig, I’ll wager. Dragon? ’Nathema?

 

Ganan eyes the demon, “Clearly this is Malfeas. Where is Sondok’s domain?

 

The tomescu gives an involuntary twitch at Sondok’s take and points up, “Forge-ward aways. ’Level a-least, bronze bog.

 

Ganan looks up at the impossibly high ceiling. At least one level higher than he was. It could take three days simply to reach Sondok’s domain.

 

Before he can say anything else, Nanals’ watch begins to chime. Ganan flips it open, it is impossibly intricate, even more so than a Varangian time piece, showing time, moon phase and a host of other dials marked with intricate Old Realm glyphs in tiny, barely legible script. One such glyph shines a sickly green. As Ganan spells it out in his mind, a great cry comes from the demons above them “Stone rain!

 

There’s a groaning cry as the impossibly far away ceiling starts to get closer, and closer.

 

Forge-ward!” shouts the tomescu as it begins scaling the side of the nearest building.

 

Sand-ward!” howls naneke as it scurries for a nearby hole.

 

Ganan bolts after the naneke, as the obsidian cause-ways above them crumble and start to fall. The demon calls out to him as they descend into what passes for earth between the layers of Malfeas, “This way Bronze-gig! Shite!

 

A half-second later, Ganan has caught up and sees what has caused the demon alarm. A short distance away is a tunnel leading side-ways and from the demon’s frantic gesturing the path to safety. Between them and the tunnel is a cavern rapidly filling with acid. Though it’s no more than ankle deep, Ganan watches it dissolve all the detritus in the cave in less than a heart-beat. The acid sea of Kimbery. “That tunnel leads to safety?

 

The demon nods frantically, “Tha follow it true, take tha to the layer beyond.

 

Ganan hoists the demon and throws it midway across the cavern into the acid. It gives an inhuman shriek of pain which turns into a death knell as Ganan leaps across the cavern, landing bodily on its back. The acid is already dissolving the poor creature as Ganan’s boots land heavily upon it. The demonic broth licks Ganan’s heels as he leaps again. Ganan doesn’t stop to look back as he runs hard down tunnel, certain death a heartbeat behind.

 

There’s a roar of grinding metal and crashing stone as two layers of Malfeas come crashing together behind him. A great curtain of air-pressure gusts along the tunnel, picking up droplets of acid and clouds of dust. As Ganan sees the (green) light at the end of the tunnel, he leaps into the air, just as the blast-wave hits him and is flung into the next level of Malfeas.

 

Ganan twists in the air, and lands hard with a grunt.

 

Ganan picks himself up from the ground and painfully stretches out his joints.

 

First time?

 

Ganan turns and sees a young… man? Pallid skin and blood red eyes, he’s slouched casually against the brass wall of a tenement, but to Ganan’s practiced eye, the man’s ease looks affected.

 

Ganan nods.

 

The man walks over to him, “Whim.” He extended a hand. Ganan leaves the hand hanging in the air and looks back at him, “Is my name. In the River Provinces we clasp hands like this.

 

You’re not a demon.

 

No, I’m not a demon. You don’t shake hands with demons?

 

Ganan folds his arms across his chests, “As you say, it’s my first time. I’m a little suspicious.

 

Whim retracts his hand with a shrug, “So you speak with an accent and don’t shake hands. Do you have a name?

 

Briseuse.

 

Breaker? Might want to avoid speaking in the home-tongue around here. What brings you to the Demon City?


Ganan stares impassively.

 

Whim continues, “I’m guessing you’re not here by choice. I was riding with an Immaculate – he wanted to teach the Mask of Winters his proper place in the Perfected Hierarchy. I came across a necromancer, defiling dead bodies. I gave chase, half expected her to pass into the Underworld but we ended up here.

 

Demonic pact. I’m to spend three days here in return for a specific service we require.

 

We? Sounds like you got the short end of that deal.

 

Ganan grinds his teeth and makes a small clucking noise, and Whim chuckles. “Well get used to layers smashing into each other like that. Malfeas is not an easy place to survive. You know where to get food, water, shelter?

 

I’ll get by.

 

Whim shakes his head, “No, you won’t. Come on. Arrow Wind will be pass through soon.” Whim turns and starts to walk away, he motions for Ganan to follow him.

 

Ganan flicks open his watch, the rune for “Kalmanka” does look suspiciously prominent. With no-where else to go, he follows behind Whim with a growl.

 

Whim leads breaker to a brilliant white pavilion, edged in azure blue.

 

Make yourself at home Breaker. My house is your house.” Whim hands Ganan a pitcher of water. Ganan notes Whim is looking essentially human now. Their hands touch as Ganan takes the water, and they smile at each other.

 

So… did you catch your necromancer?” Ganan takes a draw of water, it’s surprisingly cool and fresh.

 

No, are you offering?” Whim leads in, invitingly, and looks up at Ganan, eyes wide.

 

Ganan grins and takes another sip of water. He looks away, “It doesn’t add up. Why would a necromancer come to the Demon City.

 

Whim sighs, “That’s what I’ve been wondering.” He straightens up, pouting a little, “So what does a big, bronze Outcaste do when he’s stuck in the Demon City for three days.

 

I was thinking we’d find your necromancer. And who says I’m an Outcaste?

 

Whim looks Ganan square in the eye, his eyes now a lovely brown, “You’re either a Dragon or an Anathema, and you didn’t flinch when I said I was traveling with an Immaculate. Lookshy and you’d give your rank. Realm can’t help telling you how important their family is – no Realm house dresses in purple and gold. So, Outcaste. And I’ve found her, I just can’t get to her.

 

Where?” Ganan says, finishing the water.

 

Whim points up, “Forge-ward. All the way. It’s a tower called The Conventicle Malfeasant – the security is impossible. She’s an honored guest of the Yozi. You look like you could use some sleep.

 

The great shriek of the Cloud Arsenals signifying morning cries out.

 

Ganan nods, and Whim leads him to a simple bed. Ganan lays down and closes his eyes.

 

****


The Green Sun still shines, implacable and unchanging when Ganan rises in the evening. Whim offers him some dried meet and beer, which Ganan gratefully receives.

 

You look better like that. Bronze is overplayed in Malfeas.

 

Ganan smiles and begins recasting Invulnerable Skin of Bronze, carefully casting in the Valkhawsen style.

 

There’s a handful of dangers to traverse between here and the Conventicle. Standard Malfean fare.

 

Ganan nods as the spell takes, “We get there, then what’s the plan? I’ll fight your necromancer but unless you’re a lot more powerful than you look, I don’t think the two of us can take on all of hell.

 

Whim looks serious for a moment, and walks over to a chest in the corner of the pavilion, he withdraws a large scythe made of soulsteel and a matching buff jacket, which he starts to don, “Oh, I’m a lot tougher than I look. But you’re right, brute force isn’t going to get us inside.

 

Ganan studies Whim carefully, disquieted by the soulsteel, “Deathknights use such armament.

 

Whim stops, “I’m not an Anathema. I’m a Liminal. A ghost hunter. Where the Deathknights create the Unquiet dead in violation of the Hierarchy, we settle them and restore order.

 

I’ve not had good experiences with soulsteel weapons.” Ganan visibly relaxes, “But as you didn’t murder me in my sleep, I’ve got no reason not to trust you, and nothing better to do. Lead on.

 

****

 

Liminal and Dragon-Blooded ascend to the next shell of Malfeas. The dim of the demon city is ever present. The blood moon Ululaya appears and disappears on a whim.

 

They proceed on foot, first they climb a hill, then some stairs in a vast tower, they they scale a great pillar of basalt to reach the stony sky that makes up the upper level of this shell of Malfeas. Ganan’s great weight causes him to nearly lose his foot a couple of times, but eventually he heaves himself up into a catacomb of tunnels that make up the subterranean sewers of the layer above.

 

Maddeningly, even though Ligier’s light shines through this underground sky to illuminate the shell below, the sewers are pitch black.

 

Whim produces a torch and lights it with a flourish. It burns with a low, blue flame which casts eerie shadows. He speaks, “We must be careful where we step. The filth of the layer above runs into this catacombs and is washed out to Kimbery. If we’re not careful, we could be washed into the acid too.

 

Ganan nods, “You go ahead, I’m right behind you.

 

Whim leans in conspiratorially, his breath smelling of mint and limes, “Better keep your hands on my waist, and stay close.” He lays a hand on Ganan’s bicep, “And lift me up if I step in acid.

 

Ganan grins at Whim and puts his hands on his waist as they proceed through the darkness. Whim leads them with confidence, and they deftly avoid patches of acid. Even underground they hear clamor and wailing, the banging of gongs and scrabbling of creatures just out of sight – a constant reminder of the dangers of hell.

 

Whim calls a halt, “We might need to fight our way through here.

 

They emerge cautiously into a cavern, a trio of blood apes, even more hunched and inhuman looking than normal appear to be waiting for them, “Lookie, lookie tha’! Young Master Deader ’as ’imself a metal man as company.” The ape’s eyes shine mirthlessly in the dim torch-light. The demons more melt away than shrink back as Whim advances with the torch.

 

We are simply passing through demon,” Ganan calls out into the darkness, “There is no need for conflict between us.

 

A mocking laughter rings out from the darkness and combat is enjoined.

 

Grok joins battle on 7i (4WP).

Glok joins battle on 7i (4WP).

Gok joins battle on 7i (4WP).

Whim joins battle on 10i (10/21m), dropping the torch to his feet and drawing his scythe.

Ganan joins battle on 11i (13/20m, 1a, -1(5B)), he begins glowing with a shifting light like rolling sands.

 

Ganan waits for the corrupted blood apes to come to him (9i), as does Whim (8i).

 

Grok draws power from the darkness, and activates Principle of Darkness (60m). He hurls himself (3WP) against Whim (10/17m) in a Clash of withering blows. Whim’s scythe easily outreaches the demon’s outstretched claws, and he slashes the beast (4i/12i). Grok disengages back into the darkness.

 

Glok jumps on Whim (60m, 3WP), taking advantage of the gap in his defenses caused by swinging such a large weapon. The beast’s claws rake under his guard (11i/9i) and the corrupted erymanthus retreats back into the dark.

 

Gok jumps out of the darkness on Ganan (60m, 3WP). Ganan smashes at the Blood Ape with Force of the Mountain and Become the Hammer (13/15m, 2a), driving his fists in an overhead Smash (7i). Ganan’s blow collides before the erymanthus’s blow can land, and the Blood Ape is driven to the ground, where the light of the torch burns at its eyes (13i/2i). Gok struggles to his feet, raising a hand to shield his eyes. Ganan’s anima intensifies, burning brightly as he enters Earth Aura.

 

Ganan hammers Gok (2WP) again, with the Force of the Mountain and Stillness-of-Stone Atemi (13/15m, 3a, 11i). Ganan’s aura rages to its full strength, lighting the cavern and causing Glok and Grok to shrink back. Ganan’s blow drives Gok into the ground (23i/-5i, -2 mobility penalty).

 

With Ganan’s aura robbing them of precious darkness, Glok closes in with Principle of Motion and attacks twice (55m, 2WP). Whim defends with Essence on Parry 6 (11/11m, 1a), spinning his scythe though an impossible arc to counter the supernatural speed of the demon. The pallor of death crosses his visage, eyes glowing red.

 

Whim continues spinning his blade and brings it round in a reaping strike on Glok (11/7m). The blow sets Glok off-balance (14i/7i), and Whim glares at the demon with grim determination.

 

Grok pounces Whim (41m, 0WP), the blow knocking the ghost hunter to the ground (10i/9i). Grok (8i) grabs Whim and starts to drag him out into the darkness, away from the light of the torch.

 

Gok rises to his feet (45, 1WP) and slashes at Ganan, who easily turns the blows aside.

 

Ganan’s (13/18m) anima whips at Gok (-0) knocking the demon down again.

 

Ganan closes on Glok and hammers him into the ground with the Force of the Mountain (13/15m, 33i), Crashing Glok and sending him prone (0i).

 

Grok tries to reestablish hold of Whim, and savages the Liminal as he struggles free with a Rending Claw Slash Brutal Ape Pounce (37m, 7i). The blow drives Whim to the ground (13i/4i), and Grok falls on the Liminal with savage fury and tearing chunks out of him (3i/6L).

 

Whim (11/7m, 3i, -1(6L)) struggles free from under Grok, pushing himself back and out.

 

Gok (50m, 1WP) rises to his feet, and Glok (50m, 1WP) rises and attacks Ganan who shifts into Earth Dragon Form (2i/32i 13/6m).

 

Ganan’s anima (13/9m) knocks Glok back to the ground (1i).


Ganan runs over to Grok and drives his fist into the demon’s chest, pulling free the Blood Ape’s beating heart and crushing it in his bronze fist (13/6m, 3i).

 

Whim (11/12m, 3i, -1(6L)) struggles to his feet.

 

Glok and Gok (45m, 0WP) close with Ganan and attack. Ganan defends on Parry 6, Parry 5, Parry 4 and Parry 3 (13/9m, 4WP) as he turns Gok’s momentum against Glok, crashing one Blood Ape against the other in a glorious ballet of violence (1i/-2i/2i).

 

Ganan’s anima (13/12m) does nothing against the erymanthoi.

 

Ganan drives Glok into the ground with the Force of the Mountain (1i, 13/9m), pounding the demon into the dirt (12i/-4i).

 

Whim slashes (11/11m, 12i, -1(6L)) at Glok (-12i) as he falls, catching him with his scythe.

 

Gok attacks Ganan, and misses (3i) whilst Glok rises to his feet and attacks Whim, and also misses (-12i).

 

Ganan’s anima slashes at Glok (-0).

 

Ganan Decisively strikes Glok with the Force of the Mountain (13/11m), putting the demon in his -2s (4B/3i).

 

Whim strikes (11/16m) at the fallen demon, taking its head (5L/3i).

 

Gok lunges at Whim, Crashing him (12i/0i) prone.


Ganan’s anima does nothing.

 

Gok grabs at the prone Whim (11/15m, 5WP), who fights the demon off (10i).

 

Whim slashes at Gok, to no avail, the demon easily avoiding the prone warrior’s blow (3i).

 

Ganan smashes Gok from behind (13/13m, 1i), sending him sprawling beside Whim (6i/6i).

 

Ganan’s anima does nothing.

 

Ganan (13/16m) and the prone demon Clash as Ganan strikes with the Force of the Mountain (18i/0i) easily blowing past the demon’s defences.

 

Whim slashes Decisively at the prone demon (2L), eyes Weeping with his Crimson Gaze (11/15m, 3i).


Ganan’s anima fiercely tears at the demon, before he strikes firmly, battering the demon’s skull into the rocky floor (13/16m).


Ganan recovers the torch and passes it to Whim (whose red eyes blaze out of a patchwork of dead skin crudely stitched together surrounded in a blood red anima that stickly flows round him like a peeled scab), “This may be harder than we thought.



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