Author Archives: prions

The Bull And The Tigress

Set a few months prior to In The Shadow of the Bull, concurrent with the close of Tides of Fortune.

The sun was just rising in the East, long thin rays of light peeking over the distant tree-covered hills, as a speck of blue flame grew out of the sky and finally coalesced into a pillar of blue flame that reached down to the ground and exploded in a sudden rush of air. In the next instant, the blue fire was gone, and two living legends were standing in the grassy field, near the foot of a tall forested hill.

“This is the place?” Asked the elder of the two, though physically a mere slip of a girl, barely 17 and wearing no armor, no weapons, and not a lot of clothing besides.

“It matches everything Richard passed on, it must be the place,” Replied the younger of the two, though a physically imposing man appearing about 70 years in age. He had drawn his Second Breath a number of years after the girl, but a lifetime of mortal experience made him a natural leader.

“What else did Richard say?” Asked Samea, peering up at the hill with some uncertainty.

“Not a lot, but I expect I will be quite a while. When I’m done I’ll send a butterfly to you. You have other parts of the plan to set in motion while I’m here.”

“Of course. What if Lookshy catches on?”

“Well with that Pearl of theirs in action, they probably have already. This does concern the Underworld, after all. Now that we’re within reach of their strike squadrons we’ll have to assume that not having fire and death raining down on us counts as tacit approval.”

Samea nodded. “Well alright then. Good luck.”

She coalesced pure shining essence into her hands, focused it, then conjured a bright silver chariot and hopped on nimbly. In another moment she had bolted away into the sky, leaving glittery contrails behind her.

Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North, watched her go impassively, then turned and started hiking up the hill.

The journey really didn’t take him as long as he expected. In less than an hour he was at the top of this hill and not even winded. Around the next copse of trees he spied a set of buildings that must have been his destination. In his path, however, sat a tortoiseshell cat watching him patiently. He slowed as he approached, and the cat did not even blink, to say nothing of moving. Yurgen reached the cat and slowed further, then finally stood stock-still. He stared at the cat with his unflinching gaze, and the cat, poised as all cats are, gazed back.

So they stared at each other continuously.  Yurgen had never lost a staring contest before, but this cat was certainly a worthy opponent.  Minutes stretched to hours, the sun set, rose again, set again, and still the two stared at each other.  Yurgen knew he was being tested in some way. Of course, this cat posed no threat, he could easily swat her aside, but this mission was diplomacy of the greatest importance. If he could tolerate accidental offense he would have sent his emissary, Fear-Eater, but there was no room for error here. So they stared.

Yurgen could feel hunger and exhaustion slowly pushing at him like ocean tides against a glacier, but he stood as tall and as cold as any glacier, and eventually stubbornness consumed him. He would do this the right way no matter how long he was supposed to do it for.

On the morning of the fourth day, just as sunlight was again peeking over the same hills it had peeked over for three previous mornings, the cat blinked, yawned, and slinked off to find something to eat. Yurgen couldn’t believe it, he didn’t even register for a moment what had happened. He stretched, finding himself aching, and was for a brief moment very dizzy. When he refocused his eyes, there she was in front of him. The Tiger Lady. Narula.

“I must say, we don’t get many visitors who treat the three-day ordeal as a staring contest.”

Yurgen was as poised as any cat, but staring into Narula’s unflinching eyes reminded him why he had come.

“Narula. I am pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise. Do I know you?”

“We’ve never met directly, but I’ve heard many stories from my associate, Richard.”

Recognition flickered in Narula’s eyes. “I am assuming then that you are Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North, in person.”

Yurgen nodded curtly. “The same.”

“What brings you here to my humble dojo then?” Narula asked suspiciously.

Yurgen bowed. “I can see you are suspicious of my arrival here. If anything, this only reinforces my perception that you are a very modest person. Surely enough stories have been told of the Golden Tiger who trains mortals to best Dragon-chosen to merit a visit from the great Bull of the North.”

Narula nodded slowly. “Fair enough. Come in, we can chat over breakfast.”

Yurgen’s stony face probably didn’t betray any relief, but Narula smirked slightly anyway.

The two of them strolled around past several training students who gawked for just a few moments, and into the dining hall. They sat down on opposite sides of rough-hewn benches and were quickly passed crude bowls with eggs and oatmeal.

“So,” Narula said between mouthfuls of oatmeal, “You must have some particular purpose here.”

“I do,” Yurgen said solemnly. “I wanted to meet you in the flesh.”

“You wanted to feel me out for something,” Narula said with an even stare.

“Of course. I have an emissary, an Eclipse I can send for just feeling someone out. But if you agree to what I propose we will be putting our lives in each others’ hands.”

Narula’s gaze was steely. “Really. You do realize, it’s not just my life you’re asking me to risk. I work here to train mortals, God-blooded and Dragon-blooded in the martial arts–and we have no need of riches, equipment, territory, anything. What plans do you have that would merit risking not just myself, but my students’ teacher, and the homes and families they go on to defend after studying here?”

Yurgen stared Narula down for a long moment, then said slowly, “The Mask of Winters is regenerating.”

Narula flinched like she’d been flicked in the nose. Then she scowled.

“That one’s for free, Narula. A fair warning from one child of the Dawn to another.”

Narula’s face became a stony mask again. After a moment Yurgen continued.

“My colleagues and I are assembling a force of the most powerful Exalted for a mission to move against the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears. As the only living Solar who has been trained by the Sidereals, I want you on this mission.”

Narula scoffed. “You’re expecting a repeat of the Battle of Lookshy and the Mask of Winters’ defeat? You think I have another victory like that just up my sleeve? One of my very best friends died in that fight, and it was just luck and timing that I didn’t join him. The Mask of Winters was more powerful than the entirety of the forces arrayed against him, the sorcerer who fixed that can never cast that spell again, and now you’re telling me that after all that, he isn’t even permanently dead. So it sounds to me like you’re concocting a fool’s errand”

“You disappoint me, Narula,” Yurgen said evenly. “You defeated the Mask of Winters by playing on his weakness: his vanity. You of all people should know Deathlords cannot be defeated by military might but only by their own strength. Isn’t that the first lesson any martial artist learns? We intend to do the same against the Lover, and I don’t mean we aim to destroy her.”

“What then?” Narula groused.

“Soon, my associate Nalla Bloodaxe is going to “defect” to the Lover. We will monitor his progress and conceal his true thoughts from her. And when the time is right, we intend to take something from her. We also hope to steal other information, like how it can be that the Mask of Winters will return. So there is quite a payoff for you.”

Narula pondered this for a while. Yurgen said nothing, knowing he had made his most persuasive case possible.

Eventually Narula tapped the table lightly. “I’ll go. But I will not go alone. I’m bringing my friend, Howling Stripes with me.”

Yurgen raised his palms and smiled. “The more the merrier.”

“When is this?” Narula asked.

“Well since we have you on board now we can move ahead with plan A. I will return in three week’s time, give or take, and we’ll get started.”

“Agreed,” Narula said. She stood. “That gives me three weeks to get Shale Digger up to snuff to teach classes all by herself.” She strode off without even a goodbye, but as Yurgen watched her go, he noticed the cat was back, standing on the table next to him, watching him intently.

It was a short trip back down the hill and a short butterfly message to Samea, and soon she appeared before him in a blue flash of flame. As she started conjuring another blue pillar of fire, Yurgen couldn’t help but spare a glance back up the hill.

“I assume she’s on board?”

“Indeed,” Yurgen said, thoughtfully as time and space suddenly stretched. A moment later, they were back in the frozen wastes of the North.

“You didn’t tell her about the Golden Army, I assume?”

“Of course not,” Yurgen said gruffly. “She doesn’t need to know.”

“You’re not worried she’ll leak info to the Sidereals, are you?”

“Not directly, but they’re watching her, I’m sure of it. I can smell their spiderweb looped all around that hill.”

Samea nodded. “You’re taking a risk including her then, aren’t you?”

“This entire enterprise is a risk. The payoff, as you well know, is worth risking everything.”

New Campaign: Trials By Moonlight

I am pleased to announce a new campaign, Trials By Moonlight.  A few relevant details released below:

  • Shared canon with the Burning Campaign, Tides of Fortune, etc.
  • Starting Location: Southwest Creation
  • Starting Time: Immediately following Tides of Fortune (predating Hearts of Silver and Wanted: Weapons of Fate)

So far the roster appears to be thus:

  • Taylor: Creating Katanashi, No Moon Lunar (semichimera)
  • Jennifer: Creating Laughing Surf, a Dolphin-totem Changing Moon caste Lunar
  • Debbie: Recreating Jenya, a Tiger-totem Lunar

If you are interested in joining this campaign please let me know!  Thank you!

New Campaign: The Bull’s Shadow Grows

I am pleased to announce a new writing endeavor, The Bull’s Shadow Grows.  It is primarily a vehicle to bridge the gap in Storytelling between ITSB, and upcoming stories with Kami and the Bull of the North.  It will draw on the ending of HOS and go from there.

If you are interested in contributing to this writing endeavor please let me know and we can chat about it!  Thank you.

Announcement: Online Exalted!

Hello to all my fellow Exalted fans!

Have you ever said to yourself, “Man I love Exalted so much I wish I could play it more, and read and write more about it, but I can’t commit any more regular time periods of my weekend”?  If you have NEVER said that to yourself, you may not want to bother with the rest of this message.

As it so happens, I have said that exact phrase to myself many times.  After some careful research, brainstorming and technical finagling, I am pleased to officially announce Online Exalted!

How does this work?  I shall explain!

Anyone interested will create an account at the main website: http://exalted.prionspace.net/online/ and let me know what campaign and role you are interested in playing in.

  1. Storytellers are essentially the collective DM of the campaign.  They decide the story, the general direction of actions, and major events in the campaign.  They cannot have a character, though they may introduce NPCs.  They are ideal for experiencing the joy of creation.
  2. Editors are assistants to the Storytellers in terms of writing.  They do not know the direction of the plot but they are familiar with the scenarios the characters are in.  They may have characters, though it is somewhat frowned upon for these characters to be strategic thinkers since Editors have some clues as to what is going on.  They enjoy both creation and discovery in parts.
  3. Players are unable to see the posts with the Storyteller notes, and are thus completely unaware of what is happening outside of the descriptions of the Storytellers and Editors.  They primarily dictate their character’s actions, though they are also encouraged to add details of their own and can participate fully in any writeup.  They are ideal for experiencing the joy of discovery.

The party consists of a number of Characters.  Each Character has their own Page on the website and an actual character sheet in the possession of that Character’s player.  The Page will include a number of Default Actions for different situations (in case someone can’t regularly be at the computer).  This raises an important point: unlike in IRL Exalted, when a player has Sole Authorship over their character, in Online Exalted a player instead has Primary Authorship over their character.  They may have the final say on what their character says and does but it is expected that other people will write words for your character as well.  This makes it very important to develop a distinctive “voice” for your character from the outset, so other people can play them for you.

Additionally, the Storyteller has Primary Authorship over scenery, skill check types, and difficulties, but anyone else may freely insert what they feel is appropriate to the story.  The Storyteller retains final say and may edit as they wish, but should not feel disempowered by other people deciding what difficulty a standard locked door may be for a Dex+Larceny check, say.  (Of course, if the story actually surprises you with a hidden artifact lock, the Storyteller must jump in and say “ACTUALLY, you’re very surprised that you DIDN’T actually unlock that door like you were expecting!”)

The procession of play goes like this:

  • An Unpublished post is created, and the Storytellors and Editors (collectively referred to hereafter as the Writers) set the scene.
  • Players put their intentions for their characters in square brackets, and as they or the Writers set difficulties, someone rolls dice and someone sets difficulties for the actions.  Stunts are, as always, encouraged and accounted for.  Players may also signal their intention to “stunt” the final writeup further, earning extra stunt dice.
  • Once the Unpublished post is complete (as determined by agreement of the Writers) it is retained for posterity while someone creates a Published post that is in novelization form.  It is expected to be a collaborative effort.
  • Characters belonging to any Editor or Player who contributed at any point receive 1xp.

Note: the Unpublished and Published categories are WordPress categories that dictate where on the website the posts show up!  It’s magic!

Confused?  Hit me up!  I would be more than happy to energetically describe the whole process in more detail.

Now that you’ve read through this whole thing, please let me know what your interest level is!!!  Thank you!

Dramatis Personæ

  • Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North.  A Dawn caste Solar who has created an empire and attracted many Exalted to his cause.  Is slowly but surely becoming convinced of his own divine right to rule.
  • Samea.  A Zenith caste Solar and mighty Sorceress who once took Yurgen under her wing but now answers to his leadership.
  • Kami the Healer.  A Twilight caste Solar who has reached the pinnacle of scientific prowess for one so young.  Has already developed a cure for a totally incurable disease and has built artifacts of his own design.  Always accompanied by his young nephew Jacob.
  • Narula the Tigress.  A Dawn caste Solar and the only living Solar who has learned from a Sidereal master.  Runs a very unremarkable dojo in the Hundred Kingdoms.
  • Richard.  A Night caste Solar with a cocky streak a mile wide who now serves as emissary and thief for the Bull of the North.
  • Verrance, Descending Violet Whisper.  A Chosen of Endings with a lot of experience in the North and a fair amount with the Bull of the North as well.  Mistrustful, secretive, and generally a typical Sidereal.
  • Arqubis.  A Twilight caste Solar and accomplished Necromancer who has taken residence in the Shadowland of Thorns.
  • Nalla Bloodaxe.  A Night caste Solar who serves the Bull of the North without question, going so far as to allow himself to be seduced by the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears.
  • Howling Stripes.  A Wolf totem Full Moon Lunar a full three hundred years old, who first met Narula and Arqubis and pummeled them into submission while hoping for a good fight.  Now runs as Narula’s ally.
  • Zeke.  A Twilight caste Solar with great mechanical skill who has been loaned from his home Empire of Rathess to the Bull of the North as a gesture of goodwill and a contribution towards a secret plan.
  • Yvonne.  A Raksha of the Southeast who has come with Zeke to offer her diplomatic services to aid the Bull’s schemes.

Initial goals for BSG

The Bull’s Shadow Grows is an attempt to incorporate In The Shadow of the Bull more effectively into the other campaigns, and to follow Kami’s adventures post-Hearts of Silver.

Step 1 will be to post the story I wrote to set up ITSB.  That might give a few things away all by itself!

Kamahl’s Mission

The fires had died down, most of the party-goers had left to their more private entertainments, and only two young Lunars remained, basking in the afterglow of the celebration of their formal completion of their initiation into the Silver Pact.  The larger, a burly, yet still graceful young woman named Jenya, had chosen the moniker Chainbreaker, as an inspiration to all those around her who still had chains but could yet free themselves.  The other was a slender slip of a girl wearing bright pink hair and little else, who had renamed herself Laughing Surf to signify a new life that left the old one behind.  As the fire died down and the night grew dim and cold, the two sat closer together to continue their shared discussion of their new lives that lay before them.

“Good evening ladies, may I join you?” A soft, humble voice came through the darkness.  The two looked back and saw the familiar figure of Kamahl, Fist of the Wyld, the legendary Lunar warrior who would give all the chances they deserved to prove themselves.

“Of course,” Laughing Surf clucked cheerily, her trilling chuckle belying her dolphin-like nature.  Jenya nodded as well and made space, her distinctive pattern of facial markings standing out in the dark.  Kamahl bowed slightly then sat between them.

“I have been impressed with both of you,” He said plainly, nodding to each.  “You have done well at both the challenges placed before you as well as the celebration that followed.”

“A party’s always a welcome challenge to meet,” Laughing Surf said, tossing her pink hair ostentatiously.  Jenya smiled but concern danced in her orange eyes.

“Jenya, you are young to know me so well,” Kamahl said, smiling.  “You have sensed I am not here simply to congratulate you.  In fact, I believe I am here to rain on your parade a bit.”

Both looked at him inquisitively, but Kamahl seemed to be in no rush to end the suspense.

“Imagine, both of you for a moment, that you had passed the trials but no one knew of it.  No celebration, no speeches, just some tattooes and an empty land before you to explore.”

Both seemed thoughtful.  After a moment Laughing Surf scoffed slightly.  “Less fun, certainly, but if it were the price of the Second Breath I’d pay it gladly.”

“Yet somehow not having the sharing would diminish this gift,” Jenya concluded.  “What are you getting at, Master?”

“Well, your trials were well-constructed, but let’s just say I feel like they were lacking slightly.  I would like it if you could investigate something for me,” Kamahl said, getting to his point at his own damn pace.  “There’s an island off the coast of An-Teng, supposedly uninhabited, supposedly no natural harbors of any kind, yet somehow ships keep disappearing when they go near it.”

It was Jenya’s turn to scoff.  “What concern are the traders of the oceans to us?  Are we not bigger than that?”  But it was Laughing Surf’s turn to brood quietly.

“That depends,” Kamahl said sagely.  “The concerns of others are always the concerns of ours, if they are big enough.  That is the ultimate burden of being one of the Wardens of Creation.  This world cannot care for itself, but luckily, we are here.  Besides, some of those ships that go missing are slave ships.  Could we not bring more to our causes with this mission?”  His eyes twinkled as he sized up both women.  Each seemed to take this to heart.

“Now, there is someone I want you to include when you venture out there.  He’s currently in the capital of An-Teng, making his way through the city, getting to know what humanity is.  He’s lost it, you see, and he’s trying to reclaim it.  I think he may be helpful for you, and I know you will be helpful for him.”

“How shall we know him?”  Jenya asked.  Kamahl described a black-cloaked, white-masked fellow who was retiring in his nature and eager to avoid trouble.

“Catching him will be a challenge, as will persuading him to help you.  Under no circumstances must you reveal I sent you, or that I’m involved at all,” Kamahl said sternly.  Both young Lunars blinked in surprise but nodded slowly.

“It’s a good journey to An-Teng, though the trouble doesn’t really start until you get there.  Watch out for servants of the Realm.”  With that, Kamahl stood up, stretched, and began to stroll back into the woods.

Jenya and Laughing Surf looked at each other.  No words were spoken for a moment.

“So, shall we leave in the morning?”  Jenya asked delicately.  Laughing Surf nodded carefully.  “Yes, morning.”  Neither made a move to leave.  After a moment that stretched on and on, they each grinned, then suddenly Jenya was a Tiger and Laughing Surf was a Seagull and both took off into the jungle at dead sprints.

Mission Setup

Jenya and Laughing Surf have been sent on a mission to find out what’s happening off the coast of An-Teng.  They have a sub-mission to collect a mysterious cloaked fellow to include on this mission.  Their to-do list probably looks something like this:

  • Get to An-Teng
  • Hunt around as humans or birds to find this guy
  • Recruit him, delicately (he may try to escape)
  • All three set out for the islands to find out what’s up

Jenya and Laughing Surf get to An-Teng probably without incident.  What’s the first plan?

To do soon:

  • Set up User accounts and powers
  • Set up tags for Published versus Unpublished posts and for different campaigns
  • Set up Pages that will display Posts with certain tags
  • Customize the site to look like a Campaign site instead of a proof-of-concept for a theme
  • Make a Google survey
  • Make an official announcement email

Announcement: To Do List

  • Set up User accounts and powers (COMPLETED)
  • Set up tags for Published versus Unpublished posts and for different campaigns (COMPLETED)
  • Set up Pages that will display Posts with certain tags (COMPLETED)
  • Customize so only Announcement category posts will show up on front page (COMPLETED)
  • Customize the site to look like a Campaign site instead of a proof-of-concept for a theme (TO DO NEXT)
  • Make a Google survey
  • Make an official announcement email