The Sword of Creation

Act II, Part 3: Standing Upon a Parapet

When the Circle arrives in Parapet, Youko is reunited with her comrades Sri Crans and Kumol, and Tian argues with General Iruha for Youko and Piao to be included in the mission to liberate a prison camp. Oset, Tian, and Youko then head out on their mounts and successfully hijack a prisoner transport heading to the camp.

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Act II, Part 2: In the Long Grass

The Circle’s journey to Parapet is interrupted by a dangerous foe.

The next morning, Tian, Youko, and Oset left the capital, disguised as performers traveling with a band of merchants and diplomats from the Varang Confederation.

After traveling for three days, the party arrived at a farming community outside of the city of Parapet. The caravan settled for the night in the emptied grounds of the Solstice Festival, and the group appropriated the stage for the traditional Jiaran sword dance that had been promised to them.

Behind the stage, Talim and Laman coached the Circle in the sword dance routine one last time, even though the two rebels disagreed over some of the traditional dance’s nuances based on what their families had taught them.

Lagis’s flute playing and Dozo on the drums called the rest of the group up to the stage. Talim and Laman started, followed by Tian and Oset. Oset fumbled with his ceremonial straight sword, but Tian’s command of the sword arts and his natural charisma helped the pair put on a dazzling display.

It was a different story for Youko and Efi. Despite the days of practice, the ceremonial sword was still a twig in Youko’s hand, and swinging it with grace and precision was counter to how she instinctively wields her hammer. Efi also proved uncomfortable wielding a sword and was overly cautious about accidentally striking her beloved. The two women flailed their weapons and Youko decided to deviate from the routine, lifting Efi onto her shoulders and becoming a facsimile of the Unconquered Sun.

Talim and Laman returned to the front of the stage to distract the audience from this display, finishing off the routine with a compromise. Talim performed the final flourish the way her parents taught her, and Laman did as their nana, but their conflicting moves were performed to compliment each other.

The audience of Varangese merchants and their caravan workers erupted into cheering. But as the applause died down, a yeddim gave out a death moan and the horrifying screech of a claw strider rang out through the fair grounds.

The people of the caravan ducked into their wagons for safety, with Talim, Laman, Dozo, and Lagis escorting them. Meanwhile, Youko, Tian, and Oset grabbed their weapons and rushed around the wagons to the stabled beasts of burden. A claw strider attacked the neck of a large yeddim, one of the large cow-like beasts that pulls the caravan’s wagons. Oset ducked into the tall grass that surrounded the fair grounds and threw a knife cleanly into the strider’s heart, killing it before it was even aware of his presence. Youko identified another claw strider in the grass and charged at it before it had a chance to attack Oset. With his teammates in the field, Tian took it upon himself to defend the caravan’s treasured and terrified alpacas from any remaining claw striders. A strider leapt down from on top of the wagon to feed on the vulnerable alpacas, but Tian intercepted it.

Back in the grass, Youko viciously clubbed her claw strider and attempted to grapple it into submission, hoping to make a new mount out of it. Out of danger, Oset returned to the fairgrounds as Tian disappeared around a corner, scaring off a strider.

Just when Tian thought he had driven the claw strider away, another attacked from the grass. With Tian flanked by claw striders and caught off guard, the stealthy claw strider’s toe claw cut through Tian’s arm. Oset charged across the grounds, running up the side of one of the wagons to gain a clear shot, and launched another knife while in mid-air. The blade entered the back of the strider’s neck, bringing it down.

Youko knocked her claw strider out and delighted herself with the idea of Efi riding the claw strider into battle alongside Youko’s moose.

Yet another claw strider appeared around Tian, but it and its partner were struck by a blue bolt traveling through the air. A figure leapt into the air and seemed to ride the wind down to the maimed claw strider: it was Tepet Piao, Tian’s uncle and retainer, and a former Air Aspected general of House Tepet’s legions.

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Act II, Part 1: A Night at the Hot Springs

The Circle gets to take a break and get to know each other at Iskah’s bath house. Meanwhile, Dàhl and Lagis interrogate their prisoner, and a supernatural force preys on the elevated emotions of the bath house customers.

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Act I, Part 3: Twilight Over Jiara

When Youko and Dàhl escape the Temple of Rebirth and the Black Dogs retreat from the city, the Circle unites in the tunnels beneath the temple.

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Act I, Part 2: The City on the Plateau

Walking up the steps of the Temple of Rebirth, Quartermaster Striador explained the mythological history of the temple and the city to Youko and Neema:

This temple has been at the center of many faiths since it was first built, but just before the Empress took her throne, it was just a shelter for the desperate. The few survivors of the Contagion clung to their lives deep within the pyramid. They say the huge statue of a selfish god stood in the center of the rotunda, but the god had no love for its worshipers and its statue was consumed by this massive tree.

The Fair Folk consumed this region as they prepared to conquer the Blessed Isle. But the Sword of Creation ripped through the lands, pulling the plateaus up out of the earth and driving back the Fair Folk. The tree’s deep roots held the temple in place. And when the tremors ceased, the image of the Scarlet Empress appeared over the tree as she crowned herself as Creation’s guardian.

That moment is preserved in this temple. The Empress’s divine beauty was carved into the tree, and the temple became a symbol of Jiara’s rebirth at her hands.

As the group descended into the bowels of the temple, a foreign worshiper became violent and attacked Striador’s guards with a massive chain. Striador begged for Youko’s assistance, but she wouldn’t go without Neema. Neema rode Youko’s shoulders down to the platform, upon which Striador caused the stairs connected to their platform to retract. Striador revealed that Youko was anathema, and that she was to be captured by Striador’s guards and the chain man.

On the bottom floor of the temple, Dàhl realized that although Juto was driven by hate for him, Juto’s feelings of betrayal were mixed with his admiration for Dàhl. Juto offered Dàhl an alternative to the State Police’s plans for him, but when Dàhl realized that the god of the tree was present and resentful of the Realm, Dàhl decided to make a pact with Unwavering Roots and intentionally riled up Juto. Dàhl convinced Unwavering Roots that risking her domain to fight back the dragon-blooded would be worth it, as the Solars would protect her. Dàhl accused Juto of still wanting to be below Dàhl, prompting Juto to pull out his whip.

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But we both know where you really want to be is below me.

A young follower of Dàhl’s attempted to run out to protect him. Juto cracked the whip into the air as a statement of intent, but inadvertently hit the kid, driving the scared and passive worshipers to confront the monks. Juto stepped back from Dàhl, horrified by what Dàhl’s words can do to him. In that moment, Unwavering Roots controlled vines of the Great Tree to ensnare Juto and poison him with thorns.

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Up above, Youko leapt from the platform onto the tree. The chain man followed suit, using his chain to swing onto the tree. Neema began to climb down the tree. Youko bashed through the branch they stood on, sending both the branch and the chain man falling. The chain man was able to hold on to his chain, but experienced severe friction burns on his hands. The branch fell toward the pool at the base of the tree, and killed a monk in the process.

Juto broke the ensnaring vines with flame-covered hands, not caring about the vines’ debilitating poison.

Neema made a sloth cry that echoed through the temple, triggering Youko’s mercenaries to make themselves known. Kumoll (nicknamed “Eagle-Eyed Pete” by Neema) leapt from behind a waterfall and redirected one of the temple’s mirrors to make the eyes of the Scarlet Empress glow. He impersonated the Empress’s speech from when she ascended the thrown, frightening some of the monks and driving the followers of Dàhl to flee. Neema reached the ground and pleaded to Juto to protect her from Youko. Juto recognized her as a fellow Dynast of import and had his remaining party escort her out of the temple. Youko broke through the branches beneath her and dropped into the water, where she was followed by the chain man. As Youko attempted to climb out of the water, the chain man was grabbed by Lord and Lady, who were camouflaged at the base of the tree. Striador was able to set the stairs back into place before he fled, allowing his guards to arrive on the first floor as the monks retreated with Neema.

Juto attempted to strike Dàhl with his whip, but Dàhl gained distance in his evasion and punched Juto in the gut. juto-act1-pt2-01.jpg

Outside, Tian and Oset learned that the army was surrounding anathema who were trapped inside the temple. The duo pursued their initial goal of sabotaging the trebuchets while disguised as an inspection crew, only to realize that the trebuchets were already worse for wear. They then reported this problem to the head of the operation, framing the commanders in charge of the trebuchets as potential anathema saboteurs. While the commanders were detained, Tian’s men spread rumors that these commanders had been possessed and could spread their anathema taint through touch. The officers under command of Blazing Ember were quick to defend her honor and shoot down these rumors, leading Oset and Tian to make a grand public display to back up their scheme. They led Blazing Ember’s supporters to where she was being transported, triggering a small riot in which Oset touched Ember and revealed his caste mark, “proving” that Ember was an anathema, the taint had spread to the State Police, and that no one could be trusted. Panic spread through the entire army, driving soldiers to fight their comrades. Oset escaped into the aqueduct.

Neema escaped the temple via the ground floor entrance, witnessing the chaos caused by the rebels. She ran into Striador, who invited her to escape with him via rickshaw.

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Act I, Part 1: Daybreak

Tian and Oset lead an attack on a Jiaran army camp with the Black Dog faction of the Rebellion.
Neemaweem, Dàhl, and Youko arrive in the Jiara’s capital.

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Prologue, Part 5: Oset and the Scars of the Past

Realm Year 767. Oset will have to escape from a brainwashing job turned upside down. He’ll need to use his enemy’s memories and Solar magic to outwit his pursuers.

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Prologue, Part 4: Neemaweem and the Bracelet of Whispered Omens

Realm Year 766. Neemaweem has been rejected by her father and returns penniless from the Blessed Isle. She’s come to Nexus to receive her final possession: the Bracelet of Whispered Omens, but someone else has their eyes on it… and her.

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Prologue, Part 3: Youko's Righteous Hammer

Realm Year 766. Youko the Mountain has tracked her father’s killers to the Northeastern steppes. She leads a raiding party to reclaim her father’s hammer from an Immaculate caravan, but she’ll find a greater power in this desperate battle.

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Prologue, Part 2: Iselsi Tian and the Stone of Stability

Realm Year 766. Iselsi Tian sails the Inland Sea with a Realm legion, hoping to prove the honor of his fallen house and defend the tenants of civilization against the barbarian warbands that threaten the satrapies. But this campaign will be crippled by deceit, and the key to Tian’s survival will go against everything he’s learned on the Blessed Isle.

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