Session 27: Calibration’s End
After their separate adventures in Yu-Shan, the circle gathered together again to plan their raid on the Bureau of Nature, an action that would have to be both subtle and low-impact if they were going to avoid further censure from the heavenly authorities. Naturally, they decided that the best thing to do was to walk through the front doors and harass bureaucrats until they got what they wanted.
A quick consultation with their pet pattern spider revealed that the offices of the Bureau of Nature were hundreds of miles away, too far for a trip on a simple scooter-cloud. The literal-minded spirit also informed them that the fastest way to get there was by hitching a ride on the Golden Barque, the floating sky-fortress of the Ministry of Journeys.
The circle didn’t realize that the mighty airship was a haven for Sidereal Exalted when they jumped aboard the ferry that would then dock with the Barque. However, a fortunate turn of events led them to encountering a Sidereal with golden eyes and dark skin who was quite friendly to them, even aiding them on their way. Only after the fact did they realize that they had been aided by Ayesha Ura, the leader of the Ministry of Journeys and the de facto head of the Gold Faction of Sidereals.
The quick travel time allowed them to reach the Bureau within an hour or so, leaving them plenty of time to approach the local gods about their requests. A minor cat god, Ohai of the North, was able to give them a guided tour of the once-impressive but now-less-so grounds of the bureau. Ohai told them that the bureau was divided into two separate (but theoretically equal) ministries: the Hierarchy of Function, which divides up creatures by their abstract biological qualities of similarity; and the Hierarchy of Type, which divides up creatures by their similarity of appearance.
The highest-ranking bureaucrat who would meet with the circle was Nan-Chal, Eminence of Mammals. Taking the form of a vaguely humanoid wombat, Nan-Chal was quite pleasant with the circle, even complimenting Ven on her efforts to increase the number of creatures in Creation through her experiments. He also implied that platypi used to be Wyld creatures who eventually bred true in Creation, and even introduced the circle to the God of Platypi, a minor but quickly ascending deity in the Department of Mammals that had recently accepted a promotion to division chief over the Division of Monotremes.
After listening to their request for an official Seal of Divinity to help set right the problems on Creation, Nan-Chal was saddened to inform them that he had no such seal to offer them—officially. If they could aid him in a small project, he would be happy to “lose” a seal for them to “find.” He had heard rumors that there was a cache of Elsewhere-preserved creatures kept in stasis in an ancient, lost First Age city, but that none of his spirits could get anywhere close to it because of various dangers. If they were willing to find the lost laboratory and recover the specimens, he would happily promote Ven to adjunct membership in the Bureau on the sly and pass a seal off to her. He was also able to inform them that at least one greater seal had gone missing in Creation as well, and that if they could find it, he could instruct them on its use.
With both of these options in mind, they thanked Nan-Chal profusely. Red Lion asked if they minded taking a side trip to the Bureau of Seasons since they still had a little time, and the circle agreed. The trip there was quick as well, and they asked to be shown to the presence of the Court of Calendars. After arguing with an obstinate secretary, one of the calendar-deities agreed to see the circle anyway.
The circle was escorted into the grand and opulent offices of Jetazuro, Daimyo of the Season of Wood and Daimyo of Clouds. Red Lion commented to the goddess that her two titles didn’t seem to go together, and she pleasantly replied that it was just a matter of bureaucratic crossover. She was the official head of the Department of the Season of Wood, and was acting minister of clouds. Both departments had undergone significant changes over the last few centuries, and had gained her position after replacing the original Daimyo of Wood when he was arrested for departmental corruption.
Red Lion was conflicted. On the one hand, this wasn’t one of the gods who had actually snubbed Five Days Darkness. On the other, he had his oath to his sifu to fulfill. The goddess passed a time with them, enjoying some tea and discussing politics. When the topic turned to the matter of the Exalted, she revealed two important facts that helped Red Lion make up his mind. First, she was a Bronze Faction supporter and genuinely believed that the Solar Exalted represented a threat to all of Creation. Second, she had poisoned their tea.
Snapdragon collapsed from the poison, apparently no longer breathing, and Ven found herself paralyzed completely from the noxious brew. Most of the circle was weakened to some extent or other, but Red Lion pushed through the pain and stood his ground as Jetazuro summoned her panoply and assailed the remaining Solars. Blazer focused his efforts on saving Snapdragon’s life, leaving Red Lion, Prism, and Gideon to fight the martial deity. Even at three on one, the fight was less than in their favor. Jetazuro was a powerful goddess, possessed of potent artifacts and many divine powers.
None of it saved her. The Solars were agreed in only defeating her, not destroying her, so when the tide of battle turned against her it was only a matter of hard knocks and not lethal force. Red Lion got the final blow in, telling her that it was from Five Days Darkness. Then, Red Lion’s potent Heaven Thunder Hammer technique knocked her through a wall and into the distance.
Once the battle was done, they consulted with Sankara Holtz, their Sidereal legal advisor. She told them that since Jetazuro had made the first hostile move it was unlikely she would try to bring charges, but it was probably best that they leave Yu-Shan right away—especially considering the fact that Calibration was nearly over. She also warned them that the reach of the Bronze Faction was long, and now that the Gold Faction had come out to openly support them, it was going to become ugly. Blazer immediately understood that the Sidereals openly working against one another had a significant chance to turn from a bureaucratic nightmare (as it currently stood) into a total clusterfuck.
Sankara advised them to travel to Nexus when they got a chance, since there was a Gold Faction presence in the city. They wondered if Lady Redfeather was a member of the Gold Faction as well, since she had advised them to seek her out there. If so, why had she been working to destroy the peace of Mishaka? And why had she nearly ruined Delsinar? Had she been working with Oberen, or against him? So many questions remained unanswered when it came to the Sidereals and their motives.
Finally, they went back to the Celestial Gates and made their way to the portal home. Red Lion signed a few autographs while they waited for their turn to use a gate. As they made their way into the portal, they chanced to see Oberen standing on the other side of the terminal. He told them that he would see them back in Creation—and the next time, the gloves would be off. Snapdragon sneered that she looked forward to it.
And the portal closed, returning them to Creation.
Once the light faded, the circle realized that the gate through which they emerged was not the one through which they had traveled to Yu-Shan. Blazer ran some calculations based on the position of the sun and his own internal compass, only to discover that they were hundreds of miles south of where they had been only a few days before. The conference at Marita would be beginning today, and they were weeks away by foot. Red Lion commented that it would be no problem at all to summon the Lion’s Roar and Blazer to mock up a new flight module for them… but the Lion’s Roar did not come at Red Lion’s call.
Blazer’s sorcerous sight revealed that the dragon lines of their area were horribly twisted, as though something were distorting the local geomancy. Before they could examine the nature of the distortion any further, they could hear the distant cries of battle. People were in trouble! Without a second thought, the circle raced toward the sounds of danger…
This was ready a fucking week ago, but Obsidian Portal’s been having downtime all week. It finally cleared up enough to let me post, after three failed attempts. Hopefully, another entry will be up soonish. =p