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According to the IRC, I'm a low-grade troll. They're probably not wrong.

Most Recent Posts

there's a Portus Cruor flavour post, now may it never be proofread.
Rising Tide

Exalted Year 313 PF
Second Month of Winter

The harbour town of Port Cruor, still called the Portus by some, has no governor. Yes, yes- the office of Governor still exists, and has existed in some form used or unused since before the fall of the Kingdom. It exists on paper, mostly, and as the gubernatorial regalia, a set of medallions and seals which have been pawned, loaned and retained as collateral nearly as much as they have been used as props for an Official Portrait of the Governor- quite the luxurious ornament to display, if you can afford to have yourself made Governor for a little while. In the same way, the office itself changes hands, originally every ten years, now every two, and in practice every handful of months, passed back and forth between the same handful of fleet-owning families as they find uses for its remaining privileges.

Nor does Cruor have an Admiral. To marshal the countless ships in its harbour under a single ensign would surely foul the mood and disturb the tangled loyalties of its veteran sailors, who do not survive long on the seas without growing the hide and temperament of a sea-lion, and are much better armed. Such a deed, attempted in earnest, would wreak more destruction than any attack on the Portus could, and be quite off-putting for any man with the cunning and ferocity to attempt it, never mind the staggering wealth.

But it does have a Commodore.

"-and may we be redeemed by our works in His sight, for against His great glory we-"

The once-seaman watched morning fog recede into the streets of the Portus. There were times and places when he would close his eyes to say his prayers, times at sea or in closed rooms. Not here.

"-until He returns to cleanse us of our iniquity and set us in-"

Still waters did not rock the hundred galleys that lay before him, three of the largest newly launched, a fourth soon to come. In some small way, his master said, he would be part of that, much like he would always be a small part of the Exalted Kingdom in Outremer, so long as he had faith.

So the priest said. Crouching on the docks before dawn, bathed in the smell of fish just as the cobbles soon would be bathed in their blood, it was easier to have faith in his earthly master, though he knew not the plans of either. He simply served.

"-that the Light may shine ever brightly, like sunbeams upon-"

As the sun rose each day on empty piers where fishermen had already rowed away to haul full nets of fish from the sea, so he would wake up each day before dawn to haul goodness out of the dark.

"-unto God, the Most Glorious, the Exalted. Amen."

Captain Rodgar of Cruor watched with no passion, his hands loosely resting at his back. He was a young man, strong, his position owed largely to his birth, sharply aware that he was only one heir among five and would lose even that privilege in an instant if he did not fight tooth and nail to expand it.

"Ask him again, Matio."

The burly ex-seaman heaved his black-eyed victim up from the cobbles and shook him. "WHERE IS THE FUCKING KEY?"

The pigment trader raised his arm and waved it in the rough direction of his mute eunuch aide, croaking something. The slave immediately turned and went into the storehouse. "Grab the box while you're there," called Rodgar after him, knowing he would be obeyed. "The real one this time."

He tapped his foot and looked around in the meanwhile. Cochineal, myrrh, cinnamon, exotic fruits. At its best, the pickings at the Portus bazaar were almost as good as its colourfully sprawling rival in the Grand Feitoria of Goldport.

But only almost. And only at its best.

The eunuch returned with a small lockbox and an iron key, which Rodgar inspected for false walls or secret compartments before he opened. The trader stared up at him with bitter violence in his eyes as he retrieved a ring of fine jade. "Don't blame anyone but yourself," said Rodgar, pulling the priceless ornament over his finger. "That could have been much easier."

Sensing that they were finished, the seaman dropped his victim directly down onto the road and wiped his knuckles on his tunic. He was uniformed, like the rest of them, in nothing more than dark leather armour and a tattoo. The sea-nettle it depicted was, by design, a much rarer and less fashionable symbol than the scorpion, but the message was the same: touch me and die.

The Captain wore no such leathers, of course. His tattoo was backed up by nothing more than a hat and a coat. A man of his status, assigned with his mission, could not afford to betray bodily vulnerability. It was a careful balancing act compensated for by the presence of the sea-nettles around him: To the wealthy, a refined face; to the poor, a stinging arm.

There were a great deal of poor men in the Portus.

"Cheat me again and I'll drown you in your own barrel," said the Captain before leaving. "You'll go down smelling of pepper."

The streets occupied by spice-traders and perfumers were a thin island of beauty adrift in a dark lake of violence, slavery, prostitution, and fish. Between them lay a half-sunken shore of rare, exotic beauties, precious commodities of the living kind. The iridescent birds sitting songlessly in their cages were only the beginning of what the Portus had to offer, much as the jaw-headed camel spiders tearing each other apart in their jar were only a shadow of the fighting beasts still pacing the pits of the ancient amphitheatre, or the assassins in their distant dens.

"The error has been corrected," the Captain announced to a handful of foreign guards as they approached the tent of the flesh dealer. "Let's do business."

"He gone," said the only mercenary with an appreciable grasp of the Outremer tongue. "He sell the woman."

Rodgar nodded and set off a little further away from the bright colours of the pigment trader. It amazed him a little, having undertaken voyages of many months in his time, to see just how many slaves here would surely have taken years to transport, never mind raise; eunuchs trained to do the oddest tricks and the most specific skills, who could throw their voice or sleep on nails, swallow poison or produce calligraphy. Even these males formed only a portion of the flesh dealer's domain. The rest were sold for other purposes.

A mercenary guard tapped the slaver on his shoulder and he looked up from the gold he was counting. His expression, cautiously content, soured instantly. "So soon," he said, nearly spitting. "Already the faker man comes to show me another fake."

"Not this time," said the Captain, displaying his hand.

The slaver's scowl lifted slowly into shock. "Aye- aye, ah, my ring! This is the ring great uncle gave to me! Aye-" He reached out his fat hands to grab Rodgar's, and the captain pulled away his fist. Suddenly the sea-nettles around him had grown terribly close, and the mercenary's straightsword looked terribly thin in the face of their hooks and mauls. Two young women stared out of the next room in fright, their faces as sweet and delicate as a peony in midwinter.

"There are conditions," said Rodgar, "from my friend down the street. Count those coins carefully. They'll be your last for some time."


The room was incredibly opulent. Ivory compass, ivory statuettes, even an ivory rosary, inlaid with gold. The fixtures were amber. The furnishings were ebony and silk. The treasure-mansions of Cruor's elite displayed wealth on a scale that could not otherwise be found east of Marleon, and the gilded saints upon the rosary beads would never have approved of the deeds it took to secure it. The man who welcomed them wore a peacock feather in his bejewelled hat.

Rodgar adjusted his own cap, this one also silk, and entered with a stance of brazen confidence. A servant followed him in with huge package in a leather tube.

"You've done me quite the favour, you have, Captain. Oh, you know I hate competition, I hate it almost as much as I hate getting my hands dirty. But nothing's free, is it?" He lounged over his seat, half laughing, exerting no effort at all. "What does the Commodore want, of all men?"

"Labour," he announced with no hesitation. "The Commodore requires both skilled and grunt slaves, and in time another sum of healthy oarsmen. It concerns his project with the galleys."

The merchant kingpin grinned and still did not laugh. "More? Again? Between me and that Bendsford man, he must have an army's worth of workmen. Come on, out with it."

"If I may," said Rodgar, moving an inkwell. His courier revealed their treasure.

The scroll was huge. It filled the desk, covered it, would have trailed off the edge of any less enormous table. The designs upon it were marked down in the kind of excruciating detail that cost more than a year's wage for the seaman on its deck. The man's perennial smile dropped down to the tiniest of bemused smirks as he leaned in to stare at the parchment.

"Galleys? That, Rodgar, is a warship." Rodgar raised his eyebrows a little in a way that made it clear he would not be delivering further comment. "For what purpose under Heaven would the Commodore call on his fortune to commission such a thing? Has the man lost his mind? Who does he think he is, a crusader?"

Rodgar looked over his shoulder, and beckoned the courier and guards away with a knuckle. They did not leave the room, but stood a little further back. Rodgar leaned in. "The Commodore, for the purpose of his own information," he said, "maintains correspondence with a variety of professionals whose skills are not welcome in the Church. Since the appearance of certain- portents, he has concluded that the winds are fit for a more... military fleet."

Rodgar withdrew. The old merchant likewise returned to his chair. He wet his lips, rolling the rumour around in his mouth. The Commodore's man had given him a secret. Maybe not a true secret, but that didn't matter at all, no, that didn't matter one bit.

"See me tomorrow, at this hour," he said, inspecting the designs closely. "We can begin to negotiate this contract."

Captain Rodgar was shown into the study. The scroll recording the agreement felt heavy in his hand.

Before him sat a greying man, not at his primary desk but in a far more comfortable chair beside it, watching the fire crinkle. Some heavy book of records lay open before him. He'd spared the Captain barely a glance as he'd entered the room.

"Sir," he said, bowing. "A first copy of the contract has been drafted. I hope it is to your satisfaction."

Commodore Lano Loranze, who had held his title for twenty-three years and been named Governor for fourteen of them, unlaced one of his nettle-covered hands from the steeple in front of his mouth and reached out to accept the document. He paged over it briskly. Rodgar began to sweat.

"Thank you, Rodgar," he said. His voice was low, like timbers at sea. "That will be all."

Lady Kinna of Brookwidth

Exalted Year 315 PF
First Month of Spring

The statesman's shoes were soft, and they padded almost silently as he paced the chapel, speaking in a manner Sir Cahan Guthcairn had come to know he only adopted when he was personally invested in a thing: active, impassioned, measured in voice yet loud with gesticulation, and all the while making barely any eye contact, a dissertation for himself.

"There is, of course, the matter of a husband..."

"The Lady Brookwidth shows no such interests." Cahan's stolid face firmed into a rare sternness. "She is in mourning, Adomo. That is no state in which a girl like her should be betrothed."

"No? And what if a fine young noble from the wealthy estates charms her to bits- under our watchful eyes?" Adomo Manciora of Goldport had invited the knight into the chapel to join him in prayers for the soul of their deceased lord. The prayers had taken all of three minutes. There was no need to explain anything- they knew Kinna avoided this room, if only by day.

After dark, who knew?

"She's too young to remember the war, Cahan. You may not hear much of them, but there is quite the sum of forward-minded nobility in Marleon who would be quite pleased to take part in the mending of ties. She must marry eventually. There's a new family somewhere, waiting for her- she's the most precious bride any groom could ask for, or any father."

Cahan did not look up from the pew where he was resting his hand. "Kinna always spoke bitterly of politics," he said. "How can you bear to even talk about her like this? She needs time to heal, alone, without being pushed around a court in the direction of every suitable bachelor and his father." He looked up. Cloudy grey sunlight was leaking through the chapel windows. "Besides, she doesn't want to go to Marleon. She wants to see Paterdomus. Mountains. Towns other than Organon. The Houselands, where her ancestors rest."

"Some fine young Houselander, then. Don't just tell me what I already know, man- think!" Cahan placidly turned his head. "I've already arranged to keep the Brookwidth estate quiet for a few years- not profitable, but quiet. By the time she comes of age it will be her duty to put it back in order. She'll never have another chance to travel like this. Half the western peerage has taken to traveling the realms since the Templars came down on Terramis and ruined everything. She'll be in excellent company- she'll start smiling again. She wants to go!" Adomo watched his words roll off Sir Guthcairn's face like water on marble and offered a special little prayer upwards. "What are you keeping her here for, Cahan? Are you hoping that she'll marry one of your own sons? Still?"

Cahan knew that Adomo could see that he'd been struck. He took his time. "...Much as I would like to offer my protection to her in that way," he began, "Kinna shows no such interests. Leave it be, Adomo. You cannot simply distract her pain away. She must face it. One day she'll come back to the manor from your gay adventure, and the force of what she has lost will will come back and hit her like a mace."

Adomo sighed. He collapsed into the pews.

No more gestures.

"I don't like it either, friend." Sir Guthcairn put his warm hand on the statesman's shoulder. "Everyone is wounded. Losing Gilahan..."

"I know." Adomo picked himself up and wrung his hands. The light through the windows remained dim. "I just wish I could see her smile again."

Sir Guthcairn knocked exactly once before he threw the door open.


Adomo threw the scullery-maid out of his lap with such vigour that she nearly crashed into the wall. Sir Guthcairn didn't notice. His eyes were fiery, fixed on Adomo's.

"My God, man! At this hour-"

"We're going."


"We are to travel north at once." The words spoken, Guthcairn finally looked about the study. The candlelit papers had all been neatly stacked away for tomorrow. He locked eyes with the maid only briefly.

"North?" Adomo grabbed his hat and threw it on his head. "An invasion? Templars? If the men from Goldport are back for me, it's better-"

"No." The fire in Cahan's voice had already been spent. "It's not for our sake. We're taking Kinna on her journey. Make arrangements as soon as possible."

Adomo slowed, pulled his hat off, folded his arms. The knight watched his brain work behind his eyes. "Something's changed."

"We met a travelling party while we were falconing. Baron Tislayne, the young Lord Godefroy and his family. They're travelling from the West, like you said- visiting their cousins in Arcos and Marleon." Adomo nodded. "They're in Organon now, but they're to head north within the week," Guthcairn continued. "The Lady Brookwidth has befriended his wife, Odilie. They were talking until late in the evening. They're probably still talking now. I... couldn't bear to force her to come home."

Adomo Manciora frowned in wonder. "That's all? All that talk of enduring one's grief- nothing? You're alarming me, Cahan..."

"It's fate." Adomo had long suspected there was Seer blood in the Cale banner-knight, and recalled his suspicion now. "I don't know what the future holds, but we must ride on the wind Heaven sends us." He shook his head. The lateness of the hour was catching up to him visibly. "And I will not be the one to take this joy from her."


Having already sent his squires up the road to Brookwidth manor to return the falcons to their roost, Guthcairn was now attempting to palm off the Baron Tislayne's gratingly merry attention onto some nearby women, a plan which had wholly succeeded but for the fact that the nobleman kept pulling him back into conversation as though his stoic countenance and heavy Calesbail accent was the funniest thing under the sun. A table had been generously set with Organon's finest wines and cheeses, and the more refined of its merchant and artisan families invited to join the Baron's company outdoors to watch the sunset, all at his expense.

The Baron's wife had slid away with almost no remark at all.

Kinna stared up at her. Odilie of Tislayne stared back down. Kinna failed to keep herself from frowning. Odilie's face revealed nothing.

"Shall we take a little walk? My husband tends to be quite the loud voice, you see."

"Yes," said Kinna, mirroring the lady-talk and lady-smile with high-born ease. "Let's."

Soon they were in the shade of a walnut (another tree among many that Kinna was dimly aware she now owned), and Odilie once more led the conversation, her smile fading from underneath her veiled hat. "You're different."


"I've never seen such signs in someone quite so young."

Kinna scowled. "What signs?"

"The same signs you saw in me. Something different."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yes, that's the spirit." Odilie leant against the walnut with her elbow. "It sounds like you've never met anyone who's seen the dark before."

Kinna flinched, looked over her shoulder. Odilie laughed a soft, sad little laugh in the quiet. "Be brave. It's more common than you think, at least among the peerage. At least in Arcos."

"Who are you?"

"No one," said Odilie. "Not in the way you think. I'm a baron's wife, which is a pleasant enough thing to be. I was never anything- but I was friends with a woman who was." Her eyes bored into Kinna. "I started noticing things. That's all it took."

Kinna's hands rested primly on her stomach. "You were with Lucion, weren't you? You're running from the Templars."

Odilie smiled, rubbed her forehead, couldn't muster a laugh. "I never met Lucion. My friend was... swept up in his affairs, and I never saw her again. The Templars couldn't find anything on me. I'm no one, I did nothing." Kinna noticed that she was sweating, despite the brisk spring wind.

"But you're still running. Why did you run?"

"They were suspicious. I never knew much, but I knew some things. They sensed it. They could smell it. All it takes is to notice..." It was Odilie's turn to look over her shoulder. "By the time lightning struck that damned-" (Kinna inhaled at her language.) "-house, I knew it was time to leave. My husband is easy to distract, but not so easy to manoeuvre. It took too long for him start moving. Now when I come back, there will be people watching me." She sighed, shifted her weight on the tree, got bark on the shoulder of her dress. "If only that stupid wench Kalitra hadn't gone and died..."

Kinna said nothing. She was not brave.

"But now, you," said Odilie, and Kinna bit her tongue inside her mouth. "You're not like me- no one ever showed you the dark, did they? Somehow you found it all by yourself. You're very different."

"I don't know what it is." Kinna was whispering now. "I was born with it. They say my mother was like me, a little, but it wasn't the same. Sometimes people notice, mostly they don't. They never know what they notice. I don't either. I don't know. Five years ago, it looked like someone was about to work it out, but... Since then, I've been making myself normal." Her hands squeezed each other.

"Clever girl. Even the ones who go deep always stay normal. As normal as you can imagine. That, or they hide in the mountains, or run to the bogs. There's no other way." She looked up. "I'm hungry. Let's go back to the picnic and be normal together for a while. Stay by my side," she instructed. "Make yourself close with me. If I don't show you how to notice things, you'll run into them yourself, and..."

Odilie looked out, out over the town of Organon and the house of Brookwidth Manor, out to where the sun was setting, far in the west.

"Heaven knows what strife that has caused me."

whoopsy, this was meant to go in the character section
Aight here's a narrative version.

Alright, for real this time. Here's a character concept I'm messing around with.

Nice to be here again!

Still settling on art for this char, this one by Alex Chow makes her look a little too evil.

Koan 5

A stargazer of Aïr said to Calign, "When the stars and planets traverse their nightly dance, they move according to the music of Heaven."

Calign sounded a loud scream.

Koan 5: The Music of Heaven

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