Dragon's Wrath

Sepherene's Anger Management

So, my fellow sisters have seen that I have been on edge the last month or so. They say it may be best for me to write out my thoughts. They believe it to be therapeutic. So here goes nothing..

These problems all started a month or so ago. I was headed towards Speandal, a large city in the Dragons Wrath Plains. Its unique in the way it has a ground level and an upper level suspended by a complex system of criss-crossing pillars. And a number of lifts to travel between
the two. As my sisters and I find board, I decide to investigate the city and I come across a fight which has caused explosions, collapsed buildings and a very swelled ego in a specific Solar, The Ascending Phoenix. He is attacking a monk, which seemed foolish, but he was the
first one of my kind I had found so I decided it might be in my best interest to help him. So during a break in the fight, I sneak towards the monk,and manage to convince him that I have been hunting him and I wish to help. “You may have no reason to trust me but I’m going to do
it anyway, but I feel we’ll have a better chance of success if we work together. But of course you know that, you’re the wise religous leader.” After a small scuffle with the Ascending Phoenix, I swap sides and make my escape with the “Anathema.” He apparently had other friends:
Camreal who is a Lunar, Leon who is a fire aspect Terrestial, Virtuous Reed who is a Twilight. We escape to the lower city, and make a plan for the next few days. After a display of caste marks, we all agree to help each other for a while. And try to plan our next move against the
Immaculates. As we draw plans for battle, Silken Venom, a local God, says that it may be best for us to scout out tunnels under the city. He says there are devices down there clouding his senses. So he aids us how he can and we depart immediately, hoping to find something that can
help us in the fall of Speandal. If only I had known how right we were..

So as we traveled beneath the undercity of Speandal, we found poisonous gases, monsters, ancient technology, and a First Age Solar Manse. We started traveling through and and we didn’t find much at first. But eventually the caverns led into an actual hallway with rooms filled with
all sorts of things. One seemed to be a device that had two spoons attached. They rotated very quickly. But who could eat that fast? And why were there holes in it? I suppose I am not the best with technology. But that is what we have Reed for. He actually is a rock scientist. We
continued farther and discovered a very large chamber. As we started to explore it, they were attacked. Something in this place was invisible. I saw that there was a device on the wall that seemed to be out of sync. I activated my spider-foot style, and ran along the wall until I
reached it. At the time I wasn’t sure what the device did. It seemed to be some golden blades that were swinging from a fixed point. Two of the blades were scraping when they passed each other so I used my father’s boots to knock the one back into its normal alignment. It was
relatively easy despite having to hang down in between the giant swinging blades that surely kill a lesser Exalt. I almost wish the terrestial had tried first. Something about him rubs me the wrong way. He says he is on our side, but he hasn’t said anything about exile. So I must
assume subterfuge.

After the device was realigned, I continued farther along the large chamber, I came across a large tapestry that spanned the wall and at the bottom, on the floor, a large bug with blades on its back. I take a quick look around and see that there is an abundance of these creatures.
These are what my allies are fighting. I realized I have to stop this now. I am familiar with the idea of a hive mind, so I decide to take a chance. I use my razor claws to cut my way down the tapestry, riding it like the waves crashing on a shore, and as I near the floor I
leap from the wall and attempt to extinguish the bug. Sadly, my efforts were thwarted. Its chitinous armor was nigh-impenetrable, and its claws had the strength of the gravity of a thousand suns. I had made peace with my life’s end, when the bug began to speak with me, albeit
in rough, short words. I attempt to make a deal with the bug for our release. Once the Queen is inclined to acquiesce my request, the Phoenix comes along and begins the whole process over again. Although I realized he must be used to leading this group, does he think I am incompetent?
Perhaps, I just have to prove my worth, whether he allows me or not.

These bugs are now speaking of their master. They take orders from someone else. This thought is intriguing. If there was some way to gain control of them. But that is for another time perhaps. After a short time of arguing and exploration, their master comes. It is none other than Virtuous
Reed. Being a native of this town, he had created and hidden these bugs here for a purpose. He speaks of raising these halls, using these bugs to lift the castle from it’s swampy grave. It is a First Age Solar Manse of War and it can do amazing things if it is restored. But he says that in doing this, we will destroy Speandal. Completely. Everyone will die, but it is necessary. As I ready myself for a fight, I realize that there isn’t one. They love the idea. What in the Gods is wrong with these idiots? How will we ever live the life we want when our first major act is filled with such death and destruction? These fools are blinded by glory and power. Although, that is man. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was surprised. I spent what felt like ages trying to talk them out of this, but they heard none of it. I was sure this would end with their blood spilt. But then someone talked sense. Evacuation. The Immaculates were already planning it because of the stunt that the Ascending Phoenix pulled. They want the people of Speandal to believe he is a monster. Uprooting them from their homes is surely one way to do so. Although really, they would just need to hear him speak as I just did. So after a long discussion, which is a recurring theme with these people, I get them to agree to let me go up to Higher Speandal and evacuate the rest of the city.

I spend the next few days in upper Speandal while they prepare for raising the manse and evacuating the lower city. I am glad to be on my own again. They are not the easiest group to work with. So far, everything I have attempted on my own has been a success until they put their filthy masculine fingers on it. If they had let me do what I wish, we wouldn’t even be doing this right now. I could’ve gained control of the “cutters” used them to remove the Immaculates from the city. Still, if things go awry, I can always go back to Father Downpour. I’ve already managed to get my hands on the Ascending Phoenix’s sigil. Something that he would only give to an ally. So on day three, I finally set my plan into action. I find a lowly immaculate, kill him, and use his attire to gain access to the places that they are currently keeping prisoners. While wearing the robes, I simply tell the guards that it something has gone wrong and Father Downpour has requested them immediately. They resist at first, but I remind them that “it will be there head” and they quickly change tune. At that point, I walk into the holding area, request that everyone remain calm, and walk to the evacuation points. With the news that they are free to go, nobody causes problems or asks questions, too afraid to look a gift horse in the mouth. I only had a few hours left at this point. And I finally knew what I wanted. And I knew how I could use it to gain me some influence. All I needed was the Ascending Phoenix..

I searched out Father Downpour. “You!” he screamed. “Why should I not kill you here?!” I simply reminded him that I’m the only way he’ll ever see the Ascending Phoenix again and his tune changed like undertrousers in Thorns. “I can bring him here. Now. I have his sigil as proof I know where he is and he trusts me. The only thing I wish from you is your hammer. It is a powerful weapon, and a sign of faith. It is unbelievably useful to anyone who holds it. His head, for your hammer.” Despite his reluctance, he agrees. And I tell him to meet me at the top of the center stairs in an hour.

“Kalak I need your help. There is something I need and you are the only one that can help me get it.” I realized I wasn’t teling him enough, but if he knew he may not help me. And there is too much power in that hammer to waste. I tie his hands up. and walk him up the stairs, unmolested.
When we get to the top, the foes face each other and the Phoenix realizes what I have done. Luckily, he is either a good actor or extremely disappointed I betrayed him. None the less, he doesn’t break the rope. Downpour’s men put the Phoenix on his knees and put his head on a table.
Things are about to get messy unless I act quickly. “Wait now, we had a deal! I need the hammer, before I lose my leverage.” It took some work, he was unwilling to give me the hammer first, but eventually I got through to him. “What a defeat to kill him with his own weapon.” With the
hammer in my hands, I watched the Grand Daiklave rise into the air. I remember making eye contact with the Phoenix, and although he would never admit it, I could see the fear in his eyes. I regret to this day, the decision I made here. I took the hammer, and hefted it right into
Downpour’s legs, sweeping them out from under him. I leaned over Downpour looked him right in the eye and asked him with the biggest grin I could muster, “Now what have we learned?” We made our escape to the lower city, and that’s when we realized the danger we were in.. The cutters
were already released. And they were cutting through the pillars. Speandal really would fall.

The next few days were kind of blurry. There was the huge fight for the destruction of Speandal, then the rebuilding of Speandal, the raising of the Manse, repairing it, and finally exploring it and finding a way to attune to it. There is so much involved it’s likely to cause me more stress
than its worth to recite these events. But rest assured, it was exhausting.

Next we went.. somewhere. Torvus! That was it. I’m not sure why we went. They don’t explain a lot to me. I vaguely remember retrieving an orichalcum-feathered bird. But I couldn’t tell you how it happened. All I remember is disliking Leon more and my hair was singed. Which may be linked somehow..But here we are, in Torvus and there is a very strong Immaculate presence. They seemed to be hunting down all the Phoenix’s followers. His influence reaches farther than I thought possible. Here he is with a large cult following and I’ve got a ragtag band of women.
I feel like I have been slacking in my quest for the throne. After all, if he could do it.. But anyway, we hear there will be a meeting for all the expected anathema worshipers. They will come and listen to the monks preach, telling them to turn away from their dark path before its too late. It should be an interesting spectacle. I can’t wait to see it.

So I sat quietly in the ampitheater, waiting for the show to begin. Thats when I heard it. Marching..chanting.. an open declaration of rebellion. I rush out of the ampitheater only to see a crowd of people moving toward the ampitheater chanting for the Phoenix. To stop the noise, a fire aspect comes out and threatens to kill them. I forget her name. She was a Magistrate or something.. Oh well, I saw her conjure the fire to her weapon and the fear in people’s eyes. I wish I could remember what she said, but Terrestrials often provoke a buzzing, trumpet-y sound when I attempt to listen to them. “Wah wah wah-wah wahhh wah wahh.” I’m pretty sure that’s why Leon and I don’t get along so well. Perhaps in time..

“The Ascending Phoenix should be the least of your worries!” Not my most intimidating line, but the show of power had to unsettle her. Or so I thought. I was foolish and headstrong. I attacked head like some brute. It took 3 seconds and one slash and I was terribly wounded. I under
estimated her abilities and it nearly killed me. I took off running, hoping I had given the people a long enough distraction to escape. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore. All I thought was run, gather my things and escape to Speandal. Everyone followed behind me, and and sadly, that
included the Magistrate and all her lackeys.

I separated from them on the way back to Speandal. Since we were being followed, I thought it best if I doubled backward and flared my anima to give the people extra time to rest. It went off without a hitch. And I even left downpour’s hammer at the spot of my eruption. It warned them
that we were prepared to destroy them if they continued persuing us.

We arrive back at Speandal, with more people and more scars. I, of course, arrived first. I went to Virtuous Reed to see if he had any medical supplies. He did not. But he did manage to heal me and then some. There was an experiment he wished me to participate in. Something about porcupine quills. It hurt a lot but it was very useful. I’ll get to that part.. The Phoenix decides it is time to claim himself a God to be worshipped by his cult when he returns. I wasn’t sure I was willing to allow him this. After all I had done to help him, how is he the only one that recieves the acclaim? It did not take much convincing. I must say although the Ascending Phoenix isn’t the smartest of leaders, tactically or otherwise, he means well. And that is a much more admirable quality. He quickly accepted the idea that we should rule as a group. We constructed a pantheon. I was named Archon of Blinding Justice of the great city of Beacon. So much symbolism, it hurts. I do like it though. It gives our people something to strive for. We even include Silken Venom.

Everything was going well when we were given a tip that the leader of the Wyld Hunt was on his way. It caused quite the panic among us, and we began preparing for battle immediately. We will be a formidable foe. I’ve secretly been working on exit strategies. Hopefully, I won’t need them. But I haven’t survived this long by staying optimistic. And to top it all off, they want to go to a fortress to the south. Apparently it has followers of the Phoenix from before the fall of Speandal. So we start on the 12 hour hike.

When we near the fortress, we can see people on the walls. They seem to be watching us approach. I went ahead and scout with some of the cutters. There was a valley that looks like it had previously been filled with water but has long since dried up. A moat? Cutters began tunnel under the fort. As I began to move back to the group, the watchers on the wall yelled out to us. “Did Father Downpour send you?!” The Phoenix confirms that we are in fact sent by Father Downpour. Then he includes me in the plan by suggesting I don myself in the Immaculate robes and follow him in. So as we enter the fortress, we see a Guard Captain and an Immaculate Monk. Unsure what to do here, I ask, “so what has been going on recently? Father Downpour didn’t spare so many details..” They talk of their efforts to convert the people of the Archons back to Immaculate believers. I had to think quickly, and I had to make them believe I was one of them. After a veiled suggestion of torture, they were appauled and said they were not allowed to harm them. That was unexpected. So I did the first thing that came to mind. “No! No! That is not what I meant at all! What is wrong with you??” Outrage is the best way to get somebody off your back. “I was thinking something more..outside the normal. Sermon may be a way to convert children, or the godless.
But it will have no effect on someone that has had their mind perverted in such a way.” Have you thought about maybe killing the Phoenix? How hard could that be?" They were confused. They had no idea how to find him, let alone kill him. “You are a fool. You can have a fake Ascending
Phoenix arrive to save them with a group of followers and then have him fall to your captain. they believe he is dead and no longer truly deserving of worship.” They loved the idea. The captain gets to be the Phoenix Slayer, the Immaculate gets the credit for turning the followers of the Archons back. “We even have our own forces here outside. They could disguise themselves as his Phoenix Guard. We march on the fortress, you leave the gates open, fake fight, yada, yada, yada, and then stab! the phoenix goes down and you come out smelling like a white mushroom.”

The battle went off without issue. We turned on them, killed them and we were about to begin celebrating. But then I realized we needed the Immaculate monk dead. I run straight across the fort, jump into his window and begin attacking him. but not before he activates some stone statue
on the wall and it starts blasting magical water. In moments the room is full and the monk is making it very difficult to kill him. In frustration I lash out at the statue, hoping to halt its watery flow. I break off an arm, and then part of its jaw. The monk seems alarmed. Hes trying to stop me, and so I assume I must be close to breaking it. As I bash the other arm, I am caught off guard as the dragon tears from the wall, lift me up and swims straight through the other side of the room. Little did I know, the fortress has been filling with water. As we are swimming through the fortress, I am trying to escape. I use my pure strength to wriggle free, swing his remaining arm around the remainder of his jaw, and I use it rein him. Thats when I hear “Can you let me go? Please?” We reasoned and struck a deal. Long story short, I defeated a contained river god, freed him, and he is now my ally. He rid the place of the deadly water, and is currently now working on restoring his river that I earlier believe to be a moat. One more God to add to the Pantheon.

I would continue with more detail but apparently we are heading to find Camreal’s parents.. So this will continue..

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The Secrets of Speandal

Kalak paced the streets of Lower Speandal, occasionally looking up at the great hole in the colossus platform thousands of feet above his head. He had barely slept since the destruction of the Immaculate Temple. Detonating the firedust reserves had gone off without a hitch (whether or not he trusted him, The Shadow of the Mountain had proven a useful ally), but now he was worse off than ever before. The ensuing battle with Father Downpour had destroyed the city’s four elevators and left his Phoenix Guard, his worshipers and his fellow Exalted trapped in Lower Speandal. If they took the main tower to the Upper City, the Dynasts would know immediately, and anyone who tried to leave the city would be smudged from Creation by the Spiral-Topped Manse.

His message of rebellion against the Immaculate Order had left trapped and under siege. And worse, those trapped with him were starting to break under pressure. “Realm loyalists are trapped in the Lower City as well, my Lord Phoenix,” a defected Thousand Scales named Jerric had told Kalak the other day, “They seek amnesty with those above us, and it won’t be long until the hunger of the others outweighs their faith. To escape this without surrender is impossible.” Kalak stopped as he thought of that conversation, watching the sun shine through the hole in the Upper City. His thoughts drifted to his past and what had brought him here. He put a hand towards his chest, the scars were healed but he still remembered the words as if the Shadow of the Mountain cut them yesterday: I will come for you when the sun of your life is at it’s peak.

“They say it is impossible to escape this.” Kalak said to no one in particular, “I promised to do the impossible the day Thorns fell…”

He would get out of this city, he already had a sizable force and the entire city of Torvus at his back. If he could contact them somehow they could-

A look of realization came across Kalak’s face before he took off for the inn his Circle was using as a base.
=====================

“The Serpent what?”, Silken Venom asked, his eight eyes doing the spider equivalent to raising an eyebrow.

“In Torvus, we met a ”/campaigns/dragon-s-wrath/characters/lawret" class=“wiki-content-link”>Solar who used a giant snake to collect books from libraries across Creation." Kalak said to the Circle, which had gathered at an inn in the lower city. “If the serpent’s tunnels run underneath Speandal, then we can escape with our followers to Torvus.”

“What does this have to do with the god?” Maiden Sepherene asked, resting her feet on the table in the inn’s common room.

“Silken Venom is the god of the city,” Kalak said, “He omniscient within the walls of Speandal. He can find the location, and we can escape all the more quickly.”

“Yes, well….about that….” Silken Venom was rubbing his front legs together nervously, “You see…..I have no idea what’s occurring under the city.” Realizing that all the eyes in the room were on him, the god explained his situation. “A few thousand years ago, this city was ruled by a Solar named ”/campaigns/dragon-s-wrath/characters/lord-circon-of-the-coiled-sun" class=“wiki-content-link”>Lord Circon of the Coiled Sun. We got into an argument because he was able to hide his palace from my divine sight, I got really angry and….I sank the whole thing…."

Camreal was sitting on the the table, but the shaking of his feline head told him that he was upset about the issue at hand. Leon spoke up at the cat’s silence, “Then we’ll have to explore it ourselves to find these tunnels. I suggest we-”

“Hang on,” Kalak asked, looking at the god, “Are you saying that there are First Age ruins sitting under this city?” The spider nodded, and the Ascending Phoenix grinned.

“People…I think a new plan is in order.”

=================

The passages beneath the Spiral Topped Manse had been long and winding. Eventually leading the group to an enormous building marked with the symbol of a dragon wrapped around the sun.

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At long last

after being stuck as a cat for so long i can finally get back to writing about my adventure. It is still weird trying to wight though because i am technically dead but am possessing my own body. I don’t remember exactly how i managed to be able to transform again but now i can. i also gained the ability to control the bones of other living creatures and make the do as i command. along with the ability to make person of my chose stare into the void and see a image of themselves that makes them die for it is not something meant for human eyes to see. my group of companions were in town to hear a speech. but had to intervene when inasents were going to be killed. i was able to control one of them and make them stop but was stabbed from behind while anther of my group was burned badly seeing that we were out matched we fled the town.

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Introduction of Ledaal Leonel

In search of anathema to assist him with his cause, Leon came upon the great city of Speandal. Leon had heard rumors of anathema heading in this direction. So Leon ventured into the city on his search. Taking a lift to the upper city, Leon looked out to witness the aftermath of riots in the lower city. Word of an “Ascending Phoenix” coming to save them all.

Leon went to the Immaculate Temple in the upper city to get some rest from his journey. It did not take very long to find trouble. A voice rang out in the city. Booming through every building and every street.

“People of Speandal…I am the Ascending Phoenix and the true Emperor of the Realm!!", roared the voice. Leon jumped to his feet and grabbed his sword. Running out of the Immaculate Temple grounds, Leon was blinded by a light as bright at the sun. Looking up, the silhouette of a man clad in armor on top of the Ledaal Estate.

“The Immaculate Order wishes to kill me and keep the people of the Realm under the boot of the Scarlet Dynasty!! They wish to see those who would achieve greatness put to the sword and forgotten!!”, boomed the voice.

Leon rushed into the building that the man was standing on. The voice continued but was muffled due to Leon rushing up the stairs. Halfway up Leon caught the phrase, “Let me show you what happens to those the Unconquered Sun deems to be heretics…" An explosion shook the building and knocked Leon of balance. He rushed to a window to see debris and fire engulfing the Immaculate Temple.

“This man is insane!” He gasped. Leon was almost at the top floor when a boom came from over his head. Tearing the roof off the building. Leon jumped up to the remaining part of the roof. The man that was standing there was sent sailing through the air and into another building. And his attacker in fast pursuit. Leon drew his blade and rushed in.

There he saw Father Downpour, hammer in hand, going blow for blow with the Ascending Phoenix. Downpour was knocked back out of the building by the Phoenix. He smiled and looked up to the sky. Rain started to fall and lightning crackled. Leon jumped into the fray, blade in flames, but was sent flying into the building. Something came at him, It wasn’t Downpour. It was a woman. Leon parried her kick and knocked her to the ground.

“Im not who you think i am.” the woman muttered. She looked over at Downpour then back at Leon. They shared a nod and dashed at Downpour. The woman knocked him off balance and gave Leon an opportunity to strike. This attacked knocked Downpour back a good distance. He got up and laughed, “You fools! You think you can get away with this??” He struck his hammer to the ground with all his force. Crumbling the disk of the upper city beneath our feet.

Unable to react, Leon, the woman, the Ascending Phoenix, and his trusty cat sidekick all fell through the floor of the upper city. Plummeting to the lower city below, they had to save themselves. They grabbed onto the jade pillars to stop their descent. The god of the swamp below the city, Silken Venom, helped them safely reach the floor of the lower city. Where they went into hiding and finally introduced themselves. Sesus Kalak, the Ascending Phoenix, Maiden Sepherene, and Kalak’s cat friend Camreal.

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The Holy Fires of Heresy

The city of Speandal still reeled from the events of a few days ago. The riots in the Lower City had been minor at worst, and the Immaculate Monks led by the great Father Downpour had quickly ended the rabble in the streets below. However, the city was far from at ease. Anathema had been seen within the city and people in the Lower City had chosen to follow this heretic.

Iselsi Faron never had to deal with anathema before the riots, and even then she hadn’t seen any. All she really did was get those loyal to the Realm to safety while Downpour’s favorites dealt with this Ascending Phoenix. In the end he had escaped, and the Monks weren’t even sure if there was only one Anathema in the city. Faron shook her head as she went back to sliding scrolls onto shelves. She couldn’t do much about it now. All she could do was work hard and hope that….

“Iselsi Faron?” a voice came from behind her.

“Uh, yes. That’s me.” Faron said, sliding down the ladder and turning to the young man who just entered. His uniform and satchel full of scrolls told the monk that he was a courier.

“Message for you from… Kalak of House Sesus.” the courier said, handing her a small scroll. Faron took the scroll, eyes wide. For the last five years, she had thought that her betrothed had died in the Siege of Thorns. Now after so long, he appeared in Speandal like nothing had ever changed. Slowly Faron broke the seal on the scroll and unrolled the message…

Iselsi Faron,
__
I understand that you must hate me for never attempting to contact you in the years since my house pronounced me dead. For that I apologize. I wish to speak to you about those lost years. Please meet me at the Gardens of the Spiral Topped Manse at sunset tonight. There you will know the truth.
__
Sincerely,
Kalak of House Sesus

=====================

It wasn’t hard to leave the Temple that evening, Faron had finished up all her book keeping an hour beforehand. Faron quickly left the temple, running past the painter Ledaal Venet as she headed to the Sesus estates. She wasn’t entirely sure what Kalak would wish to talk about. The last time they had spoke it seemed that he had wanted nothing to do with their betrothal. However, Kalak had been gone for five years, the least she could do is let him talk.

The Gardens of the Sesus estates were always a beautiful place. Flowers from all over the Blessed Isle had been arranged around the canals and fountains that snaked around the Spiral Topped manse. Usually there were Dynast nobles discussing politics, fawning over young maidens or simply enjoying the beauty of the gardens. This evening, however, Faron found it surprisingly empty. She sat down at the edge of a fountain depicting Daana’d, the Immaculate Dragon of Water. The gardens remained empty as the sun started to vanish on the horizon, the mirrors on the ground below dimming and casting the Lower and Upper city into darkness…..

Suddenly, a blinding light appeared, a second sun appearing just above the city. Faron covered her eyes, making out the figure standing atop one of the taller buildings in the Upper City.

“People of Speandal…I am the Ascending Phoenix and the true Emperor of the Realm!! A booming voice echoed across the city, seeming to come from the very stones of Speandal themselves. “The Immaculate Order wishes to kill me and keep the people of the Realm under the boot of the Scarlet Dynasty!! They wish to see those who would achieve greatness put to the sword and forgotten!!” Faron had begun to run from the gardens, sprinting as fast as she could back for the temple. Father Downpour would need her assistance if the anathema turned violent!

“I tell you now, the Ascending Phoenix is the voice of the Unconquered Sun,” the booming voice of the Ascending Phoenix continued, “And the Unconquered Sun deems the Immaculate Order heretics!!!” As Faron pushed through the crowds in the streets of the Upper City, she saw the shining figure extend a hand towards the Immaculate Temple. Faron listened in horror to the Ascending Phoenix’s words, “Let me show you what happens to those the Unconquered Sun deems to be heretics…

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. There was a second flash of light and a loud roar, followed by screams and gasps from the mortals in the Upper City. Faron braced herself as a large force seemed to blow everyone back. Faron stood and stared in horror at the source of the shockwave, feeling her heart sink in her chest.

The Immaculate Temple was a blazing inferno, completely consumed by flames. There was no saving it now, somehow the Ascending Phoenix had turned a centuries old monument to the Order into nothing more than a bonfire in seconds. All her friends, her work, her faith were all in flames.

She turned away from the fire, unable to look at the destruction of the place that had once been her home. Involuntarily, she found herself looking at the Ascending Phoenix, still standing atop the building and shining like a second sun. However, Faron was much closer to him now and she could now make out the features of the anathema. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she looked upon the monstrous figure. The shining golden armor was unfamiliar to her, but Faron would recognize the blood red hair anywhere in the world. She felt her hands shake in fear, barely able to utter the true name of the Ascending Phoenix.

“….Kalak?!?”

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The Loss of an Ally

Lapis Lazuli is dead, and with him our last safe haven in Speandal.

It all began the day I spoke of the Immaculate Order’s treachery towards the Lower City. By causing the people of Spaendal to forget about Silken Venom, they were putting the Lower City in danger of the poisonous swamp gas that the god kept at bay. Needless to say, the crowd was disturbed by this news. The city had become a powder keg waiting to explode.

Shortly after my daily speech as the Harbinger of the Phoenix, my men and I were attacked by sand golems who had disguised themselves as part of my Phoenix Guard. I was ill prepared to deal with such creatures, and had Iselsi Faron not saved me, I don’t know what would have become of me. After quickly thanking my former betrothed, I left the alley. The streets of the Lower City were patrolled by Immaculate Monks. The time to act was at hand. I quickly revealed myself as the Ascending Phoenix, yelling for the people to take back their city from the Immaculate Order.

Shortly after the riot started, I was attacked by four Dragon-Blooded monks, led by a fifth monk wielding a great hammer. I didn’t catch their names, but they were clearly Fire, Wood, Earth and Air aspects. They were able to use their power to isolate me atop a great stone pillar surrounded by a barrier of fire and thorns. I had heard stories of Anathema bringing down a single Dragon-Blooded warrior easily, unfortunately I was outnumbered and these monks were clearly trained in fighting against the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun.

I managed to slay one of the monks, but it was clear this was a losing battle. I would have certainly perished against the other three if it weren’t for my many legged ally, Silken Venom. He managed to pull me out of the melee and teleport me safely to one of the city’s great elevators. From there we saw the hammer-wielding monk quickly subdue the riot with some sort of strange spell or artifact. From above, it looked remarkably similar to the Sleeplight used on us by Kean and his band of thieves over a year ago.

The city needed another sign of my power, something to show them that the actions of the Monks would not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, this meant calling upon the assistance of the deathknight scum, The Shadow of the Mountain. Once we agreed to pay him with one of the numerous artifacts Maple Leaf Shipping had obtained so long ago, the thief set to work. Under my orders, the Shadow managed to hide barrels of firedust within the Immaculate Temple of Spaendal, unseen by the monks. I didn’t ask how he managed it, but in less than a day, he provided me with an object that could be used to detonate the firedust remotely. Camreal had also managed to obtain one of the microphones used at The Summit, my plan was going to go off without a hitch.

During this time, we also discovered that we were not the only Solar Exalted in Speandal. When children tried to steal Camreal, they told us of a man who lived in the Lower City. The children led us to a small workshop, where we met Virtuous Reed. Reed had been doing strange experiments with various plants and animals, creating species that had never been seen in Creation. He seemed happy to help us out, and even said he’d attempt to find a way to get Camreal’s shapeshifting ability back. That would be wonderful, he has gotten rather sulky since he became a cat. It looked like we would soon be a force to be reckoned with.

That was until we returned to Lapis’s warehouse, where we found an ambush awaiting us. The man introduced himself as Tempest and seemed to have some sort of past with Lapis Lazuli, and not a good one considering he was attempting to burn down his warehouse. I bravely fought off the soldiers who had invaded our home while Camreal and Wallace desperately tried to find the bombs Tempest had hidden in our hideout. Alas, despite disarming all the bombs, the fires caused from the fight had spread too much and we couldn’t save the warehouse. Not only that, but Tempest had delivered a killing stroke to Lapis. We managed to pull him from the burning building, but it was too late. With his dying breath, the merchante sanctified one last oath: to give control of his shipping company to Wallace O’dell.

I mourn for the loss of my friend and ally, but too many wheels had been set in motion. Tomorrow at sunset, the Ascending Phoenix would make the Immaculate Order pay for their heresy.

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Dragon's Wrath Extra I
Ledaal Venet

Venet struggled to get through the double doors of the Immaculate Temple with all of his supplies. Usually this wasn’t a problem, as Ramora would carry the extra baggage, but the monks asked him to come alone, so he pressed on. He had no idea what the monks wanted with him. He was a painter, so unless they wanted a portrait, his skills didn’t exactly fall into the category of useful to them. If they did want a portrait painted, why would they only ask him to bring his basic supplies? Did they even know what basic to Ledaal Venet meant? He had come with just about everything, save some of his more unique colors and mediums. A troubling occurance, as it was making it hard for him to move. Finally some of the acolytes ran to help him, but the doors were, for the most part, behind him. He walked past the reception desk, through the Essence Affairs office, and up the stairs toward the monk’s chambers.

Venet was familiar with the Temple. He had come by to admire the architecture many times in the past. It was always a bit disappointing that the inside paled in comparison to the exterior. Somehow the architect had managed to capture the ferocity of the flame in motion, and create a building from it. Every time he looked at it he couldn’t help but critique it a bit though. The color choice was nothing to complain about, but he felt that simple reds, yellows, and oranges didn’t give its form the proper style. The inside looked more stereotypical of the structures on the Blessed Isle. If there wasn’t a good reason for all the Jade, he’d think they overused it.

Venet climbed the spiral stairs that he now realized might be a bit too narrow for him and all of his supplies to easily navigate. Much like everything else in the Temple, the stairs were also Jade. He liked Jade when it was used in new ways, but otherwise preferred a rarer metal that he had seen in some of the more artistic manses of the Realm. He liked it so much he had a special brush made from it. It was a strangely thin item, smaller than most brushes, despite the fortune he paid for it. His thoughts were lost after that though as he hit his foot on the last step and stumbled. Several of his brushes fell while he caught himself and he bent over to pick them up.

“Ledaal Venet?” Said a voice fom the hallway in front of him.

“Yes, that’s me.” Venet replied, scooping up the last of his fallen brushes.

He stood up and readjusted his pack before he got a better look at the man in front of him. He wore the white robes of an Earth Monk. Bronze lining indicated that he was high ranking. Venet could see that he was bandaged in several places, and he had a bit of a limp. Short dark hair sat atop his head in a style that drew the eye to his own, though currently disheveled. It looked like he had been in quite a scrape recently.

“Come with me,” He said solemnly.

Venet quickly got behind him and followed him through a series of corridors. They’re passed by monks and acolytes as they rushed in every direction. The place hadn’t looked too busy from the outside, but something seemed to have gotten them all worked up. Soon they wound up in front of an ornate Jade door. The Earth Aspect wasted no time and went through. Venet tried to follow, but the door quickly shut, giving off a loud slam. Taken aback a bit, he stared accusingly at the door. He quickly pulled back though, for it almost seemed like the door was staring back at him. He leaned forward to inspect the door a bit closer. His inspection revealed a pattern he hadn’t noticed at first. It was a dragon. Venet was beyond disappointed now. He could appreciate a theme, but it was getting ridiculous. He almost felt tempted to give the door a new more interesting design, but it opened before he could even unsling his pack. A different monk poked his head through the door. This one wearing red robes with the same bronze linings. His long white hair had a singed look to it at the end.

“Is he here?” He said quickly looking around before noticing Venet. “Oh. Wonderful. Come in please.” He opened the door and beckoned the artist inside.

Venet entered the room and quickly took in his surroundings. This room looked like it saw gatherings often. It looked like there had once been seats arranged all around it, but they had all been pushed aside leaving the floor clear. Otherwise the room had a few fountains and urns that gave it away as a recreational area. It already seemed to have plenty of art. Dragons. Who knew? The two monks were the only ones there besides him, and neither of them appeared dressed for a painting… Not that it mattered.

“Gentlemen,” Venet finally said, “Might I ask why I’ve been called to the Immaculate Temple?”

“The Immaculate Order has need of your services. I’m sure you’ve seen the message spun in webs under the city.” The monk in red said.

Venet nodded and started to unpack his supplies. He started with the easel, and quickly drew the canvas across it. Next, his palate and as many colors as he could fit on it. He placed his brushes in a small vase and pulled out his favorite one. The monks eyed the brush for a moment, but then continued their explanation.

“We fear that the Ascending Phoenix might be planning something. We know now that Silken Venom has been aiding him, and the message is spun in his webs” Said the monk in white “That’s why we need you to help us find and identify him”

“You want me to make a facial composite?” Venet asked.

“Yes. We’re running out time, and his next move might be even bigger.” Said the monk in white

“Bigger than a riot in the undercity?” Questioned Venet.

“That’s what we’re worried about. Anathema do not think small, and this one is no exception.”

Venet had to agree with that. Starting a riot in Spaendal was not an easy task. He also understood why they came to him for the picture. Who else could contain that much power in a single painting?

“Alright, let’s get started!” Venet said enthusiastically. “Now who do I have the pleasure of working with today?”

“I am Peleps Laticho.” Said the monk in white. “And this is Ragara Fowenu”

“Excellent! Now, tell me about the Ascending Phoenix.” Venet said dipping his brush in the water.

Laticho crossed his arms and put on a thoughtful look.

“He was tall, with red hair. His face-”

“Stop. Stop. What are you doing?” Venet asked, putting his brush down.

“Describing the Ascending Phoenix.” Laticho replied, a bit confusedly.

“That’s just fine, but that’s not what I asked for. You’re giving me a physical description.”

“I’m not sure I follow.”

“Tell me how he stood, what he said, how he said it; things like that. I need to know
who he is. Not what he is.”

Laticho and Fowenu exchanged what wouldn’t be the last confused looks they gave each other that day. The next few hours consisted of the monks trying to explain what it was like to fight the Ascending Phoenix. How he held his sword, when he struck, when he was silent, and when he spoke. Every word they said was taken into account as Venet fervently stroked at the canvas. The brush taking on a life of its own as it moved to every corner of the canvas. Soon Venet had heard enough and he took to painting more furiously than before. Laticho and Fowenu could only wait as Venet’s face shifted between multiple emotions in the blink of an eye. Then he set down his brush, took a step back, and inspected his work.

“What do you think?” He said, as he spun the easel around. “Is this the man you’re looking for?”

The monks immediately recognized the person in the painting. It was the same man that killed their sworn brother, and threw the entire undercity into chaos. Venet had completely recreated the likeness of the Ascending Phoenix without a single physical description.

“That’s incredible.” Said Fowenu, as he reached forward and pulled the canvas off the easel.

“Now we just need to make some copies, and use them to find this monster.”

“Excuse me?” Venet Said, and he ripped the canvas from the monk’s hand. “Copies? Ledaal Venet’s work is never copied. Each of my paintings is one of a kind, even if I use the same subject.”

“Are you talking about your painting at the museum?”

“Yes. I imagine that is why you called me in here. Though, I’ve painted this man on yet another occasion. Honestly I’m surprised I did not see it before.” Venet said, eyeing the painting.

“You have?! Where?!” Blurted out Fowenu.

“It was at the Summit. He called himself Sesus Kalak.”

Fowenu repeated the name to himelf.

“This changes everything.” Said Laticho.

“Now that we have the name, we won’t need the picture” Added Fowenu.

“Then am I finished here?” Asked Venet.

“Yes. The Immaculate Order thanks you for your help.” Said Laticho in a rehearsed manner.

“Then I shall take my leave. Farewell, Gentlemen.” Venet said with a bow, and then packed up his supplies. The project had not been what he expected, but he felt the subject was most interesting. He thought about how much he had learned about this “Ascending Phoenix.” How he listened to the stories in Torvus and saw the idols and statues. How he thought he understood this figure, but managed to completely miss him sitting right next to him.

He reached the doors to the Temple and worked them open. This time aided by a woman who seemed to be in a hurry to leave. He thanked her, but didn’t know if she heard. He walked along the path away from the Temple with his newest painting in his hands. He stopped to inspect it closer. This one seemed so boring compared to the others. He had purposely simplified the work so that the man could be identified. It disappointed him that he had made something so plain.

Suddenly a loud voice broke him out of his lull. He quickly searched for its source, but the sound seemed to come from everywhere. The people on the street began turning their attention to the center ring, and Venet’s went with it. It looked like they were looking at the sun, but Venet was sure that it had just set. Focusing a bit, he saw that the glowing orb wasn’t the sun. It was a man. A man glowing bright enough to light up the entirety of Spaendal, with a voice strong enough to reach every ear.

There was no doubt about it. That was the Ascending Phoenix, and he was fulfilling Silken Venom’s prophecy. He immediately began unpacking his supplies right there on the Temple grounds. He stretched the canvas containing his newest painting over the easel and grabbed his favorite brush.

“Now that is something worthy of my canvas.”

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An Old Flame and a New Blaze
From the Journals of Sesus Kalak

Camreal had been hurt pretty badly, but I needed to put the information I learned from the Summit to use, so I left him at Lapis’s warehouse. I needed to find a way to contact this god known as the Sea of Amber Blades; if he was truly as elusive as the Immaculate Monks claimed, he would be a useful ally. I immediately took off for the Immaculate Temple in the city, hoping to find information on where to find the trickster god. What I found was much more shocking.

Working at the Temple library was a woman I knew by the name of Iselsi Faron. I knew Faron from my time in the House of Bells, where our families decided that we would one day be married. Of course, this was all before the attack on Thorns when most of the Realm believed me to be dead. Faron gave me the information I needed and promised to keep the knowledge of my return between us.

During this time, we also discovered a few interesting facts. Namely that the city’s museum planned to “Reveal the Ascending Phoenix” that very night. We also learned that the city’s patron god, Silken Venom, had not been seen in a long time. Seeing that we had a long time until I was supposedly going to be revealed, I decided to seek out this Silken Venom, who supposedly resides in the pillars that hold up the Upper City of Spaendal. All it took was a quick climb into these pillars to discover the location of the god, who took the form of a large spider. Not wanting to give myself away, I introduced myself as the Emissary of the Ascending Phoenix, and explained that the god appeared to be a worthy ally. Silken Venom also told me of his plight: how the Immaculate Order was keeping people from worshiping him and how he was originally appointed to protect Spaendal from the poisonous swamp it was built upon. I came to a horrible realization: if Silken Venom were forgotten, the Lower City would all die, but the Upper City would be protected from the swamp gases. This information had to be given to the people of the city. Silken Venom had to gain back his worshipers.

That night, I attended the gathering at the city’s museum, where the Ascending Phoenix would be revealed. I had my men waiting outside with my weapons and armor, in case someone there had truly found out my secret. It turns out that I was wrong. The “Reveal” that was spoken of was actually the premier of a painting done by the Dynast Painter Ledaal Venet. The painting itself depicted the Phoenix (the face was obscured by a heavenly light) standing triumphantly over the rubble of Governor Joriag’s palace in the city of Torvus, a phoenix perched upon my shoulder. Overall, I found it quite flattering.

The next day would prove to be quite eventful. Since coming to Spaendal, I had spoken in the Lower City on a regular basis. I had told them of the Phoenix’s coming, of the sins and heresy of the Immaculate Order and of the Golden Age that I would bring to the Blessed Isle. Tomorrow I would reveal that the Immaculate Order’s actions against Silken Venom would eventually destroy the Lower City.

I feel it will prove to be a most glorious event.

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The Summit of the Maple and Phoenix
From the Journals of Sesus Kalak

The time of this mysterious Summit had finally come along, my comrades and I had managed to gain invitations. From entering the forum, it was clear that whatever this meeting was about it was important to the Scarlet Dynasty. Dragon Blooded from all around the Plains had come to the city of Speandal for this meeting, so it must have been of the greatest importance.

Turns out, the Summit was about us.

The events in Torvus of the past year had gathered the attention of the Scarlet Dynasty, and they had gathered to discuss both the revolutionary actions of The Ascending Phoenix and the monopolization of Torvus’s businesses by the hands of Lapis Lazuli.

Fortunately for Lapis, he could merely claim that his actions were merely business and that the Great Houses (specifically Ragara) were merely afraid of a little competition. I, on the other hand, had to be much more subtle. Most of the Summit seemed to believe that The Ascending Phoenix was a rogue god or even a Dragon Blooded from the Threshold. Since they didn’t know my true identity, I was able to convince most of the Dynasts that the “Ascending Phoenix” was merely a legend invented by the people of Torvus.

Things were going well and it looked like they were going to dismiss the Ascending Phoenix as a mere story. However, the arrival of Cathak Dravin changed all of that. He burst into the forum, claiming that the Ascending Phoenix was most likely Anathema. As the head of the Wyld Hunt in the Dragonswrath Plains and the grandson of Cathak Cainan himself, Dravin had a lot of pull among the Dynasts. Fortunately, I was able to maintain my stance and convince the Summit that Dravin was merely trying to attack phantoms. The Dragon Blooded eventually decided that a few investigators sent to Torvus was all that was really needed to deal with the Ascending Phoenix at that time (Much to Dravin’s dismay)

After the Summit, we met a few of the Dragon Blooded personally, including Dravin himself, the talented painter Ledaal Venet and his friend Ramora. We also were able to send a message back to Torvus in order to warn Ledaal Jeves of the coming investigators. Throughout all of this, I lost track of Camreal, but I assumed he simply left to take care of his own business (I don’t pretend to understand the whims of necromancers).

However, shortly after leaving the Summit we were contacted by representatives of The Shadow of the Mountain. We quickly found the thief, who was horribly wounded and had lost an arm after some sort of attack. It turns out The Shadow had lost his arm rescuing Camreal, who had been caught and horribly wounded by Dravin after trying to follow the Dynast through the city.

I still don’t trust the deathknight, but now a more pressing issue has come to mind. Dravin knows that Camreal was with us, and even if he assumed that he killed him he will most likely go after us. We could have the Wyld Hunt upon us any day now….

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Within the Shadows of Giants

Our march to the city of Speandal was rather uneventful. That was, until we camped a few miles from a great mountain. That night, we were all awoken by a great noise like thunder. Those of my men who were awake claimed to have seen something strike the distant mountain, and now a great pillar of smoke rose from the summit. At first light the next morning, we set off for the mountain to discover what had happened.

What we found was a smoldering ruin littered with corpses. The Thousand Scales had arrived at the scene and were trying to make heads or tails of what happened. Apparently, the previous night a war-manse simply exploded and killed everyone occupying the structure.

As we investigated the ruins, shouts came from over the hill. I ran to find Camreal sealed within a suit of red armor, silver chains coming off of it and cutting through mortal soldiers like they were nothing. Whatever this strange armor was, it seemed to be controlling Camreal. Lapis and I fought back as best we could, but we couldn’t save the Scales and their Dragonblooded leader. Soon, the strange armor (which appeared to be made of some sort of living substance) began to engulf the two of us. I attempted to tear it from my body, but was quickly engulfed.

When I came to, the three of us were being held hostage by a mysterious man wearing the red armor from earlier. He introduced himself as Chitin, the Skin of Malfeas. Apparently, this demon was not only powerful but also had a past with Camreal and knew of the Lunar’s parents. Chitin wished to make a deal with us: find Camreal’s parents and slay them so he could lay claim to their souls. I would normally strike no such deal, but Camreal had reason to believe that his parents were the ones spreading the word of the Shining Path. We agreed, but only on one condition. I told the demon that we would only agree to this if he agreed to serve us on any day of our choosing. The creature agreed, and let us on our way. If Chitin is truly as powerful as he claims to be, he could prove to be a great asset to me in the future.

When we arrived in Speandal, we learned of an important summit occurring within a few days. Supposedly, Dynasts from all over the Plains were coming to the city in order to discuss important business, though no one was clear what this business was. During this time, Lapis was also mugged by a thief. When Camreal and I intervened, the thief recognized us and revealed himself to be Kean, the leader of the band of thieves we encountered on the way to Torvus. After catching up with him, he revealed that he was currently working for the infamous thief The Shadow of the Mountain. Taking us deeper into the alleys of the city, he introduced us to the Shadow, who revealed him to be someone else we encountered. The identity of the thief was none other than the soldier I fought nearly a year ago, the one who became an Abyssal after I mortally wounded him.

However, the Shadow of the Mountain did not seem to bear us any ill will. Camreal and Lapis wished to use his thieving skills to help our Circle, but I do not trust the creature. However, there is little I can do about it now. I must spread the word of the Phoenix to the people of Speandal and prepare for the Summit occuring within a few days.

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