Friday 28 September 2018

Exalted - The Death of Raven

This is the story of our Exalted game, told from the point of view of my character, Cathak Taji. Click here for the index.
Tiger reached the temple doors as they opened in a swirl of feathers. Raven stood there, muscular male torso bared, but a bird's head and a pair of huge black-feathered wings. Twirling a silver daiklave as though it were a twig, he leapt at Tiger and landed a blow. In response, Tiger's form shifted, becoming sleeker, leaner, faster. Raven flew up high, gathering essence to him - realising he was casting sorcery, Kito and Ray ran for cover, but I hadn't taken my eyes from him since he emerged and he was still just inside the range of my bow. I drew the string back far enough to hurt, pictured white mice and the symbol Kito had found, whispered a prayer, and loosed the arrow. It took all my courage, but I watched the arrow fly true. It glanced against the beast - not enough to distract him, but I hit him.

There was no immediate effect to Raven's casting. The 5 beastmen who'd made it into the temple now raced out, dressed for battle and armed with bows - which was when volcanic tentacles erupted from the ground, lashing at Ray, Tiger and Kito but ignoring me, still hidden in the forest. Tiger fought the tentacles, but Ray backed off and Kito ran into the temple. The remaining beastmen chased after him, so Ray followed.

The tentacles had flailed as individuals, but with only one target remaining I saw Raven focus on them, and those Tiger hadn't destroyed stilled then turned on my ally, one wrapping itself around him and the others then smashing into him. He looked awful; I knew I had to do something, for all I felt out of my depth. I braced myself against the trunk of the tree I stood in, and took careful aim at Raven once more. Again, I managed to hit! The tentacle dropped Tiger, but my relief lasted barely an exhale as Raven dove through the foliage to me. I dropped from my branch as his blade sliced through where I had been standing, turning a killing blow to a glancing one, compounded with bruising as I landed awkwardly. Raven returned to the sky as I tried to hide.

Curling up in the roots of a tree,I looked back up to see Tiger had transformed into a roc and Ray standing near the temple doors. Raven swooped at Tiger, who rose above, shifted back to human and drew his axe as he fell to land on Raven's back. Ray's lance flashed past, close but missing both. Tiger roared as he swung his axe - an impossible arc, he'd clearly missed... and yet somehow twisting to cut through Raven.

They fell, one of Raven's wings spiralling separately.

Kito emerged from the temple as I disentangled myself from the jungle. Ray left to retrieve the lance and Kito checked on Tiger, which left me to look to Raven. A young-looking man, fine-boned with a pointed, beak-like nose. I decapitated the body. Tiger left the head for us to take back as a gory trophy, gave the daiklave to Kito and burnt the rest of Raven. He would fix the damage Kito had attempted to inflict on the manse and claim it as his own. I looked around at this warm, tranquil spot and envied him, swore to myself I would have a manse at least as fine as this of my own, one day.

The journey back to the camp felt anti-climatic after that. We told Captain Riley that we'd found Raven and the beastmen dead when we reached the village, but he didn't believe us and blamed Ray's leadership for us disobeying his direct order not to get involved. Ray was angry, clear even through the faceless armour, stated we should be being rewarded for this, and insisted on taking a few days off. The armour cracked open then, and a tall woman stepped out, with long, blonde hair and vibrant green eyes. "And for the record, Riley, fuck you," she spat as she spun on her heel and left the room. We followed like lost sheep, and she sent us to rest, explaining she'd be visiting a village a few miles up river.

She's gone when we woke. We spent a couple of anxious weeks trying to keep our heads down and doing general camp tasks, and then she was back, with no further comment. Everything continued as if she'd never left, never sworn at Riley. We stayed with the camp for another year and half, earning a few promotions and continuing to serve under Ray. Once we reached the point where we'd been in the army for 2 years (making us about 17), Captain Riley sent us back to the Rose Black at High Castle.

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