Table of Contents
The man stepped off the boat, looking around the stone pillars of the island. He was tall and regal-looking, clad in a flowing silk robe, with his hair in a long, black ponytail that hung down to his waist, and pale skin, with a slight bluish tint to it. As he surveyed the area, he murmured to himself in a soft, almost soothing voice.
One thin black eyebrow raised. â€œInteresting. Stones arranged in the Constellation of the Mask. Someone has been doing their homeworkâ€¦â€ Strolling forwards, he knelt by the shards of crystal scattered across the ground. â€œRed Yasal. Yes, this makes sense. And now Seven Winds Dancing is free, excellentâ€¦â€
â€œIt really was an awful lot of co-incidences.â€ The man surged to his feet, spinning around. Behind him, standing on the shore of the island, was Sirrim. He was leaning against a single, stunted tree, and smiling ferally.
â€œSirrim.â€ The man shifted towards a defensive position, but his hand did not â€“ quite â€“ rise to the large sword strapped to his belt.
â€œThetram Nash.â€ Sirrim smiled, taking steps forwards, pacing around the other. â€œI thought, it was odd, wasnâ€™t it? Me seeing Nia again, I mean. And with a Solar, no less. One who could help with thisâ€¦ problem. Looking for the problem, specifically.â€ He paused, his back to the other. â€œAnd then learning that, what a surprise, it was the same Solar who knew Mokrelus of old. How veryâ€¦ fortunate.â€ He paused. â€œAnd when co-incidences start to pile up like that, the only question becomes who is responsible.â€
â€œCunning as always, Lunar.â€ Nash sighed, shaking his head. â€œIf youâ€™re quite finished?â€
â€œIâ€™m not. What is your angle in this? Youâ€™re no friend of the Sun, Sidereal.â€
Nash paused. His jaw clenched. â€œYouâ€™re right. Iâ€™m not. No more than you are. But, like you, I find that I must use the tools that present themselves to me. That Splinter has a powerful secret, Sirrim, and there is the problem of Skulking Bear. The Solar can take the brunt of the anger from the Water Court, and the Wyld Hunt that I have sent after him can free Skulking Bear and win the favour of the Air Court. And I can take the Splinter with none of them the wiser, and possibly save Creation from another threat.â€ He smiled congenially. â€œYou see? Everyone wins.â€
â€œAnd all it cost you was untold damage to the natural order?â€ Sirrimâ€™s voice was flat. â€œWhy did you bind Skulking Bear?â€
â€œWhat??â€ Nashâ€™s pleasantness fell away, and he drew his sword, a great daiklave that glittered with the light of the stars. â€œHow dare you even suggest such a thing!â€
â€œSummonings, Nash. The Court of Water needs an Exalt to summon elementals for them. If not you, then who?â€
â€œI intend to learn that, wolf. After I have resolved everything else.â€
â€œYou will not harm the boy.â€ Sirrim growled back, and his hair warped and twisted in the wind. Moments later, a massive wolfman stood in front of the Sidereal, who laughed.
â€œPlease, Sirrim. Youâ€™re just going to make a fool of yourself.â€ With that, Nash leapt forwards, his daiklave tearing sparks from the stone as he struck. Sirrim raised his clawed hands, catching the blade in a brilliant flash as starmetal and moonsilver met. A moment later, he lashed out with one leg, slicing towards the Siderealâ€™s midsection. The blade spun and fell, easily deflecting the blow.
â€œWhy won't you give up, Lunar?â€ As Sirrim fell back, Nash followed, his sword twisting arcane patterns in the air. â€œAnything that you throw at me, I can stop. Can you say the same?â€ His sword stabbed forwards twice more. Sirrim threw himself backwards, rolling under the first blow, but the second caught his side, drawing a thin line of blood. Nash laughed. â€œGive up now!â€
Sirrim drove both claws forwards, only to have the sword block them easily. â€œSwear that the boy will be safe, Sidereal! Or face the consequences!â€
â€œOh, yes, you may force me to spend more Essence.â€ Nash shook his head. â€œCanâ€™t you see that you are outmatched?â€ He arced around, bringing his sword in a vicious horizontal chop, which Sirrim only narrowly avoided. The Lunar fell backwards, shoving off the ground with his hands and kicking out towards the Sidereal with both feet. Sighing, Nash let Essence flow through his sword, sliding it easily to parry the attack. And then Sirrim moved.
He catapulted off the sword, impossibly fast, soaring through the air towards the tree he had first leaned against. As he did, he grinned. â€œOutmatched? The moonâ€™s shine may be hiddenâ€¦â€ Passing the tree, he let his hands touch the leaves, which twined into him, and suddenly, the air was full of leaves, silver light surrounding them, spinning and spiralling with impossible speed as they flowed around the stones towards Nash. Razor-sharp, slicing and flowing, they surrounded him and struck. Nashâ€™s sword moved in impossible arcs, but even it could not stop the hurricane of greenery flowing towards him, and ribbons of blood exploded from him as the Lunarâ€™s trap was sprung. â€œBut you should not take it to mean that it is gone.â€ Landing easily, Sirrim strode forwards, to where Nash lay bleeding on the ground, and kicked his sword away.
â€œFoolish, foolish, Nash. You should have known. Still, I canâ€™t kill you. Too much trouble from your bloody brothers. And youâ€™ll heal those wounds too quickly for them to slow you down much. Which means Iâ€™ll have to slow you down myself.â€ One claw came up, rimmed in silver, and slammed dowards towards Nashâ€™s muscles. The Siderealâ€™s world went red with pain, and then merciful unconsciousness took him.
Sirrim considered the Sidereal for a moment, and then struck again and again, twisting muscles and warping bones. It would not last forever, but if Nash thought to pursue at any time in the near future, he would find it difficult at best. And if he tried to fight again, Sirrim would just have to kill him.
Humming, Sirrim hefted the starmetal daiklave and tied it down. A Wyld Hunt was in the works, was it? He had a lot of work to do.
And for the curious, this is the rough mechanics of the fight:
Sirrim triggers Nature's Ammunition and Deadly Beastman.
Nash triggers Blade of the Battle Maiden for +8 dice.
Join Battle!: Sirrim wins, delays two ticks to see what Nash will do.
Tick 2: Nash attacks. Sirrim blocks.
Tick 3: Sirrim attacks. Nash Impedes The Flow.
Tick 7: Nash attacks twice. Sirrim dodges, succeeding once with a reroll and missing the other. He takes one lethal more, leaving him in his -1s.
Tick 8: Sirrim attacks. Nash Impedes The Flow.
Tick 12: Nash attacks. Sirrim blocks with Essence.
Tick 13: Sirrim uses Quick Attack and attacks. Nash Impedes The Flows.
Tick 15: Sirrim triggers his Deadly Windstorm Strike combo: Lighting Stroke + automatic damage conversion, and attacks three times. He also has a customized Charm that prevents targets from being killed by his attack for 1m. With no Charm selection except Impede the Flow, which can't block the unblockable, Nash gets hit. A lot. He also has no soak, because VBoS. So he's Incapacitated. Combat ends. Because it's been over 10 ticks since it started, Nash can't Avoidance Kata now and escape.
Then Sirrim uses Maiming Blow to drop all of Nash's Physicals to 1. Sucker.