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Red Sky At Night, Part 20: Duty

30 Jan 2007, 23:30

Nganto’s eyes snapped open, and she flipped to her feet, looking around the chamber. For a moment, it seemed as though she was prepared to continue the earlier battle, but her wild eyes calmed as she took in her surroundings, and she frowned at the quartet facing her.

The beastmen remained clustered around the entrance to the cave, not wanting to abandon their captain, but unwilling to risk the wrath of her former opponents. For her part, Jasmine had pulled her zombies from underneath the clutter and repaired those that she could, and was standing guard against them. Steel lounged on a broken pillar, toying idly with the head of a brass legionnaire, while Lodaris sat crosslegged on the ground and Alina perched against a wall.

“Why did you save me?” As she spoke, the Lunar’s form melted and flowed, her warform dissolving into her natural greenish skin and flowing hair, revealing the scars from the acid sea as her rough skin turned smooth. “Why am I not dead?”

“My question exactly.” Steel’s muttered comment earned him a sharp look from Alina, who spoke instead.

“I saw you fight Dukantha. You’re no friend of the Yozi.” She tried a smile. “I don’t know why you work with the Lintha, but you’ve seen what they serve, now.”

“I have.” Nganto squatted on the ground, shaking her head. “I knew that many of the Lintha had demon-spawned servants, but I never imagined that.” She looked over at the gate, and shook her head, disgusted. “I see that you know how to close it. Good.”

“It won’t stop him.” Nganto looked up sharply, and Alina sighed. “You heard what he said. He’s coming back on Calibration, and he’ll open the gate from this side. We need your help if we’re going to stop him.”

With a long, hissing, breath, Nganto stood. “You do not understand. I will serve the Lintha no longer, but you ask the impossible. If I were to battle the Lintha, my people would not be safe.”

“And how safe will they be when the Yozi flow into Creation?” Lodaris’s voice was soft and dangerous, and Nganto’s eyes narrowed.

“I have heard rumours of you, dragon-man. You may be willing to abandon your family and people, but I have a duty –”

“DON’T SPEAK TO ME OF DUTY!!” The roar shook the caverned ceiling, sending dust cascading to the ground. Even Steel stopped his toying. Even Nganto took a step backwards as Lodaris blasted to his feet. Flames licked around the edges of his eyes as he stormed forwards. “All my life, I lived for my duty. I was the perfect son, I excelled in school. I Exalted. I attended the House of Bells, and graduated with honours. I served in the Legions with distinction for five years, because it was my duty.” His voice lowered to a hiss on the last word, and the Lunar took a second step backwards. Lodaris stopped his advance, stabbing a finger forwards for emphasis.

“When I was thirty-five, my brother came to me, Lunar. My young brother, who I loved dearly, who I had watched grow from a babe to a fine young man. Who had failed to Exalt. Whose duty had carried him away to be a legionnaire, a simple solider. Who had Exalted, saving his legion, and won a Wyld Hunt for it.”

The room was silent, everyone staring at him. “He wanted protection. He wanted me to save him. And I did my duty.” He paused. The flames died, and he looked away. “I killed him. I freed his soul from the demon that inhabited it. And I left the legions, and became a monk, to find peace. And I rode out with Wyld Hunts, again and again, and I did my duty. And finally, eventually, I came to terms with what I had been forced to do.”

“And then I learned the truth. Learned that I had been murdering righteous souls in the name of my people.” He looked back up, glaring at her. “That is the path of duty, Lunar. The path when you fail to listen to what you know is right. When you focus instead on what is expected of you.” His gaze was iron-hard. “What will your path be?”

Nganto’s voice was soft, and she could not meet him in the eye. “I do not know.” She stood heavily. “I will fight for the Lintha no longer, and I will defend this nation if anything save them comes to fight you. I owe you that much for the salvation of my soul, if not more. But I must speak with my people, and with my fellows, before setting them on such a deadly course.” She paused, looking over Lodaris and Alina. “You showed mercy, something I had long since stopped expecting from the unchanged. I will not forget it, and if the Lintha continue to threaten these shores, I will ensure that you are prepared for them. But I cannot put my people at risk without their approval.”

“Always look out for number one, huh?” Steel’s voice was light, but there was a hint of shadows beneath.

“If I did that, I would never have come here.” Nganto smiled a sharp-toothed smile, and then shook her head. “I do not know where my path leads, but you have given me much to think on. I will send scouts if danger threatens this place.”

“I understand.” Alina bowed to the Lunar, who bowed in return. “But I hope that your people will agree with me. This is a deadly problem we face. I’ve never seen anything like Dukantha, in my life or memories.” Nganto nodded solemnly, and walked slowly from the room. Her crew swirled around her like the tide as she passed through them, withdrawing from the doorway.

“You think she’ll actually do what she said?” Steel was looking critically out the door. “Or will she just take her whole tribe and run as far away as she can?”

“She had one chance to save herself, when we were through the portal.” Alina looked back at the stone wall, solid and unyielding now. “She saved me instead of taking it. I think we can trust her.” She looked over to Lodaris, a mix of concern and sympathy on her face. “I didn’t know about your…”

“It was a long time ago.” Lodaris cut her off with a wave of his hand. “We should return to the town. We have much to do, and little time with which to do it.”

Alina nodded. “When Calibration comes, we’re going to have the fight of our lives on our hands.”
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30 Jan 2007, 23:40

And now Lodaris makes sense.

Wow.

Just...wow.
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31 Jan 2007, 00:29

It really is amazing just how many different ways exalted characters can be emotionally fucked up...
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31 Jan 2007, 13:35

BrilliantRain wrote:
It really is amazing just how many different ways exalted characters can be emotionally fucked up...


So true. Nganto's own emotional issues are what kept her from getting killed.

That, and me deciding to forgo her listed character sheet in favour of one that made a lick of sense. I mean, seriously. She's the second most underpowered high-Essence character going.
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31 Jan 2007, 22:03

Oh? Who is the most under powered?
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31 Jan 2007, 23:13

Cathak Cainan.

Seriously - the guy is something like 300 years old, and yet has been built on (as far as I can tell) 500 XP. His Charm list is certainly only about 350 XP.

Nganto is at least built on somewhere around 650 XP, and she's a good seventy years younger. And yet she still is an Essence 6 warform-based Lunar with no Charms past Essence 3, and only 4 DBTs and 3 Ox-Bodies. If I were an Essence 6 Lunar, you can bet I'd be going custom Charms all over the place instead of spreading through crummy speedbumps. She also has seven Combos (although it's listed that four of them are no longer useful due to her tendancy to buy Combos too early. This also annoys me, for Combo reasons), which is seven more than Cainan.

(Mnemon comes in third, mainly because she gets "dozens of spells" added to her list, allowing her to have a variable XP total as written.)
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31 Jan 2007, 23:19

I'd say that at least part of the problem is the lack of high essence charms for anyone but Sidereals. This makes it impossible to create realistic builds for elder DBs, Lunars, or Deathlords, without investing heavily in custom charms. Which would not fit well with an official suppliment.
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31 Jan 2007, 23:33

Friv wrote:
Cathak Cainan.

Seriously - the guy is something like 300 years old, and yet has been built on (as far as I can tell) 500 XP. His Charm list is certainly only about 350 XP.

Nganto is at least built on somewhere around 650 XP, and she's a good seventy years younger. And yet she still is an Essence 6 warform-based Lunar with no Charms past Essence 3, and only 4 DBTs and 3 Ox-Bodies. If I were an Essence 6 Lunar, you can bet I'd be going custom Charms all over the place instead of spreading through crummy speedbumps. She also has seven Combos (although it's listed that four of them are no longer useful due to her tendancy to buy Combos too early. This also annoys me, for Combo reasons), which is seven more than Cainan.


You forgot the factor of "The author writing the character didn't know the Combo rules, so many of them cannot be used in the rules for 1e". Such as Armor-Forming Technique being in a Combo (non-instant duration, fails)
 
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01 Feb 2007, 14:27

I think another reason is figuring out how much XP to build an Elder upon. There isn't exactly a handy chart for determining XP based on age or level of activity.
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01 Feb 2007, 15:01

Tornado Wolf wrote:
I think another reason is figuring out how much XP to build an Elder upon. There isn't exactly a handy chart for determining XP based on age or level of activity.


Actually, there are two. The Player's Guide Chart, and the Exalted: Second Edition corebook experience chart.

To be fair, neither of them existed while Blood & Salt was being written. Still, under the 2e corebook chart, Nganto should be approximately 1300 XP, which is about 800 more than she has. Cainan should be about 1500 XP, which is about 1000 XP more than he has.

As written, Cathak Lodaris is actually about as powerful as Cathak Cainan, which is ridiculous.
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