Freedom and Dreams

Session 3
A Perfect Circle?

Sabin, Shadows at Sea, and Natsue relaxed in Three Falls public drinking hall. The masters of the Imperial tribute caravan sat at the high table, enjoying the the finest food and liquor the town had to offer. As they enjoyed their food and drink, they realized that the local people where slowly filtering out of the hall. Natsue noticed them subtly whispering to each other before leaving the hall. Natsue and Shadows made an effort to blend into the crowd, while Sabin brazenly followed the locals into their meeting hall.

Inside, a young woman was in the middle of a speech explaining that Three Falls had to make a choice about whether to rebel against the Empire of Prasad. The Chosen of the Sun who had rescued her had promised to remain and defend Three Fall from reprisal. When she saw Sabin, she fell silent. An old woman told him that this was a local matter and tried to ascertain whether Sabin worked for the Empire. She decided that he did not, and carried on with the debate, speaking against the risk of rebelling. Shadows cut into the debate, encouraging the people to rebel, and Natsue countered that they should consider their options carefully.

The debate continued for some time, which neither side seeming to gain a majority. Eventually, Shadows spoke again in favor of freedom, and Natsue following in his wake, asking the people to look at who was profiting from having the Empire in Three Falls. A young man, incensed by the words the debate, accused his grandmother of being the one to pocket the wealth, that she and the elders were selling the future of his generation. Sabin, having remained quiet through the debate, seized the moment, shouting over the crowd and inciting them to take back the tribute wealth of the imperial caravan. Many of the young men and women cheered in agreement and began marching out into the night…

*

Trush, Starfall, and Willow were waiting at the temple for the people's decision. Willow nervously swept, and Thrush helped him. Starfall lounged comfortably watching them with disinterest. Sky hurried in with news of a mob forming, seemingly intent on violence and urged Thrush to do something about it. He went out and confronted the crowd, forcing their attention with his essence fueled presence. He and Sabin debated the best first steps for rebellion, with Sabin arguing for taking the caravan and Thrush urging patients. As the debate between the two Exalted starting heating up, Willow quietly moved behind Sabin and struck him with his shovel with a resounding clang. Sabin stumbled forward from the force of the blow. Starfall attempted to defuse the situation, but the crowd paid her little attention. Others, including members of the caravan had started gathering to see what the commotion was about, and Natsue suggested they take the conversation somewhere more private. The six Chosen headed for the temple, and the crowd disbursed.

Upon entering the temple, Natsue peered into the spirit world, saw Might Breaks the Trees, and politely bowed to the god, who bowed back. Thrush and Sabin continued the debate about the proper way to hurt the empire or start a rebellion. Sabin expressed distaste for not acting immediately, but nominally agreed to Thrush's plan. Their conversation was cut short by the arrival of Ashai and Inti, who informed the Solars that Three Falls had voted to rebel. Ashai revealed that the young had voted against their family elders, which was unprecedented in the town. Thrush bid Inti to come with the six best hunters of Three Falls in the morning to begin their instruction in the ways of war.

The next morning, Trush named Inti and the other six hunters assembled as his lieutenants. With Sabin's assistance, he began instructing them in the ways of war. Might Breaks the Trees appeared to grant his blessing to their efforts, and Sabin was shocked at everyone's lack of reaction to the god's manifestation. During a break in the training, Thrush asked for Natsue's assistance to write a letter to Little Fish to tell him about the nascent rebellion.

Later in the morning, Flames Ascending entered the temple, and was shocked to find the manifest Treebreaker and the hunters dutifully taking instruction. Before she could intervene, Starfull told her about the threat of Berengiere, the Weaver of Voices, and convinced her to go into the mountains to look for the demon. Flames Ascending looked wary, but agreed that demons needed to be dealt with and departed.

Rel Nas, one of the caravan masters, came to the temple to announce the impending departure of the imperial caravan. Scouts had reported that the wildlife seems pacified, so they will take to the road. Ashai refused to go with him, to which he responded with confusion; as the emperor's promised bride, she had no choice but to come. Thrush stepped in with cold words and a cold stare, and Rel Nas nervously said the next tribute caravan will have to collect the emperor's bride.

As the caravan departed, the Solars heard the blast of horns. Inti and the other hunters said it was a warning of danger. Another hunter ran in, and said that more apemen had been spotted south of the town. Trush asked them to prepare a defense, and he and most of the other Solars went to see the source of danger for themselves. Natsue stayed behind with Ashai and Might Breaks the Trees.

Sabin suggested leading the apemen to attack the caravan, a plan that the others quickly agreed to. Most of them tailed the caravan, and Shadows at Sea sneaked through through the forest to find the apemen. What he discovered, was not just the apemen making their way through the trees, but three massive, gorilla-like blood-apes thrashing their way through the underbrush. With a clever quip, he attracted their attention, leaped into the trees, and began running toward the caravan with the demons and apemen following.

Meanwhile, the other Solars approached the caravan through the cover of the forest. In his eagerness, Thrush approached too closely, and attracted the attention of one of the caravan's rearguard. He claimed he had come to see the caravan off and that the horns heralded their departure. The guard returned to the caravan, then he, and Thrush, turned to look toward the sound of thrashing coming from the south…

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Session 2
Flames and Tinder

Might Breaks the Trees  stood before the Solars demanding answers. Thrush revealed himself as one of the Chosen, and the god changed his demeanor to that of respect. He expressed his outrage toward Flames Ascending, the Immaculate Monk who kept his temple closed. Thrush responded darkly, "All flames must die." During the conversation, Starfall heard shouts, and perhaps a battle-cry over the roaring of the falls. They agreed to help Might Breaks the Trees against the monk and passed through the temple toward the square. The god shattered the barred wooden doors, revealing an unexpected scene.

Apemen were attacking the town, the people of Three Falls were defending themselves, and Sky and Flames Ascending fought back to back against a pack of the beastmen. The Exalted and the god rushed to join the battle. Thrush moved to support Sky, striking with his cesti and using his voice as a weapon. Starfall drew upon the essence of Creation, transforming her hands in the rending claws of killing before setting on the assailants. Might Breaks the Trees transformed himself into an ox-dragon, and charged into the packs of apemen, tossing them aside. Sky and Flames Ascending fought with the skill and might of the elemental dragons. The apemen were quickly driven back, and Might Breaks the Trees chased them through the gates of Three Falls.

Thinking the heroes were also Dragon-blooded, Flames Ascending greeted them and thanked them for their aid. Thrush was immediately hostile to Flames, who responded with confusion. Thrush admonished her for stopping the people of Three Falls from worshiping their god. She said it was not proper for god to receive such worship. He asked what gave her the right. She responded as Dragon-blooded, they were at the divine pinnacle of reincarnation, and it was their right and duty to keep the gods in the proper place. Starfall attempted to set Flames off balance through an appeal to carnal companionship, and while tempted by the Solar's magnetism, Flames dedication to her place in the Order.

Before Thrush could continue to escalate the conflict, Might Breaks the Trees returned, running through the town. His face showed distress, and he shouted, "They've taken her, they've taken Ashai!" Once Thrush calmed him, he explained that the apemen had taken Ashai, a shrine maiden and the tribute bride that the empire was to take from him. The beastmen had split up and he was unable to chase them all down. Thrush volunteered to go recover her, and Sky suggested that he and Flames Ascending stay to protect the town in case there was a second wave of attack.

Thrush and Starfall tracked the apemen through the forest. Thrsuh recognized which one was carrying Ashai by the increased depth of the footprints, and tracked that pack unerringly north-east into the foothills of the mountains. The two Exalted passed quickly through the forest, and they soon caught up with the pack of apemen they were tracking. They kept to the shadows, but the keen-nosed beastmen smelled their approach. Starfall overheard their speaking, and despite the harshness of their dialect, was able to understand that the pack would stay behind to delay their passage while a runner would take the girl to the Voice-Stealer, which Starfall recognized as a possible epithet for the demon Berengiere, the Weaver of Voices.

The Exalted leaped into action; Thrush started running across the clearing to catch the escaping runner while Starfall stepped into view and began gathering the essence of Creation about her to weave deadly magic. The apemen surged forward, but with their essence-fueled arete, the Solars avoided their attacks. Thrush caught up to the runner, and used his voice to send the apeman sprawling. He caught Ashai to break her fall before setting her on the ground and subduing her captor. Around Starfall, shards of beautiful obsidian formed in the air, pouring down her glowing anima banner in a cascade of death and blood. The apemen who were not killed fled into the forest. Both Solars' anima banners were glowing from their magic-fueled effort.

Thrush untied Ashai, who responded fearfully before he reassured her that he had been sent to rescue her by Might Breaks the Trees. Starfall guided Thrush in binding the now captive apeman, who they dragged through the forest. With the shaken Ashai and the burden of the bound captive, the journey back to Three Falls took longer than the pursuit, and they didn't get back to the town until evening.

Upon their arrival, people from the town crowded around them, thrilled at Ashai's return but worried for her safety. One hunter, Inti, showed particular concern for her. Starfall and Thrush urged the crowd to give her space and took her to the temple to see Might Breaks the Trees.

At the temple, they are confronted once again by Flames Ascending. She was glad they were able to save the emperor's tribute bride. Thrush was outraged that she would be sent to the capital and stated vehemently that she was in no condition to travel to the capital. Flames suggested delaying the tribute caravan, to which Thrush said that Ashai would not be traveling at all. Flames said another would have to be chosen to go in her place. Thrush became confrontational, and Flames responded in kind. Before things could escalate too far, Sky stepped in and spoke in a low voice to Thrush. "I follow you because you are not what the stories say you are. Do not prove me wrong." Thrush agreed to drop the conversation and take Ashai to see Might Breaks the Trees in the temple.

While the temple doors were still shattered, the interior of the temple had burning torches, incense, and other offerings. Might Breaks the Trees graciously thanked Starfall and Thrush then rushed to make sure Ashai was unhurt. After everything, the shock of the day's events finally hit Ashai, and she broke down sobbing, sinking to the ground. Might Breaks the Trees knelt and embraced her, rocking gently. He looked up to the Solars with pleading eyes, "Please, do not let them take her from me, do not let them take my beloved Ashai."

Thrush said that they could take care of Flames Ascending, but for her aid in defending the town, Might Breaks the Trees did not want to see her killed. That, and the empire would simple send another agent. Three Falls would not always have the might of the Solar Exalted to defend them. Thrush responded that they would stay if Three Falls would fight for their freedom. At this Ashai composed herself and expressed her concern for the harm that could come to the people of the town if they fought in a war of the Exalted. Thrush convinced her to let the people of the town discuss and come to a consensus on whether to rebel. He would honor their decision.

With Ashai gathering the people to choose a course, Thrush and Starfall went to question the captive apeman. Once again, Starfall expertly guided Thrush in securing their captive before the woke her. Thrush began his questioning with violence, instilling fear in their captive. He demanded to know who had sent them, and why. At first, the captive was reluctant, but ultimately, Thrush's wrathful presence overcame the more distant fear of her master. She revealed that she served the great mother  Raksi, Queen of Fangs. Raksi had sent her and her pack under the leadership of the voice-stealing demon Berengiere. They had orders to take the favored shrine maiden and bride to the emperor to Berengiere, who was waiting for them a half-day's journey into the mountains. She was certain that her failure would lead to a painful death at Raksi's hand. With her cooperation, Thrush adopted a friendlier demeanor, loosening her bonds and learning her name, Huran.

Their questioning finished, Starfall and Thrush discussed what to do. They did not want to leave Berengiere to return to Raksi, and discussed hunting her down. Starfall realized they could send Flames Ascending after Berengiere, potentially ridding the of two threats. With everything they could do complete, the Solars awaited the decision of the people of Three Falls…

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Session 1
Might Breaks the Trees

Traveling through Barun Nghe, the solars were put on edge when the lush forest goes quiet. Then, crashing through the trees into the poorly define road, and ox dragon appeared, seemingly furious. The beast performed a territorial display of aggression until Willow Bending slowly approached it, speaking softly. Thanks to his influence, Bastion, as he called the ox dragon, allowed them to pass.

On the approach to Three Falls, they observed damage damage in the forest about them. The road had been churned to mud in places and many trees were broken. The town itself looked undamaged, and Thrush speculated that they might be preparing for a festival when he saw flowers propped against the open gates of the town.

Upon entering, Thrush interrupted an argument between a Kamthahari merchant, Rel Nas and a local man,  Kafre. The merchant insisted that the people of Three Falls had instigated the beasts of the forest into aggression. Caravans leaving the town had been attacked, and now he was loosing money stuck in this backwater. He desisted when it became clear the Thrush was ignoring him. Kafre explained that the Immaculate Monk traveling with the Imperial Caravan had stopped them from giving offerings to their divine patron, Might Breaks the Trees and it was his anger that had riled the beasts to aggression.

The Immaculate Monk Sky went ahead to distract the other Immaculate Monk watching Treebreaker's temple at the base of the waterfall. The solars snuck around behind it, and climbed up to the offering platform that overlooked the basin carved out by the largest of the town's waterfalls. While looking at the carved image above the temple doors, a powerfully muscled man in a high-collar and a feather cloak with a pair of long horns rising from his forehead, a crash like the snapped of a tree sounded behind them. They saw the same figure depicted on the temple wall, and rather than the look of benevolence the temple depicted, his face was a mask of fury. He spoke and his voiced echoed with the waterfall…

"I am Might Breaks the Trees. Who has entered my temple without the proper offerings?'

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