Scarlet Sky Conspiracy

RY 767 Resplendent Water - Mnemon Aisa

Dear Ryo,

I must say that Zara is fitting into her new life as well as I had hoped. She has been rising early in the morning to make everything ready for my day before I wake, then dashing off to listen in on one of the first year classes in thaumaturgy. Do not fear that she is neglecting her normal studies either, however – I have arranged for one of the Patricians I aided last month to serve as her tutor, teaching her mathematics and history every afternoon before evening classes end…

(Members of the conspiracy will see the following)

Honored members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy, it is time we make our first coordinated move. We can, in one stroke, free the Slave Coast, place House Tepet iredimibly in our debt, and stake my claim to the moral authority so many elders of the dynasty have forsaken. I have a proposal to place before you all.

It begins by throwing the Slave Coast into open revolt.

Or rather, somewhat less dramatically, it begins with me meeting with the remaining leadership of house Tepet to see if they are interested in backing us, and extending subtle feelers to house Cynis. If the great houses are not interested in playing their parts, then no one need risk their lives.

But assuming a level of cooperation, the next step is convincing house Cynis that their best bet is to abandon the project, rather than crush the northern revolt with much bloodshed. This is where house Tepet comes in. With the Tepet legions destroyed, most of their satrapies are also in open revolt – but some of them could be brought to heel with no more than a show of force, which Cynis can muster easily but Tepet is incapable of.

I can mediate a trade – the Slave Coast, a slowly exploding powder keg, in return for some of the rich Tepet lands of the south-east. I hope that house Cynis will be only too glad to make the trade. House Tepet I will have to convince the hard way, that it is an opportunity rather than a trap, but it will help that this is easy to cast as a moral move as well as an expedient one. It keeps the Realm strong, maintains peace in the Threshold, and, truly, the members of the Dynasty are not as insensitive to plights of other nations as we may seem. It is only seldom that we are given a chance to act on our sympathies without compromising our politics.

With the region no longer under Cynis control, we can move the new Legion Magisterial north, where it will prove completely effective at ending the revolt. A magistrate, if given the support of the ruling house (as Tepet will give him), has almost unlimited authority – enough to end the revolt simply by granting its demands. The Empress' justice can be served, order restored, and the Slave Coast granted permission to change itself for the better on the condition that it pay tribute.

That ought to make Carmela look damn good. It will also grant her men their first taste of combat, for surely not all the revolutionaries will be happy to remain under the Realm's guidance, even if the drug induced stupor over the country is lifted. The northern coasts will remain under Realm control, but in return for continuing to pay tribute, they can be granted a great deal more autonomy by their new overlords. Tepet is in no position to make unreasonable demands. House Tepet will owe us a great debt. They are in vital need of a change for the better in their fortunes. A tribute paying satrapy is not enough to return their power, but it is enough to grant them hope – and for the purposes of gaining their gratitude, that is even better.

Such a radical move will require everyone's support, and temporarily at least, place on opposing sides of physical violence – Ferem Quelaana and her people against the Realm. It is dangerous, but I believe the potential is worth the risk. What do you all say? Can it be done, and should it be? I will not set anything in motion without your approval.

I have much other news to share this month, but wished to present this possibility immediately, rather than waiting while I decide which new secrets of mine I can share and which I must hold in trust for their owners.

Yours in leveraging right into might (might it be possible?),
- Mnemon Aisa

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RY 767 Ascending Water - Ledaal Catala Akashan  

Being the 28th Day of Water, Ascending, Year of Our Realm 767
Steady Foundation Pagoda, Imperial Mountain, Blessed Isle

By the grace of the Dragons, my friends:

Ledaal Mockshanta, a beloved elder cousin most enlightened in the Immaculate teachings and called to serve as a monk, and I recently sat down to discuss philosophy over tea. She gently chastised me for my secularism, especially when I confided in her regarding my worries regarding my essence. Had I been a more attentive student I might have recognized the gift of the dragons far sooner. At her advice, I have made the journey to the Imperial Mountain to make the pilgrimage up the Spine of the Amaranthine Dragon…

The letter continues describing the conversation, subsequent journey, and various spiritual insights Akashan has had. Members of the conspiracy see the following:

I regret that this last month has primarily involved consolidation. I must thank my dear cousin Aisa for settling my worries. Now that I know what is going on I have been able to secure time for other projects. Even if the event was not holy, the increase in power it brings is significant. My peers on the leading council were glad to pick up some of my slack to ensure that I do not risk losing the enlightenment I am chasing with mundane distractions. I do not mean to make light of the experience, for it humbles and awes me every hour of every day.

Most of my time has been spent in meetings, mentoring some of the bright up-and-coming members of my house. Most of it was technical, providing assistance for some of the planned manse upgrades, their commissions or maintenance duties, and their research. Of particular interest was a thread of most impious… envy let us call it that ran through many of those conversations. There is an unvoiced belief, a true one I might add, that our creative magic is not the equal of our combative gifts. Much of this I attribute to a lack of interest. War brings glory and riches far faster and more broadly acknowledged than labor.

To be blunt, we are decaying. Our ability to service our existing stockpile of wonders is barely adequate and we consume them faster than we can produce replacements. If the trend continues the balance of power is going to shift against us, and we may find we are spending for more Exalted blood and mortal treasure to hold what we already if we are not thrown back across the Inner Sea entirely. Once we have the throne, we shall face an equally great task of holding it even without considering politics.

But all is not bad. I have begun working with the Folk of the Mountain on something which may prove decisive when battle comes. A method by which enlightened noncombatants can transfer the Dragon's Breath to those in the thick of the fighting. If my testing is successful, our warriors will be able to utilize their charms more frequently and freely than our opponents. This could do much to counter the numbers we will no-doubt lack.

A final note, but perhaps the most important, I believe I know how the Scarlet Stone could be made to work for us. Their commander would or could not divulge the nature of their oaths directly. At my request, I was invited to participate in a prayer ceremony to their craftsmen god. The room in which it took place contained a complex mechanism entirely covered in writing in the tongue of the Old Realm and another I recognize as native to the Folk. Prayerful acts involved chants, which I believe incode operating instructions, an labor with the device. The belief is that as god of machines, their "Maker" receives worship from machines being operated with votive toil. While I could only read half of the device and understood none of the chants, I was able to divine the operating principles. Through the use of my essence applied in precise ways I caused the central prayer-gear to turn so rapidly it produced a loud "Om" a sacred sound to the Folk as well as us. This was apparently a sign of excellent devotion and they were less, though not entirely non, hostile to my presence.

Later, the commander and I played a game of their homeland while I relayed the news, having just been there myself. It involves a number of tiles stamped with ideographic glyphs. The game is played by using the existing lines on the board to represent arguments, historical events, or other complex chains of ideas graphically. I noticed as we played that the Scarlet Stone's tile was placed in obligation to the tile of the Scarlet Throne, which was not the same as that of the absent (Her Most Highly Exalted Majesty) Scarlet Empress. I believe this means that they serve the possition of empress rather than the person of Her Most High Exalted Majesty. If we can convincingly place Aisa on the throne and declare her empress they should follow us against alternate contenders and their armies.

In Fire, Faith, and Blood,
Ledaal Catala Akashan Ledaal 

Added to the end of the letter itself
P.S. I see the Postal Carriers have acted with their usual alacrity. I arrived home to find I had beat my letters in transit.

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RY 767 Resplendent Water - Ferem Quelaana

Resplendent Water 4, RY 767

The following is a brochure about Quelaana's theatre playing in Amber River and where they'll be setting up

I greatly appreciate the concern my friends. I will admit things have been going faster than I'd hoped. Turns out when money is involved people get violent fast. In honesty, I would be more tolerant of slavery if it wasn't executed in such an appalling way up in the north. This is literally pseudo-lobotomizing your workforce with opium and whomever is left with a will is left to tear each other apart. These are not prisoner's of war or guild bought slaves but the very citizens of the satrapies that serve the realm. Surely you could drum up some sympathy as to why Revolts of this nature will continue until the system of this slavery is changed. I'd prefer it shattered to the ground instantly but if it needs to be slow so be it.

As for things other than abolitionism, any supplies or manpower would be greatly appreciated. Stopping trade with the realm is not what the ongoing slave rebellion is about. In fact, the sheer amount of drugs used to coax people isn't nearly as profitable as is claimed. Interesting as to the only ones making any real money off of this system is the Cynis even though they don't own any of the satrapies. 

Speech over,
"A very fancy signature of Quelaana Ferem is here"

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RY 767 Resplendent Water - Nellens Ryo

The Third Day of Resplendent Water, RY 767
Imperial City, Blessed Isle

Dear friends,

Since my last letter, I have taken up the responsibility of the Spiral Alumni Association chairman. After being harassed yet again for another donation, I decided to attend this month’s meeting. What I found was a bureaucratic nightmare. You would expect graduates of the Realm’s premier school on the Organizational Arts to be able to manage a simple social club.

Ryo goes on about the failings of the Alumni Association’s Executive committee. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following…

I don’t know how these things happen to me. I just attended one meeting and they put me in charge. Insane.

Aisa, yesterday I sent Zara off to you. I trust you to keep my daughter safe and out of trouble. I hear your grandmother is putting together a ball. All the eligible bachelors of good breeding are on the guest list, if my sources are correct. I believe the ball will be used as an opportunity for other political maneuvering besides marriage alliances. Cathak Cainan himself is rumored to attend. 

Quelana, fears of a possible slave revolve have reached the Imperial City. This may be why a Cynis Elder is being sent your way. I imagine house Cynis was trying to keep the situation quiet, but now the entire Imperial City is worried about their Northern exports. The popular notion is the Roseblack and her legions should put down any rebellion. Among the war hawks, Tepet Ejava needs to prove she has the jade fist to handle uppity slaves before she can even consider taking the throne. 

Carmela, I fear that you were the true target of the assassination attempt instead of the magister. A clumsy attempt to assassinate a Magister in front of his guards and troops seems doomed to fail. A clever attempt to discredit the Fire Aspect making best use of the Deliberative Funding Initiative seems more likely. Someone wants the Pahua Basin destabilized. I will send a letter to my wife to see if she knows of any happenings you and I are unaware of.

If someone wants the Pahua Basin destabilized, I fear my little speech at the Deliberative may have attracted attention. Shu and I came home to find our house ransacked. Yes, Aisa, I keep meaning on increasing the security of my house, but I keep putting it off. If you could talk to your elemental and see who broke into my house, I’d be grateful. 

As far as I can tell, nothing was taken (http://dice.brainclouds.net/Result.aspx?ID=DEWLMJX6). Fortunately, I don’t have any physical evidence of my Exaltation, though Titus jokes about gifting me an Orichalcum letter opener one day. These letters are kept in my office mixed in with the rest of my correspondence. It will take longer than a Dragonblooded lifetime to comprehend both my filing system and sort through the large quantity of mail I receive. 

I did managed to recruit my father-in-law, Ragara Amado, into assisting me with the Spiral Alumni Association (http://dice.brainclouds.net/Result.aspx?ID=WLDGEG2A). He was appalled at the state of the organization as I was. I imagine the situation stirred his pride as an instructor of the Spiral. 

Stay safe my friends. Trouble is brewing all around us. 

Ryo

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RY 767 Ascending Water - Carmela Contarini

Ascending Water 27, RY 767

My face! It's stolen my face! Is this my punishment from the Dragons?! You have to help me! I'm sending a number of copies of this letter so that even one might get to you…

What follows is a nigh-hysterical letter written in a trembling hand, addressed to a member of the Heptagram, a one Mnemon Aisa. It is long on speculation, short on detail and even shorter on actual knowledge, but the gist is some mishap of mistaken identity which Carmela is very sure is a Lunar Anathema infiltrator at work. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

Okay so! Hope that wasn't too bad of a slog to read through, 'coz someone really has stolen my face. In the sense of impersonating me very closely. Not in the sense that a fae has literally removed it. Here's the breakdown:

-Getting more troops for the Magisterial Legion
-While presenting the troops for a surprise inspection, one of them tried to stab my good friend the Magistrate with a poisoned blade. Obviously I jumped in and took the knife because that's how I do things.
-Cantigaster venom still hurts like hell. Definitely wasn't from the behemoth itself or I wouldn't be writing this letter, but it felt like second-generation. Eastern, rare, expensive, good at killing Dragons. Don't worry about me, I'm made of stronger stuff than that.
-Tracked down where it came from and who bought it. Turns out I did! Or someone making use of my contacts who has obtained an absolutely impeccable disguise of me.
-Found out who hired the assassin. Turns out I did! Or someone working in my name, anyway. Since I haven't been brutally murdered by a Lunar (that I know of), I'm pretty sure this is my sorcerer antagonist at work.

Now, when the Magistrate pursues his own investigations, he's going to find out that I bought the poison, and then made the arrangements to have him killed. It's flimsy, but it will be enough to separate him from his shield and get him brutally murdered and/or put under the sway of some patron of wealth and means who can protect him (who isn't me). This would actually be a pretty nasty trap!

It would be, you know, if I were just a simple Dragon instead of a member of a Realm-spanning conspiracy including some of the highest levers of power and multiple sorcerers. I'd like some advice on what's going on here and what I can do about it. I could have asked Aisa through Wind-Carried-Words, but I'd also like to see who, if anyone, tries to prevent or influence a reply to this letter. If it turns out that, I don't know, the Headmaster or Mnemon or that sultry professor down the hall suddenly has very strong ideas about Threshold Dragons and the tall tales they tell, things could get very interesting. A little trap. We've been sending these letters for a while, might as well start making real use of their special properties.

Quelaana, things seem to be heating up for you quite a bit, and damned if I don't feel like I should do something to help. Any particular need for jade, merchants or mercenaries? I'm not watched as closely as Aisa is, and my contacts can be discreet.

Cheers!
Carmela Contarini

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RY 767 Ascending Water - Mnemon Aisa

Ascending Water, 24, Realm year 767

Nellens Ryu,

My dear grandmother has been most kind this month, finally granting my longstanding request to choose a handmaiden for myself. I will be very pleased to welcome Ragara Zara when she arrives – it has become increasingly difficult of late to find enough time to keep up appearances while also teaching the students here and attending to other matters of importance. I trust she will not find me too burdensome a mistress, given the meager size of my wardrobe and…

(The letter goes on in some detail explaining Aisa's daily routine and what she expects from a handmaiden, and also how she plans to keep up Zara's education while she stays at the Heptagram. Ryu will find nothing to complain about. Aisa seems… well, excited. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following.)


Ledaal Catala Akashan, there is nothing to worry about with your taste of lightning, and, indeed, a great deal to be proud of. You feel the stirrings of the Dragon's Blessing preparing to emerge more fully. The Immaculate Texts have some excellent advice – I suggest the Book of Pasiap 4.35 for some exercises which will help ease the transition and strengthen your mastery. A more spiritual take is available in the Book of Hesiesh 2.14, where he meditates upon his visions, if you are interested in that aspect of the transition.

Cathak Titus, your apology is accepted. Thank you for trusting us, and I assure you that the chosen of the stars do exist. My best friend succumbed to despair after her own promised destiny was snatched away by time, and do not wish that upon anyone. She will never be Dragon Blooded but I wish you luck with your own exaltation if there is still hope.

Quelaana Ferem, I am most interested in any further news you may come across of house Cynis, and congratulations on your close escape! I am too closely watched at the moment or I would send you a squad of sorcerous bodyguards along with this letter. If you expect violence to continue escalating, please let me know and I will arrange something despite the difficulty.

-—————————-

This month has been rather more relaxed than the past one was, and a good thing too. I needed the breather. Next month promises to be frantic.

My main goal this month was to leverage the attention gained by Grandmother's visit last month into a real reputation for power. Ryu, I hope you will not mind that I have taken credit for killing that hunting bill you opposed. I too dislike glorying in violence, and it seemed a good occasion to demonstrate influence. Though it seemed to have no real opponents, an easy vote in the Deliberative, I made public my disapproval. That cousin of yours ignored my letter announcing that it would not pass and he should drop the issue. When he ignored me, and when your attempts to quietly strangle it in committee succeeded, he looked like a fool indeed. Smiling and deflecting questions as to how exactly a young Dragon's reach extends into the Imperial City and into the Deliberative has been a pleasant pastime.

Spreading my wings in such a way has not been perfectly smooth. One complication came in the form of a patrician family here on the Isle of Whispers. The docks they manage were heavily damaged by a winter storm, and now that the weather is improving, they called on me for a loan. I am unsure if this was a dynast testing me or if they truly thought I was their best option, but either way I could not refuse. What sort of dynastic power player does not have a spare talent laying around, after all?

I do not, of course. My stipend is barely adequate to maintain appearances. What to do? I said yes, of course, and loaned them the money I did not have. Thus ensued a brief game of financial chicanery, involving promises, a personal visit to the contractors to assure them that they could start work without payment up front, and a rapid exchange of Wind Carried Words with Carmila Contarini asking her to make good on my promise. The Jade arrived yesterday, by the way, and I am happy to say that the matter is successfully concluded. They have their loan, I have my reputation, and you have my sincerest gratitude.

The three pillars of dynastic power are political, economic and military. I have demonstrated two of these, and for now people are convinced. I have been invited to an extremely exclusive party, asked to join a sorcerous cabal, V'Neef regularly corresponds with me and at least two spies have been assigned to watch my movements. A success.

-—————————-

The other commotion this month was around the issue of a handmaiden. Having been back on the Blessed Isle for some seasons now, it is unusual that I have not had anyone to help take care of minor tasks. And it seemed, in conjunction with above events, that everyone on the Blessed Isle was suddenly in a rush to offer their daughter, younger sister, niece or ten year old maid-assassin for my service.

I wish I were joking about the last one. Peleps Tamara was quite scary. I beg you all to be careful of any dark-skinned green eyed waifs you may see.

Ultimately, the choices boiled down to three – Ragara Zara (a charming girl indeed), Mnemon Sara (offered by Grandmother) and V'Neef Senna (V'Neef by her father's marriage, not by blood). Choosing Senna would have pleased V'Neef greatly, but I had to beg off, claiming quite truthfully that it would upset Mnemon and I am not yet ready to break with her publicly. Mnemon Sara would have pleased Grandmother, but I simply cannot have a spy so close to me. I mollified my head of house with the promise that I would neither accept V'Neef Senna as a handmaiden nor would I consider any of that family for marriage. Both promises will be easy to keep – one was a convenient excuse to turn down Senna, the other a thing I was already planning on for other reasons.

Despite once again placed between elders tugging in opposite directions, I am pleased to have my own way without bowing to either. The choice of a handmaiden is a small thing, but a personal one, and I am grateful that Mnemon did not care enough to press the issue.

Yours in friendship and in service,

— Mnemon Aisa

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RY 767 Ascending Water - Ferem Quelaana

Ascending Water, 23, Realm year 767
Cherak, North


Oh I’ve had the craziest hunting trip this month friends.
The letter goes on to describe how Quelaana and her Uncle found a Lunar and had to run away for their lives. Members of the conspiracy see the following.

This has been a hell of a month for me, and I fear you might hear of my exploits before these letters in the upcoming months. I did in fact go on a hunting trip with my uncle Helkar looking for a rumored Snow lion; Turns out that was a lunar’s totem. I managed to save the Handsome Lunar by telling him where to hide with wind carried words. I met him at that hideout and he told me his name was Darkest Dawn.

My second task was learning more about this mystical Golden Paper crane. Naturally I ended up going to Peleps Hideki (the northern Magistrate spymaster) and surprisingly he had never seen anything like it before. Hideki ended up sending me to a Book collector. I’m honestly having trouble remembering much about it him even though he seemed to know something about the crane and even gave me a tip about the next upcoming assassination attempt on the Roseblack.

Through the noble efforts of our very own Titus I’ve found out who’s moved the Roseblack to the north. Apparently it was Cathak Cainan trying to split up the candidates and keep them busy to avoid the Civil war we all fear. Titus did say he wasn’t 100% sure it was all Cainan but he definitely was a big player in this. Titus, feel free to correct me on this as letters can only convey so much information.

With these two revelations I demanded an audience with Roseblack and things went well at the start. I don’t know what happened but when we planned to counter ambush the assassin he flat out wasn’t there. I don’t know if it was a bad tip, the assassin had spies, or some weird stealth magic got him out of there but it made me look stupid. I know he’s still out there and I’m worried my next warnings will be ignored.

I saved the biggest news for last; I sent Xiuhcoatl to spy on the Cynis to find any information I could about them. Xiuhcoatl is not nearly as good a spy as I thought apparently. I was sent his ear and managed to contact him with wind carried words. Xiuhcoatl lied about escaping and lured me to Amber River for an ambush. I took the bait for I needed his information either way. I ended up in a grueling fight with five dragon-blooded at once. The bastards were trying to wear me down with attrition tactics but they simply couldn’t track my weighted robes so I eventually defeated them. Out of essence and breath Xiuhcoatl was saved and told me how a Cynis elder was headed to Amber River. In an attempt to clean house they’re planning on murdering everyone with a hint of suspicion for working with the Bloody hand. The Rebellion may have to happen quicker than I was hoping.

With Regards, a very fancy Signature of “Ferem Quelaana” is written here

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RY 767 Ascending Water - Nellens Ryo

The Fifth Day of Ascending Water, RY 767

Imperial City, Blessed Isle

Dear Friends,

I have been fending off visits from the Spiral Alumni Society. Ascending Wood is the time of their yearly fundraising drive. The Society has been bugging every student who has ever graced Spiral’s halls. I have given them a donation, but that was not good enough. They want asked me to go door to door to harass other alumni. As if, I do not have enough to do.

Ryo goes through an exhaustive list of the complaints he has with the operations of the Spiral Alumni Society. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following letter: 

Titus, I have no idea what was going on. And I thought I had issues with my own Exaltation. My friend you have my sympathy and if you need anyone to vent to, you are always welcome. Yet, your position gives us opportunities that you have not realized. Yes, you will be able to spy on these “Exalted of Maidens” but you also have access to the gods of the Celestial Bureaucracy. Having godly allies will improve our chances of a peaceful transition.

Carmela, many Prefectures have fallen to the way side since the Scarlet Empress vanished. The situation grows dire each day as the Dynast Houses squabble over the Realm’s resources. It is why we need a strong new Empress to take control before there is nothing left of the Scarlet Empire.

Akashan, while I still hold out hope of a peaceful transition, I am glad you are taking the effort to recruit the Scarlet Stone to our cause. I also hope my assistance with your manse bill was useful. Unfortunately, a distant cousin of mine noticed my assistance. I was conned into assisting him with some despicable hunting bill. I think importing animals into the Realm just be killed by bored Dynasts is a waste of resources. I have been trying to slow down the progress of that bill while seeming helpful.

Quelaana, I am distressed, but not surprised, that the Guild has an interest in the Scarlet Throne. However, the Guild’s interest may be to our advantage, if they can be persuaded to support our candidate. We need to find out who the Guild is supporting and what this candidate is offering them.

Aisa, news of your Dance with the Mothers has reached the Imperial City. You may have more suitors and students in the future. I have already spoken with my father in law about offering Zara as a handmaiden. He seemed agreeable, especially since you and Zara already have a correspondence. I do wish to send Zara away from the Imperial City in case Shu and I’s situation deteriorates here.

Some unexpected events happened with dinner with my father-in-law, Ragara Adamo. He sent a messenger ahead to relocate our dinner to my home instead of his. My cook was a bit of a shock for having a Dragonblooded guest, but he managed to put out a respectable spread. Adamo’s offering to the meal was a fine bottle of Lookshian Sake. I never know how he manages to acquire such items, so I spent most of the meal trying to draw out his source. Adamo did not yield his source, but poured out a measure of sake for each of us.

Now, I have not had a drop of alcohol since I became Anathema. At first, I was afraid to lose control to the demon. Later, I realize Alcohol is a tool best used to lower the inhibitions of others. Now, one does not turn fine sake offered by your father-in-law. Over the years, I have learned to master such small manners. If I act as if what I did was perfectly normal, no one will notice the Faux-paus. I thanked Adamo for the cup and set it aside. Adamo drank from his cup and continued the conversation, as I did nothing out of the ordinary.

Zara and Shu were present for the conversation. In Nellens households, we do not shield our children from adult conversation. As we were talking, Shu picked up my cup and drank from it. She spit out the bitter drink, covering the table in spit and sake. I stared dumbstruck at my youngest daughter’s behavior.

Yet, Adamo simply wiped down his side of the table and continued the conversation, as he did before. I made some passing comment about youth and spent the rest of the evening considering the implications of Shu’s actions. The Immaculate Texts say children of Anathema may gain a measure of their power. This thought preyed on my mind all during Saveria’s pregnancy. What was I to say to my wife in such a situation? “Sorry dear, maybe we should consider an extra dose of maiden’s tea instead of having a baby?” Coward I am, I said nothing and hoped this curse would pass Shu by.

After Adamo left, Zara came to me and confessed everything. Both she and Shu were aware I was a Solar. How Zara has been covering for Shu’s behavior. How they have been using Shu’s abilities to make things easier for both of them. Shu spent the entire conversation staring down at her feet. I explained to both my daughters how dangerous this situation was. This Anathema power was not a toy to be played with. I forbid Shu from using her abilities and sent them both to bed. I spent a sleepless night questioning the entirety of my life decisions. I woke up in the morning in a better frame of mind. Though she is only six, Shu is a smart child. She will not endanger her own life.

There is an ink blob here.

I need to learn not to tempt fate. The monk at Shu’s school just arrived at my door, dragging Shu in by her arm. Apparently, she usually spends her lessons on the Immaculate Texts questioning the monk. After a long painful conversation, I sent the monk on her way, with assurances I will talk to Shu.

And talk we did. Shu had been using her abilities to get away with questioning the monk about a great many things. I’m ashamed to say I raised my voice. I tried to impress upon her that there was some wisdom in the Immaculate Text. Shu declared, “I don’t believe in any book that says my papa is a demon.” She stared back at me with a wisdom beyond her six years. “You aren’t a demon, papa. Don’t let them tell you that.”

Shu and I came to a compromise. She will not argue with the monks anymore and play along as a good Immaculate girl. I tried to get her to agree to only use her abilities after I have given her permission. Shu countered with “What if I am in trouble with the monks at school? Then they will come talk to you. You don’t want to talk to monks, right papa?” We are still discussing this arrangement.

And I am not allowed to think I am a demon anymore. I thought I was long past that point, but sometimes it takes a six-year-old girl to uncover the lies you tell yourself.

May your cares grow lighter,

Nellens Ryo
 

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RY 767 Descending Air - Carmela Contarini

Friendos,

So I heard a rumor about some sort of new Realmster project called a Bear Cavalry. As far as I can tell there's literally no reason for it to be a thing (this lot don't really… do cavalry much?) but for some reason the idea of it won't die.

This calls for INVESTIGATIONS. Here's what I know so far…

The rest of the letter exhaustively details the rumored attributes and exploits of said Bear Cavalry. Many of said attributes and exploits are incredibly spurious when they are not outright contradictory; special request is made of the Cheraki addressee on the possibility of meeting this Bear Cavalry with some sort of Penguin Infantry. Members of the Scarlet Sky Conspiracy will see the following:

Well! You lot have sure been busy. Chosen of the Maidens and meetings with heads of houses and freeing slaves and poking at the Imperial Manse and bears oh my!

I spent a lot of time drinking.

Well. That's only half true.

I also grabbed an adorable young dragon and rode him until his legs gave out?

I can hear the sounds of not being impressed. Okay. Fine. If you want to get technical I bought a mercenary company that was a half-step away from outright banditry, found an able lieutenant who literally everyone in the Realm has passed over as not worth the trouble (who was also a half-step away from outright banditry. Let me tell you, the Deliberative would start paying a shit ton more attention to my little corner of the Isle if old legionary veterans started becoming highwaymen to survive). Oh, gained the favor of the magistrate from the prior letter, and the animosity of his nephew (aforementioned adorable young dragon) who apparently wants to be the favorite instead of me. Silly boy thinks it's a competition. I'm going to enjoy breaking him in.

Still, we're approaching a clutch of dragons here together the with core of what might be a legion, given time and money. Does "Legion Magisterial" have a nice ring to it, or does that sound too ominous? I forget what the naming scheme of actual legions is.

Still, whether the force ends up being needed to defend the Imperial Manse or to just parade about and look pretty, rest assured I'll be ready. (Hopefully it's the former; it would take a lot to get my new lieutenant, the venerable Peleps Lili, to look pretty.)

There's a lot to digest in your letters, so I'll probably wind up giving someone the business for keeping secrets from their wife, or not mentioning an entire class of Exalted that can ruin all our plans and probably want to, or for having made friends with underground-people and not even mentioning what they drink, but that'll have to wait. Geno Jin is starting to wake up and I'm going to go for another round just to make sure he understands who's boss.

It's me. I'm boss. Damn I feel good.

Have fun!
Carmela Contarini

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RY 767 - Descending Air - Cathak Titus

Descending Air 22, RY 767

House of Bells, Blessed Isle

All,

This letter apologizes for overloading your with information about Gateway. Of course, as novice, you will grow bored with Titus's letters. Titus begins to explain some basics in Gateway, so you will know what he is talking about next time. Members of the Conspiracy will see the following letter instead:

I should apologize for my last letter. I was an ass and I have no excuse for my actions. I apologize directly to you, Aisa. I meant to jog you to action and went too far. I hope the book will make up for my harsh words. I spent the past few weeks search Creation for a new copy. I found it in a little book store tucked in a corner of Sijan. 

Now, I will explain how I was able to buy a book in Sijan and still make it back to the House of Bells by the afternoon. Aisa thinly veiled accusations of my status as an Exalt are premature. I am still mortal… for now. As there are Exalts of the Sun and Moon, there are Exalts of the Maidens. And I am destined to become one of them.

Despite my great grandfather being Cathak Cainan, I was never expected to become Dragonblooded. My father was a Lost Egg and my mother mortal. To be honest, I was relieved to not have to carry the burden of Dragonblooded. I did not what the fate of Creation in my hands. My family sent me to the Spiral and there I studied Law. I joined the legions not as a soldier but as a Judicial Advocate. Though in my time in the Legions, I find little Justice to be had. Those with power and money get away with murder. Good honest officers are discharged for misfiled paperwork. After the Scarlet Empress disappeared, corruption increased. The antics of Whispering Twilight and his friend are mild compared to what I have seen.

Ryo, you have often asked where I was for the two years I disappeared. I never answered your questions because I did not want to lie to you. Yet, I have discovered that evasion is another form of lie. I did not mean to abuse your trust.

One night, not long after the Empress disappeared, I was in my office studying my caseload for the next day. A mysterious man entered my office. Now, I knew this man. Though I had no clue what his name was, he would often drop by to check up on me as I was growing. I assumed he was a relative of my father. Or worse, a figment of my imagination as no one else I knew ever saw him. The man, who I will refer to as my mentor, would ask how I was doing and how my studies were going. 

And he always brought food. My mentor is obsessed with food or rather with the cooking of food. He would come with a large basket. In the basket, you could find anything from simple rice balls to exotic delicacies I had never heard of. Most of our conversations revolved around food. Rather, he talked and I ate. His obsession lent credence to the idea he was a relative. Relatives feed you. As I grew older, I realized he was lonely. No one would eat his food, which was a crime. My mentor is the best cook I know. It was not until later I realized why no one would trust his food.

That night my mentor sat down and explained his interest in me. I was fated to be Chosen by Saturn. As another Chosen of Endings, he was assigned to watch over me and prepare me for my Exaltation. The original plan was to leave me in my Dynast life for a few more years, but now I was to be taken to Yu-Shan for further training. The disappearance of the Scarlet Empress had spooked our associates. They needed all the help they can get, even from mortals like me. 

Yu-Shan. Who can describe the City of Gods? I remember my first moments in Yu-Shan. It was midnight when we left, yet in Yu-Shan it was high noon. As a Dynast, I lived in the lap of luxury. Yu-Shan made the Imperial City look like a shanty town. Tall buildings of glass and orichalcum gleamed in the light of the Unconquered Sun. We walked through the market and my neck ached from all the exotic products. It was overwhelming.

After the urban heights of downtown Yu-Shan, my mentor’s manse was like a jungle. Behind the high walls was a lush garden. My mentor warned me not to touch any of the plants. He led me to what he called a “cottage”. This cottage was the largest and most lavish building I have ever seen. It rivaled the Cathak house. He fed me, gave me tea, and sent me to bed as if I was a child. I did not expect to sleep, but the tea sent me to a dreamless sleep. 

That first meal was the last time I trustingly shared food with my mentor. For I soon discovered he was an expert poisoner. Though he did keep a separate kitchen garden, the plants in the main garden were deadly. Though he offered many times, I resisted learning the secrets of his trade. He would take my refusal with a smile. “Perhaps next time.” 

I spent the next two years learning the secrets of the Bureau of Destiny. As I learned more, I began to believe I was more suited for a Chosen of Mars, instead of Saturn. I keep such thoughts to myself. Once they thought I was ready, they let me return to my normal life. I was expected to accompany my mentor on his missions. I have grown to dread his arrival. Afterwards I return to the Legions as nothing happened. 

Perhaps I am mad and there is no hidden Exalts of the Maidens. Yet it is a relief to discuss my double life. As destiny is in flux after the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress, it is unknown when I will exalt. Which brings me to the reason why I joined this conspiracy. Creation is going to change and I am not going to sit idle and wait for Saturn to get off her ass and Exalt me. I need to do something now. I could throw my lot with one of the various political groups among my associates, but like my mentor, I do not trust them. I rather put my trust in the members of this Conspiracy. I believe in not Solars or Dragonblooded but in individuals.

As for what I can bring to the conspiracy, despite my status as a mortal, I can send you information about my associates. They will be our biggest obstacle to a Solar Friendly Empress. They are the power behind the Immaculate Order and the Wyld Hunt. I have also done what I could to hide this conspiracy from their prying eyes. 

I also can move around Creation easily. There are Yu-Shan gates all over Creation. For me, the Imperial City is a boat ride away from the House of Bells. I do not like to use this form of transportation often. Such quick travel attracts the wrong type of attention. 

I hope this letter gets to you in one piece. Information about my associates can become garbled. 

Titus

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