Exalted Terrestrials: The Jade Cauldron

Matani's Diary (Session 2)
Apparently Tes though it would be a great idea to introduce himself to the people on our floor after we where shown to the “dorms.” Literally everyone here has committed some sort heinous act, so I feel like maybe a little wariness might have been warranted… and yes, I know that this might be a little hypocritical given that I am included in this group. Regardless, I made sure to keep an eye on the boy since somebody has to if he is going to put himself out there like that, and at least I got a chance to size up our floormates.
Ledaal Giselo: Apparently the youngest cousin of a Dynast family. Has “MATRICIDE” on a plaque on his door, which is off putting but I’m right next door with “PATRICIDE” and “DIECIDE.” He seems kindly, literally handing Tes some baked goods and giving a warning about the two cousins in his teams. I think he might be that teams “Tes.”
#10 Crow: This kids is a bit creepy and I can’t get a bead on them. Like, crazy person voice, darting eyes but odd fluid movements, and super earnest. Seems to like Tes and the feeling is reciprocated… which means I have to keep an eye on the situation. Wild card. The plaque on the door reads “PRISON ESCAPE, MURDER,” so there is definitely some messed up story behind the weirdness.
Wanasaan Basimo: He’d be kinda cute if he wasn’t so brooding and stand-offish. His plaque reads “FORBIDDEN SORCERY,” so there is power there of some sort. Definitely going to keep an eye on him but my instincts tell me he is less of a threat than first glances might imply.
Heady Monsoon: Okay, so this girl is hot but gives off real mean bitch energy, which is concerning considering her door plaque is basically a list: INSURRECTION, HERESY, MURDER, BANDITRY, ETC. There is definitely something going on with Reno when he’s around her, which is odd given that she obviously doesn’t recognize him. I’m willing to bet she is the leader of her group, so I think it will be in my best interest to maintain friendly or at least positive relations with her. But I don’t think I could trust her, at least for now.
I think Reno might have gone to the base floor and harassed the staff… not sure if that is a great idea. Starting to get the sense that he’s lived a sheltered and privileged life, even by my standards. I’m worried that this whole deal is going to be hard on him. I’m also wondering how Tes ended up so different given they are from the same family? Is it just that his head always seems in the clouds?
Mr. Vanilethkin took us to eat after we were done at the dorms and I am a little surprised how good hell piggy can taste. More importantly, we each met with the dean… which I am a little conflicted about. He told me that the purpose of this place is to given everyone a second chance but that can’t be the only thing going on. Why would this place need to be so elaborate and obviously hidden? And it obviously isn’t Dynastic or Prasadi cause there are all kinds of people here. Something else is going on but I have no clue right now. And he offered me pretty much exactly what I wanted, even said I could return home as an ambassador for some dynastic house. It all seems to perfect to trust. Not that I have much of an option right now, so I guess well have to wait and see.
Post-Entry Exam Review
Matani's Diary (Session 1)
When that mysterious Southerner offered me a “second chance,” this was not what I expected. I know about the the House of the Ancient Stone and Palace of the Tamed Storm. They are intense military academies and they’re supposed to be harsh. They are rigid and demanding institutions, more like prisons than schools. They’re supposed to break you and mold you into a soldier or whatever else the Scarlet Dynasty needs. They want to take lost dragons and reform them. Whatever this place is doing is different.
The “entrance exam,” as Mr. Vanilethkin called it, was more than a simple test because failure meant death. Reno might have been cavalier about the whole thing, and not without reason as we handily slaughtered the two mutated hell boars even with that odd sorcery impeding our hearing, but individually we would have had a tough time. Tes would have been killed in the act of casting. Reno would likely have been taken out by each beasts’ horrendous mutations, and I would have likely run out of steam before I did enough damage to finish the kills. We passed the test because we were able to plan based on Mr. Vanilethkin’s information and cooperated in the moment without speech. Those advantages let me cover for Reno and Tes while they summoned and, once they finished, it was five verse two. The little hell piggies didn’t stand a chance after that.
So what exactly was this test? I have a theory and I want to be sure to record it: They were testing how we would operate as a team. A military school might try and get their students into the team mindset by breaking down their individuality and rebelliousness, turning them into obedient soldiers and citizens. Here they skipped the indoctrination, at least for now, and simply threw us into the crucible to see if we’d adapt.
The question now is for what purpose are they doing all this? Whatever it is, if I can see mother again, it will have been worth it.

Hell Boar

Burning Steam Rises
Akatha Matani's Backstory
Akatha Matani, like many scions of high clan families, was sent to live with unexalted layperson relatives. The duties of her priestess mother, to say nothing of her divine father, were too important, she would be told, to be interrupted with childcare. While that notion stung, she still loved her adopted family and the soreness faded somewhat with time. Still, when she was old enough, she was allowed to visit her parents at her father’s temple-manse. She almost wishes she never received the privilege.
Matani’s father was an odd being. Few elementals are especially venerated in the Spirit Court of the Crimson-Tailed Banner, but Industrious Viper of Bursting Bellows’s metaphysical composition made him stand out from other spirits of his rank. He took the form of a large snake composed of hot pressurized steam, seeming somehow to embody elements of air, fire, and water simultaneously, and his temple-manse was a mechanical First Age wonder. These miracles alone would have a drawn a minor cult and worship but Immaculate Viper also drew veneration and followers by teaching a unique Terrestrial martial art, the Winding Pipes Style.
Gorged on the prayers and offering of his followers, Industrious Viper grew fat, privileged, and demanding. He could be cruel, especially to his priestess, Matani’s mother, as the Akatha youth learned when first visiting the temple. Still, Matani made sure to visit as often as possible in order to be closer to her mother. She also trained hard in the sword arts, not uncommon for an Akatha youth’s training, as she never wanted to be defenseless as her mother was in service to her father. And she did well, particularly as she was taller and stronger than other girls her age. Matani wanted to fight back and maybe even protect others who were being preyed upon. Even if she couldn’t protect her mother, as raising a hand against a god would be heresy for someone of her clan and jati, Matani trained as if that was her goal. Perhaps that was a mistake.
Matani doesn’t remember much of the last day of her former life. She was coming unscheduled to the temple to tell her mother something important. Entering the sanctum, she saw Industrious Viper coiled tightly around her mother, her face choked purple, her clothes torn, and skin burned raw by steam. She remembers feeling a burst of hot rage, then cold determination. Remembers a ritual sword and the feeling of her hands burning as steam made the the metal glow red. An empty temple, a ruined blade, and her mother limp on the floor.
She came to in a cell with artifact manacles clamped to her wrists. A Clan Burano interrogator asking her how could she commit such a heinous act. Patricide. Deicide. Premeditated obviously, given the artifact ring she wore would prevent Immaculate Viper from reforming. True death. He didn’t think a Akatha could even imagine committing such a crime. Nor did Matani till now, realizing her grandmother must have given her the ring for a reason.
He would not tell her about her mother and, while understanding of her rage over her father’s cruelty, did not forgive her transgression. Neither did the court and the only reason she was spared execution was her new Exaltation. She was now a peer of the gods by Prasadi law, not a lesser mortal subject, so instead of death she was sentenced to exile.
Still in manacles, she was placed on a ship to be taken across the perilous Dreaming Sea. There, an older man from the South came to her with an offer. He spoke kindly but with a firm tone, saying she could have second chance if she came with him. If she let his people train her. They specialized in second chances for youth like her. It would be hard and it would be dangerous. She might even die. But she could have something like her old life back. Perhaps she could even find out what happened to her mother.
Matani didn’t take long to accept.

Matani Parrying


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