Friday, March 24, 2017

Thrice Damned ep01 : Houses of the Blooded

Thrice Damned

Episode One
"Swimming Requires Stamina"

Houses of the Blooded

Notably also the first game session in the new Sietch, Rocky, Carlo and Flip are the players of this new tragic affair.  This was an opportunity to introduce them both to the wonderful tragic world of the Ven and the dangerous stories that are told only in Shanri.

The characters in the game are the following:

Ithili Thali ("Graceful at flight" "Face Many Odds")  Falcon
Strength 3,  Cunning W, Courage 5, Beauty 3, Wisdom 2, Prowess 2
Aspects: I know someone,  The Woods are my Home
Artifacts:  The Sky's Eye (A necklace with Farsight and Whispers)
Devotions:  Manna Rennay 2 (Circle of Protection, Hearthward)  Tyan Bran 1 (Wisdom's Clarity)
Played by Flip

Torr Tamel ("Iron does not bend" "Strength in Candor")  Fox
Strength 2, Cunning 4, Courage 2, Beauty 4, Wisdom 3, Prowess W
Aspects: Well Known, Read About That
Devotions: Talia Yvarai 2 (Goodnight Kiss, Befuddling Kiss), Talten Steele 1 (Never Again)
Played by Rocky

Lucane Adrente ("Gallant" "My Weapon is Myself") Wolf
Strength W, Cunning 4, Courage 3, Beauty 2, Wisdom 2, Prowess 4
Aspects: You know my Father, Old Sword
Artifacts:  Bloodsword 2 (Sharp and Vampire)
Devotions: Falvyn Dyr 2 (I am the Weapon, Tool or Weapon), Manna Rennay 1 (Circle of Protection)
Played by Carlo

Opening Scene: An Opera
On the stage, the man named Bjornae, the Wise Man, is the soldier thrown in circumstances beyond his control. A desperate Count, turns to the soldier, and shows him the coming armies.  He asks what they should do.  The soldier mutters the only thing he could think of, "Swimming requires stamina." The Count stands transfixed as Bjornae's true wisdom inspires him. Bjornae is thanked by the Count for his advice and hurries to the fight.  Bjornae stares at the audience, uncertain what had just happened.

All player characters gain the Aspect: Swimming Requires Stamina

A break in the silence as someone begins to applaud quite loudly.  Across the darkness, the ven look around to find the offending person. Torr Tamel turns to her father, Drial Tamel, and the two whisper about how in an Opera applause only happens at the end. Torr is bothered how the story is the kind of stories one gets when the Wolves attempt to write an Opera, worse to set a war story at Spring, a time of Romance. Drial however reminds her it is still based on one of the Seven Fools which makes it a true Opera.  The actor begins to move like a fish, however, in a terribly acted way.  In the audience, Lucane Adrente and his wife, Isabel ("Quick on her feet") whispers to each other about the fact she is not yet blooded, making her not permitted to be among the audience.  She is disguised as one of Lucane's personal guard to accompany him.  She admits she is having fun, but knows she enjoyed the Theater more. Isabel doesn't like how the actors keep singing, and worse they don't really sing that well. Lucane explains it is an acquired taste, and once one gets Blooded, one gets more accustomed to it.  She admits she finds it odd and that it feels... wrong. She points out, however, that Lucane's mother, the Marquess Victoria Adrente, is enjoying it.  The mother makes eye contact with Lucane and from the very glance, Lucane realizes she knows he brought Isabel with him.  She warns him he can be killed for bringing Isabel, but thankfully she has no plans of telling his father, and better, no one else has noticed her so far in the Opera House. Ithili Thali is still applauding very loudly when an older woman touches her shoulder and recommends she sit down and be quiet. Ithili defends herself, claims that she's just showing her appreciation, "..of the play." And the woman snaps back, "It is NOT a play." Ithili nods and quietly sits down.  "Only theater shows plays," the woman explains.  When Ithili admits she does not know the difference, the woman introduces herself as Fani Steele and explains she is here alone as her husband was just murdered.  She is wearing black to explain she is here in mourning. Ithili notices the thin but vibrant red ribbon around the woman's throat like a choker. Ithili remembers from her mother how details and colors matter, and to see her wearing red can mean she's seeking Revenge.  When Ithili asks about it, Fani folds the black cloth over the ribbon as she returns  the question, "What red ribbon?" as if it was never there.

Torr and Drial continue to talk about the Opera, sharing how a young ven named Iger Tamel wrote it. The Baron of Volcheck pushed through with it despite the original lead losing his head.  Lucane feels Isabel nudge him as she whispers, "There's someone watching us." Lucane glances back at the man and recognizes him from a former battle. He realizes the man is Gryndil Thorne and they had not seen each other since that fight. Lucane had slept with the man's wife in the past and he thinks of himself as Lucane's "rival."  Isabel wonders if she should leave, but Lucane insists it might be better to stay put rather than grab attention. Lucane looks up and sees even his mother has noticed Gryndil. Lucane weighs on whether or not leaving the Opera would be taken as a bad thing - but given the Opera is a terrible one.  Lucane takes Isabel's arm and whispers, "Let's go."  The moment they stand up, everyone in the Opera House turns to look at them for a second that stretches for so long.  Gryndil stares at Lucane, but Lucane ignores Gryndil and they begin to walk out of the Opera House.  Ithili sees Lucane leaving and sees the fight still happening on the stage.  The Fish is still swimming.  Ithili stands up, waves at Lucane who doesn't notice, and people begin to murmur as Ithili begins to walk.  Torr and Drial see the second figure stand and nod, "I guess the public has spoken.  Shall we?"  Torr grins, "We can go now."  More and more people begin to stand up and leave.

The Marquess Victoria Adrente smiles, proud of her son as being such a vocal voice, and wakes her husband, Falk Reinhold.  She tells him it is time to go, and when asked, admits the Opera was terrible.

Lucane and Isabel are moving down the hallway, leaving, when a blur of motion closes in on Lucane. Isabel spins, grabbing hold of the blur to hold it at bay only to have Ithili identify herself. Lucane recognizes her and the two exchange pleasantries. Ithili admits the Opera was very good and how much she loves the line. Isabel snorts in response, but turns away to hide her face. "It speaks so much about battle," Ithili grins.  Lucane asks if Ithili is staying for the Party or if she is heading home. Ithili admits she is going. Lucane's personal guard suddenly turns to ask if they are staying because they left their kids... or rather.. they left the wife and the kids. Lucane admits they should at least show their appreciation.  Ithili seems shocked that a Vassal was invited to the Opera.  "Indeed," Isabel gasps, "I... was not," and she quickly exits to head for the carriage.  Ithili wonders if she should hire her own Personal Guard in time.  Around them, a relatively constant flow of ven leaving moves past them. Ithili wonders if the Opera is done and if they should head back to catch it.  When Lucane explains they are leaving because it is how they show their distate for it, Ithili finds it a shock and hurries back inside.
Ithili, however, catches sight of Torr and Driel on their exit. Driel asks if Torr has petitioned for Sorio's Blooding, given right now he is titleless. Torr isn't sure if she wants to drag Sorio into this complicated life.  "But he's quite charming being not ven," Torr sighs. She knows she can petition for their children when their times comes, but having them both as ven would be far better.  Ithili greets Torr as she approaches.  Torr greets back but asks for Ithili to explain who she is. Ithili explains they met at the Marketplace. Driel coughs and makes his exit. Torr claims she doesn't go to Marketplaces and that Ithili must be mistaken. Ithili wonders if she got the wrong person.  Torr turns away and leaves, claiming to have no idea who that was.   Torr yells, "I will not be ignored!" Driel drops his handkerchief.  Torr bends over, picks it up, and that's when Driel turns to notice her, "Oh. Thank you for picking it up." The two now walk away together.

An ear-splitting shriek erupts as Ithili shoves the doors open to go back inside. Everyone freezes to the sound of the shriek.  On the stage, the actor holds the wooden sword.  But there is a woman in black standing behind him, with a knife in her hand pressed against his throat. A crimson arc sprays outwards.  Ithili runs for the stage.  The actor's body collapses to the ground.  The woman in black holds her blade skyward.  Everyone else begins to applaud.  The applause grows louder and louder.  Even those who were about to leave halt, turn, and clap.  Ithili can hear the people gasping at how real the blood looks, how dramatic the flow sprays.  The woman screams, "For Ikhalu!" and plunges the blade into her own chest.  The audience breaks into a roaring cheer as they rise from the seats. Ithili beguns to push past the applauding people, shoving between them and forcing her way towards the stage. She reaches the foot of the stage and sees the woman she recognized to be Fani Steele now on her knees, with the hideous blade still in embedded in the woman's chest throbbing to her weakening heartbeat. Ithili hoists herself up and the audience now watches as she drops to her knees in front of Fani and asks why she had did what she did.  Fani's eyes slowly open, and now Ithili realize it is not Fani! It only resembled her.  "What are you doing? Get off the stage!" the woman hisses at Ithili.   Ithili shoots a glance back at her original seat and finds Fani Steele actually there, pulling her veil back over her head after a short show of applause.  "Get off the stage, you oaf! You are ruining the Opera!" the woman in black hisses at Ithili.   Ithili realizes she's made a huge mistake and tries to act as if she was part of the story.  She overly-shows motions suggesting she's grieving as well as she tries to inch his way back down the stage.  

The curtains descend.

Act Two: The Party
Sorio ("The warrior brings peace") is at the gates of the castle.  He asks if Torr is planning to stay overnight and admits he hates how when Torr stays with her father, she comes back vicious and more a Wolf than a Fox. Torr warns him of insulting her.  Sorio is taking Samuel and Samantha with him to explore the regions of their Province.  Torr isn't certain however it is safe to bring the children around. Sorio admits finding a Ruin might be fun, but Torr admits they're always fraught with danger... and then one has to throw a Party, because "you can't have a proper ruin without a Party.  Hence, hopefully we don't find one until next year."   A voice announces herself to be "passing through," and the two see a carriage escorted by a female cadre of Personal Guard.  They announce themselves to be the company of Lady No, Countess of Ival, Blooded of the Elk.  All the Vassals are dressed in black, which suggests her fourth husband must have found an unfortunate demise once more.  

Lady No
(Bernadette Peters)
Isabel and Lucane talk about the same thing and Isabel wonders if they are doing this for the Resources. Lucane insists this is a trade despite having enough food for everyone and reminds her to trust in his decision.  Isabel admits her mind sometimes thinking too fast.  She asks him not to flirt with anyone there, and even teases how he might end up becoming the Lady No's fifth husband.  Lucane tells her he will be home tonight as he has no plans of staying too late.  "It's a beautiful Spring, so I hope things go well," Isabel smiles, "We met on a Spring."  She admits she wasn't supposed to be peeking at that chamber while the ven was having a celebration, but he saw her and she had to pretend she was just a servant in the house. Lucane remembers that story and adds how she then bumped into him later that same evening and he saved her from her mother... claimed he saw her as a possible Vassal.  She admits she still finds it strange some times how the ven handle things.  Lucane reminds her in just a few more seasons, she will be one of them.  They kiss.  As Isabel leaves, he hears a man applauding.   He turns and finds Gryndil amused to see Lucane in an affair with his "Swordswoman" and how the courts would be delighted to hear such gossip, if he were ever to spread such stories.  Lucane wonders how he managed getting invited and asks what he wants. Gryndil admits he still has the scar from that encounter.  He claims he has one too. Gryndil teases that maybe he won't be alone - and he throws Isabel a glance. Lucane holds back from the urge to punch the man... but then realizes Gryndil thinks the woman is just a bodyguard... a fling... and not his wife.  Lucane asks Gryndil to walk with him and when that frazzles him, Gryndil hurries off alone. Lucane then heads to the castle.

Gryndil approaches Isabel, asking her to accompany him to a secluded location- claiming Lucane asked him to deliver her.  At first she rebuffs his invitation, but then Gryndil claims that Lucane may be in danger and that her presence can ensure her safety.  Isabel chooses to go with him, and they talk about their family with Gryndil admitting he's surprised Lucane chose someone else given he's terribly smitten by her. Isabel smiles.

Back at the Opera House, a thin and sickly man emerges and confronts Ithili, calling her the woman who interrupted his Opera. He identifies himself as Iger Tamil, Baron of Volcheck. Ithili tries to explain the play was great, but Iger complains she had stood minutes before the finale, then returned to interrupt such a dramatic moment.  When Iger realizes Ithili truly does not realize what she had done, given she had interrupted the mundanity and boredom swirling on stage until that right moment would come when murder shatters their expectation and the act of failure reveals his genius.  He hates how they missed the best part.  The wife, Belladonna Tamel,  Belladonna then explains they were trying to reach this level called "Irony."

When Belladonna learns it was Ithili who applauded, she asks him to come with her to share their news to her husband. Belladonna explains that he isn't some spy sent by older Foxes who think they now better.  Belladonna admits not having children as the Suaven have not blessed the with any.

Torr finds Lady No coming up to her, greeting her as she arrives.  She admits it is so good to see him. She asks what tragedy struck and Lady No claims Marcello is dead, after getting poisoned then slitting his own throat with his own sword.  She claims it was such a "terrible accident," and Torr embraces the opportunity and proudly declares to everyone that she is giving her an embrace.  No asks Torr if she knows anyone single, as a Lady cannot be alone at such terrible times.  "I don't understand why they all keep dying... all these terrible accidents... and they keep leaving me these Provinces to run," Lady No gasps.  Torr consoles her and asks her to ride with her and the two poetically share how much the need each other, but the moment the door closes in the carriage, the two talk business about looking for a new husband.  No believes he has to be better than the first four. Torr admits she has "no doubt" that Lady No had no direct hand in their deaths.  Lady No admits her first three husbands were stolen from marriages given their wives had all mysteriously died.  The fourth husband was unmarried but in the end... that accident.   Torr muses how the slitting of the throat was a bit too much given he already drank poison.  Lady No feels like she should aim higher.  Torr wonders if she should be matched with a Marquis or an Earl.  Lady No admits there is an unmarried Wolf, an Adrente, worth looking into.  The Wolf in question, it turns out, is Lucane Adrente.  Lady No asks to be introduced to him. In return, Torr asks for the man she fancies to have her support to have him Blooded.

Lady No is excited at the thought that Torr is in love "with the help." Given the suggestion that he needs to be Blooded, Torr asks if Lady No can give a friendly word at the next Senate.  Lady No agrees.

"Wine?  You know it is only poisoned for the men," Lady No smiles.  Both wait for the other to drink first.

At the Party, Lucane is enjoying the good food. It is better than the usual though nothing too fancy.  He tries to find the host to quickly resolve his visit and return to his wife.  But the host seems preoccupied however.  A man comes up to him, having noticed him walking around, and Lucane recognizes the Count before him. The Count recognizes Lucane as the Baron of the Dark Tower. Lucane admits he has not been introduced which the Count claims makes this an interesting encounter. He proposes a small game for Lucane to try to guess his name in three chances, and if he fails, he shall owe him a small token. And if he succeeds, the Count shall owe him a small token. The Count admits it is not often he finds someone who does not recognize him.  The rules: He cannot ask anyone the name, and he must learn it within the hour.  They agree to their game.  

They walk as they talk about having ties with Provinces near the area, which the Count admits he did not realize the Dark Tower was close to the Province of Volcheck. Another person, a woman, comes up and greets the Count, asking for permission to kiss his hand. She reaches out and he holds his hand out to let her kiss it.  The woman stresses how the man was honest, loyal and always true.  The Count ask if the Veth are still bothering her, and she admits they have gone silent. Their revolts have gone quelled following his suggestions to have five beheadings in one day.  The woman bows and as she leaves, Lucane watches the woman and realizes she is one of the Blooded as well. He thinks of the story he has heard of about the Count and wonders if he would have heard of a similar story from his father.   Lucane remembers of the story of a Province in revolt and the beheadings, with five of the revolt leaders being beheaded in a single day. The sixth leader, who claimed the revolts would continue was then invited to the castle, given a hearty feast, then told the food he ate was made using the bodies of the five others.  The Count then calmly shared he was ready to hear the revolt leader's apology.

Zsanos Yvarai, Count of Kether
(Malcolm McDowell)
"Count Kether, Zsanos Yvarai, Beloved of the Fox. The most ruthless bastard on Shanri," Lucane remembers his father stating, "That is how you deal with the help."  Thankfully, Kether is in good terms with Lucane's father. Count Kether is impressed at Lucane uncovering his name so quickly and promises him a favor he can call upon when desired. They talk pleasantries and Lucane does mention his parents are in the Party.  Kether finds it bad form for Iger Tamel and Beladonna Tamel to have not announced the Marquis and his wife's presence in the city.  The Tamels believe the Foxes need a revolution from within.  Kether is merely amused. He likes seeing change and sees beauty in chaos.  Lucane asks if Kether is with his wife, and catches the Count's expression change. He admits he has never married. Lucane admits he looks like a very busy man, which would explain why he wouldn't have time for Romance or Marriage. Kether admits he does not think he would ever be ready, not after... "Lady No?" he mutters as he sees a group of women in black and a single woman dressed lavender.  Kether seems surprised to see the Lady No present and mutters they have some form of special relationship. Kether asks Lucane to walk with him towards the women.

Ithili is waiting at a table.  A woman sits at the table with a guy, and the two seem to be anxious to know why they are here. The woman seems concerned to be seated near the table of the host. The guy tells her to wait, and heads off.  When the woman and Ithili meet gazes, Ithili realizes the woman is the Swords woman or Personal Guard of Lucane.  Ithili comes to her to say hello and asks for her name despite her saying she is merely a Vassal. Isabel whispers her name to Ithili and shares that the Baron might be in trouble and that her presence might be needed.  She is starting to wonder if the Master Gryndil Thorne knows about what she is talking about. Ithili admits she knows a lot of people and does not know if Gryndil knows anything.  Ithili invites Isabel to get a drink with her and they walk up to the table to help themselves to some wine. Some of the staff look at her, shocked that one of the Veth is with one of the Ven. Ithili gives Isabel her own drink and thanks her for her generosity. Another servant approaches, asking if there is something wrong with the wine and that they are willing to replace it if it failed to meet her standards.  Isabel asks if Ithili is one of those "Falcons."  When Ithili asks if that's supposed to mean something, Isabel tries to explain. The waiter offers to bring the Swordswoman to leave the chamber and wait at an adjoining waiting room.  Ithili tells him it is not necessary, explains Isabel is with one of the guests, and tells the waiter they are fine. Ithili admits she is just here to have fun. Isabel laughs with her as the waiter rolls his eyes.

Lady No and Torr see Count Kether and Lucane approach. Torr alerts Lady No to the current complication: Lucane, the new man she wishes to meet, is arriving with Count Kether.  Lady No starts panicking, muttering no, and her Maids come to intercept the men. Kether whispers to Lucane that he will owe her a Season's worth of Spices if he has the Maids escort him away.  Torr scans the room immediately who might be useful within the area, but to her horror she finds none!  Lucane calls out to the Maids, asking them to help her get something to drink.  But Lucane's words do not steer the Vassals as Lady No suddenly interrupts him and reminds them that her Vassals shall not be commanded. Lady No pulls Torr close and tells her to stay beside her.  Count Kether steps forward, asking if there's a gathering. Lady No asks who is present and Kether admits there is "No" one of importance and asks the girls to stand aside. Torr curtsies and begins to move away. Kether asks Lucane who the woman is, and he explains it is the Baroness Torr.  "Ah yes," Kether tells Torr, "You were the one who was going to introduce me to your companion."

Torr smiles and claims she believes Kether is already familiar with her companion.  Lady No speaks out (still looking away) that she is not and has no idea who she is talking to. Torr introduces him as Count Kether and introduces him to the Lady No.  Kether admits he knows there is ill-blood between them, and he introduces Lucane to the Lady No and tells her, "He has a very nice Dark Tower." Lucane kisses the back of Lady No's hand. She then introduces Torr to Kether and tells him she has a very nice Province as well. Kether admits he was teasing when she claimed to not have recognized Torr. The two admit there's a challenge in not having anonymity in this society.

Isabel and Ithili start whispering to each other about the events they are observing from across the room, with Count Kether, Lady No, Torr Tamel and Lucane Adrente conversing among the seven maids in black.  They listen in as Torr expresses that Kether seems excited to meet her cousin who wrote the Opera. Kether, speechless, nods.  Torr suggests to have the Staff to lead him away immediately. Torr suggests the Baron Lucane can wait with the Lady No while she looks for the Staff.  Torr then exits from the group, leaving Kether speechless.  

Lucane asks how Lady No knows Count Kether, but she reaches her hand up his arm, allowing her nails to lightly rake his skin. Lady No asks Lucane for a moment to get to know him more. He asks if she wants to play a game, and he challenges her to answer all his questions if she answers all of hers.  Lady No smiles at the dangerous game and agrees.   Lucane asks what her relationship is with Kether, and she smiles as he calls his questions one that goes "for the throat."  She admits she was to be Kether's first wife.  "How unfortunate," Lucane muses.  "No, this is what's unfortunate," Lady No grins, "What is your Secret Name? You didn't set any rules. You owe me an answer." But before Lucane can protest, she pushes her fingers against his lips and says, "But instead of answering that, you can instead do me a favor. I have never seen your Province. Allow me to see your Dark Tower." Lucane admits they can make arrangements after the Party.  She explains she is in mourning, and that they should best not waste... the afternoon.

Isabel mutters to Ithili that she thinks the woman is making moves on her husband.  She hands Ithili her wine glass and starts to walk towards Lucane and Lady No, forgetting herself. Ithili realizes this isn't a good idea, but follows her and whispers this might not be a good idea.  Ithili realizes Isabel suggested that she is the husband of Lucane!  Isabel looks determined.

Torr is walking towards the servants when Kether catches up to her.  She admits she's still looking for the Staff, but he suddenly pins her against the nearest wall.  "You had my tongue tied in there."  Torr admits he is not the first man to say that.  Kether confesses she is the first woman... the second woman to have done this to him.  Torr feels him clutch her neck firmly, but still in a caressing way. He asks her to tell him if anyone has taken her heart.  She replies that while it does not matter, the answer is no. Kether smiles and admits she is good.  Torr grins, "No. I'm better," then gently pushes his hand away.  She reminds him it is time to find the Staff, as she is sure he is eager to meet her cousin.  But as she goes away, she does not overhear Kether mutter that this is the second time in his entire life a woman has caused him to be at a loss of words.

"Excuse me!" Isabel suddenly speaks out loud, "Is there something going on here?" Lady No and Lucane look up to see the Swordswoman standing with Ithili close by. Ithili realizes the Lady No is a Countess and she bows.  Isabel turns to Ithili and tells her not to do that to the woman making moves on her husband. Lady No glares at Isabel. Lucane tries to give apologies as he grabs Isabel into his arms and explains things will be clearer come her visit.  As Lucane and Isabel hurry away, Lady No turns to Ithili, demanding to know who that woman was and what just happened! "Did that Vassal just call me a filly?" Ithili forces a smile, and tries to just explain that the woman is her friend.  Lady No asks for her name. Ithili admits she knows her name. Lady No asks Ithili to join her for wine instead as her afternoon plans seems to have disappeared.  "Did I hear it right and that Ruk called that Baron her husband?"

Ithili lies and claims she thinks the woman is crazy.  Or that it might have been one of those servants who get infatuated with the beauty of their master.  Lady No smiles and admits they will have much to talk about.

Iger Tamel finally arrives. Despite most of the guests having have gone.


A figure who has been watching the three stories unfolding mutters to himself, "Keep Swimming... Keep swimming. this should be worth writing about in my next piece."  The man scribbles down notes in his notebook.


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