“Her unnatural tendency towards evil; has abated; her natural tendency towards being a slut has not” – Mike, describing the changes to Lisara
“Sweet!” – Aaron
Hugo had pulled Callas and Aunn aside, and they talked among themselves to come up with ideas for what to do with Lucy. Hugo wished to hand her over to his sifu, Maxim, and let the Immaculate Order take responsibility for her. Callas and especially Aunn had… issues with that. Everyone had an opinion on what to do, but it was Aunn that came up with the best compromise. Since her destiny involved the whole of Creation, all of Creation should have a hand in her education. As such, he proposed that a representative of the Solars, Lunars, and Realm Terrestrials should take part in her education. With that decided, they moved onto the issue of what to do with Lisara. Hakun simply proposed waiting back in Creation until she died of old age, but Hugo wouldn’t have any of that. Hugo wanted to kill her… badly. But seeing that she wanted a second chance, and that she chose not to be evil, he couldn’t help but be reminded of his own dilemma a year ago, and how he similarly chose not to be evil, and reluctantly let her live… with constraints. She consented to be Oathbound by Callas never to serve Darkness again and never to strike the first blow against a Celestial Exalt. In exchange, the Circle suffered themselves to be Oathbound to allow Lisara to mother her child if she could prove to be cleansed of the Yozi’s influence. With that sealed, the Circle elected to remain there and train. This was complicated by the lack of space and privacy in the Elsewhere, and nerves frayed quickly. The lack of tea was the last straw for several, though.
After spending eight months of perceived time inside the manse’s time chamber, the Circle had had… enough. They emerged into Creation barely 30 seconds realtime after they had left, the cultists still in the process of running like both hells. They let them live as they closed the portal to Malefas before they began appropriating everything that looked valuable in the Manse, including a powerful hearthstone for Jasper. With that, they loaded up on the airship and headed out. Hugo briefly spoke long-distance with Maxim, and with his mentor’s consent the Circle set forth for a training ground Hugo’s temple had long used, to meet with Maxim and turn Lisara over to him.
Problems arose when the airship’s essence drive broke down, turning what would have been a day-long journey into one of a week. Hugo gave a quick heads-up to Maxim, arranging for an engineer to be on-station to fix the magitek. Landing at the arranged clearing, the Circle was disturbed by a lack of a greeting. Hopping down from the airship, a quick Charm let Hugo know there were eight people nearby. He waved, and Maxim walked out, accompanied by seven other members of the Immaculate Order. Hugo reported that Lisara had been Oathbound and cooperative since they’d left the manse. Nodding, Maxim then examined Lucy. A quick check of the child showed the Elder Immaculate that she was every bit as powerful, and her destiny every bit as strong, as Hugo had warned him. He noted that she had the ability to do great good or evil, depending on how she was raised. He then motioned to one of his monks, Masaru, who would be accompanying the Circle back to the Bull’s city to serve as a tutor and bodyguard for Lucy.
With that, the Circle had to spend a week in the uncomfortable position of Solars and Lunars being on the ground in the Realm. Hugo, in a bout of nostalgia, headed into town, accompanied by Jasper and and Geralt. Hugo and Geralt both picked up a new set of armored clothing in town, and Geralt simply observed. Back at the airship, though, a nobleman’s hunt came through. The nobleman spotted the airship, the gryphon, and Masaru, and looked from one to the other. He looked over at Masaru, and commented that it was good to see Order types out and asked what was going on. Masaru responded that it was Order business, and asked him to move along. The gryphon immediately took off and began circling, managing not to attack the horses on sight, but it was clear he was… agitated.
The nobleman asked what was going on on his property. Lucy then asked if she could have a ride on one of the horses. Masaru said no as the Terrestrial noble started to ask more questions. Lucy then got up on one of the horses, which had happily let her onto it, and even changed pink for her. Still enjoying her new cat form, Callas had forgotten that normally cats don’t talk and simply promised Lucy a ride on something faster later if she could wait. The noble’s eyes narrowed and he grew clearly suspicious, looking at the whole picture far more carefully this time – talking animals, airship, gryphon with elaborate barding rigged for war. Callas noted that he was spending Essence, and was likely putting two and two together – this was quickly turning from a hunt to a Hunt. Lucy quickly walked up to him and said that he should forget this and move on. The nobleman muttered that he should forget about Order business and moved on, his horse remaining there as he walked away half dazed.
Masaru looked over at her, wanting to issue an admonition, but she had defused the situation. Hugo, Geralt, and Jasper then came back. Hugo attempted to scold Lucy for deceiving the nobleman and making him forget about his mount, but Lucy managed to deflect… it seemed she took after her mother and her Solar father when it came to manipulating people, several of the Circle realized. Maxim briefly stopped back and had a ‘private’ conversation with Hugo,; one which Jasper felt the need to eavesdrop on. Hugo ‘revealed’ to Maxim that they’d learned the location of the Empress. Maxim nodded, noting that he had been in on the secret and knew what she was doing – she was invading Malefas to kill her daughter, who, through means unknown, was now the source of Infernal Exaltations. Hugo and Jasper both cried a loud ‘what’ at that, and they moved on.
That night, the Essence Drive was repaired, and the tech who did it went off, saying he was going to forget everything about this job through the judicious overuse of alcohol. On that note, the Circle took off with their ah-hoc repairs complete. It took them longer than they’d have liked to return to the Bull’s city, but pushing any harder would’ve burnt the drive out again.
Reaching the Bull’s, they noted that the Mountainfolk had reached the city and that their workshop was nearing completion. The Circle was quickly escorted to the Bull, who asked them only half-jokingly this time what Creation-shattering revelations they had discovered this time. They replied by informing him that their best guess said they had mostly freed Lisara from the Yozi’s control and that they’d left her in the care of the Immacualte Order, who hoped to find some means to purge the taint from her. He nodded, surprised but not shaken. He was shaken, though, when Hugo introduced Lucy and told him that she had been bred by the Yozis to operate the Realm Defense Grid, but the inclusion of Zenith-Caste Solar Essence in the mix had offset the Yozi’s hold on her. With that revelation through, the Circle took advantage of their first opportunity in almost nine months perceived time to get the hell away from each other, retiring to chambers.