[FFML] [Exalted]The Broken Circle Prologue

miashara at deepfriedpuppies.com miashara at deepfriedpuppies.com
Thu Nov 5 08:43:17 PST 2009

I don't know if this is anywhere close to on topic, but traffic has  
been low for a while, so I'm going to risk it. Going through the FAQ,  
the keywords SF/Fantasy related kept popping up, and this easily fits  

Exalted is the creation and property of White Wolf Publishing. No  
copywright infringement is intended. This is a not-for-profit fan work.


In the Forbidden City of Jaggerfall, upon a tower of glass and onyx I  
sat to plot revenge. Ever since Ash Maiden had died, I had haunted the  
black metropolis, watching the prismatic arrangement of lights pour  
down through empty turrets to the silent streets. Meditating on the  
koans to control the seething anger had failed me finally, forcing me  
to violent physical exertion in the forms until my arms felt like lead  
and my technique had degraded to sloppy movements my sensei would have  
beaten me for, were he still alive. Still I had continued from dawn  
and through to the next night, practicing the first movements. While  
peace proved elusive, clarity came to me in time through the direct,  
linear motions that predicated mastery and I realized that seeking to  
understand was impossible. The murder was inscrutable as a koan, but  
possessed no interior hidden meaning. It was simply a motive to do  
what must be done. Reconciling myself to revenge, I concluded that I  
must figure out the perfect way to do so, Then exhaustion overcame me,  
and I rested while my mind took up effort where my body stopped.

Willows grew in the river valley outside Jaggerfall's unbroken walls,  
crested like boiling clouds so thick they obscured the wet marshland.  
Walls and towers stood above the white fog giving the city the  
appearance of floating in the sky. On the highest tower I was deep in  
the sky, alone with stars and comets. It was fitting. Mars stood in  
the house of the Crow as it had when I was born. That to was fitting.  
Mars meant war, and the Crow meant death. Bad death, of the kind that  
left vengeful ghosts, followed in the shadow of the Crow. But now I  
was unsure if it stood for what had already occurred, or what would  
come after.

While I schemed footsteps echoed up from the cavernous staircase to  
the tower's lower levels. Someone was making a lot of noise, making  
too much of it for someone simply careless or untrained. I waited  
calmly because my muscles had no energy left to twitch while mentally  
I did somersaults. It took a long time for a head to appear.

Brilliant Void emerged eventually. His bald head emerged from the  
darkness first. It was neither handsome nor ugly, with no single  
feature that marred his looks, but no elegance of jaw or brow to  
attract the eye. There was more black hair in his eyebrows then  
anywhere else on his body. That stayed out of starlight for a while,  
as he regarded me, our environs, and then the night sky. I was very  
careful to keep my hands in plain sight, resting them in a beam of  
moonlight. Our tableau was uninterrupted by any outside force, and in  
time Brilliant Void emerged completely.

He was a big man whose eyes were on level with the top of my head.  
Instead of having a neck, his head was the fugitive victim of his  
hungry shoulders, who were attempting to envelope it completely. Each  
of his shoulders was wider than my chest with arms that had originally  
been tree trunks.
His own trunk and legs were proportionately vast, and every inch of  
his skin was gnarled muscle. I rose once he stood on the rooftop with  
me and showed due respect.

“You've been a hard man to find,” he observed.

“One does not come to Jaggerfall if one wants to be found,” I answered.

“One should not come to Jaggerfall at all,” he replied.

“Well, I came,” I told him simply.

Walking forward, he stopped at the center of the oval turret and  
stared down. Stepping into a footprint left in sweat, he followed with  
another footstep that dropped easily into a horse stance. Step by step  
he followed the pattern on the ground, making strikes where they were  
obvious from the footwork. I watched and lamented, for he followed the  
pattern better then I had laid it. At one point he stopped and  
considered the next movement carefully, finally placing his right heel  
a hair further forward then I had. Then he stood and left the center  
of the ring, coming to stand before me.

“We are burying her at dawn,” he told me. “Her ashes lie in a silver  
urn in the Chapel of Six Gods. You must come. Her family will want to  
see you.”

“No,” I said simply. “She may be dead, but I won't recognize it. I  
won't watch her white urn put into the ground where she should have  
stood in white when she married.”

“It is not for you that her funeral takes place,” Brilliant Void replied.

“And it is not for her ghost! She won't rest simply because she's  
trapped underground with the worms!”

“Funerals are not for the departed. They are for the living, that  
those who remain may loosen their hold on her as she goes. But grief  
can kill, and you must share it with her mother and her father, that  
they do not carry the burden alone,” he chided me.

I looked up into his eyes. They were soft and kind, and ignored the  
hard bitterness of mine.

“I won't,” I denied.

“You will. Not because you want to, but because you must. If you loved  
her, you know she would want you to support her family.”

That hit me viciously, knocking the wind from my lungs and leaving me  
gasping on hurt and grief. I bent almost double, loosing sight of the  
ground in the haze.

“Bastard,” I told him.

“You sit here selfishly while her family cries alone, you would turn  
your back on them in the moment of their most poignant grief, and you  
cry foul when I remind you of the truth of the matter? Your master  
would be ashamed.”

As always, Brilliant Void struck every vulnerable point necessary to  
leave me gasping on the ground. Without even raising his fists, he  
left me beaten as he departed into the gloom of the stairs.

End Prologue

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