Exalted: Northern Skies
Tempest and Sky
“One of your officers missed part of his kata,” your companion says, and with an idle gesture of a long, slender figure he points to the platoon of dragon-blooded knights sparring far below the airship Storm Light. He drapes his arms lazily over the railing as he comes to rest beside you. He often reminds you of the clouds around you – pale but bright, sun-touched, restless, resplendent in his fine crimson Captain’s uniform: Red Sky at Night, your best friend.
You are Relentless Tempest, and you stand perfectly balanced on the ship’s edge, your hair flying out beside you like a victory banner as you hold your orichalchum spear, Lightning Strike, poised and at ready. Your skin is bronzed and your hair is dark, gleaming chestnut and you observe all the world beneath you like a an all-seeing god, shining in your bright armor. You have been watching, and know there was no mistake. None of your warriors would dare such an insult while beneath the shadow of Storm Light. Red Sky at Night is simply bored and is looking for blood as amusement.
“What should the price be for imperfection, brother?” You ask, humoring him, and already you are calculating the distance to jump, marking your target.
“Slay a dragon for me?” he asks, his mouth twisting into a smile, and the words have barely departed his windburned lips before you leap off the railing, his laughter trailing behind you like thunder.
The wind screams under the force of your fall but such is your swiftness that those below have no warning and the rush only ends when your spear pierces the heart of the offending warrior. His strangled gurgle is the only sound in the silence that follows the shockwave of your landing.
You do not see the horrified glances, the hatred of your warriors as they quietly continue their katas. Your gaze is fixed above, to the sky.
You are brothers of heart, though not of blood, and together the land and sky tremble at your approach. You are an inseparable pair to such an extent that your Lunar mates often tease that you must have been accidentally bonded to each other instead of to them. You are forces of nature: hurricane, tornado, volcano. You are chaos given form and everything has always been divided or shared between you both equally: treasures, victories, ale and even women, until her.
She is the first thing to ever turn your head away from him, she with eyes like starlight and a voice that whispers through the night with an irresistible call: your name.
“I never want to see you even look her way again,” you say, and find your hands wrapped around his throat as you press him against the railings of his own ship with little effort; he has always weighed nothing more than wind and air. “I have given you everything else you have ever wanted, but she is one thing of mine you cannot have.”
It is one of many fights that began to deteriorate your once unbreakable friendship since her arrival in your life. The look of jealousy you once caught in his eyes drove you into fierce competition against him in order to prove yourself superior to her, and he rose to every challenge with a tenacity equal to your own.
“It’s not her I wanted!” he screams, and his skin strains beneath your fingers and begins to bruise. but that does not stop what has now been unleashed from inside him.. “It was never her, you idiot, you traitor, it was only always-”
“Then why do you fight me for her?” you demand, and he struggles now to simply breathe. “You know you cannot win against me in games of war.”
“I don’t want to win that bitch!” he says, “I only fight you because it is the only way now that I ever have your full atte-”
The next sound he makes is a gurgle, and the silence that follows remind you of another moment in time as the spearhead of your lance pierces his chest. You think your name is the last thing he murmurs before he slumps over, dead against you. You realize that you cannot move away because you are now pinned to his corpse, your weapon had been driven into you from behind.
“Why,” you ask, and you know without looking that it is her voice that will answer.
“For what I saw in the stars,” is her cruel, soft whisper.
You know you are dying, but the grief for the man in your arms and the fury of her betrayal overcomes even the fear of your own death. You gather what strength you have left, and as you sink to your knees your fist connects with the deck below with a force that sends cracks and splinters across the ship the ship that he held beloved only second to you. She may be winner of this battle but not the war; in the end victory will be yours as it always is.
The screams, the groaning wood and flying bits of metal are a dissonant but beautiful symphony as the ship lurches and begins to spiral wildly down to the world below. You close your eyes and for a moment tell yourself it is the same as any other fall your final descent from the sky.
A ship and her Captain always go down together and none of the traitors on board will be spared from the same fate – including you. You have never apologized to anyone and never will, but offer this to him as the closest you will ever come.