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Exalted: Heavens Warriors - Prologue (Thousand Whispers): Patterns

Thousand Whispers

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The Sidereal who called herself Thousand Whispers sat in the Escher-like workings of the mammoth dome at the center of The Most Perfect Lotus of Heavenly Design, wherein was stored the apex of Autochthon's already impressive panoply of artifice, the Loom of Fate.

In theory, all that was, is, and would be hummed along the gossamer strands of the immense, labyrinthine venues of the Loom, strung with billions upon billions of shimmering threads, each one representing the lifetime of each object in the universe: every Exalt, every human, every dog and pig, every tree, every blade of grass, every grain of sand, that would ever be, ever, was expressed somewhere in the vaunted dome of eternity. In theory, one could learn anything by critical and fine observation of the Loom.

In practice, things weren't that easy. All kinds of things could fuck up the Loom's working: every expenditure of Essence, every little trick that everyone could pull, every accident and unfulfilled Heavenly mandate represented a destiny left unfulfilled or otherwise altered. The pattern was constantly changing, like trying to solve an infinitely complex math problem whose integers shifted when you weren't looking. It was endlessly frustrating: at best, one could only be certain of the past, but it was the past under an unnatural light and from a funny angle. What is and was to come, one could only see what should happen, what was to be if nobody intervened. And somebody always intervenes: it's what the chosen of the Maidens do, after all.

Still, Thousand Whispers reflected, much could be learned about how the puzzle fits together by studying the Loom, which she did a good deal more than many of her peers. She'd had her fill of Creation before her Exaltation, and while she didn't spurn her missions outside of Yu-Shuan, she admitted that she preferred to study the Loom, puzzling over it, observing events, predicting, and then watching how they fell together, like amateur meteorology. The loom was as beautiful as it was terrifying, and it was terrifying; a full half of the new initiates brought into the dome immediately fled in terror at the sheer immensity of it all. And why shouldn't they? Somewhere amongst those innumerable, shimmering strands was the life of you, as well as everyone you would ever know or care about, each one coming to a definitive and in no way ambiguous terminus, sitting idly for your perusal at any moment.

Thousand Whispers was drawn out of her contemplation by a tap on her shoulder. It was a Vizier of pale skin and almond eye who called herself Creamy Jade, a Chosen of Journeys and Thousand Whispers' cohort in the Convention of Wood and the Gold Faction. "How apropos", Thousand Whispers thought to herself, smiled gently, and preemptively answered the woman's forthcoming inquiry, "I know." Creamy Jade gave her a somewhat sour look, turned, and left without saying a word. Thousand Whispers smiled broadly, kicking her legs and little as she leapt off her seat. Creamy Jade had come to the dome under duress, no doubt, to tell Thousand Whispers she was expected at the Sequestered Tabernacle shortly and to advise her to get going; but they had been embroiled recently, and it had not ended well from the other woman's perspective.

Thousand Whispers plucked a coin from her pocket and unwrapped it. The coins of Yu-Shuan were stamped with the handsome face of the Unconquered Sun himself, and underneath their delicate little jackets were flat discs of waxy ambrosia, which, if one were to ask Thousand Whispers what ambrosia was, she would smirk and tell you it was "the stuff that dreams are made of." She consumed the disc thoughtfully as she returned to her modest home in Yu-Shuan, where her secretary had gathered her things for departure. On his reminder, she transmuted the coins she had remaining into the coin of the Realm; Heaven's money would be no good, there. Thousand Whispers adopted her bag and cradled the little god's chin for a moment, walked to Gate 33, and, having presented her documents of travel, bid one last fleeting glance at the celestial city before stepping into the grimy, dirty realm below.

The trek from the portal's opening into the Valley where Venerable Silk had built his institution was harsh, and took the delicate young woman through some of the coldest and most unforgiving terrain the lands near the Elemental Pole of Air offered. She bore it with good enough cheer, not the least of which because she knew that the beauty of the Sequestered Tabernacle would greet her at the end, along with the radiant visages of the two Shining Ones she was ordained to meet. As she walked on, she smiled, unaware of the other presence that seemed always to be looking over her shoulder...

Having finally reached the Tabernacle some ten hours later, tired, hungry, and cold, Thousand Whispers warmed herself in the artificial sunlight of the Valley of the Elect before daring inside, where she was greeted with trump and drum, and the warmth of Venerable Silk's presence, who smiled at her sweetly and strangely, as was Venerable Silk's wont. After pleasantries, he introduced them to the Shining Ones who would be her charges in their endeavors in the region of the Elemental Pole of Wood, and after a brief meal together and some pleasant but not puerile talk, Thousand Whispers escorted the two Shining Ones, a pair of magnificent women, whose radiance nearly blinded her, back through the unforgiving wilderness and to another Heavenly portal.

As expected, the Solars had held up against the weather far better than she. As they crossed into the gate past the celestial lions who guarded it and were escorted by air over the beauty of Yu-Shuan by a dragon-god, Thousand Whispers recovered: her two charges stood in reverent awe of the spectacle, not so much as a shiver or blush from the cold.

At last, they touched down to the ground, taking their exit via Gate 18, if she wasn't mistaken, near a city named Sijan, and already she looked forward to basking in the warmth of the eastern sunlight.

Without thinking, she pulled a coin from her pouch and fiddled with it, trying to free it from its golden wrapper, and, to her disappointment, found only a chipped obol. Crestfallen, she tucked it back into her pouch and reminded herself that she had an appointment to keep.

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