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Cerinfernal Having asked the Thousand-Faced Man for sorcery-capturing cords filled with a variety of spells for inflicting chaos and mayhem over a wide area, and requesting an audience with the red-clad lady, Cerin comes to the conclusion there is one other very important place he has to visit before he leaves. And so he comes to the gate, and enters the co-ordinates for the courtyard at the the centre of Malfaes, the demon city. He steps through.

alsoquin Cerin stands alone in Gishelighostivka, the courtyard at the heart of the Demon City, a sight rarely glimpsed by mortal eyes. (...)

alsoquin A tiny fragment of sanity in a mad world, the septagonal clearing is tiled with great cobbles of volcanic rock, and its center, an incomprehensible, twisting statue of blackest iron; but the moment the platform's borders are reached, the city's madness throws up blasphemous churches of black marble (...)

alsoquin and twisted, geometry-defying domiciles of basalt and brass, while the infinite narrow roads of Malfeas run between them all as the mad buildings rise up further and further, spiralling and bending betwixt one another... until finally, only the roads rise up yet further -- for the Demon City hangs abovehead too. (...)

alsoquin As bells peal sounds of horrible clarity and inhuman voices cry out in every tone, the Green Sun shines down from above, casting all in the strange, alien pall of the Primordials' prison-realm... and a thousand and one fallen malakim leap and fly and crawl between the buildings, unaware of the human's presence -- (...)

alsoquin aware only of their own strange, dark business.

Cerinfernal Cerin casts his vision around him for five hundred yards in every direction, classifying a hundred species of demon never seen before within instants, not that they interest him at the present. Instead, he takes a sniff of the air, searching for a delicate floral scent amidst the confusion of malakim. He knew there would be gardens here. He knew they would be near the centre... but just where, that he would have to find out.

alsoquin Despite the thousand smells of Malfeas -- of polished brass and brackish water and fresh offal and bitter defeat -- Cerin is not fooled. The scent he seeks... up one of the tiny, narrow roads, and to the left. He is certain.

Cerinfernal Cerin sets off at a leisurely pace, red ribbons flapping unseen in the breeze as he moves through the heart of the demon city unseen, drawing in every aspect of the architecture the sphere of his vision takes in, classifying malakim as he goes with a calculating air, wondering if any could serve him in the task ahead. He decides they cannot, but keeps on watching, climbing the narrow road higher and higher.

alsoquin It is but a simple task for one such as Cerin to navigate the ways of Malfeas, and soon he finds it -- tucked in between buildings of hideous visage, a mezzanine strung up by twenty or more razor-thin roads, a tiny spot of delerious beauty in a realm wracked with insanity and pain... the flowers of Malfeas bloom here.

Cerinfernal Cerin approaches the garden, spreading his senses through its volume, assessing the blooms on display as he examines the gardens for a warden or a keeper of sorts. He would need quite a few blooms, afterall ...

alsoquin The flowers are glorious, their tainted beauty even greater for the adversity in which they grow, their leaves of black and orange and white matching the materials of which the Demon City is wrought. (...)

alsoquin And nearby, like an emaciated creature of sticks, tiny leaves like a bereaved mother's tears sprouting off and a cold winter wind blowing about its body, is Jlediina, the Grey Sapling, Demon of the Second Circle and tender of the grove. She smiles sadly at Cerin's presence.

Cerinfernal Cerin inclines his head. "Greetings, Jlediina. I am here to pick several of the blooms in your garden."

alsoquin The demon nods. "You have come at the right time," she says, her voice but a faint whisper. "For these grow for one hundred years before they might blossom, and though they might stay bloomed for a thousand times ten thousand years, the demon lords tear at them in hatred once they have lived but a day."

Cerinfernal "That must be frustrating as a gardener." He says. "Though I am glad my trip was not in vain."

alsoquin nods. "Such is the way of this place." She gestures with one reed-thin hand expressively. "Take whatever you need."

Cerinfernal "Thank you." He nods his head in thanks and steps past her into the garden, drawing out his golden knife. He starts to wander through the garden taking fennel, hawkweed, monkshood, catchfly and meadowsweet ... and ... then he reaches the center of the garden, where the chrysathamums bloom and there, when he is sure he is not observed, he ignores the pain to pluck one red bloom and store it outside the world. Then he turns, to leave the garden, a faint smile on his face.

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