alsoquin The plan, for all of the labyrinthine plotting and intricate arrangements which went into it, is surprisingly simple.
alsoquin Cerin is to serve as the vanguard of the Ebon Dragon's newly-wrought Perfect Circle. With the Night Seal in hand, he is to leave Malfeas, and carefully hide himself in the vicinity of the manse, awaiting the moment at which it will open.
alsoquin Once inside, he will begin the process of activating the True Realm's Fivefold Sympathies, letting the true power of the Imperial Manse be known for the first time since the collapse of the Deliberative.
alsoquin Once the Blessed Isle is shielded from all outside view and Lai's group has arrived in the manse, Cerin's job is twofold:
alsoquin Secure the control chambers for the other Sympathies, that the remaining Seals may be used to activate their sympathies and thereby secure the Blessed Isle more fully;
alsoquin And ensure that no one and nothing prevents Lai Misuna from reaching the peak of the manse.
alsoquin Then, it is merely a matter of time... to wait for the key moment, and wrest Lai's fate-wrought victory and dominance away, for the glory of the Primordials.
alsoquin In the dark night that blankets the Imperial City on this, the evening when Calibration begins, Cerin the Wolf sits atop a flat roof, his quarry rising up from the center of the city to the East.
Cerinfernal Cerin sits there, watching the world around him, all the little people and inconsequential dragonblooded just studying the manse in the distance, the flows that streamed about it, watching for the change that would signify its openning. He doesn't look up at the roiling storm of shadow essence above him, though he does glance down to the ring, and over to the peak, visible in the far distance as a spear of black lit from behind (...)
Cerinfernal with red. There is a subtle shift then in the flows of the manse, the first indications that it will open ... not now ... but soon. And so he begins the long process of activating his magics, coiling them around himself subtly so that no flare betrays him. As he does so, his understanding of the world increases, essence guiding his intuition, his thoughts - there are brief painful twinges as he burns a little of himself to (...)
Cerinfernal restore his resolve. And then the wolf moves, slipping through the shadows from rooftop to rooftop. If he's timed it right, he should arrive just about as the gates of the manse begin to open.
alsoquin As Cerin leaps from roof to roof, he notices the events occurring in the great courtyard below -- his former compatriots have dispelled the illusion that hid the demon-guards sent to clear the area around the manse, but they do not see Cerin -- no one does, no one could.
alsoquin He alights on the roof of the Manse just as a small panel on the roof of the manse slides open, revealing the path inwards.
Cerinfernal Cerin sails through the air, red ribbons flapping unseen in the breeze, bring his arms in to his body as he drops through the hole, landing silently in the room beyond.
alsoquin Cerin slips downwards, into one of the many similar hallways that run through the manse, seemingly quiet and unassuming at the moment.
alsoquin His quarry is the Night Caste room, all the way down on the ground floor... but reaching it quickly shouldn't be a challenge, with knowledge of the secret stairways and passageways that cut through the manse. (...)
alsoquin To Cerin's immediate right is the Meru room, and a few hallways down towards the left is the Wood room.
Cerinfernal Cerin considered for a moment, taking stock of his location within the manse, and then he sets off down the hallway toward the Wood Room, forsaking Meru for the moment.
alsoquin Cerin's early-warning system reliably warns him as he heads into the first hallway beyond his current location.
Cerinfernal Knowing he can be no more prepared than he already is, Cerin's reaction is to stop and calmly study his surroundings, trying to discern the facts about the situation that must have eluded him before, to cause the warning.
alsoquin Cerin carefully examines the Essence in the hallway, and after a moment notes the rather ingenious trap -- the space within the hallway is very carefully bent and twisted. The borders of the discontinuity reverse the internal changes, so that to sight nothing is amiss;
alsoquin but within a great hexagonal spindle that any person would have to move through to cross the hallway, the space is disjoint, one spot not connecting to another adjacent one; anyone who passed through would find their body parts unexpectedly disconnected from one another.
Cerinfernal Cerin decides that while such an event might be an interesting experiment for later, now having his limbs detached would be an unnessary inconvience and hinderence to his mission, and so it is with the utmost care that he threads his way through the hallway, taking care to follow the one spatially connected route through the helix and equally careful to leave no sign that there is anything untoward within the space.
alsoquin Cerin notes with interest that the solution to the space-puzzle appears to map perfectly to a second-order principle of motonic aspect arrangement that he had worked out just a short while ago.
alsoquin Beyond, the green jade door to the wood room awaits.
Cerinfernal Cerin files that fact away for future consideration as he studies the green jade of the door before him. The door was another interesting puzzle, though ones that he didn't really have time for. He draws from a pocket meadowsweet - ineffectuality - and shreds the delicate black of the many tiny petals, blowing them with his hand over the ward, supercharging them with infernal essence that is carried into the heart of the ward (...)
Cerinfernal by the Wood of the petals, rendering it impotent. After that, it's a simple matter of pushing the doors inward.
alsoquin The door slides open almost soundlessly, and within, a chamber: the walls, lined with blossoming ivy, and at the center, a copse of tiny trees, each a perfect duplicate in miniature of a variety that grows in a different region of Creation. (...)
alsoquin A green jade pole rises from floor to ceiling in the center of the room, its carvings in the same strange, repeated script that lines all the halls of the building
alsoquin , while tiny spirit-beings in the shape of animals flee from sight amongst the brush at the sides of the room.
alsoquin At the easternmost wall there are four trees with fruit hanging heavily upon their branches, one of which Cerin recognizes with interest as resembling an unripe Peach of Immortality; and at the west, the miniature evergreen trees cluster about a small mound of dirt, a single, leafless stick marking its head.
alsoquin The centralmost part of the copse's arrangement is something that Cerin can discern with some effort resembles the distribution of wooded areas with Creation, though the areas closer to the walls are not anything he recognizes.
Cerinfernal decides to orient himself via the peach of immortality, the barren patch that is malfaes and the bare treeless area of Bi'Allah. If he is correct, then the savannah trees of Elysion should be just about ... there.
alsoquin Cerin's math seems to be accurate, confirming both the outer representation of the planes and the inner-region representation of Meru, even noting the small gap on the floor that marks the planar boundary; though the large area in between is still odd: it must represent a Meru much larger than the map Cerin knows.
alsoquin Getting his bearings thus, Cerin is able to locate the tiny shrub -- no bigger than a clover -- that radiates an odd Essence -- the miniaturized counterpart to the itself miniaturized version of the great Wasirranu, that sits in the garden in the Labyrinthine Cascade.
Cerinfernal nods to himself and then he very carefully draws a seed from his pocket, a tiny seed. This seed he wraps in the crimson essence of Zahara's love, using the smallest moste that he stole from Zahara as he gave her the stone to give it a coccoon of Creation's Essence. And then he bends down to press it into the soil, not that far from the minature Wassirranu, though well beyond the manse. After noting it's location, he nods, and then drops down the infinite hole beside the large Wassirranu.
alsoquin Cerin steps in, and falls. He passes through a shaft running between the walls of two passing hallways on the third floor, and notes with interest the truly vast quantities of Essence channeled seemingly without the slightest problem through the intricate sandstone stones of the manse; and a moment later, he drops into place, in the Dawn chamber. (...)
alsoquin The Solar chambers are quite a bit more austere than the Elemental ones; black marble inlaid by gold lines the walls. To the west, a great, stylized bas relief of a tiger, arched to strike, juts from the wall;
alsoquin on the east wall, a knot of right-angled lines of saffron and lavender spreads out to each side, forming great angled swathes of sunrise on the north and south walls. (...)
alsoquin In the center, a table sits, ghostly images depicting the vicious battles that rage across Creation today; and on one side, a raised, angled piece of marble, with a round depression exactly the size of a Seal of the Deliberative.
Cerinfernal spends some time studying the manse, noting the activities of the mask of winters and the roseblack with detached interest as he watches for other notable conflicts on the Blessed Isle that may cause trouble with the latter part of his mission...
alsoquin Cerin notes for future reference the mark showing a small detachment of Dragon-Bloods, Mnemon herself at their head, fighting through Red Lily troops towards the Imperial Manse; otherwise, little that might affect his goals seems to be occurring....
Cerinfernal Cerin passes one last glance over the table, not begining to analyse the map, simply committing it to memory for later study and then he steps out of the room. His destination is, of course, Heaven, but since he has no desire to head through the halls of necromancy, he instead heads south down the hallway, heading for the sorcery...
alsoquin Cerin winds his way through the halllways. Around the fourth he enters, shortly before the Second-circle room, his surprise sense rings once more.
Cerinfernal Cerin once more stops and consults his surroundings, examining all parts of the corridor with minute detail.
alsoquin The hallway mostly appears quite straightforward -- but a hairline crack, invisible to mortal sight, reveals a circular portion of the ceiling, perhaps two feet around, that clearly can be made to slide away, revealing something above.
Cerinfernal While again the strange circle cut into the ceiling intrigues Cerin, triggering it is, he feels, something best left for others to do. He therefore leaves the floor of the corridor, and steps onto the almost imperceptably shallow ledge provided by the inscriptions on the walls and follows a line that instinct says will not see him in trouble, dropping off the wall a distance away from the circle.
alsoquin Thus avoided, the trap provides Cerin with no difficulty, and he makes his way onward, towards his next checkpoint.
alsoquin Upon them, in the most intricate and tiny of lettering, are words in the Old Realm tongue, the deepest principles of the sorcerous workings, and the second level of initiation into the Devonian school....
alsoquin For a sorcerer, such a chamber might call for weeks of study; but for Cerin, it is little but an intriguing curiosity.
Cerinfernal As with all such things, Cerin commits the details he can see to his cavernous memory but then he moves on. He has to reach Heaven quickly, after all.
alsoquin The door to the north gives easily to Cerin's touch, now that he has cleared the spell obstacles. He passes an empty hallway on his trek northwards before his latest warning rings.
Cerinfernal These warnings were getting rather tiresome. But then, he had taken the long way around, so he supposed he had only himself to blame he considered, as he looked around for the subtle unpleasantness that was about to affect him.
alsoquin Tiny pinholes in the brickwork, clearly placed in such a way that the bricks surrounding them can shift in place to widen the openings, hint at a variety of potential unfortnate results.
Cerinfernal takes several steps back down the corridoor, and then he sprints, leaping just before he reaches the pinholes in the brickwork. A complex tracjectory that has him spinning off all four walls of the hallway in a blur of crimson sees him emerge on the other side none the worse for wear.
alsoquin Jets of white-hot molten steel shoot out with vicious speed, missing Cerin in several places by less than an inch, before striking the opposite walls and cooling into misshapen piles of slag.
Cerinfernal hurries away from the twisted remains of the unleashed trap, heading for Yu-Shan.
alsoquin The door, clearly identified by the sigil of the "Yu" sound, stands before him, and nothing seems to prevent him from opening it.
Cerinfernal decides that such suspicious behaviour clearly warrents a deeper examination of the doors.
alsoquin Upon further examination, there seems to be the motonic equivalent of a hair-across-the-doorframe -- a single mote stretched at one singular place between the two doors, ready to send the snapping signal to another part of the manse, out of sight, the moment the doors are opened.
Cerinfernal Hmmm He considers.
Cerinfernal Of course, sometimes it is the simplest solutions that are best, Cerin decides, as he studies the mote and reaches forward, moving with the ultimate nicety that few in the world other than he could manage, he takes careful hold of one end of the mote, holding it in perfectly neutral essence. With his other hand, he pulls the freed door outwards and spins to step through the door, letting it glide shut, releasing the mote to (...)
Cerinfernal reattach just before it near silently clicks shut.
alsoquin A moment passes, and it seems that all is well: no great calamity occurs, and the mote hangs silently still in place between the two doors.
Cerinfernal proceeds to study heaven.
alsoquin Turning around, Cerin takes in the chamber -- the raised platform, in the precise shape of the Blessed Isle, the green dome rising from its center amidst the scale model of the Heavenly City... The suffusion of akasha and heavenly Essence that fills the air...
alsoquin Cerin notices that a rather large concentration of Essence seems to be sitting within the scale model -- unsurprising, given that most of Creation's gods would be attending the Carnival of Meeting.
Cerinfernal studies the map more closely.
alsoquin The heavenly city is mapped in miniature, in all its elegant detail, and it seems to serve both as a literal model of spiritual activity as well as a more general method for influencing the akashic medium throughout Creation.
alsoquin The only portion of it that does not seem responsive is the Jade Pleasure Dome, from which not the slightest hint of Essence leaks.
Cerinfernal idly wonders if Grala is attending the Carnival as he begins to touch the nessessary gems and ornaments to open the passageway down into the room below.
alsoquin One of the vast, faintly purple floor tiles slides elegantly aside and reveals the last passage that Cerin must take.
Cerinfernal Cerin drops down silently, waiting until the tile has reset itself before he proceeds down the passageway, quickly, though not heedless of caution. It was leading to a room that Ymir had controlled, after all.
alsoquin The doorway stands, its markings simple... and without Cerin even having to act, it slides open to grant the holder of the Night Caste Seal passage within.
Cerinfernal steps through, senses drinking in the details.
alsoquin The room is arrayed much like the Dawn Caste room Cerin walked through before; but where the sharp-edged lines previously depicted a sunrise, now violet and gray lines only cross to form the stars of a sunless sky, and a great wolf rises up from the southern wall. (...)
alsoquin Looking at the flat, featureless central table, Cerin has a flash of memory --
alsoquin Watching his own hands move with a practiced swiftness over it, receiving reports from agents in the field and observing events in far off locations, all while enchanted scrolls hang in the air, recording each staccato-uttered word for posterity --
alsoquin and then he is back.
alsoquin Beyond the table, a black recess for the Seal sits, identical to the one located in the Dawn room.
Cerinfernal steps forward and places the seal within the recess.
alsoquin The Essence of the Manse instantaneously wraps the Seal in a vicious deathgrip, and a gleam rolls across its golden face. Essence, too, rushes through the walls of the Manse, and the building begins to shake with a great intensity.
Cerinfernal watches intently.
alsoquin The image of the Night Sun appears in the air above the table, and the memories begin to rush back -- the observation and information-network apparata, as well as the Realm Shrouding Grid, are now ready to surrender to Cerin's commands.