alsoquin After the great flash of light, Cerin's perceptions leave him -- for how long, he cannot determine.
alsoquin And then, he reawakens, slowly... stiffly... his body is at an angle, laid out upon sharp rocks, and his head is under a small bush, blocking his sight into the world above.
Cerinfernal is very still as he awakens, the senselessness from before far more disturbing to him than the current pain now. He listens as he reaches out with his unparralleled peripheral perception...
alsoquin Cerin makes the effort, but nothing comes of it: he still sees nothing but the leafiness around his head.
Cerinfernal closes his eyes and then opens them after brief moment of internal reflection. He attempts to determine what time it is. When this fails, he sighs very softly, and begins to examine first himself and then drawing himself up into a quiet crouch, his surroundings beyond the bush.
alsoquin Cerin finds himself, standing on the side of something that could only be the Imperial Mountain; but where bare rock stretches up far, far above him, below him stands a vast, gleaming city, one whose ruins he has gazed upon before: the city of Meru, the glorious capital of the Deliberative. (...)
alsoquin In the sky, far above, the disc of the moon bites into the edge of the sun, little enough still to not reduce the light that it casts upon the world.
Cerinfernal resolves not to fall off as he conducts a more extended, though still surrepticious reconnisance of his surroundings. He is primarily looking for a clue as to .. why here? why now?
alsoquin The area he finds himself in is quite far up the mountain -- the city lies many distant miles below, though the peak stretches still some distance above where Cerin stands now. Abovehead, the moon slowly crosses over the Sun itself -- an eclipse, much like the one occurring in the time he just left. (...)
alsoquin Below, a Blessed Isle far different from the one he remembers stretches out -- great metropoli spread across it, while airships flit through the skies above it.
Cerinfernal looked down at the City, then up at the peak and then he thought back to a message, seared into his soul with grief. He started to climb.
alsoquin The climb is quite arduous and long, and Cerin can feel how the lack of Essence roughens his step and fatigues his muscles; but he soldiers on nonetheless. It is a long climb, and by the time he reaches the whitecap area the sun has fallen entirely behind the moon once again.
alsoquin In the sharp twilight that is left, Cerin notices, just a little further above.... a small cave entrance, previously hidden by the white glare of the snow. He shivers involuntarily -- he has not been cold in some time.
Cerinfernal takes a few moments on the slightly thicker crack in the rock that is all that passes for a ledge this high and rests for a moment, and then starts the final part of his ascent. He hoped there would be answers within the cave. And, though he hated to admit it, some warmth.
alsoquin A single step into the cave does indeed cut away the bitterly cold wind, though at first it provides no answers: it merely winds further into the mountain, silent and dark.
Cerinfernal takes a final glance out over Creation, and then he heads into the mountain.
alsoquin Cerin walks into the cave for some distance, winding back and forth, before it opens onto a small chamber -- perhaps twenty feet on a side, and at its center, a warm fire and a traveller's knapsack.
Cerinfernal spends a few moments inspecting the chamber he finds himself within, looking for anything of obvious interest. After this survey, he starts to systematically empty the backpack, taking a bite from the apple he finds there as he inventories its contents.
Cerinfernal It occurs to Cerin that there is something more fundamental than his exaltation missing. And then, as he examines his mind further, that his first thought was a lie. Fundamental or not, however, Nyx was gone for the moment.
alsoquin Cerin digs into the pack and finds a variety of travelling implements: rope... pots... a sleeping bag... and at the very bottom: a diary that is very, very familiar.
alsoquin No sooner does he lift that out of the bag than he feels something quite surprising: the cold sharpness of metal pressed gently against his throat.
Cerinfernal very carefully swallows the apple in his mouth. He is, however, polite and does not speak until spoken to.
alsoquin A voice speaks, behind him, a quiet, petite, female voice: "You have arrived."
Cerinfernal "Yes, it appears that I have, Ymir. My name is Cerin." He speaks without fear of the blade at his throat, reasonably certain that since he was not dead yet, speaking would not change matters.
alsoquin "Cerin." She pauses for a moment to appreciate the name, then gently lifts the knife from his throat. "Sit."
Cerinfernal seats himself, and takes another bite of the apple.
alsoquin Ymir walks out in front of Cerin, and he sees her -- exactly as he remembers himself, once. The feeling is quite disorienting.
Cerinfernal closes his eyes until the moment of vertigo passes
alsoquin "I knew that you would come." She pauses. "It must be quite... dark, where you came from."
Cerinfernal "I was not exactly sure where I was going, but that did not stop me." he says. "But it is dark, yes. Rosada marshalls his forces to march upon Meru. The trinity draconis hang above the Manse, preparing to unleash an abomination upon the world. And I am there to help them."
alsoquin Ymir nods, sadly. "The forces at play are greater than... I am," she finishes after a moment. "But we have an advantage that they do not."
Cerinfernal nods, and listens.
alsoquin "We know what it means to rise up from weakness. They have forgotten. When everything is on the line... we have the will to survive."
alsoquin Cerin notes as he looks at Ymir again that she is dressed only in a common traveller's clothes -- an unusual choice, for her.
Cerinfernal "I .. we .. do." He nods.
Cerinfernal After a few moments silence, he asks "Going somewhere?"
alsoquin "Yes. I have one final task to complete in my time in this world. You must know of it."
Cerinfernal "You are going to kill the one that we love."
Cerinfernal "You are going to kill the one who set us both on a dark path."
alsoquin Ymir nods.
alsoquin "I am certain you also have a cruel destiny that awaits you."
Cerinfernal "After I have killed all her circle, I will have to stand by as the abomination kills her, she who Talmuda became. I do not think Nyx will allow me the mercy of dying by her hand before this."
alsoquin Ymir nods. "Then it is extremely good for us that I came here prepared."
Cerinfernal "I hope that you have prepared for the fact that on my return, my mind will not wholely be my own."
alsoquin Ymir nods. "I am prepared for everything."
Cerinfernal nods. He didn't really expect less of her. "Though perhaps as we prepare, you would answer a few questions about which I am curious..."
alsoquin Ymir nods again, curtly.
Cerinfernal He decides to start with the most important question. "What happened there in his bedroom?"
alsoquin Ymir sets her face and speaks. "I thought to tell him about the threat posed to the Deliberative by Rosada. I did not realize that he had already betrayed me, long before, and sought to undo what was done to the Primordials long ago. I did what I needed to do, rather than what I wished."
Cerinfernal "Betrayed you?"
alsoquin "Before we were even wed, he was kidnapped, and they laid before him a dark offer -- work to restore the Primordials to a place of prominence in the world, that they might work together against something else... and he accepted."
Cerinfernal nods "I did not realize it happened so long ago."
alsoquin Ymir nods, sadly.
Cerinfernal is silent for a time. "That was that, then."
Cerinfernal "Who is Seven Leaping Herons?"
alsoquin Ymir seems -- not surprised, exactly, but she has a different expression than she might normally have at being posed a question. "He is one of the Knights of the Chrysanthemum. He has worked dilligently against the Primordials and their attempts to overthrow the Deliberative." She looks at him. "Why do you ask?"
Cerinfernal "He has been one of both the most imformative and unhelpful Exalts that I have met."
alsoquin Ymir allows herself an extremely small laugh. "That is certainly an accurate assessment." She looks at him. "He gave you the ring, yes?"
Cerinfernal "As well as two of the three pins, a small and exceedingly useful knife and a small collection of papers, yes. He was ... vague as to who you recieved it from and as to their fate, however."
alsoquin Ymir nods. "They were vague with me when I received it as well. I know that three Sidereals worked together in its crafting, and that it was wrought in the aftermath of the Threefold Breaking -- because one of them had a premonition that the Triniti Draconis might rise up again."
Cerinfernal "Was he one of them? Or was Quian?"
Cerinfernal ((** -u))
alsoquin "No, neither. Only one of those who did is still alive in the same incarnation today -- a Secrets known as Zinobia."
Cerinfernal "That is a name I do not know. Did they have any idea what it might do?"
alsoquin "If they did, they did not tell me. I discovered from the stars on my own."
Cerinfernal "What do you know of Wei-Dan?" He leaps to another conversation track
alsoquin "He does not visit the Deliberative often. He is a loner." She smiles a little. "We have gotten along well, when we have spoken."
alsoquin "I am not sure that our approaches to achieving our goals are tremendously compatible, however."
Cerinfernal "So that, at least, has not changed." He shakes his head alittle.
alsoquin Ymir nods again, and then, walks over to the knapsack that leans in one corner of the room. "I have something for you, before you return."
Cerinfernal rises and follows her to the knapsack
alsoquin She reaches in and draws out something -- folded cloth of deepest inky black, with long black ribbons running off of each side, and hands it to Cerin.
Cerinfernal takes the cloth, weighing it in his hands. "I had wondered where this had gotten to. It had not occured to me that I took it from you."
alsoquin Ymir smiles again. "Everything comes together as it must."
Cerinfernal "Indeed. What of the future though? This will not help her while my heart is not my own."
alsoquin Ymir half-smiles. "If I told you any more, you would regret it later. Trust that I have done for you a favor."
Cerinfernal regards her for a while and then nods. "Perhaps I should ask another, safer thing. There was a Lunar, a gazelle woman. She danced the garden as you studied crystals in the tower above. I only remembered this as I took of the crystals from her cooling body. Who was she?"
alsoquin "Astoria?" Her face darkens a little. "She was a hero to humanity. When I fought beneath the roots of the world, I learned that she died at Elorel's hand."
Cerinfernal "She had the misfortune of rediscovering the lohan project and having not been the one who went hunting that day."
alsoquin Ymir nods sadly. "I am sorry to hear that. Perhaps you will meet her under better circumstances in her next incarnation."
Cerinfernal "Perhaps I shall."
alsoquin Ymir nods.
Cerinfernal "I suppose then that it is time for me to say goodbye."
alsoquin Ymir nods. "May you... I... we... have the strength we need. For ourselves and all of Creation."
Cerinfernal smiles a little, then looks serious once more and nods. "I hope that too. Farewell."
alsoquin Ymir nods, lifts her backpack, and walks out the front of the cave.
Cerinfernal settles down to read the diary. The future will appear when it does, but until then, he will read.