< Exalt Chitchat | Sol Invictus Logs | Marku and Zahara Craft >

Zahara gathers her Circlemates near the forge, and waits a few minutes for them to be quiet. "I brought you here today to show you a new technology that Cerin has discovered, that I believe will work against the Aalorai." she says gravely.

  • Birds-of-Trinity makes a sort of squeaky noise. "What's an Aalorai?"
  • Markuran arrives last of all, looking very wet. Despite the obviously recent bath, Markuran is fully dressed. More fully dressed then normal, wearing a long-sleeved tunic and full trousers, his muscles and scars hidden in a way he would normally never consider. Further, his brown hair is cropped short, barely reaching the tops of his ears anymore and he looks to be growing a beard. "Sorry I'm late. I was tending to some things."

<Cerin> "The Aalorai are the bird creatures Relovia mentioned in her letter"

  • Zahara looks Markuran over appreciatively, "I like the new look." she comments before responding to Birds' question. "Do you remember the 'strange flying creatures' in Relovia's report? Those are the Aalorai. They seem to be another breed of Dragon King."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, those."

  • Birds-of-Trinity pretends to know exactly what's going on.

<Markuran> "I thought the star-chosen said they were ancient beasts, not Dragon-Kings."

  • Markuran frowns slightly at Zahara's comment about his appearance, but makes no reply

<Cerin> "They are. The dragon kings are the closest type of creature them though, in that they are natural essence channelers"

<Zahara> "S Sithumi? showed us a... moving picture that showed a great battle with these Aalorai. The army used diamond-tipped arrows against them, but many of them seemed to evade or brush off the attacks."

  • Zahara nods to Cerin
  • Markuran shrugs. "And we're going to fight them?"

<Zahara> "We must be prepared to fight them, if we go to the island."

<Zahara> "Are you planning to join us, Marku?"

  • Markuran nods. "I wish to see these creatures for myself."
  • Zahara nods, "Good, we'll need your strength."

<Cerin> "Well, hopefully we shall not, but it would be foolish to assume we will not"

  • Birds-of-Trinity runs her fingers through Markuran's hair curiously. "So what motivated this?"
  • Markuran bats Birds' hand away. "I'm serving penance."

<Zahara> "We met with Seven Herons Leaping again, and he requested a small metal sphere from the island, in return for information, and untroubled access to the gates."

<Zahara> "Since we'd been discussing going there on and off since Relovia's letter arrived, it seemed an opportune bargain."

  • Markuran shrugs. "If you must deal with him...are we leaving now?"
  • Zahara shakes her head, "While we COULD leave now, I'd rather have a bit of time to prepare. I mentioned the new technology Cerin discovered. It creates weapons that kill by turning the creature's own Essence against them, usually immediately."

<Cerin> "The essence is trapped in a loop within the weapon. It gets expelled ..forcefully"

<Markuran> "Have you made weapons using this..new method?"

<Zahara> "Not yet, but I've devised a way to recreate them using Orichalcum. I was hoping you would help me with the actual construction, Marku."

<Markuran> "I'll help if I can. What are Cerin and Birds to do while we smith?"

<Zahara> "Try to find something that will stand up to their weapons. They seem to shoot spines from their tails with force enough to carve craters into the earth, and anything that happens to be standing on it. Furthermore, they attack en masse."

<Zahara> "Or, alternately come up with a way we will NOT have to face them directly."

<Markuran> "We should get to work then. We have little time to waste on the West when the Realm marches against us."

<Zahara> "Hopefully we can find information on the island that will help us against the Realm."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'll try and...umm...scout something out?"

<Cerin> "Perhaps some initial scouting of the island will be in order, love. Though I would prefer to have at least some of the arrow heads before that"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Are they friendly?"

<Zahara> "They are decidedly not friendly, once they find out who we are... or were."

  • Birds-of-Trinity considers this.

<Zahara> "I seem to have led a successful invasion on them in centuries past, and they likely bear a grudge."

<Cerin> "What worries me is that apparently you only managed to seal them away.."

<Zahara> "I have yet to rediscover how to send an entire *island* Elsewhere."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, they're back."

<Zahara> "I am also not certain whether they are sentient, or pure beasts."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Maybe they'll be excited about having new neighbors."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Let me go and bake them a welcome basket."

<Zahara> "If you, on your scouting mission, get a chance to capture one and bring it back, alive or dead, I would appreciate it."

<Markuran> "Cerin, will you be going with Birds?"

<Cerin> "I will bear that in mind" he smiles "I'm not sure I want to bring a live one back to the cascade." He looks at Markuran "Of course, unless you can think of somewhere better for me to go?"

<Zahara> "To the frozen North would also be acceptable, as long as it is caged.

  • Markuran shakes his head. "Zahara and I will do our work, you two had best prepare to leave."

<Cerin> "Perhaps you could spend some time on a cage, Marku?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity nods.
  • Zahara touches Cerin lightly, looking slightly worried. "Be careful, love. Don't let them see you."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Extended Toad," Birds says to one of the various servants puttering around, "I need you to fetch some things from the town, please. Take this list." She takes a sheet of her notes and her Castemark flashes as she paints a list on it, her hand blurring.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Be back by nightfall."

  • Cerin smiles reassuringly at Zahara "I will be." he kisses her lightly "I'll come home to you"

<Zahara> "you better!" she replies with mock-sternness.

<Markuran> "I don't think we can build an island-sized cage. But we'll figure something out."

  • Cerin grins softly
  • Zahara gives him a meaningful look, and holds up the dagger.

<Cerin> The grin fades slightly from his face. "There is something I should tell you about the source of this weapon. It was given to me by Lai Misuna"

<Markuran> "For what purpose?'

<Cerin> "To stab Herons"

  • Birds-of-Trinity heads into the Manse kitchens to construct her famous sestina pot pies; the arrangment of their fillings is carefully designed to complement the poems incised into their crusts.
  • Zahara raises a brow at the complete lack of reaction.
  • Birds-of-Trinity stops back in for a moment.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "To -what-?"

<Markuran> "Well. Maybe this Lai isn't so terrible...but why would he want Herons dead?"

<Cerin> "To stab Herons. It would have been a fatal thrust."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Like, before we trick him into making all kinds of deals that are not obviously hugely in our favor?"

<Zahara> "Lai is indeed terrible." she replies to Markuran, "He has our empire in his sights."

<Cerin> "I'm not sure. Presumably it has something to do with his other plans involving my infiltrating your circle."

  • Birds-of-Trinity leans right up to Cerin's ear and says, in a loud stage whisper, "You're not supposed to -tell- your infiltratees, Cerin."
  • Zahara sidles closer to Cerin as he makes his announcement

<BirdsOfTrinity> "But since you have, um."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Let's...um...talk about that."

<Zahara> "What.. a fine idea."

  • Markuran narrows his eyes at the other man. "Indeed.."

<Zahara> "Let's go talk in the Gilmeyne room."

  • Cerin takes hold of Zahara's hand "I have done nothing to betray your circle, beyond my infiltrating it in the first place. Zahara can vouch for that."
  • Zahara squeezes his hand, "It is true. I verified it with an Oath."
  • Birds-of-Trinity rubs her forehead absentmindedly.
  • Markuran frowns. "But your oath only punishes him if he transgresses."

<Zahara> "And he has not been punished. What does that tell you?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "So Misuna..."

  • Cerin smiles at her "That might be a better place...It's where you heard most of the details.."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "...thinks that you can be trusted."

  • Zahara tugs Cerin's hand as she leads the way to the Gilmeyne room, "Exactly" she calls over her shoulder to Birds. "It's been very useful so far."
  • Cerin walks with her to the Gilmeyne room, very reassured by her hand in his
  • Markuran follows Zahara and Cerin to the dancing room, looking perturbed
  • Zahara waits til Cerin sits, then settles herself on his lap amidst the pillows, which happen to be the only furniture.
  • Markuran looks down at Birds with a raised eyebrow

<BirdsOfTrinity> "So, Cerin, you're not dumb, so I suspect that you're not exactly...in the infiltrating mood any longer. Yesno?"

  • Zahara smiles slyly, "I believe he's found better reasons to stay."
  • Birds-of-Trinity glances ostentatiously at Zahara's chest.
  • Zahara inhales
  • Cerin smiles widely and kisses her cheek "I have. I have not been ..infiltrating you since shortly after you first visited Rathess"

<Markuran> "For what were you to infilitrate us?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity lounges on a large cushion and plucks idly at a lute that she found on the floor.

<Cerin> "I do not know exactly, I was merely told to infiltrate you at first. I was to stop you visiting Rathess, and to stop you uniting the lands to the north under your rule. Rathess was a little beyond my abilities, and by the time it became an issue, I had no desire to stop your take over"

<Markuran> "Why were you listening to this Lai?"

<Cerin> "Because for much of the last two years I've been a member of the Order of the Red Lily"

<Markuran> "And who is the master of that? Lai?"

  • Zahara squeezes his hand, "He had yet to discover that the Order was not the best way."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "So I fuess you're not exactly in his best graces at the moment."

<Cerin> "I believe he is highly placed in it. He is a powereful Exalt, and his master is the god of the Chanta Blossoms"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Being that he probably thinks you're bungling assignments north, south, east, and west."

<Markuran> "What is he doing this far south, then?"

<Cerin> "The Red Lily has interests all over Creation. I have been on missions for them in all the cardinal directions. They fully plan to rule Creation"

<Zahara> "Before we united the lands to the north, however, we were able to both send and extract information from the Order."

  • Zahara waits for a response before continuing

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Extract."

<Markuran> "How?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What sort of...extractions have you made, precisely?"

<Zahara> "Both Cerin and Bertrand had a method of sending letters to and from Lai. We used that, along with the fact he didn't know that they'd been.. converted to our side."

<Zahara> "Firstly, we recieved notice of when the Order plans to invade the Sunlands."

<Markuran> "When is that? Maybe the same time the Realm does?"

<Zahara> "20, Descending Water, in the coming year. But we must not give them reason to believe we know."

<Cerin> "The Realm will probably have been defeated by then, but not for long"

<Markuran> "We still don't know how long until the Realm attacks."

<Markuran> "But I believe the Order will set the Realm on us and let them wear us down before attacking us themselves."

  • Zahara nods, "It seems to be what they are doing, yes."
  • Cerin nods

<Zahara> "I wonder if the Order has operatives within the Realm, as well."

<Markuran> "They must, for the Dynast said they await Lai's weapons."

<Cerin> "It would not suprise me in the slightest if they did"

<Cerin> "Beyond Lai's weapon dealing"

  • Zahara nods, "They could be influencing them further than with just the weapons." she ponders setting Lucien on the Realm..

<Zahara> "And Secondly," she says, looking over her shoulder at Cerin, "We told them our secret weakness."

  • Cerin smiles at her "We did"

<Markuran> "What weakness is that?"

  • Zahara smiles slightly, "He told Lai that he was faking his love for me, and would drive me insane with jealousy when the time was right. And that my anger would split the Circle into shards. We would be divided, and set against one another."
  • Birds-of-Trinity plucks an unpleasant chord and looks up. "That's...not difficult to believe, Zee."

<Zahara> "That's why it's so perfect."

  • Birds-of-Trinity shrugs. Zahara's a better liar them she is.

<BirdsOfTrinity> Therefore it must be a lie.

<Markuran> "Well, all this is fascinating, truly...but I believe we were going to investigate the flying demon-beasts that we went to war against in ages past?"

<Markuran> "Since it seems you two have taken care of this all by yourselves."

  • Zahara sighs, slightly annoyed. "Yes."

<Markuran> "Cerin can explain to Birds while they scout and Zahara to me while we forge and everyone will be informed and ready to begin our journey."

Birds-of-Trinity meets Cerin at the gateway. He is already present when she arrives, weighed down with a large satchel and a long, unwieldy bundle.

  • Cerin smiles at her "what is in there?" he asks, his voice conveying his curiousity

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, just some things. Loaves, meat pies, swords..."

<Cerin> "meat pies? swords?" he raises an eyebrow

<BirdsOfTrinity> "A good scout is prepared for every occasion. This way, I have the appropriate response, regardless of whether we are invited to dinner or battle!"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "So, what are the coordinates for this place?"

  • Cerin feeds essence into the gate, activating it, then he punches in three characters "Those" as the ring swirls to full life

The gateway opens, as expected.

  • Cerin steps though
  • Birds-of-Trinity follows.

The two find themselves standing in a small room. The walls are made of thin, gracefully arced metallic poles, with various opaque glasses interspersed between. A doorway, with two large panes of glass within it, stands at the far side of the room.

  • Cerin lets out a very small gasp at the appearance of the room, looking about him before moving toward the door, keeping to the edge of the room
  • Birds-of-Trinity casually walks across the room and opens the doors.

The doors push open with a casual motion. As they open, Birds feels a strong breeze blow past -- and she finds herself looking out on the Aalorai city from 100 feet in the air.

  • Birds-of-Trinity gasps a bit, and steps aside so Cerin can get a look.
  • Cerin moves over to the door too, and looks out. he gasps too.

The city beneath is built upon the same soaring, swooping lines as the portal room.

Most of it seems to consist of similar, ridged towers, ranging from 50 to 150 feet in height.

<alsoquin> Other buildings are shorter and odder shaped.

At one end of the island, a massive crystalline tower can be seen, reaching seemingly thousands of feet straight up.

  • Cerin slowly increases the essence about him, granting him enhanced perceptions as he looks about for signs of life or essence

From his vantage point, Cerin detects no obvious sources of either.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What do you say we descend to the ground?"

  • Cerin nods "There does not appear to be anyone watching"
  • Cerin looks down the building they are on. no stairs but...yes...with care the same lines that gave the building their distinctive appearance would allow him to get down...
  • Birds-of-Trinity leans forward until she falls headfirst off the building. At the last possible moment, she reaches out a hand in front of her, does a cartwheel in the air, and tumbles to a seat. She waits for Cerin to climb down.

<Cerin> With essence enhancing his natural balence, he starts to run along the inch wide designs, descending the building, occasionally leaping to reach another bit of the pattern. soon he joins Birds on the ground

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I guess I'll have to use your method to get back up, eh."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Can you see anything now that we're on the ground?"

<Cerin> "It would be quite a leap otherwise. Shall we explore more?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity stands up, nodding.

Closer to the ground, the city's shape is rendered clearer.

Wide... roadways cut through it, though they are not smoothed in any way, holding the natural terrain of the island. The buildings of metal and glass rise up as if drawn directly out of the ground itself, often with no visible means of entry upon the ground floor. Behind where the Solars stood within the portal chamber, two obvious sights are visible --

What appears to be a great open-air ampitheater to the northeast, and occupying much of the northwestern side of the island, a large section of land that appears to bear no buildings whatsoever, but rather elaborate machinery, seemingly built to dig into the earth itself. It is surrounded by numerous piles of dirt and earth, and several tunnels seem to have been dug already.

  • Cerin starts to walk around the building, senses alert. If he sees no signs of life, he speaks to Birds "To the tower, or the amphitheatre or that?" he gestures to the construction site

To the west, there is also visible a crescent-shaped, squat building, and to the east a taller, wide building with elaborate constructions snaking out of its sides in several places.

  • Birds-of-Trinity looks that way. "It looks to me like the amphitheatre is empty."
  • Birds-of-Trinity soft of shrugs in the direction of the construction site.
  • Cerin nods "We should be carefu, thouggh" he starts to move towards the construction site, trying to keep to the shadows where he can
  • Birds-of-Trinity does the same, though she takes advantage of her ability to leap against the air to completely avoid leaving footprints, as well.

The construction area seems to occupy a great deal of space upon the island; its delineation is obvious only by the lack of buildings, since the ground is completely undeveloped. As the Solars grow closer, it becomes clear that there are a great deal of tunnels and holes -- hundreds upon hundreds. Only a few seem to have relevant machinery next to them, however.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "It looks like they are mining. Think we can figure out what they're after in there?

<Cerin> "Perhaps. Though if it is mine, it is one of the strangest I have seen."

  • Cerin calls his anima about him, muting the already light traces he leaves on the world and he starts toward the machine to study it closer
  • Birds-of-Trinity examines the machines and tunnels more carefully.

The machine itself seems to be some sort of elaborate digging mechanism -- it has a great shining glass drill bit that has clearly been used to bore some of these tunnels.

The tunnels themselves seem to go straight down to begin with, but then bend and turn once underground. Clearly things have been mined and extracted out of the walls, though there is no evidence of tools for such a purpose.

<alsoquin> Suddenly, Cerin hears faint sounds coming from within one of the more recent tunnels.

<Cerin> "down there? no, wait, I hear something coming, we should seek better cover."

  • Cerin melts into the shadows around the end of the tunnel, holding himself very still as he waits
  • Birds-of-Trinity ducks into another tunnel mouth.

Moments after the two Solars hide themselves, they can hear louder sounds -- a flapping, and occasionally a slight scratching -- coming from the tunnel. After a second, a form emerges, and they get their first glimpse of an aalorai.

  • Cerin studies both its essence and its physical form as it moves past

The most basic form of the creature is that of a man, though slightly shorter. From there it deviates greatly, however. The aalorai's form is built entirely of gleaming metal, edged and jagged in many places. It posesses eight arms, four where each one arm appears on a human. Six great wings jut from its back, each looking as if it could sever a person's head with a single swipe. Its two deep eyesockets glow a deep, disturbing crimson. In one hand, it holds what seems to be a small, featureless metal sphere, about ten inches in diameter.

Cerin notes the being's Essence -- as powerful as one of the Solars.

It is clearly a being of a kind to the Dragon-Kings.

After a second, the aalorai launches itself into the air, and begins to fly off. Its path seems to be taking it directly towards the massive crystalline tower in the south.

Once it is some distance away Cerin moves towards Birds "That creatures command of essence matches our own. And I believe it was holding a sphere of the type Herons wished for us to retrieve"

  • Birds-of-Trinity murmurs to Cerin, "Should we follow it?"
  • Cerin gives a little shake of his head "I dont think we can keep up. Perhaps we can have a look down here, this may be where the spheres come from"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Good thinking."

  • Cerin selects one of the newer tunnels and starts to pick his way down it slowly, all senses fully extended

Cerin notices the traces of Essence that seem to run through the walls of this tunnel; it is as if the very ground is charged with it. It is unevenly distributed, seeming to collect in pools within the earth. The walls of the tunnel are almost perfectly smooth, with no markings or holes.

  • Cerin frowns at the essence lines, though he presses on further
  • Birds-of-Trinity raises an eyebrow at the walls before going deeper in.

As he reaches further down the tunnel, something odd happens to the Essence patterns -- there are places which should have pools of Essence, but instead they seem to have empty spaces....

  • Cerin points to one. He speaks in a low whisper "there is something ..missing from there"

<Cerin> "I think those spheres will form here."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hm. Do you think we can find some if we go in farther?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I think that if Herons wants one of these then we should take some of our own. I'm sure you and Zahara can learn something exciting from them."

<Cerin> "I think we might, though perhaps this is why the need so many tunnels, only the new ones have such spheres in them.."

<Cerin> "I fully plan to take more than one"

<Cerin> "deeper? or should we save our theft until we are ready to leave?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Thieves now or thieves later, we are still thieves. Let's not put it off; something might...get in our way...later."

  • Cerin nods and proceeds in deeper

Proceeding deeper in, Cerin discovers places where the Essence still pools -- some where it seems to have reached a critical mass, and swirls within the locus oddly

<Cerin> "I think we're getting closer to the spheres, these seem to be almost ...ready."

Veins of metal can be faintly seen running through the surfaces of the tunnel.

  • Cerin leaves the swirls for the moment, wanting to move deeper. He has some ideas for what to do if no more can be found though...

After a point, the swirls seem to reach a ceiling -- they become no more energetic, though they continue to appear. They seem to be a less than a foot into the rock.

<Cerin> "these seem to be ready. for whatever they do." he ponders the spheres...

  • Birds-of-Trinity takes out her glass weapon and pokes one.

There is a slight "ting!" noise.

  • Birds-of-Trinity smiles.

<Cerin> "this is no time to play a tune birds.." he reaches out to touch one softly

It feels ever so slightly warm to the touch.

  • Cerin gently tries to lift it from the wall

It seems to be firmly affixed.

<Cerin> "It doesnt appear to come out..hmmm"

  • Cerin does something he may well regret. he feeds a mote into the sphere.

It seems to happily absorb the Solar energy, though it remains affixed to the rock.

  • Cerin offers some more, trying to spark a reaction

The Essence within the sphere begins to swirl a little bit quicker, though again it remains affixed to the wall.

  • Cerin tries offering essence to the metal channel

The lines of metal lining the tunnel seem generally inert.

  • Cerin frowns "I think we might have to observe one of the Aalorai at work.."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'm not good at disappearing. You may need to do that on your own."

  • Cerin nods "We should leave then, I dont think we can do anything down here until an Aalorai comes."

Tags: (:tags Aalorai, Red Lily, Lai Misuna, Herons, Gilmyne:)

< Exalt Chitchat | Sol Invictus Logs | Marku and Zahara Craft >