In a small corner room of the Manse, the outcast Sidereal Herons lies in a bed, continuing his convalescence. Beyond his wounds, he seemed to be suffering from some sort of magical disease which proved rather more difficult to eradicate; he's been bed-bound since his discovery. Cerin and Zahara enter to speak with him.
Herons coughs a little and looks up at the visitors. "Hello, Cerin."
Herons: "What brings you to my bedside this morning?"
<Zahara> "We wish, of course, to inquire after your health. Have you had any luck discovering what it is that continues to burn in your blood?"
Herons: "I am guessing it stems from one of the circles of Spiritual Diseases. I know some who have mastered their ways, but I am not among them." *koff* "I don't expect that it is life-threatening, however."
<Zahara> "Is it catching?"
"I don't believe so."
<Zahara> "Hmm, good. We must find some sort of prevention for it in the future."
<Cerin> "That is something of a relief."
"For you, perhaps." *koff* Herons reaches over and takes a sip from a glass of water sitting next to his bed.
<Cerin> "We also need to know about the Crysanthamum Realm."
Herons nods. "I thought you might. What do you need to know?"
<Cerin> "We need to know how to get inside. And where your defences were, for surely they are theirs now. And where the Orrery is."
Herons reaches to the other side of the desk and retrieves some papers he had clearly written earlier. "There is a secret passageway, through the fountain in a small garden in the downward regions of the Isle. That will take you directly into the Chrysanthemum itself."
The paper is marked with directions and a mechanism for entering the passageway.
"You've seen some of our defenses first-hand. The building is also heavily enchanted with other magical defenses, but... you have protection against those." He gestures to Cerin's lapel.
<Cerin> "And if they have been modified? What are they?"
<Zahara> "Are there more of those? In case Cerin does not wish to go alone?"
"His pin will protect anyone who remains within two feet of him, unless he wills it not to."
<Cerin> ::You'll have to stay close to me love::
<Zahara> ::That shouldn't be a problem *amused*::
<Cerin> ::I haven't yet been able to locate the Eclipse pin.::
"As for the defenses themselves, we used our knowledge to the fullest. Essence drains, portals to nowhere, bound malevolent spirits. Nothing you shouldn't be able to handle."
<Cerin> Cael nods once more "And the Orrery?"
"It was previously located in the Grand Cupola at the center of the Chrysanthemum. You can probably determine better than I what has happened to it since."
<Cerin> "It moves? Under what dictates?"
"Traditionally, it moves in place only. It stood there for five thousand years without incident. When we were attacked, I rushed to protect it, but the cupola was full of thick smoke and I could see nothing; when it cleared, the Orrery was gone."
<Cerin> "You have no records of it having moved? I see."
<Cerin> "When we have found it, can you tell me how to read it?"
"It is... difficult. I can teach you, but not in an instant."
Herons thinks for a moment, then raises an eyebrow as he scrunches his face in thought.
"Perhaps you will remember better than I could teach you anyway."
<Zahara> "Why don't you give us the basics before we go?"
Herons gestures for Cerin to lower his head.
Herons places his hand upon cerin's temple and gazes at him intently. Cerin stares into the eyes and sees the stars falling... every single star, falling, falling, into a bottomless blackness... falling from the sky....
After a timeless moment, Cerin remembers quite suddenly himself, bloody sword lying at his side, breathing heavily, tears and blood mingling upon his face -- gazing into the stars, all of the stars, as they fell one by one... until they were all falling... turning around, seeing soldiers, HIS soldiers, descending from the great cupola to capture him... he snatched back up the bloody sword....
Suddenly Cerin is back in the present.
<Cerin> "Do you know which gods contributed to the attack?"
"I do not." He shakes his head sadly.
<Zahara> "Do you know which ones gave you the funky disease?"
"I am afraid I do not know that either. I discovered very little during the fight."
<Zahara> "I wonder what happened to your Aalori"
Herons sighs, very deeply. "Certainly it was freed."
<Zahara> "Did you train it?"
Herons looks pretty serious. "No."
<Zahara> "Oh. Allow me to say, That was a BAD idea."
Herons: "I will certainly remember that for the future." *KOFFKOFF*
<Cerin> "So what did you find out from it?"
"Nothing useful, in the time that we had it. I had hoped to be studying it more closely about now."
<Zahara> "You're not very useful, are you."
Herons coughs, then sighs, then coughs much much harder. "I have given Cerin the information he needs to access the Chrysanthemum and to use the Orrery. I can, as you say, be of little other use now." *koff*
<Zahara> "Alright. Well, don't die while we're gone, then."
<Cerin> "I hope you are better when we return." Cerin says, his expression suggesting that he has questions for Herons on his return. Then he follows Zee out.
Herons weakly raises his glass of water in toast to the Solars as they depart.
Cerin and Zahara prepare to pass through the portal into the Isles of Glass.
<Zahara> "Are you ready?" She asks, somewhat rhetorically.
<Zahara> ::From now on, we should speak only through these.:: she says through the rings.
<Cerin> ::That is wise. Stay close my love:: He steps through into the realms of glass
<Cerin> ::Hiding your weapons too will stretch me more than I wish.::
beyond the gateway, the realm of the Sidereals lies -- but not as Cerin remembers it. Its decorative gardens have been uprooted or burned. Its opalescent pavestones run red with blood. Soot stains its ornate golden buildings. Even the sky has turned a dark bluish-purple color.
The streets are unusually quiet and empty of life. Even the insects that previously flitted about are absent. The roads all remain intact, however, so Cerin can easily follow the directions to the fountain.
After carefully pressing a sequence of carefully hidden locations on the fountain it splits open into six pieces, the parts of the fountain moving through the air, creating a new series of gorgeous and carefully contained waterfalls as they move, until a passage leading downward ino a tunnel is revealed.
<Zahara> ::What are we looking for here?::
The hallway is dusty; it doesn't appear to have been used in some time.
The spirits make strange noises as the two pass, rather like a theremin.
<Cerin> ::We're following it through to the centre of their command dome. That is where the orrery was. From there we will find out where it went.:: Cerin holds onto Zahara, letting her footsteps a few inches above the dust leave it undisturbed
The hallway eventually ends at a large door, sprinkled with intricate iron latticework. Cerin's instructions have another elaborate process for opening it.
Approximately two seconds into opening the door, Cerin realizes that he's going to be surprised when he finishes.
<Cerin> ::Caution. Something is going to happen. No weapons yet.:: He finishes the subtle manipulations that will open the door.
The door swings open and Cerin is utterly unsurprised to see a vicious scimitar of black jade and starmetal swing out, stopping a hairsbreadth away from his throat.
<Cerin> ::If you would step backwards please.::
Around the corner, attached to the other end of the scimitar, is a woman in deep purple robes, with red hair pulled back behind her head. Cerin recognizes her immediately.
Ikara lowers Destiny's Price and steps into view. Her robes are torn and bloody in places, but she looks to be mostly intact. "Does this mean that Herons survived?"
<Zahara> ::Who is Ikara?::
<Cerin> ::She walked with me to Bi`Allah, the first time I visited there. Why does she want to know? Can your magic tell me?::
<Zahara> ::Somewhat. I could find out what she truly wants out of life, though. That would be interesting.::
<Cerin> :;It would.::
<Zahara> ::She basically wants to know if her boss is alive. Simply because he is her boss.::
<Cerin> "He did, though he is ill with a magical disease that is slowly weaving it's way about his essence."
"That's better than I expected, at least. I've been able to find very few of us alive, and at least 30 are dead."
Tags: (:tags Herons, Chrysanthemum, Orrery of Light, First Age Flashbacks, Ymir, Sidereals, Daybreaker, Aalorai, Isles of Glass, Ikara :)