After their close call in Juche, narrowly escaping death at the hands of 3rd Circle demon Reshina and her Hundredfold cohorts, the Solars return to the Sunlands to plan their next move.
The forest looks to be in a slightly better state than the soggy, charred mess it was when they left.
Markuran goes to tend to the children of the forest, while the others retire to the Cascade.
<Zahara> "Well, now that we know a little more of what we'll be facing, I think we need to take steps to better defend ourselves... I shall search all the archives available to me to learn how to banish such creatures, but this just highlights the need to finish gathering the ingredients as soon as possible..
<Zahara> "That brings up a good point. They were there for your sword, Kai. Why?"
<Cerin> "Because it is a very special sword. We all know that." Cerin says softly.
<Kai> "Well, there's more than that..."
<Zahara> "Then please tell us. We deserve to know." she pauses. "*I* deserve to know."
<Kai> "It was a... a focus? In a failed summoning ritual, a long long time ago. I believe the, uhm, recipient of the summoning would rather like to have it."
<Zahara> "How did you find out?"
<Kai> "Well, the demons were a big hint." she looks to Cerin. "That's how we met, if you remember. But I do get impressions from it, from the sword. Not a lot, but that part's pretty clear to me."
<Zahara> "And who exactly was this that was..not quite summoned? And where is he or she now?"
<Cerin> "Somewhere to the south of Juche, at a guess. That is where Reshina fled."
<Kai> "Undomon? Is that one you know of? As for where... Well, you'd know more about where these things live than me, I'd wager."
<Zahara> "Oh, so you've got the fetich soul of Adjoran lurking half-aware in your sword? That would have been nice to know earlier." she says drily.
<Kai> Oh on, it's not in the sword."
<Kai> "Not as far as I know."
<Zahara> "Cerin, if you will assist me with your perceptions, Kai with your connection to the blade, and Birds, with your knowledge, I would have you all gather close, and concentrate on the blade. Together, we will discover its mysteries more thoroughly than I could alone." She opens her palms, and the blade rises to hover before her, rotating slowly in place.
As the Exalts examine the sword, it suddenly begins to blaze with black fire, and spin along its central axis more and more quickly.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "...that is...disturbing."
<Zahara> "I assume you know what the inscription says?"
<Kai> "Cerin read it for me, actually."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hm." Smoking Mirror comes back, carrying a bundle of now-superfluous quill pens.
<Kai> "Uhm... Well, I KNOW who it is."
<Zahara> "Who, then?"
<Kai> "The sorceror who tried to summon the thing in the first place."
<Zahara> "Ah, and was it you that drew his soul in?"
<Kai> "ME? Oh, no, it was like that when I found it. He's been in there a loooong time."
<Zahara> "Have you spoken to him?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Those words are not the only inscription there."
<Cerin> "What, Birds?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Cerin, you see the code?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You TALKED to him? Wow! What did he say?!"
<Cerin> "That is an interesting inscription."
<Kai> "Well, I haven'y been writing it all down..."
<Kai> "What does it say?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Forged from the bones of the dead god Abbaron, quenched in the blood of the hero Ularis, Daybreaker shall cast the Sun from the sky and burn the souls of the living with cleansing fire. When the blade has drunk its full, it shall grow strong and bring about the end of all things. -- Skalexis, Shadewright"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "The other side is more... concise."
<Cerin> "And then "FIRST FORSAKEN LION." "
<Kai> "Uhm... Well. That's... Not really a good thing to say..." To Zahara: "No, that's not him."
<Zahara> "Then who is it? And what did he say?" She signals to Cerin that he should..listen to everything.
<Kai> "Arexus Jonai is his name. And he... I mean, it's not like I only spoke to him once. He was kind of my only company for a little while."
<Zahara> "You can leave out the 'nice weather out today' parts."
<Kai> "Uhm... Well, he's a sorceror, or was, an age ago." pause, "Maybe literally. He tried to bind a demon, I guess Undomon. It didn't go well, and he ended up in the sword. I mean, if you want the short biography, that's it."
<Zahara> "I don't suppose he knew how to banish third circle demons?"
<Zahara> "Any interesting bits in the longer biography?
<Cerin> "We know of a First and Forsaken Lion. He is the principle deathlord of the south, and it was he who turned the Equation loose, in all probability."
<Kai> "Hm. So it's his sword? Originally?"
<Cerin> "Possibly. I could not say. But that is who the First and Forsaken Lion is ..."
<Kai> Quietly: "Well, let's not tell him we have it."
The sword floats over into Zahara's hand, and she grasps it instinctively. The blade continues to burn, but the handle is cool to the touch. She hears the voice, gravelly, in her head. "You are forgiven. Zahara Zahn, I presume?"
<Zahara> "I am She. Have you been aware of the things that have gone on around you, other than what Kai has said to you?"
"I have... some awareness. Much less than I once possessed."
<Zahara> "Then you know that we are all in Grave Danger." she intones the capitols onto the words. "And that you are sought by--at least--two powerful beings."
<Cerin> "The sword." Cerin says absently
<Cerin> "Well, the soul within the sword."
<Markuran> "The sword's alive?"
<Kai> "The soul in the sword. Arexus Jonai, is his name."
<Cerin> "There is the Lily, too."
<Markuran> "I hate living swords."
<Kai> "It's not alive, he's just trapped in it."
<Zahara> "I can banish the lesser souls, but I have yet to discover how to banish the Third Circle, as you may have noticed earlier."
<Zahara> "Also of interest would be some way to combat the Hundredfold specifically. They come in quite large numbers, and can become very annoying."
<Zahara> "Excellent. I only wish we had more time to simply speak of the Craft, Arexus. I'm sure there is much we could share with eachother."
<Zahara> ::Reaver crawls in on his many legs, and claws his way up Zahara's dress to sit on her shoulder and nip her ear.:: She pats him absently, considering some sort of metallic ear guard. "Of course, bringing them to our side is also an option I would like to explore."
<Markuran> "I think Cerin should start watching out for that Sword. It's like Zahara, but sharp all over."
<Zahara> "And here I thought you liked me, Marku."
<Markuran> "I decided you aren't always a heartless evil monster. But you still insulted me when you said my roast eel was worse then being attacked by a rampaging Neomah."
<Zahara> "I don't *like* eel."
<Cerin> "So where shall we go next? to the North or South or West or to one of the other Realms?"
<Markuran> "The South sounds fun."
<Zahara> "Does anyone have protection against Fire?"
<Cerin> "Not against the fires of deepest South."
<Zahara> "I can infuse our garments with the touch of Ice, but I fear it will not be enough to stave off the Elemental Pole."
<Zahara> "Can the Lunar turn into some creature that can withstand it?"
<Cerin> "Perhaps we can send Relovia on a quest."
<Kai> "I can turn my skin to bronze, that would help a bit."
<Zahara> "Hmm Relovia may be aspected of Fire, but I doubt even she has the ability to venture to the pole. Kai may be our best choice. If you wear enchanted clothes, or perhaps armor, to keep you cold, it may work."
<Markuran> "Well, we can go West. Swimming's not hard for anyone."
<Kai> "It is if your skin's made of bronze."
<Zahara> "Breathing water might be more difficult." she notes drily.
<Cerin> "We will need to find a boat. Perhaps we can steal one from the Realm's navy."
<Markuran> "There are these weird kind of fish, they live in the bottom of our lake. If you stick your head inside their mouthes, they breathe for you."
<Markuran> "Of course, they die in a few minutes and they start contracting and they get stuck..."
<Zahara> "The Xi-Mi-Taxi?"
<Markuran> "And THEN you suffocate"
<Markuran> "But you don't suffocate as fast."
<Zahara> "Thank you for that helpful suggestion."
<Zahara> "Someone fetch the Lunar. She can turn into one of those fish for Marku."
<Cerin> "I am sure we can obtain a boat from the Realm's navy. I'm sure in some of the stories Ahina has shared with me she mentioned boats of First age make within their arsenels."
<Markuran> "Her name is Serenal. And she's never going to become a person if you don't treat her like one."
<Zahara> "Since when do you think she's a person?"
<Markuran> "I don't. But she is trying to become one. You're not helping."
<Zahara> "I've been much nicer to her in person than you have." she says reproachfully.
<Zahara> "Anyway, let's go West first. Cerin's right, we can steal a boat rather easily."
<Markuran> "Right. I'll bring my swimming things."
<Kai> "I'll not turn into bronze."
<Zahara> "Save the Bronze for later, I'm sure it will come in handy... besides, on second thought, Bronze has a rather low melting temperature."
<Cerin> "I will go and talk to the dragonblooded."
<Zahara> "Oh. I suppose we could ask nicely first."
<Kai> "Higher than flesh, I'd wager."
<Zahara> "Oh yes." she says knowingly.
<Zahara> "Marku, will you speak with Serenal-the-person please?"
<Cerin> "And ask Relovia if she will accompany her too."
A short time later, the Solars begin their ship heist.
<Markuran> "We could use Zahara, Birds and Kai as a distraction. I can kill some of those big seabirds and make some borbor dancer costumes..."
<Markuran> "Yeah, you know? Those things the women were wearing two weeks ago during that big celebration. You asked if they had a skin condition."
<Zahara> "I most certainly will not wear costumes that make me look like I have a skin condition!"
<Cerin> "Markuran, my plan has no need for a distraction. A distraction creates considerably more notice than I intended."
<Zahara> "Good luck, love. Call if you need us."
<Zahara> "Actually, take Marku. I'm sure he can be quiet. And he looks like he's anxious to knock some heads in."
<Markuran> "I'd rather swim."
<Cerin> "Marku would not know subtlty if it snuck up behind him and knocked him on the head." he says softly.
<Zahara> "Fine, fine, but if he stays here, I'm still not wearing any feathers."
<Markuran> "Because that wouldn't be very subtle of it. Obviously I'd mistake it for blunt tactlessness."
Cerin and his ninjae slip away, over towards the elaborately guarded Realm Naval Docks, where sizeable warships are resting.
<Markuran> "Watch these for me, will you Zahara?"
What he is surprised to see is the conflict that has broken out there, between what appear to be two fairly sizeable factions of men -- one led by a few Immaculate monks and Dragon-bloods wearing the Peleps mon, the other by Cathak forces with several of the lava-form Hundredfold in tow. Arrows fly everywhere and swords clash against one another loudly.
The /Unbreakable Bond/ gleams brightly in the sun, its gorgeous First Age manufacture contrasting sharply with the cheap wooden docks in which it is stationed.
<Zahara> "Watch what?"
<Markuran> "Thanks." Marku takes a few seconds to divest himself of the majority of his clothes and leave him in a pile at Zahara's feet before trotting off toward the water for a...swim...
<Zahara> "I don't suppose we could rid The Ass of the ass, hmm?"
A trio of guards squwack and reach for their swords.
A trio of guards do nothing!
<Kai> "Great, now i won't be able to look at him all night."
Cerin's ninjas find themselves in position, by the side of the docks; the fight rages on nearby.
<Zahara> "For all his other flaws, he's not THAT bad to look at. Especially when he turns around."
<Zahara> "Sure you could. Just pretend they're on his butt cheeks."
Cerin thoroughly sabotages the ranged defenses.
Most of the crew seems to be absent, possibly due to the ruckus on the docks.
Cerin finds the captaion's cabin empty.
None appear to be.
The ship begins to move.
The massive crowd fighting on the dock suddenly have their attention drawn to the ship which appears to be stealing itself.
<Zahara> "Indeed." she ascends to the ship's deck, not needing the ladder.
<Cerin> "... Where is Marku?"
<Zahara> "Skinnydipping, almost."
<Markuran> probably-insane warlord.
<Zahara> "Violently skinnydipping."
<Kai> "Oh my."
The other Solars here the pier violently shatter as Marku unleashes boat-based vengeance upon it.
<Zahara> "I suppose that's one way to avoid choosing a side."
<Zahara> "You know that pier you just smashed?"
<Zahara> "They fell off it."
<Markuran> "You threw away my clothes?"
<Markuran> "I knew you liked looking at my rear, but that's just uncalled for."
Tags: (:tags Undomon, Daybreaker, First and Forsaken Lion, Arexus Jonai, Realm, Civil War, Marax-do, Unbreakable Bond, Ninjas :)