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..

  • Cerin settles down lightly on a couch next to Zahara, and nods "So where shall we go next?"
  • Kai has been withdrawm for the length of the trip, perhaps even sullen. "Thank you, Zahara. I'm sorry you had to bear the brunt of my misfortune. If there is anything I can do to help--with anything--please ask." She pauses for a moment. "No collars."

<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."

  • Birds sets down the pile of letters she has been writing, and sends Smoking Mirror out of the room on some mission, to listen more attentively.

<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> "Hm?

  • Birds gasps a little.

<Kai> Oh on, it's not in the sword."

<Kai> "Not as far as I know."

  • Zahara smiles slightly. "If you will actually let go of it for a moment, I could tell you for sure."
  • Kai draws the blade, and hands it to Zahara.

<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.

  • Kai leans back a bit from the whirling flaming metal. "Uhm... It's never done THAT before, I'm pretty sure."
  • Cerin regards the black fire with curiousity, watching the way it distorts the flows of the manse, and those emanating from the Exalts, using that to hone his vision further.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "...that is...disturbing."

  • Zahara quirks a brow at the black fire, dipping into the catalogue of her mind for other items related to Adjoran that have done things of the sort, and studying the patterns of the flames as they move. "There are many things you seem to have missed about your sword, Kai. Soon we shall put that right."

<Zahara> "I assume you know what the inscription says?"

<Kai> "Cerin read it for me, actually."

  • Cerin nods absently "The channels within the blade are exquisite. Very complex ... some let the blade feed on others, still more all lead down to here." He gestures at the hilt. "That is where it stores souls."
  • Zahara wills the sword to slow enough that she can point to the crossbar, "You can see, here, is where the center of the design lies. Yes, I think you're right. It has one stored right now." she nods thoughtfully. "Hmm we should find out who it is."
  • Birds squints at the rotating inscription.
  • Zahara points to an intricate channel along the edge of the blade, "Here I see it's focused on affecting, well, whatever you hit with it. This one alongside the soul channels."

<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?"

  • Kai tries her best not to look furtive. "Yes."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Those words are not the only inscription there."

<Cerin> "What, Birds?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Cerin, you see the code?"

  • Zahara looks briefly at Cerin, then back at Kai, opens her mouth to ask about it, then turns to Birds, "A secret code?"
  • Cerin gives a brief shake of his head.
  • Birds grabs some paper and copies the inscription onto it, then reaches for a piece of red chalk.
  • Birds suddenly realises what Kai just said.

<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?"

  • Birds passes around the copy, with the encoded message marked in red.
  • Kai peers at it for a moment. "Uhm... Would you mind reading it... I can only get about half, and I don't think I want to misunderstand."

<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." "

  • Zahara absently taps her fingers lightly against one of the collars that jingle pleasantly around her neck. "Skalexis Shadewright.. so that is the name of the soul in the sword."

<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> "Summarize."

<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?

  • Kai puts two fingers to her forehead and concentrates for a moment. "He can't, but he might know where to learn how. As for his life... Uhm, I guess I didn't ask too much. I was kind of distracted, after all, and he doesn't talk about himself too much."

<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."

  • Zahara nods thoughtfully, then turns to the sword and says pleasantly. "Arexus Jonai, you seem to have awakened to the rest of us this day, and I apologize for speaking about you while you are, per se, in the room."

<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."

  • Birds nods.

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."

  • Markuran throws open the trap door at the far end of the room and climbs up from below. "They said you'd all be in he...why is the sword on fire?"
  • Birds sits Marku down. "We're talking to him."

<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."

<Markuran> "Him?"

<Cerin> "The sword." Cerin says absently

<Cerin> "Well, the soul within the sword."

<Markuran> "The sword's alive?"

<Markuran> "Oh."

<Kai> "The soul in the sword. Arexus Jonai, is his name."

<ArexusJonai?> "Only two? That's fewer than I'm used to."

  • Markuran frowns.

<Cerin> "There is the Lily, too."

<Markuran> "I hate living swords."

  • Zahara smiles slightly, "Well I'm sure there are more as well. Such as the Lily," she agrees. "But tell me, do you know of a way to..hmm..break your bond with Adjoran's souls?"

<Kai> "It's not alive, he's just trapped in it."

<ArexusJonai?> "I don't know that I can make them uninterested in the sword. I might be able to help you find a way to banish them."

<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."

<ArexusJonai?> "I might be able to assist with that as well."

  • Arexus Jonai? hums a little song which has not been heard for thousands of years.

<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."

  • Kai makes a not of the tune, and will try playing it later.

<ArexusJonai?> "I expect so. You are clearly a woman after my own heart."

<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."

<ArexusJonai?> "Indeed. One can never have too many allies...."

  • Zahara looks up from the sword, "Would anyone else like to speak?"

<Markuran> "I think Cerin should start watching out for that Sword. It's like Zahara, but sharp all over."

  • Zahara smiles to the sword, "True Allies are worth more than gold."
  • Cerin smiles at Reaver, then tilts his head as he thinks. "No, while I have questions, there are more important matters."

<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?"

  • Zahara bids Arexus farewell and regretfully hands him back to Kai.

<Markuran> "The South sounds fun."

  • Kai seems relieved to have the blade back in her hands.

<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"

  • Zahara sighs.

<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.

  • Markuran snorts.

<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.

  • Zahara looks to Cerin, "So, do you have a plan for this?"
  • Cerin nods. "Myself and the dragonblooded knock out the guards on board the flagship of the Realm's fleet, then you all get on board while I take out all the harbour guns. Then we sail her out of here. They'll maybe notice come the morning."

<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..."

  • Zahara blinks at Marku, "Dancer costumes?"

<Kai> "Uhm..."

<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."

  • Markuran sighs.
  • Zahara shifts her clothing into a rather dashing pirate's outfit, like the one the great Admiral Soandso had worn in a painting she'd seen. "I already have an outfit."
  • Cerin smiles and kisses her.
  • Zahara plops a tiny pirate's hat on Reaver's head
  • Zahara grins and kisses back.

<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 sighs.

<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 smiles once more at Zahara, and then he vanishes.

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.

  • Cerin slips out of the window and across the streets, leaping lightly from rooftop to rooftop, most of the ninjae behind him, eventually stopping once more on a rooftop overlooking the docks. He beholds his prize, the ship Ahina said was the pride of the Realm's Navy ... casting his eyes about. Hmmm. This poses some small problem.

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...

  • Kai looks away sharply. "Oh! Well..."
  • Zahara catches a good look at The Ass, then regards the deposited clothing balefully.

<Zahara> "I don't suppose we could rid The Ass of the ass, hmm?"

  • Cerin whispers to the ninja "Move around to that side of the docks." He indicates the far side from the fighting. "When I give the signal, swarm up the sides, keeping low. I'm going to do something about the guns."
  • A Gaggle Of Ninjas? nods.
  • Cerin then runs along the rooftops, a whisper and a dream above the fighting below, heading for the first of the two immense towers that held the port defence ordinance. He scales the side in windblown leaps, his feet catching in the gaps between the stones, slipping into the first gunport ...

A trio of guards squwack and reach for their swords.

(scratch that)

A trio of guards do nothing!

  • Cerin smiles to himself. His bowstring strums three times. The three guards fall to the floor. Cerin stands there in a pool of red silk for a few moments, and then he exits the room.
  • Zahara accidentally kicks the clothes over the side.
  • Zahara watches them as they sink.

<Kai> "Great, now i won't be able to look at him all night."

  • Cerin returns to the room breifly, slicing certain leads and carefully disabling certain components.

Cerin's ninjas find themselves in position, by the side of the docks; the fight rages on nearby.

  • Cerin then climbs the tower. In each room, the same thing happens, the guards are knocked out, the great guns sabotaged.

<Zahara> "For all his other flaws, he's not THAT bad to look at. Especially when he turns around."

  • Kai coughs. "Ehrm, yeah, but I'd never be able to look him in the eyes again."

<Zahara> "Sure you could. Just pretend they're on his butt cheeks."

Cerin thoroughly sabotages the ranged defenses.

  • Kai opens her mouth to speak, finds herself unable to compose anything reasonable, and closes it again.
  • Zahara grins
  • Cerin walks out of the second tower, concealing essence wrapped around him, and makes his way along the rooftops to the flagship. When he is waiting at it's side, he draws out the small handmirror, the sunlight flashing across to the ninja.
  • A Gaggle Of Ninjas? springs into action!!!
  • Cerin leaps onboard himself, finding the nearest way down, heading for the captain's cabin
  • A Gaggle Of Ninjas? cuts through the decks of the ship, rendering unconscious any and all sailors who stand in their way!

Most of the crew seems to be absent, possibly due to the ruckus on the docks.

Cerin finds the captaion's cabin empty.

  • Cerin sweeps the ship, checking that all who need to be knocked out, are, inspecting the ship, paying special attention for any spirits that might be resident.

None appear to be.

  • Cerin tells the ninja to be ready to cut the mooring ropes.
  • A Gaggle Of Ninjas? nods enthusiastically!
  • Cerin sets himself in the Pilot's Position, then carefully feeds it essence.

The ship begins to move.

  • Cerin gestures to the ninja, then wills more power to the engines, backing away from the docks with as much speed as the great ship can muster
  • A Gaggle Of Ninjas? cuts the ropes and the ship pulls away from the docks!

The massive crowd fighting on the dock suddenly have their attention drawn to the ship which appears to be stealing itself.

  • Cerin starts to pilot the ship out of the docks!
  • Kai notes the commotion. "Oh. We should probably go."
  • Cerin carefully sails the ship alongside the less military dockside. Ahina throws a ladder over the side

<Zahara> "Indeed." she ascends to the ship's deck, not needing the ladder.

  • Markuran notes that the ship Cerin was headed for seems to be leaving, as he surfaces from his swim. Nodding to himself the big Zenith strokes powerfully toward the docks where the fighting is taking place. Down, down, down until he reaches the bottom where massive pilings support the docks. Blinking his eyes to see through dark, murky water, Marku ponders...
  • Kai climbs gingerly onto the deck.

<Cerin> "... Where is Marku?"

<Zahara> "Skinnydipping, almost."

  • Markuran surfaces just long enough to yank a sturdy length of mooring rope from a small five-person boat. With a massive grunt that takes the form of a typhoon of bubbles, the big man holes and hauls the boat down into the water with him. The soldiers atop the docks are even more surprised to see one of the piers explode into splinters as the spontaneously sunken ship becomes an underwater battering ram in the hands of a probably-ins

<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."

  • Markuran finishes with his swim and joins the others on the boat, dripping wet and looking about for his clothes. "Zahara...where are my clothes?"

<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."

  • Zahara shrugs. "I watched them as they sank."
  • Kai looks pointedly away from Markuran.
  • Markuran glowers, folding his arms over his chest.
  • Zahara smiles sweetly.

Tags: (:tags Undomon, Daybreaker, First and Forsaken Lion, Arexus Jonai, Realm, Civil War, Marax-do, Unbreakable Bond, Ninjas :)

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