<BirdsOfTrinity> "I look forward to meeting him some time, Kai."
<Kai> "Well, next time we're in Nexus, we'll stop in."
Birds notices a slight commotion near one of the gates -- a figure in reddish robes, apparently requesting admittance to the Manse.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What's that? Someone is at the gate."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Good morning!"
As the Solars approach, the figure finishes its conversation with the guards, who step aside to give it passage.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "The lords of the Sunlands welcome our guest. What business have you here, sir or madam?"
As the Solars approach, the figure pulls back its hood, revealing the bald head and severe features of the one and only Cathak Relovia.
<Cerin> "It is Relovia. She is an Immaculate Master we converted to our cause. Perhaps we could, though I can relay to you the conversation from here."
<Cerin> "Oh...they are coming inside. With bad news."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Cerin will indicate to the others where we are. Let's make haste."
<Zahara> "I love bad news." she says drily, regarding Relovia with curiosity.
Soon, all the circle are sitting in Marku's workshop, on the variety of cases, chests and chairs about the room.
<Cerin> "Ah Cathak Relovia, this Kai, Kai, This is Cathak Relovia"
<Kai> "Pleasure to meet you."
<Zahara> "I'm not entirely sure, actually." she regards Kai for a long moment. "But if not, there are ways to correct that."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Zee, you're so... forward."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "At any rate, Relovia, Kai is one of us."
<Zahara> "Well, if the information we are about to recieve is of a sensitive nature, it may not be best to have her here. If it merely important and not sensitive, then please go ahead."
<Zahara> "My statement remains. Relovia, is this information secretive or not?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Cerin's right. Maybe bringing Kai into the Unity of Dreams would assuage your worries, Zahara?"
<Cerin> "Kai, do you have any intention to betray us or our nation?"
<Zahara> "There are many forms of harm. Information in the wrong hands can be as deadly as a sword." she gives Cerin a meaningful look
<Kai> "None whatever."
<Cerin> "She speaks the truth."
<Relovia> "I bring two pieces of bad news.
<Zahara> "Truth or not, she came upon her power in a way that she should not, and until I find out who granted it to her, and how, I cannot trust her."
<Relovia> "First, open fighting has broken out upon the Blessed Isle. And second, a group of elite Dynasts, armed with incredible weapons and with the aid of mysterious allies, have already entered the Sunlands with the intention of wreaking havoc upon your people and lands."
<Cerin> "LAI! May he burn for all eternity in the fires of the sun.."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I am not a statesman, Relovia. Could you explain why the first news is bad?"
<Markuran> "It means that the Realm is no longer stable. And that much chaos will be caused as it struggles to shred itself to bits.
<Markuran> Smaller states will break away. Wars will rise. And the true threats to Creation will be ignored for selfish greed."
<Relovia> "Largely, I suspect that the armies of the Realm will spend themselves against one another, which will leave them no strength to fight the coming war."
<Zahara> "Aren't *we* considered a true threat to Creation?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "As for the Dynasts, we should remove those."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "How many are there, and what are these weapons?"
<Markuran> "Or take them. They will be an asset. We can ill-afford to waste trained lives in the face of what comes against us."
<Cerin> "Capture..kill..they cannot be allowed to roam."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We cannot trust that they are not prepared for us to do that to them, Marku."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I recommend a more decisive action."
<Zahara> "We should try to capture at least one, for information."
<Relovia> "I am uncertain how many. There are several groups of them, likely to have been sent to different areas. The weapons are unlike anything I have ever seen before... they tear the soul out from within."
<Zahara> "Ah, I have one of those. It's broken, however."
<Markuran> "Do the Monks come against us, Relovia?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I don't suppose that you can throw Erembour at them, Zee..."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Or Ligier. Ligier would be good."
<Zahara> "I've got Lucien around, but not those yet."
<Cerin> "What happened to the Palace Sublime?"
<Relovia> "A faction in pursuit of the throne has... strange allies. They percieved that the Order posed a threat to their plans. That accursed bitch Linaya convinced the Mouth of Peace to call a meeting of the Order's highest levels, supposedly so we could find a way to end the senseless fighting that had erupted. (...)
<Relovia> "With much of the Order gathered, they struck with the weapons I have described to you. We had little time to react. Cinerea and I managed to fight our way out, but most of the monks were slain where they stood. We were forced to retreat, though I was able to drag one of their number away and force him to admit to his purposes before he died. (...)
<Relovia> Afterwards, Cinerea brought me to a secret portal underneath the remnants of the Palace and instructed me as to its operation; that is how I was able to arrive here."
<Markuran> "And where is Cinerea now?"
<Relovia> "He stayed behind to search for survivors and gather what remained of the Order. He said he would contact me soon."
<Zahara> "Does he know you are working with us?"
<Relovia> "He did not identify you by name. He clearly knew I had allegiances beyond the Order, however."
<Cerin> "Well, that makes a certain amount of sense." He gestures to the portal locations on the map.
<Zahara> "It is a good thing I have been preparing for the war against the Dynasts."
<Cerin> "We should go, soon."
<Zahara> "I need to get some supplies. I'll meet you near the Wasps."
<Relovia> The Solars and Relovia regroup near one of the portals.
<Zahara> "We control one."
<Cerin> "And the principles of navigating by them are not hard to deduce."
<Relovia> "Did you discover the secret of their operation yourselves?"
<Zahara> "Cerin was the first of us to unlock one."
<Relovia> "Which area shall we strike at first?"
<Zahara> "Let's be off then. Treble the guard around our Gate while we are out."
<Relovia> The land beyond seems quiet and peaceful, in keeping with Melekin's typically reserved demeanor. A cool wind blows.
<Zahara> "Is that a rare seven-flecked purple-breasted egret?" she stares, wide-eyed at a vaguely purplish bird across the way. "I must have it!"
<Cerin> "Later my love, there is fighting to the north."
<Zahara> "No there's not." she advances in a vaguely catlike manner towards the bird
Quietly, Kai's solar sabre flicks into existence.
<Cerin> "There is fighting to the north, I swaer to you you, calling his bow, and shimering as he starts to flow like blood
<Cerin> "Very impressive, Marku." he looks the man up and down.
<Relovia> "We must hurry." Me begins to move northwards, swiftly.
<Cerin> "Then speed."
<Relovia> As the Solars move northwards, they all begin to hear the sounds -- of screaming, of steel upon steel, and of stranger things.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Sorry, Zee. I don't have the spiritual advancement to do this quietly yet."
<Kai> Mishkin follows quietly along, keeping to the trees.
<Zahara> "Nice blade, though." she smiles slightly
A few minutes of running later, they come upon the scene -- a moderately large village lies, burning, on the horizon. Tendrils of opaline energy flail up and about from the ground, in the air above the houses. Corpses lie all about the borders, while other villagers flee out onto the plains.
No Dynasts are visible from outside the village, though the tendrils continue to flail about.
<Zahara> "Okay, so you were right about the fighting to the North. I wouldn't advise getting close to those tendrils, though.. They'll rip out your soul like candy."
As Cerin enters the village, he sees a horrific sight -- a cackling Dynast with a massive crystalline object enveloping his arm. A tendril of energy shoots out of each of the six prongs which stick out of its front end. One of the tendrils strikes a fleeing villager and pulls out his soul with no effort -- it simply peels away and the body collapses, lifeless."
Markuran and Kai beat their foes thoroughly into the dirt, while Zahara successfully swoops down and collars hers. As Marku stands up again, however, the other two Dynasts come running towards him, tendrils at the ready. The arcs of Essence leap through the air to strike at Marku's soul.
As Zahara swoops down to collect her prize, she sees his lips begin to move, and he calls out -- "Come to us!"
<Relovia> Kai and Cerin both see something moving rapidly towards the city -- a swirling cloud of small, white objects, moving at a hefty speed.
<Zahara> "Something is *always* coming."
<Kai> "Something SPECIFIC!" She points off to the south.
<Cerin> "They are of hundredfold. Some of them have a greater command of essence than we do. I would advise against being caught in the open."
<Zahara> "We need to deactivate some of these Portals."
The buzzing grows louder and more ominous -- everyone can hear it now. The cloud is perhaps a mile away, now, but growing rapidly closer.
<Markuran> "Time to retreat." ducking past Cerin, Marku scoops the maimed Dragon-Blood up and hauls shiney and attractive ass through the Gate.
Cerin gets a good look at the oncoming beasts as he fires -- small spindles, made of what looks to be the purest white porcelain -- six insectoid wings beating frantically upon their backs, porcelain claws snapping below, vicious mandibles glowing with blue light.
The arrow flies up towards one of the larger, spinier porcelain beasts, which does not move to avoid it. The arrow strikes true, directly between the beast's mandibles -- and shatters into a thousand ting motes of light in a burst of blue flame.
The beast dodges from the path of the second arrow, but to no avail -- it strikes true regardless. There's a flash of brilliant blue light and one of gold and the beast swerves somewhat... pieces of porcelain tumble downwards towards the ground.
The swarm begins to descend upon the village, and Cerin can see their strangely beautiful forms all the clearer as they do.
One or two villagers manage to crawl through the gate before Cerin passes through it; no others seem to have survived.
<Zahara> "Thank you."
<Markuran> "Ancient beings of evil from before humanity."
<Zahara> "Of porcelain, it seems."
<Cerin> "They are strange creatures. Remnants of those who made creation. And they are not nessarily evil, Marku."
<Relovia> "And what in Creation were they doing there?"
<Cerin> "They appear to be working with the Dynasty teams."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I feel the chronicler's need to state the obvious."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "This is perhaps the worst thing I can imagine happening."
<Markuran> "We will hear and respond swiftly and with the Power of the Sun. Do you understand?"
<Cerin> "I stuck one of them with the feedback arrows too. It was not seriously affected. My normal arrows shattered to sunlight on it's carapace, though it cost it no small quantity of essence."
<Cerin> "Wolves of Stone? Mostly likely, yes. Can you describe them further?"
<Relovia> "They were dark, with spots of light -- like brilliant diamonds. They looked like crudely hewn statues, but moved like the swiftest of the Chosen."
<Markuran> "Uh. Sure, Birds."
<Relovia> The survivors nod their ascent.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "No, I mean, that's what the stone wolves are. Look in that bit of the Taxonomy of Rexinus."
<Relovia> "This is truly disturbing. Why would Dynasts be working with such beasts?"
<Zahara> "We have two to ask." she says, casually running her nails over one's face.
<Cerin> "...All these things. The help of the hundredfold. Exaltations. Lai was mortal when he started out on this. These are not the actions of a mortal. There must have been someone, something, to help him in the first place."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Who would want to set these forces in motion?"
<Zahara> "Perhaps a friend of Herons."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Who CAN?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Because, I want to meet that man..."
<Cerin> "I do not know. The gods freeing their bindings, heavenly realms unvailable, there is something large about to happen. And I am not sure that this invasion is the end of it."
<Zahara> "You know what we should do? We should build a new Creation."
<Zahara> "This one is...flawed."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You are right, Zahara. We need to start afresh."
<Cerin> "This one is Interesting."
<Zahara> "we can visit."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We can find out enemy and slay him, and build the foundations of our new world from his lifeless body!"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "His ribs will outline the arch of the sky, and beneath it the earth of his flesh..."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "But more immediately, what were those porcelain things?"
<Zahara> "Sounds a bit messy, but definitely intriguing."
<Cerin> "That is a little morbid Birds. Not entirely sanitary either. I think I would like to live somewhere a little more beautiful."
<Cerin> "I don't know, beyond that they were hundredfold, and powerful."
<Zahara> "No, what are they?"
<Kai> "I think that's what we just saw."
<Cerin> "Oh. Where did you hear of them? And what do you know of them?"
<Zahara> "The porcelain beasts?"
<Kai> "Yes. I think... I think they can... Merge, into larger ones, or break down smaller."
<Cerin> "That sounds fascinating."
<Kai> "I think they used to live in the North."
<Zahara> "I can't decide which would be better."
<Kai> "mm, nothing else is coming to me.
<Zahara> "I think we need to remove an important piece of each of these Portals, that we can keep separately."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Can you do that without restricting our mobility?"
<Cerin> "That would not be good. I had plans for both the imperial library and city. I would have liked to return there."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You are right, Relovia."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "But I think that we have to set our sights very carefully...if we wage war carelessly, we may destroy more than we save."
<Zahara> "We need to NOT let people into ours. While still being able to use them." she regards the portals with narrowed eyes. "There must be a way."
<Zahara> "My intention was to have it be a sort of physical key that we can replace to make it work again."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Didn't we discuss something similar, a mystical key for the Demesne of the machine fish?"
<Zahara> "Yes, but I built that with the key in mind."
<Markuran> "We will have to talk to the fish when we can. Until then, we should dispatch the other intruders."
<Zahara> "Try to silence them as quickly as possible to avoid undue meetings with the Hundredfold."
<Markuran> "Mine was silenced from the moment I saw him." The brawny warlord smiles grimly.
<Zahara> "Yes, but you also turned him into a fine pulp, crushing everything he had of value. Speaking of which, who wants a soul sucking weapon?" she asks cheerfully.
<Cerin> "Perhaps it might be better if it is I and the Dragonblooded attack. And you simply watch incase we become unstuck. That way is quiter."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Have those odd crystal weapons survived?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Ah, Zahara, you are always a step ahead of me."
<Relovia> As Birds slides the weapon onto her arm, she feels the Essence within drawing, pulling at her life force, greedily seeking a hold.
<Zahara> "Don't break it"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It's hungry."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It bites."
<Zahara> "Such is the price for those who would steal souls."
<Kai> "and everyone looks ay MY weapon strangely..."
She feels the same pull -- as if it is attempting to sink its teeth directly into her soul.
<Markuran> "The Reminder does not steal souls."
<Zahara> "Interesting... I wonder if this is the reason the Dynasts seemed a bit mad.."
<Zahara> "No, the Reminder merely corrupts the one you HAVE."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Kai, after this, I can only look at your sword with respect."
<Zahara> "Let me see that sword of yours, Kai." she holds out her unweaponed hand.
<Markuran> "It no longer touches me, Zahara. The Vision holds its darkness at bay."
The pull is incredible and visceral -- the weapon fights strongly to latch on.
<Cerin> He watches it carefully as he does so
<Zahara> "Hmmm. You are a puzzle indeed, Kai Buckthorn." She releases the sword, "Do you know its powers?"
Cerin also feels the pull of the crystal device.
<Kai> "I beleive so."
<Zahara> "What does it do?"
<Kai> "Well, it's very... Defensive. And it can damage other weapons, and I think also deattune magical ones."
<Zahara> "I see." she nods thoughtfully, "And have you ever heard it speak?"
Cerin feels a wave of irrational fear wash over his body as he gives an inch to the device -- and he can feel it, nipping at the borders of his noble heart.
<Zahara> "Weapons of this material are known to moan and such."
<Kai> "No, I've never heard anything like that."
<Zahara> "I will show you another weapon made of such material that I took off the body of a Deathknight. It moans when it tastes blood."
<Markuran> "I think we should destroy it."
<Zahara> "I am going to fix them. Leave them *alone*"
<Relovia> ok, waiting for votes from birds and zee
<Cerin> "Zahara. You dont understand. I let that thing ...in. Nothing good can come of attuning to them. It was not after my essence, it was after my heart, my soul."
<Zahara> "I understand, which is why I was going to use a captive soul to harness it, once I finish showing it to Kai
<Cerin> "That would be interesting to watch."
<Zahara> "GODDAMNIT MARKURAN, YOU ... EEL-INFESTED PIECE OF SHIT!"
<Markuran> "How many did they devour here without hint of being sated?"
<Zahara> "You have no idea what you are doing. these are from the FIRST AGE and you destroy them so casually?"
Tags: (:tags Relovia, The Realm, Civil War, Crystal Tech, Linaya, Cinerea, Hundredfold, Gha'bi, Immaculate Order, Zipetok :)