< Deep City | Sol Invictus Logs | Solar Circle Sorcery >
The Solars, on a quest to expand the borders of the Sunlands, have found themselves in a small village within the lands of the Karala. A village elder listens patiently as they explain their reasoning to him.
- Markuran crosses his arms across the gleaming armor on his chest. "You lose nothing by joining with us, elder. We will protect you and guide you. Your people will prosper and none dare to harm them. All we ask is that you pledge your loyalty and prayers to the God that will protect you, through us. With the fae moving, the dead in power and the gods conspiring, how else will your people be safe?"
The man nods, slowly. "My people do wish for safety. But why do you come to me, today? Your tribes have bordered ours for years, yet never before have you approached us."
<Markuran> "The world grows more dangerous. I would rather see your people live then die, wouldn't you?"
The elder eyes Marku suspiciously. "And yet, you have never thought to inquire as to what threats the Karala have faced, day after day, for all these years you have ignored us...."
- Markuran draws himself up to his full height, towering above the elder. The Bear Armor adjusts as the powerful muscles of the big Solar's frame flex, the last bits of fat from Yu-Shan's superlative feasting are clearly gone. "Have you faced the unformed hordes? The walking dead that darken the land with their numbers and the sky with a rain of your fallen allies? Have you stood face to face with a Deathlord or seen the strings of
<Markuran> seen the strings of his web drawing tight around you and then shattered them and wrapped your own around him in turn? Have you faced the ancient enemies of mankind, returned to plague us? Have you walked among the Gods, wrestled the Lions of Heaven and learned the ancient lore? Have you seen the rising tide of false Chosen that will sweep across the world?"
Elder "I have watched our daughters be taken from us by the Man of the Wood," he says softly.
- Markuran thinks for a moment, trying to recall this Man of the Wood...
<Zahara> "Why did you not think to come to us?" she asks kindly. "We would have helped you, as good neighbors do."
Elder "We did not believe you would come to our aid."
- Cerin 's ears perk up slightly at the mention of the Man of the Wood from behind Marku. He lets the others speak however.
<Zahara> "What made you think we would not?"
<Markuran> "We have always come to help those that need our aid."
Elder "Our people have never fared well with one another. We have raided and warred with one another for centuries, as is our way."
<Markuran> "Tradition can be dispensed with when danger presses. You should have come to us, instead of foolishly sacrificing your daughters lives."
The man nods, sadly. "Will you aid us now?"
<Zahara> "If we aid you in this, will you join us?"
- Markuran glares at Zahara. "We will aid regardless. But if you wish for our aid to mean anything at all, you will join us. What good to save your daughters simply to let them die later?"
Elder "Bring back our daughters, and we shall speak again of this."
<Markuran> "Tell us of the Man of the Wood and what he has done. Then we will help."
- Zahara pushes back a flash of annoyance, though lets it be felt through the Unity. "It is true that we will aid you regardless. Excuse my hope for flaring too quickly."
- Cerin sends calm and reassurance and anticipation back to her. He nods "Speak of the Man of the woods"
The elder begins to speak. "He has struck with suddenness, journeying into our village at night, when all sleep -- a young woman disappears, a single drop of blood left in her bed. When we set a watch, they fall into a deep sleep, and the same occurs. Then, a month later..."
<Cerin> "When was the last ..attack?"
<Zahara> "And, where?" she adds, "I think my friend here may be able to track this Man of the Wood."
The elder leads the Solars to an empty hut. A bed lies within, still bearing the mark of blood he spoke of earlier.
- Cerin moves from beside Zahara to study the bed and room, casting all his senses about to seek details of the crime, where the man entered, where he left, whether the girl struggled. All these things he divines from the signs that are left...the way the windows are, the fold of the sheets, the dust on the floor.
- Zahara draws her daiklave, holding it ready in case, well, anything.
<Markuran> "How long has this been going on?" Mark's voice still bears traces of digust for someone so dense as to refuse to get help for something like this
Elder "One year."
- Zahara frowns a bit, "And how many has he stolen?"
Elder "Fifteen maidens."
- Cerin concentrates deeper on the essence of the crime, and the man who committed it, wrapping his senses around his scent, the way his feet touch the ground, the way his clothing will catch on the trees he will pass by. He knows this and he starts to feel around for just such a trail, for one has most assuredly been left.
- Markuran folds a fist and, for a moment, it seems as if Markuran will sieze the elder and shake him bodily. Then the fist opens, going to the neat beard on the big man's face, then the tunic that covers his chest under the armor. "You should have asked for help."
Cerin begins to pick up the hint of a trail -- heavily obfuscated -- leading off into the nearby woods.
The elder merely looks sad at Markuran's excited shouting.
- Zahara places a calming hand on Marku's shoulder
- Cerin smiles to himself, satisfaction radiating through the unity "I have his trail."
<Zahara> "Let us follow it, then, before more tragedy is to be had."
- Cerin steps past Zahara, and Markuran, and the elder, and starts to follow the trail, as it winds through the trees and undergrowth, past streams and brooks, until he reaches its end.
- Zahara keeps pace steadily and adds to her daiklave its brothers in arms, which float about her unassumingly, for weapons.
The trail leads deep into the woods, turning and zigzagging repeatedly, though slowly leading outwards.
- Cerin follows it through the zigs and the zags, flowing through the forest as he persues his prey, though he restricts his speed to allow Zahara and Marku to keep pace.
- Markuran keeps pace with relative ease, simply barreling through any vegetation that gets itself in his way. "Do you know where we're *headed*, Cerin?"
- Zahara makes sure to stay a few paces behind Marku, after having to parry several branches that whip back at her face when he passes
<Cerin> "After the Man of the Wood."
The trail leads onwards still. It is hours before Cerin notices that they are drawing near to their destination...
<Cerin> "We are drawing near to where this man calls home." he speaks quietly. "Soon, the chase will be over."
- Markuran draws the Armsbreaker slowly and quietly, the sun glinting on dull orichalcum-steel as the blade is lain flat against Marku's broad forearm.
- Cerin 's caste mark flares to life on his forehead as his body shimmers and he calls forth his bow of sunlight with its string of night.
As the trail draws to a close, the Solars can see the small clearing where the Man of the Wood makes his home. A surprisingly large house stands, clearly built by one man's hands, to the back of the clearing. Before it, a thin man, wearing expensive-looking clothes and bearing a thin beard, stands; in his arms, a dazed, stupored woman, a thin trickle of blood snaking down from her heart....
- Cerin flows foreward from the edge of the clearing, as he studies the man and the woman before him.
- Markuran growls, a deep sound that starts in his belly and rumbles its way up through his massive chest before exploding into the air as a thunderous howl of rage. Launching himself from the backwards-bent trunk of a tree that had thought to impede his way, the huge Solar flies at the Man of the Wood, arms out to catch the man in a lethal bearhug
- Cerin sees the powerful Essence that flows through the man's body -- Essence much like his own....
- Zahara sighs as Marku thunders at the man immediately, suspecting that it will not end well for the girl in his arms.
- Cerin sends suprise through the unity "This man is chosen of the same god as us." he tells Zahara.
<Zahara> "Chosen of the Sun?" she asks in surprise, as she watches Marku attempt to bowl the man over, while readying her own weapons.
<Zahara> "Well, this will be interesting, at least."
- Cerin nods once more, twirling his fingers as 6 shafts of sunlight appear between them.
The Man ducks swiftly beneath Marku's grasp, easily evading his clinch; as the Zenith passes, he draws out his stiletto and ducks to one side.
- Cerin 's hands flicker as he draws back the bow six times, white gold smoke filling the air around him as the shafts fly one after the other, unerringing seeking the man's heart.
The man ducks beneath several of Cerin's arrows with little effort, as if ducking under a branch while walking. Driving motes of Essence into his aura, he grabs the last two of them out of the air, and holds it between his fingers....
The man drops the woman coldly to the ground, and shouts "Who are you? Leave here at once!"
<Cerin> "We have come from the village not far south of here, and your predations will cease this day."
<Markuran> "You have no right to object to the intrusions of others, eel-spawned theif!"
- Zahara follows Cerin's barrage with one of her own, hoping to wear him out with multiple attacks. As the Flamberge, Icehammer, Staff and Chain work together to distract and entangle the man, the bell hovers high above, pealing out a great shattering burst of sound "We're here to teach you the consequences of stealing."
Ducking and weaving under the harsh onslaught of Zahara's weapons, the man somehow manages to deftly avoid each of them -- and then, tossing his stiletto into the air, he reaches up and snatches the soundwave of the ringing bell directly out of the air.
- Zahara blinks in surprise as he catches the sound
<Zahara> "Must learn how to do that."
As he dodges, he leaps from the ground and drives his foot down hard upon the blade of the shifting sword -- the force of the blow knocks it from the air, leaving it lifeless at his feet.
<Cerin> "Your command of essence is most impressive." Cerin acknowledges.
The man turns to Cerin, and flings both hands outwards -- sending two arrows and a sound wave hurling in Cerin's direction.
- Cerin flickers and twists as the arrows and the sound hurl toward him, shadows wrapping around him, the sunlight shafts and the wave of sounds meeting no resistance as they flow through the darkness that was his body.
- Zahara releases the catch from one of her golden necklaces and tosses it in the barbarian's direction, "Marku, use this!" she calls.
- Markuran snags the collar from the air, a grim smile spreading across his handsome face as he rises to his haunches and prepares to strike at the Exalt
- Markuran takes half a stride up from his crouch, rising like a bear disturbed in midwinter. As the Solar dodges and weaves around his attacks the big man waits..and as the Solar pauses to take a breath, the barbarian's massive fist wraps around his throat, the collar snipping shut.
- Cerin lowers his bow and runs over to the woman, looking to check she is still alive, then picking up the man's stilleto, studying it.
- Zahara smiles, looking entirely too pleased with herself, and watches the man's reaction, using Essence to help her savor the moment.
<Zahara> "Come on, Man of the Woods, you can fight harder than that!"
- Markuran snarls as he wraps a thick arm around the mans neck and hauls him into the air, dragging him along by the throat as he goes to check on the young woman. "If she is dead, you will greatly regret it. You will regret every single woman you have touched since you were born.."
The man's stiletto is merely a mundane blade. The woman seems to still be breathing, though she is utterly unaware of her surroundings
The man breathes hard. "Why have you come to bother me?"
- Markuran twists the man around forcibly, one hand wrapping around his neck in an iron-shod grip that digs the golden collar deep into his flesh. The delicate skin bruises under the pressure from Marku's fingers and the man finds himself unable to breathe. The big Solar's voice is a rumbling bass, rocks grating aginst themselves.
<Zahara> "As I said, you must pay penance for your thievery."
<Markuran> "You are a parasite and a pestilence. You have no right to the light within and none to life itself. But you may yet serve *some* purpose, so I will not snap your neck and rend you limb from limb..not here. If she recovers, you may even retain your manhood and limbs. Now, be silent unless told to speak and answer fully any questions. Or you will never speak again, regardless your value."
The Man glares at Markuran but makes no obvious effort to fight.
<Zahara> "Speaking of which," she says after the man is fully cowed, "What did you do to the other 14 girls?"
<alsoquin> The man looks down at the ground. "Look behind the house."
- Cerin starts to flip the dagger in his hands as he walks over to the woman, studying the essence that is wrapped around her form.
- Zahara pats the man on the head in passing, like she would a dog that pissed in the right place. She walks around to the back of the house, and looks.
- Markuran simply takes the man's arm in his free hand and hauls it backwards until he hears the join dislocate with a POP. Ramming it upwards, Marku shatters the joint and socket. "You don't seem to understand your situation.."
<Zahara> "Marku, don't break him .. yet."
- Zahara calls over her shoulder as she rounds the corner
Zahara sees the horrific scene that is laid out behind the house -- each girl, laid upon the ground, and a tree planted in her heart. Each is further along in the process, the last having her bones strewn throughout the branches of a strange, unearthly tree of horrifying beauty.
<Zahara> "What lovely trees." she says in wonder, walking up to the oldest, although she holds her sword at ready, in case it's some sort of sentient-tree spell thing.
The trees do not seem to move
- Zahara chops it down with her sword.
It collapses, as a tree might do.
- Zahara then hauls it around the corner to the others, "Cerin, what do you make of this?" she asks casually, setting the tree down in front of the Man of the Woods
- Markuran glances at the tree. "What manner of tree is that?"
<Zahara> "The kind that grows through a dead girl's heart."
- Markuran blinks for a moment. "What?"
- Cerin looks up and over at the tree. "It seems to be grown from the bones of someone..Ah" he pauses after Zahara's announcement "A very rare tree, then."
<Zahara> "There are 13 more back there. I think I might decorate my manse with it. It would make a fine rocking chair."
Cerin can see the enchantment which imprisons the girl -- a spell of the Terrestrial Circle.
- Cerin wanders round the back of the house.
Strange, twisted Essence swirls up from the ground where the trees are planted, and suffuses the plants themselves.
- Cerin frowns and studies the essence further, delineating the flows on a sheet of paper, trying to catch the beauty, and the horror of them.
The man stares at the ground, defiantly, refusing to acknowledge or speak again.
- Markuran spits into the Solar's face. "Tell me why you have done this." the big man's voice is flat, toneless.
- Cerin returns after a short while "They are truely fascinating trees. I wonder if they bear fruit...will anything happen to the girl if countermagics are used on her?"
<Zahara> "The girl? She might get a bit of a burn, but nothing the demons can't handle." There's a slight hint of emphasis on the word 'demons'
<Cerin> "I was more worried about consequences built into the spell, should it be suddenly removed."
Solar "I bring the glory of Laerad back into the world." he says, not looking up.
<Zahara> "There is no completely safe way to Unmake a spell." she shrugs, "It is a chance we will have to take."
- Cerin blazes as he draws forth 6 arrows and fires them at the man, slicing through his heart, his lungs and his head.
- Markuran twists the man slightly so Cerin's arrows find their best path home. Tossing the body to the ground, Marku spits on it once more.
- The arrows tear through the man's body, sending his blood spattering over Marku's body and the cold ground.
- Zahara whacks Cerin with the tree "What'd you do that for?"
- Cerin lets the tree pass right through him. He frowns towards the man as he starts to expire.
Cerin watches intently as the flows of Essence within the man shift during his death. He sees the Sun-tinged energy flow through the entirety of his body, as it still lives; then, something disconnects. There is something that is... almost like a bridge, that connects two parts of his soul that otherwise would be utterly disconnected... and as Essence passes through it, it becomes yet more Solar-aspected.
- Cerin watches the thing, entranced.
When the man dies, a... packet of Essence, holding that bridge, disconnects as his soul flees -- and the Essence within his body becomes mundane human once again. Almost faster than Cerin can see, the bridge rises up from his body, and then disappears into the sky.
- Cerin follows it for as long as his eyes will track it, which is far up into the sky. Soon, though, it exceeds even Cerin's masterful sight.
- Zahara is there, tapping her foot in annoyance, when his sight returns to the mortal plane.
<Cerin> "I make no apology for what I did, he was yozi-worshipper and had no right to existance."
<Zahara> "You think a yozi-worshipper deserves a clean death? One in which he does not divulge his secrets to us?"
<Cerin> "There is no-one in Creation I would not grant a clean death to, even Lai. Anyway, his death was most interesting."
<Zahara> "You have destroyed what could be an important source of information."
<Zahara> "Like the burning of the Library at Rathess, I only hope that the missing information will not lead to our death, and the destruction of Creation." she says coldly.
- Zahara reaches down and releases the collar from the prone form, and strides off to the back yard, to sit beneath one of the trees.
- Cerin nods to acknowledge this fact "I considered that when I let the arrows fly."
- Cerin strides off after her. He sits a short distance from her, watching her, and the tree.
<Zahara> "I am not talking to you," she announces, and commences to sulk in a righteously pompous manner.
- Markuran waits for the other two to leave before relieving himself on the corpse before setting it to the fire of Creation. Foul smelling smoke rises from the body, sending the soul within to the deepths of the Underworld.
- Cerin nods "I also watched his soul unravel, as he died."
- Markuran trots after the other two, catching up. He adjusts his belt, fixing his pants. "And?"
- Zahara snaps off a branch and begins to carve it with her retrieved water-sword, which is now a long knife.
<Zahara> .."what's that smell?"
<Cerin> "Marku, please leave us."
- Markuran peers suspiciously at Cerin. "I thought you two had decided to let the rest of us know about your secret wars and such."
<Zahara> "Tell me you didn't burn the damned yozi worshipper."
- Markuran shrugs. "Just with normal fire. There will be some bones and such left over."
<Zahara> "They will be used up, charred." her expression crosses several interesting shapes until it settles on coldly annoyed fury. It's a tough one to pull off, but Zee is a master. "MEN!"
- Markuran looks confused. "Nothing you could do with him would end well."
<Zahara> "Some would say the same about demons."
<Cerin> "Zahara, in this case, he is correct. He did not even deserve to live as a pet in your dungeon."
- Zahara tosses down the perfect replica of one of the full-size trees, and then stands, grinding it beneath her heel. She sends out a piercing whistle, and Tantamount hears. swooping down between the trees, he tucks his wings as Zahara leaps upon his back, and then climbs back into the sky, the two wasps following her like jeweled puppies.
- Markuran looks after her and their wasps. "What'd you say to her?" the big man looks down at Cerin, puzzled.
- Cerin ignores the man, sending apology, understanding and desire for forgiveness. Then he turns and strides into the house, turning it upside down as he looks for something, anything of interest.
- Markuran moves around to the back of the house to deal with the dead. With more respect then the Solar out front.
- Zahara sends cold, and unwillingness to forgive.
- Cerin sends back only sorrowful love. Then goes into the house.
Tags: (:tags Karala, Man of the Wood, Solars, Laerad, Exaltation:)
< Deep City | Sol Invictus Logs | Solar Circle Sorcery >