Thirteen ::Cerin, you did not answer my question regarding the stars on that paper.::
Cerin There is no footstep to preceed Cerin's appearance next to Thirteen and the gate. "They do, yes."
Thirteen proceeds towards the Gate, wearing a magnificent green and blue robe, covered from head to toe with Wasirran runes of purest sungold.
Thirteen "It is apparent, then, that whatever conjunction the ring expects will come during the eclipse."
Thirteen "And, more so, that this is not common."
Birds turns up shortly, all wrapped up in red and black grave money and cloth-of-ashes.
Cerin "Before we travel to Wassirru, I would like to visit Rathess and Ssithumi who lives there."
Birds "Oh, Ssithumi is always excellent company. Do we have business there?"
Thirteen "I am amenable. I suspect that Ssithumi may know somewhat of Wei Dan's travels, which he did not tell us of."
Cerin "I would like to see how the city is doing, and talk with her somewhat about the latter days of the prior age."
Birds "Then let us not delay any longer."
Birds tries to remember the coordinates.
Cerin keys them in
Thirteen steps through.
alsoquin It has been some time since the Solars have had a proper chance to visit the city of Rathess, and the progress that has been made is stunning.
alsoquin The streets, once choked in weeds and rubble, glitter cleanly in the sun. Buildings, once shattered and laid to ruin, now rise up -- the seams in their new construction visible, but gloriously artistic in their repair.
alsoquin A few Dragon-Kings, clad in strange clothing, even walk the streets as the Solars emerge within.
Thirteen "Ah. The reconstruction proceeds apace." There is only a hint of disappointment in Thirteen's voice at the disappearance of a great ruin.
Birds nods at a few familiar faces.
Thirteen "Where may we locate Ssithumi?"
alsoquin A Dragon-King speaks up. "Ssithumi resides in the Tower of the Azimuth, to the northern part of the city." He and his companions step backwards briefly, and make a ceremonial gesture of deference. "Ahres-ne."
Thirteen "Thank you." Thirteen nods briefly to the Dragon-Kings, and proceeds towards the location they describe.
Birds lifts the leader up, pauses a moment to memorize his face, and smiles as she flits a little faster to catch up with the boys.
alsoquin The Tower of the Azimuth is a great tower of some height which rises in the due north portion of Rathess. Far up, a hole is cut through which the sun casts a brilliant ray upon a central pyramid whenever it reaches true noon. Four elaborately girded warriors guard the entranceway, where a set of beautiful plants have been woven into a combination entrance carpet and doorway decoration.
Cerin ::I will join the pair of you shortly:: And then Cerin fades into the scenery.
Thirteen "I wonder what distracts him now?"
Birds "Probably something shiny, with many arms. That's the usual one."
Thirteen "Many arms?"
Thirteen proceeds into the tower, patting a guard lightly on the head.
Birds "Ssithumi has been living in splendor lately, it seems. You smell the gardens?"
Thirteen "Indeed. Are those flame roses? I did not think they bloomed this late in the year."
Birds "Oh, it's just that everything seems so...armed. Like the aalorai. ESPECIALLY like the aalorai."
Birds "Hm, that they are. I will have to write the gardener about that."
Thirteen "And we find ourselves with just two."
Thirteen "Perhaps something ought to be done."
Birds "Hm. Yes."
alsoquin After a reasonably long climb,
alsoquin the Solars emerge into the elegant -- yet understated -- office that Ssithumi has prepared for herself. Something resembling a desk sits at one side of the room, while various crystals and plants line many of the walls. A sizeable porch reaches out to allow her to bask in the sun, and that is indeed what she at this moment is doing.
Birds finds a lounging spot too.
Thirteen walks up to her and dips his head relatively deeply. "Excuse me, Ssithumi. I am Thirteen Blooming Flowers. Perhaps you remember me."
Birds "Your city is much more spectacular than when we last saw it."
Birds "It's heartening to see that, SOMEWHERE in the world, things are going right."
Thirteen "My congratulations."
Thirteen "I fear that my visit is not purely driven by a desire for small talk."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Indeed. Here, in a place I once thought doomed to crawl bloody and dying into history, new and glorious life takes root." She looks almost tearful -- for a lizard.
Thirteen "I am informed by my brothers and sisters that within you lies much knowledge of the First Age, and of the doings of our illustrious ancestors."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "It is true. I do know much of what has gone before."
Thirteen takes a seat, crossing his legs.
Thirteen "It seems to me that on our first meeting you paid my spear more than the ordinary attention."
Thirteen "As you perhaps are aware, I am Wei Dan, returned in this age. Wei Dan was great and glorious, but he loved adventure more than his people, and he left us no record of his journeys."
Thirteen "It is thus that I know little or nothing of his life before mine."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Oh, that is unfortunate. Wei Dan was a wise and interesting soul."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Oh, certainly. He was never one to stand still; even as the Deliberative gathered to rule he was always a wanderer."
Thirteen "I would be most gratified if you would tell me some few stories of his travels."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Hmmm...." Ssithumi gets a far-off look in her eyes as she begins to reminisce of days long, long past. "Let me tell you of the Six Nighttimes Festival."
Birds murmurs, "I didn't know you knew Wei Dan."
Thirteen picks a stray bone off the floor and chews it, listening
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "There was once a time that Wei Dan was forced to lie in chambers for six months, as he recovered from a grievous injury he had suffered in a battle."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "For one such as him, the very thought of staying in one place for so long was wearing, and he sought to evade those who watched over him and slip off into distance."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> the Golgai people of the southeast."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> ^-- "Golbai"
Birds raises an eyebrow. "You are very clever, Ssithumi."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "In such a way did he pass a week, singing with the Golbai, but little did he realize that the demon Erugal-na had slipped within the ranks of the poets and planned to tear apart the nation with discord."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "As the last note prepared to be sung, Erugal-na stepped forward and twisted it, creating a flaw deep within the poem's heart, and announced that for the glory of Cecylene the town would be sacrificed and cast down into ash and bone."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Wei Dan confidently threw off his disguise, announced his identity, and spoke to the demon, saying that there was no way such a cruel trick could be true, but the demon laughed -- when the sun rose again, the warped poem would spread and tear apart the Golbai."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "With no way to sing a new poem before sunrise, many would have wept in defeat, but Wei Dan immediately hatched a plan."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Lifting up his spear and casting out three drops of blood from his finger, he challenged Erugal-na to a duel. Through the ancient laws, the demon was compelled and lifted up his great maul to do battle. In the darkness of night, however, Wei Dan had no more than launched his first attack when he threw up his spear and let another take his place."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "He made haste to the very Pleasure Dome of Heaven, where he begged to cast lots with the Sun. Through a Celestial Lion, the sun himself, curious as to this strange turn of events, asked how the game would be played. 'A game of impossibilities,' he said. 'Each of us must show the other how we defy the very laws of the world, in deference to our own glory; and the stakes, a binding boon.' "
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "And so it was waged. Wei Dan cast lots with the sun, taking on impossible tasks; each he would rush out to the world to do, stopping to relieve his assistant and let his face be glimpsed briefly by the demon so that the duel might rage on. This went on for six days, and as the Sun was so intent upon the game, he forgot to rise up into the sky."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "And all the while, the poem-singers of Golbai worked to restore what they had wrought, singing the poem again from the beginning in pristine fashion."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "As the final day ended and the poem neared completion, Wei Dan knew that he must act to bring things to a halt. There was no way to win the game with the Sun, and if he were to discover the ruse himself he might grow dark with wrath. So for his last trick Wei Dan announced 'I will do the impossible; I will keep the Sun from rising for seven days, all while battling a monstrous foe.' "
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "The nature of what had occurred dawned upon the Sun, and at first he indeed began to be wrathful; but as Wei Dan showed him what he had done, he began to laugh and laugh."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "With that, he bade Wei Dan return to Creation and end his duel, with the Sun's blessing; and on the seventh day, as the Sun rose into the sky, and the poem-singers bound Golbai in their weave, Wei Dan returned, took up his spear once more, and dealt the final blow to Erugal-na."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "From then on, the people of Golbai celebrated the Six Nighttimes Festival in his honor."
Thirteen "A thrilling tale." Thirteen smiles widely, having earlier darkened at the mention of the Sun.
Thirteen "Who wielded Wei Dan's spear in his stead? Or does history not record?"
Birds "Alawhi was the queen of Golbai in that time."
Birds "I do not recall, in my dreams, another of the queendom that matched her magnificence."
Thirteen "Of course. Who else could equal Wei Dan's skill?"
Thirteen "I am glad to know I have found as valiant a compatriot in this time as in the one that has past."
Birds "Everyone else was busy killing their husbands, I think."
Thirteen "A diverting pastime, no doubt."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Does that tell you something of what you wished to know?"
Birds "So, it seems I owe you a kingdom, or something. Ssithumi, how did you recognize the spear?"
Birds "It is not in the tomb paintings."
Thirteen "It tells me more than I expected, and yet it drives me ever harder to learn more."
Thirteen "I thank you greatly for your time and wisdom."
Thirteen "I am sure that in the fullness of time there will be plenty of kingdoms to distribute as appropriate."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Splinter of Wisdom? I beheld it myself, in another time..."
Thirteen "What did you mean when you spoke of the Deliberative? Did Wei Dan refuse to serve on it?"
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> She thinks for a moment, to respond to Thirteen's question. "Like all of your kind, he held a position in the government of the world, but where many dedicated their lives to such service, Wei Dan was... less than dedicated."
Thirteen "That does not surprise me."
Thirteen "I am sure he found more engaging amusements to occupy his time."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Indeed."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Did you, too, have something you wished to speak to me of, Birds-of-Trinity?"
Birds "I did. I hope you do not find this intrusive... I'm interested in the olchilike process."
Birds "Can you tell me about it?"
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> The pupils of Ssithumi's eyes expand a little in surprise at this question -- not quite what she was expecting, clearly.
Birds "It occurs to me that calling it a process is perhaps less than delicate. We have become accustomed to speaking thus of our own spiritual organs."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "I... yes, I can speak to you of that, a little." Her voice shifts in tone a little as she speaks.
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "I was a a warrior of Rathess, and had completed many noble hunts. I was dedicated in my role, and strong in my beliefs."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> She turns her head a little. "I had been gone from Relazus for one-hundred-and-twenty-nine suns, as was traditional, and I required a new companion."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> She turns back to the center.
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "The choosing was ordained. At the proper alignment of the sun, those who had proven themselves to the Elders lined up, upon the steps of the Dawn Pyramid. I stood there, waiting... anxious, uncertain of what lay ahead."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> Another head shift. "I awaited at the top of the pyramid, as I had so many times before, and allowed myself to be carried onwards, downward by the light, to find my new companion through the trails of Essence."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "It was difficult at first, the feeling of being two at once -- my senses did not agree, my movements were uncertain, I futilely sought to keep secrets from myself..."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "And every morning for a year, I would perform the Exercises with myself, harmonizing my Essence patterns and slowly convincing the flows of energy to intertwine, to mingle with one another."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "It was at the ceremony of the Ascension, one year to the day from the Choosing, that I stood upon the Dawn Pyramid truly as myself."
Birds hrrms for Thirteen's benefit. "Thank you...both. That was very illuminating, actually. Do you know anything of the Chosen attempting this?"
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "I do not know that it has ever been attempted. When I was a young broodling I would have thought it was a unique and eternal process, the bonding of a Dragon and Olchilikami... though I suppose I know now that /that/ is untrue." Her face darkens quite visibly at the end portion of this statement.
Birds "You suppose?"
Thirteen "I would not be so sure."
Thirteen "For some, Exaltation is not something one chooses."
Thirteen "For others, it is not a path towards greater discovery of oneself."
Thirteen "You combine both."
Thirteen "They are indeed wretched."
Thirteen "We may well need to create Exalts of our own to beat them back."
Birds "Lai and his kind have insulted far too many of us."
Birds "I would like to experience this bonding, someday; it seems like in our past, we have gotten lost in ourselves."
Birds "Perhaps you dragon kind have some insight in avoiding that."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "It is a bit difficult to discuss in terms that perhaps are meaningful to you. As I stand before you now, I have been Ssithumi-an-Tohatep far longer than Ssithumi or Tohatep alone."
Birds "I had suspected as much."
Thirteen "A common curse among the circles we move in."
Birds "Is it really? I hadn't noticed."
Birds "Various things."
Birds "Viz., matters of the spiritual anatomy of the Primordials, the exaltation, the unusual status of humanity..."
Birds ticks things off on her fingers.
Thirteen moves suddenly, as though realizing something.
Thirteen "We must discuss this further at another time, Birds-of-Trinity."
Birds "Essentially, I feel that as a prince of earth, it is essential to become as close to its living things as is possible."
Thirteen "Who was this friend?"
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "An Anklok named Eritrus. He was quite a scholar amongst my people on matters of soul anatomy, though he was already quite old by the time I met him first."
Thirteen "Does any of his wisdom survive?"
Birds "I suspect we have recreated much of his research, but his insight would be priceless."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "Some. I believe Cerin uncovered some small remnants of his writings in an early visit here, though perhaps more have been found as we have excavated each of the libraries..."
Thirteen "Perhaps we ought to call upon your libraries, then, and investigate further."
< Ssithumi-an-Tohatep> "You would, as always, be welcome to do so."
Thirteen "Excuse me, then. I thank you for your time, and for sharing your knowledge with us."
Birds "It is always a pleasure to see you, Ssithumi. We will visit again soon." Birds takes Thirteen's arm and departs.
Thirteen ::Birds, your line of questioning concerns me. Have you decided to Exalt all humanity?::
Birds In a surprised tone, ::That would be terribly beneficent of me, wouldn't it? It has not crossed my mind, though.::
Birds ::Perhaps...a lottery? The world does need more Chosen, I think, but it would be wasteful to Exalt them ALL.::
Thirteen ::It is only wasteful if we have other, better purposes towards which to put our resources.::
Thirteen ::And it does concern me that, of all people, only humans find themselves incapable of channelling Essence.::
Birds ::That is a kind of waste, yes. I sometimes esteem a certain economy of action.::
Birds ::Particularly when it involves assembling those beastly channelcages.::
Thirteen ::It has certainly been a challenge thus far.::
Thirteen ::Perhaps once we have created more Exalts we may set them the task, and ourselves turn to more pressing labor.::