alsoquin The threat of the Bone Dagger Kings resolved entirely and the Spearfolk saved, as was their destiny, by their Grand Chieftan, Thirteen finds himself free to speak further with the Wasirranu as he drinks in more leisurely the immense sensory experiences of the behemoth tree.
Thirteen "My father, though I am grateful beyond words for the chance to speak with you, still we have come for great purposes."
Thirteen "We face a great war, with beings who have created shards like the one you stored, but of weaker, less worthy gods, and who seek to overthrow the very rule by which the planes exist."
alsoquin The tree's rumbling speech comes from every side. "That is deeply troubling. When last I knew of what went on beyond, matters were far different."
Thirteen "To create these shards, they gathered many items of power, from all the varied planes, including one of the fruits of the Wasirranu."
Thirteen "In order to face them, we must create new shards of our own."
Thirteen "This is the boon I crave."
Thirteen "Might our unworthy hands be permitted to take of your fruits?"
alsoquin "Of course. As you are the ripened fruit of the highest bough, so those that hang now, ready to be eaten, are yours to take of as you need." There is a pause. "Do you speak of those who came some years ago, and climbed to the Spire to pick of the fruit?"
Thirteen "I expect so. What do you know of them?"
alsoquin "Three of them came, unaccompanied. The Jifan'lo did not harry them as they climbed, nor did they tarry long once they had taken what they came for."
Thirteen "The leader of these foes is a man named Lai Misuna, who at the time often traveled with two compatriots. Did you, perhaps, hear any word or indication that might so identify them?"
alsoquin "Lai, yes. That is the name they spoke of him."
Thirteen "And the Kings did not trouble him on his travels, you say."
alsoquin "They did not."
Thirteen "When we were speaking of the Jifan'lo, you said that our parents had set us against each other before we were born."
Thirteen "Did you speak only of the generations that came before? Or was there a greater ancestor?"
alsoquin "Those who created your people. Once, there was only one society that lived amongst these branches: the Jifan'lo. The Spearfolk served them, as they had been created to do. It was when your kind rose up as one that the war began."
alsoquin "Those who are the fathers and mothers to you and I both must have known such a thing might occur when they put the ordering to the world."
Thirteen "Indeed, one might expect so."
Thirteen "I have a third boon to crave."
alsoquin "Speak to me."
Thirteen "Tell me of Wei Dan."
Thirteen "In his death, he left me a great mission, which I accept dutifully and gladly."
Thirteen Thirteen: "But he did not tell my people of his travels, nor did he tell me of his life, and of what drove him to this pass."
alsoquin "Aaaah, yes." Thirteen feels the tree rustle a little.
alsoquin "Your forebear first came to me well into his life, after his ascension. He had wandered far across existence before he set foot within the caverns where the Spearfolk now make their home."
alsoquin "When he came, the war within my branches was heated -- the Spearfolk had turned the talents bred into them towards creating the means to strike back, and the Jifan'lo had learned to speak with ashk-alla while it was deep in its molting."
alsoquin "As he had done in many other places, he stood up to act... but where elsewhere he had found himself thanked, welcomed by grateful lords... here there were only scattered individuals, lost and uncertain, and none other like himself."
alsoquin "He found a home here, where he had known none. Though like any with wanderlust in his heart, once he chose a home he felt compelled to leave it again."
Thirteen "How did he come to meet you?"
alsoquin "After he arrived, the situation he found himself in was grim. The Spearfolk warred amongst themselves, and few remained. Ashk-alla struck at them without warning. He sought out the wisdom to save them, and climbed to the Spire. He stood there for a week; he meditated, performed katas, abstained from food and drink."
alsoquin "But no wisdom came to him."
alsoquin "Finally, in anger, he tied himself to the Spire in open mockery of the forces that ignored his pleas for aid, and in the night, three emissaries stepped out from the courts of his enemies, the fathers and mothers of us all, and came to cast him down."
Thirteen "Tell me of these emissaries."
alsoquin "As I grant you the sapling, as if you might take out your heart and send it to speak for you... so did those who bestrode the universe set out to cast down Wei Dan. I am certain you know the story of what occured from there."
Thirteen "But what were their names and qualities?"
alsoquin "The child, Teneiros, arose from below; the mother, Arashi, from above; and Elorel, the father, from between, each the heart of one beyond."
alsoquin "Wei Dan fought each, and finally, he pinned Teneiros to the Spire, and holding in thrall he whose heart he was thusly, he extracted the secrets he required."
Thirteen "Teneiros...Arashi...Elorel." The names ring in Thirteen's head...
alsoquin Something sounds familiar to Thirteen. "Across the universe," "above, below, and between"... something about the color in this story seems oddly familiar.
Thirteen "Why did they come to cast him down? Merely for his pride?"
alsoquin "They were at war, and he had protstrated himself before the world in his meditation. And the mother had brought into being the Jifan'lo, so she sought to destroy he who struck against them."
Thirteen "What secrets were these, that he sought?"
alsoquin "The secret workings of the world... the methods by which you look to the winds and know what must be done."
Thirteen "And when he returned to you, to die...did he tell you what had occurred, to drive him thusly?"
Thirteen "Why did he feel it necessary to wait, and entrust his shard to me, rather than to face his enemies immediately?"
alsoquin "Your kind had begun to vanish, and he knew not why. He suspected that those he had once battled were responsible, but the allies he would have looked to for assistance had fallen away. Simply maintaining what had once been won came to occupy all the effort his brethren could muster. And one he considered a dear friend had fallen in battle."
alsoquin "When he came to me, he said, 'I am sure that my enemies are vigilant now: they watch each of us, waiting for the day that the last Solar expires, so that they may act without opposition. Only by returning when they last expect any of my kind to live can I truly catch them unawares and rescue my brethren."
Thirteen "Then he did not know of Ymir's plan..."
alsoquin "He did not speak of any such thing."
Thirteen "Did he ever bring another of our kind to meet with you?"
alsoquin "He did."
Thirteen "Tell me of them."
alsoquin "She was a woman of unusual manner and brilliant light. Thrice she came here with him; once, she hung from the Spire, and claimed to gain unprecedented wisdom, though what it was she refused to divulge."
Thirteen "What was her name?"
alsoquin "Now." The vast tree basks in the glorious light and heat of the sun above. "There is one final birthright that I have to bequeath to you, before you depart once more."
alsoquin "Once, your predecessor learned to draw upon the very Essence of my existence to battle against his foes. Should you wish, I can set you upon the path to learn the same techniques."
Thirteen "I think...I would appreciate that very much."
alsoquin "Then, please... subsume yourself within me. We will begin the katas together."
Thirteen "Yes, father."
alsoquin With that, Thirteen finds his perceptions blurring, shifting... until all there is is the motion of branches, the light of the sun. All outside distractions fade away for a while...
alsoquin As Thirteen trains, his friends join the Spearfolk in the city of Viridian as they launch a grand victory celebration.
alsoquin Neither notices at first as a stern woman, clad entirely in red robes, appears at the edge of the city...