alsoquin alsoquin: Luc passes out of the mysterious plane's room, not through the main door, but rather the smaller one, carefully concealed at one side... and a stairway runs upwards behind it.
Lucent walks upwards, sending the sun in front of him to light up the way.
stryck follows behind him, unsure about whether she is more curious about the manse, or lucent.
Imrama brings up the rear of the company, his guns drawn.
alsoquin Luc steps up into an unassuming chamber on the second floor. By his reckoning, he is in the far southwest corner of the manse, and passageways seem to lead both north and east from here.
alsoquin The scrollwork differs on the second floor -- silver appears to be worked into the designs upon the wall, and the shape of the letters themselves differ as well -- enough to identify the difference, though the meaning of such a change is obscure.
zahara "Hmm, do you think this floor is meant to trap Lunars?"
Lucent "It is meant to resonate with them. Could be used for that too, I guess. But it... it didn't have a sinister purpose, you know. What was done to that poor soldier was... a bastardization of this."
Imrama "Interesting that such a floor would come after one devoted to our kind. Where now, Lucent?" Imrama asks, peering over his spectacles at the sigils.
Lucent points east, and steps in that direction. "We are the first among chosen, are we not?"
Imrama "There is a rank afforded us by a hierarchy that no longer exists. And then there is the place that we make for ourselves in the world. The first is long-lost, and the second is yet to be secured."
Lucent looks a little forlorn at Imrama's words "I suppose. And so... the shadow around the Isle was not just a metaphor from your vision. I suppose we should always assume things are... literal, from now on."
Imrama "I did not mean to darken your spirits, my friend. The world has a chance to change: this is a wonderful thing." Imrama shares a reasuring smile with Lucent.
Lucent "I suppose. It is just that, right now... it is not change I want. Later... yes." He returns the smile, weakly.
alsoquin A hallway like many others stretches out to the East, and at its end, a door of sandstone, lined with an intricate design in soulsteel: a circle, with an elaborate pattern interweaving amongst itself within.
Lucent "You ever saw the caste mark of a Shadeborn, Imrama?" He points
Imrama "Not...that I can recall." Imrama takes in the image of a something rare and ancient.
zahara "I see that you have, Lucent?"
Lucent "Never personally. But I know what they are." He says... and it is, for him, something to revere... "We lost them. It was our mistakes that made us lose them."
zahara tries the door
alsoquin It does not seem willing to budge.
zahara frowns, and tries feeding it a bit of essence
alsoquin Anyone watching Luc closely notices the shadow that seems to pass, quite briefly, over his castemark as he looks upon the door.
Lucent looks into the light-blue parts of the castemark... the eyes... shining his own, the shadow crescent more than the golden circle.
alsoquin The door clicks, and then -- with a sound like a death rattle -- slides open.
Lucent walks foward... "Had to gaze into the 'eyes'... that castemark is a Mask."
Lucent "Masks... that theme keeps cropping up."
zahara "Doesn't it just?"
alsoquin The room within is lit with a faint, bluish light, like that of a late spring evening, just before the sun is utterly gone, and within, a variety of items -- incorporeal and filled with ghostly Essence -- sit: strange models, incomprehensible charts, and oddly non-Euclidean filing cabinets.
alsoquin At the center, a table -- a flat slab of basalt -- sits, and upon it, a book with covers of blackest soulsteel, locked shut by a vast and intricate lock.
zahara walks over and looks at the book, trying to determine what it is
Imrama watches Zahara as she begins examining the book, and decides to devote his attention to a few of the models and charts.
alsoquin Everything about the objects in the room is.... comprehensible, but somehow, still quite strange. Determining what the models represent -- even to the level of "is this a small or large object" -- is difficult, and the charts are filled with terms like "Egathic Aureate" and "Ruxate-Songs" that are completely outside anything Imrama has ever encountered.
Lucent looks at it and shrugs "They really liked to make things confusingly."
alsoquin Zahara looks at the cover of the book, at the strange scrollwork, and with a little effort manages to pick out the -- rather elaborately hidden -- title written across it: "The Litany of the Dead."
Imrama "It would appear that they developed quite the facility for it."
zahara "Hm. The Litany of the Dead. Sound familiar?"
zahara prods at the lock, irritated that Cerin is not there to unlock it or warn her if it will explode.
Lucent nods to Zahara "It does. It is a memoir for every one who has ever died."
zahara "Seems a bit short for that, from the outside at least."
Lucent "Like you are not used to things that are greater than they look."
Lucent "So... shall we keep going? We still have a world to save!"
Lucent "I know you are all curious, but..."
zahara "Ah, yes. The world."
Imrama "Lead on Lucent. I, for one, am growing restless."
Lucent keeps on east!
alsoquin Another short hallway leads beyond this, and at the end, another planar door: the unmistakable character of "Ma" scrawled at the bottom of the Map of Worlds.
Imrama "Are we to follow you into Hell then, Lucent?"
zahara "Why not?"
Lucent "So it appears. Who better to have at your side than two Eclipses, when journying into hell?"
Lucent "Imrama, can you lend your singing voice to mine? I believe you know 'The Rum That's Drunk In Malfeas?"
Lucent snaps his fingers to the general tune of it
alsoquin A sound, like the dull rumble of a crash elsewhere in the Manse, can be heard through the walls.
Imrama sings: "Oh, the rum that's drunk in Mal-fe-as is sweet as lovers kiss. It drives young men to su-i-cide...What was that?"
Lucent sings with Imrama, not worrying about the sound... for now, anyway!
alsoquin The doors, with a groan and a clatter and the sound of a harsh wind, grind slowly open in response to the song.
Imrama "That did not originate from either of our parties. I believe."
alsoquin An eerie green light emenates out of the open door.
Lucent "Really? Did Thirteen say something?" ::Hey, Thirteen, did any of you make that sound?::
zahara "Ah. Well then. It must be the Lily. We should hurry."
Lucent steps foward into hell!
Lucent "Home, sweet home."
Imrama follows, humming.
zahara tells thirteen, ::You should probably know we're going into 'Ma' right now.::
Lucent ::Ah. You could have said so sooner. We should keep in contact, you know. So we know wether or not you got scratched by wind blades.::
Thirteen ::I did not.::
Thirteen ::What are you doing?::
Lucent ::Walking into hell. You?::
alsoquin The room of Malfeas is filled with tiny filaments of black thread, that run loosely back and forth between the walls, while an orb of green glows above; and at the center, a thick hunk of iron, with elegant curved lines of brass that run upon it, with seven tiny braziers that float and orbit around it.
Thirteen ::Learning sorcery. Trying to find Lai before the world is destroyed.::
Thirteen ::Enjoy yourself in Hell. Is it much the same as you remember it?::
Imrama "A rough model of Malfeas, I assume."
zahara ::Sorcery? I didn't think you were interested in that.::
Lucent ::It is way less impressive the second time around, let me tell you that.::
Thirteen ::I was not.::
Imrama attempts to examine the model and the room it is situated in.
zahara ::What exactly is teaching you sorcery? Or whom?::
alsoquin Imrama notices: upon one of the seven braziers, tucked carefully underneath so as almost to be hidden, is... a flower. A five petalled flower, of which four are black and one is red: and it seems to be filled with intense Essence, elemental and solar and Infernal.
alsoquin His glasses tell him that it is "The Empress' Nightsbloom."
Imrama "Zahara, I have found something I believe to be important. Perhaps your eyes may see more of it than mine."
Lucent "Something? What?" He rushes to Imrama, watching the flower...
Imrama points to the flower. "This is The Empress' Nightblossom."
zahara crouches and inspects the flower curiously
Lucent "... that sounds like the title of a erotic novel." He says... with much less mirth than he's trying to convene.
alsoquin The base Essence that fills the flower is unmistakable to Zahara: it is the dark, enveloping shadow that is the Ebon Dragon. But woven into the flower's petals are other Essences: that of the sun and all five elements, wrapped into an intricate pattern.
zahara raises a brow, "Interesting. The essence is of The Ebon Dragon, mixed with the Sun and the Dragons." She focuses in on the flower, trying to see the ways the essences weave together, drawing on her vast experience with manipulating essence in different ways herself, and her rather intimate knowledge of the essences of the sesseljae, and the oft-recalled strains of Jugurtha's essence from outside of the tree.
Lucent "What is i...?" He whispers, feeling a bit bad for interrupting Zahara...
Lucent ... but then she speaks just as he is! "... oh. Odd."
alsoquin Zahara looks into the most intricate levels of the flower, and sees the truly elaborate design: five motes of Solar essence, each with a different alignment, held amidst petals wrought of the elements -- and the Malfeas-tainted essence covering it all.
alsoquin Shockingly enough, the pattern seems to hold itself together in a way that would seem to resist any attempts to sever their connections.
zahara "I really, really dislike him."
Lucent "What did you see?"
zahara "It's not so much what I saw, as the fact that I can't undo it properly." She scowls, then, points out the different parts to those with her, explaining how they connect and how irritatingly they resist disconnecting.
Lucent "Elements and Sun joined in shadows, Empress' Nightblossom... so, this... maybe it is being used to corrupt the Empress? To hold her?" He looks at it, wondering if it is a good idea for them to break it or not...
zahara draws the edge of the chime across the brazier to set it humming, watching the interaction between it and the flower
alsoquin The patterns of Essence within respond strongly, in opposite ways -- the Solar Essence drawn in towards the chime, and the Infernal essence driven out... but something about the way they are intertwined seems to tie them together, and after a moment, they draw back together as if nothing had happened.
alsoquin More sounds -- crashing -- come up through the manse.
Imrama "We should proceed. But we should take the Nightblossom with us."
zahara frowns, and stands, taking the flower with her. "Let's go."
alsoquin The sounds seem to be coming from the Eastern portion of the manse, and below.
Lucent rushes to the East. Right where he wanted to go at any rate!
alsoquin The door slides open upon yet another hallway; stretching far to the east, a door leading off to the north halfway down its length, and at the end a door leading into the east.
zahara casts one more glance around the room before following
Lucent keeps going east, down the long hallway! "Over here."
Lucent stops. "No, no." He closes his eyes, and points. "There. The middle door." He says, then rushes to it, seeing what is needed to open this one...
zahara follows, distracted, half hoping that the rumbling noise will happen again
alsoquin The door opens without effort into another north-leading hallway, at the end of which is a door of white, with TWO rings upon it: emerald, and sapphire.
zahara "Hm. More Sorcery?"
Lucent "Sorcery, indeed. Zee... that one is for you. Unlock it."
zahara checks to see if she can unlock it without using Countermagic, first
alsoquin As Zahara looks at the door, she notices something interesting: the remnants of spells -- two of them -- sit upon this door, but... they were counterspelled, quite recently too.
zahara ::Someone was here, recently. A sorceror.::
Lucent ::Not surprising, being that someone was using this Manse just now, is it?::
zahara ::They know the Magma Kraken spell, by the way. That's what the noise was::
zahara tries the door
alsoquin The door opens into a room where two pillars of gemstone hang -- one smaller than the other, emerald and sapphire -- and upon them, the second-tier initiations. There is much less recorded here than below, but carvings into the walls speak of spells that Zahara has never heard spoken of.
alsoquin With her sorcerous knowledge, Zahara is fairly certain she could reconstruct their casting from these notes with little difficulty.
zahara nods to herself after memorizing everything in the room, and proceeds on.
alsoquin The door leads out to the East, into a little "L" shaped hallway that bends to the North slightly down its length.
zahara follows the passageway cautiously
alsoquin A voice whispers quietly, oh so quietly, in Zahara's ear: "He's leading you to your doom."
zahara snorts, "I know that." she mutters back. "That's half the fun."
Lucent looks over his shoulder, "What, Empress?"
zahara "That doom lies ahead."
Lucent "Afraid, aren't you?" He says, not to them, but to the air. And then he follows the hallway north, following the bend. "Our enemies are afraid."
Thirteen ::Lucent. Where are you going?::
alsoquin Lucent hears his own whisper: "It's not going to work."
zahara "They should be afraid, with you here."
alsoquin They round the corner, and gaze upon the door in front of them: the green sigil of Jupiter.
Lucent ::I am going to the calendar.::
Lucent takes a deep breath, biting his lip... ::Because that is where I have to go.::
zahara ::What is the calendar?::
Thirteen ::That does not answer my question, Helios Red Sands.::
Lucent ::That is not my name anymore, Thirteen. I lost the right to it.::
Lucent ::And the calendar... is what will save us.::
Thirteen ::Lost it?::
Thirteen ::Or sold it?::
Thirteen ::Who is us, Lucent?::
Lucent ::The damned.::
alsoquin Imrama hears something himself, finally: "Your companions will doom the world. You must stop them."
Lucent ::Like Cerin the Wolf. You will all save us. If I do this right.::
zahara ::What do you have to do?::
Thirteen ::Do not presume to tell me what I will do, Lucent Copper Haze.::
Imrama says, with just a hint of uncertainty about it, thinks loudly, though to himself ::I have little patience for the voices of my friends in my head - let alone the voice of an unknown enemy::
Lucent looks at the door... walking very close to it, placing his forehead over the Jupiter symbol
Lucent whispers. "Zahara saved me."
alsoquin The door slides open at Lucent's pronouncement.
zahara ::Did you hear voices too?::
zahara ::What did they say to you?::
Lucent ::Mocking me. Mocking us. Telling me it is for nothing...::
Imrama ::"Your companions will doom the world. You must stop them."::
Lucent closes his eyes and opens the door, striding in frantically, looking for it...
alsoquin The room beyond the door is deceptively simple in appearance: green walls, simple and unadorned. (...)
zahara ::Ah, yes, Mine told me I was being led to my doom. It was, of course, wrong, but I could feel the temptation to listen.::
alsoquin At its center is a planetary model -- the sun, moon, and planets hang in an arrangement that does not match with that abovehead. Around the model, in a tray, are little spheres, planets the Solars have never seen before. (...)
alsoquin Underneath the model is what seems to be a calendar, in the Old Realm style, and two wheels: one ticks onward, ever recording the current time. The other is an outer dial -- one can reach out and set it to any date.
alsoquin As Zahara looks at it, she notices immediately the date that the dial is set to: it is the date that Cerin pledged his love to her.
zahara frowns, and touches the outer dial, "Such significance. Who was here to set it?"
Lucent walks over to the dial, panting, sweating... and begins to set it back. So far back. It seems to be as far back as he can... but then, he stops, at a certain date, long, long ago, before even the Usurpation took place.
zahara sends out one of her scarves to Lucent, wrapping it around his waist, and flooding him with a sense of reassurance.
Thirteen ::I am no tool, Lucent, to be used to accomplish a purpose, then cast aside.::
Thirteen ::Why shall I do this for you?::
Lucent ::Because you are my friend.::
Thirteen ::I was friends with a boy, who believed he knew what was best for the world, who had a faith that was dashed, and who wanted to remake Creation, that more might be happy.::
Lucent looks into Ryshassa's eyes... "Thank you. Thank you..."
Thirteen ::That boy died before I met him.::
Thirteen ::I am not your friend. I prefer to meet people before I call them my friends.::
Lucent closes his eyes, wiping out a single tear even with the reassuring of the binds ::You are going to. And then, you will save me. I am not using anyone as tools, Thirteen. And I am not going to discard anyone.::
alsoquin A sudden feeling -- of intense energy, like the air has filled with electricity -- sweeps through the Manse.
zahara braces herself, Daiklave at the ready
Lucent "You will be with him soon, Zahara. I promise."
zahara "That sounds a bit ominous, Luc. You might want to work on your phrasing."
Thirteen ::What do you call every moment we have spent together since I met you, Lucent? What were you doing, if not manipulating us?::
alsoquin Suddenly, the spheres around the outside of the calendar rise up into place, to join the others in the planetarium.
zahara "What do those represent?" she asks.
Lucent ::I was trying to save the damned. Everything had to be perfect, Thirteen. I'm sorry.::
alsoquin Something appears on the wall, a design... a... map. Creation.
Thirteen ::Perhaps not so sorry as I am.::
alsoquin But as the Solars turn to look at it, the borders begin to expand... to grow, until soon, it is bigger... far beyond the boundaries they know.
Lucent "As it was. As it is."
zahara watches the map, "Destiny." she repeats, recalling the vision.
Lucent "As it should be..." He reaches out, almost touching it
zahara "Just before it turns dark again." she murmurs
Imrama looks to the new far North, where Askaru's last redoubt stands. "That is wonderful. And frustrating."
Thirteen ::Zahara. Did Lucent just do something?::
Lucent "And 'he' is your love, Zahara. The wolf. Soon. Soon. Everything is happening... finally..."
Thirteen ::Did you not hear me? We must proceed to the room of the Eclipse, or we will succeed in saving nothing. My plans do not account for incompetence or malfeasance.::
Thirteen ::If you wish to save the world, you may well have to lift a finger at certain specific moments, one of which appears to have arrived.::
Thirteen (to zee) ::Thank you.::
zahara "Yes, I know, but there are several ways in which I can join him."
Thirteen (to zee) ::What?::
zahara (13) ::He moved the calendar back to...:: she reads off the date to him.
Lucent ::The Eclipse Room it is!:: He points, happier than they have ever seen him, smiling. "Let's go!"
Lucent walks out, tugging on the bound for Zee to come!
zahara (13) ::It is reminding me greatly of the vision I had in the Wyld.:: She allows Lucent to tug her along, with one last appraising glance at the calendar.
Thirteen ::How unusual.::
Thirteen (zee) ::Tepet Ejava just became Exalted.::
Lucent walks back into the hall... and touches the wall, shining his caste mark and making many little writings appear on the wall... and reciting a poem to Jupiter. The walls open, a secret passage upwards!
zahara (all) ::For those who could not see it, the Borders of Creation have just expanded greatly. I'll show you a map later... There are some interesting new places to visit. Oh, and we seem to have awoken some dormant Gods. I am going to assume that they are not actively working against us quite yet.::
zahara (13) ::Ah, well, I suspect I know by whom. ::
Thirteen (zee) ::Do tell.::
zahara (13) ::One of the new gods we have reawakened... they are elementally aspected, and seem Celestial in nature.::
Thirteen (zee) ::Ah. This explains the existence of the Dragon-Bloods, a fact I confess that had long since puzzled me.::
zahara is dragged to a halt in front of the door, and opens it
Lucent ::Almost there. Thirteen... you may hate me right now... but thank you. You had no faith in me, but I had faith in you all. And we got here. By power. By faith. By friendship. Thank you.:: Reciting a little prayer to no one in particular, he opens the door