alsoquin Thirteen bursts into the room at the same exact moment as, on the opposite side of the room, Zahara and Luc (and the other Imrama) burst in from another door. (...)
alsoquin The room itself is much like the Night caste room far below. A great hawk bas-relief sits upon the ceiling, and in its claws, a simple, silver design of an ecliptic sun, much like the one that hangs above... (...)
alsoquin At the center of the room, the table shows the new boundaries of Creation... but none of these things are the most interesting: because another figure is already here. (...)
alsoquin At one corner of the room, Cerin the Wolf stands, his bow of true love in one hand, and three shadowy versions of himself stand briefly behind him before dissipating, and just as he turns to look at Zahara, another door opens, and Lai Misuna steps into the room -- and looks very surprised. (...)
alsoquin Somewhere, far above, in the sky, three stars align perfectly: the Trini Draconis. And on Cerin's finger, a simple grey ring begins to shine with the light of all three.
Imrama sees the names that belong to Cerin clearly ... Cerin of Arranth, Cerin the Wolf, The Hunter in the Empty Forest.
zahara "Hello, My love."
Cerin smiles at her "Greetings, my love."
Lucent "Finally." Lucent smiles, a bang falling over his eyes, obscuring them... "I thought you would be late."
Cerin "Ah, no, Lucent Copper Haze, I have been within the Manse some time."
Cerin "Lai Misuna, we meet once more." he says, voice edged with a growl.
Thirteen "Lai. Why does Siram want you to live, and what does he want you to do?"
alsoquin Lai Misuna wastes no time in drawing his red rapier, but just as he does so... the ring on Cerin's finger begins to glow much, much brighter, and the air seems to grow thick.
alsoquin The light grows, until nothing can be seen, and a sound -- like a glass harmonica, pure and clean -- fills the air.
Lucent spreads his arms wide, a wide, almost disturbing smile on his face "I DID IT!"
Thirteen "Zahara, I just want you to know that whatever Lucent did, it is all your fault."
zahara "Everything always is."
alsoquin In the halls of the Labyrinthine Cascade, all is quiet at first glance, for those who live there have gone.
alsoquin But in one meeting hall, a quiet gathering has been called. The messenger came an hour ago, and already, they have gathered.
alsoquin Ahoram is there, and Shining, and others... newer faces, but all clad together in the red and gold uniform of the Resplendent Sabres, and Serenal, grinning proudly at their head.
alsoquin And after a moment, the one they wait for arrives: a girl -- or a woman... her hair back, in a grand and glorious suit of Orichalcum armor that shines brilliantly, and a great lion's head at her neck.
alsoquin She lifts up the Eventide gently and smiles, before speaking: "Alright, everyone. It's time to go."
Phoenix Ignoring Thirteen and Zahara's theatrics, Phoenix takes stock of the gentleman in red robes. "So, you are Cerin the Wolf. Pleased to make your acquaintance." She nods and touches her forehead, the salute given to a brother in Caste.
Cerin nods to Phoenix, touching his forehead. "Greetings, She who was once Birds Of Trinity."
alsoquin Phoenix nods, and then... the light seems to overtake everything, and Lai utters something incomprehensible... the sound... the sound is SO loud....
alsoquin Until all that can be seen is the stars' light, and alll that can be heard is the stars' sound....
alsoquin And then, Lai finds himself in the chamber... and Lucent Copper Haze, the only other person in the room, looks him in the eye.
alsoquin Zahara feels herself begin to awaken.
zahara blinks slowly, hazily. She yawns, and stretches, wondering what time it is.
alsoquin Zahara finds herself on a road, a dusty, hot road... and as she looks around, she sees her companions begin to awaken too... though their clothing is odd -- peasant clothes, not at all what any of them were wearing before.... and Luc nor Cerin are not there.
zahara blinks and looks down at herself, now somewhat sure that the dream is the current events, and she has fallen asleep.
alsoquin Zahara sees the hands she is used to, but she is clad much as the others are.
alsoquin And as she looks, she notices: she sees no Essence... feels no Essence.
zahara clenches her fists, and looks out upon the landscape defiantly. "We should get going, there's not much time to waste."
Thirteen snorts, and blinks his eyes open -- then looks rather alarmed, feeling his face, as he gets to his feet.
Thirteen "Going? Where?"
Phoenix uncurls, stands up, yawns, stretches.
zahara "Out of here."
Imrama rubs at his eyes as he awakens. "This is a strange and different dream."
Phoenix stumbles, and sits on the ground, in the dirt.
Phoenix "What is this?"
alsoquin Thick sand blows through the air, so visibility distance is limited... but down the road, someone seems to be coming.
zahara "I'm going to go with 'Destiny and Mortality.' It's uncomfortable, but you will get used to it. Come on."
Thirteen "Ah. Our welcoming parade arrives."
Thirteen "Shall we greet them?"
Phoenix "Let him hope he is a stranger, because I am not in a good mood."
Phoenix stands up and assembles her composure. It comes slowly, and it is, like her clothes, ragged at the seams.
Lucent There is a figure walking on the road, shining through the sand. A man of of dark skin and hair, so familiar despite his natural, unfamiliar red eyes. He is dressed on a form-fitting suit, of a design similar to Cerin's although it is more white than red. Adamant bracers filled with colored sands wreath both of his wrists and a strange small scorpion skulks about his shoulders, but there is still no doubt as to who that man is, despite his age, despite his attire: Lucent Copper Haze, regarding them with a detached smile, as a king to his subjects.
Thirteen "You are in luck."
zahara steps forward, "Lucent Copper Haze. You seem well-dressed. Is this place yours?"
Lucent blinks. "Madam... surely you are mistaken?"
zahara "Helios then? Or do you have another name as well?"
Lucent "Helios, yes. Helios Red Sands. I was beggining to worry, if you were ignorant of that!"
Thirteen "You were correct to worry."
zahara "Well, I've had a lot on my mind lately." she says flatly. "Why have you brought us here?
Helios "Madam, this is indeed my realm, but I have not brought you here. You have come here yourselves, it seems." He points at the road, and the scorpion rushes to his hand, clicking cutely. "Whatever brought you to the Kashaen Desert, it was not my hand."
Phoenix spits a curse into the sand at her feet. "No, but it will have been your hand, I think."
zahara "You do not happen to be in the habit of having your name and visage stolen or hidden, do you?"
Thirteen busies himself with tidying his clothes.
Helios eyes Phoenix and Zahara... hell, all of them as if they had sprouted a third eye or something equally strange! "Not stolen... although, I tend to dress like the peasants to pass as one at times. And to hide my thoughts when... nessessary. But, but, come on, explain this to me on this road..." He continues walking... "I am late. Terribly, terribly late."
Imrama begins inspecting his surrounding, testing for the familiar tastes of dream-stuff in the wind and light of this place.
Thirteen "I am afraid you may be somewhat later."
alsoquin The world around Imrama has only the taste of cold, harsh reality.
Helios "Why, a meeting of the great Solar Deliberative, of course!" He nods and smiles patronizingly to Zahara, continuing his walk. Clearly, they would not slow him, although he did motion for them to follow!
Phoenix "Are you sure you want to detain him?" Phoenix pronounces "him" with every degree of bafflement and scorn available to her.
zahara "The calendar."
Helios "It will likely be quite boring, but there are always the friends!" He nods. "Say, it has been a while since I met such curious peasants, so you could tell me... have the rumors about Quen persisted?"
zahara "Can you tell me what the date is, today?"
Thirteen "We have come to kill you, Helios Red Sands."
Thirteen "It is our only chance to save Creation."
zahara "Thirteen, wait."
Thirteen "I believe I have heard you say something to this effect previously, Zahara."
zahara "This is my responsibility. I will take care of it."
Thirteen "Your dedication comes somewhat late."
Helios looks at him, and suddenly the sand leaps out of his bracers, forming an arsenal of colored sand blades infused with his Essence, his anima wreathing him like a crimson-white sandstorm as he takes hold of a blade like a master swordsman and points it towards Thirteen! "Who sent you? Nyx? Balor? Whoever it was, this is the worst ambush I have ever been subjected to."
zahara rolls her eyes. "Don't kill him, Helios."
Thirteen "You sent us."
Helios takes another of the swords, becoming a Steel Devil "Is your friend mad?"
zahara "Will you shut up for a moment, Thirteen Blooming Flowers?"
Helios "As for the date... it is the Seventeenth Ascending Earth of Deliberative Year 2286."
Helios "And this will not be the day I die."