Imrama With a much more sober awareness of what it is getting itself into, the Fable of the Reconstruction follows the same pathway from Meru to the Isles of Glass.
Cerin converses with Imrama on the way, asking him of his memories of Heaven, building up a map of the Celestial City to complement his own memories from his two previous trips.
Imrama provides all the information he can.
Imrama "Where would you like me to make anchor, Huntsman?"
Grala The Isles glitter in the sun, while the vast bulk of Yu Shan itself dwarfs all that surrounds it, its great adamant walls glittering like no other substance in Creation.
Cerin "To the Crysanthemum first. I know it very well, and there are passageways to Yu Shan marked. Of course, they are sealed. But I am not unskilled at unsealing things."
Imrama brings the Fable into dock with the palace of the Golden Knights.
Grala The Chrysanthemum glints in the light of the purple-orange sky of Yu-Shan, as it has always done. Though none have called it home since the attack orchestrated by Qian Mian, the tiny gardens still grow, the pathways still remain immacuately swept.
Cerin steps down from the Fable, casting his vision about to compare it to when he was last here. "The passageways to Yu Shan are at the top of the hill, around the dome," he says, as he starts to walk up there.
Grala The bodies have been cleared from the Island, and whatever vital materials remained cleared out, but otherwise it seems to abide much as expected.
Cerin Cerin spends some time as he walks trying to work out who has done such a thing, although he doesn't let this distract him too much, and soon he has reached one of the great, sealed portals. He hopes that whatever link is behind it was not, or could not, be removed.
The Essence patterns on the portal are exceptionally elaborate and interwoven; the Essence pattern is so carefully constructed that it forms the shape of an eightfold-symmetrical chrysanthemum sigil deep within the jade-and-adamant door.
The "door" itself is at least ten meters thick, and so thoroughly suffused with Essence that Cerin's sight cannot actually penetrate it.
Cerin Cerin nodded to himself as he studied the arrangement of essence within the great doors. It was beautiful and precise, and it would be a shame to destroy it. But that was what he was here for, so. This would require a very subtle hand to force ... an interesting challenge. He started as he always did, with flowers, fresh roses from the heavenly gardens around him, plucked and split with the golden knife not to concentrate essence (...)
Cerin but to divert it, drawing out the time over which a mote would flow into the door, the better to disrupt the chrysanthemum. The motes swirled through the door, stressing it along one then two then three ... soon reaching along all eight lines ... then slowly letting it recover ... almost, before the pattern repeated again but stronger. Then faster. Then stronger still ... and then the wards faded into the jade of the door, (...)
Cerin quiessenct. For the moment.
There is a long, quiet pause, and then, as if it had always been meant to do this, the "door" -- a vast block of stone -- splits in two and slides to each side, exposing... what appears to be complete emptiness between where Cerin stands, and the adamant walls of Yu-Shan, hundreds of yards away.
There are very slightly inset squares into the far walls that Cerin suspects would be the equivalent entrances on the other side, though the difference between them and the surrounding glass is minimal at best.
Cerin Cerin returned briefly to the garden, plucking several fire orchids from amongst the flower beds, and then he simply ran straight forwards, throwing one orchid after another forward, charging it with essence as he ran, letting it burst into flames, stepping upon the burning petals, letting them lift him higher as he ran ever onwards ... until he reached the door, perching on the hairthin ledge like it were any other piece of ground!
Cerin now stands casually upon the microscopic ledge that forms the edge of the square. The walls of Yu-Shan are made of bright adamant; they are seemingly transparent, yet reflect so brightly and are so thick that the effect is more of an intense yet diffuse glow emanating from every piece of the vast bulwark.
Cerin Cerin has not got the flowers to held him this time, there is no array he can set up. Instead, there his just his own skill at manipulating essence, and so he begins. Leaning out, he sketches a perfect circle of essence upon the door, then his finger traces over the surface, delineating chords, sections, radii until the whole circle is an almost fratally complex arrangement of essence, which he sends spinning into the adamant, (...)
Cerin sections disappearing as they intersect with the perfect chrysanthemum, each one disrupting it fractionally until the circle passes over it all, encompassing the whole of the chrysanthemum ... which faded.
The Essence disappears into the doorway, and the pause this time seems to be quite a bit longer. Just as Cerin starts to think that he might have to find another route, however, a Z-shaped split forms on the glass, and the various panels withdraw, leading him into a simple hallway leading towards an upward-spiralling staircase.
Cerin ::I am inside. I will see you later, Air Admiral.:: And then with that last message, he vanishes from sight and indeed from all perception, starting to ascend the stairs at a light run, casting his vision forward.
The hallway bends up quickly, and unceremoniously dumps out into a small alleyway in Heaven, though from even such a vantage point Cerin can easily see many of the Heavenly City's grand landmarks: the orchard, the headquarters of the bureaux, the towers and archways and improbable statuary -- and at the center, unlike all else that lies around him, the Jade Pleasure Dome.
Cerin Cerin doesn't pause as he reaches the top of the alleyway, instead he continues moving, stepping out onto the streets of Heaven, heading towards the Jade Pleasure Dome. While he's sure there is probably endless interest and amusement to be had looking around the many Bureaux, he is here witha purpose in mind...
The streets bend and weave in elaborate geomantic patterns, the streetlamps of gold decorated with signs which name their thoroughfares only in the glint of colored glass and the scatter of light -- for there are far too many streets in Yu-Shan for even the grandest language to name each. (...)
As he draws nearer, the shape of the Dome becomes yet clearer: its vast green bulk, jutting upwards into the sky; the pentagonal base upon which it sits, tiny towers decorating each corner; the five grand entrances, each perhaps as large as the entirety of the Labyrinthine Cascade, ornately decorated with symbolism the depths of which no human mind could plumb --
much like the works of heart-breaking poetry scribed upon the Elemental Poles -- describing in words and symbols the every facet of existence, along all its innumerable fivefold divisions.
Cerin reads it as he approaches, such as he is able, memorizing the passages which as yet ellude him. Most of his attention, though, is devoted to searching for the Swords of Truth.
His vision as excellent as it is, Cerin is still miles away as he reads the inscriptions on the doors -- but as he draws closer, the presence of the Swords begins to become abundantly clear. Their crisp, cut-out forms shine the infinite light beyond far beyond their own physical presence --
and Cerin sees that a large number still stand at the gates of the Dome itself, while others patrol the streets within a ten-mile radius of the Dome at a remarkable clip.
Cerin diverts his path to intercept the nearest of these patrols, or at least where he judges the nearest will be when he gets there, intending to study them and their makeup a little more closely.
Cerin's path intersects with a group of two Swords on patrol, allowing him to slip directly between them and thereby get a most thorough glance. (...)
The first, most obvious thing about them is that they are... different, and the second is that they are wildly powerful. (...)
Where Gods, elementals, demons, and other beings all shared such deep structural parallels as to be nigh-cousins, the Swords truly seemed to be something else. If he had to compare them to something, perhaps the Shadowed Unlife Equation would be closest: (...)
for they seemed to him on an Essence level much as they appeared, a hole punched in the world itself that let the light of pure, unrefined, powerful Essence shine out from some point beyond, with no manner of body to hold that pattern in shape beyond the sheer, ornery fact of their existence.
Cerin How curoius Cerin notes to himself, as he walks through the middle of them, studying the immense flares of essence that apparently comprised their being. It is quite probably a good thing that they cannot percieve me. That is a trial I can leave until the way out. and then he continues on, deeper into the heart of Heaven.
The Swords do not stop to look at Cerin, and he continues on. (...)
There is nothing else that can stop him, and so he keeps moving, as the streets grow wider and the signs grow tangents and bend off into three dimensions to hold all that is needed to name them; until finally he finds himself walking around the outside of the dome, its "tiny" towers the size of small cities jutting up above him, the unimaginably vast doors standing shut to all comers.
Cerin Now that he is close enough to truely see things, Cerin starts to study the manifold arrangements of essence which surely must secure such a place, working out what must be avoided, what can be worked around, where he must go to get in. And never does he stop moving.
The Essence of the Dome itself is almost beyond measure; it is to the grandest Manses of Creation as they are to rickety shacks. Cerin sees arrangements of Essence he has never seen before: walls that can incorporate an intruder's entire self instantly into the very weave of the building, panels that apply twenty-seven distinct sensory processes to the space beyond them, (...)
patterns of time slowing and speeding that could be imperceptible or instantly destructive... The Jade that makes up the roof of the Dome is no less than half a mile thick, and the doors are bound each with fifty powerful enchantments: one for each of the founders of the world. (...)
Getting in the hard way, it seems, might be quite difficult indeed.
With a little examination, Cerin thinks that he might -- very, very carefully -- be able to climb one of the towers; not every stone and inch of the exterior was deadly to the touch, and though the face was sheer and utterly without holds, it couldn't possibly be more sheer than any other perfectly sheer wall without even the slightest imperfections....
Cerin Cerin therefore resolves to climb the wall up into one of the towers, somehow finding places to grip without apparently there being anything other than solid, perfect jade to grip, somehow avoiding the many many many interesting ways to die that the wall presented, flowing up the surface like he has done for so many other improbably impossible climbs, until soon, he is standing atop one of the dome's five great towers.