Imrama Because Imrama has navigated to and from Yu-Shan multiple times now, the journey is both quick and relatively easy, as those aboard the Fable enjoy the fresh-hewn permanent route between worlds for the first time.
Cerin "Thank you for the smooth transport, Imrama. It is my belief that we are now allowed to land within Yu-Shan, and proceed from there to where the gods are being held."
The glittering architecture of Yu-Shan shines before them, as beautiful and unchanging as ever.
Imrama Greatly pleased at the opportunity to actually pilot the Fable into Yu-Shan, Imrama charts a course for the holding area - taking the opportunity to take in the heavenly sights a bit, of course.
Cerin wraps his arm around Zahara
zahara looks out over Yu Shan, leaning comfortably against Cerin
Imrama easily pilots the vessel towards the Dark Circle, a ring of menhirs cast of rock so dark that no light can escape it, each the size of a small town, across which is draped a gauzy field woven from the very stars; within lie imprisoned the thousands upon thousands of Gods who sided with the Red Lily in the war.
Varanim contemplates their approaching destination, resting chin on hand, elbow propped on the rail. "God losers get pretty prisons," she murmurs.
Cerin "They do. But then, this is Heaven."
Varanim "So, anyone care to recap this thrilling adventure in two sentences before we land, or should I just look pretty and polite like usual?"
Cerin "The gods were imprisioned after the conflict in Creation was acted out by the various gods in Heaven at the end of the Calibration while they were kept here by the gates breaking. In investigating this, I took my greivances to the Unconquered Sun, who gave me the power and made it my responsibility to deal with the problem."
Cerin "Well, you did ask for a two sentence summary."
Varanim "No, that was great, thanks. You make a very cute justicar to the gods."
Amongst the writhing masses of deities within the Circle, one figure in particular stands out as obviously head and shoulders above the others: Ahlat, the Southern God of War.
Varanim swivels back around to resume looking over the railing. "So we get to poke them with sticks, change their slop buckets, what?"
Imrama lands the Fable atop the net of stars.
The ship sits gently down upon the gauzy prison, soft yet strong as steel.
Cerin "All that, and more."
zahara eyes Ahlat levelly, fingering the silvery scarves about her waist.
Varanim "Hallooo down there, loser gods! We're here to spank Ahlat, apparently."
Lucent steps out of the Fable, looking at the God of War. "Hello, Ahlat. It has been a long time."
Cerin "Greetings, Gods of Creation," Cerin says, his voice not that loud but carrying. "You have been imprisoned here for some time for your actions against Heaven and Creation. It is now my place to judge what will be done. I am not here to mete out summary justice however, and so I would like to converse with those you would designate your leaders, that I can understand why you did what you did."
Ahlat strides forward, fire snorting from his nose, his eyes filled with a familiar hatred, shoving smaller gods out of the way without any particular visible effort. In just a few moments he's pushed past everyone else to stand defiantly before the Solars. "You," is all he says.
zahara smirks. "Us indeed."
Ahlat "Why are you here?" he says, and snorts again.
zahara flips a small, silvery object that glitters as it arcs through the air towards him. "To deliver you from bondage, of course"
Lucent "Hello, Ahlat. It has been a long time." He nods. "We have questions for you."
Ahlat is not amused at Zahara's little jest. "I do not answer questions," he says, sullen and angry.
zahara "Actually, you will."
Imrama "Your people are waiting for you to return to them, o god of war and cattle. Hubris has led you to this place - it will not lead you out of it."
Ahlat "Who are you to speak of my people?," he says.
Imrama "One who cares greatly for their wellbeing. My friend Cerin the Wolf has been entrusted the the responsibility of judging you and your fellow prisoners. We have come to deal fairly with you in this respect. If you would answer his question honestly, it would make it much easier for me to argue your case."
Lucent "I am one of them. They are my people as well as yours'." Lucent looks at Ahlat evenly. "Your stewardship of Southern Wars was broken. You allowed the dead to rampage and defile the land where glorious wars should be waged for Heaven, Ahlat. I trusted the likes of you to protect them while I was away. You failed. And as you remain here, things get even worse. Have you no pride left for your function?"
Ahlat looks over Luc for a moment, surprised, not entirely sure who he's speaking to at first. Then he blinks, three times.
Lucent smiles. "Took you long enough."
Ahlat "I have kept my duties and done all for my people," he says. "The war I have waged has been glorious and right."
Imrama "In this war, you fought on the side of the Yozis. Please explain how this could be of benefit to any of the inhabitants of Creation."
Ahlat "Our war was not fought for the Yozis. Whatever foolishness their agents might have arranged with Lai was not what I fought for."
Imrama "The soldier serves the general's ends, no matter his pretense of separate intentions. You chose your allies poorly, Ahlat, and Heaven and Earth have suffered greatly for it."
Lucent "What DID you fight for, then, God of War and Cattle? What was worth the slaughter of your charges... merely to distract the enemy? Not even a proper war. Had you arranged things so it was glorious... but no, not even that."
Ahlat "To battle and conquer. To spill blood. To raise Harborhead above all."
Varanim "It's almost as if," Varanim drawls, "the problem is having war gods."
Lucent "So you wish to be demoted to God of Harborhead? Strange. Is that what Lai promised you?"
Ahlat "Much more than that," Ahlat says, without the slightest sense of irony.
Lucent "What, then?" Lucent asks off-handedly, as if disbelieving it would be worth it to hear.
Ahlat "The uncontested ruler of the South," he says. "A Harborhead that stretches past the Pole of Fire itself."
zahara "Not much of a Harbor."
Imrama "Dominion? The war god of the shining south allowed himself to be lured into betraying his post and his people for petty promises of rulership. You disappoint, Ahlat."
Lucent "He had already done that, from what I hear. The Sun's gift for him, his position, was not enough for him, apparently." Lucent snaps his fingers, looking down on the Bull God. "Was the meaning of your holy duty always lost on you, Bull God?"
Ahlat "Things are different for you," he says. "You were wrenched from your petty lives by another's hand. You know nothing of the Gods."
Imrama "There you are once again wrong, Horned God. I know a great deal of the gods: your history, your customs, your all-defining natures. The gods are blessed with a clarity of purpose unknown to any of Creation's other inhabitants. Yet you have chosen to squander that purpose. I am sorry for you, and sorrier still for your people."
Ahlat "And what have you done?," he says, and snorts. "I saw things as they were and sought to have more. Do not tell me that you do not do the same."
Lucent "We seek to DO more for things. For the people. We seek to protect and save the world. And to understand it. That is what the Sun tasked us with, Bull God! The Mandate of Heaven! Have you become so jaded as to forget the wonders Creation bears every day?" He shakes his head. "We seek more, always, Ahlat. But what you actually sought... is less."
Imrama "You were the father of a nation, and you chose to trade it all to be the tyrant of an empire. That is not merely less, it is immeasurably so."
zahara toys with her scarves, leaning back against the rail.
Lucent ::He did it out of selfishness. Empire-building desires. I imagine the same will be true of the rest.:: Lucent sighs for no apparent reason. ::If we make a Trial be an event to shatter their reputations, to humble them before the people of Creation, that might change... if they find themselves struggling to regain Creation's goodwill. They seem to take that, and their position, for granted.::
Ahlat "That is always the way of the victors, telling those who stand below them how wrong it was to envy their difficult place at the top," he says. "I have seen it many times." (...)
zahara ::There's nothing wrong with building an empire. You simply have to win.::
Ahlat He kneels down. "And now, you will demand we debase ourselves before your generosity, yes? Accept a small but vital part in your new world order?" His words drip with scorn and anger.
Lucent ::It is not his place to even attempt it, Zahara. Look at that. That needs to be fixed.::
zahara "Only if you wish to return to Creation."
zahara shrugs idly
Imrama "You have failed your world, your people, and most of all yourself, so desperately, that I would hesitate to ask even the slightest thing of you, Ahlat. I would not wish to shame you any further with your inability to meet the challenge."
zahara ::You know, one day we should finish killing him.::
Varanim Varanim, who has looked absently bored for a while, suddenly looks thoughtful. "If you don't want to go back to Creation, look me up. I might have some work for you." She rakes her eyes over the rest of the prison, adding, "That goes for the rest of you."
Ahlat waits for Imrama to finish.
Imrama "You have made the mistake of believing that acting on your lowest impulses of greed and avarice could bring you fulfillment. It is a grievous and costly error, for you and so many others, but the company you currently keep demonstrates that it is hardly an unpopular one."
Imrama "If you would be willing to consider the opposite strategy, of seeking self advancement through righteous action and the protection of Creation, then there could be much glory in store for you in the Third Age, despite all the scorn you heap upon it. If not, then I have nothing better to offer you than the debasement of your current condition."
Ahlat There is some bristling and grumbling from the other gods who surround Ahlat, though no one steps forward to defend themselves particularly.
Lucent "I still say he be replaced by another who will understand the honor inherent in being the Southern War God. One whose horns have not been dulled by greed." A little Unconquered Sun in Lucent's shoulder nods.
Ahlat stands up and sets his jaw. "Have you come here to remove us from this prison?" he says, stubborn but a little humbled by the exchange.
Imrama "We have come here because the Sun Unconquered has charged Cerin the Wolf with correcting the Terrestrial Bureaucracy. I have come because I thought to defend you against the charges arrayed against you. I did not expect you would need defending from yourself."
Varanim shrugs. "Sovereigns always deny the right of law when it applies to them--fifth oldest story in the book. Wake me up if anyone comes up with something new this time."