Thirteen steps into the Cathedral, and the door creaks closed behind him. (...)
Thirteen rolls his eyes.
For a moment, there is a refreshingly common experience for Thirteen -- a complete lack of all visual stimuli -- paired with a rather unpleasant and unusual one -- a complete lack of all non-visual stimuli. (...)
Then, one by one, they blaze into sight far above -- the dead stars, the fate engines of slain gods, markers of a sky that no living person has ever seen. The light they cast illumines the inside of the Cathedral: (...)
The great basilica stretches out to each side, the ebony seats in which the damned worship extending far down each side, as great windows -- somehow invisible from the outside -- depicting cthonic and incomprehensibly blasphemous scenes in homage to the Malfeans -- cast black pools of light upon the central aisleway and its crimson carpet. (...)
At the far end, Thirteen sees the apse, where a raised dais holds five ostentatious ebon-dark chairs and an immense variety of clerical implements set upon a series of small platforms, while above it all hang the most organic objects to be seen here: (...)
five skeletons, suspended by Essence just before the wall: four grotesque creatures outside of Thirteen's direct experience (though one might easily imagine them to be Hundredfold), and a single human in the center.
Thirteen walks calmly towards the dais, nodding his head towards the skeletons.
Though their deathly grins give them the expression of constant knowing laughter, the skeletons do not acknowledge Thirteen's gesture.
Thirteen pokes through the various clerical paraphernalia.
Quite a few strange objects, all cast in soulsteel, sit upon the various platforms: goblets set with gems of red and green whose insides shift fluidly with each passing moment, elaborate sacrificial knives, candelabra and decorative rods, replica skulls and bones, marbled black orbs, pentacles and mitres and objects of no obvious specific use.
Thirteen picks up and eats a few of the more interesting items, keeping his ears open for Essence patterns that deserve investigation.
The objects have the musty taste of death and disuse attached to them, and almost all of them have at least some minor Essence-driven function, but none seem tremendously powerful or important
Thirteen shrugs and sits down on the dais, examining the stars and comparing their appearance against his understanding of them, as expressed previously only through his understanding of formation and maneuver.
The stars are much as he might have expected them to be -- it is almost eerie how closely the knowledge of the forbidden winds translates to an understanding of the form of these dead constellations. Still, somehow there's a new nuance to them, something more, as if this expression is somehow closer to the true source of their powers.
Thirteen takes out a sheaf of paper and sketches them, his fingernail leaving fine dark etchings.
Thirteen finishes with that, gets up, and starts pulling the skeletons off the wall.
A voice, low and ethereal, speaks from far behind Thirteen: "Do not do that."
Thirteen "I need not, now that you have arrived."
Thirteen turns around.
What looks rather like a ghost stands at the far end of the cathedral, by the door: the tall shape of a man, bedecked in ceremonial robes, a tall hat upon his head and a gnarled staff in his hand, but only an emptiness where his face should be.
Thirteen "Good evening. I am Thirteen Blooming Flowers. I have come to discuss the Orrery of Darkness."