< Rathess Library | Sol Invictus Logs | Island of the Aalorai >

While Zahara investigates her newly found treasures, Cerin and Markuran return to the surface of the necropolis to search for the tombs of Ymir and Kiriath. Markuran's instincts lead him back to the door he opened before joining the others.

The door opens upon a forbidding stairway -- plunging almost straight down, and lined with numerous inlays of strange characters in black jade.

  • Markuran glances at Cerin and starts down the stairs. "Are you coming or going on?"
  • Cerin eyes the stairway with distrust, and the strange characters with curiousity before he turns to Marku "I will descend with you."
  • Markuran reads the characters as he walks down the stairs, checking occasionally for traps.

The characters speak boldy of the danger of this tomb -- Do Not Enter, they say, Evil Sleeps Here.

  • Cerin descends behind Marku, reading as he goes down. "Evil Sleeps Here. You were well loved it seems...if this is indeed your own tomb"
  • Markuran glowers darkly at the runes. After the fourth repetition of what nasty evil sleeps here and such, the big man snarls and slams his fist into the runes, smashing them. "I was NEVER evil."
  • Cerin raises his eyebrow at this, and makes no more comment, for now.

The stairs plunge rapidly downwards, and the Solars find themselves far beneath the surface rapidly. The air begins to adopt a strange smell -- not quite like anything the two have smelled before...things of some kind begin skittering in between cracks in the wall, making odd noises as they do so.

  • Cerin pauses to observe them, the magics of the suit making the darkness no object, and the essence they give off shining anyway..

The creatures are unlike any normal surface creatures, seeming to be somewhere between a slug and a centipede in nature -- only swift, and squeaky.

  • Cerin speaks under his breath "Truely they loved you" before he continues on after the hulking solar
  • Markuran sniffs. "What is that smell?"

<Cerin> "The creatures in the wall, perhaps, or some thing to do with the guards"

The stairs seem to end just slightly further down.

<Markuran> "What guards? There were no guards in Zahara's tomb. And you think these scaled pests would waste guards on my body when they slander lies already?"

<Cerin> "Zahara was no great evil they feared the awakening of, Marku"

<Markuran> "I WAS NOT EVIL!"

  • Markuran glares over his shoulder
  • Cerin presents an impassive red helmet to the glare.

<Cerin> "Well, are you going to go on, to find your shining heritage?"

<Markuran> "I will learn no truth in this place. But I hope to find the remnants of my past."

  • Markuran continues on downward, keeping a careful eye for blasphemy and guardians.
  • Cerin follows after him, wondering how the man survived this far, disbeleiving as he does the evidence of his eyes and ears if it does not suit him.

As Marku reaches the bottom of the stairs, he finds himself stepping out onto nothing -- the floor stops sharply at the end of the tunnel.

  • Cerin notes Marku starting to fall, and after a very brief internal debate, sprints forward and grabs the man before he falls
  • Markuran backpedals quickly, yelling curses into the darkness at the end of the stairs

Cerin's hand manages to catch on to Markuran's as the falling man scrabbles for a handhold

  • Cerin hauls him back away from the edge
  • Cerin lets go then walks to the edge, casting his eyes out over the chasm, looking for a way down, or across.

Stopping and looking out over the threshold, Cerin can see that the stairs lead into what appears to be a massive natural chasm -- sheer walls dropping down further than even Cerin's Essence-enhanced eyes can see.

<Markuran> "Damn those belly-crawling lizards! This is not the place for a bottomless chasm!"

  • Cerin looks up too.

The far wall of the chasm looms far, far away from the two, sitting easily a quarter of a mile away. Near the center of the chasm sits a small island of rock, at approximately the same level as the doorway -- upon it sits a small, golden building in the shape of a strange lion-like dog, flanked by eight torches that burn an unholy bluish color. Above lies only solid rock -- the dome of the cave is only perhaps 80 feet above the doorway.

<Cerin> "Well, that is where your body lies."

  • Cerin points towards the island

<Markuran> "And the middle of the bottomless chasm is an even worse place for my tomb!"

Strange creatures -- like bats, but larger, and oddly difficult to see -- wheel through the air surrounding the island.

<Markuran> "Can you see those..things?"

  • Cerin nods "Just about. They look like bats"
  • Markuran snarls in frustration and, sheathing his blade, moves to the side of the cavern. Raising both arms the big Solar takes only a moment to glance over his shoulder "Move back." before giving the rock face the full fury of his two sword-breaking fists. With a horrific thunder that makes Cerin wonder if Markuran has doomed them to die in a terrible cave in, the side of the rock face breaks off into a broad sheet.

<Markuran> ::The middle of the "bridge" falls away, but before the ends can teetter off into the abyss, Markuran smashes again and two stalagtites fall and with another horrific CRASH, nail the rock slabs into place.::

  • Cerin leaps from under the falling slabs of rock, pushing off them towards the bats. As it dives at him claws extended, he pushes off it, spining in the air, a blur of red silks moving from bat-thing to bat-thing. As the dust from the massive rock movements settle, he drops off the last bat to lightly land before the Lion-Dog.
  • Markuran simply walks across, taking a massive leap across the hole in the middle of his bridge, and then joining Cerin on the other side.
  • Cerin studies the golden building, and the lion-dog more carefully now he's closer

Upon the island itself, the two Solars can now easily detect the odd, pungent odor which emenates from the blue torches, burning without obvious source of fuel upon eight ebon poles. The building itself is not particularly large -- perhaps 50 feet, approximately cubical in shape. It is worked into an elaborate rendition of a lion-dog, with elaborate gilting upon key surfaces. It is bending down, and its open mouth contains the doorway inwards.

  • Markuran peers curiously at the blue-flame torches.

Cerin notices that a small amount of Essence seems to be suffused into the flame of the odd torches.

  • Cerin gestures towards the door "So, are you going to enter?"
  • Markuran nods, having satisifed his curiosity about the blue fire. Striding forward confidently, Markuran ignores any blasphemous writings and pushes at the door of his tomb
  • Cerin walks behind the man, studying the tomb carefully, taking notice of any 'blasphemous' warnings.

At the very moment Marku touches the door, two great blades swing out from the insides of the temple's mouth at incredible speed, moving directly towards the Solar's position.

  • Elise is now known as Zahara
  • Markuran leaps back, instantly drawing the Armsbreaker and hurling it into the path of the blades. They shatter as they try to cleave through his weapon, snarling into worthless hunks of metal. "How DARE they try to deny me enterance to my own tomb? What is their RIGHT?!"

<Cerin> "These traps are as much to stop tomb robbers as they are you, Marku. Would you have your tomb open to anyone who wished to wander down?"

Suddenly, a loud hissing noise sounds from within the chamber's mouth.

  • Markuran turns, growling at the hissing noise, crouching to attack..

Mark suddenly finds himself coughing and unable to breathe, leaving him no choice but to hold his breath as the strange, black gas begins seeping out from the walls of the temple.

  • Cerin backs swiftly away from the descending gas, not wanting to be caught within its embrace.
  • Markuran puffs out his chest as he fills his lungs one last time before the gas chokes off his clean air. Eyes watering, Markuran bellows at full-strength. "I AM MARKURAN THE BEAR, KIRIATH RETURNED! I AM BORN OF THE UNCONQUERED SUN, YOU WILL LET ME PASS!" before the Solar's mighty onslaught, the gas dissipates..
  • Cerin winces at the bellow and mutters "It was Kiriath's return that these wards sought prevent I think, annoucing your name to them will do you little good.."

The gas flutters away at the strength of Markuran's wild howl.

  • Markuran looks back at Cerin as the gas is blown away. "It worked, didn't it?"

<Cerin> "Apparently even noxious gas finds your shouting unpleasant, but yes, it worked"

  • Markuran glares..
  • Markuran returns to the door, eyeing it to find any further traps that have not been cowed into submission

Nothing appears obvious to Markuran's untrained eye.l

  • Markuran pushes the door open, nodding to himself that the tomb has apparently accepted his right to enter
  • Cerin ponders waiting out here, or going to find Zee, but decides to follow him in. He wants to know what he will find in there...

The inside of the tomb appears to be merely one large chamber, with no divisions of any kind. At its very center stands upright a vicious looking sarcophagus, made entirely of a black, semi-reflective metal. It bears the vague form of a vicious, angry individual upon it, and jagged, sharp spines stick off of it innumerous directions. Ringing it are six more of the strange blue torches which could be seen outside the tomb. Around the outside wall of the tomb, various containers -- apparently made entirely of black jade -- sit in various configurations, all unopened and undisturbed.

  • Cerin steps up behind Marku, looking around for decoration on the walls, similar to that which graced Zahara's resting place.

The walls themselves bear only one decoration -- elaborate, multi-layered invocations written in the characters of Old Realm, but whose words are unknown to either Solar.

  • Markuran moves toward the sarcophagous, looking eager. He ignores the wall-writings. Obviously they are just more lies. Using the Armsbreaker to avoid any spikes, Mark heaves the cover off his coffin...

The sarcophagus seems to be one solid block of metal; there is no obvious way in which to open or release it. It is as if it were actually cast directly around the remains.

  • Markuran glowers at it.

<Markuran> "Cerin, do you see anything on or in this tomb?"

  • Cerin moves around to study the molding more carefully. He shakes his head "They molded the soulsteel directly around your corpse. And inside it, something still moves."

<Markuran> "Soulsteel?"

<Cerin> "Soulsteel."

<Markuran> "Why would they use soulsteel to burry a Solar?" Mark's mouth twists in disgust

<Cerin> "Because that man was not worthy of the Suns metal, nor the moon's metal, nor the metal of the stars, not even worthy of the metal of the dragons. But still, they had to bind him in something to keep him in. That is why a solar would be buried in soulsteel"

  • Markuran turns to Cerin, eyes dark and fists clinched. "Never, no matter what body I wore, would I be evil. I am myself! Through all time! This is not my tomb..this can not be my resting place."

<Cerin> "If it is truely not yours, then we should leave, for I would not want to trespass in a tomb without the owners consent."

  • Markuran shakes his head violently. "Something drew me here. There is something here that needs to be done or found."

<Markuran> "But why would I be drawn to this place if it is not my tomb?"

<Cerin> "It could be the tomb of your deepest rival, but I think your instinct was correct in the first place. This is your tomb. That is your sarcophagus. You were everything you hate and revile now. And you would do well to heed the warnings of the past. Lest it happen again."

  • Markuran growls, opening his mouth to refute Cerin's words..but he finds he can't. Slumming against the wall, all the size and power of the big man is gone, he simply looks like a confused child, confronted with too many things he does not understand.
  • Markuran glares malevolently at the soulsteel wrapping around his corpse. "How can I claim to be a hero when darkness is within my heart? Darkness that deserves nothing but torment and cruelty."
  • Cerin looks sympathetically at the man, then moves over to the soulsteel coffin, studying it, trying to work out what moves within.
  • Cerin speaks as he does. "There is darkness in all peoples hearts. It is the heroes that do not let it show, Marku."

<Markuran> "I have done so or else I would not be laying, tombed in dark metal, hidden behind a cave, guarded by death and destruction. I would not be cursed and reviled."

<Cerin> "If you truely believe that you will be a dark and terrible being, and you do not wish that for yourself, vow that you will not let it happen or cast yourself over the cliff that surrounds this place and end all the darkness and the light right now."

  • Cerin speaks as though he does not care over much which option is taken.
  • Markuran shakes his head.

<Markuran> "I will not be evil this time. I will be stronger then I was then."

  • Cerin nods. He goes back to his studying
  • Markuran surges to his feet in a blur and rushes at the Sarcophagus. Armsbreaker levers the spike-covered mass of death into the air and Markuran slams into it, shoulder catching the weight and arms hauling it into the air. With a behemoth-throwing heave the enraged Solar flings the coffin at the wall of the tomb. "I WILL NOT BE YOU!"

<Cerin> "MARKU!! you fo-" *CRASH*

The sarcophagus crashes into the wall and drops to the ground, scuffed but otherwise unhurt. Cerin sees the Essence within swirl menacingly.

<Cerin> "Marku, that was quite possibly the most stupid thing I have ever seen you do. There is something within that coffin. Something that wants to be let out. Do you really wish to unleash it on Creation?"

  • Markuran howls in rage, not even hearing Cerin over the crash. Leaping forward, Markuran brings blazing fists down onto the soulsteel prison, the darkness that he can't help but see lurking in his own soul. In his mind, if he can destroy this, if his fire can destroy it..
  • Markuran looks at Cerin...
  • Zahara wanders down the passageway, oblivious to what's going on inside. She approaches the chasm, lit by her anima, and frowns, "Cerin? Marku?" she calls, and cocks an ear, listeing to the resounding crashes and howling.. "Oh, they must be inside already."
  • Cerin shakes his head and calls his bow of sunfire with its string of night to his hands, gathering his essence to be drawn into arrows of light about him.

As Marku's violent fists swing down upon the sarcophagus, the metal groans and then shatters under the force of the blow. Vicious shards of soulsteel fly out in all directions.

  • Markuran bats away the shards of spiked metal carelessly, searching for the true darkness, Cerin's words once more forgotten
  • Zahara walks across the chasm, giving no thought to the fact her feet do not actually touch Markuran's bridge, nor the gap she crosses, and stands before the lion-dog, noting the twisted metal that used to be weapons.

The two halves of the beastly case fall to the ground, and ancient bones spill out of them, clattering to the floor.

  • Cerin 's form shimmers and blurs as the storm of the dark metal scythes through him.

<Zahara> "Markuran?" she calls. "I'm coming in. Don't kill me."

Mark sees, from the corner of his eye, something dark begin to slide out of the coffin -- then, suddenly, the blue torches blow out.

<Markuran> ::Shards of dark metal fly past Zahara, clinking nosily.::

<Cerin> "Zahara! Be ready to defend yourself!"

A horrific groan, unearthly and strange, fills the tomb, and echoes out to Zahara. Then, a massive, evil wind blows through the tomb.

  • Zahara ducks through the doorway, flicking aside the shards of metal with her spiffy new sword. "I figured out what they do.... oh."
  • Markuran eurrupts into a blaze of light as he lunges at the darkness, slamming it to the ground. "You will not escape me! YOU WILL DIE HERE, I WILL NOT LET YOU GO FURTHER!"
  • Zahara sets herself across the doorway, and prepares herself for battle, her five weapons orbiting her in addition to the daiklave which moves on wings of essence to defend her. "What did you DO?" she calls, as she stands across the threshold

Marku leaps angrily, but slams into the ground, feeling a terrible -- yet oddly familiar -- pain as he passes through the black wind.

  • Cerin gasps as he percieves the darkness spreading in the tomb, as he watches it take form. Then he draws back three motes of sunfire, each one star of brilliance in the blackness of the tomb, and it is these that he lets fly toward the remains of Kiraith, retaining their brilliance even against the light of Marku's flare. Each of the three is imbued with the ghost eating techinque, and each one bites deeply of the ghost.

The black wind moves swiftly to move away from the shining bolts. The small wisps that remain are annihilated by the bolts, but the body of the dark spirit shifts and slides to avoid them. Then, suddenly and rapidly, it blows at a rapid pace out the door of the building.

  • Zahara stands across the threshold, all 6 weapons poised to prevent its escape. She reaches out and touches the Bell as it peals, imbuing it with the Spirit-Cutting attack as it shatters the air around it
  • Cerin turns and starts to run towards the exit, after the ghost. He leaps to get past Zahara, his body twisting in the air as he dives past her, another set of sunmotes drawn on his bow as he does, firing at the thing once more, before it mounts the bridge.

Zahara's pealing bell seems to tear into the swirling, black winds of the being.

  • Markuran hefts the skull of his long-dead incarnation and flings it with all his might. The skull flares into a ball of pyrotechnic fire as it leaves Markuran's hand, screaming through the air. Shattering on impact, it banishes the darkness from the cavern as it explodes, sending the stone bridge into the depths of the chasm. Burning fragments of Kirdian's bone hurl themselves into his dark spirit.

The wind swirls around Cerin's arrows and the shards of Kiriath's skull, desperately seeking its exit. Half of the skull rebounds off the wall, striking directly through the wind as it flies out the door, burning it severely. A horrible stench and a terrible scream fill the room as the wind slips out into the blackness and disappears.

  • Markuran snatches up a tibia and races after the black wind!
  • Zahara turns and runs as fast as she can in the direction of the spirit's flight, feet landing as solidly on air as they did the stone of the central island, skirt flying up in the blowing wind, one last shot, she lets the bell peal, enhanced with the potency of her essence.

The bell's peal echoes out into the cave. Cerin's Essence sight is enough to see that it clips the bottom of the black wind before it slips up through a crack in the ceiling and can be seen no more.

<Zahara> "Where'd it go?"

  • Cerin raises his bow to shoot again, then curses fluently. "Through a hole in the ceiling. It will be outside now. Quick! we have to follow it!"
  • Markuran tips his head back and lets out a blood-curdling howl of rage and hate that chases the black wind out into the dark skies of Rathess

<Markuran> "How?" waves a fist at the destroyed bridge, lost Marku's last attack against the creature

  • Zahara flexes her legs, then suddenly sprints straight up into the air, as if it were flat ground, at the last second, she calls her weapons to her, and as one, they drive into the crack in the ceiling, splintering and widening it, shattering the stone
  • Markuran ducks, deflecting falling stone as Zahara chases the shadow
  • Cerin runs once more, leaping after Zahara. he leaps from bats and the shattered hunks of rock Zahara throws down, reaching the hole and leaping out of it into the sunlight above.
  • Markuran grabs the trailing end of Zahara's enchanted chain and lets it haul him up

The Solars burst through the ceiling into a crossroads near the middle of Rathess. An evil black cloud is nowhere to be seen.

<Zahara> "Cerin, do you see it?"

  • Zahara looks around quickly, scanning for the evil cloud
  • Cerin leaps onto more solid ground. He shakes his head "It has left this place..but..." he concentrates very hard, visualising the beast. Something such as this could not have fled without leaving some trace on Creation. It is this trace that Cerin will follow.
  • Zahara lifts the chain until it hovers over sturdy ground, so Markuran can stand on his own
  • Cerin looks at the beast's trail -- which seems to lead straight up.

<Cerin> "Zahara! one of your wasps!"

  • Zahara puts two fingers in her mouth, and whistles. The wasps they rode in on appear, as well as Tantamount. "Hop on."
  • Cerin leaps on behind her "We go up! straight up!"
  • Markuran clambers onto the wasp, still clutching the tibia furiously. "It must not escape!"
  • Zahara follows her own advice, straddling the manticore, and looking to Cerin for direction. "Up it is!" They leap into the air, Tantamount's strong wings moving them faster than her legs ever could. "Why did you set it FREE?"

<Cerin> "That was Marku. He went into a terrible rage, when the truth finally hit him. He truely was an evil man then...that thing...it was no ordinary hungry ghost.."

<Zahara> "I thought hungry ghosts were tied to their corpses"

<Cerin> "They are. That was not a hungry ghost. It was the malevolance of those we were created to fight, imbued into the essence of God. It was an abomenation that should never have been seen under the light of day."

<Cerin> "We /MUST/ catch it."

<Zahara> "We WILL catch it, and we WILL destroy it."

<Zahara> "And when we're done, we're going to have a little TALK about setting free UNHOLY THINGS" she glares over her shoulder at Marku

<Markuran> "It had to be destoryed, not imprisoned. It should not be suffered to exist."

<Cerin> "It will not be an easy task though...its enlightenment, if you can call it that...It's basic command of essence matches that of what we might manage in several hundred years from this day"

<Zahara> "Do you think it would be imprisoned if those of the FIRST AGE knew how to destroy it?"

<Markuran> "We are Solars. Those who slew me were merely Dragon-Blooded."

<Cerin> "Marku, if you had that within you, I am not so sure it was the blooded who killed you."

<Zahara> "You are arrogant, Markuran. Arrogant and a fool."

<Zahara> "You're lucky it didn't possess you again."

  • Cerin sighs "Still it climbs!"

<Zahara> "It climbs, and so do we.. can you track such a thing? I did not realize that you could track even a flying creature."

<Markuran> "Where is it GOING? Why does it not turn and fight us?"

<Cerin> "It has left a blackened trail in the essence of creation, in many ways it is the easiest thing I have ever followed, for no magics can conceal the dark wake it leaves"

<Zahara> "Because it is wise. It knows it cannot beat three of us in a fair fight."

<Zahara> "Or perhaps it has a darker purpose... one which it flees TOWARD, rather than simply away from us."

<Cerin> "I am not sure. It used defences of such puiessence and skill as one might expect from one of our number."

<Zahara> "It may be strong, but it is one, and we are many."

  • Cerin nods, then looks up past her, at the blackened trail. Will it turn or will it butt against the sky itself?

<Markuran> "It is a dead..thing. It can not possibly draw on the powers it had in life."

<Zahara> "It already DID, Markuran. Why can't you see?"

<Cerin> "Marku. It did. It will do so again. Take some responsibility for the evil you have left loose, and admit that it can do things that your narrow world view will not let it do. Otherwise, throw yourself from that wasp, lest you bring another such being into existance in this age."

<Markuran> "I admit that I have unleashed this evil, Cerin. But only so that it can be finally vanquised."

<Zahara> "Do you admit that your PRIOR incarnation... not you right now, but before, when you had not yet been born... could have been less than pure?"

<Cerin> "Then you should have done it when we had wards and barriers in place to contain it! not where it lay!!"

<Markuran> "His skull burned this monster. It was not who I was. It..corrupted him."

<Cerin> "You do not get that powerful without willingly giving into the darkness. It cannot corrupt the light, not without the light's consent"

<Zahara> "IF you wish to defeat the evil, you must know it. You have to realize that you could fall to it unless you truly, deep in your soul, reject it.. Not just with words, but with your heart. There can be NO fear. No doubt. Only the certainty that you do not need the power it offers."

<Zahara> "Think about it, Markuran, before you speak to deny me."

<Markuran> "I have never needed any power but my own."

<Zahara> "Remember that, when the time comes. Their words are sweet, and they tempt you with promises. Promises that seem beyond your ken, but that they can truthfully keep."

  • Cerin glances down at Creation below, and at the stars above. then "ZAHARA, watch out!"
  • Zahara clings to Tantamount as he executes a loop in the sky
  • Cerin watches the lump of grey rock plunge towards creation "where did /that/ come from?"

<Zahara> "What the hell WAS that?"

<Cerin> "It looked like a ..rock of some kind"

  • Markuran snarls. "It got away!"

<Cerin> "How high can tanty climb?"

<Zahara> "Until there is no more sky"

<Markuran> "The tomb may have a way to kill the monster...once we find it."

<Zahara> "I doubt it.. although it may have legends that describe what it was."

  • Cerin rides with Zahara until there is no more sky, and there is naught but a solid sheet of adamant. Moslty solid. Above them there is a rent in the heavens, the walls have been twisted by some strength that defies the imagination, to allow the creature to escape to the space beyond, then sealed behind it.

<Zahara> "We'll have to find another way."

<Cerin> "What lies beyond the sky?"

<Zahara> "I have only read fragments, but.. beyond Creation is either the Void, or Malfaes."

<Cerin> "I do not think it was seeking the Void...so...it is in the demon realm"

<Zahara> "I will have one summoned to deal with it."

<Cerin> "I am not sure that anything you can call will face it and live"

<Zahara> "Then I will call more than one."

<Cerin> "I think we will have to wait for it to show itself, and best it ourselves."

<Zahara> "Perhaps Lucien can track it in Malfaes"

<Cerin> "Perhaps. I think if Lucien can, Lucien will not long retain his ...life"

<Cerin> "Anyway, this discussion would best be held on more solid ground"

<Zahara> "That may well be true, but if he is attacked long enough and by many enough, he will run out of options."

<Cerin> "Perhaps. Shall we descend though? I am made curious about my own tomb, though I will avoid opening any soulsteel coffins I find within"

  • Markuran nods, glowering
  • Zahara nods and spirals downward
  • Markuran nods glowering at the sky. "We must search my own first, to see if anything useful against this beast can be found"

Tags: (:tags Kiriath, Siram, Malfeas:)

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