After some research, the Solars discover that Tepet Ejava's army is currently operating in the coastal Southwest region. Guided by spy reports, Kai and Markuran, with Cathak Relovia in tow, step through a gate and into a pleasant coastal area, some miles from her last reported location.
<Kai> "So, are we on terms with this person? Y'know, good terms?"
<Kai> "Have we before? Or vice versa?"
<Relovia> "Despite Ejava's estrangement from the Realm, however, she is still a citizen of it. She is quite likely to react poorly at first to the presence of two Anathema."
<Kai> "Well... We ARE charming..."
<Relovia> The light woods that the Exalts walk through lighten into white-quartz beach as the Exalts further down the path. Emerging into the open air, they can see a ramshackle but quite extensive encampment, directly upon the waves, perhaps half a mile away.
<Relovia> "Allow me to initiate communications."
<Relovia> A few minutes pass before Relovia walks back over. "She will meet with us."
<Relovia> Relovia leads the two Exalts into the camp. It is the abode of a military group that has seen better days, certainly, but it is still a strong, powerful army. A grim determination holds over the entire area as sullen soldiers glare at the Exalts from the doorways of their tents. At the center is a tent slightly larger than any other, and bearing a black flower insignia; it is into here that Relovia walks.
<Relovia> Behind a surprisingly gorgeous war table -- probably the only furniture in this entire camp -- sits Tepet Ejava herself, the Roseblack. A strikingly beautiful but sharply composed woman with brilliant red hair, she stands clad from neck down entirely in intricately carved green jade platemail, the sigil of a black rose displayed prominently on her breast. A map of the region lies on the table, various markers placed upon it, w
A map of the region lies on the table, various markers placed upon it, which she contemplates moodily.
She looks up. "Cathak Relovia. You have survived the destruction of the Immaculate Order."
Relovia nods curtly. "I managed to escape, yes."
The Roseblack surveys the other two Exalts with a calculating eye. "I do not know your names."
Ejava looks them over carefully. "So. Why do two notorious Anathema seek councel with an exiled general of the Realm?"
Ejava lifts a mug of some kind to her lips and takes a deep draught before continuing. "Surely you exaggerate."
Ejava takes another deep drink. "If the world is ending, then all we do here is for naught. That is unfortunate; my men have killed and died with greater heroism than I have ever seen before. If such a thing were to happen, though, I would think it would be at the hands of your own accursed kind."
<Kai> "Cursed or not, we're the ones standing between Creation and destruction... Though your hand would surely be appreciated."
Ejava begins to answer. "Despite your entreaties, I cannot abandon my true loyalty. I am sworn above all else to restore the Realm to its utmost glory, and you, by your very nature, are irredeemable enemies of the Realm. I cannot take the risk o--" She is interrupted as a large explosion rocks the very ground from a location clearly within the camp.
Outside the tent there is a scene of pure chaos. Soldiers are running about in every direction. Perhaps 500 feet away, a massive crater smokes where there were once several tents; a strange green Essence flows out of the wound in the earth, as if residue from whatever caused it. At a border of the camp, a rather sizeable force of God-Exalts are engaging Ejava's men.
As Kai runs towards the conflict, she sees that it's more than men -- Exalted or not -- who come in this force. Rocky beast-headed creatures form a second rank to the impressive force being thrown against them, and some sort of strange dark haze hangs over them.
Kai cuts viciously through Exalts, her arms moving in a symphony of destruction as the Realm soldiers battle around her. Marku no sooner has thrown the tent -- knocking several foes aside -- than the dark haze surrounding the Hundredfold begins to coalesce and draw inward to a smaller, darker cloud.
Tepet Ejava has drawn out a great jade daiklave and is busily slaying foes herself as she shouts orders to her men. Relovia has rolled up her sleeves and is kung-fuing like there is no tomorrow.
The black cloud coalesces further and suddenly begins to move at an extraordinarily rapid pace -- making a beeline directly towards Marku.
<Kai> "Shit!" Kai makes a b-line for her companion, charging half-blindly, hoping to help him fend off the force.
Kai runs across the bodies of fallen soldiers, Realm and Lily alike, but not swiftly enough. She can only watch as a suddenly stupefied Markuran stands still and an inky black cloud of Essence slams into his chest and suffuses his entire body.
Markuran lets out perhaps the most horrific -- and terrified -- scream he has ever uttered in his life.
When Kai looks back up Marku floats almost three feet above the ground, contrails of black energy swirling around him with an intense rapidity. His skin has almost a negative glow to it, emitting darkness, and great beams of blackness shoot out of his eyes. The scream, which she thought would be over, is dragging on to an incredible degree. The scene is so transfixing that the fighting seems to have stopped.
Kai sees Marku's face contort suddenly, and his muscles spasm -- flares of golden Essence shine out from his body and the great bear of his anima rises up behind him, and for one quick moment she believes that he is victorious -- but then the black energy envelops it and the anima inverts itself to blackness.
The man, still floating in the air, turns to Kai and hisses, in a gravelly, inhuman voice: "Not any more." His massive fist, still clad in the soulsteel weapon Marku had crafted from Kiriath's remains, swiftly backhands Kai across the face with a casual brutality.
The creature that was once Marku laughs without a shred of pity. "I am a god from before your kind walked the Earth. And now I live again. Your kind can threaten me no longer." With a flick of his wrist, he parts the two blades that hold him in place. Flinging both arms to his sides, he flies up into the air with force that knocks everyone within the camp flat upon their backs; within seconds, he is gone, a trail of black smoke the only trace that remains.
Kai's Sword: "Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh SHIT."
<Kai> ::What:: she thinks, as she surveys the remains of the battlefield, suddenly remembering that she was doing something before the force took Marku.
Kai turns her head just in time to bring a sword up in the way of a gigantic rocky mace wielded by one of the Hundredfold creatures.
<Kai> Very briefly, a smile flits across Kai's face. "NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME" she snarls at the beast, just before whirling around and driving her rage-fueled blades repeatedly into its rocky hide.
Stone dust falls to the earth as the Zipetok shatters beneath Kai's blows. As she looks around, though, she sees something odd -- only a small portion of the attacking force seems to have remained, the rest taking the opportunity to retreat.
Kai turns around one more time to see weapons held at the ready to strike her -- but this time they are held by five Dragon-Blooded officers with grim, bloody expressions. Looking about she quickly sees that an irritated Relovia is similarly surrounded. Ejava, having just finished directing soldiers in their recovery efforts from the attack, turns and walks between the two Sunlanders.
Ejava: "Unsurprisingly, treachery and evil follow your kind wherever you go."
Relovia: "You stupid woman. Listen to us, that was not our intent here!"
Ejava: "Silence. You bring shame upon the ashes of your once-proud church."
<Kai> "Fine. If that is our way, then it is. I will not argue it with you. But you have SEEN the forces that stand at our door, OUR door. They will not stop with us-- you, your army, your beliefs and your heart will be crushed beneath them. You cannot stop them alone. WE need to stand against them. If you do not trust us to do it then you MUST stand beside us, to keep our eyes straight and our hands true, if you are the bastio
<Kai> if you are the bastion of integrity you say you are."
Ejava gestures for the men surrounding Kai to part, giving her space to walk closer to the dreaded Anathema. "And why should I believe that this threat facing Creation is not entirely an invention of the Anathema?"
<Cerin> she gestures of
<Kai> she gestures off after the retreating God-Exalts, "is mine, then why do I need such as you? Without my hand, your camp would be in ruins, your men feeding the grass. I am no schemer, no general of the realm, and I'm afraid I must be too simple to understand your suspicions."
Relovia: "Listen to her, you stupid bitch! The Realm has been plunged into chaos and it was instigated by those who just attacked us. Anathema or no, the Sunlanders pose less of a threat to you than the Red Lily, and today you need their assistance."
Ejava looks between the two. She considers for a moment. "Men, release them." The soldiers instantly lower their weapons. "Return with me to my tent. Explain to me your knowledge of this threat."
Relovia, still irritated, follows behind.
Tepet Ejava settles into her chair. "I have, of course, seen the broadcasts. I know that this Red Lily army is attacking throughout Creation, and that they seem to have Anathema of new and unknown kinds filling out their armies. But I do not have the knowledge I need as a general: I do not understand why they fight, or what they fight for. You have this information. Give it to me."
Ejava nods and listens intently. "This lines up with our experience in the field thus far." She nods a little, thinking.
After a moment, she speaks up. "Here is what you are going to do."
Without waiting for Kai to specifically assent, she continues. "My forces here are the best men the Realm has ever seen. Not because they are born soldiers. No, because I /made/ them the best. But they are not enough. The Lily has rendered my previous goals obsolete, and I need more than a few legions to fight them. Make me the general of your Sunlands army."
Relovia gives Kai a "how the hell would I know" look.
<Kai> "I really don't have anything like the authority to--" wringing her hands, Kai suddenly remembers the rings Zahara made. "Actually, give me just a moment."
<Kai> ::Zahara? Can you hear me?::
Tags: (:tags Relovia, Roseblack, Solars, God-Exalts, Hundredfold, Zipetok, Siram, Realm :)