The morning rolls around and Kai awaits the arrival of others at the breakfast table.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, Kai, good morning, have you met Troublesome Boy?" She indicates the puppy.
<Kai> "I have not." She says, happily snatching a piece of fruit.
<Zahara> "Birds, where did you get a puppy?" she asks, tying her hair up into a long tail.
<Kai> "Hm." Kai pets the puppy.
<Zahara> ::Reaver comes hop-flying in. He's not very good at flying yet, but he's picked up a little bit of it lately.::
The puppy bites Kai, not hard, but clearly wondering what she tastes like. "Don't do that, dear," Birds tells him.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hello, Zee. Where's the boy?"
<Zahara> "Oh, ninja'ing around somewhere."
<Zahara> "I'm sure he'll show up when we least expect it."
<Kai> "Well, I hope so. I have a few things to bring up."
<Kai> "I've, uhm, put together some puzzle pieces..."
<Zahara> "Puzzle pieces? Shoes?"
<Kai> "I've been talking to Arexus," she lays Daybreaker in front of her on the table, "about some First Age goings-on."
<Zahara> "Oh so?"
<Kai> "Uhm... I hope I don't mangle it too much in the explaining... Oh, where to start..."
<Kai> "The guy in the sword."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, I don't think we have met." She waves at the sword. "Hello!"
<Kai> "Okay. So the Solar Deliberative was lead by a group called the Perfect Circle, one of each caste, each bearing one of the seals, like Cerin has."
<Zahara> "Well maybe he'll correct you if you get anything wrong." She keeps Reaver in check by scratching between his wings
<Zahara> "go on then"
<Kai> "So, Ymir had the Night Seal, Kiriath has the Zenith, someone named Rosada had the Dawn. Black Iris and Askaru had the other two, but I don't know much about them."
<Kai> "Ymir disappeared with hers after killing Talmuda. Arezus is convinced she acted alone--he was told by the Sidereals."
<Zahara> "They don't know everything."
<Kai> "Kiriath's was recovered and locked away after he was sealed away. Kiriath killed Rosada during his rampage--in fact, Rosada was the only major solar to die there. His seal was never recovered, until the empress wound up with it. Rosada was killed with his own sword. Daybreaker."
<Kai> "Or they do, and they were lying."
<Zahara> "Kiriath was there, when Ymir killed m..Talmuda."
<Zahara> "So... you were Rosada?"
<Kai> "Yes... But his ghost went on to become the Forsaken Lion. And if your right, his sword killed Talmuda... In Ymir's hands?"
<Zahara> "Bad Reaver!" Zahara interrupts briefly, as he attempts to chew the puppy's tail off - it just keeps MOVING.
<Kai> "Rosada's sword, at the time. Three members of the Circle killed Talmuda, and the Sidereals covered it up... Then Ymir flees with her Seal... This part I don't understand at all."
<Zahara> "I suspect you were at LEAST as messed up as we were. Hmph."
<Kai> "So, Ymir hides her seal, and Kiriath seem to hide Rosada's, but not his own..."
<Zahara> "Maybe he was using it for something."
<Zahara> "They were keys to something, weren't they?"
<Kai> "I think they control parts of the Solar Manse?"
<Zahara> "Where is it?"
<Zahara> "But why wouldn't he keep Rosadas? And what the hell was Ymir up to anyway?"
<Zahara> "Did Kiriath compel her to kill Talmuda? Or did he do it of his own free will? Was that creature that's possessing Markuran involved then too?"
<Kai> "Gah! Don't do that!"
<Kai> "Meanwhile, Rosada's soul shard is trapped in his sword, Daybreaker. Later on, Arexus finds it with the remains of an undead war party, tries to trap a Yozi soul with it, fails, and is trapped inside. An age later, I find it, and get Rosada's shard."
<Zahara> "Wait, who was Arexus?"
<Kai> "He was a sorceror, around the same time.
<Cerin> "Ymir was weilding that sword when the Crysanthamums tried to kill her, near the Orrerry."
<Zahara> "So Arexus was trying to trap a Yozi soul in it, when Rosada's soul was already in it, and then HIS soul got trapped in it?"
<Kai> "But! Ymir gets it back to Rosada some time before hew dies!" a pause "OR! She gets it to Kiriath, who kills Rosada with it."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It must be getting crowded in there."
<Zahara> "So this sword was like a Cynis."
<Kai> "Only part of Rosada's soul was in it. The rest of him was a scary ghost."
<Kai> "A Cynis?"
<Zahara> "Passed around to everyone who had a pulse."
<Cerin> "From the state Ymir was in, I am not sure that it was her who returned it, to anywhere..."
<Kai> "But she still had her seal."
<Zahara> "Do you have it?"
<Cerin> "Of course. You've seen it."
<Cerin> "It does ...Nothing."
<Kai> "She hides her seal so you can get it, and Kiriath does SOMETHING with the Dawn Seal..."
<Zahara> ::Reaver finally tires of batting the wind-up bird around and crunches it down."
<Kai> "But the Empress had the Dawn Seal at the Imperial Manse."
<Zahara> ::He finds himself entranced with the rapidly wagging tail again. Little red eyes dart back and forth with its motion, until he finally can't take it anymore.... *POUNCE* he and the puppy go tumbling off the table.
<Kai> "So presumable the seals do something there."
<Kai> "And the other three seals were secreted away in the capitol."
<Zahara> "We still don't know where most of the Seals are... perhaps they only activate when they are all together, or when they are at the Manse."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You sorcerors are tricksy like that."
<Cerin> "And somehow, the Crysanthamums ended up with Ymir's personal effects ... her ring, two of her badges of office, a dagger and some documents ... Zahara, if you can remember ... what was Ymir wearing? Every detail you can remember, please..."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "But Cerin, you should be able to tell if they are -supposed- to do something, right?"
<Cerin> "It is obviously an artifact of some power. It just does nothing."
Ymir was wearing her typical outfit, black ribbons and all, but when Zahara focuses on her collar the badges of office are conspicuously missing. She can't remember anything of what Kiriath was wearing -- just his face.
Zahara has a memory of a horrific, inhuman face, bearing a twisted smile.
<Zahara> "Did he ever look...inhuman?"
<Zahara> "Do you remember anyone who looked like..." *she describes the face again*
<Zahara> "I bet he's disguised his memory with magic." she frowns
<Kai> "So, we have the Night Seal... And the Empress had the Dawn Seal. I mean... Is there any way to find her?"
<Cerin> "That is an ... interesting question."
<Zahara> "Hmmm... that's a good question. One must wonder if she took it with her...wherever she went."
<Kai> "I mean, it's a big thing to have the seal... But it's a bigger thing to know how she got it."
<Zahara> "Somehow I suspect she will not be terribly forthcoming if we were to ask her, if we even knew where she was. Cerin, do you think you could track her down if we were to get to her Manse?"
<Cerin> "It is ... possible. I am not sure how easy it will be though.""
<Zahara> "Well..." she sighs. "We'll have to add that to our incredibly short list of things to do."
The Solars arrive in Nexus, the bustling city of trade. It is not quite as it once was -- threat of war has led to the city locking down its borders more heavily and hiring vast quantities of mercenaries to patrol the streets. As recognized allies of the Council, however, the Solars have little trouble gaining admittance.
Happily returned to the streets of her birth, the first thing Kai does is buy a large hunk of roast fowl from a street vendor. "Best in town," she smiles, returning to the others. "Uhm... Unusual as this is, maybe I should do most of the talking here." She looks over the other solars. "and maybe you guys should, y'know, lay low a bit."
Once back in the city, Kai remembers the path she wishes to take with ease. Cutting through the more empty than usual streets, Kai leads the group into the notorious Cinnabar district of Nexus, then down a series of increasingly dark alleys.
Eventually, the Solars reach an area where the alleyways narrow down to thin passages, only a man wide, between intricate patterns of buildings; Kai finally stops beside one largely normal looking building, and knocks on a largely concealed doorway three times.
After a few moments, a voice answers from within. "Who's there?"
<Kai> "Kai Buckthorn. I'm here to see Ten-Eyes."
One of several small panels in the door slides open; something looks out at the group from inside, very carefully; then the doorway comes unlocked and swings lightly open, showing the way into a narrow, barely lit staircase leading downwards.
The spiral staircase leads down about five floors before emptying into the center of a torch-lit hallway with four other staircases at its corners; Kai knows to take the upper-left one. It too goes down some distance before emptying into more hallways, which eventually zig-zag over to a small room.
Lit only by perhaps fifty candles, a shadowy figure sits in a plush red chair, one thin bony hand holding a glass of liquor, his face shrouded by a dark hood. There is a thick, ashy smell in the room.
<Kai> "I left town after my father died. Well, not that I need to tell you." She smiles.
<Kai> "I need to know about some people."
The hooded figure nods very slightly in the orangish light, and the glass-holding hand inclines to indicate that Kai should continue.
<Kai> "Lai Misuna. You'd probably recognise him, his image showed up a hundred feet tall, blazing in the sky not too long ago, along with two others, a man and a woman. Those two killed my father. I need to know who they are, where they come from..."
<Kai> "I do, I know it. But it is important, I promise you."
<Osiril?> "The strands join back together, here. The weave threads throughout Creation" -- the three strands bend out to the edges of the silken pattern, and even beyond, before drawing back together -- "and all the while, the invisible threads holds fast, pulling them into place."
<Osiril?> "Then..." The three strands of silk have burned red, purple, and brown since they came back together; suddenly they shoot off one hundred or more runners, each of which flares up into a different, brilliant color as it burns.
<Zahara> "So the real question is... who is pulling the invisible threads?"
<Cerin> ::Ask of him what beings his divinations would not show::
<Kai> "There are beings you... could not speak of?"
<Kai> "Those that pull the strings."
<Zahara> "Can you tell us who they are NOT?"
<Kai> "They are not the gods that Lai calls patrons, I'll wager."
After a second, Osiril pulls on one of its corners, and it falls, until strands at its corners catch on some unseen hook far above, and it hangs instead perfectly parallel to the floor. He reaches out and pulls downward on some of the strands, and a vast network of silk pulls downward from the surface of creation into an elaborate latticework, culminating at the bottom in a knot of green and black that he holds between two clawed fingers.
With a quick motion, he sets the knot aflame and it burns brilliantly, racing upward to the surface of creation, which is consumed in a brilliant, smoky blaze. With that, he lifts up his glass once more and takes a deep, deep draught.
<Cerin> ::Beware that which sleeps below Rintoko ... I do not think it sleeps any more.::
<Kai> ::But what is it?::
<Cerin> ::I do not know.::
<BirdsOfTrinity> ::Probably better that way.::
<Zahara> ::Maybe we should ask your friend, Kai."
<Kai> "... Rintoko."
<Cerin> ::Though Ymir did battle with one of them, if the stories are to be believed. And the description of that sounds much like the thing that took Marku::
<Zahara> "Can you show what would happen if that knot were...taken care of?"
<Cerin> ::I was right. It is Rintoko. Whatever that is, beyond a city that was sealed in the first age::
<Zahara> ::Just a note, Kai. Make sure to negotiate the price BEFORE you get the product.::
<Kai> ::Lessons hard learned::
<Zahara> "If you tell us what you learn from it."
<Kai> "Osiril." She begins to walk forward. "You should know that I don't let this blade leave my hand." She draws the blade and holds it forward. "But you may handle it thus, and know what you will."
<Osiril?> With a quick motion, one hand releases the sword and grabs a new silk net, which it drags through the blackness. When it emerges, it is dyed the deepest black. Letting the sword go with the other hand, Osiril hangs the net upon the ceiling and the swirls of black and the unglow fade entirely.
<Zahara> ::What IS he anyway?::
<Cerin> ::He was once the mortal child of a demon of the second circle. He is now something different, closer to a demon than mortal. You noticed he was dematerialised, and merely manifested, I trust?::
<Kai> :: So, uhm, how much did we learn here? ::
<Zahara> ::That we need to do something about Rintoko.::
<BirdsOfTrinity> ::Spiders are not fun. That man had a serious spider...complex. That was not fun. What were you saying about roast fowl, Kai? I'd like to have something comfortable in my hand before we confer overmuch.:: Birds shudders.
<Kai> to Arexus: "Are you all right?"
<Kai> "Oh, best in town!" she smiles.
<Cerin> ::We also know where the three came from.::
<Kai> :: And their names, finally. ::
<BirdsOfTrinity> ::Rintoko... you think this is urgent enough for the top of the list, or should we handle the Chaya and so on issues first?::
<Zahara> ::Honestly it seems that all our ills spring from one font. But if we can weaken it by dealing with the others, we might have more of a chance to strike through its heart.::
The sword appears no worse for the wear.
<Kai> :: Chaya might give us a lead on what to expect in Rintoko. ::
<Cerin> :: I think Rintoko is something we had best investigate when we have secured our position up here. We need to leave the world in a state we can return to.::
<Cerin> ::We also know the location of the other two of the three, or where they came from at least::
<Cerin> ::You could see it from the map, though he only mentioned Lai. Gem and Diamond Hearth.::
<Zahara> ::Hmmmm... our list keeps growing without end. I suspect I cast Benediction of Archgenesis on it while I was exceedingly drunk.::
<Cerin> ::Gem is where the Shadowed Unlife Equation originated in Creation, or that is a probable location. And Diamond Hearth is the home of the Haslanti, and their mechanised armies that march on the north.::
<Zahara> ::Well that explains things somewhat, at least.::
<Cerin> ::I think we need to investigate Estoc, to the west.::
<Zahara> ::Perhaps I should bring some demons along this time.::
Some time later, when she feels that Arexus is probably recovered, Kai sits down with the sword again.
<Kai> "So, one more question."
<Kai> "Do you know anything about a place called Rintoko?"
<Osiril?> "People started disappearing there. There was some kind of cult, kidnapping and murdering people there. They evacuated it, and then there was some sort of disaster -- earthquake, or something. No one ever moved back in."
<Kai> "Ymir went there, no?"
<Kai> "They declared her dead. Do you know anything about what she found?"
<Kai> "Hm. I fear she may have brought some of it back with her..."
<Kai> "I don't know... Maybe I'm grasping at straws... But it seems like a lot of trouble started after that... Where was Rintoko, anyway?
<Kai> "Mm, but where geographically?"
<Kai> "I'm sure I can find one." Kai does a little searching, and quickly turns up a map of the Realm.
<Kai> "Hm. Oh, one last thing, while I think of it: The Circle had badges of office, did they not?"
<Kai> Do you know if they had any signifigance or, like, powers, beyond indicating status?"
<Kai> "The Tools of Governance?"
<Kai> "And these were kept in the Manse?"
<Kai> "Hm. Thank you."
Tags: (:tags Troublesome Boy, Arexus Jonai, Daybreaker, Solar Deliberative, Perfect Circle, Seals of the Deliberative, Dawn Caste Seal, Zenith Caste Seal, Night Caste Seal, Rosada, Ymir, Kiriath, Talmuda, Sidereals, Empress, First and Forsaken Lion, Imperial Manse, Orrery, Nexus, Osiril Ten-Eyes, Lai Misuna, Larjyn, Estoc, Holbar, Shikaya, God-Exalts, Rintoko, Shadowed Unlife Equation, Haslanti, Gem, Diamond Hearth, Underways :)