< Seeking Mines | Sol Invictus Logs | The Empty City One >

High above the streets of Nexus, a tower of dark red rock rises up amongst the other mismatched buildings. Among its 50 floors, various squatters, criminals, and other lowlifes have taken up residence in the once luxurious apartments.

On the thirty-seventh floor, however, one door bears an arcane sigil, painted in brilliant green, across its width.

It is to here that the Solars journey, seeking to meet someone.

  • Birds knocks on the door.
  • Zahara stands just behind Birds, inspecting the hallway around them

<Markuran> "Who are we here to meet?"

<Zahara> "A goddess of rumor. She will likely have heard where those we seek live."

The sigil above the doorway begins to glow faintly, and the air around grows oddly silent.

<Zahara> "Her name is Wynnira."

  • Cerin stands next to Zahara, watching the essence with interest
  • Zahara leans close to the door and whispers, "The Gods are dividing"

The sigil's glow remains steady for a moment, then shifts to a bloody, ominous red and grows ever-fiercer. Then, a few moments later yet, the door opens with a faint creaking.

  • Markuran peers inside over Zahara'
  • Cerin steps inside, looking around
  • Zahara steps inside as well

The room within seems to be much like the other abandoned apartments -- once glorious, but by now stripped of any valuables which could be extracted. The room seems to be in quite a state of clutter -- huge lengths of yarn in numerous colors lie strung across the room and out the windows in every direction; odd knickknacks and tsotchkes cover every surface; and what appear to be living areas for small rodents and bird line one wall.

<Zahara> "Wynnira?" she calls quietly as she enters the room more fully, looking around

There's a gust of wind through one of the open windows and a tall, sharp-featured spirit appears in one corner of the room.

She has a very slightly irked expression upon her face.

  • Zahara smiles and offers her a small, brightly-wrapped package
  • Markuran looms behind Zahara, peering at the goddess

<charlequin?> "You have chosen a very dangerous rumor to spread today, Zahara," she says, though she appears pacified by the appearance of the package. "What do you have in there...?"

<Zahara> "A gift for you. The world is a dangerous place, these days, do you not agree?"

  • Wynnira nods eagerly, gazing at the package intently.

<Zahara> "Please, open it." she gestures. "I can make more if you like it."

  • Wynnira reaches out greedily and tears open the package.

<Zahara> ::Inside is a tiny ruby cardinal that, once exposed to the light chirps cheerily and hops a little.::

<Wynnira?> "Ooooooooooooh!"

  • Wynnira quickly spins around and places it in a seemingly random spot on a nearby dresser, then begins to watch it intently.
  • Cerin watches her, slightly amused, standing at Zahara's side.

<Zahara> ::The motion seems to spur it into further action, and it hops up and down the dresser, flapping its shiny wings.::

<Zahara> "If you expose it to sunlight for several hours, it will be able to fly a bit."

<Wynnira?> "Delightful!"

  • Markuran chuckles.

<Zahara> "I'm glad you like it." she smiles. "Unfortunately, time is a bit short, so we must move on to business if that is alright with you."

<Wynnira?> "Ah, yes, I'm sure you wouldn't visit solely for pleasure, we're both such busy women..." One of the strings leading out one window begins to vibrate, and without turning around Wynnira grabs it with one hand, pulls a loose end up to her ear, and listens intently for a moment.

<Wynnira?> Seemingly satisfied, the goddess drops the string again and turns back to the Solars. "Now, then, what did you need to know?"

<Cerin> "We wish to know about the gods who have been exalting people, and where their sanctums might lie."

<Markuran> "Especially any that are near the Sunlands."

  • Wynnira clucks a little. "That's a mighty order you have there, and one so quiet on the lips of the public..." she picks up a few of her strings and tugs on them briefly.

<Cerin> "We know."

<Wynnira?> "I might be able to provide... something. Small, you understand. For a price." She leans over and switches the places of two knickknacks, seemingly at random.

  • Cerin nods, "Of course. There always seems to be a price."
  • Zahara nods in understanding. "We would appreciate any help you can give us. We are, of course, willing to strike a fair bargain for the information."
  • Wynnira nods. "Do you have an offer for me?"

<Zahara> "That of course depends on the information you can provide. Something small will of course get something small but worthwhile in return."

  • Wynnira snatches up a large clump of strings from the floor and pulls on each of them with a concentrated look. "I can tell you... I can give you a location where three of them dwell. Near the borders of your lands."

<Zahara> "Ahhah, and do you know who they are, and their domains as well?"

<Wynnira?> "Something of them, yes."

  • Zahara nods. "Would you prefer information or goods in return?"

<Wynnira?> "Hmmmm." She puts one finger to her mouth in thought. "What goods can you offer?"

  • Markuran smiles brightly at the goddess. "Zahara and I can make anything you desire. For such valuable information as you offer, we would be happy to give you baubles to outshine any you've seen before."
  • Zahara gestures to the threads she has been fidgeting with them the entire time, "Those threads of yours, they are how you divine the rumors, correct? I can make for you a loom for you to weave the rumors with, to see how they fit together and interact. Or if you wish, you could make a dress with it instead. Or curtains, I suppose." she smiles slightly.
  • Wynnira raises an eyebrow. "Build such a thing for me so that it might sit by my window and weave for me, and I will accept."

<Markuran> "Would you prefer a spider or a moth?"

<Zahara> "Hmm to make one that will weave itself will require much more time and effort. I am not sure the information regarding simply three of the Gods is enough to expend so many resources during this difficult and dangerous time."

<Wynnira?> "A moth. They are so much prettier..."

  • Wynnira raises her second eyebrow. "The quarries you seek have done a great deal to disguise their presence from the world. You are lucky that I have this information, because I doubt you will acquire it anywhere else."
  • Wynnira pauses.

<Wynnira?> "Build the loom for me, and if you are successful in your endeavor, return here when the dust has settled and make it dance for me. I will give you your information for that."

<Markuran> "Time and resources are indeed short, goddess. But we would be happy to swear an Oath, bound by Zahara's light, to deliver the Moth to you as soon as we have time and resources to do so. You may rest assured that I will see it finished and carry it to you myself. But without the information, we will not be able to finish it."

<Zahara> "True, true, but no other has even thought to consider such a loom for you. Imagine the flows of information and rumor you will have all together in one place."

<Zahara> "I believe we have come upon a fair price, Wynnira. A loom that you can work until we are able to return, and..." she looks over at Markuran, "A moth."

  • Wynnira nods excitedly.

<Wynnira?> "I'm sure it will be quite delightful. Your little bird is such a delight!"

<Zahara> "We shall return within the week."

<Wynnira?> "Excellent." She turns around and pulls a sheaf of paper out from under a glowing paperweight with a scorpion within, and begins to scribble furiously.

<Wynnira?> After a few seconds, she hands a slightly legible sheet of paper to Zahara, indicating the location of the sanctum in question and the identities of the gods within.

<Zahara> "Thank you, Wynnira. Rest assured, you will love your loom!"

<Wynnira?> "I will!" With that, she turns around and begins rearranging her collection with an even greater ferocity.

  • Cerin holds out his hand for the paper with a smile.

<Zahara> ::The little bird flutters cheerily::

  • Zahara passes the paper over to Cerin, inclines her head politely to Wynnira, and exits.
  • Cerin nods to Wynnira as he leaves with Zahara, studying the paper.
  • Zahara pulls out her own sheaf of papers, and begins sketching out the skeleton of the loom as they walk.

<Wynnira?> The map points out the location of a sanctum, to the east of the northern Sunlands, and names the three gods within it:

<Wynnira?> Killian Whetstone, a local smithing god; Stalfoz, in charge of a large regional matchmaking festival; and everyone's favorite, Rovak Hart-Runner.

  • Markuran grumbles. "To think, I used to enjoy the Festival of Stalfoz."

<Zahara> "You can enjoy it one last time."

<Markuran> "Well now it's just lost all appeal. How can you enjoy yourself when you know an evil back-stabbing god is the reason you have a beautiful woman in your arms instead of your own prowess? It's just wrong."

<Cerin> "The god was there long before he turned traitor on Creation, I am sure."

<Zahara> "Your own charm-enhanced prowess? When was the last time you got a girl who wasn't drugged or cowed by your charms?"

  • Zahara says mildly
  • Markuran glowers down at Zahara. "I've never used Charms to find women. My natural resources are more then enough."
  • Zahara looks up at him benignly. "Mmmhmmm."

<Markuran> "Don't think I haven't noticed you watching my behind."

<Zahara> "Your ass is impressive, in more ways than one."

  • Cerin raises his eyebrow at this.
  • Zahara manages to imply that the ass she is talking about is more than his behind.

<Markuran> "As is yours. Fortunante, since otherwise you'd be unable to attract anything but undead with that cold heart of yours."

<Cerin> "Markuran." his voice is rather cold.

  • Zahara smiles serenely, "That must be why I have found my true love while you flounder about in the flowers."
  • Markuran shrugs. "Cerin sees all manner of things no one else alive can. I'm sure he found something in there to appreciate."

<Cerin> "Markuran, I would appreciate it if you would stop these insults to Zahara and myself. I think our chances of defeating the gods would be diminished with your loss."

Outside the borders of the Sunlands.

The Sanctum marked on the map the Solars received is but half a mile away, nestled within a small vale, deep in the Eastern forest.

<Zahara> "We are close." she observes. "Cerin, would you scout ahead and then return?"

<Cerin> "Of course." he melts into the shadows and the greenery, flowing between pools of shadow in the forest, moving silently but swiftly until he comes to the sanctum.

The doorway to the sanctum lies, unguarded, atop a gigantic forest flower which blooms from the very bottom of the vale.

  • Cerin spends some time observing the door, checking for wards, traps and lingering magics.

<Wynnira?> A few Essence locks, an alarm ward against entry, and what looks to be some sort of dematerialized observation device all guard the door.

  • Cerin sighs softly to himself, then wraps the God-Slaying Stance around himself and moves over to the observation device, studying it briefly.
  • Markuran looks down at Zahara. "I don't appreciate remarks like that, Zahara. I'm keeping people safe by not having them sleep with me. The God-Exalts might not threaten Cerin, but they would threaten a mortal if it gave them hold on me."

<Zahara> "Surely you could protect your true love."

<Markuran> "I could not love someone always cowering behind me."

<Zahara> "But they would have a fine view from there."

  • Markuran snorts. "You think it so fine, yet the only time you tried to see it was when Birds made it avalible for viewing."

The observation device is unidirectional -- it's not too difficult for Cerin to sneak up behind it without being seen... he has clear access to the other locks now.

  • Zahara chuckles, "I have other vistas to appreciate."
  • Cerin smiles softly to himself as he carefully settles the probes against the lock, feeding them the precisely measured quantities of essence nessesary to open them up. There are tiny flares as the locks 'click'. Through the unity radiates satisfaction and a desire to see.

As the last click is audible, the doorway to the sanctum becomes visible to all -- still closed, but outlined by pale green Essence.

<Zahara> "Hmm it seems we should be going now."

  • Cerin settles himself to study the ward, watching its flows and threads, then reaching out, pulling the one thread that causes it to unravel silently.
  • Markuran starts forward, moving quickly but quietly towards Cerin's position

The door now stands, the only thing separating the Solars from their quarries.

  • Zahara stops just out of range, in case there are any traps they might trigger. she sends a questioning to him
  • Cerin incates that people should avoid a certain spot, but otherwise gestures for you to come forward.
  • Markuran avoids that certain spot
  • Zahara circumvents said spot, and joins Cerin. "Hello, love. What have we here?"

<Cerin> "The entrance to the sanctum. The locks and alarm ward is disabled. And you avoided the watching device."

<Zahara> "Now, the question is shall we use stealth, or declare ourselves? I vote for the former, at least at first."

<Cerin> "Stealth, I would suggest, since as far as I can tell, I triggered no alarms."

<Zahara> "Then let us proceed." She quietly opens the door.

  • Cerin follows her inside.

The inside of the sanctum seems to be quite a large space -- a huge, cavernous room, assembled entirely of vines and flower petals.

  • Markuran sniffs deeply. "Smells nice."

Within, strange plants spiral up to form tables and chairs, while others sway peacefully above to create a pleasant draft.

<Markuran> "This would be a nice place to bring a date."

<Zahara> "Beware, some of those plants may be carnivorous."

<Markuran> "..of course."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What a cheerful thought."

<Cerin> "Markuran, can you concentrate?" he says as he steps quietly deeper into the manse, the DB ninja and a squad of the Legion's Rangers spilling into the Sanctum behind them.

  • Zahara enhances her sight to be able to see the flows of Essence within. "Wouldn't want something to bite you on ... ah, nevermind. Every rose has its thorn, you know."

<Markuran> "On what? There's no one here but us."

<Zahara> "That's what we thought last time."

Bertrand trails after the Solars, looking a little lost and confused.

<Cerin> "Everyone, be on your guard." he plucks his bow from the air

  • Zahara tugs lightly on the long, gilded leash, and Bertie follows behind her.

Light footfalls begin to sound from beyond the northwest wall; suddenly, the vines making up part of the wall begin to pull aside, revealing an opening from whence the footfalls spring.

  • Birds turns to watch the opening.
  • Zahara flips her daiklave around her hand, smiling slightly.
  • Markuran springs to the wall, catching himself on a lilly and hoisting himself into position above the newly-formed door, waiting for someone to pass under him

Something trots out -- a well-shaped deer formed entirely of carefully entwined vines.

Bertrand gasps.

<Cerin> "Greetings, Rovak."

  • Rovak looks startled. "Who are you? How have you entered my home?"

<Rovak?> One hoof reaches out to grab a large, flowering stick that leans up against the wall.

<Cerin> "I am Cerin the Wolf. This is Zahara the Dreambreaker, and that is Birds of Trinity."

<Zahara> "We've heard you have acquired some..unusual followers. We would like some as well."

The god's hoof unravels and the individual vines wrap around the stick, which expands and grows numerous vicious looking thorns as it enters his grasp.

  • Markuran glowers at Cerin from his position above the god, clinging to the wall. Not introducing Markuran the Bear?!
  • Birds does a little curtsy. "It is a pleasure to meet the famous Rovak."

<Zahara> "What a lovely stick you have."

  • Rovak looks at the invaders, and tenses his vine-muscles to leap in a vicious attack.
  • Cerin nods to Marku.
  • Zahara nods slightly, and the weapons that had been lagging behind down the hall make their leisurely way up to surround her
  • Markuran silently drops from the lilly-wall to Rovash's back. Tightening his legs around the deer-body, Marku brings both arms around the massive god's neck in a bear hug stronger then bonds of Orichalcum. The force of the barbarian warlord's falling bulk drives both man and beast to the ground, tangled up in a briar of muscle and vine.

<Cerin> "And that is Markuran the bear." As he draws back motes of sunlight.

  • Birds puts on a surprised expression. "Markuran! How strange to see you here!"
  • Zahara checks out the falling ass
  • Markuran does manage to land with his ass towards Birds and Zahara.

Rovak finds himself held to the floor by a very heavy Marku.

<Cerin> "Now, are you going to co-operate, or will we have to hurt you?"

  • Zahara taps her daiklave against her chin thoughtfully. "Either way would work well for us."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "You'll have noticed by now that my friends are not nice people."

  • Birds fondly pinches Zahara's cheek for emphasis.

<Zahara> "I object to that statement. I am plenty nice to people who do what I wish."

Bertrand flinches a tiny bit when Marku lands on the god.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "That's true. Please pardon my imprecision."

<Rovak?> "What do you want?"

<Cerin> "We want the materials you have for making the Exalts, we want your knowledge of the process and we want to know where your Exalts are."

  • Zahara pats Bertie on the shoulder.

<Markuran> "And if you want me to leave your body and spirit intact, Rovash, we want you to tell us everything you know about your friends."

<Zahara> "Quite reasonable, you see."

<Cerin> "Otherwise.." Cerin lets the godkilling pattern form in his essence arrow briefly.

Bertrand gulps audibly.

  • Zahara smiles pleasantly, and retrieves the thorny stick from where it had fallen

<Markuran> "Well, Rovak?" As Marku asks, his arms around the god's neck tighten

<Rovak?> "I won't tell you anything," the god coughs out.

  • Birds sighs.
  • Cerin sighs softly. "You will."

<Birds?> "You know, this never ends well, Rovak."

<Zahara> "Of course not." She extracts the flamberge from the air, and applies it curiously to a chair. It bursts into flame on contact.

<Birds?> "I mean, remember Shining?"

  • Zahara gathers her hair into a pony tail, and rolls back her sleeves. "This should be interesting."
  • Markuran pulls Rovash's head back until his spine creaks ominously and the god's face is looking into Marku's eyes, though upside down. Even inverted, the deadly strength of the warlord is plain in his eyes and his eagerness to apply it shines forth like the light of the Castemark. "You will tell us what we want to know."

<Markuran> "Or when I am through with you, Zahara will make you her slave. And to please her lover, she will feed your soul to him, one mote at a time. Like grapes."

<Zahara> "cold." she remarks.

  • Cerin 's expression barely flickers, a small smile does spread on his face though.
  • Rovak fights valiantly (but uselessly) against Marku for several more moments, but then slumps, defeated.

<Zahara> "Ah, Marku, you make it too easy. I like them with a little fight left."

<Cerin> "Now, some answers, please."

  • Zahara sighs a bit and releases the sword, which joins its brethren hovering in the air obediently.
  • Rovak sighs bitterly. "Ask."

<Cerin> "We already did, but if you wish. We want to know all that you do about the new Exalts, how to make them, where your materials are.."

  • Zahara seats herself on a non-scorched chair after poking it to make sure it doesn't move, and gestures for Bertie to sit across from her. "Now, listen closely, you might learn something."

<Rovak?> "I had a great deal of materials, provided to me. There is a process to combine them into a material that holds an Essence pattern and which can be passed through living flesh...."

<Cerin> "And where is this material now? And how is it used?"

  • Zahara walks over, grasps the end of a ro-vine, and snaps it off, then tucks it into a small compartment on a collar, inspecting it once she is finished.
  • Birds notices a ring of flowers forming a pretty crown on Rovak's head.

<Rovak?> "You fill the soulcage with the material, and charge it with Essence -- the soulcage is ruined, but the material picks up the pattern of Essence. You extract the material, slide it within the chest of the target -- while they're asleep, so their soul is less alert -- and then you blanket them in certain varieties of Essence overnight to encourage the Essence flows to join with one another."

<Cerin> "And do you have any of these materials left?"

  • Zahara extracts a small carving device and inscribes a few letters to seal the compartment, and inscribe the name of the bearer.

<Rovak?> "Some. Not much. Enough for a few Exalts, maybe."

<Cerin> "Who supplied them to you, and when?"

<Rovak?> "A man named Misuna, perhaps two years ago."

  • Zahara opens and closes it several times, testing, watching the essence flows in their new pattern

<Cerin> "Ah. And what can you tell me of the Lily, and the people you Exalted?"

<Rovak?> "They are going to war. I was willing to test their process because it gave me soldiers of my own. Three of them are serving me in the nearby villages. The fourth..." he gestures slightly with his head in Bertrand's direction.

<Zahara> "You are lucky, Rovak. I am quite fond of Bertrand."

<Cerin> "He was informative. If alittle worried after Lucien retrieved him from our ranks."

<Rovak?> Bertrand looks a little relieved by Zahara's statement, and also by the fact that no one has moved to kill Rovak yet.

  • Zahara walks over and clicks the collar shut around Rovak's neck.

<Cerin> "Do you know others in the conspiracy?"

<Cerin> not conspiracy

<Cerin> Others who have made such Exalts?"

  • Zahara digs around in her loot pouch for a bit, coming up with several leashes, chooses a nice green one, and attaches it.

<Rovak?> "The others here have done so. Presumably many others have, since they know the process works."

<Zahara> "Speaking of the others, why have they not come to your rescue?"

<Rovak?> "They have errands of their own to attend to. And they are cowards both."

<Markuran> "Errands, where?"

<Zahara> "Ah, well we should find them before they go running off."

<Birds?> "Cowards, eh."

<Birds?> "That's unacceptable. Lets go beat some courage into them."

<Birds?> "Wait, no. I don't think that is how it is supposed to work."

<Zahara> "Yes, do. It will be amusing, at the very least. And none of them have given us a friend like Bertie." She crosses her legs, leaning back in the chair. "Bring some ninja."

  • Birds nods.

<Zahara> "How does that feel, by the way, Rovak? Not too tight?"

<Rovak?> "They've gone to Treespur to begin preparations for the festival, I'm sure."

Tags: (:tags Nexus, Wynirra, Rovak Hart-Runner, Bertrand, Exaltation, Lai Misuna :)

< Seeking Mines | Sol Invictus Logs | The Empty City One >