The Solars prepare for their trip to the mysterious plane of Elysion, minus Markuran, who is off attending to matters of his own.
<Kai> "So, uhm, what should I expect in Elysion?"
<Zahara> "Apparently, feathers."
<Kai> "No, I mean, should I pack a heavy cloak?"
<Cerin> "Feathers implies they might have an Avain nature." Cerin notes as he watches a winged snake of blue flames try to setttle itself comfortably on his arm, eventually offering her his shoulder.
<Zahara> "You've brought wings of your own, I see."
Aliza nods to Zahara, then adjusts her position again.
<Zahara> "I was just thinking that. Would you care for a wasp or two?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'd be a little reluctant to bring agatae, though. It seems a little forward."
<Zahara> "Well, Tanty can only carry two or three of us."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "True. We might as well. It's not as though they are erymanthoi."
<Zahara> "I can walk, but the rest of you would have to slow down so I could keep up.
<Cerin> "If you were to lend me your stone, I could probably keep pace alongside you."
<Zahara> "Hmmm, that may work better."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "And two on Tantamount is much more comfortable than three. Yes."
A short while later, the Solars step through the portal into an unusual new land. The gate they pass through places them out on a massive grassland, with tall stalks waving lazily in the air. A breeze, warm yet utterly refreshing, blows over the land, and it carries on it the scent of honey and fresh-cut melon. Trees, golden and emerald and ruby alike, occasionally dot the landscape, curving lazily out of the earth and providing cool shade beneath. The sky is a rosy pink fading to a brilliant yellow orange, like a permanent sunset. The sounds of life can be heard everywhere: beasts, bugs, and all in between. Birds circle far above, with no obvious purpose. A pride of what look to be lions lounge in the sun nearby, satiated and content.
Upon slightly closer inspection, the lions have a quite unusual bent to them -- they're oddly perfect, smooth, nearly abstract in their shape. They move like a walking painting more than a creature, and their manes flow back like an artist's brush lines, gloriously perfect and stylized.
The lions have an awakeness and aliveness within their Essence that makes the creatures Cerin sees every day pale in comparison; they are /vigorously/ alive.
<Zahara> "Well perhaps you can bring one home for him. Personally I'd like a lion or two."
The grassland extends for miles in every direction. From a higher vantage point, Cerin can see that other animals roam across the fields, all bearing a similarly stylized appearance, and often bearing strange and elaborate embellishments beyond what might exist in Creation. Mountains rise gently from the ground far in the distance. In one direction, Cerin thinks he can pick out a faint column of smoke.
As they spend more time here, all the Solars begin to notice how pleasant it is to be here -- the air, the ground, and the sights and sounds all have a pleasant, relaxing quality, that doesn't induce drowsiness, simply provides a gentle happy feeling.
<Zahara> "Remind me why we haven't come here before?"
<Cerin> "There is smoke in that direction, and mountains to the north." he annouces as he ducks under Birds.
<Zahara> "Can we skip the war, and just move here?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What do you guys think. Smoke or mountains?"
<Cerin> "It is." he says he lands next to Zahara, slipping an arm around her. "Smoke, I think."
<Zahara> "I would assume the Lords of this place might be involved with a bit of smoke." She leans against Cerin's shoulder for a moment.
The flowers are unusually ethereal and beautiful.
It takes some time for the group to reach the source of the smoke. A while before, they begin to glimpse where it seems to be coming from -- what appears to be a moderately large but simple thatched village, built atop the savannah. A single fire burns in the center, putting up a clear, white stream of smoke.
<Zahara> "I have a couple extra phials, but no water."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "A phial will do. I think I have a canteen in here...somewhere." She shuffles through layers of skirts and robes. "Hm, maybe someone is home!"
The phial sways attractively to and fro.
As they approach closer to the village, they notice that there does not appear to be anyone present, at least outdoors.
<Zahara> "Cerin, will you investigate before we announce our presence?"
<Cerin> "As you wish love." he says with a smile, and then vanishes suddenly, running towards the village just above the grass.
Cerin runs towards the village. As he nears he can see that the thatched buildings seem almost to be grown directly out of the ground. Still no obvious sign of life though.
<Cerin> When he gets a little closer, he slows, moving to the edge of the village, then entering it if he still sees no signs of life
Even walking into the village itself and peering into the windows, there is absolutely no sign that anyone is inside.
<Cerin> ^--this line didnt happen.
All of a sudden, Zahara, Birds, and Kai find themselves in an unusual situation -- as if from nowhere, they are surrounded by a thick flock of grey-winged creatures with rather vicious looking spears that glow a bright green color. Three seconds before this happens, Cerin realizes he is about to be surprised.
"HALT!" cries one of the creatures in a strangely toned low voice. "Do not desecrate our lands further."
<Zahara> "Oh my." She says softly, glad she'd been prepared for potential combat when they'd entered the Realm, pleasant as it looked. "Things are never what they seem, I see." Her weapons fly up from where they'd been patiently dogging her steps, and prepare to defend her. She calls up to the creature, "How do we desecrate your lands?"
The creatures stab their weapons out threateningly as Kai moves, but do not strike. One of them, a dark-feathered creature, steps forward. He has the features of a bird, a great beak and wide, large-pupiled eyes. Tiny claws extend from his wings and he uses those to grip a staff that clearly is holding hm upright. He walks closer to the Solars. "Why do you come to Elysion?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We followed our noses." She bites back the temptation to follow that up with a comment about her addressees' anatomy.
<Zahara> "We are exploring the myriad realms to learn more about the worlds that surround us."
The creature raises an eyebrow, clearly not buying this explanation. "We have had enough trickery of late. I do not believe that you come here for so little reason. Answer me truthfully."
<Zahara> "The exploration is a happy byproduct."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It's pleasing to know we're dealing with wiser people than most, then."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Though I am a bit surprised that you think wanderlust is not sufficient to move the Princes of Earth."
The old bird looks perplexed for a moment, as if he is trying to figure out an unusual connection. After a moment, he speaks. "Follow us back to the village, and tell us your story, in detail. Then we can discuss these feathers."
He turns and begins to walk back to the village, and signals the others to do so as well. They begin to peel off, though the spears are not stowed.
The birdlike creatures lead the Solars back to a spot where a group of benches -- also seemingly grown directly out of the Earth -- semicircle a more elaborate chair, in which the elder settles. He instructs the Solars to sit, and when they have settled, he shifts his staff between his hands. "So. Tell me why you are here."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, as you know, we seek feathers of the Lords of Elysion. It's been revealed to us that these are an essential component of an artifact that we hope to construct." She leaves the details to the others.
<Zahara> "What scourge was that? I apologize for my ignorance, but this is our first time in your realm."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What does the scourge do?"
<Zahara> "A good question. We have a great many abilities that are useful against such creatures, and have defeated many enemies already." She smiles at Cerin, "We will indeed, attempt to destroy it, whether by slaying it or imprisoning it, or banishing it."
The creatures are taken aback at Cerin's appearance, but are too surprised to effectively respond.
<Zahara> "I understand you have probably attempted such before, and thus I ask you what has and has not worked against it so far?"
<Zahara> "You fight with spears, from above?"
<Zahara> "Perhaps the trick will be to come from below, then."
<Zahara> "In any case, allowing us to try can do you no harm, and if we succeed, I hope we can establish an alliance."
<Zahara> "Then please, lead us to the last place you have seen it."
The two warriors lead the Solars out to the plains, and begin a long hike, several miles from the village. After a while, the beautiful pristine landscape in the distance begins to change, to grow darker and less verdant. Eventually they come to a place with a sharp, visible dividing line -- on one side, the earth becomes foul, the vegetation dead, the air dark and unpleasant. "This is where you will find it."
<Zahara> "I see. Thank you for your escort. We hope to return soon."
The ground here is muddy and unpleasant to walk on. Even the sky itself has turned dark and smoky.
Cerin detects that an unpleasant Essence is perhaps a mile to the north.
<Kai> As the Solars reach the line of defilement, Kai's anima begins to burn, and her solar saver fades into being.
Cerin has to peer carefuly through the smoke and soot to see the creature, but after looking about for some moments he spots it. It has the look of a great black boar, composed entirely of shadows, and with bright red eyes. Trails of shadows pull off of it as it runs headlong around the area; the shadows often rise up for a moment, almost in the shape of humans, to rend the earth or shake their fists at the sky before dissipating into the air.
<Cerin> "It is about a mile to the north. It is a boar of shadows and darkness."
<Zahara> "I am going to cast a spell. I'd appreciate it if you kept it away from me while I do so."
The creature sees the interlopers and its eyes blaze firey orange. It charges, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake!
The creature halts its charge as it feels Kai's blades bite deep into its underside, and turns, black smoke gushing rapidly from its nostrils and its wounds. It lowers its head and charges, with an uncanny swiftness, as its trail of shadows moans unhappily.
The creature brings its massive hooves down on the ground with a furious thump and kicks up a cloud of rotten earth that blocks the bolts of luminescent Essence flung at it.
<Kai> Taking advantage of the distraction caused by various barrages, Kai darts back around its flank and moves up its other side, sliding a blade between each of its ribs as she goes.
<Shadowbeast?> Roaring loudly in pain, the creature's shadowy trails begin to solidify. It tramples over Kai with little thought, then charges Cerin with a powerful roar, the umbral wisps transforming into vicious blades as it does so.
<Cerin> Then slides along it, tearing up his muscles, peircing his chest. He flies backwards, landing hard against a hillside
Tags: (:tags Elysion, Exaltation Checklist, Lords of Elysion, Alostar, Scourge, Okai :)