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alsoquin Thirteen is hiking up the stairs in the midst of the Imperial Manse when he notices the grey shadow keeping pace beside him.

Thirteen eyes it warily, but says nothing.

alsoquin The shadow beckons broadly towards him, stretching out one hand and making the "come over here a second" gesture.

Thirteen says nothing, but shifts his course so that he is walking closer to the shadow.

alsoquin The remnant of Siram leans over and places its hand over one of Thirteen's eyes. As it does so, he experiences a rather disorienting effect: seeing the real world, the manse itself, through one eye, and... something else, through the other.

alsoquin The scene is surprisingly pedestrian: a well-appointed office, a vast mahogany desk within, and spread out across it: star charts, a detailed astrological reading on a specific individual.

alsoquin It's clear to Thirteen that he is seeing what Siram saw as, disembodied, he stood at one side of that desk... and someone Thirteen has never seen before, but has no trouble guessing the identity of, sits across from him: a man in dark robes, his face shrouded by shadow.

Thirteen continues watching, orienting himself by hearing.

alsoquin The shadow in the past -- Siram -- leans over to look at the charts closely. The name is helpfully provided: "Lai Misuna." Thirteen isn't an expert astrologer, but the indications do not call for a subtle reading:

alsoquin Grand trines and unexpected conjunctions fill the chart, and Mars sits in the house of the Banner supported by the Sun and Moon -- this is a horoscope of great conquest.

Thirteen "Hm. Yet another thing Herons will have to answer for," Thirteen mutters to himself.

alsoquin The dark-cloaked man points to an indicator on it, and then stretches his hand over to another chart -- a projection of the skies during the very eclipse that Thirteen stands under today.

alsoquin Siram of the past appears to be nodding, noting the connection, and the perspective shifts a little -- perhaps he's shrugging.

Thirteen "Perhaps you might realize that it does not come as a complete surprise to me that Lai's destiny is intertwined with this eclipse."

Thirteen "Is there some point you are attempting to make?"

alsoquin The dark cloaked man reaches down and picks something up from within his desk -- a flower, one red petal and four black, like the one that Zahara found within the manse a few moments ago, and Siram shrugs again -- but there is a flash, and Thirteen sees a quick glimpse of something:

alsoquin a woman clad in red, and four black shadows behind her.

Thirteen "The shadows. Who are they? I might have said the remainder of her platoon, but surely a soldier would not have such a depiction."

Thirteen *Solar

alsoquin The image shifts dramatically, and the image -- previously realistic, like a memory -- takes on jagged edges and harsh colors, like the surrealistic painting of an insane man brought to moving life. What Thirteen sees is the Imperial Manse, from above.

alsoquin A figure he can recognize as intended to be Lai climbs up to the top. He raises his arms in triumph as, all at once, banners of the Red Lily rise up across all of Creation, as far as the eye can see... and he reaches down to place a golden disc upon the manse.

alsoquin Just as he has done so, a blood-red dagger pierces him from behind, and as he slumps over, Cerin the Wolf steps over his body. Behind him, the woman and the four shadows float in the air, and on the banners across Creation, four of the petals of the red flowers turn to black --

Thirteen "Ah. Yes."

alsoquin and a moment thereafter, a dark head of a shadowy serpent rises up behind.

Thirteen "Nyx. And so history repeats itself."

alsoquin The vision hangs on the black serpent for a moment, and then it backs up, and freezes, on the moment where Lai places the circle down.

alsoquin Drawn around Lai's frozen form, three objects: the black and red flower, the form of Cerin, and another -- a sun -- each reach towards Lai.

Thirteen "Mm."

Thirteen "And why did you refuse this offer, Siram?"

alsoquin Another historical vision, a quick one: the sight of Cerin's blood-red arrow streaking towards him and ending his life.

Thirteen "Ah. My condolences."

Thirteen "Rest assured, Siram, I will do what I can."

Thirteen "Why must Lai be the one to place the seal?"

alsoquin The vision rewinds again, and shows Lai cut down as he struggles upwards through the Manse -- and then the sky shattering as his destiny is broken, and dark, unspeakable things rushing into the world.

Thirteen "Ah."

Thirteen "And why do I contend with both the flower and Cerin? I had thought they were intermingled."

alsoquin The vision shows the singular black tendril that runs, like a creeping ivy, from the flower's base to Cerin's neck -- and a shard of mirrored glass, swinging through the air to cut it.

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen reaches out involuntarily to touch the shard, then stops.

Thirteen "What is that?"

alsoquin The shard flits through the air, and joins with others... until they hang in a great circular panoply, unmistakably the Chime of Ages.

Thirteen "Mm."

Thirteen "Yes."

Thirteen "Thank you, Siram. I will not forget you."

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