Saraj looks over those gathered, a determined fire in his eyes. "So, Imrama, what say you?"
Imrama "I say onward to the foes of free people, and damn any that dare stand against us."
Saraj grins. "Excellent!"
Saraj Vashu looks over at Imrama. "We must divide our forces amongst us, to face each of these challenges. In which direction would you be best suited?"
Imrama "I would go where ever I am most needed, and I see quite a bit of need in the West at the moment. But if I am to choose, I would choose the battle against the Silver Prince - the East is also home to Deathlords, and I will need to learn to fight them eventually."
Saraj nods. "Your vessel may prove quite useful against the Omen, too."
Imrama "So I would expect. The Fable has never faced its equal by land, sea or air. It will be a welcome challenge to finally meet a craft worthy of its guns."
Saraj Revan slowly rises from his seat, his cloak still heavily shadowing his face. "I would like to accompany you, Stormfound, if that suits you."
Imrama "Then Revan of Khadis, let us not delay. There is evil to undo and a flotilla of the dead to destroy."
Saraj Revan nods. "Let us away, then." He turns to his Circle and looks at each of them for a moment, before turning back to depart.
Saraj stares with that same determination. "Don't die, you two."
Imrama "Likewise to you and the rest of your company. Anyone who snuffs it owes the rest of us a round in the Underworld."
Saraj guffaws. "I'll remember that!" he laughs, though the rest of the circle seems less than enthused.
Saraj It is not far later, and the Fable of the Reconstruction flies over the churning seas. The sky is dark from the Eclipse, but heavy clouds would have made it so anyway, and thick rain punctuated by vicious lightning bolts pours down from overhead. The Black Omen, the horrific flying death-city, is but a short distance to the north now.
Revan stands on the bow of the vessel, silently allowing the rain to fall upon him, watching with a fixed gaze for the moment when the dark city becomes visible.
Imrama stares out beside Revan, watching the terrible fortress as it grows against the horizon. "A vile sight. Have you any strategy or insight to offer in dismantling it, Revan?"
Revan "I can tell you what I know of its workings. There was once a city in the West, pure and beautiful, known as Galan, wrought of the finest seastone."
Revan "It was destroyed, long ago, and not a fragment remained. But the Bodhisattva has wrenched the ghost of its memory from Netheos and cast it in soulsteel, then set a thousand ghosts to work the cruel gears that propel it through the air."
Revan "At its heart is the unliving specter of a creature slain in the First War, whose constant torment fuels the city's necrotic weapons; and commanding it is the Deathlord's finest Abyssal captain, Ash of Nightfall."
Imrama thinks, but does not say ::By my father's wings, what insanity have I gotten myself into now?::
Imrama "I confess, Revan, that neither I nor my ship have any gift for guile. We may attempt to parlay, and perhaps enter the citatadel, or we may approach with guns blazing. Beyond those two options, I can see little else."
Revan gazes at the city as it looms up in the distance -- its seven jet-black towers, the great bars of soulsteel that spin about its midsection, and the wisps of ghostly essence that rise visibly from its surface even at this distance. "I do not expect any quarter from them. Guns blazing may be our best option."
Imrama thinks for just a moment, and then turns to face Revan. "In that case, I have a question for you my friend: how long can you hold your breath?"
Revan If Revan is surprised, he doesn't show it -- much, anyway. "Several minutes, at least."
Imrama "Very good. I suggest that we go below decks for the final approach."
Revan nods, and wastes no time heading inwards.
Imrama Racing in low over the wine-dark sea, the Fable of the Reconstruction loses almost no momentum as it slips beneat the waves, sink down 10 fathoms as it makes its final approach towards the citadel of death. Plowing through water as easily as it does the air, the ship passes beneath the Soulsteel fortress and then turn abruptly skyward. As its prow crests the surface of the water, the vessel spins clockwise and halts...
Imrama hanging in the air between the Black Omen's underside and the watery depths, with its portside facing upwards, gunports open. Staring out through the portal of the central gun, Imrama smiles brightly as he gives the order to fire at will.
Revan The strange creatures of glowing light do their duty, guiding the ship's great cannons with unmatched accuracy. Revan runs his eyes over the creatures, and seems to linger on Mr. Iggles-Lux for a particularly long moment. (...)
Revan As the bolts of golden light arc upwards from the vessel, the Omen's defense system engages to stop them: from the darkness, the cruelly distended shapes of human souls scream out to claw at and intercept the bolts. (...)
Revan The brilliant light of the beams tears through them, casting the tortured souls out of this world and towards the Lethe denied them by the Deathlord's cruel plot -- and they strike with brilliant explosions of light as the flying city rocks and wobbles under the impact.
Revan The groaning sound of metal on metal fills the air as the Omen's moving parts grind against one another from the shock of the Fable's cannons; and a moment later, points on the underside of the vessel begin to take on a negative glow as death-Essence flows into the city's dark weapons.
Imrama Diving "down", across the interior of the ship's hull, Imrama scurries out of a porthole on the starboard side and "up" the side of the ship, leaning back over the rail to put as much of the ship as possible between him and the deadly fortress. He levels both of his guns against the Black Omen, and fires two blinding bolts of chemical fury into its shadowy maw.
Revan Imrama's bolts strike with deadly precision against portions of the great city's exterior, sending more brilliant sparks flying out from the impact on the black soulsteel, and leaving tiny fires burning where they strike.
Revan watches Imrama dive out of the porthole, and considers his action for a moment -- but watching the vessel's horrific guns prepare to fire on the vessel he occupies, he suddenly makes up his mind. (...)
Revan leaps out of the porthole himself, and for a moment, freefalls -- and then, from under his heavy cloak, six jagged metallic wings burst out and propel him rapidly upwards.
Revan ::We must defeat the swarm of dead that guard the city so that we can get inside::
Imrama ::You have the wings of an Aalorai. That's fantastic.::
Imrama Maintaining its orientation, the Fable bursts back into motion, orbiting up and around the Black Omen and strafing its exterior with sunfire as it draws a perfect glowing circle around the dark heart of the sea.
Revan takes a position opposite from Imrama, tensed in preparation to react to the city's attack. ::I took them from one called Jalathi-Ek, who I slew in aiding those who refuse to crusade against humanity. They are... very useful.::
Imrama ::I...was not aware that there was such a crusade in question.::
Revan The ship's cannons pound once more, this time into the side of the great city, and once again the darkness is lit by the gloriously bright light of their impact. As more ghosts fly from the depths of the Black Omen to protect it, Revan swoops suddenly towards it. (...)
Revan Stretching his hands in front of him, Revan flies towards the doom city at a tremendous speed, and he begins to glow with a reddish-orange light. Just shortly before he would impact with the side, however, his wings turn and sharply bank him away -- but the reddish light, still bearing his shape, barrels onwards and strikes the Omen, shaking it viciously once again.
Revan As if in response, the dark glow underneath the Omen seems to grow dramatically stronger, and a horrific sound -- halfway between a scream and a guttural growl -- emanates from deep within the city, and a dark bolt that seems to bear the faint shadowy shape of a sinuous, skeletal creature shoots out, directly for the Fable.
Revan Much of the horrific pain-bolt shears off of the Fable's brilliantly durable hull, but even that is not enough to soften the blow entirely... the Solars watch the ship shake visibly, and flakes of sunlight fly off its hull into the empty sky, as it absorbs what is left of the Omen's attack.
Revan ::I believe we have an opening now. It seems that your ship can stand up to the Omen's weapons....::
Imrama thinks back to the last time the ship was actually damaged. "The Twelve Thunderheads," he mutters.
Imrama ::You suggest that we take the fight inside then?::
Revan ::Yes. I am concerned about what the Omen might be capable of if its captain thinks he is about to lose, and... I suspect your vessel can withstand that weaponry far better than you or I.::
Imrama ::A fair bet. Oncemore into the breech then.::
Revan 's wings propel him towards the surface of the city; the ghostly defenses seem disrupted enough and busy enough with the Fable to allow him passage, and he alights gently upon the city's surface, his wings folding up beneath his cloak once more.
Imrama Holding his guns at his side, Imrama runs flat-out through the air to reach the foul city beside Revan.
Revan The streets of what was once Galan still show the beatiful curves and gloriously abstract statuary that made it so beautiful once; but the metal of death coats everything, and apparitions trudge through the streets, casting a dark pall over that beauty. Imrama marvels at the fallen beauty of the death-tainted citadel. "Well, Revan, unless you've any grander or more considered stratagem, I would suggest we try to find whoever or whatever is in command here."
Revan nods grimly. "Let us -- there's an entrance here," he says, pointing to a grand archway leading into a nearby building, its elegant and delicate bas relief of birds in flight drowned in thick, unbreathing black metal.
Imrama is the first through the arch, his weapons raised, his courage firm.
Revan This hallway seems like it was the entrance to a civil building of some kind, in the city's previous life; now, though, the oppressive darkness renders it quite unwelcoming. Intricately geometric soulsteel machinery -- clearly not part of Galan's original design -- lines the hall,
Revan and apparitions only vaguely resembling their long-lost human forms work them with a soft, dull moaning sound, though they do not appear to pay any attention to the two Eclipses.
Imrama feels for the poor wretches, but knows the best help he can offer them is to free the lost souls from the thrall of the Silver Prince, or whatever lieutenant he has dispatched on this mission. He continues down the hallway with respect, though not reverence, for the imprisoned dead.
Revan "Do you think you are going somewhere, Sunblight?" a gravelly and low voice calls out from somewhere behind Imrama.
Revan stops in his tracks just behind Imrama, and begins to slowly turn to look.
Imrama whirls round, ready to face whatever emissaries death has sent to try to claim him.
alsoquin The four horrors stand irreverently at the doorway through which Imrama just entered:
alsoquin the pale, thin albino with long hair, clad in flowing robes of white and red, known as Alabaster Mourning;
alsoquin the ashen-skinned wide gentleman, clad neck to foot in armor of dark-green jade inset with accursed soulsteel runes and bearing two hook swords (Tremor of Coming Night);
alsoquin the woman whose blonde hair contrasts with her jet-black skin and deep purple one-piece outfit, who grimaces and holds her two-sided crystal daggers at the ready (Demise of Treasured Dreams);
alsoquin and the one so dessicated that naught but a skeleton held together with black, glittering chains ridged with jagged blades remains -- known as That Which Lies Beyond.
Imrama "Abyssals," Imrama mutters. His anima flares, brighter than the missing sun. "I can offer you one chance, my fallen siblings. Renounce your foul master and take the first step back into the light. You may flee or you may stay and fight for life and freedom. But if you stand against us one moment more, I will be forced to strike, and we shall have to purify your shards on their next...
Imrama ...incarnations." Imrama's guns are leveled and cocked, awaiting the answer he well-expects but does not relish.
alsoquin That Which Lies Beyond grips one of its chains between two skeletal hands and snaps it taut, making a sound like a mix between brutal metallic clanging and howls of painful despair. "We shall feed you to worms, sky-lover."
Imrama "No, poor nameless one," Imrama says with sadness and certainty. "You will not." With that, Imrama pours out alchemical fire onto the spiteful walking corpse.
alsoquin The skeletal Exalt brings up his chain and deflects the bolts of sunlight using the Incomparable Sentinel Stance, and laughs in the same deep, gravelly voice.
Revan Wasting no time, Revan leaps dramatically forward, his wings spreading wide and striking viciously at Demise, who bobs and weaves with unnatural grace as she avoids his strikes, moving herself to puncture him with her daggers as the two roll aside in close combat.
Revan That Which Lies Beyond looks at Imrama with his unchanging skeletal grin, and whips both arms forward rapidly, sending four of the long, serrated chains flying towards Imrama at incredible speed.
Imrama stands calm and stock still as the chains are whipped away by the gales spiraling around his body. He raises his second set of arms, the ones formed of lightning and levels all four guns at the skeletal thing that ought to have been a Solar. With a melancholy sigh, he fires.
Revan That Which Lies Beyond brings his dark chains up to block the bolts of pure sunlight, but they slither around and through, largely unimpeded by the undead warrior's attempts at defense; where they strike, ribs explode and black smoke gushes out to fill the air, and he collapses to his hands and knees with a low moan and a crunching noise.
Imrama eyes the other three with resolute honesty. "I am sorry that your second breath was taken from a poisoned wind, my fellows. But it will not stop me taking it back from you."
Revan Tremor steps forward and begins spinning and turning, his hookswords cutting arcs of black fire into the air as he brings them to bear on Imrama.
Revan Alabaster Mourning merely begins chanting in the dark, forbidden speech of Netheos and waving his arms about in various elaborate patterns.
Revan Revan and Demise collapse to the ground in a blur of rapid stabs and feints as each attempts with little luck to penetrate the other's quite effective defenses.
Imrama jumps into the air and falls upward, coming to rest with his back against the corridor's ceiling. From this vantage, he rains down fire onto Alabaster Morning. "A sorcerer, then? Do you remember Brigid? Do you know of the wonders of Sperimin? You ought to have been an heir to a legacy of wisdom and knowledge, and to have used those gifts in the service of the world your present masters are...
Imrama ...hungry to consume." A few tears from Imrama's sad eyes fall into the arcs of curling liquid fire, hissing as they boil away.
Revan The tall, thin man doubles over bleeding from several massive wounds from Imrama's intense assault, though he continues chanting. As the bolts strike, Imrama sees a group of pale, almost invisible shades become visible, circling around the Abyssal's body -- then several of them seem to pop, with a dramatic sound, and several of the wounds begin to knit themselves closed.
Revan A few moments later, he completes his spell and unleashes the energies of Iron Circle Necromancy. At his command, ghostly hands begin to reach up through the floor and grab at Imrama and Revan, trying to hold them fast against the ground.
Revan The hands grip both Solars' limbs with an unholy deathgrip, and begin to hold them down against the floor. Demise rises up over Revan with one of her daggers raised high, and smiles; and That Which Lies Beyond, despite his grievous injury, laughs once more.
alsoquin That Which Lies beyond, black smoke pouring from his shattered ribs, crawls back up (unsteadily) to his feet, and begins to walk over to where Imrama lies, held by the arms of the long dead.
Imrama struggles against the pale translucent arms that hold him. "You desecrate souls in need of rest. It will not save you from the justice we carry - it only breaks, a little more, the world you were made to heal."
alsoquin "Silence," says Alabaster Mourning, but quietly. "Those Who Long For Reunion are mine to command as I see fit."
alsoquin Meanwhile, the skeletal Exalt stands over the captive Exalt and laughs once more. "You... are spirited but... foolish." His chains rattle with an unholy sound. "We shall tear the light from your bones and make you one of us, that your spirit might serve a greater master."
Imrama "My spirit knows its purpose, and will brook no master."
alsoquin The skeletal Exalt laughs again. "We will see, glowing one." He points with one end of his evil chain to Revan: "Demise, we have no need of this other one. Destroy it."