The Solars stand collected in the top floor of the strange insectoid tower, having just located their lost comrade below!
The glowing demon's elaborate, many-branched staff-like weapon of black spins lazily in its hand, as it awaits the actions of the Exalts.
Lucent "That is what happens when you rely too much on demons." The sphere of the sun comes to his hand, shining, four arms spreading in the light... as his mind went to Amika, where he asked Zahara to place the demons for him. She would likely not be protected from the inside...
Zahara "Thanks for the advice, Lucent." she replies drily.
charlequin The demon looks over the Solars. "I have decided that you have worn out your welcome. Do you intend to depart my chambers politely?"
Birds glances at Zahara for direction.
Lucent "Welcome!" ::Sorry, they just always made me a little uneasy... we could go now, but Cerin should remain. We cannot leave the Daybreaker. Do you think you can do well on your own, Cerin?:: It was a stupid question, of course, but he had to ask
Zahara bows, "It seems our mission here has been unsuccessful. Perhaps we shall meet again in the future."
Zahara ::I would prefer to deal with this one, on our own terms, not his.::
Birds ::Our terms it is, then. Cerin, Kai?::
Thirteen ::Kai. Where is the Daybreaker?::
Cerin ::I will remain here for the moment. He does not seem to be aware of my presence. I will no tarry here overlong though::
Zahara "You have been an enlightening host."
Zahara "When we chronicle our defeat, what shall we call you?"
Zahara "For the moment, Thirteen."
Zahara ::Just go along with me, please.::
Lucent ::Be careful, Cerin. We need the Daybreaker, but we need you alive more:: The light from the sun-orb goes out, and it return to the constellation about Lucent. "We leave then. May I know the name of our adversary?"
Thirteen "We called without an invitation. I believe we have left our calling cards. Expect us again."
Thirteen ::I will try.::
charlequin nods cruelly at Zahara. "You do not underwhelm from the stories I have heard. Expect to meet Sarifen again in the future."
Birds "We arrange, not expect, Farewell, Sarifen."
brasslantern ::Oh! There things work again.:: She pauses to flick an oversized insect off her new blade. ::I... I don't know where they took Daybreaker. I'm sorry.::
Zahara "I can only hope that better circumstances draw us together, then." Again she bows, then steps out the window, although she is wary of an attack from behind.
charlequin As the Solars depart out of the window, Sarifen reaches up and pulls at the window frame, drawing a solid curtain of iron locusts shut over the opening.
Thirteen waves the orb at the window as it closed. "Next time, we will call in advance."
Zahara "Well. That was interesting."
Zahara "Are you alright, Birds?"
Birds "Pretty much, yes. I'll recover quickly."
Zahara "I apologize. I had considered that this might happen, but I supposed they would remain under my control."
Lucent "Fighting fire with fire does not work very well. We need some ice, next time."
Birds nods. "We learn something every day."
charlequin The red sky grows darker, and the black winds kick up, bringing a chill that even the Solars can feel. The suburbs of hell do not appear to be a pleasant place to linger.
Cerin continues his slow descent of the tower, searching for the daybreaker as he goes, drifting down corridoors with narry a sound or motion to betray him.
Zahara "Well, the gate then."
Zahara ::Cerin, be careful. I cannot lose you.:: she speaks only to him.
Thirteen "Let us proceed with haste. We can keep to our timetable if we arrive at our next destination within the hour."
Lucent taps into Amika's senses to know what she and Kai are up to, ordering her to retreat if it is at all possible.
Cerin ::I will return to you.::
Zahara ::You will.:: it is not a question. It just IS.
charlequin Cerin finds that the tower is ringed with other, smaller rooms of cruel occultic study, where humans and other creatures hang dying or lay crumpled and dead. After the first few, Cerin starts to find more than human guests -- Dragon-Bloods, and even some Lunars and Sidereals hang from the walls, though most have expired and can be identified only by their dress.
charlequin It does not take many such rooms before Cerin believes that experiments on the Exaltation process were performed here, but the remnants of a black iron channelcage, half-consumed by fire, make it a certainty.
Cerin notes the instruments used with interest, but does not tarry over long in the experimental labs, moving through them like a breeze, continueing his explorations...
charlequin The rest of the Solars find themselves reunited with Kai and Amika. The warriors have retreated back into the place from whence they came, giving everyone a reasonably clean chance to exit.
Zahara ::Kai, what happened to you?::
Lucent walks up to Amika and pets the gargantuan scorpion's feline face. ::Glad to see you are safe, Kai!::
brasslantern ::A large thing hit me and I fell down.::
Zahara ::...and then?::
Kai ::I woke up in a pit. I was taunted a little by someone I couldn't see... Then someone else set me free, gave me this sword, and told me to meet you here.::
Zahara ::Who was it, and what is this sword you now carry?:: she asks as they travel toward the gate
charlequin The main party arrives at the gate as the cold wind picks up even further.
Lucent ::So, either there are people on our side we do not know of, or...::
charlequin Meanwhile, Cerin descends further into the tower.
Zahara ::Or this is a trap.::
Birds ::You always know how to brighten my day, Zee.::
Zahara ::Honestly, that demon could have had all of us to experiment on, if he summoned that army Amika was distracting. We're on HIS..HER... ITS turf."
Lucent ::Yes. I had talked to Birds before about orders buried in another's mind. Even if Kai had none before...::
Zahara ::Think about it. Why did it let us leave?::
Kai ::I don't know who it was... He implied our goals would align, but I'm not sure he was on our side exactly. This sword... It is a bit of a mystery.::
Zahara looks at the gate, uncertainly, and back at the black tower
Thirteen ::We can discuss this further on the way. Now, we must hasten. Cerin will be fine, Zahara.::
Thirteen steps through the gate.
Birds looks both ways and steps through after him.
Lucent walks through the gate
charlequin The light and air in Creation proper is almost intolerably more pleasant than the oppressive and crushing atmosphere of the Ashen Isles.
Cerin frowns at the traces he sees within the tower, following them through the passageways, though not to the throne room once more, before he follows them from the front door.
charlequin Much quicker on his feet than Kai -- and not woozy from injury -- Cerin can easily cover the distance from the tower to the writhing pit of metal centipedes where Kai was previously imprisoned, some distance from the tower.
Zahara frowns as she stares over the blasted wasteland for several more moments, then turns, and resolutely steps through.
Thirteen taps his foot, waiting for Zahara.
charlequin Meanwhile, in Creation, Kai can get a really good look at her new sword for the first time in decent light.
Thirteen immediately begins resetting the gate for the frozen north.
Zahara "Kai." she looks at the girl. "I believe you should not use that sword until we find out more about it."
charlequin The past presence of his quarry is quite obvious to Cerin, even with dark demonic energy filling the air here; though Cerin detects no traces of Kai's rescuer.
Kai "Well, can you make anything of it now? I wouldn't like to get into a fight unarmed."
Zahara "We are near the Cascade. I'm sure we can find you something appropriate until we can really look at it. I fear I will miss something if I look it over hurriedly...and this smells of a trap enough, as it is."
charlequin The blade Kai holds is quite stunning, in real sunlight. The blade is hammered fine from the most brilliant of white gold, with yellow gleaming from the blood channel. The pommel is a pale blue, and the handle a similarly faint red, both similarly gleaming and carved with gentle, pleasantly intricate patterns.
Zahara "It is, I admit, quite beautiful, though."
Cerin spends some time studying the pit and the traces of his infernal quarry, trying to determine his actions there, and again searching for any trace of Kai's mysterious benefactor.
charlequin It does not seem like much of anything occurred there, beyond lingering for a short while at the top of the pit.
Zahara lists off a few artifact swords she's got lying around back home. Most of them are jade of various sorts, from her erstwhile 'guests'
Birds "I can give you my sword, if you like, though it is not quite as impressive as yours."
Kai "Well, if I need it, then YOU'LL probably need it."
Birds shrugs. "Alahwi fought with her Essence alone. It is time I mastered that art."
Cerin sighs softly to himself, and debates the merits of venturing back into the tower to study the demon more before deciding that unless something induced him to spend essence, he would learn little new, and instead he starts to run across the shifting black desert towards the gate.
Zahara "Are you sure, Birds? I have others she can use for the nonce..."
Birds nods. "The treasure rooms are far."
Kai "Well, if you think it's best. Thank you, Birds."
Thirteen "Actually, I have something to deposit in the White Room, with your permission, Zahara."
Zahara "Do you now? What is it?"
Thirteen hefts the black orb.
Zahara "Aha. I will have to make sure that Tevezst is secure, then."
Thirteen "Must we go back, or could a servant insert it safely?"
Birds pulls the weapon from its harness and withdraws her Essence.
Zahara frowns... "I would not trust a servant with a tool of Malfaes. That may have been his intention to give it to us."
Kai takes the blade, bowing deeply, and performs a few basic maneuvers, attuning it as she does.
Zahara "Besides, Cerin isn't back yet. I'll go put this away, while you plan our next move." she takes the orb, assuming he lets her, and departs, a-tantyback
Cerin spends some time at the gate, studying it to see who other than solars might have used it, and to go where, studying the little motes caught up in the mechanisms.
charlequin The gate doesn't appear to have gathered a tremendous amount of recent use.
Cerin keys in the co-ordinates of the sunlands, and steps through
Thirteen nods to Cerin as he arrives, stepping slightly aside to allow him entrance as he resets the coordinates.
Lucent "Welcome back, Cerin!"
Cerin "It was not there." he saus in a quiet voice. "However, the Man With A Thousand Faces And None had been, and quite recently. I believe he may well be the figure you taunted you from the top of the pit, Kai. Of your benefactor, I could see no trace."
Thirteen "Cerin, you can examine Kai's sword much more readily than I."
Thirteen "And I suspect you have little to prepare for our next journey."
Kai "Are you sure that that was not the one who freed me?"
Lucent "You should try to inspect Kai as well. There are subtler ways to influence someone than obvious magic, but still..." He shrugs. "Better to be safe."
Cerin "Ah, the new blade? If I may..." he holds out his hands for the blade. "And Kai, of course, if you agree?"
Kai hands him the blade. "Go ahead."
charlequin As Kai hands the blade to Cerin, something catches Thirteen's eye in the designs upon the sword's pommel -- it looks to be some sort of embedded writing.
Lucent "And I am not doubting you, Kai, before you ever doubt; But you saw what Birds' poems did to Chaya. Or my voice. Something like Birds' words within the poems could be within the taunts, or something such..."
Cerin "I am reasonably certain you were not freed by the him, yes. You would have remembered him much more clearly...though I suppose he /could/ have masked his infernal present that well..." he takes the blade, studying the flows of essence that present themselves.
Thirteen reaches out abruptly, running one finger along the sword's pommel.
Kai "Both of them kept themselves hidden. For all I know, they were the same."
charlequin As Cerin gazes into the sword's deeper essence, Thirteen's finger traces out the old characters -- EVENTIDE.
Thirteen frown grows deeper as he traces through the thousandfold tree of his memory, looking for a leaf or branch that bears the name Eventide.
Cerin "It appears to be both a powerful blade, and free from traps in the essence, though also free of such interesting structures as the daybreaker possesses."
Thirteen "Rally to the Eventide," Thirteen murmurs to himself from far away.
Thirteen "Kai, I think you would do well to bear this weapon with you."
Thirteen "You need not wield it if you choose not to, but at the very least, it should not be let out of our sight."
Kai smiles as she takes the weapon back. "Oh, I think I can handle it."
Xar returns, looking thoughtful
Thirteen "It is a good omen that we have received it. But I wonder what the bringer intended."
Cerin smiles to Zahara as she returns, moving over to Tanty's side.
Birds "Hi, Zee. Thirteen, what do you mean?"
Thirteen "This blade has a long pedigree."
Zahara smiles at Cerin, "Welcome back, love. Did you find it?"
Thirteen "Why would the bearer bestow it on Kai? Either he believed that Kai was especially worthy of its power, or he feared that Kai would need it to survive and accomplish what we intend, or both."
Zahara "What's this, Thirteen?"
Thirteen "Is the magnificence of this weapon a reflection of Kai's heroics, or our hubris? We cannot know for sure."
Lucent walks closer to the wielders of the blade... "Eventide? Ularis' Blade? I... remember it..." He blinks, the odd pools in his eyes shifting some.
Cerin shakes his head "I believe it is now in the hands of the Man With A Thousand Faces And None. He was certainly there, and talked with Sarifen too."
Zahara "Then we were indeed defeated."
Thirteen "I have heard of this blade before. Its name is Eventide. It hearkens from the oldest of wars."
Zahara "But the loss of one battle does not mean the loss of the war."
Thirteen "Kai, did your benefactor say anything to you? Anything at all?"
Thirteen "This is hardly a gift to pass off with a nod and a grunt."
Kai Buckthorn looks at Luc. "This was Ularis' weapon? Did you know him?" To Thirteen, "He said very little, only that our goals would serve his at some point."
Zahara frowns, and stares intently at the sword, at kai, and then off into the distance. One question runs through her head, beating at the cage of information witheld like a phoenix, burning itself out and being born again in the ashes of the question
Kai Buckthorn "But if this belonged to Ularis... It makes a little more sense that it came to me."
Zahara "Why?" she mutters to herself
Lucent "It was his weapon, yes. Used to effortlessly rally hundreds of troops in one place. It was... famous." He blinks at the second question. "I... think so. I do not quite recall... the name just made a flood of memories come forth, sorry... but it was... hope. A shining hope, a blade of importance, greatness. And rallying troops... might be very useful."
Kai Buckthorn She smiles down at him, then musses his hair. "Well, then, it soulds like the trip was worth it."
Zahara "I can't get past the fact he let us leave. Unless his only goal was the Daybreaker."
Thirteen "Why should he kill us? Kai's kidnapping was an accident, not a plan."
Lucent looks up, content for being of service "It worried us, though..."
Thirteen "Excuse me. Attempt to kill us."
Zahara "Because we were in his grasp."
Zahara "If I had my enemies in the same position, I would not have given them up so easily."
Thirteen "When waging a war, it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice a minor tactical advantage in order to gain a commanding one later."
Cerin "I am not sure that he wanted to test us. Both Luc and Thirteen are practically unknown quantities, and while he might have prevailed, he could not before sure. And if he failed, we have eaten his essence. If we had failed, we would rise a new."
Thirteen "Kai's capture must have come as a surprise to him. He scrambled for what gain he could, willing to release us and face us again when he is ready for us."
Birds blinks. "We can eat essences?"
Thirteen "Perhaps he wants us to accomplish something he fears he cannot. Perhaps he merely wants to attempt a less risky assault on us."
Thirteen "We were, after all, in his drawing room uninvited."
Lucent "He has seen what we have, however. You saw the crystal, he was ready to counter one of our advantages already. Pehaps others..." He wondered why he was ever the one to think too much of their enemies. Pehaps that was a flaw of his'.
Cerin "I can eat a gods essence, yes. Or a demons."
Birds "I'm not sure how productive it is to stand around and consider this, while our hourglass is turned and we have so much else to do, loves."
Kai Buckthorn To Luc: "I was not unworried myself." To the others: "Yeah, didn't we have a schedule?"
Zahara "But, we were, after all IN HIS DRAWING ROOM."
Thirteen "What has he seen? A few parlor tricks, that we have already aptly demonstrated on his army."
Zahara frowns, "Yes. Let's move on. We can't afford tow aste time; we can talk as we go."
Thirteen "Not all of us can redecorate our homes as an act of will, Zahara. Some people would prefer not to face their enemies in and about all of their valuable possessions and liabilities."
Thirteen "I have already set the coordinates. Shall we?"
Zahara "Go on, then."
Lucent "God, I hope it will not be very cold. Sun-forsaken north..."
Thirteen "I told you to dress warmly."
Zahara "It will be." she turns on her warm undies.
Lucent "I was freezing on Chaya already..."
Zahara tosses them all warm cloaks. "Here, take these, they can be commanded to warm you."
Tags: (:tags Isles of Ash, Daybreaker, Sarifen, Demons, Exaltation, Eventide, Thousand-Faced Man, White Room, Ularis :)