Zahara gathers her Circlemates near the forge, and waits a few minutes for them to be quiet. "I brought you here today to show you a new technology that Cerin has discovered, that I believe will work against the Aalorai." she says gravely.
<Cerin> "The Aalorai are the bird creatures Relovia mentioned in her letter"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, those."
<Markuran> "I thought the star-chosen said they were ancient beasts, not Dragon-Kings."
<Cerin> "They are. The dragon kings are the closest type of creature them though, in that they are natural essence channelers"
<Zahara> "S Sithumi? showed us a... moving picture that showed a great battle with these Aalorai. The army used diamond-tipped arrows against them, but many of them seemed to evade or brush off the attacks."
<Zahara> "We must be prepared to fight them, if we go to the island."
<Zahara> "Are you planning to join us, Marku?"
<Cerin> "Well, hopefully we shall not, but it would be foolish to assume we will not"
<Zahara> "We met with Seven Herons Leaping again, and he requested a small metal sphere from the island, in return for information, and untroubled access to the gates."
<Zahara> "Since we'd been discussing going there on and off since Relovia's letter arrived, it seemed an opportune bargain."
<Cerin> "The essence is trapped in a loop within the weapon. It gets expelled ..forcefully"
<Markuran> "Have you made weapons using this..new method?"
<Zahara> "Not yet, but I've devised a way to recreate them using Orichalcum. I was hoping you would help me with the actual construction, Marku."
<Markuran> "I'll help if I can. What are Cerin and Birds to do while we smith?"
<Zahara> "Try to find something that will stand up to their weapons. They seem to shoot spines from their tails with force enough to carve craters into the earth, and anything that happens to be standing on it. Furthermore, they attack en masse."
<Zahara> "Or, alternately come up with a way we will NOT have to face them directly."
<Markuran> "We should get to work then. We have little time to waste on the West when the Realm marches against us."
<Zahara> "Hopefully we can find information on the island that will help us against the Realm."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'll try and...umm...scout something out?"
<Cerin> "Perhaps some initial scouting of the island will be in order, love. Though I would prefer to have at least some of the arrow heads before that"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Are they friendly?"
<Zahara> "They are decidedly not friendly, once they find out who we are... or were."
<Zahara> "I seem to have led a successful invasion on them in centuries past, and they likely bear a grudge."
<Cerin> "What worries me is that apparently you only managed to seal them away.."
<Zahara> "I have yet to rediscover how to send an entire *island* Elsewhere."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, they're back."
<Zahara> "I am also not certain whether they are sentient, or pure beasts."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Maybe they'll be excited about having new neighbors."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Let me go and bake them a welcome basket."
<Zahara> "If you, on your scouting mission, get a chance to capture one and bring it back, alive or dead, I would appreciate it."
<Markuran> "Cerin, will you be going with Birds?"
<Cerin> "I will bear that in mind" he smiles "I'm not sure I want to bring a live one back to the cascade." He looks at Markuran "Of course, unless you can think of somewhere better for me to go?"
<Zahara> "To the frozen North would also be acceptable, as long as it is caged.
<Cerin> "Perhaps you could spend some time on a cage, Marku?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Extended Toad," Birds says to one of the various servants puttering around, "I need you to fetch some things from the town, please. Take this list." She takes a sheet of her notes and her Castemark flashes as she paints a list on it, her hand blurring.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Be back by nightfall."
<Zahara> "you better!" she replies with mock-sternness.
<Markuran> "I don't think we can build an island-sized cage. But we'll figure something out."
<Cerin> The grin fades slightly from his face. "There is something I should tell you about the source of this weapon. It was given to me by Lai Misuna"
<Markuran> "For what purpose?'
<Cerin> "To stab Herons"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "To -what-?"
<Markuran> "Well. Maybe this Lai isn't so terrible...but why would he want Herons dead?"
<Cerin> "To stab Herons. It would have been a fatal thrust."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Like, before we trick him into making all kinds of deals that are not obviously hugely in our favor?"
<Zahara> "Lai is indeed terrible." she replies to Markuran, "He has our empire in his sights."
<Cerin> "I'm not sure. Presumably it has something to do with his other plans involving my infiltrating your circle."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "But since you have, um."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Let's...um...talk about that."
<Zahara> "What.. a fine idea."
<Zahara> "Let's go talk in the Gilmeyne room."
<Zahara> "And he has not been punished. What does that tell you?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "So Misuna..."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "...thinks that you can be trusted."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "So, Cerin, you're not dumb, so I suspect that you're not exactly...in the infiltrating mood any longer. Yesno?"
<Markuran> "For what were you to infilitrate us?"
<Cerin> "I do not know exactly, I was merely told to infiltrate you at first. I was to stop you visiting Rathess, and to stop you uniting the lands to the north under your rule. Rathess was a little beyond my abilities, and by the time it became an issue, I had no desire to stop your take over"
<Markuran> "Why were you listening to this Lai?"
<Cerin> "Because for much of the last two years I've been a member of the Order of the Red Lily"
<Markuran> "And who is the master of that? Lai?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "So I fuess you're not exactly in his best graces at the moment."
<Cerin> "I believe he is highly placed in it. He is a powereful Exalt, and his master is the god of the Chanta Blossoms"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Being that he probably thinks you're bungling assignments north, south, east, and west."
<Markuran> "What is he doing this far south, then?"
<Cerin> "The Red Lily has interests all over Creation. I have been on missions for them in all the cardinal directions. They fully plan to rule Creation"
<Zahara> "Before we united the lands to the north, however, we were able to both send and extract information from the Order."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What sort of...extractions have you made, precisely?"
<Zahara> "Both Cerin and Bertrand had a method of sending letters to and from Lai. We used that, along with the fact he didn't know that they'd been.. converted to our side."
<Zahara> "Firstly, we recieved notice of when the Order plans to invade the Sunlands."
<Markuran> "When is that? Maybe the same time the Realm does?"
<Zahara> "20, Descending Water, in the coming year. But we must not give them reason to believe we know."
<Cerin> "The Realm will probably have been defeated by then, but not for long"
<Markuran> "We still don't know how long until the Realm attacks."
<Markuran> "But I believe the Order will set the Realm on us and let them wear us down before attacking us themselves."
<Zahara> "I wonder if the Order has operatives within the Realm, as well."
<Markuran> "They must, for the Dynast said they await Lai's weapons."
<Cerin> "It would not suprise me in the slightest if they did"
<Cerin> "Beyond Lai's weapon dealing"
<Zahara> "And Secondly," she says, looking over her shoulder at Cerin, "We told them our secret weakness."
<Markuran> "What weakness is that?"
<Zahara> "That's why it's so perfect."
<BirdsOfTrinity> Therefore it must be a lie.
<Markuran> "Well, all this is fascinating, truly...but I believe we were going to investigate the flying demon-beasts that we went to war against in ages past?"
<Markuran> "Since it seems you two have taken care of this all by yourselves."
<Markuran> "Cerin can explain to Birds while they scout and Zahara to me while we forge and everyone will be informed and ready to begin our journey."
Birds-of-Trinity meets Cerin at the gateway. He is already present when she arrives, weighed down with a large satchel and a long, unwieldy bundle.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, just some things. Loaves, meat pies, swords..."
<Cerin> "meat pies? swords?" he raises an eyebrow
<BirdsOfTrinity> "A good scout is prepared for every occasion. This way, I have the appropriate response, regardless of whether we are invited to dinner or battle!"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "So, what are the coordinates for this place?"
The gateway opens, as expected.
The two find themselves standing in a small room. The walls are made of thin, gracefully arced metallic poles, with various opaque glasses interspersed between. A doorway, with two large panes of glass within it, stands at the far side of the room.
The doors push open with a casual motion. As they open, Birds feels a strong breeze blow past -- and she finds herself looking out on the Aalorai city from 100 feet in the air.
The city beneath is built upon the same soaring, swooping lines as the portal room.
Most of it seems to consist of similar, ridged towers, ranging from 50 to 150 feet in height.
<alsoquin> Other buildings are shorter and odder shaped.
At one end of the island, a massive crystalline tower can be seen, reaching seemingly thousands of feet straight up.
From his vantage point, Cerin detects no obvious sources of either.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "What do you say we descend to the ground?"
<Cerin> With essence enhancing his natural balence, he starts to run along the inch wide designs, descending the building, occasionally leaping to reach another bit of the pattern. soon he joins Birds on the ground
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I guess I'll have to use your method to get back up, eh."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Can you see anything now that we're on the ground?"
<Cerin> "It would be quite a leap otherwise. Shall we explore more?"
Closer to the ground, the city's shape is rendered clearer.
Wide... roadways cut through it, though they are not smoothed in any way, holding the natural terrain of the island. The buildings of metal and glass rise up as if drawn directly out of the ground itself, often with no visible means of entry upon the ground floor. Behind where the Solars stood within the portal chamber, two obvious sights are visible --
What appears to be a great open-air ampitheater to the northeast, and occupying much of the northwestern side of the island, a large section of land that appears to bear no buildings whatsoever, but rather elaborate machinery, seemingly built to dig into the earth itself. It is surrounded by numerous piles of dirt and earth, and several tunnels seem to have been dug already.
To the west, there is also visible a crescent-shaped, squat building, and to the east a taller, wide building with elaborate constructions snaking out of its sides in several places.
The construction area seems to occupy a great deal of space upon the island; its delineation is obvious only by the lack of buildings, since the ground is completely undeveloped. As the Solars grow closer, it becomes clear that there are a great deal of tunnels and holes -- hundreds upon hundreds. Only a few seem to have relevant machinery next to them, however.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It looks like they are mining. Think we can figure out what they're after in there?
<Cerin> "Perhaps. Though if it is mine, it is one of the strangest I have seen."
The machine itself seems to be some sort of elaborate digging mechanism -- it has a great shining glass drill bit that has clearly been used to bore some of these tunnels.
The tunnels themselves seem to go straight down to begin with, but then bend and turn once underground. Clearly things have been mined and extracted out of the walls, though there is no evidence of tools for such a purpose.
<alsoquin> Suddenly, Cerin hears faint sounds coming from within one of the more recent tunnels.
<Cerin> "down there? no, wait, I hear something coming, we should seek better cover."
Moments after the two Solars hide themselves, they can hear louder sounds -- a flapping, and occasionally a slight scratching -- coming from the tunnel. After a second, a form emerges, and they get their first glimpse of an aalorai.
The most basic form of the creature is that of a man, though slightly shorter. From there it deviates greatly, however. The aalorai's form is built entirely of gleaming metal, edged and jagged in many places. It posesses eight arms, four where each one arm appears on a human. Six great wings jut from its back, each looking as if it could sever a person's head with a single swipe. Its two deep eyesockets glow a deep, disturbing crimson. In one hand, it holds what seems to be a small, featureless metal sphere, about ten inches in diameter.
Cerin notes the being's Essence -- as powerful as one of the Solars.
It is clearly a being of a kind to the Dragon-Kings.
After a second, the aalorai launches itself into the air, and begins to fly off. Its path seems to be taking it directly towards the massive crystalline tower in the south.
Once it is some distance away Cerin moves towards Birds "That creatures command of essence matches our own. And I believe it was holding a sphere of the type Herons wished for us to retrieve"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Good thinking."
Cerin notices the traces of Essence that seem to run through the walls of this tunnel; it is as if the very ground is charged with it. It is unevenly distributed, seeming to collect in pools within the earth. The walls of the tunnel are almost perfectly smooth, with no markings or holes.
As he reaches further down the tunnel, something odd happens to the Essence patterns -- there are places which should have pools of Essence, but instead they seem to have empty spaces....
<Cerin> "I think those spheres will form here."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hm. Do you think we can find some if we go in farther?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I think that if Herons wants one of these then we should take some of our own. I'm sure you and Zahara can learn something exciting from them."
<Cerin> "I think we might, though perhaps this is why the need so many tunnels, only the new ones have such spheres in them.."
<Cerin> "I fully plan to take more than one"
<Cerin> "deeper? or should we save our theft until we are ready to leave?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Thieves now or thieves later, we are still thieves. Let's not put it off; something might...get in our way...later."
Proceeding deeper in, Cerin discovers places where the Essence still pools -- some where it seems to have reached a critical mass, and swirls within the locus oddly
<Cerin> "I think we're getting closer to the spheres, these seem to be almost ...ready."
Veins of metal can be faintly seen running through the surfaces of the tunnel.
After a point, the swirls seem to reach a ceiling -- they become no more energetic, though they continue to appear. They seem to be a less than a foot into the rock.
<Cerin> "these seem to be ready. for whatever they do." he ponders the spheres...
There is a slight "ting!" noise.
<Cerin> "this is no time to play a tune birds.." he reaches out to touch one softly
It feels ever so slightly warm to the touch.
It seems to be firmly affixed.
<Cerin> "It doesnt appear to come out..hmmm"
It seems to happily absorb the Solar energy, though it remains affixed to the rock.
The Essence within the sphere begins to swirl a little bit quicker, though again it remains affixed to the wall.
The lines of metal lining the tunnel seem generally inert.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'm not good at disappearing. You may need to do that on your own."
Tags: (:tags Aalorai, Red Lily, Lai Misuna, Herons, Gilmyne:)