< Interior Decorating | Sol Invictus Logs | Meeting With Lai >

  • Zahara carries a sheaf of papers down the twisting hallway, only half-paying attention to where she's going, as her feet know the path well. Finally, she stops in front of one of the gigantic store-room doors, which can only be opened by one attuned to the manse, placing their fingers in the insets in the proper order. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.. a heavy grinding noise fills the corridor as the stone slab unseals itself from the wall and shifts aside.

In the storage room sits a variety of the Circle's magnificent treasures, acquired over the past several years. In one corner sits a locked box containing Zahara's current quarry -- the meteor of strange metal recently retrieved by the Circle over the bodies of a Wyld Hunt.

  • Zahara enters the room, and kneels next to the box, running her fingers over it. "I wonder what will happen if I make one from this..." she muses to herself. "I'll need to study it, to learn more about it."

Opening the box, however, leaves Zahara with an entirely rude surprise -- the treasure from the sky is missing.

  • Zahara 's shout of anger wakes the entire manse. Some rush to her side, while others tremble, hoping she won't find them.
  • Cerin is one of the ones who moves to her side, his soft footfalls soon falling inside the storeroom "What is it Zahara?" he asks, concerned
  • Zahara rounds wrathfully on Cerin, only millimeters away from ripping him limb to limb, "Someone STOLE from ME!"
  • Cerin doesnt step back from Zahara "Stole what?"
  • Markuran steps into the doorway, blocking two of his barbarian warriors from sight. "Who stole what?"
  • Zahara narrows her eyes, "That." she says darkly, stabbing her finger in the direction of the empty box. "Marku better not have taken it without telling me.. damnit. Where is he!" she glares around

<Zahara> "You! Did you take the metal without telling the rest of us?"

<Markuran> "I stole nothing, Zahara." the big man looks almost as bristly as he did when Rannath questioned his horde's strength.

<Zahara> "Or was it our latest member, who is not here to join us, but to infiltrate and steal?"

<Markuran> "Relovia is not strong enough to carry a fallen star."

<Zahara> "There is one newer than she." she eyes Cerin mistrustfully.

<Cerin> "I did not know of the existance of this room until I followed your shout here, Zahara, I promise you that, under your Oath if you wish"

  • Markuran eyes Cerin doubtfully. "Nor does he look the sort to carry off giant rocks."

<Zahara> "Rannath nor Birds wouldn't have known the value... They are not craftsmen

<Markuran> "You should spend less time blaming your friends, Zahara. And more trying to find traces of the real theif."

<Zahara> "The door can only be opened by one attuned to the manse, Markuran, find me someone who is not a friend who can accomplish that?"

<Markuran> "They could have used Charms or Sorcery, or walked through the door."

<Cerin> "They followed Marku through the door when he carried the stone in here."

  • Cerin points out the minor traces that show this. scuffmarks and whatnot.

<Zahara> "How do you know?" she says accusingly

  • Markuran frowns. "I saw no one. Nor did I hear them or smell them."
  • Cerin shows the signs of this, explaining his deductions.

<Zahara> "So an invisible creature followed Markuran through the door?"

  • Cerin nods

<Zahara> "well where the hell did he end up?"

<Cerin> "He waited a few hours after Marku left, opened the box using some kind of charm...there are traces of essence on the locks, then walked out"

<Zahara> "To WHERE? And how exactly did he manage to exit without triggering the alarms?"

  • Zahara slams her fist into the wall in frustration. Slate fractures and falls to the floor in pieces. "DAMNIT whoever that bastard is made me CHIP the MANSE!"

<Cerin> "To where I do not know, perhaps they will have left traces through the manse. As to your alarms, they can evidently mask themselves from them. It would be relatively trivial with charms, and static patturns can be defeated even with mortal arts"

  • Zahara looks a bit like a demon herself at this point. "That's not good enough."
  • Markuran laughs. "So, someone thinks to walk in and take our hard-earned treasure? Cerin, if you can find them, we will teach them how foolish they are."
  • Cerin smiles "The trail is old, but perhaps I can follow it"

<Zahara> "Follow it, then." she says coldly.

  • Cerin starts to look about the room, picking up the dust that fell where the intruder was standing, sniffing it lightly to get its scent, his eyes surveying the room, taking in the faint wisps of essence he eft behind, then he starts to slowly track the thief, letting his intuition guide him

<Zahara> "We're going to need to rework these defenses."

  • Markuran moves along beside Cerin, pointing out vague signs the other man misses, looking over them as his intuition guides him to the next big clue. Refining eachother's trails, the two men are able to follow the path of the theif as it leaves the Labyrinth

<Zahara> "And get better guards. Where's the worthless guard who let them through?" she growls, pacing back and forth like an enraged tiger.

<Markuran> "Quiet Zahara. If I didn't see them, how could the warriors?"

<Zahara> "Maybe YOU should have paid more attention."

The trail wends its way through the mazy corridors of the manse, stopping frequently, as if the quarry stopped to examine a room or decoration. Finally, it arrives at the center of the manse, and heads straight up -- following the water in its strange flow up through the very top of the building.

  • Markuran looks over his shoulder, dark eyes snapping with anger. Growing out his words in a cold tone, Mark sounds most displeased with the Solar woman. "Do you wish to insult my skills or allow us to find the theif? If insults are more suitable, we can settle our differences here and now before Cerin and I move on."

<Zahara> "If you had been more observant, we wouldn't NEED to find the thief on a stone cold trail."

  • Zahara crosses her arms and glares back.
  • Cerin is frown at something in thin air. "I need an Acacia flower, or for preference 8 of them." he says without looking at either of the two. "It is a flower of concealment, and in its destruction, will help to unlock this concealment"

<Zahara> "Check the forest."

<Zahara> "Actually..."

  • Zahara grabs the nearest servant by the collar and orders her. "You. Go bring us 8 acacia flowers. If you need a description, ask him." she shoves the poor servant girl in Cerin's direction.
  • Cerin ponders what else he will need for the ritual; 8 small golden mirrors, a small bowl, some way of lighting a fire, and a pestle and mortar. He gives the description to the girl. "Could you have someone fetch me 8 small golden mirrors, too?"
  • Zahara just looks at the young man who's hovering near the doorway, and he takes off.

<Zahara> "They should be retrieved shortly."

  • Cerin then concentrates, a 2ft sphere of blue jade appearing on the floor next to him. He touches it and it opens to reveal clothing, a couple of books, and the requisite bowl and pestle and mortar. He then seals the sphere and sends it off

After an agonizing half-hour, the servant returns, bearing every one of the requested items.

  • Zahara is thrown slightly off her anger by the jade container

<Zahara> "Hmm how clever.. a travelling workshop.."

  • Cerin smiles as he carefully strips the long stamen from the flowers grinding them then pouring the juice into the bowl. he then arranges the mirrors about the bowl, setting 3 petals on each. He chants briefly, a simple lighting ritual, then throws the remaining petals into the air as they all catch fire, the lights from the mirror cutting through the concealment, weakening it enough so that the underlying trail can be tracked

All of a sudden, the previously hidden essence flows from the intruder's Charms become visible clearly to Cerin where once they were obfuscated.

  • Cerin frowns as he studies the result of his ritual. He looks up the waterfall

<Cerin> "This thief of yours Zahara, he was no ordinary Exalt. He was not Chosen of the Sun, nor the Moon, nor the Darkness. Nor was he a child of the dragons"

<Zahara> "Surely no mortal could have done this."

<Cerin> "No, they were Exalted. The basic pattern is that of an Exalt, but they are none of the types I know"

<Cerin> are of none*

<Zahara> "Chosen of the Meteor, I suppose," she says witheringly.

<Cerin> "Though, I think I have hunted someone similar to this in the past..."

  • Zahara pauses, and her mouth opens, but nothing comes out for several seconds. "No... not the Meteor." she says slowly. "The Stars. Was the rock they stole not called Star-metal?"
  • Cerin will refrain from nodding to this. as he had no idea what was in the box. at all.
  • Zahara resumes her pacing, at an even higher speed. "Yes... Chosen of the Stars.. I have heard.. small things, little references.. they never feature in any tales, but they are known to be sneaky."
  • Markuran looks up at the stars. "There are Star-Chosen?"

<Zahara> "If the Sun and the Moon, why not the Stars?"

<Zahara> "Though their gods must be many.."

  • Markuran sifts through old tales from the tribes, trying to recall anything about star-gifted or star-born..something about the stars...

<Zahara> "If we must hunt the stars themselves, then so be it."

<Markuran> "I remember tales of star-blessed that walked among the Dragon-Blooded and guided their hands against the tribes."

<Zahara> "These... star-blessed, support the Realm, steal my meteor... They must die."

  • Cerin has a strange expression pass very breifly over his face "That would be a thrilling hunt" he looks up the waterfall again "Though we shall have to be swift if we wish to have any hope of catching this theif"
  • Markuran nods. "Lead the way."

Relovia steps into the central chamber just as the Solars turn to leave, and inquires as to what is occurring.

  • Birds-of-Trinity wanders in behind her, looking dishevelled and sweaty.

<Zahara> "None of your concern, girl."

<Birds Of Trinity> "I learned this new thing."

  • Zahara looks over at Birds, "So did we. What are you talking about?"
  • Cerin looks towards birds, slightly puzzled as he starts to try and remember the way out of this manse to the surface
  • Birds-of-Trinity zooms across the room so quickly she doesn't disturb the air. "I can run really fast!"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What did you learn?"

  • Zahara blinks. "We've been tracking a thief for hours, and you come in and.. RUN REALLY FAST?"

<Birds Of Trinity> "I see someone got up on the wrong side of the Manse this morning. We keep telling you to check the feng shui in your bebroom, but...thief?"

  • Markuran howls with laughter, pounding his fist against his knee, pointing at Zahara
  • Zahara throws a shattered bit of slate ate Birds
  • Zahara throws one at Mark for good measure

<Zahara> "You're all IMPOSSIBLE!"

  • Markuran ignores it, still convulsed with laughter."
  • Cerin laughs softly

<Birds Of Trinity> "So I guess something got stolen, and you're making some headway, or you'd be in an even blacker mood than you are." She takes a moment to send Relovia off somewhere.

  • Zahara just breathes heavily for several long moments, trying to contain herself. Blood drips from her palms where her fingernails have cut into her skin. "They took my meteor!" she says petulantly.

The Aspect of fire raises an eyebrow, then bows stiffly and walks away.

<Birds Of Trinity> "Oh, dear."

  • Markuran recovers enough to show Cerin the way out of the Labyrinth, still chuckling at Zahara.
  • Cerin casts his eyes about for the trail of blazing essence, hoping his ritual shattered the concealment somewhat even here

The pathway leads off into the nearby forest, now clearly visible to Cerin thanks to his clarifying ritual.

  • Zahara trails after the others, muttering things about feng shui and where he can stick it really really fast
  • Cerin sets off after it at a good pace, flowing over the ground as he tracks

The trail leads off through the forest, winding and turning frequently, as if to avoid pursuit.

  • Birds-of-Trinity follows Zahara, bouncing from treebranch to treebranch, sniggering, and otherwise acting like a small child who has some enormously funny private joke.

Several hours pass as the path leads deep into the woods, far from the Labyrinth. Finally, it crests a hill and heads down into a small valley.

  • Markuran ducks off the trail every so often, searching for traces of the Leafwalkers or one of them in person. Calling out in his deafen-the-next-city roar, Markuran summons any of the Leafwalkers that might be nearby to him, hoping one of them may have seen something

Though the Leafwalkers have walked these lands many times, they have nothing to offer on this matter.

  • Zahara grumbles along, finding solace in Tantamount's company. It has the good sense to be mostly quiet.
  • Cerin speaks very softly gesturing to the hill "There are exalts over that hill, 3 Children of the Dragons, and one of the same sort as the one we seek"

<Zahara> "Wanna bet they know we're coming?"

  • Markuran rejoins the others. "What makes you say that?"
  • Zahara glares

<Cerin> "They probably already do, yes"

<Cerin> "Yes, they do"

<Cerin> "There's something else there too...a powerful artifact of some kind"

<Zahara> "Well, let's go then. We'll want prisoners this time."

<Zahara> "Wonderful."

<Zahara> "Any idea what it does?"

  • Cerin gives a brief shake of his head and then "One is coming, one of the 'blooded. I shall make myself scarce" and with that he seems to melt into the forest
  • Zahara reaches with her mind, summoning her weapons forth from the void
  • Markuran glances at Zahara "Worry about your prizes later. There is a battle to win now."

<Zahara> "Then go win it."

From the top of the hill, a gruff voice calls out "Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, my master Seven Leaping Herons wishes to speak with you! I shall pledge by the power of the Eclipse Caste that no harm shall befall you here, if you lower your weapons for now."

There is a pause, then "He will gladly discuss the return of your... rock if you choose to speak with him."

  • Markuran glances at Zahara. "We will put away our weapons, but your master must come to us."

The voice responds, "It is agreed. He shall join you momentarily."

<Zahara> "We will agree, if you will also agree to wear these until the talk comes to an agreeable conclusion." She lifts a thin ring of five-colored jade from her belt, where it lies near two other jade ones, and a single gold one.

  • Zahara gestures, and her weapons float down from the air to lie quiescent on the ground.

There is a lengthy pause. Then the voice says "....it is... agreed. I shall do so."

<Markuran> "And your companions?"

"They may remain behind, or accompany us down and wear the collars. It is up to you."

<Markuran> "Bring them."

After a moment, a party of four begins to walk down the hill towards the Solars.

The three Terrestrials -- a gruff, portly man, clearly a Fire Aspect; a thin, almost emaciated woman in long, flowing, dark, deep blue robes; and a spiky haired young man, almost a boy, with the skin tone that indicates a Chosen of Wood -- stand around their master, Seven Leaping Herons.

  • Zahara 's expression has turned from sour to rather gleeful.
  • Markuran dismisses the Dragon-Blooded with a glance, studying the Star-born intently, waiting for Zahara to apply the oath and the collars.

Herons is a sharp-featured man, who looks as though he has seen many, many years. His jet-black hair is sprinkled with white along the sides of his head, as if to contribute to this impression. He wears loose robes of emerald green, concealing his form. Upon his brow sits a thin, almost invisible circlet made of the very same metal Zahara discovered in the meteor.

  • Zahara opens the collars with a click, then sets each ring upon the neck of a Dragon-blood, and seals it. The rings become seamless as they attune themselves to their slaves. "You must each swear to visit no harm upon us, so long as we remain unarmed." she holds out her hand for all to touch to seal the Oaths when spoken.

<Herons> "I am disappointed that you asked for me to join you here; I had prepared an impressive meal for you." Herons laughs. "I swear this oath," he says, holding his hand out to touch Zahara's.

<Markuran> "We might join you, after we talk."

  • Zahara seals the pact with the gods, and an echo of the oath shimmers in the air before disappearing from sight

<Herons> "Mmmm, how delightful." He looks over the circle with interest. "Though my servant spoke for me, I wish to introduce myself properly. I am Seven Leaping Herons, Chosen of Secrets."

<Markuran> "And thief."

Herons looks at Marku. "That is quite a claim, coming from one who snatched property rightfully belonging to another simply because it happened to fall to the ground."

<Markuran> "It can hardly be yours if it falls from the sky as a steaming rock."

<Herons> "One might offer that it could hardly be yours if someone can walk into your home and simply take it. But no matter, that is not the matter I wish to discuss."

  • Zahara idly hopes the creature will spend some Essence so that she can see how it works.

<Zahara> "One might call trespassing a crime as well as stealing."

<Herons> "Perhaps," he says, and makes a slightly dismissive gesture with his hand.

<Herons> "I came here today because I knew you would follow the... 'thief' here, today. I wish to speak to you about the beings you fought, several months ago."

<Zahara> "You could have considered merely sending a messenger." she says crossly. "This is not the way to make friends."

<Herons> "This is convenient, for I have no interest in befriending you, merely exchanging information."

<Herons> "I understand," he continues, "that you destroyed three spirits who slew the members of a nearby town. Is that correct?"

  • Markuran nods, annoyed. "You stole our fallen star to ask us about three petulent gods?"

Herons glares briefly at Marku, then, pointedly ignoring him, addresses his next statement to Zahara. "For what reason did those spirits attack that town?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity tumbles out of a tree to explain.

<Birds Of Trinity> "Their protection racket decided they were charging too much."

<Birds Of Trinity> "So they killed them, so we killed them."

  • Zahara is highly annoyed at this presumption upon their time and thievery. She's about to answer, but Birds does so for her, and so she maintains her icy glare instead.

<Herons> "And did they have any servants?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity waits for Zahara to field this one. The Eclipse is better at this stuff anyway.
  • Zahara lofts a brow, "Yes."

<Herons> "What were they like?"

<Zahara> "Dead."

<Herons> Herons raises an eyebrow. "Before that."

<Zahara> "Alive."

<Zahara> "I fail to see why I should tell you everything you want, simply because we hunted you here."

Herons looks slyly at Zahara. "I do not serve the Maiden of Secrets idly, Zahara. I expect I can provide you with valuable information as well."

<Zahara> "Such as?"

<Herons> "What do you wish to know?"

<Zahara> "I wish to know your magic. I wish to know what you can do, and how."

<alsoquin> "An interesting and daring proposition, Zahara. Would you learn from me? I shall teach you what you wish to know, if you answer my questions on this matter."

  • Zahara nods once, "I will tell you what I know, then."

<Herons> "Thank you, Chosen of the Sun." Herons bows slightly to the Solars.

<Herons> "So. Tell me of the servants of these spirits."

  • Zahara relates the story in detail, stressing the part where the Gods attacked them first. She describes the three masters, as well as the servants and their various weapons, and apparent skills.

<Herons> "Hmmm. That is a most interesting tale. I believe this has fully addressed my queries."

<Zahara> "Excellent. And now the matter of my payment, and of course, our meteor?"

<Herons> "Ah, yes. The meteor is behind you; you may take it when you leave." He gestures idly.

<Herons> "How do you view the world, Zahara?" He suddenly stares intently at the Eclipse. "Through what lens do you see your life? What, as they say, is your purpose?"

  • Zahara ponders this for what seems to be a long time, as she considers her goals, "My purpose in this life is to harness or destroy that which is not of Creation. To bend Demons to my will, and use the powers of Chaos to create. I leave behind me a Creation that is better than it was when I found it."

<Herons> "Stare deeply into my eyes, Solar. See the world through them."

Herons moves closer to Zahara, placing his hands upon her shoulders and staring intently into her eyes.

  • Markuran has managed to fall asleep during these proceedings. At some point during Zahara's narrative, Markuran's low mutterings of annoyance became soft snores, his head tipped forward onto his chest.
  • Zahara looks boldly into the eyes of the Chosen of the Stars, seeking knowledge and power in their depths

For a moment that seems like an eternity, Zahara sees all of Creation through a new lens -- the every waft of extraworldly Essence in stark relief, the clockwork motion of the world as fate is woven and rewoven anew, the qualities that only those beings from beyond Creation can possess.

Then, it is over. Zahara's sight sees only the woods and those standing amongst them; her soul, however, is not quite the same.

  • Zahara shivers, as a knowledge deeper than any she's known before shines on her soul

<Herons> "That, Zahara, is my magic. May it serve you well."

  • Markuran lets out a loud, grunting snore.

<Herons> Heron gestures to his servants. "May they be freed now? I wish to depart."

  • Markuran opens his eyes sleepily. "Is the story over?"
  • Markuran stretches. "You won't offer dinner anymore? Pity. I could eat an ox." another yawn and Mark regains his feet, looking as alert as if he had never closed his eyes
  • Zahara blinks, stepping back and looking around oddly, then she laughs, "Yes. Marku." She almost agrees to both, but then, "But what of the stone?"

<Herons> "My table is still set. You may feel free to dine at your leisure. As for the stone, as I mentioned: it sits behind you. You may take it if you wish."

  • Zahara shakes her head a little, "Oh, of course. You'll forgive me, I was.. distracted."
  • Birds-of-Trinity snickers.

<Herons> "Indeed."

  • Zahara walks to each of the dragonblooded and releases them from their bondage, collecting the collars back onto the loops on her belt.

<Markuran> "You look strange, Zahara. You need to stop smoking all those plants."

  • Markuran yawns again and wanders off toward the supposedly well-set table.
  • Zahara , in marked contrast to her earlier state, just laughs.

Herons calls his servants to him, and begins to depart. "Farewell, Solars. May our next meeting be as productive."

  • Cerin chooses this moment to slip out of the forest, behind the 3 solars

<Zahara> "Next time, a messenger would be nice."

<Herons> "I shall keep that in mind."

  • Zahara smiles. "Until then."

The Sidereal and his three companions stride over the hill. There is an unearthly sound and a flash of light, then nothing.

Tags: (:tags Flowers, Sidereals, Herons, Meteorite, Listran, Gates:)

< Interior Decorating | Sol Invictus Logs | Meeting With Lai >