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  • Cerin has been stalking the creature that is now just infront of the two solars in clearing for several hours now. Unlike the typical so-called devil tigers of larjyn, this one apparently did have devil in it's ancestry, or demon anyway. It had grown to a massive size, with a body of shadow and stripes of crimson flame. Its fangs simply darkness, and its eyes burned with a cruel fire. It was currently feeding on a yeddim.
  • Markuran trails several paces behind Cerin, trusting the other man to lead the way with his superior senses. Despite having been a great hunter himself, Marku recognizes that Cerin far surpasses him in such matters now.
  • Cerin creeps still closer, until he is standing right on the edge of the clearing, surveying the beast. He makes a gesture and the golden bow appears in his hand. His body flickers slightly as he considers his first move.
  • Cerin decides to step on a twig.

The creature's head whips upwards quickly, leaving trails of smoke behind it. Without hesitating, it pounces at Cerin.

  • Markuran steps in front of the smaller man, welcoming the demon-tiger with open arms and a hearty laugh. As the creature throws itself into Marku's embrace, the big man wraps his arms around its shadow-flame body and hugs it until the darkness screams
  • Cerin is moving even as it pounces, his body flowing through the forest, raising up a cloud of leaves. As he flows away he notches his bow with motes of light, watching the man and the beast wrestle.

The beast bucks and fights, but Marku manages to close his beefy arms around it, giving no quarter even as its skin singes his flesh and its claws rake at his skin.

<Markuran> "You might be strong, demon-tiger, but nothing's stronger then me! And we need you dead to keep millions alive." Marku grunts as the beast twists in his grasp, wrestling it to the ground and slamming his face into its soft muzzle, setting free a horrid scream and a wave of burning black blood

  • Cerin carefully knocks two arrows, releasing them for the two pools of fire that make up its eyes.

The beast snarls as the arrows plunge into its eyes, sending huge gouts of flame and smoke shooting out upon impact.

  • Markuran pulls the tiger closer to his chest, muscles flexing along his arms and back as he twists, trying to contain its pained writhings. Grabbing the arrows in his teeth, Mark once again slams his head into that of the tiger, driving the firey shafts deeper even as his weight comes full on top of the monster, crushing it further

The creature roars mightily as Markuran's arms break its fiery ribs. It begins to bleed brilliant orange, flaming blood.

  • Cerin draws back two motes of light this time. The motes fly toward the maw, shattering its two perfect black fangs as they plunge down its throat.

Cerin's arrows strike the tiger deep within its mouth and it howls a terrible scream, as its fires dim and go out. It falls from Marku's blistering arms as a brittle shell of ashes.

  • Markuran hisses his breath out, fanning his burned arms and glowering at the blackened skin of his stomach and chest "That damned thing. Grala better be helpful after that."

<Cerin> "I am sure she will be. It was an impressive beast." He begins the dedication to grala, murmuring his request upon the essences of the world. He would like Audience with Grala, for a matter of great import and urgency.

Within moments, Cerin hears the howl on the wind that signals the coming of Grala's hounds.

  • Cerin awaits their arrival. As they burst into the clearing, he speaks "Welcome Hounds Of Grala, I wish to speak with your Mistress, on a matter of some urgency."

The spirit dogs sniff Cerin for a moment, then howl their assent to the wind.

<Cerin> "Thank you, Hounds of Grala."

A few moments later, the winds pick up to a stiff breeze, and from above, the beautiful yet terrifying visage of Grala the Hunter flies down, alighting on a nearby tree.

<Grala?> "You summon me, Cerin the Wolf."

<Cerin> "Greetings Grala, Mistress Of The Eternal Hunt, this kill is a gift to you from myself and my companion, Markuran the Bear. Please may we travel somewhere more private to talk?"

  • Grala unceremoniously tears a hole in the air itself with one wicked claw and nods to Cerin. "Step through."
  • Cerin steps through.
  • Markuran bows as much as his burned skin allows without undue protesting and follows Cerin

The two find themselves within a dark chamber, lit only by a single torch burning upon one wall. The skulls of numerous animals -- and humans -- line the walls; the floor is cool earth. Grala steps over to a wooden perch which she alights upon easily. There is clearly no intended seating for the Solars.

<Grala?> "What do you wish of me?"

<Cerin> "Despite your advice, I have continued to be involved in the lily, because they will not leave the sunlands alone. And a plan of their's has come to light. I ask for your help in thwarting this plan."

  • Grala looks simultaneously furious and terrified. She looks in every direction, as if checking for invisible spies. "You are a fool, Cerin, to ignore my advice so!"

<Markuran> "We can't help but deal with them. They will rain ten million of their false Exalted upon Creation if we do not stop them!"

<Cerin> "It was not my intention to continue to deal with them, but they do not seem like they will leave us alone. They have infiltrated our armies, set up listening posts in our boarders."

  • Grala turns to Markuran. "And Cerin could once have been safe from that onslaught. My advice stands."

<Grala?> "Why do you come to me about this?"

<Cerin> "My fate is tied to that of Zahara, and hers to the sunlands. I cannot ignore this."

<Markuran> "You would have him be a coward? Join those who would destroy all that Creation is and can be for their own selfish greed, just to save his skin?"

  • Grala settles back on her perch, her eyes blazing. "You know little, foolish barbarian."
  • Cerin holds up a hand to still M Arku?.

<Markuran> "I know much about what makes men good, Goddess! And it is not skins on their walls!"

<Grala?> "Silence! You spend your life with closed eyes! I shall hear no more from you."

<Cerin> "Marku! Please, be queit."

  • Markuran growls deep in his throat, one burned arm moving toward the sack he's taken to carrying across one shoulder

<Cerin> "Markuran. If you attempt to harm Grala, I will knock you out and carry you back to the sunlands after I hav finished talking with Grala. She has been my friend and ally for longer than you."

<Grala?> "Cerin, what do you wish of me?"

<Cerin> "I wish for you essence, and that of your hounds. We are but four solars against ten million exalts and their gods. We seek to level the field somewhat with exalts of our own godly allies."

  • Grala crumples a little. "I... cannot do that, Cerin."

<Cerin> "Why not?" he asks curious

<Grala?> "I cannot. I simply cannot. That is all you must know."

<Cerin> "Grala, I have hunted for you for many years. The life of the woman I love and my own life are going to be at risk. Such an army has not been seen in Creation since the end of the war. I would hope you would at least tell me the reason why you cannot do such a thing to help me."

  • Grala gazes unhappily at Cerin. "I cannot betray so great a trust to tell you, Cerin."
  • Markuran looks at the goddess with a frown. "Your trust will be equally betrayed if you allow Cerin and his lover to die. Is he not one of your most powerful worshippers, do the sacrifces he make to you not give you great power? How many of the Sunlanders and those we gather to us now offer you power and prayer because of his actions?"
  • Grala seems taken aback. "Cerin, the.... I am in a precarious position with regards to you. Already it is risky for me to speak to you today."

<Cerin> "You cannot because you have already contributed some of your soul?"

<Grala?> "No. Some of us have been able to hold back our aid, by that much. But I would be seen as the worst traitor to my kind, were it known that I helped you."

<Markuran> "Then have all the Gods forgotten who they once were? In the First Age, there was an order to the world and now all the gods will destroy what shreds of that remain and take what they can for themselves, or sit by and watch others destroy the order so they can prosper?"

<Markuran> "The fallen times of this Age are not the place for such things! Those who would save the world must stand together and fight against the evils who serve only themselves. How are we to fight the Deathlords, the Yozi? The Fae and all the other threats if even the gods themselves turn against those who give them power?"

  • Grala "...do you not remember what your kind did to us?"

<Cerin> "We remember little of the time before. I have but small scraps of who I once was and a diary that I cannot read. There are few books that survived the ages either. Tell us."

<Markuran> "So the gods will trade revenge against those millenia dead for the life of Creation? Do they think the Great Gods will not take notice when their servants are killed en masse?"

  • Grala "Their time grows short. They must strike now, while the geas remains inactive. Otherwise we shall all be plunged again into slavery."

<Cerin> "Into slavery?"

<Grala?> "Yes, as we once were."

<Cerin> "Enslaved to who? The Primordials? Or to some other agency? To Us?"

  • Grala nods solemnly.

<Markuran> "Again, we return to the issue. You will stand aside and sacrifice the hope of the mortal world to prevent something that may never happen."

<Markuran> "Will the gods and their new Exalted, those with the most powerful and numerous, not simply enslave you again? Will the new Exalted not simply take our places? Will the Deathlords go silently into the Void and the fae run in terror, will Creation be at peace once we are gone?"

  • Grala looks at Markuran closely now. "Can you win?"

<Markuran> "If we couldn't, they would not fear us."

  • Grala looks around for invisible spies again. "There are... several others, who do not wish to see this come about."

<Markuran> "Will they step up? Will you?"

<Grala?> "I will... speak to them. If you can arrange for us to locate ourselves outside the easy reach of our fellows."

<Markuran> "We can find a place like that."

<Grala?> "Then I shall speak to these others."

<Cerin> "Thank you Grala."

  • Grala nods uneasily.
  • Grala stands suddenly. "Now go. Quickly."
  • Cerin nods and bows, before turning and departing.

(:tags Grala:)

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