<Zahara> "So, what did it feel like?"
<Kai> "Feel like? Uhm... Honestly, my memory of those few minutes is a little blurry, but I think it was something like... You know that warm, a little unpleasant feeling you get when you're really embarassed (okay, maybe YOU don't)? It was kinda like that, but a thousand times more intense."
<Zahara> "Hmmm it made you feel... really really embarrased? You sure it wasn't more like a flood of power that filled you and made you feel whole?"
<Kai> "Not embarrassed, but it was a similar sensation, of heat and intensity. That's the easiest thing to equate it to. A flood, yes, but power wasn't really what I was feeling at the moment, all things considered."
<Zahara> "You were scared, I imagine. How long did it take you to realize that being an 'Anathema' didn't make you a demon?"
<Zahara> "All the demons I've summoned seem to know what they are. But the Cult of the Illuminated differs on what they think we are, and what we actually are."
<Zahara> "It helps that anyone who sees your anima screams and runs away."
<Zahara> "Well, at least before we became powerful enough to carve out our own empire."
<Zahara> "Speaking of our empire, we really need to figure out how to deal with the ten million exalts about to wage war on it.
<Zahara> "Not to mention the Fair Folk, the Dynasts, and the Deathlord's army."
<Markuran> "Obviously, we must remove the highest of the gods, disband the rest and convert their Exalted to our cause. The Realm likewise."
<Markuran> "Once we accomplish those tasks, the Fair Folk and Deathlords will not pose a serious problem...unless something unforeseen happens."
<Zahara> "Mmhmm. Yes, both sound equally likely. There seem to be an awful LOT of lesser Gods involved in the heresy. And the Realm is quite well-equipped."
<Markuran> "I'm sure we could do that too, Birds."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Then we won't have to worry about those pesky pixies, and the battlefield stench will be pleasantly masked."
<Zahara> ::Reaver squawks, flies up and starts pissing something that looks like molten iron. Smart boy.::
<Zahara> "Well, there's half your plan."
<Markuran> "There are a number of important nations ruled by lesser gods. It might be worth our time to investigate them and deal with the problem if their gods have turned against us,"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, Reaver, you have made yourself a new friend."
<Zahara> "What time is that exactly? Even with all the precautions I took, and the wards and deathtraps I set up, we leave for a few days, and the Manse is invaded, the Leafwalkers nearly destroyed."
<Zahara> ::Reaver lands on Marku's head and grabs tufts of his hair with each of his little claws::
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Creation is being run over by a herd of angry bulls, Marku. Reaver just reminded us that we don't need to do anything but point them at each other. They are not without horns."
<Zahara> ::Reaver takes some hair with him, chirping and wriggling in Marku's hands::
<Zahara> "I suggested the pointing of the armies at eachother, however that works better if the two armies are trying to destroy eachother in addition to us.
<Markuran> "Currently that is not the case."
Reaver squaks metalically!
<Zahara> "To a tree, maybe." she pets Reaver consolingly.
<Zahara> "I don't believe they get any more convincing than they already are. However they are already incredibly convincing, and with the proper impetus they spread like wildfire."
<Zahara> "Why, have you one in particular you'd like to live?"
<Markuran> "I will visit the Realm soon to begin turning them against the Godbound and see about turning some to our side."
<Zahara> "Your words will be your sword and shield, I assume."
<Markuran> "Do we know who has empowered the majority of the Godbound in the army? Or the strongest?"
<Zahara> "Meanwhile, we really need to collect more of these ingredients, since we are lacking godbound of our own."
<Zahara> "Well the most annoying are those purple ones with the knives."
<Markuran> "I will speak with Selonis about the peach and see if he can tell me of the purple-knife deity."
<Zahara> "I imagine that to get to him, we'd have to go through his servants... which could be good. I'd rather have them all gone, they were actually quite good at fighting, for Godbound."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We also need to retrieve some gold from the heart of...Auto...something."
Reaver fiddles with a knife on the table.
<Zahara> "I bet Berengiere could weave the cry of ten thousand for us."
<Zahara> "This list is long, and the time grows short. Lets pick something, and DO it."
<Markuran> "I am off to see Selonis then.
Marku and the others meet Selonis in the Isles of Glass, as they have done before. Today they return to the isle of cascading waterfalls. The Celestial Lion stands above a particularly large pool of water, gazing deeply into it; he turns to occasionaly stir it gently with one paw.
As Marku looks into the water, he sees what Selonis has been looking at -- images of the invaders striking against their first targets in their surprise assault.
He sees Godtouched soldiers burning and wilting trees as they attack a treetop settlement deep within the Haltan forest.
Then, Selonis taps the water with one gigantic paw, and it shifts -- to a city in the distant north, besieged by warriors; to boats of brilliant blue metal and strange wood with sorcerers raining down spells upon a small island; to a clash between Godtouched and a vast barbarian horde in the deep south.
<Markuran> "How? And at what cost to yourself?"
<Selonis?> "I cannot acquire a peach myself. My presence in the divine orchards would be instantly detected, and my punishment death. I suspect he could acquire one, however." The Lion gestures towards Cerin. "I have a thought as to how I could bring him close enough to do so."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I like this plan," she comments, grinning. "Here, take your flowers before you climb in."
<Zahara> "He's quite tasty isn't he?"
<Markuran> "You'll have to fix that expression, my brother or it will be a dead giveaway."
<Kai> "I don't know, the clowns came on in the other ring..."
An irritated and muffled response sounds from deep within Selonis.
<Markuran> "Selonis, open your mouth again, I can't hear him."
A little later, the Solars emerge into the city of Juche.
When Cerin journeyed here recently, it was a rugged but pleasant city.
Now, that pleasantness is much less evident, as guerilla warfare appears to have broken out in the streets.
<Markuran> "Are you going off on your own to spread vicious rumors, Zahara?
The gate opens up into a room in a small, empty building that looks out into an decaying balcony. Merely poking their heads out is enough to reveal that groups of Dragon-Bloods are sniping at one another in the streets.
<Zahara> "But Marku, whatever you do, don't let them know THIS is where we came from.
<Zahara> "The less people that know about this gate, the better."
<Markuran> "I know that, Zahara."
<Zahara> "Well you do have a habit of going to the nearest balcony to shout out your good word."
<Markuran> "I'll pick somewhere further away. Besides, there's no one here to listen."
<Zahara> "Give me thirty minutes. I'll set the stage for you."
There's still some significant fighting going on within the streets; small groups of Dragon-Bloods launch elemental bolts and arrows at each other from convenient buildings.
<Zahara> "That's not what I heard." she says, pulling her cloak around herself more tightly, in fear. She looks over her shoulder nervously, and whispers, "I heard there are evil Gods about, here to steal the throne from even the most powerful Dynast, if we don't work together. And it's not even the Anathema.." she casts a guilty look over her shoulder at the Dynasts, and whispers. "I heard.. the Anathema are trying to STOP it."
<Zahara> "I heard they're trying to take over all of Creation, not just the Realm... the Realm can only stop the evil if they stop fighting eachother."
<Zahara> "Don't tell anyone.." she says, and hurries off to another stall, losing herself in the crowd.
<Markuran> "Disguise? How did the rumor-mongering go?"
<Zahara> "Ah, what is this?"
<Zahara> "Oh, I think it went quite well. Some of the people I was telling, had already heard it. I even impressed myself." she notes the application of the powder, and begins to cover her skin carefully.
<Zahara> "The market was quite busy."
<Markuran> "That will do for my speech, then. Let's go."
<Zahara> "One at a time, so we don't attract attention," she reminds, then allows Marku to go first.
The market is busy in the fashion of a war-torn city -- people come in and purchase quickly, then rush back to their homes....
<Markuran> As Marku speaks his anima slowly rises around him, gaining power as his words gain intensity. The red jade powder and paint start to puff to crimson smoke, revealing the golden glory of the Solar Warlord under his disguise.
The people of the market have various reactions -- mute incomprehension, fear, anger. P
<Markuran> "Long has the Empress brought you prosperity and power. But now she is gone and your rulers fight eachother and waste your land. Your lords the Dragon-Blooded destroy homes and kill eachother, wasting the vital resources of the Realm. All those in the Realm, mortal and Exalted alike must put aside this struggle for a more deadly issue has arisen."
Those present begin to move about rapidly.
<Markuran> "Not but a few days ago did the visions of the Red Lily appear in the sky. I know many of you may have been tempted by their offers of power, of elevation to Exalted. But know that to accept is not to be Exalted. It is to be a slave. A godbound wretch lower then anything you already may be."
<Markuran> "I offer a return to the true order. An order that has slept for centuries. The Second Age is ending and the Third rises soon. Mortal and Terrestrial alike may enter the Third Age under our hospitality. We rule the Sunlands, the great empire in the East of Creation. Though long since we could have turned our might on the Realm and done grevious harm, we have not."
<Markuran> "While corrupt leaders have traded with the enemy of all Creation, we recognize that the majority of the Realm would rather serve the good of Creation and the Realm itself. Join with us and do so. Make the Realm great again and bring the Third Age into being with yourselves at the front lines of the battle against the slaves who would chain you beside themselves."
No later does Marku finish his final word than something massive and fiery crashes from the sky into the statue he bestrides, shattering it into thousands of pieces. Within seconds, others crash into the market around them, shattering stalls and killing mortals dead as they do.
As everyone in the square reacts to the sudden chaos, the flaming rocks that fell to earth begin to unfold. Each is actually a creature of fire and earth, lanky but sharp, with claws as long as a man's head, and serrated wings; as they rise up, the flames around them begin to coalesce into solid shapes, suits of infernal armor and vicious, multi-bladed weapons.
Atop the stump of the twice-destroyed statue alights another beast:
a fifteen-foot tall woman, with backwards legs and arms, and the teeth of a predator; her skin is deep blue, her aquamarine hair flows up into the air of its own volition and curls into elaborate geometrical shapes. Her hands end in red talons and a wind buffers a cloud of dead, decayed leaves around her body.
Zahara stares for a moment and recognizes the woman for who she is -- Reshina, The Conclusion of Wisdom, Soul of Cecelyne.
As Kai begins to charge the demon, she spits out black ichor and shouts in a shrill voice "I have come for Daybreaker. Give it to me, human!"
<Kai> "Oh, I'll give it to you!"
As Kai's blows fail to pierce her windy shield, the demon swiftly shoots out a taloned hand and slashes repeatedly across Kai's chest.
The crystal wind swirls around Kai as Reshina's talons fly towards her soft underbelly, and form a massive wall of wind that neatly deflects the sound of Zahara's bell.
The daiklave almost hums to itself, so ready is it to fight.
Crawling up from the shattered ground, the beasts of fire raise up their fiery weapons and bear down upon the Solars, hollering and whooping in a scratchy, gutteral tongue. Markuran and Zahara each find themselves confronted with two, while another two begin to climb up the side of the tower to Birds' position, searing the stone as they go.
The creature raises a blade of fire and swings it violenty; it reshapes itself and whips around its back, entangling Zahara's ice sword; the beast then steps behind it and allows Zahara's daiklave blow to crash harmlessly into her own weapon.
Marku pummels the beasts attacking him furiously, though their rapid movements evade most of his blows.
<Zahara> "You creatures are really quite annoying." she scowls.
One of the beasts shatters thoroughly under Marku's blows, pieces of flaming earth scattering about.
Tags: (:tags Exaltation, Selonis, Exaltation Checklist, Peaches of Immortality, Juche, Realm, Civil War, Hundredfold, Marax-do, Reshina, Daybreaker :)