27 Descending Air.
Only a scant few days remain before the massive armies of the Red Lily descend upon Creation.
As the brilliant sun rises above Creation, the Solars begin gearing up for an expedition to recover some of the numerous components necessary to create their own Exalts -- and hopefully stop the oncoming tide.
Nagging at the back of Zahara's mind is Rovash's warning that Tevezst, the fae who slew her family, will soon attack from the east....
<Zahara> "I propose we go together into the Deep Wyld. I imagine there will be many fae there who will take issue with our intrusion on their domain. If it can be called a domain."
<Markuran> "I had thought we were sending Serenal to collect the Wyld Essence?"
<Zahara> "We spoke of that, but I am unsure whether that would be wise. There are Fae, also, who wish our empire harm."
- Serenal snorts.
- Zahara looks sideways at Serenal. "You have a comment?"
<Serenal?> "Markuran had not thought to ask me before deciding I would perform his errand."
<Markuran> "I asked you back in your city if you would consider it, Serenal."
<strike those two lines?>
<Serenal?> "....no, nothing."
- Serenal shifts about a little.
<Serenal?> "It is dangerous to journey into the Deep Wyld."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Danger? Ha! We laugh in the face of danger! Hahaha!"
<Cerin> "That is why we travel together."
<Zahara> "I have heard tales that the Chosen of Luna do not fear the warping effects of the Wyld." She looks at Birds, "Yes. Ha ha."
- Birds thinks about this for a bit.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It is easier to laugh at, you know, when we have our big sticks around." She vaguely nods at the other four.
<Serenal?> "We do not. I am speaking largely of the danger to you."
- Serenal looks about the room for a moment.
<Zahara> "I can take care of that."
<Serenal?> "Good. Shall we begin our journey?"
<Zahara> "Serenal, have you heard of the Fae, Tevezst?"
- Serenal looks puzzled for a moment. "It does not sound immediately familiar. Do you know more of him?"
- Zahara describes the area in which she last met the Fae
- Serenal seems to remember something when Zahara describes the black dagger. "That sounds familiar. Our warriors have encountered such a creature, I believe."
<Serenal?> "Why do you ask of him?"
<Zahara> "Well, I thought we could kill two birds with one stone - no offense, Birds - and pay him a visit before he pays us one."
<Markuran> "Also he attacked Zahara as a young child and stole her heart."
<Markuran> "Cerin and I have sworn to return it to her breast."
<Zahara> "Well, there's that."
- Kai almost says something snide, but does not.
<Zahara> "That is not the primary objective, however."
- Serenal nods. "I understand. I believe I can lead us to the proper place to enter the Wyld, to hunt down this Tevezst."
<Zahara> "He will not be alone."
<Markuran> "We are aware, Zahara. Let us begin our quest to return the heart that was stolen from you!"
- Zahara sighs, "Or we could just kill the bastard."
<Serenal?> "I have fought the Wyld creatures before. I do not fear to fight them again."
Some hours later, the six Exalts stand in a thick eastern forest. The trees grow up almost utterly normally... excepting the fine tracery of gold and red on the leaves, which perfectly spells out the names of thirty-seven long dead ladies.
- Serenal picks one of the leaves and examines it carefully, sniffing it and then discarding it. "Such strange things."
<Zahara> "Thirty-seven of them."
- Markuran nods agreement. Idly, the big man looks for unique foodstuffs that are likely not to kill him.
- Birds quietly admires the scene.
<Serenal?> "Yes. It's something of an odd number."
- Kai plucks a leaf, studies it curiously, and slips it into a pocket.
- Cerin nods, luxuriating a little in the riot of colour and essence.
<Zahara> "Can any of you, aside from Serenal, protect yourselves from the Wyld?"
<Kai> "Not unless you can stab it..."
<Cerin> "No, my love."
- Markuran shakes his head.
- Serenal chuckles quietly.
<Zahara> "Hmmm I see. Then it is a good thing I have been improving my Mastery of the Wyld due to a long-ago incident." She calls her Essence into her palms, where they glow with barely-contained power. Exerting her will over it, she blows a long breath, and the essence takes on the form of petals and leaves, swirling through the air and settling down to merge with their skin, four on each of her unprotected companions, four on herself.
- Markuran prods at the leaves on his chest
<Serenal?> Each of the other Solars feels a slight shift in energy as the petals settle upon them -- a slight edge is taken off the air.
<Zahara> "The form differs, depending on which Direction you are in." she offers, seeing Marku's reaction.
- Cerin studies the leaves as they swirl in, marvelling at the precision and order of the essence within.
<Serenal?> "Have you all prepared?"
<Zahara> "Have you further suggestions for preparation?
<Markuran> "No, let's go."
<Serenal?> "Other than gaining the blessing of the divine moon, no."
- Serenal surveys the Solars
<Serenal?> After a few moments, she begins to walk eastward, into the jungle.
- Zahara calls her weapons to hover near her protectively, then follows, to Serenal's right.
- Kai draws, and follows.
- Birds calls up her Essence sword and follows.
- Cerin follows to the left of Zahara, senses extended
- Markuran walks behind Serenal, still peering around for interesting sources of food.
As the Solars advance, the trees begin to shift and change in unusual ways. The patterns grow more visible, then begin to change, turning into abstract drawings of fish or elaborate lists of monetary figures. The trees' bark shifts to stone, to opal, to meat. The air begins to smell unusually of cloves and babies.
- Markuran attempts to uproot an opal sappling and stick it in a rough bag slung over his shoulder which also contains the vessel for Deep Wyld Essence.
<Serenal?> The tree moans unhappily as Markuran struggles with it, and strange green liquid begins to flow out of it in numerous locations.
- Markuran ignores this, intent on getting himself an opal tree
<Zahara> "Marku, why don't you pick one up on the way out? No sense dragging it through the Wyld. It looks a bit heavy."
- Serenal leans over and examines the tree Marku has felled. "Odd. It smells like a baby."
<Zahara> "Well we should leave before it shits."
<Markuran> "It might not be here on the way out." Tugtugtug
- Serenal rolls her eyes at Markuran.
- Cerin sighs
<Kai> "Marku. It's a tree."
<Zahara> "I suggest we carry on. Marku can follow if he is able." she strikes out in a forward direction.
As they journey further, the area becomes even stranger -- birds made of human ears flap between trees that seem to be simultaneously made of water and fire. The air starts to get thick and congealy, while the ground becomes light and difficult to walk upon.
- Birds quietly sings the teaching song she learned from Zahara, which children use to practise multiplication.
- Kai picks up the tune.
<Serenal?> "What precisely does the list say again, Zahara?"
- Markuran trots after the rest, stuffing the moaning tree in the bag.
- Zahara shrugs slightly then joins in, pausing to answer Serenal. "Essence of the Deep Wyld. One small jar. Six times six, what a pretty fix, six times six is thirty-six! La la dee dah, now the next."
<Serenal?> "We will have to journey further, then."
A strange, ethereal music begins to waft through the air.
- Zahara pauses to seek the source, aurally, of the new music
- Markuran looks around in wonder. "That's a pretty song.."
Cerin's ears prick up. Clearly it seems to be emenating from the northeast.
<Zahara> "Yes...wish I knew it, I'd sing along."
- Kai attempts to follow the new tune.
<Cerin> "It's coming from over there, if you wish to see what is making it." he points, to the NE.
<Zahara> "Ah, I think we better stick to our mission. We'll never come back if we go haring off after every pretty thing."
The music grows louder, and yet, somehow, even more appealing.
<Zahara> "Come on, My protection only extends to physical effects." she urges. "We have things to do."
<Cerin> "We do."
<Markuran> "Yes...mustn't stop for *every* pretty thing."
<Zahara> "Especially not more TREES."
<Markuran> "What's wrong with stopping for trees?"
<Zahara> "They're TREES."
<Kai> "We can only carry so many trees..."
<Markuran> "I can carry as many trees as I want to."
<Kai> "I'm not sure that's true. Unless you don't want to carry more trees than you can."
- Kai blinks. "I'm going to stop talking about this now."
<Markuran> "Why would I?"
- Markuran smirks
- Cerin just shakes his head and walks on
<Zahara> "How many CAN you carry?"
<Markuran> "It depends on how much they weigh."
<Zahara> "Well start picking opal baby trees.
<Markuran> "Now they're flaming water trees."
- Zahara shrugs "Pick them anyway."
As the Solars begin to advance on, something odd happens -- the strange music grows louder, as if they are moving toward it.
- Zahara picks up the tune, humming it
Zahara finds the tune oddly familiar.
<Zahara> "Hmmm I think I know this tune."
- Markuran starts singing in a loud bass, an incomprehensible barbarian song that Marku forces into the rhythm and time of the ethereal, Wyld music.
- Birds strokes Smoking Mirror nervously.
- Kai attempts to sing over Marku, putting an old folk song into the tune.
- Markuran glowers at Kai and breathes deeply, overpowering her voice with his larger lungs and years upon years of training at being loud and singing over other equally loud men.
- Kai does her best to keep up with Marku's performance.
- Zahara mashes the multiplication song into the ethereal tune.
As the Solars continue to sing and walk forward, they notice something a little ways off: ringed by a perfect circle of trees composed entirely of purple smoke and elaborate silken brocades, sits an oddly mundane sight: a large wooden table, set with a sumptuous banquet.
- Zahara notices the banquet and waits for Marku to rush forward and stuff himself.
- Markuran easily drowns out Zahara, but continues to match voices with Kai. The big man's voice rumbles forth from him, an inexorable avalanche of deep and mellow notes delivered with as much skill as Marku displays speaking for the glory of the sun. Distracted by his singing contest, Marku does not take note of the food.
- Kai recalls the months she spent singing on the streets in Nexus, calling out over the shouts of the venders, the squaks of various beasts, the clatter of carts and merchandise. She lets these old memories fill her breast, filling the forest of strange delights with the simple beauty of an old lyric.
The smell of the banquet wafts over to the Solars, overpoweringly strong.
- Kai 's stomach growls, causing her song to falter and be overwhelmed by her companion.
- Markuran has a sudden thought as his voice finally outmatches Kai's. Slowly, Marku starts altering his song note by note and slowly disharmonizing with the forest music. Breathing deep and strong, Marku sends his voice out to beat back the forest with fists of beautiful sound and blades of glowing notes. Slowly, fighting every bit of the transformation, Marku subordinates the forest's song into his own and defeats it utterly.
- Markuran lets out a final vocal flourish to smash the last life from the evil forest music, then nods. "Let's return to the proper trail."
- Zahara scrubs the disharmony out of her ears
<Zahara> "You sing pretty."
- Markuran snorts. "Thank you Zahara. Your praise warms my heart."
<Zahara> "Anything for you."
- Zahara continues on into the heart of the Wyld
As the group walks on further, a dark green mist begins to rise up out of the ground, obscuring all vision.
- Cerin looks around him, frowning softly at the mist
Even Cerin's essence-powered sight is no match for the strange green gas.
<Zahara> "Hmm this is annoying." Zahara steps up into the air to see if she can rise above the stuff
- Markuran huffs and blows at it
Zee walks up far into the air. For some distance, it doesn't seem to disperse, but eventually she finds herself amongst a set of leafy branches, with a thick layer of green fog covering the area below.
- Zahara hums and attempts to discover in which direction the fog disperses most quickly
Markuran's bluster doesn't seem to produce any obvious effect.
Zahara can't see an obvious end to the fog from where she's standing.
<Kai> "Z? If you're going to float, maybe we should set up a tether or something?"
<Markuran> "Serenal, can you turn into a giant bird that can carry two men, a woman and Zahara?"
Of course, the end cannot be seen through the complete darkness caused by the fog.
- Zahara is directly above where she was, so hopefully plenty of groping will lead to success.
- Markuran reaches out, trying to find a tree to climb
- Cerin walks towards the nearest place he remembers a tree was.
- Serenal shouts. "I will fly up and see what I can do."
<Kai> "Uhm... Maybe we shouldn't seperate too much."
Markuran and Cerin both locate climbable trees.
- Zahara frowns after a moment as the dangling leash isn't taken up. She unwraps one of the Bonds from her waist, and extends that downward, letting it grope around for a person.
- Cerin walks back, and takes Kai's hand. "It's me." he says, before he takes it.
- Markuran starts up the tree, grumbling
- Cerin then returns to the tree, leading Kai.
- Kai sticks close.
<Cerin> "Now, I'm going to pick you up, then we can get out of here, ok?"
Markuran's skin tingles unpleasantly from the touch of the tree, but he is able to begin climbing up it nonetheless.
- Cerin then concentrates, keying on his charms of supernatural grace, running up the imperfections in the bark, his toes balencing on the most unlikely fragments, before he clears the surface of the fogbank with an explosion of emerald mist, landing easily on the hilt of one of the orbiting swords
Markuran crests the fog line just in time to see Serenal pop out of it nearby in roc form, flapping about rapidly. However, Zahara is absolutely nowhere to be seen.
Similarly, as Cerin leaps up, he finds himself only standing upon an unassuming branch.
- Zahara idly lights the Bonds on fire
Zahara sees neither other group emerge from the fog.
- Cerin closes his eyes, and listens very carefully for Zahara and indeed for anyone or thing not himself or Kai.
<Zahara> "Hey, what's taking you guys so long? This can't be THAT hard to see."
<Markuran> "GET BACK HERE!!"
<Kai> "We lost them, didnt't we?"
Zahara does not hear Markuran's words, either.
- Birds looks around futilely
- Serenal flaps over to Markuran's tree, and alights on one branch. "We seem to have lost the others."
- Zahara sighs, and descends back into the fog.
A flaming BDSM device suddenly flops onto Birds' head.
- Birds shrieks and removes the thing from her head.
As she does so, the fog seems to lift; she sees the other end, still attached to Zahara's wrist, high above.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hi Zee!"
<Zahara> "Well hello, Birds. I thought you'd never find the end. You're a bit on fire though."
- Birds smiles, patting her head furtively. "You think so?"
- Zahara smiles back, "Actually I only used the illusory fire, so your hair isn't scorched a bit."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I am pleased to hear that."
- Cerin considers. "Perhaps we should go back down. She isn't up here now..." he starts to descend in much the same way
<Markuran> "Do you see them?"
<Zahara> "Where are the others?"
<Serenal?> "I can't see anyone else. And I can see a considerable distance." She shifts into a human again and continues to look around.
Zahara and Birds -- but no one else -- begin to hear the strange music again, louder than before.
<Zahara> "Maybe they followed the song."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It's worth a try."
- Markuran looks frustrated. "Well, that doesn't make any sense. They were just down there!"
- Markuran peers down into the fog
At this point, the fog has almost completely dissipated for everyone. However, the three separate groups still cannot see one another.
<Markuran> "ZAHARA! CERIN!" a pause as Marku things. "KAI?"
<Zahara> "Where is Cerin?" she sends worry through the Unity
<Serenal?> "They're not here, Markuran." She looks around some more. "I suspect fae trickery."
- Kai begins singing again.
- Birds takes Zahara's hand. "Let's try not to get -more- separated."
- Zahara winds the Bonds around her wrist and Birds' just in case, clasping her hand in hers.
The music grows louder.
Markuran notices suddenly that the banquet table they saw earlier seems to have reappeared just below the tree he is sitting in.
Cerin, on the other hand, notices something else -- a massive dagger, jet black, looking to be hundreds of feet tall; stabbed into the ground of a clearing perhaps 100 yards away.
<Zahara> "I can't feel them. This isn't good." She casts her gaze about, frowning. "I recall why I hate the Wyld."
- Cerin frowns and studies the dagger from where he is, not entirely sure he wants to leave this spot just yet. "Do you see that, Kai?" he turns so she could.
- Kai starts to sing louder, raising her voice, trying to penetrate the chaotic fog with simple music. she alternates verses, her folk song, Marku's ballad, the multiplication song. She tries to match the tenor of Marku's earlier performance.
- Markuran shakes his head hard. "Serenal, what do you see?"
<Serenal?> "No people, anywhere. A banquet table beneath us." She gestures. "And the forest to the west appears to be on fire." She gestures again, where bright crystalline flames appear to be sweeping over the trees.
- Kai nods, does not stop singing.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hm, maybe we can find each other more easily if we do what we were doing before." She picks up the multiplication song again.
- Markuran sighs
- Zahara nods, and joins birds in singing.
The Solars can suddenly hear, faintly, the tune of Kai's singing in their minds.
<Zahara> "Kai?" She looks around, trying to trace the source of the sound
- Markuran slowly begins humming, then singing an accompanyment. This time, instead of overpowering Kai's voice with his deeper tones, Marku weaves his into hers. Heavy stone holding up ethereal glass, the bass notes mix with Kai's lighter tones
As if on cue, Markuran's bass tones slide into the minds of the others.
- Serenal looks at the barbarian oddly. "Markuran, why are you /singing/?"
- Markuran waves Serenal silent
- Markuran gestures for her to sing along.
- Serenal makes a face, but doesn't speak.
- Birds finds a place in Kai's tune, hoping that Zahara is a better singer than she is.
- Zahara shifts her own tune to match Kai's. Her voice is not nearly as good as the others, as she's generally more taken with the music of screams, but nonetheless she raises it in song, a clear alto fitting in between the others.
With Zahara's joining of the song, the barriers blocking the Unity seem to come down entirely, and the Solars begin to feel one another within their minds once again.
As the singing continues, though, Cerin notices something -- a great deal of Essence welling up within the tremendous black dagger.
- Cerin smiles as the magical link of the unity suddenly snaps back into focus, the entwined lines of essence resonating with the tune. He starts to follow the complex mix of love and other emotions that will take him to Zahara, occasionally glancing at the dagger, watching the essence with curiousity
- Cerin sets Kai down, and conjours a bow of essence. "Things may get rather more ..hectic soon."
- Kai cocks an eyebrow, draws, and keeps singing.
A faint whistling sound begins to sound, from far above.
<Serenal?>, hesitantly singing with Markuran, continues to wonder what exactly is going on.
Perhaps a thousand black daggers, precisely like the one which now glows with Essence, are falling down toward the area where Cerin and Kai stand, at an extremely rapid pace.
- Markuran continues singing, sending confusion and a sense of need for understanding through the Unity
At the same moment, Zahara and Birds begin to hear whispering, as if on the wind... at first, it's incomprehensible.
- Cerin picks Kai up in a smooth motion, standing her on his shoulders, as he starts to flow along the ground firing mote after mote into the sky, the blasts of sunlight deflecting the arrows that would otherwise land on the pair.
Cerin shoots upwards, his powerful bolts of sunlight striking against the massive daggers falling through the sky. One touch from the arrows sends them spiralling out of their previous path, crashing into the others falling nearby in unpredictable and terrifying ways. The crashes of giant metal on metal are incredibly loud -- so loud that Markuran, Birds, and Zahara hear them faintly.
Sent spinning to their sides, many of the giant daggers crash to the ground, smashing the ground mere yards away from where Cerin and Kai stand, sending massive quantities of earth and fire/water wood flying up into the air.
Zee and Birds can suddenly hear the words being whispered: "Interloper.... corruptor.... ZAHARA....."
- Serenal nudges Markuran in the side and points to the banquet table, while making a "shh" gesture --
- Birds squeezes Zahara's hand.
a figure, a tall humanlike individual wearing an elaborate black and white outfit, has appeared at the table, where he is slowly sipping from a goblet.
- Cerin takes a firm hold on the singing Kai as he twists and leaps up through the cloud of earth and dust and wood, feet finding purchase on the thinnest of splinters and finest motes, riding the top of the explosion back down to earth.
- Zahara raises her daiklave, prepared to defend life and limb, and her irritation with this fluid place grows with every motion, every thought. Soon she is practically radiating hatred and anger, willing the Wyld away from her. "Stop Toying With Me." she says slowly, with a calm that belies the ferocity in her eyes, "Or I will Destroy This Place."
- Markuran peers down at the table and starts climbing down the tree towards him
- Markuran continues singing
- Cerin focuses once more on the thread of essence linking him to Zahara, and then he starts to RUN along it, following through all its twists and turns, leaping braches, flying along drifts of leaves, Kai in his arms.
The gentleman turns to look at Markuran and, without saying a word, gestures for Marku and Serenal to join him at the table.
Marku gets a good look at him, and can see the vicious-looking black dagger pendant which hangs around his neck.
- Markuran folds his arms over his chest, still singing. With his expression and posture alone Marku conveys his disapproval and demands explination for the strange events occuring.
The whispering picks up in volume a little for Zahara and Birds. "Very well. Join me for dinner...." A path clears itself out of the woods, leading off in one direction.
- Birds looks at Zee. "What do you think?"
- Zahara smiles coldly. "I think the games are going to end soon. Let us join him."
- Birds nods and walks.
Zahara, Birds, Cerin, and Kai all arrive at the clearing with the banquet table at about the same time, and Tevezst gestures for all of them to sit.
- Zahara stands opposite Tevezst, tapping her daiklave lightly against the ground.
- Cerin sets Kai down, and goes to stand beside Zahara
- Kai stands next to Cerin, Daybreaker on guard, waiting.
- Birds perches on a chair.
- Tevezst** looks smolderingly at Zahara over his goblet of wine. "Za H Ara?...." he says, taking a sip. "Do you reMEMber me?"
<Zahara> "How could I forget?"
- Tevezst** takes another sip. "Oh, I was just refreshing my memory. I couldn't recall how much of your mind I had eaten...."
- Zahara smiles slightly, "Not enough, apparently... Silly Tevezst. You should never." she steps forward. "Have let me." the Daiklave comes up slightly. "Grow up." The cup splinters in two.
Tags: (:tags Rovash the Infinite, Tevezst, Wyld :)
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