< Meeting With Grala | Sol Invictus Logs | Grapes >

Zahara just had to return to the clearing where the Solars previously ate the dinner prepared for them by Seven Leaping Herons. The gate insisted upon it. In the center of the clearing stand two trees, each about fifteen feet high. Both are entirely leafless, but do not appear to be dead. They stand about ten feet apart from one another. Each tree grows up almost perfectly straight on the side far from the other. On the near side, each tree's branches bend towards the other. Near the center, the two meet and intermingle.

The trees, however, are not the important part.

For the branches of both entangle and entwine around a large ring of starmetal and jade, approximately ten feet tall, which hangs by these branches just over the ground -- high enough for a human to easily step through it.

  • Zahara slides off of Tanty's back, patting him absently, then clasping her hands behind herself as she tilts her head to one side, eyeing the giant ring. "That wasn't there before, was it?"

<Cerin> "It was, all the time we ate, but you wanted to take your meteor back home to the Cascade"

<Zahara> "Huh. Well they DID steal my meteor. I was..focused."

  • Cerin laughs softly and shields his eyes to study it more closely
  • Zahara walks around it, feeling the air for a sense of energy, and inspecting it for runes or symbols she recognizes.

All around the border of the circle, inscribed upon the green jade portions, are glyphs of Old Realm, though the language itself is clearly not.

<Zahara> "It looks like it was originally... another language, and they only translated the SOUNDS into Old Realm."

  • Cerin nods "I recognise the signs..."

<Cerin> "but not what they mean"

  • Zahara writes the 'words' down on her everpresent sheaf of paper, and tries sounding them out, watching the circle for any signs of reaction to her words

The hoop of metal remains strangely unmoved.

  • Cerin gets out his own sheaf of paper, starting to delineate the flows around the ring
  • Zahara frowns, slightly disappointed, before examining it more closely, running her fingers along the designs, covering as much of the ring as she can reach with a delicate touch, feeling for any pieces that may move, or that seem to stand out. "Maybe it's something to do with the trees," she offers
  • Zahara allows her Essence to explore the cracks and crannies as well, seeking entrance
  • Cerin watches the reaction Zahara's essence causes within the rings,

Traces of Zahara's Essence flow into the ring and vanish. From what little he can make out of the Essence flows within, the ring seems to be built upon some sort of Essence feedback system -- using a small quantity of Essence to generate a huge surge of energy, drawing upon an underlying dragon line. It seems to require a very specific signal to function, however -- an Essence key of some sort.

<Cerin> "Interesting. The flows are so complex...it apparantely needs a key of some kind to open it..." he smiles to himself "I wonder if it's possible to pick the lock..."

<Zahara> "Hmm, I've made essence keys before. I'd like to see you pick one." she lofts a brow

  • Cerin smiles and moves closer to the lock, studying the lines in more detail. He experiementally adds more motes to places Zahara's essence did not touch, watching how they flow trying to picture the lock within

From up closer, Cerin gains a better grasp of how the flows within the ring look. They're more intricate than he expected -- he's rarely seen this kind of fine detail in any artifact he's studied.

  • Zahara watches him appraisingly, mentally revising her list of things to be keyed into things to be keyed really really well.
  • Cerin ponders to himself. letting the patterns churn over in his mind, waiting for the right moment. When it comes, his hand is simply a blur, injecting motes at all the right places, control channels opening in sequence, the whole cascade starting.

Cerin's deft strikes send ripples of cascading essence through the ring, and suddenly the processes within begin. Cerin sees the glow that indicates the Essence of the underlying dragon line being drawn up into the ring, and it begins to race through the object with frightening speed.

The green jade begins to glow in an unusual manner; it grows brighter as the moments pass.

  • Cerin is forced to shield his eyes once more as the glow, both visible and of essence, rises brighter
  • Zahara steps back, coincidentally halfway behind Cerin

The air within the disc begins to swirl and spin, obscuring sight of the area behind it.

<Zahara> "Do you know what it's DOING?"

<Cerin> "Not exactly, no. It seems to be building up to a similar state that it reached when Herons left us, however..."

  • Zahara eyes the glowing ring with curiosity and a tinge of trepidation that's far overshadowed by excitement.

As the air continues to spin, the various symbols carved into the starmetal begin to glow, a strange red color.

At this point, the device seems to reach a stable state -- it grows no brighter, and remains, swirling and glowing.

  • Cerin carefully reaches out, putting his hand into the swirling maelstrom of essence
  • Zahara walks around to see if it comes out the back

Cerin feels a strange... tugging sensation upon his hand as it moves through, but the tugging is... misdirected. Zahara sees it poke out the back as normal.

Cerin notices as his face nears the ring that there seems to be a strange Essence flow through the Old Realm symbols, as if they are open to manipulation

  • Cerin pulls his hand back out "I think we can manipulate the symbols now..." He presses the symbol for 'LA'

As his fingers touch the symbol, the red glow around its edges transforms into a soft blue, and a melodious chime emanates from the ring.

  • Cerin resorts to the yea-oldle-stick-your-hand-in method of testing what the ring does now.

The undirected pulling resumes.

  • Cerin studies the flows within the gate as he pulls his hand out. He presses LA again.

it continues to glow blue.

<Zahara> "Try activating more than one. Maybe form a word, or a name"

  • Cerin spells out Larjyn, since he cant, off the top of his head, think of any other places that start like that.
  • Zahara peers around the back again while he tries sticking his hand in places it doesn't belong

As Cerin taps the second symbol, both begin to glow a brighter blue. Once he taps the third, all three glow very brightly; the other symbols' red glow fades away to nothing, and a little musical chime echoes from the disc. The spinning within the center grows furious and rapid.

<Zahara> "That looks promising"

  • Cerin nods. He puts his hand in.

Zahara does not see Cerin's hand emerge from the back.

<Zahara> "Is your hand in yet?"

<Cerin> "Yes.."

<Zahara> "It's not here. Stick your face in!"

  • Cerin pushes his face in, after only a moments thought
  • Zahara sticks her hand in the back experimentally


  • Markuran tromps up behind the two, looking at the giant spinning vortex of blue glow with a dubious expression.
  • Zahara jerks as the bellow nearly shatters her ears, and she rolls her eyes. "We're trying to find out." she says, poking her head around the far edge and eyeing the barbarian. "Don't BREAK it."

Cerin feels a strange sensation as his head passes through the gate. On the other side, he finds himself staring out onto a vast, seemingly endless sheet of ice. Cold breezes blow snow dust across it in great clouds.

Zahara feels the same tugging sensation, and her hand grows cold.

  • Zahara , hearing no screaming from Cerin, sticks her head through as well

<alsoquin> Zahara sees the opposite side of the scene Cerin witnesses: a massive mountain of ice, beginning to rise up about fifty yards from the back of the gate.

<Zahara> "What'd you spell?"

<Cerin> "Larjyn. I think. I couldnt think of any other place that begain with 'LA'

<Zahara> "Is this it?"

  • Markuran shakes his head at all this nonsense and walks through the gate, looking around.
  • Zahara idly considers closing the gate real quicklike.

<Markuran> "This isn't Larjyn. What a stupid ring of mysterious stone."

<Zahara> "Did you spell it right?"

<Cerin> "Of course."

<Markuran> "Well, this is wrong. But maybe I can find a mammoth...mammoth meat is supposed to be really tastey..

  • Markuran starts looking for a mammoth.

No mammoth -- or anything alive -- can be seen within the range of eyesight.

  • Zahara walks through and around to the side the men are on. she mutters to Cerin, "we could close this thing again, right?" and flicks her glance at the annoying barbarian

<Cerin> "I'm sure there must be some way to close it..."

The gate on this side is similar to the one in the Sunlands. It, however, is made of deep blue jade, and halfway frozen amongst a large archway of ice.

<Zahara> "Let's try."

Its glow suddenly begins to lessen.

  • Zahara exits back through the gate to home
  • Cerin does too.

Zahara and Cerin pass through the gate, but the fading has already begun -- they find themselves on the opposite side, still surrounded by ice.

  • Zahara steps aside in case a huge chunk of meat comes hurtling through afterwards

<Markuran> "...you got us STUCK IN A GIANT FIELD OF ICE AND SNOW!"

<Zahara> "Well, that didn't go as planned," she notes.

<Cerin> "Ah. The gate seems to have shut down"

  • Markuran bellows, looking extremely miffed. A cloud of snow and ice flies up in a minor flurry around the big barbarian.
  • Zahara activates her warm undies

<Zahara> "Well, shall we explore before we try to get back, ..oh, say, you didn't happen to notice which letters were lit up on this thing on THIS side did you?"

  • Cerin starts to look around. "I'm not entirely sure. This one? and erm...that and this one?" he hazards a guess "Exploring is probably best, and if nothing else, we can just wait til nightfall."

<Zahara> "Well, I'd prefer to have a backup plan before we explore. Maybe you can just try unlocking it now, and we can figure out the way home later.

  • Cerin enhances the essence flows about his senses, lookign around for anything of note beyond the ring in this cold place

There is a great deal of Air essence in this place, far more than Cerin recalls seeing in such a wide, unremarkable area.

  • Markuran glares at the two smart people and tromps off, determined to find his mammoth, kill it, eat it, build a shelter out of it and stay warm.

Even strengthening his senses, Cerin is hard-pressed to locate any other interesting details in the nearby area. It appears to be empty ice as far as the eye can see.

<Cerin> "How strange...so much air essence...we must be faar to the North, I think"

<Cerin> "Where are you going Marku?"

<Markuran> "To find a mammoth."

<Cerin> "There are none for miles..."

  • Cerin turns to study the gate again. he experimentally tries the same essence patturn as before.

<Markuran> "You know, if its Old Realm symbols, its probably Old Realm Names."

<Markuran> "Try some Old Realm name. Like Rathess or Denandsor or Chiaroscuro."

Entering the same name seems to accomplish nothing: the three symbols flash red once the third is entered, and the spinning air does not change.

<Cerin> "That does us little good, Marku, if I cannot activate the gate again."

<Markuran> "Well, it won't work, we're already here. It can't send us here twice."

  • Markuran shakes his head, annoyed. "

<Markuran> "You bring me to the frozen north and I don't even get a mammoth to bring home to show for it. Nor even a seal. White bear. Nothing. Just a bunch of ice."

<Cerin> "You do not understand. The pattern to open the gate and the pattern to select the destination are two seperate patterns. What we need now is the first one, that will allow us to put in 'Rathess' or 'Chiaroscruo'"

<Zahara> "Well Rathess is fairly close to the Sunlands at least."

<Zahara> "And shut up about us 'bringing you' ANYWHERE. YOU were the one who plunged through heedlessly."

<Markuran> "You opened the spinning blue puddle and just stood there, sticking your heads through like an ostrich. You didnt say anything about the puddle drying up!"

<Zahara> "ARE you COMPLETELY brainless, Markuran? We were experimenting with unknown technology, probably from the First Age. Caution is always advised in such cases."

  • Cerin smiles as the gate thrums to life again "Now 'RA'...'DE'...'SE'...'SE'"

<Zahara> "Honestly, I don't know how you survived this long."

After the third symbol, the gate roars to life again.

  • Cerin looks through again
  • Zahara looks as well.
  • Markuran puts his head through, muttering

The three Solars find their heads plunged into dark, icy-cold water. A dark ocean floor is visible, but the surface must be far, far away.

  • Markuran looks around for a near-by fish.
  • Cerin pulls his head back. "They are not place names."
  • Zahara pulls her head back and coughs, trying to squeeze her hair out.

Some rather disturbing vaguely fish-like creatures swim nearby.

The water is even colder now, exposed to the chill air.

  • Markuran attempts to grab one of the fish-like-creatures without floating free from the gateway.

<Zahara> "So it seems."

  • Zahara eyes Mark's posterior, and ponders a good kick

Mark manages to grab one of the creatures by a spine.

  • Cerin helps Zahara with her hair, unaffected by the cold, wrapped as he is in armour and magic
  • Markuran retreats through the gateway, holding his new pet roughly as it struggles
  • Zahara covers her eyes as the creature sprays new and exciting water her way

<Zahara> "Ugh, will you KILL that thing?"

  • Markuran smiles broadly. "I'm keeping it!
  • Markuran ponders. "Actually, it'll die anyway."

The beast is about two feet long, and disturbingly dissimilar to any fish the Solars have ever seen before. It is covered in spines and strange tentacles, and has weird spots that glow and pulse in different colors.

<Zahara> "I hope it poisons you."

<Cerin> "What a fascinating creature"

  • Markuran beats its head against the hard-packed ice and snow.

The fish-thing dies, and begins bleeding glowing blood which changes colors as it flows out, until several moments later the fish is entirely dead and the blood turns a deep black.

<Cerin> "What a fascinating corpse."

  • Zahara chuckles.

<Zahara> "So quickly they change. And thankfully, I'm quite wet ENOUGH."

  • Zahara starts steaming in the cold air
  • Markuran sniffs at the creature, trying to decide if it's edible.

It does not appear to be.

  • Cerin returns to studying the rings "So....if those took us to the north...and these to the west...hmmm. That would mean these would be in the East..somewhere.."

<Cerin> "Any ideas Zahara, before you ..and Marku get any colder"

  • Zahara squeezes a few more drops from her hair before they turn to icicles, and looks at the marks Cerin is indicating. "I see what you mean. We are.. here." she touches the sequence that took them to their current place. "Those three..." she taps "Are west." "We want south.. South would be one of these, here."

<Markuran> "Try the ones halfway between south and east"

<Zahara> "I'm fine, but if my hair shatters I'll be upset."

  • Markuran shoulders the dead creature and waits for a new puddle to form.

<Cerin> "That would be something of a tragedy"

  • Cerin turns the gate on again, now glowing with the essence he has expended.

<Zahara> "It would." She summons her flamberge from Elsewhere and ignites it, holding it near her frozen locks to melt them a bit.

  • Markuran scratches at his hair, where snow is starting to crust

The gate glows to life once again.

  • Cerin activates the symbols that /should/ place them in the South East?
  • Zahara peers through
  • Cerin does too
  • Markuran tries once more.

The Solars peer out to witness the gentle forest glen from which they initially emerged.

  • Zahara hops through with a pleased sound.
  • Cerin follows her
  • Markuran follows, looking happy.

<Zahara> "That was exciting. We should try more places."

<Zahara> "We know where the setting for 'home' is now."

  • Markuran checks the glowing letters before going over to the control rock and tapping away at the distant south.
  • Cerin nods "More exploration would be good, though you might want to prepare a little more"

The gate swirls to life once again.

  • Markuran sticks his head through the puddle.

Mark looks out just in time to see a wall of lava rushing towards his head.

  • Markuran jerks back, diving away from the puddle
  • Zahara jumps sideways in case something comes through that's not M Ark?


<Markuran> "SOMETHING NEW!!!!"

  • Cerin activates for the west, but not the same west as before

The ring's Essence shifts. No lava pours forth.

<Zahara> "What was it?"

<Markuran> "There was a giant rushing wall of melted rock and fire!"

  • Cerin see's whats there now
  • Markuran peeks. Carefully. Damn puddle-rock, trying to kill him

<Zahara> "And now you know why we don't just jump through glowing puddles."

The current gate sits upon a tiny island, apparently part of a long archipelago. Seagulls fly and croak above, and the waves lap softly upon the island's shores.

<Zahara> "See if you can set the coordinates for the island Relovia spoke of in her letter"

  • Markuran smiles and walks through, stripping off his snow-crusted, slightly singed cloathing and diving into the clean Western water with a loud whoop!
  • Cerin nods! He starts to cycle through the gates.
  • Zahara chuckles

<Zahara> "Well, now that Mark's not here to listen, can you show me the key?"

There are numerous possible combinations that lead to Western locations; though those Cerin tries seem to lead to various interesting locales, none open up onto anything that appears to match the floating island.

<Cerin> "I'm not sure if I can...but I will try. You feed the essence in here, here, there, here, and here. then send a mote to all 5 points"

  • Zahara follows his instructions carefully

Zahara causes the gate to spring to life.

  • Markuran spends a good bit of time cavorting in the warm water around the small island, cleaning himself studiously. Once clean, Mark begins searching for oysters, coral or something to eat.

<Cerin> "Well done"

<Zahara> "A hah! I got it! Thank you, Cerin!" she leans over and gives him a little peck on the cheek.

There are several delicious tropical fruits growing on trees on Markuran's small tropical island. In the water, Marku can locate several plump oysters.

  • Cerin pauses momentarily. he murmurs 'thank you' under his breath. He tries to find the island, noting down what is through each of the gates as he does
  • Markuran collects the oysters and begins smashing them, searching through the shells for pearls as he chews on a papaya.

He finds several large, gleaming examples of such.

  • Zahara smiles, and turns to watch the gate as it cycles through the various settings, idly noting which ones seem good for romantic getaways, and prisons.

<Cerin> "I suppose we should get Marku back.."

<Zahara> "do we HAVE to? I think I might hate him."

  • Markuran wraps the pearls in his clothes and dives back into the water. Gasping in a breath that expands his massive chest like an over-gorged tyrant lizard's belly, stretching old scars, the big barbarian dives under water and starts searching for other interesting things. He's always heard the pirates out west leave burried treasure under water...

<Cerin> "He's useful when you need something large to run at problems"

<Zahara> "This is true. But wouldn't it be nice if he just stayed in a cell the rest of the time?"

<Cerin> "Only if it were soundproofed."

<Zahara> "I could do that."

  • Cerin smiles
  • Zahara touches the multiple jewel-toned 'necklaces' around her neck, and eyes the portal. "I think that would cause an uprising though." she sighs. "And that would be more trouble than it's worth."
  • Cerin nods "Wasteful too."

<Zahara> "An hour would be nice, though. A blessed, quiet hour."

  • Cerin nods
  • Zahara keys in the coordinates for a particularly beautiful island, "Here?"
  • Cerin smiles and nods "Here looks wonderful"
  • Zahara smiles and steps through the portal.
  • Cerin steps through after her, looking about at the island paradise
  • Zahara shifts her clothing into something more appropriate for the surroundings. aka, very little.

<Cerin> "You look stunning" he smiles and starts to remove the crimson armour.

  • Zahara steps back onto the beach, looking around for evil plant or animal life, before returning her gaze to Cerin. "Ahh, so THAT's what you look like" she grins.
  • Cerin laughs softly. He lays the armour out on the sand.

<Cerin> "All you had to do was ask"

  • Zahara smiles, "But part of the fun lies in not asking."
  • Cerin smiles and sits down on the beach "I suppose.."
  • Markuran does not find a pirate treasure. Much saddened and now tired out, the big man stretches out on the sandy beach and takes a nap.
  • Zahara sits near him, idly sculpting the sand around them. "It's a beautiful day, here, don't you agree?"
  • Cerin nods "Beautiful day, beautiful island, beautiful company" idly tracing patterns in the sand as he smiles at Zahara
  • Zahara revels in the feeling of tension so taut it would require a knife to release, as she whiles away the hour close to Cerin.
  • Cerin enjoys the hour sitting next too Zee, relaxing in the sun, as best as he can

<Zahara> "We should come here more often..."

  • Cerin nods "Definately"

<Zahara> "We could build a little house."

  • willows is now known as willows-sleep
  • Zahara stretches out, lying back on the sand with her arms crossed beneath her head. "Come here when we need time alone, away from the Sunlanders."

<Cerin> "That would be good" turning to look at her layed out body "That would be very good indeed"

<Zahara> "If you try to teach others the key, don't do it well."

<Zahara> "I'd rather not have people able to barge in on us."

<Cerin> "Apart from people like herons you mean?"

  • Zahara waves her hand dismissively, "I'd prefer Herons to Markuran or Rannath."
  • Cerin laughs softly "That's true enough"
  • Cerin leans over as if to kiss her, though if she pushes him away, he doesnt resist
  • Zahara hesitates for a moment, then kisses back
  • Cerin pulls back after a while, smiling
  • Cerin remains lieing near to her
  • Seagulls caw overhead, cartwheeling through a clear blue sky

<Zahara> "I was wondering how long you'd be able to wait before doing that," she says, a smile touching her lips.

<Cerin> "I can be a very patient man" he smiles back

<Zahara> "You did fairly well.." she smiles, "Considering the looks I've seen in your eyes."

<Cerin> "what man wouldnt hunger for you.."

  • Zahara chuckles, "I could probably name a few, but that depends on your version of hunger."

<Cerin> "mmmm"

  • Zahara gives him a taste of what he's been hungering for the whole year
  • Cerin enjoys every minute of it, reciprocating in kind

(:tags Gates:)

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