<Cerin> "I must offer my apologies for that, but events got rather beyond my control."
Rannath turns to Lai and looks as if he is about to begin shouting, when a strange-looking god with a bizarrely abstract form seems to grab him by the arm and begin to drag him away; he appears powerless to resist.
<Cerin> "Farewell Lai, I would not want anything to happen to you until we next meet."
<Zahara> "Nice guy." she notes, smiling slightly.
Markuran sees the strange abstract being drag the Solar into the door of a tall, ornate building, which then shuts rapidly.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "While in Heaven, one must taste its delights. Unfortunately, I fear I must absent myself for a moment...I sense something is afoot." She sends a pulse of curiosity through the Unity.
<Zahara> "Somewhere high, like the tower." she smiles, and points up to one of the spiraling towers, "Away from everything down here."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "nothing would make me happier."
The door does not seem to open.
As Cerin and Zahara reach the top of the tower, the lightshow begins -- a beautiful and elegant display of abstract patterns in numerous shades begins to float through the air above the city, twirling and reshaping itself from moment to moment.
<Markuran> Mark and the Goddess curled up, enjoying the lightshow with eachother.
The lightshow lasts for an hour before the beautiful, flickering lights leave the sky and return to the streets of the city, where they resume carousing with the other festivalgoers.
<Cerin> "I will try to take down the minutes, at least."
<Cerin> "they would be most useful." he whispers
<Zahara> "If you need me..." she trails off.
<Cerin> "You will know." He sends her a little love through the unity.
The flower god wends his way through the streets, finally ducking into a tall, narrow tower. Cerin can see the spirit's Essence as he wends his way up through the building.
Unfolding Petal reaches the top of the building before entering a small room.
There is the barest whisper behind Petal as Cerin slips in behind him, another blur and Cerin is up the wall balencing on the chadelier, as Petal turns round to welcome one of his guests to the room.
Already waiting in the room for Petal's arrival are several compatriots. Lai Misuna sits in a chair, a glass of wine in one hand. At the far end of the room, a spirit -- vaguely humanoid, but quite tall and of distinctly animalistic bent -- paces back and forth loudly. In another chair, the Dragon-King whom Cerin observed the day before sits, drawing two oddly-shaped knives against one another with a disturbing sound.
Cerin thinks he notices something odd about the beastly god, but when he looks closer it seems that it was nothing, after all.
The beast shouts gruffly at Petal as he enters: "You're late."
The Dragon-King draws its knives together again and invites the new arrival to sit, with an evil grin.
Lai nods. "This should be a cause for celebration!" he says, raising his wine. "We are at the cusp of our great undertaking's final success!"
The pacing god grumbles, but complies.
The four begin a long conversation about their current undertakings -- instigating conquest on the part of the Haslanti league, tricking the plains nations into signing on with Mask of Winters, distributing powerful weapons to no fewer than three southern cities, and otherwise instigating devastating war on a large scale amongst the nations of Creation.
It becomes clear that Lai seems to be the primary direct agent of these deals, having travelled throughout the lands in order to manipulate events to the Order's liking.
The three gods have each had their own responsibility: Petal has been in charge of the slow rollout of the Exaltation process, beginning with a small test in Lebon (Bertrand's hometown) and advancing on to "the zero hour." Kasima has been further investigating the Underways and searching for greater resources; Ten-Beasts-Rising has gathered "other resources."
"What about resistance from the Chrysanthemum?" Ten-Beasts-Rising asks irritatedly later on in the meeting. "They seem to have their hands full addressing the coming fae invasion and the Shadowed Unlife Equation, both of which I have worked to bring to their attention," Lai responds.
<TenBeastsRising?> "And what of the returned Solars? They pose the gravest threat to this plan. If any of them discover that simply by reforming th---" "SHHHH!" Lai interrupts him. "Do not speak that, even here."
Lai sips his wine, then stands. "Indeed. We are poised to bring about a new world order -- the one that should have come at the fall of the Primordials. And my new bretheren shall deliver it to you. It is but three months from the day that we launch our offensive."
Ten-Beasts-Rising makes a somewhat odd, jarring motion, and Cerin notices that... something odd is going on with his Essence flows.
The others nod, and one by one the four begin to file out of the room.
Once the meeting ends, the god's Essence flows seem to subside to an imperceptibly-different-from-normal level -- he wanders back out into the Carnival, and seems otherwise not odd.
<Zahara> "I find it difficult to concieve of ALLOWING a Fae onto my property.. into the heart of my manse."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You are the one who can bind men by their words, Zahara."
<Markuran> "He will be weak, the Cascade is already an entrapment, a block to shifting flows."
<Markuran> "But I do not approve of letting one of those..things..near our stronghold."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "He really -is- a very good kisser, too. You should track him down while he's still in Heaven." She gives the men looks that suggest they they will also do well not to miss out.
<Zahara> "And how big is this love of his? I have seen some.. quite .. large fae."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "That's an excellent question! Two of them, in fact."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Or four?"
<Zahara> "Just.. answer them one at a time, Birds."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I don't know, Rovash the Infinite, he wants to find his long-lost lover, I don't know. Suppose we ask?"
<Zahara> "That sounds like a good idea. Do you know where to find him now?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I think I can make him find us."
<Zahara> "Send him a kiss, hmm?" she smiles mischevously
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Rovash's symbol is the seven-pointed star. I think that his retainers will understand that this variation of it signals how upset I am over being away from him."
Within less than seven minutes, Rovash has arrived.
<Zahara> "You are a curious creature, Birds."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "My sister in the sun was anxious to meet with you."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Or perhaps only anxious."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I am not certain."
<Zahara> "I have questions before you will be allowed to enter our haven."
<Zahara> "Indeed. Firstly, where exactly must you stand during your... ritual?"
<RovashTheInfinite?> "Ah. The location where the sun first strikes the earth upon the second day of Resplendent Water. From the reports I received of your illustrious construction, I believe that would be... a storage closet."
<Zahara> "And this lover of yours," she asks, looking the Fae up and down, "She will not cause damage in any way to the manse, or its people?"
<Zahara> "And if your definition of harm does not match mine?"
<Zahara> "Why is she locked away where you cannot reach her?"
Four of Rovash's arms move to place the backs of their hands squarely upon his forehead. "Alas, she is not locked away; she fled from me, lo these many years ago. I wish to call her back to me, but only upon that very spot, where our love first germinated, will she hear my call."
<Zahara> "And if she refuses you?"
Eight more arms join the previous four. "Then I shall perish on the spot!"
<Zahara> "Then you must allow us to experiment upon you first."
<Zahara> "Do you feed on your own pain, as well as that of others?"
<Zahara> "So it would seem." she lifts a brow. "If we allow you entrance, you and yours, and all those of your lands, must never harm a Sunlander in any fashion. Ever."
<Zahara> "Even by accident."
<Zahara> "This extends also to our property, land, and the creatures under our care."
<Zahara> "If this oath is broken, you, as well as the oathbreaker, will submit yourself entirely to me for punishment, which will be dealt out as I see fit."
<Zahara> "For this, and only under these terms, you shall be allowed to call upon your love." she holds her hand out to him, waiting.
He reaches five hands out to touch Zahara's.
<Zahara> "You may come to the Manse one week from today. We will prepare you a greeting."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hey, what was that Selonis was saying about the Islands of Glass?
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I think we should take one over."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Or maybe just get a look."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, we can start small."
<Cerin> "I still dont know which of the gates will take us there.."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "You think Selonis could be bothered to explain a little?"
<Zahara> "Perhaps, but we should consolidate our hold on the Sunlands before we expand too much further, I think. We don't want to lose control."
<Cerin> "Oh, I know whihc co-ordinates will take us there. Just not to which island?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "*Which island?* Okay then!"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "We'll just...umm...where is a gateway?"
<Yu-Shan> Several gateways line the outsides of the Carnival district.
<Cerin> "There are some to the north of the Plaza."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "When the party is over, we should stop there on our way home."
<Yu-Shan> The unusual crowd milling about the area either truly misses Birds' dramatic actions, or make an equally impressive show of ignoring them.
Upon inputting the two characters, the Old Realm glyphs upon the ring begin to glow a soft green.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Green. That's new."
The two find themselves standing on the opposite site of the gateway, still in the gate chamber within Yu-Shan. The symbols continue to glow a soft green.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hm. I guess we did something wrong."
<Yu-Shan> The second Cerin touches the first symbol, it begins to glow a soft yellow.
<Zahara> "Yellow is also new" Zahara comments, having followed them.
<Cerin> "hmmm." he touches the second one.
<Yu-Shan> It glows yellow as well.
<Yu-Shan> The gate roars to life.
Cerin finds himself, for the second time this week, with a truly breathtaking view. He stands upon a small plateau -- no more than fifteen feet across -- covered in silken, bluish-green grass. It is held onto lower such platforms by a thin, winding piece of purplish-red stone. The entire island -- as large as a large city, it appears -- is held together by such tenuous connections. From many of these platforms, fountains of crystalline blue water spring up, and begin to lazily waterfall between the numerous plateaus downwards, ever downwards. At the bottom edge, the water falls off, seemingly forever, into the void below. The sky is colored in broad swathes of purples and blues, like a strange impressionist painting. To one side, the vastness of Heaven can be seen -- the great adamant walls that rise up from its sides, and the top of the great Dome visible above them.
To other sides, the distant forms of other islands can be spotted.
The wind is cool, just enough to invigorate. The air smells of lemon and fresh mint.
<Cerin> "..." Cerin takes a very long look.
<Markuran> "It should not be hard to find the 5th Isle at all, should it Cerin? That is where I am to meet Selonis."
<Zahara> "We should build a house here too."
The Solars can hear the faint sound of the crystalline rivers tinkling, like tiny wineglasses, as it flows over the rocks and downwards towards the void.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "This is beautiful."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Are all the Islands similar, or different?"
<Markuran> "Selonis said they were different. He described the one where we will meet."
<Cerin> "Perhaps we should try to find that one."
<Zahara> "I like this one, though."
<Cerin> "But we can always come back."
<Zahara> "True. Okay, let's go."
The Solars step out into the location that Marku heard Selonis describe. The four of them stand upon a platform of intricately carved mahogany, tied at its four corners with thick jet-black ropes that head off in four directions. The ropes lead out to massive jade pillars -- some as small as a man, others apparently as wide as hundreds of feet -- bearing elaborate designs which hang, pointed straight upwards, in the air. Some are tall enough that neither end is visible, while others can be seen to simply float, unheld, in the air. They are connected by hundreds, nay, thousands of tiny ropes, with platforms ranging in size from the small one the Solars stand upon, up to some that are hundreds or thousands of feet across. All sway slightly in the warm, musky breeze.
<Zahara> "This one isn't as nice as the last one." she pouts. "I liked the waterfalls."
Cerin notices that the designs upon the pillars seem to be slowly shifting as the moments pass.
<Markuran> "This will be most interesting for a battleground...most interesting.."
The patterns seem almost to be evolving, growing ever more grand as each moment passes -- for a second, Cerin thinks he understands how the patterns on every pillar fit together into a stunning whole, but the knowledge rapidly flees.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Marku, we need one of these."
The ropes do sway somewhat menacingly, but a tug reveals them to be quite sturdily anchored.
<Markuran> "We can always just come and use this one, Birds. I don't think we even COULD make one in Creation.."
<Zahara> "Lost what?"
<Cerin> "There is a ...pattern. In the designs. I almost ...understood it."
The pattern begins to coalesce again -- the template, the blueprint of this world... but it is too vast to comprehend at once.
<Zahara> "Marku! Birds!" she calls, gesturing to them. "Come on, it's time to go."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "This place is fun."
<Markuran> "I take it Cerin is doing what Zahara disapproves of and simply walking through gateways until something interesting appears on the other side?"
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Forget Cerin. That's what I 'm doing.
The group find themselves standing upon a small island, a grey rock sitting within a black ocean. Black trees jut up from the rock, bearing no foliage. A blood red sun blazes away in the sky, though it sheds little light; stars the color of ashes dot the sky around it.
<Cerin> "I didnt think we would be."
<Zahara> "I've got a baaad feeling about this."
<Markuran> "Where are we? Hell? the Wyld? Some lost place?"
The air is dry and stale; an uneasy feeling pervades the place.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "I wonder...."
The feeling is strangely familiar, actually.
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Marku, do you have some orichalque?"
<Markuran> "only that in Armsbreaker."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "Why does this place feel so familiar?"
Birds' aura flares up, the brilliant golden hues seeming muted, faded in this air. The orichalcum in the artifacts reflects the flare somewhat eagerly.
<Cerin> "Mask Of Winters." he states then "We are in the underworld."
<BirdsOfTrinity> "It makes my skin crawl."
<Zahara> "There is nothing interesting here, anyway." she breaks a branch off the tree and steps back toward the portal, waiting for Cerin to set it
<Yu-Shan> Many branches break off as he drags the accursed thing through the gateway, but Markuran succeeds in his goal.
At the end of the following day Cerin calls the other solars to his rooms. He and Zahra have spent much of the day contructing various occult wardings against scrying and everything else they could think of. When they are all assembled within the rooms, He starts to speak "I know what the Lily plans."
<Markuran> "The end of the world?"
<Cerin> "In a certain sense, yes. Its more like a coup, though."
<Zahara> "Tell me more."
<Cerin> "Lai has been a very busy man, fermenting troubles. He is behind the expansion of the Haslanti, the alliance with the Mask, he no doubt has a hand in our invasion, and he has given cities to the south weapons far too powerful to be in mortal hands. They want the world in disarry. For the true plan."
<Zahara> "Sounds like a good start to taking over the world."
<Markuran> "We can deal with the Southern cities, I think..the Haslanti are less of a problem to us."
<Cerin> "Meanwhile, Petal has been slowly advancing the propagation of the Exaltation process, Bretrand's village was merely a test...they plan to raise an army of Exalts. Kasima the knife..the god of the olichike I pointed out to you...he is the one who has been sacking the underways for weapons and items of power. Ten-Beasts-Rising has been investiagting 'other things'...unfortunately he was most vague."
<Cerin> "In what these things were...and his essence was...most bizzare."
<Markuran> "How long until they can attack?"
<Zahara> "bizarre how?"
<Cerin> "They do not fear us. Unless we can reform the '...' Lai was most rude and interupted at that point. And they do not fear the Cysthanthamum..that group we found mention of the in texts from Rathess. Lai claimed to have distracted them with the Fae invasion and the 'Shadowed Unlife Equation'"
<Markuran> "He is unimportant. If his..patron is killed, he will be nothing but a stain on humanity."
<Cerin> "They will start to move at the end of the month of Descending Air."
<Cerin> "His essence...it spluttered...it did not flow smoothly."
<Zahara> "Or, maybe it's being redirected into little Exalts"
<Cerin> "Perhaps... though I didnt notice a similar pattern in Petal...and it faded as he left them...though it could be."
<Zahara> "Hmm then I would suspect they had warded the building against outside interference."
<Cerin> "It is fortunate I was standing on the chandelier just above them, then."
Tags: (:tags Yu-Shan, Lai Misuna, Rovash the Infinite, Unfolding Petal, Ten-Beasts-Rising, Kasima, Sidereals, Fair Folk, Shadowed Unlife Equation, Selonis, Isles of Glass:)