alsoquin The Solars' commandeered boat sits no more than a quarter mile away from the crystalline tower known as Avixos. Large spires of translucent crystal stick out from the base and rise at 15 degree angles from the water, their sides flattening out in a way that would allow disembarkment. Though the tower appears to be solid, those with Essence sight can make out (...)
alsoquin the fine traceries of Essence that seem to mark the entranceways which ring the tower's lowermost section. Though the structure rises high into the air, it is still quite wide, perhaps a mile in diameter.
Cerin ::Now that they are gone, and before they return and rather regretably attempt to kill us, for which we will almost certainly destroy them, I would ask that you Lucent, and especially you Thirteen, do not engage in such /hasty and muddy/ thinking in the future.::
alsoquin Valeci spirals high into the air, while her two companions have disappeared into the water, now imperceptible even to Cerin and Thirteen's advanced senses.
Thirteen ::I assume your next thought will include a detailed explanation.::
Lucent ::Did you not HEAR her, Cerin? Should I ignore the blasphemies?!?::
Birds ::I suggest a different method of correction.::
Zahara ::Please explain what you mean, Love, as now is not a good time to bicker amongst ourselves.::
Lucent allows the Coronal to spread around him, Mars shining like a sun above his head as he turns around, waiting, from all directions, for Valeci and her companions to return... "Let us try it your way then, Birds."
Birds ::I am not sure you will entirely like it.::
alsoquin The boat moves choppily in the violent waters.
Cerin ::You are not considering what I have been saying since we arrived at this plane. There are several facts I would like to draw your attention. Firstly, that there is an infernal primordial loose on this plane. It is it that drives the quippan and who destroyed the jade exalt. Secondly, that those were Malakim, not demons and therefore that Atomnos is not corrupted. Which means that thirdly, there is another primordial on this plane, (...)
Cerin who is hidden from Atomnos. Forthly, that the church is performing some large scale geomantic search, involving the manipulation of much of the world. Which means that fifthly, that primordial is well hidden. The most likely thing it is hiding with is the seal. Therefore, rather than engaging in hasty holywar, we should instead seek out this second primordial, defeat him and recover the seal.::
Thirteen ::Why did you not mention this before?::
Cerin ::As to her comments on the sun, Lucent - They contradict nothing we have heard of sun before. When we return to Meru, we shall have to take you to see Selonis, one of his Lions::
Thirteen ::I cannot devise useful plans without the requisite data.::
Cerin ::You were rather occupied with witty repartee::
Zahara ::And what are we to do with these Malakim who seek to prevent us from getting the Heart?::
Thirteen ::There is always time for consideration before it becomes recrimination, Wolf.::
Cerin ::I would conjecture they might be less hostile if we have the seal and plan to leave with it. If they still resist, well ...::
Thirteen ::We shall simply have to come to terms with them. Since Lucent seems to have a certain antipathy towards them, I suggest that this is your opportunity to shine, Zahara.::
Lucent mostly ignores Cerin's latter words, focusing on the former.... "Well, then we must topple their church? They likely knows where this Primordial *is*! You have seen what they are doing. We cannot just let that rest. We can ask the Malakin's help, but... we cannot let them continue!"
Thirteen "The easiest way to stop their wars is to find what they are looking for, Lucent."
Zahara ::Ahh, shining. One of my favorite things to do.::
Cerin "I do not believe they do, Lucent. Nothing they have said points to this."
Birds "Their church will topple itself, given time and opportunity."
Lucent shrugs, crossing his arms and making a face "FINE!"
Birds starts to steer the boat in.
Thirteen "If they knew, in fact, they would not need to search."
Zahara places a calming hand on Lucent's shoulder, "We must learn to choose our battles wisely, as time is one item we cannot replicate. We can return here after the war is over, to see what can be done about this corruption, however."
Thirteen "How, then, do you suggest pursuing this second Primordial, Cerin?"
Lucent "I know. But it rankles. We should be doing something about that *now*..."
Cerin "That will require a certain amount of thought."
Zahara "If you wish to learn the ways of diplomacy, you must also learn to let things go when it is not yet time to deal with them, so as to come at them with a proper plan at the proper time."
Thirteen "How long will it take for you to triangulate the position of the Seal?"
Zahara "Perhaps we can WORK with Atomnos."
Thirteen "I suspect that the Seal and the primordial exploiting the seal are not far apart."
Cerin "That would greatly help matters, yes. And yes, finding one will in all likelihood locate the other."
Cerin ((too many yesesseses))
Thirteen "And how long will that take?"
Thirteen "I suggest, incidentally, that you prepare for some rapid diplomacy. It does not take a strategic mind of the caliber I possess to hypothesize that they are preparing an ambush for us beneath the waters."
alsoquin The boat bumps up against one of the crystalline spurs gently; it would not be difficult to disembark from here.
Cerin "From hours to days. I cannot give you a meaningful estimate at this time."
Zahara ::If we take the seals we have to specific points will it assist you in triangulating the third?::
Cerin ::It would help, yes. If we can spend the time here, Avxios would be ideal, given both it's stability and central location.::
Zahara steps to the disembarkation point, and announces, "We are here to speak with Atomnos and his representatives. Contrary to your belief we are not here to destroy or invade, and we have done nothing of the sort, aside from deflecting attacks against ourselves." she announces to the world at large in a ringing tone carried on the peal of her Bell.
alsoquin There is cold, empty silence in response to Zahara's proclamation.
Zahara "I will wait for five minutes for a delegation. I hope you will respond with alacrity, as we have the means of ending your experiment and do not wish to use them at this time."
alsoquin The air is silent, except for the sound of the waves crashing -- almost musically -- against the crystals.
Thirteen steps off the boat and heads to Zahara's side, idly fingering his spear.
Zahara calmly and quietly marks the time.
Lucent counts the seconds. It is not that he is against diplomacy, of course. He /wants/ to learn what Zahara has to teach him, but... if no delegation comes... they will be able to be more decisive. More Solar. Simply burn what doesn't work...
Cerin steps off and stands by Zahara's side, red ribbons fluttering despite the lack of breeze.
Thirteen coughs. ::It would be as well to have at least one of us remain on the boat, both to protect against an ambush on us, and on the boat. I had originally expected that Cerin would be the ideal choice, but if he is bound and determined, perhaps Birds might do the honors?::
Birds ::Good point. Yes. I'll try to host any unexpected guests pleasantly.::
Cerin ::We can always find a second boat.::
alsoquin Four minutes have passed.
Thirteen ::Yes, but they may not so easily locate a second minion.::
alsoquin There is a sound, from a distance, as if of a faint musical chime, and one of the walls at the base of the tower unfolds into a staircase, leading downwards.
Lucent "They are not coming! See? See?" Mars shines even brighter, bathing them all in red light.
Zahara ::Lucent, you may yet get your wish.:: She smiles pleasantly and takes in the sights around them
Thirteen cocks an ear.
Lucent smiles. How can a child's smile be so demonic?
Zahara ::Now, do be as pleasant as possible. Their experiment, while unethical, may help us find the Seal.::
Lucent Suddenly, the smile fades, and he pouts. "Damnit."
Cerin (to Zahara) ::Is it just Zeniths?::
Thirteen ::No-one is coming up the stairs.::
Thirteen ::I suppose this is meant as some form of invitation.::
Lucent The coronal fades into his shoulders, and he seems to vanish, pouty and contrarian, somewhere behind Zahara
Zahara ::(to cerin) I have only known the two, but it does seem to run in the blood.::
Cerin starts to walk forward down the stairs
Zahara pats Lucent once more, and leads the way, allowing her castemark to glitter on her forehead.
Thirteen follows, taking the vanguard position.
alsoquin The stairs lead down perhaps half a flight before striking a wall. As Zahara approaches it, the wall itself folds downwards rapidly, creating more passageway and stairs for her to travel upon.
Zahara "Not exactly a delegation, but I suppose it will do." She strides downward, a hair's breadth above the stairs. ::I do so hope they do not think to trap us here. That would be unfortunate.::
alsoquin Once all of the Solars have set foot upon the stairs and progressed a flight or two downwards, the tail end of the stairs begins folding back up into wall again, leaving only enough stairs to allow all the Solars to proceed comfortably.
Zahara does not at all react to the closure, merely proceeding onward with her same, measured pace
Lucent ::This is beggining to feel like a trap. Why is Kai not here? I bet she would agree...::
Zahara ::She is on a ...safer mission.::
Zahara ::I felt it best for her to be in a place where she would not again be subject to capture.::
alsoquin The stairway goes down for a large number of flights, enough that descending begins to become monotonous.
Zahara finds the stairs to be so boring as to inspire meditation on other things.
Cerin ::We are now very deep below the surface:: Cerin notes ::I would guess at more than three miles::
Thirteen ::Be careful. Something seems amiss.::
Cerin ::We are nearly there, anyway. The stairs are slowing in their decent::
Lucent ::I am sorry if I am getting annoying, but I TOLD you so.::
alsoquin A few moments later, just as if cued, the stairs reach their end -- the wall, instead of unfolding, simply stops, and the faint edges of a set of double doors become visible within.
Cerin steps lightly off the stairs.
Zahara follows suit
Lucent does the same
alsoquin The doors push open easily onto a grand, domed hall. A pool, nearly a quarter mile across, of water fills most of the room, and from its center rises a great pillar of the purest black crystal, ringed with elaborate geometric patterns of gold. Strewn throughout the pool are other black crystals of various shapes, with the same ornamentation. (...)
alsoquin The pool is fairly shallow, and a careful glance shows that the water within it flows in from without -- the pool connects to the outside ocean through great waterways. A little calculation reveals to Cerin that the Solars most likely stand at the very bottom of the Quicksilver sea.
alsoquin A ring, perhaps ten feet wide, surrounds the edges of the chamber; nothing else appears to stir anywhere within.
Birds has been thinking. She rearranges some things on deck and dives underwater to tie the ship to a crystal formation. Pulling the ropes tight sends the boat under the waves. After making arrangements, she heads down the stairs.
Zahara quirks a brow at their lack of reception. "A lovely chamber, but I expected a proper reception." she says with mild disapproval. ::Is that the Heart?::
Thirteen sits by the edge of the pool, idly stirring the water with the tip of his spear.
Cerin ::I believe so, yes. That rock is Malakim, and more so, it is Atomnos' Fetich. His principle Soul.::
Birds taps Luc on the shoulder. ::Did we find it? Don't worry, I hid the boat.::
Lucent ::Yep, we got the Fetich right in front of us. I will try to refrain from killing it.::
alsoquin As Thirteen pokes the water, he notices one of the rocks move slightly.
Birds ::I think it wants to be friends, anyway.::
Cerin ::Please do so, Lucent. Although, watching it use it's combative magics would be an interesting sight. Or indeed any magic::
alsoquin The rocks, one by one, begin to rise up in the air. After hovering in place for a moment, each one begins to spin in a carefully defined orbit around the central pillar, moving faster and faster as it does so.
Zahara ::So do you think it talks?::
Thirteen "Hello, rock pillar."
Cerin ::I think that it will start to do so soon. Both the pillar and the rocks are the same being.::
alsoquin Huge flares of crackling white Essence shoot between the rocks, and they begin to spin faster and faster until the individual rocks are esentially invisible. The pattern of varying darkness and light visible in the slightly different frequencies of rocks passing through, repeatedly outlined by the crackles of essence, defines a vast, emotionless face.
Atomnos "YOU, CHOSEN OF SOL, STAND BEFORE ATOMNOS THE MAKER"
Zahara bows graciously as to one of nearly equal power. "Thank you for recieving us, Atomnos. It is a pleasure to meet you." she says pleasantly.
Atomnos The creature's voice is deep, but flat, without feeling. "WE KNOW FOR WHAT YOU HAVE COME"
Atomnos "YOU WERE WRONG TO COME HERE"
Zahara "Why do you suggest that is?"
Atomnos "WHAT YOU SEEK CANNOT BE HAD BY YOU"
Atomnos "IT IS ALREADY HELD BY ANOTHER"
Thirteen "We intend to remedy that."
Zahara "Then we must convince the other to return it to us, for it *IS* rightfully ours. Do you know who the current bearer is?"
Atomnos There is a long pause. "WE DO"
Zahara "Will you arrange a meeting between us?"
Atomnos "WE HAVE ALREADY DONE SO"
Lucent ::... I TOLD you it was a trap.::
Zahara "Are you the bearer, or is this meeting to come?"
Atomnos A single rock slows its spinning and hovers in front of the being's vast face. It is shaped like a hollow cage, and a single gold disc can clearly be seen within.
Thirteen ::Good thinking, Cerin.::
Zahara "Fascinating. And what are you using it for?"
Thirteen "I fear we will need to ask to borrow that."
Thirteen "Perhaps we may be able to return it once we have remade the world in our image."
Zahara ::Do not promise such things, this is MY seal.::
Thirteen ::I said perhaps.::
Atomnos "TINY CREATURES"
Atomnos "YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND"
Atomnos "THIS SEAL IS THE CRUX OF OUR EXPERIMENT"
Zahara "The experiment to discover the location of the hidden Primordial?"
Atomnos "THE GREAT WORK THAT YOU REPRESENT IS AS THE SHODDY CRAFT OF JOURNEYMEN COMPARED TO WHAT WE UNDERTAKE NOW"
Thirteen ::This may be a problem.::
Atomnos In response to Zahara's statement, Atomnos laughs a deep laughter that is somehow utterly, chillingly without mirth
Lucent "... you are with the Lily. You... you cannot... possibly mean you int... intend to..."
Atomnos "WE ONCE SOUGHT AS YOU SAY"
Atomnos "LONG HAD WE BEEN ESTRANGED FROM OUR KIN"
Atomnos "LONG HAD OUR EYE BEEN CLOSED"
Atomnos "BUT WE CAME TO KNOW THEIR PRESENCE"
Atomnos "THOUGH SHE LAYS TRAPPED IN THE BONDS OF HELL ITSELF SHE HAS COME TO US"
Atomnos "OUR ONLY TRUE DEVOTION"
Atomnos "OUR CYTHEREA"
Zahara "I could undertake to Summon her for you." she notes idly.
Lucent "The Mother..."
Zahara "So that you could be together."
Atomnos "THAT WILL NOT BE NECESSARY"
Zahara "I assume you mean to bring her forth from Malfaes permanently."
Atomnos with that, the Solars can see the very beginnings of black tendrils -- like those that surround the Qlippan creatures -- flow into the water surrounding the pillar
Thirteen "Let us compromise."
Thirteen "We may be able to offer you something of great worth in exchange for that Seal."
Atomnos "THAT IS DEEPLY UNLIKELY"
Thirteen "I have two offers -- your life, and hers."
Atomnos The mirthless laughter returns, even louder than before.
Zahara uses her essence sight to discern whether those tendrils belong to Atomnos, which she doubts, have the flavor of the Mother, or are of a third.
Atomnos It is the second option.
Atomnos "YOUR KIND THINK TO THREATEN US"
Atomnos "THAT IS GRAVELY UNWISE"
Atomnos "WE HAVE NO COMPUNCTIONS WITH SMASHING ASUNDER OUR WORKS WHEN THEY ARE FLAWED AND BROKEN"
Lucent "You wish to... destroy the Chosen? Or... Meru...?"
Zahara "We would prefer to deal in peace, of course." Zahara says, pondering the tendrils and what it means for the rest of the Yozi.
Zahara ::I think he means us.::
Thirteen scoops up a handful of water and lets it run out, drop by drop, into the pool. As he listens to the sound of the droplets, everything seems to recede, leaving only forces and goals, enemies and allies, until when the last drop is about to leave his fingers he clenches his fist, capturing it, and brings it to his lips.
Zahara ::Calm down, Lucent. We will handle this.::
Atomnos "WE DO NOT EVER WISH TO DESTROY ANYTHING"
Atomnos "WE EITHER CHOOSE TO OR DO NOT"
Atomnos "WHEN OUR TOOLS WERE FLAWED BEFORE WE CHOSE TO DESTROY THEM"
Atomnos "AND WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT WE CREATED TOOLS ANEW"
Atomnos there is another pause
Zahara "Why did you not simply purify your tools instead of destroying them?"
Lucent has taken quite a few steps back... ::Zee... what he is saying...::
Atomnos "A WORK ONCE FLAWED IS NEVER MADE WHOLE AGAIN"
Atomnos "WHY DO THE CHOSEN OF THE SUN STILL WISH TO WALK UPON THE WORLD"
Atomnos "ONCE FLAWED YOUR KIND SHALL NEVER BE MADE WHOLE"
Zahara "Are you saying you are not up to the task?"
Lucent "Because... because we are from it! We are HUMAN. We cannot just wish it to END."
Atomnos "THE TIME IS NOW FOR NEW TOOLS WIELDED BY NEW MASTERS"
Lucent "You are going to make another Meru... and what, Man, once again? Chosen?" He shakes his head... "We have beaten your brothers before. We can do it again. Wether you choose to or not will not matter!"
Lucent wishes he at least *sounded* like he believed that.
Zahara "Hmm yes, I suppose it is much simpler to simply start from scratch. I mean, it would take enormous power and skill to purify a 'tool' as you say. I am sorry to have made a suggestion that is beyond your skill."
Thirteen "And who will be these new masters?"
Thirteen "Tools have no power. Their wielders bear the responsibility for their failures."
Thirteen "Will you, then, destroy your new tools, when you find them incapable, and blame them for your mistake once again?"
Thirteen "I would hope that a Primordial would be above such petty self-deceptions, but I am not surprised to learn I am incorrect."
Atomnos "WE DO NOT DO THIS WORK FOR OURSELVES"
Thirteen ::Be ready to follow me when the time is right.::
Atomnos "ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE EARNED THE RIGHT TO WIELD OUR WORK SHALL DO SO"
Atomnos "YOU THINK YOURSELVES FIT TO SIT AT THE TABLE WITH THOSE WHO CREATED YOU"
Thirteen "But I would put a dish on the floor for them."
Atomnos "THE FLAW OF HUBRIS STILL RUNS DEEP WITHIN YOU"
Atomnos "AS IT RUNS WITHIN YOUR FATHER"
Thirteen "Those who are lacking often perceive self-awareness as hubris in those who are more capable."
Atomnos "WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TRUSTED HIM WITH OUR WORKS"
Thirteen "I ask this in all seriousness. Everything you have done thus far you have disavowed or regretted. What could possibly make you imagine that this time, things will go differently?"
Lucent snaps. "It is not Hubris. The Sun does not Wish. The Sun Is."
Atomnos "THE GUIDING HANDS OF OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS"
Thirteen "Your failure is preordained. Give us the Seal, and save yourself."
Atomnos "ONLY THOSE SUCH AS US ARE FIT TO GUIDE THE EVOLUTION OF MERU"
Thirteen "Fitness is proven in battle."
Atomnos "WE TIRE OF YOU"
Thirteen "If you think you are more fit than I, you are welcome to demonstrate it."
Atomnos "BEGONE FROM OUR SIGHT"
Zahara sighs lightly.
Atomnos as he speaks a massive bolt of essence, so bright as to be utterly blinding to all, flashes out of the pillar that stands at atomnos' heart and towards Thirteen
Thirteen grabs the Seal from his neck and thrusts it into the oncoming blast.
Zahara sidesteps, although it is not directed at her. She wouldn't want to be splashed.
Lucent places the Sun Orb before him, and it becomes the symbol of the Zenith. A single, flawless disc. Absolutely perfect. "You. Are. Not. Touching. Meru."
Atomnos The Primordial's unbelievably powerful Essence flows into the Seal around Thirteen's neck. The blind man feels an unimaginable pain as the Seal itself grows hot beyond all imagining, and the chain holding it around his neck instantly liquefies and melts, searing his flesh. Nothing of what occurs is visible to anyone (but Cerin) relying on the sense of sight...
Atomnos A sudden, powerful resonance kicks up as the energy flows into the seal, and suddenly the one held by the Primordial glows with a similar intense light -- which builds for just a moment before exploding outward, utterly shattering the cage of malakim-flesh that binds it.
Zahara swirls the Bonds from her waist in a spiral pattern, which neatly deflects the bolt, and shields her eyes from the blinding flash
Atomnos Atomnos screams in a horrifying, primal scream that shakes the entire plane.
Lucent widens the disc for all around him, closing his eyes... and praying
Zahara 's eyes widen as she sees what he has done, and the motion of her sidestep changes in a flash, the bonds whipping out to claim the Seal as it falls, cocooning it in molten silk
Thirteen "I told you so."
Thirteen whirls, heedless of the pain, and dives headlong into the pool, swimming with all his might.
Zahara pulls it back to herself, along with some of the rock that had previously held it, touched with gold.
Thirteen ::The time is right.::
Zahara shrugs and dives in after him.
Atomnos The black tendrils twist and turn through the water, grabbing at the Solars and trying to stop their progress, though Thirteen's seal is so charged with Essence that merely swinging it through the water carves a sufficient path for him to reach one of the water's feed tubes.
Lucent looks to Atomnos one last time... but did not need much incentive to jump after them, swimming as well as he could, what was not... very well, the orbs moving around even underwater, especially Luna, who swam like a fish to keep everything away...
Atomnos The crystalline foundation through which the tubes wind flashes in angry reds and blacks as the Solars swim out, though only Cerin can see well enough after the blinding lights to actually tell.
Atomnos Thirteen is the first to emerge, and as he does so he is confronted by a sight that is quite unexpected, but which he had planned for nonetheless -- the boat, which Birds had carefully sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Zahara ::I really must learn Third Circle Summoning, now that I've properly pissed one off."
Birds looks at her friends struggling. She grabs one of the Bonds around Zahara's arms and stretches it into a line. "Hold on!" She swims as hard as she can, leaving trails of white fire behind her feet.
Thirteen heads for the underwater boat and clings to it, trusting that Birds will raise it when she arrives.
Atomnos The black tendrils follow close behind the Solars being rapidly dragged to their escape by the ever athletic Birds-of-Trinity.
Lucent swims quite poorly up to it, hanging for his dear life!
Birds "Everyone grab onto a mast or anchor or something!"
Zahara grabs on to the Bonds and then the boat, and clings!
Birds cuts the lines holding the ship underwater. Now we need only lift it. "If you see a rope with a red flag tied to it, pull it as hard as you can!"
Zahara obeys Birds, which may be a first.
Thirteen "What does the flag FEEL like?"
Birds "Cheap cotton!"
Birds "When are you going to get some eyes?! I know someone..."
Thirteen "I promise that I will have this conversation with you at another time."
Atomnos Thanks to Birds' carefully arranged boat-hiding system the Solars are quickly able to unsink their commandeered vessel.
Birds **the above conversation was held mentally
Atomnos The boat reaches the surface, and not far behind the black tendrils burst out of the water and begin coalescing into a hideous form of some kind.
Atomnos There is what looks to be a tiny island not too far distant from the Solars' location which immediately draws Thirteen's attention.
Thirteen "Head towards that island."
Thirteen twirls the point of his spear in the water, then heaves it upwards, hurling a blast of water behind the ship to propel it forward.
Atomnos The ship skips rapidly across the water towards the small island which -- conveniently enough -- seems to hol a freestanding gate.
Zahara hangs on and enjoys the ride
Atomnos The boat breaches upon the island violently, since it's faster than parking carefully.
Zahara uses the inertia to vault neatly over the bow of the ship and run to the gate, keying in the sequence for a secondary island, near Lai's lands, and diving through
Thirteen grabs Zahara before she makes it through and punches the keys utterly at random.
Thirteen "Get ready to hold your breath."
Zahara blinks, and goes through the new coordinates
Atomnos The Solars dive through and arrive in what appears to be a jungle composed entirely of slowly melting wax trees. An ominous buzzing can be heard in the distance.
Thirteen spins and punches in the coordinates Zahara had entered.
Thirteen jumps through the gate when it opens.
Atomnos The new coordinates open onto a much more mundane island, and after the Solars quickly pass through the gate quietly closes behind them.
Thirteen "Let us...take a little time before doing that again."
Zahara "That was an intriguing plan, however. It came off quite perfectly."
Thirteen appears about to snap off a quip, but pauses. "Thank you. I am glad that it did."
Thirteen "Let us return to the Cascade. We have much to discuss."
wirrows "That would be restful." Birds punches in the coordinates.
Zahara inclines her head to him.
Tags: (:tags Atomnos, Avixos, Malakim, Primordials, Valeci, Eclipse Caste Seal, Sol Invictus, Cytherea, Exaltation Checklist :)