alsoquin Thirteen, with Kai (somewhat) in tow, has stalked down the hallway from the Eclipse chamber; a few moments later, Phoenix catches up to him.
Thirteen casts about irritatedly, looking for signs of enemies or trails to follow.
alsoquin The path is reasonably old, but Thirteen picks out traces of Lai's passage through the hallway, into a stairwell heading back down to the fourth floor.
Thirteen growls and follows the path.
Phoenix , walking above the ground so as to avoid disturbing the trail, pats Thirteen's shoulder. "Anger causes wrinkles, Thirteen." Apparently this is her idea of a comfort.
alsoquin The stairwell leads down and deposits Thirteen into another long hallway, this one leading north-south. Just before he walks in he receives a customary flash of impending surprise.
Thirteen bursts idly into bonfire brightness as he continues on his way.
Phoenix notes Thirteen's Essence display and follows it up with a more restrained illumination.
alsoquin Long, deep grooves run across the walls here, up and down, back and forth. As they walk into the hallway, Thirteen and Phoenix see two pale blue lights begin to glow at one end of the hall....
alsoquin With a sudden quickness, a bolt of crackly blue lightning joins the two spheres, and it shoots towards the Solars, the ends moving rapidly through the wall-grooves..
Phoenix reaches into the air and grabs two handfuls of smoke-and-gold ribbon, ready to catch the lightning and hold it.
Thirteen sighs as he briefly reconfigures the polarity of his body.
alsoquin The lightning shoots rapidly down the hallway, passing harmlessly through Thirteen's reconfigured self before catching in Phoenix's ribbon and sputtering angrily in place.
Phoenix steps delicately around it, shrugs at Thirteen, and walks on.
alsoquin As if in reaction to its obstruction, three more such bolts emerge from the same end and move towards the Solars.
Thirteen "How original."
Phoenix makes a raspberry noise at the lightning and shimmers as it passes through her. "Mm."
Thirteen sinks his spear into the floor and walks on as the lightning hisses and grounds itself through its metal. It wriggles slightly and hefts itself back into Thirteen's hand, the carvings rippling busily.
alsoquin The hallway leads on to the north, where one of the ever-so-familiar black doors leads into a tiny hallway that branches in two directions: east, and northwest. It seems like Lai went to the east from here, though Thirteen's surprise sense goes off again as he nears the door.
Thirteen casually opens the door.
alsoquin The room within is dark, with curving silver lines lining the walls, flowing in subtle, razor-thin patterns up towards the ceiling, where a thin disc of silver is all that marks the symbol of the New Moon. Something seems to be moving slightly along the walls, but it's hard to say exactly what... and the pale moonlight that is all that illumines the room does not aid in the process.
alsoquin As the Solars' light shines upon the walls, it's clear that the moonsilver patterns in the room are indeed shifting and flowing in some unobvious way as time passes.
alsoquin Thirteen notices that, in one area of the wall, the moonsilver patterns seem to be... thicker, almost as if an additional set of such thin lines of the silver metal have appeared on top of the ones normally present.
Phoenix "That's very interesting."
Thirteen heads over to the thicker pattern and taps it experimentally, while continuing to look for traces of the path.
alsoquin There's a pause of about five seconds, and then, the silver netting leaps out from the wall, shifting mid-air into the shape of a yeddim with the full intention of smashing Thirteen in the process.
Phoenix looks a little surprised but stands her ground, confident that Thirteen can deal with some frisky architecture.
Thirteen "I do not have time for this."
Thirteen walks briskly away from the descending monster along Lai's path.
alsoquin The yeddim, having been successfully dodged, transforms just before landing into a tiny bug and zooms out past Thirteen, proceeding down the hallway buggily.
Phoenix snickers. "Onward then."
Thirteen "Why have you come here, Lunar?"
Thirteen "We are attempting to conduct serious business."
Thirteen continues walking as he lectures.
Thirteen "Insects will merely get trampled underfoot."
Hieronymous transforms into a humanoid form -- a tall, slender dog-man body, clad in loose yellow robes. "I am here to claim the manse, jackal! Stay clear of me."
Thirteen "Where is your master, dog? Tell him to speak to me in person. I have no time for animals."
Thirteen idly shoulders past the Lunar.
Phoenix tilts her head to one side. "Are you entirely serious?"
Thirteen "We have already tamed one Lunar. Do not force us to remind you of your humanity as well."
Hieronymous transforms once again, into a Barbsting Jackdaw, and whips its long, jagged-feather tail around at Thirteen's neck, simultaneously soaring upwards and down the hallway.
Thirteen lightly bats the tail aside and heads down the side hallway, paying no attention.
Hieronymous The Lunar angrily follows Thirteen, jabbing uselessly at him right up until the moment that Thirteen's warning sense goes off one... more... time.
Phoenix follows Thirteen and the Lunar, giggling quietly.
Thirteen yells "Attack them! Now!" and suddenly vanishes, grabs Phoenix and vanishes again, standing abruptly back at the beginning of the hallway.
Hieronymous From down a nearby flight of stairs, a guttural voice sounds, and the sound of someone in heavy metal armor charging up stairs can be heard -- the Lunar turns and transforms into a cloud of bees that envelops the black-clad, scythe-wielding undead warrior who crests the stairs.
Thirteen turns around and casually strolls down the hallway.
Phoenix "This just gets more entertaining."
Thirteen "I am pleased that you find saving the world so amusing. It makes it slightly more likely that you may be motivated to do it in future."
Thirteen "Perhaps if I attached small pieces of candy to artifacts of great importance..."
Hieronymous As the battling Exalts tumble down the staircase, Thirteen notes that Lai both went down, and a short while later emerged back up, the stairs in question, and afterwards veered off towards the south.
Phoenix "Or kittens. Young ladies find kittens very amusing, I understand."
Thirteen "Our friend has been busy." Thirteen heads south.
Phoenix raises a brow and follows, and then, "I have never actually seen a kitten."
Thirteen "They are much like you -- adorable by sight, but devastating in their self-centeredness."
Phoenix "Ah, more kindred spirits."
Hieronymous The pathway leads southwards -- though as he walks down that pathway, he notices that Lai's trail leads further south, while a passageway easily visible to the right leads directly to the door unmistakably emblazoned with the sigil of the Twilight Caste.
Thirteen visibly wavers.
Thirteen turns and makes his way towards the Twilight door.
Thirteen "He must return here in time."
alsoquin The door slides open soundlessly for Thirteen; the chamber within -- the great spider bas relief upon the wall, the square sunset designs in black and orange, and the black slab of jade -- featureless except for the circular relief -- are all much like the other Solar chambers.
Thirteen walks over to the jade slab, running his fingers casually over it.
Phoenix leans on the spider.
Thirteen "Phoenix, will you do something for me?"
Phoenix shrugs. "Uh, sure. First time for everything, I guess."
Thirteen "If I seem...not myself suddenly, at some point, please restrain me. I believe it will pass."
Phoenix tilts her head to the other side. "Okay."
Thirteen "Thank you."
Thirteen is silent, waiting.
alsoquin Thirteen sits, glowing brilliantly and waiting ever so patiently for something to occur.
alsoquin Quite a few minutes go by until, finally, the sound that Thirteen has anticipated -- the moment he has waited for arrives:
alsoquin The door to the room slides open once more, and in walks the man with the grand destiny -- clad in his red uniform, his face haggard, his red rapier at the ready and the Twilight Caste Seal clutched in his hand: Lai Misuna.
Thirteen "Hello, Lai."
Lai Misuna looks at the Solars who await his arrival with a bitter stare. "Hello, Thirteen Blooming Flowers."
Phoenix "How do you do?"
Thirteen "How have you been since last we spoke?"
Lai Misuna advacnes slowly and warily into the room. "I have been about as well as you, I expect. It has been a hard year."
Thirteen "Well. At least it will soon be over."
Thirteen stands up from the jade slab and politely gestures towards it in an "after you" motion.
Lai Misuna nods. "You have been decent adversaries, at least, but your time is about to be over. My... destiny will be achieved this day."
Thirteen "It would certainly appear so."
Phoenix moves to stand beside Thirteen. "Be our guest."
Thirteen "Before we begin in earnest, I would like to congratulate you."
Lai Misuna walks towards the platform. He's holding the Twilight Seal, but he does not move to place it. Not yet.
Thirteen "Your service to Lai, and to his master, has been complete in earnest. Your actions have thoroughly and completely destroyed Zahara; so effectively that I now perceive it must have been your plan all along."
Thirteen "I confess myself beaten. There was nothing I could do to protect her in the face of such well-concealed treachery."
Lai Misuna stares at Thirteen for a moment.
Thirteen "Now I will have to face you without her, and die; and her oaths to me will be broken, and she too will perish, alone and helpless. You will have destroyed her without ever raising a hand to her."
Thirteen "I admire your dedication."
Lai Misuna "Cerin!" He shouts.
Lai Misuna "Show yourself!"
Thirteen adds aside, "Excuse me, Lai. We are discussing things."
Phoenix is going to get a kink in her neck. Today has been so very puzzling.
Cerinfernal In the corner of the room, where once there is nothing, suddenly there is something. A figure clad head to toe in black that shifts and flows. "Thirteen Blooming Flowers, such deceit ill becomes you."
Thirteen "Let us call it rhetoric."
Thirteen "For I confess myself truly baffled. My eyes tell me that your love for Zahara is more powerful than life itself; and yet you stand here, unblinking, ready to doom her to death, in the pursuit of nothing but naked power."
Thirteen "I have never understood you, Cerin, and now that I look into your soul I find I understand you less."
Phoenix tensely fidgets with the ribbons of her anima and tries to smooth out the places where they have twisted into branches of tamarisk and peony knots.
Cerinfernal "I know I cannot kill you, Thirteen, though I thank you kindly for the reminder. You do not have to die for me to defeat you."
Lai Misuna In the swirling fabric of the Tapestry, outside the borders of Meru, is something: a being. Once, he was called Esara-o, and Nijan, and twenty-seven other names, and he was an artisan, loved beyond all others in his world, a master of expressions never dreamed by any other. When his people were driven from their home, he rallied them and drew them across a great desert, and stood proudly as they made a new home together.
Lai Misuna Then he was cast down by his grandchildren, twisted and staked and chained and left hanging in eternal torment. Now he bears one title alone: Malfeas, the Demon City.
Lai Misuna Deep within his form lie those who were his companions, once. Like a shadow across the Green Sun is the one once known as Nyx, called by humans the Ebon Dragon.
Lai Misuna When they crossed the Tapestry in Exile, Malfeas was a great leader; Nyx was a child. He grew to adulthood in the Tapestry, away from Osa, his home... apart from all things that gave shape to the Ka. As such, he was always... different than the others; he never took on the morals and beliefs of his kin, and filled his mind instead with near-animal cunning. His cousins feared him, found him upsetting... but they tasked him with their escape
Lai Misuna Nyx had chiseled at a point in the Demon City for five thousand years, undaunted, mindless, like a feral infant. Malfeas had groaned, shifted with the pain, but he had continued on.
Lai Misuna Today, as he knew he would, he struck through... and a hole, no larger than a pin, opens between Malfeas and the rushing, churning Wyld beyond.
Lai Misuna In but a moment, the ebon smoke that is Nyx begins to pass through that hole, corroding and burning it, and Malfeas bucks and moans in pain anew... and then, he is through.
Lai Misuna And the firmament shakes. For Nyx huddled, trapped, in his prison; but he also lay astride Creation, tangled in its branches and gnawing on its roots... And as he flows out beyond his prison, his body writhes, his jaw snaps, his eyes burn.
Lai Misuna The world shakes, in preparation for his arrival.