alsoquin Luc rests, in the embrace of his own bed, for the first time since the Eclipse... and in that sleep, he dreams.
alsoquin Dreams... of a delicate young girl, marked by faint horns, and a hammer too vast to see.
alsoquin She walks towards him, but he is transfixed to the spot; behind her, ruins bloom with black flowers.
alsoquin She steps forward, again and again, until she pasases into a vast shadow that lines the ground, cast by the one building that yet stands... and as she does, the red-hot hammer sputters and goes out...
alsoquin 'til she cannot be seen. Luc feels the slightest brush of her fingertips against his chest... and one sound -- "Ssssssssh" -- like the voice of a young girl, but tinged by the buzzing of a thousand insects....
alsoquin And then, he awakens.
Lucent awakens with a start, her name on his lips. "Alveua..." He barely stops to dress himself, still adjusting his robes as he runs out of the door and into the cascade, looking everywhere for Zahara, who, he hopes, knows a fast way to the Imperial City...
Zahara is almost run over by Lucent, and she grabs him by the shoulders. "What's wrong, Lucent?"
Lucent "City." He whispers, not speaking loud, still focusing... "I need to get the Imperial City. Quick. She's there. And... and if that is still there..." He rubs his temples... "I need you to come with me. Please."
Zahara "She who?"
Lucent "Imrama... Imrama, come on!" He holds Zahara by her arm, and begins to run to Imrama's quarters, answering her on the way! "Alveua. Keeper of the Night. She smiths by the stars, she must be doing it now..."
Zahara runs along with Lucent
Lucent gets to Imrama's quarters, and knocks, still explaining to Zahara. "I had a dream of her. She was forging. But she should be dead... we killed them all, right? It should be all gone..."
Zahara "She should be dead, though I'm not sure that is a good thing."
Lucent "It isn't. She's nice. Even when she chips part of your soul off. She just wants to be nice."
Zahara "Yes... nice..."
Lucent knocks harder. "IM!" he says in that hushed-scream sort of tone
Codex answers the knock at his door, surrounded by a florescent haze of purple smoke. His pipe dangles from the left corner of his mouth, and he cradles his new friend, Admiral Long Whiskers the Third, like a sleeping infant. For possibly the first time since he first appeared in Solaria, his friends see him wearing something other than Askaru's Admiral coat: a white and gold dressing gown of the...
Codex ...finest Fairy Silks.
Codex "Hmmm?" He says through a half smile.
Lucent "I need to meet a demon! I saw her on a dream, she's on the Imperial City! I need to go there. Alveua! Pretty! A little shorter than me, even!" He nods, "Need to go now!"
Lucent stops his rapidfire, looks at the Admiral and pokes. "Who's he?"
Codex "This!" Imrama holds out the small cat in triumph and pride. "This is my furry friend, the Admiral...Now, there's a demon loose in the Imperial City again? A pretty, somewhat diminutive demon? Well then, to the Fable! Never let it be said that Imrama Stormfound failed to do everything in his power to get his friends and compatriots laid!"
Lucent blushes! "It is... not like that!"
Codex is already in the middle of pulling his coat on, juggling Admiral Long Whiskers as he does so. "Oh?" He blinks and chuckles. Tousling Lucent's hair with his free hand "Of course it isn't, young prince, of course it isn't."
alsoquin The Fable of the Reconstruction flies down from the sky, over the ruins of the Imperial City -- a ruins stained black with the blood of the first Primordial slain in over two thousand years... but that stain is covered now in the multitudes of rose bushes that have blossomed atop it... with roses of purest white.
Lucent smiles "White... we did clear it." He smiles. "But... Alveua was in a room with black flowers."
Zahara gazes down over her handiwork, and the roses that have covered over it. "Only Erevel is left, now." she muses.
Lucent "We shouldn't kill them anymore, you know. Can you feel it? The world was hurt, when he died."
Lucent "... and he was a complete and utter prick." He says, in a very unLucentesque way.
Zahara "I know. But we couldn't let him through, either."
Zahara "Besides, he should not have tried to take Cerin from me, destiny or no."
Lucent "We had no choice, of course. And he deserved it, of course. But we should not try to kill others." He points to the night sky... "There, the Shield. It looks odd now..." He nods. "You two are Eclipses... maybe you should go to Malfeas. We all should. Tell them we don't want them dead, and so they should behave."
Lucent "You don't want to be without demons, do you?" He winks.
Imrama steers the Fable with two of its draglines, while the Admiral sits beneath him on the deck, pawing at the dangling essence threads.
Zahara "We can't let them out into the world again either."
Zahara "Even if they promise to behave."
Imrama "A new peace between Meru and Malfeas. Sounds like a challenge worthy of the Sun's own diplomats."
Lucent "No, of course not. They would destroy us. Even if they tried to be nice." He nods. "Like her."
Zahara "We could possibly allow them to become Yozi.
Zahara "Reborn, but imprisoned. Though perhaps in... a nicer place than Malfaes."
Lucent "Or we could try to make Malfeas nicer? He was an emperor with his own sun once."
Zahara "The dead ones, I mean."
Lucent "... I was talking about the live ones!"
Zahara "Ah. Well. Let's find Alveua
Imrama hands the lines to Mr. Iggles-lux and goes to the rail to look down at the city. Where is that little girl with the enormous hammer?
Lucent "... yes! Are you seeing any place with... black flowers, still? You can see Essence, right, both of you? Could you pinpoint a place that is still... Infernal?"
alsoquin Imrama scans the horizon from end to end, until he notes one tiny bush -- the only one with black flowers upon it.
Imrama "There: the last bit of ebony among this ivory garden."
Lucent "She must be there, then! Quick! Before... before it's dawn..."
Zahara "I don't see any ebony there."
Lucent "... are you sure you saw that, Im?"
Imrama "Well, I have smoked a small fortune in sky-blossom hashish today." Imrama looks from side to side without moving his head. "So yes, I am quite sure."
Zahara points off to the west, "There!"
Imrama Heedless of Zahara's directions, Imrama orders the Fable to the bush he spied in the distance.
Lucent looks to one, then to the other, not sure which one to follow...
Zahara "Imrama, you're going the wrong way."
alsoquin The Fable sets down next to the bush, its black flowers striking a stunning contrast with the other roses that have blossomed on this city's grave.
Lucent runs out of the fable, looking around for her...
alsoquin Lucent hears a quiet whisper from somewhere nearby... perhaps just behind the bush?
Lucent pushes it aside. "Alveua? Is that you...?"
alsoquin Waiting for Lucent, behind the bush, is something... not a demon, not even the shadow of one... only the shadow of a shadow, the faintest image in the darkness of a beautiful girl... and a hammer now black as night.
Lucent steps closer to her... but he does not touch. Afraid that the merest touch would make that just... disappear... "I heard you." He takes one step closer. "I missed you..."
Zahara "Old friends?"
Lucent touches her hand, slowly, to see if she will disappear or not, afraid she will... "We... got together, once. Between the two times you first saw me. She created Lucent... together with the others. She chipped away part of Helios and put Lucent there. Before you killed that Lucent."
Zahara gives Lucent a funny look. "That Lucent was evil."
Alveua looks at Lucent with shadowy, faded eyes, for just a moment... then places her hand upon his chest. It feels like a cold breeze, at most -- certainly not the touch of a living being.
Lucent "He was. But she soothed Helios before he died, and she loved Lucent when he opened his eyes. And evil or not... love is love, right?" He nods, affirming that... sad at the cold he feels at the touch. "You are still beautiful, Keeper. I am sorry we had to do this."
Alveua The shadow seems to nod.
Zahara shakes her head a little, and looks down at the black roses. They are beautiful, in their own way.
Alveua Lucent hears nothing, but he knows what she wishes to say nonetheless... that she wishes for him to... give her something....
Zahara "Love is love, when it is not a lie."
Lucent gulps. "I... I am sorry, Alveua. Really sorry. But... do you still have that?" He asks, searching for it... pulling out the pendant. A pendant of brass and onyx, which he kept for so long, placing it on her cold hand. "Here..."
Alveua looks at Lucent with a visage of sadness -- he thinks, it's so hard to be sure -- for a long moment, and then places the pendant on the ground.
Lucent "I'm really sorry."
Alveua The shadow raises up the hammer with one swift motion, and then... WHAM! the sound it makes as it is brought down onto the pendant is no shadow, but quite real -- and unimaginably loud.
Zahara winces at the sudden noise, not expecting it
Zahara watches the results through the eyes of essence
Alveua Zahara watches as Alveua pours herself... herself and something else... into that pendant... as the shadow flows and pours into it in the wake of the hammer strike....
Zahara frowns at it
Lucent closes his eyes, but he does not pray. Heaven could not help her, after all...
Alveua The hammering continues for a moment, a little bit more of Alveua flowing into the pendant with each strike, until finally... the hammer comes down and the shadow is no more.
Lucent "Alveua? ALVEUA!" He rushes to it, kneeling before the pendant, catching it... "... where are you? I asked for it... why didn't you tell me? Where is my soul...?"
Zahara "She forged two things into the pendant, Lucent."
Lucent cries, holding it against his chest, trying to feel it, trying to feel her... "Is it here? Are you here?"
Alveua Lucent feels something that Zahara can make out, as she gazes at the pendant -- the shreds of the demon's soul, and a fragment of Lucent's... tied together and spread throughout the weave of the necklae.
Zahara "She made it so you would be together forever."
Lucent smiles faintly, holding it to his chest and whispering "I love you too." to the pendant.
Lucent "Thank you, Zahara, for making me understand her gift..."
Lucent "But... I need to be alone now. Before Dawn, before the last black flowers vanish."
Zahara nods to Luc, not letting her mixed feelings show. As she walks back to the Fable, she hopes her trust was well-placed.