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zahara considers her ancestor reflectively for a bit, glances around the room, takes one more long look at the spectre, and sighs. "I suggest we finish looking around while we contemplate how to free her... or if we even should."

Lucent "Well, it would be nice to have someone else who's new to this world." He nods, knocking on the ice.

The ancient ice reverberates with powerful Essence, sending a literal chill through the room as he does so.

zahara "Ah, well, if we do wake her up, I shall designate you to tell her all about how the world has changed."

Imrama "Ah yes, something like: 'Take note, madam; in this age, there are far fewer flush toilets, and also my siblings and I are not currently mad with unholy power.'"

Lucent "I was thinking more like, 'We took the world back; We are also doing a better job than you. We do accept your pledge of alliance and you shall be honored as part of the royal bloodline of Empress Zahara Zahn the first. By the way, that's your great-great-great-great-grandaughter. Or niece.'"

Cerin There is the sound of a footstep within the room, and the faintest sound of the crunch of ice as there is one footstep on the frost-rimmed floor. "And interesting suggestion as to a line of conversation, but unless you intend to wake her up immediately, I believe I have found something more interesting," Cerin says, as he walks silently over to Zahara.

zahara "I would point out that she may not be amenable to bending knee to us, as she is significantly powerful."

zahara looks up, "Oh?"

Cerin kisses her cheek before he replies. "There is an area of Creation, a little beyond your boarders which appears to be ... intermittently broken."

Imrama 's eyes widen considerably as he pivots to look at Cerin. Then he pivots back to look at the calm, collected Zahara, back to Cerin, back to Zahara, before giving up and settling back into his earlier posture and expression. "Good day, Cerin."

Lucent "Cerin! We have... an incredibly powerful Dragoness held on ice. She is Zahara's ancestor."

Cerin nods to Imrama, "Good day to you too."

zahara "Broken, you say?"

zahara slips her hand into his

Cerin "More powerful than perhaps you might think, Lucent," he sats smoothly. ::And on that note, perhaps we should withdraw a little to talk. I am not entirely convinced she cannot see us::

Cerin (( * and hear us ))

Lucent ::... she heard what I said? Oh.:: Lucent presses his palm to his face.

zahara ::Wise advice, as always.:: She glances once more at the frozen woman and says "Let's check out the rest of the fortress and come back."

Cerin :: Well, it is possible. She is ... complex, Essentially. With several charms woven into her being, some of which relate to perception. Were she sleeping a natural sleep, she would have heard.::

Cerin "Yes, I only had time to glance around as I walked to find you."

Varanim "Broken like a bone or a relationship?" asks Varanim, who had previously been standing stock still, leaning on her staff and contemplating the spectre with no evidence of hearing anything around her.

zahara nods, makes a formal gesture of farewell to Jinanna, and exits, stage left

Varanim points to the spectre, to herself, and then holds up her crossed fingers--you and me, like THIS--on her way out.

Cerin follows Zahara off the stage and out of the room. "A little bit of both," he says, passing no comment on Varanim's gesture. "It's the little things ... like gravity, the flow of heat. They occasionally fail to take hold, or act in reverse, although it is definitely not a Wyld zone."

zahara arches a brow at Varanim. "That does not sound promising, though it does sound fascinating."

Varanim "How does the Essence scan?" Varanim looks a little distracted.

Cerin "Oddly. As if there were something fundamental missing."

zahara "Where is this, then? Just outside the borders, but that covers quite a large potential area."

Cerin "Further Southeast."

zahara "Hm.. we should set a guard here."

zahara "I would not be particularly pleased to find out that we'd gone off to the... southeast... only to find that someone else had come here in the meantime."

The Solars arrive in the territory of the Rojesh, normally a thick, warm jungle region -- but even from a distance, the ice-coated trees floating some ways above the canopy show that something is... not right.

For those who can see Essence, the problems are even more visible: the very energy in the air seems sputtery and broken, while further into the jungle it roils and churns with a strange, alien energy.

Imrama "A great many things are wrong here."

Varanim Before leaving the Zhan fortress, Varanim disappeared for a bit to do a "warding ritual," reappeared with a faintly alcoholic smell and didn't say much on the trip to Rojesh. But she ambles out on deck to squint at the upcoming area. "Huh."

zahara shakes her head slowly. "How long has this been going on?"

Cerin "As best as I can estimate, several weeks now."

Varanim "Any spreading?"

Cerin "It is most definitely growing, yes."

zahara "Towards the Sunlands?"

Cerin "Well, not towards their heart, but it will definitely pass through them if it continues to expand as it does, towards the center of Creation."

zahara "One might say that Creation is... flawed... here."

Varanim "One might call it a lot of things. Some reason to pick that phrasing?"

zahara "Just so."

Cerin "There is a ... thing, which my predecessor called the Lacuna and which I saw as I fell through Creation. It is a little spot of nothing, and a flaw in Creation."

As Cerin speaks of the Lacuna, a sound rings out of the heart of the disturbed jungle, a sound unusually clear and distinct: the single-note sound of a brass horn, played loudly enough to be heard for miles around.

zahara gets a slightly avaricious gleam in her eye as she surveys the spot anew, before she is distracted by the horn

Lucent had been silent for a while, but finally speaks up, "So, to correct this growing... broken, we just need to fill the lacuna?"

zahara "It's not as easy as all that, or it would have been fixed by now"

As the horn echoes out from the jungle, it seems that even greater alterations of the world's rules begin to arise in the afflicted area: (...)

in one place, the ground flies up to form a new earth in the sky, while the spot it once occupied empties out to form a new sky-hole in the earth; in another, a cylinder of the sky changes from mid-day to darkest, star-filled night.

zahara "Talmuda was... working on correcting it when He died..." she looks askance at the new variations. "Must find that horn."

The borders of the area seem to be expanding, too; some of the border trees hop up into the air, or begin growing at a visible rate 1,000 times that of normal time.

Cerin "I am not sure if is a hole which can be filled. Even though I have seen it, as I saw it I could not tell you where it was, nor even what it was. Just that it was."

Varanim As she usually does at times like this, Varanim pricks a finger and drops blood in her eye to take a second look.

Lucent "That place looks insane..." He sighs. "Well, it is. So it can be affected. I think."

Varanim looks into the world of the dead, where she sees that the effects of this localized disturbance have spread even beyond the Veil. (...)

Ghost-fires have broken out in places, while the miasma that generally fills the air far above the ground has begun twisting itself into strange and arcane sigils that the eye refuses to focus upon. (...)

Those ghosts that live in the area -- for the Rojesh have left quite a few -- seem to be fleeing the area at the greatest speeds they can manage.

zahara heads towards the sound of the horn!

As Zahara walks towards the disturbance, the edge at which the normal laws of creation give out is clearly visible by the way all of the red colors beyond it have, in the nearby area, been replaced with bluish-yellow.

zahara tests the area with her anti-wyld charms

Lucent "Empress, are you SURE this is a good idea...?"

Imrama ::If she were sure it was a good idea, I doubt she would go to the trouble of doing it, Lucent.::

zahara ::Mmm, indeed.::

Varanim "You really only need one arm," Varanim calls helpfully, bending her gaze in a headache-inducing fashion on the patterns in the Netheos sky.

As Zahara puts her toe over the border, she can already feel the difference: there are tiny localized temperature differentials of intense heat and cold, areas that feel somehow... faster and slower, shifts in gravity, and other changes even harder for mortal senses to determine the nature of. (...)

zahara "Fascinating" she mutters

Her protection against the Wyld, however, seems at the moment to effectively protect her against the dangers of the area, though not from the bizarre sensations.

zahara "and sort of tingly."

zahara "I don't particularly recommend crossing the border without protective charms though."

Cerin kisses her softly. "Well then, I think I am going to have a look around," he says softly. "I'll be back soon."

zahara smiles and kisses back. "I expect a full report," she says with mock-severity

Cerin has already vanished

zahara steps back from the edge and takes a brief tour around the company. As she passes, their belongings, as well as their very selves, seem to become... more real. More solid. Stability trails from her fingers.

The odd trees seem to beckon to the group with their bizarre motion.

Varanim "And we're looking for this horn, because that's the most clearly dangerous thing to strike for, right?"

Lucent "Apparently!"

zahara "Because it controls it."

Varanim "Isn't that what I said?" Varanim is a little grouchier than usual, as the sky refuses to be read.

zahara shrugs, and steps fully across the border.

The full-body sensation is very strange, but it appears to be safe. As she looks further into the disturbance, the effect becomes both more pronounced and begins to shift over smaller spaces --

such that individual trees will tear themselves apart under conflicting gravities, or single parts of a bush will wither away under a rapid flow of time while others will stand stock-still in frozen time.

After a moment, the horn sounds once again, the sound having changed not at all since the first time it was blown.

Imrama As the sound washes over his company, Imrama closes his eyes and drinks in the tone carefully.

zahara tenses as the sound touches her

Imrama listens, and notes the direction of the sound; it seems like it's closer than the first one, probably not more than a half-mile away.

Imrama "I wonder...the source of the disturbance may be getting closer."

Imrama "Which should save us time, if not trouble."

zahara "ahhh how convenient"

zahara nonetheless treks towards the source of the noise, mindful of the apparent idiocy of her actions

In Netheos, the trees are much clearer than they are in the land of the living, and soon Varanim can see the into the heart of the disturbance -- the outline of an empty disturbance, in the vague shape of a human being with vast, infinite antlers, its size somehow unable to be discerned.

Varanim "I know that this is a long list to sort through, but do you people have many enemies with antlers?" Varanim says as she follows Zahara.

zahara "Not particularly. do you?"

Varanim considers. "Not that I recall."

Lucent "Only horns."

Varanim bends her thoughts inward for a moment, trying to recall if the outline is familiar from her studies or any of the faculty's ramblings.

A strange sound, like some distant cousin of the sound of someone pushing through underbrush, begins to come from the same direction as the horn sound did.

Varanim can remember three distinct stories about powerful, dangerous, and immense horned beings, but also sadly remembers nodding off during each of them because Professor Emeritus Jardis Humboldt is so dreadfully boring.

What was that he'd called that one? The Herald something? Hmmm.

Varanim "Herald what?" Varanim grumbles at her memory. It was very spiteful of the Professor to be that way.

zahara drags her fingers through a melting-freezing pool of flower petals, seemingly unconcerned by the danger she's walking towards blithely.

Lucent "The Herald. It was... from my time. It attacked... a place taken by Infernal Cults, oddly enough. Quite an odd creature, if I remember correctly... gold skin, billowing ribbons, seven rotating fires... things like that."

zahara "Hmmm I suspect we should contact the Western circle... as their predecessors have... met him before, if it is this Herald."

Imrama "I fear that Saraj and his company are beyond our reach, Empress. Not that I wouldn't be glad for their assistance, if this new threat is somehow related to the Herald their previous incarnations faced. If the story of 'Remember the Atzeret' was even half accurate, then all of Creation may be threatened."

Varanim "And so the plan here is...?" Varanim inquires reasonably, casting an eye to see how much closer the hole-apparition has come.

It seems to be advancing at a speed well above that of a running man -- although with the time dilation effects it's hard to be entirely sure.

Imrama answers Varanim's ellipsis: ::The usual, I'd say: if it'll talk, we talk, if it won't, we'll kill it, and if we can't, we'll run.::

There is a brief flicker, where even in the zone of strangeness the laws of creation seem to bend and break for an instant -- and then, a final horn call sounds, from just beyond the nearest line of trees.

Varanim "All of Creation threatened, and me without my shadow," Varanim mutters, leaning on her staff and regarding the treeline with an expression of mild anticipation.

The line of trees parts, as if of its own accord, and the majestic visage of the Second Herald rises up over it -- his body vast and muscled, tattooed in infinitely regressing marks of blue and red and yellow, and other indescribable colors besides; (...)

his eyes, piercing and sharp, yet expanding to fill your view with infinite blue-yellow maelstroms; great antlers of crystal and bone, extending out and branching more times than any person could count; (...)

a gnarled, twisted staff in one hand that seems to be longer than the circumference of the entire world -- and in the other, a tiny, utterly normal brass horn.

As he looks down over the Solars, so tiny beneath his bizarre bulk, he utters one phrase, in a voice at once like that of every person in the world, and yet unlike anything they've ever heard: "He is Coming."

zahara "Who is He?"

As if in answer, the staff swings down towards Zahara with a sound exactly like a thousand schoolchildren whistling in unison.

Varanim looks up at the immensity, the glimpse of infinity folding in on itself, and a tiny smile crosses her face as she whispers "Beautiful."

Lucent Lucent exits, stage left, Helios enters, stage right. Crossing his arms with a minitature orrery of the Incarna, he looks up at that immense creature without flinching. "What is your purpose? Prepare for his coming? Tell us of it? Scout for him?"

zahara 's blue jade daiklave snaps up, and she braces her free hand against the back of the blade as the staff tries to crush her. The two weapons meet, and it seems for an instant that Zahara cannot survive the blow. From the swirling dust, a voice calls back, slightly irritated. "Why must you vex me so?"

"The High One. He is coming. I prepare for his arrival."

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