SecondHerald , somehow doubled in its form, strikes with each of its forms against Zahara and Luc, angrily seeking their destruction. (...)
SecondHerald And in the distance, far far away, two tiny golden specks appear on the horizon....
Lucent "You are supposed to be getting SMALLER!"
SecondHerald The Luc-facing Herald grins and strikes with its fist, while the one over Zahara brings its staff across in a swift swing towards her midsection.
Zahara A quick flick of her wrist sends the Herald's blood onto the trailing edge of the bonds, which close around it for later examination. The same motion continued brings the blade, flat forward, between herself and the staff. She braces herself for the impact, her feet planting themselves firmly in the air, tracers of golden light guiding her blade. She almost speaks a quick prayer but discards the thought at the last moment. He is
Zahara He is not here, not now. Just them, and the Herald.
Lucent stands still, the Coronal's orbs becoming flat symbols for the fist to go through. Going through yellow, made slow, going through blue, made lazy, going through red and fighting every step of the way, all the way to gold. He held gold on his palm, holding the Herald's fist.
SecondHerald The staff crashes into Zahara's sword with incredible force, and even with the magic of her defense does not keep her from feeling the aching pressure shoot up her arms and rattle her sternum.
SecondHerald Even as the punch is stopped by his impassable skin, Luc feels the same insidious Essence that shattered the landscape work its way past his defenses, and for just a moment he feels as if his form will tear itself apart at the tiniest level -- but he pulls himself together and, with difficulty, forces the Essence back out once more.
Lucent The coronal falters, the symbols break, even the one at his palm. Lucent staggers, almost to his knees, feeling his form begin to unravel... until a sun bursts from his chest, lighting the darkness! "Hesiesh. I did not forget."
Zahara staggers back a step or two after the attack passes, lightheaded and shaky as even the deflected blow renews the pain of her wounds. Her breath hisses as she inhales sharply. "Keep smiling. You're not going to have a face to smile with when I'm through with you."
Cerin Cerin, on getting close enough to see the herald, starts to pick up speed leaving Varanim behind a little. As he does, he raises his bow and sends a trio of golden motes flying through the primordial void, reality trailing from them as they flash forward.
Lucent regains his composure, the sun focusing his form and cleansing his Essence, almost vanished in this dark place. He searches for Zahara, brightening to see her safe, and then, light! "CERIN!" It could be no-one else.
Varanim Varanim, who is concentrating on threading the disassembled world with every step, bits of reality coalescing below her feet and then flaking away as she lifts them, spares breath for a snort. "Sure, give the empress squeeze all the credit."
SecondHerald Both heralds turn to face Cerin with a grimace and swing their staves with visible effort to knock Cerin's golden lights from the air.
Varanim seems to grow larger rather than smaller as she approaches, addressing the Herald in a voice jagged with scorn and the crackle of Essence. "Pathetic! Where are your servitor gods, your corpses of dreams and unspeakable names? Brawling in the dark with your enemies like a drunk in an alley!"
Zahara x1;ACTION looks up as the Herald turns away to strike the arrows aside. "Cerin!" Tightly leashed fear at his absence turns to relief, which finds him in the Unity. She stands straight for a second, gives him a brief smile and a wave, then takes off running, pushing off the air and running up the Herald's back. She continues running after she has run out of Herald, does an unnecessary flip over his head, and slashes downward at his face
Zahara at his face - as promised. Her armory follows like a flock of angry ravens, their keen edges picking up traces of solar light in the darkness.
SecondHerald The Herald that Zahara strikes against grimaces as steam shoots powerfully from his new wounds.
Lucent grins. "He is just a Demon, a messenger, Varanim. Not the grand Primordial!" He watches Zahara go, then, and Saturn slides with the swords, shining violet all around the Herald. Violet that turns to real ravens, a flock striking at his skin. "But he will come. And when he does, he will hear your message." Lucent's hand comes down, and it is Alveua's hammer, ringing for the Ravens to strike!
SecondHerald Luc's Herald blinks in surprise as the last of Luc's strikes just barely pushes past his defense, moving even as he denies the very principle of motion to the Coronal, and strikes open a gash upon his side.
Lucent The ravens and violet shift into Saturn, "Give me back my reality!" The pocket-goddess complains before turning again into an orb.
SecondHerald The two Heralds both suddenly turn to face one another with astonishing synchrony, and in lieu of their staves, they turn to their other hands: as one, they once again bring their tiny horns up to their mouths, and blow.
Lucent snatches the violet-orb! "I do not like the sound of that."
SecondHerald The pain is the very first thing the Solars notice -- but the dissasociation follows close on its heels. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of Zahara's bell would recognize the feeling -- like the sound itself has tunneled in through one's skin and is slowly, methodically peeling back one's soul in small pieces. (...)
SecondHerald Zahara and Varanim manage to resist the effects, but Cerin is not quite prepared for the fullness of it -- and Luc takes the brunt, only the palpable force of the sun within him helping him to hold together in the face of the horrifying sound.
Zahara is halfway down as the sound of the horns hits her, and she is carried along on the soundwave for a second before plunging through it to the ground. She closes her eyes as the sound washes over her. So familiar. So alien.
Lucent The Sun is snuffed out from Lucent's chest as he screams in pain, falling to his knees, tears on his eyes as he feels that again, like before but without nothing to fall back on, no other mask to emerge after his self was destroyed, only his own remains. "Ah... aah..."
Cerin Or at least, that's what Cerin would have felt, had he not chosen just the right moments to move, slipping sideways through the waves of sound which threatened to hurt him, leaving him unscathed. And holding a grey cord.
Varanim Varanim, who has perhaps above average experience with the feeling of one's soul flaking away, extends her hand to indicate her dance partner Cerin, and spits the final word that releases the twin of his knotted spell.
Zahara touches the ground and runs to the boy, only peripherally aware of the Herald for a moment. "Lucent!
Cerin Cerin acknowledges the gesture with a flourish which undoes the knot in one go, sending the now unbound spell hurtling towards one of the Heralds.
SecondHerald As one, two packages of necrotic Essence fly through the air, one unleashed by each of the two Solars, and without warning each one strikes the form of one of the two Heralds. (...)
SecondHerald Two spectral Varanims are carved into the blackness, each a perfect void mirror of the Herald it faces. And though the creature's form itself is defined beyond all possibility, the force of inevitable death that comes to all beings inverts it nonetheless -- and though all other parts of its contradictory appearance seem to stay much the same, (...)
SecondHerald the tiny brass horns reverse themselves in a garish green color -- and the Herald lets out a surprised cry as it suddenly receives a taste of its own medicine -- steam bursts from every surface of both Heralds' skin, and the very darkness itself seems to shimmer.
Varanim Varanim's eyes flick almost imperceptibly fast to Lucent. "Balls to this," she says, and runs at the Heralds. As she flings herself through the space between them, she thrusts her soulsteel arm straight up. (...)
Varanim Skin splits and muscle sloughs off the bone in ropy strands which writhe higher, tangling with the lines of an Essence structure in her anima. Then her now-skeletal hand makes a fist, and all up along the left side of the anima, sunset-hued eyes jerk and droop like a stroke victim's. (...)
Varanim There is an instant of sickening silence, and then a faint keening howl can be heard, growing louder and wilder with every instant, as Varanim's po comes prematurely home.
Zahara takes a moment away from her concern for Lucent's well-being to notice the show with a faintly sick feeling that is soon entirely supplanted by fascination
Lucent lifts his face with tears of blood, flickers of the sun returning to his chest. "YOU. WILL. DIE." Is the first thing he manages to speak.
SecondHerald Like a rocket from the crypt, Varanim's lower soul, its edges ragged and its face a mask of unseemly horror, shoots across the sky at a speed too fast for any mortal to even truly appreciate, and the darkness seems to shatter and break apart in its wake. (...)
SecondHerald Both Heralds, weakened by the necromantic spell, turn to block its path, but it is not enough, and like an arrow through a ripe melon, Varanim's po smashes through first one, then overshoots briefly to smash into the other before arcing back to slam forcefully back into Varanim's body. (...)
SecondHerald The two Heralds have only long enough to look at one another and gape open their mouths before their very Essence begins to unwind and shatter into tiny pieces that begin to blow away on a newly-arisen wind.
Cerin "I'm not going to ask how much that cost you, but I do thank you for it."
Zahara blinks at Varanim and her Po, then turns back to Lucent. "Wish granted."
Lucent "And so do I." He walks slowly, holding one of the pieces and crushing it on his hand.
Cerin spends a few moments assertaining Varanim's Essential health, then runs over to Zahara, embracing her.
Lucent grins to Zahara. "Not a wish. That was a prediction."
Varanim staggers a couple of steps to the side and then sinks quietly to her knees, vomiting a bit of blood in peace.
Zahara chuckles, and walks carefully towards the others, until Cerin runs to her. She hugs him tightly for a second, then grimaces. "Ow."
SecondHerald From the hole that Varanim's po punched into the darkness, the oppressive and artificial obscuration begins to dissolve into the same steam that bled from the Herald, slowly revealing once again the underlying reality: still shattered by the Herald's actions, but present and alive.
Lucent lands his hand on Varanim's shoulder. "Thank you."
Varanim "S'nothin'," slurs Varanim, as she makes a wobbly climb to her feet.
Zahara finds a piece of real dirt and sits on it, tugging Cerin down with her.
Cerin needs very little tugging.
Lucent helps Varanim to her feet as much as he's allowed "We will need to correct our Essence before we meet the Third." He sighs, looking towards Cerin, "It hurt us where the chime left marks. It left us vulnerable."
Zahara rests her head on his shoulder. "That went wel....wait..."
Varanim actually leans on Lucent. "If the Third is coming anytime soon, I'd appreciate not knowing about it."
Zahara lurches back to her feet and searches the bit of whats' left of reality where she'd seen him last, looking for traces of his Essence. "Oh no"
Lucent "Imrama!" Lucent starts... and, just as he was about to run after their admiral, notices Varanim is leaning on him, shooting her an odd glance.
Cerin flows smoothly to his feet, also casting his eyes around for Imrama
Varanim "Shit," says Varanim wearily. Then she notices she's leaning on Lucent, and pushes herself straight-ish. "Roughly speaking, I'm even more good-for-nothing than usual right now," she admits about the Imrama situation.
SecondHerald Cerin casts his view around and after a moment, near the edge of the shattered space, he sees it: the faint Essence of their lost compatriot, amidst a group of bushes.
Lucent begins to chuckle at Varanim, then to cough, almost falling to his knees
Varanim grabs Lucent to steady him. "Stop that."
Cerin strides over to the bushes, and vanishes behind them "I'll be back shortly."
Lucent "I guess... even finding you funny is... ah... dangerous..."
Zahara nods at Cerin, confident that he will re-emerge with Imrama, and possibly Admiral Longwhiskers for good measure, runs her fingers through her gold-shot hair, then steadies herself. "What a mess." She surveys the landscape with a critical eye, considering an experiment.
SecondHerald What Cerin finds in the bushes is a horrible sight: Imrama, his uniform torn and dirtied, his Essence tattered and darkened -- and his skin turned a deathly grey.
Zahara feels Cerin's lack of surprise through the Unity, and seeks him out... only to see him standing over Imrama's darkened form.
Varanim "You can't handle my hilarity," Varanim says to Lucent, steering him toward the bushes in curiosity.
Lucent tries to reach Zahara, but, failing that, now leans on Varanim for support to get to...
Zahara "Oh... that's not good. Not at all."
SecondHerald Though Imrama's Essence shows that he still lives, it is about the only sign of such: in all ways, it seems that he hangs onto life by only the barest of threads, and some sort of horrific pollution fills the space that his healthy soul-Essence should flow through.
Lucent "..." Lucent goes pale. "IMRAMA!"
Zahara crouches next to him, and murmurs "Hang on, Captain... we'll fix this."
Varanim looks down at Imrama with neither worry nor delight. "Huh," she says tiredly.