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Thirteen Another tavern explodes, but it's unrelated to the story.

Varanim "Hm, the people were out of this one. That's sort of like progress."

Thirteen ''

Thirteen "I did not destroy that one. I have no idea what happened there."

Varanim "On the heels of my disbelief, a question follows: why DO you want your blue kitty?"

Thirteen "A small baby asked me for it."

Thirteen "What is your excuse?"

Varanim brightens. "It's for my mantel! It matches the steward."

Varanim "If you'll feel obliged to kill me if there's only one cat, or something like that, I'd appreciate knowing, is all."

Thirteen "I doubt the two are interchangeable, or they would not have different names."

Thirteen "If we find only the Lazuli Lion, then I will keep looking."

Varanim "Your optimism warms me; I suppose you'd apply the same principle to the wrong name shouted in bed." Varanim looks around. "Well, the Blessed Isle is a bit of a dump, but so's everything on this side."

Thirteen "It is the Underworld. I would not expect overmuch in the way of decoration."

Thirteen "It will take me an hour to find the route to our quarry. If you have a quicker method, feel free to employ it."

Varanim "Hour works," Varanim decides after a moment of consideration.

Thirteen walks back into the ruins of the tavern and begins sorting through them in a complicated form of haruspexianesque divination.

Varanim pulls up a piece of rubble, rations out some of her dwindling booze, and thinks or possibly dozes in silence.

Thirteen "The fall of this beam across the dragon-line indicates that we must investigate the third quarter..." There's a lot of mumbling and cross-referencing.

Thirteen glares at Varanim and takes the piece of rubble back, carefully attempting to place it where it had originally fallen.

Thirteen After about a quarter of an hour, a small group of lightly armed ghosts arrive, peering at the Solar with some trepidation. They find themselves standing near Varanim.

Thirteen "Excuse me," one of the ghosts says. "Are you...with...him?"

  1. SolInvictus: mode (+aoqo stryck stryck Cerin Cerin) by Gryphon.Magic Star?.net

Varanim watches the end of Thirteen's preparations and the beginning of the smoke with at least mild interest, herself. "Oh, they wanted to arrest us, or maybe just you. They weren't very focused."

Thirteen "Ah."

Thirteen "How fortunate for them that they did not."

Thirteen The remainder of the hour passes uneventfully, and at last Thirteen stands up with a sigh, and begins walking off towards the outskirts of the city, while the rubble burns merrily.

Varanim follows after a moment of warming her hands. "Get a bead on your next architectural nemesis?"

Thirteen determines that this is unworthy of comment.

Thirteen After a while of walking, the group arrives at a run-down building that has the sort of architecture one normally associates with churches. Four or five spectres are lounging around outside, but they begin to head towards the two Exalts as they come near, eyes glowing with malice and Oblivion.

Varanim "Oh, this part," Varanim sighs with obvious disgust.

Varanim "Back in a minute, need to powder my nose." And she sidles back from her glowing companion, trusting Thirteen to keep everyone busy while she finds a quiet spot to nullify any annoying cult energy being funneled into the building.

Thirteen shrugs eloquently and begins casually hitting spectres in the face.

Thirteen As Varanim's spell begins to take effect, a truly horrifying cacophony of obeisances begins to emanate from the ruined cathedral, before suddenly stopping. A crowd of angry spectres suddenly rush out the front door, only to encounter a bemused Thirteen.

Varanim slouches back a ways in the doorway she'd ducked into, content to let someone else handle the ensuing grumpy bits.

Thirteen violently disperses the gang of spectres with only slightly more effort than it took to blow up a tavern. After a few minutes, only one or two are left moving. Thirteen neatly corrals one and sticks it up against a wall, where it snarls and mutters at him.

Varanim chooses approximately that moment to come back, leaning on her staff next to Thirteen and glaring at the spectre. "Your craving for hollow worship is pathetic and your dark masters dress you funny. Now, how about the Obscured One? I absolutely one hundred percent promise that there is more trouble where this came from, if you're thinking of being cute."

Thirteen The spectre spits, but clearly decides that discretion is the better part of serving an unholy lack of god. "I am the Obscured One. May demons eat your eyes." Fortunate coincidence, right?

Varanim "As long as I'm done with them first," Varanim agrees amiably enough. "Now, if you're the double-O, where's the cat?"

Thirteen "The cat?"

Thirteen (the spectre asks)

Varanim "Bother. He's not the Obscured One," Varanim sighs to Thirteen with the air of one whose mediocre expectations of the world are constantly met.

Thirteen "Shall I destroy him?"

Thirteen The spectre wriggles. "I don't have it! I don't have it any more!"

Varanim "Hold on a sec," she says to Thirteen. She raises her eyebrows at the spectre invitingly. "This is the part where you explain where it went," she adds helpfully, since he's an idiot.

Thirteen (spectre) "We gave it to The Loss of Innocence!"

Varanim "That's a pretentious name, not a place. Keep trying! The glowy man allows between zero and two false starts."

Thirteen "Stygia! Stygia! He went to Stygia!"

Varanim "Big place. Where in Stygia?"

Thirteen "I don't know! How would I know where he was going?"

Varanim "Last one, then you can probably go back to your tedium unless my firefly associate thinks your tacky church looks too much like a tavern. What is Loss of Innocence--wow, the things you people say with a straight face--why does ol' Loss want the cat?"

Thirteen "Why does anyone want anything? For his master, I assume."

Varanim "Ugh, ghost 'philosophy.' Definitely done here," Varanim says, turning away and searching for her friendly neighborhood bottle.

Varanim "Oh, right. And his boss is...?" she turns back with a deeply bored expression on her face.

Thirteen The spectre takes this moment to attempt to lunge at Varanim, but Thirteen snaps its ghostly neck and it reconsiders.

Thirteen Reconsiders unto DEATH.

Varanim Varanim, for a moment, looks very tired. Then she takes a drink and smirks at Thirteen. "Darling, I hear Stygia is lovely this time of year. Do let's breakfast on the Boulevard of Something Something Flowery Gloom, and stop by old Loss' place for a spot of gossip and my damn cat."

Thirteen "I would be simply delighted."

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