Lucent The teeth and eyes of a beast assembled from Behemoths. The Sarcophagus of a beautiful Solar King. Those were strange findings, on the rose garden of the cascade, waiting a room to be prepared for them. They were still too dangerous unknowns to be taken to a museum... and Lucent watched them intently, without moving.
Lucent Learning finer control, seven roses floated about him as be plucked their petals out one by one. Learning strength, seven rocks floated around him as he chipped their sides, as an artisan gemcutting, and attempting to, once he was perfected, shatter them. And yet, his eyes did not leave the maw. And the Sarcophagus.
Varanim "How long have you been sitting there?" Varanim asks as she wanders out in her normal body, with the slightly feverish gleam in her eye that means interesting work is ahead.
Lucent His caste mark flares. "Five hours, twenty-four minutes, sixteen seconds. Seventeen."
Varanim "Hm," she says mildly, her expression suggesting she wouldn't have guessed he had it in him. "All right, they're your corpses. Where do you want to start?"
Lucent "Maw." He answers immediatly.
Lucent helpfully points towards it.
Varanim grunts in approval, rolling up her sleeves. "This will take a while, feel free to leave if you're bored, etc. You want to know where it came from, right?"
Lucent does not look like he will leave. "This is safe, right? No risk of backlash?"
Varanim "Worst I've ever gotten from one of these is a hangover." She considers. "Come to think of it, that may have been unrelated."
Lucent snickers. "Thank you."
Lucent "Yes, I want to know where it came from. Who made it, and why."
Varanim She settles into a seat on the ground, cross-legged and looking expectantly up at the great eye as if she's expecting it to tell her a fun story. "I'll see what I can do. Thanks for what?"
Lucent "Almost making me laugh. I was going insane just... looking at them, thinking of..."
Lucent "Just... thank you."
Varanim After a slightly uncomfortable pause, Varanim says, "You're welcome." Then she's silent for a while.
Varanim fills her vision with the rotting hulk of the Maw of Nine Dark Truths, the eye central before her. Then she lets the background details of the rose garden fade away, filling the space between with the nebulous mental workspace where she performs divinations. The clues available ring the corpse in symbolic form, and she shifts and tumbles those symbols in her head as she begins the...
Varanim ...meditation on the Maw.
Varanim casts her vision back, back in time -- past thousands of years lying, preserved, under the black water; past slow decomposition and Essence leeching; past the battle with the Exalts and the horrible piercing sensation of Lucent's deathblow...
Casts it back, to the flight over the empty desert; to rising up from the buried temple, its roof open so the sands might pour in; to slowly opening the great eye and staring up to the sky with the first ounce of newly-wrought life, to -- FLASH.
Varanim rocks back a bit at the final moment of revelation, rubbing her forehead and fumbling a flask from one pocket for a quick drink. Then she half-turns to Lucent, ticking off points on her fingers. "In the order I saw it: rotting is boring, dying hurts, Exalts in battle are shiny, and... it first saw anything in a buried temple, roof open to the sands."
Varanim has a sudden, seizing experience, as what seems like a flash of... grey? -- overwhelms her senses, and all throughout it, intertwined in brief, almost contextless flashes, second-long pieces of the grotesque and vile -- still-bleeding limbs sawn apart, eyeballs plucked and crushed in hand, viscera and gristle spread across a table.
There's something there, something... what is it? It's there, somewhere... flashing, blaring, assaulting... and as the pieces of meat are drawn together, that flash seems to animate them, join them together... it is only as the last flaps of rotting flesh are sewn together that the painful flashing stops and the great eye yawns open.
Varanim "The rest of it," she adds after another drink, "is pretty gross even by my standards. But it wasn't stuck together with necromancy, at least any kind I know."
Lucent breathes an immense sigh of relief, stopping and the drink and caressing her face.
Lucent "Sorry that you have to see that..."
Varanim "You're apologizing for me doing my job? Such a strange boy." There's a brief glint of humor in her eyes as she takes his hand to remove it from her face, squeezing briefly before she lets go to finish her drink.
Varanim "In fact," she muses, eyes distant as she replays the memory, "it wasn't put together by anything I recognize, I think. Some kind of flashing directing energy..."
Lucent "Hmmm. So, just like we thought." He looks at the sky. "This is something new."
Lucent looks askance at the bones, then. "Think... you can, now? I will understand if you are too shaken. I really will."
Varanim casts Lucent a flatly incredulous look. "And listen to you lying awake worrying about them for another night? Please." She stands a little stiffly and stalks over to the sarcophagus, looking down and cracking her knuckles.
Lucent just gives a wordless sigh and a smile to that.
Varanim lifts her hands and the Essence pattern coalesces in the air, almost blindingly fast--connotation, possibility, hazy links between symbols representing Lucent, deception, duplication, mystery--fusing into a cage of golden light around the bones and the secrets of their previous owner.
Lucent lets his Essence fall about Varanim like reassuring hands on her shoulders.
Varanim sees the origin of the bones -- for before, they were a living god, not a mere thing -- as a body, unmistakably that of one Lucent Copper Haze, lying on its back upon red sands, just one moment dead --
the red blood that flows from his chest dripping down to merge with the red sands, the blue sword, its handle wrapped in black cloth and two tassels blowing on the wind, still stabbed straight through his chest.
Varanim sees the woman from the tomb as she walks over from over the nearby dune and stands over his body, seeing the trail of blood stretching off into the distance from where Lucent slowly crawled his way here,
lines of tears wetting her cheeks but a look, not exactly of sadness, but more... resignation, mixed perhaps with a touch of pride.
She sees the Kashaen, come to kneel in sadness before their leader's body; she sees a few others, watching, from far off dunes, not wishing to come too close, the hoods pulled up to cover their faces their only identifying marks: black, green, white, red.
She sees the foundations of the tomb laid, at the exacting direction of the silver woman -- and she can make out, perhaps, now, the slightest hint of silver spiderweb tracery upon her skin, delicately inked in the finest of lines -- and then, a beast of burden arrives with the sarcophagus...
The Kashaen gently lower the body in, and the woman, smiling, just slightly, leans down to kiss his forehead -- then the lid is closed, and the vision ends.
Varanim "Well, there was a body," Varanim says after a long moment and a deep breath. "Looked just like you would with a big blue sword sticking out of your chest, can't see who did it. Crawled a ways, didn't make it to wherever. After the end, the same woman who laid out the tomb was there with the Kashaen--silver work on her skin, might want to check that out."
Varanim "She looked like, hm, something regrettable but necessary had been done. Not surprised. The Kashaen were pretty broken up." Varanim finishes speaking in a clipped tone and dusts her hands off as if bits of the past were clinging to them, not looking up at Lucent. "And now I'm going for a drink."
Lucent "Right. Thank you." Lucent is looking at the bones, without looking at her, waiting for her to go.
Varanim starts to walk away, pausing as she passes by Lucent to lay a hand briefly and wordlessly on his shoulder.
Lucent holds her hand for a moment that seems like forever. But, as soon as she is past him, he regards the bones. "So. YOU are real, after all."