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  • Birds is looking over some battle plans and nodding as if extremely interested and also comprehending what is going on, as Thirteen discusses them.

Thirteen: "As you see, by maintaining flexibility in our command structure, we eliminate even the possibility of being outmaneuvered. Flanking has no meaning to us. Thus we may easily lead our opponents into attacking us where we are strong, thinking we are weak."

  • Kai bursts violently into the room. She is wearing only a short robe, her raven hair is soaking wet--she is clearly straight out of a bath, but she is carrying a sheathed Daybreaker with her. "Shit! Shit! Fucking shit!" she shouts, clearly quite upset.
  • Birds looks up at Kai. "Kai?"

Kai: "I figured it out! It's been bothering me since we found Alahwi, and I finally figured it out!"

Birds: "You think we can imitate this structure in our modes of personal combat as well? I have been examining the sword manuals of...bothering?"

Thirteen: "What have you determined, Kai?"

Kai: "No, Birds, I--look, you're Alahwi. I mean, you're LIKE her, all sweet and shiny and bright, right?"

Kai: "And Cerin is like Ymir, all brave and brooding."

Birds: "...yes..."

Kai: "Rosada--Rosada's a gruff bastard at best, and a mad-eyed killer at worst. I'm not like him at all. Once we found Alahwi, I started to wonder about that... And what it said about me... but I just put it together!"

Kai: She holds up Daybreaker, "Quenched in the blood of Ularis! That's what the sword says. The sword that traps souls! And Zahara said Ularis was a great warrior, and also a dancer and such. He was a performer, like I am, I'm a singer. I'M LIKE HIM!!"

Birds: "I think we should all sit down."

Kai: "Rosada is the Lion BEFORE he's exalted! The sword takes Ularis's soul and GIVES IT TO ROSADA, forcably!"

  • Kai , frenetic, resists all attempts at seating.
  • Birds does so, assimilating this.

Kai: "He's a false solar."

Thirteen: "What does this mean?"

Kai: "Rosada was part of the Perfect Circle, he was the most powerful Dawn in the Deliberative... And he set himself up to be there. It was a lie the whole time. It was part of the plan." Now, finally, she sits, her energy exhausted.

Birds: "Does that mean you also have Ularis's soul?"

Thirteen: "Are you suggesting that Rosada took Ularis's soul and his Exaltation with it?"

Kai: "Yes! Ularis, who served under Talmuda, and who was a great warrior and NOT EVIL."

Kai: "I think he did."

Thirteen: "Do you think he was another type of Exalt before, or merely a mortal?"

Birds: "I don't really want to suggest taking apart the Daybreaker, but, I think this means we should reexamine it."

Kai: "Well, it may be that he was a Deathlord by then."

  • Kai looks at Birds. "Actually, the whole thing seems a lot more straightforward now. It stores souls, and it was made to do just that."
  • Kai 's eyes widen. "Shit. Shit! That's why Lai wanted the sword!"

Thirteen: "For the Exaltation process?"

Kai: "Kiriath killed Rosada with THIS SWORD to put his soul shard back in it! So that he could be reborn in this age, but I interrupted the process!"

Kai: "It makes sense now!"

Kai: "But then..." she looks up, "I'm sorry, Birds, is there anything to eat? I'm suddenly very hungry."

Birds: "Yes, of course." Birds looks distant for a moment and Smoking Mirror soon flies in with a basket of fruits and cold meats.

  • Birds takes a kebab herself and bites down on it thoughtfully.
  • Kai wolfs down two apples and half a sausage before she is ready to speak again.

Birds: "Thirteen, did we tell you about the Shadowed Unlife Equation?"

  • Thirteen takes an orange and bites into it, tracing a finger in intricate patterns over the table.

Thirteen: "I don't believe so, no."

Thirteen: "Something to do with the plague of undead?"

Birds: "I seem to remember that Lai and the Lion both had some connection to it. It is a Malfean."

Birds: "Yes, the plague was its doing."

Thirteen: "So. The Lion produced the Shadowed Unlife Equation as a distraction to assist Lai."

  • Birds makes a little sandwich out of melon chunks and bacon.

Thirteen: "The Equation is a Malfean. Lai, meanwhile, is working for a Yozi."

Thirteen: "The Lion used to be Rosada. Rosada was going to be reborn in this age, through Daybreaker..."

Thirteen: "But Kai intervened."

  • Kai nods vigorously.

Birds: "Hell and the Underworld working together?" Birds feigns shock. "Un THIN Kable?. Scandalous! Impossible."

Birds: "But, where is Rosada now?"

Thirteen: "Yes. Precisely my question."

Kai: "Back with his old comrade, I would guess."

Thirteen: "And what did they want him for? Merely to assist in their designs? Or is he essential to their purpose?"

Kai: "Or possibly part of the conspiracy. Now we know that he and whatever posessed Kiriath were in close league."

  • Thirteen swallows the rest of the orange and grabs a piece of paper, scribbling in a sharp foreign language. "But what did they intend, that they needed more than an age?"

Kai: "To break the seal of the Deliberative."

Thirteen: *scribble* "What is that?"

Kai: "The seal lays down a set of laws, one of which is--must be--that no new Solars are being made, that's why none reincarnated until it was broken."

Thirteen: "When was this seal broken?"

Kai: "Once the seal is broken, they can use the Caste Seals to rewrite the laws how they please. They just need to wait for the end of the First Age, so there won't be any solars left to stop them."

Kai: "When the empress took the Dawn Seal out of Creation. Five years ago."

Thirteen: "Hm."

Thirteen: "I reached my power ten years ago."

Thirteen: "At least."

  • Kai blinks.

Thirteen: "However, I may be an exception."

Kai: "What?"

Thirteen: "Please clarify which part of my statement you would like explained in further detail."

Kai: "Uhm, the part where you exalted ten years ago part."

  • Birds nibbles on a bunch of grapes.

Thirteen: "It is as I said. I rose into my place as Wei Dan's returned soul twelve years and five months ago."

Kai: "Oh. Uhm, how? I mean, where there some strange circumstances about it?" She adds: "I mean, relatively strange?"

Thirteen: "This explains much."

  • Thirteen sets aside his pen.

Thirteen: "I have something to tell you both."

  • Kai takes another sausage.
  • Birds does the same.

Thirteen: "I tell you this in faith that you will hold it in confidence, and give me a brother's trust."

  • Thirteen nerves himself, reaches up, unties his blindfold, and sets it aside.
  • Birds nods.
  • Kai smiles and nods at him.
  • Thirteen has no eyes. His face, between his nose and his hairline, is a flat, featureless expanse.

Thirteen: "When I say I traveled far to reach you, that is perhaps an understatement."

  • Kai blinks, then feels bad about blinking but can do nothing abouti t.
  • Birds raises an eyebrow, and, for thirteen's benefit, makes a 'hmm' noise.

Thirteen: "My people are known as the Heartwood Spearfolk. They live in a world much different from this, in the center of a great tree we call Wasirru."

Birds: "Understatement does not become our kind, Thirteen Blooming Flowers, but I won't hold it against you."

Thirteen: "When I was a child, I excelled in all forms of war, even beyond my age."

Birds: "...wait, you are from another world? How did Exaltation find you there?"

Thirteen: "This is a good question."

Thirteen: "Now that I know that Solars were forbidden in Creation until five years ago, it is perhaps easier to answer."

Birds: "So you're about to suggest that the Exaltations that were in the outer worlds remained there."

Thirteen: "Hm."

Thirteen: "That is also a possibility."

Kai: "Or that one could be, uhm, induced?"

Thirteen: "I actually intended to suggest that perhaps someone was deliberately attempting to bypass the seal and create Solars despite their banishment."

  • Birds accepts a platter of more substantial foods from a servant, who must have observed Mirror delivering snacks.

Thirteen: "As far as I know, only the Unconquered Sun could take such an action."

Birds: "That is equally fascinating," Birds observes, taking a leg of lamb.

  • Kai also eats absently as she listens, trying not to stare at Thirteen's disrupted countenance.

Thirteen: "All three options are potentially true."

  • Thirteen casually takes a lamb chop in his hand and eats it as he talks.
  • Kai rattles Daybreaker. "There are other avenues..."

Thirteen: "Who can say?"

Birds: "Why would our old man in Heaven do that?"

Birds: "I was under the impression that he did not look fondly on his children, in this Age."

Thirteen: "Unfortunately, at the time, I did not have the presence of mind, or motivation, to further investigate the occurrences of my Exaltation."

Thirteen: "In fact, I do not know precisely when it occurred."

Thirteen: "I assume that my power came to me when I underwent my ordeal of the tree."

charlequin: Birds-of-Trinity suddenly has another flash of memory!

Thirteen: "But it is always possible that I survived that through my own strength, and not through the divine power I now possess."

Birds: "In imitation of Wei Dan, or of your own accord?"

Thirteen: "In every generation, the most promising son is sent to undergo the ordeal, in the hopes that in this way, the Dragon God, Wei Dan, will return to his people."

Thirteen: "I am the first to return."

charlequin: She remembers the process -- tying a rope around her own feet, letting go with her hands, and hanging upside down -- looking down far below at a man with a wide-brimmed hat and a long spear, smiling devilishly up at her.

  • Birds twirls the lamb bone around her fingers, like a pen. "Yes, indeed, your epic will be a grand one."

Kai: "So... Wei Dan was... a god? Or merely a solar who seemed like one?"

Thirteen: "Solars are gods, are we not?"

Thirteen: "We stride the earth and crush mortals beneath our heels. Even the other gods pale before our power."

Thirteen: "If any deserve to be called gods, it is we."

Kai: "So... Wei Dan's soul waited there, outside creation?"

charlequin: Birds sees a now-familiar smile play at the corner of Thirteen's mouth as she shakes awake from her brief reverie.

Thirteen: "I cannot say. Is it possible? Certainly. Is it certain? There are too many other...possibilities to be sure."

Kai: "I'm sorry, I don't mean to keep interrupting, go on. I'll hush up now."

Thirteen: "Don't feel uncomfortable. Your statements reveal a wealth of knowledge I do not possess."

Kai: To prove her commitment to silence, Kai fills her mouth with a buttered roll.

Thirteen: "I left my people after my ordeal. Wei Dan, after all, traveled far. I thought I might find the strength to save them in my travels."

Thirteen: "Have you heard of the Passage of Stars?"

Birds: "The name...rings a bell, a faint one."

Kai: "Ymir and Cerin took it to Bialla" Kai says around the roll.

Birds: "Cerin talks about it, I think."

Thirteen: "It is a portal between the planes. The entrances constantly move, both from plane to plane and within each plane."

Thirteen: "I took this passage. I did not know I would not be able to return."

Thirteen: "Since then I have wandered the planes, always seeking the passage whenever it appeared in the hopes that it would return me to my people."

Thirteen: "I have traveled ten years."

  • Thirteen pauses, and his mouth twists wryly. "I had no idea that such devices as that...Gate existed."

Kai: "Cerin took the Passage to Bi'allah once. I'm sure he and Zee could figure it out."

Thirteen: "I believe the Gates provide plane-to-plane travel. I am sure that with investigation I could easily return to my home plane."

Thirteen: "However, I find myself loathe to leave my siblings."

Thirteen: "And I have sworn to win this war."

Birds: "I would not want to leave your people in doubt about your return excessively; perhaps, now that you have the key, you should pay them a visit."

  • Thirteen swallows a lamb bone, slides another lamb shank into his mouth and begins writing again.
  • Kai looks squarely at him. "I promise you, we will not let your people suffer, so much as it is in out power to prevent."
  • Thirteen reaches out and clasps Kai's hand briefly.

Thirteen: "My thanks, Kai Buckthorn. I owe you the favors due an ally and a sister."

  • Kai smiles at him. "I am pleased to have such a brother."

Thirteen: "I would, Birds-of-Trinity, but I fear we lack time. Have you noticed that, despite Zahara Zhan's purported diplomatic immunity, she seems to have no meaningful protection from the Fair Folk and the gods?"

Thirteen: "I wondered at first what was causing this."

Birds: "Ever the strategist. I hadn't remarked on it, but I see that you're correct."

Thirteen: "Now it is clear."

  • Birds wonders aloud about wine.

Birds: "Clear? When the time presents itself, as it happens, I'd like to see Wasirru."

Thirteen: "With the breaking of the pacts that were bound by the Solar Deliberative, nothing prevents the gods, the demons, the Underworld, or the Fair Folk from assaulting Creation."

Thirteen: "Even a day is time I cannot now afford to take away from my plans."

Birds: "...I think there is something about that place. It need not be said, but you have my promise as well."

  • Thirteen clasps Birds's hand more casually. "And you have my thanks. I will certainly take you to see Wasirru when time permits."

Thirteen: "I am sure the help of my siblings will be invaluable in driving out the Bone Dagger Kings."

Thirteen: "How may we restore the pacts of the Deliberative?"

Thirteen: "This is, after all, our ultimate goal."

Birds: "Well, the first step is most obvious."

Kai: "Well, I THINK we need to gather all the seals, then we get to write a new set of laws. I think that's what the enemy's plan has been this whole time."

Birds: "And all this time we were chasing the tools of Exaltation."

  • Thirteen pauses in the middle of a pen stroke.

Birds: "Oh well."

Birds: "Easy come, easy go."

Thirteen: "Your wisdom humbles me, Kai. That is of course their design."

Thirteen: "In fact, that explains their need for Rosada as well. Obviously they require a Perfect Circle under their control to reconvene the Deliberative."

Birds: "Speaking of perfection."

Birds: "We are not a perfect Circle ourselves."

Thirteen: "This is true."

Kai: "But we did meet one..."

Thirteen: "Oh, did you? I seem to recall Zahara mentioning them in passing."

Thirteen: "What sort of circumstances did you encounter them in?"

Kai: "Uhm, passing, actually. Out on the sea... There was a flock of aalorai nearby, so we couldn't linger."

Thirteen: "What were you doing there? More to the point, what were they?"

Kai: "Well, WE were seeking elemental water for the exaltation process. I'm not sure what they were doing... But if they were with the Lily, they'd already have the process..."

Thirteen: "Hm."

Thirteen: "It is staggeringly unlikely that one circle of Solars would bump into another near the elemental pole of Water completely by chance."

Birds: "So we really should, uhm, accost them."

Thirteen: "Perhaps they were looking for you."

Thirteen: "Do you possess any of the seals?"

  • Kai blinks. "Or... Perhaps they were looking for Rosada's pendant."

Thirteen: "Ah. And you have that?"

Kai: "We found it there, at the pole."

Thirteen: "Ah."

Thirteen: "And what does it do?"

  • Birds coughs.

Kai: "It's... Well, I mean, it makes you kind of more... impressive?"

Thirteen: "It strengthens your ability to sway others?"

Kai: "Uhm, yeah, That's it."

Thirteen: "Hm."

Thirteen: "Perhaps we should examine it at length. With Cerin and Zahara's help, no doubt."

Kai: "Perhaps I should."

Thirteen: "If they pursued it, they must have had a reason. Contrariwise, if we find that it has great importance, it makes it more likely that they were pursuing it."

Thirteen: "My apologies, Birds. I agree entirely."

Thirteen: "Finding these Solars should be a priority."

  • Thirteen absentmindedly takes a flower from the decorative arrangement on the tray and begins eating it.
  • Birds doesn't comment on the flower thing. "You should also consult with Cerin about the secret, and have him bespeak me if you need to make any suggestions regarding it."

Thirteen: "Do you have any ideas as to the locations of the seals?"

Thirteen: "We must secure at least one as our immediate priority."

Kai: "Done and done."

Thirteen: "Oh, yes?"

Thirteen: "I will, Birds-of-Trinity. Good luck."

Birds: "Thank you."

Kai: "We have one of the seals, it was with Ymir's body when Cerin found it... uhm, her."

  • Thirteen exhales, releasing unexpected tension. "Excellent. They can do nothing without capturing it from Cerin."

Kai: "For better or worse."

Thirteen: "He is perhaps the most self-sufficient among us. Perhaps it is best that he is the last stand between the enemies and oblivion."

Thirteen: "Thank you for this discussion, Kai, Birds. It has been most enlightening. I must plan."

  • Thirteen reaches for a new piece of paper, slipping yet another lamb shank into his mouth.
  • Kai gets up. "I'm going to go dress. Then I'll gather Cerin and Zahara, and we can go over this with them."

Thirteen: "An excellent idea."

  • Birds nods, "Mm," and stands up, taking a last meat pastry. Crunch. "Yes, it has. When you have a chance, stop by my library and read the black-and-copper book you will find there." She walks to a window. "I'll leave you to your plans. Kai, get something warm to drink or you will catch cold."
  • Kai smiles to them as she slips out the door.

Kai left the room.

Thirteen: "A book? Does this relate to your...secret?"

Birds: "It is a compilation of my notes on Wei Dan's story."

  • Thirteen pokes the end of the pen through the paper.

Thirteen: "I will seek it. Does it have any other notable qualities?"

  • Thirteen licks his finger, which glows softly, and rubs the paper, mending the hole.

Birds: "It is shaped like a half-circle and the spine is made of sandalwood."

Thirteen: "Thank you. I am indebted to you. Wei Dan did not tell his people of his journeys."

Birds: "There is little enough there, at the moment. The salty book with feathers on the cover may be interesting to you as well."

Thirteen: "I can only be honored to read the words of my illustrious sister."

Tags: (:tags Alahwi, Ymir, Rosada, Ularis, First and Forsaken Lion, Solar Deliberative, Talmuda, Daybreaker, Lai Misuna, Shadowed Unlife Equation, Primordials, Kiriath, Seals of the Deliberative, Solars, Scarlet Empress, Dawn Caste Seal, Wei Dan, Heartwood Spearfolk, Wasirru, Sol Invictus, First Age Flashbacks, Path of Stars, Bi'allah, Bone Dagger Kings, Aalorai, Exaltation Checklist, Night Caste Seal :)

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