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Cerin emerges from the Rathess Gate, looking around himself at where he emerges. He wishes to talk with Ssithumi about the Aalorai and the Xi-Ma-Taxi.

This gate opens atop a small pyramid in the northeast quarter of Rathess. The entire structure has been largely overgrown by vines and lichen, though it still remains clear enough to be used.

  • Cerin sighs a little sadly to himself as his eyes take in the overgrown pyramid. This place will be so much nicer when Ssithumi suceeds in her goal of civilising the Dragonkings. He looks about to take his bearings, then sets off at an easy pace towards where he thinks Ssithumi will be

A little ways along the road, he spots Ssithumi -- crouched, about thirty feet off the ground, on a tiny ledge alongside one building. She looks upward, intently.

  • Cerin calls his magic to his eyes and looks up to see what Ssithumi might be looking at.

There seems to be some sort of unusual bird flying down towards a spot near where Cerin walks. Ssithumi continues to perch motionless for several moments, until the bird approaches closer -- then she flings herself, violently, off of the ledge

  • Cerin watches her leap, drawing his bow and activating the defences of his suit, flushing his body with magic that allows one to Flow Like Blood

She spins and reaches out one claw, neatly plucking the bird from the air in midflight; then, alights upon a lower ledge on the opposite side of the road.

She begins to consume the beast raw, but then, after a moment, notices Cerin's presence.

<Ssithumi> "....ah, Chosen. I had not expected you."

<Cerin> "I am sorry to disturb you while you are eating, Ssithumi"

She takes another bite of bird, swallos, and continues. "No, it is no trouble."

  • Cerin nods. He ignores the bird "You asked me to tell you if I heard any news of races such as yourself. I have met two such creatures I believe, and have heard of another type. I would like to ask of what you know about the latter beings"

<Ssithumi> If Ssithumi had an eyebrow, it would be raised in curiosity. "You have met two such beings, already?"

<Cerin> "We, the circle that is, discovered a Demense to the west of here. It was not of an aspect I am familair with, and indeed did not seem to be of Creation. Within its bounds there lived a race of mechanical beings, sentient, and with almost the same spiritual power as you posses in your fusion"

  • Ssithumi cranes her long, slithery neck forward. Her feathers flutter a little in the breeze.

<Ssithumi> "What were these creatures like?"

<Cerin> "They seemed to be composed of cogs, gears, and other items more commonly seen in mechanical devices. They spoke a strange version of the Old Realm tongue. They spoke reasonably with Zahara, though they had no patentience for Markuran's ..less quick thinking"

<Ssithumi> "....the Xi-Mi-Taxi."

<Cerin> "Ah, that is their name. I regret that at the time I was not able to talk with them further, as we left soon after the deal."

  • Ssithumi looks amazed at this revelation. "I had believed every one of them dead thousands of years ago. How can it be that they survive today? How many of them are there?"

<Cerin> "They said that they numbered thousands, though I have no idea how many of them are as advanced as the ones we saw, especially if they have a similar nature to your people in their youth"

Ssithumi drops the remainder of her bird carcass.

<Ssithumi> "Thousands?"

<Cerin> "That is what they claimed, though I saw only two. It is entirely possibly they were bluffing" he catches the bird carcass before it hits the floor "I am sorry to shock you"

  • Ssithumi , still slightly flustered, accepts the carcass from Cerin, then shakes a little as if to soothe her ruffled feathers.

<Ssithumi> "You said you had also heard of another."

<Cerin> "They were mentioned to me by one of the startouched. He called them the Aalorai. They are reported to have the apperence of metal birds."

  • Ssithumi seems to involuntarily wring out the bird with her claws. Blood drips awkwardly onto the pavement below.
  • Cerin waits for her to compose herself

<Ssithumi> "What did this Star-Touched say of them?"

<Cerin> "Very little. He told us the name and not much else. The other reports we have had of them reported them destroying ships full of the dragonblooded with rains of metal"

  • Zahara returns to Cerin's side, after being distracted by something shiny sticking out of the rubble.
  • Ssithumi seems to consider for a second. Then, she hops to her feet and begins to walk. "....follow me, Solars."
  • Cerin smiles as she returns and kisses her cheek. He nods to Ssithumi and starts to walk after her
  • Zahara smiles and follows after him, pleased.
  • Ssithumi leads the two Solars to another empty building, this one looking even more ruined than many of the others.
  • Cerin looks about at it before climbing over the rubble to enter it, looking about him
  • Zahara looks around as well, but her eyes keep coming back to the moving view in front of her. Ahh.

Beneath the rubble and rot, it holds the vague appearance of some sort of library, though there are no books -- it holds numerous tables, desks, and shelves of small crystalline objects.

<Cerin> "What is this place, Ssithumi?" he looks about him curiously at the magical aura from all of the crystals

  • Zahara looks around, "and where did the books go?"

<Ssithumi> "This was once a center of learning and history for my people. Most of it was destroyed by the passage of time, but a few small bits of knowledge remain."

  • Cerin nods sadly "I see."
  • Ssithumi walks to one of the shelves, picks up a 13-pointed star of finest crystal, about the size of an orange, and blows dust off of it. It seems to glow softly from within with its own light.
  • Zahara frowns, "Far too much was lost from the First Age... I wish I could travel back and see the glories, and bring the lost knowledge back with me." she sighs a little.
  • Ssithumi seems to chuckle sadly at the use of the term "First Age."
  • Cerin nods "There was a lot lost..."
  • Ssithumi places the crystal on a table before the Solars. "Watch, and see."
  • Cerin sits and gently pulls Zee into his lap to watch
  • Zahara smiles, leaning into his embrace as she watches the crystal curiously
  • Ssithumi touches the crystal, and it begins to glow more brightly. Suddenly, the two Solars find themselves within a picture -- a recording of some kind, that plays back around their very selves.
  • Cerin watches!
  • Zahara looks around, startled.. she hadn't expected to be IN the recording.. much less see it move before her. "How did you do that?"
  • Ssithumi is nowhere to be seen, for the moment.

A short distance from the two, a man stands, clad entirely in shining golden armor, and bearing aloft a great sword. His long hair blows lightly in the wind, and his handsome face shows both hope and determination.> Behind him, a great army, large enough to fade off towards the edges of the recording. At its head stand magnificent squadron leaders in glorious, brightly colored armor of their own, each flanked by standard bearers and horn blowers. Each banner is emblazoned with the sigil of the Unconquered Sun. The man raises his sword, and begins speaking to his men, readying them for battle. The far horizon, which a moment before showed clear blue sky, darkens as some sort of rapidly moving cloud crosses it, heading rapidly towards the army.

  • Zahara finds herself impressed both with the technology, and what it's displaying

The man shouts an order, and as one the soldiers drop their swords, and draw out great bows and diamond-tipped arrows.

  • Cerin is too. He's tuning out the essence of the display, just concentrating on what its showing.
  • Cerin murmurs "Diamond tips.."

<Zahara> "They're beautiful."

<Zahara> "I love diamonds."

He turns around again, facing the rapidly approaching cloud, and raises his sword up. "Ara lejonti tumeru invictus sol!" he shouts. The army screams a deafening response.

  • Cerin smiles "I've-.." he trails off to pay attention again

The cloud grows yet closer. It twists and turns in a sickening manner; strange red glows seem to glint off of it in places. "Rayaaaaaho!" he cries, and drops his sword; thousands, tens of thousands of arrows all fly at once, towards the oncoming mass. The cloud is now close enough that the two can begin to distinguish its composition from numerous individual figures, human-ish sized, though their speed and distance makes any more detail difficult to fathom.

  • Zahara tries to separate the flying figures out from eachother, "These must be the Aalorai"

The arrows shoot up, straight and true, into the cloud, trailing brilliant trails of solar essence as they fly. They disappear into the cloud, and a few of the mass seem to drop out of the cloud and begin spiralling towards the ground; the losses, however, are few compared to the great size of the cloud. The Solar general looks at this, and swallows hard. He raises his sword and calls out for the army to draw again.

  • Cerin nods

<Zahara> "They must be dodging them... why aren't more falling?"

The cloud draws closer, and suddenly, it seems to shift -- there is a great forward motion from the rear parts of the cloud, and an intangible quality seems to ripple forward through.

<Cerin> "They are agile and swift on the wing it seems. And if they are truely of metal, even diamond tips may only score them"

When it reaches the front of the cloud, it explodes outward and downward -- an unearthly spray of vicious, white-hot glowing shards of steel, thousands flying at unearthly speeds through each foot of air. They first strike the ground in front of the army, and score it deeply -- each shard strikes with the force to dig a hole a foot or more in size. Dirt and grass fly up into the air as the earth itself is destroyed under the assault. As the spray pushes toward him, the Solar again cries out to fire.

<Zahara> "No wonder the ships went down... look at the force behind those"

  • Cerin nods. "We will have to be /very/ careful on that island."

Seconds later, as the second volley of arrows flies, the front line of the army meets the front line of the metal shards, and blood and flesh join the dirt and grass that is flung into the air. Moments before the second volley strikes the aalorai themselves, as their weapons tear through the army with little difficulty, something happens to the display -- it frazzles, and ends suddenly.

<Zahara> "We can fly the ship through and have Marku stand on top." she says drily.

  • Ssithumi retrieves the crystal from the table and places it neatly back upon the shelf.

<Cerin> "I'm not sure that it would fit through the gate."

  • Zahara frowns, "You're probably right. It sounds like we're going to need some extra protection though."
  • Cerin nods "We will. Thank you Ssithumi, I think I understand your reaction now..they appear to be a fearsome foe"
  • Ssithumi nods, slowly. "Please inform me if you encounter records of any.... other beings."

<Zahara> "Do you know of anything that actually WORKED against them? Why haven't they taken over Creation if they're so powerful?"

<Zahara> "Cerin, those arrowheads we spoke of the other day, if these beings weild Essence, it might work against them.'

  • Ssithumi looks at Zahara strangely, then makes a look that encompasses both Solars. "...YOU worked against them. What other weapons do you need?"
  • Ssithumi turns and exits the library.
  • Zahara lofts a brow. "Well.. I guess we won, eventually?"
  • Cerin nods "Apparently so, though it appears we merely sealed them away. Those weapons may well work however...I wonder" he kisses her cheek "can I stand up?"
  • Zahara chuckles and kisses back, "No."

<Cerin> "Please?" he kisses her again

  • Zahara turns so she's straddling him, "Why would you want to do that?"

<Cerin> "My desire to stand is falling I admit...but I would rather like to see what records are ...in ...here..." he trails off

<Zahara> "We could make a new record," she suggests

<Cerin> "A new record you say.."

<Zahara> "Yes," she says, running a finger along any skin that happens to be showing, "It will have a better ending than that one."

  • Cerin wraps his arms around her. He leans up to kiss her "And what ending were you thinking of..?"
  • Zahara tilts her head slightly, looking him in the eye, "Well, that all depends on you."

<Cerin> "On me?" he traces his hands up her sides

<Zahara> "mmhmmm. There's something I haven't told you yet."

<Cerin> "mmmm?"

  • Zahara shifts the lower half of her clothing so that it becomes translucent, revealing a sliver of gold beneath them, partially concealed by her undergarments.
  • Cerin looks down, trying to work out what it his, his hands moving to help
  • Zahara smiles faintly, and shifts them to reveal more of it. "It requires a key."

<Cerin> "Ah." he kisses her "You dont have the key on you, do you?"

  • Zahara returns the kiss, chuckling softly, "No, you do."
  • Cerin looks faintly mystified
  • Zahara takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly, then says softly, eyes downcast "The key is a vow. The lock will only open for one who has sworn he will love me eternally" she looks up slowly into his eyes, in which hope wars with a hint of fear. "Do you love me?"

<Cerin> "I love you"

<Zahara> "Will you unlock my heart, then?" she touches his cheek, "I.." she seems to struggle with this, as it's not entirely natural for her. "I love you, Cerin." she seems almost in awe of the statement.

  • Cerin looks at her slightly awed. He kisses her again "Tell me how...tell me how to unlock it"
  • Zahara holds his hands in hers, "Swear you will love me forever."
  • Cerin looks her deep in the eyes "I will love you forever...throughout the turning of the ages, throughout all the long years that time treads you will be in my heart. Always."
  • Zahara presses herself against him, kissing him deeply as the words shimmer through the room, sealing the vow, and a tiny 'click' sounds loudly in the silence.
  • Cerin holds the kiss for a long time, before moving on to other things.

Fade out

Several hours later...

  • Cerin frowns at the labels on the crystals. Many of them faded or chipped away. "Its one of these, I'm sure.."

<Zahara> "Mmm. What's it say?"

  • Cerin frowns more at the label on the one he's holding "ifact we-.something somethings -ory"

<Zahara> "Can you activate it?" she picks the crystal up and turns it over in her hands gently

  • Cerin tries to think of what Ssithumi did. When he cant think of anything obvious, he offers it essence

Cerin finds himself exploring an interactive basic primer in Essence flow construction. However, it seems to assume some sort of crystalline substance as the basic working material..

<Zahara> "It looks like diamond.. I wonder if I could alter a diamond to hold visions like these." she muses

<Cerin> "Maybe...Perhaps we should talk with Ssithumi though. Perhaps she can tell us more of these crystals and how the magic works"

  • Zahara cradles the thing in her hands and walks toward the door, "We should find her."
  • Cerin nods and follows her "She will probably be reading to the aquatic stalkers at this time. She should ahve finsihed when we find her"
  • Zahara wanders around until they come upon Ssithumi
  • Cerin starts to lead Zahara through the ruins, to the usual rock she reads on.
  • Ssithumi is sitting upon the rock, but there are no stalkers to be seen; instead, she turns a small crystal over in her hands.

<Cerin> "Ssithumi, may we speak with you?"

  • Zahara approaches courteously, letting Cerin lead the conversation. She watches the creature play with the crystal, wondering what it holds.
  • Ssithumi nods to Cerin, unenergetically.
  • Cerin looks over to Zahara, slightly perturbed "We wished to ask you about your crystal technology. We believe it might enable us to make weapons to take out the Aalorai when we face them"
  • Zahara studies Ssithumi's reaction and comes to a conclusion. "You lost someone to them, didn't you?" she suggests softly.
  • Ssithumi pointedly ignores Zahara, and turns to Cerin. "I am not deeply knowledgeable about the construction of the crystals; I never worked them, nor trained with the masters. If you are looking for a text to instruct you in the matter, the Aalorai are far more likely to have one than I."

<Cerin> "Ah. Would the Xi-Ma-Taxi know, or are they beings of a different type?"

  • Zahara shrugs slightly and stops pretending to care. "The Aalorai have texts? Where are they kept?"

<Ssithumi> "I do not believe the Xi-Mi-Taxi have ever made use of the crystals, preferring their own strange methods. As for the Aalorai -- I expect there is a great library upon the island."

<Zahara> "Hmmm this library could be a great asset if it has been kept whole. Do you think the Aalorai can be negotiated with?"

<Ssithumi> "By you? No."

<Zahara> "By whom then?"

<Ssithumi> "Your enemies."

<Zahara> "Why?"

  • Ssithumi turns to Zahara. "You usurped them, toppled their empire and slew their masters. You warred for a thousand years and at the end, they sank into the sea. They can forge no truce with you."

<Zahara> "Well, I can see that." she muses absently. "Must learn how to do that again."

  • Cerin nods slowly. He glances at Zahara.
  • Zahara gets a vague look on her face, as she attempts to prod her memories of the First Age to life again.

Nothing seems to come to mind.

<Zahara> "I bet Herons knew." she notes.

  • Zahara shakes her head a little, disappointed.

<Cerin> "Perhaps. Thank you, Ssithumi."

<Zahara> "Do you know how my prior incarnation achieved such a feat? We are planning to seek the island soon, and I would prefer to be more prepared than I am."

<Ssithumi> "There is a great deal that was once known that is now lost. I may remember that it existed, but I cannot recreate it. My only advice is to keep that" -- she gestures to the locket around Zahara's neck -- "close to you."

  • Zahara touches the locket she'd found in her tomb, "This?"
  • Ssithumi nods.
  • Zahara ponders, "It affects emotions, how will that help me?"
  • Ssithumi merely says, "Just keep it close."
  • Zahara raises a brow, "I shall. Thank you."
  • Ssithumi nods, and turns back to staring at nothing in particular.
  • Cerin takes Zahara's hand, and slowly walks away with her
  • Zahara looks back over her shoulder at Ssithumi, consideringly, then turns and walks out with him.
  • Cerin sighs softly

<Zahara> "Well, that was unexpected." she notes quietly as they exit the gate

  • Cerin nods "I wonder now about how much Herons really knows..."
  • Zahara shakes her head, "He didn't seem to be lying when we spoke."

<Cerin> "Very well. I suppose we should go home then...Unless you have more you want to do here...?"

  • Zahara shakes her head, "Maybe we should go back to our island for a while. I need some time to think."
  • Cerin nods and smiles slightly as he calls the island up, stepping through with Zahara. Its very peaceful. He sits on the sand pressed up to her
  • Zahara leans her head on his shoulder and lets the sound of the waves wash over her soothingly.

Tags: (:tags Aalorai, Rathess, Ssithumi, Xi-Mi-Taxi, Hundredfold, Aalorai, Crystal Tech, Talmuda, Herons:)

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