< Knives Of Kasima | Sol Invictus Logs | Seeking Mines >

The Solars have used the information gathered from a captive Exalt to locate a manse, hidden within an unassuming corner of the Sunlands, where a group of Red Lily agents have been secretly plotting against them. Now, as the red rays of the setting sun play upon the ivy and thistle that surround the Wood-aspected manse, the Solars prepare to strike. The manse itself is a moderately large building, assembled from elaborate wooden strats slung between what appear to be five giant trees, each bent down and slung into place to form one of the supporting arches of the building.

A large, oaken double door sits squarely in the front, while small windows dot the sides.

  • Markuran turns to Cerin, a long-suffering look on his face. "I suppose you would object if I sent one of those great trees smashing through the center of the Manse."

<Cerin> "Indeed Marku, that would be unwise. I do not much wish to be in the middle of an exploding manse."

  • Zahara circles above the manse upon Tanty, Cerin behind her, and Marku astride a wasp. "It would most certainly kill everything inside, but the manse, and what it holds may be valuable to us."

A light wind blows through the branches of the manse's trees.

<Cerin> "On the other hand, they are sure to have posted lookouts, so we had best not tarry here overlong..."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I suggest that we simply butcher them."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "It is cleaner and safer."

<Cerin> "It is safer, yes. If we could capture some and turn them though...Or at least find out what they know..."

  • Birds nods. "You are ever the diplomat."

It is difficult for Cerin to make out too many details as he peers towards the building -- the immense energy of the manse blocks out many smaller flows of Essence. He can determine with reasonable certainty that no Exalts are waiting in the nearby trees or under the earth, ready to spring to attack at a moment's notice, however.

<Zahara> "I brought just the thing for that." She tosses each of them a set of collars, bound together lightly for transport.

<Cerin> "It seems there are no watchers outside the manse." he absently catches the collars.

  • Birds spears the collars in a pillar of smoke - her anima weapon.

<Zahara> "I would like to speak with the first person we meet, if possible." She notes as they head downward.

<Cerin> "Before or after the fight, love?"

<Zahara> "Before. It might go some way towards lessening the number of enemies we will face."

  • Cerin holds his sunbow in one hand as he draws a small golden dagger from a thigh pouch on the armour. "As you wish."

<Zahara> "Or it might just make more come.. but either way, it shall be interesting."

<Cerin> "Marku, Birds, are you ready to move?" he stands up behind Zahara, ready to jump.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I am."

  • Zahara holds on as Tantamount folds his wings and dives toward the ground near the door.
  • Cerin leaps then, over Zahara's head, the golden knife flashing in the sun. He slips it between the doors at the top, then falls down the door, landing crouched in a pool of red silks. Then he pushes the door in, all the locks cut in two.
  • Birds jumps lightly onto Markuran's arm and waits.
  • Zahara remains astride the monstrous Manticore, her delicate bone structure and flowing skirts making Tantamount's rippling muscles and gleaming claws seem all the more fierce. They enter, looking for the nearest exaltling.
  • Markuran waits for Birds to get her balance on him and then jumps from his Wasp, landing neatly beside Cerin. Taking off at speed the big Solar Taxi barrels through the now-open door and charges toward the first sounds of life he hears. The Reminder glitters darkly on his arm while he cocks the other, ready to throw Birds like a giant poem-spitting human hatchet

Inside the door, Cerin sees a fairly expansive entrance hall -- elaborate wooden tables and benches for entering guests, red and green banners hung from the walls and draped between mahogany pillars, stumps carved into elaborate fountains for visitors to marvel at or drink from. Not a single soul stirs within the chambr.

  • Cerin sheathes the blade again, drawing back a mote of sunlight on his bow. He suddenly goes dead still, listening carefully for any sounds of life.

The room is dead silent.

  • Zahara quirks a brow and enters further, wary of traps. Tanty's claws make gouges in the floor where he passes.
  • Markuran charges into the next room!

Several doors lead out of the entrance chamber -- stairs lead upwards to a small mezzanine with three exits, while another closed door seems to lead further onwards through the same floor.

  • Cerin sighs softly and leaps up onto the mezzanine, and slices the lock open for one door.
  • Markuran charges out the far left door.
  • Zahara watches Marku charge off heedlessly, idly deciding she won't go out of the way to save him this time.
  • Birds watches doorways go by, bemused.

Marku and Birds step through the central door as Cerin and Zahara proceed upwards. The former find themselves in a long hallway with quite a few branching pathways leading off to all sides; the latter in what appears to be an open-air porch of some kind, hemmed in by branches and leaves.

  • Zahara looks about, frowning "This was not the reception I thought we'd get. We should head for the center. Follow the lines of power to the nexus."
  • Cerin nods. "That is wise." he sighs softly "I think we will have to follow Marku then, love."

<Zahara> "Ah. Well I'm sure we can find him by the smell."

  • Zahara retreats back down the stairs, and through the door Marku so recently entered.
  • Cerin moves with her, standiing on the hilt of one of her swords.

The hallway extends for easily 500 yards, various doors along its length leading into small chambers, little amenities, or other hallways.

  • Zahara sniffs to see where the Barbarian charged off to now

<Cerin> "This place is far too quiet." Cerin whispers.

<Zahara> "I should have brought some bloodhounds."

<Cerin> "Why my love? Thier senses are far less keen than my own."

<Zahara> "They can be in more places than we can alone."

<Zahara> "I wonder when the trap will spring." she muses.

  • Zahara checks each doorway along the hallway to see if it contains any life

<Cerin> "True enough." Cerin ponders. "We could still make the exit if we run, so not yet, I think."

<Zahara> "On, then. To the center."

  • Cerin nods and continues riding the sword, looking and listening carefully.
  • Zahara hums a little song as they go along. It's not like people DON'T know they're there, if any others are there as well.

The hallway leads onwards, past little kitchenettes and altar rooms, towards the center of the building -- a vast chamber where a sixth tree sprouts up from the earthen floor and joins its canopy with the five others. Suspended in its branches is the sheet of jade that serves as the hearthstone formation point.

  • Zahara looks for a hearthstone
  • Birds thinks to Smoking Mirror, ::Dear, will you fly up and take a look at what's going on in the rest of the Demesne?:: The bird flies off.

<Zahara> "If we don't find the hearthstone, breaking or moving that sheet should disrupt the manse enough to stop its power from working for any others. It should be easily-enough repaired, as well."

The elemental does so quickly, soaring up to scout out the tree branches and hearthstone plate, where no hearthstone sits.

  • Cerin sends concern through the unity, radiating warning.
  • Markuran looks around sharply, hoping to find something to validate Cerin's warning

Suddenly, a wind kicks up inside the chamber, and the middle tree begins to shake its branches in response. As they move, a black mist seems to flow out of them, which rapidly starts to fill the room, eliminating all visibility.

<Zahara> "Ah, that's better."

<Markuran> "Well. How am I supposed to throw Birds now that I can't see?"

A faint sound can be heard faintly in the background; a slight chittering and rustling.

<Zahara> "I advise the breaking of the central sheet." She says, though her voice is oddly muffled through the mist.

  • Markuran slightly re-adjusts Birds, moving the poet onto his left forearm where she is less likely to be unbalanced by the movement of muscles in his shoulders. Taking a deep breath, Marku lets out an ear-splitting battle cry that shakes invisible leaves from the surrounding trees. In an instant, the big man lashes out at every protesting grunt, whine and twitch that isn't associated with one of the Unified feelings in the back

In an instant, the big man lashes out at every protesting grunt, whine and twitch that isn't associated with one of the Unified feelings in the back of his head. As he attacks, he can feel Birds move on his arm, instinctivly avoiding contact with the unseen enemies. Using her movements as an extra guide, Marku lays waste to his foes in typical Marku style.

  • Zahara 's weapons slice through the mist, leaving whirling eddies of blackness behind them as they are seemingly swallowed up by the eerie stuff. They seek the nearest targets, whirling around faster and faster about her, causing the mist to begin to swirl in a vortex until they strike. Meanwhile, the bell hovers above her, unmoving. and Strikes.
  • Birds mutters, "This is humiliating," while she runs along Markuran's outstretched arm to strike at one of the noises. In the blackness, the only sound her sword makes is the distant crackling of a bonfire a long distance away. She considers maybe putting on a blindfold. It won't make a difference!

As the Solars strike into action, the rustling sounds become louder; suddenly the sound of whistling wind is audible from every corner of the room, as something strikes back against the Solars.

  • Cerin leaps off the sword as it ignites with flame, sailing up through the mist. As he leaps, he channels motes into his armour, confusing his location with twists and coils off essence, the wind blowing right through him. As he lands he draws back 5 motes, listening for an instant before letting them fly.
  • Zahara twists as the mist swirls around her, her eyes close and she focuses entirely on sound. Effortlessly, the Essence guides her hand as the massive blue Daiklave seeks the whistle of the attackers, deflecting them with elegant grace.

Markuran spins through the air but fails to connect with any foe, howling with rage as he does so. Zahara's weapons strike true even through the obfuscating fog, however; with a sound like dry paper, they cut through some manner of target -- and the rustling sound grows louder as the bell's piercing ring is shouted to every corner. Just as its tone starts to fade, however, the black blades strike from the darkness.

Black discs with razor-sharp edges spin out from the darkness and strike at the flesh of the Solars, tearing through even their expert defenses, leaving Zahara and Cerin with great bleeding wounds.

  • Zahara nearly falls off of Tantamount, as her blood sprays out in a great red arc. She wavers for but a moment before the Sesseljae spring into action, working eagerly to knit her wounds. Faintly, she considers she ought to get hurt more often, so as to give them more to do.

<Zahara> "Surrender, and you will be treated fairly. But know that if you do not, we will shatter your bones, grind you beneath our heels, and salt the earth from which you sprang. You can choose life or death, but you must choose quickly. Know that there is no other outcome." Her words ring with the force of absolute truth, and an odd sense that perhaps you should tell somebody else before they meet an unfortunate end.

A quiet rustling but no further agreement greets Zahara's words.

Cerin and Birds strike out into the darkness, each striking true and hearing the same dry paper sound as their foes' bodies split in the wake of their weapons.

  • Birds cheers and follows the dry paper sound. "I kind of remember a branch being over...here," she says, as she leaps off Markuran's shoulder and levels several strikes at the surrounding void.
  • Zahara 's swords, invisible to her though they are, slice through the papery defenses of the enemies and continue on their hungry path, leaving whorls behind in the mist, and seeking the next target in their path as they dance and twirl joyfully, in tune to the ringing of the War Bell, whose achingly sweet peal makes the very walls shiver.

More blades spiral out of the darkness, though the Solars' attacks seem to have had some effect, for they come in a lesser number than before.

Zahara's blades tear through the air, striking at nothing, but their rapid motion begins to have some effect -- the mist begins to dissipate in the nearby area, returning some slight visibility. She can see a being with dark bluish-black skin dart from an exposed area back into the mist from the corner of her eye...

  • Zahara directs Tanty's attention to the bluish-black thing, sending a jolt of alertness through the Unity. Tantamount leaps, and she strikes out with her Daiklave as poisonous spines fill the air around the shape
  • Zahara grimaces as her spleen goes out her side. "Oh, you're going to pay for that, you little bastards!" she growls, as a multi-legged bug emerges from the wound, grabs it, and ducks back inside.

The manticore's powerful leap takes it directly into the path of the being Zahara saw, which it ably pins below its feet within the rapidly widening visible area. From around the outskirts of the room, the chittering grows fainter, and the mist begins to dissipate quickly.

  • Cerin spins through the blades, leaping to another branch, drawing back 3 motes across his bow, letting them fly through the darkness, mists rippling behind them, seeking the hearts of their retreating victims.

Cerin's arrows pin three more to the walls as the last of the attackers slip away and the final mist fades.

  • Cerin looks at the things as they expire
  • Markuran peers at them himself. "Those don't seem to be god-exalts."

The creatures look almost as if they are made of sheets of burned paper, held togther by only the thinnest of connections. Their shape is vaguely humanoid, but not much more than that. Their eyes glow a deep yellow, though on Cerin's targets they quickly fade to a dull grey.

  • Zahara peers over Tanty's shoulder. "Well now. That's interesting."
  • Cerin nods and starts to pad after them through the manse.
  • Zahara inspects the one beneath Tanty's gigantic paws curiously.

Its thin paper hands struggle valiantly to push the manticore off of it, with no success.

Slowly, the paralytic poison works into its system, and the struggles abate.

  • Markuran follows after Cerin

<Zahara> "Were you ever human?" she asks the thing

With a voice like paper being burned alive, the creature answers with a slow "No."

<Zahara> "How intriguing. Where are the rest of the Exalts?"

  • Cerin walks back over, starting to listen very carefully.

Cerin can hear it in his mind -- the Exalts dispersed to many parts of Creation, to help prepare for the coming attack.

  • Cerin nods. "Thank you. What are you?"

<Pahlytes?> |One of the Pahlytes.|

  • Zahara walks over and inspects the corpse of one of the things pinned to the wall by Cerin's arrows. When she has satisfied herself as to its basic attributes, she gestures, and one of the swords hovering around her leans forward to touch the edge of the creature, flaring with fire as it does so. She watches to see if burned paper burns more.

The edge of the body smoulders a little, but does not catch fire.

  • Zahara then applies ice to another area

<Cerin> "Why do you fight for the Lily?"

<Pahlytes?> |I was told to, as I unfolded from the birthing wall.|

<Cerin> "Where do you come from? Who told you?"

<Pahlytes?> Cerin is uncertain how to vocalize the answer which he receives. |Far Away.|

<Cerin> "This World? Or Another Realm?"

<Pahlytes?> |Another.|

  • Cerin nods once more "Which?" he starts to list Realms.
  • Markuran taps Zahara on the shoulder. "Can you tell if the Stone is still here?":
  • Zahara looks up from her methodical mutilation of the papery corpse. "It does not seem to be. Cerin would be able to track it better than I, but perhaps you should wait until he stops.. talking to himself and getting answers."

The creature shakes its head.

  • Cerin frowns softly "What were you told to do? What of your companions?"

<Zahara> "I'm a bit disappointed that none of them surrendered, but those that escaped will carry my message regardless.

<Pahlytes?> |Kill you.|

<Cerin> "What of the ones that left?"

<Pahlytes?> |Gone. Returning to whence they came.|

<Markuran> "If it isn't obviously here, they probably took it with them. I don't think we should leave any weapon in their hands. It should be easy enough to destroy the Stone from here."

<Zahara> "Be cautious that you do not destroy the entire manse. Try shifting the slab ninety degrees instead."

<Cerin> "How many are your people?"

No answer.

  • Markuran starts clambering up the tree-covered wall to reach the spot where the Hearthstone forms

<Zahara> "That should make the current hearthstone inert, and allow a new one to form with new properties. Although it would not be a bad idea to refashion the geometry of this room in a more focused way, rather than willy-nilly.. hmm.. 90 degrees for now, and we'll do better later.

<Cerin> "In the group that was here?"

<Pahlytes?> |10.|

  • Cerin looks down at it impressed. "How far to the gate that brought you here?"

<Pahlytes?> |Two miles.|

  • Cerin picks the creature up "Zahara, I will be back shortly." then he runs out of the manse and leaps astride Marku's wasp. "Which way?"
  • Markuran blinks.

<Markuran> "Hey! My wasp! I'm NOT riding back with Zahara!!"

<Zahara> "You can say THAT again."

  • Birds snickers.
  • Zahara folds up the mostly untouched corpse of the probably-hundredfold thing, and tucks it into her loot purse.

<Birds?> "Maybe we can unfold one of these guys and make a kite."

Cerin, waspbound, speeds rapidly through the air towards the nearby gate.

  • Zahara methodically searches through the rest of the manse for anything the Exalts may have left behind, Tanty padding behind her.
  • Cerin flys towards the gate, urging the wasp higher and faster, stretching out his sesnes infront of him, trying to discern the gate...

Zahara finds quite a few miscellaneous valuables, personal items, and such, but nothing particularly noteworthy.

  • Markuran idly beats the everliving shit out of the Hearthstone formation platform in accordance with proper essence-flow guidelines.
  • Zahara idly writes herself a note to arrange the salting of the grounds not directly over the Dragon Lines surrounding the manse, so as to give her threat proper weight.

Cerin pushes the agatae strongly, but not enough to intercept the beasts -- though he manages to arrive in time to see the sigils' glow fade away.

  • Cerin thanks the beauteous wasp for it's valiant flight, and asks it to return to the manse they just left.

Tags: (:tags Red Lily, God-Exalts, Hundredfold, Pahlytes :)

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