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.
<Cerin> "Indeed Marku, that would be unwise. I do not much wish to be in the middle of an exploding manse."
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..."
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.
<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."
<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."
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.
The room is dead silent.
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.
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> "Ah. Well I'm sure we can find him by the smell."
The hallway extends for easily 500 yards, various doors along its length leading into small chambers, little amenities, or other hallways.
<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.
<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."
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> "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.
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.
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.
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.
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> "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.
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...
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's arrows pin three more to the walls as the last of the attackers slip away and the final mist fades.
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.
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.
<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 can hear it in his mind -- the Exalts dispersed to many parts of Creation, to help prepare for the coming attack.
The edge of the body smoulders a little, but does not catch fire.
<Cerin> "Why do you fight for the Lily?"
<Cerin> "Where do you come from? Who told you?"
<Cerin> "This World? Or Another Realm?"
The creature shakes its head.
<Zahara> "I'm a bit disappointed that none of them surrendered, but those that escaped will carry my message regardless.
<Cerin> "What of the ones that left?"
<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?"
<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?"
<Markuran> "Hey! My wasp! I'm NOT riding back with Zahara!!"
<Zahara> "You can say THAT again."
Cerin, waspbound, speeds rapidly through the air towards the nearby gate.
Zahara finds quite a few miscellaneous valuables, personal items, and such, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
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.
Tags: (:tags Red Lily, God-Exalts, Hundredfold, Pahlytes :)