<Zahara> Reaver perches upon Zahara's shoulder, as she perches on Tantamount's muscled back. They stand thoughtfully, watching Cerin key in the combination for Bi'Allah, reflecting on what kinds of creatures go there to die, and how close she had come to reaching such a place herself.
<Cerin> "I am not sure that this will work." says Cerin as he lets the essence flow in the activation patterns for the gate, keying them in for Bi`Allah, selecting one of the more central gates to exit from in that Realm "but I will be intrigued if it does."
<Zahara> "What gives you cause to doubt?"
<Cerin> "Herons informed me that the gates to this Realm did not function, and hence he had to get me there via ... other means."
<Cerin> "Which is why I was away a week and not a day."
<Zahara> "I see. That sounds rather discouraging, doesn't it." she frowns. "And did you find these other means?"
<Cerin> "There was a conjuction that allowed me to use the path of stars. It was quite a complex ritual, and the conjunction is now over. Ikara, the sidereal I was with, implied that tarrying there would trap me for years, so it does not seem to be a common occurance."
<Zahara> "Aha. So what now?"
As Cerin taps the last of the keys, the letters shift color as they do whenever the gates are aligned to another world; this time, to a deep blue-purple. Cerin presses more, attempting to activate a specific gate; as he taps the last, the energy flows begin to flow and the portal springs open. But something unusual is going on...
<Zahara> "What is it doing now?"
The energy that fills the center of the portal is not clean and clear as it usually is; it is deep red, and jagged. Loud crackling noises erupt from the gateway, and bolts of energy start crackling out from the center, striking nearby rocks and logs. Cerin and Zahara are forced to dive for cover!
<Zahara> "Oh!" She tightens her legs around Tanty as he leaps backwards with a great downstroke of his wings, kicking up a shower of rocks and dust that intercept the bolts.
Bolts of red lightning zag out of the gate and strike things even at a great distance; if the forest hadn't recently been burned, it is likely that it would start a fire.
<Cerin> "My love, I think you will need to counter that spell if we are to get any further."
<Zahara> "Hopefully it will work with the Gate open. I don't think I can possibly cross that to do so on the other side."
The spell strikes the center of the gate, and there is a sudden, instantaneous cessation of all sound. Then, a moment later -- BOOM.
The energy in the center of the gate explodes outwards violently, sending bolts of red lightning outwards in every direction that break up into pieces and transform into white-hot shards of burning essence as they fly, carrying a wave of immense heat with them. The remnants of the trees in this section of the forest are atomized, and the earth below is torn apart, launched up into the air.
The light is so bright that neither can see what's going on in the center momentarily, though Cerin's protective Charm at least keeps his eyes from hurting.
When the explosion has passed, Cerin and Zahara stand in a narrow band protected by Zahara's sword, as the light dims and dirt rains down around them from where the Essence tore into the earth. The gate sits, undamaged, in the center, now displaying a normal, unassuming doorway into Bi'allah.
<Zahara> "Well." she wipes a bit of ash and dirt away from her face. "That was fun."
<Cerin> "Though, " he says in a more serious tone, "From my understanding of sorcery, it must have been one of us .. a solar .. who cast that warding spell. Lesser soceries should not have reacted so violently ..."
Cerin and Zahara find themselves in a somewhat different part of the plane than where Cerin previously journeyed. The same blue-purple sky filled with green and gold stars hangs overhead, but the gate opens out onto a small, blue rock, amidst a great orange sea. Other such rocks, slick with water, bob in the sea all around.
<Zahara> "I hope the dust isn't UNDER the ocean. That would be rather more like mud."
<Zahara> "I ought to figure out how to recreate that spell, actually. It would be rather nice to block others from using our gate. Quite irking when they do.
<Cerin> "As long as you can key it ..."
<Zahara> "I think I have some extra toes around."
<Zahara> "From my skeleton." she elaborates. "It shouldn't take much more than that."
<Zahara> "Do you know where to go?" she eyes the surrounding ocean doubtfully
<Cerin> "And quietly, we should not disturb the peace here more than we have ..."
<Cerin> ^--- northeast
The two Solars begin to fly in the direction Cerin indicated. The orange ocean laps peacefully below them, and the stars glitter overhead. The wind is cool but pleasant; the entire plane seems perfect to encourage silent contemplation.
<Zahara> "So this is where you went, after." she says into the quietness.
<Zahara> "A peaceful realm, at least on the surface."
No sooner does Zahara utter those words, than Cerin notices something -- the very slightest movement of the air behind him, in a way it simply should not have moved... along with a sickening realization that his supernal awareness has failed him.
<Cerin> "Zah-..." Cerin barely manages to exclaim in suprise before he twists aside from incoming blow.
Swift claws slice through the space where Cerin was sitting just a moment ago, though they make almost no sound.
The Solars see what seems like a great piece torn out of the sky itself, with vast wings and vicious talons, diving rapidly after them.
<Zahara> "I take it back. Not peaceful." Reaver squawks and mantles his wings viciously! Meanwhile, Tanty flings his poisonous spines at the skypiece with a growled,
<Zahara> "Think you to end our lives here?"
As the manticore dives earthward, the Solars see the first sign of land in the distance.
Tantamount's spines and Zahara's blades pass effortlessly through the empty sky that makes up their Starlit pursuer, but it hesitates for a moment as the loud clarion of the bell passes it.
The land, made of the dusty blue rock Cerin recalls from his previous visit, is now just a short way away, and a great mountain, pockmarked by small caves and holes, juts up from the earth.
<Cerin> "Zahara ... we need to head for those caves ... and try not to sound the bell too many times."
<Zahara> "That's the most effective attack I have."
<Cerin> "I know." He says as he summons a bow of sunlight to his hands. "But to disturb the peace here further will only bring more."
Seemingly infuriated, the Starlit dives with a renewed vigor at the two Solars, its sky claws slashing mercilessly at Cerin and Zahara.
<Zahara> "Uh oh."
<Zahara> "..Those that Were Gods Above the Gods"
The mountain draws ever closer as the Solars battle in the sky with the being from before history.
The stars within the Starlit's form begin to glow and pulse more brightly than those hanging in the sky, and its claws fill with the light of a brilliant red supernova. Its massive wings flap once with a great strength, and it charges forward to slice across the Solars' backs.
The spines shoot through the creature, seemingly with no effect.
As the blows of creature and Exalt pass through each other, Tantamount finally reaches the caves on the side of the mountain and plunges down into their depths, quickly and deftly navigating the rapidly winding passageways. After a few minutes, the Solars feel certain that the Starlit has given up pursuit.
<Zahara> "I've not felt your surprise for...months now. It worries me."
<Cerin> "Solace is well guarded here, it seems. We should keep out of the air, I think."
<Zahara> "You know another way to return to the gate?"
<Cerin> "There are other gates. There will be one on the ground."
<Zahara> "I don't think I ought to counter all of them."
<Zahara> "Perhaps we can find a disguise of some sort on the way back.. in any case, we must find that dust before we even try. Thank you, by the way." she pats her hair.
<Zahara> "Hmmm now we need to get back to the Gate."
<Cerin> "... First, I would like to visit Ymir once more."
<Zahara> "Ahh, of course. Lead the way."
It takes some work and a few significant backtracks, but eventuallyy Cerin is able to locate his previous incarnation's resting place once again.
Nothing has changed, in the time Cerin has been gone. The skeleton lies there, just as he left it; the spot where the message from himself lay, still smoothed out by his own hand.
<Zahara> "So this was Ymir." She looks over the skeleton curiously, noting the position and surroundings.
<Zahara> "I see you've broken it."
<Cerin> "I did that when I came here the first time. It would open for no-one else ... though your countermagic may have destroyed it, I suppose."
<Cerin> "I'm not sure if I can allow myself to be."
<Zahara> "They are a powerful ingredient in many artifacts, and make keying things to you easier."
<Zahara> "No other secret caches beneath where you lay, or the like?"
<Cerin> "Not that I recall."
<Zahara> "Ah, too bad."
Without too much time spent he locates it.
Tags: (:tags Bi'allah, Path of Stars, Solar Circle Sorcery, Starlit, Ymir :)