<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?"

  • Cerin studies the gate.

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...

  • Cerin frowns and studies the flows closely, trying to divine their effects, and their cause

<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!

  • Cerin picks himself up off Zahara and looks into the maelstrom of energy, studying the discharge ...

<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."

  • Cerin shakes his head.
  • Zahara focuses in intently on the center of the spell, seeking the source of the storm, and makes a warding gesture across her chest, then flings it into the Gate on wings of Essence.

The spell strikes the center of the gate, and there is a sudden, instantaneous cessation of all sound. Then, a moment later -- BOOM.

  • Zahara 's sword moves as if of its own accord, the edge of the blade slicing the front wave of the explosion in two, and it cascades around her to either side, leaving a clear path through the center in which she stands
  • Cerin flickers and is consumed by the shadows, appearing behind Zahara as the shockwave passes.

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 nods and grins.

<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 ..."

  • Zahara nods solemnly. "Hopefully an ally, or one long dead. There's only one way to find out."
  • Cerin nods, and starts to walk towards the gate
  • Zahara follows with her familiars. "Do be careful crossing the threshold. It's probably still quite warm."
  • Cerin steps swiftly across the threshold, then looks about him and the gate area
  • Zahara ducks as Tanty walks through, supposing they will not be surprised for at least six seconds, and thus she is safe enough.

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."

  • Cerin shakes his head and speaks in a low tone "In the part where Ymir came to die, there was dust on the ground. It appears we are on a different part of the plane ..." Cerin looks up to study the stars and decipher where on the plane he is ...

<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."

  • Cerin raises an eyebrow.

<Zahara> "From my skeleton." she elaborates. "It shouldn't take much more than that."

  • Cerin nods

<Zahara> "Do you know where to go?" she eyes the surrounding ocean doubtfully

  • Cerin nods "To the northeast."

<Cerin> "And quietly, we should not disturb the peace here more than we have ..."

  • Zahara nods, "Then you might want to get on." she nods behind her, and waits for him to get on Tanty's back, then they take off heading northwest
  • Cerin climbs on behind her

<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.

  • Cerin nods.

<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.

  • Cerin radiates pure suprise into the Unity
  • Zahara reacts instantly to his warning, sending Tanty into a spiralling dive, trying to discern where the attack originated as her weapons leap through the air in a crosshatching pattern to catch the culprit between their blades.
  • Cerin turns as they dive, so see what suprised him.

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."

  • Cerin is wrapped in a swirl of confusing essence as the claws come in, leaping up off the back of tanty, slipping sideways from the first blow then dissolving into fractured shadows as the other blows rend his body.
  • Zahara 's Daiklave, bane of the Primordials it was designed to destroy, rises to the occasion. It knows where each claw is destined to strike, and is simply there, in the way. No force can strike past the blade, especially not a creature of Those that Were.

<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.

  • Zahara directs the swords more precisely this time, all four rushing together to form one large point, seeking the limb above the talons. While thus distracted, Tanty fires off another volley of spines from his tail as he glides, and Reaver hops up and down, squawking virulently!

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.

  • Cerin reaches back as the red novalight comes in, plucking 2 spines from Tanty's tail, dissolving to fractured shadow as it passes through his body, stringing the spines across his bow and shooting them into the sky creature at point blank range.
  • Zahara 's daiklave denies the raging creature once more, with effortless grace. "The sky will be falling soon." she grins wickedly.

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 takes a moment to re-braid her hair, which has become distressingly unkempt.
  • Cerin helps her, as he murmurs "I didn't feel that coming until it attacked, that first time."

<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."

  • Cerin shakes his head "I do not think you should, but ... I am not sure taking wing would be a good idea either."

<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.

  • Cerin kisses her cheek
  • Zahara rides onward
  • Zahara stops at a dusty looking spot, produces a large phial, and fills it up... the dust is so plentiful it makes no sense to duplicate it later, so she gathers up as much as she can carry.
  • Cerin takes out his own phial, transfering dust to it with gloved hands.

<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."

  • Cerin casts his mind back to the previous time he was here and the positions of the sky above, and then starts to head down the passageways, trying to lead himself to where ymir lay.

It takes some work and a few significant backtracks, but eventuallyy Cerin is able to locate his previous incarnation's resting place once again.

  • Cerin steps forward carefully, comparing the scene to how it was when he left it...

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.

  • Cerin nods. He gestures to the line in the sand. "There was an impentrable wall here ... one composed of my essence." he getsures

<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."

  • Zahara nods thoughtfully. "Then it was undisturbed when you found it?"
  • Cerin nods.
  • Zahara looks from the skeleton to Cerin thoughtfully. "So do you want to take the bones back to use or are you squeamish about that sort of thing?"

<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."

  • Cerin nods "This I know." he closes his eyes. "We should take them."
  • Zahara nods softly, and gestures. "Do you want to, or should I?"
  • Cerin opens his eyes and steps forward, carefully gathering the bones, lifting each one with the utmost care.
  • Zahara allows him his reverence, watching the respect he has for the past.
  • Cerin stores the bones within his cache egg, and then turns from the cave. "We can go home now."

<Zahara> "No other secret caches beneath where you lay, or the like?"

<Cerin> "Not that I recall."

<Zahara> "Ah, too bad."

  • Cerin nods
  • Cerin starts to walk from the realm, seeking the nearest gate that will not require them to take wing.

Without too much time spent he locates it.

  • Cerin spends some time studying the spell around, watching the ways the threads twist and weave, trying to get an idea of who might have cast the spell.
  • Zahara studies the spell as well, taking out her journal and writing down various notes on making such a warding spell of her own...considering some form of attunement similar to the manse, which only lets attuned people work the locks.
  • Zahara finally declares herself satisfied, and with a good basis for a similar spell of her own.

Tags: (:tags Bi'allah, Path of Stars, Solar Circle Sorcery, Starlit, Ymir :)

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