< Harbourhead | Sol Invictus Logs | Grala Agrees >

8 Resplendent Air, Realm Year 769

The Circle has returned to the Sea of Gears, with the intent of speaking to the Xi-Mi-Taxi about matters of some import.

The setting sun casts a brilliant orange glow over the puddles of oil and strange machinery that make up the Sea. None of the strange beings which call it home are visible, however.

  • Markuran glowers at the surface of the sea, peering around. "Where are the giant metal fish?"

<Zahara> "Marku, please... let me do the negotiating this time."

<Cerin> "I wonder where they are." he carefully tests the water with his finger

A ripple moves slowly out through the oily liquid from the location where Cerin touches. For a few moments, nothing stirs; then, suddenly, a metallic head rises to the surface.

<Markuran> "There they are."

  • Cerin studies the the drops of liquid as they drop from his finger, before turning his attention to the Xi-Mi-Taxi in front of him "Greetings, Xi-Ma-Taxi."
  • Zahara bows graciously, but not terribly deeply, to the creature, "Greetings, Xi-Mi-Taxi, how are you finding your antennae to work?"
  • Xi-Mi-Taxi 's black featureless eyes glisten with oily sheen. "Functioning is currently acceptable," it says, in strangely flat pronunciation of the Old Realm tongue.
  • Zahara nods, "I am pleased to hear that." she glances over at the partially-built manse, and ponders a time when she can return to complete it, then returns her attention to the creature. "It has been said that the Xi-Mi-Taxi traded some interesting devices to one who calls himself Lai Misuna."
  • Markuran produces the sample soul-widget the Xi-Mi-Taxi gave him the last time he was here
  • Xi-Mi-Taxi emits some strange whirring and creaking sounds. "The channelcage is of our recent manufacture."

<XiMiTaxi?> "Designation 'Lai Misuna' is unfamiliar."

<Zahara> "Hmmm interesting. I am curious as to what payment you recieved for these."

<XiMiTaxi?> More whirring. "This unit is unable to disclose that information."

<Zahara> "Is there one I could speak to with such authorization?"

  • Xi-Mi-Taxi glares unnervingly with its cold black eyes. "First Container of Sixteen Truths."

<Zahara> "Thank you for that information. Please bring First Container of Sixteen Truths to me."

<XiMiTaxi?> Metallic lids slide partially closed over the creature's eyes, leaving only small hexagons exposed. "Cannot be done. First Container is immobile."

  • Xi-Mi-Taxi 's eyes open widely again, and it makes a slightly melodic burbling noise within the water as it slowly floats in place.

<Cerin> "Can we be taken to that one then?"

<XiMiTaxi?> "If you are capable of maintenance within our medium of existence."

<Zahara> "Ah," she surveys the oil, gears, and wires that make up the sea. "Then would you convey my request to First Container of Sixteen Truths, then? Give First Container this message: I wish to find out more about the channelcages, including the price paid for the ten million you have already created, and the speed with which they can be manufactured."

  • Xi-Mi-Taxi burbles and clicks. "This unit will return with a reply within 47 arguns." It sinks beneath the water.
  • Zahara turns to her companions as the creature slides beneath the waves, such as they are, "What else do you wish to know from them?"

<Markuran> "I want some of those shiney soul-widgets on our side."

<Markuran> "Since you're doing all the talking, I think I'll just sit over here by this nice long-destroyed wreck of an artifact and get some rest."

<Cerin> "Perhaps we should find out what else they can build. We will need more than just exalts."

<Markuran> "Get some good weapons! Or a way to break the soul-widget effect!"

<Zahara> "Marku, instead would you please work on completing more of the Manse? Once that is done, we will be able to redirect the energy to them more efficiently. I haven't had enough time to do much... I will join you when the negotiations are complete, however." she makes it clear that this is a request, not an order in her tone of voice.

  • Markuran settles himself in the crook of the long-dead artifact's pincers. "In a while. I'm tired. I'll get to it, don't worry."

After a few minutes more, the being surfaces.

  • Zahara sighs slightly, then turns back to wait
  • Markuran makes a pillow with his formal tunic and promptly settles into a deep nap.

<XiMiTaxi?> "First Container requests that you communicate directly."

<Zahara> "Does First Container suggest a method with which to communicate directly?"

  • Thirteenth Matrix Of Progression? surfaces beside the hulking messenger, a hippo-sized being of bronze and glass. The turtleish Xi-Mi-Taxi has a bubble where its shell would be and nine arachnoid legs, three in front and three on each side. A rear-mounted fin provides for motion. It blinks at the Solars with bright :red eyes
  • Zahara approaches the creature, fully expecting it to open up in some fashion to admit her inside the bubble
  • Cerin studies the new xmt with fasicination, looking at the ways the essence flows around it and through its dome and legs.

The tinted glass of the dome begins to unfold in an elaborate geometric pattern, tiny droplets of oily water splashing off of its surface as it does so, until the hollow interior is revealed.

  • Zahara turns to her companions, "I shall return when negotiations are complete. Is there anything else you wish me to speak of, or bring with me?"
  • Thirteenth Matrix Of Progression? shines with flows of the oddly oily-green-copper-acid Essence of the alchemical Demesne as have the other XMT. All except for the glass bubble on its back, where bright blue Air circles purely and dark Water seals the line where glass meets bronze. Its red gaze sweeps across Cerin, :blinking without a great deal of intelligence

<Cerin> "I'd like to come with you, if I may."

<Markuran> "Is that a turtle with a bubble on its back?" the big Solar is apparently awake, though his eyes are closed when Cerin looks at him

<*Thirteenth Matrix Of Progression?*> "Wood/Earth mass of second entity exceeds maximum Air Capacity. Entity can not be contained successfuly, elemental barrier will be compromised."

  • Xi-Mi-Taxi blinks.

<Zahara> "It seems the answer is no, my love." she observes.

<Cerin> "Perhaps I will meet First Container another day, then. See you soon."

  • Cerin kisses her, then settles himself on the shore.
  • Zahara enters the turtle-with-a-bubble, and waits for it to descend into the depths, using her essence Sight to watch the flows from within

The strange glass refurls itself back into an impenetrable bubble, and the two creatures begin to sink beneath the surface.

Zahara sees the cold, black waters descend over the surface of the bubble, and finds herself seeing nothing but the Essence flows around her -- the unusual signatures of the two creatures, the strangely regimented flow of Alchemical Essence through the water....

<ThirteenthMatrix?> "Entity is comfortable? Air/Earth balance acceptable? Indicate if adjustment required as Water/Alchemy density increases."

<Zahara> "I am comfortable for now, thank you."

<FirstContainer?> As she sinks deeper into the Sea, Zahara notices the Essence grow increasingly thick and patterned, unlike anything she has seen before.

  • Zahara takes her ever-present sheaf of papers from her belt, and starts making notes on the patterns that emerge

<FirstContainer?> After some time, she begins to see some sort of structure appear amongst the Essence patterns in front of her. A moment later, her conveyance comes to a halt with a gentle thump, and she sees the front half of the dome seems to be looking out into some poorly lit chamber, absent of any water.

<FirstContainer?> A moment later, the front portion of the dome opens up as it did above, allowing Zahara to exit.

  • Zahara examines the surroundings, and then steps through the opening, into the dome where she stretches slightly, and looks around to see where the First Container might be. Of course, she realizes, she might be IN First Container. "Greetings," she calls out.

<ThirteenthMatrix?> "Entity will return to Thirtheenth Matrix of Progression for return voyage."

<Zahara> "Indeed."

<Zahara> "I am here to speak to First Container of Sixteen Truths," she announces to the chamber in general.

The chamber Zahara finds herself in is dark, with only a few tiny, weak lights providing any illumination. The walls are built from thick cables and plates of bronze and black metal; the floor is uneven but walkable. Everything around her seems to veritably buzz with Essence. To one side of Zahara, she sees a sudden influx of Essence. Some of the pipes and plates begin to slide out of place, and a brass arm extends itself from within the wall, clutching a solid black pearl within three thin claws. Suddenly, a red circle appears on the surface of the sphere, and it turns to look at Zahara intently.

<FirstContainer?> "What creature arrives to speak with First Container of Sixteen Truths?"

<FirstContainer?> The voice issues mysteriously from the air around Zahara, sounding even less human than that of the other Xi-Mi-Taxi.

  • Zahara turns to face the arm, "I am the entity known as Zahara Zhan. It is I who bargained with the Xi Mi Taxi before to create a richer energy stream from which to feed."

A strange, satisfied humming sound floats through the air around Zahara. The lights shift color subtly, cycling through pale blue and green.

<FirstContainer?> "Welcome, creature Zahara Zhan. You address First Container of Sixteen Truths. What do you desire to communicate of?"

<Zahara> "I am pleased to speak with you directly, First Container of Sixteen Truths. I have come with questions, and perhaps a bargain." she says smoothly, watching the lights that surround her as they change color. "I have heard that you had dealt before in the things called channelcages. These items are of great interest to myself and my companions. I wish to know who you traded them to, and what you recieved in return."

The lights begin to flicker in red and yellow tones.

  • Zahara subtly activates the Fivefold Bulwark Stance, in her hands are simply the pen and bound sheaf of papers.
  • First Container?'s eye moves about. "Designation 'Misuna' communicated with First Container previously. Contracted for the construction of 10 million channelcages, to a specification of his provision. In exchange for this construction provided one hundred tons jade, in raw form."

<Zahara> "Is Jade the material that is most useful to you?"

<FirstContainer?> "We have use for many materials, especially of Essence-channelling quality."

<Zahara> "Interesting. How long did it take to manufacture the channelcages?"

<FirstContainer?> "Approximately five lunar cycles, to manufacture the full quantity, given a satisfactory portion of our capacity."

<Zahara> "Does the material with which you make them, make a difference in how they work?"

<FirstContainer?> "Any metal of sufficient purity will successfully produce the intended result." The eye looks Zahara over carefully.

<Zahara> "Did 'designation Misuna' tell you what he intended to do with the channelcages?"

<FirstContainer?> "No information was provided by Misuna to any Xi-Mi-Taxi." The lights flicker for a moment.

<Zahara> "Have you considered the use of these artifacts on your own kind?"

<FirstContainer?> "However..." The lights flash purplish-red for a moment. "Observation produced evidence of an informational list on the person of Misuna."

<Zahara> "Please provide this list to me"

  • First Container?'s eye draws much nearer to Zahara, and glows brighter. "Exchange?"

<Zahara> "Now that I know your location and that you are immobile, I shall redirect one of the Essence flows to you directly." she pauses, "And if the information you give me here is what I need, I will strike a bargain with you, with profits exceeding that of Lai Misuna."

One of the other walls begins to shift and move, and a thin slab of metal falls out, to the floor with a loud clang.

  • Zahara walks over to inspect the slab, picking it up if possible

The slab is light and thin, perhaps three quarters of a foot on each side. Etched into its surface are what look like handwritten characters, along with various small designs and sigils along the borders. Upon it is what seems to be a list -- beginning with "Channelcages of Xi-Mi-Taxi manufacture" and continuing on through an increasingly bizarre list of strange items and materials.

  • Zahara traces the symbols and sigils with her eyes, focusing intently on the 'informational list' to try to discover a pattern within it all... especially the other items on the list.

The items are truly and stupendously odd -- "Gold from the Heart of Autochthon," "Feathers from the lords of Elysion," and others. They seem to originate throughout the worlds. None sound particularly easy to obtain.

<Zahara> "Is this a list of items you have procured for Misuna?"

<FirstContainer?> "It is probable that it is a list of items which Misuna was in the process of procuring from a variety of sources."

<Zahara> "Intriguing. Do these items relate to the channelcages?"

<FirstContainer?> "Upon contact Misuna spoke of a 'process' and indicated that with the completion of the list it would become possible."

<Zahara> "Did he indicate how far along he was at obtaining these items? When was it that you contacted him last?"

<FirstContainer?> "Contact with this unit concluded with the resolution of the requested production approximately 9 moon cycles ago, some 25 moon cycles after our initial contact."

<Zahara> "And had he obtained any others of these items?"

<FirstContainer?> "He has obtained all of these items."

  • Zahara bites back a curse
  • Zahara clears her throat. "Did he indicate what the outcome of his plan would be?"

<FirstContainer?> "No such information was proffered. However, after the delivery of the first shipment of channelcages, during the time it is believed Misuna completed the list, this unit recognized a substantial shift in his Essence field structure, in keeping with the pattern engraved within the channelcages."

<Zahara> "He increased his ability to channel Essence?"

<FirstContainer?> "He gained the ability to channel Essence."

<Zahara> "He was mortal, then, when he came to you?"

<FirstContainer?> "Initially."

<Zahara> "Did you recognize what god's essence flows within him now?"

<FirstContainer?> "It would be possible to identify it with a matching sample."

<Zahara> "Could you show me the process with which to activate the channelcages?"

<FirstContainer?> "The channelcage can create a freestanding pattern of Essence through committing the necessary motes for approximately six hours. Producing the effect apparently created for Misuna is beyond the understanding of First Container."

  • Zahara turns the soul widget Marku gave her over and over in her hands. "So Misuna is using these for something other than its intended purpose, then?"

<FirstContainer?> "The device's purpose is to create a field of Essence in a chosen pattern. It is the process of implanting such a field within a life form which is unfamiliar."

<Zahara> "Could the pattern be altered?"

<FirstContainer?> "A different pattern could be created through a differing etching upon the cylinder."

<Zahara> "Could a pattern be created that would enhance an existing set of Essence flows?"

<FirstContainer?> There is some whirring and flashing lights.

<FirstContainer?> "This unit is uncertain. It would require further deliberation to determine."

<Zahara> "The flows in question would be of similar power to mine."

<FirstContainer?> "That is improbable. The Essence within Zahara is already nearly beyond the ability of such a cage to contain."

<Zahara> "What would happen if such a cage were to contain my Essence flows?"

<FirstContainer?> "It might burst."

<Zahara> "What of those of someone less powerful than I?"

<FirstContainer?> "It is uncertain."

<Zahara> "What of a cage made of purest Orichalcum?"

<FirstContainer?> "Testing would become necessary."

<Zahara> "I have brought some of this material with me, it is above. How long would the construction and testing take if I were to provide you with the materials?"

<FirstContainer?> "One sun-cycle should be sufficient."

<Zahara> "You may keep the excess Orichalcum for your time."

<FirstContainer?> Appreciative humming fills the room.

<FirstContainer?> "This bargain is acceptable."

<Zahara> "Excellent. Then I shall return when one sun-cycle has passed to view the results. Any other artifacts you may have that would help us fight a battle against ten million new exalts would also be appreciated."

<FirstContainer?> "This matter will be considered."

<Zahara> "I appreciate your time, First Container. I will give the Orichalcum to The Thirteenth Matrix of Progression, to return to you."

The eye bobs up and down in seeming appreciation.

  • Zahara bows gracefully and retreats to the Thirteenth Matrix

<FirstContainer?> The glass dome opens to allow Zahara passage.

<ThirteenthMatrix?> "The entity will return to the surface and provide this unit with the Orichalcum payment."

  • Zahara does as promised

<FirstContainer?> "Welcome upon your return, designate Zahara Zhan."

<Zahara> "Has the experiment progressed well?"

<FirstContainer?> "Boundaries of effectiveness have been successfully established."

<Zahara> "What is the result?"

<FirstContainer?> "Ability to strengthen existing Essence pattern proved minimal. However, tolerances for Essence capacity using orichalcum base proved stronger than use of mundane metals."

<Zahara> "Can you project the result of using such a thing on an Exalt of power equal to mine, in a similar fashion as what you saw with Misuna?"

<FirstContainer?> "Possible to produce a moderate increase in Essence flow strength, resulting in slight improvement of basic functionality. Ability to implant still beyond the knowledge of this unit, however."

<Zahara> "Excellent. Was payment for the first sufficient?"

<FirstContainer?> "Yes."

<Zahara> "Then I shall pay in kind for four more." Once I consult my companions, I shall let you know how many of the regular cages we will require. You have been most helpful. Did you have anything else to show me?"

<FirstContainer?> "No other information available for this current visitation."

<Zahara> "When shall I return for the other four? I brought your payment with me."

  • Zahara procures a lump of Orichalcum four times larger than she had given before, that she had brought in anticipation of a successful endeavour

<FirstContainer?> "If Zahara will wait for 1/6th of a sun cycle, it will be proffered at that time."

<Zahara> "I will indeed wait for them. While waiting, I shall work on furthering the design of the Manse above, and the Essence line I promised you."

The lights flicker a brilliant green color, with the slightest tinge of gold, and the eye moves up and down excitedly.

Within four hours, the channelcages are finished.

Within four hours, significant progress, and a nice lightshow, have been applied to the Manse. A revitalizing stream of Essence now feeds the First Cage directly.

Tags: (:tags Sea of Gears, Xi-Mi-Taxi, Lai Misuna, First Container of Sixteen Truths, Thirteenth Matrix of Progression, Channelcages, Exaltation Checklist:)

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