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After the fight with Zahara in the dungeons Markuran slipped out of the Labyrinthine Cascade and made for the Gateway. Quietly repeating the words of the Petrok hunter to himself as he went, the big man took an hour to reach the depths of the Eastern forests. Moving without real care, the barbarian was angry enough to hope he attracted the attention of something mean, nasty and powerful. In fact, such was his great desire. For some weeks, Marku had been wanting to leave the Sunlands and contact the Lunar Exalted, hoping to gain their aid. He'd taken the chance with Cerin and Zahara distracted and the new Dragonbloods delt with. With luck and calm waters, he'd find what he sought.

As he pauses to listen, Marku hears the slightest rustle of leaves to the northwest, though it is only the faintest of sounds.

  • Markuran begins storming in that direction, making it seem as if he had intended to head there all along. Between bouts of cursing and stepping on loud plants, Marku listens carefully

Though it is faint, the rustling in the leaves can be faintly heard to move to one side -- moving out of Marku's path.

  • Markuran slips through the brush with a skill and stealth that belies his great size and strength. Leaving behind his ruse of inattention, the big barbarian stalks this noise carefully, sending Essence through his body in careful preperation

Listening carefully, Markuran spots the location of his quarry -- perhaps 30 feet away, almost directly west from his current standing

All of a sudden, the rustling stops.

  • Markuran grabs a hanging vine and wraps it several times around one arm. Giving it a tug that makes the tree lean several degrees in a new direction, Marku is satisified with its strength. Hauling himself into the tree, the big man checks out the general area 30 feet to the west. Nodding, he leaps from the tree, letting the vine cushion his fall. With a great explosion of leaves, Marku lands next to the source of the rustling.

Marku lands precisely where he heard the sound -- but finds it surprisingly empty. No creature has stirred since the sound stopped, yet no one stands there....

  • Markuran turns around in a circle slowly, examining the floor and canopy carefully. Sniffing several times as he looks, Marku frowns...he did hear something..

As Marku turns, a single wasp flies up from the jungle floor and begins to head upwards towards the opening in the canopy....

  • Markuran glowers and crouches, leaping upwards to catch the wasp. A clap of thunder from his massive hands stuns the 'wasp' momentarily as Marku reaches for it

Marku moves with a surprising deftness to clasp the wasp within his hands. He lets out a yell of excitement -- though that is short-lived, as he suddenly finds himself holding a rhinoceros.

  • Markuran quickly falls to the ground, weighed down as he is by the sudden increase in size of his prey. The muscles of Marku's arms strain as he hefts the rhino above his head, keeping a firm grip on its massive body. "You will not escape me, Lunar."

The rhino shifts in form to that of a snake, and begins winding down one massively muscled arm.

  • Markuran grabs it by the head. "What part of that very short phrase did not penetrate your brain?"

The snake looks irritated for a moment, and then shifts into the form of a slender woman, with long silver hair; she wears the pelt of a tyrant lizard, and chains of silver run over much of her body. Markings of black patterns trace over her skin, and light glints off of them unnaturally.

<Serenal?> "What is your business here? I do not recognize your tribe."

  • Markuran peers at the woman in his grip. "I am Markuran the Bear of the Lakewalkers. I am Sun-Choosen and I need to speak with the Moon-born. I trust you are one such, or an extremely impertinent goddess."

<Serenal?> "You pick a poor fashion to draw my attention."

<Markuran> "You pick a poor way to greet visitors."

<Markuran> "And while I was merely trying to ask you a question, you tried to crush me with your vast bulk."

<Serenal?> "I have no interest in visitors."

<Markuran> "You should begin to take one. If I put you down, will you listen to me or must I continue to hold you by the neck?"

<Serenal?> "If I must."

  • Markuran gently sets the Lunar on the forest floor, watching her carefully, arm still ready to snatch her back into the air if she tries to flee.

<Markuran> "Things are growing dark in the world, Lunar. The Realm moves against the East, gods plot to displace and destroy the Exalted of Sun and Moon and Earth with their own. Ancient creatures from before Man rise again to threaten the world. And the dead rage across vast nations unchecked. Would you remain hidden away, a coward in your lands, waiting for doom to come?"

  • Serenal looks irritated at Markuran's words. "I am no coward, fool. I protect my own lands and my own people. What care should I have for you? Your kind are corrupt and decadent, as you have always been." She shifts her hips a little to indicate her displeasure
  • Markuran crosses his arms over his chest, glowering down at her with a sneer on his lips. "You are both a coward and a fool if you think burying your head in the leaves like an ostrich will help you. The dead walk the land, seeking to make all join them. The Dragon-Blooded would slaughter you in your sleep and the corrupt godlings would have their servants cleave you in two. I bring you warning and an offer of help."

<Markuran> "If you would continue your stupidity at the cost of your life, turn your people to my guardianship and show me where I may find a Lunar worthy of the great silver Goddess."

<Serenal?> "You think I need your assistance? Why? Because you continue to believe yourself the most wise and powerful creature in the world, as your kind has always done? I think not. My own allies serve me far better."

<Markuran> "Without a drop of sweat from my brow, I captured you and held you tight. If I had wished, you would be bloody on the ground, broken and dying. If I feel cause to worry, you do indeed need my assistance."

  • Markuran sighs, looking at the seething Lunar with an unhappy frown. "Do you want your people to die? You need my help and I need that of you and your people. My words are harsh because I fear for many more people then you can know. I fear for the entire scope of Creation if my task fails."

<Serenal?> "Pfffft! Why would you care for my people?" She sits on a nearby tree stump and begins fiddling absentmindedly with a pure silver dagger.

  • Markuran snaps his head up, one fist moving from its place on his chest. Then, with an effort, he calms himself. "Because I was born to a tribe like the ones you protect. And I would see anyone I can save survive the coming wars."

<Markuran> "I have fought back the Fae to save my people, Serenal. Fought the dead, the armies of Mask of Winters and Walker in Darkness. Five nations bow to me and my Circle because without us they would have perished against the walls and armies of Lookshy. We have made friends with the ancient races of the world. I have roamed the ice of the north, swum in the salt seas of the west. I have seen this world and given my blood for it."

<Markuran> "I want to save it and everyone in it from what's coming."

<Serenal?> "Hmmmmm." She stabs the dagger into the stump. "What are these vague threats then, that I should be so utterly terrified of?"

<Markuran> "I spoke of them when I first caught you!" Marku's snapped reply vibrates the air, sending leaves falling in a green rain. Once again he calms himself, nodding apology. "The dead walk and do not die when struck down. The Deathlords plot and scheme against us. Rogue Gods would have their own servants replace us and rule Creation for them. And the races before Man rise again, some to seek our doom."

  • Serenal carves an intricate pattern into the wood. "And where is this glorious empire" -- the distaste is evident -- "of yours located?"

<Markuran> "To the southwest, the Sunlands. The lands of Chaya, Jakobi, Marukan and Crosanti have joined us. And Krala soon will."

  • Serenal transforms into a silver-feathered hawk, still standing upon the stump. "If you seriously desire my alliance, then I shall examine your lands. In doing so, I shall make my decision." She begins to flap her wings and ascend upwards.

Tags: (:tags Lunars, Serenal:)

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