Leaving behind the other Solars, Kraken journeys, deep in the (surprisingly comfortable) belly of Selonis, to the heavenly realm of Yu-Shan.

He feels the Essence shift as they travel from the Isle of Glass into heaven itself. Cerin realizes that he can actually communicate fairly effectively with Selonis simply by speaking, since the Lion can apparently hear what occurs deep within his belly.

  • Selonis hums lightly as he walks, massive paws creating almost no sound as he traverses the pathways.

<Cerin> "So were are the peaches kept anyway, Selonis?"

  • Selonis speaks, and there is no sound but that within Cerin's head. "There is a small, well-guarded forest near the four transcendent spires."

<Cerin> "Ah." Cerin nods to himself "How long have you been a celestial lion ... since the forging of Heaven?"

<Selonis?> "Oh, no. The heavens were created long before they were populated. But I was one of the first Guardians, along with my brothers." He pads on thoughtfully, then chuckles a bit. "Of course, at first, we had nothing to Guard but the Dome."

<Cerin> "Of course." he says, amused "So when was the rest of Heavens created?"

<Selonis?> "That is difficult to say, since they then invented Time as we know it now."

<Cerin> "That might have made it difficult to determine, yes." he adjusts his posture to one more comfortable, reclining in the stomach "Were we allowed into Heaven in what we called the First Age?"

<Selonis?> "We who? The Solars, or all Exalted? Or all humans?"

  • Cerin shrugs. "I meant solars, but all of those answers are interesting."
  • Selonis shrugs, which sends a bit of a ripple through Cerin. "Humans have rarely entered Yu Shan, except as personal slaves to powerful Gods, and the occasional Exalt. Most often, however, those slaves and servants were Dragon-Blooded. It has always been rare for them to enter alone. The Celestials used to enter rather frequently in the First Age..."

<Selonis?> "The Star-Chosen, of course, work here and always have. They are almost without exception welcome, unless they have gone Rogue. We disapprove of those." he says mildly. "Children of the Sun and Moon generally only entered Heaven on business... they were supposed to be ruling Creation, not dallying in Heaven. They also attended many of the balls and fetes thrown by their patrons, and of course the feast of Calibration."

<Cerin> "And what stopped that? The Exalted in heaven ... not that your stomach is uncomfortable..."

<Selonis?> "I can't say."

A flock of birds of pearlescent light flap lazily past the celestial lion, heading in the opposite direction.

  • Cerin nods.

The sky above Yu-Shan shifts -- the light of the gigantic, brilliant stars dims, and an almost grotesquely large and elaborate moon rises up above Heaven.

  • Selonis absently checks his mental list of pearlescent birds who should be in this general area and nods to himself. "The Gods are not always forthcoming with their reasons."

<Cerin> "That I have noticed. Especially when hunting." he looks thoughful "How mnay times have Peaches been stolen before?"

  • Selonis ponders this for a moment.

<Selonis?> "How many have TRIED? Or SUCCEEDED?"

The road upon which the lion walks winds lazily towards the forest where the Peaches grow. About five hundred yards away would probably be a good place to stop and examine the defenses, to avoid drawing undue attention.

  • Cerin smiles "The first and then the second."
  • Selonis ticks up the count mentally - he knows the name of every single one - and it takes him a very long time to finish counting. "7,042, not counting you. And two."
  • Cerin smiles a little wider.

<Selonis?> "Of course, the Sidereal strike teams found the two that got away."

<Selonis?> "One of them managed to hide for..hmmm.. seven years."

<Cerin> "I shall have to see what I can do about beating the current record, then."

<Selonis?> "Indeed." he pauses for a moment to inspect the defenses. Well, the defenses that aren't HIM at least.

<Cerin> "We've stopped?"

<Selonis?> "We are almost there. I'm checking to make sure my brothers are elsewhere."

  • Cerin nods

The celestial orchard is walled in by a barrier of purest amethyst and gold, stretching up fifty feet from the ground, with only a single entrance. Guarding said gateway are four celestial lions, much like Selonis himself. Creatures that look something like spider-squids of light slowly scuttle in a circle along the walls, ensuring against entry from above. (...)

More of the pearlescent birds fly above the tops of the trees, and tree-tending gods scurry up and down the branches within the orchard. From outside, two great towers of crystal shine bright circular lights down onto the forest, which move irregularly, scanning for intruders.

  • Selonis describes the scene for Cerin

<Cerin> "Thank you." He considers "Could you open your mouth a little, I need a look myself." And then to Selonis' senses, he ceases to be, carefully climbing up the Lion's throat

Cerin sees a sight much like that just described to him, though his Essence sight shows him more -- the elaborate web of essence woven between the spider-squids, the enchantments upon the wall that make it slicker and more difficult to climb than any in Creation, and the carefully placed traps of Essence scattered liberally across the floor of the orchard.

  • Cerin considers. The door was out. He had not the tools to bypass that, so he would have to climb the wall ...
  • Selonis gives Cerin some insight on how the defenses work

<Cerin> "I am begining to see why 7,042 people failed to steal peaches."

<Selonis?> "Indeed." he notes. "They are VERY well-protected. That's part of why I brought you here, I was curious to see where our defenses needed to be shored up."

<Selonis?> "It has been an Age since last we updated them. I believe one of the spids is quite distractable if one provides something of interest to it."

<Cerin> "The squids are not so much the issue ... it is that web ..."

<Selonis?> "I suspect that if you can feed some of your Essence into one of the Carrot-papaya souffles, that will make it pause long enough to open up a gap in the web just wide enough for half of you to slip through." He considers for a moment, "Then again, you will leave your Signature behind that way."

<Cerin> "That I would prefer to avoid, but I will consider it."

<Selonis?> "You could try to collect some of the ambient essence. There's quite a bit around here."

  • Cerin reaches into several of the pockets on the crimson suit he wears, studying the souffles, and then the web, before drawing out a series of occult tools.
  • Cerin then leans out of the lion's mouth, carefully picking nine of the seven petalled cold and crimson flowers. He takes each one, and pulls a petal from it, weaving an anti-pattern for the web into it, as he sits on the Lion's tongue, until he has 62 petals, each capable of neutralising a small section of the web, and one petal to take home for Zahara.
  • Selonis contends valiantly with the urge to chew and swallow

<Cerin> "I think I'm ready now." he says softly

  • Selonis strolls along, depositing Cerin neatly next to a tree.

<Cerin> "I will tap your left paw when I have the peach."

<Selonis?> "Good luck." He lays down in a sunbeam for a nice nap

  • Cerin slips out of his mouth, the armour wrapping him in imperceptable essence, his own magic and anima wrapping him closer still, his essence borne footsteps so light he doesnt even bend the stems of the emerald grass he walks on as he moves towards the wall. When he reaches the base, were he visble, he would blur as he climbed it.

Though the wall is slicker than anything Cerin can even recall encountering before, he somehow manages to gain just enough traction to pull himself up, at a blazing speed -- a good thing, since even the tiniest bit less momentum would've left him flat on the ground. As he reaches the top of the wall, he grips his fingers around the edge and hangs his body downward -- since pulling himself up to the top of the wall would instantly result in immobilization

  • Cerin applies the slightest movement, flicking up and over the wall, hurling 31 petals onto the web below him, then falling through it, his fingers plucking each and everyone from the air as the web snaps back into existance behind him, climbing down the wall on the inside with the same speed
  • Cerin lands on the grass, balancing on his tiptoes on two blades, then moving with easy grace, leaping from grass stalk to grass stalk as he makes his way to the nearest tree.

<Cerin> And so, three seconds after he first braved the defences of the orchard, Cerin looks up at the Peaches he has come to steal.

  • Cerin leaps up into the branches as the searchlight sweeps the ground was just standing on

His hand wraps around a single branch, then he pulls himself up into an upside-down position. He would appear, for the moment, to be entirely safe.

  • Cerin takes a few moments to be sure he knows where he is, and where all the gods that tend the fruits are, and then starts to look around for these Peaches ...

The trees are more barren than he would have expected. However, in each of the trees, somewhere within the branches, Cerin can locate a single, perfect peach.

  • Cerin studies the gods and the lights, then the peaches for an instant and then he moves. One quick slice of gold and a peach is stolen. One for the Exalts. He runs along the branches to the next tree. One for Zahara. Another Tree. One for me. And then he is back at the base of the wall, three of the divine peaches in his pockets.

Cerin's motion goes miraculously unnoticed.

<Cerin> And now to leave this place, he thinks to himself as he looks up the wall.

  • Cerin repeats the motions of before, essence once more guiding his footsteps and hands as he flows up the wall, casting the other 31 petals above him as he shoots out about the wall, catching them with the swirling ribbons of his armour, then flowing down the farside and running from the wall to the sleeping Selonis.

The celestial lion awaits him, still napping.

  • Cerin considers ... twelve seconds was not much of a nap ... Cerin waits until the lions mouth opens in a snore and slips inside, to await his awakening ...
  • Selonis continues snoozing for some time, his grumbling snores rattling Cerin's bones
  • Cerin lets him sleep for half an hour, using the time to store the peaches in his egg, then climbs out and wakes him
  • Selonis snorts, blinks, and yawns hugely.
  • Cerin climbs back inside again

<Selonis?> "How did it go, my young friend?"

  • Selonis stretches from head to toe, and moseys on toward the gates of Heaven

<Cerin> "It went well. I have three peaches, and I had a pleasant nap in your stomach for half an hour, too."

<Selonis?> "Warm in there, isn't it?"

  • Selonis stops for a drink
  • Cerin nods
  • Selonis continues on out, taking the Gate to the world in which Markuran had first met him for their sparring match.

Tags: (:tags Selonis, Yu-Shan, Peaches of Immortality, First Age, Sidereals :)

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