< Tomb Raiding 4 | Sol Invictus Logs | A Shuffling of Solars >

The Solars stand before the gate in the (now slowly recovering) woods beyond the Cascade, preparing to journey into the cold, frigid north.

  • Cerin inputs the coordinates to take them close to Iallu's Sanctum, somewhat to the west of the haslanti league and hopefully free of the fighting.

The gate roars to life, as it has so many times in the past, leading out onto a flat plane of ice.

  • Zahara frowns a bit, as she walks through. "Remember when we first discovered these gates, and Marku almost fell into that lake of lava?"
  • Cerin grins and nods

Upon the other side of the gate is a vast sheet of ice, much like the one the Solars discovered on one of their first trips through the gateways. In most directions, it is flat and featureless, but to the northwest a set of icy mountains rise up out of the ground, their vicious crags hiding whatever might lie behind them.

<Zahara> "It occurs to me now, that it's too bad he didn't."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Mm. Then we wouldn't have to clean up after evil-Marku."

<Zahara> "Exactly."

  • Birds adjusts the large parcel she has strapped to a sled.

<Zahara> "Well, which way is Iallu's?"

Birds' info tells her that the Temple is likely to lie within that mountain range.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "In the mountains."

<Kai> "Who's Iallu now?"

<Cerin> "Iallu is a goddess of secrets."

<Cerin> "Birds met her in Yu Shan."

The Solars find themselves at the foot of the jagged, steep cliffs; the temple, apparently, lies beyond.

  • Zahara heads onward.
  • Cerin stands on one of the ribbons of Zahara's dress as she climbs the air

The group, not deigning to actually set foot on the mountains, progress onward. It is some distance to reach the top, but no particular difficulty. As the four crest the top of one particular peak and get their first glimpse beyond, they can easily spot it: the Temple of Unfeeling Ice. In a valley between several of the larger, more jagged peaks lies a large structure, circular and perhaps a quarter of a mile wide. Twelve great pieces of ice arc up from its outside borders, nearly meeting over the center of the temple; in between pathways and promenades wind inwards from the borders towards a central cupola.

<Zahara> "Very fancy."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Funny, her place in Yu-Shan is like a librarian's boudoir."

  • Birds floats toward the cupola and knocks on the peak.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Hello?"

<charlequin?> The building vibrates a little as Birds knocks on it, and it lets off a slight noise, fairly odd for anyone who's never heard ice clang before.

<Zahara> "Covered in illustrations of the Immaculate Positions?'

Perhaps a minute passes with no response, then a figure -- a woman, apparently possessed of entirely faceted surfaces and wearing fairly extensive purple robes -- steps out from a small door visible on the south-southwest side of the building. "Why is someone knocking on my temple?"

<Zahara> "That would be Birds of Trinity attempting to get your attention. It seems to have worked." she smiles pleasantly.

  • Birds runs across the clouds to meet Iallu. "We don't like coming in unannounced. I brought you something!"
  • Iallu turns and notices Birds hanging upside down and grinning loonily above her building and utters a surprised "it's YOU" at about the same moment that Zahara speaks to her. Half-blinking -- perhaps, the facets make it hard to tell -- she waits for Birds to arrive with her "present."
  • Birds pulls over the sled. "I thought you might be getting a little peckish here in the desolation of the North, so I brought some hero-apples from An-Teng and this wine made by Immaculate monks, called Dragon's Breath. They won't tell anyone the recipe, it must be very good."
  • Birds pokes the box with holes in it, which growls. "And also a tiger kitten to play with."

<Kai> "I wondered what was making that noise..."

  • Iallu accepts the gifts gingerly, holding the food in each hand and barely balancing the rather rambunctious holed box between both arms.

<Zahara> "I'd be sure to feed it soon, if I were you."

<Iallu?> "That's, um, very thoughtful of you." She looks about from one direction to another for a moment and then, from a dead stop, bolts back into the temple, leaving the door only slightly ajar.

  • Birds wonders momentarily, when was the last time she fed Nibbles?
  • Zahara checks those directions, just in case, then follows her in oh so politely.

The door opens in on a domed room utterly unlike the exterior of the temple, decorated as it is with elaborate, almost gaudy, gold trim and red velvet drapery. Vast, sweeping, curved shelves line the outside walls; past a circular balcony of perhaps ten feet the floor drops almost five feet downwards. In the inset portion at center, smaller sets of shelves form intricate passageways and room spaces that can easily be seen and examined from above. The tiger cub, the apple, and the wine are neatly piled to one side of the entryway, while Iallu herself is not instantly, immediately visible.

  • Zahara slides her gaze over the room with well-disguised curiosity. "What a lovely home you have here, Iallu."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Yes. It's very... ...tidy."

There is no immediate response.

  • Birds thinks to Cerin, :: I dare you to blurt, "I know something you don't know." ::

There is kind of an uncomfortable pause for several minutes.

  • Zahara ponders what to do, reflecting that she's not sure what they're here for, other than the general 'secrets' kind of thing.
  • Birds starts to idly browse through the bookcases.
  • Zahara elongates one of her sleeves, and dangles it in front of the rumbly box.

After about five minutes of no one making any obvious motions towards leaving at all, there's a sudden snap. Appearing from within a reasonably nearby bookcase, Iallu shouts out with sort of an exasperated "AIIIRRRGGGHHHHH!" and slams the front door closed before standing in front of it, unconsciously imitating the state of breathlessness.

  • Zahara raises a brow.

<Zahara> "I am curious what Birds has done that causes you to be so...mmm..surprised that we would make a social visit."

  • Birds exchanges a confused look with a small misbegotten thing on one of the shelves.
  • Iallu looks back and forth rapidly once again. After finally satisfying herself that there are not, in fact, any spies within immediate visible distance, she looks over exasperatedly at Birds-of-Trinity. "Do you have any idea how much trouble you caused me?!" She doesn't sound furious; it's more the tone of someone irritated that a friend has gotten one in trouble with one's significant other.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Not at all. Are you going to tell us?" She grins. "I love stories."

<BirdsOfTrinity> A bit later, "Oh, also, sorry. I probably didn't mean it."

  • Iallu huffs a little and storms over to the edge of the balcony. Walking across the tops of the shelves, she drops into a reasonably large enclosure of shelves. Waving her hands, she summons up chairs -- a vast, monstrously huge stuffed device which has somehow withstood an intense level of wear for herself, and small cast-iron chairs for the Solars -- and a large, steaming mug of tea for herself. She waits for the Solars to be seated.
  • Zahara sits, managing to look comfortable on the cast iron despite its sharp edges
  • Birds balances precariously on a chairback.
  • Kai sits quietly.

<Iallu?> "It's been just absolute HELL these past few months trying to accomplish ANYTHING worthwhile," she says, taking a large sip of her conjured tea.

  • Birds raises an eyebrow diplomatically.

<Iallu?> "This whole war against humanity. I have no interest in it. Why would I? So many more interesting secrets this way. But NO. The Dual Triad, they're not interested in that position. They want EVERY god to participate."

  • Iallu looks over at Birds again. "They were FURIOUS when they found out I'd chatted with you in Heaven. Especially irritated that I'd found out about their Exaltation process from you than from them, I'd expect."
  • Zahara smirks slightly
  • Iallu looks over the other three Solars. "I don't know these other people. Are they your research assistants?"
  • Kai snorts.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Oh, pardon my manners. Everyone, this is Iallu the Ten-Faceted." She indicates the others, clearly waiting for them to introduce themselves.

  • Zahara coughs
  • Zahara rises gracefully, "I am Zahara Zhan, known as the Dreambreaker, Ruler of the Sunlands... along with my compatriots here."
  • Iallu waves to everyone stiffly.
  • Kai waves back.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We are, how do you say....comrades?"

  • Birds guesses at an appropriate Airtongue word.

<Iallu?> "Aha." Iallu sets down her mug. "So why DID you come here and scare me half to death?"

<Zahara> "Cerin the Wolf, Hunter of Men and Gods, and Kai Buckthorn Weilder of the Daybreaker.

  • Iallu nods very slightly around the circle.
  • Zahara gestures to her circlemates, then re-seats herself.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "You didn't get my letter?"

  • Birds thinks. "OH! We probably got here before it. Roland can't use the gates..."
  • Iallu blinks, her facets shifting as she does so

<Zahara> "Roland? Didn't he have that mmm trouble with the Sentient Trees of Dhaal last week? I was under the impression he was still there."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "How embarrassing. Well, as you can see, we brought you some treats, and I believe that Cerin had hoped for your counsel."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We were in the area looking for Essence of elemental Air."

<Iallu?> "You'll have to head some distance north for that. You're not going to be able to get there without getting into the scrap, I expect."

  • Birds nods.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Since you mention it, who are the Dual Triad?"

<Iallu?> "The three gods who head up the Red Lily and their little champions. They've managed to drag the whole of the Terrestrial hierarchy in after them in their damn fool scheme."

  • Iallu says that, then thinks about what she said and looks back and forth some more.

<Zahara> "And there is no dissent?"

<Iallu?> "We are GODS, not MORTALS. We do not dissent, we merely argue." Iallu retrieves her mug and takes another large sip.

<Zahara> "Indeed, then, is there any argument?"

  • Birds glances around too. "If we're being watched, Iallu, we'd notice. It's not always easy business being alive."

<Iallu?> "Some of us are happy with how our roles have fallen out in this Age, but most have been waiting for such an opportunity. They are not happy laboring to keep the world in shape for humans to live within. When the Empress disappeared the last part of the ancient geas fell away and gods like Ahlat were only too happy to take the opportunity presented."

<Zahara> "How is the Empress tied to the gaes?"

  • Iallu looks like she's about to answer and then she stops and waggles her index finger back and forth in the air. "Ah AH. It'll cost you."

<Zahara> "Will it indeed? It may help you out of your situation, in which case, you should be paying US."

  • Iallu makes a slightly cross expression at Zahara, and her facets grow smaller and more jagged-edged. "I can't very well stop pursuing my purpose simply because I am in mortal danger and under the threat of intense blackmail! I'm a GOD." She repeats this point as if the audience consists of fresh yearlings. "You've got to give me SOMETHING."

<Zahara> "Mmmm, although the mortal danger could end in you no longer pursuing your purpose ever again." she notes absently.

  • Birds laughs. "What do we, humble Chosen, have to offer to someone so glorious as yourself?"
  • Zahara leans over and whispers something in Iallu's ear. Let the record show that it was "I'm not wearing any underwear."

<Iallu?> "STORIES! I hear the whisperings of what you've done and where you've been. I can guarantee you've unearthed facts that even my extensive collection can't match..." She trails off as Zahara leans over.

  • Iallu sputters a little bit.
  • Zahara leans back and grins, crossing her hands over her lap politely.

<Iallu?> "I'll make it easy for you." She gestures again and a sizeable tome opens up on an end table sitting next to Birds' chair. "Just write something in there, something I can make halfway decent use of. That's all." It would appear that the difficulties of the past months have drastically lowered Iallu's standards.

  • Birds takes a moment to cipher a saucy poem inside a description of the Ygdommu and Laerad's recent activities.
  • Iallu mentally assures herself that Birds is, indeed, writing something halfway interesting and decides to continue onward. Another gesture causes a rather sizeable picturebook to come flying out from a far distant shelf and wing its way at breakneck speed to their current location, where it screeches to a stop in the air. She makes a flipping motion with her hand and it opens up, flipping through pages before settling on a vaguely familiar image -- the Scarlet Empress, shortly after her ascension, a golden disc with a sunburst logo visible upon her chest.

<Zahara> ::The Seal::

  • Birds edits the description a little bit so that it also contains a coded recipe for lemon cakes.

<Iallu?> "The Empress disappeared five years ago, leaving beyond the boundaries of the world. When she did so, the last seal of the Solar Deliberative left as well. All magics held in place by the power of that body were broken at that moment."

<Kai> "The LAST Seal?"

<Iallu?> "In Creation, yes."

<Zahara> "Their return does not reinstate the rules?"

<Iallu?> "The bindings of the Deliberative were built on the power of all the seals. Just one of them was strong enough to maintain those bindings, but they are broken now. It would require the reinstitution of the Deliberative as a whole to have any chance of reawakening those magics now."

<Zahara> "I see. That is mildly distressing."

  • Iallu lowers her hand and the book shuts and sidles away, back to its designated shelf.

<Zahara> "Not that it wasn't one of our long-term goals to begin with, but it seems a bit difficult to pursue with the Empress' seal outside of Creation."

  • Iallu nods.

<Zahara> "Hmmm Do you recall Alahwi at all, Iallu?"

<Iallu?> "The name sounds familiar."

<Zahara> "In the First Age, she defeated Kiriath the Destroyer, among other things.

<Iallu?> "Aaaah, hmmmm, yes, yes. That wasn't very SECRET at the time, but I suppose I have heard of it."

<Zahara> "All knowledge of the First Age has been hidden, turned secret, by the conspiracy of the Immaculates, who are also the authors of the Hundred Gods Heresy - those who deny you Gods the right to your due worship.

<Iallu?> "Yes, yes, I'm familiar with all that. I know that the Knights orchestrated an elaborate plot to eliminate traces of the Solar Deliberative and build an inferior rulership of Terrestrials, this is all quite elementary knowledge to me."

  • Iallu barely finishes speaking before a look that would probably best be parsed as "DAMMIT! I should've asked for another payment" crosses her face
  • Zahara nods slightly, "And, would you say that this so-called Heresy has led to the dissatisfaction of the Gods, with the current order?"

<Iallu?> "Some. Though it is largely the poorer state of worship in this era, since we were barred from demanding the direct worship of mortals in the previous age as well."

  • Zahara considers this.

<Zahara> "Somehow I cannot see that being resolved simply through being able to force mortals to worship you directly. For one thing, the population of these mortals remains the same, and for another, they are a notoriously fractious bunch.

<Zahara> "You perhaps heard of The Three Lights, and what happened to them?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "The problem lies in the worship itself, not how it is applied...freely demanding worship creates problems like Ahlat."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "...yes, and the Three Lights."

  • Iallu laughs. "You do not need to convince me, Zahara Zhan, I am the one who has wished to withhold from this war."

<Zahara> "Of course." she smiles, "I am merely eliciting your opinion since you have spoken to the others, and have a vast store of knowledge to which I am not part. And as for the Three Lights, I am referring to when the mortals decided they were no longer in need of their services, before the debacle that ensued."

<Zahara> "It occurs to me that a more centralized system that could distribute the benefits more evenly to those Gods who keep Creation running on the Fringes, may be something we could devise."

<Iallu?> "Such a thing is certainly possible. Perhaps you are different and would implement such a system where your predecessors did not. Then again, perhaps not." She doesn't particularly sound bitter, just... realistic.

<Zahara> "On the other hand, there will certainly be many open portfolios after this war truly begins."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We are imperfect, but idealistic!"

<Zahara> "Would this idea be of worth to fight for? For those who wish to join in the war, of course."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I find it is an inspiring combination. Why, my volume of Odes to Zahara is nearly as big as my head..."

  • Zahara raises a brow

<Iallu?> "Possibly. For some of my less stupid brothers and sisters, perhaps."

<Zahara> "As I see it, Gods should get the proper worship due them in the Celestial Hierarchy, with regard to the power of their position, not simply how many *ahem* mortals.. they can gather 'round them."

<Iallu?> "I will admit, that would drastically improve my own experience, given my typical distaste for mortals."

  • Iallu thinks for a moment.

<Iallu?> "I am hard-pressed to see you in a position to offer such grand schemes, however."

<Zahara> "Ah, but I have the power of Sorcery at hand. And a monkey."

<Kai> quietly: "It's my monkey..."

  • Iallu looks oddly at the monkey.
  • Zahara nods solemnly.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Monkeys are essential."

<Zahara> "So. I do not claim that I could do this alone. It would take cooporation from those who wished to be a part of it.

  • Iallu nods slightly.

<Zahara> "If this secret plan of mine were to get out, well, I would not be unhappy."

  • Iallu suddenly laughs much more deeply.

<Zahara> "I have been thinking on it long and long, but have not yet been able to act on it, due to other pressing concerns such as this highly inconvenient war."

<Iallu?> "You are simultaneously subtler and far, far more blatant than I could have guessed, Zahara Zhan."

  • Zahara smiles slightly. "I like to consider my approach similar to a velvet hammer."
  • Iallu chuckles again.

<Zahara> "May I take it that we see eye to eye on this matter?"

  • Iallu looks straight at Zahara. "You might take away such a thing."
  • Zahara nods lightly, and smiles, then takes the book from in front of Birds, and inscribes said plan within it, along with a detailed account of the destruction of the Shadowed Unlife Equation, and the ways to inhibit its casting.
  • Cerin appears once more in the room, walking over to sit beside Zahara "It is an interesting library you have downstairs, Iallu." he notes innocently
  • Iallu looks a little askance at Cerin. "It... is... very interesting, yes. Filled with interesting things, I have no patience for anything else."
  • Zahara signs her secrets with a little flourish.

<Cerin> "Very interesting things." Cerin agrees with a nod.

  • Zahara looks around, "Did anyone else wish to share secrets?"

After considering matters and deciding that Cerin is not, in fact, evil, she truns over to speak to him. "I understand you had a matter you wished to speak to me about."

<Kai> :: Perhaps we could share some First Age secrets back-and-forth ::

<Cerin> "Well, there were three things I wished to ask of you. All relatively unrelated."

  • Iallu nods, then expressively gestures to the entire group with one hand and once more to the empty book with the other.

<Iallu?> "Ask away."

  • Cerin nods, and takes up the quill. "First I would like to know of Ymir. What can you tell me of her?" as he waits for her answer, he writes out a page of ymir's diary, still in code, into the book.
  • Iallu seems intrigued by what Cerin offers. "I know two secrets of hers. One is that she returned to Creation but once during her self-imposed exile, and that she left satisfied that justice was done. The other is that she something valuable to her is currently in the possession of a man with no face, and every face. You have encountered the trace of him very recently, though even I do not know the name to call him by."

<Cerin> "Ah, I thank you for both those pieces of information. The second question concerns souls. How are they woven together, if that is a thing you know, or who could tell me?" Cerin draws the essence patterns of the souls of the mask of winters into the book.

  • Iallu considers for a second, then decides that Cerin's contribution is intriguing enough to divulge more. "The man I've mentioned is also key to your investigation into the disappearance of a certain large, immobile artifact. Yes," she says preemptively, "I know that you're looking for it."

<Iallu?> "Regarding your second question...." She pulls out a map of Rathess and marks a location, in an out of the way corner of the fifth octant. "I don't believe the buried laboratory here has been fully excavated yet. You might want to look there for answers."

<Iallu?> "And your third question?"

  • Cerin nods, taking note of the map. "The third I am not sure if you can or will answer. We know those of the Red Lily have many hidden fortresses in the north. If you would, I would like to know where they are." He considers what to write into the book next.
  • Iallu sighs. "I'm afraid I cannot tell you that, Cerin the Wolf. I cannot do my own kind such an injustice, however sweet" -- she casts a greedy glance at Ymir's strange shorthand, copied into her book -- "the reward." She makes an overly dramatic "woe is me" gesture.

At about the same moment, an origami flower falls from a nearby shelf and lands on Birds-of-Trinity's shoulder. She grasps it and looks at it intently.

<Iallu?> "Is that all I can help you with today, Solars?"

<Zahara> "Can you tell us where they are NOT?"

Shooting a glance over to Birds of Trinity, still entranced by the elaborate folds of the flower, she says: "I'm afraid I can't tell you ANYTHING about them."

  • Iallu sits up, waves a hand, and the chairs all fly rapidly out of the chamber, leaving the Solars either standing or in a heap depending on how stubbornly they refuse to rise.

<Iallu?> "So, with that taken care of...."

  • Zahara remains seated on the air.


  • Iallu pauses.

<Iallu?> "Oh, and thank you for the kitten."

  • Kai clambers to her feet.
  • Zahara rises casually, nodding to Iallu respectfully. "I believe you deserve a promotion." she notes, then walks toward the door.

Tags: (:tags Iallu, Temple of Unfeeling Ice, Nibbles, Dual Triad, Scarlet Empress, Geas, Dawn Caste Seal, Solar Deliberative, Seals of the Deliberative, Alahwi, Kiriath, Sidereals, The Three Lights, Ymir, Thousand-Faced Man, Souls, Orrery of Lights, Rathess :)

< Tomb Raiding 4 | Sol Invictus Logs | A Shuffling of Solars >