< Rovak Hartrunner | Sol Invictus Logs | Asking After A Ring >

23 Descending Air.

Time grows short. The Solars sit in a sizeable antechamber within the Labyrinthine Cascade, meeting with regional warleaders from throughout the Sunlands, discussing plans for the coming war. The areas have pledged as many soldiers as they can, but the numbers are still not enough. Together, the civilized Sunlands estimate that they can bring 75,000 troops to bear, with great effort. This will involve the arming of many who would never be considered to be ideal warriors, however.

  • Birds-of-Trinity taps a pen on the table.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "When you say, 'not ideal warriors,' what precisely do you mean by it?"

  • Markuran waves a hand. "That can be taken care of. But even with training, they will not be Exalted and that is what we face."
  • Helslaf Gruntiron? , the arms master of Melekin's largest city, Dragon's Tooth, responds, clearly unhappy with the situation. "We may be arming those as young as 14 and as old as 50."
  • Birds-of-Trinity nods to both, disapprovingly.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We can't fight this war the way that our enemies want us to fight it, all glorious in gold and armies on the field of civilised battle."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We would lose that war."

<HelslafGruntiron?> The other war leaders present have deferred to Helslaf for the moment; none speaks up in disagreement.

<HelslafGruntiron?> "I expect our legions can fight valiantly against a mortal foe. But an army of gods and demigods?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity looks at Cerin. "Can we field an army of assassins, do you think?"

<Cerin> "If we can get assassins, yes. But not everyone has the mindset for that."

<HelslafGruntiron?> Another member of the Melekin delegation looks around nervously and signals weakly with one hand to Zahara.

<Markuran> "I can raise the shamans against the gods. How many thaumaturges and god-bloods are among your own people?"

<Zahara> "The Gods themselves are what we must concentrate on. Kill one god, and you kill all their Exalts." She raises a brow at the delegate, "Yes?"

<HelslafGruntiron?> "Some. More in the northern lands, nearer the river. Enough to field several units of them, or to train them to provide magical assistance to our infantry."

<Cerin> "I'm unsure of the wisdom of fighting a war of that nature. It would be effective. But it would leave Creation very weak afterwards."

The quiet delegate speaks up. "Ahem, um, mistress Zahara... I, ah, wondered if you'd considered seeking the power of the Hematite Legion?"

  • Birds-of-Trinity weighs options in her head.

Another delegate from Melekin glares at him, then rolls his eyes.

<Zahara> "New Gods can be created to take the place of the traitors, Cerin. Do you truly trust them to not rise up again?"

<Cerin> "With appropriate Oaths, yes."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "The who?"

  • Zahara smiles slightly as Birds asks the question for her.

The delegate stands up and clears his throat, shrinking a little under Helslaf's obvious displeasure. "They're the ancient warriors of metal and stone who assaulted Melekin long ago, mistress."

  • Zahara , while the question is being asked, brushes the folds of her silken dress flat on one thigh, picturing and briefly shifting the colors of the fabric to bring into being, a small map of creation, dotted with every legion she's heard of in tiny, precise letters....
  • Zahara The map expands and fills in as she sorts through her memories, and she dissolves the rest of the map to focus in on the area surrounding Melekin, which now has the notes on the assault mentioned
  • Kai stands quietly behind the others. She seems to have been in a bit of a daze, but she suddenly speaks up. "Do you know where they are?"

<Markuran> "Sound like Hundredfold. Do we really need more of those involved?"

  • Helslaf Gruntiron? is in the process of talking over the delegate and telling him to stop mentioning ludicrous children's stories when Kai speaks; he stops for a moment.

<Kai> 'They're not. They're automotons."

  • Cerin turns to regard Kai.

<Kai> "If we can reactivate them, they should obey us."

  • Zahara turns her raised brow on Kai this time. "And how exactly would one go about reactivating First Age automatons?"

<Cerin> "One presumes you start by finding them.."

  • Zahara adds the words 'First Age Automatons' to her embroidered map notes.

<Kai> "There should be a... a lead, uhm, unit. A general. He would be the, uhm, the key, I guess."

<Markuran> "Where would he be?"

  • Kai passes the question to the delegate with a glance.

<HelslafGruntiron?> The delegate swallows again. "Denandsor."

<Cerin> "Ah." he smiles "That makes things interesting."

  • Birds-of-Trinity begins unfolding a large kite that she has attached to the wall. "Yes, very interesting."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I think we can take it that we will be making a trip there very shortly. Delegates, have we anything else to discuss?"

<HelslafGruntiron?> No one offers up any specific points.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "For the matter of the army - I do not want to enlist the young and the old, if we can avoid it."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I hope that the Hematite Legion helps."

<Zahara> "The old, if capable, are preferable to the young."

The delegates file out, silently.

  • Zahara waits until they have left, then turns to Kai, "Are you a scholar on the history of Denandsor and its legions?" she asks mildly.

<Kai> "I don't know much about the region, no."

<Zahara> "How did you know about the Hematite legions then?"

<Kai> "Old memories."

  • Cerin nods "And do you remember anything else about them?"

<Zahara> "I see. And in those memories, were they with or against you?"

<Kai> "I believe they were tools of the Solars."

<Zahara> "Meaning yourself, or other Solars?"

<Kai> "Others, I think. But I'd probably recognise them, and maybe pick out the leader."

  • Zahara nods, "Useful. Hopefully they have not fallen into disrepair. Or, for that matter, hopefully they are not in full repair ready to immediately attack us when we enter. Denandsor is known for its protections, is it not?"

<Markuran> "No one enters there because it is a city of fear."

<Zahara> "Some fears are justly founded."

<Cerin> "The fear is real enough. I've had people turn and fight me rather than flee through Denandsor."

<Zahara> "I suspect they might have fared better in the city of fear." she smiles.

  • Cerin gives a small smile.

<Zahara> "So, we have two objectives then. Raise our armies as they are, and discover what we may in Denandsor. I suggest we begin our journey soon."

<Kai> "So, what DO we know about Denandsor?"

<Cerin> "Not that much. It is shrouded by magical mists. Even Scavenger Lords avoid it."

<Markuran> "Any who enter feel fear in their hearts and soon flee."

<Markuran> "But we are great enough to defeat such tricks. Once we determine what is of value in Denandsor, we can return to finish rallying the mortal troops here. And we must pay visits to the allies of Rovak."

<Zahara> "Hmm I wonder if Ssithumi would know more about Denandsor?"

<Cerin> "She might, but I believe it is a human city, and I am not sure how much she knows of them."

  • Zahara frowns, smoothing her map and centering in on Denandsor. She draws several concentric circles in thoughtfully, "I fear my thought from before was correct. I recall stories of automatons guarding the rings of Denandsor, increasingly powerful as you approach the center."
  • Cerin nods.

<Zahara> "Hmmm it is too bad I don't have enough time to devise a spell to rust the creatures."

<Markuran> "That would be foolish, we need them to fight in days."

<Cerin> "My love, we do want an army left to commandeer."

<Zahara> "I would, of course, require a second spell to remove the rust."

The Solars prepare to enter the City of Fear.

<Zahara> "So how did you propose to leave these automatons in working order again?"

<Cerin> "We evade there notice until we can find the command automaton?"

<Markuran> "By not making them attack us."

<Zahara> "Mmmhmm. How do you propose to do THAT then?"

  • Markuran shrugs. "Being nice."

<Zahara> "You go first."

  • Birds-of-Trinity snickers

<Zahara> "Although I advise you don't pass through the spell that's been set to guard it."

  • Markuran looks to Cerin. "Do you see anything?"

<Cerin> "A brilliant wall of essence."

<Markuran> "A dangerous one?"

<Cerin> "It is what creates the fear. And it is being renewed constantly."

  • Zahara blinks several times, squinting

<Markuran> "Can you tell what I must destroy to end it?"

<Cerin> "Something within it. And I am not at all sure destroying it is the wisest option. Retuning it might be better."

<Markuran> "Well, whatever I must do. Can you find the thing?"

<Cerin> "When we are within the city, I am sure I can. The generation device is within, certainly.""

<Zahara> "There is always the option of trying Countermagic, although that won't do much for our efforts at stealth."

  • Markuran nods. "Come then. We can find it and..retune it..then settle the matter of the Legion."

<Cerin> "I am not sure that it is Sorcery."

  • Markuran nudges his Wasp down, toward the city.

<Zahara> "And, also, long-term effects are not always able to be countered after their casting."

  • Zahara sighs a bit, and sends Tanty down afterwards.

As the steeds fly down towards the city, its magnificent architecture becomes ever clearer. The city juts out of the flat plains around it like a great silver crown -- steep, rounded towers of grey and white jut upwards from the earth throughout the city, intercut by the concentric city walls that divide the districts.

<Zahara> "When one feels the fear, the others will support them through the Unity. Remember, we are not alone."

Here and there, the signs of the First Age lifestyle, so deteriorated in Rathess, are clearly visible -- the aeries, the extensive roads, the elaborate devices placed in many places across the open streets.

<Zahara> "Except you." she nods toward Kai.

  • Markuran sighs at Zahara. "That is not supportive."
  • Kai ignores.

In one section of the city, what was once a hanging garden is overgrown with elaborate weeds and brambles, but no animal moves within.

  • Markuran flies close enough to Kai to put one massive arm around her shoulders. "Do not worry. We will support you regardless."

<Zahara> "Had I thought of it before," she notes charitably, "I would have included you."

  • Kai smiles. I'll appreciate whatever I get, I guess."

<HelslafGruntiron?> As the Solars enter the city, the effect is palpable -- an intense, almost palpable feeling of fear settles over them, surrounding them in every direction. It is not enough to drive them back -- but even pressing on in the face of the fear does not cause it to go away.

  • Zahara lets her iron will flood through the Unity, supporting her companions, feeling them support her in return. Thus is the fear eased ever so slightly.
  • Zahara surveys the city below her as they approach, looking for signs of life, or at least signs of massive machines.

As they approach closer, the unusual decor of the city becomes clear -- throughout, various huge elaborate statues of armed men and women stand in positions of readiness. Growing closer to the ground, a few other figures can be picked out -- statues the size of men, all built entirely of sheets of hematite and iron, each standing as if it were directly in the middle of fighting a pitched battle.

<Zahara> "Ahh," she murmurs, "There's our legion."

  • Cerin nods.

<Zahara> "It would follow that the leader would be protected, in the center.

<Cerin> "I would think so, yes."

<Zahara> "Shall we go directly there, or see if those guardians are still awake?"

<Markuran> "They do not look awake, they are frozen."

<Zahara> "We have not yet triggered any of the traps that I do not doubt are laid around the city."

<Markuran> "So, don't set off any traps. Simple."

  • Cerin shakes his head.
  • Zahara peers down into the city, looking for signs of said traps

<Cerin> "We cannot set foot down there without triggering them, unless we are very careful."

<Zahara> "Then it is good we are a-wing."

  • Markuran nods. "We should try to find the center of this army."
  • Markuran begins searching, weaving his wasp over the soldiers
  • Zahara cuts across the rings toward the center.

<Kai> "Look for one in green and red!"

  • Zahara , while convinced she's going in the right direction, spots no green and red.

<Cerin> "It is not outside."

<Zahara> "Lead the way"

<Kai> "Careful! There should be a lot more of them."

  • Markuran glowers at Cerin. "What are you talking about? It's out here! I saw red and green hiding insight the big ones. Flashed from holes in them."

<Cerin> "You are deluded, Markuran."

<Markuran> "I am not. I saw it."

<Zahara> "We will check there after we check inside, Marku. Does that sound fair?"

  • Markuran grumbles.

<Markuran> "I know what I saw."

<Zahara> "Personally I'd rather face a building than one of those."

<Cerin> "Everyone, get ready to move. Something unpleasant is about to happen." Cerin states as he looks around for the threat, flushing his body with magic as he does.

  • Zahara assumes the ten second rule, as she has observed with Cerin before, and readies her Daiklave. Her other weapons have been trailing along behind them to begin with in a lazy fashion, but they too spring to alertneess
  • Markuran looks around
  • Kai draws.

A few seconds pass, and all of a sudden, several of the large statues rear to life -- their great swords tearing up the ground, their joints giving off horrific squeals as metal moves across metal for the first time in a thousand years.

<Kai> "Uh-oh."

<Zahara> "Disable, do not destroy, if possible."

<Markuran> "Cerin, can we touch the ground now?"

<Cerin> "Try to avoid it. We do not wish to wake more."

The statues are built of bluish steel that seems to glow faintly as they rise up to attack. Each is arrayed in a suit of decorative armor -- serving no real purpose, being made of the same stuff as they are -- bearing elaborate sun insignias upon them.

<Zahara> "Markuran, now's a good time to try being nice."

Four of the statues rise up in front of them, the shortest a mere 16 feet tall, the highest rising up to 30.

  • Cerin peels back a flap of fabric on his armour, revealing the various pin badges and the Night Seal.
  • Kai reins her wasp toward the largest statue, moving quickly over its sword-arm and lashing out with Daybreaker, testing the statue's defenses.

One of the machines seems to stop for the barest second, gazing at Cerin, before charging forward once more.

  • Zahara notices the hesitation, and looks behind herself at Cerin, knowing it wasn't HER that caused it... "What did you do?"

<Cerin> "I showed it my badges of office." He gestures to the 2 pin badges and the night seal. "Perhaps it needs to be accompanied by some anima flare."

  • Zahara nods, "Try it." meanwhile she rearranges the embroidery on her dress into a larger version of the emblems.
  • Cerin nods and forces essence into his caste mark and anima.

No sooner does Zahara speak than the sentinels leap headlong into the air, their blades swinging swiftly at the mounted Exalts.

  • Markuran snarls at his statue, knocking away its blows. Before the behemoth can drop back to the ground, Marku dives his wasp, catching its steel wrists in his hands and, with a grunt, lifting the colossus over his head, preparing to throw it at Cerin's opponent
  • Cerin blazes with solar fire and white hot shadow as he channels essence into his body, letting the existant essence handle the first blow, but he is left as shadow for the final two, and there are three motes of sunfire drawn across his bow.
  • Zahara 's weaponry moves to deflect the blows of the massive machines, even as Tantamount twists, winging nearly sideways to avoid the edges

Kai brings her blade up to deflect the vicious blows of one of the sentinels -- as her dark blade strikes the statue's sword, the latter shatters into a thousand vicious pieces -- but their momentum carries them forward nonetheless, and slice deeply into the Solar's flesh.

  • Zahara notes Kai nearly getting split in two, and even as the bloody shrapnel from the sword fills the air, she acts, commanding the demons inside of her to go tend to the wounded. It wouldn't do to have her die before her mysteries were fully explored, oh no.

The automaton Marku has targeted ducks, and Marku's missile smashes into a sizeable building instead.

<Zahara> "Who needs doors anyway?"

  • Zahara wraps her legs around Tanty, signaling him to dive. He tucks his wings against his body, and they swoop down below the the raised swords of the automatons, and weave directly between the knees of an overextended robot. Her Daiklave slashes to the left, her sword, flaring fire, slashes right.

<Zahara> As they strike, simultaneously, the bell rings out from its place in the clouds. Somehow its song holds the sorrow of ancient metal, gone to rust in the rain, neglected for aeons. It rattles the joints of the machines, causing them to bind and slow.

  • Cerin leaps up onto the saddle behind Zahara, and pulls motes of sunlight from the air, stringing them across his bow. As he does this, the light surrounding him grows brighter and brighter, until he is wrapped in white gold shadow. As he draws back and fires motes, images can be seen in the anima, abstract representations of everything he has killed or will kill racing after the bolts he fires "Cease you attack!" he calls out in Old Realm, as the motes slam into the automaton that attacked Kai.
  • Zahara 's blade is diverted, but the flamberge strikes home, welding the joint of the creature's knee together

Cerin's arrows strike deep into the heart of the automaton, sending one of its limbs flying and dealing great damage to its innards.

<Kai> Kai circles her wasp, and moves in toward the statue adain, this time forcing essence into Daybreaker. The blade pulses with solar light, burning it clean of her blood, splashed there when the statue struck her. she digs her heals hard into the wasp's... Thorax? and shoots straight toward the automaton's throat.

With the creature badly damaged already by Cerin's arrows, it has little resistance to Kai's powerful blow -- Daybreaker neatly severs the statue's head, and it collapses to the ground below.

  • Zahara unwraps the silk scarves from around her waist with her free hand as they circle around beneath the automaton's legs, using Tanty's mobility to stay behind them as well as possible, and out of range. Meanwhile her whirling blades move once more to intercept the blows aimed at herself and her boys.
  • Zahara grins chillingly as they swoop in a seemingly useless pattern, which, erraticaly takes them beneath, around, and between two of the automatons, so swiftly that they cannot properly orient themselves. Behind her, however trails an ever-lengthening trail of silver shot through with red and blue.
  • Zahara finally crosses over her original path, melding the silver rivers together, and reverses her command of the Bonds... from lengthen, to tighten.
  • Zahara flicks a final command at them, and their entire length lights up with electric crackling energy
  • Cerin continues standing behind Zahara, ignoring the violent motion of tanty, the images of his hunts still orbiting around him as he draws and fires again, his arrows dark blurs in the brightness of his anima, the air shimmering about him, his features flickering subtly under the unwavering sun, his hair lighter, his eyes colder. "I. Said. Cease." the volley rips into the last statue.

Cerin's arrows once again tear through the statue, causing another to collapse upon the ground. As the Night Caste once again displays his badges of office and commands the automata, they seem to finally acknowledge his commands -- the two remaining guards cease moving.

  • Zahara giggles as she watches the robots as they clang together with a mighty noise, and then begin twitching spasmodically as the electricity mess with their systems.

<Cerin> "...Zahara, I was going to command them to take us to the control centre."

<Zahara> "There's one left. You just broke one!"

<Zahara> "Ask a little one to."

<Cerin> "Well, if you would be so kind as to take us down."

  • Zahara ceases making the robots twitc
  • Zahara plucks the scarf from the bodies of the automatons, and it retracts neatly into belt-length, which she then wraps back around her waist.
  • Kai pulls tight on the wasp's reins, moving away from the statues.
  • Zahara gives Cerin a sidelong glance as she does so.
  • Cerin shivers slightly, though he is mostly concentrating on other things. "Its down there." he points a building, a few hundred feet away. "Under that building."
  • Zahara summons her sesseljae back once they have finished knitting Kai's wounds properly.
  • Kai barely notices as the things leave her flesh. Her eyes dart about, like a deer seperated from the herd.

<Zahara> "Are you alright, Kai?"

<Kai> "I... I think it's taking hold."

<Zahara> "Ah, I see... well I have just the thing for that." She unwraps one of the Bonds from her waist again, and tosses it over to Kai, "Wrap that around yourself. I promise I won't electrocute you."

<Cerin> "We're going down there to shut it off now. you do not have to hold for long. Stay strong, Kai."

  • Kai bundles herself cautiously in the scarf.
  • Zahara nods, and it seals itself together, and with a mental command, suddenly Kai feels confident beyond what she's felt before.
  • Kai breathes deeply, then maneuvers her wasp down to the others.

When they reach the building, Cerin leaps down off Tanty's back, then holds up his hand for Zahara. When everyone is assembled on the ground, he leads them down, the centauries old locks no obstacles no trouble, until eventually he reaches the source of the field.

  • Zahara accepts Cerins hand and steps gracefully off of her monstrous friend.

The Solars find themselves following down an elaborate series of underground passageways, narrow stairways, and interlocking halls, further and further into the ground. The light provided by the magical lightstrips is eerie and a little unnerving, especially given the ever-increasing terror present in the air.

  • Kai follows, absently fondling the scarf.

After some time, the group reaches a broad, double door, which stands closed. Cerin is quite certain that he will be surprised when the door is opened.

  • Cerin frowns at the door, and then pushes it open.

The light in the room is dim, but Cerin needs no light to see what he sees --

At the center of the large antechamber, resting upon what must have once been a great feasting table, sits a beast -- a sphere made up of writhing, ichorous tendrils, all with what look to be pieces of human anatomy sticking out from them -- the tip of a foot here, half a screaming face there -- and numerous more tendrils that extend out to fill the room. As the Solars open the door, some of the tendrils shift to reveal a single, giant, bloodshot eyeball... and the creature looks at them....

<Markuran> "Can I kill that?"

  • Markuran is pretty sure its evil.

A great behemoth, exquisite in its power, from the ancient ages of the world.

The fear in the air suddenly becomes that much sharper.

<Kai> Daybreaker shakes silently in Kai's hand.

<Zahara> "Unless it's willing to bargain with us."

Tags: (:tags Sunlands, Melekin, Hematite Legion, Denandsor, Night Caste Seal, Endu :)

< Rovak Hartrunner | Sol Invictus Logs | Asking After A Ring >