The Solars prepare for their trip to the mysterious plane of Elysion, minus Markuran, who is off attending to matters of his own.

<Kai> "So, uhm, what should I expect in Elysion?"

  • Birds hrms. "New friends, I hope."

<Zahara> "Apparently, feathers."

<Kai> "No, I mean, should I pack a heavy cloak?"

  • Birds thinks. "It's always good to pack a little extra when walking into the unknown."

<Cerin> "Feathers implies they might have an Avain nature." Cerin notes as he watches a winged snake of blue flames try to setttle itself comfortably on his arm, eventually offering her his shoulder.

<Zahara> "You've brought wings of your own, I see."

Aliza nods to Zahara, then adjusts her position again.

  • Birds realises that she needs to ask Smoking Mirror something later. "Avian, true... can we all fly somehow? Maybe Tanty should come with us."

<Zahara> "I was just thinking that. Would you care for a wasp or two?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "I'd be a little reluctant to bring agatae, though. It seems a little forward."

<Zahara> "Well, Tanty can only carry two or three of us."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "True. We might as well. It's not as though they are erymanthoi."

<Zahara> "I can walk, but the rest of you would have to slow down so I could keep up.

<Cerin> "If you were to lend me your stone, I could probably keep pace alongside you."

<Zahara> "Hmmm, that may work better."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "And two on Tantamount is much more comfortable than three. Yes."

  • Zahara runs her fingers across the blue of her stone, noting the way it matches her eyes before handing it over to Cerin with slight reluctance. She can immediately feel the difference in her connection to the Manse when she lets go.
  • Cerin smiles at her "Thank you love." leaning to kiss her before he sets the stone into a socket
  • Zahara jumps up on Tanty's back, Reaver perched on her shoulder, as always. She has recently devised a bit of decorative shoulder armor that both protects her shoulder from his claws, and gives him something to cling to more easily. "You are welcome." she arches her brow. "Come, Kai, and we shall depart."

A short while later, the Solars step through the portal into an unusual new land. The gate they pass through places them out on a massive grassland, with tall stalks waving lazily in the air. A breeze, warm yet utterly refreshing, blows over the land, and it carries on it the scent of honey and fresh-cut melon. Trees, golden and emerald and ruby alike, occasionally dot the landscape, curving lazily out of the earth and providing cool shade beneath. The sky is a rosy pink fading to a brilliant yellow orange, like a permanent sunset. The sounds of life can be heard everywhere: beasts, bugs, and all in between. Birds circle far above, with no obvious purpose. A pride of what look to be lions lounge in the sun nearby, satiated and content.

Upon slightly closer inspection, the lions have a quite unusual bent to them -- they're oddly perfect, smooth, nearly abstract in their shape. They move like a walking painting more than a creature, and their manes flow back like an artist's brush lines, gloriously perfect and stylized.

  • Cerin tilts his head as he studies them closer, looking at them with curiousity
  • Kai hops down onto the ground. "Wow, this is a lot nicer than the places you guys usually take me." As an afterthought: "It's too bad Markuran isn't here, I'm sure he'd love to add to his collection of prescious and semiprescious trees..."

The lions have an awakeness and aliveness within their Essence that makes the creatures Cerin sees every day pale in comparison; they are /vigorously/ alive.

  • Cerin remembers the scene. He will have to draw a picture for Zahara later. "I'm sure he would ..."

<Zahara> "Well perhaps you can bring one home for him. Personally I'd like a lion or two."

  • Birds giggles.
  • Cerin starts to walk up into the sky, to take a good look around.
  • Zahara checks out the new view of Cerin

The grassland extends for miles in every direction. From a higher vantage point, Cerin can see that other animals roam across the fields, all bearing a similarly stylized appearance, and often bearing strange and elaborate embellishments beyond what might exist in Creation. Mountains rise gently from the ground far in the distance. In one direction, Cerin thinks he can pick out a faint column of smoke.

  • Birds reaches out an arm and leaps into the air, to chase some eagles and Cerin.

As they spend more time here, all the Solars begin to notice how pleasant it is to be here -- the air, the ground, and the sights and sounds all have a pleasant, relaxing quality, that doesn't induce drowsiness, simply provides a gentle happy feeling.

  • Cerin 's crimson ribbons flutter and twist in the breeze as he stands on the air, slowly turning.

<Zahara> "Remind me why we haven't come here before?"

<Cerin> "There is smoke in that direction, and mountains to the north." he annouces as he ducks under Birds.

<Zahara> "Can we skip the war, and just move here?"

  • Birds falls back to the ground and strokes her chin thoughtfully. "Haha! I would miss the winds of the Sunlands, but this place is beautiful."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What do you guys think. Smoke or mountains?"

<Cerin> "It is." he says he lands next to Zahara, slipping an arm around her. "Smoke, I think."

<Zahara> "I would assume the Lords of this place might be involved with a bit of smoke." She leans against Cerin's shoulder for a moment.

  • Birds glances at Kai for objections before drifting in that direction, picking flowers as they pass.
  • Kai follows, taking in the pleasant afternoon.
  • Cerin walks alongside Zahara
  • Zahara looks over the lions curiously, wondering if they are friendly or vicious.

The flowers are unusually ethereal and beautiful.

  • Zahara strolls alongside Cerin, Tanty, and presumably Kai
  • Birds floats back and asks, "Does any of you have a phial of water? I don't want these to wilt."

It takes some time for the group to reach the source of the smoke. A while before, they begin to glimpse where it seems to be coming from -- what appears to be a moderately large but simple thatched village, built atop the savannah. A single fire burns in the center, putting up a clear, white stream of smoke.

<Zahara> "I have a couple extra phials, but no water."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "A phial will do. I think I have a canteen in here...somewhere." She shuffles through layers of skirts and robes. "Hm, maybe someone is home!"

  • Zahara produces the phial from one of her many pouches.
  • Birds sticks some flowers into it and then hangs it from a gold chain tangled in her hair.

The phial sways attractively to and fro.

As they approach closer to the village, they notice that there does not appear to be anyone present, at least outdoors.

<Zahara> "Cerin, will you investigate before we announce our presence?"

<Cerin> "As you wish love." he says with a smile, and then vanishes suddenly, running towards the village just above the grass.

Cerin runs towards the village. As he nears he can see that the thatched buildings seem almost to be grown directly out of the ground. Still no obvious sign of life though.

<Cerin> When he gets a little closer, he slows, moving to the edge of the village, then entering it if he still sees no signs of life

Even walking into the village itself and peering into the windows, there is absolutely no sign that anyone is inside.

  • Cerin walks back to the group, appearing in front of Zahara "The village appears to be deserted."

<Cerin> ^--this line didnt happen.

All of a sudden, Zahara, Birds, and Kai find themselves in an unusual situation -- as if from nowhere, they are surrounded by a thick flock of grey-winged creatures with rather vicious looking spears that glow a bright green color. Three seconds before this happens, Cerin realizes he is about to be surprised.

"HALT!" cries one of the creatures in a strangely toned low voice. "Do not desecrate our lands further."

  • Birds obediently hovers a little higher up.

<Zahara> "Oh my." She says softly, glad she'd been prepared for potential combat when they'd entered the Realm, pleasant as it looked. "Things are never what they seem, I see." Her weapons fly up from where they'd been patiently dogging her steps, and prepare to defend her. She calls up to the creature, "How do we desecrate your lands?"

  • Kai draws.
  • Birds gives her friends a slightly severe look. "It is a good thing we have come upon you, for we don't know the codes of proper conduct here. Please teach us."
  • Cerin moves back when he notices the flock, though he doesnt attack yet. He is fully prepared to fight though.

The creatures stab their weapons out threateningly as Kai moves, but do not strike. One of them, a dark-feathered creature, steps forward. He has the features of a bird, a great beak and wide, large-pupiled eyes. Tiny claws extend from his wings and he uses those to grip a staff that clearly is holding hm upright. He walks closer to the Solars. "Why do you come to Elysion?"

<BirdsOfTrinity> "We followed our noses." She bites back the temptation to follow that up with a comment about her addressees' anatomy.

  • Zahara quirks a brow at Birds, who started out so well.

<Zahara> "We are exploring the myriad realms to learn more about the worlds that surround us."

The creature raises an eyebrow, clearly not buying this explanation. "We have had enough trickery of late. I do not believe that you come here for so little reason. Answer me truthfully."

  • Zahara shrugs. "We need a feather or two from you, to save our World."

<Zahara> "The exploration is a happy byproduct."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "It's pleasing to know we're dealing with wiser people than most, then."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Though I am a bit surprised that you think wanderlust is not sufficient to move the Princes of Earth."

The old bird looks perplexed for a moment, as if he is trying to figure out an unusual connection. After a moment, he speaks. "Follow us back to the village, and tell us your story, in detail. Then we can discuss these feathers."

He turns and begins to walk back to the village, and signals the others to do so as well. They begin to peel off, though the spears are not stowed.

  • Zahara follows with a slight smile. "I look forward to it."
  • Birds shrugs. Storytime is always good.
  • Cerin doesn't follow the group, so much as drift along next to it off to the side

The birdlike creatures lead the Solars back to a spot where a group of benches -- also seemingly grown directly out of the Earth -- semicircle a more elaborate chair, in which the elder settles. He instructs the Solars to sit, and when they have settled, he shifts his staff between his hands. "So. Tell me why you are here."

  • Cerin settles himself in the shadows somewhere close to the semicircle where he can observe the village.

<BirdsOfTrinity> "Well, as you know, we seek feathers of the Lords of Elysion. It's been revealed to us that these are an essential component of an artifact that we hope to construct." She leaves the details to the others.

  • Kai sits quietly, Birds and Zahara handle the talking. She has sheathed Daybreaker, but it quite ready to draw again at a moment's notice.
  • Zahara nods to Birds, "We are curious as to whether others have come seeking feathers from you as well?"
  • Alostar narrows his eyes. "Seek is not the word I would have used for it."
  • Birds shakes her head. "I am disappointed to hear that, but not surprised. We hope to leave you as friends, though, unlike these others."
  • Zahara nods in agreement with Birds. "Those others are, I suspect, the very enemies we wish to thwart through our efforts."

<Alostar?> "Regardless of your intentions, it will be difficult to meet your proposal. The Lords have not been seen since they unleashed the scourge upon Elysion."

<Zahara> "What scourge was that? I apologize for my ignorance, but this is our first time in your realm."

  • Alostar sighs audibly. "Some time ago, three visitors came: two men and a woman, all of your kind. They bore friendship to us, or so they claimed, and came to stay in our village, eat from our table. They lived with us until the Lords came to visit for the festival of winds, as they always do. That night, we awoke to find a horrible, black scourge unleashed upon the plains, the Lords attacked in the night, and our visitors nowhere to be found."

<Alostar?> "The Lords went off to halt the scourge, and we have not seen them since. But the scourge still destroys our lands."

<BirdsOfTrinity> "What does the scourge do?"

  • Zahara frowns in concern, "I see. Perhaps, if we were able to see this scourge in action, or at least what it left behind, we may be able to help you."

<Alostar?> "It is a great black beast that tears across the fields, leaving death and rot in its wake. What would you do against such a thing?"

  • Cerin appears before the elder, red ribbons flapping in the wind, golden bow in his hands "I would kill it."

<Zahara> "A good question. We have a great many abilities that are useful against such creatures, and have defeated many enemies already." She smiles at Cerin, "We will indeed, attempt to destroy it, whether by slaying it or imprisoning it, or banishing it."

The creatures are taken aback at Cerin's appearance, but are too surprised to effectively respond.

<Zahara> "I understand you have probably attempted such before, and thus I ask you what has and has not worked against it so far?"

<Alostar?> "Nothing we have tried has worked against it yet. Our warriors have come back wounded or dead, with no visible effect upon it."

<Zahara> "You fight with spears, from above?"

  • Alostar nods.

<Zahara> "Perhaps the trick will be to come from below, then."

<Zahara> "In any case, allowing us to try can do you no harm, and if we succeed, I hope we can establish an alliance."

  • Cerin moves to stand beside zahara

<Alostar?> "If you can rid us of the scourge, we will happily treat with you."

<Zahara> "Then please, lead us to the last place you have seen it."

  • Alostar gestures with one wing to two warriors, who nod assent. "They will lead you to where you might find the creature."
  • Zahara nods assent
  • Birds grins.

The two warriors lead the Solars out to the plains, and begin a long hike, several miles from the village. After a while, the beautiful pristine landscape in the distance begins to change, to grow darker and less verdant. Eventually they come to a place with a sharp, visible dividing line -- on one side, the earth becomes foul, the vegetation dead, the air dark and unpleasant. "This is where you will find it."

  • Birds wonders what Cerin's Essence vision sees here.

<Zahara> "I see. Thank you for your escort. We hope to return soon."

  • Cerin does, too, climbing up into the air, to look out over the blackened lands.
  • Birds gives Alostar a small bow.

The ground here is muddy and unpleasant to walk on. Even the sky itself has turned dark and smoky.

  • Zahara activates her own Essence Sight, and begins to cross-reference the symptoms in her mental catalog.

Cerin detects that an unpleasant Essence is perhaps a mile to the north.

<Kai> As the Solars reach the line of defilement, Kai's anima begins to burn, and her solar saver fades into being.

  • Zahara 's weapons circle around her protectively, and Tanty growls at the sight before them. "Hmm. This should be interesting."

Cerin has to peer carefuly through the smoke and soot to see the creature, but after looking about for some moments he spots it. It has the look of a great black boar, composed entirely of shadows, and with bright red eyes. Trails of shadows pull off of it as it runs headlong around the area; the shadows often rise up for a moment, almost in the shape of humans, to rend the earth or shake their fists at the sky before dissipating into the air.

<Cerin> "It is about a mile to the north. It is a boar of shadows and darkness."

  • Cerin leads them to the beast to do battle with it.

<Zahara> "I am going to cast a spell. I'd appreciate it if you kept it away from me while I do so."

The creature sees the interlopers and its eyes blaze firey orange. It charges, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake!

  • Kai steps to the front of the group as the beast begins its charge; as she does so, the last of a trail of arcane syllables drip from her tongue, and she is briefly bathed in light. It fades quickly, leaving only flashes and sparkles on her newly-bronze skin. She smiles as the beast closes, and when it is within a few yards, she meets it with a charge of her own, which ends in a diving roll. As she moves low past the beast's underside, she lashes out with her blades, tearing through its shadowy shell and hopefully its flesh as well.

The creature halts its charge as it feels Kai's blades bite deep into its underside, and turns, black smoke gushing rapidly from its nostrils and its wounds. It lowers its head and charges, with an uncanny swiftness, as its trail of shadows moans unhappily.

  • Kai raises her blades, crossed, as the thing bears down on her.
  • Zahara begins to chant, her skin taking on a dark tint, like ash that slowly darkens to the black of obsidian, which seems to shift and flow over her skin. Each ancient word she speaks takes on life and form in wisps of Essence that begin to build around her, swirling lazily in a golden-orange pattern that weaves in and out of itself, slowly becoming more solid.
  • Cerin turns and spins as the beast charges, his caste mark blazing on his forehead as he draws back a shimmering handful of motes. The world slows to a crawl as he strings them across his bow, releasing them in groups of five that orbit around each other as they plunge into the beast's shadowy flank, blowing the darkness aside.
  • Birds takes a running start and kicks off a rock, sliding along the grass just inches above the earth. She launches several Essence bolts at the creature's belly as she moves past it.

The creature brings its massive hooves down on the ground with a furious thump and kicks up a cloud of rotten earth that blocks the bolts of luminescent Essence flung at it.

<Kai> Taking advantage of the distraction caused by various barrages, Kai darts back around its flank and moves up its other side, sliding a blade between each of its ribs as she goes.

<Shadowbeast?> Roaring loudly in pain, the creature's shadowy trails begin to solidify. It tramples over Kai with little thought, then charges Cerin with a powerful roar, the umbral wisps transforming into vicious blades as it does so.

  • Cerin disintegrates into cloud of crimson shadows, dancing about the blades as they attempt to slice him ... before the last slice comes in. He solidifies for an instant then the crimson ribbons whirl around him, distracting the beast. There is a clang as he catches the blade on his bracers of sunlit gold.

<Cerin> Then slides along it, tearing up his muscles, peircing his chest. He flies backwards, landing hard against a hillside

  • Zahara 's skin deepens, seems to harden and crack into shards, through which glowing red lava begins to seep. Her hair forms into five tentacles as the weave of magic tightens around her, swirling and merging with her body, heat radiating from her in waves as her anima lights the area blindingly.

Tags: (:tags Elysion, Exaltation Checklist, Lords of Elysion, Alostar, Scourge, Okai :)

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