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  • Cerin steps out the gate atop a deserted hill about half a days ride from Juche, leading a horse behind him. He is dressed as a typical scholar of house pheleps, someone who was unlucky enough to be chosen for niether his second breath, nor patricianship. Ahead of him is Pheleps Ahina, dressed in rather more finery than she has worn for several weeks, also leading her horse, though she mounts with practiced ease as the gate closes behind her.

<PelepsAhina?> "Hm. I have not been to Juche for some years."

<Cerin> "I have never been, my lady. What is it like?"

<PelepsAhina?> "It is a quiet city, for its size. When you build upon the ruins of history, it humbles you, I think."

<Cerin> "The ruins of history? What history lies below Juche?"

  • Peleps`Ahina 's horse trots slowly. "There was a great city once, that stretched up the sides of the mountain itself, built entirely of jade. We do not speak of it much, but we know it once stood. Juche sits upon one small part of its ruins."
  • Cerin nods "That is news to me, fascinating news, though I suppose it will have to wait to another day."
  • Peleps`Ahina nods. "I have quite a story to tell of it."
  • Cerin smiles "Perhaps one of the evenings, after the library is closed then."

The mountain looms high as the two approach the small city at its base. As its architecture grows clearer, Cerin begins to see what Ahina speaks of -- the great patterns in the dust outside the city, the slivers of jade -- still standing from long ago -- running through the buildings, the air of diminishment that covers everything.

  • Cerin looks up the mountain, and at the dust, and lets some essence flow into his eyes to let him appreciate it more fully, sighing softly at another wonder lost, before he lets the magic fade away once more. "I can see why it would humble any city. Another wonder that has faded almost away, my lady." he looks briefly melancoly. "But that is part of why we are here."
  • Peleps`Ahina nods again as they draw near the borders of the city.

There are no gates or other barriers to entering Juche; it lies open to any who wander here. No danger could possibly reach this isolated, central portion of the Blessed Isle.

  • Cerin looks about him as he enters the city. He doesnt have to fake the wonderment at the architecture and the ruins incorporated into the city.

The city feels... old. Muted. Little activity occurs in the quaint, dusty streets as the two travellers slowly ride through them. Cerin can spot the Library, perhaps the most ostentatious building in the city, easily from their location -- it rises up above the other rooftops perhaps a mile away.

  • Cerin smiles as he sees his goal. Surely the knowledge he seeks will be in there somewhere. Even if it will take a while to sift it from the chaff. He contents himself to ride behind Ahina, until they reach the house they will be staying in for the trip.

After a few minutes, Ahina stops in front of a moderately attractive villa, whose door she strides up to triumphantly. After a moment, a servant answers the door: "Aaah, yes, madam, we have awaited your arrival."

The evening passes by easily enough, as Ahina sups with the gentleman of the household and discusses her "important business" in the city. Cerin finds himself with a decently comfortable cot in the servant's quarters and takes to an early sleep. In the morning, Ahina rouses him for their library visit to commence.

  • Cerin wakes refreshed after a pleasant night of dreams spent with Zahara, meekly eating his breakfast before accompanying Ahina to the library, taking extra care to look neat for a visit to such an important place.

None think to glance at Cerin as he and his companion pass through the streets towards the library.

It is a handsome building, still decorated with jade trimming and abstract patterns that appear showy in comparison to the city's other structures. A tall, dark red double door closes off the inside, though the attendants open it for Ahina without a word. Inside, the library is quiet, though well-lit and a mite dusty. Books sit, well-tended, upon vast shelves. A few solitary Dynasts wander up and down the aisles, selecting titles to examine.

  • Cerin follows her into the cavernous building, looking around it again with awe that is not really faked, before he concentrates "It was a question on the origin of the old heroes that you wished to look for today my lady, I believe?" he whispers softly behind her.
  • Peleps`Ahina nods haughtily, enjoying her role. "Of course, Jarvon. I spoke to you of the matter thrice yesterday eve. Find me the books I requested quickly." Her loud voice carries far through the quiet building.
  • Cerin winces visibly at the loudness of her voice, but replies quickly and softly "Of course, my lady." He gives a quick bow then moves off the shelves. He is quick by mortal standards, if not his own, as he searches the shelves for books that might betray the origins of the name he once wore, a country? a story? a people?

Without much difficulty Cerin locates a book of names, along with their associations. Within he finds:

"Ymir (archaic). Crafty, clever, inscrutable. The swift hand of the builder. Archaic, originating in the northern Threshold. Unusual/dead within the Realm calendar."

  • Cerin lets a slight frown cross his face, before he carefully bookmarks the place. Then he flips to talmunda, briefly, as he walks back to Ahina for her to record it, before going off in search of legends from the northern threshold. As old as he can find them. Probably with dragonblooded heroes now.

"Talmuda (archaic). Unwavering, mighty. Usage unknown."

  • Cerin nods to himself as he considers that. He starts to look at more books of threshold legends, especially those from the north. For those featuring Dragonblooded heroes or heroines named Ymir. The chances of the stories existing in their orginal form today is slim...

A little digging locates a book that seems to fit the bill -- containing legendary stories of outcaste heroes from the far north.

  • Cerin smiles to himself. This book will suit both of them. He will find about Ymir, a little. Ahina will get stories.

Once that is in her possesion, her overloud praise, rather more audiable than he truely would like, he starts to set off once more, before Ahina suggests to him that, perhaps lunch might be wise. Cerin allows Ahina to lead him to lunch, and after they have sat down in the small food serving place he asks her softly "So, who is the Builder? In Realm My..erm History, my lady?"

  • Ahina shakes her head. "Foolish child. You should remember that the title is often applied to Pasiap."

<Cerin> "Ahh, I see. So sorry for not remembering that my lady." he bows his head, then seems thoughful.

<Cerin> "So, what books do wish for me to find for you this afternoon, my lady? More epics from the north? Or more recent stories?"

<PelepsAhina?> "Oh, look at the list I wrote you. I can't be bothered to remember every single thing I want to look up."

  • Cerin bows his head "Sorry my lady"
  • Ahina waves her hand dismissively.
  • Cerin nods "With your leave I will return to my searches."
  • Ahina nods.
  • Cerin returns to the library. This time he isnt looking for the ancient legends, but much more recent ones, ones dating from about the time of the contagion, those concerning a young realm officer...Once he has them, he sets to reading them, occasionally venturing off to other shelves to find other books that his studies indicate will help him crack the defences.

Finding works with even the slightest hint of reality to them amongst the legends of the Empress' ascent is extraordinarily difficult; it is clear that she censored this material heavily while she was in power.

However, a few facts do seem to fall into place from the material.

  1. the Empress entered the manse during an eclipse of the sun, which cast shadows across the land.
  2. the Empress entered the Manse with three companions -- two mortals and another Terrestrial. None were ever publically identified or seen again.
  3. the Empress entered the manse three days before the defenses activated.
  4. the Empress had set into a ceremonial item a small disc of metal featuring a design of a circle within a circle; since it appeared in her earliest address to the Realm, it is likely that it was acquired within the Manse.

The rest seems to differ in every detail from account to account.

  • Cerin smiles to himself, and considers the small metal disk with his own caste symbol on it...
  • Cerin goes to find a book on astrology. Just when is the next eclipse...

The next eclipse will occur on 15 Resplendent Wood.

  • Cerin sighs softly. Not entirely unexpected, but not good news either. Still, perhaps a fruitful visit could be made to the empress' chambers before he entered the manse..
  • Cerin spends several more days in the Library, double checking his findings. As he nears the end of this research, he goes to find Ahina, somewhere where they can have a private conversation.
  • Ahina "drags" Cerin off to a private room to conduct their business

<Cerin> "So, what we're doing here...how difficult would it be to pull off in the Imperial City?"

<PelepsAhina?> "Significantly harder. There are trained Wyld Hunters present frequently, and especially now the capital will be in a state of alertness."

  • Cerin nods "So, better papers needed then. And a better story."

<PelepsAhina?> "At the very least."

  • Ahina suddenly adopts a suspicious look.

<PelepsAhina?> "....why? What interests you in the Imperial City?"

  • Cerin smiles "I wish to borrow certain things from the Empress' bedchambers. I'm not going there to kill people."
  • Ahina 's eyes bulge out of their sockets, temporarily ruining her cool, collected appearance.

<PelepsAhina?> "Are you insane?"

  • Cerin shakes his head.

<PelepsAhina?> "Allow me to rephrase that. When did you become insane?"

<Cerin> "I am not insane. It is a dangerous proposition, I know that. I am sure that even with her gone there are many guards there, traps too. This will make it something of a challenge."

<PelepsAhina?> "You have an immense talent for understatement, it would appear."

  • Cerin smiles softly and shrugs to indicate this might be the case. "Neverless, that is what I intend to do."

<Cerin> "So, what can you tell me about what we'll need to get into the city?"

<PelepsAhina?> "Hmm. I'll need to prepare, at very least."

<Cerin> "Of course, I'm not proposing we go now. I just need to know what you think we'd need to get past the gates."

  • Ahina starts to detail the security of the Imperial City as she last remembered it, and what new measures are likely to be in place with the coming war.

Tags: (:tags Realm, Juche, Peleps Ahina, Ninjas, Meru, Ymir, Talmuda, Empress, Dawn Caste Seal, Imperial Manse, The Eclipse, Realm Defense Grid, Imperial City:)

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