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His clarifying research completed, Thirteen finally steps triumphantly forward to share his knowledge of the plane of Xara!

Zahara emerges from the depths of Iallu's home, combing out her disheveled hair, and smiling serenely.

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "It has been a long time since I have seen the Citadel of Xara."

Thirteen "However, I suspect very little has changed."

Cerin walks by her side, smiling happily, giving a small shake of his head to get his hair to lie smooth once more "Oh?"

Thirteen "Xara is a plane of utmost hierarchy. It would take a great shock to disturb the crystalline circles of society to any meaningful degree."

Thirteen "However, I suspect we may soon be called upon to provide such, if we are to reacquire the Seal."

Zahara "A great shock to their society? How will this help us achieve our goal?" She leans back against Cerin, comfortably

Lucent leans on a corner, visibly... unhappy.

Thirteen "The Citadel is not a place in which things may be mislaid or turn up unexpectedly. If the Seal is there, it forms part of the foundation of their society. We must remove it."

Cerin runs his hands through Zahara's hair as he listens. "Ahh. How do they deal with vistors there, even?"

Zahara "How does an item form the foundation for a society?"

Thirteen "Recall, Zahara, why we seek the Seal in the first place."

Kai "Perhaps we can replace it with something?"

Zahara "They do very little on their own."

Thirteen "In many parts of the Citadel, visitors are welcome. We will stand out, but their traditions of hospitality are too strong for them to break."

Thirteen "Our best course of action, in fact, may be to pay a diplomatic call on them in all grandeur."

Birds "That sounds like a refreshing change of pace."

Zahara "What ARE their traditions of hospitality, that we might not break them ourselves unknowingly?"

Lucent "I can talk to them. Play glorious diplomat. Between that and Zahara's ability to make pacts, we are made there, right?"

Zahara "I have been playing glorious diplomat for years." she notes with arched brow. "It is not only my pacts that led the Sunlands to greatness.

Thirteen "To detail the forms of etiquette and interaction in Xara, much less those rules specifically applying to courtly conversation, would take four months."

Zahara "In that case, you should begin writing, while we head to the Wyld."

Thirteen "Fortunately, we will be of higher status than most we encounter, but we will still have to be careful."

Lucent "Oh, of course, Zahara. I just mean I might have a smile to add to your charm, is all."

Thirteen "Hopefully it will not be necessary

Thirteen for me to weary my hand in writing."

Zahara "I believe Birds has a charm that allows her to write a book quickly, however I am not sure whether or not she requires the knowledge beforehand... Birds?"

Birds "I don't have to, as long as -someone- does, and that person reads it. The book can be informed to take the knowledge from the reader's mind."

Thirteen "Excellent."

Thirteen "Please provide me with such, and I will complete the book as we proceed into the Wyld."

Birds "Immediately."

Birds goes to ask Iallu for one of the giant blank books.

Thirteen "Let us hurry. I hope to pay a visit to Xara tonight."

Iallu "Oh, they're over in the back, next to the files of unrequited love letters."

Zahara "We must first visit the Northern Wyld, so Cerin can pick something up."

Iallu Fully equipped with a blank notebook, the Solars are entirely ready to trek out once again, into the Wyld!

Zahara "And perhaps I'll pick up a bit more of the Essence of Air while we're there. It comes in handy."

Iallu Pushing past the boundaries of the uttermost north where the ground falls away to nothingness, the Solars begin to trek into the realm of uncertainty and chaos.

Zahara casts her protection against the warping nature of the Wyld on her companions, and the City of Crystal itself, circling the entire city and blessing it repeatedly to ensure their relative safety in the midst of Chaos

Iallu With the great protections afforded by Zahara's magics, and (at this point) not insignificant experience with the vagaries of the Wyld, the Solars have little trouble advancing into the zones of mutability.

Iallu The point indicated by Iallu is a great distance into the Wyld. The empty air begins to give way to disembodied phantoms, strange floating mansions of multi-colored ice, elaborate scenes of famous theater enacted by clouds, and other odd phenomena.

Zahara seats herself on a parapet to watch the theater as it passes.

Cerin navigates the great city through the wyld, guiding the bubble of stability through the mansions and the theatres.

Iallu It is little difficulty to navigate to the place where Cerin remembers leaving the box. That location, however, currently appears to be occupied by a rainstorm composed of tiny confectioner's flowers, debating itself on philosophy, with no box to be seen.

Cerin frowns at the cloud as he sets the great city's controls to 'neutral' coming down from the control room to join Zahara on her theatre ledge.

Zahara looks up as Cerin approaches, "Even knowing what I do about this place, it can be quite beautiful at times. Have we arrived where you need to be?"

Thirteen "Hm."

Cerin "This is where the box should lay, yes. It was put into the air itself. Though whether that is Elsewhere, I am not sure."

Zahara "Well, see if you can pluck it from the air, then? It can't hurt to try the easy thing first."

Thirteen ::Cerin, before we leave, I would very much like to investigate the effects of the city's weapons on the Wyld."

Cerin ::Of course. I had wondered the same myself::

Cerin nods to Zahara "That might be best, yes."

Cerin concentrates on Ymir, on the past, on the essence of Air and of everything he remembers of this box, focusing on it and drawing it to him, or at least to get a sense of its location.

Iallu With some careful examination of the warped flows of Essence in this location, Cerin is quite certain -- this is where he left the box. However, no trace of the "location" in question is visible -- only strange phenomena of the Wyld, untethered by any earthly form.

Cerin "Hmmmm. It appears the location has drifted somewhat."

Zahara "Are you sure? I know space is fluid in the Wyld, but you're usually so good at going where we are supposed to be."

Cerin "Well, we're here. But here is no longer there, if that makes sense."

Zahara "As much sense as the Wyld ever makes. What was 'here' like then?"

Birds looks puzzled.

Cerin pulls the drawing he made for Iallu from a pocket. "Like so."

Zahara "Hmmm I may be able to replicate that, if you would like. It will, however, solidify the Wyld a bit, and probably draw some undesired attention."

Cerin "That might work, yes."

Zahara studies the paper until she has gotten both the spirit and the essence of what it used to look like here, and begins to work, stepping out into the... air..or whatever passes for it. She grasps the strands of Chaos that swirl around them, and begins to craft them delicately, encircling the center of the location with a replica of Cerin's drawing, her anima burning brightly

Iallu As vast, unimaginable quantities of Essence pour forth from Zahara into the Wyld, the chaos begins to take shape. The rainclouds scatter as the empty sky of Cerin's drawing coalesces into being.

Iallu With some effort, Zahara creates a remarkable duplicate of the drawing. There's only one problem: still no box is visible at the center.

Iallu As Cerin inspects the Essence flows of the area, he can see something -- the structure Zahara has built very, very closely lines up with some underlying structure, but there is the slightest tension -- like a traced drawing atop the original, moved the slightest bit to one side.

Cerin "Ah, thank you, my love ... that is almost correct. The ... essence is slightly off." He frowns as he considers it.

Zahara "What can I do to correct it?

Zahara "Will it help if I Shape the box?"

Cerin "I don't ... think so. The box was meant to be hidden..."

Zahara "Will it HURT if I do?"

Zahara crafts a silver, domed platter from the ephemera, and lifts the lid!

Iallu It is starkly empty.

Cerin "It could well do, yes. If the box is meant to be summoned, but your box is already here..."

Kai "Why don't you try hiding something else?"

Cerin "I'm not sure how she hid it."

Zahara "It can't hurt to try."

Kai "Well, how would YOU hide it?"

Zahara banishes one of her weapons, and returns it to her hand.

Cerin "Using purely mortal methods. My skills at hiding anything other than myself are quite small."

Thirteen "More importantly, who were you hiding it from, and what capabilities did you have that they did not?"

Cerin "I don't know who Ymir was hiding it from, or what capabilities she had that her foes did not..."

Zahara "Well. The essence flows don't match quite right, so let's make them." she says decisively. She's getting annoyed by all this 'stuff not working' shit. "Take Crystal, and force them to."

Thirteen "Ah. Two birds with one stone. How efficient."

Birds look mildly alarmed.

Cerin "Hmmm. That approach, while unsubtle, might work." Cerin nods, and retreats to the control room, extending out the air weapon for the most subtle control over the movent that he can manage, watching the wyld's reaction before he moves closer to the island Zahara created.

Zahara "Subtlety is so passe."

Iallu The Wyld energies at the border of Zahara's stabilized zone tremble and churn slightly, but do no more. With careful efforts, Cerin eases the flows into place until the surface and substrate match perfectly; there is a tactile sense of tension being released which even those not attuned to Essence can feel.

Cerin sets the controls to hold in this position, and then once more ventures out onto the ice, once more calling the box to him.

Iallu With only the slightest of effort, the box slides seamlessly into view.

Zahara grins. "Brute force wins again. Marku would be so proud."

Birds "Well done."

Kai "Open it!"

Cerin picks up the small box and returns to the craft.

Cerin then examines the box, for ways to open it.

Birds peers at the box curiously.

Thirteen "What have you found?"

Iallu The box is inlaid with reasonably attractive but not particularly outstanding designs, and features no obvious method of opening whatsoever.

Zahara yes, do open it.

Lucent watches... somewhat amused, at least. Less grumpy. "Can you research a spell to open things, Zahara?"

Zahara "Probably, but if he can break into the Cascade, I'm sure he can figure this out."

Cerin turns the box over in his hands. He frowns slightly at Lucent, and then at the box.

Lucent "What?"

Zahara yawns.

Zahara "I'm bored now. Let's go."

Thirteen "Xara?"

Thirteen "We may not be able to fit the city through the Gate."

Zahara "You can open the box along the way. I think we should mmm park Crystal near the Cascade."

Zahara enters, takes control, and flies back towards home!

Cerin nods to Zahara, wandering off to find a quiet place in the city

Thirteen finishes off the book and hands it to Birds for rapid duplication.

Iallu It is an uneventful flight back south to the Sunlands.

Iallu Now, the Solars stand prepared to enter the strange and alien world of Xara....!

Iallu A purplish light pours through the ever so familiar forest gateway.

Zahara steps through the portal!

Cerin sets down the book, having finished reading and of course, memorising the contents.

Zahara had read the book along the way, and is also quite well-versed in the social niceties of the Xarese

Iallu Zahara steps through into the other side, and finds herself standing on a tiny -- perhaps no more than thirty yards in diameter -- sphere of navy blue crystal, with elaborate grooves and patterns etched into it. A hexagonal gateway stands behind her.

Iallu The moment she looks up to see the surroundings, she feels a sudden bout of queasiness in her stomach, as she notes that her little sphere appears to be hurtling through space at an immense angular velocity, in orbit around a larger dark green body that ITSELF seems to be orbiting a yet larger maroon crystal -- and on and on.

Zahara smooths her dress, having chosen her attire to reflect her affluence and social status. A delicate orichalcum crown adorned with the symbol of the Sunlands emerges from the elaborate coiff of golden locks that spill down her shoulders.

Zahara winces, "Urgh."

Thirteen ::Remember, the first impression of many we encounter will be that we are humans, typically ranking above Hraks and Scions, but below Bin-al-zen, although the specific status relationship depends on caste and profession.::

Thirteen ::In fact, it may be as well to flare our animas, so as to avoid any potential confusion that would result in loss of face.::

Thirteen is typically already glowing.

Zahara stares at the spinning orbits until her brain wraps itself around their action and accepts them, then straightens, and alights her anima as well.

Cerin lights the castemark on his forehead

Birds ::Just so.:: Birds adjusts the beaked mask of her black gown and unfolds its wings before calling up her anima to coil around it.

Iallu With a little examination the basic structure of at least this portion of Xara becomes clear -- geometric bodies (of differing elaborate shapes), each orbited by multiple layers of objects that spin around them in complexly intersecting orbits -- with this pattern then repeated for each individual satellite.

Iallu Indeed, three layers of tiny black moons orbit the sphere on which the Solars stand at a dizzying speed, while gnat-sized particles orbit /them/ in turn!

Kai stands quietly at the back of the group, castmark glowing, being careful not to break anything.

Kai (Until such time as it becomes necessary.)

Zahara plots a pathway which will avoid being smacked by orbiting spheres or other objects, timing it just right, she strides out confidently towards ...her destination. over there.

Lucent walks close to the front, trying to pick up pace, the orbs out, his anima reflecting on each and every one and making for a festival of colors around him them.

Birds gauges the moons and decides to simply allow herself to be carried by them. The route is circuitous but exciting.

Iallu It's difficult to time exactly right, but after a few minutes the collective orbits of numerous objects align such that the sphere on which the Solars stand passes within ten feet of the largest body, an intricately patterned white crystal too large to see all at once. Zahara (and anyone else who wishes to follow) can fairly easily alight on the true body of the plane.

Lucent ::Who would know. A place just as complicated as the Wyld.::

Iallu Once in place, it's easy to take in the utterly astonishing and gorgeous sight of numerous crystalline bodies, of every imaginable color and luminosity, whirling through intricate orbits above. They are carefully timed so that they never collide (though they often come close, three or more bodies passing within inches of each other...)

Thirteen calmly steps from sphere to sphere. A few minute objects pass near him, orbit him for a few moments, and then fall back into their accustomed patterns.

Lucent ::Is this normal, or just a show to impress visitors?::

Thirteen ::This is Xara.::

Iallu A few moments' investigation reveals that there is no sun here; only a dark grey sky. The ground is lit entirely by the numerous colors of light emitted by the various satellites, which usually blend together into a clear white light but in places are uneven enough to light the white ground in elaborate and beautiful -- but transient -- color patterns.

Zahara ::According to the book, this is simply how the plane works.::

Thirteen ::Xara is an infinity of crystal spheres, each orbiting every other sphere. As they pass each other, they render to one another their due, never more nor less, for any deviation would multiply itself until all would be chaos.::

Birds ::It is nearly as beautiful as the Sea of Icons.::

Lucent ::Got to hand it to them, their plane is beautiful, then!::

Thirteen ::Meditation on this principle may allow you to grasp the fundamentals behind the formal systems of interaction on this plane.::

Zahara ::And what would destroying a crystal do?::

Thirteen ::In my travels on this plane, that did not occur. Nor is it spoken of, at least to outsiders.::

Zahara ::Interesting. I will consider the ramifications before proceeding with the idea - although you DID say they needed a great shock to their system.:: she grins. ::Now, where is our welcoming committee?::

Lucent ::Well, now there is a escape route for us if things turns sour. Cerin or Kai can probably destroy it...::

Thirteen ::They may be a bit in coming. Having displayed our credentials as foreign beings of unknown capability, most Xarans will avoid us as best they can. Putting together an appropriate party of Diplomat castes may take some time.::

Thirteen ::In the meantime we may proceed towards the Citadel. We must proceed halfway down this sphere and then step to another.::

Birds ::Until then, let there be cakes.:: Birds surreptitiously munches on one, hidden by her mask.

Iallu Indeed, no life is currently visible at all in the nearby area, though the nearest city -- great buildings rising up from the crystalline ground, shaped entirely from pure geometric solids welded together (and designed carefully with holes to accomodate the paths of the satellites) does sparkle with some sort of activity.

Zahara alights on the litter that the servants have followed behind them with, and directs them toward the Citadel as she reclines regally upon it.

Iallu Progressing onward towards the city, the Solars get a good view of "life on the ground" in the world of Xara. Various fractally inlaid channels run through the ground, intersecting with one another at strange angles. In other places, geometric mounds jut up.

Iallu The initial appearance of no life seems to be not entirely accurate, as the Solars for the first time see crystalline insects buzz past overhead, or scurry on preset paths through the channels below....

Zahara , not being bothered by directing her own locomotion, takes the opportunity to study the plane, cataloguing things mentally to see if there is anything here that can be used for her other projects.

Birds keeps thinking of games to play and rejecting them as giving an undignified impression.

Tags: (:tags Xara, Twilight Caste Seal, Wyld, Lockbox, Ymir, Hrak, Scions, Bin-al-Zen :)

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