Thirteen sits crosslegged near the Gate, quiet. In every motion, in every breath, he hears the words of a thousand languages never spoken. A leaf detaches itself from a tree; in the gentle sound of its descent, it whispers to Thirteen the plan he needs to rescue his friend from Hell.
Zahara "To the gate!"
Thirteen arises as his companions approach.
Thirteen "Lucent, how intelligent is your scorpion? Cerin, to what extent can your powers of stealth be extended?"
Lucent "As intelligent as a mortal. Well, more than most!" Amika looks at Thirteen curiously, the tail angling idly towards the Solar. "Why?"
Thirteen "She will need to act on her own for our plan to succeed. I am curious as to whether she can be instructed to retreat in time to save herself."
Cerin "I can move a small group with almost as surreptitiously as myself, as long as all stay close and do nothing unsubtle."
Thirteen "Our approach is clear. We will advance in two groups, requiring the assistance of both Tantamount and Amika. This will entail risk to both."
Lucent "Thirteen, she can understand any order better than any soldier. And she needs no instructions. She can hear each and every one of my thoughts even as I can hear hers'. We are as one."
Lucent "And, if need be, I can just call her to my side, and out of whatever battle she is on."
Birds rubs her chin. "How smart -is- a mortal?"
Thirteen "Not smart enough."
Birds looks dismayed.
Birds "Well then it is a good thing she and Luc are so close."
Thirteen "We will begin our assault at the top of the tower. The armed resistance will be minimal at best, since that portion of the fortress is not frequented much if at all."
Zahara pats Tanty on the shoulder, "That's fine, if I hear one more inane rhyme out of this mouth, I'll send him there no matter the risk." She grins, to show she's only teasing the beast, who rumbles a bit.
Lucent shrugs, "She is smarter than me. I was merely comparing her to other natural beasts."
Thirteen "Tantamount will bear us to our destination, concealed by Cerin. He will be aided in this task by Amika, who will mount a ground assault."
Zahara "They will be expecting us..."
Thirteen "Her defenses should be sufficient to allow her to survive long enough for us to arrive, at which point she may retreat, covered by Tantamount."
Thirteen "Indeed. Amika will relieve their expectations."
Thirteen "The tower is likely to be occupied by mystical guardians of some sort, but I leave that to the capable hands of our resident sorceress."
Thirteen "We may exit the tower via the same plan, or we may mount another assault once we locate our friend."
Zahara raises a brow
Thirteen "Our information is too sketchy for me to be more specific about our actions once we arrive."
Zahara "Wait, how many people is Tanty supposed to carry now?"
Thirteen "Is he incapable?"
Zahara frowns, "Well I think he can do it, but he won't be able to maneuver much. We would have to be...very...close..."
Zahara "I suppose I could walk next to him, though, and I think Birds could do something similar," she turns to the woman, "correct?"
Birds nods. "What was your original face, before your parents were born?"
Zahara "...who are you asking?"
Lucent "He will not need to maneuver. I can make it so they will not be able to hurt him. Some may not be aware, but some of the Sun's might comes from being in touch and helping others around you." He looks at Zahara. "If you will trust me, he can be our shield as well as our transport."
Birds "Oh, it's just another of those hard questions. Like how smart a mortal is."
Thirteen "I am informed that you remember it better than I, Birds-of-Trinity."
Zahara "Hmm, what will that require?"
Birds "I suppose it is easier for some of us."
Cerin "I must depart just briefly." and with that, Cerin melts into the forest surrounding the gate.
Lucent walks up to Tantamount, and covers himself in the compassionate essence of the sun, shining over all nature equally. He is a friend, and the lion has nothing to fear or distrust. Lucent touches the magnificent beast, and for a moment, it is wreathed in a clear sunlight... and then it is gone, glittering sands all over the familiar. "A touch." He smiles to Zee, patting his own hands to get the sun-forged indestructible sand out of his fingers.
Zahara "I see. Well, is Amika to act alone, or would a few extra demons help?"
Lucent "... let her do it on her own." He nods. "More demoralizing for them."
Zahara "But, I think, they will suspect she is not the only attacker if she is alone."
Zahara "Perhaps we should dress a few dynasts as ourselves."
Thirteen "A capital idea, if we can lay hands on a few."
Zahara shrugs, "I have several languishing in the dungeon. I'm sure they would agree to pay for their sins by assisting us, if it means they will be somewhat free when it is over."
Zahara "They were our batteries, so to speak."
Zahara ponders, "Although I think there are a couple left."
Lucent "You must be very persuasive, if they would agree to fight so many Exalts instead of just be locked away... but I guess to many the shame of captivity is too overwhelming." He shrugs. Pride. Better for them if they stayed where it is safe...
Zahara "mmm..hmmm." Doesn't mention that 'just being locked away' is not what's happening to them.
Zahara "Pride is dangerous, indeed."
Zahara "Also, there are a few that Markuran had converted to our side."
Thirteen "Perhaps we may keep those. In the event of a further attempt to penetrate the Realm, they may prove useful."
Thirteen "In addition, the Roseblack may have need of them."
Zahara "True. I can always refill my dungeon. There will always be those who deserve to be there."
Birds "Weren't we going to expand those?"
Zahara "Oh, I've added on here and there."
Birds "Did we put enough in the summer palace?"
Zahara "Well, there are several rooms that can be converted if the need arises. Hopefully what we built will be enough."
Thirteen "It may be interesting to send some demons in as well, merely for looks. You can easily summon them again, I believe."
Zahara "First Circles have become second nature to summon, really."
Zahara "Especially with these." she taps her collar.
Birds "Do we have a plan, once in the tower, more specific than 'kill indiscriminately'?"
Lucent "I would think it goes, 'Kill indiscriminately until we find Kai'. And 'be very specific in killing Kasima.'"
Zahara "find Kai AND the Daybreaker."
Zahara "Do not forget that detail."
Cerin choses this moment to return, his foot tapping on a stone in the small clearing as he does, a string of white almond flowers around one wrist, yellow acacia blooms around the other. "Indeed, the daybreaker should not be left there."
Birds ticks off details. Kill, Kasima, Daybreaker, Kai. "Okay."
Thirteen "Once we gather more information in the tower, we can decide where to proceed."
Thirteen "With no ideas as to what the tower contains, we can make no assumptions about our plans."
Zahara looks up and smiles, "Cerin, welcome back. Was your disappearance fruitful?"
Lucent startles as Cerin steps in, getting his composure in less than a moment, and shaking his head at himself. Cerin never stopped getting that reaction on him, every time he.. appeared.
Birds looks at the flowers. "Hope? I would have expected surety at the least, if not inevitability."
Zahara rises to embrace Cerin, then whispers to him, "remind me when this is over, I have something for you."
Thirteen "Shall we proceed?"
Zahara "Let us go back to the Cascade for our little army, and then on to the Realms of Ash."
Thirteen "We must hurry. Every moment we delay is a moment Kai is in danger."
Cerin "I will." he whispers back, before tilting his head to Birds "Hope is not what I bring with these blooms."
charlequin The Solars stand assembled at the ancient gate.
Zahara "So, Amika and my fine volunteers shall go through first, and we follow in their wake to disguise our passing?
Zahara "Then we shall proceed." she turns to the near-replicas of themselves, "Now, do be careful not to flare your animas until you are given leave, or bad things might happen. I trust you will do exactly as planned." she arches her brow, giving them an all-too-familiar look.
charlequin As Cerin punches in the coordinates he has determined from the interrogated Exalt's statements, the characters on the gate glow in a dark, ominous red and black. After a moment, the gate spins open, revealing a blasted landscape where black wind blows incessantly. In the distance, a chittering sound can be heard, and great pillars of stone rise up from the ground.
Zahara "Hmmm, I should build something here..." she muses, as she eyes the vast black desert
Thirteen "Perhaps a nice mass grave."
Zahara "Possibly." She steps through, before the liquid essence of the gate ceases to move from the small army ahead of her.
charlequin It's shocking just how cold and bitter the air on the other side is. It's a cruel cold, stinging, though there is no ice anywhere. It's not hard to spot the tower the Exalt spoke of -- it's perhaps a mile away from where the group emerges into Hell.
Zahara rubs her arms, and the Bonds slide up to cover her bare skin, radiating warmth.
Cerin swings up onto Tantamount infront of Thirteen and Luc, his hand trailing over Zahara's back as he slips, waiting for their diversion to go through before he instructs Tanty forward, into the black winds, bidding him take flight as he casts Acacia and Almond blooms into the black winds, weaving the subtle threads of his anima about them, weaving them through with threads of concealing essence, weaving them into shell that allows none to see within.
Cerin that allows none to see within.
charlequin The manticore flies swiftly towards the tower. From far away the Solars can spot an unusual, sickly green glow emenating from what is most likely the second-highest floor, cutting into the crimson sky and black winds. As they grow closer, the chittering and buzzing grows louder.
Zahara looks down to see how their doubles are faring
charlequin As the Solars reach almost to the tower, the cause becomes obvious -- the walls of the tower seem to be only the faintest skeleton of great black leaden bars, filled in with a constantly churning mass of great pitted iron insects.
Cerin studies the green glow from within the bubble of concealment he has wrapped about them, trying to discern more of its nature.
charlequin Powerful demonic Essence fills that bubble, strong enough to cut away even the crushing weight of the environment.
Zahara ::Hmmm too bad they're not sesseljae::
Lucent Amika The great scorpion looms towards the bottom of the stair leading to the tower, and roars. Its roar shakes the earth, and the ash strikes the barracks... it roars again, and fire spreads, raining on everything at once. Covered in sands of golden steel, Amika arrives, anything but subtle.
Zahara ::Although I have to admit, their medicinal skills do not always have to be put to use kindly.::
Cerin ::A demon of the 3rd circle. Possibly of Malfaes. This makes things interesting.::
Zahara ::Hmmm Perhaps it will teach me how to summon it.::
Zahara inspects the spell, to see how it is cage
charlequin As Amika strikes, the building itself reacts. Swarms of metallic insects begin to pour out of the building's walls themselves and crowd around Amika. After a few moments, some God-Exalts follow, and the battle begins.
Cerin ::I do not believe it is caged, my love. I rather suspect it might be here of it's own free will::
Cerin ::We are in hell, after all::
Zahara ::Hmmm I suppose you are right. A shame, really."
Birds ::Hell is strangely beautiful.::
Lucent Amika continues to breathe wide swaths of fire on the insects, clearing huge clouds at once, trusting on the sand over its skin to clear them. Few things are more terrible than a fearless behemoth.
Cerin ::It is, of a sort. Anyway, shall we descend?::
Thirteen ::We must.::
Zahara ::Onwards and downwards. Let us hurry::
Lucent ::About time!::
Cerin nods and whispers his instruction to Tanty, the manticore swiftly descending.
charlequin Spiraling downward, the Solars can see a small window amongst the constantly shifting walls of the tower, from which the green glow emenates especially strongly. Do they dare dive into it?
Zahara points ::That window seems to be our way in.::
Zahara licks her lips, stroking the blade of her Daiklave with her thumb.. it seems to be vibrating in anticipation.
Cerin lets Tanty guide them down before leaping lightly in through the window, landing in a silent and invisible roll and scanning the room.
Lucent ::Then what are we waiting for, Empress?:: The orbs come out, circling Tantamount. Of course, it was easy to be so reckless when one was hard to kill even if there was a trap.
Zahara follows Cerin in, on the wings of his silence
Thirteen hops through the window as well, landing neatly with his spear at the ready, glowing like a bonfire.
charlequin The room sits at the top of a great spiralling staircase, a cruel black mezzanine. On one wall, suspended by metallic talons around -- or through -- their limbs, hang four individuals, looking poorly at best, their once-fine robes in tatters. In a carefully and intricately wrought cast-iron chair sits a creature of greenish light, clad in what might be thought of as the wireframe of an iron suit of armor. Elaborate fins extend out from its clothing in jagged arcs.
charlequin It possesses an odd, asexual beauty, that is marred only by the vicious slit that is its mouth.
Lucent steps down, the orbs making a stair for him, a little chord in the voice of each of the maidens as he steps on them. They manage to hold him just fine despite his spherical shape.
charlequin Its eyes are deep blue wells that could almost drown a person, and its hands, unnaturally long and lithe, hold a severed head as a child might a plaything.
Zahara "Ah," she says pleasantly, "You must be the keeper of this tower, and perhaps this entire realm."
charlequin The creature places the head swiftly onto a nearby spike of iron and looks over the Solars briefly. "I am surprised to see you enter so. I expected something a little different, perhaps." The green light in the room is brighter, though it is now cut by a new blue glow emenating from the demon's huge eyes.
Zahara "Ahh? Such as?"
Lucent takes the last step, and Luna giggles.
Zahara makes sure to not meet the demon's eyes, her gaze staying firmly just above them.
charlequin "Perhaps blasting apart every bit of this building's shell. You are known for your grand entrances." The creature's voice is oddly mellifluous and pleasant. There seems to be a dim throbbing hum in the background, almost in sync with the green glow, and the demon's words rise and fall to match it.
Birds "It is our art."
Zahara "Ah, well... we thought we'd try something a little different this time."
Birds "But art loses its savour if repeated overmuch."
Zahara "Are you disappointed?"
Birds "We could come back?"
Birds "I think I know where to find a tyrant lizard..."
Thirteen "Beauty needs must give way to expediency when we are pressed for time."
Lucent "Thirteen can find a way to make Amika fly, I think... she would make quite an entrance from above!"
Lucent catches himself as he says this. Wait, wait ::Hmm... people... are we just talking to him? Exchanging PLEASANTRIES?!?::
Thirteen "Give us our friend. We can afford to spend little time with you before we must proceed to destroy your army and turn back your assault on Creation."
Birds ::You know how it is. There are forms to be observed.::
Zahara "As my friend says, we would prefer to allow you to surrender her before we resort to violence."
charlequin "We are not finished with your friend yet. I am afraid she is still in possession of all of her souls, and we are not quite prepared to extract them. Perhaps you should come back later."
Birds exchanges a look with Zee. This demon is fresh.
Zahara "Unfortunately we do need those souls for our own plans. I must regretfully decline."
Thirteen "I offer a counter-proposal."
Lucent "... not FINISHED? Hand her over NOW, or we will kill you. And everything else in front of us!"
Thirteen "Release her to us now, and you may attempt to kidnap her again when you are prepared. It is the height of poor etiquette to seize a Solar when you are not ready to handle her."
Lucent ::... there is something wrong with him.::
Zahara "You do have a fine point."
Lucent ::Thirteen, Cerin, he is moving. He is not standing still there.::
Lucent ::Tell me what it means, for the sun's sake, but he is NOT STANDING STILL.::
Zahara ::Be prepared.::
Cerin ::That is vexing. My love, if you could direct me to him.::
charlequin All of a sudden, two things occur -- Luc hears in his mind that the wall of creatures from below is showing no signs of slowing, and suddenly everyone realizes that the demon is standing directly within their ranks, one hand in an iron grip around one of Birds' wrists and the other holding a vicious iron dagger.
Lucent "... oh, damn."
Birds looks at the demon. "A little forward, are we?"
charlequin The creature smiles an abnormally beautiful and cruel smile. "I take what I desire."
Birds "Why, thank you."
Zahara idly considers that she should have made Birds a chastity belt too
Lucent ::... he moved right to us and we didn't even notice...::
Birds ::Um...I do not think this charade is going to keep our friend entertained very long.::
Lucent He expected Thirteen or Cerin to warn him of what was happening, with their talents... but yet, there was nothing they could do, either. Looks like even Solars are fallible...
Zahara ::Cerin, go see if you can find Kai.::
Cerin ::I will my love. I will see you later.::
Zahara "So, you desire Birds of Trinity more than me? I admit, I am affronted."
Birds ::You -are- engaged, love.::
Thirteen "You are merely multiplying your gaffes. We have already established that you cannot hope to stand against us."
Birds thinks at her demons. (Do something!)
charlequin It is at this point that Luc gets another signal from Amika below -- "look out the window"
charlequin A sesseljae swims up Birds' arm, sticks three creepy feelers out, and carefully disjoints the wrist, allowing it to slip free, before sliding it back into place.
Cerin ::Try not to have too much fun with the demon whilst I am away.:: then he stalks out of the room, wrapped in a cloud of damping essence.
Thirteen The moment Birds is released, Thirteen appears behind her, neatly tucking an arm around her waist, and returns to his position at the edge of the group, far from the demon.
Birds squeezes Thirteen with one hand while adjusting her grip on the Essence sabre in the other.
Lucent forces himself to look away from the struggle, Mars as a shield to his back as he looks down...
Thirteen "The window beckons, monster. I promise my spear will be less kind."
Thirteen crooks a smile at Birds's squeeze.
charlequin The demon raises a single eyebrow at the creature in Birds' wrist. "Is that truly the wisest decision?" It raises a black crystal in the shape of a crescent moon that suddenly appears to be in its hand and speaks a word in an incomprehensible language that seems to involve making multiple sounds at once. (...)
charlequin Lucent looks out the window and sees something -- a small girl, with a pale, glowing sword in hand, fighting at Amika's side.
Zahara takes that moment to strike at the crystal in his hand with the Light of the Sun
Lucent ::There's someone fighting with Amika... a little girl. With a pale, glowing sword. Anyone ever saw something like that?::
charlequin To Thirteen, the creature's speech seems to be something like "Revered uncle, you may wish to turn your attentions here briefly."
Cerin looks out from the tower window the next floor down.
charlequin Birds suddenly feels a horrific tearing sensation from deep within her guts.
charlequin Cerin's eyes cannot be deceived; he recognizes his circlemate below, though the wind and insects make it hard to notice most details and her blade is clearly something he has not before seen.
Cerin ::I found her. She is with Amika.::
Zahara gathers the cleansing light of the Sun within her palm briefly, whispering a prayer to the Unconquered Sun, whom she has not quite yet given up on, and blows, the light streaking out with deceptive strength, striking at the heart of the crystal the demon holds.
Birds 's eyes light up scarlet with Essence and alarm. She turns her sword around and plunges it into her chest; for in instant she flickers like a column of smoke.
Lucent ::She... rescued herself?::
Zahara ::How ungrateful::
Birds ::Urk... good job.::
Thirteen At the moment that Birds flashes into smoke, Thirteen's spear plunges adeptly through the acrid cloud, seeking, and withdraws.
Cerin ::I am not sure exactly. She is fighting with a weapon I have not before seen. Are you in pain, Birds?::
Birds ::Oh, somewhat. I think we have it covered.::
Birds ::Also, um, I think we need to have a discussion about sesseljae.::
Thirteen ::Or perhaps a discussion with sesseljae.::
charlequin Simultaneously, Zahara knocks the crystal free of the demon's hand, and it goes flying, striking at the bleeding chest of a person hanging on the wall with a sickening crunch; and Birds and Thirteen each skewer a sesseljae upon their blades.
Cerin ::I will bear this in mind.::
Thirteen flashes to the side of the room, catching the crystal in his off hand as it bounces off the injured man.
charlequin When any of the Solars next lays eyes upon the demon it is holding a massive weapon -- a long beam with elaborate antler blades growing out of each end, like a swallow that has not been pruned in some time.
Birds kicks the bug off her weapon and leaps out the window again, to fight where she is most comfortable - in the air.
Zahara directs her Sesseljae to go outside of her body, but to stay near, in case the Demon Prince gets any more funny ideas.
Birds remembers something. Her living armor! She directs it to ball up and throws it at a spiky bit of wall, where it sticks.
Tags: (:tags Isles of Ash, Daybreaker, Kasima, Demons, Sarifen, Primordials, Ebon Dragon :)