< When Yeddim Attack | Sol Invictus Logs | Greater Lipid Mass >

Summary: Zahara summons Lucien once more, to unearth traitors within the Sunlands.

XP:C1, Z1

  • Cerin watches Zahara put the finishing touches to the circle, noting the prescision of the warding sigils used, the perfect configurations of the candles and the essence traps. Its at this point that he dares to speak "So, what happens now?"

<Zahara?> "Unless you have a way of lending me Essence, you stay there, in your circle." she points to an unelaborate circle near where he's currently standing. "Hopefully, that's all you have to do." she smiles a little and stretches her limbs, preparing herself mentally. She stands with Tantamount curled protectively around her feet, in the exact center of the circle.

  • Cerin moves to the indicated circle. He nods "I think I can cope with standing to watch you..." he smiles "How long does the ritual take?"

<Zahara?> "Four hours... I hope you don't get bored easily." She smiles, then starts to chant slowly, sprinkling fine powders that flare into nothing before they hit the ground, tracing fine lines with her Essence, the energy pouring out of her and forming itself slowly.

  • Cerin shakes his head "The hunt has taught me a certain patience". He stands there watching her, and the flows of essence about her, watching the wards fill out and reinforce themselfs as the motes flow into them
  • Zahara 's chanting seems to turn into something akin to a throbbing of power, first describing and activating each rune and symbol etched into the floor. Her Essence pours into the grooves in the floor and shimmers there, like liquid fire. As she passes her hand over the candle of each direction, it flares to life.
  • Cerin can now feel the essence crawling over his skin, some parts of the room almost to bright to look at as the essence concentrates around the nodes of the ritual.
  • Zahara 's voice lifts to the middle range, and the wards seem to rise from the floor and circle around her, empowering and protecting her against the coming of the Demon Lucien. They weave and wrap around her like fine cloth to Cerin's vision, the individual strands each resonating with eachother, Zahara, and the very room itself, concentrated on the Circle.
    • four hours later***
  • Cerin stands there alert still, a golden bow now in his hands, watching the conclusion of the ritual, waiting to see if he will be needed, waiting to see what will actually be called.
  • Zahara has been steadily growing in power and brightness, her totem arched above her protectively. With the last few phrases, she flares even more, her voice ringing out like the bell at her waist, and Tantamount's tail twitches, though he is careful not to disturb the ring, as he lends his own reserves of power to her.
  • Zahara looks supremely powerful and confident, in control of the entire world, as she raises her hand, forming a claw with her finger and piercing the very fabric of Creation, slicing a ragged hole in the air in front of her. The edges of Creation seem to writhe and twist like tattered silk in the wind. "LUCIEN, I, ZAHARA ZHAN, SUMMON YOU INTO CREATION!"

There is a faint rustle in the distance, and then a wind begins to blow within the room. As if from out of nowhere, the form of Lucien once again appears at Zahara's call.

  • Cerin watches with interest as his essence flows into the shape he inhabits, his eyes widdening slightly as he sees the strength of his magic
  • Zahara keeps her composure as the demon arrives, "Lucien, Guardian of Sleep, I call you here to do your duty, seeking traitors and striking them down where they stand. I will give you an entire land to hunt through, with sweet tasting prey."

Lucien swivels to face Zahara and affixes her with an evil eye. "YOU call upon me again?" He lets out an dry, rasping laugh.

<Lucien> "Did you wish that badly to taste of my blade again?"

<Cerin?> "She will not taste your blade, Lucien, Guardian of Sleep, not while I watch over her"

  • Zahara regards him, a slight smile on her face, "I do call upon you. And THIS time, you will submit to my will." she bends her mind and power to the task, feeling..somehow more confident this time, finding the pressure points that will push Lucien's will into submitting to hers, the power pushing at him, twisting his words to her needs.

Lucien seems taken aback; he expected easier prey from this naive child.

The demon struggles mightily against Zahara's will, but this time she is far better prepared -- Lucien eventually submits, humbling himself to the sorceress.

  • Zahara relaxes slightly, pride adding to the confidence she'd displayed before. "Now, Lucien, rise. There are informants in our midst, out there in the Sunlands, and even in these very halls. You must NOT touch this one, however." she points to Cerin. "He is mine, and not for you to slay. Bring any Exalts you find to me, and destroy the rest."

Lucien stares intently at Cerin for several moments. Then, he turns and disappears.

  • Zahara reflects for a moment, "Beware the scale of the traitorousness, for every man, woman and child has something to hide, and take only the worst."

<Cerin?> "He possessed immense power....as do you to bind him to your will"

  • Zahara takes a step toward Cerin, disentangling herself from Tanty's limbs. "The Second Circle of Demons is not to be taken lightly. I learned that once."
  • Cerin steps forward too, guessing it is safe to leave the circle now "That would be the first time he alluded too?"
  • Zahara leans a hand down, as Tanty rises to support her in her exhaustion. "Yes. And that's why you're here with me today. I was foolish the first time, and Markuran was there with me simply to watch. It turned out that I was lucky to have him there... I was drained, and had no reserves left to fight him with."
  • Cerin steps up to her in a few quick strides, supporting her also. He looks concerned "Yes, I woudl not like to fight him after the ritual I just watched...such intense displays of essence" he sound slightly wonderous

<Zahara?> "I think I need to rest now." she allows Cerin to escort her to her room.

Several weeks later...

Zahara and Cerin sit, waiting in the appointed chamber for Lucien to report.

  • Zahara sits with her legs crossed and her hands folded, waiting patiently. "He should come soon."
  • Cerin waits calmly, curoiusly about what the demon will have done

After several moments, the rustling wind that signal's Lucien's approach stirs up in the corner of the room. Though the room has been recently cleaned, sand kicks up from the floor.

  • Cerin watches his approach, though he waits for Zee to talk. He is her demon after all.
  • Zahara closes her eyes briefly, letting the sand and wind scour her face. "Lucien." she says, rising to her feet. "Tell me, what you have found."

The gaunt form of Sleep's Guardian appears from the small tempest, holding in one withered claw a bloodied and terrified soldier.

  • Zahara smiles, "Excellent. Where did you find him?"
  • Cerin regards the man before him. What is he?

Cerin's eyes behold the shifting Essence flows of the man held before him. He is an Exalt, though once again one the likes of which Cerin has never seen. He seems lacking in power -- not much better than a Dragon-Blood, and a fairly inexperienced one at that.

  • Cerin murmurs "Zahara, we must be careful with him, he is an Exalt of some sort, though he should not be much more powerful than one of the dragontouched
  • Zahara nods, "I'm sure Lucien can keep him in check for the time being. Depending on what he knows, we may want to keep him here more permanently, though."

The demon creaks out his answer. "I found him in a brothel in Bright Waters." He throws the Exalt -- still heavily bleeding -- onto the ground, violently. His uniform clearly marks him as an infantryman in Rannath's legion.

<Zahara?> "Soldier, what is your name and rank?" she asks, though she knows the rank already.

<Bertrand> "buh...buh...buh... Bertrand Tallani, fuh...fuh...First Infantryman."

<Zahara?> "Bertrand Tallani, who do you serve?"

<Bertrand> "I... suh... suh.... I serve Rannath and the glorious rulers of the Sunlands."

  • Zahara laughs, her voice ringing through the room. "No, Bertrand, I asked WHO YOU SERVE" she leans down and picks him up by the throat, and beneath her skin *things* ripple and surge, black legs occasionally piercing the surface of her skin and waving through the air as they move towards him. Her eyes burn like fire.

Bertrand begins to shake visibly in Zahara's iron grip. "I se... se... I serve the... Order of the Red Lily!" he says, quickly, as if that will somehow lessen his suffering.

<Cerin?> "That's better" cerin speaks very softly.

<Zahara?> "Ahh, finally, you speak the truth. For that you shall be rewarded. See how I do not crush your throat?" she smiles magnamoniously. "Now, you will tell me what you do for the Order of the Red Lily."

Bertrand swallows hard, and tries to blink the still-flowing blood out of his eyes, with little success.

  • Zahara kindly smears the blood away from his forehead with her free hand.

<Bertrand> "I was told to observe the actions of the Sunlands' army and report back on it. A... also to keep an eye on... him." He feebly gestures with his head towards Cerin.

<Zahara?> "Indeed. Now detail every report you have sent, here, in writing. I want the reports on him separate from the general reports." She drops him into a chair near a table, with neatly stacked sheaves of paper on top, and a quill pen. "I was going to make you write it using your own blood, but that always flakes off the page. Try not to be too messy."

<Cerin?> "How did you deliever your reports?"

Bertrand stares at Zahara for several minutes, as if hoping that somehow he could die just by thinking hard enough. Then, he turns to answer Cerin.

<Bertrand> "I... placed my reports in a drawer in my room, before I slept. They were gone in the morning, with only petals in their place."

He then turns to the table and begins shakily writing.

  • Cerin nods
  • Zahara looms over his shoulder like a vulture

After quite some time, Bertrand completes his stack of reports. He has reported extensively on the structure and mobilization of the Legion, as well as on the apparent defenses of the Labyrinth, the times at which members of the circle have been absent, and the activities Cerin has performed within the manse.

  • Zahara pats the man on the shoulder, and from behind him a sesselje sinks into his flesh, knitting bone and flesh and healing him slightly. It feels strange, wrong, but when it finishes, he feels better. Hardly good as new, but at least not on the verge of death.
  • Cerin looks over the list of his activities too

There is no apparent indication of Cerin's "change of heart" in anything listed within the reports.

<Zahara?> "You have done well, Bertrand." she smiles, as the sesselje scuttles back into her own flesh. "I'm feeling generous. I'll leave your disposition up to Rannath, your leader. However," she places her hand on the papers that mention Cerin's involvement,

<Zahara?> "If you even so much as HINT at mentioning Cerin's involvement, I will take you back, and I will rip your heart out and feed it to you every day for the rest of your life. And believe me, you will live a VERY long time."

Bertrand gulps.

<Bertrand> "I... I understand."

<Zahara?> "Now, just to make sure you know I speak truly, I will show you." She picks the poor wreck up again, and guides him gently down the hallway to The Room, to show him what happens to the people she doesn't like. She opens one cell door, and the Abyssal hangs there, spread eagled, on the wall. He can see the rings through the man's limbs.

Bertrand takes one look and vomits, explosively, all over the floor, then drops to the ground.

<Zahara?> "I'm glad we have an understanding." she says, and deposits him in a second room, one with empty rings in the walls, and leaves.

<Cerin?> "I wonder what he is. Perhaps Rannath will let us find out"

<Zahara?> Perhaps. This room should be sealed off from outside..or inside, for that matter.. expenditures of Essence. I learned THAT after the break-in.

  • Cerin nods "That would be most wise"

<Zahara?> "We may want to monitor him for a while, but I doubt he has any fight left in him. It's the Order we need to know about. We should search his room, find if there is some special ink or paper he used, or anything else that might give us a clue on how their magic works.

<Cerin?> "As far as I know, it requires no special ink, the magic is a charm that Lai uses, but it would be wise to check none the less"

<Zahara?> "Would Lai know who wrote the letter? Or could we place any note in that drawer and have it arrive there as if he wrote it?"

<Cerin?> "I have no knowledge of the magics he has to detect such a forgery"

<Zahara?> "Hmm then perhaps Rannath will agree to have Bertrand write missives for us."

<Cerin?> "Hopefully, or else his unit may have to suffer an 'ambush' and in a month or two Lucien will have to search again"

<Zahara?> "Ahh good plan."

<Cerin?> "THough we never did find out how he joined the unit.."

<Zahara?> "Do you want to ask now, or give him time to stew?"

<Zahara?> "for that matter, you never told me how YOU joined either."

<Cerin?> "Now might be best, since it will tell us to watch out for"

<Zahara?> "Yes, and then you can tell me your story at leisure, over supper." She palms the door open, and it slides away like a whisper.

<Zahara?> "Hello, Bertrand." she says, looking into the cell at the man.

Bertrand is lying on his side in a fetal position, clearly terrified after the treatment he has just received.

<Zahara?> "We thought of one more question for you," she says pleasantly. "Tell us what brought you to join the Order of the Red Lily."

<Bertrand> "Uh... um... er..." Bertrand sits up, still looking terrified.

  • Zahara offers him a glass of water

He takes it, and drinks it, probably too fast.

  • Zahara waits expectantly

He begins to speak. "I lived in a small village, north of here. The mayor had made arrangements with the local spirits for various things... good crops, decent weather, that sort of thing."

  • Cerin nods slowly
  • Zahara pulls up a chair and listens to storytime.

<Bertrand> "One day, they came to the village and told the mayor that the village had been chosen -- that all of its youth would be granted special power and go off to wondrous adventures, after which they would return and raise strong children."

<Bertrand> "A spirit called Rovak the Hart-Runner took me to his sanctum, in a grove in the nearby forest."

<Bertrand> "He explained to me that I was going to become an Exalt -- a chosen champion."

  • Cerin listens carefully
  • Zahara nods encouragingly.

<Bertrand> "He laid me down on this strange wooden table, and began to perform some elaborate magical ritual over me. I can't remember it very well, but he had all these strange magical objects...."

<Bertrand> "As I fell unconscious, I felt like something.... clicked inside me, like a door being unlocked. When I awoke, I was Exalted."

<Cerin?> "And after that?"

<Bertrand> "Lai came and spoke to me the next day. He told me that the Order of the Red Lily were going to overthrow the corrupt governments and establish a new world order -- where people like us could run things, make them work better."

  • Zahara says in an aggrieved voice, "They think we're corrupt?"

<Bertrand> "A week later, I was shuffled off to become part of the Legion. That was... a year ago?"

  • Cerin places a calming hand on hers "They consider all rule apart from theirs corrupt" he murmurs in her ear

<Zahara?> "You have seen our government at work, how smoothly everything runs, and how well our people are treated. Why would you want to destroy something that you could have been a part of instead?"

<Bertrand> "I... I... um." Bertrand seems lost. "I... it all made sense before..."

He looks down at the ground and mumbles to himself for a moment.

  • Zahara stands and presses a panel on the wall, and a diffuse glow lights the room. "Think about it. You can use this panel to turn the lights on and off, for now." She says, rewarding him for his answer by not leaving him in the pitch pitch black of the sealed room.

<Zahara?> "Cerin, is there anything else you'd like to ask our new friend?"

  • Cerin shakes his head "Nothing for the moment, though of course I might think of something overnight"

<Zahara?> "Then we shall see you on the morrow."

< When Yeddim Attack | Sol Invictus Logs | Greater Lipid Mass >

Page last modified on February 03, 2009, at 02:11 AM