< Not Giving Up | Sol Invictus Logs | The Shattering >

Summary: Varanim brings Spring in to check out her basement monster.

XP:S1, V1

Varanim "Right," says Varanim grimly, rolling up her sleeve to expose the Hearthstone. "Third try, and don't mention this to Lucent or he'll get pestery about it."

Spring raises his eyebrows inquisitively and waits.

Varanim "You'll see," she sniffs, then closes her eyes and projects herself into the crystal.

Spring follows as best he can.

Inside, the plaza is just as monochrome -- and largely deserted -- as on her last visit.

Spring "Have you no doormen?"

Varanim "Oh goodness yes, I've been thinking the place needs a full fleet of servants, only it keeps slipping my mind." Varanim takes a quick, sharp look around, then leads the way toward the trapdoor she remembers.

Spring "Right. It momentarily slipped my mind that you do not believe in employment opportunities for peasants."

Spring "An excellent attitude for a Solar."

Varanim "If the Small Whirlwind can manage picking up her own socks, I would expect reasonable people over the age of eight to struggle through also. How you made it from that to 'fuck the poor' is a leap of logic you'll have to chart sometime."

Varanim "You know, later."

Spring grins. "I am of course at your convenience."

Varanim looks startled for a moment, then distinctly annoyed. "I can't believe I didn't notice you winding me up. Hanging around you people is rotting my brain." She leads them down a less-used looking section of the halls.

Spring "As a necromancer, surely that should be within your purview."

Varanim "Hm, 'wait until it dies, then hand it off to the necromancer' is a good way to cut down on your workload as a doctor, I guess." She looks over at him briefly. "How's that going, anyway?"

Spring "Being a doctor? Very well, thank you."

Varanim "So why did you do it?" Varanim pauses to frowns at an intersection, since the way through the stone is muddy even with a guide.

Spring "Do you mean why did I become a doctor instead of a general?"

Spring "Because the alternative was to die, and destroy the universe."

Spring "I have never claimed to be perfect, but I have some clearly denoted goals, and I do what I must do to reach them."

Spring "Why did you become a necromancer, instead of some other presumably accessible alternative?"

Varanim "It seemed like the thing to do at the time."

Varanim "I was... looking for a new direction in my life, and it seemed like a useful but mostly unaddressed set of problems."

The Solars arrive, eventually, at the grating that marks the entrance to the catacombs.

Varanim "Plus, hanging out in graveyards is great for not meeting people." Varanim squats by the grate, grips it firmly with her soulsteel hand, and tugs.

The eel-grey angular catacombs bend down beneath, eerily beckoning the Solars to journey inwards.

Varanim "I have basically no idea what's down here," she adds cheerfully, and leads the way further in.

Spring "I would not have it any other way."

Spring "Your reasons and mine coincide to a great degree."

Varanim "Hm," she considers with a frown. "I don't remember the destruction of the universe cropping up in mine, but maybe I just overlooked it."

Spring "People tend to."

Varanim walks in silence for a moment. "I did it because it seemed untenable to me that the world should continue on as it had done."

Spring pauses also. "Yes."

Spring "I think that we are using the word untenable in slightly different ways here, but at heart we do not disagree."

Varanim "Could be," Varanim agrees, obviously a little uncomfortable with the conversational branch although she started it. "Hear anything shouting about doom, yet?"

Spring cocks an ear.

There is some vague rumbling from off to the southeast.

Spring "Not exactly. Something appears to be going on to the southeast of us." Spring helpfully points.

Varanim "How do you decide that's southeast, anyway?" Varanim heads in the indicated direction.

Varanim "And why were you going to destroy the universe as a general?"

Spring "Destruction is the purview of generals."

Spring leads into a maze of twisty little passageways, all alike.

Spring "I guessed."

The rumbling seems to be getting a bit louder.

Spring glances around with a certain concern, then spits up a vase and puts it on the ground, so as to identify this point should they return to it.

The air starts to get cold -- though it's a relative kind of "cold," given the overall muting effect on all senses within the jewel.

Varanim "I got a partial look at its fetters the last time," Varanim says as she notices the chill. "Can you keep it from killing me until I see the rest?"

Spring "Yes."

Varanim "Good. I should also mention I don't actually know what to do about it, so I'll sort of be making things up as I go."

Spring "Thank you for the warning."

Suddenly, from out of one of the side corridors, the creature comes barrelling out, a whirling mass of black cloaks and dark energy, tall and moving rapidly, the voice inside this time speaking barely in single words: DOOM. DESTRUCTION. ENDINGS. DEATH. COLLAPSE. FAILURE.

Varanim continues toward the source of the cold, listening and extending her other senses ahead.

Spring "Relax."

Varanim holds her left hand palm-up before her face and blows a breath across it. The exhalation turns to frozen mist, which begins to writhe and shape into the forms of the creature's fetters and passions.

The two visions Varanim extracted before come back to her almost immediately -- the manse, and the woman with green lips.

The creature turns on Spring almost immediately, its cloaks spinning out and angrily directing their sharp edges at his every extremity.

One by one, in drips and drabs, more visions slip forward out of the undistinguished mist, into Varanim's sight.

Spring turns, bending and misdirecting the attacks, but one slips just barely through, nicking his arm with razor-sharpness; he feels the icy-cold burn of the creature's frosty aura, and even his effort to turn the cold back on its originator seems, irritatingly enough, to have little effect.

Thirteen hisses, and shakes his arm.

Thirteen "Be careful."

The next image arises for Varanim: a sable and black device, tall, built of soulsteel and moonsilver, with a pattern like an abstractly-drawn human being, mirrored across a central dividing line such that the steel becomes the silver and vice-versa, with a chair for a person to sit attached on one side, and a black cauldron on the other...

Varanim "Thanks, I had that idea after it nicked me the first time." Varanim stares at the miniature vision with a fierce glare, memorizing it and trying to ignore the howling in the background as she concentrates on the next.

The whirling cloak-beast redoubles its attack, focusing in with a single-minded intent: to destroy Spring entirely, tearing his body apart with its razor-sharp cloak.

Thirteen abandons his attempts at defense and steps directly into the ghost-like creature, letting its body wrap around him. He puts it on like a garment, accepting the cutting edges into him and letting them pass through him, and breathes the cold, feeling it soak into his lungs.

The creature's six inner faces -- the mustachioed creep, the old woman, the emaciated cyclops, the sad maiden, the smiling monk, and the dark Varanim -- gaze at Spring with strange looks as he enters into the creature's core.

Another vision emerges from the mist for Varanim -- a woman, clad in blowing robes and knotted ropes, long silver hair caught in the wind, and a serene face, set as if ready to stand up against a severe challenge....

Varanim "What the--are you all right in there?" She almost misses a beat in the focus.

Spring ::No answer, but a swirling quiet, and a feeling of calm absence.::

The creature spends a moment jabbing uselessly with its knife-tendrils as another vision -- an iron pendant with a drama-mask face impressed upon it -- floats up through the air.

As the final vision begins to coalesce, slowly, with great difficulty, the creature suddenly stops its flailing and tucks in on itself... and then, all of its black, flapping surfaces begin to glow an ever-brightening shade of arc blue...

Varanim frowns at the replying silence from Spring, and then dips her head and lets out a precise trickle of breath, frost-patterns feathering across her palm to frame the last vision.

Spring ::Hurry.::

Spring watches the faces with blank eyes, that suddenly sharpen.

Just as the light gets to an almost blinding level, the last vision comes into focus... or does it?

Varanim sees something, definitely, but what it is cannot be determined... it's there, but somehow it feels like, even when she looks straight at it, it's somehow slipping, just outside her field of vision... somehow absent, even though she knows for certain that the final vision is right there in front of her....

Varanim Varanim's lips flatten into a thin line as the phantoms floating over her hand try to describe the shape of something unshapeable. ::Done.::

Varanim "This is my house," she says, and where there was a green-lipped woman on the ghost's soul, now there is only Varanim's face.

The creature's glowing continues to glow ever brighter, but its rapid spinning seems to temporarily halt, as if in some way it has redirected a portion of its focus...

Spring steps out of it, breathing slightly, and makes for the door, giving Varanim a tense glance.

No more than a second or two after Spring steps out, there is an almost-blinding flash of blue light, and the temperature of the whole room -- mediated by the usual muting effect of the jewel -- drops about 30 degrees.

As the light fades again, a large chunk of ice, about the size of of a cow, drops from the internals of the now once-again black mass and shatters on the ground; it waits about four seconds before resuming its spinning and giving chase after Spring once again.

Spring "Interesting."

Spring "Shall we go?"

Varanim There is obvious conflict on Varanim's face--one of her feet slides back to run, but her left arm is lifted, muscles writhing under the skin like a nest of snakes. At the sound of his voice she seems to recall the situation, and turns to run after him.

Spring "You have a fascinaitng houseguest."

Varanim "It was asleep until I met you people. C'mon, let's get out of here before something else decides it has important doom to tell me about."

Varanim leads the way back to the plaza, to go out.

Spring "What did you do?"

Varanim "Me? Nothing, as usual. It woke up in Tesearah, which was otherwise an unblemished tapestry of hilarities."

Spring "Just now."

Varanim "Oh, that. I peeped its fetters and passions, so it's at least sort of a ghost." She frowns and starts to tick off on her fingers.

Varanim "The Sublime Refuge of Unquiet Thought, the woman with green lips, some sort of soulsteel and moonsilver apparatus, a silver-haired woman in robes and ropes, a masked pendant, and a hole that wasn't there."

Varanim "Anything inside it but faces?" She takes a closer look at him. "And are you all right?"

Spring "Hm."

Spring "...yes."

Spring casually puts his arm behind his back.

Spring "All I saw inside were faces. A mustachioed man, a crone, a cyclops, a maiden, a monk, and...you."

Spring "At least we know what a few of those fetters are."

Spring "We need a way to communicate with it."

Spring "Do you know a good necromancer?"

Varanim sniffs. "It's a terrible likeness--I never smile that much. And it may be more interested in talking to me now, since I sort of replaced one of its fetters with myself."

Spring sighs. "Shall we try again? Perhaps, ah, in a day or so."

Varanim looks uncomfortable, then annoyed. "I can most likely take care of it myself."

Spring pauses. "If you would prefer that, then of course."

Spring "I merely meant that I need to visit Lucent before I do anything strenuous again. It is difficult for a doctor to heal himself."

Varanim "Turning my messes into other people's problems is near the top of my list of least favorite things. You shouldn't feel obliged to help."

Varanim "But... if you happened to have the time, it might be interesting."

Spring "I would be lying if I said that I felt no obligation to help my friends. But believe me -- I want to know more about it."

Varanim "Close enough, I guess. And Spring? Uh, thanks."

Spring "Any time."


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Page last modified on February 08, 2009, at 02:15 AM