Summary:Following up on the tip, Lucent and Imrama visit Herons' hideaway.

XP:I1, L1


< A Penetrating Insight | Sol Invictus Logs | That Is... Unhelpful >

Lucent stood besides the wheel on the Fable of Reconstruction, watching the world pass fast beneath their gazes. Smoke of undifferentiated colors exhaled from his lips, the orbs swinging nervously about him as he handed the pipe back to Imrama. "... and thus, he was behind the hunt for Solars. Behind Surkha. And yet, he aided our compatriots in the past..."

Imrama 's eyes narrow just slightly. "There are many questions I would like to ask of this man. Or rather, there are many answers I would like to hear from him."

Lucent "If the Sidereals aided Surkha, you know the only thing they could have done. Aiding her in the sort of knowledge a Terrestrial in those days would never have... how to bind a Solar in the Auric Temple. Or to aid in capturing one." He sighs. "Poor Arathi."

Imrama furrows his brow in thought for a second. "From what Arathi has told us, his exaltation occurred in the instant before Surkha struck him. Herons or his co-conspirators may well have guided her actions after he took the second breath, but they could not have predicted it."

Lucent "That is a good point." He inhales from the pipe again, "But it is said that the methods of the Wyld Hunt allow them to hunt for Exaltations-to-be, however poorly... so they might have known. Or not, depending on how much what was written of them is true. Something else to ask of him."

Lucent "Not that he can be trusted with answers. The man seems to play at all sides and belong to none."

Imrama "The time for such aloofness is long past. If he will not choose to take up arms against the enemies of Creation, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her defenders, then he has already chosen to side with the fallen."

Lucent "He has already sided with us before, only to be working on his own projects. It appears to me like he believes he does stand with the defenders... but believes himself to the only worthwhile one. And that is the hopeful alternative." He considers. "We will have to Oath him. In tight Oaths."

Somewhere far below, the island Kish told Lucent of pulls over the horizon: a beautiful, sandy isle, part of a long archipelago, bedecked in tropical fruits and surrounded by brilliant, azure water.

Lucent "The bastard has good taste." Lucent mutters darkly.

Imrama Watching for any signs of construction or habitation, Imrama brings the Fable in to land.

Lucent steps out of the Fable, looking for buildings fit for a Prince of the Earth to come home to.

Lucent "No Sidereal Shall Escape Our Sight." Kaleidoscopic eyes opened wide, scouring the terrain about them! His gaze so intent that leaves broke off trees, that the sands shifted forming patterns that read 'Where', 'Starchosen', "Let Their Secrets Come to Light."

The two scour the land with their eyes from shore to shore, but to no direct avail -- there is nothing even remotely similar to a habitat or construction on this island.

In the process of searching, however, each of the two does manage to notice something of interest about their current location: Imrama manages to spot the unmistakable shape of a Gate ring, sitting not four islands away,

while in the opposite direction, Lucent notices one (much larger) island on which the loosely-packed trees give way to something denser --a thickly-packed wall of heavily-leafed trees, all wound in a tight knot together and blocking off all external sight.

Lucent points towards it. "That seems to be the only place here able to house a Manse."

Imrama tilts his head a bit to the side. "Worth investigating, yes. I wonder how he moves about, with the Gate Network unraveled."

Lucent "Good question." He nods, walking back to the Fable. "And I wonder why Kish gave coordinates that were just slightly off."

Imrama "It may be that the proper coordinates are mystically occluded in some way. Or it may be that he was being a jerk. Lets go look into the strange tree-formation."

Lucent "Considering Starchosen, I would guess the latter."

Imrama steers the Fable in for a closer inspection, whistling a jaunty tune.

The Solars move close to the thickly-packed trees. They seem to fill five or six layers deep, more than enough to keep outside sight from looking in -- though on closer inspection, it is clear that little windy paths run through them near their roots, large enough for a not-too-sizeable human to walk through in relative comfort.

Lucent steps out. "He likes his privacy. It seems authentic, at least."

Imrama "Let us see if he is at home." Imrama descends and enters the grove.

Lucent walks in front of Imrama, to better weather any possible traps. "That was a nice tune, Imrama. I think I have heard it somewhere before... is it from the Golden Age?"

The winding paths bend through the thick copse, granting a lazy and pleasant trip through a space that is unexpectedly pleasant to walk through -- a faint, joyful scent on the breeze, a pleasant dappling of light cast by the shifting leaves, the barely audible sound of rustling. It is a longer trip than the Solars expect, but eventually they reach the end, and emerge.

Imrama "Yes, an old shanty: We Who Hunt Kireeki's Fold in the Service of Fair Luna. I don't know much about modern music, really."

The contents of the grove are not quite what they might have expected. There is no elaborate manse here, no oddly pleasant hut. Instead, they find a few simple things: a bookshelf, filled with immaculately-kept editions of all Creation's finest novels, spanning back millennia;

a writing table, and several comfortable chairs; a tray, with two bottles of wine upon it, one open (and empty) and one closed, along with a single wineglass; a small shrine, the sigil of Jupiter carved into green jade and set at eye level for one kneeling to pray;

a set of small rocks arranged in a ring, with the evidence of a small campfire once having burned within them; a smaller tree, planted oddly within the clearing, under which many small objects sit, all currently somewhat obfuscated by layers of grass weave tossed over them; and a single brass ring, with a small note (on high-bond paper) tied to it by silk string.

Lucent pivks up the note and reads!

Lucent "This is very... rustic."

"Dear most lovely of visitors," the note leads off, in almost painfully perfect handwriting of a most smooth and elegant nature.

Imrama "It is a residence that speaks of a purpose-driven life. A man defined by actions rather than by possessions. It gives me reason to respect this man, Seven-Leaping-Herons." Imrama peruses the note.

Lucent "A man who was expecting us."

The note continues. "Is it the first stirrings of Autumn, in the very third year of the New Deliberative? If not, I am glad, for then it is the midst of your maiden year, and there is still much more that can be done."

Imrama "We are luckier than we might have been, it appears."

Lucent "So he foresees ill tidings two years hence. I had hoped that was not for all of us..."

Imrama turns abruptly away from the page to look at Lucent. "What do you mean by those ominous tones?"

Lucent looks into Imrama's eyes, considering, for a moment... then sighs "There was an ill omen for me at the Violet Bier of Sorrows. A Destiny of the Sword. Accepting it without reservation was the payment for the information they gave me." He turns back to the note, "Please, do not tell any of the others."

Imrama regards Lucent with soft eyes. "I will keep this confidence, if it is your wish. But I am not satisfied to accept some unknown doom for my friends any more than for myself. I made no such vow." He puts his arm around Lucent.

Imrama As they finish reading the letter together.

Lucent smiles sadly. "I hoped it would be just me."

"Do not falter in your footsteps at the coming of plague and destruction, at the armies of death, at the pain and suffering you shall suffer at the hands of those closest to you," the note continues.

Lucent "... but apparently, all the stars in the sky are our enemies."

"I have had a great interest in you for some time, and I have done all I can to aid you, but when you read this I will be far gone. What I can leave to aid you is here; what else I have arranged for you to find is, I hope, already in your hands."

Imrama "Then - if need be - we shall knock them all to the earth, and forge from their remnants far finer things."

"Please know that I wish only for you to succeed -- for if you fail, then I know that all of Creation will follow shortly thereafter into ruin."

"If by tragic chance you do find this in the third year, then I offer my condolences for your loss."

The note is signed "Seven Leaping Herons," and then below, there is a brief postscript:

"P.S. If you should happen to meet Kai Buckthorn again, tell her, 'the wind blows northerly through the trees.' She will know what I meant."

Lucent "We shall." He grins to Imrama... a short-lived grin as he finishes the note.

Lucent "I want to beat this man within an inch of his life."

Imrama "I share your frustration, Lucent. But he is either a Yeddim's testacle, or he is compelled by great and unknown circumstances to behave like one. Either way, our best course is to make use of what little he has left us." Imrama inspects the tree and the objects thereunder.

Lucent "I will go with the former." Lucent tucks the note away and begins to rummage through the objects. He also picks up the open bottle of wine and sniffs to see if it is still edible.

Lucent ((* closed bottle of wine!!))

The closed bottle of wine is of a classic vintage from one of the finest vineyards on the Blessed Isle -- a bottle that might fetch thirty jade talents from the finest wine conoisseurs of Creation -- and appears to be "immaculately" preserved.

Under the mats that cover the tree's bottom, the first thing that the Solars notice is five carefully placed discs of polished marble, placed in a perfect pentagon around the tree -- clearly buried there at the time of its planting -- in five colors: yellow, blue, red, green, and purple.

On the five discs, a variety of items have been placed. The purple disc has the fewest: a scrap of paper torn from a book, reading only "...ards can hibernate for as long as five yea...," as well as a tiny ceramic pot with a frowning face painted crudely on it in black.

On the green disc, three objects: a tube of green lipstick, a tiny map on which Thorns and Solaria are circled in green, while spots in An-Teng, the Nameless Kingdom, and Wavecrest are marked with Xes; and a tiny golden pin, like those Cerin wears, except bearing the Twilight caste seal.

On the red disc, a tiny dragon figurine wrought in grey stone, a stack of blank birth certificates from the Realm, and a a piece of purple vine, twisted into a knot.

On the blue disc, a winecork from a V'neef vineyard, a manifest of ships (most Realm vessels originating from a variety of different Navies, but some completely unrecognizable and oddly named), and a set of tiny bells.

And finally, on the yellow disc: a small notecard with what appears to be a library call number written on it, a tiny book in which are written seemingly endless lists of geneaologies tracing through numerous generations -- near the end of which, after several torn-out pages, appears the name "Imrama," and finally, a tiny braided ring, half of starmetal and half of orichalcum.

Imrama "I take back every foul thought I have had for this man. He has left us with a great abundance, my friend."

Lucent "I do not. But it is clear he wishes us to take the Five Who Are Fallen... which aligns our goals."

Lucent "For the moment." A flick of his wrist, and all of the objects float in the air... and then, a moment later, he changes his mind, and they return. "... hmmm. We are in a tropical isle. Instead of taking them to the Cascade, I vote we bring the others here, and investigate under firelight at the beach."

Lucent grins sadly, "Life is too short to miss such an opportunity."

Imrama makes to examine the braided ring.

Two thick bands of the two metals weave across one another, with a thin frame of white jade holding the weave together on either side. It is clearly quite old, but doesn't bear the slightest hint of tarnish or grime.

Imrama "An excellent maxim by which to live." Imrama touches the ring experimentally.

A cavalcade of images -- a wedding in the clouds, a honeymoon voyage through all eight corners of Creation, a reflexive movement to rub the ring in a moment of unsettledness -- all flood into Imrama's mind at the first touch, but after that -- it is just a ring.

Imrama places the ring carefully into his left breast pocket. "I am somewhat apprehensive about leaving any of these objects unattended, now that we have found them. But I agree that this is a lovely island, and our Circle well-deserves whatever relaxation it can provide."

Lucent "You can go pick the Circle." He walks to the shelf, "I have some reading to do, apparently."

Imrama smiles and shrugs. "I wouldn't leave even my enemy with nothing to read but that stuffy old mess. But whatever suits you, Lucent."

Lucent "It may tell us something. Speaking of, what was that ring you just picked up?"

Imrama pats his heart, which the ring now rests over. "It was Askaru's wedding band. Two rings were cut from the same braid of Starmetal and Orichalcum. Remembrance wore the other. She still may." Imrama closes his eyes for a moment, and a look of deep melancholy crosses his face.

Lucent "So when you touched it..."

Imrama "I saw the wedding, the tour of Creation that followed, a moment when Askaru spun it on his finger nervously. Pieces of a life that used to belong to this shard."

Lucent steps over to Imrama, placing a hand on his shoulder. "... it must have been hard."

Imrama moves his hand from his heart and cups Lucent's cheek lightly. "The price of our power has been paid for us out of the past. But you, Lucent, have paid a high cost from your future. I hope that you will let your friends stand with you, when your creditors come to call."

Lucent "I will." He shakes his head. "I am not sure it may be possible to beat a Fate you have resigned yourself to... but to do so is the mark of an Exalted. To at least try. And even if we fail... take care of Varanim, will you?"

Imrama draws back his hand from Lucent's face, and raises it beside his own head, palm-out. "My solemn vow."

Lucent "Then, whatever happens," He closes his eyes, "I know all will be in the best possible hands."

Lucent "I will never be able to thank you enough, Imrama Stormfound."

Imrama "Nonetheless, I encourage you to try mightily, Lucent Copper Haze!" Imrama laughs jovially, and claps Lucent on the shoulder.

Lucent "I will. Until we find Herons... until I know who I am... then Fate be damned. Until then."

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Page last modified on February 14, 2009, at 07:17 PM