Summary:Varanim investigates Remembrance's flower bomb in more detail, and frees the souls that were trapped within.



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Varanim has taken her time approaching the flower. She began with the simple homework: names and numbers of the dead, the exact physical dimensions of the thing, and--over time--whether its prisoned half-souls have reacted to the hungry ghosts in Lucien's pit of hell. She sits before it now in contemplating, checking first to see if its Essence patterns have changed since the start.

The flower seems to have changed almost not at all since Varanim last saw it.

Varanim With the relevant halls of her memory now stretching before her, Varanim casts her mind inward to review the fragments of the flower's use in battle, this time taking care to cross-reference them with even her most tangentially related readings.

Varanim casts through even the smallest aspects of the weapon, finally putting together the intricate, twenty-three-step process by which the flower can be primed -- including the necessity to fill it with an additional ten souls to prime it for each use.

Varanim gives a small nod of satisfaction as she cements the process in her mind. She scowls at it for a few moments longer, then shrugs and grabs a piece of paper from her bag to scribble, In case of emergency, break glass.

Varanim Then she closes her eyes, arranges the appropriate Essence in her mind and arm, and with a sharp effort of will she hurls her consciousness out of her body. As smoky crystal encases her physical body, Varanim the ghost stands to approach the flower again.

The flower doesn't look categorically different, but... something about it looks quite a bit more dangerous to Varanim now than it did when she was still cushioned in the safe shelter of her body.

Varanim As her spirit body takes form, the experimental second spell that had hung in potential--waiting for a ghost--slides into place with a tangible click. There's a grating sound as Varanim's soulsteel hand, encased in crystal, clenches into a fist. Ghost-Varanim winces and gags for a moment, clutching her throat, then smirks as she feels the Essence tether linking the two bodies.

Varanim With that dubious safeguard in place, she steps closer to the flower, looking for a way in.

Looking closely, in spirit-form, with Essence eyes, Varanim can see the tiny hidden mouths, the spirals of soulsteel that form the entries for souls to be devoured by the beastly weapon, hudden underneath the bases of the petals.

Varanim After a moment of scowling consideration, Varanim shrugs. "Anyone awake in there?" she mutters, and slams her hand forward into one of the entrance spirals.

No sooner do her spectral fingers stretch out over towards the mouth than Varanim feels the device begin to suck her in. She manages to hold on, but only with incredible effort, and the pain from the device's intense pull on her spirit is quite strong.

Varanim Sinking into the deep focus that has carried her thus far in life, Varanim briefly accepts the eroding pain as a necessary background frame for the questions that brought her: how many souls are imprisoned in the device, and is there a possible map by which they might be released without cataclysm?

With immaculate timing, Varanim manages to pull back from the brink of the abyss just before it consumes her, telling her what she seeks to know: there are five souls left in the flower, none fully whole given the brutal treatment inflicted on anything run through such a vicious process...

It seems, however, that there is a mechanism, a disarming process by which the flower can be emptied, and the souls within shunted across the Shroud, with careful and specific application of Essence.

Varanim steps back quickly from the flower, rubbing at her throat as the link to her real body tightens sharply. "All right, all right," she mutters irritably, then settles back into herself--first, to drink a little, and second, to begin the painstaking disarming process.

Jupiter The process is slow, and intricate, and unpleasant, though performing it gives Varanim a far more in-depth knowledge of the hideous flower's workings; and at the end, she has only a single invisible button to press, and the remaining souls will be ejected forth from the device.

Varanim With a little shrug, Varanim triggers the final Essence mechanism.

Jupiter With a whoosh, the flower's petals all curve upwards, closing into a little soulsteel flower bud; and from the bottom, a rush of plasmic Essence shoots out, freeing the five souls that were trapped within.

Jupiter As they emerge, Varanim can already tell that something is wrong with them -- their patterns distorted, their Essence scarred and broken. Three seem beyond rational hope, their plasmic bodies collapsing under their unsupportable weight, their arms lolling at horrific angles and their misshapen faces twisted up in rictus grins.

Jupiter Of the two others, one wastes no time in dropping to its hands and knees and running away with all imaginable speed -- which leaves just one other, who staggers for a moment, drops backwards, and then covers his head with his hands, shivering.

Varanim grimaces, taking in the scene and then fixing her eyes on the possibly lucid remaining one. "If I say 'hi,' can you hear me or does that get turned into the foul lashings of a thousand razored whips or something?"

Jupiter The ghost uncovers its head and scoots back violently, staring up at Varanim with terrified eyes. After a moment, though, it seems like her entirely unthreatening words get through and it stops, blinks, and looks up at her, still shivering, but... slightly less now. "H...h...hello?"

Varanim ::Imrama? Lucent? Hell, even Zee?:: After a moment of silence from the social part of the group, she sighs. "Crap."

Varanim Then she fixes her eyes on the ghost again. "What's the last thing you remember?"

Varanim With a little frown at the others, who seem to be beyond recovery, she cups her hands together and breathes a few words into them to kindle the spark of Lethe. Hands glowing now, she absently extends them to touch the foreheads of the three broken ghosts while she waits for the fourth to pull itself together.

Jupiter Even as the ghosts dissolve into the sweet release of rebirth, the last remaining ghost begins to slowly, but with great difficulty, force himself into a state of at least very slight control. "I... I..." His whole "body" shudders and shakes. "I was in the caravan," he says. "We'd... we'd taken that merchant on along with us... Evim..." He shakes his head.

Jupiter "We were stopped for the night, in Dragon's Tooth... I... I wanted to celebrate, we'd had a successful run, and... and I invited Evim out to join me..." He's shaking even more, now, from the effort of remembering.

Jupiter "We were leaving, and... I... I thought we would head back to the inn, and... In the alleyway... Oh gods," he says, and shudders. "That knife... wrapped in vines... 'Laerad' -- that's what Evim said. 'Laerad appreciates your sacrifice.' And then into the.. fuh... fuh... flowe..." He shoves his head back down into his hands.

Varanim frowns, considering him for a minute. "The bad news is that you're dead, but you probably figured that out already."

Varanim "The good news," she sighs, "is that you can do what you want from here."

Jupiter The ghost looks around, in a certain amount of confusion.

Varanim rubs her temples, and takes another drink while she's thinking of it. "If you want to give your next life a try, that can be arranged. If you want to try being a ghost for a while, the Sunlands isn't bad for that, at least outside of the immediate neighborhood." She waves a tired hand at the Shadowland pit around them.

Varanim "Just don't go back in the flower," she adds as an afterthought. "It took me a long time to turn it off."

Jupiter The ghost stands up and looks around, trying to take in the surroundings. "Um."

Varanim stands herself, with a great creaking and snapping--and occasional pinging--of joints. "I'm going to go find the other one who crawled off and put him down--uh, trust me, that's a lot nicer than it sounds. If you want, come along. If not, I'll check in on you in a bit when I've finished my breakfast drinking."

Jupiter "I..." he sits down. "I think I'll, uh, wait... here."

Varanim shrugs, slinging her staff over one shoulder and pausing before ducking into the exit tunnel. "Neither of these is likely to help, but for what it's worth: you've already been through the worst, and we'll find Evim. And," she adds the last with a grim look at the flower, "fixing this cute little abortion is my personal project."

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Page last modified on March 23, 2009, at 02:44 AM