Summary:In the midst of a planned evening of relaxation, many things go wrong at once.

XP:I4, L4, S4, V4, Z4


< The Root of Beginnings | Sol Invictus Logs | Eos-Se-Ala >

Spring "The Exploding Tavern? What, exactly, is the plot of this play?"

Varanim "It's a classic, lots of fart humor. Probably not a big number in the fancy theaters here."

zahara "Don't look at me, it wasn't my idea to go." She sighs a little.

Bertrand grins sheepishly. "It was written by one of the Sunlands' premier playwrights," he says, spreading out the playbills he had brought on the table before the skeptical Solars. "They say that people have been travelling from as far as Chiaroscuro to see it."

zahara "I miss Birds," she murmurs, frowning.

Bertrand A cool wind blows in from the open windows.

Spring "I am glad that our investment in the arts is paying off so successfully."

Spring "And you think we ought to attend this?"

Bertrand "It would send a strong signal to the community," he says.

Lucent "Well, we DID sponsor it, that is only fair."

zahara "Alright. The Exploding Tavern it is."

Bertrand Berwyn: ::Spring?::

Spring ::Yes, Berwyn?::

Bertrand ::I've been looking into something,:: he says. ::And I thought you might want to hear about it.::

Spring ::You are no doubt correct. Does this require my presence? I am apparently expected to attend a play quite soon.::

Bertrand ::It's probably better if we talk about it in person,:: he thinks over. And at much the same moment:

Bertrand Piercing Ivory: ::Varanim?::

Varanim ::Eh?::

Bertrand ::Can we speak?::

Spring "Hm."

Varanim ::Sort of obviously, yes. What is it?::

Spring "Do we have much time before curtain? I need to speak with Berwyn abruptly."

Bertrand looks a little surprised. "Well, I suppose we could always attend the second performance..."

Bertrand Piercing Ivory: ::There are some things I think we need to discuss.::

Imrama raises an eyebrow at Bertrand. "Do you mean to tell me that the house manager will not hold the curtain for the Empress herself?"

Bertrand swallows. "I'll... I'll go speak to him right away," he says, and ducks rapidly out of the room.

zahara chuckles. "Well I hope we're not held up TOO long. I wouldn't want the crowd to be disappointed."

Spring "Now, now," Spring catches Bertrand's sleeve as he turns to run. "We must not presume. I will simply arrive late. I will try not to glow as I do so."

Spring ::Where shall we meet? The Agate?::

Bertrand Berwyn: ::I'm already on my way to the Cascade.::

Spring ::Ah.::

Bertrand Then, a third mind-voice, barely still human and filled with deadly malice: ::Zahara.::

Varanim ::Come on and discuss, then,:: she says to Piercing Ivory. ::It has to be more fun than going to a play with this lot.::

zahara ::Yes?::

Bertrand Ebon: ::I've found something. I'm bringing it to you.::

zahara ""...It seems that we may well have to miss the play. I also have to speak with someone."

Bertrand , a little confused about what's going on, but familiar enough with the "I am committing telepathy" face to have a slight idea, is standing and waiting for further instructions for a second before suddenly ducking out of the way as Berwyn forcefully opens the door behind him.

Spring clicks his tongue, and lets go of Bertrand, patting him on the arm. "The next performance, then."

Spring "Yes, Berwyn?"

Bertrand "...right!" he says, and ducks out the door.

Berwyn "I've been looking into this calendar situation," he says.

Spring "Oh, good. I have been meaning to speak with you about that.'

Berwyn nods. "I've put the infants on the task of working out the numbers," he says. "And they just got back to me." He pulls a piece of paper out of his robes.

Berwyn "Each of those cogs is a unit of time, in the Underworld," he says. "If you pull one out, the whole place grinds to a halt until the next piece is in place." He points to his piece of paper. "You've got an hour of Netheos time on your hands. Specifically: tomorrow at five o'clock."

Varanim Varanim's eyebrows shoot up.

Berwyn Piercing Ivory: ::Are you in the Cascade? I'll be up in just a minute.::

Varanim ::Yes.:: "Piercing Ivory is coming too."

zahara "This seems like more than a coincidence."

Berwyn "I couldn't get much more out of them," he says. "They're so difficult." Berwyn is not the very biggest fan of the hyper-intelligent babies.

Berwyn Even as he's speaking, there's a knock from outside the door.

zahara "Enter!"

PiercingIvory pushes his way into the room, looking rather more haggard than the last time Varanim had seen him. "Aheh," he says, seemingly breathing heavily -- kind of an odd thing for a dead person to do.

Varanim "You look like hell. What's up?"

Lucent steps foward and touches Piercing Ivory, making the fatigue disappear. "Easy, now."

PiercingIvory looks over at the Solars. "I think we need to talk," he says. "Can we sit down somewhere?"

Varanim takes one of her feet off the table long enough to push out a chair with it.

Lucent crosses his arms, remains standing. His expression is unreadable under the armor's helmet.

PiercingIvory sits down. "I'll be brief. Just because we're... back," he says, "doesn't mean all of the others trust you, or want to help. But I do. So I thought you should know that forces are mobilizing in Netheos."

Lucent "The Lion?"

PiercingIvory "Yes," he says, "but not only."

zahara "Not only..." she echoes.

PiercingIvory "The Bodhisattva is marshalling what's left of his forces in the Northwest," he says. "At least three other Deathlords have visibly begun reordering their forces. All at about the same time, give or take a day."

Lucent "The west. The one without defenses." He gasps. "Do you know why, Ivory?"

zahara rubs her forehead. "Marshalling their forces towards US?"

PiercingIvory Berwyn, who's still hanging out over by the wall, butts in: "If I had to guess, it's probably because someone tipped them off about happy hour."

Lucent There is, however, no discernible reaction on Lucent's helmet, just a dimming of light on the dark crevasses that should lead to his eyes, but lead only to little lights like stars. "The Lantern is not yet READY..."

Imrama stands up, drink still in hand. "We will have to notify the Western Conference." He turns to Piercing Ivory. "Which three Death Lords?"

Varanim nods to Berwyn, and then in case Piercing Ivory hasn't heard the news, says, "Setesh is missing an hour tomorrow."

PiercingIvory "The Lover Clad in the Rainment of Tears, the Tenebrous Apostle, and the Alabaster Baronet," he says. Then to Varanim's news: "That... isn't good."

Lucent looks at Varanim, "And for those of us not versed in Netheos intricacies, that means...?"

zahara looks Imrama up and down measuringly.

Varanim "Zahara, stop killing Imrama in your head. This is a mess."

zahara "I'm not killing him," she protests.

Lucent "Yes, Zahara, it WAS worth it. They would act sooner or later."

PiercingIvory Another mental interruption, this time from Crow-Devours-Flame. ::Lucent.::

zahara "In concert?"

PiercingIvory "No," Piercing Ivory says, "and not, as far as I can tell, mobilizing against you specifically. Neither of those on your borders seems to have changed anything at all about their usual operations."

zahara "Ah... more... vacating before time stops?"

Lucent There is an audible mental sigh. ::Yes, Crow?::

Imrama "If you have regrets at the possible cost of curing me, I share them, Zahara. But for the moment, what's done is done. We must determine what the game is, and change the rules again to fit our ends."

Varanim Looking over briefly at Lucent, she says, "Everyone but the special pretty people gets to stand still for an hour."

Lucent "Define 'special pretty people.'"

PiercingIvory "Or simply planning something in their own neighborhoods," he says. As he speaks, there's a sound, like something being dragged down a hallway, coming from outside the door.

PiercingIvory Crow: ::There is a problem with one of your recruits. I thought you should know.::

Varanim "Exalts and Deathlords, the usual suspects. Wouldn't surprise me if the other big-league types from out of town were also immune, but I haven't heard of it being tested."

zahara cracks her knuckles

Lucent "... so it is not the South or the West. They will attempt to take over the Underworld."

Lucent "Not Hekatonkires, then. Or Nephwracks. Or their War Machines. We can stop that."

zahara "Alright, so for an hour, those Deathlords, Abyssals and so on, will likely be warring against themselves, destroying lots of ghosts that can't do anything about it, eh?"

Lucent ::Which one?:: He asks Crow.

PiercingIvory ::Bountiful Grass,:: she says, naming a rather minor God-Exalt of no particularly notable skill or distinction. ::He is dead, and there is a mess.::

PiercingIvory "That sounds about right, Zahara."

zahara "I think we should help one of them."

Lucent ::Bontiful Grass:: But Lucent remembered when the Exalted asked to be a part of it. How Lucent himself was ambivalent to it, due to him being one of Lai's creations, but he had said... he had said he would prove Lucent wrong. That he was EXALTED and would show it... ::How... did he die?::

PiercingIvory A moment later, Ebon Blade of Vengeance rounds the corner, and shoves the door open with what appears to be most of a dead body, which he then throws on the floor unceremoniously.

zahara "Ah, Ebon. So kind of you to bring... that..." She tries to identify what's left

Lucent "Grass?" He turns around to look at the body.

PiercingIvory Crow: ::Collapsed during training. Coughed up blood, followed shortly thereafter by complete body system failure. Most of him is outside of his body now.::

Varanim takes her feet down from the table and ambles over to the body to kneel and touch its forehead (or nearest approximation thereof) lightly.

Lucent ::Close the scene, Crow. Let no one touch his remains. I will be coming there to consecrate him to the Sun, and find out why. And how.:: He orders, then adds. ::And Crow?::

PiercingIvory Conveniently (or, perhaps, irritatingly?) enough, it's someone completely different from the dead body Lucent is learning about at this very moment: Pri Abari, a young, rogueish looking fellow of perhaps his mid-twenties (at least, back when he still had a head), who had clearly had the misfortune to be repeatedly stabbed and then beheaded by Ebon not even ten minutes prior.

PiercingIvory Crow: ::Yes, Lucent?::

Varanim raises her eyebrows at Ebon.

Lucent ::We go to war. Tomorrow. Get the Lantern ready.::

PiercingIvory The virtual torrents of blood that Varanim sees gushing from Ebon's hands confirms just how thoroughly he has been doing his job.

PiercingIvory ::Of course,:: Crow says.

Varanim "Why did you kill him?" she asks Ebon, adding to Zahara, "and if you didn't tell him to depopulate a country, you might want to switch him off at some point."

zahara "Mmmm I suppose we should have a chat about who he's been killing, yes."

PiercingIvory "This one," Ebon says, kicking the body, "was emerging from the Labyrinth." His growl is thick and completely lacking in any form of irony. "Not a citizen of the Sunlands, and with the whiff of necrosis."

Varanim "Unless your specific goal is to add to the power base of the Deathlords you're thinking about fighting, yes, that might be clever."

zahara shrugs. "You people are so picky."

Lucent "They grow stronger in death, Empress. She is right." He looks towards Ebon, "You should tell him to bring suspicious elements to you alive."

zahara wrinkles her nose. "My dungeon isn't nearly large enough."

Lucent "Build another."

Varanim Ignoring that, she contemplates the body for a moment longer, thoughtfully tasting the bit of Pri residue on her fingers. After a short swig from her flask, she arranges in her mind the shapes of the body before her and the soon-stopping clock of the dead. Then with a flick of a mental finger she sets them to ringing, to see where the resonance (if any) lies.

PiercingIvory Piercing Ivory is glancing quite askance at Ebon, while Berwyn seems to have an attitude of bemused detachment about the whole rapidly growing emergency.

zahara looks askance at Lucent. "You want them to die of old age instead?"

Lucent "You can appoint the others to ascertain the problems with them. You have servants. When the Necromancer tells you what will bolster the power of the Deathlords, you listen, Empress. And each and every life is precious in this world."

zahara rolls her eyes.

Lucent perceives that. And says nothing.

PiercingIvory Berwyn leans forward for a moment. "I am starting to think that all of these negative circumstances are not purely fortuitous," he says. And Varanim's investigations seem to confirm it, for there is one grand, enormous connection that draws the two things together: the Dragon of Salt and Bone.

Varanim "Clever boy, someone should marry him. It all goes back to the Dragon of Salt and Bone," she says with a nod to Berwyn, after another short drink.

Lucent "Auna. Come, now. All of you. There is another body for you to look at, Necromancer, you explain it to us on the way." He strides out of the room, motioning for them (and ALL of them) to follow. "One of my Exalted has died in a gruesome way today. Something broke his promise."

PiercingIvory Piercing Ivory shrugs and turns to follow, and Berwyn flashes a worried grin to the group and backs out after him. Ebon, however, merely stands in place, waiting for Zahara's approval.

zahara nods to him, following Luc out

Varanim rises from the side of the body, a little creakily. "You know," she says to Piercing Ivory, "it's possible that one of the things all those Deathlords are planning to clean up is you lot."

PiercingIvory "I am quite aware," he says. "I can't imagine they're happy having competition in the dead-and-shady department."

Lucent "That was Auna's disease? The same that claimed your arm?"

Varanim nods. "Those were the days, eh?" she nudges Piercing Ivory with an elbow. "Good times."

Lucent lads all of them - hopefully with Berwyn and Ebon as well - to the site of Bountiful's death.

Lucent ''' leads

PiercingIvory It's not too far a walk to the area outside the Cascade, where Crow has cordoned off a thirty-yard square surrounding the grotesquely perished corpse with ribbons of blackest un-light. The others amongst Lucent's forces stand nervously some distance beyond, still unsure of quite what is happening.

Lucent "He was a great warrior." Prove it. Lucent had asked of the God-Exalt. He had.

Lucent "He did not deserve this death. No Chosen does."

PiercingIvory And as they come on the scene, one more voice cuts through the ring network to speak to one of those present:

Varanim Uninvited, she crouches by the body to check his death as well.

PiercingIvory Isabel: ::Imrama, protocol dictates that I report something to you.::

Imrama ::Then by all means make report, madam.::

zahara "Not one of my descendents, I hope."

Lucent "... you had children, Empress?"

Lucent "But no. At least, I saw no resemblance."

zahara "No, I misspoke. Relatives of my great great something something cousin's line"

PiercingIvory Isabel: ::I am still not as familiar with your world as I would like, but... I am guessing that it is not a common occurrence for waves of black, necrotic Essence to rise up from the desert sands and join up into ominous clouds above?::

PiercingIvory The results of the death Zahara sees before her are not at all like those she saw in her relatives (except the rather obvious manner in which both are clearly unceremoniously dead.) There is no burned brand or stench of ancient death-curse upon this perished Exalt.

zahara "Hmmm no, doesn't look like it. Not pleasant, anyway."

PiercingIvory Varanim's look-over establishes that Crow's story is quite accurate: the man simply began to cough up blood and then collapsed in a state of total organ failure, clearly of some kind of disease.

Varanim "He's dead," she announces after a moment.

Varanim "The rest is leftover fun for the doctor types."

Lucent Lucent's presence comes from him, the Coronal spreading from him to make light. There are no little playful incarna, and no beauty - they are as swords of light making it brighter for him to examine the remains in the deepest medical detail. What kind of disease is that, and how could it be transmitted? "Where would we be without your wit."

PiercingIvory What Lucent sees is quite horrifying: the disease seems to have afflicted him because he was a God-Exalt, tearing at the underlying structures bending his souls together and unravelling them until they violently sprung apart, destroying his body in the process.

PiercingIvory It seems to have lain dormant for some time, and it does not seem to be directly communicable, but the condition is clearly dangerous enough to be concerned about nonetheless.

Imrama ::You are correct, Isabel. That is not a common occurence. I am glad to see that you are growing more confident in your assessments of Meru's norms. I am less pleased by the news you are rang to report, however.::

PiercingIvory Isabel: ::Indeed. I will notify you again if the matter changes for the worse.::

Imrama ::Excercise caution; I have reason to suspect there may be a connection between what you have observed and a larger conflict brewing in the Underworld. I will be in touch when I know more.::

Imrama , who has been quiet for some time now, speaks up suddenly. "Something very bad is happening in the South."

zahara "What kind of bad?"

Lucent "I thought you an abomination." Lucent walks closer, touching the body's forehead, on one knee amidst the blood. "You were Exalted. You and your brethren. You came on an attempt to break Heaven much like our own... I should have seen that. I hope your soul smiles knowing your death had, at least, this much purpose, Bountiful Grass. Know I respect you like the Exalt you were. And that I thank your god, for giving Creation this champion."

PiercingIvory bends down to look at the corpse himself. "Man, this? This is also very bad." He gestures to the body. "There have been a couple unusual deaths like this before," he says. "We haven't had time to look into every strange death that happens out in the boondocks, but I'm guessing that this too, is a pattern."

zahara "Mmm. So fickle."

Varanim looks over at Lucent's last rites, then stands to move away with a passing look of annoyance. To Imrama she says, "Besides the local lion feeling persnickety, you mean?"

Lucent makes the symbol of Yu-Shan on his forehead, sending this soul to Lethe. Lucent rises amidst the flames, the soul of the champion Bontiful Grass ascending in the glory of a hero behind him. "Most, if not all, of the God-Exalts on Creation are infected with a disease meant to unravel their lower and higher souls and destroy everything they '''are*. Our enemies wish them out of this game, and for this reason among many others, they must remain."

Varanim "Starting when?" she adds to Piercing Ivory, eyes narrowing.

Imrama "Isabel, the Deliberator for the Atomnosi of Meru, reports that 'waves of black, necrotic Essence are rising up from the desert sands to join up into ominous clouds above'. That kind of bad."

Lucent "We have twenty-four hours to find a cure for this disease." The light from the pyre gives Varanim and Zahara the Essence-Prints of its existence on the Essence of the dead Exalt. "I accept suggestions in coming up with a cure."

zahara "Hmm if only we'd thought of this Essential disease during the War of the Red Lily."

Lucent "... the Desert." ::Ember. Ember, can you hear me?::

PiercingIvory "One in Port Calin, a couple months ago... and one this week."

PiercingIvory Ember: ::Lucent Copper Haze.::

Lucent ::We are receiving reports of necrotic... CLOUDS over the southern desert today. Have you encountered this phenomenon?::

Varanim For a moment Varanim's eyes are like two holes, windows on a profound and echoing weariness, then she smirks at Piercing Ivory. "I always knew necromancy was a growth industry. Did you just come to deliver the warning, or to get help?"

PiercingIvory wipes his brow, another strange gesture for someone who presumably no longer sweats. "I'm here to tell you anything I can, and to help you see this through to the end," he says. "Because if you guys can't fix this up, I'm not sure anyone will."

PiercingIvory Ember: ::There is a gathering storm, to the west, that does not seem natural,:: his thought-words fly through the air to Lucent's mind. ::I have dispatched scouts to take a closer look.::

Lucent ::Keep a close eye on them. If it seems necrotic, go alone, and message me again.::

PiercingIvory Ember: ::Understood.::

Lucent ::Thank you for doing this favor, Ember. All of it.::

PiercingIvory Ember: ::Of course.:: There's a slightly... pleasant tone to Ember's thought voice, almost as if this sort of situation reminds him of his odd mirror-kindred-spirits relationship with Lucent.

Lucent "Look into the southern situation. Find a cure and save the God-Exalted. Stop the Deathlords' plan and save Netheos and the Shadeborn." He enumerates, five different spreads of the Circle appearing in the air about them. "We have twenty-four hours for that. Anything else?"

< The Root of Beginnings | Sol Invictus Logs | Eos-Se-Ala >

Page last modified on May 06, 2009, at 06:49 PM