Summary:The Solars meet with Injara, and learn of the genocidal source of the Ija's rage.

XP:I1, L1, V1, Z1


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zahara "Well this ought to be amusing," Zahara says drily. "Nothing like spreading good cheer to warm the soul."

Imrama "If we are to be bearers of ill-tidings, we may at least present them with warmth and kindness." Imrama reaches out a hand...

Imrama The Palace of the Exalted Deliberative. The wing of Meritorious Conduct. The uppermost floor. The fifth office on the third hall, only recently allotted to the Shadeborn Injara. There comes a knock at the door.

The voice from within is clear and sharp. "Enter, please."

Imrama opens the door by bending at the waist, incorporating it into a low bow. "Greetings, Injara. I am glad that we found you in your office."

Lucent steps in after Imrama, as silent as he was before, clad in full armor

zahara shrugs in response to Imrama's inevitable good humored wisdom, and enters.

Injara, her tall and thin frame now clad in intricate blue-green robes of infinitely complex weaving that flow around her limbs like abstract vegetation, sits spectrally at her desk. She looks up at the odd assortment of Solars who greet her with a slightly raised eyebrow,

but for someone who sat in the First Deliberative the oddity is really little more than a passing curiosity. "Greetings. What brings you here to speak with me today?"

Lucent gives Injara a familiar, but brief gesture from closer, happier days. "The end of the world."

Imrama half-nods, half-shakes his head at Lucent. "We have bad news, the sort that is best delivered expediently, but in-person. The First and Forsaken Lion is about to do...something. Something dangerous. It involves freezing time in Netheos. Tomorrow."

"As always," she says, and sighs. Turning to Imrama, she listens to his comments with a considered expression, before closing her eyes as he finishes. "So he has chosen to disrupt the Calendar," she says.

zahara "So it would seem, yes."

Imrama "As this no doubt poses a danger to your portfolio as a member of the Deliberative, it is our duty to inform you. Our Circle is hard at work on plans to counteract the Lion. If you would like to coordinate efforts, or if you anticipate needing any specific assistance, please let us know."

Injara nods slowly, then looks over those who are present carefully for a moment before gesturing broadly. "Please, sit down."

zahara glances around and picks the prettiest chair to sit on that is not already occupied.

Imrama lounges comfortably on the air, and puts his feet up.

Lucent crosses his arms, leans against the wall

Varanim slouches against the wall on the opposite side of the wall from Lucent, in some sort of bizarre display of his and hers doom-tainted loitering.

Varanim ((**opposite side of the DOOR))

"I have recognized since my Third Breath that your circle shared vital interests with my own kin, something that the particulars of your... shared history makes difficult for some of them to accept."

zahara snorts helpfully.

"As such, and in recognition of what I feel has been a very cordial relationship to date" -- she nods to Zahara approvingly -- "I have been intending to improve our ability to share intelligence and work together in opposition to the threats facing Netheos and Meru alike. But it seems the Lion has prodded me to begin more quickly."

Imrama "This would seem a wise course. Did you have anything specific in mind?" Imrama leans back and lights his pipe.

Injara waves a hand over her desk, causing the papers and other assorted objects on it to briefly shimmer and then disappear. Then she leans forward across it dramatically.

"The Deathlords have been a constant source of difficulty in Netheos for nearly as long as I have been dead, but the increasing presence of something else has been an increasing destabilizing factor: the presence of the Ija specters."

Imrama takes the pipe from his mouth and glances back over his shoulder at Varanim. "A source of difficulty with which we are also tragically familiar."

Varanim "What tragedy?" Varanim blinks at Imrama, then waves her hand impatiently for Injara to go on.

"Those of my fellows tasked with such matters have observed a great deal of activity, very little of it with a discernable end," she says. "Secretive spying. Possession of minor figures of local significance. Seemingly arbitrary efforts to alter aspects of local geography or culture. All being driven and perpetrated by the spectres of an extinct race."

Varanim "Hmm," says Varanim with her thinking frown. She cups her hand, blows into it to kindle a scattering of motes, and then clenches her soulsteel fist around them. Opening her now empty hand--on the other side of the Shroud, shadows of snuffed motes flicker into being--she crouches and casts them like dice at a cheap street game.

Varanim Reading the odds therein, she considers: what bond, if any, connects the Ija and the Lion?

The picture that Varanim is presented with is quite clear: in her mind's eye, she sees the image of Auna, the great white dragon, her skin pallid, her eyes rheumy, her belly distended like a sickly cave fish; sees the bloody tears that run in rivers miles across from her eyesockets and drip into the empty depths below...

In the darkness beneath her, hundreds -- thousands -- of spectres mill and flow, their watery bodies and trefoil marks all too familiar to Varanim, and at their head, one, wearing white ceremonial robes and a grand and elaborate hat, clutching in its phantasmagorical hands a vicious-looking black sword.

At one end, the crowd parts, and a man -- a human man -- walks through, the crowd parting as he goes: black hair tied back tightly behind him, a dark moustache, a grim expression... a cape cinched at the neck with an iron brooch in the shape of a lion's head.

He walks through the parting spectre waters, walks forward to the white-cloaked Ija, in the shadow of Auna's vast, rotting coils. He kneels down, as if in supplication, and the Ija begins to chant in a strange and incomprehensible language -- before suddenly, and without warning, plunging the sword into his chest.

But the man does not die: there is a flash of brilliant golden light, light that rapidly fades to pure, radiant darkness -- and the expression of humanity draining from his face, he stands up, draws the sword out of his own chest, and grins malevolently, before Varanim's vision suddenly clears again and she finds herself back in Injara's office.

Varanim "Huh," she says after a moment. "It's not clear the Ija are really increasing at all; he and she and they have been thick since the beginning. One of them officiated his... wait, does it count as a third breath for Abyssals, or is that only two and a half because we don't like them?"

Injara leans back, lost in thought for a moment. "That... ah."

Imrama raises an eyebrow and puffs out a bit of jangly musical smoke. "Yes?"

Injara "It would only make sense that the Ija would have sought revenge and become entwined in the plot that broke the Perfect Circle."

Imrama "Are you alluding to some motive deeper than their eternal undeath and the murder of their patron?"

zahara "Let's go with two and a half. Just to distinguish."

Injara blinks. "Yes: their genocide at the hands of the Solar Deliberative." She looks at Imrama curiously. "I thought you would have known."

Imrama "Our ancestors did not leave us with the detailed and meticulous records that we might all wish for."

Imrama "With the possible exception of Wei Dan."

Injara "It was near the end of the war," she says. "Our histories did not speak honestly of it; they speak of the broader event in which it took place in vague terms, shrouding the truth of the murder of an entire species under the obfuscating cover of the Darkest Night."

Imrama bends over and presses his palm to his forehead. "Injara, your wisdom and knowledge is a merciful bounty. Please humor me, and pretend that we are ignorant louts who don't know anything about First Age history, and then tell us about the Darkest Night."

Varanim ::I'm not sure that killing her with your mind works on Shadeborn, just so you know.::

Imrama ::I wouldn't think of killing Injara with my mind or otherwise. She appears to be the rarest sort of creature in all Creation: a person with useful information who is actually willing to answer plain questions about it.::

Injara folds her fingers together. "The War had dragged on for thousands of years, and both sides were scarred much deeper than anyone might have expected. By then, our victory seemed likely, but the cost we would pay to achieve it seemed greater than it ever had."

Varanim ::That's optimistic of you, seeing as she hasn't finished answering yet.::

zahara toys idly with a fork she has acquired from somewhere.

Injara "Twenty of the Primordials had fallen to Talmuda's weapon, and all that the Exalted saw and heard said that the others were uncertain, torn, beaten down and afraid. If it were only the Creators against whom the Exalted warred, it would have been easy."

Injara "But there were still one hundred empires, one hundred powerful and alien nations -- and few considered themselves the friends of humanity."

Injara "It's still unclear exactly what brought the cover of darkness to Creation, but it was the Ija who were involved with it. All of Creation fell under the Shadow, and the Solars' patron could do nothing to break it."

Injara "It enraged the Solars -- it seemed an effort to prove that the Hundredfold would not be bowed, not surrender, would spite all of Creation to ensure that they did not lose the great war to their inferiors."

zahara scowls a bit. "Everybody breaks, eventually."

Injara "So there were some who plotted in secret to end the matter... permanently." She shakes her head.

Varanim "So it was really dark, there was some suspicious bumping around and lots of 'ssh' noises, and when it got bright again, no more Ija?"

Lucent "Maybe it was Five Days Darkness?" Lucent pulls the skull of the creature from his armor, and gazes upon it for a moment "No. Probably not."

Injara "Their home in the East was scourged from the map, destroyed more utterly than any previous casualty of the war. Afterwards, the sun gazed down again, and the other Hundredfold saw just how far humanity would go in order to emerge victorious."

Lucent "We do what we have to for Creation to see another dawn."

Varanim snorts audibly.

zahara "I'm sure it would have been quite the utopia in eternal darkness."

Injara "So it does not surprise me to hear that the vengeful ghosts of the damned might have conspired to aid in the destruction of that which had been their own undoing," she says, quietly.

zahara frowns thoughtfully. "I cannot blame them, I suppose."

Imrama "Perhaps, but we can hold them accountable for their actions."

Lucent "And kill them all."

Lucent "Again."

Varanim "Boy, I'm sure they'll be happy to hear about that novel solution in Nethos," Varanim beams at Lucent.

Lucent "I thought you were used to throwing things into the Void. What's one more?"

zahara raises a brow

Imrama ::Dear friends, lets please play nice in the presence of company.::

Varanim flips a little salute to Lucent, acknowledging the point scored, then answers anyway. "Nothing at all, assuming you like the end of all things and want to see it sooner. If you like Creation, perhaps because you keep all your stuff here, then every one counts."

Imrama "So the Ija are almost certainly connected to the current slow darkening of the sun. That is surprisingly welcome news, given that we have gone so long without any leads on the source of the shadow.

Lucent ::We save Creation today. Tomorrow, there will be another.::

Injara nods.

Varanim "No," she snaps aloud to Lucent. "Save your chintzy nihilism for talking to Abyssals."

Lucent "Not nihilism. Decisive."

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Page last modified on July 06, 2009, at 10:22 PM