Summary:A visit to Lachu Atapis reveals some interesting details regarding Raksi and Akuna.

XP:I4, P4, S4, V4, Z4


< Truth or Dare | Sol Invictus Logs | Uncomfortable Truths >

The Fable of the Reconstruction soars over the jungle treetops on the way to Lachu Atapis, the ancient city in which the greatest gathering of Lunar elders dwell, and the seat of the Silver Pact.

At the edges of the ship, the Solars look down upon the green vastness below, and at the center of the deck, carefully lashed to a convenient surface, sits a small object: a cubical soulsteel cage, about two feet across, within which a tiny grey mouse, its miniscule limbs ringed by little soulsteel bands, runs furiously on a soulsteel wheel that emits a horrid squeal with each furious revolution.

Zahara "Do you think it's powering something, or just bored?" She peers curiously down at the mouse

Spring "The design of the cage is such that, after each hundred revolutions, she gets a treat."

Imrama "Given the provenance of the contraption, I assume that the treat is...something icky?"

Spring "It is cheese."

Spring "But it may well be an especially disgusting type of cheese. I did not look too closely."

Zahara "Was that your idea?"

Spring "It was Innocence's."

Zahara "I TOLD you she wasn't that innocent."

Spring "I remember."

Spring "Shall we make our delivery?"

Zahara "Indeed."

Imrama As if on cue, the beautifully worn peaks of Lachu Atapis begin to come into view on the horizon.

The ship banks over towards the largest of the mountains, then slips into an almost-unseen gap in the treeline to proceed towards the city: a crude stonework metropolis sitting nestled within a vast crack in the mountain, hidden from all outside sight by the wonders of the jungle.

At the moment, a family of boar and several ibises have taken up temporary residence in the frontmost courtyard of the city, and cast an askance look at the Solars as their great vessel descends.

Zahara waves a little

Imrama "Hail and ahoy good fellows and friends! A fragment of the Circle of the Sunlands comes to call upon the lords of your beknighted city. Could you tell us where they might be found?"

The largest boar looks up at Imrama skeptically, and then oinks loudly.

Imrama ::Anybody hear speak pig?::

Zahara ::Not in this lifetime.::

Spring does, actually.

As a result, Spring now has access to a quite helpful and intricate -- if provided in a somewhat skeptical tone -- set of directions to the group's intended destination.

Spring "He says to take the right turn at the third fork, then go towards the tall building on the left. He also believes that we are crazy."

Zahara "He's probably right."

Phoenix` "Nice of him to be concerned."

Phoenix` bows deferentially to the pig.

Imrama salutes the porcine citizen as well, and then: they are off!

The path winds through the vine-covered city, finally arriving at (just as described) a relatively tall building, with a large stone door whose elegant design of twenty-seven interlocking circles is an interesting contrast to the roughness of the rest of Lachu Atapis.

The double doors are closed, but clearly unlocked.

Imrama knocks.

At the knock, the door yawns open, revealing a nicely appointed (for a stone-carved building, anyway) chamber with what seem to be open-air shafts leading upwards at either edge. Near the center is what looks like a desk, but at the moment there's nobody sitting at it -- just a tortoiseshell cat stretched out luxuriously atop it, snoozing.

Phoenix` ::Cat or Lunar?::

Zahara checks it out with Essence sight

Phoenix` makes sure to mentally pronounce this in a well-known Riverspeak dialect in which 'cat' and 'moon' rhyme.

It is indeed a Lunar.

Zahara clears her throat pointedly, in an attempt to wake the feline up

Zahara ::Lunar.::

The cat stretches out her paw for a moment in the practiced gesture of "can't you tell that I'm sleeping?"

Spring places the cage containing the mouse on the edge of the desk with a distinct clacking noise, keeping one hand on it.

The louder sound seems to wake it with a start, and it leaps to its feet, blinking.

Phoenix` glances at the mouse cage. ::Does that thing do anything other than dispense treats?::

Phoenix` "Hello sir. Or madam. does it work with shapechangers anyway? Excuse me, I'm babbling. We're here to see the lords of the city."

Spring "Our Lunar seems to have developed a defect. We were wondering if we might be able to make a trade-in."

Zahara ::It keeps Serenal in. That's a feature. ::

Zahara ::Really, Spring? A Defective pet you want to trade in? Sigh::

The cat licks her front paw three times, one eye closed, before responding. Up to the top, she says, in cat. Someone will talk to you there.

Spring ::What would you suggest?::

Spring "She would like us to go to the top."

Zahara ::Treating her like a person, at least to her people::

Spring ::I had heard that they did not appreciate being treated like people.::

Phoenix` "Thank you. If you would like a snack there seem to be some nice fat ibis near the city gate."

Zahara ::They like being treated as disposable pets even less.::

The shafts at the side of the room stretch twelve stories up; there are (extremely) slight indentations in the wall by which one might climb, but no other fashion of pre-assisted ascent visibile.

Imrama ::Note Empress; Serenal has been bested and trapped in a cage. I believe by their law, her life ought to be forfeit to Spring. A prisoner exchange seems, if anything, overly generous, given the circumstances.::

Imrama walks up the side of the wall. "Spring: would you like a piggy-back ride?"

Zahara ::Of course, I merely object to the complete lack of political tact in the way he approached the exchange.::

Spring "I would appreciate that, Imrama."

Zahara walks up

Imrama turns his back and pats his shoulders. "All aboard that's coming aboard, then."

Phoenix` examines the wall, attempts to scale it manually, and shortly decides to fly.

Spring firmly places himself on Imrama's back.

Imrama gives Spring an excellent vertical piggy-back ride

At the very top, Zahara finds a smooth, sun-dappled floor, dyed in many brilliant colors in elaborate and abstract patterns, and lounging upon it, a lithe and delicately spotted snow leopard. Even before any of the Solars set foot on the surface, he opens one strikingly blue eye to look at Zahara.

"Zahara Zhan, Dreambreaker, Empress of the Sunlands, Lady of Light, Serpent-Cleaver, Waker of Worlds," he says, in plain (but heavily reverberant) human speech, though he retains his form.

Spring gestures to Zahara eloquently, inviting her to take the lead.

Zahara inclines her head moderately deeply in acknowledgement. "I am. You have me at a disadvantage, however, as I do not know you through your forms."

Imrama ::Psst. He's called Milarepa, if that helps.::

Zahara ::Thank you!::

The leopard nods. "We have not met before," he says. "This is the first I have set foot in Lachu Atapis in many years. But I have seen and heard much of your great acts."

Zahara "I did not act alone, of course. These are my esteemed compatriots; Imrama Stormfound, Long-Awaited Spring, and Phoenix of Ashes."

Imrama "A comprehensive list of our various and sundry titles and sobriquets are available upon request." Imrama adds, helpfully.

Zahara idly wonders where this 'Lady of Light title came from

The leopard nods. "I am known now as Milarepa," he says, looking over each of the four in turn. "Welcome here on this day."

Zahara "I thank you kindly. Did anyone send word ahead as to our visit?"

Zahara glances backward over the edge of the cliff, "Ah, Varanim the Last is joining us as well. She must have finished her business on the ship early." ::If being hungover can be called business, that is...::

"Your approach sent word enough, and I have waited here for your arrival," he says. He taps one paw on the ground and the floor itself shifts and alters its shape, five workable chairs stretching out of it and offering a place for the visitors. "Please, speak to me of what matter brings you here."

Zahara gestures for Spring to come forward with the cage, as she seats herself.

Spring does so,

Phoenix` "Thank you." Phoenix sinks gratefully into a seat.

Zahara "It seems that our former companion, Serenal, has chosen misfortune. It is with regret that we bring her here."

Imrama sits, and from his jacket produces a set of silver saucers and a chilled bottle of brandied creme. He raises it first in offer to their host.

Milareba taps the ground again and an outsized goblet grows from the floor, awaiting the introduction of beverage within. He then looks carefully at the contents of the cage. "Hmmm."

Spring "We were wondering if you knew a way to help her...see the light."

Varanim There is a gust of wind from the shaft which smells almost but not entirely just like the charnel reek from the great fire after the Third Battle of Steepslope. A moment later Varanim steps off the back of an indistinct flutter of great wings that stops just level with the floor. She grunts in greeting and finds someplace inconspicuous to slouch.

Milareba looks for a long moment at the cage, and then with one outstretched paw, gently pushes it backwards, until it sits behind him. "We shall... take care of our own, as we are wont to do," he says.

Spring "Are you?"

Zahara "We will need a new ambassador, in that case."

Imrama pours for Milareba and then for his companions in turn.

Zahara "Thank you, Imrama."

Spring consumes his liquor as he consumes so many other things -- rapidly and relatively inappropriately.

Spring "We have run across more than one Lunar in our travels who required taking care of. To whom should we submit their names?"

Milareba The leopard laps up a great quantity of his brandy and swallows. "No, your friendship with Lachu Atapis shall not be forgotten, of course, Sun-Empress," he says. "And to any amongst our number, Tree-Victor," he says to Spring's comment. "The Silver Pact speaks often amongst itself."

Phoenix` bites back ::the undertaker:: just in time.

Spring "Have you heard the name of Akuna Ravdash before?"

Milareba nods. "I have."

Spring "And yet he still walks among us."

Imrama ::Tread carefully my friend. He is a member of the Deliberative now. We must only call him what he is among those we know we can trust.::

Imrama interjects. "I believe that my friend Spring is alluding to the fact that many of Akuna's previous actions have been at odds with the values of the Silver Pact, such as we understand them. We would like to know how you and yours view him now."

Milareba "The reach of Silver does not hold all those who accept the moon's kiss, only those who swear the Pact," he says. "Akuna has... never seen eye to eye with Lachu Atapis."

Spring "What do you know of him?"

Zahara keeps her face carefully blank, not quite focusing on Milareba

Milareba "He took his Second Breath in what was once Linowan. He was a great warchief; he slew thousands. He was... one of two who fought with Luna's grace in that great war, who never cleaved to the body of the Pact."

Zahara "Who was the other?"

Milareba "A woman, a Haltan champion, by the name of Onyx Wing, a fierce warrior herself."

Zahara "What code did they follow?"

Milareba "Only that of war unending, of the certain destruction of their foe."

Spring "I know that code. I cannot say I approve of it."

Milareba shakes his head. "Nor I. We have both see what it wrought in Arcadia."

Zahara cracks her knuckles. "Do you know if this Onyx Wing has lived or been reborn into this age?"

Milareba "Reborn," he says, getting a briefly distant look. "Yes."

Zahara "As whom?"

Milareba "One called Rebe, who dwells even now to the north of Arcadia."

Zahara "Hmmm. What do you know of Rebe?"

Milareba "Little. Where she dwells. How long since she spoke to any other amongst the Moon's kin."

Zahara "Hmm perhaps we will pay her a visit."

Spring "Did they know each other, in their first lives?"

Phoenix` "How long?"

Milareba "When we know each other once, our souls are drawn back together," he says. "Their first, and second, and third lives. It repeats, even as we do not remember it." He shakes his head.

Zahara nods thoughtfully

Milareba "But whatever Akuna sets himself to now, it began in his war with Onyx Wing."

Varanim Varanim, who isn't much worried about the disposition of Serenal or Akuna or Onyx Wing, does what various business has kept her from before, and turns both her Essence sight and the eyes of the dead on the captured Lunar.

Milareba Varanim's eyes look at the tiny markings on the mouse's surface, the miniscule black lines that cover her skin, and she sees how each one seems to have been carefully, intricately filled in with soulsteel, much like the infintesimal symbol for "human" emblazoned across the mouse's chest was filled with gold.

Milareba Altogether the dark metal gives them a second, far darker purpose beyond their original magics.

Imrama ::Spring - would it be alright if I took the conversation in a new direction, or do you still have questions about Akuna that you think Milareba may answer?::

Varanim With a little 'hmph' for the predictability of it all, Varanim scowls in sudden thought. Her caste mark gleams faintly golden-red as she views the many symbols on Serenal's body not as a simple Essence framework but as a text--one which, like all writings, whispers of its author to those who have ears to hear.

Imrama "Thank you for your forthrightness and candor, Milareba. I wonder if you would also be willing to talk with us of some of the other Lunar elders abroad in the world outside the Silver Pact. The Deliberative, as you may know, is trying to determine who should be invited into membership, and who, if anyone, must be counted amongst our enemies. One name near the top of the list that I would...

Imrama ...expect you to know something about is your neighbor to the south, the Queen of Fangs."

Milareba Even as Imrama continues his normal conversation with Milareba, Varanim stares into the abyss.

Milareba Written in the whorls and turns of the tattoos are the ultimate purposes of the Dragon of Salt and Bone:

Milareba to crush all existence beneath her spiralling curls, to dominate the forces that once opposed her -- to break open the gates of life and grind all existence to dust with this tiny mouse as her unhalting harbinger of destruction.

Milareba "Raksi," he says.

Milareba "She is... not one who we look to with fondness."

Spring "We feel similarly."

Phoenix` "How diplomatically phrased of you."

Milareba "Raksi was once a member of the Pact," he says, "but she does not... respect our ways."

Phoenix` looks up from her drink with a look of mild interest.

Imrama "There was a falling out then?"

Varanim takes out her small travel flask, takes a discreet drink, wipes her mouth, and puts it away. Then she says to the group, ::By the way, the rodent's tattoos were personally rewritten by your salt and bone friend. And here I'd pegged it as underling-level work.::

Zahara ::Hmmm that is somewhat distressing.::

Milareba "A... falling-out, yes." He nods. "A war, perhaps, to be more honest."

Varanim ::There's a lot of background motives about revenge and grinding existence to dust beneath her booted coils, but I figured that was pretty standard stuff.::

Imrama "From the reports of Raksi I have heard, that is quite understandable. Yet both Mahalanka and Lachu Atapis endure. How did you reach detente?"

Zahara ::Quite standard, yes, and given what we've done to them I suppose it's rather understandable.::

Varanim ::What's the actual trade you're doing here? She might be fixable.:: Varanim sounds more interested by the minute.

Milareba "I spoke earlier of the futility of war without end, Sky-Render," he says, looking in Imrama's direction. "We could not sacrifice our future simply to conclude our vendetta against her for her betrayal."

Varanim "Hold on. Sorry," Varanim says, actually remembering to perfunctorily apologize for interrupting before addressing Milareba, "do you know how to fix this?" She points to the mouse of wrath.

Milareba "We shall... do what is needed to resolve it, one way or another, Death-Waker," he says.

Spring ::I am a little disappointed in the name "Tree-Victor".::

Imrama ::Why? It has two of your favorite things in it: winning, and trees.::

Varanim "Who are your people in charge of taking care of it the first way?"

Imrama "I know the tales of course: the slave-taking, the flesh-eating, the hoarding of knowledge sorely needed in this age. But can you be specific about Raksi's crimes? This may be a matter to bring before the whole Deliberative."

Milareba "One called in this tongue 'Ligard,'" he says. "You might speak with him, if you would." Then he turns to Imrama, and his crystal-blue eyes grow dark.

Spring ::Yes, but there are many things at which it is not difficult to defeat a tree.::

Imrama ::But among the arenas in which trees excel is this: they endure. And is that not also your proudest accomplishment?::

Milareba "Once, there was a moment at which the Silver Pact could strike, as one, for the betterment of Creation. Yija, a great hero, had readied to lead us, as we had done twice before, to perish in pursuit of the noble ideal. But Raksi saw that we might benefit, should we let a horror befall the world, and simply sweep in as victors in its wake."

Varanim ::Did he just say your best point is that we can't get rid of you?::

Milareba "She misled our heroes, and directed Yija away from them; she ambushed him, and stripped him of his weapons -- then she devoured him alive, piece by piece, to gain his knowledge and power. A great horror went unanswered, and a great deal was lost to the world."

Imrama ::No. It is that no one can. When Spring was still Thirteen, he faced the inevitability of his own destruction and found a way to circumvent it by becoming something else.::

Imrama "A betrayal most foul. What was this horror of which you speak?"

Spring ::I appreciate your interpretation, Imrama.::

Milareba "The plague which slew nigh upon all those who dwelt upon Creation's face," he says.

Imrama pales a bit. "And did Yija propose to prevent this greatest loss of life in all of recorded history?"

Milareba shakes his head in what is perhaps his first display of humanesque emotion: exasperation. "He did not tell us."

Zahara shakes her head slowly

Imrama blinks.

Imrama ::We are instituting a strict, detailed record keeping policy, starting now.::

Spring ::We have one of those.::

Imrama ::Oh. Right.::

Spring ::Good idea, though.::

Imrama "That is...unfortunate. But what you have reported Raksi to have done amounts to a capital offense. It is not only possible that the Deliberative take action against her, it is necessary."

Milareba "Perhaps all the Deliberative might do what the Pact could not: end that conflict once and for all, then."

Zahara "Nothing is ever truly ended, for the Celestials, is it."

Milareba "Perhaps she can learn obedience and humility in another life."

Spring "That strategy has not historically been very effective."

Zahara "It may be possible, however, with the right caretakers."

Spring "Still, we will certainly do what we can to ensure she does not allow everyone in Creation to be killed again."

Milareba nods.

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Page last modified on November 29, 2009, at 02:44 AM