Summary:Imrama and Spring journey underwater to speak with the Lunar emperor Leviathan.

XP:I1, S1


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Imrama Far, far to the West, beyond the last fragments of the Blessed Isle, across the Bountiful Depths and into the Golden Sea, the Fable of the Reconstruction sails. Having left Wavecrest a shrinking point behind it, the great sunship dives towards the roiling waters of the sea, and plunges in. Down, down, down into the depths it sinks, its golden hull sealed against the pressure.

Imrama The light of the Fable shines brightly even below the waves, illuminating depths that have been dark since before the Contagion. Through a translucent pane, Imrama and his friend Spring gaze out at the ocean floor below them, searching for evidence of their hoped for quarry: the ancient Admiral Leviathan.

Spring "Beautiful."

Injara The ship continues to float downwards, following the sloping sea floor downwards as it grows deeper and deeper, watching as the sunlight far above fades out into watery blackness as the seawater grows thick above.

Injara The ship floats through the quiet, watery deep, its faint golden light soon the only illumination, and for a long time the soil below is featureless and blank. Only after a long, uneventful trip does the two Solars' quarry finally peek up over a ridge: the broken spiralling towers of the lost city of Raevala.

Imrama focuses for an instant and the light shed by the prow of the ship intensifies and narrows, creating a searchlight to better inspect the ruins with. He guides the ship in further, looking for any sign of habitation.

Injara In between the towers of a city that once stood proudly above the waves, blind serpents flee from the light of Imrama's searchlamp, and strange deep-ocean plants float unnaturally where they're anchored to cracked ancient sidewalks.

Injara Most of the buildings are surprisingly intact, but in a few places, large holes break through their polished pearl exteriors -- large enough for even the hugest sea animal to slip through.

Imrama begins following through whichever of the holes are large enough for the Fable, hoping to pick up a trial.

Injara The ship slips through the holes, the light shining on long-abandoned tables and works of art, now playing host to bizarre crustaceans. It begins to move down through a hollowed-out stairwell, towards a barnacle-covered ground, when the ship suddenly comes to a complete stop.

Imrama "Crewmen: damage assessment. Has there been a collision? Why have we stopped?"

Injara A member of the long-unseen Jiatli species, made of pure golden light, walks over to respond. "Sir, the ship appears to be held in place by something large."

Imrama smiles, and his entire ship becomes translucent. He turns to examine the vicinity.

Injara Six vast, spiny tentacles are holding the ship firmly in place.

Spring "Something went wrong."

Imrama "Nonsense. We have encountered one of the city's denizens. Everything is going according to plan. Can you ask our new friend where we might find Leviathan?"

Spring "Certainly."

Spring walks to the edge of the boat and makes a few gulping, bubbly noises, waving his arms.

Injara The kraken speaks back in the elaborately circuitous language of molluskind. "Around through the sixth path out of seven paths that follow off in different directions, to the top of the tower that rises tall above three other towers, the one who reigns over us from above and below can be found."

Imrama bows to the great tentacle-lord, in gratitude.

Injara The kraken releases its tentacle grip on the hull.

Imrama brings the ship about and follows the directions to Leviathan. Through the light-wall of the hull he waves goodbye to Olokolokolo.

Injara The trip leads the ship around and through several parts of the sunken city, finally leading up to a roof, a vast, whale-sized hole in its center covered by a thick net of undersea vines.

Imrama "Hmmmm. How to most tactfully approach the undersea lair of a millennia-old hermit?"

Spring "I must leave such questions of diplomacy to you."

Imrama guides the Fable forward slowly and carefully, nosing it through the net, parting the vines as delicately as is possible for a massive craft of super-dense sunlight.

Injara The room inside, unlike the rest of the city, is completely free of water, held back by an Essence field, and elegantly (if sparsely) furnished. At a large mahogany table, carved in a broad egg shape with decorations of dolphins and sea yeddims carved on its edges sits a single chair, and in that chair sits an imposing figure:

Injara a tall man, completely bald, with greyish skin, with elegantly svelte snakes tattooed from his scalp downards onto his broad shoulders; sea dragons snapping on each of his large, folded arms; and a vast, intricately rendered whale rising up across his chest, with razor-thin silver lines connecting all of them together into a single vast design.

Imrama opens a door in the ship's flat bottom, leans down and calls to the man. "Great Admiral, we come as friends in the spirit of peace."

Injara The man sits silently for a long moment, before speaking, carefully and slowly. "What.... brings you?"

Imrama descends slowly with grace, resting his feet eventually on the floor and maintaining a respectful distance. "Because the world has changed, and we would invite one as mighty and noble as you to a higher place in the new order of things. Because we remember some of what has been lost, and wish to see it restored. And because I am the inheritor of Askaru of the Perfect Circle, who knew you...

Imrama ...once, Leviathan."

Leviathan looks up at the other Solar in the Ship with curiosity, and is silent for another long moment.

Imrama "And this is my friend and Circlemate, Long-Awaited Spring. The inheritor in this Age of the illustrious Wei Dan." Imrama adds, helpfully.

Leviathan looks from Spring to Imrama and back again. "It was your doing."

Imrama raises his eyebrows and gestured back and forth from himself to Spring, pantomiming confusion. "Which of us? And what? And how so?"

Leviathan "All of you," he says, slowly once more, "but especially you." He looks straight at Imrama with a harsh expression.

Imrama purses his lips and nods. "I gather that Askaru did something before he died that you did not approve of. I'm very sorry for that, although I can't say I'm totally surprised. I think you will find that, in a state of affairs that seems to be rather unusual among Solars, neither Spring nor myself are overly angst-ridden about our prior incarnations. Please; tell us what happened."

Leviathan purses his lips crudely. "The War of Black Thorns," he says. "The last conflict the Realm fought while still it stood." He shakes his head. "The beginning of many years of suffering."

Imrama ::Does that conflict mean anything to you?::

Imrama "Please forgive my ignorance, Admiral. The records of your time are not what your fellows might have hoped them to be some thousand years on."

Leviathan "In that era, the Realm was collapsing," he says. "The unquestioned suzerainty which the Gold held over the face of Creation once was no more, and many regions stood now in open rebellion, led by cultists or disgruntled Chosen -- sometimes even Solars who had grown tired of sharing power with their fellows."

Imrama nods. "The Ancient Regime had a far way to fall."

Imrama "The Black Thorns marked such a rebellion then?"

Leviathan stands from his chair and walks his imposing bulk closer to Imrama. "In the Southwest, a petty barony known as the Turquoise Seal arose -- at its head three Exalts who had cast away their association with the Deliberative and sworn to hold their territory against all who strove to reclaim it."

Imrama maintains a rigid, disciplined posture, appropriate to a formal meeting between to military men.

Leviathan "The effort of putting down such rebellions had left the forces of the Realm stretched thin, and the increasing frequency of threats from beyond had reduced their effectiveness yet further. And this rebellion promised to be the most costly of all, for one of the Turquiose Seal had been amongst the foremost field generals of the Realm, and the others his greatest lieutenants."

Imrama "It is hard for a fallen giant to stand back up when her limbs begin to turn against her."

Leviathan "Those are almost exactly the words you used when our council sat to plan our response," he says, his eyes darkening.

Imrama 's countenance darkens to match. "You will find that I am not inclined to repeat the mistakes of my predecessor." He brightens again, "I am determined to make entirely new ones. So please advise me as to what Askaru did and did wrong, so that I may avoid following in his footsteps."

Leviathan "The Realm forces were arrayed for a three-pronged attack -- a naval invasion, a land strike, and an aerial bombardment. I led the fleet of the Realm's finest ships that beached upon the shores, ordered the tens of thousands of men who swarmed out to be cut down in pursuit of victory."

Leviathan "When the Turquoise Seal forces were fully occupied, when every available Exalt had been put to the task of meeting our -- clearly insufficient -- forces, only then did the final hammer fall."

Leviathan Leviathan closes his eyes and clenches his thick, heavy hands into white-knuckled fists. "With no one to stop it, the Defense Grid was unleashed on a Realm city for the first time."

Imrama covers his mouth. "It must have been a terrible thing to witness."

Leviathan seats himself once more and crosses his arms across his chest. "I turned around and swam to the deepest part of the sea."

Imrama nods and draws his hand back from his mouth. "A sane reaction to an insane situation. Forgive me, Grand Admiral, and know that this is more than just morbid curiosity: which of the Defense Grid's sanctions were used against the city?"

Leviathan "Razor-sharp thorns of Essence infused metal grew from the earth, instantly slaying every living being in the city."

Imrama "History repeats itself, then. During the last Calibration, the First and Forsaken Lion arranged for the Grid to be used surrupticiously to slay the population of another Realm City in exactly the same manner. Surely, the means employed was not purely coincidental.

Leviathan shakes his head slowly. "It cannot have been."

Imrama "Then I cannot say that the world of our Third Age has none of the horrors of your First. But I can tell you that the current Deliberative exists to prevent such horrors rather than to inflict them. I have come to inform you of this and offer you the chance to see it for yourself, to be a partner in it, if you wish."

Leviathan looks for a long hard moment at Imrama. "If you claim so," he says, "then you are honest, or foolish, for if I wish it you shall never leave this place." The water around their current location sloshes ominously, as if in agreement.

Leviathan "If you come to ask me this, prove your willingness to me here. Show me the sacrifices you will make to ensure this Age does not go the way of the previous."

Imrama "Sacrifices, I have already made. I have held the Dawn Seal, and yet surrendered it. I have hunted down Askaru's wife and imprisoned her for her crimes. I have been struck down and lingered on the threshold of death. All of these things I have done in the service of Creation. I have killed to defend it, and I would hang up my guns forever if it would do more.

Imrama "I have changed my very nature," Imrama guestures with his Starmetal fingernails and tosses his Jade hair slightly. "And have sought to build a lasting peace for the world with my weapons, my words and my wa..." Imrama thinks better of this one. "My whole self."

Leviathan takes in Imrama's statements, and then after a long pause he nods. "Then you shall see me fourteen days hence," he says. "For now: goodbye, Captain."

Imrama bows in the formal military style. "Good day, Grand Admiral."

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Page last modified on May 02, 2010, at 10:39 PM