Summary:Lucent and Zahara investigate the spiritual curse

XP:L1, Z1


< Distant Relatives | Sol Invictus Logs | Breaking the Mask >

On a whim, Zahara and Luc have followed a set of old geneaologies to Verdant Amethyst in the North, where it suggests a long-distant offshoot of her family may have once dwelt.

zahara "These geneaologies had better be right."

Lucent "Nothing is ever right with us. But this is family, after all." Lucent looked out of the airship's window

Lucent "You know, it isn't the same as sailing with Imrama anymore, is it?"

The nation of Verdant Amethyst is nestled between the shore of the inland sea on the south and the jagged line of mountains that stretches off northeast towards Whitewall on the north. Tiny villages dot the cool shoreline, while further inland lie larger settlements -- including Koarpec, the town of 5000 where the Solars head now.

zahara "No, indeed not."

Lucent "I think you can land at their port? It will be a sight, to see something docking from the AIR!"

Lucent "I think that is what Imrama would do. I was just thinking what that would be. Pipe?"

zahara "Subtlety has never been our strong point, has it?" She laughs a little, and circles around, looking for the best angle to land in the port. "I suppose someone should take up the smoking strange things mantle, hmm?"

Lucent offers the pipe in a trail of dark green and violet smoke to his empress "It might help us to think like him!"

zahara "I'm not sure that's possible, but one can only try!" She takes the pipe and draws the smoke into her mouth.

Lucent "You know, I was thinking. Will they get any perks from Sunlands infraestructure? From, you know. Being your family?"

zahara "Depends on how hard they try to kill me."

Lucent "So there is a bloodline of succession on Sunlands charter? And here I thought it would have you as perpetual empress."

zahara "There is no provision for succession, I had assumed it would go to the rest of you, actually."

Lucent "Emperor Cerin? Emperor Spring? I can't fathom an economy based on flowers and ninjas."

zahara laughs. "They're Exalts. They'd figure something out. Besides, why not Emporor Lucent? You have experience ruling. You're a king after all."

zahara gently sets the ship down in the port.

Lucent steps out. "So, what are your relatives there called? Zhan still?"

zahara checks the documents again

The town is small and relatively lacking in the modern amenities which make life in the Sunlands so pleasant; the "port," though clearly marked as such upon the map, is actually a large field with sticks delimiting the circumference of a 500-foot circle.

Lucent "And as for Emperor Lucent... I believe I could do it better than any other. But it would still not be you."

As she lowers the craft to the ground, a group of three young women -- clad in the furs and holding the spears of warriors -- walk out of the village, as if to meet them when they emerge from the ship.

Lucent opens his arms and flares his caste mark! "We come in peace!"

The lead woman, lustrous red-gold hair tied into three taut braids that extend far below her back behind her and dye-stained hands firmly gripping her spear, rolls her eyes at Lucent as he emerges from the vessel. Looking at the other figure, she calls out: "You must be the one called Zahara."

zahara nods to her, "I am Zahara. What may I call you?"

She stamps her spear-butt into the dirt. "I am Ekket," she says. "I am Third Spire of our village, and I offer our greetings to you on this day of visiting." She makes a -- quick and very small -- ceremonial bow.

Lucent ::You forewarned them? That is a first for us.::

zahara returns the gesture in kind, if slightly smaller. ::I did not, in fact.::

Lucent ::They knew we were coming! Now, THIS is not a first for us!::

The document suggests that the portion of her family ensconced here goes by the superlative "Su-en" and that they'd diverged from any other part of the Zhan family at least a thousand years ago.

Lucent "It is a pleasure meet you, Ekket." Lucent bows. "We have come in search of the Su-en family, distant relatives of our own august empress."

Ekket raises a skeptical eyebrow at Lucent's statement. "That is an... inauspicious request."

zahara "Are they unwell?"

Ekket's eyes dart across the field to the opposite side of the village, where Zahara notices that one of the pretty lights she had noticed on the way down is almost certainly a freshly-built pyre flame, burning on the outskirts of the settlement.

Lucent "... all of them?"

zahara darkens, and looks to the flames. "So it is spread here as well."

Ekket shakes her head. "Four, in the last two weeks. Others yet live, but... in fear."

zahara "I must find who is behind this." She clenches a fist. "Lucent, perhaps you could attend to them in some fashion?"

Lucent "How many, and where?" He pulls the Sun-orb out of the Coronal and makes it a caduceus. "If at all possible, Empress."

Lucent "You needn't even ask."

Ekket gestures towards a section of the settlement. "In these houses," she says. "You will see what they are like." She begins to lead the way, the other warriors flanking her as she turns to walk.

Lucent walks into one of the houses, shining the Coronal's light over any and all ailing patients

Lucent "So, how DID you know we were coming?"

The house is a fairly comfortable, even large dwelling -- the advantages of life on the sparsely-populated northern shelf -- but the mood within is anything but joyous. Fifteen individuals are within, their positions the center of a horrible sight:

the elderly ministering to the young, old women slowly gathering water to bring to the bedsides of youths and maidens and children who sweat blood and flutter their eyelids as dilated pupils stare out unperceptively.

Zahara notices at once that those who are ill all share a feature that -- at first -- she might not realize no one else can see: the character Ne, emblazoned upon their chests, most of them darkened almost to black.

zahara replaces a shudder with anger, at the one who perpetrated the crime against her kin.

zahara looks for signs of where it had come from, searching through the Essence of the area, and the imprint on their souls with all her formidable occult knowledge

Lucent walks to one of them. "I am here to help. I am a doctor." And with that he lets several mini-scalpels made of nothing but light go through the person's body and then back, letting him know all that was countained within their light.

"We know the one called Zahara by sight," Ekket says quietly. "We have wondered for some time if she might ever journey here."

Lucent's diagnostic glance communicates something about the situation back to him quite rapidly: the problem here is not medical in nature. Despite the symptoms, the signs of illness, it seems to have no grip on the centers of the body, no influence on the humors and flesh that bear the signs of illness; upon external examination there should be nothing wrong with these people.

Zahara, looking deep into the occult undercurrents of the brands that only she can see, extracts a little more: that this curse seems to be anchored somewhere far outside the bodies of the afflicted, but once it touches upon them it seems to bond to the blood itself.

Looking at the elders who are untouched by the curse, Zahara sees the familiar resemblance in their blood even as their very age seems to keep them insulated from the curse itself.

Beyond that, its deeper origins seem obscured, its mechanics and functioning occult even to Zahara's trained eye.

Lucent ::Well, this is not an ILLNESS. It does not even manifest as one. It is pure, undillutted, a hundred percent curse.::

zahara mentally explains her findings to Lucent, then turns to the others there. "Has anyone visited you recently?"

Lucent ::... hmmm. You could try countermagicking it? It might break the outside force over them?::

"Before you?" Ekket says, shaking her head softly. "Not in many months."

zahara "It is possible it incubated for a certain time before occurring. Who was the last visitor?"

alsoquin thinks. "A trading party from Whitewall," she says, running over events in her head. "Five people, some yeddims, and a wagon of goods. Perhaps six months ago."

zahara "Are any of the goods still here? Was there anything unusual amongst them?"

"Not that I know of," she says. "We purchase goods that we cannot gather ourselves here from each of the Whitewall caravans -- spices, metalworks.... Whatever we bought is distributed throughout the town now."

zahara ::I tried that on the cousin that came to the Cascade.::

Lucent attempts a soul-diagnosis on them while Zahara is busy with the investigation - to see if he could, at least, slow down the curse. And as long as he was there with them, they would, at least, remain with the living. ::I see...::

Lucent's further investigations are slightly more fruitful, though no more encouraging. The spiritual curse that hangs over these people is not in any way localized to them individually --

by virtue of being a curse upon the bloodline, the actual Essence patterns that make it up are locked away somewhere far from the physical beings suffering under it; the most Lucent can do from here is mute the impact and ease the suffering of those afflicted.

The effects that can be observed here appear to be those of a metaphysical wound in the Essence flow of the human species leeching out into the material world -- like an Essence version of blood spotting in the fingers when the true cause is a burst vessel near the heart.

Lucent ::... the best I can do is make them not feel PAIN, I cannot even stop it. We need to figure out where it goes.::

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Page last modified on May 04, 2010, at 03:56 PM