Summary:With one Deathlord dealt with, the Solars turn their attentions to the looming threat of the Lion.

XP:C4, S4, V4, Z4


< How to Dismantle a Bomb | Sol Invictus Logs | Shadows and Statues >

KaralLinwei Only hours after the execution of the Mask of Winters, the chumyo of Lookshy sits at a stone table in a military office, still half-destroyed and covered in rubble from the occupation, though the remnants of the dead and the thin layer of ectoplasm that coated the walls have been roughly expunged.

Spring "Ectoplasm tastes very strange."

KaralLinwei " 'There is no rest for the wicked; no pause for the virtuous, ' " she intones. "There is still much to do."

Zahara "And what is it that you will do first?"

KaralLinwei spreads out her hands on the blank table. "With the Mask gone, we need to focus all of the Deliberative's attention on the primary threat: the Lion."

Spring "I cannot but agree."

Zahara nods as well. "An appropriate course to take, I believe."

Spring "We have already blunted his primary spearhead and taken captive his most powerful Exalted. The question now is whether to pursue an offensive approach or to prepare ourselves for his next move."

KaralLinwei "We cannot afford to be reactive any longer," she says drawing her fingers over the table absent-mindedly. "Every moment that this war drags on offers more opportunities to the forces of death."

Cerin "A very valid point," Cerin says.

Spring "My reports tell me that the Lion has what may reasonably be called an infinity of troops."

Spring "Most traditional battle plans would find this difficult to grapple with."

Spring "We must remove him, not his army."

KaralLinwei "But his army protects him," she says. "A difficult catch."

Cerin "A limited portion of it can actually threaten Exalted. However, given the aforementioned size, this does still represent a sizable number of threats."

Spring "We need an assassin."

KaralLinwei nods. "Threats to Exalted do not concern me," she says, grimly.

KaralLinwei "A sizeable army can accomplish two things. It can be used to physically tie up Exalted forces, not threatening their lives but reducing their tactical efficacy. Or..." she gets quieter. "It can be used to attack civilian targets."

Zahara decides against mentioning how quickly civilians breed

KaralLinwei "What manner of assassin is worthwhile against an all-powerful being that is also already dead?" she says, looking inquisitively at Spring.

Spring "An Exalted one, I assumed."

Spring "As I understand it, we have killed all-powerful beings before. In fact, in large part, that is the problem we are faced with today."

Cerin "We did execute one dead being already to restore you to your rulership," he points out to Karel. "That is not the difficulty. Fighting against the Mask, and we have every reason to believe the Lion is more powerful, he was able to effectively engage the whole Circle at once. This is not a problem, per se, since the aim is to avoid it becoming a fight. Except for the small issue that the Lion has an Abyssal at least as observant

Cerin as me."

KaralLinwei nods. "That is... problematic." She stands up. "In an open fight, without assistance, I am certain you could prevail against the Lion's power. But with all of his resources brought to bear, arranging such a fight will prove difficult -- especially with such an observant Abyssal in his employ."

KaralLinwei "I believe we must determine the largest quantity of his resources we can compromise or tie up in a short window, and plan any assault on the Lion himself around the window of opportunity that dealing with said resources can provide."

Spring "We need an effectively unlimited resource ourselves -- something as powerful at dealing with the undead as all the powers of Netheon."

Spring "Wht do you know about Letheon?"

KaralLinwei blinks. "Almost nothing."

Spring "It is the place souls go when they die, to be -- we assume -- reborn."

KaralLinwei "...aaaaah," she says, a glimmer of recognition darting across her face.

Spring "The touch of Lethe can banish an unquiet ghost forever. But as yet we know very little about its waters, or how we may manipulate them."

KaralLinwei "You propose to use this resource against the dead," she says, an eyebrow arched.

Spring "Technically, I propose restoring the dead to their rightful place. The souls lost in Netheon are souls that were meant to find Lethe, before...something went wrong."

Spring "We are fortunate to have an expert on death with us today who may perhaps enlighten us further."

Zahara "Hmmm... a fascinating thought."

Spring "I am glad you find it so, Empress. I feel our first visit to that plane was unnecessarily brief."

Zahara "The water was wonderfully fizzy..." she muses

Varanim stirs in her corner, head and feet both propped on what appear to be stacks of old disaster management plans for the city. "I have a charm that warns me when I'm being signed up for something. What's all this noise about?"

Spring "Why do souls go to Netheon instead of Letheon?"

Spring "Also, as a followup, what is everything you know about Letheon?"

Varanim "Because they have unfinished business, much like my nap. And I know as much as anyone about Letheon, which is mostly about three grains of fact and a few wagonloads of bullshit fairy-dust speculation."

Spring "I only know two grains of fact. What is the third grain?"

Varanim "That depends on which two you know," but at least she's sitting up and putting on her work face.

Spring "The middle two."

Varanim "Yes Spring, I agree, it is very lucky that I don't have the authority to execute you." Directing the remainder of her comments to the others, she says, "Letheon is where people who haven't failed at dying go to be reborn. Its topology has been studied, though the correspondence with the world is more spiritual than geographical, and it's generally not nearly as populated--or at least...

Varanim ...not in the same way as Netheos. Specifics?"

Spring "What happens to souls that go to Letheon, exactly?"

Varanim "Sort of that thing that happens where you dump a bunch of salt in a jar of water and then let the water dry out afterward, only less useful for seasoning and with fewer pretty shapes."

Spring "If, hypothetically, a necromancer were to learn a spell that forcibly sends ghosts to Letheon, how exactly would that function?"

Varanim "Leaving out all the fidgety motonic details, it's kind of like cutting a knot rather than untying it, except that the rope's about to be reduced to fibers and retwisted anyway, so you don't have to figure out what to do with the pieces."

Varanim "But if we're talking about treating symptoms, we might as well go for the larger ones--how about making a Brightlord?"

Zahara "Out of a ghost?"

Varanim "Not... exactly." She looks a little evasive.

Zahara raises a brow at her. "Please expound."

Cerin "Yes, please do."

Varanim "To make a Deathlord, you take two souls--call them chocolate and strawberry--smear them together with some Neverborn Essence... uh, that's probably the buttercream frosting, but frankly I'm losing control of the analogy."

Cerin waits for Varanim to say something interesting again.

Varanim "The point is, theoretically an Incarna of rebirth could substitute for the third component. And I... have some ideas about where to get the other two bits, though I'll have to check them out. Assuming it worked, you might have an opposite number to a Deathlord, hilarious metaphysical consequences to follow."

Spring "Hm."

Spring " at least as good as my idea."

Spring "Let us do both."

Varanim "Wait, if your idea is worse I definitely want to hear it."

Zahara "As do I, really..."

Spring "Souls that go to Letheon are absorbed into the waters of Lethe."

Spring "It is, then, the absence of these waters that causes them to become restless ghosts."

Spring "What if we found a way those waters?"

Spring "Into Netheon."

Zahara "Well, you're right. That IS at least as good as her idea."

Cerin "I can't see what could possibly go wrong with that."

Varanim Entranced by the possibilities therein, Varanim leans back and takes a drink.

Varanim "How large an area were you thinking of flooding?"

Zahara "I love that you're actually seriously considering this."

Varanim "Interest in terrible ideas is sort of a prerequisite for necromancy. I'm sure a top-rank sorceress like yourself wouldn't know anything about that."

Spring "As large as is feasible. Really I need an urban development consultation."

Spring "Or a plumber."

Zahara "But of course not," she says drily. "Shall I also summon a third circle demon to add into the mix?"

Spring "That might be interesting. I wonder what effect the waters might have on one."

Spring "In any case, I suspect the first order of business would be to go to Letheon and ascertain the potential for drainage."

Zahara "We should also find out if the waters of Lethe function outside of that plane."

Spring "Indeed."

Varanim gives a thumbs-up, momentarily occupied in taking another drink.

KaralLinwei has been sitting quietly through most of this portion of the conversation. "These plans are well and good," she says. "How quickly can we act?"

Varanim "Spring's should be fast, at least to tell whether it'll work at all. The other one is less predictable, depending on the availability of ingredients, so it's better as a backup."

Spring "My plan might be effective against the Deathlord's troops, but Varanim's might work against him directly."

Spring "We should begin our research now."

Spring "I would not anticipate it taking longer than a week and a half."

Varanim "Team Buttercream can talk to Pluto, that's a good place to start. There's a couple of options for the raspberry--uh, that's the equivalent of the lower soul, if we were making a Deathlord. One option is to go all the way down and get something like a Spectre, but something else might be more suitable."

Spring "Do you want to get a pastry, by the way?"

Zahara "Is this... a real pastry or a metaphorical one?"

Spring "You cannot eat metaphors."

KaralLinwei nods at Spring's estimate.

Spring "I believe we have a Spectre. Depending on what Zahara has been doing with her prisoners."

Zahara "Mostly I've been keeping them "safe" "

Varanim "You didn't hide those air quotes very well, you know."

Zahara twists her lips in a wry smile. "Excellent."

Varanim "Okay. People who have inordinate interest in clever soul fuckery, tell me if you think of something better than a spectre, otherwise we'll use the one on tap. People who are good at talking to people, supply someone to go and sell this idea to Pluto. What am I missing, strategy lad?"

Spring "What characteristics does a spectre specifically have that make it useful for the purpose?"

Varanim "First, its delightfully cliche appeal as the lowest of low souls. In more detail, the function of the lower soul is to house emotion and the more primal, animalistic urges. Spectres have that in spades--they're also tainted by the Void, but that could be a plus or a minus depending on which way you juggle the symmetries."

Zahara "I am loathe to imagine a spectre with the power of a deathlord, bright as that might be

Spring "Hm."

Spring "So something extremely emotional."

Spring "Hm."

Spring "We could use Lucent."

Spring "He might BE a Brightlord."

Zahara "That is somewhat terrifying."

Spring "Yes."

KaralLinwei "How long," Linwei says slowly, interjecting once again, "do we have before the underworld conjunction that we have been warned will occur?"

Varanim "A bit under seven weeks, now. And Lucent is right out."

Zahara "Why is that? I mean, aside from the obvious inadvisability of the entire plan."

Varanim "Would you believe he's not extreme enough?"

Zahara "...not really?"

Varanim "You remember that story about how the little boy gets lost in the woods and finds the home of the three ogres? He finds their food and the first bowl is too hot, the second too cold, the third just right. I know you may have forgotten this part, since I'm sure you skip to the end where the ogres come back and eat him."

KaralLinwei raises a corner of her mouth in the tiniest hint of a wry smile at that comment.

Varanim "To make a Brightlord, we want a lower soul that's either unnaturally pure--like, completely unused--or about as impure as you can get. Lucent's is used but not used enough, to describe it about as politely as I'm capable."

Zahara "Pure souls? No one born is pure."

Varanim "Well, I didn't say it would be easy. But all in all, I'm leaning toward the Spectre option."

Spring seems a little distracted, thinking about porridge.

Zahara "So long as the spectre does not remain in ''control/ of the body

Varanim "No more than Pluto was driving the Deathlords his bits were sewn into. I mean, assuming it all works right. It could go terribly awry and destroy the balance of death as we know it, but what are the odds of that, right?"

Zahara "Slim to nothingness."

Spring "If we destroy the universe we will just put it back together again."

Spring "I feel confident that this has happened before."

Varanim "Do we have any other urgent planning to do, or can I go back to sleep?"

Spring "We should leave for Letheon. If we hurry, we can unlock all the mysteries behind the plane in time for dinner."

< How to Dismantle a Bomb | Sol Invictus Logs | Shadows and Statues >

Page last modified on May 04, 2010, at 03:57 PM