Summary:The Solars travel to Atomnos, where they discover the true source of the Primordial's affliction.

XP:C4, I4, L4, S4, V4, Z4


< What About Atomnos? | Sol Invictus Logs | We Have Stopped The Poison >

The Looking-Glass parts, and the Fable of the Reconstruction slides across the boundary of worlds and into the realm known as Atomnos.

The vessel emerges in the great space between the realm's vast stone continents, above the quicksilver sea that flows between them.

But since the Solars' last visit, the realm has changed, quite visibly: where once the qlippan's silvery waters below were marred by only occasional veins of light and dark, now black, inky oil covers half or more of the surface, breaking and spreading with each violent wave;

where once the bright red Sky-Fires were clearly visible with even the slightest glance, now dark smoke fills the upper reaches of the titanic rocky dome and obscures their light; where once the brilliant, fiery eye of Atomnos himself gazed out upon his creations from the apogee of the plane's overhead dome, now only a closed grey circle peers down at the world below.

zahara "Well, looks like our boy Atomnos is sulking."

Cerin "Not entirely unsurprising, I suppose."

Lucent "More human than human. We HAVE to learn how to grow up..."

Off far to one side, the crystalline tower of Avixos -- the home of the Pentarch order and of the Godhead from which the Solars stole a Solar seal on their last visit -- juts out of the swirling oil below: a hexagonal palace of purest crystal, climbing up into six jagged spires far into the air.

But where on their previous visit the purple palace glowed from within with a white radiance, now it seems mottled and black, with large, visible cracks running through its crystalline perfection.

Cerin "It appears all is not well in the house of Atomnos."

Lucent "Is that what happens when a Primordial cries?"

The wind whistles by the vessel, the faint scent of sulfur and burning wood thick upon it.

zahara "I wonder if his affliction is related to the Sun's..." Zahara muses

Spring considers this possibility.

Lucent "If it reached even the SUN, it would be devastating within a Primordial!"

zahara "Or... it spread from Atomnos TO Sol invictus"

zahara "Did the sliver in the sun occur before or after we sto... regained the seal which was rightfully ours?"

Cerin "It began during the Calibration, I believe."

Cerin (( ** - I believe. Cerin knows his stuff. I hope. ))

Lucent "So after. Are you saying it was holding the disease at bay here and we... let it out?"

zahara "Or caused it in retribution, one or the other."

zahara "Possibly it has to do with his creepy girlfriend."

Lucent "I thought she was just an object of unrequited love? The mother would not spend time with a child."

Spring "Would that you were right."

zahara "Hmmm?"

Lucent "She likes him? Hm. Next time we go back in time, I have a couple of Eclipses to punch."

zahara "What for?"

Lucent "Cosmological errors!" Lucent walks torwards Avixos. "We should be going, since there is no welcoming comittee this time..."

Spring "I believe that Atomnos's interest in Cytherea is indeed reciprocated."

Spring "Shall we?"

Cerin looks for anything of interest in the city.

Lucent strides into Avixos. "But Atomnos was not the only one, was he?"

The large, hexagonal crystal shelf around the base of the tower lies empty, a thin layer of the black oil sticking to it in large irregular globs.

Cerin stares deeper into the tower. The Pillar of Transcendence, the twelve-story holy temple in which the Pentarch Order practice their devotions to the Machine God is empty, its crystalline chambers cracked and broken and its contents spilled and soiled.

zahara "Hmmm maybe I should move in, and spruce the place up. I'm a little bored of the War Room."

Elsewhere in the "city" that surrounds it, there is motion -- but it is not of a welcoming type. Humans and animals with black, banded metal criss-crossing their skin in jagged, irregular patterns wander in feral motions through the streets, while elsewhere a scant few Alchemical Exalts with tainted soul geometry wander through the hidden passages of Avixos.

The vast, domed chamber where the Solars last met with Atomnos himself is not visible to Cerin, some form of Essence interference hiding it from his sight.

Cerin "All is definitly not well," Cerin relays his findings to the others.

zahara "I vote we destroy Cytherea"

Lucent "Killing the Ebon Dragon was tragic enough. Do you want to deal with more Malfeans?"

Lucent "Think of Varanim."

Imrama "Perhaps we should begin by finding out what is going on. Before killing anything."

zahara "Boys are such pansies," she mutters.

The staircase where the Solars entered the below-decks area on their previous visit is no longer clearly present, but cracks in the crystal surface near the area lead deep enough, Cerin can easily make out, to lead the Solars down into the depths of Avixos.

Cerin "This is the way down," Cerin indicates.

Spring "Down we go, then."

zahara "I'll be down in a bit, I forgot something on the ship..." Zahara wanders off.

The path, now not stairs so much as a jagged and broken crack in the crystalline fixture that zigs and zags back and forth in an indirect fashion, slowly but inexorably leads downward towards the chamber below.

Where the crack opens out into the chamber, Cerin can see just how much things here have changed since their last visit.

The vast water-pool, once shiny and silver, is now jet-black, with oily bubbles slowly oozing up through it. Most of the black crystals that once hung elegantly suspended in this chamber are now knocked on their sides, sprawled unhelpfully on the walkway of crystal that rings the room or slowly sinking into the muck.

The black crystalline pillar, ringed by golden patterns, still stands, just as solid and unbroken as on their last visit: but now a black mist hangs around it, and the air smells vaguely of overheated machine bearings and stale grease.

Spring "Hm."

Lucent "Trust me, last time, it looked damn good."

Spring "Is he hiding?"

Spring "ATOMNOS?"

Imrama ::Why do we bring him on diplomatic missions, again?::

There is a faint thrumming sound from somewhere far away.

Cerin ::He makes you look suave and sophisticated? Well, more so than usual.::

Imrama ::Good point!::

Lucent walks torwards the noise. ::That, and he might eat something useful!:: "Lord of Metal, we come in peace, humble in our desire to make ammends for the past!"

Spring tastes the oily water thoughtfully.

The water has a familiar, bitter taste -- it tastes eerily similar in composition to the residue left behind in the Imperial City after the Ebon Dragon was slain.

Meanwhile, the thrumming noise seems to get a little louder as Lucent calls out to it.

Spring "Oh, dear."

Lucent "My good Essence-Theorist friends, I have a most pressing question."

Lucent "What would a zombie primordial look like?"

Cerin "I believe that's a malfean."

Cerin "Also, what bothers you about that water, Spring?"

Spring "Do you remember when I ate that muffin that fell into the black glowing goo the Ebon Dragon left behind?"

Spring "It tasted like that. Except with blueberries."

Cerin "Ah. That is slightly bothersome, yes."

Spring "Well, blueberries are all right in their place," Spring says in a slightly distracted tone, walking towards the thrumming sound.

The sound seems to be coming from beneath the platform at the center of the room on which the black and gold pillar sits.

Lucent walks torwards it, hoping they will not have to get wet again. "Atomnos? We can see you are ill, we are here to help! You can trust us."

The thrumming gets a little louder.

Spring "Atomnos. Do you have a new name we need to call you by now that you are dead? I confess that we are not completely sure how Malfeans function."

Spring walks up to the pillar and pokes it a few times.

The sound continues to grow in volume as the Solars speak to it, and localizing it begins to become a little easier: it's coming from a spot about ten feet back from the pillar, and around three hundred feet down.

In other words, it comes from somewhere within the crystalline "island" upon which the pillar sits, and which looks, to Cerin's eyes, like a singular, undifferentiated mass.

The pillar is uncracked and still feels solid, not brittle to Spring's touch. However, it otherwise does not respond in any way to repeated proddings.

Spring listens very carefully to the thrumming sound.

Spring can make out, with some (very) careful listening, that the sound isn't coming from something in the pillar: it's coming, in some way, from a part of the pillar itself. And as he quiets down to listen, he notices that the sound grows a little bit fainter: it's clearly responding to the voices above.

Spring "The pillar itself is making the sound."

Spring "Hello, pillar! PLEASE CONTINUE TO THRUM!"

Imrama "But what is the sound indicating or accomplishing?"

As if in answer to Imrama's question, Spring notices a modulation of the thrumming -- what previously was a completely steady sound, like someone humming quietly to themselves, now shifts in pitch and tone, producing a pattern that Spring's linguistic genius recognizes is akin to faint speech: a plaintative cry of ""

Spring "He says help."

Spring puts his hand on the pillar and thrums back, "What do you need?"

The disembodied voice of a dying Primordial calls out in what is (relatively speaking) a faint and wispy tone: "....toxic...."

Spring "Hm."

Spring runs his hand across the pillar, searching for its pillar pressure points.

Spring finds the spot he's looking for, and pokes a glowing finger into it, allowing red-gold energy to travel into the depths of the pillar's integument.

Cerin "Atomnos is near death, then?"

Spring "Yes."

Spring "I will save him."

Spring "He says that he is being poisoned by something here. Can you find what?"

Spring feels the energy spread out from his finger, flowing out into the near-infinite reaches of the vast Primordial -- he feels Essence leave his body, one mote for every ten thousand million that fuel his patient, then one more, then one more -- the pull is intense, growing stronger and stronger, like an increasingly large number of pianos being pushed off a rooftop while tied to his finger.

Eventually, the air around Spring begins to crackle as he actually begins to subconsciously pull Essence out from the very crystalline ground he stands on, through his connection to the Primordial, in order to continue feeding it back, wrapped in healing resonance, to Atomnos, and he begins to feel himself enter a strange sort of sync with the Maker's life-pattern.

Spring "This is a new sensation."

Cerin "Yes, it is," Cerin remarks. It looked interesting enough from the outside.

Cerin Cerin busys himself with looking for potential sources of poison. Whilst a mundane investigator might be limited to such concepts as 'here' and 'now', Cerin is freed from both such constraints by his magic. He simultaneously investigates everywhere and everyone within six whole miles of himself for signs that they might be poisoning Atomnos, whilst also reaching backwards, to the point at which atomnos was poisoned, seeking to

Cerin place himself in the mindset of the poisoner ...

Cerin casts through time and space, following a quantum web of disconnected approaches and distant causality lines out through a multiverse of possibilities, all with the ultimate aim of tracking down the answer to one singular question: what's killing Atomnos?

His vision of the world quickly clears the spaces above and to all sides, and delves down deep into the murky, oily waters below, through the thick plaugeclouds and corrupted metallic fish in search of its answer;

his quest through the realm of ideas leads him out from the world of Atomnos, out into the formless void, beyond the walls of the universe as he knows it...

And both, eventually, come together, lead him inexorably to the true cause of the poison that eats away at Atomnos' vast, universe-spanning form: the spot at the very bottom of the great rocky dome of the plane, where the border between worlds wears thin, and the dark passageways of the Labyrinth stretch out from Netheos to join with the caverns that drill into his rocky shell...

At the very bottom of the Quicksilver Sea, Cerin spots it: the corpse of a vast being, too decomposed to accurately identify, too oddly-shaped to recognize... the black ichor that leaks from its ancient, rotting veins flowing out into the waters and slowly, inexorably corrupting the entire world.

Cerin "Ah. The dead animal at the bottom of the well to kill the village. Applied on a primordial scale."

Spring "What can we do?" Spring directs this question both to Atomnos and to Cerin.

Cerin "I am moderately certain it is too large for you to swallow."

Spring frowns.

< What About Atomnos? | Sol Invictus Logs | We Have Stopped The Poison >

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