Summary:Varanim gets more details from Vojec about the Maw of Nine Dark Truths.


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`Varanim offers Vojec a (by now slightly stale, being far away and many hours from its original home) Cascade breakfast pastry. "Would you rather start with the lurid esoteric details of the Maw, or with your observations during the recent Lion hilarity?"

`charlequin Vojec downs the pastry in a single bite. "Oh, we should always start with lurid."

`Varanim "Great. How long was it expected to last, and what provisions were made for its death and disposal?"

`charlequin "Nothing seems to indicate that there was any intention of permanence for it -- or any provisions of that sort either. As best I can tell, it was a one-flight balloon."

`Varanim "If I can seize the metaphor like any good obnoxious university student, balloons have to land somewhere."

`charlequin "Well, imagine that your only goal in building a balloon is to get someone to see it and shoot it down. Then you probably wouldn't worry too much about where it landed." Vojec grins -- he hasn't tortured a metaphor in far too long.

`Varanim "But it was a pretty expensive balloon, right? Like, you sprung for the tacky gold tassels and the swan-shaped wickerwork basket and everything. Someone is going to get all of those balloon parts for free if you don't at least keep track of where it went down. Maybe even send a retrieval team."

`charlequin Vojec struggles to continue on as the metaphor gets more and more bloated. "But... if your balloon was... full of stink bombs..." -- he makes a brief face -- "...the place where it landed would smell too bad for anyone else to bother with. If you... didn't have... a sense of smell..." He stops to blink for a moment. "You could go in and retrieve the parts at your leisure."

`Varanim "Wait, did we accidentally get to some insight there?"

`charlequin "I think we might've."

`Varanim "I'll try to navigate us back out of that wasteland of communication, then. The Maw of Nine Dark Truths was constructed from if not the most, then on the short list of most abominable collections of parts to be piled on this side of the Shroud, yes?"

`charlequin "Yes."

`Varanim "And then pieced together with unstable and also variously unfriendly magic, ensuring that the whole mess would be an untouchable catastrophe when it either was destroyed or ran down on its own."

`Varanim "So only someone who was really thoroughly steeped in all the things you should avoid being steeped in would have any interest in it afterward." She breaks off to lean back, folding her arms behind her head and looking troubled.

`charlequin "That all sounds right," he says. "And it was clearly so rickety that it needed to get used right away, not sit around in mothballs for the right moment."

`Varanim "It's an awful lot of work to go through for a one-flight balloon, really, unless it's a proof of concept."

`charlequin "Or unless your actual purpose is something different from the balloon, and it's there as a distraction." He licks his teeth, now regretting his swift devourment of the pastry. "Or both."

`Varanim generously offers him a share of her liquid lunch. "I care about all this for two reasons. The first is that Lucent's obsession with his earlier death is becoming a distraction. The second is that I have increasing suspicions about where the Mask of Winters has gone, and I'd rather confirm or deny them without being part of a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I especially hate those."

`charlequin Vojec raises an eyebrow. "Do go on."

`Varanim "About which one? I devoutly hope they're separate issues, since it'll only encourage Lucent if his various complexes interconnect.

`charlequin "Start with the latter," he says. "And loop around to the former, if it ties in."

`Varanim "Ah, well. I forget if you've heard this bit of hilarity from As the Cascade Flows, but while I was studying with the Mask of Winters I promised that I would tell him when I found something he was looking for. From the conversation I had with him shortly before he was executed, he still expects to collect."

`Varanim "And so the question of where something toxically necrotic might go when it died, and who would be able to retrieve it, is a puzzle of unusual relevance for me."

`charlequin Vojec nods, with an interested look on his face.

`Varanim "Or if we can get back to the balloon thing, I saw a very interesting flaming wreck go by overhead not long ago, and I have the awful feeling I left all my clean underwear in it before it crashed. Calamity! I may have to go and retrieve my singed unmentionables soon, but it still burns with I know not what fires in some strange mountain country."

`Varanim "Ah, which raises one of the relevant points--where did the Maw's consciousness go when it was destroyed?"

`charlequin "Ahahaha," Vojec laughs, and takes a big hit of "lunch."

`charlequin "That's an excellent question. Probably straight into the Void. But if not...?"

`Varanim "If not, then stuck along the way somewhere. Um." Varanim leans back, rattling along the corridors of her memory to consider what structures are known to exist on the immediate lip of the Void, either in the physical or spiritual sense (and admitting that these distinctions blur on approach).

`charlequin The city of Stygia sits right around the lip of the Void, the "bustling" metro''necropolis of Netheos, with the Empty Ring district lying just to the outside of that endless pit; and then below, far below, on the way down to the end of eternity, lie the tombs of the Neverborn.

`Varanim "Hm. There's a big gap in the middle, between the top of the pit and the last things anyone cares about on the way to the bottom. There might be a place to put a net."

`charlequin nods. "A very big net."

`Varanim "I think we need to take another crack at the records around here, to see how much brightly-colored yarn and spangles they'd been using right before this. Unless, of course, you'd rather go spelunking first...?"

`charlequin "Where's the fun in research?" he says, taking another rather large sip.

`Varanim "Attaboy. No one ever got a cool arm like this one by sitting around in a library." She reclaims her lunch, being a growing girl who needs her nutrients, and rolls up her sleeves for some vile necromancy.


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Page last modified on October 29, 2010, at 01:27 PM