Summary:Spring and Varanim take a moment to interrogate Zahara's newly-summoned malakim.

XP:S1, V1

< The Liberator of Netheos | Sol Invictus Logs | The Beginning >

The three summoned beasts grunt and heave under the weight of zahara's immense palanquin as the Solars travel towards the underworld.

Avixas, the bone-plated one, is almost impossible to read, lacking in all meaningful symbols of human emotion; Yselimi, the split snake, seems to bear an almost casual disregard for all that surrounds it, regardless of what said surroundings are... that leaves only Jugurtha to have a pointed (and very much personal) hatred for Zahara and the Solars who bound him specifically.

`Spring "Can each of you tell me the piece of information you possess, that I can safely be presumed not to possess, that is most necessary for me to know in order to accomplish my goals?"

`Jugurtha visibly ponders the question with a careful and thorough level of consideration, before finally being able to turn back to Spring and answer, with a gleeful and malicious truthfulness that clearly brings the enslaved demon-ghost a great deal of pleasure: "No."

`Spring "Do so anyway, to the best of your ability."

`charlequin looks over Spring and the nearby Varanim with a cagey eye. "In order to do so, tiny gnat... I will need to know what your goals are." He grins, showing a wide mouth of glistening, ectoplasmic teeth.

`Spring "To save Creation, eliminate suffering and possibly destroy entropy."

`Varanim "Or if you'd rather not talk to the sweet-cheeked optimist, you can tell me everything you remember about sealing the Void nexuses."

`Jugurtha raises an eyebrow. "Insignificant creature, I will answer you first," he says, and leers at Varanim in an altogether unpleasant fashion.

`Jugurtha "I was called down, nine of my siblings and I," he says, "to the Abstract Geom built upon the back of the Stolid Wind-Turtle, where our eyes were shut and we could not see the sky." He shakes his head and his strangely distant ghost-voice continues.

`Jugurtha "In those days, it was before... the fly-mother" -- he spits and bares his teeth at the nearby Zahara has he speaks of her distant ancestor Brigid -- "bound us to these cruel new protocols, and our freedoms to act as we saw fit were far greater, save when bound through malice and treachery."

`Jugurtha "They held us slave to their wills, and blind to their faces. They bound us in chains of black crystal, and dragged us under dark of night to the ten corners of Creation."

`Jugurtha "Then, when we had each been held for a month and a day, they freed our eyes and set us to work."

`Varanim "I've seen some of your earlier work, and what it lacks for finesse it makes up with enthusiasm, if you know what I mean," Varanim says with a counter-leer. "But then, and I assure you I now regret my use of sexual metaphor, they wanted the holes plugged."

`Jugurtha 's eyes glitter in a moment of cruel, demonic lust as he continues his story. "In some places," he says, "the tunnels of the Labyrinth had bent and twisted, falling such that one end led to the surface of the living Creation... and one to the edge of the pit, the curve of the opening... the mouth of the void."

`Jugurtha "There, death spread forth not in a diffused, gentle fashion, but harshly, energetically, broadcasting its hate for all that moved the fierce intensity of pure emptiness." He licks his lips. "They tasked us to close it, and so close it we did. We drew upon our forefather to craft laces of purest night, and through them we wove the material of the living Creation."

`Jugurtha "We took those laces, and we held them in our teeth.... and so doing, we stepped ourselves across the border, into the nexus... the first step down a long and inevitable pathway to absolute destruction."

`Jugurtha "As we pulled them behind us, the very matter of the world pulled tight, like the opening of a bag, but should we fall into oblivion our pull would cease, and the laces grow slack and the holes grow wide once more..."

`Jugurtha "So we brought them together, to a point just above the void itself, and there we tied them together, with a weight -- massive and unliving, to hold them in place against the force of death."

`Jugurtha "Such, small creature, is the manner in which the Children of Night might steal away even the very wounds on the face of the world, and hide them away where no one might suspect they lie."

`Varanim leans back, frowning in a way that means she's thinking, but probably looks to any unfamiliar observer as if she's unhappy or perhaps constipated. "What was the weight, and what's happened to it now?"

`zahara looks up from her work atop the palanquin, where for every insult or black look given by the demons, she has been adding to her elaborate furniture. She gives Varanim a curious look. ::This is new.::

`Varanim ::I've been stepping out with your boyfriend when you weren't using him. Among other hilarities, the Ija were destroyed by Exalts using Jugurtha to bring Auna up through a Void nexus. Later, all of those portals were sealed, but lately they've reopened.::

`Jugurtha grins again. "We broke off a piece of the eldest rock, the core of the world that lies at the heart of the mountain," he says. "And where it is now...." He brings one hand up with two fingers and thumb together and pantomimes the image of something hanging in place, then falling down and disappearing utterly.

`Spring ::What is a Void nexus? A Gate directly to the Lacuna?::

`Varanim "Huh." She leans back and begins to play the game where you jab a knife down between each of your fingers, except she only has one hand and so the crow has to play the part of the knife. "Your turn," she adds absently to Spring.

`Spring "That is where it is, but not what happened to it."

`Spring "Tell me about this rock."

`Varanim ::It's a channel that cuts between the living world and the Void without passing through Netheos first.::

`Varanim ::The last time I checked, there were seven of them reopened. Yes, I'm working on it, and no, you haven't been helping. I think that covers the standard questions from everyone?::

`Jugurtha "We needed the antithesis of life, and yet at once the antithesis of death and destruction -- that which might hang between the void and the living world with perfect, immutable balance." He makes a cylindrical shape with his hands. "The eldest rock was brought here from beyond, a solid core on which to anchor a world."

`Jugurtha "We took that rock and balanced it perfectly from ten points, that it might hold fast the closed portals of the Void Nexuses for eternity." Then he looks at zahara, and at Spring, with absolute, unbridled, raw, all-consuming hatred far in excess of any he has displayed until now.

`Jugurtha "And then you killed us," he spits, "and we fell in hate with the world, and as one we came together to untie our laces."

`Spring "I can tell you intended that to sound menacing and dramatic, but in Meruvian your noun choice was unfortunately shoelike."

`Spring "When did you...unlace this rock?"

`Jugurtha "Several months after the destruction of Abadis," he says, "after we had had time to... recover from our own."

`Spring "This eldest rock. It was brought from...Oa?"

`Jugurtha nods. "Long ago... it was a child's plaything," he says, and lowers his head.

`Spring "Is it reachable by us?"

`Jugurtha "You... can reach almost all of the way there," he says. "To the heart of the mountain."

`Varanim ::Spring,:: she says abruptly, ::what can you tell me about the roots of your world tree?::

`Spring ::We live in the branches. The roots are very, very far down, farther than anyone goes, and they are forbidden to all the Heartwood Spearfolk.::

`Spring ::It took me a long time to get there.::

`Varanim ::You can skip listing the flavors of sandwich you ate along the way, thank you.::

`Spring ::They were -- :: Spring snaps his fingers -- ::there was water.:: The three words fill Varanim's mind with resonating sounds, coupled with Spring's carefully reconstructed images of what the roots must have looked like -- endless tangles of living wood, wrapping around and through a glistening web of silvery water, extending outwards too far from the tree to follow. A parenthetical note...

`Spring ...identifies the water, based on Spring's later experiences, as coming from Letheon.

`Varanim "Ah," she says aloud. "Thank you."

`Jugurtha glares at Varanim malevolently and a little bit lasciviously.

`Spring "We were secretly discussing the vital information you were being coerced into giving us. Do not be concerned."

`Varanim "Zahara, your demon is checking me out and your tactician is frankly sort of a disaster. Are we getting to Netheos soon?"

`zahara "I could have a more suitable demon check you out if you'd prefer. Some of them can be quite amusing."

`Spring "How would we get to the heart of the mountain?"

`Varanim ::Spring, you sound as though you want to recreate their original patch job. Or are you just enjoying poking the demon now?::

`Spring ::We could do that. I was more concerned with the overall stability of Meru now that its foundation has been damaged, though.::

`Spring ::Also, I was curious.::

`Spring ::However, I am sure Zahara would find the heartstone useful.::

`zahara ::Indeed... it could be relevant to my interests.::

`Jugurtha "There is only one way to reach the heart of the mountain," he says: "...from beneath. There are pathways, routes you might be led down... especially if you can travel through the realm of the dead, through the secret places in the earth where the tunnels of Meru and Netheos overlap and mingle."

`Spring "What guards the stone?"

`Jugurtha "The Jadeborn, most secretive of the Primordials' children... as well as horrors far beyond the understanding of the living races."

`Varanim "Really? Because, I mean, we're actually pretty well-exposed to horrors at this point."

`zahara "It would be mildly amusing to task you with retrieving it."

`Spring "Tell me about the Jadeborn."

`Jugurtha "They are hundredfold," he says, "a race whose kind have never seen the sun: for they were the first sentient beings our progenitors birthed upon this crude world they had carved for themselves, and they left them deposited at its heart, to guard the heartstone, that sole possession which had traveled here from so far away."

`Jugurtha "For all of your... human" -- he spits as he says the word -- "race's time of fleeting dominance, those who know the true history of this world have laughed at you. Only those who are weak and ignorant would claim to rule Creation from a seat on the Isle when an empire a thousand times grander stretched through every inch of the mountain at its heart."

`Spring "Interesting."

`Spring "We will have to conquer them."

`Spring "Politely."

`zahara "Jugurtha, you may want to wipe your mouth, you seem to have a bit of drool going on there. It's impolite."

`Varanim ::When did you regrow imperial ambitions?::

`zahara ::When he turned briefly into a deathlord, I believe::

`Spring ::When I discovered that the ultimate fate of Meru rests in the hands of a race that is sworn to destroy us.::

`zahara ::They haven't done very well so far. Besides, haven't most of the hundredfold sworn to destroy us at one point or another?::

`Varanim ::Not to wither your throne-on, but you might want to check that's a current status before launching an invasion on the say-so of a dead demon who hates us.::

`Spring ::They are sworn to destroy us because all of the Hundredfold are banding together to destroy us. Remember?::

`Spring ::We will, at the very least, have to investigate.::

`Jugurtha looks over at Spring and Varanim with what has now ebbed to a much duller and less focused hatred. "If you have nothing else, tiny worthless beings, I have only to respond to this one's first question," he says, grudgingly indicating Spring.

`Spring "Please do."

`Varanim ::Oh, are we...:: Varanim starts, then cuts off abruptly. "Going to meditate," she says, standing up and making one hand's worth of air quotes around the last word. "Wake me up if anything interesting happens."

`Varanim Giving Jugurtha one last winning smile, she stumps below deck, leaving the crow sitting on the railing to watch the rest of the conversation with glittering eyes.

`Jugurtha leans over and, with a hideous grin, whispers something long in Spring's ear.

`Spring "Hm."


< The Liberator of Netheos | Sol Invictus Logs | The Beginning >

Page last modified on April 25, 2011, at 08:15 PM