Aeon (updated 10/9/14) - Page 119


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    Obsession – Part 3



    “Your friends have arrived,” Soneillon raised an eyebrow. “In the village. They are warded against perception – poorly. Are we entertaining, tonight? Should I send Carasch to greet them?”

    “You sense of humor is singular,” Eadric smiled, but his face was etched with pain, as one who has experienced great anguish. “Who is here?”

    “The Uediian and the sidhe – and also Hlioth. I have killed her once already; perhaps she liked it and is returning for more. Mostin is not with them; I suspect he is avoiding me: he still owes me Graz’zt.”

    “Why did they not simply issue a sending?”

    Soneillon gesticulated vaguely. “I confess that a number of signals have been deflected.”

    “How many?” Eadric squinted.

    “I did not count. Besides, it’s better that you have company on your return to Galda. Your horse is ready; Mazikreen has taken care of him. She has become rather attached.”

    “He seems to have that effect. You are a curious creature, Soneillon.”

    “Yes?” She fastened a garland of black lotuses around his wrist.

    “What will you do now?”

    “I will brood and pine desperately, Eadric. Or perhaps I should instead fortify my position against the coming storm – which may blow from any number of directions, or from all at once. Shomei musters her devils; the Fourth Effluxion is moving – I do not relish that meeting. Dhatri’s host is marching. Desire – the Cherry – is active. And your first girlfriend has a new persona; we’ll see how that plays out. Let’s hope that you don’t like her more than me.”

    “Of what do you speak?” He asked suspiciously.

    “I would hate to spoil the surprise,” she replied drily.

    “Shomei may still be open to dialogue,” Eadric suggested. “I have not given up on her.”

    “Maybe. Or she may simply dominate you at your next encounter; she is the assertive type. Although, perhaps you’d like that too.”

    “You are impossible.”

    “Thank-you,” she gave a small nod. “I try not to take things too seriously.”

    “You need not remain here.”

    “I am not tied to this place, Eadric; I come and go as I please. But prudence demands that I strengthen a bulwark, and this one is better than most. And it would appear that Nehael – your Eleos – has been of some use after all; she has struck a delicate balance, which compromises neither my solidity here, nor your attachment to this particular plot of earth. I should ask you to thank her for me when you next pray to her, but I won’t; it would be an inauthentic request.”

    “Do you care to explain?” He asked.

    “You will discover when you leave. Don’t you ever like surprises, Eadric?”

    “Generally, no,” he said grimly. “It would appear that the lacuna has passed. If another should arise, I will return.”

    “Of course you will, Ahma.” She smiled darkly. Her eyes were fathomless voids. “And things need not always be so harrowing; your courtesy and forbearance have earned my gratitude. But I have known you in death: you are now mine. And I don’t share well.”

    She pressed a scarf of black samite into his hand, and curled his fingers tightly around it.

    *

    Fresh snow had fallen, blanketing the courtyard; the winter sun was wan. Eadric looked upon the Blackthorn cautiously, as if his gaze alone might invoke malignancy from it, but it seemed subdued, as though its song had changed in some way. He closed the door to the keep behind him, and turned to pull a handful of dead ivy away from the wall, but green leaves had begun to shoot. He paused, confused, and lowered his hand.

    Eleos, he knew, and understood Soneillon’s words.

    The Ahma made his way to the gatehouse, and slowed to regard the Steeple where Carasch roosted; the demon seemed not to have moved a hair’s breadth. A shadow of darkness passed across his mind; again, the same feeling of dread and foreboding oppressed him, as he felt the chthonic’s eyes follow him. He shook it off with effort, and trudged forward.

    “Nice horse,” Mazikreen handed him the reins to Narh. “Come again.”

    Eadric climbed into the saddle, rode through the gate, across the bridge, and straight for Deorham. He did not look back to the Burh.

    Within, Soneillon brooded.


    **


    “You knew,” Ortwine glared at Nwm. “And so did you.” She glared at Hlioth.

    “Yes,” Nwm laughed. Beer-foam clung to his beard; the Twelve Elms was thronging with activity.

    “I did not. This irks me,” Ortwine continued.

    “You are attuned to darker currents, Ortwine,” Hlioth sighed. “And none of us can see everything.”

    “These benches are still filthy. And why is there a hole in the ceiling?”

    “Should we go to the Burh, I wonder?” Nwm mused.

    “We wait,” Hlioth replied. “He will come here, or will not. She can see us.”

    A short time passed, and Eadric entered.

    Hlioth quickly spoke a spell, masking the Ahma from the inevitable attention – and subsequent religious hysteria – which his presence was likely to provoke.

    He nodded in gratitude, and sat.

    “Gods, you look terrible,” Ortwine observed. “I’d offer a quip, but even that seems inappropriate. Nice bracelet, by the way.”

    Eadric shook his head.

    “Did you encounter the rot? How was it?”

    “Ugly.” Eadric scowled.

    Ortwine sniffed her wine disapprovingly, and placed it on the table. “Nehael seems to have reversed it. But the cordon set by the ludja is still in place. We are inscrutable; although apparently not to Soneillon. Did Nehael communicate with you regarding her intervention here?”

    He shook his head. “At Galda, I invoked the Eleos; I prayed for the safeguarding of Deorham – of all within the Blackthorn’s range. I must assume that she listened; or she chose to act thus anyway.”

    “A goddess who listens sets a worrying precedent,” Ortwine remarked. “And if Shomei comes here now?”

    “I may have to forbid it outright,” Eadric replied.

    Forbid?” Nwm asked sceptically. “One does not forbid Shomei the Infernal anything. If you set yourself up as Law; she will be forced to confront you.”

    “She will not attack me. I am the Ahma.”

    “Are you sure?” Nwm inquired.

    “No,” Eadric admitted.

    “Is there an alternative?”

    “I would prefer to avoid conflict here. Attempting another dialogue with Shomei is the first step. But I will not have Soneillon assailed for no reason…”

    Ortwine groaned. “You are blind, Eadric. This girl has you mixed up.”

    “…other than the fact that she possesses something which Shomei wants. Yes, Ortwine? You are about to present some solid, ethical case? A sound reason why I should allow half of Trempa to perish in smoking ruins, whilst demons and devils run amok and Carasch slugs it out with a half-dozen fallen seraphim? I am sorry, but because Shomei wants is not a compelling argument to me.”

    Carasch?” Ortwine asked.

    “I was coming to that. He is at the Burh. Climb up the ridge above the North Road; you will see him perched on the Steeple.”

    “And he will see you,” Hlioth said. “I advise against it.”

    “And Soneillon is the innocent party, here?” Ortwine spoke contemptuously. “There is no greater demon than this one, Ahma.” The religious appellative was pronounced with some derision.

    “I know it well!” Eadric snapped. “He has haunted my imaginings for longer than you know; since first I heard his name. And now he is at the Burh? Do not worry, Ortwine; the irony is not lost on me. And trust me: in person he is worse than in your darkest nightmares. I do not doubt that he could extinguish all life within a hundred miles – but, as of yet, no rampage has ensued.”

    “And you are confident that your psychotic inamorata is trustworthy?” Ortwine exuded pure acid. “Or even capable of containing this monster? This is where I question your judgment, Eadric.”

    “Soneillon asked me one question – and one only – to which I have attached value throughout this: If not by my action, then how will you judge me?. For one who advocates repeatedly and in varied guises for Shomei’s case – and I suggest you question your own motivation in that regard – the notion of agency and its implications should strike a particular resonance.”

    The sidhe smiled coldly. “Let us hope that your suspense of judgment – and your action – is vindicated.”

    Nwm coughed. “You said yourself that Cheshne was awakening, Ortwine. That Soneillon is not who she was.”

    “And at no point did I suggest that I trusted her,” Ortwine groaned.

    “There is something else,” Hlioth spoke through gritted teeth. “Shomei seeks to woo the ritual pool offered by the Academy, and bribe leading members of the Collegium. Mostin has committed himself to protect the Articles – and curiously enough, I believed him, because he believed himself – but until the Articles are actually threatened, he will not act. Gihaahia will prompt him; she is leaning on him – and Daunton. In the meantime, he may try to reason with Shomei – he may be the only one who can slow the meteor. Or she may attempt to sway him; and she is the superior rhetorician.”

    Nwm nodded. “She is smarter than Mostin. Shomei presses hard against every barrier. She tests her exemption to the limit. For what it’s worth, I don’t think she’ll strike here until Dhatri reaches the envelope of the scions at Galda. I suspect that she will force you to choose, Eadric, or split your force. And perhaps I should keep my mouth closed in future, and learn from the Ahma’s mistakes: if the wizards do find a goddess in Gihaahia, then a reign of dark magic is imminent.”

    “Her parentage is mixed,” Hlioth said archly. “She is the daughter of Astaroth and the Void; it might behoove us to remember this fact – it is apt enough. Forces other than the Claviger may be seeking to manifest through her.”

    “We are a muddled and incestuous pantheon,” Ortwine sighed.


    **


    :: Mostin ::

    Begone, Vhorzhe. I have nothing to say to you.

    :: Soneillon has abandoned us, Mostin ::

    I don’t blame her. Now, begone!.

    *

    Roses of life?” Daunton grinned broadly, brandishing a scroll. The two wizards were closeted in an obscure nook of Hell’s library. Mostin wondered if they might need a spell to find their way out again.

    “I am beginning to understand Shomei’s strategy,” Mostin sighed. “We will spend the next thousand years searching for and transcribing exotic dweomers, whilst she suborns the Academy and uses it for whatever she wants. And we shall be perfectly happy. How long have we been here, anyway?

    “I have no idea,” Daunton mumbled. He brushed dust off a green tome entitled The Fortification of the Skin. “It’s a shame Rimilin is gone. He’d like this one.”

    “Why are we even here?” Mostin asked. “We don’t need any of this.”

    “No, you don’t.” Shomei had appeared from nowhere behind them. Daunton started. She seemed inordinately calm and focused. “And you have been here for nine hours. But there are transvalents; some were struck by the Adversary. Would you care to see them?”

    Mostin twitched. His heart pounded. “And you have not committed them to your armamentarium?”

    “There are more than a few. Most are beyond my ability – or yours – to cast,” she smiled. She did not need to add the word yet.

    “Proceed,” Daunton said enthusiastically.

    “Your library persona is an agreeable one,” Mostin observed.

    “This is my passion, Mostin. You know this. I am most me here; I would not have you think that a quest for raw power has blinded me to what is important for my I – which is, and remains, the pursuit of knowledge. Now, follow me.”

    She led them through winding corridors, past dens and studies, between stacks of books and down flights of steep stairs. They skirted repositories and scriptoria; passed through secret panels and hidden doors. All was silent, and musty. Finally, she produced a small key and opened an iron postern at the rear of a room crammed with scrolls. They descended yet more stairs, until they reached an open space. Ahead was an area of dead magic. Shomei gestured for them to proceed; the Alienist paused uncertainly.

    “I would not cut the claws from the cat and then leave him at home with the fox,” Mostin said through narrowed eyes.

    “Mostin…”

    He assumed his pseudonatural shape.

    “Then you will have me at a disadvantage,” she sighed. “Because the cat just became a wolf.”

    The hall beyond was cavernous, a hundred fathoms tall, and stretched as far as Mostin’s many eyes could see ahead of him. Their footsteps – and his slitherings – echoed within. In the vaulted ceilings, great ruddy lights glowed at intervals, illuminating the contents: countless slabs - of adamant, marble, alabaster, steel, jade and obsidian - attached by clamps to soaring cables. A vast infernal apparatus controlled the assembly above; pulleys, derricks and sheaves arranged with impossible intricacy.

    They followed as Shomei made her way to a booth which contained an array of levers and switches. She initiated a complex operation; wheels span, gears ground, and a single slab – a hundred yards distant – slowly swung out into the chamber and towards them.

    When it reached them, she lowered it into a waiting channel: it was a plaque of diabolic steel, three feet wide and six high. As she released its clamp, another, like a vice, contracted to grip it. It stood upright before them. Daunton gaped. Mostin reached out, and ran a pseudopod over the embossed glyphs and sigils. It was a thing of beauty.

    The Irrefutable Argument, it read. It was a spell which had been in effect when the Nameless Fiend had precipitated the Fall; when unnumbered billion celestials had been seduced to his cause.

    “This is Knowledge, Mostin. This is my legacy; I am the librarian of Hell.”

    “Yes,” he quivered. Shomei read it as a nod.

    “I am making an appeal to you.”

    “I understand,” he hissed. Shomei heard it as a sigh.

    *

    Daunton sat within her study; Shomei poured kschiff. Mostin stood, looking at the Accord which hung above the mantlepiece.

    “Temenun has offered an alliance.” She nodded toward the cherries which still rested on their plate. “He suggests that I marry the remaining Hazel scion to a Cherry which grows in Nivorn. I am reluctant to conflate Will and Desire for obvious reasons. But with his Anantam and the succubi in Throile – who bear no great love for their former mistress – I am looking at the twelve-hundredth order. I can do a lot with that.”

    “But you would prefer to use the Wyrish Academy,” Mostin finished for her. “Because they are known, safer, more passive – but they also represent the body which Gihaahia is mandated to uphold.”

    “Touch,” Shomei raised her glass. “I find it hard to believe that the Enforcer will censure a majority, if it comes to infraction.”

    “I don’t,” Daunton grumbled. “She is a tyrant, not an elected representative.”

    “I have tried the more wholesome route,” Shomei sighed. “I cannot make headway. The Ahma is stubborn and irrational, and refuses to engage with his own potential. Those who practice saizhan are difficult to inspire – except the Irrenites, who are a small minority and whom I have yet to approach. I do not feel compassion – and I am not one wont to make empty gestures. I went to see the Sela yesterday.”

    Mostin groaned. “You are certainly exhausting all avenues. What is it with you and Oronthon, anyway?”

    “I cannot explain. I was confused, angry and depressed. His perspective is beyond all others. There is no judgment in him.”

    “And he offered a solution? Or absolution?”

    “Actually, neither. He offered tea. And a mirror to look in.”

    “And what did you see?” Mostin asked cynically. “Note that I do not afford much credence to his mystical posturing.”

    “That my I is relational, and does not exist in a vacuum,” she shrugged.

    “That is all?” Mostin scoffed. “I might have told you that.”

    “But you didn’t, Mostin. That’s the point. Regardless, I need help – not compactees and servants and indentured mages, but willing partners. To retrieve the Urn. To master Hummaz. To correct the Morphic and end the Claviger-Enforcer’s tyranny. To propagate knowledge. Is this goal not worthy?”

    “And you would have me play Belial to your Adversary,” Mostin said acidly. “Did the Sela also whisper in the ear of the Nameless Fiend before the Fall?”

    “Actually, I think you would know my answer to that.”

    “It is no surprise, then, the spell which you chose to show us,” the Alienist remarked.

    “There is a certain symmetry; it is hard to deny.”

    “And you would then elect yourself as the new arcane factum?” Mostin inquired drily.

    “I am a librarian, Mostin. It is only natural.”


    **
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Sunday, 1st January, 2012 at 12:21 AM.

 

  • #1182
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    Is it wrong to love and hate Shomei at the same time?
    Robert Blezard

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    It's the only way :-)

    Another wicked update - I had to abandon my New Year's party when I got the notification :-) Great stuff - thank you Sep and Happy New Year to you and all in Wyre!
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    Shomei puts the I in Library - and in Τὸ Μεγα Θηρίον!
    Pursuing irrational ends by any means necessary.

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    Thanks Sep, and Happy New Year!

    FYI, the pic for Winchester Cathedral is missing:

    Winchester Cathedral. Actual floorplan prototype for the Fane in Morne. Needless to say, my favorite cathedral. I don't know what a copper beech is doing there; it should be a Yew:

  • #1186
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    Obsession – Part 4


    Turel and Rumyal – two infernal seraphim – and Irel, Who Smites, passed swiftly through the skies above the frozen River Nund; three flights of dark exemplars accompanied them. Warded and augmented by Shomei, all were inscrutable to any but the most probing eyes. They flew east, and skirted the compass of the Blackthorn near Droming. Irel gyred and broke away. The mighty deva cast his gaze – unrivalled amongst celestial princes, fallen or otherwise – toward Deorham and Kyrtill’s Burh, one of Wyre’s holiest sites: the birthplace and earthly dwelling of the Ahma. It was impenetrable; his sight could not pierce the shroud which Soneillon had set about the place.

    Twelve miles distant, the demoness herself stood upon the Steeple beneath the shadow of Carasch – a smoldering void which had yet to erupt to blistering rage – and stretched lazily. The great chthonic had seen them . Was Shomei baiting her, or testing the limit of her perception? Or was this a simple reconnaissance? Soneillon considered: to act would be to disclose; to ignore, to dissemble.

    She chose to act.

    Carasch turned his thought on them, casually smashing their protections.

    Soneillon materialized within the main flight and spoke a soundless syllable, unleashing oblivion. Turel and Rumyal, Great Antagonists who had previously offered counsel to the Adversary himself, were instantly extinguished along with eighteen devas.

    She disappeared.

    Irel alone remained.

    Soneillon reappeared, and her speed was blinding. Tendrils of void lashed the fallen prince, stripping away ens like vapor, and flinging his mace from his hands. She hissed, and drove him into the ground in a tempest, claws sinking through his throat and chest and pinning him. Ichor steamed as it poured from his massive frame, staining the snow black; his strength ebbed from him.

    She paused, and smiled.

    “My, but you are the pretty one,” Her eyes widened and her wings curled. “And you are unbound; without compact: I believe she likes you – how delicious! It is so tempting to steal you. Alas! My heart belongs to another. But now I am feeling tender; she may keep you. Invoke your mistress by name.”

    The deva was silent.

    She raised an eyebrow. “Presently, I am keeping you from dying, Irel, and it would be sad to lose one as beautiful as you. Do you trust that your spirit will fly to the winds; or will it go to the Tree-Bitch for reallocation – perhaps, as a wood-gnome or troll? Heaven is lost to you, and there is no time to show you the Void. She may save you – if she cares for you. Speak.”

    “Shomei,” he choked. Ichor welled in his mouth.

    She brought her face close, and her grip relaxed. She moved over him.

    “Good…” She breathed softly in his ear. She lifted her head and smiled at Shomei, whose infernal perception had been drawn there.

    Soneillon gently withdrew her talons, and vanished.


    **


    Shomei tapped her fingers. She picked up a bottle of kschiff and hurled it against a bookcase. Hellfire crawled over her.

    Mostin smiled unsympathetically. “You’re in way over your head; she has fifteen billion years on you, and she enjoys this. Perhaps you are beginning to appreciate the magnitude of this task?”

    “How did she see them?”

    “I could not say,” Mostin replied. “Probably a transvalent. She may have allies.”

    “I spent a third of my reservoir repairing Irel’s wounds. They just wouldn’t heal. His cohesion was…wrong.”

    “You are fortunate she simply obliterated the others,” Mostin observed drily.

    “If you were to send your s…”

    Mostin became irritable. “Shomei, you may be exempt from the Injunction – and I say may be, because much has yet to be tested – but one thing is certain: I am not. You asked me here for advice, and I will give it to you: let this go. You are simply unprepared for this endeavor; if you do actually attack her and she survives and escapes do you really think that she will calmly forgive? Do you think Eadric – I’m sorry, the Ahma – will? Now, I am going to offer you some perspective again, because it is apparent to me that at this point that she has acted with the utmost restraint with regard to you…”

    “I don’t need this, Mostin...”

    “…by not already annihilating you. And if you don’t think she could have accomplished this, had she set her mind to it, then you are stupid. Perhaps Eadric has restrained her; perhaps her perspective is other than we can guess. And she let you keep your favorite toy; although what you see in those hideous, feathery monsters is beyond me.”

    Shomei glared at him. “She drew first blood, Mostin, not I.”

    “And I think she might cite provocation as a reasonable defense; frankly, I would be inclined to agree with her. You are the lawyer; what do you think? Perhaps we should ask Gihaahia to mediate – although Soneillon’s exemption with regard to the Injunction is not in question. Do not give her a casus belli.

    “I cannot slow now, Mostin.”

    “You must!” He was exasperated.

    “No; I cannot. It is what I am.

    “Then you should repair to your library,” he said grimly. “Or stay safely within the compass of the Hazel, because if you begin this and then step beyond its bounds – and are not prepared to finish what you’ve started – then she will find you and extinguish you. You will make a prison for yourself, Shomei; and that is symmetry.”

    “Will you aid me?”

    “I am disinclined,” he replied.

    “If you were to speak to the Ahma; find out what transpired at Deorham. He has returned to Galda…”

    “I will not spy for you Shomei. If you have questions for Eadric, ask them yourself.”

    “Mostin. Please. Then use the Web of Motes. At least let me know what I’m dealing with that I haven’t foreseen.”

    He stood and sighed. “I will contact you in one hour. Do not ask me for anything else. Here.”

    He took off his hat – his favorite ochre felt, with its wide brim somewhat charred – and placed it on her head.

    *

    Exactly one hour later, Shomei received a sending which contained only one word: Carasch.

    She sat and tapped her fingers. Time elapsed.

    She translated to Galda for the final time.


    **


    “I see you bear your rod,” Eadric said dubiously. “Are you here to coerce me this time?”

    “It is a preventative measure,” Shomei explained. “May I sit?”

    He gestured toward a chair. “I am not about to assail you, Shomei. I’m glad you came. I have been considering how to approach you.”

    Ahma, I lost twenty of my best devils earlier today in an unprovoked attack by your lover.”

    “Unprovoked?” He asked sceptically. “Would you like kasshiv? It’s all I have left – Nwm and Ortwine drank everything else.”

    “Yes.” She raised an eyebrow at his pronunciation. “My servants were reconnoitering over Trempa; they were beyond the compass of the Blackthorn.”

    “I did not realize a formal exclusion zone had been established,” he said drily, pouring a goblet for her. “Shomei, I have been pondering how to deal with this situation and I’m at a loss. I cannot seem to appeal to you; I cannot risk forbidding you for fear of provoking the Antinomos in you to an immediate response: I do not wish to come to blows with you. But you are flouting every law conceivable: Wyrish, magickal, ethical and religious. What would you have me do?”

    “Enkindle your potential, Ahma. But you do not seem interested in assuming this responsibility.”

    “That is a larger question which we may return to,” Eadric sighed. “In the meantime I must consider the wellbeing of those whom I am charged to protect; I am Earl Marshal of Wyre, Shomei: I must defend it, regardless.”

    “You know that Carasch is aiding her, of course?”

    “He is her watchdog. I have encountered him. He is terrifying. It is not germane to this discussion.”

    “I lost two seraphs in her ambush, Ahma.”

    “They ceased being seraphim at the beginning of the last Aeon, Shomei.”

    “Yet the Ahma would place himself as a shield before this chthonic abomination?” She asked.

    “No,” he groaned. “But he would place himself as a shield before the inhabitants of Trempa. There are limits on the number of devils which even you can conjure and compel, Shomei. If you send them in waves, will she be able to kill them quicker than you can call more? Or perhaps you will muster a large force, and she will entrench further: and the longer the buildup, the worse for everyone.”

    Shomei looked hard at him. “Not all devils need to be compelled, Ahma. Only a key few – and then, only persuaded. I could end this all very quickly.”

    His eyes flickered nervously. “I do not follow.”

    “Azazel still bears the standard; two hundred legions accompany him. There is no longer a Celestial Interdict.”

    A look of horror crossed his face. “You would do this? Raise that banner over Wyre?”

    “I would prefer not to, but I must have the Urn, Ahma.”

    “By invoking the eschaton? And you dub Soneillon psychotic?”

    “She is,” Shomei smiled thinly. “I am merely determined. And the eschaton has been and gone, Ahma. We are what’s left.”

    “And if I were to demand of you – command you – how would you respond?”

    Shomei shook her head. “Please do not force me to make that choice, Ahma. It would not sit well with me.”

    “Indeed? For one who asserts the Ahma as central to their paradigm I am sure it would cause you some discomfort.”

    “I simply wish you would embrace the larger reality.”

    “Then perhaps we should force the issue.” He stood grimly and drew Lukarn, gripping it below the quillons and presenting it in censure. It illuminated the interior of the tent. “By the authority…”

    “Please, Ahma...”

    “…vested in me as Ahma; the Breath of God manifest in the world…”

    Ahma…”

    “…I hereby command…”

    “Eadric. Do not…”

    “…that Shomei…”

    Her Flame ignited. She brought the full force of her will to bear through her rod; it was colossal, and should have overpowered him. Instead, there was a resonance, and a reflection, which Shomei experienced as a great gale blasting over her. His pavillion and its contents were gone, blown to the four winds. Both Shomei’s eyes and those of the Ahma became wide in astonishment; a cluster of lotuses in the garland which he wore on his wrist had turned to dust: Soneillon had warded him, and he hadn’t even known it.

    Devas and archons appeared all around him, summoned by his thought, but her presence paralyzed them; they would not strike her, only worship her. He smote her repeatedly, but her exemption protected her. Her will recommenced, unleashing a cyclone of hellfire focused on herself which could not touch him, but which slowly burned the garland to ash.

    He spoke a holy word; again, exemption sustained her.

    The firestorm increased in intensity; still the lotuses burned away. The devas were incinerated.

    Nwm – alerted and now present – struck her with a sonic of tremendous power, which echoed for miles. She weathered it, and her focus did not falter; she hurled the Preceptor aside with telekinesis.

    The last blossom turned to soot. Finally, she gripped Eadric’s mind, and dominated him.

    “I’m sorry, Ahma. It’s a preventative measure.” She wept.

    Abruptly, both Shomei the Infernal and the Ahma vanished.


    **
    **


    The goddess strode ahead impatiently.

    Teppu followed, anxiously. “What should I call you?”

    “It does not matter – call me what you wish.” Her manner was disconcertingly brusque.

    “You were Nehael before,” he suggested.

    “Then call me Nehael.”

    “But you are no longer the same.”

    “Then call me something different,” she sighed.

    “May I choose a name?” He suggested.

    “Why not?”

    “Names are important.” He explained.

    “Are they?” She asked.

    “Yes! Stop!”

    She stopped, and smiled at him. “Do you have one for me?”

    “You are not so different,” Teppu laughed. “Where are you going?”

    “This way,” she said.

    “What is this way?”

    “What I need.”

    “What…”

    ”Good,” she said. A horse stood waiting; a varnish roan mare. Strapped to the saddle was an arming sword. A bow – with flowers tied around its limbs – was fixed around its cantle, and a quiver of red-fletched arrows hung from its skirt.

    Teppu raised an eyebrow. “That bow is…”

    “Yew.”

    “And the arrows…”

    Hazel.

    “And the sword…”

    She drew it, and it rang; runes were etched into its blade: Tra.

    “Compassion?” He asked.

    She shook her head. “Pity, Teppu. One cannot slay with compassion.”

    “Where are you going now?” He asked.

    “South,” she smiled.

    “Why…”

    “The dead are there Teppu. Are you coming?”

    “Certainly,” he replied uncertainly.

    She climbed into the saddle, picked him up, and deposited him behind her.

    Moments later, they were at Cirone. Ahead, the Pall of Dhatri loomed.



    **
    Last edited by Sepulchrave II; Thursday, 5th January, 2012 at 07:26 AM.

  • #1187
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    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)



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    Ignore Zelda Themelin
    Oh, so interesting setup.

  • #1188
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    Ignore Quartz
    My communities:

    Action at last!

  • #1189
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    Mostin will be displeased, Soneillon will be livid!

    I can't wait!
    D&D, frankly, is the most fun when you get your ass handed to you but you still manage to find away to come out on top of the pile of corpses, looking like a typical Conan novel cover. - joachim

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    Ignore Cheiromancer
    So Eadric is not living up to his potential. Curious, that. I wonder what would spark *his* flame?

    Any thoughts on Shomei's and Eadric's abrupt disappearance? Was it due to Shomei's agency, or did someone else intervene? I suspect the former, but the latter is a tantalizing possibility.

    And is Shomei's brief, meteoric career approaching it's end? Sep tells us that this was her final translation to Galda.

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