Aeon (updated 10/9/14)


log in or register to remove this ad


TREE


[SKADDING]: What happened when the Sela died?

[BREY]: Mind does not die.

[SKADDING]: But Tramst died. The kas was destroyed.

[BREY]: Nwm the Preceptor afforded him another.

[SKADDING]: But the Sela? At this juncture – what was its nature?

[BREY]: Why would it be other than it is? Your mind is too focused on doctrinal questions. Apprehend the Moment and eschew theology.

[SKADDING]: You evade the question.

[BREY]: And will continue to do so! You must be flexible in your understanding of hypostases; rigid dogma in this area – more than any other – is detrimental to the cultivation of saizhan.

[SKADDING]: Please, indulge me. Sineig suggests that the ahmasaljan was the only component to traverse the Hahio. He said that a Flame of Oronthon was present; that it lingered, and he perceived it.

[BREY]: Perhaps such chose to reveal itself to him: how else could Sineig sense the imperceptible? The Sublime Essence. He posits a quincunx of natures in Tramst; others a quaternity. They can argue until the end of time and it will avail nothing. The Irrenite tendency to formulate mystery is apparent in this; I feel duty bound to point out that certain dubious thaumaturgic practices also accompany his point of view.

[SKADDING]: I had, in fact, considered Skohsldaur.

[BREY]: I would advise against it.

[SKADDING]: My father has voiced a similar opinion. My argument is solid.

[BREY]: And what might that be?

[SKADDING]: I have been to Heaven; you have not. I have a perspective which is difficult to communicate.

[BREY] (Wrily): So spake the Nameless Fiend! This experience must surely carry weight. Still, I find the prospect of such tension disagreeable. Who will look to my bees if I choose such a demanding vehicle?

[SKADDING]: And devotion is for old men…

[BREY]: Wise old men, Skadding. Both wise and old.

[SKADDING]: You cling to life! I knew it!

[BREY]: Cling? Not I. To me, life is a dream both surreal and utterly poignant; I have faced certain death more times than I care to count, yet still I stand here. This also affords a certain perspective; one difficult to communicate…

[SKADDING]: Saizho.

[BREY]: No. This is mundane wisdom.

[SKADDING]: Is there such a thing?

[BREY]: All Wisdom is Mundane. Saizha?


**


They reached the crest of a hill, and Eadric found himself gazing into a deep ravine. It seemed utterly wild; a virgin corner of the mountain. An ancient yew dominated the chasm, by virtue of its presence rather than its stature. They began to descend towards it, and Eadric noticed celestials in its vicinity.

"It is profoundly sapient," Rintrah explained. "More so than any in the Host. And benign – for the most part. Many devas have been drawn to it. And some former Masters. It is the Yew-ludja; the tree in the courtyard of the Temple in Morne is one of its scions."

"Are there others in the Heavens?"

"Yes and no. Yew is the only ludja here – it was invoked at the Reversal. One of Oak's scions rises on the Blessed Plain; and a Beech also – these are still profound, although of less magnitude. Others are in other places: and not all are kind. All emanate from the great Tree-ludja in Nizkur.

"They are rapidly awakening," Rintrah continued. "Tree in Nizkur seeks to generate a new axis mundi, so to speak. Nwm's portals between planes serve to mark channels for the roots of its scions. And Hlioth's efforts also. Certain magicks which have been invoked have carved paths more vigorously; transiting entities have left wakes which Tree has been quick to exploit. You might tell Nwm that his fears were unjustified: the celestial case was not asserted without cost."

"Then some kind of equilibrium is being established." The Ahma slowed his steed to a halt.

"Mind precedes, but its workings may be more subtle than you perceive in this case. And the motion of the Adversary also speeds the differentiation. Descend. I will wait here for you."

The Ahma dismounted from Narh and approached Yew quietly; an emotional state which seemed to come naturally, yet as though responding to some external demand. He walked a slow circuit around it. That it was cognizant of his thoughts and feelings – to a far greater extent than he himself was – Eadric had no doubt. The sheer weight of its consciousness was palpable.

He turned to observe Rintrah, but the great celestial was a blurred figure now receded from his mind. From a source deeper than Yew, Eadric knew, the Primordial Tree itself was generating a continuum around the ludja. A resonance which transformed that which was around it.

Devas moved aside to let him pass, whispering Ahma into his thoughts. They had acquired a quality of indefinable measure, which had set them apart from others in the Host. Taint was not the correct word, but a transformative effect of equal significance, and one to which he was sensitive. Were they now viridescent? An imprecise terminology bothered him; yet why systematize?

Viridescent, they whispered. Apparently, a point of doctrine had been made.

The boughs stretched up high above him; they seemed to bask in the Radiance pouring down from the Magnitudes. Silence, as the tree breathed Wisdom of impossible depth.

If this is Heaven, then it pleases me, Eadric thought.

He sat and prayed for the safe passage of the Sela.


**


The reincarnation of Tramst by Nwm in Nizkur was a quiet event, untroubled by any fanfare or ceremony.

Nwm proceeded to recall the wizards, affording Daunton the Diviner a far younger body than the one which the wizard had previously enjoyed. Daunton's mood improved considerably with a more youthful and dashing aspect, and a general limberness. Two massive reincarnations, followed by dozens more; invoked by Mesikammi, Lai, the Uediians, Temple Adepts sympathetic to the Reconciliation.

The roll of those who could not be recovered was long and depressing: Ninit and the boars; eight of Lai's twelve handmaidens; Temple grandees, penitents and scrollbearers; common soldiers too numerous to count.

Afterwards, Nwm arranged a meeting between Nehael and Mostin. An encounter which the Preceptor dreaded.

*

Mostin breathed with conscious measure and attempted to remain focused.

Nwm had referred to this place as Kilthei or Kinthei or Qinthei or some such: the air was pregnant with a power which Mostin had never before experienced; all seemed doused in an abundant, fertile energy. The walls which separated any number of worlds were gossamer-thin; Faerie and its primordial analogues; unnamed spirit dimensions, inhabited by monstrous animal-deities; the forgotten heavens of shamans who had been dead for a hundred generations. All were contained within the Green hollow. Each merely a step away.

A tree – the pivotal node through which Tree manifested, Mostin realized – stood above a small pond possessed of unusual clarity, upon the surface of which tiny motes of silver-green danced or floated. His own presence seemed to go unheeded. Surely not unnoticed. Dwarfed, in fact, beyond imagining. Yet it seemed merely a tree...

Nearby, Rimilin of the Skin sat cross-legged upon a flat stone, examining patterns within a leaf which the Tree had shed. He had been encysted or subsumed in some way; his Will erased, or captured and redirected. Unexpectedly, Mostin experienced a upwelling of profound empathy for the Acolyte. He turned to Nehael; her power was veiled, but still perceivable.

"Divinity becomes you," Mostin doffed his hat with his pseudopod. "Will you be taking a more proactive stance in the war?"

Nwm, standing to one side, sighed. This would be just too irritating. Ortwine observed lazily.

Nehael smiled. "I assert my inscrutability. You are here because of the Urn, Mostin. I also notice that you have Graz'zt in your robe pocket. Were I a vengeful goddess…but alas, I have no use for him. The Urn…"

"Soneillon has it."

"Yes," Teppu nodded. "This much I have determined. And for that, the prior I must assume some responsibility. Jovol's foresight was imperfect. I believe he layed a variety of other contingencies according to other possible futures."

"What are you?" Mostin fixed him with a stare.

"I have no idea," Teppu confessed. "I'll remember when I die."

"He is an agent of the Aeon," Nehael said.

"That is a theory," Teppu observed. "I have no evidence to support it. I am certainly Green; the question remains as to whether I can be both."

Nehael shrugged. "As far as culpability goes, the principal offender stands before us. Why did you send her Outside, Mostin?"

"Your judgements do not concern me," Mostin said haughtily.

"Four times Fallen now. She has escaped. Had you considered that she might build an Infinity around her?"

"You are familiar with my theories?" The Alienist was pleasantly surprised.

"I speak in a language you understand," Nehael said evenly. "I regret that the facts of the matter are incommunicable."

Mostin twitched.

"Do not mistake the truth for deific condescension," Nehael anticipated him.

"Or foresight, for that matter," she added before he could speak. "I know you well, Mostin."

"You've made your point," Mostin grumbled.

"The Viridity unfolds. The ludjas bind worlds together, but where will the remaining scions sprout? Tree is silent in this; all watch with anticipation. You should not berate yourself for abandoning the race for Azzagrat; you acted in good faith."

"I blame only Tozinak's stupidity," Mostin waved his appendage dismissively. "And his inappropriate use of oological metaphor when attempting to communicate. Nehael. What of the Aeon?"

"It is beyond my scrutiny," Nehael said. "I can offer you no advice. But I would ask you to reconsider your original plan."

Mostin cocked his head.

"The gates in Azzagrat, Mostin. You could still close them."

Mostin scowled. "Why? There is no longer any purpose."

"One single selfless act? A Flame Precedes the Aeon. What does it do, Mostin?"

"Ask your friend. He scribed it."

"My memory is poor," Teppu admitted. "You are better informed than I."

"It uncorks the Urn," Mostin explained. "In a manner of speaking. But the opportunity is passed. Did Jovol lay some kind of geas on Tozinak?"

Teppu sighed. "It is possible. He may also have been manipulated by another agent. I suspect that frustration with the imperfect game of prescience led to my abandoning it; I would urge you to do the same."

"I think not," Mostin smiled.

Nehael closed her eyes and exhaled.

Mostin condescended to give an inquiring look.

"Scions. An Oak and an Elm, north of Galda. Direct the Wyrish retreat towards them. And in response to your original question, yes."

"Reflexive is not pro-active."

"We have different methods," Nehael whispered. "Didn't you know? You may remain in Nizkur for now; I grant permission. Please refrain from disruptive activities."

"Permission?"

"Necessarily, when at war, a wise dictator invokes martial law," Nehael said drily.

"I also understand that you have seduced a clutch of Seraphim?"

Ortwine raised an eyebrow.

"News travels fast," Teppu sighed. "Or your sources are remarkably well-informed. And I have not even spoken with them. Tree has already dispatched them on various errands."

"The nature of which you are inclined to reveal?" The Alienist asked.

"If I knew what they were, I might."

Abruptly, the hairs on Ortwine's neck stood on end. Mostin's eyes bulged. A crescendo of magical energy which became almost deafening.

A pulse of tremendous power emanated from Tree. Dimension waxed sharp or retreated. A cascade of fortifying waves. Impregnability. Afterwards, silence. Somehow, the matrix possessed a pattern familiar to Mostin.

"What just happened?" Ortwine asked.

"NonGreen forms of interplanar travel have been discontinued," Teppu clapped.

"What?" Mostin's jaw dropped.

"Where?" Ortwine asked.

"Just this world," Nehael smiled. "Dreamers are unaffected."

"I do not dream," Mostin spoke the word as though it were an unsavory habit. "Is this a permanent imposition?"

"I would rather see it as a means to end other, temporary, impositions," Nwm grinned broadly.

Mostin flailed. "Well, you would. Your tree just dimensionally locked the whole damn planet. And what about my tower? What am I going to do now?"

"I recommend tree stride," Nwm said earnestly.

Mostin glared at Nehael. "And closing the gates? Recovering the Urn? How do you suggest I accomplish this?"

"Nwm. Hlioth. Or you could petition Cherry directly. Be careful – Cherry is a tricky one. And my instinct is that this is a temporary measure, if that is any consolation."

"If temporary means 'one billion years' then no, not particularly," the Alienist glared. "And exempting dreamers leaves a lot of big holes."

"Dream will be monitored," Nehael smiled.

The Seraphim, Mostin knew.

"A number of myriads have also joined them," Nehael caught the thought.

"The other scions?" Ortwine peered at her. "Are they all…sprouting? Do you know where they are?"

"Not all," Nehael shook her head. "Some will remain hidden."

"Restricting traffic is wise," Ortwine nodded. "How do I get to Afqithan?"

"I believe previous portals will remain open," Nwm answered. "You should have asked me where they were earlier."

"Evidently," Ortwine raised an eyebrow.

"This is intolerable," Mostin spat. "I will find a way to circumvent this."

"No, Mostin, you will not," Nehael regarded him gravely. "For a little while, be patient. There are things specifically excluded or trapped here now against their will which dwarf you in significance. Perhaps it is better that you are restrained, or at least monitored."

"I?" He was incredulous.

"Mostin," she drew close. All notion of sophistry had vanished from her demeanour; she spoke into the core of his being. "Believe me when I say that I honour you and love you, Mostin, because such is my nature; but you must recognize that what you are – how you see and what you do – these things are anathema to me. You possess a potential for horror which disturbs me.

"And this," Nehael smiled as a clump of moss and sod grew in her hand. "This is Mine, Mostin. All of it. You are a guest. Don't forget it."

"Currently, I am a prisoner," Mostin seethed.

"If you wish egress, petition one who can transport you; I will do it if you request. I will take you outside – but not Outside. You will need to negotiate at a Green concursion if you wish to return inside. Unless you wish to dream."

"Bah!" Mostin grunted. "And what is a 'concursion' supposed to be?"

"A node. Interface. Gate."

"And how might I recognize these?"

"The scions, Mostin," Nehael smiled wrily. "Or in some cases, the ludjas themselves."

"I need to appeal to trees to be allowed to go about my normal business? Many of which, by your own admission, 'will remain hidden?'"

"Essentially, yes. Or one of we five."

Mostin looked around. Nehael. Teppu. Hlioth. Nwm. Mesikammi.

Ah. Those five.

"Where are the ludjas themselves?" the Alienist demanded. "Assuming that you can be at least that forthcoming."

"Here in Nizkur: Oak, Elm and Ash. Others in the Beatitudes, Throile, Azzagrat. On Avernus; in Faerie. In Mulhuk. In the Hidden Realm. Five have yet to manifest themselves…"

"Hidden Realm?"

"I can show you," Mesikammi offered.

"Your reality?" Mostin groaned. "You're as mad as I am. And what is this talk of Trees in Hell?"

"Some equilibria must be forced," Nehael smiled.


**


They gathered at Mostin's manse in the Forest of Nizkur; the building had acquired an eccentric turret of modest proportions, oddly at ease with the prevailing aesthetic and comfortable in the sylvan surroundings. The Infernal Tower's now-inaccessible extradimensional interior – like that of much of the manse itself – meant that Mostin had a much reduced living space. Nwm, and a number of goddesses, saints and wizards crowded around the Alienist's kitchen table.

Mostin had considered the significance of the Inertia of the Spheres – as he had scathingly termed Tree's reordering of planar reality – and determined that it was, in fact, utterly beyond his ability to bypass. He sighed, handing Nwm a piece of paper with many numbers and symbols scrawled upon it. It meant nothing to the Preceptor, whose magic was instinctive; the Alienist explained with forced patience.

"Half of the flamines have been consumed: tasty morsels, I'm sure. Many reservoirs are drained. The Pall of Dhatri is out of reach, and will likely remain so in any case. You can banish the Eater of Light; if you do, then you can say good-bye to those whom it ate. If you were to destroy it, they would be liberated: this would be preferable. Slay it. It'll hurt, but you've got enough juice at a stretch. Let me configure the spell, as I am otherwise now at a loose end." More than a hint of bitterness was present in Mostin's voice.

Nwm nodded.

Ortwine smiled coolly, and turned to Nwm. "I have a question. Did you really need to kill the Sela, or were you just making a point?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"I'm glad that you're carefully considering the ramifications of your actions," Mostin said acidly. "It's not like you've caused any problems so far."

"I approve of Tree's interdiction," Tahl spoke wearily. "The progress of Shvar Choryati has been slowed drastically. All enemy movements must also now occur conventionally."

Mulissu nodded. "I no longer need to invest more than half of my energy simply to maintain Fumaril's defense. We are in a better position than we were twelve hours ago."

"And elementals are considered sufficiently 'Green' to pass muster," Mostin complained.

"And I am tired of your incessant whining," Mulissu sighed. "Do you have nothing useful to contribute?"

"No," Mostin replied, staring at Nwm. "But I have a good many questions. What is Gihaahia's role in this? Why did you wake up with her looming over you?"

"I don't know that she has one," Nwm answered. "Her mandate is … not incompatible … with the exclusion. Perhaps Nehael has spoken with her."

"The succubus in her is exerting its charms," Ortwine said approvingly. "You can't keep a good demon down. She'll snare them all."

"Not all."

Ortwine shrugged. "Tree is acquiring an exciting variety of thralls. I believe I chose the right side."

"I have no doubt that you'll be on the winning side," Nwm remarked drily. "As to information which I possess to which you are not privy – yes, in a manner of speaking. Insofar as that nothing which has happened surprises me, although I wouldn't exactly say I've anticipated anything, either."

Tahl stood abruptly. "The Ahma has returned. He is at Galda, ordering the defense.

"Splendid. Assemble the minions," Ortwine waved her hand.

"And none of the other Great Wyrish Wizards have anything to contribute?" Mostin inquired.

"Not especially," Daunton said vaguely. "Do you think I should keep the beard?"

"Your hospitality is diminished," Waide grumbled. "Where are your fruit teas gone? And those little cakes? Your simulacrum is less attentive to replenishing your pantry than Orolde; she spends the day reclining, reading your insane scrawl."

Mostin had to agree. "I need a new apprentice."

"I have gnomes," Ortwine suggested.

Mostin's head bobbed. Gnomes were agreeable enough.


**

**


Shomei the Infernal exited the trance and pondered. It was as Ugales had described: two zones within Qematiel's range, in close proximity to one another, were inscrutable. None save the Adversary might have screened areas of such size from her spell, yet Shomei doubted it was his doing. She determined to investigate the first node: she suspected it was a Power, the presence of which could only be inferred obliquely.

Qematiel – an atavistic hellfire wyrm – abode within the realm of Mahazael Amaimon, King of the Fourth Quarter. An infernal monarch whose exact mandate – other than the reprobation of delinquent devils and distinguished wicked mortals – was hidden to all save the Nameless Fiend, Amaimon was unguessably powerful. He removed himself from Hell's routine workings altogether, and concerned himself with philosophical struggles on a more rarefied level.

Shomei herself had enjoyed the arch-fiend's hospitality for a brief while, after her abduction by the Akesoli in Afqithan. The outcasts and detritus of a hundred unnamed hells and abysms found their way to his demesnes, and were tolerated or punished for unknown reasons; Wyre's Enforcer had made her abode nearby, until she had been plucked to serve as the Claviger's slave.

Shomei armed herself with magic and opened a gate; she passed through into a blasted defile. Lightning wracked the dark skies. Descending carefully, she crossed poisonous rills and found herself in a wide, flat-bottomed canyon. A great thicket – an untended hazel coppice of willful aspect – filled much of it. It murmured power to her; Shomei paused suspiciously, unsure if it was a deific illusion or an empty lure set as some test.

Without warning, fire overhwelmed her and a great claw pushed her a hundred yards through the air, pinning her to the wall of the ravine. A vast, horned head reared before her; ancient draconic eyes – full of wisdom and malice – regarded her briefly, absorbing a thousand details in a glance. They rested on the sigils which the Infernalist bore upon her forehead.

"An Exempt." Qematiel snorted. "I am still inclined to break your body; the Tree recognizes you. It would have otherwise."

Shomei managed to scowl even as she writhed in pain. A ludja? Here? By whose permission?

Tree needs no permissions, Hazel whispered into her mind.

But which was the other? The second un-scryable area?

A brief, unendurable pain as barbs seemed to sink into Shomei's mind: evidently the other ludja was also fully aware of her thoughts. There was the looming threat of an execration so powerful that it would extinguish her.

Holly, she knew. She breathed deeply, mustered her will, and stared straight into Qematiel's eyes.

"What passes here?" Shomei the Infernal asked. The question was possessed of terrific power.

Qematiel regarded her quizzically; none before had ever been audacious enough to attempt to dominate her. It was a fair effort.

"You amuse me. I am not sure. But my role in it – after an eternity of preparation – is not the one I had anticipated."

"And the I?"

"It has migrated," the Wyrm replied. "As will I. Hell is receding."


**


In a dark abysm, Soneillon reflected on her circumstances. Events had not transpired as she might have preferred.

Atop her palace – a vast ziggurat which rose a mile into the skies above dense jungle – a tree had sprouted in a garden, sinking roots through marble and adamant, and fruiting in an instant: an event which coincided exactly with the return of the demoness – bearing Pharamne's Urn – from the wreck of Zelatar. It bore huge, ripe cherries which exuded an irresisitible odor.

The demoness had warded herself in a heartbeat and retreated to a remote fastness, even as the tree had reached out to her mind and urged her to descend. She felt its consciousness pursue her, and she transported herself again. And again. She could not elude it.

Soneillon cursed, fled deep into a chthonic dream - a delirium of unbeing - and brooded.


**
 
Last edited:


pnakotic

First Post
Is it just me or is Mostin getting the short end of the stick a lot lately?
New restrictions, new reprimands and his plans failing on him.
Might be his low Alien creepiness/charisma score/related skills playing a part on the first two of course.
Also awesome update yet again, Sep! :)
 



grodog

Hero
It sounds like things may be drawing to a close, as great reconciliation beings to loom on the horizon?!?? :heh:

Although perhaps not with Soneillon, hmmm? :hmm:
 

Nightbreeze

First Post
Wh-what?
What are those trees doing?

A funny side note: I had an npc put up a Quiescence of the Spheres during a massive battle in my campaign. My players freaked out.
 


Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top