Deadly Skies

Accounts of the Adamant Codex, 13

Chapter Three, Scene Two

The two circles of Meridian and Imperial sat around a coal burning fire pit wrapped in wool blankets. Raksi had spent the day playing mother hen to the whole city. It had been a strategic decision to stay at home and rest up instead of going on scouting missions. It was clear that these youngsters did not fully understand how to take care of themselves. They were not going to accomplish anything with so little sleep. It was a common mistake that young Exalts made in thinking that they were invincible just because they had more strength than they did as mortals. They had picked a small private room this time, without all the servants buzzing in and out. There were important matters to discuss.

Outside the tiny budding city of New Meru lay drenched in blood, plagued with disease. What little ground creatures that were here had all gone mad and either cannibalized each other or killed themselves. There were no birds left in the city. The recently nurtured plants also wouldn’t survive except for a couple hardy breeds bolstered by the Provider Manse’s power. The one good thing that could come of all this was perspective, and with perspective, cooperation.

“Now that we have a better understanding of what you are really up against I think it’s time that we lay aside our noble pretenses and share our secrets. If we cannot figure out how to trust each other and work together, then we will die alone on this mountain.” Raksi looked around at the circle: the same group, but each more somber than they had been two days ago. Pride is a more potent obstacle than any Deathlord, and we’ve set that aside. The thought surprised Raksi; she had always held her pride as a treasure, back before…

“I’ll just say it. We have come bearing the Adamant Codex, a repository of knowledge similar to the Book of Three Circles, but much more focused on the Elements. I believe Fate has brought us here for a reason. But first, you must show us the same trust and tell us your struggles and what we are up against.” She looked pointedly at Pyrrhus and Akaris then relaxed back against her cushions. Hopefully not too forceful. Old habits die hard.

Akaris closed her book after pretending to read it to avoid conversation. Just being around others right now was like an itch under the skin, kept in check by staring at dragon-line diagrams she had drawn earlier. She looked up, pushing her tongue hard against the roof of her mouth to keep some of the frustration in check before speaking.

“We are up against unstoppable magic Raksi.” She started, trying not to sound irritated – it certainly wasn’t the Lunar’s fault they were in this situation. If anything, it was her actions that brought Mistress down upon the city. How stupid of her to think that she could judge a Deathlord. How stupid of her to think that the holy mountain pushed everything in the favor of the Solars. No, the Neverborn had set up a stronghold where she never dreamed they were capable of.

“It is clear my sorcery isn’t developed enough, and quite honestly never will be.” Her mood shifted slowly back to inquisitive, shedding some of the ire. “Who can stand against the pinnacle of Necromantic energies? At best, Solar circle could only keep it in check. My gathering of the Court of Seasons was intended to serve as a bridge to gap that power I cannot provide.” She looked back down at one of the diagrams. “Even the dragon lines can only do so much without the full sorcerous knowledge to harness them.”

She looked back up at Raksi, a fire dancing in her azure blue eyes. “What sort of message are we sending to our Solar brothers and sisters if our combined power is still not enough to silence even one Deathlord in our own capitol?

Akaris leaned back on her pillows, picking up the perfectly warm tea sitting on a stool next to her. “That is some of what we’re up against Elder Lunar, and it is what we have been contending with for the better part of a decade.” With a sip of cryst-bloom tea, she let out a sigh, as if a great burden had been released and into the care of another.

Zaela’s pack – brought from their Airship, ignored by raksha, carried through the Pole of Wood, returned to her after Yu-Shan’s prisons, carried on the Solar Train, and ignored by ghosts and zombies – had thankfully also not been despoiled by the blood rain. It lay open beside her as she sat by the fire and listened to the Elder and elder exalts, a scatter of jewelry making tools and supplies spilling from its mouth. Zaela herself meticulously wound precious metal wire around a pretty gem she’d picked up somewhere, her hands busy while her mind paid rapt attention.

A good meal, a bath, a night’s relatively peaceful rest, clean clothes and even more food had done wonders for her outlook, and by their expressions, most of the others’ as well. But not Akaris, apparently.

“Lady – you must give yourself some credit. There are five of us, two of us not accustomed to any combat but that with words and a pen, against a Deathlord in the peak of her power. In the East, my Circle mates are preparing for a war against the Deathlord known as Walker in Darkness – and we have gathered a whole army, equipped with as many First Age weaponry as Lexicon left behind, the alliances of several Lunars, companies of Dragon-Blooded, a warstrider of staggering magnificence… and yet we still fear it will not be enough. We are prepared for a long, long war.

And yet you… You wounded her. You drove her from your city. Do not despair when blows are traded. If you two have managed so long and not broken – I know you will triumph.”

Akaris felt the Zenith’s words wash over her, feeling familiar as the warmth of the noonday sun. It brought back memories of reading on the balcony during spells of perfect weather once they fixed some of Meru’s broken weather controls.

“I suppose she didn’t escape this unscathed herself, you’re right.” She allowed herself a hopeful moment of contemplation, which evolved into an array of strategies that began drawing themselves out in her mind. This certainly wasn’t the end.

Blood enveloped Swift, it was pouring into his eyes, his ears, his mouth. He heard children crying, men and women screaming. They needed him!

“Where are you?!” When he spoke, the blood vanished, and he was in New Meru. The crimson cloud was covering the sky and some kind of blood-mist filled the streets, tainting everything red. Swift ran to the nearest building. It was dark, but he could make out some huddled shapes in the corner.

“Praise the Unconquered Sun!” He said. “Are you all okay? We need to get out of here.” He grabbed an arm and pulled. Horror swept over him as he pulled an arm away from the carcass in front of him. A feral yowl erupted from his mouth and he woke up.

Swift was sitting up, trembling and all eyes were on him. He looked around, fear rising inside him again. They knew… They knew he killed them all and they were going to make him pay. He was ready to run when a calming voice spoke up.

“Shh.” Swift looked around for the owner of the voice, but he was still too frantic to see who was speaking to him. He only knew it was friendly. “It’s okay Swift. We’re safe. You’re safe. No one is in trouble anymore.” Swift inched closer to the fire pit. He was less frantic, but he was uncharacteristically withdrawn. They were silent for a moment.

“Bareni…” Everyone looked at Swift again as he spoke up. “I was very young. We were on a mission to the Bareni tribes. My parents told me they didn’t have the kinds of things we did. They said the wyld mutations were getting bad, members of some tribes were completely consumed by their mutations.” He seemed so fragile, curled up, staring at the fire, talking about his past. No one dared interrupt him, lest they shatter him completely.

“Everything was going fine until I wandered out into the jungle.” His voice was hollow, his eyes distant. “A former tribesman turned beast was going to kill me; there was nothing else they could do. There was nothing I could do. An air aspect Dragonblood saved me that day, but if I could have been stronger… Maybe my parents would still be alive.”

He sat up a bit straighter and his eyes focused, he was now looking at the rest of them. “Now I do have the strength to fight the Wyld. I have the strength to fight the monsters that threaten our families. Yet I still couldn’t save them.” He remembered the boy he saved some time ago, Malachi.

“There is hope though. This battle may have been lost, but as our dearest Zaela said, we are fighting a war, and this is a war we will win. For the sake of creation, we must win. Even if I despair now, I will fight for those who need it. That is why I am here. May I?” A cup of tea was poured for Swift and he took a drink. “The Codex… It’s an incredible source of knowledge. We must decide how best to utilize it for the good of Creation if we can.”

Pyr set the teapot back onto the warm-plate by Akaris and settled back into a tailor’s seat, near enough the fireplace to take advantage of the warmth. He picked up one of his short daiklaves and resumed tending to the blade, the long purring strokes of the whetstone a background to conversation.

“I will leave the Codex to Akaris. Sorcery and elementals are her domain, and I fear my ignorance would only set progress back.” He paused to check the edge of the blade, then reversed it and began honing the other side. “My talents are generally more martial in nature. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have for us, in the meantime.”

“And regarding an army… I think I can raise one. Especially if any of you know a spell to allow another to experience a memory. I’ll be leading a group down the mountain soon, to speak with the Paragons.” He examined the edge again and satisfied, set the blade down and picked up the other to give it the same cleaning and honing.

“Lady Raksi. I am sorry we did not get a chance to be properly introduced earlier. I am pleased to see you returned to sagacity. Was there something in specific you wished to know of us?”

Raksi nodded solemnly at Swift. “I am sorry for your loss. I know what that feels like.” Raksi was silent for a time. “While it’s true we are stronger, and we have a duty to protect others, that will not insulate you from loss. In some ways it’s more intense now. You can drive yourself crazy trying to control everything” she stared off for a moment then looked to Pyrrhus.

“We were not introduced the first day for a reason. I have spent too much time on a throne and not enough time listening. It was my plan to simply observe, but my friend Swift introduced me to make a point to the Mistress. Then it seemed only right to help when the monsoon started. I am not here to enforce my will. I’d much rather hear your stories.” She looked around the fire circle and realized she felt genuine warmth towards these people.

“While there’s the obvious question of the Deathlord, I think I can read that situation. Pyrrhus, would you explain your relationship with the Realm? I really… can’t fathom. New Meru is located on the sacred site of the Immaculate Order. The Mistress will certainly try to use that against you.”

“I’d like to say that the Realm and the Order simply recanted their outdated notions and welcomed us… but alas, that was not the case.” Cleaning the sword in his lap with smooth, meditative strokes, he settled into his “preaching voice” and a storyteller’s cadence.

“To start from the end and work backwards: The Realm and New Meru are in a state of armed truce. We are here only because we had some of the automated defenses working, because the Empress is not here to use the Sword of Creation against us, because several of the Paragons are advocating on our behalf, and lastly – because they have bigger problems than a handful of Solars on the Imperial Mount.”

Pyrrhus turned the sword over and began on the other side, refreshing his cloth with oil. “The Paragons are truly the most influential voice. And of their voices, the Paragon of Pasiap, Mnemon Harasa, is the loudest. If you are familiar with the Great Houses of the Realm, you will know of Mnemon.”

“Harasa was on tour across the Realm and its Satrapies when she was kidnapped by powerful demons and dragged into the Underworld – on Mistress’ Orders, and to Mistress’ stronghold. A fraud posed as the Paragon for the better part of two years, until the Inquisition.” Pyrrhus stopped polishing the sword and sat very still for a long moment, remembered anguish crossing his features. When he had regained his composure, he glanced at the faces of his audience before resuming his meditative burnishing.

“Suffice to say, one of our former friends had been party to the kidnapping. It came out during that encounter with the Wyld Hunt. My mentor, the Paragon of Hesiesh, Red Coal Bodhisattva, and I led an expedition to rescue Harasa. We succeeded.”

And how much more did those two words hold. Pyrrhus remembered standing against the Mistress, feeling the kiss of her sword against his armor. Remembered the sickening realization, later, as they led troops against her stronghold, that his Anima had begun to flare. The confrontation on the hill in the Underworld where his mentor, his respected teacher and elder, turned on him in murderous rage and would have killed him had it not been for the Dragon-blooded troops who saved him. Pyr sighed. “But not without cost.”

“When we re-emerged from the Underworld, we were trapped in the West. Harasa was yet weak. We spent a rather pleasant two seasons, actually, sailing back to the Isle and discussing philosophy and theology. When we debarked, Harasa declared herself in our debt, and my friend and ally. As Red Coal had been killed in the battle, she offered me the position of Paragon… I declined, but she made me Lama of the Center district anyways. So really… I am the Order’s authority here.”

“Additionally,” Pyrrhus set aside his sword and pulled a small, leather bound book from the case of cleaning tools beside him, holding it so they all could see the shining orichalcum symbol – of the Immaculate Order – on its cover. “It helps that I have the original founding documents of the Immaculate Order. A far different faith than what currently exists, and one I hope to restore. A previous incarnation of mine… was the Order’s architect.”

He looked to Raksi and inquired sincerely; “Does that explain sufficiently?”

“Yes, thank you for your candor.” Raksi paused. “The reason I ask is that it is classic strategy to get your opponent to fight a war on two fronts. I suspect that’s why The Mistress of Bloody Charities picked the Blood Monsoon spell specifically. Any other spell would be a problem only for you, but this will certainly cause damage in the Realm below. Since the Realm is the natural third party in this war, whoever wins over the Realm will win the war.”

The Lunar sat forward and peered at the cover of the book in Pyrrhus’s hands. “May I read through that journal? If your previous incarnation really was the founder of the Immaculate Order, then he must have worked with Lexicon of Elemental Harmony. In which case, I’ve probably met him. Though I’m honestly drawing a blank. It’s interesting that you claim the title of reincarnate of the Immaculate Order, since I thought that was Lexicon, whose Exaltation is now held by our very own Willow.” Pyrrhus gave her a puzzled look.

“The whole circle isn’t here. Willow is our Twilight. She and the others are leading the army currently marching on the Deathlord, Walker in Darkness. It seems that our Fates have been deeply entangled for millennia. When the opportunity arose, we left our caravan and went through the Celestial Gate to deliver the Adamant Codex. We certainly couldn’t march the whole army through the gate, so it was necessary to split up.”

Gods, if only they knew the amount of Fate planning that went into this very event. Caiden sat thinking, full Vizier attire showing now that there wasn’t really any need to assume a Resplendent Destiny.

Centuries of Fate-weaving had been cast on the Codex. Years of wandering in the Wyld were spent—maybe even millennia. Time flows differently there, as everyone knows. Even he bore the mental and physical scars of dealing with the Raksha, and things far more terrible then they.

Regardless, this was a monumental occasion. Sayuri and he may even get a promotion for this afterwards, though the setting could be different. He didn’t exactly imagine being surrounded by the remnants of Void circle necromancy. That stuff took years to clean up…

Regardless, it was finally here and he would do anything to make sure this meeting happened uninterrupted.

“No, of course not. I wish them all luck, and will say prayers on their behalf. One day perhaps we’ll have the chance to meet.”

“My predecessor went by the name of Perfect Silk Guardian, or just Silk — if I’ve translated this properly.” Pyrrhus opened his previous incarnation’s journal decorously, showing Raksi the title page. It had an inscription remarkably similar to the one he’d glimpsed on his younger sister’s diary when she was still in secondary school – Property of Aliset, Don’t Touch, Especially You Pyrrhus, Aliset’s Journal I Will Hurt You – etc.

Raksi peered closely at it, deciphering the writing. Silk did not have the best handwriting, and it was further complicated by his own particular idiosyncrasies. Her eyebrows drew together, mouth working as she silently mouthed the words, then flew up in pleasant surprise. She lost several apparent decades as she unearthed the memories. “Oh! Perfect… No, he was a terrible scribbler. I know him. This was Calansei, or Flawless Silk Cascade. He grew out his hair after Exalting, was terribly vain of it, and then a Wyld beast caught him by it! He was never able to grow it long after that, the others used to tease him for it. Silk was a friend of Lexicon’s, and a great philosopher.”

“Calansei. I’ll remember that.” Pyr nodded, peered at the writing himself. “Ah, I see where I confused the diacritics.”

“May I?” Raksi prompted again, reaching a hand carefully towards the text.

The Zenith caste withdrew abruptly, tucking the book close to his chest like a hawk mantling. “Forgive me, Lady, I… not just now. I’ll be happy to look them over with you later but… well, let’s just say I’ve had trouble with documents falling into another’s hands.”

“I understand. Another time, perhaps. I will regale you with stories of your predecessor’s adventures and foibles.” Raksi did not appear offended, and for that, Pyrrhus was relieved. She sat back against her cushions, relinquishing the floor, for now.

Akaris now felt the full effect of the tea’s calming effect. She finally felt at peace in the room, ready to expound on her dealings with Mistress.

“It has been almost a decade since we were first introduced to the Mistress of Bloody Charities.” Akaris began, the tone already set for reviewing the past. “For a while, we actually traveled with one of her Deathknights, though we know not where he walks now. Brief encounters with her were actually more harmless than you might imagine. I even visited her in the Underworld on occasion, curious about what sort of creature she was.” She looked around, slightly abashed at the confession.

“It was certainly a unique relationship, and Mistress was willing to throw knowledge—even secrets of sorcery—at my feet. I could never guess her motive, and only now do I understand how truly gone deathlords are. My visits to Mistress ended when I found a soulsteel dagger near her manor that caged my first age soul.” The memory of that moment caused a flash of pain.

“I liberated that soul, finally coming to a realization that I didn’t belong there. The Underworld was a twisted version of its intended design, and the deathlords were shaping it to their will.”

She shifted her pillows around, growing uncomfortable with the pain of those memories.

“Pyrrhus has recounted the underworld battle, and so now you are caught up with our past regarding Mistress. The City of Night was yet another of her schemes to disease our goals and tear us down slowly. Only now has that disease shaped into a blade with clear intents for the heart of our city.

“I have been researching sorcery intent on preserving elementals, and even returning sanity and being to the elemental dragons that have faded over the centuries. Meru is vital to that goal, and if Mistress succeeds in stripping us of it, I’m afraid my progress will be for naught.”

Her eyes gleamed, remembering her recent victory, “Four nights ago, I reached a breakthrough in my research,” she said nodding to Israya, the water elemental sitting across the room in a sort of meditative pose with legs crossed. “One of Mistress’s Deathknights had struck down Israya, but when the Deathknight was slain, I used the soul as a catalyst to call back the elemental energy before it was lost back into the ley lines. The soul is a vital part in restoring elemental harmony across creation, and I just need more time here on Meru to continue research.”

“I know it sounds terribly forward of me, but you have mentioned both access to higher levels of sorcery and this Adamant Codex that you have brought from the East. It would be to the benefit of us all if I had access to that information. I consider myself a master of the elements, but there is still so much I do not understand, and even less that heaven is willing to share.”

She met Raksi’s gaze, and exchanged trust through some unseen gesture, the way humans had always been able to gauge sincerity on some instinctive level.

“You hold what may be the key to our survival here, and I hope some of what you have learned this evening helps shed more light on the depth of our situation. I don’t need to tell you that having a Deathlord on Meru is a bad thing, and right now we are in desperate need of a game changer.” Akaris said, taking the last sip of her tea before placing it back on the table beside her, a subconscious statement of finality.

“You’ve done well to make it so far in only a decade with so little resources. It took Lexicon over a century and the wealth of an entire nation to make it only slightly farther. You would make a worthy pupil and I would be happy to guide you on the path to Solar Circle Sorcery. It will require of you a sacrifice greater than the previous two circles combined” Raksi paused.

“I’ve long explored the front porch of Solar Circle Sorcery, peering in through the windows. I have spent most of my life longing for that power. But the sacrifices required for a Lunar like myself are simply unacceptable. My new goal is to teach the new Solars how to access their full range of powers. You would be the first among many. Ah, but I’m skipping ahead of myself.”

Raksi’s eyes traced a line backwards in time. “The Adamant Codex contains a Solar Circle spell that binds an elemental essence onto a living creature to create an elemental hybrid. Lexicon used this spell to create five Dragon-blooded that were taken to a new level of Enlightenment, comparable to Solar Exalted. He called these five the Immaculate Dragons to distinguish them from their lesser kin. Their purpose was to acts as anchors for the next step: resurrecting the Elemental Dragons. Despite meditation and counsel, the youngest, Hesiesh went mad and turned on his creator. He then played a crucial role in the Usurpation.”

“The Lunar elders at the time concluded that raising a Dragonblood up to the power of a Solar was a foolish endeavor, though I think now that they only wished to hoard power to themselves. I think the real lesson to be learned is that a neophyte Terrestrial Exalted is not powerful enough to carry the burden of a full Elemental Dragon.”

“Is any mortal? Truly? I know we carry fragments of the Unconquered Sun, but do we even have the capability to handle such power? The Singers… er, they’re a clan of Dragon Kings on the isle… used to tell us royals stories of the Mad Kings they knew and served. I didn’t connect those tales to Solars until I was graced….” It had been something she worried at, like a loose tooth in the back of her mind. Sol was so good, surely He would not give her something destined to corrupt her….?

Raksi stared at the fire for a time. “It’s true that there’s a dark side to every Exaltation. I’ve become warped by it myself. That’s why our work is so important.”
Raksi pulled her eyes away from the fire and looked softly at Zaela. “It seems to mainly affect the old. You have little to worry about, darling. You must remember that some Solars survived the Primordial War. They were ancient 2,600 years ago. It’s possible Autochthon never designed the human mind to last that long. That’s why I want to get all of the Lunar Elders restored at the Throne of Creation. They… we’ve been at war for so long we’ve basically all lost it…” Raksi winced at that admission.

“Anyways, we were talking about Deathlords, but what we really need to anchor an Elemental Dragon is an ancient Solar.” Raksi pulled out the gleaming cylinder of the Adamant Codex and pointed to a diagram on the outside.

“Solar essence is the unifying essence between each of the elements. Anything that is Solar derived should be compatible with all 5 elements. This brings me to a bit of history…. When the Deathlords first arose, there was much speculation amongst the magical intelligentsia about where they had come from and why there were only thirteen of them. Given the timing after the Usurpation, some scholars believe that they are the ghosts of fallen Solars come back to take their revenge. I think that’s only partially true. I think the Neverborn used the angry ghosts of Solars as a foundation for creating a new kind of terror: the Deathlord. But Akaris’s experiment with Israya shows they still have elemental attunement, it’s just inverted right now.”

“That just leaves one question. How do we capture and kill the Mistress of Bloody Charities?”

Akaris closed her eyes, envisioning a past, present, and future that had been discussed this evening. Elemental dragons stirred in slumber, just beyond the range of mortal senses. But the dragon lines took that stirring and amplified it, instilling a purpose within the twilight that had been scattered before. Just as Lexicon bound elemental essence to a living soul to create the Dragon-bloods, so too must she bind the elements once more to mend the millennia of corruption. It would all start here.

Akaris took a deep breath and opened her eyes, meeting the Lunar’s gaze. “I accept your offer Raksi. I come from the Salinan school of thought, so I will need to research an appropriate sacrifice before I take this next step,” she said, pouring herself a fresh cup of team before facing the Lunar again.

“I do not think it coincidence that we were brought here today,” She stole a quick glance at the only Sidereal in the room, “and we truly owe you our lives. Thank you.”

“I’ll admit, I will have to leave this in more capable hands right now. Remember that the elements of Meru have already turned against Mistress. Ideally any trap would be set for the juncture of the dragon lines, where their power will be strongest.”

Zaela finished with her gemstone, tucking it away in a scrap of silk into a bag with other finished pieces. She dumped out her pack in front of her, rummaging through its depths for another project to keep her fingers busy. A wealth of shiny objects – gems, crystals, coils of wire, small artifacts components – spilled across her lap. The conversation batted back and forth over her head and she felt far out of her depth. Prismatic Lotus stirred in the back of her mind, interested, finally over the snit she’d been having over Veridian Mantle’s snub and their terrible treatment in Yu-Shan.

Across the room, Pyrrhus finished putting away all of his cleaning supplies and sheathed his swords. He sat loosely, listening, hands draped over his knees. “I suggest, Akaris, that if you need extended meditation as I did, to travel through the Corners to the Southern Tomb – likely no one will bother you there, and it is an excellent place for contemplating the Sun.”

“As for capturing the Mistress…” Pyrrhus sighed and scrubbed his face. “We’d planned on trapping her in one of the Manses on the hill, with elemental geomancy and… transforming her. Akaris was working out the details. Our premise for bringing her there, however, is no longer an option now we’re in open war. We’ll need more allies.”

Zaela drew a clear green and brown crystal from her pile and turned it in her fingers. “Master Pyrrhus. You mentioned earlier you wanted a memory-sharing spell? To raise an army? How…?”

“There are few things the Scarlet Empire hates more than Solars. Necromancy happens to be one of them. It is my duty as Lama to inform my superiors of developments on the Imperial Mount. Word would bring them, reluctantly, to our aid. A verified memory, with all the attendant visceral feelings? Will bring them running.”

“And leave you with an army bent on cleansing their Holy Mount, who believe Solars are anathema.”

“Yes, well. It would not be the first time. And we have many more friends now.” Pyrrhus picked up the teapot, checked the contents, and set a re-filled kettle onto the fire.

Zaela held out the crystal to him. “The Dragon Kings that share my home grow these from the Wyld, to share their knowledge amongst each other, and to help their children. It’s not a spell, but perhaps it will do as well?”

Pyr turned the crystal over in his fingers. “Thank you, Lady Zaela. This will be fine. I… it might even be better. If Akaris goes to meditate and learn, I must stay here, and protect the city. I could not go to my friends and share the memory with them in person. But a gem…”

“Lady Zaela, Master Swift, Master Caiden: would some of you be willing to take this memory to my friends in the Imperial City, along with a letter, and return with help? I will send one of my followers with you, they know the way.” Pyrrhus watched them, hopeful.

Swift had been listening intently as soon as Akaris had broached the subject of dragon lines. Geomancy had been a point of interest to him from the moment he understood the significance of dragon lines in Creation. He looked at Pyrrhus, his hazel eyes sparkling with excitement. He noticeably composed himself and bowed his head.

“A Solar eclipse given the opportunity to persuade the high and noble of the Imperial City?” A mischievous grin crossed his face. “Why it would go against my very nature to refuse such a venture.”

“Thank you. I will make the arrangements.” Pyrrhus smiled, relieved. He held the memory crystal up to the light, examining it for a moment. “Is there any specific way to activate this, Lady Zaela? Or does it follow the usual artifact pattern?”

She shook her head. “The usual pattern, as far as I am aware. Concentrate on the memories you wish it to store, and feed it Essence. It will change color when it is full.”

Pyr nodded. “Then I will begin there.” He rose and tucked the crystal into his sash, and slung his swords and pack of cleaning tools over one shoulder.

“I thank you all for your trust and your friendship. We on the Isle have been much isolated from the rest of the world, and it is heartening to know that not all of it wishes our destruction… just most.” Wry smile. “We have many plans for bettering the future of Creation, and we welcome your fellowship and participation. I will see you tomorrow.”

Pyrrhus bowed deeply and left the room, beckoning a disciple waiting at a respectful distance beyond the door to walk with him.


josiah42 Redkite7

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