Deadly Skies

Accounts of the Adamant Codex, 7

Chapter Two, Scene Four: The Scene That Took A Year

When the gates to the Games of Divinity opened up there was nothing but blackness on the other side. The blackness was so complete it felt like it was pulling everything in. Then the warm smile of the Sol came into view and revealed more of the scene as he brightened. He stood up and looked over the Exalts with fatherly warmth, his body glowing like bronze. Luna’s silhouette caught his light and responded in kind. Then the row of Maidens became visible around them.

They were still standing against an impossibly black background but as they watched the first stars began to wink into existence and spiral about each other forming simple constellations made of silver lines that connected and reached out becoming increasingly complex.

The Unconquered Sun put out his arms in an inviting gesture. “Welcome Chosen, you are most highly honored today. Come in and join us. We are between rounds in the Games. You will be safe.”

Zaela tore her eyes away from the enticing blackness, shaking the null-patterns that the mind sometimes makes in the absence of other information from her vision as her God came into view, eclipsing all else with his Light.

She sank to her knees, her new dress literally puddling at her feet in a swirl of physics-defying emerald and golden liquor, bowing her head to what her touch told her was smooth cool floor but her vision told her was infinite starry void. She shut her eyes against the dizzying sensation and focused on breathing. “My Lord, just being in your Presence is honor and privilege enough for me. I have long desired your attention.”

“I have heard your pleas, and the plea of many others. I am still very much aware of the state of Creation. I’ve brought you all here to help me solve a paradox.” The Unconquered sun gestured at the group before him and then beckoned to a specific person everyone had assumed was another Palace servant.

“I invited all the Solars in Yushan, which includes a representative of Meru today. I’d like to introduce Starbuck” he turned her around to face everyone and put a hand on her shoulder. “Starbuck has held a Solar exaltation longer than anyone else alive right now. I am very proud of her. Outwardly, she doesn’t look the part of a returning ruler, but her heart is good and she has accomplished much in these last decades. Other gods may fuss about appearances, but I like to see the job get done.” It was hot and a little dizzying to be touched by the Unconquered Sun. Sol let her return to the group.

“Starbuck, I would like you to meet the Circle of the Meridian Isle, restorers of the Meridian Wyldship, restorers of the Lunar castes, Raksi’s redeemers, and foe to the Walker in Darkness. May their hearts always be pure.” The Unconquered Sun favored them all with a smile but then a shadow of sadness passed over his expression before he turned around.

“Now to the paradox.” The Unconquered Sun sat down and so there was now a seat beneath him. High backed thrones for each of the Incarna materialized and they strode forward and took places in a semi circle except for Luna who opted to stand behind her moonsilver throne. Similar, smaller thrones materialized for the Circle. The doors to the Palace closed with a boom. The room was getting brighter as the stars became more numerous. Sometimes stars would collide and let off clouds of colored smoke expanding in the vast dome overhead.

“The people of Creation need a defender, someone strong enough to preserve them against all the dark forces tearing Creation apart. You all are my answer to that cry. You are my instruments to make the world whole again. You are the answer to prayer. You have been given the power to make things right again. But then there’s a difference between Power and Authority. My own Chosen should not have to carry a burden of doubt about themselves just because of what is said about me.” Sol Invictus fixed his eyes on Caiden. “I know the current perception in Yushan is that I am a junkie who is neglecting my duties. I care nothing for what my lessers think of me, but when it reflects poorly on my Chosen or impairs their own will to finish the job, it becomes a problem.”

The Unconquered Sun took some time to let it sink in. “So,” he opened his hands “how do we restore the dignity and authority of Solars while still allowing the Incarna to continue the Games of Divinity?”

“I have heard your pleas, and the plea of many others. I am still very much aware of the state of Creation. I’ve brought you all here to help me solve a paradox.” The Unconquered sun gestured at the group before him and then beckoned to a specific person everyone had assumed was another Palace servant.

“I invited all the Solars in Yushan, which includes a representative of Meru today. I’d like to introduce Starbuck” he turned her around to face everyone and put a hand on her shoulder. “Starbuck has held a Solar exaltation longer than anyone else alive right now. I am very proud of her. Outwardly, she doesn’t look the part of a returning ruler, but her heart is good and she has accomplished much in these last decades. Other gods may fuss about appearances, but I like to see the job get done.” It was hot and a little dizzying to be touched by the Unconquered Sun. Sol let her return to the group.

“Starbuck, I would like you to meet the Circle of the Meridian Isle, restorers of the Meridian Wyldship, restorers of the Lunar castes, Raksi’s redeemers, and foe to the Walker in Darkness. May their hearts always be pure.” The Unconquered Sun favored them all with a smile but then a shadow of sadness passed over his expression before he turned around.

“Now to the paradox.” The Unconquered Sun sat down and so there was now a seat beneath him. High backed thrones for each of the Incarna materialized and they strode forward and took places in a semi circle except for Luna who opted to stand behind her moonsilver throne. Similar, smaller thrones materialized for the Circle. The doors to the Palace closed with a boom. The room was getting brighter as the stars became more numerous. Sometimes stars would collide and let off clouds of colored smoke expanding in the vast dome overhead.

“The people of Creation need a defender, someone strong enough to preserve them against all the dark forces tearing Creation apart. You all are my answer to that cry. You are my instruments to make the world whole again. You are the answer to prayer. You have been given the power to make things right again. But then there’s a difference between Power and Authority. My own Chosen should not have to carry a burden of doubt about themselves just because of what is said about me.” Sol Invictus fixed his eyes on Caiden. “I know the current perception in Yushan is that I am a junkie who is neglecting my duties. I care nothing for what my lessers think of me, but when it reflects poorly on my Chosen or impairs their own will to finish the job, it becomes a problem.”

The Unconquered Sun took some time to let it sink in. “So,” he opened his hands “how do we restore the dignity and authority of Solars while still allowing the Incarna to continue the Games of Divinity?”

“My Lord, I thank you for allowing us to be a part of the solution for this paradox,” stated Starbuck respectfully. “It is a truly puzzling paradox as well.”

Starbuck paused in her response to consider the options before them. While it may be easy to formulate possible paths forward, it was far more difficult to determine which one one would be fitting for the here and now.

“Perhaps…” Starbuck took a moment to phrase this correctly “it may even be as simple as a matter of getting the information out into Creation. It has been my humble experience that many of the more uninformed rumors were simply folks speaking without the proper context. I cannot help but hope that if if we were to educate the populace of Meru and beyond of the active role your Lordship has within Creation as well as the place you have given your Chosen, then they would come to understand the truth. Perhaps then, the exaggerated stories of your seeming absence will begin to truly fade.”

Starbuck took a deep breath as she realized she should just leave her statements there. Telling the Unconquered Sun that he had a serious PR problem that could possibly be corrected with a compelling advertising campaign had the definite potential of backfiring on them all. She was suddenly somewhat reluctant to pursue that path further and held out hope that he had not taken offense to her suggestions.

A pained expression took over Sol’s face. “You misunderstand the situation. While I’m aware of the general state of Creation, I can’t do much about it while playing the Games. We must keep playing the Games. Really, none of the Incarna can interact with Creation much at all.”

“Speak for yourself.” Luna interjected. Luna today was in the form of a young man with tousled shock of white hair, still heavily pregnant. He/she put an elbow up on the chair back. “I still visit my Chosen or a follower every now and then. Though we were never really meant to be front line fighters. And now that our compatriots,” he/she nodded at the group and concluded with a smile, “…have reclaimed the Throne of Creation I think things are going quite well.”

The Maiden of Serenity snapped back at Luna. “Yes, well your nature gives you a lot more freedom here. The Maidens aren’t near as happy with the relationship between Sidereals and Solars.” She crossed her arms, rolled her eyes and concluded with a very undignified raspberry.

Zaela rose to her feet hesitantly, keeping her place several long paces from her God.

“Lord… I think Starbuck is right. Perhaps the other Gods and Exalts speak badly of you because they are ignorant. Or their perceptions of the Games color their interpretation of your actions.

A Game may only continue if it has Players, is that not correct? Perhaps if you and every other Player agreed to… an intermission.. of sorts, you could all appear to Creation and give a short explanation of your mission and then endorse whomever you wished. And perhaps have time to correct any looming errs less loudly?”

Zaela’s suggestion was greeted by a warm smile from the Unconquered Sun. “If only it were as simple as quitting, but we know the Yozi would never agree to quit, and in fact, time draws short.” Sol sat back down in his seat. “The big misconception is that the Games of Divinity are somehow apart from Creation and that we serve no purpose from Creation. This lie is one of our own making, so we do not seek to correct it. The deception is a critical part of Creation’s survival in the coming decades.”

“Look around you,” he stood up and gestured out with all four arms, “though don’t look too long.” The seemingly endless expanse of the chamber was filling with increasingly enchanting displays of light, color, and shape. Colorful clouds of gases were coalescing amongst stars burning a thousand hues of saphire and diamond. Everywhere they looked they felt the celestial bodies pulling in towards some long sought conclusion, punctuated by pockets of explosive expansion. The inevitable spinning and swirling of the whole symphony of light quickly became disorienting to take in. A Solar rocked back on one foot and stumbled.

“This is no mere game. You are watching the birth of a World… a whole reality.” The stars twinkled in his eyes as he surveyed the beautiful landscape rotating around him. “This construct is fueled by a Primordial known as the Spark of Creation. The world that you know of is here in large part because of that Primordial. It has the ability to bring all the disparate energies together into a single reality and even predict how everything will play out. It is the stage on which life is played.”

He gestured at the floor and Willow could just make out the glimmer of something wonderful through the edges of the seal. As if to hide itself, a ball of molten rock began unfolding from the center, growing larger and getting closer to where they felt they were standing. As it unfolded it cracked and cooled becoming an expanse of earth far beneath them.

“Soon the memories of the Primordials will emerge and begin crafting their world. We will step into our roles as their servants. The years will progress and the Spark will attempt to predict what will happen in the years following the Usurpation, what is happening right now, and ultimately what the Yozi’s final plan for the destruction of Creation is. We will observe their strategies, adapt, and try and defeat them once and for all. We are preparing for war. We are preparing to coordinate all of Creation’s resources to protect Creation one last time.”

The Unconquered Sun bent down on one knee next to his Chosen. “That is why we need our Chosen out there, in the field, righting what wrongs currently exist. We need you practiced and hardened. Prepared for the time when you will be called upon to exceed the limits of mortal and god alike. Don’t worry about our reputations. Just concern yourself with embracing the role that you have been given because we all will be tested.”

“You still have much to do in these last days.” Sol Invictus rose up and moved towards the doors. All around life was blooming in a twilight of green. Stars rained down all around, giving birth to nature spirits. “You have a Codex to deliver to Meru and many more battles to fight.” He stopped before the grand doors and turned to face his Chosen.

“To protect our secret, your memories of what I have said will be erased, but the resolve in your hearts will remain. Speak to no one as you depart. My Train will be waiting to shuttle you away from here.” He favored the group with a warm smile and a proud salute then turned to open the doors for them. The other Incarna began to usher the Exalts out. As they reached the door, the Games of Divinity was shaken by a deafening crack hiss. The whole room felt like it was spinning as a bright orange light made all the shadows swing down to the floor.

Caiden* craned his head around to see what was happening but the doors closed behind them with finality. With the deafening quiet that followed, the Solars realized they were shaking with the sheer stimulation from the Games. The ornate decorations of precious metals all around them looked somehow pale and flat when compared with the fading memory of bearing witness to the birthing song of the universe.

Someone was prattling “…must tell me about your experience. It’s a rare honor to meet with Incarna and especially not when a game is running. What did He say? What was He talking about all that time. It’s been over a day you know.” Yuraji went on but no one was listening. They shuffled forward towards the entrance, still impelled by Sol’s last command.

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