Part 71 - Interlude.   Posted by Dworkin.Group: 0
 player, 5193 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Thu 17 Nov 2011
at 11:50
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan is certain that Shaedra has noted something odd about the birds and insects about Banglen-Yp, beyond their simple presence.  But the woman doesn't comment, nor take offense; instead, she offers hospitality.  The bard bows in reply.  "We would, I think, be pleased to accept your generous offer."

On her shoulder, Berd's eyes crack open again, and this time he huffs a puff of smoke.  Offer?  Food?

"I do not know what your people would do with these," Cyan continues, holding out the stones and beads.  "I know not what Tander would wish with them as well.  But it seems to me they better belong with you than I."

Banglen-Yp's cat appears to have made another appearance, fortunately not in the form of a saber-toothed tiger...though Cyan doubts such a beast would actually frighten Shaendra and her people.
 player, 881 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Fri 18 Nov 2011
at 07:21
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James contributes little as Cyan and Shaendra converse but he listens with interest even as he watches Banglen-Yp and Shaendra's people.  He has met other shape-shifters during the quest but it is his first experience of drevhan.  It makes an interesting counter-point to Banglen-Yp's transformative abilities.

Distracted, James is about to reach out and pat the kitten when he belatedly remembers that it is almost certainly part of Banglen-Yp and she can eat Archons.  He's not at all certain what would happen if it had a real go at biting him and he's not sure he wants to find out.

Shaendra's question recalls James' attention.  He gives another bow, since it seems a safe response to both her question and her people's reverence.  "We would be delighted to eat with you.  We have travelled far and some of us, I know, are both tired and hungry."
 GM, 3683 posts
 Renegade Lord of Chaos,
 creator of the Pattern...
Sun 20 Nov 2011
at 15:08
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
The journey through the forest is, mercifully, a short one.  No more than half an hour after being invited to take food with Shaendra's people the group arrive at a camp of sorts.  A forest glade contains simple wooden tables and benches arranged beneath canopies before a low platform decked with pennants and banners of snow white and emerald green.  Behind the platform stands a tree, its limbs gnarled and twisted, with a trunk which is almost forty feet in diameter near the base.  Lanterns hang from the lower branches, perhaps two hundred feet above the ground, and a constant rain of leaves and flower petals seems to fall as the extremities of the boughs are stirred by the breeze.

As the travellers arrive, there are perhaps a thousand people already here, crowded at the tables and already eating.

Shaendra leads the way, past most of the tables, and finally stops at the one closest to the platform.  This near, it is apparent that there is an altar of some kind on the platform, draped with white cloth and supporting several large wooden jars.  Shaendra gestures to the benches, "Please, be seated."

Food is brought to the table - large bowls, each containing some sort of grain mixed with small pieces of diced meat or vegetable.  There is fresh bread too, and a drink which turns out to be a type of mead.

Shaendra hands Tander's possessions to one of the servers, who carries them to the altar.

When everybody is settled and eating, Shaendra speaks again, "I am curious.  You are strangers, and some of you are unlike any we have seen before.  Why have you come here?  As I explained, today is a holy day in Caerse.  Are you planning to attend the Rites there?"
 player, 5194 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Tue 22 Nov 2011
at 18:16
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan sighs at the sight of the great tree and halts for a long moment, staring up at it.  "There were trees such as this in the land of Doriath," she murmurs, "before the Naugrim came in force.  The Heavy-Handed fell before the gates of the Thousand Caves, and his foes paid a bitter price for their passage.  There are times I wish I had stood by him."  Berd stirs, and Cyan shakes her head.  "But we were not there, and returned too late."

She takes in a deep breath, and her topaz eyes shine in the dappled light of the glade.  "This is beautiful, Shaendra.  And so many people."  Petals catch in her dulled hair, alongside a forlorn leaf, dried and cracked.  Bending, she sweeps up a handful and lets them trickle between her fingers as she follows Shaendra into the crowd.

"So many people," Cyan whispers to James.  "Would you have guessed?  I expected far fewer."

Lords of the West, but this is why she began her travels through the Myriad Worlds.

The altar catches her gleaming eyes, but she dutifully sits where Shaendra indicates, not wishing to offend.  Bowing her head, she utters a brief thanks for her meal and well-wishes for their hosts, then accepts the bread and vegetables.

And the mead, of course.  "I have not had the like in ages," she notes with great appreciation.

But she pauses when Tander's possessions are brought to the altar, and for a long moment she watches them go.  Another weight off, and with its vanishing a sense of loss.  The things holding her down grow fewer and fewer still.

And comforting to see them in their proper place.

The bard perks up at Shaendra's question.  She shoots a quick glance to James, then Banglen-Yp, and finally shrugs.  "I had no plans to attend the rites; indeed, I am unfamiliar with them.  We merely pass through on a journey of import."  Her smile quirks.  "We come from far away - another world, in truth - and pace upon yours on our way to the next.  Exhausted, we sought shelter, food and rest, but never thought to come across such gifts as you offer."

Beside her, Berd has fallen asleep with his face in a bowl, quite overcome by a the journey, a full belly, and half a flagon of mead.  Despite his slumber, his teeth work at the meal in fits and starts.
 player, 882 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Wed 23 Nov 2011
at 13:46
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Yes, beautiful."

"I do hope I'll get to travel to your home some day Cyan.  Every time you speak of it I get a sense of great and melancholy beauty.  There was a war there, too, yes?  Some great struggle."

As they walk through the clearing most of the leaves and petals slide off James' armour, though a few catch in his hair.

"Not so many, no.  I thought there would be no more than half this number.  The people are resourceful or the forest bountiful, or both, to feed so many."

James sits at the place chosen for him and observes the same pleasantries as Cyan but it is clear he is not entirely comfortable.  Abruptly, he stands, "Excuse me, it doesn't feel right sitting here in my armour.  I'll be with you in a moment."

James moves a short distance away and lays down his helm and gun and with them Fangmir.  Then he works at removing his armour.  Some thought has clearly gone into its design and it doesn't have the clasps, buckles and straps of plate armour but it still takes a couple of minutes.  By the time he returns Berd has already passed out.

"There's a sight.  I was worried for a moment that he'd smother, but look, sleep-eating."
 NPC, 5 posts
Sat 26 Nov 2011
at 20:40
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"The Rites are of great importance to most of the people of Caerse, 'tis true...  But we follow a different, older path.  While the Rites have some significance to us, they are less important than to the Followers of the Flame.  The extra people that come flooding into the city for the festivities make things uncomfortably crowded." Shaendra explains.

"At most times, fully three fourths of the people you see here would dwell in Caerse, conducting their trade there.  Only the remaining fourth live, like myself, in the forest.  But for our own holy days and festivals, and to avoid the bustle and crowds of the Rites, the rest come here for brief spells - a four-day at the most - before returning home."

The woman listens to Cyan's explanation of the travellers' origins, and nods, "I have heard of such things, and some of our people learn the art of Walking, as we call it.  I did wonder how far you might have travelled, due to the obvious differences between us."  She places her hand alongside Cyan's, comparing the colour of their skin.

As James returns, stripped of his armour, Shaendra smiles at him, "Aaah.  That does present a more... friendly aspect."

"Tell me, you have the gift of Walking.  Do you, then, originate in one place, or do you originate in many, and have simply come together during your journey?"

 player, 883 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Tue 29 Nov 2011
at 06:38
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Yes.  I do hope I haven't offended you.  The places we have just come from were...dangerous and I had no opportunity to change before we met.  It wasn't intended as any reflection on your hospitality."

James considers Shaendra's question before speaking further.  He could explain that Cyan and Berd came from the same place, but any attempt to explain their history was likely to be awkward.  And James had no idea where the six Archons came from, having only just met them.

"We come from many different places.  We have journeyed together, some for longer than others, because we have a common destination."
 player, 5196 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Tue 29 Nov 2011
at 13:03
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
During the walk, Cyan smiles, throwing a burst of petals into the air.  There's a wistful hint to the act and her expression.  "A war, yes, against the Lord of Fetters.  I saw only flashes of it in my comings and goings - it was where I grew up, but not where I was 'birthed'.  Berd and I wandered."  She glances his way, her eyes dark amythests.  "I would take you there to see it, but...the War of Wrath shattered the land.  It is gone now, sunk beneath the waves, and the land to the south and east of it I know not."

Once seated, she watches James go, understanding his need, and listens to Shaendra's explanations.  "Followers of the Flame?  Might I ask what flame it is?"  She stares at Shaendra's slender arm next to her own, the forest green and the paler skin so different, yet the arms themselves so similar.  "Have you seen any of my hue before Shaendra?"  She smiles at the woman.  "For one accustomed to those of verdant skin, you reacted not at all to ours."

The bard relaxes further as James returns, smiling at his choice of descriptions for Berd.  "Sleep-eating indeed...he could no doubt find a way if dead.  I would express concern the same might happen to you, James, but I suspect I would go that route long before yourself!"

Thinning her lips, she considers a moment, then speaks.  "Those Archons with me, you may of course join us.  Merely respect our hosts and their home, and remain small."

James fields the question regarding Walking the Worlds and their places within them, which is a fine start.  Cyan absently picks up Berd's head by the neck, ensures herself he still breathes, and releases him back to his slumber and feeding.  "Have other Walkers of the Worlds passed through your lands recently, Shaendra?"
 NPC, 6 posts
Tue 29 Nov 2011
at 15:47
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Shaendra nods thoughtfully at Jame's explanations.  The news that there are places where his armour might be necessary brings a simple, "I understand." while his description of the varied origins of the visitors produces, "Yes, I see.  There is a saying here - the longer the road, the more welcome the companionship."

At Cyan's word, the Archons move in closer, hovering around the table in precisely measured positions somewhat above head height, small as bees.  A number of the Banglen-Yps move in close, alighting on benches, the ground, or even the table itself, some remaining in their guises of birds and insects, while others revert to their human forms.  Whether because of Cyan's instruction to the Archons or for some reason of their own, the ones which shift form retain their diminutive size.

"Ah... I see that some of you, at least, are familiar with the drevhan."
  Shaendra gestures to two of the minute Banglen-Yps currently standing near her on the table.

"The Followers of the Flame revere the prophet Garnander, who spoke to our ancestors about three thousand years ago.  He told them of the Flame of Truth, which lights the Road of Life and burns away deception.  He also taught them that the Rites are the core of all belief.  While the Followers still worship the Primal, as do we, they do so in a way which differs from our own tenets.  Each group respects the beliefs of the other, by and large, though this was not always the case, and the differences between us have occasionally resulted in violence."

Cyan's question about the colour of her skin brings a laugh, "I have never seen any with skin or eyes such as yours.  But there was a man who came to Caerse in my grandfather's time, a trader from a foreign land who, it is said, had skin as white as snow.  He stayed for a year, then returned home, having become a Follower of the Flame.  It was because of his time here that I suspected you were foreigners who had journeyed far, though I never realised how far."
 player, 5197 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Sat 3 Dec 2011
at 12:35
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan ponders on Shaendra's words, considering her descriptions of the Followers of the Flame.  Violence between the followers of religions happens; it's a sad thing, but past acrimony does not speak ill of the current followers of each religion.

"Banglen-Yp is...rather familiar with the drevhan, or something similar," she notes.  In truth, the woman's shapeshifting is a matter of what she is rather than a learned or developed skill.

"This foreigner - would you happen to remember his name?" she inquires.

OOC - Sorry for the brevity, but I'm utterly wiped out right now.  :(
 NPC, 7 posts
Sun 4 Dec 2011
at 18:57
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"His name?" Shaendra replies, brow furrowed, "No... I think not.  It has been almost thirty years since I heard the tale last, and I was but a small child then.  His fantastical appearance remains lodged in my memories, but his name has long since moved on."

And then she smiles, "But what of you?  Where are you bound, if not to Caerse?"
 player, 5199 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Wed 7 Dec 2011
at 12:19
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
A pity she doesn't recall the name.  Cyan enjoys such tidbits, and there's always a chance - infinitessimal, within the Myriad Worlds - that it is someone she knows.  A quaint delusion, she is aware, but always there is that anticipation...

"Us?"  The bard smiles, a soft expression to match the faraway look in her emerald eyes.  "We travel through this world to another on a matter of some urgency.  We sought rest here, to better face what will come.  And we have found it."  She glances around at the towering trees, the falling petals, the crowds of pleasant people.

"A sight for sore eyes, I must say."  Brushing back her hair, she returns her gaze to their host.  "You have given us more than you might guess, Shaendra.  James, here, holds the strength to no doubt march on forever, but I think I needed a place to sit."  Again, her eyes wander.  "To watch the world turn."

Berd finally drags his head from his bowl and crawls labouriously into Cyan's lap.  She absently brushes off his snout as he settles in, turning to and fro before simply falling over and into a deep slumber.  "And this one could travel no further," she murmurs.  "He has pushed himself for too long a time."

Sleep, father.  I will wake you when it is time to leave.
 player, 885 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Sat 10 Dec 2011
at 02:15
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James listens with interest to the conversation between Cyan and Shaendra.  Now that he has shed his armour, he is content to concentrate on eating and seems determined to catch up with Berd.

"Not forever, but long enough I hope." He says between mouthfuls.

"You must forgive us for not saying more of our destination.  Of many dangerous places we have been, this will be, perhaps, the most hazardous.  I know this must sound a little over-wrought, but it may be safer that you don't know its name."
 NPC, 8 posts
Sat 10 Dec 2011
at 19:33
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Shaendra shakes her head, "No, forgive me for prying, it was no more than idle curiosity on my part.  Your destination is your own business, and as guests in my home, and guests who have shown respect, both to myself, and to one of our people who has died in a distant place, I should respect your privacy."

"But, while I will ask no more of your destination, I will ask of your journey.  Do you need aught?  Provisions?  Water?  Blankets?  You appear to travel light, and if your road is long and journey's end will not welcome you, as you seem to imply, then you will need more than you have with you."

She smiles, and bows her head to Cyan, to Banglen-Yp, and to James, "Think of it as thanks for bearing home some remembrance of Otandal."
 player, 5200 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Tue 13 Dec 2011
at 12:46
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan cannot help but chuckle as James shovels in the fuel.  His capacity is truly prodigious.  "Now I know from whence your strength comes," she laughs.  But the bard grows more serious at his explanation, or lack thereof.  He's absolutely correct - this isn't the sort of thing they should be bandying around, or at least not the specifics.

"No forgiveness is necessary, Shaendra."  Cyan offers a sad smile.  "We are guests, and normally I would be glad to give you the whys and wherefors for our passage through your lands.  It is only politeness, from your guests.  But James is correct - this time, we cannot.  If any should apologize, it is us."

She glances at James first, then Banglen-Yp for a moment, considering how much they might carry (and how many of the Banglen-Yp's might do so without consuming the provisions immediately), then remembers their escorts.  No...better not to ask the Archons to be pack animals.  Look how long it took Right to become accustomed to carrying gurthang.  At the thought, she thinks on the blade on her back.

I think I have had enough of you.

"Water and food would be a fine thing, Shaendra," she agrees.  "And perhaps a blanket or two for rest.  We are in a hurry, in truth - not a rush, but as you say, we travel lightly.  For good reason."  Not long now.  "But I would be most grateful."

Her sapphire eyes close and Cyan offers a deeper bow, seated but from the waist.  "It has been a long journey, and we have been lucky enough to stumble across kind assistance from time to time.  Yours...I am gratified the universe set our path through your lands."

For many reasons, not the least of which is Otandal.
 NPC, 9 posts
Tue 13 Dec 2011
at 19:28
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"Then I shall make the necessary arrangements." Shaendra says, standing, "In the meantime, please rest and enjoy your meal.  I shall return shortly."  With a bow, she turns to leave...
 player, 5201 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Sat 17 Dec 2011
at 12:45
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
Cyan bows in place as Shaendra leaves, then turns her face up to stare into the falling petals.  "I am always amazed at our luck.  But then, I suppose the Myriad Worlds cannot be all violence and terror, no matter how it might seem at times."  A small grin proves the comment a quip rather than a serious observation.

She sighs, relaxing as the food and drink begin to work their magic.  "You spoke of Meredith before, James.  I truly wish I could have met her...under better circumstance.  It sounds as if she had a terrible life, and could have used some true friends."  She turns to stare at him directly, her amber eyes frank.  "Glad I am that she found one in you before leaving.  Small wonder you miss her.  You are that kind of person, James - a good man.  And..."

Turning back to the snowfall of petals, she raises her hand and lets a few fall between her fingers.  "This journey, this quest.  It tempers us in its fires, but it also forges bonds between us.  In a short time, we face all manner of horrors and wonders beside someone; is it such a surprise that we feel their loss so poignantly when they fall away?  You and I, we have seen many come and go.  All of them brought something to this quest, something to us.  And so...I understand."

She cocks her head.  "Perhaps.  If that is not too arrogant of me to say I know something of your mind."

The bard pokes James' arm with a finger.  "Of course you tried to fix her problems!  As you say, you are a man.  It is what you do.  But sometimes, James, you are very good at listening as well, so let us not sell you short."  This with an amused grin.

Her smile fades, though, as she pours through the memory of his words.  "You fear what you might become, James, should you continue on this path too long and cease to care.  And you look forward to a life where you watch those around you grow old and pass on.  James...I cannot begin to imagine what that might be like."

Berd, in her lap, cracks open an eye and stares at the scion of Amber.

"I am the lucky one, I suppose."  Cyan chuckles, shaking her head.  "I have the honor and pleasure of knowing you.  James...could you not carry the memories with you?  The memories of us, of the people you have known?  Ah, but that seems so sad."  Her eyes shine with unshed tears.  "Your long life seem like a gift at first glance, but at times to you it must feel like a curse.  If only..."

The bard shakes her head, brushing her eyes.  "If only - such horrible words.  James, I wish you naught but the best life might offer, but it seems that best - forever - is a heavy weight.  You make friends wherever you go.  Some might be of similar stock as yourself, but many will not be."  She lays a hand on his arm.  "I only hope you find enough joy with them that their memories bring pleasure as well as pain."

"Here, now - let me be a man for a moment and offer you a fix for your problem, James."  Scooping up the drake, she holds the confused, half-asleep Berd before his eyes.  "This one will always need someone to help him, to feed him.  Hopeless, he is."

Berd blinks muzzily, his huge eyes wide and confused with sleep.

(Cyanfriend/daughter) {speak/jabber} of (what/subject), (Heavyhand/Scarspirit)?

"Then again, you have enough weight on your spirit," she mutters, dumping him back down.  The drake immediately passes out.  "Apologies, James.  A small witticism.  Very small indeed."  More serious again, she shakes her head.  "Would that I had a true solution, but all I can offer is my own understanding.  A poor salve indeed."
 player, 886 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Mon 19 Dec 2011
at 13:15
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James returns Shaendra's bow, though it is of the head only; being seated makes the gesture a little awkward.  James watches the woman for a moment before turning his attention back to Cyan.

"Not all luck.  As I understand it, Berd was searching for a place for us to rest and recuperate.  But yes, for it to be Otandal's world," Or as near to it as makes no difference. "...Sometimes I think the universe has a strange sense of humour." James gives one of his characteristic shrugs.  That such things were beyond his understanding did not greatly trouble James.

"It's not arrogant." James answers quickly, then pauses before continuing "It's always risky to speak of understanding another person.  How is one to truly know?  But we've known each other quite a while, fought together, and against each other.  You understand me as well as anyone, or better.  At any rate, you've hit the mark squarely."

"Meredith had other friends.  She spoke of a man named Lorne, though I never really understood their relationship.  It might be interesting to search him out, if he still lives."
  James ponders the prospect for a moment, indulging his curiosity, and accepts Cyan's pokes, verbal and physical, in good humour.

James smiles and gives a quiet chuckle, gently for he shares some of Cyan's melancholy, "Do not pity me too much.  I'm not blind to the opportunities of my particular...situation.  In kinder times I could spend years watching sunsets, each more beautiful than the last.  Or I could quest for the greatest song in the universe, that with each syllable creates a new world."

"But memories.  You have, unsurprisingly, found the heart of it.  I will remember this, you, as long as I can.  But what are my limits?  When must I stop?  At what point will each new memory mean another forgotten?"

"I could find a world where medical science is advanced enough to give you immortality.  But if you were to accept, I suspect I would have killed you,"

The you I love "as surely as if I had run you through."

James straightens.  "Or we shall have to find another world to drown our sorrows.  Don't trouble yourself, Berd, we speak only of truths and other follies."

"Your fix, though, briefly, is flawed as a man's.  Berd is my friend, as you are, and is welcome to rest on my shoulder and dine at my table for as long as I have either to offer, or at least until he bites my ear too hard.  But that is not my burden to pick up, it is our choice, together.  Also, it seems to me that Berd has grown a lot, if you know what I mean, in the time I've known him.  If it continues, it seems to me he may transcend anything that I can comprehend.  It's hard to have a satisfying relationship with the Ultimate, God knows I've tried."

"And again, enough, listen to me."

"I've been meaning to ask.  What is it exactly you plan to do when the time comes to face Harbonah?  Hosk may be the place for that, or not, I'm not sure, but I've only a very limited idea of what you mean to do.  As I understand it you mean to broadcast an appeal to the assembled Archons, to persuade them to turn from destruction.  Admirable, which is good, and I think achievable, which is better, but how?"

 player, 767 posts
 Off the beaten track
             ''Who am I?''
Tue 20 Dec 2011
at 09:47
Re: Part 71 - Interlude

Turning cartwheels 'cross the floor, and various other items and such that some of the Banglen-Yp's changed into, the Banglen-Yps chased after some of the kittens among the others.  One of each separated from the rest and made their way to the two people speaking.

"So perhaps Ford was right, about humans and their lips?" mused the Banglen-Yp to the kitten perched on her shoulder.
    "Meeorrwwl," replied the kitten with authority.
    "Indeed.  At least we always remember the towel."

The Banglen-Yp nodded sagely and ruffled the fur on the kittens head before she turned to regard the two talkers.

"The past, given its nature, usually remains there, but how about the future?  When we arrive at where we shall be when we get there, what is the general plan of action?" she inquired smilingly.  "Or, put into other words, she added and poked James gently on the nose, "what he said."

"Oh, and also, if need be, I, ah, we, hmm, you know, can carry most anything.  Like the True Master of the Multiverses here!"
  She patted the kitten on the head as he stretched up, daring anyone to dispute that claim.

 player, 5202 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Wed 21 Dec 2011
at 19:41
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"The universe is an odd place," Cyan quietly agrees, glancing at the dancing Banglen-Yp with a smile.  "It having a sense of humor?  Absolutely."  It is, she thinks, a pity most people don't see that.  Perhaps if they did, there would be less of...well, the current situation.

She ducks her head at James' kindness in dispelling her concerns.  "Indeed we have.  A great deal of time - since Cadinigart, yes?"  She struggles with the memory for a moment, then smiles.  "'Friend' was the first word I heard from your lips, James of Amber, and how very true it proved."  For a long moment, her amythest eyes are far away.  Then she blinks, and they clear.  "Certs we have spent a great deal of time, both miserable and rewarding, in one another's companies."  Her hand finds his shoulder and squeezes for a moment.  "My memories are...fractured, but not lost, and I look upon our times together with great fondness."

Her head cocks to the side and the bard grows solemn.  "Perhaps you should search out Meredith as well as Lorne," she quietly offers, glancing down at Berd for a moment.  "It might do you good, James."

Her smile returns at James' bittersweet chuckle, but softer now.  "Indeed, there is much to be thankful for if one has endless years.  But...I will not let slip my sorrow at what it will cost you."  She sighs, staring again up at the falling petals.  "So hard for you, James.  Having seen the elders of Amber, I suspect your memories will hold for a long, long time.  I...remember Gil.  But his 'immortality' was unnatural, whereas yours, I think, is a function of who you are.  Perhaps you will not forget."

Her smile fades.  "And perhaps," she sadly states, "that is not as much a blessing as one might think.  I pray you never grow cold, James.  Your heart is strong, but the whetstone of years is hard and enduring, and may sharpen the softest touch to an edge."  She touches his breastbone.  "Keep it safe.  I would have you enjoy those sunsets and hear that song.  And someday, perhaps, sing it."

And remember me.

She ducks her head, a lopsided smile appearing and vanishing on her lips.  "Perhaps I would take your offer for a...medical immortality, James.  I do not know what it would bring. I-"  Her smile falters, then Cyan shakes her head, her once-copper-now-russet hair dancing, threads of grey showing through.  Berd made her strong.  Fast.  Potent.  Too much so.  His power is not infinite and for everything there comes a price.  Cyan's candle has burned brightly, perhaps too much so.

"You are a good man, James," she whispers, then laughs through nascent tears, dashing them away.  "Indeed!  Berd would be a difficult enough companion.  No doubt he will find you at some point or another, and impinge upon your hospitality."  She jabs the drake, who grunts once without waking.  "This one?  Ulitmate?"  The bard snorts in a most unlady-like manner.  "At best, he gains further strength to enjoy his vices."

Another grunt from Berd, this one disgusted.  Apparently he isn't fully asleep.

At James' request to attend, she grows more serious and quiet, focusing on him.  Banglen-Yp - their Banglen-Yp, and her kitten - echo his questions in her own way.  "You both have the right of it," Cyan nods, her eyebrows (and smile) rising at the poke on the nose and the grandiose claim for the kitten.  "Berd is the Ultimate and the Kitten the True Master," she murmurs.  "As always, I find myself in the presence of royalty..."

Her voice trails off and she sits in silence for several heartbeats.

"And I dance around the point," Cyan confesses.  "So.  We must all know the plan.  Here now, listen to my words.  In my time, I have seen much of the Archons - of the Seraphim, of the Nephillim, and of those caught between.  I have viewed Berd's memories of Raziel, a herenethi dedicated to the Seraphim who grew to appreciate art and the beauty of creation, and for that opted to shift his position away from violence and destruction.  I have seen the scholars of the Nephillim, devoted to the study of the Myriad Worlds.  I have watched Right and Left grow from simple soldiers into strong leaders and quiet students of life, respectively."

She takes a deep breath.  "But such things do not come easily to the Archons.  You Archons with me, speak if you wish to give your own thoughts, for I would hear them as well."

"Right changed over the course of my search for Broken God.  Finally, when he absorbed the memories and pain of millions of dying people, granted to him by accident through Dorian's power -" something meant for Cyan, in truth "- it solidified his feelings on certain matters.  Left changed more gradually, through study of emotion and interaction.  In both cases, it required them to become aware of things beyond their own desires.  The same with Raziel, though he himself seemed to realize there must be more than simple mastery to the universe."

Her lips thin.  "Archons - like any creature, to be truthful - need to be shown."

Cyan rubs her fingers along Berd's neck-ridge.  "I had hoped Dorian would be here as well, to assist with this plan, but...we will make do.  I will confront the massed Host of the Seraphim - as many as we can lure to one place.  They know me - Harbonah's 'General', privy to many of his secrets before my treason.  And to all of them, before Harbonah can have them destroy me, I will offer that which Harbonah keeps from them."

Her lips twitch into a bleak smile.  "It is the one thing a Seraphim cannot resist - power over others.  Those with Harbonah's secrets will have the opportunity to use them against others, even Harbonah himself.  Those who refuse will find themselves at a disadvantage against their rivals.  I believe the temptation will prove too much for them."

The bard's jaw muscles knot for a moment and her eyes, clear topaz a bare two shades from diamond, stare into the distance.  "I will open my mind to them.  All of them.  With Berd's help and his support, I will give them far more than simple information.  My memories of the Myriad Worlds I have travelled.  The things of beauty and terror I have seen.  The lives we have touched, the people we have met as people, not alien creatures to be destroyed.  My own feelings.  My experiences.  Every last bit."

In her lap, Berd lets out a small cry in his sleep.
 player, 887 posts
 This thing's to do
 Hamlet (IV, iv)
Thu 22 Dec 2011
at 04:48
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
James sways back slightly in surprise as Banglen-Yp pokes him in the nose "I seem to be very poke-able today."

James doesn't seem to be offended, though, and he offers Banglen-Yp an apologetic smile, "I'm sorry if I've been neglecting you, Banglen-Yp.  Or you, little Master.  It's hard for me to get my head around your multitude of..." James waves an arm vaguely in an attempt to encompass the variety of Banglen-Yp.  "I suspect I'm hard-wired to think of one person in one body.  I'm not sure which of you I should be addressing."

"I would like to hear, though, what Ford said of humans and their lips.  I'm also glad you mentioned carrying things.  Do you mean 'carry' as we might, or 'carry' as in absorb and then reproduce?  It may be important to an idea I'm working on."

Turning to Cyan, James says, "I remember Gil, too, though I doubt he still remembers us."

"I may seek out Meredith, but I think she needed some space, to work out who she is and who she wants to be.  It may be kinder to give her more time."

As he speaks, James looks intently at Cyan.  He had noticed the occasional grey hair recently, but had put it down to stress.  It had not occurred to him that she might be aging unnaturally quickly (if such a concept had any validity in the diversity of the myriad worlds).  Her words, and Berd's reaction, only confirm James' other suspicions, though.  A sour, resigned expression spreads on his face.

"You don't mean to come back from this, do you?  Or at least you don't expect to.  Some of the Archons you let in will be gentle, respectful.  Others less so.  They will suspect you of holding back and will trample roughshod through your brain in search of any traps or strongholds you may have secreted away." To Cyan, especially, who has always insisted on the right to self-determination, the prospect of such mental pillaging must be horrific.

"I needn't tell you that I dislike your plan.  Or that it is any less hateful for being a good idea.  They must be shown."

"I am tempted to give you some of my memories of war, but I suspect your testimony will be more powerful for being yours and yours alone."

James gives a short, bitter laugh, "You realise what you're asking of us, don't you?  We must help you do this, and, so, let them do this to you.  And we cannot, must not avenge you."

James manner becomes more subdued and his voice drops a little.  "I have a little demonstration of my own that I have been considering.  We agree, don't we, that some of the Archons will not turn?  There will be a battle, of sorts, yes?"

"So I have decided to challenge Harbonah."
James smiles, a refreshing change to his previous demeanour.  "Don't worry, I know how crazy that sounds.  I don't mean to fight him.  I intend to show him that cooperation and creation is more powerful than dominance and destruction.  And, conveniently, we have assembled here the perfect people for the job."

"I have been experimenting with a form of Pattern-based healing.  Treating a person's healthy state as a personal Pattern and mapping injuries and disease as "breaks" that can be repaired as I "walk" the proper Pattern.  I have used the technique successfully on myself...and on the Unicorn of Amber.  I know it works.  Now I mean to extend the concept to a planet, to Hosk itself.  More, I hope to 'improve' a little on Hosk if I can."

"Such a task is beyond me.  In my own strength it would be as futile and fatal as duelling Harbonah.  But I hope others will join me, starting with the Archons here, Right's strongest six, but including any who are willing to join their strength to mine.  Berd is the perfect focus.  He is adept with the bridging and with multi-tasking, I am hoping he will be able to link me to the strength of a host of angels."

"And I have, I think, the perfect medium.  Banglen-Yp can eat anything, but I have also seen her release mass.  That is, I think, I hope, that she, you, can create things, complicated substances and objects that are not sentient.  You are the perfect catalyst."

"So far, so good, but I doubt it will be that simple.  First, Harbonah.  I am hoping he will not immediately understand my true intent.  That he will waste time and energy defending himself and striking at me, rather than trying to destroy what we will be creating.  And I doubt he will be able to muster anything like the concert of minds that Berd can coordinate.  But his strength will be very great and it is much easier, and quicker, to burn something down than to grow it."

"There is likely to be an element of direct competition, but I also hope to subvert his strength.  Use a bit of mental aikido.  Energy is needed in creation, too, and if we can re-direct some of Harbonah's power to serve our purpose we have a better chance of winning.  Left may be very important here.  He was the subtle one, as I recall, and will know more of Hosk than we do, if he is still there."

"There are other variables, too, which are more difficult.  The orbs, as I understand them, are used to channel energy away from a world.  The stricken world becomes part of the Seraphim's cracks amongst the worlds but the diverted power is also significant and if Harbonah can effectively tap it, we may be lost before we start."

"The cubes have so far been used mostly as transport but the ones that Right is currently combatting seem intended for use as nexus points.  By linking many worlds they can quickly disseminate local effects.  I suspect Harbonah intended the, six?, cubes to be his chisel to open the major breaks.  Imagine what Dorian did to Hosk.  Now imagine one of those cubes on Hosk, simultaneously open to each of the worlds represented on the cube.  Still, Hosk is already a nexus of sorts, I doubt the cubes will be a major factor."

"The variable that troubles me most is the Broken God.  One piece of that...thing and the mental link is gone.  You may not be able to link to the assembled Archons and any hope of re-creating Hosk goes out the window.  I have never understood the Broken God's role in all this.  You say you were searching for it, Cyan?  What did you find?"

"What do you think?  Have I any chance?  I can't help but think of the saying concerning plans and contact with the enemy."

 player, 5206 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Sat 24 Dec 2011
at 12:58
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
"There are times when it is difficult to tell the Banglen-Yp group apart," Cyan agrees with a small laugh.  "If, indeed, they are separate entities and not merely aspects of the same, now grown somewhat changed by their different experiences..."  She shakes her head.  It is a difficult idea to get her mind around.

"I would also like to know what Ford said about the lips of humans."

She nods to James supposition on Gil - the memory creature might have aided him, but who can say?  Such things are finite - and her eyes grow downcast when he considers letting Meredith be.  James should have someone with him, Cyan thinks.  But then, the bard notes to herself, who is she to decide who might be right for him?

I have no hold on him, myself.

From the look on his face - a rare one for James - he doesn't seem to like her idea.  Cyan doesn't blame him; she has already argued this out with Berd in a discussion that spanned an entire night, ending with her reminding him of his promise.  That had hurt both of them.  And now she inflicts the same upon James.

"I...believe me, James, I have struggled with this, tried to find another, better option.  I have found nothing.  I do not plan my own death - I hope to survive this - but."  But.  'Hateful' stabs her to the core, and his bitter laughter forces her eyes closed.  "I am sorry," she whispers.  Her hand twitches toward him, then away.  "What I ask of you is nothing I should of those for whom I care -" so very much "- and yet I must.  It is a poor abuse of your friendship."

But James is not finished.

She sits in silence and growing fear as he outlines his plan.  To battle Harbonah?  Himself?  But not directly, thank the Lords of the West.  His strategy unfolds, and Cyan finds herself blinking in wonder, her topaz eyes brilliant as she studies it.  She has known of James' experiments - he mentioned healing the Unicorn of Amber, a shocking feat - and now better understands how that was accomplished.  To level his power against the ruin of the world, to attempt the salvation of Hosk?  To bring together everyone as a show of strength to Harbonah himself?

"Lords of the West, James - a daunting prospect, but a worthy one!"  And so very much 'James'.  Astounded by his vision, by his compassion, by his sheer, raw defiance of this war, she sits stunned for a long moment.  "You have thought this strategy out in detail, I see!  Yes, Berd could be of use with that, and Left as well - she always was the subtler of the two."  He might just accomplish this.

That it is James who makes this long cast...what he sets his mind to do, he cursed well does, Cyan knows.

"Yes...enemies are the rocks upon which planning's tides break.  But we can hope to wash over and bury those rocks."  Of course there are reservations, and grave dangers to James himself.  Amber's scion names a few, Cyan nodding along with him, sick at the thought.  The cubes might be a threat, assuming there are any on Hosk to be used against James.  And Broken God.

"I found pieces of the Broken God, James, and brought them to Harbonah.  It is one of those pieces..."  She shifts uncomfortably with the memory.  " of those pieces I used against you.  Yes, they could break the battle against us, render it down to naught more than the physical.  We would have to watch for their use, ward ourselves against them.  But I do not know how."

The bard bites her lip in consideration.  "We know Broken God's name," she finally states.  "But it told us nothing.  We know what Broken God's fragments can do, but not how.  And we have no real means of combatting them beyond removing them from the battlefield.  Any Archon on our side might do this, but they would be guarded."  She snorts.  "Of course, it is my hope that the guards will be...wait."

She regards Banglen-Yp, and a slow smile grows on her face.  "I believe we may have our own counter to Broken God. it possible you could consume Broken God itself?  Would that harm you?  If you need an explanation to what it is, I can provide one - sadly, a less-than comprehensive one."

"And there is one more threat to your plan."  Cyan makes a face.  "Well, more than one, your pardon.  But on grave threat.  Harbonah himself.  He will strike at you, James.  Directly - not simply through power, but at your body."  Cyan's voice grows low, urgent, and real fear shines in her eyes.  "He will seek to destroy you."

Her lips press together, and Cyan's eyes pale.  "You place yourself in the center, James.  Harbonah will strike at the obvious threat - you - knowing that I do not truly contain information that can harm him...or believing so.  He is somewhat...blunt.  And so you will face him directly."  The pale eyes turn his way, and her heart skips a beat.  "I cannot abide the thought of you in his grasp," she whispers.

Abruptly the bard stands, her voice sharpening, clear and bright like a messenger's horn.  "I have a gift for you, James, if you will take it.  Something to hold and carry in this battle, and after to throw away; not evil, yet quite dangerous to bear."  She reaches down to where her pack lies, her fingers curling around cold metal, and Cyan takes up the bastard sword in both hands.  "No spell, no blast, no ward, shield or armor can withstand its edge for long.  Even the strands of Chaos' Sigil, the Logrus, fall before it."

The alien hilt seems to glow, its looping twists of gold and silver softly shining in the sunlight as Cyan kneels and extends the sheathed sword on both palms.

"Gurthang, the Iron of Death."

This message was last edited by the player at 13:01, Sat 24 Dec 2011.

 player, 768 posts
 Off the beaten track
             ''Who am I?''
Tue 27 Dec 2011
at 20:07
Re: Part 71 - Interlude

"Oh, he wondered if humans need to exercise their lips so that their mouths would not seize up, but later decided that, if they do not keep on exercising those lips, their brains might actually start working."

She looked at the pair and the giggled, "I was, of course, merely jesting.  I have yet to grow cynical."

Then she pondered James' proposal, such as it was, and replied, "Yes, I could put together simple components, but not what you would call machines.  One part at a time, yes, not, say, a catapult.  Not yet.  In time I feel I can even create sentient life, in such that is will still be part of me, but not me, if that makes any sense?  Once I return home, if I do, I know I can create all I have seen here, and more, alive or dead.  Call it 'the big bang' if you will."  A gentle smile and then a brooding expression as she listened to Cyan.

"Please do provide any information you have on this... broken god... and I should be able to answer your question, at least more accurately."

Then, another smile, as she turned to look from James to Cyan and back again.  "I can help protect James.  In more than one way, I believe.  Both a form of, ah, force field, as when the cube was, hmm, integrated with us, if you will, and also this..."  She motioned behind Cyan and James, where now stood a multitude of James'.  "...and, I believe, completely shield your mind as I do mine and no one can tell who is the real James, as long as I stay near you, touching you.  And I being, well, me, we, us, for we are one and I am legion."

 player, 5208 posts
 Forged of dust,
 sunlight, and tears
Fri 30 Dec 2011
at 12:39
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
*OOC - Going to slip this one in as something before Cyan offers the sword to James, otherwise this gets REALLY confusing.*

Sadly, Banglen-Yp seems correct at least in part about people.  Though they more often have their good points, there have been times in the past Cyan has viewed exactly what the curious creature describes.

She herself has been guilty of it from time to time.

"Glad I am you can assist James," she murmurs, amazed by the 'woman's' demonstrations and wracking her thoughts for information.  Luke...had said something along those lines once, had he not?  I am legion.


"The Broken God..." she whispers.

"According to Berd, Metatron found the Broken God and Berd both, simultaneously.  Some terrible battle had transpired, and the Broken God had been torn apart, his remains cast wide across the Myriad World.  Berd had...consumed...some of him, and briefly scuffled with Metatron himself.  From time to time in our travels, we found bits of the Broken God - an arm, spots of blood.  That sort of thing.  They weakened the use of powers in their vicinity, kept peoples minds within their heads, nulled magic.  This they did when 'excited' - awakened, in a curious way."

She ponders the stories she had unearthed.  "I made some incorrect assumptions about the arm we found, but then we found the Broken God's face, kept alive in a terrible fashion by Harbonah.  It spoke to us, of ten thousand years of torment, and begged for death."  She stares down at her hands.  "I slew it upon Harbonah's altar."

"His name was Tiphereth."
 player, 769 posts
 Off the beaten track
             ''Who am I?''
Fri 30 Dec 2011
at 14:09
Re: Part 71 - Interlude
OOC:  Going to, through BBR, have Banglen-Yp receive additional information regarding the actual physical structure of the Broken God.  :)


A finger lifted as Banglen-Yp spoke again.  "Ah, one correction regarding my assistance to James...  As I grow stronger I also learn and you would not be able to tell who was the true James even without my mental 'block', although the latter do of course offer additional security, but it also cuts of the link between everyone, well, except 'all of me' of course."

Then she nodded at Cyan's words and briefly exchanged information over the link with Berd.  Taking on a brooding expression she spoke with thoughtful concern.

"There are two possibilities, as I understand.  The first is no doubt undesirable and might even become uncontrollable, the second is less likely to succeed -- still likely, but a bit less..."

"The first is a black hole.  I can easily become one, but I cannot guarantee that I can stop, plus it will devour anything within quite some distance, an ever increasing distance as well.  I might even consume this entire universe in the end.  Not the best solution, perhaps, but guaranteed to work."

"The second, if I understand the nature of the Broken God correctly, is to take on my... well, let us call it my 'cloud form', and in that state consume this piece of the Broken God.  It would most likely require all of me, meaning I cannot cover James, and it might take some time to safely digest it, during which time I would have no control over myself, consuming anything touching me, friend or foe, inanimate or not.  I cannot say how long it would take either.  Hours, days, weeks, years?  To me time is mostly irrelevant, perhaps soon completely so, but it is a factor for this enterprise, no?  However, in the end I would indeed digest it, and grow stronger, as I did with the cube."

She clapped her hands together and smile gently at those around, awaiting their reaction and input.