Series 13 – Episode 1 – The shortest route is not a straight line – Part 1

Previously:

The massed alchemical forces of Authocthon marched on Creation. They met our heroes at the gates of The Lap and battle was inevitable.

Mighty though a Solar Exalt is, they are few in number and could not hold the raging army swirling around the city.

Heaven’s Gaze entered the gates of Yu-Shan and convinced those with the power to use it to save The Lap. So it came that The Lap existed 20 miles to the south east, and had always existed there. The invading force marched on – toward their true objective, important enough for them to bypass The Lap entirely.

Now:

The sun rose over The Lap, a city still showing the scars of the battle that never happened. Some of those instrumental in saving it are still within the city, recovering, training, and helping with the rebuilding efforts.

On the road to the city, Lotus of the Solar Light, loyal worshiper of The Unconquered Sun and member of the rare race know as The Dragon Kings had travelled south from the Blessed Isle, a sense of unease growing within him at the sight of a massive convoy of mechanical vessels taking the opposite route.

His seven foot form, covered in scales and bulging with muscle was enough to freeze the blood in the veins of most mortal men, and the guards in the watchtowers of The Lap were no exception. He marched through the ruined gates while they fled to beg the presence of the Solars still within the city.

The Solars were greeting the dawn, and planning their next move, the Wanderer in White favouring an attack on the enemy supply lines, when the interruption came. They abandoned their discussions to face this new threat.

There was a sense of unease in the air when they challenged him, they were confident they could defeat the creature if there was need, but at a time like this, any new enemy was enough to make the heart sink and allow despair to strengthen its position.

It took the intervention of Ragara Anja to settle the matter. Lotus of the Solar Light had had dealings with Braxus before but that charismatic paladin had secluded himself in meditation within his airship hovering above the city, he had been unseen for days. However, Ragara Anja had been present at those events and could vouch for the scaled one.

The matter of allegiances settled, the Solars invited the Dragon King to join their council of war, now the wounds of the battle were healed it was time to return to the frey.

Shunning the Great Hall of the palace for a smaller room where they could be more comfortable, the fellowship breakfasted and heard the news their new companion brought with him.

The information came as a mixed blessing, if the Alchemicals took control of the Isle then Creation would be in even greater peril then it was already. However, as Son of Stone and Oak pointed out, this might finally give the Dragon Blooded the motivation they needed to involve themselves in the fight.

Getting to the Isle and warning the Dragon Blooded became the overriding priority, but getting there quickly enough would prove a challenge. Braxus’ airship might be fast enough, but would attract unwanted attention. The Empire was notoriously unfond of the Solar Exalted and would have to be approached through back channels. Fortunately, The Wanderer In White had had prior dealings with The Roseblack and believed himself able to get them an audience with her.

Reaching her would still be a problem. Flying to the city in a golden airship would not be subtle enough, the forces of the Empire would likely array against them if there were to try such a bold approach.

Ragara Anja suggested that a member of the Eclipse Caste might be able to persuade the Celestial Lions that their need was valid, and gain them permission to cross the paths of Yu-Shan.

So it came to pass that a band of some of the most powerful beings in Creation came to stand on the giant head carved out of the mountain into which The Lap is built. Ragara Anja concentrated for a moment, then passed her hand through the air, tracing the outline of a doorway.

The path taken by her hand blazed with golden light and she stepped through into heaven, accompanied by Lord Typhon.

The land beyond the gate was blanketed in grass of the brightest green and bathed in glorious sunlight. It was beautiful, and a sharp contrast to the mountain top from which they had stepped.

The gate was not unguarded – a golden lion, a full seventeen feet from paw to shoulder, stood before it and challenged those wishing to pass.

Channeling Essence from the air around him and focusing it through his anima, Lord Typhon invoked the ancient treaties between Yu-Shan and the Caste Eclipse, his caste mark blazing out from his forehead announcing to all that he was a Solar of that Caste, Exalted by the power of the Unconquered Sun, and willing to use the power of his rank to achieve his goals.

The Lion bowed, a remarkable sight in itself, and granted Typhon permission to enter heaven with those under his protection.

So it was that the others left the cool mountain top and stepped into Elysium fields, bathed in warm sunlight with air that was perfectly still.

The route to the Blessed Isle took them through the city, and they found their way impeded. First by the spirits of purposeless gods, who’s touch was disturbing, but ultimately insubstantial. They dissipated when Lord Typhon shouted out that their time was past.

When the group reached the more populated areas of the realm they found themselves pushing through crowds of people who were fascinated by the strangers arrival. One question could be heard on many of their lips, “Have the Solars returned?”

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