Series 13 – Episode 1 – The shortest route is not a straight line – Part 2

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?”

Time was passing so seeking a faster route to the gate that was their destination, Ragara Anja suggested using the canal network and asked if they should risk using the, much faster, gold channel.

Agreeing that it was for the best, the team took up their places aboard a barge requisitioned by the beautiful Sidereal. The boatman poled the vessel into the centre lane and it shot off across Yu-Shan at a fantastic rate.

It was not a great many minutes later that they arrived at their destination and departed from the barge. As the last of their number stepped onto the jetty they spotted an intimidating, mustachioed figure in robes rich enough to challenge the fashion sense of Lord Typhon approaching. He was accompanied by a tough looking assistant.

Ragara Anja had seemed uncertain about if they should be using the fast lane, and it seemed that her concerns were justified. The portly figure introduced himself as The Imperial Censor of Travel and demanded to know by what authority they dared use the gold lane.

Son of Stone and Oak gave silent prayer to The Unconquered Sun for granting him the foresight to take advantage of Heaven’s Gaze’s library while waiting for dinner to be served a few days previously, and channeled a little essence to aid his recall. He then fixed the official with a steely gaze and launched into a tirade of bureaucratic minutiae, quoting obscure travel regulations and invoking rarely seen clauses.

When he finally finished, the Censor broke eye contact, mumbled something that was probably an apology and backed away, shooing his assistant as he went.

The journey out of the city was much like the inward journey, and Ragara Anja explained how the purposeless gods came to be. The tale plucked at Son of Stone and Oak’s heart strings and he became more subdued then he usually was during a journey through places he didn’t truly understand – and there had been many of these journeys in the few months since he had left his homeland and found himself caught up in a battle for Creation itself.

The gate to the Blessed Isle was also guarded by a Celestial Lion, but the creature granted access once Lord Typhon and Ragara Anja explained the situation.

Before the group departed, the Lion warned that there was those in heaven who would welcome the return of the Solars, but also those who would work against them, and confessed to being one of the former.

Before stepping through the gateway, The Wanderer In White plucked a few blades of grass from the field and gave the sent of them to his animals, before tucking them away in a pouch. The gods of the grass would ensure it stayed fresh forever.

The head of The Lap may not have been the warmest place in Creation, but it was in the South, and the altitude was not so high as the point where this gate exited – very close to the centre of Creation, near the peak of The Imperial Mountain.

The ground was covered in snow, and a chill quickly settled in. Ragara Anja did not hesitate to teleport the group to the outskirts of the city, where it was decidedly warmer.

A group of Solars, Dragon Kings and Sidereal were not likely to be welcomed with open arms at the centre of power for the Dragon Blood Empire, so it was under cover of rain and darkness that the group headed to the palace of The Roseblack.

With a little expenditure of Essence, The Wanderer In White heightened his senses to incredible levels, such that he could make out the outline of the god of each rain drop that fell from the sky. With this level of awareness he stepped the group through the streets and alleyways, avoiding all others who felt the need to be out on a night when enough water fell from the sky to flood Nexus.

The final hurdle was the approach to The Roseblack’s estate, a relatively busy thoroughfare that one of Lotus of the Solar Light’s stature would be be hard pressed to cross unnoticed.

To sidestep the issue the group sequestered him within an outbuilding, accompanied by Ragara Anja, while the others made their approach to the abode of The Roseblack.

The Wanderer In White handed the doorkeeper a token, insisting the he take it to The Roseblack and that she would recognise it. Leaving the visitors standing in the torrential downpour, the functionary hurried off to perform this service.

Nearly quarter of an hour later he returned and bade the group enter, whence they were escorted into the presence of one of the most powerful Dragon Blooded in Creation.

The traditional round of small talk ensued, and The Roseblack made arrangements for the rest of the group to join the assembly.

They turned up shortly thereafter, although Lotus of the Solar Light was looking distinctly more human then he had a half hour previously. Gone were his scales and claws, replaced by rippling muscles covered with dark chocolate skin and a mighty battle axe. Some form of glamour? Or a deeper magical change? The group didn’t know, but there would be time to find out later. First, there was business to discuss with their host.

She knew, already, that the invasion was coming, but the might of the enemy was, it seemed, not enough to provoke unity from the Houses. Two of whom had already sent their armies off to face the Alchemicals on two fronts.

It was a foolish gesture that would lead to their certain destruction.

The Roseblack became hopeful at the prospect of the elemental allies that the Solar’s could bring to the battle, and less so at the thought of some of the more unsavory forces they could call upon.

She made it clear that any Solar presence on the battlefield with the Dragon Blooded would lead to a disastrous three-way melee – the hatred of the ‘Anathama’ was too deeply ingrained for most Terrestrial Exalts to work with the Solars.

Any involvement from her guests would have to be discrete or far from the fields of battle.

So it was that they were returning to The Wanderer In White’s suggestion of attacking the Alchemical supply lines when The Roseblack received another visitor.

Accompanied by two worryingly nondescript bodyguards, Lady Mnemon, daughter of The Scarlet Empresses and likely the strongest Dragon Blood active in Creation, entered the room.

Last Updated ( Monday, 29 September 2008 )

This entry was posted in .