Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
It was a sight that those that bore witness would likely never see again. Zis, the Ziggurat of Infinite Suffering, an abyssal whose power had grown ten fold in only a few years, cradled a form in her arms like one would a sick child.
She moved with a slow, deliberate gait, deftly avoiding the obstacles of the uneven ground all while seeming to be focused only upon the charge she carried. Even as she crossed the short distance between where Mercury’s Envy had landed and her apartment in the Eastern Grove she could feel the resonance building within her. But she didn’t care. No force on Creation would stop her in her task.
The other half of this bizarre tableau was the fragile solar Zis carried. Even before her exaltation Mnemia had been a woman of power and authority. And in the years since she had become a devastating force few could face directly and survive. Yet, in the Abyssal’s arms, she appeared a broken woman. Gone were her weapons and armor, replaced by a simple shift now torn and bloodied. Bruises covered most of her body, and her hands looked bloody, raw and swollen. Still, she clung to her companion, her arms looked around the other woman’s neck. Returning from the Nine Fold Manse, Zis was all she had left.
The solemn procession was undisturbed by mortal or exalt, despite the desire many had to help. Mnemia had many friends among those that watched the events unfold, but none of them had a right to interfere if this was a burden Zis wished to taken upon herself. And so they did nothing.
Finally reaching the small living space Mnemia and Zis shared when staying in the Eastern Grove, Zis backed through the hanging curtain, careful to not allow Mnemia’s head or feet to strike the entryway. But as she turned to face forward the abyssal came to an abrupt stop, a hiss of surprise escaping her lips. Standing in front of her, as if waiting for her, was a tall man. His long hair in a topknot, the only clothing he wore was a wrap around his waist that hung down to just above his knees. Upon his exposed chest lines and swirls were clearly evident, tattoos that radiated power.
“I don’t know who you are,” Zis began, the venom in her voice unmistakable. “but you will leave immediately.”
“I would not respond so hastily.” the man came back, his voice calm and his face revealing nothing. “If I step from this room without what I came for your companion there will never be granted the inking techniques she has requested.”
At his words Mnemia turned her head and opened her eyes a bit. “So… you are the tattoo master… Seychelles said… would…”
“Mnemia, please.” Zis insisted, looking upon Mnemia as each word seemed to be more and more labored. Then turning her gaze back to the lunar, “I’m afraid this is not an acceptable time for you two to discuss this matter.”
“On the contrary,” the lunar responded. “this is the only time we will ever be able to discuss this matter.”
“What are… you… talking about?” Mnemia asked before Zis could respond herself.
“That is not your concern. You will answer my questions to my satisfaction, or the lunar tattoo techniques will not be yours. Ever. There will be no additional discussions, no second chances.”
“This is absurd!” Zis shot back. “Mnemia, please, you need to rest. Don’t listen to him. If this ass refuses to help we can find another way.”
“There is no other way.” the lunar continued, fire coming to his eyes. “I am Maori, the Steward of the Inscription. You will perform to my satisfaction or the secrets of the lunars will be forever lost to you.”
“Steward of the… please Mnemia, this is absurd. He’s probably just some…”
“I will answer your questions.” Mnemia responded softly, interrupting Zis.
“Mnemia…” Zis tried again.
“Very well.” the lunar said, ignoring the abyssal. Taking a pair of steps forward he came close enough to reach out and touch Mnemia. As he did Zis held her ground. Every instinct demanded that she retreat, or fight, but Mnemia had asked for this, so she stood unmoving.
“I know of your exploits Tya Mnemia, and they trouble me. Your actions, even the most altruistic, have been self serving. You have claimed Nexus as your own, yet you only serve to put it in danger, you only aid your friends when it serves your end and even the events involving Leviathan were not what they seemed; your efforts driven by a desire to reclaim what was yours.”
“Wait…” Zis began, but the lunar would not be stopped.
“You don’t serve Creation, you see it as a prize to be won.”
“I am only… one woman.” Mnemia responded, fatigue still thick in her voice.
“No, you are a solar. You are beyond such excuses. And the fact that you don’t see it damns you even more.”
“You don’t… understand…”
“Then you had best make sure I understand.”
Mnemia tried to sit more upright in Zis’ arms, but mostly failed. “For all our power we are… still young. We still have much to re… restore.”
“Do not waste my time. Give me words of meaning and import or say nothing at all.”
In her arms Zis could feel Mnemia begin to tense, her body fighting the strain of the past 24 hours. “You do not know me lunar… You know nothing of why I do… what I do. You hear stories and think them fact… and are a fool for it.”
“A fool is it? Do you deny that you are trying to build armies of men and machine? Do you deny that you seek the secrets of your past self?”
“I…” Mnemia began, but words failed her.
“And what would you do if you recovered your arete-series artificial heroes from the Bull of the North? What would you do with the fleets of your first age self? What would you do with Raxin’s elemental engine? Tell me solar,” the lunar continued, reaching out to jab a finger at Mnemia’s chest. “what will you do with the power to destroy all life within Creation?”
“I…” Mnemia began, her eyes wide. “am not…” And with a flare of light she went totemic, the phoenix rising above her. As it did she reached out with a speed unexpected, grabbing the lunar’s wrist. “Raxin!”
Where she had found the essence to activate Increasing Strength Exercise was unclear, but with the lunar’s arm caught within her grasp she swung her legs away from Zis, setting them down on the ground and standing on her own power.
“I am not Raxin and I will never be!” Mnemia now towered over the lunar, driving him beneath her, pain clear on his face. “I will… never be.” She hissed before relaxing her grip and letting him go.
“Please… leave…” the solar continued, turning away and beginning to walk to her room. “I will find… another way…” It would seem that the essence fueled strength was fading quickly, as quickly as it had come. Turning her attention away from the lunar Zis ran forward, supporting the other woman before she could fall.
“That will not be necessary.” the lunar said, rising to his feet, his wrist clutched in his hand. “Luna whispered in my ear that I would meet you in this place at this time and learn the truth of your heart. Broken but not defeated I would know your mettle and your wisdom.”
Halting her steps, Mnemia turned back to face the Steward of the Inscription.
“My kind are guardians, protectors and stewards. Creation in all its many facets is our charge. But Raxin, in his paranoia he would have seen it all destroyed. I had to be sure that he… I had to know that I was not helping to revive the great destroyer.”
“This was a test!” Zis shouted. “You would do this now!?”
“It had to be now and I had to know.” he said, looking at Zis as he answered before turning back to Mnemia. “And now I must ask forgiveness.”
“You knew… Raxin?” Mnemia asked. “Are you my…”
“No.” the lunar responded, shaking his head. “But there are some names, spoken in secret, names of those that would undo all that we had worked for. His is one of those names and his totem is known to us. But I don’t know how it was my people know of his failed ambitions.”
Mnemia nodded slightly, almost imperceptibly. Even after all of this, an attack when she was most vulnerable, she voiced the words, “Thank you.” before stumbling away to rest.