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Friv
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The Dynasty's Shadowed Light, Part 17 - For The Good Of All

20 May 2007, 00:00

Chejop Kejak was preoccupied as he strode through the halls of the Manse Of Forbidding Ivy towards his personal office. Attempting to limit the expansion of the Bull of the North, controlling the spiral towards war taking place between Gem and Paragon, directing the Realm… there were days that he simply wanted to throw it all down and retire. Of course, he could not, but the thought was gradually becoming a quiet dream at night – one that he imagined he would take with him to the grave, still working to protect the world.

So when he reached for his office door, and it swung open of its own volition, he was already framing a suitably sharp and humbling reprimand for whatever unfortunate Exalt or deity had dared to enter without his presence. The words died on his lips as he looked over the office itself.

Mercury, her hand still holding the door, bowed her head in a gesture of respect. Sitting cross-legged on his desk, Venus gave him a much less formal wink and wave. Jupiter merely nodded slightly, standing off to one side. Saturn and Mars, standing shoulder to shoulder in front of him, bowed.

Covering his shock, Kejak bowed back, to each in turn. The Five Maidens were standing in his office. All of them. At the same time. He racked his brain, imagining what might draw such personal attention of the current situations, and drew a blank. After a moment, he broke the silence. “My ladies. To what do I owe the honour?”

“A storm is coming.” Mercury’s voice was soft and sad. She looked upwards. “The ages turn. It begins today.”

Kejak frowned thoughtfully. “What manner of storm?”

“We may not say.” Jupiter shrugged slightly. “Be prepared. A secret is to be revealed, dark and terrible.”

Mars and Venus chimed in, in unison. “To war it leads, and to alliance. Your hand will point the way.”

Finally, Saturn stepped forwards, her voice a whisper promising the end of all things, so soft that Kejak had to strain to hear it. “The Bronze or Gold must fall today.”

Kejak’s breath caught in his throat. “Why?”

“You will see.” As Jupiter spoke, the Maidens filed one by one from the room. Kejak bowed again as they left, until only Jupiter remained. “You have a choice, Kejak. Both paths lead to ruin. Choose well. Choose wisely.”

And then she was gone.

Kejak sank into his desk, thinking furiously. The Bronze or Gold must fall? That was as ominous as he could imagine, but he couldn’t see how it would be his choice. He’d been trying to convince those Gold Faction fools to abandon their cause for years, now.

A knock came on the door, urgent and quick. He almost dismissed it, but caught him, and spoke. “Come in.”

The door opened once more, and Harakken Cyrus entered. Kejak looked up sharply as he spoke, his voice filled with pain. “Kejak. Twice-Breathing Millia is dead. Murdered.”

“How?” Chejop Kejak had spent millennia watching the Loom, and guiding destiny. Now, as Cyrus spoke, he felt its jaws closing around him, the jaws of the storm.

“A dagger thrust to the back, and one to the heart. Starmetal. Within her office in Yu-Shan.”

“A Sidereal?” Kejak couldn’t hide his disbelief.

“A member of the Gold Faction. I don’t know who.”

“Impossible!” Kejak shook his head, rubbing his brow. “There are laws, rules. And Millia – she is a child. She is barely a member of our faction at all. For what reason – ”

By way of answer, Cyrus reached into his robes and withdrew a thick stack of scrolls, which he dropped onto the desk. “Millia was researching the Iselsi for me – my own duties have kept me occupied, as you know. She discovered something I had missed – astrological occlusion.” He paused, swallowed. “She traced it. Discovered that the Gold Faction has been using connections within the Iselsi to smuggle Solars out of the Realm. The Iselsi themselves had no idea – they believed it was Realm spies.”

Kejak’s jaw clenched, and he reached to look over the scrolls. Those bastards. But Cyrus’s next words drove the breath from him.

“They’ve established training camps, Kejak. Organized Solars into Circles and taught mortals to worship them – as before.”

“No.” He couldn’t speak the word, only shape it. As he looked over the scrolls, increasing horrified, Cyrus simply nodded. “How many? How many Solars have they gathered?”

“At least seventy.” Kejak sank back in his chair, and Cyrus took a breath. “And that’s not the worst of it. They have also stolen Lunars. And allowed an Abyssal entrance.”

“Those idiots.” Kejak looked over the scroll, unseeing. “They’ll rouse the fury of the Pact. They’ll hand their organization to the Deathlords.” He looked up. Now he understood. No matter what his course of action, it would lead to ruin. There were only two choices now.

Surrender, or war.

Cyrus’s voice was filled with need. “Kejak, what do we do?”

Chejop Kejak stood, his voice firming. “I want three strike teams assembled within an hour. I want a member of the Inner Circle on each of them, along with six more Sidereals who are extremely combat-capable and completely reliable. I want as many gods and elementals as we can trust absolutely, and no one else.” He looked through the wall, seeing the future unfold. “In one hour, I will use my sorcery to send a message to every Sidereal in Creation. These training camps will be destroyed. Every Solar present at them will be killed. The Gold Faction will back away from them, and allow this to happen.”

“And if they do not?” Cyrus was too diplomatic to say ‘when’.

Kejak’s face hardened. “Anyone who fights alongside the Solars at those camps will be declared a traitor to the Bureau and an enemy of Creation.”

For a few moments, Cyrus could not respond. Kejak’s voice softened. “This madness must end, Cyrus. We must stop it.”

“Of course. I will pass the word.” Hanging his head, Cyrus turned and left the room. Kejak watched him go, feeling his world collapsing beneath him. For all that he had known this day might come, he had prayed that it never would.

As he walked out from the office, Cyrus kept his face schooled in a mask of sorrow. In truth, it took less effort than he had imagined. There was no joy in his victory.

He turned a corner, and found himself face to face with the Five Maidens.

“You have destroyed everything.” Saturn’s voice held the accusation that the others showed on their faces.

“And you can do nothing.” Cyrus let his rage and hurt boil forwards, glancing around to ensure their solitude – although he had known it must be absolute for the Maidens to confront him thus. “You are forbidden from harming the Primordials or their servants, nor may you take actions to interfere in the Competition.” His eyes bored into them. “Your day is done, betrayers. The world will return to its rightful destiny.”

“The game is not yet played.” Jupiter’s voice held sorrow, but also a hint of that insufferable smugness.

“Believe me, Maiden. Not even you can escape Sacheverall’s weavings.” Cyrus pushed roughly past the Maidens, walking down the hallway. “Enjoy your final weeks as the rulers of Creation, because the storm is coming. And when it arrives, it will wash your filth away.”
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

Patchwork Champions - You say "to-ma-toe", I say "world-ravaging-laser-beam".
 
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Dinosaur
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20 May 2007, 08:25

Playing Chejop Kejak like a ukelele, part one: selecting a Chejop Kejak. Be specific! Be outside of fate, completely and utterly, when making your decisions!
 
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Deaths Pale Mistress
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21 May 2007, 06:48

You know when a Maiden show's up in your office shit is about to the fan. When all FIVE Maiden's are in your office - either their there to whack you personally or say what they just told the most blind of all the Sidereal.

It'll be interesting to see how this play's out. I await news of Kejak's demise.

:mow:

Friv, excellent work. Loved the Venus/Mars talking in unison thing...awesomesauce.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
 
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BrilliantRain
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21 May 2007, 11:52

You know, if all five Maidens show up in your office, one would think that this was a warning that the next course of action you intend to take is a bad one. I mean, Chejop would have done exactly what he did do without their advice. Maybe not all out war, but it would have been big. You would think that having all the Maidens show up and prophesy at you might cause you to be more introspective.

I hate the Great Curse.
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Epiphany
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21 May 2007, 12:27

I am increasingly creeped out by odd parallels between my stories and Friv's whether it comes from Infernal Sidereals or the appearance of Chejop and/or the Maidens.

Ahem.

I think Chejop could be a bit more objective here, Great Curse notwithstanding. It does seem that he was all shocked when the Maidens showed up, then brain went right out the window when Cyrus told him about the camps. Also...I kinda was under the impression that the Bronze knew what the Gold were up to with their Cult of the Illuminated, they just didn't have details on where, how many...or have resources to deal with those pet projects.

My thought is that Cyrus used Infernal mojo and steered Kejak's head, though. That's the nifty thing about Infernals, especially Sidereal Infernals. If they understand what Out of Fate is, then...well, Kejak could be influnced in ways he wouldn't remotely believe possible because of Sidereal reliance on the understanding of In-Fate Essence effects. Though, again, one might assume that Sidereal Demon-Hunters, of all people, would know exactly what Demons can do. And those they empower.

As before, Cyrus steals the show. In just a few chapters, Friv, you've hooked my interest on the character and sold me on him as a compelling character.

My guess is that he feels the Incarna are responsible for Creation's ills...and while he may hate the Gods, he doesn't seem to hate the mortals of Creation. And may, in fact, be betraying the Maidens on their behalf.

At least, that might be how he sees it. Whether or not the Yozi's, if freed, would prove to be the masters he thinks they might be toward mortals...remains to be seen. :D
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Kailan: If people only ever got what they deserved, the world would be a more miserable place.

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Friv
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21 May 2007, 13:41

fallstavia wrote:
I think Chejop could be a bit more objective here, Great Curse notwithstanding. It does seem that he was all shocked when the Maidens showed up, then brain went right out the window when Cyrus told him about the camps. Also...I kinda was under the impression that the Bronze knew what the Gold were up to with their Cult of the Illuminated, they just didn't have details on where, how many...or have resources to deal with those pet projects.


There's a quote in Castebook: Dawn that originally gave me the idea for this sequence. It's a letter from Ascending Cloud, a Bronze Faction Sidereal, to Chejop Kejak, immediately after he recommends a massive lock-down and Wyld Hunts stationed at every port:

"We have received reports that the Gold Faction has already recruited two Anathema. I fear what will happen if they get their hands on a third - especially one of the Forsaken.

Those fools hope to bring back the horrors of the Old Realm. The world was almost destroyed once by those power-mad godlings - if they get another chance, I'm afraid they will succeed."

That's the level of panic when they think the Gold Faction has three Solars. Having the idea of seventy Solars allied together and benefiting from Gold Faction training - it's pretty much Kejak's worst nightmare happening before him.

My thought is that Cyrus used Infernal mojo and steered Kejak's head, though. That's the nifty thing about Infernals, especially Sidereal Infernals. If they understand what Out of Fate is, then...well, Kejak could be influnced in ways he wouldn't remotely believe possible because of Sidereal reliance on the understanding of In-Fate Essence effects. Though, again, one might assume that Sidereal Demon-Hunters, of all people, would know exactly what Demons can do. And those they empower.


Cyrus is actually being even more cunning than that - he's just presenting information in a faked panic, and using mundane social attacks to push all of Kejak's Motivation + Great Curse buttons. He's had 1500 years to figure out how to push Kejak.

Without the Great Curse, I'd suspect that Kejak would back down, here. But the training camps are the doom of the Bronze Faction if they aren't flattened. And accepting that the Bronze Faction must fall is something the Great Curse won't let him do.

As before, Cyrus steals the show. In just a few chapters, Friv, you've hooked my interest on the character and sold me on him as a compelling character.

My guess is that he feels the Incarna are responsible for Creation's ills...and while he may hate the Gods, he doesn't seem to hate the mortals of Creation. And may, in fact, be betraying the Maidens on their behalf.

At least, that might be how he sees it. Whether or not the Yozi's, if freed, would prove to be the masters he thinks they might be toward mortals...remains to be seen. :D


Cyrus's motives and goals will be expanded on as the chapters progress. But yeah, some definate god-hating going on there. :twisted:
"Some people walk in the rain. Others merely get wet."

Patchwork Champions - You say "to-ma-toe", I say "world-ravaging-laser-beam".
 
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Kailan
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21 May 2007, 16:23

Well, the only issue I see with Kejak's reaction as you put it is that in the Sidereal splat, he makes a reference to the Gold Faction's training camps during a debriefing at the very beginning of the book... which implies to me that he already knows about them, knows they have Solars, and so forth.

Honestly, I'd be more inclined to say that his reaction would have been due to the fact that Millia appeared to have been murdered by one of the Gold. At the very least, their "madness" in attempting to ensure their ascendancy and absolute righteousness in their path would be a good reason to try and neutralize them.

In short: the Gold have gotten desperate and crazy enough to openly murder fellow Sidereals in Yu-Shan itself, so the Bronze can take the kid gloves off now. :)

But that was just the way I took the chapter when I read it.
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