The wispy air elemental slipped through the door of the Repository Of Perceptible Events, unnoticed by the two powerful gods standing watch. Neither so much as glanced in its direction. Nor did the Librarian, a towering god that seemed to be composed of ever-flowing ink that occasionally shaped the words of the book she was filing. The elemental slipped past them both, moving with purpose through the hallways, until it came to the ornate, jade-inlaid door of the Room Of Portentous Exaltation. This room, far smaller than the rest of the library, detailed the major effects upon Creation of all seven hundred of the Celestial Exalted. Unfortunately, only an Exalt or elder god had the capability of entering it.
Which wasnâ€™t a problem for the elemental. He stretched his arms, and then snapped his fingers, letting his sorcery spell slip away. The winds coalesced into the form of Thetram Nash, his anima flickering for a moment as his true Essence pathways reasserted themselves. As the Sidereal walked through the door into the room, he smiled. The last challenge.
His mind drifted back to the months it had taken him to reach this far. Seeking out Madame Marthesine, Goddess of Lost Things, in order to learn from her a secret lost to Creation. He sighed at the memory of the unique things that his allies in the Silver Court had traded to her, never to create again. From there, a brief but extremely dangerous journey to Meru, ancient home of the Exalted, to match the information he had been given to the original incarnations of five Solar Exalts. And then to Yu-Shan. Which was where things got complicated.
By interfering in the Competition and swearing himself to Serafin, Nash was officially a rogue agent. He had been forced to wrap his Charms, spells, and destinies around himself just to pass unseen, as he ever so gradually crossed the continent-sized city of Heaven. Finally, almost two months after he arrived, and three months since Calibration, he was here, and ready to grab the information he needed.
Swiftly, he crossed to the books about the Solar Exalted. The room was depressingly still. Once, long ago, seven hundred books sat here, each one trembling and growing as one of the Celestial Exalted worked some deed that changed Creation. At the dying days of the First Age, as the Celestials hid their deeds more and more, the room grew ever-quieter, and when the Solar Exalted were locked away, the Sidereals shrouded themselves in mystery, and the Lunars fled beyond the ability of the Loom to track them, the books had grown very still. A few years ago, however, when Nash visited the room, he found the books writing furiously once more, as a hundred and fifty Solars made new marks upon the world, and the Lunars and Sidereals acted with ever-more obvious flair.
Now, however, most of the books were gone. Nash looked over at the Sidereal books. Only forty-one still remained, the rest having been removed as Lytek sent messages from his ever-more crowded office warning of the death of this or that Exalt. The Solars were not far better off; slightly over hundred sat, alongside over a hundred and forty books of the Lunars. More would appear soon, but it took Lytek time to refresh shards. Not long â€“ perhaps a week apiece. But when they were dying in the current droves, they were far outstripping his ability to return them, and the paranoid god remained locked in his office to prevent the Infernals from interfering with the process; he had no assistants to speed his work â€“ assistants that had been necessary during the Primordial War. Meanwhile, the Exalted continued to die.
Nash turned his attention to the books themselves, and began to set about searching for the information that he required. One at a time, he reached for the books related to the names he had found, writing furiously. It was only a matter of time before someone stopped by, and he needed to be done and gone before that.
Three names and locations were inscribed, and he was searching for the fourth, when he heard a faint sound behind him. Spinning, he began to pull up the Violet Bier, and then paused.
The woman standing in the doorway blinked in surprise, upon seeing him. Her skin was pale grey, mottled with black, and long, drooping wings hung loosely behind her. Her hair was wispy-black, and when she smiled, it showed fangs. â€œThetram Nash?â€
â€œHarambia. This is a surprise.â€ Nash smiled at the sight, although he knew it could be problematic. The Goddess of Carnivorous Insects was an old acquaintance. â€œYou shouldnâ€™t be in here.â€ He paused. â€œHow did you get that door open, anyway?â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t close it, you silly man.â€ Harambia stepped forwards, with a faint smile. â€œYou must be very preoccupied. I donâ€™t remember you being quite soâ€¦ careless.â€
Nash frowned. â€œI did not leave itâ€¦â€ He trailed off. â€œYou were right behind me.â€
â€œThatâ€™s right.â€ Harambia smiled thinly. â€œI was interested in what an elemental would be doing in here. Instead, I seem to have caught a traitor to Heaven.â€
â€œThatâ€™s funny, coming from you.â€ Nash set back his book. â€œI may be against Heaven, but Iâ€™m serving Creation. I suggest you leave â€“ for old timesâ€™ sakes.â€
â€œYou got me audited, Thetram.â€ Harambia stepped forwards ominously, and the Sidereal swallowed.
â€œYou were breaking the rules. And you set the Leech Gods on me.â€
There was a pause. When the goddess spoke, it was more faintly. â€œYou knew that was me?â€
â€œYou didnâ€™t say anything.â€
â€œWellâ€¦â€ Nash blushed faintly. â€œOld timesâ€™ sakes.â€
There was a long pause, and then Harambia sighed. â€œI told the Lions that I saw someone coming in here. Theyâ€™ll be here any minute. You should go.â€ She leaned in, before he could react, and took his hands. â€œGood luck, Nash. I mean it.â€
Nash cursed under his breath, then nodded. â€œThank you.â€ He turned, and dashed from the room. He didnâ€™t have everything he had wanted, but it was close.
With any luck, it would be enough.