At least, that's the plan.
â€œMnemon? Can you hear me in there, Mnemon, or is there nothing left of you but ghoststuff travelling through circuits?â€ The Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Waters laughed lightly, holding the crystal Hearthstone of the Imperial Manse in his hands. To his right, Mnemonâ€™s corpse was still splayed undignified across the floor of the transfer chamber, her daiklave lying shattered around her. Her tiara had been forcibly removed, and was now lying at the Silver Princeâ€™s feet. â€œYour systems should be coming back online now, Mnemon.â€
He waited a moment, but was rewarded only by a solitary red light turning green. He sighed heavily, his voice tinged with a mockery of regret. â€œYou know, Mnemon, I am very much going to miss our time together. Poor Sorrows â€“ he never saw it coming, really. I possessed him months ago, of course, weeks before â€˜heâ€™ learned the secret of the Deathlords. The instant that the Lover let the secret slip through her fingers, I knew we were doomed, so I took steps.â€ With a pleasant smile, he stepped over to the console, running fingers lightly across it. â€œI arranged for any Deathlord foolish enough to fail to anticipate what was to come to die, so that their property would fall to the official Conduits of the Neverborn.â€ There was a hesitant pause before he spoke again. â€œAlthough I have to admit, I didnâ€™t think quite so many of us would be that weak. I expected five or six survivors.â€ The moment passed, and he bustled on, slotting the hearthstone into its socket. â€œBut still, you played your part wonderfully. On the day that we were to die, I killed Sorrows once and for all and destroyed his Monstrance so that you would never see that it had been filled once more. I stood by you and sabotaged your plans, and in return you led me to the very heart of Creation. Thank you, Mnemon.â€ He bowed elaborately. â€œWithout your guidance, the Sword of Creation would have vaporized me halfway down here. I owe you everything.â€ The last of the lights on the console shifted, turning the entire arrangement gold and white, and the screens came alive. â€œAnd here we goâ€¦â€
â€œWhat is your bidding?â€ The voice was Mnemonâ€™s, but it was flat. Emotionless. The Prince let out a chuckle at the sound.
â€œAh, dear Mnemon. Could you hear me?â€
â€œYes.â€ The reply was simple. The Prince laughed out loud.
â€œAnd how did you feel about my little revelation?â€
â€œI felt nothing.â€ The reply was simple, and the Prince sighed.
â€œWell, that rather takes the fun out of it. Ah, well, you already recognized that I defeated you.â€ With another shrug, he moved on. â€œI suppose you want to know the target of our little firing.â€
â€œI cannot direct the Sword without a target.â€ The system replied with Mmemonâ€™s voice.
â€œOf course you canâ€™t.â€ The Prince chuckled again, in high spirits. â€œThen let me tell you. You were right, after all. If I go after Creation, what does it get me? No more than one full-power burst, well short of the Swordâ€™s designed output range. I might wipe a nation or two off the map, but that will be all, and there wonâ€™t be a Shadowland left afterwards. Not worth it to remove one or two Conduits. No, letâ€™s go for a larger target. I want the Sword at full power. I want you to aim through that gateway that you thought I hadnâ€™t heard of, and I want you to fire on Malfeas.â€ He leaned forwards, looking at the grid, amused by the silence of the Swordâ€™s calculations. â€œYes, Mnemon, thatâ€™s right. Weâ€™re using your plan. Arenâ€™t you proud?â€
â€œNo.â€ Came the response. The Prince laughed again.
â€œAh, as bitter and hate-filled as ever, even without emotions. My dear Mnemon, I very nearly love you.â€ He pressed on. â€œThere will be a slight difference, of course. We will be keeping the burst up until the Sword fractures.â€
â€œThat would irreparably damage the Sword of Creation.â€ The system pointed out solemnly.
â€œOh, it will do quite a bit more than that. It will blast away at every layer of the Yozisâ€™ defenses until nothing remains. Their prison was designed for the Sword to be able to destroy them, if the Solars felt the need. Of course, that was before the extend of shadowlands were understood.â€ Taking a step back, the Bodhisattva looked around the room proudly. â€œWhen you fire, the Yozi will die. All of them. And the shockwave of the Swordâ€™s breaking will draw their death-screams into Creation. A shadowland will form two thousand miles across, centered on the Imperial Mountain.â€
â€œBriefly.â€ The Sword said.
â€œAh, you saw that too. Yes, it would last only until nightfall, inâ€¦ oh, an hour or so? Then the Imperial Mountain will fall into the Void. At which point Creation will unravel at a truly hideous speed. Yu-Shan and Autochthon, connected, will follow Creation into the Void, and nothing will remain.â€ The Silver Prince grinned widely. â€œMillenia of planning have led to this moment, Mnemon, and itâ€™s all thanks to you. Now. How long until you have a firing pattern.â€
â€œReally.â€ The Princeâ€™s smiled faded slightly. â€œSlower than in my days. To be expected of Dragon-Blooded engineering, I suppose.â€ He shrugged. â€œWell, no matter. We still need something to complete this. Hereâ€™s what you need to do right nowâ€¦â€
In Heaven, the Conduits were waiting nervously. The assembled gods, not wanting to stay but afraid to leave, were simply watching their ancient enemies, now possible allies, with trepidation.
â€œHow long?â€ Thelos asked softly.
â€œAutochthon tells me that the Manse is online. Once it finishes targeting, he can feed it the formula.â€ Serafinâ€™s eyes were closed as she acted as the link, Gaia communing with her brother. â€œFive minutes. Maybe less.â€
A moment later, a crystalline image began to take shape in the Dome. Everyone watched in surprise as Mnemonâ€™s face appeared, devoid of emotion. â€œSerafin. I am in the Imperial Manse, preparing for activation. The Silver Prince is here as well. Distract him.â€
The image winked out. Everyone gaped. Serafin cursed under her breath. â€œWe were afraid of that, but Iâ€™d hopedâ€¦ well, never mind what I hoped.â€ She looked over to where Nashâ€™s body lay, draped under a funeral cloth that a pair of Celestial Lions had brought, then back to her fellow Conduits. â€œIt looks like I was spared for a reason. The gods canâ€™t interfere with the Competition, and the Manseâ€™s defenses would slaughter any of you.â€
â€œIt could be a trap.â€ The Perfect observed.
â€œIt probably is. But traps spring both ways, and now that the Manse is powering up, its defenses are offline for a few minutes. I need to get in there.â€ Serafin stood, with a smile. â€œIf everything goes well, Iâ€™ll see you in a few minutes.â€
â€œAnd if not?â€ Asked Thelos.
â€œThen it wonâ€™t matter.â€ And with that grim thought, Serafin wove magic through her hands, closing her eyes as her old spell sought out her compatriot. â€œMnemon, my Faithful Allyâ€¦ here I come.â€
And then the air rippled, and she was gone.