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Age of Blood and Bone, Part 60: Rock Falls, Everybody Dies

21 Jul 2009, 01:29

At least, that's the plan.
-----

“Mnemon? Can you hear me in there, Mnemon, or is there nothing left of you but ghoststuff travelling through circuits?” The Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Waters laughed lightly, holding the crystal Hearthstone of the Imperial Manse in his hands. To his right, Mnemon’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 Prince’s feet. “Your systems should be coming back online now, Mnemon.”

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. “You know, Mnemon, I am very much going to miss our time together. Poor Sorrows – he never saw it coming, really. I possessed him months ago, of course, weeks before ‘he’ 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.” With a pleasant smile, he stepped over to the console, running fingers lightly across it. “I 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.” There was a hesitant pause before he spoke again. “Although I have to admit, I didn’t think quite so many of us would be that weak. I expected five or six survivors.” The moment passed, and he bustled on, slotting the hearthstone into its socket. “But 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.” He bowed elaborately. “Without your guidance, the Sword of Creation would have vaporized me halfway down here. I owe you everything.” The last of the lights on the console shifted, turning the entire arrangement gold and white, and the screens came alive. “And here we go…”

“What is your bidding?” The voice was Mnemon’s, but it was flat. Emotionless. The Prince let out a chuckle at the sound.

“Ah, dear Mnemon. Could you hear me?”

“Yes.” The reply was simple. The Prince laughed out loud.

“And how did you feel about my little revelation?”

“I felt nothing.” The reply was simple, and the Prince sighed.

“Well, that rather takes the fun out of it. Ah, well, you already recognized that I defeated you.” With another shrug, he moved on. “I suppose you want to know the target of our little firing.”

“I cannot direct the Sword without a target.” The system replied with Mmemon’s voice.

“Of course you can’t.” The Prince chuckled again, in high spirits. “Then 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 Sword’s designed output range. I might wipe a nation or two off the map, but that will be all, and there won’t be a Shadowland left afterwards. Not worth it to remove one or two Conduits. No, let’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 hadn’t heard of, and I want you to fire on Malfeas.” He leaned forwards, looking at the grid, amused by the silence of the Sword’s calculations. “Yes, Mnemon, that’s right. We’re using your plan. Aren’t you proud?”

“No.” Came the response. The Prince laughed again.

“Ah, as bitter and hate-filled as ever, even without emotions. My dear Mnemon, I very nearly love you.” He pressed on. “There will be a slight difference, of course. We will be keeping the burst up until the Sword fractures.”

“That would irreparably damage the Sword of Creation.” The system pointed out solemnly.

“Oh, it will do quite a bit more than that. It will blast away at every layer of the Yozis’ 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.” Taking a step back, the Bodhisattva looked around the room proudly. “When you fire, the Yozi will die. All of them. And the shockwave of the Sword’s breaking will draw their death-screams into Creation. A shadowland will form two thousand miles across, centered on the Imperial Mountain.”

“Briefly.” The Sword said.

“Ah, you saw that too. Yes, it would last only until nightfall, in… 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.” The Silver Prince grinned widely. “Millenia of planning have led to this moment, Mnemon, and it’s all thanks to you. Now. How long until you have a firing pattern.”

“Five minutes.”

“Really.” The Prince’s smiled faded slightly. “Slower than in my days. To be expected of Dragon-Blooded engineering, I suppose.” He shrugged. “Well, no matter. We still need something to complete this. Here’s what you need to do right now…”

-----

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.

“How long?” Thelos asked softly.

“Autochthon tells me that the Manse is online. Once it finishes targeting, he can feed it the formula.” Serafin’s eyes were closed as she acted as the link, Gaia communing with her brother. “Five minutes. Maybe less.”

A moment later, a crystalline image began to take shape in the Dome. Everyone watched in surprise as Mnemon’s face appeared, devoid of emotion. “Serafin. I am in the Imperial Manse, preparing for activation. The Silver Prince is here as well. Distract him.”

The image winked out. Everyone gaped. Serafin cursed under her breath. “We were afraid of that, but I’d hoped… well, never mind what I hoped.” She looked over to where Nash’s body lay, draped under a funeral cloth that a pair of Celestial Lions had brought, then back to her fellow Conduits. “It looks like I was spared for a reason. The gods can’t interfere with the Competition, and the Manse’s defenses would slaughter any of you.”

“It could be a trap.” The Perfect observed.

“It 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.” Serafin stood, with a smile. “If everything goes well, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

“And if not?” Asked Thelos.

“Then it won’t matter.” And with that grim thought, Serafin wove magic through her hands, closing her eyes as her old spell sought out her compatriot. “Mnemon, my Faithful Ally… here I come.”

And then the air rippled, and she was gone.
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Re: Age of Blood and Bone, Part 60: Rock Falls, Everybody Dies

21 Jul 2009, 03:46

Heh. I knew that causing Mnemon to become one with the Imperial Manse would bite him in the ass.
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Re: Age of Blood and Bone, Part 60: Rock Falls, Everybody Dies

21 Jul 2009, 03:59

I do wonder though - is that was the Silver Prince told Mnemon she needed to do right then? Does he want Serafin there for a reason?
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Re: Age of Blood and Bone, Part 60: Rock Falls, Everybody Dies

21 Jul 2009, 09:46

We'll find out for certain on the next bend around.
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