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Age of Blood And Bone, Epilogue One: Hard At Work

05 Sep 2009, 00:31

Second-last episode. Weird.
-----

There was a polite knock on the door of Cathak Damian’s office. Two quick raps, followed by a third after a moment. He looked up slowly, distracted from the paperwork in front of him. “Come in?”

The door swung open, revealing Jacint, the Prince Upon The Towers. Adorjan’s eighteenth soul smiled warmly at the Sidereal, inclining his head. “Forgive my intrusion, Master Damian. A friend asked me to convey her as quickly as possible.”

Stepping around him, Serafin, the Chaos In Order, Twenty-Sixth Soul of Gaia, smiled impishly. For all that she was a soul of Gaia, Damian reflected, she hadn’t changed much. There was more of a… glow, he supposed was the best word, but none of the alienness he’d expected. When questioned, she’d simply answered that if the whole point of the exercise was to have a soul to represent a human connection, why would that soul not look human?

On reflection, he’d been forced to agree with her. It didn’t make it any less odd, though.

“I figure, if you can’t abuse the hospitality of your fellow Unquestionable, what can you do?” Serafin said lightly. She turned and bowed to Jacint. “Thank you, sir.” Then she saw the paperwork, and frowned. “Oh, Damian. Really?”

Damian smiled back. In the last year, his face had grown wrinkled, and his hair had gone a very respectable shade of white. When he looked in the mirror, he barely recognized himself any more. “Just a few last things I need to get done before the party.” He gestured for Serafin to have a seat, stroking his mustache thoughtfully. He’d never bothered with one in the Second, preferring to look young, but life was short. Now. “The upcoming vote on the Golden Dragon Crusade, you know.”

Serafin nodded. “Oh, I know. Gaia’s voting for intervention, if you’re curious.”

“Maybe she can convince Cytherea or Luna to change their votes?” Damian said hopefully. “Last time I checked, Oramus was voting for no intervention, and all of the Eldest faction was onside – so there’s Wesmaken, Biraszha Haisz, and Cecelyne backing him. Meanwhile, Autochthon is pro-intervention, and you know how Adorjan, Zuratha, and Thari have started siding with him. It’s going to be down to the Practicals, I think, and they’d listen to Cytherea if she was on the same side as Gaia – you know She Who Lives In Her Name trusts the two of them when it comes to affairs within Creation, He Who Follows In His Wake always supports her, and Szoreny usually sides with Cytherea regardless.”

“I’ll ask. Cytherea always gets sore when she thinks she’s supporting something Luna approves of.” Serafin said wryly. “You really think the Primordials will decide this one?”

“Absolutely.” Damian replied, brandishing one of his reports. “The gods are split down the middle on which way to go with this thing, and they almost never change their minds.”

With a chuckle, Serafin snatched the paper out of his hands, looking over it. “You can’t blame them. The Exalted have dominion over Creation, it’s the Mandate of Heaven and it’s still more or less in effect since nobody won the Competition. Anyway, it’s a cooperation between Solar Exalts and Immaculate monks.”

“Yes, if they weren’t burning a swath across the Southern Desert in the name of some vague ideal of righteousness it would be heartwarming.” Damian said sourly. “You know, I really thought I’d seen the last of Peleps Deled.”

“Lucky you.” Serafin reached over again, grabbing Damian’s hand. “Now come on.”

“I’m not quite done.” Damian replied. “I’ve got these reports to file on the Deathlords – you know that the Sage has been spotted in the Underworld, and we haven’t gotten any armies into the Lion’s domain, plus the Dowager still controls the Well of Udr…”

“Jallen can handle those. He’s been looking into it. Come on.” Serafin replied amusedly.

Damien stood up uncertainly, then fished for another pile. “There’s the whole issue of how to integrate First Circle descendants of humanized Primordials…”

“Which really has nothing to do with you. Why are you even looking into that?”

Undaunted, Damian pressed on. “Houses Ragara, Peleps, and Cynis are still opposing Empress V’Neef’s claim that the Celestial Exalted have been purified of Anathema taint and restored to glory…”

“And someone else can deal with it.” Effortlessly, Serafin stretched an arm three feet across the table, wrapped her fingers around Damian’s waist like cables, and lifted. Carrying him in the air, she started for the door. “Honestly.”

“Sorry.” Damian said sheepishly, as Jacint inclined his head once again. Serafin placed him at the foot of the road outside the door, and gave him a push, and with a rueful laugh he stepped onto it. “I just get so involved in work. Master Cyrus used to say that I would miss my own funeral if there was another report to be filed.”

For a moment, Serafin walked in silence. “You nearly did.” She finally said.

Damian winced. “I didn’t mean…” He trailed to a halt. “You know that none of us blamed you.”

Serafin looked across the flickering landscape traversed by Jacint’s road, as the great being strolled behind them, and they walked the steps towards the Blessed Isle. “I know. I shouldn’t have…”

“You came to every one.” Damian said. “Every time one of the elder Exalted died this year, you were there at their funeral. Don’t tell me you don’t blame yourself.”

“I don’t regret my choice.” Serafin said firmly, not looking back.

“Do you regret having to make it?” Damian asked.

“Of course.”

There were another few moments of silence, then Damian nodded. “I wish I’d been able to save Millia.”

“That wasn’t your fault.” Serafin said softly.

“It was my decision to have her oversee the Iselsi. If I hadn’t…”

“Regrets are like snow in winter.” Serafin stopped, turning around. “Damian, Millia knew that she might die for Creation. You didn’t kill her, and I know she would forgive you. I already have.”

“Thank you.” Damian bowed his head.

“Come on, old man.” Serafin punched him lightly in the shoulder. “You’re retired, now. Enjoy your twilight.”

Damian chuckled, as he reached the other end of Jacint’s road. “I will.”
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Re: Age of Blood And Bone, Epilogue One: Hard At Work

05 Sep 2009, 03:48

Oh, yay. Deled and Lyta have an army. Quick everyone! Time to kill them! With Fire!

Nice to see that people are actually getting along now. More or less.
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Re: Age of Blood And Bone, Epilogue One: Hard At Work

05 Sep 2009, 12:30

Deled with Lyta? That brings to light all kinds of questions about what happened in hell. Though I may be forgetting something - it's been quite some time since that side-chapter, I think.
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