Et Ecce Equus Pallidus

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Act 1: Et Ecce Equus Pallidus | In Memoria, Adytum

Et Ecce Equus Pallidus

The cloister was silent save for the steady hiss and whir of the recirculating fans that kept the air in this place from going fetid. The space was dimly lit by ancient light bulbs hidden in recessed pits far above the tables. While the occupants of this place had long ago outgrown the need for light, one still needed something to let one see words printed on a page.

"The Foundation has retrieved the Thorn, brother."

Her voice was soft, a breathy whisper amidst the soft susurration of the air purifiers. A figure moved into the dim light of the room, running her hands lightly along one of the nearly-endless bookshelves as she did so. She was small, diminutive. If not for the timbre of her voice, one would have suspected that she was a child.

"Yes. I felt it too. Not long now."

This voice, while just as quiet as the first, reverberated and echoed from the walls, almost as if the room itself was speaking. In a way, that wasn't so far from the truth, the girl-figure supposed. It had been centuries since she could tell where her brother ended and the hypogeum began.

She stepped back as one of the humunculi her brother used brushed past her, entirely focused on whatever task he had sent it on. They didn't bother her either, anymore. The things weren't people, had never been people, but something in the way they moved was unnatural, wrong.

A soft laugh escaped from her in a snort. As if "natural" had anything to do with them anymore. She was fairly certain that they had both passed "natural" over five millennia ago. There were many gifts given to them, and biological immortality was the least of a whole host of unnatural things that they had done in furtherance of the Plan.

"Are we ready for it to start so soon?"

She moved out into the center of the space and looked up at what remained of her brother, the man she'd once called Nadox, and one none would ever call "man" again. Parts of him moved and quivered in the shadows of this place, and for a moment she could no longer distinguish between the sound of his breathing and the rush of air from the ventilation fans.

"It doesn't matter anymore. It begins, whether we are prepared or not. We shall have to wait and see if our centuries of labor have been in vain."

Saarn smiled up at the grotesquerie that had once been the Ozi̮rmok's sage and closest friend. Brilliant twinges of excitement like nothing she had felt in centuries flared within her breast, and an indecent thrill trembled through her body.

"The Foundation still doesn't know what they have. That little jaunt with the Lodge may have warned them that someone wants it, but that was anticipated. The Mothers were impatient."

A low rumble filled the chamber and she involuntarily stepped back from the edifice of Flesh her brother had become. Then the upswell of Nadox' rage subsided as quickly as it had arose.

"It doesn't matter anymore. They won't own Orok's children for much longer. Send the call."

The ancient spy grinned once more at her brother as she executed a curt bow and exited the chamber. The scrolls had been kept for centuries. She remembered sitting with the Ozi̮rmok as they all wrote them, under his guidance, all those years ago.

Yes. They would have to wait and see, indeed.

Morbus -
Lucien Dutoit, sometimes known as Karcist Mānsatt'āppaṁ Kunna Kalākāran sighed as he looked down at the letter that had been dropped atop his desk. An honest-to-gods letter.

He sighed and picked it up. The Elders were good at a great many things, but apparently not email. At least no one was going to hack a letter. He glanced over at the door to his office, assuring himself for the third time since he noticed the scroll case on his desk that he was unobserved. An email would have been so much easier.

He whispered a few words in a language most had forgotten and passed his fingers across the coiled tendon holding the scroll case closed, releasing the poisoned barb hidden within. He grimaced as the flap of skin slid obscenely back from the orifice at the end of the case. The entire thing shuddered ecstatically as it disgorged a thin tube of parchment.

With a gentle caress he uncurled the paper and began to read the words written in a flowing, yet precise hand. It took him only a moment before the impact of what was written there struck home.

It was time.

Bellum -
Karcist Halyna Ieva, who was only Layla Helen Pirani when she felt like it, was curious. It was them. They had sent her a letter.

How many centuries had it been? How many wars, how many awakenings? Were they once her comrades? Leaders, perhaps? Servants? Did it matter?

"Is something wrong, mistress?" asked a young initiate, disturbing her from her thoughts. Seeing the Karcist wave him off, he bowed his head in obeisance and shuffled out of the room quietly. Once the servant had closed the door behind him, she crushed the scroll case in the grip of a tentacle. The Karcist let out an irritated sigh as she watched shards and barbs burrow deep into the appendage.

No matter. Flesh is so easily replaced.

They had never truly agreed with her practice, she recalled. They accused her of betraying their origins, of tarnishing the Empire with an iron grip of Daevite cruelty. What nonsense. But Orok knew. Orok knew that all was fair game. As did the Grand Karcist himself.

Unfurling the bloody tentacle, she picked up the torn parchment, a smile forming at the simple word scrawled on it.

Oh, how she loved beginnings.

Famis -
Ban Yongsun sat quietly in his chair watching the breeze blow across the treetops of the Bukhansan National Park. At one point, he had been known as Karcist Wáwá Zhìzào Shāng, but that part of who he used to be had been carefully hidden away centuries before. He had made the triplets and he'd carefully insured that they'd been fed for over a thousand years.

His first part in the Plan was over. Using his mastery of lihakut'ak to craft the flesh of those who would serve had made his ascension to the highest ranks among the Kkangpae almost a certainty. It had been devilishly easy to amass a shockingly large fortune.

His role in the Plan had always been about gathering resources. While his little army was well equipped and outfitted, he knew that it was nothing compared to the force that the Lodge could field. No, his part wasn't to provide the fist, it was to provide the logistics that would feed that fist.

And now it was time. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, relishing the calm before the storm that very few knew was coming. He enjoyed these moments, the thrill of anticipation of something that only he knew about, the quiet moments before the trap closed shut. He relished the lack of warning, and this trap had been foreseen long before the halkostänä had gathered beneath the walls of hated Kythera.

He opened his eyes and glanced down once more to the parchment that rested lightly on his lap, a grin slowly spreading across his lips. Yes. Now it was time to begin his final part of the Plan.

Morte -
"I still say that allowing Dr. Beaumont to see our true form was a terrible mistake." Enu Duvernay stood across the salon from her partner and glared at her (very literal) other half.

Enitan Sabatier shrugged and took a sip from the small ceramic tea cup that held something rather different from tea in it. While joined, the Karcist Naman da ke Tsatsa was a violent and powerful force capable of a singular focus. Apart, the two of them often bickered like the very long-term married couple that they were.

"My love, I told you that we need not worry. The Manmas were already going to make her one of them. We had nothing to worry about." He shrugged again and carefully sat his empty cup on the small table next to him.

"You have too much faith in those old nojta." Enu glared at her husband for just a moment, then sighed as his calm face registered none of the consternation that she had hoped to provoke. She stepped lightly across the room and settled into the couch next to him. She leaned against his side as he pulled her close and placed a light kiss on her forehead.

"You are my ŋäcämatse, my beloved. As Lovataar taught us how to be. Two souls, from one." Enitan smiled into her hair and gently stroked her shoulder. "It is how we have been. You are just melancholic that that time is almost over."

Enu nodded slightly at her lover's words and her hand reached across to touch the unrolled parchment resting next to Enitan's tea cup, as if seeking reassurance that it was real. Reassurance that they would soon be together again as a single being. Reassurance that once more Naman da ke Tsatsa would walk the world, openly.

Et Ecce Equus Pallidus -

6Then Ion called the Klavigar to Him, and together they sat for a time within the heart of the Leviathan. 7They spoke of many things, of the darkness to come, and of the Fall. For the Ozi̮rmok knew of what would befall them all at Kythera.

8And, in turn, He bade each of them to go forth and set in motion the beginning of the Great Plan. To Orok and to his disciple Halyna Ieva, He bade them to create the beginnings of a great force, one to rival that of the halkostana, but to do so in secret. 9To Lovataar and her disciple Kalakaran, to study the root of small things, to understand unto even the base of life itself. To learn all there was to know of how to spread the Flesh.

10 To Saarn and her disciple Naman, He bade to study life itself, how to consume more than merely the flesh, but to study the vitality of the soul. 11And finally, onto Nadox and his disciple Zhizao, He laid the heaviest burden. To carry the weight of the Nalmasak, that which was His Holy Word. To bring forth His vision, to make it manifest in the world after He was gone.

12 Then, after all was set in motion, they rode forth from that place. For them, to begin the long road of immortality, and for Him, to fall. To pay the price of Yaldaboath, and to spend a brace of millennia cleansing the taint of the Archons' corruption.

- The Book of the Fall, 21:6-12; The Solomonari Valkzaron

8 And this shall be a sign unto you: that when the Thorn of God is held once more in the hands of the Faithful, Ion shall be birthed again upon the world in fire and blood.

- The Book of the Fall, 26:8-9; The Solomonari Valkzaron

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