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Little Silver Claws

While Gin, Leaf and Fangs set their complex plan in motion, Snowy goes visit her teacher, looking for answers on their mysterious book...

The Far East...

Into the deep forests...

So many different plants and different blooms, even now, after the spring... most of them pale, white blooms complimented by pale tinges of yellow and rose and blue and violet. Especially when they come within Celadon Forest.. a forest within mountains, of many waterfalls, mountains that seemed made of fossilized wood. And within it... her Manse. The Viridian Dream.

Sculpted out of the world. Natural jade, garnets and topaz, coming from the mountains, with just enough earth to grow trees... a great pagoda with five floors, three of the last one spreading into actual suspended gardens... each ending before the last, in rows of four great towers, one per floor. Great, imperious.

Natural, ominous.

The Viridian Dream.
One of the homes of Anja Silverclaws.

The cloud approaches fast, not too long a trip since leaving the Aquamarine Crossing...

They get to their destination

Snowy: Snowy sighs with relief as they come in and land just outside the main gates of the Manse. Of course, this was not the first time she's arrived this way and it certainly wasn't going to be the last. She'd step off her Skiff without a second thought, leaving Wrynn to be uncerimoniously dumped onto the ground if he wasn't with her. And she'd look around, checking for the catmen (or catgirl!) guards that there no doubt were, giving them a nod and a bit of a smile. She'd also look to Wrynn and grin a bit "Enjoy the flight?"

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn slips off the cloud, light on his little feet and arcs his back in a tiny yawning stretch. It felt good to stretch his legs, he hadn't used them much during the trip. Other body parts on the other hand, he had used during the trip and was the source of an even better feeling.

The snow-white kitten makes a little kitty-bow for Snowy with a smile. "Always."

Narrator: The guards are actually elementals.

She recognies their type. both are Makhet, a type of Elemental that can be seen on rivers at night... whose forms are mercurial like water, black water of the night, shimmering lightly under any sort of light, eyes burning yellow like lanterns in the dark. Their forms are only slightly feline, what with their fangs and ears. Those seem more solid than most she read about, very much seeming to be made of night, not water.

They hissed as she approached...

But then an actual feline, a girl she had known from before, Alyna, one of Anja's research assistants and maids came out of the temple, a couple steps down... she was a pretty one, with very much petite features, a tanned, warm amber brown fur and eyes and hair the color of honey.... a gesture of hers' stopped the Makhet's hissing, and she gave Snowy a grave bow, "Mistress Snowy. It has been a long time."

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn slinks up behind Snowy and hops straight up to her shoulder without a hint of claw. Even were it not for his hearthstone, Wrynn had no need of them for it.

Snowy: Snowy simply bypasses the guards, assuming Wrynn will keep up with her, she approaches Alyna, nodding slightly "Far too long Alyna, and I will unfortunately not be staying long enough to make up for my absence. I have with me a, well, a travelling companion, one Wrynn Diermidis, and we have come to seek Anja's wisdom regarding a matter of most importance."

Narrator: She bows to her, and then to Wrynn, smiling. "Mistress Anja has just returned from a long pilgrimage to the coast, so I am afraid she will not be receiving you right now... she told me she had much to relax, ponder and meditate about. But feel free to come with me..." She motions, walking up the steps of gemstones.... Wrynn and Snowy seeing the perfect shapes of the geomantic arrangement, and the trophies of her hunts, the furs on the walls as they step into the Manse, and many trinkets, books, jewels, soldier's apparel, badges of office.... many trophies over her furniture. "And it is a pleasure to meet you, master Wrynn."

She does not bat an eye. Leaving with a feline Lunar herself, herself a feline woman, and living with all sorts of summoned beings... one learned to accept the word of others for power and sentience really fast.

Snowy: Snowy nods and follows, not saying anything. I mean, she did just quite literally drop in with a problem, so waiting wasn't unexpected, she'd look around, remembering all the good times, and the bad times, that she had in this Manse. Hopefully everything was going fine back home too!

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn bows once more from his position on Snowy's shoulder. "Likewise, miss Alyna"

Alyna: "Make yourselves at home. Do not be shy, Master Wrynn, anyone with Mistress Snowy is as much part of this home as she is, and the premiere student of Mistress Anja has full access to our home." She says with a grave bow, "Do you wish anything? Refreshments? A bath, pehaps?"

Snowy: Snowy nods a touch "Refreshments would be wonderful, twelve hours in the clouds tends to clean those things even a bath cannot reach while drying one out quite thuroughly. Are those clothes I left here still around somewhere? I really would prefer to not wear my robes all the time I'm here."

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn nods agreement, begins to ask for something as well, but abstains. Better to see this Anja before he made any first imprressions.

Alyna: "Oh, they are, Mistress Snowy. But we can arrange you new ones, as well. Mistress Anja has bought you a few gifts... I think you will like them." She says with a sweet smile, a honey-colored feline tail swishing back and forth, back and froth.... "I will get you refreshments, then. Natural juice or something with alcohol?"

Snowy: Snowy considers this for a moment "Ahh, both, I think, juice with alcohol, if you can?"

Alyna: "Some mixed drinks for both of you, then! I remember you liked oranges, mistress snowy?" She asks, already taking her steps away, delicate and nimble, never one rude gesture...

Snowy: "Only if its not too much of a bother, we are imposing here, after all"

Alyna: "I told you." She says at the door, only half of her face still visible...

"Make yourselves at home."

And then she is gone, leaving them with the ominous room they are in... tapestries of giant wyld rodents, and even one that used to be a Chosen of the Moon... bears and a great cat, all around them... and the plants... camelias, on this room, blooming when they should not. There is something on the books, calling, on the masks on the wall, appearing to watch them. Something to the paintings of hunts, as if they were happening all around them...

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn whistles appreciatively at the room. "Pretty nice place for being in the middle of nowhere. Sorcerers--" he nuzzles Snowy's cheek. "--are useful."

Snowy: Snowy looks around, then heads over to her stuff, at least, where she left it. If it was there, she'd find something more.. appropriate, well, not really. What she picks out is a two-piece thing in a soft light blue, knee-length skirt, with a matching top that leaves her belly bare and lots of cleavage, almost like something out of a bad (or good) porno. It may or may not actually make it on, depending on Wrynn.

Alyna: She is back a moment later, tray in hand, a bottle of liquor, glasses full of it and a mix of orange and passion fruit juice. The color was decidedly on to a strong color of orange, nearly red, filled with little cubes of ice, the sort of thing only Sorcerors could afford, in this day and age. She walks up to them, letting the tray down on the table of Snowy's room in the Manse, and admiring her clothes... "Those always look great in you, Mistress Snowy."

Snowy: Snowy settles herself down on the sofa, pouring herself a drink. She smiles up at Alyna "Thank you Alyna, I do like them, but they are horribly impractical for up home in the north. I think I'd probably freeze very quickly."

Alyna: She giggles. "Oh... I'd imagine."

"I have no idea how you manage to live there, Mistress. I would freeze solid."

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn gives a quiet litlle kitty snicker at her choice of dress getting the implied message loud and clear, he laps at her ear. "Even after all that time in the clouds..? You're something." he says with a wink.

Snowy: Snowy turns and licks Wrynn "I told you, four days straight, I'm a wild animal." then she smiles to Alyna "You get used to it, though I'm finding the south does have its advantages."

Alyna: ".... you probably wish to bathe, Mistress Snowy? You know we have naturally warm springs here, on the fourth floor, coming from the mountain itself... I imagine you must have really missed them while so far up north..." She smiles as she says so, the detail that was more for Wrynn, and truly, Wrynn had seen little waterfalls coming from the gardens on the fourth floor.... before she can answer, she looks behind her, calling for someone else to come...

Aureate: And a figure no less familiar, though far less personal answers the call. Robed and hooded in gray, the beryl-eyed and gold-skinned man approached in relative silence, as was his nature. Aureate, Anji Silverclaw's 'pet' amalgam and archivist. Playing guide and man-servant was not his typical role and he seemed understandably uncomfortable standing before them, offering the Chosen a deep waist bow. "Summoned by name, this one answers the call. Information?"

Alyna: "Hi, Au. Aureate, this is master Wrynn, companion to mistress Snowy. Could you show them the way to the baths, and make sure they are informed about things? I will be here for them, but I fear I just... am not enough to keep them company." She says humbly, bowing to him.

Aureate: Aureate blinked, producing a soft click as his eye-lids flickered closed. "We walk a road that sits dark before us and only in casting backwards can we truly appreciate where we have gone. I will serve to capacity I am able, though I cannot inform of any matter I do not know. There is no greater joy than the joy of duty."

He bowed to the Chosen once again and gestured for them to follow as he started towards the bathing springs.

Snowy: Snowy just shrugs a touch and stands after finishing her drink "Hello again Aureate, hows your studies coming? I hope Anja isn't working you too hard!" and she'd giggle a bit at this, then follow him off to the baths

Aureate: Click! went his eyes as he blinked, though he continued to look forward instead of turning back to face the Lunar. "In comparison to an immortal spirit who witnessed the birthing of the world, I am yet infantile in my knowledge of the world, but for a sixty-three year old mortal in a shell of gold... yes, they proceed well."

Up a short flight of stairs shaped from the roots of flanking trees, the amalgam lead them into a flat open-air plateau of white-white marble paths and lush green vegetation. The waterfalls themselves fell somewhere behind the high wall that surrounded the area, though the gentle roar of falling water filled the room along with a cool mist that quickly dampened both Exalted. Crystal blue water poured from the mouth of hippopotamus sculpted into the side of the wall, draining down into a deep basin in the floor and from there spread outwards in tiny rivers that veined the room and carried the moisture to the plants. Tiny bridges linked dry land, and the robed archivist quietly lead them across them towards the pool.

It was a long, pregnant pause before Aureate said anything else, each word spoke with the sort of trepidation of someone who was clearly unused to make any sort of pleasant chit-chat. "As the moon ever rises to bring back the night, a heart is called home for sanctuary yet again. A progress report of your journeys will be pending?"

Snowy: Snowy slips into the baths, sighing happily, nodding a touch to Aureate "Ahh.. of course, but let me relax a minute first."

Wrynn Diermidis: As was his custom, Wrynn slips into human form as soon as snow-white fur touches water and equally as smoothly. It was almost as the water itself were the catalyst transforming a kitten able to use a soapdish as a boat into a beautifully handsome young man. Unlike the first time he'd pulled this in Snowy's presence, he hadn't forgotten to remove his clothes-- primarily because they'd gotten lost to the winds less than halfway through their trip.

Aureate: Click! "In this way, it will come to pass. This one stands prepared to serve. Will there be anything required for cleaning? For eating?"

Snowy: Snowy relaxes into the bath, nodding a little "Well, as you know I stopped by on my way though to this.. party.. I was invited to. I still find it odd. Anyway, at this party, I meet Wrynn here, and two others Beloved of Luna, a Gin, and a Fangs, as well as a Sun-Chosen, Leaf. The whole place is attacked by.. people, and the host is killed by an assassin in the trees with a bow. And we are now in possession of an artifact that he had, that we are to keep safe. And we want Anja to take a look at it."

Sure, she left out a *lot* of details, but she could fill him in later, or something. "And no, I don't think we'll be needing anything."

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn slides through the water far more comfortably than any cat has right to, wrapping his arms around Snowy and spinning her about. "I think you need something" he smiles, running one hand down her hide with a wry smile.

Aureate: "... such are the days of our lives, so filled with the wondrous splendor being alive. You were not mauled by bears, so it seems this was a good journey. Called back by the falconers whistle, she awaits hooded in her ignorance for the light of knowledge. As long as the mistress has not been struck blind when last I saw her this morning, your scheme shall soon come to fruition."

It was difficult to tell if he really considered that a possibility or not.

Snowy: Snowy just nods to Aureate, not really focused on him any more, melting into Wrynn's arms a little and snuggling up to him, and giving him that same smile back "And you think I'm insatiable."

Wrynn Diermidis: "Says the sorceress who lured me into human form. You know my weaknesses." he says, tickling her, "There's only one kind of wet that cats like, and it doesn't involve water."

????: "Nope, not at all."

Quiet, cutting words. A shadow in the arc of tree trunks.

Turquoise eyes watching intently as a white tail curled over her body...
"Now, now. I see another feline. Intruding on my territory. Without my permission. And touching my apprentice."

A step foward, the light of two semi-circles almost touching on her forehead.
"How rude you can be, hmmmm?"
Stepping into the light.

Anja Silverclaw of the No Moon Caste.

Snowy: Snowy doesn't react, she doesn't even *look* at Anja, this wasn't her fight, Wrynn didn't have to get into the pool, Wrynn didn't have to come over to her, not that she stopped him either, but this was one Wrynn was going to have to deal with on his own. Or so she hoped.

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn blinks, suddenly looking up at Anja and reacts purely by instinct. There is a tiny flash of silver light and a ploink as kitten hits the water, A few moments pass, and a strangely dry and fluffy kitten head pops over Snowy's shoulder with a big smile. "Why hello there miss, you must be Anja. My name is Wrynn Diermidis, I do believe I was invited in by... mmm... Alyna, yes, that was her name. Cute girl." he smiles, nuzzling up against Snowy's hair.

Anja Silverclaws: Long silver hair comes down to her ankles. It shines on the sunlight close to the pool. It shines as moonlight. Her face is beautiful, flawless, confident, thin, slitted feline eyes and a mysterious smile. Feathers and beads decorate her hair, of all sorts of interesting colors one would find in the east.

And yet, silver dominates.

Silver covering her, moonsilver on her forearms, on her legs, on her body, covering so much and yet so little, shamanic talismans and sings hanging from it. And then she gets to the border of the pool, and her smile fades. She looks at both of them - Wrynn, specifically. "Yes?"

Snowy: Snowy stands, slowly, then turns around and looks up at Anja, of course, this left Wrynn facing the wrong way, but he could fix that himself. There were exactly two people she felt lesser than, and Anja was one of them. She speaks quietly. "Anja, mistress and mentor, I have come to seek your wisdom once more. Wrynn here is along as a companion and guard, since what we need your wisdom on is hunted by many powerful groups."

Anja Silverclaws: She sighs. "One of you knows manners. Will I have to take this interloper away from my territory, my dear apprentice? Or will he learn some manners?" Pupils within turquoise narrowed to thin slits, and she seemed ready to hiss... but then, she just slid out of her high-heeled silver shoes. "What do you need my wisdom in, my dear?"

Snowy: Snowy pulls herself out of the water, finding a seat and looking at Wrynn "Wrynn? The book that you so cleverly have stashed on you somewhere, if you please?" Then she finds a towel and starts drying herself off, some human habits never really go away.

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn smoothly pivots in twin with Snowy, remaining facing the sorceress. Manners? My manners are impeccable.

Wrynn nods. "On me miss Snowy? That would have been quite impossible." The little fluffball ducks down a little and jumps clear to the edge of the bath, nodding to Anja as he passes her. Hopping up to where Snowy's robes have been left, he retrieves the book in question. "You've been carrying it." he smiles at the two sorceresses, rather proudly.

Snowy: Snowy goes a little red with embarrassment as Wrynn retrieves the book "Ahh, well, yes, lots of things have been going on, can't keep track of every little thing now. Anyway, this is, well, this is what we're guarding, and we're trying to figure out why everyone wants it. So I thought i'd make a trip over here while they were all dealing with students and things and show it to someone I know can tell me more!"

Anja Silverclaws: Wrynn returns to see Anja... who looks at her apprentice and shakes her head. An item that seems to be important and valuable... and she loses track of it to one so obviously untrustworthy? So very much to learn, she thinks as her hair picks the book from the little kitten, bringing it to her silver-clad hands... long nails with swirling silver and black colors, as if tatooed... as she opens the pages.


Snowy: Snowy just sits back, obviously still flustered over this whole thing, then she looks at Wrynn "Wrynn, why don't you tell Anja how we came across it, you seemed.. dissatisfied with the tale I told Alyna."

Wrynn Diermidis: Little does Anja realize when she picked up the book, Wrynn came with it. A little considerate for the apparantly poor impression he made in the bath... Hrmph. walk in on a man and a woman in the bath, what do you expect? he doesn't take the obvious path up Anja's arm to sit on her head, instead simply peeking over the far edge of the book to watch what she does, careful not to get in the way of turning pages.

Anja Silverclaws: Wrynn can hear the hair almost hissing towards him for a moment, but then it quiets. Anja had actual problems on her hand, looking at the book, curious... and placing the little kitten on his place would have to wait. She moves the pages, curiouser and curiouser, as she waits for Wrynn's recount of their tale...

Wrynn Diermidis: "Surely miss Snowy." he nods over the book at Anja with large, round emerald eyes framed in snow-white fur as he starts his tale, "Miss Anja, if you will--- It all started when a good friend of mine called in a favor..." he goes on to describe in dramatic prose the events leading up to Leaf's death, how he bravely accosted miss Gin's many tails and so on and so forth. Though he hangs on the edge of the book, he is so light Anja would be challenged to tell the difference, even as he gestures with one paw or another-- or sometimes myteriously both-- to punctuate his spectacular tale of kitty valor. He continues on to describe Fangs of Winter's call, skimming over particular details of their short stay in the inn-- which it occurs to him now they really should have gotten an hourly rate for. He ends the tale as the four of them dramatically set forth into the wilderness with Leaf and his band of tagalongs, of course painting them as a heroic entourage rather than the rather less-than-astounding students they actually were.

"--and that is how we came upon the book, miss Silverclaws." Wrynn finishes with a proud nod. "Miss Snowy and I have journeyed forth on our lonesome to seek out your knowledge-- and let me tell you, the privacy has been nice. Miss Gin is grace on legs, but that Fangs girl is unfathomable. I do believe she and Leaf deserve each other-- if only they'd deserve each other father away from where Snowy and I sleep at night..."

Anja Silverclaws: "Hmmmm..." She brings one finger to her smooth, flawless skin, her fingertip obscuring one of the two charming black dots she had under each eye. Those are some... interesting figures there. She had heard of Seven Leaf Sorrows, the Night Lotus Walker... and of his Moon-Touched Companion. Anja knew of Rei-Lai well... and of course, Wrynn Diermidis.

She chuckles at his words. Fangs of Winter, she might have heard of, once... too far north for her usual purview. But still.... "And you stay away from such uncouth brutes, hmmmm? But I am surprised you are one for this adventure, Wrynn. you would be the type to steal the book and sell it to your adversaries instead."

Snowy: Snowy just sort of nods to this "I have been trying. Grizzly is plenty of uncouth for me."

Wrynn Diermidis: "Oh absolutely not! I, miss Silverclaws, am a businessman. A professional, if you will. I may have only known the man for a blink of these emerald eyes of mine, but he was a client, and I can't very well encourage such behaviour." Wrynn nods again hefting himself up a little to look closer at a symbol in the book that looked something like a mouse, then looking back up at Anja. "Besides, they shot at me. That was just rude."

Anja Silverclaws: "Oh, I meant the little kitten." She sighs forlornly... "Grizzly shows we cannot stay away from those... we got a terrible taste, us and that companion. But Grizzly is more than enough for me, too.” She winks.

And then she pets the little kitten. That tale was so obviously aggrandized, it had won Anja to him immediatly. "Yes, yes it was. We always need more of our kind like you, Wrynn."

Snowy: Snowy just sort of nods, looking at the book "Ahh, well, maybe we should get back to the matter at hand?"

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn stretches with a purr, moving his head up so as to be better petted. "Surely, miss Silverclaws, though there can only be one legendary thief, yes?" he looks back to Snowy and nods. "Indeed, tell us. Do you recognize the book or its content?"

Anja Silverclaws: "I am tending to the matter at hand." She smiles, leaning down to picking Wrynn up by his neck and bringing him to her silver-clad-shoulder "And I meant the cute kind."

Then, she picks the book... and throws it in the air.

A flare of moonlight, and the air whirls around it like a pool. And the book stops in the middle of the air, opening wild, its pages flapping open, to one side and then another, as if under a hurricane. Anja closes her eyes... and when she opens them, they are opaque globes of misty moonlight.

She called it Trance.

And whatever she gazed with those eyes would show its true colors. Whatever she gazed with those eyes would appear to her as it truly is, as she saw the truth of existence, the flows of essence in all things... she saw Essence as it truly is.

It was a long moment...

And then she walked up to it, closing the book.

"Of course I do not recognize the book, kitten. This is not the book."

Snowy: Snowy is kind of.. okay, very, shocked by this "Not the book? What do you mean?"

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn blinks, looking down at what most certainly was a book. "Is it a copy then?"

Anja Silverclaws: "This is just a decoy. This is an elaborate cover made by Sapphire Sorcery. It does not exist, as such. Those pages with the night sky? They pretend they are a code. But its only code, is the existence of the Sorcery that binds its knowledge and hides its truth. It is all gibberish and an elaborate joke at the expense of those who try to decode it." She walked up to the water... and Moonsilver begun to flow out of her, as she picked the book from the air and leaving it on the edge of the pool.... "And a trap."

"If you had continued, it would drive you insane... or worse."

Snowy: "So... uhm... what do we do now?"

Anja Silverclaws: "Now, I break the spell, and we see what we got under it. But not here. I would hate to see the backlash of breaking such powerful magic in my house. There is a time and a place for everything, you know." She steps into the water, thinking... "Whoever sealed it is as good as I am, Snowy..."

Wrynn Diermidis: "So you believe it hides something, miss Silverclaws? I'd not be surprised to find blank pages underneath. Sorcerers--" he glances at both his current companions and considers carefully his words. "--are often cunning and secretive. A trap such as this could be its own end, or one of many"

Snowy: "Ahh.. Okay.. so.. we break the spell and we get fireworks.. then... we.. well.. we see whats in it? And then continue to search this all out?"

Anja Silverclaws: "It hides the true book. The pages are there somewhere, but hidden by the spell. Far as I can tell, it does three things at once... it makes it unreadable, it protects the pages against any eventual damage... and it erodes the sanity of anyone trying to crack it for long." She nods. "If you are going to search it... you'll need to be better, dear."

Snowy: "Well, I'm not sure i really want to search it, I simply want to know why people are after it.. though, if there are interesting things inside.."

Anja Silverclaws: Anja shakes her head... "An owl missing her curiosity?"

"How far has Creation fallen..."

Snowy: Snowy laughs a little "If they went to that that extreme to protect it, its contents may not be for knowing. Though, I guess we'll see.. "

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn smiles, padding slowly down Anja's arm to hop over to Snowy's shoulder. "I guess I'll be your curiosity, mm?" he says with a lick. "We cats have plenty to spare."

Snowy: Snowy scritches Wrynn behind the ears "You can be as curious as you want, and anyway, I thought owls were known for wisdom."

Anja Silverclaws: "Now, just let me rest a bit..." She says, her face disappearing under the water... then coming up again.

"It has been a hell of a time since I went to Thorns..."

She takes her time in her little luxuries...

Before the time came for her to destroy the magic, and break the code...

It's called The Carnelian Pass

Anja took them there, not long after the bath.... in a place of sinuous bridges of stone, amidst such great valleys... waterfalls seeming to fall everywhere, and the valleys... so covered in trees that the very rock seems to be made of roots. Or maybe... it is. Old, ol roots. Some of the bridges certainly are roots, long roots of trees that are not even that big....

Anja walks up into one of the mini-valleys carved in the stone, almost like a shrine between rocks... a shrine carved in a spherical shape. It was like an amphitheater carved on rock, with trees for an audience, and the walk to the amphitheater was a short, slim trail between a mountain, only wide enough for two people to pass shoulder-to-shoulder... "Here, this will do the trick."

She pointed to the trees far up, holding the spherical slopes upward, and how the trees held the rocks. Then she walked behind Snowy, the taller Anja dropping her arms around the Owl-Goddesses' neck, and nibbling her ear. "Well now, dear... can you tell me why I chose this place? And what comes next?"

Snowy: Snowy looks around, nodding a little "Its hidden from sight, and the natural cave and lush vegitation will muffle the sound of the spell breaking. Its also nice and big and will direct the force of any explosion away from the cliff so nothing falls down on us, but even then its has nice places to take cover behind or otherwise escape. Plus theres.. something in the geomancy, it feels almost from the forgotten age, but it is hard to pin down. All-in-all, it seems like a good place to have an explosion."

Wrynn Diermidis: "And lets not forget--" Wrynn chips in from his position on Snowy's shoulder "--it's a really nice place. Musty old basements are for mortals."

Anja Silverclaws: "That is my student." She says, drawing just a droplet of blood from Snowy's ear, and elbowing Wrynn out of Snowy's shoulders almost gently. "The geomancy is due to the fall." She points one of her arms uuuppp... "Looonnng ago, metal fell from the skies, right here. Opened the mountain like this. I nurture it from time to time, think it'll be a Manse soon..."

Snowy: "Metal from the skies? I've heard of such things but this is the only place I know of now that has some, it must be very valuable if it can raise a manse by itself."

Anja Silverclaws: "Oh, it's long gone, dear." She lets go of Snowy, picking the book from her hands and walking to the center of the amphiteater... where a mass of gnarled, distorted trees forms a bizarre play for its wood audience. "It is long gone, but its fall... and maybe other things... have turned the flows of essence. It planted the seeds of a Demesne, Snowy, is all. To nurture them... and in time, the Manse... is up to us."

And then, she places the book cradled on the trees' limbs.

Snowy: Snowy looks on, she was going to learn from this, since Emerald Circle Countermagic was something she wished someday to use, and no doubt would have many many uses for. She finds a rock, or a branch, or something to sit on to observe, closing her eyes and letting herself *feel* the essence in this place, the essence flowing off the book, and the essence of her mistress. She is quiet and doesn't wish to disturb the ritual, or, indeed, be blown up along with it, but this was something she had to know, and this seemed like a very good time to learn it. She opens her eyes after only a few seconds, and looks to Anja "Mistress, what do you need of Wrynn and myself durning the casting?"

Anja Silverclaws: "Need you? Nope."

"But I want you to watch. Just stay a little far away, will you?" She points to somewhere a little farther away.... and then, steps a little far from the book herself... closing her own eyes, and breathing. Feeling the Essence about her... and feeling it whirl about her fingers.

She was a cat, and the book was but a yarn ball. She reached, tugging the strings... and for Anja and Wrynn, it had whirls of coruscating moonlight about her fingers... as she pulled... disentangled them, the essence so far away from her... and then, she begun to chant. A short chant... before closing her fingers over the threads, and crossing her arms in front of her!

... and then, the book exploded.

Essence fell around everywhere, stars breaking out of it...

Snowy learned the sound a star must make as it dies.

It was night. Everything went dark.

The little stars from the book fell everywhere, cutting the trees, burning things, navigating ethereal winds, the less sharp ones reaching up in the ethereal breeze like a swarm of fireflies. The tree that curled around the book exploded into Sapphire Fire, reshaping itself in horrible ways as it screamed...

Snowy: Snowy steps back, but probably not as far as she should. She has to shift in her good owl eyes to take in everything as the book explodes in essence stars and fireflies, high contrast against a good background. It was.. unspeakably beautiful and horrible at the same time. She was sort of stunned. Nothing she had blown up was quite *this* powerful. Hopefully theres still a book there afterwards!

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn, whose handy-dancy hearthstone makes displacing him an exercise in frustration-- remains on Snowy's other shoulder, taking in the sights of celestial essence. "That's supposed to happen, right?" he asks wryly... not entirely sure himself if he was being sarcastic.

Anja Silverclaws: And then, the tree screamed, so much higher... and its fires receeded. Motes begun to fall as stars, and the false night begun to disappear... but slowly. Very, very slowly, as the break of dawn. And thus did Anja walk to the remains of the copse of trees.... sapphires fires still lingering here and there. She reached for ashes...

... and took out the book.


And... open.

Her eyes closed... and opened as opaque moonlight once again. She looked at the pages of the book... analysed it for a while... before coming to the conclusion. "There are no more enchantments here. None that I can see, at any rate. But it's strange... very... strange..."

Snowy: Snowy approaches, slowly. She looks over the falling motes and sapphire fires, thinking she'll need to find a large snowpack if she was going to do this herself. Then she watched as Anja analyzed the book, smirking a bit as she comes to her conclusion. "I could of told you that, and without the fireworks. But I guess this is a new kind of strange, yes?"

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn whistles appreciation as the display comes to an apparantly successful end, but says nothing. He was after all, only really here to keep miss Snowy company.

Anja Silverclaws: She closes the book. The cover is now black, with its name, 'The Chained Heart' written in Old Realm. Opening it... to see there is a drawing of a Black Swan, behind the cover. The swan has its wings open, and a Lotus of five primary colors - green, red, white, blue and black - unfurls behind it. Chains of the same colors hold it, chaining its wings, chaining its neck. But it still looks at the reader. Defiant. "Yes..." She says, looking at that... "Quite a.... new kind of strange."

Snowy: Snowy just nods "Well, I think I need to make a cover for it, if nothing else.

Wrynn Diermidis: "Lemme guess. We went through all of this for an ancient romance novel?" Wrynn asks with a cute innocent smile.

Snowy: Snowy just nods "Well, I think I need to make a cover for it, if nothing else. 'The Chained Heart' hmm? I've never heard of it, but I guess that isn't too surprizing. So, I guess we return back to the Manse to study it?"

'Anja Silverclaws: "Yes. Whatever this is... it certainly isn't a romance novel." She nods, walking past... "But you'll need more training before this study. You'll need to master the trance, or the flows of essence in the book can mislead you easily." She nods.

"We will have to do a crash course, on this."

Snowy: Snowy nods again "Ahh.. Okay. Uhm.. I guess it begins soon then?"

Anja Silverclaws: "Yes. Yes, it begins soon..." And with that, she begun to walk back the path, the book on her hand... but she did not take the path back to the Manse. Instead, she begun to climb down the mountain, in a path of vine towards the rivers and ponds forming below... "In fact, we should begin here. I know a perfect place for one of those things." She looked up, then, looking at Wrynn... "Your little kitten can probably protect the book while we do this?"

Snowy: Snowy gives Wrynn a little scritch behind the ears, nodding "Wrynn is quite capable. Though his idea of defending may be to slip away with it to the next town, but it will be quite safe in his.. paws"

Wrynn Diermidis: Wrynn purrs under Snowy's ministrations. "I wouldn't, miss Snowy! It's too darn heavy, for one thing. I'm much better at hiding things than I am at playing pack-mule." he grins.

Anja Silverclaws: "Heh. Cute one..." Isall she said as they came down... and then, the roots became more pronounced. She walked through a labyrinth of them... coming to something so shielded from the light it might as well be a grotto, only one covered by roots and earth, not stone. And there, lies a small lake... one Anja walks into, her silverly hair touching the water... "The water falls from really far up, there. The wyld touches here occasionally, this is all tainted... and things change, here. Wonders appear. People vanish. Most that come here do not return, to the world of light. All the nutrients, all the salts from the peaks of the mountains, passing through them and come here... the water is moving, but you cannot sense it, normally. But all leads here."

Snowy: Snowy is.. used to this. But not recently. She tended to come by now with something she needed directly, not something she was told she needed. But learning more was indeed her thing. And if all things lead here, it was a good place to start. She just nods as she takes it in, there wasn't much to say."

Anja Silverclaws: "Come here, Snowy." She asked, from the center of the waters, and she was like a spider in her web.

The water was waist-deep on her... and seemed so cold. "Come here."

Snowy: Snowy shrugs her robe off and steps in, cold water didn't bother her too much, at least, as long as she didn't spend *too* much time in it. She walks slowly over to Anja, wondering why this couldn't happen in warm water, it was much better, even if this wasn't too bad.

Anja Silverclaws: She picks Snowy... and kisses the Owl-Lunar, adjusting Snowy's hair somehow. Snowy feels the pins, coming during the kiss and forming her hair into... some configuration. Something she was not sure... "Close your eyes. Close your eyes and breathe."

Snowy: Snowy closes her eyes, breathing slowly, she's as calm as she can be, considering the cold water and, well, whatever Anja had planned for her.

Wrynn Diermidis: Do you mind if I leave my eyes open? He doesn't say it, but ever does he think it as he sits on the shore and atop the book.

Anja Silverclaws: Anja walked around her. The water stirred. Wrynn could feel... the branches begin to move.

Everything begins to move.

It was the light. Anja smiled mischievously to the kitten. And all around her, moonlight was coruscating and exploding. It was light. It was essence. And the world was breaking. She was right behind Snowy now. "Open your eyes, dear." She said, the same spider voice she used before. The voice of a kitten playing with her food.

And as Snowy did... she saw herself in the water. So many of herselves. All her forms. Old. Young. Dead. Burning. A child. A demoness. A chimera. Such horrifying chimeras, such beauteous innocence. And they are all her. And they all reached for her, on the same instant.

"Master your conscious mind. Master your unconscious mind."

"Know what is real. Know what is not. Know what could be."

Snowy: Snowy opens her eyes and checks out what there is to see, everything happening, and all at once, she shivers in the water, but she doesn't notice. "I.. uh... ohhh.. I... mmm... " She's speechless at this, just trying to concentrate on what she wants to see, which is herself, with Anja and Wrynn, in the pool. And maybe with some more knowledge, or lots more knowledge.

Anja Silverclaws: Wryn saw the water reaching for Snowy.

But he saw nothing else.
Except that he did.

It was in the water. Their reflections. In their reflections, he saw the insane world they had plunged into.

Anja finished her incantation. The water became a mirror. He picked her apprentice... and plunged her into the water, the pins breaking to her hair in the water. Again, for Wrynn, all that could be see was the image of her on the bottom of the small lake, glowing with moonlight, the pins holding her hair wide... but for Snowy?

For Snowy, it was something else entirely.

Her selves held her. They whispered to her.

The roots all around them became dragons, whirlwind about them... dragons of all elements. Of the sun. Of the Moon. Dragons of stars and dragons of shadow. And on their scales, Snowy saw the order of the world.

The remaining roots formed stairs.

And somewhere, atop it all, an owl watched.

And Anja spoke, nowhere and everywhere. "That is real. That is not."

"Look at them. Look past them."

There was so much, in that world... that the light begun to dim. Night falling over wonders...

Snowy: Snowy, well, didn't say anything, or do anything, except look, and tries to do both, looking past them with one eye, looking at them with the other. Being an owl had its advantages, right?

Anja Silverclaws: She looks... but it is not enough. The lights dim... and she finds herself in the darkness. Her feet slip... and she falls down the water... into an endless darkness full of stars and elemental lights.. she sees the dots... a vague outline... but she cannot see anything.

Not even where she should step, to stop falling...

Snowy: Snowy would shift reflexivly into owl form, falling was fine, but the stop at the bottom sucked. Good thing she didn't get those "falling" dreams very often!

Anja Silverclaws: She does so... but where to go? The world has turned dark, and the dots kept shifting.

The stars in her sky, and she couldn't trust them for directions...

Snowy: Snowy goes.. down! thats where she was headed anyway, might as well do it while in control of how fast she goes!

Anja Silverclaws: And then she goes down.... and everything begins to break.

It is like she goes through the pond of the water again... and every time she does so, a layer is peeled off the world. And she sees so much... the world breaking down to its base components. To its base elements. The connections between all things. She understands. She understands the magic that binds all together, and all that is needed to see it... those dragon lines of power, those motes of divinity.

And then, going down, she raises on the pond in the real world...

In the Trance. She understands the world. She understands how all connects.

And how she can see it all...

Anja is at her side, bending to kiss her forehead. "You did well, dear."