To Fly on Metal Wings

Anger and Resolve

I had my fit of temper and hysteria. Found a quiet room in which to scream and wail and break bits of furniture.

This huge, terrifying anger pounding in my chest is almost unbearable. Llewellyn abandoned us. My attempts to bring him back were not only fruitless, but put my living companions in danger and killed Diggel (if only temporarily). Worst of all, the knowledge that anyone who ever believed in me (for I’ve accepted now that “me” is both Georgina the girl and The Lady the small-goddess) has spent their afterlife wandering without respite.

The other gods don’t know who I am? That is going to change. I am done hiding.

My first goal is to make a place for my followers spirits to go. After that? Madness and destruction. It is time that this new Aetheria learned something of The Lady of Life and Death.

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It's Going to Rain
Right now, I just want to hurt someone

Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Two cats, now that I come to think about it. Sin Dao’s been returned to his good ol’ more-that-fluffy self. Not sure what’s going to happen to him now… last time I saw him he was occupied with the Stratagos.

The Chariot.

I lived with Songen for years, learned from him, ate with him. And all that time I was living near a being of unspeakable power and destruction. Now he’s loose again, and unless he’s contained he’ll rip the Aetheria apart.

I’ve revealed myself. Doesn’t matter anyways, those who were a threat already knew, and I’m furious to know how these … creatures, so powerful, are able to figure out our identities. What have I been missing? Is there something I should be able to feel, some piece of the puzzle that will click in and tell me who they are, what their purpose is?

I was right about Johanness. And I didn’t want to believe that one. What worries me is that he used to be more powerful. Either that or Lughnassa has grown. I wonder if she really is a dragon? There must be some way to kill a dragon. Probably the same way to kill a rampaging, unstoppable machine of war.

Why is it that Georgie can heal the wounded, Lughnassa’s a dragon, D’Caeli’s immortal and powerful, and I need help taking down a single, non-Small God foe? Where’s the balance of power? I’m not a small god, I’m just a convenient target.

I want Llewellyn back. He didn’t have anything to do with this mess. He finally got to see me do something worthwhile, something he’d be proud of. At least now he won’t see me muck it all up again.

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Waiting for Dawn

As the others watch the fleeing undead army and the wake of destruction the Strategos leaves behind, I kneel here at Llewellyn’s side, waiting for the dawn.

A lot has happened, and I know more than I did before. Neither is much comfort.

In the time since I last wrote, I have discovered that two new friends, the Mantis-man Scarlocke and the Lupin Whistlethorn, knew Eva, and that all three were present at the battle Diggel witnessed through the helm; that Spire was there too, though on the other side; that Aurelius Victor persists and has been waiting to take his vengeance on me; that all of my suspicions about Sir Johannes were correct; and that Riley was hiding more than I could ever have guessed.

I am not sure if I forgive him for not telling me.

I’ve learned that there are some things I cannot heal.

And now I wait, terrified. It’s a funny thing to admit, now that the Dragon Lughnassa and the army and the force that lives only to conquer are gone. Those were nothing compared to the expectant faces that stared back at me when I looked up from Llewellyn’s corpse. Sometimes I think they forget that I am making this up as I go. There is this power, and I can feel it well up and drain away and as I feel for the edges and the depths of it there are times when I actually know how it can be shaped. There are times when I guess.

There are times when I overreach myself. Thank… the Wheel of Fortune, I suppose, that it did not go worse than it did. The familiar feeling of all those tiny wounds lancing across my body… The look on Sir Johannes’ face as the air left his lungs… My imagination is filled with the things that could go wrong on the morrow. If I can even work the spell.

What if he does not want to come back?

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Serran's Secret Report #3
In Mourning

Had to leave official records at home. Consulted the Manual- it offered a solution. I will record these words in the sand, and through much meditation, recall their form and picture later when I have access to my proper documents. I do not know if this will succeed, but I must try it. What happened here must be known, and remembered. So I begin:

Today, one of us has fallen.

We have battled a god, seen another reborn, and I have now witnessed the revelation of two more- our Lady is not alone anymore. Johannes is non other than the Vanishing Lord (explains a lot actually) and Mr. Riley has finally become the King of Stars. I am not surprised so much by the former- indeed, the clash of life energies between the Lady Georgina and the Virtuous Knight made much clear to me. My head still hurts. Riley, however, has been the greatest surprise. It makes sense, however- all those years the Shaan kept him in hiding, quite possibly without his knowledge…his unusually strong Gift…still, even with Three at our sides, and the considerable powers and talents of myself and the other two mortals within this band of companions, we were almost unable to defeat the One that is called Lughnassa. The Dragon of the Moon has been behind the events that have befallen us of late- it was she who raised the armies that almost killed me. It is she who killed Llewellyn. I know that the Knight is sworn to defeat her, and that it is his battle to finish, but I relish the chance to feel my sword bite through her scaled hide again. I had not felt rage in a long time. I harbor it still. I know I must maintain clarity, to keep my emotions in check; I trust in the Lady’s ability to restore our companion to us. All the same, to feel a life snuffed out in such a way…I know Georgina is confident she can bring him back, but I do not believe the Llewellyn that I have come to know will ever fully return. And so tonight, I will mourn the loss of- if not him, then a part of him.

Beyond the walls I hear the clash of the Chariot and the panther Sin Dao, now unbridled and in his full strength. It will not be enough. We face any enemy that cannot be stopped. I cannot help but fear that bringing Llewellyn back will be an exercise in futility- if we do not stop the Chariot soon, this world will not be worth living in.

For now, I close my eyes, and picture the things worth fighting for. I will open them with the dawn, and see what it brings.

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Trials

These past few Weeks have been most… trying. I Know not what to Make of what has Befallen in this Time. Events, Realizations, Encounters and Battles Most Strange. The City of Eva has fallen into turmoil with Strike brewing Betwixt the Tetrarchs. Omoeia had been Taken by One of My Greatest Enemies, and the Undead are Everywhere. The Knighthood will have Much to Do on Chukos in the Near Future. The Chariot has Been Released. I Failed to Destroy Lughnassa once Again. And, I Realized Something that makes Much of My Life… Matthias, I Cannot even say that This Realization makes my Life Clearer. It makes Parts of it Clearer, and Raises many more Questions… Ah, Martin! I Cannot not tell You any longer! I am One of the Small Gods! It is most Humbling Company to be in. I am among Many Great people. My Lord d’Caeli, my Dear Emperor, the Great Knight, the Mechanikal Lady… and I am suspicious that I know others. And I cannot Understand How I forgot that the Strategos was imprisoned into Kyou Soungen. It was most Foolish of me to Lose track of Such an Important Man within my Jurisdiction!

Agh! I have much work to do. Llewellyn is in Dire Need of Georgie’s Assistance. I will Have to turn my Gaze Away from her magicks, for No Matter how Close they dance to Necromancy, in This Case, I must trust the Lady for Llewellyn is too good of a Friend to Allow to have Died in the Way he Did. And I must do work on Hilda Garde. Fighting with the Dragon has shown me that Her Capabilities are Not Enough. I have new Ideas from Observing Armordynes recently. I May well be Able to Overhaul her. Though She may need to be renamed. She will more than Likely no Longer be the same Girl… We Shall See. First, Llewllyn.

And I have not Seen Gary since I sent him to Tell Sin Dao that the Strategos was Freed. I worry for Him.

I Shall write More later Michael. I Miss you. If you see Gary, Tell me.

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Away from the City Lights

Yup. I’m in prison. Diggle’s fault. That black cat-man came calling. He stayed to the shadows, never showing me anything. Thought he might be there with a kind of deadly intent. ‘Stead, he asked me things. Things like, “What do you think of the sun?” I said the sun nourishes, burns, comes and goes, anything neutral for fear of a wrong answer. Then the same with the moon; I said it shines, illuminates the dark, other noncommittal answers. Turns out we’re not enemies-not friends, though, either. As he left, he got clumsy with the light. He’s bound to the Wheel.

Kitty returned, offered to have one of the Exceptionals take my place in trial. Broke me out, got me Miranda, and said I had to defend Georgie. Found the place and waited. Had another vision, a desert woman all swathed in red. She told me that things in Satyeva are going to get bad. Worse. The dead one was there, too. Aren’t many manifestations I wanted to avoid. He found me. Snapped out of it when the girl arrived. Magicked my way to her side, and caught the touch of some undead creature. I don’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t pain like a bullet or a blade, or even like proper resonance. He put one ghostly hand through my stomach, and I knew I was close to death. My innards, my guts, were nearly gone, ripped out or maybe just plain removed. Better me than her.

We’ve been moved to a safe house. Llewellyn’s finished Sher’ah and Becky, as well as the improvements to my armor and pendant. Had a tailor change my coat. Patchwork on the back. Seven-pointed starburst with two trails going towards my arms, one orange, one purple, just like my ladies. We’re getting a bit stir-crazy. Went out with Georgie to see Whistlethorn, asked him for a song about gods. Shouldn’t write any more on that. Moving out on military business. We’re marching under the cat-goes by Sin Dao. It’s the price of my and Diggle’s freedom. I’m just glad we’re out of the city, especially now that he’s been there.

Diggle’s lost a leg. I’m running out of whiskey.

Twenty years of peace. Years of learning about the earth, growing crops, no one trying to kill me, and the love of a beautiful woman. Four decades of hard work, debt-paying, relearning myself, and sand in my food. Thirty years studying the Broken Lady’s prophesies, the nature of my power, and Shaan doctrine. Two months ignoring what already is. No more. We’re changing-all of us. It’s not a question of “better” or “worse”. We’re all who we are right now. For some, this means accepting the mantle placed on our shoulders, however young. Others are struggling to define themselves with mechanika-one eager and one resentful. Johannes is unaware of who he truly is, though none of us knows any better. And I am left to wonder-am I becoming something new, something foreign, or am I simply accepting something I’ve always been. Perhaps some night they’ll tell me. Probably not. I need a drink.

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Serran's Secret Report #2
Time to Take Flight

I grow restless. The trial should begin tomorrow morning. Llewellyn and the others believe that Riley has a good chance of acquittal. We have the wizard’s promised testimony, as well as some scant other evidence. Normally I’d be willing to test our odds against a legal technicality, but it has become quite clear that there are forces at work here that no means of juristic acumen will keep at bay for long. First the summoning, then the symbols, and now the mysterious Brotherhood…how could they have escaped my knowledge? For three years I have lived in this city. I am supposed to be the one who knows it, especially its less savory aspects. I need to find out more if we are going to be prepared for the storm that is brewing. Georgina has not been seen these last days…a fact that worries me greatly. I do not fear for her safety from the usual riff-raff as I would for a normal girl of her (relative) age, but with D’Caeli gone from the city our list of allies grows thin as our enemies enumerate. There may be foes lurking in the shadows that she cannot face alone…though without more information, I fear that even all of our combined resources may be at a loss against whatever conspiracies brood in the halls of power and the back alleys of Satyeva. The first lesson of the Shinobi-no-mono states that the greatest threat is the one that is Unseen; it is a code by which I have survived, and conquered. Now I fear it is being used against me and my companions…I must be ever vigilant in the coming days. A visit to the Eagles may be prudent…

On that note, a new page of the Manual became clear to me today; it is entitled Moukinrui. It will need more study, but it is familiar…it is the name given to me back at the Cairn, in the Cave? I have only now remembered it; but was it the memory that triggered my new found understanding, or did the sudden clarity stir the memory?

Memories…Small gods…Brotherhoods…I need to know more. The moon is up- a cloud is shrouding her face like a scarf or a veil. I do not fear the shadows; those others who would take refuge there will find they provide no shelter from me. It has been so long since I have felt the wind whip my face, careening from rooftop to rooftop…the night is young…whilst the others rest, I will hunt. Time to spread wings and take flight.

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Before I forget the words...

Forgive the medium, dear journal. This wax paper, covered in in biscuit crumbs and slightly oily, is all I had available. And I have seen some things that bear being written down for posterity.

As I left, the door read: “It did not end when Dalover died, nor when the walls came down and the dragon flew; it did not end when the little boy was lost and did not end when I dropped my sword; all for a respite, all for relief. I’m sorry Auntie, for borrowing your power; but you weren’t there then so I bought you some time. Only here could I warn you.” Each word disappearing as I read it.

Now that the important bits have been recorded, I suppose I’d better begin at the beginning.

Last night was my first vision-dream in quite some time. A city was being attacked, walls crumbling under a barrage of artillery-fire. A massive purple dragon rose from the smoke and debris, while thick clouds drowned the moonlight. Rather than the usual chaotic sounds of battle, I heard only a single dying shriek before everything I saw became blindingly bright.

When it became dim enough for me to see again, I looked down on a rocky expanse of desert, an old woman’s voice narrating the scene below. “The last of the clerics found a place to rest.” Wounded and exhausted, brought low by battle and the heat of the desert, barely able to keep her weapon in her hand, she finally collapses. Here the vision picks up speed, as men and women of all the races gather, slowly at first but then thicker and faster, and building a shrine around the cleric’s body. When the shrine is finished people continue to gather, and around the shrine they build a large and bustling city.

I woke knowing the shrine still stands. And I would not dream it if it were not important. The city in my dream must be Satyeva, and this made it easy enough for me to go looking. A spell, more difficult than others I have tried before, led me to a peculiar neighborhood unlike any other I’ve seen. Somehow brighter, and more… old-fashioned. But once there, my spell became useless. After a morning spent in fruitless wandering, I would have taken any possible hint.

A scarlet-red mantis-man named Scarlocke offered me tea. Aside from being a most friendly and personable gentleman, he was able to direct me to someone who could help me find the tomb. A woman named Marie, whom he called “The Teller.” The clerk in the lobby of her building was engrossed in a dog-eared copy of some penny dreadful. On further inspection, I discovered its name to be “Gentleman Goblin Diggelemelbegekaganen and the Case of the Fabulous Cloud Pearls.” I shall have to inform Diggel, or see if I might find other books about him. He would be amused; it would make a nice gift.

Upon arriving at her residence, her grandson opened the door and informed me that she was expecting me. She looked at my hands and told me that there are legions of ghosts between my fingers, and the ghosts of all I’ve killed follow in my wake. I doubt I’ll be sharing that bit of information with my companions. Though they are not a particularly superstitious lot, it would still (I imagine) be unsettling. Marie had made us all biscuits. So I ate mine as I asked her about the shrine, and in true oracular fashion, she cryptically responded that I should look “where the last lights fall.”

I waited for nightfall. The whole neighborhood aches with some sort of power, but I cannot place what it is.

I found her. Through a warped door, and a stone passage. Through another door and into a room that slowly began to glow as I entered. Her perfectly preserved body lay on a carved stone bier, in the same distressed armor I had seen, with the same sword lain across her chest. She is young, only a few years older than I am. The sword bears an engraving of a flower. She wears a silver fox on a chain about her neck.

Her name is Saint Eva, Eva Chandliere. I do not know who entombed her here, or who, if anyone, still visits her. I do not know who sainted her, or what she is saint of.

But she left me a message on the back of the door. A message that lit up and then vanished the moment I touched the door to leave.

And she called me “Auntie.”

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Diggel's Log

Diggel’s Journal, Entry XX and counting;

Some excitement has gotten the blood flowing in my veins; this new time may not be as bad as I’d thought. If you’re reading this that I hope you can learn something, because the last person who stole this diary won’t read anything ever again. After some of our possessions were stolen and it was made clear that I hadn’t done it, we tracked down and recovered them. You’d think this town would be used to such things, but after the quiet extermination of one little pathetic human, the whole town guard was up in arms after the world’s favorite green interloper. This forced me into hiding and resulted in the arrest of Riley. I’m surprised to say I feel something akin to guilt, Riley was the only human that treated me with anything I could call acceptance. Llewllyn’s always busy keeping his language intact (continental this and that, it sounds like I’m a zoo exhibit to him. Human’s and their terms; they only use them to plead innocence of their bigotry) and I’m never sure if Georgie is all there, for all I know she thinks I’m imaginary. Better Riley than me, he’ll have a better chance of beating the prosecution than this city’s lone Gobber. Where is my kind? Have they fled the cities of men and created their own metropolis, or have they been cast out of the public domain, forced into obscurity, or worse, slavery? Dalover will hopefully have some answers, if we ever get there; it seems that the longer we stay here the more likely it is we’ll never leave. New contacts and situations continue to arise; which brings me to the Moonlit Brotherhood. Serran’s never heard of them, but they are clearly powerful, which means their organized, dangerous, and entrenched in all aspects of this city. It turns out that the crescent wielding assassins work for them, and I believe they have some interest in Georgie. If this is true than they are trying to use me, and helping humans in what will assuredly result in my own misfortune is not a game that I like to play. Luckily for me, I cheat. They acquired a disguise for me, possibly from Serran’s “friend” (I use the term loosely because I don’t see how anyone could stand him), and it will continue to work if I acquire a particular item for them. I felt good to get back to what I love most; I’d almost forgotten the rush of pulling a job, and the thrill of collecting a bounty. They wanted a helmet; an old artifact, unremarkable in its power, they said. It turns out I was robbing the judge of Riley’s trial, and despite my suspicion of such a coincidence, I had little choice. Getting in was easy, getting the prize was not. For a judge, he kept his home more guarded than most forts, and some very peculiar things were in there. First of all, there was a massive statue of Georgie of the first floor, in what I could only assume to be the socializing room for other rich humans to gather and talk about the inanities of their worthless lives. She was clad in armor, and exalted like a queen. Upstairs was an unmistakable portrait of Johannes fighting a dragon. Apparently he won the fight, although I have no idea how the painter managed to capture the scene. Furthermore, in the judges bedroom was a diary, heavily trapped. In fact you may notice my sloped writing because some poison on the latch paralyzed my arm. I can only hope that it isn’t permanent, otherwise I’m moving closer my vision. The Diary was clearly for the owner’s eyes only, because before I could read the whole first sentence, it burst into flames, so much for not leaving a trace. A little more exploring led me to discover a secret stairway filled with traps of all variety, deadly to the last, and all easily avoided and disabled. Clearly they hadn’t planned for the legendary Diggelemelbegekaganen (surely by now my exploits from the past must be legendary. I must find a scholar). I reached an attic that was absolutely filled with treasure and the helmet I was sent to retrieve. I grabbed all I could, including a pair of gun blades, that I remember clearly when Cameron D’Caeli wielded them quite devastatingly against some cloaked figures. The existence of D’caeli’s guns, the portrait of Johannes, and the statue of Gerogie in armor (armor that I later found) means that something much bigger than we know is going on, and it’s time to let my travelling companions in on what I’ve been doing. The more people in the group that know the better chance we’ll have to survive. Given Serran’s complete ignorance of the brotherhood, I think even he can be trusted. I am sure now that even if I hadn’t killed the human, someone would be in jail and the city would have some hold over us. I just hope that this arm can be fixed; it looks like I may have to break into a jail soon. Nothing is as it seems which is why I have every reason to believe that this helmet isn’t just some artifact of no great power. I have to be careful, but I don’t have much time. I guess I’ll find out what the helmet does the old fashioned way.

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Serran's Secret Report #1
My Purpose

Recent events have lead to my decision to begin this secondary log. There are things happening now that are not yet understood, but I can no longer keep up these pretenses of secrecy in their presence. Moreover, my own conscience is bothered by the turn of events in the last two weeks that I fear any records kept on the corporeal realm will be compromised, no matter the lengths I go to to keep them secret and safe, my cyphers will not hold up long under intense scrutiny of the kind I fear may fall upon them. Safe to say, no one will find these records where they are being kept now. I had a conversation with Riley after consulting Capt. Danielson…we now understand each other much more. I would hesitate to say that he likes me, but at least he seems to trust me. We both came to the realization that my superior, L.H. Chandler, is most likely related to Georgina, who apparently carries that natal name. We are in agreement as to her particular status, but are in agreement that, for the moment at least, we will keep from her any knowledge of possible descendants. Diggel was privy to our conversation, it seemed, though I do not know how much about her nature that he truly understands…nonetheless, I have made increasing overtures of friendship that will hopefully lead to his trust. Eventually.

Georgina asked about Jenya at dinner. How she knew, I could not say, and she could not have known how difficult it was for me to answer. I must speak to her about this at some point- if she wants to know something about me, all she has to do is ask.


Dawn has brought trouble- Diggel’s rash actions at the summoner’s house have brought the law down on him. I was able to help him elude them, but Riley was taken in for questioning. Our priority now is to procure his release, as well as keep Diggel hidden (being the only goblin in the city, this will not be easy, even given his penchant for subterfuge). Attempts to contact Talib failed, so we turned to Cameron D’Caeli. At his Kaffehouse a messenger relayed his departure and dire warnings about the shifting balance. It became clear that the Lady is in danger should her identity become known. At the message’s urgings, we went to see Father Genesios; his church was barricaded quite formidably, and inside we discovered his body, as well as four deceased assailants using the familiar crescent blades. His office had a number of symbols pertaining to the Small Gods; what importance they have are unknown.

A cursory visit to the scene of the crime was unproductive, though the Desert Nomads were present, which is suspicious to say the least. I wonder how much longer it will be safe for the newcomers in Satyeva…we should leave as soon as Llewellyn is done with his work. I pray it does not take much longer.

Riley has been taken to the Courthouse. His trial is in two days. Our efforts will concentrate on procuring a defense attorney to represent him. If that fails, we do have other methods.

...Everyone has a Cause. A Purpose. Everyone is free to choose what that is. I have lacked one since losing Xan. Perhaps it is time I found one again.

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