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Nine Billion Names

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Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
The Hellsun beats down upon the blasted plains without mercy, cooking small demons to desiccated husks and condemning others to the wasting gold. A road of dense-packed bonedust leads into the shadow of a vast tree hung with prayer-strips, beyond which a low mesa is thrown ever into Dreamfall.

Voices whisper riddles from the shadows cast by the gray-green leaves above, audible despite the melancholy wind-chimes somewhere in the monastery.

The Monastery of the Scripturient Hand lies at the foot of the mile-high tree, white stone dusted faintly red by the wind-swept sand, arranged in squat domes and obelisks within walls made of broken souls hammered into a glowing fence.

On the steps are Beaten Dog and Imzada. Ahead, the patchwork curve of Hell's inward slope - from here on the equator, Pandemonium is twice visible; above the Hellsun and below.

They await two things; for the abbess to emerge with the Scroll, and one more traveler to join them.
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
It was long journey towards the Monastery of the Scripturient Hand. On any such journey either to or fro one might expect to be a victim. To be targeted by a wide assortment of bandits, brigands and beasts. All of them hoping to deprive you of your valuables, flesh, and, dignity. The average wayfarers that trod upon the nigh endless roads across hell draw many threats to them by their mere presence upon it. But Garutik, Count of Passaro , The Alluring Screamer, He of the Shining Plumage brought forth an entire procession of them. The more intelligent attackers came at him with love and lust in their eye's eager to have him for their own. He accepted their advances with an embrace of talons and danced with them until the road was slick with their own blood. The mindless brutes sought to rend his succulent flesh and decorate their homes with his plumage. His loud yet alluring shrieks drew them in and his tantalizing tail-feathers captured their attention.

It made tearing them to pieces much easier. They were mere leaves on the path toward him earning the love of his beloved. They were swept away easily and without a second thought as all that would come after them. The fire's of passion within for his fair lady burned hotter than hell's sun he would not be denied his rightful place at her side. As he flicked the blood of his last suitor off his talons he saw his destination in sight. At the steps of the monastery he see's a demon in chains and a demon of the sixth circle waiting. 'Are these to be my travel mates for the next few decades if not centuries?' He thought. 'If so its best to make a good impression.' "Greetings to you both. I am Garutik Count Of Passaro , The Alluring Screamer, He of the Shining Plumage. And I will be accompanying you both to pandemonium." Garutik unfurls his tail feathers. " I pray to the principalities for a fruitful partnership between us."
 
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Zeth

Junior Member
The journey took her only several millennia. She did not mind or notice for she liked rendering down things slowly and remaking them with meticulous care.
And remade things she did. She had to for the world outside was quite mad! What surprised her the most about Hell was not its ever-shifting novelty but the absolute state of malfunction she found it in. Hell was broken.

Till then she always thought that her kind was the one who were malfunctioning, lacking the clarity of final purpose. Hence they were cloistered, forever at their anvils until they can heal themselves. But compared to the chaos of Hell and the many denizens she encountered, the smith-adepts of the Burnished Forge were the ones who were sane. The thought gave her confidence and some measure of pride as she walked the wasting plains, damned roads and horrifically beautiful carnivals of change and purposelessness. It eased her existential pain knowing there were those more lost then her.

With that realization came a function and the spiked giant with her burnished plates helped where she could. The patients were always hesitant at first, then accepting even joyful, quickly replaced with fear and screams as Imzada started beating out the impurities found in the unnecessary flesh-alloys found in their forms, helping them by releasing them of the thrice-cursed consciousness. It was of little use to them if it led them to these bodies. She helped where she could in this mad world, often wondering what kind of a broken being lay at its center for the world to be so bereft of pure purpose.

Now she waited in the shadow of a giant tree as the first phase of her quest was ending and the true journey was about to begin. She did not wonder what was in the Scroll and what it was made of, for unnecessary thoughts led to introspection and that in turn to distraction. No, she was satisfied with just standing on the steps as some sort of demonic statue who would curse benevolently the pilgrims who pass her by. However, she did wonder if the being at the beginning and the end of it all could be remade.

The head of her hammer resting on the bonedust steps, she waited and would wait for all eternity if not for the commotion around her.
She avoided thinking, but she did notice two who stood out in their form from the locals. One was a being wrought in chains that Imzada observed for quite some time. The other was a noisy and distracting one, ever more so as the time went by, which was a series of moments or perhaps a couple of hours, she could not tell. Whatever the case, its feathery form was aggravating and Imzada realized with a churning in her molten core, that its function enjoyed drawing attention around it. That made her drip molten metal from her mouth-grille. She could not describe the sensation as anything else but as an incredible yearning to shape the being into a proper form.

Here.
Now!

Her plate gleaming from all the steam and condensation gathered around her, Imzada suddenly turned to Garutik as if she wanted to say something. The giant hammer that was resting in the dust was incredibly small now and in one of her hands.

"Greetings to you both. I am Garutik Count Of Passaro , The Alluring Screamer, He of the Shining Plumage. And I will be accompanying you both to pandemonium." Garutik unfurls his tail feathers. " I pray to the principalities for a fruitful partnership between us."

She stopped herself, some gear within her screeching in protest as it suffered the full brunt of the arrested momentum. Imzada realized this peacock was no common pilgrim but a being of a function similar to her own. Furious, she realized that to remake this creature - to give it another purpose now would lessen her own. In frustration she pulled back.

Sucking in the leaks from her mouth-grille, the liquid metal was replaced with churning of iron smelling fumes, quickly followed by screeching of cooper plates:

"Partnership. Till the Ur-City." she promised.
 
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Spiderheart

Eyeless
Beaten Dog is at rest today, meaning its form is unusually relaxed – the only chains she bears are a pair of broken manacles and his eternal, featureless iron mask. She sits on the steps, letting the cilia on the back of its head undulate gently as they meditate on the journey he's about to undertake. It is a wonderful paradox – a command that liberates him from the walls of the monastery; the beginning of the conclusion of the order's function; assigning definition to that which is beyond it. Beaten Dog loves koans. They are, in his humble opinion, the finest part of the monastic life.

Neither the peacock nor the juggernaut-smith provoke much of a reaction from the resting quasi-Brute, but a few moments after the former arrives, the meat under its tattered robe shifts and they adopt a posture that could be considered "standing" from a pragmatic perspective. He moves over to the demons that will apparently be her bodyguards and sizes them up. "You are here for the scroll-bearer, then." Its voice is soft, sexless, and subtly wrong – like the tongue and teeth behind the mask shift even as the words come out. The last syllable might come from an entirely different speaker from the first, but the transition is nigh-imperceptible. "The Beaten Dog is at your service. The scroll, unfortunately, is not quite ready to be borne."

"If you have any questions," they volunteer, "I will answer them as best I can. If you desire refreshment, corporeal or mental, it can be provided." Neither of these travelers particularly impress the Dog. The peacock's confidence is too sincere, too naive; the metal giant, on the other hand, seethes with indignation at her own weakness without recognizing it as her enemy. Still, he was once a greater fool than either. "In return, though, I require an answer from each of you: why?"

The vagueness and open-endedness of the question are intentional. The interpretation they give to it will tell him more than however they answer that interpretation.
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
"If you have any questions," they volunteer, "I will answer them as best I can. If you desire refreshment, corporeal or mental, it can be provided." Neither of these travelers particularly impress the Dog. The peacock's confidence is too sincere, too naive; the metal giant, on the other hand, seethes with indignation at her own weakness without recognizing it as her enemy. Still, he was once a greater fool than either. "In return, though, I require an answer from each of you: why?"
He could hear the grinding gears of the iron giant. While she could simply be a laconic speaker the tone of curtness of her voice exposed her anger. He smirked it had been awhile since he'd pissed someone by his mere presence. He'll have to keep an eye on that one all that anger can be asset or a detriment to him. Garutik had no questions for the sexless demon in chains, his job was that of couriers. Deliver the scroll the Ur-City then return to his county and take his princess in his arms. But the centuries he spent traveling from his land to the Monastery had left him wanting for a stiff drink. He needed to get the taste of those brutes blood out of his mouth. He smiles at the iron masked demon " A drink would lovely after a such a long journey. Do you have anything alcoholic?"
 

Zeth

Junior Member
With both arms clasped around the pommel of the Unmaker, Imzada kept standing in the middle of the stairway, as if the spiked giant expected toll of the pilgrims or perhaps some offering as a way of tribute upon the traveling shrine. She kept her attention upon her companions-to-be but despite her curiosity for the chained one and her frustration at being unable to help the Count, the majority of her scrutiny was reserved for the great tree and the monastery nestling in its foundation. The attention however, was born out of yearning rather than any curiosity; as the burnished giant's oculars focused on the building she could hear the faraway dull clanging of metal against metal, of sizzling heat and the screaming wounded and those about to be remade.

The gems within the plated face glittered with infernal inner light at the melancholy of it all, but before it had the chance to send her gears purring, she pulled back - before she had the chance to indulge in such pleasant stupor. She wondered why this place reminded her of the Temple-Forge so much, for it looked nothing alike. Its forms were completely different yet in their function they were so alike.

This was not the first time she heard the anvil's call and with that memory came a gust of churning smoke from her mouth-grille and a blast of steam from her vents at the back. She knew then that it won't be long now.
Resting, relaxing and otherwise laxity being anathema to her, she moved to one side of the stairway, investigating the glowing fence and the silent pulse of souls contained within. She came closer to the fence, crouching beside it as her taloned-gauntlets grasped the material, touching it, probing it and on occasion chipping at it with the help of her Unmaker.

Working so, she ignored the chained one' offer of answers. What interested her was its shifting form, not function. Their function was the same now.

"In return, though, I require an answer from each of you: why?"

Imzada did not stop investigating but a portion of her thoughts engaged in what the two were talking about. She was confused - the function of its words seemed as if the Chained One wanted to trade. The concept of exchange escaped her and she found it both unnecessary and a distraction. She would just take what she needs and others will do so likewise. To act any different from your function is a distraction and a sin! For alloy yourself with such impurities is to lose sight of your form.

For a moment she wondered whether her two companion's bodies were always like this. But she discarded the thought quickly before it had a chance to become a distraction. That will have to come later.

Regardless the chained one needed answers, so she gave it. Pulling at the fence, trying to pry loose a chunk of the glowing material, she replied - her voice losing none of that jarring, skin-crawling potency:

"Irrelevant for our function is remade. It is the same now."


[Imzada Investigates the Ghostcrystal Fence. If the fence consists of metals too, I'd like to include Imzada's Infernal Metallurgy Focus in reducing the roll difficulty.]
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
Being so focused on slating his great thirst he'd almost forgotten the slave demons price. His chest swelled with pride. "I undertake this pilgrimage with you all to gain fame and become a consort of Princess Sergandri of the Fifth Circle." He feathers bristled at the thought of his beloved. The pattern of her scales. Her cold yet entrancing eyes. And her fangs, oh her fangs! They were as black the heart of a tyrant! The very thought of her spured him to dance!
[Garutik dances in place for a bit in sheer joy!]
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
An end goal, and dismissal. My, my. These two will require... patience. If Beaten Dog had a mouth at the moment, it would be smiling – but the smile would not reach their hypothetical eyes. "The question is not irrelevant. Function is a facet, but certainly not the whole, of purpose – and whether it is a derivative or formative facet is a question to which I have not yet found a satisfactory answer. But you have asked nothing of me, and so I will not press the question."

She returns his attention to the peacock. "The monks are disinclined, by and large, to the use of depressants – but alcohol remains available." A growth begins to form on the back of its hand, the deep purplish-red standing out against her grey skin. "Have you brought a wineskin? If not, I have spares." It doesn't even occur to them to ask if secreted alcohol is acceptable; this is Hell, after all, and he is speaking to what seems to be a Devourer. No doubt her offering would constitute a delicacy.

[Acquiring 4-point poison secretion mutation, with alcohol being the poison in question.]

"Hell is vast, my count, and full of opportunities for fame. Escorting a monk is far from the most efficient, in terms of time or effectiveness. Your answer is acceptable, but if you would care to elaborate, you have my attention." While the chained demon's words are directed at Garutik, its attention is split between him and the Breaker. She is curious, in spite of her stolid temperament; how does she reconcile those aspects of herself? Has she even recognized the contradiction of it? Oh yes, that one will be good fun, the Dog thinks.
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
"Much obliged!" Garutik takes a wineskin from his travel pack and squeezes the alcohol into it. While his wine skin fills up he answers the masked demon question. "True traveling the width and depths of hell to deliever a scroll does not sound like the most glorious of quests....." With his now wine skin full he tooka quick sip. "But it is the challenge my lady gave me. To forsake my lands and riches join this pilgrimage to earn a place at her side."
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
Beaten Dog accepts the skin and presses his growth against it, squeezing it like a pustule. When she returns the wineskin, it's full of a thick, syrupy liquid that smells like the bastard offspring of an orchard in spring and a glassblower's workshop. The taste, when Garutik samples it, is heavy and sweet with an underlying spice. Not the finest of alcohol, but better than could be expected of something synthesized on command.

"Do you know why the object of your affections sent you here?" She tilts her head inquisitively. "Was she hoping you would give up? Does she believe in the work? Or did she simply do it to amuse herself?" The question is potentially a cruel one, especially in the phrasing chosen. Best to get his companions used to the sharpness of its tongue.
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
"Do you know why the object of your affections sent you here?" She tilts her head inquisitively. "Was she hoping you would give up? Does she believe in the work? Or did she simply do it to amuse herself?" The question is potentially a cruel one, especially in the phrasing chosen. Best to get his companions used to the sharpness of its tongue.
He smiled "Perhaps all three but either way I will succeed in my quest and win her affection!"
 

Zeth

Junior Member
"Irrelevant."

Breaker offered as a way of a reply, her curt musings underlined by sounds of cracking stone and an occasional hiss of pressurized steam escaping from her mouth-grille and back vents. With her backs turned, she chipped away at the ghostfence the gauntleted talons extracting a fragment, aided by deft application of her hammer, Unmaker appearing as a precision instrument in her hand, rather than a giant war hammer from moments ago.

"Purpose - sin of form. Alloy with impurities. Only function!"

Standing up she turned to the two, the ghostfence fragment held in the pincers that tipped her metal fingers.

"Form changed, function changed."

Imzada brought it closer to her face, fragment coming under close scrutiny from her gemmed oculars. The material exerted force and that interested Imzada as she turned it over, her head cocked to one side.

"Function unknown."

She blanked her thoughts, letting the properties of the fragment's form give clues as to its possible new function. Removed from the greater whole of the fence it seems the material becomes overly active, falling in some critical state. It reminded Imzada of a million different materials and creatures she met in her journey here.

Suddenly, an orange glow came from behind her mouth-grille, replacing the churning smoke with deep rumble of a volcano. She threw her head, the movement quick and otherwise bereft of noise one could expect from her appearance so far. She faced the fragment and from somewhere deep within her, a rumble got out in a form of heat, leaving molten droplets dangling from her chin as she bathed the ghostfence chunk with her energy.

She was done in a moment, the glow disappearing from her mouth as if one closed a hatch on the roaring furnace. Still holding the fragment in her grasp, she waited to see how the material will act.


[Imzada is exposing the ghostfence material to her Essence.]
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
"You ask the wrong question." The mask remains featureless, but the voice grows peevish. "You made it – or rather, remade it. Its function –" the mockery in his voice is subtle, but present – "is already known to you." A boneless arm, tipped with a long-fingered hand, extends from Beaten Dog's sleeve. It coils through the air like a hunting serpent, halting palm-upwards in front of Imzada. "But if you refuse to admit that to yourself, I can show you easily enough."

Assuming the Breaker surrenders the fragment, Beaten Dog's arm quickly withdraws back to a more typical proportion. He holds the material up where it catches the Hellsun's light, then releases it; it vaporizes, ghostly fragments whirling off into the massive tree above. "There's your answer. Its function was to be scrutinized, and then to collapse. And if you find that explanation unsatisfying..." She raises their arms in an apologetic shrug. "Regrettably, satisfaction and truth make poor bedfellows."
 

Zeth

Junior Member
Exposed to her Essence, the fragment changed in Imzada's hand, its almost ethereal form solidifying to an oily black chunk. Apart from force-repulsive qualities, the material ghostfence was made of absorbed large quantities of Essence as well. A content hiss of steam escaped from her throat at this discovery.

The properties themselves were not rare in the infinite bounty of burning Hell. But to find them in a single material was surprising, a telling clue as to the intentions of those who imagine-built the ghostfence and probably The Monastery of the Scripturient Hand.

The Changing One extended one hand, moving for the fragment in her hand. Imzada did not know what it will do, but felt that it wanted to demonstrate something, so she offered the chunk. Upon its touch, the fragment shuddered before fizzling out into the Hellsun's light. She looked at the Chained One, regarding the creature of shifting Forms for a few moments, confused at not only his words but also his doings. The Breaker knew it wanted to prove a point to her, to explain her something - but as thinking was anathema to Imzada, its musings escaped her. She regarded the creature as she regarded the fragment moments ago, with a cocked head and blank mind:

Suddenly, pressurized steam escaped her baroque form in triumph as she gained an inkling of what the Changing One wanted her to understand. She shook her head at the demon as she realized from where the demon probably came:

"No agency, no emotion, no thought - no sin from alloyed Form."
She shrieked with politeness without comprehending it, at the Drowner - as if that one sentence would explain everything.

Her own form was jittery with excitement as she burrowed into the fence with both hammer and claw. As an engine going into overdrive, steam escaped between her plates as if Imzada would explode any moment now.
The spikes at her body scraped against the stone of the fence but she did not pay attention to that instead of focusing only on getting more materials and her two companions, in particular - the Drowner - as Count was surprisingly silent:

"Made in Forth Furnace? Fire is cold and shifting there. Good for forging broken things. That your First Form?"


[Imzada attempts to extract more fist-sized chunks from the ghostfence.]
 
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Spiderheart

Eyeless
Beaten Dog is used to people getting her circle of origin wrong, but most mistake him for a Devourer. It understands the Breaker's mistake, though; its resting form does suggest a creature of the Bitter Seas. "The third, actually. But this is not, as you call it, my first form; in truth," she admits, "I could not tell you what it looked like, save that its destruction is no great loss." He rustles like a tree made of bones; the sound is not a laugh, but carries the emotion of one. "This form is a product of... time spent outside Hell."

"You seek subduction in your work." The claim is not an outlandish one; the Breaker's words are cryptic, but only because of brevity, and Beaten Dog knows both obsession and servility well enough to identify them in others. "But something gets in your way. Have you identified it?" They doubt it; Imzada seems wildly averse to introspection. But he doesn't know the colossus well enough to say with confidence where her pitfall lies. "Perhaps this pilgrimage will do you some good. Revelations come easy on the road, if you are open to them."
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
"An understandable question." Is that... tension in the ever-shifting demon's voice? It's hard to tell, through the sonic strangeness of its words. "But one I will refrain from answering, for the time being. Either way," he adds, trying to offer a distraction, "what point is there in evaluating the past? We are no longer part of it. What is in the present is far more interesting."

"For instance – our destination. Have either of you ever visited Pandemonium?" There's a twinkle of curiosity in their eye. "I have, but it was so long ago – nothing I saw can be said to be a certain sight today. Certainly, I will see it through different eyes, and so nothing will be the same even if nothing has changed." He clasps her hands together in excitable piety. "Even without our sacred burden, this would be a pilgrimage worth undertaking."
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
Garutik's smirks "You ask for the reason we join this pilgrimage yet you hide your own past. If you wish to keep it a secret I will not force it out of you. But......one would have thought a monk to be more consistent in their principles."
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
"On what grounds do you ask consistency?" The chained demon produces the same rattling laugh as before. "I took vows, to be sure. Transparency was not among them. Nor, for that matter, was reciprocity. And besides, I gave you something for your answer –" he gestures to the wineskin. "If you want answers of me, I think it's fair to demand payment – and I have learned to sell my heart more dearly than you did." She raises a hand to hold off interruption. This is a good pivot further away from the more uncomfortable subject of themself. "What do you actually know about my order? It seems you have some... misapprehensions about what obligations I have."
 

EbonChevalier

New Member
Unmoved by Beaten Dogs jabs Garutik answers. "My apologies if I demanded too much of you." Garutik bows his head a bit. "I assumed that the demons that cloister themselves in these out of the way hovels were simply outcasts. Those who could not fit into hell hierarchy as either supplicant nor superior. I assumed that the standards of mortality here differed from the rest of hell. That you monks would offer knowledge to all who sought it. And pure in all actions and words to achieve enlightenment or some such rigmarole." He take a long pull from the wineskin.
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
"Ha." Clearly, this one will take... effort to educate. "The ethos of a monk is different from that of your average demon, yes. But why jump to the conclusion that it varies in that particular way? There are thousands upon thousands of monastic orders you could find, if you took the time. Each names enlightenment differently, even if only subtly so. Here is a piece of wisdom for you," she offers, his mask – and whatever passes for a face beneath it – rotating a hundred and eighty degrees. "When I told you my name, I told the truth, and you heard a falsehood." It raises a smooth-fingered grey hand to his chin. "There. I have answered your question."
 

ThaDruid

Bacchus
The thump of naked feet on hard stone came from the monastery's entrance. Heavy footsteps and rattling of chains made their way closer, and stopped at the top of the temple stairs. A demon, oddly human in appearance, regarded the masked monk and his other two travelling companions with a scowl that never seemed to leave his face. Quiet distate for everything that lives. Droplets of liquid gold stained the temple's pure white stone as he stretched his wide shoulders, tightening a perfectly etched musculature. Patrjulf squinted up at the unforgiving Hellsun and, despite not holding any pipe in his hands, exhaled two puffs of smoke from his curved nose. Placing a relaxed hand on the hilt of his right blade, he strode down the steps.

"Monk." He loudly proclaimed, a harsh voice uncaring of interrupting any conversation. "The abbess was just rolling the scroll into its case, placing the final incantations..." A twitch in his shining face of bronze indicated something he did not approve of. Which, knowing the demon, could be anything, really. "We will be ready to depart soon."

His purpose fulfilled, the lightbringer moved his gaze over to Garutik, and Imzada soon after. Both were offered a simple nod, and nothing more than that. He still wished to test their mettle, to see if they were worthy of his respect, preferably through single combat. The great iron monstrosity seemed promising. The colored peacock not so much.
 

Zeth

Junior Member
Blind to any social nuance, Imzada dropped out of the conversation the two of her companions were having. On the surface it would seem that the glowing wall interested her more than talking; in truth, she just did not understand them as anything beyond her range of experience fell under the same circular train of thought. The very concept of having a discussion was ridiculous and she hoped that soon she would rid herself of the need for deliberate thought as well.

"You seek subduction in your work. But something gets in your way. Have you identified it?"

The Shifting Dog has beaten the words into elegant shapes, sending them to Imzada, much to the latter's confusion. At first, the baroque colossus seemed disinterested or perhaps has not heard him as she was with her backs turned, pulling additional material from the ghostfence. In truth, she was inspecting the shapes of both the gaseous rocks she was retrieving and that of Beaten Dog's words. The words were of material both absorbing and shifting, in some way reminding her of Brute's shifting form. If she still entertained any notion of imagination, she would probably try to envision if her replies reflected her own form in Beaten Dog's eyes.

Standing in one place for so long served to gather copious amounts of both steam and smoke around her, a steady chugging wisps trailing from all her orifices at her head-plate and vents at her back.

"Imzada." she offered as a way of an answer, shuddering as something inside of the spiked giant screeched, the gut-wrenching noise quickly replaced by a quiet, reverberating sound that was more felt than heard. As she pulled material from the ghostfence she ate the rocks, one by one through the metal latch that probably served as her mouth. It was difficult to tell for the 'mouth' did not move when she was speaking.

After a few handfuls she seemed satiated, turning to her companions as someone raised their voice at them.

"Monk."

Standing up from where she was crouching, her gem-oculars shone with the blazing light of the distant Hellsun as she observed the new arrival. Breaker did not think as she looked at the Lightbringer, she merely observed the creature with her blank mind, letting his form give her glimmers to his previous function. It was not hard as its well-defined form hid little; but unlike the Count's it was not absorbing the world around itself but was rather cutting it through with the simple purity of purpose. Even the force of his voice tried to reflect that.

Her head cocked to the side she wondered why no glimmers of a better form came to her mind. Surely she could improve him, despite all the bravado the creatures of the First Forge are known for? She remembered that this usually occurred when she met demons similar to her. Hence why she rarely reforged the fellow adepts of the Burnished Forge.

As Lightbringer nodded at them, Imzada took a moment more to replay his words before realizing what those associated her with:

"Soon. Yes. Fulfill our function - return to the anvil sooner!" she spoke, her words underlined with a hiss of pressurized steam for good measure. She turned to the Shifting Dog that Beats Hollow Words and then to the Count, her gem-oculars twinkling with almost-enthusiasm reminiscent of a moment earlier when she promised them that she would help them with their function - by reforging their forms.

The small blacksmith hammer that she held one-handed, slowly grew larger into a two-handed monstrosity, almost tall as its wielder. As if ready for combat, her head-plate drew back, but before she attacked, the giant bent-over with all the grace of a hydraulic piston. Her mouth-latch shrieked open - pouring forth molten metal, not unlike in its color to Patrjulf's skin. With spasms that were disturbingly organic, she spewed forth her insides onto the head of the giant hammer that she clutched with both of her taloned gauntlets.

The molten liquid sizzled as it was exposed to the naked fumes of the outside, lazily oozing across the weapon, as Imzada slowly turned it around like one would a beast over a spit roast. For a moment it seemed she was ill, this throwing-up of hers simply a symptom of some internal malfunction. As she lathered the metal with her hands across her hammer, the head of the weapon and the spikes and plates on her baroque structure started showing hues of blue like a verdigrised bronze. As she waited for the metal to cool, she glanced back at the ghostfence and the rocks that were blueing there.


[Imzada utilizes one of her Blasphemies - Integration, attempting to adopt the force-repulsive and Essence-leeching properties of the ghostfence material into her body.]
 
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Spiderheart

Eyeless
"It is almost done...? Excellent!" Its back writhes, and a pair of locust's wings burst out of the fabric of his rags, fluttering in excitement. "What a pilgrimage this shall be! May it prove successful, both as a quest and simply as a journey." Her excitement is sincere; too much time has passed since they were on the road, simply travelling. The monastic life has been a most interesting experience – but he thinks that, once the scroll is delivered and read, he will not return. She will maintain the vows, though. Those are, oddly enough, the least burdensome part of being a monk.

There's a koan in there, if it can only put it into words. Something about a burden that carries the bearer.

"Parts may be defective." She connects Imzada's comment to their earlier conversation easily enough. "But wholes can only ever be misused. Obstacles have functions; anyone who has hidden behind a rampart can tell you that obstruction is a precious function indeed."

"And as for you, Lightbringer." Their wings fan out, buzzing faintly. "The question has been bandied between us three already, but allow me to pose it again: why?" Again, it does not bother to elaborate. Let the grouch infer what he will.
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
A precise click click click echoes faintly from within the monastery.
If she had a name, she has not used it in some time. A First Circle Demon with ivory skin and black eyes, fifty hands tall in yellow-cream robes. The abbess moves with a dancer's grace and deceptive, easy speed of a cloud's shadow.

In her hands she bears a scrollcase, made from the hardy tanned skin of a sandworm.
She surveys the gathered Demons with a serene detachment, and offers the case to Beaten Dog.
"Here is your charge, Beaten Dog. We thank you for accepting this burden," she says, in a voice like falling ash.
 

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