Second Efficient Gathering of Loam described the movement between Creation and her home in the body of Autochthon as Translation.
No matter the language of origin or destination, the complexity or lack thereof, every ear and every heart knows that no poem survives translation intact.
The looming creature identified itself as Heliotropic Office of Pure Effort. SEGL seemed stunned to be in the gray ribbed chamber. She fretted and fumbled, and when HOPE turned the severity of its harsh caste glow upon her, Sanction stepped forward, blazing with colors, and held a single old finger up. The massive power of pistons and the burning of tubes alive with liquid fire running from the suit to the helmet and back was held back by that one old digit, and the kind eyes turning to SEGL with a question.
As Sanction waited, a strangeness passed through him, and he seemed taller and lighter, but also somehow, insubstantial.
Slowly things unknotted themselves. The Exalted had not crossed intentionally into Autochthon’s domain, nor had the servants of Autochthon caused it. SEGL certainly had not caused it. She had meant for Beacon
(serial number omitted for brevity) to deposit the beetle at the entrance to the Manufactorum beneath the ruined city in the Sea of Grass.
He suggested they rest and take food while he palavered on their behalf with the Council of Reverent Vigilance. Their only contact, Second Efficient Gathering of Loam, was taken away by the Officer for report.Passing into Normal care, they made their way through a short maze of tubes full of a most remarkable levitation. In a large room they discovered a place to rest, to clean themselves, to eat, and to totally freak out in the strange grey hum and thrum of the world of Autochthon.
The Seventh Emissary of Reverent Vigilance returned with a stir for the heart. The Council of Reverent Vigilance verified that the Beetle’s translation to Autochthon was part of some autonomic process, probably for the safety of the Beetle and more likely for the safety of the Beacon it was carrying. As soon as was feasible, they would arrange transport back to Creation.
However, and this is the bee in their bonnet: with the onset of the Calibration intercalendary period in Creation, the Elsewhere in its vicinity becomes increasingly “unsafe”. As a responsibility of the Compact, the Council of Reverent Vigilance simply could not allow the Exalted to endanger themselves – and certainly not the Beacon – by returning before the Ascension of the Season of Air. Though they argued and attempted trickery and legalistic language, the Emissary seemed unconvinced that he would have any success on their behalf. He suggested they rest while he strove.
They spoke, taking their ease on the couches of the room, or the floor, as was their personal preference. Like children in the woods at night, the long weight of their exertions came over them, and their conversation slowed, the time between speech lengthened like the broken Calibration itself. Eventually, darkness and sleep claimed them.
The door opened, its eye watching light return to the room. It was not Normal, returned to take them to some vista, some place where they could attempt their escape. It was their Efficient friend. Worry evaporated, replaced by concern. Had she been harmed? No. Was she in trouble? Not precisely. Her delay was problematic, but her explanation had been preliminarily accepted.
Her news: They would have some sympathy, some help now to leave. There were vast problems facing the City of Seals, and it was possible the Exalted had been drawn here to solve them, and they might be held until they did. And if they did not, they would likely perish, and their remains would be recycled. SEGL’s eyes inefficiently leaked water as she told them her news. For them, for her home, for her innocence, it was difficult to discern the cause of the tears precisely.
They decided to waste no time – for so many reasons.
They began breaking doors, blinding the eyes watching from above them. Onyx was able to work out many of the broodings and anxieties that had gathered in his muscles.
In the hall leading to the Arrival Bay where the Beetle waited for them, the Heliotropic Officer of Pure Effort met them, his many tubes blazing red with energy for battle.
Inside the Beetle, they found the Seventh Emissary of Reverent Vigilance, his knife-like hands covered in ink. He had been writing guidance diagrams for SEGL, based on some navigation system they both seemed to understand.
“It is not the best for me, or in the compass of the wisdom of the Council of Vigilance, but it is right that you should go back to your lives and your perils. Second Efficient Gathering of Loam, you understand that you may not be able to return ….”
She nodded. The Beetle’s tentacles came to luminous life. Large eyes blinking, the Emissary waved goodbye, the nubby ends of rope that made him up bobbling like hair.
The Chamber of the Manufactorum burned around them. Through the Beetles shell they saw it: a vast cube, burning with light in the middle of dark waters. Ribs of stone supported the floor and ceiling. Labors disturbed the frothing water.
Then a shadow passed over them, and they were Elsewhere, filled with yearning. Some hope like a great heart boomed through them.
Then the Beetle’s wings were snapping open, and its too-white burning eyes illuminated a dark and ancient cavern filled with the smell of water and stone. A crushed path led up and down through the space. They went down.
in the dark, they found 2 doors coated in Moonmetal, and Sunmetal, each marked redundantly with a sigil of the moon and sun respectively. The moon door stood open, and lying all around it were dead men in red tunics with lemon trees emblazoned on them. The stench of the bodies was strong, but localized. They moved on.
In the dark below, they found a different, smaller cube of ribbed stone emitting light without heat through its high windows. It stood in a quiet black lake. A narrow path led to two more doors of moon and sun, these shut tight. The cavern was ominously silent.
They went Up.
They found an enormous pair of doors, unguarded in a room that was sculpted neatly from the stone. There was a knocker. They knocked.
A tall man swung the doors open, backed by living guards in red tunics with lemons or lemon trees emblazoned in bright yellow. The man was handsome, but more than that, the air around him was electric with life. His smile was toothy and wide and infectius; mixed with relief. He bowed until his beard scraped the floor. He put his hands together in praise, his eyes serious.
“It is so fine that you have arrived. I am called Sanito Mundum and I welcome you to the kingdom of Aj-Arun.”