Placed almost directly east of the northern arc of the village, this windswept cliff is the only part of the coastline not hemmed in by buildings. Not particularly high, it also provides a safe open area for the games of the village's children and offers easy access - by means of a sturdy set of wooden steps - to the beach that lies below. Standing at the very edge offers an undisturbed view of the majestic ocean, though if you stand too far back this is easily interrupted by the long pier and the docks to the southeast.
North Zenan. A land ravaged by war and the fall of a once beautiful Kingdom. There is still life here, it always finds a way after all. In the year since the fires debre still finds it's way to the broken shorline. Today though, something else finds it's way onto the shore.
Darkness begins to swell up to a center point before exploding outwards in a dazzling display of light and energy. Out of it steps a tall woman with long green hair and a sparkling key-like staff in her hands followed by a being silohetted by darkness. The portal collapses on itself as they step out onto this world. With a disatisfied frown, the woman looks around at the ruined shorline and frowns. "So, Diablo, was that really all you needed me to come along for? I've seen your powers. You could have easily handled this on your own."
The cloaked figure comes into focus as the darkness fades from him. A creature just as tall as the woman before him with insectoid eyes and horns petruding out from his body. He lets out a distastful smile as he glances towards her. "Oh no, Setsuna. I've got something entirely diffrent in mind."
Sailor Pluto frowns at the thought of that. "You promised me freedom, now I'm in your service again. Had I not known better I'd think you where behind it."
Senor Diablo frowns as well, "My dear, no. I assure you I had nothing to do with this one. But that brings me to why I asked you here. We need someone more powerful if we are to break Twisted's Council's restrictions against us and let you go free again. Someone willing to break a rule or two if it means saving the lives of billions. I need you to awaken your mother."
Sailor Pluto gasps as though the wind was knocked out of her. "My... what world is this?"
Senor Diablo grins, "Chronos of course."
Sailor Pluto was born of Chronos, and as such her mother would be the guardian spirit there. But she never drempt in all the centuries she's existed that she'd ever find herself standing upon it. With another shocked gasp as she collects herself, the woman begins to twirl the staff around her as she chants - filling the air with energy as her chanting becomes that of a whisper. Suddenly she stops, holding her staff before her with a shaking grasp. "I am forbidden to do this..."
Senor Diablo smiles, "We are forbidden to do many things that we must do in order to save others. You know that as well as anyone."
With that the woman nods her head, twirling the staff once more before bringing it down onto the rocks with a loud CRACK. "This may not work. I'm not even sure which point in time we are in. All I've done is brought us to the point you requested."
Senor Diablo griiiins, "I think you've done just fine, Setsuna. Just fine..."
Time. Time is a curious thing. A seemingly inescapable flow for most; sands in an ethereal hourglass, whose passing in that incomprehensible frame leads to a most certain and definite ending. It cannot be halted, cannot be prevented. But only for most. While even gods are beholden to the thrall of time, there are a gifted few across each reality, blessed ones with the power to control the uncontrollable. Rarer, for good reason, than the most beautifully cut jewel.
The subtle weapon Setsuna Meioh wields is one much lusted after, much feared and the subject of endless wariness from even those who do not feel lust or fear. Which is to say nothing of her devilish overseer. Their entrance sends ripples through time, space and consciousness - a cosmic cry resounding from the point of disruption. Chronos screams. Chronos pleads for aid as it has done so many times before. It is a world in a constant state of flux, bandied about the fourth dimension without seeming care. But, invisible as they might seem, there is always a caretaker.
What is forbidden is done. Pluto's words echo across the void between the human perception of reality and that ever-flowing undercurrent, the breath of life. Diablo's own, many-times-damned, tone twists and turns about the woman's protests; a taint, an insidious thing that only heightens the clarion call. As the staff cracks down, the noise is similarly heightened, enough to burst mortal eardrums. The very air shifts, bucking a protest, oxygen drying up for a terrifying second before normal service is resumed. Something has changed. The environment is the same, the features all present and correct. Even the seagulls' piercing invasions can still be heard upon the breeze. But the colours are faintly off, vibrant greens and blues somehow pastelled and vague. The wind hisses, as if retreating, and then explodes in a forceful gale.
The breath of the earth. The breath of time.
"You disturb us..."
The voice is so quiet, so soft, that only the expectant might hear it as anything more than a quirk of the mind. A shadow twitches beside a pile of washed-up debris, and then the pile itself tumbles to one side, scattering seaweed and old netting in a miniature avalanche of rotting wood. A single feather, stark white against dark muck and wet sand, flutters toward the sea to land on an outgoing wave. "It's been such a long time. I'd almost forgotten."
Louder now, a smooth, feminine tone not lacking confidence. A silvery ripple runs through the air like parting mist, flashing past Diablo and Setsuna to fade upon the diminishing gust. Without additional warning, before the eye can adjust, a figure stands before them. Cloaked in deep purple, all features kept from view. The colour is striking indeed; unlike all else around, it holds full clarity. The effect, as though the unlikely pair stood in a darkened room and the light were turned on. Blinding. Searing. Astonishing.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?"
The cowled head rises, and a flash of intelligence can be glimpsed from within. Dulled sunlight seems impossibly to highlight a blaze of delicate amber, and the dark pupils flicker across Sailor Pluto without recognition before they come to rest upon Senor Diablo. The light fades, once more the hood is all-consuming. Forbidding.
(Very-Much-IC) Elsewhere on Chronos, a large blue ball of fluff with eyes and stumply legs and arms pauses in its task and reaches up to scratch its lone tuft of green hair. "This will be a very long cutscene. Would you like to save your game? Yes, Nuu?" The white fluffly kilwalla on its head thwaps the creature, and points at the ground. "Stop that and get back to digging!" "Okay..."
Sailor Pluto can only stare in awe as this person appears before her. In her mind she sees glimpses of memories long lost. To have lived beyond time for so long that history had literally repeated itself more than once tends to break one's sanity, and although in her case it had not - this image nearly does. Once more she's a child again. Familar images, scents, voices. The impression lingers as the woman simply mouthes the word, "...Mother?"
Senor Diablo has a diffrent reaction. His smile widens as the figure appears and moves towards them. This certainly isn't the first time he's been here, but it's the first time he's had this kind of welcome. "Well now, all the hardships in the world and it takes something like this to bring you out of hiding. Had you gotten too comfortable?" He folds his taloned hands atop the walking stick that he seems to suddenly have in his posession. The bottom of his cloak begins to billow in the wind as if made from black flames from which small pieces actually come free and vanish into the breeze. Is this normal, or is he simply putting on a show for this newcomer?
There are always echoes for beings such as these. Across the span of time required to develop a world, a universe, a reality, there is a multitudinous ocean of memories and experiences to draw upon. Lives lived, and lives shirked so that another may be lived. Creatures whose existence was granted and others who dwindled into the obscurity of conception before their grand debut. But that word...
Gods are not so far removed from men that memory fails completely. Even an eternity cannot fully drain the humanity in any being who comes to be associated with the race, any who take its enviable form. The word does not need to be spoken loudly for those concealed ears to hear, for veiled eyes to pick up the emotion in the very movement of the lips. This figure's existence has become so long so convoluted that it spans more time than can be comprehended. But Chronos' protector does comprehend. The hood flutters in a sudden breeze, and falls from her face.
Skin of polished ivory frames features that are understated, but would be pretty if not their unearthly tone. Those amber eyes are strikingly dense, a thickly tangled forest of thought and experience. And now they shine with something else. In the space of a second; revulsion, anger, betrayal... and then a dawning realisation. The disarmingly girlish head shakes from side to side, dispelling the initial burst of venom - a more recent recollection. A frown mars a brow that is too perfect, ruby-painted lips part in unspoken question, and mother's eyes meet daughter's for what seems the very first time. "Something like this..."
Emepherea's gaze drifts from Pluto to settle upon Diablo, and suddenly all uncertainty is lost. She has proved herself not infallible; but this much he knew, for her to lie dormant this long. She smiles, easily, not forcing the expression as she well might. With light steps she begins to pace forward as she speaks, tone unwavering, toward the demonic showman. A hand lifts gradually, extending toward the stunned girl.
"Those such as you must always exist, Senor Diablo. You are the necessary weight at one end of a scale. But," she comes to rest, and does not shift her focus from the sinister darkness as graceful fingertips seek Setsuna's own, gently pressing, "I have made mistakes." Once more the gaze glances between the two, and it softens now, her head canting to one side as she regards the Senshi of Time. "Mistakes that can now be rectified."
Setsuna is too lost in her own emotions to comprehend much of anything going on at the moment. Normally she keeps her self so reserved, her emotions always in check unless she needs them. There have been times when she's let this guard down and most of those times came from being reborn the few times she's been mortal. But this...
If she had been more herself, Pluto might have wondered what these 'mistakes' where, or why she doesn't really remember this person only an emotion upon seeing her. She smiles childishly as she takes the person's offered hand. But the moment is lost as soon as Diablo begins to speak again. Always down to buisness so quickly, it seems. Her smile fades as her lips tighten but oddly enough, she doesn't release Emepherea's hand.
Senor Diablo shakes his head, "Which brings me to why we've come to call upon you. There is a force that even now binds this world away from the rest of the universe. A corrupt band of self appointed fools who've taken it upon themselves to prevent worlds from reaching the final stage of their development. You see, they wish to prevent the multiverse from becoming joined as one." He paces towards the water, turning his back on the two. He presents himself as one with a heavy burden, as surely he does just that. "You see, they knew how much this world needed assistance. They saw how much damage had been done to it by alternate worlds and demons from beyond the stars..." He turns his head towards them again, a slight smirk on his features. "How did they handle it?" His smirk fades back to a frown. "...by locking it away. Deciding it a danger to the rest and deeming it unfit to be part of the merger. I want to rectify this. I want to bring down these monsters who are even now actively trying to keep you and your families apart."
He turns the rest of the way and slowly makes his way towards the women again. It is then that he offers a hand of his own. "We are building our own Council in Hell. While certainly not the best representives of our homes, we do care about the innocents involved. We care about the unfair treatment of these worlds. I'd like you to join us. Help us to complete the balance. What do you say?"
There are times for emotion, and times where some things are more important. Duties must be performed, battles must be fought, the world must keep turning - time, even halted, must at some point resume it's ceaseless flow. This knowledge does little to stem the rising emotion in the consort of Chronos, but that little provides just enough control. Rudely awoken, she came prepared for a thousand eventualities. It speaks volumes that she hesitated as much as she did.
Her fingers remain entwined about Setsuna's hand as she turns away, watching Diablo evenly as he delivers his speech. There is no malice in those eyes; no love, no doubt, nothing to suggest any kind of reaction. Passion, however, ever lies within. Without emotion, without the understanding depth fostered by truly knowing and caring for the ways of the world, she would have made far more mistakes. And this is a passionate subject. The ruler of the underworld speaks well, emotes well, but he is watched by a woman whose judgement cannot be swayed. One can almost see the scale swaying before her vision, a cosmic balancing act that remains relevant from here unto eternity.
Of course, there is no righteousness in such balance. It was a lesson the Diaduin was born knowing, that each opposing force will offer a sales pitch of equal worth to the sufficiently opened mind. 'Good' and 'evil' are subjective; from any viewpoint, they can be seen as one and the same. Two mythological cogs in a fully functional machine.
"If what you say is true," Emi begins quietly as Diablo makes his ultimate query, her gaze affixed to his extended hand, searching the clawlike shadow as though searching the cosmos itself for truth, "Then the balance has been shifted. It would not be the first time." She raises her head with that statement, tone as purely frank as it could be. She speaks from the heart. "You are right that many tragedies have befallen this world - it has come close to death many times, been pulled back from the brink an equal number of times. I have not always been needed, and nor has..." she catches herself and bites down upon her lip, breathing a laugh that is surprisingly lacking in nerves - it is knowing, that of one to another also in on the secret."
"Regardless," she resumes, the picture of maturity and wisdom, a deep nod shifting toward Diablo, "I believe you already know my answer. Because I believe you know that I have not been paying due attention to that place. Your words are spun well, Senor Diablo," she smiles, a gesture that would be bright and childlike on any other, "And I will travel with you now. I do not require a Council, and I do not swear allegiance. That, I can only give freely... because I must. When I must."
Setsuna receives another long gaze, and the goddess slowly, tellingly sinks her teeth softly into her lip. She concludes her answer a moment later, with a sidelong look to the ruler of the underworld. "Bringing her here was.. clever. You know that."
"Oh, he speaks the truth." A casual, unassuming voice echoes through the space around the three present, as though the air were speaking from all around them, and then a hole seems to rip itself open in a perfectly neat circle, a good two meters away from the exact point between Diablo and Emepherea. The hole is a gateway to another world, a portal, if you will. The air swirls around it as if equalizing to the pressure on the other side of the hole, and the voice can be heard again, but this time it's actually coming from the aperture.
"He's wrong, but he speaks the truth. Looks like patience actually pays off, sometimes. And just when I thought I'd be bored to death." The familiar, silver-haired man attached to the voice steps out of portal, his unchanged brown jacket still covering his white shirt, and his cylindrical sheath still hanging at his waist without anything to tie it there. The man has a face that is clearly made to be dignified, with slight hints of asian heritage marred by the sleep circles under his eyes that look like he was born with them. A very regal face... and it's currently taking a bite out of a hot dog with one hand, the other holding a spare. He chews on the food for a moment, looking back and forth between Diablo and the two women, finishing his bite.
"... ... ...What? It's a vaguely-warmed frankfurter." The man looks from person to person, and holds the untouched dog up towards Diablo casually, without any hint of reverence, or even any real manners. It doesn't look like he even considers the possibility that he might be intruding upon an important moment, as he finishes chewing and swallows his bite.
"... You want one?"
Setsuna's feelings of childhood seem to echo now as she listens to the two converse like a child not part of a conversation, but important to it none the less. Several times she feels the desire to speak, but once her mouth begins to open the words seem to fade away. She's come to expect a great many things from Diablo, but nothing quite like this. Surfice to say she smiles as her mother.... no, that still doesn't sound right, as Emepherea says she'll come along with them. Of course what startles her more isn't the sudden appearnce of another to this group but Senor Diablo's reaction to him.
There's a great many things one can find in Hell, or in the various underworlds connected to it. This however, is not one of them. His eyes widening as he takes the offered bit of food. "Ahh. Why thank you." Taking a bite from it he chews thoughtfuly, nodding his head in the process. "I have unfinished buisness with you, don't I? Or did we simply move past that like it didn't happen?"
Deeply ingrained senses, far from human, flare a warning a moment before Crux's voice rings out. Emi has that moment in which to expect an interloper, and dark hair shimmers against pale skin, raven-black plunging into a yet deeper tone. Senor Diablo has done his homework on the youthful woman; it may be a tossup as to whether he notices this first, or the regal verbage. He still has the advantage over she. The portal opens without further reaction from the balancer. Her attention is already rapt, stare fixed and frown reinstated upon her brow.
It takes several moments before she manages anything more, captured in a freezeframe. Her busy hand does shift faintly, fingers idly exploring those of her child reunited. But there is no significance in the gesture; save as a herald for the faint flush that creeps over Emepherea's alabaster cheeks. A flash of inflamed pink on perfect porcelain, it stands out all the more when doctor and devil exchange casual greeting.
Finally, the goddess' lips part. Her mouth opens, and closes, twice. Rapidly.
And then turns upward at the edges, framing an unabashed smile. Breathless words follow.
"M... Mister Crux..."
Not infallible, indeed.
Crux nods at the devil's thanks, pausing on the rest of his hot dog for a moment. "No problem." He glances between the women again, both of them still and stunned, and then pops the rest of the hot dog into his mouth in one scarf, swallowing it pretty quickly. Less dignified than one might have become used to with him, but then, food doesn't count. He swallows the frankfurter, and cricks his neck, responding to Diablo again. "Unfinished business? Nah, what's passed is Past, don't worry about that. We've got new business, though."
Right around this time, He hears a familiar form of address, and he glances over to Emepherea, his hazel eyes blazing gold for a moment, and then another moment, and then another still. Going back through one's temporal trail is usually a good way of figuring out where you know them from. Shame this one is so long. He recognizes her face long before he's even gotten back a good thousand years. "Oh, Emi-chan! Nice to see you again. You look healthy." ... What, that's it? He turns back to Diablo, making a face. "Now about this whole, unifying the multiverse, thing. Is it just that you want to rule over it, or is ther-" His foot lifts and slams down on the ground with the force of something substantially heavier than a human foot, causing stress fractures to appear below it. He turns back on that foot to stare at Emi, his eyes blinking again. "Now hold on, wait a minute..." Talk about a delayed reaction.
Senor Diablo blinks and widens an eye towards Crux's comment about unification. He starts to open his mouth to speak as he's appruptly cut off. He looks to Emepherea and back to Crux, shakes his head, and proceeds to finish the hotdog now in his possession. Waste not want not, right?
Setsuna continues to stare silently, it would be so much easier to understand what was going on if she knew all the players in the scene better.
"-A greater point and purpose?"
Crux's question is finished seamlessly as his foot rises. Whether it's women's intuition, or something yet greater and more spiritual at work, the question is not posed as if the Diaduin knew the answer. It is directed between the two male entities, lifted eyebrows transferred from Crux to Diablo and back again. Emi pauses to allow the doctor his surprised exclamation, eyes flashing with an elated good humour as it finally comes. Beaming like the little girl she once was, the woman gives a brisk shake of her head, holds up a finger on her free hand, and lifts it toward the demon prince.
"It hardly matters; as he knows. There must be a ruler at any given time; or the perception of a ruler. It will be that way no matter what. If the worlds are to be combined, if they are to truly be one, that is a greater issue. It may thrust against everything that is right and natural. Or," she looks back to Crux with a shift of thin shoulders beneath heavy royal robe, "It may be the opposite case." The smile is abruptly reinstated then, as though this concern can tarry a few moments longer. But it lacks the same youthful vigour, this time there is age and wisdom behind it.
"It's been ever such a long time, hasn't it?" Dark pupils skim the doctor's hazel eyes to meet his own depth. Depth even greater than her own. "I believed you were gone. You're a hard man to trace, Crux Caedon. This is a strange day. Reunions.. don't come as often as I'd sometimes like." There is no regret there; it is a statement, plain and truthful, but she does look to Setsuna, and a trace of apology can be read in her expression at least.
It has been a long time, and Crux lifts a finger up, as if telling Emi to hold on for a moment, tapping his foot and drawing his head back and staring at her as if he's not sure what to do with her for a moment. Then he points that finger accusatorily at her, and nods his head. "Uhh huh."
Crux looks back towards Diablo with a look of less certainty on his face, but no less determination. "What she said. If it's just to rule, we can come to some kind of agreement, but I take issue with the dying worlds merging with all the others. It's happening slowly on its own, and I don't much like it. We should talk. Aaa-aah-ahhnd." He swings his gaze back around to Emi, and then puts it down, finally.
Crux says, "And... Hi. How've you been? You look well. Little pale. Might want to get out more." He glances over at Setsuna, still rambling a bit. "Daughter's cute. You must be proud. I--" That foot slams down again. His hands make a wide sign in the air, stretching out as if to judge a scale. "Eons! Ten e-... Ten-.. TEN EONS!" ... Yes, Crux. She already mentioned it was a long time. "Ten-- Ten Eons! ... ... ... You look good. Clearly a good uh... good dental plan, too. You guys have a provider?" ... Smooth.
Senor Diablo chooses not to address the issues of rule. None of that is important now, after all. There are bigger fish to fry. He looks towards Sailor Pluto with a widened eye as the woman seems to go pale at Crux's comment. This brings a smile to the demon's lips.
Setsuna indeed turns white when the word 'daughter' is spoken. Her brain stammers on the word before... you know what? Her brain quits. Good night folks. The shocked scout's eyes glaze over a little as her body goes into autopilot. Good thing she's not drooling, right?
Many cultures have explored the idea that gods in human form will begin to take on human traits themselves - whether or not they possessed those traits beforehand. The truth is that a being like Emepherea was conceived in that state, and exists in that form by her very nature. To exercise any measure of control effectively, without prejudice, an understanding of humanity's plight is essential. An understanding of emotion, and a certain naive quality that even the greater humans possess in some way... As Crux Caedon aptly demonstrates.
Emi does not falter at his hesitation, but waits with the patience of a saint, gazing unblinkingly between doctor and devil. This is important to her; the answer is important. Crucially so. But it's a measure of the human condition, the reliance on emotions and emotional reactions, that she is able to not immediately pursue the enquiry further. For the moment, Diablo's lack of comment will suffice as the full extent of his reply. It does not win him favour with Chronos' erstwhile guardian. Crux's sense of priorities also perks fascination, need for discussion. It's all filed away silently as she turns back to the good doctor in time for his ramblings.
Smile. Nod. Smile.
At that, the Diaduin's expression falters, lips framing a tiny 'o'. She glances sidelong to Setsuna; yet feels the other woman's reaction before she sees it, and pulls the grasping hand away gently, leaving limp fingers behind. Her expression contains some of her own emotions, her own misgivings, her own need for greater understanding, but ultimately it all lies under a veneer of empathy and respect. It is, in fact, a motherly expression from one who has long mothered an entire planet. And played matron-sister to a maniac long slipped from reach.
For Crux, there is warmth untouched by confusion. His explosion and subsequent staccato silence is met with stoic good humour, lips quirking from a smile to a broad grin and then a heartfelt laugh. She has her own bewilderness to navigate through; she /has/ just awoken from a long and arduous theological slumber. But seeing a flash from her past, a carefree past where her point and purpose seemed so easy to reach, and to maintain, brings a welcome flood of joy to the little deity. "Thank you, Crux," she manages to reply after a moment, eyes practically twinkling as she leans slight forward toward Crux, conspiratorially turning away from Diablo, "I think I get the teeth from my parents."
Crux blinks at Emi's smile and thanks, and he shrugs away most of that demeanor, leaving him with a smile of his own. "Not accustomed to being thanked for being me." He leans to hear what Emepherea says, and then grins in response, nodding his approval. "Makes sense. I hear that happens, sometimes." He cricks his back by turning his torso, and nods his head. "Right. Well." He clears his throat, crosses his arms, and turns to look at Diablo. "So? Are you going to answer the question, or are we going to stand here all year? Not that I'm complaining, it's nice scenery, but..." He makes a rather coarse motion with his hand that suggests that it might be best to hurry it along. And here he was just talking about patience, a minute ago, too. Really, some people have no sympathy for the devil.
Senor Diablo blinks at the comment and has to think for a moment before realising what was expected of him. He laughs nervously a moment, not because he's hiding anything but simply because he doesn't like to miss anything. That's not his thing. EVER. His words come out almost enraged as all humor escapes him. "No. If I am ment to rule anything alone it will be from neccessity, not plan. I created Hell's Council to prevent one person from taking control and I intend to keep it that way. But this conversation is neither here nor there and I suggest we make our way before anyone catches on to our little tea time. Shall we make our way to the domains outside this world? Yes. I believe we shall." Turning away quickly, the demon walks towards the cliff face as a black portal errupts over it. ...like a living shadow. Quickly he vanishes into it, assuming the others to follow behind.
Having this person pull away from her and look so confused, if even only in her mind, forces Setsuna to come to her senses and blush heavily. Maybe she was wrong. Maybe she's just made a total fool of herself. This doesn't help to clear the broken images in her mind, or the feelings she felt as they held hands. The poor girl tries in vain to gather herself but the damage has been done. She keeps her gaze to the ground, refusing to make eye contact with anyone as she turns and follows Diablo into the vortex. Perhaps it is simply a show of her own powers but upon passing into it, light ripples across the darkness engulfing the shadows with a brilliant show of colors as the woman vanishes within it.