Thirteen sits calmly at a table in the war room, covering a ream of paper with carefully annotated diagrams in immaculate Old Realm.
Cerin approaches quietly behind Thirteen, a little curious as to how perceptive the blind man is, though he makes a noise at a polite distance away "Good day, Thirteen."
Thirteen continues his work without pause. "Greetings, Cerin the Wolf. I have much to discuss with you."
Thirteen "Your army's training is adequate. Its organization is not. I note that you have distributed their forces to guard against the pinpoint strike capability of your enemies."
Thirteen "However, I count no less than six command bottlenecks, any of which, if taken out by a teleporting strike force, will result in at least doubled execution time."
Thirteen "Which means your army is dead."
Thirteen "I am reorganizing this now, at least with regards to your trained men. Your barbarian horde will require a different approach."
Thirteen "Did you want something?"
Cerin "It is not just the pinpoint strikes of commandoes they need to defend themselves from, Thirteen Blooming Flowers. There is also the possibility of armies moving down from the north and from the west, but yes, I would like to talk with you. About you."
Zahara enters grandly at that moment, followed by a trail of servants with various sweets and spiced wine. "Indeed, we have much to speak of."
Thirteen "The armies are not a significant danger. I am leaving that til last, as it is not the most serious concern."
Thirteen puts down his pen.
Thirteen "Certainly, Zahara, Cerin. What would you like to know?"
Zahara dismisses the servants, they bow and retreat.
Thirteen reaches out without turning to snag a sweet and pops it into his mouth.
Zahara takes a seat in Her Chair, marked with the Eclipse, and rather ornate. Reaver hops off her shoulder and starts chewing on one of the silver platters.
Zahara "Everything, of course. Your background. Your accomplishments. Your failings. Your strengths and weaknesses. Your goals. All to better see if you will fit well with our empire."
Thirteen "It would take more time than we can possibly spare for me to describe my life from its inception until this moment."
Thirteen "If you have any specific questions, I will be pleased to answer them."
Zahara "I only ask for major events." she makes a grand 'go on' gesture, and picks up a sweet, sucking on it.
Thirteen begins rolling up his papers, dividing them into two piles.
Cerin "Perhaps we should start with your reason for joining us. You mentioned your people, and that they were in some peril, but nothing beyond that."
Cerin "Perhaps we should start with your reason for wishing to join us ... you did appear out of the blue, as it were."
Thirteen "Perhaps it seems that way to you. In fact, I spent nearly a year looking for you. Your movements are...erratic."
Thirteen "We are all siblings, are we not? I seek others of my kind. Your difficulties are my difficulties."
Zahara "The Sunlands have remained here for years, the only part that changes is our borders."
Thirteen "The Sunlands did not move. You did."
Zahara "I heard once, a quote that applies to this. "Just because it's Shiny doesn't make it your Friend." As we have learned to our detriment. And we always return here, in fact."
Thirteen "As you can see, this is where I awaited you."
Cerin "And it took you a year to realise this was the best plan?"
Zahara covers a smirk with a strawberry. She tugs Reaver gently away from what's left of the platter.
Thirteen "I have no horse, nor any magic flying wasps. Traveling across Creation can take a while."
Thirteen "I have not encountered any of our kind before. If you say that we are generally untrustworthy, I can hardly gainsay you."
Zahara "How can you possibly not have a horse? They are all over. Have you no money?"
Cerin "Where did you travel from?"
Thirteen "I don't like horses."
Thirteen "The West."
Cerin "Ah. That is a long journey for one to make. Very long."
Thirteen "It took much time."
Thirteen "Luckily I learned much along the way."
Zahara "I still cannot believe you would sacrifice the expediencey of a horse, or indeed a cart and wagon, for walking."
Thirteen "That doesn't bother me.'
Zahara "Then you have no call to say we have no time for a full history of yourself, since you obviously imagine we have enough time for you to WALK here."
Thirteen takes a glass of spiced wine and pours it down his throat in one swallow, then carelessly places it on the table, where it falls over but doesn't break.
Zahara "Therefore, tell me about where you come from. Who are your people?"
Cerin takes a drink of his own. "Tales of us had reached the west a year ago?"
Thirteen "When I was walking across Creation, I was working for myself. I had no pressing issues. I could take my leisure."
Zahara frowns at the fallen wine glass. Reaver hops over and arights it.
Thirteen "I can only assume they had, since that is where I gathered them."
Thirteen finishes piling his papers. He takes one pile, rolls it up and swallows it.
Thirteen "Now we have no time for games."
Zahara "Your people," she prompts. "Who did you learn your masterful tactics from?"
Thirteen sniffs. "There is no one who can teach me tactics; I have no peers, much less superiors."
Thirteen "My training is my own." He edges the remaining pile of paper so that it is in the center of the table, knocking the glass over again.
Zahara glares as the glass goes over. She motions to Reaver, and he eats it.
Cerin "And your people?"
Thirteen "My people are the Heartwood Spearfolk."
Zahara "I see. I have heard tales of them." she lies.
Thirteen takes another sweet and eats it. This one was wrapped.
Thirteen "I am sure you have."
Cerin "Your people prosper though, I trust?"
Thirteen taps his fingers on the table.
Thirteen "In fact, they are suffering. Their neighbors, the Bone Dagger Kings, have been attacking them since time immemorial."
Zahara "And this led you to us?"
Thirteen "If they are not rescued, they may all perish."
Zahara tightens her lips as a strange expression crosse her face, then smooths
Thirteen "It was a consideration, certainly. But as I said, I came here because you are my siblings."
Thirteen "I wished to be with those more like me."
Zahara "I am curious - If you consider us your siblings, then why do you insist on lying to us?"
Thirteen "What god-king can suffer the company of mortal after mortal for long?"
Thirteen "Excuse me."
Thirteen rises to his feet smoothly.
Thirteen "What are you suggesting I have lied to you about?"
Zahara "Well you said you were from the West, yet your people are named after a Tree, for one thing."
Zahara "You also said that you were both walking across Creation with no pressing issues, and that you needed help to rescue your people before they all perished."
Thirteen "I travelled from the West to find you because it was the best hope for rescuing my people."
Thirteen "I am assured of this."
Zahara "Indeed. You have already told us this. But you also did not address what I just said. You are being evasive, and that is no way to begin a beautiful friendship."
Thirteen flicks the collar around his neck, making it ring with a pure note. "Friendship? What friendship?"
Zahara "Brotherhood, then?"
Zahara "You must understand, that we have had to deal with renegade Solars before. You have said you have not met any, but yet, we have. And there are also those who begun as our allies, and have turned on us through possession. The Sunlands must be protected. They are my people.*"
Thirteen "Some families have rivalries."
Zahara "Surely you can see why I must protect them from the potential that you bring."
Thirteen "I offered you my word. I have nothing else to offer."
Zahara "Then you understand why more is needed. It is not that your word is not worthy, but that it must be supplemented in case others' actions bring you harm."
Thirteen "If others bring me harm, this is my own concern, is it not?"
Cerin "When it harms the Sunlands, it becomes ours."
Thirteen "Then your primary worry should be preventing harm to me, since I am a Sunlander. Not protecting the Sunlands from itself."
Thirteen "I am pleased to hear that you have such concern for my well-being."
Thirteen "Assuredly, once this war is complete, you will be more than eager to assist me with my people's plight."
Thirteen "Whose actions do you anticipate bringing me harm, by the by?"
Zahara "We may at that, assuming we win with that help."
Zahara "The Primordials themselves."
Thirteen "What will they do to me that I will not anticipate and counter?"
Thirteen "Do not assume merely because your friend was an unprepared fool that all those you encounter are as well."
Zahara "Obviously your abilities were not enough for your people."
Zahara "So I must assume that you cannot handle absolutely every threat that may come against you."
Thirteen "When I return to my people, I will save them, with or without your help."
Cerin "With the power you have gained in a years travel?" Cerin raises an eyebrow
Thirteen "Your assistance would be mildly pleasant, in that it would indicate a certain desire to abide by your stated word."
Thirteen "It has been more than a year since I have seen my people."
Zahara "I keep my promises. I have as yet promised nothing to you."
Cerin "And yet you only started to travel for us a year ago..."
Thirteen "I recall you stating that the well-being of the Sunlanders was your concern."
Thirteen "Clearly you mean this only insofar as it coincides with your personal whim."
Thirteen "Indeed, Cerin."
Zahara raises a brow.
Zahara "You would get along well with Tevezst."
Cerin "What were you doing for that time then? Travelling the west?"
Thirteen "I have traveled many lands."
Cerin "And yet we have heard nothing of you..."
Thirteen "Your incapacity to gather information is not my concern."
Thirteen "Let me amend that."
Thirteen "It was not formerly my concern."
Thirteen "Now that I am here, I will attempt to rectify that, since apparently it is an enormous gap in your abilities."
Zahara "You would do well to be less critical and more helpful."
Thirteen pushes the papers across the table.
Thirteen "Take these to the officers of the Legion. They do not know me yet."
Thirteen "The formations within will protect you from strike forces and ensure that flanking or pincer attacks will not be strong concerns."
Cerin picks the papers up and leafs through them idly.
Zahara "No army can pass our borders."
Thirteen "Then presumably you have no need of me. Will you remove this choke-chain, so that I can be on my way?"
Cerin "Actually, a carefully chosen one could my love. They would just need to be skilled occultists..."
Zahara "They would need MANY skilled occultists, in fact."
Thirteen "I'm waiting."
Cerin "They have many Exalts."
Zahara "And they should be easy to spot as they pass through, as their fighters would need to be at least roped together, and blindfolded."
Cerin "I was assuming the army could see for themselves. They are capable of developing such charms."
Zahara "I wish to do more than simply defend the Sunlands. All of Creation would suffer if the Lily were to win."
Zahara "It is possible I should have waited longer before casting this spell, but frankly, I expected an attack much sooner than this."
Thirteen "Then perhaps your army will need to be able to be effective outside the Sunlands, without immediately being defeated by the simplest of ploys?"
Thirteen "Perhaps, then, your objection is irrelevant, and ill-timed."
Thirteen addresses himself to Cerin.
Zahara "It was not an objection. It is pertinent information."
Thirteen "By utilizing several units with different arms, working in unison, we can easily take into account and counter any attempts by your opponents to outmaneuver you."
Thirteen "In order to best execute this, it will be necessary to equip your officers with communication devices, that we may coordinate their movements with an immediate execution time."
Thirteen "The specifications are on the seventh page."
Thirteen "Implementation of these plans should take no longer than seven days."
Cerin "Yes, I noticed that." Cerin says, still flicking.
Thirteen "At this time, I expect you will remove this collar, and accept me as an equal."
Thirteen "Otherwise, I feel we may consider our friendship well concluded."
Thirteen "Is there anything else you wish of me?"
Zahara "I will accept you as an equal when the war is over."
Thirteen "You will need to do better than that, Dreambreaker."
Thirteen taps his foot lightly, and his spear leaps up into his hand.
Zahara "Will I? You have done little since coming her other than antagonize."
Zahara "Even before the subject of the collar came up."
Cerin "I would be most interested to hear tales of your journey personally, though that can wait for another day I suppose."
Zahara "And might I remind you that I wear one as well."
Thirteen "I doubt I can be held responsible for your laughable tactical position. As to your collar, that merely reduces the offense, it does not eliminate it."
Thirteen "Once you apply the information I have provided you, tell me again that I have done nothing to assist you."
Thirteen "Cerin, if you remove this collar, I will be more than pleased to regale you with my exploits."
Zahara "I have little doubt that these plans will be useful. Whoever else you are, you are Chosen of the Sun."
Thirteen "At the moment I'm afraid I am disinclined."
Thirteen "At least you recognize that much."
Thirteen sweeps out of the room, grabbing a sweet and swallowing it on his way.
Zahara leans back in her chair. "His ass just doesn't compare."
Cerin "That is something of a shame."
Zahara "Indeed. Although maybe he will be less attractive to Primordials as well."
Cerin "That seems to be my lot now.""
Zahara "Your lot? Yours is better than his too, but my favorite thing about you is your eyes, and your hair." She runs her fingers through his hair.
Zahara "You know, I made an effort to be nicer to him, but I am not sure it was worth it."
Zahara fingers the silken scarves at her waist.
Cerin 's hair shimmers alittle in the light as Zahara plays with it "These things take time."
Zahara "I'm still stunned that he walked. I can't even imagine walking anywhere anymore. That's so.... peasant."
Cerin "I did too, before I met you. It is a pleasant way to travel."
Zahara "Well when you met me you had never had a room like you do now, either. It was quite tragic."
Cerin smiles "I survived."
Zahara "Did you like it? I know you value your freedom."
Cerin "I did." He leans on her "I still would I think . I like this life too."
Zahara leans her head on his shoulder. "Do you trust him? I know his motives are reasonably pure, but if he does not cease criticizing everything we have done, and everything we plan to do, I think I may have to kill him."
Cerin "I do my love. He is not used to dealing with people of his abilities. Our tactics /are/ flawed. We are just fortunate our foes are even more so."
Zahara "Perhaps you can talk to him. He seems to like you. Convince him to be less of an asshole, because I really do NOT need the added stress right now, even if he works wonders."
Zahara "And I do see his value."
Cerin "I will talk to him later my love, yes."
Zahara "And no, I'm not going to take it off of him. Not til he's proved himself to my satisfaction, and seven days is not nearly enough for that."
Cerin "My love, if we do not make sign of trust then he /will/ leave us. That was clear to me."
Zahara "Obviously. I am not entirely sure I would be upset if he did."
Cerin "I am not sure I would be upset, but he would be very useful for us."
Zahara "You don't think our empire is a disaster do you? I thought it was going fairly well." she pouts a little.
Cerin "It is not a disaster." he kisses her lips "But I am sure it could be better. We are distracted these days."
Tags: (:tags Solars, Heartwood Spearfolk, Bone Dagger Kings, Primordials, Tevezst, Collars :)