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charlequin The atmosphere in the party room is thick and nervous; the nobles are clearly unprepared for this sort of disruption to their usually immutable routines, and everyone seems terrified of the Arbiter's power. The instinct to keep one's head down and avoid making waves seems to be winning out, though, so there is currently no panic....

Birds obtains some refreshments before seeking out her friends.

Cerin "Ah, welcome back Birds."

Birds "Good evening again."

Birds "So. Did I miss anything?"

Zahara appears shortly after Birds, "Hello, there. How did your conversations with the Arbiter go?"

Birds "He seems nice. A bit sensitive, though."

Birds leans over to Zee to whisper, "I promised not to tell, but... he cried."

Birds giggles.

Zahara raises a brow, "Birds," she says disapprovingly, "That wasn't nice."

Birds looks to heaven and says piously, "I had nothing to do with his outpouring of emotions."

Birds "The stony demeanour, it must wear on one."

Cerin looks curiously at Birds.

Zahara "I can only imagine," she replies drily

Zahara "What did you say to him?"

Birds breaks down laughing.

Birds "He didn't really cry. I just raised the question of...ahem...internal struggles...and he got a little hot under the collar."

Zahara "Ah, I see."

Birds "And how was your visit with our excellent host?"

Zahara "Oh, it went rather well. I broached the subject of the etchcrystals with him. He seemed less than pleased by the idea of trading them."

Birds "Interesting. What exactly is an etchcrystal?"

Zahara "I've no idea, actually. Was it in that book of yours?"

Birds thinks. "Perhaps it was. It's in the chambers now, though."

Cerin "It is a rare substance, but powerful. It is what allows all this technology we see here. As you might expect from the order of this plane, it forms powerful, though flexible, essence matrices naturally."

Birds hmms.

Zahara "Why would they be so resistant to trading for it?"

Cerin "I would guess due to both its rarity and its unique nature. They do not wish for too much demand."

Zahara "I see."

Cerin "That would be merely my guess based on the small amount of info in the book."

Zahara sighs

Zahara We must find who did this, in order to clear our good name.

Cerin "Just so."

Birds nods.

Birds "What did you see when it happened?"

Zahara "Little that the rest did not. It was the end of the seventh shift in the song, the beginning of the eight. The floor around the barque was unusually clear, and then the Lineages became violently ill."

Thirteen arrives.

Lucent walks back in. "... I would be lying if I said that went smoothly."

Zahara looks over at Luc, "Oh? Do tell."

Thirteen "It is comforting to know that some things in this universe remain immutable constants. There are twelve planes, purity of soul leads to purity in combat, and the Arbiter of Justice knows what you are up to."

Lucent "They have a stronger cultural identity than, well... Thirteen here. I had to just suggest them that if it was not the Lily it was their own people wishing to keep them closed, and he shut his face and had me out of the room."

Lucent "Really feels like I screwed up, sorry if that was the cas... wait, they know?!?"

Thirteen "The Arbiter is no fool, and knows that we are not fools enough to murder important political leaders in the middle of our own diplomatic reception."

Zahara pats Luc's shoulder, "well you still have your head, and that's a start."

Thirteen "His questions to me were deliberate. He wishes us to be aware that the ulterior motive behind our visit, while not completely discerned, comes as no surprise to him."

Thirteen "I believe that he is as yet uncertain on how to best respond, if at all."

Birds "Hm."

Thirteen "I am most curious as to how your interview were conducted."

Thirteen *interviews

Zahara "He suggested as much to me as well, saying that it could not be coincidence. I told him that it was likely an attempt to either discredit us, or throw off suspicion with us as an easy scapegoat."

Cerin "Mine was relatively brief, though I did get a chance to study the arbiter in detail."

Birds "I said much the same, though truthfully it did not occur to me that we were the real victims of this event."

Thirteen "I question whether this was done merely to send a message, or to provide an excuse for our interrogation and possible investigation."

Thirteen "Oh yes, Cerin?"

Lucent "Mine got me to tell him of the Lily. And tell me how they are oh-so-pacific and we brought the serpents in..."

Cerin nods. "The details are interesting, but this is hardly the time."

Zahara taps her fingers restlessly

Birds looks at Luc. "You are an interesting young man."

Lucent blinks, "Why, Bird?"

Birds "Oh, you know.... reasons..."

Birds makes a vague gesture.

Cerin [ ** add s ]

Thirteen "My primary concern at this moment is with locating the information leak that has given the Arbiter such a clear understanding of our goals."

Zahara ::I must say, I have a pleasant vision in my mind's eye of Lai expiring in such a manner.::

Zahara raises a brow at Thirteen, the eyeless wonder. "What does he understand our goals to be?"

Cerin ::It could simply be the enhantments woven into his nature. Which may have some relevence afterall. He is perternatually good at reading intent and sifting the truthes of statements."

Cerin ::

Thirteen "He made it clear that he knows we have come to take something. I do not think he knows what."'

Zahara brushes a wrinkle out of her skirt "Oh, of course he knows that. I spoke to him of our desire to trade for the etchcrystals."

Zahara ::Please keep any sensitive information... unspoken.::

Thirteen ::I am not convinced that even that will be enough.::

Lucent loks... puzzled. ::They will probably know we are talking like this if we stay silent for long, however. If they are as good as Thirteen make it sound...::

Zahara ::even so, it is unwise to advertise things widely. They are not the only ones who could be listening in on us.::

Thirteen ::I am not sure how good they are. In itself, that worries me. I tend to be sure.::

Zahara ::We will inevitably find out, of course.:: "What do you think they will desire in return for the etchcrystals?"

Birds "This is delicious, isn't it?"

Birds ::Certainly something they think we will not give them.::

Birds eats more of the curious treats.

Thirteen absent-mindedly eats a turkey. "I have never known etchcrystals to be exported. If they offer them, a singular service will no doubt be required."

Zahara leans back in her chair, frowning. "I suspected it would not be easy."

Cerin ::I wonder how the lily obtained theirs.::

Zahara ::As do I. I wonder how they obtained all of their ingredients all over, so quickly and easily, really.::

Birds makes amusement by drawing portraits of her companions. ::Maybe there are more of them than we thought.::

Thirteen ::Excuse me for indulging in melodrama, but I suspect that the ultimate answers to these questions will be found under the Jade Pleasure Dome.::

Zahara ::That would make my day SO much better.:: she rubs her forehead, then poses nicely for Birds

Birds raises her eyebrow at Thirteen, and accordingly beams him the sensation of making a funny face over the Unity of Dreams.

Zahara , in fact, RADIATES pose.

Thirteen ::Who else would have the resources to instantly gather the needed components from everywhere at once?::

Thirteen ::Even we would need a week or so if we were to put our minds to it.::

Zahara ::Or... it could be, that this has been in the works for a very, very long time, while we were unaware of it.::

Cerin ::They took the best part of a year, and we know they have the backing of at least one yozi.::

Thirteen ::The Yozi cannot withstand us. How then can they project more force than us?::

Zahara cracks her neck, ::We should have brought Lucien.::

Thirteen ::Something more is afoot.::

Cerin ::They have at least one agent working for them who I can track only by his very absence and whose illusions my sight cannot peirce.::

Cerin ::It would be foolish to assume they do not have others.::

Cerin ::In addition, they have the aid of numerous creatures, both hundredfold and more primal beings, that have existed as Creation has::

Birds ::In summary, they are well equipped and well connected. They surpass us in experience and knowledge. They may very well have the ear of the Sun.::

Lucent ::I was telling the Arbiter something just like that...:: He sighs.

Zahara ::Well, we will simply have to stop them here, as we have elsewhere, and make the Xarans more aware of the dangers they need to be aware of so they may protect themselves.::

Cerin ::As a further point, they have the aid of at least one deathlord, which gives them an avenue into creation for the calling of demons.:: As he speaks, a rapid series of manipulates of the three planets he has stolen from Zee sends them pattering into the quill in Birds hand this way and that, and at the end leaving a small, perfect sketch of Zahara's perfect pose ::As Birds so sucinctly summarised::

Birds shows the drawing around, and passes the sketchpad to Lucent. "Your turn!" ::And how can we do this without inevitably leading to the conclusion that we brought this thing to their shores?::

Zahara maintains her pose with perfect poise, thus showing herself off to best advantage

Zahara ::If Lai already has the etchcrystals, they have already been compromised in the past::

Lucent "B.. but I can't draw!"

Birds ::Ah, you are correct as always.::

Zahara "Practice makes perfect.::

Zahara "

Birds "Simply let your conscience be your guide!"

Lucent "A... all right!" begins to try to draw... Birds, then! Why not begin with the hardest? Then you have an excuse! ::Well I kind of said they would come to this eventually anyway... but it was me being nervous, frankly...::

Zahara idly begins braiding her hair into an elaborate coif

Zahara "So, how are we to investigate these murders? I think perhaps we must speak to the survivor next."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Zahara "You must get us an audience with him."

Lucent "Cerin has, you mean. He can see wether they speaking the truth!"

Zahara "Yes, if only one may go, he should be the one."

Thirteen "You are the diplomat, Dreambreaker. You have but to ask."

Zahara "Ah, but you seem to know them."

Thirteen "This is precisely why the Arbiter seems unwilling to allow me the run of the place at the moment."

Zahara arches a brow again, "I see. What exactly is your relationship with this plane?"

Thirteen coughs.

Thirteen "On my way through this plane, my presence proved useful to the Arbiter of Justice. It seems that there was a dramatic and unexpected murder at a diplomatic meeting being held at the time, that I happened to be attending. It fell to me to absolve myself by locating the culprit."

Thirteen "The Arbiter respects me. This may be the cause of much of our problems on this plane."

Zahara "It seems trouble dogs your heels, Thirteen.

Zahara "

Thirteen "Adventurers and adventure accompany each other. Which of them leads is of no account."

Thirteen "Suffice it to say that perhaps, at this moment, your entreaties will be of more concern to them then my requests."

Zahara "This would have been useful to know before we came here, really."

Thirteen "I did not expect it to come up."

Birds giggles.

Zahara "Always to expect things to come up. I would appreciate it if you would tell us anything else that would affect our relationships with others, before it comes to light in a way such as this."

Thirteen "I assure you, Zahara, that I always inform you of everything that I expect will be helpful for you to know."

Zahara "I apologize for snapping, I am rather annoyed by being framed for murder."

Thirteen "You get used to it rather quickly, I assure you."

Zahara "I do not intend to make it a habit."

Thirteen "Neither did I."

Birds "It might make YOU a habit, though."

Birds giggles again.

Zahara "Then it must be made widely known what happens to the perpetrators of such attempts at defamation."

Lucent shows his rendition of Birds to her own self "Points for effort, at least?"

Birds smiles immensely. It's beautiful! I'm going to hang it up in my room."

Birds ** It's

Zahara grimly begins plotting her latest enemy's long, slow, painfully elaborate demise.

Lucent feels the urge to jump! "Thanks! Now... Thirteen! No need to draw eyes."

Tags: (:tags Arbiter of Stones, Xara, Etchcrystal, Exaltation Checklist, Primordials, Bin-al-Zen :)

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