alsoquin A short while after his arrival, Thirteen and Zahara have told Imrama that they are making a brief journey into the Wyld, and encouraged him to settle into the temporary accomodations they have offered him in the manse. Now, Birds-of-Trinity is hard at work in the kitchen, while Imrama has the run of the Cascade.
Imrama Imrama goes for a walk (on the air just above the surface of) the Manse and its grounds. Having crossed half of Creation to reach Solaria, he finds himself more lost than he has felt in a long time - what exactly has he gotten himself into?
Imrama He resolves to find someone who can answer some of his many, many questions about just who and what he has sworn himself to. Tepet Ejava, being a person of military bent similar to his own, is his first candidate.
Imrama He seeks out the nearest uniformed figure, and begins asking (very politely) his way up the chain.
alsoquin As the acting commander of the Sunlands armed forces, almost everyone around has to at least be capable of pointing Imrama closer to her location. After a few such inquiries he manages to track her down to an armory in Solaria, where she is currently attempting to determine how much of the armaments within are salvageable after the earthquake.
Imrama Imrama enters the armory somewhat blithely, without contempt for the guards but without much notice of them either. Approaching the Roseblack, he addresses her in his stiff, oddly accented High Realm.
Imrama "Commander Ejava; how goes the reclamation?"
Tepet Ejava continues to pour over crates of weapons, but does address the newly arrived Solar with a tone of respect. "Well, thus far, Trierarch. The improved construction techniques Zahara applied to the buildings of this city have done much to reduce the damage it suffered; most of our supplies remain useable." She picks up a snapped spear and tosses it into a pile with other weapons requiring repair. "It is unfortunate -- or p
Tepet Ejava "It is unfortunate -- or perhaps deeply fortunate -- that you have arrived at such a turbulent moment."
Imrama "Such is my feeling also. I had hoped to come at a time when I could meet the Emperess and her compatriots in court; I had several proposals to make to them with regard to the future of the Sunlands. Instead, I have found this nation teetering on the cusp - I am glad to be hear to help, but I had not considered that it might need me even more than I need it."
Tepet Ejava is a professional -- she doesn't chuckle at the reference to "the Empress and her compatriots in court."
Tepet Ejava turns around.
Tepet Ejava "How much had you heard of the Sunlands, before you arrived here?" Her expression is very curious.
Imrama "Enough to know the general scope of its majesty without many of the details. Important victories here, gains in territory there...
Imrama "I cannot do what my nature and my gifts enjoin me to do without allies, without a great nation or movement to be a part of. The Realm would never take me, Lookshy lives in the past rather than the future, and I have a special revulsion to the Haslanti."
Imrama 's normally exceedingly gentle eyes narrow with anger as 'Haslanti' crosses his lips.
Imrama "But when I returned from my last voyage, and heard of a mighty nation, built by my ancient siblings and other noble dreamers, I knew I had found the cause I had been searching for. I came as fast as I could."
Tepet Ejava "Indeed. I have no love for them myself; I have served in those forsaken wastes they call home." She reaches over and opens another crate, which she begins to sift through as she speaks. "You are certainly right to come here... you do need them, but you are also right to say that they need you. The Sunlands present a strong face to the world, but there is much turmoil within the walls of the Cascade."
Tepet Ejava seems to think for a moment. "I... tell me. What do you envision, that you hope the Sunlands will bring into being for you?"
Imrama "For me? Very little...
Imrama "For Creation? A world as awesome and good as it was an Age ago. And beyond that, in the distance of my dreams, a world far, far better."
Imrama *Imrama looks far past Ejava, far past the armory and its contents, to a world only he can see. He holds it in his wondering stare for several moments.
Imrama "What, then, is your reason for carrying the banner of the Sunlands?"
Tepet Ejava nods, and answers circuitously. "It is odd. You do not sound crazed or mad. And yet, all my life, I have been taught that you were Anathema; that only by casting you down was the world kept from being cast into the abyss." She hands a set of intact spears to a waiting soldier as she continues on.
Tepet Ejava "So I do not know the truth of that. I know that I carry the banner here because I have my own vision of a greater future, and all other forces in the universe are allied against it." She pauses, examining a sword from the latest crate. "I think that, perhaps, if you were truly Anathema, you would not support such a vision."
Imrama "The failures of my ancient siblings were many, and indefensible. In an earlier life, the part of me that lived then judged most of his fellows beyond salvation, and set out to build a new and better life for those he could save...
Imrama "He failed. Not for want of valor or fine intentions, but he failed none the less. The lesson I take from that failure, is that I cannot resolve to change the world on my own. I must work together, with others of similar (and, perhaps even not-so-similar) mind."
Tepet Ejava nods and ponders this for a moment. "So. What brings you here to speak with me? I am sure you did not come for idle philosophical banter."
Imrama Looks a little hurt that Ejava doesn't like talking with him about utopia.
Imrama "No, no of course not, Commander. Nor would I want to waste your time. I am attemtping to figure out the structures of this place. I understand that you are a leader of Solaria's martial forces, perhaps the leader? I thought perhaps you could direct me to the other persons of authority whose names and faces I ought to know."
Tepet Ejava "I am indeed the commander of all armies and military forces within the Sunlands, though each of the Solars here has their own... pet projects that I am not rendered privy to. There are a few others here who command smaller tactical units: Serenal the Lunar leads the Radiant Sabres, while Ahina and her companions provide
Tepet Ejava tactical stealth services for Ce..."-- she stops and corrects herself -- "the circle."
Tepet Ejava "I, of course, report exclusively to Thirteen Blooming Flowers."
Imrama "I, see. Is there any sort of record keeper, or librarian, or such?"
Imrama "Anyone whose responsibility it is to keep record of the circle and the goings on of the Sunlands?"
Tepet Ejava "Not as such, no. There is a central library that I believe Relovia has taken to informally tending as she has been researching matters of theology; Cerin, Birds, and Zahara also each keep their own libraries."
Imrama "That sounds like what I'm looking for. Thank you very much for your time, Commander."
Imrama turns to leave the armory, in search of Relovia and the library.
Imrama "I'm sorry, Commander Ejava. Could you tell me just where that is?"
Tepet Ejava nods. "It is difficult to navigate the Cascade at first. Ehan will direct you." She nods to a soldier, who moves to accompany the Solar. She waits until Imrama is on his way out and adds, "If you feel compelled to discuss the future again, Trierarch, please remember that I can be easily found."
Tepet Ejava Ehan leads the Solar through the twisting hallways of the Cascade, pausing occasionally to check the gold, opal, and ruby panels upon the walls that reveal the current arrangement of the hallways. Eventually they come upon the "public" library: a fairly large chamber, stocked tightly with bookshelves, with a mezzanine level above stocked even more fully.
Tepet Ejava Rustling sounds point to someone's presence near the back of the room.
Imrama approaches quietly through the library with great reverence for the place and its contents. He pears around the bookshelf at the back of the room, looking for its occupant.
Tepet Ejava Near the back of the room stands Cathak Relovia, pouring over a heretical manuscript. A severe-looking woman clad in loose red robes, Relovia has allowed her hair to grow back somewhat since departing the Immaculate Order, but keeps it pulled tightly back behind her head. She looks up as Imrama arrives.
Tepet Ejava "Hello. Who are you?"
Imrama "My name is Imrama Stormfound. I am recently sworn to the cause of the Sunlands..."
Imrama makes his Caste Mark glow.
Imrama "I need to catch up on the state of the empire and the world. I am a little behind the times."
Tepet Ejava "Ah." She nods her head, in a motion clearly very familiar yet uncertain in its current application. "Welcome." She pauses for a moment to close up her book and return it to the shelf. "I have busied myself with keeping careful track of such details; please, inquire as you would."
Imrama "There are a number of basic facts I hope you can furnish me with, with regard to this nation:
Imrama "Whom have we established as our allies? Whom as our enemies? By what oaths or treaties are we or any of our protectorate obliged? These are all good examples...
Imrama "But you, no doubt, have a reason for being here, in this place, advancing the goals of the Sunlands. I am curious to know why you, specifically, are here before we move onto more general matters."
Relovia pauses for a moment and does not speak. When she does, it comes out sounding a little... forced. "The Immaculate Religion was false and enabled the corrupt culture of the Realm that lead to the current collapse. The Sunlands offers a better alternative."
Imrama looks intrigued, and asks quickly, "Does the Sunlands have an official religion, then?"
Relovia pulls out a sheaf of papers, heavily covered with notes in several scripts. "The Faith Ecliptic. It began as an idea between Birds-of-Trinity and..." she swallows -- "Markuran the Bear. But Birds does not yet truly know the ways of theological rigor. I have been working on several adjustments to the texts."
Imrama is clearly very interested in this. "Are any of them open to public consideration yet? I'd be very interested inreading them - not just at the moment, but soon, hopefully."
Imrama "But I may be taking us too far off course. Given that you are an editor of the regional scripture, you should be able to answer my most important question: What is the position of the Faith Ecliptic on gods, spirits, the Celestial Bureaucracy?"
Relovia "Ah, yes. There is a copy of the most recent official manuscript over there" -- she points helpfully. "What I have here are only suggestions, theological commentaries."
Relovia "It is the official doctrine of the Faith that the past relationships of Exalts to Gods have been immoral and unwise. In propriety, the Gods are both stewards of their domains, and properly entitled to the rewards that stem from the utility and greatness of said domains.
Relovia The Solar Exalts, along with their rulership over all mortal existence, are the true priests, those who enable the Gods to grow prosperous on the fruits of their domains, and thereby compel the workings of the universe forward to ever more glorious heights."
Imrama "That is...good to hear. With that theological position, I would expect that the Sunlands have acquired many allies among the gods. Do you have a list on hand I might consult?"
Relovia arches an eyebrow. "I am prepared to provide an ordination of those officially sworn in allegiance to the Sunlands, if you wish."
Imrama "Excellent, that would be most helpful."
Relovia pulls out a map and begins to point as she rapidly speaks. "In terms of world nations, Rathess is our closest ally; its queen, Ssithumi-an-Tohatep, is a close personal friend of several of the Solars. To the north, we have limited trade agreements and strong non-aggression pacts with Nexus and Lookshy, with optional mutual assistance riders.
Relovia "Several other neighboring countries have sworn similar pacts to us, and we are operating on a all-else-unset non-aggression basis with the court of Thorns. In terms of spiritual allies, the Hunt Goddess Grala was sworn to us, though with the loss of Cerin the Wolf her status is uncertain; there are also Shining of the Three Lights, now serving in the Radiant Sabres, and Rovak Hartrunner, a former minor ally of the Red Lily."
Relovia "Finally, Iallu the Ten Faceted lives here," she points to a location in the far North. "She is a goddess of secrets and has a close relationship with Birds-of-Trinity."
Imrama interjects, "Yes, I am familiar with the goddess Iallu."
Relovia looks at him quizzically. "Oh, you are?"
Imrama "I have gone with my father to visit her abode, in the past. I thank you for your gracious help, Relovia."
Imrama , having gained some of the insight he was searching for, takes his leave of the library.