Zahara has cleared all the broken items from the room, and stands amidst the strongest flows of Essence in the manse, letting them run through her as she touches the cracked depression where her hearthstone had formed. "So," she mutters to herself, "I suppose the attack on the manse wasn't all bad."
Lucent There is light at the door. The room seems warmer. Like a breath of desert air accross the ocean and towards the Blessed Isle, warm but not dry. "Or maybe it is sturdier than you thought."
Zahara shields her eyes from the light with one hand, running her finger along the jagged edge with the other. "Lucent. What can I do for you?"
Zahara lifts her finger, and the crack is gone. She turns to face him.
Lucent strides the space between them, smiling. As if everything was right. "Now, that is my question. What can I do for you, Zahara? How can I make our Circle better?"
Zahara shrugs a little, and though her skin flickers in the glow of his light, and that of the essence of the room, her eyes are black and distant. "Unless you can reverse time, there is nothing."
Lucent "What of the future? We cannot change the past... but we can change the present. And change the future."
Zahara "What of it?"
Lucent places his hand over Zahara's. The coronal opens, going to the ceiling, forming the sky above them. A sky of equinox, of moon and sun shining. "It will be grand. We are together again. And we will get Cerin back. And Marku. And the others." His eyes look up at her, a boy talking of his dreams. Believing them. "There is nothing that can stop us if we are united."
Zahara shivers at the dreams in his eyes, wishing she could believe them. "I thought that once. Were we not all united? Once, did we not live together, work for the same goals? Maybe I did not do enough, ask what everyone needed to be happy. To stay. Nothing is true anymore."
Lucent looks at her... and then hugs her as tightly as he can. "It is not your fault."
Zahara "Isn't it?" she barely returns the gesture.
Lucent "You are Zahara Zahn and Talmuda. You could do nothing but your best."
Lucent "And I am sure Cerin understands it."
Zahara steps back and seeks out another crack in the foundation. "It was Cerin's choice."
Lucent "For you, I am sure. Because he trusts you. To go and get him back."
Zahara "He did not expect to come back, Lucent. It was in his voice."
Lucent "Was the enemy watching, when he said it in this tone?"
Zahara "Only Markuran." there is pain in her voice.
Lucent "There. And now you are free. The Eclipse. The one who can see through souls and bend all manner of essence in her fingertips. I am sure Cerin believes you can save him. As do I. As does he rest of the Circle. But you must believe in it yourself. It was Cerin's choice, and Markuran's fault. But you can fix it."
Zahara laughs softly, "Markuran, too, saved me."
Zahara "Just... not in the way I wanted."
Lucent "... how?"
Lucent looks in disbelief
Zahara shakes her head, and runs her hand along a fractured block of jade. She twists her wrist and it grates back into place, melding with its brother. "I don't want to talk about it." she twists a finger through her orichalcum-shot hair, pushing it back behind her ear.
Lucent allows silence to sink in for a moment, trying to figure out what to say...
Lucent "Those tatoos look beautiful."
Zahara smiles wryly. "Thank you." she looks down at her arm experimentally, to see if she can still feel the sesseljae, but their memory has been banished. If only it were so easy to shed the rest.
Lucent leans against the wall, watching her work... "Are you still angry at me?"
Zahara thinks about that for a long time. "I don't know that I was ever angry at you."
Lucent brighten "Really?"
Zahara "I was angry at myself. I shouldn't have yelled at you." she pauses to right a fallen block. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pushed you away."
Lucent "You did not. I went because I thought I had to. But you were right. And... your yelling. You showed you cared. When I was in the Underworld... it was one of the things I remembered. One of the things that kept me true. To know my friends care."
Zahara looks at Luc, holding his gaze for a time before speaking. "I prayed to him, on the last day. To keep Cerin safe. It didn't help."
Lucent Lucent's eyes shimmer... looking at Zahara, soothing. Promising that everything will be alright. "He is still alive. And safe. As long as he is alive... as long as he is whole... there is hope. As long as he is Cerin the Wolf, the enemy will not kill him, he is too great an asset for them. And that is their greatest mistake."
Zahara "He is not whole, though... He made a deal with Siram."
Lucent "Zahara, I have two Deathknights outside. Touched by the darkest void."
Lucent "I do not know them, and I am sure I will cleanse them of this touch."
Lucent "We can do no less for Cerin."
Zahara "I must call Ebon back..." she sighs. "So much to do. So much... The two outside, do they even want to be saved?"
Lucent "I still have to find out. But probably not. I will have to make them want to be saved."
Zahara "What if they still do not wish it? Will you force it on them?"
Lucent is taken aback, looking around the room... and thinking
Lucent When he speaks, it breaks a long silence. "No. I would not force another."
Zahara "You said you must make them want to be saved. Would you continue to ask, to show them your way, to berate them for their darkness, until they gave in, and saw the true way?"
Lucent "Yes, that is what I intend to do. But I will not berate them their darkness. I will show them how great it is in the light."
Zahara smiles slightly. "Then we are not so different, you and I." she runs her hand along some scrollwork, adding more names to the list in her head.
Lucent "I thought we were, when I first met you."
Lucent "You were so... distant and mighty. But then I realised how much you care."
Zahara laughs sharply. She wonders how he can only see the light in her words. "I should have never learned to care, Lucent. It brings only pain."
Lucent "The love you shared with Cerin was pain? The seed you planted with Thirteen was pain? Our embrace with Birds on the ship was pain?" He looks at her, trying to hold her gaze... "Sometimes, you only remember the bad moments. But when you think of the good ones... it is so much."
Zahara "It made me weak. I cannot be weak, Lucent. I see the way they look at me. I have too much to do to let love break me, but it has, Lucent. It has. Six days of agony, of helplessness. I barely slept, I did not eat. None of this was enough to break my spirit. ...
Zahara But Cerin saving me. Trading his soul for my life because of LOVE. Lucent, this pain is worse, a thousand times worse than anything they did to me. I would rather have died. I should have, it would have been better for everyone."
Lucent "Love does not make you weak. Love brings sorrow, and it did so."
Lucent walks closer to Zahara, and the lights fall from the sky... forming dangerous forms about her
Lucent "If an Yozi was between you and Cerin, what would you do?"
Lucent "If the Sun was between you and Cerin, what would you do?"
Zahara "I would wish to slay them, or die trying. But by doing so I would endanger everything else. I... cannot do that. One life versus thousands. How can I make the selfish choice?"
Lucent "You can, because you are in love. And you will suceed, because you are in love."
Lucent "This is something every Zenith learns, Zahara... your convictions, your emotions, can break the world. And there is no conviction, no emotion, stronger than Love."
Zahara "And if I fail? What of the fate of the Sunlands?"
Lucent "You will not. Because if you truly love... if you truly wish... you will do it. You are thinking too much, Zahara. Love is inconditional. Love hears no doubts. For the Love of my kin, I walked into the shadowlands. Forthe doomed love of a woman, I tried to throw a wrench in fate. And I am still here. You and Cerin will be, as long as love guides you."
Lucent Venus shines, stardust falling above them with a sweet melody...
Zahara "Cerin loved me. He accomplished his purpose."
Zahara "But at what cost?"
Lucent "His soul. That is why you will put it back where it belongs."
Zahara "I cannot hold him until I find the way."
Lucent "Then let us find a way?" He holds his hand out to her. "Let us go to the library. Let us ask the Gods. Let us find out."
Lucent "Forget the doubts."
Zahara "It must be a spell. Sorcery brought him to this end. It is only fitting that it will free him again."
Zahara rises, having finished mending the cracks in the room, and wraps her hands around the central spire. She closes her eyes, and feels the dragon-lines through her skin, feeling the flaws where they are no longer channeled correctly. She inhales, then, measuring her breath, exhales. The Cascade trembles. Slate chips and falls. The maze shivers and realigns.