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Thirteen steps through the Gate.

Imrama follows immediately after him. His composure breaks completely, his eyes go wild and he makes as if to grab Thirteen by the collar, thinking better of it only at the last moment.

Imrama "You have chosen a dangerous game, Thirteen Blooming Flowers. I am affraid for what may come of it."

Lucent ::That was a good act. Thankfully I only had to half-act."

Thirteen "Yes."

Thirteen "If there were an easier way, rest assured I would have pursued it."

Lucent ::It was Zahara's choice, Imrama. And Lai will not see through her act.::

Thirteen ::But we must have Cerin and Markuran back, and have a time of piece before the eclipse, if we are to accomplish all that we must.::

Imrama still entirely unaccostomed to the use of the rings. "I less affraid for the Dreambreaker's immediate fate - I trust Selonis, whatever else may happen in the Isles. But I am sorely worried for what we may have lost in choosing this course."

Lucent "Also, next time my compassionate nature gets the better of me and I try so hard to be diplomatic with such abominations, someone please, please hit me. I feel dirty now." The sands of his anima appear, as if to wash his hands... "Nothing we can't get back, Imrama."

Thirteen "What do you think we have lost?"

Imrama calms somewhat, and looks down at his hands in uncertainty. "I...cannot be sure. But I left without understanding why Misuna was coming to us now, at this hour, to ask for a truce. Do you feel you know why this is. Thirteen." Imrama's voice has no hint of sarcasm - it is an honest question.

Lucent ::They believe we are broken and unbalanced and Zahara will give everything to them to have Cerin back.:: He grins. ::She is about to prove him right. We are about to lose our last seal.::

Thirteen ::Lai had two lieutenants which stood by his side during his broadcast to Creation -- Holbar and Shikaya. Holbar died at Gem; Shikaya during the battle of Crystal.::

Thirteen ::We are not the only ones to have lost dear friends in this war.::

Thirteen ::We are merely the only ones who may recover them.::

Imrama "I see. Thank you Thirteen Blooming Flowers, I appologize for my frustration, and as always appreciate your insight." Imrama turns and faces the sky, as though looking directly up to Heaven itself. He takes his pipe from his mouth, taps it out, and replaces it inside his jacket.

Thirteen "I am...sorry to surprise you, Imrama."

Thirteen "Our plans proceed apace, and we must take each opportunity as it comes."

Imrama turns and looks back at Thirteen with a wry smile. "You should not be sorry; it is your gift."

Birds is torn between being excited and upset. "You know, we had him there, in our paws and talons."

Thirteen "Do you think that Selonis would have allowed us to assault him?"

Birds "Certainly not. He is incorruptible, after all."

Birds "However, I do imagine a slightly altered situation where he might."

Imrama "And there was something else heavy upon him - that matter of permission."

Birds "Yes. Selonis is not a free agent."

Birds "This is one such situation - where no lions are available, or one must abruptly excuse himself."

Birds "But beside that point...Lai."

Birds "His name tastes like poison."

Thirteen "I am curious as to why Selonis was allowed to visit us when it became known that it was for the purposes of a parlay between us and Lai."

Thirteen "I, too, regret losing the opportunity to learn more of Lai's motives and desires."

Thirteen "I hope that Zahara might be convinced to share her insights."

Birds "The alternative is unthinkable."

Birds ponders the question of Selonis.

Birds "They are not idle behind those closed doors. That is all we can guess."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Thirteen "The Jade Pleasure Dome has been nothing but aggravation to us."

Imrama "The Dome is the source of soul-twisting addiction to which none are immune. We may count ourselves blessed if all it ever does is aggravate us."

Thirteen "Oh?"

Thirteen "That I had not heard."

Lucent "Addiction?"

Imrama guestures with an empty hand, as though tossing off the names of long dead kings or the weather report for a distant land. "The Games."

Thirteen "Tell me of the Games."

Imrama "I know relatively little, and in that sense I am lucky."

Birds "Mm?"

Imrama "The Games of Divinity were plaid by the Primordials, when they still ruled what is. In all of the total of everything, only the Games could hold their titanic attentions. They forged the gods so that they would never need be distracted by the work of maintaining reality."

Imrama "The Incarna grew jealous, wishing to experience that pleasure for themselves, and at the cost of time and violence, stole all that is, and the Games beside."

Imrama "I do not know what the Games entail, how they are played, the shape of the board, the rules of play. I know only that to play is to know a pleasure that turns all else to ash, and to watch is to know a hunger to play that can never be filled."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "That sounds problematic."

Lucent "A celestial drug?"

Imrama "If the Games of Divinity are to be called a drug, then all other drugs in Meru and Yu-Shan and all the other worlds are only the shadows cast when the Games are held against the Sun."

Thirteen "It would seem our forefathers have a history of irresponsibility."

Imrama "I do not believe that Heaven has ever been held by 'responsible' parties. The heart of Heaven is the Dome, in the heart of the Dome are the Games, and the nature of the Games is corruption."

Thirteen sighs. "I believe I might appreciate it if one hour passed without another problem coming to my attention."

Lucent "Then our course of action is simple. We must destroy the games."

Birds grumbles.

Thirteen "Birds?"

Birds "Add it to the list."

Lucent "You should be happy, 13. The reasons to go and fight the sun just keep piling on."

Imrama smiles and claps each of his Circlemates on the shoulder in turn. "I am growing to greatly appreciate your approach to problems."

Thirteen "Proactivity is our metier."

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