Imrama The Den of Silent Thunders is the finest Tea House in Solaria, and ranks easily among the top five of the South East. It's green marble and gold filigree exterior sits on a low hill on the outskirts of the market district, surrounded on three sides by a winding stream that eventually meanders to the Grey River.
Imrama It is a place of stature and renoun, but even its most jaded hosts are unprepared for the arrival of two of the Circle of the Sunlands at the Den's eighth and most auspicious gate. And yet, being veterans of the service industry, they clear the top floor, and prepare as best they can.
Imrama Loyal Master Fu, proprieter of the establishment, brings tea from his finest stock, and then disapears to allow his guests the privacy necessary for affairs of state.
Imrama raises his cup. "To your health and spiritual well-being, Hunter-of-Hunters. May they never falter."
Cerin raises his cup to Imrama. "To your health and spiritual well-being, Air Admiral. May they never falter."
Imrama drinks. "Thank you for joining me for tea. I have been trying to acquaint myself with the culinary and cultural offerings of this fine city."
Cerin takes a sip. "I must confess this is my first visit to this establishment and so I thank you for the invitation. The tea is very good here."
Imrama "I quite agree. But the invitation is truly the least I could do. In times past, if a hero were reclaimed from the Enemies of Creation, it would be an occasion fit for celebration and great gifts. A second birthday, of sorts. Or a third in the case of the Chosen, I suppose."
Cerin "I shall survive, I think, without a great party. It is enough to be next to Zahara once more." He says, though there is an odd stress on her name.
Imrama "The love you share is an inspiration to many. What is the world worth fighting for, if not love?" Imrama thinks whistfully of a time long ago when his shard wore a different name and body, and knew first hand about that of which he speaks.
Cerin "Only the world itself, according to some in our circle."
Imrama "Yes, I suppose. It is the familiar philosophical conundrum of the orange. Some will claim that they love the orange for simply being, while others will say they love it for its sweetness and the beauty of its flavor. If we all love oranges, I see no particular difference between the two positions."
Cerin "I suppose that depends on if it is felt those loving the sweetness would take the sweetness without the orange." he takes a sip of his tea. "But this, I feel, is perhaps a discussion for another day."
Imrama "True, but, if I may extend the metaphor altogether too far: We find ourselves now the effective custodians of this particular orange grove. I thought we might discuss our respective plans and aspirations as fellow gardeners."
Cerin grins at the stretched metaphor, before he takes another sip of the tea. "That could be an interesting discussion to have, yes. I have a few plans, or at least goals, in mind. I feel it might be time for me to settle down, as it were."
Imrama "To settle down, you say? Ominous news for whatever game may be left between here and Rathess. For my part, I will tell you what I have tried to make plain to the rest of the Circle since my arrival. I hope to resurrect the military and merchantile air fleets of the past. I believe it would be to the advantage of all, and it would also benefit loyalties of my own - the Sunlands and my father Vanileth, specifically.
Cerin "Ah, there are precious few things between here and Rathess to tax my skills on the hunt. That would require me to go rather further afield. It will be interesting to see what has returned to the spaces around the edge ... but that is a digression. It has occured to me that there is a great deal I do not know, that we do not know. And equally, that there is a need for a tool more subtle than the armies at our command in removing (...)
Cerin certain undesirable things from Creation. I intend to reform the Shadows Resplendent into that tool. That plan of yours though, sounds like an excellent one. We have but a few still functional examples of those great craft. It is a shame. Their complexity is fascinating to study. Though I think, perhaps, they will be old news to you perhaps someday you would like to see the renderings I have made?"
Imrama "You are right; we should aspire always to surpass our ancestors - they did not achieve their greatness by mimicking some previous era. Now, what renderings do you mean?" Imrama looks with interest over the steaming pot of tea.
Cerin "A series of sketches, of the the airship we have and of Crystal in flight. They include some of the details I have been able to elucidate of their functioning and mechanisms. Crystal especially makes great use of the Five Orientations, and the harmonies between them."
Imrama "I see; I am, indeed, very interested to see your work. I should also make a trip shortly to the Terminal Aerie. There may be documents there which would be...of use."
Cerin "The Terminal Aerie?"
Imrama "A Manse to which I am attuned. Once the Northmost outpost of the Armada Ascendant, the site of Askaru's last stand. A few days ago, still an island of reality in the Northern sea of whitest chaos, and now, presumably, rejoined to Creation once more."
Cerin nods "Of a certianty. Creation has spread to fill its boarders of old. When did Askaru fall?" He asks, though not to intently.
Imrama "Years after the Circle was broken. His attempt to found an enclave of peace and stability in the Great Northern Territory failed when the borders of reality partially collapsed. He and his officers died in the keep an end which, his journal suggests, he believed was part of a larger plan of Wei Dan's that he was never fully privy to."
Cerin "That does appear to be something of a feature of his plans." Cerin remarks with a small smile. "But ... hmmm ... that would probably place the Aerie within the outermost ring of the new extent of Creation."
Imrama "Yes. It was the forward command for the Northern Front during the War for the White Roses. If the boundaries have been restored exactly as they once were, the tower should stand barely a tenth of a league from the edge."
Cerin "I believe that they have. Certainly all of the territories on the extent were consumed during the first age, or soon after it's fall."
Imrama "Hmm. This means, of course, that my short-term hopes for expanding the political and religious influence of the Sunlands will have to be re-evaluated; there is now vastly more Creation to consider."
Cerin "There is. I can furnish the Circle with at least a basic map of the new territories, however, and some brief indications of the politics of the revealed lands, though my time alone with the Eclipse room was short."
Imrama gives Cerin a congratulatory smile. "One more way in which you managed to turn your time in the thrall of the Ebon Dragon to the advantage of your true allies. Most impressive."
Cerin "I collect knowledge to know things. The realignments of my soul have not changed that."
Imrama "And we should all be very glad that this is the case." Imrama finishes his tea, and counts out a few coins to cover the check.