Thirteen "Greetings, Tepet Ejava. Congratulations on your promotion."
alsoquin Thirteen and his compatriots stand before the Roseblack just one day into the New Year, but she has not wasted any time in furnishing the locale. Her topiary throne sits beneath a canopy of newly grown willows, and a carpet of greenish-blue grass leads up to the terrace upon which she sits, while streams of light from above play upon the iridescent flowers to each side. (...)
alsoquin Two Dragon-Bloods in full armor, wearing Tepet mons crossed with the icon of thorny branches, stand armed at her side, and four monks sit in meditative postures at the sides of the podium.
Imrama having done his research, comes carrying a silk scroll several times longer than he is tall. It trails gently on the ground, bearing a fanciful story interweaving imagery specific to House Tepet and Sextes Jylis, in the form reserved for coronation poetry during the Shogunate era.
Tepet Ejava "Greetings, Thirteen Blooming Flowers." She nods slowly, but her face is strangely alien -- its pale green tone and glowing eyes contrast with the fierce red hair.
Zahara studies Ejava's new essence pattern with curiosity, standing off to one side quietly. Her face is no longer hidden, and she has returned to wearing a long, ornate red dress with gold trim that picks up the patterns in her skin.
Phoenix gives Ejava the half-bow exchanged by kings of equal stature. and shifts a little in her red elk's saddle. It is very odd to be riding a beast that is unable to speak.
Thirteen "We have come to make polite conversation regarding the reconstitution of government in the Realm, and the establishment of the Deliberative of Exalts in what will, and must, be neutral territory."
Thirteen "In these pursuits I bow to those more skilled than I, which is everybody."
Tepet Ejava smiles faintly at one corner of her mouth.
Tepet Ejava looks about at the others standing before her, and takes note of Imrama's elaborate scroll. "I would be greatly pleased for that to happen."
Imrama On queue, Imrama steps forward slightly (without stepping in front of any of his companions). He makes a dramatic show of breaking decorum in a ritualized and decorous way, with a tilt of the head and a curl of the lip: "It seems I will no longer be able to prevail upon you for guidance through the inner workings of Solaria." Resuming formalized formality: "First, as concerned allies to this...
Imrama ...land and its people, we must ask - how fairs your Realm?"
Imrama ::If we are going to come to a diplomatic agreement with Ejava, we will need to come to an agreement with ourselves. Thirteen, Zahara, are you prepared to release her from her oaths to you to forge and alliance of equals? Are we prepared, as the current incarnation of the Deliberative, to welcome her as a full member?::
Tepet Ejava steps up from her throne and steps down to stand on a level with the Solars who have arrived to speak with her. "It fares well, Imrama Stormfound. Those who survive amongst the Dragon-Blooded houses have all flocked to my banner, and even now work to reconstruct that of the Blessed Isle which we hold, and fortify the border against the undead legions."
Zahara ::I'll think about it. ::
Thirteen hasn't changed out of the bloodstained and tattered martial robe in which he faced Surkha, by the way. His hat has a new feather, though.
Thirteen "I am reminded that I have been treating a casualty of our recent battle, who has expressed a desire to meet with you regarding the future of the Isle."
Thirteen "Her name is Mnemnon, I believe. Presumably she has not risen sufficiently in status to have a secondary name."
Phoenix dismounts. "You say 'those who survive'... I apologise for the morbid turn, but, who might those be? Among those whose names we might recognise."
Tepet Ejava raises an eyebrow.
Tepet Ejava "You may tell Mnemon I will gladly meet with her." She pauses for a moment. "In public."
Tepet Ejava Turning to Phoenix, she answers the question: "A few of the houses escaped with very little impact: V'neef, Peleps, Ledaal, Iselsi... Cathak still attempts to hold the lands to the South, but with the death of Cainan they will splinter soon."
Phoenix nods in thanks.
Phoenix "Incidentally, I like what you've done with the place."
Tepet Ejava smiles. "I have been... endeavoring to learn the extent of my new abilities."
Phoenix "That's always an immensely rewarding activity." Phoenix smiles.
Thirteen ::Can we establish a pressing need for Deliberative activity without ceding sovereignty for the moment?::
Zahara ::I would prefer to see how she rules on her own before ceding it. This might work. ::
Imrama "After centuries beneath a scarlet yoke, the people of the Realm know a burgeoning freedom. It is cause for great joy - from one end of the Blessed Isle to the other, across the Inland Sea to the Sunlands and beyond. In that joy and exuberance in an opportunity to forge a new era of peace, friendship and cooperation between two great nations. We come in the hopes of seizing upon this opportunity."
Imrama ::The Imperial City must be neutral territory under the collective responsibility of the Deliberative. What are our other objectives in this negotiation?::
Tepet Ejava nods. "I hope for peace and friendship as well. When I must take to the killing fields again, I could bear it only with you as allies and compatriots, not foes."
Phoenix ::Some discussion of the various residual threats to Creation may be in order.::
Phoenix "That's what we hoped to hear. We will have to hash out details presently...but that's the most important thing."
Imrama ::Once again, Thirteen and Zahara, what I view as sharing in collective responsibility, you seem to view as debasement, but we can discuss who to invite into the Deliberative in more detail later on.::
Phoenix "I might add that I hope we can be allies and confederates in peace as well as war."
Imrama "It is peace, after all, which best tries the bonds of friendship."
Tepet Ejava nods. "The Blessed Isle shall be in need of friends, in these times."
Phoenix "As will all free nations, which is why we have been hoping to begin the assembly of a New Deliberative."
Phoenix "The old seat has been toppled, so we will need a sort of a bivouac until the necessary civics projects can be completed. Have you any ideas on a sound location?"
Tepet Ejava walks over and plucks a particularly opalescent blue and red flower, which she sniffs lightly before responding. "Hmmm. I believe there might be such a place. I will endeavor to have it prepared immediately."
Zahara ::Fine. I shall go about releasing everyone and everything from every vow they have made to me. ::
Thirteen ::I am not sure that is necessary.::
Thirteen "Excellent. We will, of course, furnish the necessary expertise to construct the Grid terminus."
Zahara ::Perhaps I will retire to a cave somewhere.::
Tepet Ejava nods again.
Tepet Ejava "Are there other pressing matters which require our immediate attention?"
Phoenix ::I recently read about some very beautiful-sounding glass caverns in a particular Southern region near the shore, where the windblown sand has etched their surface to a soft glow. Apparently at sunset the whole place turns gold as though it were aflame.::
Zahara ::That sounds ideal. Peace and quiet.::
Thirteen "Aside from the appearance of an unknown being in the South, the ongoing undead invasion, the appearance of countless creatures and lands from before time itself, and the necessity of pursuing and subduing the endless hungry void at the heart of all things, nothing in particular."
Phoenix There is a hint of humor in Phoenix's mind-voice. ::Perhaps I should not neglect to mention the coastal sharkopards.::
Zahara ::Even better.:: She steps forward and holds out her hand to Ejava and speaks with a perfect facsimile of a smile. "I have a gift for you."
Tepet Ejava laughs, and the sound of it just slightly betrays a warmness not in line with her cold visage.
Tepet Ejava "Yes. There are many threats that face all those who dwell in this world now, and I do not believe any of us have the strength to conquer them alone."
Tepet Ejava turns to Zahara and holds her own hand out to match.
Zahara reaches out the last inch to touch the woman's hand, and after a pause, says evenly and without ceremony, "In the spirit of the aforementioned unbounded joy, I release you from your vows to myself and the Sunlands, if such is agreeable to you."
Tepet Ejava looks at Zahara for a moment, and then intones. "I, Tepet Ejava, sovereign of the Emerald Throne, humbly accept your gift, Zahara Zhan, Empress of the Sunlands. May our nations prosper in friendship and camaraderie."
Zahara "I am certain they will." She withdraws her hand and moves back to where she had been standing, clasping her hands now behind her back.
Phoenix gently kicks her elk, and it moves over to Zahara to nuzzle her shoulder.
Tepet Ejava bows to the Solar assemblage. "I thank you for your visit this day. I will send word immediately as soon as the Deliberative meeting space is ready."
Phoenix bows again, and then pauses. "Thank you as well. Before we leave, I have a gift as well." She produces a small bundle of scrolls. "Peruse at your leisure, should you find any."
Imrama bows his head and offers Ejava the topmost end of his poem-scroll.
Tepet Ejava bows once more. "Thank you each, once again."
Tepet Ejava Somewhere.
Tepet Ejava Elebete, the acting... acting Mouth of Peace, sits under a palm in silent meditation, while a variety of other monks perform various menial tasks in the field surrounding her.
Imrama The sky opens, and tiny droplets of light rain from the heavens, filling the courtyard with warm yellow brightness. Bit by bit, three figures are built out of the cascading motes, until their fully formed images arrive. They hang there, just for a moment, still statues of sunlight, before coalescing completely into material form.
Tepet Ejava Several monks drop their tools or pause, open-mouthed, at the spectacle, although Elebete continues meditating, seemingly unphazed.
Imrama "Three of the saviors of Creation have come to address the Mouth of Peace." Imrama's anima flares to its uppermost level, sunlit birds swirling around him, his eyes flashing with fire and determination, and a sash of light appearing around him, slung over his left shoulder. Old Realm runes engraved in it name him as a giver of laws sent by heaven to make right the mortal world.
Tepet Ejava A large number of the monks, thoughts of enlightenment currently far absent in their heads, flee hither and thither in shock at this remarkable entrance.
Elebete continues meditating for approximately twenty seconds longer, then opens her eyes. "What are the names of those who address me?" she says, in a fairly pleasant tone.
Zahara "I am Zahara Zhan."
Elebete rises from the lotus position. "What brings you to speak with me on this day?"
Imrama "The imperative for truth in religion."
Elebete raises an eyebrow. "Did you come to argue theology, then? I have acolytes whom I entrust that responsibility to."
Phoenix carefully composes her face in an impassive mask, but the occasional giggle or yelp relayed through the rings betrays her amusement and excitement.
Imrama "Any argument we might have engaged in has been begun and concluded by the events of Calibration. We have come only to establish the consequences of the preceding argument. At the moment, you speak for the Immaculate Order, and therefore, we speak with you."
Elebete "I do." She looks around briefly with mild disdain for her cowardly monks. "Please, then, speak."
Imrama "You, your Order, and all the rest of Creation besides, stand at a cross roads in history. The close of one Age, the beginning of another. It is a chance to abandon old prejudices in pursuit of new hopes. We have elected to make use of that chance, and are here to invite you to do so as well."
Elebete "I have heard from some within my order that the Anathema might come to treat with me on such a matter."
Imrama "I am a peaceful and a generous soul, Elebete. But I will not brook that name even once more from your mouth. I and my fellows have born it long enough without cause or justification - we will bear it no longer."
Elebete starts to brook another snarky objection, before briefly making a confused face as she realizes that her theological knowledge has failed her and she can see no flaw in the statement. "I... see. You shall be referred to... as...?"
Imrama "We are Solars, Exalted of the Sun. We are here to make the world better, and right now, your religion is the thing we are focused on helping to repair."
Elebete "But... what is there to repair? The Immaculate Order is based upon only the most perfected revelations of the five Elemental Dragons regarding the true nature of existence." She nods at the end of her statement, matter-of-factly.
Imrama "Certain revelations attributed to the Elemental Dragons have been recently contradicted by their actions. For instance, there aid proved instrumental when our company did battle with the former Empress Surkha and her co-conspirators, preventing them from selling out Creation to the Demon princes. The Elemental Dragons have been our allies for some time. We are on particularly good terms...
Imrama ...with Heshiesh, for example." Imrama raises a finger gently, as though instructing a wayward student.
Elebete blinks again. "....you are?" The statement is quite difficult, yet entirely necessary, to resolve with her belief structure, causing her to suddenly invest a great deal of effort in mental gymnastics.
Imrama "We are not the monsters that your dogma reports us to be. So we have come here today to tell you the truth, to set you free from the prison of a rigid and deceitful doctrine."
Zahara smiles brightly, and a tiny trickle of blood glistens at the corner of her mouth. "I think you'll find that you are referring to the pre-Calibration text. Of course, you now follow the Enlightened Tenets of the Faith Ecliptic. I understand that you are in need of a text to study, and so we have brought one with us."
Elebete seems... unsettled vaguely by the trickle of blood, but is oddly silent as she wordlessly takes the book from Zahara's hands.
Elebete After a moment, she finally collects herself enough to speak. "What of... our existing teachings?"
Phoenix smiles a little.
Imrama "Elebete, you hold in your hands the means to give back to the people what they have been missing for generations. To feed a starving multitude the finest sort of riches that the aerial table has to offer: the truth."
Imrama "You will find, I suspect, that many of your existing teachings remain worthy and of deep value. A few other of those trained by your order are already hard at work resolving the theological puzzles and paradoxes posed by the return of honest meaning to the world. If you will join them in their work, history will surely remember you for it."
Elebete "Which... others are these?"
Imrama "A small but dedicated contingent. Chief among them is Cathak Relovia."
Elebete Imrama sees a small vein protrude on Elebete's forehead, though she does not otherwise react. He would guess that Elebete and Relovia did not always see eye to eye.
Imrama "Relovia has recently attained to the long lost pinnacle of Elemental Exaltation." Turning aside, to Zahara. "I have noticed, Empress, that our Dragon Blooded allies lately seem to have a habit of doing just that."
Zahara "Indeed... Tepet Ejava for instance."
Elebete "I... I.............I see."
Elebete straightens her meditation robes.
Elebete "I will pull together a group of ten well-educated monks to begin studying these texts immediately."
Phoenix "Take care that you review them frequently."
Phoenix "It is, how to say, a living text."
Elebete nods fearfully.
Phoenix "Please take that as a helpful hint rather than an order. I only mean that the book may update itself without notification."
Phoenix is sure to appear wide-eyed and guileless.
Zahara casually imbues Elebete with the Leadership Reinforcing Method, her castemark shining upon her brow. "I think you'll find that few, if any, question these changes. Your path to the light will be smooth."
Elebete "I will be certain to do so." She looks at the book with an awry glance once more, but does not open it at all.
Imrama claps Elebete on the shoulder in a friendly gesture and lets all the fearful elements of his Essence-Presence fall away. "You have made the sort of choice that saves the world, Elebete. Be not afraid."
Phoenix "You know where to find us, I assume? Don't be a stranger."
Phoenix wonders if Imrama has planned an exit as delightful as their entrance.
Elebete After the frightening things that the strange woman said to her, Zahara and Imrama's statements soothe Elebete back to a much calmer state. "I will do so." She nods. "As it has always been, the Immaculate Order will be the guiding light and supportive shoulder for the Realm in these dark days."
Imrama "Then go forth, and do good works in the service of all that lives." With that, the Fable of the Reconstruction swoops down out of an empty sky, waiting to carry its guests further on. Its crew of immaterial Hundredfold wave to the monks and prelates who stare at it hanging low over the Palace Sublime.
Phoenix ::So you did.:: Without explaining further, Phoenix leaps aboard the craft.