Imrama In the diplomatic protocol of the First Age, there is an auspicious hour of the day for every manner of meeting between the representatives of two nations. Late morning is for neighboring allies, mid-afternoon is reserved for distant but mutually dependant trading partners, while the dawn is employed only for ceremonies formally binding two kingdoms into one.
Imrama And so it is in accordance with this ancient code that the Fable of the Reconstruction arrives in Great Forks, the City of Intoxication (both chemical and religious), not in the morning, or at noon, or even at sunset, but in the dead of night, on the cusp between one day and the next. Thunder rolls about the surrounding plains, and lightning cuts the sky.
Imrama And then, with the arrival of the glorious ship of light, the inhabitants of Great Forks imagine for a moment that the sun has risen 6 hours too early. Making no attempt at stealth or subtlety, the Fable and her captain come calling on the three who rule in Great Forks.
alsoquin A small group of city soldiers is rapidly mobilized to the scene, though they take no violent action against the arrivals. Several bear the Essence signs that mark them as God-Exalts. They stand, a little awkwardly, looking up at the newly-arrived sunboat.
Imrama descends from the prow of the Fable, walking on air and shedding nearly as much light from his own anima as from his ship. He holds his hands out low and far to both sides, in the posture of peaceful intentions used between gunslingers. Narrow beams of white, harmless light burst from his eyes as he speaks.
Imrama "I am Trierarch Imrama Stormfound of the Circle of the Sunlands. I have come to speak with the Trifecta of Great Forks. Where may I find them?"
Phoenix` stands behind him in the costume of a beast-tamer, wearing a white leather whip on her hip and carrying a growling lion hawk on her shoulder. She makes no attempt to speak.
alsoquin The soldiers shuffle about between themselves for a few moments, before one of them finally emerges as a potential source of assistance. "They currently... remain in the Five-Evening Palace, in the Northeast of the city."
Phoenix` "You may lead us there."
Phoenix` drops off the side of the ship and lands lightly on the ground.
alsoquin The soldiers seem somewhat uncertain, but nonetheless lead on through the city's streets, towards a relatively small but elegant palace of black sandstone and marble, its sides curving upward towards the sky in an elegant sweep.
Imrama follows Phoenix and the procession of guardsmen. As he walks through the streets of Great Forks, the clockwork birds of his anima flit from window to window and rooftop to rooftop, putting on a phosphorescent pageant for the citizenry.
Phoenix` makes some show of scoping out the premises before she nods her approval.
alsoquin Two of the God-Exalts open the elaborate silver gatework and gesture the Solars to enter.
Imrama thanks each of the officers by name, and enters.
Phoenix` gives them the Sunlands warriors' salute and follows Imrama.
alsoquin The chamber the Solars are guided to within is a rather open, circular room, white marble lining the cylindrical walls that rise up towards a glass roof that lets in the moonlight, and a great black marble stepped pool juts from the floor in the center. (...)
alsoquin Upon various daises set upon that pool sit the three ruling beings of Great Forks, who interrupt what sounds like a heated discussion as the Solars enter: Talespinner, the very image of an excessively alluring journeyman, fresh from his parent's home, an ever-shifting bag of purest gold hanging jauntily over his shoulder and a pale yellow glow suffusing his skin and welling within his eyes;
alsoquin Dreamweaver, whose features are unfixed, constatly sliding and shifting between a thousand faces, but so smoothly and elegantly that one can almost not see each change; and Dayshield, her marble skin chiseled into the harsh, set face of a warrior,
alsoquin her black hair spilling over her brilliant white armor and the lance and shield that match, each far too grand for a human to bear, yet somehow perfectly sized for her....
alsoquin Three elegant benches are the only other furniture that sit within the chamber's elegance.
Imrama walks carefully, quietly, and directly up into the air, until he matches the eye level of the three gods on their raised platforms. He begins to circle about them, clockwise, making eye contact with each one in turn as he speaks.
Imrama "Spinner of Glorious Tales. Weaver of Dreams of Victory. Shield of a Different Day. I am Imrama Stormfound, of the Circle of the Sunlands. I have come with a generous offer, in good faith and the spirit of reconciliation. Will you hear it?"
Phoenix` kneels on the floor slightly to the side and hoods the hawk.
alsoquin Talespinner sits back comfortably and looks at the other two. Dayshield starts to bark something out, but Dreamweaver interrupts her. "You are daring and yet crude to come thus to us, sunspeaker. Nonetheless. We shall listen, for a moment." Dayshield lifts her lance up and sets it across her lap.
Imrama "Allow me, then, to elucidate your predicament. Your nation's stock has fallen far in the past month. The gambit for world conquest in which you recently participated has failed, and failed utterly. Whatsmore, it has been revealed not only as a plot of tyranny and greed, but actually as a catspaw for one of Creation's greatest enemies."(...)
Phoenix` murmurs something to the effect of, 'Etiquette lessons at diplomatic meetings? I suppose it is necessary when one reinvents manners completely...'
Imrama "The back of your traitorous conspiracy broken, you are cut off from your former and false allies, and in no great favor with the neighbors you sought to oppress. An ill-chosen former co-conspirator, Akuna Ravdash builds a bloody and rapacious kingdom to your north, while the great power to your southern flank has recently showed its might by destroying your one-time commander."(...)
Imrama "Amid all this, a Deathlord has seized the mouth of the river-system on which you and all those around you depend for trade. With hungry eyes, he looks down the length of that river as if it were a shaft knocked to a bow, its arrowhead pointed at your collective heart. Your position, to summarize, is not good."
Phoenix` unhoods the hawk for effect.
alsoquin All three spirits start to talk at once, before Dreamweaver shoots the other two a quick look and raises her arms to quiet them. That done, she simply nods.
Imrama "But I, my company, and the reborn Deliberative for which we speak, now offer you salvation from this dire fate. Because we wish for peace, because we do not believe you or your people to beyond redemption, and because we can be of great benefit to one another. For these reasons, I have come."
alsoquin "What benefit can you be to us, exactly?" the constantly shifting form speaks. "We do have our own military forces and many allegiances yet, none of which hold us in subservience to another."
Phoenix` shakes off her mantle of deference. "If you'll permit me, dear brother," and without waiting, "The answer is simple. We have the Grid."
Imrama nods in deference to Phoenix. "Quite right, Phoenix of Ashes. And we do not come to offer you slavery and call it largess. Those days are over for Meru, and they are numbered for every other world besides."
alsoquin "In that case," Talespinner speaks up, to Dreamweaver's visible irritation, "what do we have to offer you?"
Phoenix` "The Deliberative seeks to hold as equals all the peoples and immanences of Creation. Toward this end, we hope to include them all in its...deliberations."
Imrama "And we are building a religion; one of truth and justice for both gods and mortals alike. You are famous and popular deities, and we would like to have you as allies in this effort, rather than opponents."
alsoquin Dayshield speaks up for the first time. "We have abandoned religion for more valuable temporal power." Talespinner clucks and swirls one toe in the water below. "You're so blunt sometimes!"
Imrama "You have been caretakers of this city and its people for generations; I have not come to ask that you surrender this calling. In the order we are now constructing, there will be worship for all gods in proportion to the righteous performance of their duties."
Imrama "You have the opportunity to get in, as they say in Nexus, 'on the ground floor'."
Imrama "I offer you better than you have now, better than you had it in the golden age. Creation hangs by a thread above a hundred gnashing mouths. We are the bulwark against its fall. Will you stand with us, or take your place in the pit below?"
Phoenix` helpfully notes, "This is intended to be taken as a reasonable projection of future events, mind you, not a threatening ultimatum."
Imrama changes his body language completely for a moment, transparently surprised and perhaps even abashed. He recomposes somewhat, although now with a friendlier mien. "Yes, of course. My intent is to describe the world as it is, not to menace or malign."
alsoquin Dayshield grunts. Talespinner speaks up again: "We will need quite intensive assurances in order to agree to anything."
Imrama "We intend to deal fairly with you, and I have the means," Imrama conjures a few motes to dance around his outstretched hand, "to make binding my promises. But I did not come here by storm, in the midst of the night, for anything tenuous or hesitant. I came to gather three powerful spirits into the only cause that can save us all."
alsoquin "Then we shall join you, and we," Dreamweaver says, "shall be exulted as is our due." Dayshield grunts again but is clearly overruled.
Imrama "Talespinner - you have stories precious and sacred to you, do you not? Dreamweaver, visions in the night which are your portion? Dayshield, practices of combat which honor you? These practices and rituals will pass into the East and out across Creation as if driven on wings of elemental air!"