zahara has called everyone together for what comes down to an elaborate dinner party, though she'd never put it that way. The music of rushing water adds a pleasant background to the tiny tea garden atop the Cascade. The formally worded invitation indicated that they would be meeting an old friend.
Cerin stands beside Zahara in a deep red suit.
zahara (though Varanim's invitation indicated nothing of the sort)
Imrama enters the tea garden. He is wearing a distinctive reinterpretation of his normal officer's uniform: the cut and patterning are the same, but the materials are completely different. The coat is made from white silk, while the buttons, epaulets and other accents are carved from red jade. "Good evening, Zahara."
Imrama "Greetings to you as well, Cerin." Imrama strikes up a conversational tone. "I confess, the invitation made me very curious. I don't, um, actually have a lot of old friends."
Cerin "Greetings, Imrama," he replies with a smile. "I, too, am more than a little curious."
zahara "Good evening, Imrama." She smiles. "Well, in this case you were not acquainted particularly long, I'm sorry to say. However, I imagine you will have plenty of time to get to know eachother this time around."
zahara A flash of concern crosses her face as she looks at Cerin briefly, but is quickly replaced by a smile. "It should be an interesting surprise."
Lucent walks in fashionably late as usual, dressed like a priest of the first age, that being, with far more gold than it would be practical, with little touches of other metals... but different, with new metals that represent the God-Exalted in the deliberative, and the image of Red Lilies on his boots. "Hello, hello."
zahara "Have a seat, Lucent. " She gestures to the table, set with fine (new) china, and crystal goblets. A fruit bowl balances precariously in the center, having no solid base. Servants stand by, ready to pour wine, water or spirits. She waits while the others settle themselves in before speaking.
zahara "This Circle has changed so much since I first built the Sunlands. Some have joined, some left to pursue their own interests, and some have died. But we are Solars; we continue even though we are not the same. Perhaps some of our shards, find redemption through death - a new chance." Her voice is quiet and thoughtful. "She does not particularly thrive on ceremony, so I will simply ask her to come join us." She turns and raises
zahara turns and raises her voice, "Nesula, will you join us please?"
Nesula After a long moment, Nesula walks out uncertainly from around a corner. With her long purplish-black hair pulled back behind her head and an elegant gold-red dress, she looks somewhat uncomfortable as she steps forward slowly to the table; the only parts of her appearance that seem comfortable are her necklace of island shells... and the glittering sun symbol on the cocoa skin of her forehead.
Nesula She looks over the group for a second and waves awkwardly. "Hello."
Cerin "Greetings, Nesula."
Imrama bows deeply. "Hello."
Nesula swallows deeply and looks... scared, as she nods to Cerin. "...hi."
Cerin ::My love, she seems rather nervous::
zahara signals to the servants to bring out the food, in order to soften the moment and take the some of the attention off the clearly uncomfortable woman. The food is Western-style, focused on exotic seafood along with more popularly eaten dishes.
Lucent "Hello, Nesula." Lucent bows. "It is a pleasure to meet another chosen to represent the Sun's faith."
zahara ::It took quite some convincing to get her to come at all, my heart. For she has rather unpleasant memories of her past incarnations. ::
Nesula seats herself with a slight lack of grace, and nods to Lucent, clearly more comfortable with the man of whom she holds no terrible memories. "I feel much the same."
Cerin ::Perhaps if you woudl expand on that:: He asks, as he samples a seafood dish.
zahara ::I will, shortly:: She sips a crisp white wine, and a forkful of flaky baked fish.
Lucent "Are you going to be joining us, or this simply a social visit?"
Varanim shows in her usual attire: shirt with a few faint stains, pants with muddy knees, bandages on the left arm, faint odor of cheap wine, twirling a stick in her fingers at speeds hazardous to local crockery. She examines the elegant group for a brief second, then says, "Oops, wrong party," and turns on her heel.
zahara "Varanim." She gestures to a servant, "I have some cheap booze just for you."
Varanim pauses, expression nakedly suspicious, then slouches to a seat near the indicated servant. She freezes halfway into her seat and says to Zahara, "Is this about decorating or protocol or something?"
zahara "Not to worry." She waves the question off. "Just dinner. This is Nesula." She indicates properly.
Nesula waves. Looking at Lucent, she says "....joining?"
Varanim grunts in a vaguely greeting way at Nesula as she finishes sitting.
Imrama addresses Nesula in a convivial manner. "Then I suppose the rest of us will have to drink her share of the finer stuff." Imrama flashes a winning smile. "I'm Imrama, Nesula. It is good to meet you."
zahara "I have suggested that she join with the new Circle of young Solars."
Nesula nods. "You as well." She starts to crack her knuckles unconsciously, before catching herself and pausing.
Cerin frowns, just slightly, at the cracking of knuckles.
Nesula blanches at Cerin's merest hint of a frown.
Varanim looks moderately curious and cracks her own, which makes a weird metallic skritchy sound on one side.
Nesula "So... I guess... you all have a lot of important things that you do around here."
zahara "We're considering quite a few courses of action, in fact."
Varanim "Goodness, yes. Me, I collect hangovers."
zahara bites off a laugh.
Nesula looks around for a moment, and then looks at Zahara. "I've... been a little busy myself, actually." She looks nervous, but as she speaks a familiar fire seems to fill out her frame and her words.
Lucent "Indeed. Hopefully, courses that make more sense and are less embarassing than a place made of dreams and intentions." Lucent shrugs, "And what do you occupy yourself with, Nesula?"
Varanim Varanim, who if asked would claim control of her thoughts as one of her few virtues, smirks fondly at the memory of Tesearah.
Nesula "Well," she says. "The Sunlands are supposed to represent the true glory of the Sun and his chosen champions, right? But from what you've told me, there aren't that many around. So we would want as many of those who are left to support that cause, right?"
Nesula "So... I've taken it upon myself to get in touch with some of those who are left." She sits up, her voice louder and her shoulders held back, confident as long as she keeps her gaze averted from Cerin's seat.
zahara "Excellent. And have they responded well?"
Cerin is listening intently to Nesula as he proceeds to almost surgically consume a lobster cooked in a melange of spices.
Varanim gets impatient with squinting at the subtext. She says to Nesula, "Why are you looking at Cerin like he offed your entire family?"
Nesula is startled and accidentally squeezes a cup hard enough to shatter it -- her hand is unharmed, but wine spills out onto the tablecloth in a deep red stain.
zahara glares at Varanim
Varanim shrugs at Zahara, pulling her half-crumpled invitation from her pocket and holding it up with lifted eyebrows.
Varanim "You invited me, which means you're either an idiot--which I am not positing--or you thought it was important for me to be here. In which case you can tell me what the hell is going on, since the rest of you obviously already know."
Cerin "Because I killed her, Varanim. When she was Markuran the Bear," he explains as certain things finally click. "But that was another life. You need not fear me on that score, Nesula."
Nesula is relieved not to have to anser.
Varanim "There. Was that so awkward?" Varanim thinks a moment. "Well, maybe it was."
zahara ::Ah, I knew you would guess. smile So, what do you think of her so far? ::
zahara watches the reactions of the others
Cerin :: She is very ... timid. ::
zahara ::She'll warm up, once she is finally convinced you're not planning to kill her again. She's already called me a jerk.:: her mindvoice sounds amused.
Cerin :: She is still alive, isn't she? ::
Nesula "All of... that aside," she says, a little irritated at having broken her wine glass.
zahara :: Indeed. However, you may just be keeping her alive to taunt her, you know. ::
Lucent "A good way to deal with that is making sure nothing can kill you." Lucent nods.
zahara "Yes, what were you saying about gathering more Solars together?"
Nesula "Well: since I started looking into it, I've gotten in touch with three, and heard about more besides." She grins and leans back in her chair.
zahara "Did you give them an inspiring speech and convince them to join us?"
Nesula "Well... I punched the first one." Her expression is definitely more proud than sheepish.
zahara "Did it help?"
Nesula "Not at first. I had to keep hitting him."
Imrama laughs. "Have you spoken with Arathi, then?"
Nesula "Yes," she says. "I talked with Arathi and with Swift Falcon before I went off to talk to the other Solars I'd found out about."
Imrama "I see. If Swift Falcon is the inheritor of Saraya's shard, then - who else have you spoken with, and who else have you heard about?"
Nesula "The first is an Eclipse by the name of Nine Dark Thunders." She pauses for a moment of consideration. "He is the one I had to hit."
zahara "Ah, well, you know Eclipses."
Nesula laughs, too loudly.
Nesula "I don't know that it was a very productive conversation in the end, but I did what I could."
zahara "Perhaps he'll come around."
zahara "Who else did you speak with?"
Nesula "Maybe!" Nesula reaches out and takes a crab leg, which she cracks much in the same manner as her knuckles. "After that, the next person I spoke with went a lot better, but... I guess she could tell you herself."
zahara raises a brow expectantly
Nesula sticks her fingers in her mouth and whistles, a little crudely.
Nesula It takes a few minutes for her to come up from wherever she's been waiting, but eventually, a woman -- quite different from Nesula -- walks in to the dining hall. (...)
Nesula Thin, and not tremendously tall, her brown hair knotted up into an elaborate but elegant shape, a thin spiderweb of umber tattoo lines in occultic essence patterns outlining her Twilight castemark and covering both hands, her green, blue and black silks layered thickly and held together with strings of fine golden rope -- (...)
Nesula Verbena the Twilight steps into the room, nods gently to the gathered crowd, and offers a brief "Hi."
Varanim gives her a grunt and nod indistinguishable from the one she gave Nesula earlier, as she broods over her cup.
zahara "Welcome." She smiles. "I am Zahara Zhan, the Dreambreaker. And you are?"
Verbena "Verbena," she says. "I've heard of you."
Verbena She speaks brightly and cheerfully, though not in a way that one can be absolutely certain is devoid of irony.
zahara "I suppose that is not surprising."
Varanim "What's your thing?" Varanim says, tapping her forehead to indicate the caste mark--she wants to know Verbena's specialty.
Verbena pulls herself up straight, as if preparing to give a lecture. "I focus primarily on the geospatial occultic arts, with a primary emphasis on the cosmo-geomantic arrangements of planar space, and a minor focus on microessentialism and pan-motonic expansion theory." (...)
Verbena She pauses for a moment. "I also run a select training program in motonic gastronomy, El Adashi-style ink painting, and Swiftly Burning Mayfly-style Martial Arts."
Varanim "You're hot for ley lines and demesnes, and you dabble in aristo manners. Don't be obnoxious; that's my job."
Verbena looks taken aback. "I am not obnoxious," she says.
Varanim "Great, then we have nothing to fight over. So why are you doing it?"
zahara watches the exchange with a carefully neutral face
Verbena seems at a loss for words, at least for a moment, then reflexively straightens her posture and fixes her outfit. "I must have thought you would have an incisive critique to follow the part where you just rephrase what I said in shorter words," is her reply -- but being rather less dour by trade than Varanim, the corner of her mouth turns up in a bit of a smile as she says it.
Varanim "Oh," Varanim says, mumbling slightly through a mouthful of crab. "I meant, why are you doing the Solar gig? I don't have any incisive critiques of geomancy handy, although if you give me and Kivet a few days I bet we could work one up."
Varanim "Say," she adds as a thought strikes her, "have you done anything with intraplanar nonlinear spatial mappings? There's this thing with the Labyrinth I'm trying to figure out."
Verbena "There's not much to do in Transaquis once you've been through every library and reattuned every manse for maximum theoretical output." She thinks for a moment about Varanim's question. "Are you talking endogeneous or exogeneous mappings?"
zahara has been somewhat distracted since the mention of motonic gastronomy - clearly the most important thing on the list what with Phoenix's lack of cooking. "Where is Transaquis?"
Varanim looks at Verbena with mild surprise and increasing interest. "A little from column A, a little from column B, probably. Best history suggests the mappings result from an external perturbation, but the system's had a long time to re-equilibrate."
Verbena "Oh, in the northeast somewhere. You wouldn't have heard of it." She ponders for a moment, and then pulls out a tiny golden stick from somewhere within her folds of silks and begins drawing mathematical diagrams on the air.
Varanim Slouching back comfortably in her seat, Varanim's eyes flicker along the diagrams.
zahara toys with the gold dragon ring on her finger as she controlls her annoyance at the dismissive answer. She narrows her eyes slightly at the diagrams, following them through the various permutations
Verbena After a few moments, Verbena stops, underlines a few key points in her diagram, and steps back. "I haven't delved into underworld cosmological cartography specifically, but does either of these models approximate the general systematic pressures in play here?"
Varanim squints and says, "Leftish one looks reasonable. My primary source's records are a little untrustworthy on account of him being batshit crazy, but I'll be making some more probes soon. Those three spots," she rises to jab at a few points in the air, "should be enough for falsification of one or both models."
Verbena nods. "Good. I'll want to see the results, of course."
Varanim Looking momentarily taken aback, Varanim then shrugs and pops her shrimp-pointer into her mouth. "If you can read my writing, you're welcome to them." She might be a tiny bit pleased, but it's hard to tell as she re-lounges and takes a drink.