Cerin "Long Awaited Spring," comes the voice from behind him, approximately 10 seconds after Spring expects to be surprised. "Welcome to the Labyrinth Cascade."
Spring calmly straightens his legs, raising himself out of his horse stance, and nods over his shoulder. "Hello, Cerin. How have you been?"
Cerin "I have been well, on the whole. I would ask the same of you, but you have been reborn and so I am unsure of how relevent that question is."
Spring "If it helps, I am currently reasonably well."
Cerin "That is good to hear. Would you like to take tea with me? I am curious about what you have been doing in your travels, beyond your ... change."
Spring "I would be honored." Spring bows, and steps off the mat, smoothing out the folds of his hakama.
Spring "There are some subjects I would like to discuss with you as well."
Cerin walks with Spring for a few minutes to one of the smaller and more private gardens, where there is a tea service set up. Cerin pours tea first for Spring, and then for himself.
Spring sits cross-legged on the mat, and gives his attention to the tea for a few moments. With effort, he restrains himself from eating anything not designed for the purpose.
Cerin sits across from Spring on another mat, he too gives attention to the tea. "So, where is it that you went?"
Spring "To find the Sidereals, first, then to the Cathedral of Dead Stars, and then Wasirru, and finally to the Orrery of Darkness." Spring inhales the vapors of the tea thoughtfully as he says this, and the knowledge of the events of his journey insinuate themselves into Cerin's mind.
Cerin "I see," he says mildly, as he absorbs several weeks in a few moments. "You have not been idle."
Spring "I am not sure I know how to be. Perhaps my new self should have included that ability. I will make a note of it."
Cerin "It is an oft overlooked trait, to be sure."
Spring "Does any part of my travels particularly suggest a line of discussion to you?"
Cerin "Several, yes. I feel it would be very interesting to compare what you saw within the dead stars with my own visions from the Orrery of Light. Perhaps though, as more immediate line of discussion, the Five who are Fallen."
Cerin "What do you know of them?"
Spring "Unfortunately little more than you. Fierce Red Star's information was limited at best, and the Sidereals are rather explicitly incapable of tracking and subduing them."
Spring "They are Sidereals who retain their memories after rebirth, they are disconnected from the Incarnas who gave them power, and they have thrown in their lot with the annihilation of existence, which seems a rather self-defeating and yet popular option."
Cerin "I am not sure if they are completely disconnected from the Incarna. Saturn had a blackened gem on her staff when I saw it, along with 24 brilliants gems."
Spring "Ah. Yes, your visit to the Dome. I was wondering if you could describe more specifically the Essence patterns of the Unconquered Sun, especially those that appeared injured or damaged in some way."
Cerin "His hand was bandaged, and quite badly swollen, his arm turning black."
Cerin Cerin gestures and a large sphere of multi-coloured jade appears by his side. This he touches and a small hole opens. From this hole, he draws out a small sketchpad and a brush and ink. He then banishes the sphere. Turning his attention to the page, he swifly inks out a complex series of lines, depiciting his best reconstruction of the essence of the sun's arms. The corrupt one, and one of his uncorrupted ones for reference.
Spring "Thank you very much."
Spring "Please excuse my digression. Do you suspect, then, that they are to the Maidens as the Abyssals are to the Sun?"
Spring "Ember's vision revealed to us that the Sun still considers them his children -- another topic I wish to address with you and Zahara that will have to wait."
Cerin "I am not sure about that, but they are most definitely aware of them. And connected. I suspect were they not, the gem would be missing, not merely blacked. Unfortunately, I was not close enough to make a study of her staff."
Spring "That is, indeed, regrettable."
Spring eats the drawing.
Spring "It is possible that we may be able to find the Five by carefully examining the information the Sidereals cannot provide to us via prophecy. Beyond that, I have no specific plan as yet. I hoped you might be able to locate them. We may have to find Qian Mian in order to set the Orrery of Darkness aright, unless Zahara can repair it."
Cerin "Yes, I noted that he had taken an important component of the Orrery of Darkness, in anticipation of our journey to pluto. I don't suppose, by any chance, you noticed a desk whilst you were in the Nightshade?"
Spring "Not...specifically. We may return at any time, if you wish to search the area for yourself. I was in rather a hurry."
Cerin "If he left calmly enough to sabotage the Orrery, I imagine he took the desk with him, anyway." he dismisses that thought.
Spring "Does his penchant for office furniture suggest something to you?"
Cerin "I am not sure we can draw any conclusions from it. It is merely that the desk has been in evidence every time I have seen him, or visited places that he has conversed with people. It would have been an indication that he had an intention to return."
Spring "My impression was that the area is essentially disused at this time. Erevel's family were the Primordials most directly concerned with the stars, and their knowledge is, for one reason or another, no longer available to the Malfeans."
Cerin "Unfortunately for them, yes."
Cerin "What though, of your future plans?"
Spring eats a ladyfinger and wipes his mouth with a napkin. "I hope to continue serving the Deliberative as I have served the Sunlands, by directing and arranging their military forces in the event of conflict."
Spring "Our greatest enemy, though, is ignorance."
Spring "In the First Age, the Solar Exalts committed great excesses, and we were unaware of our follies and failures. In this time I have made similar grievous errors."
Spring "With the number of powerful Exalts rapidly increasing, the danger of hubris grows ever greater. I wish to ensure that this does not occur again. This is the first line of battle -- seeking to guarantee that a battle is not necessary."
Cerin raises an eyebrow. Someone who was once Thirteen Blooming Flowers, speaking of a need to avoid hubris
Spring "We must instruct them in history, in the mistakes of their elders. We must teach them the limits of their powers, and ensure that they are well-defended, that they cannot be taken advantage of by the forces that seek to control us."
Spring "We must make them aware of these forces, and of the struggle for survival that Creation finds itself constantly enmeshed in."
Spring "I seek to build an academy for just this purpose. When it is established, I would be honored to have you describe to our students the experience of being a servant of the Ebon Dragon. "
Cerin "I feel I am not the best person to speak of this," he says quietly. "It is remarkable how similar the experience was to being a Solar."
Spring "Perhaps that is exactly what they need to understand."
Cerin "I think that says more of who I was, than of the Infernal condition."
Spring "If it is a topic you would prefer not to address, I will not press you. But I urge you to remember that our goal is to ensure that the new Solars do not become the people we were."
Cerin "I will speak, then."
Spring "Thank you."
Spring sets his teacup down with a quiet click. "And, of course, I intend to save the universe. But that is hardly worth mentioning."
Cerin "Naturally," he agrees.