Spring wanders around the Cascade, eating things more or less at random.
zahara A servant, quite unhappy with his current duty, approaches Spring, standing a respectful distance a way and clears his throat.
zahara The servant bows deeply and then speaks. "Pardon me, would you mind terribly, not eating the decor? It will aggravate the Empress." He clears his throat again nervously and continues. "If you are hungry, the Empress has extended an invitation to dine with her."
Spring "Certainly. At once?"
zahara Looking a bit more at ease, the servant bows again. "The first course will be served in 17 minutes."
Spring "Please guide me there, then."
zahara "This way, please." He walks down the corridors, occasionally touching the glyphs on the walls to orient himself as they proceed through the manse. He opens the grand door to the dining hall and gestures respectfully for him to enter.
Spring nods politely and steps into the dining hall.
zahara is seated at the long, ornately carved dining table, slowly sipping a goblet of wine which she stares into without seeing between sips. She looks up as the door opens, and sets the wine down, rising to greet him. "Good evening, Long-Awaited Spring."
Spring "Greetings, Zahara. Thank you kindly for your invitation." Spring walks down the table, taking a seat two down from Zahara.
Spring "What are we having?"
zahara "I believe the main course will be braised frostwolf. I have a bottle of Icewine if you would like some in the meantime, however." A nod to a nearby servant who approaches Spring with said bottle.
Spring takes the bottle and places it halfway into his mouth before reconsidering. After a lot of tugging, he manages to retrieve the bottle, though he helpfully swallows the cork. He pours a glass in an embarrassed fashion.
zahara looks askance at him. "You have the strangest oral fixation."
Spring "I think of it as more of a convenience."
Spring "How have you been in the last few days? Is the rulership of the Sunlands proceeding nicely?"
zahara sips her wine and smiles crookedly. "Oh, fine. The Sunlands run as they always do, with efficiency. I am considering appointing a treasurer to keep track of the mundane finances."
Spring "That seems an excellent idea."
zahara A small train of servants come in bearing the first course, a chilled soup made of northern vegetables and a salad along the same theme. After they leave, she turns back to Spring, "Thank you... and how has your return to Solaria been?"
Spring "Quite pleasant, as I expected. It is good to see you all again. In some ways, much has changed, but in other ways, everything remains the same."
Spring "I am glad that Varanim the Last has come to call upon you."
zahara "Hmmm yes. Much has changed indeed. It is funny, isn't it, how invisible they are?" She trails off for a moment, lost in her thoughts again. Upon the change of subject she blinks and smiles. "Yes, she has been quite useful and rather fascinating."
Spring "I was afraid she would choose not to."
zahara looks sideways at him. "Oh? I did not realize you were acquainted before."
Spring "Now that she and Lucent are together, though, hopefully she will decide to remain."
Spring "We met in the Underworld, during my journey."
zahara smirks, "Together? Not quite, though the tension between them is certainly apparent."
zahara "And...what were YOU doing in the Underworld? Varanim, I am not surprised to hear about there, since she has a fascination with the dead."
Spring "Hm? They appear to my eyes to be...ah...currently entangled."
zahara "Well, Lucent certainly wishes to be..."
zahara sits back, thoughtfully. "You say there is more than just wishes there?"
Spring "I assure you that there is."
Spring "Is this not widely known?"
zahara raises a brow and then shakes her head wryly. "No, they apparently are not quite ready to admit they are together. I am not sure what it is they fear about telling us, though."
Spring "It was necessary for me to visit the Underworld briefly during my work reforming the Sidereals."
zahara picks at her salad a bit with her fork. "You...have reformed the Sidereals? How?"
Spring "It was merely a matter of locating the newly reborn Sidereals and bringing them to the Agate for education. Berwyn, their current leader, was more than willing to join the Deliberative, since he was aware both of the mess his predecessors had made and my necessity to their current functioning."
zahara "But aren't they," she gestures with her fork, "...babies?"
zahara stares at him, as if waiting for him to make sense.
Spring "Hence my necessity."
zahara continues to stare blankly at him.
Spring "I have imprinted them with all the knowledge necessary for the labor of a Sidereal and taught them a language to enable them to converse with the others."
Spring "While there are obviously functions they find difficult to accomplish on their own, the assistance of the few adult Sidereals should suffice."
zahara considers this. "That... makes sense I suppose. Will they be able to maintain the borders of Creation?"
Spring "This also helpfully ensures that their work will remain primarily advisory in nature."
Spring "I believe so. Much of the time I spent away was spent gathering various artifacts and miscellania they assured me would help them to do so despite their state."
zahara "Hmmm. Well, thank you."
Spring "Of course. I intend to present them at the next meeting of the Deliberative. I am glad thatthey meet with your approval."
zahara "I cannot quite decide if this makes them more or less dangerous, but they should certainly be much easier to catch if they prove to be opposed to us."
Spring "Berwyn mentioned something to me about the Triad of Prophecy. I believe this is a manipulation of Essence particular to the Sidereal, through which they examine the future. Unfortunately, I am not an Eclipse, and cannot learn to participate in this." Spring smiles slightly.
Spring "If we had someone who could do so, though, it would give us first-hand knowledge of the subjects they are investigating, which would allow us to know in advance whether they mean us harm."
zahara "Hmm, a fascinating thought. Perhaps I shall have to speak with Berwyn." She pauses. "...who is a baby."
Spring "Ah. No. Berwyn is not a baby, thankfully."
zahara looks relieved. "Ah, good."
Spring "I suspect he was, at one point, working for Herons. The device I used to visit him was hidden here in the Cascade."
zahara sighs. "Must get a new manse."
zahara pushes her food away and goes back to drinking the wine. "So. What was this device you found, and where was it?"
Spring turns away more or less politely and spits up a small metal bowl. "This was hidden in one of the practice rooms around the manse. When drunk from, it will transport you to the Agate."
Spring "I would be honored to take you to meet them as soon as is feasible."
zahara The servants return, clearing away the first course and presenting the main course, apportioning the braised frostwolf to each plate neatly and adding a little flourish of decoration around the edges. It smells delicious.
zahara "Perhaps... later tonight, when the stars are out."
Spring "All right." Spring digs in enthusiastically.