Imrama sits in his wheelchair on a large terrace, high up the smooth face of the Cascade. On a table in front of him is a detailed map of the South from the Coast of the Inland Sea to the previous location of the Elemental Pole of Fire.
Imrama smokes his pipe while waiting for his friends to arrive. The subtle Essence-effect that holds back the wind around the terrace interacts beautifully with the lime-green smoke, which flows into a map of local Essence-patterns around Imrama's head.
Colapso And Green is the color of Lucent's large coat, with golden trims and buttoms. Below it he was clad in elaborate clothes of simple white. "Good afternoon!" He smiles, peering at the map, "What are you looking at there?"
Cerin is suddenly there upon the terrace, dressed rather casually for his usual ways, in a loose fitting shirt and trousers. The shirt is open a little, to reveal a marvelously crafted amulet in the shape of a swan and a wolf. "Good day, Imrama, Lucent."
Lucent "Good day, Wolf!"
Imrama "Good day to you both," Imrama says, his teeth gritted to hold his pipe in place. "This, Lucent, is a map I've drawn up of the South with annotation on the known disposition of its nations, vis a vis, our Circle and its agenda."
zahara slips out of Cerin's arms, straightens her dress and executes a small bow. "Indeed, a good day to you all."
Lucent "Hello, Empress." He smiles, "Your gift to Cerin is beautiful."
Imrama gives a slight start. "Hello, Empress. I did not see you there."
zahara grins. "Thank you." She waves airily "Ninja magic."
Lucent "Ah, the South. We have quite a vested interest on it. The Faerie are going to rebuild Gem, we need to talk to the Golden Ones in An-Teng, and I will depart at some point to settle the Kashaen Homelands again. And then there is the mess with Varang..." He stops, then peers, "What is this on Chiaroscuro?"
Imrama In response to Lucent, Imrama gives a meaningful look and a head nod in Cerin's direction.
zahara "The Faerie are what?" She sounds startled, if not entirely upset
Cerin "It was something I saw whilst I was falling," he says to Lucent. "A city of glass that could only have been Chiaroscuro which glowed from within, and seven times seven _things_ crawling into it"
Lucent "Well, it would take you too long to rebuild a city, and the Faerie can do it by snapping their fingers, so I compromised with them and... you know, asked Neshi to do it?" Lucent answers, contrite. "I, um... kept meaning to ask you to Oath them. But I was Adagio when we got out of there, so..."
zahara "in return for WHAT?"
Imrama turns back to Lucent. "That sounds like it will have complicated interactions with our current arrangement with the Alchemicals. Complicated, but not necessarily unhappy."
Lucent "The Servants of Atomnos seem to be very... orderly. I think they will be quite surprised upon meeting beings like the Faerie. And, well, the practical side," He shrugs, "Whoever controls Gem controls most of the economy of the south. If we did not take it, they would, and that would cement their power in an entire DIRECTION."
zahara "So they are rebuilding Gem, but not controlling it?" She rubs her forehead, "And what's this about Chiaroscuro?"
Imrama "Someone will need to make sure that the Fae do not cement that position either. Can I assume, Lucent, that you have volunteered for that responsibility?"
Cerin "It was something I saw as I fell, my love. I am not sure of anything beyond what I have said."
Lucent "Indeed. I know some... people, there. And if one of us controls it, we can ascertain the riches go to all Sunlands-aligned lands." He smiles at Imrama. "Of course, we would need some trading airships to get such riches to places like here..."
zahara "Hmm. We should investigate further before it tries to..." she waves her hand again "...eat us or something."
Imrama "Heartily agreed, Empress. Lucent, that sounds like a capital idea, then. I was also going to suggest that, as the Patriarch of a nomad nation from the deep South, you might be well positioned to begin drumming up support among the tribes of that area."
Lucent "We should set trade routes for both new Gem and our friends in An-Teng. We should use that as an excuse to investigate this problem, for sure... if we are in the city, nobody might mind some of us walking around and asking questions."
Lucent "The Tribes? Hmmm." Lucent's eyes light up like a caste mark! "That is a great idea, Imrama!"
zahara nods. "We shall go to the South soon then. And Lucent, I have not yet seen your homeland. Perhaps you could give us a tour?"
Lucent "To what is left of it, of course. I hope such tribes have not overrun it yet... I have tried not to think about this too much due to how... razed it was when I left." He sighs. "But there is much that is not. The Mirror Oasis. Tasha's Falls. Mount Shine. Nature itself is so beauty there... I would love to."
zahara "Perhaps we can begin to rebuild it, then... Maybe a Winter palace." She winks
Lucent "Would you help with that?" He asks, flattered.
zahara "Of course, Lucent. What are friends for, after all?"
Imrama continues, more to Cerin. "We visibly offended the emissary from Varangia, so I have planned a diplomatic mission there as soon as I am well enough. And I would like for both of us to conduct an interview with Jena Roderick of the White Flats Alliance as soon as possible."
Cerin "Hmm, yes, that should occur soon," he nods.
zahara looks back to Imrama, "Jena - the one that Varanim knew?"
Lucent "We should check something Ialu showed me first, however. It is deeper south, we can pass by my Homeland on the way back." Lucent says... then looks upon Varang. "I believe I will be able to make them overlook most of the procedures if you take me along, Imrama. Then you can work on starting on a better footing."
Imrama nods back to Cerin. "The political situation in the Lap, and in the Theocracy of the Empty Coast is in flux due to the collapse of the Scarlet Thrown. We should look into this."
Imrama smiles at Lucent. "I'll be glad to have someone to share the project with." Turning to Zahara, "Yes - Jena is the Lunar that Varanim revealed to have a connection with the First and Forsaken Lion."
zahara paces a bit, "We will need a process to bring her to justice in full view of the other nations, so that they do not think she has been wrongly ... dealt with."
Imrama "And, perhaps finally, I have been thinking about the problem of Paragon. A nation built on naked tyranny and magically-enforced autarchy does not match well with the over-all message of the Deliberative."
Lucent "Oh yes, I read about a Mortal getting access to the Staff in the history books. That is certainly a problem. How do you propose we deal with it, however? He might be a tyrant, but it will reflect badly on US if we go about breaking governments for no reason..."
Imrama "Quite right, Lucent. The Perfect does not consort with Death Lords, or cavort with Yozis. He falls well below the threshold for out-and-out enemy of Creation. He is simply a monster on a human scale."
Imrama "Therefore, a more subtle approach is called for, one which I believe your talents are uniquely suited to, Cerin."
Lucent "Hmmmm. And you have gone through laudable effort to make the new Deliberative a coalition of governments, and show that we respect their soreveignty. To betray our respect for that will be to undermine the Deliberative before it even finds its feet."
Cerin has the good grace to pass no comment about breaking governments. He wouldn't be caught doing such a thing. "Ah, the Perfect. I had forgotten about him,"
Cerin "What did you have in mind, Imrama?"
Imrama gives Cerin a conspiratorial grin. "The whole of Paragon's society is built on a single item of wonderous power. It is the glue that holds all of the myriad injustices together. I propose that if this item were to mysteriously disapear, the will to be free would do all the work of unmaking that system and its Perfect."
zahara chuckles. "Devious."
Cerin "That would be terrible, were it to mysteriously disappear."
Imrama bows from his wheelchair. "Thank you, Empress. I have been studying."
Imrama turns back to Cerin. "Oh no, I don't think you...oh, I see. Yes, terrible."
Cerin "I shall have to be sure it is appropriately mysterious then."
zahara grins. "Terrible indeed."
zahara "It would be intriguing if someone else were to steal the staff, wouldn't it."