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Varanim has been almost completely absent from the Cascade since the talk with Crow-Devours-Flame, visiting only briefly and at odd hours before going back out "to work." She's just leaving the library after one such visit, looking distracted and very tired.

Lucent And, as she comes to the Cascade's gates, surrounded by gardens, Lucent is there. Clad in the Infernal Armor, looking at her in what could only be called an expression of cold fury. She had seen him once, after the time with Crow, when she prepared to leave. Broken down, crying over the one field of Marigolds on the garden. She saw it out of a window. And others had seen that, his tears over the days.

Lucent Until he had no tears anymore.

Lucent "So you finally got back."

Varanim looks at Lucent briefly, then away. "Just visiting. My work doesn't need a live-in presence here right now."

Lucent "Ah, yes, the mysterious 'research' you never deign to explain."

Varanim "That, yes. For what I expect are obvious reasons, it involves spending some time in Netheos." She's frowning slightly as she speaks, leaning on her walking stick and looking at the flowerbed beside him.

Lucent "I would never have taken you for a coward, but I guess I was wrong." He walked to her. "You cannot leave us. You cannot break this. Whatever you think we are, we are a CIRCLE, Varanim!"

Varanim lifts her head to look at him directly, eyes hard. "We aren't anything. You are a bunch of warrior-aristocrats busy trying to rule the world in the name of saving it, and you specifically are turning to anger to avoid thinking the true things I've said to you. Which, by the way, is why I don't usually bother--you're neither mentally nor emotionally capable of listening."

Lucent looks at her, just as hard. The pools did not move at all. He was shaking, however, and some light appeared to be glowing on him, as if it was Essence he could barely countain. "We WERE more than you will ever admit. But to break the Circle for this... is that it? Your FINAL WORD? Are you really going to shatter the Circle out of your selfish stupidity?"

Varanim "Break?" Varanim's voice is thick with scorn. "I haven't broken a damn thing, I've just refused to participate in the general pretense. There is no dream, no unity of vision, no grand destiny ahead. You can't save them, or yourself, and if you weren't still a child after two thousand years you might be able to see that."

Varanim "Your deeds are meaningless, your rituals are vanity, and in the end one truth remains: the common element in all of your failures is you. Try meditating on that."

Lucent His face went blank. He stared at her almost... in disbelief. He was still shaking, although the essence glowing on him dissipated through the air, harmlessly. He was shocked. And somewhere within him, something snapped like a rubber band ,Primordials laughed and celebrated, three men with the same name fought and only one won as a shadow could do nothing. And to Varanim he just... stood there.

Varanim After a moment of horrid silence, the end of her words still hanging on the air, even Varanim looks a little aghast. "Lucent?" she says after a moment, her voice softer and more hesitant than he's ever heard outside of a few private moments in his room. "I didn't mean to--I'm sorry, I..."

Lucent closed his eyes, drawing a sharp intake of breath. "Oh, fuck it."

Varanim takes a half-step closer, then stops herself. "I was trying to avoid this. I'm sorry. I should--" She reaches out, as if to touch his shoulder.

Lucent "Why, yes." He moves to hold her wrist, faster than he had ever been before the training with Spring, pulling it down, hurting. "You always try to avoid it. Yo avoid your power, your responsability, your life. It has done you wonders so far, I see. Do you still wake up crying, trying to remember what having an arm felt like?"

Varanim clenches her jaw. "About one night out of five," she says, her voice shaking enough to ruin the casual delivery. "Let go of me."

Varanim Still retreating, Varanim pauses, hands clenched and body tensed as if bracing for a blow. ::What do you mean?::

Lucent His eyes open. "There was nothing between us. Nothing at all." He makes a wide gesture with his arm... and she feels him. His strength about her, lifting her from the ground, spinning her about! He spins around and so does she, in the air, hurled through it to the closed gates, that open just before she hits them... and falls on the street. "And it is time we settle this one thing."

Lucent walks up to Varanim as she lays on the street, picking a handful of rough silver coinage of Solaria and letting it fall over Varanim, over her face and her bosom. "Here. Now we are even."

Varanim throws up an arm to shield her face as Lucent flings her at the gates, Essence starting to gather to stop the blow and then dissipating when she hurtles through unharmed. She rolls to a stop in the street and half-rises when he reaches her, then freezes as the coins rain down.

Varanim She sits for a moment, something terrible and unreadable twisting in her eyes before she drops them to stare at the dust of the street. Then, slowly and carefully, Varanim pushes herself to her feet and gathers the coins without missing a one.

Varanim As she turns away from the Cascade, she drops the handful of silver in a beggar's bowl, laying a hand briefly on the man's head as if in blessing before she walks away without a backward look.

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