Lucent In the Scavenger Lands, within the purview of the Sunlands, there was the Bar At The Top Of The World. A White Cloud-Whale hunted by a great Dragon-Blooded hunter long ago, tamed, and turned into entertainment. Or a especially capricious cloud that decided to root in place and let the Gods make it important! Or stranger tales besides. But it existed, frequented by the few and the divine!
Lucent And today, by Lucent Copper Haze and Imrama Stormfound, sitting in cotton-seats of cloudmist as a Zephyr waitress places a drink before the admiral, "And as your doctor, I hereby prescribe you alcohol."
Imrama gives Lucent a sly look. "I have never been one to disobey a doctor's orders," he remarks, and downs the glass entire.
Lucent "Pehaps not SO fast." He twists his glass of white wine before bringing it to his lips. "So, I seem to have found a problem within the Sunlands, and indeed much of the world: they are ignorant of our acts. The mightiest of our deeds, and they have gone unnoticed by the populace..."
Imrama signals for another round. "That IS a problem. The deeds of heroes need be recorded and retold - not for them, but for the world. I consider my own development to be strong evidence for this."
Lucent "Indeed!" Lucent takes another sip as the Zephyr waitresses move back and forth to get more for the Eclipse. "And heroes... heroes are forever. Rulers, even strong ones, they come and go... but what immortalizes them is becoming heroes. Or villains, as the case may be... something even our Empress would benefit from, in her own Empire. And for all of us, in it and beyond..."
Imrama sips gently at his new glass, and closes his eyes to savor the flavor before swallowing. "Our Circle has saved Creation numerous times. To have those stories sung would set a fine example to the human host, and help to bolster our already mighty reputation. The glory should not be reserved for us alone, of course; we have many times had help."(...)
Imrama "And something should be said for Saraj and his companions. They forged no empire, erected no monuments. It would be a travesty indeed if their tale went out of the world with them."
Lucent "Indeed. Great heroes who saved a direction, and yet, aside from rumors that spread through the West from the Lintha and Skullstone, most unknown. Rumors twisted by the other side, no less." Lucent nods. "It would have to be an account by one close enough to know the truth, and yet distant enough to take all equally, with a flair for the romantic and the heroic."
Imrama "Oh yes: a storyteller of skill and talent, with a love of the material and a loyalty to virtue." Imrama takes another drink. "I am already excited to read such works. Did you have anyone in mind to write them?"
Lucent beams. "Oh yes. This man is before me, right here, right now."
Imrama looks uncertain, darts his eyes about, and turns around in his seat. Then he turns back to Lucent and says, "Oh."
Imrama "Well, having received so high a compliment, how can I refuse?" Imrama smiles, and takes another drink.
Lucent "Phoenix and Imrama possess incredible linguistics abilities, but neither possess your... spirit! You have been the closest to us, and yet, you have come after many of our problems, and your insight may not be... tainted." He nods, and raises his glass on a toast. "So, you accept?"
Imrama "With both humility and exuberance." Imrama raises his glass to meet Lucent's toast.
Lucent A toast, the ching of the glasses touching, and Lucent brings it to his lips, "I already talked Cerin into drawing pictures for it... should probably use a language between faerie tales, and serious books. Not too baroque, not too childish, so it can be better remembered far and wide..."
Imrama "I can see it now:" Imrama gestures expansively. 'Five Days the Shook the World: The First Epic of the Third Age', 'Against the Lily', 'Pluto Restored', 'In Defense of All Waters'..." Imrama continues listing off prospective titles.
Lucent "Yes!" Lucent nods. "Those are great titles for the books!" He gestures. "But we should probably encapsulate our own tales into a single banner, a single title to encompass all of us, our epic, from the beggining to... now."
Imrama muses for a second. "Hmm. 'Suns Unconquered: The Tale of the Circle of the Sunlands'."
Lucent leans back on the clouds, and thinks. "Zahara will like this. And it is probably better than what I had in mind."
Imrama looks concerned. "Oh? I'm sorry, I got carried away there. Please, tell me what you had in mind."
Lucent "Well, remember when I used His name for us when we fought the Nightblossom? That exchange stayed with me... made me think of that, 'Sol Invictus.'" He says, the emblem of the sun turning into that of the Sunlands on his hand, "'A Chronicle of Solars Ascendant.'" The hand closes, he shrugs, "But it probably sounds too preachy!"
Imrama "Oh no, Lucent. I think you have the very thing right there." Imrama's wheels continue to turn.
Lucent "Perfect, then!" He smiles brighter than before! "Sol Invictus it is! Barmaid, I need more wine. It is clearly making me have decent ideas for a change!" He frowns, then considers, "You think there is anything that should be left out?"
Imrama "Well, I am uncertain of how I would even go about explaining the details of our trip to the ancient past. And there are some significant details that we may wish to leave out for reasons of privacy, such as Zahara's capture and imprisonment. And then, of course, there is the Rannath question."
Lucent "Hmmmm. It would be more dramatic if you stretched Rannath's role for longer, so his eventual betrayal and defeat become a more poignant point?" He suggests, then ponders, "I agree with being vague about Zahara. But I believe we can portray some excesses of both her and Thirteen's - they have since come to regret their actions, opening the possibilities of turning them into a morality play."
Lucent "Anyways." He coughs. "Sorry, I get too into things sometimes. There are other topics I wanted to discuss with you... oh, here." Lucent picks a map of the south, placing it on the table to their right, clear of the drinks. "You mentioned the southern tribes..."
Imrama looks at the map and nods. "Indeed I did. The Kashaen homeland has several neighbors that might make for potential allies. There are also a few peoples in the vicinity of former Gem to consider. Tamuz will, of course, have to be consulted at some point, to determine the extent of his claims in the region. And I also have an idea to do with the Jackal Tribes that we might discuss."
Lucent "I met Tamuz while fleeing the Kashaen Homelands. He is... different than I remember." He shakes his head. "What do you know about the Jackal Tribes? That name does not inspire me much confidence..."
Imrama "The Jackal Tribes are a disorganized collection of wandering pariahs. Their only unifying quality is that each clan suffers from some debilitating, contagious condition. It occurred to me, therefore, that if some gifted healer were to relieve them of their respective afflictions, they might be grateful indeed."
Lucent "I believe I can cleanse them all, yes." He nods, thoughtful. "I believe I can send a cure that will spread like sunlight at dawn. Clean those pure wretches... that IS what I am for. But what then, Imrama?" He touches the maps, "'Tribes'... they seem to have no civilization at all. Do we merely give them tools to create one?"
Lucent "Or do we create one there, and annex them to it?"
Imrama "As I say, they are a fractious and disorganized people. I am sure that a person with your gifts for leadership could forge them into a mighty nation, perhaps in union with the Kashaen, perhaps not, particularly if you cast yourself as their radiant savior."
Lucent "Hmmm. That would be perfect. If would create an empire here..." He gestures to the space around the Kashaen where only the savage tribes lie... all the way to the Locusts. "... we are effectively cutting the Locust Crusade from expanding further as its own thing. It will have to miscigenate or wirther."
Imrama "Building up the strength of the Southern hinterland would serve as a check against their uncontrolled expansion, yes. Was there anything else to do with the Southern map that you wished to discuss?"
Lucent "Not on the southern, but..." His finger slides west, past the map, and out of sunlight, he creates another. "... the West worries me. Especially after the loss of Saraj and his crew."
Imrama peers over the illumined map. "Mmhmm."
Lucent "I was reading contemporary history, and the Scarlet Empire has always stopped the Lintha and the Silver Prince. And when not, the Knights of the Chrysanthemum - if you read between the lines, you can tell when they act... when a great hero has no name, as if all just forgot, or when a certain hero is aided every step of the way by mysterious forces." He nods. "Both are gone. So is Saraj."
Lucent "With Deathknights now at his side, and the current Scarlet Empire cut from the West, the Silver Prince could take Wavecrest tomorrow, with minimum resistance."
Imrama "That is, indeed, a grave concern. In all likelihood, his greatest opposition would be the Lintha themselves, as they would hardly wish to see the Dark Water encircle all of the Western isles. Still, that would be cold comfort to the good people of Wavecrest, and the nations betwixt them and Skullstone."
Lucent nods. "Coral seems like a less than savory culture, and thus, I believe that the best hope for harmony in the West lies in us bolstering Wavecrest's might." Lucent nods, "Pehaps we could manipulate a Terrestrial House disgrunted with its new Empress to move its assets to it? Terrestrials are both powerful and numerous enough to deter many a threat."
Imrama "A possibility. But the people of Wavecrest are proud, and the Terrestrial Houses are accustomed to lordship. It would be, at best, a delicate game. Wavecrest is newly a member of the Deliberative, and therefore may call on us for protection, particularly from the enemies of Creation, Skullstone and the Lintha included. There may soon come a time when we will have to take the fight to them."
Lucent "Yes, of course. But without sufficient protection, they may simply prepare a strike against which there will be no defense. We need a buffer, even if one of Terrestrials, to keep Wavecrest alive long enough for us to come to its aid should it come to the worst." He nods, then thinks... "As for Skullstone and the Lintha, yes. We should see about sending spies to them. Or merely sending Cerin to spy on their plans."
Imrama "He is in high demand, our Cerin. We have many diplomats, several writers, a few doctors. But only one Wolf."
Lucent "Pehaps we should encourage him to train Swift Falcon, so we have two of them?"
Lucent "Well, a Wolf... and a Falcon, for earth and air?"
Imrama "If Cerin wishes for a protegee, and believe it could be of benefit to us all."
Lucent "Have you chosen one your own, Imrama?" He smiles, "One of the girls, pehaps?"
Lucent "Although Zahara and Varanim seem to have befriended both of those first..."
Imrama raises an eyebrow. "I assure you Lucent, I have only the purest of intentions in this, and in all other matters." Imrama calls out to the waitress in the High Holy Speech, "Bring Ice Wine and Fire Brandy, and two cups!" He turns back to Lucent, "I have something of a connection with Arathi - both of us are somewhat out of place in this Age."
Lucent "Ooh. Poor man..." Lucent looks at Imrama oddly as he uses High Holy Speech, remembering something. "... how is he? It must take a great mind to remain sane after spending millennia pinned to the Auric Temple in that way."
Imrama "I am not sure. But I have been greatly impressed with his strength and werewithall."
Lucent nods. "Hmmmm. But indeed, having a Dawn Caste at your side will make you an impressive pair. A general to the future air-legions of Creation!" The cups come, and Lucent waits for them to be filled, "Have you considered taming Aalorai?"
Imrama gives Lucent a funny look. "The Aalorai are a sentient species. I would very much like to have them for allies, but one tames pets, not equals."
Lucent laughs, contrite. "Of course, I mispoke! I am just used to the affectionate way Zahara treats Reaver, and since we all should know better than to mention CHILDREN near her..." He says in a conspiratorial tone, "But I think they would make a great boost to aerial legions before we have enough ships."
Imrama "I agree. I would also like to begin a broader-scale breeding program for the giant hawks of Metagalapa."
Lucent "Oh, I saw them on a historical footnote!" Lucent assents, "We can probably get Birdkin Lunars to aid you in this, and Wood Aspects with gift for breeding. Our talks with the Silver Pact may help there..."
Imrama "Yes. This is one of countless areas in which cooperation between previously disparate nations and factions would be to the benefit of all."
Lucent "So, we just need to get the Silver Pact, the Breeders of the Realm, the Riders of Megalapala and the Aalorai under a single banner and working as a single entity to further each other's goals, and listening to a Solar." He stops, then drowns the glass in one go. "... that is QUITE a task."
Imrama "One worthy of us, Lucent: the finest kind." Imrama pours a large glass of Ice Wine and a small glass of Fire Brandy, drops the smaller into the larger glass, and shoots all of the mixture back before it can fully combust.