Lucent One. Two. Three. Dressing in a white kimono Lucent danced about his assailants. Four. Five. Six. They were serious about it, as he asked them to be. But their best blows struck him as if he was made of steel, and his movements were like those of legend as the seventh and last one struck the ground. He did not hit a single one, merely threw them away, using the force of their blows.
Lucent walked away from the mass of fallen mortals he picked a towel, walking towards his teacher. "How did I do, Sifu?"
Spring "If you wish to be successful in defeating mortals, you have achieved as much as is necessary."
Spring "You accept your opponent's attacks. This is good. But you must embrace them. Your invulnerability makes this more challenging."
Spring "Next time, we must use something more dangerous. Dragon-Kings, perhaps."
Lucent "We ALL need to start somewhere." He protests, then considers the suggestion. "Hmmm, Dragon-Kings. That would be good!" He assents, "I need a rapport with them, for one of my plans in the South, this might be a good start."
Spring "Oh? What do you intend to accomplish in the South?" Spring spits up a carafe of water and offers it to Lucent.
Lucent looks at it oddly and declines. "Re-stablish the homeland of the Kashaen, and re-stablish Gem. Populate the South with us, strenghten it, and have a buffer to stop the Locusts. The Dragon-Priests of the South, the Anklok would be an invaluable help with such settling."
Lucent "And with Zahara offering herself to turn them into Oasis, plant-shapers would also be an immense help."
Spring drinks from the carafe himself. "An excellent plan of action. I commend you."
Spring "Lucent, I would like to speak with you about Varanim the Last."
Lucent "Oh, good." Lucent nods. "I would also like to speak to you about that."
Spring "Oh? Please begin, then."
Lucent "You are still able to impart another with the knowledge of ages with but a single word; I have seen Varanim's face when you met her, I know you used it on her at that moment. Or at least, that was a similar face than I have seen others make in the past." He looks into the... spiders.
Lucent "Why have you not done so, to me, with the knowledge of your journey into the Underworld with Varanim?"
Lucent "Are you hiding something?"
Spring "Lucent, the record of my travels is available in the library for any who wish to peruse it. You know that."
Lucent "They are not as detailed as your own recollections of it."
Lucent "When you broke out Innocence, Varanim appeared quite nervous about your exploits."
Spring "He tried to kill us, and Varanim appears surprisingly unused to these things."
Spring "If you had asked me, Lucent, I would have immediately given you the knowledge you sought."
Spring "I am disappointed that you chose to accuse instead of ask."
Lucent "I am doing so now, right?" He shrugs. "... sorry about that. I just thought that you might... oh, nevermind. Give me."
Spring "Might what?"
Lucent "You were in the Underworld, alone, fighting against all odds, and she was reluctant to talk about it." He shrugs, attempting to dismiss the topic, "... and you threw the drink in her face! You know. I got suspicious. But just give me the information and I can judge for myself?"
Spring 's mouth sets in a hard line for a few moments...and then it softens, and he sighs, and waves a hand. "Varanim and I faced and defeated Loss of Innocence," he says with a trace of weariness, sending Lucent the details.
Lucent loses his balance for a moment, almost falling against a tree... eyes widening. "... THAT is why she had the... little ones. I was wrong about that all along..." He blinks, trying to center as he goes through the memories... "... oh, you two did not get together. Good!"
Spring takes a drink from his carafe, but when he hears Lucent's final response, he chokes, spraying water all over the place (including towards Lucent).
Lucent looks at his dirty kimono. "... was that to cleanse me from addiction too?"
Spring "...no, although that is an idea."
Spring "Did you think that we had done so?"
Spring "In the Sun's name, why?"
Lucent "Varanim acted all awkward whenever it was mentioned! How was I supposed to know that Loss had dead miniature versions of her hanging around?" He shivers, then, thinking of it. "... look, it was a completely understandable fit of jealously, you can let go now."
Spring "Jealousy? For what purpose?"
Spring "Are you mad?"
Lucent "Th... there is no PURPOSE in jealously, Spring. It just hits you, and you need to shake it off!"
Spring "By imposing in on others?"
Spring "Have I taught you nothing?"
Lucent blinks "I was imposing on you?"
Spring stares, then waves a hand again. "Do you remember the last five minutes?" Spring helpfully sends him the memories of the interaction they are currently having.
Lucent "Yes?" His eyes strain as if hit by strobe lights. "I asked you if you were witholding information! That was not... forcing! Just honest curiosity, really, it was." He rubs his temples, "Well, maybe I could have been more non-confrontational about it."
Spring "Lucent, I understand if you distrust me. You may have reason to. But I have serious work to perform every moment of the day, and your confrontation draws me away from it."
Spring "But that is not my primary concern."
Spring "Do you trust Varanim?"
Lucent "Why, YES! No. Maybe."
Lucent "It is... complicated."
Spring "Please excuse my duplicity, Lucent, but that was a question to which the answer was obvious."
Spring "If you cannot find it within you to trust her, even after what you have been through, then your relationship is a danger to you."
Lucent "Of course it is! Varanim... she dresses like a plebian, acts like a plebian, as if she was constantly attempting to pretend she is a Mortal, and not an Exalt. She goes on to shirk any ties with her past selves, even when they are hounding her like hungry wolves, which is like attempting to keep the sun away with a straw hat."
Lucent "She dabbles in the dark arts, opens herself for the dangers of Dead Primordials, she makes light of her situation and our existence, she manages to have entire conversations without speaking a single clear fact, she manipulates and leads us on while keeping her aims and objectives a secret. She believes she knows better, when in fact she does not, and is just trying to avoid seeing the truth."
Lucent "She is also broken, cute, interesting, passionate, and filled with such a hidden care and innocence that it almost blinded me when I saw it. In short, she is everything that is wrong with Solars in the Second Age. Of course it will be a danger to us to get into this, but..."
Spring sighs, and sits down heavily.
Spring "Situations like this are exactly why I am socially inept."
Lucent laughs. "I do not blame you. I have been alive for centuries and am still feeling my way around blind."
Spring "Lucent, you cannot have a relationship based on your desire to change someone."
Lucent "But she needs to change, else... there is tragedy ahead of her."
Spring "As a recent aficionado of life-changing decisions, let me assure you that you must make them out of your own will and desire, not out of instruction."
Spring "Then your responsibility is to be there to help her when the tragedy comes. Not to take away her freedom, to safeguard her from harm. That is a thought process worthy of a Sidereal, not a Solar."
Lucent remembers Zahara's words. "To... trust her. To be there for her. That..."
Lucent sits down as well. "... you are right. I should just be at her side."
Spring places his hand lightly on Lucent's shoulder. "Believe me when I say I understand your desire. I have been driven more than once by the assurance that I knew better than others what they ought to be doing."
Lucent "Yes. That is what caused the greater rift of our group..." He bites his lip. "... you are right, Spring. I was acting like that. I was doing it all wrong with Varanim..." He looks up at the spiders. "I just hope there is still time to change it."
Spring "Make time."
Spring "You are a Prince of the Earth."
Lucent smiles, a smile of one ready to take on the world. "YES."
Lucent gets up. "You know, Spring, you have really changed. I think that, with you here... we can finally become a Circle. That we have never been." He puts his own hand on Spring's shoulder, in thanks. "With you here, I think there is hope."
Spring smiles back at him. "Thank you, Lucent. I am glad to be back."
Spring "Do you believe that we are not a Circle yet?"
Lucent "I believe we have never been since the fall of Markuran. Zahara was too suspicious... and although we walked towards the same goal, and saved the world, we did not do it as a Circle. If you remember the Eclipse, we triumphed almost in spite of each other, than because of each other."
Lucent "A Circle is... a family. It is not like being part of the Shadows Resplent or the Radiant Sabres or merely part of the Sunlands. They are the nucleus of those you can trust. And I believe that... we have never been that, not in the way the founders of the Sunlands were."
Lucent "But I believe we can be."
Spring frowns a bit. "I hope you are right," he says with a bit of sadness.
Spring "What must we do to bring our brothers and sisters together?"
Lucent "We need to... get together. To do more together than just saving the world. Maybe spend some time in the West, amidst the waves." He smiles, "All together. We must have an identity which we all hold to, which includes us all. A paint of us all together, pehaps. The books I have been discussing with Cerin and Imrama, as well..."
Lucent "I know you are worried with saving the world, Spring, but you, as an scholar of Essence, knows the power of the Exalted come from their emotions; if we are able to clear our own, and focus them towards helping each other, we will be able to accomplish more."
Lucent "Can you suggest any way to bring us all together?"
Spring "Believe me when I say that I am considering this topic very carefully."
Lucent "I have been attempting to connect with the people in the Circle, you, Imrama, Cerin... but more than that, we need to connect... well, everyone, with each other. To get them, more than anything, confortable with each other's presence."
Spring "Let me consider, and return to this topic at another time."
Lucent "Well, while you think: to enlighten the world about our exploits, and maybe to make us look inward at each other... I commissioned a series of books based on our exploits. Imrama will write them with flair, between faery tales and serious novels; Cerin will illustrate them; And... I would be honored if you were the one to edit them."
Spring pauses, then smiles. "Certainly. I would be most pleased to do so."