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Lucent There was holding, and there was crying, and Lucent poked Zahara on the crystal-laden Caste mark over her forehead. And then, he went back to the job... taking the sands away, revealing the corpses of his friends, two thousand years gone. "I wish I could do more for them."

zahara "A proper burial, a memorial... perhaps you can find their ghosts if they have not passed on to Lethe."

Lucent "I can burn them all, like this. I feel like touching them all, so I will be able to send them on... and Varanim can attempt to call their ghosts if any of them can resist the burning of their bodies." He nods. "Could you make the memorial? Take the sands, the bones, a few of the pieces... what else? Or bring your own material?"

zahara "What sort of memorial would you prefer? An obelisk? A mural? A tapestry that you can take with you?

Lucent "I still want the tapestry. That is for me." He touches his chest. "Here, I want an obelisk for them. Etched with their story." He nods, looking down on the broken body and wings of a dead Bird-of-Paradise Lunar.

zahara nods and begins to gather up the sand contemplatively, directing the Bonds to clear a circular area, piling it into the center where she stands, forming it higher and higher, walking on the air as she is no longer able to reach. The obelisk of sand reaches towards the sky, casting a long, solemn shadow.

zahara "Do you wish it to hold the stories that were in your tapestry?"

Lucent gives a solemn nod "Yes. And more."

Lucent puts his hand on Zahara's back as she begins her work, and she feels herself... not only more part of his world than she was of the surroudings, but a kin to fire. She felt it burning on her heart, on her third eye. And then, he begun the ceremony. Speaking of them, speaking of their lives, and on his open palms, he gathered sands in two whirlwinds... in which the sand, colored, told their story.

Lucent He told their story, and as he did so he shone bright as the sun... washing around them all. Burning all their bodies, their forming vanishing towards the sky... all of them, gazing at Zahara for a moment as if alive. All of them. And the sand turning to glass, and the Obelisk's sand turning into the most beautiful crystal.

zahara steps back, shaking off the slightly unnerving feeling of each of the dead people staring at her - though she assumes they were doing so in a thankful manner it still is rather odd. She looks up at the crystal obelisk and smiles. "I think it turned out rather well, don't you?"

Lucent looks up... and up... and up. "How can you make something to high, so fast?"

zahara tilts her head to one side and smiles. "Magic."

Lucent grins "Well played," he remarks as he walks to the obelisk, touching it, how masterfully the story was carved into it in words and symbols. "A paint of this and some of the items should go to a museum in Solaria. The rest stays with me."

zahara "I'm sure Cerin would be happy to oblige. He does not get enough chances to use the skills of art that are not artful slaughter." She twists the dragon ring on her finger, staring off into the distance as she recalls what he'd told her about being infernal.

Lucent "A pity, considering he is one of the most skilled painters I have ever known. And I have known a few... ah, Amethyst Brilliance." He touched his heart as if remembering something quite... touching. "I got him paints in the Lapis Court, from the painter of THOSE ones... do not tell him, though, I want it to be a surprise!"

zahara "Oh?" She focuses back on him. "That was thoughtful of you. I think he will appreciate it quite a bit."

Lucent "I was hoping to gift him when we became friends... but our earlier talk showed me that is pointless. We probably are, already, and I am too, what is the word? Ah, whatever. To realise it." He smiles, touching the pieces. "But hopefully, he will. They are a chrysanthemum, even! He likes flowers, right?"

zahara "He does. They have a wealth of meaning. Such simple things yet they can influence the world around us. And beautiful."

Lucent "They do. I should look at those of marigolds." He looks in the ship's direction. "They are her favorite's."

zahara "Her?"

Lucent closes his eyes, without realising the remaining sands and flames are making her shape.

Lucent "Varanim."

zahara nods, "Ah, I suspected. How are you two doing?"

Lucent "I am not sure. She stood me up, the other day." He sighs, forlorn. "And I think it is just that, to her. Just... you know. I am trying to keep it the same, at arm's length... do not want to end up humilliating her or placing her on a bad situation with us otherwise. But still..."

zahara sits with her back against the obelisk, in the shade. "Mmmm. Someday you two will need to be honest with eachother about what you want."

Lucent Varanim, made of sand swirls closer to him, and he hugs it, dispelling the swirling statue. "I want her. All of her. I want her to look upon me and SAY..." He stops, then, smiling at Zahara. "... you know, it is almost funny. Loss thought you were so alike, and yet I can only see you as... an older sister. Or younger. It depends on the moment, really."

zahara "Loss? I didn't even know her."

Lucent "She knew of you, though. I... asked Spring about it. He gave me the details. Apparently, Loss was... impressed by how you and Varanim were broken. So he had..." Lucent puts a hand over his face, trying to calm himself, "... little girls, that look like you two, and he made go through the same ordeals. He could chill their compassion, rip limbs and give soulsteel ones... I can only imagine what of their families."

Lucent "Apparently, all of them snapped and did not piece themselves back like you two did."

Lucent "As they were all dead when Thirteen and Varanim got to them, with him tossing the last corpse out."

zahara stares at Lucent for a long time. "Well." She finally speaks. "I am not sure whether to be flattered or to be angry."

Lucent looks at her... unable to conjure an answer save for: "Oh, and she was a he."

zahara "And she... remembers nothing of this." Her voice grows cold. "That is most disappointing."

Lucent "Interesting how it happenned. He was looking for the perfect way to break girls... and he himself turned into an innocent girl? There seems to be some method to this madness, but I have no idea what..." He stops, then looks at Zahara, certainly regretting his next words, "What would you do if it was still him?"

zahara looks at him, and her blue eyes glitter. "Show him what he was doing wrong."

zahara pushes open the door to Lucent's room and steps inside, her dark gaze sweeping through the room. "You. Out." Her voice cuts through the air, startling the naked servant girl Lucent is... engaged with. "And be quick about it."

Lucent The servant girls, dark skins or green hair in all(except for one that was lithe, fair-skinned and dark-haired) look at the Empress' words as if a God had come down and told them that they would all die for having sinned!

Lucent Color drains from their faces, two woken up by those words or the others, running away fast as they can, taking one layer of the sheets with them and still leaving many pieces of their clothing scattered about. Lucent, on the other hand, sat straight up as she spoke, and as they left looked at Zahara, contrite. "Good morning..."

zahara watches the last of them leave then gently closes the door and turns to face Lucent. Her voice is deceptively mild as she speaks. "What, pray tell, are you doing exactly?"

Lucent "... waking up?"

zahara "Oh, is that what we call it now?" She considers sitting next to him on the edge of the bed, but decides that can't be at all clean anymore, so she instead slips into a chair after a quick glance. She firmly keeps herself from wondering if that is any cleaner. "The Cynis will have to revise their invitations."

Lucent "Oh, I read about them. The ones that throw the parties in the Realm, right?" He sighs deeply, falling back into the bed with a flump of dirty sheets and some colorful hair strands and looking at the ceiling, "Maybe going to one of their parties will help..."

zahara "Yes, them. Their excesses are legendary - but of course they are only Dragon-blooded. I'm sure you could surpass them if you try hard enough." She glances at him, then shakes her head. "So. Am I to understand that you have had one too many fights a certain Green-haired Necromancer?"

zahara (with)

zahara "Or is one simply not enough for your appetites?"

Lucent "Trying to forget that green-haired, fire-masked, manipulative BITCH!" He half-sits again, punching the bed. "Cerin told me to follow my heart, but whenever I think of her again, it HURTS. And they all want to be with me. Want the SAME thing she did. Why the hell not..."

zahara "Indeed. Why the hell not?"

Lucent "I am not guilty. I feel no guilt. She finished things with me! She said all we had was physical, that it was never a relationship at all, just some horizontal dancing! I should not be thinking of her when I am with those girls, I should NOT be seeing this as a betrayal of her! And neither should YOU!" He closes his eyes, shivering, "She does not care, why should I?"

zahara "Then why are you seeking revenge?"

Lucent "Am I?"

zahara "Why else would you make it known that you are having sex with as many women who look rather like Varanim - except for that one - as you can? You are not exactly being private with your displays of affection. But perhaps you are right, and she does not care. In which case, she would also not care about seeing you with other women."

Lucent "Why should I hide it? I hid it with her to spare her feelings, to spare her place on the Circle, to prevent something terrible... like before! But now, it is not like I need to hide! Anything!" He gives a wild gesture, like a backhand to the air! "... oh, she may not care personally, but nobody likes to feel they can be replaced like that. Nobody."

zahara "Ah, so while you were together you were still sleeping with other women?" She considers this. "Kind of you to hide it, then, I suppose." Her fingers slip down to the silvery scarves about her waist and she fingers the fabric. "It is true, yes, that being replaced makes one feel unworthy. So you wish to make her feel this?"

Lucent "... no. I was just for her." He frowns. "I was an idiot. I thought I lo..." He stops himself, falling back on the pillows again ."... I thought she cared. She hurt me. And I want to stop thinking about her. I am trying to bury her."

zahara "Is it working?" Her voice, having been sharp-edged before, is this time gentle. "Has it made you feel like you have regained your own worth?"

Lucent "Of course it i..." He stops. He slides up the head of the bed, on the large pillows left there, staring at Zahara. For a long time, with the end of that sentence lost in his lips, until it comes out as "... no."

zahara "Ah," she nods slowly. "I am sorry, Luc. I can make it stop, for a while, if you like. Riordan could also take away some of the pain. But neither is real and neither will last. Love is not easy, and losing, harder."

Lucent "And it never gets easier. I should know. I have been around this before, but... it never gets easier." He sighs deeply. "You can help? How? Wrapping me in the binds and making me not feel for her anymore?" He reaches to her, as if asking for it.

Lucent "I wonder if I would have kept her if I was real."

zahara "Aye, I can give you peace through them. She unwinds one from her waist and it coils into his hands. "You are real, Lucent. Only your doubt makes you not so."

Lucent "If I was real, she would see that. Not just an empty aristocratic prince to fill her fantasies."

zahara "I doubt her fantasies involved aristocratic princes before she met you," Zahara observes mildly.

Lucent "She has a very normal village girl inside of her. And maybe she is not the only one who wishes to roll in the hay with people she finds dirty." He sighs. "She thought all I wanted out of her is to sleep with someone dirty, Zahara." He closes his hand over the binds.

zahara "Did you? Did you see her as dirty? What did you see in her - what drew you to her?"

Lucent "I did. And that did entice me. It was also the conflict, the familiarity, the comparisons to Quen, the desire to save her. It was seeing her mind, so regimented, it was seeing her young selves, it was seeing the Marigold. It was learning her history, learning of her husband and child. It was the conflict, the passion, her looks, everything about her. It is so much."

Lucent "She was right that I saw her as dirty, that it was the cycle..."

Lucent "But that is just... part of it."

zahara frowns a little, "If she knew you thought of her as dirty, as something to change, can you blame her for not wanting to fall in love? Can you blame her for coming back from the edge - before it hurt too much to see it in your eyes?"

Lucent "I told her. I told her it was not just sex. She told me it was just it."

zahara "Loving someone you think of as lesser, dirty, worthless, does not make it feel better for the object of your affections. It merely adds a responsibility to the pain."

Lucent "So what are you trying to say? That it was my fault she hurt me?"

zahara "I am saying I am not sure if the relationship could have worked. I do not think the fault is yours alone - she was seeking something from it as well. There are many things to resolve before such a bond could become strong."

Lucent "And thus, she severed it, and I am trying to bury it. Happy?"

zahara looks at him sadly. "Peace, Lucent. Time will ease the wound. And perhaps mend the rift between you." As she speaks she can feel it moving through him, warmth from the Bonds gliding up his arm and into his heart and mind. Peace. Not joy or happiness, but the peace one can find when one is at harmony with all facets of oneself.

Lucent He sighs in relief as he feels the peace. Everything in his mind and soul ordered and, now, with the storms of his emotions, of his fears, of the many shadows and complications settling into a calm, all he could do is stare at the distance and whisper, "I love her."

zahara "I know." Her words are simple, soft. And she sits with him quietly, lost in melancholy thoughts of her own.

Lucent "I will do what I told Cerin. I will stop with the girls. I will go talk to her. Talk to the woman I love." He holds zahara's hand, tightening his grip on it through the binds. "I will talk to her, and make her stay with us. Not to break the Circle. Not to go away from me."

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