zahara "So," she says to Nesula, "Remember when I told you that I was friends with your past incarnation, et-cetera, et-cetera?"
Nesula "Uh... huh," she says.
zahara takes another drink. She'd been drinking a lot lately. "Yeah, so, there's also the bit at the end where we weren't on uh the absolute best of terms and such since he was possessed."
Nesula "And then your boyfriend killed him."
zahara "Right." She nods slowly. "Except now he's..." she waves her mug illustratively. "He's gone and become a Shadeborn Exalt."
Nesula looks at Zahara with a familiar, skeptical look as she opens up a bottle of rum. "Zahara."
Nesula "Sometimes I wonder about you," she says, and she takes a long swig from her bottle.
zahara chuckles and leans back in her chair, staring off into the distance, then looks over and says brightly. "So, I thought you'd like to meet him."
Nesula almost spits out her rum. "Whaaaaaaaaat."
zahara "Yeah. He'll be arriving in the Sharptusk Glade in about..." she gauges the angle of the sun then continues... "fifteen minutes."
Nesula slams her rum bottle down. "You have GOT to be kidding."
zahara "Nope. Isn't it great?" She stands and gathers her things. "Well, we better go or we'll be late."
Nesula stares at Zahara for a long moment with her mouth agape, then picks up a nearby towel and throws it at her.
zahara parries the towel with a handy butter knife, and heads for the door.
Nesula Not long after, Sharpglade.
Nesula The forest has begun to regrow nicely from the fire damage inflicted to it during the war, and the light of the crescent moon glints pleasantly off of the young, optimistic leaves that bud from the many saplings that Zahara remembers planting here, Markuran (trying as best he could to hide his anger) by her side.
Nesula , however, looks a little unnerved; if Zahara had to guess, the forest brought back some memories for her.
Nesula Markuran is still, as yet, nowhere to be seen.
zahara glances over at Nesula, gauging her mood. "Are you alright?"
Nesula blinks a few times, and looks like she regrets having left the rum behind. "It's... a little awkward to come to a forest to meet someone only to suddenly remember them having sex there."
zahara "Ah... you might end up with a lot of that sort of memories, knowing Marku." She half smiles, then paces about the clearing, trying to quell her own memories of the man.
Nesula As she examines the new growth, Zahara suddenly hears, from a bit of a distance beyond the edge of the clearing, a sound like bird wings rustling.
zahara tenses, her fingers crushing one of the optimistic young leaves into a green paste, then she turns and nods to Nesula in the direction of the sound. "He's here."
Nesula After a loooooong moment, he steps out of the forest, still much as he was upon his return: bare-chested, tousled hair, the thick cloak of raven-feathers still coating his back. "Hello again, Zahara."
zahara "Hello, Markuran the Raven." She inclines her head to him. "I'd like you to meet Nesula." A polite gesture towards the woman and then she continues. "I hope you have been... well."
Nesula Markuran: "I've been... alright," he says; he makes a grin at one corner of his mouth, which Zahara finds oddly familiar, but... something's different about it. Maybe it's the lack of implied smugness behind it?
Nesula Markuran: "Hello, Nesula. I've been wondering about you." She blinks at him for a moment, even more confused, and then warily reaches out a hand that is shaken with what could perhaps be called a "vigorous" shake.
Nesula "....likewise, I guess." Nesula looks back over to Zahara for help.
zahara is similarly at a loss for what exactly to say, though she hides it a bit better. "I'm glad to hear that, I suppose. I am wondering what you intend to do now that you are... what you are now."
Nesula Markuran turns to face Zahara, and that odd smile, familiar and yet different, comes back. "I'll make you a deal, Zahara," he says. "You and your friend" -- he flashes a grin at a still-unsettled Nesula -- "tell me what you plan to do with yourselves... and I'll tell you how I'm going to spend my dying years."
zahara smirks in return, unsettled by the tiny differences. "I am not entirely sure any of my plans will come to a conclusion, as they seem to be changing at a rapid rate."
zahara spreads her hands. "So far I have slain two of the Trinity Draconis. The third may well end up sleeping with them. I will expand my empire further with the assistance of my Circle. I will aid the Deliberative in the upcoming battle with the Hundredfold unless we find some way to avoid it. There are many things."
Markuran nods. "Yes, there are," he says. "Have you..." he says, pauses as he seems to think better of it for a moment, and then finally decides to go on anyway. "Have you made peace with Tevezst?"
zahara "Why do you ask?"
Nesula looks over at Zahara with a slightly raised eyebrow and a mouthed "...who?"
Markuran looks at Zahara with his head slightly tilted; it looks oddly like the look one might make when considering what one was about to say. "I... think you know where my interest comes from, Zahara."
zahara returns Nesula's eyebrow with an 'i'll tell you later - maybe' kind of look. She smiles coolly at Marku. "I opened the door of the White Room so that he might leave."
Markuran looks at Zahara, a little bit surprised. "...I did not expect that."
zahara "Can you not tell, I am full of peace." Her voice is edged with irony, but... he can tell she is different. "Life is full of surprises. For instance, I have seen you twice in places I did not expect to since you left the Circle."
Marku's face is visibly pained at that, and Nesula decides to fill the awkwardness with conversation. "I'm planning to, uh... recruit other Solars," she says. "So they don't go b..." She cuts herself off there. "G...get in trouble."
Markuran looks at her with interest. "Ministry to the young is virtuous," he says. "There are... many pitfalls and treacherous crossings along the path walked by the Chosen." A shadow crosses his face.
"Oh, yeah," Nesula says. "Gotta watch out for those pits. Nasty buggers," and Markuran laughs.
zahara "ha ha ha" she adds politely
Markuran looks at the two of them. "I guess you've done your side," he says, and sighs.
"We have quite a bit of work to do."
zahara "Such is the life of a Chosen. What is it you plan to do?"
"The ways of Death are broken," he says, simply. "They must be fixed."
"Oh, is that it," says Nesula. "Just fix the entire process of life and death, all by yourself."
"Not by myself, but yes," he says.
zahara "What will you need to do to fix it?"
"Learn the depth of the problem, to begin with," he says. "It has been far too long since the Plutonian Exalted walked in the Underworld."
He narrows his eyes. "And of course, that is not all."
zahara "Of course," she agrees.
"You know a storm is coming."
zahara nods slowly. "Yes." She toys with the dragon ring on her finger.
"I hope you are as ready to confront it as I must be," he says, monotone.
zahara "How can one...truly ever be ready?"
"A good question," he says. "Maybe we can't."
"Probably by doing pushups or something," Nesula says, under her breath. "Or I guess maybe what he said."
zahara is silent, staring off into the forest unseeing. "One day we will not be able to weather the storms set against us." She blinks and looks over at Nesula, "But until then, we shall be doing pushups."
"Right," Markuran says, and he grins oddly at Nesula again. "I hope this has been the meeting you were hoping for," he says.
"Yyyyyyyyyes," is her reply. "Nice to, uh, meet you... in person. Uh."
zahara "It was a pleasant meeting, I suppose." She begins to turn back toward the Cascade and then stops. "What...happened to you? You're so different."
"My soul is tethered to a different anchor now," he says. "I am... not as angry as I once was."
Then he looks down at the ground, with a pained expression. "And... I have much to atone for."s