< A Meeting of Eyes | Red Ice Logs | Back To Febrisa >

While Iron Horse fills his belly in the restaurant across the street, the other three Sidereals sit in a warm room on the second floor of an aged inn. The outskirts of Ur have been relatively welcoming with the minor exceptions of teams of red monks passing through the streets, accompanied by Sevsimtali or the bat-winged vampiric Thorigig. Once another Fidatian appeared, but it was occupied chasing a criminal. The steaming remains that appeared several hours later were left in the town square to warn others. But for near a day, the Sidereals have felt fairly comfortable.

The steaming remains that appeared several hours later were left in the town square to warn others. But for near a day, the Sidereals have felt fairly comfortable. In the morning, they will have to go into Ur itself to meet with the Primate General.

  • Kinqueduran has been a bit on the fidgety side of late, smoking excessively and constantly checking the buckles of his armor.
  • Anstice has been, if anything, less active, more contemplative. He sits fairly near to Mendhari, though the glasses hide his eyes.
  • Mendhari passes a cup of tea over to Anstice and says something to him in Delzhan.
  • Kinqueduran casts a vaguely disapproving glance at the two of them, but within half a moment looks back to the street, jotting something down in his journal.
  • Anstice nods, whispering his response back to her.
  • Mendhari puts a bit of honey in the tea and hands it over to him. "I don't like this agreement."
  • Anstice shrugs. "It's not meant to be liked. It's meant to work."
  • Kinqueduran looks back at the happy couple. "Which agreement? We've made several."

Mendhari: "The one with that... Dark Celestine."

Kinqueduran: "Ah yes. The peculiar agreement."

Anstice: "No more peculiar than others recently."

Mendhari: "True..."

Kinqueduran: "Well, the other agreements haven't incorporated fundamental changes."

Anstice: "Indeed. There is something to be said for not having your patron maiden more interested in you."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs a little, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "What do you expect in this meeting?"

Mendhari: "Death, destruction... the usual."

Anstice: "Handling the primate general, to be... precise."

Kinqueduran: "Handling it with a pointy stick, or are we going to try that diplomacy silliness?"

  • Mendhari sighs. "When I still lived in the Palace, a Traveling Menagerie visited... and they called the apes primates..."

Anstice: "Diplomacy. To hide the pointy stick."

Kinqueduran: "You know, I had called a friend for help...I'm starting to worry about her."

Kinqueduran: "Back on-subject ... what do you expect the purpose of the meeting is, Anstice"?

Anstice: "A threat, a trap, and likely a setup for a sacrificial ritual using us."

Kinqueduran: "All at once, or in that order?"

Mendhari: "Great."

Kinqueduran: "It's not that bad, Mendhari."

Mendhari: "Yeah. It's worse."

Kinqueduran: "We're Exalted. Worse is where we shine."

  • Anstice chuckles at that. "He's using himself as bait. If we are especially clever, we may leave without getting our tails caught."

Kinqueduran: "You're probably right."

  • Kinqueduran closes his journal. "Every now and then, a clever mouse snatches the cheese and escapes the trap."

Mendhari: "And the rest of the time they break their spines."

Kinqueduran: "The point is, there's a possibility."

From under Kinqueduran's bed the small pattering of feet emerges. Then a pause. And a loud SNAPCRACK. The pattering of feet does not re-appear.

Mendhari: "My point exactly."

  • Kinqueduran sighs at the sound.

Mendhari: "At least it wasn't a lamp."

  • Anstice grins wryly. "Let us endeavor to make our backs stronger than the steel, then."

Kinqueduran: "Given the sounds we've heard, I was actually going to suggest being polite and kind, then leaving."

Anstice: "Tsk. Sure you're feeling alright?"

Mendhari: "Yeah. He must be sick."

Kinqueduran: "I'm fine."

Anstice: "I'm advocating stabbing, and you're advocating diplomacy. Something must be wrong."

Kinqueduran: "Diplomacy is just another weapon."

Kinqueduran: "If this meeting proves to be an opportune moment to wound our enemy, I am fully in favor of stabbing."

  • Anstice nods. "Good. Had me worried." He turns to Mendhari and whispers again.
  • Mendhari whispers back.
  • Kinqueduran clears his throat, looking back at his journal. "Normally, I'd like to work out a strategy right now."
  • Anstice chuckles, turning back to K. "Such as?"

Kinqueduran: "Given the circumstances, I don't think it prudent to discuss."

  • Anstice shrugs. "Any plan we make now will inevitably be discarded. Or am I lying, to draw our listeners off the track? It is a mystery."
  • Mendhari rolls her eyes.
  • Kinqueduran grins. "The spiral of our convoluted plot is endless."

Mendhari: "And somehow irritating."

Kinqueduran: "Everything I do irritates you, I've learned to ignore your irritation."

Mendhari: "Actually, Anstice is the one who's irritating me at the moment."

  • Anstice bows his head. "My deepest apologies, princess."
  • Mendhari smiles at him. "Try not to do it again."

Kinqueduran: "Promise me something, Mendhari?"

Mendhari: "Yes, Kinqueduran?"

Kinqueduran: "When you buy Anstice's leash and collar, don't be cheap. He deserves nice things."

  • Mendhari stares at him. "Why would I buy him a leash and collar?"
  • Kinqueduran just shakes his head.
  • Mendhari looks for a lamp.
  • Kinqueduran glances back to Anstice. "Should I start working on talismans?"
  • Anstice whispers the explanation in her ear, in sufficient detail to leave her with a blush.

Anstice: "You weren't already? Then yes."

Kinqueduran: "I wasn't, and there's a good reason for that."

  • Mendhari looks away and stares out the window.

Anstice: "Perhaps something that only takes effect after a certain something happens... we need surprise. And possibly a way to cover our tracks."

  • Kinqueduran nods a bit, scratching his stubbled jaw. "I'll work on that. How durable would you prefer these talismans be?"
  • Mendhari whispers into Anstice's ear.

Anstice: "Durable enough to handle a scuffle, but not a direct strike?"

  • Kinqueduran nods a bit. "I'll work on it. Do you have any items that you wouldn't mind getting ink, blood, or ichor on?"

Anstice: "I like the glasses as they are."

Kinqueduran: "I'm not asking for things you want left alone."

Anstice: "That is to say the rest are fair game."

Kinqueduran: "Good. Pick out some items you can keep at least somewhat concealed while on your person."

Kinqueduran: "Mendhari, you too."

  • Mendhari smiles. "Like my hairpins?"

Kinqueduran: "Something a little bigger might be nice."

  • Mendhari pulls one out, and slices though a table with it. "Big enough?"

Kinqueduran: "I suppose."

Anstice: "Now, dear, that wasn't nice. Where are we going to get another table?"

Kinqueduran: "She's a princess. She'll buy a new one."

Mendhari: "Of course."

Anstice: "At this time of night?"

  • Kinqueduran shrugs, stretching back out on his bed. "She's a princess. She doesn't think about practical things."

Mendhari: "There's always tomorrow."

Anstice: "True. And hopefully more than one tomorrow."

Kinqueduran: "Let's not be ŽtooŽ hopeful."

The morning comes quickly, with the four Sidereals gathering their possessions. Kinqueduran's work on their personal items has provided a number of useful wards, but even he isn't truly sure how effective they will be if Yurik has planned something unpleasant for them in Ur. The city itself is only an hour's journey, but in two hours the sun will strike its ordained position and the meeting will begin.

  • Kinqueduran fidgets with his armor buckles, waiting for the others.
  • Mendhari steps up next to him. "Ready? Or are you just going to play with yourself all day?"
  • Kinqueduran just ignores her.
  • Anstice wanders out shortly thereafter, polishing the glasses on his shirt.

Mendhari: "Very regal, Anstice."

Kinqueduran: "Are we ready?"

Mendhari: "Probably. Anstice?"

Anstice: "Mostly. Waiting on our last piece to the puzzle."

  • Iron Horse dashes out and towards his companion, looking... like his usual messy self. "Gah! Sorry about that!"
  • Kinqueduran rubs the bridge of his nose. "Let's go."
  • Mendhari sighs. "For once, can you at least TRY to look presentable, Iron Horse?"

Kinqueduran: "Why bother?"

Iron Horse: "What's the point? I'll be messy by the end of the day."

Anstice: "You might be dead by the end of the day. Want to be a messy ghost?"

Mendhari: "True.... Tell me when you get out of the clumsiness phase of puberty."

Kinqueduran: "We're dealing with demons. I'm not sure being a ghost is a concern."

  • Iron Horse blinks at Mendhari. "Huh?"

Kinqueduran: "I think she has a beetle in her cooch, just ignore her."

Mendhari: "You know. Puberty. Becoming a man."

Iron Horse: "Oh! I'm already a man!"

Mendhari: ".... sure you are."

Iron Horse: "Yep!"

Mendhari: "Iron Horse? You're a wonder."

Iron Horse: "Thanks!"

Kinqueduran: "Don't inflate the boy's ego any further, please."

  • Anstice taps his foot. "Are we done? Can we go?"

Mendhari: ".... sure."

Kinqueduran: "I've been ready for a while now."

Iron Horse: "K! Let's go!"

  • Kinqueduran rolls his eyes.

Shortly before the meeting is scheduled to take place, the Circle arrives at the foot of the Great Temple of Ur. A massive pyramid of ice that stands exactly 3,733 feet and 6 inches tall, according to a small plaque nearby. The City of Ur, itself full of monumental ice statues and temples, is dwarfed by the massive shadow of the pyramid. And the meeting will take place at its top. A mile-long stairway of shining white ice leads up to the temple that rests on the very heights of the pyramid, where the Primate General will meet them.

  • Kinqueduran grits his teeth, shrugging under the coarse, off-white poncho he wears. "This looks like fun."

Anstice: "Just remember it's a long way down."

Iron Horse: "... huh..."

Kinqueduran: "Let's just go."

  • Anstice begins climbing, making sure Mendhari takes up the rear. He's not up for staring at her hips that long.
  • Kinqueduran follows Anstice, keeping a sharp eye for flying trouble.
  • Iron Horse follows as well, at an easy, fast pace.

Though the way is difficult and slippery, everyone manages to ascend the stairs without incident. Standing nearly half a mile in the air on a small, square platform with only transparent ice columns and a block of white ice for covering from the harsh, frigid wind, the four wait for the meeting.

Mendhari: "This is why I hate ice."

  • Kinqueduran grinds the butt of his lance against the platform, his shield resting on his back, the scarab icon on it covered by his poncho.

Anstice: "After this, you are definitely getting that snow bath, Mendhari."

  • Iron Horse already looks bored.

Mendhari: ".... If it is as nice as you say it is."

  • Kinqueduran sighs and crouches, laying the lance across his knees.

Anstice: "Possibly better. It all depends on the company."

  • Mendhari smiles at him. "Who would be the company?"

Kinqueduran: "Could you two please refrain from flirting sloppily until after the meeting?"

From hidden passages in the columns, four red-robed monks appear. These are dressed far better then those you have previously met, their cloaks lined with red foxfur and made of the finest silk and velvet, layered over and over to protect from the cold. Each bears a censor of what can only be solid ruby, emitting faintly red-hued smoke as they swing. Together the monks intone a welcome. The voices merge, hiding the sex of the speakers though the monks are clearly split evenly, male and female. All four have red hair, the males have immaculately trimmed red beards as well.

Together the monks intone a welcome. The voices merge, hiding the sex of the speakers though the monks are clearly split evenly, male and female. All four have red hair, the males have immaculately trimmed red beards as well.

Monks: "We welcome you to the Great City of Ur. You are made our honored Guests. You will be at peace, you will be safe. No harm may come to you.

  • Mendhari blinks. "Well that's a relief."
  • Kinqueduran bites his tongue, insistent on civility. He stands, planting the butt of the spear on the platform.
  • Anstice nods at them, though far from reassured.
  • Iron Horse blinks, staring at the oddly synchronized figures.
  • Kinqueduran tightens his grasp on the spear, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Monks: "He comes. He comes. The highest of us all, the most immaculate and untouched Primate-General. He comes. He who brought to us the news of the Third Great God, First Among the Three. He comes."

  • Anstice wipes the frost from his glasses, wondering how they're going to manage to maintain the symmetry.
  • Kinqueduran clenches his free hand, obviously very uncomfortable.

From the center of the platform, a man appears, stepping forth from the clouds of red smoke. He looks somewhat like Kinqueduran, tall and strong, with wiry muscles and a sharp-featured face. His red hair is long, the complex braid that binds it reaches down to his waist as it spills from the front of his hood. The vestments he wears are complicated

Mendhari: "Dramatic."

Kinqueduran: "I give it a 4 out of 10."

They seem to be half battle-armor, half priestly costume. Red silk that gives off a peculiar smell covers red-lacquered leather and mail made of a strange red metal, for it gives no hint of being painted or otherwise colored. The same metal appears in the blades of the two swords strapped to his broad back. Unlike the monks, he is clean-shaven.

Mendhari: "Twin envy?"

Kinqueduran: "More like copycat irritation."

Primate General: "I am the Primate-General of the Empire of the Algoran People. I am honored to be the speaker for this great nation, may its people be ever-prosperous and may the Three Highest look upon them with ever-present joy and love."

  • Anstice is silent, just appraising the weaknesses of it.

Kinqueduran: "I can at least compliment your color choice."

Anstice: "You know who we are. You know who we represent. Let this meeting be marked by the courtesies that come with such patrons."

Mendhari: "May we come in?"

Primate General: "This is where we agreed to meet. The depths of the Temple are forbidden to outsiders. We may speak in perfect privacy here on the platform. Worry not about the monks, they have been devoured within by Vestims."

Mendhari: "I see."

Kinqueduran: "Why did you call us here?"

Primate General: "I understand you were all, at various times, students of Xansha Niestro."

Anstice: "Yes."

Kinqueduran: "Yes, we were."

Mendhari: "Yes."

<Primate General> "Then you should already know why you are here. It will do no good to hide your knowledge from me. I am more then I seem to be."

Kinqueduran: "Would it kill you to answer the damn question?"

<Primate General> "You are either very foolish or very stupid, my Red friend. We require your agreement. You must not interfere in Celphindal's plans. And you must leave the North. Beyond the bounds of the Empire of the Alogran People, beyond the Haslanti. Beyond even the Icewalkers."

Kinqueduran: "Well, I guess we're done here."

Anstice: "Or what?"

Anstice: "Why go to all this trouble asking us to leave when you could have been trying to kill us?"

<Primate General> "This method is simpler, easier. If you agree, we will not trouble you ever again. We will even give you a few weeks to decide on your response."

Kinqueduran: A slow smile spreads across K's face.

Anstice: "I tend to think that setting the Yozis free is likely to trouble us."

Mendhari: "Most likely. And it will probably spread beyond the North. So leaving it isn't avoiding anything."

<Primate General> "What makes you think anyone can unbind the Yozis?"

Anstice: "People can unbind demons as well. It is no stretch to think the world would accept just the right manner of freeing their parents."

  • Anstice levels his dire spear at the guy. "Now, since you brought her up, did you order Niestro's death?"
  • Kinqueduran grins at Anstice's action, keeping a sharp eye on the red-robed monks.
  • Mendhari crosses her arms.
  • Primate General draws himself up, offended. "Of course not. How would I go about arranging her death? She was most strong."

Mendhari: "Then you killed her yourself?"

Kinqueduran: "Should we trust you?"

<Primate General> "That is your own decision."

Kinqueduran: "Do you have a name or just a title?"

<Primate General> "I am known as Julan Triskesta."

Kinqueduran: "I'm going to call you Jules."

<Primate General> "I have been respectful towards you, I would ask you return the gesture."

  • Kinqueduran shrugs. "You haven't been respectful enough to deserve it, Jules."

Anstice: "K? Down."

Kinqueduran: "Why?"

Anstice: "I'm trying to parse this ungodly complicated plot, and the two of you calling names and whining is making it difficult."

Kinqueduran: "I doubt you'll get much out of Jules."

Mendhari: "K! Behave."

  • Primate General turns to the monks, face flushing nearly the shade of his vestments. "Remove them. Out of the city, return them to whatever place they were staying before they came here. Inform the Thorrigig and the Sevsimtali patrols. They are not allowed to return to Ur."

Kinqueduran: "Touchy bastard, isn't he?"

<Primate General> "Send someone for a messenger with your response. If you do not, I will accept your refusal."

  • Primate General steps back into the cloud of red, disappearing back into the depths of the pyramid as the four monks move to hustle the Sidereals from the temple.

Mendhari: "Well.... Excellent, Kinqueduran. Have you always been a dunce, or is this a recent development?"

  • Anstice considers the pleasing shade of red they would make if hurled off the side of the pyramid.

Kinqueduran: "Hey, Mendhari? Go fuck yourself."

  • Mendhari sighs. "Lets get off this icecube."

Anstice: "Yes... Now is not the time."

Kinqueduran: "Off we go then."

  • Mendhari starts to climb down.
  • Kinqueduran follows suit, hoping that Anstice doesn't do something silly.
  • Anstice doesn't quite... though is sorely tempted to melt the place down.

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