Thirteen and Birds arrive quickly at Iallu's sanctuary.
alsoquin Birds can easily find the mechanisms necessary to open the way into the temple.
Birds ushers Thirteen in quickly and shuts the door against the cold. They hang up their coats, and Thirteen notices for the first time the jingle of white jade mourning beads.
Birds "Iallu of Secrets, we have come to have words with you."
Birds calls Nibbles over. "Dear, would you go find Mother for us? We will be waiting in the tea room." She heads off in the direction of one of the towers.
Birds "So Thirteen, I imagine that you have some lecture prepared."
alsoquin Nibbles purrs as Birds pets him gently and runs off to find the goddess.
Thirteen "I had assumed that you would do much of the talking. Your relationship with Iallu is no doubt greater than my own."
Thirteen "However, I can so endeavor, if you wish."
Birds "I had only guessed, as you are always prepared with something. Smoked tea or rose? It seems there are also cream buns."
alsoquin The sound of the tiger moving through the building, attempting to locate Iallu, can be heard faintly in the background.
Thirteen "I would recommend discussing the nature of our inherent divinity and how it resists all attempts at subjugation."
alsoquin (Nibbles has recently experienced a growth spurt and is not quite used to his new size yet...)
Thirteen "We do not wish to alienate Iallu, merely to establish our superiority. Beyond that, things need not change."
Birds nods and pours several cups of tea. She places one by a floor cushion for Nibbles and another on a bookshelf for Smoking Mirror.
Birds "I'll endeavor to impress this upon her."
alsoquin Nibbles comes charging back over -- knocking over a bookshelf in the process -- and begins loudly slurping his tea as Smoking Mirror alights more... dignifiedly. From some distance, Iallu can be heard calling "Yes, yes, I'll be over in a moment!"
Birds pets Nibbles anxiously.
alsoquin After a few more minutes, Iallu appears, her purple garments ruffled as they often are after a long, frantic session in the library. "Hello Birds." She stops to right the bookshelf that Nibbles knocked over. "I didn't expect you for another week. What is it?"
Birds "Please sit. Mirror, would you help Nibbles pick up? Iallu, I think that we need to discuss our arrangements."
alsoquin The bird goes to right the bookshelf, which Iallu leaves in its care as she sits. She raises a single crystalline eyebrow questioningly.
Birds "You are aware that we, the Sunlanders, are Chosen of the Sun, and more to the point, I am."
Birds "My political and diplomatic advisors have brought the responsibilities of this station back to my attention; you perceive that the war with the Lily has been highly distracting."
Thirteen listens, idly picking through the books on the side table and eating one.
alsoquin "It is proving to be a fairly elaborate conflict, yes," she says, unsure exactly where Birds is going with this.
Birds "Simply put, it is unnatural and what's worse, /unseemly/ for me to continue to perform as a priest in this manner, even to so august an entity as yourself."
Birds "You must know that I hold you close in my heart and mean no insult or harm by this."
alsoquin blinks for a second, before laughing. "Hahaha, that's a good one. You almost had me convinced."
Birds "But as children of the Unconquered Sun, our heads must remain unbowed."
alsoquin Iallu attempts to raise her other eyebrow at this statement, before making a conscious realization that she needs to lower the first one for the gesture to have the proper effect and promptly correcting this error.
Thirteen quietly interjects. "Our relationship up until now has been most profitable and pleasant for all parties."
Thirteen "Let us together seek a way it can remain so."
alsoquin "You ARE serious."
Birds lifts a teacup. "I do not joke over tea, and this is truly /excellent/ tea. It would be shameful."
alsoquin Iallu's crystalline face slips into a slightly irritated-looking frown, though she waits for Birds to speak up again before responding.
Birds "I don't wish to sever our contract, nor to force you into the uncomfortable position of slave. But we believe that some gesture of your allegiance to us - let's not mince words, you know that you have stuck your neck out too far now to draw it back safely, and that makes you ours - is in order."
Birds "Thirteen Blooming Flowers suggests that you wear Zahara's emblem, and that we move the holy library to a place of safety within the Cascade."
alsoquin "I cannot believe you are having this conversation with me over MY TEA." Iallu snatches up the pot and angrily pours herself a cup.
Birds "Oh, thank you for reminding me. I brought a batch of the latest crop from Cloud Maiden Mountain."
Birds digs it out of her robes. "It is excellent."
alsoquin "I... see."
alsoquin Iallu takes a deep sip from her cup.
alsoquin "So what exactly are you trying to accomplish here? To remind me about how VERY IMPORTANT you are in comparison to myself?" She's starting to get a little high pitched.
alsoquin "THIS IS WHY THERE WAS A REVOLUTION IN THE FIRST PLACE!" She is humorously agitated; Birds can recognize this mood from when a knot in her loom caused her to miss out on the revelation of a Western crown-prince's four extramarital affairs to the household.
Birds drops her head on the table, narrowly missing her plate of buns.
Thirteen "I appreciate your concern. However, surely you must see by now, Iallu, that you have no alternative."
Thirteen "Please allow us to remain compatriots."
Birds Muffled, "Wait, which rebellion are you talking about here?"
alsoquin "Certainly I do have an alternative! I could say I've been infiltrating you as a deep cover operative the entire time and spill everything I know!" She gulps the tea.
alsoquin After a pause she adds, more calmly: "I do know all your secrets, after all."
Thirteen "I am sure you see that this merely lends further weight to our position."
Birds "Let's not let this become an exchange of threats, please. I merely want to present to the world a united front of powers. I wish to say, 'Iallu is not merely some goddess who lives in the north, to whom we go for wisdom and learning. Iallu is one of us.' I worry that with us separated, we are both weaker and in greater danger."
Birds "You will be the banner-bearer for a new world where gods and the Chosen stand together, rather than in opposition. Where there is respect and peace."
Birds lifts up her head just enough to eat a bun.
alsoquin "Well then!" Iallu eats a bun, rather rapidly, as she exclaims. "That is a bit of a different arrangement. Nibbles!" she points to the tiger animatedly. "Put on water for more tea!"
alsoquin "Let me put this to you straightforwardly." She looks mostly at Birds, largely ignoring Thirteen's presence.
Birds "Nothing would make me happier."
Thirteen eats a bun.
alsoquin "The arrangement that... we, as gods, have with this world now is... insufficient." She gestures dramatically with the teacup.
alsoquin "Being ignored by Heaven, except when they let us in for parties... having to bargain with the DRAGONLINGS" -- she clears her throat -- "for scraps, no worship structures worth a damn.... we have been SLUMMING IT for THOUSANDS OF YEARS."
alsoquin "If your goal is to subtly slip us back into that arrangement while you slightly shine up the Dragon's role, it is... INSULTING!"
alsoquin Iallu pauses. "Nibbles, the water is boiling! Bring it here, please."
Birds sits up carefully and gives Thirteen a conspiratorial look. "I am familiar with the travesty that the Immaculates call a religion."
alsoquin Iallu nods. "And?"
Birds "Did you once celebrate the great rites of ancient times? The Dragon Kings tell stories of how they held up beating hearts to their gods in celebration of their might."
alsoquin "Indeed! Back when we were treated with the importance that we so rightly DESERVE for our -- thank you, Nibbles, now pour it into the teapot -- ENDLESS HARD WORK."
Thirteen nibbles idly on his teacup, ever so slightly nodding.
Birds "We are not thousands of years old, but I think that we understand some fragment of your frustration. I dream of those days when Alawhi would stop the hearts of a thousand men with a song, or when kingdoms wold kneel for pie."
alsoquin nods satisfiedly.
Birds "None of us are respected as we should be, as we once were."
alsoquin "If you are looking to re-negotiate our arrangement I want to give some DEMANDS. In WRITING." She starts reaching for another bun when she is startled. "Dammit, Nibbles! You've soaked the tablecloth! You need to practice your pouring!" Another pause. "I'm sorry, mommy shouldn't yell. Smoking Mirror, could you get Nibbles a fish, please?"
Birds "If anything is to be ground under the heels of progress, let it be the mortals who do NO SINGLE THING to keep the world working as it should. That is my vision - an empire without borders, ruled by a council of the mighty, Gods, ghosts, Chosen, Elemental alike."
Thirteen "Selected, of course, on fitness to so serve."
Birds "I'll return with appropriate documents at our next official meeting. I merely wanted to discuss this with you informally first, as it felt pressing to do so."
alsoquin "Good, good. I like the sound of that." She pets Nibbles absentmindedly, and despite his accident at the table he seems to be fairly pleased with himself.
alsoquin "But wait! My demands." She snaps her fingers and a sheet of paper and quill fly through the air to hover nearby.
Birds helps herself to another bun while Iallu writes.
Birds "Incidentally, has the Iron Goddess of Mercy crop come in? We have run out of last year's."
alsoquin Iallu nods at Birds as her pen dictates her thoughts. "Oh, yes, just yesterday. Quite good, too."
Birds "Oh good. I think I'll make a stop at the plantation on the way home."
alsoquin "There!" The pen dots the final sentence violently, for emphasis, then the paper floats down to sit at the table in front of Birds.
Birds folds it up and sticks it in a pocket. "Lovely. I'll see you next week then, unless there's any especially urgent business?"
alsoquin "No, no, that should be more than sufficient."
Thirteen fidgets slightly.
Thirteen ::What is wrong, Birds?::
Birds nods. "Let's be off then." ::Hm?::
Thirteen ::Why are we leaving without accomplishing our objective?::
Birds ::Don't want to seem too eager, you see, and I want to consult with Zahara and the others about developments. Her input and Lucent's will be important in establishing the rules of the new council, even with the framework of the ancient Deliberative to draw on.::
Birds ::I know that you value expedience in all things, but in this, I feel that a certain deliberateness is called for.::
Thirteen ::I am sure your expertise in politics exceeds my own.::
Birds ::You do me honor. Now, do you have the gate map? I don't remember offhand the closest gate to the plantation...::
Birds gives Nibbles a ruffling of the hair by way of goodbye, and falls out the window.
(...Iallu's demands read as follows...)
Under the new Solar regime to come, a proper accounting for the PROPER DIVINITY of the Gods must be made. In exchange for acknowledgement of the Exalted as the proper rulers of the Terrestrial sphere, the Terrestrial gods must be afforded a properly regal position, with explicit guidance as to their proper worship by the mortal populace. (...)
The rulers of the nation will make proper acknowledgement of their role as priests, that is, not as SUBORDINATES or EMPLOYEES of Gods but rather as those who DIRECT ACTUAL SUBORDINATES such as WEAK MORTAL BEINGS towards the proper method of worship. (...)
In addition, those deities who have properly identified with the Solars' cause from the beginning will properly be granted an ESPECIALLY HIGH and EXTRAVAGANT position within the new religious structure, to be eternally treated with EXTRA DIGNITY and WORSHIP as a result of their contribution to the war effort when MOST GODS were LICKING THE BOOTS of Lai Misuna.
Tags: (:tags Iallu, Nibbles, Gods :)