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Birds bespeaks Cerin, ::Are you particularly busy? Thirteen and I were discussing things, and I had a question to ask you.::

Cerin ::I am not too busy for you, Birds. I am atop the West Tower:: He responds, mentally filing the memories of the books away once more.

Birds ::Excellent.:: Birds arrives presently.

Cerin "Greetings, Birds. I did not ask Thirteen when I saw him, how is Ssithumi?"

Birds "She seems well. They seem well? She."

Birds "Olchilike make my head hurt."

Cerin grins "From what I understand, 'She' may well be more accurate now."

Birds "It's actually our talk with Ssithumi-and-Tohatep that has gotten me thinking." She nods to Cerin's reply. "We learned some very interesting things about Wei Dan, and some other things about olchilike."

Birds "For some reason, Thirteen asked me, 'Birds, are you planning to exalt all humanity?' That was not my plan, but it intrigues and excites me."

Cerin "That is an interesting idea. I believe our plans were heading in that direction, though not on that .. scale."

Birds "Yeah."

Birds "It would have....consequences."

Cerin "That is a certianty, yes."

Birds "I think we should do it."

Birds "I am not sure why, but that voice inside me that makes declarations and stands on mountains and things says that it is right."

Cerin "That voice I can agree with, I feel. It appears that those of Meru are alone in their ability to channel essence. Though conversely, there are, or were relatively few /Exalts/."

Thirteen /me comes up the side of the tower, again seeking his prodigal compatriots.

Thirteen "Ah, there you are. Shall we to Wasirru, then?"

Birds "Hi Thirteen!" Birds nods. "We should very soon, yes...but I wanted to ask you before we go, what got you thinking about exalting humanity?"

Thirteen "An idle comment of yours, that I misinterpreted. Now that the idea has come to mind, however, it seems better than I considered at first."

Cerin "It is an intriguing idea, yes."

Birds makes a hrrm noise.

Thirteen "Without the ability to channel Essence, humans are incapable of responsibility for their own lives. They are as ants. We must raise them up, to be the leader the Unconquered Sun has failed to be."

Cerin nods.

Cerin "I wonder what the best mechanisms might be. I suspect the channel cages would be woefully inadequet and grossly inefficient for more than one generation."

Thirteen "Indeed. I had planned to leave the details of implementation to you, Cerin; however, we must at some point determine the most effective method of doing so."

Thirteen "To be sensible, it must be cost-effective and passed on via blood."

Cerin "Then perhaps something similar to the Dragonblooded ..."

Birds throws up a sheet of flying paper and begins to take notes in a faintly humming ink.

Birds "I'm not sure that blood is the most optimal approach, actually. It means that we have to bless every possible mortal bloodline somehow, including the humans scattered through the other twelve worlds."

Birds "If we can construct a procedure that mortals can voluntarily and deliberately perform to Exalt /themselves/, I would find that preferable."

Cerin "That is true." He tilts his head and considers "Then I think you would find only the self-serving would exalt."

Thirteen "I am not so sure, Birds. Most if not all of the humans on other planes already have the capability to channel Essence. Xarans do, as do my tribe on Wasirru."

Thirteen "It is only on Meru that the gift is absent."

Cerin nods "They are not Exalted though. The difference is significant."

Birds "Hm."

Birds "You could channel Essence before your Exaltation, too?"

Thirteen "I am not sure it is necessary to give them great power, merely to separate them from the animals."

Thirteen "Yes."

Thirteen "Not to any great degree."

Birds "That is most interesting. Then, we know that Exaltation is not a necessary condition for human dignity."

Thirteen "Please, clarify."

Thirteen 's brow furrows slightly and he taps his fingers on the wall.

Birds "You said yourself--without the ability to use Essence, humans are unable to be responsible for themselves."

Birds "The state of the humans of Meru is indecent."

Thirteen "Yes."

Thirteen "I quite agree."

Cerin nods, though he is perhaps more concerned at present with the how than the why

Birds "But, perhaps, we need not go so far as to make men Ealted."

Birds **Exalted

Birds "Perhaps, instead, we can make men into gods."

Thirteen "We will no doubt be selecting the best of them for Exaltation at any rate. I believe merely a small amount of power is necessary otherwise. Perhaps, say, to a maximum of the capabilities Belladonna now enjoys."

Cerin "The problem with Exalted is that they are not easy to limit. At least not within themselves. We would need to arrange things such that they did not want to grow."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "We cannot place undue or unfair burdens on them. Then we are no better than that which we seek to surpass."

Birds "This is true. I just think that...Exaltation is a weapon and a tool of rebellion and disruption."

Birds "Perhaps we need to look harder at that." Birds pauses. "Cerin, you look concerned."

Cerin "Exaltation is the easiest way to give them power. To make them gods would make them not human. But yes, it is the nature of Exalted to grow and to overcome. We would have to rule with the utmost care. Or not rule at all."

Thirteen "I have no care for owning the world. But humans deserve better than they have received. Just as we do."

Cerin "Zahara, I feel, may view things differently."

Birds "I do not wish to take Zahara's empire away from her just for the sake of justice."

Birds "Too, I dream of being queen, sometimes."

Thirteen "Mm."

Thirteen "I would not want to rob my sisters."

Thirteen "But we must do what the Sun has failed to do."

Thirteen "I will consider."

Cerin "Then we shall have to rule well."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "My apologies, Cerin, you are of course correct."

Birds thinks about what Cerin said again.

Thirteen "We have that responsibility."

Birds "Not ruling at all is not the same thing as not ruling at all."

Cerin raises an eyebrow towards birds. Then, remembering Thirteen "Could you go on, Birds?"

Birds reclines on a comfortable breeze. "Yes...."

Birds "You remember Zahara's copy of /The Invisible Kingdom of Fire/? It says that once, the invisible kingdom had a king who sat on his throne. He did not speak or eat or move or breathe."

Cerin "Ah. And yet he was still king. Yes."

Birds "During the reign of that king, the invisible kingdom had a period of legendary prosperity. Then, suddenly, it was plunged into an age of darkness and war. One year into that age, someone came to see the king. Crows were eating his eyes, because he had died many months ago."

Birds "Most copies of this book omit the end of that story."

Thirteen "Ah."

Thirteen "But I doubt that we may convince Zahara to pursue such a rulership strategy."

Cerin "She would still be queen. Sometimes I think this is what is more important to her."

Thirteen "Empress."

Thirteen "Or so she has corrected me previously."

Thirteen "Perhaps, then, this can be our path."

Thirteen "But how shall we raise up humanity?"

Thirteen "You are the scholar of souls, Cerin."

Cerin "That will require some thought and some study."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "Whence is derived the Dragon-Blooded spark, and what passes it on?"

Cerin "Channel cages will not suit, I know that. Soul Sparks are not really suitable for mass production. I am not sure we wish to replace bits of humanity with divine machinery, and the blood method has issues. Most notably starting it."

Cerin "Possibly it could be encoded into holy texts of a sort."

Thirteen "I suspect that, in the end, sorcery will be the most economical method...either through great rituals, or through demon summoning."

Thirteen "Mm."

Cerin "That way, we could impart both power and guidance on how it should be used."

Thirteen "Any physical object has the problem of being controllable by powers who wish others harm."

Cerin "Demons are no different in that respect, and I am not sure we can trust them, even bound."

Cerin "We do not, I feel, wish for the yozi to know of this plan in detail."

Thirteen "Mm."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Cerin "Birds can write texts that can only be read by certain individuals. Perhaps this could be applied to only those of the nature we wish to Exalt."

Cerin "The dishonest man would literally be unable to comprehend them."

Thirteen taps the palm of his hand on the table, lightly, but with force enough to be heard.

Thirteen "If you speak of those we will Exalt as paragons of ourselves, I had suspected we would choose them in person."

Thirteen "If you speak of the general preparation of humanity for society, then we cannot discriminate in doing so, else we have abandoned our aims before beginning."

Cerin "Then we can write simple texts that any might understand."

Cerin "The written solution, assuming it will work, is as flexible as the written word itself."

Thirteen "I suspect that if Kai were here, she would remind you that even the written word has some limitations."

Cerin "I am not claiming it is perfect, merely flexible. Anyway, this bears no small amount of consideration. Of both the hows and the whys and, indeed, the wherefores."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Cerin **-both

Thirteen "I am pleased, though, to find that you both share my desire."

Birds "Let us consider, on the way to Wasirru."

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