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Imrama rounds a bookcase and is nearly out of the library, when he encounters ->

Thirteen walks into the library, shaking his head, and nearly bumps into Imrama.

Thirteen "Ah. Hello, Imrama."

Imrama "Hello, Thirteen Blooming Flowers. If you are in the library, it is probably for a reason; might I walk and speak with you while you're here?"

Thirteen "If you wish. Undoubtedly you have come to the Sunlands seeking some sort of aid. It would be as well to know what we will need to provide in advance."

Thirteen begins to walk briskly among the stacks, occasionally selecting a volume and swallowing it.

Imrama "It is true, I came to your capital in search of something, though I would describe it less as aid than as alliance."

Thirteen "Oh?"

Imrama 's eyes widen at the swallowing, but out of courtesy, he refrains from comment.

Imrama "You are the chief military authority in the Sunlands - much of what I have to say has applicability to your office:

Imrama "I am here, in part, to offer the Sunlands the possibility of air power that hasn't been seen in Creation since the last age. It cannot be built over night, but with the resources and industrial potential that I already know you have, the first ships could be built within a few years time."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "We have, of course, airships already, but as yet have not pursued the capacity for further production."

Thirteen "How do you propose to accelerate the development period?"

Imrama "My father needs a home, Thirteen. If the Sunlands will take him in as an honored ally, he will provide the knowledge necessary to resurrect long lost wonders of flight, bless newly built factory cathedrals and construct a new system for controling aerial transit throughout Creation."

Thirteen "And who is your father?"

Imrama "His name is Vanileth, his title of the First Age is the Shogun of Artificial Flight."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "I suppose your use of the word 'father' is relatively ornamental."

Imrama "Vanileth found me when I was an infant, and raised me to majority - he is the only father I have."

Thirteen "What occurred, that you were left to die as a child?"

Imrama looks away, his face grim and sorrowful. "I do not know."

Thirteen "You have not investigated?"

Thirteen "Where did he find you?"

Imrama "Not far from his hermitage, on a rarely used traderoute."

Imrama "When I was younger, I had no opportunity to investigate, and since taking the second breath, I have spent nearly every moment following the urgings of my new memories, uncovering the story of the previous owner of my shard."

Imrama "I am interested in my personal past, of course, but the present has a way of demanding priority, as I'm sure you can understand."

Thirteen "Indeed."

Thirteen "And who was the previous owner of your shard, and what were his goals, that he left to you?"

Imrama "His name was Askaru, once-time Eclipse of the Deliberative's Perfect Circle and Admiral of the Transcendant Armada."

Imrama "He tried to save the world, and failed. He tried to build a new one, and failed again. I have taken up where he left off."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen takes a book off the shelf, pauses, and replaces it, taking the one next to it.

Thirteen "I find I have a moment to spare."

Thirteen "Tell me of Askaru and his plans and their failure."

Imrama "Askaru served on the Perfect Circle against his nature - he was more of a ship's officer and explorer than a politician. Askaru was married to one of the Chosen of the Maidens.

Imrama "His beloved shared with him a dark and terrible portent, and he sought to avert the doom that was destined for the Circle, the Deliberative, for the Age itself. The quest took him far from Meru, across the planes, and in his absence, the Circle was broken.

Imrama "Are the details of the collapse of the old Deliberative familiar to you?"

Thirteen "Let us suppose that they are not."

Imrama "The members of the Perfect Circle were varriably corrupted, subverted posessed or otherwise led into mass murder and betrayal of their charges and friends.

Thirteen "Do you have any more specific information on what occurred? And where did you come by this knowledge?"

Thirteen "Also, it occurs to me to inquire as to which category Askaru belongs in."

Imrama "Askaru was absent during the tribulations - he returned to find the world he had sought to save already in mid-collapse. He and the other surviving, unexhiled member of the Perfect Circle, Black Iris, attempted to hold the Realm together for a time...

Imrama "But a ban had fallen into place, preventing the rebirth of Solar shards. Askaru and a few others became despondant at the depths to which their fellows sunk, faced with the grim prospect that their kind were coming to an end."

Imrama "He took a group of officers and their families and attempted to found a new nation in the uttermost North. They knew some peace, for a brief time, and then the walls holding back the Wyld receeded, and Creation shrunk to its present dimensions. Their keep was protected against the Wyld, but there was no source of food to support the community. Askaru gave the order to pass out the hemlock to the civilian population,

Imrama and he and his officers fell on their swords.

Imrama "I know this because I have been to that keep, I have walked among the dust and bones of the nation that died in infancy, I have read Askaru's journal, and I have remembered the act of writing it, when what is in me now was once in him."

Thirteen "Hm."

Thirteen "And what was this portent, that he sought to avert?"

Imrama "The coming of the ban. The net by which all Solar shards would be prevented from re-entering the world."

Thirteen "And his beloved's name?"

Imrama "Remembrance of Seven Tears"

Thirteen "Tell me. Does that journal speak of what Askaru thought of his fellow Circlemates?"

Thirteen "I have heard that there were three others -- Rosada, Kiriath, and Ymir."

Imrama "Once all friends, by each betrayed. Rosada served the Neverborn in secret, Kiriath was posessed by an infernal force, and Ymir...Askaru had the greatest sorrow for Ymir."

Imrama "She became a murderer, without rhymn or reason, and fled out among the planes."

Imrama "And you, Thirteen, do you know who you were, before?"

Thirteen "He who came before me was known as Wei Dan."

Thirteen "Diplomatic alliances of the type you propose are more in Zahara's line. However, I cannot deny the advantages of being aided by a god such as Vanileth."

Imrama "Wei Dan?" Imrama's tone becomes much, brighter than during his story.

Thirteen "Yes. Have you heard of him?"

Imrama "In Askaru's journal. When Wei Dan deigned to entertain him, Askaru would consult the wanderer on matters of strategy for the Realms defense."

Thirteen "Unsurprising. Wei Dan was the premiere tactician of his time, just as I am."

Imrama "In his final entry, Askaru mentioned the last plan that Wei Dan ever discussed with him - that he had promised to follow it, but found it terribly hard to do so."

Thirteen "Oh?"

Imrama looks over Thirteen's shoulder, reciting something that he has memorized by heart. "We have lost so much in this holding action of his, I feel as if I am almost broken. But I swore to trust the wanderer unto the end of the world, and I go now to fulfill that promise.'"

Thirteen "But he does not report the details of the plan?"

Thirteen "His next act is suicide."

Imrama "Never - that is the only mention I could find in the journal. But that book was written only after he had been away from the capital several years."

Imrama "Yes."

Thirteen "How curious."

Thirteen "Thank you for your knowledge, Imrama. This has been a most productive conversation."

Thirteen "I will discuss what you have told me with Zahara."

Thirteen "Perhaps another time you may enlighten me as to the details of Askaru's quest to prevent the ban."

Imrama "Thank you also, Thirteen Blooming Flowers - I am glad to know just a little more of one of my new compatriots." Imrama claps Thirteen on the shoulder, looks deeply into where his eyes are not, and then leaves him in the library.

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