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Zahara pauses in front of Birds' door for a full minute, running her thumb over the small key, before knocking.

Birds opens the door.

Birds "Zee."

Zahara "Hi..." she looks at Birds. "Can I come in?"

Birds looks quizzical. "Of course, love." She leads her into the lounge and collapses on one of the beds.

Zahara smiles a little, and follows her in, looking a bit worse for the wear. She closes the door behind her, and unwinds the bandages from her face with a sigh of relief. "Sometimes Thirteen's plans are painful." She holds out the key.

Birds takes the key and hangs it back around her neck with the others. "painful." If it is possible to speak in lowercase letters, then Birds has done it.

Zahara "The things everyone said, they felt real." She sits on a bed, curling her legs beneath her. "... are you okay?"

Birds The windows are still open and the room is a little cold. Birds puts on a kettle over the fire before huddling next to Zee in a heap of quilts. "Sort of."

Birds "I'm just...worried and upset, is all."

Zahara nods, and shifts to be closer, "About which part?"

Birds "About Luc and what happened to him, and about Cerin and what he's up to, and wondering about Marku, and how I miss the earth and the sky..."

Birds "Is Tanty around? I miss him."

Zahara sighs a little. "Everyone has changed. I wish I could ease your worries, but..." she trails off. "Yes," she smiles. "He, at least, is the same." She whistles, and after a few minutes, Tanty appears, digging claws into the windowsill to peer inside.

Birds goes to the window and pets the manticore. He's fuzzy! "Mm. I know...it's just all this WAITING. I know everything will sort itself out..."

Birds "But I want it now."

Zahara "Me too... but I... I don't know what will happen when we meet them."

Birds chews on the corner of a quilt.

Zahara "I don't want to have to kill them." she says quietly.

Birds "Whatever happens, I don't think we'll have a choice about that."

Birds looks sad.

Zahara touches her arm gently. "We'll find another way."

Birds makes a halfhearted shrug, almost unnoticeable under the blankets, and goes to pour tea.

Birds "No."

Birds "We'll make another way."

Zahara wraps the blankets round herself more tightly, then looks up, as Birds speaks. "Make another way?"

Birds "We are Chosen of the Sun, after all. We do not have to wait for roads to be opened for us."

Birds "If our brothers are problematic, we will solve them."

Zahara smiles. "I had thought, maybe, a spell could help to drive out the darkness in Markuran, maybe, to trap it in the Grim Reminder. But I do not know exactly what happened to Cerin yet, and so I cannot make a plan for him."

Birds settles back down next to Zee and picks at a loose thread in one of the blankets. "I'd like to see the spell, in diagram, if you have one. Don't worry too much about Cerin. Love endures."

Zahara "Love," she says bitterly, "hurts. I am not sure I like it anymore." She pulls out a piece of paper, and starts to sketch.

Birds watches over Zee's shoulder.

Zahara "Is it terrible of me to wish I didn't feel pain for others, again?" She asks quietly, crumpling up the first drawing and starting on another.

Birds "No."

Birds "I think you should abandon pain forever, if you can."

Zahara nods, staring at the drawing. "do you want to?"

Zahara "The only reason I haven't done it, is that it seems like it would be admitting defeat. Letting Tevezst win."

Zahara "that...and... Cerin. But he loved me, once, when I didn't know how to feel."

Birds "I don't think we can. It's like breath...in, out, pain, joy."

Birds "But if we can learn to hold our breath, that is something."

Zahara reaches out with her mind to Birds, letting her feel what it was like, when she could not.

Birds immerses herself in the feeling, examining it from all angles.

Zahara "Markuran found it horrifying."

Birds "Yes...he would. I am not sure I like it. It's...uncomfortable."

Zahara "It has its own peace."

Birds nods.

Zahara toys with the blanket, "I don't know. Holding my breath might be enough."

Birds "It's better than having your heart maimed again."

Zahara "Do you think so?"

Zahara "It doesn't hurt so badly, as you might think."

Birds "Not hurting, but...something wrong."

Birds "You couldn't hurt, of course, if your capacity for pain were taken away."

Birds "But what other functions does that part of your spirit have?"

Zahara sighs a little, "I suppose you're right. To me, this... feeling, feels wrong. Different. Uncomfortable. Even joy and love, without the pain, feel so strange."

Birds nods. "Because it is so different than before?"

Zahara nods. "Yes, that's exactly it... and I had not stopped to consider what other functions it could have..." she frowns thoughtfully.

Birds "I imagine there's an anatomy of the human emotional apparatus somewhere in the library, if we cared to look. But it's not important."

Zahara sips her tea. She goes back to drawing her diagram.

Birds "Is that a--? You're..." Birds trails off in curious murmurings.

Birds "You've really refined your technique, I see."

Zahara smiles a little, though her eyes do not reflect it. "Yes, I can't see everything like Cerin could, but I remember the pathways that he showed me. And I've been getting a lot of practice designing things... This was all I thought about for a few days when... I had nothing else to do."

Birds That is a diplomatic way of saying that, Birds thinks to herself. "Mhm."

Zahara "Markuran is still in there. He's not lost completely."

Zahara flexes her fingers.

Birds "I don't know what to feel about that."

Zahara "As arrogant, bullheaded, stupid, and annoying as he was, I miss him."

Birds nods.

Zahara shudders a little. "Sometimes, at least." She goes back to drawing, very intently.

Zahara finishes, and looks up at Birds, noting absently the necklace she's wearing, and something clicks. "Birds, do you have the necklace I gave you before I left?"

Birds picks up the spell and examines it carefully. It takes a little while to process. "Yes, here..."

Birds She digs through some things to find a silk bag.

Zahara plucks her amulet from her robes, and examines it thoughtfully.

Birds "Here it is."

Zahara shifts her vision into the realm of Essence, and cautiously threads the necklace through the amulet. "Thank you."

Zahara fiddles with it a bit, then puts it on. "Odd."

Birds "Hm?"

Zahara "For something I've gotten so many portentious omens about, this seems to do very little. But, it will be useful anyway."

Birds nods.

Zahara "Maybe there are more pieces missing, still."

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