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Phoenix arrives at Iallu's door in state, borne by four attendants. They set her down and two of them knock at the door.

alsoquin A few moments go by withount response, though some sort of vague crashing sounds can be heard deep within the Temple

Phoenix gestures, and the attendants knock again.

alsoquin A few more moments pass by without response, and then the door swings open. (...)

alsoquin Behind the door is a large, shaggy tiger, who looks at the attendants for a few moments, then walks curiously over to sniff Phoenix's box.

Phoenix pushes back the curtain a bit to greet the tiger.

alsoquin Nibbles licks her hand excitedly, and then runs off into the depths of the library to fetch his mommy.

alsoquin After a few moments, Iallu, looking frazzled as ever, comes to the front door and looks at the strange array of individuals sitting in front of her house with increduilty. She turns to one attendant and begins to speak. "Hello? What is it? I don't want any, but tell me what it is anyway."

Phoenix emerges from the sedan chair. "I am here to deliver the last offering of Birds-of-Trinity."

alsoquin /me looks surprised as she looks at the woman in front of her -- Birds, and yet -- not Birds. "What are you talking about?"

Phoenix takes a look at Iallu. "You might want to sit down for this."

alsoquin summons up a chair from the ether and sits down quietly.

Phoenix waves away the attendants and drops her courtly poise. She seems to shrink. Her feet touch the ground. "Birds-of-Trinity is no more. She ended her life with the assistance of Bitter Elm on an island in the distant West."

Phoenix "I bear Birds-of-Trinity's shard and I am here to settle her accounts and honour her memory."

alsoquin looks at Phoenix for a few moments, and her purple faceted eyes blink twice.

alsoquin After a few moments, she finally gets a response out: "What?"

Phoenix winces. "I was really hoping I wouldn't have to tell this story again. Can you be more specific about what you would like my clarification on?"

alsoquin blinks again.

alsoquin "Forget it. I'll dig it up later." She waves a hand in the air. "I hope this wasn't to spite me. I'm feeling a little bit spited right now. Do you drink tea, mysterious not-Birds-of-Trinity-person?"

Phoenix "Oh! Excuse me, my manners are execrable. Phoenix of Ashes, at your service. I would love some tea, thank you."

alsoquin "Nibbles! Tea time!"

Phoenix "I want to reassure you that it wasn't to spite you. Apparently there was some crisis of self-identity that Birds had to deal with by...becoming me."

alsoquin beckons through the air, and her newly conjured chair flies over to a convenient tea table, where she sits just as Nibbles brings over a brimming teapot. "That's... odd. And irksome! I have a whole backlog of ritual observances I was hoping she would perform." She pours herself a cup. "So, 'Phoenix of Ashes.' What have you come here for, exactly?"

Phoenix "Well, to inform you, and to consult with you."

Phoenix "I could not leave you bereft a priestess, but I am concerned that I'm not the right person for the job. I'd like to understand your needs better, and maybe we can work out some different, mutually profitable arrangement."

Phoenix "Also to deliver you these." In an intricately folded paper box, she offers thirteen tiny scrolls.

alsoquin carefully opens the box. She shuts one eye while opening the other extra-wide and examines the scrolls closely.

Phoenix They are the thirteen secrets that symbolised Birds-of-Trinity's priesthood.

alsoquin conjures up a handkerchief and dabs at one eye in an almost parodic emulation of human upsetness.

alsoquin Iallu stares at the box for a few moments without saying anything else; then, quietly: "You said something about a new... arrangement."

Phoenix nods gravely.

Phoenix "I'd like to know what you'd like to accomplish in the world."

alsoquin "Well." She pets Nibble's huge, carnivorous head absent-mindedly.

alsoquin "There are a lot of secrets that have been lost so thoroughly that they aren't even important any more, you know?"

Phoenix "I am beginning to believe that, yes."

alsoquin "I think that needs to change."

Phoenix "What does that...entail?"

Phoenix leans forward with genuine interest.

alsoquin "Dredge things up. Bring them back into the world. Let everyone know that the very fact that they were hidden is what made them powerful and desirable. The apotheosis of secritude."

Phoenix sips her tea, and nods with approval. "I can see what my ancestress found appealing about you."

Phoenix "Here is something."

Phoenix stirs her tea, even though it doesn't need stirring. "I am in the process of assembling a covert diplomatic corps. That is, an army of spies."

alsoquin raises an eyebrow. "You... don't say."

Phoenix "I know that this isn't exactly in alignment with your goal, but I would like to work with you, if you find it pleasing. You have skills that no mortal can ever rival, and I can move openly in the world."

Phoenix "It is beneath your dignity to be a spymaster, of course, but perhaps you'd be willing to teach? I would be more than pleased to offer you your choice of spies to act as your priests in addition to their regular duties. It would be an honour to them."

alsoquin "That is... a very exciting idea!" Nibbles purrs in agreement.

Phoenix "I am so glad you agree."

Phoenix stands up. "By your leave, I'll be going home. I'm expected. But I hope you'll think about it, and when the corps takes shape, I will send an emissary and we'll make an appointment to meet."

alsoquin "That sounds like a plan... Phoenix." She stands up as well.

Phoenix bows, and resumes courtly manner. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Iallu. We'll meet again on less surprising occasions, I'm sure."

alsoquin "Yes. It was a... pleasure meeting you, too." She pauses for a moment. "Phoenix?"

Phoenix smiles. "Phoenix."

Phoenix "Oh, one last thing! I nearly forgot."

alsoquin "Yes?"

Phoenix dives into the sedan chair and pulls out a little brown-paper package. "Candied quinces and cherry brandy from Chiaroscuro."

alsoquin "Oooh!"

Phoenix "Zahara said you like fancy foods."

alsoquin "I do indeed. Thank you." She pinches Phoenix's cheek gently. "You're sweet."

Phoenix gives Iallu a funny look, and then kicks the ground a little. "Thanks...for not getting mad. I have to go now."

Phoenix gets into her chair and draws the curtains.

alsoquin nods. "Thanks for stopping by."