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Phoenix finds Zahara tending the flowers in the courtyard. "Hi, Zee."

zahara looks up, brushing her hands off. "Phoenix of Ashes." she greets her, and picks up the five-petaled flower, all red. "What can I do for you?" Her tone is neutral, but not unfriendly.

Phoenix adjusts her new hat. "Two things! First, I'd like your opinion about my new outfit, and second, I'd like to know what's on your mind. Don't think I can't tell you're a little out of sorts."

Phoenix is dressed in a simply-cut white jacket and narrw skirt, each with a wide border of interlinked golden rings and tiny Caste marks arranged in floral patterns. Five enormous pheasant plumes erupt from her hat and hang nearly to the ground.

zahara moves to a bench and sits down. "Your fashion sense is, as always, amazing." She twirls the flower between her fingers and her voice grows a bitter edge. "As for what is on my mind, I am getting rather sick of people trying to steal the power that I have earned. I expected it from my enemies, but not from my friends."

Phoenix "Thank you! It is a version of the new diplomatic uniform I'm developing."

Phoenix sits in the grass. "Steal your power? I don't understand."

Phoenix "The rank-and-file doesn't get as many feathers."

zahara "I am not sure the rank and file could walk properly with such plumage." She looks darkly in the direction of their last 'meeting.' "Your predecessor and I, along with Markuran, built this empire. From the ground up, uniting the people, paving the roads, establishing the laws. I do not take kindly to anyone giving me permission to continue my rule. I need no ones permission." Phoenix winds some dry twigs into a wreath and hangs bunches of berries from it before putting it on her head, for a moment relinquishing the magnificent hat with a sigh. "Go on..."

zahara "I can only assume Thirteen gave the position of Eclipse to Imrama specifically to hurt me. He is a fine Eclipse, but we have only known him for just over a month. His immediate dissolution of the perfect circle is too little, too late, and from the wrong man. There are two kinds of war, Phoenix of Ashes."

Phoenix raises one perfectly groomed eyebrow, underlined with a stroke of gold dust. "Perhaps."

Phoenix "I would like to believe his motives are pure, or at the least, free of malice."

Phoenix "Perhaps this is a flaw I inherited with my spirit, but I do tend to think that of people, until they lead me to think otherwise."

zahara runs her fingers through her hair, tying it back in a rather functional tail. She is no longer wearing the cloth of ash robes, nor is she covering her skin with bandages of Love, though she does have one long, undamaged one around her neck as a scarf to complement the dark crimson dress she is wearing. "Pure to him, perhaps."

Phoenix "I for one am in favor of the circle's dissolution, as a step toward a more egalitarian system of governance. There can be no uprising when no one is set above."

zahara "There has already been one."

Phoenix "Do you mean to imply that you considered yourself ruler over the circle as well as over the mortal constituency?" Phoenix carefully balances tones of amusement and confusion.

zahara "I mean to imply that when leadership is called for, I am the one who people turned to."

Phoenix "Ah. Yes, that seems to be how the epics went."

zahara looks at her icily. "I have much to tend to, if you're quite finished."

Phoenix twirls a lock of hair in her fingers, thinking. "There -was- an other thing."

zahara "What?" she asks flatly.

Phoenix "Oh, just something I wanted your advice about, probably nothing important...I can't recall just now, so don't worry about it. I'll just go check the library when it comes to me. Have a good afternoon, Zahara."

zahara "I'm sure I will."

Phoenix straightens her hat, punches the air, and runs up a tree trunk into one of the upstairs windows.

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