Cerin There was the sound of a footstep on the gravel and then Cerin was obviously within the garden, seating himself next to Zahara. "So, now that we have saved Creation, at least this once, what are we to do?"
Zahara looks up and smiles at Cerin, "That does seem to be the question doesn't it? I would prefer a nice long vacation, but there are still threats everywhere. Your reports, and Belladonna's, both spoke of some disturbing items that we must at the very least look into."
Lucent walks in, being uncharacteristically adult, yawning and stretching discreely "Disturbing?"
imrama puffs thoughtfully away on his long-stemmed pipe, leaning back in his chair and cupping his chin in one hand. Disturbing, intriguing, promising. Much that is new and strange is afoot in Creation.
Lucent "Oh, and good morning!"
Phoenix is also in the garden already, pruning the trees. They have gone too long in the hands of less-capable gardeners.
Cerin inclines his head to greet Lucent "Yes, Lucent. Disturbing and yet, interesting."
Lucent nods in return "Do tell!"
Zahara "There is also much more land exposed, and new Exalts to learn about."
Lucent "The True Dragons. That was indeed fascinating..."
Cerin provides a brief precis of the many and interesting things they have learnt have come to light within the period of Calilbration.
Lucent "I have been thinking about the old Exalted, myself."
Zahara looks to Lucent
Lucent "Well, one not-interesting part is that shor... er, Laquen has taken over Lookshy, right?" He points on a map. "So many undead by the Sunlands' gate, no checks and balances, and all of that?"
Lucent "And see, I have been thinking about ways to help Glimpse," He points at his caste mark, with its black crescent, "Especially since Imrama found out he may have something to do with our misfortunes."
Lucent "Do you remember the symbols on the Manse? The caste mark of the old Netheos-Exalted?"
Zahara "Ah yes, I have been considering looking into that myself. Yes, I do."
Lucent "They were the Exalted of Pluto, Lord of Netheos. I never met them myself, they were just a more... common tale, back then. Those days, people don't even remember them anymore. Something happenned to him... and to them. I have seen when Glimpse died... he crashed into the Underworld. It was terrible."
Lucent "I have no idea what happenned to Pluto, but I am pretty sure he has been destroyed in that. He was the lord of Netheos, before it was the Underworld. He gave it peace, he gave it order. I think... if we could re-create him, maybe they could have peace."
Cerin "To make a God ... an Incarna..." Cerin muses.
Zahara nods slowly, "That sounds like an intriguing plan."
Lucent "It was a museum, before. Even if he could not let them die... they would be honored, the Underworld would not be cold and tragic anymore, but a place of solemn, calm sleep for them. That, and if him coming into being would bring the Shadeborn back... then we would have a group of Exalted to serve as check to the Abyssals, on their own turf."
Phoenix scratches letters in the dirt. "I have added it to the to-do list."
imrama "Let's not discount the fact that an unkown, though certainly large, number of the leading members of the Terrestrial courts are trapped in Heaven a long with the totality of the Celestial Bureaucracy. That seems like something that we'll probably have to deal with."
Lucent "Is it written as 'make an Incarna'? It sounds better that way!"
Zahara "Ah yes. I imagine that those that remained behind are affiliated with the Lily."
Zahara "or, many of them at least."
Lucent "But the Lily is gone, right? Lai died. Thirteen killed him."
Phoenix "Not to be flippant, but I suspect that if we leave them to their own devices they will find their way out eventually."
Zahara "Their leaders are certainly gone, but their cause may not yet be."
Phoenix "Heaven is well-populated with capable entities."
Thirteen "For now." Thirteen walks in from the other end of the garden.
Lucent "The Celestial Bureaucracy would help us institute the new deliberative, however!"
imrama "Yet pieces of it remain: Great Forks, Harborhead, the Haslanti;" Imrama spits. With an icy intonation: "Akuna." Imrama spits, twice."
Lucent "Harborhead... you fought Ahlat before, right? Before my time?"
imrama "Phoenix - true, but it may also represent an...opportunity."
Zahara cracks her knuckles at the mention of Akuna.
Thirteen "I am not sure we are as yet prepared to conquer Heaven. We may need some slight additional preparation."
Zahara "He is another threat that I had hoped to face shortly. Though I had hoped to gain resources in this war."
Cerin "Akuna." Cerin does not spit, he shakes his head just a little, though his voice is cold. "Ahlat, yes, we have fought him before, though he fled before we could finish the fight."
Lucent "Gain..." He ponders. "... the Lily has an infraestructure without a clear leader now, right? If you could take down faction heads..."
Thirteen "Have you had the opportunity to spend much time in the Solar Sorcery room of the Imperial Manse, Zahara?"
Zahara "No, though returning there was also near the top of my list of things to do."
imrama "It may not even be necessary to 'take down' some of them, Lucent. With the Lily's gambit a failure, and its true agenda laid bare, I would expect that many of its former contributors would be open to renewed dialogue and the promise of cooperation."
Thirteen "Especially given our offer of a share in the reestablished Deliberative."
Lucent "Hmmm, true. So, open negotiations with most of their more harmless factions?" He ponders, looking away from them, "I don't think anyone here wishes to negotiate with Akuna or Ahlat..."
Zahara closes her fist. "No."
imrama "Akuna is born to die. He chose that path, and there's no shortage of will and means in this company to see that he reaches his destination."
Cerin "Akuna will die. Perhaps we should talk of things that still need to be decided?"
Thirteen "We stand now as the replacement to the Peace of the Realm, the best alternative to chaos."
imrama "But I think there is some possibility of detante with Ahlat. He is still a being determined by his spiritual nature, and therefore capable of behaving reasonably, within a certain set of parameters."
Thirteen "It is time for us to gather to our banner the Exalts and Hundredfold we have hitherto left to their own devices."
imrama "Here, here!"
Phoenix "Then let us subdivide them and each take a group to subdue, or parlay, or otherwise convert as we will."
Zahara "Indeed, Imrama. As much as Ahlat has been a thorn in our collective side, I would rather not have to deal with the shards of his portfolio"
Thirteen "I had actually anticipated letting them come to us, Phoenix."
Lucent "If we want to control, we need Fate on our side." He nods. "Getting the Knights of the Chrysanthemum to give us full access to their knowledge, divinations and aid would be a good start for that."
Thirteen "Sooner or later, to hold back the tide of undead, fae, disaffected rebels, monstrosities from beyond the world, and so forth, they will need to seek out protectors of their own volition."
Phoenix "That is fine too."
Phoenix "I suppose I could wash my hair while we wait."
Thirteen "We will need to recall Ikara from her position."
Thirteen "Luckily, I believe I know of a recently displaced ruler who will no doubt be pleased to receive a new portfolio."
Zahara "At this moment, Imrama's ship is the only way to go between planes."
Phoenix putters some more in the garden. Hm. We need more dead leaves in this heap.
Lucent "We already have the Dragon-Blooded at our side, together with the first of the True Dragons. The Abyssal serve the Deathlords, and from what I understand of their very origins, I don't think we should make any true deal with them. At all." He nods. "They are spite incarnate."
Lucent "That leaves the Lunars."
imrama "Thirteen - I concede your logic to a certain degree, but I think that a targeted diplomatic offensive, to acquire the cooperation of some of the more prominent nations, would ultimately serve the interest of a larger policy of waiting to be approached by the 10,000 nations."
Phoenix "The Lunars can be left to gnaw their own tails as they have been for endless generations. It makes no difference."
Zahara "That reminds me, I have to destroy one of the Deathlords."
Thirteen "Does it matter which one?"
Zahara "Yes, actually." She gives the name of Ebon Blade of Vengeance's Deathlord.
Lucent "I'd prefer Laquen was just humilliated. We go way back."
imrama "I will mention now, because there has been little opportunity before this very moment, that when I visited Ikara before the eclipse, she declared that she saw no hope in attempting to impose an outside government on Xara in the long term."
Phoenix "What's the cause of that, Imm?"
Zahara "Ah, I see. That makes sense."
Thirteen "Of course not. Occupied peoples rarely appreciate their state."
Phoenix "How long is a term? At times one is inclined to look forward no farther than one's demise."
imrama "I point it out only because Ikara would presumably welcome a repreive from a duty she does not believe can be accomplished, and because if the responsibility was to be handed to someone else, I would want us to know what we were consigning them to."
imrama "Ikara has already given up on direct rule, and seemed to think that even indirect influence could not last more than a season or so."
Lucent "So, we need an inside government? That angry little girl who hated the Empress seemed a little angry at the Roseblack and wanting her position... maybe she will be a little more amiable to having Xara? She doesn't scheme against our pawn, and inter-plane warfare is tricky enough as it was..."
Thirteen "Indeed, Lucent, Mnemnon is the very person I had in mind. I doubt she will be particularly concerned with the instability of her position."
Thirteen "Moreover, it will free us of potential domestic instability."
Thirteen "Imrama, if you feel diplomacy is the best use of your time at this juncture I of course support you."
imrama "Thank you, Thirteen Blooming Flowers. As our resident General Tactician, do you have any particular plans for the season just begun? As always, I and the Fable am at your service."
Thirteen "I will need your assistance to retrieve Ikara."
Thirteen "Otherwise, I find myself most concerned with the unidentifiable presence near the southeast of Creation."
Thirteen "I hope it is apparent why."
Phoenix "I find the aforementioned presence interesting as well."
Phoenix tranquilly arranges tree branches so they they cast shadows shaped like dancing men.
Phoenix squints, and jostles the tree precisely. The men turn into bears.