alsoquin Upon the deck of Imrama's fabulous sunship, the Solars near the point at which they can enter the realm of Xara.
Imrama 's voice echoes clearly and politely throughout the ship. "All hands and guests: we are on final approach the the City of Utmost Order."
Thirteen raises an eyebrow, and puts down his Gateway piece. "Ah. Would you like to watch as we approach your new bailiwick, Mnemnon?"
Mnemon steps out and adopts a pose, studied for centuries to look casual and tossed-off. "I suppose."
Thirteen waves for a servant to clean up the game and heads out to the deck himself.
Mnemon The swirling chaos that is the Seven Leagues surrounds and envelops the vessel.
Mnemon moves to the bow and looks over it, unconcerned.
Imrama And then, in a blossoming of golden rain, the Fable of the Reconstruction bursts into the sky over the capital city of the nation-plane of Xara. Members of the sunlight crew play on pan-pipes and beat timbrels in celebration of arrival.
Mnemon The glorious geometrical shapes and satellites spin in an intricate and beauteous dance, just as they always have in the world of Xara. (...)
Mnemon On the ground below, however, things are somewhat different from Thirteen's last visit here: what seem to be shantytowns and familiar secreted insectoid structures, as well as the beginnings of other, more permanent settlements, dot the once barren landscape between the geometric cities.
Thirteen "There goes the neighborhood."
Mnemon scans over everything from horizon to horizon, and an unreadable, distant look passes over her face.
Thirteen "Traditionally, Mnemnon, an incoming ruler prepares a few pithy, more or less sarcastic remarks, that the people around them may be impressed by their courage and quick wit."
Mnemon scoffs. "My courage and quick wit speak quite eloquently for themselves."
Imrama "Forgive me for pointing out, Lady: one's wit cannot speak for itself when it is not employed."
Imrama Steering down through the spinning geometric shapes that stand in for clouds here, Imrama brings the ship to dock at the highest spire of Ikara's palace.
Mnemon mumbles something about being 'employed' in her slave dungeons but is otherwise quiet.
Mnemon The Fivefold Palace, from the outside at least, appears quite undisturbed from its state under the previous regime,
Mnemon though the careful order of the city surrounding it appears to have been replaced with a certain self-organizing chaos, with little open-air markets, artistic performances, makeshift shrines, and games of chance and skill all roiling in the streets.
Thirteen "How spontaneous."
Thirteen taps his spear against the edge of the palace, and it rings like a bell.
Mnemon looks over the palace. "So...... shall we?"
Thirteen "You may do as you like. I am waiting for the reception committee I just requested."
Mnemon There is a brief delay, but eventually, a reception party of assorted Lineages arrives, clad in what appear to be freshly-tailored uniforms of neutral colors.
Mnemon The party includes one Bone Dagger King, looking somewhat out-of-place in its tailored uniform, and is headed by one of the insectoid Hrak.
Thirteen "The God-King of Wassiru and the Captain of the Fable of the Reconstruction, being representatives of the Deliberative of Exalted Beings, request immediate audience with the Regent of Xara."
Mnemon The Hrak nods. "Come this way, o excellencies," and turns to lead on into the palace.
Mnemon coughs loudly.
Thirteen hawks up a handkerchief and hands it politely to Mnemnon as he follows the Hrak.
Mnemon takes it without a word.
Mnemon Imrama notices, as they walk, that the Bone Dagger King they walk with keeps looking at Thirteen, though with its alien face the nature of its glance is opaque to him.
Imrama ::General - how wary ought we to be of the company of the blood enemies of your people that you so recently banished to this world?::
Thirteen ::I had them in the palm of my hand, and I could have destroyed them utterly, and I let them live.::
Thirteen ::If they perceive this, they will not be a danger to us.::
Thirteen ::If they do not, they will not be a danger to us for long.::
Imrama ::Let us be attentive to the job of measuring their capacity for perception, then.::
Thirteen ::I will follow your lead in this matter, Captain.::
Mnemon The group leads on until they arrive in the throne chamber, where, in partial darkness, Ikara sits.
Thirteen The darkness is illuminated as Thirteen walks in, since he is more or less always glowing, although less than before.
Mnemon The escort party splits in two, and each side moves to one side of the throne and sit at readiness.
Thirteen glances at Imrama.
Mnemon sizes up the woman she has come here to replace.
Imrama "Regent Ikara, we bring greetings from Meru, where the Third Age of Humanity has just begun. How fares Xara?"
Mnemon Ikara rises very slightly in her seat, though her face remains slightly downcast and her expression unreadable. "Xara begins its own new age, a society unlike that which stood before. It... ends, yet continues."
Imrama "I am sure that you have grown fond of it in your time here. You have ever spoken to me with concern for this plane and its people. But we have come today to offer you a chance to return to your home. Much has changed in Meru. There are many new things I believe you would like to see for yourself."
Mnemon "My home?" Ikara stands. "My home is in ashes." She walks over towards the Solars, ignoring Mnemon for the moment. "What is it that you think I would wish to see?"
Imrama "Too many things to name. But I would begin by saying that I have recently come upon clues to the location of the missing Orrery."
Mnemon Ikara looks suddenly interested. "....how?"
Imrama "A deathbed confession from one of those who stole it. We two," Imrama indicates 13, "And our company are interested in unraveling what remains of that mystery, recovering the Orrery, and bringing the thieves and murderers responsible to justice. We thought you might share some of that interest."
Mnemon Ikara reaches for her belt and draws out the sword Destiny's Price in one swift motion. "One might say that."
Mnemon looks vaguely irritated.
Imrama "Ikara, this is the Lady Mnemon. She is a leader of people in need of a constituency. We have brought her here to Xara to resolve this contradiction."
Mnemon Ikara nods politely. "I know all about Mnemon," she says, to a visible look of surprise from Mnemon.
Imrama "Excellent, then I will not digress further. We each have much to do, I am sure: two of us in Meru and one of us in Xara. Ikara, a place of honor is prepared for you aboard the Fable."
Mnemon Ikara speaks. "Good, good." She walks over to join the Solars. "Hmmm, yes," she mutters under her breath. "That would fit with..." Her voice trails off to inaudibility.
Mnemon seems a little nonplussed, but eventually walks over and seats herself firmly on the throne. "Hmmm." She turns to the assemblage who led the group in. "I, Mnemon, am now the ruler of this place." She leans forward. "Tell me of yourselves...."
Ikara follows the Solars back out to the ship, taking a moment to leave any Xaran garments and items behind.
Ikara Once on board, she seems to... not relax, exactly, but perhaps let loose the burden of governance.
Imrama prepares his pipe with some of his finest leaf and offers it to Ikara. "May I ask, Ikara Ji'thala, what inscrutable secret about Mnemon you were observing and remarked on in the palace earlier?"
Ikara "Oh," she says as she accepts Imrama's offer. "We followed Mnemon quite closely for... quite some time." She seats herself in a fashion occupying a very small amount of space.
Ikara "This would appear to resolve several indicators towards an unusual departure and an assumption of unexpected leadership."
Imrama "Good, then, that we could set her on a course that fits such ordination."
Ikara nods. "Now, then. You said you had learned of the Orrery's location and who stole it." Her tone of voice turns more serious.
Imrama "A Solar named Saraya used one of her charms to steal it, but she had the aid of Hundredfold in the theft. And we have some hints about its current location. We also learned some disturbing information about someone who was a member of my Circle long before I joined it. Tell me Ikara - what do you know of Rannath of the Spear?"
Ikara "Rannath?" Ikara thinks for a moment. "That... doesn't sound familiar."
Imrama "My comrades knew him as a...problematic Solar. But we now suspect that he was, all along, a Sidereal in secret; one sworn to the Nightshade."
Ikara 's eye open very slightly wider. "I... spoke to you, once. Of the Five Who Are Fallen."
Imrama "Yes. You think that the thing that called itself Rannath might be one of them?"
Ikara nods. "I am... quite disturbed that I cannot remember this person, given thelevel of surveillance placed upon your circle." She tosses this fact out and moves right along from it. "And if such a person was in any way connected to the theft of the Orrery...."