Imrama is inside the parked city-ship that was once Crystal, and once before that 'Air Fortress Atzeret', when he receives Cerin's mental notice that he is about to play host to Dragon Kings. He thinks out a quick response, ::Understood, Huntsman. I shall do my utmost.:: and leaves the battlestation for his ship of gold, to meet the emissaries by the Cascade's southern gate.
Anjax Imrama is waiting for perhaps ten minutes before the delegation of Anklok, still fully clad in their ceremonial battle armor, arrive before him.
Imrama stands before the manse, in full parade dress. His ship rests just off the ground to his left, its phantom crew arrayed on deck in perfect rows, ready for inspection.
Anjax The delegation of Dragon-Kings walks up to a spot perhaps ten feet from Imrama, and ceases their approach silently.
Imrama "Oh, Ancient Ones of many lives and years, I, Trierarch Imrama Stormfound, greet you on behalf of this land, its mighty Empress and proud people." Imrama bows low, and as he does, his anima flares to a swirl of mechanical birds, showing his sash of celestial authority.
Imrama [all in High Holy Speech]
Anjax One of the more rearward Anklok grunts.
Anjax After a long, awkward moment, Anjax steps forward. "We shall now discuss our grievance."
Imrama "At your pleasure, horned and honored guests. A place of dignity has been prepared for you above," Imrama guestures behind him to the top of the Cascade. "Or we may remain with our feet upon the earth, as you prefer."
Anjax thinks for a moment. "Lead upwards."
Imrama At Imrama's command, a set of stairs descends from the Fable beside him, and he indicates them to the Dragon Kings with a wave of his hand, and another bow. Once aboard, the ship climbs upwards at a leisurely pace, opperating as an inclined elevator, carrying the group to the top of the manse and the exquisite tea garden.
Anjax and his retinue step out into the garden in a manner lacking any appreciable subtlety. Locating a suitable spot, he seats himself and sits still.
Imrama Sensing that pomp and circumstance are not to the taste of his guests, he seats himself with equal stoicism and informality across from Anjax. Servants bring teas, sweet meats, pastries and eddible flowers.
Anjax accepts a bowl of tea but does not reach for foodstuffs. He decides to launch right into matters: "We come here to claim the land granted to us in ages past."
Imrama "So I have heard. We are a nation that treasures hospitality, and good relations with our neighbors. But we also love our land, and hold it dearly. Please forgive me a few questions, then. May I ask, Anjax, by whom this land was granted you, and one what terms?"
Anjax "In the time before the Great Dying, we were granted land marked out to five hundred miles upon each side by Injara, the ruler of this land, in reward for our friendship."
Imrama "But your people did not have the opportunity to establish residency?"
Anjax "Our people lived here, but... then the Great Dying came, and the warriors of chaos and death that followed it. Those who lived here perished; those isolated upon the mountain were spared."
Imrama "A sad time for all the creatures of Meru. Anjax, I admire the directness of your unvarnished words, and so I wish to return the favor: My company and I, the guardians and stewards of this land and several more besides. We honor the old ways, and seek to reestablish the Deliberative; to build a new Pax Meru.(...)
Imrama "But we are honorbound also to the people of this land, who have trusted us and toiled for us, fought alongside us and died for the sake of this dream. We have sworn that they shall live, safe and free on their ancestral lands. So, you see, your claim has caught us in a condradiction, between our respect for the promises of old, and our love for the Dragon Kings, long-held allies of humanity on the one side, and our pledge to these people and this land, now our adoptive home, on the other side."(...)
Imrama "I would seek to resolve this contradiction in a way that pleases all concerned. There are many, many things which we can offer: space for an embassy or colony of your people, with borders to be determined. Right of return for your folk with political protections on their integration into the standing society of this region. The opportunity to reclaim whatever buried or lost treasures and remnants still reside here. And of course, the offer of close political, economic and military alliance, as is now enjoyed by our dear friends in Rathess."
Anjax One of Anjax's eyebrows rises. "Rathess.":
Imrama "Yes. Ssithumi-An-Hotep, our allie and confidante, reigns there. We have done our utmost since her reawakening to aid in the rebirth of that great city."
Anjax makes a scowly grimace on his already unfriendly face. "Ssithumi-an-Tohatep is abased in the eyes of the True Path of Gaian Enlightenment."
Imrama turns on a dime. "Then that is a conflict internal to your proud and mighty species, and we will respect it. However, the matter remains before us: you have come to claim something which we cannot surrender, and so I ask if there is any prize or concession you would accept in fair compensation."
Anjax thinks for a moment, gazing ever straight ahead. "We will accept the lands held by the heretic Ssithumi in lieu of our rightfully granted lands. Otherwise, we must seek intense redress of grievances, by the ancient law of thousandfold returned justice."
Imrama narrows his eyes slightly, and the clouds overhead darken and roil. "The territories of our allies are not ours to offer up, and we would be duty-bound to stand against you, if your people made the terrible mistake of attempting to seize them by force."(...)
Imrama "But you are in the house of the Empress, and it is my responsibility to require decorum: we brook no threats at this table. As for justice, your title was issued by Injara, who is long dead. Her right to give away this land ended when she, and your ancestors, failed to hold it against the Wyld. The people of the Sunlands have squatters rights for twenty generations.(...)
Imrama "We deal gently, and generously with our allies, and would like very much to place you in that category. If you choose the hard path against us, I can only feel pity for your foolishness, and sorrow for your people."
Anjax sits utterly still for a time far longer than any human would take to respond. Then he nods. "Then we have reached a place of difficulty." He stops and drains a large bowl of tea in a single gulp. (...)
Anjax After a moment, he speaks again. "We recognize that you have offered to address our claim, but cannot accept allegiance with those of Rathess."
Imrama "We respect that you have certain ideals which cannot be compromised for the sake of expediency. We would be interested in resolving the theological dispute between the peoples of Mount Eledath and the peoples of Rathess, and would be pleased to learn of its details, now or in the future."
Anjax thinks. "We shall convey this to the Pathkeeper and ask that he might allow for negotiations to begin between all involved."
Imrama "We would be most appreciative of this."