Imrama Fed up with trying to navigate the Cascade from the inside, Imrama takes a different tack in seeking a meeting with the Mask of Winters' emissaries.
Imrama After a short time spent walking around the circumfrance of the manse, Imrama happend up a small set of windows covered completely by heavy black curtains. He knocks clearly, but politely, on of the panes.
alsoquin After a long pause, a low, refined voice speaks from inside the window. "Is someone out there?"
Imrama Imrama speaks at a measured volume intended to carry through the thick glass and cloth. "Yes. It is Imrama Stormfound. I have come to speak with the ambassadors from Thorns."
EmberOfGlory "You have selected an unusual manner of approach," the voice says, and Imrama hears the sounds of small adjustments being made inside the room. "Very well, you may enter if you wish."
Imrama pulls open the window, and enters. "Thank you very much for the invitation. I appologize for the unorthodox approach, but it is difficult for me to navigate the manse by more conventional means."
EmberOfGlory The room within is sparsely decorated: besides the black curtains, it has only a simple ascetic's matress, an altar with a number of lit candles (and a skull whose origins are unclear, but clearly not human), a few piles of scrolls and other documents, and a standing unit in which a variety of clothing is stored. (...)
EmberOfGlory , looking impeccably elegant in his carefully-fitted blue suit, is holding a scroll he was quite recently poring over as he sits in a simple chair, his thin ashen fingers playing carefully along its edges. He gestures and another chair skids out from the closet; "Please sit, if you would like," he says.
Imrama "Thank you." Imrama takes a seat.
EmberOfGlory folds the scroll he is reading carefully and places it down amongst some of the others. "What brings you here to speak with me today?"
Imrama "I have come to talk with you about my Circle, the Malfean Glimpse of Night, and the places where the respective interests of each come to meet."
Imrama Staring through the Occuli of the Radiant Ban, Imrama watches Ember's every motion with careful interest. He takes in both what is present in the room, and all that is absent. He notes the cut of the man's suit, and every place where it fits him too closely or too lose.(...)
Imrama 's sense infiltrate every line in Ember of Glory's face and expression, the way his weight shifts in his chair, the slightest variation in his pattern and volume of speech. All the while he calculates the following: who is this man before me, and what secrets does he hold?"
EmberOfGlory Imrama looks deep into the Abyssal's soul, sketching out as many details as he can infer from the slightest factors of his form: the doomed marriage, ended by terminal wasting illness; the life as a brutal mercenary; the death in the midst of a vast slaughter of villains and innocents alike; his fervent and unwavering conversion upon death to the dark faith of the Malfeans.
EmberOfGlory The narrative thrust of his life is relatively clear to Imrama: a lifetime filled with brutal suffering and surrounded by death, the man who is now the Ember of Glory fell further and further into a nihilistic drive to subjugate and overpower others, until finally his near-death experience with the Glimpse of Night gave him a new understanding of death's purpose.
Imrama strokes his chin gently, and proceeds. "Please tell me, if you would Ember of Glory; whom do you serve?"
EmberOfGlory He sits, serenely and calmly, carefully weighing his speech before responding. "I am in the employ of the Mask of Winters, in ultimate service to the Glimpse of Night, of course."
Imrama "This was my understanding, but I wanted to confirm that it was the case after being given reason to doubt that your allegiences were thus." Imrama pauses for a moment. "Do you mind if I smoke?"
EmberOfGlory "Please, feel free," he says, with a broad gesture. "What reason would you have to doubt, in this matter?"
Imrama leisurely produces his pipe, lights it, takes a long pull, and exhales phosphorescent yellow smoke before answering. "Thank you. You and your compatriot were presented to us as cultural emissaries of the Mask and his court. Seeing the intractable conflict between the interests of the Mask of Winters, and the interests of Glimpse of Night, I was left uncertain as to your exact loyalties."(...)
Imrama "Thank you for clarifying the subject." Imrama reaches out to offer his pipe. "Would you care to join me?"
EmberOfGlory "Thank you," he says, and partakes of a long, slow pull from the pipe. "What is this conflict that you perceive between the two?"
Imrama "Glimpse of Night desires a definitive end to its existence, Lucent Copper Haze has committed himself to providing this, and I and the rest of his Circle share that commitment. It seems clear to me, however, that the Mask does not seek what we seek."
EmberOfGlory "And what is it that you believe the Mask does seek?" he inquires.
Imrama "Power. Lordship over both the living and the dead. The spoils of a war of his own making. There was naught else to gain in enslaving Lookshy."
EmberOfGlory nods. "Yes, you are correct. Lookshy was a source of great power." He pauses to consider for a moment. "So what is your true purpose in speaking to me?"
Imrama "To understand you. I see a contradiction in your loyalties. You either do not see it, or are not troubled by it. I would like to know which it is, and why."
EmberOfGlory "It is all a matter of perspective, is it not?" he says. With a flourish, he grabs a paper from somewhere on the floor and unfurls it up against the wall. On it, there is an Old Realm character: death. (...)
EmberOfGlory "The nature of incarnation in this world is broken, and the events of life arbitrary. Perhaps the activities of the Mask cause suffering in life -- but suffering is an indelible part of life, and does it truly matter whether it is inflicted at his hands or another's?" (...)
EmberOfGlory He turns the piece of paper over, causing it to instead display the character for rebirth. "What is ultimately important is how those with power reshape the world."
Imrama "I cannot agree, because I see importance in the decisions of both the powerful and the powerless. But that is no matter to our discussion; you have only explained why the Mask's actions have no meaning or value, based on the relativity of suffering and the grave."(...)
Imrama "That line of reasoning does not provide a purpose for how his actions benefit Glimpse of Night, while I can produce several for how they are detremental to the Malfean's interests."(...)
Imrama "The Mask of Winters expends his resources on destruction, aeons of which have brought your master and his no closer to the goal of a tranquil ending. At the same time, they serve to interfere with and distract from my Circle's own projects in the living world. We are Glimpse of Night's best hope - what distracts us from our agreement, cannot serve the Neverborn."
EmberOfGlory "You raise an interesting argument," he says. "I cannot disagree that your assistance is likely to aid us greatly." He pauses. "But truly, how do the Mask's current actions work against your own? He has expressed again and again his willingness to stand in agreement with you, and to participate in your newly formed body of government."
Imrama "The Deliberative is an organization of the Living. We are committed to peace with the Dead, to be sure, but there cannot be a place for him in that government while he holds the forer in thrall to the later, and seeks to actively expand shadowlands, mixing Meru and Netheos - two realms which, in an orderly system, must remain seperate."
EmberOfGlory considers, and shifts his posture slightly, an enigmatic grin playing across his face. "And that exclusion is your own decision, is it not? For you have drafted the constitution of your new body." After a second, he adds: "And who is to say what the proper relation between Meru and Netheos should be, if not those who strung the worlds across the Tapestry?"
EmberOfGlory He leans forward. "But put that aside for a moment." (...)
EmberOfGlory "Would you truly let one such as I represent the Mask's kingdoms in your Deliberative if he foreswore further conquests, if he let all the living leave freely or petition freely for redress, even if he healed the rift that lies across the city of Thorns? It seems unlikely."
Imrama "I am not sure why you should find it so. My circle and I have made it clear that membership in the Deliberative is not to be determined by petty rivalries and personal grudges. If he will right the wrongs that he and his forces have made against the Living, and against the body of Meru itself, forswearing further such aggressions, there could be no basis for our denying him a place at the table."
EmberOfGlory "We shall see," he says. "At the moment, I am not certain your body offers much of value to our purposes directly, as much as we might wish to remind you of our past cooperation by applying for membership." He pauses. "What is it that you propose to do that will aid the purposes of the Glimpse of Night?"
Imrama "We will repair the system of death and rebirth, which, as you rightly point out, is broken, was broken by deaths it was never meant to account for. We will give to Glimpse of Night its yearned for ending."
EmberOfGlory "Good," he says, and does not elaborate further.
Imrama continues. "But every inch of land that the Mask of Winters steals from our home, every soul he poaches, every city he burns, every refugee he sends streaming across our borders, obstructs that project and delays the hoped for outcome. You cannot serve two masters, Ember of Glory. You shall have to choose between them."