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Lucent paces about, thinking about what had been said. He had set a meeting with Cerin on the highest spots of the Labyrinthine Cascade, and that was always unsettling. Playing with his pendant, he sang the songs of Night.

Cerin is suddenly, obviously, on the rooftop, in a way that he quite plainly was not a few moments before. "Good evening, Lucent."

Lucent "Aah!" He yelped, tumbled, a chair fell, and a little Mars standing on the balcony held him with one hand, looking smug. "Must you ALWAYS do that? Oh yes, of course you must. You did not fall very far from Ymir's tree." He smiles and waves it away.

Cerin Cerin smiles faintly, and rights the seat which had been knocked over in Lucent's over-exicted reaction to his arrival.

Lucent "Anyway." He taps the table. "The meeting. There is one thing I want to ask of you, and a few things I wish to discuss with you." He takes the perfectly-caligraphed and imperially-embossed roll of paper from his robe, with Cerin's notes from the Orrery.

Lucent "The request is... here." He picks another paper from within the notes, handling it to Cerin. A map from the reconstructed Creation in the south, a zone whose geography has been twisted in irrecognizable ways. "I need you and Zahara to come here with me."

Cerin "Why here in particular?" he asks as he considers the map.

Lucent "Did I ever tell you how I ended up in this age?"

Cerin "I have read your book. But beyond that, no."

Lucent "It was a monster. An Eye That Devoured The Sky. It wrought a pass of destruction through there... an area that had ceased to exist, only to return still with its scars intact. I... never found out if we had managed to stop it or not, or what it was. And I want to know."

Cerin "I would presume that it was stopped by the continued existence of Meru. However, discovering just what it was sounds interesting."

Lucent "Well, indeed. I am pretty sure I was the one to stop it when we climbed into its Iris and I let out the Heavenly Holocaust like I did with Five Days Darkness." He nods, "Not that any heroic songs about my heroic sacrifice will be sung those days. But I still want to know what was that. It was nothing I could recognize... and as Varanim likes to point out, I have been around."

Cerin "There are a great many strange things in the world, though we could pontificate on what it might be all night. I see you have had someone transcribe the notes I made from the Orrery."

Lucent "Speaking of strange things..." He sits down. "Yes, and I had been thinking about them, what each part of them mean. Starting from the top, there is a sign that brought about the Usurpation, and that comes again... and eight lights. I imagine those are us?"

Cerin "I am not sure the first Herald brought about the Userpation. Or at least not directly. Remember he featured in Wei Dan's chart, as did the eventual death of the one who slew him. That suggests some time elapsed between the Herald and Usurpation."

Lucent "Why would the laws of kingship be broken by his appearance, then?"

Cerin "You are not asking the right question. Perhaps instead consider what exactly about the laws of kingship did it break?"

Cerin "I think perhaps that he broke the laws which said that a king's subjects will not rise up. But perhaps he also broke the law that a king will rule fairly and justly and without excess."

Lucent "Well, I would imagine that it broke something about the world that made the Usurpation possible. How could the Usurpation suceed otherwise? Mere Dragon-Blooded and traitorous Sidereals?" He shakes his head. "They should be following the mandate of our leadership. Something was WRONG."

Cerin "Lucent, please do not delude yourself. Consider the war that the Exalts were made to fight in. Consider what was achieved. Consider what 'mere dragonbloods' could do and disregard a 'mandate to rule'. Mandates are for Gods, not Exalts."

Lucent "Then, explain to me why we are rebuilding the Solar Deliberative, direct consequence of the Most Glorious Mandate of Heaven?"

Cerin "That is showing yet more loose thinking, Lucent and is not directly relevent to my point. Which is that a mere mandate would not stop Exalts who wished to rise up. It is what we do. It is why we Exalt," he emphasises. "Consider instead why they would wish to rise. The laws of kingship are a two way street. At least in all the stories. You, loosely speaking, are considering that the Herald broke 'them', the other Exalted."

Cerin "I think it broke us."

Lucent considers, lost in thought. The Small Maiden of Secrets jumped to his shoulder, mimicking his motions. That... was something. Something he would dismiss out of hand if not given such evidence... "The failing? The thing Imrama suspected and Glimpse ascertained?"

Cerin "Yes, that. Is that not well described as a breaking of the Laws of Kingship?"

Lucent "Indeed. Of course, that makes it so we need to know how. And soon." He touches the table. "He lost, and yet, he won, if he managed as much. That means, even if we are able to kill the Second Herald... what would his death bring? The end of our Laws of Victory?" He looks askance at Cerin, "Shattering the Bonds of Love?"

Cerin "No, that would be the Third Herald. The Second Herald would break our Laws of Nature. Perhaps the tendency for things to fall down, or fire to burn things. Perhaps more worryingly it could also disrupt the process by which we respire, drawing Essence to ourselves."

Lucent waves it away. "Nature can be fixed."

Cerin raises an eyebrow.

Cerin "Anyway, to move on to your second questions. We may well be the eight who stand amongst the garden of true light, but that would be rather gross conjecture. It's also quite useless. Without knowing what the garden is, we can draw no significance from standing there."

Lucent "Much of it is a garden, actually. More Flowers of Hatred... you think there is a chance of Lai returning? Or another Yozi be using flowers to corrupt great Exalts as part of a plan to escape?"

Cerin "Some or any of those might be true, yes. But they would be wild guesses."

Lucent "And a little back..." He scrolls it... "I'd think the swarm are the God-Exalts, and the Bull put to pasture, Ahlat. He is particularly noteworthy for us... is there any chance what you saw was tailored for you, instead of a generality?"

Cerin "Of course it is tailored for me. I observed it. It was my will which drew the visions forth, and it was my hand which recorded them."

Cerin "I would agree with you on the bull, although I don't think you are right about the God-Exalts. In all these visions, Exalts are flowers. To see them represented as insects is not right."

Lucent "Then it is most certainly Ahlat, as other Gods of the Rebellion fought by others would also be noteworthy, but he is the one that has been a torn on our side for the longest time," He nods. "Which means we are looking at another swarm." He ponders, "Hmmmm. But the swarm has to have happenned, as the Bull has already been put to pasture."

Cerin "Or that it will happen soon. I am not sure you can rely on the ordering within an individual passage."

Lucent "True... but still. Ancient things devouring the flower... Atomnos' denizens, pehaps? They have come out of him, the first new sort of Exalted we have met, and with a society that stretched far back. Pehaps they are the worms? They SOUND like it."

Cerin "Devour the _fruit_, not the flower," he says, his voice stressing the need for accuracy.

Lucent "Hmmm Hmmm?. A ripe, juicy fruit." He nods. "Did you see what they did in the south? Draining natural resources?"

Cerin "A ripe juicy fruit. Representing the Southern desert."

Lucent shrugs. "Hmmm, right, you got me there. That, and they are coming from the outside..."

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