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Varanim Bangbangbang! Varanim believed in knocking until a door was answered.

Zahara "Enough!" she yells after realizing that the noise is not going to let up any time soon. She yanks open the door to her study and glares out. "What?" she asks flatly.

Varanim is wearing her 'going out' clothes, which is mostly indistinguishable from normal except she has the hat on. "Best music in Solaria," she says by way of explanation, "and you're in for two hours this time."

Zahara keeps up the glare for a good thirty seconds more before she sighs. "TWO? That's a lot of time to not be empress-y you know."

Varanim Varanim waits patiently for the answer; she seems to have startlingly deep reserves of that. "Yeah, remind me to write you a certificate or something afterwards. Come oooon."

Zahara throws her hands in the air, and says sternly, "You're impossible!" but a hint of a smile sneaks its way into her expression. "I'll meet you at the front gate."

Varanim "I knew that," says Varanim smugly, though she hadn't. She saunters off, dragging the end of her stick against some ornamental carving with a rattling noise.

Zahara 'a short time later'

Varanim This time Varanim had come a-pestering in the late evening, though she looks no more inclined to sleep than she ever does. She's waiting by the gate, throwing stones at ornamental sun emblems.

Random appears at the gate, making her usual attempt to dress down far enough to blend in, without going so far as to be beneath her dignity. This time, she has black hair, and her runed-golden skin is covered with a cocoa color, but her eyes are still blue.

Random "Not a fan of architecture?"

Varanim "It's the sun thing, it's just an irresistable target. During the day I've been working on training the pigeons to roost there." Varanim leads the way down toward the city, although this time her course veers a little aside from the market and toward a more industrial district.

Random "oh, so that's YOUR fault is it?" She follows, glancing around a bit.

Varanim "Man, is there anything that turns me on more than hearing those words?" Varanim wonders aloud as she swipes at a pair of fighting stray dogs with her staff. "Okay," she adds as she turns down a grimy-ish side street. "I have another assignment for you tonight."

Random raises a brow, clasping her hands behind her back as she walks. "Another, in addition to not being myself, or instead of?"

Varanim "Linked," says Varanim, hooking two fingers together by way of illustration. "I want to hear what you think of the other crazy kids up there in the Cascade. NOT in your capacity as you-know-what, but what you think of them as people."

Varanim "Ah," she adds, "we're here." (...)

Varanim Their destination is apparently a low-class bar, dirty windows and listing sign outside, murky lighting and clouds of smoke wreathing the ceiling inside. The crowd of patrons is mostly burly laborer types, starting to thin at this hour as the responsible ones think of heading for bed.

Random "And...why do you want to know this?" She looks askance at the dirt. "You're a big fan of the gutter atmosphere aren't you?"

Varanim "Yes, but in this case it's just icing," says Varanim as she bellies up to the bar long enough to grab a couple of dubious-looking mugs, then stumps to a table in the corner.

Varanim "I want to know because the answers are of mild interest to me, and whether you're capable of doing it is much more so."

Random takes the mug delicately from nim's fingers, and drops it under the table s urreptitiously as she makes a new one. It looks about as dirty as the old one, but it is not. She snorts at Varanim's answer. "I am capable, but why should I trust you enough to speak as plainly as you think I ought?"

Varanim Varanim downs half of her mug in an extended swallow--it's not bad beer, for the setting--and settles back contentedly in her rickety chair as a pair of musicians start puttering on the stage. "Are you listening to yourself? You can't answer a simple question about your friends--even a short, shallow answer--without evaluating it as a tactical decision."

Random "I've given my trust too freely in the past."

Varanim spreads her hands and sighs. "I can see you're losing on this line of conversation, and that's boring. Can your unassumingness think of another that suits her better?"

Random "I'm still interested in what your goals are. Why you're still here. But I don't think that falls within the bounds of the conversation. So, we could talk about what your life has been like, up til now."

Varanim "My life is mostly a boring subject," Varanim assures her. She drums her fingers on the table briefly, then stills them. "But if it helps you, what the hell? Ask."

Varanim On the bar's tiny stage, a middle-aged hard-bitten couple suddenly launch into what sounds like a passionate argument between two people conducted by guitar, punctuated by occasional drumming.

Random stares at the musicians for a while, trying to figure out where the music bit is. "I suppose we start this one with the basics.... Where you from?"

Varanim Varanim leans back and watches the stage with hooded eyes, something that might almost be a smile lurking around the corners of her mouth. Then she looks over at Zahara's question. "A cruddy little mining town out East. Great Forks would be the nearest place worth talking about, if Great Forks was worth talking about."

Random "Great Forks isn't bad, though a little standoffish, I suppose."

Random "So you were a miner? Or just grew up near one."

Varanim wiggles her hand in a 'meh' gesture about Great Forks. "Only worth stopping in for the drugs." To the second comment, she says, "My family were miners." Her tone is getting a little terse.

Random "Ah, and you... left to seek your fortune?"

Varanim Taking another long drink, Varanim seems to consider that phrasing with mild interest and distant eyes. "I suppose that's a plausible way to put it," she allows, before an angry guitar solo devours the next few seconds.

Random "Mmm. If you'd rather not talk about it, I'm sure we could discuss the weather."

Varanim "What about your family?" Varanim asks, shooting Zahara an eyebrows-raised look. As the next song starts, not quite as fierce as the last, she adds, "There was a problem with a Shadowland. My village was eaten, slowly."

Random takes a sip of her beer. A long, slow one, keeping her eyes on the band and deciding they're not so bad. "Oh. We lived in the Northeast. There was a problem with the Fae." A short laugh, "I think that we're required to have some sort of tragic past."

Varanim relaxes back into her chair slightly, though her fingers still drum restlessly on her knee. "Tragic pasts are boring," she declares. "Anyway, I studied at Sijan, rolled with a scavenger lord for a while, studied martial arts, and like that."

Varanim "Went back home once, but it wasn't the same, so I haven't done that again."

Random "It's never the same, is it?" She sighs.

Varanim "No," murmurs Varanim, watching the guitarists with empty eyes, "it isn't." She looks over at Zahara. "Have you ever been to a place where the living coexist with a Shadowland?"

Random rubs her arm as if to ward away the shivers. "Yes," she answers quietly. "They were...changed."

Varanim nods. "Mothers miscarry, wells run foul, whippoorwills flock in the trees outside the homes of the dying. And so it goes." She shrugs. "When I first left, I had some delusion that I could return and fix the problem before it cost more lives than the original mine collapse and the few hungry ghosts who first appeared. When I left the second time, I knew it was for good."

Random looks into her beer, watching it slosh back and forth in the mug. "I know how to cleanse a shadowland... but... it still won't be the same."

Varanim "No," Varanim agrees, finishes her mug with a toss of her head and a bitter twist to her lips. "Anyway, they're all dead by now. Fortunately, I have much more interesting puzzles to occupy my time, these days."

Random nods. "There is all too much to do."

Varanim nods, slouching lower in her chair and kicking her feet up on a nearby vacant seat. The music has gradually been winding slower as the crowd thins, only the dedicated drinkers left now. Varanim lights a cigar and waves a hand at Zahara. "Speaking of which, we can call it two hours. G'wan, I have more drinking to do."

Random looks over at Varanim and nods lightly. "I'll leave you in peace then. As much as that's possible." She rises, and walks to the bar, leaves a smallish tip of a few jade coins for each band member in the jar, and heads out slowly.

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