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Lucent steps in front of Iallu's home, guiding Varanim. "I believe you have not met her yet? She is quite a nice goddess." He nods, shining orbs carrying a very important basket in all reverence... and, as Nibbles appears, depositing that box before him with a little sun and moon opening, in all reverence... a box full of fresh trouts, as an offering to the great being! "... that is not her, for the record, I just like the tiger."

Varanim "I generally avoid meeting goddesses; it's a mutual crankiness thing. In case you missed it, this is the sound of me humoring you." It's possible Varanim looks mildly curious, though.

Iallu Nibbles helpfully leads the Solars in to the inner sanctum of the Temple, where Iallu, currently on break between instruction periods at the newly-formed school, lounges with a cup of tea. "Ah, hello," she says, and accidentally kicks over a tall pile of papers as she stands up to greet them. (...)

Lucent "Aa, you will like her just fine. And we will stop the whole crankyness issue. Trust me, it will get old to you."

Iallu is, to Varanim's eyes, not a tremendously impressive goddess: though her body is formed in the human shape from a single, multi-faceted purple crystal whose facets slowly travel and shift across her surfaces, she nonetheless manages to have the demeanor of a librarian who's been up all night on a whiskey-and-academic-journals binge.

Lucent clears his throat, and appears to grow larger, the sound shaking with his voice! "IALLU OF THE AMETHYST WHISPERS, THE SUN HAS COME TO DEMAND ANSWERS!" books flip with the strength of that voice... and then he diminishes, and smiles. The same greeting he had given her during their first meeting, when another God had made suspicion cast upon her.

Varanim "'Issue'?" Varanim wonders aloud as she follows Nibbles in. She looks over Iallu with a quick, skeptical glance, and looks marginally less annoyed than she expected to be. She jumps a bit at Lucent's overenthusiastic greeting.

Lucent puts a little book in front of her, "The diary of two Kashaen who killed themselves for love. A love story hidden from the world but for your eyes." He nods, offering it freely, "I trust you have been well?"

Iallu covers her ears and winces a little as Lucent announces his presence, but perks up at the book offering. "Hello, Lucent." She looks over Varanim for a moment. "You must not be his girlfriend, because otherwise I imagine I would have heard about it. Goddess of secrets, you know."

Varanim beams at Iallu. "He's crazy about me," she confides.

Varanim "I mean, actually crazy."

Lucent shakes his fist in the air comically, "I will have her yet!"

Lucent "But seriously, she is far too insane, walking the same path as Larquen, and as you can see, not my type! But she is the newest member of the Solar Deliberative, and thus it befit her to know you, our most trusted wellspring of truths best unknown and secrets best unseen."

Iallu raises an eyebrow. "From my experience, 'far too insane' is pretty much 'just right' for your crowd, Luc." She says it with affection, of course.

Lucent shrugs. "Well, you got me there. She DID fit right in."

Iallu "Well, it's very nice to meet you, Ms. Fartoocrazy. I'm Iallu." She tidies the papers she knocked over and places them on a nearby table, where they immediately slide over into another nearby messy pile, knocking both onto the floor. "What brings you here today? On my day off," she adds.

Varanim shrugs. "Varanim the Last," she introduces herself. "We're here about Abadis."

Lucent "A name apparently connected with a being able to slay the air and scatter the living."

Iallu "Abadis... Abadis..." Iallu goes through her mental records -- since, after all, she has quite a bit of information to keep organized. "Abadi... oh." She blanches a little. "Oh, that Abadis."

Lucent lights up, "You know?"

Iallu furrows her brow and says, "Come this way."

Lucent follows, looking about the books curiously

Varanim watches Iallu's expression and says, "Yes, presumably that one." She follows, casting about a semiprofessional eye.

Iallu The Temple of Unfeeling Ice is the sort of thing only a non-mortal being could dream up -- a vast dome of frigid arctic rime, surrounding what looks rather like someone had taken fifty upscale noblemen's studies and jumbled them together. Shelves of books form winding, maze-like corridors, occasionally interrupted by a small den or other oddly useful space defined by those library walls. (...)

Iallu In this case, however, Iallu takes Lucent around to a part of the temple he's never seen before, where a set of closely-packed bookshelves disguise a small icy stairway leading downwards into the dark below.

Iallu "Gotta go to the stacks," Iallu says, as she begins to descend.

Varanim "Jardis will be SO jealous," Varanim says with an air of contentment as she follows. In lieu of small talk, a thought strikes her and she looks over at Lucent. "That thing the twins said--did it work?"

Lucent looks at Varanim, surprised, then away from her, "I... have yet to try."

Varanim nods, looking briefly like she's about to say something snide, then not.

Lucent "It is hard to talk to someone you love when you helped destroy her existence."

Varanim "I think the traditional approach is 'I'm sorry baby, you know I love you, it won't happen again.' But if you want to strike off in a startlingly functional direction, you could ask if she still wants to talk to you."

Lucent "She gave me this pendant. I would think that already answers that question?"

Varanim "If it does, then you're just being chicken. That's an amusingly normal bit of guy behavior from you."

Iallu leads on through the dusty stacks -- down here it's still a maze of library shelves, but the books are much older, much stranger in both shape and title, and altogether organized in what can only be called a bizarre and incomprehensible fashion.

Lucent "I have stared down the Yozi, Varanim. You think the prospect of talking to a woman would make me fearful?" He snaps, looking at her angrily. "I am just unsure of what to say! I swear, hundreds of years on this world and you are still all incomprehensible."

Varanim "Sure it would," she shrugs, hands in pockets as she eyes the weirdening collection they pass with naked lust. "Getting heroically kakked by your enemies is way less ego-threatening than saying 'I still love you' and not hearing the answer you hoped for."

Lucent "..." He touches one of the books, one he had seen so long ago, "... well, yes, it is. Especially if so much is impossible now." He turns to Varanim with a sad smile, "I take it you know that from experience?"

Iallu "Excuse me," Iallu says. "I know that Lucent isn't secretly leaving you for another woman so this conversation seems rather beside the point to me." She points to a nearby bookshelf. "We're here."

Varanim "Finally," says Varanim, neatly ignoring Lucent's question. "Tell."

Varanim She shuffles forward to scan the shelf with undisguised curiosity.

Lucent breathes a sigh of relief, striding in, "Iallu, I said we are NOT a couple. Is it here?" Lucent does not just scan the shelf, but begins picking up the first books that come his way.

Iallu "Leave those alone, Luc. Like you, they are ancient, but unlike you, they are fragile and extremely valuable." She selects a book from the very top of the shelf, blows dust off of the cover, and hands it to Varanim. (...)

Iallu The book is bound in black and red leather, with the image of a skull embossed into the front cover; the spine, in the language of the Old Realm, reads simply "The Year of Endings."

Lucent "Yeah, that would be the one."

Varanim "Ooh, tacky." Varanim nods approvingly, then opens carefully to peruse.

Varanim After a momentary thought she taps her forehead as if jiggling a recalcitrant appliance and her caste mark flares to life, casting a faint reddish-gold light that gleams and catches on the words of most relevance.

Iallu The book is written in heavily-wrought black and red type, with thin-lined illustrations to match. The book is a description of a particularly grueling year of the Primordial War, well after the Threefold Breaking but long before the tide turned decisively for the Exallts. (...)

Iallu Several of the Primordials had been slain with the power of the Chime of Ages, but that had only transformed the shape of the war: the remaining Primordials had become canny, keeping their full forms from the front lines while they directed increasingly clever shadow campaigns against the human stronghold on the Blessed Isle and sought to destroy the weapon that kept them at bay. (...)

Iallu During this year, several vicious attacks had halted most of the humans' advances and successful assaults on the Isle itself had left humanity shaken and disorganized -- and it was then that Abadis first arose. (...)

Iallu Long ago, there had been many behemoths, but perhaps one of the greatest was the Daykeeper, the monumental warrior the Primordials had set to the stewardship of the Blessed Isle when first they placed the Gods there to do their duty at the dawn of the world. (...)

Iallu He had grown close to the Gods and humans in time, and when the war began he had sided with them -- but it was early in the campaign that he was brought low, slain by Erevel and buried in the Fields of Woe. (...)

Iallu In the Year of Endings, the greatest of the Malfeans' magics had dredged his corpse up from under that deathly earth, and bound to it the angry spirits of the ten million souls, human and Hundredfold alike, that had perished on that dark battlefield. It was thusly that Abadis the Destroyer was created. (...)

Iallu The horrific creature rode across the plains, slaying all that stood before him, Hundredfold and human and god and demon alike; it swam across the inland sea, and all life floated lifeless to the surface; it battled across the Blessed Isle and slew millions,

Iallu until finally the greatest efforts of the Exalts cast it down once more and buried its corpse deep beneath the Blessed Isle, where they could be certain it would never resurface.

Varanim Varanim's eyes are old and tired and faraway by the time she finishes reading. "Because that always works," she snorts at the end.

Lucent "... right beneath where... Rosada... currently..."

Lucent is pale. And that says alot for a bronze-skinned southerner.

Varanim "Well," says Varanim with a certain grim satisfaction. "There's your extra helping of doom--happy?"

Lucent "... I remember that tale now. We Are Going to Need A Bigger Circle."

Varanim "That sounds like a good project for you," Varanim says encouragingly. "Make a chart, send out some postcards, like that. It'll give you something to do with your time."

Lucent "Like I did not have enough already..." Lucent sighs... and that reminds him. "Iallu! We need to be full for it. I need to restore Imrama. I need to know the location of the Life-Sphere of Chiurgeonry!" He points, "You would know of it?"

Iallu "Oh, that old thing? I think I gave it to Nibbles."

Varanim "Life-what, now?"

Lucent blanches "... you gave THAT to... Nibbles to play with?"

Iallu "He likes to chase it around. Helps him get out his youthful energy." Her multi-faceted expression clearly delivers the message "What?"

Lucent strides off the room to look for it. "You women are crazy. ALL CRAZY."

Varanim lingers for a moment, narrowing her eyes at Iallu. "ALL secrets?"

Iallu "By intent, anyway." She runs her fingers across her stacks lovingly. "It's not like I'm Jupiter or anything, but I keep up with my field as much as is deifically possible."

Varanim For a moment, Varanim's eyes glitter with a multitude of speculations, folding and collapsing into a tight series of inquiry lines... then she shrugs, and the look fades. "Nice work, if you can get it," she says musingly, and slouches out to see what Lucent is shrieking about now.

Varanim Then, after a moment, she leans back around the corner of a bookshelf. "Cheating the Obsidian hole," she says. "Is there a way to do it?"

Iallu looks at Varanim, tilts her head to one side, and gets a far-off, misty look in here eyes. "...there is."

Varanim "Good." Varanim nods shortly, and vanishes again.

Lucent returns, holding in his hand something a little larger than his other orbs, a Moonsilver globe with tiny, intricate Starmetal and Soulsteel veils running around it, a seal of Blue Jade and Orichalcum set on its top. "Obsidian Hole?"

Lucent Said orb is covered in slobber, dirt, and tiger fur

Varanim "Gah." Varanim nearly bumps into Lucent as he comes back. "Nothing, just a really good puzzle. And if you're planning to touch Imrama with THAT, please reread the section on introductory cleanliness in medicine."

Lucent "I am not the one who let a Tiger play with one of the foremost surgical tools of the Golden Age. I swear that Iallu did that on purpose."

Varanim "Ooh." Varanim starts to reach for it, then pulls her hand back. "I expect Imrama's ghost will be happy to know he was hacked apart with the best of the Golden Age."

Lucent pulls it away from her, "Varanim, have I ever doubted your skills?"

Varanim "Have I ever cared?"

Lucent "..."

Lucent seems about to get mad, and then... "So you mean you only got angry because of my charm?"

Varanim looks vaguely annoyed. "Are we going back to that? I'm over it."

Lucent "Sure you are, I can see that VERY well." He nods, "Well enough to know you are not going to tell me about Piercing Ivory, if you are so over that. You care too much to."

Varanim "I save my grudges for important things, like card games and who ate the last cookie." Then she looks tremendously annoyed. "Oh, what the hell? You shouldn't have been reading about head trauma for MONTHS."

Lucent grins. "I am a fast learner."

Varanim "Look." Varanim stops, then starts again. "You know what? You actually had it right the first time--hence my confusion. I'm not going to tell you about it."

Lucent spreads his arms around. "Nim. It is better if YOU do."

Varanim narrows her eyes for a second, calculating the odds that he's serious and finding them unpleasantly clear. "He's dead. They're all dead. And I have work to do." She spins and heads back in the direction of the Temple entrance.

Lucent holds her arm. "Varanim."

Varanim looks down at his hand, then up with a raised eyebrow.

Lucent "I just want to understand you."

Varanim "You want to be right about me, which isn't really the same thing."

Lucent "No, no. You missed it. I want to be wrong. I want you to prove me wrong."

Varanim "Insultingly untrue; every word I say to you moves the goalposts farther back." Varanim pinches the bridge of her nose. "Here's a brief logic exercise: if you ask a person why they do something to which they've devoted a considerable part of their time and health, do you agree that this is a fairly personal question?"

Lucent "Yes, of course."

Varanim "Ah, a glimmer in the dark. Now: at best, answering would be a waste of my time, given your fanatical certainty. At worst, if you didn't like what you heard, you might decide to carry through on your promise to kill me for my own good. What possible motive would I have for indulging you?"

Lucent "I am not fanatical. And my promise was not to kill you to save you. It was just to save you."

Lucent "I am tired of losing friends."

Varanim "Pardon my imprecision. You promised to save me after you said you would kill me if you thought I was becoming a Mask of Autumns. Carrot and stick, the charming twins of interrogation."

Lucent "As you can see, I CAN change my mind."

Lucent sighs and lets go, "I care about you, idiot."

< Two Simple Tasks | Sol Invictus Logs | A Deathly Vision >