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Varanim "So," says Varanim to Zahara, sitting backwards on an elegant chair in the tea garden, "you need to tell me about Lucent's damage."

zahara sips her tea thoughtfully. "Do I now?"

Varanim Varanim, who is drinking from a big mug of something that probably isn't tea, nods. "I really prefer not to care about these things, because they're never worth the bother--except when it starts to step on my work. So tell me, on the minute chance there's something I don't already know: what is he trying so hard to prove?"

zahara "To you, or to himself?"

Varanim "Oh, both." Varanim leans back with slight traces of a pre-smirk.

zahara sips her tea thoughtfully, savoring the delicate taste on her tongue for a long moment before replying. "That he has learned from his past, and that you should too."

Varanim waves the second point away impatiently. "You're being vague. What's his history with you lot--does he try this nonsense on everyone?"

zahara "Which particular nonsense? The bit where he thinks you're going to sell your soul to a being from beyond Creation?"

Varanim "And similar guilt-ridden, crusading patterns of behavior. So?"

zahara gives her an amused smile, "He has always believed in ME, actually."

Varanim "I'm sure. However, you're avoiding the question, unless you consider him believing in you a sign of damage."

zahara "I do, in fact, believe that anyone who does must be damaged." She leans back in her chair, tapping the fingers of her left hand on her knee. "He is a Zenith. It is his duty to make you see the light, so to speak. As for his dark secret, perhaps it is not my place to tell you?"

Varanim "Don't be coy; you think your place is exactly where you wish it. So why don't you want to?"

zahara "Because he trusts me." She raises a brow. "And far too few do."

Varanim "Ah, so he does engage in side projects--good." Varanim leans back, nodding. "As long as he doesn't get any grandiose ideas that interrupt my work, it sounds happily like not my problem."

zahara chuckles, "He'll grow on you. When we met, he was just a boy-king from the South. Now he is a man, fully grown. Stronger... wiser perhaps. He has had his heart broken, by the woman he loved, by his friends, and by his God. And yet, he is still full of hope. I do not understand him, but I admire him."

Varanim "The only thing growing on me is somewhere in the region of my liver," Varanim beams. "But that's very heartwarming, thanks for the piercing and specific insights." She finishes her mug with a tiny grimace, then raises her eyebrows at Zee. "Any other business I need to care about? I'm working for the next few days, don't want to come back to find out you people have burned the place down."

zahara shakes her head a little, musing at her uncharacteristic expansiveness. "Personally, I prefer to let everyone ELSE burn my manse down in my absence. It's always more fun that way," she replies drily. "How are you finding the manse, by the by? Still getting lost?"

Varanim shrugs. "The disarrangement of the hallways lets me avoid eating group meals and skip any meeting I don't like under the excuse of 'I got lost,' so it's pretty neat, mostly. I think some of the servants are starting to avoid me since I started grabbing them for stochastic mapping exercises, though."

zahara "Oh, well, nevermind then." She pours herself another cup of tea, leans back, and looks up at the sky, closing her eyes after a moment.

Varanim "Although I could use a library key, since I suspect you don't want me banging on your door at all hours to please let me in now, mommy."

zahara sets her teacup down with a tiny click on the porcelain saucer and studies Varanim. "Mmmh. Well, I don't see why I should cease my tradition of giving access to people I barely know. In the grand scheme of things, that is. If you, perhaps, decide to set a powerful spirit free, or say, turn into an abyssal or even go work for the fae or some such, I would appreciate it if you could please get it over with soon."

Varanim To Zahara's study, Varanim looks rumpled and slightly bloodshot, which is pretty much normal. So is her smirk as she says, "I have a strict policy of not working for people with tacky names or anyone not as smart as me, which rules out possibly all of the big players."

zahara laughs and shakes her head. "Why not? Come, have I show you the Hearthstone chamber yet?"

Varanim "Nope," says Varanim, hopping up. "Verbles will be killingly jealous."

zahara smirks. "Oh good."

zahara rises and stretches, looking pensive, then strides off at a fast clip towards the central chamber of the manse. As she approaches the twists and turns of the labyrinth, they slide out of her way with a solemn grating of stone-on-stone, to create a clear path for her.

Varanim "Snazzy," Varanim observes. "Do the hallways ever make oopsies into people's rooms, or does it sort that out itself?"

zahara "No, the rooms are designated areas that do not change shape. Though they do occasionally move." They arrive at the door, the hallway humming with power. There is no handle or other such hardware, as none is needed. She touches her palm to the door and it slides quietly into the wall. "After you," she bows.

Varanim goes in, hands tucked in her pockets and grudging look of mild interest on her face.

zahara The flows of power are immense, yet precisely structured, melding water and air in gusty waves of Essence that swirl about in an incredibly complex pattern that takes some time to even see through the apparent randomness

zahara touches the seat of her hearthstone, pressing her palms against the pedestal and letting her awareness flow through the lines of her manse... and then... opening it between one heartbeat and the next, to Varanim the Last.

Varanim If Zahara looks, she may catch a faint smile on Varanim's face, that of a convoluted thinker appreciating a new and attractive puzzle. "Splashy," is all she says aloud, but even that is quieter and less snide than her usual tone.

zahara "Put your hands here," she gestures, "And meditate or something."

Varanim lays her hands where she's directed, and 'or something's.

zahara At first, it feels no different. The rushing power of the manse flows as always, over her skin. Then it begins, a trickle of Essence enters her being, as she breathes, and moves through her veins, stymied by the soulsteel arm, but proceeding throughout her body and to her hands, where it completes the circle and flows back into the manse

Varanim Eyes closed, Varanim half-smirks at the feeling of the Essence clogging through her left arm, then completing the flow. After a moment she opens her eyes and looks over at Zahara. "I forgot what a nice buzz that gives."

zahara is no longer watching Varanim, but simply staring off into one of the flows. "Hmm? Oh, yes. Quite."

Varanim cracks her knuckles, possibly already contemplating the whirlwind she'll make in the library. "Don't worry, mom, I won't burn the place down." She leaves the room, then sticks her head back around the corner for a moment. "And even Jardis agrees that it's a totally sweet Manse." Then she's off, off-key whistling bouncing down the hallway after her.

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