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Cerin It was beautiful sunset up in the mountains of An Teng when Cerin came to visit the homes of the Golden Children, the little part of that country which they had staked off as their own. The outer sentries had not seen him coming. Nor had the guards of Xaun Ei's house. The first person in An Teng to know that Cerin was there was the servant who had answered the door. "I would like to see Xaun Ei, if she is present." he said quietly.

The servant blinks at Cerin in surprise: this far up the mountain, it is impossible for a visitor to arrive unexpected -- or at least, a visitor who is not Cerin. "One... moment, please," he says.

Cerin "Of course," he inclines his head gratefully.

XuanEi After a long wait, Xuan Ei appears, her loose-fitting golden robes trailing behind her, the faint halo still highlighting her golden-brown hair. "Cerin the Wolf," she says, bowing politely. "Welcome to Amaranthine Hold."

Cerin "Thank you for recieving me," he says, inclining his head in greeting.

XuanEi "You are an honored guest here," she says, and leads him inside. (...)

XuanEi The building is carefully nestled between two mountains, and so is quite vertical in orientation: the first floor literally contains only the beginnings of the stairway leading to the next. Here, Cerin finds a selection of tiny fountains and potted plants, sumptuous cushions, and several cats, though otherwise it is rather spartan.

Cerin Cerin takes a seat on one of the cushions, the cat sat on the edge of it not noticing his arrival until the cushion shifts under it. At the exclamation of felina surprise, Aliza pokes her head of out the cloud of ribbons surrounding Cerin, looking at it in curiousity.

Cerin "How do the Golden Children fare?"

XuanEi "We fare well," she says. "We have dwelt in the mountains, far from the eyes of the occupied government, for many centuries. It is... unusual, to be public now."

Cerin "How have they reacted to the news that you are now responsible for them?"

XuanEi "Our revelation was carefully planned. Our agents throughout the government took action at once to ready An-Teng for our return. Many still, at some level, remember... the old ways. They have welcomed us back." (...)

XuanEi Her eyes grow a little darker, then: "There are others who are resistant, but... we do not believe it will come to armed conflict."

Cerin nods. Aliza flows out to float on the air beside him. He smiles and trails a finger through the flickering fringe of flame. "That is good to hear. How long do you think it will be before your ... restoration is complete?"

XuanEi "We hope it will not be long," she says. "The improvements we can bring to the farming and lifestyles of the people are helping us in this task."

Cerin "Such improvements will surely do much in the long run, yes."

XuanEi nods. "What brings you to speak with me specifically?," she says. "I know that there are a number of nations that have sent representatives to the new Deliberative, and more certainly that are considering it."

Cerin "Ah, I would be interested to hear of them," he says. "Though mostly I have come to find out a little about you, and your nation, as I am attempting to do with all of the new Deliberative members."

XuanEi "Ah, yes," she says, as a servant brings in a small, low table with a tea service on it. "Please, ask whatever you need."

Cerin "How many golden children do you represent?"

XuanEi smiles in a petite, charming fashion. "My family is... fairly large. I have four siblings... my parents... their parents... their parents... and our many cousins." She counts on her fingers. "Not all of us have taken to the power, but even so, there are perhaps... fifty? Sixty of us?"

Cerin nods. "Have any of you been ... exalted beyond your status as a golden child that you are aware of?"

XuanEi shakes her head. "No."

Cerin "I suspected not, as it is the sort of thing one hears of. Are you aware of other golden children anywhere else in Creation?"

XuanEi "No again," she says. "The story passed along down my family says that our kind were slain, our homes destroyed, our lineages uprooted. They say that the royalty of An-Teng was the only branch to survive."

Cerin "Yes, that was a ... terrible time, although one long past now. It is only your line in which this manifests? You mentioned cousins?"

XuanEi "The Ei family, dating back four generations. I am of the true lineage, and thus in line to rule all of An-Teng. But all carry the golden blood of my great-grandmother, Tsijan Reiko Ei."

Cerin "When was she alive?" he asks, curious. "I assume you share similarly prolonged lives to the Dragonblooded?"

XuanEi "She is still alive. She is the eldest in our clan, at 537 years."

Cerin "Ah!" he smiles at that. "At some point I would very much like to speak with her."

XuanEi "That might be possible," she says. "The family is very insular. Most of us do not... interact with others very often."

XuanEi As Cerin has listened to the conversation, her statements mostly seem to be on the up-and-up... although there's something a little fishy about this one, and the sense of something more to the family situation as a whole.

Cerin "I understand," he nods. "Though surely that will have to change, now that you are ruling the country? As it changes, so too will you?"

XuanEi nods. "Indeed, everything is changing," she says. "Our cloistered life will not remain the same as it has been, just as An-Teng is no longer what it once was."

Cerin "No longer what it once was?"

XuanEi "Once, we were a glorious state of the world's most beauteous empire. Now, we are a lapdog whose master has died." She narrows her face in visible anger. "Soon, we shall be yet something else."

Cerin inclines his head. "I am sure An-Teng will blossom once more," he says, in an unusual display of diplomacy. "At the start of our conversation, you mentioned others who wished to join the deliberative?"

XuanEi "I have heard talk," she says. "It sounds as if others are already anxious regarding the greater power and influence wielded by those of us who have pledged to the Deliberative's ranks."

Cerin "From who?"

XuanEi "Our neighbors, Oronusia and the Theocracy of the Empty Coast, to begin with," she says. "From what I have heard from other Deliberators, the picture is similar elsewhere. Membership in the Deliberative is too valuable to be left only to one's enemies." She sips tea gently before concluding. "Of course, many of these nations do not have suitably loyal Exalts to serve as their representatives."

Cerin "That will definitely hinder their efforts, yes."

XuanEi nods as she finishes her small glass of tea and places it daintily back on the movable table.

Cerin Cerin finishes his own tea, setting it down.

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