Lucent knocks on the door to Imrama's room. "Admiral, may I come in?"
Imrama "Enter, friend!" Imrama shouts louder than necessary from the other side of the door.
Lucent does so, carrying a great masket of fruits from the season and some articles of Kashaen cousine. "Good afternoon!" He smiles bright, leaving it by his bed and spreading out the curtains. "How are you feeling?"
Imrama inclines his head to look at Lucent over his glasses, his face a wide grin. He is sitting up in bed in one of his finer dressing gowns, half-under a thin blanket and a top layer of half-rolled scrolls and aging manuscripts. "Very glad to be awake! And also, impatient to make a complete return to form."
Lucent "Do you mind if I take a look? I still think that damned Abyssal bled you out more Essence than he should have." He steps to Imrama's bedside, looking up the manuscripts. "What are you reading?"
Imrama "If you like." Imrama raises his eyes to the ceiling, exposing his throat chakra to Lucent's inspection. "Many things. Diplomatic briefings I missed, notes on the leading religious systems in some of our ally nations, and a few of the racier pieces of First Age adventure literature from my father's library. Apparently, I've finally reached his inscrutable standard for 'old enough"."
Imrama thinks for a moment. "Er, that would be my father Vanileth, not my father Ahlat."
Lucent touches it, essence going through his hands, forming phantasmagorical medicinal tools that sunk into his skin, mere images that nevertheless told him what he wanted to know. He asked a few questions about Imrama's health, his breathing, and possible symptoms, coming stilted... not something natural for someone who had learned Medicine just before, prodigious as his learning speed might be.
Lucent But in the end, he finishes, and sits on the bedside. "Well, seems to be going good enough. That BASTARD did his job well."
Imrama "There is no reason to impune his parentage, Lucent. The Doctor is just yet another man who bought his way back from death by accepting the yoke of monsters and a tainted birthright. A fool, perhaps, but hardly one worthy of your scorn."
Lucent "A man who hurt one of our own. Who put her on the path of darkness." The golden pools in his eyes shake as if under a storm. "And she still took his orders. Damn it all."
Imrama folds his hands and looks Lucent in the eyes. "While I was indisposed, I spent a good deal of time thinking about our company, Lucent. About my friends, about all that we have done and all we must still do. I returned with a certainty that now, more than ever, we must hew together and recommit ourselves to one another..."
Imrama "But from the looks of things, I do not need to lecture you about cultivating an interest in the well-being of our circlemates." Imrama smiles just a bit.
Lucent "I thought the same. Realised that after your fall. After I begun to get closer to Varanim. After realising what is going on with the Empress." He gets up, walking towards the window, "As you left, Imrama, it was just us. And I noticed how we were not..." He touches the glass, thinking, "Imrama. What would you say is a Circle?"
Imrama "Hmm. I am accustomed to the classic definition: a fellowship of heroes, united by noble struggle and recognizable by epic works of heart and hand. Still, I can think of any number of variations from and exceptions to that old saw. Did you have an answer in mind?"
Lucent "A fellowship. A family, greater than a true family. Your friends, your companions, those you can trust with your life. You have read in your books about groups of Exalted that bandied for a common goal, temporary alliances working towards saving Creation. And that... is what we have been." He picks an apple, looking at it. "You have never been part of a Circle here, sadly enough."
Lucent throws the apple to Imrama. "They have not been a Circle since Markuran fell."
Imrama catches the apple without breaking his gaze at Lucent. "That does seem to have been a great loss of innocence for the Circlefounders, yes. I don't believe that that loss lingers in quite the same way for Phoenix as it did for Birds, however. And if it wounded Cerin, I doubt that anyone but him will ever know it for certain. So really, the injury you are describing happened to the Circle, but...
Imrama ...it was suffered by Zahara."
Lucent "When the Circle revolves around her, her friend, and her lover, that changes it all, does it not? There was an Unity of Dreams here, and it never extended to Thirteen, or me, or you. And Phoenix... Phoenix was reborn due to Birds being unable to handles us."
Lucent "We lost Birds due to that precise reason. If we had become a family... she would still be around. And for a similar reason, due to my betrayal, Phoenix left us. We could never see eye-to-eye, and neither could see with Zahara. We worked together. And that was... it."
Imrama frowns, seemingly pained. "I do not like to believe that there has been no intimacy, no true fellowship during my time in Solaria. But I must concede the basics of your assessment."
Lucent "Oh, I am not saying there has not been. Maybe you were great friends with Thirteen, and Phoenix, and Cerin; I would not know. But I broke it with Birds, Phoenix hates me, I hated Thirteen, and so on. As a Circle..." He holds his hand into a fist, then opens it, as motes scatter on the winds, "Those friendships were not together. Not in a single thing."
Lucent "Have we been friends, Imrama? Have we walked out, discussed books, our lives, the nature of Essence, our hopes and dreams, and whatever else? Have we done things together that have bound us?" He asks, "Think on it, do not say just the first thing that comes to mind. I admire you much, Imrama Stormfound... more than you know. But at the same time... I am not sure we are friends. Not in the way a Circle, a true Circle requires."
Imrama looks away for the first time, thinking. "Your wisdom is commensurate with your age, dear Lucent..."
Lucent smiles, picking up Imrama's hand as if to make a blood bond. "I admire you, Imrama Stormfound, and pehaps the opposite is true. But for the Exalted there is power in bonds, and our emotion is what gives us our might. I would like to be your friend, Imrama Stormfound. To be as your brother."
Imrama "In truth, I'm not certain I can say that I've ever had a friend, by the standards you describe. Such is the lot being raised by a half-mad hermit. But I would sorely like to have the pleasure and honor of calling you friend. Or 'brother' - the word is strange on my tongue, but sweet. Do you have a while longer to sit with me? There are a few bawdy jokes in The Untoward Tale of the Ill-Named...
Imrama ...Airship that I quite enjoyed this morning. We may be the only two persons in Creation with the background to find them funny."
Lucent chuckles, just by imagining them, and lets go of Imrama's hand. "I have the entirety of the afternoon free. So by all means, my friend." He smiles, "Go on."