Varanim goes looking for Spring sometime after the dinner hour, checking the dojo first.
Spring is not in the dojo, but in the infirmary, slumped in a chair and grimly contemplating a pile of dust.
Varanim finds him eventually, leaning in to look Spring and the dust over with a slight frown. "At a guess, that one's dead."
Spring "That is what makes this difficult."
Spring "How are you, Varanim?"
Varanim considers the question for a moment, then shrugs. "Mostly as always, I expect. Are you... do you need any help? You look more serious than usual."
Spring "When a person is turned into a zombie, what is the disposition of their soul or souls?"
Varanim "A zombie is reanimated flesh, mostly independent of the circumstances of the original occupant. But things that make zombies usually bring other problems, so the disposition of conscious is generally suboptimal." She looks at him for a moment. "Or in normal language, it's a bit of a mess on the other side of the Shroud, if that's what you're asking."
Varanim "Actually... I was going to talk to you about that."
Spring "Oh yes?"
Varanim "Yes, I think it's a problem of tactical benevolence." She takes a seat on a scrubbed autopsy table. "Basically, there's an issue where being dead sucks."
Spring "That is exactly what I was attempting to rectify."
Spring "If their souls are not adequately disposed of, which is to say, sent to Letheos, we should be able to recover and reattach them."
Spring "In this case death is merely a rather unfortunate preexisting condition."
Varanim "Make inhabited zombies, you mean?" She looks thoughtful. "I wanted to talk about the world's population of ghosts, but yours is a more interestingly freaky idea."
Spring "Thank you I suppose."
Spring "What is your concern with regards to ghosts?"
Varanim "People don't know what to do when they're dead, so they wander around clinging to half-seen bits of their old lives. The authorities, such as they are, are either absent because their big blue man is feeling sick, or they go by lavishly pretentious names and call themselves Deathlords. Many, many ghosts drop to Oblivion instead of finding Lethe."
Varanim shrugs. "People need a plan for living after death."
Spring glances up at her thoughtfully.
Spring "You are concerned for them?"
Varanim "I can see the shape of what needs to happen--some sort of social structure through which ghosts would support each other on the way to Lethe--but planning for groups of people has never been my thing."
Varanim frowns a bit. "Does my concern matter? This little group has never been about feelings like that."
Spring "I would actually suggest that all we ever think about is our personal feelings."
Spring "Most of us are primarily upset about the attack on Solaria because they take it as an insult."
Spring *we take it
Spring "One of the characteristics of Solars, in fact, is that we spend all our time worrying about the things that we find interesting or emotional, rather than the things that matter."
Spring begins sweeping the dust carefully into an urn.
Varanim folds her hands and looks at Spring directly. "Human kindness is the only reasonable solution to many of the world's problems. I'm not insulted by war, but I recognize it as poison."
Spring stares at her for a moment. "You are being sarcastic."
Varanim "For once, no," Varanim says with a tiny smile. "See how much nicer it is when I am?"
Spring "I agree."
Spring "Implementation is the problem."
Spring "In this case, for instance, the difficulty that immediately arises is our ability to convince the ghosts that what we suggest is for their own good rather than our aggrandizement."
Spring "Ghosts tend to have fixed ideas, after all."
Varanim frowns. "The Shadeborn might provide legitimacy, but only if they can be trusted to get the hell out of the way and let things work, after."
Spring "What agenda do the Shadeborn themselves possess?"
Varanim "Unclear to me, and possibly to them. Piercing Ivory said the job was a little short on directions, so far."
Spring "Ah. A leadership vacuum."
Spring "That sounds ideal."
Varanim "You think it can be done?"
Spring "I think you have, at the very least, a beginning."
Spring "Our first step, then, must be to discuss it with the Shadeborn."
Varanim "I was thinking of bringing Imrama in, what with him being so good with the people thing."
Spring "He would certainly provide us with aid."
Spring "Shall we seek him out?"
Varanim "Let's." Varanim hops off the table, leading the way.
Spring follows, swallowing the urn.
Varanim bangs on Imrama's door, looking sideways at Spring. "How many people can you fit, anyway?"
Imrama A tired, somewhat disheveled-looking Imrama opens the door, his jade dreadlocks down and clacking freely against each other, his sumptuous robe rumpled from too many hours spent working in the night. Over his shoulder, the growing pile of finished bricks may be seen. "Varanim. Spring. Hello."
Varanim "In your belly," she's saying patiently to Spring as Imrama opens the door. To him she says, "Need your help with a people thing. Why the bricks?"
Spring "As many as I wish to, but people are hard to swallow. How many people can you fit in your belly?"
Imrama "A memorial for the lives lost in the assault by the Broken Suns." Imrama pulls his hair back into its more familiar and contained arrangement, and smiles at his two friends with interest. "What manner of people thing?"
Spring glances thoughtfully at Imrama and gestures for his hand.
Imrama , ever the trusting soul, offers his left hand while downing a cold cup of tea from the other.
Varanim "Hm, sort of a proactive-retroactive memorial thing. We need to get the Shadeborn on board for a plan to make ghosthood less Oblivion-feeding."
Spring takes his pulses, then presses lightly on Imrama's heart point while they talk, flushing the toxins brought on by sleep deprivation from his system.
Imrama looks surprised, and happily so. "Thank you, Spring." Turning back to Varanim, "Sounds like an excellent project. You would like my help in proposing it to the Shadeborn, then?"
Varanim "Yes. From past experience, I'm impatient when talking to people who don't immediately recognize my ideas as great."
Varanim "The trick is going to be not setting it up as some new kingdom of the dead."
Imrama begins to dress for travel. He makes no concession to modesty - his or anyone else's. "Just what is 'it', this plan?"
Spring "Education, primarily."
Spring "Ghosts are generally underprepared for their new existence."
Imrama pulls on some pants. "Education is important. How exactly does that risk creating a new kingdom of the dead?"
Varanim leers passingly at Imrama, but her eyes are mostly on the gleam of the new puzzle. "Given a set of teachings about how to better reach Lethe, the Shadeborn could be a good way of spreading them. The risk is that the mouthpiece becomes the message; a change of authority isn't the answer, but a change in thinking."
Imrama Buttoning his black and gold captain's coat, Imrama nods. "A very wise attitude. Well, lets be off, then." Imrama makes to exit his quarters; on the way past Varanim, his private wink has a clear message: 'Made you look.'