A little research has shown Imrama that his quarry works in the Department of Abstract Matters, and so it is that he has journeyed to the headquarters thereof: a squat building, resembling one-third of a cube with various curved structures emerging from it and floating nearby it, known as The Concept of Unimaginable Distance.
Imrama Approaching the building, Imrama adopts a number of specific postures, both meaning-laden and essence-charged, that indicate peace, respect, authority and official business. Entering the complex itself, he simply heads to the highest, most important offices until someone questions or interrupts him.
Varanim dressed up for the occasion, and has been virtually silent since arriving--clearly on her best behavior all around.
z`ahara watches Imrama's various postures and such with interest, though she does not copy them.
Ae The doorway of the building opens, the slanted oval half on the right sliding downwards into the ground even as the upright rhombus of the left slides upwards into the recesses of the building's exterior wall, and the Solars are permitted access.
Ae Immediately inside, there is a beautifully decked out rotunda, in which flowers of many improbable color combinations -- indigo stalks with white petals, reddish-orange stalks with green petals, and more -- fill elaborate, spun-sugar vases, and several hallways stretch out into the building itself.
Ae At the center, inside a perfectly circular desk, is a god whose body is formed of hundreds of little metal sticks, all joined together with what look to be flexible elastic bands of some kind; it has twenty-seven arms, distributed in an even radial pattern around its torso, and three distinct abstract metallic faces; it seems to be busily working with all of them.
Ae This particular deity goes by the name of Jawor.
Imrama walks up to the apparent functionary, and greets him with the appropriate protocol. "Bless the holy name of Jawor, esteemed member of the Heavenly Host. We come to meet with the Daimyo of the Division of Exaltation, the pure and beneficent Lytek."
stryck watches, curious
Varanim ::Zahara, can you do something for me?::
zahara ::such as?::
Varanim ::If I get smote on this little jaunt, tell Lucent it was his fault for making me wear a dress.::
Jawor turns to Imrama -- that is, he rotates very slightly so that one of his three faces is arrayed in Imrama's direction -- and responds. "Please state your name, your authorization, and the nature of your visit. Sign in here," he says, and two hands bring to the space in front of Imrama a board with a piece of paper on it and a quill pen.
zahara coughs. ::Yes ma'am::
Imrama writes out the full names and titles of himself and his friends. Under 'Authorization' he lists Chosen of the Sun, Officers of the Exalted Deliberative, and *Close personal friends of Cerin the Wolf. As to purpose, he simply jots: mechanics of exaltation, history of shards, and the Great Curse.
Jawor picks up the board with yet another hand and scans it briefly with yet another face. "Your credentials appear to be in order," it says. "Please proceed along the marked route, as referenced by the assembled pathway guidance," as four more hands assemble a set of interlocking white jade blocks into a model of the exact pathway the Solars must follow, and hand it to Imrama when complete.
Imrama bows, makes the 8-pointed sign of the sun before his chest, and turns to follow the directions provided.
Imrama leads the way through a variety of oddly-angled hallways, finally arriving at a specific doorway: a large, oaken-paneled door, a golden nameplate upon it that once was quite elegant and fine, but now is tarnished and rubbed partially off.
Varanim "First thing I've seen here that looks lived-in."
Imrama "We have departed from the tour route now, I believe." Imrama wraps one knuckle soundly against the oaken door three times, and waits.
After a long, empty pause, a voice -- low, a little distracted, and with an odd twinge to it -- calls out from behind the door. "Yes? Who's there?"
Imrama "Imrama Stormfound, Zahara Zhan, and Varanim the Last. We come to you, O Lytek, to talk of many things."
Lytek: "Imrama... Imrama..." he says, as if running through his mind. "Oh!," he says, with a bit of a squeak. "Hold on just a moment, I just need to tidy up quickly..."
Varanim folds her hands and listens for rummaging inside with a look of some curiosity.
The rummaging goes on for some time before finally the door opens up and the office within is revealed.
The room is well-appointed and elegant, without much trace of whatever mess they were delayed outside for the cleaning of. A large oaken desk matches the wood paneling upon the walls, and a great cabinet, ornately carved with suns, moons, stars, and other, yet odder things, stands solemnly in one corner of the room.
Standing behind the door is Lytek himself: a rather wild-haired god, but well made-up, in rather over-elaborate robes of many different colors, metallic rings on his fingers and strange beads dangling from his sleeves... He stands there, something vaguely resembling a look of guilt or embarrassed concern halfheartedly playing on his face as he beckons the Solars in.
Imrama bows and enters. "Thanks be to you for receiving us, Steward of Shards. We have many questions for which I hope you have answers. The Turning of the Age has returned many things thought lost, and there is much knowledge and wisdom still to be restored to the world."
Varanim "What he said," agrees Varanim, clearly feeling that following in Imrama's wake is a safe path to politeness.
"I...indeed," he says. "Come in and sit down," he says, a little awkwardly, then turns to pour himself a cup of tea from pot he has set upon one of the shelves.
zahara walks over to the cabinet, contemplating its strange design as she listens.
Varanim "Not many visitors?" Varanim asks semi-rhetorically as she sits.
Lytek seats himself in the larger chair, across from where his visitors seat themselves, and stirs his tea with one hand.
He seems to be awkwardly avoiding Varanim's question.
Varanim blinks, as if intrigued by the notion of someone less socially ept than herself.
Imrama "Perhaps we could start with the many categories of Celestial and Terrestrial Exaltation. Since their creation at the dawn of the Primordial War, several of them have been diminished, damaged, hidden or lost entirely. Our Circle has been instrumental in events that have resurrected some of the lost Chosen to Creation, and we would like to better understand the many types of our brethren...
Imrama ...their natures and histories, and how we might restore the pattern of Exaltation to its height at the outbreak of the War."
zahara "He likes to start small, you see," she comments idly
"That's... big," he says. "Very big." He blinks.
Imrama ::We are in Heaven, talking to the divine officer who presides over the single most powerful force for change in existence. I am simply attempting to think on his scale.::
"I'm not really quite sure where to begin."
Imrama "Lets start with the Terrestrials. I suspect that the Dragonblooded and the Golden Ones are operating below their optimal numbers due to diffusion of their bloodlines into the greater human population. Can you confirm this. Can you tell us anything about the as-yet unaccounted for Beastborn, Starcrossed or Shadow-kissed?"
Lytek looks a little proud for a moment, though it only cuts ever so briefly through his palpable anxiety. "None of the columns are empty," he says, prompting a nervous grin. "For the first time in years!"
Varanim laces her fingers together, soulsteel and flesh, over one knee. "Why the jitters?"
Imrama claps his hands together and smiles broadly, sharing in Lytek's excitement. "That is tremendous news. We would like to see all your columns filled back up again. Is there anything you can tell us that might aid in that goal?"
"I... have a very important position," he says. "Very busy." He takes a big gulp of tea.
He seems to get almost a little misty-eyed as he talks about the Exalts. "They've done well for themselves," he says. "Resistant and tough, just as I hoped." He runs his hand along the side of his desk absentmindedly. "Their numbers are smaller, but their potential..." he says, his eyes widening slightly. "It is still great."
Imrama "...Indeed." Imrama purses his lips, and shrugs. "On the matter of that potential, another concern of ours is the psychic flaw inherent to Exaltation that we have only recently encountered evidence of. Is this something you're aware of?"
Lytek suddenly clams up. After a long, quiet moment, he looks back and forth at the Exalts again. "The... what?"
Varanim "You know, the cracks spreading from the flaw in the world."
Imrama "The breaking of the Laws of Kingship. The First Herald's work, I believe."
Lytek blanches. He looks wildly back and forth, and then, suddenly, rushes over to pull shut the shades on the windows of his office.
Imrama ::We seem to have struck a nerve.::
Varanim ::We did just ask to look at his dirty underwear.::
He sits back down at the desk, looking dramatically more nervous than he did shortly before. "Please," he says. "Stay quiet!"
zahara "It would be a shame if we weren't, wouldn't it?" she observes
Imrama "Seneschal of the Second Breath, we cannot. For the sake of ourselves and all Creation, we cannot. This is a problem that has plagued the Exalted Host and their compatriots, subjects and victims for millennial. We would see it put to right. Will you help us, or will you cower in your long-forgotten office? What sort of a god are you?"
"NO," he says, rather loudly, and then -- back in his conspiratorial whisper -- "I mean keep your voice down." He looks around again. "You don't know who might be listening out there."
Varanim "Who are you worried about listening?" Varanim asks, after a moment of pondering the question for herself.
Imrama lowers his tone to match Lytek's. "I can think of few candidates who could eavesdrop at one volume, but not at another. Still, if it please you, we may whisper while discussing the matter."
"Every little bit helps," he says. "How did you find out?"
Imrama inclines his head towards Varanim with a gesture that says 'Take it away.'
Varanim "I heard it from a hekatonkhire, the Thrice-Entombed Self, though there were other rumors."
zahara carves a new symbol into the chest, and then leans back
"Ohhhh dear," he says. "This has been a problem for so long," he says, "but almost no one else has kno... WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" He shouts suddenly as he sees Zahara's carving.
zahara looks innocent
Varanim smiles the bright, self-satisfied smirk of someone who has just realized she's not the problem child on this trip.
Lytek blinks in shock for several moments, then apparently sees nothing else to do but continue. "There's been nothing I've been able to do," he says, and shakes his head.
zahara "What have you tried?"
"I've looked over the shards," he says. "I've tested the bloodlines. I've gone down to the tiniest mote, looking for any cause." He shakes his head, despairingly. "Nothing."
Varanim "If you can't fix the problem, who have you asked for help, and what's your next line of research?"
"I can't ask for help around here," he says. "Not after what happened."
Varanim "Ah, so you were straightening up for your sabbatical, to pursue the question elsewhere?"
zahara "Which specific thing that happened can't you ask after?"