Summary:Phoenix gets an unusual map from Iallu, setting her off on a strange journey.



< Black and Green | Sol Invictus Logs | Ekalavadranata! >

Innocence It has been exactly three days since Phoenix first saw the black mark on the sun.

Innocence And now, she stands on the front step of the building, built to her specifications, where Iallu and a select few carefully chosen fellows now labor to instruct the next generation of skilled courtiers.

Innocence It has been the sort of day, one might say, that simply raises further questions.

Innocence After a moment, a handmaiden -- Jesejica, who had been so clumsy when she had first met her -- arrives at the door. "Oh. Phoenix! We weren't expecting you."

Phoenix` "Naturally not, I didn't send word ahead. How are things?"

Phoenix` dusts off her riding gear and hands the reins of her horse—one of Zahara's messenger corps' mounts, fleet of foot but plain of pelt and tack—to...someone.

Innocence "They go well," she says. "We have a number of students, now, and the maidens have slowly been growing accustomed to this new task of educating them." She issues several orders in the haughty clicking tongue of the southeastern tribes to the servant who takes Phoenix's reins, and opens the door wider, so that she may see inside.

Innocence The grand oaken archways and beauteous red and white banners, calligraphed elegantly in a confident hand, give the entrance hall the tone of a place in which subjects will have a truly transformative experience, and Phoenix sees that one group of five students are being led through by another of her carefully trained faculty -- all in all, it seems to be running smoothly.

Phoenix` looks pleased. "All is as I have seen it." She giggles. "Iallu looked busy. Are the other headmistresses around? Those earrings are excellent, by the way. Good work."

Innocence "Mosese should be free right now, I believe," she says. "You know where her office is, of course."

Phoenix` "Great. Can you send up a washbasin and change of clothes? Uniform robes will be fine." At Jesejica's nod, she smiles and heads off to the office.

Innocence It is a few flights up and around a corner to reach the office.

Innocence Mosese is sitting, looking quite elegant and professional, behind the ancient desk of hand-carved petrified wood, dating to the Ejo period of First Age artisanry -- carefully selected, as always.

Innocence Upon seeing Phoenix's entrance, she puts down the opal-lacquered quill she holds in one hand, her pieces of imported jewelry clinking gently on her wrist as she does so, and rises up in greeting. "Ah, Phoenix. Welcome."

Phoenix` nods her head. "Thank you, Mosese. Please do have a seat."

Innocence Mosese reseats herself. "What business brings you to see us today?" she says, with the practiced smile of perfected courtiership.

Phoenix` "Oh, you know, just taking old Peachprincess out for a ride. She was looking restless."

Phoenix` "Also I haven't seen the school since the foundations were dug. One has curiosities."

Innocence "Of course," she says. "We are glad you have come, of course. Would you like to take a look at th--" Suddenly there is a faint chiming sound, like tiny orchestral instruments, and Mosese looks with slight irritation at a small, faceted bluish paperweight on her desk, which has begun to glow a faint red.

Innocence "Excuse me for a moment," she says, places her hand on the stone, and closes her eyes.

Innocence After a long moment, Mosese removes her hand again with a slightly irritated look on her face. "Iallu appears to have something to converse with you about."

Phoenix` "...She didn't...specify any further, did she?"

Innocence "No, of course not," she says, throwing her hands in the air in an unusually strong display of sarcasm.

Phoenix` rolls her eyes. "Very good. I'll go consult with her."

Phoenix` heads outside to where she saw Iallu last.

Iallu Phoenix finds Iallu -- or possibly the other way around -- out in one of the small shrubbery-niches carefully placed at 7 auspicious locations within the building in order to maximize its success in all endeavors. "There you are!" she says, looking still quite a bit like a scattered, absent-minded middle-aged woman for all that she's been done up in a series of rather classy silk wraps (to befit her role as instructor.)

Phoenix` "Have you been giving Mo sarcasm lessons? If melodramatic hand-waving displays could kill..."

Iallu "I have been LECTURING her, if that's what you mean. Doesn't she understand that I'm the head of instruction here?" She shakes her head with practiced irritation.

Phoenix` sheds her riding boots and begins weaving a pair of slippers out of blades plucked from the finely manicured yards. "Well no, probably not. Or else she's angling for a promotion."

Phoenix` "What's on your mind, dearest? You look more vexed than usual."

Phoenix` "Only slightly, but more."

Iallu gets a conspiratorial look on her face, and pulls Phoenix bodily over into the nook. "Have you seen what's happened to the Sun lately?"

Phoenix` "Yes."

Iallu "It's happening right now!" she says, speaking rather quickly. "Do you realize what this means?"

Phoenix` gets a twinkle in her eye. She pulls Iallu closer to her. "What are we going to DO?"

Phoenix` "Um, no?"

Iallu 's eyes bug out at Phoenix's sudden enthusiastic movement.

Phoenix` "You're the one who's all full of secrets."

Iallu "Oh," she says. "Well, of course." She pulls back and straightens up for a moment. "The Darkening is ahead of schedule -- don't ask me how I know that, just bear with me for a second here."

Iallu "Now, there are a lot of things that need to happen, and I just don't know that they're all getting done!" She pauses, and lowers her voice for a moment. "I... I really don't know," she says. "That's not really my area of specialty. Anyway."

Iallu "What it comes down to is that the hinterlands need some attention," she says. "And I think your friends are kind of busy."

Phoenix` nods.

Iallu She looks Phoenix over, up and down. "...can you keep a secret?"

Phoenix` o.O "One imagines so."

Phoenix` "Unless it's a VERY GOOD secret. Then I might have to tell Zee."

Iallu pauses for just an instant, and then shoves out one hand -- a delicately enveloped note held in in -- while holding the rest of her body as far away as possible. "When I actually get involved in one of these things instead of just having to know about it I just don't know how to handle it!" she says, a deep sense of frantic embarrassment filling the words.

Phoenix` flicks open the envelope. "That's what the Exalted are FOR. What's this?" She starts reading.

The letter Phoenix opens up has just one sheet within. On it, in simple black-ink lines, is a quickly (but elegantly) sketched-out map of the expanded borders of Creation, and on THAT are a number of circular marks in brilliant golden ink, mostly out in the newly revealed borderlands.

In the lower corner, red ink marks bear the designation in Old Realm: ULTRA-CONFIDENTIAL, and then tiny characters seem to be a filing number of some kind.

Phoenix` rotates the map a couple of times. "Super secret scavenger hunt?"

"Or travel agenda," she says. "I only know where it came from -- which I can't tell you so don't ask -- and who it's attached to."

Phoenix` "Who's it...attached to?"

"Well," she says. "This is purely metaphorical, of course, but..."

She pulls out a tiny file folder and a pen, crosses off what's currently written on the tab ("Curriculum Evaluation"), writes "Birds-of-Trinity" on it in a rather childlike, loopy hand, then messily crosses THAT off, writes "Phoenix of Ashes" above that, takes the map, places it gently into the file folder, and hands it back.

Phoenix` snickers. "So, what you're trying to avoid saying is that, at each of these places, there's something I need to see or do, and preferably as soon as possible."

"No, what I'm trying to avoid saying is that I'm not supposed to have that and not supposed to give it to you but I wound up with it anyway and therefore HAD to give it to you." She pauses and makes a face like someone who accidentally just swallowed a frog. "DAMMIT."

Phoenix` "Oh, okay. Here, um, have..." she fumbles in her pockets, "a caramel meach." She pats Iallu's shoulder awkwardly. "I won't tell anyone. What else is going on?"

Iallu takes it with a guilty expression. "Nothing much else, really, at all, really," she says, still a little frazzled. "The school is running swimmingly," she says. "Just because I give Mosese a hard time doesn't mean that she isn't doing her job, I suppose...."

Phoenix` "I thought as much. It looks like you need a little bit of a break, though. Take some time to delve down into the libraries. There's a caravan of old books and things coming from Whitewall in a few days, maybe something neat will be in it. Mo and the others can hold down the fort."

Phoenix` thinks.

Iallu sighs in relief. "Are you sure?" she says. "I want everything to work out immaculately here. But... diving into a caravan of old books... that does sound nice...." She seems almost distracted at the idea.

Phoenix` "Matter of fact, let's talk about re-dividing responsibilities around here. Mosese's clearly a little bored, so maybe we can have her teach a few more swordsmanship classes, and there needs to be a secretary to keep everyones' papers in order."

"Hmmm, yes, yes... I think you're right."

Phoenix` "Everything looks pretty immaculate so far. I can't have the students thinking you're overworked! What will their parents think? Take a vacation once the books arrive."

Phoenix` looks at the map again. "So, where to first?"

"Well, they're not ordered or anything," she says, half-distractedly, "but if you want to start with a vacation, I recommend Salustren, over here," she says, jabbing a spot on a southwestern island. "I hear they have mangos there bigger than your head."

Phoenix` "Sounds fun. Are there...monsters? Hostile natives? Young muscular fishermen with too much free time?"

Phoenix` looks furtively from side to side. "Just trying to get an idea of what I'm getting into here."

"Young muscular monsters with too much free time?"

< Black and Green | Sol Invictus Logs | Ekalavadranata! >

Page last modified on February 14, 2009, at 07:17 PM