Summary:On Herons' island, Varanim and Zahara discuss history, then Lucent joins them for a swim.

XP:L1, V1, Z1


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Lucent On the opposite side of the island, coral reefs form natural swimming pools, and a few colorful fish swim about them together with schools of undifferentiated little fishes! Colorful algae dot the sands where little hunting birds dwell, the sound of the sea crashing to faraway barrier reef like distant thunder!

zahara , having decided that enough is enough with mysteries and irritating Sidereals, has wandered off to enjoy the weather and the surf. She glances back to see if anyone will be joining her as she kicks off her shoes, and wades into the waves in the semi-secluded pools

Varanim leaves off after several hours of glaring at clues and ambles in Zahara's direction, leaving her rope sandals at the edge of the trees and rolling up the cuffs of her pants. "You should put a beach in at the Cascade. This is nice."

zahara "The underground river just isn't the same," she agrees. I miss being able to gate to the beach.

Varanim picks her way through the pool to perch on a rock in the shallows, watching Zahara. "And what is it with boys, anyway?"

zahara blinks at Varanim, "You mean Herons? Lucent? Or boys in general?"

zahara blinks at Varanim, "You mean Herons? Lucent? Or boys in general?"

zahara leans down to pluck a small crab from the coral, not seeming to mind the hem of her elegant (as always) dress swishing in the water.

Varanim shrugs. "Herons has never annoyed me, although I gather that's only a matter of time."

zahara chuckles, "I'm sure. Though Fiercey still holds the title for Star-Chosen that irritates me most." She contemplates the wriggling thing and its fruitlessly snapping claws, grasps one to start to twist it off, then sighs. "So we have two options left."

Varanim starts picking shell bits off her rock perch and flicking them into the tide pool, aiming for a crab that escaped Zahara. "When people annoy me, which usually only when I'm awake, I just avoid them. But he gets all... you know. He gets that stupid hurt look on his face."

zahara "Relationships are complicated. There's an intricate set of expectations people put on each other, mostly without saying them aloud. And without consulting the other as to whether it's ok. Your expectation is that you will have time to yourself to deal with anger. His is that if you don't immediately work things out and get mushy again right away the sky might fall?"

zahara tosses the crab across to a different pool, having grown tired of it.

Varanim winces. "I'm not even going to start on the mushiness thing." She scowls, winging a bit of shell after the crab on its flight. "It should be clear to the most casual observer that I like my space. Why does he take it so personally?"

zahara x1;ACTION pulls her hair over her shoulder, braiding it into a long tail as she considers this. "Because he thinks that since he has no walls, you shouldn't either. Because obviously that's the best way to be," she says drily. "And he thinks you should trust him enough not to need them around him." She mulls that over for a moment. "I think that's it. He doesn't consider needing personal space to be a natural state, but a..

zahara but a...defense mechanism."

Varanim "He always wants everything, right away. Don't kids these days have any patience?" She frowns, leaning back and watching the sparks of the bonfire rise further down the beach.

zahara "He is a king. And a Solar. He is entirely used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it."

Varanim "I'm a peasant, and I don't give two shits about being a Solar except so far as it helps my work or lets me ignore kings." Her frown deepens. "Anyway, he has plenty of walls, so I don't know what he's complaining about."

zahara considers saying something on the topic of Solars and peasants but instead, she grins, "Of course he does. But they're his."

Varanim "I don't know if I'll ever trust him the way he wants." She looks back at Zahara and smirks, then, banishing the previous unreadable expression on her face. "Anyway, my personal life is boring. How's yours?

Varanim "

zahara "...mine?" She looks surprised, "It's perfect." A moment goes by where she looks away, out across the sea. "What more could I ask for?"

Varanim Her smirk widens. "Nice try, but empresses rarely run out of things to ask for." She's quiet for a moment, then says, "Do you remember the talk we had in the kitchen, shortly before I left the Cascade? You said he didn't understand being loved by someone who thought they were superior."

zahara Had she been facing the other woman, Varanim might have caught a flash of guilt in her eyes, but they are now fixed on the distant island where they had made their secret place, so long ago. "I remember, yes."

Varanim folds her legs under her, indifferently comfortable on the craggy rock of the tidal pool. "Tell me."

zahara "Tell you... " She turns back to Varanim, plucking the wet fabric of her dress away from where it's sticking to her legs. "If I do, will you tell me about your husband and family?"

Varanim looks thoughtful for a moment, then nods.

zahara nods in return and composes her thoughts.

zahara "We met in Chaya, during the Festival of Blossoms. It seems like ages ago, now. He was showing off -- dancing with the pretty girls, winning the meat-pie eating contest handily and washing it all down with absolutely ridiculous amounts of beer. I was on my own there, still not sure what it meant to be a Solar. I couldn't help but notice him."

Varanim "The loud ones are like that," she agrees, one corner of her mouth turning up.

zahara "He was loud and boastful and... absolutely full of life and joy. He was my opposite. I wandered the festival for a week, performing small magics in the mortal fashion, but we just kept running into each other. Later, he told me that I caught his eye as well. The eye in the storm, calm and solemn, and untouched by the swirl of chaos around me. I saw him in the crowd when I summoned the fire elementals, and danced with them."

Varanim "Young love," she smirks, eyes drifting closed and looking almost meditative on her rock perch.

zahara "The next day, I ran into him again, this time he had no one draped over his arms, and... We went to a quiet grove. We spoke, and he made me laugh for the first time in weeks. I could tell, though, that he was hiding something. Eventually I divined it. He wasn't mortal, as I wasn't. After knowing that, how could I turn down a man with such a fine ass?" Her far-off look breaks for a quick grin.

Varanim "There are worse places to start than a fine ass," she agrees.

zahara "We went through many trials together, from Anathema, hunted as demons... to mastery of our souls and the rising of the Sunlands. He was filled with the light and surety of the Sun's love, and an expansive love of the mortals around us. I chose a different path--of control over the terrors that seek to destroy Creation; Demons, the Fae. And over those that sought to destroy me for who I was."

Varanim "We do like to be in control, don't we?"

zahara x1;ACTION laughs. "Yes, yes we do." She plucks a rock from the sea and absently molds it into a new shape. "Our relationship grew... strained. I tried to love him, but I couldn't understand him. And he saw what I was doing and began to accuse me of doing evil. He kept trying to fix me, you know. To try to cajole me into having a heart that I did not possess. I was happy with who I was. I didn't cloud my vision with the illusion that mo

zahara mortals were all-important. I didn't need redemption of any kind. But he wouldn't give up. It was too much."

Varanim listens with eyes closed. "Who broke first?"

zahara "I did. I drove him away by becoming increasingly cruel, but he was tenacious. His all-important love of the Sun - as if I wasn't Chosen myself! No, that wasn't love, not anymore. The shreds of it that I'd felt had torn free again, and I told him that it was over. That he would wake with a demon in his bed if he didn't leave me alone. For the sake of the Empire, we remained together in a fashion, but no longer in love, and no l

zahara and no longer in a relationship. And until the day he was...taken away, he still continued to try to redeem me."

Varanim "People like to believe they can change others," Varanim says, opening her eyes. "It's rarely true."

zahara "I have changed... but of my own choice. Not anyone else's. And... in the final irony of our relationship, it was I who redeemed him."

Varanim "Hmm. People like to believe in redemption, too." She unfolds her legs, bare feet splashing down into the tide pool, and stretches with a slightly metallic popping of joints. "Still and all, it was a good story."

zahara "Well, It wasn't exactly redemption, but it was close enough."

Varanim spreads her hands, offering no further comment on redemption. "Nothing's free. What do you want to know?"

zahara "Tell me about your husband and son. Your life before all this." She gestures vaguely. "What did you love?"

Varanim pulls a handful of something small and clattering from her pockets and bends to wash it in the sea water as she speaks. "I lived in a little village with a failing mine, so it was normal enough that I married a miner. Three months later, Kelen was born. I wanted to leave, to study at a university, but Adar asked me to give it a little longer and I always agreed."

zahara "What happened?"

Varanim "I was a much angrier person then. Things were difficult, but still I think we were going to make it." She shrugs. "When Kelen was four, there was a collapse in the mine tunnels. Adar and nine others were killed." She lifts the thing she was washing--a handful of little bird skills--up to inspect, then repockets them.

zahara "So frail," she murmurs. "And so quickly does a life change."

Varanim "The next few weeks were worse. Old feuds kicked up, grieving families looked for blame, people said the mine was cursed. If it wasn't true at the beginning, it became so. Livestock began to disappear at night, mothers miscarried, the stream went sour and killed all the fish. I packed to leave, but Kelen had a fever, so I stayed a few extra days."

zahara frowns. "A Shadowland?"

Varanim "My first." Varanim resumes gathering bits of shell to skip across the water. "One night, I dreamed that Adar was lying beside me again. He said that everything was all right, the bad times would be over soon. I knew it wasn't real, but it was sweet all the same." She tosses the last shell, half-smiling. "When I woke in the morning, Kelen's body was already cold."

zahara frowns. "It seems he passed on the wrong message."

Varanim shrugs. "Maybe death made him a vengeful ghost. Or it was just a dream, my way of saying goodbye. Or it was the right message after all--had I stayed in my village, there are a large number of interesting things I would never have seen." She turns to smirk at Zahara again. "There. If it was an interesting story, I'd have told it long ago."

zahara "It was interesting enough." She kneels down in the water, so that the waves almost submerge her at their crests. "So that's why you learned Necromancy. The shadowlands. Did you ever try to summon him?"

Varanim "It was a beginning," she agrees, "and no, I never did." Then she lifts her voice a bit. "Lucent, want to stop hiding behind that tree?"

zahara "Boys," she sighs

Lucent Poorly-concealed behind the tree the figure of Lucent Copper Haze eeps! "... oh, um... ah."

Varanim "He's too shiny to hide, but he tries anyway. It's cute, in an idiotic sort of way," she sighs to Zahara.

zahara "How long have you been listening there?"

Lucent sighs, walking towards them, "Well, I didn't mean to DISTURB..."

Lucent "For... a while." He offers, looking a little embarassed. "It was enlightening."

zahara scowls half-heartedly at him.

Varanim folds her hands behind her head, looking at him appraisingly. "I doubt it, but at least it'll save you the trouble of asking me about all that later."

Lucent "And it seems the Zenith always choose their partners well." He jokes.

zahara "Always seeking someone to redeem, yes."

Varanim smirks. "Anyone looking to a priest for good judgment deserves what they get."

Lucent "... I have stopped. Kind of." He rubs the back of his neck. "I am just trying to understand you now."

Varanim looks at Lucent for a moment, almost as if she would smile, then reaches out and musses his hair instead. "Good luck, kiddo. Now, did you come out here solely for snooping, or maybe to tell us there are delicious roasted crabs ready?"

Lucent "No, actually I was going to ask you two for a swim! You seemed to be jealous of last time."

Lucent makes a sweeping movement at the crystalline reefs and sea before them! "And this is BEAUTIFUL!"

Varanim "I'm a terrible swimmer, but don't let me stop you. Make friends with pretty fish, or look for mermaid hair-braiding parties, or whatever." She adds privately to him, ::But come back for a walk on the beach when you're done.::

zahara shakes her head a little.

Lucent ::Death before public snuggling. So you.:: He replies with amusement.

Varanim ::Infantile desire for public territory marking, yourself.::

zahara "All the mermaids I've met have been Fae in a shape that amused them"

Lucent ::Guilty.::

Lucent "And are they not beautiful, Zahara?" He says with a somewhat vacant smile.

zahara "Of course they are," she smiles. "It is their way."

Cerin ----

Lucent splashed on the water of the unknown island! "So, I think we should name this!"

zahara "The island?" She lingers near the shore, more sedate than Lucent but enjoying the surf and sun.

Lucent "HmmmHmmm. You saw what Spring said. It is OUR island now. And he is SMART." He nods.

zahara "We could call it 'The Isle of...' what animals eat herons?"

Lucent "I... have no idea." Lucent scratched his chin... then cupped some water in an impossible fashion, throwing it in a perfect way at Zahara's forehead! "Think, Empress, THINK! What would your subjects think?"

zahara "I don't know...what about tigers? Eeerybody loves tigers."

Lucent "Tiger island! It has potential. And I love felines in general. Imrama will approve!"

Lucent nods and considers. "Maybe we should build a palace here. We already have Summer, and Winter Palace is going on the Kashaen Homelands without question, so... Autumn? Spring?"

zahara "I think the name 'Spring' is taken. Let's go with Autumn."

Lucent "We are running out of seasons." He grins, splashing out of the water towards her! "Maybe we should make new ones. And I like Autumn. Are we going to make it all bright red and orange? I like red..."

zahara ducks a splash, and smiles. "Red is a wonderful color, yes."

Lucent "Except with Fierce, I guess. But you like blood." He grins, "Not coming?"

zahara "Fierce looks better in red too." She suddenly reaches down to the crest of an incoming wave and splashes it into his face.

Lucent "Not coming to the water." He pouts. "Is it still satisfying? With Fierce?"

zahara "It is, yes..." She wades further into the waves, before admitting, "But not as much as it used to."

Lucent "Your hair looks good with the ocean now, you know. Maybe you are one of the mermaids... you ARE fae-touched." He winks, to lighten the mood, floating some as her words hang in the air... "Not as much because he is getting tiresome, or because the whole activity is?"

zahara "Thanks. Maybe the Autumn Palace should be blue instead... " She submerges herself in the water fully, kicking off the bottom to propel herself forward with strong if not quite practiced strokes. As she does, her dress shifts into a barely-there suit of thin blue fabric that matches her hair. When she surfaces, she sighs. "Everything."

Lucent "The color of the sea and the sky, so someone coming to it from afar could scarcely even see it? A mirage over an island, forever unseen?" He catches a fish, just to see that he could, watching it thrash about his hand before giving it back. "Everything... how so?"

zahara shakes her head, unable to frame her feelings in simple words. "I look in the mirror, Lucent, and I don't recognize the woman in the reflection."

Lucent "Oh. You are... becoming."

zahara "Becoming?"

Lucent "Between who you are... and someone else. Becoming. I remember that."

zahara "Yes... Becoming." She nods slowly. "I don't like it."

Lucent "Nobody does. But you cannot go back. It feels... fake."

zahara "So does forward."

Lucent "The wrong foward, yes. But being like that..." He swims about her, "Adrift in the current."

Lucent "It can feel good, but for someone like you, will always be unsatisfying as well. Because no place is yours'."

zahara "I hate not having control. In the past, even when the world conspired against me, I knew who I was. I wasn't full of these contradicting emotions and... things."

Lucent "It was fine having a lover you fought. An amorous relationship can work based on infighting. But then, you got friends... too many friends, too powerful, and everything went wrong too quickly. And we, and the world, it is hard to relate to us in anger. Or domination."

zahara snorts. "Oh it's easy to relate to you all in anger."

Lucent grins. "We ARE a pretty silly bunch, hmmm?"

zahara smiles. "That's one way to say it, yes."

Lucent "What would be others?"

zahara "Crazy. Infuriating." She grins

Lucent "That is ONE way to view it! Another is..." And then he jumps on her and pulls her underwater suddenly! ::... that we ARE, pretty much!::

zahara "AAghpwppgttthfft!

Lucent ::Your underwater wit leaves much to be desired!:: He lets go, underwater!

zahara claws back to the surface with an indignant sputter. "You're gonna pay for that!"

zahara launches herself at him, laughing

Lucent surfaces! "No doubrrgggaaasshhhh!!!" And un-surfaces!

zahara grins, and waits til he comes up before splashing him

Lucent laughs, splashing her back with more impossible waterballs! "See? Simple!"

zahara "I seeeee."

zahara ducks underwater to avoid them

Lucent "Just focus on this: we can always harass the hell out of each other."

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Page last modified on March 16, 2009, at 08:36 PM