Summary:Zahara fills in Varanim on her relationship with Akuna.

XP:V1, Z1


< Always, But We Prevail | Sol Invictus Logs | Lots of Potential Consequences >

z walks deliberately down the path of the garden, following the curves automatically. The moonlight turns the bright colors to silver-blue monochrome and she scans the shadows for unwelcome guests. She turns a corner and pauses, seeing Varanim there.

Varanim is reclining at the base of a knotty ornamental tree, apparently contemplating the stars through its branches and visible mostly by the red glow of her cigar as she inhales. She turns her head at Zahara's approach and waves a hand, either a greeting or an invitation to sit.

z slides down against the trunk of the tree and tilts her head upward to see the stars. "Hi."

Varanim only grunts in greeting, blowing out a long stream of passably aromatic smoke. After a moment of consideration she adds, "If this is about your empire paperwork, the answer is still to burn it all."

z "Burn the empire? That hardly seems like you," she says, deadpan.

Varanim "Shows what you know--I hate the cold," she smirks. "So what is it, really?"

z rakes her fingers through her damp hair, pulling the blue strands forward over her shoulder to braid it. "You wanted to know why Akuna's downfall was worth risking the ...un-lives... of ghosts over? I suppose you deserve more than evasion and

z ...half-truths."

Varanim "I generally think so," she agrees, her smirk broadening before it vanishes and her eyes glitter at Zahara from the shadows. "So?"

z shifts, clasping her hands together briefly, then twisting her ring on her finger. She stares into the distance, then grits her teeth and gets it out all at once. "He is smart enough to arrange my kidnap, cruel enough to use my techniques against me, twisted enough to use my... friend, possessed as the agency of my torture, and cunning enough to arrange for Cerin to be the only one available to rescue me.

z Things did not apparently go exactly as he planned after that, but..." She shrugs. "He did not exactly lose that engagement either."

Varanim is silent until the end of another smoke exhalation. "He sounds like an exemplar of the breed."

z pushes the ring up so she can see the sunburst tattoon on her finger. "You could say that. He is old, and powerful. He has even less of a conscience than I do."

Varanim "And?" She rolls her head sideways a bit to look at Zahara. "I'm sorry for what was done to you, though I suspect you've about as much use for pity as I do."

z "In another situation I would admire his technique," she admits. "But he has made it personal and while I was his... guest, he made it clear that he would stop at nothing to get what he wants." She tilts her head finally, to meet Varanim's gaze. "What more do you need?"

Varanim resumes her consideration of the stars. "You've told me that he wronged you and that he was good at it. That's a reason for me to dislike him, not to intrigue on a national scale."

z "Then perhaps you should ask the Haltans that he overthrew and slew for their opinion on whether or not they wish to intrigue against him on a national scale."

Varanim "Naturally," she says, looking a little surprised. "I've already started looking into it."

Varanim "By which I mostly mean I've got other people looking into it, since I hate talking to dead people."

z "There is no avoiding the fact that what we do, by our very natures, affects people on a national scale. He did not choose to abduct me from a personal vendetta, but for the fact that I rule a nation. And by our friendship, you have become tied to the fate of nations as well."

z "For that, I am sorry."

Varanim rolls abruptly into an upright sitting position, looking over at the empress with eyes that glint golden in the night-shrouded garden. "Zahara, are you straightfacedly asking me to believe that you want to strike at Akuna for the sake of the people of Halta? I didn't realize you considered me a stupid woman."

z shrugs a little. "Halta is... complicated. You're right that I care more about Akuna's downfall than the freedom of the Haltans. Their freedom is a side-benefit to me, but nonetheless important to THEM." She closes her eyes, images of a young girl running through the bridges and treetops flickering across her mind. "Do what you want."

Varanim is silent for a moment, then says, "Thank you for telling me. It matters that you were honest." There's a look on her face like she's struggling with the urge to say something else, then she shrugs it off before Zahara's eyes open and stubs out her cigar on a stone instead. "Back to the charnel pits for me," she says as she rises. "Give that boy of yours a good workout."

z just nods without opening her eyes.

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