Summary:One by one, the Solars become trapped inside a secret room as they tick away the final moments of the year.

XP:I4, S4, V4, Z4

< I'm Going To Live Forever | Sol Invictus Logs | Zahara Zhan and the Malevolently Malicious Malefactor's Malady >

`Varanim When Imrama misses dinner with his special favorite soup, someone asks where he is, and Varanim asks the Cascade. After also asking it how he got there, and receiving an unnecessarily but humorously detailed answer, she reflects that he wouldn't want to miss the momentous upcoming occasion. She finds him in a room whose existence she has always suspected, but few know of definitively:

`Varanim the Slate Chamber, where innumerable multicolored and partially-worked pieces of stone line the walls and shelves, held ready to repair damage to the Cascade before Zahara can notice it. When Varanim asks the door on the way in how many lives have been saved by this contrivance, she learns the building-language way to say many.

`Imrama Hearing the sound of the wall panels sliding against each other, Imrama whirls around to see the entering Varanim. "Don't let that door close!"

`Varanim reaches back an arm to catch it--unfortunately, with the wrong arm, and the door closes snugly on empty air. "Don't worry, I'm sure we can find another through simple geomantic principles." There is then one of those tiny conversational gaps where she doesn't snigger because it would be superfluous.

`Varanim "Have you given up yet? The queenmaker business, not the door, I mean. Hold out hope there."

`Imrama returns to surveying the seems in the wall. "You believe that I have some particular interest in seeing a crown on your head?"

`Varanim "I believe you have a childlike faith in the power of crowned heads to heal the wounds of the world. That this illness of yours has settled on me as the next candidate is probably some sign of accelerating degeneration in your mind, and you might want to have Spring look into it."

`Imrama stoops and runs his index finger along the perfect crease where a section of wall meets the floor. "I would say that you are extrapolating an observation far, far beyond the scope that evidence will support. And while I do not make it a practice to lecture my friends about arenas in which they are experts and I am not: I'm pretty sure that's not the sort(

`Imrama of pathway your scholarly mind is normally prone to."

`Varanim "Leaving aside the muddy trails my scholarly mind wanders, are you sure about the Spring thing? Because I'm pretty sure most reasonable people, looking from the outside, would wonder if you're feeling all right given the task you set yourself. It isn't one of those self-flagellation things Lucent occasionally goes in for, is it?"

`Imrama stands up and makes the same motion, with the opposite hand, along the ceiling seem. He sighs, and turns to look at Varanim.

`Imrama "Let me be clear: I do not trust monarchs and potentates implicitly as a class. In fact, I distrust them entirely, as a group. The desire to rule over others is not healthy, and it almost never indicates a suitability for such a role."

`Imrama "I trust myself, and my friends, and a small number amongst the powerful whom I have met and gotten to know. That is, I trust them to do what is right, to the best of their abilities."

`Imrama "For now, you and I are more powerful than the great mass of people in the world. To see them freed from others who share our power but not our ethics, we must act. We may permit ourselves many luxuries, but neutrality must not be one of them."

`Varanim raises her eyebrows. "Snideness briefly aside, if you can believe that, are you not bothered by the fact that we're a bunch of emotionally unbalanced--and unbalancing--egomaniacs? My antics, for example, are amusing only insofar as they affect very few people."

`Spring knocks lightly on the door, then walks in. "Are you all right, Imrama? I brought you some special favorite soup, but I ate it. It should still be good."

`Imrama chuckles softly and warmly at the idea that this is Varanim with snideness briefly aside.

`Imrama "Don't let that door close!"

`Spring looks unexpectedly tired, and misses the catch as he reaches back, allowing the door to shut again.

`Imrama hangs his head dejectedly for a long moment. Without raising it, he holds out his hand. "Alright. Lets have the soup then."

`Spring turns, gagging, and produces a steaming hot bowl, which he hands proudly to Imrama. A few more coughs produce a spoon.

`Spring "What are you two doing in here? Admiring the stonework?"

`Varanim "I was berating him, and he was trying to like me anyway. It's one of my favorite games."

`Imrama "Mine too!" Imrama offers, eating his soup.

`Spring "Ah. Can I play?"

`Spring "You are too tall."

`Imrama "And you, my friend, are just the right amount of blind."

`Spring "I am not sure I agree."

`Varanim "Just before you arrived," she helpfully fills in for Spring, "I was suggesting he have you try to fix his head, which is clearly broken. Discuss."

`Spring "Hm."

`Spring "What do you suggest is wrong with it?"

`Imrama SLURP "The ability to trust others." SLURP

`Spring "Hm."

`Spring "No, I think it might actually be dangerous to increase that any further in Imrama."

`Varanim "On the other hand, my position is that he's trying to make royalty out of me. QED."

`Spring "You already are royalty, Varanim, you just do not acknowledge it."

`Spring "In at least two, possibly three ways."

`Spring "You are Exalted, you have a great destiny, you command an immortal ghost army, Zahara tolerates you. Four ways."

`Varanim "Zahara also tolerates her butler, and I entertain some hopes that I may have shaved the destiny off with the arm. Two ways."

`Spring "Zahara tolerates her butler because she gave him a title -- he is the Duke of the Parlor, Coatroom, and Hallway-Upon-Entrance."

`Spring "That is why the footmen are always bowing to him."

`Imrama "You are hoping that you've managed to dodge the legacy of being one of the Sun's 300 though loss of limb. And I'm the crazy one?" SLURP

`Varanim "Yes, but she... wait, she hasn't given me any titles while I wasn't looking, has she?"

`Zahara In the near-distance, the lost troupe can hear the grinding of granite and slate announces that the Cascade is shifting once more. Whether by its own whim or by the will of another is quite difficult to tell from inside the Slate Room, however it does not take long before a rather pregnant pause can almost be FELT from outside the room. "What's THIS?" comes through the wall.

`Spring "Oh no."

`Varanim "We're agreed to blame Imrama, right?"

`Imrama "I'm just eating soup!"

`Zahara The wall they'd come through does not part so much as split, and Zahara's irritated gaze falls upon the miniature soup party, and then flicks to the neat arrays of slate.

`Spring "You broke it."

`Varanim points to

`Varanim points to Imrama with her missing arm, which translates into a sort of subtle lean.

`Zahara "Broke... what exactly?"

`Zahara "Why are you all conspiring in a secret room full of suspiciously matching slate, eating soup?"

`Varanim "Is there a better place for us to hide out of the way while you do creepy demon-summoning preparations?"

`Zahara "Oh please. It's not like I've been up to my elbows in blood."

`Imrama raises his hand. "I've been trapped here for five hours. Varanim and Spring only arrived recently. Spring brought me the soup."

`Spring "The parts of that sentence involving me are true."

`Varanim "Also, I've never had an object answer questions as passive-aggressively as your house did about Imrama."

`Zahara "What do you mean?"

`Varanim "I'd give you the long version, but I remember something about the end of the world coming. In brief, I don't think it likes him. Is that supposed to be possible?"

`Spring "What did it say?" Spring inquires in House-speak by rapping on some of the slate in a non-destructive fashion.

`Zahara "Not officially, but I don't make a habit of talking to objects."

`Varanim "It gave me an extensive, and frankly fairly smug list of the various closets and side passages it routed him through before turning out here. It seems to view him as some sort of mobile duster."

`Zahara "Well, come on then. It took me long enough to find you all that we'll be late for the grand summoning if we don't hurry. I suppose I should thank the Cascade for at least putting you all in one room."

`Varanim "Should, but won't," she says, following.

`Spring follows along, patting the slate affectionately.

`Imrama gives a narrow-eyed look of ill-will to the room, and follows.

`Zahara leads the way to the latest addition - the Malakim-Summoning Emporium

`Zahara Whereas the thaumaturgical rituals associated with the typical demon summoning are performed with the blood of humans, the ritual performed here is of a different calibre. The ichor and finely-ground bone of demons are used to create the intricate patterns that will temporarily bind the Malakim until Zahara can bend its will to her own. There are a few designated spots outside the main

`Zahara dodecagram, each with their own protective ritual cast about them - one for each of the Circle.

`Spring finds the one that looks least effective and stands in it, on the assumption it was meant for him.

`Varanim finds the one with the little spiders and bats cleverly implied by the sigils, and gives Zahara an approving thumbs-up.

`Zahara grins

`Imrama chooses the one with the boat on it.

`Zahara The runes are mirrored in salt-jade on the ceiling, and yet more are splashed in a precisely abstract fashion on the wall by what looks like the fingerpainting stylings of a manticore.

`Zahara And presiding over it, of course, the ephemeral figure of Brigid Zhan, to whom Zahara grants a deep bow.


< I'm Going To Live Forever | Sol Invictus Logs | Zahara Zhan and the Malevolently Malicious Malefactor's Malady >

Page last modified on April 25, 2011, at 08:15 PM