The Undying Empire: Writs as a Tool
June 3, 2019, 8:30 p.m.
Sina Merek Cambria Valdemar Leona Acantha Lucita Shard Scythia Tescelina Brianna Sorrel Peri Eilonwy Emrys Silas Evonleigh Alistair Mihaly Rinel Mirella Vincenzo Bedivere Eshken Thorn Mia Sparte Nurie Bhandn Jeffeth Mailys Narcissa Vitalis Delilah Monique Jasher Aleksei Quintin Amari Mirk Cadern Brigida Josephine Caelis Ailith
Arx - Ward of the Compact - Vellichorian Academy - Hall of Tutelage
Comments and Log
As the time approaches for the arrival of the emissary from the Undying Empire, Archscholar Sina arrives with her three Templars and two assistants. She makes her way toward the podium at the front of the lecture hall, and awaits there for the arrival of the Child of the Emperor. She is wearing her formal aeterna robes, her long black hair woven into a thick braid down her back. Her silvery eyes scan the room as others arrive and find places. It's probably going to be standing-room-only, but there's nothing to be done about that. "Welcome everyone, to the Vellichorian Academy," she says clearly in her pleasant voice, after lifting her hand for quiet. "We have the honor and privilege of welcoming Zulana, Child of the Emperor, Emissary of the Undying Empire here tonight to answer your questions, of which there have been many. She has offered to answer as many as she can and speak on her homeland. Please, if you have a question," she says, with a nod to one of her assistance, "my assistant Jacinthe will be carrying this wooden baton." The tawny-haired Lycean scholar smiles shyly and holds up the baton, plain and unadorned. "If you have a question, please ask for the baton before asking, so as not to overwhelm our guest. Thank you." She then steps aside from the podium, moving some distance away and gazing toward the doors, to await the arrival of the Emissary.
Merek makes his way from the streets, his longcoat upon his black leathers, while he takes his time to look around a bit, arms crossed a bit. His alchemy belt is keeping his various vials as well as philters within them, while he takes a moment to look distantly to the front also. He looks defeated and broken, just moving through the motions while he does also.
5 Grimhall House Guards, Gustav, a gruff Islander advisor arrive, following Valdemar.
Cambria enters the hall alongside Baroness Lucita Saik. Considering that the place is already a hive of activity, the two women seek out an empty spot to occupy along the back wall. As Cambria walks beside Lucita, she speaks in private tones with the other woman.
Vega has joined the an Aion starlight table.
No sooner has Sina spoken than a woman strides into the room and up to the front. Zulana's movements are graceful, but it's the vaguely threatening grace of a large cat rather than that of a dancer. The Emissary is clad in what can only be clothing from her homeland; a tunic, the sides drawn down into points, and loose pants, good boots, and thicker material around the collar, the shoulders, the chest wich might serve as armor. Her long black hair is bound up in an elaborate bun and pinned with a comb, and her golden gaze sweeps over the crowd as she regards the assembled crowd. "People of the Compact. It gives me great pleasure to see so many here, eager to learn. You have forgotten so much beyond your own shores; perhaps this will be the first step in remembering what you have forgotten, and considering your future."
Valdemar enters the hall alone, and moves to take a seat on the benches along the right-hand side of the room.
Valdemar has joined the Right Side Benches.
There are a lot of people here and Dame Leona Thrax, Knight Emeritus of the Hundred, enters with the rest, quietly filing in. There are those who rush for the seats up front and those who rush for other chairs behind, but she seems content to take a spot in the back, leaning idly against the wall and murmuring a greeting to those who stand nearby.
Acantha gives a look to the Archlector when she arrives and listens to her as she speaks. She gives a nod of her head to something that is said at her sitting area, but doesn't interrupt the talking of Sina. Then her attention is on Zulana.
Lucita gives a nod to those she recognizes amid the crowd as she moves to stand beside Cambria and attentively listen to what is said.
Shard's eyes narrow only a little bit further as the actual presentation begins, and her expression is largely unreadable beyond that. She crosses her arms loosely over her chest.
Scythia's attention pulls immediately from those gathered near her in favor of turning toward those that speak. First Sina, of course, and when Zulana makes her entry she sits just a bit straighter and watches her in a careful, assessing manner.
Tescelina lifts her eyes at last and looks attentive to the Emissary Zulana. Very attentive.
When the emissary enters the room, Brianna rises respectfully for a moment, before taking her seat again.
Sorrel has been here long enough to get a seat up front, and she scans the crowd as it continues to filter in, seeing many familiar faces. Then, the presentation begins, and she turns her attention towards the speakers, scrutinizing Zulana curiously.
Peri's flipping her quill over and over. Her elbow is resting on the table and her notebook is held loosly in her lap. When the emmissary enters the room, Peri sits up straight and attempts to stop her fidgeting. She places her notebook on the table and is poised to takenotes. Eina stands very close to Peri, face very neutral.
Looking at the presenter, it occurs to Eilonwy that this might be a bit of a long thing so she drifts to one of the benches.
Sina has joined the Back wall standing room.
Eilonwy has joined the Left Side benches.
Merek might as well be staring right through Zulana, as though he is looking at something more, but there isn't any inherant meeting, it's just the gaze of someone that no longer seems attached completely. He listens, attentively, though.
Once seated, Valdemar's attention is fully upon the emissary, studying her and listening carefully.
Merek has joined the Right Side Benches.
"I will begin with a very brief summary of the culture of the Undying Empire," Zulana offers, arms folded in front of her. The Emissary's posture has an almost military edge to it; she is clearly as much soldier, warrior, as she is diplomat. "And then I imagine you all will have questions, which we will have asked and answered in turn." A glance to Sina, as if to check whether this is an appropriate procedure for Vellichorian gatherings within Arvum.
Merek has left the Right Side Benches.
Sina stands to the side, and folds her hands before her, inclining her head respectfully to Zulana. "Thank you for indulging us this evening, Emissary Zulana. We are all very curious to learn more. The floor is yours," she says with a soft smile. After that, she moves to the back of the room and merely observes for now, silvery eyes studying the visitor from far-off lands with a Scholar's curiosity. Occasionally she glances around, but for the most part, her attention is on Zulana.
Merek has joined the Right Side Benches.
It is perhaps curious that Emrys doesn't stare at Zulana so much as he observes the reactions the Emissary causes. It's not that the Eldest is ignoring their esteemed guest, but it seems he finds both of equal interest.
Silas glances briefly to Sina, then fixes his gaze on Zulana. He is curious, and letting his attention be fully engaged.
"The Empire consists of many different realms, unified beneath the rule of the Undying Emperor," Zulana begins. As she speaks, the fingers of one hand drum against the other arm, as she keeps them folded in front of her. "Jadairal, of course, is the heart of the Empire, and where it began. If you were to compare the Empire to what you know, consider Jadairal itself to be Arvum, and Daobujin Bo -- the seat of the empire -- akin to your Crownlands, the seat of the government. As seems to surprise many, we follow the Grace of the Thirteen, and recognize the same gods you do, though the Temples are each independent; the Archlectrixes answer to no higher spiritual authority than their gods." There is, perhaps, the faintest of emphasis on 'spiritual' in that statement; she pauses, as if to allow this part to sink in before she continues.
An uncommon (for her) quiet and somber mood has settled around Evonleigh, though she doesn't scowl or glare unhappily like some of the people in the room. Her expression is intrigued and curious; she too has a rapt, scholarly sort of focus on the emissary, though the Whitehawk diplomat and actress carries no quill nor notepaper as she listens. She'll just copy her sister's notes later, perhaps, if she needs them.
Leona is listening quietly, and murmuing to Shard and Aleksei who stand nearest her. Her voice does not carry, and she's being careful to be polite and not interrupt, is this hooded woman in a rather stylish version of the armor of the Hundred.
tt :shakes her head at Lucita's question. "She makes it sound as though it is the same Thirteen as we know."
"Like the Compact, all of our people are granted an education, and medical attention is provided for them by the Temple of Lagoma." Zulana shifts her stance very slightly, her posture relaxing and her feet shifting just that tiny bit further apart. "And like the Compact, we have trade routes running between the different regions and cities of the Empire -- though unlike the Compact, the Empire extends beyond the boundaries of merely Jadairal. Also unlike the Compact, those trade routes very rarely suffer from banditry; our land is a peaceful one, as all are safe beneath the Emperor's Radiant Light.
The High Inquisitor makes no face, seeming to have some tolerance for foreign propaganda. His badger companion chews on the leg of a desk.
Word of mouth of today's speech or demonstration or whathaveyou piqued Mihaly's curiosity. Enough for him to show up to see what's what. Entering quietly and moving alongside the wall, he stops next to Mia, a wordless and subtle nudge of the shoulder, signifying her Uncle is present.
Rinel mutters, "As safe as ... patient strapped ... a bed and unable ... ..."
Merek just stares at Rinel.
"The reason the Empire is peaceful within is that all walk the True Path, the Radiant Path," Zulana continues, as she glances out over those assembled. "Above all our other laws, all our other rules: none may use the Arts to harm another, and there will be no traffic with the abyss. These rules are born of love for his people..." She pauses, and now she begins to walk back and forth across the front of the room. "/This/ seems to be what Arvum cannot grasp. How it is, why it is, that we embrace these laws so fully. Which brings us to the topic that Arvum seemingly wrestles with: the Writs that hold the Empire's peace together."
Silas looks the slightest bit skeptical when Zulana's words reach him. Just the slightest. He inclines his head slightly towards the conversation happening at the couches, but doesn't seem to contribute any commentary of his own yet.
Sina continues to listen to what Zulana has to say, though her features are decidedly neutral. She's the embodiment of the Archscholar of Vellichor right now, allowing an opportunity for people to learn. She does glances toward Rinel as she hears the muttering, and she frowns darkly.
Though it would seem that Mirella has her attention entirely focused on Zulana to the exclusion of all others, the Lycene woman slides a sideways look towards Rinel. Her expression is like cold stone, but she doesn't look at all surprised. Her expression is quite bland indeed. The gaze lingers for a few long seconds before Mirella turns her attention back to the Emissary, but she's possibly still watching Rinel from the periphery of her vision.
Vincenzo grins towards Rinel.
After Rinel's words, Bedivere briefly grins, the tiniest bit, almost like his own thoughts were spake aloud, doing so much like Vincenzo do.
Eshken glances briefly to Silas as he listens to Zulana's words, choosing to follow his Lord's guidance and remain quiet for the time.
Thorn lifts her voice from the couches, "Princess Zulana, forgive me I am not sure your title, Your Emenance?" She shakes her red head. "We amongst the compact have agreements as well, perhaps not binding the same way but still vital to our peace. Could you explain EXACTLY what these writs bind people from and to doing? Are you yourself under the influence of a writ?"
One of Mia's black brows arches -- not at the Emissary's words, but at the way she moves. There's some not-yet-fully-formed thought behind her eyes there, but whatever it may be, it fades at the nudge from her uncle. A sharp nod of greeting for the man, but she stays quiet.
Brianna sits tall as she listens, one leg bouncing absently. She doesn't react overmuch to anything in particular yet. Rather, she's still just processing.
Sina glances toward Thorn as she speaks up, and clears her throat slightly. Jacinthe waves her baton in the air uselessly. But, Sina glances toward Zulana to see if the Emissary will answer, or if she should step in to keep questions at bay for now.
Eilonwy slumps low on the bench she sits at keeping her focus on Zulana-especially as members of the audience call out.
Zulana pauses in her explanation for a moment, glancing over at Thorn as if judging whether or not she should respond to the interruption. "'Emissary' is fine, if you must use a title," she replies, evidently deciding she'll respond. This time. "The Writs bind us to obey those laws I mentioned. None may use the Art for evil -- whether or not that Art is abyssal, for evil can come from magic that isn't of the abyss. We can use our art to defend our land, to better our people, but not for personal gain. We cannot traffic with the abyss." She meets Thorn's gaze directly, golden gaze meeting grey. "And yes, I am under such a Writ. I am one of the Emperor's Children, and I would never be sent into battle unarmed and unarmored." She pauses before continuing, as though to see whether anyone /else/ intends to speak up.
Merek checked dexterity + artwork at difficulty 9, rolling 20 higher.
As Zulana looks around, Brianna takes the opening. She rises. "Emissary, what exactly do these Writs consist of? Pardon my ignorance."
Merek has left the Right Side Benches.
Merek has joined the Right Side Benches.
Sparte is sitting with the others at his table, making quiet conversation as he watches and listens to Zulana, only occasional glances to others at the table. No interruptions from him.
Merek is drawing while he is at his seat, and he seems to be fervently looking to Zulana then to the scroll while he takes a few colored pieces and charcoal, refining it, while he listens, keeping mostly quiet at his seat.
Thorn looks over to the woman with the baton like she is considering it, and then she simply nods to Zulana's answer, smiling slightly as she meets the woman's gaze. "One last question Emissary? Who decides what is a good act and what is an evil act?"
Shard continues to listen from her position against the back wall, narrow eyed but otherwise unreadable. Occasionally, however, she murmurs to the others nearby.
Peri is seated next to Sir Bhandn Var, who is wearing a blindfold. Her golden hazel eyes are focused on Zulana, but occasionaly drift to see others talk and react. From time to time she speaks softly to Sir Bhandn relating the goings on.
Thorn's question draws a tilt of Mirella's head in the woman's direction. A couple of slow, relaxed blinks signify a moment of thoughtfulness, and then she turns her attention back to Zulana watchfully.
Vincenzo mutters, "... person at ... top ... on all those chains to the little people."
Sina straightens a bit from where she is leaning against the wall, and says, "After these last questions, let us allow the Emissary to finish what she has to say. The floor will be opened for questions a little later." She then settles back again, folding her arms before her.
Valor, a beautiful fan-tailed pigeon, Dulce, a snow white Artshall destrier, 1 Redwood Initiates arrive, following Nurie.
Dulce, a snow white Artshall destrier have been dismissed.
Valor, a beautiful fan-tailed pigeon have been dismissed.
1 Redwood Initiates have been dismissed.
Zulana's gaze slips to the ceiling, as though asking one of the gods for strength; it's unclear which one. "Writs," she says after a moment, "are bindings. Mystical contracts which cannot be broken. Contracts that specify behavior. If, as a merchant, you signed a normal contract which said you would not cheat your customers... you could still do so, until someone learned of it. If the contract were a Writ, it would be enforced; you would find yourself /unable/ to cheat your customers."
The Emissary's gaze sweeps the audience, and then she adds, "I recognize that Arvum has forgotten its own history, and that of the other nations of the world; I make allowances for this, and recognize that manners and etiquette may be different here. In Jadairal, when a presenter asks that questions be held until after they speak, it is customary to wait until they are done speaking." Zulana now falls silent for a moment, and this time the gaze she gives the audience is more in the vein of an adult considering how best to deal with unruly children.
Nurie slips into the back of the room, moving as quietly as possible so as to be unobtrusive.
Brianna nods gratefully and returns to her seat.
Tescelina dips her quill into the inkwell and leaves it resting, moving her hand to close the notation journal with smooth and quiet grace. She rests her hands in her lap afterward, apparently concluded with her writings for the time being. Observation becomes her means, head tilted a little to the right.
Once satisfied that questions will seemingly be held, Zulana nods once and resumes. "I hear those among the audience whispering of 'chains'. Tell me," she poses the question. "Is a sword evil? Is fire?" She pauses, letting that question sink in. "A sword can be used to kill, therefore it must be evil, yes? But it can also be used to defend those who cannot defend themselves, which is good. Fire can be used to burn, to destroy... and yet it also can keep one alive in the cold. They are /tools/, and whether they are good or evil depends on whose hands wield them."
"And the same is true of Writs. They may be used for evil -- to enslave, to restrain, to bind someone to the abyss. But they can be used for good, as well." Zulana's arms unfold, and she clasps her hands behind her back. That golden gaze has a bright edge to it as she regards the assembled Arvani. "Imagine that you are a parent. You live in a house between a cliff, and the woods; the cliff is sheer, and a fall means certain death. The wolves in the woods are hungry." One corner of her mouth tugs upwards into a hint of a smile. "Tell me, which is the better parent? The one who allows their young child all the choice they wish -- to run freely, even into the woods, or to fall off the cliff? Or the one who builds a fence around the yard, to keep their child safe?"
"My Writ is my shield, my armor. The Emperor knows he can send me -- or any of his Children -- against the darkest of foes, and we will not falter. Our hearts will never be swayed." Zulana considers the audience. "I have also been told that the Empire should not hold those who traffic with darkness responsible. We should not hold it against them, because the darkness is seductive. That people with good hearts may walk into shadow. And that is true." That smile returns, and this time there's pride in it. "But /I/ cannot be swayed. My Writ is no 'chain', it is my armor! It is my Emperors's hand -- my Father's hand -- helping to guide me along the path so that I don't stray into the darkness."
Sina maintains her serene demeanor in spite of the interruptions, and the talk of writs. Her expression turns back into that of neutrality, though she does seem interested in the subject matter. Her dour assistant Arindais has set up his lap desk, and is busily writing notes for her later review.
Nurie fidgets a little uncomfortbly as she listens, smoothing her gown and twisting the rings on her fingers just a little bit, but after a moment's soft breath she grows more still, once more listening quietly with wide eyes.
Rinel snorts derisively. "A child who has ridden up the mountain on her father's back and proclaims her ability to scale peaks with pride. I've heard enough. Gods alone know what perversions of Lord Skald's teachings you use to justify your evil." And so she stands from her table and limps out the door, her face scornful.
Rinel has left the an Aion starlight table.
Merek lifts up his gaze, and rubs his face a bit, while he sighs, then he looks to Zulana, "Forgive her please," he says, as if trying his best to keep from any reaction, then he's quiet again.
Bhandn mutters, "... she wonders why I yelled ... ..."
As if trying to prevent any reaction, even.
Bedivere lifts a hand, his only hand.
There's some kind of silent judgement on Mihaly's in response to the Emissary's second statement, and the old knight only partially conceals it. Instead, he speaks quietly with his niece.
Shard puts her hand over her face as Rinel storms out. Lightly, though her eyes close for a moment.
The high pitched squeak wheezing from Jeffeth escalates for a moment. WHEEE WHEEE. As his eyes blankly follow Rinel. WHEE WHEE. Then the large man looks back to Zulana, completely ignoring that horrible sounding his breathing is making.
The Eldest Whisper doesn't facepalm. It'd be undignified. He does, however, close his eyes for a moment after Rinel's stormy departure. And then he opens them again and returns to listening quietly.
Mailys nods to something said at the back wall, but emerald eyes are watching Rinel storm out.
Zulana watches Rinel leave, and shakes her head. "And there," she remarks, "is one who will cherish her ignorance, wear it as a badge of pride. She will stride through the world convinced of her righteousness. Convinced she sees the true path, and refusing anyone who would take her hand; no one else sees the truth as she does, yes? And so it will be easy for one who speaks the right words -- sympathetic words -- to slip shadows into her heart. To twist that righteousness to darker ends, and draw her into the embrace of the abyss before she knows she's even stepped astray. She will not /mean/ to fall... but if the darkness comes for her, she will."
The Emissary lets this sink in, and then adds, "In my home, there is peace within our boundaries, and prosperity to go around. Those who are orphaned are given homes, whether among the people or as one of my brothers and sisters. There is no poverty, no starvation. We have enough, and we share it all with each other." That half-smile returns, as her eyebrows raise. "Tell me, Compact, can you say the same? I see the struggles over this trade road you've built, as the peoples of Arvum end up at each other's throats. I see your 'Lower Boroughs', where those who you shun -- who aren't given enough to live -- gather, and turn to crime and darker things. I hear the rumors of how those with nowhere else to turn are experimenting with the black sands of the Prophet." Her expression is briefly twisted into disgust. "I hear the rumors of people in this very /city/ consorting with darkness, some of them in positions of power. I remember when your own Faith hired sellswords to slaughter Scholars who were planning treason."
"Tell me... is that truly the better path?" The question hangs in the air, and then Zulana nods. "Now, I am done." Evidently that means it's time for questions.
Merek has joined the line.
Sorrel shakes her head. "It's not what *she* thinks is evil," she says softly, keeping her voice low. "But what the Emperor does. He holds her writ. He holds her will. Thus she is free only to do his will. She treasures that the way we treasure our freedom. Those under writ of the Slaver, for example, can only do what their writ holder wants. Even if that is to sacrifice themselves and others to make his power greater. Thus do we think that writs are bad, for we encounter them largely as arrangements with the Abyss. But the Emissary loves her writ holder. She cannot do otherwise. So it is with those bound to Abyssal writ holders."
Vincenzo grins as he watches and listens to Rinel storm out, a polite clap of hands to the outburst and to the opening of questions of the Emissary.
Thorn has joined the line.
Bhandn has joined the line.
Tescelina has joined the line.
Monique has joined the line.
Aleksei has joined the line.
Thorn gets up as soon as the emissary says she is done, getting in line, a metal flash in her hand. She shrugs at someone at her couch, recaps the flask and drops it in her bag.
Peri has joined the line.
Sina glances after Rinel then as she makes yet another outburst and leaves, and just shakes her head with a long-suffering sigh. Others are quietly commenting around her, and her expression is one of thoughtfulness, and at one point she even nods at something Leona says. Otherwise, she's focused mostly on the Emissary and her words. Once Zulana has finished speaking, Sina steps forward again from the wall. She gives the woman a stare, for a moment, at the mention of sellswords slaughtering Scholars, but she doesn't speak to that. She does lift a dark eyebrow at mention of people experimenting with the 'black sands of the Prophet', but she doesn't speak to that either. "Thank you for telling us more about your homeland, Emissary." She takes the cue and glances around. "The floor is now open to questions. Please, use the baton. Let us not overwhelm our guest with questions all at once." Then she steps back once more.
Leona has joined the line.
Vincenzo has joined the line.
Turn in line: Merek
Leona pushes off from the wall and joins the line, and there's a look on her face as she does - half mischief, half seriousness.
Bhandn has joined the line.
Sina has joined the line.
Merek stands up, to make his way to the line forming, and when he has receives the baton, he looks at it a moment, then he nods a bit. He steps forward to ask his question, "Emissary, my question is a bit more on a thing that has me curious about the Abyss as well as medicine. We've had people that were poisoned by the Abyss, by illness, by all manner of diseases, some magical, some not, what does the Empire then provide in its medical offerings to the world, do Writs affect that, or keep away such things from affecting some people, I imagine it's a silly question also."
The male also takes a moment to look at a scroll he has, while he holds that towards the woman, "I made you this, while I was listening, just an example of Arxian works to take with you as a keepsake if you travel away." he adds also.
Mirella has joined the line.
Sparte has joined the line.
Valdemar has joined the line.
Tescelina has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Sparte gives a concerned look over in Jeffeth's direction.
"Illness and magical diseases can be treated by the Mercies, who are expert at channeling Lagoma's strength to heal and restore." Zulana pauses, frowning slightly. "I had thought you had Mercies here..." A shake of the head, and the thought is dismissed, as she steps forward to accept the scroll from Merek, and put it aside on one of the tables for later. "We also have many unique plants and herbs, which can be used to make salves and poultices to heal or purify; in the Empire, the Emperor's work to shift the world to be kinder has continued. As for a Writ protecting from Abyssal taint? A Writ can only compel /action/. It cannot compel something outside you; were I to, say, take a piece of a demon I have slain and attempt to lick or eat it for some godsforsaken reason, it is likely I would have an abyssal taint that would need to be purified." She pauses. "However, if someone were /aware/ that licking bits of a demon's corpse might cause such taint, the Writ would prevent them from doing so." She says this as though she assumes everyone should know 'licking the dead demon' is generally going to be a bad idea.
This done, the Emissary turns to the next in line.
Turn in line: Thorn
Merek nods a bit to Zulana, "We do, but we recently had an... Issue come to the city, and it's not always that we can protect all," he looks a bit sad about this, then he bows, which he assumes is a show of respect, while he shifts his longcoat as he takes a seat again, handing the baton to Thorn next.
1 Greenwood Tribe Blood Warriors have been dismissed.
3 House Riven Soldiers have been dismissed.
Lianna have been dismissed.
Feydin, a white-tailed eagle have been dismissed.
Vigilance, a juvenile female Oakhaven Bloodhound have been dismissed.
Berthold have been dismissed.
Merek says, "Thank you, Emissary."
Thornsteps up to the front and smiles to Zulana, "First of all, let me say that you are a beautiful creature and I would be pleased to invite you for dinner at the Fidante Estate to discuss anything but politics." Which is said with all the comfort and ease one would expect of a Lyceum. "Secondly let me thank you for coming, I understand you have a job to do, and you are her bound by your loyalties, compulsed or other wise, to do a job... to convince us that we would be better served by allying with our people. That's okay. Some people here may think that's a bad thing bu I get it.." Her smile remains charming and comfortable. "But I have only two related questions: if all of your people are writbound, do the reflections of the 13 still have a foothold in your lands? And if they do not or have lesser influence; are you willing, without binding us similiarly, to work with those of us who seek the parts of the past that have been devoured, to recover it?"
Shard stares openly at Merek, and then Thorn. She says...something, but it's not loud enough to carry to the room.
The large dog weasel thing that is far to big and far to angry maneuvers deftly through the crowd. At least one person gets hissed at. Someone tries to pet him - which he allows naturally - and then the creature returns to the High Inquisitor's side to make some report.
Merek lifts up his brow at Shard, watching her.
Thorn does not be aware that anything she's asked is inappropriate on any level.
Nurie leans forward just a little. Her desire to jump in the line and ask a question after the whole demon-licking thing is written plainly in her expressive features. But instead she bites her lower lip slightly and remains in her little corner in the back!
Sina continues to listen near the back of the room, watching Merek as he approaches to ask his question and offer his drawing, and then looking at Thorn. Merek's question only brings a thoughtful look to her features. Thorn's question does cause her to lift both of her dark eyebrows in surprise. She glances to Zulana, to see how she takes the question. For now, she lingers near the back, simply a facilitator hosting a guest lecturer. But, there is a slightly pained look as her brows knit together as she digests the rest of what Thorn said.
Peri walks close to Sina and asks a question.
The invitation to dinner does not seem to offend Zulana; she may be 'on duty' here, but it seems her Writ doesn't prevent whatever social activities she might prefer. Still, though she gives Thorn a vaguely thoughtful look, she does not actually accept the invitation at this particular point. "My loyalty is not compelled. And the reflections do not hold power within the boundaries of the Empire, save through foreigners who try to slip through the borders to cause trouble." A pause, and she adds with evident satisfaction, "Servants of the abyss within the Empire are found and dealt with accordingly." A pause, however, and the Emissary sounds somewhere between 'uncertain' and 'appalled' when she adds, "Did you say your past has been /devoured/?" Evidently, no one has yet filled her in on this little detail. But she doesn't actually wait for an answer; though she clearly makes a mental note of this particular comment, she waves Thorn onwards to keep the line flowing. Doubtless other Arvani have questions.
Turn in line: Tescelina
Sparte sighs a bit too loud, resting an elbow on the table and facepalming in response to something said at his table.
Thorn nods to the emissary's answer and offers a bow to the woman before she returns to the Ivory couches.
Bhandn's obscured attention is most certainly focused upon Thorn and the Emissary now, but his expression is notably darkening all the same, his mouth a thin line and both of his hand visibly tense on the bound scabbards in his possession.
The walking squeaking behemoth slowly pushes himself up to his feet. With a few more WHEE WHEE WHEE breaths, Jeffeth Bayweather makes himself to the door, his lungs announcing him every horrible high pitched step of the way.
Nevermore, the sulking raven arrives, following Narcissa.
Jeffeth has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Brother Chester leaves, following Jeffeth.
Narcissa has joined the an Aion starlight table.
Tescelina accepts the wooden baton in both of her hands and then lowers it, folding her hands in front of her as she steps up to the questioner's -- spot? Either way, facing Zulana now, she does something before anything else. Heel behind foot, hand moving to the half-skirt over trousers and dipping into a curtsy. "I am Lady Tescelina Wyrmguard. Voice and Knight of House Wyrmguard," she recites finely and eases right into her question, "It is most kind of you to speak with us. I am curious, while you are still present in Avrum in lieu of the Crown's refusal of the Emperor's offer, what advances the Undying Empire has made in the field of astronomy. Have you been able to chart a significant number of stars and differentiate them from the scope of larger celestial bodies? On your vessel, do you have star charts to help navigate the seas? Do you use some other form or methodology to cross great swathes of the ocean? Is it related then to the Arts?" She has asked more than a single question /sort of/ but the thoughtful, quiet patter of her speech is unspoken. Breathy. Clearly unfiltered Oathlands. She does stop for a moment. Before asking, "What sort of tea do you drink?" As though the thought struck her presently.
Narcissa slips in, the Lady in black and not much of an imposing figure. She makes for the quickest familiar face, pulling up a chair beside Emrys.
Mailys is just.. staring. Merek, Zulana. Thorn, Zulana. Her bright gaze turns to the next person, rapt. Then Tescelina.
Eshken has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
Erasyl, a sharp-eyed thick-billed raven leaves, following Eshken.
Merek looks a bit distinctly like the staring is bothering him, but simply manages his best to shift his longcoat about him, hood up while he takes a moment to listen.
Vitalis perks up at Tescelina's question, eyes moving sharply from the Wyrmguard Voice and Knight to the Emissary.
3 Thrax Guards arrives, following Jasher.
Delilah glances askance at Tescelina and then to the Emissary as well. No reason, not at all given the star at her throat or the observatory on the other side of the city.
Still listening, Eilonwy gets up to lean against a wall and absorb things from her feet. She crosses her arms and props her chin in her hands looking from presenter to question askers and back with open curiosity.
"What do you mean by 'the field of astronomy'?" Zulana considers Tescalina with a mildly bemused look. "If you mean using the stars for navigation across the sea, of course... though there are other ways, using the Art, for when the skies are cloudy and the stars are concealed. If you mean the study of how the stars /change/, even in the Empire no one has yet determined the pattern. If there is one at all. It is an exceptionally difficult field of study; the changes are infrequent, after all, as the Sky-Lords do not often pass from the world." A pause. "I am quite fond of Baihao Yinzhen, for a milder tea. When I do not wish to prevent myself from sleeping." Whatever that tea is, it's not one in Arvum. Zulana does not elaborate on the tea's flavor, instead turning to the next in the line.
Turn in line: Monique
Monique accepts the baton when her turns arises, smiling, dipping a curtsey of respect to the emissary. "My question is, maybe, is a simple one, Honored Emissary. Would the Emperor treat with a single person, or small group of people, wishing to join the Undying Empire?"
Jasher makes no pretense at being fashionable, or even remorseful, in his decidedly late arrival. He pauses at the doorway, seeing the crowded state of the chamber (and the back wall), and his blue gaze sweeps around for a moment before turning left to head for a better vantage point, weaving around the occasional person in his way. He stops by the benches there, but doesn't sit; instead opting to use his height to see what's going on at the fore.
Jasher has joined the Left Side benches.
Tescelina dips once more into that same curtsy, strangely satisfied with the answer given. She offers the baton on, before moving to stand to the side. Hands folded in front of her, listening thoughtfully. A small crease in her brow as though going over what was said before it faints to that radiant coolness.
Sparte rubs at his right forearm as he listens, as though reminded of something. He glances towards the exit for a few moments before looking to the next speaker.
Vitalis moves to stand with Tescelina.
"If they wished to remain in Arvum, some of that would be up to your leadership," Zulana points out to Monique. "As your Compact might not take kindly to foreign citizens remaining, unless they were a diplomatic mission. But we have no shortage of those who cross the borders into the Empire, seeking refuge from the darkness in other parts of the world, and if they are willing to obey our laws, to be bound against falling, they are welcomed. The light of the Radiant Path -- a life free of want, of hardship, of strife, a life where you know the Emperor, and his Children, will protect you from the abyss -- is a beacon of hope to many." A soft 'tchk' noise. "Eurus, in particular." This done, she nods to the next person in line.
Turn in line: Aleksei
There's a moment when Aleksei receives the baton that he has to simply -- look at it. He lifts his gaze back to Zulana, and there's a sense, not of forcing words, but restraining them. "My name is Aleksei Morgan. I was the first Archlector of Skald in the Faith of the Pantheon. I was asked to serve by his Seraph. She gave me care of his shrine. I wrote his doctrine. I--" He tries to find the right words, struggling with a clear impulse to break the stupid baton in his hands and just /tantrum/ about all of this. "I asked Skald once, a long time ago, about thralldom. He didn't know what I really meant, the practice in the Mourning Isles. He thought I was asking about enthralling people. Binding them. Putting them under Writ. And he looked at me and he said that, if you live your life on this side of the mirror, you know it's wrong. You can feel it, deep down. We can all feel it. It's just that some of us pretend not to. Or fool ourselves into thinking they don't." His fingers tighten and loosen on the baton. "We're Children of Skald. He /made us/ to be /free/. He came down and /broke the writs/ of the Rex'alfar's slaves, human and elf alike. So I guess my question is: I know that Platinum isn't, but are the people of Jadairal human? Are /you/?" And then, finally, his temper seems to snap through his restraint before he can bite it back, a surge of righteous fury: "And what is your Archlectrix of Skald even /doing/?!"
"Why is it that all good answers lead to even more questions?" Monique grins, dipping another curtsey. "Thank you, Emissary." And she reclaims her seat, leaning over to murmur something quiet to Vega.
Brianna is overheard praising Aleksei.
Without dragging her gaze away from Zulana and Aleksei, Mirella murmurs something to those nearby. Her eyes sharpen with an even greater focus.
Shard stops leaning on the wall. She stands up straight, and lets her arms drop to her sides, and watches very, very intently. If she's tense...well, no. She's definitely tense. It's been building up.
Leona tenses at Aleksei's question, and though she's waiting patiently for her turn, there is a moment where she moves - she steps directly to Aleksei's side now and lays her right hand on his arm. Just one hand, not meant to restrain. More a reminder that she is standing there with him, though she says nothing and watches for the Emissary's reaction.
Jasher remains silent. By all appearances, he may as well be a statue, motionless impassive, blue eyes less a window than a wall. But all along his posture, he reeks of...anticipation. Waiting.
"Aleksei Morgan." Zulana considers the former Archlector, her gaze unwavering. But instead of answering as she has thus far, she first poses him a question. "Do you have children?"
Vitalis whistles low at Aleksei's question, brows lifting, even as he watches Monique settle back after asking her own question. He nods, though, looking back to Aleksei and then, sharply, to Zulana.
Evonleigh's eyes study Aleksei as he speaks, her lips curving up into a smile for his thoughtful words and the recounting of Skald's, though it slips away at the sudden flare of anger. She glances at Leona when she steps up next to him, then looks to Zulana, breath held as she waits for the reaction. The question makes her tip her head, and she glances back to Aleksei, before exhaling, perhaps a sigh of relief.
Bedivere looks like he almost tries to clap after what Aleksei says there, but then he only has one hand, so that does not really work out all that well.
Eilonwy looks curious to hear the answer on this one, but not so curious as to stick around. Abandoning her space, she slips out with a small nod to Jasher in passing.
Eilonwy has left the Left Side benches.
1 Crimson Blades Lieutenant leaves, following Eilonwy.
Monique slips out with Vega, moments later, after dipping her bright head respectfully to those at the table she departs.
Monique has left the an Aion starlight table.
Vega has left the an Aion starlight table.
3 Thrax Guards leaves, following Vega.
Kit, the grey fox, Primus, First of Monique's Assistants, 1 Greenmarch Guard, Tertius, Third of Monique's Assistants, Quartus, Fourth of Monique's Assistants, Vega leave, following Monique.
There is a flare of protectiveness reflected in Nurie's expression as Aleksei's anger breaks through, her hands clenching into fists for a moment before they lace together, as if in echo. She almost steps forward, but as Leona goes to stand beside him she relaxes, and maintains her spot in the periphery.
"With all due respect, Emissary, I already heard the speech about fences and cliffs," Aleksei says, tension rippling over his words. "About protecting children. I don't need you to repeat it. Yes, I have a son, and I'd die before I saw Platinum bind him."
Bedivere stands up after Aleksei's words about dying before letting Platinum bind his son. Bedi bangs on his own chest armor with his left/only hand, the best he can do. He does not keep it up for too long, only long enough to show solidarity there for another of the Faith.
Vitalis has joined the an Aion starlight table.
Sparte glances between Aleksei and Zulana nervously. When Bedivere bangs on his chest Sparte stiffens like he were expecting a fight to have started. No, no, just chest thumping. Which prompts him putting a hand on his own chest and trying to relax.
Quintin leans back a bit in his seat, like something might explode up front and he'd rather be just that little bit further back.
Merek looks like a picture of calm, still distant while he looks to the front, through folk, as he shifts his longcoat about him a bit.
Nurie's eyes are narrowed, especially at the mention of the little boy. Her slippers are still on her feet, instead of one in her hand already, but her body is tensed enough with protectiveness now doubled that you never know. One might just come off.
As Aleksei asks his question and Zulana replies with a question of her own, Sina glances down, her arms folded before her. She pushes her toe idly at the floor as she listens for Zulana's reply to Aleksei's last. Otherwise, she remains silent, offering no opinions or questions of her own for the moment. After a moment, she glances back up again, her expression carefully veiled behind that neutral Archscholar's mask.
Valdemar watches the proceedings intently, listening to what Zulana has to say. As things grow tense between the latest questioner and the guest of honor, his gaze shifts between the two of them, but he remains seated, observing quietly.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Emrys before departing.
Silas doesn't seem worried at this exchange. He seems far more curious than he was before, in fact.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Sina before departing.
Amari rises during the back and forth between Zulana and Aleksei, stifling a yawn behind her hand. She respectfully offers the Emissary a precise curtsey, even if it's quick and lacking any obvious enthusiasm and probably mostly unseen anyway. Her expression is pointedly neutral, and tired. She's yawning again as she turns for the door.
Amari has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
2 Novice Keaton Huntsmen, River, a juvenile Oakhaven bloodhound, Barf, the Bog Dog leave, following Amari.
It is at that point that a messenger arrives for Emrys, and after a few whispered words, departs again. The man makes his quiet farewells at the table before rising, and taking his leave.
Zulana's eyes narrow, her eyebrows drawing downwards. "So, then, your child is allowed every freedom? No restrictions, no bindings on his choices? He is allowed to go to bed whenever he wishes -- presuming he does wishes to do so at all, yes? He is allowed to eat whatever he wishes; dessert before dinner, or without dinner. When you walk through a crowd with him, you do not take his hand and guide him, but allow him to run freely among the people whichever way he might go? If you do not, you are taking his choices away."
"Oh, wait," Zulana adds, raising a finger. "'He's only a child,' yes? 'That's my responsibility.' 'He's too young to know better.' I've heard those before. And compared to my Father, we are /all/ children. The safety of his people /is/ his responsibility. And demonstrably, some of the souls in the Dream /do/ appear to be too young to know better, or else they would not stray into the abyss. Would not turn to sacrificing the lives of others, taking their blood for personal power. Making pacts with demons. That sort of thing."
"So do all your bridges in Arvum lack railings, Aleksei Morgan? When someone walks over a chasm, do you just trust they'll stick to the path? Or is something there on the sides to prevent their fall?" Zulana's tone turns slightly challenging, as she folds her arms in front of her once again. "We walk a path through this Dream, just as your child might walk through a crowd. And my Writ? It is my Father taking my hand to walk with me, as you would with your son. When he cannot be beside me, his Writ will still guide me. Still keep me in his light."
"As for our Archlectrix of Skald?" Zulana raises an eyebrow. "When I left Jadairal, the current Archlectrix was, I believe, about to leave the capital in order to oversee to the rehabilitation of the slaves who had been freed from a territory we recently brought to the light. To help them find new homes, new lives, where they no longer needed fear a lash. No longer needed fear their blood -- or their lives -- being taken just because it was a convenient source of power for those who considered themselves their betters. They reach out and take the hand offered, and allow my Father to walk alongside them."
"Here in Arvum, I have seen people suffering. I hear word that the Herald of Chains -- the Traitor," and Zulana all but spits the word. "Walks free in your lands. That he gathers people to him, stealing their names and binding them in chains, whether they would accept those chains or not." The Emissary's eyebrow raises. "So, Aleksei Morgan, I ask you: what has /your/ Archlector of Skald been up to?"
She doesn't really seem to expect an answer.
Shard checked composure at difficulty 25, rolling 6 higher.
Turn in line: Peri
Bhandn mutters, "... certainly ... ... ... back ... ... doesn't she?"
Zulana turns from Aleksei, glancing at the next in line. No doubt the former Archlector will pass the baton off without protest, right?
Peri bows her head deeply to Aleksei and thanks him before taking the baton. She takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. She meets Zulana's golden gaze with her own golden hazel eyes. "Greetings, Emmisary, I am Lady Peri Seliki. I have so many questions," She fidgets with the baton as she talks, "but I will stay focused." She reassures everyone. Her curiosity is tightly coiled, ready to spring, but she manages to ask only one question, "How may a writ be detected?" She almosts drops the baton but recovers quickly before passing it to Leona. She returns to Sir Bhandn's side, to guide him.
Emrys pauses on his way out, in time to hear Zulana's response. One of the Eldest' brow is arched, though whatever he might think, he resumes his walk out.
Emrys has left the an Aion starlight table.
Alistair has joined the line.
Shard is not a particularly tall person, and when her shoulders roll forward, it certainly doesn't add any height. But it's a slow thing, as the tension spills from them into her arms and her back and the set of her jaw, and as her weight shifts more to her toes, and as she takes one, no, two steps away from the wall. Toward Aleksei? Toward Zulana? It's not enough movement to tell. And there's not enough to read on her face. And she does, after a moment or two when the Emissary has finished, seem to remember to breathe again. It's a long, slow intake of air. Very careful. Very deliberate. It comes out harsher, through clenched teeth.
Vincenzo gives a polite clap for Zulana's response.
Jasher has joined the line.
Tescelina releases a breath, more of a sigh really. It sounds almost disappointed, though the expression is not directed toward either Aleksei nor Zulana.
When Zulana begins to speak, Bedivere ceases the pounding on his chest armor, and he hears out her words, still standing. He quietly utters a few words.
"We free them from the Traitor, when we find them, as many as we can," Sorrel interjects, sounding like she is personally affronted. She crosses her arms and sits back in her chair, pressing her lips together.
Delilah returns to writing upon that folio, the neat strands of black ink spreading like spiderwebs in controlled filaments that plunder the page of its neutral smoothness. Cream fades to a grey by compare. A flick, another page, and so it begins again.
"We've been fighting," Aleksei spits back at Zulana. "To break chains. Even without the Art. It's something your /Father/ used to know something about." And he does finally hand off the baton to Peri before stalking back to the back of the room.
Peri is overheard praising Aleksei.
Peri is overheard praising Sorrel.
Acantha has been sitting and paying attention while Benny is sitting in her lap. She gives a look to everyone that goes up to ask questions and goes to speak. Giving a nod here and there.
Sina squints toward Zulana as she gives a sermon in response to Aleksei's question. But she does nothing to interfere or interrupt. After all, she agreed to this little shindig, so she's going to let it go apace. She does gaze up at Zulana though as she moves onto the next question, a determined expression on her own features as she finds a place in line.
"To detect Writs? Ah, to find those bound to the abyss?" Zulana considers Peri's question. "The simplest way is to find those struggling against their Writ. A Writ does nothing -- there is nothing to detect -- until the one bound tries to act contrary to the Writ. If one never struggles against their Writ, if they'd never disobey, it's almost impossible for even a skilled practitioner to tell. Someone who willingly steps into the Abyss and accepts a Writ... unless they suddenly changed their mind, if they tried to get free, even the most powerful mages would ever know the Writ was there. Though I have faith the Emperor still could; he can see most shackles, and break them."
Leona murmurs from where she stands, "The Seraph of Skald can as well."
"By all the gods and the Radiant Path, /why/? Use the Art," Zulana notes towards Aleksei as he retreats. "Or do you object to that as well? Another tool you'd leave behind, untouched, like Writs?" She shakes her head, looking vaguely exasperated. Arvum! Go figure. And then she turns to the next in line.
Dame Marra, a limping fennec fox, Disciple Ismay, Disciple Fulgence, 2 Templar Knight guards arrive, following Ailith.
"By all the gods and the Radiant Path, /why/? Use the Art," Zulana notes towards Aleksei as he retreats. "Or do you object to that as well? Another tool you'd leave behind, untouched, like Writs?" She shakes her head, looking vaguely exasperated. Arvum! Go figure. And then she turns to the next in line.
Turn in line: Leona
Shard checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 6 higher.
Acantha has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
Benny The Beaver leaves, following Acantha.
Quintin has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
Ailith has joined the line.
"I have not had the pleasure of meeting the Seraph," Zulana notes, inclining her head in acknowledgment as Leona steps forward. "But it does not surprise me to know that they can."
Pete, a Grayhope account manager arrives, delivering a message to Nurie before departing.
With potential disaster averted Leona has returned to her place in line. And now she takes the baton and she speaks, regarding Zulana thoughtfully. Her hood is pulled forward, partially obscuring her face - yet most of the city knows the Knight Emeritus. "I will leave theological debate to others. I am simply a Knight of the Hundred, established to guard the Monarchs of the Compact and following the traditions and oaths of those who once were part of the Silver Guard." she introduces herself quietly, and yet her voice carries through the room. "We know from our history that Platinum and Silver worked together to free humanity from writs and that this process eventually resulted in the Metallic Order, a group who spent their lives dedicated to protecting and defending the Light. Heroes that we still celebrate today, in statues in our Hall of Heroes, in songs like those created most recently by Princess Sorrel, in traditions great and small." She nods at that woman. "That freedom gave us Copper, arguably the greatest human mage of all time. The Grieving Mage yes, but also the Mage of Hope. And her work would not have been possible, by her own words, without freedom from the writs that once bound her to the Alfar. With all magic users under writ there would be no Copper. Copper, who saved the world more than once. Copper, who fought for love and hope and freedom and -Choice-. Copper, mourned by the Dream itself - and the Emperor - and indeed all of us who loved her - at her passing." She pauses. "The grief is hard to bear. An impossible sorrow. But would the world truly be better had she not lived? I think not, and so my question is this - how could we possibly accept writs that bind mages and would prevent another force of such breathtaking Light, and still properly give honor to our beloved Copper, Mage of Hope, who stood so staunchly for the freedom of all humanity? After all, as Arx endures, we remember."
Zulana checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 9 lower.
"Copper, the anniversary of whose death flew past a week hence," Delilah murmurs in the softest of echoes that may still prove detected in the vast wake left by Leona's words.
Tescelina says softly, "We remember." And bobs her head in agreement. Speaking out of turn, she must be moved.
Peri takes We Remember, a twist of copper regal brooch from her hair.
Bhandn mutters, "The girl with ... hair."
Vitalis nods, "We remember."
"We remember," Mirk echoes.
Shard remains standing where she is, tensed like a spring. She slants her gaze toward Leona, and then, more sharply, back toward Zulana. The fingers of both hands curl up against her palm; they only squeeze for a moment before loosening.
Thorn looks around curiously, clearly she does not remember and feels a bit left out.
After Leona's words, Bedivere again does another clapping of his fisted hand against his Knights of Solace tabard. "We remember!"
Mirella's response to Leona's impassioned speech is to study the nails of one hand, idly and without even a single wrinkle of her expression. She does, however, peek up with a great deal of interest in her dark eyes, apparent only to those close to her. The interest of someone who is probably hiding behind a mask of indifference. At least somehow. She does not, however, join the chorus of reverence that ripples around the room. She remains silent, like marble.
Sparte is stunned by Leona's words. It takes a little while for him to digest, before a small smile creeps onto his face and he murmurs with others in the crowd. "We remember."
Peri is overheard praising Leona.
Evonleigh touches her braided copper ring, twisting it once around her finger, and lifts her chin to add her own voice to the refrain and chorus. "We remember."
Sorrel stands up when Leona says her name, a tear rolling down her cheek, and she nods once. "We remember," she states firmly. She is a tall woman and she stands proudly, focused on Zulana.
Peri untangles a copper twist out of her hair and repins it. She touches it a moment before saying, "We remember."
Brianna rises silently to stand with Sorrel, her hands clasped behind her back.
Delilah flexes her fingertips, twisting the pen shut and sliding it back into the vicious halo of steel and rubicund buried through the stem of her thick plait. "We remember," she says tightly.
"We do NOT speak of Silver!" Zulana's eyes have narrowed, and there's just a slight crouch -- almost the beginning of a defensive combat stance. "His grief is finally stilled, a placid pond reflecting her perfect memory; we will not throw stones in it, or cause ripples to ruin that image! His Children will not wound him in that way! We remember her, yes. Always! But we honor her memory in /silent/ reflection on her /sacrifice/! The same sacrifice the Children would make for the people we protect!" The tension is /visible/ in her shoulders now. "Who are you to try to turn her name against the one who most loved her?"
Zulana needs a moment before she can bring herself to answer the rest of the woman;s question. The chorus of 'We remember' seem to give her that time, as she settles herself back in place.
"It is good," the Emissary says finally, with only just a /hint/ of that previous loss of composure to her eyes and tone, "to remember them. To remember Silver's sacrifice. To remember Copper's protection. You have forgotten enough of your history; it's time to remember."
She does not appear to be done, merely gathering her thoughts.
Shard's lips part, as if she's going to say something. She doesn't. The moment passes. But she's watching Zulana very, very carefully.
Bhandn's eyebrows can be seen from behind that blindfold now, elevated particularly high at the outburst over Silver.
Jasher closes his eyes briefly, as if he was basking in the murmurs of remembrance throughout the room, and his lips move as if he was giving similar supplication, but if it was voiced, it was too quiet to be heard over the ripple of "we remember"s. When his eyes do open, he turns them upon Zulana. He listens to her words. He watches the tension. And he waits.
When tension starts to fill the air with the reaction of the Emissary, Alistair rises up from his seat. The High Inquisitor leans hard into the desk that he has been comfortably enjoying. His bestial companion gives a shudder as his hackles rise slightly. But then the woman calms herself... the man briefly turning to regard Leona.
Thorn's brow furrows, as she's been watching Zulana closely. The woman starts to rise, not to join the chorus she doesn't understand but for some other reason. She hovers, tense, half out of her seat and then drops back down onto the couch, releasing a held breath.
That reaction from Zulana has Scythia's eyes narrowing slightly, leaning forward in her chair as she regards the emissary as though attempting to piece together something or other.
Delilah's eyes narrow fractionally, the thinning catching the summer-sky brilliance in the ferocious intensity. Whatever she murmurs in a soft tone to Alistair has an edge to it, a keen one for all the hardness, and her fingers come to lie flat against the tabletop.
When Zulana speaks of turning the thought of Copper versus the Emperor, then Bedivere opens his mouth to about say something, much like Shard seems to. Then, he also closes his own mouth, staying silent and hearing out any more.
Into the pause, while Zulana gathers her thoughts, Leona responds firmly. "I am a Silver Sword. I am but one of the Hundred. I am the Silver Sword of Thrax. I am a Knight of the Compact, and I keep to my oaths before Limerance and before the Queen of Endings. Not even for the grief of a thousand years would I concede to silence and betray my oaths. As Arx endures, we remember. And in memory there is the ease of grief," Leona adds gently, her voice soft and kind. "And not even the grief of a thousand years will last forever." She waits then, for Zulana to continue her answer.
Sina merely continues to watch, and listen. Her features remain placid, even in the face of Zulana's wrath. There's a slight smile that briefly twitches her lips, however, at the chanting of 'We Remember'. She does give Leona a look of respect for a moment, before turning her attention back to Zulana, to see what else she has to say.
"My daughter's name is Lilah, to remember Silver," Sorrel volunteers and then, she starts to hum a tune that some here might recognize as Copper's Song, the song that she wrote for Copper and that she sang, a year ago, in memory of Copper. She lifts her hands as if she is including the room in her song, and then she sings, unprompted and softly, the melody familiar in Arx. "Yet even in this there is Hope and Light \\ For these are your friends who try to make Right \\ To rebuild the world for the greater good. \\ Whatever you need, we'd do if we could."
"A Writ only binds when one acts against it," Zulana adds, rather more levelly. (Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean.) "Are you telling me that you truly believe that Copper -- my Father's beloved student and friend, your protector for centuries, the one who held the darkness at bay from your shores -- would have tried to stray from the Path? Would have sacrificed human lives for power, or made bargains with the creatures of the abyss? If she did not, the Writ would have no effect. It would not matter."
"And if my Father /had/ taken the hands of his Order, held them to the Path, what would be different?" Zulana shakes her head. "So many would have lived. Palladium. Tungsten. Cobalt. Brimstone. Iridium. Beryllium. Mercury. All of the others who fell at Drasorus." She sounds, for a moment, spent; considering the devastation seems to have drained her. "The Sylv'alfar would not have been corrupted. The Fractals would not be free from the Bijoux. Your Archive would not have burned. Uanna would not have burned. The Lord of Chains would not have begun to slip his bonds, to act through his new Herald."
"If Father had only taken his hand and held him to the path -- just that one person -- it would all be different. The Order would still live, and the sacrifices of those who had fallen before would never have been forgotten. /Silver/ would never have been forgotten." Zulana closes her eyes. "That is why we must not falter. We are all flawed, and if we stumble, if we stray from the path -- even those close to him might step into the shadows and destroy it all. Even his own kin might cause another Reckoning, another Dance of Skulls. The world cannot survive another."
Zulana falls silent. She does not, yet, call on the next in line.
"It /matters/," Shard says, sudden and sharp, "Because all of that is /meaningless/ if /you/ are not making the decision to do what is right."
Sparte looks thoughtful as he listens to Zulana. When she finishes he furrows his brow in thought. A small nod is given to Shard's comment, distracted as he continues to go through his own thoughts.
Sina tilts her head slightly, studying Zulana as if with new eyes. She seems to be taking mental notes of some of those names mentioned. Otherwise, she remains silent, watchful, listening patiently.
Thorn exhales, a bit heavily, it's a sort of put off sound, like 'why do I have to do this?!'. She closes her eyes and pushes herself back up to her feet. "Alright. I know, I poked and asked questions that were hard too but it is not fair to ask someone to act against their nature... freely wraught to not. So shall we learn instead of trying to destroy knowlege? That /is/ after all what our enemies are doing." Grey eyes turn hard upon the people gathered. "The golden eyed princess here is at very least, if in an effort of propaganda, trying to share knowledge. No one is binding any of you." She levels her gaze on Shard. "Compassion is understanding another's experience and this woman, differant as we are has had an experience she is trying to share."
When Thorn begins to speak again, Mirella arches an eyebrow. Her gaze falls dark and stony upon the woman, and she sucks in a breath through teeth hidden behind her pale lips.
"The world can survive another, and another, and another, as long as there are true hearts to fight and to stand in the Light against the Darkness," Leona counters. "But your history is incomplete," she adds in that gentle tone of hers. Perhaps there are those in the King's Own present who know that tone, and are wincing because it usually prefaces a rather painful lesson indeed. "Perhaps you should speak with your Father about Skald's first knowledge of writs and what happened thereafter, or the eventualities of a spell to hide the life of a repentant man. And then when your history is a little more complete, we could speak more about it." She smiles, bowing her head in acknowledgement of the other woman, and then handing the baton on to the next in line.
"So, you willingly accept the Traitor as a necessary cost of walking through the world without taking the hand of another?" Zulana looks over at Shard. "You consider it a price you're willing to pay, then? You'd rather have him, than have had him bound? Perhaps Arvum truly has forgotten its history." The Emissary sounds genuinely regretful now. "You may be willing to accept a second Reckoning, another Betrayal, another Dance of Skulls. To see men and women throw themselves into the abyss, and by their blood and souls let death wash over the world." And then the determination returns to those eyes. "But my Father no longer is, nor is our Empire. There will never be another Reckoning; no matter the cost."
A deep breath, and the Emissary nods to the next in line. She can still finish this, she's certain of it.
"History gives us the vantage point of perfection. We can say what must be done from the distance of years and clarity that brings. What might have happened at Drasorus or in Caer'alfar can be debated endlessly." Delilah flexes her fingertips together as though to wrench herself into the present. "How often we are told we have forgotten, we have not learned. That we fail and stumble blindly in the dark. What enlightenment can you offer that isn't contingent upon binding ourselves to Platinum's path?"
Turn in line: Vincenzo
Zulana glances at Leona, but says nothing more. She was baited by this woman once; she's clearly determined not to let her get beneath her armor again. Even if some Arvani woman tries to wield her Emperor's greatest loss as though it were a weapon to make a point.
Vincenzo makes his way from his couch where he was lazily laying and gives a very courtly bow in a show of politeness to the Emissary with a charming smile. But Delilah pipes up a question and he bows his head to the duchess, deferring a moment to a noble as the polite thing to do.
Thornsits down again listening once more, reaching for her flask from her satchel.
Bhandn mutters, "About fucking time someone asked that."
"No," Shard says, and while she doesn't raise her voice in the slightest, there's something barbed in her words, there's a glint of teeth when she speaks. "I will fight him. I will kill him. I will see him dead. My," there's the faintest pause, as if she's changing a word, "family, /my/ family, knew the cost. The others that have fought him /knew the cost/. They made that decision. They made that choice. /They/ made it. And /I/ make it. And every other person in this fight /has made it/. No child can stay a child forever. No child learns if they never have to make their own choices, where it matters. Where they're responsible. Where they might get hurt."
Brianna is overheard praising Shard.
Leona smiles at Zulana's glance, even as she leans back against the wall where she was before; she's clearly playing some kind of cat and mouse game with Zulana, but to what end? And at Shard's comment her head turns and she nods once, that amusement turning to approbation as she regards the plain-spoken woman.
Thorn checked composure + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 1 lower.
Tescelina says only this, to Bhandn, quietly enough, "Language, Sir Bhandn. Do not be rude, please."
Thorn's gaze narrows a bit and her shoulders tighten. "Not /all/ of us got a choice." She growls towards Shard before she pushes her flask to her lips, pacifying herself with a drink to cut off any further words.
Keski, a nervous disciple of Petrichor, Aletta, an even more nervous disciple of Petrichor, 1 Templar Knight guards, Oswald, the war pig, a lively Ostrian gelding arrive, following Brigida.
Cadern slinks in with what some (might) consider fashionable tardiness. He looks intrigued at the tension in the room and skulks over to find a seat and probably asking someone what he's missed.
When Vincenzo steps back, Zulana glances over to Delilah. "I do not know /how/ you managed to misplace so much of the history of the world, much less of your own lands," she admits. "What would you have us do to bring enlightenment? Answer questions one at a time, and hope that in so doing we chase back the literal ignorance that has seemingly dug itself deeply into Arvum?" The Emissary spreads her arms for a moment, as if gesturing to the room around them. "I am no instructor of history, but I am trying. It's up to Arvum now to decide how many of you want to listen." She lets her arms drop back to her sides for a moment, before clasping her hands behind her once more. "If you believe that Arvum already knows better -- that these lessons are not /needed/ -- then I can hardly /force/ enlightenment on you."
She turns to Vincenzo now, to check whether he still had something to ask, or if he yielded his spot entirely to yet another interruption.
Sparte reaches up to rub at one temple for a moment. A shift in his seat to straighten as the session goes on, a glance towards the exit with a small frown before he looks back to Zulana to listen further. Someone is getting impatient.
Nurie continues to watch and listen to the proceedings, her expressive eyes saddened, before she exchanges some quiet words with Aleksei, and squares her shoulders.
There's a bit of a kerfuffle at the door as the Archlector of Petrichor enters with her Disciples, guard and Oswald the pig. "I -told- you to let me know if anything interesting happened with those Emissaries and you -forgot- to mention it? Hmmph!!" Brigida's ire is levelled at Keski before she clomps her way towards the front of the room, staff clacking on the floor as she hurries with purpose to get a good spot to listen, giving the speaking Emissary a squint on her way there.
The master looks over to the duchess, and once a nod is received, he speaks to Zulana. "Vincenzo Villente of nothing and nowhere." he introduces himself as if the talk of Metallics and things long since done and forgotten weren't so tragic. "Welcome to Arx and speaking for no one, we're all very pleased and happy to have this moment you and the Empire are sharing which disperses ignorance. A true gift, knowledge being shared, and it helps build friendship and trust." says Vincenzo with once more a courtly bow to the Emissary and that charming smile. "Happy First Bloom, and may this new year offer you, your family, friends and Emperor an opportunity to grow with new life from the gods like the first blossoms of spring popping out of that blank canvas of winter and inspiration fill your hearts with dreams to stretch beyond what you know you can do. Should you have time, I highly recommend having one of your colleagues attend Farmer's Rest being held over the weekend where you can see the common Compact citizen taking a moment's break from the harsh toils of life to honor Petrichor and the vast difference between the normal citizen versus this room of esteemed persons of privilege. You'll have to forgive us, most forget that the majority have no idea the lofty and eclectic things being spoken about here. They're concerned with how they're going to feed themselves, have shelter and live out their little lives to find whatever happiness they can scrounge. Not things about the Abyss, demons, magical bonds and names thought of as children's stories."
With the introduction out of the way, he asks her, "My very boring question is this: What is the Empire's approach to people with...let's call it innate talents that pertains to the Art. Must they be writ-bound on general principle or law? What is done in such situations? And are they aware or taught that bindings can be broken?"
"Blessed, over here." Josephine calls out to the other cane bearing woman.
Zulana turns back to Shard, forgetting the line for a moment. Shard, it seems, merits her attention, no doubt due to her rank. "I'm sorry for your loss, your majesty." she says quietly. "But one hand held out to guide the Traitor. That's all it would have taken. One Writ, and your family would have lived. Your people would have lived. You say those who fight him choose to pay the cost? Had he not strayed from the Path -- had he been /unable/ to stray from the Path -- then your people would have never had to. If you had that choice to make right now, Prima Shard, what would you do? If you had to pick between one man's freedom to choose the abyss... or the lives of all your people? Given your beliefs, it's not a choice I would envy you. But I know that my Father would now choose his people's lives, every time."
NOW the Emissary turns back to Vincenzo.
Leona has left the Back wall standing room.
Rohm the Blackguard, Avalanche, a Snow Shepherd arrive, following Caelis.
Caelis has joined the Back wall standing room.
Brigida hears Josephine's voice and after a moment to orientate herself, changes direction to head towards her friend's table, keeping a beady eye on Zulana all the time.
Brigida has joined the an Aion starlight table.
Slipping in, Caelis looks about the crowd curiously. Spotting some Lycene folks she slips in near Lucita and lifts her dark brows before offering a flask. "Reinforcements?"
When Shard replies, it's quieter too. "I would not trade his freedom away. I'd like to think my family wouldn't have either; they knew chains once. He made his choice. He chained himself. He brought this on the rest of us. He dies for /that/. For his decisions. For what he's done."
Thorn has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
Lucita nods to Caelis and reaches for the flask, taking a sip and handing it back to her. "Thank you." is spoken very softly so not to interrupt the quesitions going on.
"We'll help you punch him in his stupid face someday, Shard," Sorrel murmurs from where she's sitting. "We'll help you kill him."
Zulana considers Vincenzo's words. (There were a lot of them. Many of them flowery greetings or what she thinks might have been a pitch from the local tourism board.) "Within the Empire," she says simply, "/All/ citizens accept the Writ binding them to the laws. Anyone /can/ learn the Art, after all, even if some have a natural talent for it without such schooling. And of course anyone can choose to pledge themselves to the abyss, and work for dark ends. It is out of recognition for Arvum's unfortunate... /distaste/ for such bindings that the Empire offered to allow those who are not found to be practicing the Art to remain unbound, even if Arvum were to join the Empire."
She glances back at Shard, as well. "A bold choice, your majesty," she allows. "And not one I think I could make, if it were my people in the balance, and I knew that by that one act I could save them all." Despite her obvious disagreement, she offers a deeply respectful bow in Shard's direction, then turns once more to the line.
Turn in line: Bhandn
Valdemar has left the Right Side Benches.
5 Grimhall House Guards, Gustav, a gruff Islander advisor leave, following Valdemar.
When it comes time for Sir Bhandn to take up the baton, he has no small difficulty for it, considering that not only are his eyes concealed by that dark cloth, but both of his hands are occupied as well, each keeping a tight grip on two disparate-length weapons that would ordinarily be on his back, but for now are a repurposed cane of sorts. In the end, he finally says, "Just give it to the next person, I won't be that long," and that in an irritable tone.
Then, he takes a long breath, and he plants both scabbarded points in front of him, and raises his volume to speak.
"You say that we've forgotten our history, Emissary, that we misunderstand a great deal. I sustain the Lady Delilah's question, and suggest a great deal of /writing/ be done. I assure you, you would have plenty of readers. If I'm wrong on that, /I'll/ read it. But enough of that.
"You came here, Emissary, with an offer to gird us against... let us just call it trouble --" a brief, dry pause there "-- and yet, to whom have you made good on this offer? Who in Arvum has been shown /and given/ the best of what you have to offer? You are not the only ones to do so, and you and Cardia both have been rejected in each of your offers of accepting your dominion in exchange for security and teaching us to, I believe it was said "fight as we once did"? But not only did you each offer that, you both threatened war or conquest, probably both, should we choose unwisely and fail," and there his voice takes on an edge.
"And so I ask you: WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?" He leaves that thundering sentence hanging for a moment, but he is not done.
"Your offer was rejected. Your purpose here should be done. Despite that, the only thing I've learned of your people, or of Cardia, is that you can talk. I've yet to see or hear of action that demonstrates good faith or incentive, but I could simply be /ignorant/," and there his words turn a touch colder. His expression has long since gone hard, as much as that blindfold allows. "I can think of at least one action you could take that I would very strongly consider such good faith. Freely given, for nothing in return, a demonstration of your good intentions. Feel free to contact me with regards to those of whom I speak. Even a simple peddler like my father understood that nothing to sell provides little coin, and I find myself with little desire to open the pursestrings for promises over what is inside an empty cart.
"Oh. I suppose I should ask something more interesting and relevant, like how the Empire views dragons. Valar the White in particular." A pause. "That /is/ a real question," he concludes, dry, but his expression and tone remain the opposite of amused. His right hand has tightened to the point of white knuckles on the covered hilt of the greatsword in front of him.
Shard regards Zulana for a little longer when she turns away. Most of the tension about her seems to have gone, somehow, between one breath and the next. Or, at the very least, it's no longer quite so visible. She glances toward Sorrel as she turns back to the wall, and settles again.
Aleksei has settled next to Nurie, speaking quietly to her, but he still listens to Zulana and her questioners. And he rubs at his temple following Bhandn's speech.
Cadern has taken a small book out and takes occasional notes. Eventually he blinks slowly at the latest question, "We really like to berate people who are helpfully answering questions." He also doesn't bother taking a single note for that.
Tescelina has returned to her desk and slips into her seat. She opens her notation journal, tapping the quill before making a few amendments to her writing and adding a bit more.
Mirk has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
Rurik, a prodigal assistant, 1 Crimson Blades Sergeant, Aegis, a large red Oakhaven bloodhound leave, following Mirk.
Delilah has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Scribble, a Delicate Social Butterfly, 1 Inquisition Confessors, Pearl, a Maelstrom Forest Cat leave, following Delilah.
Mirella leans back in her hair, cher immaculate posture relaxing as she realises she's probably going to be hanging around for a while longer. Arms folded, legs crossed, she idly bounces one foot back and forwards. If she was a cat, she'd be swishing her tail right now. Bhandn gets a look, Zulana gets a look, everyone gets a look. If there's to be violence, she's probably uncaring of it.
Brigida checked command + intimidation at difficulty 15, rolling 42 higher.
"That is a creative interpretation of things; I cannot fault Arvani for lack of imagination, even if your knowledge of history seems strangely sparse." Zulana sounds faintly amused. "The Empire never threatened conquest if you 'chose unwisely'. What I said was that if Arvum fell to darkness the Empire would act." She unclasps her hands, folding them in front of her once more. "If you allow yourself to fall to demons, if your land becomes an unlivable nightmare akin to the Reckoning, which threatens to spread over the world -- which threatens /our people/ -- would you have us just sit back and do nothing?" An eyebrow raises. "Oh, dear, the Arvani have fallen to demons. Now a third of them are bound by the Lord of Chains, who is eying the Empire thoughtfully. Another third have become twisted and darkened by the Princess of Corruption, and hope to spread their blight across all the lands, including ours. Well, there's still a third of them who are free; they /did/ neglect our offer, I suppose we should let them be. Doubtless those demonic ships preparing to sail for our shores aren't actually going to be a problem.'"
The Emissary regards the man flatly, her golden gaze unyielding. "Why am I still here? I am still here because the Black Spire remains here as well. I am still here to observe, because since I arrived I have heard the most troubling rumors of darkness already spreading, and if you /are/ to become the next Pyre, I will have my people, my Father, know /before/ demonic hordes are marching on our people." She sighs. "And I am here in case you see sense, and change your minds. In case you reach out to take the help that has been offered."
"You say you've seen no action; what action would you have? You stand here and proudly proclaim your sovereignty, demanding we leave rather than interfere, and in the same breath claim we have given no help? How would you have me offer this help without interfering? Merely offer information?" Again, the Emissary spreads her arms as if to say, 'Well? Here I am!'
"As for dragons? Valar was a valiant ally in the Reckoning, and he led his people well." A pause, and then Zulana adds dryly, "But he no longer leads, and circumstances change. If your neighboring House had been your friend for years, and then the leader died and their heir was cruel and began raiding your lands, torturing your people... well, I would think you would be allowed to change your mind of that neighbor."
She turns to the next in line.
Turn in line: Sina
Sina checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 15, rolling 17 higher.
Brigida stands up and bangs her staff on the ground twice. "Shout like that again and I will take you outside and put a switch to your palms Bhandn!" Her tone is sharp as thorns.
Mirella is overheard praising Brigida: That archlector knows how to make a threat.
Tescelina checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 7 lower.
Mirella checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 5 higher.
Tescelina stops writing and sets her quill aside. She rests her hands on the surface of the journal for a moment and her body tenses. She closes the cover and stands, tucking the book against her chest. She looks like she might /say something/ about Zulana's words but instead she walks from the room and excuses herself quietly.
There's a very long, drawn out breath that blasts out of the nostrils of Sir Bhandn when the Emissary responds. He stands there, stone faced, but there's a notable grimace at the Archlector's response about his lips. He does not answer the entire time that Zulana responds to the primary "concern" of his. The second question he asked, though, actually gets a soft response. "As I thought." And then, suddenly, he inclines his head and even offers a faint bow to the woman, before turning vaguely in Brigida's direction and giving her one deeper. In silence.
Sina lifts a hand, still watching quietly as Bhandn speaks so forcefully, and more than a little rudely, to the guest of the Scholars. To everyone in general, she says, "I have offered Emissary Zulana the hospitality of the Scholars and the Academy. Please, let us show her some respect as our guest," she says, after a moment. It is her turn then, so she steps forward when the baton is finally given to her, and lifts her gaze to Zulana, silvery eyes meeting golden. "Emissary, thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions, and tell us more of your homeland. It has been... most enlightening."
She pauses, gathering her thoughts for a moment, then speaks in her quiet manner. "You suggest that we are as children, stumbling in the dark. That we cannot be trusted without the guiding hand of your Father's writs. You compare the situation to children being allowed free will to run amok, or people walking across a bridge without railings, or other analogies," she says quietly, slowly formumating her question. "But, the real question here should be, what prevents us from falling off the bridge?" She shrugs her shoulders. "Common sense. We can see that it is high, and we know that a fall will kill us. Our children do not live their lives with their hands constantly held to keep them out of danger, every moment of every day. So how is it that they survive to grow into full adults?" Her pale, quicksilver eyes are fixed on Zulana. "They are taught. They learn. They fall down and skin their knees, and they cry, and then they get right back up again and soon they are learning once more. Because we protect them, as best we can, but there comes a time when we have to let them go, as Prima Shard has said, to make their own choices and mistakes, and take responsibility for them. They are guided through education, learning from their mistakes, and the experience of their elders. We hold the ideals of the Gods in our hearts, teach them to our children and those who join the Compact, and those ideals hold our Compact together, especially our Oaths."
She lifts her chin slightly, and says, "I would say, then, that we learn from experience, and we hold one another accountable for the choices that we make. We do make mistakes. We /are/ ignorant of many things, but we do know that there are dangers in this world. Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes fall. But we get back up again, and we keep fighting and learning and we keep that flame of hope lit within us, and sometimes, miraculously, we succeed by working together to fight that which threatens us. If we are unable to stand on our own, we are helped by one another. Most of all, we seek knowledge and understanding, which is Vellichor's charge to us, that we might know the right choices to make. We even listen to opinions and ideas different from our own, as we have listened to you today, Emissary. I wonder," she says, after a pause, gazing at the woman, "if you are equally willing to consider that you, and your father, might have something to learn from us?"
Brigida hmmphs and settles back into her seat following Bhandn's bow in her direction before giving everyone else a baleful glare before resuming listen to the questions and answers, keeping aware of any troublemakers.
Evonleigh is overheard praising Sina.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Brianna before departing.
"Do you think we did not try it your way?" Zulana points out. "What you have now, the Empire once did. Well, perhaps less..." She waves one hand in a lazy little circle in the air. "General chaos over infrastructure, and worrisome things moving in the shadows. But the Empire had no Writs at that time. Indeed, at one point, Writs were forbidden within the Empire. The Order given free reign to do as they wished. And do you know what happened?"
"There were bandits who tried to prey on the weak. Merchants who cheated their customers; who sold food which had gone bad. Those who stole money from others, leaving them impoverished. Orphans, with no families. And, of course, the Betrayal. The Traitor, who shattered the family the Emperor had built. This is what happens when you trust in 'common sense'." Zulana meets Sina's gaze. "Now? The bandits are gone. The people are fed. Everyone has a home, and there are no orphans. The Empire /has/ tried it your way, Archscholar. History has shown that it does not work. You ask if I've considered that we might have something to learn from you? We've walked your path before, and are offering you the chance to learn from those mistakes. Why are you all so certain you have nothing to learn from us?"
"Do you know why trusting in 'common sense' has not already destroyed you? As I hear it, Arvum's Protector -- Copper -- was your railing along that bridge; when people threatened to plunge over the edge and into the chasms, she stopped them. And if she could not stop them, she worked to prevent them from pulling others in with them." Zulana closes her eyes. "You say you remember her, but do you really? She worked from the shadows, I'm told. Until recently, how many of you even knew her name? Knew that she was more than a myth. Who do you have now, with her gone? Are you so certain that everyone in Arvum -- that everyone in Arx, or even everyone in this /room/ -- has the common sense not to poke things they should not? That no one here will rouse sleeping beasts? Stare into the abyss itself until they feel it stare back?"
"I hope you're right, Archscholar. But history suggests you are not." Zulana falls silent, then nods to the next in line.
Alistair has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Mirella stands quietly, taking her place in the line. When her turn comes, and it's time for her to speak, she looks towards Zulana with an impassive and steady gaze. Her voice, Lycene-accented, is loud enough to be heard by all, but no louder. "Emissary. First, thank you for answering our questions, and please forgive me that my own may have already been addressed, even if only indirectly. "But what are your feelings on the questions that have been posed?"
Mirella stands quietly, taking her place in the line. When her turn comes, and it's time for her to speak, she looks towards Zulana with an impassive and steady gaze. Her voice, Lycene-accented, is loud enough to be heard by all, but no louder. "Emissary. First, thank you for answering our questions, and please forgive me that my own may have already been addressed, even if only indirectly." She continues, "But what are your feelings on the questions that have been posed?"
Scythia has left the an Aion starlight table.
1 Redreef Warden have been dismissed.
Rylan, a distracted scholar have been dismissed.
Sina listens quietly to Zulana's words, tilting her head slightly. Then she smiles. "Thank you for answering, Emissary." She seems to not waste any time or energy arguing with the woman. She simply withdraws to hand the baton to the next person. She settles in again at the back of the room, her silvery eyes watching from beneath the veil of her dark lashes.
Cambria has left the Back wall standing room.
"I have been asked a very wide variety of questions," Zulana replies to Mirella. "Some of them were pointed. Some of them were rude. Some of them were quite thoughtful. Many of them had a blind idealism that is both refreshing to see even amidst the darkness, and also somewhat terrifying; idealism alone does not hold back the darkness." She moves again, shifting her weight slightly; she has been standing up here for quite a while, after all. And now a note of frustration enters her tone. "But the vast majority seem to boil down to a rejection of a tool, because it can be used to harm. Asking about the morality of swords, and saying that because they can harm -- perhaps because all you've ever /seen/ from them is harm -- they must all be bad. 'Writs are bad; how do you justify them?' 'They keep our people safe. They keep the world safe. They allow me to walk into the darkest of battlefields and know I will come out with my soul still my own.' 'Alright, but Writs are /bad/, how do you /justify/ them?' I am not entirely certain how many more times I can answer that /particular/ question."
And, with a shake of her head, Zulana gestures to the next in line.
Vitalis has left the an Aion starlight table.
Mirella listens attentively, and then nods, satisfied with the answer. A faint polite quirk of a smile, inscrutable. "Thank you." And with that she returns to her seat, handing the baton over on the way.
Sparte rises up from his seat when the baton is handed to him. He turns it in his hands, looking over it before turning his attention outwards to the others in the room, then to Zulana. "I'm not great with crowds, or talking in front of important people like yourself." A smile flickers, quickly replaced with a look of concentration as he furrows his brow, eyes back on the baton. "But I intend to do my best. As Blessed Sina says, we make mistakes, and should be held accountable for them. I would add, we should hold ourselves accountable first. Before any other." Sparte glances back around the room. "It is something I've tried to do. It is difficult, but it is part of how we grow. By being our own rails, as much as we try to be that for others. So I've sat and I've listened for a while politely. Polite as I can." Sparte's thumb scratches along the baton as he pauses to think. "You are here as a guest, a guest of an archlector of our faith no less. That means guest right, in my mind, has been afforded you." Sparte takes a deep breath, straightening as he does so. "And as you can see we all give that differing weight. Since everyone else with this-" He waves the baton upwards briefly. "-and in many cases without it felt entitled to drone on and on for the sake of their indignation, I'll take my moment of rambling to say something to everyone else. The Archscholar gave us simple rules for tonight, and asked us to respect them. I'm not going to berate anyone, just reiterate what I've already said. We need to hold ourselves accountable for our choices."
Sparte lowers the baton down, giving it a quick flip in his hand, before turning it horizontal to turn it over and examine it in both hands while he speaks. A bit of fidgeting to help him not lose his track of thought, distract him from his nerves. "There were excellent questions asked already. They made the first question I thought of irrelevant. The second, too." Sparte's eyes shift towards the exit. "You might've noticed the man whose breathing sounded like a snoring pig. His name is Sir Jeffeth Bayweather." Sparte looks back to Zulana. "He and I arn't close, but he does something I care deeply about. He stands against the Abyss." Sparte's brow knits as he looks down to the baton again. "And he has been wounded. Badly, from the sounds of it. You mentioned the Mercies of your lands use the Arts to heal, well, we were robbed of the Arts like so many other things. All but the luckiest of us."
Sparte is quiet for a long pause before continuing. "I worry, without the Arts, he might not live to stand against the Abyss again. I could say this just for him, because of what the Platinum Empire cares about and what I care about, but I don't. I'm told there are others with the Mercies. People from Eurus who neither you nor I would see eye to eye with, who suffer. Who might have already fallen off the rails you spoke of, or who might never have known them at all. People terribly hurt who are in need of succor. Our Mercies-" Sparte looks pained, a grim sort of smile as he looks back around the room. "Our Mercies are trying. Very, very, hard. To save those lives. Without the Arts." He looks back to Zulana once more. "Which is why my question to you is a request, Emissary. If you have such Mercies on your vessel. If you have the ability to heal, and can use it just to save a few lives, please allow it to be those. Please offer the help for our wounded and the foreign wounded we are attempting to care for now. Use your gifts where they are needed, without demanding Writ in turn. Please." Sparte offers over the baton back to Jacinthe, retaking his seat. Once settled he is breathing a bit heavy, and sweating, like that was more effort than it should've been.
Peri is overheard praising Sparte.
Sina nods along with what Sparte says in regards to holding oneself accountable, but otherwise, she remains silent now, lingering near the back of the room. She glances around, watching as people filter in or out or converse quietly. Her gaze does linger on those who were particularly rude to the Emissary once in a while, but she eventually turns her attention back to Sparte to hear him speak of Sir Jeffeth, and the injured people aboard the ship, and his plea for Zulana's aid. She watches, to see how the Emissary responds.
Brigida is overheard praising Sparte: Well bloody said.
Nurie's hand moves to cover her mouth for a long moment after Sparte discloses what's become of Sir Jeffeth. Her eyes are wide and worried.
When Sparte speaks of helping his brother in arms, Bedivere looks to Jeffeth, then he looks back to Zulana with curiosity in those hazel eyes.
Mailys, somehow, is still here. Still standing at the back of the room, still watching and listening in relative silence.
Once again, Zulana looks concerned. "You were /robbed/ of the Arts? Your Mercies cannot touch Lagoma's power?" The idea of someone literally stealing the concept of magic seems a bit much to her. How would that even work? She seems to puzzle that over for quite a long moment, taking in what Sparte has said about a wounded knight, and what he faced. Slowly, as though wanting to make /very/ certain of this, she continues. "You mean to tell me the forces of the Abyss are /already/ rising? Here, in your very capital? The city the first Metallic Order fell to defend. The city where /she/ fell. The sacred necropolis atop the Thinnest Point." A pause. "The abyss is rising /here/."
Zulana's lips thin. "I am afraid I have no Mercies aboard my ship; we did not intend to stay this long." You know, until she got in a game of diplomatic chicken with Cardia, where both are waiting to see who blinks -- or moves their ship -- first. "And though there are invokers among the Children, both my brother Kozu and I are adepts. I could send for Mercies from Jadairal, but so long as the representative of the Black Spire remains, he will object. If the Empire lends aid, that man -- and I use the term /very/ loosely here -- will see it as choosing to gain assistance from the Empire, and they will move for war. They will try to seize Arvum. And unless you feel ready to stand against them on your own -- or to join with us, and be under our protection -- then I am uncertain the price would be one you are willing to pay. I am sorry. Were the Black Spire not here..." She trails off, shaking her head, and then -- almost regretfully -- calls for the next in line.
'The boy will live Emissary. Worry not about him. If he could sit upright and walk under his own power from here, the bull headed bossy boy will live to fight another day." Josephine pipes up and punctuates that with two taps of her cane on the floor.
Sparte has a resigned look at Zulana's answer. He says nothing further, not even a nod for confirmation. His eyes are on the table in front of him as the conversation continues on.
Merek has left the Right Side Benches.
Merek has joined the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Merek lifts his brow when Zulana comments upon the situation, switching seats to where there are more people, looking distant while he pulls his scarf on him about his lower face, and leans back to listen also.
Bhandn's mouth has thinned somewhat at Zulana's most recent answer, despite his somewhat chastened expression. He's shaking his head slightly at what Peri has nudged him over, but he lifts a hand slightly before just as quickly dropping it back to holding onto his bound weapons.
Narcissa has left the an Aion starlight table.
Nevermore, the sulking raven have been dismissed.
Sina lifts her head as Zulana seems shocked about Arvum being robbed of the Art. She studies the woman for a moment, with a slight narrowing of her eyes. But still, she says nothing. There is, however, a weighing and measuring in her gaze now. And then a slight nod to herself, as if something is confirmed to her. She remains standing there at the back, not seeking a seat, though she does shift her stance a little as well on weary feet.
"In my quest to remind people of the past, of the Metallics, of the forgotten history that was indeed stolen by the abyss, there are many gaps," Sorrel notes to Zulana as she waits for Jasher to speak. "Perhaps I could invite you to meet with me in a less public setting to discuss what we know of history versus what you know of history. You have listed some names that I will certainly be researching before long, for I am a scholar as well as a singer. I wrote the Metallic Cycle."
After hearing that last from Zulana, Bedivere goes ahead and joins the line, at the tail end there.
Brigida scratches at her nose as she listens, getting comfy in her seat.
Brianna has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Merek has joined the line.
Josephine's starting to rise, leaning on her cane with a murmur to Brigida and others at the table before limping out. There's a pause and a bow to the foreign emissary before leaving proper.
Josephine has left the an Aion starlight table.
Demetria Arcuri leaves, following Josephine.
Vincenzo stands up and aims to ghost before being noticed gone.
Vincenzo has left the couches embroidered with an ivory rose.
A robed figure of white and gold rises from the crowd, heads taller than most, and the Legate of Concepts bows her head respectfully afore the Undying Empire's Emissary, Zulana. Ailith calmly speaks, her voice pitched and trained clearly to be heard across thousands, "Emissary, you've shed light on many subjects for those in attendance and inspire future discussions. And I hope the scholars in attendance keep record for countless others to learn and become aware -- to remember." A light lift of her lips follows before the Legate continues.
"What great Despair has your Father suffered." There's brief glisten and lowering of her blue eyes. "I am saddened by his choice not only for himself, but his children. Control as this is born of Despair, Fear, and Suffering. It is no wonder that any parent would wish to protect their children. His choice rings of a peaceful and controlling Stasis, offering no choice or change. But is that not a denial of the divine wonder of humanity, the full grace of the Gods' gifts by way of Change, Choice, Glory, and Justice -- and most of all, our Endings and Beginnings?"
She momentarily takes a short breath and carries on. "Humanity has shown countlessly that we do have the capacity to fall, as the history of the Reckoning and by your account of your Father's and many other Heroes' experiences, but we also have the capacity to grow, change, and learn in being restored to the Grace. Through time on the Wheel and in this realm, our souls are taught by the Gods. Even Heralds we have defeated reside with the Queen, judged by the Sentinel, and lessons taught by the Gods until their souls are ready to be reborn. Because we all are deserving of the grace of the pantheon. And I shall not deny thus not even before the bitter end as I had with Marin. And with each new turn, may our souls be granted the capacity for change and be one in the light of the Gods."
Ailith bows her head briefly before lifted to Zulana. "Your concern for us is admirable. But the Light will ever grow brighter as humanity shines. We will stand against the Abyss, even a second Reckoning, for heroes will rise. Many will not let fear sacrifice their choices and faith for what looms ahead to do our part in bettering the world. I shall do my part in continuing to awaken that hope and fight as it has held against terrifyingly overwhelming odds. And there are more in this room and realm who will do so as well, even quietly as Copper had. We face much. We stand. But ultimately, I must thank you, Emissary. You and your Father have done much this evening in reminding all, even myself, that there is one surety in this realm -- Truth, Hope, and Faith in the Gods and their gifts. Our paths are guided by the Gods and we will endure. I sorrow for you not to feel this surety and peace that a writ is required. Should you wish to embrace this surety, I offer you time with me in prayer to renew our spirits in the grace the Gods grant us -- free in that choice."
The Legate gently smiles in conclusion, "So which light is true? One chosen by an Emperor for an entire empire or the one chosen by the Gods to grant freedom to make choice, learn, and grow? What is known is the Undying Empire and the Compact will fight the Abyss, whether together or separate. Thank you, once more, Emissary, for your patience to answer so many questions this evening as well as your enlightenment." And she sits once more.
Caelis has left the Back wall standing room.
Rohm the Blackguard, Avalanche, a Snow Shepherd leave, following Caelis.
Lucita stands, quietly gives a little bow if the head and discretely withdraws from the gathering, politely careful to not disturb the listners and speaker.
Lucita has left the Back wall standing room.
1 Saik Guard, Micana leave, following Lucita.
"The Writs bind us against serving the abyss. Against using the Art for personal gain, or to do harm save as ordered to by those laws: to capture those who have broken the laws, or to fight in defense of our land and people." Zulana's golden gaze falls on Ailith as she studies the Legate thoughtfully. "But you say that this binding is in service of Stasis. Does that mean, then, that you believe Change can only truly come through harming others? Through service to the abyss?" The Emissary shakes her head. "The Empire grows, the Empire changes. New things are created by our artificers, new wonders are constructed. Our artists and musicians create great new works. The citizens may learn, and grow, and change themselves -- provided that change does not lead them into the abyss. Or to do harm. And while I am no priestess of Lagoma's temple, I do not believe that Lagoma requires those to be true for something to change. There /is/ change, and growth, other than service to the abyss. Other than deciding to do harm to others."
"Look at my home -- peaceful, prosperous. Full of people who can live their lives untroubled by the abyss. The priests and priestesses of Lagoma can call upon that divine power to heal the sick and wounded. Those of Jayus can call upon inspiration to aid in great works, or to walk through dreams." Zulana pauses. "Now look at your home. People starving. Orphans without homes. Knights fighting abyssal forces near -- or /in/, I am not certain which -- your capital. Your Mercies evidently cannot call on Lagoma's power to heal."
"Tell me," Zulana remarks. "Which of these two lands seems to be the one in the light of the gods? The one with the abyss apparently creeping into their capital? Or the one where the clergy still can heal wounds, and wipe away disease? I know which light I believe is true, for the Empire walks in /both/." A frustrated tone. "I wish there were some way I could show you that. Make you undertand." With an irritable shake of her head, she gestures to the next in line.
Vitalis has joined the line.
Merek looks curiously to Zulana at something she mentions, but doesn't speak.
Sina tilts her head slightly as she listens to Zulana's response to Ailith's words. A slight frown tugs at her lips, thoughtful and troubled. She meets Ailith's gaze briefly but she remains silent. She continues to remain standing near the back of the room, hands tucked into the sleeve of her robes before her. As long as her guest is standing, she's staying on her feet too, it seems.
Jasher silently receives the baton as it's given his way. For a long time, he looks at it, turning it over in a gloved hand, as if it were a personification of his thoughts being considered.
Or maybe it's just an interesting baton. Who knows?
Then he looks up. "Emissary Zulana," he says, his voice stiff at first, but loosening as he continues. "I appreciate your coming here to answer questions as a representative. I doubt the Empire was unaware of what you will face upon these shores, but your patience is welcome."
His eyes find Aleksei at the back wall, briefly, then return to Zulana. "The others before me have asked their questions, and said their piece. But I wonder--you say we are ignorant children." He pauses, lips pressed tight in annoyance before settling back to blandness. "Perhaps it does seem that way; we wield sticks and stones against steel and spells, and abominations of which we thought stories until recently.
"But children grow up." Jasher motions with his baton around the room, at the people. "They become adults, set out to the world to choose as they will. Some choose wisely, some foolishly. Some even more foolishly than a child can." His lips press tight again, but in the glimmer of humour. "A wise person may make a foolish decision sometimes, as a fool may choose to have a moment of wisdom from time to time. The possibility is always there until our last breath."
He pauses for a moment, looking at the baton, then back up at the emissary. "And yet if you remove the choice...I am from the Mourning Isles. The history of thralldom is a familiar story to many of us. A system to pay off debts, used to hold people for lifetimes without the possibility of freedom. I ask you one thing." His blue eyes tilt down, then up. "When the darkness is gone. What will your empire do, next? Who watches your father?"
Ailith gently nods in return to Zulana, added with a subtle gesture of opening any further theological discussion in the future. Her eyes meet Sina's, a soft smile returned, but the Legate contently listens and observes the academic discussion.
"The darkness will never be gone, not truly," Zulana replies, shaking her head. "Despite his wish for a world free of such things, my Father knows that if the darkness were to be eradicated entirely, the Dream would be unchanging; Stasis would reign, and the reflections would win. And the reflections themselves /cannot/ be eliminated, not without destroying the gods themselves." She clasps her hands behind her once more, considering Jasher thoughtfully. "No, we strive to restore the Dream as it was before the first Fractals stepped into the abyss: the darkness in the abyss, and the world here, and the two divided. But even then, the darkness will still /exist/. And it will always seek a way out; it will always find cracks to whisper through, in hopes of drawing someone through once more. And so we must always remain on guard." There's a moment of reflective silence, and then she gestures to the next -- no, the /last/ -- in line.
"The darkness will always find a way," Jasher replies, agreement and warning both. "I appreciate the reply; if you wish, perhaps we can speak of our views in a less public manner." That said, he moves to pass the baton to Bedivere, if she takes it.
Bedivere cuts straight to the chase on a whole bunch of logistical questions, "Surely those writs are more detailed? Do you have those specifics written down where our best can review them? I am sure Scholars of Vellichor would be more than happy to study those in case there are details we might be missing. What solace is given to people who run up against technical issues in writs in their day to day life -- or dire situations -- when they should not have been prevented from acting but cannot do so when it would have better to do so? Whenever you are being blocked from doing something which your writ disallows, does it even enter your mind that you might have considered an alternative in the first place? Are you knowingly disabled from doing something which you may have wanted to do differently but were suddenly stopped from doing? Are you painfully punished for even thinking along those lines? Trying it? Or what? Then, are people honestly happy in the Undying Empire? Are there people who are resentful of the system as well as one another when they are hindered in behaving certain ways which might have meant /less harm/? Are there orphans who have to live with families who are under writ and are being forced to take them into situations where they might be resented and unloved? Maybe there is a different family the next street down who would have loved them more, but no, the writ said this first family had to do so? Whenever there are situations between customers and merchants: how can you possibly ensure that fairness is playing out the right way without one side caving too much in self disrespect? Whilst everything may feel safe and so on, are people prepared for anything? Are they getting weak without strife?"
"Hypothetically speaking, if the Undying Empire is the way to go then how is it after so long that the Abyss still exists in the Dream at all, when it has all the Art and connection to the Gods and the power with which to combat it? Hypothetically speaking, are we suffering the Abyss in Arvum because in the Undying Empire, everybody is constantly beseeching the Gods every day and keeping them busy, while we are over here struggling with Hell in a handbasket, and... is it getting worse for us -- with a Herald here and a Herald there -- because every time the Gods act there, their Reflections act here?"
Sina looks to Zulana curiously at Jasher's question, tilting her head slightly. She seems keen to hear the answer to this one. "We are taught," she says after a time, "that to call upon the Gods so freely, and should they act, this also enables the Abyss to act, as they are reflections of one another. So, if we were to be bound by Writ, and we believe that calling upon the gods may enable the Abyss to act, then would that not preclude us, too, from calling upon Their Grace in a time of need? Because we would then believe we are serving the Abyss, even unintentionally?" she muses thoughtfully, glancing to Bedivere and nodding in agreement with his inquiry. She looks to Zulana, waiting to hear her answer.
Sorrel looks like she doesn't follow Bedivere's question very well, a slightly boggled look on her face. Or perhaps she's just tired. This educational session has been informative but taken a lot longer than she anticipated, after all. "I don't think that's how writs work," she murmurs, shaking her head slightly. "I don't think that's how Beseeching works, either."
Mailys finally pushes off the wall at the back, but she doesn't seem to want to speak. Instead, she stretches both her arms over her head, arching her back with a little sigh. It's almost time to go.
Words, words, words, she's so sick of words. Zulana listens to the question with patience that is clearly beginning to fray around the edges. The questions. The so, so many questions. "I am not even going to attempt to answer all of those," she notes, clearly trying to still sound in good humor, "much less to do so in order. If I did so, we would be here for another six hours." And she's trying very, very hard to remain patient. "I will answer two: first, how a Writ works depends on how it is phrased, just as with any contract, but in most cases? Were you to try to act against a Writ you would simply find yourself unable to do so. It would not be painful, nor would it delude you. You would simply find that you could not speak the words to pledge yourself to the demon, that you could not make the cut to bleed yourself in order to create a mirrorborn. Your own body would prevent you."
"And second, no, invoking the gods does not empower the abyss." Zulana raises both hands, waving one... and then the other. "With a god, acting directly allows their reflection to act as well. But if they act through one of their clergy..." She moves one hand down, waggling it, while the other remains still. "Passing their power through their agent, the god themselves did not act and so their reflection is given no more freedom." She drops her hands now, and cautions, "But the same is true in reverse; it is why the Abyss seeks to gain control of so many, so that they may act without freeing the gods to do the same. The healing magic of our Mercies has no effect on the number of abyssal... /issues/ you seem to be experiencing."
This said, the last in the line addressed, Zulana glances around the (much-diminished) audience and then remarks to the room at large, "That was the last question, I trust?" There's a faint edge to her tone that suggests that perhaps it had best be, for everyone's sake. "If so, I shall offer my thanks to the Archscholar, and then return to my ship."
Sina listens to what Zulana has to say with a very thoughtful expression, nodding her head slightly. "Thank you, Emissary," she says, before stepping away from the wall, and glancing around to those remaining. "I think that we have tested the Emissary's indulgence enough for today. Thank you all for coming," she says, and then she bows her head toward Zulana. "And thank you again, for choosing to speak with us." The Templars at the door stand a little straighter out of respect for the Academy's guest, as she prepares to take her leave.
"Just an invitation to be social at a later date, Emissary," Sorrel pipes up with. "Thank you for your endless supply of patience this evening."
Bedivere frowns slighty, "I did hope to hear if they were happy sans resentment, but alas." He hands off the baton to the next person.
Evonleigh has left the a variety of desks arranged in a semicircle.
Brigida stirs in her seat and gives Zulana a steady look that seems to be one of approval. She stands and has a look that she might ask a question before she nods, "You speak eloquently Emissary and with patience. I would like to talk more with you on the subject at a later time over tea."
At the relative solace of the side bench, Jasher finally takes a seat. His brows are faintly furrowed; one looking at him may almost be able to see the thoughts turning in his mind's grasp. Zulana's words draw him out of his musing, enough to stand and offer a dip of his head. "Thank you," he says, before moving to sit back down.
Mirella checked dexterity + stealth at difficulty 15, rolling 12 higher.
Evonleigh stands, having been quiet, but attentive for so long. She dips her head respectfully to Zulana, gray-blue eyes curious still as she studies the other woman. "Thank you for your time," she says, and then a nod to Sina for hosting the informative meeting. With a glance at one or two of those she knows or who spoke -- the actress is in a rare pensive mood as she makes her way toward the exit.
Quietly, though with murmured goodbyes to people on the way out, Mirella is gone.
Shard hasn't much moved since retaking her position against the wall. She doesn't much move now that the session is ending either, at least not for the moment. Her eyes do flick to each person addressing Zulana in turn, however. She's clearly still paying attention.
Mirella has left the an Aion starlight table.
Stefano, an inconspicuous Lycene bodyguard, Carmela, a gleaming dusken-feathered crow, Ambra, a plain-faced Lycene scribe leave, following Mirella.
"Then perhaps that is the question you should have asked," Zulana notes to Bedivere, her tone perhaps a little more curt than before; it seems clear the Child of the Emperor is /Done/. Still, she offers a formal bow to the Archscholar -- her hands together as she does so, not an Arvani custom -- and other notables, then pivots to head for the door. And gods protect anyone who gets in her way on her path back her ship once more.
Dame Marra, a limping fennec fox have been dismissed.
Disciple Ismay have been dismissed.
Disciple Fulgence have been dismissed.
2 Templar Knight guards have been dismissed.
Nurie straightens as the Emissary passes by on her way out, curtsying politely. And not without empathy for the fatigue of relentless questioning.
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