Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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Once everyone had recovered, the next song that comes up on the shuffle is a song that Ereshkigal submitted to the pile, called "Ennile Maha Oliyo."

Eresh spoke on this song, "On our world, we have many different cultures, with different ideas about music. This is one such song, from a very different part of our world."

There were nods of appreciation all around from everyone save Haru'sara, who just grumbles.

"This is a more familiar style to some parts of our world," Cas'ka remarked. "It's a good song."

"Very familiar sounding, while being unique," Kura'quen nodded.

Haru'sara remarks something that the others all grimaced at. Jae'dhar loosely translated, "He's not a fan of classical music."

"Well, I'm a fan," Sha'ri remarked.

The mood here was overall very happy with the given selections. The roll of the shuffle continued, with another song provided by Eresh- "Beltan" by Gwenael Kerieo. The harp strings are another familiar instrument that has the priestesses smiling, and the Mayors nodding along.

The song's later half picking up pace had Kura'quen grinning.

Calum paused the player once it switches to the next track, and he eyed the next title oddly. "'Pretty Fly For Rasputin'?" He looked to the group. "Who submitted this one again?"

The colour immediately drained from Jules's face. Meanwhile, Eresh couldn't suppress a smile at this title.

"Damnation, Ed, I thought you were joking..." Jules muttered.

Robert glanced over to Jules.

"Ed, huh?" Calum raised an eyebrow. "Before I play... dare I ask?"

"It's... a mashup. A remix of Boney M and The Offspring." Jules admitted.

Robert shook his head, thinking how everything was going so well...

Jules stopped himself from explaining further, fearing that there weren't enough words in the entire English language that would be sufficient. "It made perfect sense at the time," he settled for, with a total failure of conviction in his voice.

"Going by your reactions... It can't be that bad, can it?" Kura'quen asked.

"Remember how I said that we have different cultures with different music? Well, some of them are... this." Eresh said.

Karin'da looked to Calum, and seeing him idling over the skip button, requested, "Play it."

Calum shrugged, and hit play. Needless to say, the rancorous beat that comes out has everyone staring on with... very mixed reactions...

Haru'sara, however, grins. He grins, and he's even nodding his head to the beat once the first "ra ra rasputin" hits.

Jules suddenly began taking an immense and immediate interest in an area of the table directly in front of him. Meanwhile Cas'ka looked utterly baffled by the music... But she was far more composed than the other priestesses... who range from "What is this noise?" to... Jae'dhar's unbeliving shocked face as Haru'sara practically jumps out of his seat and starts clapping his hands to the music...

Once the Space Jam quote hits, Calum can't help but laugh.

"Looking at him, I feel like dancing, too!" Eresh said.

By this point, everyone is looking at the excitedly dancing Haru'sara in almost disbelief. At the end, the man is laughing. Laughing, and indeed, shouting in glee.

Sky pushed Robert's chin up, as his mouth was wide open, aghast at the site of Haru'sara.

Jae'dhar translated, disbelief in her voice, "Finally, one of you gets it." He claps his hands and grins. Jae'dhar translated,"So many different cultures mashed up into one song! It's brilliant!"

Sky laughed and clapped her hands with glee.

"So... more BoneyM mashups, I take it?" Eresh asked.

Robert slowly turned to Jules with his eyes open wide and silently mouthed the words, "What the He..?"

"I'll... make a note of that," Calum said, and wrote down something in his journal.

Jules wordlessly shook his head in stunned amazement, once again feeling he understood nothing of the universe or how it was meant to work, but eternally grateful that whoever or whatever with their hand on the tiller clearly did.

The next track being another one of Gwenael Kerieo's songs, "Tears of Willow," helps to level out the mood among the Rei'schu folks while they try to process just... what the heck a extremely giddy Haru'sara even looks like. The man's mood remains elated.

"Kelsei, if you'll take over the MP3 player for a bit I need to go... Visit the restroom." Calum said simply before making a quick exit out of the room.

Robert shook it off. "Glad you like that," he said when he could find his voice again.

Within moments of exiting the room, Calum could be heard bursting out loud with laughter.

"Well, atleast we've levied out the mood a bit." Karin'da smiled.

Rein'da whispered to his brother, "I think that's the first time I've ever seen that man dance."

Hotou'runa just nodded, completely confounded. "Same."

Kelsei paused the player, and said, "Sorry, I need a moment." She looked just about as shellshocked as anyone else still.

After carefully establishing beforehand that it was safe to catch the eye of everyone else present once more, Jules reached to pour himself another cup of tea.

Robert whispered to Jules, "I have something a little stronger than tea for us."

Feeling this was VERY much the right time and place, Jules moved his mug towards Robert with an appreciative look of relief on his face. Robert generously poured from his flask into both of their cups.

'Everything is fine,' thought Jules as he took a sip and felt the warmth envelope the inside of his throat. Despite himself, he couldn't resist smiling at the sheer delightful absurdity of it all.

Robert started chuckling to himself at the situation. "Maybe this will work after all, " he thought to himself. Or maybe the Scotch was soothing his nerves.

As everyone settled down, a loud squealing noise can be heard outside- along with the rattling thump of something large hitting something solid. A few tea cups rattle from the vibrations.

"What... was that?" Kelsei asked.

"Probably just the hunters outside doing something stupid during training," Amara'da remarked simply.

"Are you sure...?" Cas'ka asked. "Because that sounded an awful lot like-"

"Nothing important," Nen'da replied. "Let us resume with the music please?"

Kelsei frowned, but sets about going through a few more tracks to stall for time until Calum returned. Speaking of... She worried he should have been back by now. But, she doesn't say anything lest she worry the others.

The next track that plays is one of Gustav Holst's Planet Suite songs- Jupiter. A song Jules had provided. The local representatives all seem to be enjoying it- even with the occasional loud squealing noise again, accompanied by the ground rattling again.

"Seriously, that sounds like a Garuna bashing its head against a wall," Priestess Cas'ka remarked.

"If it was, I'm sure that would explain why Runa'mei hasn't returned yet. But it almost certainly isn't," Amara'da assuaged the priestess' concerns.

Haru'sara whistles innocently when Cas'ka eyed him, suspicious. She barked an accusation at the man, who just shrugs.

As the seven minute track comes to an end, there's another- this time louder- shriek of noise before everything shudders one final time, and everything went silent outside.

"Seriously!" Cas'ka ran over to the window, and peered out of it.... She, and anyone else who cared to look, could see nothing at all amiss outside the fortress... Although, all the various students are all looking at something that happened outside the main gates.

Nothing that has them at alarm, though. They all seemed to be quite relaxed.

"See? Nothing's happening down there," Amara'da said simply. "If anything my hunters down there are being far too lax about their training!" She then shouts down at them something that could conceivably be a 'get back to work!'

Sky began to wonder if Haru'sara wa somehow behind what was causing all the racket outside the fortress, given his reaction. She gets up to joins Cas'ka at the window, watching the students and wondering herself what was happening on the other side of the main gate. She looked to Kelsei, and asked, "Maybe we should go see what's going on out there? At the very least, go look for Calum?"

"I'm sure Calum can take care of himse-" Robert stopped himself after seeing the perturbed look Kelsei gave him. "Oh, right. It's Calum that we're talking about here."

"Before anyone does anything, perhaps listen?" Amara'da offered. The group waited.... and silence filled the air. After about a solid minute, the chirping of birds returned, and the smell of sea-salt in the air outside faded away.

Sky visibly relaxed. "I guess whatever it was is over now? Nothing to worry about, I suppose." She shrugs her shoulders and turns away from the window.

"There, see, nothing's happening," Amara'da said. "Everything's fine!" As she said this, she tried to get everyone away from the window and back to the table- a feat made harder by Calum returning to the room, looking annoyed.

"Did anyone else think to install a map or something?" He asked. "I swear, this place..." He stopped as everyone looked at him. "What? Do I have something on my face?"
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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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As everyone settled back in at the table, it's not much longer before Runa'mei returned as well, huffing for breath, and looking just as annoyed as Calum did.

"Two things," She raised her hand hand, and held up a single finger. "One. Someone really needs to figure out how to make this place not a freaking labyrinthian maze, General Amara'da."

"Noted," Amara'da said, "But there's nothing we can do about it."

"Two- I found the kitchen and apparently we're having giant crab for dinner." Runa'mei concluded, raising a second finger.

"Oh? That's a surprise to me," Amara'da smiled. "But a pleasant surprise, regardless."

Haru'sara chuckles to himself, and remarks something. Jae'dhar translated, mostly annoyed, "Apparently it's a gift for negotiations. I wish he'd told ME that beforehand, but, whatever."

Runa'mei's facial expression twitched for a moment between annoyance nad anger, and then to a placid calm as she took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "So yeah. Maze hallways. Someone needs to fix that." And then she stomped over to an empty chair, slid it out from the table, and sat down at it. "So. Then. Where were we?"

'I REALLY need to bring some tartare sauce with me next time,' thought Jules for the second time that day. "So, uh... yes, that was by Holst, another of our classical music composers. He did a whole suite based on the planets orbiting our own, each one intended to convey a different emotion. This one is called "Jupiter, the bringer of Jollity."" He paused. "There's another from the same suite on there called "Mars, the bringer of War". If anyone is partial to music that invokes a powerful sense of dread and foreboding, that one will definitely have you covered."

"Perhaps later?" Karin'da offered. "Maybe one or two more songs, Traveler?"

Calum nodded, happy to move on. The next song out of the MP3 player is a jazzy tune by Jaco Pastorius, recorded from a Jazz Festival in Montreal- a song called, amusingly enough, "The Chicken." It's a jazzy beat that needs really no explanation overall, though Calum looked to Sky for remarks if she was wanting to provide them.

"I included this piece as a example of "Jazz", offered Sky, "a very fluid style of music. It often included parts that have been written, combined with improvisations, which is when the musicians can create the music as they play in the moment, making the song different each time it is played. This example is from a world-renowned jazz festival, and you can clearly pick out the sections when each musician is given their chance to shine. It is a great example of how amazing individuals can do incredible things, but bring them together and you often get something even more wonderful." She paused. "Plus, it's just great music to listen to!"

The Jazz goes over well, and Haru'sara is still in too good of a mood from earlier to gripe. The others liked it well for its stylistic differences from before.

Once that song ended, the next one up is a track called "Lagan", which, well... It's a bop, to put it mildly. Everyone liked it- even Haru'sara, though he remarks that it's not as good as the last one he liked. Nobody pays him any mind because it's a good song. Calum looked to Jules for any remarks on it as it nears the end.

"This is another example of fusing different genres and sounds together to make something entirely new. Here, it's a combination of traditional Gaelic and West African voices and rhythms with electronic sounds for the instruments." Jules said.

Finally, Calum said, "Alright, I think one last song, and then we can move onto another subject?"

There are nods around the group. And then Calum plays the final song.

["Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide..."]

It's Bohemian Rhapsody.

As the lyrics commence, Jules immediately shut up and let the song's magic take hold. Robert was amused when their heads were nodding up and down to some of the rhythms. Sky followed suit with Jules, swaying to the beat and mouthing the words as the music swelled.
Suddenly, as the guitar solo took hold, she began to head-bang to the beat, clearly absorbed by the song. Suddenly, she looked up, as if realizing that she is not alone, and went beat red with embarrassment. She turns her eyes back to the table of documents and papers, avoiding Kelsei's look of amusement at her antics.

As Robert fell out of his chair laughing in tears, Catchen looked at Jules with an expression best described as "furiously suppressing the primal urge to karaoke."

Tiernan looked up from his tablet, having been taking notes, transcribing the conversations and events quietly in the background. He checked his phone a moment, tapped out a message to send later, then returned to note taking.

As Bohemian Rhapsody ended, Kura'quen clapped her hands, looking on the verge of tears. "Oh. That song... you can just feel the emotions there."

"Indeed," Karin'da nodded.

Amara'da chuckled to herself, "The eternal struggle of life, exemplified."

Haru'sara seems to be struggling to not say anything. The song clearly having gotten to him on some level even if he couldn't understand the lyrics.

Sky looked back up from the table, embarrassing moment having passed. "General Amara'da, I was wondering if I might be able to help out with the preparation of the giant crabs? Seeing your kitchens, and watching how your cooks work with the food they have available may help give me an insight into what more we could provide to supplement and improve your diet here. I believe it could be beneficial to the success of our mission here."

General Amara'da nodded. "I believe we could take a short break from the talks to let you do that."

"Agreed," Kura'quen nodded. "I think we could all do with a break before we move onto another subject." She eyed Haru'sara. "Besides, I believe we should have a few private words with our... Crab Gifting Friend, here."

"Also, being a chef myself," Sky continued. "I would want to make sure the food preparation is impressive enough to honour the great gift Haru'sara has bestowed upon us." Sky takes a sideways glance at Haru'sara when she says this, trying to read his reaction to her comment.

Jules debated internally on whether to expound the theory that Freddie Mercury was one of his world's mythical Fae, whose words could compel euphoric head-banging in all who listened, but decided to keep schtum on that particular avenue of discussion, at least at this juncture.

"I can escort anyone who wants to visit the Kitchen," Runa'mei offered.

Robert composed himself and reaches for his pack. "Perhaps you could also prepare these ribs so that they may get a taste of pork. I'm willing to help out as well," he said, not making eye contact with Sky for fear that he would lose it again.

Sky attempted to repress her laughter as she swatted Robert in the arm. "Thank you, Runa'mei - I fear I would get totally lost in this place!"

"Capital notion. Sky, reckon you can make use of any of these?" Jules pulled from his bag his sampling of spices that he had bought with him. "Just the usual cross-selection, I reckon you'll know how to best get the most out of them than me. I just tend to throw them all together and see what happens."

Sky looked over the assortment of small bottles. "Oh, absolutely! I'm sure I can find a good use for these, especially after seeing what foods the cooks are working with here. Maybe we'll even be able to trade recipes!" she added, excitedly.

Jules's eyes lit up at this prospect. "I'll stay here for now and take in a bit of air, my writing hand's starting to cramp up a bit," he said, gesturing to the window and moving his wrist in assorted directions to stretch out the muscles.
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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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REI'SCHU FIRST NEGOTIATIONS VOLUME 4: "Tradition... TRADITION!"
The tour to the kitchen wasn't anything exciting- more boring hallways and dodging crowds of scholars and warriors. That said, the kitchen itself was another story entirely. Given the ancient antiquity of the structure in question, its hard to put an earthian style on it, but if one had to... it would be in the layout of a modern restaurant kitchen, done up in a steampunkish styling... while heavy on the ancient carved stone deco, however, and large enough to fit -atleast- a standard selection of a jet airplane's passenger load from nose to rear fin.

Imagining all of that? Good. Now realize that much of this massive kitchen space is taken up by large crab legs. MASSIVE. I'm talking as thick around in diameter as a small car, and as long as three school busses put together. Chefs and attendants are busy preparing this meaty thing by cutting it into slices and then cutting those into square-foot-largeish, but still comparatively tiny to the whole- chunks. All of which immediately go into various pots or onto cutting borads for further meal-preparation needs.

It was practically an entire industrial chain preparing to feed an entire town's worth of people kicking into high gear with a sudden influx of crab meat and armored plating- which I'm not even going into here because that's a whole other operation and entirely irrelevant to the story at hand here. Needless to say, no part of this giant Garuna crab was going unused, and that would likely be the case for many days to follow.

One of the chefs busying themselves with a square-foot sized chunk of crab-meat infront of them, chopping it into even smaller portions than the square foot sized chunks for easier cooking, smiled at Runa'mei and gave some excited remarks and gratitudes.

"...that'll be The CRAB," Catchen breathed.

"I've been to buffets with all-you-can-eat crab legs, but this is the first all-you-can-eat crab leg!" Robert exclaimed. Working with one of the chefs, through translation from Runa'mei, he prepared the ribs with a rub. He explained how to slow cook the ribs on a low heat and when to baste the barbecue sauce onto the ribs. He couldn't help noticing Runa'mei licking her lips in anticipation of tasting this new delicacy. Satisfied that the chef understood, he rejoined the group.

Tenny had chuckled at Robert's comment as he watches him in the kitchen. He made a few notes on his tablet and snapped a few pictures with his phone.
---

Jules set his pen down and closed his journal. He stood, stretching his arms and neck with a satisfying series of cracks before walking over to the window, where he looked out over the city in quiet contemplation, allowing his thoughts to clear.

As he gazed out the window, Jules got a decent view of the warrior group dragging in the legless crab body from outside. The back of the thing is covered in a coral like material that looks patterned in the same way as the moons do. Eye like, comes to mind.

The crab's front pincer claw arms were still attached, and were what the locals were using to drag it with. The massive claws mirror earthian crabs, with one being larger than the other, but they seem more like scorpion claws, rather than crab claws. They also show signs of being bound for a long period of time before the bindings broke.

At the angle Jules views it from, he cannot see the face of the massive creature, but he can see where the armor is slightly cracked and fractured on the shell where a head ought to be. And, beyond those many fractures at the impact point, a single spear can be seen jammed into the fractured armor- quite clearly the death blow that put the darned thing out of its misery.

As Jules views this, Mayor Kura'quen grew fed up with whatever private conversation the rest of the Mayors and Priestesses who also stayed behind are having with Haru'sara, and made her way over to the window as well. She gazed down at the crab as it's finally pulled inside, and the outside gates are swung closed with a resounding thud.

For the first time since this whole meeting began, Kura'quen had an air about her of accepted importance. She gazed down at the Crab, took off her glasses to clean them quickly before putting them back on, and frowned.

"That poor thing," She stated with sympathy. "Haru'sara had a group of hunters trap it and drag it all the way here. They were 'supposed' to report into the kitchen with it, and then come meet him, but considering the state its in..."

She reached out with out hand, and traced a finger over the space the spear is lodged through. It was quite clear that something had gone wrong when the beast escaped its bindings and went on a literal rampage.

Jules nodded in understanding. "It's not something that we have to contend with so much on our world. At least, not in the way we once did, centuries ago. The animals we eat are bred in captivity before they're killed. Leads to something of a disconnect when it comes to thinking how the food we consume is obtained. Certainly it's less fraught with risk and some may say it's more humane for the creatures we eat, but at the end of the day..."

Jules tapered off, his mind suddenly aware of many ethical considerations that were now rattling around in his head.

Kura'quen nodded. "I understand entirely. We ourselves try to avoid hunting animals when they get to this size for food- usually, we only have them when they're put down, and we need to ensure they dont go to waste... this is just... unnecessary."

She sighed. "It's what the role of the Chezwyrd Chen is for, superficially. The Hunter Chezahcen chose to ensure that monsters of this size do not go wild and overhunt their food sources, and go after others... It's a bitter thing, though, in cases like this where one of our own engineers the situation to begin with."

She glanced over her shoulder at Haru'sara, who seems to be getting a stern lecture from Amara'da and Karin'da at the moment. The man in question doesn't seem to care, picking some wax out of his right ear as he listens to them.

"I can understand why his presence would make for some... lively deliberations", said Jules, choosing his words carefully. "Though not often the smoothest. I've had more than one tutorial where there was always one who turns up with the idea of out-knowing the lecturer. Makes sticking to a lesson plan something of an adventure. Still. I'm glad that some common ground has been established. At least, it feels that way. How are you feeling about things so far?"

"Ah, yes, the rei'funds who often think they can teach what they've come to learn," Kura'quen chuckled. "Common ground? Yes, I think so... I'm feeling..." She looked out the window, out at the horizon. "More hopeful than I was feeling when we started. If I'm being honest I really don't know why I'm here anyways- there are other leaders who have more experience in this sort of thing."

She scratched at the back of her head, mussing up her hair a smidge. "Honestly, a part of me thinks the only reason I'm here is because it was our village that Calum wandered into and Priestess Karin'da saw an opportunity to better our world. I'm too young and too inexperienced with this. The other Priestesses at home say I've done well enough to earn a spot here but..." She sighed. "I still have my doubts. Priestess Karin'da is the one who's put together our side of things for this. What have I done but make a few paltry requests in the face of all of our greater problems?"

Jules smiled. "Well, nothing wrong with youth when it comes to bettering the world. In my experience, it's the younger generation who often have the inclination to look at things and decide whether they should be or not. They have the drive to see life through fresh eyes and make changes that are often well overdue. They ask the questions that just become accepted truth when you hit a certain age. Believe me, yours is a perspective that is thoroughly necessary, especially when it comes to moments that impact a world as this has the potential to do. And when it comes to experience, well..." He made a show of looking around conspiratorially. "Do you want to know the big secret behind that?"

Kura'quen leaned in closely, "Please. Tell me the big secret behind that."

"Everybody, no matter how many years they have behind them, everybody is making this up as they go along. You grow up surrounded by adults and you think that they have everything worked out, that they know what they're doing at all times, that they're basically infallible. That you'll hit a certain point in your own life and it all becomes perfectly clear and that you'll know everything there is to know. The truth is that moment never comes. You'll spend your whole life questioning, second-guessing yourself, making mistakes sometimes, and not being certain of anything that could happen from a decision you or someone else can make."

Jules smiled.

"And that's a good thing. Because that means you're thinking and feeling the exact same thing that everyone else in this room is right now. Doesn't matter how many years separates you from them, your experiences, anything like that. That feeling will never go away. So on that account, you are just as capable as everyone else here. Basically, keep doing what you feel is correct and right on what you hold to be important, and you won't go far wrong."

Kura'quen smiled as she processed those words, and nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Lavisham."

"My pleasure. Now, don't let on that I've told you. There's a lot of people we both know who'd probably prefer we keep thinking they've got things all sorted out. We wouldn't want them knowing we were on to them, right?" Jules tapped his finger to his nose in an attempt to look serious. The big grin on his face negates the effect somewhat.

Kura'quen giggled, and nodded. "Of course. I won't say a word."

Jules nodded back. "Grand stuff. Right, if I'm not mistaken I think there's a few of those smashing Biscotti's left. Builds up an appetite, this diplomacy shindig. Shall we?"

Kura'quen agreed, and as they head back to the table...
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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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The group downstairs finished up their duties in the kitchen and were heading back up to the negotiation room, Runa'mei leading the way through the hallways.

Kelsei asked, "So, you trained here? You seem to know your way around pretty well."

"I did, yes," Runa'mei nodded. "Navigating these halls became something of a second nature, and its frustrating how they seemed to have gotten worse since then."

"You mean this place wasn't always a confusing mess of eldritch navigation?" Calum asked.

"Once upon a time, I'm sure this place made perfect sense," Runa'mei lamented. "However... that was long before I was ever born, I'd imagine."

They pause at an intersection that seems to have been one they'd passed already from another direction- "Oh for..." Runa'mei swears. "Not this damned loop again."

It takes her a few moments to consider her memories and then, Runa'mei lead the group in reverse the way they'd just come, to exit out in a different hallway entirely than the one they should have been in.

"This stupid building..." Runa'mei muttered to herself.

Soon, the group returned to the negotiations room, and everyone settled back in at their seats.

The remaining biscotti had, alas, been consumed entirely at this point between Jules and Kura'quen, much to Kelsei's disappointment.

Jules apologized, "Eeep. Sorry Kels. Jammy Dodgers for next time on me, promise."

"I'll hold you to that," Kelsei said.

Robert returned to his seat at the table. "Jules, you won't believe the size of the crab leg we saw. It's big enough for everyone in this room to get their fill and then some." Then, in a lower whisper, he asked, "How things going in here?"

"Things continuing apace," murmered Jules in a sotto fashion. "The Allegedly High Lord of the Sea got a bit of a telling off for what I assume is the crab business, but that's about it."

"Okay, so, we've covered music and food... the last things we have to cover are..." Calum thumbed through his journal again. "Point D, Examples of Cultural Relaxation, and Point A, Proof of Community."

Tiernan settled in, quietly observing, listening, like the trained diagnostician he is. He continues to transcribe the events in his journal.

Calum looked amongst the people at the table. "Any preference choice of which?"

Catchen asked, "The answer isn't allowed to be "tea" again for both, is it?"

That gets a laugh out of Kura'quen. A real full body giggle that just slips out before she can contain it. "Can it please?" She asked.

Karin'da shook her head, amused. "Sorry dear, but I'd like something more concrete."

Robert offered, "Perhaps examples of Cultural Relaxation would be a good topic at this time. With some more tea," he smiled at Catchen and Kura'quen.

"Cultural relaxation it is," Calum said, smiling at the group.

"Now that is something our world does really quite well," said Jules. "Particularly when it comes to things such as the art of storytelling. And, going by the remarkable demonstration we were treated to earlier of your crystals' ability to project images, it's something I feel you thoroughly enjoy as well."

Jules placed in front of him the leather bound books he had earlier set out on the table.

"These are a collection of some of our world's oldest and most well-known stories and legends. Beowulf, The Thousand and One Nights, Journey to the West, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Iliad and the Odyssey. A nice cross selection there from across our respective history and cultures."

Kura'quen looked Very Interested Very Quickly upon the topic shifting to books.

"Happy to provide translation notes and historical references and the like if your own scholars are interested in that sort of thing," added Jules. "But at their heart, they're stories that have persisted in our world's canon, for thousands of years in some cases. I'd be very interested in seeing what you make of them." he smiled. "Speaking personally, I'm always up for seeing new takes on old favourites."

Kura'quen visibly restrained herself as she politely requested, "I will take custody of those if you don't mind?"

The Twins just grin knowingly.

"Eh, I'm not much of a reader these days, too much work to do," Amara'da shrugged.

"We'll be sure to borrow them when you're done, dear," Karin'da smiled at her town's mayor.

"But you must make some time for relaxation, no? A moment at the end of the day, or a day at the end of the week?" Sky asked the group.

"Oh, yes," Amara'da said. "But I personally find my relaxation comes from things not many find relaxing." She leaned over the table conspiratorially. "Ask me next time how many ways there are to skin a Runarin and make their hides into armors."

Jules slid the books in the direction of Kura'quen. To Amara'da, he said, "If you do get the opportunity, General, I certainly recommend Beowulf. An old legend of a heroic slayer of monsters from my own country's history."

Amara'da raised an eyebrow. "Really now?"

Kura'quen searched through the books, and then handed over a specific tome. "I believe this one?" It does indeed read Beowulf on the cover.

Amara'da took the book, casually flipped through it, and then nodded. "Very well. I think I can spare some threading time for a good hunting tale instead."

"We'll review the other volumes as our dear Kura'quen sorts through them," Karin'da said to Jules. Then, to Sky, she said, "Yes, our people generally tend to do our chores early, and finish early to spend the rest of our days relaxing or indulging in our hobbies."

"The General here is something of a..." Cas'ka smirked. "Busy body, when it comes to her daily tasks."

"I run a town, a school, and maintain an army of hunters," Amara'da said. "And then I make armor in my spare time. How am I a 'busy body'?"

"Proving my point," Cas'ka says, motioning at the General.

"Again, Priestess, how am I a 'busy body'?" Amara'da pressed.

Sha'ri held back a chuckle. Nara'nen just rolled her eyes, and said, dryly, "You take on more tasks in a day than many of the people in this room do, and seem to revel in it. You keep your body busier than a Runarel in a mood."

"It's not my fault I have to organize all those rei'funds who don't know how to run this damned maze of an academy," Amara'da countered.

Rein'da coughed. "Perhaps we should move on to another item?"

Eresh steped forward, carrying her bag, "I have here some hobbies that use the hands as,well as the mind. First the painting arts: these are pencils whose colour dissolves across the paper when dipped into water, and these are some sheets of thick paper to use with them. We call these 'aquarel pencils', after the water painting technique, aquarel."

Eresh demonstrated a few strokes with the pencils, and mixes some new colours across the paper, and the Priestesses seem very interested in this. Seeing their smiles, Eresh continued, "We also have painting techniques using liquid pigments and brushes; but these pencils are convenient, since they can be easily carried around."

"It's like the dissolving paints we've found records talking about!" Sha'ri remarked.

"And none of the information on how to make them," Nara'nen added.

"Hmmm..." Eresh thought on it. "On our world, we used to make inks out of berries and seashells. I will bring a book on it on my next visit! That will have recipes, which we can try here on Reischu!"

"These pencils certainly are more convenient than the disolving paints in record," Jae'dhar remarked. "Those were carried around in long tubes that supposedly had to remain in a steady temperature environment."

Karin'da nodded. "That sounds like a great idea."

Eresh nodded, "Yes, the liquid paints are a hassle. On oir world, they are generally used in a special room called a studio. It's even worse with the organic solvent-based ones; but those I never use, since the fumes are toxic."

Calum grimaced- "The less said about spraypaints the better."

Eresh reached into her bag again, producing a circular wooden frame with fabric stretched across. It iwas embroidered with a red rose. "I have some more materials as well: fabric arts! This is an embroidery frame; we stretch fabric on it, and use this coloured yarn to embroider patterns."

"Ah! A tiny embroidery frame!" Kura'quen claped her hands. "It's adorable!"

"Do you have these as well?" Eresh asked.

"We have similar techniques, I believe," Kura'quen said, nodding.

"If you see a banner with a pattern on it, it's likely been embroidered," Hotou'runa added.

Eresh reached in again, producing a length of blue floral cloth stuck together with pins. "And this is a dress I am handsewing. I cut out the pattern, then pin the parts together, and finally sew with a needle."

Amara'da seemed very interested in that, leaning in close to get a look. "Fascinating. I can see similar techniques to what I use for my armor work, but it's much finer." She glanced at Cas'ka, considering the woman's robes. "More like what you priestesses wear, material wise."

"Sewing is a wonderful hobby, I find." Eresh smiled. "I make everything I wear, as well as textiles around the house. Only this suit is D'ni. For thick armour, we can sew that, too. We have special needles for that."

Amara'da nodded. "Hardy armor makers, those old D'ni." She seemed interested, "Special needles you say?"

"Yes, very thick, curved ones. They can also be used for upholstery." Eresh answered. "You need to protect your finger with a metal cap to use them."

Amara'da needed a moment to consult the translation crystal for "upholstery", then asked, "Cloth Furniture?"

"Yes; for example, a cushion on a chair." Eresh elaborated.

"Ah," Amara'da nodded. "I see. Interesting. I'd like to borrow some samples of those needles, if you have them. Though... I make no promises if they come back bent out of shape." She confided, "I've been trying to find a needle type that can properly punch through some certain materials. Haven't managed one yet, though."

Cas'ka seemed mildly annoyed there, and remarks, "Please tell me you're still not going on about trying to make armor out of those Nara'Runarels' fur."

Amara'da chuckled. "I would be a liar if I was."

"No problem! You can keep them!" Eresh handed over a small, folded cardboard pouch. Inside are many sizes of needles, neatly arranged

Amara'da looked at the pouch's contents with awe, and reverance. She noded to Ereshkigal, and said, "Thank you for the gift. I will put them to good use."

"I would suggest maybe a thimble or two with those needles, Eresh, if the material is particularly tough to get through." Sky rubbed her fingertips gingerly, having stabbed them one too many times trying to force needles through leather.

"I have some finger covers," Amara'da said. "They should be sufficient." she smiled, though, and added, "I will be sure to let you know if they are not."

Sensing the time to shift to his topic next, Robert stood next. "You've already had some experience with samples of the music that we've shared with you. Some people relax to some forms of music, some read books and magazines. There are those who like to get away to the outdoors to hike, camp, fish, and hunt. Others find crafts that take their mind off of their troubles. These crafts include woodworking, model building, restoring old cars, cooking and baking, or sewing and knitting."
Robert motionrf to the fabric and needles before them, then to the books, and the pencils and paper.
"Some enjoy writing stories, and others thrive on drawing/painting objects, people, and landscapes. We also enjoy socializing with friends and loved ones; spending time with one another's company. For instance, I enjoy having a drink or two with these folks, swapping tales of our adventures, our life experiences, and our hopes and dreams."

Sky nodded in agreement, "In fact, sometimes the best relaxation is during those times spent with friends."

Robert Murry smiled, and continued, "In my travels, I have encountered many different cultures, both past and present. These cultures all have very similar types of relaxation such as I the ones I have mentioned, plus more."

"Our world also puts a lot of stock in games," said Jules. "Challenges of skill, chance, logic, some personal, some competitive. Over the centuries they have developed and grown more involved and complex, but the classics are still with us."

He fished into his bag and drew out a tiny carved wooden box. Lifting the lid, he retrieved a small pile of laminated rectangular cards with assorted designs and numbers on them, spreading them out over the table.

"This is a deck of cards, one of our oldest pastimes. 52 in a deck, each deck containing four suites of thirteen," he explained, pointing to the different designs. "Goes from One - the Ace - then ascending in value to Ten, then Jack, Queen and finally King."

"We could play 52 card pickup." Catchen interjected, much to very horrified looks from Calum and Kelsei in response.

Jules, too, gave Catchen a Look and subtly chuckled before continuing. "The format lends itself well to numerous different types of game - some individual, most competitive. At their simplest, they involve just luck and a basic strategy. But the more complex ones involve anticipating your opponent's behaviours, reading their body language and trying to determine their strategy while trying not to give away your own. And, in particular, attempting to work out whether or not they are deceiving you."

Tiernan's eyes lit up as Jules brought out the playing cards. He nodded at his explanation and smirked a tiny bit. "I always carry a deck on me, for instance," Tenny said, patting his jacket pocket.

"More than happy to show you all a quick round of them in action." Jules said. "Tenny, how's your blackjack game?"

Tenny tilted his head to the side and shrugged a little. "Eh, fair..."

"I carry my own pack, in case someone uses marked cards in poker," Robert said, looking at Jules and Tenny. "Especially on poker night at New Messenger's."

Tenny laughed, "Oh, wha' are y' sayin', Robert?" Robert just put on his best poker face and shrugged his arms innocently. Tenny chuckled. "Well, now, sometimes y' gotta keep it interestin'..."

Kelsei blinked. "We have a poker night?"

Calum, meanwhile uttered a quiet, "And here's where I'd show my chess set if it hadn't gotten stolen."

"Newly established," Jules said to Kelsei. "Check your KImail, invite should be there."

As Kelsei checked her KI, Jules gauged the reaction of the Rei'schu delegates to see if he had piqued any interest, and it seemed he definitely had.

"Card games, hm?" Hotou'runa smirked at his brother. "Sounds like our kind of thing."

"Oh, you mean like that time we were kids and mom had to ban us from throwing crystals at eachother?" Rein'da smirked in return.

Hotou'runa laughed, clearly embarassed. "Well, we were just kids and we weren't really using those safely at all..."

"I'll take care of those cards to ensure these two don't get... rowdy," Sha'ri remarked, picking up the set Jules had offered. "What is '52 card pickup,' might I ask?"

Calum interjected, "A mean way to wreck someone's afternoon."
Kelsei snorted.

"Will be interesting to see what new games you can come up with," said Jules. "Ones such as Snap and Blackjack are pretty accessible, but they can run all the way up to things like Bridge and Poker."

"Oh, we'll definitely come up with some games!" Rein'da agreed.

"I'll make more than you!" Hotou'runa taunted his brother.
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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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"Alright then, I think that'll cover this category for tonight," Calum said before the twins could get at it again, and took a deep breath. "Final Category- probably the toughest one to judge by I'd wager." He read aloud, "Category A: Proof of Community. What are some examples those of us here in the Cavern can provide of people coming together to help, support, or otherwise enrich the lives of those living in or visiting D'ni."

Robert stood up to address the group. He pulled several books from his pack and placed them on the table before their hosts.

"As an archeologist, I have studied and explored many cultures on our planet, both past and present. So has Dr. Lavisham. These gifts before you are books on history, Archeology, and Social Studies describing our past and present. In D'ni, many folks from different cultures have found their way there and have established a strong bond with one another. The previous three categories combine to produce that spirit of community that we share. We love music of all kinds. Each week, people gather in different places to hear it. We relax to Podhopper's Relaxation Session of new age and calming music. Fil always gets us going with his live guitar of Pop and Rock&Roll. Eternal Seeker's Country Evening of Country and Bluegrass tunes finds us outdoors around a campfire, sharing spirits and cookies as well as a game of firemarbles. Radio Free D'ni brings to the Cavern past Rock&Roll themes and well as commentaries and history of the groups they play. And there's Karaoke night in the Pub, where individuals share their wonderful and lovely voices to song." Robert smiled at Sky, who blushed beat red in response.

"And the common thread, though we may all have different tastes and preferences in music," managed Sky, through a blushing face, "is that we all love music, and the company of those that join in on the events. It's one of the best things about our community."

"That's right Sky," Robert said. "Our crafts and hobbies, we share with one another. They help relieve stress and relax. We find ourselves in awe of the expertise that many bring with them. One such wonky individual loves to bake different, delicious cookies and share them at our events. However, she is an animator and teacher. Each month she holds a session to show us how she draws characters for various themes. Sky, here, is a professional chef. She has shown us how to make many wonderful dishes and uses fresh herbs and vegetables from her own garden. Every week, we have a Story Night, where we hear about the past histories of the kings, people, and culture of the D'ni. These lectures come from a love of study of D'ni history."

Kura'quen looked interested at the mention of history lectures, but kept her mouth tight, as she didn't want to interupt.

Robert continued, "Ah, how we love to have fun together. Games are yet one more thing that brings our diverse community together. I already mentioned the fire marble game at Seeker's Country evening. It may or may night include the imbibing of spirits. We definitely imbibe in various spirits on poker nights at the pub. Marker games have been developed for our KI's to help us explore the Cavern and other Ages, as well as produce friendly competitions among fellow explorers."

Robert's voice grew impassioned. "We have something the we call door runs that usually need the help of several people pressing cloths to open a door for new explorers to enter a cave to retrieve a trophy for their accomplishment. In our hoods, or neighborhoods, there are occasionally races involving a beachball we fondly nicknamed 'Eddie'. Of course, the thrill of exploring new ages and solving the puzzles found in them is a common bond with our community of explorers."

He smiled, fondly, voice lowering in quiet reverence. "Lastly, we come together to share memories of those who passed away at memorials and events. All of what we have shared with you is what makes up our community. I would like to have our group share with you a recent addition to our community that represents how we come together and help each other. Dr. Lavisham and Dr. Tiernan have had the most interaction with him and will relate the background of events."

After such an impassioned speach, everyone was quite silent for a few long moments. The only noise being from Tiernan as he smiled and continued to make his notes, taking down everything Robert and Sky had said into his journal. A quiet scritch-scratch of ink against paper.

Robert sat down and whispered, "Well old boy, you just heard my first D'ni lecture. I haven't done this in a while. Do you still want me to come give a guest lecture to your class?"

"You kidding? My institution'll be offering you a lecturing post with tenure if they hear you in action like that," muttered Jules, clearly impressed as he stood to his feet. "Dr. Murry speaks of a young gentleman by the name of Benavud, who I and my associate Edward encountered several months prior in the Great Library of D'ni. He was injured and not in the best of ways, but thanks to a speedy response along with dutiful medical attention from Dr. Quinlan here, he soon found himself back on his feet. What presented something of a mystery was the fact of his identity. Aside from his own name he could not initially recall any detail of his own life, where he had come from, how he came to D'ni - he knew nothing apart from the vaguest notions of who he was."

Kelsei frowned slightly as Jules talked about Ben.

Jules continued, "As I'm sure you can understand, such a happenstance caused Ben a great deal of distress, but with it a burning desire to uncover the answer to these questions. In response, our community stepped up to provide whatever support and assistance he needed. We aided in his recovery to bring him back to full health, we welcomed him as one of our own to the social events that mark a mainstay of life in the Cavern. And we accompanied him on his travels through the different D'ni ages that we have access to in an attempt to retrace his steps and reveal to him the knowledge that he sought."

Calum closed his eyes, clearly lost in thought.

Jules smiled. "In doing so, I feel this shows the people of the Cavern at their very best. As Robert correctly says, we are people from many cultures and backgrounds, bought together as a community. And underpinning that community is, I feel, one of the deepest threads of shared empathy and compassion that it has been my utmost privilege to know. We are a people motivated by a desire to understand, to know more about the world and how those within it live and have lived. But we are also driven by the urge to help, to right wrongs, to seek a just outcome and to provide whatever aid and comfort that we are capable of giving to those who need it."

Kura'quen smiled, looking over at her fellows.

"I truly believe that our presence in the Cavern has been one that has enriched the lives of all those who have come to know us - in shared experiences, in knowledge, and in friendship. I hope that, on the basis of what you've heard from us all today, we will continue to do so with yourselves and your world." Jules then assumed his seat once more.

Sky covertly gave Jules a thumbs up for the magnificent speech. Jules smiled at Sky, keeping a grip on a slightly trembling wrist. His words had clearly taken a bit out of him.

Having heard all of this, with even the quiet whispers of Jae'dhar translating for Haru'sara falling silent, the Rei'schu diplomats look to eachother and hold a quick discussion with eachother in their own tongue.

Runa'mei chimed in at one point, and everyone heard the name "Carl Palmner" come up in what she said, or, atleast, what sounds like Carl's name, at any rate. The others look at her in surprise at that, and Kura'quen inquired something that has Runa'mei smiling and faintly blushing, followed by a resounding nod.

Kelsei seemed to be able to keep mostly along with what they're saying, and she whisper-explained, "They're debating about the Ben situation."

Haru'sara shakes his head dismissively about something. Amara'da reached over and slapped his stupid coral-crystal crown off of his head. He seems admonished, frowning, and sounds a bit more... respectful with what he says next.

"Could go for another belt if there's anymore going, Rob" Jules whispered.

Robert whispered to Jules, "You seemed to have invoked quite the reaction. I keep hearing Carl Palmer's name."

As if in mention to that, Runa'mei looked to Calum and asked, "Can you describe the Bahro to me, briefly?"

"The bahro? What about them?" Robert asked concerned.

Calum nodded, and spoke gently, "The Bahro, as far as we can tell, are a race of people who have their own abilities relating to the Art of Age Writing. We don't know how, or why, but at some point someone in D'ni's history got them enslaved under the power of a tablet. Some D'ni have tried for it over the centuries, some seeking to free them, others seeking to abuse them- all failing. But finally it was a human man who found the Tablet, and released the Bahro with it. They've been fairly quiet neighbors ever since, beyond one frightful moment about a decade ago."

"And Ben's asking about them?" Runa'mei asked, in a way she already knew the answer for- it was more for show for the others.

"Yes," Calum nodded. "Ben is, genetically speaking, a D'ni descendant- we believe a child of a survivor of the Fall. But given his amnesia... this was distressing news to him, as far as he could piece together, he knew more about the surface in terms of instinctual memories than he did about D'ni's history, implying he was raised there."

Runa'mei nodded, and looked towards the Priestesses. Cas'ka nodded, "Thank you, Traveler." She then looked to Karin'da and remarked something that sounds concerned.

Karin'da waved her hand dismissively, and said something that mentions Carl's name again.

Cas'ka repeated her statement, a bit more forcefully this time.

Karin'da repeated her statement, a bit more forcefully than Cas'ka.

Both narrowed their eyes at eachother. Sha'ri interjected something before either can come to blows. Both priestesses look her way, and Sha'ri said something further, sounding impassioned about it. She went on for a few moments, clearly getting herself worked up over it, but whatever she was saying seemed to be resonating well with the others. Karin'da and Cas'ka's looks softened as a result.

Kelsei whistled softly, and Runa'mei seemed impressed. "I only understood about a half of what Sha'ri just said, but what I got sounded good," Kelsei whispered.

"Thanks Kelsei," Robert said, then muttered in hushed tones to Jules and Sky, "I'm getting one of those uneasy feelings. They seem really concerned about something."

Eresh wondered why Ben and Carl provoke such a reaction. Jules nodded wordlessly, feeling a knot of tension build in his stomach.
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Re: Rei'schu Ambassadorial Mission - Novelized Transcripts.

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The other Rei'schu diplomats consider Sha'ri's words, and Rein'da finally speaks something- tone considering, wavering for a moment, before solidifying. He looks to his brother and says something that has Hotou'runa rolling his eyes, but nodding along, and clearly agreeing.

The others echo their agreements, one by one nodding until it seems a consensus is being reached...

And then Haru'sara remarks something gruffly that has everyone narrowed their eyes at him sharply, and, as if the tipping point has been reached, has Jae'dhar grabbing his stupid crown and hurling it out the window.

"Feels like my Phd Viva all over again," said Jules before shooting bolt upright at the unexpected defenestration. "... or not, as the case may be."

A distant clang can be heard, along with someone shouting in outrage and surprise. Jae'dhar doesn't flinch, and she snapped something sharply at her own town mayor.

Haru'sara wilts into his chair, pouting.

"Sounds like Crab King is in trouble for more then just the crab," Robert deduced.

Nara'nen said something utterly sarcastic, and then, for the benefit of the audience, clarified, "You have no idea, Murry. Jae'dhar's just challenged him for the right of ruling Sara'fund."

"Can she do that that?" Kelsei asked.

Nara'nen just shrugged, "Beats me."

Eresh asked, "What did he do to provoke that? The crab incident, or is there more?"

"He..." Nara'nen trailed off. "Let's just say this has been building up for a long while."

Amara'da finally said something, and stood. She held out a hand, and Runa'mei handed over a pair of knives. Amara'da then handed one to Jae'dhar, and one to Haru'sara, and then, for everyone, announced, "Follow me."

Tenny frowned and absently chewed on the end of his stylus.

Sky looked worriedly at Kelsei. "Do we have to?" she whispers. Kelsei nodded.

The group as a whole follows Amara'da down the hallways, and Runa'mei fills the group in. "Haru'sara's refusing to agree to a vote at all on whether we proceed or not, to not hold a vote is..." She grimaces.

Eresh mused, "I think the wisest course of action is to stay out of this. It seems an internal dispute which we do not fully understand."

Tenny made further notes and trailed along with Eresh and the others.

"Let me guess, he flat out doesn't want to even give a yes or no?" Calum asked.

"Essentially," Runa'mei nodded, frowning. "It's a bit more than that, though."

"I believe we're about to witness a custom of theirs. I'm not sure it's going to be a good one," Robert said. "If any of you wants to stay behind, we'll understand."

"What provoked this issue to come to the surface now?" Eresh asked. "Does it somehow have to do with Ben?"

"I'm not sure." Robert answered.

"Hmm." Tenny frowned.

Sky opts to follow the group, but trailed significantly behind the others.

"I will watch if appropriate, though I will interfere unless asked," Eresh said.

Runa'mei grimaced, and doesn't say much else beyond, "We'll say more once this finishes."

"Very well." Eresh nodded.

Jules followed with the others, his mind shifting gears in an attempt to keep up with recent events.

The group arrived at a small, ritualistic arena type area. There was a large wall towering above the area, upon which a large stone mural resides. It depicts the goddess Chezahcen, holding forth a book in her hands- wings spread outwards, hair rippling behind her.

Amara'da directed Jae'dhar and Hotou'runa to the center of the arena.

Runa'mei said, "Everyone else, find a seat."

Amara'da shouted something, and Runa'mei translated.

"For insulting the rules of the Goddess Chezahcen for refusing to work together with his fellow Diplomats to hold a vote on how to proceed- for the seventh time in a row, I might add- Priestess Jae'dhar challenges Mayor Haru'sara for the right of ruling the town of Sara'fund, and disposing of Mayor Haru'sara from his role."

There's a pause, as those words sink in amongst everyone.

Jules gritted his teeth. He had a feeling that the manner of disposing they had in mind was the kind that did not allow for both of them to walk away.

"Further more," Amara'da/Runa'mei continued. "The former Mayor is charged with crimes of instigating an attack on the diplomatic venue, forcing an intervention by Chezahcen's Champion."

"Oh my goodness, the crab..." Sky whispered under her breath.

How does Haru'sara plead? He laughs, triumphantly. Runa'mei just about facepalmed. The other locals all grimaced in annoyance.

"He pleads guilty on all charges," Runa'mei translated. "He's not even denying it. What the hell?"

Tiernan frowned and set his tablet down. He shifted his backpack down to the floor next to him. Jules glared daggers at Haru'sara, a once-forgotten anger welling up inside him.

Amara'da nodded. Runa'mei translating what follows, "Very well then. The duel is as declared by Chezahcen's rules." Amara'da dug into a box, and retrieves two crystal-feather bound crowns. She walked over to each participant and handed the crowns over. "A duel to preserve ones integrity under the right of Chezahcen's rules."

Then, Amara'da took her position at the 'referee's box'. "The first one to destroy the crystal crown of their opponent wins the duel, and the right to Mayorship." Amara'da declared/Runa'mei translated.

The Mayor and the Priestess take ready stances, holding their borrowed knives in mirroring aggressive stances.

Robert scowled at the proceedings. Even though this has been building up before they got here, he was concerned that their negotiations had led to this climax amongst the leaders. Robert decided then: "Nobody interfer, no matter how angry we get. Understood?"

"Definitely." Eresh agreed.

"Aye," Tenny said quietly.

Jules nodded wordlessly, his eyes focused on the combatants's respective techniques.

The Priestess shifted her stance, subtly taking on something a bit more fluid looking in response to the Mayor's stance.

Haru'sara seems surprised by that- as if he weren't expecting it.

Amara'da shouted what can only be the "BEGIN!" command, and the two launched at eachother.

Haru'sara goes in for a swinging upwards swipe, over telegraphing his stance entirely-- Jae'dhar twisted like a river, dodging it easily, and shifted her knife to a backhanded grip.


Haru'sara stumbles as he realizes he overshot, and quickly moves to turn around--

Jae'dhar lashed out with a kick, knocking the knife out of the Mayor's hand, and then she swung out with a backhanded strike that shattered the crystal feathers atop Haru'sara's head.

It's over that quickly. Crystal fragments tinkled as they crashed against the ground, and Haru'sara seems to quiver in fear for a moment as he looks at the Priestess, framed with Chezahcen's mural behind her.

It had been noted previously how similar the Priestesses look to eachother. How similar they looked to the depictions of the goddess they serve...

In this moment, however... it goes beyond 'similarities'. Jae'dhar's hair seemingly ripples out behind her, larger in scale than it had been a few moments before. Her eyes seem to glow with outrage.

And then the moment passed, and Jae'dhar is as she was before- normal... but seemingly more at ease than she was before.

Haru'sara falls flat onto his rear end as the Priestess-now-Mayor loosened her stance.

Amara'da nodded once in acceptance. "Jae'dhar." She said, needing no other words to indicate the winner she sees before her.

Haru'sara just sits there, confounded, and maybe just a bit in terrified awe.

Tiernan's eyes were still narrowed, but he relaxed just a bit.

Jules blinked. "Bloody hell," he breathed out.

Jae'dhar collected Runa'mei's other knife, and walked away from the arena. She returns the knives to Runa'mei, and the two nod to eachother in understanding. Then, Jae'dhar looked to her fellow Priestesses and Mayors, and says, "We vote."

The others nod, and talk amongst themselves for a moment. Then, they all raise hands.

"Congratulations," Karin'da said, turning towards the explorers. "We have voted to continue pursuing diplomatic ties with your people. While we have concerns over the... 'Bahro' you've mentioned, we do not believe they will be a problem for us at the present moment."

Runa'mei almost collapsed to the floor in relief- spared only by Kelsei catching her.

"I was afraid that was to the death. Seen it a couple of times in other cultures. Never pretty," Robert breathed a sigh of relief.

Tenny nods to Robert.

"The Goddess has specific rules for interpersonal challenges," Cas'ka says to Robert. "One cannot learn from their mistakes if they are dead." She glances over to the arena, where Haru'sara continues to look upwards at the mural in... not quite reverence? "That one has much to learn from."

Robert said, "That's wonderful news, though we never intended to cause any strife with your leaders."

"Your duelling customs are wiser than some of our ancestors'." Eresh observed. "What were Haru'sara's objections? Did he give a reason for refusing to vote?"

The Priestesses all look at eachother for a moment. The Mayors just look exhausted even thinking of it.

Finally, Sha'ri remarks, "He wanted your music for himself."

"All of it?" Calum asked.

"...that's it? I would have gladly given him any number of copies to keep!" Eresh exclaims.

"All of it, and none to share with the others." Sha'ri confirms.

"His own... 'personal' collection,' Nara'nen rolled her eyes. "That is to say, 'keep it away from everyone else so nobody can have any of it ever.'"

Calum facepalmed. Tiernan blinked. Robert suppresses a laugh. Then he can't help himself and starts laughing in relief.

The relief filled laughter is almost contageous, and the remaining Mayors all laugh as well. And as if a switch had been flipped inside of Jules, he launches into a sudden hoot of unrestrained hilarity.

"That is indeed an odd understanding of music," Eresh said. "Music by definition is to be shared, sung, copied... on our world, there are religious groups who forbid music, but even they do not succeed in stopping the sharing of it. "

"Of all the... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just..." Jules attempts before doubling up once more, tears rolling down his face.

"It is completely against our culture as well," Kura'quen said.

"I'm glad it was that, though. I was afraid of much worse things," Eresh said.

"Music is meant to be shared, not hoarded," Jae'dhar said, shaking her head.

"But if by refusing to vote he broke off negotiations, he would no longer have any Earth music..." Eresh realized the paradox of what Haru'sara had been requesting.

"Welcome to my every day life for the last three years," Jae'dhar remarked. "Self sabbotaging demands that make no sense at all," She shook her head. "My first order of business is moving our town off of that damned beach, once we I get back."

Eresh turned to other explorers. "Can we make Haru'sara a special gift of an old ipod or something, loaded with pop songs, with an attached solar cell? We could bring it on a next visit. Music is meant to be shared; and if it means so much to him he's willing to fight and lose over it, I would like him to have a music library. The solar cell will keep it charged."

"That's a great idea, Eresh." Robert said.

"I don't see why not," Calum remarked, looking to the Priestesses and Mayors, "Unless you all disagree?"

"No," Karin'da shook her head. "No disagreement, if anything it may keep him from causing us more trouble down the line."

"We'll have to test and see if solar batteries work here or not," Calum said. "If not, I'm sure we could rig something up with a crystal..."

Tenny resumed his notating with his tablet and stylus, thoughtfully.

"Solar cells work on visible light; they should be okay here." Eresh considered. "The crystal might make the charge last longer, though."

"Jules, I don't know about you, but I could use a drink." Robert said.

Eresh agreed, "Yes, and not tea, either."

Tenny chuckled softly.

"Rob, I could use all of the drinks." Jules said.

"What will become of him?" Asked Sky, to the entire party. "Or to any deposed Mayor, for that matter. Will Haru'sara just go back to living a normal daily life? Will he continue to aid the new Mayor?" Sky looks acknowledgingly to Jae'dhar.

"We haven't had a case where we've needed to depose a Mayor in a very long time." Jae'dhar looked over at the man. "In the end, I'm not sure. He was an expert fisherman before becoming Mayor... Perhaps he will take that up again."

As she said this, Haru'sara gets up from the ground, and makes his way for an exit. He seems... frankly, far more happy than he should be given the situation. He seems to be humming a 'ra ra rasputin' to himself as he leaves, sparing a look at nobody as he heads out.

"As for judgements," Amara'da said, "I don't believe Chezahcen will let her eyes off of him for some time, after that spectacle."

"Perhaps he'll be happier, freed from his responsibility as Mayor." Eresh supposed.

Jules thought, "Politics has a habit of doing that to a person."

Robert stood, and in deadpan fashion asked,"Madam Mayor, do you have a pub?"

Jae'dhar looks to Robert, and smiled, "Yes, I believe there's a small pub here in the academy somewhere."

Cas'ka grimaced. "It's under renovation. Runaway crystal growth reaction from a student who did something similar to our wayward Traveler here."

Calum chuckled nervously, scratching at the back of his head. Kelsei eyed him in a "I know what she's talking about" way, and mouthed "Payiferen" at him.

"That said," Amara'da said, "I'll ask the kitchen to bring us up several drinks with the crab our not-so-pleasant friend provided us."

Runa'mei, still leaning against Kelsei for support, just said, "I'll pass on the crab if you don't mind."

"That would be wonderful, General. Thank you kindly." Jules smiled. "Heh, sounds like one of the things my first years get up to during Freshers Week. Some things you truly find everywhere in the universe."

While the others chuckled at that...

"Dibs on that place when it opens up again," Jules said to Robert, in a whisper.

"You got it," Robert whispered back. Then to Armara'da, he asked "Would mind asking them for several glasses? I have one last gift for all of you." Robert grinned at Jules.

Amara'da nodded. "Of course!"

And so, the group headed back up to the meeting room to have a fine post diplomacy meal of crab and other local delicacies... with only Kelsei and Runa'mei hanging back to peer back at Chezahcen's mural.

"Funny," Kelsei said, "it looks just like the one in the Cathedral. Right down to the book, even."

"Not surprised there," Runa'mei mused, finally getting her strength back to her legs and standing a bit straighter. "There's a bunch of these murals all over the place. All the same..." She stepped away from Kelsei for a moment, locking eyes with the mural of Chezahcen. "She says she watches us through them. There's probably something to that."

"Makes me wonder, alright," Kelsei mused.

Runa'mei turned back to face Kelsei, and the two stared at eachother for a long moment.

"Well, we should probably catch up before they send someone to look for us," Kelsei finally said.

"Yep," Runa'mei nodded.

And thus, they ran off to catch up with the others.
Calum Traveler - KI# 34810
-Traveler's Cavern Log-
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