A meeting in a strange library in a far flung shadow...
A meeting in a strange library in a far flung shadow…
Location: The Great Library of Songspire
Date: August 8th, 14 (OOC Year 2017)
Summary: Answering a note sent to him by Veronica, Iolion goes to Songspire where they chat via sign language about a coffee drink she discovered there and her newly developed ability to travel to libraries in distant shadows.
Characters: Iolion and Veronica
NPCs: a server in the café in the library, the singers who perform the works of the library

Her invitation to him was literary, as befits two librarians: Polly was sent to deliver to Iolion a copy of a book from the now-lost Shadow Earth, with a bookmark on e.e. cummings' pity this busy monster manunkind. The bookmark itself was marked with ink, an arrow pointing to a specific part:

listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

Being a literary soul, he didn't need to have the message spelled out: "come find me in Shadow, Lord of Amber, I have much to show you" would've taken more words and been far less elegant.

Oh, he could've just Trumped her, of course. But where's the fun in that? She has something in mind, and he has better taste than to spoil her playfulness: so off he goes, walking the Shadowpaths along the Golden Circle, outwards, the Shadows becoming more flexible as he hikes. It's over an hour until he can get far enough from Amber to really get his fingers tangled up in Shadowstuff, but once there, it's only a few minutes. Erase one detail, add another, until he's walking through one library after another trusting that a specific detail named Veronica will cross his path.

He's far past Jade and the libraries that are warehouses of scrolls looked over by bureaucratic scholars, past Alhambra and the carefully-calligraphed collections of rarities. You have to go quite a far distance, more than halfway to Chaos, before one reaches the Shadow of Songspire, where the metaphysical weight of an idea is inversely related to how difficult it is to write down, where paper is only used for grocery lists and gambling debts. The Library of Songspire uses paper only for bureaucracy.

The books of Songspire are all performed by chorus: each singer reciting a different idea, and each idea influenced by that idea taking the original melody and becoming a riff on it. The 'library' is in essence an auditorium, where the 'shelves' are raised daises upon which choir-robed 'books' recite their profound truths for the edification of those in pursuit of knowledge. It's a beautiful cacophany of music by thousands of composers, until the whole of the knowledge of Songspire is a single piece of art performed by an immense cast. Those who seek knowledge walk the 'stacks' between daises to pay close attention to the intricate notes, while high above the library a balcony contains a rather nice coffeeshop where orders are written down on paper, silently, so as to not interrupt what goes on downstairs.

She's waiting for him here, in the coffeeshop above the Great Library of Songspire; and as he enters, he's looking around at the place, more than a little bit mystified by the wondrous diversity of Shadow.

Sitting alone at a table in what can be mistaken as a coffee shop, Veronica is drinking klava, the most popular coffee-based beverage in Songspire, and listening to the threads of knowledge being sung though the maze of sound-shaping walls that are the equivalent of the 'stacks' in a more traditional library. She's not watching a specific entry for her great uncle to arrive but shortly after he enters the library she notices him and quietly waves to a server, to whom she gives a written order for a mug of klava for Iolion, before she waves to get his attention as well.

Iolion accepts the mug of klava with a grateful nod, but he says nothing — he doesn't wish to interrupt the performance, nor those in the shop who are enjoying the recitation of the collected wisdom of the world. He walks over towards Veronica's table where he takes a seat, sets down his mug, and tries to write a note of greeting to her. Tries to, at least — fails, because that's not how the written word works in this Shadow. Ultimately he's reduced to writing a greeting as personal and meaningful as something on a Hallmark card, and saying the rest of his greeting in a smile that's warm, intimate, and clearly pleased to see her.

Klava is produced by brewing coffee and then letting it cool to room temperature. It is then put through a filter of eggshells, woodchips (in this case cedar), and vanilla beans after which it is reheated to almost boiling and then pouring through a cloth to remove oils and detritus from the filtering process. The resulting beverage is much smoother and less bitter than coffee. The mug given to Iolion, as it often is, has cream and honey added to it.

She smiles at the attempt to write and responds by holding her hand up and waggling her fingers and making a questioning expression. She then immediately starts signing to him without waiting for him to confirm he knows how, counting on their shared Chantris heritage to convey her meaning to him.

«Hope you enjoy the drink,» she signs one handed even as she sips from her own mug. She then briefly explains how the drink is in sign made before adding, «I had them show me how it is made,» with an excited smile.

«Very it smooth.» Clearly he's just arrived, because his signing is nothing short of atrocious. Then again, he's been exposed to it for less than three minutes, so perhaps it's forgivable — if painful. «Taste orchid-seed bee-vomit. How you find?» There's an entirely different language in his eyes, though: animated, alive, clearly pleased to be invited here. «Regretted much bad-signing. Will got better rightly-now, promise.»

Editor's Note: Iolion OOCly said, "Orchid-seed = vanilla, literally, orchid seedpods. Bee-vomit = honey, etc. :)"

Unable to help herself, Veronica laughs out loud. The sound carries but actually doesn't interfere with the collective intonation of data from below, mostly because she stifles it quickly which is accompanied by a blush and what looks like her rubbing her fist at her dĂ©colletage («Sorry» in the signing language) as she apologizes for laughing at his signing. «It is alright,» she signs and then adds, «I bet this would be a hit at court, what do you think?»

Iolion gives his erring fingers a death-glare, and his facial expression is sharpened by this Shadow's rules until it's as clear as a bell: «I know men with cleavers who would pay me money for the privilege of removing you now cut it out!»

He sighs at himself, then looks over towards her. «You are so beautiful.» Simple, understated, with the solemnity of truth, and so devoid of artifice it's clear he hasn't yet realized he needs to up the game of his poker face lest his feelings become brutally clear from second to second. Perhaps there's a reason Songspire is rarely-visited: communication is so much harder, except for when it's inadvertently so much easier.

His hands come up, beginning to sign again — in slightly improved Songsign. «Depends on which Court. Day-ball Court? Love. Night-fire Court? Mezzo. If you make Day-ball of this, invite me as your date?»

This is met with laughter again, this time unvoiced. «I meant the klava, not the place,» she signs with a smile. «But the place is intriguing also is it not? I started in the library at Chantris and kept moving to another one until I found this place,» she explains, subtly introducing the idea that she can travel though shadows on her own.

«Oh!» his face reveals in the corner of his eyes, along with his sheepishness at his misunderstanding. «Sorry,» his hands signal. «Yes, the …» Here comes something which is meant to be honey-vanilla-coffee, but comes out as an obscure four-stringed zither played by a pale yellow daydream, «-flavored drink? I'd love it were it introduced. If it tastes as good there as it does here.» (And, in his face: «I remember what your kiss tasted like, you know.»)

There's a moment of pause, followed by a hurried - «Wait, is it … uh … how expressive …» The signs come quickly as he looks around, and the look of horror on his face as he sees just /how much/ of the conversations around him are taking place entirely through body language requires no translation at all:


He quickly buries his head in his hands.

Mirroring the micro expression seen moments ago when Iolion called her beautiful, Veronica's smile is accompanied with a rise of her shoulder and what would be a coyish tilt to her head if it weren't so sincere. «Is it what?» she asks.

«Moving on!» he signs without looking up. When he does, his well-practiced smile is back — although now he's managing to not blurt out his inner thoughts to her. «I'm sorry,» he signs and emotes simultaneously, soulfully. «You deserve more class than that.» Then, purely signed: «Moving Shadow through? Library to next?»

Veronica's face lights up with a grin and she simply nods. She then finishes her mug of klava and signs, «It's a trick I finally figured out from my time away. Turns out I was doing it but didn't know how until now.»

«Useful! What's required for you to trav a libraryway?» His body language, still tightly controlled, seems genuinely pleased at this. «I did not relish the thought of you getting lost againgain. Am being happy having your Trump as insurance against possibility of losing you.» (In the placidity of his eyes, «It's unfair to even think of losing you before really knowing you.»)

«I must become almost lost in the depths of a magical library and then I can find myself in another magical library and then another again after similar circumstances,» Veronica's finger's, hand and arm motions explain. «Also,» she adds softening the potential harshness with a smile, «In order to lose me I'd need to be your's first. But I don't plan to be long absent from your life if that helps?»

He pauses the discussion to enjoy a few long sips of klavah from his mug, getting lost in the goodness before setting it aside to return to the conversation. «I stake no claim on you, Veronica. You know that. But if you were to vanish, yes, I'd lose quite a lot. We are not a couple; we are not» (is that doubt? Peering at his own reflection in the mirror of self and doubting his honesty with himself?) « Unicorn damn it, it's not fair to have this conversation here. No, not your fault, nor mine.» He puts away the anger, bottles it up, puts it on the shelf. Self-contempt will keep. It always does. «So which libraries do you know? Which ones are you looking to learn?»

Smiling at how well he understands her, Veronica nods and signs, «I was particularly curious if there might be a library in…» she pauses a moment then continues… «The Place of Many Markets,» obviously having had problems translating The Souk into the local sign language.

«The City of Ten Thousand Parties!» He's clearly pleased by the reference. «There must be, but I'm not sure about magical. Recently I found there exists something in that world which hates and hunts magic, so … a magical library might exist, but it would be well-hidden. But you am I willing effort make finding one.» His grammatical stumble at the end is likely a sign of his pleased surprise. «And ought I let my estate know to expect you? How would you like to be received, if so?»

«Magic comes in many forms, Iolion,» Veronica signs with a smile. «And so you may find it easier to find one than you think. Perhaps we should look for something that would fit together sometime. And it would be a good idea for them to know I might arrive, but I am unclear my Place still.»

«That's the thing about Places. They're identities. Who says you have to be Veronica there? There, I am Faris al-Farik. An assumed identity? Perhaps. Or perhaps it's an assumed one with much truth to it. But I could also be Iolion of Amber, if I wished. I cautioned you to be careful lest Veronica of Amber be Placed. But who's to say you couldn't be someone else?»

Editor's Note: Scene faded here as the hour was late.

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