Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies.
On the road, wrapped up in a Strange Mood full of wonder, people finally start to track down the absent, distracted Estelle, to try and figure out what's going on with her.
... Estelle's had trouble with anything but, of late. The pull to travel, to learn, to teach, they've possessed her utterly. Half an ear has been paid to her chimlink, with rare moments of response - and every one of them distracted. It's left her as she is now; her usually well-cared for hair and tails a bit mussed, her dress a mess, and her papers scattered like they'd been caught in a storm around her. For all that they're weighed down with rocks at their corners, and there's a spread of paper in front of her.
Star charts, arrays for lots, the sketch of astronomical math to plot courses through the heavens... scraps of predictions, timelines of events... All of it seemingly disorganized, spread out in whimsical arrangements that, if you squint, only resolve into a rough star chart of its own with long examination, spread out on the roughly-flat section fo rock that the vixen has claimed for the day.
With a long, low hum, she reaches out to grab up a clattering bag from one of the lot arrays, giving it a shake to scatter runes carved - roughly, in both the shape of the stone pieces and in the etchings - along her current paper, curious silver eyes studying how they've fallen across the chart of the heavens in front of her.
... and she asked her. Repeatedly. Until she was able to piece it together, bit by bit.
"Erf," squeaks Jazz as she wobbles with the heavy pack she brought with her. The pack is big and she is ... not. Finally, she has laid eyes on her.
In a sharp contrast with Estelle, her fastidious attention to detail would be more in character for a certain Baroness rather than Uta herstelf, and yet, here we are. Her hair is kept in orderly place with a bow, her gown picked with the utmost care, is chosen specifically for the occasion: a midnight blue affair with astronomically accurate constellations drawn in a sequin pattern, and -- are those nails covered in polish?
"Estelle! It is such a pleasure to see you again!", she exclaims, lifting her skirt and rushing her pace. Her intonation that hints at a pleasant surprise, but the maniacal care with which she seems to have prepared for this encounter with this specific person, and especially how oddly specific her choice of attire seems for the moment, including how inappropriately elegant those shoes seem to be for this terrain, hints at this not being much of a surprise at all.
"We haven't been in touch in such a long time, and I had started wondering what had befallen you," the Spriggan begins, with an appropriately polite bow. "How have you been?"
Her words come out roughly at the same time as when Jazz appears, coming from a different direction.
It's a long moment before she realizes she should be /responding/, and not just taking note of things.
"... Oh, right. Yes. Hello, you two. The omens are good, so it is a good day. Good for new beginnings, for growth." She looks over to another chart, and then shakes her head before looking to the duo. Her gaze just flicks along them, briefly, only lingering just a little longer on the Spriggan and her outfit. "... Unless it's surgery, I think. Not good to perform that now."
"... But! That's a nice dress, Uta. Good attention to detail." She turns back to her papers, tail swishing as she considers the lay of stars and runes. "What brings you by?" Her tails swish behind her, brushing along the rock and the pebbles piled near at hand - obviously her supply for weighing things down, and for making rough representations and estimations of various symbols in between the spread papers.
Her greeting is polite, but, very out of character for the Spriggan, she doesn't spend more time than necessary on the Undine. No, her focus is directed specifically at the Fox of the Heavens, to whom she turns immediately after. "I need to converse with you on a matter of momentous importance." Her back is held straight up, hands kept crossed demurely in front of her. "I will get straight to the point. I am working on an institute meant to study, preserve, and advance the musical culture of Yamato, the Songs of Lore in particular. Would you happen to recall that unusual composition you once experienced while stranded on the Green Moon? How it affected the environment around it? How it originated? I was hoping we could somehow join forces, at some point, and devise a manner to piece more details together on that specific event. Cas in point, I happen to have recently acquired the means to obtain additional information on items and creatures on sight, and access description of events normally veiled from the eyes of the common iman. Your cooperation in this endeavour would be, as some would put it, appreciated beyond- wait."
Uta seems to realize the oddity of Estelle's state, and as an in response to an instinct, she swipes her menu open with the slightetst hint of a frown, and swipes through sub-menus until she selects the option for a medical inspection. "Mind if I perform a quick check-up? It won't hurt, I am literally going to just touch you for inspection purposes," she states, calm, finger held in a non-theratening manner, at a non-threatening distance from the Fox.
Her amber eyes then turn on Estelle. She has the faint inclination she knows what's happening here and all she manages to do is stammer out, "I... I was worried."
Honestly, she has no idea how well she does with it.
Still, as the attempt is made, her left hand sets into the Spriggan's outstretched one. She doesn't see a problem with a quick check-up, and she only needs her right to continue scribbling her notes and ideas down, passing the time with contemplation before she can see the stars once more.
... Though Jazz's voiced concern does get a silver-eyed glance her way again, alongside a smile. And, when her memory of the song has run its course, a simple "I'm fine, I'm fine... Just... busy. I feel like I'm on the cusp of something, and there's this... sensation, deep in here," her hand comes up, quill staining ink on her dress as its feather tickles a shoulder, to rest over her heart, "that reminds me of my first time staring up at the stars. They're calling me."
Uta stares with a terrifying amount of focus, something not seen outside her previous strange mood or a very few selected moment. And as the music proceeds, Uta has another flashbulb moment. Her eyes pop open all the way. "What if..." she mouths, without speaking, lest the recording be disturbed, and then her eyelids narrow again, this time down to slits.
She tries to focus on the melody she's hearing, and use her innate Loremaster power on that one. Up to now she's only used it on physical entities like Landers, monsters, or objects. But what if... can one... can one innate-Loremaster a -song one's hearing-? Well, if there is a time to test this theory, this is it. She focuses, and attempts to glean information from the melody.
... but she has her own focus right now, and as Jazz just watches the two of them, as the silence settles in the wake of the song, she turns hers back to her work. Trying to narrow down some of her ideas, winnow the wording and the sensibility of them with all of her tools as she puzzles out the metaphysical orbit of the moons.
"... Hm. Have you been seeking guidance in anything, of late? I'd like to try some of my revised methodologies, and I do have what should be accurate charts of the stars and moons to try them." Her head tilts one way, and then back the other. "Or any experience in Divination yourself, to look them over with your insights?"
"Where on this world could one learn more of the 47th Song...?"
Three lots scatter across the papers in front of her, skittering across her star charts and onto map of Yamato she'd been using to chart her course. She blinks at the jumbled pile they landed in. Leans one way, then the other... then back, her head turning upwards. "... Hrm. /Not/ on this world, then? Perhaps back to the Moons, or somewhere else in Orbit...?"
When Estelle starts speaking again, Uta snaps, once again, to attention, especially when Estelle mentions songs, and the Spriggan resumes a conscious attempt at mantaining posture.
"I may not be a Diviner, but I believe I can help you test things alright. My recently acquired power allows me to write down pretty accurate accounts of events-"
Uta freezes, her finger held up. She furrows her brow, as her jaw drops a little. "...Uh. I've never thought about it, but..." She rubs her chin with her thumb and index. "Divination. My power can provide an objective report of events. I've only used it for past events, but... can my power be used to glean information about -future- events as well? Hm. I should try that at some point."
The thought of the Conservatory leads to the thought of Songs, and those lead to Uta looking far away at the Green Moon. "Sounds like your methods work. The Song is, after all, mainly associated with the Green Moon, isn't it?" There is a moment of silence as Uta stands, eyes fixed on the distant satellite. "I am so tempted to try and focus my power on the Green Moon right now," she mumbles, "but last time I overstrained my power it was... not fun." A shiver runs down her back while she subconsciously hugs herself. She shakes this feeling with an unpleasant shudder, and a flick of her wings. "I should evaluate the exact reach of my power. But not right now. Soon."
Suddenly snapping to attention again, Uta faces Estelle. "Oh, speaking of Divination! There's a question that has been tormenting me of late. Prelude to Song. An event in the far past rumored to be the source of the 42 Songs. I have researched it in libraries, but found nothing, and I fear that's outside the reach of my Event-capturing power. Do you think you could help me learn where I can seek information about it?"
If so, no one's told her. But, then, she's been... occupied for awhile, lost in the Song of the Spheres, instead of one of the 47. Or more.
Still, the Spriggan keeps going on, and Estelle glances up as Uta practically pounces towards her. "... Hm. I might have questions for you later, when I'm not so busy... but. /You/ have more questions for /me/, and I do desire to test my methods." And that sounds like a good one to ask, to seek answers for. So she closes her eyes, breathes in deep, and sweeps the chips back into the bag. She's testing the effect of the Moons, after all, and so the lunar runestones are still what she'll use, for now, without the Stars visible.
And so they click and clatter across the papers again, landing amongst the charted stars for this time of year. Eyes half-lidded, the Astrologer studies their lay, uses the course of the heavens to decipher their meaning. And a shudder works through her, tails stilling from their constant motion as an image burns in her mind's eye.
"... Eastward bound, where a waterfall sounds. Surrounded by stone fingers, that's where knowledge lingers." A beat, and she shakes it off. "... by 'fingers' I mean pillars, of course. Somewhere in Eastal, I think, given the direction and where we are..."
"We have, indeed, discovered two more songs past number Forty-Two," Uta confirms. "We have found the Forty-Third and the Forty-Fourth. The Forty-Third came up while we were fighting an Elemental Machine, and we were trying to soothe the Chims. The Forty-Forth..." Uta shivers again. "Let's say that it has bad juju vibes. Come visit me at the Conservatory once it's done. I'm planning to set up an 'inner circle' of people with whom to share knowledge about Songs which we don't believe fit for public dissemination. If you would like to join us in our research, you'd be more than welcome." Uta considers her next move for a few moments before her amber eyes glance into the Silver of Estelle's. "You're one of the people I trust the most with this."
She doesn't linger on that for long, and segues into,"It seems like the 47th has unsettling vibes as well, given the reactions of the Landers when you sung a little snippet at the Church you respawned at, and Erufu repeated it." Uta begins her pacing again, oblivious, eyes on her hands that move about, as if miming out her thoughts.
Uta follows all of Estelle's movements. Uta follows the casting procedure with interest. The stones, the charts. They're all alien to Uta, but there is an aesthetic to the whole thing, an aesthetic Uta cannot deny. There is patterns, there is order, and just that hint of chaos that belies creativity. As if attuning with the Music of the Spheres Estelle has been enraptured by through the simulacrum of the chart, Uta begins to hum some hints of themes and melodies inspired by the chart and the relative position of the stones.
When Estelle reacts in such an unusual manner, and a response is given, the Musical Kung-Fu Nurse's jaw tightens.
"Eastal. My home kingdom. Yet -another- oddly fitting piece of symbolsm courtesy of the random character generator...", she mumbles, mostly to herself, but loud enough that Estelle can hear. A moment, then she shakes her head. "No, no, this time it might -just- be a coincidence. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar."
Uta blinks, becomes aware of her circumstances, makes a conscious effort to straighten her posture, formally keep her hands still, crossed in front of her, and raises her metaphorical antennas to pick up social clues. Negotiation Mode, engage. "By all means, if you have questions for me, feel free to ask. Later, or even now. You've helped me a lot, it's only fair I'd help you back."
She's silent for long moments, turning it all around in her head. The talk of more Songs, the intended work of the Conservatory... "I think I'd like that. Seeking things long lost is a traditional use of Divination, as is seeking guidance. I am willing to offer what I may in that, as always. Especially to those who trust me and my word." Too many doubt the value of her work, after all, and what it can provide. "And I will ask later. My questions don't involve the Heavens, but more earthly concerns. And I can only follow one call at a time." The lunacy of her work has gripped her tight, as she shuffles the chips of stone back into their bag, shaking it up a little before setting it aside.
"As to the rest... coincidence doesn't exist. Everything is connected. Synchronicity. Sympathy. 'As above, so below.' Such things are the heart of Divination." Her fingers spread along her charts, and the meaning encoded in them. "But it can be hard to find the true pattern in a world full of noise. In the Chaos of so many connections tugged this way and that. I'll see what I can do, in this case, to narrow it down... but it might take time. The stars are my preferred source, and these charts can only substitute so much in their place."
She can't fully test her ideas on the moons with them hidden beneath the horizon, after all, for all that the chips from the Green Moon resonate with it.
At the end, what's left is something more like the old Uta, only lost in some obsession.
She slumps to sit on the ground, with no concern for the expensive outfit she's got on. She just wraps her arms around her knees, face buried in the fabric between them, and begins to freewheel. "This is personal, Estelle. I thought I had randomized my whole character, but the more time I spend in this world, I can't shake the feeling that the Random Generator, or whatever Power is behind it, has given me this Avatar, this background, for a specific Purpose. With a capital P." She turns to Estelle, with the eyes of a scared kid. "My name, however... I didn't randomize that. 'Uta.' Song. It's my real life nickname. And somehow- this world has sent me on a quest for them." She balls up to take up even less space. "Nomen Omen, the ancients would say. A name is a presage. Perhaps it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but..."
Uta rubs her eyes. "...Sorry for the outburst, I'm... going through a lot at the moment. It's just that-" She shuts her eyes close so hard she's practically squeezing them, and then she springs up. "-I can't stop thinking about them. The song. The songs. They've become an obsession. I must chase them! Are... are we done here?", she asks, now completely uncaring that the whole back of her skirt is covered in dirt. No more negotiation needed. "I need to go back and supervise the correct layout of the items for the opening... to which you're invited if you so desire, of course!"