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4 mos ago
Current V.1.26 (House of Caecilius Iucundus); 4091: Whoever loves, let him flourish. Let him perish who knows not love. Let him perish twice over whoever forbids love.
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12 mos ago
Hello and good tidings to thee! What brings you to this line of text?
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1 yr ago
People of Jewusalem! Wome is your fwiend!
2 yrs ago
dun dun dun du-dun dun da-dun dun dun du-du-du-dun
2 yrs ago
Lo, tis a creature of the avian category! Lo, tis a mechanical elevating carriage! Lo, tis Especially Competent Bipedal Sentient Creature!

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"Changes of rank? I'm sorry, but I haven't been informed of this," Ardasa said. "Rughoi tends to keep his particulars rather close to vest. The army, I confess, is his specialty, not mine." She walked as she spoke, coming to a door hidden away in a hall. She threw open the door to reveal a bright-lit room, windows wide and frequent on the far wall, allowing copious amounts of sunlight in. The copious amounts of dust in the room was highlighted by these windows, as they caught the sun's light in handfuls. Shelves lined the stone walls, some with a couple of books resting on them, some completely bare. She gestured to a low table paired with a couple of stuffed chairs. "Make yourself at home, and let's discuss this. If I may ask, what compelled you to come this way? What are your interests in Xigyll?"

"Your Mercy," Kutur said, snapping out of his dreamlike state. The name weighed on him. Akydon. It was familiar. He had been wracking his brain, hanging on it, trying to piece it with a context. It came to him in this library. "She cannot be here. Akydon and those allied to him are, as the humans say, persona non gra-" Ardasa silenced him by cupping a hand on his snout.

"Please, make yourself comfortable," Ardasa said. "Kutur is rather busy in his studies, and will leave us alone. Shall I call for water? Bread, perhaps? I think I would have some bread, and a bit of the crushed fruit to go with it. You must try some. It is exquisite." With hasty motions, she forced a protesting Kutur out of the library and closed the door. "This is where I have been directing my effort as of late. It's not impressive yet, but our scribes are still in the progress of documenting our kobold knowledge. I promise soon it shall be a beacon of scholarly light, comparable to the largest and oldest cities."
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The spy fought to prevent a huff from escaping his snout. Stupid cankerous creature. Do the civilry no longer see sense? He took a deep breath, and decided to start anew. "My friend is an esteemed warrior, as loyal to His Might as you or I," he began, slowly allowing a friendly smile to take over his face. "We have gone our own ways, he to further leadership and I to the service of the gods. However, both of us participated in the wars that followed Traeton's conquest, in which he has proven his loyalty to His Might many times over. If you do not believe me, meet him at the inn as I have directed you. Decide for yourself if his word is to be listened to. Now, may you follow in Arda's path." With that, he pulled the cloak further up his shoulders and left the forge.
The palace was quiet, as Kutur and his companion ascended the steps to the door. He was nervous already, having dodged suspicious glances shot in his direction from the city folk all the way from the gates. They'd only ever seen dracons as either enemy soldiers, domineering landlords, or contemptuous diplomats, if at all. The sight of one dressed in mage's finery was bound to set at least a few on edge. "Try to ignore them, try to ignore them," Kutur recited to himself. He knocked on the palace gates, and the door opened, to reveal one of the emperor's personal guards.

"Magister Kutur. I shall inform His Might of your presence," he said, but Kutur grabbed him before he could leave.

"Actually, I think we are more eager to see Her Mercy at the moment. Could you send for her? Don't bother the emperor at this moment. He needn't worry about us meeting." The legionnaire looked at him oddly, but shrugged and nodded.

Moments later, Ardasa came to the door, looking about as perplexed as he. "Kutur, what's wrong? Why is- oh!" she stopped, then, her gaze turning up to the dracon lady sharing the door with him. "I wasn't expecting an ambassador for many moons. Forgive me, this is quite a surprise. Are you with Hekaga, if I may ask?"
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The spy hadn't expected such a reaction from the blacksmith. He was an odd one, perhaps raised among the more southern tribes. He was no expert on southern cultures, but as far as he was concerned, they were odd in their ways, and he needn't bother trying to wrap his head around their ideas of reincarnation and balance. "You misunderstand, my esteemed friend," he said, slowly. Time to change tactics. "You are being called to serve His Might himself, the emperor of all kobold. This is an opportunity I am giving you to fight for his cause, who is the cause of all the kobolds." The common people still loved the emperor, even if doubt was beginning to permeate the higher classes. His name alone would turn many heads in these cramped neighborhoods. "His most loyal servant is in need of your service to execute His Might's will. Furthermore, you are being offered a position of wealth and power, a life more rich in luxury than hammering shovels and plowheads. I ask you . . . consider it. If you are truly curious, Commander Mardex intends to meet at the Pig Hoof Tavern on Quiet-Lake Street, at about . . . sunset." The seeds have been planted, and the spy bowed, turning to leave. Either they will take root or they won't.
The spy took a deep breath, and removed his hood. From his robes, he took out a symbol of Hetuis and a stone tablet of ancient draconic script. For all the world, he looked as if an acolyte priest. Slowly, he entered the smithy, and admired the steelwork. "This is very magnificent," he said, quietly, feeling the various pitchforks, shovels, and the like. "Very magnificent indeed. You must be talented in your work." Of course, he was an informed spy. He knew that it was magical influence that rendered the tools so smooth and reflective. One tip from an unsuspecting neighbor was all that was necessary for information to travel down the vast and secretive information web into the ears of countless listening ears. All one needed to do was be in the right tavern and buy certain people the right ale. He crossed over to the busy blacksmith and pretended to read from the stone tablet. "Truly, your hand must be blessed by Scen and Arda. I have never seen such precise metallurgy." He smiled then, a cold, mysterious smile. "I have a friend in the high circles of the court, by the name of Commander Mardex. Perhaps you have heard of his heroic exploits in the Third Battle of Lake Draconis. If you would like, I could put in a good word for you to him. He is, after all, a military man, and could always make use of a kobold who can work him fair swords."
"Very well, I'll organize it promptly. I could arrange for guest rooms to be opened up in the palace for your use while you wait, but to do so would require I be informed as to the nature of your visit. Would you call yourself a diplomat? A friend of the court?" Kutur spoke, while pacing about the hut, gathering papers and books. Some official-looking text was scribbled across one. It was a template Kutur designed for official documentation, one of many under consideration. "If you will excuse me, I shall make it so. Will you come to the palace with me?" He departed, arms full of his things, for the palace.
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"Dux," a kobold said, pulling back his hood to reveal a pair of bloodshot eyes. Mardex waved his hand towards a chair, and the kobold took it. "I bring word from the city."

"Go on then, speak. Does this have anything to do with our . . . strategy?" The hooded one nodded.

"I have done as you asked. There is a talent, hidden in the muck of the urban environment. A mage, and possibly a very good one."

"A mage? What sort?" Mardex leaned forward in his seat, his eyes glowing with anticipation. The game has changed. The quicker one is to realize that, the more advantage one reaps, and Mardex plans to reap greatly. Vying for power against loyalists such as Vajra and Rebat is a formidable task, and he intends to gain immense power at their expense. To do so would require many victories, among them most critically the acquisition of magical power.

"I know not. However, this one does not exhibit signs of formal training. With the power he wields, there is the possibility of him possessing even more arcane ability than Magister Kutur."

"More power than . . . keep an eye on him. Get in contact if you feel is necessary. I want to have this mage under my sway before any of the others do. Who knows what they are planning now . . . " Mardex mused. The kobold nodded, and pulled his hood over his head before departing. Mardex's ambition was dangerous, a flame that burned too brightly. It could just as likely bathe the empire in its golden glow as set both it and him alight.
"I'm not at liberty to say," Kutur answered, sheepishly. "I gave Commander Mardex my books regarding the titular histories of the Bythesea Empire, where I studied. In exchange, he gave me a rather . . . vague explanation of his plans for the imperial legions. Beyond that, I know nothing." It was a lie. Kutur was never good at lying. He had some practice, certainly, especially since his retreat from the court. They were barely worth thought, small matters such as where he is going tonight, or why he won't be available during certain days. His word alone was usually sufficient to dissuade anyone from pressing a matter further. However, this was not, as he must remember, just another military official, who knows that behind Kutur stands always the unquestionable power of Rughoi himself. This is a foreigner. "Perhaps it is by His Might Rughoi's design that . . . whatever is happening is . . . happening. I would be more than willing to introduce you to the court. Or if not him, then his matched one, the empress Ardasa. They together hold the power of the army, and would be much more likely to answer on it than myself."
Kutur decided against extinguishing his fireball. His masters had taught him too well for that. Their words still echo in the vast chambers of his mind, shouting commands of aggression and defensiveness all at once. Never let your guard down. The first move is the most deciding move. Those you might not outfight you shall outwit. Kutur blinked, both with his eyes and within his head. Neither of them have made any sudden movements, and if she was such a friend of Kali's, she can't possibly be a danger, right? Desperately, Kutur tried to reclaim all his thoughts, and bring them back under control. He is more than capable of reasoning like a civilized entity.

"What do you want?" Kutur finally decided on saying, the flames dancing little rings about his claws. No, that didn't sound right. Too accusatory. Quickly, reword and try again. "What do you seek in the domains of Xigyll? I'm sure if there is something you need, I might be of great help obtaining it. I don't mean to be arrogant, but I might arguably be one of the most influential kobolds in the court. Should you have a problem that requires a remedy here, we may have it sorted out very promptly." That sounded about cordial enough. She was technically an ambassador, after all.
"Oh Wise Metal, protect my journey," Estazar whispered. She felt like crying, but she didn't know why. Was it because she was leaving? That seemed the most likely answer. This had been her home, once. Her first memories came to her in flashes, never a full picture. She was in a room, reaching up to the high ceiling painted in gold and red and orange. They were twisting and winding shapes, dashes and chunks, they were fire. She could hear rumbling, the steady rumble of a voice. What words they were saying had been lost. Then, she was on her hands and knees, scurrying about on carpeted floors. Shouts of surprise and fear followed her, and finally, a word pierces through that she understood. "No!"

Had so much time passed between those two moments? Estazar knew there was at least a year between them, but they seemed so close, she could have been in one scene one second and the next in the next. Her hand made its way to her arm, tracing the long scar that wound itself about it up to her shoulder. A mobad had told her, years later, that she was lucky to have suffered such a merciful cut. She was there again, crawling towards what she could not say for sure. The carpet loomed before her, stretching into the distance. This was far before she could stand up, and view the ground from above in a standing position. As far as she knew, the horizon dipped below the world into a void of nothingness. Of course, she realized now that she'd been told that it was no void. It was merely a flight of stairs. Down she tumbled, towards the statue that stood at the bottom. A statue depicting Shah Bandaves "the Scourge of Qaro", his spear jutting towards the base. Her arm struck home, sliding across the brutal stone. She opened her mouth and screamed.

More scenes came, they became longer and more complex with her developing memory. She watched her grandfather destroy the statue of Bandaves, taking a great hammer to it again and again and again, screaming and shouting vile curses, until nothing was left of it but pebbles and dust. Entire conversations followed, none related to what she was seeing second before. She reached out her arms to a tall, muscled man, sporting a wide smile and a close-cropped beard. "Pick me up, daddy!" she heard herself scream, and he did, laughing and tousling her hair. Then, he set her back down, and kneeled so that they met eye to eye. She had learned to stand, sometime between the last scene and this.

"I can't be picking you up for a long time. I'm going away," he said. His face began to blur away, when it had once been so clear. His voice, too, passed into muffled territory, and soon she could hear nothing and see nothing but vague, far-away shapes and sounds. Then, his voice pierced though, with a simple message. "I'll be back within a few months or so, and I'll bring a new mommy with me." Then, although she did not see, she somehow recalled, if recalling was the right word for it, that he had left to fight the Qaroitn raiders. That was seven years ago.

The door behind her opened, and she jolted back into the present. She stood up and turned, to be greeted with two figures. One was a Garmardom, of her own height and skinnier even than a man from Nithush province. The other, a Giyamardom, towering over her at perhaps three or even four times her own height. Together they bowed their heads and kneeled before her.

"You shahbanu. I Satrap Farrodana, Zirpin Province. Little shahmardom, many garmardom. I serve you," the garmardom said.

"I Satrap Abafrir, shahbanu," the giyamardom said, standing back up and ducking his head as not to bump it on the ceiling. "Tansa province. Many grass, many giyamardom. We chosen by shah. Take shahbanu to Tammir."

"Is safe, Tammir. No Kehmeyid. No assassin," said Farrodana. "Come. No time."

"I have wagon. Big space. Food. No worry," said Abafrir. He reached out his hand to take her own, one strong and steady and the other trembling. "Many speed. Go Tammir." Nodding slowly, Estazar allowed the two of them to lead her out of the prayer room, towards where the wagon awaited her.
"Are you sure you don't want me to escort you the rest of the way?" Sabil asked. He stretched, and squinted into the blazing sun. Waves of heat emanated from the ground, twisting the horizon any which way it rose.

"No need, Captain Sabil," Kutur responded, scratching the bump on his head. Of course, he was Strategos Sabil now, he just didn't know it yet. Swept without his knowing into the coalition of the new kobold nobility. What a force they would be, together against the imperial legion. Rughoi's power is waning with the peace, and they know it as well as he. "You should be off. The Talon Pass won't watch itself." Sabil bowed his head and rattled his gear, taking off for the horizon where his men await.

Kutur watched him go with dispassionate eyes. Sabil was a strange character, younger even than Rughoi. Unlike many of the officers in the legion, Sabil joined the army after the establishment of Xigyll, and outside of a few raids on undefended dracon merchants, has never seen battle at all. He would never have gotten to the position he held at all if not for a fateful meeting the two of them had, not too long ago, nothing more than a pleasant chat at the riverside market. Kutur pulled a few strings, and presto, a new captaincy position opened up. Despite that, however, Kutur remained confident that this young warrior would become a talented commander, perhaps even rising through the new nobilities to become a dux. He has already exhibited impressive competence in organizing his small band, and seems eager enough for more power.

All of that shall have to wait. Kutur excitedly looked down at the bag in his hand. A few more "chance" encounters like this in the fish market and this may become a regular thing. Perhaps he was getting old . . . what a scary thought. He made his way to his door, and opened it, then froze.

Someone was in his house. Someone dracon. His body froze, and he dropped his fish bag into the sand. He couldn't see his other hand, but he knew by the warm feeling that the years of Red Discipline training had paid off. He was holding a fireball there, ready to fly at a split second's notice.

" . . . Don't do anything rash," Kutur said, slowly squeezing the words through his contracted throat. " . . . Don't make me do something we will both regret."
Sure, I'm okay with that.
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