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Current The me of yesterday is always a twit, and the me of tomorrow always a genius.
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Hello and good tidings to thee! What brings you to this line of text?
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People of Jewusalem! Wome is your fwiend!
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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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"Perhaps dracons mean a different thing when they say empire," Ardasa said, taking the cup and drinking from it. "This is a story that every kobold learns from the moment they are born." She set the cup down and got herself comfortable on the chair. "So, it's not a short tale, but I'll see if I can condense it to one meal's time." Crossing, her legs and clasping her hands together, she began. "So, it all started with a leader of kobolds, who crossed over from the home continent through a tunnel under the sea . . ."

". . . His name was Arjun, chief of a grand tribe of our tunneling cousins. In his dreams, he heard the voice of Scen calling him to the surface, and with his pick, he hammered a tunnel straight up so wide that it became a cave on the surface. We cannot seem to find it anymore, sadly, but I have no doubt that it must exist somewhere. He led his tribe to the surface, to the blessed home that the gods had found for us. That would be this continent, of course."

"Yet all was not well. There already were peoples living here, who were taller, stronger, and far more magical than we the kobolds were. It is said that a great king of these people dishonored Arjun, speaking to him as if master to slave. In his anger, Arjun strangled the king with his hands, as well as his entire guard. There, he declared himself an emperor, making himself greater than all kings in the world, and thus may never be subject to one."
As the two women gave their speech, Elodie glanced at each of the other guests. An uneasy wind ran across the room then, or perhaps it were just her own overactive nerves. Perhaps Ladies Rowena and Adrianna trusted the crowd well enough, but Elodie was not so easy to sway. Perhaps it were her. Elodie dismissed the thought as soon as she thought it. She was not paranoid!

It mattered not, now thinking about it. Who else would be at an event such as this, if not fellow plotters? Already, they are shouting their monikers at the tops of their lungs, as if not realizing the walls themselves are full of listening ears and treasonous minds. Dearest divine god in the earth, they were going to be captured and killed before the Triarchy could wipe the sweat from their faces.

Secrets, too many secrets. Everything that came out of anyone's mouth should never leave the room. As her eyes darted to the faces of the guests again, she found such a dream unlikely. The simple numbers alone made spying near impossible, and if she remembered Bird with any certainty whatsoever, that woman is sure to take any instructions she receives, toss them out the window, and inevitably ruin things for both her teammates and her acting superiors. Elodie sighed, clutching a hand to her head. The logistics were a horrific thing, dancing about her head and making it spin on its toes.

"You will know my missive when I give it, I should hope," Elodie said, quietly, approaching the two and whispering as they closed their speech. "It will be I, should I mark the endings of every other sentence with a blot, as if my hand were not steady in writing. I shall sign them in an utter nonsense of false names and foreign runes, and shall do so if it pleases milady. Else, tell me how I might address myself in my letters, and I shall have it done as you wish."
"That sounds so very grand," Ardasa said. The fruit she favored was covered in rather annoying seeds, that had a tendency to stick themselves between her teeth. She licked at her gums, to little result. It was annoying, to say the least, but she knew she ought not complain. Not here. "I would love to hear about these adventures, then. Or, if you prefer, I could speak of my tales first." She was not the greatest judge of people, but when it seemed to her that Ternoc was going to allow her to speak first, she began.

"I cannot believe last year, I was still a child. You likely would not understand, but adulthood and childhood have a very clear separation in our culture. Oh, to be a child again? Life was so simple. I understand that some of the kobolds do suffer in the cities, and what good our empire does for them, but a girl can dream, can't she?" Ardasa grabbed the cup set before her, and absentmindedly took a sip from it. Then, she spit the contents back out. It was so bitter! What do the people of Hekaga drink!? "Water, I'd like some water please," she said, covering her mouth.
"Will I have a chance to meet them?" Ardasa asked, placing herself within the seat. It was a temporary arrangement, while she waited for something more suited to her dimensions be made. Dracon chairs made her feel ridiculous, and sitting in them made her feel like a child. "It seems odd for you to sit here, while your spouse, or rather spouses, may as well not know the food on the table even exists. Perhaps it is a cultural difference, that between you and I. No doubt it makes perfect sense to you, and all those at our table. Silly me, perhaps I should not have said anything." If she were a human, her face would turn pink as the sweetest peach. She grabbed at a slice of fruit having been put on her plate and nibbled at it, unsure of what to make of the whole scene.

Ardasa had to stand for her head to even rise higher than the limits of the table, which she had no doubt did little for the court's opinion of her. She pretended not to notice the little comments coming from the lower end of the table, but nothing could stop their sting. It was impossible from up here to make out exactly who would be the source of the little jibes. She made a note to herself to push again for stronger attempts at cultural exchange. Eventually, this should not be a problem for her people. "So," she began, trying to fill her own awkward silences with substance. "There must be something I don't know about the Grand Prince of Hekaga. You must have so many stories to tell, you being older than I. Did you travel and see the world in your childhood? Did you have any adventures?"
The palace did look lovely under the evening sky. The orange sun reflected off its many windows, so that when Ardasa tilted her head, they shone like stars above the night sky. It had been a while since she had the pleasure of seeing stars. The torchlight of Xigyll and Hekaga do allow for one to conduct business at night, but at the cost of the sky above. Travel made her tired, and in the carriage, she always found herself drifting away before the sun had even a chance to set. At least, for a second, she may pretend.

As the pair entered the palace, Ardasa was surprised to find it scurrying with servants, carrying steaming plates this way and that. "Oh!" she exclaimed, as two of them jostled past, nearly running her over. Between them was a platter of shining silver or an even more luminescent metal, and upon it rested an entire bull, roasted and seasoned. "Dinner, I presume?" Ardasa said, with a laugh. "Hekaga certainly may treat a guest well! Let us be to the table, then. Do you feel like eating as well?"
"A return now would be lovely," Ardasa said. She hadn't realized how far away they'd gone from the palace proper until now. "I would love to see the city again under a red sky," she said. It was an outright lie. Now that she noticed the existence of her feet in what was apparently a few hours, they hurt. She was not looking forward to the trip back.

The sky was not as red as Ardasa was used to when they left the temple. Most of the sky was, true, blazing orange and gold and reminiscent of the skies she had grown up under. However, a poor mage must have had an experiment get out of hand in one of the towers, because sparks kept flying out of the safety vents in a torrent of blue and green, which in turn painted portions of the sky for the briefest moments those very same colors. "There's nothing . . . too dangerous going on in that tower, is there?" she asked, pointing up to it.
Something about what Ternoc said ticked Ardasa off. Maybe it wasn't so much what he said, but the way he said it. Maybe this was all just happening in her head. That must be it. The giddiness of travel was making her go crazy. "What do you have to fear from cultural exchange?" she said, before thinking. "We do not seek to do Hekaga any ill, and I would very much like to hear you say the same for Xigyll. There's more to alliances between nations than non-aggression, I'm sure."

The day was becoming late. The temple was built in such a way that at in a single moment of sunset, the rays would pass through the window and strike the jewels of the dragon's eyes. In that single moment, the eyes glowed with the intensity of the evening sun itself, and an unspeakable force washed over the room. Were the room not silent enough before, even the hushed whispers cut into silence. As quickly as the moment came, it was done, and the sentences broken off in the middle were picked up again, as if nothing at all had happened.

"Perhaps we should return to the palace," Ardasa said, trying to still her pounding heart. For a second, she felt the prey of an unknowable predator, lurking from beyond the vision of the physical, its eyes trained upon her and her alone. "Where do you intend to have me stay for the night?"
"We must seem a whole different world," Ardasa said. Perhaps she was beginning to feel comfortable, to some extent, in the presence of these leering gods. She could just talk and talk her heart out, and they would listen, respectful of her insecurities. They were in that respect almost like her own gods. "Less extravagant, more simple, less . . . hierarchal. You must understand why I am so eager for this alliance to bear cultural as well as military fruits. I think that while individually, we are capable of great feats of art and history, together we may change an entire generation. Some, within the walls of both or any city, will hate. Let us ignore them, in favor of understanding. That is your goal as well, I hope?"
"Such is the fear of all rulers, is it not?" Ardasa said, averting her gaze from the stone dragon. "Every night, under the stars that grace Xigyll, I go to sleep afraid. Do my subjects love me as much as I love them? It's easy for the public to say to my face that I am a good and gracious ruler, and my husband as well. However, is that how they are when they are alone to think? You've never met my husband, I don't think. He looks scary on the outside, but if you really got to know him, he's just a big softie. I hear, though, we the kobolds of Xigyll receive a bad reputation within the dracon cities. That isn't true, is it? Silly me, it must be true, at least partly. There's no denying Rughoi is kind, but really, just really bad at showing it. What do they say about Xigyll, its people, and its ruling body?"
The dragon was curled around a throne, its eyes leering at the door as people came in. The entire work was carved from stone, with a few major exceptions. The eyes of the dragon were gems as large as fists, with a slot behind them in which a candle may be lit. The seat of the throne was draped in red velvet, and upon its seat were a stone orb and a sword. Despite Ternoc's claim, every inch of the carving was worked by the hand of an obvious master, to when Ardasa could count the scales on the dragon's hide. "I can only imagine the story behind that," she said. The dragon's eyes stared into hers, and she had to remind herself that it was just stone. Stone and jewels. "How does a dragon rule a city?"
Kutur stood in the cold desert night, pondering the temple before him. Could anybody even be in this late in the night? It is true, there are too many impoverished kobolds in the streets, and many seek asylum during the dark hours of the night. However, prayer hours do not start till the sun awakes in the morning, and his mind would not allow him to wait for that. He shook the doubts from his head. He needed to know. Raising a claw, he tapped on the doors, loud enough he hoped to wake any resting within.
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