Lies of the Thrones
[Collaboration by Ty, Sober and Fox]
The seasonal patterns of the Dragonkin seemed to favor spring, today. The bronze doors leading into the only building on Av'ea were shut except for a dimly lit crack, the surrounding water of the island rushing to meet the land in spatters of white foam. Amethyst eyes pierced the dawning sky; mini emeralds glazed into the chiseled eyes of the Urius the Forsworn sculpture, which stood erect at the building's zenith. The sculpture was beautifully crafted, and yet more an ostentatious insult against the other feuding "faction-lords" than a result of zealousness. Inside the building, past the thick-set metal doors and through a sudden flash of light from a garish overhead lamp was an alchemical wonderland. While Ish'm, Lord of the Dragonkin, did not involve himself in many political matters, he was perhaps the most lavish and prideful of the other reigning lords. The room bristled with alchemical genius; there was a drawn channel leading from the entrance and down into a cylindrical room in the back. It went around the room's perimeter and back toward the entrance against the other wall - used for brewing ale (in one of the other rooms within the building) for the lords to speak over. There were many lamps of shifting colors, and the walls were made of spectacular glasses not entirely of human origin. In spite of this, however, modesty showed: there was actually no inherent magical qualities to any of these works, so as not to anger Kallias, Lord of the Templars, and at the same everything was capable of being altered, as almost a tribute to Sienna, Lordessa of the Keepers.
In the cylindrical room at the far back, the strongest men and women of the country spoke. There was a single table at its center, made of the strongest yoke and polished into beauty. At its underside it was gilded with runes - symbols of power and strength burned into its surface, meant to keep the table from collapsing even if one opened a whole new Rift within the room. The table was ideally circular, just as the room was; with many chairs seated around it. Most decoriously were the three that the assembled lords would sit upon; all laced with beautiful scroll-work and an insane attention for detail that only those with lots of time on their hands, or an alchemical talent could create - each "throne" was cushioned and unique to the fancies of those who sat upon them. Above the table was a gargantuan chandelier, spanning almost the entire length of the room. It was made of El'Glass; a thin glass that could resist almost all elements of war, and one that refused to reflect light.
Few were permitted to enter this building, at this time. 'Twas the Annual Council Meeting, where only the most important denizens of the land could come to hear the decrees and discussion of the country's three rulers, who brought few (if any) personnel of their own.
In the same luxurious room was a lanky man in think rimmed glasses. He sat on a cushioned yet ordinary chair next to a corner table while jotting down furiously on a piece of parchment. His ink smeared hands moved at an astonishing pace and pieces of paper were arranged in order around the tiny wooden desk. His grey eyes focused on whatever he was writing and he sat with perfect posture. He was the secretary of the council and his duty was to take down notes and bring up current issues for the three faction leaders to discuss amongst themselves. The lanky man had no say in any of the issues, he merely adressed them and did as told.
"Begging your pardon, your lordships." The fitful eyes of the secretary settled on the yoke table. "It seems that bandit raids have increased lately; the trade between us is dwindling, and caravans are no longer making it to their designations. What is your will?"
Sienna listened to the report with a blank expression and cold eyes. Bandits, they were nothing but a nuisance to the country and their existence did nothing but harm the trade industry and endanger the lives of civilians. The arch-mage of the keepers glanced at Ish'm then Kallias. "I could easily send my Keepers to deal with the likes of them. Teach them a lesson. It would only be fair if those petty criminals got what they deserve. However, I will refrain from such actions if Ish'm or Kallias have any alternatives." She raised her eyebrows and waited for a response from either of the two men.
Ish'm sighed, and tipped back on the legs of his chair. He did not want to say anything, but he already saw what Kallias would be thinking right about now. So he spoke up. "There's no need. The trade routes are the same we've used for centuries, now. They're just too predictable. I say send a convoy of builders to make new routes, and be done with it." He closed his eyes, but kept his ears open for any conjecture.
"A new route?" Sienna asked. "Wouldn't building a new route cost much more than eliminating the bandit threat? It would require much more time and effort and in the end the bandits will still roam free men. What's to say they won't come and raid the caravans that pass down the new routes?"
"As far as money is concerned, yes." His eyes opened again. "But having mages hunt the bandits? It would cost us more in the argument between you and Kallias, you realize, than for all of us to send some of our own men. They're all due for rebuilding, regardless: we may as well get it over with. Bandits are not incredibly smart folk - they would die of hunger before they mapped all of our new routes well enough to ambush them."
There really couldn't be worse company for the General of the West. One of them participated in the magics that opened the Rift and the other walked freely in the land of demons. Showing them the error in their ways was futile and working with them was sadly a necessity. “You Keepers can’t even deal with your own bandits. Might I remind you about Lucciola,” acid dripped from Kallias’ tone as he said the name, “Do not expect me to rely on your faction to clean up any of our mess. We will handle the bandits in our province with ease. I suggest you both clean up your own problems as well. Building more roads will only provide the bandits more places to hide.”
"Very good, sirs," Interjected the terse secretary, "But there is also the matter of the compound interest incurred from our last meeting's expenditures. To be frank, our budget only allows for the future rates to compensate the force of interest by the slightest margin. The percentile, after rounded-"
"In the name of Urius, man, stop!" Ish'm cut off the now red-faced young chronicler with a groan; an action mirrored by Kallias, "You can take care of all of those finer details, yourself. Now I think it's time you brought the more important matters onto the table."
"By your will. If you'd please allow me to begin by suggesting your excellencies all take a drink? We have two matters of blinding importance to discuss today."
"Just get on with it," Kallias said bluntly without moving towards his goblet, "None of us wishes to be in the same room as each other." His expression darkened as he said those words and he fixed the secretary with a tense gaze.
Sienna stared at the two with a blank expression. They knew so little about Lucciola and she preferred it that way. "Do as you wish Kallias, the west belongs to you. If your caravans are destroyed it is none of my concern or business." The arch-mage wanted to get back to the keep as soon as she could. She trusted the keepers but some of them were just too carefree for their own good. Sienna began thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong. She rubbed her temples and let out a sigh. "Yes, the quicker we finish this the better." Unlike both men she wasn't irritated with the young scribe. She just wanted to finish up and head back to the north. The arch-mage still had quite a lot of things to settle.
Ish'm, himself, did not feel to rush things. He had made the trip all the way here, to the heart of his land. He wanted at least a moment to rest his legs. He took a deep gulp of his own goblet, drowning its contents into his throat within seconds, before he reaching out for his pipe. Then - after realizing he'd have to offer it to the others present, decided against it. He closed his eyes, listening intently as the secretary spoke.
"Y-yes, my apologies." The young accountant spoke quicker now, visibly frightened by Kallias. "Well, firstly your honors, there is a matter of one of our lost relics on Crestlight Island. It has seen been spotted within, after being lost to us over countless eons. Its discovery could very well bring us to important information regarding the Rift, and Alencia as a whole. However, the people of the island have been ignoring my summons, and trade boats are no longer returning to our shores." He stopped to catch his breath. "Our second issue is a matter of more urgency; it seems there has been a disturbance in the Rift, your lordships. The three oracles tasked to guard the rift have been getting strange visions of abysmal creatures. I believe they are demons." His expression became uncharacteristically serious, proving just how urgent the matter was."I-It's only a suggestion, but perhaps sending troops to scout the islands and search for the relics would be useful." The scribe fell silent as he stared at the three faction leaders with a nervous glint in his eyes.
Crestlight Islands were the islands closest to the Crusaders. It had been a headache for them ever since the first ships had landed. Their community still practiced magic despite the crusaders’ multiple tries to get them to stop. There was a port that the Crusaders owned there however in order to exploit the resources of the island. Currently however there had not been communications with the port ever since the relic’s existence was known. “Very well. Considering the Templars are closest to the island I will send a team as soon as this council is done,” Kallias said.
Ish'm spoke up. "Yes. Sending troops for this relic would be wise. But the Templars, only? No. We should combine our forces, not single them out. None of us fully trusts one another, as fearful as we are to admit it, and leaving a magical relic in the hands of those who despise its existence does not bode well with me. At least if we mingle our troops, there will be less hate brewed. And as for our other issue - those we haven't sent to Creslight Islands should stay close by until something stirs. Then, we may begin to come up with a plan. If there are no objections, I'll let you two pick out the teams and those in charge."
“Yes, and I’m sure you have every benevolent intent once the relic is found,” Kallias said, “But very well. I have no objections.” Even though he wanted the relic destroyed there really wasn't any way he could force the other two out of the way. Crestlight Islands did not fall under the West even though it was closest to them and if it came down to a vote it would be clear that Sienna would not want Kallias to be the sole stakeholder in the mission as well. Instead Kallias placated himself with knowing that he would be able to send troops to keep an eye on the Keepers and Dragonkin. With luck they would be able to get to the relic without the other faction members knowing.
"I agree with Ish'm. Sending troops from each faction would be the wisest choice." Sienna spoke, her eyes locked onto the goblet before her. The arch-mage paused to take a sip then nodded her head. "Let us not waste any time. It would be best if we rally our troops now. Other people might already know about the relic and if that's the case, then they too might be after it."
“Scribe!” Kallias barked, “Summon these people from the Templars. Tell them to be ready and meet at the port in four hours where they will be debriefed on a mission.” There had been many Templars who accompanied Kallias to the Council that acted both as emissaries and a security measure. Soon both Sienna and Ish’m had listed the names that they wished to be sent for the mission as well; all together, there were around ten names on the list. Those that the faction leaders called would receive a messenger pigeon and know that they would have to go for a mission in Crestlight Islands. Unfortunately for them, they did not know the dangers that would befall them in the islands in their search for the relic. Of course, those who stayed in Av’ea were not free from danger either. Darkness lurked within the walls of this great city waiting to rear its ugly head at an opportune moment during the council. Something strange was happening within the Rift, and those who stayed would perhaps be the first to see just what it was.