Zuhaira reflected, once the group had retired to bed, on what she had seen that day.
She had witnessed them open the box, and speak with the golden head inside. It spoke with a strange accent, or it spoke with strange words, she did not know. It had been a long time since she had been forced to mingle with the landwalkers.
She sat and watched, trying to identify which of them was the strongest. The older woman brimmed of power, buzzing beneath her skin, like lightning in a jar. The small one spoke with intelligence but was nervous, and did not speak up unless there was a pause. The two kodan were alike in many ways, although the smaller spoke with more certainty and more often than the larger. When the larger spoke, she could hear his voice from all corners of the room, never from his mouth, like catching an echo around a corner. She dismissed the giant, as he was young, and clearly untrained. He was strong, and muscular, but his shoulders were unset and he played with the snow leopard cub like a child. She would watch, and wait more before she issued her challenge.
She slept lightly, and awoke when she heard them speaking loudly over breakfast.
“We see Anise today. I would like it if none of you mentioned Tyve to her” The older woman spoke across the table at them all.
“He is none of the human queens’ business. He was not a citizen of her kingdom at any point. I fear that knowledge of his kind would stir the political machinations of their people too far.”
“The humans may be overly political, but surely the mesmers would be trustworthy? We are trusting Serene Wraths’ future with them, after all” the smaller kodan said.
“I do not believe it is time for their kingdom to know of the Legacy that I spoke of last night. They will come to know of my people soon, but you and your Claw have stumbled upon magics which were better left unused, even by our people. We did so out of extreme need, and only once it had been perfected.”
“We did so out of need too, Tyve” The taller kodan whispered. “Many died to hasten our need. You say it as if this was not something we had considered. Perhaps we violated the very law of Koda, by deliberately causing our own imbalance, but you must know it is because we saw no other option. The Spear of the Sea had no other choice. I stand by Koda’s Breath.” Serene Wrath put his hand down on the table firmly, making the plates jump.
“That’s enough, Serene Wrath.” The elder norn woman spoke. “Tyve did not mean to insult you. He means it was a dangerous thing that you did not understand.”
“You misrepresent me, Ulfridda. I meant to criticize. Glint’s Legacy could be undone by the foolish actions of the kodan. Had they called—had they continued down their path, things could have become very bad. Already madness has crept in. Ascension—“
“That is enough” Ulfridda cut across him. “What happened, happened. We are on a mission to fix it. We rescued you from that box, the least you could do is help them.”
“I must assist. I cannot leave him like this. The permanent state between physicality and ascension is too dangerous.”
The small one spoke now. “Why? You go on about there being a danger but you won’t tell us what is. You talk of a legacy, but you won’t or can’t explain it.”
There was a long pause. Zuhaira shifted in her position, stretching her legs out as they had fallen asleep. After a long while, Koda’s Breath spoke.
“We will strengthen the bonds on Serene Wrath’s shard, and then we shall go find his body. It seems so simple.”
“But it is not.” Serene Wrath spoke, putting his arm around Koda’s Breath. “I am sorry for all the trouble I have caused you all. I have put all of your lives in danger many times, because the magic that binds me does not give me control. I can only apologise”.
Ulfridda reached out and put her hand on the kodan’s shoulder. “We are all here because in some way, we believe that by curing you, we have a fighting chance against Jormag. Even if the solution is not perfect now, with some more time, and research—“ she nodded at the small one “—we might be able to defeat him. We might succeed where Destiny’s Edge failed.”
Zuhaira took a sharp breath in. Destiny’s Edge were known, even amongst the largos, as great warriors who protected Glint and helped defeat Zhaitan. If this guild considered themselves at a match to, or capable of succeeding where Destiny’s Edge had failed, then perhaps they were the trophy she could use to cast off Wa’ahim.
The group spent some time getting ready for the day, and Zuhaira slunk out of the door behind them, protected by her glamour.
Ren smoothed his feathers, and pulled his hood further down, until it fell below his eyeline. He turned away slightly from the marching bands of soldiers as they passed. Divinity’s Reach may not be allies of the tengu, but perhaps word had spread amongst law enforcement, he supposed. Either that, or habits were hard to break. He walked casually up to the desk, and presented papers to the Shining Blade administrator.
“I come on behalf of The Red Emperor, Scion of the Winds. May he live forever” Ren bowed, his head nearly touching the large oak desk. He had watched ambassadors do the same before when he was in their employ, and learnt well. His hand moved instinctively to his fan, and he waited while the administrator read his papers, and then gave him a stern look.
“What business have you with the Queen?” she asked, peering over a pair of thick spectacles.
“Her business, my most devoted administrator, and not yours.”
“Fine. I suppose you’re here to talk about the civil war?”
Ren’s eyes widened. They had succeeded.
“It is most unfortunate. I am her majesty’s servant.” He bowed again, hoping that would placate the administrator.
“Yes, well, your papers are correct. Your appointment will be as soon as the bell rings three times. Please go and wait over there.” The administrators’ eyes softened. “You have my sympathies, tengu. I hope your war ends soon.”
Ren bowed, and moved over to the long pews that dominated the wall of the headquarters. He watched others file in one by one and lost himself in thought.
Two kodan walked in, followed by a golem.
If my people are at civil war, Sayaka was successful. She has mobilised the people against us. Even the pinks know.
A norn woman and a giant entered next, and engaged the kodan in conversation.
Will the Emperor have the right evidence to destroy the reputation of the Still Wind?
An asura entered next, and walked over to the golem. He was wearing a large backpack that seemed to glow slightly.
Will he finally cast off their yoke? The pinks are our best chance of survival against—
Two humans walked in, wearing extravagant garb. The Shining Blade seemed to recognize one, and allowed him through into the throne room. The second walked behind, twisting his rings round his fingers, making claw-like movements as he did.
The bell rang two times, and Ren watched a group of unimportant-looking people walk into the throne room. One had a snake tattoo on his neck, the sign of a peasant, he thought.
Jennah’s asisstance will undermine their xenophobia. No house will argue if she assists to destroy Yureitsukai. If she destroys me.