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Satisfying Curiosities [closed]

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The Dalis. Migrants from across the sea, stubborn in their adherence to their native land's traditions, skilled martial artists, textile producers, and cash crop farmers. A relatively new house; two centuries was barely enough time to root oneself in a new land, yet these Rosinderites had managed quite well, while remaining distinct from the Ursa Madeans.

From what rumors she could gather, they were to be allied to the Mythals through marriage soon. Rozharon wondered if she would like to be invited. She did not have a natural appreciation for aesthetics, having to make a deliberate effort towards mortal perceptions of beauty when creating or forming things. Still, it would be an opportunity to watch both houses mingle in a relatively non-hostile environment. The Dalis' strange physical attributes piqued her interest, though she had never met a single one of their members in person.

Perhaps this would be the opportunity to get herself an invitation and satisfy that curiosity. Her visits to the nobility were well overdue at this point, for that matter.

Rozharon made her way towards the gates of the Dali manor. She wore her cloak, as usual, covering her wings, though this time her dress was shorter, simpler, more practical. Gone were the overlong sleeves that hid her hands and the dragging hem. There seemed to be less need for that here.

"Gʀᴇᴇᴛɪɴɢs. I ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ sᴘᴇᴀᴋ ᴡɪᴛʜ Lᴀᴅʏ Hᴀʟɪsᴇʀᴀ."

 

@supernal

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Rozharon lacked a natural appreciate for aesthetics – against her crashed, and were lost, the subtleties of the estate, of the floral path which provided art for the eye and the nose on the way to the manor proper, of the treated windows of the Dali home which cast about splendid and curious colors depending on the angle of the sun. With some applied mental effort she could no doubt come to discern the understated sophistication touching this, streaking that, even if she could not truly appreciate it, but with no effort at all she could pick out the silhouette of a single man waiting for her before the looming doors of the manor.  

In their art was function also, as Halisera never once tired of imparting onto those a little more slow than she. Roz had been spied from a distance, the topography and the location of the estate allowing for unprecedented vantage. 

" . . . with lady Halisera."

Talaos, the house butler, pressed one hand to his chest and bowed, removing his eyes from the woman to look down at the ground for the two seconds he held this pose – the woman was unlikely to see this sign of respect for what it was, an alien to their culture in every sense, but that did not take away the significance of its execution.

In allowing his gaze to sweep back to the woman before him, he noted all the things about her that marked her as an Other; the lurid tint to her skin, a hint of bulk behind her person obscured by the curtain of her cowl, and her eyes. Of course her eyes. In the stage of his mind was the god of music (combat; art) thrusting his painter's brush wholly through the heart of the god of comedy (irony; magic) while the latter laughed; this was the play which the image of her produced in Talaos's mind.

"But of course. To what purpose do you seek the Lady, and how may I announce you to the house?"

Edited by supernal

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There was a man waiting for her - a servant, judging by his dress and demeanor. He bowed; Rozharon listened to his question and considered how to respond.

As she had told the Uldwars, she wished to gain insight on what the nobility thought of their present situation. The simpler reason was that she wished to get to know them more- to sniff out any early signs of rebellion or hostility against their rule, to gain allies against divisive forces, and to solidify her - and the Empire's - personal relations with the house heads. Others would have called it making friends - Rozharon would have as well, though the concept of friendship was one she dealt with only in the most abstract sense. She understood relationships and how they worked, but was well aware on her end, she felt little affection for any being. Apart from Titus, that was. That was a mystery, even to her, but not an unwelcome one.

"I sɪᴍᴘʟʏ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ ᴀᴄǫᴜᴀɪɴᴛ ᴍʏsᴇʟꜰ ᴡɪᴛʜ Hᴏᴜsᴇ Dᴀʟɪ," the seraph said, smiling. Smiles were a common tool one used in social interactions. Every one she presented was identical to a genuine one, each conveying only what it meant and nothing more - apology, appreciation, delight, condescension, and a wide range of other emotions. This particular smile was simple. Pleasant. Polite. Respectful.

"Rᴏᴢʜᴀʀᴏɴ Pᴀʀᴀʟɪᴏs, Eᴍᴘʀᴇss ᴏꜰ Tᴀᴇɴ, ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴘʟᴇᴀsᴇ." 

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Dali public rooms

At her smile, Talaos simply cocked a brow, incredulous. He leaned slightly to one side so that he could look beyond the woman, behind her, at the empty road, at the undisturbed path, at the unbent foliage; this empress came without guard or bannermen, without retinue, and mostly hidden in cloth; no regalia visible to the naked eye, that those who happen upon her may pay her due respect.

"Very well, your highness Paralios. If you would be so kind as to follow me."

Talaos turned about-face with a crisp turn of his ankles. Crisp, precisely, moderately paced swings of the arms took him through the marbled vestibule, past the busts and statues of Dali long dead, and into the central hall; 20 feet directly above them was a balcony which spanned the room end to end, and further ahead but only 10 feet from the ground were twin balconies split by an entrance into yet another room.

This was a salon, or drawing room, replete with a number of chairs, sofas, and chaise-lounges, the fabric printed in a fashion to emulate a night sky spattered with the indescribable beauty of the cosmos, and the walls limned in frescoes, friezes, and paintings.

More aesthetic and art to sluice off Roz's alien perception.

"I will announce your presence to the Lady now."

Another bow identical to the one with which he greeted her, and Talaos exited south, then turned west, to enter Lady Halisera's courtyard.

"My Lady?"

Her courtyard had been converted, as if often was; it was sometimes a wrestling ring, sometimes a pit of sand, sometimes a rock garden wherein she could cultivate her hours in her practice of mindfulness. This time it supported an array of weights and workout equipment. She was wearing a weighted vest and pulling herself up while grunting quotes from a book of prose poetry.

"The supreme art is to subdue without fighting."

From the book of one of the great, nameless poets of Rosinder history; only those with small minds and small hearts put their names on their art. One knew the lion by its claw.

"In chaos also thrives opportunity. No nation benefits from prolonged war. Treat your men as you would a son and they will follow you as one, even into the valley of shadows. Let your plans be dark as starless night and when you fall, fall as the thunderbolt."

"My Lady?"

Halisera immediately stopped. Talaos knew better than to interrupt her; that if she did not respond then it was his duty to wait until such a time as she saw fit to. That he would press the issue meant that it was one of some importance.

Halisera released her grip and felt to the ground heavily, though with some grace. She discarded the weighted vest and made her way to a barrel of water.

"What?"
"My Lady, the Empress of Taen has arrived and announced herself."

Halisera paused to look back over her shoulder and cock a brow at Talaos.

"Yes my Lady. She announced herself. And waits for you in the starry salon."
"To what purpose?"
"To acquaint herself with House Dali, my Lady."

Halisera used a damp cloth dipped in cool, clean water to mop the sweat off her face, neck, back, and under her arms.

"Very well, I'll be in shortly."

No more than five minuets after Talaos left Roz, he was back, sweeping one arm behind him.

"Announcing Lady Halisera for Rozharon Paralios, Empress of Taen."

Hali entered the salon in a navy-blue blazer, a white blouse, black slacks and black flats. The only splash of color on her person was the crimson hair tie she used to put her hair up in a bun, and it both matched and offset the red in her hair.

"No so long ago." Halisera dismissed Talaos with a wave; when he bowed in response before leaving, it was nearly to the waist. "A visit from royalty meant death or taxes. Should I have the staff make us something to eat?"

Edited by supernal

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The servant seemed surprised she’d come alone. Rozharon preferred it that way. A lack of pomp would do well to set her apart from their previous ruler. It wasn’t necessary, after all, and would help to establish Taen’s rule as very different from Damien’s. Where the former hoarded wealth, even Taen’s royals eschewed unnecessary displays of their riches. As for her, she had determined that a more personal approach in ruling would be fitting in Ursa Madeum’s political system.

Candor and tactful forwardness was often quite efficient when dealing with problems, and as far as she was aware, the nobility weren’t so rooted in aristocratic traditions that there’d be outrage at any social misstep. Perhaps that was why, for now, Singlance was being tolerated.

The image the public had of her was the foreign empress, the dark angel who had come from far away lands. This was acceptable. It would have to change eventually, but for that to happen, she needed to present herself - not from a podium or public appearances or through edicts and policies and paperwork, but through meetings such as these. Human interaction.

Rozharon sat on a nearby chair, casting an admiring look at the ceiling of the salon. The expression wasn’t entirely constructed. Depictions of the cosmos were fascinating, primarily because despite the impossibility of capturing incomprehensible distances in two dimensions, most humanoids continued to try.

The Empress adjusted her vision, observed shadows in the ambient radiation through the walls, and located the butler and Lady Halisera. At the woman’s arrival, Rozharon rose. A glance at the woman confirmed many of her conjectures. Halisera dressed simply and practically. Her physique was that of a fighter. She was dignified, yet had presented none of the ostentatious displays other would have had at her presence.

“Lᴀᴅʏ Hᴀʟɪsᴇʀᴀ. Iᴛ’s ᴀ ᴘʟᴇᴀsᴜʀᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴇᴇᴛ ʏᴏᴜ.” The seraph strode forward to shake her hand.

She smiled at woman’s comment. “Tʜᴏsᴇ ᴅᴀʏs ᴀʀᴇ ᴏᴠᴇʀ, ᴛʜᴀɴᴋғᴜʟʟʏ.” There was no flattery here, no fancy words or saccharine greetings designed to earn her favor. Good. Rozharon considered the offer of food and settled on a relatively safe, polite answer. “Iғ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪsʜ,” she said amiably.

Rozharon settled on a nearby couch once again. Those observant enough would note her cloak flowed over the seat. The folds of the fabric draped itself in a way that allowed her space to slightly spread her wings, keeping them from being pinned against her back.

The Empress folded her hands on her lap. Rozharon studied the woman before her for half a heartbeat, then spoke, her tone conversational. “Iᴛ’s ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴀʟᴍᴏsᴛ ᴀ ʏᴇᴀʀ sɪɴᴄᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ Dᴀᴍɪᴇɴ’s ʀᴇɪɢɴ. Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ’s ʀᴇᴄᴏᴠᴇʀʏ ɪs ɢᴏɪɴɢ ᴡᴇʟʟ, ғʀᴏᴍ ᴡʜᴀᴛ I’ᴍ ᴀᴡᴀʀᴇ ᴏғ. Sᴛɪʟʟ, I’ᴍ ᴀᴡᴀʀᴇ ᴡᴇ’ʀᴇ ɴᴏᴛ ᴀʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴍᴏɴɪᴛᴏʀ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʜᴀᴘᴘᴇɴs ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇ ɪsʟᴀɴᴅs. I ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇ ɢʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴠᴀʟᴜᴇ ɪɴ sᴇᴇɪɴɢ ᴛʜɪɴɢs ғᴏʀ ᴍʏsᴇʟғ. Wᴀʟᴋɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ sᴛʀᴇᴇᴛs, ғᴏʀ ᴇxᴀᴍᴘʟᴇ, ɪɴsᴛᴇᴀᴅ ᴏғ ᴍᴇʀᴇʟʏ ʀᴇᴀᴅɪɴɢ ʀᴇᴘᴏʀᴛs ᴀɴᴅ sᴛᴀᴛɪsᴛɪᴄs. Tᴀʟᴋɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ.” She nodded towards the woman. “Hᴏᴡ ɪs Hᴏᴜsᴇ Dᴀʟɪ ғᴀʀɪɴɢ ɴᴏᴡᴀᴅᴀʏs?”

Edited by Csl

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Halisera found the frankness of Roz's introduction refreshing, even if distantly concerning. Hali took the offered hand in firm grip, shook it, disengaged neatly. She walked over to the door which led into the salon and tugged on a rope, which rang a bell out of earshot – out of earshot for her, at any rate, and she let her eyes sidle to Roz to see if, by the wavering of attention, she could deduce if it was out of the empress's range of hearing as well.

In short order a footman arrived at the entrance. He waited to be addressed.

"Have the chef make us up a fruit salad in a bowl with two ramekins on the side. Make up a pot for tea as well, the leaves separate. Thank you."

Without a word the footman bowed to the waist and then dismissed himself to the kitchen.

"That way you can have as much or as little as you like."

Hali closed the distance between them, claiming the chaise lounge and sitting on it with rigid back.

"I'm glad to hear that Ursa Madeum seems to prosper, even to someone who sits so far away."

There was a barb nested in her words. Would Roz notice? Would she even care, if she did? Were the intricacies of nuance and subtleties of language even of interest to someone who, more than an outsider to the islands, was an outside to even their base humanity? How did a woman-thing like Roz think?

Hali intended to find out.

"I would agree, empress of Taen. The motherland is faring better than it ever has under Damien's sloppy rule, nearly as well as it used to under the practiced hand of the rightful queen. Perhaps we shall see such days once again."

What sort of days did Hali mean? Days as prosperous? Days with Ursa Madeum operating under so-called rightful rule? Her language was purposefully unclear, open-ended, inviting of interpretation, and behind the veil of those words Hali sat and watched.

"Your interest and concern is most magnanimous empress of Taen."

There it was again, another barb.

"Might I inquire as to the nature of your interest? I suppose it's only natural for a mother to worry after her children?"

Hali lay her simple verbal trap carefully and in open light. How in line was this intriguing creature's interest and concern and agenda with the greater good of Ursa Madeum as Ursa Madeum, and not merely as annexed territory. Did such a distinction even exist in the winged empress's mind?

Two footmen arrive, one with two trays and one with two tables which he places before the women so the first can place, on one table the fruit salad, and on the other the pot of tea, cups, sugar, and leaves. They didn't wait to be dismissed.

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The Thaumelin waited as Halisera summoned a footman, ordering food for them both.

Rozharon gave her a grateful nod. The woman sat down. Her posture was stiff, a notable contrast from the relatively relaxed position Rozharon had taken. The matriarch of House Dali was on guard, possibly hostile, possible unsure what to make of the Empress unexpectedly paying their home a visit. Rozharon prepared herself for any combination of the possibilities.

Halisera’s next words painted a clearer picture of the woman’s thoughts.

"I'm glad to hear that Ursa Madeum seems to prosper, even to someone who sits so far away."

Expression unchanged, Rozharon mentally sorted the Dalis into the category that disliked Taen’s rule, likely preferring sovereignty over perceived meddling from foreigners. What she knew of their history supported this: House Dali was one that held itself with pride, remaining distinct from the other nobility.

There was no need to tear that pride down. It would, more likely, impede her goals in the long run.

"I would agree, empress of Taen. The motherland is faring better than it ever has under Damien's sloppy rule, nearly as well as it used to under the practiced hand of the rightful queen. Perhaps we shall see such days once again."

Nearly as well. The practiced hand of the rightful queen. Rozharon inclined her head, her smile a touch dry. “I’ᴍ ɢʟᴀᴅ ᴛᴏ ʜᴇᴀʀ ᴛʜᴀᴛ. I’ᴠᴇ ᴏɴʟʏ ʜᴇᴀʀᴅ ɢᴏᴏᴅ ᴛʜɪɴɢs ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ Qᴜᴇᴇɴ Dᴇᴄᴀᴍʀᴏɴ.” She made no comment on the last sentence, subtly critical as it appeared to be.

Her pleasant expression did not falter. There would be time for discussing the kingdom’s issues later. With more frankness, preferably.

Rozharon dismissed the venom in Halisera’s next sentences, simply continuing to filter the words, the manner they were spoken, and the woman’s body language, filling the spaces in her understanding of the psyche of the woman who sat before her. A more empathic being would have been at least mildly offended at this point. Rozharon was more concerned with identifying the root of the Halisera’s apparent bitterness towards her and Taen.

At last, she was presented a question. “Bᴏᴛʜ I ᴀɴᴅ Eᴍᴘᴇʀᴏʀ Tɪᴛᴜs ᴡɪsʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴇsᴛ ꜰᴏʀ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ,” she began. “I ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴀ ɢᴏᴏᴅ ɴᴜᴍʙᴇʀ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴀʀᴇɴ’ᴛ ᴇɴᴛɪʀᴇʟʏ ɪɴ sᴜᴘᴘᴏʀᴛ ᴏꜰ ᴏᴜʀ ʀᴜʟᴇ. I’ᴅ ɢᴏ ᴀs ꜰᴀʀ ᴛᴏ sᴀʏ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴍᴏʀᴇ ᴛʜᴀɴ ᴀ ꜰᴇᴡ ᴏᴘᴘᴏsᴇ ɪᴛ. Bᴜᴛ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏᴍᴇɴᴛ, I ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴋᴇᴇᴘɪɴɢ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀʀᴄʜɪᴘᴇʟᴀɢᴏ ᴜɴᴅᴇʀ ᴛʜᴇ Eᴍᴘɪʀᴇ’s ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ ɪs ɪɴ ᴏᴜʀ ʙᴇsᴛ ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴇsᴛs, ᴘʀɪᴍᴀʀɪʟʏ ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ I ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʀᴇᴀsᴏɴ ᴛᴏ ʙᴇʟɪᴇᴠᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ ᴛʜᴏsᴇ ᴡʜᴏ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʀᴏᴡɴ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇᴍsᴇʟᴠᴇs, ᴀɴᴅ ᴏɴᴄᴇ ᴀɢᴀɪɴ, ᴀʙᴜsᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴏᴡᴇʀ ɪᴛ ɢʀᴀɴᴛs. Tʜᴀᴛ, ᴀɴᴅ ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ ᴀʀᴇ sᴛɪʟʟ ʀᴇʜᴀʙɪʟɪᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ᴇꜰꜰᴏʀᴛs ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴅᴏɴᴇ, ɪꜰ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ ᴏɴʟʏ sᴇᴇᴍs ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴘʀᴏsᴘᴇʀɪɴɢ.”

There was no trace of hostility in the seraph’s words. If anything, the reference to Halisera’s reply was said with amusement.

“Aɴʏᴡᴀʏ. I’ᴍ ᴡᴇʟʟ ᴀᴡᴀʀᴇ ᴡᴇ’ʀᴇ ꜰᴏʀᴇɪɢɴᴇʀs ʜᴇʀᴇ. I’ᴠᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ ᴛᴏ ᴀsᴋ ꜰᴏʀ ɪɴsɪɢʜᴛ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ᴛʜᴇ ɴᴏʙʟᴇ ʜᴏᴜsᴇs ᴏɴ Uʀsᴀ Mᴀᴅᴇᴜᴍ’s ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛ sɪᴛᴜᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. Eɴʟɪɢʜᴛᴇɴ ᴍᴇ, ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪʟʟ, ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴡʜᴀᴛᴇᴠᴇʀ ɪssᴜᴇs ᴛʜᴇ ᴋɪɴɢᴅᴏᴍ ꜰᴀᴄᴇs ᴛʜᴀᴛ Tᴀᴇɴ ᴍᴀʏ ɴᴏᴛ ʙᴇ ᴘʀᴏᴘᴇʀʟʏ ᴀᴅᴅʀᴇssɪɴɢ. Oʀ ᴘᴇʀʜᴀᴘs, ᴀs Uʟᴅᴡᴀʀ ʜᴀs ᴅᴏɴᴇ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴡɪsʜ ᴛᴏ ʙʀɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇʀɴs ᴀʙᴏᴜᴛ ᴏᴜʀ ᴄᴜʀʀᴇɴᴛ ᴘᴏʟɪᴛɪᴄᴀʟ ᴀʀʀᴀɴɢᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ?”

Rozharon picked up the pot of tea, pouring herself a cup, then waited for Halisera’s answer.
 

Edited by Csl

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Roz tilted her head ever so slightly; smiled even slighter still.

That was it. That was the moment of epiphanous realization. For all her aesthetic and all her posturing and all the power that rumbled barely bridled beneath the void-dark eyes and metallic skin, here was a creature not so far from human as one might think; as Rozharon herself may be inclined to believe.

" . . the best for Ursa Madeum."

Hali nodded two or three times as the Empress of Taen graciously widened the aperture and offered a clearer view than any which came before it. In response to the various intriguing points which Roz peppered through her short speech, Halisera offered no material change. She did not project disinterest or even aspire to obtuse graveness but instead deep thought. On occasion she even 'hmmm'd' as a signal to let the Taen Empress know she was still following along, and that in the brief silence which followed the end of her words, that Hali had not retreated entirely into her own mind.

Then she resurfaced, preparing for herself a cup of tea.  

"They aren't in support of your rule because you do not have a legitimate rule to support."

Point blank. Without venom or bile, without hatred or the neatly arranged little traps Hali liked to lay out, without disdain or contempt for a being who did not know and could not do everything in the world despite the impression of limitless, strange power cloaking her every fiber. Merely stated, to be examined or rejected out of hand.

"I think you'll find your strongest supporters are those you lavish with gifts, those who lost the most, and those whose short memories make the tyrant's reign larger than it was. I think you'll find these people view you as a savior, but you and I know this was no act of pure, guileless, selfless grace. We can see that clearly now.

"Do I blame you for this? Can I?"

Hali asked the question of Roz, of herself, and of her distant gods. She had an answer in nearly the same moment the question completed.

"I can't. Suffering drew your eye – I must respect that. You saw an opportunity and took it. I appreciate this too. Opportunities are not merely to be left to travel along untouched out of politeness. I can appreciate you saw more than that also. Rich lands, rich people, cowed under an image of abuse which may have made us out to seem more like children than we are. I assure you this is far from the case.

"You found a king weakened, soldiers starved, legions routed, arms interfered with, a madman made madder by the jabs of spears into his side from out of the darkness. None of these things accidents. How could you have known, having never seen the tyrant at his best and his brightest and most powerful? You couldn't have. You found him on his knees, bleeding, and had no reason to ask who put him there, to what end, how much your sword was really needed. You saw a tyrant and gave him a tyrant's reward. For that you have my gratitude and my respect – do with those what you will.

"But you and I are old enough to remember, to know, that a savior and a conqueror do not often wear the same face. The savior has rescued a family and their farm from a horde of bandits, and . . . now owns the farm and the land? Can manage it, can give it away, as they please?

"You honored Singlance with nobility. They shot Uldwar in the ass."

Hali smiled marginally at that, then measured out a few more inches of smile every second until it was wide enough to smooth the wrinkles of her face, granting her an expression of youthful vibrancy everywhere except around the edges of her eyes, where the wrinkles gathered in force.  

"That was funny, the man is a fool. Nonetheless Singlance could do all their good work as the clever laborers they are. Why, then, confer to them nobility? I can see why. One of those parties who benefit from your gifts. They support you. You need that support. You need someone on the inside, to increase sympathy, to deepen understanding, to showcase Taen's virtue by way of action, by way of Singlance's work. To be your eyes and ears, and your sword when you need it. But it is an insult to me. Forget any others, to me. To be told by a foreigner that another foreigner is now my equal, equal to those men and women who were born here, who die here and are buried here, whose fate as individuals is tied to the fate of the motherland as a whole, whose victories and defeats, gains and losses, are every part ours as well."

The tea had by now steeped properly. Hali held it to her lips and took a quick swallow – all of that talking had parched her.

"I see a little too much in words at time, but something you've said invited this candor; I promise you, it is a rare thing for me to say so plainly what I feel. 'At the moment' and 'primarily'. To me this says there is a time and a condition which would please Taen enough to concern itself more with its own affairs. And that Taen's current involvement is strengthened by the concern another tyrant may rise and commit him or herself to terrific atrocities the moment Taen turns its back. This gives me a certain kind of hope, and to this I say, if you would see the violent game of thrones ended, you must end the throne itself."

Hali placed her cup down, pressed her hands on her knees, and leaned a few degrees towards Roz.

"That, I can support."

Edited by supernal

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