Journey to the South: Twenty-Nine of Thirty

Posted: March 3, 2013 in Fiction
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     Our lodgings were in a building not far from the Scarlet Palace of the Monarch, still within the defensive walls of the eponymous Scarlet District of Sirr. Akar explained to us as we passed through the a gate in the massive granite walls – walls which were painted red so as to evoke the thought of blood flowing down them – that the District was so named due to a legendary uprising that won the Sirraşi their freedom.

    “You see, in the ancient days, we were ruled by monstrous creatures from across the ocean that you call the Serranian,” Ambassador Ka’lahn said as the litter carried us along the short tunnel through the cyclopean wall. “They enslaved us and thought nothing for our lives. Not until a young Ainur, blessed by the Harrimi, stood against them and rallied the Tainir populace behind her. They rose up, cast out the tyrants, and established the Kingdom of the Sirraşi. But the fight for freedom was a bloody one, particularly as they came for the tyrants here, in their citadel. Thus, the palace of the Monarch is known as the Scarlet Palace. The district within these fortified walls is known as the Scarlet District, and the walls are kept decorated such as they are to remind we Sirraşi that freedom is paid with a currency that all possess, but is infinitely more valuable than gold or jewels.”

    Within the Scarlet District, Akar explained, were the buildings of most of the Kingdom’s bureaucracies along with the capital’s foremost garrison, the Scarlet Shield, that housed both the Monarch’s personal legions and the city’s guard. Our building was to not only be our residence during our time here, but would also be the Embassy for the Krava Moy. Which was not too surprising: it was in keeping with the established order of the Sirraşi and given the recent end to the hostilities between the Kingdom and the Moy, no doubt the Monarch would like to keep a potentially valuable hostage close at hand should peaceable relations crumble.

    The building itself was five-stories tall, covered in marble – Akar explained that most buildings in Sirr were built with granite and faced with marble – that was was carved to depict Kravri figures in majestic and friendly scenes. I raised a questioning eyebrow to the Ambassador when I saw these.

    “I assume those are new?” I asked.

    Akar smiled knowingly. “Yes and no. The artwork is, the stone is not,” she said. “Before the treaty between our peoples was signed, this was the Embassy of the Jallah, one of the other Hundred Kingdoms. They graciously moved to another building and we changed the artwork on this building accordingly.”

   I grunted thoughtfully at that. The stone is old, but the artwork changed, I remember thinking. No doubt that no stone-mason the likes of which that we Kravri have ever seen attended to such a job. Yet more magic at work and their society functions none the worse for it.

    Soldiers and servants brought our belongings and helped us begin the process of making the building into a home. It took most of the day to begin settling in and before we had really made much headway we had to ready ourselves for the night’s feasting. We donned our finest robes and I placed the brass laurel wreath that marked me as ambassador and envoy for the Krava Moy upon my head. We were led to the Monarch’s feasting hall by Ambassador Ka’lahn and the Head of the Guard, a tall Ainur with raven-black hair that was coiffed similar to Akar’s, and seated not far from the entrance of the hall. The space itself was cavernous, filled with table and several hearth-fires on each side. At the far end from the entrance, I could see a dais upon which stood a stone table draped with fine cloths and adorned with candelabras that shined silvery in the light.

    We were introduced by the chamberlain when we entered, and the gathered Sirraşi nobles stood and applauded. Viro turned bright red as this happened – despite being an ambassador’s wife and having attended many such functions since we were wed so many years previous, it seems that she realized distinctly in that moment that the fanfare was her and our children as much as it was for me. The Monarch herself stood and greeted us as the applause died out, she garbed in a dark dress that was accented with dark blues and greens that reminded me of the description of the lights that haunt the northern Hylian skies at night. Her voice carried easily across the chamber, whether through magic or design of the room I am still unsure. We were seated once the Monarch finished and served the first course of a very long meal that consisted of more and more wine, mead, and ale as the night wore on.

    I was asked to tell a story of the Moy and so I related the story of the Raiment of Stars, of how the armor that was forged in the ancient past by Tainir smiths and sorcerers was recovered by a youth who used it to defeat an evil necromancer, and how the legend spoke of the youth disappearing into the land of the spirits until such a time as when the Raiment would be needed again. The Monarch and her Court appeared to appreciate the story, and Akar informed me that the Sirraşi would like the fact the story incorporated a relic of Tainir manufacture. Another of the Court stood and related a stirring story of being shipwrecked in the Yevij, of being stranded on an island in the inland sea of six turnings of the moons before being rescued by a naval ship of the Moy. The Monarch and the rest of the Court applauded that story, as well, celebrating the good-will between the Moy and the Kingdom – that despite the border-war between our two nations, there could still be good found in the other. More stories followed, along with music and song and, as I mentioned, drinking. This went on late into the evening, so long in fact that our children began to fall asleep at our table. Viro and I excused ourselves, which Akar relayed to the Monarch, who toasted us and called an end to the evening’s revelry.

    In the morning, Viro and I woke late, still recovering the previous night’s festivities. The day was filled with more settling in and a visitation from a Kravri merchant who had established a burgeoning business in Sirr. That evening we were once again led to the feasting hall by Ambassador Ka’lahn and seated mid-way between the entrance and the dais. The evening was filled with song and stories, food and drink, celebrating both the Sirraşi and the Kravri equally, until once again Viro and I had to carry sleeping children back to our apartments within the embassy.

    The third evening saw us once again escorted by Akar to the Monarch’s feasting hall, but this time seated on the dais. The Monarch, an Ainur of a height equal to my own, with curling blonde hair that was worked into intricate braids and scrolling tattoos on the sides of her shaven head that wrapped around onto her cheeks, chin, and forehead, was seated close to myself, with only her Chief Minister seated between us. The Monarch herself regaled us with several stories of the greatness of the Sirraşi people and their Kingdom, though there were plenty of bards and other nobles of the Court who offered their own songs and stories up for the entertainment of all who were gathered that evening.

    The climax of the night came when the Monarch rose and asked me to stand with her. She raised up a golden horn filled with mead, swearing an oath to peaceful relations between our two nations that I echoed, both out of formal obligation and sincere desire. We then both drank of the horn and the mead that was left was offered up to the Harrimi, in a divine sealing of the oaths sworn. In the end, the Monarch graciously allowed us to retire when our youngest began yawning and having trouble keeping her eyes open, bidding us a good evening and renewing her stated hopes for prosperous and peaceful relations with the Moy.

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