Two old men sit in a shop and to all the world they seem to hate each other, except if they really did, they wouldn’t have spent the last four hours arguing over everything from the price of wheat to the realm of gods.
“Marcus, If you think for one second that the Empire is the saving light of this world, you must have you head so far up your ass you can see light when you speak. Not only does the empire survive because of its endless conquest and slave trade, but it’s so corrupt that the gem of the Arma is a shit dusted with diamond sand. Your Noble houses with Rip that land apart one day and when it does the civil war will envelope all of us”
Marcus shakes his head endlessly at these comments muttering fool more than once. “And you think the free cities are better? You are the pinnacle of this world? Your still fighting each other more than anyone else. Arma solved that problem 1000 years ago. Hell you sold half your lands for peace with the Newminieans because your couldn’t get 3 lords in the same room long enough to agree on a plan to defend your self’s. Mark my words, they will be the end of you. Our Imperial mages will be the only thing that stops them.”
“PAH! Wizards this, Magic that! You milk that goat more than a poor rock farmer! I’m not so foolish as to think that they don’t have their uses but you putting all your might in a few soft eggs. There are mysteries in this earth that your folk have all but ignored! Just last week I saw a man lift to the heavens with nothing more than a silk bag and a well stoked fire! No Magic! You spend so much time in your dusty tomes you ignore the mysteries that this world was built on. That will be your downfall.
“listen to you Ya’gal talking of the heavens WE MADE HEAVENS! The empire is so great we MADE ARE OWN GODS!”
“WE both know your gods are a sham!”
The Two men just stare at each other smoldering for a few minuet, you might even think this will come to blows this time. Then one of them, Ya’gal reaches for his tea, blowing on it there expressions soften and they relax. A simple gesture that shows apologies and that they should move on to a new topic. One never agreed upon in words but over a half century of friendship both know and accept.
Ya’gal is the first to find new words. “I have heard of troubles to the north. We have move men to secure are borders. How fair things in your new expense. “
Rolling his head until looking at the ceiling for a moment Marcus shows his age, this is obviously a subject beaten to death in his works. “The Druids are proving a more cunning foe then we first though. Three more Legions have been deployed to the province doubling our standing army. There is even word of the Black tusks being deployed. After the flooding of Callabraia the senate had to pay attention or risk showing weakness. We defeated the Elves and the Orcs, these bush folk will be no difference.”
“Ah yes, but bring the elves to heel had a dear cost”
“Yes, very dear” Marcus pauses to sip at his tea while thinking, “you know these battles have moved at an odd pace. It’s almost like something was manipulating them to the greatest determent of all. Neither side is gaining any great victory at this time but causalities are oddly high on both sides. I fear that there is some third hand I don’t know of yet”
Ya’gal’s eyes twinkle in the dim light “you fear the Aeon are unmaking your armies?”
“Pah, nothing so grand. Though it would explain the lack of bodies, maybe a mountain witch eh?” Marcus chuckles. “You’re not without troubles here are you not? Do you expect another uprising? “
Ya’gal’s glee quickly slips away. “By the eight faces I hope not, it was nearly twenty years ago we put down the last one and still the barrows are a scab on this city. I tell them to restore the sector, give them something to live for. If they rebel again there is hardly anything to take from them to put them back in line before we move to the sword. But no, the Five wish to let it stand as a warning. The issue is the ones that will rebel don’t remember it as it once was so they don’t see a warning, just a deeper injustice.”
“It’s a fools plan built on personally grief and blind revenge.” Marcus spat, “It would have been better to sink the island back into the sea and let the waters wash it clean from memories. It worked before”
“Ssssssss watch your tongue Marcus, it only works so long as no one knows. If anyone got wind that the Left Hand had anything to do with that, there be more than an uprising.”
Marcus, blowing on his already cold tea, takes a sip. “Fine, fine.”
“So then how is the Numinnian quarter working out? It’s been what 6 years?”
“Eight” Ya’gal sighed, “They still make people nervous, but can you blame them? They are huge and it’s almost imposable to tell what is passing though there lizard brains. You would think they would eat all of the cities foods but they don’t consume that much. Wood and coal on the other hand, they can never have enough of it.”
“Is it true they can regrow there limbs?”
“No, they are cold bloods, not troll bloods. That said they can heal at a remarkable rate. More than a few nobles have taken their warriors as part of their person guard. No positions of note mind you, but they do make good arrow fodder.”
“I fear the stench would keep me from ever seeing them as anything but animals” Marcus muttered into his cup.
“Mmm… well we all have are flaws, perhaps if you Imperils didn’t keep your noses so high in the air it wouldn’t be an issue.”
“Maybe if this city didn’t reek of sulphur you would be able to unbury your nose from scarf!”
“Ho! I bet you would like that? Not likely Marcus. Not while the Empire breathes down our neck”
Turning his cup upside down on his plate Marcus stands “hrum, well I can see this conversation has become as empty as my cup. Next week then Ya’gal?”
“No I need to spend some time in the other districts A count of open land is being done.”
“The week after then?”
“Yes, the week after”
And they part.