In the main room of the Empiternal House in the city of Charmonde sits a queen. A queen on a chair made of a multicolored synth metal that seemed to only magnify her majesty. Across from her, at parade rest and finishing a rather lengthy and detailed report, stands a woman in well worn but functional armor. The woman’s manner and tone shouted military and as she continued her report, her eyes stared into space. Not for fear of looking at her queen, but because that was what was required by protocol. Â Â
“We then waited a day as you requested. With no sign of the four, we returned with no further incidents,” Commander Evelyn Tyra of the Charmonde city guard finished, snapping her mouth shut at the final word and waiting for new orders. Â
“Thank you, Evelyn,” the queen nodded solemnly. “Please give my words of thanks to the soldiers and arrange for the usual death benefits to be meted out to the next of kin of those who were lost.”
“Very well my queen,” Commander Tyra responded. Snapping to attention, she turned around and marched out the room. Queen Armalu had tried numerous times to have Evelyn act more casual when they were alone but to no avail. Relaxation seemed like a foreign concept to the woman.
Once the commander left, Armalu thought over the report on the expedition towards the Tower of the Water God. The losses were surprising. She had always known the soldiers of Glavis as little more than muscle headed thugs masquerading as soldiers. Seems like High Mother Tepin had been as busy as her agents had indicated. Normally Armalu would have taken steps to ensure the high mother would no longer be a problem, but recent news in Glavis made her realize that would no longer be necessary.
The much vaunted Holy Light of the Twins had been snuffed out. And, as to be expected, those that relied on gods to define them found themselves broken by that loss, leading to infighting among the religious leadership. A possibility she considered when giving aid to her saviors a few days ago.
It was aid she was happy to give, even though they had unknowingly ruined her own plans. The Master of Slaves they had stopped from trying to assassinate her was a greedy degenerate. Known to abuse the slaves he was suppose to represent, his nature was an open secret to most. Sadly, he was too cowardly and lazy to attempt anything that would justify her ousting him. She may be queen, but she wasn’t stupid enough to think she could do what she liked without consequence.
Infecting the Master of Slaves with that strange creature ensured he would finally gain the gall to try to grab power as it whispered promises of riches to gain and people to abuse. Once he attempted the coup, an attempt she was fully informed on and was ready for, she would put the slave markets under full control of the crown. She would have then slowly dismantled the slave system over the next few years. Despite living in the house of 1000 slaves as was tradition, she personally despised the practice. It was always said slaves had a choice in the matter. The truth was corrupt guards and officials made sure that choice was made at knife point. To become the greatest city and nation in the Steadfast, slavery had to be removed. As well as other practices that starkly contrasted with the image of hope Charmonde always tried to present to those outside its walls.
Still, despite the four heroes saving the day, the situation was salvageable. The creatureâ€™s manipulations gave her the justification she needed to go over the Master of Slaves books. She was able to find enough evidence of bribes and other less wholesome pursuits to have him removed anyway. Ultimately, her goals were met. As for the saviors, she decided to reward them. She wasn’t a petty women. Punishing those who simply tried to do good was foolhardy at best and damaging at worst.
Besides, she had to admit she liked the quirky bunch. They brought about certain feelings of nostalgia, bringing back memories of her younger days. Searching in ruins with old friends and barely surviving fights with ancient creatures of prior worlds. Gaining artifacts, cyphers and abilities which she eventually used to gain the power she has now.
She hoped she would see them again. Especially the one who now called himself Tagos. Although he tried his best to remain inconspicuous during the second meeting, she recognized him instantly. She always made sure to have a mental tally of the more famous assassins in the back of her mind, and the Smiling Jackal was rather well known. From what her agents had said, he seemed to have retired from the business and had even tried a brief stint as private investigator in Charmonde with hilarious results. The fact he was staying with these youths indicated he might have a small core of decency that was rare in those of his profession. Once he finished whatever nonsense they needed to complete, she might offer him a job. She needed someone to help her manage the dozens of agents across the steadfast and something told her the former assassin would make a wonderful spymaster.
Alone in her room and knowing her business was done for the day, Queen Armalu removed the robes of her office. The expensive silk and synth fibers dropping to the floor, revealing a tight fitting but functional leather and synthsteel armor. From her hips, she grabbed two daggers. One seemed to shift in and out of reality, as if stuck between two worlds. The other dagger glowed with a deadly green light, promising death to whatever it touched. Â
With a flick of her wrist, a hidden door next to her chair of office opened. Beyond the door was a room with slowly awakening machinery. Battle Automata readied themselves for combat while ancient orbs began powering up beams of differing energies to unleash on anything in range. Cracking her neck, Armalu Ledranus, former adventurer and current queen of the greatest nation in the Steadfast, rushed into her training room. Happy to finally have something challenging to do on a rather boring day.
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