The Crowning Moment

This is part 4 of a series which follows on from His Enlightened Reign (part 3), A Bingolian Invitation (part 2) and Better the Devil You Know (part 1).

(EDIT: The year should be 2023)

(Written with Oan)

On behalf of the Throne, the Crowning Committee writes to extend a warm invitation to Your Excellency to attend the royal wedding and formal coronation of His Imperial and Royal Majesty, Thumim V and Saga, Duchess of Tynam and Storlund. It would be our nation’s great honor to have you and your guests or representatives join us on this joyous occasion.

The two-day event will take place at the Temple of the Authority and Temple of Restoration, respectively. Please find enclosed our invitation with further information and itineraries.

As a high volume of traffic is expected in both Adrien and Bingol, Attendees with special travel needs or large accompanying delegations are urged to contact the Committee so that we might render any necessary assistance and arrangements.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Sultanate and celebrating this special occasion with you.

With warmest regards,

The Crowning Committee

Schedule of Events
(Local Time)

Monday, January 23, 2023
9:00 AM - Temple of the Authority opened for guest arrivals
11:20 AM - Imperial Entrance
12:00 PM - Wedding services
1:00 PM - Conclusion of services

6:00 PM - State banquet at Sultana’s Palace

Tuesday, January 24, 2023
6:00 AM - Temple of the Restoration opened for guest arrivals
12:00 PM - Coronation ceremonies
2:25 PM - Start of Imperial Procession, return to Bingol

6:00 PM - State Banquet II

Letter after letter was arrayed before her across the table, pending a final review at the Duchess’ request. Written in dozens of languages for leaders and officials across the country and the world, the invitations all bore the Packilvanian symbol of state, while the letters themselves were emblazoned with the Bedonite dynasty’s head-and-moon alongside the two silver eels of Tynam. All these and more would soon fly across the endlessly churning postal networks to be opened in embassies and palaces.

All the rest would reside in the history books.

Saga paused to pen a typographical correction to an Älemsi-language missive, before slamming her seal down upon it.

1 Like

To His Imperial and Royal Majesty Thumin V, Sultan of Packilvania and King of Drakkengard; and Her Excellency the Duchess Saga of Tynam and Storlund:

On behalf of the Kingdom of Tretrid and the Crown Domain of Transnalpia, we would like to extend our sincere congratulations to you, as well as our hopes that your reign and marriage to be long and prosperous.

We hereby affirm our receipt of your gracious invitation, and we would be honored to attend. In attendance will be our royal person, as well as Tretridian Prime Minister Eoforwine Æthelstanson.

We wish good fortune on you and your countries.

With sincerest regards,
ᚫᛚᚠᚱᛁᚳ ᛒᚪᛞᚪᛋᚩᚾ, ᚻᛁᛋ ᚾᚪᛗᚪᚾ ᚦᚱᛁᛞᛞᚪ, ᚦᚱᛖᚾᛁᚪᚾ ᚪᚾᛞ ᚷᛖᚩᚾᛞᚪᚾᛒᛖᚩᚱᚻᛚᚪᚾᛞᛖᛋ ᚳᚣᚾᛁᚾᚷ, ᚳᚣᚾᛒᚣᚱᚷ, ᛋᛁᚷᛖᛋᛏᛖᛞᛖᛋ, ᛁᛖᚷᛒᚣᚱᚷ, ᛋᚢᚦᚱᛁᛗᚪᛒᚣᚱᚷ, ᚠᚢᚷᛚᛖᛋᛏᚪᚾ ᛁᛖᚷᛖ, ᚪᚾᛞ ᚦᚱᛖᚾᛁᚪᚾ ᛚᚪᚾᛞᚪ ᚻᛚᚪᚠᚩᚱᛞ, ᛗᚫᛏᚱᚩᛋᛁᛋᚳᚪᛋ ᚻᛚᚪᚠᚩᚱᛞ ᛋᚳᛖᚱᛗᚻᚪᚱ, ᚷᛖᛚᛖᚪᚠᚪᚾ ᚹᛖᚪᚱᛞ
His Royal Majesty Ælfric Badason, the third of his name, King of Tretrid and Transnalpia, Lord of the Tretridian Lands, Cynebury, Sigested, Iegburh, Suþrimaburg, and Fowlstone Island, Lord Patron of Mætrosisc, Guardian of the Faith


  Azniv Haviiz sits at a mahogany desk in her suite, towering well above many other buildings in Mukarras. Omar and the Mutadiit are off on some classified expedition, their purpose known only to them, so Azniv is stuck with most of the paperwork for governing in the meantime. As she’s mindlessly leafing through mail, she comes across a letter - an invite, from the Cryrians and Packilvanians. A royal wedding and coronation, an important vector for interacting with foreign governments and, more importantly, a way to end Azniv’s boredom. Sure, there are political considerations, but there are always political considerations. It turns out governance isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be, Azniv thinks. Sure, an official foreign visit on the behalf of the Divine Republic of Aldaar is sure to ruffle some feathers, but anything to get out of work for a few days. And hey, she’s an international businesswoman and one of the richest people in Aldaar. Surely she can find someone to cover for her on basic paperwork? With that in mind, Azniv sets upon writing a letter in reply - and writing up a job posting.

Aldaar Embassy Seal

To the Esteemed Sultan Thumim V and Duchess Saga,
  The Grand Orator Yufraan Abd’ildarra is deeply honored to have received an invitation to this event on behalf of the Divine Republic of Aldaar. We send our warmest wishes for the wedding and our best hopes for the welfare of Cryria and Packilvania. Furthermore, we affirm our receipt of your invitation, and while The Grand Orator is unfortunately unable to attend due to being away on business, I would be more than honored as a top diplomat and government official to attend the event. I look forward to meeting both of you soon.
Arham Kaawlbak,
  Azniv Haviiz
  Advisor to the Mutadiit on behalf of the Kauda


Dorothea re-read the invitation a couple of times. The Sultan of Packilvania? That wasn’t exactly on her 2023 “Get a letter from” Bingo card. But hey, maybe this will continue to warm relations between the two nations. Not too warm though. Dorothea is still not happy about how the whole Puntalia thing went down. She sat down and wrote her response.

To His Majesty, Sultan Thumim V and Suchess Saga,

On behalf of the Kingdoms of Alksearia and Balistria, we extend our heartfelt congratulations on your marriage and coronation. We hope that your reign is long a prosperous.

The letter serves as our acceptance to be at the Coronation and the Wedding ceremonies. In addition to Her Majesty, the Queen will be accompanied by Lord Alexander Emeritus and Earl Roland Jerome.


Her Royal Majesty, Queen Dorothea, first of her name, Queen of Alksearia, Queen-Princess of Balistria, Governess of the Church of Xathos, Duchess of Novia, Lady of House Tuvania


(Written with Cowlass)

Highdrilian Palace

Ibhodru Avh’ecten almost died three times on his way to Highdrilian Palace.

The first was from the chill, which the old elf was sure would haunt him later as a winter cold.

The second was from the ice, which nearly sent him slipping down the cobblestones.

The third was from the Ny’Sænuri’s expression.

“You are suggesting that Her Majesty go sit and smile with these creatures?” Dila grated out, “A bloody-handed dictator and the blackhearted spawn of upjumped pirates?”

True to his moniker, the Iron Duke held firm, “My advice is for the Queen alone, Minister,” he replied, “It is for her judgment only.”

“It would be a stain upon the Throne to consort with these individuals,” the Ny’Sænuri insisted. The Duke had to marvel at the intensity of the discussion, all over a wedding invitation. But theirs was a small Kingdom, and what would have been a matter of formality elsewhere could be a far more momentous thing here.

To Ibhodru’s relief, the Queen turned to Dila, “Thank you, Minister Bholdi. You have matters to intend to.”

The meaning was clear, and the man only cast one final irritated look at them both before departing the hall.

Seated upon the Gloaming Throne, Queen Halein of House Ny’thudr’zhan could easily have been mistaken for her father who had held the same post for near-two hundred years. Ibhodru certainly remembered the man well, though he could not say whether he would have wished the new monarch to follow in the footsteps of the old. Håkan had never enjoyed a happy life, that his misfortunes could for the most part be laid at Leidenstad’s feet said much in itself.

“I am given to think,” Halein said when the Ny’Sænuri was gone, “That I will upset someone no matter what I do.”

“Ic’thuindoxz and Yogryg’dri would both be gravely displeased should you snub their friend from Tynam,” Ibhodru agreed.

“And you, Avh’ecten?” the Queen regarded the Duke, “There are many allies of Leidenstad who sit within your House’s council.”

“I serve the Throne,” Ibhodru said simply, “And I should not think that the government in Leidenstad is more than merely accepting of this union. It is merely a matter of Tynam and Bedon, no more.”

“And yet you feel that it is worthwhile I represent our Kingdom there?”

“Not so,” the Duke responded, “An envoy in Your Grace’s stead would be sufficient. But aye, this is a momentous occasion, of which the Cryrians are by far the lesser part. Nor should the many Akuans residing in the Sultanate be forgotten. Outreach is a valuable thing.” Ibhodru shrugged, “Send me, if you wish.”

A calculating look flashed across the Queen’s face. “No,” she decided, “It will not be necessary.”

To His Imperial and Royal Majesty, Thumim V and the Duchess Tynam,

On behalf of the Aikkian people, I extend my congratulations to you both as well as my hopes for the welfare and prosperity of the people of Packilvania throughout your reign. I further affirm my receipt and appreciation of your invitation, and will look forward to greeting you in person.



House of Ny’thudr’zhan

Queen of Aikthudr’zhur, Master of the Three Swords, Enshrined Spirit of the Eastern Winds




Palace of the Republic, Altarme

“We are running out of friends Iona,” Moreno growled. His sister was evidently unimpressed with that reasoning. “Then that is all the more reason for you to remain here in Altarme,” she snapped, “Do you think the others would stay idle in your absence? Aldo, Icilio, Amintore - They all covet the throne, whether to sit on it or to do away with the State entirely!”

The Astelan President’s face paled, “Do not talk about such things,” he hissed, “Not even in here.”

Though the white marble of the Palace was his home, there were always listening ears, no matter where he went. President of Astela he might be, but he was also as good as its prisoner. His ancestors had built an unyielding system here in the fires of the Great War and their secession from Celanora.

Unyielding, but decaying all the same. Like an old tree, slowly rotting away from its roots. The collapse of Volscina had brought desperate days for everyone, but here the desperation had never ended. Today they were besieged on every side and at every front by those who watched with patient eyes and waited for this dictatorial relic to finally fall. It would take him with it if it did, Moreno knew - Him and everyone else he knew. They were all too involved, and they had benefitted too much. They’d be swinging from the lampposts, or else be no more than beggars in exile.

It was perhaps the only reason he’d still accepted the posting when his father had passed. The Reo name was too important here, and no other prospective heirs had been willing to stand atop what then seemed to be a dying edifice.

At times, the President had to wonder if even the Packilvanian Sultan did not sometimes fear he had lived too large for too long.

“Then let us talk about this,” Iona growled, “If you are absent from the capital, your position here will be weak, and the others will spy an opportunity. If you leave our borders you are vulnerable, and there is more than one foreign government who might not think so highly of your diplomatic status.”

“There are few enough chances as it is for us to engage with foreign governments,” Moreno countered, “We have been invited to a place where Astela still holds an embassy, and where other government’s will be present. There is a rare opportunity in that.

Iona scoffed, “And how will you sell yourself? What patronage do you think to find there?”

To that, the President had no answer. As if to hide her own frustrations, Iona moved over to one of the windows. It was proving to be a warm January in Altarme, and sunlight streamed into the Presidential office. Outside lay the carefully tended gardens, erected in the Cryrian style during the Great War. It belied what lay beyond the Government District - The crumbling facsimiles of ill-maintained buildings, factories and warehouses that had lain empty since their Volscine customers vanished. And beyond the capital, well… The less said of that the better.

“Send Icilo,” she finally said, “If you are determined to give Astela a presence in this pageantry. He is the Foreign Minister, let him do his job.”

“And here I thought Icilo was one of the people we didn’t want to trust,” Moreno rubbed his face, “Do you want to give him a chance to make friends abroad?”

“Hardly. You will send me as well.”

The President stared at the woman, “You are the Minister of Industries,” he said, “It would seem strange.”

“I’m sure we can find some tenuous economic benefit to my attendance,” Iona said drily, “Or - No. The Presidential Advisor on Yasterian Affairs is still an open position, is it not? Give that to me.”

An open position - Open for several years now. It had never been more than a sinecure, an easy way to give loyal friends and family a paycheck and a seat on the inner circle.

“You have never set foot in Yasteria,” the President observed. Iona turned away from the window and returned to his desk.

“Then we must clearly rectify this, Mister President.”

To the Honorable Sultan Thumim V and Duchess Saga of Tynam,

The Republic of Astela extends its heartfelt well wishes on your wedding and coronation. We are both pleased to represent the Astelan government on this momentous occasion, and will look forward to congratulating you in person.

Icilo Messa
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Iona Reo,
Minister of Industries and Special Presidential Advisor on Yasterian Affairs

1 Like

Palace of Putangitangi, Tokapa, The Oan Isles.
Tangaroa-amua Kohi-tātea 1023 AA.

“I can imagine every head of state in the world is contemplating whether or not they should attend the coronation”, Oahoanu said as he looked over the Staynish garden on the grounds of the Palace of Putangitangi.

The garden seemed almost unnatural. The perfectly manicured sprawling lawns and trimmed hedges contrasted with the chaotically beautiful growth of indigenous plants such as cycads, and palm trees for which the Oan Isles was known. The garden seemed just as unnatural and out of place as the invitation from Packilvania.

“I wouldn’t be surprised”, Prime Minister of the Oan Isles, Maui Uye-Ahua said. The sun illuminated the Oan sovereign’s tattoo-embroidered face and his sharp cheekbones and strong neck muscles as though bringing a precious sculpture to light.

The Prime Minister continued, “Well, sir, do not forget out little situation with them”.

“It still baffles me, even now”, Oahoanu replied, confounded by the Packilvanian embassy’s request over a month ago. “I can’t actually believe that little Jasper Ray thought they could bring down arguably the scariest villain on the planet”.

“Indeed. We have assessed the Packilvanian report and while it seems hard to believe, we do know that Jasper Ray had dealings with a Packilvanian male and human female in the Free Pax States, shortly after the attempted assassination”, Maui replied.

Oahoanu asked, “And we’ve verified this?”

“Yes, sir”, Maui replied, “We’ve been holding off because we don’t want to contaminate our government’s image with a scandal of this magnitude. Our biggest barrier may be the courts. Packilvania is known for intensely cruel punishment. They’ve held back on executing Prince Kujil to show us that they may keep Jasper alive but that might not be enough to convince the courts that Packilvania can be trusted not to execute one of our citizens”.

“If we don’t hand Jasper over, the Packilvanians will judge us very harshly and punish us”, Maui explained.

“Damned if we do, damned if we don’t, it seems”.

Oahoanu sat at his desk and held out his hands, deep in thought and then said, “Maybe… Perhaps, we can use this coronation as an opportunity to talk to them and see if we can work something out”.

“I hope the Tiger of Bingol will be willing to chat. They already see us as a puny and insignificant country to which they are already showing uncharacteristic restraint”, Mau said with a small laugh. “Do you remember when they referred to us as the ‘Obscure Isles’?”

Oahoanu had a little laugh as well, “Yeah. I was rather petulant of them. Nevertheless, if Jasper Ray did do this, and we don’t hand them over, the Packilvanians will be furious”.

“Indeed”, Maui said, “Currently we have Jasper in custody, but we can only keep them there for so long. And they’ve been saying some frightening things during interrogation such as alleging that they are holding a secret that the Packilvanians are desperate to silence”.

“Whatever it is, we are entangled”, Oahoanu said, “I willgo. Thumim will likely be incredibly rude and uncompromising, and potentially refer to me as a tribal chieftain, but at least we can’t say we didn’t try”.

Greetings, Your Imperial and Royal Majesty, and Her Excellency,

I hereby formally congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials and coronation. I am humbled by and graciously accept your invitation to attend. My Prime Minister and I shall be in attendance on behalf of the Oan Isles.

With respect,

Prime Minister’s Wing
Cynebury, Tretrid
January 21, 2023

“You know, Sæwine, I’m mainly going because of the guest list.” Eoforwine looked up from the report on his desk up to the Tretridian Foreign Minister.

Sæwine Wealdmundson nodded. “I can see where you’re coming from. It’s a good opportunity to make some inroads with other world leaders. Though I suspect His Royal Majesty would probably drag you along even if you didn’t want to go.”

Eoforwine shrugged. “Maybe he would.” He looked back at the report again. “I do think trying to engage Packilvania more is a worthwhile initiative, especially since Thumin seems to be trying to rein in those actions of Packilvania that transgress against the international norm the most. However, well… there’s always Norgsveldet to worry about.”

“That’s a bilateral relation you definitely don’t want to complicate further. It’s messy enough already, and we need to keep them happy in case sparks fly in West Novaris again. I do think relations between Tretrid and Packilvania can stand to improve, but of course they can only be improved so much without causing other problems. I don’t think we should rock the boat with the NCEF too much. While I certainly believe we should still assert our diplomatic independence, angering them would be a political disaster.”

“That’s perfectly fair. Yasteria isn’t exactly a region I would prefer to engage in, but even if I wasn’t going to Bingol, Norgsveldet would probably make us worry about the region anyway.” Eoforwine paused. “I do want to see what Thumin is like up close. With his recent consolidation of power in Packilvania, I don’t expect him to be all that different than its past absolute monarchs, but his foreign policy is at least somewhat more agreeable thus far.”

The Prime Minister placed the report he was reading in a folder, closed it, and looked back up at Sæwine. “I do wonder, though, how his power has been affecting him. Power is a very destructive force, and I’ve always thought that one of the weaknesses of an absolute monarchy is that the monarch is completely unprotected from power’s corrupting effect. Many a tyrant have started their reign rather reasonably before the power got to their head or otherwise destroyed them.”

“As for that, only time can tell,” was all Sæwine said in response.


Government House, Marago

Marago was rotting. The island city festered beneath a blazing sun which streamed through the smog and dust kicked up by its two-and-a-half million souls. Hot, dry winds blew through market stalls and bloated slums filled with the thousands who had fled the Serramali mainland as copper mines poisoned the delta and strangled the livelihoods of farmers and fishers alike. But the crowded agglomerations of orcs and humans ended at the boundaries of the Government Quarters, where open spaces and outrageous greenery reigned supreme. Here in these palatial estates the water flowed freely into lawns and gardens and tree-lined sidewalks, while the white edifice of Government House stood supreme over all.

For some, it stood far too tall.

A cane clicked against marble stairs, as Amal finally made it onto the sunbathed rooftop. Wheezing, the man wiped at the sweat on his face, and every step reminded him of the old shrapnel wounds that had mangled his left leg.

“We could have done this somewhere with an elevator,” he grumbled. From the expression on his cousin’s face though, Amal could guess that this little display had been quite deliberate.

“Well?” Amal demanded after a moment, “What was so damned important that you wanted to talk?” Few cared to call upon the family cripple, Jaishi Rahar certainly never stooped to do so until she wanted something.

“The President will be going to Packilvania.”

It was all Amal could do to not snort. It was unsurprising news, of course. Manjit Rahar had not reigned for so many decades without knowing how to rub shoulders. But there was something darkly amusing about the fact that the President could travel to distant Packilvania when there were swathes of his own country which had become so dangerous that even visiting under the protection of the Guard was an unhealthy task.

When Jaishi said nothing more, Amal was forced to nod in agreement, “He will.” A part of him wondered whether it was merely to partake in the decadent self-importance of world leaders, or whether there was some higher purpose to the President’s decision to pay his respects in person. Serramal was a country sliding towards oblivion, with the lifeblood of the Delta traded for the passing wealth of copper and oil - Wealth which was now indeed beginning to pass even as swathes of the Republic languished. But did Manjit Rahar understand this? Here in the gilded cage of the island capital, it was hard to know who believed their own propaganda, and who was so embroiled in greed and banal cynicism that they did not care at all.

“He will invite you with him.”

Amal had only a puzzled look to offer in return. “Me? Why?”

Jaishi affixed him with a contemptuous eye, “You studied there, did you not?” she demanded, “You speak the language?”

Amal nodded mutely. It had been nearly half a decade, but he had only fond memories of the place. It had been, however briefly, a life away from suffocating family politics, and a life before his disgrace at Iratura.

“So,” Jaishi decided, “You will have to tell me what happens.”

“Nothing will happen,” Amal muttered, “It’s a wedding.”

“Then you are an idiot,” Jaishi snapped, “Things will be said, and I will hear of them.”

“And what of me?” Amal demanded, “Where is my due.”

“Give me mine, and you will get yours,” was the icy response.

No, there were few who called upon Amal Rahar unless they wanted something.

But sometimes, it was good to be wanted.

To His Excellency the Sultan of Packilvania and Her Excellency the Duchess of Tynam,

The Republic of Serramal extends its congratulations and best wishes on your union. I am honored by your invitation and graciously accept on behalf of the Serramali people.

Best regards,
Manjit Rahar
President of Serramal

1 Like

Getting ready.
Bingol Royal Palace, Bingol, Packilvania.
23 January 2023.

The city of Bingol, whose weather was warm and sunny today, was abuzz with activity. With the 23rd and 24th of January being declared public holidays, people were out in the streets.

Seamstresses and tailors were inundated with calls from people who were lucky enough to get tickets to the processional route and needed new thobes, hijabs, turbans and other fancy clothes made for the occasion. The Coronation and Wedding of their ruler to his future human bride was as much the celebration of two people as it was of the entire nation.

After a week with sporadic power and restrictions on movement outside of the city due to the de facto embargo imposed by Mekedesh, the people were simply happy to have a celebration that lifted them from the gloom of their corrupt and autocratic government.

The municipal government under Prince Rameed had pulled out all of the stops to ensure that the events of the day took place without a hitch. They shut down key routes, enlisted volunteers to act as marshals and keep order, directed their entire police force to maintain calm and deal with potential threats. They had also ensured that all the garbage was collected on time, that the streets were clean and all the homeless people who were ordinarily described by the affluent as an eyesore were relocated to shelters and temporary camps on the periphery of the city.

Major buildings such as the Palace of Parliament and the skyscrapers of the upper class Upsarion District were illuminated with the colours of the Packilvanian and Tynam flags. The was a palpable sense of collective joy. The skies were uncharacteristically free of the notorious smog due to the restriction on vehicular traffic. The city was determined to ensure that the city was ready to host the world and one of the greatest events in its recent history.

The air force was refuelling and inspecting fighter jets, which were being primed for the marvelous airshow that was to ensue. A herd of friendly Elephants was being scrubbed and fed bundles of bananas and grass to keep them happy and docile as they prepared for their procession down the road during the grand parade was to follow the service at the Temple of the Authority.

The last of the Three Sacred Temples to be built, the Temple of the Authority was a large building built in the Classical Paxist Style and was part of the grounds of the enormous grounds and estate of the Bingol Royal Palace. It was built to commemorate the founding of the Magisterium of Paxism, the institution which governed one of if not the largest religion in the world.

The pencil minarets at the four corners of the building rose into the sky seeming like they would pierce the cyan veil that separated Urth from space. A marvelous dome sat in the middle surrounded by smaller domes and colonnades.

The pews were being set up, the altar was being prepared, and the Supreme Magister was pacing through the Sacred Hall that was the location of his Throne. Not only was he presiding over the nuptials of the sovereign of the world (as Packilvanians saw things), but also over the wedding of his grandson. His filial devotion and political allegiance filled him with pride that finally Thumim had found love, a woman with whom he would grow to share many memories and build a future and life.

As he went over the program, Thumim was busy rehearsing his vows. He was going to marry the woman of his dreams today and he was going to marry the nation tomorrow. There was a similarity in the committment that each relationship required of him. He contemplated the magnitude of this and the scale of the decisions that had led him here.

He had wanted this so badly, finding love and unseating the bully that was his father had seemed like the dream he never thought he would have. Now that it was here, it almost seemed like a mirage. Abuyin despite his insubordination, had agreed to be Thumim’s best man. He knew that in a few days after the smoke from the fireworks had cleared and the Akuan liqueurs has exited from their systems, it would be back to the political and legal jousting that had characterised the past few months.

Silver buttons were being polished, thobes shirts pressed and starched, black formal boots polished to a mirror shine. The grooms men were all together in the Palace getting ready. It was the who’s who of the Packilvanian political elite. Prince Luwadeen, Prince Lohadek and others were getting their clothes ready. As they did, Thumim wondered, “How is Saga getting along?”

1 Like

Bingol Royal Palace

For days, activity had been mounting in the capital and its palaces, reaching a fever pitch as the sun rose on the 23rd. Despite this, Saga had found a sense of peace in Bingol. This was not a silence before the storm, not in a city that could fit Cryria and several million more. Certainly, she had scarcely allowed herself to be idle, not as guests began to arrive and the final preparations required completing. No, this was ease of the sort she had once felt in Gazny Khot, and then in Leidenstad and again in Tynam - A sense of being at home, and the command that came with it.

Certainly, the Duchess had to think that it was probably easier to find peace here than in the Kingdom these days. Cryria was a small place, which made large news all the larger still. Its normally placid media waters had been thrown into frenzied savagery once when the news had broken from Sayyed, again with the formal announcement, and now a third time as the events began. Saga had watched with no small amusement and perhaps more attention than was worthwhile as everyone with a cause from Novaroskeptics, republicans, and democracy activists to blatant xenophobes and neofeudalists had found some connection to her wedding with varying degrees of validity and vitriol.

Nor was it lost on the Duchess that Tynam itself seemed to have the least to say about these matters. Perhaps it was simply the least heard, with fewer than a million voices to spare, but it set her mind at ease all the same. There was a certain joy in expendability, and to know that what she had built and what she had left behind cared not a bit about her absence was a pleasant thing indeed.

Some, of course, had come. Evaline’s absence was one that she felt. But Zamira had arrived, to more joy than Saga would admit, and those many others she had come to know during those happy years in Gazny Khot, or the difficult ones in Leidenstad and Tynam. Even Grandfather had stirred himself to travel in his age, despite her insistence to the contrary.

And one other as well.

“Your Majesty.”


“Not quite yet, I fear,” Saga said wryly. The Cryrian monarch had entered the Sultanate among the veritable horde of other foreign notables. In truth, the Duchess had half expected a suitable surrogate to be sent instead, but perhaps Leidenstad had decided that the Queen’s absence would be too conspicuous.

It had taken some time for the Duchess to escape the cluster of the bridal party, but she at last had a moment in the gardens to greet the Queen alone, the shadow of the Protocol-Captain notwithstanding.

“I suppose I must render an apology,” Ulrika began, “For some of the remarks that have been made.”

“Why? Was Your Majesty making them?” the Duchess asked sharply. Seeing the Queen’s irate expression, she laughed and gestured to an empty bench, “I jest, come. We do not know each other as well as I would have liked, so there should be no ill-will between us either. I have told you once before, that what most people say does not matter, if nothing else Your Majesty can afford to learn that it is a poor thing to apologize for them.”

“I think you will feel quite at home here,” the Queen responded, dry as a Packilvanian desert.

“I have yet to find a place where I did not,” Saga said easily, “I did much the same in Your Majesty’s Kingdom once, and shall ever hold it dear.”

“Yes,” Ulrika said after a moment, though she did not sit, “That much I cannot deny.”

“You served the Kingdom, and though I have no recollection of the time I am told you did so well,” the Queen continued, “Shall I trust you will hold to the oaths you once swore then, to speak well of it and raise no hand against it?”

The Duchess regarded her, any air of levity replaced with one of seriousness, “It is those same oaths that hold me to honesty. My duties will lie here, shortly. And I have never held a divided loyalty.”

“No indeed. You have only ever had one, Duchess Tynam,” Ulrika said with a hint of satisfaction. She motioned to the Protocol-Captain, who produced from a diplomatic pouch an envelope bearing the Leidensen seal which the Queen in turn handed to the Duchess. “Go then, and let our destinies be accomplished!”

Saga stared at the little red falcon, “Your Majesty has a flair for the dramatic,” she murmured. She knew full well what lay within - A simple writ bearing the Queen’s signature, declaring her released from all allegiance and protection from the Drifting Throne. A final relinquishment of Cryrian citizenship. For one of the few moments in her life, Saga held mixed feelings even as she accepted the letter with stiff fingers.

It was like a divorce before a marriage, or heavier still - A thread from the past cut. A future unfolded itself before her in full now, one she could not have imagined. But for Saga this was no new thing, and she had learned long ago that life was too short to do anything less than what one desired.

So into her coat the envelope vanished.

“I’ve a fondness for history,” Ulrika said with faint amusement, “Though historically such a missive was accompanied with a slap to the face.”

Saga snorted, “I would not recommend it.”

“Pity that,” the Queen laughed, “It is good then, Duchess Tynam, that I offer you a kinder parting gift.” The Queen gestured to the Protocol-Captain, who this time presented Saga directly with a familiar-looking Aikkian dagger in a sheathe - The same which had been displayed behind the Queen over half a year ago in Sayyed.

“Had some kind of hell getting this through security,” Camilla muttered under her breath.

“It is a poor recompense for the Sword of the Crashing Moon, perhaps, but you might now consider your collection to be complete all the same.”

The symbolism, though left unsaid, was not lost on the Duchess. Good luck, for the travels to come - Had it not been her who once remarked upon that? This was, Saga felt, the kindest sort of parting the Queen could give. For once, she offered Ulrika no veiled irreverence in response as she accepted.

“I am glad you came, Your Majesty,” Saga finally decided as her phone began to beep insistently. The Duchess fished it out to see a scrawl of texts from Zamira, and sighed, “But, I am summoned by a higher authority.” Briefly turning back to the Queen, she said, “You should enjoy yourself. It is a time for festivity, and we might be friends for at least today.”

“Oh?” Ulrika asked wryly, “And what plans do you hold for tomorrow?”

“There is only ever one plan, Your Grace, “ Saga called back, turning to offer a parting bow as she walked away, “To live an interesting life!”

1 Like

Bingol Royal Palace, Bingol, Packilvania.
23 January 2023.

After Queen Ulrike of Cryria left the chamber in which Duchess Saga was getting ready, Sultana Mebri, Princess Yadika and a burly feline man wearing military uniform held a portable safe.

“My dear”, Sultana Mebri said, “Today is a magnificent day. I remember the day that I was married. I was not yet even a princess and the war against the Communist party had not even been won. It was a comparably pared-down affair. I wanted you to have something trully worthy of the Sultana of Packilvania. Thus, my dear, I have a gift for you”.

“I was absolutely ecstatic when mama told me that she was lending you this”, Princess Yadika says.

“Yadika, may you do the honors”, Sultana Mebri asked Yadika.

The soldier put the portable safe on the table. Princess Yadika put her index finger on the scanning device on the door of the safe. The safe made a sound and then opened revealing a sparkling seven-emerald tiara. Mebri, wearing a pair of white silk gloves, as was convention during prestigious and formal events such as imperial weddings, lifted the tiara and raised it so that Saga could have a look.

“This is the Seven Stars of Ulfradeen”, she said, “It is the tiara of Sultana Zulayka, the mother of the last Sultana Regnant, Zerah Demir IV. It was kept in the vault of the Treasury for decades and was quietly tended by artisans who held hope for the restoration of the monarchy and the Paxist religion”.

Princess Yadika added, “It is named after the seven emeralds which were mined in the city of Ulfradeen in Rigaryat”.

Sultana Mebri nodded in agreement. She lifted the tiara and then gently placed it on Saga’s head, her lady-in-waiting securing it to prevent it from falling down as she sat, stood up or walked around. Mebri held Saga’s hands and looked her in the eyes saying, “Human or not, as far as I am concerned, you are and will always be my daughter”.

Slowly but surely, it seemed that things were coming together, and as the awaited hour approached Saga found herself afflicted by the irritation that came with idle hands and anticipation. After the Queen had come some half-remembered conversation with the Governor of Gazny Khot and a chance but laconic encounter with the dour-faced Astelan foreign minister before she had returned to her rooms. The dress for the intended moment was prepared there, adorned with the blood-red and snaking silver house colors of Tynam. With little else to do now, the Duchess had slashed open Ulrika’s envelope with the dagger, and found its contents to be as she had expected.

“So it is done then,” Saga thought to herself, tossing the thing aside. For a brief moment, it was twenty years past and she was sitting in that transport again, en route to a burning Charlottesborg, and then it was every such instance which had followed. Hurry up and wait - It never seemed to get much easier.

Mebri’s entrance returned her from such musings.

“Sultana,” the Duchess inclined her head in greeting. She had not spoken to Mebri since the first night she had arrived, nor had she felt much desire to do so after the woman’s final suggestion then.

“Princess,” Saga added as well when Yadika arrived.

The Duchess watched as the heavy case was placed down on the desk, its mechanisms whirring to life before its doors slid open to reveal the treasure nestled within. The tiara gleamed back at her with seven eyes as green as the banners of Gazny Khot.

“It is too much to wear,” Saga murmured in objection even as the piece was set upon her head, heavy with the weight of its history. Of Sultana Zulayka, she knew little, but Zerah Demir - Was there any name so remembered across the world she’d once lit afire? A lesson in ambition, or so it was told among the Cryrians which had once warred opposite the old Sultana. A figure placed alongside such tales as those of old Queen Katharine, ones who had seized upon their odd moments of destiny.

Interesting lives indeed, Saga had to think. She offered a smile back to Mebri, and set aside any lingering feelings of ill-will she might have felt then. “You do me an honor, Sultana,” she said.

1 Like

(Joint post with Norgs)

There are three truths, three pillars of undeniable facts in East Borea.
You will die by unnatural causes.
You are being watched.
No matter the government change, Viktor von Dotseth will be there. Shaking hands with the new regime leader.

When the Gusanaszna CEO seat changed hands to Kenddary Varinheart. It was Dotseth shaking their hand. When Rusanru’a military coup the civil government, Dotseth shook the hand of Gen. Zvyagin Fyodorovich. During the bush wars of Nystatiszna and Syrtænzna of 1935-1939, it was Dotseth who created the terms for them to sign. When Lapliszna was ‘released’ from Blaskog and that evil witch was enshrined. Dotseth was there at the coronation and enshrinement shaking hands with Esta. From Noraida to any of the governments of Nystatiszna, Dotseth was there, shaking hands with the new leader making agreements to the benefit of Nystatiszna.

The immortal fixture of East Borea politics, the Nystatinne monster in the shadow simply observes and has his unseen outstretched hands moving the pieces on the board. His reach stretches out into places that defy reason for decades if not close to a century. From arming Ny’Sænuri in Norgsveldet colonies, to smuggling drugs across the world to fund the Bureau operations and performing plans best left unsaid for the mental wellbeing of others.

It was Nystatinnes who built the country but it was Dotseth who told them what to think. It was Dotseth who created the government of Nystatiszna, the Hoshi’s had their inputs with the newest form of government but it was Dotseth who had the final word in it. He designed and wrote the newest constitution, made amendments to the Ceasefire Agreement of 1965 and was to create the conditions for even having a monarchy election.

So when it came to the Packilvania wedding invitations, it was almost a comical feeling for the soulless man. In 1947, he was the one to shake hands with previous heads of government of their Packilvanian regime to create an arms deal and a naval base on Nystatiszna. In which he promptly sent those weapons back to Packilvania and Musetszna to the arms of the Ny’Sænuri among other anti-government forces especially within Musetszna. Now he returns almost 76 years later, to a different Packilvania government to shake hands and make deals to benefit Nystatiszna. Even the naval base in Nystatiszna is the same place where the communist had it. It just shows the more things change, the more they stay the same and Viktor von Dotseth never changed his single goal, Protect Nystatiszna.

The wedding invite almost sparked his interest in a different way. Thumin is new to the throne and only recently performed a… Well it would be a disgrace to purges to call what he did a proper purge. Though it is intriguing, reading between the lines of the Crescent and the rumors he hears from the dark corners. To first have a ‘purge’ then to invite foreign leaders into your country, it’s certainly a bold move to be sure. One of either arrogance or inexperience of running an authoritative state. Dotseth, of course, believed it to be a mixture of both.

When you purge, you create a vacuum that will draw in vultures. Vultures that will inevitably believe they could take more than what is offered, at least for a little while until you break them into governance and your way of thinking. Inviting powerful foreign leaders, with their own interest in how your government acts. Foreign leaders with money, weapons and influence that draw in the vultures to assist in their own lust for power. It nearly always created a recipe for future problems. Even more troublesome would be the foreigners seeing the new government before it cements its hold over the keys of power. You could throw up as many pretty carpets over the messes as you want, all the show and talk but anyone with half ability should be able to see past it to look at the wet cement mixture under it. More you control what people see, the more unspoken the troubles are in the country for all to see.

Which is precisely why Dotseth is going, not for agreements or diplomatic formalities but to see how stable Thumin rule is in the country. Sure he will do the formalities required of a diplomat but at the end of the day he is the spymaster with more than a century of experience in these matters. Someone who spent their life perfecting the art of authoritarianism, tyranny and spycraft. He is a tyrant yes, but who better to talk to tyrants than another tyrant.

[Scarlet Castle, Nystatiszna]

Viktor is an incredibly old man, even by elf standards. He sat in Ingrid’s office, otherside of her. Hand on his cane and another hand on the invite. He slid it over on the desk to the Matriarch. Simply taking a moment for Ingrid to read it and keeping silent with his unflinching dead eyes.

The kemonomimi was quick to read it over before slowly shaking her head. “I think it would be quite unwise for me to go there. Especially after having joined the Heilen Plan and the RCEU.” She said calmly as she stood up from her seat to pour herself a cup of tea. “Do you want any?”

“No.” He spoke in a flat, monotone voice.

Victoria Engebretsen was standing by the window, refusing to look at the demon in the chair. Taking a sip from her own tea cup. “I concur with the Matriarch, it would cause our allies some degree of embarrassment if not concern with us.”

“That’s why neither of you will be going to it. I will be the representative for Nystatiszna at it. You’re both far too young and inexperienced for the work.” He didn’t attend it to be an insult though it might have come off like it. To him, it was a simple fact of reality. “We need an inside look at their government, and this is an opportunity for it.”

Ingrid took a sip from her tea in silence, not letting the words of the elf phase her, though she did raise an eyebrow towards him. “Could you perhaps specify what you mean? This new Sultan is going to put up a face during this. What he says during that event, likely will not reflect his actual views.” She put down her tea cup again and sat down in her chair, as she gave Dotseth a curious look.

“Putting on a face is an act of information of itself, what he wants the world to see and what he says to world leaders. No one ever asks for something directly unless they are desperate or a fool. It is what he is not going to say, the mood from his various servants and family about what he says in front of everyone. He can say one thing but if there is a look of disapproval from his family it is information that we don’t have yet.” He places both his hands on his cane. “Not to mention the mood of the city itself, they can show pretty pictures but the more one hides. The more they are clearly hiding from reality of the situation.”

“Certainly are showing your experience.” She said to herself with a small chuckle. She turned towards her prime minister. “What is your opinion on this Miss Engebretsen?”

The kemonomimi prime minister thought for a moment, “It certainly would be less of an issue sending him rather than either one of us to it. As you said, he doesn’t lack the experience to do as he asks. Though I am still skeptical of sending anyone to Packilvania when we told our allies to distance Nystatiszna from them.”

Dotseth simply replied, “I have been working for Nystatiszna before your great-grandmother was even born.” He left out the part where he was the one to cut her life short, “I am more than able to perform my duty once more.” He turns to the prime minister, “If we wish to distance ourselves, it’s better to find faults with them rather than cut them outright to dry. Faults I can find there.”

“It could also be argued that sending Mister Dotseth instead of either of us would be quite an important signal to both our allies and Packilvania themselves.” She said tapping her finger on the desk as she thought a bit more on it. “Alright, you have my approval to go to Packilvania. Knowing you I already know I don’t need to tell you to keep them at an arm’s length and not make any deals without my input.”

“Noted.” He paused for a moment, “You think they would have noticed if I arrived in the same coat that I wore last time I was in Bingol?” It almost sounded like a joke, but in reality. It was his only summer’s coat he owns.

“I doubt anyone there is old enough to remember you even being there.” She let out a small chuckle as she once more took a sip from her tea.

Victoria spoke up, “Are you taking an assistant with you? You’re getting old, and will need assistance to move around.” It was a direct but polite insult towards the elderly Zrei. “Last thing we need is you to suffer a fall there and cause an incident and fail to do your work.”

Dotseth raised an eyebrow at the Kemonomimi, then towards Ingrid. “I don’t believe that is required. I have my cane.”

“You’re getting a nurse.” Ingrid said simply as she put down her cup.

“I don’t nee-” The Zrei was interrupted by the young leader.

“You’re getting a nurse.” She said once more as she stared at him, no longer having any form of smile on her lips.

“By orders of the Matriarch I suppose then.” Dotseth stood up, weighing heavily on his cane and took his leave.

To his Imperial Royalty of Thumin V, Sultan of Packilvania; and the Duchess Saga.

On behalf of the Akuan State of Nystatiszna, we wish you a joyful and prosperous wedding and coronation. We further affirm our wishes with an acceptance of your invitation and will look forward to furthering our relations with our nations.

Sign, Viktor von Dotseth

Director of the Nystatiszna Intelligence Bureau,
Second Signer of the Declaration of Independence of Nystatiszna,
Chair of the Imperial People’s Fund,
Adviser to the Fyllikenkrasjlander, Matriarch Ingrid the Reclaimer; Enshrined Spirit of Borea.


Bingol Royal Palace, Bingol, Packilvania.
23 January 2023.

As leaders from across the world were arriving after sending in their letters of well wishes, Sultana Mebri and her staff at the Imperial Court were making the final touches to the seating plan to be used at the wedding ceremony, coronation and state banquet.

“Hmm. Is Ingrid, the Matriarch of Nashtahan not attending?”, Mebri asked her protocol assistant.

He looked over the names on his list and answered, “I see that Dotseth is coming in her place”.

“Seems rather bizarre, I would have expected Ingrid to come. I daresay she puts Novren’s interests above Nashtahan’s”, Mebri said.

He assistant replied, “I would not be surprised. She is to be the Queen of Novren when Olav’s reign ends and we all know which of her roles she considers the greater”.

“I see we also have guests from Thraan! Imagine we have the pleasure of hosting both King Aelfric and Prime Minister Eorfowine. On top of that, Queen Ulrike of Almark, and Queen Halein of Aknahan! And Astaal even sent Ministers Iona Reo and Icina Messo. Another bizarre choice”, Mebri stated.

Her assistant replied, “One would think that a nation would try to send representatives to an international level who are on the same diplomatic and strategic level. To each their own”.

“Yes, indeed. It seems the Chieftain of the Obscure Isles will be here with his Prime Minister. Quite the crowd”, she said, “Well, we must get ready. I have already given Saga her tiara and she seems ready to go. Call the Duchess of Khashar and found out how things are going on her end”.

“So much to do!” proclaimed the Duchess of Khashar, the Junior Minister for Imperial Affairs.

She was responsible for helping Sultana Mebri organise the wedding and the Coronation. Unfortunately, due to the unexpected Cabinet reshuffle that saw Princess Abdina, her predecessor, promoted to the Cabinet, she did not have time to acclimatise herself to the role Nevertheless, she bit into the monumental task of managing the security and logistics of foreign dignitaries and the thousands of people from both Packilvania and other nations who would be in attendance.

“Sultan Thumim V”, she said as she knocked on the door of the chamber in which the Sultan was getting ready. “Sir!”

As she knocked, the door flew open and her dad, Prince Luwadeen stood before her with an amused smile on his face.

“Relax my darling”, he said, “The Sultan and his groomsmen are almost ready”.

“Alright, father”, she said, “I need you to start making your way within 5 minutes. The ring-bearers, the Supreme Magister and the VIPs are all gathering at the Temple of the Authority”.

“Yes, my darling, I know that”, he said with a chuckle, “I will let him know. You’re doing a great job!”

“Thank you, father”, she said, pleased with his report.

Sultan Thumim was to wear a white turban (wrapped headscarf) , a black bisht (cloak) and a white thobe (robe) while the groomsmen donned white harem pants and knee-length version of the thobe known as a kurtha. They also wore turbans on their heads, the Packilvanian equivalent of a top-hat.

They were to travel to the venue in a procession of luxurious black Audelli sedans. Other dignitaries were ferried in a mixture of open-roof vintage Velox and Audelli cars so they could wave to the crowds of people gathered along the processional route from the Palace to the Temple.

Not missing a beat, Thumim and the others made it out in 5 minutes. They would most likely wait another thirty minutes for Saga to make her way to the Temple. Despite clearing the streets to give Saga the right of way, logistics and physics seemed to work against them. I was no matter – the nation and the whole world would wait for the most beautiful bride on the planet that day.

Sultana Mebri knocked on the door of Saga’s Chambers after getting feedback from the Duchess that the groom’s party had already departed.

“Saga”, she asked, “Are you and your bride’s maids and flower girls ready to go?”


(Joint post with Cowlass the self-acclaimed greatest)

The car ride from the airport to the temple was just as silent as the plane ride was. Not that the Director minds it, though he wished his ‘assistant’ would stop fidgeting. He hasn’t spoken a word to her, yet she acts like he’s going to strangle her in the car. He was wearing his traditional uniform of the NIB, which means all black suit with a black leather coat. Same leather coat he wore last time was in Packilvania, making this coat quite literally older than everyone in this car besides him. He has his somewhat infamous black peaked cap with the metal of the Nystatiszna Intelligence Bureau symbol on it. Of course he was dressed far too warmly for the country’s weather then again, he is always too cold or too hot nowadays.

His eyes glazed outside of the window, looking at Bingol remembering the last times he was here. Seeing how things have changed, how many people are around and what they are wearing. Questions being answered in his own checklist of numerous things to observe. For some demented reason his assistant spoke up, speaking in Vaaran tongue the trio all shared it as their lingua franca. “D-do you want me to request the driver to turn down the AC more Mr. Director Dotseth?”

“Director Dotseth or Mr Dotseth.” He responded in a flat tone to the cowering kemonomimi. Did he threaten her family at some point? Thinking for a moment, he almost certainly did at some point. “You may request the AC to be lower. If that is tolerable for our Kæra associate.”

Ryz’alf simply nodded, the Kæra diplomat barely taking her eyes off the Packilvanian phrasebook she had been trying to make sense of. It was difficult enough going from one language to another when the former wasn’t your third language, but she was never one to complain. “The temperature likely does not go as far as any of us would like, but we are content to follow your preference, Dotseth-Tsøka.” She was still in the uniform of the Øfesak, though had found it far too uncomfortable to keep the usual Koivistolainen on in such heat. The uniform was dressed for Northeastern Borea, after all, and the idea of purchasing new clothes for such a seemingly-frivolous occasion seemed entirely wasteful.

His annoying assistant tapped on the driver’s window, speaking quietly in poor Packilvanian. Much to the annoyance of Dotseth, who corrected her pronunciation instead of allowing her to continue butchering it. The AC was lowered, though the change wasn’t really affecting the car’s temperature. It was still far too warm in there.

His assistant spoke up once again, for some odd reason trying to have a conversation. “It’s been awhile Ryz’alf. How have you been?” She said in that annoying soft tone of hers. Could she not at least pretend to have a spine when she speaks?

“All is in order, as ever, Slovkry-Øfesak,” Ryz’alf responded in the usual flat tone that had become expected of her, “We are glad to have been done with the fuss over Toryne’yn. For now.” She flipped through the phrasebook, though seemed to take more interest in what the Nekomimi had to say than the usual standards for Kæra, “Slightly annoyed that we were told to represent our nation at this… what did they describe it as on television? Right, funeral with cake. Whatever a funeral is.”

Slovkry gave a pout, “It’s a wedding Ryz’alf, remember? Still haven’t forgiven you for smashing the cake with a knife by the way.”

The director thought about simply asking the car to pull over and walk the rest of the way to the temple rather than listen to this high-school drama. Though he held himself off from that, speaking up. “It is a wedding, think of it as a union between two people to combine their power and produce offspring to continue their lineage. Coronation is the transfer of power from the previous leader to the new one, this one being Thumim V.”

“We know what a wedding was, we stabbed a cake during one-” Ryz’alf replied, blankly as she remembered being handed a knife by someone who should have frankly known better.

“You didn’t stab it, you murdered it.” Slovkry stared at Ryz’alf, “My wife and I spent a lot of time on it for you to just smash apart.”

“We used the knife you gave us, what did you expect us to do with it?” Ryz’alf replied, annoyed at the notion that it was somehow her fault that the giant structure of food that was constructed in some testament to personal hubris amongst people who seemed to die out in droves from starvation every other week, was intended not to be put in a more efficient form to disperse, “Besides, our point was, before we were interrupted, that weddings are given much more purpose than necessary. The two should just fornicate and be done with it. At least then they would actually be doing something productive.”

“You forget the second and third purpose of the wedding. It is an ability to gather various influential people under the guise of the event to negotiate terms, treaties and such. Third reason, to project an image of wealth and stability within the country as well without the country. Doing so under the guise of a wedding lends to having an idea of a ‘new’ regime which is open to new deals while trying to disguise the old regime policies.” Dotseth spoke with a flat tone, still looking outside of the window. “It is a dressed up diplomatic meeting that happens to serve cake.” He thinks for a moment, wondering if the Packilvanian has a vegan menu.

“Right. We are sure we will have great chances to experience the Pak’sa ability to engage in diplomacy from our storied history of well-wishes between the two states,” Ryz’alf noted bitterly the most she heard of Packilvania more so focused on its complicity in the Great War and its violation of sovereignty that her superiors had been goaded into caring about. It was not the diplomacy she held disdain for, however. It was the dressing up and formalities, the lavish displays of vapid wealth and opulent lifestyles while the Packilvanian people were made to suffer greatly for their society’s lunacy. Such a waste was abhorrent, and yet here she was, dragged along and expected to make nice with the enemy.

“Weddings are always a nice thing to see. You think because Nystatiszna are allies to Packilvaniszna we will get good seats?” Slovkry tilted her head and asked the old Zrei elf.

“First, there are no allies, only temporary benefactors. Second, do mention their Nys’tat’en name to them. They have an ego problem, and they will take offense to it.” Dotseth gave Slovkry a strong look which made her turn head away from him. “You are not to speak to them unless I give you permission too.” The kemonomimi gave a nod, not wanting to accidentally offend anyone at the party.

“Probably for the best, we imagine,” Ryz’alf added. Slovkry had a tendency to be rather… emotional about certain things that could cloud her judgment, and her odd quirks were not universally endearing, besides what that- Besides what Torstein had expressed. There was of a part of her that would have usually objected to such cold remarks towards her friend, but she had found Slovkry to have gotten more on her nerves than usual today, “The idea of allies beyond those which share strategic goals is one of those liberal concepts we struggle to grasp the benefit of.”

“There is no benefit besides strategic goals.” Dotseth agreed, “Every nation is a selfish actor and could care less about ideals when an opportunity shows itself.”

Slovkry fixed her tie again, looking outside of the window. “I can see the temple, it’s huge! You could fit like ten thousand beds in there.” Her eyes widened looking at it.

“Fifteen thousand if you were to stack them efficiently enough. There would likely be some issue with transporting the people to their assigned beds, but it would be workable on a rotor system.” Ryz’alf noted, making some vague estimations of how one might lay out such a place in such a fashion, “At least in that case, the structure may actually see some function.” Ryz’alf leered at the temple, a huge monument for people with nothing better to do in their lives that worship what would not save them. There was something to be said of those who could use faith as a motivator, but this absolute decadent pile of missed potential was faith at its worst. At least the Cardinials do not try and construct massive, pointless mounds of metal, wood and clay to signify their absolutely mindless stupidity. Imagining the work hours put in, the money spent and the amount that could have been produced with those materials made Ryz’alf a little sick. What use is a show of appreciation to some fiction to a man who dies out alone in the cold without a bed to sleep on?

Dotseth thinks back to some of his old plans and schemes, thinking out loud in a somewhat low tone but still enough for the two to hear. “Five trucks minimum, fully loaded with fertilizer though it would get stopped at some point. Two planes could do the same job though that raises the concern of air control. Simple dirty bomb can do the same job of terror without the risk and planning required to destroy it completely as well as keep the target around for future attacks.” He looks towards the temple, “Then again, if you only take out the center building, it would do enough structure damage to the other buildings built around it to force them to rebuild all together which can do a similar enough job.”

There was a soft, almost inaudible chuckle from Ryz’alf - one of the very few times in her life she had been heard to do so. She seemed to be taking notes on the strategies mentioned, for her amusement if nothing else, “We certainly would imagine the damage to the overall structure caused by a blast directed correctly within the central building would be sight to behold. It somewhat reminds us of watching the man who produced us test different shells on one of the former Ry’uk settlements that had been cleared in the 1870s. We would try and see if we could find the load-bearing targets and point them out for him. That was one of the things I taught some of the older trainees when we were in the Auxiliary Corps.” Ryz’alf had a strong twisted sentimentality towards such affairs in her past, the time spent in the Young Men’s Auxiliary Corps having done much to shape her views of how the world functioned - and the incredible sight it was to see such things fall apart in flames.

“You don’t want to hit it with artillery, unless you are certain you can fire multiple rounds. If you look at the roofing, it’s metal. It is not completely blast resistant but it wouldn’t be as seeable, which would be the primary objective. You want to blow it up from the inside preferably by the support pillars and structure support beams to maximize the destruction of it. The goal is to spread terror and fear, while making it costly to repair. A roof could easily be replaced but blowing the structural support would prove to be a challenge to scavenge the rest of the building to rebuild. So you’re able to increase the amount of damage and cost without risking establishing a position. Not to mention the decreased risk of having only a small team and locally sourced materials compared to smuggling in the needed pieces and specialized team for it.” Dotseth didn’t even flinch when he spoke, not thinking twice about destroying a structure of such importance. “Though of course it comes with its own risks, but it’s more cost effective than other options.”

Slovkry speaks up “Perhaps this is a bad topic…” She says in a low, quiet tone, looking towards Ryz’alf, who simply stared daggers back as if to tell her to be quiet.

“Absolutely, the use of covert operations to lay out the proper mechanisms for detonation would be the optimal method, and the size of this city assures access to a wide array of potential options for anything from chemical reactants to more exciting unstable, rudimentary explosives. Obviously it would strike a fair bit more fear and panic should the building be occupied during the detonation - granting both the possibility for the creation of vacancies in key positions, as well as creating further mass panic amongst the general populace. Of course, such a matter was heavily risk-reward, with events such as these the prime opportunity for disruption yet the time in which security would be most observant.” As much as she seemed to share the same absence of bother by the topic, Ryz’alf took it one further, a glint of excitement in her eyes as she thought of the whole interaction between detonation and the post-collapse paranoia.

Dotseth gave a nod, “The city layout is ridiculous in terms of security. It’s why I made sure cities in Nystatiszna were easily isolatable block by block.” The car finally arrived at the temple, he gave a simple look at Slovkry as the car parked.

Slovkry stepped out first to help the elderly Zrei elf out of the car. The hot sun barraging him with heat, he put on his hat and leaned heavily on his cane. Looking at the stairs, he cursed silently in Nys’tat’en. Slovkry placed her arm around his to help carry weight as they moved forward.

Ryz’alf took a deep breath as she stepped out into the scorching heat, placing the unsuited felt hat back upon her head to at least shield her eyes from the sun. There was a slight look of disappointment on her face as she watched the infamous Dotseth reduced to such a state, relying on a Nekomimi of all things. Perhaps this was what it was to only be a strong leader by Nystatinne standards, perhaps it was just the age catching up to him after a storied life. Either way it felt a bit pathetic for someone of his reputation. He had surely overcome greater comparative hurdles in his life than some good-for-nothing steps - and yet they had not made him look so inferior.

Ryz’alf kept her thoughts to herself as she walked past them up to the top of the stairs, the leather-footed boots of her uniform making their iconic noise to make her presence known. She did this not only out of the respect she did maintain for an elf who was known to have kept order over the loose-minded people of Nystatiszna for an extended period, but mostly out of her obligation. She knew it was unlikely she would get any interesting conversation from this lackadaisical farce, so it was at least worth keeping on Dotseth’s good side for the drive back.

As she reached the top of the steps, Ryz’alf glanced back at Dotseth and her friend supporting him. It was a shame really, he had lived long enough that the concern for her was not that he might have her executed, but she might not get to hear the old man tell stories of when he was able to intimidate people such as Ryz’alf.

Dotseth didn’t even notice Ryz’alf walking past him. His age forces him to focus on the damned steps. He is 133 years old, in a country where life expectancy is only 80 for elves and that would be ignoring the fact most Zrei elves only live to an average of 110 years. Death has forgotten his number but age sure as hell didn’t forget about him. He struggles with each step, by the spirits whoever made this temple should be shot. If he was younger, and had the time, he probably would have. It didn’t help that his ‘assistant’ was being incredibly annoying and condescending with her little “Okay, up one, two, three.” At each of these accursed steps.

Finally reaching the top of the stairs, he gave a heavy sigh. Making a motion with his hand to get inside and find him a damned seat.


“I tell you, the thing is off-center.”

“It would not be if you left it alone,” Zamira said drily without sparing the Duchess a second glance. Saga muttered an Älemsi curse so unprintable that the Governor’s face paled, and moved to adjust the tiara again. A red bridal veil and scarf was to run down from there, before giving way to a dress of crimson, silver, and emerald green patterning.

Heavy lies the head indeed…

Tshk, leave it,” Zamira got to her feet and motioned for the Duchess to stand still. With expert precision she corrected the crown and rewrapped the scarf. “There,” she said, “Trouble it again and I’ll begin to think the Duchess of Tynam is growing nervous before her own wedding.”.

Saga snorted in amusement, “That, I would not hear the end of.”

“You would not,” Zamira agreed, “So sit yourself still.”

Saga made a dismissive gesture, and paced over to a window.

“I have not yet thanked you properly,” she said softly, “For coming all this way.”

“Thank the food,” the Governor responded, “And the weather. I’m missing a blizzard back home.”

Saga laughed, then stopped. “I do mean it,” she said, her words sincere, “Thank you.”

The Governor smirked, “You did not really think I would miss such an occasion?” she asked, “All of Gazny Khot rejoices to know that you will stay far away now. Old Arinasai still remembers what you and Timour did to his poor chickens…”

Without a word, Saga had crossed the room and held the Governor in a tight embrace.

“Oi,” Zamira complained, “I’ll take your head before I fix that ridiculous veil again…”

“What’s an extra ten-thousand kilometers or so, eh?” the Duchess grinned. The Governor finally reciprocated.

“If you cry, you will truly hear no end of it,” Zamira warned.

Saga barked out a laugh and let her cousin go, “Fear not, you’ll squeeze no tears from this stone today.”

A knock came at the door, and then Mebri’s voice.

“Best you deal with that,” Zamira said, “I’ll see that the rest of this little Kheshig of yours is ready to go.”

The Governor vanished to see to the rest, and Saga spared one last glance at the mirror before swinging the door open.

“Sultana,” the Duchess nodded. She shot a look behind her, where Zamira briefly reappeared to make an affirmative gesture.

“We are ready," Saga motioned ahead, “Shall we?”


Temple of the Authority, Bingol, Packilvania.
23 January 2023.

Thumim and his groomsmen arrived at the Majhid aluSuvraanishme, the seat of the Makhees muMakhnifiya, his grandfather, Tawak VII. This temple or majhid as it was known in Packilvanian, was one of three places of worship, the others being the Temple of the Restoration and the Memorial of the Jovian Gate, which were built to commemorate significant events in the history of Paxism. The Majhid aluSuvraanishme was begun by High King Melkezedek the Great but completed by High King Thumim IV. It was thus apt that his wedding would be taking place at this prestigious and deeply sacred venue.

It was extremely rare for foreigners and non-believers to be permitted to enter the sacred halls of this over 1,000-year-old complex. Hosting the wedding at this site had been an issue of contention that required the College of Great Magisters to resolve. A red carpet had been set to mark the path of the procession of the foreign dignitaries to designated covered pavilions in the Melkezedek the Great Courtyard. This massive courtyard housed tens of thousands of people.

The actual wedding ceremony took place in the Hall of the King Uden I Sacrificial Pyre where sacred rituals were conducted. The foreigners and the rest of the crowd would be able to see the events unfolding through the large archways. LED TV displays were placed throughout the Melkezedek the Great Courtyard to enable anyone who struggled to see to catch a glimpse of the ceremonies.

Only members of the imperial family, close Paxist friends and the clergy were permitted to enter the Sacrificial Pyre. It had several large bronze altars, richly decorated with carvings of plants and geometric patterns, set on a raised area like a stage. Two stools had been set for the couple to sit next to the throne of the Makhees muMakhnifiya during the long and intricate marital ceremony.

Before entering the rest of the building, all believers and non-believers would be required to perform ablution i.e., to wash their hands with water in the King Rulhan I Ablution Hall. This was an important right and entry would not be granted until it was performed. Foreign dignitaries had special vessels of white bronze set aside in close proximity to the grandstands where they would be seated.

Commentators would name the prestigious guest, describe their warddrobe and give a brief background of who they were as giant cameras mounted on huge moving metal structures gave billions of people who were unable to attend the event a glimpse into the occasion over television and online streaming. A huge temporary booth of translators helped to give those who did not speak Packilvanian an understanding of what was being said.

Soldiers and plain-clothes security agents lined the perimetre and were scattered throughout the interior of the venue. CCTV cameras looked over the people like crows from the ceilings and walls, using facial recognition technology to ensure that would-be terrorists, criminals and uninvited guests remained at bay. The building’s white and grey exterior shone in the sun of Bingol.

As the guests finished entering, the cavalcade of cars that ferried the Sultan and his groomsmen processed down the road from the Bingol Royal Palace to the Temple. The crowds roared as people leapt up in frenzied excitement. Thumim dressed in his thobe, bisht and turban tried to wave, smile and sometimes shake their hands as his vehicle moved at an incredibly slow pace. Despite the attempted assassination at the end of last year, he refused to sit in a bullet-proof glass case. As such, the State Security ministry had ordered buildings from which a sniper would fire their weapon to be cleared of people and all the crowds passed through checkpoints and had their identity cards checked by security personnel.

Drones flew above and watched the people on the ground. Even threats from above were mitigated with the entire airspace being cleared except for the military. The threat, nay, promise, of being shot down was seen as an adequate deterrent.

As the attendees were seated, Thumim performed ablution and walked across the red carpet to the Sacrificial Pyre. The crowds of people exploded into cheers.

muShultan mudonha luYasteriya” (‘The Sultan rules the World’) belted a chorus of a few thousand on one end of the courtyard. “muShultan muhayhal yelukhulud” (‘The Sultan shall live forever!’)

The sound was so great that some guests closed their ears. Thumim then passed the foreign dignitaries and tried to greet those who sat in the front. These were often those he knew personally and liked or who were the strongest allies of the country. He then passed to the Sacrificial Pyre via the central aisle, greeted his grandfather and sat patiently waiting for the future Sultana to arrive.


Scheherazade stepped out of the limousine that transported her from the hotel to the temple. All decked out in her gown, designed by the legendary Aaliyah Bakir in collaboration with the dressmaker Azadeh Hashemi. Her heels are made by the best shoemakers in the country and her jewelry is that of Emira Soraya, her great grand aunt. As she walked closer to the entrance, a photographer took a photo of her. Indeed what she was wearing was scandalous in the eyes of the Packilvanians, but it was to be all covered up soon with the silk coral chandor she brought with her.

As she reached the entrance, her assistant, already dressed in the appropriate attire for the wedding, helped the Emira wrap herself in the chandor, placing it over her head and fastening it together under her face with an elaborate broach.

She entered, her chest out and her head high, truly, a confident monarch, one that’s an example to many young people back home.

She was guided to the Pavilion located in the Melkezedek the Great Courtyard, awaiting for the event.