Queen of Light
The image of Viros broke across the horizon of the travelers path. The seal wall of the mighty city with its numerous towers reached up into the sky like the outstretched talons of some colossal beast. The sheer planks of red and black timber over dauntless plate metal could be seen for leagues across the flat open terrain. The spectacle of the city was a formidable one. Though the opulent grandeur of the barrier that surrounded Viros was wasted on Dimona Odinstar.
Dimona loathed leaving her city of Rayward behind. More so she despised travel across open ground where the chimera roamed freely. Most of all she hated the notion of dealing with the Redmoon siblings. The Rayward queen felt a measure of animosity for the way the Vermillion Council fawned over Moses, Ester and Noah. She was older than all of them combined but the brothers of the council could only see the fact that the Redmoons were three and every other city only had but one, if that, of those who could wiled great magic like the children of Viros.
“We will be within the protective circle of Viros’s seal wall within a day,” said Father Pauls after he finished craning his neck out the window of Dimona’s royal coach.
The Vermillion Councilman sitting on the other side of the splendid gold and silver carriage seemed to be infinitely pleased with himself. Dimona could not begin to fathom what the portly little man had to be proud of. She rather abhorred having to answer to the beck and call of those clad in the scarlet of the council. Not that they were overly disrespectful but it just struck Dimona as a subversion of the natural order that those of her kind should answer to simple mortals. Mundane men and women would never see the kinds of things that Dimona would or accomplish mighty feats like she had. The warrior queen felt the impending arrival in Viros only exacerbate her longing for the familiarity of Rayward and the proper deference that it’s people showed her.
“Again I have not the faintest idea why the council had to select Viros for this meeting. We could have just as well served whatever purpose your Father Abbot desired within the boundaries of Raywayd,” Dimona said with bitterness that was only thinly concealed by her regal bearing and statesmanship.
Father Pauls grinned smugly. It was plain to see that he delighted in lording the power of his station over a woman who could kill him by merely lifting a finger. “As I said before we left your city, it only makes sense to hold our conclave in Viros. The location is central enough so all great cites can reach it with relative ease,” said the Councilman with a tone that was arguably patronizing.
The Rayward queen pursed her lips and held back the hot and raw comment that she desperately wanted to let fly at the crimson cloaked man. Instead she exercised some of her soldier’s discipline and rapidly worked to refine the comment into something that demonstrated a far greater measure of civility. “I have lost twelve of my knights to chimera ambushes as we have made the crossing from Rayward. It that what you call relative ease?” Dimona said as she kept each muscle in her face taut so her mouth would not sneer at the Councilman as she spoke.
The venerable Councilman turned his head but not fully enough to prevent Dimona from glimpsing the arrogant roll of his eyes that he tried to hide. “And the Council has lost at least three times that number of our Amurai in the expedition. I assure you that when you see what awaits you in Viros the cost laid down in the lives of brave fighting men will be worthwhile,” responded Father Pauls with a tone that he was also having a challenge to keep polite and cordial.
Dimona bit back the argumentative comment she reflexively wished to slap the man in the face with. Instead she returned her attention to the precession of armored escorts outside of her coach. The shining and polished armor of her Rayward knights never failed to fill her heart with brimming pride. She delighted in seeing the side by side visual of Amurai warrior and Rayward knight. The pride and bearing of her men-at-arms put even the imposing presence of the Vermillion Council’s elite soldiers to shame. Dimona looked at the grizzled and vaguely feral quality of the Amurai who rode next to the coach. The armored hound was as an appropriate a crest for the Amurai as she could think of. The men and women clad in the hound’s sigil gave the impression of guard dogs more than proper soldiers. Still Dimona was not so foolish as to be caught by appearances along. Despite their comparatively unkempt quality, she knew the Armurai were a match for any army of men that marched upon the face of Argaia.
After some thought and reflection on Father Pauls last remark Dimona formed a response that was courteous but passive aggressive enough to allow her objection of the venue to persist. “You make it seem like I am unaware of what lies in Viros. I am well acquainted with the Redmoons. I have memories of cradling them in my arms whey they were but babes, oh so long ago,” Dimona said as she worked to return her face to a composed expression of dignity and nobility.
While Dimona worked to mask her emotions the Councilman made no effort to conceal his jubilance at the evident discomfort of the Rayward queen “Oh, your majesty I can assure you that you have only scarcely seen the likes of what is currently housed behind the seal wall just ahead. As far as your history with the Redmoons, the three favored children of Viros have not forgotten that you are their elder or royalty for that matter. I just would not expect them to show you the kind of respect you demand from those who serve you. No man or woman walking commands proper admiration from them. It is part of their charm I would say,” said the Councilman in a pretentiously repugnant fashion.
Dimona narrowed her eyes and stared a viper’s gaze at the man in red. “Your definition of charm is as peculiar as what you consider relatively easy,” she said coldly.
“I should think that you would be more concerned with the manner and tact of the Iron Lord more so than the Redmoons. I imagine that Coal Roarkwin will not be excited to see you leading Rayward men into Viros,” responded the Councilman with an unapologetic smile.
Dimona had to force her words to come out as less than a suppressed exclamation. “The Iron Lord is in the city? I did not think it possible to have any lower hopes for my time spent in Viros. Now I see I was wrong,” Dimona said with a bitter quality.
“I know you and Coal Roarkwin have a sordid history that is worthy of its own conclave. At least consider this about your objections to holding the formalities in Viros as opposed to Rayward. This way you will not have to open your gates and hospitality to your oldest rival. And I am sure that The Iron Lord feels similarly about not having to dine on Rayward food or sleep in Rayward beds,” said the Councilman with subtle glee.
“At least,” Dimona softly echoed as she turned her striking eyes once more towards the grand spectacle of Viros’s approaching seal wall. She leaned back and began to dive into her memories of a rivalry that spanned several mortal lifetimes. Dimona occupied the rest of the trip with the search for the perfect insults to cast at Coal Roarkwin when she next saw him.