“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
***Kingdom Newerth, Capital City***
Just let it be over. Why are we the ones who have to talk to these people? They want to have treaties, trade agreements, jurisdictional agreements... nothing of that is important right now. Upon taking a look at my wristwatch, I realize that I have been listening to their bickering for three hours. In my opinion there are better activities to kill time. We could talk about possible ways to fight our enemies. Or I could have some alone time with Seria.
We’ve led our guests to one of the conference rooms. Looking up, I survey the room. All of us are arranged around a large, round table. The rest of the room is empty, except for two huge guards at the door. The two of them are somehow managing to still look threatening instead of bored. Professionals. I bet they could stand around for a whole day and still look like they are performing the most important task in the world.
An ambassador from the realm of Hoo is talking about something, but I am zoning out his voice completely. He is a large, wiry man and normally that would draw attention and impress his audience. Sadly, his voice and manner of speaking create the strong wish to take a nap. He is also one of the idiots who would rather speak of everything except taking the fight to the enemy. It seems like he is more interested in the relationship between the realms, than in the spirit problem.
I've my bets on three other people whom I identified as the main players in this conference. Of course it's hard to judge the power levels of the various realms. All we have so far, are some vague impressions from our agents and the word of the ambassadors that they represent a significant power in their realm. So what I am trying to do right now, is to judge the attitude of our guests. That means that the guy from Hoo is a total let-down. He honestly seems to think that the spirits are some kind of weather phenomenon.
The first guy of any importance is the imp who provoked us earlier. If he is a prime example of his people, then they are up for a fight. I don't like his attitude towards us, but it's far better than having to deal with a merchant. It's too bad that the spirits did such a good job in painting themselves as some kind of natural fact of life. Half of the assembly seems to think that we intend to stop the weather from changing.
Right now we are interested in short term assistance, so I am inclined to take all the help we can get and kick out everyone else. It feels like a waste of my time to open their eyes. I am sure that we have a lot of unimportant people who have all the time in the world to listen to our guest’s verbal outbursts. Once they realise that the spirits are a real threat, they will come around fast enough.
Then there is Nahal's ambassador. She is a real feast for the eyes with her curvy body. A whole head shorter than Seria, she is still a nicely shaped woman with chestnut hair. But wilful as heck. She even managed to glare down the imp when he tried to cut into her speech time by overrunning his own time limit.
The last person who we should look out for is an average looking, blonde guy who didn't say much so far. He doesn't show off his spirit form either. All I can use to judge him is the fact that he sneered at several of the ambassadors who are on the merchant side. He is clearly not of their opinion, which means that he is at least neutral. Our agent also reported that Blond's realm is a high-tech civilisation. Apparently they chose to protect themselves by advancing as rapidly as possible. They live in mega cities which are protected by high walls to keep the spirit plague outside.
There must have been a point in their past when they didn't manage to stop a spirit invasion in its first stages. So the spirits are now roaming most of the land while the people are hiding in their artificial strongholds. A similar scenario happened to Dedessia, just that their realm seems to have more than enough resources. Luckily my realm didn’t have to share their fate.
When it’s clear that the current speaker said everything he had to say, Seria gets up and claps her hands together. “Wonderful.”
Was that that sarcasm I heard in her voice?
“I think now that everyone voiced his or her opinion, we can finally take a break. We’ve prepared quarters for all of you. And you can send messages back home if you wish to do so. If you still have questions, we can talk about it in the next room where we’ve food and drinks for everyone.”
Perfect! It’s as good as over. I get up and follow Seria with all the others to the neighbouring room where the staff has prepared a buffet. Only, someone is already there, her plate loaded with the best treats the buffet has to offer.
Elona turns around and scans the incoming crowd, chewing on a meat-stick. She smiles and waves the stick upon recognizing us. “I’ve made it! Aren’t you two glad that I decided not to leave you two to the wolves?”
Seria approaches her mother with quick steps and hisses, “Mom, where have you been? We had to listen to all of their problems while you hid somewhere. And where is Shade?” Before Elona can answer, Seria turns around and addresses the crowd, “Seems like another person of high rank managed to make it. Let me introduce my mother, Elona, queen of Dedessia.”
Nobody says a word while Elona lets her eyes wander over the ambassadors. Then her expression turns smug. “Some of you might know me as Celes. And I know at least one of you. I am so glad that we meet again.”
Most of our guests look confused, but some gasp, remembering the name. Only one person tries to slowly flow away from us to hide behind the others. It’s the small bombshell from Nahal.
Elona purses her lips, faking a hurt expression. “Lidith, why are you hiding, aren’t we friends? We could have a big reunion with Jazira.”
The busty bombshell from Nahal shoves the two ambassadors apart who she used as a shield. Then she stalks towards Elona, her blue skirt swaying with each step. “You! How did you recognize me!? I never mentioned my identity to anyone and I was extra careful to hide my aura! Oh, by the gods! He is also here, isn’t he? If you are here, then he has to be! He already invaded my mind or something like that. Is he searching my memories or what? Am I already bound to some operating table? Is all of this an illusion? I hoped I would be rid of you two!”
Elona soothes the agitated woman by petting her head. “No. Don’t worry. I watched the whole meeting over the security cameras and your skittish behaviour was familiar, so I used some of his devices to verify my suspicions. He doesn’t know, yet.” Then Elona ruffles the woman’s long hair and rearranges it with both hands. “You know… I really miss those cat ears of yours. They really suited you. Do you mind if I change that?”
… and that led to our first diplomatic incident. Busty jumps at Elona, both hands at her throat in an attempt to choke her. Of course Seria and I hurry to pull the two of them apart, but it turns out that it isn’t that easy, given that both opponents are divines.
At least the others don’t add to the problem by joining the fray.