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In ancient Rem, the City of the Forgotten God, the hot Summer rains of the day were done. The tall towers of that city were washed clean, at least as clean as mere water could make them. What filth and dust there was had run to the streets and gutters below, to evaporate into the miasma that suffused the lower precincts.An unclouded moon had risen, over a desert and city that kept no warmth. The night was chill- and colder things were afoot.
Banest, Queen of Rem, looked out over her city from the window of her throne room. Located in the highest tower of the city, the throne room took up the entire width of the building, the private quarters above supported by mighty columns that ringed the room, creating windows between the supports.
The Queen shivered, and pulled her wrap closer around her body. Oh, my city, the Queen thought, gazing down at the streets and squares she had known since birth. What serpents you hold to your breast.
She heard a noise coming from the grand stairway that led to the throne room. She turned and strode to the throne in the center of the room on its raised dais, past the banners and draperies that lined the outer territory of the throne room, that created the necessary space for intrigue and discretion that courts thrived upon.
She did not run. She did not hurry. Even for rack and ruin, queens did not hurry. And while she might, in rare private moments, allow herself to luxury of forgetting to be a queen, she could not afford to do so now. Banest took her place on the throne, and assumed a pose as regal and as ruthless as an eagle. She would need every ounce of the terrible power rulership gave her, tonight.Aside from the echoing footsteps coming up the stairway, the throne room was quiet as a grave. It was empty of the normal hubbub of courtiers, nobility, and servants, that would normally be attracted when the queen took her seat as wolves to a tethered goat. This was a secret meeting, held at an hour for secrets. The number of people who knew of it were small, and at the first sign of gossip, would grow violently smaller.
The procession entered the throne room. Four royal guards, her best and most discreet, marched to the throne and stopped at attention. Each was dressed in the uniform of the Royal Guard of Rem, with the addition of a pendant each wore, a round purple stone on a steel chain. The Queen wore a copy of the pendant, of finer steel and enhanced with gold filigree.
In the middle of the guards stood the purpose of this secret meeting, the man who was here to see the queen. The expression on his face indicated quite clearly that it was not an audience he sought, and was rather annoyed by it.