“So he was named after his father, the admittedly short-lived Arsenius, who is otherwise unknown to us, having been stricken from ritual musters that were largely destroyed in the tumult that followed.”
Spitting out the wind from an interminable gust pouring through the streets he replied only, “Is that right?”
“And, like a dagger rising out of the south, he led a combined force of the Szchellezi and even a smattering of nomadic human tribes from the deep desert.”
“Heavens above, this climate will be the end of me,” he replied, wiping his eyes of the stinging dust. “Wasn’t there some time before the desert reclaimed the firma?”
But she only clasped his shoulder tighter, in the delicately taloned grip of her digital vices, smiling like the buffoon enchanted—unwilling to so much as risk for a moment her newly acquired toy. “But unfortunately he was sterile, as are all the male offspring of a man and Szchellezi, inasmuch as we precious few have come to resemble them. So unable, it was decided upon his deathbed that power would spread to an amalgam of high priestesses hitherto known as the Ga Zakazi, who in actually had already usurped so much of the king’s authority that the transition went seamlessly.”
Gul Ladal quite nearly caught himself in time before he audibly spat a pool of corpulent disdain into the dust from between the fine cloth weavings cradling the fiery weavings of his well-manicured head.
“Oh, bodyguard, do you have something to say?”
With the practiced contempt of the barely insubordinate he replied, as if rehearsed, “I would never dare question the authority of the Ga Zakazi, Lady Rina, and it would not be my place to either; little more than faithful soldier am I.”
But she turned at once and addressed the profoundly distracted gaze of the sputtering paladin, struggling against the near-ashen elements of the wind-tunnel city-ways, screening his delicate eyes against the profoundly moderate storm as if stolen into the deep desert itself. With the pleading eyes of a child, rendered all the more lustful with the intimation of honest marriage—and the bedroom conquest implied therewith—she asked him just audibly enough for his buffeted ears to hear—his thoughts about this truncated history.
Looking down at her, mere inches, and he was no inconsiderable man himself, the thunder within ruminated upon the horizon and for all her resemblance to something recognizable, it was not nearly enough, and he spoke simply, as he’d always been trained. “The great god Brassos has bare tolerance but great contempt for the beast races of this world that nearly permitted her antediluvian surface to fall into insufferable peril. For the divine to submit to the mundane is poison. For the divine to rest at the head of the same bed with the mundane would bring ruin on us all. Arsenius was a fool that damned himself and his people to ruin, and the god saw to that. That would be the Perihelion’s opinion.”
And though she seemed downtrodden, staring at her bare ankles under the blue auspices of her priestess’s garb whirling past her limbs against the force of the wind, she nevertheless clasped his hand in hers, and he did not resist, his grip as iron as the aspis reverberations huddled beneath his brow.
“May I suggest the Temple of Brassos?” Gul Ladal advised, fearful lest matters take a turn for the worse. “Safely secluded in the Temple District and closely maintained, if not observed. There hasn’t been a priest or soldier equal to the job in hundreds of years.”
“I imagine ever since Arsenius reared his ugly head,” Arius complained bitterly.
“Why, what do you have in mind?” quizzed Rina.
“Ask him,” is all the bodyguard said.