Disclosure: None of the characters belong to me. Duh. If they did, I'd be publishing my stories in books, not online. Oh, well.
Chapter 1: The Collapse
Once every century since being reinstated, the Cymrian Council met in its entirety. Despite having been to the original, and one since then, Chaline was still amazed at the number of Cymrians compelled to answer the call. Chaline had traveled from the Hintervold, riding as fast as she could manage, just to arrive here on time.
Chaline sat alone, a heavy cloak wrapped around her to protect her from the strength of vibrations from so many beings. Everyone else had divided into groups— their Fleet, their family. Chaline felt no particular allegiance to the Third Fleet, and she had no family to join. She had not been born on Serendair— no, she had been born on the smaller island of Peloy to the north and come to Serendair to learn healing from the Doran Monks. Half-human, half-Peloan, she had chosen to sail with the Cymrians when the time came.
At the moment, the Lady Cymrian was detailing the state of the alliance, from trade tariffs to political standings. The only thing keeping the majority of the crowd paying attention was the Lirin queen's stunning beauty. That, and a vibration or two in her voice to capture their interest. Chaline recognized the Namer's method; Lady Rhapsody was undoubtably the most skilled Namer on the continent, if not the world.
Charline's attention was wandering, though. Behind the Lord and Lady, the Bolg sergeant Grunthor stood, arms folded across his leather armor. The horned helmet and array of blades on his back added a particularly menacing air to him. He was a big fellow, she thought. The green skin and tusks made it clear that Grunthor was not entirely Bolg, but she had yet to recognize the other race in his bloodline.
Also on the wide ledge was a man swathed completely in black. Tall— though not as tall as his sergeant— King Achmed's appearance was practically impossible to determine. Chaline had never been close enough to see what little of his face was visible through the veils, but from those who had, the consensus was that he was quite hideous. He allowed the Cymrian Council to meet at Gwylliam's Moot, in his land. Ylorc, the Bolg kingdom, had once been the Cymrian capital of Canrif. From what she had heard, he was irritated about having the meetings here, but Lady Rhapsody somehow convinced him.
Chaline had not yet determined whether King Achmed was a First-Generation Cymrian himself, despite the fact that his kingdom was a member of the alliance. Ylorc had only come into being two hundred years ago, the first anyone had ever heard of King Achmed. Long-lived, yes, but immortal?
But if she was going to question King Achmed, she had to wonder about Lady Rhapsody,too. She didn't seem to have a history, either, but from rumors, wherever King Achmed had come from, Lady Rhapsody had as well, Master Sergeant Grunthor with them.
The Lord Cymrian she at least know about. Lord Gwydion was the grandson of Gwylliam and Anwyn, with more bloodlines than she could keep track of. While he wasn't immortal, he was close enough to it for it to be irrelevant for millennia.
The Moot broke out into applause, and Chaline pulled her hood farther over her head, trying to deflect the vibrations. Her half-Peloan ancestry was a blessing, usually, but in certain situations it was painful. She wanted the meeting to end. The Cymrians would begin their three-day celebration and Chaline could slip away.
Watching the ledge, she saw King Achmed collapse. Most of the crowd was focused on Lady Rhapsody and did not notice until she stopped talking and turned around. The Lady Cymrian was clearly alarmed as she, along with the others on the ledge, crouched to examine the king.
The Cymrians murmured between themselves. Getting to her feet, Chaline began pushing through the crowd. It took her ten minutes to reach the exit. By that time, King Achmed had been carried from the Moot. Back to the city, likely. The Lord Cymrian was continuing the discussions, but the spell of attentiveness had been broken.
Nobody stopped her from slipping out, though. Nobody seemed to even notice. Outside,she dodged camps of tents, horses, wagons, and non-Cymrians guarding the property. She managed to locate the temporary stable where she had put up her horse. Retrieving Chatka and paying the stablehand, she rode off toward the city in the mountains.