The bard extended a finger, drowsily tracing the cracks that appeared upon the table he sat beside. The tavern keep bellowed some guttural nothings as he rotated the wrought iron pike installed above the fire pit, roasting a goose he had eventfully forced the pike through earlier in the evening, as though feed to the mocking of those quick-witted satirists who spent their evenings in the Grey Mare. The bard held every dealing he could manage in the Grey Mare; it was unpopular and relatively peaceful for an inn that found itself within the tall stone walls of Thrace. He was among those few who knew of this den and shared the exotic luxury of privacy in the capitol. His companions would arrive soon enough, bearing with them the decisions of the Circle of Friends. All manner of declarations, most of them economical, were to be held during this year’s Winter Tribune. Only one was of any consequence to the bard. The ruling on the option of a pre-emptive strike towards the Deakins, who over the past months had begun to unite within the orange and red canyons and badlands that one would find further inland on the continent of Tijr. He had voted against it, of course, as the obvious choice should have been. Though, as he knew so well, there are those who do not see things so clearly. A pre-emptive strike, no matter how swift and fretless a fight it may be, would leave his city, his child, vulnerable. He was this cities father, fate it’s mother, and even when the city strayed from its parentage and their love he would not abandon it.
The door swung open violently. The bard turned and spotted the offending figure, a thin, comely woman with a grey hood and cloak swung over her shoulders. She stepped silently towards him, leather boots scraping the floor with some sort of grace that he couldn’t put words to. She arrived in front of him, the thief, and the first of his companions. She frowned and sat on the table he leaned upon, kicking her feet over the edge and swinging them back and forth. “I will allow the other to share with you the politics. I’m sure you want to know of the possibility for war, yes?” she said, frown forming into a grin as the words escaped her mouth. “Aye. What then have my peers decided?” the bard said quickly. “There will be no war,” she said, “but not because the Circle has decided so. No, it is come to occur that the sister cities of Saelo and Baent have declared war against the Deakins. Some time ago, indeed. Thus, the Deakins have travelled far west to our opposite coast to battle the civilization that resides there, sparing us for the time being. But if they win this battle on the west, we will surely lose support for withholding our forces from war. If they gain a foothold on one of the Coasts, and thus access to foreign trade and support, they will already be a force of match to the Zephyr Alliance of the north coasts, which, if this all comes to pass, we will be further pressed to join”. The bard eased in his seat and touched his finger to his nose. “We cannot restrict ourselves by the laws of the Zephyr. Unless they deign to convert to our system of democracy, I will not allow it” he said as he had so many times before, with a tone of pride and bitterness he held towards the patrician houses that controlled the north. “It is something you would be unable to stop, Flynn. You act as though you are the king you try so exhaustingly to keep from coming into being” she said, shaking her head. “You can sway the wills of men with means other than force. Our fellows are awaiting us at the manor. Make your way there, now” he commanded. The thief stood and weaved her way through the crowd that had arrived to the scent of the goose, now fully cooked, that ebbed from the cracks in the walls. The bard rested his head upon his arms, the candle at the center of the table throwing its fiery limbs about in fear of its coming end. The wick then died, but the fire within the bard only grew.