A beam of light shone through a window to splash upon cold stone. Save for this ray of light, all was darkness, but from the darkness... came a whispered voice.
"Once this House was great. There was a time when we strutted haughtily among the lords, thinking ourselves gods. Those passing would see our blue livery and our proud bearing and think 'There goes a Pelagian'. But now are we layed low? Are not our once beauteous waters clouded with the debris of starships, fallen from the heavens? Our nobles have became fearful and paranoid. The Mecetti instigated this heinous desecration of our waters and slaughter of our people. It is they who are the very root cause of all our suffering. But they know not our plans," the disembodied voice paused and a sigh was heard.
"For have we not layed our preparations carefully? Our ships lie in the darkness of orbit, like hidden titans. Their weapons, once of simple nature, have power the Mecetti know not. Barnaba, and Melantha... we have long coaxed them, have we and Cadriaan. Now, they seem to tip toward our side. Does the Mecetti, with their weaving network of spies like the careful spider's web, know any of this? No, they know nothing. At last, after nigh twenty-six years of careful planning shall I have them. They are as in the dark as I am now, but they know it not."
A figure egressed from the shadows. The footsteps were slow, almost hesitant to come into the light. "Shall we then illuminate their darkness, like a phoenix from the ashes?"
The speaker was a man. His dark hair lay long, but neat and lined with grey. His skin had that milky-white complexion of most Pelagian aristocracy. Dark, piercing eyes stared from beneath hooded brows. The man's bearing was a proud and strong, reminiscent of the days before the fall. His mouth had lines born of grief, age, and laughs. He peered out through the window to glimpse the Pelagian sea, a vast body of water that covered nearly all of the globe. The sea, once contaminated, now sparkled brilliantly. The Phoenix was rising.
Stark clicking footsteps sounded as another figure materialized from the darkness of the High Lord's chambers.
"What is it, Diaktoros?"
"High Lord Paddox, the Federation Diplomat is here."
Theux Paddox, High Lord of House Pelagia and ruler of Pelagon let his disdain show through his voice, "At last, I thought he would never arrive, but these imperialists are always strict in adherence to the rules... if they be their own."
Theux sighed, "I will see him."
"I will inform the Diplomat at once, sire."
Fifteen minutes later, the High Lord emerged into the formal meeting room. His attire was at once plain and majestic. The material was a light blue, with thin silver, swirling lines. It was not overly gaudy, but carried a sense of royalty with it. This defined Theux. He connected with the peasants, but seemed even higher than the other nobles. It was that simple elegance that won so many over.
Already sitting down, the Mrlssi Diplomat looked round as Theux entered. It clucked its beak in token of greeting. "I'm extremely greatful that you have granted me an audience, High Lord. I am Sasevi Saiyan"
Waving a hand in dismissal, Theux dropped gracefully into a seat. "'Twas nothing, Diplomat Saiyan, but let's put aside formalities. We both know why you're here and I will tell you once again, that House Pelagia shall not open the Shapani lane to the Mecetti alliance."
"Ah, I see you feel strongly on this issue. That's for the better, as the Federation does too. The rest of the Tapani sector needs the supplies, the rest of the Federation needs supplies. I'm afraid this might not be an option for you." The Mrlssi clucked its beak sharply.
Theux smiled at the Imperialist diplomat and folded his hands neatly. "The Federation is far too focused on other matters for you to seriously consider forcing us to comply with your demands. You know this as well as I. There is only one way that we will consider opening up the Shapani bypass. And that is if all Imperial ships are removed from this province. We feel... uncomfortable with this display of Imperialistic hegemon. In return, the Shapani Bypass will be reopened."
The beady eyes of Sasevi Saiyan peered at Theux, as the Mrlssi cocked his head. "I will relay your proposition my superiors. Let us hope the response is a favorable one."
"Indeed," muttered the High Lord coldly.
The man in black did not laugh. He surveyed the gay scene quite coldly. "Oh what merry mirth do these fools in high positions placed enjoy," whispered the man. "Now is the long summer of their happiness as they dance and love and drink. What infinite heart's ease is theirs who do these idle things enjoy. And it is all for ceremony. Oh heartless ceremony. For celebration of him do they dance. Oh yes, my distant cousin, however far below thee I may be I am still to thy blood related..." the dark eyes were fixed upon Trad. "The dreadful ships of war sit in their orbits, silent. Instead of the wail of sirens, we hear the music of the lute." The man put out both hands and gripped the railing until his knuckles turned white.
When he spoke again, his voice was changed to harsh tones. "But..... I.... who was once so lowly born as a son to a Knight and could not enjoy these royal meetings. I, who sat on the lowest level of our proud, proud nobility, most rudely worked to build a fortune. I that am stuck in my position; cheated of any higher rank by my base birth. Mundane, obscure, placed into the lowest of the highest. And that so obsequiously that these lords laugh at me as I pass by them. Why I have no part in these 'blessed' times of peace. If not to glimpse upon what might have been mine save for the hard condition of fate and lament my very birth." A deep shudder ran through the man in black.
"Therefore, since I cannot be noble by being noble, other means shall be sought for to achieve the end," he paused. "Plans are in motion that shall change the face of this game called politics!" The man hissed with vehemence. "So dance while you can, oh cousin of mine. But in the approaching time of war, look well on that position of thine... less it slip from thy grasp. But hush, someone approaches."
Sasevi Saiyan, the Mrlssi Federation Diplomat made an entrance on the balcony to stand beside the man in black. "Wonderful isn't it?"
"Oh yes," croaked the man. "But to which does he refer, the celebration... or Pelagon?"
"You don't look well, Godric. I can't have my Aide unwell, especially at this time when I need him most," clucked Sasevi.
"Of course. I'm perfectly fine, Monsieur Saiyan."
"Good. It may just be me, but I think that High Lord Paddox is planning something big."
"More than you could imagine," thought Leo Godric. "The High Lord is usually quite elusive. We Pelagians never tell a lie, but you have to be careful what you ask if you want to get the answer you seek."
"Hmm, yes. I seem to have learned that," clucked Saiyan dolefully. "But I still seem to sense something coming. Change is coming for the Tapani Sector, mark my words."
Leo gazed out over the crowds of aristocracy and at a tapestry. Ashes lay scattered at the bottom and a bright yellow sun lay in the background. But emerging from the ashes, was a royal blue phoenix. "Perhaps."