The Dragon Queens

Chapter 4

Private Council Chambers, Council tower, The Citadel, Serpent Nebula- Councillor Tevos.

Councillor Tevos sighed and rubbed her eyes. The information in the reports the Salarian Councillor Uwik had sent her were disturbing. According to the STG, the Turian Hierarchy was mobilizing more the forty-eight percent of their military towards the Attican Travers.

She reached for her cup of tea and sipped the scalding beverage gingerly, considering what she had just read. What were they up to? Who were they preparing to attack? These questions swirled around in her mind as she stared at the report in front of her trying to will it to reveal its secrets to her.

The door to the inner sanctum of the Citadel Council opened and the Salarian counsellor Uwik walked in. “Greetings Tevos” he said in his nasally tones that always seemed to grate on Tevos nerves. She smiled cordially at him “Greetings Uwik, I was just reading the report you sent me”. The Salarian nodded jerkily “Yes, yes most distressing. The Turians are being very secretive about this. Would like to confront Callamus as soon as possible.”

Almost as if the mention of his name had summoned him, the door opened and the Turian Councillor Callamus entered reading from a data pad with his brow plates overlapping in what would equate to a furrowed brow on an Asari.

He paused just inside the room and looked uncomfortable at the sight of his fellow Councillors. Uwik quickly bounced forward and before Tevos could say anything, blurted out, “STG has just informed me that your government is mobilizing their military. What is happening? Are you preparing to invade a Council world or have you encountered a new species of Aliens?”

Tevos mentally banged her forehead against the table. Damn Uwik’s impatience. He was the worst example of his species. An impatient and nosy individual who shoved his non-existent nose into everything without any discretion or thought to the consequences of his actions. Always seeking instant gratification heedless of the very notion of tact.

Callamus stared at the Salarian in in shock, his mandibles hanging open as he stared at the amphibious Councillor. Tevos could almost hear a faint whistling sound as tact went flying out the window, swiftly followed by diplomacy and delicacy.

Callamus looked between the two Councillors and his shoulders sagged. “We encountered an aggressive new Alien species and are now moving to subdue them. It’s all under control and it will be dealt with swiftly.” His flanged voice rang hollow to Tevos’ ears, as if even the Turian didn’t believe the story he had just supplied.

Seeing that neither of his companions believed him he walked over to the bar and poured himself a large, neat Turian Brandy before sinking into one of the chairs. “The Batarians activated the 314 relay and were chased through by a patrol fleet under the command of General Desolas Arterius. Of the 30 ships in the patrol only one made it back, a cruiser with several shuttles of the wounded from the planet’s surface. The injuries include severed limbs, lacerations and impaling from crude melee weapons, as well as crude projectiles and some form of Ice bullet. Many were jabbering about fighting spirits, and monsters. Some of the wounds were caused by some kind of explosive that can burn or cause frostbite. Many have been placed in confinement for being mentally unstable.”

The silence that permeated the chambers was heavily weighted with shock as the Turian closed his eyes and took a large gulp from his glass.

The Throne Room, Council of Monarchs, White Gold Tower, Imperial City, Nirn- Ayrenn

The setting light of Magnus was visible through the vaulting western windows, causing the polished golden marble pillars to echo the suns light, as if remembering the scorching fire from the land they came from.
Through the eastern windows the beginnings of the soft glow of Masser and Secunda lit the glittering
crystal laden white marble pillars, causing them to sparkle like the snow fields near Winterhold. The starling contrast was meant to symbolize the need for balance and unity among their people.

Ayrenn looked around the throne room from where she sat on her large, elaborate golden crystal throne, dressed in a long set of Navy blue robes covered in glittering golden embroidery. The weight of her black and gold winged crown a comfortable and familiar feeling on her brow.

Her sister of two millennia, Serana, sat next to her on her glittering ice throne clad in a long crimson velvet gown with black and silver embroidery and her silver dragon tooth crown sitting on her raven hair. Her pale skin gleaming in the light and her fiery eyes sweeping the room, running over the other Monarchs on the lower levels of thrones.

A Redguard herald in sweeping dove grey robes and a red sash hit the gleaming black stone floor with a silver shod ebony staff “Let all hear this. The Council of Monarchs is now enthroned. Let all matters of great import be brought before the Queens and this Royal Council to be judged” he intoned formally.
Ayrenn reflexively winced internally at the formal words, but swiftly blinked the uncomfortable feelings away with the same reflex that she had honed over the two thousand years of this dance of Thrones. As the other monarchs settled into their thrones, including Parthunax of the Dov and Ugrahx of the Giants on their massive thrones, Ayrenn stood, her long robes sweeping the floor and the designs glinting in the contrasting lights from the three celestial bodies.

“A bare handful of days ago the colony of Shanxi was attacked by another species. They call themselves the Turians” she began, her voice ringing in the large hall. There was a rustling of cloth as the monarchs shifted in their thrones. “General Corrin Williams, of the Shanxi garrison held off these invaders and with the aid of Admiral Steven Hakket drove them from the system. The remaining invaders are now residents in our dungeons and it is now up to this Council to decide what our next step shall be.”

She clasped her hands in front of her and sat back down on her throne thinking “let the games begin” with a sardonic smile in her head, still hiding behind her Queen mask. Many of the reactions were predictable. Ayrenn sighed, oh how she wished there were new faces on the Council, it had been years since she and Serana had exchanged bets on the reactions of the monarchs.

Parthunax, Ugrahx, Engroth HarshClaw of the Weres and the Orsimer Queen Mornoth gra-Bargndar were all set for war, the Cyrodillic Queen Avelia Alrenavus and the Argonian king Speaks-with-forethought advocated for sending diplomats, the Kahjit mane Razum’ Her, Bosmer king Tervanus Gildleaf, the Dunmer Queen Ervlane Verierus and the Falmer king Celedhor Henedwen were all in favor of building up defences and waiting for the aliens to make the next move.

The Breton king Geran Afrack and the Redguard Queen Jalirva were unsure as to how to proceed. Irathia Thanovas Queen of the Maomer wanted to send a small fleet of ships to scout out the new enemies territory to covertly scout and infiltrate them before making the next move.

During the argument, Valerica Volkihar of the Vampires sat back and listened with her fingers tips steepled in front of her, her flaming eyes roving around the room. Ayrenn looked over at Serana, who sat next to her with a perfectly blank face as they watched the arguments grow more heated.

As Ugrahx’s voice began to shake the air Serana stood, holding her arms held out to both sides and her face stern. “We shall not act with haste. I propose we speak with the invaders’ general whom we have captured. Then we shall speak about this in a logical and calm manner like the civilized beings we are.” There was a few moments of silence as some of the younger monarchs looked a little ashamed at their outburst and Valerica smiled like she knew something.

Magnus but Ayrenn hated that Vampire, she had a severe case of immortal superiority. Though she knew that a great deal of Valerica’s problem was that she viewed most mortals as food but seeing as Serana didn’t have that problem and neither did several other vampires of similar age, Ayrenn wasn’t feeling very forgiving.

But Serana kept her mother in line so Ayrenn looked the other way from her superiority complex. Ayrenn turned her face towards the two blades who stood near the door. “Please retrieve the general of the invaders’ Brynyolf”, she told the Blade on the left. The black armoured red crested figure placed his fist on his chest, bowed and left the room.

Dungeons, Beneath the White Gold Tower, Imperial City, Nirn –Desolas

Desolas stared at the old stone block walls as he chewed on one of the tough, dry and tasteless ration bars that had mysteriously vanished during the invasion. He had to admit being fed his own rations was galling, but these aliens had treated him very fairly.

Though after even such a brief time, these bare stone walls were beginning to wear on him. He had tried to scratch the days into the wall with his talons but couldn’t seem to make and mark of the stone. For a time, the light in his cell had fascinated him. A single glowing ball of light that seemed to have no source and gave off no heat, but eventually that too had ceased to be interesting.

Footsteps echoed from the hall beyond his cell, he swallowed the last of his bar with great difficulty and turned toward the heavy metal door just as with a heavy thunk it began to open. Two golden armoured guards with crestless helmets stood on either side of a black armoured warrior with a stiff red crest and cape with cloth accents of the same red decorating its armour.

“On your feet”, he said in a gruff voice and heavy accent. Desolas stood, the rough cloth tunic they had provided for him catching on his hump. He dragged it back down with a growl of annoyance and snarled internally at the ill-fitting garment.

“Here, our seamstresses figured out a better cut for a tunic, so change quick, lad”. The black clad guard thrust a small pile of clothes at Desolas and left, closing the door behind him. Desolas quickly stripped off his first tunic and pulled the new one on. It was of the same cream coloured fabric but it came to his first knee joint and sat comfortably on his shoulders without being tight.

“I’m changed”, he called to the waiting guards who opened the doors again and ordered him to hold out his wrists. Bracing himself mentally he did so and they placed a heavy set of manacles on them. Then the black one trained a gun on him and they placed a set of chains on his legs that just barely allowed him to shuffle.

“Common lad, you’re going to meet the Queens”, the black Guard said as the two gold clad ones stood on either side of Desolas and prodded him out into the corridor with the Black one following behind. They led him up through the rough stone corridors lit with the same lights that had adorned his cell. He remembered them from when they first brought him to this prison.

As they went up through the levels, the stone work became better and better, until they were walking along halls made of a beautiful creamy stone hung with rich brightly coloured tapestries and lit with beautiful amber lanterns that glowed warmly in the growing darkness.

They turned a corner and Desolas gasped at the two massive doors that stood before them. They were both made of some strange black metal that gleamed in the light from the lanterns and beautifully wrought with embellishments with scenes made of coloured metal or crystal.

On the left the doors were decorated in gold and green materials that formed a motif of a tall Asari like figure with what looked like a crown or helm with two wings holding a curved sword out toward the center of the door, as if pointing toward something. The figure stood dressed in sweeping, elegant armour on an outcropping of stone with one of those strange beasts he had seen on the colony flying high above her. More beings with pointed ears and furred bipeds that looked like felines and massive animals rallied around her with long thin banners decorated with an avian motif curved through the air surrounding her.
The other door bore a similar figure with all the pattern done in silver and red, but with no pointed ears. This female wore a jagged crown that looked like it was made of teeth and a less streamlined looking set of armour pointing out toward the center of the door with a jagged sword.

Giants, rounded eared bipeds, some with eyes made of glowing red stones, giants and crowds of the Lizard-like creatures gathered around her as square banners with a different avian motif whipped in a fierce wind.

The black guard strode in front of him and slammed his fist hard on a metal plate in the center of the doors. There was a moment of silence, then the doors swung open with barely a whisper and the black guard led Desolas in.

The room was breathtaking and massive. A gleaming black stone floor spread out under his feet like a pool of ink from which tall fluted golden pillars rose on the left half of the room and glittering white ones held up the right side of the hall. High windows let in light from two moons, and large stone braziers sat between pillars. They, along with brilliantly elaborate crystal chandeliers filled the room with a warm golden light.

The room was oblong and at the end of the wall sat two daises. On the lower dais sat fourteen thrones or in one case a circular platform that held one of those flying creatures while a large throne next to the platform held a 20 foot tall biped.

On the higher dais sat two thrones that were beautiful, but the figures that occupied them seemed to draw all the focus. On the left sat a golden skinned figure with long white blond fur coming from the top of its head, pointed ears and a pair of striking electric blue eyes; eyes that he could feel drilling into him even at this distance.

It was dressed in long navy blue robes with wide sweeping sleeves and embroidered with gold. A glittering black and gold crown with a pair of wings sat on its head. The wings sweeping back from either side of its head, mimicking its ears while two more curved forward over their cheeks.

The being on the right had skin the same colour as the white pillars and black fur that could rival the stone on which he stood. Its eyes glowed a deep orange, like coals of a raging fire and gleamed with a predatory air. This one wore what looked like a long deep red gown with tight sleeves covered silver and black embroidery and wore a crown that looked to be made some creatures teeth set into a silver band.
The other beings in the room seemed to be a representative for all the different species in this alliance, but it was clear that these two ruled here. “Thank you Brynyolf you may return to your post.” The white one spoke, in a smooth alto that seemed to make him want to obey her every whim.

“Come forward General”, the golden one said, her voice a light mezzo that carried easily across the hall and rang with the promise of deadly power if it was ever raised. The black guard bowed with his hand on his chest, turned away and walked to a post by the now shut doors.
The two golden guards prodded Desolas toward the semi-circle of thrones. Once he reached the close focal

point before all the leaders his guards made him kneel by placing heavy hands on his shoulders and pressing hard.

“Who are you?”, the golden one asked. He breathed in deeply through his nose before he summoned what was left of his pride and answered “I am General Desolas Arterius of the Turian Hierarchy, which is a proud member of the Citadel Council, leader of all Turian forces on this side of the 314 relay.”

His voice came out stronger then he’d expected and he listed his titles with pride even though he was in a position humiliating to any Turian.

The white skinned one looked at him impassively. “What is the 314 relay, and why did you attack our colony of Shanxi?” Her voice was cool and commanding, demanding answers.

Desolas swallowed thickly under her gaze before he answered. “The relay is a device that allows us to travel great distances nearly instantaneously and my patrol found your colony after we pursued a pirate vessel to your space. As per Turian military protocol we attempted to subjugate what we believed to be a primitive species that had just achieved space flight in order to prevent them from breaking any laws and to integrate you into the galactic community as swiftly as possible.”

The lower members began to mutter to each other until the golden one silenced them with a gesture as she began to speak. “You intended to conquer a race that you believed to be markedly behind you technologically, in order control them and exploit them?” her voice bore what Desolas thought to be anger as her eyes drilled into him, making him feel like a small pyjak in front of a hungry varren.

“Not exactl…” but the pale one cut him off. “How then, would you justify your actions?”

Desolas now truly felt helpless beneath the combined gaze of these two beings. “The Turians are the law keepers of the galactic community, it is our job to prevent less advanced species from breaking laws. We have found the best way to do that is to subjugate them.” He defended himself, his pride resurfacing again, only to quail under the weight of the combined glares from all the rooms occupants.

“Hin togaat wah rel lost niid zin” The massive winged beast rumbled turning its head to glare balefully at him, there nods from the others and more mutterings in that strange language, the golden one looked at the creature before answering “I agree Parthunax” before all the eyes fastened back on him.

“You will tell us everything you know”, the pale one commanded, her fiery eyes holding his and her voice feeling oddly compelling, Desolas felt himself nodding and his voice seemed to be coming from far away, “yes I will tell you everything I know”

Private Council Chambers, Council Tower, the Citadel, Serpent Nebula –Tevos

Tevos could feel a pressure building behind her eyes, one that promised to become a full-blown migraine very shortly. “Your patrol used orbital bombardment on a GARDEN WORLD!?!!?!!” she demanded of Callamus, nearly shrieking the last two words.

Visible shame and mutual exhaustion was plain on the Turian Councillor’s face as he tried to wring another drop from his 4th empty glass of brandy. “Yes”, he muttered, staring morosely at his empty tumbler.
“Unacceptable, culprits must be punished, solders must be debriefed, intelligence gathered.” Uwik muttered typing feverishly on his Omni-tool Tevos pressed her forefingers to her temples, trying to forestall her coming explosion on the absolute STUPIDITY of these Turians.

They had truly poked the sleeping thresher maw and now here were surprised that it had spit acid at them. “Did your general even try to make contact with them?” she ground out through gritted teeth as she continued to massage her temples.

Callamus shook his head “according to the logs from the sole surviving ship, the aliens attempted to communicate but were ignored by Desolas. They assumed orbital dominance over the small fleet, but needed the orbital strikes in order to effectively fight the aliens.”

His explanation was the same one he had been repeating for the several hours they had been going over the reports, that didn’t make it any more palatable.

“We can salvage this, but not if you have your navy sitting right on their door step.” She said finally, letting out a long breath and glaring at Callamus.

“The fleet is already mobilizing!” Callamus cried in frustration, slamming his empty glass onto the table “There is almost nothing I can do! We can’t stop it now!”” he told her angrily.

Tevos glared at the Turian. “Well try anyway! I’m going to go find a diplomat to try and to keep war from breaking out” she snapped at him before standing and throwing a parting shot over her shoulder as she swept from the room. “Try to keep your government from another making a mistake that we’ll all regret.”

Private lunch room, The Taste of Thessia restaurant, The Citadel- Benezia

“Do you think you can do it?” Tevos asked, looking at her friend hopefully over the rim of her delicate teacup. Matriarch Benezia T’soni looked at her long time friend with curiosity, she had never seen Tevos so anxious before.

“Will I be given all the information that we have on these aliens?” she asked curiously, there had been times when she ahd been forced to negotiate when she had virtually no information form the council due to classified information” and it was not an experience she was eager to repeat.

Tevos laughed bitterly, “What information? The Turians blasted first and were nearly obliterated before they could ask questions. All we know is they have incredibly fast ships, use energy weapons and crude melee weapons, and have powers that can, according to the solders defy the laws of physics. Many of the survivors are being treated for insanity now, so I do not truly know what to give credence to.” Tevos leaned forward, resting her teacup against her brow as if she were trying to diving answers from it.
Benezia thought about what her friend was asking of her. To go into a potentially very hostile area and attempt to call off what looked like the beginnings of a war. If she succeeded then she would be responsible for the peace, but if she failed then there was a very high chance she could die. A gamble and a test of skill.

She could never resist a challenge. Benezia felt a smile slipping over her features as she placed a hand on Tevos’s shoulder. “I shall try, Goddess knows I’m never one to back down from a challenge. Give me some time and I shall have a ship and crew ready to make for the relay. Stall the Turians until I can get there.”

Tevos blinked and smiled at her friend in gratitude as she stood, “I will do what I can, but please hurry. The Turians are baying for blood.” Tevos hurried rom the room to return to her duties of preventing war, leaving Benezia to begin calling up her various followers and asking for volunteers to join her on a dangerous diplomatic mission.

For a moment, she considered calling up her daughter Liara, but then remembered that she was currently in a very remote dig site with no real communication abilities. That and she and Liara had not parted on the best terms 2 years ago.

She will come around, Benezia thought as she strode through the presidium to make the arrangements for this mission.

Dungeons, Beneath the White Gold Tower, Imperial City, Nirn- Desolas

They dragged him back to his cell and left him there. He would have walked except he didn’t seem to have any strength left. The questioning had been brutal, hours and hours of questions. At first he had refused to say much, but then the white skinned leader had seemed to capture his eyes with her own and suddenly he found himself spilling everything.

All their questions he answered. Some against his will. At first he had felt shame for divulging his secrets, but then as the exhaustion began to drag on him he really ceased to care.

Though he had noticed that they had refrained from asking personal questions. Small comfort to someone who felt like a complete traitor, but there was little he could do about what he had said. With a bone weary sigh, he sank down on the cot in his cell and was asleep almost instantly.

The Throne Room, Council of Monarchs, White Gold Tower, Imperial City, Nirn- Ayrenn

As they led the prisoner out Ayrenn glanced at Serana. Her sister’s mouth was tight and the self-hatred in her eyes for what she had done was only discernible to one who had known her for as long as Ayrenn had.
Though a Vampire, Serana truly loathed using her powers of enthrallment on any being. She had once told Ayrenn that she felt like a rapist when she did it, ripping away a person’s will to take what she wanted giving little or no heed to the feeling towards her victim.

Stealthily she reached out and placed her hand on Serana’s. Offering comfort and support in a way that was invisible to the other monarchs. There were quiet conversations as the Council of Monarchs took a small recess, wandering over to a table with refreshments.

Ayrenn felt a tingle as she sipped daintily on a glass of white wine, which meant one of her Eyes had a report. Quietly excusing herself she walked into the small private room behind her throne to take the
call. As the door closed she activated her small ring that connected her to her Chief Eye.

A spectral projection of a lithe Bosmer female bowed to her murmuring, “My Queen”.

Ayrenn looked at her agent with a serious expression “What have my Eyes seen Kavira?” she asked The Bosmer whose family had served as Ayrenn’s Eyes for centuries straightened and began to speak, “The Silent Gaze followed the alien vessel. It used the Oblivion gate artifact to travel away from the system. The Gaze has revealed that the gate is not an Oblivion gate but rather a Mundus gate, one that transported the ship to another point in this Galaxy. They followed the alien ship to a docking yard and have since been gathering information to send back to you.”

Ayrenn nodded, this information collaborated with what the Alien had told her. “The aliens belong to and alliance of races that all base themselves off of a station they call the Citadel. The Gaze is going there now using plane jumping rather than the gates, as the ride nearly destroyed their ship. What are your
orders?” Kavira reported, standing at ease as she waited.

Ayrenn smiled slightly “have them silently observe this Citadel for now. The Council shall make some decisions soon and I shall contact them personally. As for you, remain in Alinor, I shall be there this evening and we shall discuss more on how best to observe our new neighbours.”

Kavira bowed, “To hear is to obey, my Queen” she answered, before fading from sight. Ayrenn deactivated her ring before speaking.

“Thoughts Rana?” she said as she straightened her crown and turned to see Serana leaning against the wall. “I think we need to make a statement to this Council Renn. One that says: we will not be toyed with.”

Ayrenn nodded and sat on the comfortable chair and sipped her wine. “My thoughts exactly.” She raised her eyebrow at her sister who had sat opposite from her. “Are you alright? I know how much you hate
enthralling” she asked, concern in her voice.

Serana grimaced, “I’ll be alright, the feeling will pass and we only asked for basic stuff like plans military and culture, nothing too personal. Not to mention Mother would have pulled it out of him far less gently then I did.” Serana shuddered and Ayrenn agreed with her whole heartedly. The few times Valerica had done the questioning had led to the victims being reduced to little more than vegetables, their minds irrevocably shattered from the ancient vampire’s harsh intrusions.

She was a weapon to be unleashed in desperate times only and they had only done it twice, both times had resulted in utter devastation of those she was sent against. Ayrenn sighed and gently pulled her crown from her head and rested it on her knee, the cheek frames holding it there.

Serana did the same and leaned back with her eyes closed. “With the Eyes so close to their center of government we can do one of several things”, Ayrenn mused as she watched the pale wine swirl in her glass as she twirled it.

“We can go assassin style with the leaving a dagger and note on their leaders pillow. But that seems a little heavy handed. We can steal something, but that may be too subtle. Or we could pull the leave a very noticeable message somewhere method, graffiti or fire, some kind of writing that clearly states our desire for seriousness and our ability for stealth for them to see. I’m leaning that way myself”.

Serana smiled without opening her eyes, “Everything is either magic or skulking with you Renn. Mind you I always have to fight the Nord in me that just wants to wave a sword in their face and challenge their honour or the desire to see what they taste like so I understand where you’re coming from. That or to poison them.” She remarked with a sardonic twist of her lips.

Ayrenn chuckled. “The Nord challenges, the Imperial speaks, the Vampire watches, the Argonian ambushes, the Breton studies, the Redguard invades and the Giant stomps all over the opposition”.

Serana sat up with a laugh “you’re no better, the Altmer acts innocent while plotting your death, with the Kahjit robbing you blind and trying to sell you Skooma, meanwhile the Bosmer keeps an arrow aimed between your eyes. The Dunmer plot your assassination, with the Falmer proclaiming neutrality, the Maomer catches you with weather magic, and the Orsimer sharpening their blades, while the Dragons and Weres charge right into the thick of it!” she accused with a grin.

Ayrenn laughed whole heartedly at this. “What a bunch we make” she chortled. This was an old conversation, but a comforting one. She sat up, a small smirk tugging at her lips and mischief glittering in her eyes. “So, Ana I’ve been thinking that after this is all blown over we should…” she began slyly.

“NO” Serana cut her off, “but you don’t even know what I was going to say!” Ayrenn said with mock hurt. Serana snorted in a very unqueenly fashion.

“Yes I do and I say again Renn. No, there is no way in Oblivion or Mundus that I’m going to let you talk me into another adventure” she informed her friend firmly.

Ayrenn pretended to pout. “But we had such fun last time” she tried to point out.

“I would hardly describe being chased all over Tameriel by a coven of Hag ravens and a Grove of Spriggans with a Saber Cat as a pet fun. Not to mention the 50,000 Septim bounty they had on your head in Hammerfell while we were incognito” Serana told her dryly.

“It’s not like we did anything illegal!” Ayrenn protested, waving her arms for emphasis
“You blew the head off one of your own statues when you were drunk because it, and I quote “Looked at you funny””, Serana informed her using finger quotes.

“I fixed it later! Using my own personal funds too!” Ayrenn told her indignantly, before the two of them dissolved into a fit of giggles. There was a knock on the door and they hurriedly stopped laughing, wiped their teary eyes and replaced their crowns on their heads.

After giving each other a quick once over to ensure that they still looked regal and tidy, they exited their rooms and returned to their Thrones to continue their deliberations and pose their ideas to the Council.

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