Prologue: White Walls

It had taken him seven sundowns to get to Yorbal; Ishlan’s Capital. It should have taken them only four but the weather was bad and they often had to stop for shelter. Never-mind the bad roads which wound up and down like the tracks of an elder-lizard. Nevertheless they had managed to arrive at Fort Antex by noon of the eighth day.

Nadas and his entourage were greeted by a massive gate. It loomed high over them like a massive steel tower. Adorned with various gems, the structure glittered in the bask of the afternoon sun. Most people would be awestruck or intimidated, all Nadas felt was disgust. One of the fort’s servants came shortly, opening the gate and leading Nadas and his men towards the giant building that was the Antex.

Dressed in pure white, the Antex was the home to the three elders who ruled this part of Ishlan. Statues rose up from its sides like elegantly dressed dancers performing an act. Giant columns rose up from the ground reaching the ceiling, seemingly holding the heavens themselves. The whole building reeked of wealth, a smell that Nadas hated.

Nadas waited for a while in the common room; the elders were busy. Which was to be expected, after all, he was two days late and the elders didn’t like to wait. It was quite a while before the elders were ready to attend to Nadas, a time which he spent scowling at every single nook and cranny of the mansion.

Nadas walked into meeting hall only to find an even more pompous display of wealth. Gold statues drooped down from the ceiling like pieces of melted butter. The whole room was brightened by a collection of chandeliers in the middle, each one more ornate than the next. Stained glass covered the windows; a display of images were left on the floor as the setting sun hit the glass. The elders were sitting one of many chairs that lay around the centre table; a baroque piece of rich brownwood.

Nadas held his breath; he wasn’t going to let his temper get the better of him this time. It rarely helped, even when it seemed like it would. He looked down on the floor and closed his eyes, counting as he did so. When he had calmed himself down he opened his eyes and began to talk.

“My fellow elders, I have travelled quite a long distance to speak to you today. I hope -“

Nadas was stopped mid-sentence by the third elder, “Please get to the main point and skip the formalities.”

“Don’t say that. I hear that he had some terrible weather on his journey, the least we can do is make him comfortable,” said the second elder.

“We’re here to discuss business not have some idle chat. We’re just wasting time,” retorted the third.

“It’s not wasted time if you enjoy wasting it, now is it?”

“Please elders, the man in front of us wishes to speak about some important matters. So let us give him the respect he deserves,” the first said finally.

The other two elders settled down and the first went back to sipping his brew before addressing nadas, “Please continue, but skip on the courtesy if you will. We are in quite a hurry.”

Nadas clenched his fist. He had tried to keep calm and be polite however the elders were making it quite difficult for him. Nevertheless he was determined to get through this one way or another.

“Alright then your highnesses. The first issue I would like to bring about is the development of a roadway between Ishlan and Echlin. The proposed road will take the place of the old Yorbal’s Path and improve relationships between the two countries. Not only that but it would also cause a boom in the business and developments of both countries. As well as-“

“Declined. As of present, Yorbal’s Path is the sole road out of Ishlan for business purposes. The tolls enforced ensure that Ishlan gets the better edge against its competitors. Why would we want to lose that advantage?” asked the third elder.

“Well, it would-“

“I agree with the third elder. Despite his brutish language. Yorbal’s is currently one of the few ways in which Ishlan keeps competitive. It would be foolhardy to give that up.” said the second elder, as he smoked from his wooden pipe.

“Just give me a moment to elaborate, I can-“

“Thank you but we have taken a decision. 4 and a half votes declining the motion. Please move unto the next item on the list” dictated the first elder; his voice a low monotone.

“Yes sirs. The second proposition was for Ishlan to employ some Whisperers. As we all know, Ishlan is home to some very unstable weather. The addition of Whisperers would help with this and provide room for agricultural growth as well as a boost to tourism.” Nadas, managed to get through a full statement this time.

“I always detested the Whisperers. Why would one want to go against nature itself? Rideon provides and Rideon takes away. It’s not for us to decided the flows of the weather,” the second elder proclaimed. He was still smoking his pipe and his voice had become quite raspy.

“It’s not more than what we do everyday your highness. It would just help the weather be more manageable that’s all.” retorted Nadas.

“While I don’t agree with the second’s reasoning I do still decline the proposition. We have enough agriculture and to Whisperers would just be a waste. I think-“

“Enough!” The third elder was interrupted by Nadas’s exclamation. “You think that the Whisperers would be a waste? That’s a joke. Ishlan is a land blessed with an abundance of natural resources yet it is one of the poorest countries in all of Droengard if not Rideon. Your people face the heaviest taxes and what do they get? Impassable roads, unsteady weather, a lack of housing! A country with some of the hardest workers I’ve ever met suffers because their leaders stay in a white mansion. Their needs provided on the blood, sweat and garr of their people. And yet you have the audacity to say that investing into your own country is a waste. You are the waste.”

The elders were quiet, they seemed to be pondering over Nadas’ words. The third elder was the one to break the silence.

“You seem to have come here with a limited idea of how this country operates young lad” he said as he stood up from his chair. “We Ishlanites are certainly hardworking people, we don’t take anything for granted.”

“Where are you going?” Nadas asked as the third elder was walking out the door.

“I came here to discuss business. I have no time to talk sense into a child who thinks he knows more than he does.” And with that the third elder walked out the room.

The second and first elders followed suit.

“We’re sorry,” said the first elder, “But we really do have urgent matters to attend to and like the third said, we think it might be best to do this at a later date. Enjoy your stay at Yorbel, the help will show you around.” And with that they were off, leaving nothing but an empty room and an empty Nadas behind.


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