Daren laughs, face rosy and flushed, breath sweet-sour with the heady scent of wine that isn’t his. The somewhat aging man wears simple gray clothes, long and easy and cool, unbothered as he would have been by the cold–what with the alcohol in his blood. Or if he even went outside. His yellow teeth are chipped, if not missing entirely, and an old gray face belies an age of ten or more years atop the mere forty-nine he has actually experienced. He looks right at home amongst the gray, drab cupboards, the dingy old floor that creaks in almost every spot, and the fireplace that serves as the home for a handful of barely-red embers.
The door opens, and a gust of cold wind shoves its way in on the two merry men about the dining table. From the blue-black outdoors and into the warm interior of her own home steps Ielis Raghn, the pensieve, ancient Ambassador Premiere of the Coghanese Executive Council.
The door shuts solidly, snapping like a thread the steady stream of cold air from the outside. Ielis dusts the snow from her boots and plods inside.
“Heyyyy!” Daren cheers jarringly when Ielis peeks into the kitchenette, the only other part of her home. He tilts himself back in his chair, and threatens to topple, before Ielis takes stock of her more unusual guest.
“Miss Raghn,” the man says, eloquent and formal, even going so far to stand from his chair–her chair–to offer it. His robes are the standard for a higher-echelon citizen. Sturdy boots, long, warm robes that end in a gold-yellow trim, but otherwise are devoid of any color save varying hues of ash-gray. An ambassador.
“Daren,” Ielis murmurs, a mirthful tone to her voice. “I said that our guest was to remain sober. Do you recall?”
“Oh, I-I haven’t,” the guest stutters. “I knew that you’d be late to the meeting, but I didn’t expect you to send someone to retrieve me to your home. Figured you were nice enough to get me out of the cold, that I shouldn’t drink your wine on top of it.”
Ielis smiles, and accepts the proffered seat. The guest laxes noticeably, before taking a seat next to Daren, on the other side of the table.
“Well then, Ambassador Semtur. What news have you to share with me?”
Daren sighs and stands up, rubbing his hands together to warm them, and steps to the front door. He exits the home into the cold, and the slamming of the door behind him acts as the cue for Semtur to respond.
“Well, allow me to preface this with the fact that I am fully aware that I could have simply engaged you at the office, but the presence of other Ambassadors would have made things more of a firestorm than a conversation.”
“I understand,” Ielis smiles. “To the point, please.”
“The CMV Tharsis was sunk yesterday evening. No survivors.”
“The pirates again?” Ielis furrows her brow.
“I am afraid so,” Ambassador Semtur returns. “The vessel lost ten crew and about forty ci worth of cargo.”
“It wasn’t meant to be carrying cargo,” Ielis notes.
“This is true. Cavalier Premiere Bansse loaded it with weaponry in an attempt to dissuade assault.”
“Forty ci worth of weapons?”
“That’s just it. How could forty ci worth of weapons actually outfit a ship that small? A ship with only ten crew aboard? That’s, what… three or four spears a person?”
Silence took the room for a bit. Daren’s coughing could be heard outside.
“The Tharsis was meant to be a test ship. Bait, for the pirates.”
“Yes,” Semtur returns.
“The Executive Council has been trying its best to assemble a navy of any kind. It’s an embarrassment to have other Sybjyri vessels come and go as they please, whilst we lag behind.”
“I understand that,” Semtur returns. “Do you think we could be unknowingly sunk by other Sybjyri ships?”
“I don’t think so,” Ielis replies. “But that is a fair point. How do we know the Tharsis was destroyed? As opposed to being simply lost at sea?”
“We sent a trailer vessel, only four hours in its wake. When it was reported missing. It saw nothing.”
“So it would seem,” the suave-dressed guest nods. “But we expected as much. The Sybjyri Straight tends to be very foggy, especially near Coghan.”
“So we effectively set up a way to lose a large capital investment of the Coghanese Executive Council, whilst simultaneously losing ten souls aboard–and also, we gave pirates forty ci worth of weapons?”
Semtur looks at the table before him, nodding gently.
Ielis sighs, and draws the bottle of wine before her on the table.
“Go retrieve Daren from outside, before he freezes to death. We’re going to be here for a while.”