An Audience with Eternal
Mouthpiece started this day as he did with all others. He woke up in his chamber at the top of a Myrmidon made spire overlooking the sea and the chasm ahead, the heart of Genesis, and the future home of his beloved Queen. The entirety of the chamber was always inundated with a peculiar odor, that of chemicals. Every breath Mouthpiece received this airborne concoction in full, and it was euphoric. Across the room from his bed stood a desk lining the tough, rigid wall of hardened webbing. On this desk were two objects. The first object of the two was familiar, and ogling it felt like greeting a lover upon rousing from slumber. It was a vial. A vial of a green, disgusting-looking goop. Nevertheless, Mouthpiece opened the vial and consumed the substance greedily in one, singular gulp. The green liquid danced past his lips, beyond his tongue, and leapt down his throat while embracing every last inch in a loving embrace. Every organ in his body lit up simultaneously. His skin tingled, his hairs stood on end. His heart pumped excited blood into overjoyed lungs, returning it to the heart who then shared this gift with the rest of the body. His mind became flooded with joy and pleasure, perfectly clouded before suddenly clearing. Reality returned, and with it came a message instilled from within. In that instant, he could clearly understand the Queen's instructions to her hive and to himself. He was compelled to examine the second object.
The second object, in contrast to the first, felt foreign to his routine. It was a singular piece of parchment held closed with a silky thread in a knot. Mouthpiece undid the binding and unfurled the small parchment, eagerly pursuing its message. The sheet was scrawled in an otherworldly script, inhuman in origin. Mouthpiece could understand the writing, as it was his own people's, and proceeded to examine it.
“To my dear Mouthpiece,
I require you to travel into Salina and request an audience with its ruler, Eternal. The lands of Aiolia are still within his possession, and therefore his jurisdiction. I seek to expand the hive into an additional colony just southwest of Salina, and I need his consent to do it. It is my understanding that the sand-covered island off of the western coast is unused and lacks any planned usage. Eternal may be hard-pressed to relinquish more land, which is why you will be accompanied by two bishops, including the future countess of the new colony. Hopefully, their subtly emitted secretions can sway his mind, granted you prolong the conversation enough for the effects to kick in. If he presses, tell him that the purpose of the colony is to become more intimately connected with the capital Salina. My deployed knight tells me that he is currently present, and should remain so for some time. Make haste and Hail to the Queen!
P.S. Bring your bow. The crowds of Secunda are a violent people and are irate towards our Myrmidons. Spare no mercy should you or your escort be endangered en route.”
With this, Mouthpiece rolled the parchment back up and stepped onto his balcony, letting out a chattering, buzzy screech. His two escorting bishops flew to his sides. The trio briefly nuzzled together while exchanging chitterings and buzzing remarks. The bishop who was a designated countess was already developing a much larger, plump abdomen, and Mouth was reminded of their Queen. Mouthpiece went back into his room to retrieve his expertly crafted bow and his hardened chitin mask. The mask, known as the Chitonous Crown, was made of hardened webbing and featured two protruding horns, a pair of great mandibles, and many sharpened spikes raised skyward. He put on his mask, put his bow on his back, and the two bishops took Mouthpiece into their arms and flew him to the gates towards Secunda.
Secunda was a fledgling city immediately south of Genesis. It wasn’t as developed or as large as the 4 great cities represented in the Council of Chalíki. However, the city was growing fast, and there were even Secundan sentiments of joining the Council. The city had always revered the ancient Aiolian ruins on the island North, but that island was now the home of Myrmidons, which has caused a great amount of tension between the two settlements. This was immediately shown when Mouthpiece and his entourage crossed the river into the city. The workers on the docks all paused, staring at the Myrmidon party. A couple of the especially bold and burly men even started to approach the group. Mouthpiece pulled out his bow quickly and carried it by his side, leaving it clearly visible. The workers quietly backed off and resumed their labor. The trio quickly walked through the open, stone docks and headed into the crowded streets on Secunda. Mouthpiece told the 2 bishops to stay low and they hurriedly shuffle down the streets. They pulled into the city square when a preacher grabbed a box and stood on it, towering above the crowd in the street. The preacher, a rotund, older man with a monk-like hairstyle, loudly and greedily inhaled the air as if to store as much as he could. Then, in an instant, it was let out.
“Attention, my fellow Secundan men. The Bugger filth has shown itself again in our great city! Too long has our fair Aiolia been tainted by this infestation! The Buggers have taken the ruins of our heritage and they have defiled it! They erect their crude mounds and scurry around in their godless darkness! They seek to infest our lands and drag us into the dark with them! I say no more! My fellow Secundan men, I implore you! I beg of you all to make an example of these stray dark ones so that we may expel their dark forces from these lands! Have at them! Show them fury! Show them what happens when you mess with our great city! Show them what happens when you mess with Secunda! Who's with me!?”
For a moment, the streets were tranquil again. Nobody said a word, everybody stopped, and the city was in stasis. This moment was the silence between two strikes of lightning, between two cracks of terrible thunder. Then, a single man cheered. Then, the whole street lit up in the cheering of Secundan citizens. Mouthpiece and the bishops were now running, but the square had become a box of angry mobs. The bishops let out clouds of gas from their abdomens, flooding the crowd with a low green fog. It was a pacifying agent, but their fiery passion wouldn’t succumb immediately. Many onlookers just stood back and cheered on, but a large wave of hateful citizens rushed forth. Mouthpiece loosed several arrows into the crowd with marksman accuracy, piercing the heads of some rioters. The bishops grabbed onto Mouthpiece and were trying to lift off of the ground, but the mob was grabbing onto their legs, pulling them down.
Then, as suddenly as the riot flared, a squadron of at least 15 Myrmidon knights came pouring out of the well in the middle of the square, rushing into the crowd. The knights chittered to the bishops to run as they distracted the mob. The bishops were released and they flew above the crowd, landing on a nearby street out of the commotion. The trio fled from the scene as fast as possible, running past city guards rushing to see what was the matter. When they approached the gate outwards, it was a welcome sight. Finally, they were past violent Secunda, en route to Salina.
Outside of Secunda, the damage inflicted was finally felt. The bishop not designated to be a countess had their legs nearly pulled out of their sockets by hateful hands. That bishop had to stay behind, it could not make the journey to Salina. It limped over to the gatehouse and curled up against the wall, hoping to be rescued by some other Myrmidon passing by. That bishop would end up dying alone on that wall, having been battered beyond recovery. The riot would become known as just another scuffle in the volatile city of Secunda. A scuffle that killed twelve humans and seven Myrmidons, leaving injuries on another seventeen humans and the rest of the present Myrmidons. The now duo left towards Salina on foot. Mouthpiece was simply too heavy to be carried far by a single bishop. Fortunately, the remainder of the journey was uneventful, and the two safely arrived at the capital of Aiolia, bustling Salina itself.
Upon entering Salina, two more Myrmidons approached Mouthpiece and the bishop. One was a bishop, and another was a knight. They knew of the riot, and the bishop had come as a replacement. The knight then tended to the injuries of the two travelers. Luckily enough, Mouthpiece was virtually unharmed and the bishop had minor bruises and scrapes. Before the knight departed, he handed a package to Mouthpiece. It was a long purple cape made of the finest Myrmidon bishop silk. The knight chittered to Mouthpiece, telling him that he needs to look nice for his meeting with Eternal. Finally, the trio gave their farewells to the knight and headed from the square up to the great castle at the core of Salina. The bystanders of Salina were far less heated than their Secundan counterparts, leaving the party to press on with nothing more than dirty looks and slurs. They had finally made it to their destination.
The trio approached a pair of heavily armored guards in front of the castle. The guards approached to ask of their business, but a raspy, booming voice started to the side of the party, “Let them pass, they are our honored guests, gentlemen!” there was nobody around them, but Mouthpiece was used to this sensation. He knew that it was none other than Eternal himself who had spoken. The guards stood back, letting them pass. A golem came out of the throne room and held the door so that they could enter. The golem, however, brushed past Mouthpiece somewhat roughly when he walked past. This was entirely accidental, given the golem's clumsy motor control. Eternal, however, took full notice.
Eternal sat on a diamond and gold throne on the side of the room, glaring deeply into every individual's soul at once. He sat there for a little while, the room completely devoid of noise. Finally, his raspy voice continued “Good evening, my esteemed guest. I am guessing that you are here on the behest of your Queen. Tell me, puppet, when is your master going to show herself in Candarion?” Mouthpiece stood silent. He had never followed orders from anyone other than The Queen before. “I see, silence it is, my stoic little puppet. Very well, what is Her business?” Eternal had spoken. “She requires land for an additional colony southwest of here, on a sand-covered island unused by you.” Mouthpiece returned. He could feel the steady release of an invisible, but familiar gas into the air of the room. Eternal sat still again, still boring a hole with his cold, dark eyes. “I’ve never even seen this “great Queen” of yours, yet she's asking for more of my land? Is your iIsland not enough?” “She's told me that this is in order to more intimately be connected with your Salina.” Mouthpiece responded. Eternal exhaled sharply, maintaining his ceaselessly invading eye contact. He finally relented and looked around the room, his eyes finding a new host in his golem within the room. He started again “I’ve observed this golem, this creation of mine, puppet. My insolent child here has disrespected you, my honored guest.” He scoffed “This is, of course, unacceptable.” Mouthpiece was confused, he had already forgotten about the golem's misstep, forgiving the poor creature. “I’m sorry, It's disrespected me how, exactly?” The room grew darker for no discernible reason. It was such a darkness that was not simply a lack of light, but one that ate at the light surrounding it, engulfing it at it’s source. “It brushed you roughly when you entered the room, puppet. Do not defend it.” He said. “I cannot have rude servants. This one is useless to me now, vestigial.” He paused for a moment, alternating his gaze between the both of them, studying every last inch of their being. He started once more “Kill it. It has offended you, after all” Silence ensued. He repeated, “Kill it! Has it not offended you?”
Mouthpiece looked at the golem. It was honestly pitiful. The thing had hollow, black eyes, yet those empty eyes called out for help within an unresponsive body. Eternal spoke again, “Come here, my creature.” The golem slowly stumbled forward, unable to do anything else. The void of the eyes were filled with dread and fear, but the body stood, and then kneeled for its master. Mouthpiece spoke up, “I don’t think this is necessary.” Eternal's gaze now fixed on Mouthpiece. “Do it, now!” The way Mouthpiece had stalled the conversation left the bishops' secretions a good amount of time to act, but there was no way to save the golem. Mouthpiece took up his bow, grabbed an arrow, and drew back. He stared down the arrow's length into the golem's empty eyes. Then finally, he released.
The arrow penetrated the golem's gourd head, killing it instantly. It’s hulking body slumped over, lifeless, and Eternal cackled loudly and then looked over, satisfied, to Mouthpiece. “Well shot, little puppet.” He sniffed and then continued, “The air smells of a peculiar odor. Let’s finish this little deal of ours so I can step out.” So Mouth responded, “What do you say?” Eternal leaned back into his throne and giggled, “fine, I’ll allow it. That is, as long as I am able to see your master soon.” Mouth let out a small smile, he had accomplished his goal. He had done exactly what his Queen had wanted, and he hoped that She'd be proud. “She'll be arriving soon enough” Mouthpiece said. He wasn’t lying, every Myrmidon could feel her presence becoming stronger every day. Eternal seemed satisfied. “Very good,” he said. “She has promised me a share of esoteric knowledge through you. I am very excited to see what lies within her mind, puppet.” He paused for a second, “You are free to go. Tell your Queen the good news.” And so he did. Mouthpiece stepped outside with two bishops in tow. His mission was complete, and he smiled gleefully to himself, glad that the ordeal was finished.