Reuel rubbed his temples at the arrogance. All six Western kings and queens gathered at once, yet only bickering and arguing was heard. There were bigger problems to be considered now, not petty troubles from a hundred years ago.
A hundred years ago… a time the Eastern kingdoms had been foolish and young and unreliable. Their rulers had been old men incapable of seeing reason or of feeling remorse. They had begun wars that had ended in their slaughter.
A hundred years ago they had been presumptuous, self-asserting, pompous children.
A hundred years later they stood strong- powerful.
The first time the Eastern kingdoms had ever stood against the West and won. A great battle that descended upon Mirellas’ territory that now stood in flames and despair. A tragic event, but one Reuel had warned of.
Because while the other five lords squabbled over miniscule events such as trades or balls or acts of indifference, Reuel had seen the shifting in the East. He had watched and listened as heirs had taken thrones, as laws had slowly shifted, and alliances had begun to form.
A year ago, the West had gathered just as they are now and had chosen to ignore Reuel in his warning.
“The East gathers!” He had slammed his fist against the table. “They grow stronger whilst we cannot agree on the simplest of issues. Tell me we are not truly this fatuous to ignore them”
“The East is the East. They will do what they have always done- talk. If history has shown us anything it is that they disagree more than us.”
“Eirene is right.” Mirella had said, “There is nothing of concern that draws our attention away from the matters at hand here, at home.”
Now her kingdom laid in shambles- her peoples cry heard from continents away.
“We must do something!” The Queen now screamed. “They have attacked my citizens and burned my cities. The innocent lives lost cannot be unavenged!”
“How can we retaliate if we do not know their strength? The number of their forces? The quality of their armies? We could walk straight into the slaughter of our own if we come to your aid.” Eirene calmly countered.
Mirella's voice strained, “So you will stand and watch as my people suffer?”
“No, but we must be smart about this.” Eirene placed a gentle hand on her friend’s shoulder. “We must ensure our victory before we march into battle, or more lives could be sacrificed.”
Deimos laughed as he sat back in his chair, resting his feet against the table. “I say the attack was well deserved.” His accent was thick, almost unintelligible.
“Your people have taunted the East for years, taken advantage of their work and people. Did you not go into Queen Alida’s territory demanding more workers for your mines, or is that some false rumor my spies heard? The attack was well earned.”
“That is certainly untrue!”
Reuel sighed, his head beginning to throb.
“Still grateful to have inherited such a throne?” Amara whispered from her seat, a gentle smile on her face.
Beauty- that was the simple word Reuel would use to describe Amara. Beauty in all things- in everything she was. A beauty that shone in the heart.
Reuel smirked grimly. “A responsibility I would gladly pass to my brother if I could, but we both know he makes a better general than king.”
“I can’t say I’m not grateful for you here. You’re far more entertaining than he could’ve ever been.”
“I don’t understand,” Ashbel shook his head. The youngest at the table, and only his fifth meeting since taking the throne from his late mother. “Why would the East wish to attack us at all? Are we not their partners? Do both sides do not defend one another from the creatures of the North?”
Deimos laughed again, this time louder. “The creatures of the North? Fantasy! Legend to scare poor babes like yourself. The East and West do not defend one another- we loom over the them as it has always been. We use them for their lands, boy.”
“Food!” Deimos leaned forward, grimacing at the unlearnt boy. “Look out at the world for once and you will see the Western territories are barren. We have mountains and miners and minerals- swords and shields and men- but we do not have the same farmlands.”
“…If the East rebels than we starve?”
Deimos tapped his nose, “Now he understands.” The bastard turned to Amara, “What do you make of all of this, old friend?”
“We are not friends, Deimos.” Amara corrected. “I cannot say that I have a firm opinion on what can be done as of yet. Queen Alida’s attack was guttural and brutal, but was it unjust?”
“Do not belittle-”
Amara continued despite Mirella’s interruption. “We have ignored our brethren to the East for longer than any of us have lived. Why have we not attempted to mend the relationship? Why have we not spoken or written or met with their rulers? Why must they be at fault when it is us that relies most heavily on them?”
“This is outrageous!” Mirella scuffed. “It has been your family that has kept the East on their leashes all this time. It is unquestionable that your armies are the most powerful here. If you marched the East will learn the consequences of attacking us.”
“Attacking you.” Amara again corrected. “And what of us learning the consequences of our own actions?”
“Reuel, what say you?” Eiren jutted. “You have been awfully quiet this meeting.”
Reuel rubbed his chin as he sat back in his chair. “I think Ashbel is right.”
Ashbel blinked, “I am?”
“Are you mad?” Deimos growled.
“I would be mad to ignore the past of our ancestors, which I have not.” Reuel looked to Amara as he stood. “A year ago, I stood before you and warned you of the East. Now I stand before you to say I now understand why they banded together so quickly, and why it is now Queen Alida decided to attack.”
“Don’t keep us in suspense, Reuel.” Amara teased.
“The monsters Ashbel spoke of are true. They are alive and stirring.”
“Blasphemy!” Deimos slammed his fist. “Monsters are not real!”
“They are very real, and they are up to something.”
“What reason does this give for the East to attack us?” Mirella snapped, “If what you say is true than it is our power and our armies that will protect us.”
Amara linked her fingers. “Protect us, not them, as it has always been.”
“Precisely,” Reuel sat back down. “They did not attack Mirellas’ territory out of revenge or hate, but rather out of fear. They need us as badly as we need them now more than ever.”
Deimos scowled, “Where is the proof? If you claim these monsters from the mountains are real, how do you know?”
“If you’ve forgotten, Deimos, the mountains are my neighbors. I’ve seen firsthand the horrors of the North- the beast we are to face when they gather the strength for the mountain pass.”
“You’re general has been making commotion with his troops up North. I’m assuming this is the reason?” Erine shook her head, “If this was true why did you not tell us sooner?”
“Charis has been in the North with my armies to be my eyes and ears whilst we worked on the matter.” Reuel gestured to Amara.
“You knew as well.”
Amara nodded, “I did.”
“Deimos and Erine are right; you should’ve told us sooner.” Ashbel crossed his arms- a confused and frustrated child.
Deimos held his chin high, “The first smart thing the boy speaks today. What are we to do about this?”
“The East still has to pay for what they’ve done to us.” Mirella chimed in, tears blinking in her eyes.
“We have not forgotten the reason of why this meeting was originally summoned.” Amara reassured, “Queen Alida will answer for her crimes, but we must also acknowledge our mistake as well.”
“It’s why-” Reuel took a deep breath, “It’s why Amara and I have called upon King Sahar to join us.”
Chairs rattled across the floor as all the Kings and Queens of the West stood, shouting, and screaming at once. Reuel remained seated as Amara rose, a stern and fierce look on her face as she ordered silence.
“Sit back down!” The words of a Queen who would not be ignored. “For the sake of this continent we will sit and listen to our counterparts of the East, and we will respond accordingly.”
“Have I interrupted?” King Sahar leaned against the doorway as though he wasn’t surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies.
“You were supposed to be here before the meeting began.” Reuel stood, greeting his friend.
A friend he and Amara had spent the last year building relations with. A friend who had warned him to look Northward, and to see the growing threat beyond the mountains.
“Ah,” Sahar shrugged, “Better late than never.”