From the Journals of Anis Al-Farid, the Explorer and companion of Nigel the Sage and Glenn, Get of Erwin, the Warrior.
|The Nobility Menagerie|
I write further of my time with the Lords and Ladies of the Silent Kingdoms. We were welcomed into the Kingdom of one that we referred to in our common tongue as The Lord of Wolves. During our time with the Lord we learned some of the history and customs of these people.
On the first night The Lord of Wolves held a Grand Court, inviting his Vassals from across his Dominion. They came, draped in strange clothes made of leather, wools and metals which were dyed in extravagant ways. The three of us were Guests of Honor and our Host made sure to keep the three of us close as his Vassals arrived.
As each of the Vassals entered the Great Hall, they approached the Lord. They exchanged salutations with The Lord of Wolves and he would speak to us in Mannish the names of the Guests. All of them were exquisitely dressed and unlike any person we had ever encountered on Nod -- even the nuances of their physical characteristics were unique to them.
There was the Black Baroness of the West in attendance with a group of her hooded Thralls. She was draped in heavy black cloths, leaving only her pure-white face exposed. Her Thralls were covered head-to-toe in black cloths themselves, but wore veils that obscured their physicality. The Baroness, when greeting the Lord extended her hand while removing a long, black glove from it. The Baroness was similar the Lord of Wolves, in that her fingers and hand were long and taloned, but instead of being hirsute, were wrinkled, brown and hairless.
The Magnificent Crimson Lord of the East, in bespoke metal armor with his Thrall-lover. The Magnificent had great scars upon his face, throat and hands, as if he had endured a great many battles in close-combat. Indeed, his metal regalia indicated his position as some kind of Warrior or Knight in this land. As he extended left hand to the Lord, we noticed he was missing two fingers. He had a male lover with him, that he had dressed in close-fitting leathers for this occasion. This was the first time we had a closer look at the Thralls as The Lord of Wolves called them in Mannish. They appeared not dissimilar from their Masters -- which made us wonder just what separated Master from Slave in this land.
The Aged One of the North with pure-white hair and skin like paper -- in attendance by himself. He was taller than the others. He wore a large medallion on his chest made of some precious metal like platinum. This medallion was carved the face of a Great Lizard, a Dragon. He seemed impossibly ancient, but moved with a grace just as much, if not more, than the others.
Others: the Veiled Woman, the Chattering Cabal, the Leathered Lady, the King of Shadows. We stood politely with our Host as they arrived, not wanting to offend the Nobility of this strange new land we found ourselves in.
Though it was not obvious to us at first, it was during this Court that we realized these Silent Kingdoms had a language of their own. They spoke to one another through the chattering of their teeth and the clicking of their tongues. Sometimes this chattering and clicking was punctuated through a forced grunt or rattling-yowl -- like animals. Nigel, the Sage, whispered his observation to me after our shared realization, "Al-Farid, these Men speak without breath. Indeed, it is my observation that we are amongst Men that do not breathe at all."
In our studies of the Six Tribes of Men, it is known that each had distinct physical differences even during the mythical time in Eden -- and that these differences were accentuated further by the thousands of years hence. But the loss of the need for breath? This made no sense.
Our Host, in a private moment, spoke to us once all of the Guests had arrived. "I trust. . .you are. . .comfortable?" He spoke in a forced manner, as if a mechanical bellows were being pressed within his chest.
"Yes, you have been most generous! But we have observed the manner in which you speak, this is like no language known to us."
"Yes. . .this is our language. . .but we have retained this ancient Trade Language. . .as I speak it to you now."
"Forgive my intrusiveness, but it seems to be a labor for you to speak to us in this way?"
"There is much. . .that would have to be explained." The Lord of Wolves silently regarded me for a long moment. He glanced towards the Guests, who were now greeting and mingling with one another before speaking again. ". . .it is a Great Tragedy. . .We do not speak of it."
"Each of us here have had Tragedy. My people, the Hassan, who settled in the Wastes far South from here, must always travel -- never able to permanently create a home -- due to the dangers there. My companions from the far West are refugees from a State that had robbed them of their families under the guise of Order. Surely you can speak to us, some, of your own!"
"I will share this much. . .with you now. . .as the Feast will begin soon. . .and our tables have been prepared. . .we were once Slaves. . .treated worse than cattle. . .now we are the Masters. . .but we follow. . .a Code. . .and we are Kind Masters."
Just as the Lord of Wolves finished speaking this, one of his hooded Thralls approached us, clicking and chattering in their language. The Lord translated for us, suddenly exuberant: "All is prepared. . .my Guests. . .Come!"