“You look awful. Are you alright?”
“I am fine, thank you. I get that a lot.”
Rethais rubbed his eyes wearily as he sat down at the table alongside Kayel, the All-Ksa of the Skyavok. Really, Kayel looked far worse for wear than Rethais did, but they both had an aura of exhaustion about them. Kayel had been securing a future for his race after a catastrophe destroyed their home lands. Rethais was juggling the needs of his race against the will of their race’s dictator. Needless to say, both of them were very stressed out.
“So why are you here?” Kayel asked, fiddling with what looked like a small lump of sticky clay.
“To be honest, I am not sure. Kenon just requested my presence here, then decided he had other obligations…”
“Huh. I don’t know either. He wanted to discuss something about our own territory or something. Your High General is never particularly clear with me.”
Rethais took a moment to examine the tiny Skyavok. Kayel had bright yellow armour, which wasn’t too strange. But his skin was incredibly dark, almost black. Mostly. Tiny scars lined his arms, and Rethais was pretty sure he was wearing his wristbands specifically to cover up what looked like bite marks.
“Kayel, may I ask you a personal question?”
Kayel smiled. “Of course! I like questions.”
“Are you alright?” Rethais asked, looking concerned. “You look ill.”
“Nah, I’m not ill. Just really stressed out. I know Kenon doesn’t like us living on his land. He wants to use us in exchange for letting us live. We’re not learning to be nurses and doctors and all that fast enough for him.”
“You have little scars all over yours arms…” Rethais queried with some worry.
“That’s just my stress scratching. Nothing to worry about.”
Rethais leaned forward. “Kayel, you do not seem particularly truthful in your words today.”
Kayel responded by rolling his eyes. “Well maybe I do not want to give you the whole truth? Maybe, if I show my weaknesses, you and your ilk will hurt the Skyavok further? The Voidlord giveth and the Voidlord taketh away, Rethais. Right now, he is certainly doing a lot more of one than the other, and it pains me that we have such debts that your kind are leveraging against us in these trying times. The Rethavok survived almost in their entirety. The Skyavok lost everything. Again.”
Rethais sighed. He knew Kayel was right. Kayel however tutted, then went back to fiddling with the piece of clay, moulding it into a vague Panvok shape before stabbing it with his claws. Clearly Kayel was frustrated.
“I… I am sorry, Kayel.”
“Oh fuck off. You’re just as helpless as the rest of us. Kenon seems to like the Rethavok more than his own race of naive former worshippers, but he still has almost all of us trapped under those stupid gilded thumbs of his. Making his own dumb fake utopia.”
Kayel took a deep breath, squishing the clay together in his hands.
“When he’s gotten it all together, it’ll be a nice utopia. For those he likes, of course. Because of me and my sweet words, my distrust of his old religion, he doesn’t like the Skyavok any more.”
“I am doing my best to try and change that…” Rethais tried to explain, before suddenly being interrupted by Kayel slamming his fist into the clay and the desk. The Skyan leader was not at all intimidating in any way, but the sudden outburst definitely caught Rethais by surprise.
“You don’t understand, Rethais. Kenon is making it all nice and paradise-y now! But why now, when we have 75% of the population DEAD? If he is so powerful, why didn’t we live in a paradise before this all happened?”
Kayel took another deep breath, putting his head in his hands, then getting up from the table. They had both been waiting here for an hour, and the High General clearly wasn’t going to show up now.
“I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. You’re as fucked as I am. We have no control over any of this. But I have to get going now. I have Skyans to teach. Can’t turn an entire race into nurses and medics in a day now, can we?”
“I guess… I shall inform Kenon that we plan to reschedule this meeting for a different time…” Rethais sighed as he got up and led Kayel to the door, where his guards were waiting for him outside. “Is there a date or time you prefer?”
“No, no…” Kayel tutted. “Just get it sorted whenever. I don’t really care. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, really…”
“Understandable. Stay safe, All-Ksa.”
“You too…” Kayel waved as he walked off. “You too…”