They could smell his fear, no matter how hard Ver tried to hide it. They wanted to meet the King of the Vrekans in person, so that was what Ver was doing. Of course he had brought some of his elite soldiers, the Myst, with him, but Ver was doing his best to keep things calm and civil.
“You are Vrekan King.”
“I am!” Ver replied cheerfully. “And you are the Ita and Ioda of this large Banikan tribe, yes?”
The two Banikans stood proud and tall, towering over Ver. They were massive, hulking beings, their heavy horns making them seem even bigger. Ver wondered how many beings had been skewered on those horns.
The Ioda, the female, grunted. “Vrekans and Banikans not friends. Not allies. Never been so.”
“Well, Vrekans and Banikans have all changed. The Vrekans have definitely changed.” Ver knew his fear was showing. The tips of his arm blades were poking from his sheathes. He couldn’t help it. “We have new leaders now. I am a better leader now. The old, Banikan-hating leaders of the Vrekans? They’re gone now. I am in charge.”
“With the Rethavok.”
“Yes, with the Rethavok.”
The Ioda growled, then grunted something at the Ita before turning back to Ver.
“Neither Vrekans nor Rethavok. All enemies. Even Threavok. All keep away. Not enemies like Temthans. Not enemies like Raptors. But not friends. None are. All use and abuse Banikans. Like we are servants. No more. Banikans are own selves.”
“I know…” Ver hesitated. “We don’t want to abuse you or use you.”
“Banikans are strong now. We stick together. Away from monsters like you! You call us monsters when you are all monsters!”
“You’re not monsters…” The Vrekan King sighed, then turned to the Myst. Maybe they were putting the Banikans off. He knew that the Temthans would want to use the Banikans, and he knew the Kronospasts would seek to destroy them all, because of how… dangerous they could be. “Yes, you can be dangerous, but anyone can be dangerous when pushed the wrong way. I don’t want that.”
The Ioda growled again, but the Ita seemed… not convinced, but curious.
“Why do you not want that? Why do you care?” The Ita was calm. “Why do Vrekans care now?”
“Because…” Ver was not sure how to answer. “Well, you do make a valid point. The Reth-Vrekan union was happy to leave you alone. But we know the Temthans are moving, and the Kronospasts are consolidating their power again. We don’t need you to fight for us. We don’t want your help. But we don’t want them to use you. Because that is exactly what the Temthans will do. We don’t want the Kronospasts to needlessly slaughter you.”
The Ioda glanced at the Ita. She was unconvinced.
“Someone sent you. Did Rethavok send you?”
“No one sent me, I am here to help you. I came here in person to show you that I can be trusted. You wanted me to come here.”
“We want to know if you tell truth or lies. The Temthans, they send some. They desecrate. We kill. You tell half truth!” The Ioda was growling loudly now. “Something sent you! Union left us alone until now!”
“Up until now, everything had been peaceful!” Ver snapped. “We leave you alone but you are on the edge of Union territory, we do not want you to be harmed!”
“Easy now you lot…” A familiar voice echoed as the breeze picked up. Between the Vrekans and the Banikans, the Lord of Death appeared. “You asked who sent King Ver? I sent him.”
The Banikans immediately lowered themselves before their god.
“Now, now…” The Thantophor was smiling. “I know you are worried about strangers, but I am only here to help, and so is King Ver.”
The Ioda glanced at the Ita.
“God intervention…” the Ita muttered.
“But good intervention?”
The Ioda tutted. “Fine. Banikans will consider. But we discuss with small tribes first. Understand?”
Ver bowed. “Thank you, I appreciate that.” He watched as the Thantophor delicately placed his claws on the heads of the Banikans. The pair bowed, then turned around and retreated back into the safety of their tribe.
“We done here, my Lord?” one of the Myst soldiers behind Ver asked.
“Yes. We are done here…” Ver sighed. “Let’s give these Banikans some space…”