A slightly longer snippet today because yesterday I, um. Shared part that I'd shared before.

Whoops.


The stonework of the structure dated back centuries, to before the country had been a country, and it was built upon the bones of older meeting places. Vaulted ceilings replaced thatch, which in turn had replaced overhanging branches and open sky. Leather chairs, wooden benches, skins spread before a fire; it was all the same in the end. Human comforts given to a place meant to offer hospitality in a space where different people came together for aid, for gain, for trade.

Hospitality is the cornerstone of all alliances. Hospitality, good will, and the weight of one’s word.

He pauses in his walk, his keys still hanging from that finger. His gaze travels the whole of the building’s facade. He can see all the structures that have gone before. He’s been inside all of them. It is a place wrought with power and blood, with desperation and hope, with retribution and honor. Currency humankind used to value. Currency his kind still did.

The man and woman waiting for him inside the conference room flinch as one when he enters the room. He smiles a private smile at this, and shuts the door soundlessly behind him. The room is lit from a dozen bulbs built into the ceiling, effectively banishing any and all deep shadows. The central air keeps the atmosphere inside a comfortable temperature that carefully hides the few cold pockets scattered about the room. He moves,  with carefully controlled, carefully bland motions. There is nothing present to cause husband and wife alarm, yet they recoil as if frightened.

Their shame is palpable.