Voidwalker: Chapter One, p8

He stood quietly on a balcony overlooking the only entrance into the old city, the Gilded Gate of the aristocracy. He was leaning on the rails while calmly smoking his pipe and watching the crowds below. Merchants attempting to hawk extravagant wares to the rich citizens passing through, messengers delivering missives of varying relevance, and petitioners seeking audience with their rulers.

There was always something new going on here. Even at night there would be people busying themselves with work they thought important. On a fine day like this, it was practically thronged with people and carriages.

Because it was the only way to reach the noble quarters, and there the Royal Halls, emissaries from all manner of lands would pass through as they sought audience with the prince regent or other officials in the Royal Guild.

Most of them would be humans, dressed in a variety of clothing reflecting the styles of their homeland. The slender Laerinn in their elegantly sparse robes, the meticulous Arlathians with their thick referencing tomes and attendant scriveners, or the Aernuans with their lavish entourages.

Of course, not all emissaries were from the human lands; Malqish dealt with its fair share of emissaries from other civilizations as well.

Such as that anuran, with its brownish skin, bulbous eyes, and long, slender limbs. The amphibians, or toads as the slur went, were seldom seen outside of their marshland homes. But trade between their enclaves and this city flourished, and so emissaries from their various broods would come here to arrange treaties ever so often.

Or that nephaim, towering above the rest of the crowd in proper homage to the half-giant name. There had been trouble in the west, so it was hardly surprising to find an emissary of the Sultanate in the city. He was likely here to speak with the prince regent concerning the rumors that either side (depending on which rumors one listened to) was mobilizing an army near Solmuth. Though he was a bit scraggly for an emissary, and dressed practically like a peasant. Most likely a messenger for a Sollim emissary, then. Perhaps even a mamluq; would explain the double-bladed axe, as well.

His gaze wandered, gliding over the crowd in quiet reflection. So many people, living life as usual, with no idea that things were about to change dramatically.

A gargoyle, here? Now that was a rarity indeed. There was no mistaking the creatures, though. With their mottled grey hides and glowing eyes they were quite distinctive even disregarding their protruding faces and curved onyx horns. He could not help but ponder what such a creature would be doing so far from their homeland as he watched it stride past the nephaim, who had become embroiled in a heated debate with the gate captain.