Freldo Cuirinia gulped down the fruit of the cactus, the clear juice running from the corners of his mouth. Corolla Fumaroli's eyes followed the scintillating drops sliding slowly along his neck until they were lost in the creases of the laughing nobleman's rich wiva collar.
"Why do you laugh so, sir?"
Freldo chewed another piece loudly and swallowed before turning to the other Matis, "Because I eat these fruits as the Fyros do! The hands do not soil when they do not do the job of the teeth, as they say."
Corolla instantly froze. She could not help looking at Freldo's teeth, which seemed to suddenly grow like those of a hungry gingo.
"Our botanists created quite a few varieties of these desert plants without prickles. We can therefore take pride in being able to eat their fruits without soiling our hands, either with their juice by eating them or with our blood by picking them. And you, Corolla, do you know how to taste these fruits without soiling yourself?"
The young Matis noblewoman looked at Freldo with veiled annoyance. His mother-of-pearl complexion was a contrast to the black parok below it. An empty sheath hung at his right hip and he reached for it nervously from time to time. He smiled, followed the look of Corolla and then gestured toward the absent weapon.
"These Fyros... They are not stupid. They attempt to understand our knowledge, our culture and the force of our civilization. This is why they detest us: because they do not understand us. But you did not come to speak to me of barbarians. Come, walk with me."
Corolla smiled thinking of the words of her mother:
"A flower opens only when it is ready! Colored petals can be seen all year long. It is the plant which chooses the moment, not the season... Do not allow yourself to be influenced by the stings of the winter, the shades of the autumn, the warmth of the summer or the promises of the spring. Be like the Bark! But... if your heart tells you to open, only then unfold your charms. There is a Fyros tree which flourishes only in the winter. You will adapt and you will be strong."
Corolla smiled. When she finally spoke, it was without passion.
"The King is very much displeased. His vassals beg for everything and his noblemen did not move during the attack of the marauders. Eat, Freldo, eat. Stuff yourself with these fruits from which the Matis botanists have removed the prickles. Soon, Yrkanis will deprive you of their softness as well."
Two guards and a finely wrought door stood between Queen Lea and the Royal Chamber.
"I'm sorry, my Queen. The King gave us orders to let no one enter."
"But I am the Queen!"
"He said that no one enters."
Lea looked each of the guards in the eye but neither one flinched. The King's anger was rare but it could cost one's life. The Queen's anger was common but its only threat was that of an imposing presence. The Queen disappeared in the shade of the hall, but the guards heard the whisper of her dress for an eternity.
The King was sitting on the bed, almost naked, a talisman laid on his chest: a red kirosta, writhing in the embrace of a shaded green root that resembled a curved homin. Yrkanis held the pendant between his fingers and murmured, his eyes fixed on an effervesecent image before him.
"Jena! Kainae!" As the King hurled the talisman to the ground, the shimmering form became clear.
Jena! Jena had appeared in front of the King of the Matis. She sat with crossed legs, motionless, and smiled at him. A bright, radiating light struck his heart, the heart of the son of Yasson, like his father's shooting arrow which marked the site of the Matis capital. It was sublime! So powerful! Yrkanis yearned for it, going through each gesture, never wearying...
Every day, the King locked himself up in his chamber, just to look at her. Her, Kainae! The Goddess... No-one but he had seen her and he took a certain pleasure from that knowledge. She seemed to always speak at the end, but what did she say? What language did she speak? Mateis? Every evening, Yrkanis hung on the lips of Jena and tried to determine what she spoke.
The King had arisen early to sit on the throne. Adorned in his battle armour, he listened for several hours to the reports of his most faithful soldiers.
The marauders had manifested themselves, led by a certain Akilia, and had penetrated into the Majestic Gardens. They were not very numerous this time, but they had crept far into the Matis territories without being caught. A small worry, certainly, but who knows what the strange Fyros of the Ancient Lands had in store for the Matis? This time, they had been pushed back by a band of Matis refugees. This time.
Yrkanis, King of the Matis, was furious. His noblemen had not moved. Few were present this day.
Siniello Anindi faced him. "Na Karan, I already have a number of homins capable to serve you. They have fought again and again and they will not back down in the face of this threat!"
"Who are they, Sir Anindi?"
"Refugees, my King."
"Then you are more perceptive than I would have believed, Siniello Anindi! Contact the leaders of all the Matis guilds to send us these refugees as quickly as possible. Tell them that their King commands them."
Chronicles of the time of King Yrkanis by Cuiccio Perinia, Royal Historian.