The worst moment in Dragon Age Inquisition

I am planning to write a series of posts on Dragon Age Inquisition, a game I played for over 130 hours. I like the game, but that doesn’t mean I am impressed by the story(telling). The game is an enigma to me as it has good things and bad things, both in abundance.

Probably the most remarkable thing about the game is the mediocre story(telling). And when I write that, I have to give proof of such. And so I give you my first piece of evidence: the worst moment in the game, with an explanation why I consider the following the worst moment in Dragon Age Inquisition.

Flemeth in Dragon Age I.

In Dragon Age Origins(DA I), the first game, the hero is asked by Morrigan(that is the darkhaired woman in this movie clip) to kill her mother Flemeth(the older lady in the movieclip). Morrigan explains that Flemeth is an evil witch who rears children to use their bodies to perpetuate her own life. In other words, she is a truly evil being. It is never hinted at in DA I that Morrigan has it wrong and in fact the game goes as far as suggesting that Morrigan wants to do the same  as her mother, which seems to be the reason why she asks you to kill Flemeth and then help her get her pregnant. In fact, if you do not help her in becoming pregnant she leaves your party. Which was basically a disaster to me as at that time I played the game on nightmare level and it was centered around my three magic users party. In other words I was forced in the game to support a dubious and potential evil being to retain her assistance. And I consider this a good piece of writing because it forced me to make a moral choice. If I  had done the right thing I probably should have denied her request, thus losing a magic user.

When the hero in DA I confronts Flemeth with Morrigan’s accusations the hero has but two options. Either attack Flemeth or leave her be.There is no  way to check that Morrigan is lying or has it wrong. You either attack Flemeth or not. It is up to you. In my opinion the writers at that point never considered Flemeth to be anything more than an part of the background of Morrigan and the choices you made had nothing to do with Flemeth, but with Morrigan and gave the hero an boss battle in the bargain as Flemeth turns into a dragon.

Flemeth in Dragon Age II

In Dragon Age II Flemeth appears at the start of the game for a brief span to rescue the hero, named Hawke, from the Darkspawn, explaining that she survived the killing in the first DA through some magical means.  After that Flemeth has  no role in the game except that she asks Hawke to do her a favor in return for saving Hawke’s life. However, considering how Flemeth turns out in DA II, even in the brief moments she appears, it might well be that the writers thought of making more of her. One can’t deny she has a certain interesting quality.

Flemeth in Dragon Age III

In Dragon Age Inquisition(DA III) Flemeth appears only in the below scene and her role is totally at odds to the first DA for now she seems to be the embodiment of the good Elven god of justice Mythal.
This sudden change of events makes no sense at all. It is never hinted at in DA I or II. It is not even hinted at in DA III until this scene gets inserted and it doesn’t follow from what is told before nor does it fit in the story line nor does it fit with the character of Flemeth. It is just too much awkward writing to tie up loose ends from the previous games and turn Flemeth from an evil witch who kills children into some kind of good celestial being and for all purposes even an Elven god.

Flemeth is also talking about justice and we have no clue what she is on about. We get some mystical claptrap to make all her confusing lines interesting and we end with a total nonsensical series of delivered lines.

A book review: Light Boxes

Light BoxesLight Boxes by Shane Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some books are rather unusual and Light Boxes is one of them. The book is a fantasy in which anything is possible. February has come, but February has no intention of leaving and the towns people of a unnamed town are subjected to an unending spell of chilly weather dominated by snow and ice.
The towns people are late to resist, for how does one resist February? But February, now personified, kidnaps and murders children and the people, led by Thaddeus Lowe and the Solution, a group of men wearing bird-masks, plan a revolt.
But how to revolt against February?
How indeed.
Light Boxes reminded me of a dream I once had when I was feverish. Logic and reason, causality, death and any other rock solid idea are toyed with. People get killed, come to life later in the story, or make themselves even come to life. February is a man who can be killed, but his death will end the month too. But even February isn’t February, for he could be someone else. And perhaps the cause of all problems might not be February, but maybe it was the creators that should be blamed.
Shane Jones is not tied down by anything and he does not hold back on style either. Almost any kind or writing style is used and this is supported by the design of the book. Some pages just contain one word, others contain one line, some one line repeated over and over, jet others contain huge letters and some are just notes jutted down.
I personally like this kind of experimental writing and I liked the story, but I can understand that some people find it hugely annoying as it is a unusual book and writing style. I hope other books will follow.

View all my reviews

Henry and Kristl enter the Mists of Avalon (2001)

“So ever read the book?” Henry asked, “Seems like the kind of book you would have read, in your days…”

Kristl frowned, “My days? Sounds like I have outlived my shelf live. “

“Eh.. Well I mean, from when you were younger. When you read these books. Fantasy and such.”

Kristl gave Henry a look, “Gosh, you are starting to scare me.”

“Scare you?”

“Well, you are actually right, I have not read much fantasy for a long time. I got a bit tired with the copy and paste books that flooded the market. And we did not have the internet then to figure out the good from the bad. Or even the mediocre from the bad. You had to read the blurb and page through the book. Hundreds of them.”

“See.. I can listen,” Henry smiled sanguinely.

“Oh.. ah.. Well, we might even make a good woman out of you yet.”

“Let’s not go overboard now.”

“But the answer is no. I picked it up once as it had intriguing coverof a woman riding a horse and holding something up. A staff I think. Like a magic user.”

“And?”

“I gave it a try but never got past the first few pages. Perhaps I had lost interest in the whole Arthur legend at that time. The Arthur legend was another dead horse that was beaten ad nausea.”

“But did you read it , Henry?” Kristl asked.

“Nuu.. Fantasy is not my kind of thing.”

“So what do you think of this women movie.”

“Well.. it is a bit quaint.”

“Quaint?” Kristl said.

“Well it was nice to see eh the woman side of it all, but it was kind

of uneventful.”

“No kick ass girls in this one.”

“And full of ‘functional’ sex and even incest. I mean. It was as if the whole woman side of the Arthur legend consisted of scheming, backstabbing, incest and sex.”

“Apparently.”

“I wonder if it was written by a man.. a misogynistic one, ” Henry said.

Kristl laughed, “I was told Marion Zimmer Bradley was a woman. Perhaps the book gives a more favorable angle on the story. Turning a book into a movie usually means that the story has to be condensed and suffer.”

“Yeah.”

“I wonder if you can follow the story if you do not have some background information. Like it is never quite explained why Lot hates Arthur.”

“Some things are also strange. Like when Uther Pendragon sneaks into the castle of Gorlois, disguised as Gorlois, and beds Igraine she gets knocked up and then marries Pendragon, ” Henry said.

“Hmm,” Kristl said.

“Strange is also the decision of Morgause to spare Mordred. She first wants to kill him when he is a newborn baby but when the delirious Morgaine blurts out he is actually Arthur’s son, she spares him..But why? They say that when Arthur has no sons, they are next in line for the throne. So why let Mordred live?”

“I got the feeling that much what was in the book could not be put into the movie and thus we lack events that probably would make the storymore ‘sensible’,” Kristl said.

“Another strange thing is the passivity of Morgaine. I mean it seems like almost everything is happening to her and she is a bit helpless in the face of it. Like oh, right I am taken away to this Island to become a priestess. Oh right, I have to have sex with this guy in some ancientritual. Oh right, I am to be married off to king Uriens.”

“Oh wow, that was one of the dumbest scene ever. Arthur discussing with Uriens to arrange for a wedding and then when they ask Morgaine if she wants to marry this ‘royal person’ from Wales, they forget to mention

that is was the father Uriens they meant and not his son. That was solame. As if such political decisions were done in such a offhand manner. I would grant that Morgaine would probably have had no choice, but the movie suggests it was a mistake and that she could not back out after it had been arranged for fear of Uriens losing face.”

“So?” Henry said.

“To wrap it up?” Krisl queried.

“Still a reasonable movie to watch, I think. Just for the story line.”

“And the acting is decent. Not very good, but passable.”

“Yeah. But the fighting and magic is lame. It is as if people are afraid of hurting each other. And that absurd way of fighting of Mordred. Did he travel to China to learn that tactic?” Henry said and continued, “And did it not strike you as odd that Morgaine at one time suddenly became this killer fighter? Throughout the whole movie we see her never touch a sword and then when she gets ambushed she kills half a dozen of these Saxon raiders. Wow. Way to go girl.”

“I think fighting came natural to women in those days. Men had to work hard for it,” Kristl smiled.

“Yeah.. right. As ‘natural’ as in that women always hit something when they park their cars backwards.”

“Not much of a ‘skill’. And not true at all. A fable. A persistent recurring one. I wonder if we are still claimed to bump into things while parking when flying spacecrafts.”

“Well fables tend to linger on.. so I guess you are stuck with it one way or another. It just morphs into something new.”

“And no doubt we will be seeing another Arthur legend.. maybe next time it will be about gay relations.”

“Or aliens.”

“Or gay aliens.”

“Now there is an idea…”

 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0244353/

Mei

Mei was in a shemale bar.

Mei is the name I give to my little sister. I could have thought of a better name than Mei, but I decided to call her like that because we agreed to hide her real name and I wanted to show somehow that she is my little sister. So I looked up what little sister was in Chinese and it was Mei Mei. Mei sounded like an apt name, because in Dutch it is the month May, which is the month in which nature blossoms. A joyful month therefore. And little sister is much like that.

So Mei was in a shemale bar.

She is like that: she visits places we read about, but never go to. Mei is easy in many ways, especially in accepting other people’s habits. Unless those habits hurt people. Mei doesn’t like it when people get hurt.

Shemales are a curious group of people, mostly because  people tend to confuse them with transgenders. To explain something about them, I have to tell what I think a shemale is. I accept the fact that many people might not agree with me.

Shemales are men who behave and look like women and often have had surgery that made them more female. For instance: they have often breasts. However they always retain their manly bits.

Transgenders are people who want to be the other gender. Sometimes transgenders look like shemales because they are  physically in transition, but that is usually a temporary and unwanted state of affairs.

Shemales want to a be in that in between state.

 

So Mei was in a shemale bar looking at some of the shemales dancing on the poles. Mei doesn’t get excited about people dancing on poles, but she likes to talk and pole dancers have to chat to their customers as part of their job description so the chatting was easy and free of charge..

There were also a few other customers in the bar.. One who expressed that she had some trouble with her computer. Her name was Isa and Mei offered to help her, because Mei knows a few things about computers. She doesn’t want to let people know that, because she finds it boring and before you know it people think you are a computer expert.

With Mei’s help they got the problem sorted and then they chatted about other things like:  ‘‘where are you from?’ , ‘what do you do?’  and ‘would you like to dance?’

Mei likes to dance so she said yes and they danced, chatted, kissed, cuddled and did things that people who are attracted to each other do.  And much to Mei’s surprise Isa was actually a shemale.  You could say Mei was falling in love and Isa seemed to be falling in love with her.. Soon they discovered that hours had passed and they were planning to find a place to live together and have kids. And all of this in just one night.

The next day Mei woke up elated. She was sure she would see Isa again soon, although they had not talked to about meeting each other the next day. She knew a small place that she might be able to rent. It was a very small tropical island that was just enough for two people to live upon. She knew of it’s existence because her older sister had rented it once.

Mei visited the place and although it was not available, there was another small island that was.. She decided against renting it at once because she wanted to know  if Isa liked it.

While Mei was really happy, she also felt doubt creep in. And when she thought some more about it, she realized that she would be required to give up her whole happy-go-lucky lifestyle she had led the past few years. Mei decided that Isa and she needed to know each other better before she rushed into a long term commitment.

Mei send Isa an enthusiastic mail telling her that she had found a place and that she hoped all was well with Isa and ended the mail telling Isa that Mei loved her.

After a few days Mei had not received an answer from Isa. In fact she had heard nothing from Isa at all.

Now Mei became worried and she decided to go to her old sister Nali for advice. Unfortunately  Nali was not the right person to ask, because she had been in a bad relation and mostly because the other in that relation did not keep her appointments. Nali remembered days of herself waiting for hours on her date to appear, sometimes she waited in vain. So Nali advised Mei to stop the relation before it even started if Isa did not bothered to answer Mei.

A few days later Mei got an answer from Isa. Isa wrote that she was busy due to the holidays(it was around Christmas) and would come and see Mei three days later. That was all she said,

Mei felt hurt. Isa had not answered her for almost a whole week and when she had done so the answer was very business-like. Now she was getting second thoughts.. She was going to give up her life for someone who apparently was not as enthusiastic as Mei thought she was. This made Mei write Isa an angry mail saying that the moment was passed and she was already seeing someone else, because she assumed Isa had lost interest in her by  not answering her first mail within a week.

Mei never got a reply from Isa on that mail. Mei did not dwell too much on what had happened though. She felt sad for a few days, but unlike her older sister Nali she was not one that would hide herself from the world and grief in silence. Instead she went into town to party and soon forgot what had happened.

A year later Mei was looking through her mail to find a mail from a friend when she found a mail from Isa. It had been send half a year after they had met and somehow she had missed it.. It was a very short mail. Isa asked if Mei wanted to be friends again and she ended with a please.

It made Mei feel sad -actually it gave her tears-  that she had missed the mail from Isa and thus had not been able to reply to her. In hindsight she felt that she should have given Isa at least the chance to explain herself. So Mei decided to answer the half year old mail and tell her she would be happy to be friends again.

Until this day Mei never received an answer.

Mei told me this and I wrote it down.I don’t know why I did other than that I found it a sad tale that might have had another ending. Perhaps also because I very much like my little sister.

 

Little sister, part 2

I was sitting in the mahogany lobby of the  hotel with my legs crossed.  The couches, tables and chairs were the red brown color of mahogany, although the leather and fabrics were slightly redder. The floor was a fast expanse of red brown with a varnish that made it look smooth.

I was reading one of those glossy magazine’s. They made me curious because I expected one day to see an advertisement selling guns or saying something like: stop buying these ridiculous expensive clothes that are probably made by exploited kids in poor countries and required the death of three different species of animals. But instead I looked at women who looked a bit like me: slender, young, fashionable. Almost like me, but for the piercings and the red,black blond hair that was slightly too masculine. The piercings had almost made some of the staff blink, but they were used to lot more strangeness so they recovered quickly from seeing me, in fact so quickly that I hardly noticed..

Yrseke sat down on my lap.

One moment she wasn’t there, the next moment she had replaced the glossy.. She wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “So how are you?.”

I looked at her disapprovingly. She quickly stood up and moved over to a couch where she sat back making her body stretched out over the length of the couch, but leaving her high booted legs off .

Yrseke was spectacle.

If you looked closely there was a strong similarity with her older sister Taubie. They were the same shape, length and build, but you would not belief it when you saw them. The younger one, lounging on the couch, was playful, with gestures that were inviting and slightly sensual. She always wore skimpy clothes. Low rider jeans that were tightly fitted to her body. Shirts that revealed more than they covered. One of her favorite looks was wearing a bikini top with a open cut vest without sleeves on some tight low rider jeans. Her hair were always done with tails. Like now she was wearing pig tails. In demeanor she played often the naive somewhat gigglish girl who was open. She didn’t hide feelings and liked to be around people or with people. Especially attractive sensual people.

“How did you like my surprise?” She was toying with one of hair pigtails. Trying to wrap some hairs around a finger. She tilted her head slightly.

“I was surprised indeed. Not quite sure if I was supposed to jump into the bed or not.”

“I think they wouldn’t have mind one way or another. I did hear that you didn’t stay till the end..”

“Your friends called you to rat on me?”

“Friend from friends, actually.  Or more like friends from friends from friends. They sort of liked this kind of thing and I thought you might be needing something spicy to brighten your day..” She smiled broadly.

“The sun was bright enough. I was almost blinded by it’s glare.”

“I still don’t know if you liked it or not.” She mock pouted her lips.

“I still don’t know myself.”

“Well. I would have known what to do.” Her grin was very wide, “Aren’t they a pretty couple? Strange thing was. How did you know how she looked?”

“Because I saw her sitting when I went up. She was looking at me, a bit apprehensively.” I said.

“Well spotted.” Yrseke clapped her hands.

“You know.. I wonder what you do for a living. I mean the people you know. Where do you get to meet people like that?”

“Well I mix work and pleasure. Do a bit of this and a bit of that. Dance a bit for money over here, and serve drinks over there. And get hired to entertain.”

“And have you big sis cover the expenses.”  I poked at her.

She smiled and kissed me on the nose. “You should change, when you are a posh girl you get grumpy. I like you better when you are not.”

“What should I change into?” I pondered.

“I like the neko teen version of you. It is easy going and funnah. I had more or less expected you to be. You are most of the time.”

“I wonder what I would have done if I was like that…”

“I think you would have jumped onto the bed.”

“Was that what you were expecting?”

“Yes.”

“Oh hum.. you keep surprising me.”

“So change, change.” Yrseke urged.

So I changed into my nekish teen persona,. A teenage girl with green eyes, brownish hair, wearing a gypsy outfit with a long tail, cat like ears and a large beanie hat looking like a panda bear. I then jumped on the couches, chairs and tables.  It made Yrseke giggle. They tried to capture me, which at first did not succeed, until I was cornered by ten men. They picked me up by the tail and removed me from the lobby by throwing me into the street. Yrseke got away with without a scratch, because that is how things always went.

When I had scrambled upright I examined the sky and predicted rain. Then we looked at each other.

“I think I am going to visit some friends of friends who are having a party.” Yrseke said.

“I think I am going to visit Taubie.” I said, “She is probably alone making something. That is your big sis. Always alone and making stuff. She probably likes some company.”

Yrseke smiled at that and said, “Yes, I think she would like your company.”

I waved goodbye by stretching my arm and waving at her and she started to walk away.

“And you know..’, I said, falling back into my nekish attitude, and then shouted, “You knowish!”

She stopped and half turned to regard me.

“If you need any help..like with nasty people, just holler. I change into a big mean dragon and eat them all.”

She smiled at that and said, “I know you will.”

And I waved goodbye again.

Of course she knew I would. She is my little sister too.

 

Henry and Kristl feared Dragon Lore Curse of the Shadow

“ Wow. I actually liked that movie. Not Lord of the Rings of course, but I have seen a lot worse. Worse with a bigger budget. Like that first Dungeon and Dragon movie. Really, what do you think?” Henry said happily. His had this smiled that suggested to Kristl that he had found a new love.

“Must be the sword wielding pointy eared lassie that makes the difference? What is her name: Danielle Chuchran.  Caucasian. Blond.Twenty years old. I fear for you.” Kristl bitched.

“Fear?”

“Yeah. You have to face it. You are getting older and they are getting younger. There will be a moment that the gap is so big there is just one way to give it a name: pervert.”

Henry shrugged, “That is how nature works. Attractive people attract regardless of age. She is attractive and they did everything to make her attractive. Which is actually as it should be. She is a high elf. Elves are beautiful people. She was also dressed up as one. But, lady-that-hates-pretty-women, why not give your opinion of the movie instead of pointing out….”  Henry stopped.

“..the pointy eared one?”   Kristl said, “Ok. Like so many movies in this genre it’s a patchwork of good and bad things. Some work, some don’t work. And I find that the people who made this movie tried to go for the sensible decisions at one hand and yet the incomprehensible decisions at the other.”

“Uh?”

“Like the main actors. The fighter, the orc and the elf. They work reasonably well together, with the fighter being the serious one, the orc being more funny and the elf the hateful one. I like the way the elf changes character overtime and there is even a certain kind of humor in the direction in develops. Instead of hating orcs she ends up hating those who worship the shadow instead.”

“I like the orc and the fighter too. They each had a distinct part. Strange thing was that I got the feeling there would be a fourth character added. Either a wizard or a thief. It never happens, but I sort of expected it. Or that dwarf. But he is just a bad guy. Pity.”

“I also found it reasonably acceptable how they team up. She being cursed with the shadow and thus being driven to cooperate because she wants to get rid of the curse. The fighter fighting the shadows and promising a cure to the elf while he knows there is no cure for it.”

“I agree. The group of unlikely heroes worked well. I liked that the best of all.”

“But where it starts to go wrong is simply the story line. Instead of keeping it simple they start to develop an epic tale Lord of the Ring kind of tale that simply doesn’t fit the budget.  If the tale had been:  unlikely group of hero’s join hands to get rid of a curse, then they could have simply developed it into unlikely band of hero try to get rid of curse, but end up saving the world by accident.”

“Uhm. Well the battle was kind of cool, wasn’t it?” Henry said.

“What I simply don’t understand is why script writers think they are on par with great writers. There are so many fantasy writers that could have inspired a good fantasy story. Say: Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley has this series with believable female fantasy hero’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_and_Sorceress_series. Instead this story is lackluster and partly steals from others: the rider on the horse is actually ringwraith from Lord of the Rings, the prophetess is Galadriel. The scene with the orc and the mermaids is from Pirates of the Caribbean and seems totally pointless. The girls being offered to the demon is stolen directly from Conan the Barbarian, they are even  dressed the same. Ultimately even the shadow curse resembles the power the ring had over people in Lord of the Rings.”

“Uhm. It was cool though.” Henry was trying to survive the flood of words.

“But besides all that, the worst part is using what is called deus ex machinima. The part where the fighter suddenly gets all powerful is simply bad plot writing. You can do that if the whole movie had been geared that way, but it wasn’t. It also was like they didn’t know how to end the movie, so they pulled a solution out of a high hat.”

“I feel sad really.  I mean I really like the movie. I enjoyed myself.” Henry said.

“Yeah. That is true. Again the actors save the day. I really start to respect actors.”

“I wished they had developed them more. The interaction between them. Their character changes overtime.”

“That perhaps is the point in Lord of the rings for instance. Or many great novels. I also like it when people do a small thing that ultimately has a great consequence. Like in Lord of the Rings Frodo tosses the ring into the mountain.. It is a simple act by an unlikely hero. We can associate with him because most of us are unlikely heroes. They could have done the same in this movie. I almost thought they would at the end when the elf was about to scatter the ashes to the wind. It would have been so fitting to go deeper into her curse. Perhaps with scenes where she is being seduced to her dark side. It would have much better fitted the budget and they could have left out that silly last combat. Almost looked like: wow we have still got money for a big monster. Let’s do it!.”
.
“So in the end. Did you like it or not?”

“I favor to be positive, but it could have been better. People should cut short on their gci’s and get a good scriptwriter instead. Invest in your actors and your plot instead of graphics. I think that works better. A tad more humor. A bit more characters. More magic.”

“Well I am happy you are more positive :)”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250234/

also published here: http://meritcoba.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/july-13th-2013.html

When the caged bird sings..

It was perhaps not the first order the emperor Armadius gave, but the order to capture the bird was among the first when he ascended the throne. It was the witch Najeste who caught the bird with a fine net and put the petite colorful bird in a golden cage, which was then placed on a pedestal before the throne set up in the large hall.
Another of those first orders caused the capture and summary execution of those relatives who might be a direct threat to the new ruler or be used by others against him. Among those captured was also the prince Lanare, an otherwise insignificant noble of an insignificant estate, but he was reviled by the emperor for his openly bi-sexual lifestyle. It was well known that Najeste and Lanare were lovers and after some rough handling by guards it was revealed that the witch was indeed a man, although his looks and behavior suggested otherwise. It was something the new emperor had always suspected.
The emperor promised Najeste to spare Lanare from the executioners axe in exchange for the birds capture, but he did not feel obliged to give them their freedom, so he had both men thrown into a dungeon. Each in their own cell: separate, close together but far enough to make communication suitably difficult…
It then took the emperor a year and some thousand lives to squash any potential opposition to his rule, either real or perceived, before he returned to his throne room to ponder the mystery of the bird.
Twenty-five years before, the old emperor had been close to death, but somehow the bird had saved the old emperor from dying. But that was not all. Not only had the bird saved the emperor, but it had also changed him. At first he had been an ruthless warrior whose reputation for bloodshed was only overshadowed by his reputation as conqueror, but the bird had changed him into a gently benign ruler with it’s singing.
During those twenty-five years of reign the old emperor had sat each and every morning on his balcony and listened to the bird and enjoyed the marvelous view of the capital city that stretched out from the palace all the way to the sea. And he had stopped the conquests, encouraged trade, advanced education and alleviated poverty. He had send away the generals and the courtiers and surrounded himself with children. One of which had been Armadius.
Armadius took seat on his throne and he listened to the bird sing for a few days, but nothing was revealed to him. But he was determined to discover the power of this bird one way or another. He sent messengers to all ends of his empire and beyond, and promised untold riches to anyone who would succeed in tapping the power. From far and wide wizards, witches, conjurers, demonists, wise men, hermits and crackpots flocked to the palace, even from far away Siang, but none succeeded in this task.
When all other means were exhausted Armadius had Najeste and Lanare dragged from their cells.
“Tell me the birds secret.” Armadius commanded Najeste,” And I will let you despicable people go.”
The two men held each other close, giving each other comfort and strength. Najeste then looked the emperor straight in the eyes.”I do not know this birds power. The only thing I know is that a child once said that when the bird sings all the other birds come.”
“The bird has sung before me each and every day in this very hall and never has anything remarkable happened.” the emperor said.
“Then the truth must be that the bird has no power whatsoever.” Najeste said,”And whatever happened to the old emperor had more to do with a change in himself than with any outside influence..”
Although the emperor was satisfied with this answer, he had both the prince and witch executed. The prince was staked and the witch torn into four parts by four horses and each part was buried some distance from the other in each point of the compass. He felt that it was offensive to the high gods teachings to let the lovers live and witches were dangerous anyway, especially after being slighted..
Armadius by now had been convinced that the bird did not posses any magic whatsoever and he felt proven when a few months later the bird died of some disease. The emperor was out conquering yet another country when it happened and when he was told he merely shrugged.
When the emperor returned to his palace he ordered the now empty cage to be taken away, and the hall to be filled with the voices of men and women who sang the praises of the emperor and the high god. To him it was a sound much more befitting the palace..
He then sat down on the same balcony the old emperor has sat and looked out over the city.. He enjoyed the view for it gave him to feeling he was a master of all he surveyed, which was true, for everything he saw, but for the sea. He could have his guards go to the city and have them slaughter each and every men. Nobody would be able to stand up to him. Tomorrow his victorious armies would parade down there to demonstrate the might of the empire. He felt satisfied and proud.
He had his servants serve him food and drinks there, like the old emperor had, and when night came he watched the moon rise and the lights of the city flicker below, like the stars did in the sky above, until he fell asleep.
The next morning he woke to see the first light of dawn. The red light flooded the streets of the city. It was the red of morning, but it looked like a sea of blood. The red climbed up towards the mountain and lightened the stake that had once held the carcass of the Prince Lanare.
The emperor rose to his feet and he watched the dawns splendor which took away his breath. And then a petite colorful bird fluttered to the balustrade and picked at some stray crumbs and then started a song. And from the city a wind brought the sound of singing, as the men and women started the new day with songs. And some of those songs were about wise old emperors and others about boundless lovers.
And the emperor felt tears in his eyes as he heard and saw this and then a deep sorrow possessed him as he saw the deceased Lanare and recalled the untold suffering he had caused.
Maybe this sorrow would have lasted a short while and maybe he would have forgotten about it, but he suddenly remembered how the old emperor once had asked him to sing him a song when he was still a child. An innocent song only a child would sing. And the emperor sang that song and the whole city sang to him.

Men!

“Let’s ask the woman in our midst.” His Most Divine Emperor Maximilian the third said.

The gathered nobles of the realm, fitted in their shiniest armors adorned with silver and gold, turned their gazes towards her.

Eveline, envoy of the empress-mother,  looked at the princess Isobel, who was laying at the feet of the emperor. Even in defeat the rebel princess was a comely figure, with her long golden hair, blue eyes and armor that hugged her slender young figure.

Eveline waited for a few seconds, then gave the much rehearsed answer. “Kill her or marry her. She will be trouble either way.”

The nobles laughed loudly as the emperor dismissed both idea’s..

Isobel and Eveline smiled at each other. The empress-mother had exactly predicted this reaction.  They would be great friends, Eveline was sure of it.