The messenger was having a hard time making himself understood.
"There's a strange ship come into the harbor!"
The Emperor's secretary was not impressed. "What are the shipwrights up to this year?"
"No, not like that. It's flying strange colors." The messenger gestured with both hands.
"Pirates?" The secretary frowned. "They're not supposed to come this far North. They know what'll happen if they do."
"They'd better not be Bitrani..."
The messenger took a breath and began speaking more slowly, in carefully chosen words. "There is a ship of strange manufacture, flying a flag that is neither piratical or Bitrani and certainly not Calenyena. The people, from what we can see, do not look like us or the Bitrani, and their clothing is strange. There are foreigners coming into the harbor."
The word foreigner was so old as to be archaic. There was no such thing. There was the empire, and that was it. To the North was ice; to the east was wind. To the south was nothingness; to the west was the great fire rift. There was nothing but the empire; since they had conquered the Bitrani, there were no foreigners to speak of.
Until, it appeared, now. The secretary coughed politely.
"I'll let His Imperial Majesty know that he needs to see you right now."
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1023280.html. You can comment here or there.