MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s369Cmn-pi0&feature=related The crimson hued light of the setting sun was the only illumination that breached the stained glass windows of the throne room, an ambient glow cast upon the chamber as if by the work of some form of dark spell. Shadows crept forth from the corners, lingering upon the fine tapestry and carpeting that adorned the room's walls and floors. Just hours ago this chamber had been filled to capacity, the Empress herself seated upon her royal throne as Lord and Lady alike begged for the scraps from her table. This place was, perhaps, the very heart of the Empire. Nestled safely within the confines of the Imperial Fortress, it was from here that the blood of the land pulsated forth into the veins and arteries that spanned the length of the entire continent. And soon... ... the world. MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJnqvgZIXVA&feature=related "I am afraid I do not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation." spoke a voice as deep as Hell and smooth as velvet, a distinct accent audible whenever it uttered a vowel. Its source was a pair of cracked lips set upon an aging face, flesh both rough and lined adorned with thick gray tendrils spanning the length of the scalp and filling the small expanse between the man's upper lip and large nose. He was dressed in fine garb, a dark maroon Admiralty jacket bearing golden adornments and accolades resting upon his broad shoulders. He stood upright, his chest protruding in a dignified manner as his calloused and aged hands remained clasped comfortably together behind his back, his posture supported by one good leg while the other was a prosthetic forged from some dense alloy mined from deep within the Earth. Between his teeth he bit down loosely upon the mouthpiece of a fine pipe, its length spanning downwards in a deep slope before plunging into a deep, wooden bowl from which spilled an ocean of dark smoke that encircled the man's head as though it were a concealing mist. "Truly? Then please, I implore you, grace us with your extensive knowledge on the subject." came the reply, though the voice that spoke it was by no means so hypnotic as the first. Certainly, it too was one that sounded each word with grace and poise, every syllable uttered polished to shine. However, whereas the earlier voice had been a deep bass that could lull one into a trance the moment that is graced their ears, this second spoke with a tongue of a much higher pitch. Sarcasm and conceit oozed forth from the man's throat when his pale lips parted, a hand clad within a fine glove woven of white cotton raised up to his forehead to brush aside a golden lock of hair. "I must warn you, Lord Raegar, that I am highly susceptible to flattery." the first smirked, two thick pillars of smoke slowly rising from the corners of his mouth as he spoke, "I do not believe we should be so swift to move against the Vulshan. Let them bicker amongst themselves yet a while , allow their discord to run its course. The seed we have planted has only just begun to blossom. Let us allow it to fully come into fruition and yield fruit before we reap the harvest. If convenience demands that we accelerate our designs, it would be a simple matter to instigate their civil war ourselves. Surely by this juncture it would take but a minuscule spark to set their entire nation aflame." "Your words do hold some degree of weight." Lord Raegar replied, his gloved hand now raised to grip gently at his chin in thought as he took several paces forward, his brows furrowed, "And you, Lord Gears? What say you on the matter?" MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-8I-SET1ec&feature=related The man in question, or more the thing, turned his head from where he stood within the darkness of the shadows. His form was rigid and hard and the sound of his breathing, slow, uniform, and mechanical, filled every nook and cranny of the royal chamber in which they stood. The turning of gears and cogs could be heard with every motion that he made, the culmination of man and machine simply answering with a slow nod of the head and a nonchalant motion of the hand. "Ever the linguist." Lord Raegar snorted in amusement, the corner of his mouth tilted upward into a snide and arrogant smirk at his cohort's response. Admirals Gears was, without a doubt, the most proficient of the men assembled in the art of conversation without the use of words. MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s369Cmn-pi0&feature=related "So, what? We just let them kill themselves off?" questioned a voice that had not yet spoken, its point of origin a man clad in crimson and black. His cloak spilled down from about his broad shoulders before kissing the fine carpet that lay beneath his feet, the sleeves of his jacket rolled back as he crossed his arms to reveal several scars that ran deep within his flesh. "If you're going to commit genocide then at least have the backbone to do the deed yourself." he remarked coolly, his gaze narrowed in question at the men who had already spoken, "Inciting a civil war... it's cowardly. Certainly not worthy of the Imperial standard. If you want a war then face them head on and meet them in battle. You owe them at least that." The first man to have spoken could not resist uttering an amused chuckle as Lord Raegar simply scoffed. "Lord Cormac, you forget these are Vulshans we are speaking of. Surely you would not suggest sacrificing the lives of Imperial soldiers simply to put down a rabid pack of dogs." the snide Lord replied, raising a brow as he spoke. Lord Gears remained silent and still. "Men and women, just like you and I." Cormac responded, raising his head slightly as he spoke, "Soldiers." "Like you and I? Men? And women? Hardly." Lord Raegar snorted with a shake of the head, taking several steps towards a window to cast a bored glance down upon the ants that crawled beneath them, "Dark skinned, heathen beasts that inbreed and revel within their own muck and filth? You may not hold your house in high regard, Lord Cormac, but I pray you do not compare my stock to that of such... dogs."