Uluh Zin hurried along the corridors of the Albada Palace, clipboard clutched tight to his chest. The south-east wing was in fact one giant room with a roof forty feet high, and massive pillars extending from floor to ceiling. Filled with art, sculptures, and antiquities of unimaginable value, the room was usually used for entertaining, and would often be filled wall to wall with political figures, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. But today the south-east wing was silent, save for the click of Uluh Zin’s boots echoing through the great emptiness, and his muttering under his breath as he ran.

“Shit shit shit shit…”

He crossed the room, and ran out into the near-blinding sunlight, continuing south across the large stone bridge that connected the Albada Palace to the Lord’s Fort, the bureaucratic heart of the Commonwealth.

When Uluh was a boy, he had once locked himself out onto the roof of his grandfather’s lighthouse. He spent two days in the cold and rain, with his only view the coast and sea two hundred feet below. Needless to say, he had developed a fear of heights. The bridge upon which he now ran stood four hundred feet above the valley below and normally put the fear of the Gods into him. Currently, however, this fear was greatly outweighed by another. Only a few hundred yards ahead, in the Lord’s Fort, this fear would be either validated or dispelled.

The Lord’s Fort was once, back in the days of the Old Kingdoms, home to the Kings and Queens of those ages, but centuries had come and gone, and the hulking edifice had taken on more of a political and military purpose. While the Albada Palace stood just as it did during the time of the ancient kings, Lord’s Fort, despite appearing to be an immense stone castle, had become a construct of the present.

The interior of the fort had been expanded downward, dug deep into the mountain upon which it rested, creating eight additional subterranean floors filled with offices, conference rooms, and quarters for the government employees whose sweat kept the Commonwealth alive. The original floors of the castle, those above ground were reserved for the offices of the high-ranking officials- Generals, political tacticians, advisors, and the like. There was one office in particular, however, that sat high in the main tower of the Fort, overlooking the entire valley, the rolling green hills, and the Oresme River below. That was the office of the Baroness herself, and to where Uluh ran.

“Shit shit shit…”


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