The Iron Coast
As he stalked out of the room, the Duke muttered loudly under his breath, gesturing angrily in response to the discussion he was carrying out with himself. Once he was gone, the audience chamber exploded in conversation, each person wondering what to make of this island of Aphus Lassel and its mysterious king.
Duke Langdon sent the call to his followers, requesting they all come to his mansion immediately to hear news of the latest discoveries in Dereth. The covenant crystal hummed with the arrival of each follower, and soon the Duke's audience chamber was filled to overflowing with people all struggling to hear this news.
Seated in his throne at the front of the chamber, the Duke addressed his messenger. "You mean to tell me that there is yet another island off the coast of Dereth?"
"Yes, Your Grace," responded his liegeman diffidently.
"What is that, the fifth island discovered?" Langdon grumbled. "How many islands are there around this accursed isle?"
"Well, Your Grace," a figure standing beside the Duke's throne began. "If you count the individual Vesayen Isles, this would be at least the twelfth such island. Likely there are quite a few more; all the records we've discovered point to Dereth being part of an archipelago."
"Thank you, Kinross," the Duke sighed. He pinched his fingers to rub the bridge of nose. "I appreciate you being studious in your duties as Vizier; however, the question was merely rhetorical."
Kinross bowed his head. "Yes, Your Grace."
Turning his attention back to the messenger who remained kneeling before him, the Duke asked, "And the name of this new island?"
"Actually it consists of two islands, Your Grace, so these would be the thirteenth and fourteenth islands discovered-"
"Yes, thank you!" the Duke cut in abruptly. "The number of the islands is not important at the moment. What is the name of this new island?"
"Aphus Lassel, Your Grace."
"Another Empyrean name," the Duke sighed. "How did you come to find this island?"
"I was exploring the northern wilds of Osteth when I came across a pack of Tuskers. Standing in the center of this group was a shrine of some sort. The Tuskers seemed unusually interested in defending it."
"I see, and what did this shrine look like?"
"A Tusker, Your Grace."
"Interesting," the Duke said. He turned to address his Vizier. "Kinross, do you think the Tuskers have developed some sort of totemic belief system? Perhaps due to the Virindi influence?"
The Duke blinked. "'No?"
"No… Your Grace."
Duke Langdon sighed and turned back to his liegeman. "Please continue your tale. You found a shrine, you said?"
"Yes, Your Grace. After defeating the Tuskers surrounding it, I approached the shrine and suddenly found myself tumbling through portalspace. Once the haze of portal magic faded, I was standing on the island. Well, one of the two islands that-"
"Yes, yes," the Duke said, beckoning the man to continue with an impatient wave of his hand.
"Well, Your Grace, I found myself in what could best be called a village, although it was unlike any village I had ever seen. The buildings all stood on stilts, and as I climbed up to the platforms, I found Isparians living in the buildings."
"People you say? What did you learn from the townsfolk?"
"Nothing, Your Grace."
"Nothing? Were they unwilling to talk?"
"No, Your Grace, they seemed unable to talk. The only sounds I ever heard from them were a few grunts. They were almost totally unresponsive, except when it came to the Tuskers around them. They seemed unusually dedicated to their Tusker masters."
"Interesting." The Duke rubbed his chin. "An island where Tuskers rule over men?"
"Your Grace, it is not unheard of for we Isparians to be dominated by another species," Kinross interrupted. "You, of course, recall the dark years when the Olthoi enslaved us, forcing us to prepare that disgusting gruel they fed to their grubs."
"Thank you for that history lesson, Kinross," the Duke said sharply. "Although, again, it was simply a rhetorical question."
Muttering under his breath, the Duke turned his attention back to the man kneeling before the dais. "What other information do you have to offer us?"
"Well Your Grace, it appears the Tuskers have a king of sorts," the man replied. "Surprisingly, some of the Tuskers' grunts were almost understandable. The ones I defeated would occasionally speak of their king as they fell."
"A king? Amazing!" the Duke exclaimed. "Kinross, what do you make of this discovery?"
"Nothing," Kinross said then quickly added "Your Grace."
The Duke muttered more noticeably this time, but then turned back to his follower and said, "Does this king have a name, or do you know how he can be found?"
The man shifted uncomfortably. "Well, Your Grace, I might have heard his name." He paused.
"And his name is…" the Duke prompted.
"Well, I'm not sure I understood them correctly, Your Grace. The Tuskers' grunts were difficult to understand."
"That's fine, just tell us what you think you heard."
"As I said though, Your Grace, the Tuskers' grunts were barely what I would call speech-"
"Just tell us the name!" the Duke bellowed.
"Bobo," the man said quietly.
The Duke blinked for a moment, opening and closing his mouth as he searched for something to say. Finally he blurted, "Bobo?"
"Yes, Your Grace. Bobo."
The Duke sat silent for a moment longer, then suddenly stood up and spoke in a loud, authoritative voice, "This audience is at an end."