All the intruders look Vrellish!
Dela rose like a puppet on strings and went to look out of the window.
Two motorized vehicles, powered by space-charged batteries, were driving up the gravel road that led from the landing fields to Dee Manor. Their tires crunched over white chips of granite. A stretch farther back, a mounted honor guard occupied the packed-dirt paths on the road's wide margins, which constituted a breach of protocol. Someone being escorted by a horse guard was supposed to keep pace with the horse guard--a symbolic echo of the pack of limitations implicit in the use of swords to settle differences.
The crunching stopped when the cars passed onto the flat, fitted stones of the courtyard. Parked in front of the manor's doors, they disgorged people dressed in purple uniforms, and wearing a ship-and-sun symbol. Dela had seen the emblem only once before. It belonged to the villainous House of Dem'Vrel.
And the intruders all had black hair.
The only good sign was the swords they wore. Dela had heard rumors about places in the empire, beyond Demora, where Okal Rel broke down in wars which destroyed the very habitats fought over, even slaying entire bloodlines so that unbodied souls became stranded forever to extract their bitter vengeance on Okal Rel’s violators. The Gods of Earth were also stranded spirits, rendered mad by their forced exile and cruel by their boredom. They might war with themselves through their favorites, or torment the living to test their resolve, but suffering rewarded the honorable soul with a higher ranking body when he or she was next reborn. There was no redemption under Okal Rel for those who proved themselves as foul as the commoners whose long forgotten quarrels destroyed the world of humanity’s origins, forcing Sevolites of all ranks to take responsibility for inferior spirits too weak to be honorable.
Lady Ril appeared at Dela's elbow. "You should not be watching this, Princess," she said, kindly.
"What is going to happen?"
"I do not know."
A man dressed, respectfully, in the black of mourning stepped out of a car onto the courtyard. He carried himself with his eyes downcast, face in shadow. He did not bear a sword. That was unnerving. But the way he moved reminded Dela of her youth at the Golden court where any room or balcony might surprise you with a graceful figure. Then he raised his head to look around him, brushing back his dark hair with his left hand.
Dela's eyes widened.