The Mountain Kingdom of Naga

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Chaicauhtli sat on the exposed dirt floor among the twelve members of the King's Counsel. Their green, lizard-like bodies were nearly motionless, respectfully seated with crossed legs. Dust particles drifted slowly in the air, illuminated by rays of sunlight piercing through the walls of the thatched hut. Just outside the hanging vines of the door, two guards ensured that the discussion within would go undisturbed.

It was now Chaicauhtli's turn to speak to the counsel. He stood, taking time to compose his thoughts. It was customary to observe a silence before speaking. His eyes moved across the gathered group. Cheveyo, the senior tactician, from the warrior caste -his scales were hardened from combat conditioning, and he was nearly twice the size of the the smallest of the counsel, Nahimana. Nahimana was the high adviser, from the Magus caste. His scales were tinged with blue and purple flecks, representative of his power. Makya, like Chaucauhtli, was of the hunter caste, and had a light frame -smaller than the warriors, though more agile. Makya held the title of Scouting Commander. The King, Jolred XIII, sat outside of the group of 12. His role now was only to listen to the discussion held by the Counsel -his orders would come afterwards.

Chaucauhtli spoke. "There has been a rise in violence among our people, and a rise in serious injury as a result of these inner conflicts." Chaicauhtli carefully enunciated each hiss, glottal syllable, and harmonic stress. "This rise can be attributed to a variety of factors. Tempers are high because of increasing workloads. There are also concerns about food shortages. Some people are fearful and nervous about attacks from outside tribes... It is my opinion that it is a mistake in these circumstances to be focussing our kingdom's efforts on arming all of our people and training them for combat. It is far better if the inevitable conflicts that occur within our borders do not result in grievous injuries. I appreciate the need for strengthening our defenses, and I understand the value in training additional warriors. However, the role of warriors should be strictly delimited. Part of the success of our kingdom is attributable to this delimitation, and the encouragement of strictly non-violent roles for others -builders, craftsmen, teachers, caretakers, and others. This is largely how our kingdom has become so great -specialization. We risk losing something fundamental if we continue this recent trend of increasing combat preparation." Chaicauhtli sat back onto the dirt floor.

After observing a customary respectful silence, the group turned their heads toward Nahimana, the high adviser. Nahimana was tasked with directing the conversation of the group. His primary role was selecting the next speaker after advice had been offered. "You have spoken well, Chaicauhtli" -a customary assertion. "On the matter of the the need for training in weapons, Cheveyo will be called upon. I have been informed that Cheveyo has discovered important information that relates to this matter."

The group turned toward Cheveyo, the bulky, seasoned warrior and senior tactician. Cheveyo's duties took him outside of the mountains of the kingdom as he patrolled the surrounding swamps. Cheveyo stood, and reached his clawed hand into a leather pouch that dangled from a rope on his waist. He pulled his clasped fist out of the pouch, and threw what he held onto the floor before him. The white, curved objects bounced across the dusty floor in the center of the group -Nagan teeth, stained with blood. Each pair represented an adversary that had been killed in combat. As the groups eyes returned to Cheveyo, away from the teeth scattered on the ground, he began to speak in a deep, growling hiss.

"Enemy raids have been steadily increasing in recent weeks. It has remained my consistent opinion that these raids are probes of our defenses. They are not random, unorganized attacks, but are being directed by a larger tribe. As you all know, we have lost many scouts and hunters in the surrounding swamps. It appears the enemy has completely encircled the mountain, killing off our people as they leave the safety of our defenses." Cheveyo motioned to the teeth on the ground, "These enemy warriors, before they were slain, said they come from a tribe known as the Mekhoth..."

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