༺ XVI ༻

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꧁༺࿅ིཽ• –– •❈• –– •࿅ིཽ༻꧂

Emperor Liwei - Jiaoxing, Khaisitha

     "Is everything alright, Emperor Liwei?" Cerai asked. His bright blue eyes peered into mine with curious amusement. It was as if he knew exactly what was preoccupying my thoughts.
His question pulled me out of my reverie, forcing me back to reality. Once I realized where I was, I immediately took notice of my claw-like fingers digging into the round, oak table. "Yes, my apologies. Please continue," I responded to the crane.
There was no denying that I could feel Mingxia's shift, I may have blocked her from my thoughts, but it didn't prevent me from feeling all of the emotions that came pouring out of her. The shift had to be painful and it made my own dragon restless because I couldn't be there with her. I had to be in Khaisitha as a mediator between her people, it was not only for the sake of Jing-Wei and her people but for Wuzhen as well. Khaisitha had been faithful to the dragons for centuries, serving as our dutiful envoys. The loss of their services would surely result in something equally disgraceful for my people.
"As I was saying, there are many avians that have gone missing during the time of their Grand Flight," Cerai spoke. Cerai was always the first to get straight to the point, given the noble blood of the crane that flowed through his veins. The crane was a respected avian shifter that commanded respect and exuded limitless amounts of wisdom. The people would always look to him in times of crises because it was believed that he held all of the answers.
"And you mean to accuse the zhen and crow tribes for this misfortune?" Councilman Raith demanded. I fought the urge to curl my lip back in annoyance. It was no secret that the zhen and crow shifters were treated with extreme prejudice for several centuries but that was only due to the fact that the other avian tribes saw them as a "deviation from the norm." They weren't like the other avian shifters and the connotations of their species gave up less than pleasant vibes.

Councilman Raith was the spokesperson for the zhen and the crow, given that the majority of the avians didn't want a single representative for the zhen tribe and the crow tribe. They were lumped into one category, abomination. The zhen were feared, not only by avians but by other beings in the realm, due to their poisonous feathers. In their avian forms, they were covered head to toe in sleek black feathers with a potent enough poison to knock out a full-blooded dragon.

Due to the dangerous nature of their feathers, harvesting and trading zhen feathers was outlawed throughout the realm. It not only threatened the well-being of all living creatures but the safety of the zhen. They could not exist without their feathers for a reason unbeknownst to me but if they were to be extorted for their feathers, their population would surely become endangered.

The crow tribe on the other hand, were considered bottom feeders. They would prey on the weak and the dead, leaving no evidence of a passed loved one. I quickly picked up on the sentiments about the crow shortly after my first visit to Khaisitha. Many viewed them as persistent, vile vultures whereas others saw them as an impurity to the avian race.

I hold no negative thoughts about all avians, but I would be lying if I said that I had little faith in Councilman Raith's assertion that his intentions weren't anything less than genuine. He always wore a black cloak as if he were concealing secrets and his black eyes held no emotion despite his constant preaching of inequality and justice. A scoff escaped my lips, which I instantly regretted.

Raith sharply turned his head to look at me and quipped, "I'm pleased that my words amuse you, Emperor Liwei."

"Councilman Raith—" Cerai started, but I held a hand up to stop him.

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