Unlike the dark grey walls of the imperial capital, entirely fashioned from the basalt mountains around it, the walls of the city, that was lying before Gulius and Xavani, were of brighter origin. Carts were moving in and out of it on the busy roads that lead in and out, goods that Gulius had never seen prior to that day.

Even before setting foot into the city he saw other races than Fungals in the caravans of traders. Men and women with fair skin and mostly blonde hair, but some with dark hair as well, Albin as he recalled from the ancient descriptions. Men and women who differed from the Albin, their appearance and physique matched that of descriptions of humans the spies had relayed to the empire. From his vantage point he could hear their voices, different languages. All the education and training he had received never had told of different languages. They probably didn’t believe in the same supernatural beings as the imperial fungal people did. He had to admit to himself that he was a little bit frightened of the diverse crowd awaiting him in the city. Xavani and he slowly walked towards an envoy of Albin and Fungal soldiers, who flanked two highly decorated individuals. While approaching Gulius raised his hands behind his neck, before they left the underbrush he had reattached his original insignia, so the soldiers of the republic knew why he approached with arms raised while a tormented floral woman walked by his side. As he approached the Albin and Fungal soldiers immediately assumed a defensive stance, only to be shoved aside by the Albin in their center. The woman stared at Gulius with wide disbelief. “Elaborate!” the decorated Fungal man also had stepped outside the circle of soldiers. “I am Gulius, a traitor to the empire. This is Xavani, we have freed her.” inching back between the soldiers the Fungal looked around. “We?”

“There was another, but she died.” Xavani reported, during her captivity she had learned a bit of the fungal language, that was not much different from the floral. “The fire at the limes?” the Albin woman raised her eyebrows to which the two nodded, even though it has been two weeks since the incident it still brought tears to Gulius’ eyes.

Slowly did he lower his arms, tearing the insignia from his clothing. Still with tears in his eyes he looked at them, gently caressing the hammer and sword in front of the mushroom. “Farewell.” he hissed, dropping the insignia into the dirt of the much traveled road.

There was much ahead of him and Xavani, but for the moment he felt liberated.

“What have they done to you?” he raised his eyes from the glistening insignia to the Albin that was standing in front of Xavani, shock was in her eyes as she glanced at the stumps. “They maimed her, to keep themselves safe. We burnt the farm down, at her suggestion including other floral women.” Gulius answered for her, with a quick flick of his hand had he dismounted the belt, there were not weapons sheathed on it, but to view that he was entirely unarmed, and to show that his supply of diluted nectar was not readily at his side, before raising his hands again, as the soldiers were still standing ready to strike.

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