As was her custom, the Imperial Consort, Lady Azhka, strolled her gardens in sweltry noon while the sun rode high and the heat was enervating. It was exactly what she liked; she tired of the perfumed claustrophobia of her apartments and the nested eyes of servant and spy alike, tired of opulence and carved dead rock that were so vastly different from the rolling lavender plains of her homeland and the living caves where she was born. Both, lands however, shared the same balefire summer sun.
So instead of the shaded bowers kept watered by a small army of gardeners each morning against the heat, she kept to the baked sands of the pathways, her servants dismissed to huddle uncertain below covered walks, anxious not to miss some vital summons or to cosset their charge as was proper for one of her exalted status.
Only profound respect and the Lady's insistence had won her this modicum of privacy, although some few of the titled servants still sought to attend her, ply her with sunshade or sweated urns of snow-chilled fruit juice.
She waved away her chief steward, the most stubborn of the lot. "No, Manoc," she told him firmly, "I wish to think, not be fussed over."
Had she looked up at that moment, she might have noticed his clenched jaw and baleful stare as he was, once again, forbidden to meet his obligation; to serve his purpose. Unwitnessed, therefore, Manoc, last in a long line of proud household stewards, withdrew to the stores and, as was his custom, relieved his frustrations--and his bladder--in the sweating urns of snow-chilled fruit juices.
Opening: Writtenwyrdd.....Continuation: Anon.