“There is no greater travesty in language than the synonym. The synonym muddies the waters of language and dulls the keen edge of its words. No two words have truly identical meaning – if they did, why should we have two words to do the work of one? Take the old maxim ‘knowledge is power’, for example. At first glance, it proves accurate, but one would agree that knowledge of the finer points of agriculture would do little to aid one in a swordfight, no? The true maxim is that ‘information is power’ – though synonymous with knowledge, information, at least to my mind, is knowledge of specific action and relevance to the present situation. That, reader, is what I should put to you. Seek to become informed, not merely knowledgeable. It will stand you in far greater stead.”Excerpt from “The Collected Teachings of Carsa Mon”
Ashek sipped gently from the glass in her right hand, then swirled the liquid idly, light from the fireplace in front of her casting a thin shade of blue upon her face through the glass’s contents. She tapped idly on it with one fingernail, the sound of metal on glass echoing through the small, dimly lit chamber.
Arturim watched from the shadows as Ashek reclined in the leather chair, narrow eyes watching the flames flickering gently. One side of her face was cast in deep shadow, enough to make her green scales look almost black, the other illuminated brightly so as to be a dull gold. Only in the light of her private sanctum could Ashek’s duality be seen so naked.
“Normally you don’t wait this long,” the iakim announced, her eyes remaining fixed on the firelight. Arturim exhaled a short breath of disappointment, a smirk breaking over Ashek’s face as she heard. The Greenfang stepped away from the thin rope next to him and into the light.
“What have you this week?” Ashek asked, turning to the decanter next to her and pouring a second glass of the pale blue liquid. She knew better than to ask if he’d been followed.
Arturim crossed to his iakim’s side, removing a ream of paper from his breast and exchanging it for the glass in Ashek’s outstretched hand. “Snow in Clearmont,” he said, making a complicated gesture with his empty hand. Ashek’s eyeline darted to meet his as she understood the hidden meaning. One could never be too careful.
Ashek stood to her feet, crossing to the glass table in the corner and placing the topmost sheet of paper onto it. “Winter would break eventually,” she said, reaching behind the table to produce a sound of glass against glass, before a thin white light emanated from within, revealing the ciphered text on the briefing. We knew they’d leave at some point. “Have you informed the Scalelord?” she asked.
Arturim swallowed his mouthful, the blue liquid burning as it slid down his throat. “I see no reason to trouble the Scalelord with news of mainland weather movements,” he said. What the Scalelord doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
“And how will winter treat us here?” Ashek asked, working her way through the stack of paper, separating each sheet into one of two piles. Have they arrived?
Arturim drained the last of his glass. “I understand a Suros vessel had a bad night on the western coast but nothing else has yet come of it.” Yes.
Ashek breathed deeply, poring over the last few sheets as she separated them. “I see. Keep me appraised of any developments.” Find them.
“Naturally,” Arturim said, crossing to the fireplace and adding a log. I’ll see to it.
Ashek finished reading the missives, reached behind the table once more to silence the light. She gathered the largest pile of paper and handed it back to Arturim. “Forewarned is forearmed, after all.” I want to know first.
“Indeed.” Of course.
Ashek took the remaining papers and folded them gently, filing them away in the darkness. “Anything else to report?”
Arturim shook his head. “All quiet otherwise.” Nothing you didn’t just see.
Ashek nodded, scratching her chin with one metal fingernail. “Very well. Dinner next week?” This stays with me.
The Greenfang master smiled. “As you wish.”