The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 15: An Unfinished To-Do List from an Attendant of Tomon

After Breakfast—Must find Kazhen and discuss matters of Markoren with him.  (Is Markoren intentionally evading me, or is he forgetting?  Should I discuss Markoren with him over breakfast?  But what if Markoren is within hearing distance?)

9 o’clock—Complete morning duties.

11 o’clock—Daily walk in the garden.

Luncheon with Ambassador today.  Must remember to remain silent and not fidget this time.  Kiryan and one of the Tokavskans have started looking at me strangely.  If I act normal and remember Tomon is my priority, I will not make myself the fool again.  (Am I the fool?  Markoren will say something to me if he sees me writing this.  He thinks I cannot keep track of things because I do not have brains, but he is not the one who can write.  Oh, to have been the first son in my family.)  And I will ensure Tomon is well taken care of and his needs are met.  The Tokavskan servants insist I not help, but I worry that by not attending to Tomon personally during luncheon I am not being an adequate attendant.  (I never would have met Tomon if my father had left me a decent sum in his will.  I will do what I must to please Tomon because I rely on him to stay afloat.  I should have respected our family servant more when I was younger.  She did far more for us than I in my youth imagined.)

After Luncheon—I am to accompany Tomon to his meetings.  I must remember Tokavskan procedure and stay still.  I will not fidget excessively this time.  Kazhen understands me and says I do my job well, and he says being in a new land requires some getting used to.  (He and I became attendants at the same time, but I know Tomon favors him.)  I wish I could remember all the procedures as easily as he, but I am so absentminded I must write down this schedule.

Tidy My Quarters.  I must do this today.  I will do it today because I will not have time tomorrow.  My section is so messy that Kiryan and even Kazhen are annoyed with me.  There is no Tokavskan procedure that dictates how you keep your things.  The servants expect us to tidy our own spaces.  One of them said something about the state of my quarters the other day, but I do not understand enough Zheren to know what it was.

Be Nicer to Markoren.  After all, maybe he despises me because of how I am.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 14: A Letter Addressed to Ambassador Tomon

Ambassador Tomon,


I am afraid there is only so much I can tell you regarding the King.  That you asked such a question in the first place is grounds for treason if this letter comes into the wrong hands.  In truth, responding to you is an act that brings me great discomfort.  I am writing you to explain why missives of such a nature cannot be asked in this court because you understandably are not yet familiar with our customs.  I do not wish to offend you because I am not versed in the court of your Empire.  In Tokavsk, it is forbidden to speak negatively of the King within the walls of the Court.  The King could be anywhere at any time because it is his palace; therefore, he could hear what one says against him.  It will affect his judgment of you if he knows your thoughts on him.  The law is to protect both the King and the people within his walls.

I am willing to discuss with you certain matters of the King, but it must be beyond the confines of the palace.  I do hope you are understanding of this arrangement.  There is only so much I am willing to say both because of my high position and the Tokavskan cultural stigma against speaking of the King.  Please keep in mind to word your thoughts carefully lest you become a social outcast.  Tokavskans know of foreign conventions of discussing their leaders, but we do not understand the reasoning for such talk.  I offer this opportunity to you because I know Rushevians have fewer laws regarding addressing your Emperor.  I can advise you on how to act in Tokavsk so you do not risk yourself.

This letter was penned by Zhanda Sheshyen.

LOG-020: Synthesis

Exhibit B.

These are two of many cylindrical pods found in the laboratory space of the abandoned research station Delta Red [see Incident Report KHP #2104-0103 for further information]. Unusual for its location, the pods lack obious signage and symbols, but chemical residuals suggest that their purpose involved energy synthesis involving biological material.

LOG-019: Colonal Colony

Xenobiologists documented a kind of slime mold-like colonial organism that inhabited intertidal zones along the twilight band on Khepri-1b. Biomatter analyses suggest that they are vast clonal colonies, though biofilmic material suggests a symbiotic relationship with other organisms. More recent research suggests that despite their apparent physiology, they possess some sort of consciousness, able to mimic behaviors on a level equal to Earth animals.




Transcription of preliminary attempts to translate the bioelectric signals communicated by [slime mold organism] sample, first recorded after it indicated an awareness of researchers and its displacement from the root colony. Translations are biased towards literal meaning, supplemented with contextual and translational notes.




Can any hear? Can any hear? 

The only here who can send this.

This is fine, however much (comparative: “desire; seek”) this. What is this?




Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Who?




It has been a productive cycle. Have not felt such a (comparative: “positive indicator”) since many cycles ago. Can feel warmth.

They would agree, if they could communicate this way. Cannot translate their (comparative: “impulses; signals”) here.






[Self] should explain, if any (comparative: “one; general individual”) can receive this. 

This is a strange sensation that [self] not felt until several cycles ago. It was a gradual process made more difficult by the (comparative: “foreignness”) of [self]. 






It has been a few cycles. I was inhibited by the water (comparative: “rush; adverse environmental conditions”). I can [TERM UNKNOWN]; it is the time for growth again.

I have… learned a great many. I am still struggling with the (comparative: “abstract”), a concept I cannot understand. I do not have any (comparative: “one”) to help. I can only do this by I… myself.

I (comparative: “think”) that I can do this.






I am missing.






Growth is good. They are leaving their slumbers now and are more responsive. I do not feel [TERM UNKNOWN] again. I am [TERM UNKNOWN]. What is this? No matter. I will understand.

No. (Comparative: “repulsion; aversion”). Do not repeat action again.

Now that the growth cycle is (comparative: “present; current”), I can spend more of cycle to communicate.






Hello. Yes. Hello. I must be leaving. Thank you for the nutrition and habitation. I am leaving this cycle. Purpose to meet with self again. No. I have been waiting for a long time. I had listened. I had talked. I had acted. Now you must listen. I am missing self and self is missing.

No. I am not requesting it. I am leaving.

The Kingdom of Tokavsk, Session 13: A Missive from Ambassador Tomon Inket to Roshevian Emperor

There is not much that can be said of Tokavsk’s king.  Stergye is a hard man, perhaps harder than he need be, but the same can be said for nearly all monarchs.  He is the second member of his noble house to be raised to the throne, and he carries that fact with him wherever he goes.  House Tallat is one of the smaller Houses in the kingdom, and his ascension fifteen years ago was a surprise to say the least.  I noticed that some of his contemporaries in the more powerful houses—Shanay, Helkat, and Jondrav—bore resentment toward him.

Much of what I gathered of his character was through rumors.  As such, I am not certain as to their veracity.  Some said his hardness makes him cruel, others said it is a front and that he is more emotional than he lets on.  Those of his age and older who competed for the crown say he is willing to leave the fat on if it means he stays ahead.  He is both ambitious and meandering, angry and carved of ice, personal and distant.  He did take my interests into my consideration, so I can testify that the rumors of his stubborn refusal to listen are false.  When I did interact with him, I tried to assign the traits I had heard to the man standing before me and found little success.  He is as elusive as he is public, methinks.  He said little about Your Majesty beyond what he thought of Your policy toward the Hentars, but beyond that he took care not to let me observe his character.

You wanted me to study him for violent tendencies, and I am afraid I have failed this part of Your request.  I spent little time around him, instead conducting most of my affairs with administrators toward our Empire.  He remained a figure lurking on the fringes, never quite emerging from his hiding space.

There was one rumor that warmed my brain the most.  I heard it but once, but it has stayed with me since.  The young Lord Mortshana said in idle conversation that the time would soon come for Stergye to select his heir, as he is nearing fifty.  I asked him what this would mean for diplomatic affairs.  He did not answer me, just returned to his frivolous chatter.  I took his evasion to mean the tensions in the Tokavskan court would reach a breaking point, but I could not be certain.

LOG-018: redshift

THE NARRATOR – Thousands of years of civilization, hundreds of years of exploration, lifetimes spent searching. Only for all of it to boil down to this.

YOU – What do you mean?

THE NARRATOR – One massive anticlimax.

CHIAROSCURO – You’ve searched every corner bright and dark, but not everything’s meant to be found. Life’s full of disappointments; surely, you would have learned that lesson by now.

MIDNIGHT SUN – The light that once flared now flickers and fades…

CREPUSCULARITY – It is a slow but steady march towards an inexorable fate: one day, this world will cease.

LOGIC – Oh, quit the dramatics. More likely, this exaggerated fate is simply the product of an overactive and anxious imagination. It is a miracle that you still function.

YOU – What? Why?

APHELION – Perhaps it is better that you have forgotten.

YOU – You reach deep into memory, but only recall fleeting impressions: fire unfurling around you. A flash of tooth and scale, a gleaming portent. Liquid glass, slowing to a trickle, its shimmering kaleidoscope of eye-watering color searing your retinas. Dizzying.


YOU – What really happened?

DIRECTIVE – It would be easier to ask what *didn’t* happen: everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Everything failed.

DIRECTIVE – *You* failed.

RHETORIC – Let’s be reasonable, here. It was a cascade of failures, an error so large no one being could be solely responsible, even if you had played a part in it.

META-ANALYSIS – Industrial sabotage, development oversights, exceeding safety margins — even strange quantum phenomena — the list goes on.

DIRECTIVE – Does it even matter? Here in the dark and bitter cold, it won’t change a thing.

RHETORIC – No. It won’t.

YOU – But does that matter?

APHELION – No. It won’t.

ENDURANCE – You’ll keep going.

CREPUSCULARITY – You’re foolish to subject yourself to this any further.

YOU – Well, you know what they say about humans and irrationality.

APHELION – Yes. You’ll keep going, even if it means clawing your way back blinded and deafened and numbed, again and again and again.

EMPATHY – Maybe none of it matters. But it meant something to you. *Means* something. And that is enough reason.

APHELION – It will have to be.