The Asuras of Mamjul
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Note: The following text is a rough translation of a page delivered into Foundation custody by Agent Yulius Barzakh, a long-term infiltrator of the Serpent's Hand who returned on 4/6/2022 from a three-month deep cover assignment in the Wanderer's Library. Barzakh reports that this page had been inserted into an innocuous tome he was perusing in the course of maintaining his cover, and since marginalia of this sort are not protected by the Librarians to the same extent as their registered texts, he chose to risk pocketing the paper and returning prematurely from the Library to drop it at a clandestine SCPF safehouse. The page is covered on both sides with glyphs which were determined to be a previously unseen dialect of Old High Daevic, and is believed to predate all other written material describing the Daeva civilization. Publication of this translation was delayed in order to avoid compromising Agent Barzakh's connections prior to the formal completion of his assignment. The page both begins and ends in mid-sentence, and there are so far no matches of this excerpt with any other recovered Daevite texts.

…with the assistance of her loyal azalea-handmaiden, proceeded to make all necessary preparations to receive this visitor. The folk of Koror knew that it was dangerous to accept an overture from such creatures as the Sorcerer-Nawabs, but it was Alakhai's determination that the potential benefits of this meeting were worthy of the risk.

When all of the necessary glyph-lichens had been properly sculpted/planted at the boundaries of the designated space, the Daeva crossed those boundaries herself, and shouted the signal of assent for the emissary to make its presence known. Without delay, the aromatic air of the chamber grew thick, not with the expected indoctrination-pollens, but with an entirely unfamiliar miasma. As it was the practice of Koror to inter the deceased either in wood or in stone, and never to burn them, Alakhai did not recognize the foetor of the charnel incinerator in the smoke that had begun to gather, but it was later confirmed by her azalea-handmaiden that this scent did indeed match that which the spleenwort-infiltrator had detected on its intrusion into the tomb-furnaces of Mamjul.

Then when the stinking black cloud had fully manifested, a process completed at remarkable speed, Alakhai did perceive the appearance of two smoldering orange eyes within the vaporous mass, and below them the merest hint of a mouth cracked open, seeming to smile mockingly. Despite her own dreadful station, the gardener-priestess was compelled to take a step back in surprise at the visage's abrupt appearance, and the smoke-creature's smile seemed to widen at this, as if it was pleased to have intimidated the one with whom it was sent to treat.

"My master thanks you for agreeing to receive this unworthy vessel of his will," the intruding phantom/demon spoke, with a voice that seemed to echo from the depths of a great and fiery pit, and to have been spoken by the grinding of bones that rubbed across each other until they caught ablaze. Alakhai made no effort to conceal her displeasure at the offense that had been done to her ears. "He has the ear of the Asuras themselves, and what agreement you strike with him, they will be given little choice but to accept."

The gardener-priestess recovered her composure through practice rendered effortless by near-infinite repetition. "Tell the Sorcerer-Nawab of Mamjul when you return to him, if he wishes to enlist the allegiance of one who has so recently been his enemy, he would do well to minimize the outrages against proper etiquette which his emissary displays by its mere existence. Surely, a human messenger could have been found who is of correct station, and would not have required such elaborate precautions to receive in security."

"My master has no time for these games," the phantom/demon blustered. "Our war has been a costly one, and these two city-fortresses will soon be populated only by servitor creatures such as myself, or your moist little plant-slave, or the spy who you thought we did not notice creeping into our most sacred places of cremation. The eyes of the mighty Asuras who rule Mamjul may overlook such lowly intruders, for they fix their attention on the distant horizons which they plan to conquer someday. But the Sorcerer-Nawab whom I speak for does not ignore such trivialities. He knows that you and the other Daevas of Koror think they will win this war with life after life, patiently crafting the magics that blossom in soil and in mind and in bloodline. But you are ignorant. It is our arts which truly bend reality, and produce results within a mortal lifetime, not taking five thousand years to craft a kingdom for ourselves. You and your loyal slaves will be only fuel for the Asura's furnace, if the battle should continue for another century with no change."

Alakhai was silent and thoughtful for a long moment. At last she spoke. "Your master is wise, and not merely clever. Koror can fight Mamjul for a thousand years; we will never lose, but neither will we win. The Daevas should not war with the Asuras, but the Asuras do not understand. Therefore, a Nawab should sit upon their throne instead, is it not so?" She gave a slight smile, and the phantom/demon responded in kind.

From that exchange, the pact would be forged; only the details needed to be negotiated over the remaining nights. Soon, the armies of smokeless fire were recalled behind Mamjul's walls, and a rumor began to circulate among the common folk of both city-fortresses that an Asura no longer…

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