Bai Yu, the Emperor’s chosen representative, met the ambassadors. He had devoted himself to the study of the elves’ language, so when the time came, their words fell of his tongue thickly but intelligibly.

“I am Bai Yu. Our emperor, latest in a line that stretches back over one thousand years, sends his most personal greetings,” said Bai Yu, being deeply. “I am Bai Yu, a eunuch of the Imperial household, advisor, and general.”

The elves replied, their own tongues thick. “It is said that your emperor is a direct descendent of the sun.”

Bai Yu, straightening, flicked his eyes to the trees. The elves were few in number, but they had come girded for war, with archers in advantageous places and skirmishes prepared to meet intruders in the wood, at the point when the humans’ heavy cavalry would be useless.

“I am Wystan Tathame,” the lead elf said. He was very pale, with golden hair and a hasty air.

“It is my pleasure to welcome you, Sir Wystan.”

The elf narrowed his eyes. “Who are you to address me by my personal name so familiarly, and t welcome me to my own land?”

Bai Yu’s scalp prickled with sweat. These strange creatures put their personal names first, and did not recognize the primacy of the Son of Heaven? His troops, seeing him tense, began to stir.

“You know, our high king is descended from the sun as well,” a younger elf, by the king’s side, said.

Thinking quickly, Bai Yu smiled. “Than your high king and our emperor must be cousins!”

After a moment of stone-faced deliberation, the older elf smiled to. “What a joyous family reunion this is, then.”

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