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It was the middle hours of the morning, when most cities would be thrumming with the varied activities of workers and machinery, making, selling, buying, shipping, receiving, all the labors of life in an urbanized environment. Perhaps, in times past, Griffonstone had hummed with this activity more than any other, being the core of a mighty Empire. Now, however, the remnant populace huddled in huts, gaunt, barely willing to scratch a living that less scrupulous sorts waited to snatch from their hungry claws. A sad state of a fallen land, settling like a blanket of quiet, bitter despair. And yet, there remained one beacon of light and noise, surrounding what was now, thanks to dedicated effort, only half of a total ruin. Within it all, at the center, Emperor Norton Breakbeak I held court. The local populace still wasn't sure what to make of the fellow, who had come in on one of the rare trains up, bringing with him a flock of eager-eyed catbirds from the formerly-dirty corners of Breakbeak city, following their favorite eccentric. To be honest, it was uncertain for some of them if any better alternative than unrecognized factory labor awaited them, so better to do their hard work in the sunshine for a boss that was at least funny. Others might have been here more or less as a working vacation to the old site of their forefathers, feeling it no bad use of their time to fix up an old place with historical memories, make a nice picture at the end of it. And perhaps, just perhaps, there were some here who actually believed this was their true Emperor, returned at last. Whichever they were, Emperor Norton treated them all the same, as beloved subjects for whom their liege would spare no effort. Many a time he had held a hammer alongside his crew, and the very floor in front of his makeshift throne had been swept clean by himself, personally. Now, though, his labors were in the mental space of command, as he reviewed before him some... well, if they were on bluepaper, you could call them blueprints. As it were, any scraps of writing material had to do. Backs of old manila envelopes, for example. "We are now ready, send in the Civil Engineer!" He called out to a youngling out by the "front door", an almost entirely fictional construct consisting of a chalk marker for when they'd eventually rebuild the wall and put a door in. The Emperor was most looking forward to this first meeting; Gerrard's skills as an irrigation engineer would be most welcome in these drylands. When that griffon entered the scene, he would see a sight that never failed to amuse and faintly impress all who beheld it. A male griffon, going up in years but maintaining vigorous health, with the most absolutely magnificent pair of moustaches that a mortal beak could support, clad in a gussied up dress uniform, bedecked with medals both genuine and superfluous, topped off by a hat that was a cross between a field marshal's cap and a tropical aviary. The glory of griffonkind, ladies and gentlecolts !
Griffonstone. Once, it had been the shining jewel of griffon kind. It's wealth and influence reached far and wide, allowing the catbirds who grew up and lived there a great deal of prestige and pride that they could lord over those unfortunate enough to not have the grace or wealth to live their themselves. But as is often the case with history, the wheel turned ever onward; Their greatest trading partner disappeared off the face of the planet, one of their kings great treasures was stolen with their monarchs spending to much time and resources trying to get it back in vain... and while the authority of Griffonstone crumbled to dust other powers rose up to fill the void it left behind. Now, Griffonstone was little more then a dump for old griffons to stubborn to admit that the old days were over and die and those poor, unfortunate souls that were too poor to live anywhere else. The glories of the past long destroyed, outright ransacked or simply abandoned to rot while the slums in their shadows grew more dilapidated and cheap as the years passed by. But as he sat at an outdoors chair that somehow seemed to have all of its legs be the short one making it wobbly, Ridge the dragon did not see Griffonstone's distant past or its depressing present. Instead the white dragon's eye gaze was focused on a piece of parchment that the pony he had hired to confirm his suspicions had taken the time to write their detailed report on, only occasionally letting it flicker over to the sack of 'samples' that had been unearthed in the process before his attention returned to ink on paper. It was a complicated document in the fact that the terminology employed by it would have confused most beings able to read and write who didn't have a background in geology, but for Ridge it teased out a smile. Putting the parchment down, he opened up the sack of samples in order to draw one of them out to see it with his own eyes. While he would confess that emeralds were low on his personal list of favorite flavors when it came to gems (through some of them were good for decoration) the one that he held in his claw had earned something of a special place in his heart as it seemed to glow in the light, twisting the light of the sun into a rather pleasant dark green color. It wasn't big or that impressive looking, through it would easily be able to purchase a couple of the slum homes that made up Griffionstone itself, but the emerald itself was nowhere near as important as what its presence represented. Griffionstone had a future... and Ridge was going to claim it.
Prof. Morianna Razorclaw took a leisurely sip from her teacup as she surveyed the scene before her. In the griffon’s line of sight stood Griffonstone; once the capital city of a mighty Griffon Empire, now little more than a dungheap. Twas’ a shame really; if only those miserable citizens would let go their pride and acquiesce to the rule of the Aquellian Republic, they’ would have the assistance they’d need to restore Griffonstone to a reflection of its former glory. At least then, Aquellians could visit a historical site without having to know shame. But that was neither here or now. Like an elite griffoness forced to visit a diseased area against her will, Morianna sat outdoors at a small table adjacent to a tent, outside Griffonstone. Standing on each side of her, guards held up banners showing the Roc; House Razorclaw’s sigil. They were there not to meet with anyone from the city in particular, but rather with a most important individual from beyond civilization. News had reached Prof. Razorclaw’s ears of a new Lord of the Dragons: Ember, daughter of Torch. An unlikely successor to be sure, as it was widely believed in Morianna’s circles that a more brutish dragon would have passed the Flamecano Trial and earned the Bloodstone Scepter. But Ember now was the Dragon Lord; not only that, but unlike her father, she was already sending feelers to other nations with offers of friendship. Quite remarkable for a species known for isolationism at their best... and mass destruction at their very worst. Morianna Razorclaw, matriarch of her House and special advisor to the Aquellian Prime Minister, couldn’t afford to pass this opportunity up, since an alliance between Aquellia and the Dragon Lands could last as long as Ember lived... and dragons lived for a very long time. The Professor at first thought it strange that in letters from Ember, the Dragon Lord seemed to assume that Griffonstone would be the place to meet the griffon leaders. Rather than correct Ember in a following letter however, Morianna consented to a meeting here in the wretched wreck of Griffonstone. Not the best place to showcase griffon might, but Mori was a professor, and exceptional professors always found unique ways to teach their lessons.....