The throne room was magnificent. It was constructed of great stone blocks, intricately carved, and the floor was composed a huge mosaic of red, blue, and white tiles. The room was filled with lizzies, most of them elaborately covered in body paint and feathers. Still, it was easy enough to see where the power was. At the far end of the room was a dais, with a heavy stone throne positioned right in its center. Sitting somewhat slumped in the chair was King Hsrandtuss. Terra thought that she might have recognized him even without his golden crown. Not only was he huge and battle-scarred, but even sitting as he was, there was something of a presence about him. It was like what Auntie Iolanthe had, though she was firmly against slouching.
The great red-painted lizzie stopped just inside the door and held out his hand in a gesture to stop. Terra stepped around him and continued on. He followed hissing, but apparently afraid to lay hands on her. There was something of a queue of lizzies waiting to speak to the king, but they, one after another, stepped aside as she approached. She stopped some ten feet from Hsrandtuss, but the monarch didn’t move, and Terra realized that he was asleep.
On either side of the king was a female lizzie. The one on the right was painted intricately with yellow and white, while the one on the left was in black and red. Both were draped in at least ten pounds of gold jewelry. These were two of Hsrandtuss’s queens. The queen on the left poked Hsrandtuss on the shoulder. He swiped at her, but missed.
Terra stepped up onto the dais. Every lizzie in the entire room let out a quick hiss. Hsrandtuss opened his eyes.
“Hello,” he said in Brech.
“Hello,” said Terra, placing her hand on her throat, palm out.
“That’s as much of your language as I know. Do you speak our tongue, tiny male?”
“I do. It is a pleasure to meet you, Great King. I am a female though.”
“Are you doing this to confuse me? Are you not wearing male feathers? Take off your hat.”
Terra removed her pith helmet, letting her limp brown hair fall around her face.
“I still can’t tell,” growled the King.
“I’m sorry to appear before you so unpresentable, but my things were all lost in an attack by gorgosaurs. I had some gifts for you too, from my brother, but I’m afraid they were also lost.” There was no lizzie word for brother, so Terra substituted “male from my hut, born of an egg from the same female,” which always struck her as funny because it made it sound like the hut had laid an egg.
“Now I am nervous,” said the king. “Who exactly is this male hut mate?”
“He is Lord Dechantagne.” She didn’t bother with most of Augie’s titles, since the lizzies didn’t have words for them.
“Yes, I know your hut. He is The Little King. Dechantagne.” The king pronounced her family name as well as a human. “I have spent time with Child of the Sunrise. She is impressive. And I know you. You are the one they call Earthworm.”
“Tell me your human name.”
“Terra Posthuma Korlann Dechantagne.”
“A much more impressive name…” He suddenly rose to his feet. “You were attacked by gorgosaurs? I was not told you were coming! I can’t be held responsible for you if I didn’t even know you were coming! You could have dragged my people into war and I wouldn’t even know why!”
“My brother knew the risks. No one could have reasonably blamed my death on you, Great King.”
Hsrandtuss leaned over and paced his long snout right in front of her nose. “You speak as if humans were reasonable.”