It was no coincidence that all seven of his esteemed peers were male. Kurosi law plainly forbid women from holding positions of political power. It was often conflated as a law of all Sandlords, but it really was a regional matter. Asad had lived in Kuros for nearly twenty years now, and at this point, his youth spent growing up in Moaban seemed almost like someone else’s life, but he still clearly remembered his mother being the unquestionable head of Hahl Najir when she was alive. It was difficult to imagine her bending to anyone else’s will, regardless of what the law might have told her.
Asad pulled down his red hood, revealing his bald head to the audience. His tattoos extended there as well, four black lines inked into the naturally dark tan of his bare pate. Such were all of his tattoos--nothing but ornate lines across his whole body, all bearing intermittent protrusions that looked vaguely like tiny thorns or knots. They’d become something of a cosmetic nuisance as he’d grown older, thinning and stretching over time, but he was entirely unashamed of showing them off.
“My fellow lords,” Asad began in Valgan, “you know what I am here to say. I am unsure of how else I can convince you. It is painfully obvious that our country, our comrades, and our people have all found themselves in the sudden grip of danger and war. I firmly believe that inaction during this time is a mistake, and I urge you to support our western brothers before it is too late.”
An audible snort rose from the far left side of the desk, pulling Asad’s eyes to Lord Hamza of Hahl Dagher. A thin man, his ivory robes nearly swallowed him whole, offering only a small view of the man’s sharp nose and gray eyes. “‘Western brothers’?” he said. “You overstate our relationship with the wet monkeys.”
“We share the name of our land with them,” said Asad. “We share our people and the responsibility that accompanies them. And financially, they are our brethren as much as any lord here.”
“Sharing a war against the Vanguard is not the same thing as sharing food and money for our subjects,” said Lord Abbas of Hahl Saqqaf. He was the oldest person in the room, though it hardly showed. The few gray streaks in his dark beard were quite faint, and his sky blue gaze didn’t match his weathered features, making him look somehow younger.