We had all gathered there before bed, primarily to compare notes but also to chill. It's quite tiring, fawning over people and feigning politeness in the way that Honka demands, so the opportunity to relax and unwind was welcomed by us all.
"So if Honka is the High Emperor, who is the Low Emperor?" Arunga suddenly asked.
Traeth explained that in ancient times (again, no idea when 'ancient' was), the country had been divided into the High Region and the Low Region. However, either due to a marriage of the two families or a war (no one could decide which because the Dirrians have never recorded their history), there was now only the High Emperor. I can't say that fact was particularly interesting, but the lack of recorded history was very intriguing.
On Earth we say that history is written by the victors. On Dirria, history is apparently written by the old wenches that feel compelled to tell it to their grandchildren. Such stories are filled with embellishments to entertain or terrorise the young (just as we do with our children), so tales often contradict each other; the truth is very ambiguous at best.
Traeth began to tell us some of the stories that were told to him as a child. Just like our own histories, his tales were filled with kings and queens, princes and princesses. There were rogues and heroes, the kind and the cruel. There were also tales of adultery and murder among the Emperors through the ages, so I suppose the Dirrians are not that different to Terrans after all.
I asked Traeth where he thought the current emperor would fit into Dirrian history. Would he be remembered as a good emperor I asked?
Traeth's eyes suddenly widened and his whole demeanour changed. He glared uncomfortably at me.
"Oh, definitely one of the better ones!" he said, but his eyes spoke differently. He tapped his ear with one hand and swept his finger across his chin with the other, pointing most discretely towards the window. We all realised what he was saying, and a faint shadow passing across the balcony confirmed it. Someone was listening.
Our conversation became stilted and dull, and we quickly feigned tiredness and a need to retire to our beds. We went inside, shutting the windows behind us and began to chat hurriedly. I was worried about listening devices but Traeth assured us we had no need to be. The Dirrians weren't that sophisticated or technologically advanced. In future, though, our conversations will be taking place in hushed tones, our doors and windows closed tightly against the outside world.