I take Jonah's arm and we enter the marble building. A golden chandelier hung from the ceiling; it's a beautiful decoration and it's providing light to the grand room.
Rows of velvet chairs line both sides of this magnificent meeting hall, and we walk on the carpet between them. At the end is our destination: The Four Thrones.
As representative of Earth I take my seat in the second throne, and Jonah, prince of Asmæth, sits in the third.
The doors to the Hall creak open and a woman, dressed in an elegant robe of a material nonexistent on Earth, enters. Jonah nods in greeting to her.
"Roseanne," he greeted, and she dips her head slightly before sitting in the first throne.
Roseanne and I are not close, and we never will be. I stiffen when she leans over and whispers, "How are things on Earth? Plestan is doing just fine, but I hear you're having . . . trouble with the warfront at Ragnorect."
"And you know very well why that is," I snap back. Jonah lays a hand on my arm.
"We must be civil, Erika. It is only once a year, and I hope we can be friendly for a few hours until this is over."
I take a deep breath. "You're right. Let's not act like-"
The doors burst open and Zane waltzes in.
"Him," I mutter. Jonah smirks.
"Sorry I'm late," Zane apologizes, "I spilled a little something on my suit and was forced to change." A pointed look at me. "Erika! I haven't seen you in the longest time. How have you been?"
I curl my hand into a fist and resist the urge to vaporize him, not that it would matter. Just make him change suits again.
Jonah's soft gaze diffuses my anger and my hands relax.
"I've been just fine," I say. No thanks to you and Roseanne. Zane's face gives way to a genuine smile.
"That's good to hear. Now, I will refrain from delaying our meeting any longer."
All four are seated in our thrones. Now, the fun part begins.
We, the immortal rulers of our separate planets, must pretend to be interested in peace and unity and try to form an agreement. But we never do, because we are in the midst of a war. A War of Four Worlds.
It's Asmæth and Earth against Plestan and Ragnorect, and Jonah and I had been leading our troops to victory over and over again for five years. Then Zane succeeded his uncle as Emperor of Ragnorect and, well, we've been struggling a little against his combination of brutality and cunning battle strategy.
Really, these 'peaceful' gatherings are just a formality, and an hour in we are at each others' throats.
Zane stands in front of me, arms crossed.
"You really think your puny little humans are any match for my army of faster, stronger, and smarter beings?"
"Yes, actually, I do." Zane raised his eyebrows.
"You think humans are anywhere near worthy of us?" he asks skeptically.
"I'm a human, and I put an arrow through your skull this morning."
"Correction: you're not human, you used to be human, and you only survived long enough to manage that because you're immortal now."
"Oh yeah? Well, immortal humans can kick the crap out of immortal Ragians," I reply. Zane growls low in his throat and leaps forwards, tackling me. We grapple and throw punches until Jonah pulls us apart, both our fists bloody. Roseanne smiles at what she considers extreme childishness.
I glare at Zane as my jaw resets and his nose corrects itself. Jonah makes a little tut-tut noise and officially concludes the unsuccessful meeting.