The Mountebank stood in the centre of the room, facing his audience, most of whom were sitting on stools arranged in three rows of six. Sitting cross-legged at the front, on the floor listening attentively was a row of barbarians, their linen nose-skirts neatly pressed, their war-skirts tucked modestly between their mottled thighs. They were too tall to sit on the stools---they would have obscured the very sun itself, had it risen indoors that day.
The genteel living room was in the Governor’s Residence, or late-Governor rather, since zur beheading at the hands of the Barbarians in the dark days after the invasion. The Barbarian Chief, Hausmarten, had ordered the Residence to be refurbished into what he called “the Centre for Cultural Studies” as part of his campaign to wins the hearts and minds of the people.
“After all,” he had remarked to his right hand men, “we’re not just big, bad beastly barbarians, now are we? As is well known, I myself am descended from a long line of bezerker bards. A touch of class, I always say, speaks more about a man than the babies he has put to the flame.”
continued under the "barbarians" label...