WHEN COMES THE FIRETIDE | PART TWO: EMERGENTS
Chapter Thirteen: Upon Waning Patience and Mindfulness
Calhalla Holt, Mossreign Dale, Southern Dagger Fells Cord
2nd Som Patience, month of Foundations 8178
Growing loud and more chaotic, the shouting voices no longer seemed directed at anyone in particular. Every person only screamed to have their voice heard. Sahaan loathed to use it, but he gripped the carved, wooden club-shaped gavel and slammed it onto the council table once. The sound echoed loud enough to be heard in the halls beyond the locked doors. Although most everyone quieted and sat, one voice continued to rant. That it was Tumahnr Fehlisan was no surprise to him.
“It is an insult enough that we must share a table with this–”
“Tumahnr, tread carefully.”
“–that you even consider caving to the demands of her leadership, these, Falenoth women. It is abhorrent! Why not line the streets with our youth and simply behead them now?!” The woman threw her hands up trying to stoke the frenzy anew.
As supporters and challengers began to speak, Sahaan raised his voice above all of them. “If Tumahnr Fehlisan is quite finished with her histrionics, perhaps we need another reading of the letter… AGAIN. It is not a demand. It is a request. In my experience, those engaging in genocide do not make a habit of polite invitations.”
“The Vesvudak stressed several times she is quite understanding of the strain placed upon all the Erahs clans, both emotionally and physically given our losses recently and historically. Daunet Zuree is not a tyrant. In fact, all accounts of her depict a woman of very wise leadership who chooses to seek out diplomatic means before rushing to the sword.” Umisra spoke up without asking permission, her own ire raised at this point. “Her letter details an upheaval in the capital and Viridian Enclave that will require far too much of her attention to be worrying about clever tricks for ‘squirrel-hunting’ sport.”
Her language riled several present, while Sahaan struggled to conceal a smirk behind his hand. They needed it. They deserved it. The Calhalla had been sheltered and protected unlike any other Erahs clan save perhaps the elusive Sutali, and because of this, they had become arrogant and complacent. No less dangerous, they had become detached. They thought themselves removed from the other clans, more important and so isolated in Mossreign that the troubles of Tybraes did not affect them. The Dusters had been a hard smack of truth that too many still refused to face.
Rising from her seat, towering above everyone, Nkot cleared her throat and rest the fingertips of one hand upon the table. “The religious unrest in Ejade is a storm the Greater Kith will have to weather. The creature Uvall is a test of the Valkto faith. Many will continue to believe, many will join this belief- Shae and Erahs included… but many more are seeing the horrors around them, these Dusters that attacked your clan, that I myself have fought. These Valktoss… not one I have known who has looked into the face of a Duster has held to that faith. The fate of the Valk Malvud detailed in the letter only confirms for many that if our premiere voice of the Gods has such a crisis of faith as to go mad, many more will turn away.” The woman crossed her arms then and heaved a sigh. “Vesvudak Zuree has a keen enough tactical mind to manage this unrest on her own. She does not expect the aftermath of the coup in the Enclave will simple go away. But Uvall is the threat. The Dusters are the threat. To EVERYONE. And she will not allow our politics to be the reason all of Tybraes dies.” She glanced about the table but settled her eyes upon Fehlisan. “Will you?”
As Nkot eased back into her seat, Sahaan bowed his head, “Thank you, Ganrosa Raagmin, very well stated. Unlike my mother before me, I prefer not to hand down decrees upon the people. I will not force anything upon anyone.”
“Yet you will force the council to accept this without our say or approval?” Tumahnr Kamis blurted, a woman younger than Umisra. “So I am invited to sit on the council yet my voice still counts for nothing!”
“No, this is not true. You are the heads of your houses. Your voices are looked to for wisdom and guidance everyday. You are here to gain all the information, so you may take it to your houses. Offer your opinions to them, but let it be known that if I learn of anyone forbidding a willing volunteer from stepping forward, there will be consequences.” His eyes fell upon Fehlisan at this. “Umisra has seen to it that the letter has been copied for each of you to take and provide for your houses to read. Other copies will be made available around the holt. Volunteers are to report to Captain tu’Satin. Greil will ensure that they are properly prepared and, if need be, receive some training before leaving to meet the Ganroth Vud-Ntaesk or the imperial army. Units of both will be coming through the area.”
Tumahnr Fehlisan opened her mouth to argue, but it was Tumahnr Satin who held out a hand and silenced her with a shake of his head. “The clan have a right to make this decision for themselves, Eema. It is their lives for which these Ganroth and Shae fight. They have a right to defend it for themselves as well.”
Again Sahaan nodded with respect. “Thank you, Tumahnr Satin.”
Without word, Fehlisan rose from the table and looked to those who had supported her voice, then marched for the door. A few others rose and followed. Tumahnr Kamis considered it but faltered and remained seated. Tumahnr Satin called after the defiant delegate, “Eema, do not be unreasonable!”
“Let them go.” Weary of arguments, Sahaan gestured toward Umisra. “Guards of the Protectorate will see the letter is delivered to every home. She cannot spin lies, only bend truths.”
“You discount the power of this manipulation,” Nkot advised him from the end of the table.
The elder Satin looked her over then very polite praised, “you are very well spoken, Ganrosa Raagmin. Your words here today were very influential.”
From his seat at a distance, Sahaan could see the flicker around her eyes, the twitch of muscles, but Nkot inclined her head and remained civil. “Perhaps the Ganroth are not as savage as you supposed. We are well educated in history and philosophy, same as your people. Our culture simply has less tolerance for illusions. Politics are considered dishonest and vulgar. This is something I am struggling to learn since arriving.”
“Then, I must say,” he smiled at her wryly, “you are a very keen study.”
“I do try, Tumahnr.”
Rising to his feet as the others had begun to shuffle out, he reguarded Sahaan. “Do not dismay, young Orahsi. You are doing exceedingly well. The people still like you, in spite of Eema Fehlisan’s crowing. She is a vahahsh.”
Sahaan was a party to Greil’s chastisement. So stoic and silent, he had nearly forgotten she stood behind his chair. The old man only let out a soft cackle and waved a hand at her in dismissal as he made his way out.
“That went well,” Umisra smiled as she turned to face him.
Nkot raised her feet and set them upon the table as she rubbed at one temple. “Were we at different sessions of the Itumrathtan, Umi?”
The woman only chuckled and shook her head. “No one threatened sensure this time, and only one Tumahnr resorted to name calling. Oh, and no one insulted Nkot!”
“Ehn… debateable,” the Ganroth challenged with a grumble.
Sahaan reached over and covered her hand with an encouraging rub. “It was not a disaster. Ensure the letters are distributed and then we will see who reports to Greil. For now, I need to meet with Tumahnr Furl.”
He rose and left, then as was common, Nkot left with Greil to accompany her about her business until she and Umisra were to meet again. Seated at the council table, Umisra leafed through the pages of her ledger and regarded the notes of the meeting and her list of tasks to be done. A soft knock drew her attention.
“Pardon me, Tumahnr Effas?” A young scout stepped in with a leather scroll case over his arm. As she looked up with a hum, he extended it toward her. “This arrived for the Venerate, but he was in a meeting. I was told to bring it to you.”
“Yes, thank you.” She smiled and accepted the case. Uncapping it, she slid the parchments out then set the barrel upon the table. The papers smelled of leather and rose oils. Odd combination for official documents. Unrolling the papers more fully, she smoothed them down onto her ledger so she might read them. The finely inked letters were written in Etharhia. The Avali Venerate perhaps had sent word to influence their decision. This was painfully disspelled the moment she began to read.
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