Late again, huh? Well, I've some great news for you: Mid-terms are *finally* over! I can now get back on schedule with you :) I waited a bit so I could give your stories the attention they deserve and deliver some useful redlines. I hope I succeeded and well, I'm now rested and ready to keep reading/commenting, so keep your stories coming. Needless to say, I'm in love with all of them. Here's my fragment, I hope you enjoy it.
If there had ever been a place Regelial could not stand, it was the Senate’s Tower. Endless quibbling and pointless arguing. However, Senator Renisel, the Duke of Albeá, had called for a meeting in spite of the hour. Secrets have the most unpleasant way of revealing themselves, Regelial thought as the interrogation went on.
The Chamber of Parliament had a semi-circular form with windows as tall as five men along the perimeter, elegantly draped with purple curtains and a translucent crystal dome on the ceiling to allow the entrance of a faint white light. The three hundred twenty-one Imperial Senators were directly seated in a number of rows in front of the main doors; they accessed their seats from an entrance at the back of the room. The podium, where the sovereigns and the governors commonly stood was located in the middle of the grand room; an elevated platform from where the most important commands had been issued.
Once, not so long ago.
Somehow, word had reached Renisel’s ears about the situation at Gamalarn before Regelial was informed, and the Senator wasn’t pleased. A lifelike projection of Marasia stood at the centre, bravely facing the Senators’ enquiry. They were trying to break her, but she endured, always looking at them in the eye. Hers was a strong spirit. As unflinching as she was meant to be, he told himself, racing his eyes from Marasia to his wife.
“And how, exactly, did you let this happen, High Seraf-Magister?” asked Senator Renisel with a booming voice that was hard to believe came from such a frail-looking body. A tall man who supported himself on a strong oak cane, with white hair and a short beard barely concealing a scar that ran on his left side from his jaw up to the temple. Despite wearing silk robes, he wore fewer ornaments than the rest of the Senators.
Some things never change.
“What happened was beyond my control, Your Lordship,” Marasia countered “It was unpredictable.”
“Will you now deny your responsibility?”
“I did nothing.”
“That is exactly the problem.” Another Senator stood up. Calyeri, Duke of Aneós. He had long, brown hair and was dressed in some clear yet heavily ornamented blue robes, carrying a cane as well, though he didn’t use it for support. “Had you served your purpose, one of Gamalarn’s armies would not be marching southwards as we speak.”
“The soldiers have not yet left Sethides.”
“But they will soon enough. Gamar are not known for their patience,” Senator Calyeri spoke.
“But Cratarean’s are. Gamalarn will never strike unless it’s backed-up by the Republic of Cratarea.”
“Stalling an unavoidable war.”
“I did try to prevent this.”
“But you did not try hard enough.”
“You have caused our peace to be broken,” Renisel continued. “A peace many irreplaceable people gave their lives for.”
“I have done more to uphold our laws and maintain peace than all of you put together. If half of you listened and acted almost as well as you talk, none of this would be happening, Your Lordships.”
The Senators were outraged at her defiant attitude; bellowing almost in unison. However, Regelial could not help but smile. These men weren’t used to being challenged like that. They thought her young and inexperienced, but there is far more to her than meets the eye.
Senator Renisel raised his hand and the Chamber fell silent. “You may outrank us as Seraf and Archduchess, but it would be wise to watch your tongue. I would not count on Regelial standing-up for you after you failed him. Choose whom to rely on better, Seraf Marasia, or make the same mistake I did,” he said, running his index finger across the scar on his face.
“A hundred-year old grudge that has perverted your purpose, Renisel,” Regelial spoke, taking a pair of steps to the front. “You know Marasia’s words to be true. You have grown blind and deaf to the needs of your people. The people Apostle Adirsa, your wife, died for.”
“How dare you speak her name after what you did?”
“I name her because I have remained faithful to her memory.”
“So have I.”
“And yet you would sit here while Gamalarn burns Sylenvia to the ground,” he glanced at King Caylsig through the corner of his eyes; pale and silent. Even ghosts have their uses. “If you really want to respect Adirsa’s memory, then you should authorise me to mobilise the army to protect Sylenvia.”
“This matter was settled months ago, Regelial,” said Renisel. “Whatever the outcome, we both agreed we are not to take sides. It is not our responsibility to clean this man’s mess.”
“My kingdom needs the help of the Empire if it is to survive,” Caylsig finally pleaded. “Surely you can’t be as cruel as to let your own brothers die while you do nothing but watch can you?”
“If that will ensure the perpetuity of the Empire, then we have no other option. Our duty as Senators is to protect the people and sovereignty of the Holy Laégelian Empire, even if we have to stain our hands with Sylen blood.”
“You humans can be so pathetic, Renisel. Power gives you a false sense of courage and wisdom; but they’re easily shattered by a greater power.”
“Do not forget you are human as well, Your Majesty,” affirmed Senator Calyeri. “You, too, must bend your knee to powers higher than your own.”
“Which only the Apostle commands, Duke Aneós. I am still waiting for an answer, Renisel,” he spoke before Senator Calyeri could utter another word. “Will the Senate authorise the full mobilisation of the Imperial Armed Forces in response to the potential threat posed to the Empire by the Gamalarn Nation?”
The Chamber fell silent after a while. Then, silence gave way to whispers. Ceaseless, annoying hissing. Three hundred twenty-one voices and yet there was only one mind; the only one who endangered his plans. First his pupil and now his opponent.
“Unless an attack befalls imperial territory first, the Empire will not play an active role in this conflict,” Renisel declared.
“Is that the will of the Senate?” Regelial asked. Three hundred twenty ayes followed in quick response. Just as I expected. “Then I shall abide by your rule.” For now.
“And you,” Senator Calyeri pointed his finger at Marasia, “do not think yourself above out judgment. We don’t care whether you are the High Seraf-Magister or the Emperor’s preferred tool, henceforth, you shall answer to us as well or we shall deprive you of your title.”
“You can’t do that,” Marasia replied, losing the temperance she had managed to keep until now.
“I’m afraid they can,” Regelial declared. They could do as they pleased for as long as he had to answer to them; for as long as Renisel could keep his leash on him.
“Do not test the limits of our patience,” Calyeri spoke with an authority resembling Renisel’s.