With that Germancy inclined his head toward the shocked elves and departed to supervise the packing of his personal property. Later he returned to collect those few precious papers he considered too valuable to trust to his lessors. In his absence Farnam had organized the junior archivists into groups. One set were packing up the remaining papers, the other two, down at mouth and huddling beneath blankets, were copying over notes at a far table.
“Twein and Blait have been chosen to remain, Germancy,” said Farnam. “I have set them to recording six copies of your discussion with Eioth and Federan. I shall arrange for one copy to be sent to Lady Senoia, who I expect will continue to stand with her contaminated grandson out of family loyalty. The remainder will be placed in the hands of the remaining High Lords in the hope they will realize the risk Sex Magic and Light magic poses to the empire, and one held to be given to whoever is chosen to replace Chandri. Surely when they are acquainted with the law suffient number of the High Lords will …”
“Will continue as they are,” said Germancy, sadly. “They have tasted forbidden power and foreign magic it will take many voices raised in outrage to bring them back to the proper path. I shall do my best to recruit strong aid in service of the Empire. Here is the Vote of No Confidence Law as I have remembered it. Have it copied as well.” He stopped again and looked sad. “I realize that many of you are distressed by these actions. You are all advanced enough in your training to have finished reading the first laws. Some of you have gone no further and I pity you, under the circumstances. Your education is therefore obstructed. I think that when you depart here, an elder should go with to tend, guide and continue the education of a younger. This is a difficult time for you all and the empire. With time, and faith in the Elements, all shall be as it was before. I weep for our empire, as do you but it is strong and it will return. I hope to soon stand with you all in the hall of records. Until then, remember your oath and your responsibilities. Remember, the Law is the Empire.”
A cough from the doorway caught Germancy’s attention. A guard bearing the sigil of the High King stepped through and gave a half bow toward Germancy.
“I bear a message from High King Eioth. He desires Germancy attend upon him as soon as may be.”
Silence spread through the room but Germancy was untroubled.
“You have delivered your message.”
The guard bowed and departed.
“I cannot remain,” said Germancy summoning his personal secretary with a flick of his fingers. “You have your orders. Depart by side doors. Attract no attention.”
The other archivists bowed as Germancy hurried from the room. As soon as he was from sight Farnam pointed to one of the waiting archivists.
“You, assist with the copying. The rest of you, pack as much as you can. We leave before nightfall. Hurry, there is much to do.”
Eioth escorted Halidan into the temporary Synod chamber, and all the way to the North West seat where he fussed seeing to her comfort - and making his devotion clear to all witnesses - before turning and glaring about the Synod. None of the gathered High Lords appeared to be exhibiting negative attitudes toward the only mortal to assume a seat in the Synod. It was possible they were all skilled at concealing their thoughts, or they were not involved a in plot to end Halidan’s life. The fact that he did not, could not read their intentions chilled Eioth to the heart.
Federan crossed to stand beside his grandmother’s seat in the True South of the chamber and waited.
The tension in the hall was an almost living thing. None gathered appeared to know where to look and who to address. So much had happened to their comfortable and predictable world that uncertainty reigned where once was certainty. The High Lords were accustomed to considering themselves inviolate but this very morning one of them was sentenced to death and another, admittedly a mortal regent, almost achieved the same fate and was saved by, horror, an unknown mortal magic.
Mitash took advantage of the fact all were staring at the High King to retreat to a comfortable place against the wall. After a moment’s thought he drifted across so that he stood behind the South East throne. It was all to the good that he accustomed himself to regarding the business of the Empire from that view rather than that from behind the High King.
“We represent a quorum,” Eioth declared after he made a show of counting those present and moved to the center of the room while the High Lords and their representatives took their places. The only chair unoccupied was Chandri’s. At some time that morning servants had removed the piles of flowers and other items suggesting that Chandri was mourned, Mitash was relieved to see, then wondered who had shown that initiative. Chandri’s name and memory was now a disgrace and the chair was bare and abandoned.
Eioth sighed then began walking the chamber.
“Earlier this year,” he began conversationally, “acting in my role as High Lord of the North West demesne, I was required to grant responsibility and authority to a family in the North West demesne wherein there was only one person carried within them a bond to the Elements, fire as it happens, and I worried and grieved at the necessity. Wondering how I could include that estate’s magical responsibilities in my own. What could I do, beyond praying that the daughter would marry a man who might engender a child, and that child, decades from now, would manifest a useful level of magical bond?” He met the gaze of all the High Lords in turn. “You, yourselves, have faced that selfsame difficult decision in recent years. We were forced to choose thus as the horrifying awareness that there were not enough magic users of sufficient strength to meet all the demands upon them, in the usual manner of things, descended upon us.” He shook his head as he faced his audience. “Then, three months ago I revealed the secret that would permit magic users to be granted children again.” He nodded to the regent of the North West who inclined her head in response. “A secret discovered for me by Lady Halidan, now Regent for the North West. How we celebrated! How we rejoiced to know that we could restore our numbers. But we celebrated, we rejoiced, too soon. Now. Ah, now, there are no elemental magic users functioning in the empire. None at all. Not ourselves, no the masters who report to us … none at all. All that we have, all that must aid and restore the Empire is sex magic and light magic.”
Eioth waited until the cries of pain, of rejection of this foul, but unsurprising news, filled the area. He scowled at those making these noises. These facts were no longer new news. Weeks, moons passed since the weather magic spells shattered. Their mood should be one of resigned acceptance.