“I know that this must be hard to hear, my lady but we will do everything that we can in order to aid Lighthouse Bay in this trying time. I promise you, all that can be done will be done,” said Abbot Torrance with a tone that was somewhere between obliviously optimistic and repulsively patronizing.
Saria felt her face flush with anger at the old man’s dismissive attitude. She was wracked with the urges to do all manner of violent unladylike things to the ranking Vermillion Councilman but she gave no outward tells of the ill will she bore the man. A gentle squeeze of her hand from Noah Redmoon helped to temper the spite that was festering inside of her. Saria glanced at her trusted companion to her side and smiled at Noah with her eyes before turning a more even and rational focus back to Abbot Torrance. “My apologies, your grace but I very much doubt that you know the how hard this is for me right now,” Saria said with a voice as calm as the tide on a windless summer’s day.
“My lady, I think that there is no call to be overly dramatic about the course of nature…” started the Councilman but het was cut off by the quietly powerful words of the Lighthouse Bay woman.
“I would hardly call news of a storm that has torn asunder all I have ever known of home and family the course of nature. The harbors and walls of my guardian’s city have weathered the mightiest storms that Argaia has conjured up for generations. Word that a squall has come out of nowhere and cut a swath from the outermost seal wall all the way to the docks below Guideman Manor’s beacon is nothing but cause for great alarm,” Saria said with a firm tone while daintily folding her hands in her lap and resuming a delicate refined posture worthy of immortalization by a master portrait painter. Saria did not avert her gaze from the Councilman’s tied eyes and sagging jowls but she could feel Noah grinning his dark wolf’s grin next to her.
The Abbot gave a deep exhale and licked his cracked lips as he visibly contemplated his response. After a few brief moments of silence he offered his response with a tone that was far less inadvertently condescending than his previous demeanor. “I certainly do not mean to diminish what you are experiencing right now. My point is that it was a storm and not a chimera attack that has come down upon your homeland.”
Before Saira could offer a response to the elder man’s statement the impossibly roguish melody of Noah’s voice rushed in to fill the empty space. “I would not be so presumptuous as to discount the chimera for having part in this disaster. Most are simple beasts with more brawn than reason but others, in the deep of the wilds are creatures of cunning. I would think it unwise to call this the course of nature. As Lady Guideman stated, Lighthouse Bay has endured the course of nature for ages. There may be more to this than we are aware.”
The Abbot’s face contorted in the unmistakable signs of frustration. He bit back a quick and raw response as he formed a calculated retort. “I am well aware that we are ill aware of the exact cause of this event. By the Founder’s mercy the reports of those wounded and injured in the storm are few in number that is nothing short of miraculous. With that said however, the damage to Lighthouse Bay’s defenses is considerable. Whether the chimera played a role in this is far less relevant than the fact they will inevitably sense an opportunity for attack sooner rather than later. The Council’s first priority is to see that our brethren and neighbors to the west have their defenses restored as swiftly as possible,” said the Abbot as he paced to and fro behind his seat at the large round table in the center of the Grand Council Chamber.
“That is certainly something I think we can all agree upon,” Saira said with ringing endorsement in her celestial voice.
“Indeed,” echoed Noah with a pitch that flawlessly harmonized with Saria’s. “What does the Council plan to do about the efforts to aid and repair?” he continued with a healthy dose of honest curiosity laden in his voice.
“Every carpenter, mason, engineer and other tradesmen that Viros can spare will be dispatched to Lighthouse Bay within a fortnight, under increased Amurai escort of course. Fortunately our sister city is stocked with every manor of building material in abundant amounts so the repair efforts are really an only an issue of getting as many capable hands and strong backs there as soon as possible,” said Abbot Torrance with a confident and assured air about himself. He stopped his pacing and slowly slid his aching aged bones into the comfort of his chair at the council table.
“A fortnight is impressive to ready a movement of this size but I can leave before the rest of the pledged men. I would like to return home and offer my assistance in the rebuilding efforts as soon as possible. I can be ready to depart first thing in the morning,” Saria said with a softness in her words. She projected strength but she was not able to fully conceal the apprehension she felt. She wore the tragedy that had stuck her childhood home like an old war wound.
“Ah, Lady Guidman. You bring me to the other half of why I have summoned you here at this late hour,” started the Abbot with a telltale measure of regret in his speech.
As the elder Councilman paused Saria jumped on the silence like a Gobi desert lioness pouncing on a gazelle. “What more could there possibly be. Is there some other great disaster that has befallen my home?” she pressed with a polite strength.
“No the storm is the heart of the tragedy but I must tell you that you are to remain here in Viros while support is lent to Lighthouse Bay,” said the Abbot with a sheepish downward glance that gave away his lack of confidence in the decision.
“Unacceptable!” Noah exploded indignantly as he sprang out of his chair. Before he could set into the Abbot with a verbal tongue lashing he was quieted by the touch of Saria’s hand on his forearm. Noah retook his seat but cast killing looks at the man dressed in red.
“I beg your pardon your Grace but I feel you best offer an explanation for this decision. I am sure you can appreciate my reluctance to sit here doing precious little of merit while my loved ones are surrounded by ruins and put to the mercy of the chimera,” Saria said with a cold heartless voice that pierced like a flight of arrows raining down on unarmored fighting men.
“Your response is precisely the reason the Council will keep you here in Viros. While your power is formidable and would undoubtedly be of use, your history and emotional ties to Lighthouse Bay would surely be a hindrance to the cause. Men who are detached form the native people of your homeland are the best medicine for it right now.
Saria sat with a hand covering her mouth like her breath had been stolen from her lungs. Her shoulders were trembling and it looked as though she might burst into tears at any moment.
“As absurd as your reasoning may be surely you can not deny that those like use would be able to offer the repair efforts an immense boon. Either one of us could accomplish in a day what it would take a score of tradesmen ten times as long,” responded Noah with burning rebellion in his words.
“I will not deny that your kind would do much for what is needed…” started the Abbot but his voice was swallowed by the all-consuming sound of Moses Redmoon.
“And that is why our dear sister and I will be going with the men the Council is sending to Lighthouse Bay,” said Moses as he and Ester took shape from the shadowy haze that dwindled in the Grand Council Chamber’s fireplace.
“You can stay here and keep yourself thoroughly distracted with you latest dalliance. I am sure that a shoulder to weep upon will be most welcome for Lady Guideman in the days to come,” Ester said with a vile mocking quality that dripped from her lips like a pit viper’s venom.
Saria felt like a hot knife had just been plunged into her heart. The room was filled with nothing but hateful blades of neglect and malice. “As the Council commands, your Grace,” she said while hurriedly rising and leaving the Grand Council Chambers before the tears in her eyes could streak her cheeks and offer a measure of satisfaction to Ester.
“You wicked hag,” Noah spat at his sister. He rose and went after Saria leaving his siblings to rot in their brooding and sinister vanity.
“Saria! Lady Guideman!” Noah called after the Lighthouse Bay woman as he chased her all the way back to her quarters. During her flight from the Grand Council Chambers she never once acknowledged his presence. Noah’s pursuit of Saira was ended with the shutting of her heavy bedchamber door in his face. “Please, I beg of you, speak to me. Please, Saria, open the door,” Noah pleaded with a newfound chivalrous passion in his words that was in direct contrast to his usual breed of pomp and circumstance. The sound of muffled weeping was the only response that came from Saria’s room. She cried helplessly long into the night and Noah could do nothing to console her despite his persistent efforts to engage her in conversation. The man shared in her grief by standing vigilantly outside of her door until the sound of her crying ceased and there was nothing in the barracks corridors save for the darkness and shadows with which Noah was so well acquainted.