Trial by Fire

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The Cacophony in the Council

In the large assembly-room of the Circle stood a silent cloaked being surrounded by hundreds of curious Erodeseans. Heaven’s Roost was a grand structure constructed by the first Erodeseans. It’s evolution followed as the population exploded into the millions. It was made into a place of law to loosely govern the tribes and preserve peace, a court of the mighty Circle for important cases, and the place where inductions into their elite ranks would be held every year.

Today was a monthly assembly meeting where all members were in attendance. Before the sudden appearance of the mysterious stranger, everything had seemed normal. Assembly members had quietly made their way to their seats mostly ignoring the silent figure. The individual was disconcerting but had not yet alarmed anyone.

Every single one of the members of the Circle were masters of their craft, and even better politicians. Most were scholars and philosophers of some sort, some spies in faraway colonies of humans, others powerful manipulators of nature, and a few masters of arms and combat. Though, none of them… save perhaps the likes of one were ready for what came next.

Sunlight wreathed the lone figure in the center of the room as if called down by some divine being. It was unrecognizable, the heaps of tattered clothing blocked any way of conceiving if it was Human, Erodesean, or other. The silence was deafening, seemingly consuming the very energy in the room, until finally, one male Erodesean stood up, walked down the lines of seats and down the walkway towards the figure.

It was Cassius, one of the oldest members of the council who was highly regarded as one of the greatest nature manipulators to ever live. Though there isn’t any official leader of the Circle Cassius’s word reigns supreme.

Cassius stopped three paces short of the hooded figure, and in a runty voice that screeched across the chamber said “For ill, or worse?”

The cloaked figure seemed to raise it’s head in response to Cassius’s inquiry. Slowly, the area around the figure started to blacken and a low pitched cackle could be heard coming from it’s hood.

Cassius wasted no time and drew the alarm.

“Close the room! Do it now!”

Doors tens of meters thick closed with a bang. Cassius channeled his energy, so unrivaled was his power that none in the chamber dared interfere. In a blink, the hooded figure was quashed by massive tendrils, sap oozed from every direction.

The black energy had stopped and the threat seemed to have been thwarted. Though, Cassius gravely looked about the room. Some members of the Circle were missing.

“A distraction. Count the absences Yule, we will undoubtedly be missing a few members.”

As the female Erodesean finished her count almost a fifth of the members had seemingly vanished. A crack in the massive doors of the chamber was clearly visible as light leaked into the room.

Chaos enveloped the assembly as members openly argued with one another. Some were scared, a few silent, others yelling I-told-you-sos with all their might. With worry on his face, Cassius stepped into the center light beside the now mangled interloper. He erected a lectern out of the vegetation and addressed the remainder of the Circle.

“Silence!” He yelled as his piercing voice scraped across every inch of the room. Everyone moved quickly to their seats and locked their eyes to the center.

“Mark, that here today in our history, we shall be tested. It will not be foreign invasion, nor plague. It is a lie, and it is truth. We have long persecuted and sought to drive out the evil that comes from our tainted sap. There is a sickness, endemic among our people. It is the greatest secret that we hold within the Circle, the unenviable truth of our existence, and the most callous of lies we have pressed on our people.”

Cassius, with determination on his face, and confidence in his tone yelled.

“We know what this means! The time of shadow warfare is over. Rally your tribes… we fight because of the truth, because we could not preserve the lie. They will not show us mercy, and shouldn’t- we know what they are.”

“I will call an emergency vote. All in opposition please state your case now.”

There was silence. Cassius looked sternly at the remaining members of the congregation.

“Very well. For those who are not in favor of war, there will be no retribution from this congress, nor ostracization. We all know of the risks, your people are at the mercy of your governance.”

“Those in favor, display a green sigil. Those against, display red.”

The votes were cast in minutes. All totaled, there were 352 green sigils, and only 29 red.

“Those in favor, mobilize the tribes. Those against, pray to the Great Tree for your safety. Those who shack with the enemy, are the enemy.”

“Council Dismissed!”

As Cassius shouted the last words the remaining members of the Circle worriedly stood and prepared to exit the assembly. As soon as the doors opened, they rushed out with haste.

Unlike others who moved to inform their populace of the ill tidings, Tulip had no such obligations. In time of emergency, her role was for damage mitigation within Osk University, but in this time of need she would be nowhere to be found. Instead, she’d made a beeline for her house, hoping that the violence and paranoia that would envelop Eromosa wouldn’t mean she is too late.

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