Armaro was running late... again. He despised the first day of every month; council meeting day. Being the head of the clan had its perks but most of it was drab. Paperwork, policy making and house calls: the things he disliked giving his warrior background. But it was his sworn duty. Section Three of the Sujima Clan Code states: “The bearer of the power of Gravos (gravity) must become the head of the clan.” Armaro had no choice.
He ran full sprint through the town square, preventing him from taking in the sights, sounds and smells of Sirius’ major market. Another late and he would be fined. Then Katherine would find out. Another scolding after this morning’s debacle meant couch time. His mind wandered to the fight between his sons. Shinto weighed on his mind. He wouldn't take his defeat well. Hiko had grown so much without him. He pomised himself to talk to them when he got home: to Hiko about his improvement; to Shinto for encouragement.
He chipped up the stairs to the Council Hall. “Good Morning Marin!” he shouted as he ran through the door. “Morning sir!” Marin replied. “They’re not upstairs yet. You better hurry!”
“Thanks!” ‘Good. I still have time” He thought to himself. He used his power to push himself into the air and over the balcony. He ran to the end of the hall and opened the door to the meeting hall. The décor was plain and business like, fitting the drab boring meetings held within it. He sat in his usual seat, facing the singular window opposite the door. The view of the market brightened the worst meetings.
The door creaked open. A tall woman entered the room. She had jet black hair that fell to her waist. She was attractive to the eye and ample in most places men would look. “Well, look who’s early.” Shirel said surprised. “I’m sad that I didn’t see you walk in late like always.”
“I told you ogling a married man is dangerous to your health. Katherine isn’t a slouch.” Armaro replied.
“I’d gladly take her on for piece of that…”
“Down Shirel” Degen spoke. Always the one for pomp and ceremony he came in full clan regalia, although his greying hair peeked frombeneath his golden crown.
“Doesn’t it get heavy?” Armaro remarked.
“I can see you are not in the mood for the serious business of the day.” Degen replied.
Sumai Suzaku entered; his burly physique overshadowed his bald head shining in the late morning sunlight. He still wore his training uniform as he left practice at his clan's main martial arts school to come. It was more important to him than the petty meetings of the council. Out of everyone on the council, Sumai's views lined up with his the most. It helped that Hiko and Sumai’s son Uraki were best friends.
Maril walked in next, his shriveled hand gripping his cane. “Good morning, Maril" everyone said. He was revered as the sage of the group and having sat through hundreds of council meetings over two generations. It was deserved. “Good morning." he replied
Lucien, head of the Baku clan arrived next, his long white hair dancing as he glided into the room. He greeted everyone with a wave of his hand before sitting. He was far too posh for anyone’s liking. Lilith was the last to arrive, flanked by her husband to be, Mathieu. It still puzzled everyone why she would choose such a low ranked assassin to be her husband. Ever the pervert Shirel surmised it had something to do with something they could not see. Armaro preferred to leave the unknown to itself.
"It looks like we are all here, even you Armaro.” Degen said, taking his seat. “I call this meeting to order. The monotone of Degen's voice lulled Armaro into a daydream.
"Armaro. " Shriel's voice brought him back." How are your clan's preparations going for Liberation day? "
" They go as planned. " He replied, clearing his throat. " The floats and choreography for the final dance are proceeding well. All that's left is to set up the exhibition tournament. Do you all have the names of those you wish to participate?"
Each member pushed forward a piece of paper with their chosen candidates. Each clan could nominate four of its brightest fighters for the tournament which over the years had become the main event at the annual celebration.
Liberation day: its true significance had long faded into simple lore. The story had all the ingredients of a masterful fairy tale. Armaro himself had trouble processing its truth.
The story goes that millennia ago, there was a rebellion in the Eternal Realm for the right to rule. Athemos believing that his power had grown to surpass that of Eitheran, creator of the Mortal Plane, gathered his followers to stage a coup. The battle raged for a hundred years, the spilled blood turning the skies of the Mortal plain red. In the final battle, Eitheran proved his might, dispatching Athemos and his followers and casting them from the Eternal Realm forever.
Torn from the only home they knew and promised never ending grandeur, the followers of Athemos turned on each other and him. The scuffle was short. The victors abandoned the surviving dissenters on Sirius, leaving to create a realm of their own, Shoela (underworld).
Trapped between the domains of their brethren, they had no choice but to survive among those they had ruled over. As time passed, their hearts softened to their former subjects. Relationships blossomed siring the first Semshi (half breeds) . All of Sirius descended from them.
"When will you have the brackets up by? " Degen's voice roused Armaro from his daydream.
" I'll have them done by tomorrow. " He replied shaking the sleep from his eyes.
The meeting continued in its usual dreary fashion, Armaro fighting sleep with each boring topic until Maril spoke.
" This is the tenth year. Who amongst us shall be the in the three to boost the seal? "
They looked around at each other. Besides Maril and Degen, none of the others had been on the council long enough to perform the ritual.
" Degen and I will not be around forever. Some of you will have to learn. " Maril's voice was stern.
" I'll go. " Sumai said raising his hand.
" Me too. " Shriel waved. " Sounds like fun. "
" Good. I'll give you the tomes tomorrow. You have reading to do. "
" With that business completed, I adjourn this meeting of the council. " Degen said as he hit his mace on the floor. They filed out one by one each talking to one another about tedious ceremony of leadership. Armaro remained seated, his mind far away.
" In dreamland again? " Sumai said, tapping him on the shoulder.
" I guess. " Armor replied. He stretched, hoping his fatigue would leave him. It increased, much to his dismay. " Do you ever wonder about the legends Sumai?
"It's not a legend. "
" I know but it was so long ago. I guess knowing peace has made us soft huh? "
" I guess. " Sumai said reaching his hand out to his friend." Most of the children just take it as a day of fun. The solemn sacrifice of the Great Eight is lost to this generation. "
Armaro took his hand with a smile. " Maybe our kids can change that. "
"So how about lunch. Morning practice has me starving. "
They laughed together.