A Dying God (Book 2)

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Felix- Elders

Phil pulls out my chair at the head of the table and then quickly takes his own seat. The simple action sets me in motion and I come closer, grasping the headrest and looking over my court. The weight of their glares and the acknowledgement of their obvious superiority would weaken me if I let it.

Pulling back my shoulders, I picture Tymician as I speak. I want his confidence to be mine. I want his words to become my own. If I could only be half the man that he is, I will have every right to become what he has willed me to be. “Thank you for coming. Let’s not waste any of our valuable time and get started.”

I look back to Tristan and Eric and motion them to the chairs in the corner. They aren’t allowed to sit at this table nor partake in this meeting at all and I pray they follow this protocol. The Elders will find it humorous that I have Newborns as my servants but anyone older than me and they would consider it insolent.

Etiquette is very delicate and must be followed to the extreme. If I manage to disrespect anyone here, any alliances I wish to make will be forfeited. This is a political battle and my sword is my poise and my words. One slip and they’ll skewer me.

I envy Tymician. He could get away with many imperfections when it came to his court. Little misdeeds like placing his elbows on the table or ignoring eye contact were a common trait of his. He could even interrupt or change subjects at will. Being a Transcending Erelim allowed him such prilageages.

I will not receive any leeway. Every word that springs forth will have an impact on my future standings in Kio. Every movement will be watched and weighed.

They have situated themselves by age. One my left and right are the two oldest of my clan and it only descends from there. I had wondered how they were going to do this because there is one slight problem. My mightiest Elder is not my oldest.

A Soul is a single Light and as it ages, it gains in its strength. However, Seers have two combined Souls. One Light donated from another. As such, both Souls gain strength over the same amount of time. Doubling the years.

Jorel is seven thousand years old but he has gained someone’s Light, and thus, he is on the verge of becoming an Erelim. He is a hundred and twelve years away technically but divide that by two (his dual Souls) and he has fifty-six years until he will be the sixth Erelim on the planet. It’s a scary thought to imagine because Jorel is an unknowable force.

He sits seven chairs down on my left, resting back peacefully, and his fingers clasped in his lap. He appears asleep. He wears a dirty white tank top, which exposes the frailness of his thin arms; arms that have malicious tattoos: demons and devils crawling over screaming women and children. Snakes crawl up his long neck.

He is a sickly looking man. Dark shadows encompass his eyes and his cheeks sink in. He’s a shaved head but an inch of hair sticks out over his scalp. Surprisingly, there aren’t any piercings.

Jorel is no house leader but he follows the rule of Hamilton who runs a family in Vancouver. He is a potential risk in overthrowing my station not because of his own desire but because of Hamilton’s.

I’m thankful Hamilton is not here. Only lowly servants are allowed to be in the room and they line the wall, quiet and reserved.

“If you ain’t gonna start,” Attentions draws to the end of the elongated table. A scarcely dressed woman stands at the edge, holding a glass of scotch in her hand. Elisa greets me with a broad smile, lipstick fading on her face while mascara runs on her eyelashes, “If you gonna lead us, then do it.” She points to the rest of the court, her bounteous breasts lurching with each sudden movement of her arms. “We ain’t that scary. We need direction. There’s a war comin’ and we gotta fight.” She salutes with her drink and then drowns it.

On my right, Abida is the first to respond, “Sit down,” She demands. “You defile our name, you ghastly harlot.”

Abida is my oldest Fallen. She is an eight thousand, four hundred years old, a Pakistani, dressed properly in a silk shalwar kameez with elaborate jewels stitched into its fabric. She covers her entire form, leaving only her eyes. Those eyes, however, are anything but sociable.

She is the house leader in Multan and has twenty-three people living under her but what I’m not supposed to know is that eight of the Elders here desire her to be ruler of Kio.

Elisa, is the youngest and newest Elder, and obeys her superior with an inappropriate giggle. She flops in her seat, propping her feet up on the edge of the table and holding out her glass. A servant quickly comes to fill it.

It’s good to see that at least one Elder here hasn’t allowed their ego to destroy their humor. I think I might be able to make a friend out of her.

Across from Elisa, Reynolds stands, bowing. “Monsieur, it is an honor to meet with you again.”

Reynolds may be young, but his influence is broad. He is a writer of history and has several friends amongst this court and outside of it. His knowledge in Kio’s origin is vast and can be very useful if used correctly. Tymician and he were very close. If he and I could become comrades as well, I would have the backing of half my clan.

“The honor is mine.”

“Un instant, s’il vous plaît.” He steps out of his chair and I observe his lean figure with a bit of jealousy. He has a picturesque physique, one a being like myself would envy. On top of that, he’s French. He must get all the girls.

“We convene today despite our many tribulations. There is constant disruption with the Darkness and if it is not one thing tis another. I have been a house leader for two thousand years. Tymician chose me for Marseille before humans named it. It was an honor. It is still today. But I struggled. I lost combats. I lost Souls. The Darkness is a bitter adversaire. There came a time where I thought of giving up. Tymcian refused such a thing.” He smiles as he recalls the fond memory. “ ‘You are a leader.’ He says to me, ‘Surrender is no longer an option.’ I remember it vividly.”

I bow my head. I know where this is going and I don’t like it.

“We cannot afford a moment of weakness. I do not believe you incapable, monsieur. Perhaps one day, you will be a perfect coureur de tête but you are not fit for what Kio needs now. It needs someone who has already experienced its moments of failure and will not succumb to them again.”

The Elders clap lightly, respectfully as he sits back down.

So this is what I’ve come here for? They are going to make speech after speech of how I’m incompetent? I already know that! I’m already aware that I’m not the best man for this job! There are hundreds out there that can do better but that’s not the point. God, these Elders are stubborn creatures.

Misha snaps to her feet and I don’t know if I should be relieved or not. She’s been my friend and role model for the last few hundred years and I’m hoping she is on my side.

“This is not a political campaign. We are not running for office. Felix is the heir to Kio’s throne. You wish to fight it, fine. But do so privately. Throw your tantrum behind the closed doors of your room.”

I do not smile despite my happiness. I should have never doubted her.

“You waste our time by ordering this conference. I grow weary of your hoary ways. This is the 21st century. Wake up. You are not fit to lead us. None of you are. Felix may not be the best, but amongst this lot, he is whom I chose. But it isn’t a choice!” She barks. “Tymician wrote in his will his heir and that is the final say. So end this charade, it is getting old.” She sits roughly.

Elisa is the only one to clap though carelessly.

Abida interrupts, nipping, “You grow weary of us, madam? Perhaps you need a new occupation because your job requires your avid attention and you cannot grow weary. Where were you when Veronica took it upon herself to assault Isis?”

Misha remains silent but refuses to look away.

“Had you been doing your job, you would have been soothing the qualms between Morgantown and the NYC. Isis immures one of our Elders in her prison and will, no doubt insist on retribution. Do you worry yourself with such a burden? No, instead, you waste your time partitioning for this adolescent. What does it mean to you if he should remain in his seat? What purpose does his role play?”

Misha smirks. “My will should be easy to see, Abida. I desire neither you nor Jorel to sit on Kio’s throne. But of course, you fight passionately for it, don’t you?”

The boldness of such a statement is not lost to any of us and I hasten my attention to Abida. Her green eyes narrow dangerously.

“I am aware of what many may not be.” Mischa continues. “The clause in the clan’s final print: if left without an heir, the strongest ranking Elder will be granted its position.”

Jorel seems asleep in the comfort of his chair, disregarding the fact that Misha accuses him as well for trying to assassinate me.

Abida however is far from ignoring it. “What are you insinuating exactly, Misha?”

They have the motive, the money and influence to do it. I mean nothing to either of them. It’s hurtful putting a face to the ones who are trying to kill me. I feel like I’ve been betrayed. I don’t know them very well but they are my clan mates and as such I’ve put a level of trust in them that I wouldn’t have normally. I guess I thought it was Isis trying to get rid of me. Now there is no denying it.

Misha rests comfortably, unperturbed about her candid exclamations. She’s made the implication in front of the entire Elder Court. If anything should happen to me now, the suspicion and blame would fall on Abida. It's great for me but she risks too much.

“I want only to keep him safe.” Misha explains. “The more people that acknowledge him as the leader of Kio, the less chance something will happen to him.”

Abida furiously stands, “I would not put his life in danger. You are very bold to make such rash judgments against me. Do you forget yourself?”

With a casual hand over my mouth, I sneak a glance at Tristan and Eric. They meet my gaze with wide humor shining in theirs. They are too afraid to laugh but the scene is as entertaining to them as it is to me. I was intimidated by Elders for so long. Their power is unfathomable and that makes them a danger but when I separate them from the strength they have gained over an insurmountable amount of years, I see them for who they truly are.

They’re children.

I raised Newborns my whole career. I dealt with tantrums and had to deal with stupid little fights between them. I finally realized what Tymician wanted me to see. They’re teenagers and if there is anything I know how to handle it’s adolescent youths having little fits.

“Do we humor you?”

I snap my gaze back to the table and find their attention has rapidly fallen upon me. I straighten considerably but their ridicule is not over.

“If you have something to say, please enlighten us.”

I swallow needlessly in my sudden panic. “Forgive me,” I quickly state but then I wish I hadn’t. I don’t want to appear weak. “I was thinking of Tymician.

“Believe us,” I meet the eyes of Chus, a German brute that wears thick animal hide over his shoulders, “We all do.” He growls, sneering at me.

Unbuttoning my jacket, I lean up making sure to keep my elbows off the table. “Let us start over.” I motion for Abida to sit. She’s stubborn, keeping a glare in Misha’s direction but thankfully takes her seat and straightens the fabric draped about her face.

“The attack on Erelim Isis is unfortunate but I have means to rectify the situation shortly. Misha and I will do what we can to pacify her upset. What I gathered you all here for is for two specific reasons. You may find it egotistical but please label it as confidence. Tymician trained me and I take heed to every lesson. I am not here to negotiate. I am here to state my claim. I will prove to you in time that I am worthy of your support but until then, simple loyalty will be rewarded.”

Phil stands and from the way he adjusts his glasses I know instantly he is not going to fight for me. That shouldn’t be surprising.

I sit back and give him the floor.

“Felix, you are a good man and exactly the son Tymician would raise. None of us here can question your sense of duty and allegiance to our clan. But understand when I say that Tymician did not finish your education. You aren’t the complete product. Tymician still had thousands of things to teach you and I’m saddened that he hasn’t the chance too because I truly believe you would have been the greatest king Kio had ever seen. Had he been able to finish. But you are child still.”

I shift, keeping my fisting hands under the table.

“The way you act with your subordinates, it is degrading that a man of your station cooks dinner. You are no longer human. Yet you run your house with little authority allowing humans to come and go and now Angels. Are we to ignore it? What is the future of Kio in your hands?”

With earnestness, I reply, “The future is going to be different, of that I can assure you. Tymician desired it and all of his wishes will become real in my reign. Society is changing and we will change with it. Now you bring up my house and how I raise my wards. You wish to criticize me but I want to point out that Tymician raised me so. He wanted this for Kio. If you do not like me, than surely you had a problem with Tymician and then sir, you do not belong in this clan.”

Whispers and quiet sneers pass between but I am strong and unwavering in my chair. I have never been more passionate about my place. I’ve forgotten fear. Now all I have inside me is the desire to embellish Kio with every ideal Tymician left inside me.

Reynolds leans up on the table, “Monsieur, you must understand our situation. You are juvénile. You are ill-informed. You hold the most puissant and vieux clan on this earth in your palm and war approaches. If you will not concede to relinquishing hold on Kio’s trône, perchance, you will pass on its power until you are capable of caring for it properly. A regency council is ideal. The Elders will rule Kio but you will keep your title and be protected well until the time comes where your competences match our requirements.”

I look around the room as others think it over. It isn’t going to happen but I want to see how others respond to him. They eventually nod with approval. I hear Abida in my ear. “I do not like it but I will agree to it during this time of war.”

I feel Misha’s eyes on me. I know she doesn’t want me to take this bargain. It’s just another postponement until they can get a chance to kill me. If I don’t get them to agree to me as their leader today, I won’t survive much longer. There has to be another way.

I stand, slowly gaining their attention. They wish to speak more about the future prospects of power. I will give it to them.

“My lady Abida brings up a very important subject. War. It is coming swiftly and will be upon us sooner than we will be ready for. Twenty-five of you all attempting to run a clan will only lead to disaster. You have different ideals, different perspectives, and there will be no end to discussion on which way is best. I’m sorry. I cannot agree to a Regency for Kio’s benefit.” I step away from the table, keeping their attention by my actions. “I will, however, offer you a solution. What you want is control. You want the feeling that you are doing something for this clan. You’ve lost that since Tymician left. I’m sorry. I’ll do what I can to restore it.” I think quickly for a moment. It’s my safety net, something I’ve been thinking of for a while, back when Tymician was still around. “What of Sovereignty? You will take control over certain areas. Each of you is a governor of your own territory. Not just a house, but several. It will be just for a short time, to begin the preparations for war, each of you will have your own army and will see to its needs.”

I don’t know if this is the smartest idea but it’s the only thing I can think of. “Does that sound alright?”

Abida looks up at me with strange eyes. “Why give us so much power? What makes you think we won’t band against you?”

I look down at her, “I don’t. But I’m trusting you. You love Kio as much as I do, you wouldn’t destroy it.”

Her eyes return to the table. She has thick eye lashes outlined in black chalk. Though it is the only part of her that I can see, I’ve no doubt believing she is beautiful beneath her mask.

“What territories be that?” Chus spits out.

“I will figure it all out within twenty four hours. But it will be divided by age. With over 400 houses, you each should run about ten to fifteen. I will maintain Kio’s throne and I will send orders to you as I receive them. Every week, I want a report on changes and events from each of you. But mostly right now, you are to prepare for war. Start training anyone that can fight.”

The talk is mostly positive with several head nods as they chatter. My muscles are tight. I’m sure I look like a ken doll standing there in this outfit, tight over my chest waiting for their response that will either save me or end me. I have nothing left after this. If they don’t accept me, I will have nothing more to offer them.

Slowly, they concede, one by one it drifts down the line. If my heart could beat, it would be pulsing erratic, like the pounding of a war drum. If I breathed, wild pants would be expanding my chest, exhilarating and adrenaline-charged. Thankfully, I can stand before them firmly and stanch.

Abida, the last to give her word, looks up at me with her manicured fingernails pressed against the silk of her chin. “Unfortunately for you, I am not so easily pleased like the rest of the tittering sheep that lay before you. Do you plan to trade Veronica for that Newborn Angel Tessa you have at your home?”

How does she know I have Tessa in my house?

She doesn’t wait for a response. “If you manage to get all five members retrieved and Isis doesn’t destroyed you in the process, I will consider whether you are a competent king. Be assured however, you will never be my king.” She stands for the first time and looks out to her flock, “I am finished here.”

I tap on the table, unsure if this is a win or if I’m still in danger of losing my life. Her knowledge of my business is shocking but now I know. She has spies and I can only assume they are coming from Phil and his gathering of soldiers. I don’t know what game he is playing. He desired to protect me in the beginning but has he changed his mind and now plots with other Elders?

It’s possible. Either way, I’m done with this false sense of security.

The Elders slowly trickle out of the room. They seem satisfied with this scene. I am even rewarded with a smile or two. It is so obvious though that I am not in charge. Abida is whom they follow. Reynolds is whom they respect. I am an annoying flea, gaining attention by bothering the cats in charge.

Reynolds steps up to me, breaking off my negative thoughts and holds out a friendly hand. It surprises me and the others still lingering. I swiftly take it, grateful for his courage, “Well played, monsieur.”

He is six inches taller than I am and it’s irritating having to look up, “Call me Felix, sir.”

“You did very well, Felix. Impressionnant.” He slaps me on the shoulder attempting to go.

“Sir.” He looks back at me, “I have a job for you, if you’ll take it.” Confusion is vivid on his face. “They listen to you and respect you. It’s why I want you to be part of a private council. Be the Liaison between the Elders and I. They don’t like me too much right now but I feel with your help, our friendship will improve.” The Elders watching whisper into their hands, and I’m curious what they have to say.

To deny my request in front of witnesses would be disrespectful but also ruin the progress I’ve made today. I’ve kind of put him in a corner. He glances around and notices that. His cheek muscles clench, looking down at me.

“Again, well played.” He murmurs before shuffling off.

Tristan and Eric are with me as we go to the limo and they horseplay behind me and I want nothing more than to be caught in the middle of it. I’m proud of myself. I think I actually showed some of that confidence Tymician always talked about.

I’m taken off guard when Misha’s in our vehicle. The driver shuts the door the moment she announces, “Kyla’s been sighted.”

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