7 Chapter 9
When I stepped into the council's meeting hall, voices erupted around me. All eight council members sat at the circular table with one seat open. Currently, Yani was having a verbal clash with Torbin, while Leif was trying to speak over her. I quietly moved to the empty seat, giving Maia a small smile.
"I understand what your point is Leif, but if we let them in our perimeter is at risk. I will have to employ double the scouts to make sure none of the Razers leave. That would overwork the scouts, which will lead to a decrease in their concentration!"
"Yani, I understand your concern. But Leif makes a good point. We could use help the allies when, not if, but when we are discovered."
"Exactly," exclaimed Leif, "We could even put some of their people to work. You've seen the warriors we caught. Even I can feel the power of their abilities, they would be a major asset. Listen to reason Yani."
"Yes, they are powerful, but their power should be seen as a threat NOT as an asset. And-"
"Well, why don't we ask Mael?" Torbin suggested.
All eyes turned towards me, and Leif and Yani smiled widely at the mention of my name. I inwardly groaned; apparently, they BOTH expected me to side with them.
I shot death glares at Torbin, he knows how much I hate being involved in Tribal affairs. I'm not a member of this council and never will be. I'm not even one of their own, just a criminal who done one good thing and delivered one the tribes missing children. I don't know why they keep insisting on my involvement.
Stretching my arms, I tried to think of diverting the attention away from me.
"You know as well as I do Torbin that I'm not a council member. It's not within my rights, as a non-council member and outsider, to share my opinion at these meetings. That's why I keep telling you to start casting votes for your ninth member…" I drawled.
"Yes, yes, I am well aware of this argument, and as I have stated many times, it is not time. But, as an outsider and the only person we know that has spent time with these people, your expertise is valuable. Now please, your thoughts," he said with a smirk.
"Fine," I sighed,
"Yani is right that they are a threat to our safety. Their warriors are, and from what I have been able to glean from their Warlord and his Commanders they are also very sly. They even give me a cause to worry, if I had met them when I was a Ranger I would have placed them on the watch list sent out to the entire empire. So, if we allow them refuge, we would be putting our own security and secrecy at risk."
"But-" sputtered Leif. I cut him off with my hand.
"However, as Leif pointed out, their strength can also add to our defense. And from what I've seen the last few times I've left the Empress is amping up her search for rebels and children, specifically those with the gift of essence."
Although not new, this sent all of the council members into alertness. With the most number of essence users in the entire empires, their children were the most vulnerable. The Empresses armies took every essence child, even if they are not part of the quarterly tribute.
"What do you suggest?" asked Amina.
"Well, we can't give them free reign like Leif suggests, but we would be fools to not use their abilities to our advantage. I would suggest allowing them to stay but under strict rules and guidelines. And as they integrate with us and earn our trust we give them back more freedom."
The council sat quietly as they thought, Otis and Yani nodding their heads in agreement.
"That sounds good to me, let's put this to a vote. Since we are still missing our ninth, Mael will you please vote instead?"
I reluctantly agreed.
"Marvelous! Those in favor of Mael's suggestion place your ring in the cup."
All eight council members and Mael placed their Totem rings into the ceremonial cup.
"The council has voted, and so it shall be. I Yani, Otis and MAel I leave you in charge of the rules for the Razers."
Before I could protest, Torbin added,
"As a consultant of course." He smiled and then proceeded to leave the hall.
Oryn (Kian, Thalia, Oryn, Enzo, Suri, and Torr )
"Explain to me again why we're not trying to get out of here?" whispered Thalia.
"Because they may be inviting us to stay. If they do, we have a safe place for our people to stay and we can learn from these people what is going on in these lands. The politics, trades, armies, and more. Then when we decide to finally reveal ourselves, we will be much more prepared."
"And what if they decide that we're too much of a risk?"
"Thane it's better if all our people are here. They know where we are camped. If we escape, they will most likely reach our people sooner than us because they know the jungle better and then massacre them all. If we stay here and they decide to kill us, we at least have a fighting chance. And then is we win, we have this place to keep us safe while we prepare."
Enzo, Suri, and Torr nodded their heads in amazement. I inwardly chuckled at their apparent worship and allowed it to flame my ego. It was always good to have warriors who thought you were the Great SKy's himself, then they would never waver in their loyalty to you. It didn't hurt in building your own self-confidence.
Thalia wasn't eyeing me the same blind worship, and that is why I picked her as one of my commanders. She was loyal enough to stand by me in all decisions but smart enough to voice concern. She always analyzed every situation and the consequences. Although she doesn't possess the ability of mind, her uncanny way of thinking made her one of my best strategists. Even, her sex did not dampen her capabilities. If one of our clansmen tried to treat her as an ordinary clan woman, they would regret their mistake when her knife left a scar.
"I trust your wisdom Warlord. I will think of different exit strategies in case something happens, of course, you understand that your safety is our number one priority. The clans cannot afford to lose you at this time."
I nodded my head in agreement.
For the next hours, we sat and trained in our affinities. I watched Thalia give exercises to the three warriors and occasionally I would give some suggestions. Although my gift was stronger then hers, she was a better teacher. So, I tried not to insert myself too much into her work.
As I was instructing Enzo on distinguishing the different colors he saw with his mind, the door to our cell opened up.
We all stopped what we were doing and turned to the visitors. In walked the small women named Mael, and behind her walked in another female about the same size with a mane of flaming red hair and a fiery smile. She wore leather pants and vest that were embroidered in a vibrant red and black but wore no shoes on her feet. She had a short sword strapped to her hip and multiple throwing knives attached to her thigh. And along her hands and writs were intricate swirls dyed in black. She looked the part of an avenging warrior.
Have they sent her here to execute us?
But, that thought was erased as a man walked in behind her. He was a man shorter than myself but taller than the woman. His brown hair was tied back into a small bun on top of his, and although he was broad, he did not look like a fighter. He wore a bone colored suede shirt and pant set. It was also embroidered on the edges, but with bright blues and greens. He also sported tattoos the same black of the females, but they resided along with his arms. He looked more like one of our traders of artisans, but with much more fine clothes.
He must be a wealthy man to be able to afford such clothes. Only the wealthiest Warlords in Famidun could own such bright colors with their clothes. I had forced our people who had such clothes to sell them a the port before we left Famidun.
The new man and women turned to Mael, waiting for her to speak. I took note of this, reminding myself that only a person in power was ever treated as such.
This female continues to surprise me the more I see her.
"I had already introduced myself to the Warlord last night, but I haven't to you five yet. My names Mael, and I'm an aid to the Minut tribe. I'm sure your Warlord has filled you in."
"Yes he has," quipped Thalia.
"But I still find it hard to believe that your that little slave girl."
The red-head barked out a laugh and slapped Mael on the back.
"Oh, believe it. This shrew is quite the tricky one. But, I would imagine a seasoned warrior like yourself should know never to judge a girl by her cover."
I could feel the waves of irritation coming off of Thalia, but she kept her mouth shut. She knew it wouldn't do us any good to antagonize our captors.
"Point taken, we should have known better. And our oversight proved to get us into this very predicament. Well, make sure to never do it again."
The man who came in chuckled at my words,
"I will pay to see the day someone finally gives Mael a taste of her own medicine."
"I'll put money on that wager. The first person to pull one over me I will be your willing Gardner for a month."
"I will be holding you tot hat girls. And believe me, I put you to work. You are one of the best growers I have seen, and I will use your talent up good. I'll make sure to spread the word and provide a pretty prize to whoever does it."
"And for every obvious failed attempt I get my pick of your jewelry collection." Her eyes sparkled with a greedy gleam.
The two shook hands, and I was beginning to become extremely irritated. Here they were striking up a friendly bet, and our presence was being entirely overlooked. This was something I am not used to and would never tolerate. I was extremely peeved and having a hard time holding in my ire; something, I am not used to.
"As pleasant as this is to watch, we were wondering why you've come to visit?"
Mael's eyes widened as if she had forgotten our very existence. The redhead smirked.
So, their playing power games, showing us who is in charge. I can play their little game, I did it often enough with the previous clan chiefs.
"My bad, you guys had completely slipped my mind. Well,, this morning the Tribes council got together and deliberated what will be done with you and your people."
My jaw tensed in anticipation, but I made sure the rest of my body remained relaxed. Wanting to come across as confident and unconcerned. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw my other companions, but Thalia and Kain, tense up in anticipation.
They need to work on their poker faces.
The redhead spoke up, breaking into my thoughts.
"We have decided to harbor your people in our village."
I nodded my head.
"Under a few conditions: 1. Your people will be placed into jobs with our own people. We will place them positions we fill they are most needed and useful Scouting, gardening, animal caretakers, etc., 2. They will follow our commands. We don't care if someone was ahead carpenter, our head carpenters will be in charge, 3.You will not break any of our laws or customs, even is it is in conflict with your own. If this is done, we will report it to you and expect an appropriate punishment to met out, 4. None of your people will leave the valley unless they are given explicit permission from me or our Chief Torbin, 5. We do not tolerate slaves amongst our people. Any slave will be set freed and allowed to join our people if they want to."
I sat quiet, thinking over her words. I knew that there would be a good chunk of people upset with the power structure and freedom of the slaves, but I couldn't be to upset with their conditions. They were more than, and I would have done the same in our place. It would take a lot of management on the commanders part, but it could work.
Looking back at the red-head I asked,
"And if we don't comply with these conditions."
The red-heads eyes hardened as she took a step forward.
"Then we will kill you, your companions, and your people. We will take the slaves, women, and children into our own tribe. We are an understanding people, but just like you, our protection is at the top of our priorities, and I will not allow anyone to threaten our safety."
"Agree to these conditions, but make a request."
She indicated me to continue.
"I would ask if I could join your council. That way I can have a better understanding of your people, your ways, and then help my own people better adapt to your people and way of life."
The redhead and man looked back at Mael, and she nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders.
Interesting, the Mael female holds some sway. A significant amount if this red-head and man are seeking her approval.
"You can sit in on our meetings, join the conversation, but you hold no sway. You will not vote or be a part of the final decision. Agreed?"
The man's mouth smiled broadly and puffed out his chest.
"Excellent, we will let the rest of our council know. Please pick three of your companions to go with our guides to retrieve your people."
"Kian, Suri, and Torr will go." pointing their way.
"Good, good. And forgive me for forgetting my manners, You've met Mael, but not me and Yani. I am Otis, and I am in charge of all of our goods; food, clothes, furniture, and anything else you can think of."
Point to the red-head he said, "And this is Yani. She is in charge of all matters that pertain to our safety and security. The Warriors, scouts, trainees, etc. Her and Mael will be the two who you will be coordinating with the most while you are here."
Yani face contained a predatory smile, "it will be my utmost pleasure to be working with you Oryn."
Thalia tensed, ready to strike, at the slit of not using my title. I could see the red-head tense in anticipation of a fight, flames already beginning to flicker on her hands in anticipation. I quickly put my hand on Thalia's should, holding her back. She shot me a questioning look from the corner of her eye, and I gave a slight shake of my head. Instantly she backed down, but her white fists betrayed her anger. Although using my name was a show of immense disrespect, we are int heir territory. It would make sense that the female named Yani would assert her dominance by disregarding my title. She was establishing that although I was a leader amongst my people, here I was below her in status and power. And if we started out on bad terms now, she could make our peoples lives very miserable, and that would only end up in breaking their already weak constitution. We needed to be smart about how we interacted with these people before we became established amongst them.
Bowing my head, I said, "Thank you, we are looking forward to working with you as well. Please relay to your Cheif our gratitude for allowing us to settle amongst you."
The man Otis stepped forward and said, "We will make sure to relay your thanks. Those who are leaving to gather your people will follow the rest will come with me, and I will show you where your people will be staying. The area is currently empty, but it will take a good week for your people to arrive, so we should be able to set up a few living and eating quarters while you three wait."
My companions and I stood up and broke up into three groups. Before Kian and the others left I made sure to give him a message to relay to Ryker and make sure that he followed the Minuts. Giving him my token earing as to verify my words.