Success at Any Cost

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Writers Rift

Chapter 14 (v.1) - Assembly

Submitted: February 08, 2018

Reads: 27

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Submitted: February 08, 2018

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The assembly hall was originally the main vault of the treasury. Normally people who lived in the monolithic black structures of the old city would put paper or plaster over their colorless walls, but the hall was kept exactly as it would have been in the age of the Mage Kings; black walls and black stone shelves that featured red wood benches. It was shaped in a huge rectangle with raised seating on both long sides. Brooke was sitting on a balcony about the seating. Those benches were for any member of the general populace who couldn’t afford a voting seat but still wanted to sit in on the proceedings. The lower levels, that once acted as shelves to display treasure, were now used to seat the general members of the assembly on opposite sides of the room. Anyone who could afford the cost of a seat was entitled to vote, some possessed more than one giving themselves multiple votes. On the floor sat a long bench made of pine, it was made from the mast of the first ship that landed on island during the reconquest. That is where the executive board would end up sitting after their first introductions. The last fixtures of the chamber were squat marble podium sitting in front of two beautiful thrones, one with a jeweled four point star for the Lord Protector and the other with a gilded book representing the tome of the ancestors for the Matriarch of the Church of the Ancestors.

 

Brooke sat down and took the spectacle in. Her intake was quickly interrupted by Adelina sitting down next to her and asking “So what have you learned then.”

 

Brooke leaned back putting her elbows on the next bench row up. “Quite a bit, where should I start?”

 

“Let’s start basic shall we, how is  the power divided up? ”

 

“There are only really three types of person here. The landlords who are still riding off their money from when they ruled the entire country, they strut and dance to remind us all that they mattered. Just on a guess they hope to move us away from the free trade since that’s how the lost all their power in the first place. Other than that I’m sad to say my study time was limited.

 

“Not bad so far. The one thing you need to know to aid our lovely employer is that they really need a proper land war, these trade conflicts we’ve been in have given them nothing.”

 

“But if we were to take over a neighbor, or even better liberate Ork territory and forget to let it go…”

 

Adelina’s eyes raised up in surprise only for a second. “You’ve read them fairly well, let’s find out if we can confirm that suspicion, we could have quite the leg up early in the game. What about the power blocs?”

 

“The next ones on the ladder are the guilds, their the poor and angry. They pool money and buy their way into seats. From what I remember of their campaigns in the slums they want rights for workers and an end to any and all offensive wars.”

 

Adelina nodded happily “Well done, and the last one?”

 

Brooke sat up, “The patricians are the last group they’re the ones who don’t dress like peacocks or pauper. They hold the most power and buy most of the seats alone. Since they hired Prudence they probably support a strong navy to protect their trade interests. Also I couldn’t imagine them supporting any sort of regulation on trade or business.”

 

“I’m thoroughly impressed, really I am. The only thing I can’t quite figure is, how did you know Prudence was appointed by the merchants?”

 

Brooke pointed down to the assembly, “Her husband, your brother Mathias is sitting down there in a well fitted but low key suit. If I was any other faction I wouldn’t be very quick to appoint the wife of my enemy to one of the most powerful positions.” She smirked and turned to Adelina “But that’s just what I would do of course.”

 

“Well said but we have to work on that confidence it won’t hold up all that well in the great game.”

 

Brooke wanted to retort back but she was drowned out by the sound of trumpets announcing the entrance of a short woman with long blonde hair wearing a white robe with red piping. A solemn old man holding a massive book shouted out to the room “Behold the Matriarch of the Ancestors, the one who remembers those who have protected and guided us through the trials of nationhood.” The Matriarch sat down on the chair with the book on it while her attendant stood beside her. The Matriarch waved and the attendant shouted at the top of his lung. “We will now begin the Procession of the Guardians under the watchful eyes of the ancestors.”

 

The executive board walked into the chamber in a single file line and stood in front of the wood bench on alternating sides. The attendant went down the line naming each member of the board.

 

“Chief of the Grand Army Chesney Browley.” A thin man with beady eyes and an ornate red outfit waved and sat down. He slicked what little hair he had left back before folding his arms nodding his head. Several battle scarred assemblymen applauded with furious applause.

 

“ Guardian of the Grand Navy, Prudence Mccavern.” Prudence waved and gave a quick look to Brooke and Adelina before sitting down on her own. The Patricians in the room went wild while most aristocrats made a show of not clapping for her. Brooke took note of the observer from the lobby who was visibly angry at her presence.

 

The attendant continued on announcing a woman in a simple clean black dress, “The Mistress of Foreign Trade, Mavis Stringham.” He moves on to well muscled man with his hair tied into a massive braid filled with jewels and gold, “Regulator of the Treasury Garret Willow.” Next was a short man in a tight olive green suit with a small glowing lapel pin. “Representative for the Magicians Tower, Maximilian van Tresky.”

 

The next down the line was very large man with gray hair and red blotches marking the remains of  mine fungus infection, his threadbare suit was ripped in two places but he still stood like he belonged on that floor. “Defender of interior Security Wilhelm Swain” the guilds applauded happily while everyone else in the room looked on at him confused.

 

The last executive standing a was a Dwarf, normally Dwarves were not permitted to leave their mountain chain unless it was on a mission specified by the queen. Even then they were required to shave their beards and wear specialized masks to protect them from all the diseases that their immune systems avoided in their isolation underground. This particular dwarf had his breathing mask adorned with a fake mustache. “Representative of the Tribes Carriden Sardis” Brooke was shocked not only had the guilds appointed a dwarf as their second executive but they gave him the job that involved speaking for the bulk of the mainland population. Brooke thought it had to be one of the most dangerous moves a faction could undertake.  

 

She tabled her confusion while the first executive, Maximilian van Tresky stood up to make his speech for his candidacy as Lord Protector. The Lord Protector has the power to decide who is allowed to speak on the assembly floor as well as when new seats are sold and to who their sold too. But their most important powers are to declare land wars and to force laws to be ratified without the executives approval. The Lord Protector was elected from the Executives and was still required to protect the interests of their initial office at the start so whoever is chosen also decides what aspect of the country will receive focus for the next two years.

 

Van Tresky’s speech was all about the power of magic and how far the nation can go with the powers of the divine at their hands. Unfortunately as soon as he was done an aristocrat shouted out “He’d have us be slaves to the mages again” this resulted in a chorus of boos from pockets all over the chamber.

 

One by one the executives marched up and delivered speeches some of them fiery some of them meek. Brooke made note of the character of each speaker she wanted to gauge who would require more of her interest than others.

 

The first one was Swain, he lumbered his way up to the podium and very loudly announced. “We are under siege: foreigners, mages,” he paused and stared at the aristocrats in the assembly before stuttering out the , “Ffffucking tyrants! I hope to root out every last threat to our beautiful republic. I implore you all if you want to protect this great nation.” He paused a wiped a line of spit out from his chin. “Then follow me to safety.”

 

The room hung in awkward silence. Brooke wondered what he planned to accomplish by attacking the people who he was supposed to be courting for the election.

 

Carriden the dwarf walked up to the podium amidst the silence, he made a huge show of looking back and forth between the assembly. For the first time he spoke “mmm hmmm grrrh mmmh” the entire room burst into laughter. He pulled his mask off with a huge smile from ear to ear. “Apologies everyone I figured after my colleague’s last speech I could say anything and still perform better than he did.” Again laughter flowed through the room while Swain grunted and slumped down onto the bench. “Now for too long your citizens on the mainland have suffered. They have been laboring under the control of landlords and tyrants. I’ve been living amongst them for years, teaching them dwarfish ways and I can tell you all, there’s so much more to learn, let me teach you humans the right way to govern your commoners before it’s too late.” He lifted his jacket revealing a short sword with a jeweled. The implication was clear, the dwarfs had been in civil war for twenty years now every citizen carried a weapon for fear of enemy attack. The room that was originally laughing and amused by the foreigner was now silent and more than a little nervous at his proposal. He climbed down from the podium and replaced his breathing mask before sitting next to Swain. Chesney Browley rose to speak next but Brooke kept her eyes on Carriden, she noticed him elbow Swain and nod with him. The two had a plan and Brooke believe they were much more calculated than they may have appeared.

 

Browley strode up confidently, his jacket hung off his shoulder by one arm in the style of the light cavalry. At the podium he flicked a small thin braid away from his face, “Ladies and gentlemen, so many people have told you today that they we are under threat, or that our nation is falling apart at the semes. That is wrong! We are strong, we are smart, we are wealth. But we can be stronger, smarter, wealthier, we can be better!” He started pounding on the podium “I will unite us, I will build us up to the highest heights.” The crowd was now pounding their feet against the floor with him. Brooke noticed that Adelina did not participate in the pounding but she remained locked on Browley. Brooke meanwhile scanned the room, the normally stoic man from the entry hall was pounding harder than anyone in the room. Browley stopped all together and allowed the room to continue on without him. He held his arms out by his side as the pounding grew louder and louder. She felt a dull ache and weight around her neck as she had this strange urge to tap along with him. Adelina was already stomping her feet in time with the room when Brooke looked at her again.

 

Browley quickly slashed his arms across the air and and everyone instantly fell silent. “We are a great nation and even greater people but we can be better that is what I can do, I can make our nation better!

 

There was an uproarious applause the aristocrats were on their feet while the guilds and patricians couldn’t help but applaud such a spellbinding performance.

 

He walked down from the podium with the same confidence he had going up to it.

 

Brooke whispered to Adelina “Tonight I need to see his offices.”

 

“Good idea, we’ll discuss how over lunch. Prudence is coming up now”

 

Maccavern walked up with nearly the same confidence and control that Browley possessed, but she didn’t pull anywhere near the attention that he did. Nevertheless she stood at the podium like it was the helm of a ship. “Ladies and gentlemen this island city is our home, it is our castle, it is our heart, but most of all it is ours. More than two hundred years ago the four clans of the mainland united to send their men forward to seek out this island, a place where all good be equal, regardless of birth or ancestors. Those men saw what they needed and claimed it. They took this city street by street, horror by horror, inch by bleeding inch!” Prudence shout and pounded on the podium but quickly brought herself under control.

 

“ When elves sailed from the south aboard cobbled together boats, held together by sinister magic, their prize, their city was threatened. Who came to their aid? Their wives and daughters climbed onto fishing boats armed with farming tools and babes at their breasts. They sailed out in force to fight and die, all to protect the future that their husbands fought for and in return they were made equals given dominion over the seas and a mandate to protect this great nation. When I was given this post I planned to hold that mandate close to my heart. My navy will keep us safe, the money that flows into our ports will keep that dream of equality alive. That is what our history deserves, to make the sacrifices of our mothers and fathers alive! Thank you.” She didn’t wait for an applause, she walked down from the podium as the audience stayed silent, Brooke saw on patrician wipe a tear from his eye and begin to clap slowly and methodically. As the seconds went on the applause spread from person to person until the entire room was practically shaking from the aftermath of her speech. Prudence Maccavern simply sat down and smirked at Chesney Browley.

 


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