Friday, 9 November 2018

#fridayflash: excerpt from the #nanowrimo WIP

A knock on the door alerted King Samuel that it was time for the scry. He reluctantly kept the bottle back in its place, stood and smoothed down his shirt, then shrugged on his royal robes. He would appear in this kangaroo court in all his regality so they’d remember who he was and what he represented.

The council was already seated when he entered the Council Room. They made to rise, but he gestured at them, signalling them to keep their seats. He took his own seat at the head of the table and nodded at the priest in charge to open the scry.

The High Priest from Suci appeared in the mirror and, to his surprise, the Secretkeeper from Impian. What was she doing there? Where they conspiring against him? He narrowed his eyes at them. Well, if it was going to be a firing squad, at least Tun Ali from Impian wasn’t there. Moments later, King Samuel winced when Tun Ali appeared in a second mirror. Ali looked bored.

“You too?” Samuel said with a snort.

Ali shrugged. “I was summoned, so I here I am.”

“Well, let’s get this over with, shall we?” Samuel said, looking at the High Priest.

“This is no joking manner, young man,” the High Priest said sternly.

“As I have said over and over again, this is the best course for Terang—it is the only way to see lasting peace in the kingdom, instead of always having to worry about impending war from Bayangan.”

“You would ally with the enemies of God!” the High Priest protested.

“Well, if God were against them, he can strike them dead and we wouldn’t be in this fix of always being on the brink of war. Don’t you want peace, High Priest? Don’t you think the people deserve that chance for peace?”

“Young man, your heart is in the right place, but your actions are wrong. This treaty might offer peace for the short term, but it will only end in disaster,” the Secretkeeper said.

“I’ve prayed about this,” Samuel said obstinately, “and since God hasn’t struck me dead, I can only assume that I’m not doing anything wrong.”

“He has sent his word to the priests both in Maha and in Suci but you have ignored their advice! You only listen to your own council.”

“The Temple itself says that each man can approach God on his own and that God speaks to their hearts. My heart says that this is what is right for me and for Terang. Dare you go against your own teachings?” Samuel mocked. He pushed aside the remnants of his worry that he might be headed in the wrong direction. This was right, he told himself again. “Besides, the council of seven in Maha are in agreement.”

The seven other men around the table nodded. They hadn’t all been in agreement at first, but Samuel had worn them down, pleading his case and reworking the treaty to satisfy their worries until they had reluctantly agreed. The only thing he refused to budge on was the fact that he was going to marry Dell.

The High Priest and the Secretkeeper seemed to be having a hurried whispered conversation.

Samuel preened. He’d managed to throw them off, at least a little.

“My visions only see dark things if you take this route,” the Secretkeeper finally said. Her face was downcast, her tone low, but Samuel knew it was all an act. 

Get him to pity the woman and maybe his heart would be moved. No. He’d made his decision and he would stick to it. “Ramalan, I do not profess to understand the workings of your visions. But I have seen things with my own two eyes and they tell me that this is the best way forward. The people of our city are crying out for help. This treaty will bring jobs, trade, money. It will help everyone from the poor to the rich.”

“Must you marry the girl?” Ramalan asked.

Samuel’s face pinched. “Is that what this is all about? Despite all that I do for the kingdom, all the things I sacrifice, you would deny me the right to marry a young woman who is willing?”

“We do not deny you the right to marry anyone, King Samuel,” the High Priest replied. “Just not her. Not her, who is our ancient enemy.”

Samuel shook his head. “I don’t understand you. For all your talk of forgiveness and repentance, you cannot accept when one who was our enemy has repented and is now seeking to be our friend.”

“Fellow rulers,” Tun Ali finally spoke up, “Far be it from me to impose on any of you, being the youngest of all, but it is Samuel’s right to marry whom he wishes.”

Samuel shot him a grateful smile. “Thank you, Ali.”

The two scrying from Suci looked frustrated. “God says—”

“If I may remind you, High Priest, there are many Bayangans in Maha. All of them follow God and the teachings of the Temple. How can you be prejudiced against them when you preach love towards all? Princess Dell may yet come to know and follow God as we do.”

“And has she shown any interest in following our religion?” the Secretkeeper asked sharply. “Or does she merely delay you and tell you it may come to pass one day in the distant future?”

“In fact, Dell has visited the Temple in Maha when she was here,” Samuel said. He’d almost had to coerce her to go, and it was just a tour of the premises and not during services, but he didn’t say that. “I would say that she is quite open to listening about God. Belief and faith will come in time.”

A long silence permeated the room. 

“Do you have anything else to say?” King Samuel said when a long enough time had passed.

“It looks like we cannot convince you otherwise.”

“No, you can’t. I have quite made up my mind, and it is within my rights as the King of Maha and Sovereign of the tri-city states of Terang to do so, especially when the Council of Seven are in agreement.”

“One last thing then,” the High Priest said.

“What would that be?”

“Will you release my priests? The Temple in Maha has informed me that you have unlawfully imprisoned the Chief Priest Francis and two other high ranking priests over the last three months. What offence have they made against you?”

Samuel grimaced. “I will release them on the condition that they return to Suci and replaced with new priests who respect the authority of the King. These priests have spoken out publicly against My Royal Person in the middle of Temple services in an astoundingly rude manner. This is both disruptive and against the rule of law. If they wish to admonish me or impart their ‘words of wisdom’, I would advise them to do it in a more courteous manner instead of inciting insurrection.”

“Noted. We will discipline them as necessary,” the High Priest said.

“Now, if that is all…?”

Samuel waited for those in the scrying mirrors to assent before he signalled for the attending priest to break the link.

“Well, that’s that then,” he leaned back in his seat with a big smile.

---

So this is the last bit I wrote yesterday during my write-in at the Uxbridge Library. I'm kind of liking it at the moment, and unfortunately liking my "bad people" with more glee than the actual intended protagonists of this story.

If you notice, this takes place in the whole Absolution universe ha. It's supposed to happen way before Secretkeeper and Absolution, so yes, the Secretkeeper is Nek Ramalan, though I suppose she's not old enough to be "Nek" yet. Hmmmmmm. 

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