''Wonderful, wonderful'' I said clapping as the demon showed himself ''Oh isn’t this grand, finally the charade is over and you are speaking the truth. In my opinion if you ask me, the more honest of you all right here is that Mr over there’’ I said pointing towards the Dominican that just had an outburst of honesty.
''To think poor our dear departed Consul thought for a moment peace could be signed with people like that. Or even The High Palatine here, just sweets talks us with peace under the threat of Malvernian invasion. Thinking we would embark on this negotiation without taking measures with them.
And then this abomination appears to talk to us like if we where children? Have you forgotten your purpose in this world? Just like cattle is to be slaughtered and sheep to be sheared, you exist to serve and nothing else. We did not came here to make terms with you, but with men.
Unless of course men are too busy thinking their cows are their kings or gods, or both.''
Hands inched closer to swords. The Spark of magic flared like a flame fanned. Lines appeared across foreheads. Pistols clicked.
But there were rules to play by. Even here. Manlia Suren Issander forced Gori's gaze to meet his own, drawing it away from the Seraph Lightdancer. "I think we have all reached an understanding, don't you?"
"It is clear. There can be no compromise." Manlia's senses sharpened, taking in the smell of sweat, of incense and perfumes. He felt the sweat trickle down his back. And he felt the tension at his temple as a tick tock of twitching muscles. "You spit upon some the greatest powers this world has ever seen. You will be humbled. And perhaps afterwards, we can talk."
General Otakar scoffed, his throat quivering to respond.
"I think we are finished here." Manlia Suren Issander cut in, a sneer pulling at his lips.
Despite everything, the Republican congregation had the gall to look faintly surprised. Offended, even.
"See you tomorrow, I think." Gori tipped his hat. On his cue, the Republicans walked out of the meeting without another word. Even Avus Gula, the whipped dog that he was. When Gori spoke, they listened. Manlia caught Renal sharing a look with Torval. Whatever message passed between them was too personal to decipher. Then they were alone.
"What was that?" Grandmaster Valtorian shouted silently past a clenched jaw. His eyes were wet with outrage. "The point?"
"The point." Manlia wheeled on his countrymen. "The point was to know our enemy. Know what we are up against."
Only the moan of the evening wind answered Manlia as he looked out over a circus of contorted faces. But this was no opera, no comedy. Perhaps it was a tragedy.
Fires flickered and shadows stretched as Lightdancer began to move amongst them, analysing, considering. There was no denying a Son of Radiance. No denying a Seraph. The Curia and its vassals cast their eyes to the ground. Those few who stared back at Lightdancer did not do so in defiance. There was only love, and worship. For Lightdancer was beyond politics. Beyond petty hatreds. Lightdancer, the Third Son.
"What did you see?" the Seraph asked, his voice melodious. To Manlia's ears it was like a flock of sparrows, singing together to mimic a man's voice. Unimaginable, until you hear it.
"I saw-" Kanrel Valtorian blinked. "Fear."
"Indeed." Lightdancer chimed. "But fear of what? What did you see?"
"Betrayal." Torval whispered, loud enough for all to hear. He looked up, himself afraid. "I saw terrible pain."
"Hot steel!" Another man spoke - Damesco Truseva. Vassal of Sistorian. "Steel that has been broken and reforged. Time and time again!"
Lightdancer stopped before Manlia now. "Your Grace." it sang to him as tradition demanded. With utmost respect, as an equal. "What did you see?"
"I saw-" Manlia began, memories flashing to his encounter with Gori in the spirit realm. "Death."