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from The Gilded Knights by Elizah Godswood

Copyright © 2015–2021 Elizah Godswood

Chapter 9
At Wit’s End

The boys were silent during breakfast. They kept their eyes on their plates, refusing to fully meet her eye. Seida knew they were both furious with her, and she couldn’t blame them. But the assembly room was no place for young boys, and she didn’t have a choice to bring them in with her anyway. The summons was for her, and her alone. They could be angry with her all they like. It wasn’t like they were missing anything overly exciting. She had a bad feeling about the Council meeting coming up later that morning.

    “Are you sure we can’t come with you?” Gregorim asked finally, slamming his fork down on the table. “We were there too! Why doesn’t our testimony matter to them?”

    “You two are only apprentices, which is why they want my testimony and not yours. I don’t make the rules of the Council. Believe me, I would bring you both with me if I could.”

“It still doesn’t make sense,” Gregorim grumbled.

“It doesn’t have to; these are the rules of the Order and we must follow them. I will tell you all about it the moment I am done giving my testimony. I promise. You won’t be missing anything exciting. They’re dreadfully boring and full of old people bickering for hours on end.” Seida hoped that this would cheer them up a bit, but it didn’t. They kept to their sulking. 

“We were there, too,” Tauren said, stabbing at his slab of ham. “They could at least look me in the eye when they tell me they won’t be doing anything about this.” 

“You don’t know that, Tauren. Nothing has been decided yet.” 

“Certainly seems that way,” Gregorim said. 

“Why are both of you so negative this morning?” Seida looked between the two of them. They’d seemed excited up until today. 

“Gregorim overheard some of the Mothers talking.” 

“I heard them say that the Council hadn’t taken some sort of news well, and that there wouldn’t be a decision made,” Gregorim said between bites. “Hard to be positive when you overhear things like that.”

“What were you doing eavesdropping on those old women anyway? If there’s one thing you should understand, it’s that the Mothers are terrible gossips and many of them do not wish for the Order to act. It has been centuries since we last got involved in any sort of conflict. Many of the Order have gotten complacent, forgotten that we are not a country all our own, but an organization founded on the principle of defending the world from danger.” Seida finished the last of her breakfast and rose from the table. There was only a short while before she’d need to report in for the meeting. The sooner she got answers, the better. “I’ve made arrangements with one of the sisters from the archives to take over your lessons for the day until I am done with the meeting. Once I am done, we have permission to use the courtyard for sparring practice until supper time.” 

They both grunted in acknowledgement, continuing to pick disinterestedly at their food. Seida left the dining room and stepped back into her bedchamber to change and get ready. Tossing together the nicest dress shirt and clean black pants she had, she quickly dressed herself and sat before the mirror to brush her hair, throwing it back in a quick braid. Almost shaking now, she stood up and left the room, bidding the boys goodbye on her way out the door to the hall. 

She took a deep breath as she shut the door behind her and tried to collect her thoughts and steel her nerves. There was so much riding on this meeting. As much as she wanted to be hopeful that there would have been a sign or word from Kirada, the boys only confirmed her fears. Sadra had snuck her a few reports she had been given by the Grand Master. There had been more reported dragon attacks, many to the southeast in Tunsa and all along the lands around the Gulf of Carqoma. Apparently, he’d expressed deep concern that this string of new attacks, this time with survivors that lived to spread word of a terrible great black dragon leavi...

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