Vamir Ro sighed softly as they walked through the newly cleaned infirmary. The Cleaners, as always, had done impeccable work, even repairing the cracks in the wall of the ‘prisoner’s’ room.  The only clue as to the horrifying recent events  was the lack of  adornment to the room. Healer's hall was now devoid of tapestries, rugs, and paintings. Bare stone surrounded them, yet oddly, it did not seem cold and dark. Sconces remained lit, as did an enormous fireplace. But it was not the lights, nor the fire that miraculously lent life to the room, it was the tawny sandstone from which the room was built.  Granite and other stones, save perhaps marble, seemed so chilly, and impersonal. In rooms built of granite, as much of Vors was, it sometimes seemed impossible to get warm.

“I swear it, Diniella. I do not see the reason for chains myself. If we don’t keep up appearances, however, I worry worse fates could befall our guest. The news of his coming was supposed to be controlled, delivered in as positive a manner as possible.” He shook his head ruefully. “I see now that this was folly on my part, to think I could keep something so large from the people. However, the decidedly mixed reaction does tell me that my reasoning was sound...just not my ability to execute. I only hope that I have not lost the council’s good will.”

Diniella hugged herself, a shiver coursing through her. It had been difficult to return to the scene of yesterday’s devastation, but there was no other space truly suited to the task, nor were there enough Healers to spare. “I’d be dead if not for him. I was a moment away from screaming panic when Volgra found me. I think it pained him to admit that he would not have known to look for me had it not been for Ragnar.”

“Volgra is part of the problem...he seems convinced that the dwarf brought the vines, or had some part in it, even while he is forced to admit the dwarf saved lives that otherwise would have been lost.”

“But you said...”

“I know, it’s impossible the D'huar could have had any part in the plot. At least,  not if acting alone. And this is what makes this situation so dangerous. Who has the dwarf had access to since arrival?  Who are his only possible accomplices?”

Diniella blinked, a look of terror flitted across her face. “Passions...I had not considered...”

“Calm, girl. Know that not once have I ever considered it either, save for imagining another’s perspective. Consider too that had Volgra had any doubts about you, he’d not have hurried so to find you. If Volgra, who distrusts the man so, has no doubts of you or me, then it is safe to say that particular idea will find little soil to take root in.”

“Do you think the accusation will be made against you in council?”

Vamir's eyes wandered to the walls, and towards the sputtering flame of a brass-wound sconce as he thought about the question. The council was somewhat unpredictable, especially of late. He returned his gaze towards the young healer. 

“If the accusation were to be made, I’d expect it from Rovaris. But he has taken the time to review the facts and been one of the more reasonable voices when it comes to our guest’s arrival.  I pride myself on knowing my opposition...or at  the least where it will come from, but in this case, I’m at a loss. “

Diniella looked down at the floor, a small frown furrowing her brow. She had never much liked the elder statesman, even as a child, before the Fall. He had held his position for nigh twenty cycles, despite several worthy opponents in his vireht (riding). Rovaris had been near defeat only twice in that period, and both times, his opponent had fallen to some form of last minute scandal. In each case, Rovaris had smiled  and expressed that private foibles should be forgotten when weighed against civic efforts, or that the allegations were sure to be proven false (and indeed, the second time serious doubts had been raised after the election).  At no time was the man more magnanimous and friendly towards his opponent than when there was a risk to his position. A friendly, reasonable Rovaris made Diniella more nervous than an outright hostile Rovaris.  

"Be careful, Vamir. A kind word from Rovaris has often been followed by a hidden dagger...whether he personally wields it or not."

Vamir's lips tightened to a thin line. "I've had that same thought myself, healer. I trust you'll make room for me though."

"Without doubt. Third bed on the left. I will be sure to tell my colleagues of your standing reservation." said Diniella with a soft smile. 

Vamir swore under his breath, his eyes darting towards the entrance to Healer's Hall. Diniella followed his gaze, her eyes widening in surprise, and a little fear.

"I don't suppose I can feign illness and take that bed now, do you?" said Vamir softly.

"Not when they see you standing already." said Diniella regretfully, watching the two guardsmen approach side by side, walking in step, sparing not a glance at the near empty Hall. The two guardsmen approaching were definitely not here to replace their colleagues outside Ragnar's door.

"Vamir Ro, you are to accompany us to Council Chambers immediately and without delay!" stated the smaller (and younger)of the two guards, his chin raised imperiously in challenge. Livery pressed, and armor shining far too brightly, it was obvious to Vamir that this one was new to the guard, and rather taken with himself. Vamir had been this young man at one point, but it seemed so long ago. Had he ever been such a prig? He opened his mouth to remind the upstart who he was addressing.

The elder guard sighed. "Councillor Ro...Could you please accompany us to the Council Chambers? Your presence has been immediately requested." His glare to the younger guard was as effective as a slap upside the back of the head, Vamir was pleased to note.

"An invitation is it?" said Vamir with a conspiratorial smile. "Alas, I'm not in my best attire." 

"The Council insists." said the elder guard, the glare aimed at the younger guard shifting to Vamir, though with considerably less effect.

"Very well. Lead on."  He followed directly behind the guards as they walked in unison the long corridors to the Chambers.

Diniella stared after them, whispering a quick benediction to the Passions, reassuring herself that Vamir Ro was one to always land on his feet. She clutched her shoulders, unnerved by the solitude. The empty beds and barren walls could not be overlooked, no matter how pleasantly they reflected firelight. With very few patients and little to do, Diniella could not help but let her mind wander to the horrors of the previous night, and to worry for her friends.




The End

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