“Once upon a time, a boy was born to two parents, young for the responsibility, but still deep in the throes of love. The father was a hunter, the mother an armorer, specializing in leather and hide. They both endeavored to teach this young lad a portion of what they had learned over their years, as parents are wont to do.” Vamir took a breath, looking around at his audience. The majority of the council looked confused but intrigued, if one chose to ignore the narrow-eyed suspicion of Rovaris and Setandra.
“The boy was a sickly thing, however, and could not always accompany his father on his journeys into the forest, nor could he work closely with his mother due to an intolerance for tannin. He learned therefore to sow, and to cut and work the completed leather, and to fit and form the armor. He did not enjoy his work, however, and whenever possible, snuck away to read the books found in his neighbor's small library. Many criticized the boy's parents, claiming he was not learning what was needed to survive the harsh realities of the world, and that they were indulging him far too much. They knew better, for the boy was brilliant, and it was obvious he gained more from reading than he did from working leather, or from learning woodsmanship from his father. Besides, they ensured that even if he did not have strength of arm, he was still as dexterous as any, and able to use his mind in order to provide himself a good defense.”
Mutters were heard from throughout the chamber, as the councillors attempted to make sense of their colleagues seemingly meandering tale. This was not the usual narrative heard in chamber, nor in their histories...for one thing, rarely was a child's upbringing brought up, let alone any indication of short-comings in their offspring.
“The boy became an expert with a bow, even if he could not pull those of the warriors of his town. The mechanical bows used by the town militia were easier still for the boy. In addition, he could swing a short blade with great precision, from a shortsword to the smallest knife. While he could not match up with his peers in a wrestling match, he could deliver a mean jab, and could tumble better than most.
“Over time, and with a great deal of love and attention from his parents and neighbors...for it was said by many where he dwelled that it took a village to raise a child...he outgrew most of his sickliness, and began to stretch his wings, pushing himself to join his father on hunts, to ride, and to explore his countryside.”
With this, the muttering grew louder, confusion becoming mild surprise...not a one of them had ever left the city, and the only hunting available was in the ever dwindling forest preserve. Venison had long since been replaced by pig, hare and fowl, kept largely in small pens near the home. This was certainly not a tale of the Vors, even if the narrative of the child's youth had begun to point to strengths rather than weaknesses. The word countryside was one that had become archaic due to disuse.
Vamir took a breath, and opened his mouth to continue.
“Stop, Vamir. Just stop.” said Rovaris, a note of exasperation in his voice. “Noone is interested in old tales. Especially old tales from an outsider.”
Vamir grinned. “I did not say this was an old tale. In fact, it is a rather new one.”
Rovaris blinked...it dawned on him that he had fallen into Vamir's trap, and shut his mouth quickly, wondering how he had allowed himself to play into the young man's hands so easily. However, the objection had been noted, and taken as a cue by his ally, Setandra.
“Then it is fiction!” shouted Setandra. “You lull us into listening to a fairy tale!”
“I assure you it is not so...but by the same token, thank you.”
“Thank you? For what?” said Setandra, blinking in confusion.
“That you think me capable of telling a fairy tale, and a new one, at that...for that clears me of any suspicion of Taint, does it not? ”
Setandra stood open-mouthed, unable to reply. For of course he was right... storytelling was an art, one rarely practice of late, but a recognized art. The Tainted could not create anything of beauty...they could only corrupt. An attempt at storytelling from the tainted would be ugly, coarse, disruptive, and despairing...tales of suicide, pain, and anguish. If not coupled with a captive audience, or magic used to compel, not a one of the assembled here would have been able to sit through the tale.
“Now...this tale is true, or, I believe it to be, for I heard it directly from the source. As fantastical as it may sound, I sensed no deception. Not even of the sort required in order to fabricate a good tale.”
He smiled, and looked around the room, raising his hands. “Now...unless Rovaris and Setandra wish to level a different accusation, we can continue the tale without fear of Taint. Either I spin a decent tale, and am not in any way subject to Taint...or, if it does not exonerate me, it exonerates my good friend the D'huar, for I heard the tale straight from his own lips. The rules apply to constructs, to Horrors, and to Tainted...he can no more create a story than could I, if he were any of these things.”
Rovaris growled. “Then you could still be tainted...they are able to repeat another's words...and twist them to one's advantage.”
“I'd like to think that the artistry in my delivery exonerates me, dear friend. But I do not believe you truly accuse me. You merely play Dis' advocate?”
Rovaris though obviously seething to Vamir's eyes, managed a curt nod and small smile.
“At any rate, this council must at least begin to consider these things. Either my source is able to fabricate a good tale, and is thus not Tainted...or I am able to, and thus not tainted. And if not Tainted, the tale is such that one must ask oneself...what profit in lying? What profit in telling us of a weak, sickly youth, unable to follow in his parent's shadow? What profit in describing a life with the freedom to leave one's walls? I can think of only two...either he tells us of his life...a life spent free to travel, to hunt, to work, to create, to build...or he tells us of his life as he wishes it to be...either way, it is a beautiful thing, for it speaks of a gift...a gift to imagine beyond walls, a gift to dream of adventures without boundaries. Most of all it speaks to me of courage...he tells his tale simply, without fear of judgement. Though he has been judged by a thousand since the news of his arrival broke, he fears not the worst among us...or shows it not!”
The room was abuzz...no individual words could be heard, but each council member spoke with his neighbor. Setandra argued with hers, obviously angered at having been handled by her young male counterpart, especially after such a promising start to the session. The upstart had gone from near criminal to leading the council in what seemed a blink of the eye. It was often thus, when Vamir spoke in Chambers. This was all the more infuriating in that he did not do so often. There was a reason he was seen as frivolous and inexperienced, and it was not simply that he was the youngest member. He spoke up in session seldom, save a pointed question or two, or voicing an agreement or argument with whoever spoke. He spent nearly all his time in conversation with everyone from soldiers to Cleaners, and there was no question that in many of the places he frequented, ale and mead flowed freely. He had been known to nod off in the early going of some longer sessions... Why was it then, that he could somehow turn a planned session upside down with a few choice words? Why was it then that he could not only gain, but keep it? It angered not only Setandra, but others as well...but those who were amused and admiring of the man far outweighed the balance.
The only man that stood silent was Rovaris, mouth tight, eyes staring straight ahead...One of his aides fluttered at his side, attempting to get his attention. Vamir watched as the aide finally grabbed Rovaris' earlobe and pulled, surprising the man out of whatever he had been contemplating...likely murder, thought Vamir. But surprising to Vamir, was that Rovaris' aide had felt comfortable enough to lay his hands upon his charge...and more surprising, that Rovaris, considering his obvious mood, did not react angrily to the interruption. The angry glare became a frown of concentration, then rapt attention. Vamir felt a slight chill, witnessing the moment. Vamir could not help but feel he was missing something, something beyond the sense of hatred he had felt from Rovaris earlier...he also felt that there was a potential for Rovaris to regroup, and he did not wish it to happen.
“We have lost the thread we followed, ladies and gentleman...I would continue my tale...or rather his. But I fear I will not do it justice. What say you we bring in the D'huar, and hear it direct from his tongue?”
Several of the council voiced assent, but it was far from a majority, as many were still too embroiled in their own conversations.
“I call a vote. Do you wish to hear the tale from me, or from it's source?” repeated Vamir, louder.
Sarich called out loudly, silencing the room.
“A vote has been called! Should Vamir continue, or should his source speak for himself?” He motioned his hand in a sweep towards Vamir.
“To hear from Vamir?” Several hands raised, including Setandra and Rovaris', but far from a majority. Each adversary knew they had been manoeuvered into their current untenable position, and a petty victory was better than none at all. It was obvious that Vamir had been angling for a positive introduction to the dwarf all along.
“From the D'huar?”
Hands raised throughout the room, and a quick visual check confirmed the result. The dwarf would be brought to Council Chambers.
“Abstain?” No hands raised.
Sarich confirmed the result in his booming voice. “ The D'huar will be called to speak. Let the decision be read into record. Motion to adjourn till after dinner. The prospect of a good story whets my appetite!” He patted his belly, which, while not huge, had been growing the past few years, and shook rather like gelatin.
“Hold...I second the motion, but I must remind the council of a motion that was tacitly agreed to, if not explicitly, in our last session.” said Vamir.
“And what was that, Vamir? Memory does not serve.” said Sarich.
“Twas my homework assignment. I charged all with finding or creating something which brought them joy or peace, and to share it with council.”
“Ah...you are correct...it was not entered into record, but there was no disagreement. Will those present consent to bringing said item to session should we break? Raise your hands if the answer be yes.”
The council response was tepid at best.
Vamir shrugged. “ I shall amend the request then...seeing as we shall be adjourning but for a few hours, I suggest this be done as a best effort basis. Please bring the first item that comes to mind, or some quick and easy creation of art. I shall explain my purpose after my friend shares his tale. Best effort, I ask no more.”
The councillors voted in favour, the second time around. Vamir relied on this response to be plenty, for without a compelling reason for disagreement, each member present would try to one up his brethren, even if they feigned reluctance in chamber.
“Motion to adjourn for 4 hours?” spoke Sarich, that decision reached.
The motion was carried quickly, and everyone stood, gathering belongings, and heading to the exits.