Just as Nas was about to reply with some cruel retort, all the others walked in. They filtered through, finding their seat in the circle and sitting down, waiting. Nobody liked it when the leaders met; it was when most feuds started. I saw Violet sat next to an elf, one of Zev's assassins. I smiled at her and she waved back.
"Alix," I said quietly, "I would like to get through this without you biting my head off."
She scowled but nodded and stormed off.
"She's so much drama," Nas moaned. I laughed quietly.
"Come on," I said to her.
We found our seats easily. Nas was next to Violet and I was next to Nas. When everyone was sat down, Alix looked around and stood up. There were at least a hundred pairs of eyes that turned to her as she started to speak.
"My lords and ladies of the council, welcome," she started.
I kind of just zoned out, speaking only when I had to. I was thinking about my own problems, not those of the council or the covens. I was contemplating what to do about the Imprint. Nas knew so I'd be able to talk to her about it. What really amazed me was that Nas was willing to break it for Zoe's sake. I didn't know what I wanted to do about it.
And then there was Darran; he'd want to spend the whole time locked in that cell, perhaps prolonging our stay. I still couldn't believe that he'd been gay for sixteen years and had never told anyone. How he coped, I didn't know.
Suddenly, I was pulled from my internal monologue by the sound of shouting. Focusing on the assembly again, I saw Violet arguing with David on the other side of the room.
"No!" Violet shouted at him. "We will not put up with such an insult!"
I turned to Nas. "Did I miss something?"
"Obviously," she replied. "David thought it would be a good idea to say that Violet's coven needed protection, in the form of the covens joining."
"What? Is David stupid?"
The argument went on for a further ten minutes, before David finally conceded and apologised.
"While we sit here and argue amongst ourselves," I said loudly, "humanity prepares itself for an attack. They do not trust us. And eventually they will decide we are too dangerous, too unpredictable. And they will kill us. All of us."
Silence settled. No one spoke.
"How do you know this?" Markus asked.
"I have seen it."
"We must attack them before they attack us. We must-" David started.
"Shut up, David," Nas snapped, "let him speak."
"We cannot defeat them. They have captured several of our numbers, and tortured them to find out our weaknesses. They know everything about us - save for our goddess. We have two options: either we feed less on humans, or we hide away in our mountain, where they can't touch us."
"You are very much integrated with humanity, Ace," said Angelica. "What do you propose we do?"
"It's not up to me; the assembly must come to a unanimous decision," I told her, looking around all the others.
"I suggest we just leave it for a while. Let us see what happens and act in such a way that the situation will require," Angelica said.
"All in favour?" Alix called, raising it to a vote. Everyone raised their hands. "Then it's settled. Now, are there any other concerns anybody would like to raise? Good. This assembly is over."