Light slanted in through the long narrow windows of the Caindren Hall, reflecting against the white marble of the Courtroom floor in patches and blinding the Chairman from his position in the center of the room. He rubbed his eyes irritably and craned his stiff neck upwards to glance at the Primaries situated on the top row. The room was constructed similarly to an auditorium, which was ironic, as nobody seemed to be listening to him. The central floor, where he sat on his extremely uncomfortable marble chair, was the lowest point of the room, and marble steps ascended out from there in rings, the outermost ring being at the top looking down towards the center. On these steps sat countless counsel members: officers, generals, Primaries, and Secondaries, all speaking over one another and all determined to put in their opinion. The cacophony combined with the chairman's lack of sleep and interrupted breakfast that morning converged into a skull-crushing headache. He rubbed his temples and nodded to the advisor on his right.
"Silence!" bellowed the Chairman, and the volume decreased somewhat as the displeased counsel turned to stare down at him. "The facts have been reviewed with the Study and a decision has been made in favor of the plan presented during the last Convene that -"
"But what of the Sandspeakers?" said an elderly woman up on the third row, wasting no time in interrupting him. "They foretell of the coming of Daybreak, as centuries ago, and what of the humans? They cannot possibly-" This brought an uproar from the counsel and the Guard had to call for order several times before they finally quieted down.
"I understand your concerns, Tihana, but we feel that our best course of action would be to conceal the Stalež Krvca until further notice and wait out-"
"Like we did last time?" shouted a gangly youth with peach-colored too-short hair. He stood up, looking around at the other counsel members. "What use is it to hide in fear, waiting for war and evil to find us? We must fight, be the first to attack! Only then will we-"
"Attack what, exactly?" interrupted a lady with a tight face and yellow hat. "What evil is it that we're running from? How are we to know that there is anything to fear at all?"
"The Wynn will return!"
"This has happened-"
"We mustn't ignore the Sandspeakers! They are the only-"
"The Ring might come-"
"THE RING IS NO MORE!" yelled the Chairman, standing up, breathing heavily, fist pounding on the marble desk- a bad idea that only succeeded in worsening his mood. Finally the counsel listened. "The Sandspeakers, what proof do they have? What happened in the past was a MERE COINCIDENCE. The only thing to do is what we should have done in the first place: if we can't destroy it, we keep it in a place where none can find. We are fools to listen to the orders of the people of the Sand. There are none of the Ring left-"
The council broke out into argument once again, voices rising to a crescendo on the verge of mutiny.
"No more?" said a quiet voice, calm and soft, yet carrying across the entire roomful of angry words. Suddenly the council was deadly silent, frozen mid sentence. A feeling of dread and fear seeped into the brightly lit room, an icy cold draft. Outside, clouds passed over the sun.
The speaker, a young man in a white tunic stepped further into the room. "Good evening, Chairman."
"Y-you" whispered the old man, trembling in his forest green robes, eyes wide with shock and terror.
"Nice to see you again, too. I thank you for your hospitality, though I'm afraid the outside Guard was none too pleasant." He flashed a blinding smile, black eyes glinting.
He strode down to the lowest level, and at the same moment the Chairman cried, "Alistan! Comet!" Two very tall black shadows lept out of seemingly thin air, gliding soundlessly down to either side of the dark haired young man. They lunged for him with glinting knives, there movements a blur, but the young man drew a long, wickedly sharp blade from his side and slashed through the two of them with a single, clean arc. They crumpled to the marble floor before him, lifeless and broken.
"Now that's no way to treat a guest, particularly an old friend," he said, cleaning his icy black sword off on the dead men's robes and sheathing it. "We'll need to work on that, wont we, Chairman? Wouldn't want to offend anybody." Blood had spattered the front of his tunic. He looked down at it almost curiously.