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Chapter 45: Wherein The Night Is Warm And The Blood Is Sweet

It was a strange assembly of men. Five different accents, five different modes of dress, five different expressions. The inner council of the Tournament committee were feeling fairly inconvenienced by the recent turn of events.

"I agree that it is too late to cancel," said the Sky Monk, Ruaramilantair. He looked out of place indoors, with his wings folded next to his body and his luminous skin shinning strangely in the candlelight. "It is sad to say that the countries will take this the wrong way."

"But everyone is ill!" argued Testor, the official from Logrivia. "It will be vastly worse if magicians begin dying. The Tournament's mission is to prevent death and war. We can't just stand still and allow it to come about!"

"But we cannot know when and if the curse will be unleashed," Luaramilantair pointed out. "There's no knowing the amount of friction that will be created by cancelling the Tournament on account of a false alarm."

"Unless," said Mirqual from the island of Lavita, "we allow the War Magic competitions to be concluded and postpone all the rest. That way countries will be clear on each other's magical abilities and we can send home anyone who isn't related to this field."

"We would do good to make an announcement of the potential danger so that anyone who wishes to do so can leave," mused the almond-eyed Kadji of the country of Leaf, "and in case something does happen, assign a Line of Flight."

The five of them turned their heads to look at the door just before someone knocked upon it. The door opened itself to permit the entrance of the Grand Magic Master.

"Come in, Wenward," croaked the oldest member of the group, Sansaid of the Republic of Jumma. "Sorted out that matter?"

Marning shook his head and limped into the room, breathing heavily. He sat down with a sigh and the five waited patiently for him to catch his breath. Kadji helpfully handed him a glass of fresh milk.

"What's gotten into you, old friend?" asked Sansaid, "It's as if you've turned a million years old in a fortnight."

"Accurate observation," Marning agreed.

"So did your king sort out the issue with his airborne queen?" wondered Kadji, unable to hide her smile. No one liked King Daphour, not even here.

Marning shrugged. "He appears to be calm now. She is where no wingless man can find her. There's nothing for him to do."

"Probably relieved to see her go," Mirqual observed. "Give me a plain woman any day, I'll never complain. But a beautiful woman – ah, now that's stressful."

Sansaid and Luaramilantair laughed, while the other two stared at Mirqual dejectedly. "The Queen taking flight aside," Mirqual continued, "I assume you are aware of the heavier problem we have at hand."

Marning sighed again and nodded.

"Do you know where the child in question is?" asked Sansaid.

"We have placed him in a safe house in the farthest corner of the city. He is under guard at all hours of the day and night." Even though the child was an embodiment of a curse, it still felt uncomfortable to speak this way. "I have tried to have him taken out of the city, but he cannot be removed."

Naturally, they had a lot of questions; they wanted to know everything that was to know, anything that could be known. They did not question why the Grand Master had kept this information to himself up to now. They were five people with a deep understanding of the relationships between countries. They were selected for this position because they were experienced in the subtle art of not taking sides.

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