Chapter 17.3: At Last, A New Chancellor

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On the last day of Deliberations, the candidates were introduced and given their final opportunity to make an impression on the qualifying voters. They were presented in reverse poll order, starting with Lord Castrol Thomas, whose supporters after the scandal had plummeted to almost zero.

Vallario sat through the long speeches sitting in-between his sister and brother. Pall lost interest quickly in the middle of Lord Castrol's short speech—which could scarcely be heard over the boos and taunts from the crowd—and proceeded to do his best to distract Val and Galia continually.

After suffering through Marshall Lemmon's predictably dull monotone, Zopha Calazar followed with a fiery and controversial speech that surprised Val given the closeness of the polls. Alec Bromborne took the podium next with what Val supposed was the strongest speech of the night, though even he was a disappointment. Perhaps Val just wanted the Bromborne prince to pop the way his fellow, Jeffrey Greenborne, had the night before.

At the end of Alec Bromborne's speech, the time to vote had come at last. Val watched moodily as everyone in his family but him queued with the other qualifying nobles in the rear of the chambers to cast their votes. Pall looked thrilled Val had been left out. Galia, on the other hand, was apologetic. "If it makes you feel better, I'm not sure I even want to vote." She glanced around quickly and leaned in closer. "All of the candidates seem bad to me," she whispered and glanced around again to make sure no one had heard.

Val leaned in closer and met her eyes seriously. "Alec Bromborne," he whispered firmly. She nodded once.

Val sat bored for the better part of an hour as the voting took place. Lords bragged boisterously among themselves. The ladies also competed, each hoping their gown or jewelry was more beautiful and expensive than the others. Val was pleased to notice that, while not dressed more exuberantly than any of the others, his mother easily stood out above all the rest. Any eyes scanning the broad room could, and inevitably would, land on her. Galia, too, was easy to track with her volumous wavy hair and fair skin. Pallar, however, Val couldn't find, and eventually it became a bit of a game for Val to try to discover where his brother had gone off too.

But suddenly, Pall appeared behind him smiling and out of breath. "You wouldn't believe who I just saw up close!" he exclaimed.

"Bless the mountain, Pall!" Val exclaimed. "You startled me! Did you vote?"

"Princess Zarla. And she smiled at me!"

"Did you vote yet?" Val asked again.

But Pall just slapped him on the shoulder and vanished. Only a few moments later Galia returned to her seat.

"How was it?" he asked.

"You missed out on a lot," she said sarcastically.

"Did it seem...I don't know, legitimate?"

Galia shrugged. "Those Guild Bailiffs are a bit scary," she said quietly. "They loom over you and watch everything.

"The Guild Bailiffs?" Val asked curiously.

Galia nodded. "The Guild of Magistrates is responsible to oversee the election, and the guards they employ are called the Guild Bailiffs."

Val nodded. "I wonder how flexible is their allegiance?"

"You worry too much." 

Val shrugged.

Once every last qualifying voter had had their turn, everyone lumbered back to their seats slowly. Another hour passed as the Guild of Magistrates officially counted all of the 243 votes. Finally, Chancellor Gonsales stepped out on the floor in an elegant, flowing gown the color of brilliant ivory. A thunderous ovation keep her standing patiently for some time.

"Lords and Ladies of New America," she bellowed in barely accented American. Though she was short, her powerful voice echoed magnificently off the marble walls of the domed chamber. Silence came abruptly. "It has been my pleasure to serve as Supreme Chancellor these past three terms, but, as wisely decreed by our predecessors a century and a half ago, the time has come for me to hand the scepter to the next successor."

There was a loud chorus of nays. Val watched his mother smiling. "If she proposed it, they would overturn that law for her and let her keep on ruling," her father had said at dinner the night before. "In all my years I have never seen another leader so adored, certainly not a Supreme Chancellor."

"Today, you all have voted," Sandra Gonsales started again, but her voice cracked. Val and Galia exchanged a look. Was it sadness? Nostalgia? Doubt? "And the votes have all been counted." The soon-to-be former Supreme Chancellor unfolded a parchment in her hand. "There is no further need for delay." She paused and swallowed. Val and Galia met eyes again. What is going on? she mouthed. Val shrugged. Fear. The realization sent chills up his back. She is afraid.

"In a margin closer than any previous vote in the history of the White Throne," Lady Gonsales said, finding her courage at last, "the new Supreme Chancellor of New America, steward of the White Throne, Lord Protector of the Union and my successor will be..." She paused and for a terrible moment silence filled the Great Hall as heavy as ten feet of water. "Marshall Lemmon of the Kingdom of Seldor."

There was an explosion of cheers from an isolated box on the north side of the hall where House Rose and its sycophants were jumping from their seats, cheering and embracing. The rest of the chamber fell into stunned silence. Val shook his head in confusion. Did she really say Marshall Lemmon?

Slowly, a barely audible chorus of nays could be heard rising from the crowd. But as more voices joined, the entire circular chamber was soon buzzing with displeasure. Who voted for him? There were some who seemed pleased by the result, even a few surlords from Rocklands, but as far as he could tell they were the far minority. Call him polarizing, I suppose.

There was clamoring below and Val saw that, amidst the rain of yays and nays, the Calazars were marching quickly and angrily out of the Great Hall. All those in their way jumped quickly aside.

A forceful hand spun Val by the shoulder. His father looked pale. "We need to go," he said. All of the mirth and good humor was gone from his eyes. Val swallowed a stubborn knot and nodded anxiously.

The Roses have retaken the Union. Everything would be different. He followed his father's brisk steps toward the doors.

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NOTE: You have reached the end of Part 1 of 4. Congratulations! What have you thought so far? Who did you expect to win the seat of the supreme chancellor? What do you think will happen now? Will there be war? Who will fight on whose side? Stay tuned for the rest. I will continue to add more section of this rather lengthy saga.

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