3. A Breaking City.

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A Breaking City.

"Rufus! What is the meaning of this? Can't you see that I am in the middle of something?" he glared at the offending assistant.

"I am so sorry my lord, but the North Eastern floor!" the portly assistant who also had a balding head albeit without the greying hair stated. As it was, that was where the similarities ended. What with his extended gut and porcine nature that had him sweating quite notably, on his face and under his blue and golden garbs even as he panted out, heaving all to Havillah's amusement.

"Say no more." The elder said as he turned to glare at his apprentice. "Is the council meeting?" Rufus nodded. "I'll be right there." He added with a flourish before turning to address the girl . "You will read the scroll, you will make short notes and you will not leave this room until I order you to do so."

"Yes master." Havillah responded, eyeing the huge scroll in her hands with a disheartened look in her eyes.

"The paper and the ink are in that desk," he said as he pointing to the huge desk. A beautiful thing that was made of ivory and decorated with gold leaves all over. "You will also find the quilts inside there, and Havillah..." he hesitated for a moment.

"Yes master." the girl responded with a swivel even as she turned to look at her mentor who with his dark eyes was regarding her with a look so diabolical and a smile so cynical that it sent down a wisp of chilly fingers down her weary spine.

"No Virtue. Understood?" Havillah nodded. "Great." the elder responded and with that he flicked his hand once again and disappeared in swish of gold and purple satin.

When the elder finally reappeared, it was a second later and in the huge domed chamber that housed the council of Elders, the Keepers of the Sanctuary and of the ways of the Great. Like the rest of the Sanctuary, the room was all gold, apart from the crystal lighting fixtures  aglow with ethereal light as they hung from a gold and ivory caisson and the floors which glimmered with the light of the Hope of Triberias. The furniture was also made of gold with yellow chairs that were cushioned with cloud essence and covered in a lustrous white silk. Ivory pillars hang around every corner gilded with the same vine like design that marked the Triban robes and at the centre of it all, lay the centre piece.A huge oval table that was made of a glowing crystal top and golden stands that seemed to be erupting from glowing crystalline floor. There were no windows and as the elder looked around, more elders began to appear, some taking their designated seats around the oval table while the rest  chose to stand around and wait for the rest.

"Can we begin?" the Chamberlain said as he appeared at the end of the table. His was a different look yet not so different from the rest, apart from the golden embroidery on his purple fabric that somehow seemed more elaborate. The golden threads in his pattern appeared to glow, even as the vines that made  up the pattern continued stray away from edges and the hems, sending forth tendrils that bore shoots that were yet to bud.  The rest of the council pulled out their seats and sat down. The elders being eleven excluding the Temple chamberlain who managed the Sanctuary affairs and allowed their number to come up to twelve.

"Why does this keep happening?" a female elder, one with caramel skin and grey hair and eyes the colour of silver grumbled even as she directee her question to the chamberlain. She was the youngest of the lot, but was also able to wield both her Virtues quite admirably.

"I believe it has something to do with the inner Sanctum and the reason why it remains closed." Said the middle aged Chamberlain, his blue eyes weary, his black hair streaked with several strands of greying hair and a tired expression that would not leave his pale face.

"But it has been closed for the last four hundred years, since the age of the last Ancient and our ascension to Triberias?" another elder voiced and the Chamberlain turned to look at him tiredly.

"Yes and since then the floors have been slowly wearing out." He replied.

"True." Elder Lionel voiced. "But the process is now accelerated, don't you agree?" The Chamberlain nodded. "Do you believe me now?" the elder turned to regard each of his colleagues with a meaningful look in his dark eyes.

"Lionel, are you trying to say that the Great have become impure and that Triberias is now purging us?" the female elder asked.

"What other explanation is there? Have you seen the scales? Every passing year the new-borns fade faster, the Virtue is not as strong as it used to be and the number of those that carry only one Virtue is higher than it has ever been."

"Elder Lionel is right. Since the last Ancient there has been no one to carry the third Virtue and the balance has been disturbed. We need to do something to restore that balance otherwise Triberias will destroy us." The Chamberlain remarked.

"Even you think so?" the female elder protested again.

"Tamaar, it doesn't matter what we think. It is happening and we have to do something about it."

"Lionel! Are you even listening to yourself? You want us to start exiling our own people just because they lack one Virtue? Those are not the teachings of the Great Ancients nor is it the way of the Great and Eternal Light."

"Tamaar, the way of the Eternal Light says that we strive to have all three Virtues and they have only one Virtue, that means that they are not Great. Their blood has been tainted. Even the scales say so!"

"I say we put it to a vote." The Chamberlain said eyeing the two feuding elders tiredly. Tamaar huffed and Lionel grinned knowingly knowing fully well what the outcome would be. One by one each elder scribbled a piece paper and dropped the lots into the decision bowl. Tamaar eyed them all angrily, but even she wrote on her own piece of paper and dropped it in the crystalline bowl.

The Chamberlain covered the bowl and the papers floated in a thin white mist before finally settling. The decision had made. Elder Lionel smirked at Tamaar and she glared back him.

"One day this decision will come back to bite you back, I assure you. You will regret the day that you cast those lots!" with that she flicked her hand and disappeared in a swirl of purple and gold.

Slowly, the Chamberlain rose to his feet and locked gazes with the ten remaining elders.

"I guess that's all for today... the decision," he paused as displeasure welled up in his face. "... will be implemented forthwith." The elders nodded each their head before leaving for their chambers or whatever it was that they had been doing before they were summoned there.

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