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As Ian walked into the meeting chamber with his father, his chest swelled with pride. Today he would stand at his father's side during the council meeting as he announced the return of the Artifact. He could only imagine the great rejoicing that would occur.

Ian got a few side glances from the council members as they shook each other's hands, and said their hellos. He casually smiled and greeted along with everyone else, but he understood the question in their eyes. Only when testimony was given did someone other than an elected member enter the meeting hall. They must be wondering what I'm a witness to. His insides filled to bursting over the secret he kept. How happy they will be!

As Jorah and the other members took their seats, Ian looked around the spacious room. To the left of where Ian stood, floor to ceiling embroidered wall tapestries hung on the high walls between four large windows that looked out onto the ocean and over the city. Created through the decades, the tapestries told the tales of their people. Ian remembered the solemn lessons he learned when he was brought here as a child both with his parents and his teachers.

He scanned the stories. But there are more then lessons pictured there. There are also times of celebration. Perhaps this celebration will be added one day, he thought as his gaze ended at one on the opposite wall currently being worked on.

Ian stood tall and straightened his shoulders as his father called the meeting to order.

"Fellow council members," Jorah said as he looked over the men and women that sat around the ancient oval table, "Today is an auspicious day. Today my son had brought home the Artifact."

A thick eager silence filled the room as Ian reached down and pulled the covered box from it's hiding place under the table. Gasps erupted when he sat the Artifact on the table and removed the cloth.

The unique box blazed with color as if it too was delighted to be home. Each jewel lighting from within threw its bits of color onto the golden swirls of the beautiful antique.

Tears came to everyone's eyes at the beautiful sight of their treasure back in their oceans. Even the gruffest of men wiped at them without embarrassment.

Loud applause broke out and one after another, the council stood in respect for the feat Ian had accomplished. The compliments swirled around Ian.

"Surely this is a great day!"

"It is home, the Artifact is home."

"I knew you could do it, boy!"

When they became silent, Ian gave them all a slight bow. "It was for the honor of my people I hunted it. It was for love of them I continued when all hope was lost. And it is for their heartsease that I return with it in hand."

After another round of applause, Tiburon of the Great White Clan shouted out with a voice as rough as one would imagine a shark would have, "Have you checked it for the cure yet?"

"No," Jorah said, "I thought it more fitting to do that here, with all of you. But the Artifact is, as you can see, in excellent condition."

Carefully, Jorah picked up the box and turned it over. After a glance to all those in anxious suspense, he slid open the secret compartment. His face lost all color as he stared at the empty place it should be. Not believing his eyes, he put his hand to the black lining but felt only its dark silkiness.

Jorah lifted his wide eyes to the rest of the table as he shook his head.

Ian stared in shock at the empty case, his body numbing at the sight. How could this be? All the work, all the years, only to find it empty? Surely it is important to have the Artifact back, but to have its most important part missing?

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