The shattered remains of the doors had been removed, and the framework within the chorazin had been rebuilt enough for canvas to be hung over the opening. Six Bero'thai stood guard in front.
Jase let his gaze sweep across the rest of the Dome and pursed his lips grimly. The carpets had been removed from the area of battle. So had the tables and other furniture that had been damaged. To him, the emptiness of those areas was as bad as if they'd still been covered with blood. Everyone knew what had taken place; removing what had been ruined only served to show how far into the Dome the Darklings had come.
He frowned. By now, the rumors about the battle had likely tripled the true awfulness of it all. From the way most of the delegates were looking around the Dome, it may as well have still been littered with bodies.
He and the others reached the tribunal area and moved to their seats along the outside of the curving table where they could face the lesser judges and the five tiers of seats rising behind them. Thorac moved to a cluster of tables to the left of the tiers and was joined by the ambassadors of Elva and Zeka. The Bero'thai, arrows notched in their bows, fanned out around the main table and took up positions where they could watch the proceedings.
Jase found his nameplate and took his seat, not at all pleased to be sitting near the center of the table. He'd hoped for a seat near either end where he could stay mostly out of the collective line of sight. Here, he may as well have a sign painted on his forehead. Or a target.
To his right, three empty seats displayed nameplates for Gideon, Randle, and Cassia. The half-moon shape of the table made it possible to see the faces of each delegate, and he followed them around the bend. Endil occupied the seat next to Cassia and was followed by Elliott and Talia. The next four seats were empty, but smooth orbs of polished blue crystal the size of an apple sat next to each nameplate. Communicator Stones. Ta'shaen-activated talismans linked to sister stones in one of the other large cities. He could see the names Agisthas and Marik on the first two, but the following two weren't visible.
Stalix Geshiann and the other three Chief Judges finished out the last four seats, and Jase studied them intently. Judge Zeesrom met his gaze and nodded a greeting. Jase returned the nod before looking to his left.
Croneam Eries and Elison Brey occupied the two closest seats. They were followed by Seth, Andil, and Elders Nesthius and Zanandrei. The last three seats were empty, but Communicator Stones sat next to the nameplates. He could just make out the name on the nearest: General Crompton of Capena.
He faced forward once more and sat back in his chair, letting his eyes travel across the five tiers rising before him. A hundred and forty-four seats made up the twelve lesser councils, but he doubted more than a handful would know who he was if not for the nameplate. Their curiosity was evident as they studied him and the other newly appointed members of the council. He did his best to regard them coldly, letting his eyes sweep across them with feigned indifference. It was the only way he could keep his knees from knocking together.
The flat-eyed stares of the twelve lesser judges sitting at the other table were harder to ignore. They resented his being where he was and were doing little to hide their contempt. He met their gazes squarely and even managed a mocking smile. He was pleased to see them scowl.
Next to him, Croneam chuckled. "Good boy," he said softly. "Let those pig-headed fools know you don't think much of them."
Jase cast a sideways glance at the old general. "What else can I do?" he whispered. "I feel like a bug about to have body parts removed by a group of malicious children."
Croneam chuckled again but said nothing.
A moment later Elison rose and whistled sharply. "Delegates of Trian," he said, "please rise and welcome Randle Fairimor, High King of Kelsa and Keeper of the Blue Flame."