Word from the South
Gideon watched the last of the delegates pass out of the Dome, then waited for the two warders to close the doors behind them before turning back to the thirty-six members of the Kelsan High Tribunal. The twelve lesser judges were clearly unhappy with what had taken place. So were Judge Geshiann and the two who'd sided with him. Only Judge Zeesrom seemed unperturbed by the outcome. A good man, he decided. And one deserving of a reward.
He glanced up at the empty tiers and smiled. The sight of so many people rising to show their support of the vote had been marvelous to behold, but he wasn't overly surprised by their reaction. If there was one thing he had learned over the past three centuries, it was that nothing raised the flag of unity among the normally quarrelsome politicians faster than the spilling of Kelsan blood, especially when some of it was theirs. The grim-faced determination with which they'd stared down the judges gave him hope for winning the war.
He turned his attention to the blue, semi-transparent images of the Communicator Stones and inhaled deeply. It didn't take a tremendous amount of Earthpower to make them work, but so many over such a long distance would be draining if he had to maintain the link for very long. And without Dymas at the other ends to ward the links, the enemy might be able to listen in on the conversation.
As if sensing his thoughts, Randle rose to address the council. "Members of the High Tribunal," he said, "I am grateful the vote was unanimous. It would pain me to think we had division among us." His voice held a hint of sarcasm, and he looked pointedly at the judges before continuing. ANow that Military Law and Power is official, I am going to dismiss all but the members of the Wartime Council and those few members who are vital to our success against this growing evil." He turned to the glowing images of the three Governors. "We will be in touch by means other than the Communicator Stones until such time as Dymas can be found to secure your end of the link. Thank you for your support." He nodded, and Gideon let the three stones wink out.
Randle turned to the lesser judges. "I'm sure Judgment Seat Geshiann will keep you informed as to the proceedings of the Core Council," he said dryly. "If we need your assistance for anything, we'll let you know." His voice was curt and dismissive, and Gideon was pleased with the effect it had on the judges. Scowling, they retrieved their papers and began making their way out of the room. Chief Judges Arivata and Gerdon moved to join them.
Judge Zeesrom, however, stopped at Gideon's shoulder and leaned close. "Beware of those fourteen," he whispered. "They are not pleased with how things have gone."
"And you?" Gideon asked, arching an eyebrow.
Zeesrom placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. "I am glad you are back," he said softly. "My knowledge and influence as a Chief Judge are at your disposal. If that fails, you shall have my sword."
"Thank you," Gideon said and watched Judge Zeesrom move off. It was obvious he was in no hurry to catch up to his colleagues. Not surprising since he had acted in opposition to them all. He shook his head in admiration at the man's courage. As soon as this meeting was over, he would speak with Randle about offering Zeesrom protection. He turned to find the King watching him.
"We'll look out for Zeesrom," Randle whispered, then glanced down the table. "Elder Zanandrei," he called, but Elder Nesthius raised a hand to stop him.
"With your permission," the aging High Priest said, his papery voice tired. "I would like him to stay. I need him to help me get around. And besides," he said, his face pinching into a smile, "I might not be around long enough to see this war through to its end anyway. Since Elder Zanandrei will be my replacement, let this be his training."