The Chief Councilor was not a simple soldier. He was not a follower, but a leader practiced in the ways of power. He was a senior politician, used to tricks, manipulations, maneouverings, his opponents’ and his own. This was not a man easily trifled with or stared down. This was a man who could be persuaded, only if he could be made to clearly see his own advantage. Caela could do that. She could show him in clear imagery and well placed words exactly what he had to gain, and what losses he would no longer need to fear or calculate. Caela was not a politician, had never seen herself as a leader, or a follower. She knew the human mind. She understood the inner workings of will and desire. Power may think itself an irresistible force. When it meets calm acceptance, wrapped in well-reasoned, irrefutable logic, power can become a sheepish child happy to find common ground, if that power is backed by intelligence.
The Chief Councilor is an intelligent man. He can acknowledge Caela’s wisdom, in his own self-interest. In this case, how fortunate, it is enlightened self-interest, a win-win-win for himself, his constituents, and Caela’s.
Toriv and the children sit in the anteroom while the principles palaver. They do not feel assured of their fate. Fear, though, mingles with hope, a most potent cocktail keeping them still, locked in their long moments of anticipation.
In the Chief Councilor’s chambers, something akin to a miracle seems to him to be taking place. Even before she spoke, this strange, primitively dressed old woman has pulled from him his total attention. He feels he would not be able to turn from her nor tune out one iota of her message even should he be able to form such a desire. So much more than compelling, this is the most immediately real experience he has ever known.
“I am Caela, of the witchfolk.” Her words enter his mind accompanied with rich imagery, a gestalt of intent and comprehension.
“You do not need to be told of my journey, nor my history. You need to know that together we can come back from this mess between our people. We can all gain from each other, and become the one people we are meant to be.
Someday, after the immediate wounds have healed, scarred over, my people, the exiles, or your people of this city, or both, will make inroads into the land between. Those of the witchfolk here are few and dwindling. They have shown serious concern to improve their numbers through social experiments designed to increase procreation. I know you have noted and were nervous about this. But my point, they are dwindling. You could round them up or let them be. They would all but disappear over time. Yet the time bomb still exists to your South. I tell you this to let you know I come not as an outside agitator nor advocate for others. I have a stake in this outcome. My agenda is open to you. By the time the people I have been a part of reunite with these of the city, the rift needs to have been healed. The reuniting must come as separated kin coming together in celebration.”
Caela’s imagery, more than convincing of her conviction, flows, eloquent. Chief Councilor Jorel (proudly named for his spaceship captain ancestor), finds himself to be fascinated, eagerly awaiting what may come next sparking from her intelligence to his.