“I have a more appealing alternative,” Habrival snapped. “Assign a fully trained mage or two to this investigation. Put somebody in charge who actually knows what they’re doing. It is ridiculous that we have allowed this Receptor to remain in the Storm Corps’ hands for this long! We need to put an end to this nonsense, and now!”
“Olorin Habrival, need I remind you that you were in charge of this investigation prior to the appointment of Atavame Mekoval?” replied Evila. “You were given three months to locate the missing Receptor after Sindunar Berevay failed to recover it at the Vanmorzen manor. A commanding majority of this body, including every Olorin aside from you, agreed that your investigation was a complete waste of time. Now, if you would like to make a motion to hold another vote on whether control of the investigation should return to you, I will happily second that motion, if only out of curiosity at how badly you will lose the vote this second time.” Habrival’s face flushed angrily, and he opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, the Honesival cut him off.
“Olorin Habrival, before you say something that you will regret, I would like to intervene for two reasons. First of all, Olorin Evila, I would remind you that the rules of decorum of this chamber apply to you as well as they do to Olorin Habrival.” Evila bowed her head in contrition, but the serene look on her face never changed. “Secondly, I suspect that further discussion of this matter would be unprofitable, therefore I motion that we close discussion and bring the matter to a vote.”
“Seconded,” said Evila immediately.
“Very well,” the Honesival said. “All in favor of the proposal to contract a thief clan to infiltrate a Storm Corps base and retrieve intelligence indicating the location of the Receptor?” About two-thirds of the hands in the room were raised, including three of the four Olorin and that of the Honesival. “All opposed?” Less than a third of the hands were raised, including that of Habrival. “The ayes have it. Atavame Mekoval, you have permission to carry out your plan. Sindunar Berevay, would you please escort the Atavame back to her quarters?”
“At once, Honesival,” Shalor said with a bow. He motioned for Alessandra to follow him, and she did so, gladly. As she left the Sutorlah chamber, she glanced back at the dais one more time, and noticed that once again, Habrival was staring at her with hatred in his eyes.
“So what’s Habrival’s problem?” Alessandra asked as they stepped into the inival. Shalor looked at her quizzically for a moment, with his head cocked and a small smile playing around the edges of his lips.
“You really are something, you know that?” he finally said after a long pause. “You just stood before the Sutorlah for the first time, presented a proposal to them without any preparation, and had that proposal accepted, and you’re just as cool as a block of ice. How do you do it? I’m in the Sutorlah, and I still get the shakes every time I have to stand up in front of them!”
“Maybe I just didn’t know I was supposed to be nervous?” Alessandra said with a shrug. “I mean, I was nervous when I was standing up there, but I didn’t seem to have a choice. Now it’s over, so why would I still be nervous?”
“Good point,” Shalor said, shaking his head with a smile.
“You never did answer my question,” Alessandra pressed.
“I’m pretty sure you know Habrival’s ‘problem’, as you put it,” Shalor shrugged. “He’s mad that the Receptor investigation was taken away from him and given to you. Nothing else to it.”
“I don’t know,” Alessandra said thoughtfully. “When he looked at me, it was as if he hated my very existence.”
“That’s just his personality,” Shalor said with a laugh. “He hates everybody. Then again, most people hate him, so it balances out well.”
“If everyone hates him, why is he so high ranking?” Alessandra asked.
“He’s clever, he’s a skilled mage, and he’s good at politics,” Shalor replied. “He’s actually not as bad as I’ve made him out to be. You just got to see him on a bad day.”
“I guess,” Alessandra said, but she was unconvinced. The two of them walked back to Alessandra’s quarters in silence.
“So what happens now?” Alessandra asked as they reached her door.
“Tomorrow, you and I will make a plan to present to your old thief clan,” Shalor said. “We will brief your friend on the plan the next day, and he will take it back to his clan and they will decide whether they want to do it or not. Once we have their response, we will simply wait to hear the results.”
“So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Alessandra said, and turned to enter her quarters.
“Actually,” Shalor interrupted, “I did have something I wanted to ask you.” Alessandra turned back to him, a quizzical look on her face. “Would you be interested in having dinner with me tonight?”
“Uh, sure!” Alessandra blurted, somewhat taken aback.
“Excellent,” Shalor said, flashing a winning smile. “I will see you this evening then.” He turned and walked away, and Alessandra could do nothing but watch him leave with a somewhat dumbstruck look on her face. Once he was gone, she shook her head, and entered her quarters.
She was only there a few minutes when she decided she had somewhere else she wanted to be. A few minutes after that, she was outside Mikaelo’s door, pressing the button to let him know that he had a visitor. As soon as she pressed the button, she heard his voice yell, “What the heck was that?” Smiling, she walked forward and the door slid open before her.
“That was pretty much my reaction the first time I heard it, too,” she said as she walked into Mikaelo’s room.
To be continued…