Hall of Horrors

-- 18th February - Peoples Palace - Late Morning --

This was the third day of debate following the meeting between Stella and Enoch. That afternoon they had set out their plans to the council. They had been open and honest as per Stellas insistence and as Enoch predicted they now had their work cut out for them bringing a consensus to the hall.

"It is clear," Enoch called out, "That the City can not continue in this manner. The people are starving and the Nexus remains closed. We need to reach out to Graymire, to the Elesians there. We know from the remnant that stayed within Dusk, that now work with us to bring peace to the City, we know they can be a people of reason."

"They will be worse off than us." A councilman called out, " I say we starve them out and then take Graymire by force."

"And what of our people that live within those fences? What of the Ashen tribes? Do we let them all starve?" Enoch glanced to Stella for support.

Edward was sitting just behind her and leaned in to whisper, "The man had a point you know. All this debate could have been avoided."

Her eyes shifted to the side and she muttered to Edward. "Sometimes the easiest route isn't always the best." Stella looked to Enoch.
"Using force doesn't gain their trust, does it?" Her voice raised in a stern manner. "If we want to make negotiations they need to trust and believe in us, not fear us. Taking force isn't an option until we have tried everything else. We go in and attempt to make peace, and if that fails we will consider other alternatives. By no means will we bring violence or prejudice into the early stages of this ordeal, is that clear?"

She heard some muttering amongst the men but paid no mind. "You've all been so brainwashed by the old mannerism, the brutality. Not once do any of you think about human decency in problematic situations. I dont care if you disagree or you refuse to stand by it. Hospitality and negotiation comes first from now on and if any of you oppose that I'd gladly take an empty seat over a closed mind."

As she figured, nobody said anything.

"There will be no starvation along with that. What we should've done a long time ago, but we need to begin rationing out the city's food supply equally," she emphasized the last bit. "Hunger leads to frustration, aggravation, and clouded thought. We don't need any more of that here. That food supply counts as our own. We will not eat like kings while the others fight over scraps, no. We will have specific amounts and make due with it, depending on household capacity, of course. A discussion for another time, but nobody will starve as means of advantage," Stella eyed the man who'd suggested it.

"And with that one decree you have created a lucrative black market in Highholm and driven most of the City nobility into criminal activity." Edward commented dryly. She gave him a withering glance. What had gotten into him today? She needed his support not his doubts and criticisms. Maybe she could build off the criticism, but not like this.
He gave her an apologetic smile but took nothing back. Perhaps he was right at that but what was the alternative? Putting aside his concerns for now she returned her attention to the hall.

"We will send our best negotiators as well as heavily armed and capable soldiers to guide and protect. As much as I am against them appearing threatening, we don't know how they behave as of now." She paused for a moment in thought. "Although, they could use that against us as means of untrustworthy grudge. The fear of them and their unpredictable actions is always present no matter how I try to dismiss it. They know that. And they have every reason to throw that at us when we attempt to make peace. We can't afford to be afraid of those we want to be our allies, not right now."

"But if we went in less protected, even if they made any moves, Dusk would become suspicious and send reinforcements who can very well maintain order and right their foolish wrongs?" Enoch offered.

"Indeed. We would still get what we desired." She frowned at this, knowing it would still have the same end result but require much hostility and violence. She didn't completely throw the idea of fighting for your freedom and your lives with force out the window, but it was too inconvenient for her conscience. Or most peoples' with a beating heart. And, in her eyes, too easy. 

Speaking required thought, diplomacy, but the forceful way required what? A trigger happy finger? Armored with anger?
Either way, they needed to reach Elesium. Whether that came easy or crawled on with difficulty was up for debate. Had been for three days already. 
She took a deep breath, everything happening inside the room fading away.

Dusk would not fall under her hand. And seeing how it was before, the only way to go was up.  Stella flinched as a hand grasped her arm, it was Edward leaning towards her looking worried.

"Forgive me, I should have warned you but you needed a clear head and... you can hate me later. I am sorry." 

"What?" she started to ask as Edward slumped back in his seat and the hall doors were opened.The voice of the speaker came from the hallway outside,

"The Hall recognizes Mr. Westley Corbet."

Stella turned to see that familiar figure come limping into the hall, supported by a cane and clearly patched up from some kind of recent trauma. He was propped up by a petite young woman with copper hair and round glasses. Ellis Spink? The youngest daughter of the recently departed councilor?
She let out a quiet, yet pained sigh.


(JP with Hob)

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