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   Chapter 19 Councilor

Councilor: Book Six of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15733

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:45

Chapter 19

Elena made her way back to the section of town housing the councilors, angling her course towards Riko's domain. As she began to climb the stairs, Elena looked towards her grandfather's home wondering what course of action he would be taking. That he could be ruthless, she knew as fact, but that ruthlessness was always turned outwards in defense of the family. She didn't know if he could turn it towards his daughter and granddaughter.

"Of course it would still be in defense of his family." Elena shook her head, glad that she was able to pass that task on to him. She felt a mixture of relief and guilt at the thought of making her grandfather deal with Therese, but didn't know how to alleviate either. Therese certainly wasn't going to listen to her. She paused in her climb and noticed that both Elizabeth and Therese were stepping out of Alexandro's house, neither looking happy. She saw Marcus in the doorway instead of her grandfather and knew the fact he did not see them out himself did not bode well. It was the type of slight he used when his temper flared, a sign that you were not worth his respect and could be dealt with by underlings.

Therese and Elizabeth both seemed in a temper as well and barely gave Peter a glance as they stormed past him. Elena didn't think they even noticed his bodyguard Thomas shift position so that he was between Peter and the two women. They also didn't notice her as they moved towards town, for which Elena was grateful. As they headed away, Elena saw a figure move from the shadows to follow them back into town. Peter spotted her and waved before beginning his climb to Alexandro's door. She waved back and continued her way up to Riko.

"Apparently Grandfather is moving fast, " she thought as she reached the top of the stairs.

Like her grandfather, Riko seemed to exist in isolation, her assistant/bodyguard Edgar as her only companion. Remembering that she had at least one doctor traveling with her to monitor her condition, Elena thought Riko's isolation was due to their meeting. She suspected Riko tended to favor keeping an entourage around under normal circumstances.

"Do you mind business first?" Riko asked once the greetings were through and the two of them were seated.

"That would be fine, " Elena told her. The elderly councilor looked frail, and her garments somehow too heavy for her body. The heavily beaded and embroidered tunic shirt seemed like a weight and Elena had the impression that if she slipped the garment off, Riko would float away like an untethered balloon. The thought was oddly disturbing and Elena pushed it aside. As frail as Riko looked, Elena mentally admitted she didn't look any worse than the last time they spoke.

"Perhaps the tropical heat of Haven is good for her, " Elena thought as Edgar poured them each a cup of tea. Once they each had a cup he quietly left the room, only the snick of the closing door in the hall behind him making any noise. When he was gone, Riko took a sip of her tea and then looked directly at Elena. Elena tried to resist the urge to scoot back away from those eyes. There was strength burning in them as though they pulled the vitality from the rest of her body leaving a husk around them so that she could maintain. Here, she could see Riko's strength undiminished.

"Once, I chastised you for being too direct instead of playing the Council game, " Riko began.

"I remember, " Elena said into the silence she left behind. The meeting took place on the DF and Elena was quaking inside as Edgar showed her into the sitting room.

"You told me then that you did not think dancing around the topic at hand would be a benefit to you in that moment. I thought you naive as I have always relied on subtlety and games, as well as others willingness to play them, to achieve my goals. It is somewhat of a strange feeling to realize that I too have come to a point where directness will better serve me."

Elena thought the councilor was being anything but direct, but nodded politely just the same. She took a sip of her tea and waited as Riko seemed to gather herself.

"I am dying, " Riko said finally. She seemed almost taken aback by her own words and shook her head slightly. "That is the first time I have heard that out loud, " she told Elena. "I have never said it to myself and doctors, " Riko gave a dry little chuckle and waved her hand dismissively.

"Doctors do not like to admit that they can be foiled by death. They favor words like management and coping and other such nonsense, inserting long jumbled technical sounding terms just to avoid saying what we all know to be true. I am dying." She leaned back in her chair as

ged for Elizabeth's death."

"After she arranged for the death of my parents, " Elena replied letting Riko know she was not giving Elena new information. She did not want to be in Riko's debt, even at this stage of her life. She held the woman's gaze and reminded herself to breathe slow and steady as if the death of her parents was an everyday topic. Riko nodded with approval.

"What is done is done, " Riko said dismissively. "We must all live with the consequences we create. Will you agree to assist me in this?"

Elena took a deep breath and let it out slowly, thinking and rapidly recalculating. "In the beginning, I partnered with you because I felt there was little choice. Opening a new channel and controlling most of the pilots who could also open new channels would have made me a threat to the Council if I had not shown that I was weak enough to need an alliance with a powerful councilor. I am no longer in that position, therefore I do not need to hold to the initial and now null agreement we had before. However I would consider trading a favor for a favor."

"Would you?" Riko asked seemingly amused. "And what favor would you ask of me?"

"Your vote, " Elena replied. "Soon I will bring a matter before the Council. When it is voted upon, I want to count on your vote." Elena could practically see the wheels turning in Riko's head.

"There are now eight Councilors, if one includes you, " Riko replied. "If you called a vote, more than likely both your grandfather and Peter would side with you making my vote a guaranteed fifty percent for your side as you would also vote for any proposition you presented."

"Making one less councilor to sway if it comes to that."

"True enough." Riko replied. "I doubt you would raise a vote in Council if it were not of something of dire importance to you or your House. And as agreeing to my favor would make most of my House part of your House, it would be in my own best interest to assist you." Riko smiled, it was a sly look. "It hardly seems fair though. I would not want you to feel taken advantage of so I will add this, when you call a vote for whatever it is you have planned, my vote is yours. In addition, there are several on the Council who owe me favors. Most I believe are hoping I will die before I call them in. When your vote comes, I will do my best to sway them to your side. It will lessen the amount of persuasion you need to bring to bear and decrease the likelihood of you becoming indebted to them, which would also be to my benefit."

Elena blinked in surprise at Riko's offer. Riko laughed darkly. "I cannot take the favors owed to me with me, " she pointed out. "I can only use them to benefit my family before I am gone. Besides, I do not like the thought of letting people believe they can escape paying what they owe me simply by outliving me. I think I will find it amusing to collect their debts."

"In that case, I accept, " Elena replied. "A favor for a favor."

"A deal is struck, " Riko replied. The words were spoken with such finality that Elena was almost willing to swear the planet momentarily stood still.

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