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   Chapter 24 Councilor

Councilor: Book Six of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 16143

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:48


Chapter 24

Time seemed to blur in a weird sense as the days passed. At times it felt as though days whirred by with barely room to breathe, at other times Elena felt as though time were standing still. Elena thought it was a little like living in a stop motion animation film. Elena dealt with the last transfers from Riko's House, and worried about the ceremony. She settled the last of James' people, and worried about the ceremony. She deflected all questions about what the Council had planned at the upcoming ceremony, and worried about the ceremony.

Victor's reports became more terse as though he were afraid to commit too much to paper and the last of the pilots sailing for Elena's House were given routes designed to keep them skyside. Arrangements were made with other Houses to pick up information and such from Raymond at Dockside Annie's, but no one who ever visited her office and could potentially be recognized was sent to Grant's Inlet.

The rainy season ended and the day before the ceremony was set to take place, Elena looked out over Haven and was surprised to see Victor walking up the main road, really the only road through town, to her house. Elena stood waiting somehow knowing deep inside what his arrival heralded. Victor smiled ruefully as he climbed the stairs to join her.

"I came aboard the Soaring Gull, " he told her as Elena looked him over. He lost weight and looked slightly harried.

"Tina got tired of waiting?" she asked.

"Yes, " Victor told her. "Both stores, your apartment, and the office were locked down and everyone was taken in for questioning. Roger gave me a warning."

"I'm glad you got away, " Elena told him honestly, feeling a pang in her heart at the thought of her stores closed, their goods confiscated and her people taken in for questioning. She felt guilty about that, but knew that as they knew nothing, they probably wouldn't be held long.

"Come on, " she told him gesturing to the open door. "Let's get you settled and get a good meal in you. It looks like you haven't eaten in weeks." Victor followed her inside and was soon settled in the bedroom Lisa and Bob vacated. He opted for sleep over food and Elena left him to rest.

"I don't suppose he is part of your master plan?" Thompson asked, gesturing towards the closed door.

"Nope, " she told him. "But I have the feeling that despite the fact that I am not cut out to be a criminal, I am now considered a fugitive from the law." She relayed Victor's information and he shook his head.

"No going back for a while then, " he told her.

"Seems that way."

The rest of the day passed fairly quietly. Victor rose and Benjamin showed him around Haven, making certain he got a meal with Consuelo. Periodically, Elena would move to the open door to look out over Haven, watching Rene's staff putting the finishing touches on the platform for the ceremony and adding last minute decorations throughout town. Even if he didn't know quite what the Guild was celebrating, Elena knew Rene seemed determined to make it special.

"This is home now, " she thought to herself as she watched the sun start to sink towards the horizon. She knew everyone said that she wouldn't be going earthside for a while, but Elena was fairly certain that she would never return earthside. As she watched the sun set over the last preparations, Elena found she wasn't as upset as she thought she would be. Most of her childhood was spent skyside, her fondest memories had nothing to do with Earth. Here she didn't have to hide what she was. Like Kiera's people, she was free to simply be what she was.

"If we can just get through tomorrow, " she thought. "I'll be satisfied." Darkness descended, hiding Haven in the night. Elena closed the doors and joined the others as they began to gather for dinner.

Morning came early and despite a restless night, Elena rose with the sun and showered before the others were up so that she could begin her preparations for the ceremony. Her hands were shaking as she fixed her hair and when she slipped on her dress, she had to call Thompson for assistance in getting the back of the dress zipped. Her fingers felt too numb to grasp the little zipper. Her belly felt as though she swallowed a box of frogs and she declined the breakfast Benjamin offered her.

Finally, she found herself standing in front of her mirror, a strong sense of déjà vu filling her as she smoothed down her dress and touched her hair. Her gestures were the same as in her dream and Elena found the thought settled her somewhat. She smoothed the fear and worry from her face, smiling at her reflection. "You can do this, " she told herself. Even though the dream of death had not recurred since the change in the law was passed, Elena would not feel settled on the matter until Mat

ment and Mateo's ratification as his successor, dark spots of color appeared on Elizabeth's cheeks. Elena watched her eyes narrow.

"Mateo Alexandro Andreseti, will you accept your place on the Ruling Council of the Guild of Families?" Evan asked. The crowd was so silent that they could have simply been a painting, a backdrop for a stage set.

"I do, " Mateo replied in a voice designed to carry. Evan ran Mateo through the same ceremonial oath that Elena took less than a year before and as the final words were spoken, Elena could swear she heard the entire crowd exhale. Elena looked over and saw Alexandro descending the stairs. When he reached the bottom, he walked over to stand next to Kiera. Elena smiled as she saw her Aunt Catherine smiling broadly while dabbing at damp eyes. She saw relief written across Mateo's father, Tomas', face and knew he realized there would be no wholesale slaughter of his family when his father-in-law died.

Evan asked Mateo to take his place with the rest of the Council. He stepped into the spot their grandfather just vacated and Evan declared the ceremony over. A cheer went up from the crowd and Elena looked over to where her Aunt was standing. The spot was empty. Elizabeth was gone. Elena descended the stairs with the rest of the Council, losing her eagle eyed vantage point as the crowd swirled in. She saw the other councilors relax as the crowd seemed friendlier then before, indeed a carnival-like atmosphere seemed to have taken over Haven.

She spotted dazed looks on councilor's faces as their hands were shaken and hearty thanks given. Elena hoped it meant fewer accidents for the various councilors in the future. As she allowed herself to be carried along by the crowd towards the massive buffet Consuelo arranged and dance floor Rene built, she hoped that life in the Guild would settle down into steadier rhythms.

"Even if it does, it will be a different pattern than before, " Elena thought. Evan was right. The Guild was changing. She took a drink from a circling tray and took a sip tasting apples. She took in a deep breath and realized that the thrum of tension she felt since her return lessened. It wasn't gone, but it was less. The bands of stress everyone seemed to be wearing loosened. Smiles were broader and felt more genuine.

She could see small gatherings of those in line to potentially sit on the Council one day and knew they were discussing what this change in law meant for them. She saw relief written on the Heads of lesser Houses who knew that they might not face a deadly choice down the road as someone else quested for power. Elena had the feeling that there would be requests for copies of the new law in the morning. She also knew the librarians already arranged for copies to be made, ready and waiting for distribution.

Elizabeth was likely to be trouble, Elena knew. The world had not suddenly become filled with rainbows and roses. Glitter covered unicorns were not running wild in the streets. There would still be some hard battles to fight, some within her own family. But for now the family was safe and secure. She took another sip of her drink. Some days, that was all a person could hope for.

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