Chapter 18 – Breakthrough (2)

Breakthrough – Part 2

      Fennis… I hadn’t thought about him recently. I wonder how he’s doing? Surely he found some kind of refuged in the Outerlands. Maybe he was able to put his sword to work for coin. Perhaps he was able to find peace in simpler work, maybe that of a farmer. 

      I’m brought from my reverie by Dom holding up his hand. Like the silence of the One King, it was deafening and commanding. The room immediately quiets down. I take the chance to speak up, to ask him what it is exactly I’m here for.

      “The Zeroth is suppose to be partial to all of this, yes, but we are at a deadlock for who should be brought in to the Knights. We were hoping some consul from the Zeroth to help persuade sides.”

      I can’t help but raise an eyebrow in surprise. Surely they couldn’t expect me to be able to chime in on such matters. I have no idea what goes on in this place. Dom, with a wave of his hand, sends a piece of paper to me. “Those are the names and current responsibilities of nominees. What say you, Zero?” I look from the paper back to Dom, then back to the sheet in my hands.

      Written on the sheet was in fact, only a single sentence. “What would you have us do Zero?”

      I look back up at Dom, then around at the faces of the magnificent people before me. Was this something they were all involved in? Was this a test? By whom? Dom? My gaze ends on him. I clear my throat and approach him. Dom stands aside and offers the podium to me.

      I don’t know what I’m suppose to do here. I open my mouth, but it shuts before words make an appearance. I gaze over at my girls, yet all they return is various smiles. They didn’t seem to understand the turmoil I’m experiencing at the moment. I peek at Dom one last time, yet he simply gives me a reassuring nod.

      “Welp… this is how I believe things should go. Gableal, as Knight Second, you should shift to the First Knight, with everyone else following in suit.” 

      There’s an immediate commotion from the crowd. Gableal simply looks on smugly, but the rest raise obvious concerns.

      “You mean I’d be Knight Nine? I’ll take it.” Talim says while giving me a thumbs up.

      The rest squabble amongst one another and raise objections about how this breaks tradition. “Then you’re going to love this next part.” They fall silent.

      “Ultimately this leaves us with a seat still unfilled. But what this means is the weakest of seats is the one left. That means a newcomer would be able to fill in easier. It is with this, that I recommend Charlotte Rodiger for the Tenth position.”

      The room fills with absolute chaos. Even Kagura is looking at me wide-eyed. Gableal can’t hide his discomfort either.

      “My Lord,” he bellows, “The Commander is but a low-born peasant riding on her father’s reputation. You can’t seriously mean to place her in a position of such value. Traditions were bent well enough to have Sir Talim to take up his seat at such a young age.”

      This causes the room to explode into an even larger roar. The voices bounce around the room, echoing from every which way. They assault me from all sides, closing in on me. The irritation from this whole day, from Kay, from my luck, and this world, all comes out of me in a maelstrom of fury.

      Lightning cracks from my eyes and thunder shifts through the enclosure. The sound is the loudest thing I’ve ever heard before. The others cover their ears, and even Dom’s face twists in pain. “Enough!”

      I shout with everything I can.

      “Enough with your arbitrary b*******! Enough with your traditions!”

      I cut through the crowd with a sword of verbiage-edge. I sling my arms in gestures as I continue, “You are KNIGHTS goddamnit! You lose yourselves in your petty squabbles while your citizenry suffers. We have riots forming in the streets, and war teases our borders. Yet you want to complain about traditions?

      I scan the room, all eyes open in shock. I raise my voice another octave and continue. “Traditions that have dictated this country since its founding? The traditions that put people in their places, forced them to lead lives outside of what they may want? The traditions that divide us, separating us into betters and peasants. Those traditions that will conquer us?”

Only allowed on

      No one speaks, even Dom’s face has taken on a crestfallen shadow. “Do you all not realize what this is? This is how you get dissent to begin with. You spend your entire lives judging others on hands they were dealt with birth. Then you expect them to simply sit idly by while lives hang in the balance? No. No, I will not let you- even if that means tearing down every one of you from your pedestals.”

      I scream while opening my arms wide, taking them all in. “None of you know Charlotte; because she is a ‘peasant’ and you wound yourselves upon your own swords. She will take the tenth seat, and then maybe, maybe, you fools will pull your collective heads out of your asses long enough to fix everything, before the world is consumed in chaos!”

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      The room is deathly silent and no one makes to move. The sparks in my eyes crackles; and from my fingertips erupts small flames- the ground around me is cracked earth. And in this I realize, the elements somehow reacted to me- have been reacting to me since we arrived today, since that flower. I don’t understand why, but I don’t question it. For just this once, this insane world seems to have thrown me a bone. I’m sure all of this has only reinforced my words.

      Dom grabs everyone’s attention by clearing his throat. With all eyes on him, he speaks up.

      “All in favor of the Zeroth’s… motion,” he raises his hand. One after another, everyone else does the same. The last person to follow is Kagura. She simply stares at me with her piercing, hazel eyes.

      With a half smile propping up the side of her lips, she lazily raises her hand. “Motion passed,” Dom says before turning a hidden smile to me.

      Feeling exhausted, I dismiss myself away from the specifics, leaving Rose and the others to work in my stead. They’ll fill me in later. I catch Dom before I leave and request that he follows me. Before long we stand in front of Nina’s door. Dom seems displeased but doesn’t say anything.

      A moment after my knock, Nina gives the ok to come in. Her face brightens up when she sees me, then falls to confusion as a shadow of sadness passes over her features. She straightens up and dons her business persona before asking how she may help us.

      “Nina, Dom here is going to help you with your research to get me home. He’ll provide absolutely anything you need.” The instant the words leave my mouth Nina lets out a gasp.

      An awkward air passes between the three of us before Dom speaks up, “The Zeroth has the right of it, attitude aside. Ninavin, in return for cooperation to help with whatever it is you’re working on, I would like assistance on some of my own research into the Zeroth.” She eyes Dom wearily. It’s an expression I rarely see on her. She’s distrustful of Dom.

      “I see,” is all she says. Before too long she’s handing Dom several packets of papers. He pulls up a stool and starts to skim through them.

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