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For The Strength of Youth

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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by natalie jamison on 21 February 2007 - 3:36pm.

Dozens of eager bodies crowded the entrance to the Grand Hall, men and women of various positions and occupations, conversing and searching for a place to sit. Thirty-six wooden pews sat in two rows facing the front of the elaborate gold and ivory room, creaking and groaning each time someone sat upon them. The golden marble floor danced with hundreds of reflected colors as people scurried back and forth down the isle between the pews, searching for the closest seat they could find. No one paid any attention to the child squeezing in and out of the babbling herd; Rendon found himself nearly forced to crawl on the floor as he struggled to get by the bank owner’s robust wife. Finally, he broke free of the commotion and sprinted to the front of the Hall, closing the small gate that separated the audience from the main floor as quickly as possible. He found a tall man standing there - he had a strong, somewhat stoic face, and Rendon tugged on the hem of his black leather jacket. “Dad, what’s going on? Why are there so many people here today? There’s never this many.”

Before his father could answer, the pair was approached by Madame Angelier, a kind, wise woman whose deep brown eyes and skin reminded Rendon of the ebony statue his mother used to own, especially with the tall rectangular headpiece that sat gloriously on her head. Rendon was sure his mother would have liked Madam Anglier, very much. Madame Angelier smiled broadly – the kind of smile where it seems every single tooth and gum must be showing - and said hello to Rendon. She then turned to his father. “He is growing up so quickly – everyday, it seems. How ever do you keep up with him, General?”

The General let a hint of a smile escape his lips. “I manage, Madame.”

“Yes, well, it is never too early to dawn the insignias of greatness. Remember that.” The last part she said to Rendon, looking him strait in the eye. As she began to take her leave, Madame Angelier turned once more. Her face was more stern. “You watch him, Gregory. He may become something greater than us all if we watch him.” Looking briefly at Rendon and smiling, she continued her august stride across the shimmering marble floor, her long scarlet robes trailing just behind her.

“Whatever,” Rendon whispered to himself as he rolled his eyes, then tugged on his father’s jacket more persistently. “Dad?”

General Valor placed a gloved hand on his son’s shoulder and bent down just enough for Rendon to hear. “Go sit down, Rendon. The trial will start soon.”

Rendon did as he was told, though he wasn’t satisfied with the answer given him. The small wooden chair squeaked slightly as he sat; he glanced to his left at his father’s chair. The back stood tall, carved out of a beautiful dark wood, as were the arms; various detailed vines and other elaborate designs were cut into the polished wood, from the crest at the top to the toes of the legs. Most of the back and the seat were padded with red velvet and stuffed with feathers. This chair was one of two that sat at either end of a semicircle of similar grandiose chairs. All but three were made of polished wood; the three golden chairs at the head of the semicircle sat taller than the rest and were padded with a deep purple velvet. The tallest and most ornate of the three was known as the Master Chair. This semicircle was where the Council sat - powerful and highly trusted men and women, like Rendon’s father, who sat from week to week listening to various cases, disputes, or business happenings, then amongst one another deciding the best solution or sentence. It was also where any diplomatic or political decisions were made. Here, Rendon also sat week after week in his little chair. It was not custom to allow children in the Grand Hall, but Rendon was found sitting at his father’s side many times, but only during trials. No one opposed or reprimanded it; the twelve-year-old boy sat still with his hands in his lap, watching and listening to each case brought before the Council. Perhaps it was partly by his behavior that he was allowed to stay, but Rendon knew that it was his father’s reputation that granted him the privilege.

Rendon’s father, along with some of the other members of the council, took their seats in the semicircle. From the tall door behind the Head Chair entered three more individuals. Rendon recognized them as the Council Head, which consisted of Chief Councilman Jjorin, Chief Councilwoman (Madame) Angelier, and Master of Council Affairs, Chancellor Connise, who took his seat in the Master Chair. Councilman Jjorin wore identical red robes to those of Councilwoman Angelier; and while Chancellor Connise’s were of identical style, his creamy white robes seemed to glow beneath the light of the Hall.

After a few moments, Rendon watched as Chancellor Connise stood and raised his hand high in front of him. The murmur of the crowd slowly began to cease – it reminded Rendon of thunder and how it slowly fades until the whole sky is silent again; normally, only the shuffling feet of stragglers trying to find a seat could be heard by those close enough. Today, however, whispers continued to float around the hall, and Chancellor Connise continued to stand, hand in the air, much longer than he was usually enticed to do so. Despite the lingering whispers, the loud resonance of the large double doors at the side of the hall being unlatched rang throughout the room. The room behind these doors was used to hold the accused or criminal individual before the trial. The heavy doors opened slowly, and four guards entered, guns draped behind their shoulders, dressed in their formal black uniforms and high boots. It was the same uniform Rendon’s father had dawned so long ago, before Rendon could remember.

Two of the guards took their place at the inside ends of the last pews, encompassing either side of the isle. The other two turned and walked down the isle, stopping at the small gate that Rendon had entered through earlier, and stepping to either side.

After this showcase, six more people emerged from the doorway . Rendon sat high in his chair, as high as he could without seeming impetuous; he soon recognized three men as scientists, each wearing a bland light-blue uniform. The two in the back were more guards. The remaining individual in the middle looked like a…

Rendon slowly slid back down into his chair as two of the scientists took their reserved places in the audience, and the other walked through the gate followed by a young girl with her hands in cuffs. Rendon was thrown for a loop – never had any child been inside the Great Hall, other than himself, not even to be tried. They had a juvenile council for that, one that Madame Anglier oversaw.

The pair was seated at the table to the left, the one allotted for the accused in cases where someone had been wronged. The girl sat down with her back flat against the chair. She stared down at the table; her smooth dark brown hair that hung at her jaw line was cut very unevenly, but it shimmered. Although her hair swooped forward, the soft locks could not hide a fair face complete with a gently sloped nose, full pink lips, and dark gray eyes trimmed by long dark eyelashes. She was thin, but not sickly; the black pants and long sleeved shirt she wore clung tightly to her skin. Rendon sat just feet from the table and took in every detail he could about this girl who could not have been much older than he was.

Rendon glanced up at his father once again. Captain Valor sat tall in his seat as he always did, arms set squarely on both chair arms and chin held high; normally, his eyes would be straight forward or towards the Master Chair. But today, he was looking at the girl. Rendon saw something different in his father’s eyes - they seemed angry and sad all at the same time. It wasn’t like his father to reveal so much emotion, though most would not recognize it as such. Only Rendon knew when his father was troubled. He wanted to reach up and ask his father what was wrong, but knew better once a trial had started. Instead, he returned his attention to the girl; she continued to stare down at the table, still as stone.

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