24 Arodus, 4718 (Fireday)
At ten o’clock we all gathered in the Senate Gallery to watch the historic vote. My friends and I sat in the small area that Martella had sectioned off from the rest of the gallery. Lady Morilla joined us and we all sipped coffee and listened to the Senators grandstanding on the floor below us. I must say that the biting commentary from Lady Morilla made the whole production much more enjoyable. From what Martella told us most votes were done in a matter of minutes, but this time they had an audience so it was all about the drama. No wonder Remilliard isn’t fond of his position as a senator. I know that Verity had always hoped to become a member of the Senate, but I can say for certain after this whole affair that it is not for me.
After much talking, debating, and everyone being fully aware that none of this would change anyone’s minds on the matter at hand, the vote finally began. I was shocked about the number of senators that merely voted “present” and could see that Martella was concerned as well. I found myself growing tense and it seemed the nays were ahead in the first few minutes, but quickly the tide began to change. I could see Martella visibly relax once it was obvious the vote would fall in Princess Eutropia’s favor. In the end, there were one hundred and seven for, seventy-nine against, and thirty-six that were too cowardly to throw their lot in with either side and voted present.
After this, everyone was asked to return to the courtyard. The senators would spend thirty minutes in a closed session for a recount of the votes. Martella informed us with a little bit of a smirk that this is when those who voted “present” would toss their votes in with the winning side.
Lady Morilla left our group as we made our way from the gallery. Martella led us out of the courtyard and onto the senate grounds. I must say it was a nice evening, and we had a wonderful view of the night sky as we settled into one of the many gazebos. Martella, as always, must have planned for this. There were trays with fruit, cheeses, sliced meats and crackers already laid out, along with a lovely white wine. A Zespire vintage I’m sure.
Here among friends, Martella let her spymaster mask fall, and truly smiled. She gave us all hugs again, thanking us for our help. She and the Princess had been working seven long years for this to happen, and she acknowledged that there was still much work to be done. I was surprised when she asked all of us if we would continue to work with her, and serve the Princess. I am, of course, willing to do what I can to help Princess Eutropia and uphold my promise from so long ago. However, none of us are exactly prominent movers and shakers within the nobility. I am quite sure Martella would have an easy time finding people with more pull than us. She did reiterate that she is the Princess’ only friend. Everyone else that had been close to the Princess either betrayed her, or attempted to use her for political gain. Martella assured me that our skills would be helpful, and what the Princess needed right now was true friends that she could rely on. Unsurprisingly, we all agreed to help, and made plans with Martella to meet her and Princess Eutropia tomorrow after the senate officially recognizes the Princess as the heir apparent.
I did ask her what she thought of the rumors that the Grand Prince may adopt the High Strategos to circumvent Princess Eutropia’s claim to the throne. Martella admitted that this is a possibility, but after tonight’s vote, there would be many legal hoops for Pytharius to jump through before he would be named the heir to the throne. It was a bit of a comfort that if the Grand Prince did adopt him, he wouldn’t immediately be made heir, and it might not ever come to pass.
Martella asked us to deliver a letter to Kalbio of Breezy Creek for her. It seems that his parents could not be in attendance tonight due to the distance they would have needed to travel to be here, even though the Princess offered to pay for their trip and lodgings. Martella departed our company, telling us she needed to speak with Princess Eutropia, and she would see us again after the Grand Prince’s speech along with the Princess. It seems Martella still hasn’t told her that it is us that have been assisting her this evening.
We all made our way into the courtyard after Martella departed. Cornelius took the letter to Kalbio, and the rest of us moved off to chat with other people who could prove allies. I decided to speak with Wyssilka the Fantabulous after Oliver heard that she is quite fond of all sorts of performance skills. The jester seemed like the kind of woman who genuinely cared about the children she performed for, and wanted them to enjoy themselves. I hoped she may have heard some useful information about anyone at the party, but she mostly knew who each child had come with, and what those children seemed to be enjoying about the gala. Honestly some of this information might have proved useful earlier in the evening. I have found most people are willing to speak about their children and this could have made wonderful conversation openers.
At eleven we made our way to the Senate Floor. Martella had arranged for us to have seats in a booth that was normally used by the senate aides that were no longer present now that the vote had been passed.
Not long after we had all been seated, Grand Prince Stavian was escorted onto the stage followed by a host of Ulfen guards. With him stood Kalbio of Breezy Creek, who was all smiles, waving at everyone. His grin widened and he waved a bit more excitedly when he saw Cornelius. Apparently they had a lovely chat, and Cornelius was quite eager to do what he could to assist the young man. I mentioned that I could put him in contact with some of the merchants that frequently worked with my house.
After a moment, The Grand Prince began his speech and it immediately put me on edge. His tone had a sinister lining that tainted every word he spoke. He then began talking about how the nation, that he viewed as his children, had betrayed him by allowing a woman to take the throne. Then in a flash, he pulled a dagger from his hip, and as he was screaming about his daughter, the senate, the entire nation betraying him, he viciously stabbed Kalbio in the stomach over and over again.
Everyone began screaming. Then the doors to the Senate Floor opened, and soldiers dressed in black swarmed inside. They locked the doors behind them, and began indiscriminately slaughtering everyone in their path. It was nothing less than a massacre.
Without thinking, I immediately burst into song, my favorite hymn to Lord Ragathiel, and let the rage he had given me flow through the song. Then I leaped over the banister, attempting to get to Princess Eutropia on the senate floor. Somehow though the din of screams I managed to hear Martella shouting out to the Princess. Kathann, the senate guard that had been helping us, threw off her helmet and called for the Lion’s Blades to defend the senate. I heard myself let out a laugh. Martella did have connections everywhere.
I could hear Cornelius spellcasting, and Verity leaping the banister behind me. I think Felyx was trying to get to Kalbio. Even in the chaos I found myself thinking how like her that was, always trying to help others. I caught a glimpse of my brother, shoving Senator Pace behind him, and taking a blow that would have cleaved her head from her neck on his pauldron. Not far from him, the Grand Strategos had pulled his ax and cleaved one of the attacker’s heads in twain. What I would have done to have an ax at this moment, anything better than the dagger tied uselessly at my hip.
Screaming echoed from the gallery above as well, and suddenly I noticed crossbow bolts raining down from above. The senate floor was now a killing field. I continued to sing as I vaulted over another railing, and that’s when I saw the Grand Prince. He had been laughing this entire time, celebrating the slaughter he had orchestrated. His Ulfen guard tried to pull him away, but he was having none of it. Then he stopped laughing. A crossbow bolt hit him square in the chest. Whether it was a rogue shot from his own mercenaries, or a well placed hit from the Lion’s Blades who had been hidden among us, I care not. I pray to the General that Stavian is dead. May he rot in the Hells.
I made it to the senate floor, a mere fifteen feet or so from the Princess. My dear old friend stood in a state of shock, covered in blood, staring up at the still form of her father as the Ulfen guard began to carry him away. A sudden flash of pain shot through my arm. A bolt from the gallery above had caught me in my shoulder. My song did not falter, but my vision grew white, and I felt a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach. Then, as quickly as everything had gone white, everything went black. The screams were gone, and I was left in pitch black silence.