It is smokey, and dark, around the table. Candles pick through the gloom. It has been long minutes since anyone spoke last.
“I have no particular issue with the idea. I wonder if we have the man power to do it.” Mobley finally speaks. “No one can argue the benefit to Stormhaven, in general.” Stirring his tea, he pauses to consider his own words. “It would shorten the route from St. Callister’s to Serenissima. River barges could take the Orin, instead of the Therin, which would be far faster and safer. And there would be no portage at the Cymbals.”
Danel harrumphed. “The canal is far from clear, we’d have to dredge it, or something, before any barge could travel it.” A shrug, then, “But that is an observation rather than a objection.” Danel sighs, and rubs one arm—still sore from the drunken wrestling at the end of sunfall. “I hate the plan on the principle that it was theirs, not for the merits of it itself.”
“They do seem a bit impulsive, Danel. I can see how their disruption would annoy you.” Eoso pushes the hood of his cloak back, leaning more into the candlelight. “You all know my objections: no more than five hundred here.”
“Are the old oaths still in force, after all this time?” Errol, now.
Eoso nods, and pulls the sleeve back from his left arm. “I do believe they are, yes.” The skin shows blackened and crusted with blood. A sharp intake of breath and Bedwyr whispers “What did that?”
“The old injury, nothing more. It is Katirat – autumn – and so the ancient past rises up to remind me of obligations.” Flexing his fingers briefly, and wincing at the tickles of pain, Eoso shakes his head and tugs his sleeve to cover his hand.
“Bedwyr, what of the city?” Danel speaks up. “Will they object?”
“I can’t speak for them, you know that. I can ask, but I can tell you now what they’ll say.” Bedwyr sips his wine to wet his mouth. “No actions of ours will affect their ways. We are welcome on their lands, but that does not mean they won’t take from us.”
“So the docks must clear at sundown, then. Fair enough.”
“Not just sundown.” Which causes a raised eyebrow from Errol “They probably won’t act, during the day, on the docks. But there is no guarantee. Inland, though, if anyone is foolish enough to walk the streets – ” He shrugs, raising his hands.
Danel again, “So we know the risks, and can warn the boatmen. Anyone stupid enough to ignore our warnings cannot complain if we can’t come to their aid.”
General sounds of agreement follow that.
“It sounds like we are decided.” Errol now.
“We have not heard your opinion, Errol.” Danel sounding annoyed again “You’ve said nothing, here, but lead our opinions out.”
“You already know my mind in this.”
“Do you two ever argue? ever fight?”
“No. What purpose would it serve but to upset the boys, and make living uncomfortable?”
“So it is always wine and roses, then. Always perfect?” Danel shakes his head, and catches himself from a critical chuckle. “I find it hard to believe.”
“We have our disagreements, but we deal with them like adults. Petting bickering, and arguments, will get us no where. So, are we decided?”
Danel purses his lips, measuring the worth of continuing down his own line of attack. Then shrugs. “I won’t stand against it, neither will the Fishers. Some of them might even make some coin in guiding boats.”
“Five hundred, no more.” Is all Eoso says.
“Fine, ” It is Bedwyr now who speaks. “The docks will be cleared, and once the storms pass we’ll see what repairs need to be made. No buildings on that side of the harbour, and no more than five hundred souls in Stormhaven at a time.” He idly pushes fruit around on the plate in front of him. “Those that travel south are on their own.”
Errol speaks up “I’ll tell the newcomers.”
“No. If memory serves, I am still speaker for the council.” It is Danel, sounding irritated again. “Until the end of the season, its my responsibility.”