"How in the name of the bright stars have you idiots allowed such events to pass so long unchecked?!" The King's counselors were silent. Each in turn gazed from oaken table surface to the fury-red visage of Priam IX before them and then back again. All save one. The youthful King paced the council chambers like a caged lion. "While my father lived, you spoke no counsel against the Eye. Who can say how grave our peril would be now had my father lived even a few years longer while this upstart Greywand ever gathered Alastari's brightest swords unto her domain?" A grim smile touched the corner of the King's lips for the first time. "Be thankful that it is now I who rule. No longer shall we bow and scrape. No longer shall we heedless send tribute of our finest blood to the beck and call of Sheila Greywand. Nay! I say there shall be an end!"
One voice rang out. "Lord, your words are strident, your bearing proud, your visage grim and unyielding. Yet hear now the counsel which I gave also to your father, a man of wisdom, not given to rash word or deed." The speaker's words were darts of contention bringing form to an atmosphere heavy with unspoken misgivings. "From of old, the one men name Sheila Greywand has been a champion of the land's good. Her knowledge is ancient. Her lore is as deep as the mountain's roots and broad as the reaches of the sea. While men look to the needs and perils of their own borders, even as our councils turn on the interests of the Andorian League, ever has Greywand's vision looked to the safety and needs of all Alastari. Her sight has foreseen a peril to us all and it is against that need that she has gathered the land's finest to the Isle of the Eye." Rising from the table, even as his words rose in strength, the speaker continued. "Lord, hear me. Ill can we afford to lightly regard Greywand's purpose and forsake our pledge to the Isle!"
"Sit down, Darvak. Grey is your beard even as Sheila's wand is grey. Your counsels are aged, poorly fitted to the youth and vigor of these times." The King's rage had passed. Now he spoke softly, gently, as if to a small child. "Know that I am not alone in my thoughts. At length have I weighed these matters with the delegations of both the Delarquan Federation and the Independent Nations. All are agreed that the time is long past for the rights of our individual empires to be asserted." Protest died on the old Chamberlain's lips as the King's gaze clearly denied all interruption.
"Say not that we forsake our pledge to the Isle," Priam continued. "Indeed that is not my design... yet. It would be foolish, would it not, to decline the benefits of Greywand's tutelage for our warriors? Rather, we shall construct our own advanced training arena, as will the Delarquan Federation and the Independent Nations. These facilities will be raised on the Isle itself. How can Greywand deny our generosity? Have we not all heard how the growing press of warriors at the Isle has outstripped the facilities presently available? All eligible blades will, as of old, first be inducted into Greywand's training program and commended to her instruction. Of these, Greywand shall retain direct control of the very elite, graduating them to a further training ground of her own construction. In like manner, Sheila shall retain the old veterans, graduating them to yet another new facility where they shall prepare themselves as a defensive force to protect the Isle itself in time of need. The remaining warriors, however, shall all be given the opportunity, at regular intervals, to transfer to our national training arena, there to pass arms with warriors hailing from their own land. I hardly need to add that while these facilities will be nominally under Greywand's control, they will be staffed by our own hand-picked men. Never again will we need to fear for the loyalty of our warriors. They shall not lose sight of their national heritage, and in time of war they will be ours to command!" His last words ringing in the confined space of the council chambers, the King ended his speech. All those assembled were silent, each deep within his own thoughts.
"This is my will for the Andorian League. So let it be written. So let it be
done. My scribe will present you each with a document describing all of the
pertinent details." Without waiting for comment, King Priam turned and
departed the Council chambers. The door closed heavily. A long low echo rang
throughout the palace.