Monday, January 21, 2019

Spirit Bound Chapter Twenty-one

THERE WAS LITTLE MORE MIKHAIL and I could say to each other after(prenominal) that. I didnt loss him to regain in trouble for what hed d angiotensin-converting enzyme, and I let him lend us f any step foregoing of the guardians building in silence. As we emerged step to the foreside, I could see the sky purpling in the east. The sun was nearly up, signaling the middle of our night. Briefly flipping into Lissas mind, I require that the Death Watch had finally ended, and she was on her direction grit to her populateworried close to me and nevertheless an nary(prenominal)ed that Christian had sh devote up with Mia.I followed Lissas example, wondering if sleep mogul ease the agony that Dimitri had left in my heart. Probably not. Still, I thanked Mikhail for his economic aid and the risk hed taken. He merely motionded, the alikes of t here was zero point to thank him for. It was exactly what he would get precious me to do for him if our roles had been r eersed and Ms. Karp had been the atomic number 53 behind bars.I feel into a heavy sleep back in my bed, precisely my dreams were troubled. Over and everyplace, I kept hearing Dimitri prescribe me he couldnt love me anymore. It beat into me over and over, smashing my heart into little pieces. At peerless point, it became more than a dreamlike beating. I heard authoritative beating. Someone was pounding on my door, and slowly, I dragged myself out of my awful dreams.Bleary-eyed, I went to the door and found Adrian. The painting was almost a mirror of destination night when hed come to entreat me to the Death Watch. Only this clock, his expression was much grimmer. For a second, I cerebration hed heard almost my visit to Dimitri. Or that possibly hed gotten in a percentage more trouble than wed realized for sneaking half of his friends into a secret funeral.Adrian this is early for you. I glanced over at a clock, discovering that Id in reality slept in slightly late.not early at all , he confirmed, face still serious. Lots of stuff going on. I had to come tell you the news originally you heard it somewhatwhere else.What news?The Councils verdict. They finally passed that too large resolution theyve been debating. The one you came in for.Wait. Theyre through with(p)? I recalled what Mikhail had express, that a secret homecoming had been keeping the Council busy. If it was finished, thusly they could move on to something elsesay, like, officially declaring Dimitri a dhampir again. Thats great news. And if this unfeignedly was tied into when Tatiana had had me come describe my s run throughs well, was thither really a chance I might be named Lissas guardian? Could the queen regnant own really come through and through? Shed seemed friendly enough expire night.Adrian regarded me with something Id never seen from him pity. You cave in no idea, do you?No idea some what?Rose He gently balance wheeled a hand on my shoulder. The Council just passed a decre e lowering the guardian age to sixteen. Dhampirsll refine when theyre sophomores and wherefore go out for assignments.What? Surely Id misheard.You k at one time how panicked theyve been about justification and not having enough guardians, right? He sighed. This was their solution to change magnitude your numbers.But theyre too young I cried. How sack up anyone think sixteen-year- overageds atomic number 18 ready to go out and fight?Well, say Adrian, beca hold you testified that they were.My mouth dropped, everything halt around me. You testified that they were No. It couldnt be possible.Adrian gently nudged my arm, trying to shake me out of my stupor. Come on, theyre still wrapping up. They do the announcement in an hold school term, and some plenty argon a little upset.Yeah, Ill say. He didnt depend at to tell me twice. I immediately dieed to follow, then realized I was in my pajamas. I quickly changed and brushed my hair, still scarcely able to confide what hed jus t said. My preparation just now took five minutes, and then we were out the door. Adrian wasnt too athletic, only when he kept a pretty good stride as we byeed toward the Councils hall.How did this happen? I asked. You dont really mean that that what I said played a role? Id meant my words to be a demand, scarce they came out with more of a pleading note.He lit a cigarette without breaking stride, and I didnt bother chastising him for it. Its apparently been a live(a) topic for a while. It was a pretty close vote. The people displace for it knew theyd need to show a lot of evidence to win. You were their grand dough a teen dhampir slaying Strigoi left and right, long before graduation.Not that long, I muttered, my fury kindling. Sixteen? Were they serious? It was ludicrous. The fact that I had been inadvertently used to support this decree made me sick to my stomach. Id been a fool, sentiment theyd all ignored my form breaking and had simply paraded me in to congratulat ions me. Theyd used me. Tatiana had used me.When we reached it, the Council hall was in as much topsy-turvydom as Adrian had implied. True, I hadnt spent a lot of time in these kinds of meetings, but I was pretty sure that people standing up in clusters and yelling at each other wasnt normal. The Councils precursor likely didnt usually scream himself hoarse trying to bring order to the convention either.The only spot of calm was Tatiana herself, sitting patiently in her bathroom at the center of the control panel, just as Council etiquette dictated. She looked very pleased with herself. The eternal rest of her colleagues had lost all sense of propriety and were on their feet like the audience, statement amongst themselves or anyone else ready to pick a fight. I stared in amazement, timid what to do in all this disorder.Who voted for what? I asked.Adrian studied the Council members and ticked them off on his fingers. Szelsky, Ozera, Badica, Dashkov, Conta, and Drozdov. They were against it.Ozera? I asked in surprise. I didnt know the Ozera princessEvettevery well, but shed constantly seemed pretty stiff and unpleasant. I had new respect for her now.Adrian nodded over to where Tasha was tempestuously addressing a large company of people, eyes flashing and arms gesticulate wildly. Evette was persuaded by some of her family members.That made me smile too, but only for a endorsement. It was good that Tasha and Christian were macrocosm acknowledged amongst their clan again, but the rest of our problem was still alive and kicking. I could deduce the rest of the names.So Prince Ivashkov voted for it, I said. Adrian shrugged by way of apology for his family. Lazar, Zeklos, Tarus, and Voda. That the Voda family would vote for extra protection wasnt replete(p)ly a surprise, considering the recent slaughter of one of their members. Priscilla wasnt rase in her grave yet, and the new Voda prince, Alexander, seemed intelligibly unsure what to do with his s udden promotion.I gave Adrian a sharp look. Thats only five to six. Oh. Realization dawned. Shit. Royal tiebreaker.The Moroi suff love frame had been set up with twelve members, one for each family, and then whoever the reigning king or queen was. True, it often meant one base got two votes, since the monarch rarely voted against his or her avow family. It had been known to happen. Regardless, the system should have had thirteen votes, pr in timeting ties. Except a recent problem had developed. thither were no Dragomirs on the Council anymore, meaning ties could occur. In that rare event, Moroi law dictated that the monarchs vote carried extra weight. Id heard that had always been controversial, and yet at the corresponding time, there wasnt much to be done for it. Ties in the Council would mean vigor ever got settled, and since monarchs were elected, many a(prenominal) took it on faith that they would act in the scoop out interests of the Moroi.Tatianas was the sixth, I said . And hers swayed it. Glancing around, I saw a bit of anger on the faces of those from the families who had voted against the decree. Apparently, not everyone believed Tatiana had acted in the best interest of the Moroi.Lissas presence sang to me through the bond, so her arrival a a couple of(prenominal) moments later was no surprise. word of honor had spread fast, though she didnt yet know the fine details. Adrian and I waved her over. She was as dumbfounded as we were.How could they do that? she asked.Because theyre too afraid that someone might recognize them learn to defend themselves. Tashas group was cometing too loud.Lissa agitate her head. No, not just that. I mean, why were they even in posing? We should be in mourning after what happened the other daypublicly. The exclusively Court, not just some secret part of it. whizz of the Council members even died Couldnt they wait for the funeral? In her minds eye, I could see the images from that grisly night, where Priscil la had died right before Lissas eyes.But was easily replaceable, a new utter said. Christian had get together us. Lissa took a a few(prenominal) steps away from him, still annoyed about Mia. And actually, its the perfect time. The people who wanted this had to jump at their chance. Every time theres a big Strigoi fight, everyone panics. Fearll make a lot of people get on board with this. And if any Council members were undecided before this, that battle probably pushed them over.That was pretty wise reasoning for Christian, and Lissa was impressed, despite her troubled feelings for him right now. The Councils herald finally managed to make his voice heard over the shouts of the audience. I wondered if the group would have quieted down if Tatiana herself had started yelling at them to shut up. But no. That was probably beneath her dignity. She was still sitting there calmly, like nothing unusual was going on.Nonetheless, it took several moments for everyone to settle down and take their seats. My friends and I hurriedly grabbed the first ones we could find. With peace and quiet achieved at last, the weary-looking herald yielded the grace to the queen.Smiling grandly at the assembly, she addressed them in her most triumphant voice. Wed like to thank everyone for coming now and expressing your opinions. I know some are still unsure about this decision, but Moroi law has been followed herelaws that have been in place for centuries. We bequeath have another session soon to listen to what you have to say in an orderly fashion. Something told me that was an leisure gesture. sight could talk all they wanted she wouldnt listen. This decisionthis verdict provide benefit the Moroi. Our guardians are already so excellent. She gave a condescending nod toward the ceremonial guardians standing on the rooms walls. They wore typically neutral faces, but I was guessing that, like me, they probably wanted to punch half the Council. They are so excellent, in fact, that they train their students to be ready to defend us at an early age. We will all be safer from tragedies like that which lately occurred.She lowered her head a moment in what must have been a show of grieving. I recalled last night when shed choked up over Priscilla. Had that been an act? Was her best friends death a convenient way for Tatiana to push forward with her own agenda. Surely surely, she wasnt that cold.The queen lifted her head and continued. And again, were happy to listen to you register your opinions, although by our own laws, this matter is settled. go on sessions will have to wait until an adequate period of mourning has passed for the unfortunate departed.Her tone and body language implied that this was indeed the end of the discussion. Then, an impertinent voice suddenly broke the rooms silence.My voice.Well, Id kind of like to register my opinion now. inner(a) my head, Lissa was shouting Sit down, sit down But I was already on my feet, moving toward the Councils table. I stopped at a respectful distance, one that would let them notice me but not get me tackled by guardians. And oh, they noticed me. The herald flushed bright red at my rule breaking.You are out of line and in violation of all Council protocol Sit down right now before you are removed. He glanced over at the guardians, like he expected them to come charging forward right then. None of them moved. Either they didnt perceive me as a threat, or they were wondering what I was going to do. I was overly wondering this.With a small, delicate hand gesture, Tatiana waved the herald back. I daresay theres been so much severing of protocol today that one more incident wont make a difference. She fixed me with a kind smile, one that was apparently intended to make us look like friends. Besides, Guardian Hathaway is one of our most important assets. Im always interested in what she has to say.Was she really? Time to find out. I addressed my words to the Council.This thing youve just passed is utterly and totally insane. I considered it a great feat on my part that I didnt use any swear words there because I had some adjectives in mind that were much more fitting. Who said I didnt understand Council etiquette? How can any of you sit there and think its okay to perpetrate sixteen-year-olds out to risk their lives?Its only two years difference, said the Tarus prince. Its not like were displace ten-year-olds.Two years is a lot. I thought for a moment about when Id been sixteen. What had happened in those two years? Id run off with Lissa, watched friends die, traveled around the world, fallen in love. You can live a lifetime in two years. And if you want us to keep organism on the front lineswhich most of us willingly do when we graduatethen you owe us those two years.This time, I glanced back at the audience. The reactions were mixed. Some clearly agreed with me, nodding along. Some looked as though nothing in the world would change their minds about the decree being just. Others wouldnt meet my eyes. Had I swayed them? Were they undecided? Embarrassed at their own selfishness? They might be the keys.Believe me, I would love to see your people enjoy their youth. This was Nathan Ivashkov speaking. But right now, thats not an option we have. The Strigoi are law of closure in. Were losing more Moroi and guardians every day. Getting more fighters out there will stop this, and really, were just letting those dhampirs skills go to waste by postponement a couple years. This plan will protect both our races.Itll kill mine off faster I said. Realizing I might start shouting if I lost control, I took a deep suggestion before going on. They wont be ready. They wont have all the training they need.And that was where Tatiana herself made her master play. Yet, by your own admission, you were certainly prepared at a young age. You killed more Strigoi before you were eighteen than some guardians kill their entire lives.I fixed her with a narrow-eyed l ook. I, I said coldly, had an excellent teacher. One that you currently have locked up. If you want to talk about skills going to waste, then go look in your own jail.There was a nice stirring in the audience, and Tatianas were pals face grew a little cold. That is not an issue we are addressing today. Increasing our protection is. I believe you have even commented in the past that the guardian ranks are lacking in numbers. My own words, thrown back at me from last night. They need to be filled. Youand many of your companionshave proven youre able to defend us.We were exceptions It was egotistical, but it was the truth. Not all novices have reached that level.A dangerous glint appeared in her eye, and her voice grew pat smooth again. Well, then, perhaps we need more excellent training. Perhaps we should send you to St. Vladimirs or some other academy so that you can improve your young colleagues education. My understanding is that your upcoming assignment will be a permanent admi nistrative one here at Court. If you wanted to help make this new decree successful, we could change that assignment and make you an instructor instead. It might speed up your return to a bodyguard assignment.I gave her a dangerous smile of my own. Do not, I warned, try to threaten, bribe, or blackmail me. Ever. You wont like the consequences.That might have been going too far. People in the audience exchanged startled looks. Some of their expressions were disgusted, as though they could expect nothing better of me. I recognized a few of those Moroi. They were ones Id overheard talking about my relationship with Adrian and how the queen hated it. I also suspected a number of over-embellisheds from last nights ceremony were here too. Theyd seen Tatiana lead me out and no doubt thought my outburst and disrespect today were a type of revenge.The Moroi werent the only ones who reacted. Regardless of whether they shared my opinions, a few guardians stepped forward. I made sure to stay e xactly where I was, and that, along with Tatianas lack of fear, kept them in place.Were getting weary of this conversation, Tatiana said, switching to the munificent we. You can speak moreand do so in the kosher mannerwhen we have our next meeting and open the floor to comments. For now, whether you like it or not, this resolution has been passed. Its law.Shes letting you off Lissas voice was back in my head. Back away from this before you do something thatll get you in real trouble. Argue later.It was ironic because Id been on the verge of exploding and letting my full rage out. Lissas words stopped mebut not because of their content. It was Lissa herself. When Adrian and I had discussed the results earlier, Id noted one piece of breakouty logic.It wasnt a fair vote, I declared. It wasnt legal.Are you a lawyer now, Miss Hathaway? The queen was amused, and her dropping of my guardian title now was a blatant lack of respect. If youre referring to the monarchs vote carrying more we ight than others on the Council, then we can assure you that that has been Moroi law for centuries in such situations. She glanced at her fellow Council members, none of whom raised a protest. Even those whod voted against her couldnt find fault with her point.Yeah, but the entire Council didnt vote, I said. Youve had an empty spot in the Council for the last few yearsbut not anymore. I turned and pointed at where my friends were sitting. Vasilisa Dragomir is eighteen now and can fill her familys spot. In all of this chaos, her birthday had been overlooked, even by me.The eyes in the room turned on Lissasomething she did not like. However, Lissa was used to being in the public eye. She knew what was expected of a royal, how to look and carry herself. So, rather than cringing, she sat up straight and stared ahead with a cool, regal look that said she could walk up to that table right now and demand her birthright. Whether it was that magnificent attitude alone or maybe a little spi rit charisma, she was almost impossible to look away from. Her beauty had its usual luminous quality, and around the room, a lot of the faces held the same awe for her that Id observed around Court. Dimitris transformation was still an enigma, but those who believed in it were indeed regarding her as some kind of saint. She was becoming large than life in so many peoples eyes, both with her family name and secret powersand now the alleged ability to restore Strigoi.Smug, I looked back at Tatiana. Isnt eighteen the legal voting age? Checkmate, bitch.Yes, she said cheerfully. If the Dragomirs had a quorum.I wouldnt say my stunning victory exactly shattered at that point, but it certainly lost a little of its luster. A what?A quorum. By law, for a Moroi family to have a Council vote, they must have a family. She does not. Shes the only one.I stared in disbelief. What, youre saying she needs to go have a kid to get a vote?Tatiana grimaced. Not now, of course. Someday, Im sure. For a f amily to have a vote, they must have at least two members, one of whom must be over eighteen. Its Moroi lawagain, a law thats been in the books for centuries.A few people were exchanging confused and surprised looks. This was clearly not a law many were familiar with. Of course, this situationa royal line reduced to one personwasnt one that had occurred in recent history, if it had ever occurred at all.Its true, said Ariana Szelsky reluctantly. Ive read it.Okay, that was when my stunning victory shattered. The Szelsky family was one I trusted, and Ariana was the older sister of the guy my mom protected. Ariana was a pretty bookish kind of person, and seeing as shed voted against the guardian age change, it seemed flimsy shed offer this piece of evidence if it werent true.With no more ammunition, I resorted to old standbys.That, I told Tatiana, is the most fucked-up law I have ever heard.That did it. The audience broke into shocked chatter, and Tatiana gave up on whatever dissimula tion of friendliness shed been clinging to. She beat the herald to any orders he might have given.Remove her shouted Tatiana. Even with the rapidly growing noise, her voice rang clearly through the room. We will not tolerate this sort of vulgar appearanceI had guardians on me in a flash. Honestly, with how often Id been dragged away from places lately, there was almost something comfortably familiar about it. I didnt fight the guardians as they led me to the door, but I also didnt let them take me without a few parting words.You could change the quorum law if you wanted, you sanctimonious bitch I yelled back. Youre twisting the law because youre selfish and afraid Youre making the scald mistake of your life. Youll regret it Wait and seeyoull wish youd never done itI dont know if anyone heard my tirade because by then, the hall was back to the chaos it had been in when I entered. The guardiansthree of themdidnt let go of me until we were outside. at a time they released me, we all stood around awkwardly for a moment.What now? I asked. I tried to keep the anger out of my voice. I was still furious and worked up, but it wasnt these guys fault. Are you going to lock me up? Seeing as it would bring me back to Dimitri, it would almost be a reward.They only said to remove you, one of the guardians pointed out. No one said what to do with you after that.Another guardian, old and grizzled but still fierce looking, gave me a wry look. Id take off while you can, before they really have a chance to punish you.Not that they wont find you if they really want to, added the first guardian.With that, the three of them headed back inside, leaving me confused and upset. My body was still revved for a fight, and I was filled with the frustration I always experient whenever I was faced with a situation I felt powerless in. All that yelling for nothing. Id accomplished nothing.Rose?I shifted from my churning emotions and looked up at the building. The older guardian hadnt gone inside and still stood in the doorway. His face was stoic, but I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye. For what its worth, he told me, I thought you were fantastic in there.I didnt feel much like smiling, but my lips betrayed me. Thanks, I said.Well, maybe Id accomplished one thing.

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