I will never forget the chambers of the High Council of Erudin. Never have I been in a place where I felt such scrutiny, and indeed, such oppression. I knew that it was here that the Council banished Miragul for practicing the art of necromancy, thereby cutting an entire sphere of knowledge and learning from their studies. It was here that they chose to engage in war against the people of Paineel, for pursuing that very knowledge in our quest to understand the magics of the world in which we live.
The biggest surprise was waiting for my master and me when we entered the chamber itself. While I had expected the majority of the Council to be in attendance, I was not expecting to find many of the Paineel high court, including Coriante Verisue herself, sitting amongst the crowd. I looked over to Zal’Urid to gauge his reastion, but as always, he remined impassive. It was almost as if he expected to see them here — perhaps he had even planned on it.
The hall itself was dimly lit, save a few lights along the back wall, and a large beam of light illuminating a platform in the center of the room. I sat on a bench near the stairs leading to the raised rows of seats where the Council sat. Zal’Urid walked to the center of the platform, entering the pillar of light, facing the Council of Erudin and the court of Paineel. There was no podium for him to lay his notes on, no seat for him to rest comfortably on the platform. He seemed untroubled, confidently facing those before him.
One of the scholars amongst the Councilors stepped down the stairs near me, and I could see that she wore the large headpiece of the arbiters — she would preside over the debate, ensuring that it would not collapse into a free-for-all argument. I was concerned again, because she was clearly chosen from among the scholars of Erudin, but it was a logical choice, given where we now were. “Master Zal’Urid,” she began. “You have requested audience with the High Council of Erudin, to discuss the viability of El’Arad’s wise plan to put the teleportation network back in the hands of mortals, and out of the hands of the gods who took it from us.”
“That is correct, Arbiter,” my master responded.
“As you can see, in the interest of cooperation with the city of Paineel, we have brought some of their esteemed court to this noble hall, so that they might have a voice in these proceedings. Therefore, you will be speaking to both cities, and will receive a unified repsonse from all of the erudite people. Do you understand this?” the speaker inquired.
“I do, Arbiter,” Zal’Urid replied.
“Very well, then,” she said. “Please explain to the Council what brings you before us.”
“I am here to solicit the help of the High Council of Erudin with regards to the aforementioned rebuilding of the Spire Network, and construction of the Ulteran Nexus within Quel’ule,” he began. “I believe this to be a highly questionable act, one that warrants scrutiny and further deliberation before we proceed further.”
“Questionable?” came a voice from the Council. “In what way?” Several mutters of agreement could be heard among the crowd.
“Indeed, Councilor,” my master said cooly. “I believe that this research is based upon faulty information, and that this poorly conceived plan could very well imperil all of Odus, if not all of Norrath itself.”
Th council chamber erupted with incredulous harrumphs, angry retorts, and mocking laughter. Some of the councilors were standing now. shouting back their responses over the uproar started by Zal’Urid’s words. “What would you have us go? one shouted. “There is no teleportation, and we are cut off from the rest of Norrath without it!”
“How dare you speak of the greatest mings in Norrath with impudence!” called out another.
The Arbiter worked feverishly to calm the cacophony of anger. My master stood unmoving, watching the reaction of the council, and waiting for the noise to subside. When it finally subsided, he opened his mouth as if to speak. However, before he could even begin, another voice cut through the dim chamber. “You see? I warned you that he would waste the time of this esteemed council.” I was surprised to hear that it was none other than Coriante Verisue, the head of the High Court of Paineel, speaking out against one of the wisest scholars the city of Paineel had ever known. “He wasted the time of the high court of Paineel three times over, and now he has come to the High Council of Erudin to do the same?”
“What gives you the right, scholar, to question the consensus of the scholars of the erudite people?” another councilor spoke out.
“The province of facts, councilor,” Zal’Urid replied. “As I said, your conclusions are based on unsound information, and it is my duty to report my findings for consideration.” it was obvious that the High Council of Erudin had heard enough. My master attempted to speak over the diun, but they were no longer listening. Still, he remained calm, answering each objection as he could.
After several minutes of this, another councilor stood up, and raise his hand quietly. The noise in the chamber stopped almost immediately, and even the Arbiter stepped aside, out of the beam of light where Zal’Urid now stood alone. The figure walked down the isle toward the stairs leading to the platform below. I was unable to make out his face through the light, and even if I could, I am not sure I would have known who this man was. The councilor said nothing as he approached Zal’Urid. The two scholars stodd face to face for a few moments, before ayone spoke. In spite of what could have been defined as a tense few moments between adversaries, I sensed neither malice or anger from either.
“Your words are stinging and harsh, scholar,” the man began. “If you are here to save all of Odus, as you claim, seeking the help of those that were once enemies, would it not be best to attempt some form of diplomacy?”
“I speak factually,” Zal’Urid said to the man standing before him. “I do not believe that pointing out the flaws inherent in your plan are an insult to anyone, save perhaps yourself, if you choose them to be.”
It was at that moment that I relized who this councilor was — this was none other than El’Arad himself, High Scholar of Erudin, and primary architect of Ulteran spire network plan.