Once we exited the room, Kezec gave brief orders to the other Sivvas, each of whom nodded. Then I was escorted into a separate room and ordered to sit. I did so, and we waited for the Sivva council to deliver their verdict. I was hopeful, but one never knew.
Kezec left the room, closing and sealing the room behind him, leaving me alone with four other Sivvas. I only knew the names of two of them- the others were unfamiliar to me.
Eventually, one of the unfamiliar Sivvas glanced at me. “You spoke well today.”
“It was easy to tell that you managed to convince a great deal of them. Have you trained in speaking?”
“I am a scholar,” I replied. “Scholars are often required to speak their thoughts.”
“That would explain it…” the Sivva nodded to himself. “My name is Race. Pleased to meet you, though if the council decrees you guilty, it will be a rather short acquaintance.”
I laughed evenly. “After that speech, I have good reason to believe that their verdict might be a little more in my favor.”
“Aye, you said it yourself,” the other unfamiliar Sivva laughed. “You must have convinced at least half the room fully, swayed several more, and gained support of at least three of the twelve council members. It was a job well done! How convincing your words sounded. And no Canta to strengthen them. You are beyond impressive in that area.”
“I suppose speaking for my life is a sufficient motivation,” I shrugged.
The second Sivva laughed again. His laugh was bright, and full of good humor. “Aye, that it would be! I’m Marx, Race’s brother.”
That would explain the similarities. The two brothers were close to each other in build and look, though Race seemed much calmer and more reserved than Marx, who seemed incredibly open and friendly.
“Well met, Marx,” I smiled. “Thank you for your support.”
His smile grew. “Ah, if I were on the council, I would release you immediately, and make you their chief speaker besides! Who else has such power with words?”
“There were many in history with such powers,” I replied. “One man, Alzåk Rêvír, calmed two warring armies with a single speech. He was one of the world’s most famous diplomats, and possessed no magic to himself.”
“Legends, nothing more,” Race said dismissively. “We are lucky you aren’t on the council, Marx, or we would have anarchy within the week!”
Marx laughed good-naturedly while I countered Race’s first point.
“All legends have a ring of truth,” I said calmly.
“But a man who could pacify armies with his words, and no magic? Impossible.”
“Words are man’s strongest weapons!” I replied, taken aback at his dismissal of them. “Many times words have saved men from war- or begun a war that lasted years, because of those self same words. How can you dismiss them so casually?!”
“A word cannot kill a man, but strong magic can,” Race replied.
I shook my head indignantly, though I was actually enjoying this. It had been a long time since I’d had a good debate with someone. Race obviously wasn’t much of a debater, but it was still entertaining.
“Perhaps. But the goal of life is not always to encourage conflict or violence,” I replied. “Peace is equally necessary, and this can only be accomplished through words. You cannot force a person to peace. Therefore, force only works one way. But words, ah, those are powerful things! Why do you think Canta, the art of emotional spellcasting, was created in the first place? Canta is closely related to music- in fact, the first music came from Canta. All methods used to communicate with others through feelings. Words can placate a soul, or stir it to action. Words have the power to build up the universe, or tear it down around them. Force only destroys, but words can create new possibilities.”
Race raised his eyebrows. Marx cackled maliciously. “Oh, she’s got you there, brother! You weren’t expecting a debater, were you?”
“I thought scholars were non-confrontational,” Race pointed out.
I shook my head, amused. “Then you have been seriously misled, my friend. The truth is quite the opposite. Countless scholars have met untimely deaths due to proclaiming what they believed, when their proclamations could be, as you put it, confrontational. They spoke out against those in power when they were wrong, and were persecuted for it. Most scholars lives were, in fact, confrontational, but not in the physical.”
“And do you also speak out against those in power?” Race replied.
I considered it. “I have no reason to speak out against the Sivva council, if that is what you are implying.”
Marx shook his head. “I would imagine you wouldn’t dare- not in your position, at least!” He shook his head, but Race wasn’t done with his discussion.
“And what of Karnax? And how he gained his power? It was through force, was it not?”
I shook my head. “Karnax was and is an incredible speaker. His words could hold great sway over people’s thoughts and ideas. That is, after all, how he managed to redirect the blame for his own crimes. He was skilled in words, though no use of Canta was necessary. His words were the reason he was accepted into the council in the first place. Or did you not realize this?”
“No wonder the council’s judgement is so harsh towards you!” Race commented. “They must see the similarities.”
“Race!” Marx said, shocked. “Why so harsh?! Similarities between her and Karnax?! I can’t imagine two more different people!”
“Then you’re blind, brother! You heard what she said. Karnax had a power with words, without Canta. He was incredibly convincing, and could escape punishments. Hasn’t she avoided penalties once? Isn’t it obvious? The two were the most powerful graduates of their year. It couldn’t be clearer- the council thinks she’s another Karnax! No wonder Miraza refused to let her off so easily, despite her well-worded defense! She believes Râegan is manipulating them- like Karnax did.”
Marx shook his head in protest. “That’s ridiculous.”
“But possible, you have to admit,” Race sighed. “I’m not saying that I believe it, but they might. You saw how Miraza refused to accept her words, though the others seemed swayed. She knew what Karnax was like. Of course she would be slow to trust.”
“True…” Marx admitted. “But Râegan said it herself- she’s not another Karnax.”
“But can we believe Râegan’s words?” Race pointed out. “Just because she says she isn’t like him doesn’t mean she isn’t.”
“Not a bad point to view it from, seeing as there is nothing to say in my defense,” I shrugged. “No matter what I say, it could be treated as a lie.”
“A true point,” Race agreed. “I suppose it all comes down to whether or not the council agrees with that.”
We waited mostly in silence for the rest of the time. However, it wasn’t too long before Kezec returned. He gestured for me to stand, and I complied. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Marx nod to me and cross his fingers, then hide them behind his back. I resisted the urge to smile at the sign of support, no matter how small.
“The Sivva Council has conferred on your defense,” he said briefly. “They have chosen to accept your terms of punishment. You will remain in prison until further notice, under guard. Attempt escape, and you will automatically be labeled a traitor, and executed as such.”
Despite the threat at the end, I let out a relieved breath. I was not going to be convicted or executed- just imprisoned. That, at least, I could live with.
“You will be escorted to the cell by these two,” he gestured at Marx and Race. “They will be your guards. Try to escape or harm one of them, and you will pay the full punishment for it, and as well the punishment for being a traitor and lying to the Sivva council. Do you understand this?”
I nodded obediently. “Of course. As the Sivva Council decrees.”
Kezec nodded. Then, for just a moment, he let his formal bearing drop. “Thank Åethril they believed you, Râegan. I’ve grown to respect you- most of us have. And after your speech, it would harm us more to lose such a good speaker than it would gain us. For your sake as well as all of ours, I hope this was not all a lie.” He returned to his formality quickly. “You may go. Escort her there, and neither of you are to harm her in any way. You would be punished as you would be if you had harmed a fellow Sivva with no charges against them. Understand?”
“As the Sivva Council decrees,” Marx said with a wide smile. Race elbowed his brother, not very subtly, and simply nodded his assent.
Kezek left, after giving me a slight shake of his head.
Marx gave me a mock-bow. “Come, my lady. Your quarters await.”
I laughed. “Let us go, then.”