Palacia Varius Savat [A Rama Empire short story]

"Ket Savat'Ilen Tekir, the saying went. The Goddess Ket Savat thirsts, and that usually meant for blood."

Almost four centuries have passed since the Craft Plague, and yet there is still one society where mage craft is still accepted and used. The Blades of Ket Savat are still thriving in the palace deep beneath Cahl's capital, carrying out their assassin work in the streets above.

Rohen is one of the Goddess' Blades, and one of her best assassins. He is firmly devoted to the Goddess ideals, but as the world changes, doubt flourishes. When you have to chose between home and work, both in the name of Ket Savat, how do you know your gods are even there?

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4. Part III

"We need to stop taking in new mages from above," Alherius said, drawing Rohen out of his near comatose boredom, and into a place of annoyance.

"What?" he asked. "Why? We need them, and they need a place to be safe, what with the hatred above ground-"

"But they bring danger to us," Alherius interrupted. "Every time we take one in, we risk them revealing where we are, and how we do our craft. We risk them destroying everything that defines us, with their weak blood and their weak mage craft."

"Ket Savat has always forged Blades both among those here, in her palace, and those in the streets. If we start changing that, we're spitting on her creed," Rohen argued. "Besides, we need them! Our magic is disappearing and we are getting fewer and fewer every year-"

"Exactly!" Marissa said. "That's why we can't keep taking them in! We don't have enough people to teach them control! Just last week Dania tried to do a simple light spell, and there's still scorch marks on the floor where she stood!"

"Besides, it's probably their genes that are watering down our craft," another spoke. "Not that it matters, if we stop using it. We might need to do that, what with the burnings and the hunts beginning to pick up by the border."

"The border is far away," Rohen protested.

"We'll take a vote," Marissa said, trying to calm him. "It's the right way to do business."

"It wasn't always," Rohen growled. "If the Blade hadn't died-"

"But she did!" Marissa hissed. "My sister is dead, and since the Goddess have not chosen another, the council's rulings are absolute, except if called to a public vote."

"If this is how we act as a council, I don't want any part of it!" Rohen said, standing up. "Our mage craft was given by the Goddess, and we should not be ashamed of using it, or keeping the streetborn who has it out! Dania is one of our best assassins, and we need more like her. If there are streetborn who has the craft, why can't we requite them?"

"It's too dangerous to keep bringing so many strangers down here!" Alherius snapped. "They might reveal us through some folly and dilute our heritage, our culture! What would you do when they start catching us upside and bring shame on our Goddess? You know what they do to magic users!"

"What is the premise of the vote, exactly?" Donharon cut in.

"We'll vote to stop our intake of streetborn for the time being, until the resources needed to train them becomes available," Marissa said firmly. Rohen did feel slightly appreciative that she made sure to formulate it as a temporary thing.

There were nods around the table, as people leaned back in their chairs, brows furrowed.

"All for?" Marissa asked, and those who wanted to vote for, raised their hands. "And against?" New hands went up, as others went down. Rohen's was among the raised, as was Donharon's.

"Seven for, five against," Alherius tallied. "The motion stands."

"I won't be part of this," Rohen said, rising again. "Find yourself a new Akhere."

"Rohen-" Marissa called, a soft pleading in her voice. She reached for his arm, fingers curling to keep him seated. "Don't do this, not for a single vote."

"It's not about the vote," Rohen growled, and left.

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