Scarlet stares thoughtfully at Faisal’s chair carefully contemplating the General’s last suggestion.
She finally returns her focus to the Dawnwarrior and flashes him an approving smile, “Not a terrible idea, Faisal. Sometimes you surprise me!
“There is no other for whom I truly trust other than Nicholas… but he is occupied beginning his new life with his betrothed.”
She mutters quietly herself, “Though lately with the Dawnspire consecration, I wonder if I have misplaced my trust…”
Alarmed by a troubling thought, she looks up at Faisal with wary eyes and asks, “What about Deirdre, your betrothed. I believe she would have objections to this arrangement would she not?”
The Dawnsister’s reference to Deirdre strikes a chord with Faisal taking him to a time when he and Deirdre had the possibility of being together. Overwhelmed with melancholy at yet another love that could never be, a tear rolls down his right cheek.
Several moments pass while the Duchess awkwardly watches the massive Paladin cry.
Regaining his composure, he shakes the fond memory from his head and wipes his watery eyes.
He frowns at Scarlet and says, “A thousand pardons, Dawnsister, for I am not my usual self.”
Scarlet desperately scans the Council room trying to find a handkerchief or a cloth but in defeat she offers him the area above the hem of her dress. Upon her insistence, he kneels on one knee and pulls the fabric to his face and wipes his eyes. To her dismay, he blows his nose and releasing the contents onto her dress.
He nods apologetically after wiping his nose below the crotch area of her dress before standing up.
“According to the Karain, The Book of Forms, once The Light of Eternal Wisdom has chosen an Oracle, the divine prophet is sworn to continue her life of celibacy, forbidden to engage in mortal activities concerning matters of the heart.”
He pauses. A slight smile crosses his face and he boasts, “But the Oracle is a warm, kind, virtuous and beautiful soul, who undoubtedly wants only what is best. I am certain that nothing will please her more but to see me happy. I have no doubt that she will offer me her blessing.”
As Faisal speaks, he’s completely unaware of the Dawnsister’s dubious facial expression.
“Who will take over your position as the General?” Scarlet asks deliberately changing the subject.
“We can leave this discussion for the next Council Meeting. Captain Carson has demonstrated a dedication and skill in the management of his duties. He has been exemplary in his devotion to duty and to The Goddess", Faisal replies.
The duchess takes a deep breath and before she can think it through, she announces, “Very well. I will continue to rule, as Duchess and you can be my Co-Ruler. Be aware that there is very little chance that I will marry or pursue a romantic relationship. However should you wish to marry – another woman that is – in the near future, I will gladly relinquish … err… abdicate the throne.”
“As long as it is not Deirdre or anyone like her.” Scarlet tells herself.
Faisal frowns in confusion, struggling to understand the relevance of her assertion that she has no wish to marry. Nevertheless, pleased at her agreement, the elated Paladin bows deeply before her.
“Faisal! Please stop!” Scarlet demands interrupting his gesture. “You must do this no more. You are my equal. And you must treat me as your equal!”
Perplexed by this statement. Faisal attempts to obey but instinctively bows, apologetically responding. “A ten thousand pardons…”
“Faisal!!!” Scarlet sternly says cutting him off.
Aware of his action, Faisal stands up and says, “As you proclaim.” And heads for the door.
She shakes her head already regretting her decision.
As he is about to leave the Council meeting room, Scarlet says, “Faisal, one last thing… ”
He halts and turns to face her.
“I am unclear as to why Deirdre has a permanent residence in the castle. She is not betrothed to you and unlike you and I she is not a member of Council nor does she serve the duchy. Therefore I do not see her purpose of her stay here.”
Faisal is taken aback by the Dawnsister’s heathen comment, but before he can speak she continues.
“Do not mistake me but for the time that she spent here. I and many of Saranrae’s followers were enlightened by her divine presence and guidance. However the fact remains that she is strictly a religious figure and should seek permanent residence at the Dawn temple.
“Though she was recently chosen as the Oracle yet has not journeyed to the holy land of Qadira. I imagine that she has quite the duties and responsibilities waiting for her to be fulfilled and important people anxiously awaiting her arrival. She certainly has remained here long enough. I for one would like the castle to return back to its state prior to her arrival. Do you think it is time for her to depart to Qadira?”
Faisal bites back his initial response, pausing to consider the Dawnsister’s suggestion.
“I am uncertain how to answer, Dawnsister. The Oracle was chosen by The Eternal Light of Compassion and Wisdom on the dawn of the Solstice Triumphant, during the consecration of the new Dawnspire, in the Holy City of Abu-Al-Bazit, bathed in the flames of the Oracle’s funeral pyre. It is hard to imagine a more sacred moment or deeper portent that The Sarenrae intends for the Oracle to serve Her here, and bring this land closer to The True Fold. She has taken up permanent residence at the new Dawnspire, and will no doubt remain busy in her responsibilities to the Faithful.
“You are surely correct that she may wish to make a pilgrimage to Katheer. She will wish to speak with the Dawnmother and share her wisdom and experiences with the Qadiran people. However, given the actions of my sister and those who are undoubtedly behind the treachery that resulted in…”
Faisal pauses, again overwhelmed with emotions. Scarlet unconsciously gathers the hem of her gown, pulling it away from the warrior.
“I fear for her safety”, continues the young man, "Should she return to Katheer without the corruption purged from the ranks of Her followers, she may be in great danger.
“But I shall speak with the Oracle on the matter, as I know she greatly respects your wisdom and will consider your counsel very thoroughly.”
Scarlet bites her tongue. Unable to suppress her anxiety any longer, she blurts out, "I have a confession, Deirdre is responsible for the death of the Oracle of Katheer and Brother Morric.
And I can prove it."