It’s a misty old world, and we are only in it for a short, sharp whileThe center most chamber of the Aventine fortress--the Temple of De'helio where the Mother was located--was filled with the sounds of whispered breezes through leaves. Most of the Veg'eta Pa'u were speaking the prayer of protection for the Pa'u, who would represent the Veg'etian people, and their escorts on the Aelham capitol.
As a tenth level Pa'u, second only to the Tree Mother herself, Ver'bena was to be the head councilor in the Arbitration meeting on Aelham. With her, she would take five Veg'etian guards and two other Pa'us; Fi'dan and Chi, on a total of four Aves. It was her hope and prayer to the Goddess that this would be enough.
"Pa'u Ver'bena, it is time. The Aves are readied and the wind is in our favour." A tall guard with skin as grey as ash had spoke.
Ver'bena didn't look up from her knelt position in front of the tree mother, hands palm up and half stretched out before her. "Thank you Aesc. Tell Abellio we will be there shortly." The Guard nodded and exited the chamber to do as the Pa'u had bid.
Once Aesc was gone, The Mother tree spoke as if only for Ver'bena's ears. "You must make sure another war does not come." the Pa'u looked up then, to see pleading in her Mother's eyes. "The Goddess hears our prayers and will do all she can to give us the means to protect ourselves." She took a breath and tried again, her voice even lower than before. "But she can not control the others." Ver'bena thought The Mother meant to say more but Her eyes were closed now and she wouldn't move again for some time.
Ver'bena closed her eyes too. She hoped that her strength would be enough.
I know that look Pan, and you can stop giving it to me." Maia's voice was strained as she climbed down from the sallow tree she'd been collecting bark and leaves from for their medicinal uses. "'oh Poor Maia, left all alone again.'" She'd said in a high pitched mocking tone. "Just so you know, I didn't want to go all the way to Aelham for some stupid political venture." She jumped the last length of the tree and brushed her hands against each other in an attempt to clean them. She didn't have to look at the Ave to sense that it didn't believe her. Even she was finding it hard to believe the words she spoke. "I'm sure Pa'u Ver'bena had her reasons for not bringing me along."
Maia hadn't been at the protection chant with the other Pa'u. She hadn't been there to see the group off. She'd been sulking in the garden just outside the western gate.
Pangur Bán had found her in the sallow tree just after watching the other Aves leave with the head Pa'u and her group. Her head was tilted now and there was understanding in her eyes. Maia closed the gap between herself and the large white bird before her to stroke its beak.
"Of course," She said after a moment of thought, "She never said I shouldn't go either." The Ave ruffled its feathers knowing exactly what she was meaning to do. "Oh come now. Everything's perfectly alright. It is a peace meeting after all." She could feel Pan's glare at the back of her head, she had already started to walk back to the temple to prepare her clothes for her own departure. "And I'm a fourth level Pa'u--the only one of my age. Besides, I'm an adult and have been for the past twenty cycles. I can do as I please."
The stairs that led up to the senate hall were speckled with the bodies of delegates from almost every island of Aelham. The capitol was crowded with twice as many people as usual and the air was thick with tension. Ver'bena and the rest of the Aventine group landed and made their way into the senate building as quickly as they could.
Reuel, High Priest of the Ormereian tribes, greeted them once they were inside. He too would be helping Mediate in this process.
"Thank you, Reuel. It is nice to see a friend amongst us." Ver'bena said in greeting.
He laughed, a deep and rumbling laugh and lead her to the head of the room. "Our people can not afford to go through a war. And even if we could, we believe in a loving God who would not want to see us kill or be killed for no reason."
She smiled back, "Then our Gods are of the same mind, Reuel." There was to be a third representer as a mediator, but it seemed he hadn't arrived yet. The other races were entering the building though, so the two took their seats, Chi and Fi'dan and the Veg'etian guards stood just behind Ver'bena and Reuel's own men behind him.
Even with at least a half hour delay, Maia and Pangur had arrived not long after the others. "Look," Maia pointed down to the blue domed building that was the Senate hall. "There are the other Aves. You can land there and I'll sneak in through the--I mean, I'll walk through the front like any other." If it was possible, Maia could have sworn Pangur had just rolled her eyes.