The great hall fell into silence. The sudden absence of noise came so quickly and intensely that it made Rol's skin crawl. A pervasive fear had sprung upon every living thing in the hall; Rol could see it in every face he looked into. Even the hulking man to his right had a nervous look about him.
A figure swept through the archway and strode towards the center of the floor. It was a man, tall and gaunt, with a thin mustache and a small patch of beard on his chin like a dagger. His eyes were sunken and almost as dark as the tendrils of hair crowning his head. He wore a black suit of sorts, made of a thick material that crunched as he walked.
"We welcome his imminence, Lord Paril to the floor," croaked the head councilman, striking the gavel lightly, as if not to offend the man far below.
"Thank you, councilman," said Paril artificially. His voice had a cruel, mocking inflection. "It is always a pleasure to be in the presence of my loyal servants."
The large man to the right of Rol gave a small snort but remained still.
Paril spread his arms wide and cast his gaze upon the hundred or so beings seated around the great hall.
“Ambassadors, councilors, generals . . . ” Paril’s voice was rich and the distant walls of the great hall gave it an extra depth. “I have today received a communication from Corquin. The Niracs have surrendered.” A ripple of approval traveled through the hall. “We are triumphant.” The ripple became a wave. “We have conquered the twin planets of Miranden.” The shouts and cheers from the audience became deafening.
Paril waited for the noise to abate before continuing. “After seven long years, the war is over, and . . . ” He lowered his arms and looked around the hall; his voice fell and he shrugged. “That’s about it. We’ll pay you ’til the end of the week. Be sure and clear out your desks, and, ah, thanks for all your help. Couldn’t have done it without you. Really.”
The great hall fell into silence. Their fears had not been unfounded.
Opening: Nick Berggreen.....Continuation: Anonymous