silkysalem

Salem's Den Journal
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2003-02-17 19:09:46 (UTC)

Shallan's Gift, First half (Parts 1,2,3 revised) 1/24/2003


Shallan?s Gift

It was an ordinary day, mostly sunny with a few clouds in
the sky. As always, Lissa?s window overlooking the hills was
open, with a gentle breeze wafting in. Lissa called the
transport spell, but it did not respond. She looked at the
call-stone in puzzlement. ?Oh, no!? she cried out as she
remembered.


***


It had been a day very much like this one. She had sat on
the hill overlooking the river, meditating when Char had
come up behind her. He was considered handsome by most of
the women of the village, but Lissa could not see him as the
dashing young man they saw. To her, he would always be her
little brother.

?Lissa.? He spoke with concern.


?What now, Char?? she queried, annoyed at the interruption.


?Do you ever think about the Shallan? I mean... why does she
have so much power over us?? Char actually sounded worried.


?Well,? Lissa replied, ?She works hard, keeping track of all
the spells and such we use.?


?But why is it always her?? Char interrupted. He was
beginning to sound angry now. ?She never asks any of the
council members for advice. I think someone should get rid
of her so that the council can do its job in peace and we
don?t have to worry about always not making her the least
bit angry.?


?Char, you are getting angry. You know I don?t like to talk
to you when you?re being like this. Why don?t you go calm
down,? Lissa said firmly. She had never gone back to finish
that conversation. She never convinced him the Shallan was
necessary.

***


?Lissa, Lissa!? Grandmother cried rushing into the room,
startling Lissa out of her reverie. ?You?re going to be late
for lessons!?


?Grandmother, is your call-stone working? I can?t work the
transport spell.? Lissa flipped the stone over in her hands
a few times, with a look of concentration on her face. She
looked up in horror. ?Grandmother, none of the spells
encoded on mine are working!?


The aging woman pulled out a stone similar to the one that
Lissa was holding except that it was more worn. ?It is
cold.? Grandmother stated. ?Something happened to Shallan,
I?m sure.? Grandmother walked out of the room, with Lissa
trailing behind. Grandmother walked out of the house where
Lissa was temporarily living with her, and stepped out onto
the dusty road towards the council chambers. Lissa looked at
Grandmother strangely.


?Why are we walking towards the council? Why do we have to
go there?? The idea of visiting the council was agitating
Lissa.


?I never told you to follow me,? Grandmother chuckled, ?but
if you really want to know what is wrong with our
call-stones, you will probably want to come.? Lissa sighed,
but she knew that Grandmother was right. If Lissa was too
lazy to accompany Grandmother to the council, she probably
would not tell her what she found out there, on the grounds
that if Lissa really wanted to know, she would have come.


After walking a goodly distance on the dusty path, Lissa and
Grandmother arrived at the council, the most expensive
building in the village. It had very expensive large glass
windows to let in natural light, and a cooling system that
was not run by magic to cool it off on days such as this.
Lissa?s long dark hair was falling out of its braid and
sticking to the back of her neck. Lissa looked up at
Grandmother. Grandmother, being the only living elder woman,
looked as pristine as ever. Her graying hair pulled back
into a tight bun, with no stray hairs. Lissa felt like a
child in Grandmother?s presence, even though her coming of
age had been five years ago, on her sixteenth birthday.
Grandmother turned around and adjusted Lissa?s bodice. She
took Lissa?s hair and deftly pinned it back into a bun.
?There, m?dear, you look much more presentable now,?
Grandmother said in her warm, raspy voice.


Grandmother pulled open the door to the council chamber and
walked in, with Lissa hurrying to keep up with her. They
strode right in to the center of the room, passing through
the break in the tables. Lissa looked around in
astonishment. She had never been there before. There was a
large circular table, cut into quarters with a hole in the
center. When she had hurried to follow Grandmother she had
walked right in to the center. There was a pole there, and
tied to it, being questioned by the council, was Char.


?Char! What are you doing here?? Lissa blurted out. She
clapped her hands over her mouth. ?I?m so sorry, councilors!
I didn?t mean to interrupt!? The first lesson drilled into
Crei children was politeness to the elders, and to never
speak until spoken to. Yet, she walked in, and saw Char, and
spoken as only a sister can to a brother, oblivious to the
council proceedings going on.


?Its alright, Lady Shallan, you no longer have to fear the
council, or even be polite to us. We can but hope that you
will at least deign to be civil with us.? The council member
who spoke was not one that Lissa recognized. He had an
amused look on his face.


?Lady Shallan? You call me Lady Shallan! I am not Lady
Shallan! Lady Shallan was an aging woman when I was born.
How could you mistake me for her? Do I look that old?? Lissa
looked around the room, at the surprised faces of the
council members. ?What is so surprising? And, Char, what are
you doing here??


The council member let Lissa calm down before replying. ?I
suppose you never chose to study the laws of our land, milady.?


?Why would I have a need to study your laws? I am to be a
teacher of the youngest children, the children that are two
or three summers old. They have no need to learn of
government, and if all I am to do is teach them, why do I
need to learn the laws??


The councilman again took time before replying. ?There are
important laws, to deal with punishments for murder, and
other crimes. You are to say that you should stand ignorant
of these laws. So, we could condemn you to death for a crime
that you did not even know was a crime? That would be a
great mark on the record of the Council justiciars.?


?I didn?t mean that. Everyone knows what is right and what
is wrong... I?m not an idiot.?


?We know you aren?t an idiot, lady Shallan. How else would
you be Lady Shallan??


?I am not Lady Shallan!? Lissa spoke in an exasperated tone
of voice. ?How long will it take you to understand that? For
that matter, you still haven?t answered my question. Why is
Char here? And why is he restrained??

Cont. next entry

Continuation- Shallan's Gift, First half 1/24/2003
?Ah, but you are the Lady Shallan. Since you are so ignorant
of our laws, we will explain. The Shallan is chosen whenever
one Shallan dies. Usually, a young girl kills the Shallan.
In that case, the girl?s punishment is to take over as
Shallan, which is not as easy or as pleasant a task as it
may seem.?
Lissa interrupted him. ?Sir, I never murdered anyone. Or
killed anyone on accident. How can I be Shallan??


?The Shallan must be female.? It took a few moments for the
councilor?s words to sink in. Lissa turned to Char with a
look on her face that Char had never seen before. She looked
very angry, but with a pleased smile on her face at the same
time.


?Tell me, councilor, it says in your pretty lil book o? laws
there that the sister becomes Shallan if a man kills the
Shallan??


?Actually, it says the closest related female, and yes, that
is you.?


?So, has this ever happened before? What is the punishment
for the man who kills the Shallan?? Lissa had a very smug
look on her face, as if she was finally getting her way.


?There is no standard for punishment in such a case. There
hasn?t ever been such a case.? A worried look crept onto the
councilor?s face.


?So, who is the judge that sentences crimes with no
precedents?? Lissa goaded the councilor.


?You. The Lady Shallan.?


?Exactly. I sentence him to be my official assistant for the
next two years.?


?Lady Shallan, you may think that this is good for you now,
but yours is a situation in which you care for your brother.
In the future that may not be the wisest course of action.?


?Oh, I realize it won?t be as good for some folk as it will
for me, but hey, by the time the next Shallan comes, I?ll be
dead!?


The councilor could not refute that. For it was true, any
person to follow her would have to kill her, anyways. Why
not leave them a gift?the Shallan?s gift.


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