Saturday, October 17, 2015
One week later....
Erik arrives early and begins setting up for the meeting - pushing tables together, mounting a town map on the bulletin board. Perhaps ten minutes later, Raina shows up. Seeing her brother already there, she helps him make the common room ready. Erik sees her, gives her a wave and a distracted smile, then goes to the bar and has words with Monty. Monty shakes his head, his refusal as plain as large print. Erik continues to press, but it's clear that he's met the immovable object. Finally acknowleging defeat, he claps the marmuur on the shoulder with a smile and goes back to work.
People mill around in groups of two or three, talking animatedly but quietly. The mood is somber, even grim. Patti and Monty circulate silently among the crowd, bringing drinks, receiving hushed thanks in lieu of cash.
It's like the mood immediately preceding an execution.
Off in a well-lit corner, Raina and Erik are speaking. Warriors born, they understand better than most that circumstances dictate tactics; tactics do not dictate circumstances. You have to deal with things the way they are, not the way you wish they could be. Still and all, both would give much to be able to come to a different conclusion than the one they have reached.
The only way to draw the Drow in is to use the kids as bait.
Around them in the big room, the same conclusion is being argued - and found to be unassailable. No one wants to do it - but no one can suggest an alternative.
Sometimes life sucks.
Raina and Erik have accepted the inevitability of the conclusion and are talking now, trying to make the security surrounding the children as airtight as they possibly can. No one notices the slight figure moving dispiritedly through the room, making desultory conversation. It's strange, for any other time she would command attention, even admiration for her beauty; but tonight thoughts are far from beauty.
"Either Teri or Tommy, then - and Ruarc. Ru is the one prize they won't be able to resist." Erik takes a deep drink of the amber liquid at his right hand, looking haunted. "I'd almost rather it be Teri; I don't relish being the one to tell Alise that we're using any of the kids for bait, but especially not one of hers."