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Cry for the Wolf, Chapter 6. by Richard WalkerA better breakfast would surely have helped, but that wouldn't have actually solved anything, either.
"There, now, dear. We've been over it all, and naught left to chance or spite that either of us can find. Your preparations are solid without being too conservative, nor so profligate as to be unseemly." Rhiarra took Mother Olivia's hand and squeezed it gently for thanks before turning to Fossen.
"Fossen, wouldst be so kind as to go into the court to check with the chief clerk on how far the council has progressed with the business on the docket? This waiting is killing me." Fossen gave her a bright, knowing grin and spoke to the ushers, who quickly waved him into the chamber. She turned to Mother Olivia.
"Where is abbot Sagacious? Has anyone seen him or heard aught of him?"
"I know not, dear. I saw him last speaking with the secretary of the archbishop of Entingfast yesterday, over to the Chancery." Rhiarra looked to Father Albinus, who shrugged.
"I saw him last in the sacrist's office in the cathedral, earlier this morning." Just then, Fossen returned from the court hall.
"I saw him speaking with the steward of the household of the bishop of Fallond, in the fountain court on the way over here."
"Have any of you spoken to him?! Will he come?" But they all agreed that none of them had had an opportunity to speak to him. "So there is no way of knowing what business he has been about, short of some wizard's tricks." They looked at her askance for her raising the specter of irreligious magick. The bailiff poked his head out into the hall one more time and this time the ushers nodded to Fossen.
"Come, it is time we should repair to the court, Rhiarra's petition will be coming up for consideration by the Holy Fathers shortly. Rhiarra passed a pleasant smile and nod to the chief clerk as they entered the great chamber. He smiled broadly in return.
It was a large and finely appointed chamber, with marble-framed fireplaces at either end of the raised dais where the massive dormant table of the Fathers stood. A cloth of expensive scarlet covered the table, artfully swagged in front, secured to the great brass candelabrum sitting on each of the two front corners of the table. The twelve dour-faced Fathers sat ranged along the far side of the table, gazing out over their staff of clerks and the petitioners, plaintiffs, and defendants of the court standing on the other side of the bar that divided the room in half. Heavy tapestry work covered the walls on the Fathers' side of the bar, but all of the square-shouldered windows, tall and narrow cut with semi-circular heads, were hung yet with the heavy curtains of winter, now tied back to reveal the shutters which had been thrown wide to let in the warming sunlight.
The crier summoned Rhiarra to the bar, Father Albinus at her side, the rest standing close behind.
The chief clerk, genial enough but all business now, read the petition aloud. The contents raised quite a few murmurs and even more eyebrows on both sides of the bar. Petitions of this sort weren't often pursued, and she had known once she brought the suit the news would be one of the hot topics of discussion all over town by supper that night, and with it a resurrection of speculation and re-hashing of all the old gossip.