The town hall was still half finished, and the workers had at the moment been forced to shift their focus to more urgent projects. It had been a hot and dry summer so the lack of a ceiling in the big meeting hall had not caused to much trouble. Today however, there lay a thick and dark cloud cover, it reflected the tense atmosphere of the meeting below it.
"We leave on the troop ship Frost Shark when it comes to port in two months." Malcolm's youngest son, Jonas, spoke for the near dozen youths gathered before the council.
"Over my dead body, I'd tear up the harbor before I let you go of on such a pointless suicide mission!" Malcolm stood with white knuckled fists and a reddened face.
"Weren't you the one to say that we would be a shield against our enemies when we inaugurated the defense yard?" He raised his arm in a mocking imitation of his father's oration.
"Those were just beautiful words. We didn't mean for you to sacrifice yourselves for strangers you have never met!" Much of Malcolm's self-control had now fallen to the wayside, his voice echoed between the unveiled walls and petered off into an uncomfortable silence.
"We have already signed up and only came here as courtesy to you all, you will not change our decision." He got support from his peers, although some of those whose parents attended the council had difficulty meeting their eyes.
"It is true that we treated you as equals, gave you the freedom to make your own decisions, we have also fed you, given you shelter, training and an education. If you now on the threshold of your adult life, begin to act as self entitled children, is it not our responsibility to put you in... "Malcolm interrupted himself when he found he had struck the same pose that his son, had ridiculed just a moment ago.
"You are right Malcolm this is not a decision that should be taken in haste by of our sons and daughters." Vivian Stare put in. "But you're no longer alone in your rule and your current temperament and behavior may not be the most suited for making important decisions in the name of others. We have gathered an audience before the council, so let's vote. "A murmur of consent went through the hall. "I and David support our son. Our votes is, yes let them go."
Traditionally, Malcolm used to wait until last to cast his five votes, wanting to act as a tiebreaker in close calls. Here however, there weren't much doubt about his point of view and he immediately followed up with. "In theirs and all of ours best interest. I say no, let them stay here with us who actually care about them!"
Hannes the Butcher who today represented his and his brother's joint vote said, "For the sake of Vogan, I also say, no."
"It is our Elenian responsibility to help our fellow men in the north, yes in the name of Ea!" Barkman smiled and pushed out his chest like a proud dove. Malcolm scoffed with annoyance, it was not often as they shared opinions and the real estate owner's three votes were nothing he had expected to win. It was mostly the religious preaching that got on his nerves, if Malcolm read his rival right, it was just shallow posturing and a hollow attempt to follow his wife's more genuine zeal.
"I do not know how much of an impact you would have in such a big and unknown war ... But here you are our hope and future. I can not in good conscience give you my vote. No, do not leave us." Thread Klara's eyes were filled with tears and her voice was slightly unstable when she faced the hall.
"Of with you, make us proud!" He had predicted loosing the two votes of the masons. The Angerhall blood would certainly be attracted to a challenge such as this. But it still came as a blow. Serge, did after all have a debt of gratitude to Malcolm...
The count was now balanced with seven on either side with only Fabian from The Lark left to cast his vote. "This is not a responsibility I wanted to rest on my shoulders... I do not believe we should restrain our youths right of choice just because they made a decision we do not agree with. You have my vote, but I would like to encourage you to think about what you are heading into before you set off. Don't waste these two months. "
Malcolm slumped down against the wall, even his own cousin had turned on him. The people in the room were now mixing, as parents and wards exchanged congratulations and regrets. Jonas sat down next to his father. "Sorry, it was not right for me to insult you in front of everyone... I know you're afraid of my sake, I am too, but I have to do this. If not, I would regret it for the rest of what you seem to hope would be a long and boring life. If I come back, I promise you can market our victory any way you want! " He grinned conspiratorially at Malcolm, who quietly laid his head on his son's shoulder.