12th of Corantine, 1669 AV
Maria stands behind the makeshift council table, nodding to the assembled advisors.
“That’s settled then. We’ll petition Governor Ramsbottom for the loan of some troops to defend against any attack, and hope that he doesn’t demand too much in return.
“We have several other matters to discuss, including the sad duty of filling a gap in our own ranks. Lady Olinda has petitioned for the right to step into Casamiro’s role, and I am inclined to acquiese to this request, unless there are any strong objections. But this leaves us in need of a new Treasurer. Olinda has suggested Lady Isabela as a candidate, but I would like to hear if there are other suggestions.
“And, of course, we need to continue to expand as we can here in Santa Marina. I am also open to options for building.”
General Mondalvo immediately jumps to his feet, glaring across the table at Alex and Keman before speaking. “Recent decisions have highlighted the need for military defenses. If we are going to put our people in danger by allowing witchcraft, we will need some way to protect them. We need at least a Barracks to allow up to begin training our own troops, and possibly Walls or a Watchtower.”
Clearing his throat, Francisco stands and waits for the angry murmuring to die down before speaking.
“Governor Santiago”, he says, avoiding eye contact. “There is a clear danger to the people of Santa Marina, and a clear source of that problem. Several of us have decided that the best course of action would be to leave the colony and remove a large part of the reason for the Bishop-Major’s wrath. We expect this will allow him to spare the rest of the settlement, or at least treat you leniently.”
Maria’s face pales in shock as multiple voices erupt in anger or agreement. Fabiano and Olinda immediately raise objections, while Mondalvo exclaims in happy surprise. It takes several minutes for the tumult to die down enough for Maria to speak, the slight tremor in her voice belying her attempt to look regal and aloof.
“If so much of our council were to leave, the disruption could be catastrophic. We might not survive long enough for the inquisitor to forgive anyone.”
Francisco bows, still unable to look the young woman in the eye. “We’ll remain to see to the defense of the town, and as much a possible to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. Other pressing matters call, and lightening the load on the souls of Santa Marina is too important to ignore.”
Several more minutes of arguing are again interrupted by the Governor.
“I can see that all of you are set on this course. Very well. We shall see to the defense of the town, search for new council members amidst the people, and make the best of a difficult situation.”
“That is all.”
After the last of the colony leaders leave the makeshift council chamber, Maria slumps in her chair and buries her face in her hands.