Once again, Atlas has made a mockery of what we have accomplished.
Today, we had to attend a council meeting. I was healed by Michael last night and over night, the rest of my wounds took care of themselves. Dagur seemed to still be sufferring from the chest wound that I'd left him with. I will not lie and say that I gained no satisfaction from knowing that he was so severely injured. In fact, I derive great satisfaction from that knowledge. I spoke to Kurr's House, offerred to loan them the funds with which to purchase land from the new lands beyond the inner wall.
I should note here that these lands are due to Zenisha and Michael siphoning energies from Victoria. The orb is killing her. I don't know what to do about it. I've put on a brave face and made my jokes but, the horror of my inability to do anything is terrible.
After making my offer to another house, The protectors of the roadways beyond the city, I also explained the concept of tolls to them. It was as if they had never imagined such a thing. Whereas in Chicago, to cross many of the major roadways, one must pay a toll of somesort. The head of that House was quite keen on the concept of Tolls. It was quite satisfying to explicate such a thing.
We were called in and dealt with quite a few matters. Michael respectfully and quite admirably defended the Vardr against the representative of the Unhoused. I feel rather distressed about referring to other people as "commoners" so, I refuse to. The Bondi and Thrall are real people with real concerns and I will do what I can to defend their interests as well.
We discussed the matter of the investigation into the undetectable hollow ones. It was concluded that the Vardr would need more funding. A tax would be enacted to increase the funding to their efforts. I leapt at the chance to defend Hafstein's House. I proposed that the Nobles be the only ones to pay the tax and attempting to explain fairly basic economic theory but, found that the issue was too complicated or they were feigning ignorance.
Essentially, it boiled down to the fact that I was proposing that the nobles pay their share. I proposed the tax as "rebellion insurance" in a bid to use self-preservation to shock them into compliance. This worked to an extent but, Lady Celeste moved to postpone the tax until the matter could be "understood better." This was an obvious ploy to delay the matter into oblivion. I countered that we deny the motion under the fact that the need was now, not in some speculated future time.
The council recessed and immediately, I went to lobby for the tax.
I was again impressed that Michael chose to lobby as well. He was effective in isolating the Head of the House that created the ticktocks. They were in dire straits and had much of their work confiscated after the debacle of the ticktocks going rogue and taking control of the Ash Quarter. He wound up with a fairly poor deal where he, through his adopted House, would fund all research and pay for all materials but would only receive 50% of the profits. It wasn't a great deal but, Michael negotiated it all on his own so, I didn't intervene.
I spoke to the lawyer House that my House has on retainer. They had some great advice. They suggested creating a trust of sorts where only the head of the Vardr can remove the funds from. The trust's ledger would be meticulously maintained. Together, we fell upon Elias, the representative of the unhoused as the man for the job of treasurer. He would be unable to take any of the funds but would be responsible for making sure that the ledger properly matches up with what it should. Elias struck me as a man of considerable faith and bravery. I have no doubts that he would perform his job with zealous perfectionism. When he accepted the position, I was amazed and concerned for him. Such a position is fraught with danger for one who refused temptation.
When we reconvened, I presented my proposal as an amendment to my previous proposal regarding the tax. This served to relieve some fears as the nobles knew Elias to be a man with slavish devotion to his ideals. Celeste again attempted to prevent the tax by floating the idea that Elias could easily be killed and the entire tax and trust would become useless. This wasn't true on multiple levels but, it didn't prevent the nobles from feeling that it was a reason to abandon the entire endeavor.
The fact is that should Elias die, any one of us and in fact all of us could ask to look at the ledger. This means that since no House wants any other house to profit too much, we would all act as a check to each other. Also, should Elias die, the vampire council could act as treasurer. This would create a massive disincentive to manipulate the ledger. The vampire council however did one better, they granted Elias a title of Treasurer and granted him the full protection of the vampire council.
Elias is basically untouchable.
The rest of the time was occupied by smaller issues until we were done. When the council ended, Celeste confronted me while I was walking out with Victoria and Michael. She provoked me and I hit back a bit. Things got pretty heated but, Victoria eventually stepped in and defused the situation.
If it had ended there, this entry would leave me jubulant and proud. It didn't end there. Atlas had to have his say. I watched and could do nothing as he called to Celeste. "Celly," he called her. Only when he said it, I knew that it wasn't a romantic nickname. There was not affection here. Instead it was a diminutive meant to make her feel small. Another way to flex his power over her.
"come here," he told her. I couldn't fathom why she did. She was a proud noble woman and I was her enemy even if she also wanted me to be her lover. With two quiet sentences, he tore her apart in ways that I could do nothing but pity her. His words were like brutal knives stabbing over and over into her. He did this with glee. She lashed out verbally, wildly accusing Victoria of being a woman of improper character. Her face was contorted into a mixture of impotent rage and fear as she saw her beloved Atlas again.
I actually wished that I could comfort her. She deserved to pay for what she has done. She deserved to be punished for setting Dagur on my friends. She deserved to suffer for mutilating a stranger to make a point. She didn't really deserve this. This was brutal in ways that I could never bring myself to act. Where I have limits, Atlas has none.
She threatened to cut Victoria to pieces and his response was that she "use small boxes." His callousness knows no bounds. Doesn't he need Victoria alive for now, at least? I suspect that the euphoria of hurting Celeste went to his head. He believes himself to be so intelligent, yet when he is at his most arrogant is when he is most vulnerable. He has taken a fire and willfully spread it into a wildfire that will consume everything that I hold dear, if we allow it.
Atlas turned our victory into a hollow mockery of itself.
I fear that I may have to be put to sleep like, the werewolf. I may be more dangerous that he could ever be. If I were to sleep however, would I be able to trust that Victoria would be safe? She can handle herself is a direct assault but, here in Nightsdeep, nothing is ever direct. They come at you from odd angles with weapons made of words draped in silks. I told Victoria that I may not be able to leave Nightsdeep. There is too much that must be fixed. Too much that cannot be allowed to stand unopposed forever. She handled it better than I expected. Now, I just hope that the next few days are better.
We need a few untainted victories.