A Plea to Haven

Kainah stood outside the Gates of Haven with the Envoys who came to interrogate the caravan of people she had gathered to bring here. Everything that she had gone through over the past few months was all coming down to this. She had no idea what they were going to report on given their limited experience among her people, but she couldn't think that it would be anything too good after the infighting that they were witness to.

Slowly the thick, heavy gates creaked open. The thick walls protecting Haven created a deep tunnel overhead as they moved through to the next gate. The blinding light of the city still caused her to cover her eyes the moment the last gate opened, but as soon as they adjusted the most beautiful sight washed over her. The large, sprawling farmlands of healthy crops, farm animals, and orchards that surrounded the mountain city were a welcome sight. Small houses peppered amongst the grasslands with smoke lazily climbing out of their chimneys, farmers in the fields, children in the grass playing, it was home. In the center, the small mountain where the city itself resided.

She was given a horse from the stables to take up to the council chambers as quickly as possible. The poor envoys went to sit in the back of a luxury carriage as they got taken up to their homes to rest from their trying time outside the city. It was obvious to her that they weren't ready for such a journey. The Sentinels should have kept the Envoys to people like her an Ararnus, those who were born outside of Haven, or those who at least remembered the war, but how many of them were left. Those born inside the city, who didn't want for anything, who had never wanted for anything, they were the ones who believed that Haven should remain shut off. It was almost impossible to convince even the kindest ones that it was time to reopen the gates of the city again, to begin the gauntlet again. She hoped that their time out in the real world would show them the severity of the situation, why Haven needed to do more than just exist in this world.

Her mind was on this as she rode from the outer walls to the inner city. The ride took almost and hour, and then about another to make it through the mismatched city to get to the council chambers. The city itself was interesting, complex. It was almost like cities within a city. There were six totally unique sections, each with their own distinct buildings, layout, and design. She steered clear of the two derelict sections, that had been closed off for as long as she could remember. Not too long before she had arrived in the city there was an accident that had happened there damaging many of the buildings and killing many of the inhabitants within. The Sentinels had recently started revitalizing those sections to provide housing for those who were set to complete in the gauntlet.

Near the top of the small mountain that the city was built on were the tall white pillars of the governing district. This was something that Kainah had never seen outside of Haven, but it was said that it was the oldest building in the city. Entering the grand hall and then the council chambers Kainah couldn't help but feel small as the tall seats surrounded her in a semicircle.

On the far left sat Epilies, though he went by Doc to most. He was the Sentinel in charge of matters that dealt with population in the city. He always wore a leather mask with a long snout and always had his skin covered. It's said that he was badly injured during the War and needed to remain covered at all times since.

Next to Epilies was Ristec Vendathal, a female Biata with purple and black feathers and clothing. She was the cities general and the Sentinel of war. She has always fought for keeping an army at the ready incase anyone should attack the city, but they really act more like a guard now more than anything as there hasn't been a serious attack against the city in centuries. It is probably a good thing that Ristec kept them well trained, Kainah felt that they would be grateful for that army before too long.

On the far right sat Desad, a hobbling who always was dressed in the best finery that was only half as grand as the welcoming smile that he always wore on his face. He was the Sentinel of supplies and is the one who is responsible for keeping the city fed. He also had a love for throwing parties to keep the citizens of the city happy. The spring festival held every march was always something that Kainah enjoyed.

Sitting between Desad and Ristec was Neysa. A human who was blinded and eyes that were so badly scarred that she always had them covered. She was the Sentinel of law and justice.

With a loud bang the chamber doors closed behind them. The group bowed and waited to be acknowledged. It wasn't too long before Desad was on his feet “Welcome back!” He cheerly called. “Daughter of Haven. I hope that your trip wasn't overly trying.” He paused for a second. “Kainah, I do apologize for the abruptness of which we are taking, but we do not believe that pleasantries are of importance right now. Our Envoys reports were already sent to us, and they seemed to paint a terrible picture. We had many questions for you ...”

He turned to Neysa and she stood, even with her eyes covered she face Kainah “Yes, we have had some disturbing reports from these people. Talks of salvery, those who are afflicted with necromancy. Then there are some who think that we forcefully removed them from their lands and displaced them. We were also told of a cannibal hunting party that had been chasing the majority of these people from almost the moment that they had come into contact with you, if not before then. We even have heard that one of them is your father. It seems that we need to try to hear the full story.”

Kainah sighed. She didn't want to have to get into all of this very moment of her return but now was just as good as any time as any. “When I left here, over six months ago now, you told me to go back to my old clan and to gather as many as I could to come back here. I know of the troubles that you have been having and that you were finally willing to open the gauntlet again. As you know, I was one of the last to make it through the challenge before you closed it down. I went back to my people, It was there that I learned of my mother's death. Speaking to my brother before I left I found out that she had left to kill my father. It seems that the opposite happened and now my brother sits on the council. But that wasn't enough to earn trust with my people. You see, I’ve been gone too long. The once proud group of people who made it their purpose to free slaves, and to protect the weak were now struggling to survive. If you were to hear from Ararnus and the others that you sent out then you would know that they have probably found the same issues with their own tribes when they went home.”

“The world is falling apart out there. We have been hidden away, safely tucked behind our walls for too long. I was able to learn a lot in my journey . It's true that my father was among the cannibals. One of the main ones who harassed the group as they came towards the city. He was now a necromancer, something that I thought that I would never see as he was the one who founded the Life Wardens, the fighters against necromancy on the outside. He was the one who first taught earth magic. When he saw me he had me captured, corrupted, and enslaved. This,” her voice broke for a moment as she realized that she was not becoming impassioned instead of dealing with facts. “This is just one example of how the outside world has been falling apart.”

“For the last few weeks I have been receiving dreams. Dreams that talk of a different founding of Haven. I know that others in my group have been receiving theses dreams too. I don't know why I have been receiving them, but more than anything it is a harsh reminder of how the world was during the time of the great war, and how little everything has changed since then. How much we still need to grow, to band together. There is an evil out there. Azel, and this Xestiliphone who claims that he is also a Sentinel as such as yourselves. Soon, I predict, we will have enemies at our gates. And I really don’t think that this is the time for us to start to be choosy with who we let in to the city. Where we need every person who we can get to fight back against these people who seek to destroy the little bit of safety that we have managed to scrape together in these years since the war. Not only that we need to protect those out there who can not protect themselves!”

Kainah could feel her emotions rising within her, and her hands were balled up in fits of rage. She slowly took a deep breath, exhaled, and continued and a calmer tone.

“In truth, it doesn't matter to me what it says in those reports. It's probably all true. I delt with the slavery issue. It seems to be mostly a misunderstanding and the potential victim has chosen to forgive the slight. According to our own laws the matter is dropped. I personally vouch for every member of the caravan of people who I have gathered. I believe that they are all capable of taking a chance to run the gauntlet. I am asking that you allow them all to”

Kainah felt her chest heaving after her speech. Almost surprising herself with how strongly she felt about the matter. Above her, the chamber echoed with the voices of the Sentinels as they discussed what she had just said. There was a slight hush and then she heard from Ristec, “And where do you think that these people will stand if this is to come to war as you predict?” She was asked

Kainah thought for a moment, “Right now, I don't know. Most, I think would be on our side. But the others…” she thought about her next words carefully, “ you have to understand. To the majority of people out there, we are the enemy. We are the ones who are the reason why they aren't safe. Why their loved one goes missing. Why their child doesn't have enough food. Sure, we aren't directly responsible. How could we be? But in our inaction we have chosen the side of the cannibals and slavers that take their loved ones and burn their crops. While we stay safe they suffer. I say that we need to show that we care. Open the outer gates to those who wish to run the gauntlet. Show them all the things that Haven is and can be. Let them know about your plans to have Haven expand to allow more in. To create new Havens in other places so that more are safe. Show that you care about more than this city. That all people here are worthy of your protection.”

More discussion was heard above. “And what of people like Sebastion, those who are responsible for the release of the pretender, Xestiliphone. What would you have us do with them?” Neysa asked her.

“Where is Sebastion now?” She had to ask about her friend.

“He is being held until his trial. Your words now might have a sway on how that might unfold.” Neysa said almost bored.

“I truly can't claim to understand the motives of Sebastian. I believe that he felt that he was doing the right thing. Though, I believe this to be a unique situation. If this person was being held in Haven there is no doubt in my mind that he would have acted in the same way. This Xestiliphone seems to be a master manipulator and has been able to fool many. I would ask for mercy and hope that you understand that it was out of ignorance that all involved acted and not out of malice.”

Again the group discussed above her. Kainah couldn't help but think of her own council from back home. They talked amongst themselves for a few minutes in hushed tones, every so often one would turn back and look at Kainah. After a few more minutes has passed they returned to their positions and Desad stepped forward.

“We have come to a decision” Desad declared. “We will do as you suggest and open our outer gates to those wishing to run the gauntlet. From there we will hope that all who do will either become citizens with us here or return to their people and tell them of all of the wonders of our city. We will also allow all of those you have gathered to accept the gauntlet. We trust your opinion and don't think that you would set anyone up to this challenge who you do not deem fit. We will also be making an effort to go and meet these people. We are willing to admit that we have cut ourselves off from much of the world. It was never our intention to cause the world harm with our absence. We will do what we can to change this, hopefully for the better.”

“For now, please go, rest and relax. You can give us a full report in the morning. We will have some people go out and fetch this group of yours and bring them into the city. Give them food and temporary lodging. You can go and see them once they are steeleed. You have done us proud Kainah. Let us see in a few weeks time when they attempt the gauntlet if all that you have suffered since you have left us was worth it.”