Mara nodded. Turning to the waiter, she placed her hand on his forearm. “Thank you. Now I wondered if I might trouble you?”
“Anything, Madam! What may I do for you?”
“Have you copies of the local evening fliers?”
“But of course. I will procure them for you.” Leaning in, he commented, “It is a most curious story about Mr. Townsend, is it not?”
The color drained from her face. Her grip tightened. “Did you say Mr.—Townsend?”
“Yes, that’s right, Dixon Townsend. From all I hear the City of Light is about to witness a real circus with a hearing for him. Just imagine, one of the Townsends!”
She patted his arm. “Yes, I’m sure. Ahhh . . . thank you. A copy of each of the fliers would be most helpful. Please put the expense on my tab.”
“Certainly. Room one-fourteen.”
She felt someone’s eyes upon her. She turned to the table to her left where sat the woman who looked familiar. Mara avoided making eye contact. “Let’s enjoy, but not linger,” she whispered to Nina.
When they returned to their chambers, the Oathtaker sat with her feet up on the bed, perusing The Vixen, the first of the three fliers the waiter had given her. Quietly, she read aloud:
The Official Council has been informed of possible wrongdoing by Dixon Townsend, Oathtaker to the former ranking member of the first family of the Select, Rowena Vala, a seventh.
Rowena’s sister, Lilith, a sixth, brought the information to the Council after Townsend, who had acted as Oathtaker to Rowena for nearly a decade, informed Lilith of Rowena’s death. Rowena had been pregnant at the time with her seventh child. In light of her premature and unexpected demise, Lilith informed the Council that she now acts as the current ranking member of the first family and of the Select.
While no charges have as yet been filed against Townsend, Lilith, in her new official capacity, has demanded a hearing into the matter.
Word is that Townsend, of the Brecken Townsends, insists he engaged in no wrongdoing and looks forward to answering all of the Council’s questions.
Townsend is the son of Brent and Francesca Townsend, well known for their history of service to Oosa.
Townsend’s late father, Brent Townsend, served many years as an Oathtaker. When no longer under oath, he returned to his hometown in the hinterlands where he married. He served as an advisor to the Council and is perhaps best known for his efforts in bringing the traitor, Madden Chantray, to justice. It was his role as prosecutor for the Council in the course of those hearings that made the Townsend name famous.
Francesca Townsend is well known and immensely popular among the people of Oosa for her programs to support Oosa’s working people by keeping taxes low and restrictions on their personal freedoms minimal.
The Council issued a public statement, insisting that a fair hearing will be held. ‘The Townsends have a long and honorable history in Oosa. Rest assured, Dixon Townsend will receive a full and fair hearing.’
The Oathtakers’ Guild published a statement providing that, based on Townsend’s history, it supports him unless or until the evidence should prove otherwise.
Others are not so supportive. Those related to The Citizens for Nonintervention, long opposed to the Select and the Oathtakers at any level, insist Townsend should be found guilty of treason not because of Rowena’s death or due to any part he may have played in the events leading to it, but simply by virtue of his role as an Oathtaker and his relationship with the Select over the years.
Lilith and her entourage will escort Townsend to the City of Light where even now, plans are being set in place for the hearing. Security is likely to be at its highest.
“The Citizens for Nonintervention. I’ve heard of them, but I had no idea they were opposed to the Select and Oathtakers ‘at every level.’” Mara frowned. “Interesting.” She put the flier down and took up The Messenbeck. “Let’s see,” she said, looking it over. “All right, here it is.” She read to Nina:
Dixon Townsend, former Oathtaker to Rowena Vala, the now-deceased ranking member of the Select, is in hot water yet again! Townsend, brought up on charges of wrongdoing, has been required to testify before the Council in the past.
Years ago, Townsend acted as Oathtaker to Judith Jenkins, a fourth of the Select, but not a member of the first family. Following her death, in what Townsend claimed was a riding accident, questions were raised about his behavior. Many believed his special relationship to members of the Council kept him from paying the ultimate price for treason to the Select at that time.
It comes as no surprise that the Guild supports Townsend. Even so, the Council plans to conduct a hearing into the matter in the City of Light.
This reporter notes that historically, the Select and their Oathtakers have repeatedly overreached at every turn.
Some years ago, after centuries of consistent and methodical intrusion into the affairs of the people of Oosa, the Select agreed to govern Oosa in part with the use of a Council that would represent various interests and factions. Notwithstanding, by maintaining control over those who would sit on the Council and by insisting on keeping the identity of the members confidential, the Select have managed to continually and systematically impress their ways upon the people of Oosa.
The Oathtaker looked up. “This is ridiculous. Oosa has gone nowhere but downhill since the Select gave the people what they purportedly wanted. I can’t believe this!” She shook her head. “And what’s this about ‘consistent and methodical intrusion?’ Who believes this stuff? All of Oosa was founded on the ways and teachings of the Select.”
“What does the last one say?” Nina asked.
“Oh, let me see.” Mara scanned The Seaman. “More of the same, really. Its a little less helpful than the account in The Vixen, but . . . Well, I guess if you read between the lines, it sounds more like The Messenbeck. Dear Good One, I had no idea people read such things. This is ghastly. Don’t they know their history?” She threw the fliers down.
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