The Order of the Speakers
The Speakers are an order of Lightsworn that deal with possibly the most precarious of positions within the order, and that is negotiations and politics. It has been mentioned before that the Order of the Lightsworn will never take office and will never weigh in on political debate or sit on any permanent council. However, they may act as ambassadors to cities who request aid, temples, or counsel. The art of negotiation is not an easy one and it is not easily achieved by those who wish to keep their integrity and honor in tact. Through many of my journeys, despite my better efforts to diffuse many situations, the art of negotiation in my companions was lacking. Indeed there have been moments where I myself was at a disadvantage and unable to sway parties. It is not an easy game, as my compatriots would represent over and over. I learned the end result of this after the brawl at the Spicy Harlot. It was there that I found compelling counsel in a most unlikely person.
Darius and I sat on the steps of the brothel. I had been upset and aggravated by the negotiations in which again, though I thought I was seeming level headed, my wishes directly conflicted with those of not only Celene, the woman now “in charge” and my companions. Celene wished to operate the brothel with our consent. I would not willing participate in what I considered illicit carnal relations. My compatriots wished to make a deal with Celene which is where negotiations additionally broke down in my unwillingness yet again as well as the negotiating skills of our group. I gave over a powerful bargaining chip in the control of the constructs for the brothel and stormed out.
Darius and I sat. Silently. I was upset, Darius was worn out. We needed to rest, but I could not calm myself it seemed. I tried to compose myself as Darius dozed off. Inside I could hear the clamoring and clatter of drinking and what sounded like an ape swinging from the rafters, and so I never heard the foot steps behind me.
“You sure he wouldn’t be more comfy in one of the rooms?” I turned to see Celene again, silhouetted in the door frame. I looked over at Darius who was fast asleep on the concrete then back to her. She continued as if to anticipate my objections, “I promise, no funny business. Or rather fun business. Just a bed. He’s earned it I can promise you. He’s got an iron will that one.”
I nodded and helped Darius to his feet, he seemed a little confused but I assured him as was well when one of Celene’s girls led him up the stairs leaving Celene and I outside.
“Join me for a drink would you? Inside where people aren’t running and rioting. You’ll be safer, not that you can’t take care of yourself.” I tried to remember manners, etiquette, and decency.
We walked into the brothel once more. Half burnt, half broken, mostly drunk save Jerric who was talking with Cesa Alera. It seemed so strange that they would connect now. He had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. However, the only thing that really mattered was that Jerric trusted her. If he trusted her, she earned my trust. Celene led me into a back office, probably one of Orem’s additional private rooms. It was very ornate with lots of rugs, pillows, and a fine wooden desk with chairs on either side. She sat behind it and offer the other seat to me which I took exhausted. She then produced a bottle of wine and two glasses.
“No thank you.” She poured both glasses anyway and extended a glass to me keeping hers raised to make a toast, I followed suit.
“To the Spicy Harlot’s new management.” I clinked the glass and took a sip. It was surprisingly good, it had been a long time that I had indulged in anything really since Wyldshire. “I might change the name. Who knows. Though branding is important.”
“You might consider shutting the whole thing down.” I said, probably snapping too much, but I was still upset.
“Oh dear. We’re passed that now honey. I won, you lost. Although I must say, you helped me win, so kudos to you too. I ought to give you a cut, but thankfully you wouldn’t take it even if I did.”
“There was no seeing reason. Between you or them.”
“Oh sweetie. There is plenty of reason. To me, you’re the one who isn’t seeing reason. But at least I know why you don’t. You’re not seeing the other side of the coin.”
“Like I said, I don’t begrudge how you make a living. I just don’t want to be a part of it.” She took another sip of her glass practically smiling through it.
“And I don’t want to be a part of yours. We can agree there. But you are in trouble if you thinks that’s all that counts Lightbearer.”
“Lightsworn.” I corrected.
“Oh yes, that’s right. You’re the one aren’t you. Excommunicated. So what? Just going to go around splitting up the Church? The Dark Bringers will love that. You’re going to lose every negotiation unless you learn to play ball love.”
“I don’t want to play by the rules of the world that we live in now. I want to negotiate and change the world according to the goodness that I know is somewhere in all of us.”
“And that’s sweet. I love it. I really do Santos.” Her demeanor changed, it almost sounded understanding, as if she was talking from a different life. She stood and began to walk around the desk to me, “But that’s not the world I want. There’s no black and white. There is a ton of gray. Even your religion has gray. I don’t want to live in your world, you don’t want to live in mine. But we’re sharing it right now aren’t we? I’m not going to force my world on you though. Are you going to force yours on me?” It spoke to one of my truest beliefs; that free will and choice should never be altered. Everyone should live the life they choose. You always have a choice. I relaxed.
“No. No I’m not. I’m sorry Celene. I shouldn’t have been so bombastic, to you or my friends. I should have just opted not to negotiate.”
She put a hand on my cheek, “Oooh, there might be hope for your little religious rebellion after all with you in charge. But never opt out of negotiating. Never. You can’t let people like me and that Ronin run the world either can you?” She chuckled and took another drink refilling her glass and sitting down again, getting comfortable in her new role.
“Yes, balance is important, but I feel like I’m not very good at negotiation.”
“Oh you’re fine. You’re just too proud. You’re not willing to get dirty. That’s where I have the upper hand love. Good is predictable. So is evil by the way, just not nearly as useful in the long run. The only way to win is to be fluid.”
“I don’t think I have that in me. I want to stand by my morals. My integrity. The world is watching every move I make, and I am representing a entirely new religion. I have to be a pillar, a beacon.” She smiled, either amused or inspired by the weight on my shoulders.
“Maybe you don’t. But you’re going to need people who can.”
“We can’t really have corrupt Lightsworn. Then we’re no better than the Church in its fall.”
“There is a big difference between corruption and cunning. I can speak the truth to you all night, and I have, and can get you to see things from my end, which I think you have. It’s not about corruption or integrity or honor. You can keep your soul’s armor nice and clean and still win with cunning. Cunning is what makes a negotiator. Cunning is what wins the battle of wits. Cunning survives and cuts through every society. If you’ve got enough cunning, you can sell firewood to a dragon.”
She was right about many things in very short work. “I suppose you’re right. I can’t very well have ex-Templar handle negotiations. People aren’t exactly forthcoming when you have a large weapon and a dangerous reputation.” I took a sip of the wine, feeling more comfortable myself, hoping that it was the effects of the conversation and not the beverage. “Thank you Celene.”
“Of course darling. And as I said before to the rest of the boys. You always have a room here. Even though you say you don’t want it.” She refilled my half finished glass and gave herself another full one, nearly finishing off the bottle. I had been wrong about her. I had been quick to anger. It had been a long day. And now, in the dim light of the room with someone I would not have shared a word with a year ago, I learned about the world, my faith, and myself. I smiled.
“Celene. If I am ever in Oasis again, although I feel we’ve already worn out our welcome, I would gladly stay here at your house, however you see to call it. But don’t think I won’t bring the Light with me. You’re liable to lose employees and patrons if they see me around.” She smiled back, enjoying the absurdity of it all. A man of the cloth with an open invitation to one of the seediest brothels in Majeria.
“You going to keep taking my girls away hun?” Referring to two young ladies who I convinced to leave the work of the brothel and join the Lightsworn.
“No, but just as you say I am always welcome here. You and yours are always welcome in my house. The door is always open.” And with that we clinked glasses.
The world can be a Dark place. It need not be a demon summoned, or a God’s wrath, or a mage seeking absolute power. More times than not, it is the words and treaties of men that set into motion the wrongs of the world. A law outlawing people based on nothing but fear. An edict demanding fealty to one man regardless of quality. A verbal disagreement that leads to civil war. A misunderstanding leading to exile. Words can break shields and sheathe swords. Words can open doors. Words can inspire the needs of the people. Words can cool the fires of miscomprehension. To open these doors, to keep allies, and make peace with enemies, words should always be our first course of action. Though it may seem simple, the smallest phrase delivered incorrectly can set into motion monumental actions.
The Speakers will open doors to new cities, make alliances, partnerships, and negotiate where needed. They will always be the first course of action when dealing with individuals who can be negotiated with. Some people cannot be negotiated with, and as long as they do not directly seek in the harm and destruction of others, they can be left to their devices as needed. Those that choose not to negotiate and seek to send pain to any must answer to the other Orders of the Lightsworn and the world at large if there still be Light in it. But first, words. Always words. Cunning and Compassion is the way of the Speakers. May it they always lead with the Light first.