Asad frowned and prepared his rebuttal, but he must have been taking too long, because Qorvass stepped in to help as Axiolis floated up behind them both.
‘The Rainlords are our allies,’ said Qorvass. ‘It is as simple as that. We may have had our difficulties with them in the past, but that was generations ago. We have moved beyond it. And now, we are confronted with a test. We should do for the Rainlords what we would want the Rainlords to do for us.’
“And if we assist them now,” Asad added, “it will solidify the bond between us more strongly than ever before. And it is a bond that all of us here--all of our fathers and grandfathers, even--have been nurturing for centuries. Consider what that would mean for our children! Consider what an unshakeable foundation of camaraderie it would establish!”
Abbas’ reaper drifted forward. Worwal was his name, and Asad was not looking forward to what he was about to say. The reaper had proved to be their most difficult obstacle in each of their previous meetings. ‘The vengeance seekers would have us believe they are instead aspiring to greatness.’ Worwal’s tone was not one of condescension or mockery. It was only flat and cold observance.
Asad couldn’t entirely refute the statement, either. So he didn’t try. “It is true that I want vengeance for the Elroy family. My friendship with Zeff is no secret.” He paused, considerate of his next words. He was abruptly reminded of what his fight with Zeff had been about. “What is a secret, however, is my proposal to join my family with his.”
That sent a ripple through his audience. Asad could already see the disapproving looks on their faces.
‘What are you doing?’ Qorvass said privately.
Asad ignored the question. “Yes, it is true. I made such an offer to him several months ago. My son Midhat with his daughter Emiliana. But perhaps you will be relieved to hear that he refused me.” He paused again to observe their expressions. “I am telling you this now because it has been my hope for many years that our two peoples be united as one.” He eyed Worwal. “So you see, while I do want vengeance, it is not instead of any aspiration. I want both.”
“‘United as one’?!” said Hamza. “Now you are just speaking nonsense!”