Around the Council room, voices rise and fall in bickering and furious whispering in response to Math’s latest statement. The Archon breathes deeply. He knew it would not be an easy Council session. Not that there ever are such things as easy sessions. He looks up and closes his eyes, remembering the day when Nevieve, then an active Archon, stood in the exact same place as he does now and delivered her prophecy. It must have taken her a very large dose of certainty in her vision to stand here and be mocked by her fellow Archons. It is certainly uncomfortable to stand here like someone on trial. And yet, who is laughing now?
Math’s eyes drift to a chronically empty balcony and snorts. Anarai, Archon of Fate, would laugh at this. If she ever attended a meeting of the Council, that is. She never comes to these things. She knows must be done, she replies when questioned about her absences, and the procedures bore her. She might have stood by Nevieve then. She would laugh at her fellow Archons now. They should know better than to deny her.
“My fellow Archons, please–” Math pleads.
“You’ve had a week, Math,” Archon Taleloc’s voice booms from his balcony, echoing in the chamber like thunder in a summer night. “A week since Nekh was taken from existence. And this is all you bring us by way of answer?”
“What is a week to gods, especially in such cases?” Archon Ikenga intervenes, grumpily.
“Such cases?” Archon Chanti notes, her voice always a little too high-pitched for the comfort of all creatures endowed with a sense of hearing. “Have there ever been such cases? An Archon has been killed. By...bunnies!”
“I thought it was Death’s daughter who had been found near the body,” Archon Enki states placidly. “Do we even know if her Bunnies had anything to do with the situation other than just being there?”
Math shakes his head. “Not yet,” he replies. “I have two gods, a gryphon, seven Bunnies and a dead body in an otherwise empty room. And none of them are talking...yet.”
“Does it matter?” Archon Eriseth hisses, poison dripping from her words. “It was all because of her creations! And what are you waiting for to get them to talk?” she demands, adding an accusation of incompetence to her question.
“Bodies and minds need to heal,” Math states in patient, but strained tones. “Healing takes time.”
“Time we don’t have, Math,” Taleloc admonishes him. “The news of Nekh’s demise has spread like mice in crop fields, feeding on speculation and leaving ruin in its wake. It is imperative that we put this issue to rest as quickly as possible in the great theatre of public opinion.”
The rumor of whispered words rises again in general agreement with Taleloc’s statement, making the whole room sound like a rather upset beehive.
“Most of all, we have to make justice,” Eriseth’s voice cries from the shapeless murmuring, feeding it with her anger. “It’s annihilation for them all, I say! Quick and easy!”
“Calm your slithering tongue, Eriseth!” Math growls at the goddess. “Nekh was no force of Good and we all know that! Some of us even better than the others!” He looks intently around the now very silent room. “Was he not holding so many of the people in this room by the short end, after all?”
“Even so, Math, justice must be seen to be served,” Archon Dergallin intercedes, firm but fair. “The last thing we want is to create martyrs among the Death clan.” His tone becomes sharper. “Or even among your own. Nekh’s activities will have to be investigated as much as your Sergeants’.”
“As always, you are the voice of reason, Dergallin,” Math retorts. “And what do you suggest to that end?”
“A representative from the Court Dei will follow your people in their investigation,” Enki declares. “She will also interview the suspects. No special treatment must be seen to be granted.”
“A lawyer, then?” Math wonders.
“More like an independent investigator,” Enki offers. “We have picked her from among the Ketu gods. You know of their fabled eye for the truth.”
Math nods slowly in resentful agreement. “Yes… Who doesn’t? Albeit their unhealthy tendency to plot against us.”
Dergallin’s sigh carries, soft and heavy, across the room. “I will tell you, fellow Archon, that I am not so sure if they should be frowned upon for doing so. It seems to be a popular pastime, after all.”
“What about the Bunnies?” Archon Anura asks, her voice serene like a summer breeze. “Should we assume the prophecy is fulfilled? We don’t even know what part they played in this.”
“One way or another, they’re at the center of this,” Chanti states to a number of whispered echoes of her words from other Archons.
“Where are they now?” Enki enquires.
“At my estate,” Math replies. “All but Inspector Tuma-Sukai and the gryphon have been kept on house arrest at my estate to recover, only allowed to leave under escort. The Bunnies refuse to talk about the incident, but flock around their mother–”
“Mother?” Taleloc exclaims.
Math merely nods. “That is what they call her.”
“Stupid artificial creations, presuming to have ancestry like proper lifeforms!” Eriseth shrieks in bewilderment. “Mother… Their kind didn’t even exist until that reckless goddess brought them to life.”
“If she created their entire species, would that not merit even greater devotion from them?” Archon Kadmyl intervenes. “Besides, we are still to find exactly how they were created. Arion has left us with that mystery to solve.”
“Barely out of her infant robes and already creating the weapons of our destruction,” Enki says, his voice carrying more sadness than anger.
“It is of no consequence,” Ikenga grunts. “Nevieve has refused to answer our callings and confirm that the prophecy is fulfilled. It is up to us to determine if they are no longer a threat or if we should still consider their elimination.”
“Would it be wise to eliminate them now?” Anura inquires. “People might ask questions we do not wish to answer.”
“And look what happened to Nekh…” Taleloc notes.
Silence spreads across the room as the Archons consider the possibility of sharing in Nekh’s fate. Slowly, the murmurs rise again, bickering and disorganized, panicked and misshapen.
Eriseth finally molds them into words. “Well, at least keep them away from us. They have caused enough damage as it is.”
The murmurs rise and rise, agreeing with Eriseth, much to Math’s growing frustration. The whispering and hissing fill the room like the buzzing of millions of hysterical bees, overwhelming and smothering, solid and shapeless, drowning thought under the ghosts of words.
“ENOUGH!” Dergallin suddenly bellows, immediately reducing the room to utter silence.
“Order the Bunnies back to their burrow and proceed with your investigation, Math,” the Archon orders. “Be thorough and be careful. Remember, your nephew’s life and that of his friend rest in the balance of whatever you find.”