The Pebbles Vote Before the Avalanche Hits
The Privy Council of the Solar Nation met behind closed doors in the royal palace of Solland. Their enemies, lead by Lord Acton, met clandestinely in the home of Lord Acton in the city below the palace, well-guarded and well-hidden. Both groups met because of the same incident, the same event, meant that the long-abated conflict over the Solar Nation’s direction will hold no longer. A civil war, one precipitated when Zebulon assumed the throne a generation ago, is now finally come- and many within the Solar Nation see it coming.
Within the Privy Council, Zebulon and Keela again meet with their council of advisers and key officials around a circular table in a room decorated with maps. Their enemies meet in a room just like it. Both tables are covered with written reports, lists of things and more lists of other things, covered by mugs of this or that stuff of choice. Junior members come into and out of this room with more reports coming in and more orders going out.
“Zacharion is now out of our sphere of influence.” Zebulon said to his fellows, “I am certain that, whatever else he is to do, he is not served by insisting—by word or deed—on his involvement anymore. This is a matter for our nation, not for the last living legacy of Holy Ilker.”
Down in the city, Lord Action said “The princess has returned from her excursion, and she is now notably changed. Though yet a child, she already has steel in her spine- steel of a higher grade now than formerly the case, due to this incredible boy that passed through our realm. The boy’s existence poses a long-term threat, as he certain intends to continue the direction that the Usurper began. We know it, so I say that we must assume that they do also- and will move to protect him.”
The junior members of these two factions slip away, talking to their families and friends, and under the influence of drink and fatigue they let the essence of that position come forth. Word spreads and becomes rampant rumor-mongering, and the many smaller factions and common people then act in accord with what they hear- for all by now know of Ilker’s death and the boy’s passing through court and out into the countryside. Stronger wills amongst them move faster and gather about them sympathetic minds of lesser quality, forming bands and gangs, and those groups decide that they—not the king nor the Acton faction—will make this happen as they would like.
In the cities and towns, within days and weeks, extant factions take up affiliations for one or the other of their own accord and use this to bring into the streets issues and disputes long confined behind closed doors and shrouded alleys. Brawls turned to riots, riots to street-fights and soon sections burned as one side escalated faster than the other could react.
In the countryside, villages quickly conformed to one banner or the other in the manner of their town-dwelling brethren and began raiding each others' farms and stealing or burning each other crops; within a month, a civil war that once could’ve been contained within formalized warfare and political maneuvering broke free into a general uprising and burgeoning chaos as men great and small took this opportunity to settle old accounts and advance ambitions long suppressed.
Neither the loyalists in the palace nor the rebels of Action’s salon took anything but revulsion over the catastrophe; once they learned how it got started both sides swiftly struck to make firm and full examples of their errant juniors. Acton’s erring agents became grisly dawn-hour discoveries, swinging from tree limbs and towers across the land by their own superiors. The king, citing ancient and justified law from before the Azure Flames, publicly executed them by his own hand.
Zebulon, sensing Acton’s mind, cornered him in court and—at sword-point—ordered him to cooperate to put down the general chaos. When Acton, spitefully, did not immediately comply the king declared Acton a traitor and revealed his knowledge—all accurate—regarding Acton’s past and present treachery. Acton’s house and allies also became outlaws on the spot, and those present in court that day joined their leader in a most ignoble death. The rest fled to redoubts believed unknown and far from prying eyes, gathering to them those very petty partisans affiliating themselves with Acton and in a short time the many gangs became an irregular—but organized—army, one that Zebulon could handle.
“Order out of Chaos.” Keela said as her husband ordered the muster for war, “A scheme that’s as old as Man, and reliable as the dawn.”
“Indeed.” Zebulon said, “Now, before this disorder gets again out of hand, let’s end this one and see to it that it does not spread. For the sake of the future."