The door to the Royal Hall sounded with a boom as it was thrown open suddenly, hasty footsteps following the echo that reverberated across the expanse of the room.
Several of the more nervous council members jumped with small squeaks, while the generals started, turning abruptly to the disturbance. His Royal Majesty, King Jor'ean of High Peaks, sat calmly in his chair, his dark gray eyes barely moving from the map lying on the table before him.
"Your Majesty! Council! Oh, please, I have news!"
The agitated speaker was a rotund, red-faced and balding man that lumbered more quickly across the room than his massive size would dictate. Rushing around the council table and several soldiers guarding His Majesty, he inserted himself between the King and his oldest General.
Breathlessly, he shoved a dirty piece of paper underneath the King's nose, panting and clutching his chest.
Jor'ean removed the fluttering paper from the man's hand, glancing at him with mild concern.
"Have you seen the court healer, Randolf? You know running is bad for your heart."
Randolf flushed even more, spluttering and coughing as he hurried from the table.
General Hi'sin, the High General of the Royal Legions, leaned over, peering curiously at the note in Jor'ean's hand, his abundant mustache bouncing as he pursed his lips.
"Wonder what has ole Randy so...tuckered." he chuckled, removing his spectacles to clean with a large, green silk hankerchief.
"Let's find out, shall we?" said Jor'ean, unfolding the dirty paper and reading it silently to himself.
The council members and generals seated around the table looked on in anticipation. No news could be gleaned from Randolf, who continued to huff and puff in a corner. While watching His Majesty, however, the small group began to grow concerned. The normally calm and placid face of the king who had brought peace through great war in High Peaks, began to grow worried and stormy as he read.
"Your Majesty?" queried Hi'sin, reaching a tentative hand towards Jor'ean.
Looking up quickly and slamming his fist to the table, Jor'ean whispered, harshly, "I call a meeting of the Orders!"
Greybeard of the Greens Clan, ran in his hobbled fashion through the Sanctuary of Belous and Belin, into the Inner Courtyard, and finally, gasping for air, into the Archdruid's Quarters. Leaning heavily on the doorframe and on his staff, he paused to catch a breath before continuing up the stairs that led to the Council Room. There, gathered around a circular wooden table inlaid with the crest of the Green Druids, sat the Elder Druids with the Archdruid at the Northern center.
"Come in and take your place, Brother Greybeard." rumbled the Archdruid. His shriveled hands and sunken eyes could not hide the power in his deep voice. Power that had been accumulated over the several hundred years of earth and healing magic that kept him alive, even now.
Seating himself at the Southern Center, Greybeard looked at his fellow Brethren with the same puzzled expression. They had been called before breakfast or prayers to a private meeting in the Council Room that had not been used in at least a hundred years, since the end of the Peace War.
The Archdruid, Simeon the Old, unrolled a parchment. On it, the incantation for the Council Spell. A powerful spell, which, when invoked, bound the room in magic, allowing no one outside to spy, nor anyone inside to leak information. The spell also bound the occupants of the room to secrecy.
Simeon spoke, his magic flowing from his mouth like water. Greybeard smiled. He admired Simeon so much, and could see the aura of his magic when he spoke. The blue-green shimmer that accompanied his breath when he tapped the well of the Source. It was wonderous and beautiful.
Soon, the spell completed, the Brethren began to murmur. Glancing nervously about, they waited for Simeon to speak. After a long moment, he folded his hands to his lap, leaned back into his chair, and sighed, heavily.
"It seems, my dear Brothers, that there is great disturbance in High Peaks. I have called this meeting today, because the King, himself, has called a meeting of the Orders."
Shock and disbelief were palpable in the room. No one spoke or moved. For the King to call a meeting of the Orders, meant that either great calamity had fallen on High Peaks, or it was going to fall soon.
Greybeard was the first to revive himself, clearing his throat and tapping the small green circle in front of him, asking permission to speak.
Simeon turned his deep brown eyes to him, "Yes, Brother Greybeard?"
"I am curious, sir, whom you will choose to send as emissary to this meeting?"
Simeon smiled, his eyes glittering brightly.
"Why, Brother Greybeard, are you volunteering?"
Greybeard swallowed, quickly, before replying. No one wanted to be the emissary to a meeting of the Orders. It was almost always signing a death warrant to one's self.
"If the Green Council so chooses, I would be willing to take the responsibility as emissary, however, I merely asked, as it seemed no one else would."
Simeon laughed, long and hard. The sound of it seemed so strangely out of place, given their current news. The Brethren began to glance nervously around the table again.
"Yes, Brother, yes. I understand. No one seeks this position, I know. But an emissary must be chosen. I think, given your quick reaction to such shocking news, that you would be a wonderful choice, however, I will not force the missive on you. I ask you, Brother Greybeard. Will you be the emissary from the Green Clan to the meeting of the Orders?"
Greybeard glanced around at the Brothers around the table. He had been an Elder Druid for seventy years. Working hard to become one, and well respected by everyone, even the students. Male faces greeted him. Some scared, some old, some just tired. Women had not been allowed to join the Druid Clans since the Peace War. Even Greybeard was unsure why, and he had been there.
As he turned his eyes back to Simeon, his master and mentor, he knew he would not refuse. He had lived through the Great War of Peace, as a young druid nonetheless. He would face whatever new calamity had befallen High Peaks.
Standing to his feet, he spoke clearly and with strength of heart.
"I, Greybeard of the Greens, hereby accept the missive and authority of the Clan of Green Druids, to portray our desires and follow our Path at the meeting of the Orders of High Peaks."
The room remained silent as the Brethren bowed their heads.
Greybeard sighed inwardly.