Willard's eyes darted over the accounts. Grain was up, the new spice sales were expanding to meet the burgeoning supply, and coin was rolling in. On the whole, it was proving quite a profitable season, even if the war was going on, and the Nightfolk were here now.
Possibly because of that. It was hard to be sure, of course. One should never jump to conclusions in such matters. Especially when they were such controversial ones. An Ancient had to remember that he was a respectable citizen of Talossa. One of the most respectable, which is why he had been vouchsafed the right to meet in the Chamber, to ask and to direct, instead of being called there, to answer and to obey.
And yet a man had to remember that even an Ancient could find himself brought before the Chamber if he was not careful. No man was greater than Talossa. The Ancients' rights were based on their understanding that, and seeking to answer and obey the needs of the city, as they discerned it.
Which presently meant a Dark Lord was serving as Lord Protector. Largely because the Dukes and Nobles in the East had insisted on it, but still, everyone could agree that Amfortas had been remarkably bad at it.
Though the Faith was still apparently in the middle of its delusion that a man who had been imprisoning his own father was a great and worthy champion of righteousness.
Which was another problem for the Ancients. But one an Ancient was expected to avoid talking about. Or even thinking about for a prolonged time.
Willard glanced back at his accounts. Yes, they were good. Very good.
And he was tired. Very tired.
And it was only the beginning of the day. Swearing quietly to himself, Willard cursed all the sinister plotting that being an Ancient involed him with. One could repeat the old formulas over and over, but in the end, the same damn problem emerged--you were scheming, and scheming tended to be bad business in the long run, especially when you had no clear payoff for them.
He'd told them that, of course, but they hadn't listened. They rarely did.