Home > Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(5)

Veiled (Alex Verus #6)(5)
Benedict Jacka

“Yeah, well, he hasn’t done much of a job of it so far, has he?” Variam said. “And doesn’t sound like his faction’s winning.”

“Mm,” I said. I wasn’t sure how to feel about that.

Politics in the Light Council are complicated. There are seven primary factions: Guardians, Crusaders, Isolationists, Directors, Centrists, Weissians, and the Unity Bloc. They’re closer to social cliques than to the political parties of Westminster or Congress, but the stakes are just as high and the consequences for mistakes are a lot more deadly.

Most of the issues the Council argue over are transient, changing from month to month. But there are some questions that don’t go away, and one of the biggest is the issue of how to treat Dark mages. At one extreme are the Crusaders: they’re the most militant of all the factions and think the Light Council should be actively fighting against Dark mages, going to war if necessary. They hate Dark mages and anyone who’s associated with them, including me. Which is ironic, given that my feelings towards Dark mages aren’t any more positive than theirs, but the Crusaders don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, if you were trained by a Dark mage, you don’t get any second chances.

Less extreme than the Crusaders are the Guardians. Like the Crusaders, they’re opposed to Dark mages, but their philosophy is basically defensive rather than aggressive. While the Crusaders want to go out and take the fight to the Dark mages, the Guardians just want to hold things together. They’d rather do the minimum to prevent Dark mages from hurting other people, then leave them to fight among themselves (something Dark mages tend to do quite enthusiastically). And opposing both the Guardians and the Crusaders is the Unity Bloc. The Unitarians want the Light and Dark factions to unite, bringing Dark mages into the Council and involving them in the political process. It’s not a new idea, more of a cyclical one, and it’s been attempted and abandoned many times before.

If it had been just the Unity Bloc versus the Guardians and Crusaders, the Unity Bloc wouldn’t have a chance. But increasingly the Unity Bloc was coming into favour with the Centrists, and the Centrists had more members than the Guardians and the Crusaders put together. And now Morden was making a push not only to get Dark mages recognised, but to get a Dark seat on the Light Council itself. It hadn’t yet come to an open contest, but if things kept going the way they had been, that was where it was headed.

Morden’s actions had given Talisid a second reason to be interested in Richard. As far as most Light mages knew, Talisid was just a mid-level Council functionary, but for several years now I’d been pretty sure that he was one of the Guardian faction’s black-ops guys. The Guardians did not want Morden on the Council, and if Talisid could prove that Richard was up to something and link him to Morden, that would kill Morden’s proposal stone dead. Unfortunately for Talisid, he hadn’t found anything. Unfortunately for us, that had caused him to take increasing risks with our missions in the hope that we’d find him something he could use. But while we’d found out plenty about Richard’s activities, we hadn’t found anything much that we could do about it, to the point where it had become almost like checking the weather forecast. Yes, that tornado’s moving in your direction, and yes, it’s going to be a bad one, and isn’t it going to suck if it decides to hit your house?

“Okay,” Luna said. She’d had long enough to calm down, now. “If no one else is going to say it, I will. Should we still be working for Talisid?”

“He can still get us in with the Council,” Variam said.

“Not really,” Luna said. “Hardly anyone knows about what we’re doing. It’s all under-the-table stuff.”

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