Deep below in his lair unknowable, the young Juka Warlord-Prince Juntos stood to his full height, the torchlight of his personal chambers illuminating the whole of his massive and muscled form as a trio of his guard surrounded him, arranging and conforming the plates and straps of his master crafted ceremonial armor to fit his body. The first phase of his plan had gone well, better even. The loss of Adjutant Tua to the humans and their allies during their rescue attempt was a set back, but a small one in the grand machination of his coming vengeance upon the Britannians and their allies. Already her replacement, Adjutant Konos, had reached the near zenith of his abilities, and would serve Juntos well in the battles to come. Father Kabur would undoubtedly be proud. --------------------- Fully bedecked in ceremonial war dress and escorted by a cadre of the Reikuk, his personal bodyguard, Juntos was a sight both immense and splendorous to behold, his very footsteps conjuring visions of the strength and grace of old, a time when the Way flourished and the might of unity was fresh amongst the Juka. Torches lined the circular wall of the council chambers and the light scent of magic permeated the air. Juntos turned his dark orb-like eyes down to the round table that occupied the center of the room, taking his seat in the throne that awaited him. Saluting, his Reikuk escort dismissed themselves and returned to other duties. A gathering of his closest councilors sat in watchful silence before him. A long moment hung in the air as Juntos noticed empty seats, two more than the last time he had arranged meeting with his councilors. May their spirits dine in the Great Hall, he quietly prayed. To the immediate right of Juntos, Ioj, the leader of the Ouyus Tor, the Cult of the Void, was the first to stand. His jet robe flowed around him as if alive, an aura of magic ebbing off of his skin, forming almost a thick shroud that obscured the features of the Prime Ritualist. "His eminence, the High Warlord Prince Juntos presides", Ioj pronounced, his voice almost imperceptibly deep. Juntos hesitated a moment then nodded. "Then beneath the eyes and eternal scrutiny of our Fathers before us, let this council commence" Ioj finished, regaining his seat. What followed was, for the most part, nothing not known already by Juntos. Troop and resource relocation, logistics difficulties, enemy movements, the resurgence of the Meer in the region, two parties in the west that had gone missing, and so on. Each Elder-Councillor presented the state and strength (or lack thereof) of their area of responsibility, no matter how small or inconsequential, with a precision and dedication that simply defied definition. Many of these same elders served Father Kabur first in his war against their sworn enemies the Meer, and then after, in service to the former Exodus, against the worthy Britannians. However Juntos had truly called the council together to hear from one elder in particular: Elder Branka. Upon his ascension to power, Juntos assigned Branka, already a respected Elder, to oversee the initial war effort against the Britannians and test the strength of the void born creatures summoned by the Ouyus Tor. Many of the elders expected Ioj to take on this very role, but Juntos wisely denied the Prime Ritualist such power. Branka now rose, saluting the Warlord-Prince. "Elder Branka, what news do you bring from Trammel?" asked Juntos, eagerness in his tone. "As this council and its leader are undoubtedly aware, the brave efforts of our warriors and the rituals of the Ouyus Tor in our initial incursion against the Britannians exceeded all expectations. It is also not unknown that it was only these same weeks ago that our efforts almost came to naught, when the primary ritual cluster of Void crystals, the very anchor of the Void in Britannia, came perilously close to destruction" Branka said. "What is not known is how, standing at the precipice of defeat, when we stood ready to cast the final test and honorably sacrifice ourselves in the process, was our work allowed to continue. And may the Fathers spare me when I say it was not the might of our warriors nor the machiantions of the Ouyus Tor that spared us that night and drove the Britannians back" he continued. To question the strength of his own people broke the silence that pervaded the council chambers until that point. Several Elders had already begun to murmur upon hearing those last words and a small clamor threatened to engulf the room, causing Branka to pause and bow his head to the Warlord, a silent gesture begging for Juntos to command silence. Showing no display of emotion, Juntos waved his pale green skinned hand, silencing the other elders instantaneously. Branka nodded in thanks. "It was the Britannians themselves." Whispers and low voices again began to fly, and Branka rose his tone, continuing over the noise. "Whether it was rebels, dissidents or simply fools that betrayed their Queen I cannot say! I can only say that such an ocurrence should not be overlooked!" Juntos angrily cast his eyes over the council, again commanding silence. "What is it you are suggesting, Elder Branka?" asked Juntos. "That such a change of fortune be taken advantage of. If there are those humans so dissatisfied with the rule of their Queen they condemn her kingdom to the Void when ultimate victory was assured, then, my Warlord, perhaps they can be persuaded through promise of power and reward to join us for the next phase of your plan." The chamber immediately erupted into uproar, and the Reikuk stationed outside the chamber moved in to restore order. And there, remaining calmly seated amidst the chaos in silence, Juntos mired his eyes around Branka, smiling in approval.