The visitors leave empty handed
Back in the meeting room there was silence round the table and Jorn and Arne remained seated opposite the visitors. Deep in thought, Jorn stared down at his fingers and it was Arne who was first to speak.
“There is desire for change here, especially among the younger ones. Of course they want more, a better life, and some are interested in our history, the old ways and how it used to be. But drowning the city? This is not what they long for, they will never support you in that. If you want to see things change, and to be here when they do, this is not the answer.”
“He’s right,” said Jorn at last, to the surprise of everyone in the room. He had been working things through in his head and had reluctantly come to the conclusion that despite all his anger and frustration, he would be wiser to play the long game. “We want to help you, but this is not the solution, not yet. Give us time to think things through, I’m sure we can find another way.”
The seeds had been sown for his own ambitions, but he could see that he had to be patient, for now at least. But this was not what the Sea Mer wanted to hear.
“We are disappointed in you Jorn, We thought you could make this happen.”
Jorn wanted to keep the Sea Mer on his side so he was quick to shift the blame, “I did my best Leon, but in the end the Margrave makes the final decision.”
“So we see, with the help of this Joseph it appears.”
“He certainly listens to him.” Jorn didn’t bother to hide his deep seated resentment of the man who the Margrave trusted above all others.
At that, the leader of the Sea Mer stood, and his companions followed his lead.
Leon hid his fury behind a mask of politeness. “There is nothing more to be done then, at least not for now. Thank you Jorn for your hospitality.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. The time will come, for all of us, I can assure you of that. You may just need to wait a little longer.”
The visitors bowed stiffly as they left the meeting. They declined Arne’s offer to accompany them, assuring him that they could find their own way, and then they were gone.
Jorn and Arne looked at each other.
“This is not going to end well,” Arne reflected.
“No it is not, and we are ill prepared for a fight.”
“It may not come to that,” he replied, but neither of them were convinced.
The Sea Mer walked swiftly through the maze of passages, heading towards a gateway that led straight to the Thames. They paused beside the river for a moment to consider their next move.
“We have started the process with changing the waters, but surely if we leave now it is pointless and we have failed?” said one.
“You may be right, but how do we get their Margrave to agree?” asked another.
“Should we go ahead without his consent?”
“No, we need it if we’re to have any legitimacy ourselves so we have to change his mind.”
“The man Joseph is the one we must persuade, if he changes his mind then the Margrave will follow.”
“He would not side against his own city, his people – not unless he had good reason.”
They turned to Leon, waiting to hear his thoughts, but he stayed silent, until he suddenly leaned forward and gripped the iron railing at the edge of the water in his clenched fist.
“He has a reason.”
The others all looked at him expectantly.
“The woman, the one he was with at the Gathering. We saw them together. She is his weakness, a reason for him to change his mind.”
They nodded, recalling how she had spoken up for Joseph. Leon turned to one of his companions.
“What happened after they left? Did you follow them as I asked?”
“Yes Leon. He took her to a pool and they swam through a tunnel to a small lake outside, but she could not swim so well and got into trouble – he had to save her. I watched from the water and he was frantic. You’re right, I think he would do anything to protect her.”
“Then what happened?”
“The man dropped something and I picked it up, but then he came back for it and I had to let it go. When they left the lake I followed again. They went in his vehicle but I could hear the engine and I soon caught up – I saw where he took her.”
“Well done,” Leon said thoughtfully. “You may just have found us the key, now we need to decide how to use it.”
One by one the Sea Mer slipped silently into the fast flowing water