“Change it back,” Felder repeated, enunciating each word as if she was hard of hearing. His handsome face was neutral, but there was enough rage in his being to burn the city had he been granted the powers of the Fadian.
“I can’t,” Kaleigha answered honestly. She felt a twinge of shame being unable to explain how she managed to reform the city. She soothed herself with the memory of the clean, safe streets and the plump children.
“Ah,” Felder’s tone became predatory and he wet his lips. “You don’t want to go back to being poor again.”
“Kaleigha,” Egoly stepped between the fox and his prey. “You must think of the greater good.”
Kaleigha squinted at him.
Of course, she thought. He had the most to lose. Poor was bad, but it was still on the right side of the dirt. Besides, she had not forgotten how he abandoned her in the starways.
“The greater good lies beyond this dream,” Ilma spoke up when Kaleigha did not answer. Her voice was firm and determined. “You must…”
“That can’t happen,” Hailmon interjected. “We will not allow it.”
“Not that we can do much,” Karen snarled at Ilma, “As long as we hold you here, the overlords will try to conquer the city.”
“Who are these overlords?” Kahrim asked, shifting closer to Kaleigha.
The elders exchanged looks, but kept silent.
Suddenly, a low chuckle unspooled itself from the depths of Felder’s gut. The man tried to speak, but the chuckle spun itself into a maniacal laugh that smothered his words.
“Who is it?” Kharim asked again, exasperated by the Felder’s erratic behavior.
“The same people that kept the old city in poverty and disrepair,” Felder managed to gasp out between laughs. He gave Kaleigha a condescending look before the laughter retook him.