It was the night of the first urchin meeting to be called in a long time, and Tepic was unsure if anyone would turn up, so he was happily surprised when he reached the small docks under the old slums to find a group of children already waiting.
Nellie and Freya were there, along with a girl called Wendy and a few others he knew only in passing. While they chatted Jimmy arrived, followed by a lad called Oggie and Candance. While waiting for any stragglers, Tepic decided to give them the Grand Tour of this underground wonderland, showing them the docks, rowboats for use in the sewers and the table for recording all incoming …. goods. With the hidden entrance from the canal and access to the navigatable sewers beneath the City, it was an ideal place for the urchins to conduct any business that had to be kept beyond the view of the City authorities.
He showed them the cavern set aside for urchins to eat and sleep, with much admiration of the large hearth complete with a chicken on the spit for later. Freya asked how long he had been working on the place, so he told them about finding by accident the year before and working on it with Billy and Charlie to make it theirs.
Then it was into the next cavern, the one he hoped they could use for meetings and, with Christmas coming up, for the urchin party. Taylor arrived, followed by Mr Rayn, the almost pure fox moreau, which was a bit of a worry. They were swiftly followed by Lisa, Nathan and Goat, everyone dragging boxes and other odds and ends from the piles along the walls to use as makeshift seating.
Now it was time for the difficult part, getting the urchins to release Beryl from her bondage without them realising how serious the issue was. He knew that these meetings could be… interesting, rather like herding cats, but it had to be done.
He called the meeting to order with the traditional call of ‘Is everyone here an urchin?”. Rayn sat tall on his haunches, replying “I’m not technically but I am here since Cyan can’t be”. This could be a problem but also an opportunity, Tepic saw, and quickly called for a vote to allow Rayn to stand for Cyan during the meeting. Everyone knew Cyan was still in the hospital, and the fair play of letting the fox be Cyan for the night appealed to the urchins sense of justice and humour. The chorus of assent rang through the cavern and Tepic called the vote carried. There followed numerous jokes about the new Cyan, and his changed sartorial sense, though Tepic noticed several undercurrents in the room, with wariness and distrust between several of the urchins.
The lad quickly moved on, outlining the reasons for calling the meeting. First, was to show them this new place for them to use. Second was to meet new urchins and renew acquaintance with old friends. Winter was coming, so knowing who was around and who you could turn to for help was important.
Then it was time for the main event. He outlined the history of the Adult Liaisons, how they were voted in at a meeting years back, and how it was unfinished business and time to release the incumbents from their obligations, naming both Sir Sir Emerson and Beryl. At first, he suggested a release and a vote of thanks, but many of the urchins argued that Beryl had been cruel recently, even blaming her for Cyan’s misfortune. Thankfully, some knew the truth behind that, but it was clear the vote was not going to pass, so he amended it to just release them.
From there, as he had suspected, things got complicated. Even though the urchins had not used the Adult Liaisons for several years, some of the urchins thought they might be useful in the future. He appealed to their sense of independence, that urchins didn’t need others to represent them, but still there were too many voices raised in favour of keeping them. Thankfully, the change in Beryl’s attitude was raised from several different urchins, and Rayn asked if the urchins wanted someone who seemed to hate them representing them.
This seemed the perfect moment, and Tepic called for a simple vote, to release the Liaisons. The chorus of nays and ayes rose, and although it was close, he was relieved to announce the vote had passed.
With an internal sigh of relief, he moved the subject on the new clockwork traps that were springing up all over the City and the reports of everyone being replaced with duplicates, which he thought had been dealt with at the end of the summer. He didn’t know quite what the effect of the vote would be, but he hoped it would help Beryl and maybe make her a little less….. grouchy. They were discussing matters when Freya though she heard something out in the main docks cavern, and everyone ran out to investigate, Tepic yelling out that the meeting was closed.