Chapter 4

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The elder council, or Gerousia, consisted of elder citizens that were elected for life. Twenty eight in total, with two kings leading the negotiations with Tao. While the elders promised not to speak during the negotiations, they would have a final say in what to do by the end of the negotiations. Shida and Ezra only served as spectators and protectors. Spartans thought lowly of them for having women warriors, but Tao wanted to use that misjudgement to his advantage.

Demaratus and Cleomenes, the two kings, sat at the front rows of the stadium, watching intently as the man from eastern Asia took the center of the assembly. A well, which was styled more like a massive pit, was at the center of the stadium, making Tao eerily uncomfortable since he'd speak dangerously close to it.

A woman sat next to a white-dressed woman within the Gerousia audience. The woman's name was Gorgo, Cleomenes' middle-aged daughter. Unlike women in Athens, girls and boys alike were expected to partake in political affairs for Sparta. A little girl was holding Gorgo's hand, it was Demaratus' seven-year-old daughter, Doris, brought there to partake in the diplomatic event.

"Adorable," Shida said elbowing for Ezra to notice the little girl.

"Knock it off," Ezra said, "we're on duty."

Shida tried waving at the little girl, but Doris only squinted suspiciously at Shida's gestures.

Tao rubbed his chin slowly at the assembly, biding his time before truly addressing them. He had one chance to sway them, and he decided to take a little time to give off an aura of mystery before speaking. "Spartans," Tao said bowing his head down to the kings.

"The king of Persia has asked for assistance from Sparta, to end the tyranny that is democracy in Athens."

This caught the attention of the elders. Athenian democracy was a common debate among the people of Sparta. It was often referred to as 'the law of the mad mob' among the citizen body. Tao raised a head up to smile at the kings.

"The philosophy of Athens is a direct danger to the men and women of all of Greece. People need order, rule, and harmony with their people. Kings' rule, aristocrats rule, oligarchs rule, never should the low minded and diseased have the right to rule a city."

Many of the elders nodded, and Tao continued. "Sparta, in the past, installed a king in Athens to save them from their own corruption. But as you know, Isagoras, the man this same council installed, was exiled from Athens by men gone diseased with power."

Tao extended his arms to the elders, like he was giving a giant air hug. "I appeal to this council today, help Persia install a rightful ruler to Athens. One that lives up to Spartan and Greek virtue. So that the philosophy of madness can never spread back to Sparta someday. Athenian philosophy is diseased, and only Sparta may stop it from spreading."

The elders whispered among themselves, highly intrigued by Tao's language. Spartans were arrogant enough to believe their way of life was more worthy than others, so he took advantage of their own pride. By praising Sparta as the better of the two states, he directly contrasted Athens as a rogue state and a threat to Spartan lifestyle.

And he didn't just speak about the necessity to bring order, but also the necessity to bring morals. Like Athenians were unjust and needed to be saved. Like a liberation campaign, because the idea of freedom was highly valued among Greeks everywhere. This was the job of a Persian diplomat, to make others believe that an alliance was for their own mutual benefit.

"And how," Clemones said standing up in the stadium, "do you intend for Sparta to help in your puny endeavor?"

The Spartan king spoke in a hardened, battle stern tone. Those were words of combat and skepticism designed to discredit Tao's talking point.

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