The Council of Laborers proved unable to formulate a coherent response to the letter. They had been running along with a single plan for too long. If they had imagined forks in the road, places where the plan had different paths to follow, they hadn’t imagined this one. They first tried to deny the truth of the letter. They maintained that Kendrick was a noble martyr. This did not last particularly long; the narrative that the letter had offered was stronger than their denial could ever hope to be, in part because Kendrick was known for his exaggerations. The letter was damning towards both Vidre and Dominic, which called into question why they wouldn’t have crafted something more beneficial, if the letter was a forgery. Various people who had been in attendance at the duel (and some who hadn’t) claimed that they had seen the telltale signs that something wasn’t right, and overnight a number of tavern-dwellers became experts in combat between illustrati, despite having only witnessed this single fight.
The Council eventually began to back down on their denials, but they couldn’t abandon their claim to the truth entirely. If they had, it would have raised too many questions about those men they called the Phoenixes. Some of the alternate explanations being put forth by the people of Meriwall were surely worse than the truth; these ranged from a hypothesis about aid provided by the Iron Kingdom, to the ritual sacrifice of young children. Dominic had asked, but Vidre hadn’t admitted to spreading any of these rumors. Her whereabouts were often unaccounted for though.
Eventually, the Council made an overture.