Chapter One Hundred and Twenty Seven: The First Blow

Haiter was feeling very smug as he
walked past Charlie and Webster, who were waiting outside the court

“Hello Andrew.” Charlie said

“Begly.” Haiter made to push past,
but Webster, with the gleam of Sir Hedgehog in his eyes, put a hand
on his shoulder.

“You might want to see what we have.”
Sir Hedgehog smirked. Haiter sighed, and smiled as Charlie pulled out
his phone.

Charlie grinned as Haiters face
contorted into rage. “That…those…they're…!” He spluttered.

“And we have it saved in plenty of
places.” Sir Hedgehog told him. “Imagine if this got out.”

“How did you get them to talk?!”
Haiter was furious. The video was of Harold and Lady telling Belle
about how Haiter was a Trouper!

“Belle is their grand-daughter.
They've been trying to get her to join up for months.” Charlie
chuckled. “So, I suggest you change your mind about our little
Chamber, or else you and Demon will have a lot of explaining to do.”

“And after what happened last week, I
don't think you're all that popular at the moment anyway.” Sir
Hedgehog added. “Wouldn't take much to have the entire city
demanding Demon fire you. And as much as he likes to think his power
is absolute, he knows damned well he needs public favour.”

Haiter was so furious he couldn't
speak. Only moments before he'd been bragging to the Mayor and now
he'd been brought down HARD.

Charlie watched him, satisfied. If
Haiter was on-board, then all he needed to do was win the election.

“F-fine.” Haiter spat. “But you
WILL pay for this, just see if you don't!”

“I think I'll take that chance.”
Sir Hedgehog patted his briefcase. Haiter swallowed hard. What was in
that briefcase? What did this little upshot lawyer know?

He snarled at the pair, and stormed
back inside the courtroom. Charlie grinned at Sir Hedgehog, who
smirked back.

“Nice work Sir Hedgehog.” Charlie

“Shhh. I'm only Webster, remember? I
left the Last Order.” Was the reply. Charlie silently disagreed.
Webster might not have been much of a combatant, but he was still a
Noble Knight of the Last Order who was doing his part.

Belle felt rather dirty as she sat back
down in the court room gallery. It was time to see if her work had
paid off.

“Andrew Haiter, do you still object
to the implementation of a Chamber of Commerce or shall we proceed
with the debate?” Judge Constance Dougherty asked.

Haiter looked ready to kill.

“I've considered the motion, and I
withdraw my objection.” He said through gritted teeth. Demon shot
him a look of confusion, but said nothing. If Haiter was going to
play ball, Demon wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth!

“Very well. Then with no objections,
the establishment of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce will
proceed.” Constance declared. Charlie saw Belle in the gallery and
shot her a grin – not quite a triumphant one just yet, the battle
was only half won!

Belle felt a little bit better. Not
much though, talking to her grand-parents usually made her feel icky.

“Now, for this establishment, we need
to have a committee, that consists of a secretary, treasurer,
vice-president and president. The president and vice-president are
elected, the others can be nominated members of the public selected
by the president and vice-president.” Constance rambled on. And on.
Soon Charlie was starting to zone out again. Belle watched him and
was silently betting he was going to start drooling.

“Now, for our nominations.”
Constance finally said. Charlie snapped to attention immediately,
wiping the drool from his mouth.

“Can those who wish to nominate for
the position of president please step forward in an orderly fashion?”
Constance said. “Remember you must have been a business owner in
Pleasantville for the past 18 months in order to qualify, and must
have plans to continue business within the next three years.”

“Good luck Chuckles.” Webster
whispered as Charlie stood up.

“Thanks Sir Hedgehog.” Charlie
whispered back. He straightened his shoulders and walked forward to
hand his name to the judge. Sure enough, Demon had stepped forward,
and so had the woman who owned West Pleasantville Jewellers. Another
older man stepped forward as well. Charlie was the youngest person
who had nominated.

Belle sucked in a breath. Hopefully
Charlie could get in. Hopefully he would win.

“Okay, four nominations. Arnold
Jones, you have the floor.” Constance read the first name off the

“My family has owned businesses in
Pleasantville for generations. Being a business owner is in my blood.
I have also led this city for five years.” Demon Jones began.

“And gotten our healthcare workers
killed.” Someone muttered. A few people scowled at Demon, who
realised he had no chance.

“Yes…well…” He faltered, before
stepping back, embarrassed and angry.

“Is that all?” Constance asked,
confused. Demon glared at her. “So be it. Charles Begly, your

This was it. Charlie stepped forward
and began to speak.

“Like the Mayor, I come from a long
line of business owners, and I am a direct descendant of the founders
of this city. However, that is not what you want, you don't want to
hear about the past. You want a future. A fair, just and good future
where we can minimise the risk of owning a business while making it
fairer for our consumers. I might be young, but that just means I am
more open to learning and being flexible. I can grow with the growing
business landscape of this city. Please consider voting for me.”

Charlie smiled at Constance and then at
the business owners who had assembled. The room applauded strongly.
Charlie stood with the rest of the nominees and exhaled. It was out
of his hands now. He had done everything that he could have possibly

“That was very well spoken Mr.
Begly.” Constance said approvingly. “Eugenia Wallow, please step

Charlie looked at the jeweller. Yes,
she was a strong member of the Pleasantville Community Committee, but
she was also someone who believed in the future of the city. Charlie
thought she'd make a good vice-president.

Eugenia spoke about how she'd had to
fight tooth and nail to start her business. How having a Chamber of
Commerce was a great idea, and she thanked Charlie for his work. She
also talked about fairness and protecting people, and how she could
draw on her experiences to do it.

She also got a decent round of applause
as she went back to stand with the rest of the nominees. Charlie
smiled at her. She smiled back.

The last nominee wasn't much to write
home about, and it was obvious to everyone in the room that he was a
Haunted Maze Trouper. A few people shot dirty looks at Andrew Haiter,
who was seething. Finally, it was time for the vote. All of the
business owners forwarded out to cast their ballot.

“You've done well, I wouldn't be too
worried about it.” Eugenia smiled at him. “All your hard work is
paying off.”

Charlie smiled back. “Thanks. It's
people like you who helped though.”

Demon snorted in disgust, and the other
nominee tried to hide the fact that he was trying to ingest a drug in
court. Charlie and Eugenia couldn't help but giggle together.

Slowly, the business owners forwarded
back in, having cast their votes. An independent contractor from
Brisvegas was counting the votes, so no chance of cheating.

Belle felt her phone vibrate. She
pulled it out of her pocket and had a look.

“I think your grand-parents are
stuffed.” Was the text from her father. Belle was confused and sent
back a question mark. The next message gave her chills.

“Haiter has advised the Haunted Maze
Troupe that they're the ones who gave you the information to
blackmail him with. They've just been chased out of your Uncles

Oooooh boy. Belle gripped the phone
tightly, not sure of how to feel. She heard people walking back into
the room, and put her phone away. Her grand-parents could be dealt
with later. Now it was time to support her best friend.

Constance walked back in and everyone
sat. Charlie was sweating. Had he done enough?

“The votes have been tallied and
verified.” Constance said. “The president of the Pleasantville
Chamber of Commerce is Charles Begly. The vice-president will be
Eugenia Wallow.”

Charlie felt like he was floating. He
could barely breathe with excitement, although a huge sigh of relief
escaped him. He was the president of the Chamber of Commerce. The
first blow had been struck against the corruption of the
Pleasantville City Council. They no longer had control over the
business domain of the city.

Constance ended the proceedings there,
and everyone made to leave. Eugenia patted Charlie on the back as she

“I'll call you tomorrow and we'll get
things organised. Well done!” She said.

“Thanks. You too. I look forward to
working with you.” Charlie said breathlessly.

“We did it. We really did it.”
Webster could barely believe it. “This is huge. This is really,
REALLY huge. You're now one of the most powerful people in this

“I just hope I can do it right.”
Charlie said. Suddenly he was nearly barrelled over by Belle, who was
ready to burst.

KNEW YOU COULD!” Belle laughed as she hugged him tightly.

“You helped. You were there the whole
way through.” Charlie squeezed her back.

“Are they dating?” Demon leaned
over and asked Webster.

“That's the question.” Webster
shook his head as the two friends continued to cuddle.

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