The Promotion

Mishu checked her astro-piece for the time and started running faster, past the huge statue of Archangel Gabriel, and across the bridge into the squat domed building at the end. A flock of storm crows took off from the hydra gargoyles as her steps echoed off the footbridge. Ominous, she thought. She hoped that it was not an ill omen. Mishu walked through the large doorway and went on to find the room where the meeting was to take place.
She stopped running, and took out a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from her brow. Adjusting her ash-blonde hair so it would stay where she had styled it that morning, she tried to retain as much composure as possible. She stood in front of the stone doors of the Vault taking deep breaths trying to calm down as much as possible. Her heart twitched in response and she sensed the dark interior and the council elders that were waiting inside for her. The sensation was common among initiates who were awaiting their evaluation. The Vault called when it was time.

“Welcome Mishu. Please, have a seat” a child’s voice called out from the poorly lit room. A match sparked to light three candles and illuminated the face of a young green-eyed girl wearing a scarlet cloak. Two other candles revealed two other figures sitting on either side of her. Jeogorah, the enormous orange cat wore a deep blue robe this time. On her right, sat a black robed woman with silvery skin and rather pointy features.

“You are familiar with your old teacher, Jeogorah. I am Selena and on my left is Niobe. Today we discuss your evaluation of your last assignment and your next task.”
The child spoke in pure tone, enunciating each word so carefully that it was impossible to tell where she originated. Niobe sat in silence taking minutes of the meeting.
Selena began.
“According to Niobe, your task was to retrieve a list of names of the militant group known as the Saints.”
“How did it go?” Jeogorah asked.
“It went well, I have the information here.”
Mishu opened her satchel and passed a folder to him.
“All the names are in the folder,” Mishu added, “I’ve managed to recover a partial list of their headquarters in—-”
“Thank you, Mishu” Jeogorah cut her short.
Jeogorah was not normally this insensitive. She immediately guessed the next topic. The one she hoped they would overlook.
Niobe continued writing minutes. Jeogorah spoke first.
“Our Watchers reported an issue of concern that took place during your mission. Do you know what we might be talking about?”
Mishu hated the pretence, but decided for humour’s sake to continue it.
“No” She replied calmly, looking at Jeogorah straight in the eye.
Selena seemed oblivious to her sarcasm, while Jeogorah narrowed his eyes and raised an eyebrow.
Selena then replied, “Our Watcher reported that you helped a Saint by the name of Victor. Apparently, as he got off the train station, three thugs attacked him. You intervened, however, saving his life, leaving the other three dazed and confused. Is that correct?”
“That is correct. But I fail to see the problem.”
“The problem Mishu is that Victor went on to carry out an attack on Casino Niagara, killing sixty eight people.” Jeogorah responded.
“Are you suggesting that I should have left him to die?”
Selena replied coldly, “The Saints have killed many innocent people in pursuit of their cause. The reason we asked you to retrieve that information is so we can put an end to their crimes. Have you forgotten this?”
“You still haven’t answered my question,” replied Mishu stubbornly.
Jeogorah sighed. “Mishu, we cannot tell you whose life to save and whose not to. The Divine does not grant us that foreknowledge. By allowing St James to walk free that day, you become responsible for his victims lives.”
There was a brief pause before he continued.
“Having said all of this, you completed your main task, and therefore we have decided to grant you your promotion from Scout to Caretaker conditional on the result of your next task.”
Mishu had never heard of a conditional promotion. The temple was strict on who succeeds and who fails.
“What is the task, teacher?”
Jeogorah smiled. “If you believe that St James’ life was worth saving, then you must guide him to a better path. If you do not believe his salvation is possible, then you must put an end to his life. We will leave the decision up to you. And as usual, our Watchers will be ever present.”
“This meeting has been called to a close. Niobe, please note the end time: Venus conjunct to Jupiter at thirty six degrees.”
Mishu left the Temple bewildered. What was usually a straightforward meeting had left her with so many questions. The task was almost ironic. At one point, she was criticised for saving the life of a killer, now she was asked to rehabilitate him. Standing now in front of the statue of Gabriel, she pondered on how she would help him. It made little sense why they would want the life of a killer spared when they had made it sound like she should have let Victor die. Mishu could not shake the feeling the council was manipulating her. The wind picked up, coming at her from the side. She closed her eyes and let it blow on her face as she took a deep breath. Wind, was a symbol of communication. Treating it as a sign rather than coincidence, she decided to make a detour to visit her mentor. Veronica might have an idea as to how to approach the problem. She left the Temple grounds. There were no storm crows to herald her departure, just the watchers gazing down on her, as always.

The Promotion

Adam  Fernandes

Ringwood, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Part of a novel i’m writing, starring Mishu.



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