A sea of people in black stood before me. Each and every one looked exhausted and disapproving. Their eyes were narrowed and hungry for signs of weakness. I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction. Theodore, standing tall, and intimidating some might think, smirked. He didn’t scare me he just entertained me. He thought himself so grand.
“So stubborn aren’t you Miranda? Some may think it a talent. Sometimes it may be, but right now it is merely an irritating habit. You could amount to so much if only you matured a little. It’s such a pity”
“Making ones own decisions is a sign of maturity. And my stubbornness as you call it is only a reluctance to be forced into this organisation. I don’t believe in what you stand for”
“Miranda you have no choice. I’m sorry”
He wasn’t. That evil twisted face could not show any signs of being sorry. It had been manipulated and brainwashed. He wasn’t the man he used to be- the kind gentleman that believed in people’s rights. He claimed he now knew better and he had been clueless back then. They took him away from us. The very few who knew what the organisation was, who were aware of their intentions. And now they wanted me.
“What happened to you Theodore? What man has changed that familiar character who once despised the organisation and everything it did?”
“Miranda I simply changed. It’s a part of life”
“You did not change for the better old man. Go back to what you used to be before it’s too late”
He shook his head and walked slowly away. The supposedly powerful elderly man couldn’t even look me in the eye.
I let out a ‘pah’ of bitter amusement. The woman by his side with long black hair eyed me scornfully. It rippled like a waterfall the colour of a raven’s wing way past her shoulders to her back.
“What is it Violet? There is something that tells me you hate me more than the rest of the organisation. They want me but it seems you don’t. Is it personal?”
She scowled at my teasing tone. I loved toying with her. It was so easy, effortless. She tried to compose herself, replacing her scowl with a strained smile. It did not reach those cold black eyes.
“Ah Miranda nothing would please me more than to have another dear sister to help us on our quest. I have nothing against you apart from the fact you are being so stubborn. Come dear child and join us”
I laughed. Not really amused but amazed. The poor woman was on the edge of madness. She loathed me but knew what I could bring to the organisation. It was cruel really.
It was then I heard a growl of irritation from behind the crowd. Everyone turned to see Dreg almost pulling his hair out in anger.
“Dreg please be patient. We know what has been said about this child. But no one said it was going to be easy” Theodore said gravely.
“Honestly what is it that makes you people think that what you’re doing is right? You don’t deserve to be called people. You can’t just take over everyone’s rights and force them to work for you. You’ve killed those who have refused don’t deny it! And for what? For what?! Nothing!”
They just looked at me in a way that said they thought me a child. A pathetic clueless child who didn’t know what was best for me. Well they didn’t know what I could do- what I was going to do. I was going to destroy the organisation- just like they destroyed my family.
“Ah Miranda dear this is getting a little silly. Let us proceed into the next room” Dreg sighed.
It was time.
The doors were tall grey and steel. The ornately carved knocker, rusty with age looked as though it had never been used. Violet took hold of my elbow and attempted to steer me into the room. I ripped my arm away from her as though burned. Her touch was cold and firm.
“Miranda do not be childish”
“You witnessed the murder of my parents’ old woman. I wish I didn’t have to be in the same room as you never mind that close”
Her fury at being called old was obvious, drawn so ugly on what should be a pretty face. Hate had taken its toll. She was only in her thirties so was of course sensitive to any remark of that nature. She threw herself at me as I had expected. Her nails dug deep into my neck.
“Violet! Calm your self woman” cried Theodore.
“She provoked me unless you chose to go temporarily deaf at that exact moment” she hissed removing her nails from my neck.
“She provoked you...oh well that changes things” he said with impatience. “Get a grip lady and compose your self. Smile a little” he said in a strange tone. It was a cross between sarcasm and hysteria though neither made sense.
“Theodore be gentle with Violet. She could go off at any second. She’s not exactly what you would call stable”
“Miranda darling I am as stable as the next woman” she laughed.
“The woman next to you is Pauline who dated a man who was actually a murderer paid to take her out by her ex husband” I pointed out savouring both her and Pauline’s looks of fury.
“You are women of importance serving the organisation and you will not sabotage our chances of gaining someone such as Miranda Stateborough because of her tendency to get on your last nerves, and your tendency to overreact” boomed Theodore with such fierceness and authority it bounced off of the walls and back.
“Her games surely tell you there is no point in attempting to steer her in the right direction master” she said with such falseness it made me wonder how he did not see through her. She had no respect for him she was just with him because of her thirst for power. Now he wanted me by his side because of the prophecy made about me and she would no longer rule with him. She had every reason to hate me. He did not care for her at all. He knew she wouldn’t abandon the organisation so he had no reason to keep her sweet. But it was quite an unwise move if you ask me. Violet could turn on him if ever a more powerful person came into the picture. The evil he now represents has clouded his vision.
The room was dark, and lit only by eight candles in intricate dark metal candlesticks, the twisting and plaiting shapes casting faint shadows like thick vines on the walls. The candles were placed so that they formed a large circle. Inside the circle were the dark figures of members of the organisation. A tall mahogany altar stood in front of the circle of silhouettes and Theodore moved swiftly behind it with Violet following closely behind as though on a leash- her movements were indeed feline enough for her to be compared to an animal. A catlike smile played around her full lips right now as she stood looking quite beautiful it must be said next to her master- she was wild though, not a pet no matter how well she played the part. Unlike the others who wore thick woollen cloaks she wore a beautiful gown, the metallic material shimmered and moved with her body like a rippling satin waterfall. Her smile was directed at me and she was clearly saying I am superior to you, which is why you stand in the middle of the circle- below me. I looked up at her with an expressionless face. The people surrounding me were still. I had never felt so claustrophobic. The layout was obviously carefully thought out, but I would not let them intimidate me. Theodore cleared his throat deliberately before greeting the organisation.
“Brave men do you vow to lay down your lives to serve me in knowledge that you will be rewarded and your actions will help us reach our goal?” he asked though the tone in his voice rang like a demand.
“We do” the men answered in unison.
“Women that have been granted the honour of joining the circle and the privilege of standing amongst fearlessly loyal men do you vow to remain as loyal as they and serve in as many ways as a woman can?” he questioned and every pair of female eyes locked with his. The tone he used, the way he emphasized certain words made it clear to everyone how Theodore doubted very much their ability to be of any use to the organisation. His sexist attitude had given every woman in that room the same look of disgust on her face- all but Violet of course preening proudly at the altar.
“We do” said the women nevertheless.
“I am very happy my friends that I have been assured once again. No one has changed their minds this week it seems. We are gathered here to request that another join us. Please state your name” he spoke the words so practised his eyes boring into mine.
“Miranda Jane Stateborough” My eyes did exactly the same.
“Miranda Jane Stateborough will you join these men and women, brothers and sisters on their quest? Better still will you reign by my side and stand with me against and for, fighting and defending?”
Violet’s smile was practically slapped off of her face and her fists clenched so tightly her knuckles were white. She lifted the corners of her mouth once again trying to keep composure though her fists clenched even tighter. She followed my gaze and realised this at once putting them behind her back. How I would have loved to have said yes, to see the look on her face but I could not- I would not.
“No Theodore I will not join the unfortunates that surround me. I will not twist wrong and right, have free will taken away from me and take it from other innocents as well and never will I reign next to you unless you are willing to go back to what you were to those people- what you were to me”
“Very well” he replied as I turned on my heels to leave. The darkness was no more as I was embraced by the light.