Sartore and Maisero are judged.
|The field was only a few minutes away.
A flat stretch of grass, the wind just blowing over it and dragging the fresh smell of the day towards them. Gathered at the center was a circle of people, some of whom Sartore and Maisero recognized from their knocking, others that they didn’t. The people were talking more like a community outing than whatever serious business had been charted out ahead. Maisero found it disconcerting that this moment didn’t inspire fear and quietness in them.
When Sartore and Maisero became visible to the crowd, the crowd turned to them, and watched as they entered. Anastasia smiled and waved as the circle parted to let the three of them in, then returned to her placid expression. The others did the same when they saw the boy and the old man.
Anastasia stopped at the center, back straight and eyes trained on the others. Sartore pulled up beside her and tried for a similar stance, but couldn’t quite pull it off. Maisero didn’t make an attempt, and stood slightly further away. He noticed another crowd of people forming at the outskirts of the field, random civilians, he thought, who wanted to check out a piece of the action. So much for the secrecy.
“Welcome, everyone,” Anastasia shouted. The crowd replied with a mess of thank yous and greetings. Maisero found it jarring; no cult or organization would ever be so cheery with business like this.
“My apologies for any inconvenience with this emergency meeting,” Anastasia continued. “Some news made its way to my door this morning and as far as I can tell it requires our immediate attention.” Silent nods now, although some with less enthusiasm than others.
“These two beside me have come together from overseas, united by an unknown force. That force that has brought them together, and now here, has made them all the more visible. It appears that the Sacredate is searching for them.”
An expected small murmur appeared from the crowd, unevenly distributed through the perimeter. Now Maisero was thinking that this display was completely inappropriate as public behavior.
“I come here to have a brief discussion and collect on a vote. Balto brought these two to me on the command of keeping them safe. He believes they should be kept so as to keep them out of the Sacredate’s hands. But the Sacredate will be coming all the sooner, then, and whatever preparations we’ve made will certainly not be enough to prepare for that scale of invasion. What shall we do, then?”
The crowd turned to each other and began to speak. Anastasia stood still; no one from the crowd made any movements towards them.
“Won’t they be consulting us?” Maisero asked.
“No,” Anastasia said. “This is their decision, they know enough about your current state to make it.”
Maisero scowled, but said nothing. The three of them stood there, silently, as an hour passed, and the sun began to set, until finally the crowd quieted, and they had made their decision. Maisero’s fate was out of his hands. Wasn’t that always the case? Everyone was perfectly fine making those judgements for him. He would sit by the sidelines, either hiding or being swept away.
“Well?” Anastasia shouted.
“We’ll keep them,” one link in the chain replied, which was followed by a cheer from the rest.