02 | the assembly

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t h e         a s s e m b l y

[ dedicated to sejal because she has been such a wonderful company and is an amazing girl ]

THE Assembly had been set. Old wooden chairs were gathered together in an unorganised circle, concentrated around an open space in the middle; and the members of the Pits were slowly beginning to fill up the seats.

First, the Lower Orders walked in and filled the chairs that were lined up by the wall, the farthest from the centre of the gathering. Next, a huge swarm of Servers entered in their black tunics and airy clothes, occupying the seats in the middle. This was followed by the arrival of the Ministers and their Executives, taking up two of the three rows that were empty at the front.

The front line of chairs remained vacant.

Only a second must have passed when the dark and humid room was filled with murmurs from the Servers and the Executives, discussing their opinions and advice and attempting to guess the outcome of the meeting. At that moment – amidst the discussion, entered seven cloaked and hooded figures – and the crowd drowned itself in silence with a sudden sharpness.

Just as the seven figures had stepped into the room, it did not only go completely silent, but a cold breeze seemed to have rushed past each of the member in the crowd.

Two out of the seven had been stooping so low on their sticks that one might reckon their noses to touch the ground while they walked. The others, however, came in with great authority, their chins rising in air and their cloaks flicking and sweeping on the ground as they walked, a sense of superiority following them.

"Welcome, Leaders," said Hector, the Head of the Executives – a tall man with sharp features – as he stood up, put a hand at his heart and bowed before them. At this gesture of the Head of the Executives, the rest of the chairs were pushed away and everyone in the room rose to their feet, following the same hand at heart and head down below motion, greeting in unison – "Welcome, Leaders!"

All the seven Leaders, in one swift motion, swept their hoods off their face and descended on the chairs that were placed at the very centre of the circle and faced one side of the room. Then, the other souls followed suit and sat on their seats, the sound of scarping stools very low this time. Someone must have cleared their throat at the back of the room, but nobody dared to tear their gaze from the centre to the back.

It was after a few seconds of silence when one of the Leaders broke it and initiated the Assembly. It was one of the two Leaders who had come slouching on a stick – he was stout and had a long white beard that went all the way down to his knees, curling up at its ends merely a few centimetres above the floor.

"I, Vincent Jose," said the Leader, dropping his stick on the floor and putting both his hands on his lap, "give permission for this Assembly to commence."

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