From the very first second Mesrea knew there was nothing to do. Nothing she could say would make a difference. She was angry. It wasn’t fair. She didn’t deserve to be here. But she was.
She sat where she was expected to, hands clasped on the table. The first order of business was dealt with quite rapidly. It was merely a question of introducing all the present parties. And the truth was that everyone knew who everybody else was. No need to waste that much time on it. The second point in discussion: Mesrea herself.
“We’re here to assess whether Mesrea should remain at this fine institution.” The head of the Council said. It was the second time Mesrea stood in this chamber and like the first time they seemed to her life soulless figures who understood nothing of the desire to learn of the young.
She knew what they would do… she wasn’t important enough to them. Not as much as the man who stood now. And he was more powerful than she; in almost every way.
“My lords and ladies of the Council. I have come to you with the truth: with proof that Mesrea has dabbled in the forbidden magical arts. Not only has she ignored my warnings, but the second time she used these spells, she even attempted them on a fellow student, putting their life in danger.”
That wasn’t true. Anger was simmering. She knew she shouldn’t let it overwhelm her but it was so hard. For what seemed two turns of the hourglass, Master Klerol explained how she’d explored, despite his forbidding it, the dark arts. She’d learned spells to enslave people to her will, to break people’s will, to hurt them and so many other evils. The Council members looked horrified by the time they finally turned to her.
“What have you to say in your defense Mesrea? Have you practiced the forbidden arts?”
She stood. She was going to tell the whole truth. It wouldn’t make a difference to her fate anyway.
“I have.” They gasped. “Under the tutelage and mentoring of Master Klerol, I have.”
“That is a lie!” He interrupted. That was a violation of the rules but nobody said a thing. Anger… again. She looked at him.
“You have spoken and now should be silent. It is my turn to talk.”
“She is in the right Master Klerol. We shall decide whether she talked a lie or a truth.”
“I have taken the path to discover all I could about magic. Magic isn’t dark or light. The way we use it colours it. I sought to find more power. And Master Klerol encouraged me. What spells I didn’t master fast enough, he showed me how to understand and practice. He started being afraid when I mastered more than he does. For do not be mistaken my Lords and Ladies. He knows more about the forbidden arts than most of your students do. Although he teaches how to counter them, he’s embraced them.”
“What about your peer?”
She sighed, true sorrow in her heart.
“I did hurt him.” She hung her head. “Because I was under a spell spoken by Master Klerol. I was enslaved to his will… at least for a while. And he made me do it.”
“And what proof do you offer?”
“I can only show you.”
“NO!” They all said in unison. She caught the smirk of Master Klerol. He’d known. She had too. But she must try. Only that too was forbidden. Time bending was a terrifying spell; she knew that. But what else could she do? Anger again. Once more, but it didn’t go away this time. “How is it that you, a child really, have mastered such a powerful and dangerous spell? Not one of the Masters does.”
She looked at Master Klerol. He did. But they didn’t know it. It made her angrier. How could they not know? How could she ever learn the spells by herself? How could they not see? The Council members whispered among themselves.
“Mesrea. You have spoken the truth.” Master Klerol paled at that. “You have admitted to hurting a fellow student while pursuing spells you weren’t allowed to. For that we dismiss you from this Institution and bar you from ever practicing magic again.”
They believed her but they would punish her even though it wasn’t her fault? At least not entirely.
“Master Klerol. We thank you for your time.”
“May I say a word?” The Head of the Council nodded. “I believe Mesrea has erred and she can be redeemed.”
“No. She’s admitted her guilt in the matter, and although she is obviously not the only one to blame,” He said pointedly, “she must be punished for her actions. She will leave this school.”
Anger came back… overwhelming, demanding, exacting. It demanded justice. But it wouldn’t get it. She said the truth though. Why wasn’t it enough to grant her forgiveness? Justice? The anger was spreading, like a living thing through her entire body.
“Mesrea! Don’t.” Someone said. But it was too late. There was one word. Did she truly say it? And the world caught fire.
So here is the result of multiple prompts
– Deviant Art Flash fiction month theme of Exploration and You either get “truth” or “justice” not both.
– Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness prompt second
– the Daily Post writing prompt punishment