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Sketches: Mentrix Mashua

This month’s original writing is the continuation of last month’s story. You can read part 1 here.

“Not only have you failed to attend the morning’s chores on several of occasions, this morning’s …..”, The Mentrix of novices rolled her eyes and threw her hands in the air. She tried again.

“This … this… outrage!” She shook her head, not finding the words to adequately describe that morning’s disaster.

Jaila tried to hide behind her own shadow. The well-lit office of Mentrix Mashua offered little opportunity.

“What have you to say on this?” Mentrix Mashua glared at Jaila, daring her to comment.

Words flowed out of Jaila, despite the glare.

“It was a terrible accident, Mentrix Mashua! I never meant to stumble.” Jaila darted a glance at the woman, trying to estimate the amount of trouble she was in. The red spots on the Mentrix’s cheeks and the blazing blue eyes were a sharp contrast of the white and silver robe she was wearing. Jaila was in a lot of trouble.

“I have trouble sleeping, Mistress, I … eh… I have these nightmares, you see…”

Mentrix Mashua frowned.

“Nightmares, child? What have they to do with this morning’s … ” She finished her sentence with a gesture of disgust. Then she took a deep breath and walked around the desk. With every movement she made, she seemed more in control of herself and her cheeks gradually returned to an austere pale.

She gestured to the simple wooden chair in front of the desk.

“Sit down, child. This may take some time.”

Jaila was glad to obey. Her source of bravery was running dry and she felt her knees wobbling. She practically fell into the chair, wincing when she came in contact with its hard surface.

Mentrix Mashua perused documents that lay before her. When she looked up, she had herself under control.

“You have been with us for over a year and yet your list of digressions,” she flipped a few pages over to prove her point, “is substantial. Don’t tell me you blame all of these on nightmares?”

“No, Mistress. The nightmares are recent. But I am prone to accidents.”

“Ah yes,” Mentrix Mashua looked down at her files again, covering her mouth with a hand before it brushed away a rogue strand of hair as an afterthought.

“A broken arm after falling from a fence. What were you doing on that fence?” she turned the page.

“A torn bedroll from ..” she bent forward to read better, “dusting the dormitory?” She punctuated her disbelief with another glare at Jaila.

The girl wriggled on her chair.

“If your coursework had been any compensation, these incidents could have been forgiven. But, alas.” Jaila cringed. She had, it seemed, no redeeming qualities.

“If you had not been gifted to the temple, girl, we would not have been able to keep you any longer as a novice.” Mentrix Mashua closed the file and stared at her novice, tapping a finger to her mouth in thought.

“What are we to do with you?”

Feeling doom and disapproval washing over her, Jaila’s shoulders slumped and she stared at the floor. Unaccustomed to rhetorical questions, she answered in a small voice.

“I will try to do better, Mistress. I am really trying to do my best all the time.”

“I know, child.” Mashua’s gentle tone made Jaila look up.

“We have simply to discover you talents. It is obvious we have not found them yet.” She smiled at Jaila. “This morning’s digression cannot go unpunished so I will device a fit punishment for you. But it seems that in order to discover your talents, Jaila, we are going to have to walk a different path.”

Jaila swallowed in apprehension.

“The Goddess has a task fit for any of us, child, and we, your teachers, have not been heeding her guidance, it seems.” Mashua looked through her office window where a group of novices were walking sedately to their next classes. Her eyes wandered to the half moon-shaped temple. She made a decision.

“Get up girl. We’re going to put this matter to the Goddess herself.”

Jaila’s eyes widened and she scrambled from her chair, nearly knocking it over in her eagerness to follow Mentrix Mashua. With half a step behind the towering woman, Jaila followed her towards the centre of the enclave and the shiny bright temple of Garana, the Moon-Goddess.

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