The hooded figures stood silently in the dark, facing each other in a tight circle. There were seven of them in all, hands still against their loose black robes, only their light breaths disrupting the silence in the place. Dust swirled in the air between them, particles visible through the beam of moonlight that shone through the glass pane above them. On the wooden floor, a strange contraption lay at the centre of their circle, at first looking simply like a colourful box, but on further observation seeming to have grooves cut into interlocking sides that twisted and turned.
The assembled members understood the importance of what was in front of them. It had taken them weeks and a great deal of negotiations with people in higher palaces to obtain it- but they had it now.
The leader- Hetidi, he was called- raised his head and sent a sweeping look over all of them.
“Amber,” he called out, “Grey and Green.”
Three of the figures exactly opposite to him knelt down, their heads bowed low, the edge of their robes brushing the floor.
Amber lifted her head up, the hood slipping down to reveal her face. She had light yellow eyes, with a copper tint and hues of green and hazel. She was smiling, her dreadlocks framing her pretty face.
“Hetidi,” she said reverently, “I am humbled.”
Amber already knew why the leader had called upon her- she had the most contacts of them all, the ability to reach those few people who could be coerced into helping them solve the contraption, and several tricks up her sleeve just to do that.
She had been the one who had helped procure the device in the first place, and now she was going to help solve it too.
Amber couldn’t help it- she snuck a glance at the figure to the right of Hetidi.
Hazel stood there, a dainty figure with brown skin, her golden brown eyes seething with rage. The two detested each other. Hazel with barely concealed envy and Amber with contemptuous disdain.
Hazel had joined the Circle earlier than them all, an elder in all rights, and yet Amber, who had joined but a couple weeks ago had stolen her spotlight, appealing to Hetidi with her quick wiles and persuasiveness. The others had respected Hazel-the only woman in the circle -had listened to her orders and carried them out without hesitation, until along came Amber, snapping all their attention up, leaving Hazel in the dark. Hazel believed that Amber hadn’t gotten her way in by proving herself- she had probably flashed her pretty eyes at Hetidi and slinked her way into their midst. Hetidi had a soft spot for her.
Amber smirked at her, fire burning in her eyes, before looking back at Hetidi.
Hetidi noticed her momentary glance, and felt Hazel’s tension beside him. He pursed his lips ever so slightly.
“Three days,” he told Amber.
Hazel let loose a small laugh at his side, and he turned his differently coloured eyes on her. She stopped at once, composing herself and looking down solemnly. Her mouth betrayed her, curving into a slight smile at the edge.
Amber bit the inside of her cheek. Three days might not be enough even for her.
Right on cue, Green raised his head up beside her, eyes sturdy and glossy green shining with determination. He was the one the circle most depended on to tie up loose ends, to find new solutions when all had failed, to support them when everything was lost.
“I will help her, Hetidi. We will get it done,” he said, his voice loud and clear.
Hetidi nodded his head. “Rise then.”
They resumed their positions in the circle, leaving Grey still kneeling on the floor.
Grey felt wretched. He knew he didn’t have anything to offer to Hetidi, or the Circle. Hetidi had only allowed him to be a part of them when Grey had stumbled upon their trail a year ago, threatening to reveal them if they didn’t. At first, he had excised his power over them, cajoling and blackmailing them for his own means, but the year with them had taught him much, and he became a true member of the circle. He wanted to be a part of it, seeing their organisation and amazing work, but he soon found out he had no real talent, nothing to give to the circle as it’s member.
Hetidi only gave him missions such as this once in a while, to let him feel as though he was a contributing member too.
Grey did not want to listen to Hetidi, to hear the words that would send humiliation coursing through him. The other members saw him, pathetic, and shifted their gazes to Hetidi.
“You have three days as well,” Hetidi said. “Find another.”
The words sent a shock through Grey and the other members. Hetidi was telling him to get another one of the contraptions? Grey couldn’t possibly get another one in such a short time- the other members knew it. How could he, when Amber herself had taken so long? If Hetidi had assigned it to Amber herself or some other member at least, it might have been done, but Grey? He certainly couldn’t.
Grey, however, felt a shiver make its way down his spine. Hetidi was giving him this. It meant that he believed Grey could do it- so Grey would do it. He would procure another, in shorter time than Amber and solidify his position again. His eyes were entirely the colour of dark clouds just then, with silver specks, and he looked up at Hetidi with gratitude and promise in his eyes.
Hetidi looked back at him, eyes soft and nodded again. “Rise, Grey.”
Grey took his position again, and felt the others’ doubt at him. He shook it off- he would show them that he was as much of a member of the circle as they were.
Hetidi lifted his arms up, taking Hazel’s hand at his left and Brown’s at his right. While Hazel’s hand was cold to the touch, Brown’s was warm and stuffy. His huge hands almost covered up Hetidi’s, and Hetidi noticed that he was still uncomfortable in his robes.
This was Brown’s first meeting, and he had darted looks at the others throughout. His eyes were the colour of melted chocolate, and his words even smoother. He could charm almost anyone, and had special connections with higher ups in the system. Hetidi had seen him the previous day, talking to Mrs. Pentworthy with a document in hand, heard his honey-like speech, and had immediately invited him to the Circle. Brown wasn’t the most impressive person to look at, but he had an arsenal in his words, and a background that was almost royal. Brown would make a fine addition to the Circle, Hetidi was sure of it.
The others followed him, clasping hands with each other. They spoke as one, reciting words that were etched into their memory. All but one’s minds were in it.
Blue was muttering the words under his breath, his mind far away. He was thinking about something else, as he usually always did. His eyes were usually described as being like the depths of the oceans. The rich azure color validated that observation, but as far as observations go, it ended there. He was as deep as a puddle on a rainy day. In fact, he would probably be thinking about this very meeting later on, at dinner or tomorrow’s check up with certain health officials. It was a miracle that he managed his own matters, much less that he got into the circle.
They finished their chanting and made to move out. Just then, the floor underneath the contraption gave way. Bright light filled the room- revealed to be an attic- as the contraption thudded down stairs and broke on carpeted floor, narrowly missing the woman standing there.
Her face twisted funnily as she looked up to a jumble of faces peering at her.
“Is that a- Is that the rubix cube? Don’t you know better than to put it directly on the trapdoor? I’m not buying you another one, Jenna. Jake, at least you should’ve taken better care! I told you the rubix was for both of you.”
She directed her remarks at Amber and Hetidi, the former of whom looked distraught and the latter stood still with a blank face.
When neither of them deigned to reply, their mother huffed.
“Well, it’s gone now. Not sure if you can fix that thing,” she said, glancing back down. “Anyway, look, Laura’s mother called for her, so you‘ll have to stop this-” She waved her hand at their appearance, eyebrows furrowing slightly- “game or whatever it is you’re playing. And Jack and the rest, it’s past time you went home. I’m sure your parents will be calling soon too, so you’d better be off.”
The rest of the members still didn’t move, jarred at having been almost caught, except for Blue, who was still lost in his morning breakfast. He looked at Jake and Jenna’s mom and smiled at her, making his way down the stairs, all polite young boy. His movement jerked the others back to reality too, and they slowly followed him down too.
They stared sullenly at the broken rubix cube.
Green- Henry, actually -picked up the broken pieces with Jenna and spoke up. “Aren’t you going to ask us what we were doing, Mrs. Jackson?”
“What for?” She replied. “As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or getting up to trouble, I have no objections. I might be a little concerned about how you got those clothes though,” she said, because their uniform black robes were a little chilling.
Brown- Alec- came to the rescue.
“My mom made it for us, Mrs. Jackson. She’s a tailor.”
She frowned and said nothing more.
As Mrs. Jackson watched the kids go out the front door, she pursed her lips. She closed the door and headed back to the kitchen, pretending not to notice her two kids sneaking out the window to meet their friends- possibly to talk about what just happened.
It was only by chance one day that she had forgotten and left her phone recording in the room, and she’d gotten to know about their so called Circle. She would talk to them one day, in case they ever took the play too far, but for now, she thought it was pretty cool. As long as they didn’t get into trouble or hurt each other, she didn’t see any harm in what they were doing.