Chapter 41: A Traitor is Unmasked.
The trio was allowed to sleep until late the next day. They showered, changed, and emerged from their rooms to find a Doorkeeper attendant waiting outside their rooms. She escorted them to the chapel, ignoring their questions about why they had been summoned there. The trio stepped across the threshold and paused, gazing at those already assembled in the chapel. They spotted a few familiar faces among the growing group. A white-robed Doorkeeper stood in each of the four corners of the room, with palms pressed together, seemingly deep in prayer or reflection. Jagathy stood in the center aisle, in the same pose. Janet looked to Marko.
“What are they doing?”
“They have cast a containment spell, to prevent the use of magic in here. There must be some powerful spell casters in here. The four robed men and women are posted at the four corners covering north, south, east and west. They are lending their energy to Jagathy, to strengthen the spell.”
The attendant ushered the trio to the front row and seated them next to Mukesh, whom Andrea recognized as second in command to Jagathy. They exchanged polite nods. She hadn’t had many opportunities to interact with him. He seemed to be a man of few words, with an intensity that was evident in his piercing eyes. The chapel slowly filled around them. The buzz of conversation gradually grew louder, until Jagathy suddenly opened his eyes and lifted his arms to quiet everyone.
He took a deep breath and began, “Ladies and gentlemen, the traditional call to order takes on a special significance today. Guard your hearts and minds, for we have a difficult task before us. Last night, it was brought to my attention that we have a traitor among us leaking information and launching attacks against us. Whoever you are, this is your opportunity to come forward, in exchange for possible leniency. The chapel fell silent. People cautiously looked at one another.
Jagathy stood in silence, studying the faces around him for several minutes. When no one came forward, he nodded towards a man standing next to an open control panel. The man reached inside and a fine mist of water began to dampen everyone. Andrea was annoyed, “Is he kidding? If I was a traitor, a little water wouldn’t affect me at all. I don’t see what this is doing, other than messing up everybody’s hair.”
Marko shushed her and murmured, “This isn’t tap water Andrea. It’s energetically charged holy water.”
“So,” came Andrea’s terse reply.
“Ssh, just wait and watch what happens.”
The others seemed to share Andrea’s sentiment. A few of them cracked jokes. Then a man sitting in the back row began to twitch slightly. His jerky movement gradually became more pronounced. One by one, the others turned to stare, as his movements became spasmodic. He looked around self-consciously and appeared to be willing himself to sit still. The man shook his head violently from side to side, murmuring under his breath. His increasing discomfort led to agonized rocking back and forth. He abruptly stood and made for the nearest exit. A Doorkeeper warrior guarding the door, grabbed him by his collar.
“Bring him to me,” ordered Jagathy.
The warrior dragged him forward and deposited him on his knees in front of Jagathy, who glared down at the man.
“Is there something you wish to tell me Timothy?”
“No…I…it’s not my fault. He…he threatened my family…”
“Who threatened your family?”
Jagathy followed his gaze over to Mukesh. People around them gasped audibly. Mukesh laughed it off, “don’t tell me you believe this…this worm. He’s just trying to save his own skin. He would blame his own mother, if he thought it would get him out of trouble.”
“You forget, he cannot lie with activated holy water raining down on him and convicting him of his sins.”
“Fine, you know what? I’m glad it’s coming out now. I have remained silent for far too long.”
“What did you do Mukesh?”
“I did what needed to be done, to show what a weak, ineffectual leader you are! You’ve had these three half-wits chasing a man who doesn’t even exist,” he exclaimed waving his hand at Janet, Andrea, and Marko.
“You mean…you’re the one who killed Daksha’s seeker and stole the talisman?”
“Such brutality is beneath me. I had Timothy take care of it. Don’t look at me that way Jagathy. It’s not my fault Daksha couldn’t protect her seeker. It was a test and they both failed miserably. Daksha is lucky she did not share her seeker’s fate. I thought perhaps that would spur you to finally take some constructive action, to make some much needed changes. Imagine my disappointment, when you responded by enlisting the help of norms from outside the Doorkeepers with no real magical ability. Of course, it’s not completely your fault. The idiot you have in charge of your tactical team must share some of the blame for failing to provide effective counsel.”
Jagathy angrily stepped to Mukesh and reached up to tear the talisman from Mukesh’s neck. His fingers closed around the crystal and reflexively locked, as a volt of energy began shooting through his body. Everyone watched in horror, as his body began to convulse. The spell casters at the four corners had also dropped and lay convulsing on the floor. Those nearest to them, rushed to their aid.
“What’s happening? I thought he said magic wasn’t possible in here,” Janet wailed.
“It isn’t, they’re getting electrocuted. Help me find something to pry Jagathy’s hand off that crystal!”
Jagathy had lost consciousness, by the time they separated him from it. Marko checked and was relieved to find a pulse. Being joined to four other people, via a magic circle had spread the electric current. Consequently, Jagathy did not receive the full force of the shock. He was already beginning to come around, when Mukesh suddenly shouted, “now!” Before the containment spell could be reinstated, several among the group attacked the robed Doorkeepers from the circle.
Mukesh turned towards his leader with a murderous look in his eye, raising his hands to strike. Marko turned to his companions and barked, “help me shield Jagathy.” Janet and Andrea stood around Jagathy and reached over him to join hands with Marko. Without thinking, the sisters fell back on their Doorkeeper training. They mentally blocked out the chaos around them and focused their intentions, in order to raise a protective cone of power.
Mukesh just laughed. One wave of his left hand and the trio felt a concussive blow, which nearly bowled them over. Marko responded in kind. Mukesh staggered backwards, unprepared for the energetic uppercut blow. Mukesh growled angrily and began charging towards them. They were bracing for another blow, when Doorkeeper warriors surrounded them and led the way to a floor hatch behind the pulpit.
They could hear Mukesh’s frustrated roar enlisting his subordinates, as the warriors carried Jagathy beyond his reach. Many of the Doorkeepers protecting Jagathy were struck down by Mukesh and his men, attempting to halt his escape. The trio hesitated, feeling that they should help, until they were forcibly pulled along by the warriors in front of them.
“Keep moving. You must get Master Jagathy to safety and watch over him! We will deal with Mukesh.”