The Illuminated Ones
Chambers of Verona, Mistress of Physicks and Alchemy, Order of Illumination and blessed of Holy Morrow
It was late into the evening when the three gathered in the chambers of the Mistress of Physicks and Alchemy. The mistress herself was an older woman of medium height and build with warm blue eyes and greying hair held back in a net, she wore the robes of her station with casual grace. This evening she had given up her own chair to another, a being cowled in the robes and powerful illusions of a Vigilant Peer of the Order. Despite indeterminate age, sex and appearance, all cloaked in glamour, the beings authority and wisdom remained apparent, and the meeting was at their behest. The final attendee was Master Harald, supervisor of field training for the Order of Illumination, a short and solid man in every way famed for his resolve and calm deliberation both.
The Vigilant Peer opened the discussion. “I wish to discuss the proposed graduation of Mathias Jurgen to the ranks of agent of the Order. I understand you each have your reservations despite his obvious devotion, ability and intellect? Please speak openly, Harald?” The faceless cowl of the Vigilant Peer turned its weighty gaze upon the Master of field training.
Harald true to his nature paused to consider his words carefully before proceeding. “Student Jurgen is competent, careful and his insights and devotion do the order credit. However I fear for his durability in the field, he is a slender man, more pronounced even with his height, and further he appears physically aged beyond his years…”
“How old is he exactly Master, Mistress?”
Verona barely had to pause to answer. “He has been with the Order as a student and Child of Morrow for 14 years now Vigilant Peer. We think he was perhaps a decade old when he was found in the ruins of the blighted village of Saltspray on the southern coast. So that would place him in his mid-twenties and while I will agree with Harald that he appears much older I will also state that our Physician’s, including myself, can find nothing which ails him or slows his vitality.”
“Thank you Mistress, Harald please continue”
The stolid Master again paused to collect his thoughts. “I can agree that his physical performance in tests has been adequate, in fact his tenacity places him above the average. Nevertheless I am also worried about his, obscure diet. He will not eat meat and insists whenever able to suck incessantly upon citrus fruits, in particular lemons. Instead he subsists upon lentils and various fungi and spices he procures with his own funds, it worries me that this may be disruptive in the field.”
Verona interrupted. “Again Vigilant Peer let me assure you that while Student Jurgen does have an eccentric diet we have determined on careful and through examination that it is an adequate, perhaps even improved, sustenance for a person.”
Harald quickly spoke. “Was not the majority of this research done by the Student himself?”
“Certainly Harald but let me reinforce to both yourself and the Vigilant Peer that the research has been checked and its results both impeccable and confirmed. In fact we have started to vary some of our meals to reflect aspects of the Student’s research with excellent results.”
The Vigilant Peer again turned. “Harald?”
“I have nothing more to say really Vigilant Peer. While it would appear otherwise, in the physical aspect of the field training I will admit that while Student Jurgen does not excel he has continually placed in the upper half of his cadre. He displays no enthusiasm of note but when directed to he completes all the tasks with deliberation and precision. Physically I am worried about how the Student appears; despite this I must acknowledge that his performance is adequate, even in vigorous close confrontation, despite his apparent frailty.”
The Vigilant Peer turned to Verona. “Mistress the Student has spent almost all his time of specialty within your classes. I am to understand he has excelled in both Alchemy and Physick studies, I wish to hear your concerns.”
Verona immediately began her prepared observations. “There is no doubting Student Jurgen’s intellect, his careful and precise work nor his drive and motivation. For reasons we have never been firmly able to establish he loathes the dark arts with passionate intensity. This brings us to the centre of my teachers’ misgivings…”
Unusually here Verona paused in her presentation; both the Vigilant Peer and Harald noted her uncharacteristic hesitancy.
“He is unusual in his temperament. It is extraordinarily difficult to engage with him, he avoids discussing himself or his past in any way to such a degree that despite our efforts it largely remains a mystery. Also despite having exceptional insights into physical health his, shall we say, patient manner is woeful, he is blunt and almost coldly realistic in his dealings.”
“No Vigilant Peer, not at all, merely almost painfully rational and pragmatic, if a victim must lose a limb to trauma then he will inform them and proceed as simply as if it was any other task. He is careful and will do everything to minimise pain and suffering as he appears to recognise it; but he has no apparent empathy of the body or spirit. The tasks will be done, he always pursues the course which promotes the least physical pain and endangerment to Morrow’s gift of life and vitality, but his manner can be at best described as, detached.”
The Vigilant Peer turned. “Harald?”
“I agree Vigilant Peer. The Student is difficult if not impossible to engage socially. With his fellow students he will integrate for tasks but I have not known him to do so socially, not even with the younger women. Despite this I must say that most students wish to work with him, he is reliable and always supports his peers when able to. Verona would you agree?”
Verona nodded her acknowledgement and went on. “I must agree, despite his eccentricities, he is, if not popular, well regarded and a sought after colleague. He explains his insights and supports his colleagues without ever appearing superior and shares credit regardless of unequal relative contributions to the work. I am merely worried about how he will interact with strangers and the image of the Order he will present to the wider world.”
The Vigilant Peer contemplated quietly. “So then we agree that physically despite his frail appearance and unique habits he is able to function in the field?”
Harald nodded confirmation.
“Even excel.” Verona added.
“And further his work in the laboratories and wards has been adequate?”
“In this he is beyond adequate; he is one of the most insightful, careful and gifted students I have.”
“The Priests have reinforced with me his devotion, that he embraces Morrow body and soul, and his gifting of the miracles of our Lord. In fact you have each further reinforced the drive the student has when faced with adversity and his hatred of the abominations against life?”
“Of this I have no doubt.” Harald stated.
Verona also voiced her agreement.
“So it is difficult for me to justify in any way not clearing this young man for acceptance into the Order of Illumination as an agent. I will take each of your observations and the recommendations in your reports under careful advisement but I note neither of you recommended the Student should fail. Obviously we must have the utmost of care in this particular student’s placement with an active team of the Order but I think we have a group of students about to qualify which may suit the circumstances perfectly.”
The Vigilant Peer rose. “Morrow is a Lord who shines light into the darkest of places and supports life and charity to all his children no matter how low, desperate or apparently unworthy. The final judgement resides in our Lord and he illuminates our path to truth regardless of how confusing the journey appears to our limited mortal understanding. Morrow brought this young man into his embrace and gifted him with obvious faith, skill and devotion. We will listen to our Lord in his wisdom. I thank you both for your time, insights and vigilance. Morrow be with you.” With that the Vigilant Peer turned and left the chamber.
Harald stood. “Verona I will also bid my leave, as always milady I am honoured.”
The Mistress Verona sat quietly after her colleagues had left. She carefully tied and sealed the small file on the student before her for later storage by her assistant and then stood to leave. As befitted a woman who had devoted years of her life to science and healing her mind moved on from those reservations she could do no more about and she headed off considering the problems of her classes tomorrow.