I was haunched over a cup of tea, both of my hands wrapped around the cardboard container. Heat radiated from the hot liquid and warmed my cold face. The noise of the door clicking open made me turn quickly, unsteadying my hands enough so that I scalded myself with a few drops of tea.
Five more people had entered the room. One was immediately beckoned by Charlie. In whispers they conversed and a piece of crumpled paper was handed over. There was a pause in the conversation and Charlie looked at me before responding and abruptly ending the conversation with the man in the robe. Almost as quickly as he scurried in, he made for the door. Before the door clicked closed, Charlie stopped him. "This," he said, motioning to me. "This is Scarlett. Scarlett, this is Joey - Head of Tracking." With a dutiful bow, Joey acknowledged me and left.
There was still three people dressed in the monk like robes I didn't know. One by one, they lowered their hoods and all three pairs of eyes were trained on me questioningly or, in one case, suspiciously.
The first one and closest to me was a guy with a shaved head. Snake tattoos covered his skull, seeming to slither in the changing light. He was heavily built and quite tall. His features are chiselled and very war godly. Looking at me with his green eyes, I know they are the only soft thing about him. He didn't seem to be able to keep still for long, every muscle flexing as though ready for battle, every so often, a finger twitching out of place. On his knuckles were tattoos saying "vrai" and "faux". Wrapped around one finger he had a silver serpent ring with emeralds embedded into the pattern of the scales. He looked at me questioningly, but saw my expression and made a small smile in my direction, putting me at ease. Gladly, I returned the smile.
Charlie spoke at last. "This is Chaz. He's Head of Order and Protection here."
My eyes moved on to the next person in the curve. It was a woman with vibrant pink hair. The colour wasn't warm and comforting, but garish and intrusive. Her face was looking at me piercingly and I felt uncomfortable under the gaze of her dull grey eyes. Unlike Chaz, her body was completely devoid of movement except for the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she breathed and the flicker of her harsh eyes as they blinked. Her features could have been soft, but they looked as though they had been put through many years of harsh looks and the looks certainly weren't being toned down for my sake.
Charlie introduced her. "This is Diana. She's Head of Social Activity here."
I nodded politely, scared of her unwavering, judging gaze. Slowly, I moved my eyes onto the last female. She had a vacant, pleasant look in her soft eyes, almost as though she was a lost deer in a glade somewhere. Her whole face was gentile and steady. Her blue eyes accented beautiful, long, free flowing and slightly wavy light blonde hair. To say light blond would be an understatement. It was so blonde it was almost white. She held herself gracefully and calmly, but it was hard to tell exactly what she did to present herself like this. Maybe it was just how she was.
Finally, Charlie introduced this girl. "And this, this is Laura. She's Head of Introduction to Dreamland." Seeing the confusion on my face - I'd never seen this girl before - he continued. "She gets involved by using other people, animals and in some cases, she gets involved herself, gets you settled in and then wipes your memory of her." He finished with a wink.
"You said there were six people on the council. Who are the other three and what do they do?" I asked quietly.
It was Chaz who answered me with a smile. "There's Tamara who is Head of Existence, Joey who's Head of Tracking and then Nina over there who is Head of Official matters. That ranges from things like the yearly festival to documentation for every person here."
"Sounds interesting." I answered with another smile. Remembering something, the happiness inside me disappeared. "What about Lucas? What are we going to do?" I said, desperately trying not to cry again.