14 - The meeting of the councilMature

The day dawned to a sleeping Matina. Slowly moving out of slumber, the memories began taking shape of form. They say sleeping over something helps one make sense of things... well, they say many things, Matina thought. Truth be told, her mind wasn't clearer now than it was the day before. Everything about aroa's behaviour had seem strange, and she couldn't help but feel a certain empathy towards the, apparently, sinister teacher. Even so, she thought, the best course of action, for now, was to go to the Council of Veterans and see for herself what was really going on behind the curtains of this book's mystery.

The place was located at Associação Académica de Coimbra, an old building concentrating a vast array of student associations and activity groups. She had no trouble finding it, and after  only a couple minutes walking from her house, she stood at the entrance, gathering the courage to go inside and face the unknown head on. She had heard stories about the veterans, mostly unpleasant, and that place gave her the chills, a mixture of ancient tradition and decaying present. She finally walked in and climbed the stairs leading to the second floor. The Council was right there, first door to the right. She took a deep breath, and knocked.

DUX - Please come in!

The room was strangely dark, with closed window blinds, the only light source a couple of licking candles burning away inside skull-shaped holders. The whole place exhaled an aura of mysticism and occult power, the projected shadows trembling on the walls with the vicious movement of the flames. Right across the door, sitting on a large executive chair and behind a solid mahogany desk, was a man, around 50 years old, gaunt and pale, with wondering, sparky eyes. 

DUX - You are Matina, right? I've been expecting you. Please have a sit.

He pointed to a plastic folding chair sitting across his desk, which stood idly out of context in the room. Matina was, for the first time, truly scared. Everything about that room, and that guy, invoked fear, like staring into an abyss of joyless existence. Even so, she felt oddly compelled to obey, like if that voice carried a power of its own and, incapable of thinking, she saw herself sitting across the figure.

DUX - So, I hear you found a book, hm? Do you know what that book contains?

MATINA - N..N..no... I just stumbled across it, by accident. I tried to read it, but it's in a strange language...

DUX - Oh, yes, macarronic latin. What you have stumbled upon is nothing more nothing less than the original codigo da praxe. It's an ancient book, detailing the costumes and traditions of the university, and it is priceless for us. As the leader of the council of veterans, the organisation responsible for the application of praxe in coimbra, I urge you to give us the book so we can analyse it. It is of vital importance!

Matina froze at the command. Something wasn't definitely right with that guy besides his choice of office decoration, and the choice of words alarmed her at a subconscious level. She tightened her hold on the purse, where she had placed the book before leaving the house. Her thoughts quickly turned to the portuguese history teacher, and she knew what to do, just not exactly how.

MATINA - I... I didn't bring it with me... I must return another time...

DUX - You lie! Do you really think you can trick me like that? What do you have inside that purse of yours?

MATINA - That is none of your business! 

In saying it, Matina turned around and headed for the door, as the DUX Sprang to his feet and threw his arm in a desperate attempt to grab her. He was incredibly fast for his age, but fuelled by a sudden boost of adrenaline, she sprinted away just in time to feel his fingers slipping of her bag, and closing the door with a loud bang on his face. From then on, it was constant running, no looking back, until she found herself home again.

The End

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