A-Z April Fantasy Flash Fiction, part 15. Character: ShaRo
Truth be told, I was worried about Jaé. I still remembered my first days as a vampire. Like most others, I had hurt, or in one case killed, The One Standing Too Close quite a few times. It had taken me a month before my mentor and I had dared to venture into the capital for my inspection.
Perhaps the massacre at Escaton had helped, or perhaps she just had a tamer temperament than I did, but Jaé seemed more stable than I had been as a new one. She was the first one I had changed, so I did not have much to compare with, but she seemed to be doing exceptionally well. We flew over the city of thousands of heartbeats and she never strayed off course.
The only stone fort in Súthenaira was the Command Castle, perched on top of the volcanic rocks of the inner islands. We landed on the battlements, drawing a gaggle of stares from young trainees. Their heartbeats gallopped with excitement as they watched us furl our wings and enter a heavy, important looking door.
The inspecting committee already awaited us, standing at the opposite side of the hall, leaning against the wall. It consisted of my commander, Jaé’s handler, and two others I did not know. Jaé’s handler was the only one with a heartbeat in the room, a wild-eyed nymph, though he did show any sign of fear or discomfort. Our people were a motley mix of immortal monsters, distantly related, and united under a glorious flag. His heartbeat made him no less dangerous than we were. We greeted them with a formal salute, which they all returned. It was time to begin.
“Comerades-in-arms, I, whom they call ShaRoOuNaiGo, present to you the one whom they call JaéAnJoou, deemed ready for inspection after change.” I recited, having hurriedly read the formal procedures before arrival.
“Thank you, ŌuekKaShi.” My commander replied, addressing me as the turquoise flag I wore on my shoulder.
Jaé’s handler watched a little more nervously as my commander produced a sheet of paper. “JaéAnJoou, assigned the white flag, primary weapon: bow…” He read, glancing up at her with strict eyes after every entry, “Aged fifteen now, a Shadow, seven targets confirmed dead…”
The room instantly filled with incredulous glares as Jaé interrupted her superiors, which was something one definitely did not do at an inspection. “Eight. Escaton’s commander is dead, his throat snapped by my fist. He can confirm.” She gestured at me, while defying the glares, stubborn, obstinate. I felt like my stomach was sinking; I would probably never hear the end of this.
“Well, well.” My commander muttered, turning to me, though it seemed like he was subtly trying to suppress a grin, “Is it true?”
“Yes, sir.” I snapped to attention.
“Eight it is, then, NiikKaShi.” He corrected his paper. “Spread your wings.”
Jaé did as asked, and was fortunately cautious enough to leave the walls and ceiling undamaged.
Jaé’s claws emerged with the characteristic metallic clang.
“ŌuekKaShi, what’s your opinion?”
“She’s doing well, amd everything seems to be in order. She’s strong, and there’s a lot of fight in her, but she’s also surprisingly adequately controlled.” I ended my assessment with a salute.”
“Thank you.” My commander returned the salute, then gestured to the two unknown vampires in the room. “In that case, we have a new assignment for the two of you.”