Author: Silverpaw (aka SilverInk ^_^)
Writing: short short story
Word Count: 1356
“Mistress Alina, dinner is ready. Master Entraitor is already downstairs.”
Alina Zephyr looked up and stared at the boy at the door for a long moment. Finally, she set the doll she had been playing with on the bed and stood. “You do not need to be so formal,” she finally said and crossed to the closet, where she picked out a nice dress; she supposed it was necessary that night. “Please tell Solo I will be down soon,” she said, entering the adjoining master bathroom. She dressed quickly and stared into the mirror for a long time.
She didn’t look different after a year of living at Entraitor Castle, though she felt considerably fatter. The tattoo-like Mark of Holena on the left side of her face was a healthy dark black and her hair was a pale blonde, with no hint of black through them. Alina was undoubtedly healthy and stress-free.
She combed her hair throughly and pinned it up with a bright blue pin that seemed to reflect her eyes. She checked her appearance. Presentable. Enough.
The manservant—he was an Object of Holena as well, though his Mark was over his right eye—had left, and Alina made her way downstairs by herself. She was by now familiar with the layout of her new home, and though she would never feel completely at home in those lonely dark halls, she was content.
“Alina, my darling, you look beautiful,” her husband greeted. She forced a smile and sat at the other end of the table. He raised his glass of cider. “Happy Anniversary,” he said sweetly, and she returned the toast quietly.
They ate dinner in near-silence, as usual, though Alina spoke a little more than usual, determined to be good.
“Are you happy here, Alina?” Solo asked out of the blue. She watched his pensive expression and answered truthfully:
“I am content.”
“I know you never wanted to marry me in the first place…I’m sorry…for making you.”
She raised an eyebrow in amusement but did not comment.
“I’ve often wondered if you would prefer another…spouse. Mr. Amjier and you got along quite well before, did you not?”
“Quite the contrary. Rais and I were friends, but the majority of our discussions were short arguments,” Alina replied. “I admired his boldness and believed that I would one day take orders from him. With bickering, of course, but obediently all the same.”
“What a twist of events, for him to now serve you,” he replied lightly before saying quickly, “I could dismiss him to Holena’s Haven if it’d please you?”
“That is between you and him.”
The table was quiet for a while longer before Solo asked, “You’re bored here though.”
“Some.” She left it at that for a while, but could tell that he wanted elaboration. She paused for a few more spoonfuls of soup and continued, “The library is an enjoyable pastime, and I enjoy learning to plant with you.”
“Yet you still spend much time by yourself, with…the dolls.”
She did not answer.
“Would you prefer to battle the Pains?”
Alina was thoughtful—this was a question she had often asked herself. In a sense, she preferred security and comfort, but after a year away from the natural duty of an Object of Holena—fighting Pains—she was almost restless. Training—by herself or with Rais or Solo—was interesting, but she felt a need to do the duty she had been assigned almost nine years ago, when she became an Object.
“No, that’s a bad question,” Solo was saying. “Who’d want to battle those beasts? But what I mean is, do you want to leave?”
“Sometimes,” she finally decided, setting the soup bowl aside and taking a beef-pancake. She nibbled on it as she thought. “Solo, have you ever been to Idyllen South?”
“I’ve traveled to the planet a few times, briefly, but no. Not much. Why, dearest?”
“I used to live in Bryka Fields, in Idyllen South. The council there held a contest a three years ago to see if I would be able to retain my parent’s house when they passed. I won, and the other competitor—that would be Rais— failed his Assignment because of that.”
“He is an Object because of you,” Solo noted. “What is the purpose of this?”
“I still own the house, but I lease it now. I was wondering if I could go to Idyllen and tour the place. Honestly I have nothing to do here, particularly if you insist that I do not fight, and exploring the land would be entertaining as well as educational.”
“Is this your wish?”
“Only a fancy,” she replied and finished her pancake. After a moments deliberation she picked up chopsticks and a filled a bowl with rice and tofu and vegetables telekinetically. Even though she could have finished the task quickly, she did so slowly, as if dragging out the act until Solor answered, which he presently did.
“If it pleases you, we may tour the southern hemisphere of the planet. Are you going to request to visit the other moons after?”
“Perhaps,” she answered levelly and delayed her next phrase until she had finished almost half the bowl. “Probably not soon.”
“It’s settled then,” Solo said. “I will conclude some business on Edihn and we will set off for Idyllen. Mr. Amjier!” he said and the voice seemed to flow out of the room seeking the person called.
Rais stepped into the room as if he had been standing just behind the door, waiting for the call, though he had been on the other side of the house when Solo had called him. “Yes, Master?”
“If my sweetheart and I were to leave for a vacation of sorts, would you prefer to return to Holena’s Haven until we return or reside here?”
“In all honesty sir, I would like to visit my hometown during that time.”
“It is granted then,” Solo declared, magnanimity and power radiating out of him. “When my dearheart and I leave in a few months time, you’ll be granted leave to your own business. Only see to it that the castle is in decent condition before you leave, and visit it every other month or so to ensure its well-being.”
Rais put his left palm over his right fist and bent slightly at the waist in a respectful bow. “When do you plan to return sir?”
“Depends how long we plan to stay there,” she replied nonchalantly. Nearly full, she summoned the dessert dishes with a light instruction to the table.
Solo thought for a moment before replying, “It doesn’t matter. Continue with your check-ups and when we return you will see. Until we do return though, you are free to do as you would.”
Rais bowed again and at Solo’s wave, left the room. “Thank you sir,” he said quietly before quitting the room.
A long period passed in relative silence until Alina finally commented, “That was generous of you.”
“I’m glad you’re pleased,” he said, beaming as he dug into his own dessert. Alina pasted a small smile on her face in return. After another quiet session, she finished, utterly full, and sat back in her chair, waiting for him to speak or dismiss her or otherwise.
At length he finished as well and stood to lead her out of the room. The table swallowed up the empty dishes and sent them elsewhere in the massive castle to be washed and dried.
“Miss Alina Zephyr,” the master of the castle said, leading her up the stairs to their bedroom, “I have one final question for you tonight.”
She nodded to indicate she was listening. He opened the double doors smoothly but did not proceed though them.
“Do you love me?”
Tension suddenly leapt up, filling the space as if it were a gaseous creature bent on sucking all the air out of the area. Everything was still, and Entraitor Castle seemed bigger and more forlorn than it had ever been.
Finally Alina sighed quietly and replied, “No.”
Artist's Note: First post of the DIW Year 1 Anniversary event! ^_^ Im' sure you recognized Alina in this, though she's considerably older than she was in Returning Home. ;)
Any guesses at the theme?
~Silverpaw (don't worry, I'm still SilverInk/ Silver of Ink. I'm just using Silverpaw for the time being as a tribute to the Warriors series. :)