Writing: Short short story/ beginning of a longer story.
Word Count: 1804
The curtains were purple today. I took a moment while Mom was talking to Aunt Ever to scrutinize the fabric. It was thicker than the usual curtains and a bit fuzzy too. Not at all like the usual light and smooth ones. These were also lacking in design, while the blue ones had been intricately embroidered in silver silk at the edges.
“Young man, I advise you against inspecting the drapery. They are for decoration, not amusement.”
I dropped the cloth. Maybe Jane would let me have a bit later. “Sorry sir. I’m pretty careful though.”
“Regardless. Thank you sir.”
My smile dropped the moment I turned around again. Huh. That was odd. There weren’t any guards last time we came. I stood patiently next to mom after that. She said it would be a nice night and that I would meet a bunch of famous, powerful people, but so far I’d only seen Aunt Ever, Uncle Auris, and Mr. Emile. I admit Uncle Auris is a pretty well-respected researcher and it’s always a treat to see Aunt Ever—she made me a knapsack this time—but Mr. Emile isn’t too spectacular. At all. He’s a good analyst, but not the top and he can’t even beat Ever at Destiny’s Edge: Battle Blitz. (Just to give you a point of reference, I can beat Ever with half her starting HP.)
I guess that has nothing to do with anything. But you get my point—I was bored.
“Bree Harper, is that you?”
I turned at mom’s name.
“Ellasyn!” They hugged, then,
“It’s been too long, Bree.”
“Elisa!” Aunt Ever and “Elisa” embraced and the pretty—weird—lady bowed to Auris.
“Is this your son, Ever?”
“Mine actually,” mom said. I pressed my fist against my left palm and bowed respectfully.
“Couer Harper, pleased to meet you, Ms. Gilfax.”
She stood frowning at me for a moment. I smiled and waited; I was used to this. Next she would be asking who my father was and when she found out she would either gasp in shock and begin chastising mom (“I told you he was a good-for-nothing!”) or pitying her (“Are you holding up ok? I can always spare some cash or food or clothes, you know.”). And after that she’d ask me if I were going to be a puppeteer like my parents. It was the same routine, over and over again.
But Ms. Elisa only nodded and murmured quietly, “I see…” before the adults began talking about Lady Ellasyn’s latest trop to Edihn. I forced myself to tune in; not many people besides the objects were allowed—must less could survive—on the smallest moon of the ESRAI system.
“Did you see Alina’s child? Is it—she—alive?”
“Alive, well, and powerful,” Ms. Elisa answered uncle Auris.
“I still don’t get how an Object of Holena was able to conceive,” he said. “But I suppose the child’s father was an aos si—that alone might have accounted for it.”
“Lady Holena was fair, I think,” Aunt Ever nodded. “Would the child be here possibly?”
“Is Holena herself coming tonight?” Mr. Emile asked.
“Lady Holena hardly leaves the Haven and the Senate did declare the child an abomination,” Mom said with a quick glance between him and Uncle Auris.
“Damn the Senate!” I stared at Aunt Ever’s soft exclamation. “More and more fools each year. I respect the Council’s decision on the girl.”
There was a quiet pause in our group and a few agreements. Finally, mom broke the silence with a casual “So Elisa, who is representing Edihn tonight?”
“I know the Alina and the General of the Guard are coming,” Ms. Elisa said after a moment of hesitation or awkwardness. “And Fallarbor is too, though Alina said it wasn’t for the banquet.”
Fallarbor Warni! If one of the Nine Houses were coming, I might have a chance of talking to him—and maybe the old guy would let me see the Bracelet Eveline.
“Yea, something about all the Nine Houses being here for a reunion or something,” Auris confirmed. “Not part of the banquet in any case.”
All the Nine Houses! I wanted to talk to Silence Winds. Maybe she’d divine my future or read my life-dagger for me.
“If all the Nine Houses are coming, they must think something’s a big deal,” Aunt Ever said, considerably mollified after he outburst. “Is today a special day or something?”
The others indicated they weren’t aware it was.
At that moment the doors opened and the greeting hall hushed almost instantly. William Oakler, former Ruler of Idyllen South and current Head of the Council of ESRAI announced the guests in no particular order to the various leaders of the moons, who were already seated at the long table.
“Lady Julian Winchester and Juniper Winski, channel of earth.”
“Lady Maple-Ann Lewis of the Halls of Cieonna and Mr. Wisconsin Tynan.”
The list continued. I had recognized no one in the greeting hall but suddenly I recognized all the guests by name. Soon I lost track of who was who or even who had been introduced. I found myself wondering how William Oakler knew all these people and their titles—even if he was the Head of the Council.
“Elijiah Gilfax, Keeper of the Rift Hearts, and Miss Aurasine Windrose with Lady Ellasyn Gilfax, Servant of the Chasm of Secrets.”
“Dr. Auris Wyn, researcher, and Miss Ever Blaize,”
“Dr. Emile Errolheart, puppeteer analyst.”
Mr. Emile was scowling when Uncle Auris and Aunt Ever were introduced and I nearly burst into laughter when I saw his expression suddenly freeze and change when he was announced after them.
“Puppeteer Bree Harper, Guardian of Zaloren, and Mr. Couer Harper.”
I swear his power is the ability to tell what people’s names are.
We made our way down the ramp and bowed to the people at the head table; Queen Geneva of Idyllen North, High Chancellor Edaline Evera and Ruling Chancellor Agyris Peck of Remnants East, and Chief Idon Aleda Korbin of Remnants West. Jane and the representatives from Edihn were missing when we arrived but I saw the General of the Guard of Edihn and Captain Alina Zephyr slip through the curtain and seat themselves presently, their Marks of Holena very conspicuous in the sea of faces.
When everyone was introduced I looked around me to see who I was sitting with and found myself between mom and Aunt Ever. A gold identification tag popped up on the table in front of me and as I watched, mom’s name appeared on her tag. I glanced across the table to see a a pretty lady with a crystal tiara and her friend, a lady with scar on her shoulder and a garnet necklace. The scar-girl had a black marker in her hand and was messing with their name tags.
I watched as she put them down and winked at me before turning it around. The gold tag had been embellished with a few funny faces and a little scribble that I soon realized was supposed to be a tornado. “Uzina Serenity” had been crossed out and replaced with a scrawled “Storm”—
“Storm Blaize?” I gapped, glancing quickly at Aunt Ever and then at her mother—the crazy savior of the planet back when legend was reality. “You’re my favorite character in Battle Blitz!” I blurted stupidly. Mom and a few of the people around me laughed amicably Storm grinned.
“I’m my favorite character too! You want to have a showdown sometime?”
Issiri Aeria Zephyr:
General Caesaera Adeline Emer was upset.
“No. Issiri is not a zoo-creature. I refuse to have her examiled or otherwise gawked at by the guests, Council, Senate, or whatever.”
I turned silver eyes to the Ruler of Idyllen South. She was a regal figure, with none of the fancy airs that wafted around the Senate members from earlier. She didn’t need fancy airs or anything to be commanding.
Behind her stood the Council of ESRAI, missing their Head. I could hear him announcing the first guests though, and understood that dinner was starting. Caesaera and mother should be going.
“I have spoken to the Senate multiple times but they refuse to seat her, General Caesaera,” the Queen was saying. She paused carefully, as if reading the Object’s intentions. “I am loathe to go against them so early in my rule, but yes, I could override their decision.”
Caesaera turned to mother for advice. “She doesn’t need to be here,” my mother said, seemingly ambivalently. “She doesn’t mind…” she continued, glancing at me. I nodded my agreement. “…So long as she gets dinner.”
“I will ask the chef to cook to her desires,” Jane Exina followed flawlessly. Caesaera didn’t look too convinced but at the moment the side door opened up and two people stepped into the room. We all bowed graciously.
“No need to bother the chef,” Aurora Rizea said once everyone had risen.
Marion Iekelazi said with a little dip of his pink-striped head, “If she would have our company, Miss Zephyr could sit with us.”
I bowed again to both Houses before glancing at Caesaera and mother. Caesaera left the choice to me; mother just blinked. “I would be most honoured it the Nine Houses themselves deem me eligible to sit at their table.”
“The honour is ours,” Marion said, ever humble.
There was a flurry of shock and excitement before the matter was formally settled and Caesaera and mother slipped through the curtain to join the banquet. Queen Exina finished speaking with the Council before they too left.
I followed Aurora and Marion to the hall where the Houses had chosen to dine during their reunion. It was a much smaller room than the banquet hall and not very lavishly decorated, but it was a nice space, enough to seat the Nine Houses of ESRAI and their “reunion”. Before we entered I listened in on the snippets of conversations I could hear from outside and identified Reon Cieonna telling Fallarbor Warni a joke. Eliam Winchester, Silence Winds, Laurel Slyph and Iyn Tamari Winski in her draconic form were cleaning up a ma-jong game.
“See, it’s not fair whenever Silence plays because she can tell who’s going to win twenty years before we start.” Iyn was saying—by the sound of her voice she was in her draconic form.
“Knowing who wins isn’t the same as actually winning,” Eliam said.
But when I stepped in, the room was suddenly quiet and all the Houses aside from Aurora and Marion were seated. They too sat, and offered me a seat on the end of the table, across from the accepted head of conferences.
“Welcome,” Kaelin Alder said when I too had sat, “Lady Archangel.”
Artist's Note: Hi! Long post this week, but I actually wrote all of it this week. A lot was added/ changed as I typed it up.
Anyways, this probably doesn't make a lot of sense to anyone. I tried to at least add in a few characters that would be recognizable though. xP
OH! I've got a personal blog