Curtains; L.B- The Unknown Writer
Another random story. I hope its better than the one before. R&R! It gives hope. . .
Disclaimer: It's all for Sherwood Smith!!
The sun rose warmly six months after Vidanric and I destroyed Flauvic Merindar in a duel to the death. After the Court had awaken, we immediately set out to refurbishing and ridding Athanarel of the last traces of the Merindars. It has been six months, and we've started to refurbish the Palace with new decor, for the coronation was to take place within a month. Nimiar and Branaric were married midsummer amid a great celebration. After, they withdrew to Tlanth, leaving me and Vidanric to move on with our lives. I was so eager, for there was so many things that needed to be done, that I was the one who gave Vidanric the idea to start the refurbishing of the Palace for the coronation.
I sat there at the window, tugging at my hair in lost thought. It had been raining outside, so the Court was stuck inside, doing this or that. A few minutes ago, I heard an unguarded scream, a few low curses, and then a slap and the thudding of footsteps scurrying away quickly with a muffled word. I knew that I wasn't the only one who longed to be out of here. I continued to stare out of the window of my rooms at the stream lined with trees. Suddenly, there was a noise in my parlor and then the sound of footsteps. I froze upon instinct and then relaxed when I felt a familiar hand on my shoulder.
"And, what dare I ask, are you doing here?" Vidanric said, taking stand near the window seat that I was sitting on. "Aren't you supposed to be in the Heraldry Archive managing the distribution of the Merindar Records? Or are you just putting that off so you could dally for a while and load stress over me like rocks?" I laughed, causing him to grin.
"Oh, yes I was. I planned to keep all of my duties at bay so I could load it off on you. I am so vain." My reward for my sardonic humor was was a soft laugh that I had come to love.
"Well, as the near King, that will not be accepted. You are to be working, Lady or not." He said this lightly, indicating a retorting joke, but there was a subtle undertone that indicated that he meant it. I frowned, and then smiled up at him.
"Alright," I said. "I didn't do my duties because of the rain. Not because I wanted to kill you with small worries. Now, I'm going." I said that arrogantly, waving my hand in his face. I suppressed a small smile when I saw his face aghast. I continued to walk to the doors until he caught my hand and whirled me around into his arms. I laughed when I saw his face turn stern with worry that he offended me.
I laughed again. "I'm kidding! I'm coming with you. Weren't you supposed to be with the cloth merchants? Making deals for the new tapestries and swags and all the other cloth items for your coronation? And you mock me with duties!" I exclaimed with another laugh, leading the way out of the door.
We stepped out into the hall, where servants and hired workers were already scurrying around. I waved to other members of the Court, who were milling around in pairs, commenting quietly at the various cloth's and pieces of furniture that were being moved in or brought out to the outer storage houses.
I felt a hand snake around my waist, and I tilted my head up at Vidanric, smiling. To my question he said, "It seems that someone had already taken care of that. When I came to receive the merchants, I found all of the deeds done and signed, along with a note from the most famous fabricator in all of Saratorias-deles." He hesitated, not saying the name. I looked up at him, eyes wide.
"You don't mean. . ."
"Yes, I mean."
Vidanric seemed to tense just slightly when I said the name, like he was shaken by a bad memory, but I dismissed the thought when he smiled back at me. "Yes. Mistress Lunday agreed to bedeck the Palace full, with no cost or trouble."
I gaped at him. "H-How?" I stared at him, mind blown. During my readings and dealings with the booksellers of Remalna a year past, I had learned of many famous personages of their time. Ones that caught my eye were the most renown fabricators of their time. There was one specific one that existed now. She was Nuvausa Lunday, a Master fabricator that was trained in the dark arts of Fabrication in the secret Court of Mearned. After the Court had been destroyed by a tear between the two ruling families, she had fled with the frantic subjects of Mearned and sailed to Marloven Hesa. There, she'd settled and was anointed as a minor upholsterer for the lower ranks in the Marloven Court. Her work with the lesser ranks was so surreal and intricate, as was her background, that it caught the eye of the Marloven King, Senrid. He had called for her and she was then anointed as the head Fabricator.
In the meantime, Queen Yustnesveas Landis had sent out Journey Mages, almost like missionaries, to lead young want-to-be Mages into the arts of White Magic. She had sent a missionary named Amphiora to the Marloven Court where she met Nuvausa, who was only fifteen years old. They became fast friends, and Amphoria started to mention her in her letters to Yustnesveas. The Queen took interest and when she called for Amphiora to come back two years later, she told her to take Nuvausa with her. She agreed and when Nuvausa was presented in Court, with her background and workings, the Queen appointed her as Master Fabricator of Sartor. Until this day, she is the finest in the World.
"I have no idea," Vidanric said, answering my question. "I just read the note, written by her own hand for the signature was the same, and just knew. Alright. Directly it said," he stopped and took out a piece of folded linen paper, one that was as expensive as a diamond necklace. He handed me the letter and I read,
For the Sun of Remalna, I have to announce to you that I must have the honor of bedecking splendor onto the great Inter-City of Athanarel. I must also announce that I am seeing fit that you, my Sire and long time friend, shall receive my best condolences and happiness along with my services. In keeping, the Court shall receive treatment from my own personal staff at no cost to you or anyone. As my best wishes for your coronation and your trans-passage into Kinghood. Please have rooms ready for about say a staff of a gross and that they need not be your best. I am being generous! Please send our best wishes to Her Lady that I've heard is in your favor. I plan to meet her at once.
Regards from Sartor, the Queen, and my serving staff and myself,
I gasped at the letter and handed it back to him. "She is indeed kind," I said with uncertainty. "But why? It said in the letter, ". . .my Sire and long time friend." Do you know each other?" He only smiled but didn't respond and I thought I felt him stiffen, but that could have just been my uncertainty. "When does she arrive?"
He looked at me, his eyes narrowing in humor. "The letter arrived two days before, as it seems. She shall actually be arriving here herself in the evening." I gasped at him and then turned back to where I was walking to. One thought irked at my mind; Why didn't he tell me before?
We continued walking, into one of the lesser dining halls I found out, without conversation. We passed servants, with pure blank faces that I haven't seen before, and into the dining hall.
"Wait," I whispered, breaking the silence between us. "I know I haven't seen any of these servants before. Are they new?"
Vidanric didn't look at me when he said, "No, I don't think you have. Or you shouldn't have. They are the Fabricators staff. They always arrive before she does. To prepare." I nodded.
"And why the dining room now?"
He looked down at me, smiling again at my avid questioning. "I was sent a message from someone asking me to bring you and myself into this dining hall. Probably to bade thanks." I tilted my head and then we were finally into the dining hall. The footman waiting at the door smiled to us in welcome; I had not seen him before.
"My lord," he said, his warm brown face breaking into a smile. "You have finally arrived. She has been waiting and I do believe that her temper is not in our favor." Vidanric smiled quizzically, not knowing what he meant.
"Her?" he asked politely as the footman led them to the wall of windows at the dining room. There, the Fabricators staff was busily tearing down panels and flags that were Galdran's glory. There, midst the scurrying of white uniforms, a tall and imposing figure stood there, her hands clasped behind her back as she watched them, signaling for this and that.
"Yes, she is waiting," he footman said as he stopped Vidanric and me and went up to the woman and exchanged a few quite words. The woman nodded in approval, but I still couldn't see her face. I felt Vidanric stiffen just slightly. The footman returned and smiled. "She will see you now." He gestured to the woman, who's back was still turned.
We walked forward and I heard Vidanric take a deep breath when we reached her. "My lady." The woman turned around and I caught a expression of a hard face, dark blue and brown eyes, winged brows of black, short black hair, straight nose, and a wild mouth. The woman's face was polite, but her eyes hinted surprise.
Suddenly, her face changed as she exclaimed, "Vidanric Renselaeus! Is that you? Heavens, you have changed!" I looked up at Vidanric and found him stiff, his face a forced smile. But his eyes hinted something else. It was only his eyes that he couldn't guard, keep away from me, and it gave him away now.
"My Lady Nuvausa Lunday. It is an honor to see you again," Vidanric said as he swept a low bow. This was the Fabricator. I frantically swept one after Vidanric. The Fabricator turned to me, her face merry, but her eyes lost their excitement. Vidanric smiled.
"Permit me to introduce Lady Meliara Astiar, former Countess of Tlanth." The Fabricator nodded, and smiled at me, her face reserved. I held out my hand and she hesitated, taking it awkwardly. I looked at her, brow faintly raised. She frowned and then laughed.
"Lady Meliara, please forgive me if this seems awkward. I do believe, even through my extensive years at Court, I do not seem to know how to receive a proper welcome. Forgive me." She put her hand over her heart generously. I nodded my acceptance and then she straightened.
"My lady, have you received any refreshment?" Vidanric asked, his voice neutral, but it rose just slightly with emotion. The Fabricator smiled at us both.
"I've only arrived, thank you. I'd not like to pester you, so I'll wait for nourishment." Vidanric nodded.
"As you wish, my lady." Normally I would have persisted a guest to nourish themselves, and normally a guest would ask for nourishment, but it seemed that this lady was different. And Vidanric knew not to ask anymore. "Then, I'll show you to your rooms and we'll all dine together at dinner."
The Fabricator put up an hand. "No need. I already have been shown and you need not worry yourselves. I must supervise the cleaning." Vidanric nodded.
"As you wish." I was getting slightly annoyed by Vidanric's lack of persistance.
"It is an honor that you've put yourself in all this trouble to bedeck the Palace, my lady," I chimed in, hoping for a smile and tone that pleased her. Although she was slightly irritating, I did not want to displease her.
She laughed. "Lady Meliara, please, call me Nuvausa. Nuvau for short, if you will. And, it is no trouble at all. I know I owe Vidanric back from a wager we had years ago at Marloven Hesa." Now she was looking at Vidanric, eyes narrowed in mirth. "What a wager it was! I lost, unfortunately, and never payed him back. Until now, that is. Other than that, my dear, I am honored to bedeck Athanarel with glory. A glory it is!"
I smiled. "Thank you, Nuvau. Will you please join us for dinner?" I asked, waving my hands artfully as I've seen Tamara do in front of Savona. Nuvau smiled.
"I will be honored." With that and a nod and a quiet word, she left, taken up by a small trope of servants carrying length's of crisp and new white curtains.
I turned to leave, dragging Vidanric along with me as he watched with fascination. Something was wrong, and I needed to know what it was.
". . .you could have said!" I yelled, turning my back to him.
"How could I? You'd never understand."
"Never understand what? I have not been an understandable person all my life, and I think that I could understand you! Tell me. Now." I was raged with fury. After our visit with Nuvau, I had somehow lost my temper and flailed into the hall, cursing and causing passersby to watch us. Vidanric, uneasy with another emotion, also lost his temper. More subtly, though. He had dragged me into my rooms, bade Mora to keep all doors locked, and sat me down in my parlor so we could let out our temper alone.
"Tell you what? Excuse my slowness, but I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Don't tell me that I don't know. The word play. The stiffening. The rising of voice. All the signs were there," I declared indignantly. He stared at me, confused.
"What are you talking about? Mel, we'll never get anywhere if you keep ranting like this. Please, answer this question and I'll tell you everything. What are you talking about?" He put his hands on my shoulders and stared into my face, his expression that of a confused child. I sighed and stared at him.
"Why did you look at Nuvau like that? I mean, you seemed as if you were. . .were besotted or something." I blushed furiously at the awkwardness of my statement. He sighed and looked down, face guilty. He had been using less of his Court mask around me.
After an uncomfortable silence, he spoke. "Mel, there is something you need to know about Nuvau and me. Something I have to tell you." I nodded, encouraging him to go on. "When I was sent away to training in Marloven Hesa, when I was fifteen, I was foolish. I had met Nuvausa in a hall and we became great friends. Very great friends. Not flirts, or even intimates, but great friends. Later, a year before I left for home, to Remalna, I realized that my admiration for her was more than I wanted. Mel, we are not lovers. What you saw was some of my old emotions rising again."
I stared at him, my heart swelling with love for he said that with honesty. Or that's what I thought. I smiled at him and he smiled back, seeming relieved. In the distance, the bells rang First Blue. Suddenly, he got up and rose, taking me with him.
"We must dress for dinner. Let us forget our quarrel and let us enjoy Lady Nuvau's company. Can you do that for me?" he asked, brows raised. I grinned at him and nodded. He gave me a responding grin and left, leaving me alone to dress.
I ran into my dressing room and bade Mora to come.
"I need to find something that would please and attract the eye of the Fabricator," I said digging through my wardrobe. Compared to what the Fabricator brought, I knew my gowns paled in comparison. Mora froze when I said, "Fabricator".
"The Fabricator?" she said, her face flushed with delight. "My, she is our idol! Heavens!" I grinned at Mora's reaction, for I'd never seen her mask gone. "My! My! My! My lady, you need something so wondrous! Goodness!"
I laughed. "Mora! Calm yourself!" Mora flushed and then stopped, her mask recomposing. "Please, help me find something!"
At once, Mora snapped her fingers three times, like a code, and then a small trope of maidservants scurried in and into the wardrobe. Mora smiled. "Ready for the gowning."
The gown they chose for me was beautiful. It was one of the newer gowns that I'd received after Nee and Bran's wedding. It was a long gown, made in a shade of pale green. The bodice was beaded and sequined in silvery gold and diamonds and small emeralds. The half-arms were fringed with silver lace, as was the neck. The skirt was made of a blue green, silk paisley, embroidered with moss gems and small crystals. The hem was done exquisitely with white lace fringed with glass beads of clear, green, blue, and red; for the shade of my hair and to pay respect to Nuvau's colors. My hair was let free and pinned up with combs until it reached only my waist and the rest piled on top of my head.
I twirled around on Mora's command and the skirts loosened. "Ready!"
"Oh, indeed you are. Now," Mora said, grinning like a girl, "you make sure to ask questions to the Fabricator of the latest fabrics and gown cuts. You shall mention them to me after!" I smiled.
"I will." I truly would, and only to Mora, for she'd became a mother to me. I walked out to the hall and to the Residence steps where I knew Vidanric would be waiting for me.
Chapter One is finished! I hope its not to out of character. . . Review if you want. Reviews are the only thing that'll keep me writing. :-) I want to finish it!!