(Continuation of story that started on June 28th.)
Mum and dad had said that there would be an important gathering that evening and Violyn and I were to attend with them. Never before had they asked Violyn to attend and my little sister was absolutely thrilled. It had been about four years since I started attending these meetings, announcements and gatherings. I was seven then. Violyn turned seven last week.
“Shh…you have to stop jumping, Vy!” I whispered urgently under my breath as the pretty red-head skipped ahead. She slowed down and turned around at the sound of my voice.
“Aww come on, sis! It’s never gonna be a first time again!” she pouted, her wisdom sounding a little out-of-place under her lopsided tiara.
“Oh, alright!” I said, taking her little hand in mine, “Just this once.” We broke into a run, giggling, tripping over our evening gowns, wondering, if a little apprehensively, about what Dad would say if he saw us right then.
The lights were dim in the Glass Hall; mum had told us that the Faerfolk used the stars for protection and so, the stars had to be visible from every part of the castle. Transparent Elven curtains kept it warm inside.
The Elvenfolk and Faerfolk had been our allies for nearly four centuries. It was an alliance feared by all. Even the Night-Bearers kept their distance.
Violyn was to sit beside me on the large circular glass table in the middle which occupied a large part of the room. Mum and dad would sit directly opposite us. We were to stay silent, try to follow and never interrupt.
Mum and Dad walked into the room arm in arm, whispering in gentle undertones about something to do with… salmon, was it? No, it was unlikely that the King and the Queen would be discussing fish at the conference table!
“Mum! Dad! Where is everyone else?” Violyn asked in a very loud whisper that echoed off the walls and glass ceiling.
“Any moment now, dear.” Dad looked a little tired but lit up at the sound of his daughter’s voice, “You look beautiful in that tiara Violyn. Why don’t you sit with your sister over there?”
“It would be wonderful if you could reserve your questions to your notepad,” mum added as an afterthought, “Maybe you could answer them for her?” she shifted her gaze towards me.
“Yeah, sure.” I said mildly, not particularly sure why I sounded so timid or why I couldn’t be a fiery-cheery storm like my sister.
I helped Vy into her chair and shuffled into mine and spotted Estiya, the representative of the Faerfolk, glide into the room, followed closely by Enduard, the Elven prince.
Soon, as we waited patiently at the table (Violyn squeezed my hand and immensely complimented Estiya’s dress in a not-too-quiet whisper. Estiya grinned over at us, clearly pleased.) the seats filled in. Enduard sat in the chair next to mine. Estiya took the one beside him.
Twelve for a “Just Council”, it was said. Vy made thirteen.
The council began. King Elissir wished his guests a hearty welcome on behalf of the whole family. As he spoke, he waved towards Mum and then vaguely in our direction. Violyn, perhaps for the first time in her life, blushed shyly.
Further introductions were unnecessary. The council was old and a familiar one. Conversation flowed from the weather, to trade contracts, to border defense lines; and I wondered, determined not to look sleepy, if grown-ups ever had any fun.
At some point of time, the conversation slid into an exchange of letters and trade offers.
Estiya’s voice broke through the reverie, “…would definitely not be considered an option. They are living beings. There is no-”
“It is absolutely necessary,” Enduard cut her off, “that we endeavour to make peace with the Night-Bearers.How long do you think we might hold them off?” Estiya looked offended.
“Let it be clear that no living being in the kingdom shall be forced against their will to travel to the Night-Lands, let alone as a ‘peace offering’. What in the name of-”
Enduard sprang up from his seat and slammed an envelope down on the table. His jaw tight and his words curt. “These are my terms.”
Estiya looked furious. Queen Lewyne’s eyes hardened as the King reached out for the envelope.
“Duck.” Violyn’s voice rang out quiet and clear beside me. All our training together had made it only a second nature to heed to a direct command such as this one.
There was a flash of bright white and the envelope crumbled into dark violet glitter. The shade of violet was clear symbol of the Night-Bearers. Glitter, ironically, is usually what was left of deadly poison when it burned. Strategy classes had taught us well.
The stillness was unbearable. The entire council was frozen in various positions of evacuation, staring disbelievingly at the pile of glitter on the table.
I felt Violyn’s hand squeeze mine and realized that I was holding on to hers for dear life. I squeezed it back and turned to catch her eye in a sign of reassurance. Then I froze.
Violyn’s eyes glowed a queer stormy gray, like the sky after the lightning strikes.
“I should have told you, I’m sorry.” she whispered.
T. E. Pyrus