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|Return of the mature content, friends. If you haven't figured this out, this IS a love story. Some mature content comes with the turf. So, yea, the conclusion of the happy-law-visiting day, and then a bit more besides, including some interesting insights into Vistalt's past and something of a revelation about another character... Go read! Uploaded: 11/26/05||
Trirt looks significantly worse for the wear after his encounter with Gaujahv. The normally easy-going little translator is visibly upset, and it seems the vast majority of what he’s feeling right about now is pure and simple anger. I understand how he could feel that way. As they approach me, some of the tension goes out of Trirt’s face, but the smile he gives me is tense, and I doubt he would have even bothered if he hadn’t been trained since birth to be polite, much like me. He stops and bows to me. “Ati has very recently reminded me that we made a commitment to assist in a diplomatic meeting back at the mansion. If you would like to stay, we will part here, but if you are prepared to leave, then we would join you in making all haste.”
Something tells me that, while there is undoubtedly a diplomatic meeting, Ati and Trirt aren’t required to even eavesdrop on it, much less participate, but it does provide a very convenient escape route from an annoying and overbearing Head of the Second Order of Lawmakers. I glance to Vistalt, who shrugs in such a way that reminds me what awaits at the mansion. I smile at Trirt. “I believe we are both ready to venture back with you.”
Trirt nods, and in one very brisk whirlwind of activity, we are shown out of the building by a full contingent of lawmakers. The horses shy and prance as we attempt to mount, frightened by the large number of strange men. While the lawmakers are deferent and humble before Ati and Trirt, they completely ignore Vistalt and me. Trirt maintains a blank face as he translates back and forth, although from the extremely prevalent glimmer of humor in Vistalt’s eyes, I can tell that Trirt is not exactly telling Ati what the lawmakers say, and the lawmakers aren’t quite getting Ati’s real answers. What is spoken in Mirstatian must lack any form of even basic decency if Vistalt is that amused, but Trirt maintains the pretense of perfect calm and friendship at all times, never revealing the more treasonous nature of his actual conversation. I believe the diplomat of the pair is Trirt, for all Ati’s standing and rank.
We finally manage to escape the lawmakers, but only after Trirt politely insists four times that they really must leave immediately or risk being late for the meeting they are to attend. After we finally escape them, we ride in silence for a short while, as if the vileness of the lawmakers still looms over us and we want to be sure we are clear of them before we chance any speech.
It’s Trirt who finally ventures to talk. “Now, I know they told me, but somehow I didn’t quite catch it. Who, exactly, were those…people?”
I sigh. “Lawmakers. Pointless, but highly ranked and they know it, and they make sure everyone else does too.”
Trirt nods. “I thought it must have been something like that. He was far too arrogant to have a functional role.” And he turns to Ati to share this latest bit of information.
Conversation gradually picks back up as Vistalt casually asks Trirt what the Mirstatians are really doing this afternoon, which elicits a laugh from everyone and serves nicely to break the tension that has been hanging in the air. It turns out they’re planning to spend a quiet afternoon in the gardens with several of the other Mirstatians. Trirt mentions they are hoping to compare initial reactions to the mansion, and to share particularly harrowing experiences.
I laugh at this. “I certainly hope that you won’t judge us too harshly based upon Lawmaker Gaujahv.”
Trirt laughs and relates something to Ati. The dancer’s prompt response makes Trirt’s cheeks color slightly. I ponder for a moment whether or not I really want to know what happened in that exchange, but Vistalt saves me the choice. Guiding Ayd’jian fairly close to Neeci, he whispers to me, “Ati asked Trirt how they could look down upon a country that such a beautiful woman as you calls home.”
I think Trirt’s blush is catching, because I feel it spreading in my cheeks. Trirt’s lively eye, which seems to see the majority of what occurs around him, easily picks up on the exchange between the duke and me as well as the ensuing sudden ruddiness of my complexion. A smile forms on his lips, and he glances at Vistalt. “And yourselves? Do you have any plans for the afternoon?”
The implication that is only slightly masked within the question causes my cheeks to burn even more. While I’m grateful that Trirt doesn’t suspect Vistalt to know Mirstatian, I also wish that the translator wouldn’t have any notions, false or truthful, about what Vistalt and I do behind closed doors. He’s in a position of extreme power here, whether or not he acknowledges or even realizes it, and if he lets the wrong word slip, I could find myself staring up at an executioner.
As always, Vistalt steps in smoothly to cover my pause. “I haven’t had any time as of late to pursue any new pleasure reading. The lady mentioned to me that she had read several good novels in my absence, and I had asked her if she would assist me in getting lost in the library among them. I believe she mistook my meaning.”
Trirt’s face changes slightly, and I would almost read the minute settling of his brow as disappointment, but I can’t fathom why he would be disappointed. Despite this odd variance, he continues to grin as he responds, “Perhaps you intended her to.” I glance at Vistalt, who clearly is thinking much along the same lines as me, and about to inform Trirt of it. However, Shiditch vakLoweve beats him to it and flaps his hand soothingly at Vistalt. “It doesn’t matter, my friend. Your bedroom is your bedroom, and no one will ever speak to me about it successfully. Such matters aren’t earnestly discussed in our home. Whenever a man is teased about being with a woman, the typical response is for the man to begin commending all the woman’s best features. Women are expected to be a bit more restrained, but not much. You must pardon me if sometimes I forget that we are no longer in Mirstat.”
Vistalt grins slightly in response. “Now that you mention it, I do seem to remember that happening in Mirstat.”
This turns Trirt’s head very fast. “You’ve been there?”
Vistalt shrugs. “I knew someone who knew both languages. I enjoyed the time I spent there immensely, although I did miss the milder tastes of the foods in Keterinin.”
The translator is visibly relieved, as if Vistalt knowing the Mirstatian required to get himself around the country during his stay would somehow be a terrible thing. “Well, I’m glad that you enjoyed yourself.”
The conversation slacks off once more as we enter the Shadow District. It has a certain oppressive dread to it that is inescapable, and none of us are yet recovered enough from our encounter with the lawmakers to attempt to overcome the seeming viscosity of the air. The trip through the Hidden District takes too little time for conversation to be worth the effort, and then the chore of forging through the crowds at the gate to Terykson’s Wall consumes the rest of our patience. We arrive at the stables and exchange brief farewells, then separate. Vistalt and I see all four horses into the able hands of the stable boys. A large man claims Ayd’jian, and I assume he is one of the less skittish stable workers that Fyleep told me of. He still gives the horse more room than is necessary, but at least he is able to behave normally around the stallion.
Once they are all out of earshot, Vistalt turns to me and smiles a tired smile. “Well, my dear, shall we retire?”
I nod emphatically and collect the arm he offers me. The walk back to his rooms is somewhat long, but we don’t run into anyone we know, so it is thankfully not made any longer than it needs to be. Once inside his room, I go straight to the bed, kick off my shoes, remove the evil and pointless vest-coat thing, and assume a comfortable position curled up on my side. To be quite honest, I’m not sure where Vistalt is in the room or what he’s doing, but I don’t really care either. He’ll make it to the bed eventually.
No sooner have I formed this thought than I hear him in my ear, “You know, if I was a bad man, you’d be in trouble right now.”
I grin sleepily. “If you were a bad man, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
I can almost see his face as he ponders that statement. “I suppose that’s true.” I can feel where he sits on the edge of the bed, and I hear him removing his boots. Then the weight distribution changes and he is once again talking somewhere near the vicinity of my head. “You don’t have to move at all, but I thought I’d let you know I’m about to crawl over you.”
I smile, but don’t open my eyes. “I wouldn’t move even if you hadn’t warned me.”
He chuckles. “Typical, I had to pick the obstinate woman.” He then proceeds to do exactly what he told me he was going to do: crawl over me.
I sigh contentedly as I feel his warmth settle next to and around me. One of his arms drapes almost protectively over me, his fingers working in the slow, circular motions of a good massage. “You do realize I’m already half-asleep, don’t you?”
“That does seem to be rather evident.”
“So then I must infer that you are attempting to complete the job a full day outdoors started.”
He chuckles. “Only you would use big words when you’re half unconscious. And what if I am trying to get you asleep? What then, love?”
I shrug as best I can while lying on my side. “Then I suppose I shall just have to succumb to the enticing allure of a nap, especially if that’s what you want me to do.”
“Ah, but you never know what I could do while you’re asleep.” I can hear the way he’s grinning in his tone, and it sends shivers up and down my spine.
“Once again, Vistalt, you simply can’t scare me.”
“Oh?” Now, I must mention that his fingers have been working their little massage magic slowly down my back. So at this point he ceases this motion, tugs my blouse so it comes un-tucked, and slides his hand underneath the cloth to rest on my lower back.
Well, there will be no sleeping now.
My eyes are wide open and feel like they’re stuck that way. Any fatigue I was experiencing has simply left me in favor of some other more interested host. Every nerve in my skin is thrumming. The few spots that actually are touching his skin literally tingle because my entire brain is focused solely on them and the wish that the currently small percentage of my skin he’s in contact with will miraculously increase.
He has watched my reaction, and seems to be rather amused. “I see I finally have procured your interest.”
Oh, I’m so glad I finally opened my eyes. Vistalt in super-seducer mode is a sight to behold indeed. His eyes are ever-so-slightly narrowed, and the just the corner of his mouth is tugged upwards in a grin that is misty and dangerous all at the same time. An almost imperceptible flush is creeping into his cheeks. Everything about him looks gentle and inviting, just begging me to succumb to his tempting ways.
Trust me, I’m fighting it, but it would appear I’m losing.
A sarcastic quip is the only response my strained little mind can provide, and before I can weigh the full repercussions of what it’s telling me to say, I just blurt out, “Now the only question is whether or not you can keep it.”
He lofts an eyebrow, and I know immediately that I should have at least attempted to control my impulse. “Was that a slip, or an invitation?”
I know what I’m supposed to say. I’m supposed to tell him that it was just a joke and that I’m not thinking clearly. However, my body has different ideas. Some part of me that craves this type of physical attention and has laid dormant all my nineteen years is suddenly awake. It takes over now, and I melt a little more into his arms. “A little of both, I suppose.” My mind retains just enough control to add, “A bit more of a slip, I think.”
He smiles, and I can see in his eyes that he knows exactly the kind of struggle I’m having inside. He gently kisses my forehead, and rests his hand on my side, so that just a finger or two are underneath my shirt. While my mind is still racing in circles around those minor spots of contact, it’s no longer at a frenzied pace. “I’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, Siris, and the only thing I’ve learned from it is that there’s a time and a place to ponder things deeply. I believe every person must decide when that time and place is correct, and when it isn’t.”
“So are you trying to tell me I’m overanalyzing this?”
“No, I’m trying to provide you with an easier decision. Do you want your mind to rule this choice, or do you want to just let what happens happen?”
“That’s not an easier decision at all,” I grumble.
He chuckles. “Well, nothing pertaining to this subject ever is simplistic when you’re among moral people. Some choices are more straightforward than others, however.”
“Apparently not for me.”
A slight shrug is his only response as he closes his eyes. “A nap sounds like a good plan to me right now.”
I close my eyes as well, gently nestled against him. However, a thought needles my consciousness rather abruptly and persistently, refusing to let me be until I address it. Finally, I succumb and ask lazily, “How long do we have until dinner?”
He shifts a little as he raises his head to peer at the time candle. “Two hours.”
I roll over quickly and stare at the candle, then in relief release the breath I was holding. “Try three, sweet. Dinner starts at six.”
“Five. Formal introductions are tonight, and an announcement came to my room just before I left for the ride this morning to tell me such.”
I sigh, slightly annoyed at the political nonsense that has just stolen an hour with my courtee from me. “All this pomp and state. They should just send criers running through the halls. It would be much more efficient.” I slowly disengage myself from his embrace, not wanting to leave but knowing that I must. “Riaon is probably going mad wondering where I am. I should have been in my bath five minutes ago.”
His quick arm catches me once more as I’m about to stand up, and he expertly swoops me backwards from my sitting position into a sort of dip. I’m leaning backwards, practically resting on his knees since he’s kneeling on the bed, completely supported by his arms around me. His lips find mine, and we enjoy a moment lost in each other’s taste before my detestable sense of duty once again prickles at my mind and reminds me I must leave now.
He seems to sense my thought process, however involuntary it may be, and relinquishes my mouth, although he still holds me in the dip position. “Are we spending tonight together?”
My heart skips a beat and then accelerates, but I manage to smoothly respond, “How do you mean?”
He seems amused that I found a double meaning in that. “Like we typically do. I don’t sleep as well anymore without you curled up on me.”
I can almost feel my mind relax now that I’m not faced with reasoning my way out of more dangerous actions. “Of course, but let’s stay here tonight so we don’t have to worry about the pillows and blankets on the floor. I’ll just stop by my room to change first.”
He grins. “Do you require assistance?”
I reach up and tweak his nose. “It’s bad enough I could get caught walking through the halls wearing a nightdress. If I’m alone, I can pretend I’m sleepwalking. If you’re with me, there will be no way to explain it away. No, I’ll change alone tonight.”
Only someone who knows his facial expressions as well as I do would see the miniscule amount of disappointment that creeps into his face, but it’s also clear that he understands the logic behind my plan. “Have it your way then,” he teases. With one more quick kiss, he sets me upright and releases me.
I make a quick stop at the mirror near the door on my way out to ensure that it doesn’t look like I just spent a good deal of time in a bed with and getting swung around by a man. After tucking a few curls back into their pins, I blow a kiss to Vistalt, who is reclining on the bed. The sight of him almost makes me run over and climb back in next to him, but my duty has me firmly in hand now, and is getting considerably more urgent the longer I stay.
Riaon chastises me slightly while we work together to make up for the fifteen minutes we’ve lost. This may not seem like much, but one much consider that a bath takes a full half hour with hair as long and difficult as mine, and then the hair must be dried, set, I must be dressed, which in-and-of-itself takes close to three-quarters of an hour, and make-up must be applied. Thankfully, Riaon has selected all my jewelry and attire while she waited for me, so that won’t be an issue.
Typically, I bathe alone, but I know that if I’m late, Riaon is just as likely to be blamed as I am, so we need to make up some time or she could lose her position. Tonight, Riaon washes my hair while I use scented soaps to remove and cover up any last traces of horse-scent that might remain from today. We work together to dry my hair. Every wardrobe is equipped with a vent that leads from the chimney of the adjoining bedroom. The air that comes out is smoky but warm, and it rushes out of the vent when the cover of the vent is removed. This only works in summer, because in winter the air going up the chimney cools so fast that it has little heat left in it by the time it reaches the vent. We hold lengths of hair in front of the vent, and the hot air blows out the water. It leaves my hair smelling like I was just at a bonfire, however, which is why all the oils and setting gels that are used in women’s hair are so strongly scented.
It typically takes 25 minutes to dry my hair, so we just get it to the stage where it’s tolerably damp and move on to the chore of getting me dressed. Riaon would usually set my hair first, but we’re hoping my hair will air-dry slightly while we get me into my clothes. Once I’m finally dressed, Riaon sets my still-damp and very uncooperative hair while I do my make-up.
Miraculously, I make it out the door on time. As I’ve said many times, it’s a marvel Riaon stays with me sometimes. But, without her I’d probably have been removed from court almost as soon as I arrived here, and I’m more grateful for her than she’ll ever know. She’s probably just happy she managed to find one of the only mistresses in the entire realm that’s smart enough to know when her maid is technically not performing her duties, but is relaxed enough to not care, and even to encourage this laxness at times. I know Riaon will always be there when I need her, and she knows that I will always let her go if something pressing arises. It’s a nice arrangement. It will be a sad day indeed if she ever decides she’d like to find another mistress, or even if she’d like to simply retire from the occupation of a maid.
The introductions are just about the most boring thing I’ve ever been forced to sit through in my life, and that’s saying something indeed considering I sat through an etiquette class two hours a day every other day for five years. Duamo raThulstret stands next to the king and calls forth a seemingly endless parade of people, introducing them by title, then name, then holdings. The wives carry titles and are introduced after their husbands and before the holding name. Although I’m paying very little attention, I do happen to notice one couple where the woman is introduced before the man. I ask Vistalt, who has of course seated himself next to me, about it, wondering if it was simply a slip. He explains that the woman was in the same situation as I currently am; she was the heiress, and the man took the masculine form of her title when he married her. He mentions that the woman’s family is relatively powerful one, renowned throughout Mirstat for their lack of male heirs. The man she married was most likely title-less or at the most had a title that was considerably lower than hers in the hierarchy system.
Duamo raThulstret introduces all of the “loyal” nobles, which are all the ones who live at court and follow the king, first, and then introduces Trirt and Ati to handle the formalities with the people of the free tribes. I don’t think I’d realized until this point that Ati and Trirt are from the same tribe, or that Ati really was to be the next headsman of his tribe. Ati plays the part of mighty aloof noble, never saying a word while he allows Trirt to introduce everyone. I can see the ploy right through, since I’ve come to know him at least better than that. He’s setting up a distance from our nobles so that they will be wary of him, and listen when he actually deems to speak. Everyone here who must play a part in the diplomatic maneuvering of these peace talks know that the three nobles Mirstat chooses to leave behind are left behind for a distinct reason. They have a built-in respect for the Mirstatian diplomats, but as the supposed savage, Ati merits a bit less reverence currently, even though he represents a full third of Mirstat’s interests here. Ati needs any edge over our diplomats he can get, and he knows how to obtain that.
It’s easy to pick out the free tribesmen, even as they begin to mingle with the other Mirstatians. While all of them wear bright colors, the shades donned by the free people are almost eye-hurting, and fall to all ends of the spectrum rather than the comparably subdued range of the loyals. Also, all of the free women wear wide-legged pants and blouses. This hasn’t yet caused much of a stir, because from far enough away the pants look much like skirts, and the ensemble can somewhat pass as a multi-colored dress. However, once the Mirstatians and Shesnans begin to intersperse, I have no doubt whatsoever that there will be vast amounts of disapproval at these women’s attire.
Finally the introductions are concluded with the introduction of all fifteen translators. I can’t help but notice that eleven of them are free tribesmen, who are by our standards uncivilized. It makes me wonder why the “uncivilized” ones appear to be the more intelligent ones.
There is a great swarm of color as the Mirstatians, finally dismissed to find seats, move towards the rows of tables. The translators are assigned seats and are the first to claim their places as the rest of the Mirstatians mill about trying to decide where to station themselves tonight. The ones seated in the red row have the least amount of trouble; they simply settle down with their friends. The ones in our row, however, are faced with the desire to be at tables with new people tonight, and yet the inexplicable wariness of eating with strangers, even if the strangers can’t understand them. Our table is the first to fill up as passers-by realize who is seated there and quickly slide into the seats before others can take them. It amuses me to see that we have an entirely different collection of foreigners to dine with this evening. Tonight’s audience of awed Mirstatians is all of the middle-aged variety, a strong contrast to last-night’s bunch of chatty young men and women. I glance around to see how the other tables are fairing, and can’t help but grin when I see the somewhat disgruntled looks of those sliding into places at tables with translators. They know they will now be required to speak with their hosts via the translator, and no one, Shesnan or Mirstatian, is much looking forward to the obligation. Conversation picks up much more quickly tonight in comparison to last night because everyone has already established a certain comfort level with the idea that there really isn’t anyone in our court who can speak both languages.
Little do they know.
Near the end of the meal, Vistalt, who has been an avid listener but said very little the whole night, leans over to me and whispers, “The lady in the middle there, the free tribeswoman?”
I glance her way out of the corner of my eyes as I dab my mouth with a napkin. “What about her?” I respond. She’s very handsome, though I wouldn’t say she’s pretty. Her face has strong lines, a sharply cut but still somehow feminine nose, and high cheekbones. Small wrinkles lace her face, but don’t really seem to age her so much as make her appear wiser.
“She’s Ati’s aunt. She’s married to the headsman of a neighboring tribe.”
I can’t help but take another glance at her, and now that he mentions it, I can see a vague familial resemblance. “He didn’t mention having any family here.”
Vistalt shrugs. “Within the tribes, everyone considers themselves loosely family. It would have been ridiculous for him to tell us he had family here, considering every free tribesman is his family member by their definition.” He smiles at me. “She’s mentioning how odd of a pairing we make, and that her nephew would be much better with you. She thinks children of Fire should stick together, since Fire is too volatile an element to mesh well with the others.”
I poke him discretely under the table, and rejoice inwardly when I manage to hit a ticklish spot and make him squirm a little. “And what sort of element are you?”
His grin gets a bit bigger, and a hint of pride creeps into his expression. “She can’t figure that out.”
Well, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has difficulty sorting out all the mysteries of Vistalt. “That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, sweet.”
He sips his juice. “Nor does it surprise me.”
I can’t help myself. “You like it that way, don’t you? You like being so indecipherable that no one can really make out what lies beneath it all until you tell them.”
Vistalt’s grin becomes slightly sad as he watches the servants scurry about clearing plates and silverware. “I’ve found it’s how I have to be to get by. People don’t always approve of what lies inside of me, so I’m very guarded about who I share it with.”
I snap my fingers in mock-realization. “I’ve got it! You hold the secret to eternal life, don’t you?” I giggle a little at his bewildered expression. “Don’t worry, I don’t actually believe that nonsense. I’m just to the point where I will guess anything in the hopes you’ll jump out of your chair and demand to know how I figured it out.”
He looks very slightly rattled, as if something I’ve said has upset him. “Truth is often stranger than fiction, love,” is the only response he offers me.
The bells ring and call us all from our tables to converse. I move about with Vistalt, and am completely awed at the amount of nobles present. There are two types of nobles; those who thrive on the strange schedule and balance of court, and those who absolutely despise it. The excuses made by the latter type in order to remain in their homes are some of the most splendidly creative things I have ever heard of. However, even these nobles have been summoned to court with such force that they actually came.
I can’t wait to hear the scenarios they concoct to get out of here once the majority of the Mirstatians leave. They will certainly provide me with a great deal of fodder for my imagination to play with. Since they have not been at court while the strange ordeal that has been Vistalt and my public life has played out, they are considerably more curious about us now than any of the other nobles are. I can feel them watching us as we move through the crowd. Some eyes are envious of the strange, norm-shattering connection we share. Others are curious as to what we did right and they did wrong that led to our vastly different degrees of happiness. Still others can’t even fathom how we got away with it.
And then there are those who think that by talking to us, they can uncover our secret. These are the ones that follow us about, too afraid of their lack of connection to us to simply approach us, but incapable of leaving us until they’ve finally spoken to us. However, after I spend a good fifteen minutes introducing Vistalt to and talking with Lady Mayat and her friends, our little throng of followers finally decides Vistalt and I aren’t fire-breathing dragons. For the remainder of the talking-period and even into the dancing, we are engaged in conversations that range in topic from the weather to politics to court life, and none of it has any thing to do with what these other people really want to say.
We finally escape them on the dance floor. All of the dances are generic, international type dances that, while each country has their own slight variations, are known to all of the courts. A tiny slip-up due to cultural nuance is completely forgivable in these dances. They are easy of footwork and not overly challenging physically. Once I’ve spent a few dances with Vistalt, I relinquish him to dance with Dunrad. By midway through this dance, I’m struggling to keep on my feet, much less in time with the dance, due to how hard my friend is making me laugh.
As he bows to me at the end, Dunrad remarks, “Perhaps I should be disallowed from dancing with you. It seems we do not dance.”
Still giggling, I curtsey to him. “And I believe I shall blame that on you.”
“Me? Oh, my lady, you wound me deeply.” The sarcasm drips from his words, but his smile is warm and his eyes are laughing. He glances around, his tone serious, “Now where has your courtee stolen my wife off to? I believe I shall have to be upset if he doesn’t return her.”
I point to the other side of the dance floor, where Matia and Vistalt are leisurely joking as they wait for the music to begin again. “I believe he intends to keep her for another dance.”
Dunrad shrugs his shoulders. “Then I suppose I will just have to claim Shiditchta (*) amTravenip. I’m surprised she’s not swamped with possible partners.”
I spot the woman he’s named, a middle-aged beauty wearing the grey armband of a translator. I shrug in return. “It was meant to be.”
He bows slightly once more and hurries away, getting to the lovely Mirstatian just in time to thwart another hopeful that was simply too slow in approaching her. I shake my head with a smile, laughing inwardly, and turn to leave the dance floor.
And I stop just in time to avoid running directly into Ati. I glance around for Trirt, but the jovial translator is nowhere in sight. Which means that it’s just me and Ati. He extends his hand to me, bowing over it gracefully.
In this particular case, I don’t need Trirt. Ati’s desire is quite clear; he wants to dance with me. I swallow a strange lump in my throat and dip my best Mirstatian curtsey. I’ve found I’m getting better at it. With no words, I place my hand in his in acceptance.
As he rises from his bow, he seems almost pleased with himself at having managed to secure my approval. As he leads me away, I see why; waiting behind him is a small herd of very disgruntled looking Mirstatian noblemen. I can’t help but blush at the thought that they were waiting for me.
It really does frighten me at how fast and how easily I climbed from anonymity to something akin to fame.
I face Ati as the first notes come from the orchestra. I try to choke down my nervousness. I know this dance, and I’ve known it since I was a small child. I’ll be perfectly fine. I just have to disregard the fact that this man is more graceful than I’ll ever be, and that I can’t speak to him at all because he simply won’t understand. He’s a dancer, so he’s well-versed in that “leading” idea. If anything does go wrong, he should be able to cover for the both of us.
But despite my strange case of nerves, I find that I can’t help dissolving into his arms at least slightly. He is all muscle on a deceptively thin frame, and carries himself with a comforting strength that I find very akin to Vistalt’s. However, Ati’s is considerably more present in his every movement, and this makes his power seem slightly less effortless. His skin is soft, and his scent is tantalizing. Gradually I relax into the gentle flow of the music, although my mind does stay partially aloof from the complete state of release I typically find in Vistalt’s arms.
I am very sad when the dance ends and he bows over my hand before passing me off to the next Mirstatian nobleman waiting for me.
For the rest of the night, I am whirled through dance steps by a different man each dance. They are all respectful and elegant, but silent due to the language barrier. I find myself completely unable to escape the dance floor. I keep my cool by some miracle alone, although I am on-edge lest I make a mistake that could be construed as intentional and somehow bring down these crucial peace-talks.
Finally, as the orchestra plays their final number of the night, Vistalt finds me and claims me. The waiting nobles back away from me as he approaches, content that they are here for five more nights and will all get their chance. I melt gratefully into his embrace, knowing that he will make me look like I’m dancing it perfectly no matter how badly I am messing it up.
He grins at me. “Long night?”
I roll my eyes. “You have no idea.”
He just laughs and holds me a little tighter. “Diplomacy’s hard, especially when you don’t expect to have to be involved in it at all.”
I let out a quiet but very indignant noise that sums up my feelings quite succinctly. “This isn’t diplomacy, this is nonsense and pomp.”
“You’d be surprised, sweet. Diplomacy can be as simple as being polite to a stranger, or as complex as negotiating a truce between countries while the armies stand ready on the battlefield. Every little bit helps.”
“Provided you do it right.”
He shrugs a little. “Well, as far as I can tell, you did. I’m not saying you’re an expert, just that you weathered this situation well enough to make any ruler proud.” I’m about to say something to contradict him yet again, but he gently pinches me. “Another trait that most people have is the ability to accept compliments.” His smile takes the edge off of what might have otherwise been a very harsh sentence.
I make a face back at him. “Most people aren’t cranky and sore and haven’t spent the last two hours on their feet whirling in circles with a plethora of different men.”
He chuckles. “Most women wouldn’t complain about that at all.”
“Since when have I ever been most women?”
He seemingly ponders that for a moment, and then nods as he concedes. “Point to you, love.”
The dance ends, and he bows to me as I curtsey in response. As I rise from my curtsey, I catch sight of Matia and Dunrad, and remember my convictions of last night and my need to speak with her. Vistalt offers me his arm. “Would you like me to escort you to your rooms, my lady?”
I smile at him. The king has risen and is on his way out, so the roar of the people is building as they all call goodnights to one another. Under this noise, I say to him, “I’d be too tempted to let you in. No, you should return to your rooms. I’ll be along shortly. I have to talk to Matia anyways.”
He raises an eyebrow. “Oh? Anything I’d be interested in?”
I grin viciously. “Not really. Girl stuff.”
His expression changes to one of shock as he interprets that exactly the way I expected him to. “Well, I shall leave you to that. Please warn Dunrad before you two just plunge into conversation, however. Contrary to seemingly popular belief, men really don’t need to hear anything about…that.” He bows over my hand, drops a barely-there yet still loving kiss on the back of my fingers, and then plunges into the swarm of people headed for the doors.
With the traffic moving slowly, it’s easy to catch up with my two friends. They aren’t really talking at all, so I appropriate Dunrad’s other arm with the assurance I haven’t interrupted anything. After several minutes of waiting for our turn to squeeze out the doors, we finally make it out. In the relative quietness of the hallway outside, I quickly make sure my presence hasn’t hindered anything. Once assured of this, I pry the two apart with the same excuse I gave Vistalt. Dunrad turns a little paler and practically evaporates after telling his wife he’ll meet her in their rooms.
Matia laughs at her husband’s behavior. “Men are so strange. They want to make love and they want heirs, but heaven forbid if they should ever have to discuss the mechanics of either.”
“Which is precisely why it makes for a convenient excuse for anything.”
Her curiosity is piqued now. It’s written all over her face as she studies me a bit clearer. “An excuse, love?”
I blush a little. “I can’t really talk to you about it here, but I’d like to ask you a few…personal questions. Without your husband present.”
She rolls her eyes a little. “Ahh. I see.” She pauses for a moment as she considers how much the visiting nobles have tied up her schedule. “Well, I unfortunately don’t have a free afternoon until after the Mirstatians leave. It seems your king quickly found out that Dunrad and I know a good deal about the loyals and the free tribesmen alike, and then proceeded to enlist us in every major social event involving Mirstatians. Would you like this conversation to be in the near future?”
“As soon as is possible,” I blurt out, without really having ever considered my response. I don’t think that I’ve ever thought through how urgently I really do want to talk to someone until now, but I realize that I really do mean what I say. I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be able to control myself around Vistalt, and I’m hoping that something Matia will say will convince me that it’s worth the trouble to keep fighting my urge to simply succumb to him.
A knowing look comes onto her face. “It’s like that.” She ponders a moment more. “Well, I’ve been meaning to get some embroidery done, and we haven’t had a night together in a long time. How about tomorrow night after the dancing lets out, we retreat to your rooms. I’ll bring a night dress over during the day, and then we can assist each other in changing, do a little embroidery, talk, and then I’ll just spend the night in your rooms.”
I’m, for some reason, shocked. I mean, I know she’s my best friend, but I also know that these days are long ones for her. The fact that she’s willing to prolong them in order to help me is incredible. “Oh, love, I don’t want you to have to give up your sleep over this. It’s not that important. Besides, where will you stay in my rooms?”
She laughs. “You’re turning into Dunrad. Once again, Siris, I’m pregnant, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to break if I’m not handled like glass. Just give me a few pillows and a blanket and I’ll be perfectly happy on the floor.”
I have the distinct inkling I’m not going to win this, not this time. I sigh. “Alright, have it your way, but I’ll let Riaon know you’re coming and we’ll see what we can do about a second bed just for the night. If it can’t be found, I’m taking the floor, and you’ll have my bed.”
She laughs again. “You can’t ever just let me have it my way, can you?”
I grin at her innocently. “If I did, I wouldn’t be me, and you wouldn’t love me like you do.”
She hugs me and kisses me on the cheek. “This is all very true. Now go get some sleep, because you aren’t guaranteed any tomorrow night. I still remember what it was like when we did this at Blossoming Classes. If we got an hour of sleep we were doing well.”
I return the kiss. “This is all very true as well. Goodnight, Matia.”
“The same to you, Siris.” And she turns to continue on her way to her rooms, while I turn down a different hallway to find the fastest route to my room. Knowing that I will be able to talk to Matia tomorrow night, I feel confident that I’ll be able to protect my honor for at least one more night.
I do my best to hurry through changing, but the very thought of being near Vistalt again is making my hands shake. I have to sit down and force him out of my mind just so I can finish changing. I don’t know how to react to such a strong and seemingly undeniable physical need and attraction. I’ve never experienced anything of quite this caliber before. I find myself completely incapable of ignoring it, and even less adept at controlling it.
I finally manage to get myself enough in hand to get all of my complex garments off. Then, it’s basically a scramble into some form of suitable undergarment and pulling on my nightdress while I extinguish the few candles I bothered to light. By the light of the time candle, I yank out the pins from my hair and throw on a dressing gown.
Once I leave my room, my seemingly inborn caution takes over, and I slip automatically into back hallways of the mansion. During the last two years of Blossoming Classes, we were brought to the mansion about once a month when court was out of session, so we could learn some of the basics of the place. I, however, didn’t like it here at all. The place seemed almost foreboding, menacing somehow in its grotesque lack of anything that even remotely assembled order or normality. At night, unable to sleep, I made myself explore back hallways and strange routes with a piece of chalk in my hand. I would make arrows at junctions of hallways pointing towards the direction I had come from, and I would number the arrows. If I ever got too hopelessly lost, I would simply follow the arrows back to my rooms. Each night meant a new corridor for me. Finally, one night I met a servant woman who seemed to have much the same problem as me. However, as a servant, she actually knew where she was going; she was just walking there because she couldn’t sleep. From her, I learned much of what I know of the lesser-known parts of the mansion, and from our walks I learned how to get basically everywhere of any importance whatsoever the fast way, the longest way possible, the most secretive way, and all the moderate ways in between. After she moved into service in a much nicer, smaller home, I continued my walks and found inventive ways to glean the names of the places I’d visited from the servants who tended to my rooms. I think that’s where I first learned what being a courtier was really about; getting information that you wanted, but never really asked for.
I call upon that knowledge now, and something like a map springs to my mind. There’s gaping holes in it where the halls simply become too twisting for me to ever bother with, or where King Layloilen added on. His whole family was a bit warped and delusional, so the floors aren’t necessarily level, ceilings have been known to simply collapse, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that a hall you turn into is really going anywhere. There are stories of him asking builders to add pointless walls that dead-ended hallways and to remove structural supports, supposedly so the buildings matched the vision he had in his mind. Builders that refused were immediately beheaded for treason. All the kings after him simply buried this wing in the heart of their additions, too respectful of their predecessor to destroy it, but too aware that the buildings were dangerous to leave in open sight. They left only one door unsealed, and even that is plainly marked against entry.
Now we’re stuck with it, because there’s no way to remove it without taking down about half the mansion first. The twisted black-iron spires of this particular oddity jut into the air from the center of the sprawling, single-story building that is my current home like sinister fingers trying to bring down the sky. The iron itself has never rusted, which is something no one can explain. The wing seems impervious to heat, and is on the whole the stuff of nightmares. I don’t know a single person who would ever willingly venture into Layloilen’s Wing.
As I reminisce about the other strange pieces of the mansion, I drift down the most secretive way I know to Vistalt’s room. Small back hallways lead me through portions of the mansion that are only cleaned twice a year. However, the servants know of them and use them to get around without getting pestered by nobles in the hallways, so there’s no dust in the center of the halls. If I were to stray too far to either side, however, I would leave a clear mark in the dust that’s beginning to form a slight film on the floor. Apparently the wing is approaching its date with a feather duster.
Finally I have to emerge from my safe little paths to the more-traveled halls, and I begin to walk in a way that looks a bit more trance-like, hoping that in the event I do run into someone, they’ll believe I really was sleepwalking. However, once I enter Vistalt’s hallway, I feel exposed. There’s no way anyone would truly believe I just happened to sleepwalk here. I glance up and down the hallway, then up and down the hallway that I’m in. Seeing no one, I gather up my skirts and bolt to his door. I try to knob before I even bother to knock, and find it blissfully unlocked.
I slip inside and close it as quietly as possible, hoping that no one entered the hallway behind me and just witnessed that. The whole room is basically dark. The only light comes from the sitting room, which I know is most-likely created by the time candle. Tentatively, I call, “Vistalt?”
“Here, Siris,” Comes the distant reply, obviously not from the bedroom, but from that general direction. I therefore assume that he’s in his wardrobe or bathroom. “Bedroom door’s open, I’m just finishing changing.”
Ah, choice one. I drift into the bedroom, intending to collapse onto the bed, but for some reason as soon as I see the light spilling out from the slight crack left in the door to the wardrobe, my plans change without ever consulting me. My feet move to the soft glow of the candlelight, and I feel strangely detached from my body as I realize the hand slowly opening the door wider is my own.
The first sight that greets my eyes is Vistalt pulling off his shirt in the wavering gold light, revealing his flawed but still somehow perfect skin. I am very much back in control of my body, and can’t resist my urge to touch him.
At the very lightest brush of my fingers, he whirls around, dropping his recently removed shirt to seize my wrist in a motion that’s almost too fast to follow. The look in his eyes fades from some intense and strangely predatory emotion to confusion infused with hope as he realizes who it is that’s invaded his privacy. He releases my wrist and instead wraps his fingers around my outstretched hand.
“Well hello there, little curious one. How am I to interpret this new venture into dangerous waters?”
So much for maintaining my honor. But, I’ve done it now, so I now get the pleasure of convincing him that I really don’t want anything naughty to come of this, I was simply drawn to him. I shrug. “However you like, I suppose, but just don’t take too much from it. I’m not ready for anything serious yet.”
He somehow uses his grasp on my hand to pull me towards him, and he meets me halfway so that we’re pressed up against one another. The golden aura of the candles is intoxicating, and his scent surrounds me. “So, how much is too much?” His tender fingers slide my dressing gown off my shoulders and it pools on the floor around my feet.
I grin a little. “I’ll let you know.”
Perhaps that was a naughty answer, but it was apparently the correct one as far as both of us are concerned. It leaves me with the freedom to stop the progress of whatever’s occurring as soon as I feel the need to do so, but definitely throws the door wide open for right now.
Vistalt is all for taking full advantage of my laxness while it continues. He literally swoops me off the floor and walks calmly back into the darkness of the bedroom. The glow from the candle tentatively ventures into the blackness of its home’s next-door-neighbor, illuminating the bed in the palest golden radiance. He deposits me in this barely-there light, kneeling on my left side with his arm crossing to the other side of my body in order to support himself as he leans down to take my lips. The silver chain I noticed him wearing seemingly eons ago has reappeared, this time exposed due to the lack of shirt to hide it in. Weighed down by a pendant and gravity, it falls onto my chest to land in a cold circle. I shiver a little, both from the sudden cold and the tender need I feel rising in myself in response to Vistalt’s own feelings. These are clearly conveyed to me in the heat of his kiss, the urgency and raggedness of his breathing.
He relinquishes my mouth to lace a trail of passionate kisses down my neck. This is interrupted only when he closes his teeth on me at an almost agonizing slow and yet unbelievably tantalizing pace. My body tenses in need, and my back arches into him. His knee swings over my body so he’s straddling me, freeing his hands to roam. While they manage to contain themselves for the most part to acceptable areas, they occasionally stray into dangerous territory. He never full-on touches me, but he comes so close I’m gasping for air. His lips rediscover mine, and he takes me to a whole new level as he slowly teases me with his mouth and tongue. I almost have lost the capacity to respond to him, but my own need sends my own hands questing and my mouth exploring. I taste his skin all the way down his neck and back up again before I nip him on the ear, followed by a quick lick right around the edge of his earlobe.
And then his mouth is mine in full-blown passion, and somewhere in the back of my mind my brain is screaming that this is the most awful attempt at maintaining honor that was ever made. For a moment, I almost manage to silence the voice completely, until I feel Vistalt gently inching my skirt up.
The voice proceeds to win, and I plant my hand on Vistalt’s chest gently but firmly and apply a slight pressure. He gets the message very quickly, because he’s a very intelligent man. Although he’s trembling as he forces himself to suppress his desire, he gently kisses my forehead and rises from the bed. I sit up a little, leaning on my elbows and still reclining for the most part. He smiles at me. “It gets a little harder to do that each time.”
I smile back, and before I can stop myself, I respond, “For the both of us.”
That seems to relieve him greatly somehow, as if he’s glad to know he’s not the only one struggling to preserve my purity. “I’ll be right back, love. I just have to finish changing.”
I nod absently and ponder if I want to expend the energy necessary to crawl under the covers. The answer is definitely no, considering it’s a warm night, and I’m extra warm anyways from the exchange that just occurred. I roll over onto my stomach and bury my face in the pillow, trying to take some of the heat out of me.
I suppose that’s why I never notice that the light from the wardrobe goes out. In fact, I don’t even know Vistalt’s in the room with me again until I feel his fingers softly working in circles on my back. I succumb to him completely, knowing he won’t hurt me and that he’ll stop as soon as I ask.
Of course, I never get the chance to do that. It’s been a very, very long day, and I am incredibly tired. I seem to have spent the last of my energy turning Vistalt away, and he is a very good masseur. I am asleep in moments, but I drift into unconsciousness smiling.
I awake not really knowing why I’m not sleeping. The whole world is in silence, and beside me, Vistalt’s still asleep. I somehow made it under the sheet, which I assume was Vistalt’s doing, but the blanket is folded down to the bottom of the bed. Through the open windows comes the scent of morning dew, a soft breeze, and the very beginnings of dawn. I sigh contentedly, still not knowing why I’m awake, but feeling absolutely no desire to go back to sleep.
Then a new sound intrudes through the windows; the slow but deliberate chiming of a bell. It doesn’t wake Vistalt, but as soon as I move to stretch, he’s awake.
He blinks for a moment, seemingly confused. Then focuses on me, and smiles sleepily. “The bell rang already?”
I nod and return the smile. “You just missed it.”
He yawns slightly and wraps his arms around me, nuzzling my neck. “I don’t want you to go yet.”
I smile at him and relax into his embrace. “Well, I don’t have to right now. Soon, but not right now.”
“I don’t want you to have to go at all.”
I laugh. “Well, if you stick around long enough, there’s this thing called marriage, and if we do that, I’m yours forever.”
“If you aren’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon, then I’m all for staying here in Shesnat for the next, say, year?”
That’s the first time he’s ever mentioned marriage. Come to think of it, that’s the first time either of us have mentioned marriage. I was kidding, but he’s apparently completely serious. Can I see myself marrying Vistalt?
The answer is a shockingly powerful, resounding yes.
Well at least my mind can make a decision on something.
“Right now, that sounds like a very good plan.” I roll over a little to face him a bit more, and find myself staring at his silver chain. I pick it up to study the pendant. It is about the size of the skinny end of a small wine cork. The design on it is comprised of a simple but sharply angled rune surrounded by intricate detail of intertwining, flowering vines, created with miniscule inlaid black stone and raised silver threads. “What is it?” I ask. My voice comes out sounding a bit more reverent than I really intended, but it does reflect my true feelings. This pendant is a work of art.
I can feel him watching me in a way that is almost amused as he responds. “It was given to me by my mother on my sixteenth birthday, to signify that I was to inherit what she left behind when she died.”
Confused, I look into his eyes. Keterinin may be extremely progressive in comparison to Shesnat, but I know that men are still considered the primary landowners. Even if the lands are in the wife’s name, the lands will pass to the husband’s oldest son, even if that son is from a prior marriage. The only exceptionally tricky piece of work in Keterinin is the case when the woman is a widow with a son and marries a man with a son as well. This is a rare occurrence, and I believe inheritance is decided in the courts on a case-to-case basis. “Shouldn’t your father be in charge of all gifting of inheritance matters?”
Vistalt shrugs a little. “My mother was always the more powerful of the two. My father liked his horses and his crops, and he loved his family, but he didn’t care very much for anything else. He just let her take care of it all, and pretended it didn’t exist. So, the inheritance always stayed in her name, and thus came through her.”
“I think I begin to understand where all these progressive ideals of yours got their roots.”
He smiles nostalgically. “Actually, mom always encouraged us to formulate our own opinions on what was right and wrong, especially when it came to how to relate to other people.”
Ah, the magic of pronouns. Right now, they are about to get me closer to Vistalt’s history than I have ever managed to get before. “Us?”
He’s shocked right out of his reverie. He seems to contemplate me for a moment, as if he’s unsure whether or not he really wants to divulge the information asked for, and he seems worried about what I’ll do once I get it. “I have a brother.”
Well, now we’re getting somewhere. “Older or younger?”
Vistalt sighs. “It didn’t matter to my mother; she made sure that both of us had something to receive when she died. She loved us very much.”
I let the pendant fall. There was an obvious finality to that sentence. It’s become clearer and clearer to me that there is some unfathomable skeleton in Vistalt’s proverbial closet, and it has something to do with his family. Every time I even nudge the subject, he goes into super-evasive mode and ends the discussion as soon as he can without upsetting me. It seems to be painful for him to even broach the topic briefly, so I’m trying not to push him, but it’s hard to not get impatient. He knows everything about me, and I still feel like his past is a huge gaping hole. Granted, he’s probably only twenty-something, so he can’t have that much history to tell, but he’s got to have something.
And it hits me; I don’t even truly know how old Vistalt is.
Naturally, I have to ask. “Vistalt, how old are you?”
For the barest fraction of a second, he seems to physically go cold, but in an instant he’s flashing me that debonair grin again. “How old do you want me to be, love?”
I giggle. “If I had the time to get an actual answer out of you, don’t you dare think I wouldn’t.”
He grins and kisses me. “I’m sure you’d try.”
I give him a light push backwards. “Yes, I would try, and I would succeed. But right now, I need to make my way back to my rooms before we get caught.” I slide out of bed and go into the wardrobe to retrieve my forgotten dressing gown. I return to the bedroom, pulling on the rescued garment, and find Vistalt exactly as I left him, but looking considerably more puzzled. I sit on the bed next to him. “What’s wrong, sweet?”
“You don’t actually care how old I am?”
I laugh. “No, not really, Vistalt. First off, you can’t be more than late twenties, and secondly, even if you were older than that, I still don’t care. You’re the same person inside if you’re fifteen or fifty. The only difference it makes to me is how much of a chance I have of surviving you if we were to spend our lives together.”
His eyes get a very far away look to them. “I was eighteen when I ran away from here. I was barely nineteen when I returned to be at my mother’s bedside while she died. From there, I’ve traveled this side of the known world, become a noble in Keterinin’s court, and I’ve hopefully made my mother proud that I’m her son. I’ve fallen in love many times, but only twice was it lasting love, and quite frankly, the first time doesn’t count. What we have is the second time, and it’s the truest, most beautiful thing I’ve ever felt. My life has encompassed far more than a mere age can tell you. I want so much to explain it all to you, but there simply isn’t the time right now, nor is it the right time. I’m going to have to sit you down soon and tell you, though, because it’s an integral part of who I am, and this is getting way too serious for you not to know.”
I smile at him and kiss him gently. “I look forward to hearing it whenever you’re ready to tell me. I love you and I’m sure I’ll see you today sometime.” I rise from the bed, and then suddenly remember that Vistalt has no clue of my current plans with Matia. “By the way, love. Matia and I are having a bit of a girls’ night tonight, so I won’t be with you.”
He grins at me, his typical warm and confident air finally restored. “Well, I’m sure that will be interesting and completely worth my time to spy upon.”
I glare at him as menacingly as I possibly can. “You wouldn’t.”
Vistalt laughs. “No, love, I wouldn’t, but it’s extremely tempting.”
I sigh and roll my eyes, then blow him a kiss and leave. I know that I don’t have overly much time to get back to my rooms, but I’m not interested in going straight there. I have far too much to ponder, and sitting in my room won’t suffice right now. I choose a moderate route to my rooms, not particularly secretive, but I don’t really care at this point. After all, there is absolutely no reason I should run into another living creature, unless it’s a mouse and I guarantee the mouse won’t go running to the king.
I turn over what information Vistalt did give to me in my head, an attempt to fill in some of the blanks that he didn’t tell me. He obviously loved his mother very much, although it seems as though his brother and him aren’t exactly on the best of terms. His father is more of a background figure to him, amiable and vaguely fatherly, but a simple and unconcerned man that would have hated the court life Vistalt now lives. The thing he mentioned about his prior love confuses me, but then again for almost three years I was infatuated with Kiefyn, so perhaps he had some sort of experience akin to that. The rest of what he said about us warms my heart and brings a smile to my face.
And it is at this moment that I hear the sound that makes my heart skip several beats.
A door. Opening.
My head snaps up and I freeze practically in mid-step. My heart is making up for lost time and is racing in my chest harder than I’ve ever felt it beat. I can see the door plainly, which means that the figure stepping out of it can see me too. They turn, and suddenly I suck in a breath.
I can feel myself start to relax bit by bit, even though he has frozen and the color is draining from his face at an alarming rate. I realize that I must be in one of the wings in which they’re housing the Mirstatians. Since these rooms are typically reserved for nobles that are taking only short stays in the mansion, rather than make the servants of the nobles learn the complexities of the place, the mansion’s servants keep a chalkboard outside the door. On it, they write symbols for any special requests the people inside the rooms might have, and then assure that these requests are provided every morning. Also on this chalkboard is the name of the person or family staying within.
And as I glance at the chalkboard beside the door, I suddenly understand why Trirt looks as if he’s going to cry, scream, faint, and run all at the same time.
It’s not his room. It’s Ati’s.
(*) = feminine form of shiditch, means “translator”
|Shaysiris 19||Asherohn 3|
|The Seven 3||Shaysiris|
|Shaysiris 14||Shaysiris 10|