If there’s one thing Ress has learnt about self hatred, it’s that after you accidentally condemn yourself to a life of immortality, it never really goes away.
Slouched at the grandly lacquered wooden table, arrogant features bathed in the muted glow of candlelight, she flips her glossy hair behind her shoulders and scowls beatifically.
“Why do I have to monitor the brat?” She complains loudly, more than aware of why, specifically, she was the only one in this miserable collection of people Kallum had the nerve to call a ‘committee’ who could be trusted to complete the task. Celose, cattishly reclining and pretending to not care about the situation, and Mikal, furious as always, had been fighting over the fire deity for years. If either of them were assigned to watch the child, they would manipulate her into taking her own life purely out of spite.
“You know why.” Kallum says tiredly, downing his glass of port with ease. Ress follows the heave of his throat with a critical eye; they’re ageless, not indestructible, and his liver needs to last him a very long time.
“I don’t.” Sulks Celose, picking violently at her nails. Bright green eyes peer narrowly from within the black lace mask she wears, studded with whorls of crystals. “Being an Instinctual won’t stop her from frying, we can write the report from here.”
Permanently hollow cheeks contort into a poison smile, dark chin length hair swishes as she jerks her head in Ress’ direction. Opals glimmer on her fingers. “No offence.”
None is taken. Ress knows exactly what she is. As an Instinctual she was able to harness the deity of the air completely by chance and raw potential, over three hundred years ago. The words had simply leaped fully formed from her mouth. Compared to the years, and in Mikal’s case, decades worth of learning most needed before even a simple spirit could be harnessed- it makes Ress a cheat, scum, worthless. It also made her unmatchably powerful, until now.
“If we ever want to bring order to our people, Instinctuals must be wiped out.” Snarls Mikal, tugging irritably at his white collar. Ress meets his glowering countenance with her infamous chill; his despising of her very existence ceased to bother her years ago. Mikal has skin of molten bronze and eyes like shallow chips of obsidian. Ress remembers how once she had thought him beautiful, until his blindly hating glare had transformed him into something absurd. He is older than Ress, centuries so, and weaker. He doesn’t let himself forget it.
“They undermine years of hardwork and dedication, and they disrupt the hierarchy. Just look at this little upstart, stealing my fire.”
“Your fire?” Celose purrs, unwinding slightly to sneer softly across the table. Her body is a work of art, all muscle and graceful lines, and completely honed by her own determination. She too dislikes Ress, but her love of riling Mikal often eclipses that. “My dear Mikal, if the girl has the ability to hold it for even a moment she has exceeded our capabilities, why not let her have it?”
“Why you little-“
“She’ll be dead soon enough, Mikal, Celose, end this bickering.” Kallum stares them down sternly with steely grey eyes. Similar to Ress in hair and eye colour, they were often mistaken as being related.
“She’s not the only Instinctual though, is she.” Mikal grinds out, eyes bulging in his pursed face. He looks hilariously akin to a bullfrog.
Ress smiles sweetly at him, sweeping her dark brown hair forwards to expose the scarred notches lining her neck. Oh people had tried to kill her, they had flocked in their droves, but none had ever succeeded, however close they came. Ress bats her eyelashes. “You have my express permission to try and kill me whenever you feel the urge.”
Mikal blanches. Celose looks down. Even Kallum shifts in his seat. They all know that an attempt on Ress’ life would effectively be a death sentence; her words are both a threat and an offer.
“Ress Duvant, will you watch the newly born Instinctual until they expire?” Kallum requests after a surly pause has passed. Ress is perfectly aware that it’s less of a question and more of a formality. While she could kill Kallum, the battle would be long and brutal. And as pointless as the committee is, she has to get her kicks of vague normality somewhere. Mortals infuriate her and most other Summoners want her dead. At least with Kallum she can have conversations that don’t end in murder.
“Alright.” Ress agrees sourly. “But if she’s still alive by next week I’m giving her over to the Binders.”
“Don’t be stupid.” Hisses Celose, bladed fingers scraping out from her handsomely embroidered sleeves. “That puts us all in danger.”
“Not all of us.” Ress pulls her jacket on, done with the meeting. “They’ll never catch me.”
“You should kill her yourself.” Bites out Mikal with a stony glare. At the head of the table, Kallum mumbles something disapproving and surrenders to another glass of port. Then a second. A third. “I hear she’s an abhorrent, a homosexual. They say she summoned the fire to save her female lover from the flames, it’s God’s will that she should burn.” He finishes maliciously, frothing at the mouth.
Celose titters with laughter. “Oh Mikal.” She says, wiping an imaginary tear from her eye. “Your archaic beliefs are so endearing.”
“For once I agree with Celose. If the most interesting thing about this brat is her sexuality then I’m in for a dull time.” Ress says bluntly, rising and giving the room a sharp nod. “Celose. Mikal. Knock off the port Kallum, it’s ruining your complexion.”
Without waiting to be dismissed, Ress tosses her hair out and stalks away.