Chapter 11: Chaperones.
Lisa and lord Luca were walking a good twenty yards ahead, giggling and leaning against each other; whatever Lisa said last night had indeed worked to her favor and during breakfast they announced their courtship. Needless to say, Lady Daphne disappeared to her chambers alleging a headache.
Baroness Krishna and I had volunteered to chaperone the lovebirds to go for a walk after our little picknick during lunch. She was elated after winning the Treasure Hunt, her husband clearly proud seeing her with the dainty jewelry box. It had many hairpins that were split among the six of us; insignificant trinkets compared with the real individual achievements of the week.
“I brought a sketch of the crest, it’s not as good as your painting but I did my best” I finally told her after making sure we were out of ear range. I’d spent part of the night and a good hour before Lisa woke up to draw it the most accurately possible. A winged incomplete circle containing a huge tree and a raising sun in the background.
Baroness Krishna extended her hand to take the paper. She tilted her head to give it a quick glance. “It’s definitely from Sion, but I can’t remember the name of the family it belongs to” she declared, and before the disappointment could settle in me, she continued. “I’ve seen it before during my trips to visit my family; the town must be about five days in carriage from the Whiteclay residence.”
“And you don’t happen to have a map, do you?” I asked eagerly grabbing her hands. Five days in carriage could be cut up to three days by horse, four if raided leisurely.
“Why would you want to go there? I thought you only found the crest by chance” she eyed me suspiciously. Once she confirmed my suspicions about the crest, I decided it was worth to tell her some more to gain further information about Sion. I trusted her, but I didn’t need the entire empire knowing my private affairs.
“I had a vision during my awakening and believe the crest has something to do with my real family” I fidgeted, averting my gaze from her inquisitive eyes. “I’m sure my father is alive somewhere and maybe even a brother” I added remembering the gray eyed man from my last vision.
A pair of dainty arms grabbed me around the shoulders; the baroness was hugging me. “I’m going to visit my parents in a few weeks. Would you like to join me part of the trip? I could use the company.” She gave me a sincere smile, that I showed back. Being apart from the family was hard, she struggled a lot before her sons were born; but not knowing them at all… She couldn’t imagine my pain, but I saw in her eyes thar somewhat she understood.
“It would be my honor, baroness” Lord Henry was a very fortunate man for having such a kind hearted wife, and I was glad I helped her gain some confidence in herself. I only hoped our recently discovered friendship lasted the many years to come.
We hurried to catch up with Lisa and lord Luca, only to stop abruptly and hide behind a tree. Lord Luca had Lisa grabbed by the nape, passionately eating her mouth like a starved man. Her hands clenching at his shoulders for dear life. What a pair of chaperones we were. We went back a few yards and started talking loudly, when we reached them once again Lisa was trying to fix her ruined hairdo. We might get an invitation to the wedding soon.
The room was an absolute mess. We’d gathered in the baroness’s chambers to get ready for the ball. Lord Henry bolted out as if the devil was after him as soon as he saw the small group of ladies invade his room, and I was starting to regret not joining him. Dresses were sprawled over the furniture, makeup scattered over the vanity, and hairpins and beads were being searched under the bed. It was like a battlefield.
After three hours of helping them to do their hair and fixing makeup here and there I was still in my evening clothes and in urgent need of a bath. I took advantage of a little argument about the appropriate color to wear for a courted lady and bolted to the bath. I didn’t mind the cold water, but it was becoming a habit to get ready in record time.
Much to my dismay, I had the largest frame among my newfound friends and couldn’t exchange clothes with them; so, I settled for the light blue silk ballgown lady Martha had made for this event. It was strapless and heart shaped, it hugged tightly my waist and opened beautifully from my hips. Flowery white lace covered my arms and collarbone, going down my torso like a tight long-sleeved shirt. I looked almost like a snowfall. I arranged my hair in a messy bun in the top of my head, leaving some curls to frame my face and holding everything with the hairpins we won the day before.
Once in the ballroom many heads turned our way. Lisa looked angelic in her pink sheer dress, the color matching the light glowing from her; baroness Krishna was wearing a traditional burgundy dress from her natal home and looked fierce; lady Nuria opted to wear a deep green silk dress with empire waist. All of them wearing heavy jewels and intricate hairdos.
I stepped aside when the lords approached us to grab their dates, I wasn’t that surprised when lord Tiberius asked lady Nuria for a dance. She blushed a deep red but accepted his hand nonetheless. I was truly happy for her; I didn’t need my ability to see how much he admired her brave side. An evil smirk adorned my face when after noticing the dumbfounded expressions of her two sisters, who were standing by themselves.
I walked around enjoying the venue and daydreaming. In a couple of months, I might meet my family. I was excited as well as scared. Did my father remarry? Do I have siblings or half-siblings? Maybe step-siblings… Would they like me or they rather I never appear in their lives?
I remembered my visions, the heartbroken man standing in front of what I assumed was my mother’s grave, the forest and a pair of gray eyes. Those were my clues and my hope to believe my father wanted me back, that I had a loving family somewhere waiting for me.
Damian tapped my shoulder, scaring the soul out of me.
“Damian! You almost gave me a heart attack” I exclaimed bringing a hand to my chest.
“I called your name several times” he bluntly answered shrugging his shoulders. He was wearing black pants and an emerald green jacket adorned with some medals and his family insignia, making his eyes pop. His hair, that now reached down his shoulders, was tied back in a manbun and a light stubble covered his cheeks and chin. He seemed a little uneasy, which I found funny considering all the side glances filled with longing and desire he was receiving from the single ladies that still remained. “Would you dance with me?”
I blinked once, then twice. After our awkward meeting in the library the other night he’d behaved nicer to me, not sending me deadly glares or making nasty remarks like he’d been doing before; but we weren’t exactly in good terms, or so I thought.
“Are you sure your date won’t mind? We are not real cousins after all.” He chuckled like I said something funny. Truth is, I feared the aggressive display of jealousy from the future Lancaster duchess. He offered me his hand and I reluctantly accepted it, following his lead while turning gracefully around the dance floor.
“So… I heard you are planning to travel abroad with lord Henry and his family” He more like asked after a few minutes; his voice sounded casual, but his shoulders were tense under my palms. “Are you thinking of leaving Lancaster Manor for good?”
“I bonded with the baroness and going to Sion might be a good opportunity for me.” His shoulder relaxed once more and he swirled me around with the music. I sighted and averted my gaze before finishing my answer to his question. “But I’ll be leaving Lancaster Manor one way or another.”
He stopped abruptly, making me lose balance and avoiding the painful and embarrassing fall only because of his firm grip on my waist. I looked up and his eyes were filled with anger. Damian tightened his grip on my hand and dragged me outside the ballroom without another word. With long strides we went through the aisles, I was almost running to keep up with his pace, until we reached the library; this time, instead of the ethereal moonlight, a dim fire in the chimney illuminated the room.
“What do you mean you’ll leave? Why would you be so ungrateful as to abandon our family to serve others?” he boomed, facing me and pulling me near him by the arm. I struggled to set myself free from his hand and whimpered when his grasp tightened, hurting me, his fingerprints leaving a mark that would turn purple in a couple hours. The strange sound took him out of his maddened state only long enough to let me go and I recoiled against a book shelf, nesting my bruised arm against my chest in a protective stance.
“I have no intention of serving other family, Damian” my voice low and calmed, contrary to how scared and agitated I felt, in an attempt to calm him down. “But whether it’s my family I find or a suitable man to marry, I’ll stop working and leave Lancaster Manor.” At the end of the sentence my voice was nothing but a whisper.
Damian was looking at his hands, clenching and unclenching his fists while mumbling unintelligible words under his breath. Was he really that mad? I’d been working for his family since I could walk, I received a lot from them but I also advocated my life to serve their needs and surpass expectations. But I was only a maid, not a slave. Even lady Martha encouraged me to get a wealthy husband to care for me; and, once I explained her my intentions, I was sure she wouldn’t be against me visiting or even settling in another country if the opportunity raised.
I paid more attention to the colors surrounding him. A chaotic turmoil of pink, green and yellow swirled as frantically as his emotions inside. I didn’t understand where it was all coming from, or what it meant exactly; I could only distinguish the anger, the jealousy and attachment. Therefore, I couldn’t do anything to calm him down.
The fire consumed while I waited for his fury to diminish, the embers our only source of light. Not even the moon shone that time, hidden behind stormy clouds. The weather outside matching the tension inside the library.
“We are your family” his voice was whisper only loud enough for me to hear; his features hidden behind the shadows projected by the little light left. “You were born in the Seven Lands; you were raised with me. Don’t you understand, Enid? You are part of the Lancaster family; you needn’t go in a dangerous and meaningless search of people who never looked out for you. They don’t deserve you.”
His words were like a punch to my stomach; they stung and tears flooded my eyes, but I fought them back refusing to let them show weakness or doubt in my resolve.
“I need to know what happened and make a decision for my own, Damian” I answered, remembering the broken man in front of the grave. I bit my lip, the pain shutting down my tears. Locking my eyes with his I stepped towards Damian and cupped his face with my hand, his eyes closing at the touch. “I need to do this, Damian, or I won’t be able to go on with my life. It’s like a heavy weight is dragging me down and the only way to lift it is by finding out what truly happened to my family.”
I brushed my thumb against his cheek before turning and leaving the library with slow but firm steps. I didn’t turn back, refusing to see a truth I might not be ready for in his beautiful emerald eyes.
The ball had just only begun but I didn’t feel like going back, so I headed to my room. I took everything off in a daze, refusing to think or feel anything, neatly folding the beautiful dress and carefully taking off the hairpins. I washed away my makeup, the cold water dragging even the last bits of uncertainty with it. I put on a nightgown and curled in bed, falling asleep before my head hit the pillow.
That night my dreams were plagued with green and gray eyes, an unknown forest and the eerie voice of the sorceress “Get ready, my child, your journey has just begun”.
Hello everyone! I'm really sorry I couldn't update on monday as promissed. This past week was important to me and I was really bussy, and then this weekend we celebrated the day of the death in my country.
I went to my father's hometown and I FORGOT MY LAPTOP.
So yeah, no job, homework or updating for me since saturday.
Hope you like the doble update! Please let me know what you think!