Scarlet slams the door of her chamber hard enough to rattle the tiny bottles on her bedside vanity. Storming across the room, she grabs a small flask from her bedside table and rips out the stopper, draining the contents with several large swallows. The empty container shatters against the hearthstones at the same moment a tentative knock sounds at the door.
Scarlet crosses the floor in an instant and rips the door open.
“I have nothing more to say to…”
Her anger defuses at the sight of a surprised and fearful Abigail stepping back from the threshold. The girl is still dressed in her traveling outfit, although looks to have taken a moment to freshen up. She stammers a little as she continues to back away.
“I’m so sorry Scarlet. I didn’t mean to intrude or upset you. I just wanted to see you without being interrupted. I’ll come back later.”
Scarlet steps forward and quickly gives her little sister a hug. “I’m sorry, Abigail. You’re not intruding. I was upset at someone… about something else. Come in.”
As the two women enter the chamber, Abigail gives her sister a knowing look. “It was her, wasn’t it. I don’t know how you kept your cool so well in the grand hall after all the things she said.” The girl glances around as if to make sure no-one else can hear. “That’s what she always does, you know. Says nasty things to upset you, then makes you look like a fool if you try to confront her.”
Abigail pulls herself up ramrod straight and contorts her face into a parody of aristocratic distain. “Oh my dear”, she begins in a mocking imitation of Valainistima’s elven accent, “You have misunderstood the true meaning of my words. I shall endeavor to speak more clearly so as not to confuse you.”
“She’s such an awful witch”, continues the girl, dropping into a nearby chair. “I don’t understand why Daddy puts up with her. She’s just as mean to him, always reminding everyone of his gambling ‘indiscretions’ and threatening to cut off his allowance. If it wasn’t for his connections to the University, I wouldn’t even understand why she keeps him around.”
“But enough about her. It’s so wonderful to see you again! I’m so glad I let Daddy convince me to come visit. I was SO disappointed when you weren’t able to come to my wedding… maybe even a little mad at you, which I know is silly because you couldn’t help it. But he said you would be happy to see me, and I really wanted you to meet Dorian, isn’t he wonderful? But you haven’t really gotten to meet him have you? But when you do, he is the sweetest and kindest and nicest man you could ever find. He treats me like a queen and is so attentive. I get letters from him every day he is away on training or patrols, and he hardly leaves my side when we’re together in Greengold. Oh, and Brianne said to give you her best, but she and Arkadius just had their third child, a little girl, and they couldn’t come even though Daddy pleaded with them to reconsider. Their oldest daughter looks just like mother even though she’s only six, and her hair is as red as yours. The little boy already wants to be a soldier, and really looks up to Dorian. I hope when we have children they’re as cute as Brianne’s. And what is the deal with this Duke Faisal? He’s very attractive, although that tattoo is a little intimidating, and he clearly likes you a lot. He was very quick to deny the whole marriage thing, which sounds like ‘protesting too much’ as Uthariel might say. Maybe I’ll get to come to your wedding? And I can’t believe you’re a Duchess in a real castle and everything, just like we used to pretend as kids! Well, except we were princesses and Brianne always got to become queen and get married and all the fun stuff. Well, aren’t you going to say anything? And why are you laughing at me?”