“And he had spread rose petals all over the bed. It was so romantic…”
Abigail gushes, her face a deep red from the combined effect of too much wine and the confessed story. Scarlet smiles as she refills the girl’s glass, feeling both happy for her sister and jealous of the fairytale relationship with Dorian. The younger woman looks at the full glass in mock alarm.
“Oh… I really shouldn’t.”
“No, Abigail”, comes a stern voice from the doorway. “You should know better. It’s another thing for your father and I to add to our list of disappointments.”
Valainistima stands in the portal, one hand on her hip and the other gripping her staff. A half-elven guardsman stands in the hallway behind her, trying to look very small and inconspicuous.
“But I suppose I shouldn’t really blame you”, continues the elven woman. “I should have expected that your half-sister’s irresponsible behavior would continue to cause disruption and grief.” She turns her disdainful glare on the priestess. “You never fail to disappoint, dear Scarlet. Not content to tear apart your own family, now you’re working on destroying your sister’s future too?”
Abigail drops her glass, spilling wine on the bed. She stands up, wobbling dangerously as she tries unsuccessfully to point a finger at one of the multiple magisters facing her.
“Scarlet isn’t destroying anything! She’s been nothing but kind and supportive of me and Dorian! Not like you!”
“Supportive?”, laughs the older woman. “By dragging you into her vices? By convincing Dorian to throw away a promising career in Kyonin to become a common soldier in a backwater human duchy? Thank the goddess she hasn’t taken a more active interest in your well-being!”
Turning back to Scarlet, the sneer returns to her thin lips. “But I will at least congratulate you on doing one thing right. Running away from your responsibilities as a duchess has as least ensured that the people of this land won’t have to deal with the consequences of your drunken incompetence. They are indeed fortunate that they haven’t suffered too much under your neglect. Although I suppose it was too much to hope that you might hand the throne to a more sensible choice, like your Aunt Soletha and Uncle Ildrim, instead of an unproven human boy.”
The woman thrusts out a hand toward the younger woman. “Let’s go, Abigail. We will find your husband and see if there is some way to undo the damage your half-sister has done to his career and future. Then you can pack up your things and return with me to Kyonin.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you! You witch!”, shouts Abigail, still wobbling dangerously next to the bed. Scarlet sits frozen in fury, shocked by the vile woman’s harsh criticism.
The controlled anger on Valainistima’s face hardens into rage. She strides quickly across the stone floor, grabbing the girl by the wrist. “You. Will. Show. Respect”, she hisses, punctuating each word with a painful twist of Abigail’s hand.