Chapter 10: Ballroom Blitz!

20190406022033A Mermory of Marcela 1: Escape

Cold air faded as heat fled from her finger tips. Fire held tightly on her tongue, what were soldiers in steal plate? She spoked of Wind and grabbed his hand. A single step sent them two hundred feet into the air. There was the soft throp of bow strings, but arrows would not touch them.

She spoke of Blood and felt their approach. A hundred others like her had been set on them. A hundred others like her, but no equal. The air lit up, as lighting arched towards them from the earth. She spoke of Lightning. She took control of each bolt and arched them like a shell around herself and the man.

“I am Marcela!” She screamed. “I am the one who rides lightning!” Her voice echoed across the fortress and plains beneath them. She flicked her wrist and the lightning reversed course and shot back to its source. Another flick of her wrist and a wall of wind batted the two of them east. Gravity was brining them back to earth, but Marcela was not concerned.

A half dozen hemomancers, speaking of Wind, had ascended over the fortress wall and were giving chase. Marcela and the man were about to hit the ground when Marcela caught them with wind and gently, they settled down. Marcela spoke of Earth and raised a dome of it around the man. The six hemomancers landed infront of Marcela.

“Marcela, return Ruah to our king, and he will have mercy,” the lead hemomancer spoke.

“Mercy,” Marcela spoke, “I have never seen him show that.”

“You can’t take on all six of us,” Spoke a second hemomancer. “We have each tasted the blood of a slave.”

“I can’t?” Marcela responded. “Do you know who I am?”

 

Chapter 10: Ballroom Blitz!

Second Term was over, and exams were done. That meant just the Ball remained of my first year at the church. I was alone in a carriage on my way through High Town. Two Glren flanked me on horseback. I thought they were unnecessary, however they had been there with the carriage to pick me up. I’d originally thought that I would walk to the Palace before Gem informed me otherwise. I was dressed in the suit we had picked out and my hair was well kept if not short. I’d even shaved which was almost unnecessary for the amount of facial hair I was capable of at fifteen.

The ride wasn’t the most comfortable thing I’d ever experienced. I would rather ridden or walked, but that would have left my clothing less nice, and of course, I couldn’t have that. Looking out the window I saw us pass through the pearl gates. Then the carriage stopped and the doors to the palace opened.

The carriage driver beckoned for me to take my leave. I did so. “Enjoy yourself, sir.”

“Thank you,” He took off before I could inform him that I was not actually a sir.

“Demetrius Skagora?” An older man dressed in the colors of the Roan family greeted me.

“Yes.” I answered.

“This way please.” The man led me into the palace. My only other times in here were during the New Year’s celebrations. But it was enough to know that he was not taking me towards the Grand Hall. We were soon ascending stairs, up several stories before the man took me down a wide hallway.

He stopped and knocked on a large wooden double door. Another servant answered. The man stepped in but not far enough for me to step in after him. He spoke, “Demetrius Skagora.” He then stepped aside allowing me to enter.

I did so with a brief moment’s hesitation trying not to look too nervous. I entered a room that was nearly as large as the as the raised dais in the Grand Hall. It was almost as elegant while feeling more comfortable. Light stone walls were well lit by chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. A long table dominated the center of the room above its wooden floors. The room was as wide as the center table was long, and twice that in length.

The number of guest was far more spaced out where I entered the room than where I saw the royal family sitting at the far side of the table at the room’s center. I saw Gem look up at my arrival.

“This way sir,” A servant said leading me along the table. Some of the guests gave me curious looks but most ignored me till they realized how far along the table I was being led. When I was seated next to the Princess Gemaeve, each and every one of them gave me a long look. Some were curious, some looked wronged, and others regarded me with blankness that would serve well playing cards. However, it was the looks from the Royal family themselves that bothered me. I instantly became very uncomfortable. I wanted to move. Gem was a Princess. What must they think of me? Princess Gwen, and Prince Calin were absent. However, the rest were there. Caliph winked at me, and smiled too much. Princess Bethany looked at me like I was an interesting animal her sister had found. They smiled at least. The Queen did not smile. She just gave me a brief calculating glance. The King unsettled me, his beard was longer than I’d ever seen it and it made him look fierce. We made eye contact for a moment and his eyes narrowed, bright blue and piercing. I tried not to look away too suddenly but that was inevitable. I stole another moments glance at him, he had begun talking to his wife.

“See, this isn’t so bad.” Gem said as I sat in silent terror.

“Could be worse,” I answered. It very well likely could be.

“So you’re the infamous Demetrius Skagora.” Princess Bethany said leaning forward on the table. She was seated next to Gem with just three empty chairs between her and her parents who sat at the head of the table. On the opposite side Caliph sat immediately to the right of his Father. There were several open seats to his right till the table became more densely settled.

“Infamous?” I asked.

“You’re the first boy that has seemed able to remind my sister that boys exist.” Bethany said smiling. She looked beautiful with her hair done up in an emerald net, she wore an emerald gown. Her green eyes practically seemed to glow.

“Bethany!” Gem protested. Gem was quite stunning herself. Her hair was done up with pearls that went well with her light skin, and contrasted her dark hair. Her deep blue gown was trimmed in silver and embroidered with sapphires. Bethany’s gown was shoulderless, where Gem’s went almost up around her neck, but fell lower in the back. It did not escape my notice that Gem’s gown emphasized the shape I hadn’t previously noticed her having.

“Don’t blush Gem, red doesn’t match your gown.” Bethany taunted.

“It looks fine,” I said, trying to come to Gem’s defense. It only served to increase her shade of red.

Bethany seemed to enjoy making her sister uncomfortable. But, her attention turned to me. “Gem says you’re a better Speaker than must full Speakers?”

“He’s better at the Quatane! Speaker is a title; Speakers do more than speak the Quatane!” Gem said lecturing her sister.

Bethany rolled her eyes, “Well… sorry? So, are you really that good at the Quatane?”

“I’m pretty good, better than anyone in our class, I might be better than the other classes as well…” I said. I’d begun taking Quatane classes with older students so I could be challenged, not that they offered much in that anyway.

“Dmitry, you do stuff that most Speakers believed wasn’t possible till you showed them otherwise.”

“Really?” said Bethany. “Like what?” My answer was delayed by the serving of the first curse.

“Show me something!” Bethany said after the food was served.

I looked around trying to think of something.

“Make her water taste like wine, change the color if you want to, but the taste is the impressive part.” Gem said to me.

Bethany went for her water glass to pass it to me. But before she could I spoke in the Quatane, the liquid turned a deep purple. She looked at first it in surprise, then to me.

“You can drink it,” I said. She did so, then smiled as she took the glass away from her mouth.

“Is it wine?” she asked.

“No… unfortunately. My dorm mate and I were trying to acquire free wine. That was the closest we managed, it’s still water. I can‘t change its properties.”

“You speak like Gem,” She laughed. “That’s too bad, could you make alcohol taste like water? Or something else?”

I hadn’t considered trying to do it in the reverse, “I probably could.” I answered. The concept was almost frightening in its vast uses.

“I might need to borrow him, Gem.” Bethany said playfully to her sister.

Gem frowned at her, “You can’t borrow him, and he’s not a party favor!”

“Oh yeah, I forgot he is yours isn’t he?” Bethany said with a wicked smile.

So our dinner went, mostly just conversation between Gem, Bethany, and I. The empty seats filled as guests arrived. About half-way through the second course, a tall comely young man, was seated next to Bethany. I’d missed his introduction but he introduced himself as, Dain Norv, the eldest son of Lord Benson Norv of the North. Lord Benson Norv was one of the four Regional Lords, a powerful man. Dain Norv then preoccupied the majority of Bethany’s attention, leaving Gem and I to each other. The Two extra seats next to Bethany and Dain, switched owners throughout the night, as the King and Queen sent servants to invite them up to converse with them. The three seats to the right of Caliph were taken by Lord and Lady Artell, as Gem informed me. Their eldest son, Angus Artell, also sat with them. Lord Wallace Artell, and his son Angus could have been the same person at different ages. Neither was handsome like Andre was, but they were both stoic and firm spoken. They appeared confident without having to boast. They had little in common with Andre. I had expected glares from them, but got nothing more than brief looks.

Soon, the final course was served, and Gem excused herself, leaving her sherbet half finished. I sat alone for a moment, the people to either side of me preoccupied in conversation. Unfortunately it was only for a moment, I soon had a servant brush my shoulder.

“Sir, Demetrius Skagora?” he asked.

“Yes…” I spoke.

“The King would like you to join him.” The servant was off before I could formulate a response.

Standing I made my way to the empty chair closest to the King and Queen. Bethany was kind enough to realize my plight and gave me a humorous, “good luck!” They were awaiting me as I sat down.

“Demetrius Skagora, the Coastowner with a talent for the Quatane,” the Queen said with a sort of smile. It was the closest thing I had seen to a smile that night. “It is good to finally meet you.” she was elegant in her Yellow and gold gown. Her gold hair was braided back and a smaller version of the Kings golden ring sat on her head.

“The same, your grace.” I answered. it’s a weird feeling when your nerves are on edge and your adrenalin is pumping, and suddenly you find yourself operating perfectly fine, the only issue is you have little recollection of the event afterwards. That was the beginning of my first conversation with the King and Queen. Thankfully my memories of that event have come back mostly clear. If you had asked me that night, I wouldn’t have been able to reiterate a word that was said.

“You had a class with our daughter, which is how you met?” The King asked. His words were kindly, but his eyes looked like they wanted to tear apart and analyze the my contents on a dissection table.

“We actually met at the last New Year’s Festival, during the first feast when she was going around getting to know her classmates.” I answered. “But yes, I didn’t really get to know Gem till that class.”

“Gem?” the king asked.

“You didn’t honestly expect him to be calling Gem by her full name still? Anyone who knows her well calls her Gem.” The Queen said to her husband.

He scowled. Then redirected his attention towards me. “I saw what you did to Bethany’s glass of water. Gem, had said you were excellent at the Quatane but that, it wasn’t actually wine was it?”

“No, I just made the water look and taste like it.” I answered.

The king nodded, “More reasonable, but still not a small feat to be so casually accomplished.”

“Thank you, your Grace.”

“Gem, she informed us of the situation you were in while you were still Coastown, however I was wondering if you knew your parents?” The Queen asked.

“I knew my mother…” I answered.

“What was she like?” the Queen asked.

I smiled and described her to them, and the first ten years of my life. When I stopped the King’s expression was unchanged but the Queen looked more somber somehow.

“It’s a shame what lengths some women have to go through for their children,” The Queen said. “She is passed now isn’t she? Was it disease that took her?”

I knew what she meant by disease, she’d assumed it had been my mother’s profession that had doomed her. Though, in a way it had been. “No, she was taken by Glren, when I was ten, I don’t know why…”

“Probably best for you that you never do,” The King answered. “Being involved with the church now as you are.” In a way he was right, “Your father, did she ever mention him?”

“No,” I lied.

The King nodded, and again he looked like he was taking in my every detail.

“Enough of this grim discussion, we didn’t invite the boy up here to depress him. I would like to get to know this boy that my daughter is so fond of.” The Queen eyed me, “I’m glad that Gem has found a friend in you, she had too few around the Palace.”

“Not exactly what I had in mind,” the King added.

The Queen addressed her husband. “She isn’t Bethany fortunately, I know you were hoping he was less handsome, but you can’t fault the boy that.”

I tried to keep the color on my face neutral.

Caliph seemed to have just become aware of the conversation off his left shoulder, and let out an untimely chuckle.

“You have something to add son?” The King said curiously.

“No, nothing, I went riding with him and Gem once this summer, he is a good kid. You can let him keep his head father.”

I knew the conversation was supposed to be joking, but it was still a subject that made me uneasy. The king turned back towards me like he was going to continue, when he looked over my left shoulder. At about the same time I felt a hand press upon that very shoulder. I looked up to see Gem.

“Father, you really waited till I was disposed to ambush him!” Gem exclaimed.

The King shrugged undeterred by his daughter. “He was doing fine. Have a seat. You can join us.” He gestured to the empty seat to my left.

So we sat for a bit longer, till Gem and I returned to our original seats. I didn’t do much talking, I just answered question asked directly at me. I was surprised to find myself growing minimally comfortable towards the end. However, it is hard to describe King Julius Roan as anything short of intimidating.

The Ball would be beginning beneath us shortly. When the Dinner ended, those attending the Ball were led back down the hall and down the stairs into another chamber to await our entry. I escorted Gem through the Palace in the proper fashion, my arm through hers. She seemed to find it amusing. The chamber we waited in was another large and well lit room. Small tables filled it, each individual couple had their own. There were even servants to bring refreshments. I had had a glass of wine with the meal, but I felt like another would help, and took up the servants offer when he made it. Gem even accepted a glass.

“Really?” I asked when the servant left.

“It’s not like we have classes tomorrow.” She said, as if lecturing me.

“You didn’t drink with your meal.”

“My father and mother don’t like to see it.”

“Have you ever drunk before?”

“Of course,” She lied. It was never her strong suit.

I laughed.

She sneered.

Our drinks arrived shortly. I took a solid sip of my wine and put it down. Gem took a sip and cringed, then tried to hide it.

“I could make it taste like water if you want?” I said smirking.

“I’m fine,” She said eyeing her glass.

“Drink it fast, you don’t taste it so much.” I said jokingly.

She took me seriously and took a large swig, she cringed. I laughed.

“You’re an Ass…” She said putting down the glass.

“Apparently.”

We finished two glasses each when we were called to start making our way into the Grand Hall. Standing I could start to feel the alcohol. I saw Gem stumble a fraction as she came to a standing position. Standing solidly, she frowned at her feet.

I laughed and took her arm in mine. “Let’s go, what did I tell you?”

She scowled at me briefly but she was smiling soon after as we made our way into the line. We would be the last of the students announced because of who Gem was. Behind us would be others of rank who had been invited to the ball such as Bethany and her date Dain Norv.

We made our way through the Grand Hallway into the Grand Hall. The room was different than the last time I’d been there. The large tables were gone, replaced by smaller tables that lined the room leaving the center clear in front of the dais, upon which musicians were playing. Some were already dancing.

I heard our names called as we entered, “Demetrius Skagora, escorting Princess Gemaeve Roan.” We got looks but I didn’t take much notice. Gem wanted to dance right away and I was feeling good so I obliged. You would have thought I was the tipsy one as we began to dance. I knew a little of what to do but had little experience, anything fast was beyond me to start but Gem insisted on teaching me. Granted, I probably improved but that was most likely due to my dexterity than any real ability for it. Either way, I had fun twirling with Gem amongst the crowd of people. My feet soon were growing soar and I was happy when the music slowed.

Gem fell into my chest when the slow song started, wrapping her arms around my neck. I placed my hands along her lower body and we swayed to the slow music. She was hot with exertion, and my body was all too aware of how close she was to me. Her hair net scraped my chin, the pearls catching and reflecting the faint light in the room.

“Thank you for asking me.” Gem whispered into my chest.

“Thank you for saying yes,” I whispered into her ear.

She simply looked up at me, her eyes were bewitching, and she was beautiful. To describe her more would be an injustice. Her eyes broke me. It’s both frightening and fascinating to be so strongly effected by another. We danced like this till the song came to an end. This moment did not last. We were interrupted right before the next song began.

“If I could intrude for a moment,” We both looked around to see Bethany approaching us. “I know you must love starring into those big grey eyes of his, but I would like to borrow him for a dance.” She appeared to be alone. I couldn’t see Dain Norv anywhere.

“But…” Gem protested.

“Don’t worry sis, you can have him back after this dance.”

Gem looked up at me questioningly. “It’s fine Gem, I’ll find you afterwards.”

“Alright,” Gem agreed.

“Good, if you wouldn’t mind entertaining my date while we’re occupied, he’s over there.” Bethany gestured. “He unfortunately isn’t one for dancing,” She said the last with a pout.

Gem waved, as she took her leave into the mass of people, and the song began. It was another slow one like before, this time I bothered to listen to it more than the others. Bethany wrapped her arms around my neck and I placed mine respectfully on her lower back. We danced. Bethany was older and had more shaply then Gem, though she couldn’t be called tall, her head only came up slightly higher than her sisters. The way she moved her body against mine was different. Where Gem had fallen into me, Bethany was simply close.

“You do have handsome grey eyes,” Bethany said as we danced.

“Thank you, you have nice eyes as well…”

She laughed. “Don’t let Gem hear that, or she’ll get jealous.” She said smiling up at me.

“Oh.”

“Don’t worry, she has no reason to be, I’m here to help her.”

“Help her?”

She looked at me sideways and amused. “Gem maybe a social and friendly around people, and may even have a little temper. But, in her core she is still a shy girl. You can see it in how she looks at you.” I simply looked at her and waited for her to continue. “She likes you, more than she would admit, and if I’m not mistaken your quite fond of her as well. You two are so young you’re both incapable of hiding it when you look at each other. Even my father and mother saw it today, though they would never admit it. That’s why you made my father so uncomfortable. You were not who he had hoped his daughter would grow attached to, however he couldn’t find a reason to dislike you. He wants to badly, best not give one to him…” That didn’t make me feel better.

“So what is it you want from me?” I asked.

She sighed and we danced for a moment before she spoke again. “Make her happy, allow yourself to be happy. You’re smart you know what you are, you know who she is, you understand your reality. But instead of holding her at arm’s length, enjoy each other. You’ll only have her for a little while.” I remained silent for, comprehending everything she was saying.

“You may have a shorter time with her than you may think.” Bethany added eventually. “Father has decided that we’re to tour the courts of Ruaheon as well Carplentaria and Jahzn. He plans on making use of that extra year her apprenticing in the summer will give her…”

“When?!” I asked surprised at how strong my reaction was.

“We leave in the next couple days, Gem doesn’t know yet, Father just made the arrangements. His hope is to find husbands for us, I believe.” She said the last somberly. The prospect apparently didn’t excite her so much.

I had two days left of Gem… Just a year of her and she’d be gone. I had thought I would had at least have a couple years before this. The song was ending.

“Come, let’s find our dates,” Bethany said leading me from the crowd towards where Gem and Dain waited.

I was tired and didn’t feel much like dancing anymore. I had thought it would have been hard to regain my former good mood, but Gem made it hard to stay down. She was as happy as she had been before. If she’d noticed something off with me, she didn’t say anything.

I led her away from Bethany and Dain and found a secluded table in the far corner of the room. It was set way back and had a curved bench with a padded backing for a seat. That is what made it appealing to me. We sat my arm around her and her arm around me. We ordered drinks and talked as we watched the people dance. I twirled another cup of wine before I took a sip and placed it back on the table. Gem had one too, though the sips she took were small.

“You’re beautiful,” I said. I hadn’t meant to say that exactly.

She giggled. “Thank you, you’re pretty cute yourself.”

I laughed, and then looked at her, just to look at her for a while. Then I spoke, Bethany’s words in my head. “I think I want to kiss you.”

Gem smiled, and didn’t allow me to reconsider my statement. Her arms wrapped around my neck and she drew my head in close to hers. We kissed, and this was a kiss. Her mouth was sweet and tasted of wine. She was hot as she pressed herself closer to me. Her heat intoxicated me more thoroughly than the wine. I realized then that I had wanted to kiss her for far too long of a time. Thinking became hard as all I wanted to do was taste her and enjoy her. I had only a short time with her, and that seemed to make something in me catch fire.

I don’t know how long I kissed her for, but when we stopped our wine glasses were filled and there were less people dancing. Gem leaned up next to me closer than before. She lifted her wine glass nursing a sip.

“We should do that more often,” She said speaking into her wine glass.

“That would be nice,” Maybe Bethany had lied to me, to make this happen quicker, I could hope for that.

We were amongst the last to leave that night. We didn’t kiss again till late, just talked, and sipped some wine. That was a fantastic night, it was hard to work up the motivation to get up and leave. I remembered kissing Gem good bye before I made my way to the carriage that awaited me. I don’t remember the ride, and barely remember stumbling into my dorm. I think the door to my room proved too much of a challenge for me as I woke up the next morning on one of the couches. If I had dreamed that night, it was likely of Gem.

When morning came so did the confirmation that Bethany had not lied to me. Gem came knocking at around second bell in the afternoon. She was clearly upset. She told me everything that Bethany had, and then extra details I didn’t care to know. Kevin and Savannah had emerged from his room by that point and overheard everything. She was leaving the next day. This would be my last time seeing her for a year. We inevitably kissed again, much to Kevin and Savannah’s surprise. Kevin would tell me later that he hadn‘t expected to be upset to see that happen.

And so my second term ended, and with it went Princess Gemaeve Roan. It would be a year before we would meet again. A year can be a rather long time.

Tyler W Golec


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