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Arriving at the Tower - Defiance (pt. II)
Fri Dec 1, 2006 09:16 (XFF:

Wordless, Dia let her eyes fall to the glistening jewel of warm gold spinning between her slender fingers by a fine golden chain. Knowing that she could not stare at the multi-faceted gem forever, she steeled herself and forced her shoulders straight. She would not be cowed by this woman…this woman who birthed her. Spin. Doesn’t that make her my mother…? Doesn’t it? Dia grimaced inwardly when naught but silence answered that thought and her fingers tightened imperceptibly around the gold chain. She kept her voice carefully composed as she addressed her mother in the fashion that Master Elid had taught her, but her eyes as always, betrayed her. “What is this?” Spin. Golden-hazel orbs looked upon the Lady Amerlis with hard unrelenting wariness.

Equally hard eyes returned her gaze, but Dia could read nothing in their steely depths. “It is a kesiera.”

Dia swallowed, lowering the jewel even as she gave it another spin. “I know what it is.” The corner of her mouth lifted slightly and she shifted her gaze to her…father. The Lord Kavin merely smiled at her, the expression lacking any sort of genuine emotion and Dia suddenly wished she was anywhere but here. Spin. Nervousness made her tongue twitch and words blurted past her lips before she could stop herself. “What is it for? Why have you given it to me?” Immediately she regretted ever speaking, wishing she could catch the words in mid-air and cram them back into her mouth. News of this outburst would undoubtedly reach far and wide, another rumour circling that the Lady Diyari of House Saighan could not control her tongue. Spin. She fought against the desire to roll her eyes and ruthlessly tried to stamp out her rising impatience.

Lord Kavin…Father… Father watched her with curious brown eyes, his smile widening almost as if in approval. “It is a gift,” he explained quietly. “For your fourteenth nameday.”

Dia blinked at that, open surprise on her face and the spinning golden jewel came to an abrupt halt.

“Girl,” Lady Amerlis bit through the word as if she was biting through a sour lemon. “You will join us for dinner tonight.” The Lady waited for the slight nod of Dia’s head before she imperiously ordered Dia out with a point of her finger to the door.

Honey eyes were bewildered as she gratefully escaped her parents’ presence, kesiera clenched firmly in one hand. “What under the Light was that about?” she muttered to no one in particular, the sound of her own voice strangely calming. The safe haven of the gardens and trees had never called to her so loudly as she passed window after window, but with an icy sort of dread, Dia knew that the sheltering arms of unmovable, wrinkled browns would be unable to save her this time.

It was with this newfound knowledge that she entered into the relative safety of her rooms, Melina’s frown only deepening when Dia’s usual exuberant greeting and infectious joy were conspicuously absent. With a helpless little shrug, Dia began reciting what had happened, her small fist opening to reveal the jewel of deep, golden tones to the older woman. Soon, a crowd of her nannies had gathered around her, their eyes meeting somewhere in the space above her head as Dia’s voice grew softer and softer. “And now they want me to join them for…dinner.” She could not help but hesitate before finishing off her sentence. Lady Amerlis and Lord Kavin had never cared what she did, when she did it, or how she did it. They had never particularly cared when she ate and when she hadn’t. So why now? Why now, when it had never mattered before?

Golden-hazel eyes went to Melina for some sort of explanation.

“Well, girl!” Impatiently, Melina reached for the kesiera, her voice too loud, the cheer in it too obvious. Dia frowned slightly, but could not voice much in the way of protest as her gaggle of nannies began clamouring for her attention as well, cued by Melina. “We have to get you ready!”


Uneasy, with one foot poised to flee above the smooth tiled floors, Dia glanced once again from her father to the open archway that lead into the dining parlor. “But Father, I don’t want to.” Her voice was plaintive and she could not bring herself to look up into his eyes. In the following months since receiving her kesiera, she had developed a civilized and sometimes even comfortable relationship with her father. With her mother...well, Dia tried to have as little to do with the Lady Amerlis as possible.

“Come now, doveling. Surely something about him must be to your liking?” Lord Kavin cajoled quietly, fingers going to smooth away a stray lock of curled dark hair from her forehead before tucking it behind her ear.

Her shoulders hunched together and her eyes remained fixed on the gilded hem of her full skirts. “I don’t like the way he looks at me.”

“And how does he look at you?”

Sighing softly, Dia finally chanced a glance upwards at her father, lowered eyebrows and dark eyes giving off the impression of a cornered animal. “Like…like…” She gestured for a moment, fumbling over her words before she dropped her arms to her sides, her hands seizing fistfuls of pale rose satin. “Like he’s hungry and I’m a sack of foodstuffs.” Dia stiffened at the first sounds of her father’s laughter, incredulous honey eyes whipping up to trace over each contour of his face. He was laughing at her! How dare he laugh at her! Melina and the others would not have laughed, not when she was being serious!

“Oh doveling,” Kavin reined in his mirth, his smile soothing away some of the hurt indignation in her eyes. “Such a way you have with words.” Smoothing away an undetectable wrinkle from his sleeve, he smiled at her. “Of course he will look at you. They all will. You are a very pretty girl, after all.”

Dia shifted visibly at that, acutely uncomfortable with her father’s observation.

“Come,” he coaxed, extending his hand to her. “Let us return before your mother begins fussing.” His brown eyes smiled down at her as Dia placed her hand in his, her eyes downcast, the line of her shoulders dejected. “Only a few more of these dinner banquets. I promise.”

Dia managed a tremulous smile in return, the expression never reaching her eyes.


“I will not!” Dia had to fight the urge to reflexively cringe back as Lord Kavin went deathly still.

“I told you! I told you Kavin! She’d bring nothing but trouble! Daughters bring nothing but trouble! Now do you see?! Now do you believe me?!” Lady Amerlis continued her tirade by the window, her face puckered and an unhealthy shade of bright red. It was not her mother that worried her; that woman could peel paint simply by speaking to it, but she would never actually do anything. Dia dismissed Amerlis with a mental shrug. Her mother’s words had long since ceased to be able to cause her any pain, sliding off of her like harmless water. But her father…he had lost his civility with her and the expression on his face frightened her. Why oh why could she not just simply keep her tongue still?

“What did you say?”

Dia flinched as if each word had physically harmed her. Keep quiet, for the love of the Light, just keep quiet! “I said I will not!” Her mind blanked in horror at the sound of her own voice. She scuttled backwards as quickly as she could, honey eyes perfectly round. One look at Kavin was all it took. Her stomach clenched reflexively in fear as her insides became liquid. RUN! Dia obeyed, barreling towards the door even as her mind shrieked at her. Fool, fool, fool, fool!

A vice-like hand on her shoulder brought her up short, a gasp of pain flying from her mouth as she was unceremoniously turned around with such force her feet nearly left the ground. She teetered dangerously for a moment, the fingers digging deeper into her collarbone. Panicked golden-hazel eyes looked up into the dark brown eyes of her father that were nearly black with his anger. Step by forceful step, he brought her back into the sitting room, his fingers latched too tightly onto her shoulder for Dia to even think about escaping.

“Why?” Dia could only mouth up at her father, her voice, for once, failing her.

Kavin gave her a rough shake before letting her go, his glower enough to keep her from bolting. Amerlis had finally quieted, though she watched the scene before her unfolding with a smug sort of vindication. “House Delovinde is not to be trifled with! If Lord Vesanard wishes to dine with you, then you will do so!” Dark brown eyes pinned Dia to her place in the middle of the sitting room.

Delovinde…another one of the great Houses. She blinked up at her father, her confusion written plainly across her face as she surreptitiously rolled her aching shoulder. “Why would he wish to dine with me?” Dia remembered this Lord Vesanard from the most recent of her family’s dinner banquets. He was roughly ten years her senior with a crooked smile and smooth, boyish cheeks. He had been polite and every bit the gentleman when they had been introduced. Vesanard was quite easy on the eyes but had spent most of his time chatting with her brothers. His parents had seemed far more interested in her than he had. “He didn’t seem all that interested in me. His parents…” Her voice trailed off as golden-hazel orbs widened. In a heartbeat, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place with an audible *click*. No…

Kavin nodded at the understanding that dawned in her eyes. “They will be here within the hour. I suggest you make yourself presentable with the utmost haste.” Her father did smile then, but there was nothing warm or comforting in his expression. “Doveling.” The last bit was thrown in as an afterthought. “Go.”

Dia jerked slightly, the last word releasing her from her invisible bonds. She shot past Kavin, fleeing headlong towards the familiarity of her rooms. The corner of her lip curled as she ran, her eyes burning with frustrated tears that pride refused to let fall. So this was the reason her parents had taken such a sudden interest in her. Anger stiffened her spine, gave her a fiery sort of resolve that she did not know she had. So the Lord and Lady wished to play games, did they? Dia balled her fists against her thighs, the sharp sound of fabric sliding over skin punctuating each of her steps. Her thoughts were fierce as her mind slowly began turning.

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