Discovery And Decisions

Main Hall of the Mithendair Estate

The main hall is wide, stretching like an expansive square with polished white terrazzo flooring and walls covered in light buttery stucco, an alabaster frieze of honeysuckle running across the middle. After the doors, an arrangement of white and cream lilies in a wide porcelain bowl upon a long, oiled mahogany table with cabriole-legs, greets occupants and visitors. A setting of dark olive upholstered couches and two large leather armchairs circle a low oiled-oak table are placed further in, backed by a squat cabinet filled with a collection of Elohai literature. Wide windows in lancet-style and the glass-panes sashed with iron fluted bars painted white are draped with the heaviest of pale yellow damask. Archways with fluted edges reveal dark glimpses of the quarters in the west and east wings, a hint of an ornate dinner table with six high-backed chairs in one and the sharp glint of glass-paneled wine cabinets in the other. Long russet carpets are laid on the route towards the glass-paneled doors leading into the Courtyard. Flanking the doors are two beech-lined staircases winding upwards into the private rooms of the manor.

Seated upon a leather armchair is a stately Elohai woman, dressed in rather practical riding garb of dull grays and browns, her clothes stark and gloomy against the opulence she is seated within. On her lap is a stack of letters and rolled parchments and more of that are piled in a wicker basket placed on the table in front of her. She appears engrossed in her work, occasionally a slim finger would curl up to push a strand of graying honey-blonde hair behind a tapered ear.

A deep breath is drawn in as Aranvar steps into the doorway. In one hand, he holds a small locked chest, the other hand empty, clenching nervously at air as he enters the manor, taking in the furniture and decor in quick small glances quite furtively as if he is not wanting anyone to notice his entry.

Anyone, or especially his grandmother seated on the armchair.

"You can sit." Rosalia's sharp voice rings out towards him, her tawny eyes focusing ever only on her letters and not at all regarding her grandchild once. "Surely you do know how to sit, do you?"

The matriarch clicks her tongue slightly against her teeth, sarcasm not withheld. "Or that you have sea legs?"

That is a terrible insult to give to Aranvar and his lips twist like into an angry pout, a disagreeable habit from his childhood. He takes large strides around the couch and chair, coming to the seat just an arm's distance from his grandmother.

"No." Came the curt reply, as sharp as her comment was. "I can walk quite properly, Grandmother."

She shrugs one slender shoulder and now deems her grandchild a scathing glance. "And did you find treasure?" Rosalia asks, her fine-drawn brows quirking upwards and her eyes slightly ever narrowed at him before immediately interjecting: "Or have you bred treasure somewhere in these five years you are gone?"

Quick to catch back a frustrated sigh, he sweeps up the chest by his side and puts it on the table next to his grandmother's pile of papers and letters. "Yes, and no." He puts a copper-toned hand on the top of the wooden chest, his brows too coming together in a very serious frown and uttered each word slowly and bitingly : "No, grandmother, you will not be seeing any great grandchildren."

"Well, good. I do not expect you to be breeding any bastards." Rosalia stitches her fingers betwixt each other, resting her elbows on her knees as she comments dryly, her interest slipping to the chest her grandchild has placed on the table. "Although I am surprised you actually found something of worth to show to me?"

"There are four others, plus this. Five pieces of treasure, grandmother." Aranvar flips the metal latch of the wooden chest excitedly, now like a little child showing off his secret stash of riches. With odd caution, he opens the case and turns it towards Rosalia.

Rosalia's eyes widen but quickly returns back to their calm, cat-like slits. "A spirit pearl?" She does not reach out to touch the gleaming orb though the object's pulsing fires of blues, violets and greens seem to capture her attention. Then, she questions, a little skeptical of how he acquired this treasure.

"Did you rip this out of a mermaid, Aranvar?"

"Ripped?" The blonde youth snorts barely and leans away from the table, his arms crossing against his chest. "It was given. The creature was dying and it asked us to take it."

Rosalia laughs, an acerbic quality to her mirth. "Thus by luck and not by aptitude again, Aranvar." She shakes her head once though she does not seem at all disappointed by this treasure he acquired. "When will I see some capacity in you, grandson? Some capability perhaps that you have that in you to achieve beyond what Lady Luck provides out of her right hand?"

"If I am put to a real test." He retorts just as acidly and his features stiffen, a cold expression sliding over lips and eyes at her thinly veiled insults.

"A real test?" His grandmother's smile vanishes and she leans forward, a sure sign of her interestedness at what her grandchild just uttered. "You wish for a real test? There is one right now in this place, Aranvar."

"The nation lies dormant with none at its helm." Rosalia speaks straightforwardly, her hands reaching in gesture towards what lies beyond the windows of the manor. "None. The Houses do not fight in fear of the poor omens received in the recent years you went missing, and that the Goddess Cersei is unhappy with her children."

"The one who is able to bring back Cersei's favor, Aranvar." The woman notes keenly, keeping her bright, tawny gaze on her grandchild. "Would be the one who will speak for Eldestra next."

"Cersei's favor?" The question lights upon his tongue and Aranvar frowns. That is in the realm of those druids and shamans who held council in the Sacred Glade, a place that makes him nervous and he never truly understand that connection Elohai have with the forests and nature. It would be very much akin to those sentimental far flung Elves from Irrybis who would be pining for leaves and twigs.

"If she liked seaweed, I could get tons of that…" He mutters loudly under his breath to himself though the spoken thought is picked up by Rosalia and silenced with a sharp click of her tongue.

"Ashkera is planning to do just that." Rosalia settles herself back into her armchair, her lithe body not making any dent on the leather surface.

"He's not dead?" A startled look slips over Aranvar's features now that he regards his grandmother with genuine surprise.

"Of course not." Rosalia snaps, shaking her head in exasperation at the innocence Aranvar is displaying about Ashkera's return. "Why would he be dead? So you could have the position of Mirtoa? My, my, grandson! You are one naive fool!"

The matriarch straightens her shoulders and exhales barely. "Cersei, goddess of druids and shamans, protectress of nature and all of nature's children. The Lady Vydien of long ago was her Heirophant, her priestess. If she was still with us, then it would be easy to regain the goddess's blessings."

"If you wish for a real test, grandson. Then search for the favor of the goddess and bring back the blessings to Eldestra." Rosalia murmurs, her slender fingers arching over the two arms of the chair she is seated in.

"Find one who would be able to Speak to the goddess and ask for her return. Bring the blessing back and you will be Speaker of the Elohai."

Rosalia finishes her instruction and draws a long, green-gold glance at Aranvar expectantly.

"How do I know who?" The blonde youth appears a little taken with the test that his grandmother has set him. Ashkera being alive - that is a threat. The very sound of the name drew his fists into a clench. There were deeds that he will not forgive that person for and that Ashkera's ambition to become Speaker and govern the Elohai lands set in Aranvar, a tenacious drive to wreck the former Mirtoa's plans.

His grandmother closes her eyes, reliving thoughts, recalling something faraway, some prophecy therein inscribed on pillars in the Sacred Glade when she was there as a young druidess.

Her eyes remain closed as she now speaks : "Find the path of red roses and the ice-white stag. Then you will find the one who will bring Cersei's blessings back."

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