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Deb Howell, 16 Jul '12

“Do you like Gaemil?”

“Of course, I do,” Anya replied, almost too quickly. They had reached the door to her suite of rooms and she pushed the door wide open. Inside was a huge bed, covered in pillows and luxurious cream sheets and blankets. Llew only had a single bed in her room. Anya’s could have slept five.

At the sound of the door opening an attendant appeared from an adjoining room.

“I am going to give Llew one of my dresses to wear tonight, so let’s find her something gorgeous.” Anya instructed the woman, who smiled and crossed the room to another door that opened into yet another room that was filled with nothing but dresses and shoes and undergarments.

Hang on. Llew thought she’d been coming to help Anya pick a dress. She realized she’d been ambushed.

“Isn’t this fabulous?” Anya’s whole face sparkled. “All I could ever want and more. I am such a lucky girl.”

Llew had to agree.

Anya flicked through the garments her assistant brought out and, after a moment of focused study of fabric and form, she returned to their conversation. “I admit I was disappointed,” she spoke quietly so only Llew would hear. “But he’s lovely, isn’t he?”

Llew nodded and smiled as reassuring a smile as she could manage. She didn’t know if polite conversation over lunch was enough to judge a man by.

“He has nice eyes.” It was almost a question, and Anya’s eyes pleaded with Llew to agree.

That, Llew could do. “He has lovely eyes.” Anya pressed a dress under her chin, her head tilted as she assessed its colour against Llew’s skin.

“Hmm.” She put the dress aside. “I just hadn’t pictured him . . . like that.” She bit her lip.

She turned away from Llew’s understanding look - perhaps she had let a little too much pity show through - to grab another dress to hold up before Llew. After a quick assessment, she waggled the garment: try this one on.

Llew looked for somewhere to dress and Anya laughed. “It’s not like you have anything I haven’t seen before. You’ve been passing as a boy too long, Llew - happy to share a room with the boys, but too shy to dress in front of me.”

Llew turned away to shed her dress, which she needed Anya and her assistant’s help with anyway, what with all the clips and ties. “I suppose ‘balding’ and ‘portly’ aren’t the first words that come to mind when you dream of your future love, are they?” She started to pull the new dress on, but looked over her shoulder when a reply failed to come from Anya.

Anya was almost beet red and she flicked her head towards the assistant. Oops. Llew supposed they shouldn’t have been discussing the lord’s shortcomings in front of his staff.
“But he does seem very nice. And you’re right about his eyes.” Llew whisked the dress over her body and turned to face Anya’s critical eye.

“No, this one won’t do. Let’s try another.” Anya turned back to the pile of dresses the assistant had brought out. “So, who will you go with?”

Llew pulled the dress unceremoniously over her head. She would go with Jonas if he would have her, but she didn’t know if he was the dancing type. Then again, neither was she. Alvaro seemed like the most simple choice, but there was something holding her back from saying so.

“Jonas must really like you.”

“What makes you so sure?” Llew asked, laying the dress on the bed.

“Well, you’re still alive for a start.” Anya held yet another dress up to Llew. “You really don’t know anything about the history of the Kara and Aenuks, do you?”

Llew shook her head.

Anya signalled Llew to try the dress on. “Let’s just say, the animosity between the races goes back further than recorded history,” she said as Llew took the dress and began pulling it on. “The exact details were lost centuries ago. The story of how it started would depend on which side you talk to. But it’s been that way since the days of the Immortals.”


“They were an immensely powerful race. Powerful and cruel. Just because they could, they took control of nations and treated ordinary people like animals. Worse. They were like Syaenuks and Syakara combined . . . Well, they _were_ Syaenuks and Syakara combined. Until someone discovered the magic to bind their children as one or the other.”

“How do you know all this?” Llew asked as she finished pulling the dress over her head, and let it fall around her.

“I read, Llew.” Anya smiled. “That one’s nice. Turn.” She wiggled her finger in a circle and Llew did as she was told. “Gosh, I wonder if Immortals could return. For instance, if you and Jonas were to have children.”

Llew levelled a flat look at Anya, but the girl was seriously considering the possibility.

“Anya, do you know where babies come from?”

Anya’s cheeks coloured and she nodded.

“Well, it’s messy, noisy, smelly, and people make the silliest faces.” Anya paled. “Jonas and I are friends. I mean, I like him, a lot . . .” Llew almost lost her train of thought, but shook her head clear. “But just the thought of seeing him like that . . .” She made a face and Anya looked sick. Llew realized she was probably picturing Lord Tovias in the throes of passion - ew! Why did Llew have to think it, too? Still, Anya was to marry the man, and would likely be expected to bare his children. “Sorry. I didn’t mean— I’ve heard many girls say they like it. Usually when they’re being paid to— But I’m sure it’s different when you love the man. I mean, there was this Cat I knew in Cheer who said a woman’s enjoyment had less to do with how the man looked and more to do with how he made her feel . . . And, since Gaemil is just lovely, I’m sure . . .” She let her voice trail off. She’d said too much and was only making it worse. Anya’s attendant just stood there, staring at her, mouth half open.

“I think . . . I think that dress will do. Wouldn’t you say?”

Llew nodded agreement at the flushing Anya.

Comments · 2

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  • Deb Howell said...

    Since I _still_ haven't managed to sit down and right a short piece especially for Burrst, yet, here is a rather fun (I think so, anyway) scene from the WiP ... The girls pick dresses before a ball ...

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Deb Howell said...

    Thanks, @Liam Volk. That's a really awesome comment. It's nice to be told I'm getting something right!

    • Posted 7 years ago