More necro story
Later, she rapped her knuckles on the work room door. Her mother bid her enter, so she pushed her way inside. Her mother smiled lightly and closed the dark skin covered book which must be her own Grimoire, and set it on the work table.
“Did you at least take a nap, child?” she asked.
Tyrrae nodded and bowed.
“Good,” her mother said. “We have a walk in front of us. Come with me.”
“I am not to leave the House,” Tyrrae said, knowing the rules of seclusion.
“You may if I deem it necessary. Come along, child, with no arguments. And you must leave your veil behind. No one will look at you without one, but a veil where we must go would be too inviting.”
Tyrrae followed her from the house and out into the city streets. She tried to keep her eyes downward so none would recognize her, and longed for a veil. All women wore veils until their Firstborn, and she felt naked without one.
“I am taking you where my mother took me. We needed new servants after my brother married - half the servants with him as his dowry. While Darque may bring you a few, you know that having more adds to the consequence of a House, and Darque's family is not known for our type of power.”
“There are more types of Power?”
Of course, child!” her mother exclaimed gently. "I will introduce you to the most powerful person I know, and she will show you where to go for more servants.”
Tyrrae wondered if there were many older people waiting for the kiss of death and the quick touch of the blade across the throat. Most families had a small touch of Power, and nothing ever went to waste. Those that had no power often sold their elderly when they could afford to keep them no more. When one needed a servant, one called upon the saved bones with a pinch of dried blood and ceremonial words. One's relatives only died truly when one ran out of bits of bone and blood - and by that time, few remembered anything but their name. It took a long time to happen, but most Houses were around for a long time too. Tyrrae wondered too what Power this person could have, to arrange for more servants. They approached a large building that housed a collection of shops. Mother led around to the rear of the building and a door marked only with a pink L.
“I should not be taking you to this sort of place,” her mother explained. “It is simply not proper for unmarried people to come here. Half the time, the Queen will ban or raid such places. They are horribly immoral and corrupt.”
“Please tell me more, so I can prepare myself for what I may see within.”
“Some people are not content with the spouses negotiated for them. While I am certain you will be happy with Darque and grow to love him as is proper, I am not sure your sister will ever be so content. That is why I have held off on her marriage. I fear she will seek out such a place as this, if she has not yet already. Within, love is freely exchanged without commitment or bonds of family. Any child born of these frolics is without the benefits of a Household, unless acknowledged. Physical love can be pleasurably addictive, but it only serves to distract from one’s true duties to one’s House.”
Mother led down a narrow staircase and through a short hall. On this door, the L was even larger and fluoresced brightly. This door looked solid, like a troll might be needed if they wouldn’t let you inside. Only then did Tyrrae notice the cracks in the wall’s plaster – where it might be conceivable that pieces of plaster would be easily removed from the other side. She noticed the grill in the ceiling and felt they were being watched. This place had to be acceptable If Mother was bringing her but why was it so well defended? What was this place?
Mother gently pushed on the door, and it swung open easily.
Tyrrae heard music. Delicate soothing sounds, barely audible over the constant hum of conversation. There were people everywhere- Tyrrae had only seen this many people when the whole school gathered for some important demonstration of Power or a formal punishment – the latter being more common. These people were smiling, and some even forgot themselves to laugh! Laughing publicly! Tyrrae stood still for a moment and stared. She had to be given a hard tug by her mother. There were lots of little tables where two or three people sat – sometimes they even sat on each other’s laps. And several couples had their faces so close, their lips were connected. Tyrrae did not know what to make of that at all. There were counters around the walls where several men were serving refreshments. These men weren’t wearing very much, to her way of thinking. She could see way too much skin under those leather scraps.
One wall was dominated by a large platform and had an open area in front of it. The platform held musical instruments and she thought this must be one of the oddest places for a concert she had ever been to.
Her mother led on to a small door by the platform. There was no handle on this side of the wall, but there was a bell. Mother rang. Tyrrae looked at the wallpaper. It must have been hand painted and therefore very expensive. It was a non-repeating pattern of nothing but small pale ladies with feathered wings frozen in expressions of horror. Tyrrae lightly touched the one closest to her. She could feel an overwhelming sensation of the figure begging her for mercy, to be released, to be killed outright, anything as long as the figure could be removed from that wall. She could tell a great deal of Power had been expended to create the wall.
“Very realistic,” she murmured as she took her hand away.
“Greetings, ladies,” a smooth male voice said. “May I buy you a drink?”
Tyrrae appraised him and thought he was not as aesthetically appealing as Darque. He did have an edge to his stance that made her distinctly uncomfortable. Her mother made a gesture indicating that Tyrrae should not speak.
“I’m sorry,” her mother said politely, “but we’re just here to see Lily. We do not have the leisure to spend time with those whom we know not even their names.”
He bowed his head to acknowledge this hit. “My name is Vlent,” he said, “and I will be waiting for you after your business is finished.” He bowed again, more formally, and took himself off to one of the counters.
“Such impertinence!” her mother said. “I may never understand the purposes of this sort of place, and I pray that you never shall either.”
Tyrrae nodded. This place was disconcerting. She glanced again at the room, and tried not to notice several more young men and a few young women were trying to capture her attention.
The door swung open. An older woman dressed in a casual silk robe beckoned them inside. “Miss Lily will see you in her office,” she said, and led the way.
The hallway was covered in various sheets of paper that had a sameness, but each appeared to be unique, and those nearest the door appeared quite old. There were pictures in the center of each featuring either a lady dancing or the same smiling face. The words on top seemed to be locations like The Palace at Guunstad or Owl’s Head Theater, and the bottom was a date. And there were different names in large print on each of them. It was the row upon row of smiling faces that unnerved Tyrrae. Hundreds of smiles. It was probably the most frightening thing Tyrrae had ever seen in her life.
The older woman opened the door marked OFFICE and invited them inside.
The back wall was covered with painted portraits of young men. The large wooden desk filled most of the floor space, on top of which two candles in silver candleholders burned. The bright light caused Tyrrae to squint a little, but her eyes adapted. Only then could she the woman sitting behind the desk. She was unnaturally pale with dark yellowish hair and clear blue eyes. That was startling enough to make Tyrrae gasp. But her ears! Her ears were round on top, not gracefully pointed. Tyrrae wondered what sort of accident had happened to her to clip her ears so shamefully. Nor was she wearing any sort of robe; the white and black fabric clung to each leg separately and to her figure in a way no proper robe ever could. Tyrrae could not imagine how such an outfit could ever be comfortable. She realized the frank examination was mutual.
The blue eyes sparkled with contained emotion as she examined Tyrrae. “You intrique me, little one,” the musical voice said. “You managed to connect to my angel scarelings, and no one else has ever come to my bar has ever noticed that they were alive.”
Tyrrae hid her surprise.
Her mother was less successful. “Scarelings? I have never heard of such creatures. Where?”
“On the wall. You may have felt them to be merely decorative. But I can assure that each of those flattened figures were once very energetic indeed.”
“But there must be thousands of them!” She was obviously impressed.
“There are only 859. But I try to add more when I catch them. The miners find them in the quarry where they can be quite pesky. They do not like their rocks disturbed, or to be exposed to air. They have enough magic in their systems to play havoc with the mining equipment, and any of your servants that come near are immediately destroyed. So you can see why they would be grateful for my assistance in their removal. They have little power left when I am finished with them.”
“They are empaths, as you have noticed. And I find they can amplify my singing here, whether they will or no. The songs I sing here are not suitable for the outside world, and the scarelings usually echo any emotion fed to them by the crowd. Perhaps some day you’ll come to hear me sing, hrm?”
The friendliness in the gaze was just enough to help Tyrrae relax. But then she realized that this was the same face that smiled in all of those pictures in the hallway, and she wasn’t sure how she should respond.
Lily turned to her mother. “Well, Kepress, it has been many years since your mother brought you here. It must be a bit of a family tradition, yes?”
“You have not changed at all,” Mother said. “Yet, I do see the hall is completely papered now.”
“Yes, I think I’ll fill the ceiling next. One must hold the memories somewhere.”
For the first time, Tyrrae felt her mother was actually nervous. Something about this Lily got under her mother’s skin, and that only roused Tyrrae’s curiousity. It was not polite to pry into other people’s lives though, so she merely waited and observed.
“Yes,” her mother said, “well, this is my secondborn, Tyrrae. She is brothed to Darque, second of N’Cean, and must therefore form her own House. She will bring with her three servants and whatever Darque’s family will spare. In truth, she must have a way to provide her own dowry, which she cannot gather simply hiding in the shadows of my House.”
A thin smile touched the corners of Lily’s lips. “N’Cean? You have ambitions, child! You do well for the girl.”
Tyrrae was startled to hear her mother referred to as a child. What sort of woman was this?
“What offers have you for your First, assuming she has not yet been betrothed or wed?” Lily continued.
“M’Shrak’s First, or Tenan’s Second. The girl is beginning to get ideas of her own, so I must act soon. It is not easy to see a younger sibling wed first.”
Lily nodded. “If I were you, I’d make an offer for D’ke’s Third. The girl may be insulted initially, but the breeding of Power is essential to your Line. I am not sure if the M’shrak is even fertile.”
Mother bowed her head in thanks. The Holm that Lize apparently favored was M’shrak.
Lily came around the desk and approached Tyrrae. She lightly traced her jaw line and looked into her eyes. “But what to do with this one. She has, how long? A month before the ceremony? You’ve not given us much time. That limits our options. She is glowing with new Power.” Her next comments were addressed to Tyrrae. “You’ve made your first servant just this week. Good for you! You have a supply of components with you?”
“You will need it. Hrm. Let me think.” And she turned to face the wall of portraits, as if asking them for assistance.
Tyrrae stood on the edge of waiting. This woman did not vibrate with the Power she knew and understood but she throbbed with a strange energy. Lily didn’t need servants- she simply spoke and it was so.
“You were sensitive to my angel scarelings. You have found your own Power. Yes, I think I will send you to those you call the Hated Ones. Perhaps when you return, you may tell me why you call them that.”
“The Hated Ones! But they will kill her on sight!” her mother protested.
“Will they?” Lily returned her gaze to Tyrrae. “I think not. I am willing to risk that she will come away unscathed and richer for the experience.”
“Tyrrae,” her mother commanded attention. “These Hated Ones live in the Outer World. It is a very dangerous journey and a completely different place than our Homeland. The legends told of the Hated Ones! But there is no time to go into all of that now.”
Tyrrae had turned to look at her mother. “And where were you sent?” Tyrrae asked. They were the first words she had spoken.
Tyrrae started at the sound, and turned back to Lily.
Lily laid a hand gently on Tyrrae’s arm. “My dear child, you must never be too curious about where I have sent others. I have helped many lives in many ways and do not share my secrets lightly. When you return, you may speak with your mother about her journeys, but it has been pointed out that we are short on time. Right now, all we are concerned with is you.”
Tyrrae glanced at the hand on her arm. It felt unusually cool.
“You will wait here a moment,” Lily said. “I wil have Milne pack a bag for you.” And she disappeared through the door.
“Lily is right. Where I was sent does not matter. I must give you an idea of what you are up against. A long time ago, we lived with the Hated Ones. Or rather, our King and Queen did. The Spider God came to them and taught them the myriad ways of Power, which the people rebelled against. They did not understand the gifts of the Spider God, and kept the ways of the forest spirits. Soon, the people rebelled and forced the King and Queen to find a new home. The Spider God led them here with their devoted followers to the Underdark, and here we have lived with our knowledge of Power ever since. It is said that they have changed over the millennia, but few have ever returned from exploring the Outer World to tell us of the changes.” She looked at the wall of portraits. “Only Lily goes to the Outer World often. Of course, very little there can harm her. She could tell anything, but she never says a word.”
The door opened and Lily returned. “Are you ready for you adventure, Tyrrae?”
Tyrrae was as composed as she ever was. She simply bowed goodbye to her mother, and nodded to Lily.