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Ah, but even if such events could sometimes shine as bothersome, none were ever so eloquently decorated as the duchess’s manor. I remember driving up in my carriage, admiring the brightly glowing lanterns and beautiful gardens that we passed. While it may have been routine, I could still never get over how beautifully exquisite the architecture of the old house.
The evening of that event started out as any other. Ladies and gentlemen of the court laughing amongst themselves, drinking wine and enjoying banter. I even had a chance to talk diplomatically with a good man of Leostonnia. Nothing overly spectacular happened for a good portion of the night.
And then, a new guest arrived. A lady of high esteem, no doubt, but significantly lower in terms of title compared with the other nobles of the court. As one of the counsel, and our own city hosting such an event to which the men and women gathered, I, along with the duchess hosting the event, came to greet the stranger.
“Pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Lady Alyar Iris Iza Draekus of Brysur,” The woman, Cecelia, said to the other girl, shaking her hand in greeting. “I am most honored to have you. The name’s Cecilia S. Wyvenhower.”
Lady Iza curtsied, and thanked Duchess Wyvenhower for the invitation. I meanwhile examined the lady’s posture. Although her movements were delicate, precise, she executed them with certainty, with a boldness I rarely saw in the esteemed ladies of the court. Truly an oddity, though perhaps a value rather than a peculiar.
I remember hearing of the great lady. From what I knew, she had recently become the owner of a trading company off of Brysur. I knew of the company, as it frequently did business with Anthropinos. But he had never seen the woman up close.
She, although certainly seeming to be wealthy, did not display the same over saturation that many of the other ladies who attended that day’s event did. She wore a nice dress, woven of silk and other rare jewels, but it was humbled by the fancy gold and silver gowns of the others. Even the duchess Cecilia’s gown outshone hers.
But what her attire lacked in grandeur, she made up for in her movements. I would approach her, offering a hand, and a gentlemanly smile, “Good tidings, Mistress Draekus. ‘Tis my pleasure to meet you for the first time. I am Nerevar, royal treasurer and 3rd representative of the counsel.” I remember, even now, her eyes. They glowed like the moon and stars, an icy blue that one could lose their soul in. The way her hand felt soft to the touch, gentle get firm, determined.
“The pleasure’s all mine, Lord Nerevar,” That voice. Oh, I’ll never forget that voice. The way it slid like honey from her lips, moving through my ears like the sweet cries of the morning bluejays. Such dignity, yet freedom, that hid behind that gentle, womanly tone of hers.
And don’t think I forgot about the rarest oddity of them all. After her introduction, I noticed something around her neck I had not spotted before. At first I thought my eyes deceived me. But then I realized it to be true. The yellow glow of a moonstone, bright and magnificent in its grandeur. I had only ever seen the rare blessings of the moonstone perhaps once or twice in my lifetime, held in captivity of only the highest ranking men of their kingdoms and cities.
Such as fate that a girl of her standard should arrive there tonight, and that I would have the honor to speak with such a fawn.
“Would you give me the honor of showing Your Ladyship around, mistress?” I asked her, extending a hand to the ballroom, gently holding hers in my left.
“It would be a grand delight,” she said with a small smile that would seize children’s tears.
Being granted the opportunity to rejoice in her company, I led the woman through the homestead, offering a short bow and thanks to Lady Wyvenhower.
As we walked through the halls, sometimes going through large crowds, sometimes walking the hallways alone, I would come to get to know this mysterious woman, but only in the back and forth dancing of political figures at a formal accompaniment.
Each turn, I would tell her about this manor’s history as best I was able, and recount the history of Anthropinos, and Lady Cecilia. All the while her queenship would listen intently, as if no other word mattered more to her.
Then, as we headed back to the ballroom, as know doubt the formal dances were about to begin, we would start to discuss pleasantries, the lady recounting her own life as I told her about mine.
“You know, Lady Iza, if I may be so bold, I was not aware your company would be such a delight until this night’s past hour,” I recounted to her.
She gave me a sly smile in return, like that of a vixen that had just spotted it’s prey, “I am a mysterious animal, to speak the least. Though I do not blame you for your shortcoming. My rise to lead was quite sudden, and I have only done secluded business in Anthropinos.”
“You do intend to come by more often, do you not?” I inquired.
“Of course. Are you suggesting business with the counsel, my lord? Such would do me a great honor to see you again,” Alyar responded. I saw her move her delicate hand to her bosom, touching the moonstone necklace, as if a sign of content.
“I would so suggest, My Lady,” I said with a smooth tone, my hands held behind my back as I walked beside her. “But alas, I know so little of thee. Why not grace my ears with some words of your presence here.”
“Grace you? Why of course, if it would excite you to here of my humble beginnings,” The lady said with a slight chuckle, holding both her hands by her stomach in a state of rest. “Ah, well, to spare the details, I was but a young farm girl, to a humble farmer, and caring housewife. I became the woman you see today when I migrated to Brysur, and began working for his late Argyor, bless his soul wherever he may be now,” the woman said, once again holding the moonstone, as if praying.
“Were you close to him?” I inquired.
“Little, but he was an honorable man, and his death shook our company. I am proud I could sustain his dreams and bring about the progress we have now.” She said wistfully. I admired her heart. Such a pure girl, voice of heart, yet full of hardship. A rarity indeed.
“And thou?” She asked, “Why not tell me of yourself?”
I cleared my throat, and dipped my head, “Of course, My Lady. I wouldn’t dare hold you captive from the details. I will not lie, my beginnings were not as such origin. I was born into nobility, but worked nonetheless harder to achieve my position.” I explained. She nodded, an understanding in her eyes that I didn’t expect to see.
I could not explain it, dared not to, why I was so entranced by this woman. She intrigued me. Our conversations continued a bit like this, until we reached the ballroom. I noticed that the music had begun, and there were several people dancing. I myself offered a hand to the mysterious Lady, and asked, “May I have this dance, Lady Alyar?”
She smiled, “You may, Lord Nerevar.”
That night, we danced, and we danced. Our feet moved across that marble floor like swans soaring through the skies of our great land. We flowed through the crowd, twirling and moving, like acrobats, like the current of a wild stream. Untamed, unrestrained.
Being with this girl, she danced as she behaved. Although she moved with delibrecy, she emitted a free air to her, almost inhuman in that way she danced across the grounds. It exhilarated me to the highest degree.
It felt as if time stood still, like we were the only two people at that dance, despite the several dozens around us. I even had the honor of hearing her laugh. It was a brief moment of her betraying herself, a glance at that tiger hidden behind the delicate fond.
After our masquerade, I managed to be separated from her. I did not worry about such behavior. Surely our interactions must have exhausted her. Though I did regret not being able to talk with her further, as I was pulled away by another man of prestige from my own counsel. It was not until later that night, and as the guests were beginning to dismiss, that I spied her again.
I approached her, taking her by the hand, and offering a kiss, “It was a great pleasure to meet you, once again, Lady Draekus. I can not wait to do business with you.” she accepted the kiss to her hand with a mild smile and half closed eyes, almost amused.
“And you, too, Your Lordship. I’ll be sure to see you again,” and with that, I watched as she departed, heading out to her carriage, guarded by a single armed guard, and pulled by a black stallion.
Truly a night that I would never soon forget. And surely not my last encounter with such a woman.
You hide jealousy in the depths of your goodwill
Alyär Iris Iza Draekus
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