Everglow City, Platinum Gardens, House Sabre.
There comes a time in every fathers life when his son becomes the man and he becomes the old man. The time when your strong arms are no longer needed because he has his own. The time when he believes he should begin taking care of you. The time when he makes you completely obsolete. I am Lord Henriik Sabre and my son is about to marry. My son is about to produce heirs for my great house. My son is taking my place. Many people have bemoaned me over the years for not making him marry sooner. Thirty looms, most men would be married with several heirs born by this point, but not my Titus. I told people and myself that I wanted him to get the best education, that he was too strong willed and refused or that I wanted him to experience life without the pressure of being the heir of House Sabre. It was all a lie. I was not ready for him to begin chipping away at my power. The carpenter may take his boy to his workshop and look on lovingly as he develops his craft, proudly he will one day step down and allow the boy to take over. When I look at Titus sometimes I feel the love, I feel proud and safe in the knowledge that he will be able to traverse the viper filled senate with ease. Then sometimes I see competition, I see a little bastard who is going to rip all I have worked for from my hands. The father and lord within me are at odds. Alas, the father must win or the lord will be left with nothing. I must be a father.
Then there is my daughter....
Standing on the balcony of her quarters Attia Sabre looked out at the morning sun. It had not long risen and would be the last time for four whole days.The Everglow Festival was here. The city below was abuzz with activity. Large wooden scaffolds were being hurriedly taken down by drapers who had covered the rooftops of Everglow with silks and other luxurious cloths. Pageant stages were being set up, drink and food booths stocked, store fronts scrubbed and decorated. The festival was loved by the people of the nation. Travellers from far and wide would come to see the spectacle that was on offer.
"Quite a sight." Henriik said as he slowly walked onto the balcony. For a moment with the sun obscuring his vision Attia looked exactly like her mother. That thin silhouette, long black hair reaching down her back like tree branches in the moonlight. Attia closed her eyes and sighed inwardly when she heard her fathers voice. Turning to face him she smiled.
"Indeed. Tis a great time for our city." The response was formal and befitted a conversation with strangers. But they were father and daughter. Henriik walked over to the table that Attia had been taking breakfast on and saw it, the reason he was coming to speak to her. The Glow, a newspaper that was popular in the city, was sitting there. It had a piece on The Emporium. The Emporium was a luxury store that had opened last month, it was a resounding success on all accounts. There was just one problem, Attia Sabre was not the one being congratulated in the paper, her father was. Attia has used her own money to establish the business but nobody believed that she was behind it. It was surely the word of Henriik Sabre who was using his daughter as a gimmick to get ladies to shop more.
"When I was in The Tropics I took the time to go through the records." Henriik said at last picking his words carefully. He knew his daughter to be the thorned rose that she was, very prickly indeed "I have come to apologise to you."
Attia turned around slowly, when she moved it was not like other people. She floated, grace, elegance and dignity simply oozed from every part of her body. She had not expected this "For?"
"When I would visit you there the clerks would all rave about how great your mind for business was. I always assumed that you had just put pressure on them or that they were vying for approval. I never thought that you were there elbow deep in the business of things. Then I saw the records. Your penmanship is everywhere. You signed off on things, you bartered, you made deals and ended deals...you ran The Tropics." He could see his daughters mind hard at work. Very occasionally she would nibble at the inside of her lower lip when bothered. It was her one remaining tell from girlhood. The matrons of wifecraft usually ironed out all of a ladies quirks, habits or twitches. But every lady had something one little thing that simply refused to be forced out. Attia's was the lip nibble "I educated you like your brother, as I was educated. I have been a fool to treat you like the silly girls of other noble houses. My heart is heavy with regret for not seeing you as you are for so very long."
Taken rather off guard by this most unexpected outpouring Attia took a breath and cleared her throat slightly "I am glad that you no longer believe my work to be the fancies of a silly girl. Alas, it matters not. Nobody would believe that I did what I did in The Tropics just as nobody believes that The Emporium is mine." Henriik noticed that his youngest child wasn't quite the blazing fire she usually was, she seemed deflated and it stung him.
"I will write to The Glow and tell everyone I meet that The Emporium is yours." He said insistently as he moved toward her.
A small laugh left her "How kind but it would achieve nothing. They believe what they believe and there is little I or you can do about it. One must look on the bright side. Business is good, the ladies of the city are lining up for new gowns and The Emporium is the place to be. It could be worse. I wonder...if it failed would you still insist it was my doing or would you accept that to?" Her eyes were on him. Curse those eyes they watched for everything. Black holes. Henriik opened his mouth and then closed it. He put his hands to together and nodded. Attia turned away and continued looking out at the city.
Below, Titus Sabre emerged from the house and walked over to the stables. An accomplished horseman he took great pride in the upkeep of his steeds. The servants were used to the fact that Titus liked to groom his own horses so they were not overly startled by his presence at the back of the house. There were two sets of stables, one for best and one for everyday use. The best stables were around the side of the house and were only used when there was some kind of function at the house. It was tradition for men to show off their horses to their guest and these stables were more luxurious than a lesser nobles whole estate! So as not to fill them with horse filth the creatures were kept in wooden stables on a day to day basis. His white under shirt was open exposing some of his chest, he wore old boots and trousers. Brushing at the horses he was trying to fight back nerves. He was to marry a girl he did not know, who was a member of a house he did not like and he had little say in the matter. In his mind he was running over the wedding ceremony, it had to go perfectly. If he spilled a drop of the sacred water or stumbled ever so slightly tongues would wag that the union was cursed by a spirit of mischief. It was going to be a gruelling week for him and his wife to be. Everyone would want to host the new couple and show their respect to both houses so they would be carted around and put on display for all to see. They would not start their married life for many days after the wedding not even sharing a bed. This was business and they had an image to sell. For the coming days the couple would be the figure heads of their houses, all eyes on them. They were representing on the grandest stage of them all. Only the greatest of houses could afford to marry during the festival of Everglow and there was fierce competition to put on the best show of all. People still spoke of weddings that took place a century ago, there was even a subject of study at the university on wedding ceremonies. Though the thought of it all made him uncomfortable he was a noble man of House Sabre and they were going to put on the best show the city had ever seen.
The horses all began to act nervously at the same time. Titus tried to sooth them to no avail. Glancing behind him he saw a huge black cat, a panther. It was lazily making its way outside.
"Attia! What have I told you about letting the bloody cat near the horses!" He shouted up to where he could just about see his sisters balcony. After a moment she appeared and poked her head over the side.
"Leave Cleopatra be. She does not eat horse, she likes live babies." Attia shouted down to him "I say, you should be preparing for the big day not playing with those foul smelling beasts. Is it wedding nerves? If you like I can get a ship ready and you can run off into the night."
Titus shook his and grinned up at his sister "On the contrary sister I am looking forward to filling my new bride with my seed and making you third in line to our great house."
Attia scowled down at him "Cleo, darling come up here away from that peasant." The huge black cat with dazzling golden eyes trotted off to find her mistress. It was common for high ranking ladies of The Tropics to have big cats as companions. They were tamed by specialists just as the elves from Elfwood tamed various beasts for sale. What most people did not know was that they were guard cats and were less than tame if their mistresses were put in danger.
Titus watched the cat go, its mystical golden eyes were a sight he could never get used to. Both stunning and terrifying at the same time. Sighing he sat down on a small wooden bench and prayed quietly to himself that Aradia would calm his wife to be, that she would let her know that Titus was not a cruel man and that she had no need to fear him. He did not want her to feel the same way his sister did when she was dragged off and tossed into an old man's bed.
"My sweet Lady of the water. I pray unto you to provide us with happiness."
A large fleet of ships had left Everglow docks four days ago. The journey out of Everglow was a horrible one as it always was. Tiny islands planted around the sea were seemingly there simply for the sake of making navigation all the more difficult. Luckily once through these choppy waters it was not long before the calm blue oceans of The Tropics appeared. The ships were a mixture of sail controlled and oar controlled. The plan was to stop off at The Tropics to pick up additional supplies and reinforcements and then start the journey to The Untamed Isle. Sitting on a golden beach as the expedition prepared Reynis, the dark elf who had a hand in this whole thing, looked to her left to see Zestia snoring softly in the sand. The ship they had been on was rather full with people and they had gotten know each other a little "Your brother has gone inland to visit friends and family, are you not intending to do the same?" she asked the other woman who opened one eye.
"Love, if they want to see me then they can come here. I ain't walking my feet raw only to get tutted and glared at. I'm keeping my little arse right on this spot until we are ready to leave." Zestia was a hand of House Sabre and was no stranger to travelling by sea. She lived a loose and carefree life that was alien to Reynis, Reyn, who had spend her life among The Silk Strider's an elite group of elves dedicated to keeping the forces of the ancient spider queen's out of Silkwood, and away from Elfwood City. Reyn had the gift of sight and could sometimes see glimpses of what was to come. It was this talent that brought her here today. An Isle far off unconquered by the nobles of Everglow teeming with the forces of The Void, demons. An expedition had been set up to travel to the Isle and here they were a collection of all sorts of people looking for adventure or coin or escape.
Many of the people on the expedition had never left the mainland and were awestruck by The Tropics. A tropical wonderland where the flowers were larger and brighter than any they had seen. Where the locals were all brown skinned and beautiful. A pit stop at paradise before their arrival at the open jaws of The Void.