20: Tea Time

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Alessa poured tea from a floral patterned teapot, the hand-painted blossoms dancing their way around the pot, cerulean on cream. The amber liquid steamed and Blayre leaned over her cup, savoring the humid warmth that rose to meet her.

    Alessa's rooms as a whole had an exotic feel, as though the young woman were trying to create an environment for herself, reminiscent of the time she had spent growing up in the south. The furniture was classic and native to the Capital, but she had accented the sitting room with brightly woven tapestries and various pieces of artwork. A richly beaded curtain hung over what Blayre assumed to be the door to the bedchamber. Sticks of incense burned in one corner of the room, giving off notes of jasmine and citrus, and making Blayre grateful that summer was so near.

    "So," said Blayre. She felt as though she could recline in the cushioned chair and sleep for hours in the comfort of this room. So it was best to get straight to business. "What was it you wanted to speak with me about?"

    Alessa seated herself in a chair adjacent to Blayre. The raven haired woman trailed a golden-ringed finger around the lip of her teacup, gathering her thoughts. Alessa had changed into more comfortable clothing - a diaphanous set of blouse and trousers in plum chiffon over black silk. Blayre looked at the outfit with envy, pulling at the hem of her own uniform which seemed very stiff and constricting in comparison. Perhaps she should have taken Alessa up on her offer to shop back in Port Roubeles. She was itching to get out of this uniform.

    "Rory doesn't like Duke Lonan, and he has good reason not to." Alessa said directly. Her hand wrapped around her teacup and she crossed her legs. Dark eyes met Blayre's amber ones through thick lashes. "If it had been up to Lonan, both Rorrick and Briannon would have been sent to his holding in the South to tutor for at least a few years. Briannon went, but Rorrick's father in the Jeweled Isles refused. My father says that Rorrick's mother, Mireah, and Lonan had been intended at one time, but she met Governor de Vihrea at her brother's coronation ball and ran away with him soon after." Alessa gave a wistful sigh and then took a sip of her tea as if it were the most romantic thing she had ever told anyone.

    Blayre raised her eyebrows. This had apparently been the court's best kept secret. She'd never heard this story before, and briefly wondered if it were true, or if Alessa just had a flare for the dramatics. Ainslee would have been soaking this stuff up like a rain-saturated blanket.

    "So you're saying that one or both of them still holds a grudge?" Blayre asked. It wasn't the story she had been expecting. Not after how ominous Alessa had made it out to be.

    Alessa's eyes widened in seriousness and she nodded, "It caused a major rift in the court - the fact that Rory didn't get a 'proper' upbringing in Emares."

    "But the Jeweled Isles are part of Emares." Blayre argued.

    Alessa looked at her as if she were daft. "They're a territory. They're not the mainland. Lonan thought it was a slight to himself and to the King that Mireah only allowed Rorrick into the capital for brief times after his initial schooling. Mireah was the apple of her brother's eye. While he would have loved for her to marry his best friend, he wanted her to be happy. Happier than he ever was in his marriage."

    "Mireah didn't come in for her brother's funeral. Do you think she will attend the coronation?" Blayre asked.

    Alessa leaned back in her chair, stretching her arms behind her. "My father thinks she will. I think she didn't have enough time to get here for the funeral. Travel from the Jeweled Isles takes time by both sea and land."

    Blayre nodded, sipping her nearly forgotten tea, and savoring the warm liquid with it's hints of cinnamon and orange zest.

    "So you haven't discussed the matter with Rorrick?"

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