HISTORIES, INTRODUCTIONS NOT OF THIS
WORLD AND THE NOVELTY OF PIZZA
[Usha - Greylands]
"Drake! Where are you? Mother called us to a meeting ten minutes ago." The harsh shrieking of Princess Usha's beloved voice ripped through the peacefulness of the Fortress.
As the haggard shaman princess paced in front of the wooden door to her brother's room, high-heeled feet clicking in angry anticipation, Adelinde, her younger sister by five years, walked up to her. A single blood-red rose was clasped tightly in her tiny fingers making droplets of blood visible where the thorns had punctured her white hands.
"Usha," Adel whispered ever so quietly, a large contrast from her sister's booming, demanding vocals, "Usha, I picked you a flower today. Rose, your favorite. They so rarely bloom down here and I wanted to surprise you because-"
The door in front of them suddenly swung open, the handle catching Usha in the stomach, making her stumble back as she got tangled in her voluptuous velvet gown.
"I'm ready!" declared Drake cheerfully-a very unusual demeanor in the Greylands-as he showed off his fabulous new waistcoat and polished new boots.
Seeing his vicious little twelve-year-old sister glaring at him like the very scum she thought him to be quickly snapped him into a glum frown. "What's the matter, Ush?"
Usha was positively fuming now, her face turning purplish and veins becoming visible on her temples. You could practically hear the electric blue power crackling up and down the strands of her long pitch-black hair.
"Brother," she said, deadly calm, "Would you mind apologizing for hitting me in the stomach with the door? Me-your loved sister, heir to this drab empire, future ruler of you and your vile parasites alike. Or do you not remember? It is my twelfth birthday."
Drake nodded understandingly. Of course he remembered. It was customary that when a Royal Shaman, especially the heir to the Royal Grey, comes of age at twelve, their astral-projection abilities sharpen to full potential and they gain a power that becomes uniquely their own. He remembered his Turning two years before. It wasn't big, just a feast with all the Fortress nobles and a small ceremony. Afterwards, he stayed in solitude with a priest until they found out his Ishtar gift was just telekinesis, nothing too showy. He knew that Usha's celebration would be much grander, her power stronger, her being the matriarchal heir and whatnot. Drake didn't mind, though.
Deciding not to pester his sister on the day she gets a very strong power that could quite possibly blast him and several others into smithereens, he ignored her dramatically exaggerated personality, stared at her apologetically and shrugged. "Sorry."
Usha, still uptight, nodded curtly and briskly led Drake to the Hall of Greatness downstairs, completely forgetting about Adel and her rose.
Adel walked alone through the many stone corridors of the Fortress holding her single rose and quietly humming an old dirge. She was upset that she couldn't give Usha her betrothal gift-after all, you only get to meet your future husband for the first time once. She could just picture Usha's face when she finally met Brun, not that Usha even knew that was what mother's meeting was about. Smiling ever so innocently, Adel turned a corner and was abruptly met with the sight of two malevolent amber eyes before she collapsed, unconscious, into a heap on the cold stone floor.
The Fortress' meeting room, known as The Hall of Greatness, was the largest and most elaborate of all those in the Greylands. The midnight black domed ceiling reached so high that it looked as if one were being sucked into oblivion. Twelve high backed blood-red satin chairs sat in a semicircle along with an elegantly curving ebony half-table under the darkness' glare above. The thirteenth chair, placed facing the other chairs, was by far the largest and richest of all the furniture. Edged in pure gold and crowed atop a pile of pure Arcavai bones, it was a sight and sign of control and authority.