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Mistborn: The Inquisition


The Children's Table

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 01 Oct 2013

It had been years since Celia Elariel was relegated to the Childrens' Table to take her meals, but it was certainly beginning to feel like her family had suddenly reinstated the practice. Go eat with your cousins while the grown-ups talk, Celia. Let us decide your sister's fate while you make small talk over salad.

The whole world had turned upside down within two days, and Celia was supposed to make polite conversation with a pair of her cousins who weren't even on speaking terms.

Perhaps it would be a good chance to talk to Aaron. Celia had been worried about him; not only had they both lost a close family member, but now Aaron faced all the pressures of being Elariel's heir without the benefit of having been raised to deal with them. Unfortunately, she doubted she would get the chance to talk to him much. Just because he and Daerra were arguing didn't mean that the other woman would stop being possessive of him, which meant it was more than likely that this dinner would proceed in awkward silence. Having Claudia there might have helped ease the tension, but she was feeling unwell, and mourning the death of her brother besides. It was no wonder she didn't feel up to dining with her cousins.

Celia was the first one to reach the small dining room, and once inside she found she couldn't quite decide what to do with herself. She almost wished Aaron and Daerra would arrive and let the awkward silence resume, just so she didn't have to stand around in an empty dining room looking like an idiot.

Lord Ruler, this was an awful evening.

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 02 Oct 2013

Dinner! Finally something I can handle, thought Aaron as his stomach grumbled. Though the prospect of seeing Daerra at the table made him want to just have a servant fetch his dinner up to his room, he was equally scared Viridian or Winston would be there with more training for him. Honestly, despite the rockiness of their first meeting, those two certainly seemed to agree on the amount of free time they thought Aaron should have: none! At least at dinner, Aaron knew he would be safe from Winston's math and Viridian's constant supervision. Had she not been barred from the dinner, Aaron suspected she would have insisted on tasting his food. He had been eating food in his own home all his life, and he was not about to let someone else go tasting it now.

Knowing Viridian, she'll probably sneak into the kitchens and taste it for me anyways. Aaron had his uncle to thank for this Viridian free dinner. With the whole keep tense over Vivian's return, Alistair was trying to keep the gossip and flow of information under as much control as possible, encouraging immediate families to eat together in their respective portions of the keep, trying to break the factions down into smaller groups, and stop them from scheming until he knew what he wanted to do about things.

"I would advise you not to scowl so, Lord Aaron. You won't want observers to think something is wrong." Ah yes, Odairn. He was so unobtrusive, especially compared to Viridian, that Aaron had almost forgotten he was not alone. Of course, he couldn't be alone. He was heir now, which meant he needed someone minding his business at all times.

"Thank-you for your sage advice, Odairn," Aaron said, forcing his countenance into the semblance of a smile. "You are right, of course, we wouldn't want the entire keep to think something is wrong when everything is going so smoothly right now."

Odairn nodded, and kept his face neutral as he spoke. "If I might offer another piece of 'sage advice' for you, Lord Aaron, while sarcasm can be used effectively under certain contexts, I would advise you not use it against allies who are attempting to help you."

Aaron paused. Was Odairn his ally? The Terrisman was fiercely loyal to his uncle, that much was clear. Aaron remembered his father used to call Odairn Alistair's pet rat, neutered to prevent an infestation. Whether or not he was loyal, by extension, to Aaron, he could not begin to guess. Odairn had served Mikhail faithfully, and now that he was dead, Aaron was expected to step into his shoes. But he was also his father's son, and though Odairn never showed it, Aaron could not help but expect relations between the steward and his father were less than friendly.

"I'm sorry Odairn. It must be difficult for you to be away from the action. Stuck baby sitting the children while the adults decide the fate of the House." While Odairn was often at Alistairs side during many of his most private counsels, he had been excluded from this one, likely because the other nobles felt the matter at hand was too sensitive for even the most trusted of servant's ears.

"I, like the rest of my people, live to serve, Lord Aaron. Any 'action' I may desire to witness is at your side, as that is where I am required to be at the present." Aaron thought he caught a glimmer of something in the terrisman's eye when he spoke of service, but for the life of him, Aaron could not decide what it might mean.

Daerra would know, he thought. Daerra could always figure people out in an instant. Thinking of his sister suddenly filled Aaron with dread for the upcoming meal. Was he ready to be in the same room with her? Aaron did not know, but thinking about it made him want to reconsider taking dinner in his room. No, he told himself, I have to face her eventually. Might as well start now. And with that thought, Aaron waited for Odairn to pull aside the door to the dining room, and strode in, doing his best to seem confident.

Luckily, even though Aaron was already a tad late, Daerra wasn't there. She likely had some appointment out in the city she had yet to return from. The room wasn't empty, however. Vivian's sister Celia was sitting alone at the table. It's strange, he thought, Even though Vivian has been gone for almost two years, I still think of Celia as her sister. He had noticed his cousin gaining a level of independence in the years since her sister's abduction, but he still could not help but see her as a sort of side-kick to the more dynamic and confrontational Vivian. I wonder if she sees me the same way? Daerra's pawn in this massive game of chess. He wouldn't be surprised that was how most of his family viewed him, and maybe, a week ago, they had been correct. Now, however, they were dead wrong. I won't play her games anymore, he told himself, and with that assertion, he suddenly became a little more determined to succeed in his duties as heir on his own.

"Cousin Celia," he said, with a smile that was far warmer than the one he had given Odairn, "Now this is a treat, isn't it? Why, it reminds me of old times, when we sat around all together." How strange that had been, a trio of three pairs, each set of of siblings close enough to separate themselves from each other. Aaron had always gotten along with his cousins, especially Mikhail, the only other boy in the mix, but it had been clear from the beginning that Daerra was his best friend. Vivian and Daerra had never gotten along, and Celia and Claudia had seemed so much younger than them back then. Besides, they were both so devoted to their older siblings, it had seemed natural to separate into pairs. Now, he found himself wondering how much he had missed.

"I remember Mikhail used to always scold little Claudia for hiding her sprouts in her napkin, or for playing with her hair at the table. He was so serious, even then."

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 02 Oct 2013

Celia was surprised, when she heard Aaron's voice greeting her, to see that he was alone. Well, not entirely alone, but Daerra wasn't with him, which for those two practically amounted to the same thing. She stood to greet him, smiling sadly at his mention of Mikhail.

"It's hard to remember that we won't have his seriousness to keep us in line anymore," she confessed. "I keep half-expecting him to walk in here with Claudia on his arm." But he wouldn't, not ever again. And Odairn's presence by Aaron's side instead of Mikhail's only emphasized that.

"Oh, Aaron. Losing Mikhail is hard on all of us, but for you," she trailed off here; she didn't want to make it worse by outright listing everything he must be going through right to his face. "Well. I suppose we're all going through a lot, in our own ways." Her mind immediately went to Vivian, by herself somewhere in the keep, but she forced herself to think on other things. She couldn't break down, not again.

"Is there anything I can do?" she asked after a moment's recovery. She loved her sister, but there was nothing she could do for Vivian right now. Aaron was right in front of her, and she had been worried about him since that night. Comforting him was something she could do right now, and wanted to. Especially while Daerra was out of the room.

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 02 Oct 2013

Aaron sighed and sat down at the table as Odairn glided off to start serving the meal. He had forgotten just how nice Celia could be. He'd also forgotten, over the course of the day, how nice it was to speak with nice people, who were more concerned with how he was feeling than with what he was doing wrong. The sympathy reminded him of his visit to Lucille the night before. Why couldn't he have more people like that in his life. In Aaron's opinion, it seemed more important for a future Lord to be sane than competent.

"Not telling me what to do makes for an excellent start. Thank-you, Celia. Your..." Aaron trailed off, not knowing what to say. What could he say, to sum up how he felt or why he felt it? "Just, thank-you." Hopefully Celia would understand. She was trained by Aaron's father after all, though Aaron could hardly picture it. She would know how to read into what he was saying.

All right you selfish oaf, enough self-pity. He should be enjoying his cousin's company while he had the chance, not wasting time being melancholy. She's suffered too, he reminded himself. Only, when Vivian had vanished, Celia had been forced to mourn largely alone. Mikhail had been popular within the house, and mourning him at the moment was another way of showing pride in the house. No one had known for certain whether Vivian was alive or dead, and while she had acquired some allies within the house, Vivian's approval rating was nowhere close to what Mikhail's had been.

And now Vivian was back from the dead and Mikhail was gone, all within a few days. Who would people side with now? Would people admire and respect Aaron like they had respected Mikhail? Or would people like Daerra and Vivian step into the spotlight? Who knew, even Celia likely had more admirable qualities than Aaron himself possessed.

"How are your parents doing?" Aaron asked, not knowing what else to talk about. "They must be happy to have your sister home, after all this time." Aaron leaned back in his chair, and ran his fingers across his head, feeling the phantom curls Odairn had forced him to chop off. "I can't imagine what you three must be going through. Have you been to see her?"

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 27 Dec 2013

"A little," Celia said, putting on the best smile she could muster at the moment, "But not for long. It was stressed to us how important it is to let her rest and recover. She's been through so much, after all."

So much, and yet they still guarded her like a criminal. As if Vivian Elariel had suddenly turned spy for the Sureaus. A sudden wave of nausea swept over her as a darker idea came to mind once more, and she had to silence that train of thought before she dwelled any more on that alternative. They had not given her sister to a kandra, and that was that.

"We're all overjoyed, of course," she continued, still with that fake smile. Well, mostly fake. The thought that Vivian was alive certainly made her want to smile - Lord Ruler, it made her want to get up and dance! - but there was too much else going on that just made her want to cry as well. But she would keep it together at the moment for Aaron's sake; he was going through enough right now, and certainly didn't need her going to pieces on him before they could even serve the soup course.

"As I understand it, they're meeting with our Lord Uncle at the moment, to discuss how best to welcome her home."

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 29 Dec 2013

Aaron nodded, keeping track of the movements of Odairn and the servants out of the corner of his eye.Lord Ruler, why was he seeing conspiracy in every shadow these days? He was beginning to suspect it was because the entire keep was so saturated with conspiracy, it really was in every shadow. Aaron tried not to let the sobering thought colour his face as he responded.

"Welcoming her, yes," though he and Celia both knew that Vivian was not being 'welcomed'. His uncle was not treating her like a relative returned home. Instead, Vivian was a problem to be dealt with delicately, and the whole keep knew it. "It is a shame we could not welcome her sooner, as she undoubtedly deserves." He was not sure if it was the tactful thing to say, or if Odairn would report his dissension to his uncle, but Aaron felt that it seemed right, and so he spoke anyways.

Acting on instinct, Aaron opened his arms slightly, inviting Celia to accept a warm family hug. "I am truly sorry for what your, no our family is going through. I know it can't be easy to see someone you care for suffer alone. I just hope you know that I am here for you. If any of us are going to get through all of this, I think this family needs to learn to be here for each other, so it might as well start with us."

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 31 Dec 2013

Aaron reached out to her, and before she realized she was moving, she had closed the space between them. She returned his hug with a confused jumble of emotions that threatened to overwhelm her: gratitude of course, and warmth and desperation and fear for her sister and the all-powerful love that only exists between family.

But Aaron's words somehow made it through the chaos and straight to her heart, calming the storm in a way she hadn't thought possible. Her worries were still there, of course - they wouldn't go away until all of this was behind them - but they didn't seem nearly so oppressive as they had mere moments ago. As she embraced her beloved cousin, she found herself relaxing for the first time in ages. Her burdens were lifted, at least for now, and she would relish in that feeling. How had Aaron done it? She had spent her entire educated life studying the workings of the human psyche and the heart, learning wordplay and analyzing how a simple Allomantic Push could shove someone off the brink or pull them back onto solid ground. And Aaron had done it in mere moments, with no special training, no lengthy education. Just a few beautifully chosen words and a hug.

Celia decided then and there that Aaron was exactly the sort of leader Elariel needed, whether he knew it himself yet or not. But she wouldn't think about that just now. Right now, in this moment, she would enjoy the chance they had to simply be together.

"Thank you, Aaron," she said at last, pulling away just far enough to give him a warm, loving smile. "Really, thank you. I don't think even I realized how much I needed that."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 08 Jan 2014

Daerra glided gracefully through the halls of Keep Elariel, taking care to make her movements seem effortless and her demeanor uncaring despite her inner frustration. She and her father had barely been back two minutes before he was summoned away to some secret meeting of the family's most important members to decide the fate of her cousin Vivian. She had waited with polite expectation for the messenger to invite her as well, but her lowly ranked cousin had only informed her that dinner with Aaron and her other first tier cousins was awaiting her. She could hardly believe the gaul of her uncle, to dismiss her like some child, when she controlled a faction that was steadily growing in power. It had only taken her a few minutes after the messenger had left to find out the reason for the secret meeting, after all, and she had no doubt further investigation would allow her access to everything but the most precious of secrets from the meeting. Surely her uncle had to have at least some inkling of the resources she had at her disposal, and yet he continued to ignore her.

Let him ignore me then, she told herself. His son had been indifferent to her as well,and now Mikhail was no more. She was confident that Alistair too would soon learn not to underestimate her. Thoughts of her plan and Mikhail's demise inevitably led to thoughts of Aaron. Would he be dining with her tonight? The report she had received on her way in from one of her spies had told her that Claudia was feeling to ill, and Vivian was still being held in isolation, but Celia had definitely entered the ball room. No word on Aaron, though. Daerra had largely ignored her cousin Celia, both because her relationship with Vivian (which she hated to call a rivalry as it implied too much equality), and because it bothered her more than she wanted to admit that her younger cousin had gained the honor of Andrew's personal tutelage, something Daerra, his own daughter, had never received.

Daerra smoothed any hint of concern that had crept onto her face away, and replaced it with an indifferent smile as she entered the dining room. The smile soon faded, however, as her lips refused to stay in place upon the site of her brother embracing their cousin Celia.

Why? Was it is game to make her jealous? Or was he truly replacing her, turning to Celia for solace instead. Daerra had to hand it to her brother, it hadn't taken him long to take the knife he accused her of lodging in his back and stab her with it. And Celia! It was bad enough she earned the paternal attention and grudging praise that should have been Daerra's birthright, did she have to steal away Aaron, the only person who had ever truly cared about Daerra, as well?

Despite her turbulent emotions, Daerra maintained her composure, and managed to affix a soft smile to her face. It had to be polite but not too warm, and sincere without implying good feelings. She could not let on how seeing them sharing a hug had made her feel, it would make her too vulnerable. And right now, after seeing Aaron setting her aside so blatantly, Daerra could not afford to feel vulnerable.

"Forgive me for interrupting," she said, preventing her tone from growing cold, "It is just so wonderful to see family supporting each other during these troubling times." Daerra forced a little heat into her neutral smile, and allowed her eyes to brighten as she grew close to the pair. "Celia, I'm sure it must be just awful to be out here waiting for news of your sister's fate. It seems awful of our parents to leave us in the dark. After all, if we are old enough to represent our house publicly, surely we are too old for the children's table." As Daerra spoke, Odairn entered and began directing the servants who following him in as they set the table. It would seem her uncle not only regarded them as too young to join in his meeting, he also thought they needed supervision. Daerra was not sure whether to be offended or flattered. One thing she did know was that, although Odairn was her uncle's creature to the core, he must be just as frustrated as she was to be excluded from the meeting. She could see why her uncle had done it, of course. It would not do for Nolan, or one of the other more highly ranked Elariels to know how much Alistair relied on his steward.

"Ah, thank-you Odairn. It would seem dinner is served." Daerra walked calmly over to the table and seated herself at it's head, a spot that had no doubt been intended for her brother as the new heir.

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 08 Jan 2014

Aaron was about to return Celia's gracious words of thanks when the doors opened and his sister entered. Instantly, Aaron felt his posture grow rigid as the relaxation hugging Celia had helped to bring out was blown away, like a candle flame in the wind. Indeed, the room itself seemed to grow colder upon Daerra's entrance, though Aaron knew he must be imagining that. He watched, unable to keep the hostility from his face as he watched Daerra take in the scene. Was she jealous to see him and Celia consoling each other? Aaron was one of the few people to know how Daerra really felt about their father training Celia, but had not thought about how his sister might interpret his interactions with their cousin until now. Until now... Still, he could not free himself from his concern for his sister. It was like it was built into him, like he had been designed specifically to see past his sister's many faces and care for the girl underneath.

That girl is gone. He told himself. At least, she was for now, and he could not let himself get caught up hoping she would return. He was done with Daerra and her schemes. If she was ever going to learn her lesson, it would have to be without his help, because he was done helping her.

Besides, even if he had wanted to help her, Aaron was not sure if he would know how. Daerra's act seemed perfect, even to him who knew what it was. She wasn't being friendly, but she also wasn't being cold. Aaron knew that she had spread news that they were fighting around the keep herself, no doubt in an effort to keep the true reason why he was no longer at her side quiet. And this was exactly how she might have been expected to act under the circumstances: professional, distant, yet still polite. But was any of that a true reaction to what had happened between them? She had expressed interest in reconciling more than once already. Or was it all just part of the same act that had guided Phyra Venture's dagger into Mikhail's chest?

Not trusting his tongue, Aaron said nothing, taking the seat as far as possible away from Daerra. Too late, he realized this was at the foot of the table, meaning he was directly across from her. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of switching chairs, Aaron stared sullenly at his place mat until the view was obscured by a steaming bowl of soup.

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 08 Jan 2014

Celia had just been beginning to relax when Daerra entered the room, causing the temperature to seemingly drop a few degrees. The tension returned instantly to the room, and it was all Celia could do, even with her infinite reserve of self control, not to scowl at the woman.

Daerra was a master of Elariel subtlety. Though the words she spoke were courteous enough on their own, there was no warmth or kindness in her voice. In stark contrast to Aaron's sincerity, his twin seemed to be bristling, for all she looked perfectly smooth and settled. Like a hedgehog stuffed into a silk pillowcase.

The image threatened to make her laugh, which wouldn't do - but she did channel her mirth into a perfectly sincere smile, which she directed at Aaron as she took a seat at his side. Daerra might have claimed the head of the table for herself, but who was to say which end was the head and which was the foot? Aaron was sitting down here, so she would act as though she were following his lead, summoning all of her grace and composure to act for all the world as if they two were sitting at the head of the table rather than Daerra.

"Thank you for your kind words, cousin," she told the other woman with a warm smile. "It has been difficult, but for now I am content with the knowledge that my sister lives, and the comfort offered by my dear cousins. I am confident that our fathers and uncles will come to the best possible decision as soon as can be expected, and that I will be reunited with Vivian soon."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 08 Jan 2014

Daerra ignored the pain evident on Aaron face and forced herself to focus on Celia, who seemed to be her current adversary. Aaron had sat directly across from her, but Daerra was not sure if it was to be far away from her, or so he could observe her more easily, though it was likely the former. Celia was as adept at reading a room as any soother was, a talent that was emphasized both because of the family she was born into, and the man who taught her allomancy. While her words were delivered with perfect politness, and even a hint of warmth, Daerra could see beneath the facade. Her cousin was deliberately antagonizing her, siding with Aaron as though she had some idea of their conflict, just as she had sided with vivian agaisnt Daerra before.

Could she know something? Was there a hint of accusation beneath that measured response? Daerra did not think Aaron would have told anyone about what had happened, but how could she be certain? She certainly hadn't expected him to abandon her like this. What else might he be capable. Thinking of all she had to lose, for the first time in her life Daerra felt afraid of her brother.

"We can only hope," Daerra agreed, unfolding her napkin and placing it on her lap. "I for one do not share your optimism, as I am not as confident as you seem to be in our parents. It does seem suspicious, them leaving us out of this meeting, does it not? Especially since it is your sister they are talking about, and my . . . and Aaron is the new heir." Daerra mentally cursed herself for the slip. Why couldn't she just have said Aaron was her brother? Why did she feel such hesitation when referring to their connection? More importantly, would she ever be able to call him, let alone think of him, as her brother again?

"After all, we three of all people should know best the extent to which my father values the lives of others. I think it is safe to say he will argue for what is best for him, not Vivian, and it is likely uncle will do the same. Your parents might be her advocates, but who is to say how successful they will be?" Daerra watched Odairn out of the corner of her eye, but his expression remained unreadable. She had not said anything treasonous, for everyone within Elariel knew it to be common knowledge, but what would her uncle think of her all to accurate assessment of his priorities?

"I guess," she said without pause, "Only time will tell. I'm sure we have no need to worry overly much. After all, her treatment here at home can hardly be worse than what she experienced at the hands of the Sureaus." Daerra began to sip her soup, wondering how Celia would react to finding out that Daerra had known about the Sureaus. While Celia and her parents had been told, as far as Daerra knew everyone else aside from the elder Elariels who were meeting now to decide Vivian's fate were still being kept in the dark.

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 31 Jan 2014

Perhaps directly challenging Daerra in such a flagrant manner had not been the best choice Celia had ever made. Her choice to side with Aaron in whatever was going on between the two of them seemed to have provoked the other woman in a way that even Celia had not anticipated. What had gotten into her? Daerra's feathers were not easily ruffled; whatever had her so on edge, Celia suspected that her sitting next to Aaron had little to do with it.

Then again, though she didn't know the specifics, Celia thought she had a pretty decent grasp of what was going on. Between Aaron's reaction to Daerra's very presence, her antagonistic behavior towards him and later towards Celia for siding with him, and how she couldn't even refer to him as her brother, it was blatantly clear that something had come between them. But what? Was it the stress of losing Mikhail, or had they had a falling out over their behavior at the ball? Neither one of them had represented Elariel very well that night, after all. Or perhaps Aaron, the newly appointed heir, had finally had enough of Daerra's compulsion to control him. Judging from his behavior, though, it seemed unlikely that he had deliberately declared independence from her.

In Celia's opinion, however, that was exactly what he needed to do.

Daerra's barbs stung, as they had likely been intended to do, but Celia would not - could not - let them get to her. Her training in that area had been extensive, of course - what self-respecting Soother allowed the words of others to provoke her? - and she called on that reserve of cultivated strength and practiced reserve in order to keep herself calm. She forced down the stings, the worries, the terrors that haunted her before they could touch her expression, and steeled her nerves as she should have done when Daerra first entered the room. Calm. She was calm, and nothing could displace her.

"My sister has been made quite comfortable," she said pleasantly, "and I thank you for your concern over her well-being. She has always been a valued member of our house, and I highly doubt that such capable men as our Lord Uncle and your own esteemed father would have forgotten her worth. In fact, she must be more important to them now than ever, since she can lend us valuable insight into Sureau's goals." That was true enough; even if she'd been tossed in the dungeons, as was likely, the sorts of questions they would have asked her in interrogation could lead to vital information.

"And while I also thank you for your concern for my own situation, you have no reason to worry. You know how parents are, after all; they dote and fuss no matter how grown or capable their children are. And they have enough to worry about with seeing to Vivian's recovery; if it comforts them to let them think they're protecting me, I'm happy to oblige. After all, we could all use a little comfort and reassurance in these trying times, don't you think?

"As for Aaron, I think it would hardly be appropriate to expect him to fully step into the spotlight as heir so soon. He will be expected to mourn, and take up his duties as needed, but rushing forcefully into them might be seen as a grab for power, might it not? No, he made quite the wise choice in coming here tonight, I think." She paused, taking a thoughtful drink while she let that sink in.

"I suppose they must have thought the same for you," she added, almost as an afterthought. "Surely your own father was only hoping to spare his beloved daughter that unpleasantness? Or perhaps he thought you would prefer to be here, so that you might comfort your brother in our time of need."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 04 Feb 2014

Daerra tilted her head, taking in Celia's poise, observing her mannerisms. It would seem her father had been teaching his little allomantic protege well. Perhaps Daerra could use that some how.

Already in her element, Daerra did not even flinch mentally at Celia's remarks. She could not afford to let such things touch her, not when there was so much to lose. The question was, how to respond. She could sit here and continue to trade barbs hidden by concern and polite niceties, but it was clear that Celia was more than capable of dealing with such attacks. If Daerra wanted to unsettle the woman, she would have to try something else. But did she really want to unsettle Celia? While it would be satisfying in a selfish way to prove her superiority over her father's student, there might be other more fruitful ways to make use of Celia, especially if she and Aaron were forming some sort of an alliance.

Aaron continued to remain silent, his thoughts a mystery even to Daerra, who normally had no problem divining her brother's inner most thoughts. What can I do to win him back? Daerra crushed the thought before it shifted her focus onto Aaron away from Celia. To look at him now would be to show her weakness, and she could not afford to do that in front of an adversary. At least, she could not afford to show that particular weakness. Perhaps another would do.

"You assess the surface of the situation quite accurately cousin Celia. I'm sure Lord Alistair had the same concerns in mind when he made the decision to exclude us." Odairn continued to hover in the background, storing everything that was said so he could bring it back to his master later. Daerra knew she would have to deal with the surprisingly competent Terrisman at one point or another, but for now letting him report her words and actions would serve her cause just fine.

"I'm not sure I can say the same for my father however," she continued, letting her voice slip slightly, becoming less formal. "You and Vivian are lucky to have parents who love you so much, even if their protective instincts can be a bother, however flattering they may be. I'm not sure what my father has said or done in your time together to convince you otherwise, but I seriously doubt he shares your parents' concerns. My brother is important enough to warrant his attention, both positive and negative, and likely he sees you as a means of passing down his allomantic legacy. Me, on the other hand, well, let's just say I doubt 'beloved' is a word my father would choose to describe his daughter."

Daerra stirred her soup idly, taking a small sip from her spoon in between sentences. When she spoke again, she focused on the feeling small and helpless, in the way only her father could make her feel. "I'm well aware of what our relationship is. To him I'm just a nuisance to be dealt with at some later date. He'd prefer to marry me off to some ally, or ship me off the ministry if I prove to be as unattractive a marriage prospect as he seems to think I am." Daerra kept her eyes downward, watching the patterns her spoon made as she continued to twirl it in a figure eight pattern. The ripples seemed to twist around themselves like the mists, ending only as the came into contact with the edge of her bowl.

After letting her words sink in for a moment, Daerra looked up to meet Celia's gaze, letting her voice grow hard and formal again. "But you know all of this, of course. You're an intelligent woman, and you've been trained to read an manipulate emotions by a master, so surely you can see him for what he is, or what he can be, no matter how highly you esteem him. You'll understand then, why I have difficulties trusting him when a life other than his own is in his all too capable hands. As you say, I'm certain your parents and my uncle are perfectly capable of divining what is best for your sister. My father's involvement in such a discussion simply makes me nervous. After all, who really knows what his motivations might be, or what he might be capable of?"

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 21 Apr 2014

"I daresay," Celia said pleasantly, "that no one may truly know the motivations or goals of another, no matter how closely we may be able to guess."

Of course, she could guess quite clearly what Daerra was up to: she was trying to unsettle Celia. But why? Because of jealousy over Aaron? Because of some perceived threat? Celia wanted nothing to do with the intra-family squabbling that ran rampant in their house, for all it was impossible to avoid, but Daerra probably wouldn't see it that way. Everyone was either an ally or an enemy in Daerra's mind - and sometimes, perhaps a little of both.

Perhaps that was the best way to even the playing field. Celia knew she wasn't ruthless enough to beat Daerra in the arena of intrigue, but perhaps, if she responded in a way Daerra didn't expect, it would force her to ease back on her assaults while she calculated her next move. And the best part is, Celia wouldn't even have to lie to do it.

"But enough of that for now, dear cousin," she continued. "Let's not speak ill of our kin. These are difficult times for all of us, and it does't do to bicker amongst ourselves when we should be standing strong and united."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 26 Apr 2014

Daerra continued to watch Celia carefully. Had Andrew actually managed to instill some loyalty in his protégé? Daerra supposed it made sense. In the time when Vivian had been around, Celia had seemed all too content to play second fiddle, exactly the role Andrew thought appropriate for a woman. While he probably feared Celia would not be capable of passing on his allomantic artistry, she would at least be someone he could show off to. It probably made Celia feel special, garnering attention from such a prominent family member, and receiving instruction from a true master of his craft. Why shouldn't she be loyal to such a mentor?

The only possible answer, of course, was that Celia knew nothing about Andrew Elariel.

"Yes of course," Daerra said with a cool smile. It served no purpose to push the issue further. "My apologies for forgetting myself. Family comes first, correct? 'Always an Elariel,' and all those other pretty words have to mean something, after all." She still hadn't decided if Celia was just playing it cool, or if she was more loyal to Andrew than Daerra had originally thought possible, so she would have to tread carefully until she had a better understanding of all the relationship involved.

"The soup is quite good, is it not? Odairn darling," she called over her shoulder to the ever-lurking steward, "You must give my compliments to the chef. I do hope our loving parents and dear Vivian are being treated with a similar level of care." Daerra didn't spare the steward a glance, she could see his placid expression and polite bow in her minds eye all to clearly. Odairn was shrewd player, and never gave away more than he intended to.

A brief silence fell across the table. Aaron, normally an excellent conversationalist, was still staring sullenly at his soup, barely eating. Daerra had never seen him look so... defeated? Had she placed that slump in his shoulders? Upon closer inspection, she could see a tightness about his posture, in the rigid way he gripped his spoon, and the extra force he used when reaching for his glass.

"I don't suppose you heard of the spectacle at the gates with Riordan Casuana this afternoon," Daerra started, giving into to her desire to fill the silence and avoid the feelings that were being stirred up from seeing Aaron so despondent. "He said some of the most awful things to me, when all I wanted was for him to move out of the way so I could get to an appointment in time."

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 26 Jun 2014

Celia was growing tired of Daerra's barbs. Not only was she bound and determined to give the other woman the satisfaction, but after so many years of being subjected to Lord Andrew's particular brand of subtle derision, she had little patience left for putting up with anyone else. Especially since nobody could hold a candle to Andrew Elariel when it came to getting a desired reaction out of somebody. That man could probably make the Lord Ruler himself feel inferior. It was hard for anyone else's attempts to even come close.

Well, might have supposed that the frustration born from listening to her constant barbs was in and of itself an effect that Daerra was having on her, but Celia refused to credit her with even that much.

Fortunately, she was quickly provided a convenient outlet for her vexation: Riordan Casuana. That man never seemed to stop making a buffoon of himself, as if he had made it his personal mission in life to be a permanent disgrace to his house. Then again, maybe that wasn't so far-fetched an idea. It would certainly explain a lot.

"Riordan Casuana seems to have been saying awful things to people quite often as of late," Celia remarked. "Perhaps you should have followed the Lady Eliza's example and taught him a lesson."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 20 Aug 2014

Aaron snorted in the corner, and Daerra's quick gaze caught the hint of a smile ghost across his lips. He's still in there, she told herself. She hadn't destroyed her brother after all.

As if he sensed her thoughts, Aaron's cool grey eyes met Daerra's, and any hint of a smile vanished. For a moment, Daerra thought he might say something, and thus break the silence between them. Unfortunately, he did not. Instead, he turned back to his soup, and began eating.

He will forgive me, he just needs time. All at once Celia ceased being a rival, and became a tool Daerra could use to bring her brother out of himself. If the mental image of Daerra attempting to punch Riordan Casuana like Eliza Fathvell had at the Casuana ball had been enough to lighten his mood, then Daerra could surely think of something that would have a similar effect. She had been making her brother laugh at inappropriate moments all her life, she would not fail to now.

For the moment, however, she thought it would be best to play things safe, and continue the current line of conversation. If Aaron realized what she was up to, her plan would not work. And so, acting as if the brief pause in conversation had not happened, Daerra turned back to Celia, intending to make conversation while she plotted her next move.

"I might have considered it, if I didn't think it would have only given the smug imbecile too much satisfaction. He enjoys provoking people. Perhaps he feels that if he forces others to act more ridiculous than he does, he won't feel so badly about himself," Daerra let out a tired sigh, and shook her head slowly as she remembered her encounter with Riordan. "I suppose the encounter wasn't a complete waste. He invited me to dine with Lady Casuana herself as an apology. I will have to ascertain the authenticity of the invitation before I act on it of course, but if Lord Riordan spoke truly, then I will enjoy the opportunity to share Lady Casuana's company."

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 20 Dec 2014

Daerra? Dine with Lady Casuana? Celia had difficulty imagining just how that would go. The two were practically polar opposites, and Daerra's cool, calculating serenity was probably the last thing Celia would have chosen to complement Lady Casuana's fiery, passionate temper. For all she was one of the most powerful people in the Empire, and had been born into one of the oldest Great Houses alive, the woman was about as much a Deveaux as her height was.

Though if that Lord Damien was any indication, that might be a poor comparison. Though that was neither here nor there.

"That is quite an honor indeed," Celia agreed with a smile. "Though I would be cautious. You might be shown to the dining room only to be greeted by Lord Riordan in a wig and ballgown."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 24 Dec 2014

Daerra decidedy to find it charming, rather than annoying, that Celia had thought of the obvious possibility that Riordan was full of hot air, and had seen fit to share it with the table. Celia's statement of the obvious was likely an attempt to imply Daerra would not be able to see through a charade on her own, but Daerra would not let such tactics rattle her. Celia's polite demeanor and gentle tone might fool some, but she would have to do better than that to fool Daerra. I've learned from my father as well, only I've had to fight to learn what I now know while she's had his training handed to her.

"Your concern is touching, cousin, but you needn't worry. I assure you I am more than a match for a simpleton like Riordan Casuana." Daerra turned back to her meal, taking an opportunity to appreciate her food, letting silence engulf room. She knew Aaron better than to try to get him to talk on her own. That choice would only make her seem foolish in front of not only Celia, but also Odairn, who needed to be convinced that the conflict between her and Aaron was nothing more than a charade to disguise the influence she had over him. If Odairn suspected there might be some substance to the rift between Daerra and Aaron, he would waste no time reporting his findings to Alistair, and then doing everything in his power to ensure a reconciliation never took place, so that his master could mold Aaron to his liking, as he had with Mikhail.

Daerra continued to focus on her meal, silently willing Aaron or Celia to make conversation with one another.