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Mistborn: The Inquisition


Tea and Other Things

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 21 Mar 2014

Daerra gave herself one final look in the mirror. Luckily, she had managed to avoid any scratches or bruises on her face, and the rest was covered up by her modest lilac day gown. Her hair was done up, bits and pieces styled into small braids done up in the back in an intricate knot, clipped in place by a glittering silver hair piece in the shape of a dragonfly. She'd chosen simple jewelery, a delicate silver chain, and only a few rings with smaller stones on her fingers, as was appropriate for a morning meal or tea with one's own family. [I]I look fine,/[I] she told herself, however, the assertion made her no less nervous about her upcoming tea.

Sighing audibly just to let her ladies know she wasn't entirely satisfied with their handiwork, Daerra stepped away from the mirror and brushed passed them out of the room. She was still sore and a little tired from her little adventure in the mists the night before, but she couldn't allow herself to succumb to such weakness, especially not with who she planned on meeting with that day.

She didn't have to go far. The arrangements of bedrooms in the central keep was done by rank, so while each family member usually had a choice of several different apartments, the rooms of all of Daerra's immediate family were all relatively close together.

Daerra knocked gently, and waited for the servant on other side to open it for her. As they were in the central keep, the door keeper would be one of Daerra's lesser cousins. Those of the fifth tier, though Elariels in name, were practically a separate family as far as Daerra was concerned. After all, she was more closely related to half of the other Great Houses than any of these lesser Elariels.

The door opened, and Daerra allowed herself to be ushered in gracefully, taking care to perfect her posture.

"Grandmama," she said, greeting the other woman with a bright smile and a polite curtsy. "It has been too long. I do hope I haven't kept you waiting."

Isovel Elariel's Photo Isovel Elariel 21 Mar 2014

Isovel was already sitting up. She had considered meeting her granddaughter in bed, but a sudden surge of action had her upright. Her dyed hair had been meticulously tended to, every last detail from jewel to pain immaculately applied. She was beautiful, for all she was aged, and the matron of Elariel house even managed to rise to her feet with some respect as her misting-grandchild made her appearance.

While Isovel was known for her marked, cutting appraisal of others, she kept a few thoughts deep inside, nestled near her heart like small birds. One of these thoughts rose to the surface as Daerra approached, and Isovel reflected on how so very like herself the girl appeared. She remembered being so young, so beautiful and wanted. A bit of her ached as she met the girl's bright, clear grey eyes, but the elderly woman smiled indulgently, her lace-mittened hand taking up Daerra's gently.

"Do sit down, dove. Come now, I've sent for fruit cakes, cucumber sandwiches, and even some fish pâté and toast. We mustn't starve as we chit-chat, hm?" The flaccid skin around her throat wobbled as she curled her mouth in pleasure, settling back down in the wicker chair near the fire. With all due elegance, she poured herself a cup of flowery, cured tea, offering a bone-china cup to Daerra as she filled it.

"Now, child. My birds tell me you have a thought for me, hm?" It was here that her warm, flabby smile turned sharp. Isovel knew much about the world, for all that she lived most of it in her warm bed.
Edited by Heliotrope, 21 March 2014 - 08:58 PM.

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 21 Mar 2014

Daerra kept her expression pleasant as she noted the wobble of her grandmother's flesh as they took a seat. Lady Isovel had apparently been a woman of great beauty, but Daerra could hardly imagine that now. The thought of her own skin beginning to sag and swell with age nearly turned Daerra's stomach, and she felt dread rise up behind her pleasantly arranged features as she thought of the food that would be arriving soon. I haven't eaten yet today, she told herself, And as long as I keep talking, she will forgive me if I barely touch the food.

Daerra accepted the tea from her grandmother, trying to discern what criticisms might be hidden behind those clever eyes. Had that comment about not starving while they chat been a veiled way of implying Daerra was too scrawny? "Yes," Daerra nodded, answering the question directly. Her grandmother was too quick to be fooled easily, and was one of the most well informed individuals in the Keep. "I was hoping we might discuss the escort arrangements for our ball at the end of the week." Having single handedly arranged many of the most successful marriages in Luthadel, there was little doubt that, though Isovel had passed off most of her duties to the next generation long ago, she still played a preeminent role in arranging the romantic interests of her family.

"We wouldn't want another disaster like Phyra Venture on our hands, after all. Especially not at our own ball." Daerra doubted that it would be possible for anyone to match the destruction Phyra had caused in a single date, but that wouldn't stop her from using the woman's reputation yet again to get what she wanted. "Father and Uncle tend to think they can just throw people together to serve whatever political agenda is on the table at the moment,but I think you and I both know that when it comes to such arrangements, a more delicate touch is needed."

Isovel Elariel's Photo Isovel Elariel 24 Mar 2014

No subject pleased Lady Isovel more than that of escorts and balls. Her rheumy eyes lit up with pleasure as Daerra broached the subject, and she sat up, arranging her bulk with grace and dignity as yet undiminished by age. She continued to smile indulgently at her own flesh and blood, lifting her cup and saucer in her elegantly manicured, mittened hands. Her body may have shown the wear of excess and age, but her motions still showed her upbringing. For all she walked heavily with a cane these days, she had been quite the exquisite dancer in her prime.

A soft "mm" of agreement left her lips as she sipped daintily at the small cup of fine bone china, barely leaving a hint of lip rouge along the pale rim. Her thin brows lifted as she lowered the teacup and saucer, neither utensils making any noise as she placed them with care. The mention of Phyra Venture caused Isovel's face to darken dangerously, and she sniffed with an imperious sort of expression.

She waved one of those fine, ring-laden hands at her granddaughter, dismissing the mad Mistborn. "Indeed, my jewel. I would not let our dear Aaron near her again, not without a fight." She smiled mischievously at her dark-haired granddaughter. "But you make a point regarding Anton and Alistair. Your father can be subtle, when he wishes, but the more feminine act of matchmaking has always been beyond even his grasp." Taking a breath which inflated her already copious bosom, she sighed heavily.

"I was hoping there might be time for one little soirée before the ball, sweet. I was hoping that you and Aaron might get another chance to speak with, oh, I don't know... Aldwin Tekiel, perhaps, for you? And I still have not discounted the widow Lady Mia Casuana. Poor lamb needs some comfort in these dark times..." She eyed Daerra, smiling primly. Of course the girl would have some ideas of her own, but it didn't hurt to throw out names merely to check for a reaction. Besides, anyone that Daerra turned down could be shuffled off at Claudia, if she could just pin down her other granddaughter.

"But, no. You came to me with certain names, did you not? I suppose I might waive my usual fee, at least for family." She picked up a small, slim case from the side of the table, pulling out a small kretek. She did not light it, but chewed on the end, and the scent of tobacco and clove came clearly from the little cigar.

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 25 Mar 2014

Daerra smiled sweetly as her grandmother took the bait. The names she mentioned were inconsequential, likely meant more as a test than anything else. At least, Daerra hoped that they were. Aldwin Tekiel might be handsome and well spoken, but he behaved like a buffoon, and that widowed firecracker Mia Casuana was hardly the correct choice for Aaron.

At the very least, neither of the names mentioned would be a possible choice for the upcoming Elariel ball. All of Daerra's sources indicated the same thing. Alistair and Andrew had struck some sort of deal with Ellsworth Venture, giving the powerful house a chance to repair the relationship with Elariel that Phyra had made a mess of when she killed Mikhail. While it helped that the woman herself was dead, killed by a Venture Mistborn apparently, Elariel would require more than a mere apology and the head of a harlot to make amends for the death of its beloved heir. If Daerra had her way, she would have rewarded the Ventures for their unknowing service to her, but that would defeat the point of her scheme.

While Daerra, and possibly Claudia as well, were to be bartered off to one of the higher ranking Ventures (quite likely the fop Broderick, or Nevan, the heir himself), her father apparently had other plans for Aaron, which was the reason for Daerra's visit that morning. With the Ventures and Deveauxs growing ever closer together, both Andrew and Alistair were eager to slow the coalition of the two northern juggernauts. As a neutral house, Elariel thrived when it had many factions to play against each other, but was in danger of being isolated whenever powerful alliances began to form. Rumours of an engagement between Nevan and Camille had been running rampant ever since the pair had debuted as a couple at the Casuana ball, but no formal announcement had, as of yet, been made. While Elariel would not be trusting its heir to a Venture date any time soon, Daerra's sourced indicated Andrew was still intending to use Aaron to help drive a wedge in between Venture and Deveaux. Daerra had it on good authority that Andrew was in negotiations with Augustin Deveaux to set Aaron up with Camille herself, in the hopes that the pair would hit it off and the major Deveux-Venture marriage would be averted.

Daerra intended to make sure that particular match never happened. Not only did she know for a fact that Aaron and Camille would not enjoy each other's company, she also did not trust the woman farther than she could throw her. Daerra remembered all to well those sunny afternoons spent laughing in the parlour of Keep Ewing with Camille and the other girls, Aveline Sureau and Oravelia Ewing. The warmth in Camille's smile made a dynamic contrast with the flash of cold in Camille's dark eyes the night when Daerra had handed her the information needed to bring House Ewing, and their friend Ora, down. Now, the two women barely spoke, but all the secrets surrounding the fall of Keep Ewing and Ora's disappearance hung thick in the air between them, creating sparks whenever they met.

That, in essence, was why Daerra was here. If she could make certain Aaron enjoyed his time at the Elariel ball, perhaps it would help him to forgive her. She knew it would take time, given what she had done, but maybe, just maybe, with a few well-meant gestures here and there, and a healthy helping of patience, they could go back to the way things had been before.

"You've changed everything, you know. Forever" Aaron words from that night still haunted her. "Two people are dead because of you Daerra. They're gone. Forever. Our lives will never be the same. And you don't feel anything"Could he ever really forgive her for what she had done? "And if I don't want to be the heir? Did you ever think, for a moment when you were concocting this brilliant plan of yours that I wouldn't want what you offered? No, life for Aaron would never be as it had before. But maybe Daerra could still ensure she would be a part of his new one. "You know what the funny thing is? If you would have asked just then, even after everything you've done, I think I would have forgiven you." Daerra banished the her brothers specter from her mind, trying to focus on the task at hand. If she gave into despair she would never win her brother back.

Luckily years of training and discipline allowed her to improvise and keep her cheerful fašade seamless despite her troubling memories. The fact that her grandmother had not mentioned any Ventures or Camille indicated one of two things. Either Alistair and Andrew were keeping their mother in the dark about their arrangements, or she was deliberate suggesting names that meant nothing until she figured out how much Daerra knew. Either way, her task was to be the same.

"A pre-ball gathering sounds lovely, Grandmama, but while I sympathize with Lady Mia's situation, I'm not certain Aaron is currently equipped to bring her out of her darkness," Daerra began after a moment of thought. As she spoke, she slowly began to sip her tea, enjoying the feeling of the fine china between her fingers, and the playful taste and heat of the beverage. "Especially after the Casuana ball. I'm afraid he's taken Mikhail's death quite hard, as we all have," Daerra allowed her smile to waver and her expression to darken. She wanted her grandmother to think Mikhail's death had affected her deeply, but that she was strong enough to keep her sorrow in. "I was thinking someone a little more lively and upbeat might help to cheer him up and breathe some motivation back into him."

Daerra took another sip of the tea, using the moment to size up Isovel, searching for any hidden motivations or desires behind those mysterious eyes. Unfortunately, the moment was gone all too soon, and Daerra found herself nonE the wiser. "The 'little birds' are saying my father intends to set Aaron up with Camille Deveaux. While Lady Camille has excellent prospects, I do not think she is a good match for my brother, and worry that his melancholy will increase if the evening goes poorly." Daerra looked down into her cup, avoiding her grandmother's gaze. Isovel Elariel loved helping people find love, and Daerra was certain her grandmother would be more likely to agree with her suggestion if she thought Daerra needed her aid. That meant she needed to show a little bit of vulnerability, but just enough to be convincing, any more and it would come across as false.

"With these concerns in mind, it was only natural that I come to you, Grandmama. You can help me to help Aaron, can't you?"