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The Seeress and the Stone 15
Angelia closed the door to her bedroom and walked over to the window. The courtyard below was quiet except for the chattering of birds playing tag among the bushes and trees. She watched them absently, her thoughts picturing the group moving slowly through the forest. Oh how she wanted to be with them.
“Miss?” Tiri knocked at the door.
“Come in Tiri,” Angelia replied without turning around.
“Your father would like you to come down to lunch.”
Angelia sighed and got up from the window seat and followed Tiri to the dining room.
Her mother and father were seated at the table talking about the Council Ball. In lieu of the events of the past few weeks, Angelia had forgotten about the ball.
“It is bad timing for the ball. The Council should have planned it for later in the month,” Christiana said.
“No, it is perfect timing. We planned it this way. A celebration,” her father replied cheerfully.
Angelia stopped in her tracks. If her grandfather’s banishment was a celebration than she wanted no part of it. A look of defiance crossed her face as she entered the room and sat down.
Geralde looked at his daughter twice throughout the meal. When they finished Angelia asked to be excused, but Geralde stopped her.
“We are going to the Council Ball tonight, Angelia, and you are coming with us.” His tone dispelled any arguments, but Angelia wouldn’t be cowed.
“I don’t want to go, Father. I am not feeling up to it.” Her face was determined, but Geralde brushed her excuses away.
“Do not argue with me. You are going. I have arranged for you to go with Judge Undreth’s son, Scotch.”
He spoke like he was doing her a favor and she hated him all the more.
Her mother spoke next, but her tone was softer. “I have already had a dress made for you. They are sending it up in an hour.” Angelia could feel her mother’s eyes on her, but refused to look up.
Christiana continued, “I will have Tiri come and help you dress. Young Mr. Undreth will be here at six to take you. You may be excused.”
Angelia left the table and swept out of the room.
“Geralde, you need to be kinder to her. Her life for the past eight years has just been swept away,” Christiana chided.
Angelia stopped in the hall
“I should have put a stop to it years ago, Christiana. I don’t understand what has gotten into you. You agreed with my decisions a month ago. I have put things into motion that will help our family and you are acting like it’s a crime.”
“It is good for Angelia to be back with us, but—”
“I’m not going to argue with you, Christiana. If you are so attached to the child then go and comfort her,” Geralde sneered.
“As you wish,” Christiana replied coldly.
Angelia quickly stepped into the library and through the atrium doors. She walked out into the garden. She thought about the night she had met French in the garden and walked over to the tree where they had stood. She stared absently at the tree for several minutes before she noticed something carved into the trunk. A small spot had been shaved smooth near the base of the tree and in it was the picture of a wood sprite dancing near a tree. Next to the tree were the words “To My Angel, with love, French.”
Angelia sat on the ground and slid her fingers over the carving. All of her emotions stirred within her chest. Suddenly a wave of determination swept over her. She was not going to sit around and cry! She was going to be strong! Her friends and her Grandfather and Le’Mone would have wanted her to be strong.
A plan began forming in her head. She would do all she could to keep Jord and his father safe and well informed. The Ball was the perfect time to talk with Micael and find out just how much he was willing to do. She would be strong!
She stood and for the first time truly accepted the role that she had been given. Ellinsha had chosen her, why she still did not know, but she would make herself worthy of being chosen. With this resolve she got up and ran into the house to get ready for the Ball.
* * * *
Soft lights glittered around City Hall and people walked all around the building and in the courtyards near the river. Music played in the Grand Ballroom filling each room with laughter and song. Angelia’s spirits rose as she entered the ballroom.
The gown her mother had chosen was made with several layers of soft, gauzy, silk the color of an emerald, that matched her eyes perfectly. Tiny, embroidered, white roses on the bodice and skirts danced as she moved. The bodice fit snugly to her figure and the sleeves hugged her arms in a layer of transparent silk.
Her hair was pulled off her face with white pearl combs and curls cascaded down her back. Emerald and pearl earrings dangled from her ears and sparkled at her throat. Angelia had felt a twinge of sadness as she had put the dress on, knowing that French’s eyes would have popped to see her in it.
Scotch swept her out onto the dance floor. They talked about the weather and the decorations and other insignificant things. Finally Scotch got up the courage to ask her how she was feeling about her grandfather leaving.
Angelia’s eyes misted up, but she swallowed the tears. “I miss him so much it hurts," she admitted, “but I am determined to be strong.”
Scotch replied, “My father told me about Celendar and why he was banished. I guess Jexson told him. I have heard so much about the ‘visionaries’ and none of it good. But after hearing the story, I think I am inclined to believe your grandfather though there is still room for doubt.”
Angelia looked at his face and felt the defiance burn in her eyes. She didn’t feel she could trust anyone who didn’t completely believe her grandfather, but Scotch seemed genuinely interested in the subject. Was he just saying this to gain her trust? She nodded, not willing to commit herself, after all, she was a ‘visionary’ too.
“Well, it just makes sense,” Scotch continued, “I don’t know why your grandfather would lie about this to the point that he is banished for it,” he said matter-of-factly.
“So you believe he actually foresaw the city being attacked?” she asked.
“To see the future would be a grand gift indeed. Historical accounts suggest that it could be authentic, but that is not the point. Why would he lie, unless he has something planned? He wouldn’t need an excuse to leave, he could just walk into the forest and never come back.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose he must be telling the truth.”
“He is! I know he is,” Angelia cried and then quickly looked at the floor. She was letting her temper run away with her.
“How do you know for sure?”
“I just do,” she replied carefully.
“I guess our intuition is the only way to know. He is the only one who has seen this vision so there is no one to corroborate or deny it. It does seem a bit too far-fetched. Why would a foreign army attack our city?”
Angelia could feel her temper rising. “Maybe we have something they want,” she said defiantly.
“What? There is very little our community can offer to outsiders. What little trade we do is with Oceana and other small settlements to the far south. We aren’t a seafaring people and only occasionally do we ever see merchants or even travelers from across the desert or mountains.”
“Maybe it is something that we don’t trade,” Angelia replied absent-mindedly.
“Like what? It would have to be an object of importance or power, but there is nothing in our history to suggest that we have such an object,” Scotch said pragmatically.
“Our history is full of such things, but the people of this city are too ignorant to recognize it. My grandfather knew, believed, and because he did he saw what will happen to this city,” she replied angrily.
“Why are you so bent on believing him?” Scotch asked curiously.
Angelia took a deep breath. “Because I have seen it too,” she said softly staring at the floor.
Scotch is silent for several minutes. When he finally speaks his voice is low and intrigued. “So the green eyes really are a trait of the seer.”
Angelia looked up at him in surprise, “How did you know about that?”
“My mother—she knew a lot about Viecity history and such. I think she was once a student of Celendar’s.” His eyes clouded over and his smile faded. “She used to tell me stories before bed. She had some scrolls that she would read to me. I loved to listen to her talk of the ancient people. She spoke like she knew them.” His eyes cleared and he smiled again. “I used to wonder if she wasn’t one of the forest people, like Le’Mone and French. I think she knew French’s mother. She did have similar traits, the long silvery hair and the stunning blue eyes.” He sighed.
“Do you miss her?” Angelia asked.
Scotch’s face paled slightly and then he replied, “Yes.”
“I would love to look at those scrolls sometime,” she said cautiously.
“I’ll have to find them,” he replied uncommitted.
His face became unreadable and Angelia didn’t know what else to say. Then out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of bright, red hair moving through the room. “There’s Sparrow,” she exclaimed. “Let’s go talk to her.”
She began making her way through the crowd and Scotch followed.
“Sparrow!” She called.
The red head turned and smiled. She was dressed in a stunning royal blue gown with diamonds at her throat and ears. “Hi Angelia, Scotch. How are you enjoying the ball?” Her mouth smiled, but her eyes did not.
Scotch replied, “Oh it’s fine.”
“Sparrow, who did you come with tonight?” Angelia asked.
“My family,” she replied sadly. “Jord asked me, but he had to leave.” Her eyes filled with disappointment.
Scotch jumped in, “Well then I shall escort you both.” He gave Sparrow a winning smile. She returned it with a shy one. “You don’t mind sharing do you?” he asked the girls.
Both girls laughed and replied emphatically, “No!”
They spent the rest of the evening talking and dancing. Once Angelia noticed her mother watching her. She smiled approvingly at Scotch. Angelia’s smiles momentarily disappeared. She realized just how much she missed French and wished it were him dancing with her instead of Scotch.
One tear formed in the corner of her eye. She hastily brushed it away and resumed her conversation with Sparrow. After a while she felt tired and anxious for the evening to end. Her discussion with Scotch had stirred up the prejudices and anger she felt towards the leaders of the city.
She hadn’t had the chance to speak with Scotch’s father and Scotch’s skepticism left her slightly on edge. When he noticed her marked lack of enthusiasm he suggested it was time to take her home and she readily agreed. Angelia made plans to visit Sparrow as soon as she could and Scotch escorted her home.