little backstory to a character from a joint venture.
|"Seph, are you about ready?"
The girl looked into the mirror once more, screwing up her face as she examined her reflection; she didn't mind wearing the sand-coloured clothing of the Kestalan people, in fact, she preferred them to the court dresses she was usually forced to wear....it was this pendant. She picked it up, letting it drop against her chest. She turned as the door opened, and Almera stuck her head around the door.
"Come on you, they're waiting for us in the dining room."
The girl plucked at the pendant again. "Mama, do I have to wear this? People know I'm Granpa Cadalen's, can't I just leave it here?"
Almera chuckled softly, coming into the room, and crouching down to take her daughter's face in her hands. "Seph, you're six summers now, you know that tradition says you have to wear it. And not because you're Granpa Cadalen's" she added as Persephone made to open her mouth again. "Because you're from Corianium court, and are a guest at official dinners like this." She stood up, putting an arm around the girl's small shoulders. "Come on, it'll be fun. You'll get to practice your Kestalan."
The girl screwed up her face again as she was led from the room. "But...it'll be boring!" She looked away, eyes towards the floor. "I wish Tomas was here."
Almera stopped suddenly, biting her lip. She took a deep breath, then looked at the girl. "Persephone Arcadia, that is enough of that!" The girl looked frightened as her mother's eyes flashed, and Almera felt a pang of guilt. "I'm sorry Seph, it's hard for all of us." She started walking again. "Come on, dinner time."
"I must say Cadalen, that granddaughter of your's is a bright one, she's been chatting away all night, but you say she's living in Corianium? Her Kestalan is flawless!"
Cadalen chuckled, taking a sip of his wine before answering. "Ah, but you forget Harlen, Almera is not one to forget her heritage, she's been teaching the kids as they grow up." He looked down the table, and catching Persephone's eye, waved her over. The little girl excused herself from her mother's side, and came hurrying over to Cadalen, clambering up into his lap and throwing her arms around his neck.
"Seph, you little rogue. Did you enjoy your dinner?"
"It was very tasty, though the fish was a funny colour..."
Cadalen chuckled, untangling her from around his neck and sitting her in his lap. "You Corianium lot don't know what you're missing." He winked at Harlen. "Here, this is my friend Harlen Jenkin, he's a gem mine owner too."
She got onto her knees, balancing herself, and greeted him in the traditional Kestalan style; placing her fist into the open palm of her other hand, and bowing her head.
" Kaeolas-li "
Harlen grinned, and copied her gesture. "Kaeolas-li, little one. It's an honour to meet you."
Persephone grinned up at her Granpa, then turned back to Harlen, plucking at her pendant again. "Do you make jewellery like this too, sir? Or do you make the cutting diamonds?"
The man blinked in surprise, then nodded to his companion. "She's knowledgable right enough. And I do make jewellery too; in fact, I made that pendant you're wearing."
The little girl gave a happy giggle, and sat back down on her grandfather's lap. "It's very pretty; I like purple and silver. Though onyx and silver is the prettiest. Granpa's going to let me help make one tomorrow. Uncle Jonan and Granpa are taking me to the factory."
"That'll be fun for you; very different to your home, is it not?"
She nodded vigourously. "Oh yes, it's so much hotter here! I had to have a big glass of barley water with ice in it!" She frowned. "The ice hurt my teeth."
Both men chuckled at her remark, and Cadalen nudged her in the side. "We'll just let you drink warm barley water next time then, fusspot."
"I'm not fusspot Granpa, I'm Ca...Seph. Here I'm Seph." She nodded at Harlen. "Persephone is my Kestalan name, but when I'm back with my Father I am Arcadia." She pouted. "I like Persephone better, but Father says I have to be Arcadia, because it's a Coria...Coriani...it's my Calis name."
Harlen looked puzzled. "Calis is the city she stays in." Cadalen muttered. Harlen nodded his understanding.
"Well, Persephone is a very pretty name for a very pretty girl."
Persephone blushed, and smiled shyly at Harlen. "Thank you sir, that's very kind of you."
He chuckled back at her. "You're going to be a formidable Lady of the Court one day my dear."
She nodded, despite not understanding what he had said, then yawned, quickly trying to cover her mouth and hide it from her grandfather, but she wasn't fast enough.
"I saw that Trouble. Come on, bedtime for you I think." She clambered up and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Night Granpa." She turned to Harlen. "Good night sir."
"Good night Persephone. Sweet dreams little one."
She grinned again, then jumped down from Cadalen's lap, running back to her mother to say goodnight, then out of the room. Cadalen chuckled, picking up the bottle to refill Harlen and his own wineglass. "Told you, she's a handful."
"She's a treasure beyond anything we mine, Cad. You're a lucky man." He picked up his glass. "To the future generation."
"To the future."
"That's it; now, push down on the handle..."
The little girl stood up on her stool, and using both hands, pushed down as hard as she could on the handle; it moved less than an inch. Jonan winked at his father behind her back, and put a hand on top of hers. "Come on Sephy, we can do it!" He helped her push it down, and the casing closed around the onyx, securing it in place in the middle of the pendant. Persephone looked up at her uncle with a massive grin.
"We did it!"
"That we did, sweetheart. Now, pick it up, and we'll go find a chain for it..."
She nodded once, grabbing the pendant then jumping off the stool, before holding a hand out to her uncle. Jonan shook his head, and took the proffered hand, leading her across the factory floor to the finishing room. He picked her up and sat her on the counter, then started pulling out silver chains from spools fastened to the wall. "Right then, Sephy, we need to decide what kind of chain we want to use. Is this necklace for when your Mama is wearing her party dress?" His niece nodded. "In that case, we want a fine chain..." he chose two near the bottom of the rack, pulling them out and laying lengths across the table next to Persephone. "Which one to you like best?"
The girl chewed on her thumb as she considered the items before her, eventually pointing to the one on the left. "The twisty one is nice."
Jonan smiled again, and rolled up the rejected chain onto it's spool. "Ok, now, if you go in that box behind you, you'll find clasps. Get me one while I cut the chain." He picked up pliers, and adjusting the spool, cut off the length of chain he needed. He looked up to see the girl holding out a clasp to him. "Ah, thank you. Now, we attach it like this..."
"Mama, Mama, look! Look what I made." Persephone came hurtling into the meeting room, waving a purple pouch at her mother. "It's a present, for you!" She threw herself into her mother's lap. panting, and thrust the pouch at her. "Look!"
Almera sat back, laughing at her daughter. "Alright, alright, I'll look." She open the pouch and tipped the necklace out into her hand, smiling. "Oh, Seph, it's gorgeous! Thank you sweetie." She kissed the girl on the nose, causing her to giggle, and she looked up at her uncle. "Did I do good, Uncle Jonan?"
"You did Sephy, you did."
Persephone stood by her window that night, looking out across the lights of the town, the heat from the day's sun rising from the desert around meaning it was still warm enough to leave the window open. She sighed, sniffing slightly; last time she had stood here, looking out over the rooftops, Tomas had been here too...
She jumped as the door opened behind her, and Almera slipped into the room. "All ready for bed sweetheart?"
She wandered over to the bed and climbed onto it, before Almera laid the light summer blankets over her. She smiled again at her daughter, and leant down to kiss her on the forehead. "Get a good sleep love, we're going home in the morning."
Almera was almost at the door, when she heard movement behind her, and turned to see the girl sitting up watching her. "What is it love?"
"Do you believe in ghosts, Mama?"
Almera froze; she knew where this was going. "Persephone, come on love, you know there's no such thing as ghosts. He's gone, and it's sad, but we have to move on love."
"He's not gone Mama, he's here; he was with me at the window!"
"Enough!" Almera moved back to the bed, and placing her hands on her daughters shoulders, lay her down again. "Get some sleep."
"Yes Mama...I'm sorry."
Almera gave her daughter a sad smile, and left the room. Once she was sure her mother was gone, the girl slipped from her bed and moved to the window once more, putting her hands on the sill as she looked out over the town. She looked to her left hand; when they had stood here together, Tomas had always put his right hand on top of her left. "We're the same, you and me...well, almost. It's like a mirror, see? You're my reflection" he had said, with that cheeky smile on his face.
She looked out the window one last time. "Night night, Tomas. I love you." she whispered, then hurried back across the room, climbing into her bed. Tears came unbidden as she lay her head on to the pillow, she didn't know if she had stopped crying by the time she fell asleep...