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Character Gauntlet Challenge Day Three: Bonjour, good day, how is your family?
Onyx awoke in the morning to the sound of Kaela singing while she laid out a gown for her. She sat up slowly, being careful not to spill the breakfast tray that Kaela had set over her when she came in. As Onyx sat up her long dark hair flowed over her shoulders, covering her ample bosom. She pulled back the cloth Kaela laid over the tray to reveal a bowl of steaming porridge, a smaller bowl of sliced strawberries, and a cup of goat's milk. Onyx smiled as she spooned the slices of fruit into her porridge. She and her father shared the same breakfast every morning until his brutal demise, and now she ate it in her room every morning in his memory. Kaela stopped singing when she noticed Onyx was awake.

"Good morning, Ony!" Kaela beamed. The two young women had grown up together and become close friends. Ony was Kaela's nickname for her friend. She knew better than to use it when Onyx was having visitors, but when it was just the two women they cast the formalities aside. "Did my singing wake you?"

"It's a pleasure to wake to," Onyx smiled at her friend. "I'd be in a bad mood if I didn't hear it every morning."

"And we wouldn't want that," Kaela frowned remembering the last time Onyx was in a bad mood. She called forth a storm that nearly wiped out the entire crop that year. Of course, she also replenished the crop herself, but the farmers were still very displeased with Lady Onyx.

When Onyx finished her breakfast she set the tray aside and climbed out of bed. Kaela did her best not to gawk at the other woman. Most proper ladies wore a silk nightgown to bed, but Onyx preferred to sleep in the nude. Onyx stretched her limber body, and then moved behind the silk screen that she was supposed to use for dressing. Kaela moved behind her, and slid a shift over her head. Onyx cooperatively slid her arms through the arm holes of the cotton tent. The shift covered her bosom, and hung down to the tops of her feet. Onyx made a disgusted face when she saw herself in the mirror. She hated wearing "proper ladies'" clothing. She preferred gowns that hugged her curves with slits in the sides of the skirts for easy movement of her long legs. The shift was snowy white; as was the gown Kaela was lacing her into. Onyx hated bright colors. She preferred black because it reminded her of her father in his animal form. She had an animal form of her own, but it was nowhere near as magnificent as his had been. Onyx inhaled sharply as Kaela pulled the laces of the bodice tighter around her torso.

"Is this really necessary?" Onyx complained. She sucked in another breath as the corset was pulled even tighter.

"I'm sorry Ony," Kaela empathized. "The Council is bringing a man to meet you today, and they want him to see how lovely you are."

"If they want that then he should see me in my normal clothes," Onyx argued.

"The Council demands that you wear white as a symbol of purity and virtue," Kaela reminded her.

"But we all know I'm neither pure nor virtuous," Onyx gave her reflection a feline grin.

"Yes," Kaela smiled. "That Tomas was quite a man."

"He was at that," Onyx's smiled saddened at the memory.

Tomas was her first everything, after he gained her trust. He was a shape-changer, and a dire panther like her father and half-brother. He'd wondered on to her land by mistake after leaving Ido's pack. Tomas did not approve of the direction Ido was leading the pack, so after challenging Ido for leadership and losing he left, and found himself at the mercy of Lady Onyx. She was going to have him beheaded, and sent back to Ido as a warning not to dare raid her lands, but after getting to know him better she decided he would make a decent ally and a tender lover. Tomas proved himself when Ido led his dire panthers into her land. He organized a counter attack, and assisted her in driving the dire panthers out. Unfortunately, he lost his life to Ido in the process. Just another thing for me to avenge, Onyx thought bitterly.

After Kaela finished squeezing Onyx into the gown she ran a brush through the woman's hair. Her hair smelled like lotus blossoms from the oil she put in it after her bath the night before. Kaela dabbed some perfume made from cherry blossoms on Onyx's neck, and then squatted to assist Onyx into the heeled shoes that went with the gown. Another torture to please the Council, Onyx fumed as her feet were shoved into the pointed toes of the shoes. After the shoes were secured Onyx grabbed her staff from its resting place by her bed. She slowly made her way to the main hall, ascended the dais, and sat in the throne that had been made for her by local carpenters. It was a large throne with feline creatures carved into it in various positions. Onyx adjusted the puffy skirt of the gown and sat as regally as she could. Kaela left her to fetch the Council members who arrived late the night before.

The Council did not give Kaela a chance to announce them before proceeding down the aisle. They lined up in front of Onyx, but did not bow before lowering their hoods, the lead member Tehran, stepped forward to address her. Onyx stood wobbling a bit on the uncomfortable shoes. She used the skirt to cover her slipping them off. They were already disrespecting her, she'd be damned if she made a fool of herself by falling. She gave the Council a deep curtsey, noting there were still only four of them.

"Hello, Onyx," Tehran smiled sweetly at her. "You honor us by welcoming us into your home."

"The honor is mine, Lord Tehran," her words dripped with insincerity, but neither of them expected anything different. "Was your sleep peaceful?"

"Yes," Tehran answered, and then added, "the meals we were presented were wonderful. You have very competent servants."

"Again, you honor me," Onyx felt her guts churn at those words. After Ido's attack it took her two years to find the best replacements for all of the men she lost, and the Council did not lift a finger to help. "Is captain Haru present?"

"I'm afraid Haru left us last year," Tehran answered.

No, surprise there, Onyx thought. Haru was displeased with the Council's decisions regarding her family; from Kairi being dismissed to the Council turning a blind eye to the constant attacks of the dire panthers. They were becoming complacent in their duties, and too stuck in the old ways to see that Onyx would make a perfect fifth member, and ally.

"If we could please get to our business here?" Sayo, the council member whose focus was air, inquired. She never bothered to hide her dislike of Onyx even after her display of power at the age of ten.

"Patients Sayo," Tehran chided. "There is nothing wrong with making polite conversation, and catching up with an old friend."

"We're not friends," Onyx argued. She too was getting impatient with a cat and mouse game in which she was obviously considered the mouse. "What brings you to my home?"

"Very well," Tehran took a breath to calm his anger. "Dai, please come introduce yourself to Onyx."

A large burly man in a woolen tunic and breaches appeared in the entrance way to the main hall. He was a disreputable sight. His clothes were stained with wine and food, his stringy greasy hair hung down his back, and his body was covered in sweat, grime, and hair. He attempted to saunter, but his exploits from the night before made it more of a stagger. His boots left muddy foot prints on the freshly polished floor. When he got close enough Onyx could smell the wine on him.
"Good day to ya," Dai hiccupped in the middle of his greeting, and would have fallen in his attempt to bow if Tehran hadn't steadied him.

"Welcome to my home," Onyx stretched her grimace into a smile that did not touch her eyes. Are they serious about this? She wondered as she slowly descended the steps of the dais.

Sensing her displeasure Tehran hurried on with his introduction. "Dai is the first born son of the Grand Magus of the school of Elemental focus."

Onyx knew of that school, it was where Kairi and every other Council member learned their magic. She knew this was being presented as a political marriage to elevate both of their statuses. Dai would finally produce children, and not be a total waste of his father's seed, and she would gain notoriety as the woman who bore up and coming council members. Their children would be guaranteed entry into the school of Elemental focus because Dai was their father. Onyx also knew just from looking at the desperation in Tehran's eyes, and the complete vacancy in Dai's that she was a last resort. That knowledge along with the fact that the council would bring her a suitor who was obviously beneath her was enough to make her forget her manners. With one flick of her fingers her staff flew to her right hand. The council members took a step back, but Dai stood his ground as best he could.

"What's this now?" He slurred. "You better mind your manners missy or I'll put you over my knee."

"You won't lay a hand on me you filthy swine!" As the word swine left her mouth Dai's body shrunk down out of his clothes; his face elongated into a pig snout, and pigs ears sprouted from the top of his head; His hands and feet became split hooves, and a curly tail sprung from his backside. Onyx assumed her hybrid form, and let out a loud roar exposing a mouth full of sharp teeth. The pig that was once a man squealed and tore out of the main hall in fright. "As for you four..." Onyx turned her ferocious gaze on the council members who were doing their best to keep from cringing.

"Onyx, please," Tehran attempted to sooth, "if you don't like this one we'll bring someone else. There is no need to be enraged."

"You come into my home, don't bother to show me proper respect, and bring me the bottom of the barrel for a suitor, which by the way I never wanted in the first place?" Onyx roared. A vortex of dark wind began to coalesce around her.

"We figured he'd be a step up for you," Sayo sneered. She would not back down from Onyx just because the woman was throwing another tantrum. "You mated with a dire panther shape-changer. Dai may act like a beast, but at least he is human!"

{"Sayo, be silent!" Tehran ordered. "You're only making this worse."

"GET OUT!" Onyx roared. "YOU FILTHY TOADS!"

As the word toads left her mouth the council members shrank into their robes. The robes pooled on the ground, and a wart covered toad sat in the center of each pool. Onyx returned to her human form laughing hysterically at what she saw in front of her. Kaela, and the four servants that accompanied the Council rushed into the main hall. One of them was leading the swine Dai with a rope around his neck. Tehran's servant handed the rope over to Kaela, and rushed to his master squatting down and gathering the warty covered toad in its robes. The other three servants did the same.

"After you've changed them back," Onyx advised. "Tell them that they are no longer welcome in my home without my express permission."

The servants bowed, and scurried out with their masters in hand. One stopped long enough to take the rope from Kaela, and led him away. They were sent off with the sounds of echoing female laughter.

Word Count: 2,029
© Copyright 2014 Gineva Navazio (jlh1982 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2010054