Character Gauntlet Challenge Day Thirteen
|Onyx stood in front of her looking glass, and watched Daniella fasten the buttons down the back of her gown. She was not feeling as disgusted by wearing a gown as she had been when the Council had come to visit. She was going to be joining Hitaru at an Inn in the village to celebrate their victory over Ido. Anxiety fluttered in her stomach at the thought of being alone with the young captain of the Council guard. She did not normally go out of her palace except to hunt or to drive invaders from her lands. Tonight was going to be an evening of firsts for her. A shuttering sigh escaped her as Daniella finished buttoning the gown, and began running the brush through her hair.
“It will be alright my Lady,” Daniella assured. “I have a good feeling about this one.”
“What do you mean?” Onyx met the other woman’s eyes in the mirror. “This is a dinner among acquaintances and nothing more.”
“Of course, my Lady,” Daniella smiled. She did not have the same closeness to Onyx that Kaela had, but she did not hesitate to share her opinions with the Lady of the manor. She just made sure they were shared in a respectful and tactful way. “If I am not being too bold I believe the young man fancies you.”
“So did the others,” Onyx sighed. “One died trying to protect me, and the other betrayed me.”
“You know I can sense people’s intentions,” Daniella began carefully. “I do not sense any ill intent from him.”
“I also know that a gifted mage like Lao was able to hide his intentions from you.” Onyx’s tone was a bit sharper than she intended. “I am sorry Daniella. All I meant was that your gift can be deceived.”
“I know,” Daniella sighed. “I do not sense any thing but good from him. He is not deliberately blocking any facet of his mind from me. I have even caught him thinking lustful thoughts about you.” She offered Onyx a sly smile. Onyx could not resist sharing a giggle with her. When Onyx reached for her staff Daniella gently took her wrist. “You will not need that tonight.”
The two women made their way to the courtyard to find a carriage with a team of horses. The drive lifted his hat in solute. The foot man opened the door to the carriage, and removed his hat. Onyx eyed the display suspiciously. Daniella ushered her forward. The foot man assisted Onyx into the carriage and closed the door. He jumped onto the back as the driver snapped the reins, and the horse walked into a trot.
Onyx watched the scenery pass as the carriage gently rolled down the road to the village. It came to a stop in front of a large stone building with lighted windows, music, and ruckus voices.
The foot man assisted Onyx out of the carriage, and one of the Inn guards opened the door for her to enter. The room fell silent as she stepped inside. The geisha’s who were dancing on stage froze mid step, and the music cut off on a sharp note. The crowd began to whisper among themselves.
“It’s the Lady Onyx.”
“What is she doing here?”
One of the men at the table closest to her stood, and approached her. She recognized him as one of Samurai who served her family. He bowed, and offered her his arm.
“I am meeting someone here,” Onyx informed him.
“Of course my Lady,” he smiled. “Allow me to keep you company until he arrives.”
“He is already here,” Hitaru emerged from a smaller room off of the common room. He wore a silk tunic, and a pair of linen breeches tucked into soft leather boots. The tunic was parted enough to reveal a thin layer of dark chest hair.
Onyx caught herself staring, and averted her eyes. He walked over to Onyx, and offered her a similar bow as the Samurai. He straightened and proffered his own arm. She took it, and he led her back to the smaller room. A serving girl closed the door behind them. “You are a bit late.”
“Sorry,” Onyx smiled nervously. Why am I apologizing? She wondered as he pulled a chair out for her. She sat awkwardly in the chair, adjusting the skirt of the gown so that it did not bunch beneath her. The serving girl poured them each a cup of chilled wine and left to collect the first course of their meal.
“You look lovely this evening,” Hitaru offered. Why do I feel so awkward? He wondered as he took a sip of his wine. She was not the first woman he had a private meal with. There was just something about her that made him feel different.
“Thank you,” Onyx sipped her wine. “You look handsome in those clothes.”
“Thank you,” he smiled. “I figured since we are celebrating I should look nice.”
Onyx chuckled softly. She could feel her own defenses starting to weaken. I had been a long time since she felt comfortable with a man. Two servants entered carrying trays of cheese, fruit, and bread. They placed the trays on the table, and placed a small portion of each on plates in front of Onyx and Hitaru. They bowed, and exited leaving the nervous couple alone. Onyx put a slice of cheese on a piece of bread, and nibbled at it delicately. She remembered her father telling her that a lady should not eat like an animal in front of strangers. Hitaru mimicked her, and resisted the urge to eat faster. He had not realized how hungry he was until the first bit of food hit his belly.
“The council has sent Ido to a prison for magic users,” Hitaru informed her. “He is to be held there for the next ten years. Though I guess for him that will not be so bad.”
“What will happen to him there?” Onyx inquired.
“He’ll be taught the delicate balance of magic and how important it is to maintain that balance.” Hitaru bit into a slice of apple with a bit more zeal than he intended. Some of the juice from the fruit remained on his lips.
Onyx caught herself wanting to lick those lips, and looked away to shake the image from her mind. This is a public Inn not my palace. She scolded herself. Hitaru interpreted her reaction as displeasure at what he said.
“Would you have preferred they execute him?”
“Let’s talk about something more pleasant?” Hitaru suggested.
“Well,” Hitaru took another sip of wine to moisten his mouth. “I would like to know you better.”
“What do you want to know?” Onyx asked. She was now working on her own pieces of apple.
“Where did you learn you magic?”
“My father taught me until I was ten,” Onyx explained. She served herself more of the cheese, bread, and fruit. “After he died I taught myself.”
“You did not attend a school?” Hitaru was baffled by that. Every caster he knew attended some sort of school.
“No.” Onyx picked at the grapes on her plate. “I was not permitted to attend a school.”
“Why?” Hitaru asked.
“Because I am half shape changer.”
“Would that really matter?”
“It did back then. I would not be surprised if it still does today.”
“You seemed to have gotten by.”
“I have,” Onyx agreed. “By the time I was ten I was able to do things that most mages were not until they graduated from those schools.”
“You are quite impressive,” Hitaru admitted. “I do not just mean in a magical sense. Your beauty is as radiant as the fallen snow before it is marred by a single foot print.”
Onyx stared at him in blatent shock. It had been a long time since a man spoke so elegantly about her. She attempted to hide her grin in her wine cup, and discovered that it was empty. She was not quite sure what the proper etiquette was in this situation. When she ate at home her cup was never empty during her meal. She was about to get up to refill her own cup when the serving girl who met them there entered. She picked up the pitcher and refilled both of their cups. Replacing the pitcher, she stood beside it and waited patiently until they needed her again.
“Have I said something to upset you?” Hitaru inquired, drawing Onyx’s attention back to him.
“Oh no,” Onyx smiled. “I just have not received such endearing compliments in a while.”
“I find that hard to believe,” Hitaru set his plate aside after finishing his second helping of the first course. “You are a rare beauty like the orchid that blooms only once in a life time.”
“Such lovely words,” Onyx purred. “I have to wonder how many other women have heard them.”
“You think I am a womanizer?” Hitaru laughed at the idea. He had only been with one or two women in his life, and never been moved to give them such elaborate compliments. “I assure you the notches on my bedpost are few.”
“I see,” Onyx sipped her wine, eying him curiously over her cup. “Do you not like women?”
“I like woman very much,” Hitaru smiled. “I’m just very selective about who I share my bed with.”
“And am I one of those lucky women you are considering?” Onyx smiled at the shocked expression on his face. She saw no need to dance around the subject.
Servants entered the room, and cleared the plates, and platters of the first course. Another pair brought in the second course of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Hitaru used that time to regroup. He did not expect such a direct question. After the servants left he bought more time for himself by tasting the food that had been set before him. Onyx watched him as she tasted her own food. I caught him off guard, she chuckled inwardly. After he tasted everything on his plate he washed it down with a swallow of the wine.
“That is quite a direct question,” Hitaru stated. “I would not object to taking you to bed, but you should be the one to offer. I would never presume that I have any right to ask.”
“How chivalrous,” Onyx smiled seductively, “but you know as a lady I would never ask you directly to share my bed.”
“I do know that,” Hitaru returned her smile. “So, I suppose we will just have to enjoy our diner, and see where we end up.”
“I suppose so.”
After their dessert course Hitaru walked her outside to the carriage. The foot man jumped down from the back, and opened the door. Hitaru assisted Onyx into the carriage, and then stepped back. The foot man looked from him to her uncertainly.
“You are not coming back to my palace?” Onyx inquired.
“Not tonight my Lady.” He stepped forward, and pressed a soft kiss to her mouth. He pulled back before she could deepen the kiss. “Have a good evening Lady Onyx.”
He backed away again. Onyx leaned back so that the foot man could close the door. She waved as the carriage pulled away. Hitaru watched until the carriage disappeared out of sight.
Word Count: 1,893