As I stepped outside, I spotted Father talking to one of his fellow politicians. A few steps closer and I discovered it was Constantine. Check that, one of his adversaries in the political circle.
“Hiarch Constantine, the Ravalier Party will succeed.” Father said.
“I beg to differ my friend, I do believe today will be a victory for the Vasric Party.” Constantine’s expression was relaxed and the corner of his mouth drew upwards. Rolling your eyes might be sacrilegious on the grounds of the temple, but seeing the man look so smug was almost incentive enough.
I moved along, waiting for father and staring at the market square. That is, until a dark form stepped. A sigh slipped from my mouth and I straightened. Today was certainly not beginning well, and of all the days for Constantine’s son to return, of course it had to be now.
“Good morning Syrena.” He bowed his head and waited.
” Greetings Desmond,” I replied.
. I glanced at father and saw him shoot me a quizzical look. When I looked back at Desmond, he grasped my hands and drew close. Whoa, that was getting a bit personal.
“My lovely Syrena, would you take my hand in a union of marriage?”
Wait, what? I stared at him and knew I probably had an expression of shock all over my face. I tried to form words, but nothing came out. It wasn’t that I didn’t have an answer, but his proposal was so preposterous I couldn’t even imagine where to begin.
“Desmond, I apologize. But I’m not exactly looking for husband at the moment.” I removed his hands from mine.
Desmond’s gaze broke from mine and I almost felt bad. However, the sly grin that worked its way onto his face chased any guilt away in seconds. His gaze rose back to mine and then he leaned in. “Is your eighteenth birthday not four months away?”
“Desmond, I’m not eighteen yet, and I think those rules are a bit antiquated anyways.” I shrugged.
“The rules are the rules though.” Desmond frowned. “It’s Vanashtan law, you can’t wriggle out of this one like you have the others.”
A resentfulness dripped from his words and his grin twisted into a sneer. “Syrena, you may want to rethink your answer. I think you’re a jewel, and I can give you the freedom you want.”
I opened my mouth to reply but raised his finger. “And I can also give you protection.”
Desmond’s words sunk in and my jaw clenched. His proposal was hardly romantic, but his threats were enough to make me pause. After several moments of silence, Desmond’s hand encircled my wrist and his gaze softened. I readied to wrench my arm away when Constantine approached us.
Desmond let go and Constantine scrutinized him, eyes narrowing. Father appeared and his snapped from me to Desmond. A dark look fell upon his face, but I shook my head and gesture to him that it was fine.
“Come Desmond, let’s go.” Constantine inclined his head towards me and then motioned to his son to follow. Good riddance.
“We should go too, ” Father said.
I didn’t need to be told twice. My wrist tingled at the memory of Desmond’s hand touching it. I shoved those thoughts away, as they were better forgotten.
We traveled down some other roads due to the mass crowd covering the main road. Something that made me think of Harai said. The Preemphis building, where Empariver was held, stood tall above the other city buildings. It’s glass dome gleamed in the bright sun, reflecting rays of sunlight. In front, the rest of the crowd gathered behind the lines of the Commons Guard.
The coach stopped outside the entrance and we quickly passed through with the help of the Guard. As we went up the stairs, I saw that a few politicians had arrived but then had left at the sight of the angry crowd. Cowards, I thought and entered in.
It was a big day for Empariver was deciding on the Order to begin trade with Highvarah. The kingdom that Vanashtan literally wanted to annihilate off the map . The main reason, was because Vanasthans viewed Highvarans as unclean and heathens.
Well, Vanashtans viewed all foreign lands that way, though I didn’t believe that. Highvarah had proclaimed their servanthood under El Roiam, a supposed false god, despite the conflict and ire that had arisen between them and Vanashtan. Religious affairs wasn’t much interest to me, but the mob outside was beginning to make me reconsider.
Light filled the halls and lit up the stone building, as we crossed the spotless marble floor. It never ceased to amaze me though. A dozen assassinations executed here and somehow, after all the staining, no one could tell where the last body fell.
There hadn’t been a good assassination in five years, but I’d wager that one was bound to occur. The question was, from which party? Assassinations had become commonplace most because no one had been caught. Either through bribery or blackmail, unfortunately reform hadn’t been brought up.
On passing the guards, I noticed that the Preemphis building was almost deserted. My thoughts went back to those who had turned back. Things were quickly heating up.
“Could you fetch those for me?” Father asked.
He straightened some documents and I handed him some folded papers. As offered some, he stopped.
Father set the papers down. “Perhaps you should go home.”
His reply caught me off guard. “I’m not doing that. Where you go, I go.” I insisted and he picked up the papers.
“Alright, but if you see any sign of trouble, run.”
I nodded, though that was the last thing on my mind. Father grabbed his things and I followed him out, down a hall and straight towards the inner chamber. Hiarch Constantine was just entering followed by Hiarch Amir, head of the Magis Party. All the leaders of the three political parties were there, and it was time for Emparivir to commence.
I wished Father good luck and then took a seat on a bench. At least one good thing was happening, which was a couple hours with a good book.
“What do you think you’re doing here?” Suddenly, a large man appeared around the corner, his expression disapproving. I didn’t look up at first, for I was far to immersed in my book.
“I’m a secretary for Hiarch Cassius.” I flipped a page. That usually did it.
No such luck.
“There are no women secretaries. You’re lying.” He ripped the book from my hands and threw to the ground. I jumped to my feet and looked from the bent pages to him.
“I am not, so please stop harassing me.” I grabbed the book and noted the wrinkled pages. Lovely, and for a moment it had almost seemed like today might hold promise.
“How dare you speak to me like that, wench,” the man sneered. “We shall see how impudent you are in a cell.” He took a step towards me and I moved back. This man had to be new here since everyone else knew who I was.
“Touch me and you’ll regret it” I said.
He didn’t stop his advance and the beating in my chest accelerated. No one was around and he could easily overpower me.
“Hiarch Cassius is my father and any harm done to me isn’t worth it.” I attempted to steady my voice. “I don’t know who you are, but making an enemy of a hiarch is serious.”
Fortunately, that stopped him.The man glared at me but stood down. As he walked away, I heard him spit, “Klystiv.” I rolled my eyes, but the insult penetrated into the inside. I generally was self-conscious about my difference in appearance from the olive skin and black hair population, but I felt particularly so today. Again, I shoved those feelings away. Instead, I shrugged and took my spot back on the bench with my book.
After an hour and a half of reading I shut it and noticed that I was struggling to keep the noise of the mob in the background. Curious, I walked over to the window and discovered that the size of the crowd had tripled since this morning. I could barely make out any of the Commons Guard as they were virtually swallowed up by the people. I tapped my fingers on the windowsill and almost thought I should warn Father.
No, Empariver was never to be interrupted. Besides, the people wouldn’t actually break through the lines and attack the place. They respected our system and wouldn’t intervene. They just wanted to demonstrate their anger and their views. I scolded myself for entertaining such thoughts as actually interrupting a session of Empariver. This is silly, the Preemphis building has never been stormed.
Then it happened, I heard a great roar and the sound of metal gates flying open. I lunged to the window and witnessed the line of the Guard break. The crowd flooded through the gates like a water let loose from a dam, and converged on the Preemphis Building.