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Workings of a Star – Ch 4 – A Scifi Romance

Perhaps Esme was starting to get used to these hallways. She didn’t mind the monotony. With nothing to distract herself, it made it easier to think. She had been through a lot in just under half a day and she needed time to process it without the many distractions that came with being in a completely new environment. So, she spent the next couple of hours wandering the halls, processing.

It looked like she was an Ambassador. That wasn’t quite what she had planned when she had gone on that walk the night before. She hadn’t expected to meet the Emperor, either, and never could she have expected that Emperor to take an interest in her. That was what she had the most trouble processing for whatever reason. Why would someone like Lord Vidori hold any interest in someone like her, some woman from a nothing planet, destined to do nothing of importance. Still, it could not be denied that was exactly what had happened.

What did that mean in the long run? Would she even see him again once the deal with her people had been struck? It didn’t seem likely. She imagined being the ruler of so much left him quite the busy man. Perhaps none of this mattered, then. Perhaps she would simply return to her life in her village, aiding in gathering the extra supplies for the empire, settle down, find herself a mate, have a family, live a good life. A part of her found that comforting, the idea of returning to normality. Another part of her, smaller than the first but still very pleasant, felt unsatisfied with that sort of life. She wouldn’t really be doing much but working. But then she could always have her nights to sing and tell stories around the fire.

She sighed. Perhaps she shouldn’t worry about such things right now. One thing at a time. Right now what mattered was getting this deal between her people and the empire through. She was not going to give Vidori any reason to use force.

When she had finally had enough of thinking, she asked to be taken to her room. Yes, she was getting used to these halls, but that didn’t mean she knew her way through them. Luckily, her attendants were more than happy to show her the way.

“Are you the same attendants from this morning?” Esme asked them, glancing between the one to her left side and the one on the right. She didn’t understand a lot about these servants and she was becoming rather curious. Out of everything she had seen today she seemed to know the least about them.

The one to her right simply nodded.

“You don’t seem to talk a whole lot.”

“He never does.” The one to her left said, the slightest of smirks on his face. The only sign the other gave that he heard him was the slightest lowering of his ears. Even with a blank face he looked disapproving. It made her snicker quietly.

“Oh, the quiet type I see.” She hummed as a thought hit her. “May I ask, what did you end up doing with my clothes?”

“I believe you just did.”

She waited for an actual answer but when it looked like none was coming she turned to the left one.

“They were sent to be washed. They should be in your room now.”

“Thank you.” She said with a bright smile. He looked shocked for a moment before giving a little smile back. She went back to her thoughts with a hum. “I’ll need to wear them when I go back to speak with my people. This outfit is lovely, but it would be far too out of place. It would make me seem unfamiliar to them.”

“Of course, Ambassador.”

She tried not to scowl but a frown still managed to slip onto her face.

“If it’s okay with you, can you just call me Esme? I don’t think I’m quite used to being called Ambassador.”

The one on the left looked confused at her words.

“But wouldn’t you get used to it faster if you were called Ambassador more often?” He asked.

“If it is what she wishes, then that’s what we’ll do.” The one on the right snapped, almost looking angry with the other. “It is not our place to question her reasoning.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Esme said in a soothing voice, watching the left one’s face return to it’s careful blankness. “I’m sure there are plenty others who will be calling me Ambassador.” She said to the one on the left. “It would just … be nice if you two would call me by my name. Some familiarity, no matter how slight, can be comforting in strange, new surroundings.”

He nodded in understanding.

“As you wish, Esme.”

It took less time than she thought it would to reach her room. It looked like someone had come in to tidy up, though she hadn’t left it in much of a state of disarray. The only thing that she had altered was the bed when she made her nest to sleep in the night before. That nest had been removed, the sheets and blankets spread back over the bed properly. She didn’t mind. Making her nest had been relaxing, mindless work. It was like a break from the stress of the situation she had brought upon herself.

Just as her attendant had said, her old clothes were there, neatly folded and laid on one of the side tables. The warm colors were a stark contrast to the constant white.

“I think I’ll take a quick nap, if that’s okay with you two.”

They didn’t respond, but the friendlier one nodded.

She curled up on the soft blankets. She didn’t really want to make a nest just yet. Perhaps after her nap when she felt more rested. Her naps never did last long and she had more than enough time afterwards.

She buried her face into the pillows with a sigh, drifting off to sleep slowly.

=

Music filled the halls by Esme’s room, echoing through the empty space and traveling far to reach the ears of anyone who passed near her. She didn’t know how far her voice was carrying at the time, of course. She hardly even noticed when her singing had gone from a quiet hum to a much louder tune. It was similar to a lullaby but the notes were low and the lyrics spoke of revenge and betrayal. It was a dark song, not something she would usually sing but it had fascinated her as a child and came to her mind now.

She was brushing her hair as she sang, enjoying the feeling of the brush gliding through the strands. Her hair was a mess after her nap and, after making her nest and continuing to relax, she decided it should probably be dealt with. The friendlier attendant had offered to do it for her but she had declined, at least for now. She did tell him that he could put her hair up later if he wanted to and that seemed to please him. Maybe she should show him some common ways her people did their hair some time tomorrow. That would be a nice way to spend some of her free time until she met with the chief’s. The festivities would start the day after tomorrow and she got the impression Lord Vidori would be keeping her here until then.

When the first song ended she started another. This one was another lullabye, though not as dark as the first. The lyrics spoke of the sea and dancing under the moon. It was one of her mother’s favorites. Of course, she knew songs that weren’t lullabies, but they were soothing and she had a fondness for them.

Once she finished the second song she put the hairbrush down on the side table, right next to her old clothes. She got up, running her fingers through her hair as she did so. It was still so nice from her bath that morning, so soft.

It was then that she noticed someone else was in her room and she gave a little jump.

Vidori was standing in the doorway, that infuriating smirk on his face and his hands clasped behind his back. Her attendants had been stationed on either side of the doorway. The one on the left, the friendlier one, gave her an amused look, eyes shifting between her and Vidori.

“Oh, it’s you.” She said with a huff before she could compose herself properly. “And how long have you been standing there staring at me?”

The irritation in his voice seemed to only amuse him, that smirk growing larger.

“Oh, long enough.” He said with a hum. “My servant was not exaggerating. You have a truly beautiful singing voice.”

Was that sincerity in his voice? And here she thought he was incapable of such a thing. She allowed a slight smile to spread on her face.

“Why thank you. That means a lot coming from you.” She ran her fingers through her hair one last time before taking a few steps towards him to take his outstretched hand. He led her down the halls as they talked.

“What language was that song in? I couldn’t place it.”

“It was my people’s native tongue.” She explained. “We learned how to speak your language from different visitors from the stars. We had several show up before you did and figured it would make things far easier if we could communicate. Though we use the new language in our day to day conversations fairly often, we still use the old tongue in most of our songs and stories.”

“Fascinating.” He looked thoughtful as he walked, head tilted to the side slightly. The light glinted off his earings brilliantly when she looked at him from this angle, the angles of his face accentuated. He looked every part the powerful Emperor. “It is a very intriguing language that goes very well with song. I have to admit, your culture fascinates me more and more every time I speak with you.”

“Really? It seems all so normal to me. Of course, that’s because it is normal for me. I grew up in this culture, it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s interesting to think someone would be so interested.” Of course, it made sense, she just hadn’t thought of it before. Just as his culture was unknown and interesting to her, so hers could be to him. “I can tell you more about it, if you wish.”

“I would like that.” He said with a smile, not one of his smirks, an actual smile.

It was then that they reached the dining room. It had been a long day and she had to admit, she was hungrier than she had thought, so she was glad to see it was meal time once more.

Vidori walked ahead of her, pulling her chair out and motioning for her to sit. Once he was also seated he asked his first question.

“So tell me, what is this exodus coming up? What is its purpose?”

“Oh, starting with the big questions aren’t we?” She said with a smirk, earning herself a smile in return as the food was set out.

“Mostly, it serves as a gathering for the different villages across the world, like a long party. There are those who don’t attend, children, elderly, those who can’t travel. The chief’s go as it’s an easy way to gather together and discuss matters of trade, but most go in order to find their mates. That’s why it’s called the exodus. When someone finds their mate, they choose which village the two want to live in and move there. That means many people leave their village all at once.”

“That makes sense.” He mused. “Sounds like quite the festivities.”

“Oh yes. There’s all sorts of music and dancing and when everyone is too tired for that the stories come out. Not to mention the foods from all around the world! It usually goes on for at least three days, sometimes even a week. It depends on what the people feel like. If a village is too tired, they’ll leave, but if they’re in bright enough spirits, they can go on for a while.”

“It sounds exhausting, if I may be honest.”

Esme chuckled.

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t know.”

He seemed confused by that, brow furrowed slightly.

“Why is that? Seems like such a grand party is not something to miss out on.”

She sighed.

“It only takes place once every five of my planet’s years.” She explained. “This is the first time it’s taken place since I’ve become old enough to attend. It’ll be my first time going.”

“Is that so?” And there was that smirk again, like he was pleased. “Then it would appear we can experience it together.”

She tilted her head, a bit shocked and confused. For some reason, the thought of Lord Vidori going to the planet himself to negotiate hadn’t crossed her mind. He just didn’t seem the type to step out of his own little world and onto a planet he considered so primitive, not when he could have someone else do it.

“I didn’t think you’d want to.” Esme admitted.

“That is fair. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t be going. However…” A smile spread over his face slowly, an odd look in those acidic eyes as he stared at her. “It has been awhile since I’ve been to any sort of … party. It could be entertaining. I can afford a few days off.”

She chewed her food thoughtfully, attempting to keep her face neutral but ultimately failing. She simply couldn’t imagine Vidori, this god-like figure she’s only seen surrounded by white and light and the glint of metal, sitting by a fire, among the trees of her home. She had to admit, the thought of such a sight intrigued her. She smiled, letting out a delighted chirp.

“That sounds like a great idea! Especially since you said you were so fascinated by our culture. It’ll be easier to explain things if you can see them happening.”

“Well then,” he lifted his glass in a sort of toast. “I’m looking forward to it.”

She did the same before taking a sip of her drink, a twinkle in her eyes. This was going to be fun indeed.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Drama, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Sci Fi

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