"Don't trust that I'll be teasing you less just because you're awake. If anything, I'll be teasing you more for the time that I couldn't speak to you," Roseann responds with a smirk, a mischievous chuckle escaping her throat. "Is there anything you want to know?" she relents, lowering her fan from her face.
Myra purses her lips in thought. "I don't know. Can I know about the five noble families in Fleurette? Also, I was told something about a tea party at the Bougainvillea's home. I was wondering if I could get any information on them." Roseann's face falls at this request.
"God, you should've asked Cole about this kind of thing," she groans, flouncing forward and dramatically collapsing onto her bed with a thud.
"It's not like I could trust Jalen or Mariene with this information," Myra shrugs. Roseann admits her defeat as she turns her head away obstinately, patting the seat next to her on the bed.
Myra, eyes brightening with hope, skips over to the place with a jump in her step, taking a seat beside her sister eagerly. The previous edge she has in her voice ebbs away at Roseann's gradual gentleness but still, she maintains a reasonable distance between them.
"I'm going to go over this once, okay? That's all you're going to get from me," Roseann wags a finger to her face but even with her harsh tone, there is no bite to her words.
Under a lamp on her dresser, she gingerly pulls out an old sheet of paper, worn out with time. She spreads it against the bed, facing it towards Myra's side. Myra furrows her eyebrows, faintly recognising the map and the labelled locations. She pays close attention to Roseann's words.
"The Ruskin Mansion is located to the west of Fleurette. We own all the land around this area as well as the far south. Father's men are deployed across several plots of the land we own for our protection and to prepare for unprecedented circumstances," Roseann explains, dragging her finger along the massive map, highlighting the territory owned by their family.
Myra's eyes widen with surprise, though really, she shouldn't be knowing that her family has the most power and authority over Fluerette's kingdoms.
"The Bougainvillea mansion is somewhere… there," Roseann points towards the south, near a surrounding town.
"The other two aren't quite relevant to our family, if I have to be honest," Roseann drags her finger to the other side of the map. "The Orchid and Hibiscus are strong allies of each other and jointly own most of the land near the east. Their territories are divided by a river between each other, linked by a bridge which they built with equal resources, all that sappy nonsense," Roseann explains, voice monotonous and slightly bored.
Myra points at a wide spread of buildings towards northern Fleurette, curiosity piqued, "Which family owns that part?"
"Ah, that's where the royal family lives," Roseann hums nonchalantly. "We have tense relations with the Florence blood, it's a generational thing. I heard that the prince is looking for a bride soon, not that it matters very much to me nor the rest of us."
"Why?" Myra questions innocently and Roseann deadpans.
"We are an independent family which does not need to get our names mixed with the likes of other families. Now is a sensitive period for our family as we approach the summer solstice and you should consider knocking some common sense into your brain before the rest of them think you've become stupid," Roseann advises. Slapping the map close and folding it along the creases, Roseann rudely tosses the paper away and waves her hand dismissively. "If you come back here with stupid requests, I'll shoo you away."
"Does our family entertain violence?" Myra stands, looking pointedly at her older sister. Roseann lifts her fan to her face, closing her eyes.
"I don't respond to foolish questions," she replies. "You should know the message which is carved on our family's emblem."
Myra nods and turns on her heel, not wanting to say anything embarrassing. On her way out, as she places her hand on the handle of the door, Roseann announces loudly, "All is fair in love and war. The motto of our family."
The door closes itself behind her with an unexpected thud and once again, Myra finds herself back-pressed against it, trying to articulate her thoughts.
"I need to sleep, I'm exhausted," Myra laments but Frederick frowns, quickening his pace to catch up to her.
"Unfortunately, you can't sleep before it's evening. Your father doesn't allow it. Instead, I can provide you with tea to energise you and lead you to the library where you can study for the day. If necessary, I can inform you on your weekly itinerary," Frederick rambles as a matter-of-factly, counting off the information on his fingers.
Myra, pursing her lips in disappointment, pauses, expecting him to lead her the right way through to the library. Understanding her intentions, he leads her through the halls to the mansion's library.
"I'll leave you here to spend the day but feel free to let any of the maids know if you need anything," Frederick bows, excusing himself from the room. Myra turns on her heel slowly, eyes darting around the length of the library.
She scrunches her nose at the faint smell of old paper and stagnant dust, the permanent smell that remains in an academic room. It's empty at this point of time, with books left scattered on a spruce table in the center of the room. On it, there is spilled ink and a feather quill, telling Myra there should've been someone who spent their hours here before her.
Averting her gaze from it, Myra strolls to a cabinet much smaller than the rest, one that she could carry in her arms if she tried. It's stacked on another bookshelf about thrice its size, at eye-level height. With a diamond nettered pattern, it carries a selection of scrolls.
Myra, curious, gingerly picks one out of the selection, accidentally releasing a cloud of dust in the air. Waving her hand in front of her nose, she tumbles back, scrunching her nose in disgust. Raising her gaze, her eyes fall on a seven-feet long wall portrait of the Duke and a woman she doesn't recall seeing.
Unrolling the scroll, Myra frowns at the cursive writing on it. Trying her hardest to decipher it, she reads under her breath, the account of a royal official.
'On the winter solstice, the to-be Duchess of the Ruskin family is found dead before her marriage to the royal prince…' Myra's eyes widen at the scandal, eyes reading faster and faster, remanding for more information on the situation.
'Footsteps led into the forest and were no longer found…' it reads, providing only known information and no speculations on who it may have been.
Plucking scrolls off the holder, Myra scutters to a circle table next to the window, laying them out. "I need to make sense of my circumstances," she mutters to herself determinedly, skipping over to the other side of the room to sort through the books she needs.
Running her finger along the spines of the hardcover volumes stacked in an organised manner. Politics, economics, administration… Myra finally finds one on history. Clutching it to her chest, she returns to her seat, plopping down on it over-excitedly.
Unrolling another scroll, she presses her palm against it to keep it unrolled, using the other hand to flip open the book. On the first page is a map similar to the one Roseann showed, with minor differences in the symbols.
Following it reads information on the details of the Ruskin family and origins, seemingly important things Myra wonders if she'll need to memorise about herself.
"Can't I get information the easy way if I just told them that I've lost my memories?" her head shoots up in realisation, only realisation that the probable outcome is being ignored.
According to the scriptures, the Ruskin family has always been the merciful of the bunch. For all that historians can note, they haven't always been the richest or those with the most power.
They used to have strong ties with the other clans, especially the royal family due to the friendly relationship between the King and the Duke at the time. Myra leans in towards the scroll, squinting her eyes to understand the illegible handwriting.
At some point, however… it seemed as if there was a conflict… the death of a Duchess at the hands of a rivalling clan.
Myra flicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, frustrated. "There isn't enough information!" she demands to herself. "It's impossible for me to know where I came from either, darn it," she curses.
Sometimes it's like she's permanently stuck in a mind that doesn't fit her body, that the words that leave her mouth barely feel right.
"You can fly even higher." | Make sure to support this book and my first novel with powerstones and collections!