(If you have not read my prologue, please do so now.)
Tales of Tanjia, Chapter 1 - The Everyday and Extraordinary
I couldn't see it yet, but I could feel the gentle warmth of dawn's light on my face. The scent of delicate sweet spring flowers and the chirping of the Ki'ghenii birds fill the air. It's just begun, and the day already seems to hold promise.
Taking a deep breath of cool air I rouse myself from a pleasant sleep, my silky sheets pooling my lap. I open my eyes and raise my arms in a stretch. Doing so releases the bit of tension that had resulted from an awkward sleeping position. The first rays of morning light peek through my sheer silk curtains and dance across my marble floor. The whole room seems to sparkle with a still, quiet life. My arms swing back down to my sides and I sigh. In that moment my timid maidservant, Rii'ei enters my room holding a shallow bowl and a pitcher of water.
"Good morning, mistress..." Her timid voice rang out like a tiny bell as she set the bowl and pitcher on my vanity table. She's a charming girl with a pretty face. Her soft violet eyes, short, wavy black hair, and petite figure are all lovely. If only she had a little more confidence. Though, given the pervasive attitude of the staff, she'd be better off if she stayed as demure as she is now. "Would you like your breakfast now, miss...?" she spoke with her usual twinge of hesitation.
"Mmm... I think that I'll wait a bit this morning, but thank you." Rii'ei bowed her head and turned to leave. My voice still carried notes of sleepiness as I asked, "You're not staying?" She stopped mid-stride and made her way back over to my bedside.
"Is there something that you need?" she asked while grasping at the beaded bracelet on her wrist.
"I just enjoy your company, Rii'ei," I said as I patted the empty space next to me on my bed. She shook her head in refusal,
"As a servant, miss, I- ...I should stand." Her voice was uneasy, and she was fidgeting a bit. She's always a tad shy, but she's often more relaxed than this. I'm not exactly sure what's wrong this morning, but I feel that if I address it, it'll make things worse. So I put on a smile for her, though it must've looked awful drowsy, and let out a small sigh.
"I'm inviting you to sit, Rii'ei. Don't worry about formality this morning, it's just us two." I'm the only one in the Imperial Family who is so friendly with our servants.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm too casual, but it irritates me to be so formal in private. I see no reason to be so strict with them. My Mother and Father are particularly rough on their maid and menservants. I can't imagine what they go through every morning. Those who serve my father must be especially valiant to face his morning temper. Not that his attitude mellows much through the day.
I pat the empty space on my bed once more and Rii'ei sits at the edge of my enormous mattress. My bed is large enough for an entire family to sleep in without ever touching each other. "I brought you your things to wash your face." She seemed to be relaxing a bit.
"Thank you. I think I'll do that now." I unfurled my long, dark blue hair from its intricate braid, letting it spill over my shoulders and back. Rii'ei then got up to pour the warm water into the shallow bowl. She then handed me the bowl and a soft cloth. I could sense that the water was starting to get cold so I brought it close and warmed it a tad when I had the bowl in my hands. It can be difficult to be discreet with this ability of mine. I shouldn't use it if I don't have to, but I indulge myself with it every now and then.
"Is there anything else that you need?" She asked me, finally sounding like her normal self.
Drawing the warm, wet cloth off of my face, I answer her. "I think that I'll bathe before breakfast this morning."
"I'll have the bath drawn right way, miss." she said as she bowed and then left the room.
I stretch once again and heave another sigh. The room is still once more. I get up and walk to the giant window on the eastern side of my room. I fasten my ice blue robe and pull open the sheer curtains. The sun has risen over the mountains and the world is awake for another day. Our ancestors were wise in deciding the location of the Imperial City. We are close enough to the rural villages of Wa'iyen-nekyevi that we are able to keep our beginnings in mind. Also, we are near to Taj'erii City, the largest center of import and export in this part of our world. With that, we connect to our future as well.
Rii'ei knocks on my door and steps back into my room. "Your bath is ready for you, miss."
"Thank you, Rii'ei. I'll be out in a little while." I pat her shoulder as I enter my bathing chambers. It is a large decagonal room where the walls are one-way glass, where I can see out, but others cannot see in. I let my night clothes roll off of me and I slip my slender body into the hot bath. The water felt so wonderful as it soaked into my bare back and its deep scars. All the perfumes mixing from my soaps and oils created such a relaxing atmosphere. I never want to leave the bath to start my day.
When I finish washing and enjoying my bath I step out my ornate pewter bathtub. I pull the water from my hair into a floating, silvery sphere before returning it to the water from the bath. If I didn't use my power to dry my hair, it would never be dry. My hair trails long behind me and it's so thick that it would take days to dry on its own. I slip my silk robe on and make my way back into my room.
"Was your bath refreshing?"
"Yes, thank you." I pick a silvery green gown from my wardrobe and Rii'ei helps me dress into it. She makes sure every fold hangs just right before sitting me down to do my hair. As she plaits my locks into an intricate style I hear a pair of servant girls gossiping outside my door. I know exactly which two are talking and it wears on my nerves. Every morning they babble about the smallest things for hours. None of it positive or productive, just idle gossip.
I fight with myself for a while and decide to skip today's lessons. My mind aches with boredom during those lectures. It's been the same subject for weeks, anyways. So I scribble a quick note and hand it to Rii'ei when she finished with my hair. "Could you give this to the head instructor? I'm going to be busy with other matters today and won't be able to make my lesson."
"Of course." She takes the note in her fingers and leaves to deliver it.
I smile to myself at the thought of having the day free to do as I please. Perhaps I'll visit a few friends in the village later.