She snuck back through the house, creeping back into her bedroom, carefully storing her new clothing – all far more flattering than anything she had previously been permitted, and far better than anything she had worn before. Then she sat on the bed and opened the journal to a random page.
We certainly never expected to find such hospitality, especially so far from civilisation! The villagers complained of some beastly monster in the woods, leaving a trail of petrified bodies in its wake. The medusa, a Lady Karipulnira, apologised for the incidents, and we were able to broker an agreement, at least once those turned to stone had been recovered. But the fair lady was most grateful, and insisted upon tending to the wounds I had received in an earlier misadventure with a griffon. She was both lonesome, and desirous of company – her venoms proved most energizing, inspiring much passion and…
Janaxia blushed, even as she grinned. An adventurer’s life was sounding more and more appealing. If only she could hone her skill, and find a group worth travelling with!
There was a noise from beneath her window, a carriage pulling up. Mother must have returned. Janaxia checked herself over in the mirror, making sure she was dressed in an appropriately dowdy style, before hiding the journal.
She lurked at the top of the stairs, listening for her mother’s entrance, Kivata greeting her and helping her with her travelling clothes.
‘Has Janaxia shown any improvement?’
Kivata sounded smug. ‘No, she is in the basement still. She really is useless, Mother. You should just marry her off and get rid of her.’
‘Watch your tongue, Kivata. She is an Uth Tremari, with all that means. And she has at least some grace, an area in which you are almost completely lacking. You should strive to be more like your eldest sister, before complaining about your youngest.’
Janaxia could imagine her sister wilting under the criticism. As their footsteps moved towards the basement steps, she walked downstairs herself, deliberately making her own steps louder than they should be, drawing attention.
The look on her sister’s face was almost delicious as the elven cakes, a mixture of hatred and confusion, as she watched Janaxia walk downstairs, Janaxia making herself smile oh-so-faintly.
‘Greetings, Mother. I trust your journey was fruitful?’
She paused for a moment, allowing herself to be surrounded by sunlight from behind herself, looking down at Mother, who was looking back at her with a look of mild confusion, before her usual sharp glare returned and she turned on Kivata.
‘I believe you said she hadn’t passed the trial?’ She shook her head. ‘You were meant to be monitoring her progress, not slipping off for your own enjoyment. We will discuss this later, at some length.’ Kivata paled, already dreading whatever punishment she would have to suffer. ‘Congratulations, Janaxia. Finally, you are worthy of an apprentice’s robe. I expect great things from you.’
Janaxia approached and bowed, Mother acknowledging her with something other than contempt for once. ‘Thank you, Mother.’
‘Now, I have a task for you. The star of the Khem clan appears to be in the ascendancy, and they have secured some strong allies, while our resources are at something of a low ebb. They seem to be quite taken with you, and have requested that you attend a party of some form, with some of their… associates. It would be useful for us to have some level of contact with them, despite their lack of breeding or magical prowess, so it seems this has come at a useful time for you. There are certain details of their enterprise it would be advantageous to know. Perhaps all your fripperies may finally be of some use. Now, Kivata, go and wait for me in my study. Janaxia, you are dismissed. Now that you have finally made some progress, I would urge you to attend to your studies with utmost diligence.’
Janaxia bowed again, walking upstairs with all the poise she could muster, keeping her back straight, glad at least that her face couldn’t now be seen, as she gasped in several deep breaths. For once, it was her sister in trouble, and not herself! And she had a task, rather than simply being a useless appendage upon the family name!
As Mother busied herself with punishing Kivata, Janaxia return to Kinnevar’s journal, flicking through entries at random. As well as notation on magical theory presented in a more approachable manner than anything she had seen before, there were tales of dashing adventure and romance, travelling the world and simply enjoying himself, rather than being pulled around by family duties. Her resolve firmed, that she would acquire the skills to become an adventurer!