MARROW: CHAPTER SEVEN, SCENE ONE
Updated: Feb 11
SECTION TWO: THE HALL OF ONE HUNDRED PETALS
In the Fifth Era of the Paltran Emperors
Late Winter of Year Forty-Three
Winter of Year Forty-Four
WHAT OCCURRED DURING THE FIRST PHASE OF EXAMINATIONS?
The Twelfth Day of Spring, Year Forty-Four of the Fifth Era of Paltran Emperors
“LADY Dahlia?” Laude’s muffled voice inquired from the other side of the door. “Please forgive my intrusion, but the astrologist has placed your Ladyship fifth in line for her genesi reading.”
I arose and smoothed the sheets. My nap consisted less of sleeping and more of laying with my eyes shut on the brink of true rest, knowing I was to eventually be summoned. Still, some rest was better than none. Making my way to the wardrobe, I only remembered it was empty once I opened its doors. “Laude?” I called, croaky-voiced. “Have my things been delivered yet?”
“Yes, my Lady, but I thought it would be better not to disturb your Ladyship and instructed the porters to leave your luggage outside. I’ve been minding it this whole time.”
I crossed the room and opened the door. My luggage — three medium flat-topped chests, a shallow crate, and a small box — were neatly stacked against the wall to the right of the door. As I tried to remember which items had been stored where, Laude whistled down the stairs. Two child-faced boys ascended and carried each box inside, arranged them against the back wall, and opened the crate with a crowbar. As they left, I knelt to sort through the boxes. On finding which chest held my costumes, I surveyed each choice.
One, my debut costume. It wasn’t really a choice, but the memory was sweet. Such an outfit was too overwrought for me anymore, even being as new as I was. The other five costumes were gifts: one for Autumn from Viscaria, one for Rain from Lady Amethyst, and three others for the remaining seasons from Lady Pearl. Though Spring had just begun, it still seemed premature to abandon Winter’s pale blues and greys just yet.
“My, how stunning,” Laude breathed. He laid his hand over his heart, staring down into the small box beside the crate.
I leaned over. My hand clamped over my mouth, stifling a gasp. Forget the Winter costume. Forget any other garment I had ever owned. I looked up at Laude, wild-eyed. “But this isn’t mine,” I insisted.
“It must be. The porters collected it straight from Serkun Artis’s ship. The other uzņika arrived days or weeks ago.”
My hands shook as I reached over to pluck a creased note from atop the folded garment. For Lady Dahlia, it read. Designed, dyed, woven, cut, and stitched by Larys Gavian.
“Larys Gavian?” I asked.
Laude’s eyes widened. “My stars, my Lady. That’s the work of a master costumer — one whom I believed was long retired. If I may be so bold as to say, this is no mistake. Someone very well-connected must have commissioned such an item especially for your Ladyship. Perhaps it was my Lady’s patron?”
I picked up the whole box and took it to my cot. As I took out what I thought was a single dalmatic, I revealed an entire costume: a pair of lambskin boots dyed deep blue; black linen hose and matching silk garters; a honey-gold coif and round, midnight-blue hat dotted with bone-white pearls; a gold lorum bordered with black circles within squares; a midnight dalmatic to match the hat, though its pearls were arranged to mirror the constellations; a stola to match the coif with laurels of shiny gold thread stitched into the silk; and a linen camisia dyed deep blue.
I couldn’t break my gaze from it. The ensemble was stunning, If it truly was from the Chobortsriya, I couldn’t fathom how I could ever repay her kindness. Something like this couldn’t have cost less than twenty thousand maugat. The construction was perfect. The seams were nearly invisible, the choice in textiles exquisite, the concept well-executed, and above all, it was utterly unique. I refused to believe I was even allowed to wear it.
“Are you sure this is mine?”
Laude tilted his head. “I suppose the only way to be certain is to try it on.”
“But what if it’s...not?”
Wincing, Laude said, “My Lady, truly I mean no offense, but you are a head taller than most other uzņika here. If it fits, I’m inclined to believe it is because the costume is meant to fit. Besides — the best outfits in an uzņika’s wardrobe are almost always made for her alone.”
My height was not something I often thought of since myself and my sisters-in-training were all Candrish, but that was admittedly unique to Lady Pearl’s launnal. Every other launnal in Örös trained Örösi women. Most of them were much shorter than us and garment-makers catered to them unless commissioned. Lady Amethyst handled purchasing most of our costumes. Beyond choosing which we wanted to wear on a particular evening, we had very little to do with clothing ourselves.
As I was about to ask if it was suitable to wear to the genesi reading, someone knocked on the door. Laude opened it to reveal Artis and Pashzak. Upon seeing the costume on my bed, Artis asked, “What’s this?”
“The porters delivered it along with everything else. The note said it was made by Larys Gavian.”
“Larys Gavian? How do you know Larys Gavian?” Artis gestured to Laude. “You there. Bring me this note.”
Laude looked at me. When I nodded, he retrieved it and handed it to Artis, who snatched it away like a greedy child. “When were you going to tell me you bought something like this?”
“I didn’t, and I don’t know him. I think Serkun Agbardas gifted it to me.”
Artis tossed the slip at Laude. “Well then. Get dressed. It’s almost time to go.”
“Will this be suitable for the reading?” I asked Laude.
“Regrettably, I doubt there’s enough time,” Laude said. “Indeed it may be best to go in what your Ladyship is wearing now. It’s better to be early than on time.”
My heart sank a little, but I grit my teeth and nodded. After donning my slippers, I told Laude, “Lead the way.”
Ko-fi allows you to make a one-time donation to help support my work, while Patreon allows you to make a recurring monthly donation of $1, $3, or $5 with additional perks such as advanced chapters or bonus material (such as old drafts). Thank you kindly for your support!