Sisters

Eliza twists in her bed in alarm at the sound of her door opening. She’s relieved to see Anna creeping in, closing the door gently behind her. With Eliza’s relief came a stabbing pain in her bandaged side, a reminder of the very recent moment when she was almost cut down by an orc. Anna notices her pain, winces with her, “I’m sorry m’Lady! I only came to see how you were feeling.”
“Well, I was about to sleep, finally…:”
Anna apologises again but Eliza beckons her over, rising carefully up to a sitting position. She taps the bed next to her, “You know, you can call me Eliza. We were… are sisters.”
“I know m’L… I know, but it wouldn’t seem right, working so closely with Mary and Bessie and all.”

Eliza nods knowingly and draws the girl to her, kissing her gently on the forehead. They sit just so for some time and Eliza can’t help but remember first meeting the young girl, barely in her teens, when her loutish brother had brought her home. She is the youngest daughter of a fallen house; no prospects or standing No real education.  And no doubt her parents were eager to offer her up whomever would take her. When Earnest Earnsaw, heir to the Earnshaw fortune, proposed they must have been beside themselves. Like everything Earnest did however, Eliza knew it was for spite; a way to send their mother to an early grave with worry, or to threaten the name their father had spent his life refining. He treated Anna like the tool she was and, though she smiled at gatherings and spoke with nothing but positivity about her ‘noble’ husband, Eliza was able to see that Anna feared him. Eliza knew her brother’s temper well and, though he had never dared to strike Eliza, the servants and animals they kept all knew to steer well clear when the darkness fell on him. Through constant visits and excursions, Eliza had done her best to bring some light into the Anna’s world; she was young – younger even than her years on account of her sheltered upbringing – and Eliza feared that her brother’s cruelty would snuff out the one thing of worth that was truly hers – her innocence.

It was during this time that Eliza had been shipped to the city; as dutiful a daughter as she was, she found the country stifling and longed for the life an urban escape could provide. With the city came Aunt Elsbeth and, of course, the Sisterhood of the Silver Eye. “There is no turning back” Elsbeth had once told her. Eliza’s hand had been pressed on a thick, leather-bound tome embellished with intricate designs orbiting a central eye. “Lady Alina is a gracious being, but she is not someone with whom you enter an agreement lightly.” It was the first time Eliza had seen her aunt scared, and it had given her pause. Still, she had seen too much to turn back then, and so she had opened the tome and began to read the rights. The robed, faceless women who were encircling them chanted and raised their arms, and Eliza had felt the presence enter her for the first time.

The echo of the chanting of the rites follows Eliza’s mind back to the present. Anna now sleeps quietly on her shoulder. Eliza gently wriggles free and gets up, being careful not to twist her torso for fear of triggering the pain from her wound. She isn’t successful. She appreciates the girl on her bed, still so young. She ponders what might have happened earlier had the elves not arrived to drive off the invading orcs. This was supposed to be a country holiday; a short period re recouperation her Eliza and her ladies. It had quickly become a deadly adventure, and Eliza knew she would never forgive herself is something were to befall Anna. To befall any of them. Quietly, Eliza goes to her travel chest and from within pulls lockbox; gilded and heavy. Producing a key from around her neck Eliza opens his second chest, and within is a thick, leather-bound tome embellished with intricate designs orbiting a central eye. She picks it up and takes it back to bed with her. As she begins to read over the pages Eliza rests an arm on the sleeping figure next to her. Another memory plays at the back of her mind as she reads; Anna dressed in clothes of morning. She was confessing to Eliza that she felt only relief at the loss of her husband, and this had made her feel guilty and ashamed. Eliza had done all she could to console the newly-made widow Anna Earnshaw, reflecting privately that she did what needed to be done, feeling no guilt or shame at all.

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