My Camp NaNo novel for July '11
In Verenia, women are effectively treated as slaves. Any woman who has a man who is 'responsible' for her must wear a mask as a symbol to th world that they are 'owned'. Only those who have no male relatives (husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles) are allowed to not wear masks, but these people are outsiders.
Lady Adrianna is the daughter of one of the leading politicians in the Verenian court, and as such must behave in a certain way. But at the age of twenty she
Flaming torches lit the way up the path towards the mansion of Duke Giordano, one of the most influential politicians in the Verenian court. He was holding a ball in honour of his eldest daughter, Adrianna, coming into society as a woman. She was twenty, old enough to be presented at the royal court and marry with the permission of her father.
The entrance to the Duke's house was exquisitely decorated, sparkling chandeliers hung from the ceiling, candles flickering from every corner of the room, illuminating the guests, dressed in silk dresses, linen shirts and exotic masks. Every object, from the jewels worn by the guests, right down to the details on the candlesticks that adorned the room, screamed wealth and prosperity.
The Duke calmly surveyed his guests from the top of his grand staircase, nodding politely at people of importance as they passed below him. It was a habit of his to watch any visitors to his house as they entered, analyzing their every movement, dissecting their body language to reveal any secrets they were trying to hide. After years of trying to outwit his political opponents he had grown very good at reading people.
The way Lady Trovato leant towards her husband’s ward, the young, handsome Carlo De Luca, gave away her hidden desire for him. Duke Baldari’s constant movement from one foot to another displayed his anxiousness at being in the house of one of his more powerful political opponents and his shaking hands proved he’d had to knock back a few glasses of Dutch courage before getting into his carriage to attend the party.
Duke Giordano observed all this from his spot at the top of the stairs.
“Lady Adrianna is ready, your Grace,” a servant whispered in the Duke’s ear as he saw the last of his guests disappear into the large ballroom.
“Bring her down then,” he ordered, the servant scurrying away to convey the Duke’s message to the women waiting upstairs. This evening had to go off without a hitch, everyone knew that, Duke Giordano more than anyone was aware of the importance of his eldest daughter’s entrance into society.
The Duke move away from the stairs, walking through the doors behind him and along the exquisitely decorated hallways towards the small antechamber that led into the ballroom. The small room was deserted when he got there, much to his annoyance, but he waited patiently, observing the fine paintings that decorated his walls. Duke Giordano was a great patron of what the nobles called ‘good’ art; expensive paintings by semi-well known painters of varying quality.
Five minutes later, the door hurriedly opened and four young women entered, three of them fussing around the other.
“Sorry we are late,” the maid apologized. “Lady Adrianna couldn’t find her fan.”
“Then stop fussing so we’re not going to be even later than we already are,” the Duke protested sweeping the women away from his eldest daughter to assess her appearance. “What do you think you’re playing at?” He hissed as he took in the beautiful olive skin of his daughter’s face.
“I told you it was a bad idea,” one of the girls, Vittoria, the middle daughter, muttered in Adrianna’s ear.
“Where is your mask?” The Duke demanded.
“I’m not going to wear it,” Adrianna said strongly. “It is a symbol of oppression and I will not-“
“I don’t care what you think it represents, you will do what I tell you to,” the Duke ordered forcefully. “You are my daughter, you live in my house and you will follow the rules set down by me and by the rest of our society. Do you understand?”
Adrianna backed away slightly but still refusing to say anything.
“Go get my daughter’s mask from her room,” the Duke barked at the maid. “Now!”
The young girl scuttled out of the room, terrified of facing the Duke’s wrath if anything was to go wrong.
“You know how important this evening is,” the Duke hissed at his daughter, leaning in so he was towering over her. “If you do anything else to endanger it’s success then you will wish you had never been born.”
Adrianna nodded, knowing that this wasn’t the time to mess with her father. The maid came back, breathless, into the antechamber and handed the mask over to Vittoria who secured the beautiful red silk cover over her face. The material matched her dress perfectly, the black detailing showing off her coal black hair that was pinned up elegantly so several curls hung around her neck.
“You will be the perfect young lady all those people believe you to be,” the Duke reminded his daughter.
“Yes father,” Adrianna reluctantly replied.
The Duke then turned and threw open the doors, a fixed beaming smile on his face.
“May I present his Grace, Duke Giordano and his daughter, Lady Adrianna.”