I had accompanied Celeste in to the city out of curiousity; on a normal day the shopping habits of any of the women from the courts would not entice me from my study. But the rumours of a resistance rising amongst the lower class had intrigued me, and I tore myself away from plans, scrolls, and announcements to comply with my other roles as Grandmaster - chiefly the relationship between classes. If it were true that the Durmans were rising-
"I have to go in here. Do you mind?" Celeste's voice cut through my thoughts and I paused.
"Of course not. Please, go ahead. I shall wait here."
"Sure you don't want to come in?" She fluttered her eyelashes but I politely declined. She entered the shop and I surveyed the area. We had with us three guards, all Kathites, who were sworn to protect the Grandmaster. Many questioned this, saying I would be safer with guards who were of our own class, but since I had vowed to be fair to each class in turn, as was my role, I saw no problem with allowing these skilled warriors to watch my back.
The streets were quiet, and the occasional Durman that scurried past kept well out of the way. So it had been for centuries now, and would be for-
"Grandmaster?" One of the guards, Jerrick, spoke and I turned to face him. I made sure I knew each guard by name and showed him the respect that a warrior deserved; it made them less likely to betray me.
"Jerrick, is there a problem?"
"It is just the lady has been in the shop unaccompanied for a while now."
"Ah." I had not noticed the time passing, and realised in these difficult times it was unwise for a lady of Celeste's high status to wander in the streets at night unaccompanied. "I shall enquire after her."
So I turned and entered the shop.
"Celeste, are you done here yet?"
She turned to face me, beaming.
"Almost! I'm just waiting for her to find what I want."
"Well if it could be hurried along? The guards are concerned."
"I can take care of myself. Besides this is only my sis- a Durma."
"Your sister?" I caught her unfinished sentance and stepped further in to the shop, curious. So, another family cut apart by the class divide. Of course it was necessary to hone skills but- I wanted to see what Celeste could have been if her situation was not lifted. In the shadows behind the counter I saw movement and then a girl appeared with a vial of what looked like dragon's blood.
She was slim but curvy like her sister, and that is where the resemblance stopped. While Celeste was blonde with sharp blue eyes and a slim mouth, this girl was dark haired with wide green eyes that peered through the gloom at me like lanterns at night. Her skin was tanned slightly, and her lips curved in to perfect-
"Your dragon's blood." She said, placing it on the counter in a bag and looking expectantly at her to be paid.
"It had better be good." Celeste replied. No word of thanks. Her sister's reaction showed me this was nothing of a surprise for her. It shockde me a little that Celeste, who was considered to be one of the kindest members of our class inside the halls, could be so abrupt to her flesh and blood. But the class divide so often had that effect. I saw it around me all the time although I had never experienced it. My own family were all of my class bar one, my sister, who was a Durma. I kept her safe, well fed, and found her a job in the kitchens of the halls in which I lived. It was the least I could do; she had saved my life as a child.
Celeste handed over the coins and took the bag, swishing to my side in her dress.
"Thank you for your custom." I said to the girl and then led Celeste back to the guards.
"Why did you do that?"
"She is still your sister."
"She is Durma."
"Blood is thicker than ink."
She looked at me as though I had just thrown a punch at her.
"Talk like that can get someone in trouble."
"Merely a philosophical statement. I have been reading up on our histories you see and-" I continued this way until we reached the halls and I bid Celeste a goodnight before returning to my study with the intention of reading more about the selection process that shaped our society.