“Ah, Adelina. Good to see you,” Augustus greeted from his throne-like seat as she walked into his large parlor.
She thought of the last time she saw him – the look of hatred he had given her, and her almost dying by strangulation – and inwardly snorted.
He smiled cruelly at her, as if he could read her mind, and beckoned him closer with a wave of his hand.
Elizabeth stepped away from her side and seemed to blend into the shadows on the wall at Lord DeVaine’s motion. Reluctantly, Adelina stepped closer, stopping a few feet in front of her uncle. Her eyes flickered to the blonde sitting next to her, immediately identifying her as Trisha Celaswen. She looked just like her younger sister, if not a little older and more regal-looking. Trisha’s own sapphire eyes glittered with barely hidden amusement and contempt.
Augustus vaguely gestured at the blonde, not even sparing her a glance. “My betrothed, the Lady Celaswen. She’s been anxious to meet you, Adelina.”
Trisha smirked, standing smoothly from her seat, then began to approach Adelina. She stood just in front of the redhead, looking down at her, before slowly circling her.
Adelina felt like she was being inspected to be sold off.
“Yes, she is very obviously Rosalina’s spawn –“ the redhead visibly bristled at the thinly-veiled insult, “- but the traces of her human father are so very obvious. Why hasn’t she been Purged yet?”
“Because, Lady Celaswen,” her uncle said, his tone indicating this was a subject that had been discussed countless times before, “I want her to know of this world before she is Purged. She will be a changed person once the human DNA is gone, and we need to train her now, rather than later.”
“The longer you wait, the more that disgusting blood flows through her veins! Are you willing to allow your current heir to –“
“Enough, Lady Celaswen.” The air thickened, and although Adelina wasn’t the target of her uncle’s anger, she felt like bolting for the door. “I understand you are as new to our Earthly customs as a newborn, but we have learned that training a newly Purged is almost impossible. They only think of feeding, and it leads to chaos.”
The pressure around the atmosphere suddenly lightened. Trisha gave her another look of disdain before returning to her seat next to Augustus. Pleased, the older man turned his gaze to his niece, who stared back defiantly at him.
“Alright, back to business,” he said, gesturing at a young girl in a maid’s outfit. Timidly, the girl walked towards him and handed him a manila folder. On the tab, it said, “ROMAN, ADELINA TINERIETH.”
She twitched. She had never even known she had a middle name. And what sort of name was Tinerieth anyway…her mother must have been the one to pick that ridiculous name.
“That which gives light to others,” she murmured aloud, without realization.
Augustus looked up from the contents of the manila folder, giving her a hard, piercing look. After a moment of staring (which the redhead felt extremely uncomfortable with; it took all her strength to not fidget in front of him), he finally replied, “Yes, that is the meaning of Tinerieth. It was our mother’s – your grandmother’s name.”
He leaned forward, staring at her intently, as if she was an interesting painting he was attempting to analyze. “Tell me,” he said, his eyes giving nothing away, “How is that you know the meaning of a name from the native tongue? I doubt that Rosalina ever bothered to tell you that you had a middle name, much less that it was Acaerian and what it’s meaning was.”
“She didn’t,” she replied, her features twisted in delicate confusion. “I just…knew…”
Augustus’ face didn’t betray how he felt about her revelation, however mutterings filled the room, and for the first time since she had entered the room, it finally registered in Adelina’s mind that a group of people – her uncle’s council, she recalled from her talk with Elizabeth – were standing behind Augustus’ and Trisha’s throne-like seats.
With one hand from the older, male redhead, the mutterings died down, and Augustus assessed her for one more moment before returning to her file. She stared it, wondering what sort of information it had on her.
“Elizabeth,” Augustus called out, not looking up from the folder, “have you informed her of how the education system works?”
Stepping out from the shadows, the brunette, keeping her head bowed respectfully, replied, “I haven’t had the chance to, my lord.”
He looked up from the folder, his eyes flashing in irritation. “You can’t inform a newly Awakened about the basics of how our society works, although you have had ample amounts of time to? You are more useless than I speculated.” He tsked in disappointment, before waving his hand in dismissal.
Adelina didn’t have to look at her (former) best friend to tell that she was fuming. She could practically feel the vibes of anger coming off the brunette, who gave Augustus a stiff bow before leaving the room.
“I suppose I shall have to explain everything to you myself then,” he said, apparently oblivious to the rage he had incurred in Elizabeth.
“Every newly awakened Acaerian must learn how to control their abilities. That will be the same for you. However, as a human-bred Acaerian, you will have an extra teacher to teach you the traditions that your full-fledged Acaerian counterparts grow up learning. You will be taught be these two second-year Acaerians for a year, until you come to your second year and move on to your focus studies.”
Adelina cut him off from explaining further, “But I don’t want to be here. I want to go back home, to my human school, and lead a human life. So my mother had this huge secret, big deal. It doesn’t have anything to do with me or –“
Augustus silenced her with a piercing glare, which she returned unwaveringly. They glared at each other for another minute, before Augustus broke away from her gaze, chuckling quietly.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are so like your mother, Tinerieth?” he asked, his tone fond and his sharp eyes unusually soft.
Adelina started at the use of her newly discovered middle name. “No,” she replied, her tone bitter, “because she wasn’t around enough for anyone to talk about how alike we looked.”
He waved his hand dismissively. “Most DeVaine women share certain physical features. Red hair and blue eyes with the occasional hint of green – that’s the sure marking of a DeVaine,” he explained to her, “what I meant was your personalities are…were…so very alike. I can remember how much we fought in the days before she ran away, and you standing her in front of me…”
He cleared his throat, his eyes growing sharp once more, and gestured at two figures that stood behind his throne-seat. “These are Kendawyr and Threnia DeVaine. Kendawyr will be teaching you how to control your new abilities, until next year when you choose a focus. Threnia will teach you our traditions, and how our society works. Your schedule will be dependent on their preferences, and you will do everything they ask of you. Think of them as an extension of myself,” he gave her an unpleasant smile, and she fought the urge to snarl back at him.
She didn’t miss the shared last name, and as Kendawyr and Threnia came forward, it was clear that they were both related to Augustus, and by extension, her as well. Threnia had a taller and much willower build compared to Adelina’s, and her red hair was closer to ginger than Adelina’s dark red hair. Their eyes, nose, and mouth were almost identical however, and Adelina shuddered. It was creepy to see a stranger with her facial features.
Kendawyr was tall and muscled, with short-cropped auburn hair, bright green eyes, and a prominent jawline. He looked like he could carry about fifty Adelina’s on both his arms with no problem. Her eyes widened. What was he exactly was he going to teach her? Because she wasn’t sure if she would survive it…
“DeVaine?” she asked, addressing Augustus. “Are they –“
The older man looked impatient, and quickly answered her question. “Yes, they are your cousins, from a distant family line.”
Adelina blinked. She had only been in this new place for a day, and she already had more family members than she ever had her entire life – an irritating uncle, and two cousins who looked like they would rather be anywhere than here. Just another reason she wanted to get back to her old life and forget the last two days had ever happened.
Augustus turned to the two redheads, handing the manila folder with her name on it to Kendawyr, murmuring softly to them. Adelina scowled at them, then tried to catch snippets of their conversation – which was obviously about her – if possible.
All too soon, the pair nodded at Augustus and he leaned back into his seat, seemingly satisfied with their response. Her scowled deepened; she hadn’t heard a word, and she had succeeded in giving herself a headache for all her troubles.
Threnia strode forward, her posture rigid and formal and glanced down her nose at her. Kendawyr stood behind her, his posture much less formal and his thumbs digging into his jeans pockets. Threnia came to halt as they faced each other, and spoke to Adelina, “Come with us. We have a lot to discuss before your lessons begin.”
With that, she walked to the door, not looking back to check that the younger redhead was actually following her. Kendawyr flashed her a grin before following his sister out of the door.
Adelina glanced at Augustus, who was having a whispered conversation with Trisha, yet turned and gave her a small smile before returning his gaze to his betrothed. She scoffed inwardly, ignoring the warmth she felt at the comforting smile, and reluctantly followed Kendawyr and Threnia out of the “throne-room”.