calm sea during golden hour





1/3/20245 min read


“Elliot has always been the trouble child.” Elwynne said wistfully, her inhaler still clutched in her ghostly pale slender fingers. “I’m sorry to say it, but he still is. He’s a great brother, but he’s the troublemaker in the family and he probably always will be. He’s always been bitter about our life, which I…frankly, I understand, but there’s no use fussing about it. Is there?”

It seemed like a rhetoric question to Vienna, but she still shook her head.

“I knew about the plan, obviously. He’s tried to get me to help him so many times, but I’ve always refused. I always thought it was a bit of a joke, that he was fooling about it and didn’t really mean it. But now…”

Elwynne’s face grew paler still. Vienna was worried the girl might faint, with her poor health and her asthma, added with the horrible news.

“Should I…should I tell Elswyth?” asked Vienna, fiddling with a small marble rose on Elwynne’s art desk. She knew she would have to, but she needed her best friend’s advice on it.

“Vivi, you have to.” Elwynne’s eyebrows drew together. “This isn’t a game on Elliot’s part…it’s probably serious, and I don’t think he’d listen to me if I tried to talk him out of it. I’ll try…but it won’t work.”

“How do I even start?” Vienna stood up from her chair and started pacing the room, from one end to the other, her feet grazing the plush carpet. “How do I just…go up to her and tell her that her brother wants to destroy everything she’s created over the years? How do I explain that she’s been a terrible sister? She’ll…she’ll decapitate me!”

“Vivi.” Elwynne said in a voice that was somehow both calm and firm. “Calm down. There’s nothing to be scared of. You didn’t do anything wrong, did you?”
Vienna rapidly shook her head.

“You didn’t help Elliot, didn’t give in to his plans, didn’t map out the mutiny?”

“No.” Vienna breathed out.

“Then you’re fine.” Elwynne nodded to herself, getting up and sweeping a bunch of sketchbooks off her art desk. They landed on the floor, but she barely seemed to notice. She seemed to be gathering papers of some kind, so she didn’t see when Vienna picked up one of her sketchbooks and opened it.

The contents were…they were beautiful, that was all Vienna could say. It contained pristine, intricately real sketches of her, Dimitri, Elliot, Elswyth, Lyss, some of the Blue and Crimson Badges. Her and Dimitri, laughing in one of their hangout sessions on the hills. Elswyth at a conference with the head of the Crimson Badges, Elliot actually smiling as he stood in the castle solarium, Lyss in a sunflower field somewhere in Niflheim, the Badges standing at attention outside the Castle Gates, the view outside the castle windows. All of it was so magnificently captured that she was quite breathless. The ones of her were mostly candid shots, sketches of her at the dinner tables or in the vineyard or smiling as she talked to someone.

She was…stunned.

She’d never been anybody’s muse before.

And Elwynne’s art…it was the best she’d ever seen. Every pencil stroke seemed to be etched with the utmost care and love. Elwynne should have been proud of herself.

“I think I know what to do.” Elwynne’s voice broke her out of her reverie. Vienna hastily dropped the sketchbook on the floor, amidst all the other ones and focused her eyes on Elwynne’s steady heretochromic eyes. The Mistral siblings’ eyes were the kind of pretty you couldn’t look at for long.

“I’m all ears,” Vienna nodded. Elwynne gestured at her to come forward, so Vienna advanced and peered at the multifarious papers on them.

“What are these, Wynnie?” Vienna asked, bewildered. They were all random bits of paper with scribbles on them. In Latin, too. Elwynne was something.

Just like her brother. Except Elwynne hadn’t betrayed her sister’s life work. And Elwynne wasn’t quite a inveighler.

“Yes, these won’t mean anything to you. Look at this.”

Elwynne pulled out a fat leatherbound notebook and waved it in the air before setting it down.

“This is a note Elliot sent to me a few months back. Before you arrived.”

Vienna took the letter and read it over. Once. Twice. Then thrice.

It was a full list of information on her, from her height and weight to her family’s professions and middle names. It was almost eerie, the attention to detail that was present on the list. Her hair color was even recorded with that same precise attention.

Hair a natural black, undyed except for once in the month of November, 2023, when dyed in streaks from a Garnier box dye (Burgundy), which did not show except for in sunlight. Hair has not been colored since then.

Even her reading habits.

Vienna Alcestis seems to prefer books which are situated in dystopian landscapes, classic novels, but also poetry and haikus. She does not refrain from dog-earing pages, but has recently taken up the habit of laminating her books with Scotch tape. She is prone to self-inserting her own characters in stories which are inspired from the book, which, however, she leaves off after a few pages. Reading books is often, necessary, and enjoyable in her opinion.

As well as her food habits. Her hobbies, her daily schedule, her sketches, her music taste, her book, her family, her school life, her house, everything was recorded down to a pin. She had known, of course, that the Parcae had been recording all of this, but it was simply out of her grasp that Elliot had this information, too.


Elwynne’s expression softened at the look on Vienna’s paling face.

“You do know you were monitored for months before you were brought here, didn’t you?” Elwynne asked, her eyebrows raising as she surveyed Vienna with her heterochromatic eyes.

“Yes, by the Parcae, but…only the Parcae could know all this. How did Elliot find out? How could he get this…note?”

“Vienna, it was’t just the Parcae who were on your surveillance. You know that, don’t you?” Elwynne said, her voice descending a few notches. “Not to alarm you, but there was a whole force dedicated to getting all your little details. The Parcae…they were just a tailored trio picked out for your escorting. All the preferees…they had a special trio handpicked for them. People who would fit them, but those were just the front line. There’s these spectatores ,they watch. All day, every day, for a whole year.”

Vienna couldn’t say she wasn’t alarmed, but the scopophobia didn’t hit her brain as hard as it normally would, her mind was just numbed by one single question.

How did Elliot find out?” Vienna pressed further, her tone hardening to a point she would never use with Elwynne, but she was consumed by the need to know. She had been trying to control her anger for so long, but the control was slipping away in her greed. For a minute, she feared she was becoming the monster she had always suspected she was. The monster that had been passed down to her.

“Please, just tell me.” She added in a gentler voice.

Elwynne raised an eyebrow, but went on.

“He’s a Royal. He’ll ask once and he’ll get everything he wants.” Elwynne replied, with a wistful smile on his face.

Vienna nodded quickly. Her life was going downhill now.

She needed to do something to fix it.

And only a good night’s sleep would start her slow voyage to self-help.