She tugged at the hem of her silk dress, unused to the delicate, clinging fabric. It was uncomfortable to wear while riding along mountainous paths; and she feared to get it soiled in any way. It had cost more money than she’d seen collectively on the islands, though the letters in her pocket promised enough for a large estate and a wardrobe finer than what she currently wore. A sigh caved stiff shoulders when her companion finally slowed, and she eagerly jumped from her horse, tripping ungracefully on her skirts as she landed. “Must I wear this ridiculous clothing?” She huffed in irritation, picking her skirts from touching the ground as she stomped toward her uncle. She had not known of his existence until three days prior and had since found out that was his preferred method of habitation.
His reply was grunted, mustache twitching as he spoke. “I know you’ve been out of touch with society for a while, but you need to learn the hierarchy pretty quickly. Silk is a sign of wealth, and you are fortunate enough to be a member of the upper class.” His tone nearly matched her irritation, though a level of patience was displayed that she could only hope to ever achieve. “I wish it didn’t have to be this way, kid, but unfortunately that’s the way this family works. We all have to pay our dues.” He turned his back to her then as he removed the saddlebags from his horse, clearly done with conversation until they settled for her lessons later that night. It had been much the same their previous days on the road, for her uncle was a man of few words until it was time to teach.
“I did not realize the price was so high,” she whispered, muttering to herself as she handed the reins to a stable hand.They were staying at The Mountain Pass, a two story inn that displayed a painted bird between two mountain peaks. She would need much rest in preparation for tomorrow, for it had been planned since the day she was born.
She stifled the gasp at the price for their two rooms – she would have to get used to such money after all – and followed the innkeeper up the narrow stairs to a tidy room. It was quite spacious with a bed against the wall, a wardrobe and a washstand. A window opened to a beautiful view of the Storm Sea. How it raged in the distance, thunder rumbling the window panes while flashes of lighting cast eerie shadows over the trees below. She could see figures moving in the clouds, shapes that no creature she had ever seen fit. What was she getting herself into?
Their meal was served in a private dining chamber, in which her uncle drilled her for hours on etiquette, how she was expected to behave, and what she should be prepared for as soon as she stepped foot on the campus. Already people were watching the travelers that filtered into the town. The inn was full of arduous nobles preparing for the early day, but she had been fortunate enough to avoid socializing with anyone. Their clothing hosted finer embroidery than many of the other patrons, and it had not even been asked if they wanted their meal in private; it had been assumed. It would take much for her to get used to this life, but she was determined.
Late into the night did they bid farewell, for once the morning came, they would go their separate ways and likely never see each other again. It was bitter in a way, for he had been the only contact she had on the mainland. All interactions now would be blind. Her heart beat anxiously and once she was finally able to sleep, her dreams were filled with apprehension and her ferry falling from the Storm Sea into a den of vipers.