The Fiers’ 18th child was born at home in San Myshuno. Whereas baby #17 had been named Elmire (meaning wealthy, famous princess) by her father, baby #18 had been named Ennik (meaning sword/sword fighter) by her mother. Adelise didn’t want a violent daughter, but she’d sensed that this child would need strength, so she gave Ennik a sword as a name and hoped it would inspire her to take heart, stand strong, and recognize her abilities.
Vampires could be a touchy subject and music was a difficult one. But they were Elmire’s biggest interests, so before Ennik’s birth, Adelise wanted to converse with Elmire about these things (unlike some other people) because Adelise loved listening to her daughter’s thoughts and never meant to discourage her even though Elmire sometimes felt that her mother was very discouraging.
Elmire’s father was a vampire and some of her sisters were vampires, but Elmire was not, or at least her parents had told her that she wasn’t and that Ennik wasn’t either, but there weren’t any differences between vampires and others before adolescence, and Elmire was still a kid, so how could they know for sure? Elmire didn’t have strong opinions about being a vampire or not being one because she didn’t want to get her hopes up either way, but she also didn’t want to be unprepared if it turned out that she was one. She wanted to know as much as she could about them.
Still, her mother insisted that there were pre-adolescence differences (they were just subtle) and that Elmire wasn’t a vampire and that she wasn’t going to suddenly become one upon aging up to a teenager either. They’d done a pre-natal scan of Elmire to check. They hadn’t done such a scan for Ennik, but Asher already had 4 vampire children. Given that and that the vampire population seemed to be hard capped at a certain number and that that number had already been exceeded, the chance of Asher having another vampire child was almost negligible (less than 1/100,000,000).
Regardless, Elmire wasn’t convinced: there was a chance! And mistakes existed, signs were sometimes missed, and there were “miracles” and exceptions, and didn’t people say that Elmire was “supernaturally” talented, so… Adelise changed the subject. She brought up the piano and praised Elmire for her piano skills.
Elmire beamed, thanked her mother, and told her that she’d been seriously considering playing “Lot of the Rising Sun” for her special performance. It wasn’t a technically difficult piece, but she liked it and she wanted to see if she could give it a new interpretation inspired by Aster.
Elmire thought she didn’t have a hope of expressing her admiration for Aster verbally because her thoughts were mostly feelings and she’d already tried using words in her journal (with the help of a dictionary and a thesaurus!), but it always came out sounding too childish (“I like my sister because she’s very beneficent”). Her feelings, however, were not childish. She wanted to tell Aster thanks because she could sense that Aster was always kind and a big help to the family even though at times that had probably been extremely hard. Elmire reasoned that she was going to try to be a good older sister to Ennik, but she didn’t have endless patience like Aster and if Ennik messed with Elmire’s journal or piano eight times, the eighth time Elmire would probably get mad and say something very unkind to Ennik with the intention of making Ennik cry.
Asher approached Liliana, the butler. Liliana remained professional, but she didn’t like speaking with him because he was always telling awful jokes, asking her to quickly and covertly fix Elmire’s doll house (after he smashed it), or criticizing her work.
Asher: Liliana, you should be discreet, loyal, nimble and alert, quick, spick and span, in apple-pie order, and enlightened.
Asher: You do things that I don’t tell you to do.
Liliana: I act when I notice something that needs to be done.
She worked hard and took her job seriously, and told herself (that this time at least) she wasn’t going tolerate any unfair criticism. Still, though, she had to make sure she was right, so she took a moment to reflect.
Among many other things, she cleaned up messes without being asked and scrubbed tubs.
She also worked as instant IT support.
And gave massages…
Did it matter if she cringed a little when he released “the Sound and the Fury”? She thought he hadn’t noticed and was that such a big mistake? Honestly, some smells cannot be ignored by even the most stoic people.
She had been reflecting, not listening to her employer, and that was a mistake. Oops.
Asher: So, here’s a raise.
Liliana: Oh. Wow. 🙂 Thank you!
Had he been criticizing her or did his praise just sound like criticism?