Saria Guideman heard the unmistakable sound of bravado and arrogant men posturing and vying for social superiority. She sipped her exquisitely spiced tea from the delicate porcelain cup and let the overstuffed velvet of the coach seats envelop her. The young woman tuned out the ugly sound of men being boys and allowed the finery of luxury to comfort her. Saria felt the soft touch of expensive fabric on her tender fingertips and the subtle sharply sweet taste of mint on her tongue. She felt a proud moment of self-revelry hit her as she was able to seal out everything else in the world and solely exist sounded by the decadence found within her guardian’s coach.
The ward of Hershel Guideman felt her head begin to float as the abundant splendor of the trinkets and trifles that surrounded her provided rampant calm. Saria soon found herself drifting in that alluring place located equal pars between the waking world and the dreaming realm. In spite of the yelling and chest thumping that was abound beyond the golden trimmed walls of the coach Saria was fully enraptured in peace and relaxation. The woman began to revisit her memories of the night that Father Samuel came to call at the Lighthouse Bay Marquee’s manor and the days since that followed.
Before that night Saria had experienced only limited dealings with any of the Vermillion Councilman. She was not sure if she had ever spoken directly with any of the men who donned the Founder’s scarlet before the recital. Saria realized that she more often than not had someone else do her speaking for her. Many times Saria recounted the sound of a nanny, tutor or the Marquee himself responding to the inquiry of a guest at the manor instead of her own voice. She knew it was not born of a place of malice but Saria felt that she was just another one of the Marquee’s treasures. It was unquestionable that Hershel Guideman had a fondness for her, even a paternal measure of love, but at his core the Marquee was a materialistic man of fine taste and precious things. In many ways Saria felt like she was the crown jewel of her guardian’s impressive collection of opulence.
Saria thought on her first serious face to face conversation with Father Samuel. The kind words and deafening reverence that the Councilman showered her with were nothing new to the woman. She was well acquainted with high praise and adoration form many of her guardian’s guests and associations. It always seemed that whenever she turned around there was someone there to sing her praises. Though the particular nature of the complements that Father Samuel had for Saria were not the typical breed of commendations that she was accustomed to. The Councilman had beseeched her with a plea to come to Argaia’s aid. He promised her esteem and grandeur in unending quantity if she were to put her powerful talents to a martial pursuit. In the end the Councilman was no different than her guardian or anyone else who graced the Marquee’s hall. He simply wanted something from her for his own ends.
Saria had to admit that the notion of battle had a strange appeal to it. She had lived such sheltered life that the boundless galas and balls were losing the sparkle they had held in her formative years. Saria was always surrounded by the most refined things the world had to offer. The woman longed for something raw and unfiltered. She wondered what could be more raw than the heat of battle. Hershel had voiced his objections, as was his place as her guardian but even the Marquee of Lighthouse Bay could not resist the will of the Vermillion Council. In any case Saria was most grateful to finally venture beyond the protection of her homeland’s seal wall.
The trek across the barren land of Argaia was hardly a noteworthy affair. There had been precious little to look at but the atmosphere that permeated the traveling caravan had a profound effect on Saria. She had never seen a chimera before let alone the bloodshed that ensued when man met beast. The looming threat of danger and the thought of the monstrous creatures ambushing the precession wove a seductive fantasy in Saria’s mind. She felt some shame to admit it but the fact that her coach and accompanying envoy made it from Lighthouse Bay to the protection of Viros without incident disappointed her.
Saria was ripped from the comfort of her thoughts and the luxury that encompassed her by the escalated sound of men in conflict. She heard voices making all manner of condescending and sarcastic remarks. She recalled Father Samuel’s warning about the woefully ungracious conduct of the Redmoons. From what Saria was able to glean from the words being exchanged outside the coach, the Councilman had been exceptionally kind in his assessment of the Redmoon trio. With a resplendent roll of her eyes, Saria finished the last sip of her tea and stowed the cup and saucer with the rest of the serving set on the coach’s bar. The woman pulled out a beautiful looking glass and proceeded to check over her countenance. Saria only had to fuss minimally with her pearl laden hairpins before she presented the most awe inspiring picture of refinement and class. With a deep exhale and a winning smile she reached for the door handle of the coach and stepped out into the courtyard of the Amurai barracks.
Noah Redmoon heard the challenge that enlaced itself in Abbot Torrance’s statement. Noah was certain that whoever Lighthouse Bay had proffered for his consideration would be found quite wanting. The Viros man could not imagine the little coastal region had any practitioner of magic that could rival his own or either of his siblings, even on their worst days.
“If I may be so bold, how can you be so sure that any of us would care to meet the person you have brought from Lighthouse Bay? If the quality of the stock of would be heroes that the council has already brought to our city is any indication then I should think that this will be yet another underwhelming meeting,” Noah said with something that was neither smirk nor frown but had elements of each expression.
“Yes, as I recall the council promised all of us quite the spectacle from the newcomers. So far the exhibition of power wielded by your recruits has been comparatively lackluster to what I had envisioned,” chimed in Noah’s sister, Ester as she grandly strode about the courtyard and made a thorough show of her apathetic superiority.
Before Moses Redmoon could add his own verbal arrows to the salvo from his family members, Abbot Torrance interjected with his practiced cadence of paternal command. “With the deepest respect Master and Lady Redmoon, do not be so swift to dismiss the blossoming skill of those who the Council have summoned to your city. The assembly is nearly complete and the conclave will be a swift affair. I assure you that once all great cities are represented and formal proceedings commence that what was promised will be delivered,” the Abbot said with power and far reaching authority in his words. Despite his inspiring presence it was clear to see that his assurance had done precious little to move the three Redmoons from their unified place of skepticism. The venerable Councilman was in the midst of preparing a further statement to provide Noah, Moses and Ester with the convincing that they so required but before her could speak again the melodic sound of an otherworldly orchestral voice filled the courtyard with majesty.
“Excuses my irruption your grace, I am grateful for your efforts to on my behalf but if it would please you, I will make my own introductions,” said Saria Guideman as she emerged from the coach in the courtyard with all the grace of a winter sunrise breaking over a vast field of freshly fallen snow.
As she spoke her ethereal voice ensnared the attention of every living spirt present in the barracks. Her voice floated on the air and enraptured all who heard it with a powerful sense of calm and peace. It seemed as though only the three members of the Redmoon family heald any measure of resistance to the seductive voice of Saria Guideman. The ward of Lighthouse Bay’s Marquee seemed to glide around the courtyard, nearly appearing to be in many places at once. In a mind breaking display it was like she was simultaneously able to make each person there feel like she was giving them their her sole attention.
“I am Saria Guideman, the ward of Lighthouse Bay’s patron and renowned man of excellence, Marquee Hershel Guideman, I am pleased to meet each and every one of you,” Saria sang as she continued to waft about the courtyard in a dazzling omnipresent display.
As she passed Moses, the man’s face was instantly relaxed and abandoned his perpetual state of better than thou.
“I am so inspired to see the fine collection of brave fighting men and women gathered here today. I am no stranger to things great and grand but I must confess that I have never seen an assembly so keen as what is present here in this moment. You are all a true testament to the strength of this great city and the Vermillion Council,” Saria continued with a flawless execution of words that would have seemed like unabashed sycophancy were they to pass from anyone else’s lips. As she passed Ester Redmoon, those with a keen eye would have seen the Viros woman’s skin turn a jealous shade that was normally reserved for her brothers antics.
“I have never had the privilege to be received in Viros before, let alone travel outside of my home in Lighthouse Bay. I look forward to learning first-hand about the pride and rich history encased in the great walls of your city. I also will delight in making the individual acquaintance of many new friends while I am here,” Saria continued with a master hostess’s voice while dancing all over the courtyard with dizzying alacrity. She was about to press on in her grand entrance until she stopped right in front of Noah Redmoon. Saria felt as though her feet had been mired in a thick mud. She looked down to see that she was standing in his shadow. The moment had thrown her form her performance but somehow she did not take offence to the disturbance. Saria actually felt a strange sensation as the physical manifestation of Noah darkness reached out and touched her. Saria found comfort and even safety laden in Noah’s shadow. She looked the man in his eyes and continued speaking though this time with a vulnerable and unrehearsed quality. “I will indeed delight in meeting you,” Saria said with her true voice as she released her spectral hold on the minds of all those gathered in the courtyard.
Noah looked back into the eyes of Saria. He felt a totally foreign warmth caused in his body as he looked at her. As he stared into her perfectly golden eyes for the first time he felt something peculiarly familiar. It was like his blood recognized hers instantly. Noah felt like he was looking into the face of someone that he had known since the origin of time itself. When Noah Redmoon looked at Saria Guideman, the man who was so masterfully well acquainted with darkness and shadows saw nothing but light, beautiful light.