|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
It was the middle of the day with the sun shining through the large windows behind Victoria, casting bright rays of light into the office suite.
The day had been relatively cloudy, but for some reason, the clouds disappeared over the course of around half an hour, letting the sunlight shine through with impunity. With a wave of her hands for dramatic flare and a bit of magic, the curtains on the windows drew shut, casting the room into darkness.
Ismelda stood up from the seat where she had been reading. “Victoria, I keep telling you to leave things like that to me. I’m supposed to be your assistant.”
“Does it matter whether or not you do it or I do it? The end result is the same.” Victoria didn’t even bother to look up at Ismelda. “Besides, how long would it take if I call your name, wait for you to reply, tell you to close the curtains, wait for you to find the curtain rod, and then close the curtains one by one?”
“Even the time it took me to list out these steps was longer than the time and effort it took for me to close the curtains with magic. You should just accept reality and realize that your presence here is extraneous. Hurry up and convince your mother to take you back.” Victoria paused before she corrected herself. “Actually, you’re the one who ran away in the first place. It’s time for you to be more mature and go back home.”
“No!” Ismelda, who was so calm and the very image of a detached and collected lady, suddenly turned into a little girl throwing a tantrum. She threw down the book. “I refuse to go back! I hate her!”
“Ha…” Victoria decided to continue ignoring the girl, since they’ve already had this conversation many times already. Each time, they came to an impasse, with Victoria unable to convince Ismelda to leave of her own volition, and with Ismelda unable to get Victoria to give her actual work to do to make her self-appointed attendant position official.
Yes, Victoria had considered just kicking Ismelda out, but on the other hand, Ismelda was her niece. She was also diligent and helpful…just a little disrespectful toward her elders. Such a nice girl didn’t deserve to be out on the streets, and who knew what might happen to Ismelda if Victoria kicked her out?
Where will Ismelda go? What if someone shady kidnapped her, or tricked her away?
Basically, Victoria would be worried about Ismelda’s safety if she kicked her niece out, so she didn’t.
As Victoria finished reading a proposal that seeked to expand the district primarily inhabited by dwarves, she thought about it and after consulting an accounting book to see if there were necessary funds, signed the proposal to green light the operation.
Following that, there was a noise complaint from the beastmen district regarding the neighboring gnomes. The noise complaint had started as an individual quarrel and slowly escalated as more and more people added their complaints, escalating the conflict until it arrived on her desk.
Being the lord of city was hard work, having to make hard decisions every day. As the supreme judicial power, she had to mediate between all the different races living in the city and keep all of them as happy as possible.
One wrong stop and she might have one faction or another dissatisfied with her. While it wasn’t a big deal, it could be disheartening. Deciding to not bother ruling on the complaint, essentially letting the existing judicial decision stand, she quickly penned out a message to be sent to the courts later.
Compared to mediating appeals, Victoria much preferred decisions that involved pure numbers and clear right and wrong answers. However, those problems rarely arrived at her desk since most of those would have already been solved.
With so much on her plate, was it any surprise she took time off whenever possible to see how her cute daughter was doing? It was a mother’s instincts to want to witness her child’s growth.
She even saw an embarrassing side of her daughter a few days ago, rolling around on the forest floor with that lich.
Victoria contemplated whether or not she should just retire and pass off her position to someone else. However, Irinoth was a city she watched grow from a village to a town to the settlement it was now, so she always talked herself out of it. “How troublesome.”
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“What’s troublesome?” Ismelda asked, looking up.
“You are,” Victoria immediately replied, barely even realizing what she had said. Such replies were already ingrained in her mind.
“I’m not! I’m always quiet and I don’t bother you,” Ismelda protested. “So make me your attendant. Would you like tea?”
“I would rather you leave. Seriously; I pity your mother sometimes, picking someone like you to be her daughter. Why can’t you be like mine, all obedient and sweet?”
Yes, her daughter was the best. At least her daughter liked her, even if that feeling of affection was a bit shallow. Compared to a troublemaker like Ismelda who was still in a fight with her mother after so many years despite already having fully accepted her vampirism, Camilla was practically an angel.
“Don’t look at me with that expression full of doubt on your face,” Victoria said. She had looked up to see why Ismelda had suddenly stopped talking where she’d usually protest the comparison or somehow justify her behavior, only to find the girl staring at her.
Caught, Ismelda went back to her books.
Before her transformation into a vampire, Ismelda had been a prince of trolls. Trolls were notoriously stupid and hated literature and the fine arts of other races, and their society stagnated in the form of nomadic tribes that only occasionally united for war.
It was surprising, but Ismelda actually liked to read. After becoming a vampire noble and receiving a huge boost in intelligence as a result of her transformation, she became a bookworm, having unlocked a whole new form of entertainment. However, she never gave up her troll’s martial heritage, so in the end, Ismelda the fighting bookworm was born.
Naturally, Ismelda took her defeat at Camilla’s hands quite hard, no matter how many times Victoria reminded her that she lost to a group of templars and not Camilla alone.
What a troublesome, stubborn, prideful girl.
The afternoon passed by, and the paperwork that had accumulated slowly decreased. Every now and then, a worker would come in to either pick up or deliver new paperwork, but thanks to Victoria’s efficiency, she made decent progress through the stacks of paper whose height had been oscillating all day.
Although Victoria didn’t ask for it, Ismelda had left and returned with a tea set of freshly brewed tea. Even Victoria had to admit that Ismelda was skilled at making tea…but on the other hand, tea was pretty much all Ismelda was good for.
Letting the calming, warm aroma of the tea fill her mind, she relaxed after a long day of hard work. Aside from bringing out the tea’s natural flavor without letting it get bitter, Ismelda also added just enough sugar to have the sweetness show through, striking a fine balance in a way only a master at brewing tea could.
As she sipped the tea while reading through the summary of a progression report on the extermination of mana beasts in the city’s surroundings as well as construction of an arena for blood sports involving mana beasts, there was a series of knocks on the door.
Three times, different from the four times that she instructed her employees to do. In other words, whoever stood beyond the door wasn’t someone affiliated with the city, or was talking on behalf of something unrelated to the city.
Setting the teacup down with a sharp clink and motioning for Ismelda to put down her sword, she called for the person to enter.
The door swung open and…a vampire walked in. A lesser vampire, dressed in a fancy coat and with neatly trimmed hair. The coat was red and trimmed with black and gold.
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Red, black, and gold.
The colors of the royal family.
Again. Victoria sighed. “No,” she said, before the man could even speak. The man furrowed his brows, but as an ordinary vampire, he could not back talk to a vampire noble.
Instead, he simply stuck to his mission, something that he knew Victoria couldn’t fault him for.
Rolling her eyes, Victoria crossed her arms and waited for him to finish speaking so she could kick him out right after.
“Your Highness, your mother Her Majesty requests that you return to the capital. She ails and desires your presence at her side,” the lesser vampire said, and then stopped, probably waiting for her reply before he continued.
Just in case, Victoria tried to see how her mother was doing through their bond, only to find her blocked out. She smiled thinly. “If she’s so sick, why won’t she let me see her right now? Why is she blocking me instead? Is she hiding how healthy she is right now?”
“I dare not presume to know Her Majesty’s will.” The vampire bowed.
“Hmph. Then my reply remains the same. No, I will not return. Do you have a better reason?”
The vampire didn’t say anything. However, a few moments later, as Victoria was about to become impatient and tell him to leave, he perked up. “Your Highness, please check on Her Majesty’s state right now.”
Sighing, Victoria checked her blood bond again. This time, her mother didn’t block her blood projection scry. Through the bonds they shared, Victoria saw her mother sitting weakly in a chair with a hand held dramatically over her head, as if suffering from a fever and headache.
The woman’s chest rose and fell almost imperceptibly, each movement shallow as could be, as if she was about to cease breathing any moment. Her lips moved, whispering a name. “Oh, Victoria…”
It was beautiful acting, really. Without context, perhaps Victoria might have really believed her. With context, however…Victoria looked at her mother’s surroundings and saw that she was sitting at a table with a fruit bowl in the middle. And behind that decorative bowl was a half-eaten cake.
Victoria’s thin smile widened. Yes, keep on acting. Let’s see how long you’ll keep the act up for, she thought to herself. Leaving a tiny bit of herself behind to keep tabs on her mother, she drew most of her consciousness back to her body.
Before she could even tell the messenger to leave, the little piece of herself witnessed her mother suddenly sit up as if nothing was wrong, and then connection was blocked once more.
“Go back and tell her to try again,” Victoria said. “Tell her to hide the cake better next time.”
The vampire sighed. After a brief but low and respectful bow, he left the room, leaving behind Victoria and Ismelda. With baleful eyes, Victoria looked at Ismelda.
This was all her older sister’s fault.
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“Hurry up and tell your mother to go home!”
Ismelda stubbornly shook her head.
Urgh. Like mother, like daughter. Both were immature, always making trouble for her.
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