Light and wind in equal parts made the room a turbulent place where one would not expect to find such. Where usually there would be glass to bar the wind from the Exeo’s office, there was only empty space with jagged blades at the edges of the frame. Aismael stood with her back turned to Vaciti, hands clasped behind her backs, nails cleanly manicured, clothes in pristine condition--though windblow, as was her golden hair. The light framed her silhouette and while one might feel awe and inspiration at the picturesque image of her for a moment, the reality of the situation would soon dawn on them as it surely would Vaciti.
The window had been shattered. Frost stung Vaciti’s face. Aismael was furious.
Making no move to turn and acknowledge the Exeo-to-be, the Queen-heir let the silence hang for longer than was polite, before breaking the silence.“Vaciti vex Contierre,”
she said, and her voice was ice
Frighteningly cold vis flowed from her form, passing from the room and into the evening air. Outside, high in the sky, the sun’s fading light was ever so slowly filtered as clouds of unnatural blue gradually gathered and spread throughout the city.“What a pleasure it is to see you again. You may rise.”
Frost, somehow, failed to accumulate on the ground and furniture in the office, leaving everything ‘cept the window frame and the two prae untouched. If she paid close attention she might notice the faintest hint of steam at the very edges of the room. So thin that it wasn’t easily noticeable or even terribly apparent upon observation.“I’m glad to know that someone so eminently competent will be under my instruction,”
as she turned she said it stopping so she was standing sideway, her piercing cold gaze locked on Vaciti. There was the faintest of smiles on her face, but it didn’t reach her eyes.“I hope your trip was uneventful,”
she prodded gently, though a storm to rival the deepest most harsh winter roiled beneath the surface of her calm exterior. Altogether, her seeming calm would only sow a greater unease when contrasted with the biting wind of the room and the gathering storm outside.
Vaciti rose as she was bidden, holding her head high and unflinching at the wind and the cold. She was uneasy in this situation, the obvious wrath of her superior biting at her. But she was better than those who might have displayed such fear, such uneasiness. No, she was better than that. Her eyes may have betrayed a small slit of that unease as restlessness, but nothing else would show it.
There was a small disturbance further in, perhaps of a visual distortion created from the frost creeping through the room and along her spine, a trick of the eyes perhaps. Vaciti, however, attributed it further to the power of Aismael.
At the compliment, Vaciti bowed her head slightly, her face remaining an otherwise neutral mask.
The question lingered for just a moment before Vaciti twirled her hand in motion. “The trip was uneventful, my Exeo. Nothing of note, nothing of consequence,”
she replied in her musical voice. Where Aismael was ice, Vaciti's voice was like warm honey. “What may I do for you, Excellency?”
Silver eyes regarded her, cutting to the bone just as the cold around them did. A lesser prae would have been bent or broken by it. She was pleased that Vaciti was not, but it didn’t show. “There is an infestation in my city, Vaciti,”
she began, walking to the side of her desk. She placed her hand on the surface of the richly colored wood. Ice crystallized and spread over its surface, but never layered it, instead staying at a static level. The same distortion appeared over the surface of the desk.
Eyes having turned to the wood for a brief moment and then to a painting, the Exeo continued. “It is...a small thing. I believe it can be crushed before it becomes a problem. However, much like recent events, it brings to light the silhouette of a greater problem.”
Her gaze shifted to Vaciti’s eyes and held there, unshakeable, dominating, and chilling in their intensity. “I’ve put a man in charge of a small taskforce. You will oversee it alongside him. You have three weeks to wipe out the pests and bring their leaders before me. If you succeed in this, and perhaps another choice task or two, you will be formally recognized and your place beneath our divine mother, the God-Queen Amana, will be assured.”
She lifted her fingertips from the desk and closed the distance between them, placing the same hand in front of her, palm up.
She said nothing, but nonetheless the prae would know what Ais desired of her.
Vaciti watched the scene unfold with her unease growing, as the frost continued to expand. No, frost wasn't correct. That was more crystallized, more like ice. An infestation, a mess, a bit of… An issue. Vaciti thought briefly of the news, banishing the thought from her mind immediately. She could not afford to show weakness now, no. She had to display control over herself.
She held Aismael's gaze unflinchingly, despite the sheer ice behind the eyes, and nodded once to display her understanding of the words.”Consider it done, Exeo.”
As the Exeo raised her hand, Vaciti followed. Mirroring the movement on a slight pause, her own ungloved hand rose, the glove in her other, to meet Aismael's.
Immediately, a cold, stinging pain would shoot through her body, before vanishing, replaced by the refreshing sensation one might experience when plunging full body into a frigid pool. “If you do not succeed, I will see to it that you no longer bring the indignity of failure to our kind,”
with that she broke contact and turned her back on the woman. Halfway across the room, she spoke again, her tone brokering no argument, “Go.”
Vaciti spared no words, instead simply turned on her heels and exited the room the way she had entered, glove sliding over her hand once more.Out from the cave, and into the den,
she thought warily.
As Vaciti departed, the prae certainly descending the Spire with haste, Aismael returned to her place before the shattered window, hands at her sides, relaxed. With every breath she took greater quantities of frigid vis pulsed from her form, now with greater vigor for she had no need to restrain herself lest she harm Vaciti.
Her jaw worked as icy clouds fell upon the city, the temperature swiftly dropping as a result. She watched, her cold, furious eyes gazing out on the city. To herself she whispered these words.“I will find you...and you will suffer for your crimes.”
With those words ice fell upon the city, the Exeo retreated into her study in silence, and a solitary tear froze on her cheek.