"I have never been nothing." Daenerys Targeran
Banishment for those in powerful positions is not as terrible as it could be. In some ways, it can even be better than life within the monarch's favor.
No longer does one need to have a false sense of piety for the people to admire, nor is one required to attend each and every formal gathering to show respect and love for the people of courts and temples that have neither for you. Expectations are lowered, and the list of things one can get away with is much longer.
Still, though, it is a punishment, and the things one loves may also be diminished and removed.
Residences, businesses, finances, and even servants are brought to the bare minimum for someone of your rank.
Esellawen was born to a family shamed. It was several decades before she was even held in the womb that her family had caused some slight against the government and temple that ran her people's empire, and cost them everything they had been born into and earned through the hard work of others.
Yes, when Esellawen was born it was as the shadow of a Highborne. She would not be raised in lavish living or private studies, but in the lower end of Zin'Azshari's societal totem pole in a moderate apartment in the city's less-favored district. She was taught from home, alongside her sisters, and worked as a seamstress as soon as she was of age. Life was comfortable and plain, and for anyone else that would be enough.
A home, a family, an income and the freedom that came with simple life.
For anyone else, but not Esellawen.
The first time she had ever seen the darling Queen Azshara, a burning desire started deep within the young Ella's chest.
She would not prick her fingers on sewing needles and pins for her life, and she would not betroth herself to some humble workman and live even poorer than she did now (Not that is was very poor in the first place. She still had a nanny as a child, and a servant to share with her four other family members).
No, it would not be enough. She was made of better things and deserved much more.
She, she told herself one night as she looked up to the pale white moon that hung in the midnight blue sky, would not give up on what was rightfully hers. Her family and their low standards be damned, she would beg and lick the feet of those in power if she had to in order to gain everything that was lost.
She would do anything to be recognized as a Highborne again.
It was the year that Esellawen turned 370 that she could take no more.
Sitting in the parlor of the shop she worked at, slowly threading, pinning, stitching and pulling with the light din of the night-life outside, a young Ella finally snapped.
The dress she had been working on, made of rich red and yellow fabrics of silk and veil, was dropped onto the floor with half its seam finished and spool of purple thread running across the marble floor.
Sandaled feet started in a simple and slow walk out the veiled doorway, and turned into a hurried run down the cobblestone roads that lead her home to the small stone apartment she and her family called home. Her beautiful white hair was tied into a short braid, at the time cut only to her shoulder, and bounced against her back as she hurried her way into the building and up its winding wooden stairway.
Her room was her destination, a small square with a few prized possessions, a dresser and plain bed with violet sheets. It was those sheets that she pulled free from the mattress and used as a makeshift sack, sticking her few jewels, nicest dresses and coin that she had managed to save into it. Tying it off with a hair ribbon, and enchanting the sack with a weak spell to reduce its weight, Esellawen lifted it onto her shoulders and left her house for the last time.
No word, nor note, was given to her family. She didn't want them to follow or find her. She didn't want to see their fallen faces or the betrayal in their eyes. She didn't want to know them at all, and so she decided to forget them.
She had no family, as far as she was concerned.
The night, lit up by glowing lanterns and the moon, soon gave way to dawn and its burning light. While she was no gifted sorceress, the arcane was in her blood and magic at her fingertips, and so she felt the strange drain the sun's light brought. Her feet felt heavier, her eyes drooped and every step she took seemed as if it were in molasses.
In truth, she had no idea where she was to go. While she knew what she wanted- fame and fortune that her family had known before her time, she had no idea how to get it back. She certainly could not simply beg for it, nor could she demand it.
All she knew, in her obsession for greatness, was that she needed to be on top and back into high society.
She had to be closer to those in power.
She had to be closer to her.
Zin'azshari was a large city, it had to be in order to fit and accommodate the Queen and her lavish palace, and so that meant a lot of walking. Lots of walking. All the walking.
Esellawen found herself walking for so long and so far that once silky smooth feet became blistered at the heel and toe, leaving slippers soaked in sweat and blood, and the world around her seemed alien.
The sun's heat and lack of sleep getting to Ella's head; she became disoriented in the many streets that weaved around the capital city until she was walking in circles. Dusk was beginning to creep up, hinting to relief without really offering any. Esellawen was already suffering from exhaustion and heatstroke while everyone else seemed fast asleep.
Her body finally gave into the weight of her already light baggage, causing the young girl to fall to her hands and knees at the doorstep of a large stone condo.
It was plain in exterior, a few thin windows and the occasional veranda on its upper floors.
A large bronze door, engraved with moons and lilies, was noted only with a small red lantern.
No signage or nameplate.
Esellawen was in the middle of pulling her bag and self alike from the stone-street's center when the large doors opened with a low groan and scrape of metal on metal. From the depths of the structure, in the evening's low light, a young woman stepped out to light the little lamp with a flame dancing on her finger.
The lady nearly let the paper sphere catch on fire as she looked down to see a girl of fine breed and in fine clothing sitting in the dust and moss that lined the cracks in the cobblestone.
Normally this would be met with an enchanted broom to the side of the head, trying to shoo the vagrant from the step before anyone of note noticed. However, normally those vagrants that sullied the space didn't dress in vibrant colours, wore pearl embroidered slippers or happened to have a large silk sack that jingled.
And offered hand and a cup of water later, Esellawen was face down on a cushioned lounge as she nursed the headache the sun and lack of sleep had left her with.
Hushed voices murmured and whispered amongst each other from mouths unseen, considering Ella's face being mushed into velvet and goose feather.
"Who is she?"
"Why is she here?"
"Who brought her in?"
"What do we do with her?"
The questions were answered with a click of wood on wood. Silence filled the room, its walls draped in veils and lit with arcane candles and glowing crystals, except for that soft click-click-click.
Lifting her head lightly, silver glowing eyes blurry and mind still spinning, Esellawen tried to identify the source of the only sound now seeming to echo in the halls.
"There she is. Pretty, no?"
"Pretty doesn't equal smart. A moth is pretty, and will fly right into the flame."
"But she looks to be of high breed, never mind the mess she's in. Girl, can you read and write?"
"Why are you bothering? She looks cross eyed and slow."
"Oh shut up, she's just sick from the sun."
Whoever had been whispering to themselves were not the source of these questions and insults, gone and replaced by an interesting pair.
On the right was a willowy woman of lavender skin and bright teal hair pulled into a looped bun. Her dress was nice, coloured purple and forest green with gold coins sewn onto the seams. She wasn't young, but she wasn't old. She had age in her eyes, not her face, but looked like a warped tree beside her companion.
Standing high on a pair of what looked like wooden blocks and wearing a gown of shimmering gold, red, and rust was a vision. She didn't hold the same feel of age, but youth and freedom that Esellawen had only seen in ladies of luxury. Long violet hair trailed over her shoulders in curls and loops and upward twists that held hidden bells that chimed with each step she took.
The less-adorned, but no less lavishly dressed woman spoke again. It was her who was asking the questions.
"What is your name, child?" She asked with as much sweetness in her voice she could afford. It wasn't much, but at least better than a broom to the head.
Where am I?"
"You see, Ansie?" Sighed the rather lovely figure on the odd pair of shoes. It was her who had called Ella a dumb, cross eyed moth. "She probably can't read and got lost in the streets."
A sour look must have crossed Esellawen's round features, because that who insulted her seemed to scowl her perfect heart shaped lips in distaste all of a sudden.
Impudence, apparently, was not that common in this house.
"You're in a building. More specifically, on my couch, and while on my couch you will show a little more respect to her and I." Ansie, or at least that's what Esellawen assumed her name was, said with a little smirk. "Where did you come from?"
The question hung between the older Ansie and Esellawen in her foolish youth for a good few minutes.
She could say the address of which she had fled from nearly a full day ago, and be swiftly sent back with an escort. Perhaps she could offer her last name, but that would probably end the same way as the first option. Lying wouldn't do either, as it would be looked into and found to be more false than an arcanist's illusion.
"I am from a world of dreams, from which I am normally denied." She responded.
That sounded wise and artsy, maybe even a little impressive for wordplay.
"A poet, are you? A poor one, but at least you try. Dreams you say? And what dreams are these, hmm? Girlish dreams of romantic stories and adventure?"
"Dreams of living a life that should have been mine
Not of sewing dresses, but wearing them to court parties." The thought brought a little smile to Esellawen's tired and slightly sun-burnt face.
This answer did not elicit a snarky comment or subtle mocking grin from Ansie, but curiosity and a little glimmer in her narrow silver eyes.
"Wearing dresses to court parties
Girl, you had best be honest with me on this else I shall throw you to the curb in which my maid found you, no matter how pretty you and your words are. Are you Highborne?"
"Once, before I was given life."
The glimmer in Ansie's eyes turned to a sparkle, and then bright, shiny coins.
"Well then, Esellawen
Maybe I can help you. Since you've gone and come to me, I don't need to pay a purchase price
And Miranna does need a new attendant."