Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Paths Ending, Paths Beginning--Part 16

Eurydice grumbled to herself as she walked into the foyer of the Chamber of Unending Peril. She’d been in a bad mood, a mood that had not improved when she heard three very familiar voices giggling.

“Thalia--Euphrosyne--Agalia…,” she muttered as she stepped forward, “you’d best be hard at work… scrubbing…” She glanced around the room. Her sisters were, to her utter amazement, hard at work scrubbing. With one additional figure.

Theodora Theta stood there, helping the young sisters le Fidelé at their task, singing a little song as she did so. “He’s a bounder and a cad--in short he is all bad--he’ll ruin you, sure as can be--he’s master of the boat--on the waves it does float--and they call her ‘Queen of the Sea’.”

“Hello, Eurydice,” said Agalia with a cheerful nod. “Miss Theodora’s been helping us. She knows all sorts of neat stories. And songs.”

“The Breakers are pretty dull,” said Theodora. “So we learn to lighten up our days somehow. In between the occasional storm.” She frowned. “I must admit, it is not fun, losing your house.”

“I’d think not,” answered Eurydice. She glanced around at her sisters, then forced on a smile. “Miss Theodora… or do you prefer ‘Sister Theodora’?”

“Either is fine,” she answered nonchalantly, still cheerfully scrubbing the walls.

“Miss Theodora,” continued Eurydice, “while I am thankful for your assistance--”

“Your welcome,” said Theodora cheerfully.

Eurydice winced to herself, and wondered how a man so nobly… straightforward as Justinian could have sisters as twisted and devious as Julia Upsilon and Theodora Theta. Their limitless good cheer alone was enough to make Eurydice suspicious and when it was married to effortless pleasantness, as with Theodora Theta, it grated on every nerve she possessed.

And that was a lot of nerve.

“To continue, Miss Theodora,” explained Eurydice, “my sisters are supposed to be learning how to do their tasks, as I learned how to do mine. If others help them, they will not learn. And that would bring me shame. We le Fidelés, after all, pride ourselves on our service to House Cthonique.”

“And the children of Fyodor Ivanovich pride themselves on their generosity,” said Theodora. She smiled at Eurydice. “Surely the pride of both families may be spared, hmmm?”

Eurydice stared at her for a moment, then looked away. “Fine. Just this once.” She started to move away, then stopped. “Your sister has an incredible appetite, you know that?”

Theodora nodded. “Like a bottomless pit. Don’t ask me where it all goes--I’ve no idea.”

Eurydice nodded to herself, then headed away.

“I’ve never seen anyone make Eurydice leave so quickly, who wasn’t poppa,” said Thalia quietly.

Theodora chuckled. “Remember, child, I had three elder sisters to practice on. One figures things out.” She glanced at Euphrosyne. “Isn’t that right, dear?”

The young Erl bit her lip, and shyly looked away.

Theodora started to whistle to herself, and then began to sing again. “My hand he did take--that fiend, that rake--and swear he’d return to me--And so I wait on the shore--wait forevermore--wait for ‘Queen of the Sea’.”

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