"So, this is it?," said Jean, glancing around the sumptuously decorated room with its marble pillars, and its richly decorated tiled ceiling.
"Yep," said Viviane. "This is where the Free Cities' version of the Council of Shadows meets."
Jean nodded, glancing absently at an elaborate mosaic of a man clad in gold, with a flashing halo on the wall. "Is it as boring as our version?"
"Worse," said Viviane, rolling her eyes, as she leaned against a mosaic of a woman clad in green. "They talk and talk, about bizarre things, and nothing gets done. Not even the boring things that get done at a Council of Shadows' meeting. Just weird things like 'who has the right to wear the silver robe of truth."
Jean blinked. "The silver robe of..."
"Don't ask," said Viviane, pinching her nose. "Just... don't."
"But I'm interested!" said Jean, turning towards her sister. "I'm really, really interested!"
"If I started to tell you, you wouldn't be," snapped Viviane. "Trust me." She grinned at Jean. "Anyway, I have things to ask you about! What's this I hear about you and the Duke of Agrismont?"
"What the hell...?" Jean stared at Viviane. "Me and Belengier? What are... are they suggesting... what the tone of your voice makes it sound like they are suggesting?"
Viviane gave a nod. "Yep. You two are supposedly special friends!"
Jean narrowed her eyes. "This is just another example of your making up for missing most of my childhood, isn't it?"
"And if it is?" said Vivian. "Come on! Give me all the details!"
Jean shrugged. "There's nothing to tell. He's kind of rough around the edges, really. Sweet in someways, but nothing special. I mean--aside from the Duke thing, and... ehh, that I could take or leave."
"Heh, listen to you," said Viviane, leaning in to give Jean's cheek a pinch. "A little heartbreaker. You are definitely mom's kid." She angled her head contemplatively. "Well, except for the hair and nose. That's from your dad."
Jean raised a hand in front of her nose. "Yeah, thanks. And don't do that."
"Hey, it's nothing to be ashamed of," said Viviane. "Mom certainly wasn't. She liked guys, and guys liked her. It was like that for most of my childhood. Every few months, there'd be a new guy in the role Elaine Blanchemains gentleman friend." Viviane bit her lip. "Most of them were all right. Your dad was nice."
Jean nodded. "Right. Got it."
Viviane narrowed her eyes. "Hey, don't you pull the 'Jean Crow suddenly get's it' routine on me. My early childhood was fine! You understand that? Fine!"
"Right," said Jean. She glanced away and coughed. "You want a sister hug?"
Viviane considered it. "Yes. Very much." The pair quickly embraced. Viviane gave a sigh. "Yeah. I missed this."
"You had Elaine," noted Jean, pulling away.
"She's not very huggy," muttered Viviane. She smiled. "Mind you, when she is in a hug mood, the hugs are always good."