- 2 -
“Mother! She’s back finally!” Arwen’s little half-sister Ini’dil called out. The older girl nearly dragged her dusty booted feet while climbing up the huge, sand colored stone steps of the family’s valshath. Only the very wealthy could afford such a home as this. The steps were inlaid with colorful glass and crystals from far off in Nineveh that sparkled in the late afternoon sun.
Arwen gave the younger girl with the pale yellow hair a frown and brushed roughly past her. She threw off the hood of her cloak and removed the garment. Her stepmother, Jys’ayne, stepped in front of Arwen with her hands on her hips. Arwen glanced up and barely stopped herself from shaking her head. Apparently Father had already handed out the gifts and new riches to the family. Jys’ayne was wearing yet another elaborately jeweled necklace and pair of richly decorated, black leather boots. She must be wearing them to the party that evening because the drow woman was already wearing a short, form-fitting outfit suitable for the sultry spring night.
“You’re a mess,” Jys’ayne said with distaste on her dark, triangular-shaped face. “Why must you get so dirty? You’ve never cared about your looks,” the woman continued, shaking her head.
Arwen rolled her eyes. A true drow—male or female--adored beauty and was fascinated with having the perfect body and appearance. Arwen refrained from pointing out that she was only half drow and therefore not interested in this worthless pursuit. She glanced down at her black, leather top and yanked one strap back onto her dark shoulder. She noticed some dust streaks on her black skirt.
Arwen shrugged. “Whatever,” she said.
It wasn’t as if her stepmother really cared, she was just worried about what other people-drow really, human opinions were of no concern to most drow—would think of their noble family.
“You are of the House of Zau’neld…have truly you no concern when it comes to what others will think?” the older woman hissed as predicted. “Ohhh, of course you don’t, look who I’m talking to…go on with you…go see your father.”
Arwen said nothing as Jys’ayne turned away in frustration. What would be the point. Anyway out of sight, out of mind, Arwen thought, meaning that for both of them. The less she saw of the woman who’d been her so-called mother since she was a small child the better.
Ini’dil shook her head slowly at Arwen and followed her mother out of the entryway and into the valshath. The little girl’s own head was held high with distaste for the older half-sister she had once been fond of when a baby.
With a mental shrug of indifference Arwen began to glide silently through the huge house she’d grown up in. She carelessly dragged her cloak behind her. Luxuriously decorated inside, the valshath of the House of Zau’neld was one of the finest in Hassuna…among the rich drow and the few wealthy human families. The lowering sun shone in through the large, thick glass windows and provided most of the light in the house. Preferring their homes dimly lit, drow rarely had bright lights indoors and lit their homes with candles and oil filled lamps that were tended by the servants.
She headed reluctantly for her father's office.