1862-01-14: A Time To Celebrate
A Time To Celebrate
Summary: Talia receives news that her father is considered missing, and dead.
Date: 1862-01-14
Related: None

Talia was in her chambers, that night, only half dressed. The silken bedclothes were haphazardly draped over her as if she hadn't either finished undressing or had been disturbed while dressing, creating an air of seduction that was only ruined by the corpse on the floor.

The corpse was a shirtless man, whose neck now had a raw and red ring about it and his mouth was gaped open, eyes strained and nearly popping out of his skull. With a barefoot, Talia toed the man, and merely shook her head.

Talia gently placed the garrote wire on the nightstand after carefully looping it and turned to the body, "As if I would have slept with you." She tsked, gently, "You should have known better than to try and hold out on me, Vincenzo. A shame, really. You were good material. But not that good." And without another thought to the deed just done, Talia moved towards the chamber door, to summon a servant to take away the mess and dispense of it.

She needn't have bothered.

There was a knock. And, that knock made Talia frown. The servants were under strict orders to leave her alone this night; she'd wanted to savor the culling of the rat in her own manner. She'd fretted over various ways to kill him, to have the Viper show up at his door, or stick a poisoned needle into his hand and watch the convulsions begin. Ultimately, she'd settled on an air of seduction and depravity to lure him in because she'd decided it would amuse her the most, the irony of it all. The servants well knew what disobeying orders could bring, and that very fact darkened her features for it meant something tantamount to her not being told would bring worse wrath on the individual who had withheld it from her.

"Enter," she said, making no effort to make herself presentable.

It was Sophia who entered. Pretty Sophia. Talia hadn't ever learned what her real name was, she hadn't cared. The girl was exceptionally smart and beautiful, and a recent acquisition from Rivanian debtors to the Family. Rather than putting her in a brothel, or selling her services out, or even training her to the assassins' ways, Talia had decided to make 'Sophia' her own personal servant. That meeting somehow, now, flitted through Talia's mind.

"Sophia," Talia had said, with what she knew was a serpent's smile. "I think I like you."

"My name isn't—,"

"Your name," Talia had interrupted, rather fiercely, "Is Sophia. Because I deem it so. And you are mine, my dear. Serve me well, and you will have an easy life. Fail me, and, I will send you to the worst brothel you can imagine, where fat, drunken sailors will pass out upon you before they even finish." She'd smiled then, again, this time sweetly. Talia had paused, too, noting, "Ah. One other thing. Your neighbors - the Rosenthall family? I fear their crop was burned to the ground, and they burned alive in their own house. It was right after your family had moved secretly to Pacitta, in the night." Talia had paused, letting the words sink into 'Sophia'. "The next time, the fire might spread, and take your siblings and parents. You may wish to send them a letter, and note it's probably safer for them if they stay where you know they are." Talia had committed the girl's fearful expression to memory in that instant.

The girl really hadn't had a choice, and Talia knew it. "Anything you ever were is gone," Talia had then instructed the girl once they'd arrived back at the small castle. "You are now Sofia. Servant of House t'Corbeau. And, my personal attendant. If you please me, you will live a life your fellow slaves will envy. If you fail me, however?" She simply tskd, shook her head. "You would be better off dead."

The girl in the few months Talia had taken her into her household had proved invaluable and eager to prove her worth after that. She'd taken to her role well. Talia had sensed the morbid fascination the girl had and didn't even realize yet about herself, saw it now in her eyes as Sofia's eyes shifted to the corpse taking in every detail with curiousity and wonder, then those eyes flitted back to her half-undressed Mistress.

"I know you gave orders to not interrupt," Sophia began, only the slightest measure of hesitation in her voice revealing itself, "Or disturb, but my Lady, the company your father took into Rivana," she began. Now, there was real hesitation. "Only one has returned, and he injured, severely. He stated he waited as long as he could, but no others met him at the way point. It was not your father."

It was seldom that Talia was ever surprised, truly surprised. Her father was Andre t'Corbeau, the leader of the Wraiths, and the best assassin the country had ever seen, or known. He was gifted. The silence indicated to the servant just how off-guard Talia was caught by the news, and she waited with some measure of trepidation mixed with curiosity as to how Talia would react.

After a half-minute of silence, Talia nodded, once. "Very well." What a loss, she thought to herself. All of that talent, that knowledge, those cultivated connections, all his memories, and his machinations gone. You should have prepared better for this event, Father. There was no weeping; that particular act would be saved for later, at the public ceremony where his unfound body would be 'buried', and monument erected to his absence and presumed death. "If my father were still alive, he would have returned. He was nothing, if not punctual. Sofia, send word to my siblings. Let them know, first. And, arrange for a messenger to leave in two hours. Have a fresh horse ready for him to deliver the news elsewhere. It seems I will be taking over his affairs."

"You are certain he is dead?" Sophia wondered at the coldness of Talia, despite knowing her Mistress so well. She'd seen the callousness in which the woman took lives before even in the few short months she'd served, even evidenced on the floor before her. But the distance at which she treated the potential loss of her own blood and father brought that awareness to another level within the servant.

"I am certain that if he could have returned, he would have. He is either dead, or wants us to believe he is. I'm much more inclined to believe the former. Father trusted me implicitly." She added, wryly, but with a sense of sincerity, "Were I to have disappeared thus, he would have presumed the same about me."

Talia gestured to the corpse, "And see that this is disposed of, promptly."

Sophia nodded, and made her way out, to make all the preparations, leaving Talia to her own thoughts again.

Talia moved to the window, having completely forgotten that the corpse was even still laying in a lump on her floor, moving to the window that overlooked the countryside below, and the small village at the foot of the hill. And so your reign ends, Father. And mine begins. It is time for the younger blood to rule, with fresh perspective, and insight - though I will long remember your training and teaching. The t'Corbeau Family will prosper. And, they again will fear the Viper.

She smiled, then. Adjusted her bedclothes slightly, and padded over towards the table that held the wine. It was, after all, a time to celebrate. She poured a glass, then moved to the door, called for a servant. When the young man arrived, she prompted him, "Bring me the strapping young Rivanian boy we acquired the other day. The one with the pretty eyes. I wish to be entertained." Yes. It is certainly time to celebrate. Thank you for the early birthday present, Father. You will long be remembered.

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