When Evadna entered the East Wing she found it bare of wall hangings, paintings, and furnishings of any kind. It felt bereft. Silently, she followed Lord Albin, pondering at his otherness. She’d never met anyone like him before. She supposed it was because he was highborn, but she’d never imagined the highborn would be both alien and familiar all at once. Not that she’d thought much upon the subject before either. The highborn were a distant fairytale. A kind of people one read about in stories, but never actually got to meet in real life. And now she’d met one, and she was about to meet another.
Lord Albin opened a door made of mahogany. Evadna saw the door knob under his hand had some sort of inscription on it. “Should I show her in, Father?”
“Again without knocking!”
Giving Evadna a quizzical glance, he said, “I suppose that means you may enter.”
Evadna didn’t agree, but entered the room all the same. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the books scattered about. If they weren’t stacked neatly on their shelves, they were piled about on desktops and tables and chairs. The light entered the room through one of the big windows, the one with the curtains drawn.
“You are young, aren’t you?” came the earl’s voice again. She followed it to a corner of the room where she found the earl sitting behind a large desk, an open book in his hand. His scrutiny was unnerving.
“I am, sir.”
“It’s ‘my lord.’”
“Yes, my lord.”
The earl put his book down and moved to the front of the desk. “My son tells me you are a witch. Does he speak truth?”
“He does, my lord.”
“I must beg your pardon, young one, as I ask for proof of your claim. It is no small thing my son has offered you.”
“I understand, my lord.”
Momentarily at a loss, Evadna looked around for inspiration.
“Something simple will do.”
Nodding solemnly, Evadna closed her eyes, going still. The earl and his son watched her curiously. In a moment, she raised her right hand palm up. When nothing happened, Lord Albin wanted to say something. A look from his father silenced him however.
A light breeze filled the room. Lord Albin looked at the windows, but they were closed. The breeze became a wind. It grew so blustery his body swayed with it. He opened his mouth to protest when the wind suddenly stopped.
“Beautiful,” the earl said.
Lord Albin followed his father’s gaze to see a small, mini-size whirlwind anchored to Evadna’s hand. His eyes widened in surprise, as he stepped closer for a better look.
Evadna opened her eyes, but the whirlwind remained well contained in the palm of her hand. Lord Albin imagined he saw a similar storm reflected in her eyes.
“Satisfactory?” she said.
“Indeed. You may cease,” the earl replied.
Evadna let fall her hand and the whirlwind disappeared. She caught Lord Albin’s concentrated stare and blushed a little at the awe in his face. The earl’s own expression didn’t reveal very much, but she thought she detected excitement.
“Evadna, I am honored by your presence. It would be my very great privilege to extend my own invitation along with my son’s that you make my home your own and enjoy the blessings and privileges of being a member of my family. This East Wing would be yours to study and practice your gift. I will see to it that you receive proper instruction. In return, I ask for your loyalty.” The earl extended his hand to her, “What do you say?”
It didn’t take Evadna long to make her decision. She took his hand, clasping it firmly and looking him squarely in the eye. “I say yes, my lord. I say yes.”