How They Relate to Their Race Revisited

How They Relate to Their Race Revisited

There was something visceral about writing with pen and paper. It might have been the elegant swoop of her hand as she formed each letter. It might have been the satisfying scratch of the pen as it deposited its ink. But it might have had a lot to do with the warm, comfortable armchair and its matching ottoman located not far from the faux fireplace in the living room.

Zita settled lower into the overstuffed cushions letting her eyes drift closed.

“What if I was the last of my race?”

Her eyes shot open to the skeptical look of her sister, face framed with navy hair as she held a steaming tea mug, her lips pursed, her eyebrows arched.

“Neffy!” she shrieked, slapping her hand across the journal page to hide her scribbles. “You aren’t supposed to read my journal over my shoulder while I’m writing it!” Though she should have come to expect as much by now, knowing her sister as well as she did.

Nefazia cackled as she crossed the room and flopped onto the couch, though she was wise enough to lower her tea to the side table before doing so. “There wasn’t much to read, really. You only wrote the title. I’m trying to decide if I should be offended. If you’re the last of our kind, what does that make me? A historical footnote?”

Groaning, Zita closed the journal and set it aside. This was the very reason she didn’t want her sister looking at her notes and journals. For someone who claimed to be ‘against all that stuffy nonsense,’ she certainly tended to analyze everything. “It isn’t meant to be serious. High school teachers assign these kinds of essays to their students all the time. I overheard another group of students discussing their assignment at the museum the other day and I thought it might be fun to try. We never did those sorts of things growing up.”

Nefazia rolled her eyes. “The High Chronicler would have had an aneurysm.”

“In fairness, you must understand his aversion to speculation and bias, given the nature of our task.” The look her sister gave her suggested that she did not, in fact, understand. But she said nothing, so Zita swept on. “And all that aside… it isn’t far from the truth. Sisters or not, we are the last of our kind.”

“As far as we know.” Her sister spoke slowly, stressing each word in turn.

“The evidence was awfully definitive at the end of the war.” Zita tugged at a tiny loose thread protruding from the arm of her chair. She knew better, knew that loosening the thread further would only speed her favorite chair’s demise, but she couldn’t help herself. She needed something to distract her from the heavy topic, even if she was the one who brought it up.

Nefazia sipped at her tea. “I suppose if the bulk of your evidence was looking around and seeing no one else, then sure.”

Zita shot her sister a sharp glare. “If you’re just going to ignore all the dead bodies-“

“I am not,” Nefazia held up a hand. “But we didn’t confirm them all, did we? We didn’t check the records. We didn’t do a lot of things we should have done. How many others guarded isolated worlds, Z? How many other kingdoms are in need of an heir? We don’t know what’s going on out there now. We’ve got our task and we’re committed to it. Someday, there’ll be a proper aftermath, and we don’t know what will be waiting for us then.”

“You’re right.” Zita drew a deep breath and released it as a slow sigh. Part of her didn’t want to believe it could be possible, that their brothers and sisters had gone into hiding, that they had escaped the slaughter that claimed so many of the prominent and beloved figures of their childhood. Part of her couldn’t allow that hope to take root, viciously squashing it whenever it crept into her consciousness. She couldn’t handle the heartbreak if the cold hard truth came crashing home after years of hoping to find a friendly face.

And she knew already she’d never find the one Imatria she most wanted to meet. By now, his bones had long since turned to dust, no matter how her heart tried to deny the reality of his passing.

“Sometimes, it almost seems like a dream. That other life we led, before coming here. The life of castles and balls, queens and fancy dresses. Did we ever actually do all those things?”

Her sister laughed and there was no hint of sorrow in her voice. “Truth be told, I rather prefer this life. I’m not sure I was ever suited to the prim and proper rules governing high society. Even during the balls and festivals I wanted to be somewhere else.”

Zita chuckled. Her sister had always been the wilder of the two of them, the one who led them into all the trouble, not that she’d ever minded. For most of her life, she’d wanted nothing more than to be by her sister’s side. “But you loved to dance. And you were good at it too. There’d be a line halfway around any grand hall for a chance at your hand.”

Nefazia stuck out her tongue. “Not my favorite kind of dancing, and those boys were all the same. They wanted my attention because they thought it would raise their status, not because they were interested in me.”

“Now you know why I felt more at home in the library. Books never lie about their intentions.”

“Neither do trees.” Nefazia sipped from her mug and silence fell over the living room. It wasn’t an uncomfortable silence; with her sister, it never was. Perhaps it was because they were twins, birthed mere moments apart, there was always a thread of connection between them, even when neither spoke or acted.

“Even if we are the last,” Nefazia murmured as she set her mug aside, “there will be more. When the empress rises again to her throne, the stars will no doubt birth new Imatria to carry on our task. And they will need someone to guide them.”

Zita’s heart fluttered. She hadn’t considered that. It wouldn’t be the same as having their old family back, but it would be survival, a continuation. They could carry the legacy of their teachers and companions to the next generation. And it was something. Something big, in fact. “I like that. I can teach them the rules and you can teach them to break them.”

Her sister glared for only a moment before they both broke into laughter.

The actual prompt for this week was ‘choose a previous prompt and re-do it with a different character.’ I thought I would re-do one of my many Domerin prompts, but this one leapt out at me instead. You can read the original (with Reianna) over here.

Please take a moment to check out what my writing partner did with this one!

And if you’d like to participate drop your link in the comments and I’ll feature it next week :)

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