alright, so–finally–there is something that isn’t frank herbert world-building and something that’s just sort of story~
(mind, i think that even today’s little excerpt is feeling very LET ME EXPLAIN THE CHARACTERS in a frank herbert sort of way so *hands*)
When Grey was still just a tiny hatchling, they knew that they didn’t want to be the next First Unkindness. It just—wasn’t remotely a thing that Grey could see themselves becoming.
Not that Grey knew what they wanted to be. It was the paradox of being born to House Halkyon: one wasn’t expected to become the First Unkindness but no other options were ever presented.
But, Grey heard it every day—over and over and over: Grey was Unfit.
And, not least, because Grey was non-compliant in so many things that the Venery expected complacency in.
Really, one would think that something as eternal as the Venery would be a bit more flexible in its societal expectations and constructions but, yeah, no.
Grey was too soft-hearted.
Grey was too pragmatic.
Grey was too emotional.
Grey was too stand-off-ish.
Grey was too too: too much and too little, too strong and too weak, too of the mind and too of the heart.
Which, honestly, Grey just thought that they were too willing to think a thing through and see all the sides of a situation, but yeah, they could see how that was just too too for their parents.
Grey was definitely too a lot of things for their twin, which made Grey simultaneously incredibly sad and lackadaisical about him.
(Okay, there were a lot of no fucks give and meh while being smad. See, there’s that too too again.)
Although, Grey also have to admit that they were confused how being too any of these things was necessarily a bad thing and were, in fact, attributes that the Unkindesses of the Court of Miracles were known for.
But—what did Grey know?
Tove had always been the perfect, proper faun doing exactly what was expected of her as the next potential Scion of the Court of Dreams.
Just as her twin Cy did as well.
Really, the Court of Dreams had never had two such exemplary potential Scions at the same time, and there had been talk that—should the Redcap Triumvirite be willing to bond with both Tove and Cy—the Court of Dreams might have their first co-Prima Princeps in a thousand years.
That was a lot to live up to for anyone.
So, Tove and Cy learned what they were instructed to and excelled at it; however, Tove maybe—sorta, kinda—went a bit further than she was supposed to do with her reading and studies and things—because that’s just the kind of person that Tove was; whereas Cy went no further, preferring to spend their time in other pursuits.
(Pursuits that Tove weren’t entirely sure where things that a potential Scion should be doing, but then again, Tove wasn’t entirely certain what Cy was doing at all.)
And, when the Redcap Triumvirite chose just Tove to bond with? Well—let’s just say that there was much badness. Cy was disappeared—sent as a Tribute Ward to the Court of Calamities. Tove took up the position of Scion. And, things faded back into days and nights of studies and duties and preparing for that next stage of Tove’s ascendency.
Of course, that was when Tove’s duo-matre told her that there was a need for the Court of Dreams to strengthen its alliance with the Court of Miracles, and Tove was going to be expected to wed the Court of Miracles’ Scion to the First Unkindness: a fledgling named Halkyon.
Who was to be sent to the Court of Dreams as a Tribute Ward—along the Court of Calamities Scion Pius.
And, the Court of Nightmares First Flutter would be taking up residence in the Court of Dreams to tutor the three of them as well as the other Tribute Wards.
(The fact that there were going to be other Tribute Wards was something that Tove wasn’t able to wrap her mind around since the Tribute Ward System hadn’t actually been something that had occurred in at least a hundred years—but, then again, that would have been when the last clutch of Scions had come of age.)
Then, Scion Halkyon arrived, and they were just a darling, angry ball of raven-y rage despising everything from being the Scion for the Court of Miracles to the Court of Dreams to, well, to Tove, but Tove tried not to take offense. It can’t have been easy to have been sent from their home and told that they were expected to become betrothed to someone they hadn’t met and live amongst a Court that wasn’t necessarily friendly to their existence.
It’s a wonder that any of the Tribute Wards survived their fostering with their minds and souls intact.