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part two.
IP: 213.172.38.134

Part two
London, England
Although in 1588 Mallos looked much the same as his modern day Shaman counterpart (if with hair of coffee-brown instead of its customary jet black and, bizarrely, generally more aged), very little of Aura resembled the small, white porcelain doll she would become in almost five hundred years’ time. She was of medium height and slender size, although it was difficult to determine how much of her tiny waist was due to her tight corset and how much could be accredited to nature (or, more accurately, divinity). Her hair was a mahogany brown, darker than Mallos’ at the time, and thicker, longer and curlier than the modern day Aura’s. It was scooped up into an ornate bun on top of her head, but a few appeasing locks spiralled past her shoulders on each side. Her skin was lighter than Mallos’ but darker than it would eventually become, although her face was powdered white daily, and her eyes were a soft golden-hazel. Like Mallos, she looked older than she would in Shaman - perhaps early to mid-thirties. If a sprite from Shaman saw her then she would have been recognisable only by the one distinguishing feature which would remain for five hundred years: the high cheek-boned and well refined heart-shaped face. It is difficult to make bland sexist remarks, but Aura’s feminine gender probably contributed a great deal to the regularity with which she changed her appearance (often to mimic fashion) before and after creating Shaman, settling into an established form only after she lost the ability to transform herself as she pleased. Mallos, by contrast, changed his looks very little, although that may be attributed to a quiet patriotism for his country (Spaniards vary little; most have olive or tanned skin, dark hair and dark eyes) rather than masculine disregard for appearance.

At this time, both Mallos and Aura had full control of their own magic and with it the ability to change their looks as they chose. The critical Reader would be quick to point out the vanity of this, and they would be correct; in truth, all of the original fairies were highly vain. Conceitedness is only natural to a race who can subject themselves to limitless beauty at the snap of a finger, and neither Mallos nor Aura ever faltered in the quality of their own attractiveness. It was only after she lost her transmogrification powers in Shaman that Aura realised the true meaning of the phrase ‘it is only the inner beauty that matters’. It’s a lesson which Mallos and most of the other originals have never learnt.

Although Aura’s beauty outshone Elizabeth’s and her intelligence was just as keen, the Queen of England was not a jealous woman by nature and bore no grudge against the young lady who had become a valued member of her court. Several times she had tried to have her married off to the Duke of Cornwall, but Aura had flatly refused to even consider the concept of marriage, and Elizabeth was secretly glad. If Aura married, she would probably be confined in a castle in another part of the country for the rest of her life, producing babies and entertaining her husband’s guests, and the Queen liked having her at the palace. Aura’s small, nimble fingers made quick work of unlacing Elizabeth’s corsets, and she had an unrivalled understanding of fashionable presentation. In fact, there were few – if any – things that the lady couldn’t do, and she had quickly become one of Elizabeth’s most dependable courtiers. She was the envy of many of the ladies in waiting, and a sizeable number of men had already proposed to or attempt to woo her, but she had refused each caller and maintained a quiet dedication to her queen. Although on the surface Elizabeth scolded her and encouraged her to marry, she covertly respected the strength of will of a woman who chose to further her career and social standing rather than submit to a husband.

“The situation with Spain is nearing a climax,” Aura remarked. Elizabeth didn’t believe her casual tone for a moment; the lady in waiting rarely spoke, and when she did each word was chosen with extreme care. “Some of the nobles are restless.”

Elizabeth knew better than to take the bait. ‘The nobles are restless’ was a term frequently employed by anyone who wished to provoke her into making a decision; she was surprised that someone as calculating as Aura would adopt such a vulgar phrase.

“Philip is insufferable,” she replied amiably. “But he has every right to conduct his affairs in his country however he wishes. The antics of my dear late sister’s husband should be, in the words of his ambassador, of no concern to England. I am in constant assurance of the King’s continued sympathy.”

“Quite.”

The answer would satisfy any silly-headed woman in the Queen’s court, except for the one it was aimed at. The best way to deal with the aristocracy, Elizabeth had learned, was to reassure the women and distract the men, and subject both sexes to flattery and reward. Very, very occasionally, however, a member of the upper class presented themselves as something other than an arrogant, vain, empty-headed fool. On those occasions, Elizabeth felt compelled to deliver a few honey drops of honesty – just a few. No one but her ever knew or understood precisely her thoughts, plans and schemes.

“An early-warning beacon system is already in place and I have men out inspecting boats,” she added softly. “Your friend Drake has proven his supreme loyalty already, not only through intelligence but also with his actions in Cadiz. His knowledge of Spanish ships will be invaluable.”

Aura had finished lacing the corset and the Queen stood to allow herself to be helped into one of her more beautiful dresses – a creamy yellow garment with eyes and ears sewn into the sleeves and bodice. Symbols of the all-seeing, all-hearing powers that the peasants had attributed her with. When Aura spoke again, it was very quietly, so that she could choose to ignore her question if she wished.

“You think that there will be a war?”

Queen Elizabeth I adjusted her wig slightly. “Yes, my dear; I do.”


Replies:
    • part three. -
    • part four. -
    • part five. -
    • part six. -
    • part seven. -
    • part eight. -
    • part nine. -
    • part ten. -
    • epilogue -


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