Sai’Li tried to weigh her options. On one hand, she was being evicted from the soft and wonderfully enticing life in the Blossom Houses but it would also free her from the rigors of her training and allow her to use the other talents she had been so carefully cultivating. They had grown like one of the bonsai trees she had been tending for decades, the power they contained having been distilled into absolute perfection.
“I can create my own empire.” She whispered to her reflection, “Father has honored me with this chance to prove myself.”
The mirrors she kept in her room to remind herself of her own existence. Of her own mortality. Of the fact that she was not precisely mortal, but much more so than her honored father. His vampiric nature had given her unnatural gifts, and unnatural weaknesses. She would find a way around it though, she must if she was to make her way in the world.
Perhaps that was her father’s goal. Perhaps he wished her to overcome her weaknesses and establish herself in a position he could respect. Of course it was much more likely that he merely wanted to weed out the weak. That was likely why her sisters had been overlooked for this position.
Lian’Tiu was a full blood vampire, gleefully feasting upon the blood of the cattle and expanding the Family’s influence in any number of remarkable ways. Rian’Zah was a half-blood like herself, but she had not been consigned to The Blossom Houses. Of course Rian’Zah hadn’t taken well to the embrace of the mortals. After the first two clients ended up horribly dead, her dear father had decided against such an assignment.
Sai’Li was the only one of his daughters who had been able to endure and eventually come to crave such contact. Unlike her sisters, she had found the touch of mortals to be more than enticing. It had become like a drug, the warmth their bodies could give bringing her back to the dancing, the shows and the seduction time after time. And she was good at it.
Over the decades, her skill in the Houses had brought many secrets to her Family and well had she been rewarded for it. But now she had begun to feel restless. After a century of such work, Sai’Li had begun wishing for more. The outside world was calling and now she had a chance to answer that call.
“Sha. I require the Obi with the breaking wave. Ling. The Kimono with the ravens.” She smiled, and for the first time her maidservants saw that smile spread to her eyes. It was terrifying. She moved behind her dressing screen and opened her top left bureau drawer.
“Pardon Lady, but your Honored Father has given you a gift. It was his wish that you receive it upon returning to your chambers.” Sha bowed low, holding a box wrapped with a silk ribbon forward.
Sai’Li took the package and found a pair of shimmering and nearly transparent kimono sleeves. A note written in her father’s delicate and precise Kanji read ‘So that my Third Daughter may never be without the proper attire.’ She ran a hand over them and felt the thrill of magic running through them, begging to be attuned to her body.
Shivering, she drew on the sleeves and found that with an effort of will she could clothe herself in garb of her choosing. The fabric whispered up over her body, forming into a perfectly fitting Kimono in pure white with an intricately embroidered pattern of ravens taking flight from a grove of blooming Sakura trees. The Obi was an elegant grey and embroidered with her favorite traditional Great Wave pattern.
“Oh.” She said softly, even that small of an expression being almost as outrageous as a shout. For some this gift might seem frivolous, but for her it was beyond perfect. Beneath the cloth was another piece of parchment and a small silk pouch. ‘To ensure that my Third Daughter will complete her mission and honor her house in spite of mishap.’
Inside was a delicate bit of bone as thin as her finger and carved with swirling patterns. It was a wand that she could use to restore what passed for her life force. As she was not a full vampire, injuries to her person could not be restored by feasting on the blood of the masses, but the divine light of healing magic burned her flesh even as it burned the true undead. Snapping open her fan, she quickly covered her face as she was unable to keep the broad smile from it. This was proof positive that her honored Father wished her to succeed.
“Sha. Ling. You have served me with honor and dedication.” She said from behind her fan, “I release you from your bondage of servitude with a gift of one thousand pieces of silver which I have placed in the top left drawer of my bureau. Upon my honor, you are free to leave and make lives for yourselves. Take back your names and depart this night with my blessing. I fear I must begin learning to survive without attendants.”
The pair bowed low in unison without a single hint of regret, gratitude or relief. Sai’Li sighed in regret behind her fan. They truly were perfect servants, but there simply was not a place for them where she was going. Such delicate flowers needed careful tending, she hoped they would find meaningful placement. She would not speak to Father about that; he knew all too well how to take advantage of such things and she owed them at least a chance at freedom.
“My Lady, it pains us to leave your service.” They said together, “However we are grateful that you have thought of our future. We shall find a place and await your return. We are loyal to your ladyship and the family. If it was allowed we would accompany you, however we understand that we would be nothing but an impediment. Please accept our apologies for not being worthy to serve you outside.”
She bowed in return, although hers was not nearly as deep. “You honor me with your devotion. Such dedication is more than admirable, it is deserving of a boon. Name it and if it be within my power I shall grant it.”
“We require nothing.” Whispered Sha.
“Only to serve.” Whispered Ling.
Sai’Li closed her fan and moved closer. She kissed and embraced each of them, giving them a genuine smile. “I feel undeserving of such praise. I will make every effort to become worthy of it. This I swear by my family’s honor and by my black heart.”
“We know when you call upon us that you will be a power to make the world tremble Lady.” They said in unison, bowing so low that they bent double.
“I will recommend you to The House of Falling Sakura as attendants to the Madam.” Sai’Li said, “You are loyal, perfect servants with stricture that you be returned to me upon successful completion of my tasks for the Family. I can offer no higher praise to those in my service.”
“You are too kind my Lady.” They responded in unison, bowing so deeply their heads nearly touched the floor.
“My dears please.” She implored them, “You honor me too much.”
“It is you who honors us Great Lady.” Sha whispered. “I am and will forever be Sha.”
“You have given us nothing but treatment above our station.” Ling whispered. “I am and forever will be Ling.”
“We live only to serve the Great Lady.” They whispered in unison.
“Speak of this devotion to no one.” Sai’Li cautioned, overcome with emotion at their words. “It may be more than your lives are worth my children. I welcome and will not betray your loyalty.”