Alexa de’Crux and I would like to request your presence for a small dinner party to take place this weekend at the Sakakibara Estate in the second district of Myyhera IV.
Your loving niece,
Ashessa sighed heavily as she read the invitation from Naomi for the second time. Her body may have been frail, but her senses remained sharp as she probed the language repeatedly. It was most certainly a trap.
She had not achieved her age in the Sakakibara Family by sitting idly or allowing time to go to waste. She was the matriarch of a very powerful branch of the family after all–one that came close to rivaling that of Reginald’s in influence, one that had been poised to seize control multiple times in the last century, one that certainly had deserved recognition and respect. Especially as the main branch waned and floundered.
From the outside, Reginald’s marriage to Katerina Tzestu sent a message of confidence. But from within the family, there was a ripple of discontent. It was arrogant of him to choose a wife, and of all things, to choose a commoner. Ashessa had done much to quell the initial outrage, so much so, that Reginald had invited her to meet with Katerina during her presentation.
Ashessa knew that most of the family had expected to see a pregnant, if attractive, commoner. But Ashessa also knew that Reginald’s mother Elaina had instilled a sense of immense dread in the boy should he impregnate a woman out of wedlock. There had to another reason he wanted to marry her, she surmised. And to her surprise, the reason had been love.
To Katerina’s credit, the girl seemed more knowledgeable about the nobility than most of the untitled members of the Sakakibara family. She had found that particularly amusing about her. A capable partner to Reginald, even if his mother would never have approved. Regardless, in her absence, Reginald had allowed Ashessa to make the determination. A shrewd political move to shore up his claim to the Holding.
And one that Ashessa could never have refused. Her son and his wife were dead. Her granddaughter Rebecca was a hostage of Naomi Sakakibara, and various members of her branch of the family had thinned out. She needed to ensure its survival and that hope rested with Rebecca. By supporting Reginald, she hoped to influence Naomi enough to save Rebecca from the clutches of that despicable whore’s spawn. To think that her nephew would share his name with such a creature. Ridiculous.
Nonetheless, the benefits of siding with Reginald were tantamount to becoming Holder in her own right, even if only for a short time. His new wife had requested Ashessa to serve as an overseer to the Holding, with the power to oversee and countermand Naomi’s orders as Steward. It was a game Ashessa was familiar with and her approach relied on discretion, quietly reigning in Naomi’s more flamboyant commands–the loyalty of the family firmly on the side of her and Reginald.
Ashessa rose from her armchair, hoping that a walk would clear her head of all of her ramblings. Naomi was dangerous, especially as long as her kameiras kept rampaging through the Holding. As the true steward in all but name, Ashessa had a right to stop them with a military intervention, but the clandestine nature of Reginald’s DENT network made going public incredibly difficult. As long as Naomi kept going after internal family security, there was very little the Imperial military could do against the appointed steward of the Sakakibara family.
If there was something that Lady Katerina had overlooked, it had been the labyrinthine complexities of what it meant to navigate the nobility. At the very least, she had recognized Ashessa’s importance to Reginald’s claim. Ashessa was all too familiar with the weight of responsibility, though she carried herself with pride.
Ashessa raised a withered finger to her neocom. It was time to do battle with the beast and her corrupted kameira.