One.

Two.

Cilia traced the blood line with her pinky, waving her left hand to stir up a gentle, drying wind for the paint.

Three.

Four.

She moved on to the heart line, the sun line, and the life line.

Five.

Six.

The paint refused to dry. Cilia stopped waving, and began to positively flap.

Seven.

Cilia stopped counting.

"Madam?"

A young maid, her eyes downcast respectively, was holding open the screen with her foot. She was carrying a breakfast tray, heavy with bowls of anything that the cook thought that the Lady might possibly wish to sample. Cilia sniffed at the enticing aromas of baked goods and savory meats, but ignored her growling stomach. She would not rest yet, as much as she desperately wanted to sink to the ground in sleep.

"It's morning, then?" she yawned.

"Yes, my Lady. Would you like to eat?"

"I cannot," said Cilia. The maid did not ask why, and questions weren't allowed even if she wanted to ask them.

"Would you like something to drink, Madam? A fresh supply of coffee beans arrived this morning."

"Yes, that." Cilia picked up a cup, gulping down the pungent drink without bothering to add any cream or sugar. She had not slept since the crescent moon.

"Would you like butter in your coffee, Mistress?"

Cilia stopped in the middle of a gulp. "Butter?"

The maid almost gave a bow of repent, before realizing that it would cause the dishes crash to the ground. She settled for turning her head away. "I'm truly sorrowful for the ignorant mistake, my Lady. In my native city, it is common to put butter in hot drinks."

"I see." Cilia resumed her drinking, and sat next to the painted lines on the floor.

"Would you like anything else, my Lady?" the maid asked timidly.

"No thank you," said Cilia. "You are dismissed…but leave the tray." I can eat as soon as the paint is dry, she assured herself.

"Thank you, Madam." The maid bowed, her nose touching her knees, and crept out of the chamber.

Cilia opened the largest window with the hand that was not holding the mug up to her inhaling mouth, letting the wind howl inside. Though she was finished painting, the instructions that she had been chanting until just an hour ago were still running through her head.

Blood line.

Heart line.

Sun line.

Life line.

Purple.

Red.

Gold.

Green.

Lines.

Ovals.

Circles.

Squares.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

I'll eat as soon as the paint is dry.

The wind chilled the back of her neck like a steel blade. Good. The wind just meant that the paint would dry fast-it wouldn't be too long now.

No, I'll sleep. Oh, sleep! I might even get to bathe . . .

"Good morning, Dear Lady. Did you sleep well?"

It was a steel blade.


A/N: Wow, my first story in eight months. I hope I managed to intrigue you. Please, please, please leave feedback and constructive critism. :)