30: Markus

“He grieves…” “He is distraught…” “Even though…” “The answer is no different…” As the Djinn spoke Mina stared at the beautiful mosaics adorning the ceiling. Silently wishing she was back under water. “Should we visit him..?” “Or leave him to vent..?” Mina didn’t have to answer verbally for the Djinn to know and with an inhale she closed her eyes and. When she opened them she was standing in the open pit. Everything felt muted. The sun appeared dim. The wind passed, but she didn’t experience it. No smells reached her…Only her hearing remained in tact. “Dimitrov.” Her voice was low, barely above a whisper to most, but given his heightened senses she was always hopeful he’d be able to hear. The sand felt nonexistant under her feet as she cleared distance between them. To others it would appear as if nothing was there. “Dimitrov.” Curing her fingers in his fur she gave him a soft tug in an attempt to focus his attention. “Come back to me, please.” Her grip tightened until she properly felt even an inkling of friction against her skin.

Damian’s thoughts were elsewhere as Autumn informed her second son of his upcoming plans for the season. A full season without Xsaysarsa meant a full season without a burden on his bloodline; a son too inept to progress, but pitifully gifted to avoid a deserving death in the pits. The boys lingering existence was a defiance to the natural Xiradis order. If he was birthed from a different mother he would have been utilized elsewhere or deliberately killed to protect the integrity of the family, but alas he hadn’t made a big enough error and his wife had instilled her family values in the children- particularly their sons. In a way the Draghi estate could be considered the safest place for him. It was no secret that given his age there were many seeking to snuff him out and Damian had no intention of helping him. If Xsaysara was bold enough to procure anything useful during his time there then it would at least begin to validate his stay in both families. Unfortunately his doubted his son would have the will or capabilities to achieve it. Kohaku’s voice earned his undivided attention before sharing it with her sisters. His daughters were entirely different from his sons. It was a shame they would never be able to reach the same heights of their brothers though he was confident they would at least surpass Xsaysara. He did not waver from his meals even as all eyes focused on him, instead glancing at Khurshid. His youngest son was a perfect Xiradis male with two exceptions: his adherence to his mother’s demands for Xsaysara and his lacking Xiradis appearance. The latter was irrelevant except to frivolous members of the family while the former was problematic. Initially he’d seen promise in Siavash to reach his position and it was still there, but a clear lack of ambition had allowed Khurshid to surpass him. Personal preference aside Khurshid was on straight line for his position and given his mother’s desires…it would take an act of the Djinn to sway him. At Xsaysara’s outburst he accepted tea from a passing servant. His wife’s hobbies were quite well known on the compound and while he had never feared her for them he was aware of the security their marriage bondage supplied. To take his life was to take her own…but not necessarily their children. That preference was Autumn’s and Autumn’s alone. When his wife rejoined his side he pulled her into his lap, an arm locking firmly around her waist to keep her there. His thumb idly caressed her stomach while also getting an idea of the folds and creases in her garment Every once in a while thoughts of more children would manifest (usually after observing Xsayrara) and he’d get a certain look in his eye, but she had made it clear she already felt scandalized by his success in managing six. His theory was she didn’t want to have any more because then she’d want to balance out boys and girls- thus giving him even more children. He looked back at his smiling Kohaku. “I have a far more paramount engagement during that time.” His disdain for Azar and anything he might plan was painfully clear. “I declined the invitation for your mother and myself. An invitation for you and your brothers is being sent separately.” He was not certain which brother the invitation would be sent to, but he knew who it wouldn’t. Just like he knew that if his sisters wanted to attend then their brothers would concede. “Your decision to attend will either be joint or nonexistent.” Aside from the clear exception. He looked between his daughters. “If you’d prefer I attend I can make an arrangement for part of the day.” His hand under the table managed to slip inside Autumn’s clothing to rest comfortably on her stomach. “Or you can bring two guests of your choosing to take our place.” The offer was made solely to his daughters. If Siavash put in a request to bring Eloise’s daughter then he would promptly denied. His eldest son’s comfort level in staying stagnant was becoming irritating and if it took removing the object of his affection then so be it.

Markus met his father’s smile with a dull expression. The internal groan so large it couldn’t be properly expressed with any type of sound known to him. “Of course.” There was no hint of surprise or enjoyment with his father’s teasing. Watching the wolves devouring steam he began to zone out from his family to thoughts of the upcoming hunt. The first hunt of the summer season was always a feast- the ability to let loose after deliberately maneuvering at Beauxbaton no longer weighing him down. For split second he almost felt…was it joy? Maybe happiness?
Then the redhead was mentioned. The jolt through his system sent his leg crashing upwards into the marble table. A grunt passing through gritted teeth while his hand gripped the chair. At first he’d forgotten what she’d done, but within seconds that familiar heat spread through his body and to a very specific area. “It was fine. Nothing worth noting.” His jaw flexed repeatedly with his posture shifting so he was closer to the table. What the hell? At the breakfast table? From across the table he could see Maksim’s renewed interest he shot him a glare and took a forceful bite of whatever meat was in front of him. He’d gone HOURS without thinking of that girl and now? Now images of them back in the booth of that club kept replaying in his mind which only made his problem worse. He couldn’t even divert his father’s attention to one of his siblings. Maksim was too much of a pain; Serpahina too well behaved; Antoinette’s habits too well known, and Aleera untouchable.

Maksim enjoyed watching Markus on edge, but Seraphina was not of the same mind. Neither was Aleera; especially when it came from their father of all people. She wasn’t ignorant of the gaggle of females who ‘helped’ him during his morning run or Illych’s feeding into it. She accepted the cup from her father and graciously took up the space nearest him. “More importantly; Valentina and Ophelia are arriving at midday. Valentina has requested a private audience with you.” She took a sip of the black tea without looking at him. “A family portrait is being taken tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Next week they’re returning to for interviews. Since we are all considered “of age” now, they want a full spread for eligible partners. Xsaysara will naturally be featured well.” It was her decision to include the Xiradis boy, but as far as her siblings were concerned it was irrelevant. Finally looking at her father she took another sip of tea, “The Lady needs to discuss something with you after breakfast.”

Markus was silently grateful for the change in topic. And his sister’s tendency to shield him from their father whenever he started getting in one of his ‘I need to harass my son because why the hell not?’ moods. Seraphina broke off pieces of the blackberry muffin to slowly eat. “Does that mean today is free?” Antoinette asked, her mind already racing with all the things she could decide to do. “No.” Aleera deadpanned, “Markus needs to go to Ana’s compound and prepare for the Xiradis arrival. You need to prepare for the Xiradis arrival and start your commissions-” There was no need to direct the twins because Maksim knew what was required in most cases. Antoinette made a face and Aleera rolled her eyes. “Just visit Virag tonight.” Aleera took another sip of her tea. “All of you need to begin considering who you want to attend the summer solstice with. That only gives you a week and a half.” She reminded them. A date was generally required except in rare cases like her own where she had constantly declined a date to every function since a young age. Antoinette looked to her father with her best discreet-ish puppy dog eyes. Maksim smirked, looking between his second sister and their father. He was genuinely curious how long their father intended to allow Antoinette’s attachment with Virag to continue. The coupling of cousins wasn’t necessarily frowned upon or widely accepted, but even then it normally didn’t apply to two people with the same father in a sense. Markus just nodded, not wanting to attract any more attention to SHE WHO WOULD NOT BE THOUGHT ABOUT. Looking over at Seraphina, Markus hoped she actually took a date this year and came out of the shadows for more than ten minutes at a time.


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