Characters: Ivan and Illya.
Council meetings were his one and only place to truly outshine his older siblings. And he made sure to always do it to the absolute best of his abilities. Although he had only been allowed to replace his sister- the Lady Katja Nacht who was now known as "traitor"- on the council for a short while, Ivan Nact made up for lost time with insight and ideas that he always thought might be of the greatest help to the governing body of the Yueshi people. He had taken what he saw as appropriate pride in his seat at his father's right hand.
Every night until tonight. Tonight, the world swam in slow motion before his eyes and the sounds of everything came to his ears in a sort of muddled mess of audio muck.
The God-Emperor demands a sacrifice for our victory against the Acarians. Perhaps, Lord Nacht, I have a suggestion. Your youngest daughter....
If the God-Emperor will take her, then let it be so. At least the defective child will have been worth something to us in her lifetime. I care not.
For once, Ivan remained stragetically silent and gazed, with as much clarity as he could manage, at the man he had been spending his entire life to please. Whether or not it simply did not register with him at first or the younger son simply would not let it, no one will ever know. But in that moment- the moment where his own personal god which he had put on a pedistal his entire life had proven himself a monster- his father changed in Ivan's eyes forever.
He was calm- if a bit more surly than was normal- as usual as he walked among the men and women who exited the council hall once the meeting had concluded. He knew what was to happen next. There were spirits to be poured in to little silver cups. And they would drink and attempt polite conversation and curse the sun-born bastards until that very sun peeked its radiant crown over the silhouette of the city. But tonight, Ivan would not join them. He would not hold his own silver cup and pretend to enjoy the foul liquid always poured inside. He would curse the Acarian's birth no more than he would curse his own father's soul.
The manor was empty when he returned- this was no surprise to him. The manor was once filled with bustling life and the commotion of five children living out their youth in one household. But then Derryk had abandoned them. Katja had betrayed them. And Alessandra had run away- unable to handle living in this house without the advocacy of the two elder siblings. Now only he and the youngest daughter remained. Illya was most likely gently slumbering in her bed.
Ivan had never before been out of the Yueshi district of Akhet. What did a traveller need? He knew he needed food that would not spoil and probably something to hold water. And money. He would need that too. The youngest son rifled through his belongings almost violently- hands trembling as he stuffed things he may or may not need into his leather bag that was probably entirely to small.
"Ivvie?" The girl of eight rubbed her eyes sleepily and yawned. "Why are you making so much noise?" Inwardly, Ivan panicked. He knew that he had to tell her something but he hadn't gotten this far in his head. He hadn't figured out what he was going to say to her. How could an older brother tell a little girl that her father didn't love her at all and was ready to sacrifice her life without a second thought? How did you make a little girl understand that about her father? You didn't. At least, there was no way Ivan could think of.
"Illya, you're awake." He tried to say calmly. His voice, however, quivered. It was something she probably caught- sounds never went by Illya unnoticed. "Do you miss Derryk and big sister Katja?" Clearly still only half awake, she nodded. "Well," he continued "how about you and big brother Ivan go on a trip to visit them?"
"Okay Ivvie. That sounds like a really fun idea." She yawned. Ivan- already wearing his pack and his swords- scooped her up in his arms. "I want to sleep more though, okay?"
He smiled, taking in every feature of his beautiful little sister's face. "That's fine, Illya. Sleep for now. I'll carry you."
The little girl yawned again. "Promise you won't let the monsters get me?" There was a lump that caught in his throat.
"I love you, big brother."
"I love you too, little sister." The answer came in a wisper, but she was already slumbering soundly in his arms once again. And for a moment- or perhaps longer- Ivan sank back onto his bed and tucked her head under his chin.
And Ivan, the proud son of the Nacht family, held on tightly to the most important person to him in the world- and cried until he no longer had the energy to.