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90th of Vhalar 716

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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90th Vhalar, 716
The preparations for the play were well under way and Faith had taken some time from Lady Elyna and Ser Krome to put the finishing touches on the costumes for Tristan Venora's play. The upcoming play was very important to her owner and the young slave had worked very hard to make sure that the costumes were the absolute best that they could be. She had certainly developed in her skills over the time that she had been owned by Tristan and she was at the point now where she thought that she was good enough to maybe start making him clothes. He had spent a lot of money on clothes for her and Faith was of the opinion that she could be much more frugal with his money and still ensure that she looked the way that he wanted her to look. More than that, she might be able to make things for him to wear, although in truth she would like to be better than she was before she did that.

However, on this particular trial she was going through finishing touches for the cast, sewing curtains and scenery pieces. Currently, she was sitting cross legged on the floor, surrounded with a deep swathe of material, thing gossamer voile which was black and she was sewing tiny sequins into it, so that it would shimmer like the night sky. "I am not sure, Master, to be honest" she said, with an earnest expression. Looking down at the material in her lap, her hands moved swiftly and with sure movements as she considered. "I would think that.. well, he seemed like a nice young man to me, but he was very young and" she paused and lowered her voice, leaning in to speak to Tristan as she did. He was kneeling on the floor, sorting through some of his tools as she whispered "He was posing as a slave, Master, and Velijorn and your cousin did not treat their slaves well. He was very grubby and mistreated. I felt bad for him, so I did not really pay attention to things other than trying to protect him" Whether the King liked theatre, she really could not tell.

But then, she lifted the shimmering black curtain back up and she started the last row of sequins. Each one was tiny, so she attached the thread and then she threaded the sequins needed. "I think the combination of your play writing skills and the fact that you have made so many of the pieces of scenery should be enough for him to want to come. It was very kind of you to invite him" she kept looking at the material she was working on, wondering how she felt at the prospect of meeting the King again. It was a scary prospect in truth, for she had replayed that situation a number of times and she had come to the conclusion that she should be embarrassed should she ever meet him again.

Her hands continued to move and she knotted and tied off the thread, holding it up for Tristan to see. "The night sky, Master, over in the back left. I thought I'd get started on the final adjustments for the costumes now. Unless you need some help with anything?" she wondered and looked down at the series of tools he had there. With a quirked eyebrow she asked with her usual quiet and calm "That's a lot of tools. How much have you still got to do?" As she asked, she looked up at him, searching for the tell tale signs of impending panic.
word count: 610
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Tristan was nervous which was rather surprising since he had not thought himself capable of being nervous, at least not to such an extent. But here he was, thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong with his play and working too much and suffering from a lack of sleep as a consequence. Why, earlier that month he had even run away to Sabaissant and gotten high with his cousin in an attempt to forget his impending doom, unfortunately with very mixed results. He had felt amazing for a few moments, but once the effects of the drugs had worn off, the memories had returned with full force.

The props for the play weren’t finished either. He still needed to make two sculptures, and time was running out. Only six more trials! He emptied the container with his tools onto the floor in front of him and sorted through various chisels with something akin to panic. The tips of some of them were already a little dull from all the work that he had put them through and would not to be replaced soon. Prior to working on the play he had thought such tools would last forever. He had spent more than enough money on them!

”Do you think King Cassander will accept my invitation?” he wondered and looked at Faith hopefully. Not even sleeping with her had been able to distract him entirely these past couple of trials, although it had certainly been very nice. ”Do you think he’ll like my play? Maybe I should have made it a little less violent”, he murmured thoughtfully, but then again, if you took away all the sex and the violence, what would remain? A lesson on divorce and marriage equality? No, thanks. That sounded really boring!

”Why was he posing as a slave?” he wanted to know. ”If I were a king, I would not pretend to be a slave and let some wannabe rebel and his evil wife mistreat me.” He made a face. He really wasn’t very fond of Zvezdana, although cutting her husband’s body up so that his soul would never find peace had been a bit too much in his opinion. ”Thanks for protecting him though. For some reason I’m quite fond of him.” He really wanted them to be friends, for not entirely selfless reasons.

”This looks amazing”, he remarked as she lifted the curtain. He was about to ask her if he would be allowed to touch it, but then he realized that she was his slave, and he didn’t have to ask his slave for permission, to he just let a hand carefully run across the shimmering fabric. Having done that, he looked at her thoughtfully. Did he need help?

”Of course I do”, he decided and sighed. ”But if you help me, you can’t finish he costumes, and we need the costumes as well. I’ll manage, somehow. I still need to make a tree for the forest where Elaine and Alexander hide from the queen – oh, and a sculpture of Elaine. I’m trying not to make it look too much like Elyna Burhan”, he remarked and pointed at what was still a largely shapeless lump of stone on the floor.

The skyrider had been the initial inspiration the character of Lady Elaine. He wondered what Faith thought of that. Was she jealous that his female protagonist did not resemble her? Had she heard those ridiculous rumours that he was the father of Elyna’s bastard as well?
word count: 603
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"Do these need to be sharpened?" she asked, touching the blunting edge of one of his chisels. "Do you have a whetstone?" But then he asked her about the King and Faith looked up at Tristan and when he asked whether he should have made it less violent, Faith shook her head "Your play is excellent just as it is. There is no need for you to worry about that. I am sure that he will be delighted with it" Besides, she thought, if one took out the sex and violence there would be no story at all, for the dialogue hinged on it, so it was much better that they stayed in. He had a wild eyed look about him and Faith tried her best to calm him with her eyes, with her own calm gaze, but she knew that she was doomed to failure before she began.

As for why the King was posing as a slave? Faith shrugged slightly and looked down at what she was doing. When she spoke, her voice had a far-away quality as she spoke the memories burned into her mind. "It was the eve of his sixteenth birthday. He said it was, then he said that, that afternoon he had polished the crowns of those who would oppose his rule, washed their feet and poured their wine" her hands stopped moving and she ran one over the material, watching it shimmer. "He spoke his reasons clearly when he said 'This I have done night after night, learning my enemy from the foothills of the Burning Mountains. Krome'. Then he spoke to Lady Venora and called her unreasonable and false, claiming that she had the backing of the south who allowed the armies to march across their land by his hand. He turned then to Velijorn and said that it is a dangerous man who is so entitled that he would cut down innoncent people and convince an army the an act is just. He told him that his action had not only lost him the heart of the people but had turned him into what he despised. I suppose he just wanted to know them, Master, to see how far they would go and to be sure who was on his side and who was not" She shrugged slightly, but she could not hide the blush that tinged her cheeks. "He is a kind man, I believe. Although had I known he was the King I would not have nudged him with my knee" she smiled, shaking her head "I find it hard to believe that I was there and involved in that. It has... I have changed" Now was not the time, she knew, so she got back to what she was doing.

He needed help, but he needed the costumes too and she nodded "I will work on the costumes now, they are the last thing for me, and they only need adjustments and final fittings. Are there any changes you wish me to make?" She raised an eyebrow in amusement when he said that he was trying not to make it look too much like Lady Elyna. "I think you will make a perfect sculpture, but Master, I think you should consider making it look like the actress playing Lady Elaine, rather than the woman who was the inspiration for her" If she had heard of, or read of, the rumours (which she had) she did not comment on them in the slightest. "Otherwise, it will be a noticeable difference between the woman who is acting and the statue, which might be a jarring lack of continuity for the audience? I wonder, though, Master?" she asked with an entirely innocent look on her face that he knew far better than to believe. He had seen it more than once, although usually it was when they were alone together

"Will the statue of the King, should there be one, have beautiful skin and eyes? And does he, I wonder, have a cat?" she asked, with a very well disguised, yet obvious to him, air of pure mischief. If she could make him smile, then he would panic less, she was sure.
word count: 702
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“I think so”, Tristan murmured as Faith asked him whether his chisels needed to be sharpened. “I’ve never sharpened them before. I thought chisels didn’t need to be sharpened! Why would I need a wet stone though?” he wondered and scratched his head before it occurred to him that he might quite possibly have misunderstood her. “Oh, you mean a whetstone!” he exclaimed. “Maybe there’s one under the mess in the corner over there?” He pointed at a heap of stones, clay pieces and sculpting tools, the leftovers of the sculpture that he had finished the trial before.

“He really did that?” he asked incredulously. “Why would he wash the feet of his opponents?” That seemed a little masochistic to him, and he was about to tell Faith that when he realized that calling a man who could order his death at a moment’s notice a masochist might not be a good idea, especially if he wanted said man to watch his play. So he just blushed slightly, cleared his throat and remarked, “I agree though, that he seems like a good man - and quite creative! And his description of Zvezdana’s character was spot-on! I know that I shouldn’t say that about my family, but I can’t stand her at all. I’m just glad that Veljorn and she didn’t have time to procreate!”

He shuddered at the thought of a bunch of treacherous little bastards running around Sabaissant (although, come to think of it, since Zvezdana had married the wannabe king they wouldn’t be real bastards, just figurative bastards). Hopefully Zvezdana would never remarry, but take a vow of chastity and spend the rest of her life in some sort of nunnery!

“I’ve changed as well”, he informed her. “I wasn’t there when the thing with the king and Zvezdana happened, but that trip to Ne’haer was pretty bad as well.” The thought promptly made him sick, although he wasn’t even on a ship that time, and he tried his best to force himself to think happy thoughts. Unfortunately he couldn’t come up with any even marginally happy thoughts. He was still pessimistic and in a slight state of panic.

“No, your work’s perfect”, he informed her as she asked him whether there were any changes he wished her to make. “And you are right, I should make the statue look like the actress, although Elyna’s better looking in my opinion. Valeria has longer hair though, so I’ll give her sculpture longer hair as well?” He realized that it had sounded like a question and sighed. Something was really wrong with him that trial! “And the statue of the king will of course have beautiful skin and eyes and a … wait! Did you just ask if it will look like me? I’m a narcissist, but not that big of a narcissist!” He actually laughed as he said that – barely. It was a pale shadow of the laughter he was usually capable of.

“So”, he said once he was done with his miserable excuse for a laughter. “We’d better get to work otherwise I might have to postpone the premiere, and I really don’t think that the king would appreciate that. Which sculpture do you think I should work on first?” he asked and proceeded to answer the question himself. “I think I’ll work on the tree first. I’m in the mood for nature. It’s a pity I can’t use the face-fruit tree I made the other trial, but it’s a realistic play, and realistic plays don’t have fruit that can bite you. Anyway, can you find me the whetstone while I start working?”

He looked at her questioningly, and then he grabbed a hammer and the chisel that seemed like it was the least dull of all and started on the tree trunk, hitting the back of the chisel with his hammer to work out the rough shape of the tree. Hitting things, he realized, helped him deal with his frustration, and it was great that he could be productive and sculpt at the same time.

It wouldn’t be a pure stone sculpture though. Only the trunk and the branches would be stone, the rest would be a rather creative mixture of different materials so that the tree would look more alive.
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"Indeed you have" she acknowledged when he said that he had changed as well "But I suppose it is more appropriate for you to do so. You have the freedom to do so, whereas I should remain as before, should I not?" she smiled at him, watching the interplay of emotions on his face and she considered quite seriously that she wished to Famula that he had never experienced anything so negative as that trip to Ne'haer. That she had seen battle was acceptable but that he did was not. He had a view of the world which was at once completely abstract and out of Idalos to the young slave, but at the same time it was a wonderful world that he lived in and she felt strongly that it was a shame to have anyone or anything harm it.

When he laughed, though, her smile lit her face and Faith looked at him with pleasure dancing in her eyes "I would never suggest such, Master." She was teasing and it was obvious, yet her next words were entirely serious "He would be lucky to be so handsome. You are much more attractive than him and were you to portray him as alike to you, he could only be flattered. Honestly" she meant it entirely and it showed in her expression. But a whetstone? She nodded her head "Of course, Master" she said and went searching.

Oh, how did he ever get anything done she wondered as she rummaged through the pile of randomnly thrown stones and tools. He was so very chaotic, it was almost unbelievable. But eventually she found the whetstone and brought it to him. She watched as he sharpened the tools, trying to learn how to do it so that she could help him.

But then, it was on to the outfits and the final fittings. Faith pinned in the dress of Lady Elaine, whose actress seemed to be suffering the same sort of nerves as her owner did and who was dropping weight in a way that was frankly silly as far as the young slave was concerned. She had pulled in the dress again and she was hopeful that it would still fall in the way that Tristan wanted. She knew, though, as she pulled it in and looked at it critically that it would not so, she unpicked part of it and then turned another pleat, so that it would accomodate the adjustment. The fix was relatively straightforward and she realised something and so said it "Lady Elyna has taught me a lot about sewing. I am very pleased to be able to do this well enough for you now" she said and held up the dress "Master if Lady Elaine loses any more weight, I am going to have to make a new dress. It seems to me that she is very silly to be so worried. No one is going to die, the play was written by an incredibly talented man with a lot of friends and family around him supporting him. It is going to be amazing and she is silly to worry differently" she said and her lips lifted in a slight smile, her expression telling him that it was him she was talking to. "I bet she wishes that she was half as brave as you, then she would not worry so"

She held up the dress and swished it around. "I am happy with how this falls now. Would you like me to make some foliage for that tree? I could use organza and make shimmering leaves?" she asked, ideas forming already.
word count: 607
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“No, you should not“, Tristan replied and rolled his eyes. Honestly? How could she even think that? “As I’ve told you about a thousand times before, slaves are people and not things, and people are not static. People are allowed to and should change. You’d bore me if you were still the woman that you were on the trial that I bought you and insisted on wearing the rags that Jamal gave you and sleeping on the floor and eating out of a bowl, like a dog.” He shuddered in disgust as he remembered. Jamal had, in his mind, been a little crazy. No very crazy, he amended.

“Of course I am”, he replied as she informed him that he was much more attractive than his fictional king. “I’m the most handsome man in Idalos, am I not?” He laughed as he said that – actually laughed this time – although … maybe it was true? He certainly found himself better looking than Alistair who always looked so mature and serious, and people called his cousin a very handsome man. He wondered if thinking that was arrogant, and then he decided that he just didn’t care. It felt good, and that was all that mattered.

“Not Lady Elaine”, he correct her as the conversation turned to the dress Faith was working on. He looked a little worried as well. “Valeria. The actress’ name is Valeria Macerys. If she refuses to eat, we need to feed you. You, Faith, are going to bake a cake and deliver it to her”, he ordered. “I doubt she’ll be able to resist, no matter how nervous she is. Come to think of it, I want cake as well”, he informed her. Something about talking to Faith always made him feel better, even if the whole world seemed to be against him.

“Actually”, he said as she asked him if he would like her to make some foliage for the tree. “I have something right here.” He put the hammer and the chisel down – the tree trunk started to actually resemble a tree trunk, although he still needed to add the details and paint it – and started searching his workshop. After a few bits he triumphantly held up a box, carried it over to Faith and opened it. She could see that it contained all kinds of colourful fabrics as well as paper. “I took some stuff with me when I returned from Sabaissant”, he informed her, referring to the same visit where he had gotten high with his cousin.

“I thought we could make the leaves with this here.” He took a piece of paper and handed it to Faith. It was thicker than normal paper. “And then add a bit of organza in between. And maybe something that glitters when the light falls on it? I think that would create a nice effect.” He furrowed his brow a little before he admitted, ”I thought about using real leaves and moss and flowers so that the trees look more realistic – I even thought about hauling a whole tree into the theatre - but then I realized that they wouldn’t last long and would probably have to be replaced after every show.”
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He rolled his eyes and Faith bit back a smile. He was much more himself, and getting moreso each moment. That was a very good thing to the young slave and she lowered her head to her work "Indeed, Master. My apologies" she replied, a demure tone to her voice and certainly no argument from her. But really, she had not insisted on doing any of those things, ever, but he was tutting and eye rolling and getting quite back to himself, so she was happy; she kept quiet on the rest of it. But she lifted her head and looked at him with a most serious gaze at his question "I do not know, Master" she said when he asked if he was not the most handsome man on Idalos "I have not seen them all. But certainly, the most handsome amongst all the ones that I have seen. I will endeavour to pay attention to such, so that I am more and more certain" she quirked her lips slightly, amusement lighting her expression as she teased him.

But cake? She raised an eyebrow and nodded "Of course, Master" she responded, immediately. Putting the dress down carefully, she began to fold it and looked at him with a quizzical expression "Who would you like me to pass the sewing on to in order for me to go and make these cakes?" she asked, her eyes searching his "Although I have put some cake in your lunch, if that might do until we have time?" she wondered. "And I promise you, I have tried to get her to eat but she refuses. Maybe if she sees you eating and enjoying your food or.. whatever you wish, Master" she was more than willing to go and bake cakes right now, but she really wasn't sure that this was what he really wanted, should he think about it. It was not her place to question, however, so she went where he told her to.

But the box intrigued her and she lowered her head to study it, moving her hair from in front of her face with a look of fascination. "This is beautiful" she commented, holding the piece he offered her and smiling. "Yes, I think we can do something very wonderful. I have some very thin lace, that will work." The organza or the lace both shared a disadvantage that this paper mitigated; they were very fine and flimsy and would not lay like leaves because they weren't thick enough. Equally, though, that meant that she could attach one to the other and a very viable leaf-solution could be made. "If I have time, I can sew in details, also"

That he had thought about bringing in trees and moss caused her to glance at him, wondering if he was joking. Of course, he was not. It was typical of him and she shrugged slightly "If you could get the tree uprooted and replanted into a large pot here, then it would be fine, but moss and so on would die, yes. Plus, there are the bugs" frowning she continued "But petals and such might give a nice aroma, add to the effect. But yes, I think this will work very well to make foliage. Should I get on with that or the cake baking?" she asked, running the paper through her hand and feeling the softness of it. "This will make a wonderful backing. It's beautiful" she said, considering possibilities as they scampered through her head.
word count: 591
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“Oh, Faith!“ Tristan exclaimed and rolled his eyes – again. It seemed to become something of a habit of his as his slave and he seemed to be prone to misunderstandings that trial. He just hoped that the rolling eyes weren’t permanent. “I didn’t mean it that way. You don’t have to go and bake a cake right now. Just bake it whenever you are done with the costumes. The costumes are more important. Although …” He broke off and scratched his head as he realized something very unfortunate. “Although the costumes will be useless if my star is not available because she starved herself to death. So …” He was just about to suggest that she go bake and he would try his hand at sewing, when she mentioned the cake she had put in his lunch. His eyes lit up as he heard that.

“That will do. When I’m done with the sculptures, I’ll visit Rynmere Theatre and share my food with Valeria. Maybe she’ll realize that she’s hungry when she sees me eating the delicious food you made for me.” He really hoped so. While he had found a replacement for Daliane should he fall ill, he didn’t know who could possibly replace Valeria. Oh, he had talked to a few actresses, but the problem was that none of them were her! Did the other people at the theatre have the same problem or was he the only one that had to deal with such near catastrophes? He felt some of the previous panic return.

“Don’t tell anybody”, he whispered to Faith as she inspected the box. “But some of that actually belongs to Grandmother Ebony. András and I stumbled across a few of her treasures quite by chance when we explored the castle …” He grinned as he remembered. It had been quite an interesting experience. What he didn’t tell Faith of course was that they had also tried on a few of Ebony Venora’s dresses and skirts. Who would have thought that the nearly seventy arc old duchess owned corsets?

“I didn’t consider potted trees”, he murmured before he decided, “But no, I don’t think potted ideas would be a good idea either. If Valeria saw a bug, she would probably run away screaming. You mentioned aroma though – how about we put some sort of perfume on the sculptures so that it smells more like a real forest?”

“I have scissors and knives somewhere”,
he informed Faith as she would need those to make the leaves and gestured towards another corner of his workshop. “And pencils. I think we should sketch the leaves before we cut them out otherwise they might not look much like leaves. I’ll help you with the leaves in a bit. I just need to finish this here.” As he said that, he hit the chisel with the hammer one last time – hard – before he grabbed a chisel with a finer tip and a riffler. Tree trunks had all kinds of lines and holes and generally didn’t have a smooth surface, so his fake tree wouldn’t have one either. Although, he realized, he had no idea how many lines he should add. Maybe he should have gotten at least one potted tree and used it as a model!
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Don't go right now, but right now would be good. Such was the life of a slave, Faith knew and she smiled a gentle smile at Tristan as he scratched his head and realised that his order were directly in contraditiction with each other. Of course, he did not accept or even recognise that, instead he rolled his eyes and told her that she was being foolish. But such it was and so it would always be. Unless, of course, something ever changed. Faith wondered, more and more these trials, whether she might ever be free; because she could serve maybe even better as a free woman as she could as a slave. Real, true service to many more people than just one. Yet maybe she was thinking in ways which were above her station, she was not sure. But Famula had put her in the positions she had been in, where she had fought shadow beasts, ridden dragons and even knelt next to the king. Was what she did here what she should do, or could she serve better elsewhere? They were strange thoughts to the young slave, but inevitable in a way, from the moment that she met a Mortalborn man in the gardens.

In all her arcs, however, she would never have expected Lord Tristan Venora to be rummaging in his grandmother's wardrobe. Faith's eyebrows nearly hit her hairline as he talked about discovering her 'treasures' with his cousin and Faith looked at him with an entirely incredulous expression "Is she attending the premier, Master?" she asked, with a look of some mischief "And if so, is there anything which we need to disguise in case she recognises it?" It was a genuine concern, after all.

But, back to work and Faith nodded her head, turning her attention to the costume of the king. Since Master had a backup plan, she had a backup costume and she was just putting the last touches to it. If it was his first choice, then the sash was a slightly different shade of blue and therefore, there would need to be a slightly different sash worn on the statue. The small details, after all, were important. That second sash for the statue was the last thing, she thought, that she had to do and so she set about the embroidery which was done in delicate satin stitch throughout it; utilising a shimmering thread it looked subtle but effective. Her hands moved quickly, and she looked up at him, then lowered her head once again, there was no point to disturbing him.

The swirling stitch was something which she enjoyed creating and she sewed the intricate pattern on to the sash with an almost practiced ease. When he said to draw the leaves, though, she nodded her head "If you think so, Master, of course. But my sewing skill is far superior to my drawing skill, it is only fair to point out" and that was most certainly true. However, as was always her way, Faith was happy to turn her hand to working with him. Leading lady's costume done, understudy to the leading man, finished, she was happy to turn her attention to whatever he wished, next.
word count: 541
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Wealth Tier: Tier 10

Preparation is key!

„Well, I sent her an invitation“, Tristan informed Faith. He thought that she looked at him incredulously because she couldn’t believe the amount of great stuff he had found in his grandmother’s room. It didn’t occur to him that two young men rummaging around in an old lady’s wardrobe might be considered slightly strange and that most young men would rather be anywhere but in their grandmother’s bedroom. “I sent all my relatives an invitation because it’s the proper thing to do, you know? I don’t think she’ll recognize anything though – if she comes. She owns so many things that she’s probably already forgotten about most of them, so I don’t think we need to be worried.”

“Did you know that Andráska might be playing a solo on his cello?”
he asked her while he watched her work on the king’s costume for a bit. She was good. Really good. He had tried sewing once before he had bought her because his clothes had been full of holes, but messed up horribly. After that he had decided to just buy something new every time he found a hole because it was less frustrating, and he had too much money anyway. “And Teddy wrote a few songs for me”, he continued and pulled his gaze away from her work because he really needed to concentrate on his own work again. He wondered what she thought of what he had just said. Was she happy that she belonged to such a great and talented family? He would probably be, if he were a slave (which was, to be honest, hard to imagine).

“I just want you to draw leaves, not make a full body portrait of King Cassander!” he informed Faith as she pointed out her lack of drawing skill. The tone of his voice was a little too harsh. All the stress of the past weeks was getting to him. He desperately wished he had some of Andráska’s magic powders right now – or just a large heap of chocolate. The thought of chocolate instantly made him feel better again. Maybe Faith had hidden some in the kitchen? “Look, I’ll make the first one so that you can see how it’s done, and you can use it as a model and just trace its edges with a pencil if you want”, he said more gently because he cared about her and really didn’t want her to be upset – and he also needed her help to finish the props on time.

Having said that, he took a piece of shimmering emerald paper and started to sketch a leaf on it, occasionally erasing bits of it because the shape didn’t look quite right, and he really didn’t have much more skill in drawing than Faith. Once he was finished he took a pair of scissors, cut the leaf out and handed it to Faith before he turned back to his still leafless tree. It needed to be painted now. He had already picked a paint that was a nice, deep shade of brown for it. It would look magnificent once it was finished. If it was ever finished.
word count: 550
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