“Keep your chin up.” Allide Dawningsun chided the young boy, tilting his face up. She licked her thumb, wiping at a smudge on his face. “Kirian, listen to me.”
He blinked up at his mother with wide blue eyes.
“This is very important.” She crouched down, her blonde hair a halo around her face. “You have to make a good impression.”
“I know, mother.” He balled the ends of his sleeves up in his small hands. “You told me.”
“I just want to be certain you understand, Kirian. The Flamehearts are a very good family. Lord and Lady Flameheart have been friends of mine for some time.” She brushed his unruly hair back, turning him around and dragging a brush through it. “They have a daughter your age. Veilyaa.”
Kirian looked straight ahead as she pulled his hair back, trying not to move too much. “Is she nice?”
“I’m sure she is. You have to be nice to her too, Kirian. I want you to make friends with her. This is very important.” She tied his hair up with a bright blue ribbon, and then turned him back to face her. She rested her hands on his shoulders. “They are noble, Kirian.”
He nodded. “I know.”
“We aren’t noble. I’m an Arcanist. Your father is…he’s a good tailor, but he’s just a tailor.” Allide sighed. “Please, son. Please remember that. You can do better than we did. You just have to do things right. That means being nice to people.”
Kirian bit his lip, feeling as if the weight of his family settled on his small shoulders. He knew what she meant- even at his young age, he knew how these things worked. If he was nice enough, if she liked him enough, maybe he could be noble some day, too.
He looked toward his father, who hovered in the doorway and wrung his hands.
He didn’t think he really wanted to be a noble. But if it was what his mother and father wanted, if it was what would be best for his family, he would do what he had to.
“What’s your name?”
“Kirian.” He gathered his sleeves up in his small hands, and the other elf smiled at him. She was missing a tooth, and her hair was the color of embers that had nearly burned out.
Veilyaa grabbed his hand, and dragged him from the entryway. “Minn’da, Ann’da, we’re going to play!”
Kirian stumbled along behind her, and he could tell he already liked this girl with scorch marks on the sleeves of her robes.