She glanced back to the house, ensuring there were no witnesses. There was nothing wrong with what she was doing, of course. She was only breaking one small rule. Satisfied that she was undiscovered, she laid back down on the grass behind the precisely trimmed hedges.
Esmina held the little device up to her eye again, looking up at Eranos. The sister-planet currently blocked the sun, as it always did this time of day. It was a period of false night; the Shadow it was called. As dangerous as the genuine dark, if Aenias custom was to be believed. Naturally, all that was foolish nonsense. She came outside during as many Shadows as she could get away with.
The planet’s surface was difficult to make out in the dark, but that didn’t mean much, thanks to her clever new invention. With just a few shaped lenses, she could make out the planet with far more detail than before, even in the dark. She could differentiate between the land masses and the oceans, and if she was lucky, she might be able to see some tiny pinpricks of light, like yesterday. Faint stars twinkling on the planet’s surface. What could it mean? Fire, probably. Eranos probably had forests just like Asamos did. With as faint as those lights were, however, forest fires must not last long, if that’s what the source of the light was.
But she was not so lucky, as there were no such lights today. Disappointing, but she wouldn’t let her precious moments go to waste. Instead, she tried to spot any distinctions that were less prevalent when the sun shone on its surface. It did seem to have thicker clouds during its night time, but she hadn’t studied that particular subject long enough to come to any firm conclusion.
Soon the sun started to peek out from behind the sister-planet, signalling an end to the Shadow as the world was bathed in light once more. As it did, however, she caught movement in the sky. Something small. An insect, perhaps.
But no, her eyes spied a small dot in the sky. Something that didn’t move. She used the device to get a better look. A spyglass, she thought. That would be an appropriate name.
It was difficult to make out, especially with the sun so near, but the object she found looked fixated, much like Eranos. It was circular, as well. What could that be?
She tried to find it again without the help of her invention. At this point, however, the sun was too close, and she couldn’t make it out. It would have to wait for tomorrow.
With the Shadow being over, it was no longer taboo to be outside, but it would be suspicious if she returned to the house at this moment, so she would still have to sneak in. And now would be especially risky because anyone could walk outside and find her here.
With a slow exhale she got up from the ground and into a crouching position. Moving around in the dresses her father recently began forcing her to wear was troublesome, since it was more difficult to be quiet, but she was getting used to it as the days passed. She bunched up much of the excess cloth from her legs and held it in the hand carrying the spyglass. Then, peeking over the hedges, checked to make sure nobody was watching. As soon as she deemed it safe, she turned towards the path and hustled towards the manor.
And bumped into somebody the moment she rounded the corner.
“Oh, my!” Gaelin breathed, shielding his eyes. “My sincerest apologies, miss.”
“Gaelin! What are you doing here?” she hissed in a hushed tone.
The ashen skinned Tenshari stood with his left hand completely covering his eyes. His servant’s garb was kept nicer than most, and his right arm was completely bandaged in typical Tenshari fashion. “Looking for you, I’m afraid. It appears we must discuss your disregard for customs.” Peeking an eye to look down on her through his fingers, he soon turned around to face away from her. “Including your decency. Do cover your legs, miss.”
Esmina dropped the bunch of cloth to let the dress fall once more, and her face reddened despite herself. “I don’t know why you’re being so weird. You’ve bathed me hundreds of times.”
After a quick glance to make sure she was proper, he faced her once more. “I may have bathed a child hundreds of times, but you are no longer a child. Surely your father has made you aware of this.”
She scowled. “Don’t remind me.”
“Besides, if your father hears any rumors of his daughter and Tenshari servant being outside together in the garden during the Shadow, I fear banishment would be the least of our concerns.”
“Wha—but I didn’t even know you were out here!”
Suddenly panicked, he put a finger to his mouth to quiet her. “The truth hardly matters where gossip can breed, miss. Now please, go inside before we are both punished.”
She glanced up at the sister-planet. Was that tiny speck still there? There would be time to think on it later, but for now Gaelin was right. She shuddered to think what her father would do if some absurd rumor got out. Best to avoid trouble if she could. “We’ll talk later, Gaelin. I have some things I’d like to share with you, when we have time.”
Gaelin smiled. “I’d love to hear it.”
With that, she hurried back to the manor, eased open the door, and closed it behind her without a sound.