I was sent to treat. Me.
My ramshackle “family,” the dubious Clan of the Black Feather, voted me their ambassador for the parley. Actually, while I’m on the topic of that band of bastards, let me say that they sent me out to the enclave knowing full well that I’d get mauled, because they are a deceitful, scheming, back-handed bunch of unfaithful, uncaring, wholly unrepentant bastards. They only claimed me peripherally as a ward of the clan because I was female and not an elderly crone–even with my parentage being questionable.
They wouldn’t have done so three generations back, before the Curse of Sigemao, before the family was doomed to having only male spawn. Even though he made it so that none of the Heise line could render female progeny, I thought the guy exceedingly funny. Everybody in my town did. We all knew the story, but that was before the clan elders claimed me as their long lost daughter… illegitimate, but very much female– making me a natural shoe-in for their schemes.
They’d plucked me from the “uncle” for whom I worked like a dog… I acknowledge that my living situation could’ve been so much worse. I cooked. I cleaned. I served. But should I truly feel grateful for not being molested or physically tortured? In exchange for an education, I did everything, and Master Shenlen flaunted me around like he was the epitome of philanthropy. I was supposed to be his orphaned niece, not his maid.
I was only nine when I came to live with him, and I had such high hopes after the devastation of losing my only earthly bond. I can’t even say I benefited from a real education. All I got was access to the books in his musty, unused library… and only because I had cleaned and catalogued them.
I have some serious holes in my formal knowledge. So when the elders polished me up and paraded me in front of the enclave for the treaty ratifications, I knew they were handing my ignorance to the other ambassadors on a silver platter. They wanted the Beast of Bremeer and his associates to throw their callousness my way. The clan planned to feel affront and for the changes to fall through.
The Beast had other plans, however. Lucky for me, they involved silver platters without my head on any of them.