Present Day in Scorpio
Arianna stretched lazily on the chaise lounge as her best friend Velaria went through the sea of dresses in front of them hoping to find one to wear to the upcoming Massacre Ball. If Velaria hadn’t forcefully woken her up that morning, she wouldn’t be in an over-priced boutique finding a gown that no one would notice her in and attending a ball she had no interest in whatsoever. She had nothing against the ball in general. The main point of having the ball was to remind Nocturnes of the war that had nearly wiped out their existence almost eight hundred years ago. But the ball wasn’t something she felt comfortable attending.
Some of the people attending were nice enough through her experience but others had ulterior motives to attend the ball. Motives like trying to meet people with high status just to close a business deal. She couldn’t blame them; the business world was a cruel and cut-throat one, from what she observed from her father’s work. She felt that her father’s job was a tiring and lonely one that forced him to maintain a façade in front of his rivals and never be generous with his trust. However, she could see the joy carved onto his face when a business deal went his way or when he stood at the grand opening of his latest building. Three years ago she would have had a choice of attending or passing by the event but since her twin Gabriel passed away, she had to appear alongside her family for public functions such as the Massacre Ball to show others that they were still strong as a family in light of Gabriel’s death. Or so her grandfather said.
‘Ari, did you listen to a word I said?’ Velaria’s hand paused on the dresses she was browsing through to look at her childhood friend. When it was obvious by the blank look that covered her face that Arianna had not, she discarded her previous thread of conversation and cunningly switched the topic. The one of many that she knew Arianna dreaded when it came to the ball. ‘Ari, who’s escorting you to the ball?’ The muscle in Arianna’s jaw tensed for a moment and her eyes shifted away from her friend’s face. Velaria knew her well enough to know what those little gestures meant. In this case, it meant she hadn’t bothered finding one.
‘I knew you would be like this.’ Velaria exclaimed with a huff. ‘I told you before Ari, you need a date or an escort for the ball. You can’t just show up alone with no one by your side.’ she argued.
Arianna didn’t bother to shift her gaze as she addressed Velaria, ’Why not? There are other guests who show up by themselves without any escort and I don’t see anyone ridiculing them.’
'Well, they’re not ridiculed but people will label them as defective, unattractive, pathetic. The Nocturne society can be pretty cruel at times.’ Velaria voiced the last part with empathy. When her uncle had a financial crisis which subsequently affected her entire family, the people who she once called friends avoided her like the plague.
She spent an entire year in high school sneaking her lunch into the library to avoid the outright looks of prejudice and snide remarks from her peers. The only person who stood by her through thick and thin was Arianna. Despite what others thought of her, Arianna was the only one who didn’t abandon her to a life of solitude. Thankfully, the next year her father managed to restore their family to its former glory although some still thought them lower. And what do you know, people started to approach her claiming to be friends and saying that they hadn’t meant to shun her the year before. The most common excuse was ‘the majority of the student body did it, so we just followed them’. That just pushed her anger meter to the limit. Didn’t they have their own will? Or could they not think for themselves? Were their brains so impossibly pea-sized that they hadn’t thought past the ranks and status of an individual to see their true self?
Since then, Velaria had become more cautious of the people around her and who she considered to be true friends. Experience had thought her that it was always wise to be wary, even of sweet words and seemingly good intentions. Here in the Nocturne society, sweet words were often poison coated with honey, sweet but deadly. She mentally shook herself and tried to blank out the bitter memory and instead, focus on the matter at hand.
‘Do you want me to find you a date, as well?’ Velaria offered. Arianna’s face totally drained of any of any colour as she remembered the last time she had allowed her dear friend set her up on a blind date. Velaria had known that she would never have agreed to the idea of a blind date in the first place, and so the ever crafty Velaria came up with a tried and tested plan to lure her into the trap.
Velaria had told her that they would meet up for dinner at a posh restaurant just around the corner. However, all was not as Arianna had imagined when she reached the restaurant. Instead of a slim-figured brunette, she was greeted by a sturdy gentleman with blond hair.He had the most charming smile that somehow still managed to make her skin crawl at the sight of it and impeccable manners right out of a fairytale. She dismissed the creepy feeling he gave her as nerves and truly tried to make it a wonderful experience despite silently cursing Velaria and promising to make her pay for setting up the trap. However by the end of the dinner date, she was so bored by his conversations and monotonous, droning voice that she very nearly felt like pulling out strands and eventually chunks of her hair just to pass time. She would have gladly pulled out all of her gloriously lush mane just to be rid of her date.
‘I think I’ll pass on the offer but thanks anyway.’ Arianna swiftly replied with a shudder as she came back to the present with Velaria glaring almost impatiently at her. She wouldn’t dare risk another episode of the disaster date. However, she would need to find a date soon if she was going to get Velaria off her back. She was nothing if not persistent. ‘Ari, the ball is two weeks away. Most of the guests would have already picked their dates by now. And would you show some enthusiasm towards the ball? Your family is hosting it this year after all. At least come look for a gown.’ Velaria sighed as she continued combing through the dresses feverishly.
‘You act as if you are unaware of my hatred for these frivolous things. Shopping for dresses is just so…so… troublesome to say the least. I think I’ll just let you choose my dress this year.’ Arianna sighed and slumped back against the chair while wriggling her shoulders deeper into the plush seat.
by S.Dawn & R.Shiori