"Is there anything else I might do for you Dama?" First Dsk Ishten's House Confidential Servant inflection was soothing on J'hiya's ears, if not her nerves.
J'hiya's own "No, you may go" was equally correct.
The older woman bowed to the proper degree and backed out of the parlor, leaving J'hiya alone. She picked up the cup of síðdegiste the dsk had poured, then set it down without drinking from it. She stood, took a step forward, then turned and sat back down. She picked up the tea again then abruptly set it down, flinching slightly as drops of the hot liquid hit her hand. "This is heimskulegur!" she muttered as she brushed at her hand.
She'd been restless, unable to settle since she had arrived at the L'u-cif-er compound the evening before. She sighed deeply. If she were truly honest, she'd admit she'd been unsettled since the instant she'd met the dark eyes of Ran Mikel in the docking bay. It was those dark eyes that haunted her, causing her to toss and turn on her bed, finally forcing her from it in the early morning hours.
"It is not Elska!" she told the empty room. J'hiya stood and began to pace the comfortably appointed room, unaware that she did so. She avoided the delicately carved furniture without really seeing them.
Elska was peculiarly Byshen. None of the other races had anything comparable. More than "love at first sight", it was an intense emotional, physical, mental, and psychic connection between two individuals. Its advent could not be predicted or forced. Some more devout Byshens saw Elska as a Divine gift. Perhaps there was something too that. The children of Elska bonds were without exception uniquely Talented persons.
J'hiya picked up the cup, making a face as she tasted the now lukewarm brew. She slumped in the chair and stared at the ceiling without seeing it. She was not a child of Elska. Her parents Be'eth Zhazar and De'enth Ilith were a love match, but not an Elska pair.
Elska was extremely rare. Over the several millennia of Byshen's history not more than a hundred bonds had been recorded and never did it occur in the same family in two successive generations.
Yet in House L'u-cif-er it had. Da'anil Kaen, half brother to Be'eth Zhazar, and Head of all House L'u-cif-er claimed Elska with an Un-Housed dsk. Their union produced twin sons, each of which had Elska bonded. And one of them had bonded with the off-spring of another Elska pairing.
But not J'hiya.
She rubbed the palm of her hand. Only the slightest of scars remained after the removal of her marriage jewel. At fifteen she had accepted an offer of shthor from House L'yn-d-sy. There had been no Elska between her and L'yn-d-sy Fe'nix Leisner, but there had been great affection, perhaps even love. She liked to think their marriage had been a good one.
It had ended all too soon. A warehouse fire claimed Fe'nix Leisner's life before their second anniversary together. As there were no children between them, J'hiya had returned to House L'u-cif-er, where her name was returned to her.