come and visit
China on china. Footsteps. Latch. Door open.
Blue eyes framed by emerald hair and held within a doll-like complexion widened in surprise. "Lord Saryu!"
Lord Saryu of Ratayu bowed at the waist. "Miss Eliza."
Eliza smoothed the front of her green skirt, immediately straightening the tie at the collar of her white shirt as well as her full head of green hair. "W-Won't you come in?"
"Yes. Thank you." He passed her into the inn.
Eliza closed the door and stepped forward, motioning to a table and tea service. "Please. Have a seat."
Lord Saryu sat in the offered chair.
Eliza hesitantly lowered herself into the seat across from him. "Tea?"
Eliza gracefully set up the teacups and poured the tea. Then she offered him his cup and saucer.
Lord Saryu accepted the set with a slight nod. "Thank you."
Eliza stared into her teacup. "Beautiful day. The weather has been wonderful," she conversed quietly.
Lord Saryu set down his teacup and raised his eyes to a scrutiny of her expression. It showed calm. "Miss Eliza, I have come to apologize for actions taken against you." She slowly set down her cup and saucer. "As I have apologized to the other ladies and families."
Eliza didn't raise her gaze from her tea. "Thank you, Lord," she whispered.
"I will do whatever is in my power to make restitution for your hardship, as I have done for the others. Name it, and it will be done."
Eliza released her hold on the teacup and clenched them in her lap, eyes still focused on them. "It isn't necessary, Lord. There was no harm."
"There was intent to harm, Miss Eliza. There was mental and emotional anguish caused by that intent." His violet eyes darkened to purple. "I have brought dishonor to my house. What must I do to lift it?"
Eliza finally lifted her blue eyes from her clenched hands. "Lord Saryu, you didn't act of your own free will. You were being controlled; the same as any of us before the Mist lifted. The sim-seru and the man who tricked you into wearing it holds the dishonor and any responsibility of recompense." She lowered her gaze again. "I don't hold you to blame, Lord."
Lord Saryu stared in wonder and disbelief. "Miss Eliza," he finally said, "I do not deserve such understanding and compassion. Was it not I who chose to wear the sim-seru?"
"And wasn't it you who turned off the machine feeding the monster Juggernaut?" she countered softly. Eliza briefly glanced up. "Your heart is good, Lord."
Lord Saryu slowly smiled. "Miss Eliza... Miss Eliza, your virtues astound."
She flushed without raising her gaze. "It is nothing, Lord."
"Nothing? Nothing, my lady? You have offered no condemnation. No accusation. No guilt. There has been but gentleness and understanding." Lord Saryu raised a hand to his heart. "I am touched and moved, my lady. Deeply."
Eliza's flush deepened as she lowered her head.
Lord Saryu retrieved his teacup and saucer. "Yes, it is a beautiful day," he said softly. "My gardens are in full bloom. You should come and see them."
Eliza timidly raised her eyes to meet his. She smiled.