Dela lives in a world of Golden stories.
The Family of Light were essential to her. They were greater than her. Even if not currently enfleshed, they could still be relied upon.
Dela sought them in her withdrawing room, where they could always be found in her books of plays and poems, and visualized in the reproductions of court portraits which lined the walls. The withdrawing room was the one place where Dela could worship greater powers of good, instead of representing them for Dee Manor. The room had no windows. She looked out, instead, through the poetic histories preserved forever in her books, and the eyes of the Emperor's dead ancestors gazing benignly down with fragile, perfect beauty. Some of Dela's courtly relatives felt it was tawdry to hang reproductions no matter how renowned the originals. Original works, these cousins said, had greater powers. But taking the portraits with her when she left court was out of the question, and it was these pictures that Dela needed. Pictures to match the stories which nourished her so far away in time and space from her days at the court of the Golden Emperor.
There was sweet Lellalee, who died for love of common folk; and brave Fritan, so noble that even his Vrellish enemy could not bear to take his bright life on the challenge floor; and Demlara, who ruled wisely during the Golden Age; and Fahandlin the poet who wept for the smallest pains. All were as beautiful inside as they were to gaze upon; Souls of Light, as finely made as china dolls; inspiring goodness in the world by being too good to endure transgressions and too glorious to risk offending.
Except, if Ril was right, the world had failed them for the last time and none would ever suffer themselves, again, to be reborn. The Family of Light had abandoned Demora, driven from it by its fall from grace over the centuries since the Golden Emperor had ruled not only Demora but all of Sevildom.
Lying full-length on her divan, Dela closed her eyes and clutched her favorite book of poems, searching her memory for proof that Ril had to be mistaken, just this once.
"Do not grieve," Lellalee had told her contrite worshippers, "for I have done some good, and that's enough." Demlara had promised, "Light returns when evil tires of its broken toys." Fritan said, "Keep faith, and faith will keep you." "Beauty pol?" laughed frail Fahandlin, "look up, it fills the sky! What is more rel or more beautiful, than the stars!"
There had to be strength left in Demora's Golden wisdom. It had to be there still, disguised. In this room, at least, Dela was not alone. In this room she had the courage to be Golden in a world busy forgetting how to understand what it admired.
She sniffled her way through half a dozen handkerchiefs before she settled down to rest on her divan, gazing at the familiar room. The walls were pale pink, the divan rose, and vases were filled with fresh flowers. Here she kept books she had memorized and the music box her mother gave her when she came to Dee Manor, twenty-two years ago, as Chandad Dee's bride
Chandad had been so dashing, even though he was merely a Highlord, and she was proud to be received like an empress. But Chandad was really only greedy, and her Golden powers inadequate to curb his straying eye once she failed to give Dee the highborn heir that, above all else, it wanted of her. All in all not a story of legend after all. Chandad was always somewhere else, pursuing other interests so far removed from her she barely knew what they might be, nor much cared.