Brocaded silk and haon fan
This item was a prize from the Hunt for History.
a brocaded silk and haon fan
Slender strips of haon wood connect at a faenor clip, and lengths of exquisitely brocaded silk stretch between the pieces of haon. The underlying fabric is shimmering golden silk, but patterns of jade birds, scarlet butterflies, and turquoise clematis blossoms course around the base of the fan and twine along its wide edge. A silvery ribbon has been knotted through the faenor clip, and inked black elven runes run along its length before culminating at either end in a painted Nalfein crest.
This fan originates from Ta'Nalfein.
As the power of your voice reaches into the fan, you hear a second song come from the silk and the haon. The cadences of the song are Common, though you mysteriously cannot understand the words. Along with the voice comes an image: a young human clad in stark black and green, seated at a table with a row of other humans. His ankles are chained, and a double-triangle brand marks the back of his right hand, highly visible as he carefully stitches a line of delicate loops to secure a piece of brocaded silk to a series of haon swathes. As an elven overseer comes into view, the human slave stops singing, but the whip cracks across his arm anyway. A set of strong elven fingers clamp around his wrist and pull him backward, tumbling him from the bench, so that he will not bleed on the silk.
The vibrations from the silk and haon fan awaken an image in your mind: two elven women speaking together across the crystal counter of a small shop. One is slightly pudgy, and a bit shorter; her pale blue silks match her eyes, but this unfortunately brings out the circles beneath her eyes as well. The other is elegantly coiffed in emerald silk and pearls, and she walks escorted by a pair of elven servants. A box lies open on the counter between them, and a beautifully brocaded silk fan rests within the box. As they conclude their brief discussion, one of the servants pays the merchant, and then the ivory-skinned noblewoman sweeps grandly out of the store with her entourage following quietly behind.
The noblewoman's face returns to your mind. Her pale hair is unbound, now, and it courses over her shoulders like a cloak, concealing the collar of her dark green nightrobe. She knocks gently on an ebony door and calls out quietly to the occupant. In the next moment, the door is opened by a young elven girl with hair of the same pale hue. The noblewoman enters her daughter's room, bearing the fan case in her hand, and presents the girl with the fan as a gift. The girl's eyes light up as she opens the fan, closes it again, and runs her fingertips over the beautiful brocade.
"You are old enough now to help Mama," the woman says softly. "Listen to me now, and I will teach you the first signals."
The woman takes the fan, closes it, and tilts her head slightly to the right as she rests her cheek against the haon slats. "This is the sign for 'ally'," she says. "Now, you do the same..."
In the vision, the noblewoman's daughter wanders through a magnificent chandelier-lit hall, exchanging greetings, smiles, and curtsies with elves ranging in age from youth matching her own to many years her senior. Despite her elegance and mastery of the social graces, she glances away every now and then to watch her mother's progress through the crowd.
When the daughter catches the noblewoman's eye, the girl closes her fan, rests her left cheek upon it, and runs her thumb lightly along the haon slats as she gazes at an adolescent elven man. Although her lips do not move, you hear a soft whisper of, "Is he an ally?"
The noblewoman is already turning away to beam a greeting at a new companion, but, as she does so, she closes her own fan, lowers it to her side, and shifts her grip to grasp it by the wrong end. You hear a soft whisper of, "He is a foe, one to be harmed."
The shifting crowd eventually brings the daughter face to face with the singled-out young man, and she exchanges a few words with him as she flashes a bright smile and takes his arm. The girl guides the boy off to a more secluded corner of the ballroom, and then, when no one is looking, she abruptly screams and slaps him hard across the face.
With the shock of the scream, the vision shatters from your mind.
As the vision reforms, you see a circle of elven nobles gathered around the pair of youths. Both young people are gesticulating wildly as they speak. The girl's face is streaked with tears, while the beet red imprint of a handprint stains the boy's cheek. The noblewoman is scolding her daughter in no uncertain terms, while a copper-haired man with a strong resemblance to the boy looks on in approval.
Suddenly, the noblewoman turns to the boy, and she demands, "Open your purse. Show my fool daughter that you've no blade hidden there." The young man's face pales to ash, but he has no chance to respond -- the noblewoman seizes his belt pouch, snapping a silk tie in her apparent fury, and upends its contents onto her palm. Among the silver coins, an exquisite sapphire bracelet tumbles into her hand. The crowd falls dead silent at the sight of it.
The noblewoman slowly turns to another woman in the crowd, presenting her simultaneously with the bracelet and a deep curtsy. The young man's father is almost as pale as his son as he begins to babble apologies, and the fashion in which the silver-haired woman slowly fastens the bracelet around her wrist does not bode well for father or son.
As the tide of opinion turns and the center of the crowd changes, the noblewoman drags her daughter away by the arm. Her face is tight with anger, but she brushes the end of her closed fan across her lips in a seemingly casual gesture before opening the fan to hide her face with a quick flick of the wrist. You hear a soft whisper of, "I have a question for you -- be careful." As the woman lowers the open fan slightly, runs a fingertip up the side of one slat, and briefly touches the fan to her lips, you hear another soft whisper: "You have done well. I love you!"
The girl keeps her head down in a properly humiliated posture, but she slides her golden fan open and touches the edge of the silk to her own lips in reply as her mother guides her briskly around a corner.
The vibrations of the fan draw one last vision to your mind: much aged, the elven noblewoman lies upon a great stone bier, with her eyes closed and her face relaxed in death. Most of the mourners are dressed in pure white or pure black, but the daughter, now grown, is garbed in heavy gold damask with an ebon-hued veil to hide her face.
As the daughter approaches the bier, shoulders slumped with grief, she pulls back her veil, but not before she raises and opens her fan to hide her tear-streaked face. She gazes at the corpse for a long moment before reaching out and removing the silver ribbon from the hair of her dead mother. As the pale tresses tumble over the corpse's shoulders, the daughter knots the ribbon through the faenor clip on her fan so that both ends trail free. The edge of the silk fan touches the living woman's lips before she tilts the fan diagonally, closes and lowers it, and conceals her face once more behind the long ebon-hued veil.
You hear a soft whisper as the daughter turns to go: "I love you. Goodbye."
The finely brocaded silk shivers softly with the echoes of your voice, but no images come to you.