The Montclaire Twins/A Secret Proposal

The Montclaire Twins

Montclaire Estate in Highholm
August 22 - Midday

Exquisite teas and dainty pastries adorned a granite table on the veranda. A gentle breeze brushed through. Dressed in a lemon chiffon sundress, Serenity Montclaire was seated at the table. She wore a cream-colored tea hat as she picked apart a pastry. She shot a glare at her twin sister, Diana, across the table.

Diana snickered. "What is it, Ren?"

"I don't know why you even bother to have tea with me. You look like a disgrace."

Diana looked like an impoverished commoner from The Sprawl. She wore a dirty white blouse along with a ragged black bustle. A grey shawl with dreary patterns was wrapped around her shoulders. She had knitted it herself. Smudges of coal decorated her young face.

"I'm going to The Sprawl today. I must look the part," said Diana.

"Ugh, that place is disgusting. You are so weird."

Diana shrugged as she took a drink of her tea. Serenity rolled her eyes.

"Why are you so obsessed with those peasants?"

"Those 'peasants' are what keep the city burning. They are the life of our land. I just want to be closer to them," Diana answered.

Serenity shook her head and took another sip of tea. Then she burst out laughing. An instant smile shot across Diana's face. They started laughing out loud together.

"Oh my goodness.. it's official.. you are crazy!" cried Serenity, overcome with giggles.

"Yeah, that's probably true!" Diana exclaimed.

Amidst the uncontrollable laughter, their father, Benjamin Montclaire, joined them on the veranda. He was formally dressed and carried a stoic aura with him.

"Father!" shouted the twins.

Benjamin smiled at his daughters. He embraced both of them.

"Girls, how is the tea today?"

"It's so good, father," replied Serenity.

"Yeah, absolutely delightful," answered Diana with a dash of sarcasm.

"Glad to hear it. So, I will be going away for a few days. The butler and servants will be here to help you. Also, my personal guardians will be here to protect you."

"Great," chimed the twins.

"And Diana, I hope you're not planning on visiting The Sprawl again... You know where I stand on this."

"But Fath-"

"No, no. The Sprawl is no place for a daughter of mine. It is filled with terrible things. I will not let you go there again. Once was enough," he interrupted.

"Haha, you have to stay here with me," Ren chirped.

"No, that's just not fair. You can't stop me. I'm going regardless!" screamed Diana as she stood up and pushed her chair aside.

Benjamin gave her a very stern look. She sheepishly backed away.

"I have already informed my guard not to let you wander out of Highholm. Do not get any ideas, Diana. If you leave the estate, they will be accompanying you to make certain you do not leave Highholm."

Diana slumped back down into her chair. Disappointment washed over her face.

"Dressing up like a Sprawler is one thing, but you need not live like one. That is final," stated Benjamin.

"I'm on your side, father," smirked Serenity.

"Oh, Ren, put a cork in it," Diana muttered.

"Girls, behave. I will be back in a few days. Please take care of yourselves. You know I love you."

He stooped down to hug and kiss his daughters. Then he made his exit.

"We could go out back to the labyrinth and pretend we're in The Sprawl. I can get the servants to play along," Ren offered.

"Ren! What did I say? Enough already."

Diana jumped up and walked away, groaning at her sister in the process. Ren appeared confused.

"What? What is it? What did I say?" questioned Serenity.

A Secret Proposal

The Hall of Order in Paramount Hill
August 22 - Evening

Benjamin stepped out of his carriage. He peered at The Hall of Order, taking in its ominous splendor. He handed a carefully wrapped parchment to one of his guards. He nodded and the guard walked briskly up the stairs into The Hall of Order.

The guard entered the hall and found Edward Hanton after a bit of searching the corridors. He handed the wrapped parchment to Edward and took his leave. Edward saw the Montclaire seal on the impromptu gift and quickly unwrapped it. His eyes became wide as he studied the document.

To Sir Edward Hanton, High Inquisitor of the People Council

Dear Edward,

I have a sincere proposal for you. I am searching for a man of your expertise to hold a position in a private organization. This position is of the utmost importance. It would be required of you to work in tandem with my son, Tate Montclaire. Your impeccable leadership and counseling skills are needed to not only provide balance and maturity to my son, but also to the organization. I truly believe that you can help lead us into a new age.

At this time, I cannot reveal more information about the organization. You would be well compensated for your time. Name your price and I will match it. It is imperative that you keep this offer between us.

Please take the time to think about this opportunity. If you wish to discuss this further, a private meeting will be scheduled at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Benjamin Montclaire

P.S. Burn this parchment.

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