Deft fingers moved the needle in and out of the fabric bound in the hoop. The glint of the needle catching the light every so often. About Niqi’s neck, a simple chain hung, shimmering and sparkling in the candlelight of the shop. She reached up and removed the scissors from their now immaculate sheath and began to trim away the excess.
“Where did you get those, little one?” Anas asked, genuinely curious. Niqi’s smiled gently, her mind drifting back to an afternoon many years ago.
She stepped carefully through the charred debris of the main house. Her delicate frame shook violently, but she pushed herself to keep going. She wanted something to take with her. Gilræn had insisted they would not return after this. That they had to put it behind them.
Niqi pushed the burned door aside, coughing at the ash that swirled onto the air by the action. She wrapped her pale arms around her ribs, hugging herself tight. A small glint caught her attention and she stopped to see what it could be. Carefully lifting the detritus away, she spotted a silver chain.
Niqi pushed the silver lock of hair from her eyes, and knelt down. Ever so carefully, she lifted the chain with her small fingers. It was heavier than she expected, though not very long. She tugged just a bit more and it came free. An ash covered sheath, small enough that it fit almost entirely in her hand.
She brushed away the dust, swirling roses and intricate vines beginning to appear. She brought it to her lips and blew more of it away. Inlaid gems could be seen at the center of each blossom, their sparkle hidden below the grime.
The entire piece was somewhat triangular in shape, from the pointed bottom, sloping upward to a double loop that formed at the top. Her fingers set on either side of those loops and she gently pulled them upward, revealing a tiny pair of embroidery scissors. Her eyes filled with tears as she turned back to her cousin who stood watch behind her. “These. I’ll keep these.” Gilræn nodded and motioned for her to lead the way out.
Finishing the work on the neckline of the gown, Niqi examined her work carefully. Her Uncle Jaetos would be proud. He had taught her this very technique, though he’d sworn her to secrecy. The amber blossoms flowed and twined on the soft green mageweave, creating a spotlight of interest that came down onto the bodice, joining with the pinks and reds the client had requested. The piece had become almost a garden for the young woman to wear.
“They belonged to my uncle. The one who made it possible for me to work by your side.” She smiled up at him with only the barest hint of sadness behind her eyes. “He taught me everything I knew before I came here.”