• Snowflakes settled peacefully on the windowsill as a rendition of Elena's Elegy struck up in rapid harmony, the voice high-pitched and uncouth. Sharp and shrill, it didn't manage to stay in the small parlour that was part of what was now called Forster Manor. The architecture of the manor resembled that of the last century, which was perhaps why Karena Forster was currently tossing from side to side under her bedcovers, trying to shelter her ears from being abused by exposure to noise - or, as it was in her very own words.

    Karena finally gave up and tossed her bedcovers to one side, sitting up clumsily. She was barely a teenager - twelve, thirteen, perhaps - but she was already considered to be a very beautiful young lady, not unlike her own mother. With wavy dark brown tresses, sharp green eyes and delicate features, she was already turning out to be different from what everyone expected. She hid a yawn behind a hand before standing up, her bearing relaxed and careless, as if she couldn't even worry about what other people thought of her. However, she could think of some people she didn't want to be around at all whatsoever, and one of them was the young woman singing downstairs - her seventeen-year-old sister, Dahlia.

    "Hear me out in waters deep, in skies so high you can't believe!"

    Karena felt like tearing her ears out so she didn't have to listen anymore, but settled for reaching for her comb and using it to brush out the tangles in her hair. She winced as she pulled at a particular tangle that simply refused to unravel without a fight - how she hated these things, sometimes! What she couldn't understand was how all those noblewomen she'd seen so far managed to have such smooth and well-managed hair. Well, then again, they had maidservants and what-not to help them manage, she supposed.

    "Winter brewn and summer torn, wash away the cold, cold, warmth,
    Hush, hush child, let me tell, the story of a land so well
    Come and listen to the muse, a world of wonder and a truce - "

    "What a lame song." Karena commented as she appeared at the top of the stairs, interrupting her sisters shrill crooning. Dahlia stared up at her irritably, which Karena returned with cool insolence. She and Dahlia couldn't have been more different - Dahlia was the more admired, the more popular of the two sisters, while Karena was withdrawn, insociable and haughty. Their differences went as far as their appearances - while Karena was a simple, dark-haired youngster who looked more starved than not, Dahlia was a perfect angel with light blonde hair, cyan-blue eyes, and a plump, healthy constitution. It was no wonder their father preferred Dahlia over Karena - she looked, talked and acted the most like him.

    Karena disliked her with a passion.

    "What would you know?" Dahlia answered Karena's comment after some moments, ending the staring match by looking at the decorated tree standing in the midst of the parlour. Kind of pretty...maybe, thought Karena lazily as she stared at the gaudy decor of the parlour before flicking her fingers against the stair banister. She hopped down the last few steps - much to Dahlia's horror ( "That's not ladylike!" ) - before picking up a stray leaf that had apparently fallen from the tree - probably while Dahlia was decorating. She hadn't seen it last night when the tree was brought in, certainly.

    "I do have an ear, Dahlia. Two of them, as a matter of fact. I'm not sure you use them quite well." Karena replied carelessly, twirling the leaf absentmindedly around her fingers as Dahlia reddened and opened her mouth to reply. Before the 'conversation' could actually heat up the chilly atmosphere any furthur, the door creaked open rather noisily, and in the harsh white light reflecting off the seasonal snow stood the revered General Alexander Forster, equipped in full winter gear and a newspaper under his right arm. He closed the door behind him and took off the fur cap he was wearing before looking towards the two girls who were currently standing face-to-face. He raised an eyebrow as Karena immediately gave a slight cough and stepped back from her sister.

    "Everything alright, girls?"

    "Oh yes, father." Karena replied easily, her eyes still fixed on the ribbons adorning the tree. "Perfectly alright."

    Dahlia looked indignant. "But, papa, she - !"

    "Now, now Dahlia." Karena mocked before she threw the leaf at her sister. It caught in Dahlia's hair. "No use getting into a fight now."