By Jaap-Peter Hazelhoff
Chapter 40 - Family Affairs
Berdusk, 1371 DR, Eleint, 10th day, early in the morning
Ditalidas is sitting in a large field full of flowers. The sky is clear blue and it’s clearly daytime, but there’s no sun to be seen. The grass is knee high and in it are flowers of all sorts and colors. In the distance is a figure slowly approaching. It’s a woman, dressed in white, her black hair floating on the wind. Her head faces at the sky as if she likes to feel the not existing drops of rain that fall from the clear bleu sky on her face. Her arms are spread wide while she slowly turns around. She seems to be glowing with an inner light as if she were an angel.
When the woman is near Ditalidas the beautiful woman suddenly looks her straight in the eyes. Ditalidas heart jumps up in joy as she recognizes her mother Tiahna. A glimpse of recognition flashes trough Tiahna’s eyes before her smile disappears and a worried sadness fades away the happiness that made her face shine before. Ditalidas feels how her smile disappears as she sees how the inner glow faints and all that’s left is dull gray. Behind Tiahna dark clouds roll over each other and move closer at a threatening speed. Ditalidas stretches out her arms to her mother, longing for her warmth, comfort and peace. Tiahna looks over her shoulder to the fast approaching darkness. When she looks at her daughter again the sadness in her eyes intensifies and tears roll down her cheek. Sadly she shakes her head and steps a step away from her daughter. Dread creeps down Ditalidas spine and despair rouses trough her heart. She tries to get up from her sitting position, wanting to run towards her mother, but somehow she isn’t able to. Her mother takes another few paces back and Ditalidas starts shouting to her: “No! No, mother please! Please help me! I need you!“ Tiahna stops moving and regards her daughter intensively for a long moment. Then she steps forward, her arms reaching out to her daughter, her lips move to form words, but no sound is coming forward.
The clouds behind Tiahna seem to approach even faster while lightning flashes down from them to torture the world beneath. Ditalidas desperately crawls forward to reach for her mother while the wind tears on her clothes and blows her back to the spot she came from. She is able to read her mother’s lips though: “I love you… my daughter.“ Ditalidas starts crying, tears pouring down her face. “I love you too mother.“ She answers silently. Just as a warms smile spreads over Tiahna’s face the clouds reach her. As they cloud around her she changes before Ditalidas’ eyes into the undead woman she saw the day before. Ditalidas start shouting in despair, denying what is happening before her very eyes: “NO! NOOO!“ She tries to struggle towards her mother again, but she’s not able to fight the wind that pulls on her hair and blows the tears from her face. Then the full force of the clouds crashes over Ditalidas too and she descends in darkness.
She feels like floating into nothingness. Flashes of light interrupt the darkness. Slowly the flashes take longer and longer to disappear until she sits in whiteness. Slowly the whiteness takes form. It is as if she is floating above the ground. Below her she see Leewan in the heat of a battle. All around him there seems to be fighting. She sees elves, humans and dwarves fight off terrible monsters that seem to rise from a gap in the earth. It’s at nightfall and the falling sun colors the black-clouded sky with fury red. From the gap rises smoke that escapes into the air in forms of lost spirits. From her high position Ditalidas sees how a monster approaches her brother from behind while he is focused on the enemy in front of him.
“Leewan watch out! Behind you!“ She shouts at him, but no sound comes forth. Tears almost blind her vision as she sees how the monster behind Leewan raises his short sword, how it slowly, very slowly descends from his height into her beloved brothers back. Startled Leewan opens his mouth in a soundless cry. As he crumbles to the floor his dying eyes seem to meet hers. For a split second she sees there his love for her, but than it’s gone. All that’s left of him is his dead body at a with bodies covered battlefield
Light and whiteness return and the vision disappears. Ditalidas cries desperately and for a while she has no attention for her surrounding. When she wipes her tears from her eyes and opens her eyes again she’s sitting in that same field of flowers she sat before. Quickly Ditalidas gets up her feet and looks around. “Mother?! Mother!“ But her mother is nowhere to be found. Ditalidas wanders trough the field for a while and all seems peaceful. At first she notices nothing but then she realizes that the sky isn’t blue anymore, but gray, and that the grass isn’t green anymore, but dull dark gray. Slowly all color disappears from the world and everything turns gray, black and white. The flowers around her drop their little heads and die, crumbling into dry gray lifeless grass. Ditalidas turns around looking for a way to escape this grayness. But all around her she sees only grayness and the endless field stretching out towards the horizon.
With a rumbling sound the ground starts to shake. Distracted by the sound Ditalidas takes a few steps back and looks at the ground, feeling terror filling her heart. With a strange plopping sound a skeletal hand reaches from the dirt to the sky. Startled Ditalidas jumps aside. But quickly more hands appear and slowly undead start to crawl out of their graves. With a cry of disgust Ditalidas tries to turn away and run, but one of the skeletal hands got hold of her leg and she trips to the ground. She crashes to the ground with a sick-making sound of crushing bone below her. With her nose in the dead grass she smells the scent of decay and rot.
Slowly bony finger crawl all over her and tear her apart. Bit for bit, piece for peace bony fingers rip out her flesh and crush her bones. A long frightened scream escapes her and lasts until a claw rips open her throat. After that it is only her heart that screams, but soon even that is torn apart. When there is not much more left of her than shattered little pieces, the whiteness returns.
The whiteness is peaceful. It cradled her to sleep. It sweeps her away to long forgotten memories. – Her stepmother stood in the door. Her green eyes flashed with anger. Her voice rolled like thunder trough the room where Ditalidas held a protective arm around Nathan and Kailani, her stepbrother and sister. Kailani hided behind Ditalidas’ dress, peering over the piece of clothing with which she had covered her face. Nathan buried his with tears covered face against her stomach, not daring to look in his mother’s eyes.
“Ditalidas…“ Riqua made her name sound like a curse. That was always the case when Riqua called her stepdaughter by her name. “Hand the brads over to me.“ Slowly Ditalidas shakes her head. “No.“ The children see how the color disappears from Riqua’s face and how she squeezes her hands into white balls of fury. Threatening she takes a few steps into the room. “Stay away Riqua.“ Ditalidas threatens, pulling the children behind her. “I won’t let you touch them.“
“Oh our little house thief protects her little fellow thieves.“ Riqua’s voice drools from sarcasm. Ditalidas’ eyes flash with anger. “I’m no thieve as you very well know and neither are the kids. If you want to sell daddy’s things behind his back, fine, but don’t blame it on us!“ Riqua stepped another pace closer. “You call me a thieve! You little bitch!“ Before Ditalidas saw it coming Riqua slapped her right in the face. Ditalidas’ head shot sideways. Her hair covered her face falling down when she looked at the ground. Slowly she reached with her hand to her cheek. She raised her head to look at Riqua who stood there, a little amused smile around her beautiful blood red lips. Feeling something wet Ditalidas looked at her hand at red drops of blood. Again she looked up at Riqua. “Why you… you…“
“Don’t tell me you’re going tell daddy.“ Riqua mused. “It’s not as if he’s going to believe that his sweet wife is capable of doing something as terrible as hitting you.“ Ditalidas narrowed her eyes as she looked at Riqua. Till thus far the scene was almost familiar as if she had lived it a hundred times, but now something didn’t seem right. It was something about her last words that wasn’t right… She shook her head lightly, not able to put the finger on the wrongness. “Now hand over the brats so I can punish them properly as little thieves deserve.“
“No.“ Ditalidas replies resolutely. “You can have them over my dead body.“ A sly smile crossed Riqua’s face. “As you whish my dear.“ She whispered. She reached for a medallion she wore around her neck. With a thug she pulled it loose and in one movement she threw it Ditalidas in her face. The medallion broke and a green powder fell down on her. Ditalidas raised her arms to protect her eyes, but the dust reached her longs and started choking her. And while fighting desperately for breath the feeling that something’s wrong grows inside her. As her feet collapse below her the whiteness returns.
This time there is no peace in the whiteness. Desperately she struggles to wake up. For a moment she is very aware of being trapped in a web of dreams. But instead of waking up a new dream seems to begin. Through the whiteness images start to form. It seems not to matter how hard she tries to avoid another dream, she’s dragged into another anyway.
Ditalidas is riding Alana while Vidya is walking in front of her. Suddenly Vidya starts barking and growling. Ditalidas descends from Alana and walks towards Vidya to see what is amiss. Just within the tree line of the forest she sees some figures approaching. Behind her she hears Alana whining and running off.
With surprise Ditalidas looks from the growling dog to the familiar faces of the people gathered. The faces are the faces of the people she started to know recently. The veiled Immerine is standing next to Telsom. Next to Telsom is Matteo and in front of him stands Marc. Grim is there… and Portia and Druth. Even Calathra, Nik and Emlyn are there. Ditalidas looks at the still growling Vidya. “Stop that Vidya! They are friends.“ But there’s something strange… They are not moving… it is if they are perfect statues.
There’s a sound behind her. Startled she turns around. There stands her family. Her father is standing beside Leewan… Leewan… Tears pop in her eyes when she sees his face. She takes a step towards them but notices their dead-frozen faces. In front of them stand Kailani and Nathan… as much statue as the rest of them. Then another sound can be heard. She turns to watch the road in the direction she was going. A figure in a black hooded cape approaches her slowly and is dragging something with him. As he is close enough for Ditalidas to see what he’s dragging along she gives a cry and fumbles a few paces backwards. The figure drops his burden at her feet.
A crackling voice addresses her. “Here, isn’t this what you are searching for?“ With horror Ditalidas looks at the bundle at her feet. Between the rags the face of her mother stares up to her. Ditalidas takes another step backwards and looks up at the black robed figure.
A crackling laughing sound emerges from the stranger. “Let me do some explaining. The way I delivered your mother will be the way I deliver the rest of them.“ With his arm he gestures to the statues around them. Ditalidas gaze drops from the statues of her friends to the face of her mother staring up to her from the ground and after that to her friends, all patiently waiting for her to rescue them. The figure starts to laugh again, the sound sending a shiver down her spine. She takes another step back.
“Let them go.“ Her voice is nothing more than a hoarse whisper. His head shakes under the black hood, his face hidden in the shadows. “Oh no little girl, you do not understand. These…“ and he gestures whit his arm again “… are my gifts to you.“
Ditalidas takes another step backwards. Suddenly she realizes that Vidya stopped growling some time ago already. Her head snaps up but she finds Vidya immediately where she saw him last… frozen… Ditalidas shakes her head. “No…“ another step back, “No… I don’t want this gift.“ Again the figure laughs and somehow Ditalidas feels in the depths of her heart she did wrong by saying that. The figure makes a low curtsy for her as if he is her humble servant. “As you wish my lady.“
Ditalidas her eyes snap from the figure to her friends and family to and fro… “Oh no… what have I said…“ She whispers. She sees how the figure raises his hand like in slow motion and points a finger, a bony finger lacking any skin, towards Immerine. Suddenly Ditalidas knows for sure something terrible will happen and her cry falls together with the deafening sound of a statue exploding. “NO!“
Dust is swirling trough the air and bits and peaces fall all around her. At the spot where Immerine stood is only emptiness left. The hand of the black figure moves on and with a loud explosion Matteo disappears. Little pieces of what once was Matteo rain down around her “No! No! Stop it! I want it…“ Her voice ends in a frustrated cry as she looks at the body of her dead mother on the ground. “It’s a trap… it’s a trap…“ She whispers desperately. At the time she looks back up Marc is the only one still standing. Ditalidas drops on her knees. “Please stop this! Please!“ She begs. But the only answer she gets is a laugh and the image of Marc being destroyed.
“What is done, is done.“ The figure says as he moves his attention towards her family. Ditalidas crawls forward in a hurry, Tears pouring down her face. “No, oh no please no, not my family.“ But then her father explodes into pieces and quickly after that Leewan. Ditalidas starts screaming, the sound of her scream increasing when she sees Kailani shatter and after that Nathan.
Suddenly she wakes up, sitting up in her bed quickly. Her scream still lingers in the air of her room. Sweat covers her body and glues the blankets to her skin. “It’s a dream, only a dream, dear gods.“ Sighing deeply, and trying to quiet her pounding heart, Ditalidas lies back down, closing her eyes for a moment to regain focus.
When Ditalidas opens her eyes again, she is momentarily scared. She isn’t where she thought she would be. Sitting up a little to quick causes black spots to start swimming before her eyes, forcing Ditalidas to lie down again for a moment. Rising more slowly the next time, she looks around and finds herself in familiar surroundings, her own room at the Jalarghar Spires. No one seems to be around at the moment, but next to her bed on a small table is a tray with a steaming pot of tea and some bread. A glance out the window tells her it is morning, and the snow she had seen before in the clouds now has fallen and created white rims on the windowpanes.
Ditalidas stares out of her window, looking at the gray clouded sky and the few visible bare branches of the old tree in the backyard. “Snow.“ She whispers, but there’s barely a sound coming forth from her dry lips. She turns and pushes her pillow up against the wall against which the bed is standing. Slowly, trying to prevent more swimming black dots, she sits against her pillow.
From the corner of her eyes she looks at the bread and wrinkles her nose against it. The tea looks appealing though. She pours herself a cup and warms her hands on the hot cup before she takes a sip and looks at the white world again. “Damn snow… I really hope they found something before it started to fall…“ She looks at the sheets of her bed in a thoughtful manner. “I wonder what happened…“ She looks at the door and the idea of getting out of bed makes her shiver. She lowers a bit and pulls the blanket up to her chin and takes another sip of her tea. For a moment she is content with the situation and enjoys the tea and the warmth of her bed.
But slowly bits and pieces come back to her and she starts to worry. What about Marc and Telsom and Matteo? And what happened to Immerine… is the mysterious woman all right? Ditalidas puts her cup aside again and decides to try to get up. She throws back the blankets and shivers for a moment. Then she throws her legs over the side of the bed and stands up. At least… she tries… As soon as she tries to stand, she feels the weakness in her legs and the black spots are returning. With a soft curse she falls back on her bed. She glances at the bread beside her bead and tosses it an angry look. “Don’t stare at me like that… I’m not hungry… I’m not going to eat.“
She sits back against here pillow again, regaining the blankets and covering herself up to her chin. Putting her hands over each other and pouting she stares at the wall… tossing the bread angry glares now and then. But thoughts keep popping up in her mind, thoughts that persuade her to eat from that bread. But her senses tell her that she doesn’t want to eat, that she is not hungry… no worse that she is disgusted by the idea of eating. At last she decides to do a concession. She wants to get out of bed soon… so she will have to eat, but she isn’t hungry so she decides to take half the bread. Slowly she reaches for the bread… for one moment she lingers, but then she takes the bread. She looks at it as if it’s the worst food she ever had. “It’s only bread silly girl… you used to like that!“ She curses for herself. Carefully she takes a small bite and chews it thoughtfully. In no time her stomach starts to rumble. She sighs. “Well that wasn’t so bad was it?“ She asks herself and starts eating the bread. She takes her time eating it, but eats it completely and even enjoys its taste.
Feeling a little better with some food in her belly, Ditalidas seems to decide whether or not to get out of bed. ‘Just a little bit longer in bed, that can’t hurt.’ One side of her mind says. ‘But the others, I need to know.’ The other half counters. While her inner self is debating on getting up, Dita’s eyes detect a little movement at the door to her room. Looking a little closer, the door suddenly opens and a little whirlwind seems to enter. “Dita! Dita! Are you okay? Tell me what happened. And was that a prince on the white horse yesterday?“ Kailani rushes toward the bed and quickly climbs on the bed, sitting across from Ditalidas.
Ditalidas smiles at Kailani. “So many questions for such a little girl.“ She says with a wink. “A prince on a white horse aye? Yes… maybe he is. He certainly looks like one doesn’t he?“ The little girl is followed someone else. With more dignity then Dita’s little stepsister, Vidya walks in the room. He looks at the scene on the bed with his large brown eyes and walks over to the hearth. Slowly stepping in a tight circle three times, Vidya finally seems to have found a place to lie down. He promptly does so, resting his head on his front paws, the dog stares at the bed, lazily blinking his eyes.
Seeing Vidya a deep breath escapes Ditalidas. Somehow the presence of the dog comforts her. Back in the doorway Suha smiles gently. When Ditalidas sees her, she steps forward, “Glad to see you up again. You gave us quite a scare. But that’s for later. Is there anything else I can get you Milady?“ Ditalidas returns the smile. “I’m sorry I scared you. I didn’t intend to.“ Ditalidas looks at her blanket before she returns her gaze at Suha. “Is there a message delivered for me?“ Her eyes are filled with hope. She is longing for answers concerning her newfound friends, but she’s afraid there’s none. Walking over to the night table, Suha picks up a folded note. That handsome young man from yesterday delivered a note for you when he brought you here. “Here you are.“ And she hands over the note. Kailani lies on her belly, her head propped up on her hands. “Dita, a note from your Prince! Wow. What does it say?“
“Hush Miss Kailani.“ Suha gently admonishes the little girl. “Your sister needs some rest. Why don’t you come with me and see if Agey is baking your favorite cookies today.“ Picking up the four year-old from the bed she sets Kailani on her own feet holding her hand. “Yay!“ Kailani exclaims enthusiastically. “Dita, shall I bake you some cookies? They’re very nice.“ Holding her head a little tilted, Kailani looks at Dita.
Ditalidas can’t help but smile at her little sister. “Sure. I would love to taste some of your cookies.“ As Kailani leaves the room with Suha, Ditalidas relaxes in her pillow. Smiling again for herself she realizes that Kailani cheered her up. Then she folds open the paper and reads its contents.
With a sigh Ditalidas lowers the paper until it rests in her lap. For a moment she stares at the wall. ‘So, Telsom and Kalil returned with me… but what about Matteo and Marc?’ she thinks. ‘And Immerine… where did the mysterious lady go? And why did she leave in such a hurry.’ She recalls her memories from the last day and thinks them over for while. Then she shakes her head and looks frustrated at the note. “This tells me nothing!“ She curses frustrated. She feels how her mood is changing in a bad one again. “Rest, she says.“ Ditalidas continuous talking under her breath, referring to Suha. She turns to lie on her side, staring trough the window at the gray sky. With her eyes she follows the raindrops that run slowly down on the other side of the glass of her window. Suddenly she realizes what she’s looking at. She rises herself until she leans on her elbow. “Oh, rain.“
Suddenly she can’t stand it anymore and throws away the blankets. “I don’t want to rest…“ She murmurs as she tosses her feet over the side off her bed. Carefully she sits up. For a moment she shivers as the colder air of her room caresses her skin. Slowly she tries if she can stand, but she almost looses her balance. Quickly she reaches out for the bed behind her to prevent her from toppling over. As she recovers her balance she takes the blanket from the bed and wraps it around her shoulders.
With the blanket closely wrapped around her she walks towards the window and looks trough the glass to the world outside. The roughness off the glass distorts the world, but that doesn’t bother Ditalidas as she looks out over the back garden, the hill and castle behind that. She smiles as she remembers a childhood dream of her. As a little girl she used to stand before this same window and imagine that in the castle was a prince waiting for her. For a moment she dreams away. Remembering cloudless blue skies, green grass, blooming trees and flowers, happy times and childish play. But the view she now has is cold, gray and dreary. She turns from the window and looks at the note she still holds in her hand and sighs again. She walks back to her bed and lays the note upon her pillow, and then she turns and pulls a cord to summon Suha.
A short moment later Suha appears, softly opening the door. Seeing Ditalidas up and about, a flash of worry creases her gentle face before a warm smile replaces it. Clasping her hands together happily, she beams at Ditalidas, “Oh, it so good to see you up and about again.“
While waiting for Suha to arrive Ditalidas kneeled down besides Vidya. When Suha enters, she gives the dog a last stroke over his head and tears her gaze from his friendly eyes. Looking up at Suha with a small smile, Ditalidas stands up carefully, still not very certain if her legs can bare her. The blanket slides down to half her arms before she catches it and pulls is back over her shoulder. A sudden shudder runs trough her body. “I think I’d like a hot bath Suha. I’m feeling a little chilly and want to get refreshed.“
“Of course milady.“ Suha replies, “I will prepare your bath immediately.“ Suha moves toward the hearth and stokes up the fire. Immediately, Ditalidas feels the warmth emanating from the hearth and she walks closer to the open fire, basking in its glow. The maid walks out of the room, to return shortly after with two buckets of water. She pours the contents of the buckets into the large copper cauldron, which she hangs in the hook over the fire. Retrieving the empty buckets, she leaves the room to get more water. When the cauldron is full, Suha proceeds filling the bath with some cold water. Ditalidas watches the process with detached interest as her mind wanders to other things.
Her thoughts wander back to the day before. With a little blush she remembers how badly she was prepared for a fight like that with the troll. If it weren’t for her strange new found powers she would have had hardly anything to defend herself with. A small cynical smile appears on her face as she imagines herself attacking a troll with only her knife in her hands. Her gaze wanders to her bed while her mind wanders to Leewan, to the days of practice she had with him. For a moment she sees how he taught her to hold her quarterstaff, a simple stick at the time, and she saw again how she managed to miss her target every time she tried to hit it. Fortunately she finally managed to learn the trick. What that matters she did far better with the crossbow and the daggers. Tears moisten her eyes as she realizes how much she misses Leewan. His presence had always comforted her and he was always willing to hand her some good advice. Suddenly she is aware of Suha again. She turns her back to the working woman and wipes the tears from her face. ‘No need to worry her more than she does already.’ She thinks. As Suha speaks she turns around, a little startled.
When the water in the cauldron begins to bubble, and clouds of steam vent up in the chimney, Suha dips a bucket in the hot water and bucket by bucket she carries the water to the bath. Finally she walks up to Ditalidas. “Your bath is ready, I will fetch some roses to scent the water.“
“Oh yes, thank you Suha.“ She manages a warm smile. “I would not know what to do without you.“ She drops the blanket and hears how it falls on the floor with a soft thud. She pulls her night gown over her head and drops it besides the blanket. “don’t worry about it Suha, I will pick it up when I’m ready bathing.“
Carefully she tries the temperature of the water with one toe. A sigh escapes her as she feels the warmth. Slowly she descends herself in the water and closes her eyes feeling how the water warms her body. It seems that somehow a cold had settled in her bones. While she waits for Suha to return with the scent, she thinks of the people she recently met. The muscled, handsome Telsom who can make her weak inside with his words, but pushes her away with his actions. The boyish Marc, who stole her hearth with his brown sad looking eyes and his loyalty that he gave her without hesitation. And Matteo, the man with the hard gray eyes who shared his heart with her, if just for only a moment. The veiled woman, Immerine, who wants to belong but on the other hand pushes people away. ‘ Immerine… yes Immerine. I hope she’s alright. I hope Aluar kept her save.’ From Immerine her thoughts wander to Kalil. The stranger from the desert. His greed for knowledge without considering the consequences, but a friendly man. Druth, who saved her from the clutches of the undead. She wondered what he is doing now. It has been a long time since she felt she belonged to a group, but she feels that she belongs with this group. Her thoughts wander to Nik and Emlyn who she only met yesterday and to Portia, the priestess of Kelemvor who seemed a really nice lady. For only a moment she wonders why Portia hadn’t come the morning before, but she dismisses all concern bye thinking that the woman maybe was just late, missed them and had met up with Matteo last night… if, they all returned safely.
As she moves uneasily in the water, not at all happy with the fact that she does not know what happened last night after she passed away, a wave of water almost reaches the rim of the bath. Sitting still again she watches how the water slowly calms down again. She sighs deeply, already fed up with the bath but Suha hasn’t even return yet. Again she moves uneasily. This time the water stays relative calm. Her gaze rests again on the bed. She remembers the chest below it. The chest Leewan made for her. The chest she keeps her quarterstaff, crossbow and daggers in. All gift from Leewan. She sighs again. She never really thought she would have to use them. For a moment she sees how he taught her to hold her quarterstaff, a simple stick at the time, and she saw again how she managed to miss Leewan every time she tried to hit him. Sure, she dreamed that she could, but she never before had the feeling that she needed to defend herself. Most of the time guards accompanied her when she had to travel. The little joyrides she made outside the city were, she now realized, not as safe as she used to believe. A cold shiver runs down her spine, a strange contrast with the warm water. Next time she’ll be better prepared, she promises herself.
The returning of Suha keeps Ditalidas from thinking for a few moments. The half-elven woman pours the rose leaves in the water and a sweet scent starts filling the room. Ditalidas closes her eyes, tries to lay back and enjoy the water and the scent, but now and then she can’t help peeking trough one eye at the bed and the treasure beneath it. “Suha? Would you be so kind to get me my other riding suit?“ Suha’s eyes narrow and a disapproving look crosses her face. “My Lady, you are not going out today are you? You’ve barely recovered!“
“To be honest… I don’t know yet if I’m going out or not, but I want to be prepared for everything and a dress is only in the way when I need to leave in a hurry.“ Silently she wonders why she feels she might need to leave in a hurry. But when she looks in her hearth with honesty she knows that she hopes that her newfound friends come and get her for a new adventure. A small scowl flashes over her face. ‘I only hope I won’t faint again or something like that. I don’t want to make a habit out of being carried back here for nursery.’ She thinks and secretly looks at Suha who reluctantly lays the asked suit on the bed. ‘If that happens too often she’ll never let me out of the house again.’ Again her gaze falls on the bed. Suha turns around and looks at Ditalidas with a small frown. “I really wish you’d stay home today My Lady. It would do you no good to wear yourself down again.“
Ditalidas tosses Suha a small smile hiding the little irritation she feels inside. “I didn’t say I was going out. We’ll see. If I’m going out I’m probably only going to the Stag to visit some people there… there’s no harm in that is there?“ Suha studies Dita’s face intently looking for sincerity in Ditalidas’ expression. Then she shrugs a little and shakes her head, still not approving. “Is there something else I can do for you?“ She asks. Ditalidas shakes her head. “No I don’t think so. I’ll manage from here.“ Suha nods and starts for the door. Halfway she pauses and looks over her shoulder at Ditalidas, but apparently changes her mind and walks out of the room without saying anything, closing the door behind her.
Ditalidas stares at the door for a moment, wondering what Suha has on her sleeve to keep her home. Then Ditalidas shrugs and tries to enjoy the warmth of her bath for another moment. But the stupid bed, or in fact; that what’s laying underneath it keeps distracting her. With a sigh she rises from the water and steps out of the bath. She reaches for the towel and rubs her skin dry until a warm red glow shines from it. Pushing aside the urge to look under the bed, she walks up to the bed and first puts on her clothing. Then she pulls a plain chest from under the bed. Her hearth starts bouncing from excitement. She puts her hand under the bed and feels at the bottom of the bed until she finds what she’s looking for. With a forceful tug she pulls the key from its spot where they had put it when Leewan left. With a smile she remembers how difficult it had been to put the key there. She had taken the key from that spot many times to take care of her weapons.
With slightly trembling fingers she puts the key in the lock and turns it around. With a soft clicking sound the lock opens. She pushes the lid up and looks at the contents of the chest. On top lays a crossbow. She pulls at the string, wondering if it’s still in a good condition. It still looks good and with her attention already back to the other object in the chest she lays the crossbow on the bed. After the crossbow follows the quiver. And after that a couple of daggers. When the chest is empty she pushes it aside and reaches under the bed again. She takes her quarterstaff from its place under the bed. There had been two reasons to put it there at the time. The first was that the staff didn’t fit in the chest and the second that if she ever needed a weapon quickly. It would be easy to reach this way.
The quarterstaff looks like a piece of art. The wood was heated to give the staff it’s strength and because of that the staff gained a deep black color. As a surprise for her birthday Leewan took the staff to an artist to carve geometrical figures in it, that give the staff a mystical and threatening aura.
She lays the staff on the bed next to the crossbow. In comparison with the staff the crossbow looks very plain. The hilts of the daggers though are also adorned (with her family crest) and fit the staff better. Slowly she starts to hide her daggers under her clothes; in every boot one, two on her belt and one with a leather strap in her sleeve. She had practiced this several times with Leewan, but she realizes she’d been sloppy lately and needs to do some practicing in the near future. She leaves the crossbow and the staff on the bed as she turns for the cabinet to brush her hair that’s still wet.
The combined effects of the food and the scented bath have helped Ditalidas to find her strength again. Though somewhere inside her a strange, new, but welcome feeling is burning. It is as if new, fresh blood is coursing through her veins, sending little prickles of total awareness. And indeed, it is as if Ditalidas can somehow ‘taste’ the flames of the fire, or feel the air caress her skin. Looking into a mirror, she sees her eyes briefly flicker with a silvery light. From outside the sounds of a carriage rolling over the cobblestones enters the room. The hooves of the animals and the wheels of the carriage sounding clearly on the wet stones.
She lays the brush back on the cabinet and studies her face in the mirror. A healthy blush colors her face; her hair a waterfall of black wet strings. She narrows her eyes – blue… as they’ve always been – for a moment, but then smiles to her own image. ‘I feel good… very good in fact.’ She thinks silently. She is just turning from the mirror when she hears how downstairs a servant opens the door and asks the visitor something.
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