She gazed around her room and took in the details of it. There wasn't much to see there. It was a small room with only a bed, small bedside table, and a small bureau with a large mirror on it and a tall , cushioned stool in front of it.Off to one side was an even smaller room with a bath and toilet.
Tizzy shuffled around in her hair and began to complain again..
"Why is my Lady's hair always so hard to leave? Oh let me go!Tizzy is coming out now. No, No, Tizzy has no time for hugs now," as the hair wrapped itself around her waist. "Let go of Tizzy's..."
Tizzy shot out of her Lady's hair and flew, completely out of control, up to the ceiling. This time she hit it with a resounding twumping sound. She squeaked with shock and pain; maybe a little anger too, then fluttered down to sit on the palm of her Lady's outstretched hand.
"Are you all right, Tizzy?"
"Tizzy is fine, my Lady. Tizzy is just bruised in the pride. Maybe Tizzy's backside is bruised a bit too."
"Well you should be more patient. You would be less flustered that way. Be calm once in a while, my busy friend. It is good for your soul.
"Tizzy's soul is fine. But my Lady seems sad. Will my Lady talk about it while Tizzy smoothes Living Hair?"
With that she sat on the stool and was still for a time while the little wind sprite began to smooth and untangle her silky, white hair with her tiny little fingers; a tricky thing to do since the Living hair never stopped moving, ever.
After about five minutes however, she looked calmly at the mirror, seeing for the first time in many years the reflection of her own image. She gazed at the reflection for a time: The large elvin-shaped eyes of deep sapphire blue, her slender white eyebrows that followed the lines of her eyes and the long white lashes that fringed them. She looked at the pale pink lips that looked bright against her pale,iridescent skin. She looked at her slender hand and fingers as she reached to touch her own cheek; sliding a long fingernail along the fine cheekbone. She reached farther up and touched a bit of hair that was just moving itself to settle on her cheek, cutting across the corner of her eye. She let her eyes travel to the collar of her sapphire blue dress. It was a high collar, framing her neck where it was joined by her head, fitting securely against her skin.
The sleeve of the dress had a narrow band sewn to it so that it would remain at her wrist even if she raised her arms. It was long and wide, wing-like in its cut, its folds falling the full length of her dress. There was magic in them.
She looked at the rest of the sapphire dress, as much as could be seen from a sitting position an a tall stool anyway. It was cut to fit, accenting rather that exaggerating the fullness of her body. the rest of it flowed quite freely to the floor.
When she stood the front of her dress skirt stopped only an inch from the floor, showing only the delicate looking sapphire shoes she wore. The train of her dress was exactly twelve inches longer than the front, leaving it to drag behind her as she walked and lending a graceful appearance to her movements.
She placed a hand on her flat stomach and held it there for a moment. She tipped her head slightly and dislodged a single tear from her eye. This startled her because she hadn't even realized that she had tears. She reached up and touched it, looking at it with mild interest. Then she gave a sad sigh and grimaced slightly at the mirror. It was almost as though the mirror had offended her and she waved a hand gracefully at it and it suddenly became instead a picture of a bird that was indigenous to her moon. In this world it would have vaguely resembled a pure white peacock crossed with a pale pink phoenix. It was a beautiful creature by any standard.
She didn't know why she had bothered to look at the wretched mirror: She never like what she saw there. That was why it had been so long since she had seen her reflection. She supposed she had looked simply because it was there. She would turn off the magic when she no longer needed the room and give the mirror back but for now it was a lovely decoration.
She turned and looked at the window, "Tizzy I would like to sit by the window if you wouldn't mind moving."
"Not at all, my Lady. Is the moon bright and full tonight?"
After moving the stool to the window and opening the curtain the Lady gazed out at the moon as she sat back down.
"The moon is full and bright tonight, Tizzy. Just the way we like it. It seems so much bigger and brighter from here than it does from our own moon, doesn't it?"
Tizzy fluttered to the window and looked at the moon for a moment, "Ooooh!It is big! Yes it is! It will not fall on world will it?"
"Of course not Tizzy! It is exactly where the creator of all things meant it to be. It only looks bigger and brighter because we are closer to it now."
"Oh, that is good thing." With that Tizzy went back to smoothing the Living hair while the Lady continued to gaze out the window at the moon the stars and to watch the trees moving in the breeze.
For the better part of an hour she sat there; never moving, not even to blink. It was as though she were a statue made to look alive. Finally Tizzy declared the hair as smoothed as it was ever going to be and she went in, ready to settle in for the night.The Lady stayed a while longer before rising to her feet and going out the door.
"My Lady? We are we going? It is late. You should sleep."
The Lady gave no answer as she left the Inn. She wandered slowly into the Inn's back yard and saw that it was a good size and private. She assumed it was open to the guests at the Inn and moved to the center of it. She then turned her face up towards the moon and spoke to it in her small, crystalline voice.
"Good Moon, you are so bright here in this world. Your voice must be so clear here. I am tired. I am tired to my very soul and yet I cannot sleep. Good Moon I know you would tell me if you knew where Aelora is, or if she is even well.How can I sleep not knowing of her condition? Sing to me, this nameless child, a lullaby to comfort me and help me sleep."
The wind seemed to stop playing with the trees for the briefest of moments,leaving the only movement in the yard that of her hair glowing and inundating in the moonlight. Then, as though the heavens opened up and sent tears of their own down to her, the wind returned as a gentle breeze, carrying with it a shower of glittering moonlight that seemed to glitter and sparkle around her and the moon seemed to glow more brightly. She raised her hands to the heavens and smiled at the moon, turning slowly around twice.
"Thank you, Good Moon!"
The sapphire clad woman began to dance. Her movements were graceful and at first slow, picking up speed as the moon flakes moved faster. Her Living hair fairly flew about her, as though it too danced to the music she heard in the moonbeam and the glittering flakes. Even Tizzy came out, without complaining, and joined in the dance.
Completely unaware of time and the world around her she danced on until the moon began to reach the lower part of the night sky. Then the moon told her that it was time for her to leave the sky and allow the sun to begin his ascent. With that Tizzy flew back into her Lady's hair the they returned to the room, leaving the curtain open. She fell quickly and easily into sleep with the moon shining on her through the window.
Morning would take care of its own needs.
"Damn." Muttered the Major as he placed his hands on his head. "Damn it to Hell and gone."
The room was black, still, and chilly. Ashbury lay on his back, almost rigid to the point of it being comical. What was he doing? He had a month's furlough, so he needn't worry about being branded a deserter from the Army, but ... running off on some wild goose chase with what was at best a mixed bag in terms of soldiery? As he always did when with a group preparing for something, the Major mentally calculated their ability to offer resistance, should it be necessary.
The women of the group were already crossed out in the list in Cooper's mind. He had never heard of a woman bearing arms, and the idea was as foreign to him as horses riding people. Beldon ... well, Beldon. He seemed like a nice enough lad, and surely he would be a brave one as well if the necessity presented itself ... but, how good was he with that quarter staff? Seth looked to be a solid man, and then there was Cali ... Still wary of the gargoyle, Ashbury still viewed him as a liability instead of an asset. Of course, thought the Major with some reluctance, he may prove useful.
In a way, the Major felt himself curiously drawn to the Lady who had called them together ...she certainly was lovely ...in an unorthodox sort of way. Mentally chastising himself for thoughts that could hardly be deemed professional, Ashbury gave another small groan as sleep refused to come.
Cursing quietly to himself, the Major sprang out of bed and began to pace anxiously around the room, the mind of a commander still working feverishly. He silently prayed that Tizzy, the curious little creature, had decided on a favorable impression of him ... perhaps she might convey this to the Lady.
Angry at himself for being unable to perfectly banish the Lady from his thoughts, he set to shining his riding boots. Those, at least, soon took on a gleamed, polished look. Imperfect things vexed the Major.
Something in the window caught his eye, and the Major quietly stalked over to open the curtains. There, in the yard, was the Lady, doing what looked like praying.
Tact overwhelmed curiosity and the Major crawled back into the bed.
Seth awoke and could not go back to sleep. After everything that was said around the table, he found that these things were still stirring around in his mind. The Dragon had left, after thanking The Lady, and offered to return if needed. He had heard stories about those creatures. Some told of them being man eaters and cruel. While others said that they were brave and wise. Seth held on to the later.
"Not all is as it seems in this world. There can be good as well as evil. This I must remember."
Sitting up, he looked among the stars and took note to the positions of the brighter stars. Finding the north star he knew about where he was. "I must have walked over half of this world and I have not seen everything yet." He heard a noise. Getting up, and almost falling off the roof, he looked around. Not seeing anyone he slid down to the edge of the roof. He heard Tizzy's voice complaining about M`lady hair once again. Shaking his head , he climbed back up to the top of the roof and laid back down. He started listening to the wind . The wind was carrying the sounds of the city and it made it hard for him to get back to sleep.
With a deep sigh he pulled himself back up and sat there looking at the moon and the stars. Taking a deep breath he made his wish. 'Star light, star so bright ... Please send this to my family this night. Tell them that I am well and that I miss everyone so much. Tell them that I have found friends. They too feel like family.I have placed them in my heart as I did with you. Tell them that, star light, so they will not worry about me." As if by magic the star grew brighter and Seth could almost see the tip of the star touching the earth. Then it faded back. Seth smiled. He knew his wish would come true.
Seth sat there for a while watching the moon rise and fall .He heard someone in the court yard and looked down. The Lady and Tizzy were there looking up at the same moon. She said something but Seth was to far away to hear her. He watched as the moon's light grew brighter and the wind picked up. He watched as something sparkled in the light and fell to earth. Seth slowly closed his eyes and felt at peace with everything around him. He had not felt like that for such a long time. The only time he felt like that was when he was with the Fye. He felt like he was falling into a deep trance .
Crossing his legs, he started to hum a soft sweet tune that he had heard as a child. The winds carried it away, but he did not care. In his trance state he felt like he was back home. He swayed back and forward to the tune. He sat there humming his song until the moon started to touch the earth and the sun was just peaking over the horizon. Opening his eyes he looked back down into the yard and noticed that The Lady and Tizzy was gone. Looking to see if anyone else saw him sitting there, he climbed back into his room and looked around. Sera had placed clean towels on his bed along with a note. It read:
"Seth, You were not here so here are clean towels for your Bath.Down the hall to your right you will find a tub full of hot water and soap on the bench. Leave your clothes outside to be picked up and cleaned.It was signed "Sera."
"A hot bath. That's something new". Taking the towels, and lacing them under his arm, he unlocked the door and locked it behind him as he stepped out. Finding the room with the tub was not to hard. Hot steam was flowing under the door and at first he thought the room was on fire, until he touched the steam and felt the dampness of the air.
Reaching for the door he opened it and stepped in. The steam escaped and flowed out into the hall way. Seth was blinded by the steam and was not sure if anyone else was in the room.
"Hello? Is there anyone in here?Hellooo?"
Not hearing an answer he undressed and placed his clothes outside. Locking the door behind him he stepped in the tub and sunk up to his chin in hot water. Finding a wash cloth and soap he began to scrub down. "This feels better than any cold mountain stream ever did." He laughed and it echoed though out the room. Washing his hair he thought, "I wonder what is for breakfast? I'm hungry. But then again I am always hungry," and he ducked under the water to clean the soap from his face and hair. Coming back up he checked his hair for any more soap and went under again. Rising up again he was satisfied that he was now clean. Sniffing the air he noticed the fragrance of roses. "Must be the soap," he thought.
Rising up he stepped out of the tub he found that the cool air gave him goose bumps. Reaching for a towel he dried himself off and wrapped the towel tightly around his waist. Unlocking the door and pulling it open he looked around the hallway to be sure no one was watching him. Looking down he found his clothes all cleaned and pressed. Even his boots were polished.
"I must remember to thank Sera for this. Everything smells so fresh and clean. I wonder what it cost her to do this?" Shrugging his shoulders he dressed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Still damp but the day will be warm and it should dry soon. Now down stairs for breakfast."
Seth found the bar room about the same way he left it. There were a few patrons this early in the morning but that was ok with him.Looking around he noticed that some were still here from the night before.
"They must be sleeping the affects of their drinks off or have nowhere else to go. I bet every room in Montfort is full due in part that they are holding the market here. I am glad that the Lady had set up room for us but I did not use mine. I must remember to tell the Lady that. Some other poor soul might be needing it."
Finding the same table as before he sat down and waited for the rest of the group. Sera came by and asked if he needed anything.
"Well ... I should wait for the others, but a light drink would not hurt. I will take a glass of milk. It's been a long time since I had anything like that. To be honest I do not know why I am asking for it now but it does sound good."
Sera looked at Seth and smiled. "Milk huh? Well that's a first. Let me go see if Hugh has any." She turned and started giggling. She walked up to the bar and drawing Hugh close she whispered in his ear.
"HE WANTS WHAT????", Hugh yelled out, and Seth heard a few of the patrons complain about the noise.
Seth turned and saw Sera doubling over the bar laughing. Hugh shook his head and pointed to the back room then started wiping another glass clean. He looked over at Seth and shook his head. Sera came back and brought Seth a tall cold glass of milk.
"Here you go Seth and thank you."
"Thank me for what? What did I do?" Seth said after taking a drink of milk.
"Oh, nothing." Sara smiled and then bending down she said: "You would look good with a mustache," and she laughed. " When the others come I will get their orders and yours."
Seth smiled and watched her walk away. "I wonder what she meant by me looking good with a mustache?" And he took another drink of milk.
After departing from the Inn, Cali walked out of the range of light spread his wings and took flight. He flew away from the town, so as to attract minimum attention. He circled around aimlessly, wondering about his companions on this quest.
Eventually Cali landed in a moon lit clearing between some trees. He slowly started walking towards one of the trees. The gentle breeze was playing with the leaves, and the gargoyle disappeared between the shadows they were casting all over the ground.
The next step he took, he stepped onto something soft. It was pale white in colour. He looked around and he found he was surrounded by stars in all directions.
He was standing in the palm of his master. "Hello master," Cali replied looking out at the stars.
"You seem to have something on your mind." The hollow voice echoed everywhere, even though there were no walls anywhere in sight.
"I have met a group of adventurers at the Inn like you said."
"The one who brought us all together calls herself The Lady. She is looking for her lost sister."
"She knew about my search for the dreambook, even though I have not told her so."
"The Lady has some insight into the universe that most mortals will never posses."
"Amarantha is also there."
"Yes." His voice got a little more serious, if that was even possible with his emotionless tone. "She is the child of one of your brothers: War. I remember her from the last time she visited the P'lace."
"She is on a mission of her own. Although her mission does not involve searching for any item, she is searching for something she already possesses: her self."
"I think she strongly identifies with her aunt, Death. Does this mean that someone is going to die?"
"Is it going to be my fault?"
"I can neither foretell nor control the future. That is not my domain, but I do know that the possibility is always there every moment."
At that point the giant white hand tipped, and Cali slid off. He was falling for only a brief moment, or perhaps several hours, still in thought. At last he spread his wings, and came to a gentle landing in the back yard of the Dragon's Inn. The sun was already rising. As Cali walked by a tree, he reached into the shadows and pulled out a simple cloak. He put it on, and walked into the main room at the Inn.He looked like a big tall hunchback, which was certainly less imposing than a gargoyle. Seth was already sitting at a table, the same table as where they all met last night.
"Good morning, Seth. Nice mustache."
Seth turned and saw Cali standing behind him, covered with a simple cloak.
"Morning Cali. Sit , and enjoy the morning."
Wondering what he meant about a mustache, he raised his hand and touched his upper lip. Finding it wet, he pulled his hand away and saw that it was milk. Laughing, he wiped his upper lip clean and shook his head. Under his breath, he said " Wait until I see Sera again. She's going to get it" and he laughed once again.
Beldon was thankful for the meal and room, and expressed as much to the Lady before leaving the table for bed. The youth first went over to Hugh the tavern owner and politely requested his leather traveling pack (which he had left in his care while he talked with the others). He went up the stairs, slightly stumbling only once, and found his room.
Once in his room, he happily gazed at the furnishings. They were quite modest, but lavish compared to what Beldon was used to. He had traveled around the countryside for two years now, and his canvas tent was his usual abode. He pushed all thoughts of his past out of his head suddenly, however, and was content at being where he was at the moment.
He relaxed in the awaiting bath luxuriously. He usually bathed in lakes and rivers. He hadn't had a real bath since... Angrily, he wiped thoughts of his past away once more. For some reason, tonight they haunted him.
Beldon composed himself and forced the thoughts INTO his head.He would bravely face the haunting. The visions came forth,materializing out of the steam from the bath. He would try to piece together what had happened so long ago.
He remembered being young and remembered his father and mother, very kind and caring, playing with him. He envisioned another scene; he helped his older sister carry water from the well. The scenes floated strangely in his head, and were very misty. The farther forward his thoughts meandered, the cloudier his memories became, until...
Something had happened, and he didn't know what it was. He didn't know where he was from, or where his parents and sisters were. He just knew that he was placed some great distance from where he belonged, and that something or someone malignant had done it to him.If he only knew WHY, he might be able to piece together where he was from.
He had traveled for years, always running from place to place,inquiring after his parents, inquiring after anything that he could remember before the "rift." But he always found nothing. So he spent the years trying to fill the void of his childhood with other knowledge. He learned to blacksmith, lay brick, farm, and do several other trades. And still he wandered from place to place, looking for some clue of his past.
Having faced the visions down, he settled warmly into his bath. He was who he was. He was Beldon, that much was certain. And he found new traveling companions that would surely make this an exciting journey.
He got out of his bath and slept soundly, contentedly. He made his way downstairs in the morning and found the gargoyle and the man named Seth sitting for breakfast. He joined them and asked: "Good morning!Did you sleep well?"
"Morning Beldon. Sleep? Nay, I did not catch a wink. The bed was to soft. I guess I am use to having rocks and sticks poking me in the back. I was up on the roof of the Inn, catching a little fresh air." He thought about saying something about The Lady being out in the court yard but decided to be discreet . " No. It was not for me to say" He thought.
"Should we wait for the others to join us, or should we go ahead and order breakfast ?" Seth's Stomach growled , as if it had a mind of it's own to vote. Seth Blushed. " Excuse me!!".........