The two nodded in ascent and the three of them excused themselves, moving quickly to the Lady's room. Angel was fascinated with the picture of the bird where a mirror had once been. She animatedly told the Lady of a picture on a wall in a cave near where the Shar'kra'tar lived.
"It was a picture painted by my ancient ancestor; She claimed to be of another world. It is a picture of an angel very similar to me, only she is much taller and more slender. Her hair has more of an eerie glow to it than mine too. In this picture is also a bird that looks exactly like that one! It is said she was the only survivor of her race and that she barely escaped with her life. Some evil queen was deliberately and systematically destroying them all... Just to weaken her enemies. It was said her enemies were her own kind. There is also a picture of a woman with the wildest hair! According to our legends this woman's hair was alive! Could she have been one of your people? Was there some big war on your world or something? They say that she carried within her body a living male child. Some say that it was all a myth, a story told to children to make them sleep."
The Lady looked at Angel for a long time before responding in any way. She turned and looked at the bird again then back at the angel. Then a soft, sad smile touched her pale pink lips.
"Perhaps it is so. Indeed there was such a war on my world. It resulted in the total annihilation of the Messenger race. We never dreamed that even one had escaped. There are certain magic's in place to prevent anyone from ever leaving our moon, save to travel to the dead planet below for ceremonies and back again. The kind of magic required to move beyond is held only by the descendants of the Staff. I still can't understand how it is that my sister was removed to this place, let alone the two others with her. Her magic surely didn't bring them; she had but her childish magic and not the power required for such a feat. Only the Messenger Still-Sight had hope of mustering such powerful magic."
"Still-Sight! That was her name! That is the name written on the pictures in the cave! She is my ancestor! M`lady, your Messengers are not dead! They live on and are true to their nature! Though through out the years we have lost most of our magic, or it was taken away by the laws of the Shar'kra'tar." Angel bowed her head and looked down.
The angel's excited interruption was rewarded with a strange look from the Lady. She just looked at the angel with a mixture of expressions on her face before she finally shed a single tear. She reached up and took that single tear from her cheek and held it on her fingertip.
"All those generations. All those precious children. To be born without the Tear of Love to mark them. No wonder I was not sure that you were one of them. You bear the wings and you bear the soul; but you bear not the Mark."
With that she looked at the angel again and then blew softly on the tear on her fingertip, sending it soaring across the room to land just on the inside tip of the angel's eye. It looked like the angel had shed it rather than the Lady. However, the tear did not fall. It stayed there, on the brink of falling, damp and glistening. It would remain there unless Angel deliberately wiped it off. If Angel chose to keep it, nothing anywhere could remove it. Her children would also have the right to bear the Tear of Love, if their mother so wished. She need only bring the child to a Moonbeam of royal descent and ask that the child be blessed. The Tear would set them aside as Messengers of the Sapphire Moon. She hoped Angel would keep it.
"Although you are not pure, you are indeed her descendants. It is good to know that Still-Sight survived. Her goodness is the stuff of songs in my world."
Angel was ecstatic after hearing that she was a true descendent of the one called Still-Sight. There were tales told over soft fire lights about the Tear of Love. Angel had always heard that after Still-sight made it from her home world she had cared raised her son with love and care. He was not blessed with the Tear of love, she never re-mated and resigned herself to knowing that none ever would be again. She never expected that any from her world would ever leave it or find her if they did. Her son mated with a female from an egg bearing species called the Shar'thar. Their children became the Shar'kra'tar.
She raised her head and watched the Lady as she blew a tear towards her. She held her breath and said a silent prayer, all the time holding onto Gelveren's hand and squeezing it tightly.
'Will I be able to pass the Tear of Love on to my children, or will the Tear reject me?' She felt it land on corner of her left eye.
It stayed there.
Angel felt an overwhelming feeling as the tear touched her eye. A sense of true love overwhelmed her. She could now see the auras around the Lady and Gelveren. Her heart felt like it had swelled up two sizes bigger. She started to reach up to touch it, but she was frightened it would be wiped away by her touch. Holding her breath, she reached up with a shaky hand and touched the tear. It felt warm to the touch and it stayed wet. As she pulled her hand away, it still remained. She started to breath once again.
"Bless you, M`lady, for this wonderful gift. I don't know what to say, except that I will cherish the tear forever, and with your permission, I would like to pass it down to my children, and their children."
She blushed and looked into Gelverens eyes. "Should I tell him I think I am with child , or wait until we are alone?" she wondered silently. She squeezed his hand once again and leaned into him. She looked up and smiled as Gelveren's aura changed to a softer glow when she touched him. He was truly in love with her. Her heart even skipped a beat and she had to swallow a lump in her throat. She wanted to ravage his body once again, but felt that now was not the time to do or think about such things.
But it was a great thought that made her blush once more.
"Good Messenger, I fear you don't quite understand. You cannot pass the Mark to your children. You can only bring them to a Moonbeam of royal descent. Only she can give your children the Tear of Love. If it were a generational Gift Still-Sight would herself have passed it on to her son and him to his children after him. Still-Sight would have known that there would be no way for her to return and that none would likely follow. Still you are her offspring and Heirs to the Mark of the Messengers. The Tear of Love is yours and I will be glad to bless your children as well. I will simply have to find away to get around the "No one leaves the Moon Rule". Perhaps when I return I will send Aelora D'Annelle back to this place after her training is completed. She will find a place here that she would never find at home. At home she will only ever be Princess, second to the Keeper of the Staff. Here she will be Emissary to the Sapphire Moon. Perhaps some of your people would be willing to be transported to the Moon and reestablish the Messenger Race. But as for now I must ask a favor of you both. I sense in you both a great skill to heal. I am hoping that together you can heal a great wound. I have healing gifts of my own but they seem ineffective in the healing of this wound to my heart. Will you try to heal this?"
With that, she waved her hand lightly over her chest, revealing not only a large portion of her firm, full breasts, but also a great gaping wound, centered over her heart. It looked fresh, as though it had only just happened, even the blood was fresh and flowing.
She looked down at it. "It pains me without relief. It does not subside, even for a tiny march of breaths. Is there aught that you can do?"
With a quiet utterance that went unheeded, Gelveren stared at the wound, wide-eyed for a moment before his accustomed healer's mind reasserted itself, and he started to consider just what had happened to the Lady. That she was a being of some magic, or something far from ordinary, was not in dispute; either this, or else the wound itself was nothing the like of which he had dealt with. Which in other circumstances would have him cursing under his breath for the strangeness of it, although he did not here. People simply did not endure such hurts and still walk around and to all outward appearance seem as normal.
But the Lady, he must grant, was quite out of the ordinary.
"My first thought is that this is one for the Hall," he said quietly, looking at the wound. Even at seventeen years, he was quite versed in his art; but when it came to magic and suchlike, it was outside his experience, and there were those at the Healers Hall who were far more adept in such things than he. "But still, such undertakings are not swift affairs, and you had hoped to journey on this morning ... Let us see what we may do."
"I am certain I can find a few of my people who would be more than happy to escort you and the child back to your moon. If the child wishes, I would like to show her the way of the Shar'kra'tar. She will be blessed by our people and if she wishes, she too may have wings."
"I'm afraid that wings would not be possible, although the desire to grant such a gift would be appreciated. You see, we cannot be changed. We are that which we are. We are more than any eye can see. If Aellora is meant to have wings they will develop as she comes of age and reaches her awakening. That is the moment when her True Magic awakens and she can know what she can or cannot do or become."
She turned her attention once again to the painful wound on her chest.
"Is there aught that you can do for this terrible wound?"
Her thoughts turned back to the Lady when she asked if they could heal her. She saw nothing wrong until she stared at her for a bit. Her aura was like a rainbow, but at the center of her breast the aura was dark and it flowed in a circle, like a dark storm cloud.
"I do not have the powers to heal myself, but I can try to heal you," she looked over at Gelveren adding, "With my masters help of course." She took in a deep breath and looked up at Gelveren. She watched his eyes as he studied the wound.
"Master? Can you help her? Please! She has done so much for me. For us. She has promised to bless us. The least we can do is try. Please Master. Let us try." Her words carried with them a bit of worry. She had healed others before, but nothing this bad: A few cuts, scratches, and she had once set a bone in place, but this was something that was deeper.
He simply nodded, to Angel's request, belatedly realizing that his companion had her own strange talents, and perhaps a knowledge of magic in her own right. How much of this pertained to healing he knew not, and how much experience Angel had of healing, likewise; yesterday, she had been his patient and had required it herself. Now, it seemed he would do well to inquire further.
"May I touch it? I promise I will try not to cause you any more pain." Angel smiled a half hearted smile when the Lady pulled her hand away and nodded her head. Squeezing Gelveren's hand one more time, she let go, and slowly walked over and placed her hand just above the wound.
"I feel that it is a deep wound. Though you have the ability to heal yourself, you can not heal this. The wound has touched your heart stone. Is that the right word, M`lady? Heart stone?" Angel placed her hand gently on her chest and closed her eyes.
"It has a bad fever, and I think there is a nerve that is causing you the pain. I can try to heal the nerve, but I am not sure if I can close the wound or draw the fever out. Master? Can you look at this and help me?"
Angel smiled up and pulled her hand away slowly.
"We will do the best we can for you. I promise." Stepping to one side, she waited for Gelveren to look things over before trying to heal the Lady.
"We will do the best we can for you. I promise." Stepping to one side, she waited for Gelveren to look things over before trying to heal the Lady.
Pulling her wings out as far as they could go, she reaches in her cloak and pulls out her mask. Getting a look from Gelveren, she giggles.
"I promise I will take it back off once we heal the Lady. I need it to help with the healing process. It helps me collect the right thoughts. My mind must not wander, for fear that I might cause more harm than good. Now see what there is that you can do. I will do what I can, but do not go far. I might need your help afterwards." She did not want to tell him that if she was able to heal the Lady, her wound would be passed to her own body. It too would fade in time, but she would feel the same pain as the Lady.
It was a chance she would have to take. A chance she would gladly take. If given the chance...
"Just what have you in mind, Angel?" he asked her, leaning close to examine the wound himself, considering what might serve to heal it. "Though you may be able to heal, I'd prefer to have some idea of what you intend, before you set about doing it."
All magic aside, he himself would be applying sap to the wound, either of the Calendar or Olthrin trees, to clot the blood; some spirit of Ilis might close the wound itself; and then he would be bandaging that with fresh linen to keep the area covered. It would sting for a time, doubtless, but that could hardly be much worse than what the Lady endured now; and that would at least commence the healing proper.
"Silly! I am going to try to heal her. I am able to heal others, but not myself. I am not sure why this is, but I have tried before, without much success." Placing the mask over her face, she adjusted it and waited. The mask started to glow. As it did, it enveloped her whole body. Closing her eyes, she reached down and took Gelveren's left hand in hers and cupped them over the wound.
"It is far simpler to heal others than oneself," Gelveren observed quietly, his eyes intent on what Angel was trying to do. It was certainly true enough in the more mundane circumstances; attempting to stick a bandage to one's back, for instance, was far more readily accomplished if someone else was doing it. When it came to magic, however... he knew so little of the workings, and couldn't well say whether the pattern held true or not.
"I must have peace while I do this. Do not speak, nor move away. It will only take a few moments. I will study the wound first and then try to heal the nerve, then I will try to close the wound. I will tell you what I see as I do this."
Angel drew her wings up and around the Lady and Gelveren. "Breathe slowly and calmly. You will feel no pain. A little tingle or a little tickle should be the only thing you should feel. Now close your eyes and concentrate on the wound."
The glow started to enveloped both the Lady and Gelveren. "I will try to heal the nerve now. Then I will close the wound. There may be a scar left by the healing, but my Master might be able to fix that." The glow grew stronger and Angel lifted Gelveren's hand so she could see how things were going. Looking up, Angel saw the hope and prayer in the Lady's eyes.
'Perhaps,' he thought to himself, though none so sure of that as Angel seemed to be. Scars were scars, and whilst they might fade in time, it was not a simple thing to make them disappear completely. One could speed the fading, it might be, with certain mixtures and solutions, but for a reliable answer, it would invariably be magical. Which again, he was hardly knowledgeable in.
Squeezing her hand slightly, he blinked and tried to see through the glow to make what he would of Angel's handiwork. It awed him, the swiftness with which the wound was healing; as a healer, he could well appreciate the difficulties in dealing with such a hurt.
"OK. The nerve is healed, and I am closing the wound. You will feel the skin closing. That's it... Breathe slowly... almost... have it..." Angel watched as the wound closed and the skin became smooth. She could feel the wound open on her and she started to feel the pain that the lady was feeling. It was more than pain. It was the feeling of having lost something. Something precious. Something deep in her soul.
Unknown to her, she sent out her pain to Gelveren as well.
Then just as fast, the pain started to fade. "Nar`thre`ta... No... Not now... Ta'ra'chie..." Angel started speaking in her native tongue and tried to hold the pain inside her.
She failed. The Lady's wound faded back and then away. Then it came back even stronger.
"Nart'ra tar sha trei shu kieb tos... trajn'sha "
It was unknown to him, the tongue in which his charge spoke, but Gelveren could recognize the plea in her voice; but whichever being she entreated, it was for nought, the Lady's wound appearing exactly as it had a moment earlier. It was a wistful look he directed at Angel... if magic was a powerful force for healing, it was also capricious past all reckoning. And when at last Angel gave up, he knew that her magic, if magic it was, had not been enough.
And if that had him feeling sad for the fact, and the Lady resigned, Angel was more than this, quite distraught. Knowing nothing else he could do here and now, he reached out and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, hoping to comfort her.
Sweat fell in her eyes and stung them, making her eyes tear up. Pulling her hands slowly away, she heaved a deep sigh and watched as the glow faded as well.
"I see that the wound goes further than we thought. It's not a Heart Stone I see, but a Soul Crystal. It has been struck by something and has a fracture that will not close. This is no ordinary wound M`lady. This wound is much more than a cut in your skin. Something has damaged your Soul Crystal and there is no way we can heal it. Only the child that you have lost can do this. She is the one that holds you back from healing yourself. It is something like a deep emotional wound which will not heal until you have the child safely in your arms. The pain you feel is not the nerve, but the feeling of loss, caused by the child you seek. She was taken from you and a part of her is missing from your Soul Crystal. It is longing for her return. I feel that the closer you become to her the more pain you will feel, until you have her in your arms once more."
Angel saw the look of hope in the Lady's eyes fade. She dropped her hands to her side and pulled her wings closed. Pulling her mask off and wiping away her tears, she looked up and shook her head. Tears fell down her red cheeks and dropped on her new dress. Then she turned and buried her face in Gelveren's shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him and held him tight. Tears fell and she cried, all the while speaking in her native tongue.
"Ta'rh sha. tyr ru'ht shi. th'r ta! (I tried. I really did. I'm sorry!! )
Her wings fluffed up and the mask dropped to the floor. She felt Gelveren's arms circle her and his hands, as they caressed her wings.
All this did was to make her cry even harder. She heard Gelveren whispering in her ear telling her that she had done her best. Looking up from his chest, she could see the hurt in his eyes as well. The hurt was not so much for the Lady as it was for her. He knew she had done her best. Wiping her cheeks in his now wet shirt, she turned and cleared her throat.
"Forgive my weakness M`lady. I did the best I could but I could not hold the wound to my body. Your Soul Crystal is too strong. It is too willing to hold your pain until you find the child."
Dropping to her knees she looked down. "If you do not wish to bless us, then I will understand. Please do not harm my Master for my weakness. I ask that you punish me instead. I am the one who failed not him. He is a Nar'thra. An innocent soul."
Angel looked up and closed her eyes. "I await my punishment." She pulled her wings out and leaned forward and cupped both hand in front of her. Her head rested by the Lady's feet. Closing her eyes, she took in a deep breath and held it.
She would not cry out. It was the law of the Shar'kra'tar. If she cried out, it would mean that she was weak. Then she would have her wings taken from her.
She bit her lower lip and waited. Her thoughts went to Gelveren. "I love you Master. Please forgive my weakness..."
"There is nothing to forgive, Angel," he said quietly, reaching down and quite firmly lifting the other to her feet. It was not in him to watch her lower herself to such things, and so he would prevent it when he could. "And did I not say there was to be no more talk of punishment?" he chided gently, shaking his head and offering her a reassuring look.
Still, were it only to forestall any attempts to return herself to the floor, Gelveren wrapped his arms around Angel and held her to him, so that she could not.
"Soul Crystals... such things are outside my experience," he said to the Lady, with a sad shake of the head. "I would, as I suggested, have preferred someone at the Healers' Hall to see it; some are adept with such things, and might aid you where we could not. But as time presses... I am sorry, Lady, that we could not help you more."
She watched with stillness in her heart as the wound began to close. The stillness was touched with something near to horror as she watched the way this new version of the Messenger Race healed.
'No!' She thought in silence. 'The wound must never be taken into the healer! You cannot hold this pain. This pain will kill you both. You must not! The pain must be passed beyond, not taken within. It cannot work like this. The pain will not be taken. It must only be healed.'
She felt her hope of healing and relief from the incessant pain fade and then disappear as the wound reopened on her chest. There would be no healing on this day. she waved her hand over her chest, covering the wound once more with her sapphire gown.
She stood in silence as she watched the angel cry in her mate's arms. She never let on that here pain had increased. She sigh with a great sadness and sank slowly into her chair. There was no indication whatsoever what she was feeling inside. Her tranquillity remained perfect.
When the angel fell to her knees at her feet, begging mercy for her mate and asking that all punishment be hers, she simply raised a slender eyebrow and looked at her for a moment. Rising gracefully to her feet once more, she said, "You are in too great a hurry to be punished Messenger. Yours is not the kind to bear punishment. It is yours to be free of guilt and shame. You must never take upon yourself blame that is not yours. You have tried the best that you believe is yours. It is not you who is to blame that your healing skills are not as they were designed to be. It belongs to the one who did not train you to properly use your gifts. I will teach you, if you wish to learn. It would take but a moment of our time. A single beating of my heart and the knowledge would be yours. Do you wish to own this knowledge?"
"The law of the Shar'kra'tar forbids any knowledge of true healing. Only a few are chosen to receive such gifts. Most were the warriors of our kind. They received special teachings in that type of art."
She turned from Gelveren's chest to face the Lady and looked up. "But one that was chosen by royalty can carry such a gift. I would be most honored to carry such a gift..." and her voice became still... Then she looked down and whispered, "But only if you find me worthy of such a gift."
Then she bowed and knelt back down and waited for the Lady to speak. Her hand shot out and retrieved the mask, yet she did not place it back on. Instead she held it in her lap and ran her fingers over the surface. She was afraid to look up for fear that she would bring shame to herself once again.
It was a fear that would soon fade by the touch of the Lady's hand.
She smiled softly and moved toward the still kneeling angel.
"First, good Messenger, you must rise to your feet and bow to no one, save the deity whom you worship. You are yourself an object of worship and the worshipped should never kneel to the worshipper."
From beside them came a quiet murmuring, as Gelveren voiced his own approval of those words. It was not the easiest of things to convince Angel that she need not adhere to her laws and strictures around him, especially around him, and if the Lady's words were to aid in this, if even a little, then the healer was well content.
Once Angel had risen to her feet and stood before her, the Lady raised her hand to touch the angel's forehead. It gave the angel the strangest feeling she had ever known in her entire life. The touch was warm and cool at the same time. It was exciting and calming; shivery and still, all at once. She felt the strange feeling permeating her mind and moving down to what she knew was her soul. As it touched her soul she felt a new sensation. It was an exciting explosive feeling that flooded back to her mind. She suddenly felt her mind being flooded with knowledge and wisdom that she hadn't even know she did know. She knew that she had been awakened to the wisdom of the one called Still-Sight. In gaining that wisdom she knew that the wound in the Lady's Soul was from her sense of guilt borne of her sister's kidnapping. Only the Child's safe return would bring healing.
Then she felt the strangeness moving down again and covering her back. There was a feeling that something there was opening, something which had been closed long ago. She knew that her wings could now be hidden at will. She looked up into the Lady's sapphire eyes and saw a warmth there that she knew was the truest form of love she would ever see or feel.
"You cannot heal me, Messenger, but you have done the best that you knew at the time. Now you know that it was futile. It is my gift to you for trying, knowing the pain it would cause you. You will never again feel the pain of those with whom you share your gift of healing."
She turned then to Gelevren, "I have a gift for you as well, good Healer." She reached into her sleeve and came out with a small, perfectly round sapphire. It was no bigger than his thumbnail.
"This will give you the ability to heal without your herbs and salves. I'm afraid that if you wish to receive it you must make it a part of you. You... have to swallow it. It will remain in your body until you cease to exist then it also will cease to exist. It cannot be given away nor can it be stolen. If you do not wish to consume it you may simply keep it in your pocket and it will tell you when you are being deceived. Either way it will be a useful gift to you."
She placed the jewel in his hand and then raised both her hands high into the air and swirled around where she stood. She turned her face towards the heavens and called out in a soft, sing-song voice, "Rejoice with me, oh Sapphire Moon! Rejoice for the winged Ones have been found! A female of lessened Blood but Messenger none the less. She bears the Mark of the Messenger, the Tear of Love. She has found her mate and bears his seed. She wishes the Blessing of Joining take place!"
Accepting the gift with a word of thanks, Gelveren looked down at the jewel in his hand for a moment, before pocketing that and offering the other a whimsical smile. It was not that he lacked trust; but trusting or no, even a man in whom caution was wholly absent might pause before daring to swallow a sapphire. So he left it there for the moment, inclining his head to the Lady.
There was a more pragmatic reason, perhaps, that he did not at once place the stone in his mouth and gulp it down. It was a fine thing, to be able to heal without the herbs and salves and such, like he was wonted to use; others in the Healers' Hall already were thus talented. But at times he did wish to test the effect of particular substances on a patient, and if he were to heal them no matter the circumstance, then the usefulness of that method was negated. And Gelveren, having learned his art without aid of unearthly means, was in no great haste to cast it aside so blithely as that.
Well, swallowed or no, the sapphire was certainly something to consider.
She continued to swirl around, her dress twisted gently around her as she was raised up into the air. Her glowing, Living Hair raised itself up in the windless room and spread itself around, reaching out to wrap itself around the two still on the floor. They were lifted up and moved gently around the room in what seemed to be an incredibly complicated pattern. The room seemed filled with her Living Hair. Her voice filled the room and echoed into their souls and minds as she sang the blessing over their union. A vision of two birds like the one depicted on the mirror floated gracefully through the room, moving through the Living Hair as easily as one might float through air.
"Moon of Joy and Stars of Love Sun of Day and Stillness of Night Each alone yet both make one Joined together by the Beams of Light.
Songs of Time and Sighs of Pain Times for Loss and Days to Dance Cries for Grace and Signs of Gain
Love grows strong as fear grows weak As from each other, you each take Give your all to the one you choose Let nothing ever this Bond break"
When the song had ended she swirled back down to the ground and her hair fell almost neatly back in place. The birds were gone and the strange, electric feeling in the room faded. She then blew a kiss to each of them and they felt something touch their right wrists. They looked down to see they each wore a sapphire bracelet. Each was one single, solid gemstone; having no beginning and no end. There was a warm glowing from the center of each.
She looked at the newly bonded couple, reaching out to take each braceletted hand and said warmly, "I, the Rarest of Treasures from the Sapphire Moon, Protectorate and Heir to the Staff, give you my Blessing and unite you as one in the Light of the Sapphire Moon. Congratulations!.
She waited for them to thank her in whatever way was theirs then asked them to leave her for a moment.
Tucking her wings in for the first time, she felt a strange sense of pride overwhelm her. Her wings flowed into her shoulder blade and she took in another deep breath. Slowly turning her head, she looked back and brought them out again. Slowly at first, then faster. She opened them up and stretched them out.
"By the gods of the wind! They still work!" Taking the Lady's hand, she gently kissed it. "I have been blessed with both healing and being healed. Bless this day. Bless you my Lady." She kissed her hand once again and then turned towards Gelveren.
"Do you like me with...," and she held her wings out, "Wings... Or...," she pulled her wings in, "without them Master?" She giggled and blushed at the same time. Spinning on her toes, she looked around laughed.
"I feel so light on my feet without my wings. But I do miss them so. Yet it feels so good to be able to walk around without being stared at. Oh Master...! Please tell me! Do you love me for my wings or for my heart. I must know!!" She looked down and pulled her dress up to see her ankles. The small wings were still there and she laughed. So was the bandage from the night before. It was no worse for wear, but it was starting to bug her. The bandage was starting to unravel and leaving a trail where ever she went.
"Wings or heart, both are a part of you, Angel," the healer remarked, a deft evasion which for the moment spared him the necessity of having to decide what it was he most liked about Angel. "Although I find myself quite fond of both ... and also the rest of you," he added in a lower voice.
He looked down to the bandage as she lifted the hem of her dress; although his eyes were soon enough drawn elsewhere, which was fast becoming a quite familiar circumstance.
"Master? Can you fix this bandage for me? I think it has out lasted it's use." Jumping on the bed, she smiled and pulled her dress up to her knee. Sticking her leg out, she giggled and waited for Gelveren to take it off.
"Now Master, behave yourself. Undo the bandage only." A shy smile crossed her face and she couldn't help but giggle.
"Behave myself? And how was I misbehaving, may I ask?" he inquired in low tones which told all too clearly that he already knew. Indeed, his eyes were intent on her skin; and his hands were on her leg, but somewhat farther up than the bandage did reach, and then a little farther again. It was a moment, a long moment, before the bandage was in fact removed and disposed of. And another lengthy moment before he offered her a mischievous smile, withdrew his hands and let her be.
"Oh Master? Are you going to take the gem?"
Looking up at the Lady, Angel grinned. "I can always slip it in his stew. He has already tried to eat one of my buttons. I don't think he would know the difference until it was too late."
The look she saw on Gelveren,s face made her fall back on the bed and laugh. Covering her mouth, she noticed the bracelet once again.
"M`lady. What are these for?"
"They are simply markers to show that you have been properly bonded by a member of the Royal House. The marks inside are identical in every way. They acknowledge each other when in each other's company. When you are parted from each other the glowing will lessen until you meet again. The only thing that can remove them is a mutual, true desire to break your bond of Love. If you both truly wish to end your Love both bracelets will simply shatter harmlessly to the ground. You will be left with a pale shadow of them to remind you always of what you have lost."
Taking the Lady's hand once more into hers, she kissed it again, turned and walked out. Bringing out her wings once more, she stepped back downstairs and returned to the table. Everyone had stepped out side except for the one called Cali, and the young lady that the Lady called Strident. She had fallen asleep once more. Her breakfast laid in front of her and her satchel laid beside her.
Slowly walking up to the table, Angel smiles at Cali and then places a hand gently on Stridents shoulder.
"Thra cha ynta tch." (Wake up Young One). Closing her eyes she thought of the things that the Lady's gift had given her. "A pinch of enlightenment will break the sleepiness from her soul. This will bring her a spark of life, and make her fully rested. She will feel renewed and refreshed." Placing both hands on her shoulder, she closed her eyes and said a gentle prayer.
She felt Strident starting to stir, so she pulled her hands away and smiled.
"Young One. You need to finish your meal. The Lady will be down soon. I will have the one called Sera make you up few things to take with you during your trip. Now eat and await the Lady."
Stirring, she turned her head sideways so to regard the one who had awoken her, but did not bother to lift her head from the table. Blinking once or twice, she watched the other's face and then closed her eyes, seemingly wishing to fall asleep once more, to no avail. After a moment in which the rest would not come, the minstrel frowned and lifted her head, sighing and reaching for a spoon to at least make a start on her meal. Sleep was denied her, so she would make the best of the situation and down what food she could.
Walking up to the bar she talked to Sera.
"And be sure to add some of those rolled up breads with that sticky stuff over them. They were delicious. And bits of that dried meat too. " Angel's mouth watered at the thought of food once again.
"You mean Hugh's wife's cinnamon rolls? That will be no trouble at all. I can wrap them up for her along with a few other treats. Think she would like an apple fritter as well?"
"A what? What is a fritter? Some kind of apple?" Angel cocked her head and frowned.
"You didn't get one?" She turned and smacked Hugh on the arm once again.
Hugh was shocked when Sera hit him again. "What?"
"OK Hugh. Tell me why Angel did not get an apple fritter. They were on the menu you know."
"Well she never asked for them. Anyway I only have a few left and I was..."
"Yes? Go on." Sera placed her hands on her hips and started tapping her foot.
"Well... I was keeping them for myself, if you must know!" Hugh turned and, reaching under the counter, brought out a plate full of fritters. They were still hot and steaming.
"I heard the Lady taking to Tizzy about them. So I sent the boy to get some more." With a deep sigh, Hugh turned back and said, "I guess I can share, BUT only one!"
"ONE? Right!! As if you need them!" and she poked Hugh's belly. "What would the Mrs. say if she found out you have been eating sweets again? Should I go back and tell her?" Sera started towards the back room when Hugh caught her arm.
"OK! OK! You can have a few, but I get the rest."
Sera giggled and handed Angel one, and placed four more in the bag for Strident. Then she took one for herself.
"These are wonderful." Angel bit into the fritter once more and smiled. "I know what I will be ordering from now on. Downing the fritter, she reached for another one.
"Hey!! I only have a few left. Leave some for me!" Hugh grabbed the plate after Angel snagged another one, and placed it below the bar.
Angel giggled and grabbed the bag of goodies off the bar and walked over to Strident.
"Something for your trip. Enjoy the things that Sera calls Apple Fritters. But I would guard them well. If I know the others, they will be trying to trade or steal them from you. I bet you can get anything from the one called Seth or Beldon for one of those." Angel laughed and joined Gelvren next to her.
After the couple left her she remained in perfect stillness for several heartbeats before looking down at the wound on her chest and covering it once again. She then turned to look at picture that hid the mirror and gazed at it for a time before turning to leave the room. She waved her hand casually behind her as she left, turning the portrait once again to a mirror.