By the Bluedragon
The festivities were not to begin until late court. It would be then that Soliumant would chose the first of his harem. I was not expecting morning court to be exciting. To my relief, it was not. The Jilhsaed mediated only four disagreements and counseled one new merchant. He was petitioning the court for a grant to fund a new section of wool trade. The region did not support enough sheep to make their own wool. It was imported. The Jilhsaed gave reluctant agreement to assist the young man in his endeavor.
I caught Sal's eye and gave her the sign that we needed to meet. She gave her agreement and met me in the court after I had escorted the Jilhsaed to the midday meal. Wordlessly, I indicated she should follow. We walked back to my chamber in silence.
"I have a surprise for you." I stopped outside the closed door. "Prepare yourself."
"For what?" She asked.
"The surprise." I wished I could tell her more, but I felt it best to let her see with her own eyes.
Sevianth was at the table with Lyliane when we entered. He was steadily describing his day's lessons. Lyliane looked on with interest. He looked up when we entered and rushed over to hug Sal's waist. She had not yet seen her sister's face.
"Is it not great?" He asked excitedly.
"Is what great?" She asked as he pointed to the table. "Gods of my tribe."
"Salenia?" Lyliane called softly from the table. She stood on shaking legs.
"Lyliane? Is this true?" Sal looked to me for confirmation. I nodded.
Sevianth and I were privileged then to see one of the most beautiful sights we would ever see in our lives. Sal pulled Sevianth from her waist and slowly walked over to her sister. Lyliane met her before she could reach the table. The two embraced. We could not hear what they said to one another, but the emotions reached us just the same. There were no dry eyes in the chamber when they stepped apart.
"What are you doing here?" Lyliane asked her sister.
"Tor and I are here to rescue you and a few others who were recently taken. It is so good to see you again." Sal pulled her back into an embrace.
"Others? From our tribe? I know of no others." Lyliane informed her, as they broke apart again.
"They are to be presented to Soliumant during late court. He is to chose one to begin his harem." I told her. "Sevianth, finish your meal." I told the boy as I guided him back to the table.
"How do you plan to free them?" Lyliane asked as she resumed her seat. She placed portions of food onto a plate and handed it to her sister. I served myself.
"We have not yet decided." I told her. Sal was still too shocked to do anything more than stare at her sister. "Sal, you need nourishment as well."
"Torienne is correct, you need to eat." Lyliane did not touch her food until Sal made a pretense of eating.
I rose and opened the door when I heard the knock. Iolaine grinned broadly as he stepped into the room. He sat at the table after squeezing Sal's shoulder. She did not even look up as he did so.
"I see we have wonderful tidings." He said as he piled food upon his plate. "I have some for you as well."
"What would that be?" I asked as I resumed my seat.
"The potentials for Soliumant's harem are even now entering the court." He said. "There are several fair skinned maidens among the potentials."
"Interesting." I answered. "What shall we do about it?"
"We go look." Sal offered. She regained her wits. "I am not hungered."
"Neither am I." I pushed away from the chair. "I have little time before I am to instruct Soliumant. It shall be enough for information."
"Agreed. You three stay here and wait for us to return." Sal patted her sister's cheek as she rose from her chair. "My gratitude, Torienne." She pulled me into an embrace as I closed the door behind us.
"There is no need." I whispered as I held her. "It was merely a happy coincidence." I did not admit to requesting her sister. She did not need be aware of it.
She nodded as she let me loose. We walked quickly to the area for court. Several slavers had scantily dressed maidens in a line before the platform. They were chained together with thin bands of gold. We watched from one floor above. Guards with bows kept this area secure during court.
I searched the maidens with my eyes. There had to be twenty or more in the line. I saw those who had been taken from my village. They were last in line on the far side. Kierian was in the middle of the line. She was wearing only a waistcloth and a waist length tunic. It accented her long legs and torso. She looked up as I watched her. I know not if she saw me for she made no sign of recognition. My sister did not look at anything save the ground beneath her feet. My cousins saw us, but wisely kept quiet.
"We should return to the chamber." Sal whispered.
"You are correct." I answered. In truth I was reluctant. My heart was pounding faster than a horse in full gallop.
"We have seen them." Sal announced as we rejoined the others at the table.
"What have we planned?" Iolaine asked. He poured a mug of viniare and slid it across the table to me.
"We shall." I took a sip of the flavored liquid. "I have no idea, in truth."
"I have if you should consent to hear it?" Sal surprised me. I nodded for her to continue. "I have need of something in the market. I am required to attend late court fully as much as you. Iolaine is not." She grinned.
"I will follow and see where those not chosen are taken?" Iolaine smiled.
"I shall accompany you." Lyliane threw her assistance into the plan. "Torienne is in need of new boots and a new shirt." She grinned. "It is feasible for two servants to attend the market for their jesisenias."
"These are all good plans." I let my enthusiasm recover. "I have been paid by Johianei, here." I passed Lyliane the goldens from the pouch on my belt. "Buy their freedom if you have need." The Jilhsaed paid his guards more than Johianei.
"That is a good plan." Sal handed her goldens to Iolaine. "Make sure you return here with them, we may have need of the extra assistance."
"I understand." He smiled. "These are more goldens than we need though."
"To complete the illusion, buy what we may need at the market. Clothe the maidens as well." I advised. "If someone asks why we have need of more servants, tell them we need a nurse for Sevianth."
"What shall I do?" The boy asked.
"You shall go with them." I told him. "While you are there, see if you find a dagger to your liking."
"Nothen, Torienne, servants are not permitted to buy weaponry." Lyliane pointed to her chest. She had the mark of a slave on her.
"He should be able to purchase two small daggers." Sal reasoned. "Iolaine bears a ring in his ear, but no mark. That should make a difference, correct?"
"Yes, Salenia." He looked a little nervous.
"I am to be late for Soliumant if I do not hasten now." I stood. "We shall meet here after court."
"Agreed." They said in unison.
Soliumant was nervous with anticipation when I entered the practice room. I led him through the first two sword dances to ease the tension within us both. I began to show him the third dance in the series when he asked me to halt.
"May I ask you a question?" He seemed nervous.
"Rohirm, you have no need to ask my permission. You may ask me what you wish."
"Are you, have you been with women?" I almost hurt his feelings by laughing.
"I am a warrior." I answered. "I have done and learned what I must."
"I shall take that as an affirmative." He grinned. "Do not be concerned, it is not an abomination here in this land."
"Glad am I to hear that rohirm, but why need you ask?"
"Have they been willing encounters?"
"Yes rohirm." I knew not what he was attempting to ask.
"I have been with a hired woman once, but never with anyone who did not submit willingly. I have no desire to learn that art." He proved he was not as sheltered as I had surmised.
"You are concerned about choosing your harem are you not, rohirm?" I finally got the idea he was hinting at.
"I am." He admitted. "My mother was my father's only wife. My nurse, her sister, raised me to see each person as a human. It was as my mother would have wished. My stomach turns at the thought of forcing someone to my will."
"That is an admirable trait, rohirm. Why do you need to chose then?" I wanted him to think on his options. He seemed to need guidance.
"These maidens are presents from the slavers. I do not like slavers or their trade, but while my father lives I must show otherwise. When I become Jilhsaed, I shall abolish the evil practice in my realm. However, that shall be years hence and I have no desire to hurry my father's removal from command." He sat on his heels.
"As long as I am here, rohirm, I shall offer you my assistance." I pledged my support. He seemed gladdened. "Now, shall we work off your nerves? This next dance shall help clear your mind of uncomfortable thoughts." I offered my hand and helped him to his feet. It did not shame him to accept my assistance.
"I have been blessed by the gods to find an instructor such as you." He took up his sword. "You are wise beyond your years. You have the makings of a fine counselor."
"Nothen, rohirm, it is I who am blessed. You should see my partner in action with short steel. Then you shall be amazed." I took a defensive stance and ignored the implied offer. I was almost impatient to fulfill my quest and return to my homeland else I would grow too comfortable here. The longer I remained, the easier it would have been to stay in his service. "First you shall take this stance." I showed him how to stand.
We practiced the new sword dance until it was time to leave. He left with his guards to wash and change before late court. I went to my chamber to do the same. No one was present when I returned. They had taken their positions according to the plan. I washed and changed in haste. I had duties to fulfill before the start of late court.
The court was full to capacity. I had never before seen so many people. I took my position behind and to the right of the Jilhsaed. He had yet to enter. I could see Sal and Johianei near the edge of the crowd. Johianei's rank allowed him as close to the demarcation in the floor as possible. Sal smiled encouragingly.
Suddenly the air was rent by loud horn blasts. The Jilhsaed and his son entered to more pomp then usual. The two guards leading them into the area took positions in front and to either side of the platform. The crowd gathered around in anxious tension.
"Today, my son becomes twenty and one years." The Jilhsaed stood tall on the platform and announced it to the crowd. The assembly cheered in unison. "I have been informed that the representatives from the slave merchants wish to offer my son and heir a gift for the occasion. First however, I have an announcement. For two weeks, this realm shall celebrate the occasion. Soliumant is a worthy heir and shall complete his formal investiture as heir a week hence from today. He shall also be formally betrothed to a woman of worthy stature and beauty. They shall be presented to him after the ceremony creating him heir in right as well as name." He paused to let the crowd cheer. Soliumant bowed gravely. "Now, bring on the presents."
The crowd parted to let the slavers and their gifts through. I kept one hand on the hilt of my mother's sword. The very presence of the slavers made me anxious. Soliumant made great show of walking down the line of maidens. Graneima, Tre and Tiliatha gasped when they met my eyes. I shook my head and silently warned them not to say anything. My cousins winked but otherwise pretended to ignore me. Kierian had yet to notice my presence. Soliumant however noticed her.
Soliumant paused in front of Kierian for several heartbeats. She raised her head and met his eyes against protocol. He smiled as he walked the line again. His steps were hurried as he returned to stand in front of her again.
"Have you a name?" He lifted her head with his chin.
"Kierian." She told him. She rolled her eyes away from his face. That was when she noticed me standing behind the Jilhsaed. I ducked my head and she gave no sign of recognition.
"You are common born?" He asked. She nodded her head in a quizzical manner. He took that for assent. "A most beautiful daughter of a farmer then. Look at me." He commanded softly. The crowd was so quiet no one had trouble hearing his words. "Your eyes are the color of the sky. I have never seen their equal." He let his thumb graze her cheek. I could tell that he was besotted despite that fact she understood less than half of his words.
"Made you a choice, rohirm?" One of the slavers interrupted the moment between them. Kierian had been staring back into his eyes as Soliumant gazed into her own.
"I have." Soliumant dropped his hand away from her face. "I wish this one." He returned to the platform.
"Siveruian." The Jilhsaed commanded the chamberlain's attention. "Make it so."
The small man nodded. Kierian was unlocked from the chain and led out of the chamber. What they had planned for her I knew not. The others remained behind. The slaver approached the platform until one of the guards stopped him. He dropped to his knee before receiving the motion to rise and continue.
"Jilhsaed, we wish to present the others unclaimed to the court." The slaver bowed. "It is a gift for all in honor of this occasion."
"Very well, take the maidens into the dining chamber. Johianei shall show you the way." The Jilhsaed indicated the viniare merchant to lead the slavers and their wares to the dining chamber. "Soliumant, come with me." He rose and beckoned me, two of the other guards and his son to follow.
We walked into an alcove set off the main chamber. It was crowded with the five of us, but the guards and I made sure more space went to the Jilhsaed and Soliumant. They spoke in hushed tones. I could make out that the Jilhsaed offered one more maiden for his harem if he wished. From the shake of his head, I guessed Soliumant declined the offer.
"Very well." The Jilhsaed turned to face us. "Torienne, have Johianei gather the top advisors into the dining chamber. He shall know whom to invite. Bid them to choose a maiden. Chose one for yourself as well if you desire it. Those unclaimed shall be sent to the common market. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Jilhsaed." I bowed low before leaving the alcove to deliver the message.
Johianei was in deep conversation with one of the slavers. I stood beside him until I had received his attention. He rushed to carry out the orders I had been made to deliver. Sal followed, as was her duty. Using Soliumant as an example, I made a great show of examining the maidens. Those of my tribe were gathered together. I stopped before them.
"Torienne, what are you doing here?" Graneima whispered in our language.
"Attempting to rescue you." I gave a slight grin. "I have been granted leave to chose one of you as a servant. The others shall be freed, you have my pledge on that, but I doubt it shall be today."
"Have you seen something you like?" A slaver approached. His honeyed voice grated on my ears. It was the voice of a merchant attempting to sell an ill-bred horse as a fine animal.
"Aight, faelida." I bowed. "The Jilhsaed has generously allowed me to chose one of these lovely maidens."
"A gracious offer I am sure." His tone barely changed. I could hear the disapproval in it. "Have you chosen?"
"Yes, faelida." I was guard to the Jilhsaed and I was required to treat this baderema with outward respect. "I have chosen this one." I placed my hand on my sister's chains. My familial duty came before the duty of my tribe. Tre appeared grateful.
"A wise choice, jesisenia." The man moved to unlock her chains. "She has a soft, attractive look that should please you." The disgust in his voice was audible.
"I have no use for her beauty." I told him. "I wish a nurse for the boy I have with me. He has no mother and I have not time to look after him."
"Ah, a wiser choice then." He changed his tone. I had shown him I was a warrior with a motherly instinct. It was untrue, but it changed his attitude. Cylingic warriors were rumored to kill children not rear them. The untaught believed the kirgeurs roasted children. I had difficulty believing we were referred to as the barbarians. At the least we did not condone slavery. As it was, a portion of our population had been stolen and sold every season in memory. The man unlocked Tre's chains.
"Come." I took the key for her wrist locks from the slaver. She followed willingly.
I looked for the Jilhsaed or Soliumant. Neither was in the room. Several cordermers were examining the maidens. A large burly man chose Graneima. I had not expected that. Nevertheless, I was a kirgeur; I would make the plan as I had the opportunity. I watched as one by one, my friends and family were chosen as servants and slaves. Wisely, Tre kept silent. I believed she was too shocked to speak.
One of the other guards relieved me of duty. It was close to the evening meal and my duties were finished. Tre accompanied me willingly. I could read the curiosity in her face. I could not unlock her chains until we reached the room. I whispered that information to her as we walked. She nodded her understanding. It gladdened my heart that all her reasoning had not fled.
I was the first to return to the chambers. I took Tre to one of the beds and sat her down. I unlocked her wristlocks and stood before her.
"Are you harmed, Tre?"
"Thanks be to the gods." She threw her arms around my neck. "How did you manage to find us?"
"We tracked you for a fortnight." I told her. "Are you harmed?" I knew not what manner of instruction the slavers used on their captives.
"I am unharmed. Where are the others?"
"What others?" Her question confused me.
"Our sisters. What of the battle?"
"My mother is dead. Our brother, Luiciak was killed in battle as was our cousin Miriack. We freed the younger girls before the slavers left our territory. Our sisters are unharmed. At this moment they are likely helping rebuild our house and farm." I related it as though someone else had lived those moments during and after the battle. This physical distance and the distance provided by time dulled the ache that day caused.
"Oh gods." Tre collapsed in my arms. Her grief turned to tears and her tears to hysterics. I knew not how to handle the situation. Gently, I laid her on the bed. She curled in on herself and cried freely. Suddenly weary, I returned to my customary chair at the table. I rested my forehead against the coolness of the stone table. I felt then I did not have the training to complete the quest.
"The plot thickens." Sal laughed as she entered the room. "What is the matter, Tor?" She asked when she noticed I had my head in my hands. She poured two mugs of viniare and handed one to me.
"That is the matter." I nodded my head in Tre's direction. My sister was curled up on the bed with her knees pressed to her chest. She was crying still.
"You are pathetic." Sal laughed. "A beautiful woman is crying in your bed and you sit with your head in your hands."
"That is my sister. Regardless, I like my partners willing and not kin." I replied.
"As do I, though my desires are not often reciprocated. I was attempting to make you smile. It looks better on you than a frown." Sal leaned back in her chair. "The others were chosen, but I know not by whom." She redirected the conversation. She had made it an art.
"I saw that." I raised my head and took a sip of viniare. "It will take some planning to free them and Kierian."
"True, but I do so enjoy a good challenge. It keeps us agile." Sal returned to her optimistic point of viewing the world.
"I am gladdened you believe so." I could not help but smile. "It shall take longer I think." I slipped back into our native tongue.
"It shall be worth it. We shall ensure our legacy with this journey, and perhaps we shall take home more than the lost ones."
"What do you mean?" Her answer had me perplexed.
"This is a wondrous realm, Tor. We can take ideas from here and perhaps we can implement them in our villages."
"Such as?" She had my curiosity raised.
"Minarina. There is not an inn or home in our tribes that would not love to be able to block the elements and maintain the light with such grace." She took a sip of her viniare. "I have Iolaine learning the art of producing this drink. I shall miss it."
"As shall I." I laughed. She had restored my good humor.
"Heard I my name?" Iolaine announced as he entered the chamber. Sevianth and Lyliane were a step behind him.
"You did." I answered. "Sal has informed me that she has you learning the art of producing this beverage. How is that working?"
"It works well, Torienne. Julaniant is proficient at the task and will answer all my questions. He is lonesome for someone to talk to I think. Johianei does not allow his servants to socialize much."
"That is one mistake I wish all cordermers here would make." Sal announced. "It would be easier to accomplish our goal."
"It would." I answered. "Tell me, Sevianth, what did you find at the market?"
"We did not find the women, Tor, but I did get this." He held up a small dagger. It was not quite half the length of my hand. "And, Lyliane got these for me as well." he proudly held up two small leather bracers. "They are just like yours."
"That they are." I smiled at him. "Do not be concerned about the maidens. We have knowledge of where they are being held. One of them, my sister Treinia, is curled on the bed behind me."
"What is wrong with her?" Iolaine asked.
"Grief. Our brother was killed in the battle, as was my mother and one of our cousins. I have no idea what to say to her." I replied.
"I have." Lyliane rose from her chair. "I shall handle the new one after I have returned with the evening meal."
"You are a good woman, Lyliane. You have my gratitude." I rose and touched her hand.
"There is no reason for gratitude. I felt much the same grief as she when I arrived here. It is my gratitude I owe to you for reuniting me with my sister." She left quickly.
"I have great respect for your sister." I told Sal. My partner's eyes were watering slightly.
"Yes, she is a great person." Sevianth added his childish enthusiasm on the subject. Iolaine nodded his approval as well.
"She has changed, but I can still see the person I remember in her." Sal told us. She took a long drink of the viniare. "I believe there are at least two kitchens."
"Why is that?" I asked. I was amused by her change of the subject.
"The food is better on this side." She grinned.
"It is true, Torienne." Iolaine agreed with Sal's comment. "It is why we are gladdened to take the evening meal here."
"Ah, so its not just for our company." I protested in a mocking tone.
"Not true." Sal protested my comment. "We are here for the viniare as well."
"Sevianth, shall we continue to allow these two dine with us?" I asked the boy.
"Well." He pretended to think on the matter. "I shall say yes. I wish Salenia to teach me the dagger and we would miss them otherwise." His tone was boyishly serious.
"We would miss your company as well." Sal told him. She glanced at me and smiled as she said so. I raised my mug to her in a salute.
Iolaine rose to answer the door at the soft knock. He assisted Lyliane with the tray of food. It amazed me that she had been able to handle it. It was almost as large as she. Together, they set the tray on the table. Sevianth hastened to close the door before returning to his chair with eagerness.
"Shall I awaken the new one?" Lyliane asked. She was still unaccustomed to her freedom.
"If you wish. Her name is Tre." I told her. "Perhaps she would have a brighter outlook if she were properly fed."
"My thoughts exactly, Torienne." She slowly walked to the bed my sister had claimed. "Do not hold the meal for me." She called as she sat on the bed. "This may take some time."
We did as she wished. We all filled our plates, though we ensured plenty had been left for Lyliane and Tre. I believed that Sal had been correct in her assessment. The food in this section of the palace was superior. It was a subtle acknowledgement of the esteem the Jilhsaed and his heir placed in their guards. This section housed all their guards, though the ones that guarded them at night dreamed during the day.
After several minutes of quiet coaxing, Lyliane led Tre to the table. They joined us, though neither was aggressive in filling their plates. Iolaine served them plenty. He felt as Sal and I did, they were too thin to be healthy.
"You are here to rescue us?" Tre asked again.
"We are." Sal answered. "We rescued the smaller girls a day after they had been taken. It has been a long journey to find you."
"This is not a dream then? I have dreamt of freedom since it was taken from me."
"Nothen, it is as real as you or I." I answered. "We cannot set you free, I need for you to understand that. This is a dangerous position for us to be in and we shall require your assistance. We need for you to only watch the boy. His name is Sevianth and you are to be his nurse. Iolaine and Lyliane shall assist you as you learn the language and the duties. Is this agreeable?" I knew she would not say otherwise. She had been planning a hearth and children from a tender age.
"I have no choice, Torienne." She bowed her head. "I shall do what is required. You do pledge to take us home?"
"You have our oaths as kirgeurs on it." Sal told her. "We shall endeavor to return you to your village and your betrothed unharmed and untouched."
Sal's comments seemed to put Tre at her ease. She ate with a better appetite as a result. Lyliane seemed to sympathize with her. I could see no harm in that. Lyliane knew better than we what trials she may have encountered on the journey.
"We should plan the day, Tor." Sal reminded me as we finished the meal.
"We should continue as normal, Siveruian shall be here for the morning meal to inform me of my duties during the festivities. We should determine where the others are."
"I shall do that, Torienne, I believe I am better equipped for it." Iolaine volunteered.
"Do not get caught or into trouble." Sal advised him.
"I shall not." He grinned. "I have learned much by watching you both."
"That leaves Sevianth, Tre and Lyliane." I did not acknowledge his compliment with more than a smile. "I believe Sevianth should attend lessons, and Tre with him. Lyliane can you assist Tre in learning the proper protocol and perhaps assist Iolaine in finding the others?" I knew it would not be difficult. Our people on the whole were pale compared to those reared in this region.
"I shall be able to do both I think." She seemed pleased to be included in the plan.
"Good." Sal stood. "I believe we shall depart and go bathe now. We shall see you on the morrow." She waved Iolaine to follow her.
"Where did you find him?" Lyliane asked as they closed the door behind them. She had a girlish look on her face.
"We went first to Creasinda. We had been ill advised by someone." I still felt bitter about the lack of proper interrogation techniques. "Iolaine was a servant, more a slave, at the inn. He was unable to read, and the innkeeper's son had taken a belt to him. The innkeeper dismissed him; we actually bought his freedom for a silver. We offered to escort him here in the hopes he could find employment. He came with us willingly and became as a friend during our journey."
"He is a nice man." She laughed softly. I was able to see in her the woman she had been. It was a welcome sight.
"Sevianth, get your bath while you are still awake." I grinned as he ran to do my bidding. "I believe you are enamored by our friend." I said when the boy had disappeared within the bathing chamber.
"Perhaps." She admitted as the blood rushed to her cheeks. The color looked good on her. "How come you to travel with a boy?"
"We had Johianei buy him as a reward for our services." I did not tell her the entire story. I did not want to illustrate how desperate we had been for information. Though if I had the chance to change anything, I would not do so.
"You do not treat him as a slave." She observed.
"He is not a slave." Even I was surprised by the conviction in my tone. "Tre, you have been quiet. What think you of all this?"
"I think this is a strange dream that I soon will wake from." She was still as skittish as an abused colt. I could not tell if it were the weight of grief or of more.
"This is no dream." I reiterated. "Think you can continue the illusion?"
"I shall try.
"Dalinathis is well. He received only minor injuries during the battle. Had I not left without warning, he may well have joined me in this quest." I felt news of her betrothed would appease her. They had not started the betrothal ritual before the battle, but everyone could see the bond they shared. Dalin had broken custom and asked my father for Tre. My father recognized the love they shared and agreed. It had cost him greatly to break the promise to Tre's intended. He did not seem to regret the choice.
"I am pleased by the news. I had frightful fantasies of his death. I feared him dead, in truth. I am grateful for this, Tor, the news and the rescue." Tre seemed to brighten at the news. "I will assist as you need me. You have my pledge as the daughter of your father on it."
"That is all I can ask for." I smiled. The children of my father
are headstrong and stubborn, but we are determined. I believed her pledge, though
she did not need offer it. We were kin. Pledges were redundant.
"I shall return this tray to the kitchen." Lyliane started putting the used plates on the tray. Tre assisted. "Do you wish to accompany me?"
"If I may." She looked to me for permission. I only nodded. Lyliane could assist her more than I at this time.
They carried the tray between them. I had been left with much to think on as I sat alone in the common area. Sevianth had purchased a shirt for sleeping at the market. It was a rather large tunic style piece of clothing and looked amusing on him. He wore it out of the bathing chamber and climbed into his bed. He was dreaming as soon as he lay down.
I found a few packages on my bed when I walked over to it. Lyliane had purchased a similar night tunic for me. I was grateful that I would not have to dream in my clothing. I did not wish to dream unclothed with Sevianth in the room. It was not from modesty, it was merely unaccepted among my people.
I sank into the tub with relief. Bathing had become the only time I could fully relax. It had been the same during our journey. It had been the only time Sal and I could truly be alone, the only place we could discuss our plans. It still felt strange to see an empty space opposite me. I shrugged off the feeling as I wondered what Kierian was doing. I resolved to formulate a plan on the morrow.
I was done with my bathing and had just crawled into bed when Lyliane and Tre returned. I heard my partner's sister lead my sister to a bed. She bid her pleasant dreams before taking her own. We were all dreaming within heartbeats of one another.
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