Wednesday, July 13, 2016

City of Curses: Little Ainesia 3

Here is part 3 of the story Maralda is getting from Unatoly.  How a young woman fled her homeland for #Crux.  The price of revolution for a noble girl who didn't know any better.  

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Una and Zhamon rode four hours in the night.  The horse stayed to the road.  Una knew how to get to Selas.  Grandmother and her father had never understood her constant wish to ride on horseback.  On her own.  Not a in carriage.

Una would always ride on her own to the little port.  It had been a way for Una to be free.  To do something outside the manor.  To get to know the people she'd govern one day.

But now she rode with her little brother to escape this place.  His long, unbraided young hair was mussed.  A sound sleeper, he hadn't woke since they'd left the Draketor estate.  Like her hair, it had Salish white mixed with Tomish black.  Una didn't know what she was going to tell him when he woke.

She hoped she wouldn't default to a lie.  But Una wanted to hear that lie herself.  Grandmother dead?  The revolution here?  In quiet Dragonrun?  The tiny little backwater coastal county of Volkstorm?

The air changed on the ride to Selas.  The salty tinge of seawater suddenly came as they rounded a turnpike.  The night had been clear, which Una didn't realize had been a blessing.  Later in life she would look back at the calm and gentle night as something that couldn't gone worse.

Una rode down the road into the small fishing village known as Selas.

There were only a few lanterns hanging outside the town gate when she rode in.  Sunlight started to crest up in the east.  Everything felt grey to Una in the morning light.  People were stirring with the sunrise.

She rode into the middle of town.  Her brother snored a bit.  She bit her lower lip.  Her hair and clothes she'd hurried to put on, didn't give her any noble air.  Riding in the night, without her usual full night sleep left her eyes looking red.

Una felt a warmth of embarrassment for her looks.  She could feel her grandmother's words in her mind about appearances.  Una tried to avoid the eyes of the villagers.

She stopped in front of a familial sight.  Next to the docks, an old wooden tavern clung to its last planks.  The Smiling Dog.  A place she and her family would visit whenever they came to Selas.  Father and mother would drop a lot of coin.  Local folk would whisper about themselves as they talked.

Then they would leave.  Una tried to dismount.  She gritted her teeth.  There wasn't a way to do it without waking up Zhamon.  The little boy remained a lump on her lap.

"That you Lady Dragunrun?"  A voice asked.  Nervous, Una tried to identify it's source.

It belonged to the Innkeep.  A woman whose width matched her height.  But she always had such a bright smile on her face.  Una couldn't recall her name, but she knew her face.  Dark black hair of a Tomasi.  An eternal smile.  Dark red eyes.

"I..."  Una didn't know how to respond.  She didn't want to believe that Father had been right.  But what if he had?  Should she watch her words?  But she knew these people.

Una recognized the fishergirls who sold and negotiated catches.  The Innkeep and her family.  She remembered seeing their little daughter the last time she had been here.   Kind people who always had spoken to her in polite tones.

She could trust them.  They wouldn't betray her.

"You need some help with that?"  The Innkeep gingerly reached for Zhamon.  She took the boy with a handled grace Una guessed came from experience.  Una didn't stop her.

The woman had always given Zhamon a fried treat when their parents had visited the Smiling Dog.  Una knew she could help them.  Maybe if they acted fast, they could stop the Straw Pastor from attacking Draketor.

"Th-thank you."  Una's mouth felt sore and cold.  How cold had the ride been?  Had she ignored that?  How deep had her thoughts been?

"Of course, milady."  The Innkeep bowed, her green and white dress scrapping on the stones on the ground.  "You need a bite to eat I expect?"

"I-I n-need..."  The words were hard to get out.  Una bit her tongue trying to enunciate.

"Some warmthing, I think.  That ride must've awful cold, milady.  Your father sent you?"

Una nodded.  It seemed easy than trying to talk at the moment.

"Come in, then.  Awful about your grandmother.  Your father wanted you to be rested for the rest of your trip.  You understand?"

Una paused.  Something wash over her mind.  The ride had been tiring, especially with trying to keep Zhamon in her lap.  Emotions bubbled to the forefront of her mind.  Yes, there were still some loyal folk left in Dragunrun.  A bed, some sleep, warm food... that could really help.

The young noblewoman, now free of her younger brother, dismounted.  The Innkeep led her inside the Smiling Dog.  The painted image of a dog in mid-pant hung over the door.

Una yawned and stretched as she walked in.

"No, he's just a boy."  Una heard the Innkeep say.

"I'm sorry?"

Una's eyes took a moment to adjust.  People filled the Smiling Dog.  Fifty men and women, all armed with pitchforks.  Icy stares met her.  Sleep drained away from Una.

"You going to protect her too?"  One of the pitchforking people asked.

"I'm your Comtesse.  Show me your respect."  Una's voice took on a sharp tone.  "I've had a long night, and I've got a lot more to do-"

"Darling, Sleep.  The adults have things to discuss."  A blond man in red leathers said.

Una didn't have time to react to the voice.  She just collapsed.  The spell he'd cast knocked her into darkness.