Sep 2008

Chapter 19Where She Surprises

My thoughts tried to remember all I knew about gems and mixed it with the minimal information from the letter. What was the worst that could happen with a sword like this? If the gems were overcharged, which would be quite difficult to achieve, they might shatter or exhume the Magic in a very dangerous way. There was no way to find out, although having gems at hand could prove to be very interesting. I did mentally make a note to keep forest creatures away from it, as I didn't want to have one of their deaths on my conscience.

Time to get back to the stables. The square was emptying as it was almost dinner time. Most of the sparring had already broken off and there were only a few training students remaining. Most of them were working on training their focus one way or the other. The sky was still fairly blue but it already felt a little cooler now that the Castle cast a shadow over the square. Sounds appeared to have moved inside as well, mostly. Of course there was still some noise from the market outside the walls, but it sounded far away. I knew it would still be many hours before it was really quiet out here, well as quiet as it was going to be. The city sometimes felt as if it never slept. But by the time some went to bed, others got up for their trades.

The stables were mostly occupied, horses of various size and breed that were well taken care of. Working at a Castle stable was usually kind of an honor for a stable boy, so they worked hard and proper, taking good care of the horses as the Castle took good care of them. It appeared that Deirdre wasn't here yet, so I put the knife in my belt and held the sword in my hands, gazing at the gems. It would have been a nice time to just try and focus on it as strongly as I could, but I was interrupted.

"Are you looking for someone, Master?" The voice was very recognizable but I wasn't quite sure.

I turned around and saw a servant that looked strangely familiar. "I'm no master yet, but yes, I am waiting for someone."

The servant smiled, almost grinned. "Are you sure?"

Only then I recognized her... Deirdre! She'd dyed her hair darker and got a hair cut. It was almost boyishly short and with her new clothes, which were surprisingly androgynous. A soft leather, slightly long vest with some dark red fabric below it and long pants that were very practical. It really was difficult to recognize her like this, but she was still quite beautiful. Part of me treasured the timing of this, as her new looks would be very helpful if she came with me to Rockwall.

"Deirdre... I almost didn't recognize you."

She bowed politely. "Thank you, Master, I only live to serve." Her head came back up with a grin.

"Stop it." I smiled. "In fact, I have some interesting news."

She looked curious. "Tell me?"

"No, not here. We'll go to my chambers. After that we're getting some food though." I felt the sword in my hand and just realized what I wanted to do with the knife. "Also, I have an interesting surprise, you'll see."

She looked at me and smiled. "Lead on then."

I nodded and headed into the castle, leading the simple way to the third floor where the student rooms were mostly kept. I knew my room wasn't big, but it was large enough for a bed, a desk and a small room on the side. It could get a bit rich in smell up here, as the student rooms were on the Market side of the castle, but the height made all the difference. At least the air was mostly rich with spices, which wasn't too bad. The single window allowed more than enough light to fill the room and, thanks to a red carpet and some cheap tapestries, colour some of the greyness away. I closed the door behind me after I let Deirdre in.

She looked around with curiosity. "Not bad."

I had to remember that she came from a very different class. "So, what do you think of this knife?" I handed her the knife.

She took it from the sheath and looked at it. "Are those Light and Dark gems?"

I nodded. "The knife is made by one of the teachers here, same as this sword. Metal apparently guides Magic well, and the gems will absorb it, so it will be very difficult to use magic, good or bad, on the knife and the sword. And, as I don't want to use both, the knife could be of use for you."

She looked at it critically, moving it in her hands to feel the balance and the weight of it. She swirled it around easily a few times, quite happy with the result it seemed. "It's a good knife. Whoever made this knew what he was doing."

I smiled. "He does. So, I take it you like it?"

She nodded. "You make it sound like I'm going to use it soon.

"That's the news, I got a another mission."

She blinked as she looked back at me. "Another delivery?"

I nodded. "Yes.. Er... To Rockwall."

She blinked a few more times. "Oh..."

A few seconds passed while she took this all in. "Did you accept it?"

That surprised me. "Not exactly, but I didn't say no and they assumed a yes."

She looked at me intensely. "Why?"

"I want to go, but it's important for me that you agree with it... " I added, mumbling. " And I'd like you to come with me."

She smiled in surprise. "What was that last bit?"

"That I'd like you to come with me, but you don't have to. You can easily stay here, in this room, without anyone bothering you. It's not that uncommon for servants to stay while their masters are away."

Her eyes twinkled with her next answer. "No, I'll go with you. I'm sure we'll think of something when we get there. Besides, I don't want to flee from that place forever."

I looked at her with thankfulness in my eyes. I was glad she didn't get angry at me for even mentioning it. In fact, I had the impression she was almost happy with the way I handled this, giving her an option. Feeling a lot better now, I removed the outer layer of my clothing, the bag and the sword to put them on the bed. Deirdre smiled and put the knife near it as well. Then she looked at me and reached inside of her vest to retrieve a purse with coins. She opened it and gave them to me.

"Here, I only spent three silver."

I blinked. "Eh... thanks. I'd love to find out how you did that some time, three silver for all that..."

She grinned. "It'd be harder for you. I just put on the hurt little servant act that had to get everything for her master really fast. I may have grown up rich, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn some tricks when I was younger." She winked.

I smiled. "You never cease to amaze me. Anyway, let's find some dinner."