We did end up in town. But not in the inn. It was not that late yet, so getting into town was no problem. But staying in the inn was asking for trouble. We went to the people from Stonesthrow. After asking for some help and one of them retrieving the last few things from the inn, we were welcome to stay. It wasn't very comfortable. The horses stayed, equally uncomfortable, outside of the houses. It wasn't too cold at night yet, but they had little straw to offer them. I just hoped it was enough.
The night came and passed with no dreams.
I was only partly glad for it. Though no dream meant less confusion, it also meant that the dream would probably come tomorrow when we were out of the city again. I stood up before Deidre, we'd slept in our clothes, and talked to the smith. To my joy he said he was well underway of getting on his feet again with his trade and how the gold had helped him. And that it would not take more than a week to complete what I asked of him. We shook hands firmly.
I massaged mine afterwards.
To be honest, all of this happened more or less in a haze. Our travel through the woods, talking to the people. Even talking to the smith. Color returned to the world when I woke Deirdre. When I saw her face, fluttering eyes looking at me, smiling. The sun finally felt warm this morning.
"It should be early enough. We might have to wait in the castle, but we should be out of the city soon."
She nodded and leaned forward to kiss me. "We'll be alright."
Then she surprised me by handing me something. It was a tool not unlike the one I handed the forest creatures the day before yesterday. "Check the room next to the Master."
I frowned. "Why?"
She sighed. "I dreamed."
I looked at the tool in my hand. "Why do you have this?"
She smiled. "I bought a few, they will be useful."
I grinned. "You're way too clever sometimes." I winked.
She nodded, got up and giggled teasingly. "I know."
She got ready. We got breakfast of them. Just a few loaves of bread but it was enough. Some water washed them down and we walked towards the castle, horses at our sides. It gave us some time to talk in private, mostly.
"So, what did you dream?"
Deirdre frowned. "It was fragmented, but I saw a small bird cage and two fairies in them. They looked almost dead. Something sparkly was set in the top of the cage."
"And you think it's in the room next to the master?"
She nodded. "I know the castle."
I trusted her. "I'll try and have a look, but this is a really dangerous game we're playing."
She nodded again. "It's early."
"I hope we are."
We arrived at the castle after just a few more minutes. Deirdre took care of the horses and with no more than a glance I headed into the castle.
The corridors were mostly empty. It really was early. In fact, even the Masters room didn't feel occupied. I wanted to check next to it at first though. In the worst scenario I'd just say I'd have the wrong room. As this wasn't my castle it was a decent excuse. People make mistakes after all.
I knocked on the door and after no reply gently opened it. It was a chaotic study room. Maps, books and tools lay scattered on every surface, even the floor. And, in front of the window, was the cage that Deirdre described. Empty. No crystal, no fairies. I could hardly even feel traces of magic around it. With the background of magic in the Castle it was impossible to say if anything had been in there lately. It was clean inside.
"Good morning, looking for something?" An old voice made me turn around.
I turned to see a much older man than yesterday stand in the doorway. I was fortunate enough to to have stepped too far into the room. "Eh, yes, a Master."
The man blinked. "Ah, the messenger. One room to far, lad."
I blushed in earnest as best as I could. "Thank you."
He smiled and let me pass and headed in himself. For a moment to catch my breath. I had been fairly lucky, had I been much further in the room it would have been really suspicious. Now it just looked like an accident. It really was a bad idea to try anything more. I headed to the Master's room and knocked.
As I did I noticed they'd been busy on one of the desk. Something gleaming in the morning light made me glance twice. A fairy wing. Translucent, almost transparent. Shimmering with just a hint of color. I tried to look away as fast as I could but I was sure the Master had seen it. I bowed politely and spoke gently.
"Good morning, Master."
"Good morning, Tarin was it?"
"Ah yes, well the messages are ready, I hope you and your horses are well rested." He handled me a bundle of scrolls, five on a quick count, and two normal letters. I neatly placed them into my bag and bowed again. The master nodded as I turned around but stopped me just before I left the room.
"You wouldn't know anything about trouble at the Dark Castle, would you?"
"This is my first time in Rockwall, Master. I don't know anyone here."
He just nodded. "Just asking. There's gossip among the students, but they rarely tell the Masters."
I smiled kindly. "I don't know any of the students either."
"I thought as much. Good luck. Oh, the north road has been washed away. Some heavy rainfall near the cliffs caused a major rock-slide. It's probably not safe. I don't know if it matters, I heard you go through the forest?"
"Yes, it's faster."
"Good, on your way."
With a nod I left the room.