A private entry today, as I could use a break from my epic. Besides, it has been quiet since we returned to the Manor.
I expect there will be some excitement down the road. When we returned to the keep with Golshan, Nazarin was waiting for us. He had to shade his eyes against the sun, but his eyes narrowed when they fell on Golshan.
The two obviously new each other. A rather wicked smile, masquerading as sweet, wreathed Golshan’s face. Nazarin shook his head. “Should’ve burned that letter.”
With a laugh, Golshan called him a sweet old man, asking how he had been. He muttered something about how she ruins things. I thought immediately of Sterling’s memories of Golshan and mother sharing a tent, and couldn’t help but wonder if that had “ruined” something Nazarin had, or hoped to have had, with mother…
The clang of hammers and rasp of saws brought us back to the topic at hand. The carpenters were hard at work, and we had received two letters in our absence- one lucrative, and the other urgent. Nazarin also raised one eyebrow as he brought up sightings of goblins in the village.
We were quick to respond. Too quick, of course, and fooled no one. Piotyr tried to defer blame, while I said we had resettled them as long as they repair and maintain the village (Golshan laughing at me)… and Sterling stated they were our early warning system. Nazarin just shook his head, and handed us our letters.
One was a plea from a village, where a beast of some sort had destroyed most of their fields. It was from Karniss, and obviously drafted by the peasants. The second was from Lady Alexandra in Therma. Tradespeople important to the war were going missing- armourers, fletchers, and blacksmiths. She offered us 500 gold pieces to solve the problem, and another 500 to find the lost workers.
After some discussion, we decided to stop by the village on our way to Therma, and we would leave the next day. At that point Golshan intruded, saying that would leave tonight only to do her interviews. My siblings and I glanced at each other. I suspect only Tia and I were familiar with the workings of the Game of Beds.
Golshan holed up in one of the few rooms with standing walls and a stable roof. She was in and out a few times, returning the last time with a steaming kettle.
I climbed up into the rafters and settled next to a sizeable gap in the plaster. I couldn’t see much, but I could hear her humming clearly, so I made laid back along the beam and waited.
I must have dozed a bit, because I woke as a shower of dust fell on my face, dislodged by the door closing below. I covered my nose and held my breath to avert a sneeze.
Marrit’s voice floated back up to me. The questions Golshan asked were broad, but directed. I slipped down from my perch when my own turn came, and quietly climbed back up while Golshan waited for Piotyr to end his conversation with Nazarin about the catacombs and join her for tea.
Most of what my sibling’s said didn’t surprise me. Amuse me, at times, yes. But not surprising. Marrit, though she tries to be humble as becomes a servant of the cheese, still wished to be remembered for improving the lives of the common citizen. She did not seek marriage, but she also did not object.
Piotyr, as the head of our noble House, would marry for the family’s greater good and to carry on our line. He hoped for a strong woman, decisive, with a good reputation and connections… and child-bearing hips.
Natsuko’s answers did surprise me a little, mostly because of how similar they were to my own. She is quiet, even somewhat reclusive, spending much of her time talking to her sword. (My siblings seem to have their share of odd behaviours.) There were many differences, of course; she isn’t as… ‘free-spirited’ as I was. But she does not wish to now, valuing her independence as much as I value my own. If she were to marry, she would prefer an independent man who would join us or remain at the Manor. Her preferences in a mate differed markedly from my own, as she wanted someone with whom she was personally compatible. A person who was funny, steady, and competent. It’s odd, actually, that my siblings were so concerned about how their match might suit them, personally. Their concept of marriage, its purpose, and its value differs so much from my own.
Sterling has a bit of a checkered past… the implication being that he seduced women and visited brothels only as part of his ‘missions’. I wonder if he hasn’t had a personal relationship at some time in the past. As heir, he understood his duty; he would marry to help the family. His commitment to the family was expected, but I wasn’t aware of how strongly protective he was, and his willing to do anything, give up anything, to protect us.
As Tia entered the room, I found myself leaning hopefully towards the gap in the plaster. What would she say? How closely did her desires and plans match my own?
I was disappointed when all I heard was continuous flatulence. I sat back, annoyed. Obviously there was some magic involved here. Golshan must suspect someone was eavesdropping. I waited for a few minutes to see if the covering noises would stop, without luck. With a sigh, I swung down, and went in search of some of my siblings.