He slowly opened his eyes, waking to his dim room. It was morning. The muffled sounds of laughter echoed up the stairs and was the first noise to greet him. He smiled to himself, heaving his heavy body out of the bed, and sluggishly making his way to the windows. He slid back the curtains, letting the sunlight shine upon his face and rid him of any last spells of drowsiness. It was another day.
Lorna and Selinia were sitting on the kitchen floor, preparing the last breakfast plate when he finally made his appearance, sporting morning breath and unruly bed hair.
“Great Holy Gods!” Lorna squealed, jumping back as she saw her husband’s rugged appearance. “What demons did you fight in your sleep?”
He slyly reached for a slice of toast in the plate beneath Lorna, before beginning to speak. “I think I’ll have to stop drinking soon.”
His announcement caused his wife to gasp in amazement. “Chartan’s pub veteran no longer wishing to drink?! What nonsense am I hearing? Am I imagining things?” She turned to Selinia. “Has the ale affected me too my dear?”
Selinia attempted a smile, as she carried the large kettle over to Lorna. A dead weight fixed to her arm. “I am afraid you heard correctly. Mr Cordith said just that, though I‘m not too sure how long he will stick to his words.”
“Very true.” Lorna gave the girl a warm smile, before lightly nudging her husband. “Look at the doll. A bloody saint ain‘t she? Been helping me out since the crack of dawn. Unlike you.”
Lorna busied herself with the plates and laid them out on the wooden table in the centre of the kitchen. The table looked pitiful compared to the feast they gave the girl the day before. Where twenty plates once sat, now only three. One of bread, another of bacon scraps, the last a saucer filled with olives.
Once the prayer was said and a traditional candle lit, they commenced the meal. Perhaps it was the shame of not being able to provide a larger meal, or possibly the embarrassment of intrusion that caused both parties involved to not speak for a good ten minutes, heads buried towards their plates; a mutual understanding between the guest and the host.
Slicing the irritable silence, a rattle came from the front door.
A parchment sliding its way through and fluttering to the floor.
“I’ll get it.” Lorna said, hopping up from her seat. She came back within seconds, unravelling the folded edges. “I may need my reading spectacles. Selinia, go upstairs and get them for me.”
“Don’t bother. Give it to me.” Rob reached for the parchment, his next line said in to a joking manner. “If only your eyes worked as well as your mouth.”
He looked at it once. Twice. No, he was sure he read correctly.
He looked up towards his wife and smiled.
“Lorna, what great luck this girl has brought to our house!” He reached for his wife’s hand, and squeezed it tightly. Hoping he could convey his emotions to her. “Our son is coming home, Lorna. The army is no longer needed in the foreign cities. The mythical creatures are retreating! He should be back within a month!”
“Great Holy Gods,” Lorna exclaimed.
Selinia looked at the two of them, analysing the situation. “I suppose I would be a hindrance, now you have yet another mouth to feed.”
“Silence girl,” Lorna snapped instantly. “I will hear nothing of you moving out. My child, you seem to be a good luck charm. Worthy of the name Selinia. Just a day after your arrival and such good news has come this way.”
As the two of them exchanged stories of past joy, Selinia sat motionless. They retreated?