Chapter 10 - Part 1

With the dawn of the new week, the six of them were sat around their usual table, having eaten their bread, where they now awaited the arrival of their daily visitor. As they waited, they spoke among themselves; Alyxandra smiled at Alceren, and when he detected it, he smiled back - through wordless communication, they remembered their speech the night before, their eyes showing a glimmer of the comfort they felt now. Having shared this smile for a few seconds, Alyxandra turned to Aveyna and began to speak with her, while Yvellen, despite her protest, determined to tell her every amusing story he could possible remember.

Telthar’rion brought with him his usual silence; he shifted his gaze little, looking nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Aveyna turned for a moment from her conversation with Alyxandra to follow the pathway of his sight and, finding it led her to nowhere in particular, stood up and walked to the tavern door, turned, and looked into the small looking-glass on the wall, playing with her hair, pretending that she had been looking for it all along. With his gaze still visible in the looking-glass, she continued to maneuver several strands of hair, unhappy with their mutiny with the rest of it - they had fallen out of her plait and she now hurriedly, truthfully tried to neaten them.

As she did so, she began to think on her face, tempted for a moment by a shadow of vanity. Her strange eyes, brown on red, stared back, frightened of their user’s judgements. Aveyna continued to look into the looking-glass, noticing Aranaytha still sat at the table, laughing, her rich hair framing her face in a flattering manner, seemingly effortlessly, her eyes alight with confidence, her smile delicate. A hint of jealousy entered Aveyna’s eyes, when Aranaytha stood up and walked to where Aveyna was standing, slipping between the counter and Aveyna herself. Beginning to primp and preen herself, she said, perhaps thoughtlessly, perhaps even with a hint of sarcasm,

“Could you move back from the mirror, Aveyna? You’re taking up valuable space for those who could actually benefit from using it!” Aveyna, fearing that her voice would be broken if she tried to speak, simply nodded and made her way as gracefully as she could manage, to her seat. She found that she had no time to be disheartened, for no sooner had she done so did the tavern door open. In came the visitor for whom they had been waiting, clutching a rolled page of parchment to his chest, his face redder than usual, breathing heavily. He went to the table, subtly bowing his head and muttering,

“Lord Alceren, from my instructions, I can only imagine the urgency of this missive - I would ask you to take this into account.”

“I understand, thank you, Markus,” Alceren smiled, before adding, “you are free to go.” Markus smiled, nodded his head slowly, before asking Rupert for some water, a request to which he happily obliged. Having refreshed himself, he nodded again, before departing the inn, leaving Alceren to read the letter he had been sent. Aveyna came and sat by him, as she always did, awaiting his deliverance of the message’s contents.

The smile that Alceren wore now faded, his eyes losing for a moment that comfort which Alyxandra had granted him. Inhaling deeply, he licked his lips, and said, “I have been called to Valston to assist with her defense. But I must go alone.”

The End

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