Sarah watched as Sir Arthur strode off in the direction they’d come from. When she turned back to the door, there had still been no response. She knocked again and waited. The wind had picked up, carrying with it an unfamiliar salty smell. Two more times Sarah had to knock before someone answered.
“Can I help you child?” a grandmotherly woman in white asked.
“Um, yeah,” Sarah blinked as she had to rein in her wandering thoughts. “King Demetrioso told me you were expecting me and...” Sarah trailed off as a white light pulsed around the woman.
“Ah Lady Phoenix, of course, I had forgotten you would be showing up in the guise of a Hopeful. Come in Child, come in.”
The woman held the door open for Sarah and she stepped into a small foyer. To her left was a living room, or parlor she supposed they called them here, and to her right there looked to be a kitchen, given the table that Sarah could see though the open door.
“Mistress Laura,” the elderly woman called into the kitchen area.
“Yes Grand-Moyther?” a young woman’s voice replied.
“Is Lady Phoenix’s bath ready?”
“Just adding the last bit of hot water now,” was the response.
Sarah heard the sound of water splashing into the tub. “A bath?” she asked, following the Grand-Moyther into what was indeed the kitchen. “For me?”
“Of course.” The woman smiled at her. “I imagine you haven’t had a good wash since you went to the Training Barracks.”
“Do you need me to wash what she’s wearing?” a deeply tanned woman in ecru studied Sarah a bit startled. “I don’t think it would dry in time for her to put it back on though.”
“Oh that is true.” Grand-Moyther Magdalene looked at Sarah.
Gazing longingly at the water, Sarah could see steam rising from it. “Lady Abigail doesn’t live far from here does she?” She looked up. “She would have the things I borrowed from Griffon.” The two women looked at her puzzled. “You know skirts and jackets that had belonged to his daughter.”
“Of course,” the Grand-Moyther smiled. “Yes, I think that would be best. You know where Lady Abigail lives, Mistress Laura?”
“Oh yes, my sister trained with her a few years ago.” Mistress Laura nodded and she hurriedly left.
“Don’t forget to let Grand-Fayther Jesus know he should not disturb us until the curtains are undrawn.”
“Yes Grand-Moyther,” Laura called back just before the front door shut.
“Now go on and strip,” the Grand-Moyther encouraged Sarah. “I’ll help you get some of the grit off. At least your hair shouldn’t be hard to clean.”
“No, that is true,” Sarah smiled slightly as she began to peel off her layers of clothing.
Blood spatters mottled her leather armor and Sarah pushed back thoughts of the battle. If she’d killed anyone she didn’t want to remember. She presumed she didn’t need to give the armor back since Jason had indicated, long ago, that armor did not need returning. Her sword, on the other hand should have been, but she hadn’t seen it since that night. The Scouts must have taken it, she thought to herself as she touched the water with her foot.
A brown cloud appeared in the tub.
“Yuk!” Sarah frowned as she pulled her foot out.
“Is it not hot enough?” The Grand-Moyther asked curiously as Sarah began ladling the water back into the caldron it’d come from.
“No," Sarah shook her head. "But I won’t get clean if the water's dirty, so I’ll take what my parents used to call a spit bath.”
“That sounds a bit unpleasant.”
Sarah moved the tub closer to the cauldron before getting into it. “Well you use water instead of spit,” she began to wash her face, “and you can use soap too.”
Laughing the Grand-Moyther handed her a bar. Sarah wet the soap then proceeded to scrub herself from head to toe. The Grand-Moyther helped with her back. Once there was a nice layer of lather on her skin, Sarah began to ladle water over herself, washing the suds away. As she did so nicks and cuts and bruises that she didn’t even know she had became apparent.
The place where the dagger had gone into her thigh was red and swollen. Sarah winced slightly as she scrubbed it more diligently. She winced again as the Grand-Moyther scrubbed her back.
“Your new wound has aggravated the old one,” the woman stated as her touch became gentler. “Still it is healing better than I expected. There is one at the base of your neck too.”
“There is?” Sarah used her fingers to examine the area. Sure enough, there was one there.
“I remember the one on your shoulder blade, as I took the dagger out myself. The one on your leg is from your most recent encounter, but when did you obtain the third one?”
“I think it was a dart,” Sarah stated, carefully rinsing her feet as she stepped out of the tub. “You’d have to ask Jay though as I all I remember is a sharp pain and passing out.”
“When did it happen child?”
“Um,” Sarah had to think hard. “It was on the way back from Azure, while I was with Phoenix troop.”
“Ah,” but before the woman could say more there came a knock upon the door.