Sarah had to clutch her hat tightly as they left the Pairents’ house. A strong wind, smelling of salt, whipped about them. Even the sky seemed foreboding as dark storm clouds gathered above Verdas. Sarah hoped someone would move Jason from under the Willow into a shelter before the storm reached him.
“Come child,” the Grand-Moyther called to her. “It is not far.”
Trudging against the wind the two women made their way to the large house.
“We’re not going back to Lady Abigail’s?” Sarah asked.
“No, there are a few things that need to be set in place first,” Grand-Moyther Magdalene responded. “Till then you will be staying with Sir Merlin and Madam Vivian.”
Stumbling as she heard the names, Sarah wondered if the Gods had been looking through random bits of history on her world. “Sir Merlin is a Knight?” Sarah asked dredging up the information that Lady Abigail had drilled into her brain.
“He is the Knight Commander to be exact,” Grand-Moyther Magdalene informed her. “Leader of the Knights as I am leader of the Moythers. Madame Vivian is his wife. She will be helping to coordinate your Betrothal ceremony with the help of Sir Merlin. They well stand in place of your parents.”
Sarah stopped as the Grand Moyther stepped up to the door. “Wait, if I understand rank properly, aren’t they technically of a higher rank than Jason?”
The Grand-Moyther stopped just before her hand knocked. She turned to face Sarah. “The Gods confer honor upon those they feel deserve it. You are correct that as Sergeant Phoenix the Knight Commander does indeed rank above him, though as Lordling Jason, he is closer in rank.”
Sarah blinked in confusion and the Grand-Moyther smiled.
“Thankfully not many lead the dual life as Lord Phoenix does.”
Turning back to the door Grand-Moyther Magdalene used the wrought iron doorknocker to announce their presence. A loud thud echoed inside and it wasn’t long before the door was thrown open revealing a disheveled woman. Her raven hair escaped every which way from her cap and she looked pleadingly at the Grand-Moyther.
“Surely there is someplace else you could have him stay?” the woman begged. “My children are all grown and gone and he is at the stage I had the most trouble with.”
“Who?” Sarah asked. It was hard not to feel sympathy towards the middle-aged woman.
“Now Madame Vi...”
But the Grand-Moyther’s words were cut off as a child suddenly squealed.
Ryan barreled past Madame Vivian and leapt into Sarah’s arms. It was only basic instinct that allowed her to catch him without toppling backwards.
“Ryan!” She returned his hug. “What in heaven’s name are you doing here?”
“You know him?” Madam Vivian asked, sighing with relief.
“I told you I was going to be here for your betrothal and I figured enough time had passed and I didn’t want to miss it. And,” his face became serious, “well I tried to travel by Willow, but the Gods made me do something first before they let me come here.” Ryan shuddered. “I am in time right?” He looked at her in all seriousness. “You and Phoenix aren’t betrothed yet? I didn’t miss it?”
Sarah laughed, “Ryan really, you can slow down.”
“But I didn’t miss it?” he looked at her hopefully.
“No, you haven’t missed it, but you ought to be nicer to your hostess,” Sarah chided. “She’s not your mother and you’ve gone and frazzled her.”
Ryan looked at Madame Vivian. “That’s frazzled?” Sarah had to let him go as the boy wriggled down to take Madame Vivian into the biggest hug he could. “I’m sorry,” he apologized with all his heart. “I didn’t mean to frazzle you, I was just so scared I’d missed it when I promised I’d be here and...”
“Ryan, slow down,” Sarah chuckled.
“Th, thank you child.” Madame Vivian tentatively hugged Ryan back.
“Can I give her the tour?” Ryan asked looking up at Madame Vivian. “Please, please? I know she’s never been in a Knight’s house before.” He looked back at Sarah. “You haven’t right?” Sarah shook her head and he grabbed hold of Sarah’s hand before turning once again to the bewildered woman. “Pleeeease?"
“Yes, of course,” Madame Vivian sighed wearily.
“You can show her where’s she’s sleeping too,” Grand-Moyther Magdalene called after them as Ryan dragged Sarah into the foyer.