Chapter 5 – Goodbyes

The sounds of rustling woke Kithri from her deep wine induced slumber. It had been a while since she had slept that good. Perhaps it would be wise to have wine every night before bed, she reasoned.

 

Opening her eyes was another bit of a challenge and she couldn’t understand why her topknot felt like it weighed twenty stones.  

 

“What are you doing?” the halfling, finally finding her words, asked Valna. “Are we going somewhere?”

 

Valna’s quick hands were packing items in pouches and bags with little hesitation.

 

“Oh, bring that – “ Kithri began, snapping Valna out of her reverie.

 

“Why would I bring this, it holds nothing but sentimental value,” Valna shook her head, setting it aside.

 

“Well, it’s pretty,” Kithri’s eyes glittered, “and sparkly. You never know when it might come of use.”

 

Valna turned on the halfling, “It’s a rock, it will only take space in the pack needed for medicinal herbs or food rations or…”

 

“You never know when it might come in handy,” Kithri interrupted, sitting up. “You didn’t answer me, where are we going?”

 

“We have to leave before light, we have an urgent message to deliver,” Valna stated, guarded.

 

“All right,” the halfling said happily, stuffing almost everything she owned into pouches with little regard of exactly what they were, or which pouch they ended up in.

 

It didn’t matter where they were going, so long as they were starting out on a new journey. One night in the same place tended to do one of two things to Kithri: make her restless and make others upset with her – she didn’t know why.

 

“Well, I’m already packed,” she smiled. “We have time for breakfast before we leave,” the exuberant halfling announced, rather than asked, pulling on a fresh tunic and her boots and padding silently to the common area.

 

No answer followed her.

 

“Morning, Mr. Thistlepatch,” Kithri sang, skipping towards the hearth to see exactly what they were having for breakfast.

 

“Morning, my dear Lady Sandstone,” Aelar replied, flour already up to his elbows.

 

Such greeting had become the norm between the strange family when they were all together, ever since Kithri had been adopted into the Thistlepatch House. It was during a dark time for the Marshland Halflings, their lands were overtaken and burned by a band ruthless orcs set on mindless destruction. Many halfling lives were lost, the others forced to roam homeless until stumbling upon Elmwood, where a few families now made their home. Kithri had been but a child at the time, and Aelar fell in love with the prospect of having a playmate for his lonely daughter.

 

“It’s hot!” Kithri exclaimed, pulling her hand away and flinging the ladle across the room. The bubbling cinnamon porridge in the earthenware pot had drawn her in.

 

Chuckling, Aelar merely shook his head and sighed.

 

“Morning, Father,” Valna greeted, entering the common room.

 

“I do wish you would be able to stay later,” Aelar replied, noting the pack and pouches his daughter placed by the doorway, along with her weapons and armor.

 

Valna didn’t respond immediately, pouring a bow of porridge for her and Kithri, before sitting down.

 

“I do what the council asks, Father,” she frowned into her morning meal.

 

Kithri quickly ate her porridge and a second bowl before running out of the common room to her bedchamber. If Valna was bringing weapons and armor, she had better make sure to do the same, she thought.

 

She pulled on her leather armor over her tunic - damned but it was heavy – and made sure that her pouch of sling bullets were tied on securely.

 

“Don’t want to lose them like last time,” she muttered to herself, “what a mix-up it caused when…” the sound of raised voices in the background caused her a only a momentary pause, before she tied her sling to her belt and attached both her dagger and short sword.

 

Hefting her hand crossbow, Kithri unwittingly interrupted the conversation that was escalating in the common room. Looking from a red faced Aelar to a near-tearful Valna and back again, only one thing weighed on the halfling’s mind.

 

“Do we have any journeybread for this trip? It always keeps me nice and full so that I don’t have to eat so many times when I should be drawing out the maps and…”

 

“I love you, Father, we should be on our way,” Valna said, not ungrateful for the interruption this time.

 

“When will I see you again,” he asked, reaching for his daughter’s hand.

 

Valna shook her head and donned her leather armor, attaching both her short sword and longsword to her belt. She slipped her dagger into the sheath at the small of her back and hoisted her quiver of arrows.

 

“Goodbye, Father,” was her reply.

 

“See you soon, Mr. Thistlepatch,” Kithri called cheerily from outside.

The End

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