Part III: Company
Yor sat on the bed in the guestroom when he successfully pulled himself out of the dream. Memories of it still remained, though, as if the images were engraved in his mind. He frowned. The dream was different this time. Sure, it was a part of his childhood – the part about him going to the wishing well – but, he had no memory of seeing the lady in the well and neither had he dreamt of one before.
Yor pondered over this new dream for a while. Nothing came to his mind that could explain the unusual phenomenon.
At last, he shrugged to himself and gave it up. He decided that it was time for him to get up, anyway; he had promised his hosts that he would aid them in the preparation for the Spring Festival next week. It was a chief event in the entire kingdom of Aloris, it seemed.
He slipped out of his bed and looked around. He found his Magic belt on the table beside him and put it on. He walked out of the room.
In the kitchen, he could see a large cooking pot on the hearth. Alia was standing to the side, cutting vegetables with a sharp-looking knife. She seemed to have sensed his presence behind her, for she abruptly turned around. Upon spotting him, she smiled.
“Yor, you’re awake! Come here, will you? Now, I know this is too much to ask of you, but, will you please help me for a bit?”
Yor took a step forward with a grin. “Oh, it’s not a trouble at all, my lady!” he cried. “Please, tell me what I can do to make myself useful around here.”
“Ah, such modesty!” sighed Alia. “All right. Please feed the chickens. John and Mike have gone to the market place to buy some last-minute items for the festival, and Jim has gone to get more firewood.”
“Definitely, my lady!” said Yor, giving a short bow.
For almost a week now, he had been feeling quite useless around the house, thus feeling an unnecessary burden to his hosts; so, he had taken to travelling around the country. But now, with the Spring Festival right around the corner, he found an opportunity to be more useful.
Yor turned around and went out the kitchen door.
He had watched John and Jim feeding the hens before – they had even let him have a go at it once. Hence, he was quite confident of success. It took time, though – a lot of it. The chickens kept running away from him the moment he started approaching them!
Finally, he stopping chasing them and instead, spread the grain onto the ground. He pretended not to mind the chickens, which were watching him in great curiosity and wondering why he wasn’t running behind them anymore. When he was satisfied, Yor turned away and headed back inside the kitchen. Then, he set the tin aside, settled at the window, careful enough to stay hidden from the outside, and sat watching.
The chickens at first did not budge. They stared fixedly at the kitchen door. It was only when the largest of them all began walking towards where the grain was spread on the ground that the others followed him.
“What’s the matter?”
Yor turned around to see Alia smiling uo at him with an odd expression on her face. He sighed.
“They wouldn’t let me come near them,” he explained, “so I spread the grain on the ground, hoping they’ll eventually come to their senses and have their breakfast.”
Alia laughed heartily at this. “I understand. I remember the first time Mike was feeding them—h got so frustrated in the end, he resolved never to try and feed them again! Of course, they eventually learnt to trust him, so the problem was resolved.”
“Is that so?” enquired Yor, turning back to see the chickens devouring hungrily on the grain. He smirked at that.
“Indeed,” replied Alia. “They should have been fed an hour ago, though, but the boys did not have the time – the market would get more crowded the later they went.”
Yor nodded. “I see what you mean.”
Just then, the sound of a horse cart came to his ears.
Alia smiled in recognition. “There, that’s them coming back! Come, Yor, let’s go greet them!”
The two of them went out of the kitchen.
“Alia, we’re back!”
Yor saw his host standing inside the threshold, beaming at his pretty wife. Jim and Mike were standing on either side of him with enormous grins on their faces.
John went on: “We brought the firewood, which we placed outside, but there is another surprise waiting for you, my dear.”
Alia moved towards him, face lit up in an eager smile. “What is it, my love?” she asked.
“Well,” replied John. He turned towards the front door and called out, “You may come in now, sweetheart.”
As she craned her neck to see outside, Yor noticed Alia’s eyes growing wide in recognition.
’I wonder who it is,’ he thought.
Then, he spotted a green skirt thrust into the doorway. His eyes trailed up it, till it spotted a feminine face peering in bashfully. She had a heart-shaped face with red hair, a soft pair of eyes, a smooth, soft nose, and a small chin. As his gaze reached her eyes, he realised that she was staring right at him.
At once, he was struck with a sense of deja-vu: It was the lady he had seen in the dream he had had just the night before!