The heart of the eternal

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Chapter 8: So much to learn...

Sefa clicked her tongue. “Aii, not good, but you are safe here. We have many warriors with us and you should not be afraid. Rest now, there will be new clothes soon”

Wenja did lay down, the bed was wide and warm and soft too and she had never lain in anything that luxurious in all her life. The blankets were made from wool and some were furs so silky she couldn’t believe it. Sefa did tuck her inn and smiled, stroking her hair. “I will wake you up in a few hours”

Wenja wasn’t so sure she could sleep now but before many minutes were gone she was fast asleep and Sefa sighed and looked down at her with some amount of pity. The girl was so innocent, so naïve and she was probably a capable worker but now she would face a whole new world. Sefa hoped that this wouldn’t break her but make her stronger. She went outside and sat down on the stairs, Rhawan sauntered by and stopped, greeting Sefa with a small smirk. “So, what do you think?”

Sefa shrugged. “She is as vulnerable as roses on a frosty night Rhawan, such a beautiful soul but so unprepared for what she is to face.”

Rhawan nodded. “ I know, she is exquisite but knows way too little about the world. You will have to teach her well”

Sefa grinned. “Oh I will, I will start tonight already. But the things Thokan spoke off, the mad man?”

Rhawan did grunt. “Oh yes, the piece of scum. We will leave already tomorrow morning, just to put some space between us and that piece of worthless shit. I will stay close at all times Sefa and should he show up rest assure that it will be the very last thing that he does”

Sefa mumbled. “Bless you Rhawan, I have seen my fair share of jealous men convinced of their own right to rule and possess. It is never pretty”

Rhawan nodded slowly. “Human males are so primitive, I cannot understand them at all”

Sefa had to snicker. “Oh you are not the only one, believe me.”

Rhawan did lean onto the wagon. “We have sent the gifts for her family, and those for the village too. I have rarely seen such poverty, I am sure that Ahravan will love spoiling her, she has lived such a hard life until now”

Sefa crossed her legs. “Really, she deserves it. I can see how she has toiled, her hands are worn and her shoulders wide”

Rhawan smiled. “I better go and check on the horses, everything has to be ready at first sunlight.”

Sefa just waved her hand and he left, she sat there and sighed. Teaching Wenja the things she needed to know would be tough indeed. She hadn’t said anything about it but her main job was to prepare the girl for her life as a married woman, if Sefa knew these valley dwellers right the girl could be completely ignorant when it came to the facts of life and what sex really was. She would most likely know the basics, having seen animals mate, but there was so much more to it when it came to people and she feared that the girl could be of those who had been taught that her place was on her back under her husband and that she ought to be passive and frigid. If that was the case Sefa would have a monumental task ahead of her, no doubt about that. She went back inside, Wenja was fast asleep so she laid down too, to rest and prepare herself for the task ahead. Wenja had probably never had real friends, that was something which could be exploited.

Wenja slept for three hours, then Sefa woke her up and made her put on a new cloak and some warm boots before they went to the bath house. Only larger villages had such a thing, and Wenja had only heard of them but never really learned what a bathhouse was. The building was built on the edge of the village and there was some distance to the other houses. It was a wide building made from notched lumber and it was solid with several hearths and some large containers which held water. There were ovens beneath the containers and the water was being kept warm at all times. Several large tubs carved from rock were placed on the floor and some screens put up around them so people could have some privacy. Wenja gasped as she entered. The hearths had been lighted early that morning and the room was very warm, steam filled it and Sefa took her over to a small room where she was told to get undressed. Wenja hesitated, she had never been naked with anyone else present and she sort of refused until Sefa too got rid of her clothes. Nefhriel and Theka were already there and both had taken off their dresses and walked around in their shifts. Wenja felt terribly self-conscious and Sefa sighed and grasped her hand. “Don’t look like a lamb being hauled off to the slaughter, nobody is gonna harm you, and don’t be so shy. Bodies are natural, we all have one you know!”

Wenja whimpered and Sefa sort of pushed her into one of the small rooms, the tub was ready and filled with warm water and it was perfumed! The scent of lavender and soap rather strong. Wenja blinked, she saw that Nefhriel and Theka were waiting on the other side of the screen and she felt a little better with only Sefa there. She stepped into the tub, very carefully and Sefa tilted her head. “You have a wonderful body dear, such an elegant shape but Imh is right, you are too thin.”

Wenja gasped for the water was rather hot but it felt good too, it did most definitely bring the heat back into her bones. She sat down and Sefa did pour water into her hair. Now the two others did enter the small room and Nefhriel started massaging her scalp with soaps and Theka rubbed her skin clean while Sefa did file her nails and remove hard skin. Wenja felt like a price horse before an auction and Nefhriel did make her stand up after a while. The elf did smear some sort of pinkish ointment onto Wenja’s skin under her arms and in her groin and the girl did blush furiously. Sefa nodded. “It is needed dear, it removes hair, it is tradition.”

It did sting a bit and Wenja was glad when she could sit down again. The ointment was washed off and now she was as hairless as the day she was born, it made her cringe a bit. Then her hair was washed yet again and they put oils in it and combed it and Sefa did even cut it a little. Nefhriel did cock her head. “Your hair is very lovely, such a rare colour. Have you ever cut it?”

Wenja shook her head. “No, never”

Theka grinned. “Good, when you reach the capital it will be like satin, believe me”

They rubbed her skin with something which smelled good and then she was taken out of the small room and shoved into another room. Theka was ready with some clothes and Wenja got utterly confused right away. She had never worn smallclothes before and the items Theka did lift off the bench were so thin and elegant and they were embroidered and so lovely. Theka smiled. “You have never worn anything under your skirts now have you? These are underpants, you wear them closest to your skin”

Wenja put them on, they were so light and the fabric so incredibly soft. Suddenly she felt a bit silly, and very feminine somehow. The next thing she was handed was a small shirt with no sleeves and it had a ribbon sewn into it underneath the breasts and it could be tightened. Wenja stood there and let the women dress her like a doll, she felt like crying for when had she ever worn anything that lovely? A sort of shift went over the underpants and then she had to put on a thin gown with long sleeves and the real dress went on top of that. It was deep green with a very lovely pattern of embroidered vines along the chest line and the skirt. She got a belt made from light brown leather and Sefa did braid her hair and when they were done she got a set of long stockings pulled on, they were attached to the thigh with ribbons and she got the boots back on and could leave. She felt like a new person and Sefa did smile. “You look like a noble woman now dear, and soon you will outshine everyone. “

Wenja tried to smile, moving with that many clothes on felt odd and she had to turn around to really see how the dress looked. Theka did smile. “You will get used to it, this is a very simple gown.”

She got her cloak on and they returned to the wagon and Theka and Nefhriel did bid her a good evening. Imh had already been there leaving more food, bread and cheese this time and a jug of wine and Wenja did moan. If she was to eat that much she would end up looking like a overfed dog before they reached their destination. Sefa sat down with her after having showed her the closets and what they contained. Wenja couldn’t imagine that everything was hers. Sefa smiled and did show her also some jewellery which was hers to have and some very nice combs to hold her hair up. They did eat a little and Sefa did sit down on the bed with her legs crossed and tilted her head. “I bet there are many things you wonder about, do not be afraid to ask. There is no thing called a silly question from now on”

Wenja swallowed hard. “Do you know him, Ahravan?”

Sefa nodded. “Yes, I do know him rather well. He is very kind, a bit quiet and not a very cheerful person but there isn’t a mean bone in him”

Wenja looked down, her fingers fidgeting with her sleeve. “I am…I am a bit scared!”

Sefa sighed. “That is understandable but consider this, being the wife of an elf does bring great benefits for you, also physically”

Wenja frowned. “Ha? How come?”

Sefa snickered. “You will live much longer than otherwise, at least as long as you are still intimate.”

Wenja went beet red and Sefa sort of sighed. “Listen, there is no shame in enjoying the joys of the flesh, whenever you join he will share a little of his strength with you. It is a blessing Wenja, and one I do hope you will be able to enjoy fully”

Wenja sort of squeaked. “I…What if…what if he doesn’t like me?”

Sefa did pull her shawl tighter around herself. “Oh he will, believe me. For some reason elven males do find female humans irresistible. It has to do something with our body shape, we have real breasts and hips and an elves female will only have breasts when she is pregnant or nursing.”

Wenja gaped. “Is that true?”

Sefa nodded with a wry grin. “Oh yes, to them a human female is very alluring, you don’t have to worry at all Wenja, he will desire you”

Wenja cringed. “I…”

Sefa ignored the small squeak and tilted her head. “I bet your mother has lost children right?”

Wenja nodded. “Yes, several, some at birth and two lived for a few months but died suddenly”

Sefa took her hand. “Wenja, what if I told you that this never will happen to you? That you never will face that grief?”

Wenja looked shocked, and confused. “How is that possible?”

Sefa made a grimace. “You see, there is no such thing as a half elf, other races can produce hybrids but elves cannot. A child born of a human mother and an elven father will be an elf, a child born of an elven mother and a human father will be human”

Wenja blinked, a strange feeling of relief rushed through her. “Is that true?”

Sefa nodded. “Yes, very true. So any child you give him will be eternal as you put it. Marriages between male elves and female humans aren’t that unusual”

Wenja frowned, her face revealed her curiosity, this was so new to her. “But the other way around?”

Sefa shrugged. “Not unheard off but very rare, few elven females will risk bearing children they one day will have to watch die from old age”

Wenja nodded. “I understand that”

Sefa sent Wenja a wry grin. “Also, eternal or elves can control their bodies way better than humans, you won’t have to bear any children before you are good and ready for it. He will be able to decide whether or not his seed will be fertile.”

Wenja blushed again, she felt both hot and cold, the very idea of that sort of thing…

Sefa leaned against the wall of the wagon, her expression a bit roguish. “Many women do wish for an elven husband, they are way better than human males in almost every way, but few dare to take that step though. Even with the effect of slowed aging you will one day become old and he will still be young and beautiful.”

Wenja swallowed. “How much older than normal can one become in that way?”

Sefa shrugged. “Depends on the individual, but it isn’t unusual to live for at least three hundred years. I have heard of one who lived until she was four hundred but I am not so sure that it is true.”

Wenja gasped. “Three hundred? How old did his first wife get?”

Sefa looked down. “Only one hundred and eighty. Ahravan did care you see, but he didn’t love her and he tried to avoid bedding her. And thus she got old faster than if they had been in love”

Wenja swallowed. “That must be a cruel fate, knowing that you may live for so much longer but then your husband denies you that privilege”

Sefa stared at Wenja and her eyes were hard. “Yes, but know this, none of the eternal would ever use that as a punishment, or to control someone. His wife was a despicable person nobody truly liked and he tried, he truly tried to change her and make her see the errors of her ways but he failed to do it. She was just…terrible”

Wenja nodded. “I see, but…do one have to be married to an elf to get the benefits so to speak?”

Sefa took a deep breath. “No, if you sleep with elves often enough you will have the same effect. So the unbound males are very sought after”

Wenja sort of stared. “That sounds…”

Sefa scoffed. “Like there is no moral left? As if everybody is terribly depraved?”

Wenja looked down. “Yes, in the village…the rules are so strict. People cannot touch anyone they aren’t wedded to, and you cannot do it unless you are wedded”

Sefa sighed and rearranged her dress a bit. “Wenja, listen. This is the first lesson of many, and a shocking one for sure but listen carefully. The twelve clans are a very different people from what you are used to and their culture is extremely different. Forget everything you have learned, this will be like starting a new life”

Wenja swallowed and Sefa handed her a cup of wine. “Here, to strengthen yourself.”

The girl took the cup and drained it. “Thank you”

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