Meryl pampered me, sending a tavern maid to my room to tend to me as a fresh hot dinner was prepared by her husband. I was given a suite despite my protests, the room had a view of the stream running across the road, no doubt run off from the looming mountains and snow lands to the north. The busy bar down below remained noisy.
I bathed, the maid helping out with my back and hair. I asked her to cut my hair, to lose my long, elegant locks that spoke of my nobility. The maid was adept at her tasks, humming to herself. She brought up spare tavern wear to better my disguise.
Verulus came to my room, Meryl following with a tray of long awaited food. My stomach roared; the long events of this night finally at the back of my mind, allowing the primal desire to eat to come forth. Meryl had heard and smiled.
“Eat up, you impatient child. If more is needed, just tell the nearest maid. I’ll send Sir Aindrias your way if he arrives.” She shot Verulus a look before leaving the room.
Verulus examined me and sat down on a stool, picking up a roll.
“You had a haircut I see, nice move, I guess.”
“Good for me, I’m not trying to impress you. I’m just trying to hide from prying eyes.”
He nodded and I rolled my eyes, grabbing a roll and stuffing a part of it into my mouth. He chuckled, annoying me as I continued eating. Sweet mead, brown beef drenched in rich gravy, baked potato topped with melted cheese and soured crème, warmed and buttered rolls made my dinner, well enjoyed. I almost forgot of my troubled night.
A knock hit the door, causing me to pause in my feasting. Verulus put a finger to his lips and went over to the door.
“Who dares disturb my rest? Do you not know the time?!” He acted, almost enjoying the moment.
“Verulus let me in you fool. We have business.” Sir Aindrias’ voice answered through the door.
“How does one know who you are? Tell me something only the Sir Aindrias would know?”
“Boy, I will bust down this door and beat you. I haven’t the time to goof around; I must be back in the capital in three days.”
Verulus opened the door and allowed Sir Aindrias in, the Sir slapping the back of his head. I rose and curtsied, Sir Aindrias nodding and sitting down with a huff.
“I apologize, dear Lady, for being late. Getting out was rather difficult than I expe- where is Ginnete?”
I looked down, the pain of losing my best friend in the sewer returning to me. “We were separated... Guards chased us and she got ahead…”
“Unfortunately, Sir, she was captured. There was nothing I could do.” Verulus put a hand to my shoulder.
Sir Aindrias sighed, shaking his head. “Ginette will be alright, she may not look it but she is tough and loyal, she won’t betray us.”
I nodded and looked up. “Sir Aindrias, before… before we left the manor, you said you had to speak with me?”
“Very much so and unfortunately, many of the things I have to say will bother you. First off, you are not a true noble. You were born unto a peasant servant who died in childbirth.”
I stood quickly, anger flooding through me. My entire life so far had been nothing but a lie! I did not belong to that wretched woman that had raised me, I was, I am and orphan!
Verulus grabbed my arms hard, trying to stop me from leaving that instant.
“Alys, you need to listen to what he has to say. Leaving now will not do you any good! Please, sit down and listen!”
“Did you know?! Did you too know I wasn’t noble born?” I glared at the wizard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knew everything too.
“No Alys, I did not know. None of this information will change who you truly are, for only you can alter that. Please, sit down, listen to Sir Aindrias, and we can decide what to do afterward.” Verulus loosened his hold of me, pleading with a gentle look in his eyes.
I sighed in severe annoyance. “Fine, but don’t expect me to be nice about it.”
“No one expects anything of you for now Alys. Your future is determined by you.” Andrias held his hand out to me, calmly speaking.
I didn’t take his hand and plopped myself down back on my stool, causing it to creak in protest. Verulus sat down beside me and watched me carefully.
“So why did she take me in? Why did the Lady of Irinis adopt me and raise me as her child?”
Sir Aindrias sighed, perhaps because he had expected me to ask that. “Before you were born, the Lady had a son and was pregnant with another child. There was an uprising by the people of Irinis, an attempt to end her tyranny. She focused on dealing with the people, killing all those who dared oppose her by sacrificing the unborn child to harness dark power.
Her son was kidnapped while the uprising distracted her, perhaps by the assassins of the Sjyno Vaul, it is unknown for sure. When the fighting was done, the witch hid herself in her chambers with a pregnant wench and killed her, taking you as her replacement child.”
“So I am the offspring of a dead wench and the woman I’ve been calling mother all these years is a black witch that was going to kill me! What other bad news do you wish to tell me?!” I shouted and swept my arm across the table, sending plates and cups clattering to the floor, spoiling the food. “Everything in my life has been a lie!”
“Alys, it is only natural you react this way! It does not bring me any pleasure telling you this! Please, calm yourself!”
I got up. “Get out, both of you! Get out now!”
Sir Aindrias, red in the face, did not need to be told twice. Without another word, he left, shutting the door behind him. Verulus watched me, mouth agape like a fish that has been caught. I lay down on the bed, hiding my face with the sheets.
“Alys…” He started, speaking with a calm tone.
“I said get out!”
I listened to him stand, pausing as if deliberating over whether or not to approach me. He turned away and opened the door, pausing again.
“Good night Alys. I really am sorry about tonight.”
He left without another word.
I sobbed until sleep came for me.