Crucible Vows

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Chapter 6

The next morning was quiet. I had woken up before sunrise, something that was becoming common with me, and I began my work. As I folded some freshly dried sheets, my mind wandered. I didn’t realize someone had entered the room I was in until they spoke.

“Elora?” Mrs. Natale startled me.

I jumped and put a hand over my chest, trying to calm the rapid beat of my heart. “By Rilene and Oldall’s mercy!”

She blinked at my response but didn’t say anything.

“I’m sorry, I was distracted.” I set the folding down and looked up at her. “Is there something I can help with?”

She chuckled. “Actually, there’s someone who wants to talk to you.”

My eyebrows raised. Silently, I stood up from my seat and followed her to the main tavern. Standing there, was the couple from the previous night. Automatically, I began to squeeze one hand with my other while I waited for them to speak. I bit my lip and it was hard for me to stay still. My hands began to tremble because I didn’t know if I was in trouble or not.

Harold spoke first. “My wife told me that the tea you made me had ingredients in it to help me sleep. Is that correct?”

I nodded silently.

“That was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in over a week.” He said with a small smile. “Would you considered selling us some more?”

My eyes widened and I stumbled over my words. “Of... of course... let me. Um, let me prepare some more for you.”

I shuffled out of the room and went to the kitchen. Gathering the materials, I mixed together what was needed, I just needed some petals from the Moon Flower. Pulling on a cloak, I exited out of the building and went back to the field of flowers. Though it was the middle of winter, the flowers that dominated the field were ones that thrived in the cold. Moon flowers were one of the many. I picked several of the white and gray flowers and placed them in my skirt. Holding them carefully, I began to walk back to the tavern.

“Decorating the tavern and inn?”

I looked over to who was talking to me and saw Luna walking over to me. Behind him were several other knights, but they stayed with the horses.

I ducked my head as I answered. “Moon flowers are actually really helpful in helping people sleep. That gentleman and his wife I helped last evening wanted to buy more.”

I felt a gloved thumb rub against the spot that I had cut on Luna’s helmet. “Looks like it’s healed nicely. I’m glad the ointment helped.”

I took a step back and placed a hand where he touched. “Yes, thank you for that. And I apologize for my actions then.”

“I don’t blame you.” His voice was soft. “Anyone would have acted the same if they saw the uniform of the people who attacked them.”

I froze.

He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I don’t know what you told the Natale’s, but I do know about the recent attack on Nythstaesi by our king’s army. I wasn’t part of it, because I stayed behind with a group of others that protected this kingdom. But I know that your reaction was because you witnessed the attack.”

My grip on my skirt tightened. “Are you going to turn me in?”

“Do I have a reason to?” He asked while crossing his arms.

I shook my head in a fast motion.

“Then no,” Luna said with a shake of his head. “You aren’t doing anything to hurt anyone. And I’m certain the Natale’s would be against you being arrested. You’ve done nothing to provoke such treatment. Just keep a low profile, and you should be able to have a mostly peaceful life.”

I stared at his eyes through the helmet, trying to decide if he was being honest or not. But I saw no ill will in his eyes. In fact, there was a shine to them that I didn’t see in most the eyes that looked at me in the land. As I was silent, he reached over and pat my shoulder before turning away.

“I need to return to morning patrol,” he called back to me. “But prepare a cup of that tea for me tonight when I return.”

I silently nodded and turned back to the tavern. Once I was back in the warmth of the building, I let out a sigh. I set down the flowers and began a process that would dry the petals out quickly. I measured out the other ingredients and mixed them together into a canaster.

“Excuse me?”

Turning to look who called, I saw Lilith, the wife of Harold entering the kitchen. “May I help you?”

“I was hoping you could show me how to brew the tea so I could make it for Harold.” She asked in a shy tone.

I gave her a small smile and waved her over. “You only need to steep one tablespoon of tea per cup of water. I’m decreasing the amount of Moon Flower petals in this batch so it won’t take effect as fast as first batch. If you want, you can add cream and sugar to the tea, but I’d suggest honey over sugar. Honey has more beneficial properties.”

As we discussed and I answered questions, things felt less awkward between us. She took an interest in the many different ingredients I used for the tea. I explained what each item did and how it benefited the body. One of the things I learned long ago was herbalism. It was a hobby of mine before responsibilities pulled me away. I never expected to use it in that way.

“Do you know of anything that would help with morning sickness?” Lilith said in a hushed tone.

I smiled and reached up to one of the shelves. “Add a pinch of gingermint to your drink every morning and that will take your nausea down.”

Pouring some gingermint into another bottle, I handed it to her with a smile. I finished putting together the rest of the tea mix and put it in a jar for her. With that, we walked back out to the main tavern where her husband and the Natale’s were waiting. After a short explanation about what to do the couple paid the coins needed for the materials with some addition for my labor. They waved goodbye and left the tavern.

“Looks like your good deeds paid off.” Mr. Natale said as he walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder. “They came back because they knew you helped them. I have a feeling things around here will change for the better.”

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