The Lord Who Played [Flemington #2]

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IX. Norkins

Darla sleeps fitfully last night before she was remembering the hands and the body that was gliding across the floor with hers. She was breathless as she was gasping from the dream that she did not want anyone to know about.

It will be the worst thing that could happen to her.

Darla got out of bed and get ready. She was looking around before she was braiding her hair and got into her leather riding habits. She was checking her traveling trunk that she will ask the servant to send when she had secured a room in Norkins.

For now, she will be carrying her satchel to meet her friends there. Darla said goodbye to the peers that she knew before making her way to the stables. The groom took the mare that she purchased using her commission money before she was putting on the saddle and her satchel to the horse.

Darla was smoothing the nuzzle of the horse as it neighed. Then, Darla smiled as she was mounting the horse before she was clicking her tongue and the mare was moving forward. She had planned that she will be meeting with her peers at Norkins and she will be there late evening since she had to send a 'gram to her parents without a return address.

She rode hard as she went through the forest that was thought to be dangerous. But her peer, Rosie, told her that it was only a rumor. Only Fik forest was where the bandits would love to spend some time and attack those who dared to wander there.

Darla just laughed in her face for she never thought that bandits would be roaming the country again, not after what happened when they failed to invade the walled city of Red Cast. Darla stopped by the creek for her horse to drink and she ate a light meal in the afternoon. Then, she rode hard again as she was on the outskirt of Scatterford, her birth town.

Darla looked at it with longing before she shook her head. She went to the postal service that was near the outskirt of the town before she sent a 'gram to her parents that should be arriving in a week. She made a strict instruction to the messenger so that it will not thaw her plan to gain her freedom.

Then, she left Scatterford and never turn her back once on the town that she called home.

*****

Darla was pulling the hood of her cloak as she was looking at the outskirt of Norkins. She never thought that she would be walking among the most dangerous folks that the scandalmongers once told her.

How did she learn about it? Well, she was the daughter of a baron after all.

The scandalmongers were not usually from the elite class of Caga, no, most of them were common folks that worked for the elite class. The maidservants and manservants alike as having nothing to do when the working class has so much time on their time.

Darla learned to be discreet of anything that she could learn from the scandalmongers.

And The Times. The newspaper was reporting everything that was happening in Caga. She learned to read them, discreetly of course, for her father would never want Darla to be concerned with politics in the newspaper.

As if Darla would care but she did read some of the bits as well as the gossip columns.

She was looking at the people that were trying to sell some rotten food as if they could not afford to have something fresh. Then, Darla's nostrils were being hit with something that made her gag. The hygiene of the place was not pleasant.

No wonder merchants and traders did not come here.

Darla went to the inn that looked like they might have some vacant room for her to use. She dismounted her horse before a groom was approaching her.

He could not be more than eight years old.

"Please take care of my horse. I will be staying the night," she said as she paid him. The boy beamed before he bobbed his head at her.

"Will do, mum," she said before Darla was asking the food for the horse. The boy said they have some dry hay and she sighed in relief before she took her satchel and she went inside the inn. The buildings around her were silent as if there was nothing else in them. As if they were abandoned.

The bells jiggled before she was taking in the quiet inn as the innkeeper was smiling as she was walking up to her.

"Welcome. What can I help you with today? Perhaps a meal? A room?" the old lady as before Darla was taking off her gloves as she was looking around. This would be a great place for her base. She turned to look at the housekeeper before she smiled as she was untying her cloak and took it off.

"A room for several nights. And meals as well. Is there a bathing chamber that I can use?" she said as the innkeeper was smiling at her. No doubt the old lady can hear the clinging of gold coin as Darla was smiling at her.

"Yes. Of course, my lady. We will be preparing your bath immediately." She said before Darla nodded.

"And can I send a 'gram from here?" she inquired before the old lady bobbed her head again. she asked for parchment and quill with ink. She needed to tell her peers that she had chosen a place for their mission.

They would be happy to give this old woman some money as well and perhaps they can bring the economy back to Norkins.

*****

Darla retired to her room and a copper bathtub was ready for her. she sighed happily before she was removing her boots and stockings. She was removing her leather riding habits before she was standing in her linen chemise.

She was looking at the fire that was crackling in the hearth before she was taking a bar of soap and a rag for her bath. She pulled the chemise over her head as she was naked now. Slowly, Darla slipped into the copper bathtub to wash away the grime of her riding a horse. Her muscles ached before she lathered the soap with the rag.

She dried herself after that bath before a rap on the door. She was dressing in her tunic and leather breeches before a maid was bobbing her head and served her supper. She thanked her before slipping a gold coin to her hand and winked. The young maid smiled before she rushed to her duties again.

Darla ate the hot broth with some bread. She was looking outside the window of the room to the town. Most people wandered around as children were trying to get by. She was biting on the bread before something cold settled against her stomach.

She looked at the bread before she put it away. How can Darla feel good when she has a room and hearty meal to fill her stomach? She cannot wait for any more before she was making her way to the lobby before she was looking at the riders that just came in. she smiled as someone from the riders was smiling at her.

"Darla!"

"Rosie!" she shouted before she was hugging her best friend as she was looking at the rest of the riders. Her peers were here and they were ready to take on the mission that Darla has been planning for years now. She greeted them before inquired the innkeeper to find them a room before they have a meal together that night.

The inn was busy with laughter and the wine cellar was about to be empty if the young lords that agreed to the cause will not stop drinking. Then, Darla was clearing her throat before she was looking around at the faces that will be spending some time with her for years to come.

"Friends, we have arrived at our mission's destination and I would like to discuss what is our next conquest for the cause that we will be helping the orphaned and poor of Norkins," she said before everyone settled down and they were focusing on her. Darla straightened before she was addressing the sight that she took and what she had learned during her early exploration.

"So, our first mission will have to be giving some duties that we will have to divide into groups. I have the list that we have to inquire about tomorrow as early as we could. Rosie and I will be taking some of the children's names and asked them if they have someone that they took care of or if they were alone in the streets.

"Saul and Julian will inquire some of the estates that would be the best place for us to place them. And, Penelope with Jared will be collecting some necessities that we need to get the first orphanage started. Everyone has any objections?" Darla asked before she was looking around the table. Everyone was quiet before she nodded.

"Sleep tonight because tomorrow we will have so much stuff to be done and remember, it is our cause to give back and commit to our community," she ended the meeting before everyone cheered.

Yeah, Darla can survive if these peers were by her side and perhaps, she would not be so lonely then when she has children to attend to. After all, what good would her education be if not for helping the lesser ones before her?
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