January – 1027 YD
Kesia’s rooms in Alendae were bright with the midday sun, and quickly filled with guests and their belongings.
__‘Glazed windows!’ Orla awed, rushing to the northern walls and pressing her fingertips to the warm glass. ‘Do they not melt in the sun?’
‘Perhaps in fire,’ Kesia considered, ‘but they bear the sun with ease. Mellena, will you open the shutters?’
__Mellena did as she was asked, opening the shutters along the other walls, letting in light and air from the busy street—though it was hotter out than in.
__Orla stepped away from the windows. ‘A carpenter. Perhaps you are a noble carpenter?’
__Orla raised an eyebrow at the pottery, brass work, and books piled throughout the first room. ‘A rich carpenter?’
__‘A lover of things,’ Toran explained.
__Pricks of mortification coloured Kesia’s cheeks. ‘Since we are in a respectable district and ours is a mixed party, we best find you a room at the nearby inn, Toran.’
__The room slumped into silence.
__‘Shall I walk with you?’ Orla offered. ‘Perhaps we will eat, and give the ladies time together.’
__‘It has been a long morning,’ Toran muttered, ‘I’m sure Kesia would prefer a rest. We will return later.’
__They collected their purses. Kesia closed the door behind them with more force than intended.
‘Toran is a fool, Kesia.’
__Kesia threw her key to the table.
__‘Toran and Oran both, cut from the same cloth.’ Mellena shied from Kesia’s glare, turning to a side table of food and such. ‘Is that a wineskin I see?’
__‘The goblets are in the basket over there,’ Kesia answered, sitting at the table. ‘I feel so vexed. I imagined a grand trip!’
__‘Imagine on! Down this,’ Mellena filled the retrieved goblets with light wine, ‘and we shall dress for the markets—eat—drink—and be merry.’
__Kesia said nothing as she lifted her goblet, and in quiet she remained, so that Mellena grew distracted and went to her satchel. She removed a garment, unravelling a vest of black and red. She donned and buttoned it, fitting her womanly shape with fine finesse.
__In her worn cinnamon surcoat, Kesia felt perfectly plain. ‘That is very becoming.’
__‘Oran commissioned a seamstress here to make it. The needlework is gorgeous.’
__Kesia lifted her back to inspect the work. It was fine indeed, and doubtless costly. Its beauty elevated her.
__‘He dotes on me—yet what a deterrent clinging is.’
__Distaste soured Kesia’s delight. ‘I suppose if his feelings were requited you would think differently on his gestures.’
__Both turned to their goblets. Their ride to the city had been long; they were tired.
__‘Kesia.’ Mellena extended a hand, planting it by her friend’s. ‘I cannot turn my mind from thoughts of Miggest.’
__A long look passed between them.
__‘I thirst for adventure! Our worlds are so very small.’
__Kesia knew Mellena’s heart, and was pained. ‘And Oran?’
__‘Oran,’ Mellena scoffed. ‘A shepherd’s wife!? This will be the finest garment I ever own, worn only while sweeping, washing, and shushing babes; and the Crossroads shall be the furthest I go until the children are married themselves.’
__Kesia nodded, realising her goblet was empty. ‘Let us go for lunch. I am starved.’
__They busied themselves washing and tidying, Kesia quietly troubled all the while. For though the song of adventure summons loudly, how could a person of good conscience be so cavalier about the affections of another, and deliberately lead them toward heartbreak? Surely decent people obeyed their inner guide without trampling the paths of others?
__Hunger tugged Kesia free from such thoughts, and within a short while they had quit her rooms and made for the markets.