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The Long Goodbye


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The room looked dark and so quiet after the tower folk and Anton left. Sharalen sighed for relief, finally they left and she could be alone. She needed to think, think and think once more what to do next. She knew she would meet Anton again, he had not yet given her the money she needed. But that was probably the last short glimpse of him. She changed her clothes to night-dress and prepaired herself to sleep. But the sleep didn't come, even the day had been tiredsome. She just stared the dark ceiling of her room intesively. Everything else around her just faded away. Time passed, hours or perhaps only seconds.... until she suddenly woke-up and opened her eyes when someone from the street shouted to his horse. She jumped from her bed standing in the middle of her tiny room and wondered who she was and where she was. Slowly the awareness filled her mind. She pulled the curtains away from the window and she could clearly see that it was nearly midday. The sun was high and shining brightly.


The main room of the inn looked nearly empty as always at this time of the day. Customers of the inn had eaten their breakfast hours since and it was not yet lunchtime. Sharalen fingered fat silver coin in her pocket. It was the very coin she had gotten from the one of the Master Belmen's guard at the market place. She could have a fine breakfast ..or early lunch with that. And maybe she could try another place. The meals in Andor's Hope were passable at best. Yes, she needed to find out a decent place to eat. Her stomach grumbled and begged her to find the place hurriedly.


Just few blocks away from the Inn market-stalls filled the streets and alleys, and you could buy almost anything there you needed. Food, farbrics, small items, handcrafts, everything for commoner's everyday life. She walked by a stall with fruits, but turned back. Maybe an apple or two would do nice and quiet her stomach for awhile. So, she bargained the price for the two apples to decent level, and when she was giving the seller the copper someone knocked to her shoulder. She got her fruits and turned on her heels.


“Piece, this is a suprise! Good morning Anton, I mean good day.†She said to the man in front of her and offereded him an apple “Do you happenstance know a decent place to have break... to have lunch?â€




Anton rubbed the apple on his shirt before taking a bite of it, he'd always liked apples, ever since he'd gone a week without food out in the wilderness then of all things stumbled across an apple tree in the middle of a plain. He'd eaten himself silly with apples over a couple of days before continuing his journey, and ever since then he'd always had a marvellous appreciation for apples.


"There is a place I know of, a good ten minutes walk from here."


The intervening time between the walk was filled with small talk, Sharalen seemed to be avoiding the topic of money, or him leaving for that matter. Maybe she was waiting until they sat down for lunch. Either way that was something he was sure he'd find out soon enough as they arrived at the Golden Tankard. Already full of tradesmen of all sorts, he led them to a table that was abandoned at the back. Ordering a rather sizeable lunch from the serving wench that attended them, Anton waited until Sharalen had made her own order and the woman had gone to see to their order before broaching the topic of the money.


"After lunch, when you are ready we can go and collect your money. No need for rush, if it isn't safe where it is then there is no such thing as safe." Smiling slightly, Anton stretched as he spoke on. "I also have until tomorrow to help you with anything else you'll need, so if there is anything else now would probably be the time to tell me. By the way, are you alright? You seem a little tired."


Before Sharalen could answer, the serving wench was back with their meal. Anton decided to attack the first slice of beef as he listened to Sharalen. He had to concentrate so he could make out what she said over the din of the others in the Golden Tankard, yet it wasn't so difficult that she had to shout. Still, the place was always busy at this time as many took respite from their daily tasks to share a drink with one another before returning to the hot forge, or thatching in the sun.




The Golden Tankard was a fine Inn, filled with wealthy looking people. Not nobles but merchants, Sharalen decided when she saw those loud customers that were chatting, laughing, eating and drinking. It was far more better place that the one she had been living for...how long? Weeks in Caemlyn had passed by so fast that before she could notice she would be an old and wrinkled. The thought of it made her smile a bit. At least it took her thoughts away from the money she didn't (yet) have. She didn’t want to be pushy with it and hoped that Anton would start the issue.


They found a table and sat down. Sharalen made her own order to the maid, and noticed that if the Inn was at higher level than Andor's hope, so were the prices. But she deserved this, and without thinking she ordered her meal without eyeing the prices. She deserved this! While waiting their food Anton started to speak. Her wait had not been vain; finally he talked about the money. He also offered her help if she needed any and asked how she was feeling. It was nice of him to offer help, but the mention about her look gave her a troubled feeling. No-one had ever gave her comments about her looks - how annoying. She had always looked at her best! She sighed, that had been her life back at home. Now she could not deny the fact she probably looked terrble. Hiding her thoughts somewhere deep she said truthfully:


"I had troubles to fall asleep yesterday. Yesterday was probably too eventful. But after a good meal I will be fine. At least I hope so!"


“To your another question... I think I need to move to more decent inn. Do you think this inn is fine for a lady?" Anton eyed her under his eyebrow. Was he amused?

"I intent to buy ra whole wardrobe too. Right now, I don’t look like a lady wearing these...†she gestued her own poor clothes. He nodded to her with faint smile on his face. Was not he taking her seriously?


"And I probably need to hire a maid too" she said and tossed a piece of fig to her mouth.




She was frowning, that meant she knew that he was laughing inwardly. Anton had come to like Sharalen, well, he liked most people so that wasn’t a surprise. But her naivety, it seemed she lived in another world entirely in so many ways. Those who were sheltered always saw the world with rose tinted glasses, thought it wasn’t so much their fault as those who had shielded them. Then again, there were some things it was easier to be shielded from. Then again, he wasn’t the finest teacher to be speaking of such things either, she’d learn of them sooner or later.


“This inn is a fine enough place to reside, though to accomodate so vast a wardrobe you may need somewhere a little bigger.†He kept his mirth to a small smile as he continued. “As to clothing here in Andor, you’ll find most tailors are rather reserved in the dresses they produce, with the neckline somewhere around the eyes. Spend some time looking about though and you’ll find some places that are a bit more flexible.â€


There was no mistaking the humour in Anton’s voice, as much as he didn’t mind Andorans he knew, as much as he was a man without borders, he was still Cairhienin. Andoran prudishness was always a fun place to put the boot of ridicule. “At anyrate, I’m sure with a little investigation you’ll find your way to a new wardrobe and accommodation. Decided on what you want to do yet? Tutor? Barmaid? Assaulting Merchants?†The smile had long since become a grin.




"Thank you for your advices again, dear friend" she said, perhaps with a faint icy tone in her voice. What she wanted to do was probably the biggest mystery to herself too, but she was sure that not a barmaid and not a ... what was that... assaulting merchant? She had to shake her head, did she heard him right or was there something wrong in her ears?


"You fool" she slapped genlty his shoulder when she realized "are you trying to make fun of me?" she said smiling to him and answered to her own question "Oh, yes you are, and enjoying every bit of it. Peace!"


"But to answer to your question... I probably start to be me again. How I will do that I have no idea yet. I need to look like me as well. That is the first and most important thing." She hold her fore finger up like she was teaching a five years old boy. On the otherhand, Anton might know as much as a five years old what royals and nobles do and how they do it. As far as Sharalen knew, he was not a noble born.


She took a glance over her shoulder around the place, seing many broad shoulders and many bright faces concentrated to chatting, laughting, eating. Everyone of them did not pay attention to a lone couple having a converstion. Neverte less, she lowered her voice and came closer to him. Even she was sure no-one could hear anything in this noise, she wanted to be absolutely sure...

"You see, my father serves the King of Shienar, not as a common solder, but he is high-officer of his forces and they are very good friends. Peace! The king is my god-father! If I want to be what I really am, I need to look like one too. Not as a barmaid, but as a Shienaran noble girl passing by Caemlym"


Anton's face was something between wonder and disbelief. Probably he thought she could not be what she said. Probably she herself had long ago forgot about what she was. In many ways she had been more free now, without her origin and it was sure that in a moment Lady Sharalen from Shienar appeared in the city, her father would reach the news too.


"...or I could just toss everything of what I am away and become a barmaid or start to sell apples. It is an option too, in a way very tempting, but I have to face what I am anyway, so why to postpone it longer" she sighed deeply. At least the dinner had been great! Now her stomach cried for agony. She had been eaten too much....

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  • 1 month later...

It was one thing to guess that a woman was noble born, another altogether to learn the woman had a king for a godfather and indeed, her father was a general! Still, there was the question that bothered her, to embrace her heritage or to start anew. Personally, Anton thought she'd be better of discarding her rank and title, then again he didn't have a particularly good liking of nobles as a class to begin with. A prejudice of his upbringing perhaps, but as nice as Anton tried to be, he had his dislikes.


"It depends on who you wish to be. To be Lady Mangaar, you'd have to submit yourself to your family. To be Sharalen, you'd be free to dictate your own life. Perhaps there is a way to do both, but if there is such a way it escapes me for the moment."


Finishing up his meal, Anton smiled "when you are ready, we will go and collect your funds." Talk continued for a short time after that until Sharalen was finished, and they were out onto the street again. Working their way to South Gate took time, but once there it didn't take them long to find what they were looking for.


A small house, nondescript in its stone walls and oak door, it seemed no different to those that surrounded it but Anton knew it was what he was after. A simple double knock followed by three had the door open with a warm smile welcoming them.


"Come in, come in."


Following Rakel inside, the pair were shown into the kitchen where there was a small table. Water was already boiling, a sure sign that his sister had known they were already coming. With tea brought for them all, Anton couldn't help but grin at her. "Tea? You sure the locals aren't rubbing off on you at all?"


Laughing as Rakel stuck her tongue out at him, Anton took a sip of his tea as she replied. "You think you're funny, but you're not. And you didn't introduce me to Lady Mangaar."


"You knew who she was before I did."


"Well, yes. I keep informed, and word has been passed about of a certain young noblewoman from Shienar that was last seen heading south. There was even some coin involved, quite a sum actually. You might even want to consider turning yourself in Lady Mangaar to collect the reward."


"You're not going to claim it?"


"I have other things to do. Besides, its the nature of lost and found rather than a bounty. Since she isn't really lost, there isn't any need for her to be found. But, we aren't really dealing with why we are here. If you'll excuse me for a moment."


Watching Rakel sit her cup down then leave the room, Anton smiled to himself. Appearances were deceiving and as nice as the dress was that Rakel wore, he knew underneath it she was wearing breeches and a shirt in case she needed to free her movement. Turning to Sharalen, Anton shrugged. "You'd be surprised at who knows what in this city. As to Rakel, she is family that I never had."


Before Sharalen could respond, Rakel emerged with a large leather bag full of coins. Placing them before Sharalen, she took her seat once again as she spoke. "All that you lost is there. You'd be wise not to move too fast or the clinking will reveal the small fortune you have there."


Tossing a small pouch to Anton, Rakel grinned. "And this is your cut for pointing this merchant out to us. All in all, a rather good night was had."


Nodding, Anton turned to Sharalen. "By the way, all of that is yours. Its not good business to charge a fee off a friend, just be careful who you give your money to next time is all."


Anton Averdal


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  • 2 months later...

Anton led the way and Sharalen followed. The streets were strange to her, but they were heading to south, or so she thought. She had not seen much of Caemlyn yet, even she had been in the city long time. She knew only the rough neighbourhood of her inn. It was funny, for a girl like her. The door stood there, and they stood in front of it. It seemed to try to be as little noticeable as possible, and succeeded well. It didn't attract you to knock, on the contrary, you might want to hasten your steps to pass by. Anton didn't notice the door's attempts to be drive them away but knocked, and a girl opened it. Sharalen shook the image of the unwelcoming door away and stepped in, following Anton and the girl, Rakel, as Anton called her, into the kitchen.


That was very interesting information Sharalen thought while sipping her second cup of tea. She probably is forced to send a word to her family to avoid troubles. They have to withdraw the reward. It will cause too much troubles to her. She could count few people who would know her, and would be too much interested about the money. Simean, the man who had brought her here in the first place. Adventurer and the one who might need easy coins. And not to mention the men working for him. Notorious, every one of them. Deep in her thoughts, she had not noticed Rakel's leaving and entering the room. Anton's words of Rakel faded somewhere behind her concience... She startled when a pouch of coin were tossed to her and all her troubled thoughts dissappared.


"Peace! All the money?!" she exlaimed "Are you sure you don't want your share?" she asked tenth time and when Anton once again refused she jumped to hug him and cave a short kiss. She hugged Rakel too, although she didn't know her. Sharalen was too thrilled to notice the girl tensing. Then the silence took place, and everyone feeled awkward. Sharalen watched her toes and tried to find a place for the pouch. She urged to say something, anything, but didn't know what. A good bye, she was sure, but the words didn't come out. The candles flickered on the table creating eerie figures on the people in front of her. She tried to memorize them, to memorize Anton, her one and only friend in this city. She was sure this was a last sight of him, and she didn't not know what to say! She could have picked selected lines from the etiquette education she had received years, but it would have been absurd.


"Well..." she started to break the silence. She just had to say something "I suppose this it is: a good bye" she wiped her sweaty hand on her clothes and offered it for a shake. "Have a nice journey to north...and if you ever stop by in Shienar, visit my father to get that damn reward. I'm sure he is very happy to hear his lovely daughter causing troubles at the trading market and living in an inn like Andor's Hope is..."




Back in her room in Andor's Hope staring the ceiling, alone. She had paid the room only for this night. Tomorrow she would move to somewhere else, and she would buy some decent clothes. Her true arrival as a lady to the city needed some thinking and arranging...but....she would think about that tomorrow...tomorrow....





PS. It's not great, I'm rusty :roll: Too much fancy words for a post like this, I think... *lol* Anyways, if you want to reply to this, go on, but it is not necessary

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