Second installment. Now I’m not just winging it completely. I have a partial outline to follow but with so many gaps. This is a bit fun, actually. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!!
Downstairs, the cacophony never reached the extreme level it had before she sang. Closing her eyes, she slowed her breathing. The exercise she had always used and would always use coming to her naturally, with every sound and sensation overwhelming her until it was absorbed to peace. Lahrya did not know of Saffey’s thoughts, and did not know of this prisoner. The village she came from was too remote. With no more thoughts to distract her, Lahrya drifted to sleep.
Sunlight woke her in the morning through a small window above the bed. She realized for the first day since leaving home that she was well and truly on her own. Her mind skipped from thought to thought, almost skittering in a haste that was unnatural to her organized mind. She had money, and getting more did not appear difficult. For the time being she had food and shelter. She would need a new dress or two. While she kept the two she had well mended they wouldn’t last forever. The soft soled shoes should be replaced by a sturdier pair.
Knowing that staying in bed was not how she intended to spend this first day alone, Lahrya forced herself up and about to change and wash her face. Thinking about being alone brought a brief surge of homesickness, but something still called to her within the city. It beckoned with urgency that increased tenfold after only one night.
Steadying her mind with her peace from breathing, she left the room adorned in her second dress. The light wool was pale gray, un-dyed and unadorned, serviceable. She found Saffey in the kitchen and without a word settled herself on the same stool to break her fast. The older woman greeted her warmly. No consternation from thoughts the evening before registering on her face. In minutes, Lahrya had porridge with honey and fresh milk to fill her. With a grateful smile the meal was consumed before she headed to the back door of the kitchen.
“Mistress Dalie, if Master Newhin becomes curious as to my whereabouts, I’ll be back around midday. I have a feeling he could worry, but I need to purchase a few things.”
Saffey started, realizing the girl could well be correct about Sawl worrying. Most young men and women wandered the city when not apprenticed, but Lahrya was obviously not from here. He would show concern for her safety. She offered the girl a reassuring grin. “Never you mind. I’ll make sure he knows where you’re off to. I’ll have lunch waiting when you come back.”
With an impish smile, abruptly looking childlike compared to the adult air she normally carried, Lahrya disappeared out the door. It took only moments for her to reach the front of the building after passing through the small stable yard. Whickering horses from the few patrons staying at The Fool’s Dance turned heads in her direction before resuming eating or dozing. She stepped out from shadow into the morning sun feeling exuberant. Singing the night before had proven to herself what she dreamt was real. Perhaps other abilities would prove to be true if only there were scenarios within which she could test them.
Feeling spellbound by the immensity of the city to her small, remote little village of Telasco, Lahrya wandered the streets. Different shops took bits of her time as she familiarized herself with the city’s layout. It was quickly apparent where the working man lived versus the aristocrats. Something about the estates within the city limits captivated her. It was almost as though the feeling that had her stay in Halnon had her drawn to the aristocrats.
After an hour or so, Lahrya sought out a cobbler she’d found earlier. Her soft soled shoes were allowing the uneven sections of the street and loose stones to hurt her feet. She would bruise soon if new ones weren’t obtained.
People heading home or to the inns and taverns were more populous on the streets as she found the cobbler. Older men and women that caught sight of her striking silver eyes often did a double take. Most had lived in Halnon back when the prisoner had been brought through. Some had gotten a better view than Saffey Dalie. Those not focusing on her eyes, men who had been around The Fool’s Dance the previous night, recognized her as the one who sang. Since late night equaled heavy drink the men didn’t realize how young she was.
The cloud of whispers didn’t descend on the people until Lahrya stepped off the street into the cobbler’s shop. Most frequently discussed were the sensation her pure voice had created. They would swear that her words had produced visible images corresponding to words and notes. They also wondered if Sawl was keeping her own to continue performing. Others contemplated her origins. Halnon was a smaller city resulting in many of the residents knowing each other with a passing familiarity in the least.
This being the first day she was walking around the city caused a buzz. She was delicate in form, but not short. Quicksilver eyes in a pale, thin face surrounded by heavy locks of raven dark hair created a beauty that she was growing in to. Her resemblance to the man five years ago made people wonder and worry about what the future was bringing.
Inside the cobbler’s shop, Lahrya was greeted with the smells of leather and polish. A spindly man looked up from his workbench with a crinkle-eyed smile. “Good day, Mistress. How can Master Veska be of service to you?”
“Master Veska,” she began hesitantly, having never had to care entirely for her own affairs, “I need a sturdier set of shoes and a pair of boots. I fear my current shoes would soon be worn through with such soft soles.”
“You’re most likely correct, Mistress, if you’re doing any substantial walking. Come sit over here and I’ll get some measurements from you.” He was kindly. He had not seen her eyes. He wasn’t looking. Ginar Veska minded his own work. Once he saw her settled with shoes off, he took some measurements of her feet, ankles, and lower legs with a piece of knotted twine making notes on a small sheaf of paper. “You can expect them to be ready in two days’ time. I should already have the material in shop.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Shoes back on, she glanced toward the door before back to him. “Would you be able to tell me the best dressmaker? I saw several on my way here.”
Ginar leaned back, tapping his finger to chin. “I would say, perhaps, you should go to see Aniyabel Prescor. Her shop is two streets east near as you can get to a direct line from here. Tell her I sent you. Mind you don’t forget to come back in two days.”
“No, Sir, I won’t. Thank you.”
Without another word she was gone from his shop. The crowding in the streets was more noticeable, and this time, Lahrya couldn’t help but notice that she was being noticed. A prickle between her shoulder blades followed her to the dressmaker though she paid no mind to what people were saying. It was a relief to step through the doorway off the street. Immediately apparent was that Aniyabel was not so involved in her craft to be oblivious as Ginar.
“You must be the girl that has captured everyone’s attention,” the voice was not unkind, but cautious, speaking up the moment Lahrya was in off the street. “From what I gather, you only just arrived in Halnon? I thought as much. Come here and let me look at you, child.”
Lahrya met the matronly woman, old enough to be a grandmother, in the center of the shop where Aniyabel had her step up on a platform to bring her to eye level, still talking. “Yes, silver eyes. They say your voice is like magic, bringing peace and solace. I wonder if, no, I won’t wonder.” She was taking measurements as she spoke, though the girl before her had yet to say a single word. “You should be careful, child. Stay near the inn. I heard you were last eve with that voice of yours. I know Sawl. He’ll keep you there as long as you’re inclined to stay. I don’t know what brought you here, but you must tread with caution.”
“Excuse me, Mistress Prescor?”
“Heavens, child, I’m old enough to be you grandmother, but you call me Aniyabel or if it suites you, Ana. I don’t hold by formalities, not even for the nobles.”
“Aniyabel, why should the color of my eyes cause any sort of stir?”
Hazel eyes narrowed, studying her face. “If you don’t know, I suppose I’m as good as any to tell you. You don’t look old enough to know unless someone does. You have the look about you of the northerners. They brought a man through here some years back, the royals did, claiming he was a prisoner of war. His eyes were silver, like yours. Similar features.”
Lahrya was startled. No one from Telasco had looked like her, or ever talked about her differences. The surprise must have been evident on her face as Aniyabel continued, “They say those northerners can do strange things, magic and the like mayhap.” In an abrupt shift, she returned to the reason Lahrya had obviously come in. “Now, I’m going to make you several dresses: two serviceable, one nice for occasion wear, and one for riding. You leave the color and style to me, child. I won’t have you disappointed. I’ll bring them to you at the inn. Go on now.”
The dressmaker hustled her out of the shop into the midday traffic of pedestrians, horses, carts, and wagons. Carefully avoiding any contact with the strangers around her, Lahrya returned to the inn for a midday meal. Saffey tried to engage her about her time out in the city realizing it was her first time but to no avail. A brief, tight smile was all Lahrya could offer after eating before retreating to her room to contemplate over what Aniyabel had told her. It took longer than usual to settle herself into the familiar trance of breathing patterns, realizing for the first time that whatever was calling her, was dragging her into a world she was in no way prepared to handle.