Previously: After getting caught by Jodec and getting a last chance to speak to Patat, both of them get surprised by Wyny showing up. Before he sends Jodec away, Nadec and Jodec agree on a common goal: keeping Patat safe. Both Wyny and Patat profess their utter trust in Nadec, which touches on an unsettingly deep and sensitive snare for Nadec.
Read all the previous chapters here.
ps: this is the real and raw first draft, including spelling and grammar mistakes, unnamed characters (and forgetting names), awkward bits, … If you’d prefer to read a slightly better version, I can suggest going to the podcast section, where the transcripts are. Or you can read the complete 2nd draft version in it’s totality (hey, it’s over 70k words now, a proper novel, weeee!)
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She fell on her knees, the sobs wrecking her whole body. She stayed on her hands and knees at first before sitting back with her knees folded under her. Someone hugged her closely as she held her hands up to her face.
‘Mistress,’ a familiar voice in her ear, ‘mistress, what is wrong? Are you hurt?’ The comforting arms around her loosened their grip but Nadec forced them to stay. ‘Mistress, please, talk to me. Quick, go get warm water and cloths. Someone get that halberd of her. Find her wounds.’
‘No,’ Nadec swallowed hard, ‘not hurt.’ She swallowed again, feeling self control return. She released name from the hug and smiled at her. ‘Happy. Appreciated. Wanted.’
Now that her fit of crying was over, she managed to look around the room. What used to be merely a bed room, any normal inn’s bedroom, had had a complete tranformation now. A servant came running in with a basin, presumably containing hot water. She stumbled as she saw everyone standing around. As for that, the room was certainly not empty.
name still kneeled next to nadec, urgind the servant with the water to come closer. name dipped on of the cloths in the water, wrung it out, and wiped Nadec’s face wih it, to her surprise. She would have protested if the warm cloth handt felt so good on her skin.
‘Are you certain, mistress?’
‘Yes, name, I am, not physically hurt. Not even mentally hurt. I apologise for making you panic. Honestly, I didn’t xpect this What is going on here?What happened to the room?’
The innkeeper stood near and began wringing his hands. Oh no, Nadec thought, WHat has he done?
‘Oh, uh, my lady. I mean, my Quee— heh, my honeoruishif, I apologise, i mean, uh, I couldn’t let you sleep in merely a normal room, so I cleared out my best room for you, and it is still being prepared I’m afraid, but you will be able to vacate soon. It hasn’t been used in quite a while, you see, it is such a special room, but people are too cheap to pay the money it deserves, and I of couse do not want to lower my price because I do know the value, but heh, anyway, your dear servant here told me you still needed this room to, huh, Skep to, was it, so I had my men clear it out ao you can now keep this room for your skepping, isthat good, that was good, so huh, yes, that is it.’
Nadec closed her eyes. Foolish, foolish man. Instead of just leaving her be, as she had demanded. Now he’d made such a big mess and hoola, he might as well have put a neon sign on top of his inn, pointing toward it, saying ‘nadec ichau is her, here she is, he princess, right here, here she is, come and see.’
She’d have to change inns now, but didn’t have the heart to tell the man such, especially not after having two people tell her how much trust they had for her. She couldn’t be rude to anyone at this moment.
‘Oay, so despite me asking you not to do anything, you went ahead and did this? Do yo uwat everyone to know I am her?’
Alright, so perhaps she could still be rude. It had nothhing to do with trust anyway.
‘Oh, huh,’ the innkeeper began to stammer, ‘no, it is not like that, my quee—heh—my lady, it is not. It is alright, it is, we have made certain to keep the suspicions away from you. We have let every patron know personally what was going on, we told them a very wealthy and high ranking person from far away was taken the room so we had to prepare, and uh, the person needed their privacy so we gave everyone their money back, and some more, and put them outside to find another inn. See, me qulady, no ones is here aymore, only us, so no one can betray you.’
That, was even worse than before. Everyone who was looking for her would know where she was now. Foolish, foolish man. She couldn’t even stay the night now.
‘Why didn’t you stop him?’ She whispered towards Melia, who helped her up.
‘Apologies, mistress, I tried, I really did. But that man…’ She huffed. ‘He is as stubborn as they come. With every protest I made, he came up with a so-called solution to it which only added onto the madness. Honeslty, I do not kow how he has managed to have a succesful inn. Something is wrong with this fellow.’
Nadec frowned. The more she thought about the situation, the more suspect she found it. The man hadn’t been so irrational before. What had happened? Nadec chose to believe someone had manipulated the man somehow. But who, and what, how.
‘My dear man,’ she felt proud of herself at her steady voice. Not a hint of mockery either. ‘I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. But really as I’ve said before, you shouldn’t have. I will keep the room as a decoy, it is perfect for that purpose. But I’m afraid I can’t stay here.’ The man gained a look of utter dissappointment and misery on his face, Nadec couldn’t help but adding: ‘You did a brilliant job at giving me safety, so brilliant I wouldn’t have thought of it myself. I will make sure you will get a proper reward once I have my Crown.’
The man’s face lit up at the praise and he stammered thank you.
‘Now, I will need few items from you. Melia, where is Kitty?’
A short time later, and a long distance further up, three beds appeared on top of the piece of statue. Melia and name looked around wide-eyed from their bed. name even whimpered as she saw Blackie, who hoovered at the edge, warned by nadec not to stay in the middle. She landed, and Kitty jumped of Nadec’s bed with a meow, running towards the dragon. Both purr machines filled Nadec’s heart, which already overfilled from the encounter with Wyny.
‘Come on, let’s set things up and go to sleep. I’m feeling pretty tired by now.’ They removed all the things they brought along on the beds, and moved the beds in a better position. The innkeeper had been able to provide them with a small outdoor kitchenette and some spare pots. They had enough vegetables to make food for the next few days, and several jugs of water and a few sneaky ones with wine. The innkeeper had reassured Nadec she could always return for more supplies, and Nadec had reassured him, she would.
By the time they finished setting up, even though it hadn’t taken long, Blackie and Kitty had fallen asleep in their dragon and cat doughnut. The sight made Nadec’s spirits soar even more than before. She had Wyny’s support. Of all the people, that one meant the most to her. It was the most significant. Even though she had to flee her city now after all, at least she had hope. And she would spend more time there than here, of that she was certain. This was now a fairly comfortable place to spend the night, butt hat was all. She still had work to do.
The following day she spent the morning [briefing] Melia and Name. She still despised calling them servants, so she avoided doing that as much as she could. Melia knew much of what she said already, with the exception of the events at the castle last night. Nadec didn’t fill them in on all the details, but merely let them know the gist of what had happened. With that done, she Skipped the women back to the city, inside of the Stockhouse. She then gave Kitty a big hug, trying to get assurance he’d be alright while everyone was gone. Hopefully he wouldn’t jump of the edge. Blackie gave her a wink as she said it out loud to Kitty. What did that mean? When she asked, the dragon replied cryptically: ‘Fine will be.’
‘Well then, I suppose if you say so, it should be,’ Nadec said, sarcasm heavy. The dragon merely sat on her haunches and looked at her, panting with her tongue out like a dog. Nadec couldn’t help but snort at that. damn dog.
She Skipped Blackie straight into the air above Hexago, the same spot as the day before, at the same time she Skipped to the Stockhouse. She stood there for a moment, feeling satisfied with herself. Her Skipping had improved immensely. She still worried about the coming days. So many more challenges to come.
Melia pulled Nadec out of her thoughts.
‘I found this inside, against the door. It is directed to you.’
Fear and curiosity guided the chill [verb] over Nadec’s neck and back. Someone was here, and knew she came here, regularly enough to find a package. She accepted it from Melia, with trepidation. It was a book, wrapped with a cloth. A note inside the frist pages read:
Niece, this might be helpful. Don’t be mistaken, this does not mean I am wholly on your side. I want to keep ‘Tat safe. As you promised you would. I trust you to keep your word.
There was no name, but Nadec didn’t need any. This obvously came from he uncle. What…?
Her mouth opened of its own accord as she leafed through the pages, and read a few sentences.
“Notes on Skipping. I decided to keep this personal journal on my progress for the Line of Skipping, as it goes for me. I have been helped with blah blah’s account before, so I want to return the favour. Hopefully these notes will be helpful to one of my future family members.”
Nadec had to go sit on pne of the crates. Her uncle had given her his own personal journal about Skipping. This proved how much he cared about Patat. Such a priceless gift.
Sudden panic coursing through her blood made her jump upright, which in turn made her queasy enough to have her sight replaced by black spots. The book had been here. He had been here. Her uncle knew about this place. She rubbed her nose between her eyes. Of course he would know. He’d provedn to know about Krodec and Stetem, so of course he’d know about this.
‘We can’t use the stockhouse anymore. Blonky wallops in livercod!’ Why did it all have to go in ups and downs all, the, time?
‘My uncle knows of this. I believe he’ll probably leave me alone until Patat is safe. After that, this stockhouse is out of limits.’