So, Wyny’s grandmother. Coincidence? Not a coincidence? I was certain I would hear more of the story, without having to beg for it, and yes, she did begin explaining things to me until we got interrupted by the serving woman. That was unusual, they’re supposed to be unobtrusive, aren’t they? This one had other plans, so things turned more heated quickly *scraping and toppling of chairs*
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This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
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Episode 45: A second servant
‘Wy—Pagewyn is your grandson, and you’re opposing him, in secret?’
Nadec couldn’t help keep the incredulity out of her voice. She busied herself shortening the halberd’s shaft, placing it on her back, and removing the harness. Rieatta didn’t say anything— no one did—which made Nadec feel even more awkward. All those eyes staring at her. Balls. It wasn’t until Nadec searched for a place to sit and lay the halberd, Rieatta pointed towards two empty chairs at the head of the long table. Melia had already found a chair against the wall, where a few other servants sat.
‘It is by no means a secret,’ the older woman barked a laugh as she sat herself next to Nadec. ‘My grandson knows well enough I have never agreed with the Order of the End, and he should have never accepted the throne. But he—’
The door flew open. All heads swirled to look at the serving woman standing in the doorway, slightly shrinking in on herself. She held a large tray, full of pitchers and cups.
‘What are you doing, Meralda?’ The voice came from one of the men. Nadec tried to recall his name but failed miserably. Something like Keedy, Beleeny, Veleeny?
‘I’m, I’m only bringing more drinks, to accomodate for the new arrivals,’ she nodded her head towards Nadec, tried to curtsy while stepping towards the table, but nearly lost the balance of the pitchers on the tray. Her face, already blushing from the attention, turned a shade redder. ‘I couldn’t hold this tray with only one hand, so opening the door wasn’t easy. Apologies if I startled you.’
Her eyes didn’t seem to be able to look away from Nadec as she spoke. A long sigh escaped her lips when she managed to put the pitchers down on the table without spilling anything. Before the sigh ended, she was on the floor on one knee, hands on top of the other one, head bowed, in front of Nadec. Here we go again, Nadec thought.
‘My dear princess Ichau, could I please swear my fealty to you? Because I do swear it. Fealty, I mean. I swear it now, I will be loyal to you. And can I please also apply for work at the royal court, I can—‘
‘Meralda!’ The same man as before now jumped to his feet, his chair toppling backwards. A mixture of embarrassment and anger showed on his face. Meelan, Breelan, Veleenan?
‘I’m sorry, Bronsam,’—Really, Nadec thought, I wasn’t even close—’I am really grateful for you to give me the opportunity here, but if I can improve… My lady, please, I have five years of experience working as a servant and pouring drinks, and helping the cook. Do you know how versatile being a serving woman is? I promise there are many good skills you could use, and—‘
‘That’s enough,’ Rieatta’s voice cut the woman off. ‘Did you truly barge into a meeting of us to harass the future queen for work? While leaving the door open in the process, so all the patrons can look in to see and hear what you’re doing. This is supposed to be a meeting behind closed doors, and I am certain our lady Ichau would like to keep her presence still a secret for the moment.’
Meralda shrank further back at every word until she sat on her arse, the redness in her face replaced by a pale tinge.
‘Oh, no, my Lady O’Elope, it is not like that. I have sent the patrons away for the night and closed the inn.’
‘You what?’ Yelled Bronsony. Nadec cursed softly. She’d forgotten his name again.
‘I… just… yes… but… oh.’ Meralda hung her head and mumbled: ‘I got so excited when I heard lady princess Ichau say who she was, I could not possibly not do anything at all. I am sorry, it was a mistake, I suppose?’
‘You squared sure it was a mistake. Go pack your bags, girl, enough mistakes made. I don’t need you here anymore.’
Meralda’s eyes filled with tears, and she picked herself up from the floor. That Breensy fellow was certainly an angry one. The poor woman kept her head down as she made her way out of the room.
‘Hold on,’ Nadec commanded, surprised at the way her voice sounded. A perfect blend of command and friendliness. A queenly voice. Hopefully she could remember it for later. Meralda stopped, but didn’t turn around. Instead, she hunched her shoulders forward even more.
‘I do believe I could use another servant, what do you think, Melia?’
Melia nodded with a smile and glistening eyes. Nadec felt proud at herself for not choking on the word servant.
‘That’s it then. Meralda, I hereby appoint you the duty of official servant to me. Go get your things and join Melia there against the wall. Thank you.’
Meralda did turn around then, a hopeful expression transforming the tears of sadness into tears of joy.
‘Go on,’ Nadec waved a hand to urge her along. She addressed the companions again. ‘Now, where were we? I believe you were about to tell me why you oppose your own grandson, Rieatta?’
The old woman gave a slight nod, the corners of her mouth turned upwards.
‘Yes, so I was. He himself never agreed with the values of the Order of the End. But when your parents disappeared, the kingdom found itself without a ruler for the first time in hundreds of years, perhaps even thousands. Several families pushed their candidates forward, and Lord Pagewyn was one of them. With the difference that the Order supported him. Only two weeks later, Lord Pagewyn was inaugurated. We believe it had been the Order’s intention all along. We also believe, and I am sorry to say this, that the Order was behind your parent’s disappearance.’
‘That,’ Nadec said, ‘doesn’t sound surprising to me. But you keep saying disappearance, don’t you mean death?’
‘We have never found any proof of death. So we keep the hope they are still alive somewhere. The day we discovered they had a child, and old enough to receive The Wooden Water Crown soon, was the best day since the news of their disappearance. Your aunt and uncle did a great job of keeping it a secret, but we have good detectives among us.’
‘Wait, you knew about them? I thought even their existence was supposed to be unknown?’
‘Yes, they would like to think that.’ Rieatta’s smile deepened. ‘I am still fascinated by how they truly believed no one would discover the queen’s own sister living close by the city. Did they believe no one would remember the so-called lost sister?’
Nadec grunted in acknowledgement.
‘Did you also know my uncle, the long-lost brother, Jodec, is still alive?’ she asked.
Gasps and murmurs rose around the table. Rieatta smile melted. Balls, Nadec thought, I suppose they didn’t know this one.
‘Jodec lives?’ Rietta’s voice trembled, but Nadec couldn’t be certain from which emotion. She laid a hand on Nadec’s arm. ‘Please, how can you know of this? Are you certain, is this true?’
‘It is,’ Nadec said slowly. She hadn’t expected such a strong reaction. ‘He’s part of the ones from the Order who’s been trying to kill me. And I’ve seen him do his camouflage thing, and Skipping.’ Nadec frowned. ‘I’m surprised you didn’t know, actually. I’m quite sure he openly walks around in the Order. I believe he goes by the name of Klappah. I don’t know what position he has, but it seems fairly high. Since he’s in charge of finding and killing me,’ she ended wryly.
Rieatta’s grip on Nadec’s arm grew tighter with every word. By the end, all blood appeared drained from her face, and she gripped the edge of the table with her other hand. Nadec steadied her at the shoulders, staring at her in concern, looking for signs of a heart attack.
‘It’s been so long,’ the old woman finally said softly. ‘Fifty years since he disappeared. I was…’ She blinked rapidly. ‘Was I eighteen when he disappeared? I believe so. We were, from a young age, meant to marry each other. Our families encouraged us to be friends ever since we were merely children. Marrying him would mean I would become the new Queen, once he received the crown. We did become more than only friends near the end. We were smitten for each other and what we saw as a beautiful beginning. It…’ Her eyes focussed on Nadec, and she looked around the room.
Some of the faces looked back in sympathy, others in embarrassment, with a few avoiding her gaze altogether. Rieatta cleared her throat. She let go of the table and Nadec. Nodded her thanks for the support, and straightened her back again, too dignified to acknowledge her temporary lapse in demeanor.
‘So he is trying to kill you, is he? Not very smart of him. He should know better. I see the Order has corrupted his mind, as it does to everyone. Such a vile organisation.’ She eyed Nadec sideways. ‘With your help, we will be able to execute some of the plans we have. And of course, we can help you make the prophecy reality. We are not certain where that prophecy has sprouted from all of a sudden, but we do know it will need to come true, all of it, to get the people on your side. It does not hurt to help it a bit, does it?’
Nadec smiled a sly smile back. ‘No, it certainly doesn’t hurt,’ she said.
She thought about telling them where the prophecy had come from, and it’s fakeness, but she wanted to give these people some real hope. They’d done enough good things to help her cause, and Nadec knew they’d be doing much more, if what Rieatta said was true.
Several hours later, Nadec found herself standing in an empty throne room. She glared at it from where she stood in between the side columns. Patat was gone. Where had they taken him, and why? She looked around to make sure of the room’s emptiness, and stepped out to the center. A faint outline of Patat’s cage still marked where it had stood. It must’ve only just happened.
Balls. She’d only left the Wobbly Wine Glass thirty minutes before, after the meeting had ended. It had proven to be a good idea to go. She gained more loyalists, and more help to make the prophecy come true.
She’d skipped straight from the inn to her own room with Melia. She’d asked her innkeeper to take Meralda along and give her a room. Despite Nadec urging the innkeeper not to change her rooms, she expected things to have changed when she returned later tonight. Hopefully Melia could keep an eye on everything. She wouldn’t want Kitty to get lost because of that silly man.
Where had Patat gone? Standing here staring at the floor wouldn’t help find him. She straightened to go roam the castle when a voice spoke.
‘He is gone. No more secret meetings with him, hah.’
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 44 the wobbly wine glass
Narrated, adventured and lived through by myself, Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. [music on background]