So, all those exclamations of trust from both Wyny and Patat had overwhelmed me massively. After all of the self-doucht which had plagues me, it was a serious relief to get validation from the person who mattered most. The one whom I thought had betrayed me and usurped my kingdom, actually fully supported me. Such an amazing feeling. Back in the inn, it seemed things had changed a bit, despite what I’d wanted. It escalated, and *sounds of 3 beds dropping on top of a plant-covered statue*
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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 48 No safety
Nadec fell on her hand and knees, silent sobs twitching her body. She moved to sitting with her knees folded underneath 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. You, get that halberd of her. Find her wounds.’
‘No,’ Nadec swallowed hard, ‘not hurt.’ She swallowed again, feeling self control return. Someone tugged at her halberd but it didn’t lift from her back. Nadec released Melia from the hug and smiled at her. ‘Happy. Appreciated. Wanted.’
With the worst of the crying fit over, she looked around the room. A servant stepped away, frowning at the halberd. The bed had been pushed on its side, against the wall, providing an open space. Another servant—Nadec realised it was her new one, Meralda—came running in with a basin, presumably containing hot water. She stumbled as the innkeeper bumped into her from behind.
Melia still kneeled next to Nadec, urging Meralda to come closer. She dipped one of the cloths in the water, wrung it out, and wiped Nadec’s face. She would have protested if the warm cloth hadn’t felt so good on her teary-puffed skin.
‘Are you certain, mistress?’
‘Yes, I am, I’m not physically hurt. Not even mentally hurt. Just… overwhelmed, I suppose. I’m sorry for making you panic. But what is going on here? What happened to the room?’
Melia frowned and nodded towards the innkeeper. He wrung his hands as Nadec locked her gaze onto him. Oh no, she felt a dread rise, what has he done?
‘Oh, uh, my lady. I mean, my Quee— heh, my lady princess, 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 enter 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 course 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, skipe to, was it, so I had my men clear it, so you can now keep this room for your skiping, is that good, that was good, so huh, yes, that is it.’
Nadec closed her eyes. Foolish, foolish man. Instead of just leaving things as they were, as she had asked. Now he’d made such a big stir; he might as well have put a neon sign on top of his inn, pointing toward it, saying ‘Nadec Ichau is here, here she is, the princess, right here, the real heir, here here, come and see.’
She’d have to change inns. She felt bad for having to do so, especially after having two people tell her how much trust they had in her. She wasn’t certain if she had the heart to disappoint anyone at this moment.
‘So despite me asking you not to do anything, you went ahead and did this? Do you want everyone to know I am here?’
It seems she could still scold people. It had nothing to do with trust anyway. As a Queen, she’d have to act like this soon enough. Still, a sliver of guilt crept its way into her chest.
‘Oh, huh,’ the innkeeper stammered, ‘no, it is not like that, my Quee—heh—my lady princess, 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 something was going on, we told them we had to empty all rooms, and uh, we gave everyone their money back, and some more, and put them outside to find another inn. See, my Que—lady princess, no one is here anymore, only us, so no one can betray you.’
That was even worse. Everyone searching for Nadec would certainly know where to find her now. Foolish, foolish man. She shouldn’t even stay the night.
‘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 which only added onto the madness. As if my opinion was best ignored, and even counteracted. Honestly, I do not know how he has managed to have a successful 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, and how?
‘My dear man,’ she felt proud of 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 disappointment and misery on his face, so 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.’ She cringed inside.
The man’s face lit up at the praise and he stammered a thank you.
‘I will need several items from you. Melia, where is Kitty?’
A short time later, and a long distance farther, three beds appeared on top of the piece of statue. Melia and Meralda looked around wide-eyed from atop their bed. Meralda whimpered as she saw Blackie, a black outline at the edge, warned by Nadec not to stay in the middle. She came closer, and Kitty jumped of Nadec’s bed with a meow, running towards the dragon. Both purr machines added to 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.’
They removed all the things they brought along from the beds, and moved them in a better position. The innkeeper had been able to provide them with a small outdoor kitchenette and spare pots. They had enough vegetables to make food for the next few days, and several jugs of water and a few sneaky ones containing wine. The innkeeper had reassured Nadec she could always return for more supplies. Nadec had assured him she would.
By the time they finished setting up, Blackie and Kitty had fallen asleep in their dragon and cat doughnut. The sight made Nadec’s spirits soar even more. She had Wyny’s support. Of all the people, that one meant the most. It was the most significant. Even though she had been forced to flee her city after all, at least she had hope. She considered finding another inn, but the risk would be too large. There was no way of knowing whom to trust.
The following day, late morning, she first Skipped only the women back to the city. She then gave Kitty a big hug, trying to get assurance he’d be alright while everyone was gone. Hopefully he wouldn’t jump off the edge. Blackie gave her a wink as Nadec spoke 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 into the air above Hexago, the same spot as the day before, at the same time she Skipped herself to the stockhouse. She stood there for a moment, gloating. Her Skipping had improved immensely. She still worried about the coming days, with so many more challenges to come.
Melia pulled Nadec out of her thoughts. Meralda stood throwing up in a bucket against the wall. Nadec felt glad she’d warned her of the second time Skipping-effect.
‘I found this inside, against the door. It is directed to you.’
Fear and curiosity crawled over Nadec’s neck and back. Someone knew she came here regularly enough to leave a package and be certain it would be found. Trepidation tensed her muscles as she accepted it from Melia. It was a book, wrapped with a cloth.
A note read:
‘Niece, this might be helpful. Don’t be mistaken, this does not mean I am 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. Only her uncle would refer to her as niece.
Her mouth opened of its own accord as she leafed through the pages, and read the first few sentences.
‘Notes on Skipping. I am keeping this personal journal on my progress for the Line of Skipping, as it goes for me. Having the guidance of Omadec’s journal, my dear grandmother, is proving to be of priceless value to my learning the Line, so I’m returning the favour, and continuing the family tradition. Hopefully these notes will be helpful to one of my future family members.’
Nadec had to go sit on one of the crates. Her uncle had given her his own personal journal about Skipping. This proved how much he cared about Patat. A priceless gift indeed.
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 proven to know about Kridec and Stetem, so of course he’d know about this.
‘We won’t be able to use the stockhouse anymore. Frankdamn blonky wallops in livercod!’
Why did it all have to go in ups and downs all. The. Time?
‘My uncle knows of this building. He’ll probably leave it alone until Patat is safe. After that, this stockhouse is no longer an option. Nothing in the city will be safe.’
You have been listening to Nadec, chapter 48 no safety
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]