Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the seventh chapter of a wonderful story from Belladonna Rose, entitled
Black Rose Chronicles
Background music by Smartsound
He motioned for Emily to come over and whispered to her. The lady turned and gave Bella a smile and headed to the stairs. After a few minutes the girl came to the edge of the staircase and called out to Bella.
“Lady Belladonna your bed is ready. Please follow me.” And away she was gone. Belladonna went up the steps one at a time. Fatigue was about to win her over. Once she got to the top she saw a curtained off area and several beds..a couple occupied. As she walked towards Emily her heart jumped to her throat. How was she supposed to tell this girl such horrible news?
Walking up to Emily she lay a hand on the girl’s shoulder. Looking up into Belladonna’s face Emily knew somehow this was not going to be good news. A tear slid gently down her face and she hung her head.
“I am so sorry dear.” Pulling the sword out from under her cloak she presented it gently to Emily.
Taking the sword from Bella she hugged it tightly to herself. Walked over to a chest hidden in the corner. Unlocking it she opened the lid and gently placed the sword inside. After locking it safely away she stood. Brushed off her dirty apron and wiped her eyes.
“Yes indeed. It is sad. But he knew what he was doing. He knew the risks and we both agreed that it was for the best of the world that he go and help those other poor souls. Do not feel sorry for me My Lady. I will be fine.” Emily smiled softly and turned away heading back down stairs.
Belladonna sat on the edge of the cot and hung her head in fatigue. These poor souls have no clue what is going on out there. Yet they keep up the fight and dig in to survive. Truly admiring these people, she decided now…that she had to do what she could to help. No matter what the Oracle or Lady Arabella says she would stand her ground and fight..
Shedding her dirty clothing she slipped quietly into the small hip tub and washed. The water was tepid, but she did not care. It was water, clean and felt good against her weary body. Wrapping herself in a makeshift towel she sat on the cot again, pulled the blanket back and lay down. Sleep….this is what she needed.
Somewhere a rooster crowed. Tiny cracks in the chinking of the wall let in the smallest bits of light and from the sounds below she knew it must be morning. Rolling over she looked about the room. No one was in sight. She stood with the blanket wrapped around her to stave off the cold. Peering around the room more she noticed now how rather clean it was. She had seen worse. She reached for her clothes that had magically appeared at the foot of the cot. Not what she was wearing. Maybe there had been a mistake.
Stepping to the edge of the staircase she leaned down and got Emily’s attention. The young girl smiled and came half way up the stairs. Without Bella even asking Emily informed her that the Lady Arabella had brought her a change of clothing and that her other belongings were in a pack next to the bed. She also told Bella that she would have her some food as soon as she came down stairs.
Shocked a bit she crept back and put on the clothing. A worn but fine cotton shirt. So soft to the touch. Leather tunic, pants and a fine pair of boots with matching gloves. All worn but well cared for items. She wandered to herself they belonged to and then quickly decided not to. More than likely some poor soul that did not survive Solace Bridge. Taking stock of her belongings she grabbed the pack and sword and headed down below.
There at the long trestle table seated a few local folk and one lady patted the seat next to her. She slid onto the bench and looked about. Worn, tired yet friendly faces met her gaze. A few introduced themselves and she did the same in return. One particular man looked warily at her.
“You be one of them there Outlanders. Seems to be a lot of your lot coming through town. Not sure what you all think you can do for us that we can’t do for ourselves. We been having to fight and scratch for everything over the years….Not so sure what some strangers are gonna do to make things better.”
With that said many around the table and the room itself turned their heads away and looked broken again. The fear and despair could be seen in their eyes clear as day. Bella took up her cup and took a drink. Yuck. What in the world is this she thought. Tasted like muddy water. Oh well. She reached for a chunk of bread and small wedge of cheese. As she nibbled away Emily walked over and place a steaming bowl of something in front of her.
“Not the best of meals. But its hot and filling. Will do you some good. Looks as though you haven’t eaten in a while M’lady.”
The steam from the bowl brought a smell she hadn’t smelt for a long time. Stew. Mutton stew.
“Thank you Emily. This will do me just fine. And it smells like what my cousin used to make. ..I am sure I will enjoy it.”
Everyone at the table chuckled and went back to their own meals. Digging into the stew she ate with a robust appetite. Not as good as Aletta’s but it still worth eating. This bowl would not make it to the slop bucket for sure. After a few moments the innkeeper, Richard, brought her a note.
“Note from Mistress Arabella. Says for you to meet her at the blacksmith tent when you be done
eating your fill. She seemed quite eager for you to join her though….so best be quick about it.”
“Thank you Richard. Appreciate the information.”
Licking her fingers in the most unlady like manner she bid all a good day, grabbed her pack and headed to the door. As she stood there Richard pointed to the left gesturing for her to make her way down the road.
Pulling her pack onto her back she stepped down and started in that direction. There seemed to be a few folk milling about the streets. A beggar or two, a few children running about. Seemed pretty quiet and peaceful.
As she walked down the muddy road she saw Lady Arabella ahead. Waving enthusiastically. This woman was so strange. Amidst all the chaos and death she seemed to hold a light in her soul for the good. That much energy must be tiring all the time Bella thought.
“Ahhh Good morning Avatar. You look rested well…I do hope you are ready to start on your
Bella smiled softly and stood next to the lady. Arabella took her by the arm and pulled her towards a tent that covered a smithing forge. There she saw a well-built woman covered in soot and sweating. This must be the local smithy. Strange for a woman to do so but with what was going on it made sense.
“Belladonna Rose….this is Annika the local blacksmith. She will help you get ready for your journey…..And might I say. She is the best smithy this side of East Reach Gap….No matter what anyone else tells you.”
Annika looked at Arabella and smiled. “You be right on that M’lady Arabella. I am. Not that I chose this profession mind you…But being the daughter of a smithy as I am I do know me a thing or two….Even a wee bit more than me poor Pa.”
Belladonna could not help but to laugh. It was nice to see a woman secure in her craft and in her efforts she puts forth. Too many has she seen that took the easy way. Not that being a woman was all that easy. No matter what profession a woman had to work hard at it.
“Nice to meet you Annika….And I am sure your skills are quite suitable indeed.”
Annika looked Belladonna up and down taking measure of her build. And clucking her tongue here and there as she turned her around, poked her in her middle and looked sharply at her features.
“Aye. I should have something that I can make fit ‘er. Might take me a bit to get it done though.
And what weapon ye be using girl?”
Belladonna wriggled and straightened her clothing back in place. Shrugging she pulled the sword out and handed to her. She felt a bit self-conscious of the blade but it ‘was’ given to her.
“Bless me soul. That be a guard sword. What ye doing taking that ….Did ya steal it from a dead guard or sumthin?”
Feeling a bit insulted Bella yanked the sword back and started to think twice of the smithy.
“No I DID NOT steal it. I brought it back to his widow….who in turn bade me keep it that it
might serve me where it did not him….Thank you very much for assuming the worst of me. I suppose you have low esteem for other Avatars as well.”
The smithy snorted and wiped her nose with her sleeve. Looking a bit sheepish for her accusations.
“Nay. Just don’t be seeing those swords in the hands of strangers is all. No offense made deary. And if you be talking about poor Emily at the inn then I agree. I do hope it does you good.”
Reaching out her hand she took the sword back and told Bella she would have it ready along with the armor as well.
Smiling as usual Arabella took her by the arm and waved to a man across the road. She was determined I think to introduce her to everyone in town.