Friday Friend from Raonal by K. Caffee

“Are you Raonal?”

I looked over my shoulder at a hulking brute leading a bevy of other brutes.  “Who asks?”

“I am Immanhov, the estate’s sineigs.  I am to escort you to your quarters, where you will have the peace required to finish your commission.”

I quirked an eyebrow at that statement.  “I was unaware that boarding came with the bargain.  I have already made arrangements for -“

“Tell me where, and arrangements will be made for your rent to be canceled and your coin returned.”

“Why would I wish to stay in a flea-infested inn?  The stars are roof enough for me, and the breeze a better companion than any amount of groans and screams through thin walls.”

Put a wolf in a cage, and all you get is an angry wolf.  Is this a cage, or are they really being polite?

“Then it is settled.  You will stay at the castle.  We have a large tower room reserved for those who prefer light and air to damp and dark.”

“And I am certain you expect me to live on … Pray tell who the special order is for?”

“Her Eminence, Seonase, our Prince’s consort.”

With a sigh, I rolled my carpet.  What a tangled path I walk.  How did I find myself caught up in this sun-blighted, web-spawned mess?  I was free just a few marks ago, now I am expected to stay in one place until when?

I followed Immanhov into the castle and down more corridors than I could count.  How I missed the flat smell of an undead when the commission was made I could not guess.  Even with my sensitive nose, the scents around the market must have masked it, and I had been too eager to get some real coin.  Now, all I could smell were the vampires that lived in this pile of stone.

When Immanhov opened the door to my quarters, I stopped and stared.  Compared to the Courts, the heavy wood and gilt highlights were mere tawdry trinkets.  Compared to the quarters I had while traveling with Master Gil, these quarters were fit for royalty-something I knew I was not.  I looked at my guide, mouth working but not making a sound as I tried to ask if these luxurious quarters were for me.  I cannot if the brutes that accompanied us thought I was refusing, or simply stalling.  Two hands-one on either shoulder-gave me a hard push through the door.  As my heel cleared the threshold, the door slammed shut and I heard a heavy bar drop across it on the other side.

Just great.  Not only am I going to be forced to be in one place for ages, I will do so as a prisoner.

With a groan, I dropped my pack to the floor, forgetting that I had not properly stored my wares.  A “thunk” made hitting the stone proved to be phials I kept from Master Gil’s stash breaking.  Their stench soon overpowered the room as I tried in vain to open a window.  The window finally swung open enough that air could seep in around it, and some of the stench could seep out.  When I felt the first tentative wisps coming in, I stuck my nose into the crack and dragged in a lungful of the uncontaminated air with as much gratitude as I could muster.

I hope I can wash that stench away.  I do not look forward to living in it until it fades.  Knowing what it did to the vixens at Court, I can only imagine what it would do here.  I will not survive those encounters, no matter what my stamina is.

After a few breaths to clear my lungs, I forced the window open even further, creating a hand’s width gap between the upright and the sill.  Knowing I had to get everything out of my storage pocket before the scents permeated the thin barrier between here and there, I searched through the quarters until I found a semi-empty room I could use for a workroom.  As quickly as I could, I unloaded everything I had stored through a secondary access I quickly created.

I wish those phials had not broken.  The more accesses I make, the more likely I will lose something I do not intend to.  I cannot move the access from the bottom of the pack to comfort level without reaching through the spilled perfumes, and I know how long they will take to wear off my skin – more than five anni.

Whew, that stuff smells good.

With everything piled up on the floor – my worktable, the hides and fae linen bolts, thread, spare clothes, and other miscellaneous items, the room had the appearance of the most organized lady’s bower in the world.  I shuffled through the pile, looking for my curing frames so I could finish curing the rest of the hides I needed.

To read more, check out K. Caffee’s Amazon page or the Followers of Torments series blog.

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