The Caretaker, part 6: Off with the Finery
Kira crumpled the black gown unceremoniously into the trunk. She would have gladly taken out the golden rings in her ears, since they itched incessantly, but she had been warned that they would show ugly red scars if taken out too soon.
“Only wait another month,” she muttered angrily.
The dress she would never touch again. Pacing the room she had been given, she looked through the window at the setting sun. The window was much too tiny to her taste and its iron bars added to the impression of a prison. Resolutely she turned away from the fading light and lit the oil lamp in her room.
Delving in the trunk, she produced a practical set of clothes: a pair of trousers, made to fit snugly and a blouse that would if not hid, at least disguise most of her female form. If she was to blend in, this garb would suit her fine.
Dressed and ready, she had just blown out the lamp when there was a knock at the door.
“Enter!” She did love playing the high lady occasionally.
The door opened hesitantly and the young man that had been sent to fetch the ‘Asurian Lady’ looked in. If her appearance disappointed him, he hid it well.
“You are requested to join the Lord Caretaker and his senior staff for dinner, my Lady.”
He hesitated. “Does my Lady need more time to change.”
“My Lady is quite ready for dinner, good man.”
There was no denying that tone, so he bowed slightly and led the way towards the refectory.
Candles flooded the hall in warm, yellow colours. Seven men sat at the table, talking together in hushed tones. As Kira entered the room, an awkward silence fell. After what seemed like ages, Rannol rose from his chair and gestured to the empty chair next to him.
“Would you care to join us, my Lady? It is not often we get to dine in such pleasant company.” He bowed politely and helped her with her chair. The other gentlemen had risen when Rannol had and were reseating themselves with a bustle.
Kira seated herself gracefully and looked around the table as the men settled back in their seats. Her eyes were drawn immediately to a man across the table from her. It was his face that drew her attention: a myriad of scars covered the complete left side of his face. The face itself seemed friendly enough, belonging to a scholar in his middle years, but the scars gave the man a sinister look that made her shiver. It was the effect that the face had on her that unsettled Kira profoundly, not the face itself.
-> Go to part 7: On Asurian Cuisine