Prologue 3

After lunch time was Tea time in the back gardens. Nana sat and enjoyed warm tea with biscuits Wynette had brought her. Nana watched from under an umbrella the green garden with sparkling dew drops which scattered the lights. A lone lazy cloud drifted by across the ocean of sky. The smell of flowers and buds filled the air and the soft chirping of the birds drowned out other quieter noises.

Not many things could be more relaxing than this. But Nana was reliving her nightmares at that moment. The scenes from her dream were burnt into her memory, like branding leather. She tried to ignore it or to think of something else, but it came back to haunt her nonetheless.

So when Wynette came back with more lemon tea, Nana couldn’t be happier.

“Here you go ma’m… are you okay?” Wynette noticed immediately that something was off.

“I was just…I don’t know… I can’t stop thinking about a nightmare.”

“Don’t worry ma’am. Everyone has nightmares, although it isn’t too common for nightmares to stick around after we wake up.”

“Is that so…” Nana sounded unsure.

“Hey, we’re going to go to our usual room for music once you are done here. Would you like to end tea time early today and help setup for later tonight?” Wynette asked. Nana looked around first at the beautiful sunlit garden and how little it helped to keep her away from fear and terror.

Nana turned to Wynette and nodded.

“Let’s go.”

Wynette picked up the teapot and cup with her tray as Nana stood up.

“Your dress doesn’t look that great on you unfortunately. It clashes against your blonde hair.” Wynette complained regretfully.

“But you picked the dress!” Nana complained, grabbing the dress instinctively.

“It’s ok. I’ll keep it in mind for the next time.” Wynette replied without listening.”

“Fine. Be that way. We’re going to go set up the room so I guess it’s good to wear something I can get dirty without worry.” Nana continued without listening to response.

Nana and Wynette arrived at their destination after a back and forth of sarcastic conversation.

It was a storage room on the 3rd floor. It was one of the few rooms on that floor that had its own window.

When they reached the room, they saw that crates of various sizes were piled and stored away in the room.

“Let’s see… light crystals, water crystals… we should probably be careful not to drop these crates.” Wynette nervously said upon reading few of the labels on the crates. Nana nodded in agreement from the doorway.

“Do we have enough room inside without having to move the boxes out of this room?” Nana asked.

“If you don’t mind the crowded space, then yes.”

“Alright. Let’s try first before we move something we shouldn’t.”

“But miss, is it ok if we pushed some of the boxes closer to the wall and out of the way?” Wynette asked politely.

“Sure.” Nana answered Wynette’s question. Wynette pointed at a stack which Nana picked up. She was able to lift the crates easily despite her small form. The crates were carried and put down closer to the wall that Wynette pointed out.

“I wish I could do that as well…” Wynette complained wistfully. “I envy your Blessing of Nobility.

“But you’re not expected to fight in battles. Why would you need so much strength?”

“It seems convenient to have for housework, the Blessings of the Nobility. Only my oldest brother got it. The rest of us are just plebs.

“Yes, but getting the Blessing for house chore seems…”

“Just saying it’d be nice.” Wynette concluded with a sigh. Nana sat down upon a crate next to the window while Wynette dragged a harp from across the room closer to Nana.

“Slow, fast, happy, or sad?” Wynette asked while test plucking the strings.

“Let’s go with slow happy” Nana suggested, not wanting to sour her own mood even further. Wynette, in response, played several scales in the major cord until she found one she liked.

Wynette began to play variation of scales and notes while Nana hummed in response; sometimes parroting, sometimes accompanying.

The harp was as tall as Wynette and her arms could not yet reach the farthest strings, but the sound of each pluck she was able to make were graceful and soft.

“Long ago, where seven orbs go,
further and further, receded the darkness.

But too far the seven proceeded,
until one day the darkness swallowed them all.

Where did the orbs go,
only the darkness knows.”

—-

Nana was eating dinner when Meli stepped into the dining room and walked up to Nana.

She whispered into Nana’s ears

“The doctor has agreed to come by after dinner tonight.” Meli informed Nana.

“So we get to skip butchery class?” Nana asked, hoping.

“Yes. but remember, as a warrior you cannot be afraid of blood. You must become desensitized.”

“I know. It’s just, using my sword to hack at the animal is brutish and messy. I dislike getting covered in blood and viscera.” Nana complained.

“Either way, since he’s going to come by after dinner time, you may spend that time doing something you’d like. I’ll let Wynette have a break today as well.” Meli said.

“Thank you. I bet Wynette is going to be overjoyed.” Nana couldn’t help but make a helpless grin.

“I am overjoyed! That’s awesome!” Wynette quipped from the other side of Meli.

“Enjoy your dinner.” Meli said finally before stepping out.

“What do you want to do meanwhile?” Wynette asked immediately upon the door closing.

“Wanna play with doggo?” Nana asked Wynette.

“Sorry but ‘playing with Doggo’ is part of my day job. I rather we do something we can both enjoy.” Wynette refused.

“What is it that you would enjoy then?” Nana asked, exasperated.

“Can I play with your hair?” Wynette asked nicely. “If my dear Lady wouldn’t mind, I would like to run through my hands through the lady’s hair.” She replied. Nana nodded. “But after I eat something.”

“Ah, right.”

Nana ate her meal in a very ladylike fashion. Once she was done, she turned to look at Wynette standing there at attention.

“I’m done now. Of we go.” Nana said and led the two of them down the hall like a proper master and servant. However, if one listen in on the conversation between the two –

“There was a fight at the hall earlier. Two of the dishwashing girls got into a big argument~”

“Oh my, did anything get broken?”

Their conversation was nothing but easy-going and friendly.

The duo arrived at a small room with swiveling wall meant for servants to quickly fix or move things out of the way in case there were guests around or not enough time or space to do a more thorough job. Nana sat down on one of the worn out chair and let Wynette do her thing.

“I heard that miss Fulia has arrived last night in town.” Wynette began with her usual gossip.

“Oh? She has? I suppose it’s only a matter of time for her to pop up around here. What do you suppose she brought this time?” Nana replied in kind, thinking of the pastries Lady Fulia liked to bake.

“She might have come without any. From what I’ve heard, she’s escaping from her brother!” Wynette said in an excited whisper.

Nana would have continued the conversation if not for a large crashing noise.

“THAT’S UNACCEPTABLE!” a man bellowed from within the hallway. Nana and Wynette both flinched and stopped whatever they were doing.

They knew the voice well enough to know who it was without checking, but after a nod, Wynette opened the wall a crack so she could verify.

“There was no need for anger.” Meli calmly replied, though clearly put off by the demihuman man before her.

Seeing Meli get yelled at made Nana seethe with anger. Who did that man think he was?

But Nana couldn’t do anything. Not officially. Meli was a slave and it was socially acceptable to mistreat her. After all, the man had probably intentionally raised his voice as a defiance of Deria.

“Come, Miss Nana. Let’s go somewhere quieter.” Wynette quietly bid, tugging Nana slightly.

“Yes. Let’s.” Nana answered, not needing much of a convincing to be moved elsewhere.

The girls walked in silence away from the scene of anger.

“Well… I hate to say this, but…. My break is actually over now, miss.” Wynette reported apologetically. Nana nodded.

“I know. Don’t worry about it. I understand.” Nana replied reassuringly.

“Let me know if you need me. You know that your needs have priority over my schedule.” Wynette reminded her.

“I know. Go ahead and do what you need to do.” Nana urged Wynette. Wynette bowed quickly.

“See you later, miss.” Wynette said to Nana as she left. Nana smiled faintly and waved her bye.

She did not say anything because the flashbacks were back and she was too busy seeing men crying and yelling in a vicious combat.

Nana detested angry shouts because it too easily triggered her recollections of nightmare. And that man, always shouts.

——————–

“Seems like a mixture of high anxiety and insomnia” The Doctor concluded. “The lack of sleep is evident because of the size of the bags under the eyes versus how young you are. Seems like there are things on your mind which keeps you nervous for a large portion of your day.”

“How did you know?” Nana asked, awestruck. Doctor smiled.

“It’s obvious. Your body is showing all the symptoms of high tension. All there is left to do is point out the facts. Try breathing in as you raise your shoulders and let the drop as you exhale.”

Nana did as she was told.

“When you drop your shoulders, let the gravity do its work and let it drop.” The doctor added

“Like this?” Nana asked with her shoulder visibly lower than before.

“That’s your ‘natural’ position. Do you see just how much lower they fell?”

“Oh, you’re right.”

“That’s how tense you were. Practice breathing in and out and learn how to relax different parts of your body, like arms and legs. Stomach too. Different areas that are tense cause pain in their respective spots, or at least put them in an ‘abnormal’ state. If you have too much tension in your stomach you’ll have indigestion, for example.”

“I’ll try I guess.” Nana answered, starting to feel overwhelmed. The doctor seemed to have noticed because he moved on from that topic.

“I’ll have Meli procure medicine for you to help with tension and nightmares, but remember, the things you are experiencing are symptomatic things, the cause is not being addressed. If you rely solely on medication to deal with tension and nightmares, you might not realize the problem getting worse until your nightmare comes back with vengeance, or develop new or more disruptive symptoms of anxiety.”

“Ok. So I should try to think of what causes me to be nervous…”

“I believe one cause is your mother being absent all the time. That is a common cause in children.”

“Thank you Doctor.”

“Let me know if you have any other questions on health.” The doctor said as he stood up.

“I will.” Nana promised.

“Your ride is ready, Doctor.” Meli said from the doorway.

“See you again, Miss Nana.” Doctor bid farewell.

“Bye bye” Nana replied.

The Doctor left and the doors were closed.

As always, the Doctor’s visit was quick and to the point. So much so that now Nana had free time until music time.

“Might as well visit Rugs.” Nana thought as she stood up to leave. For a moment she thought about bringing Wynette along, but Nana knew that Wynette would have chores to do right now so she left alone.

Nana left the private room and walked down the hall to the back door into the garden.

Sun was nearly touching the horizon so there were layers of red and orange clouds among the light blue sky.

When Nana walked out, she felt the warm evening sunlight hitting her from the side. She stood for a bit to bask in the last little bit of sun.

Soon, she turned and walked towards the main stable where horses were kept. Next to the stable was a sizable dog house with big white bushy tail sticking out from within.

“Rugs! Come here!” Nana called for the dog. But Rugs did not so much as twitch his tail. In fact, Rugs retreated the tail inside of the dog house. Nana knocked on the roof of the dog house.

Left with no choice, Rugs slowly emerged from the Dog House and yawned when he was half way out.

Rugs was a big and fluffy dog with long hollow white coat. He laid down on the ground as if to demonstrate where he got his name.

“Oh you lazy dog. Are you even glad to see me?” Nana asked the barely responsive animal.

“Wanna play Catch catch?” Nana offered. Rugs began to groom himself as if bored.

“Want snack?” Nana tried to bribe him. But no response in particular was given.

“Want shower?” Nana sarcastically offered something she thought he’d refuse for sure, something most dogs would dislike. But Rugs stood up slowly and sat before Nana.

“That’s…weird.” Nana said to herself. She reached out to ruffle Rug’s hair and found it much cooler than the surrounding air.

“Ok, come. Let’s go to the stream.”

“Woof” Rags replied. Nana began to walk downhill when she noticed Rugs staring at something and not moving.

“Right. Bucket and big brush…” When Nana finally got both items was when Rugs stood up and began to lazily waddle after Nana.

Nana walked towards a small stream close to the treeline on the southern side of the Manor. On sunny days like these, small ray of light illuminated the clear running water.

Whenever Nana looked upon Rug’s face, she wondered how he could see anything past the hair which fell over his eyes.

Once reaching the stream, Rugs sat and waited for Nana to dump water on him. But once he took two rounds of bucket of cold water, he immediately walked back towards his house.

“…Really rugs? You got what you wanted so you just leave?” Nana said out of exasperation.

“I wonder if any other dogs do the same thing.” Nana wondered as she treked back north towards Rug’s house to drop off the bucket and the unused brush back where they belong.

By the time she was done, the sun was finally more than halfway down the horizon to the west and the streaks of orange reached the clouds directly above.

“And so another day ends…” Nana muttered to herself.

She entered the backdoor and accepted a wet towel from Wynette who was waiting for her there.

“How was ‘playing with doggo’?” Wynette asked with a knowing smile.

“He used me and then left me to dry out in the sun as he walked back home alone.” Nana complained as she wiped her hands.

“I’m going to assume everything you said is literal.”

“Of course.” Nana replied. “Now that we are done with dinner and the sun has gone down, I suppose you’re here to grab me for a wash” Nana guessed. Wynette nodded.

“Very good watson. Come, let us be on our way.” Wynette said in an accent.

“Very funny. Ok let’s go then.” Nana said as she handed the used towel back.

“The doctor didn’t take long, did he?” Wynette asked on the way back. Nana shook her head.

“Apparently the cause of my nightmare is really obvious that it didn’t take much to figure it out. All he suggested I do is figure out the source of my stress and to relax. He gave me a clue that my mother being absent all the time might be part of the cause.” Nana told Wynette. “Doesn’t leave much room for fixing though, since I can’t magically make her stop being busy with work.”

“Wish we could just ask her to stay…” Wynette said wistfully. Nana shrugged.

“I know that her work is important and she gives me as much time as she could afford. Besides, I have you and Meli.”

“Aww, that’s really sweet of you. I guess I’m the weirdo who can live so far from my parents and be fine.”

“You are a weird person for a lot of reason, Wynette.” Nana joked.

“Hmph! It just means I am an interesting person.”

“No one can deny that.” Nana agreed.

Girls fell silent for a few moments as they returned to the room.

“You seem calm the last two days,” Wynette suddenly broke the silence and said.

“Hmm? Really?” Nana asked in reflex. “As in, am I normally not?”

“Yes. You normally look a bit in distress. You grimace a lot.”

“Now that you mention it, I do feel a lot more relaxed.”

“The only 3 unusual things that happened today is doctor’s visit, starting history lessons, and finally learning how to do archery.” Wynette recounted Nana’s day.

“I’m not too sure about the doctor since I see him from time to time, but I felt much better after doing the other two.”

“Well, you look great. I’m glad you found something that helps.”

When the two of them reached the room, Wynette folded her sleeves back and entered the steaming bathroom. Nana took off her clothes on her own to save time. She was unstrapping her outer layer when she heard Wynette mutter to herself.

“Thyme with a bit of rosemary and salt…”

“Is that the recipe for making a soup out of me?

“Ha! As if! You’d make a terrible soup. You’re all bones!”

“And I guess that means that you’d make excellent soup then!”

“Hey! Are you calling me fat?”

“Maybe~. Is the bath ready? Nana changed the subject since she was nearly done disrobing

“Oops, Got distracted by untasty soup jokes. Just a moment.” Wynette stopped joking around and resumed getting the bath ready.

Nana took a deep breath and let it out. Wynette was right. Nana felt much better, as if a large weight was lifted off of her shoulder.

 

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