Prologue 4

When Nana lay back in bed that night, she thought of the various things she had done that day and went over what she experienced.

History lesson and archery lessons were surprisingly calming. Tea time, food, even spending time with pets or Wynette didn’t make as much difference.

It had been increasingly evident to those closest to her, as well as herself, that nightmares and their content had an unusually strong grip upon her.

Nana had stopped enjoying getting ready to go to bed. The fear of a reoccuring nightmare incentivised her to stay awake as long as she could. But the instinct to sleep is a persistent beast, and eventually it will wear down even the most steadfast of victims.

Before she knew it, Nana was back to revisiting the very nightmare that kept her awake. But unlike the other times, she had ample opportunity to detense; she felt ready to face her nightmare this night.

————

Nana went to the archery range after her history lesson again, and Meli had come to correct bad postures or mistakes.

Nana breathed in and lifted up her bow, already nocked with an arrow. Readying her bow, she stood as still as a statue. All of her mind was focused on landing the shot upon the target and the path the arrow must take.

She mentally gauged just how far and how fast the arrow will fly.

Once she was ready, she let go of the string, and with a whistle of the wind cut by the string, Nana focused on watching her arrow fly towards the archery target.

Tnnk

“Bravo! Excellent!” Meli exclaimed from behind. “That’s excellent!”

Nana turned around and beamed back at Meli. On the archery target board, all 10 shots had landed within the target with none in the dirt.

“I think I like archery” Nana stated. Meli almost rolled her eyes.

“I think you’re talented. This is only your second day with the bow and you’re already good enough to be a sharpshooter.” Meli continued to praise Nana.

The congratulatory mood was cut short when Wynette burst out of the back door of the manor.

“What the…” Nana and Meli said simultaneously. Wynette caught her breath and composed herself.

“Miss Fulia is on her way here.” Meli seemed to go blue in the face.

“Quick go follow Wynette! You need to get ready!” Meli urged Nana to go.

“Oh, ok…” Nana said as the two servants rushed her to her room to help her change.

“Wynette, I’ll assign someone else to clean her clothes and tidy up the room. You are to be by Miss Nana’s side for the duration of miss Fulia’s visit.”

“Understood ma’m!” Wynette replied happily, probably because the amount of chores dropped dramatically.

“Give them a welcome worthy of an earl’s household.” Meli said before breaking off and rushing off to somewhere.

Wynette dragged Nana to her room as fast as she could and closed the door behind them.

“Strip. I’ll get you change of clothes. Don’t forget to wipe your hands on that towel by the door so you don’t get mud all over the place!” Wynette ordered as she rushed into Nana’s walk-in closet.

Nana removed the leather fingerless gloves and breast plate and placed them on the table she had put down her bow. She was just about to finish removing both her shoes when Wynette reemerged.

“Here, put this on first while I get a comb and fix your hair a bit.” Wynette commanded as she handed over the first layer of pure white clothes.

Nana removed the leather straps of her outdoors attire and climbed out of her outermost layer. She removed the second layer of silk shirt and placed them on the ground – one of the other servants will come pick them up.

By the time Nana slipped on the white undershirt, Wynette brought out a pastel green dress.

“Let’s do these.” Wynette said, holding up a Green Laced Sandals.

“Good idea. I’m sure Fulia will be delighted.” Nana said approvingly.

“Come, come. Turn around. Put it over your head.” Wynette ordered. Nana obliged and raised her hands.

Wynette put the dress over Nana’s head and pulled it down. She then worked on the straps located on the back.

“How close is Fulia from the manor?” Nana asked Wynette as Wynette tied the green laced sandals on Nana’s feet.

“She’s already waiting in the waiting room.”

“Oh crap. Let us hurry then.”

“Almost done” Wynette reported

————-

“Nice of you to join us, miss Fulia.” Nana greeted Fulia who was sitting on a chair in the waiting room.

Fulia’s sandy colored hair was tied back like those of a shield maiden and when she bowed in response, her scales glistened in the sunlight. Fulia was a Snake Demihuman. Although she was not a Naga, as she had human legs and limbs, her long slender tail poked out from under the dress.

“Lady Nana! Hello!” Fulia said gleefully as she followed Wynette in. She was already out of her travel clothes and into her usual indoor outfit dyed in lime green color of her clan. One of her fang protruded out of her lips as she smiled.

“Are you hungry?” Nana asked, indicating that there were other servants in the room to help if needed.

“I already ate, but I’d welcome dinner when it is time, miss.” Fulia replied courteously. “How is the Madam?” She asked politely.

“Mother is in the middle of her expedition to the north. She’s usually gone for a full season at a time so she won’t be around for a while.” Nana replied.

“Ah, I see.”

“So, what brings a member of the renowned Deima family all the way up to this humble little town?” Nana asked, jokingly as pompous as possible.

“Oh, my lady, to see you of course!” Fulia replied in like, doing a very low bow. But when she sat back up she had a discontent face. “But seriously, I needed to get away from my brothers.”

“Tell me everything.” Nana said, moving to a chair closer to Fulia. Wynette followed suit and selected a chair close by, but not before grabbing a water jug and few cups from the side bar.

“They keep pestering me to start training for knighthood. Muscle brains, my entire family…” Fulia began to complain.

“But Miss Nana is a muscle brain as well.” Wynette interrupted. Fulia gazed over to Nana before replying

“But she doesn’t insist I become one as well.” she replied

“Hey… did you two just assume that I’m just as muscle brained as her brothers?”

“Ahh… when will they realize that my passion is in battle of wit and words, not brute strength and masculinity.” Fulia comically pretended not to hear Nana.

“Wait, am I masculine?” Nana asked shocked.

“No, miss. You are the most adorable and cute lord the world has ever seen.” Wynette cooed and patted Nana’s head as if she was a baby.

“So what happened this time?” Nana asked, ignoring being treated like a baby.

“Well you see, my parents were considering running a tournament for winter…” Fulia began her story.

Nana and Wynette both listened attentively, as it was rare to get gossip of any kind where they lived; the story of the Deima family dynamic was both fresh and interesting.

“My family, as in my brothers, wanted me to form a team with them.”

“Ooh… that sounds interesting.” Wynette replied.

“That much is fine. However, the problem was that they were one member short.”

“Oh. So that’s where you come in.” Nana finished Fulia’s words. Fulia nodded.

“It is as you say, miss. They got this dumb idea in their heads that ‘no’ means they just need to be more persistent and try out new tactics.”

“Oh no, that’s terrible!” Wynette and Nana exclaimed loudly.

“Mhmm. Very annoying to be anywhere close to them. They follow me around and bother me instead of practicing for the tournament. I tried everything to get them off my back. But my parents also wanted to see me participate as well so they did nothing to stop my brothers. Once my brothers realized that they had unspoken approval from our parents it only got worse, until I just had to leave.”

“Well, you are among friends here.” Nana reassured Fulia.

“Yeah, the only battle related thing the lady practices is archery.” Wynette blurted out.

“This might not be such a good timing for that…” Nana tried to tell Wynette but was interrupted by Fulia.

“Archery? Lady Nana practices archery?” Fulia asked immediately.

“Yes, she does. Though she started yesterday.”

“How is it? The archery?” Fulia asked Nana with big eyes.

“Uh… I like it It’s meditative and helps calm me down”

“That sounds great! Imagining miss Nana with a bow seems so graceful!”

“Maybe it will take your brothers and your parents off of your back if you worked on archery. None of that brutish bashing over the head stuff,” Wynette suggested enthusiastically.

“Please miss, I would love to try archery out.” Fulia begged. Nana nodded, at loss of words for how quickly the subject progressed and escalated.

—————

“Are you sure you only started doing archery a day ago?” Fulia asked, noting that Nana had already hit the circle three out of 8 times. She herself had managed none thus far

“Yes, Fulia. I swear.” Nana said to her. A second bow was prepared for Fulia just in case.

“Well… at least archery still seems rather calm and collected, unlike sword or spears.” Fulia commented as she looked down at the bow.

“I think Meli mentioned that the bow is more accurate the calmer you are. Maybe you’re not a very calm person.

“Oh please, I hope that’s not the case!” Fulia overreacted to Nana’s tease.

“Come then, try to hit as many as you can!” Nana tried to motivate Fulia towards archery.

Fulia diligently listened to Nana’s instructions. Stood shoulder width, feet and shoulders lined up to the target, let go of the grip and let the bow rest in the groove between thumb and pointer finger. Everything looked perfect. Looked perfect, but not perfect because the arrow was poorly aimed by the shooter

Ffft

Another arrow became embedded in the ground. A perfect miss with a perfect posture.

“I wonder what’s lacking” Nana wondered.

“It’s probably a human thing.” Fulia suggested. Nana shook her head but Wynette spoke up first.

“Hardly, humans are known for shields and formations, not really marksmanship.” Wynette refuted. “Archery is associated with Sagittari or Wood Elves.”

“Then maybe I’m just baaad!” Fulia exclaimed. “Just when I thought I found the perfect activity to get my brothers off my back about learning how to fight…”

“It’s ok. It’s only your first day.” Nana consoled Fulia by patting her on the back. “You’ll get better as you practice.

“Did you hit the target on your first day, miss?” Fulia asked Nana, looking up with eyes glimmering with hope.

“Around my 4th shot.” Nana blurted out truthfully. She immediately regretted though, after seeing the look on Fulia’s face.

“Miss Fulia, may I suggest you try a few more times and see if you can improve? I don’t think you should compare yourself to miss Nana too easily.” Wynette suggested. “After all, she is the daughter of Deria.”

Nana looked at wynette with newfound admiration. Her words instantly brought life back to Fulia’s figure.

“You’re right! I’m just normal!”

“Stop it… that makes me feel like some abomination of nature!”

“But it’s a GOOD abomination of nature!” Wynette teased.

The girls giggled and laughed for a while, oblivious of the boy plucking arrows from on and around the archery target.

“I guess I’ll still go home and try to practice more on my own. Thank you Lady Nana, thank you Wynette.” Fulia voiced her gratitude sincerely.

“Well then, Wynette would you like to try as well?” Nana offered.

“Please do poorly, please do poorly” Fulia began to pray and chant.

“Hey! Stop cursing me!” Wynette complained.

Little by little, Nana felt the grip of nightmare over her begin to weaken .

“Poor wynette. I think she was trying to help you.”

“Help with what exactly?” Wynette snapped her neck towards Nana.

“Save you from embarrassing yourself.” Nana said with a grin.

“Ha! As if! Gimme that” Wynette grabbed the bow Fulia was holding.

Fulia watched while chanting a curse to throw Wynette’s aim off.

Wynette took up the firing pose and then said “Don’t underestimate a knightly family!” She said shortly before missing the target entirely.

Fulia and Nana broke out in a roaring laughter.

 

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