Part 1 - Morning Duty
Allana opened her eyes, jumping to attention, and looked around her.
For an instance she’d been back in Everlyn and Heric had been right there, beside her. Only when she saw the girl that had woken her up did the memories from the day before began to settle in her mind.
She was no longer in Everlyn, and she could still clearly remembered all the places Kahor had taken her to the day before, showing her all the corners and infrastructures that belonged to the Black Knights of Mithir. She had also visited the headquarters of the White Order, and Kahor had introduced her to some of the older Knights.
She recalled returning to the dorm tiered but glad with the choice she’d made, even though the world that surrounded her still seemed a bit unreal.
“Good morning,” she greeted the other girl in a whisper so not to disturb the other girls, and Kahor smiled.
“Brought you this. Hope it fits you. And hurry. We have a lot to do before the others wake up.”
Allana hurried, undressing her sleeping gown and putting on the clothes Kahor had brought her. Too big, she thought folding her sleeves, but at least the black pants helped disguise her thin legs and allowed her to move freely. Tying her hair in a long braid, she washed her face in the basin filled with cold water that awaited her by the bed, and followed Kahor as they both left the dorm with silent steps.
Allana smiled at the weak sun that touched her face and allowed her gaze to roam. Now everything was silent, but she could still remember having seen that same square filled with Knights and cadets, as well as the background sound of swords clashing coming from the training grounds.
Kahor led her to a big door, cut on the outside of the wall of the palace, and pushed it hard. The door creaked, seeming quite heavy, and, from the inside, a warm wave of deliciously scented air touched their noses. Fresh bread and coffee, Allana identified immediately as her stomach complained about the lack of food.
A strong voice reached them, ordering people around, and Kahor smiled, climbing the few steps of the entrance.
Allana followed and stood at the doorway, looking at the immense and quite busy kitchen that opened right in front of her.
A round, red faced woman appeared from behind one of the cupboards.
“Oh! Good morning, child!” she greeted Kahor and her flashing gaze fell upon one of the kitchen girls. “What did I tell you? She’s already here and the bread still isn’t ready!” she scolded and the girl flinched slightly, hurrying about her business.
“Please don’t worry. Today we’ve come a bit earlier,. I wanted to introduce you to my new companion. Her name is Darna. Darna, this Adira. She’s in charge of all maters food related,” Kahor added playfull, and Adira approached them, drying her hands on the apron tied around her plump waist.
“Darna, pleased to meet you,” the woman told her, her black hair flecked with white streaks shining lightly in the morning light, and Allana smiled in retribution.
“The pleasure is mine.”
“Hum … Your face is kind of familiar …” the older woman observed, watching her closely, and Allana felt her heart jump a beat. “Well, never mind. My memory isn’t what it used to be,” she complained with a sighed and smiled.
“Welcome, Darna. I hope you come to like living here,” Adira added and her attention was drawn back to the other cooks. “Careful with that! That platter is irreplaceable and Her Majesty wants it on tonight’s Reception!
“Oh, I see you’re all really busy today. Is it OK if we start carrying out the milk?” Kahor asked and Addira nodded a permission.
Allana followed Kahor’s lead and both girls loaded a small wagon with milk jars. When they finished another wooden cart already awaited them, filled with baskets of deliciously, fragrant bread.
After saying goodbye to Adira, they lead the horses that pulled both wagons all the way to the dining hall, where other cadets helped them unload them. They were almost finished when the first Knights started to arrive for the morning meal. Allana was starving.
“This that we’ve just done is our daily task. Besides this all is asked of you is that you take care of your own things. For instances, if you want clean clothes you’ll have to wash them and dry them yourself. No one will do that for you,” Kahor told her as they walked towards a nearby water fountain, so they could wash their hands. “Of course there are also the common tasks that are divided by everyone, like caring for our training equipment or practicing grounds,” she went on as they walked back to the dining hall.
Allana listened to every word the girl said, but her gaze was locked on the amazing structure that was the palace of Mithir. Even from outside, where she stood, it was amazing how different it was from Everlyn’s. So much more intimidating and sturdy looking. While Everlyn’s palace consisted of three different wings, Mithir’s had been built as a single construction. Obviously higher, it was surrounded by a tall wall of smooth stone, where four watching towers had been erected. It was on the outside of that wall that all constructions related to the Knight’s Orders had been built. And, separating that area and the city was another wall, this one with five watching towers, two of which flanking the big heavy gate she had crossed the day before. Besides those two inner walls Allana still remember having crossed three other gates, as they passed through the city, almost has if the city had kept on growing, and walls had been erected every so often in order to protect those who lived in the outskirts. All in one, Mithir could never be compared to Everlyn, in terms of defenses.
By the time they entered the dining hall the sound of voices filled the air. Kahor went to the end of the already long queue and Allana followed close behind her.
“Oi! Look at that, Saraz! Is it me or we have a new girl!” someone said, right from behind them.
“Oh, you’re right! Maybe she’s lost or something. She probably was looking for the kitchen,” another male voice answered.
“Hey! Girly! We're talking to you! Are you deaf?”
Frowning, Allana turned to answer them but a hand pushed the teen that had just spoken, making him take a few steps back.
“Leave her alone, Teles! She’s under my protection!” Kahor stated, threateningly, and Teles crossed his arms, looking down on her.
“Oh, look at that. If it isn’t everyone’s favorite girl! And since when have you become someone's babysitter, Kahor?” he asked with despise, and a sarcastic and mocking laughter echoed all around them.
“It’s none of your business! Just leave her alone!”
“And why’s that? Can’t she defend herself? If she can’t even do that, why is she here in the first place? You should just pack your stuff and return home, little girl!” Teles added, looking at Allana with contempt, and the girl clenched her fists, ready to show that idiotic brat just how defenseless she really was!
“Teles!” The strong voice that filled the air silenced everyone in the vicinity and Teles went suddenly pale as he turned around to face the severe expression of one of the Knights. “I see you’ve already finished your meal. We have a lot of stands to cover during today’s training.”
“Not a word, Teles! Go and get the weapons, and take them to our training grounds.”
“But … All by myself?” he contested again but the deep frown on the Knight’s forehead made him take a step back as precaution. “I’m on my way,” he added, turning on his heels, and left as fast as he could.
The Knight bowed slightly as he walked by both girls, wishing them a good morning, and left the dining hall dragging Saraz by an arm.
“Who was that?” Allana asked but Kahor didn’t seem to hear her, her gaze lost on the door through which the Knight had just vanished. “Kahor?!”
“Yes!” she finally answered with a jump, blushing deeply in the next instant, and Allana smiled before the other girl’s embarrassed expression.
“Who was he?”
“Ah, his name is Kai. He is the Knight in charge of teaching us spear tecniques. But we don’t learn that on the first grade. First grade is only sword, and more defense than attack,” she explained, and their turn to be served finally arrived.