Part 9 - Wake-up Call
Elipson rode her black stallion towards the gates of the outer palace’s wall. The city around the castle was mostly still asleep, although the smoke rising from some chimneys indicated the day was about to start.
She led her horse through streets she knew all too well for her taste; from the rich part of town, across the marked, to what could almost be called the suburbs, and finally stopped in front of an establishment that anyone would define as improper to any lady to attend. Dismounting her horse, she patted it softly on the neck and tied it loosely to the wooden block placed outside for just that purpose. Her warm breath floated in the air in the form of small white clouds. With a glance she confirmed the presence of four other horses that, like hers, exhibited the royal coat of arms and the Black Order’s crest engraved on the leather saddle. Just as she’d expected, she thought with a sigh of resignation and went in, pulling down the hood covering her head.
The small wooden salon was empty. At least empty of anyone that might be able to greet her. The long wooden tables still showed traces of last night’s party, with dirty plates, glasses and overturned empty bottles spread all over the place. The smell was foul, rancid, making her twist her nose in disgust; a mix of wine and beer, sweat and vomit, all too ingrained in that old wooden floor to ever be able to disappear no matter how hard one would scrub it.
Her gaze fell upon two of the Knights she had come to get, sleeping on top of one of the tables, glasses half full still in front of them. With a sigh she walk towards the largest man and shook him awake.
“Lamar! Wake up already!” she ordered, her patience running low, and Lamar mumbled something that made her turn away with haste, his breath even worse than the global stench of that place. “Lamar! It’s morning! Wake the hell up!!”
The Knight raised his head, holding it between his hands, and smiled towards the woman in front of him.
“Morning, Elipson …”
“I seriously doubt it. Can you please just wake up? It’s almost time to start, back at the camp. And take Mahel with you!” she added, pointing towards the other Knight sitting across from him, his face half dipped in what seemed to be the leftovers of stew. “Where’s Arkel?” she asked, knowing that where Mahel was Arkel was bound to be as well, and Lamar pointed lazily towards a narrow, dark flight of stairs.
“Upstairs. Miara took him. Denar is also there …”
Elipson tried as hard as she could to maintain her untouchable expression in placed and walk towards the stairs she knew would lead her to the bedrooms' floor.
Opening the first door to the right, she went in and walked unceremoniously directly towards the window. It was hardly the first time she went in those rooms, which meant she knew the place as well as if she herself had slept in those beds. Pulling the curtains apart, she allowed the light of day to fill the small room, and murmurs of complaint raised from the couple sleeping on the large bed. Without even stopping she went to the man’s side and unmercifully pulled back the covers, which worked like a charm. The Knight sat up in alarm, suddenly wide awake, and looked at her in disbelieve, before realizing he was completely naked and that she was staring at him with those cold grey eyes.
“Elipson!” he practically screamed, pulling back the covers, trying to cover his private parts, and she smiled, almost threateningly, launching a shiver down his spine.
“Good morning, Arkel. Time to get up! Lamar is waiting for you downstairs.”
“Freaking hell!! I hate when you do this! One of this days I’ll…” he stopped midway as her expression grew even darker, enough to make him shudder.
“Hurry up, before I kick your naked butt down the stairs,” she added, this time almost softly, and he swallowed dry, not wanting to aggravate her any further. Elipson was in a bad mood … “Oh, and good morning to you too, Miara.”
The girl that hid among the sheets, on the other side of the bed peered at her and smiled, waving her a goodbye as she left.
One more room … Denar.
She stopped in front of the door and took a deep breath. Raising her head and stepping over the sharp pain that tortured her insides, she slowly opened the door. The damp light of the corridor spilled over the room’s floor where she could see pieces of clothing hastily abandoned here and there. Elipson went in as silently as possible and bent near the girl, sleeping beside the Knight.
“Riane …?” she called her in a whisper and shook her softly. “Riane …!” Denar, at her side, turned around but, to her relief, didn't wake up. Riane, on the other hand, opened her clear crystal-green eyes and, seeing her there, right in front of her, smiled childishly.
“Elipson … It’s good to see you.”
Elipson forced a smile and signaled the girl so she would keep quiet.
“Can you please wake him up …? He has to return to the palace.”
Riane looked over to Denar and smiled, nodding obediently.
“Elipson … please come back later. I miss our talks …” the girl added as she stood up to leave.
“Hum … yeah … Who knows, later.” she replied in a murmur and left, closing the door behind her.
Her heart beat so fast that it seemed about to explode, and tears burned in her eyes. Raising her head, annoyed with her own weakness, Elipson rubbed her eyes hard, condemning her silly tears. In large steps she went down the stairs and out of that place, back to the castle where her cadets awaited her.