Sunday, January 15, 2023

Lady of the Lake

They slowly approached a sprawling castle in the early morning hours. Monol had insisted on taking a carriage the last leg of the journey and he left his horses stabled in town. Ioline felt it odd but she wasn’t entirely sure who they were visiting and she was ashamed to admit she knew the surrounding areas only a little. Beautiful gardens filled the front courtyard and the scent filled her head with fairy tales and valor. The beauty of these grounds rivaled the palace. She looked across at Monol who was completely relaxed and seemed a bit sad. She wished she could ask why but before she could start to find the courage, the carriage stopped. 

Monol smirked as Ioline hopped out immediately as the carriage halted causing the driver to sputter. He nodded up at the poor old man as he stepped out and paid. After petting the horses, Monol directed the driver where they could find food and rest until their departure.

“Where are their servants? Surely they heard us approaching.” Ioline squinted at the castle wondering why no one was coming to take their bags. “I feel under dressed,” she complained quietly.

“The lady of the house has never employed servants, though she finally agreed to a well paid staff. They run the kitchens, the gardens, and general tidiness. It was a struggle for her until she saw how much she was helping these families.” Monol grabbed the bags from the ground and strode up the path to the vast door. “If you feel under dressed, you can change once we’re inside, but I can assure you no one here cares what you wear.” 

The door opened and a pale woman with long black hair smiled brightly at them. She had vivid green eyes and the reserved, dignified manner common in elves. Ioline smiled tightly in return. The woman’s hands looked smooth and manicured as she took some bags from Monol and kissed his cheek in greeting. He muttered something and stepped inside leaving Ioline behind. The woman extended her hand in greeting “I’m Nailo, the lady of the house. Welcome darling. I’m not sure if you remember me…” her smile softened. “I wouldn’t expect you to. You were quite young at the time and banquets for girls of that age are for playing and sneaking sweets. Please, come in. I’ll show you to your room.”

Ioline took her hand and was surprised at its warmth. “My room?”

Nailo took her arm and together they walked inside the castle. Monol had set the bags at the foot of a vast staircase and was out of sight. “Of course, darling. Did you expect I’d have your things send to the stables?” 


“Oh, Monol? He is probably heading to the study to discuss business and get updates on the town.” She smiled brightly again. “Come, darling, let me show you around.” Nailo walked lightly to the pile of luggage at the stairs and added what she was carrying to the stack. “We’ll start with the kitchen, you must be starving.”

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