21 Dec 2018

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Kazimier tended to Nyssa's wound.
Marketplace, Wildwood, the Sylvan Forest
Jyslyn let herself be dragged along by Wren through the market.  The little blonde elf didn't seem to notice the crowd gawking at them; Jyslyn did.  The dark elf fought against well-honed instinct to slip into the shadows, not that there were many.  Overhead, the canopy of leaves thinned, letting the sunlight into the market.  Wren wouldn't let her go, either.  The young elf hadn't let go of Jyslyn since the shackles were removed.  Of course, with Kaleena a few steps behind, if someone tried to attack, Jyslyn would be safe, or so the dark elf hoped.

Wren pulled Jyslyn into a shop.  The young elf dropped her protector's arm to dash further inside.  The owner's expression shifted from warmth to fear on seeing the dark elf.  "Is there something I can help you with?"

"I need new clothes."  Jyslyn held out a pinch of grey fabric from her dress.  "This apparently isn't the fashion."

"I don't have anything that would suit you."

Wren returned with several sets of clothes draped over her arms.  She started holding each item up to Jyslyn.

The dark elf smirked.  "You were saying?"

Kaleena entered the shop.  "Tersial, let the woman shop."

The shop owner ran over to the newcomer.  "Captain!  How can this . . . this . . ."

"Accursed?" Jyslyn suggested.

"How can she be in Wildwood?  Do the Matriarchs know?"

"They are well aware of our guest."

Wren set down most of her bundle, leaving just a long sky blue tunic in her hands.  "Try this one on?"  She pushed the tunic into Jyslyn's hands.

Tersial gaped at Wren.  "She can talk?"

"The gossips will have the full story before sunset," Kaleena said.  "Is there someplace your customer can try on the clothes?"

"There's a room over there."  Tersial pointed to his right.  He watched as Wren pulled her to the change room.  "How is she going to pay for anything?"

"Normally, Little Wren would.  Today, the Watch is covering the costs."

Inside the small change room, Jyslyn slipped out of the grey dress.  She pulled on the tunic, feeling the fabric whisper against her skin.  The hem fell down to mid-thigh on the dark elf.  Jyslyn felt the cloth.  It wasn't the spider silk she once wore, but that was her old life.  The new cloth felt different on her, not worse, not better.  It still covered her better than her old outfits, despite her arms, shoulders, and legs still exposed.  The lack of covering reminded her, the sun's light, warm, bright, still itched on her skin, even with the leaves overhead.  Jyslyn came out of the change room, still in the tunic.

Wren waited, eyes wide.  "It fits!" the young blonde said.

"It does."  Jyslyn staggered as Wren bowled into her with a hug.  "I'll need trousers and a jacket."

"I'll get them!"  The young elf ran back to the shelves.

Jyslyn found Kaleena with the shop owner.  The Captain of the Watch had her hand over her mouth, trying to hide her laughter.  Jyslyn shrugged.  "I think she's my protector."

"I need some wine," Tersial said.

"It'll have to wait," Kaleena said.  "I need clothes for two humans.  One's a boy, so that should be easy enough.  The other is muscular, so the largest you have without turning her into tent.  Send that to the Four Leaf Inn.  The boy should be there.  Send the bill to the Watch, including what our Little Wren chooses for our guest."

"Yes, Captain."  Tersial's shoulders slumped, resigned.

"Captain, that is generous," Jyslyn said.  "I will pay you back."

"If you can get work here.  It's going to take time for people to get comfortable around you."  Kaleena leaned against the wall.  "Try not to make my job difficult while you're here."

"I will do my part."  Jyslyn brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face.  "I do wish I had the time to wash my hair."

"Ask Wren.  I'm sure she'd love to help."

The young blonde returned with more clothes, handing them to Jyslyn.  The dark elf felt each item, taking measure of what to expect when she wore them.  "I appreciate this, Wren."

Wren beamed.  "I picked up extra so you'd could change."

"The Watch will pay today, Wren," Kaleena said.  "Show Jyslyn your home.  Jyslyn, I'll let Kazimier you're settling in."

Tersial gathered the clothes to total the cost.  "What should I do with," he paused, nodding his head to the change room, "er, with the old dress?"  He passed the clothes back to Wren.

"Send it to the Watch."

"Pity," Jyslyn said.  "Other than the colour, I liked it."

"Can you make one like it in another colour?" Wren asked.  "Oh, red!  A red to match her hair!"

Tersial eyed Kaleena.  "I can.  I'll change the design a bit so your guest won't look so much like she's a prisoner.  Flatter her.  It'll take me a week."

"Great!"  Wren grabbed Jyslyn's arm.  "We should go.  You must be hungry."

Jyslyn let herself be pulled along as Wren wound her way through the city in the trees.  The young elf's home was higher up, away from the bustle of the market.  Along the way, Jyslyn spotted the forest floor.  She fought off a wave of dizziness.  The dark elf had little experience with heights.  She kept her eyes on Wren's back.

Wren slowed down in front of an apartment in a quiet neighbourhood.  No one else was around that Jyslyn could see.  The young elf opened the door, then stepped aside, letting the dark elf enter first.  Jyslyn blinked to get used to the dimmer light inside.  The sunlight that she was starting to get used to was blocked by a ceiling made of shaped branches.

Wren followed her, closing the door behind her.  The young elf set the bundle of clothes on a table.  "It's not much," she said.  "My bedroom is over there."  Wren pointed at a closed door with a stylized bird painted on it.  "My bed isn't that big, though."  She walked over to a second door, this one plain.  "And this is where you can, um."  The young elf blushed.

"Use a chamberpot?"

"Yes."  Wren moued.  "I didn't even think about where you'd sleep."

Jyslyn rubbed the young woman's shoulder.  "I can sleep on a chair.  Remember, I'm supposed to be protecting you."

Wren laughed, a pleasant trill.  "I should get dinner started."  She walked over to the fireplace.  "Is there anything you'd like?"

"I don't think you have it."  Jyslyn sat in a stuffed chair.  "I should also eat what's available here."

"I'm not that good at cooking.  I mean, I can live on it, but it's not the best."  Wren started a small fire.  She filled a pot with water and set it to boil.  "I hope you like stew."

"Don't worry about me."  Jyslyn removed her slippers.  "My name's Jyslyn.  I don't think we were ever formally introduced.  Is Wren your real name?"

"No."  The young blonde retrieved vegetables from a cupboard.  "That's what they called me.  I couldn't speak when I was found.  Someone named me after the bird."

"The bird?"

Wren pointed at the painting on her bedroom door.  "Except it's much smaller."  She shrugged.  "I don't mind the name."

"I am truly sorry for what happened to you."

"Why?  You saved me.  If it weren't for you, I'd be dead."  Wren turned to give a great smile to Jyslyn.  "I always hoped that I'd see my red-haired dark angel again and here you are.  And I can talk again."

Jyslyn watched in silence as the young woman prepared the evening meal.  Her mind whirled, but, deep inside, one feeling she was sure of, the pleasure of seeing the girl who she should have killed alive and happy.  The dark elf grabbed hold of that feeling, letting it warm her.

Next Week:
Nyssa speaks with a Matriarch.

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