FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 4a

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 4a

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Part 4) Mokha


Lef had finally passed out. Slumped in his chair, his cup still in hand, khulmah dribbling over its lip onto his pants. With a long sigh and a languid stretch Mokha stood up, stifling a yawn. Sefla puttered around the main room, tidying and cleaning up some of the mess that had taken over Lef’s home. Gently, Mokha took the cup and set the beverage aside. Outside, a hard rain fell.

“Can you give me a hand?”

Sefla came over, “What are we doing?”

“I’d like to get him in his bed. He’ll be better tomorrow if he’s not all cramped up from sleeping here.” The two of them considered the task at hand for a couple of moments.

Sefla suggested, “Let’s move him in the chair.”

“Yeah, seems like our best bet.” Mokha braced the back of the chair then tipped it back a bit. Lef’s head lulled to one side and he started to snore. Sefla crouched down, grabbed the two front legs of the chair and with a long breath stood, Lef’s long legs were in her way, one of his arms flopped to the side and he bodily tilted in the same direction.

The chair wobbled between them, “Are you lifting?”


“To the back room?”

“I guess, seems to be where he’s sleeping.” Together they stumbled forward, Lef’s feet still dragged across the floor.

Mokha suggested, “Higher.”

“I’m trying. You go higher.”

Mokha gave a grunt, tried to lift his friend higher, but the chair tilted and Lef slid off and sprawled across the floor with a couple thumps. “Sorry, that was my fault.”

Lef mumbled and started snoring louder.

Sefla sighed, “It’s alright.” She set the chair down and then the two of them tried again. This time Mokha picked Lef up by his armpits and Sefla lifted him by his legs, from just above the knees. They half walked, half stumbled to the back room. With some effort they manoeuvered him onto the bed. Mokha put one of the blankets over him.

“I think we should open the place up, it’s pretty stale in here and I did not get a chance to sweep.”

“Sure, I’ll get the windows.”

Sefla started to broom the floor, slowly sweeping the dust and debris towards the door. After opening the three small windows in the house, Mokha cleaned up the table from the meal, put the dishes in a bucket and set the bucket and the cook pot out in the rain. He added some coal to the brazer and found a couple more candles to light, “Remind me to bring him some of our candles later, looks like these are the last two he has.”

“Poor guy.”

“Yeah, he’s really beating himself up.”

“Must have been a hard winter for him, not knowing what happened to his wife or the others.”

“Milla is tough.”

“You think she’s alive?”

“I don’t really know, but until I find out otherwise I’m going to assume she is.”

They worked in companionable silence for a while and then ventured into the small side room. Mokha informed her, “This is their room. It doesn’t look like Lef has used it at all.”

“Seems the rain has let up a bit. Let’s shake the bedding out, then I’ll sweep in here.”

After dusting and sweeping they set things up as Mokha remembered them being when he spent time with them last year. Then they scrubbed the dishes and brought them back inside. The rain stopped, though water still dripped from the eaves. Mokha shut the front door, “I’m going to leave the windows open, let’s get some sleep.”

“I’m beat.”

“I’m exhausted, that was a lot of grief to deal with.” They went to the main bedroom, hung their damp clothing and curled up beside each other under a blanket.

The next thing Mokha knew was that the dawn had arrived, sunlight bathed the bed in warmth. He lay there luxuriating in the comfy space, admired Sefla’s perfect features and thought about the poem he had been composing about her. She had a rare beauty and force of presence that many were attracted to. Poor Adwin was all muddle headed about her, he had not really expected that. In the year he had known Adwin, women never seemed to ruffle his feathers. His nature was too open and honest, typically if he met someone he liked or was attracted to he was pretty straight forward about it.

Conversely, Sefla seemed to hold Adwin in high regard, though she tried to keep such feelings to herself for the most part. He was unsure who or if Sefla was attracted to, maybe Calathy, but Sefla had pointedly ignored most of the cook’s persistent suggestions that she was interested in her. Nor had he really seen his apprentice show much interest in anyone else. Except in the context of performance, he had not even seen her flirt with people, she was not exactly aloof, but she certainly was not the type to use her beauty to get what she wanted from folks.

Which was for the best. She was an excellent student, well educated and had a trap-like memory. She had learned the songs and ruddahs quickly, way faster than he had learned such things. She was becoming passable with the lute and was picking up the songs and folklore of the freeholds. He was curious to see how she would do with the next phase of training. Many balked at the rebellious nature of Aggedrah mysticism, the thaumatalogical teachings and the opening of the hidden eye.

The sun did not stay long, as it rose higher into the sky it was once again obscured by cloud cover. Her eyes snapped open when the sun no longer warmed her face. She smiled at him, stretched and slipped out from under the blanket. As she dressed, she asked, “What are we doing today?”

“Exercises, music and dance. Then, if he’s still not up, we’ll wake Lef, eat, and then see about raising a posse.”

“Oh… can I join your posse?”

“Surely. There is an art to warfare and although it is not one of my stronger areas of expertise, I am pretty good at infiltration, distraction and ex-filtration.”

“I had thought the Aggedrah way was to throw a cloak over someones head and run away.”

“Do not confuse self defence with warfare. One is for avoiding unwelcome confrontation, the other is for situations where a friendly smile and a good song won’t win the day.”

Once she had left to see to her needs, Mokha gave up the warmth of the blanket and quickly dressed. He went to the main room, slid the table against the sideboard and moved the rest of the furniture to the bedroom they had used. Then he went to deal with his own ablution.

A short while later they were limbering and moving into deeper stretches, they had done this often enough that no instructions were required. They moved into dance, just the basics to finish their warmup. Mokha then picked up his lute, tuned it and tied a piece of string around the neck of the instrument to mute it a bit. He started with some familiar Tannican music and watched as Sefla played, moving her body as though she were part of the song. Increasingly she was moving away from traditional forms and experimenting more. Initially she had been fairly conservative about such improvisation, having had a classical education. It had taken her a while to give up the concepts of what one should and should not do with various pieces of music.

It was not long before Lef stood in the doorway of the back room. Dishevelled and obviously hungover he watched for a while. When Mokha finished the song he had been playing he turned to his friend, smiled and said, “There is fresh water in the bucket. We’re going to do something about breakfast in a while. You’re welcome to join us.”

“I will, just as soon as I’ve seen a man about a fish.” He drank a cup of water and excused himself.

“He’s getting fish?”

“Ha, no. Just going to the bathroom.”


“Shall we continue?”

“Of course.”

Mokha played the song he had been working on over the past year, FreeHold’s Ramble. He was still unsatisfied with the verses he had written for it, but the piece itself had evolved and taken on subtle complexities that lent itself well to dancing. He was of the opinion that it was an excellent blending of classic FreeHolds and Tannican music. Certainly it was catchy. Calathy often hummed the tune and it had become a favourite within their little group.

Lef rejoined them, looking a bit fresher. He was quick to pick up his lute, after listening for a moment he started to play. A while later a smile crept onto the old mans face and, as had always been the case with the two of them, they created some magic. Using the music to amplify his modest abilities, Mokha cast spells to ward against insects and rodents, when the music was so pure the magic hardly drained his energies.

Sefla was hypnotic in her movements and freely improvised as the songs transitioned one to the next. She was, as of yet, unaware of the energies that radiated from her when she danced like this. Together the three of them drifted through their own little world of music and dance. By the end of it Lef was smiling openly, tapping his feet to provide percussive accompaniment and looking much more like the Lef Mokha had met last year.

When the music finally ended they were greeted with applause and a couple of cheers from the folks who had gathered at the door. If there had not been so much critical work that needed doing Mokha suspected most of them would have been happy for a bit of an impromptu party. As it was, breakfast turned into a bit of feast as some of the neighbours joined them, happy to see Lef’s spirits lifted from the brooding mood that had been his state since last autumn.

By the time they had cleaned up after the meal and straightened out Lef’s house it was near mid morning. They headed out, across the green. She asked, “What now?”

“Well… A proper rescue mission needs a hero. I can only think of one who’s likely available.”


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