Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 7b

Journey of the Messenger Cycle 1 Part 7b

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Ijah spent the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon at the bath. When she was finished, she felt like a new woman. She had been washed, rinsed and soaked, her hair was trimmed and treated with oils. Then she was depilated, exfoliated and rubbed down with more oils. She had a long soak in hot water followed by a cold rinse. There had been a pleasant massage as well. Her cuticles and nails had been seen to, her nails painted a light shade of blue. Her hair was pinned back and the women attending her helped her dress. With instruction, they wrapped the recently purchased lengths of cloth around her body before finally putting her sandals on. She paid a silver weight and considered it a bargain.

Ijah left the bath with a smile and her basket, which also contained her recently laundered travel clothing. During the short walk back to the inn she marvelled at how relaxed she felt, she smiled at the women she passed and ignored the men. It was unlikely any of them had seen someone dressed as she presently was, a few people stopped in their tracks to stare openly.

As she neared the entry to the inn she could see Berri approaching. Her initiate was scowling, still carrying Odeena’s lute over her back. Ijah waited by the door and was amused when Berri did not immediately recognize her, more-so by Berri’s stunned surprise when she did.

Berri looked her up and down for the third time, her scowl did not quite leave her face, “Wow. How did you get so pretty?”

“I’ve always been this pretty, Berri.”

“Yeah, okay. Sure.” She looked her up and down again, “Not like this. Anyway, are we just going to stand here so people can admire you or are we going in?”

Ijah was taken aback by the girl’s impatience, “I take it you had no luck finding Odeena’s family?”

Berri pulled the door open, “Oh, I found them!”

Berri’s loud statement drew some attention, “Why don’t we go sit in back and you can tell me what happened? I’ve some food with me and need to let my laundry air a bit. It’s still damp.”

For a moment Ijah though Berri was going to decline, her face returned to a full scowl and she gave a half shrug, “Yeah, whatever. That’s fine.”

They went out back to one of the apple trees, Ijah spread out her few pieces of laundry across some of the lower branches, she noted the ants in the tree. Berri set the lute down and threw herself to the ground, she groaned and placed an arm across her eyes to shield them from the sun. Ijah sat carefully, broke some bread and opened the apple jelly, “Here, have some bread and cheese.”

Berri propped herself up on an elbow, took the offered food but did not eat. Ijah asked, “Things did not go well?”

“Yeah, you can say that. Darhargla cursed bitch. What a cranky old twit. She didn’t even care. Called Odenna a runaway whore and said she wanted no part of that person. As far as she was concerned her daughter died years ago. To make matters worse, I think I’m ill from the stew we had last night.”

“Oh? I’ve been fine. Did you do the abdominal exercises I showed you?”

“I took a shit just fine. This is something else.”

“Ah. Okay, did you eat breakfast?”

“I’m not really hungry.”

“Well, you should eat a bit.”

Berri sat up, stuffed most of the bread in her mouth and chewed slowly. She swallowed then proclaimed, “No, that didn’t work.”

Ijah raised an eyebrow, “I’ve some apple jelly.”

Berri glanced at the bottle, “Oh. That’s nice.” She flopped back and threw her arm over her face again.

Ijah frowned, ate some of the food, then asked, “What are you going to do with the lute?”

“I don’t know, Ijah.” There was a hint of a whine in the girl’s voice.

Berri did not often address her by her name, “Have you thought about learning to play?”

“Me? Play the lute?”

“Why not? Seems to me that would have been something Odeena would have appreciated.”

Berri sat up, her face was contorted with grief and she began to weep loudly. Ijah moved over beside her and took her into a tender embrace. The girl learned into her, buried her face into Ijah’s chest and cried for a long while. Ijah had never seen her like this before. Berri had seen many horrific deaths over the last few years. This was something else.

“I miss Odeena.”

“Me too.”

Berri groaned and rubbed her stomach, “Where’s Osran?”

“As far as I know she’s still with the fellow she met last night.”

“Oh. The bargeman?”


“He seemed alright.”

“I guess.”

Berri moaned again, “What’s wrong with me?”

“Why don’t you lay back? I can do a deep massage and see if that helps.”

She sighed despondently, “Okay, fine.”

Ijah started gently, feeling for any abnormalities, when everything appeared to be normal she slowly deepened the massage. Berri groaned in pain, but there was also a note of relief. By this point Ijah was pretty sure she knew what was going on, she chose to say nothing and gently, yet firmly continued the massage.

After a while Berri sat up, “I need to go to the shitter.”

“Okay, here, take this, I don’t think I need it any more.” She passed Berri her old shirt, it had certainly seen better days.

Berri gave her an odd look but shrugged and headed back towards the inn’s door. She stopped suddenly, a pace or so from the entry and looked down at herself. She stuck her hand into her pants, a moment or two passed, she withdrew the hand, “Fuck me, I’m bleeding.” She turned and looked at Ijah, then at the shirt she was carrying, “Fuck me.” She entered the inn and slammed the door behind her.

Ijah went back to eating. She opened the bottle of goblin jam and scooped a bit out with a piece of bread. It was bitter, but also meaty, not bad really, certainly she had eaten worse things in this northern land. It was a long time before Berri returned.

When she did, she sat down beside Ijah, took the last of the bread and some cheese then ate most of the bottle of jelly, “Mm, this is good. I think I might take a nap.”

“Sure. I’m just going to take this stuff inside, I’ll be back, I want to hem this material I bought today. Did you get thread yesterday?”

“Yeah. It’s in my satchel, with the herbs and ointments.”

Ijah took her laundry and the basket then went up the room they had rented. She noticed that all of Berri’s clothes were bloodstained, no doubt most if had belonged to Ijah. She decided to go back to the market where she bought a bit more new material, some used clothing and scraps. She also decided to buy some more thread, rather than use up what Berri had purchased for the medical supplies.

When she returned, Ijah found Berri sleeping under the apple tree. She sat and spent the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening sewing. Osran eventually returned, watching Ijah sew for a while before settling on the other side of Berri. She continued to watch as Ijah sewed.

Ijah stood and stretched, Osran’s gaze remained on her, she asked, “You make yourself pretty?”

“Yes, I thought a change of pace was in order.”

“Dress makes shorter walk?”

“Ah, yes, though that’s not what I meant.”

“What did you meant?”

“Well, I went to the bath today and relaxed.”

“Ah, me too. In canal, after much fucking.”

“Oh, well, that’s good. How was your friend?”

“He is really nice, very big, gentle but strong. It is weird. Fuck all night and most of today. Happy.”

“I bet. Have you eaten yet?”

“No. I came to get you and her. Go with tavern?”

“Well, we haven’t eaten yet. When Berri wakes up we can go.”

Osran gave Berri a rough shake, “Berri, wake up now. I hunger.”

Berri woke with a start and looked around, confused, rubbing her stomach. She glanced at the clothing Ijah had been working on, she asked, “What’s this?”

“Clothes for you. I noticed everything you had was covered in my blood. I thought you might like something new.”

“Nice vest, it’s kind of like the one Odeena had.”

“As close as I could get. I’ve never made a vest before, but found an old one in the market and added some colour. The pants will take a while yet.”

Osran reminded them, “I’m hungry. We go to tavern.”

Ijah nodded, “Yes Osran, we’ll go to the tavern now. You coming along Berri?”

“I’m starving. Is all this for me?” She held up the shirt, “Nice material.”

“I bought some of this used and cut the britches based on the pants you had in your gear.”

Berri took a deep breath, “Thank you Ijah. I didn’t know you could sew.”

“You are welcome. Should we go eat.”

They both replies, “Yes.”

After taking their belongings back to their room the three of them headed over to the nearby tavern. She was bemused to find Osran’s new friend waiting for them. The four of them sat together, ordered their food and drinks.

Osran said, “Harklen says he can take us south on barge. Water road is faster than dirt road.”

Ijah was surprised and a little taken aback, “Oh?”

Berri asked, “What about Horse?”

The half-blood gave a toothy grin, “I’ve room for a couple horses or other livestock, as needs be. We’ll reach Lake Saveraun in less than an eight-day. Osran and I would like some more time together. There will be no fee and I’m a fair cook.”

Berri shrugged, “So long as Horse can fit, I’m fine with that.”


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