(Part 34) For the entire list of this series, please go here.
Aerissa laid on the bed with her eyes closed. Her heart and body ached something awful. She thought fondly of Locke, which brought a sad smile to her face. She could hear the stamping and whickering of horses outside, which she assumed was Lord Varray’s party departing.
A light rap came at the door. Aerissa opened her eyes and struggled to sit up. “Come in,” she croaked.
Twyla slowly opened the door, peaking her head in. “How ye doin’, Rissy?” She came in, bustling around the room cleaning and straightening up.
“I’m…fine.” Aerissa swung her legs over the side of the bed, sitting at the edge. She rubbed her knee, then her face suddenly contorted. She quickly slapped a hand over her mouth, mumbling and motioning at Twyla with her other hand.
Twyla turned to Aerissa, looking at her questioningly. “What? Out with it!”
Aerissa’s torso heaved, as she clamped her other hand over her mouth. She looked around the room frantically, her eyes wide and tearing up. She spotted a garbage pail in the corner of the room. She scrambled towards it, her knee buckling as she reached for it. Her hands grasped the rim and pulled it towards her as she vomited into it.
“Ungh,” she groaned, the sound amplified within the bucket.
Twyla shuffled over and smoothed Aerissa’s hair away from her face. She rubbed Aerissa’s back until she was done vomiting and lifted her face from the pail. Twyla handed Aerissa a handkerchief from her apron, which Aerissa used to wipe her mouth.
“Ye may not want ta eat now, but ye need somethin’ to settle that tummy.”
Aerissa slowly made her way back to the bed, setting the pail beside it just in case. She laid back, tears streaming from the corners of her eyes.
A few moments later, Twyla returned with a few slices of fresh, warm spice bread and a mug of honeymint tea. She offered it to Aerissa, who shook her head. Twyla frowned, setting them on the nightstand next to the bed. She sat on the bed, patting Aerissa’s calf.
“I promise that’ll make yer tummy feel better. We need ta get you right as rain again, Rissy. Ye can’t wallow in this room forever.” Twyla’s voice was kind, but stern.
Aerissa cleared her throat. “I know… I just don’t know how.” She looked up at Twyla then away, twisting her fingers around a loose string on the bed cover.
Twyla tilted her head. “Well, Rissy, I be needin’ help wi’ errands. That’d be a start.”
Aerissa nodded slightly, reaching for the mug of honeymint tea. She cupped her hands around the mug, enjoying its warmth. She breathed in the scent before taking a couple small sips. She smiled approvingly at Twyla, “Mmm, this is good tea.”
Twyla waited while Aerissa nibbled on a piece of bread before continuing, “I be needin’ someone ta go ta Silvermoon City. Me an’ Tomber. There’s supplies and such that need ta go back an’ forth.”
Aerissa tore off a chunk of the bread, popping it into her mouth. “I can’t go there. He… he might be…” she shook her head forcefully.
Twyla frowned. “Check wit’ the guards, see if they need help ’round here. Ye been an asset sence ya came here. I’m sure they be needin’ more volunteers.”
Taking a few more sips of tea, Aerissa set the mug down on the nightstand. “Perhaps tomorrow, Twyla.” She lowered her eyes, biting her lower lip. “Thank you…” she mumbled.
Twyla patted her leg again, taking the hint. “I have plenty a work ta tend to, so I best be off. If ye want more tea, just holla’.”
Aerissa nodded, scooting down to stretch out and lounge on the bed. She knew she needed to get out into the world, but felt as though she was trapped, held captive by her mourning.
“Tomorrow…” she mumbled, rolling onto her side, snuggling her face into the pillow.
A few hours later, Aerissa awoke up from her nap. Her stomach rumbled, signaling that it was most certainly time for dinner. She crept out of the bed, tiptoeing to the window. Peering outside, she could see the guards patrolling in the blanketing darkness, the moon offering little light.
I really should check with them now, so I can be ready to head out tomorrow morning. If I wait until the morning, I’ll only make excuses to delay acting upon their orders for yet another day…
Aerissa made up her mind quickly, pulling on her boots. She was feeling better, almost making her wonder what Twyla put in the tea. She hustled down the stairs and out the front door. Twyla nodded with satisfaction as she saw Aerissa zoom past her. Aerissa stopped the first guard she encountered.
“I’d like to offer my services, whom shall I speak with for orders?” She stood straight, trying to keep the waiver out of her voice. If she didn’t appear and sound confident, no one would entrust her with any orders.
The guard eyed her up and down. He jerked his thumb towards the dilapidated building across from the inn. “You think you can help, huh? Well, I ain’t here to judge. Talk to High Executor Mavren. He hands out most of the orders to the guards and volunteers.”
“Thanks,” she gave him a brief salute and walked quickly to the other building.
When she reached the doorway, she rapped her knuckles against the crumbling stone. As soon as she did that, she wished she hadn’t. She shook her hand out, feeling the sting of scraped skin. The building was relatively quiet and dark. She paused for a few beats, but when she heard no response she called out, “Hello?”
Her voice bounced off the walls. She cringed at how loud it was as it rang in her ears. Aerissa frowned, wondering if that guard was messing with her by sending her to an abandoned building. As she turned to leave, she heard the scrape of a match. A small flame danced with the shadows on the wall.
“It is late, who disturbs me now? Come forth at once!” bellowed a gruff voice.
Aerissa stepped through the doorway, bowing politely. “I apologize. I was…” she choked on her words, the flame cast menacing shadows on the walls and made this Forsaken look particularly grotesque.
“You what?” he sneered, stepping towards her.
“I was told to report to High Executor Mavren for orders. To help. The guard said he was here.” She swallowed hard, trying to stand straight.
“Hmpf,” he snorted, lighting a couple candles with the match. He shook the match out then flicked it behind him. “I’m not about to send a volunteer out in the middle of the night, young lady.”
Aerissa averted her eyes, her shoulders slumping slightly. “I-I realize that, sir. But, I wanted to report in right away?” She shrugged, second guessing her confidence to do anything worthwhile for the guards – especially without Locke.
He eyed her with scrutiny. “What’s your name, lass?”
“Aerissa. Twyla suggested-”
“Aerissa, you say?” He cut her off, looking at her intently. “The very Elf that lugged those nasty meatheads back here?”
“Aye, Knucklerot and Luzran. You filled that bounty order, eh? And you want more? I think I can oblige. Return to me at sunrise for your orders.” He pinched the candle wick between his thumb and forefinger, extinguishing the flame.