Far From Home
“Will that be all, mam?” asked madam Gertrude with her unapologetic kettle drum voice. Before Saria had the slightest opportunity to respond, the lady’s maid was already starting to clear the plates and dishware from the mundane wooden table.
“Yes, thank you. Supper was warm and punctual. I enjoyed your efforts,” Saria responded with expertly placed selective omission. While she did not outright lie about the quality of the meal she dared not mention how unbearably bland the biscuits and shellfish broth had been. Saria knew that it was hardly her servant’s fault that the meal had been left so wanting. Madam Gertrude was hardly a properly trained chef and the selection of seafood based fair was gravely lacking in the city of Viros. Still the woman had shown some improvement in her culinary aptitude since coming to the city and more so madam Gertrude’s attempts at food preparation were leagues better than the slop that was served to the rank and file Amurai in the general quarters of the barracks.
“Appreciated mam,” said madam Gertrude with a tone that was about as pain as the chowder she had just served for supper. The lady’s maid continued to clear away the dirty dishes with nearly mechanical speed and preseason. “If you have nothing else for me then I will take my leave for the night,” continued the woman with an inflection that seemed more like she was informing her mistress than asking permission.
“Not at all. You may retire to your chambers. I will see you at breakfast. I hope you sleep well and continued to find the Viros accommodations adequate,” responded Saria with well feigned empathy. Saria was under not illusions that the comforts to be had in a military compound were few and far between. She simply felt obligated to fill the silence with something that would pass for warmth and social benevolence.
“Adequate, yes mam,” said the matronly woman as softly as she could. Even when attempting to respect the quiet hours of the late night madam Gertrude’s voice was as brash as her cooking was tasteless. “Breakfast will be eggs over ham, with toast and blueberry preserves,” she continued.
“Oh that sounds delightful,” Saria said with some honest cheer in her voice. As soon as she finished speaking she realized that she was most likely looking forward to another plate of unseasoned and flavorless food. It seemed a shame to anticipate mediocrity. Saria was used to waiting for things that were worth waiting for. “Goodnight,” Saira said after taking more time than she cared to in order to preemptively lament the morning meal that was sure to be found less than.
“Goodnight mam,” said madam Gertrude with a curt curtsy before vacating Saria’s chambers with an armful of dirty dishes.
Not more than the blink of an eye after the door to the room had been shut and locked, the sound of Noah Redmoon’s voice cut though the shadows and dim flickering candlelight. “That one is about as warm and inviting as the crest of Frostdale’s seal wall,” said the man as he materialized out of the darkness that huddled in the far corner of the room. He walked in to the candlelight with his usual breed of gusto and arguably inappropriate familiarity.
“Master Redmoon, do you not think it is improper to invade a ladies bedchambers, uninvited?” Saria said with a defiant power as she stood up from her seat at the dining table and glared at the man with a sense of ageless ire. Saria had not seen Noah since their rendezvous in the archives that had been interrupted by his siblings. She was still trying to process the revelation that, while she was of the same breed as the Viros man, he was old enough to be her great-grandfather.
“Please excuse my intrusion. I had thought that you welcomed my company. I also thought that you were quite fond for my irreverence for propriety and formality,” Noah said as he stopped a respectable distance from Saria and held his ground. “I apologize. If you wish me to go I shall,” he continued but with an honest and unmasked quality about him.
The renewed vulnerability that Noah displayed caused the pins and needled that prickled all over Saria’s neck to subside. The showing of who Noah was without all the swagger and posturing at strength reminded Saria of just how much she had missed his company and their candid moments together. “No, you may stay if you wish…” Saria started before feeling a warmth in her cheeks and a nervous hand go to her hair that she had elaborately pinned atop her head. “I would like it if you stayed,” she corrected herself after a moment of introspective honesty. “Just in the future please announce yourself before you call on me. What if I had been indecent?”
“Then I suppose that I would rather enjoy looking upon you with far greater enthusiasm than I currently am,” Noah said without missing a moment.
Saria felt her blood turn to embarrassed fire in her veins and her eyes nearly drop from their sockets. She had never before been confronted with anyone who spoke so brazenly. Her class and breeding demanded that she take offence to the roguish statement but the wild spirit that resided in Saria’s core longed for more of Noah unique breed of reckless impulse and disregard. Saris turned her blushing face from her gentleman caller so she could regain enough composure to speak. “Master Redmoon that is quite bold of you to state,” she said with a measure of reflex. After she had a moment to put her wits to work on a suitable reprisal she returned her attention to the impossibly charming man who stood before her. “Are you saying that you find my current appearance, some kind of unappealing to you?”
“Never would I make such a nonsensical claim. Your beauty is an unmatched natural sort. I would wager to say that the garments you wear only diminish your splendor,” Noah pressed with a winning ear to ear smile.
Part of Saria wanted to slap Noah in the face for his ego, brashness and ever-present worldly ways but a larger part of the young women craved the man’s affections like the most potent of opiates. “So you are saying that it would please you if I were to disrobe?” she said as one of her fingers slipped beneath the shoulder strap of her gown and threatened Noah with the reality of his banter and innuendo. For the first time since she had known him, Noah Redmoon was without a quick glib remark at the ready.
Noah stood there confronted with the unparalleled bravery that Saria had demonstrated. She was anything but the delicate pretty object that she had been heralded as. It was clear that Saria was as wild and brazen as any of the Redmoon children. Noah could only stand and stare as all words were lost upon the man. “It would,” Noah said with a mumble and gross ineloquence after the silence had drawn on for much longer than was appropriate.
“And why should I give you what you want?” Saria said with a regal power in her lofty voice. She playfully slipped the strap of her dress slightly off of her right shoulder, exposing an unladylike volume or bare skin.
“Because you want to give me what I want,” Noah said as he was helplessly drawn closer to Saria. Her charms were every bit as strong as the tides that pushed and pulled at the coast of Lighthouse Bay. Noah drifted perilously close to Saria like a ship about to be dashed on the rocks of a hidden harbor reef.
Saria took a step back and drew out of reach of the man she had enticed to pursue her as she spoke, “What makes you so certain that I want to give you anything?”
“Are you saying that you do not,” Noah retorted as he kept step with Saria and continued to stalk her about the dimly lit room like a wolf on the hunt.
The dance between the pair continued for several moments more and at times resembled a graceful waltz while at other points resembled a savage chase of wild game. Saria stopped and held fast at the foot of her bed. She could not explain the carless storm of craving and wanting that brewed within her. She had no words to describe the connection she felt with this man she barely knew, only the certainty that she wanted it, whatever it was. The passion of the moment threatened to smash Saria like a hammer breaking glass but she found the strength to continue keeping the guise of poise and refinement.
“I am finished talking to you, Master Redmoon,” Saria stated firmly with luminous clarity showing in her rich eyes.
Noah stood in front of Saria and did all he could to keep form shaking as he was evidently experiencing every sensation that Saria was. “You would like me to go then?” Noah said, with a defeated air in his voice. He began to turn as if to leave but was stopped by Saria’s gorgeous voice once again.
“I said I am finished talking,” she responded as she quickly released the shoulder straps of her gown from her collarbones and let the fabric hang loosely upon her upper arms. Her intentions were every bit as clear as the shining beacon of the towering lighthouse in her guardian’s manor. Little more than a few bows and ties undone and she would be fully unclothed.
Noah hung there in front of the woman who was willingly offering him all that he wanted in the moment. He exhibited signs of some internal battle as he refrained form setting upon the object of his desires. Slowly Noah closed on her until their bodies were softly pressed against one another. He let his mouth be drawn to Saria’s waiting lips but before he could experience the wonderment of her kiss a thunderous pounding at the chamber door destroyed the intimate moment.
“Apologies for the late hour my lady but it is an urgent matter,” came the voice of a younger man who sounded like he was trying too hard to be sure of himself.
Noah stepped back and faded into the darkness without a word.
Saria readjusted her gown and erased the evidence of any illicit behavior from her countenance. She went to the door and opened it to reveal a man clad in the robe of a Vermillion Councilman.
“You have no need to apologize for the interruption. What is the matter?” Saria said with a gentile tone that visibly put the junior Councilman’s trepidation to rest.
“The Abbot has bid me to summon you. It seems as though there is news of troubles in Lighthouse Bay. He felt you should be informed. He will speak with you in the grand Council Chamber now,” said the young man in scarlet.
“Thank you. I will be along in a moment,” Saira said with all the discipline she could wield to keep from breaking down in the doorway. She gave the Councilman a dismissive nod of her head and as he left down the corridor she slipped back inside of her room. Saria closed the door and let her face fall into her hands. She had no clue what to expect from the awaiting news. Her imagination only conjured up the worst of possibilities. Like an overboard sailor being drawn to the depths of the sea by an autumn gale Saria felt the suffocating presence of death all around her. She wanted to cry, she wanted to scream, as the cold walls of her room seemed to press in and bind her with fear and anxiety. Saria was on the verge of scratching her face and pulling at her hair from the way her world had been so rapidly flipped on it’s back.
Suddenly Saria felt something new. She was bound and entwined but this sense of confinement was not one of oppression but of comfort and safety. Saria looked to see tendrils of shadow encircling her body until the form of Noah Redmoon fully materialized around her. She felt the dark embrace that he offered her and it slowed her heart from it’s maddening tempo to an even relaxed rhythm. Close to him, Saira took comfort and found peace amid the uncertainty.
“You should go and her the news,” Noah said like a sweetly dark lullaby.
“Will you come with me?” Saria asked glassy eyed.
Noah said nothing but nodded his head and opened the door into the corridor. Together Noah and Saria went off to face whatever was to come next.