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Or what to Rhys' aching thighs and back side seemed like forever.
It hadn't been that hard though, had it? They only endured a thunderstrom, were attacked by hundreds of questions, then attacked by bandits which ultimately lead to Sabvir's fleeing...... but hey, it was ending with a soft bed and a hot meal.
Though the idea of a soft bed and hot meal only slightly lightened the mood Rhys' had found himself in. The distinct lack of Sabvir at his side was something he couldn't move past and the headache that still lingered from before had made him even more uncomfortable and aware of every ache he'd gained over their travels so far. The connection he shared with Sabvir had kept him silent for the remainder of the time they had been on the road; it had slowly rekindled from Sabvir as she came out of her panicked state and began to search for Rhys. It was only when the clip clop of hooves on paved roads met his ears that Rhys opened his eyes again and twisted on the saddle to attempt and pop his lower back.
While the two Argents had continued on the road, Sabvir had remained in the forest until she had finally managed to calm down. First she retreated to where she had left her partner, following her own scent back to the road. When she didn't find Rhys there, she turned tail and began to follow the connection she shared with him instead. She would lag behind by a few hours at best, but would arrive in Landsmeet eventually.
Thankfully, it didn't take long for the Argents to reach The Halfway Inn. They had clearly been in a hurry, and so many Argents passed through Landsmeet on their way hither and yon, that most of the citizens recognized an Argent when they saw one, and let them pass, especially given that she and Rhys were on horseback. Being mounted made it that much more difficult for people on foot to stop them to ask questions, and Kalia tried her hardest to keep her gaze focused straight ahead.
The horses could smell the Inn before Kalia could see it. They'd come into town from the Geheim side and were surrounded by enormous mansions that blocked the view. Brielle let out an excited whicker, which was answered by a distant horse in the Inn's stable, and broke into a choppy trot that Kalia was not at all pleased about. She couldn't persuade the mare to slow down, however, so the Argent did her best to ride out the jouncing, jarring travel. Someone must have gone on ahead to alert the stable hand that two Argents were on their way, because he greeted them at the entrance and immediately took Brielle's reins. "We've a third party destined for the market tomorrow," Kalia said as she swung down from the saddle. Upon seeing the stable hand's eager expression, the woman shook her head. "Not one from the monastery, I'm afraid. Just an old cart horse we liberated from some bandits on the King's Road."
The stable hand waited long enough for Rhys and Kalia to collect their saddlebags before he led all three horses away. Kalia called out a reminder to Brielle to behave herself before she headed in, trusting that Rhys would follow as quickly as his sore legs would allow. "I'll have a hot bath sent up to your room after supper," she suggested as she headed for a side door right off the stable yard. "That and some of the liniment I lent you ought to work wonders for your aches and pains."
Before leaving Idora Rhys gave her a good scratch behind the ears and stroked his hand down her mane. He managed to follow Kalia at a decent pace- his legs weren't so sore that it hindered his steps once he had mentally reassured himself that he'd be able to rest in a soft bed soon. "Sounds heavenly." A hot bath did sound wonderful right then. He had managed to brush most of the mud off his legs and even give his backside a good dusting during one of the many times they'd had to stop for the cart horse to rest.
He was still decently dusty though. "I'll have a messenger sent ahead to my father so he may prepare the rooms," He said as they walked, his staff clicking softly against the ground and saddle bags tossed over one shoulder. "Unless you would prefer to spend your time in Landsmeet, while I visit my family."
"Oh! What a generous offer," Kalia called over her shoulder. The taproom was noisy, full of good folk finishing up their evening meals, or enjoying mugs of ale and the rowdy songs played by a bard at one end of the room. "If it's no trouble, I would love to meet your family -- but only if I'm not imposing! I do receive a small stipend from the Monastery for room and board, but whatever I don't have to spend is that much more in my purse for emergencies!"
There were only two seats available in the building, and both were at the bar. After a few words with the patrons already seated there, some shuffling and changing of seats was done until two stools were available side-by-side. Kalia directed Rhys there without leaving him much chance to protest over it, and dropped her saddlebags on the floor at her feet.
"It makes me think we ought to stop and visit my family on the way back to the monastery," she added, after catching the barkeep's eye to indicate they needed assistance. "They're a little out of the way for this leg of the journey, unfortunately."
"You wouldn't be imposing." Rhys managed a smile even as tired as he felt and with the usual movement of Sabvir at his side still missing. "In fact I insist." Travel was not cheap, after all. The interior of the tavern was well lit and Rhys was thankful. It made following Kalia all that much easier for him, though when he suddenly found himself being lead to the bar and then seated without time for a refusal, he looked around as if he could have actually seen his surroundings.
He decided not to fight it- it would take time for their rooms to be prepared here and baths drawn. "How long as it been, since you've visited your family? If it's not inappropriate for me to ask." He shifted the bags on his shoulders until they were lowered down between himself and the bar, settling on the floor for now. His staff he leaned against himself.
"Honestly? I've - oh, two ales and whatever you're serving for supper tonight - anyway, it's been so long since I've seen them, I've honestly lost track. It has to have been a couple of years by now, at the very least." The barkeep had come and gone in the middle of their conversation, and Kalia continued. "It took at least a year to make a circuit of Aerlion, and I wintered down at a village on the edge of Looking Glass Lake. Then it was another six or so months to get from there back to the Monastery... You know, when they tell you that you'll be out there in the world helping people, they forget to mention how much of your time that takes!"
Some tasks had taken mere days to complete, others weeks, and some months. She had been asked to assist with any number of things, from issuing a temporary approval for marriage until the couple in question could make the journey to the nearest church, to solving murder mysteries, to helping raise barns for families who were the victims of fires or floods. Regardless of what Gifts she had, everyone assumed that because she was an Argent, she was there to assist. They weren't entirely wrong, but Kalia had envisioned a more grand, adventurous life than one where she was awake through the night on calf watch.
Before she had time to say more, the barkeep returned with mugs in one hand, and bowls of stew in the other. He dropped them off, accepted Kalia's coins, and added two thick slices of bread to their meals from a back counter.
The usual Ale Rhys could handle, thank the saints. If Kalia had decided to order anything else he would have had to attempt a polite decline! Last thing he wanted was to have to maneuver stairs blind and drunk. ... really it didn't take a whole lot to give him a buzz, so it was just best to avoid it.
"I could imagine," Rhys commented, "Since my graduation I'd left the Monastery only a hand full of times, usually with Father Klass. " He smiled tiredly, "We were stopped plenty, of course, though our trips were generally planned out for reasons that required us to make haste."
When their meals arrived Rhys turned himself more towards the bar, "I would have to warn you," "My brother, Meredydd. He's a bit..escentric." It would have been unfair to have that pounce on Kalia when they reached his father's home. Better warn her in advance, just incase Merry was ....well. .... being Merry.
Especially in case he acted out upon their arrival.
"I think I can handle anything your family throws at me," Kalia smiled. She had spent a good two years out on the road already, met so many new people she couldn't even begin to recount all of them, and been cast into numerous unexpected situations - like that surprise attack out on the road. If something like being beset by a half dozen bandits wasn't enough to make Kalia turn tail and run, she was fairly certain that one eccentric family member would be a cakewalk.
"And frankly, maybe an eccentric brother would be a nice break from the monotony of being an Argent on the road. I may even forgo my usual attire and wear something - dare I say it? - that does not bear the sigil of the Argents!"
Rhys couldn't help a short laugh as he lifted his mug, "Merry is anything but monotonous," He'd say lightly before taking a drink. He couldn't help but wonder what level of crazy Merry would be throwing his way this time and if the pair would part on the same terms they had the last time. If possible Rhys hoped to reconcile with his younger brother, though he found it incredibly hard to actually imagine that happening without some sort of hiccup.
"My father may well have a seizure from excitement with two Argents in the house, even if temporarily." For a few passing moments Rhys fell silent, neither eating his meal nor drinking. If Kyalia spoke it fell on deaf ears.
His gaze was naturally always unfocused, but the stillness that had suddenly beset him suggested he were entirely distracted. Inwardly he had felt the pull from Sabvir on her end. Her fear had subsided and left in it's wake a nervousness. It took several minutes before Rhys was able to convey to the little weasel where she should go.
Once he had, he drew in a breath and seemed to come back to the world around him, pushing his mug away, "Barkeep, is your messenger busy?" The Barkeep leaned back and frowned as he looked around the bar, "Nah, he'ssitt'n by the fireplace. Should I call 'em over?" "Yes, please."
Kalia was very familiar with that sudden stillness that settled over Rhys. Just about every Argent with the Gift of telepathy was overcome by such a stillness when using their Gift or communicating with their Familiar. It was like straining to hear something that was very quiet, from far away.
"Sabvir?" she asked, while the bartender went and fetched the messenger Rhys had requested. Unlike Rhys, she was working quickly on her stew. She ate in neat bites, but rapidly, in the habit of a person who was accustomed to having to eat in a hurry or else not at all. The bottom of the bowl came too soon, and Kalia found herself motioning to the barkeep to refill it. She could afford a little excess, given the amount of energy she expended in a given day on travel, riding, hauling gear and making camp.
"Yes," He replied as the stillness passed. "The effects have finally worn off, she'll head our direction once she's found a meal and rested." It would have been a lie to say he wasn't worried for the little weasel. Her white coat didn't allow her to blend into her current surroundings and if she didn't take care Sabvir may well end up as a meal herself. Though even with this Rhys didn't doubt the resourcefulness of the creature. He had felt the smugness she'd expressed once after rolling in the dirt to disguise her pelt while stalking after a small hare. She had been a greedy little thing that day- there was no way she could have finished the meal herself and her attempt to share it with her human had meant trudging it across the Monastery grounds and into the Monastery itself.
It had taken her a great deal of effort to do and wasn't sure why Rhys had reacted negatively when he woke up to find a partially eaten hare on the toe his boots.
Rhys returned to eating until the messenger arrived and after a quick exchange of what message the man was to verbally deliver and had left, he turned back to his meal and finished it quickly. Or as quickly as possible for him. He managed not to spill any on himself and to anyone watching who hadn't known him, it wasn't obvious that he couldn't see well.
The pair finished their dinner in relative silence, after that. Unless Rhys felt the need to strike up additional conversation, Kalia was content to allow the air between them to slip into comfortable silence. She completed her second helping of food as neatly as she had the first, and once Rhys indicated he was satisfied as well, she guided him up the stairs.
As promised, a bath was waiting; somehow the barkeep had been able to guess just about when the Argents would finish their meals and had ordered the tub filled to coincide with their arrival.
They were required to share a room and large bed, but that was hardly different than sharing a tent - except for space and comfort. A simple wooden divider was all that could be spared to block the tub from full view of the rest of the room, but it was enough. You learned to lose a great deal of modesty when you were on the road with someone for months at a time.
"You first. You'll need the hot water far more than I. Especially after being thrown from the saddle." She put Rhys's hand on the edge of the tub and showed him the bar of harsh lye soap, then left him to it. She was perfectly happy to lounge comfortably on the bed while he did so. She might even have fallen asleep while she waited for the man to soak away his aches and pains.
Rhys felt like he didn't have the energy to argue with Kaylia that she should go first- and she had a very valid point. "Thank you." After she had retreated to the bed and he could hear the rustle of the woman laying down, Rhys set to getting himself cleaned up. First he fetched clean clothes from the saddle pack and then vanished behind the divider where he'd strip down before carefully climbing into the tub.
The warmth of the water was a welcomed sensation on his aching muscles and a audible sigh escaped his lips. He made a mental note that, upon his return to the Monastery, he should not allow such a lengthy amount of time to pass between riding, even if it were only to stretch Idora's legs. It'd certainly help avoid this sort of ache from occurring again.
He soaked in the tub and cleaned up with soap before he'd get out and dry off. Let's be honest here, he was banking that Kaylia was polite enough to stay on the other side of the divider as he dried off and got dressed. Unless she made a great deal of racket while moving around he wouldn't have known if she were across the room or staring right at him.
Dried, dressed, and feeling a great deal more refreshed and relaxed than he had in days, Rhys moved from behind the divider while toweling off his short hair, kept that way since it would be less to brush and less of a hassle for a blind man to try and make look neat. "The water is still plenty warm," He made sure not to soak too long that the water would be cold by the time his traveling partner had her turn. That would have been rude.
Kalia, for her part, bathed quickly. She rinsed away the dirt and grime, but did not wash her hair in the tub. That was a task which would take far longer, and require more effort than Kalia was willing to expend. Hopefully Rhys's household would have a lady's maid on staff, who could give Kalia's hair a much-needed cleaning, brushing, and re-braiding. When your hair was as long as Kalia's, that sort of maintenance was quite a chore.
Bath finished, Kalia slipped into a long nightgown, then called for the inn staff to empty the tub. She crawled into bed, taking the space against the wall in case Rhys needed to get up in the night, and didn't remember her head touching the pillow.
Tomorrow, they'd make the journey to the Abernathy household. But for now, blessed sleep.
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