For three days I traveled with Shay to Terrasylvae. With each hill we climbed and path that bent, I watched over my shoulders as the coastline shrank further into the distance. I inhaled deep breaths of what remaining sea air lingered in the area. Then all at once it was gone.
I was surrounded by steeper hills and taller mountains. The air was still fresh, but unlike that which I was raised on. It was then I realized I appreciated Shay’s ability to carry a conversation. The common pleasantries of new acquaintances had subsided after the first day, but her intellect kept my mind from wandering too much towards home. The more we conversed, the more I realized she could recall details of our conversation hours later and ask detailed questions about things I didn’t remember talking about. She’s a scholar at that.
We arrived midday at the Order Garrison. A grumpy young man, who I could only assume was the garrison secretary, was tossing excess papers around his desk. He crumpled one and tossed it into the fireplace across the room, strategically landing it between the gentle embers and hanging pot of stew he was neglecting. Shay didn’t react as though anything was out of the ordinary.
This secretary could obviously sense our presence as he shifted his posture at the sound of our footsteps. However, he shuffled one last stack of papers and let out a quiet ‘hisssss.’ He leaned back in his chair, holding an apple core between us and his gaze. I grimaced as he popped the remnants of the apple in his mouth and quickly licked the juices off his fingers.
Smiling pleasantly all the while, Shay quietly waited for him to finish chewing.
“So how’d it go?” he finally asked.
“We’re alive. She is here safe and sound. So, all is well.” Shay replied.
He smirked at that. “Well good. I’m glad to hear you weren’t stupid enough to wander through Inkhom on your way back.”
“Someday I might be.” Shay returned with quiet confidence.
“No one survives that, Shay!” He forcefully replied with a slap on his desk in good humor.
“We’ll see. I intend to be the first.” She said matter of factly.
As they spoke I took note of the strange attire he wore for a secretary. He was dressed in a black tunic with a bright orange stripe running from shoulder to hip on one side. He had well worn pants, heavy boots, and an empty sword frog on his belt. I noticed a rapier leaning up against his desk. It looked very plain, but well used.
Just then, he shifted into a dominant posture, placing his elbows on his desk and leaning forward.
“So is this her?” He asked, now gesturing to me.
Shay turned to introduce me, but I was tired of being treated as though I wasn’t in the room. I stepped forward to take my place in front of him. “Yes” I replied, “My name is Miren Folley.”
“Right then. More paperwork. Let’s get on with it, shall we?”
He then proceeded to give me an introduction to the Order of the Rose and what it represented to those involved. It was clearly something he’d recited many times before, but also something he truly valued.
Throughout his explanation, he had to pause multiple times as various “Terrasylvans” (as I heard them called) popped in and out of the room asking him questions. First, there was a young woman named Evanlyn having a problem with gorgets, then a man named Ulvade poked his head through the window with a quick remark about how he and the other rangers were going to go check out a sighting of “Haute”. These interruptions continued and varied from supply, to training, to reports of someone named Blackkoven sending insulting missives again.
All of these people seemed to need his special attention and each interrupted our conversation. I finally offered myself a chair somewhere midway the interruptions, as did Shay. When the man finally turned back to me I pointedly turned my head away from him and sarcastically inquired of Shay, “Is there any less important secretary that we can waste away our afternoon trying to have a conversation with?”
“Ehem,” Shay smiled broadly and sat up a little taller in her seat. As was her particular habit, she picked up right where she’d left off with her introduction. With more than a hint of humor in her voice, she proceeded, “Miren Folley, this is Kane Driscol, captain of The Order of the Rose.”