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Full Version: Bernese Ball
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Paige woke up in more comfort than usual. Instead of the dirt ground, she had slept quite nicely within the Hyperion family castle. Recently, Satsume, Shad, Cecily, Ellie, Lita, and Goldhardt had freed the castle and the surrounding village under the control of a band of brigands. It wasn’t exactly a clean rescue, but with the help of a squad of Bern’s wyvern knights, no casualties were suffered. Shad’s sister, Maria, allowed them to stay for a few days before heading back out. The knights were also at the castle, using it as a temporary base while they rested and resupplied.
The villagers gave their thanks by bringing food to the castle. The tavern gave drinks on the house. Bards began singing of these Lycian heroes, spreading tall tales of how their village was won. It was the most welcomed Paige had ever felt anywhere, though she didn’t feel she deserved it. Her sword skills failed her that day. Had it not been for Satsume’s quick thinking, she would have been among the dead. She would have to put aside her title of librarian for a while if she hoped to become a warrior.
Paige got dressed and entered the dining hall, which was lavishly decorated with pastries from town. Some of the wyvern knights were already picking at the display: one’s beard was peppered with powdered sugar. A maid offered Paige a seat and some breakfast, as well as a message.
“Please enjoy and stay here for a bit,” the maid said. “The captain of the wyvern squadron would like to speak to all of you.”
“Of course,” Paige replied, brushing her fingers through her hair to look a little nicer. Servants were running around the castle in search of her companions, urging them to the dining hall. If nothing else, at least breakfast was served.
Shad found himself where he had spent the last few nights, laying in his sister's bed. She had been having nightmares of her previous week and his presence was the only thing that put her nerves at ease. Neither really had much sleep though. Part of it was Shad spending too long telling Maria stories about their fallen men, but mostly it was him dwelling on the fact he didn't remember anything that happened from when he saw Maria in her cell and the following morning. At some point, someone had retrieved the corpses of his men and gave them proper burials, a task he put upon himself. He doesn't remember if he did that or not, but there was a collection of some of their personal effects in a storeroom. He spent half of his time writing to the families of his men, but the one that took the most time to write for was for Marcus. As Cassandra's brother, Marcus was not only intended to be his brother-in-law but was also one of his closest connections back to his father. He climbed out of bed and noticed that Maria had gotten up before him.

Maria was busy tying her red scarf under her collar, looking somewhat disappointingly at the mirror. Something else Shad doesn't remember was deciding that an easy way to deal with the congealed blood in her hair was to chop most of it off. Her hair which went down to the small of her back now rested at the back of her neck just below her ears. She finished tying it before turning in her chair at Shad, noticing him climbing out of bed. "Finally up, sleepy head?"

Shad just looked at her, not responding. She raised an eyebrow, confused. He suddenly went wide-eyed, weirding her out slightly. He squinted his eyes, as if he was trying to get a better look. Maria jumped out of the chair and grabbed a hat. She preceded to fling it at Shad, who began to laugh at her response. "No, I'm still sleeping," he chuckled as he tossed the hat back. He sniffed the air a bit, recognizing the smell. "Is that breakfast I smell?"

"Auntie Maisie got up the servants up early to help her make it," Maria replied as she put the hat back.

"'Auntie'?" Shad questioned with a laugh. "Anyway, what is there for her to make? The village has been pleading for forgiveness with food for the last few days. She shouldn't have had to make anything."

"Their 'thanks', remember. 'Most' of them did nothing wrong."

"...Sure," Shad said, dragging it out to emphasize his lack of belief.

"And I'm not sure what. Some Lycian breakfast, probably. Something you and your companions might be familiar with." Maria said as she ran up next to Shad, as they passed through the door. In front of them was Maria's shadow, Grey. "What are you doing here? Don't you usually like being where I can't see you?"

"Sorry, milord, milady. The captain of the those...winged beasts, wants to speak to all of you."

"And you are relaying this because?"

"After what happened, I can't in good faith trust anyone else to come to this floor but Miss Maisie and yourselves."

"Noted. Well, we are heading to the dining hall. Who else is there?"

"As far as I know, the only one there is the red head. And the other riders." Shad just looked Grey in the eyes, hoping for her to elaborate more. When she refused to open up and explain more, he sighed and put his hand behind Maria urging her forward. Shad had to make a mental note. Grey is bad with names. Did she forget there were several redheads in their group?
They were all guilty, but most of them will get away without even a slap on the wrist. It weighed on Cecily's mind. The thought angered her, but there was even greater news that angered her even more. One of Leroy's men found, among the survivors of the village's trafficking ring, a former servant from Laus. Cecily had to speak with her then.

"Why are you here?" Cecily had asked her. "Surely the servants' jobs would simply change in accordance to my leave."

"We have all been dismissed from the castle after your father was executed," the servant replied.

Those words struck Cecily in her gut more than any weapon. Her mother died while she was still young, leaving her father to be the only parental figure she had while growing up. Part of her wanted to cry right there, but Cecily kept it in check. Her anger burned just as much as her sorrow and Cecily wanted to be alone for that night, obtaining a private chamber in the castle. She buried her face in her pillow, smothering all of her feelings and eventually drifting to sleep.

Cecily did not feel reinvigorated that morning. In fact, she felt about the same as when she went to sleep that night. She simply laid in her bed, dreary eyed, wishing that she could go back to sleep. It was simpler that way: to forget what she was told last night. But at the same time, Cecily cannot keep any of it out of her mind. Her fury started to return and Cecily responded by returning to her pillow. She had contemplated a thousand reasons for why her father would be executed, but they all boiled down to the notion that she managed to escape. A bold, daring escape that would not have been possible without the loyalty of her former retainer Theodore.

She wanted to blame him for this, but that was too easy to do. She could have stayed in that dungeon cell. She could have told him that she will not attempt to escape. She could have chosen to die. She chose her own life instead.

A series of knocks on the door shocked her from her self loathing. Cecily froze as she contemplated answering the visitor, but relented.

"Who is it?" she called out.
*knock knock knock*
"Nnnn...." Satsume grumbled in weary disgust and blindly fumbled for the quilt, pulling it over his head.  The beds in Burg Castle were probably the best he had ever slept in, and he wasn't about to pass up life's greatest luxury over the measly rapping of a servant's knuckles on the door.
*knock knock knock!*  "Mister Satsume?" came a muffled voice from outside.
Still clinging to his state of nirvana, Satsume could only mumble.  "Mmmf.  Goway."
“The captain of the guard wishes to have a word with you, Mister Satsume.”
A pause, then finally, with disgust, a dreary-eyed Satsume threw the covers off and grunted his displeasure.  “Alright, alright.  Give me a minute.”
He swiveled his legs around and placed his feet on the floor.  Throughout a series of yawns, stretches, and eye-rubbing, Satsume put on his pants and a shirt, slid his boots on, and trudged to the door.  The servant took a step back and curtseyed.
“So sorry to wake you, but the captain was very insistent.”
“I’ll bet,” said Satsume, stifling another yawn with the back of his hand.  “He just wants to see me?”
“Actually, he wanted to see all of you.  I’m making my way down the hall.  Only the Lady Cecily remains unroused.”
“Let me handle that,” he said, then lowered his voice.  “She can be… a little grouchy if she doesn’t get enough sleep.”
“Okay, but please hurry!  He will meet you at the dining hall!”  The maid bowed her head and turned back down the hallway.
Satsume went the other way, and stopped in front of the next room – Cecily’s.  He rubbed more sleep out of his eyes and gave his head a quick shake to help wake himself up.  Then he knocked.
Tap tap tappity tap!  Tap tap!
A brief pause, then finally: “Who is it?”
“Your brave and gallant Sir Knight,” Satsume replied sarcastically.  “You dressed?”
He turned the handle and entered Cecily’s room.  She looked incredibly weary, like she hadn’t gotten much sleep.  He had a pretty good inkling as to why: sometime last night, she had been informed by someone in the castle – a former Lausian vassal, probably – of her father’s death.  He remembered her being especially averse to conversation before they had turned in for the night.  And there was no way he was about to try talking to her about it to calm her down.
It’s probably not in the job description, Satsume thought.  Besides, I’m sure I’d just say something stupid or insensitive.
“We’ve been summoned to the dining hall by the wyvern captain.  I suspect there’s breakfast.  You hungry?”
Hungry? Cecily knew that she should be, but she felt no desire to eat. However, knowing her brave and gallant Sir Knight, he would insist she try to eat some victuals.

"Very well," she sighed.

Cecily slid off her bed and headed over to the door. Rather than join him, she pushed him out of her room.

"After I get dressed," Cecily added, with a tinge of annoyance, before shutting the door behind him. She was still in her night gown, after all.

In better spirits, she would have added a tease to Satsume's odd choice of opening the door after asking whether Cecily was properly dressed or not, but she was not in the mood for her usual light banter. Now, more than ever, she wished that she could return to those simpler, more carefree times.

Once she was ready, Cecily rejoined Satsume in the hall to head to the dining room. Their journey was quiet, leading Cecily to conclude that Satsume was trying to be considerate of her feelings. Gallant indeed. But she had no intention of making their journey quiet for much longer.

"Do you have regrets?" she asked.