Chapter 49: The Dharnas Estate
Looking through the open window of the carriage, Nisha was admiring the wonders outside. Without the overwhelming input from all sides, the elvish girl was able to focus on specific things. She discovered more and more of the city while the party was waiting to arrive at their final destination.
Annabelle and Lydia – sitting across on the bench opposite to her – were more than happy to just watch their little sister with excited eyes. The results of the ceremony in the temple were still fresh in their minds and delighted them.
On the other hand, Hale appeared to brood over something. She sat next to Nisha, not letting her out of her sight, even for a moment.
“Still, I wonder why Sir Roland was so discouraged when he led us to the other door. It was nice from him to allow Nisha to take the test, but why was he so downcast about her results?”
Lydia’s comment pulled Hale out of her trance. She gave the two girls across from her a quick smile.
“I didn’t think of it before, but he hoped for something else.
If my guess is correct, he really hoped that the light pillar would light up as well.
He wasn’t just nice for being nice anyways. He hoped that our little friend here turned out to be someone important for his faith.
You see, back home in the main temple where I live, there was a very famous priestess serving [Lyn, the God of Water].
As all of her priestesses – [Lyn] only allows women to serve her – this one was gifted with the ability to see the goddess’s true form. She could even communicate with her from time to time and hear her words directly. They didn’t always make sense, but turned out to be true later on.
The priest is known as the [Oracle of Water] by everyone. I heard she even got the chance to meet our Empress privately which is an immense honor.
Nisha was able to see [Soleil], so I think Sir Roland hoped that she would have the light element among her gifts. With her powers, his temple might have gained their own oracle.”
The explanation made sense to the girls. Even Nisha withdrew her attention from the outside world to listen and had to admit that this might be the case.
Hesitating briefly, the older soldier added something else.
“However, he indeed did not have to invite us again to the temple when he saw us off. I think you should go when you have the chance Nisha. You don’t often get the chance to talk directly with any of the seven high priests. He might even be able to get you a chance to talk with the priests of your element to give you guidance on your gifts. The dark element as well as the life and death attribute are very rare and generally looked down on.
I mean, I knew you were special when I first met you when you cut down that officer. But to think you had three elements! I’d have never guessed that.”
So they couldn’t see the other lights after all.
Just like the elvish girl was remembering the dark chamber beneath the temple, everyone had been thrilled to see three pillars shine with the light of stars. They were the pillar of flames, the pillar of shadows and the pillar adorned with the hourglass, known as the pillar of life and death.
Not only did they light up, but the orbs carved with the elemental signs reacted as well. Burning red lines, shining black rifts, and an indefinite grey haze filled the frames of each sign. They elicited a surprised shout from the high priest.
According to the explanation he had given while walking them back, this was even rarer than multiple elements. Each of the spheres meant that she had been blessed by the respective god with a gift.
This piece of news was a new source of pride for Annabelle and Lydia. Their little sister was even more gifted than their first estimate.
Nisha herself had little interest in the reveal itself.The wonders outside of the small window in the covered carriage were far more important for now. Even the offer to go back to the temple another day to learn more about the [Church of the Seven Stars] was less critical to her.
“Do you know why [Lyn] only allows women to serve her?”
With the conversation continuing between the others, the dragon girl continued to observe the world outside and was captured by it.
To her surprise, another wall shortly flashed by the window.
This time the carriage did not even stop and simply advanced towards their destination. The last stretch of their journey passed in a flash.
The fresh air passing into the small space of the carriage carried a trace of new scents again. It was pleasant to her sensitive nose and made her stomach grumble from hunger. The meal she had in the room of the [Navis Terram] seemed so distant now.
I didn’t get to have a snack today either … I hope we will arrive soon.
Unknowingly to the dragon, a small smile had sneaked itself on her face. The dragon failed to completely be above the matters that happened at the test. She was somehow still proud of herself due to being special and having more elements than most others.
She was a child after all and excelling at something gave her great joy.
“Someone’s hungry, huh? But don’t worry, I think we should arrive soon.”
As if to confirm Lydia’s words, the carriage started to slow down and pull from the main road. They entered a separate compound with its own set of a fence and various fountains.
Halting in front of the main building, the driver gave them the sign for a finished trip and held the door open for them while allowing the girls to get a good look at the estate.
The carriage itself stood in front of a large building, plastered with red and green tales. The deer of the Dharnas house was set as mosaically above the main door to proudly announce the relation with the royal house.
Another building was set as the small part of an L to the right side. It lacked the crest, yet it was nonetheless built in the same magnificent style.
Nisha was able to perceive the pleasant smell of the forest she missed so far from somewhere here. She took a deep breath while the driver led the way towards the door. The servant took dignified steps before opening the gates with a key the old man produced from his attire.
The black clothing he wore reminded the young dragon of the coat Weiss had been wearing when he attempted to guide her back to the cottage. His straight posture and neutral facial expression reminded her of someone, but Nisha couldn’t quite put her finger on it who it was.
“Please, if the misses would follow me inside. There are refreshments prepared in the salon. I will show you the way.”
The driver – who was obviously more than just a driver – aptly did just as he told them.
He led the small group into a comfortable room with various lounge chairs distributed in the open space There was also a tray filled with sweet tea and small biscuits on the marble table that governed the whole setting.
“Master Luthais will be with you in a minute. If you would excuse me, I need to return the carriage.
Feel free to help yourself to some of the refreshments and excuse the breach of etiquette.”
As quickly as he guided them through the modest yet high class furnishings, the servant left and left the girls alone.
When the door closed behind him, the elvish girl’s shoulders finally relaxed and she basically threw herself in one of the lounge chairs. She started nibbling on one of the biscuits, enjoying the sugary sweetness that spread in her mouth.
Finally something to snack on!
Amused by the elated smile on her face, the others settled into the seating arrangements as well. They were fully content to leave the cookies with Nisha and the enthusiasm she devoured them with.
True to the attendants words, the party did not have to lay in wait for very long. Bridging the wait over with girl talk was more than just a pleasant surprise for Hale and the two sisters. They discovered that they had more in common that they thought. This happened all while watching the happy dragon pecking on the sugary treats. The sound of footsteps on the carpeted floor warned them of their host returning.
Accompanied by the black-clad retainer, a half-elf entered the salon as well. His abnormal condition was immediately apparent to everyone.
An angry red handprint burned on his left cheek, the outline too small for a male hand.
In no way acknowledging the newly acquired injury, Luthais only rose an eyebrow when he saw the massive decrease in biscuits before he started speaking.
“I see that you have already met Galan. He is the head butler of this estate and will see to it that you get your rooms and are cared for. If you need anything, feel free to ask him. No matter how many times I ask him to retire and simply live here, he always insists on keeping his position.”
What’s a butler?
Before Nisha had a chance to ask him to elaborate on the unknown word, he already addressed Lydia and Annabelle.
“As Galan also takes care of all the supplies this household needs, he is fairly close with several trading houses. He can help you set up a business affiliated with our house. He knows the situation and can introduce you to someone that will teach you the ropes of the trade. As for sharing the profits, feel free to keep all of the earnings. The Dharnas House isn’t really having that much expenses anyway.”
The butler bowed with a faint smile on his face while Nisha was carefully eyeing him, examining him from head to toe.
He somehow makes me uneasy … but he seems really friendly and reminds me of grandpa.
Continuing in his usual forceful manner, Luthais used his authoritative voice and addressed Nisha now.
“For the time being, the academy doesn’t accept new students. In three quarters of a turn the new term will begin, I will reserve a spot for you.
You still want to attend, yes?”
Nisha only nodded her head.
“Until it is time for you attend, my friend here raised some concerns about your education. Not that he doubts it, but until you pass his requirements, your daily schedule will mainly consider of training with Galan. After you complete it, you are free to explore the city as you like. You can’t sit still after all.
Do you have any complaints about this?”
Nisha shook her head.
“And lastly, Miss Hale. I can’t thank you enough for treating Nisha and accompanying her. If you ever need something, feel free to knock on my doors. I will certainly repay the favour.
You are invited to stay for a late lunch. Although I have to head out, our kitchen will certainly live up to its reputation.
Galan’s wife is famed for her cooking.
Galan, will you take care of the rest? If I get one more messenger, I might just break my table again …”
Even the otherwise steadfast Hale seemed to be taken by surprise this time. She briefly thanked the half-elf while blinking wide eyed as he stormed off, buttoning up his uniform and leaving the house.
The butler – Nisha was unsure if he was truly a human. His age felt much closer to her grandfather. Galan clasped his hands over his black suit and took over for Luthais.
“Following the master’s wishes, the mistresses might relax here in this room. Someone will bring a new set of refreshments soon.
Allow me to make the arrangements for your rooms and transport your luggage into them, as well as preparing the last rites for Master Eldrin.”
For a moment, Nisha believed there was a tinge of sadness in his eyes, but the attendant’s face was kept neutral. She couldn’t read him at all.
“The meal will be served when young master Henry returns from the academy. I will fetch you then.
Please ring the bell besides the door if there is something you need. Someone will come to listen to your wishes then.
Do you have any questions?”
Despite him addressing the women with respectful titles and playing the role of a servant perfectly, the young dragon never doubted for a moment that this man was far more influential than he seemed.
Even Luthais called him a friend. I better be careful around him. But …
“Is it possible for me to attend grandpa’s burial? I heard he will be laid to rest here.
And who is Henry?”
The question managed to shake the butler’s facade for a moment. For the tiniest moment, a flash of surprise going through his face.
“Of course you can decide if you want to attend. The ceremony will still need to be planned for the next moon, if my guess is correct.
And young Master Henry is Master Luthais’ son. He is currently attending the royal academy in his second year. You will be able to introduce yourself to him when he returns from today’s curriculum.
Rest assured, there’s nothing currently urgent you need to attend.
Tomorrow I will be able to introduce your friends to a trustworthy merchant. Master Luthais already informed me during the time you were in the temple.
We will also have to see how advanced your education is. I also heard about your situation with the late Master Eldrin. But don’t worry, we have enough time to turn you into an outstanding member of the Dharnas house!”
As the blazing ardor in his deep voice unconsciously provoked goosebumps on Nisha’s skin, she only managed to nod.
“Alright, I will head off now then. Feel free to stay here until it is time for lunch.”
Blinking into the now silent room, Annabelle raised her voice first.
“We’re somehow part of an amazing House now, aren’t we?”
No one was refuting that statement.
“Since it looks like we have some time until lunch, how about you tell me more about yourself, Nisha?
I already knew you were from the countryside, but it seems there’s a much bigger story to tell.”
Lance Corporal Hale’s request wasn’t unreasonable. They were in a private setting and due to the young dragon’s injuries, they didn’t have had a chance to talk about their journey so far.
Judging by the spark of interest in Hale’s blue eyes, there was no way she would let this chance slip by.
Sighing in defeat, Nisha finished her cookie and sat upright.
“It all started on a rainy afternoon. Lydia and Annabelle were travelling with a brother of nobles that forced them to accompany their party while they searched the Wilderness for treasures.
I was living with grandpa at the time and we were on a stroll. We discovered a peculiarity in a monster lair …”