Unexpected Adventure, Part Nineteen
Regis met some of the boarders, a large group of rich, outdoors-y humans. He even traded his weird back scabbard and twin swords with an enthusiastic teenager. Then, we continued on.
The forest was exactly the way I remember—thick, dark, and most importantly, alive, even in the winter. Regis kept his hand on his sword. When we got to the city, he blinked, then his arms went limp.
I smiled. This—a collection of maybe a hundred elves and assorted humans, living in a variety of houses scattered among the trees—probably wasn’t what he had expected. But then, neither were the boarders (he’d been expecting savages). I asked, “Do you like it?”
Regis looked around. “It’s…not what I was expecting.”
I nodded. “Lots of stuff isn’t. Daddy, can I show him the statue?”
Daddy clapped Regis on the shoulder. “We can. I don’t want you scaring him off.”
“I’m not that bad, am I?” I pouted, then laughed and skipped down the packed path. It hadn’t changed, either, and I could admire the view as we went on. The different patterns in the tree trunks, the frost, and the cracked rocks. Then, I came to a small clearing.
Hoar trees—thin, white, with crackly leaves, and dotted in purple berries—surrounded a statue of our founder, Prince Day. His eyes and face were mostly left up to interpretation—the carver hadn’t gone into detail—but I could see the nobleness in his firm chin and braced stance. Brushing some snow off one of his boots, I sighed. “Daddy, when can I start courting?”
“Not until I trust your judgment.”
I hefted myself onto the statue’s pedestal. “But you trust me now!”
“On matters like business and housekeeping, yes. That is not quite the same as knowing you will not run off with the first dashing young man you meet.” Daddy joined me on the pedestal and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “I want to be sure you won’t give your heart away to someone who would misuse it.”
“Aw, thanks.” We hugged.
Regis cleared his throat, shifting his feet.
Daddy hopped down. “So sorry about that; I forgot what we came here for. The tailor’s shop is just a few trails down.”
Regis frowned. “The tailor’s shop? The cape isn’t made?”
“Oh, it is. The tailor's is simply the safest place to keep it.” Daddy started off. I gazed longingly at the statue. When Regis walked past, I scraped snow from the pedestal, jumped, and managed to shove the snow down his jacket.
He flailed and made inarticulate noises.
“Can’t catch me!” But, he did, eventually. That was only because daddy tripped me, then they both pelted me with snowballs. It was fun.
When the laughing died down, I looked up at them from my position on the ground. “We’re going past our house soon. Can we show Regis?”
“Yes, of course. I’m certain he would like to freshen up.”
I looked at Regis and realized that, in addition to being wet, his outfit was several days old. And he hadn’t washed for at least as long; his hair was oily. I shrugged. “Okay.”
When we got to our tree, I paused. Something was different. The coniferous leaves were the same, the sleeping pods higher up in the tree, the carved door, and the smaller tree stump next to the door…had a woven metal basket stuffed with moss, down, vials, berries, and a bundle of cloth.
I couldn’t keep a smile from spreading across my face. Slyly, I asked, “Daddy, why is there a birth basket in front of our house?” I looked over my shoulder. Daddy had a silly grin on his face, and he nodded.