Certain in her decision to leave the Wilderness behind and move to the capital to explore the world like her grandfather had suggested, Nisha raised her head after storing the letter in her [Soul Space].
The approval from Little Breeze thoroughly convinced the dragon girl and allowed her to put her worries at rest.
Facing the half-elf, she was about to speak up again. The grief still pulled her mood down, but she was clear headed enough to engage in more conversation with Eldrin’s son. Suddenly, a carriage broke through the woods and rolled down the path, it was being pulled by a large animal that Nisha did not recognize.
Contrary to that, she had a feeling like she should recognize the driver, sitting on the other side of the clearing. The distance was too far to make out his features, but the grey clothes the driver wore evoked a certain familiarity.
Where have I met him … I didn’t meet that many humans and elves so far after all.
“Who is that? I think it is my carriage, but who is driving it?”
Luthais seemed to have similar thoughts, staring across the plain while straightening his back. He was able to clearly make out the scene, his seventh rank in aura was not just for show, it strengthened his sight.
“I will respect your decision … Nisha. But for now, I have to deal with this visitor first, we can talk about the details later. Might I trouble you to go back into the house? I will follow soon.”
Clearly reluctant and conscious of her secret, the half elf looked reluctant to let her meet a stranger that appeared to know the location of the hunting grounds and was in possession of his carriage.
As Nisha was about to return to the cottage, crossing the field of sweet smelling summer grass, a male figure emerged from the door she was heading for, raising his hand in greeting.
“Brother, finally you are here! How was your journey?”
Hayze’s deep voice carrying through the air, it was not especially loud or overbearing, yet it travelled far despite the moderate volume.
The carriage driver returned the welcome by lifting the black hat on top of his head, revealing his blond hair, and waving the hat in the air.
Blonde hair, a grey tuxedo … I know! Was his name Weiss? He asked me to follow him after I … regained my vision. Hayze also called him brother, they must be connected to big sis Gabriel and Bael.
The hooves of the [Strider Deer] quickly plowed through the soil which was still damp from the morning dew.
Once the carriage entered the range of her [Spirit Vision], Nisha stared blankly in wonder.
Luthais’ own aura and mana swirled around him in a raging storm, a bright and overpowering green gale with somewhat minor red specks dancing around and mixed together. A powerful image of someone who was almost at the same strength Eldrin had been, the blue mana flowed around him in a more calm, but forceful current when he had been alive.
The dragon girl was used to it as an everyday sight, she never noticed the light white sheen that surrounded Annabelle or the earthen gleam that accompanied Lydia, playing around them like a cloud.
Hayze and Weiss, on the other hand, still did not give her any feeling of pressure or danger. Ever since she completed her transformation to look completely elfish, the [Spirit Sight] continued to grow stronger and more detailed, it got to the point where Nisha was able to close her eyes and her surroundings remained visible and focused, but it lacked any colours.
The energies around the brothers seemed to mirror each other to the closest detail. A thin film of almost solid looking black and white spirals that reinforced each other in a slow rotation, and drawing close to their bodies appeared in her perception.
At a glance, the incorporeal energies seemed to skitter about randomly, but when the dragon girl observed it more closely, she managed to discern a pattern in which the aura and energy danced about.
How strange. I wonder what my own colours are and how they cling to me.
Meeting up in front of the stables, the grey dressed man called Weiss and Hayze exchanged a short hug, displaying their closeness. Luthais seemed to have a question regarding their relation, but the new visitor took the initiative by speaking up first.
“Miss Nisha, Luthais, it is nice to see you again.”
Bowing in front of them, the orderly looking man filled the role of a gentleman instead of a carriage driver.
“According to my instructions, I have delivered the requested item to you. Allow me to express my condolences for your loss.”
Nisha didn’t know why, but this phrase seemed hollow and anger her. Nobody understood the full extent of her loss, empty words didn’t help at all.
But she reigned her temper in, replying with the most minute hint of a smile on her face.
“Thank you for your kind words. I remember you from the forest. You said Bael and Gabriel sent you to fetch me?”
Without dancing around the issue, the dragon girl cut straight into the main topic of the conversation. Albeit Weiss face distorted when she addressed his masters without any honorifics.
“Come on, don’t be such a hardhead.”
Ever since he arrived with Luthais at the mansion, Hayze’s attitude made a complete turnaround from an obedient servant and coach driver that the inhabitants of the cottage and the half elf knew to an easy going bear of a man, always ready to chat with them or make a joke - as far as a light mood was allowed, in the grim tension after the master of the dwelling passed away.
“Always so formal, you don’t have to keep up appearances here, they know Mistress Gabriel and Bael after all.”
Shooting a fierce glance to his companion, Weiss ceased to bow and sighed deeply.
“Indeed, that is true. And on their orders, I have brought the carriage here, Mistress Bael hopes that you can use it to return to the capital once you have concluded your business here and packed your luggage. My frivolous brother and me have other duties to attend to. Please excuse us now, these matters are urgent. Hayze, take us to the Garden of the Empress next … please.”
He sounds urgent to leave. I wonder if I have offended him. Maybe … ?
Approaching the man in the grey tuxedo, Nisha pulled at his sleeve, the fabric exceptionally soft and comfortable to the touch.
“Mister Weiss, before you leave, please allow me to express my apologies for simply leaving you in the forest when you were there to escort me. I know that was rude, but sadly, I was overcome by grief and could not think straight. Please excuse my poor behaviour at the time.”
Truthfully, the dragon girl did not feel sorry at all, and she simply wanted to maintain a cordial relationship with the people affiliated with the two goddesses. The expression on Weiss’ face visibly cleared up, although he still didn’t seem to be in less of a hurry.
“I understand, miss Nisha, please rest assured that this servant did not see it as a fault. Losing a family member is never easy, becoming agitated is understandable. However, I don’t really feel well associating with … mortals, and I still need to meet Cynthia, the Terus Empress … I don’t feel too well today.”
Hayze’s face had brightened up at the apology and the way his brother accepted it, however, the last part of his reply seemed to strike him wrong and put an ugly expression on his face.
“Please excuse this blunt fellow, he never got along with others. Before he says anything else that might slight you, allow me to take him away.”
Walking in a brisk speed, the unpretentiously clothed man passed Luthais and the three woman, grabbing his sibling at the shoulder - and then simply vanishing into thin air.
No rumble, no shaking, no wave of power followed by such amazing magic. Nothing.
For a second, there was only silence between the remaining persons, unsure what to make of the sudden goodbye.
When the quiet started to get uncomfortable, Luthais spoke up.
“Ahem … now that we got a carriage, please gather up the things you want to take with you.
Have you made your decision yet Nisha? I am sure we can work something out together, I just need to know if you want to go to the capital with us. However, regardless of your decision, my grandfather wanted you to inherit this land, the hunting grounds, and I see no reason to refuse. If you want to stay here, I can also understand that and I will instruct my employees to not disturb you here.”
Looking at her with unreadable eyes, the half-elf simply waited for her response.
Would he really take me to the capital with him? I know some stories about him already and grandpa Eldrin always praised him. No! There can be no hesitation. Grandpa wished for me to see the world, and I will do exactly that.
“I’d love to take the chance to see Thurgau with you, Sir Luthais.
Please take me with you when you depart. I have almost all my possessions on me anyway, but I will help my … sisters with their preparations.”
The term the dragon used to describe seemed to confuse Luthais for a moment, but recognition flashed in his eyes when Nisha took the hands of Annabelle and Lydia, pulling them along inside the house.
Unseen to the girls, he chuckled and slowly murmured to himself.
“They might have not been related to you, father, but you found a good family out here once again. Now that you are gone, I will take care of them for you.”
With a twinkle in his eyes, the half-elf put on a serious face again and followed them inside, his only responsibility being the casket of his father.
“Are you sure that you are alright with coming along to the capital, Nisha? You have some family here after all.”
Lydia quietly questioned her smaller sister when they passed the front door of the cottage, afraid to break the solemn air that hung around the house ever since Eldrin passed on.
Her face clearly showed her inner conflict, dreading to lose her sister but equally loathing to separate her from the last remaining dragon siblings she had here.
Looking back over her shoulder, Nisha was clearly able to see the guilty conscience her friend had and she had to think for a second to find the right words to reassure her.
“Of course it’s not going to be easy to leave Little Breeze, Little Terra and Little Stream here alone.
But I know they are strong on their own and they can take care of themselves. I can’t always watch over them.
Additionally, this isn’t a goodbye forever. I only have to get strong enough to protect all of my family, then we can all live together in the capital or out here in the hunting grounds. You two included, you are my big sisters after all! Wouldn’t that be nice?”
A first small smile managed to sneak on Nisha’s face, the first since Eldrin had gone to the other side ahead of her, which only deepened when the three girls stopped to hug each other for a moment, moved by the strong bond between them. While they were not related by blood, none of them would hesitate to jump into a fire for the others.
“And it’s not like I can never visit, I know where they live after all.”
On the upper floor they parted for the moment, each going to their own room to pack up their remaining belongings.
And I have to go to the capital at any price anyway. The ones that inflicted so much pain on me and Eldrin will definitely have to pay, no matter how long it takes.
When the hot burning fury inside Nisha had subsided, it didn’t simply burn out. Instead, it formed a deep set of icy resentment, biding its time and slowly sharpening itself. Each passing day, there was another opportunity to sharpen the cold blade of revenge she harbored inside herself.
One day in the future, the perfect opportunity would arrive to unsheathe this blade and demand justice for the crime that had been committed against the inhabitants of the mansion.
To avoid raising suspicion regarding her luggage and having to reveal her space, Nisha packed a small bundle of clothes that belonged to Eldrin as well as his favourite torn robe. The sky blue fabric reminding her of happy days she spent in her draconic form and the elf before her transformation.
Without an actual need to do more preparations, Nisha spent the remaining time poking around the house and putting everything interesting or useful the elf and the girls had found during the cleanup of the various storage room into the [Soul Space] with her actual belongings, sorting the things in different piles.
I don’t actually need to take them along with me, there’s already enough treasures in here. But who knows when I’ll be back, maybe some of this stuff can actually be useful in Thurgau or on the way.
Plundering the kitchen as well, Nisha spent her remaining time wandering through the dark and empty hallways, which had been devoid of laughter and life ever since Eldrin’s passing, until Annabelle came looking for her.
When the oldest girl found her, she was using the last remaining ingredients to fix a simple dinner, ready to take it with her in a basket on the carriage.
“Here you are. Can you help us carry our chest? Sir Luthais is done with his tasks already and asked when we are ready to leave. It would really help if you can carry something as well.”
“Sure, let me just finish making the meal, then we can eat something before falling asleep today.”
With a few expertly looking swift moves, Nisha finished her preparations and moved to help her two dear friends.
With a deep orange light from the afternoon sun, four figures could be seen mounting an exquisite carriage, an empty shell of a building was standing behind them.
The dark windows lacked the usual life the cottage held for almost a century now, appearing as the dark eyes of a dying creature.
Each of the departing silhouettes held different memories regarding the hunting grounds, with a grave importance for their lives regardless of the duration they had been in this place.
the dragon girl waved goodbye to the place where she had befriended the first elf she had ever seen. A courageous man that always tried his best and taught her much more than just letters and book knowledge.
He taught her about compassion, humility and kindness, encouraged her to be curious and brave and always offered her a warm welcome when she returned soaked after a failed adventure.
Are you watching me from the other side now, grandpa? I’m off to see what lies behind the horizon and learn more about the world, just like you wished.
I’m going to make you proud.
The small flame inside her stirred and the runes in her core danced when the dragon girl threw a last gaze over the cottage, vowing to return one day again to pay proper respects to the spirit of her grandfather that started his journey to the other side here, reuniting with his deceased wife. And she also vowed build a place where her family could safely live regardless of their race of physique, while burning the scenery into her mind.
One day, I will be back.