A Sisters' Tale/C9 The Young Lady and the Little Peasant Girl
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A Sisters' Tale/C9 The Young Lady and the Little Peasant Girl
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C9 The Young Lady and the Little Peasant Girl

The reserved forces from the Autisia outskirts are more a less like a militia than the official Autisian military forces; comprised of volunteering ex-soldiers who typically hold the position of either sheriff or constable, bounty hunter, adventurer, mercenary, or trapper … although being in these particular fields aren't necessarily mandated, and their occupation doesn't really matter; so long as they have previously served in a branch of the official Autisian military forces.

There's a reason why the queen has sent this small party of reserved forces soldiers instead of a unit of soldiers from the Autisian army; and it's the very same reason why Lady Katherine is being sent to stay with her at the castle in the first place. With several signs of the prophecy already evident … and with the conditions seeming to perfectly fall into place; and the time for it to be carried out drawing near … precautions must be taken to ensure Lady Katherine's safety. The first priority being to keep her out of The Dark One's clutches. And one of the strategies to achieve this is to have every further movement of Lady Katherine kept as low-key as possible … trying to keep her 'off the grid', so to speak … at least until the time for the prophesy to be able to be fulfilled passes.

Unlike the military soldiers … who spend most of their time dressed in their official uniforms and attire … those in the reserved forces wear their everyday clothing. Also, when partaking in these escorts; they travel and move about in a more seemingly 'casually relaxed and unsystematic' manner, as opposed to the more rigidly strict formation-style manner of their military counterparts … looking like your 'run-of-the-mill' traveling party instead of an official military envoy. Using the Autisian outskirts' reserved forces will draw less attention to Lady Katherine while escorting her over to the castle.

And while the queen is doing her part to keep Lady Katherine's journey as inconspicuous as possible by using her realm's reserved forces to escort her; Lady Katherine's parents are doing theirs as well. They are sending her over incognito … shabbily dressed in the worn, tattered clothing of one of their scullery maids' daughter; and riding in a small, rickety carriage that's usually used by the servants at the estate, instead of the family's grand coach … which has their family's crest prominently branded on both sides of it.

Also … aside from the small party of Autisian reserved forces and the coachman … Lady Katherine will be traveling by alone. There are no handmaidens or attendants accompanying her. Not that there will be a need for them; since the castle has more than an adequate number of staff and servants to cater to the young lady's needs while staying there. Even Sylvia … who's usually by Lady Katherine's side most of the time throughout the day … isn't going along with the young lady. Again, there usually isn't a need for Sylvia to be present when Lady Katherine's at the castle; being how the queen and her chamberlain always look after the young lady during her stays there.


They're in the second day of their journey. It would normally take only a day to a little under a day and a half to travel between the castle and Lady Katherine's family estate; but due to damage inflected upon the Wiel Shire by that ferocious storm, their travel time has been increased … with a majority of that time spent slowly trudging through the Wiel Shire's ravaged countryside.

All of the horses' hooves heavily plodded in and out of miles of mire-like terrain, brought about from the previous day's torrential downpour saturating the ground … while those horses pulling the carriage laboriously struggled to, basically, drag the partially sunken wheels through the deep mud.

Large fallen tree limbs … sometimes the whole tree itself … and uprooted shrubbery; large stones and rocks dislodged from the ground and moved by the flash floods and landslides; and pieces of various materials torn away from man-made structures by those hurricane-like winds were haphazardly strewn about the land. So, there was also a considerable amount of time spent removing debris cluttering the earthen-type roads and trails that the carriage needed to travel along that was hindering its path.

Now nearing the 'final leg' of the journey; they're coming upon the Royal Orchard … just one section of the vastly immense area containing acres upon acres of some of Autisia's most nutrient-rich, fertile soil, where dozens of varieties of fruits and vegetables are cultivated and harvested for those within the castle's domain, the abutting town, and surrounding serf villages.

The Royal Orchard's acreage is densely laden with expansive groves of apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum, and fig trees; huge patches of strawberries, watermelon, pumpkin, and other various squashes; and hundreds of bushes of blueberries, blackberries, mulberries, and raspberries. And … just like the other sections of the castle's agricultural domain … the Royal Orchard is inhabited by several serf families who tend to the land for the royal family, in lieu of having to pay for rent and tithe.

As it so happens, a member of one of these serf families is Lady Katherine's best friend in Autisia; a nine-year-old peasant girl named Liza … Elizabeth's alter-persona in Katie's medieval-like, magical world.

Lady Katherine has the coachman pull the carriage up in front of an old, weather-beaten, quasi-dilapidated structure that's slightly bigger than the other hovels in this serf village. She gets out of the carriage holding the gift that she has brought for her Autisian best friend; wrapped up in a large piece of gazzatum … some of the finest imported silk material, which is only made available for those of nobility or high up in the caste system … making this package actually two gifts.

Sitting a few yards away, directly across from the hovel, there are several large bushels of recently picked peaches. The reserved forces members escorting Lady Katherine start to head over to help themselves to some of the fresh, fragrantly sweet aromatic fruit; when they hear the young lady call out...

“Liza … it's me; Lady Katherine … are you in there? Come on out; I have something for you.”

Within seconds, the young peasant girl exuberantly rushes out to greet the young lady; and the two friends joyously wrap their arms around each other. One of the escorts happens to look back when he hears the giddy merriment, and instantly recognizes Lady Katherine's friend; then quickly whispers into the party's leader's ear … who then gestures for the others to refrain from taking any of the fruit, yet. He calls out to Liza...

“Pardon me, little peasant girl.”

The two friends release their embrace; and Liza turns to the leader of the escort party...

“Yes, sir; how can I help you?”

“Seeing how the two of you are familiar with one another; then surely you must know that it has been a long journey between Lady Katherine's home and here. It's been a while since the last time we had eaten; and we were wondering if it would be alright to eat some of those peaches to quell our hunger and replenish ourselves.”

“Of course, sir; please help yourselves to as much as you'd like.” Then she graciously offers, “I can draw some water from the well out back, too, if you need. And we don't have much left; but we also have a few loaves of bread inside. Sorry, it may be a little on the stale side; but it's still edible.”

“The peaches are just fine; and, we have water. Thank you for your hospitality, little peasant girl.”

He gestures for his men to go on and take the fruit … which they all eagerly start indulging in. … But why did they suddenly stop from helping themselves before, like they were originally planning on...

Once the reserved forces soldier saw Liza, he recognized her as being the niece of Cassius; whom both he and his pal, and comrade-in-arms, Ezra, are guild-less adventurers infamously known for being a bit brash and often eager to mix-it-up … and are usually seen as being either riffraff or scoundrels. But still, they're found to be somewhat affable by those close to them; and don't get on their bad side … because getting on their bad side can be quite troublesome; since they're a rather tough and rugged duo.

The last thing they wanted was to have Liza tell her uncle that they had greedily took the peaches that her mother and she had worked so hard to help harvest, without asking for permission. If the reputation that precedes the two 'ruffians' were true; surely it wouldn't be long before Cassius and Ezra would be hunting them down for some 'payback with interest'. Word had it that those two had no qualms about fighting anyone who dared cross them or their friends and family … and they were known for even being in a tussle, or two, with members of the queen's elite Royal Guard.

Liza turns back to Lady Katherine, and now with the initial excitement of seeing her Wiel Shire friend … whom she hasn't seen for a while … starting to subside; she takes notice of what the young lady's wearing. Lady Katherine is usually attired in elegant cendal or samite gowns, often adorned with exquisite dagges; with her soft and silky, shoulder-length, chestnut brown hair neatly bundled and secured within a stunningly fancy dorelet. But today … for some strangely bizarre reason … she's wearing a worn out, tattered, plainly simple fustian gite; covered by an equally worn out, tattered, plainly simple sequanie … with her hair now flowing freely; and even looking a bit disheveled.

This is the very first time ever that Liza has seen Lady Katherine so shabbily dressed … in fact; this is also the very first time ever where the little peasant girl may actually be better dressed than the young lady. Liza is left momentarily speechless, with a quizzically dumbfounded expression etched upon her countenance.

But shortly, the flabbergasted Liza inquires...

“Lady Katherine … your clothes? What happened … why are you dressed like that?”

Lady Katherine … who had forgotten what she was wearing … glances down at her atypical wardrobe; then looks back up at Liza, and impishly grins while jocosely quipping...

“Why … what's wrong with what I'm wearing? Doesn't it suit me … or does it make me look that bad?”

With her bewilderment suddenly taken over by the young lady's playful lightheartedness, Liza smiles...

“No, Lady Katherine … nothing can ever make you look bad. Without a doubt you would surely look good in whatever you wear … your outfit today proves that. … But honestly; no, it doesn't really suit a person of your stature.”

Her impish grin quickly contorts into a huge smile as she titters, “Thanks. … But I don't know...”

Lady Katherine twirls about a couple of times; then tells Liza...

“I kinda of like this outfit. Sure, the clothes that I normally wear are pretty and all … but they are kind of tight-fitting and snug.” She twirls about a couple of more times. “This is way less restrictive than my other gowns; so, I can move about more freely. … It's really quite surprisingly comfortable. Maybe I should wear these types of clothes more often. What do you think?”

With a smile still on her face, Liza replies...

“Well, if you do; I think everyone will want to wear them … then my wardrobe will be considered to be one of a more fashionable style.”

Both girls laugh; and Lady Katherine says...

“You think?”

Liza nods. “Mmm-hmm.” Then she asks...

“But in all seriousness, Lady Katherine; why are you all of a sudden dressed like that?”

Lady Katherine shrugs her shoulders...

“Don't ask me … this is what my parents wanted me to wear on the way here. And they said I needed to ride in this carriage instead of the coach we usually travel in. … Honestly, Liza … my parents have been acting kinda weird, ever since after that storm we had the other day.”

“I heard about that … they said it was a fierce storm; and that you were caught out in it.” Liza tenderly takes hold of Lady Katherine's hands. “Are you alright? You weren't hurt; were you?”

Lady Katherine gently squeezes Liza's hands; and reassures her clearly concerned friend...

“No, I wasn't hurt; and I'm fine, thanks.”

The two tenderly gaze into one another's eyes and smile; then deliver a simultaneous nod. With a subtle sigh of relief, Liza says...

“That's good.”

Then Lady Katherine confesses...

“But I have to admit; I did come close to being struck by lightning a few times … and was shocked a bit from a near-miss strike. So not gonna lie; it was kinda of scary.”

“I bet it was. Really, even after hearing about it; I couldn't even imagine what it must have been like … I've never heard of such a storm like that, in my life.”

“Me neither.” Lady Katherine pauses briefly; then changes the subject, “Anyway; enough about that...”

Lady Katherine retrieves the gift that she's brought … which she set aside earlier on a large tree stump in front of the hovel that's used as a chopping block for cutting firewood … and gives it to Liza...

“This is for you.”

Liza instantly appears to be in awe while staring down at the luxuriously wrapped package, with a partially agape mouth displayed on her visage. She begins to slowly glide her fingers across the delicately smooth silky surface of the fine material, and smiles. She takes a moment from admiring her gift to look to Lady Katherine...

“This material … it wouldn't happen to be gazzatum; is it?”

Lady Katherine affirmatively nods. “Mmm-hmm.”

“Wow...” Liza looks back down at it and rubs her fingers over it in a caressing manner. “It really does feel as soft and smooth as they claim it to be. This is so amazing … thank you, Lady Katherine.”

Another impish grin emerges on Lady Katherine's face, as she replies...

“Well, I'm pleased to see how much you like it … but that's only the wrapping. I hope you like what's wrapped inside it.”

Liza looks back to Lady Katherine, and shoots her over a huge, appreciative smile...

“I'm sure I'm gonna love it.”

She carefully unties the lavender color, velvet ribbon fastening the exquisite silk around the main gift; a set of two, leather-bound books … copies of Homer's “The Illiad” and “The Odessey”. Lady Katherine knows that Liza is an avid reader; but because of her station in life, has a difficult time getting her hands on books to read.

That look of awe instantly returns upon her face. Liza now finds herself a little torn; not sure which of the amazing gifts she loves more … the elusive fine silk, or the equally elusive books. Her already huge smile becomes even bigger … and beaming.

Liza exuberantly throws her arms around Lady Katherine and lovingly embraces her...

“Thank you so much, Lady Katherine … I love them. I really don't know what else I can say but that I love them. … You treat me so well. I only wish I was able to offer you such wonderful gifts.”

Lady Katherine wraps her arms around Liza and reciprocates with an equally loving embrace...

“It's fine; I'm just happy to hear that you love them. I really wasn't looking for anything in return … But, if that's how you really feel...” Another impish grin emerges. “I guess I could just scoff down a whole bunch of those scrumptious looking peaches over there.”

Liza laughs, as she tightens her loving embrace on Lady Katherine...

“Sure; go on … eat as much as you want.”

Lady Katherine tightens her loving embrace on Liza...

“Thanks … don't mind if I do.”

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