From The Last Post
“Pixies,” Yorin spat. “It’s unfortunate that we have such an infestation of them. That was some quick magic there, Rebekka. Weren’t for you, there’d be a mess to clean up.”
“I’m surprised. I actually managed to pull it off,” Rebekka said and began collecting the dishes from where they floated.
“Terrible little monsters,” Swish said helping Rebekka with the task. “Almost as bad as someone I know.” She sent a glance at Tweedy. This time around he saw.
“What are you lookin’ at me like that for?” he asked.
“You know what. If I weren’t your sister I would swear you were just an overgrown pixie.”
“What’s wrong with pixies?” Mason asked. She was just about done with placing her cookie batter on a sheet. “Sure, they’re a bit mischievous, but Jude and I have always known how to live with them.”
“I’m sorry to say, but each one I manage to catch, I get rid of,” Yorin said and with a sharp nod.
“Don’t tell me you kill them!” Mason cried.
“Heavens no!” Matina exclaimed. “I wouldn’t let him even if he dared. But honestly, I don’t think he has the heart for it.”
“Heart has nothing to do with it. It’s all about logic and justice,” Yorin said. “Pixies aren’t a nuisance that needs to be killed. I simply relocate them.”
“Oh, say what you like Yorin. I know you better than that. You have a heart bigger than most… No matter how much you try to hide it.”
“I do not.”
“Are you saying you don’t have a heart? Now Yorin—”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
“What is it that you meant then?”
“Urgh… Such an impossible woman…”
As Matina continued to humor herself with pestering poor Yorin, Rebekka and Swish finished clearing up the floating dishes and returned them to their rightful place.
“And that’s the last one,” Swish said, closing the cupboards.
“Oh, good,” Tweedy said, “now you can come and help me over here.”
“Help yourself. Rebekka and I need to have a talk.”
Rebekka sent a lifted eyebrow her way. Swish pointed a thumb towards the balcony. (Yes, the kitchen actually had a balcony.) Rebekka suddenly understood. She wanted to talk to her about something, but about what…
“Talk about what?” Tweedy asked nosily.
“Some girl stuff. None of your concerns,” Swish replied beginning to push Rebekka towards the balcony’s entrance.
Once outside, Swish seemed to release her tense atmosphere.
“Urgh, I had to get out of there,” she grumbled. “Oh, but sorry for the hurry. It’s just…” she sighed.
“What?” Rebekka asked.
In the lantern light, Rebekka saw her flush slightly. “Finch.”
“Ohhhh… I suspected as much.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“Yes, it’s that obvious. Practically everyone can see it.”
“Really??? I mean… really?”
“Oh, what am I to do!?!” she wailed and flung herself to the balcony’s railing.
“Why don’t you just talk to ‘im?”
“Talk to him? But— I don’t know if he likes me back.”
“Of course, he does!”
Swish perked once more. “What?”
“Can’t you see it?” Rebekka shook her head. “No wonder your brother can poke at the two of you the way he does. I don’t doubt Finch is thinking the same way too. You two should talk.”
“Talk… the one thing I can’t do.”
“It’s easy. Start a conversation about yourself. Don’t even worry about telling ‘im how you feel. Eventually… it just comes out…”
“If only I had the confidence you have. You really seem so sure.”
“I wouldn’t say that… I just know how it happens…” Rebekka fell silent and sighed away the welling thoughts that suddenly were waiting to spill over, knowing they would only cause sorrow.
“What is it?” Swish asked.
“Mm? Oh, nothing. Just a thought… You really should talk to ‘im though. I know it will go well. Finch seems like a very nice young man.”
“He is. Nicer than anyone I’ve known.” And then she sighed wistfully.
Rebekka grinned. “Oh, come on you poor birdie. Let’s get you back inside.” She made a turn for the door, but Swish practically tackled her to a stop.
“No, no, no,” she said. “Don’t do that! I still don’t know what to do! I can’t talk to him! Not in there at least… Especially with my boneheaded brother snooping around…”
“I’ll bring ‘im out here then.” Rebekka began to turn again.
“No, no, no! That’s even worse!”
Rebekka took her by the shoulders. “Swish, you will be fine. It is not the end of the worlds. Dinner is almost done, and I think it will do the both of you some good to talk to one another.”
“No, don’t think about that. Don’t think about any of it.”
“You won’t. There won’t be anyone around and guess what?”
“He’ll be just as nervous as you are.”
Subtle surprise filled Swish’s face and she allowed Rebekka to leave for the door.
“Trust me, it’ll be fine,” Rebekka said before opening the door.
Swish crossed her arms with a faint scowl. “I hope so…”
Rebekka pulled the wooden balcony door open, but then heard, “A-and Rebekka…” She looked back around to Swish. “Thank you.”
She smiled. “You’re welcome.”
In the kitchen…
“Where’s Swish?” Tweedy asked.
“Enjoying the night breeze,” Rebekka replied.
“Ha! My sister enjoying the night? That’s a first.”
Rebekka simply shrugged and walked over to the stoves. Finch was still there and yes; he was still stirring. Rebekka began to think he had been stirring nonstop.
“Ah, Finch,” she said, “you don’t have to stir it constantly, you know.”
“Oh, I don’t?” Finch asked brows perked into his dark brown hair. Behind her, she heard Tweedy snicker.
“No, you don’t… how about I take this over, eh?”
“But what will I do?”
“Keep Swish company perhaps?
“Swish? Why would she want company? I mean, why would she want my company? I mean—”
Rebekka held up a hand for the apron he was wearing. “Just hand over the apron and go talk to her.”
With much blushing and muttered words to himself, Finch reluctantly handed over the apron and nervously, went out unto the balcony.
“Heh, look at that,” Tweedy commented. “That was easy. Would have never guessed you were one to play the matchmaker, Rebekka. I couldn’t have done that one better myself.”
“I don’t play matchmaker,” Rebekka replied and stuck her nose up. “I simply give help when help is needed.”
“Really?” Mason asked handing over a wooden spoon covered in icing to Tweedy, something he gladly took. “Because it looked like you are playing matchmaker to me.”
“You don’t know what you speak of. Yorin, tell them they’re wrong.”
To Rebekka’s surprise, Yorin only shrugged.
“That confirms it,” Tweedy said. “The matchmaker was at work.”
Rebekka turned back to the bubbling pots feeling her cheeks warm.
Dinner was a fantastic, and not to mention delicious, event for the group of eight. In the center of that homey little kitchen, two tables had been pushed together and extra chairs were fetched. On that table was a feast even the richest of the lands would be envious of.
There was Matina’s famous meat stew; the roasted gamefowl —an appetizing, mouthwatering, glossy, golden sight— a salad containing those radishes Yorin worked so hard to prepare; (which hardly anyone touched to Yorin’s complaint); puddings; meat pies; steamed vegetables; rolls, rolls, rolls galore; and many more delectable dishes. Ale was the drink for those who could drink it, meaning Mason and Tweedy were stuck drinking sweet cider. It was a miniature feast!
The entire mealtime was also filled with boisterous laughter, jokes, and storytelling. Yorin sat next to Matina, Mason next to Tweedy, Swish next to Finch (of course), so Rebekka found herself next to Thumble. She didn’t have to worry though. He had wonderful dinner etiquette.
One really didn’t need help guessing who the storytellers were. Mason and Yorin crafted the longest yarns of any that night, that is until Yorin had a bit too much to drink. That’s when he began to craft the longest and wildest tales. This is when Matina decided he had much too much and switched his ale with the kid’s cider. He didn’t seem to notice and if he did, he didn’t care.
Soon dinner was done, and dessert was to be served. However, Rebekka had announced she wanted to take a small break outside on the balcony. Yorin joked that she wasn’t one who could hold her alcohol and perhaps he was right. If truth be told, the ale had a way of working at a person’s mind, loosening buckles, freeing locks, and unfastening bolts.
Rebekka stepped out on the balcony feeling the night’s cool air whip around her. The stars were out, twinkling constellations she didn’t recognize. She doubted they were even real. It was hard to tell what was anymore. As she stared across the night sky, thoughts about the ambush drifted into her mind.
They weren’t real people. Sure, she didn’t kill anyone, but it could have easily been so. Their screams and masks of pain were real, weren’t they? When she had thought they were simply husks filled with magic, puppet men, she had slain them mercilessly. And she had done it so easily and without remorse. She remembered how she felt when she thought they were real. She hated herself for it all. For seeing what her father molded her into. What she had permitted to manifest from her core being.
She didn’t notice, but a few tears had escaped from her and slid down her cheeks. She shut her eyes and viciously turned from sparkling asterisms. She wouldn’t shed tears in this place. It didn’t deserve them. When she opened her eyes and the tears blurring her vision cleared, she saw a sight that made her heart skip a beat.
There, down below in the cobblestone street, was a man with a mop of grey hair. It was an unmistakable shade of bright storm grey. In a flash, Rebekka was leaning over the balcony’s edge for a better look.
It was impossible to tell who this man was. He could’ve been anyone. But what if he was the person she thought he was? What would it mean? At the moment the man was tying his horse to a post and readying to follow someone into a tavern. Rebekka looked for anything she could distinguish him with. Anything at all. But there was nothing she could see, and her time was running out. So, she did the only thing she could and shouted:
The man looked around and up. On his face was a look of confusion and uncertainty. His face. It wasn’t the one Rebekka had been looking for. Oddly, it was close, but he was older, and his features were longer. No, he wasn’t Togian. The stranger’s face brightened, and he waved with a smile. Rebekka just stared. How could she have been so foolish to think…
The tavern’s door opened and the second person the young man was accompanying poked their head out. They too had the same-colored grey hair. The young man looked at them and pointed Rebekka’s way. The second stranger looked up, a man much older, possibly the young man’s father. They looked very similar after all. Realizing the older man was staring at her in a pensive scowl, Rebekka ducked back onto the balcony.
She didn’t know how to feel. For a moment she had felt a small sliver of hope. A selfish sliver, but she had felt it all the same. Now that it was gone, she felt hollow and well… hopeless. The weeks upon weeks of sorrow she had been keeping sealed away was just about to overflow, if it weren’t for the person who opened the balcony’s door.
“Rebekka what is taking you so long out here?”
It was Swish. Rebekka wiped away the new set of tears that had managed to escape and turned to her.
“Oh, I must have gotten carried away while I was out here,” Rebekka replied hoping Swish didn’t hear the small tremors in her voice. “I must have kept all of you waiting, huh?”
“Not all of us. Just Yorin mainly.”
“Let me hurry then. Yorin’s sweet tooth is nothing to trifle about.”
Rebekka entered back into the kitchen, shedding and leaving her secret hopes out on the balcony.
And Here Ends The Adventure Of Book One.
First off, I would like to thank all my readers for stopping by and reading this web novel! The next step now is moving into the editing stage. I have no doubts that the actual book will be much longer (because of the extra changes), and when the final version is released, I promise you will be the first to know! It’s funny to think that it has been a year since I had released the first chapter of this web novel and it’s been a truly awesome experience with every post release since then. So once more I thank you my readers because, without you, I wouldn’t have written this far.
~Alison Bankroft~ 𝒜ℬ