So…most of this is a first draft…but the end is not. So most of it is poorly written. I apologize. I’m not going back and editing it, so deal. I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS PART! It marks a turning point. I think this would be the end of the first chapter or part or whatever. So I’m excited. I’m sorry for the length, but I really wanted to finish it up. As always, PLEASE WRITE FEEDBACK! YES, SCOTT THAT MEANS YOU!!!
For two days Karstrel tried to leave the house and found it impossible to do so. The first time she merely walked out and within three feet of the door found herself flat on her back. She tried again and ran straight into an invisible wall. She continued to run straight into the wall for a better part of the day before turning indoors. The next morning she was up and she tried again, this time using more ingenious methods. She went around back to the garden and tried to scale the wall but fell, inexplicably, every time. She tried cutting at the wall in the front and even tried reasoning with the house, which seemed to like her less and less each passing day. It was in this state that Korle found her on the second day. Up till then, she hadn’t found the noble’s actions too interesting. However, she noticed that Kars had yet to eat anything since the brothers’ departure and she went to see if she wanted to partake in the small dinner Korle had cooked. Karstrel was in the foyer yelling at the house.
“I AM A NOBLE! As such I DESERVE respect! TAKE IT DOWN!” Her voice sounded raw, as if she had been screaming for some time.
Korle approached hesitantly. “Karstrel?”
“WHAT?” Karstrel turned, breathing heavily and turned red when she saw Korle. “Oh, it is you.”
“Um…yeah. Who did you think it was?”
“This house has been playing tricks on me since I arrived here.” The bitterness in her tone may have been directed at the house, but Korle felt its full impact.
“I was just going to ask if you wanted to eat something, but if you’d rather yell at the house I completely understand.” She turned back to the kitchen.
“What is it?”
An hour later the two girls had finished the meal and in a surprising act of graciousness, Karstrel offered to clean up. Korle decided to spend some time reading in her room. The books they had in this house were glorious and she was currently reading a tale written 200 years before her time. She was sitting in her room in a comfy chair when she felt the explosion. The whole house shook. She jumped up and ran downstairs into the kitchen, where she suspected the commotion had originated. Once again, she found Karstrel in the middle of a fight with the house, only this time she was the one being “yelled” at. The sink was overflowing with water and soap. Water was spraying everywhere and the food that had remained on the dishes had somehow made their way onto Karstrel’s clothing.
“Stop!” Tears were streaming down her face as she cried, “Stop, please!”
“Stop!” Korle commanded. “Can’t you see that she’s upset enough?” And there was calm. She turned to the distraught Karstrel who was standing, covered in leftover food, water and soap. “You shouldn’t make the house angry because this,” she flung her arm out to the mess, “is what happens!”
Karstrel glared at her, the silver eyes pinning Korle to the spot. “You do not give me orders. I know what I am doing. It is the one who should not make me angry.” With those words she stormed out, as noble as any queen.
Korle sighed. “Try and be nice?” she asked of the house. “I doubt she’ll change much.” She looked around. “And I’m not cleaning up this mess. You made it, you right it.” She too left the kitchen. The instant she left, it was clean.
She went up the stairs and down the hall that she knew lead to Karstrel’s room. She heard the sobbing on the other side of the door.
“Karstrel?” She called. Instantly the crying stopped.
“What do you want?” Resentment flowed from her crackling voice.
“Can I come in?”
There was a moment of silence and Korle was sure that Kars wasn’t going to open the door. She was about to turn away when the door creaked open a sliver.
“Why?” Kars rasped.
“Are you all right?”
“No, there is no bath in my room!” Kars exclaimed.
Korle almost laughed, but coughed it back. “Come with me.” She opened the door fully and grabbed Karstrel’s arm. Kars vaguely protested, but didn’t resist much. Korle brought her into the yellow room. Kars’s mouth dropped open in shock.
“This is your room?” she whispered.
“The house likes me.” She dragged her into the lovely bathing room set up on the far side of the room. “Everything you need should be here, and if something happens just call me, I’ll be here in a jiff.” Korle briskly returned to the library and picked up the book she had been reading.
She glanced around at the walls and sternly said, “Be nice. Keep the water hot. She isn’t used to this way of life.” And then continued reading.
The next morning Korle found Karstrel in the kitchen looking bewildered.
“Want some help?”
Korle shrugged and took out some pots and pans. She grabbed some things from a cupboard and began to assemble breakfast. Karstrel watched for a few minutes and then sighed.
Korle looked up in mild surprise. “What?”
“Teach me to cook.”
Resentment built up in Korle. “You could try asking.”
“I need to learn how to cook.”
Korle snorted. “So learn.”
“Come on, Korle. I need the help.” Karstrel whined.
“That may have worked back home, but in my world people ask when they want something.”
Karstrel looked a little bit shocked, and so did Korle. She glanced down, bewildered by the sassy response that she had issued. She never questioned the authority of others, especially not nobles. She looked up at Karstrel cautiously. Kars was also looking at the floor. Korle took a deep breath, about to apologize for being so harsh.
“Iamsorry.” The words hurled themselves out. Korle looked surprisingly at Kars from whose mouth they had come. Kars looked up. “You are right. I…I can be difficult.Would-” she stopped and took a deep breath. “Would you…please, teach me to cook.”
It was so pathetic. Kars looked better than she had in the past, due to the bath she had finally had. However, her hair was a bit of a mess, there were huge dark circles under her eyes, her skin was dry and flaky, and her overall appearance seemed disheveled.
Korle sighed and heard herself say, “Fine.”
That one little word led her to a world of trouble. Over the next few days the two girls spent large quantities of time together. More often than not Korle would get insanely frustrated and walk out, only to come back in a little later and try again. It was on one such day that the brothers returned.
“I do not understand why it has to be that spice. Why not paprika?”
“Because that’s what the recipe calls for.”
“Well, I think we should use this.” Karstrel was holding a small bag of paprika in her hand. Both girls were standing over a large pot of boiling stew.
“That’s too hot. It would ruin the flavor of the stew.”
“How do you know?”
Korle clenched her fists and took some deep cleansing breaths. “Because, that’s the way it is.”
“Well it should not be.”
This was why Korle was frustrated. Kars would insist that things should be different just for her. She would do what she wanted, regardless of the recipe or the rules and ruin perfectly good dishes, requiring that they spend even more time in the kitchen. Usually after Korle left in a huff, Kars would start over and make it the way it was meant to be made.
“You do this every time!” Korle exploded. “Sometimes there are concrete rules that you have to follow and this is one of them! Put in the basil.” She pointed sternly at the pot and her eyes threatened consequences if Karstrel didn’t obey. Karstrel held back laughter and put in the basil.
“I still think that it would taste better with paprika.” She mumbled.
“Something smells good.” The soft voice came from the doorway.
Both girls turned and saw Peebs leaning casually against the doorway. He was covered in dust from head to toe.
“You’re getting the kitchen dirty.” Korle said stupidly.
“When did you arrive?” Karstrel inquired.
“Just now.” Peebs took a step out of the kitchen. “Ami will be here in a moment.”
The loud sound of bubbling and hissing brought both girls back to reality and they hurriedly turned back to the pot on the stove. Taking the stew off the stove, Karstrel breathed in the wonderful smell that she had created.
She leaned over to Korle and whispered, “It really does smell divine.”
Korle smiled and stirred it a bit.
Amikol came in, looking a little haggard, but not half as bad as his brother.
“We’re going to rest for the remainder of the day and then we are ALL leaving tomorrow at dawn.”
The girls exchanged a look, startled.
“The house will pack for you, so don’t worry about that. Just rest and prepare for tomorrow.” Ami continued.
“Did you find the stone?”
“No,” Peebs responded glancing at Ami, “but we did find that the house has been discovered. Someone’s been watching us.”
“What?” Kars backed up into the stove.
“Well, doesn’t the house have protection or something?”
“Yes, I am certain you can a erect a magical wall around the area. It is not like you have a lack of experience.” Kars sent her steely glare toward Ami. He decidedly ignored her.
“Yes, but it will be better if we go, we don’t want to abuse the house’s hospitality.” Ami replied. “We’re only here temporarily.” He turned. “Get some sleep tonight.”
“Do you want some stew?” Korle called to his retreating form. He kept going with no response.
“Do you want some?” Kars asked Peebs.
He smiled. “I’ll get the kitchen dirty.”
Korle spared a withering glance and told him to eat.
Dawn arrived too quickly for everyone. The girls had not gotten a lot of sleep, anxiety about the coming journey ate at them both. Karstrel had managed to reacquire her noble, disgusting attitude and felt a little self-righteous about the whole affair. Korle wondered at Amikol’s strange attitude the night before and Peebles sudden talkative one. She had gotten about five hours of rest. Not a promising start to a day on the road. She jumped out of bed and put on the gown that had appeared on her side table. Slowly, quietly she crept out of the room. There was no one in the hallway. She walked down the stairs and nearly screamed at the sight of Peebles.
He turned when he heard her squeak, bearing a questioning look.
“You scared me.” She whispered.
“Sorry.” He whispered back.
Korle glanced around the foyer and saw that Karstrel was already awake.
“When did you wake up?” she asked quietly.
“About an hour ago.” Kars responded. “I was agitated and could not go back to sleep.” Her nose went into the air and she pointed to a canvas sack on the floor. “That one is yours, I believe.” There was a yellow ribbon tied to the strap.
Korle went over and lifted it, surprised at how light it was. She pulled open the draw strap and peeked inside. There was a dagger, a canteen full of water, a small pouch with bread in it, and a chain. She pulled it out and examined it for a moment before putting it back into her bag.
“What did you get?” Karstrel was looking at her closely.
“Just some food, a knife, and a chain.” She closed the bag and set it down as Amikol came down.
“Okay,” he sighed, “we need to go quietly. Peebles and I were followed back here, and the house is being watched periodically, we think by two different people, but there are gaps, which gives us time to get out of here. When we leave there will be no talking, at all.” He looked directly at Karstrel.
“What?” she tried an innocent look.
“Not one word.”
“Fine!” she huffed, angry at being so singled out.
“Alright, does everyone have the packs?”
Korle grabbed hers and both girls slung them on their backs. Peebles lounged against the wall near the door.
“Don’t you have anything?” Korle asked.
“Don’t need anything.” He smiled slightly.
“Peebs will be a guard of sorts.” As Ami said this Peebs shifted into his panther form. Karstrel shuddered.
“That is so strange.” She whispered.
“Let’s go.” Amikol opened the door and stepped outside with Kars right behind him. Korle looked back, up at the picture of her parents.
“I don’t know how you got this picture or how you knew, but…will you keep it for me?” she felt strange requesting such a thing, but she heard the whole house creak in response and she knew it would honor her request.
She smiled. “Thank you.” She felt something nudge her and looked down to see Peebs butting her. She sighed.
Slowly she turned away from her past and walked out to her future.