Chapter Five

" Is she going to be alright Saree?" a woman's soft voice was close to Aleda, she smelled like cinnamon and other spices, very loving and warm. Moaning Aleda rolled over and opened her eyes. The woman was there along with another who sat close by knitting and humming softly.

"I think so, will you be alright girl?" the woman who smelled of spices gently touched Aleda's forehead and said something about her fever breaking and went into the other tent. The woman who had been kitting took her place.

" Well, well, so we meet finally after I've heard so much about you my dear. You were in bad shape for a while, but Saree fixed you up." The woman chuckled, " I'm sorry you're probably scared and I haven't even introduced myself, I'm Fanny the woman who left was Saree and the man that found you was-"

"I. I know." Aleda was surprised at the way her voice cracked and amazed at how thirsty she was, "water." choughs wracked her body leaving her slightly weaker than before. The woman that called herself Fanny grabbed a glass of water from the table and helped Aleda to drink its contents.

"There sweetie how's that, better?" Aleda nodded and sat up still leaning on the woman for support. "Where is Saree, she's the healer here in-"

"The one that smells like a spice merchants shop?" Fanny nodded and gently squeezed Aleda's shoulders in approval.

"Yup that's her, smells good huh." She grinned, and placed another pillow behind Aleda's back. "There now you can sit up without me for support, and I will find that healer wench. SAREE!" The woman stood and walked to the tent door, turning back she smiled and winked, " welcome to your new home my dear I hope you'll recover from your injuries that were inflicted to your mind and body quickly." She smiled again and left leaving Aleda with a new feeling of security and love.

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"She's here isn't she!" Stella slammed her wine glass onto the table making the base crack. Clyde looked up from his dinner and sighed.

"Maybe, I'm not sure yet. Good news though; I left the progress, I think his demons were to much for him. love you out did yourself with them, truly out did yourself." He reached across the table and lifted her hand to his lips.

" That doesn't help appease me Clyde. Why won't you tell me!" Clyde's sharp blue eyes snapped to her making her cower back. "I'm sorry Clyde, please forgive me. I lost my temper and well you know." his laughter was like a dog's bark. Standing he took his wine glass to the fireplace with him.

"Yes I know what you are." he chucked, " a spoiled brat is what you are Stella." "How DARE you Clyde!" Stella knocked over her chair as she stood and hurled her wine glass at the back of his dark head. The glass shattered before it got to him and Stella found herself on the ground with Clyde standing over her.

"Don't like being called names humm. just to tell you neither does my brother. You nearly cost us everything Stella, everything! He's no fool, couldn't be to have survived for this long, he knows that we're planning- get up and don't cry." Stella scrambled to her feet, wiped her eyes, and sniffed.

" Again I'm sorry I.. I.. don't know what to say to make it up to you Clyde." He smiled and grasped her by the waist.

" You want to make it up to me hummm. well that can be arranged Stella." His last words were soft and part of his exhaled breath. Stella shuttered at the monster she had released without ever trying to. " Before you fix all the problems that you've caused in the last day and a half I'll tell you something-" he leaned forward and whispered into her ear. "She's here." Stella smiled and followed obediently into the bedchamber. Now she would show Clyde that she was capable of breaking will, I was the first try now she had more important people to-

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Fanny had returned this time with the healer Saree in tow. The woman was darker skinned than Aleda had ever seen, most of her village was pale because of the mountains that towered near by. Saree was not like her village's women she was tall with raven black hair, her brown eyes verged on amber and danced with laughter. "Hello." Aleda guessed that the healer didn't speak much, gods knows that Fanny talked enough for both of them. Saree seemed to glide across the room doing everything with grace and dignity where as Fanny kinda waddled, Aleda wasn't sure if she liked the term waddled for her but it fit. Sighing she nestled deeper into the blankets and the mass of pillows behind her head, it felt good to have women around.

"Mistress Fanny have you seen Master I around." A man walked into the tent, he had red hair! Aleda shook her head trying to see if her eyes played tricks on her or not. Yup red, he also and freckles; lots across his nose, he was tall and well dressed. Probably a lord Aleda though, but neither Fanny nor Saree bowed to him, Fanny shook her head and smiled sweetly.

"Sorry Tasadar, I left progress almost three days ago after he found this one." She pointed with her head at Aleda who huddled in the blankets. The red haired man smiled at her but paid no more attention to her.

"Did he say where he was going maybe?" Fanny shook her head no but Saree answered.

" I was going home Tas." She brought over something she had been mixing and handed it to Aleda. " Drink it will help you sleep. The valley Tasadar the only place that is peaceful for him. I beg you leave him be."

Aleda was fading quickly, everything had become fuzzy and the sounds were fading quickly, Saree looked over at her and ushered the red haired man out side along with Fanny, leaving Aleda to sleep.

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"Master I are you alright, I?!" I sat straight up in bed gasping for air and soaked with sweat. Not another dream, I groaned and slid from his covers and went to answer his door.

"Marcus what the hell do you want." I winced at the candle that Marcus held. Its bright light hurt his eyes, making him squint. His butler was short for an ogre, but that worked out for his benefit as well as his.

"Sir there was yelling and I feared it was a night- someone was attacking." Marcus glanced around the room warily but his eyes returned their focus to I. " Are you alright, shall I get you something, a toddy?" I nodded and let the man in.

"I'm fine, it was just the wind Marcus." I glanced in the mirror that hung close by his eyes were dark and haunted, while his face was pale and drawn.

Marcus laughed and busied himself with the contents of his liquor cabinet. " I've lived here for almost two hundred years, my father served you as did his father and his father. I know the sounds and that wasn't any wind, it was you." his violet eyes were troubled as he glanced at his master you now sat on the edge of his desk, head between his hands. " Sir- "

"What?" I sat up straight and took the offered drink, gulping it quickly letting the liquor burn his throat. Looking at his butler he smiled, "Marcus I'm fine it was just a bad dream. stop looking at me like that, I'm fine." Marcus shook his head and tidied up and left leaving I alone, trembling.

"Its getting worse", walking back to the cabinet I poured himself another drink and sat back in his bed. Tonight he really wanted Saaski here to make his dreams go away and to give him more sleep.

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Aleda awoke to the sounds of talking, one was a voice she recognized as Fanny's but the other was new and slightly discomforting to hear. " The girl will fully recover, Fanny my dear that is wonderful, how is she now, my I see her?" Sitting up Aleda looked at the woman; the was taller than fanny with blonde hair that was lank down her back, she was skinny and her blue eyes flashed with something Aleda couldn't recognize. The woman clucked her tongue and sat on the edge of the cot, " you poor dear, I'm so sorry about what happened. Luckily Master I was around-" Fanny made a gagging noise and received a glare from the woman.

"Thank you, Fanny may I have water," She smiled and quickly produced a glass filled with water. The blonde woman immediately took it from her and set to work trying to feed Aleda the water, most of it just ended up on the covers. The woman made no apology and continued to talk, about nothing that was of interest to Fanny or Aleda.

Aleda had just began to fall back to sleep when Saree's voice entered the tent, " What is the meaning of this Stella, my patient is not permitted to have visitors for this long Fanny!" Aleda glanced toward the other woman who had fallen asleep in her rocking chair, now jumped up at Saree's bellow and said so much. " I don't care if it is a trumpet blast, Stella get out and don't come back until the girl is out and about." Aleda hid her smile with the blankets and watched with much pleasure as the woman called Stella stalked out.

Saree turned back into the tent, now she was smiling a huge grin had replaced a scowl. Fanny was smiling too," Thanks if someone didn't shut her up than I'd have to cut off my own ears and maybe hers too." She grinned at Aleda " you weren't listening to that windbag.. Good! Saree we've corrupted her already!" she giggled and poured another glass of water, which Aleda accepted and gulped down quickly.

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Aleda was on her feet at last! Well at least Fanny wasn't supporting her like a baby now, she tittered everywhere she went but she was up. The entire camp had moved almost a dozen times in the last month taking Aleda farther and farther away from her home; not that she was sad, she just missed Artie.

Today was another moving day and in the morning Aleda had helped Fanny and Saree pack what little they had. Fanny had bolts of cloth, yarn, and string. Saree on the other hand had heavy chests, jars and even plain herbs that had to be rapped and placed into the heavy trunks. That had left Aleda exhausted, but she made her way around camp to offer her assistance to anyone else who might need it. No takers, which relieved Aleda, it hadn't been her idea it was Saree, " to get some fresh air but my loin cloth she just wanted to get rid of me!" Aleda sat down out side the camp and just watched the people scurry to finish. She smiled, it was like home always people running around not watching where they are going. Home.

" Well, Well, well. So you must be the stoning girl." A man's deep voice made Aleda jump and fall off the log she had been sitting on. " Sorry about that," the sun was behind him and made him look like the dark man.. Only for a moment. He knelt giving Aleda a good look. He wasn't exactly tall, handsome yes, very much so. And for some reason Aleda felt that he was very dark as well, it scared her a little.

" Its alright I'm always falling down." She managed a tiny smile, and received one in return. Aleda could now feel the exhaustion gnawing at her and wanted to find Fanny. " Well I would guess that it is from not spending enough time in bed young lady, you are still fresh out of the sick bed. You should rest." Aleda felt swamped with exhaustion, realizing it was because of him she stood quickly.

" Maybe your right, I might have over done it today. no thank you I can find m way back." He hadn't even said anything, Aleda was stunned by that but continued to walk away. Turning she ran back down the hill towards Fanny and the others, trying to escape him.

" May your dreams be pleasant, little one!" he called after her, a smile on his face.