One evening, as I was sitting at the bar in the inn, Daven gave me my usual glass of rum. He told me bawdy stories about some of the women he had seen in here and some of the oddest patrons he had. Several regulars had been pointed out and their story set before me by Daven. He became my friend, each evening, I would sit at the counter and talk with him. Between my pickpocketing and doing small errands for Daven, I was racking up quite a bit in savings. Soon I would have enough that I could stop pickpocketing and just work for Daven. That evening Daven asked me to take a small box down to one of his clients. I never asked what was in the boxes he gave me, or any questions. Daven paid me for my discretion and services.
My red hair was now at shoulder length, sometimes being a girl actually came in handy. However, tonight I would tuck my hair under my cap before I set out. As I did so, Daven explained where I would be going, and who I was going to be looking for. He told me a certain pass-phrase that I needed to ask for to make sure I had the right person. I threw back the rest of my rum and set off. When I stepped outside, the sun was low behind the building. A set of Patrollers were coming up the street with a man who looked as if he had dung under his nose.
“That is him!” The man exclaimed. “I’m certain. He’s the one that been causing trouble all over the city. I’d recognize those rags anywhere.”
“You there,” one of the knights shouted as he ad his partner moved faster down the street. “Stop, we have some questions for you.”
I could have stopped and waited for them to question me. I could have lied and told them no, but they would know I was lying. I had a suspicious package on me that would surely draw unwanted attention and not to mention, I was a girl disguised as a boy.
“Dammit,” I muttered. I took off down the alley way not stopping even though the guards had shouted for me to halt. I had enough dealings with the Knights of Stonebridge. I wasn’t about to be taken into custody again. The knights chased me down the alleys but I proved to be faster, weaving my way through small spaces.
“Stop!” One of them cried behind me.
There was no way I was going to do as they asked. In attempts to slow them down, I threw the box in my hands at them. Whatever was inside had burst, sending up a white powdery cloud. Behind me I heard coughing and sputtering. It had been enough to slow one down, but other guard kept pace. I turned down another street and saw a huge wall in front of me. Without thinking about it, I threw myself at the wall, climbing over it quickly. Landing with ease on the other side, I heard the Patrollers stop with a swear.
“Dammit, she got away,” One of them said. “Should we go after her?”
“No, I can’t stand the cemetery,” The other said, breathlessly. My guess was that he was the guard I thrown the box at, and he’d just caught up with his partner. “Either the grave hoppers will get her, or the Consolers. No way I’m going to step on a Consoler’s turf.”
Panting heavily, I leaned against the wall for a moment, listening to them. For a moment I wasn’t sure if I believed what they were say. It didn’t matter to me right then, I was away from them and that was enough for me. I remembered the Consolers from when my grandfather had died. They were quite dourer. Focusing only on my mother and grandmother, making sure the needs of the family were taken care of, and that arrangements for the burial and purification of the body were successful. I didn’t like them in the slightest. They gave off the feeling of death breathing down your neck.
Once I caught my breath, I started walking through the dark cemetery. Gravestone and plaques covered the grounds. Along the back were some mausoleums. There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness that emanated from the cemetery grounds. The moon casted odd shadows off the ground, things didn’t seem normal. In the distance, an owl called out “Who, Who?” Several feet later, I jumped out of my skin and screeched as an animal brushed against my leg. Take off further into the cemetery, panic set in when I couldn’t find my way out. The lighting played tricks on my eyes as I ran, and then I hit something hard.
“Oof,” I said, gasping for breath. As I fell backwards, there was a blinding white light that casted spots in front of my eyes. A rushing sound filled my ears, and the wind was knocked from me as I hit the ground.
“Oh, dear,” A sweet voice rang out. The next moment, I felt a hand tug mine and soon I was upright again.
Blinking a few times I tried to focus on the person in front of me. She wore a black and gold tunic. A Consoler. Only she didn’t seem to sound like the Consolers I had been familiar with. “What ever that was, I don’t think it worked.” I told her trying to rub the spots from my eyes.
The woman lowered her hood, her pale, milky skin glowed against the moonlight. Black hair framed her wide almond shaped eyes, a small button nose and bright, vivid pink lips. It was her lips that baffled me the most. Consolers that I had seen didn’t where make-up, but this one did. She also held herself proud and tall. Her smile was cheerful.
“What in the bloody hell was that anyway?” I asked forcefully.
“I am terribly sorry, dear. It’s not every day something or someone alive, besides a consoler, is in a cemetery at night.” she giggled. “You startled me.”
“I’m sorry, I just felt something brush against my leg and I panicked,” I explained. “So I ran.”
“Completely understandable dear,” she said. “That spell only works on the restless. I use it to make sure they remain in their graves. Sometimes, not often mind you, they will get out of the grave. Unfinished business, you see. So that spell helps them to cross over.”
“Uh-huh,” I said with a nod, confusion sparking in my mind. “So on a normal person, it knocked them on their backsides and blinds them.”
“It would seem so,” she said with a laugh that reminded me of a tinkling bell. “I’ve never used it on the living before.”
I studied the woman before me for a moment. She struck me as an oddity. The very idea of her being a consoler astounded me. I didn’t know much about the Consolers. Only what I had seen growing up. They weren’t an every day occurrence in Meadow Brook.
“I’m Lyssa,” I told her, extending my hand to shake hers.
“Oh do forgive my manners,” she said taking my hand. “I am Rerilmawren Wennemein. But, if you wish for something easier, just call me Ril.”
“Wennemein?” I asked. “Do you by chance know Sywyn Wennemein?”
“Sywyn, oh yes I know him,” Ril said. “He’s my cousin. Do you know him?”
My mind reeled a bit, how was it I had managed to find someone related to Sywyn by pure chance.
“Yes, I know him,” I told her. “He helped me out of a bit of trouble back in Tel’thurian.”
“Oh, splendid!” she exclaimed. “Do come and sit with me, you can tell me all about it.”
Ril moved to a carved stone bench, I followed behind her trying to figure the odd woman out. While we sat on the bench, she opened a small satchel and placed a small cloth on the level surface. Ril then pulled out a small box which she opened to reveal an assortment of foods, and a metal bottle that fit neatly into the box.
As Ril dug through her satchel, I examined the contents of the box. There was a small loaf of bread, a bit of salted meat and fruits. My finger lightly grazed along the metal bottle to find it warm still. On the lid of the box were two small plates, and metal cutlery. Curiously, I pulled out a three pronged implement and studied it a moment.
“It’s called a fork,” Ril explained as she began to use a knife to cut the bread. “They make eating easier, and spell casting simpler when I don’t have to wash my fingers first.”
“That’s useful,” I replied. We both fell into an awkward silence as Ril prepared her food.
“Do you like stew?” she asked me after a moment. “I have some here in this container.”
“You don’t have to give me anything,” I told her, looking out over the graveyard. Truth was I was starving, but I didn’t want her to give me charity just because I ran into her in a cemetery. “I’m not that hungry.”
My stomach couldn’t have chosen a better time to betray me. It groaned audibly. Ril only laughed as she pull the center of the bread chunks out.
“I think your stomach says otherwise,” she said laughing. “I have more than enough to share, and maybe you can help in exchange.”
“How?” I asked, my head snapping back to the woman. “How would you expect me to pay you back? I’m broke, I have nothing to give you in exchange. I’m running from the damn Patrollers because of the fact that I nick things and came damn close to getting caught. That’s the whole reason I am here. I was trying to get away from being tossed in a cell.”
Ril stared at me, waiting for my rant to finish. She said nothing, she didn’t even have a judging look on her face. Her calmness about it startled me. Here was Ril, a consoler, which was just another sect of knights and here I am confessing to her of a crime I committed. Yet, she doesn’t get angry and try to drag me to a holding cell. She just sat there, patiently waiting for me to finish.
“Your cousin,” I continued. “He chased me down on horse back, because of something my brother was apart of. He treated me better than most people treat their dogs. I fled Tel’thurian because of my brother’s need to get away from those knights, and here I find myself in the biggest city I’ve ever been in surrounded by knights. Every where I go, you people are there!”
By this time I was crying, though I didn’t realize it. Ril set down the food in her hands, and pulled me into her arms. She let me cry on her for a few moments, stroking my hair every so often and telling me everything would be okay. I sat back after a few moments, wiping my eyes, once again I looked at the woman before me.
“I’m sorry, I just…” I said with a hiccup. “I didn’t mean to break down like that.”
“It’s perfectly all right dear,” she said, going back to the food. “Everyone needs good cry once in a while. Sometimes life becomes too much and we have no way to get it out except through tears. We aren’t gods, just merely people who bear the burdens of daily life.”
Ril smiled warmly as she poured some stew into the bread bowls that she created. Handing one to me I look down at it, sobs still shook me, not nearly as bad as moments before. I took a forkful of the savory stew, the warmth of it filled me. The flavor of the vegetables and the broth splashed against my tongue. It had been so long since I had something so deliciously wonderful.
“The One will never place anything upon us that we cannot handling,” she said after taking a bit of her own food. “But we do often need help in solving problems, so The One sends us in the direction of someone who can help.”
I listened to her as I ravenously ate the stew. The consoler before me still seemed out-of-place, but I didn’t say anything.
“The Order of the Consolers was created to help those in grieving. When a loved one is lost, they leave sadness unintentionally in their wake. We Consolers are able to help those families with their pain. We help in funeral preparations, and seeing to the basic needs of the family. There are times when the family needs more of a medical intervention, and we make sure they receive any help and services that we cannot provide ourselves. Consolers make sure that the body of the deceased stays that way. Taking care of the purification and burial of the body and making sure that the body stays in the grave after the burial.” Ril explained.
As she explained this all to me, I devoured the rest of my food, consuming the bread bowl as well. Ril had finished eating her food as well. We sat in silence for a few moments. Around us the crickets chirped, a light breeze blew through the trees, rustling the leaves. The air was growing more crisp with each passing minute.
“Lyssa, I want to help you,” she said. “I have it in my power to help you. If only you let me though.”
“Why?”I asked. “Why would you want to help me?”
“There is so much good that I know you have in you,” Ril told me. “I want you to be able to see that, and you won’t be able to if you are sitting in a prison cell.”
Ril didn’t make it sound like an ultimatum, but it did have the feel of her being my last hope.