Shield of Spheros Chapter 7 Prose in Zodiak | World Anvil
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Shield of Spheros Chapter 7

The Phodia Festival

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Terence was staring at the wooden ceiling above his head, she was here. She was currently sleeping in one of the bedrooms inside the manor. She got hurt inside the manor, but according to Madam Ward those wounds were looking bad. That was the only extant of it, still he felt bad that she got sucked into this mess. Which was not entirely his fault, if he wanted to blame someone he could place that on Lord Posner and the other two lords. And maybe he even can place blame on the king. But that was something he would figure out in the morning, if the king was behind this all. If he was, that would mean that the king finally lost his mind and that he had a very good excuse to pull Spheros away from the kingdom. To create a little kingdom or something like that, he then didn't have to worry about the crazy high taxes. He could hire as many soldiers as he wanted, but that would also mean that the possibility of war was high. The king, and his cronies, already saw him and Spheros as a threat. If he was going to pull away, that threat became very real. Besides, the title of king was a bit, overwhelming. Yes, he was the mayor, and was already handling a lot of stuff. But if he was going to be a king... He didn't want to think about it now. It could be that the king was not behind this attack at all, it could be that one of the Lords thought that this city was something he himself wanted and Emrys, and he, were in that lord's way. He smiled once again, his brother. He really has become a good sword fighter, by Hiubin's name, Emrys was even better than he himself. Terence knew that Emrys would never believe him when if he told him this. But where he had problems to handle, only one assassin. Emrys was fighting two, yes he got hurt, but like Audery those wounds were minor. Audery... He wanted to repay her for all that she has done for him, she brought light back into his life. In only a couple of months. Something he thought wouldn't be happening ever again, not after Sophia died. Which Emrys, loves to remind him, was not his fault. But he begged to differ. He had gone with her, she maybe would have survived the goblin raid. Sophia, her sweet reddish brown hair was weaving in the wind, the last time he saw her.   "Do you love me?" that was what she asked him, before she left for her trip towards the capital. And now that he thought about it, his replay was still the same as it was back then.   "No, I do not love you. But I can learn how to love you," but that was not enough for her, and he was able to see that now. Audery entered his mind, which made him smile right before he fell asleep.   ******   Well the last few days crawled by, the interrogation of those two royal pains in the butt didn't tell much, other than that the king had nothing to do with this whole attack. So it was simply a power grab, one of the lords, and the both of them pointed towards Lord Tretheway. Of course, he is dead, and can't defend himself. Still, Audery felt obligated to send the king, and lord Tretheway's family, a letter with details of the attack and the events that followed. She knew that it wouldn't help much, so she added the neckless with the mark of Hiubin's Angels to the king's letter. But that was over a week ago, and there was no word said about the attack. So Audery went about her day as normal, there were jobs for her, and according to Madam Ward that was because she was not part of a group. A group larger than two people, that is. Madam Ward was well aware that she had agreed to babysit Emrys, but that was apparently not enough. She walked down the stairs, her short sword in its scabbard.   "Oh, Hiubin to the no! Audery you are not going to train to day!" Madam Ward worked her way past the counter. Audery was surprised, normally she would cheer to see Audery work out, keeping her routine and such. Audery wanted to ask why, but Madam Ward beat her to it with the answer. "Today is the Phodia Festival." Phodia was the Goddess of the Wind, Air, Love and Spring. It is wildly believed that the Goddess was born somewhere in the Faded Forest, or even on the grounds this city was build on. Phodia was one of the lesser Gods, where the most of the kingdom only worship Hiubin, The God of Death not that anyone wanted to die, but everyone in the end will end up in Hiubin's kingdom, which is also called Hiubin, just to keep things simple. But Audery never knew that there was an inter festival surrounding Phodia. Madam Ward probably noticed the confusion. "Oh, in Hiubin's name. I forgot that you arrived not that long ago, and of course you wouldn't know about the festival. Silly me, I am so used to seeing you every day, but that is no excuse. The festival is celebrated every year around this time. There is food, music, dancing, merchants are selling their merch. All the women are wearing special dresses in a pastel colour, we wear a lavender piece of cloth around our waist. Maidens or women that are not married are wearing a wraith, with lavender and other flowers." It indeed sounded like fun. Not that she had a dress to wear, or a wraith, and she didn't have the money to buy it. She needed that money to pay rent, buy arrows or other clothes. Which were not dresses, clothes she could work in and such. "You know what, I will lend you the traditional outfit. For some reason or another I have collected some items, and now I am left with double, or maybe even triple the amount that I can wear." Audery narrowed her eyes, Madam Ward had said the same thing about the clothes she currently wore. She suspected that a curation lord is behind this all, if not him, then his brother. But she will not complain to Madam Ward, who has helped her this far. She will take it up with the two brothers, if she saw them today, and she had no doubt that this would happen. Madam Ward walked towards her own room, which was through the door behind the corner. Which came out at first into an office, with a desk and chair, bookcases filled to the brim with books. Audery had seen what was in those books, numbers. A lot of numbers instead of words, which Madam Ward uses to keep track of money. But there was another door that led to Madam Ward's own room and utility closet where the Guild Master stored the weapons, clothing, food and so forth. Madam Ward came out of the utility closet, which was a whole other room. With a light blue dress and a lavender coloured piece of cloth. "I do not have a wraith, because those are made from fresh flowers. But they are often sold at the festival for 1 or 2 copper pieces," Audery the two items to her room and changed. She might not being here that long, and she didn't know what this festival had to offer her. But what she did know was that festivals, like this, would bring in a lot of people. Merchants, travelling bards, other travellers. And of course there were the locals. All of them could be potential clients, and it wouldn't hurt to put a face by the name. Networking, that was something she could do, and didn't need a group larger than two members to do that.   *******   The whole city was decorated, garlands made out of lavender were hanging between the buildings. All the shops had painted posters with the depiction of Phodia, the woman in black white and gray, with a large scythe and fan. She would use the fan for the warm summer breeze, and the scythe for the cutting winter storm. She was always wearing a dress with a piece of cloth around the waist and a wraith made out of lavender on her head. Audery passed several women, wearing the same type of dress as she did. And she spotted a few wearing a wraith, the maidens and the unmarried women. For a man on the hunt for a wife, those would be easy to find. Well, Phodia was not only the Goddess of Spring, wind and air. Audery reminded herself that she was also the Goddess of love, so finding your perfect match between the unmarried women was maybe a side purpose of this festival. Maybe she would leave the wraith tradition for what it was, something to be ignored. The last thing she wanted was some drunken fool, hitting on her. Because of that thing. She has visited the local shopping street quite often since she came to live here. Not to buy stuff, she didn't have any money to spent frugally. Only this time she was met with the welcoming sound of a lute, there was no voice that accompanied the instrument at this point. She took a few steps towards the sound, and was then caressed by the smell of baked goods. The smell of the various spices and sugar, made her hungry, even though she had eaten breakfast. It made her walk a bit quicker and was met by a whole street filled with people, little stalls on either side of the thick road. Selling Phodia knows what, the bard with the lute was at the beginning of it all. The man was not alone, there was a flute player and a woman with a small harp. But they were not playing, at least not yet. They will join later during the song or in another number. She smiled at them, they were also Adventurers, they could wield a special type of magic through their music. And they could play at festivals, markets, taverns for some extra pay. The flute player looked at her, gave her a smile and then said something to the lute player who nodded. He broke away and walked towards her. She blinked with her eyes, o by Phodia, it seems only fitting to use her name on her special day. She knew that man, they had travelled together when she first started out.   "Tom, Tom Huckle is that you bastard of Zemjir," god of winter, music, messages and the hunt. "It is you, oh by Phodia what have you grown." She said, Tom was always a skinny looking man. Was, that was the right term for it. He was now bulky, his black hair had grown until his shoulders and his hazel eyes sparkled.   "Audery, Audery. You finally ditched that death weight, I see, or is he still lurking around." Tom said, he was talking about Anthony. Tom never made it a secret that he didn't like Anthony one bit.   "He rather ditched me," she replied. He looked confused.   "I am sorry, but I am not able to see how a man with a good working brain can ditch such a beautiful young woman. So speak up, what happened?" He said, he sounded worried and he had every right to be worried. She told him about the last job, the night that followed and what happened ever since. "That bastard, I never liked him, you hear me, never. But when I alst saw you he at least had your back."   "Well that all changed when he laid eyes on Rosina Northwood, he is now traveling with her. According to her father, who is not happy about the situation, may I add." Audery said, she rolled her eyes.   "Why do you not come with us, you know that I would never stab you in the back." Tom said. It was a good offer, and she knew Tom. He might act a bit strange for people who do not know him, but she did know him. But she also thought that she knew Anthony and look were that brought her. Besides there was her debt to Terence, one that kept on growing. A spring breeze blew through her honey blond hair, she looked in the direction it came from and there he was. Terence MildenHall, Lord Handsome. He looked at her, with a somewhat pained expresion. That look, that pained look, it made a pit in her stomach. She couldn't leave, she loved Tom as a friend, she loved his offer, but she was needed here. At least that is what she has being telling herself. She looked once again towards Lord Handsome, he was standing close enough to hear the whole conversation. She wanted to smile at him, say that she wouldn't leave Spheros that easy. But that wouldn't be her, that would be a love sick fool. One that was not burned by men, she was burned and it was better to keep man, no matter if they are friends at an arms lenght.   "Thank you for the offer, Tom. If you had given me that one a couple of months ago, I would have taken it. But I have a debt to pay, Lord Mildenhall cared for me when I was at Hiubin's door. Thanks to Anthony. He even called a doctor, he has given me clothes, a bow, a roof above my head. And for all of that I am gratefull, but you know me well enough that I will do everything in my power to make it up to him." She looked from the corner of her eye towards Terence, who quietly shook his head. "And besides that, I just got here. It would have being a waste to suffer all of that, and leave after just a couple of months. I want to see what Spheros has to offer," Tom laughed.    "Really, Audery. You are one Hiubin of a woman. You always knew your own mind and you were alsway a handfull, Anthony was never man enough to handle you, with that I mean let you take the lead. He was never, and I say it again. Never, the right man for you. Something I might say to him in person then next time I see him. I will leave out the part where I saw you, of course. I would hate for you to see him again." Tom said, he turned around and sighed. "Alright, it is time for me to return and earn some money. Take care of yourself Audery, and remember that Anthony was never the right man for you. And deep down you know that," she wanted to nod, but that would be a lie. She wanted to know that, but she was afraid to admit it to herself that she was blind.   ******** Terence walked through the crowed streets, the Phodia festival was his most favourite day of the year. He loved to see his people in such high spirits, there was music, dancing, very good food. Sophia always hated it, it was something beneath her. She was after all a Lady, and those do not mix with the likes that lived inside Spheros. Which in his mind was bull crap, his mother was also a Lady, and she always made a point to show her face during the festival all dressed up and such.   "O my, o my. What a frown, I know about who your mind has wandered off to." A woman with red brownish hair, which had a few streaks of gray, appeared right next to him.   "Lady Frid, I didn't see you.," he said, and he bowed his head a little. Lady Frid was his mother's close friend, they had travelled together with Madam Ward, to Spheros when his mother was betrothed to his father. She was also the mother of his late fiancée, Sophia.   "Boy, you know I do not like it when you call me that. But I am partly the one that raised you, so it is my own bloody fault. But back to those thoughts, you know Sophia was my world. From the moment that she was born, until she was taken away from me. But I know her well enough to know that she wanted to leave Spheros. She never settled here, she never felt at home here." She said. "Take this festival for example, she hated everything about it. From the colour of the dresses, to the food and drinks that were being sold. It was always a Hiubin's of a job to get her dressed, when she was younger. And when she got older, to get her out there. She hated everything about Spheros, I will not so far that I would say that she hated you. But she hated the fact that you were willing to lay your life for the people that live here, which included her. Only she didn't think that far. You, like your father before you, are a man of duty. It becomes above else, and my daughter was not able to grasp that." Tears appeared in her eyes. "It was wrong of your mother to force this engagement upon you. I was wrong to give my consent for it. But Terence, let me make one thing very clear. My daughter wouldn't have being happy here, and there was nothing you could do to change that. And I highly doubted that she would have stayed, even if the two of you were married."   "She asked if I loved her, and I replied that I could learn to do that." He said, and she smiled.   "Which proofs the point, the two of you were not right for each other," she said. "But it is time for you to let her go and focus your attention to find the one. I know for a fact that would be something your mother, and my daughter, wanted you to do." Terence looked up and saw Audery, she was dressed in a light pink dress. The soft spring breeze played with stings of her honey coloured hair. She was talking to one of the bards, a bulky man with black hair. He was only able to hear whips of their conversation. She knew him, and he knew her and her relationship with the low life Anthony.   "Why do you not come with us, you know that I would never stab you in the back." The bard asked. He was going to take Audery away from him, he would hate the day that she indeed decided to leave Spheros. But she was her own person, and he even would give her his blessing. But he would lie, if he was going to say that it would be an easy goodbye. She looked at him, and they made eye contact.   "I already see that you already have someone in mind. She looks strong, not only physically. But I can see that she has a mind of her own. A woman that can stand on her own two feet. Yes, a woman to my own heart." Lady Frid said. "But, boy, if she decides to make her own path. Then you would be a fool to stand in her way. Do not even tell her how you feel, if you have not done that at that point. Let her go," he wanted to nod. Because he knew that she was right. But he was not ready to admit that to himself. Instead, he waited for Audery to except the bard's offer, but she declined. She said a lot more than just no, he only didn't hear her words.   "Really, Audery. You are one Hiubin of a woman. You always knew your own mind, and you were always a handful, Anthony was never man enough to handle you, with that I mean let you take the lead. He was never, and I say it again. Never, the right man for you. Something I might say to him in person then next time I see him. I will leave out the part where I saw you, of course. I would hate for you to see him again," the bard said, and Terence agreed with him. He would hate it if that man was able to hurt Audery more. The bard left her and he walked towards her.   "Thank you, for staying," he said. And she looked at him, surprised.

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Cover image: by KELLEPICS


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