|Zelda's New Beginning|
Zelda stood at the prow of the ship and tried hard to see land. It was hard because the sea spray mixed with her tears... her vision was blurred. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and tried again.
A faint smudge on the horizon could be discerned. The land of Stallet was ahead. Her new home... one without sad memories of the man she loved and lost. One where she could start over and be free of her tainted past.
Zelda sighed and headed to her cabin. She needed to pack up her belongings and straighten herself. Three weeks on a ship meant at least an hour to get everything organised.
As she packed, little memories would sneak up on her... a ribbon that Hawk gave her brought a smile and then fresh tears.
Zelda shook her head and spoke aloud to herself. " You have got to get over him. He's married and will be the next king. There are plenty of other men in the world. You have a goodly amount of money and skills to start anew. Stop sulking and chin up!"
Her pep talk managed to arouse the fire that burned in her heart. Head held high and eyes flashing, she made her way topside. She took her place in the line of folks who were disembarking for Stallet.
The sound of a bustling seaport reached her ears over the hissing of the sea and flapping of the sails. Zelda was amazed at the size of this city. It was easily three times as large as her hometown.
Although she had remained in her cabin for most of the trip, she had had a few conversations with her fellow travellers. So she knew that the name of this port was Seawood and that the best inns were found on the west side of town. She had also discovered that farming was becoming a big business in the out-lying communities of Seawood. As Seawood grew, so had the markets for fresh produce. Most things that were shipped had to be of a non-perishable variety. Stallet was just too far from anywhere.
The bumping of the ship against the dock broke Zelda from her reveries. She gathered her pieces of luggage and prepared to leave the ship... and her old life...behind.The swaying and jolting of the carriage was ten times worse than the storms Zelda had braved on the sea. Seawood was still young enough that it's roads were not paved. It didn't help that the trace of centaurs were young and full of enthusiasm. They kept trying to race other carriages and paid little attention to their passenger.
It was with a grateful sigh of relief that Zelda dismounted in front of the Golden Goose Inn. After paying the centaurs she picked up her belongings and climbed the stairs to her new resting place.
The Golden Goose was breathtaking both inside and out. A gold colored wood had been used artfully to enhance the inn. It had streaks and striations running through it that resembled feathering. The goose motif was quiet yet elegant.Once inside Zelda headed for the check in counter and rang the bell.
The ding summoned the clerk, a faun, who regarded Zelda with moist quivering eyes. "How may I be of service, my lady?"
"I'd like a room for at least a week, maybe two, please. I'm looking to settle aound here, maybe buy a farm or such. "
"Very well, we have just the room to suit you. It will be 3 Silvers a week. Payment in advance for the first week, please."
Zelda dug out her money pouch and proceded to count out 12 coppers. She handed them over to the faun, who took them with a slight sniff.
He then pulled a bell cord which summoned a satyr. The satyr grabbed Zelda's luggage and showed her to her room. He chattered and nattered on but Zelda was too tired to pay him much heed.
Her room was in the east wing, up high enough that the city noise was muffled and had a great view of the harbor. A large four post bed called to Zelda but so did the sunken bath in the corner.
Hot oils with an intoxicating smell made the soak so enjoyable that she didn't want to get out but the bed was so inviting. She patted the slight swelling of her stomach and pulled her weary body out of the tub. Zelda swayed as she headed for the feather soft bed and almost fell as she climbed into it. The last thoughts she had were of a country house with full fields..and the gurgle and coo of a baby.
Zelda awoke with a start. Her mouth tasted foul and her head pounded. Her back ached, which was odd since she had went to sleep in such a comfy bed.
She forced her eyes open and immediately regretted that action. Her beautiful suite had changed. Cold damp walls and hard stone floors surrounded her. The feather bed was replaced by a wooden cot.
Zelda sat up which made her head swim. Slowly getting control of herself she rose from the cot and staggered towards the door.
A metal grill slid open and the grinning face of the satyr appeared. "Ahh, I see you have recovered! Good! Wouldn't do to have you asleep."
"What is the meaning of this? Why am I here? I demand you let me out this instance!" Zelda tried hard to sound just like Princess Sweetcheeks.
"Heh! You demand? You're in no position to demand anything, my dear. Now be a sweetie and tidy yourself up a bit. Wouldn't want to scare the customers, now would we?"
"Customers? What do you mean? I'm not here to work!! Let me out now!"
"Oh, indeed, your here to work... but not the way you imagine! We have prettier barmaids than you... but you'll do as a bedwench." With that the satyr chuckled and shut the grill.
Zelda squealed and threw herself at the door. After pounding and pulling at it futilely, she sank to the floor and sobbed bitterly. Things had been looking so bright and now this. Pressed into slavery and not a soul to hope for help from.
Just as she contemplated suicide a flutter in her belly happened. Her baby had decided it was time to say hello.
A tremulous smile spread across Zelda's face. Her hands rached down and cupped her belly. A feeling of strengh surged through her and steeled her resolve. Somehow, someway she would get out of this predicament!
Plans and counter-plans flew through her mind. First she needed to gain her freedom from this cell. From there anything could happen.
Zelda got up onto her feet and walked over to a little nightstand that held a basin of water and other toiletries. She splashed her face and combed her hair. Staring hard into the metal mirror, she found peace and courage. As a former adventuress she knew half the battle was being in the right frame of mind.
A rumble caught her attention. Her cell door swung open and admitted the satyr. He entered carrying a handful of silk nothings and a leather case of cosmetics and jewels.