The noisy carriage crunched in the snow which made talking very difficult. They had both sensed something in that glance, like the lonely cry of a rent heart, a hope endured and finally met, a barren spring enclosed suddenly flowing with sweet water. They both felt this, yet, neither had the courage to express it. How could one even admit such a thing?
Ninombir’s mind was going wild with ideas. Should he tell her? “Excuse me miss, but do you happen to have dreams about me?” That wouldn’t do at all. “Hey, your very beautiful, just like a woman I’ve been dreaming about for years.” Nin shook his head.
She’d think me nothing but a fool. He thought. He was very wrong.
I’ve seen him before! Yewna thought to herself. He’s the one in my dreams! Why won’t he talk to me? Oh, I must be going mad! How could it be him? It must not be.
And so the two passed the time with hidden glances, too luckless and shy to even say hi.
Nin took them to Watchman Cave. He offered the lady his hand and took her to the entrance where he then let go. The cave was covered in strong oak with a little red door that Nin had to duck in order to enter. He had closed the door behind him leaving Yewna in the cold. She stood there not quite knowing what to do. Was she to freeze to death because this tall bafoon forgot to let her inside? Hot anger boiled within. Though her face did not show it her dress had changed into a deep crimson.
The little red door opened. Yewna made to move in when a stranger walked out. He was a gray man in the snow, with a long gray beard and two icy dull, gray specks for eyes. He didn’t seem to see her as he carried his pack to the carriage and deftly turned it around.
Yewna was too stunned to move. She watched the stranger take their only transportation back up the peak of the mountain.
“Don’t mind him,” Ninombir said. “Slag was born from an icicle. Or so the men at the tavern tell me.” Yewna looked back at the tall, bearded man with his hand extended. He would make a very brave-looking knight. She thought as he lead her deep into the cave.
The inside was cozy and dry. No decorations to speak of, but everything was placed about in an orderly fashion. Even as she sat in the chair that was offered to her, she felt like a cog set nice and snug in a machine. Oh, the decorations of men. She thought in wonder. Nothing frilly and always so practical. She was considering how she would illuminate the bookshelf with drawings of sunflowers when a hot, dark drink was offered to her.
Nin took a cup of his own and sat across from her. He glanced shyly over his mug like a thief to a policeman. She put her drink in her lap waiting for the sugar and cream. When she realized it wasn’t coming she took a sip of the most bitter drink. Her good manners kicked in so that she did not gag in front of her host. She took an even smaller sip of the brew. It was warm at least.
“It’s an ancient potion from the far east.” Nin said, “People call it covfefe.”
“Oh.” Yewna said, “Do you perhaps have any whipped cream?”
Nin frowned, “What’s that?”
Yewna shrugged her shoulders and took another sip. It was growing on her and, then it hit her eyes. They were suddenly very wide awake.
“Now then,” Ninombir began after finishing his cup. “What is your business so far away from the path to Noir City?”
Yewna wanted to trust him, everything in her told her he was the most trustworthy man she’d met. This scared her. How could a stranger mean this much to her?
Nin grinned. Yewna blushed… it was a nice smile.
“Well,” He continued, “For what it’s worth, it isn’t every day that a lady of the Crescentium court graces us with her presence.”
Yewna’s mouth opened in surprise. Nin glanced below her chin, “It was the necklace that gave it away. You’re no doubt some lady in waiting who ran away from an arranged marriage.”
Yewna clutched the diamond and gold crescent sign of her neckless and gave him dagger eyes. “I’ll h ave you know that I’m a royal princess of the high court!” It was Nin’s turn to open his mouth in shock. She relished that look of his, almost more than the grin. “And, and I’m due to arrive at Noir City at the Kingdom University. And, and I just simply got lost.”
“Where is your pilot?”
“I don’t have any need for a pilot.”
“After that crash? You’re lucky to be alive.”
A long silence insude. Nin was kicking himself mentally, thinking of all of the mistakes of etiquette he’d made in her presense. What is the proper way to save a princess? Yewna tried to appear nonchalaunt. This was not how she’d imagined it would be… to finally meet the man of her dreams… literally.
Ninombir caughed nervously, “What will you by studying?”
Yewna hid her face behind the mug of covfefe. “I am called to the Way of the Wards.” She dared him, just dared him to tell her she was ill-prepared. Her parents and sisters had expressed this, many times. She tried to explain it to them. She just had this restless soul, a sudden itch to explore.
Ninombir sucked in the air like the hiss of steam. “That’s a strange bunch, them Wards.”
Yewna’s heart grew faint and cold as the outside wind. She prepared herself for another lecture on the impracticalities of the Wards… how they had lost their magic and only resorted to trickery. How a woman as high-born as her must not resort to the mid to low-born drudgery of books. That was for scribes, scolars, teachers, and yes Wards.
“I only call them strange because I met one once. He was stange in a most fascinating way. I’d never spoken to anyone like him. We talked long into the night, half made me leave my machines in search of some library city like Cirt, just to learn more.
Yewna felt a thrill inside. Here was an old soul she could talk to. They spoke long into the night, about philosophies and wars. Slowly but surely their hearts opened and a new friendship was forged.