Kasmira was in the middle of a nice sleep when she felt small hands squeeze her nose. She thought that was very strange and opened her eyes to see Anthony holding Preston. Amberline, Svetlana, and Ivan chuckled. Holly and Mac were taking down bricks to expand the house. They turned their heads to look, and Mac said, “We said to let her sleep. They don’t listen, do they?”
Anthony refuted, “You said we could leave when she wakes up!”
“It’s fine.” Kasmira sat up. She saw Preston grinning at her in a very mischeivious way. She commented, “I think Preston is learning bad ideas from him.”
“Figures,” Holly replied. Everyone laughed.
Amberline piped in, “Since you’re up, we will leave after you have a quick breakfast. We’re going to the aristocrat’s village today! I love it there! It’s so beautiful. Plus, they have this tailor shop where the nicest old tailor lives. She gives me leftover material. I’m going to get enough to make you a new dress. And I can make better disguises. We still have to wear these rags for another day though. Ugh!”
Kasmira remarked, “Sounds good. I’ll try to hurry and eat.”
Preston practically shouted, “Eat!”
Everyone turned to look at him. Holly was in jubilee. She ran over to him and exclaimed, “Your first word!” She hugged her son.
Mac came over and said to Preston, “I was hoping your first word would be something really cool.”
“What? Like Rebellion?” Holly retorted. “Really, what did you expect from an infant?”
“I would’ve settled for dada,” he commented, “Oh well. Eat. I think my first word was baba.”
“Both food related,” Kasmira pointed out, “He’ll be just like his daddy.” Mac beamed.
“Unless I keep babysitting!” Anthony joked. Everyone laughed.
The aristocrats’ village laid on top of a hill. Ivan and Anthony were wearing Blood Warrior armor while Kasmira, Svetlana, and Amberline wore their beggar disguises. As they walked up the hill, Kasmira remarked, “ARen’t we going to stand out as beggars amongst the aristocrats?”
Ivan replied, “I think that’s your only option. If you wore your normal clothes, the Blood Warriors would know your identity.”
“Beggars do often roam here,” Amberline said, “though hopefully the tailor has enough cloth to help us fit in with this crowd. I can’t wait! I wish I could live here!”
“Where would you get the money to live here?” Svetlana asked.
Amberline answered, “I’d combine the income from my hair salon and my husband’s apothecary shop!”
Anthony commented, “So it looks like we both want to rescue our future spouses from an I.W.T.S!”
Amberline looked worried. “Do you really think he’s there? Orlando said something about a trial…”
Kasmira told her, “I’ve heard the trials mainly decide if someone knows something, which means torture. If he’s a hard worker, he’d get sent to the I.W.T.S. If he has no skill or knowledge, he’d be executed.”
“What if he’s innocent?” Amberline inquired.
Anthony scoffed, “Innocent? You think King Davidson cares? Anyone that he feels is a threat doesn’t get a chance to be innocent.”
Before anyone could contribute more to the conversation, they saw two Blood Warriors approaching. Thinking fast, Svetlana held out her hands and croaked, “Got any spare change?”
Ivan pretended to be affronted. “You dare ask a Blood Warrior for a favor? Be gone, peasants!”
As the Blood Warriors commented about being relieved of their shift, the three women ran along side the hill to enter from another side. Kasmira asked, “so, it’s really easy to recruit people from this village?”
Amberline laughed, “No! Not at all. They don’t care what’s going on away from the their landlocked island! They have money and freedoms, so it doesn’t bother them if other people are suffering. Well, not all of them, but a lot feel that way. Once in a while, we convince someone, but don’t expect to draw a crowd like you usually do.”
Kasmira frowned, so Svetlana told her, ‘I’ve been here before. You’ll like it.”
Kasmira started, “I don’t see how I could if…” She stopped when they entered the village. Kasmira had never seen anything like it. The buildings were constructed as beautiful as paintings. They towered over pebbled streets. There was a lot of brown in the buildings and street, but everything else had a splash of color. The people’s clothing matched their surroundings. Kasmira could see why Amberline felt at home here-everything had the marker of comfort.
Kasmira noticed that they were getting dirty looks as they passed by. She forgot that they were dressed as beggars. She wished that she had been adorned as a princess walking arm in arm with her prince. She shook away that fantasy. It never occurred to her before what might happen to her after the war was over, and she sadly thought that she could very well become a beggar in real life. After all, where else would she live?
They came to the center of town, which had a big marble building on the east side and a fountain gushing in the center of the plaza. The rest of the plaza had a number of nice shops and a blacksmith. The blacksmith attracted Svetlana’s attention. She told the other two, “I’m going to see if he’ll part with any spare metal. I could start making armor for us.”
Amberline replied, “That’s fine. We’ll get to the tailor and we can find each other later.” Svetlana headed to the smithery while the other two went down the street.
After a minute or so of walking down the road, Amberline spotted the tailor shop. “There it is! I can’t wait for you to meet her!”
Kasmira was about to follow her into the shop when she was stopped by a nice aristocratic man. “Hold on, my dear, you look like you could really use a new cloak. That holey one doesn’t look like it’ll keep you warm.”
Naturally, she was a bit taken aback by his generous nature given the rest of the town’s attitude towards her, but she quickly recovered and croaked, “Thank you, kind sir!”
As he dug through his pockets, Kasmira noticed a house over his shoulder. The big house at the end of the road, at first glance, had a look of excessive grandeur. However, upon a better look, she saw crumbling walls and overgrown weeds, suggesting it hadn’t been lived in for several years. Kasmira couldn’t help but feel intrigued by it. She barely noticed the man give her the change he finally found, nor did she remember herself saying thank you. She was hypnotically transfixed by this building, like she had been there before to solve a grave mystery. Her whole body compelled her to check it out closer.
As she got closer, she heard shouting and crashes coming from inside. She knew that someone was being attacked in there, but they were putting up a good fight. The gate that surrounded the house was opened, so Kasmira decided she had better rush through it to alleviate the situation. She ran into the living room, and received a shock!