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Chapter Three

After gently tapping on the door to Rufina's bed chamber, Tilly slowly opens the door. Walking to the side table, she lights the candle there with the one she is holding. Smiling at the two young women, intertwined together, 'Oh, to be in love again.' She reaches down, grasping a shoulder of the girl closest to her, she starts shaking her. "Wake up you two, you are wasting daylight. You have an appointment in less than 90 minutes." Seeing that they are wake she leaves.

They are both groggy, having enjoyed each other for too long last night. After kissing, they rolled out of bed, taking turns on the chamberpot, then start dressing. Emi dresses in the clothes she brought with her last night, her maid outfit, a long dark skirt and white blouse, she then leaves taking the chamberpot with her. Rufina, takes care in her selection, not wanting to look to laid back in front of Lian. She chooses a long skirt, a blouse and knee stockings. She had finished putting them on when Emi returned. Rufina was promptly sat down and had her hair brushed and braided.

"There, dressed as befitting a queen, ready to meet her people."

Taking the candle, Emi leads Rufina out to the sitting room where she snuffs the candle, placing it on the table. Holding hands the two head down stairs, moving slowly, they knew they couldn't show such public displays of affection outside the palace.

She then escorts me down to the dining room where Aden and another are waiting. Oh, it's my personal guardsmen, Kalvin. "Good morning, your majesty." they say together.

"Good morning, Aden, Kalvin. Will you join me for breakfast. A simple meal to start the day," I smile at them.

"Thank you, your majesty." Aden answers as he holds my chair for me. After sitting me, he takes the seat on the right, Kalvin the left. Emi returns carrying a large tray, soon followed by Tilly with another. Quickly serving us, they both return to the kitchen. Shortly Emi returns bearing the teapot and cups.

As we quickly eat, I explain that we are heading to the town hall office to do an audit. I don't wish Lian to know that is the reason, so I will tell him it's a survey of the state of the domain. They are along as witnesses, Aden to crosscheck my figures, Kalvin as guard, Emi as chaperone. "What do you want to take with you today?" Emi asks.

"We'll need some paper, charcoal sticks, the sketches and some coin I think." She goes to the kitchen returning a few seconds later with a basket. After asking for and receiving a pouch of coins from Aden, she take the basket to the study to fetch the sketches and other things, soon returning.

I ask Emi to remind Tilly we will probably not be here for dinner. When Emi returns we head to the town hall where Lian has his office. He used to work out of the palace but had moved to town the previous fall. I think he want to get away from Rufina, which didn't make her unhappy. It was not far, Haven being small, having fewer than 2100 people including the farmers in the area.

When we arrived at the town hall, Kalvin steps through the door taking a look around, then in a loud voice said as I walked through the door." The Queen."

Lian had been sitting at a desk working on reports when we entered and reluctantly stood. "You are here, your majesty," not really believing that I would come so early. "Ah...How may I help you, your majesty?"

There are a few chairs next to one of the walls. Aden moves one of these to the front of the desk, then guilds me to it, with a bow. "I need a better understanding of my holdings so I'm doing a survey of the domain. I need information on the population, production and trade. I would like to review the current data on those subjects, please."

"May I ask why you need all this information, your majesty?" straightening the papers he been working on. "I handle all of these for you already, so it unnecessary for you to look at this information."

"I have decided to take a greater interest in the workings of the domain but first I need a clear understanding of the situation. I have been neglecting my duties to the domain lately, I need to catch up."

I can see the gears spinning in his head, 'if I let this idiot hold the reins she will run the country into the ground', is what he is thinking.' It's understandable, given the temperament of the original Rufina, I would also try to find some way to deflect this sudden enthusiasm. "If you wish to help there are activities you can do. Appearing before your subjects more often, for example..."

He is thwarting me.

Uh, I am not sure how to politely convince him, so I will have to use the power of the Queen? "You had best think this through, Lian. This is not some thing you can refuse me as your queen." He immediately closed his mouth.

Damn, that worked so well. The idea of threatening people is repugnant to me but appears to be the only way to get this done. With their past, he no doubt thinks I would have his head at the drop of a hat.

"It will take a while to sort through the data, your majesty, to organize it into a report. I can have the report done in a day or two so will send it to you then. Excuse me, I will get right on it." He as risen from his chair thinking the matter concluded but I interrupt him, "No need for a report, bring me the documents as you find them, I will read them immediately. If we haven't the time to finish them all today, we can continue tomorrow."

He was standing with a dumbfounded look on his face until I coughed to regain his attention, "You going to stand there all day? Get to it."

He got to it, for the next six hours he was sorting though paperwork looking for the pertinent information which he would then pass to Aden who would pass it to me. I would read though it, make notes on the contents then place it in one of several piles.

As the morning progressed I was getting a clearer picture of the state of the production on the island. Most of what I read agrees with the historical reports I had read the other day. The main cash crop is wheat being supplemented by furs. All other crops are used to feed or cloth the people. The iron mine is producing enough ores to keep the implements and weapons repaired or replaced with a little extra.

The main propose of this visit to Lian, evidence of his malfeasance, is also found. He is a atrocious bookkeeper, I could fire him for just that. The figures he has passed to me for the amounts of wheat harvested, amount stored, amount sold and amount loaded don't match the report from the close of last year. Neither do the figures for the values of the wheat sold and the amount in the treasury. I point these out to Aden, who makes note of them but makes no comment. We will speak later, away from guilty ears.

Stretching my arms as I finish with the final stack of documents. The islands economy is not the best. Agricultural products are of little value in a unprocessed state. They are good for feeding the people of the island but of low value otherwise. Grain is the main product sold, wheat being the primary one, because it keeps the longest, is easy to ship and is in constant demand.

Expanding our most profitable industry, hunting, is out. Some of the peasants hunt small game in the forests farther inland. The pelts of the animals taken by these hunters, which are given to me in exchange for the hunting rights, are a valuable part of the islands production. But hunting can't be expanded too much, over hunting would deplete the game population and mess up the islands ecosystem.

Mining is essential to industrial development but the amounts necessary are probably beyond the scope of our small mine. I would have to import metals from elsewhere, with hard to come by cash. I need to both expand the mine output and seek new sources of income if I wish to expand industry.

"Are there not crops that we can grow that would bring in more income?" I ask Lian, who is surprised I am still here. "Would not growing grapes for wine or olives for oil be more profitable than grain?"

"Except for what you require of them, the serfs are free to plant what they want. As they have families to feed they grow crops that they can eat. Grapes and olives are usually grown on plantations, where food and shelter are the wages of the workers."

"If you wish I can order some olive trees and grape vines when the merchant ship arrives. A small plantation can be started if you wish."

"Very well, do that." It would take years to get olive trees and grapes mature enough to get a harvest from them, so may as well start now. But what can we do to get some income quickly. I will have to sit and think about this. Then there is the labor pool. What can be done to free up some of the serfs to work on other things beside farming? The wheel barrow will help, but what else? Any of the modern machines are out, too much iron and steel to make them. Then there is the power problem, we are stuck with human, animal, wind and water for now, which the two most powerful are non mobile. So anything would need to be man or animal powered. Tools from the 1600s to early 1800s then. But I don't know what is being used now so how can I improve it.

"Lian, tomorrow I wish to tour the area, view the fields, talk to some of the farmers. I will also wish to speak with some of the hunters and foresters."

"If you say so, your majesty. When do you wish to begin?"

"I believe 600 would be a good time. We will meet you here. You will be taking notes so come prepared." Lets see how he likes starting early. "See you in the morning, Lian."

"As you wish, your majesty."

With that, I and my entourage leaves the town hall. Stopping a short distance away I asked Aden if the woodworker he had told me about would be available. He thought he should be so we headed there. As we walked down the main street I note the state of the town. The buildings near the town hall are of mixed stone and wood construction, mostly two story, with a store front with living quarters above. Glancing down the side streets the buildings are similar. The farther we go the smaller the building become, like we are headed to a poorer area.

Aden informs me that the craftsman we are in route to is not well off as there are few that can afford his price but his workmanship is excellent. I ask Aden that when it came time to set a price for the goods if he would confirm if the price was fair and equitable as Rufina doesn't normally purchase items nor haggle.

We arrive in front of a small shop, barely wider that Kalvin's out stretched arms. As we enter a small bell rings above our heads. On shelves lining both side of the space there are small craved items in the forms of animals, wooden spoons and other useful items. On seeing the spoons I remember I wanted some forks made, wooded ones would work well. I examined the spoons which are thinly craved from a light colored wood, deep bowled and smooth to the touch.

As I am examining the spoon, the craftsman comes out of the back room. Wearing a apron of leather covered in pockets, most of which contain something, he appears to be in his early thirties. "Welcome to my shop, how ma..." he must have recognized who was in his shop, "Ah, your majesty, welcome. How may I be of service?"

"Good afternoon my good man. I have need of a few things made of wood and have been informed that you would be able to produce them."

"What is it you wish made, your majesty?"

"Emi, the sketch of the steamer, please." Emi hands me the sketch I had made of the steamer. "This is one of the things I wish made, a steamer." The main body is a cylinder of about a forearm in diameter and a hand width in height. The sides are thin solid wood with a lip on the bottom edge to catch the top of the tier below. About an thumb joint from the bottom edge is a loosely woven mesh bottom. There are to be four of the units and a lid, solid with four small holes near the edge with a knob in the center.

He looks at the plans then asks what kind of finish I want on it. As it will come in contact with food I tell him beeswax. He then asks what are they used for. I explain that are used to cook food with steam, filling them with food then placing them over a pot of simmering water. He gets a thoughtful look on his face while stroking his chin.

"Is there anything else, your majesty?"

"I noticed that you make spoons, I would like a set of spoons. Also there is a companion piece that would go with them, a fork." Emi hands me the sketch of the fork. I tell him that they would be the same length as the spoon, with enough space between the tines for a knife blade to pass. The tines should be pointed enough to spear a piece of meat. He asks how many sets of spoons and forks do I want. I tell him twenty four.

He thinks for a few minutes then names a price for the spoons and forks of one silver and four copper pieces. For the steamer ten copper. I glance at Aden, who gives a nod. Apparently these are a good prices.

I ask him to send word to Aden or myself when the first two tiers of the steamer are completed as I will need one to show the blacksmith that will be making the pot that will be used with the steamer. It wouldn't do to have the pot be the incorrect size.

I have Aden pay the man half of the total with balance on delivery. I am informed that it should be a week for the spoons and forks, and another for all of the steamer. He ask which I would like first, utensils or steamer. I tell him the steamer. As we are about take our leave I catch sight of a craved box and think I will need a place to store the spoons and forks. I ask the carver the price of a box sized to hold the utensils, which he replies ten copper. I again get a nod from Aden so agree. This adds another week to the delivery time which I approve.

After we leave the carvers shop Aden asks, "Where next, your majesty?"

"A carpenter, please."

"There is a carpenter just ahead. This way then, your majesty."

We arrive at building quite a bit larger than the carvers shop. As we enter I see chairs, tables of different sizes, chests and wardrobes. Again a small bell over the door announces our arrival to the shop. Soon a older woman appears from the back with a smile, "Good Afternoon, how may I help you?"

As I am still standing near the door out of her sight, Aden answers with," Her majesty the queen, would speak to the master carpenter, my good woman."

Her eyes grow large at that statement, "Excuse me." she mutters as she ducks back in the rear of the shop. We can hear her shout to her husband, "Mister, the Queen is here to speak with ye."

A short wait then man of about forty five enters the front of the shop, looking about nervously. Aden greets him, "Master carpenter, the queen has come with a project for you."

"Good afternoon, master carpenter." I greet the man. "I have a couple of projects that I believe you can make for me. Emi, the sketch of the brick forms and the wheel barrow."

I show him the sketch of the brick forms. These are simply boxes, two long sides with crossbars joined to them. The carpenter says these will not take long, a couple of days at most.

Then I show him the wheel barrow sketch, then ask a price and rough delivery date. After examining the plan closely, He informs me that the handles and body will not take long but the wheel and axle could take a while as he would have to have those built by a blacksmith. I inform him that our next stop is the blacksmith shop and he could accompany us there to order the parts needed.

After a short conversion with his wife and journeyman, we are on our way to the blacksmith. I have brought along the plan for the wheelbarrow since the blacksmith will need to have a look at it. When we arrive at the blacksmiths shop, Emi, Kalvin and I wait outside as the shop is a loud and dirty place. Aden and the carpenter go in to fetch the blacksmith.

"Your majesty, how may I be of service?" this comes from a large burly man wearing a heavy leather apron.

I motion for the carpenter and the blacksmith to look at the plans, saying, "The carpenter is to build majority of this but he will need an axle and bearings for it. The load on the axle should be about what that barrel," pointing at a nearby barrel, "full of water would weigh, possibly a little more." The barrel looks to be about 32 gallons/122 liters in size so about 300 lbs/140 kilos.

"As I have no knowledge of bearings and the like I will leave the design and construction of those to you. If this functions like I think it should, I will have more constructed."

"There is another couple of projects for you, master smith. I understand that you also do hammered metal work." I do a sketch of a shallow pot. I explain the pot, saying it should be of copper if possible, about a fore arm in diameter and hand width in height, though the exact dimensions are dependant on another project. I will have one of the parts brought to him so he can get measurements from it.

I ask for and receive a sheet of paper from Emi then do a rough sketch of a candle stick with reflector. Show it to the smith, "The body of the stick can be of iron, with enough weight so it will not tip over and holding two candles. The reflector is to be of copper, polished to a high shine, with adjustments in three axis, back and forth, up/down and roll."

The smith informs me that he only as enough copper for the reflector, not the pan. I mention the merchant ship should soon be here so copper should not be a problem. I ask if he could do the pan in steel. He said that hammering steel to that thickness is difficult but could be done. We agree to a price of one silver three copper for the candle stick, one silver for the pan and the axle with bearings will be one silver so three silver three copper total. We leave the carpenter and the smith talking shop.

Looking to the sky, I check how late it is. I then ask Aden if the coopers shop is nearby. When he answers yes, we head there. We are greeted by the cooper, a wiry fellow with a bushy mustache. I then explain I want a large tub, about my height in diameter and just over waist deep on the inside, with the bottom slanted to one side with that side having a plug accessible from the outside. I also want narrow benches built into three of the sides. He quotes a price of two sliver four copper for such a tub. I ask why such a high price to which he replies that he will need to buy the wood from the minster as he doesn't have the correct size or species currently. I make arrangements with Aden to transfer the required material to the cooper so I don't end up buying wood from myself. The price then goes down to fourteen copper for the tub with a delivery in about two weeks. After paying the price we finally head back to the palace.

Reaching the palace I thank Kalvin, Aden and Emi for accompanying me all day. I then go to my rooms to freshen up. After reaching my rooms in the new palace and seeing that everything but the furniture is missing I remember I moved. I head to the old section and my new rooms. I take it slow as I haven't really looked around much on this floor.

I pass the hallway leading to the rooms used by the maids, I know from Rufina's memories that there are four rooms there. Next is a small storage room, the door to one of the guest suites is opposite. I then come to the balcony around the atrium, a railing around the edge. The stairway is to my right, stairs going up and down from this floor. The stairs going up lead to the guards chambers where Kalvin and the two squads of guards who patrol the walls of the palace dwell.

Entering my new rooms, I see the maids have even placed the book I was reading on the table next to the window. The writing desk is in the corner next to a small table with a comfortable chair next to it. Going into the bedchamber, I reach for a light switch, oops, old habits die hard. If I leave the door open there is enough light to see where things are. Doing what I came here for, I returned to the sitting room.

I then head down stairs, entering the ground floor of the atrium. The study is on the right, the parlor to far right and dining room to the left. Down the hall to the left are the kitchen and its store room on the right and another storage room on the left. Further down the hall is the hallway that leads to another four servant rooms. Two of these are used by Emi, and Tilly. The rooms to either side of the vestibule are offices, one used by Aden, the other empty as it had been used by Lian.

I was perusing the book shelves in the study when Emi knocked, saying supper was ready to served.

After I finish eating I ask Emi to join me in the study when she was finished. I make my way to the study where I start to sketch a floor plan of the palace. I need to figure out where to place the tub I ordered, should I modify one of the rooms or build a bathhouse in the garden? Installing it in the palace would require adding drains, piercing walls, possibly reflooring the room and adding a chimney. Ah, to many major changes to the structure, so in the garden it is.

Thinking about it, I should also build a bathhouse for the town, possibly two. I'll need to ask Aden about that. Darn I miss sticky notes, they were so handy. I dig out another sheet of paper, making a note, Aden - town bathhouse.

Back to my bathhouse. Should it be open air or closed? Catching some sun would be nice but there are guards on the walls, no need to give them an eyeful. Ah, where it would be built, the northeast corner of the garden, it would be shaded a lot of the time anyway. Humm, about sixteen foot square, I think, no, twelve by twenty feet, the tub surrounded by a deck, a step down to a stone or tile floor . Wash area next to the entrance, an u shaped hall, with a bench and shelves opposite. Lattice along the top of the walls for ventilation.

But how to heat the water? That is the big question. Immersion heater or cauldrons on a stove? Cauldrons, big and heavy, would take multiple fillings to fill the tub which would cool between fillings. Immersion, expensive, would take a long time to heat the tub, could over shoot the temperature, could leak, a burn danger. Was there a third way to do it? Humm.

Just then Emi, who had arrived while I was deep in thought, coughed. Startled, I look at her, then smiled sheepishly. "Sorry Emi, I was thinking."

"What were you thinking about?"

"Where to put the tub I bought today. And how to heat the water for it."

"What is purpose of the tub, your majesty?"

"It's a bath tub. It's filled with water, usually slightly warmer than body temperature, then you get in and soak. The way this one will work is we will wash ourselves outside of the tub, then rinse off, then get in the tub. That way the water wouldn't need to be changed but once a week. The problem is how to heat the water but I'll figure it out."

"Why did you ask me here?"

"Oh, let the maids know they did a good job on moving my things today. I check my new rooms, they look fine. Have you instructed them to start closing the new section? They could start on that while we are gone tomorrow."

"I'll tell Tilly to have them start on that then. You wish me to accompany you tomorrow?"

"Yes I do. You should dress to ride. As we will be out all day ask Tilly to make sandwiches for five plus a jug of tea. Don't forget cups."

"What are sandwiches, your majesty?"

Damn, another thing that isn't. Of course that Earl was never here. "A sandwich is two pieces of thinly sliced bread with a slice of meat between them. Depending on the meat different condiments are spread on the bread. Certain vegetables can also be used as filling or as condiments on a meat sandwich. If Tilly has questions send her... never mind, lets go see her." So saying I stand and walk around the desk.

Arriving in the kitchen, we see Tilly finishing cleaning up after supper. "Good evening Tilly, " I say.

"Evening, your majesty, how may I help you."

"Tomorrow I am going to be touring the local farms and the surrounding area and will be gone for most of the day. I would like you to make a portable meal for myself and four others. I was thinking of something new to you, a sandwich. A sandwich is two thin slices of bread with slice of meat between them. Would you be able to do that?"

"I believe so, your majesty. I have bread and some cold meat. How thick are the bread and meat cut?"

"If you get the meat and bread out, I can show you."

She went to one of the tables at the side of the room and open a box, removing a loaf of bread. This she lay on the cutting board. Next she removed a ham hanging from the ceiling beams. She lay this on the cutting board also. Handing me a long bladed knife, she pointed at the cutting board, "Have to, your majesty."

Smiling at her I grasped the loaf in my left hand and with a firm grip on the knife, I cut a slice of bread approximately thickness of my thumb. Then cut a second. Releasing the loaf, I moved to the ham, slicing a piece about the thickness of my little finger off. Laying the knife down, I placed the ham between the bread slices, then took up the knife again I cut the resulting sandwich into quarters. I handed one piece to each of those present and invited them to try it. I was the first to take a bite, they soon followed. Needs mustard, I thought.

As they chewed they started to smile. Tilly asked what all could be put on a sandwich. I told her most any cold meat, dried sausage, even breaded fried fish, lettuce, pickled cucumbers, or sliced raw cucumbers, radishes though the last two were best with mayonnaise. Mustard goes well with most of the meats. Horseradish on roast beef.

"And what is mayonnaise?" Tilly asked.

"It a mixture of egg, vinegar and oil with a pinch of salt."

"Could you show how to make that?"

"The problem with mayonnaise is that it needs to be kept cool or it spoils quickly. I have an idea for a cooler for the kitchen, once we have it I'll show you how to make mayonnaise."

"Yesterday you mentioned drying as a way to store food, How is that done?"

"There are several ways, the modern way is to uses a device that has a fan and heater. Before electricity the food was laid out in the sun and wind to dry it. But there was a third way that combines the two. A box containing racks of mesh that the food is placed on, then warm air is allowed to flow over the racks drying the food. The same box can be used to smoke meats by putting a smoky fire nearby and channeling the smoke to the box. I'll have one of those boxes made. I think I'll need a basket weaver to make the racks for it, do you know one, Tilly?"

"Yes, I do, I'll ask her to come talk to you tomorrow evening after supper, is that all right?"

"That will be fine." I blink, then yawn, it was a short night and a long day. "I think I had better goto bed, before I fall asleep."

"Would you like some hot water, your majesty?" asks Emi.

"Yes, I would, thank you."

"I'll need to fetch your pitcher first. Shall we go to your rooms?" Taking a candle, Emi lights it from the fire, then takes my hand, pulling me up. Leading me up the stairs and around the balcony to my rooms. Lighting several more candles once we enter my bedchamber, I finally get a good look at the room. This is a much larger room than my other room, there is as much open space as the whole of the other room. There are two bed stands beside the large double bed. My chest is at the foot of the bed. There are rugs on both sides of the bed and one in the center of the open space. As Emi takes the pitcher to fill it with water, I open the wardrobe checking my clothes. There are laid out the same as before. There is a basket beside the wardrobe now. Starting to remove my clothes I make use of the basket, my blouse and skirt get tossed in it then my stockings, drawers and chemise. I get out clean drawers and chemise, laying them on the bed. My eye catches the mirror on the wardrobe door, my face looks different, fuller than it had been the first time I saw it. I look at my arms, they are still very thin but don't appear as bony as they had been. Emi returns with the pitcher so I ask her, "Do I look like I am gaining weight?"

She looks me over, have me turn. "It appears you are, your ribs aren't as pronounced as they were, your arms and legs look a bit fuller too. Your face is defiantly fuller. You are still very under weight though."

"Good. I do need to get some weight on. Ah, we didn't get to do T'ai Chi this morning, we need to do that every morning, it will help with my balance. You will join me wouldn't you?"

"Oh course, love." She has removed her skirt and blouse and is working her chemise over her head. I give her a hand with that, then sit her on the chest to remove her stockings. Kneeling between her knees I lean forward and kiss her. "Tonight it's your turn, I fell asleep on you last night. Standing, I pulled her to her feet, turning her around, I undid the frog above her tail then slid her drawers down. Taking the cloth, I dipped it in the water then soaped it up. Starting with her neck I start scrubbing her, down her back, around her tail, her bottom. Then kneeling I did her legs, down one, up the other. I did her arms and shoulders, abandoning the cloth I soaped my hands and her breasts, pinching her nipples lightly. Working down her sides, rubbing her tight stomach muscles, finally stroking her crotch, making her shudder. Rinsing the cloth I wiped her down, top to bottom. Finishing with a long kiss. Handing her the cloth, I whisper, "If you hurry the quicker you get your reward."

She must have wanted that reward as she had me scrubbed and rinsed in record time. She was rubbing me down with a towel when I pushed her on to the bed, straddling her hips. "You have been a bad girl today, you deserve a good licking. Do you think you deserve a good licking?"

She nods. I can see the tip of her tail out of the corner of my eye, it is twitching up a storm. This excites her. I start kissing every inch of her, running my lips and tongue over her breasts, nipping at her nipples, giving them a good long suck. Working my way down, until I have her nubbin between my lips. It get the same treatment as her nipples but with more tongue action. A finger then two, slide into her channel, seeking that one spot. Her back arches when I find it. Sucking on her nubbin, stroking that spot she is soon over the edge, climaxing hard. After lapping up some of the juices, I slide up her body, to share her sweet taste with her. Gently kissing her then standing, I blow out the candles, leaving just the one. After arranging her on the bed, this one too is snuffed. In the dark I slide in next to her, covering us both with the sheet, lay my head on her shoulder, one arm over her body and a leg over hers. "Love you, Emi."

* * *

The Being is happy. Their instrument is no longer alone but has helpers and friends. They will need to confirm that the instruments statements were truthful so will need to meet Them.

After creating a space that They and the four could meet in, They brought them to it.

As the four materialized, They said to them, "Welcome Rosa, Emi, Tilly and Aden. I am Benzaiten but you may call me Benten. I have gathered you together to answer a few of your questions. I see you have made a few friends Rosa or should I call you Rufina now?"

"Rufina is fine. Why did you choose me?" she remembers the whole conversation she had had on the first night.

"I needed someone compassionate, creative, intelligent, with enough experience to have confidence in their choices but most of all was available. You fit the bill. I had a very narrow window to work within as Rufina was dying."

Aden asks, "She was dying?"

"Yes, Aden, dying of poison. I was a little late, she actuality did die. I had to restart Rufina after I placed Rosa in her. That is the reason there was such a mess in her room, my apologies Emi."

"Who poisoned her?" Tilly asked.

"The four of you have that figured out already. You will want to find out why though."

Rufina looked at the Being, "What exactly do you wish me to do, Benten?"

"Continue to do what you have started to do, what you told them you could do. Just be yourself."

"Rufina said you told her in a dream that you were going to visit soon, how and when?" asks Emi.

"Oh, probably by ship as that is the only way on to the island. And when is soon, think about it." They say with a wink.

"Is it within your power to help me remember thing I read or saw in my previous life?"

"That I can do but it would be better to do it in person. So just wait a bit. And with that it is time to wake up. Rufina, go learn what is growing and what can be grown on the island. Tilly, share your wisdom with the young ones and learn what Rosa can teach. Aden, Emi support Rufina in her quests. I will see you all soon, farewell until then." With that they faded from each others sight.

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