Marielle woke to her busy day stiff from the makeshift bed she had slept in. Beside her was her husband, still sleeping, his arm draped across her chest. She gently removed the arm and lifted herself off the floor, and proceeded to the water room that was adjacent to the master bedroom and relieved herself into the chamber pot. There was already clean water brought in from the well that she could use for some light washing up. That must mean Sara is already awake, she surmised as she left the water room.
She changed out of her nightgown, and into a simple grey and green dress, she had brought from Jorland, then headed to the reception room. Sara was there, at work unpacking the crates and finding a place for the contents. Gillivan too was sitting at the table and eagerly chatting at Sara.
“I can show you around sometime,” Gillivan said. “Venocia is a beautiful city, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the garden at the temple of Ophelia.”
Sara kept quiet continuing with her work. Her shoulders were a bit more slouched than normal, facing away from Gillivan.
“Come now, you haven’t said a thing,” Gillivan prodded with a charming smile.
Marielle announced herself and the two immediately changed expressions. Sara bowed and Gillivan stood up and said a morning greeting with the utmost respect. “Sara, go wake Heratio,” said Marielle. “I’m sure Gillivan is tired from the night, let’s get him to sleep as soon as possible.” Sara bowed again and quickly left the room. Moments later Heratio and Castor walked into the room followed by Sara, giving a quick bow and greeting as they entered.
Marielle sat at the table, then everyone but Sara joined her at the table. “Heratio, I know it must be an inconvenience to be woken up so early after the drinking from last night but I didn’t want to force Gillivan to stay up longer then he had to.”
“My lady, I thank you graciously for your consideration,” said Gillivan.
“It is no inconvenience, my lady,” said Heratio. “I did not drink that much last night. I think my lady should know, young. Master Augustus would pour the drink, and he would be quite generous with his glass then only fill up my glass halfway. I doubt he will wake before lunchtime.” Heratio looked at the door to the room where his master slept with a worried look on his face.
“I had no idea my husband drank that heavily,” said Marielle, looking in the same direction.
“He doesn’t,” responded Heratio. “I’ve never seen him drink that much, and I’ve been his bodyguard for years.”
“Well, he just found out his father died.” Marielle thought of her father, and the grief she felt only a few days ago when she had to leave her home. She had four years to mentally prepare and still, her heart sank the last week before she had to leave Jorland. “I hope his grief resolves quickly, and he will return to the man I ate with on the Scarlet Wind.”
“We have a lot to get done today,” interjected Castor. “We need to head to the market and make purchases. The best thing we can do to help Master Augustus is getting this house in order.”
“I agree,” said Marielle nodding. “Gillivan, I hope you have a good rest.” Gillivan stood up, bowed, then left to where Heratio had been sleeping. “Heratio, wake Cressa then get the carriage ready. Castor, get all the measurements we will need and a list of the goods we should be buying. We will leave as soon as I return from a bath.”
Everyone there stood up and headed with a purpose to complete their tasks with Sara leading Marielle to the master bedroom on the way to the water room.
In the room, Augustus was still passed out on the bundle of linens, he didn’t even stir in response to the door opening or the sounds of their footsteps. The two girls quietly stepped into the water room. The water room had two doors, one that went to the master bedroom, and one that went to the grooming servant’s quarters. Not that the grooming servant was welcome to use the room, but instead it was so they could easily perform the work of bathing their masters, refilling the water, and cleaning up. The tub was already filled with water and the tinderbox beneath was lit. Sara first checked the temperature of the water, then helped Marielle undress.
“This turned out to be more stressful then I had imagined,” said Marielle as she slowly lowered herself into the tub. “I feel like I’ve been cast into a labyrinth, like in the tale of Horus, the god of filth.”
“You mustn’t ever compare yourself to Horus, my lady,” said Sara as she took a bucket and scooped out water from the tub. Taking out a rag and a bar of soap she wet the rag in the warm water and scrubbed the soap into the rag. “A lot has happened to my lady in the past few days. I’m sure it is normal to feel lost.”
“So much to learn, and in a few days we will have to attend mother’s dinner party,” said Marielle while getting her arm scrubbed by Sara. “I’m sure that won’t be any fun at all.”
“We will be sure to make you look very becoming,” said Sara. “I’m sure the better you look for that dinner, the less stressful it will be.” She continued scrubbing the back and the other arm, eventually moving on to the legs and torso. “I noticed there was a garden on the estate that will need to be tended to.”
“Yes, I was planning on starting work on the garden tonight. Augustus mentioned how important a beautiful garden was amongst the elites here in Venocia. I know even in Jorland we would keep a lovely garden in praise of Ophelia, the god of colours. But since the temple of Ophelia is here, we must take even more special care of the garden,” said Marielle with a smile. “We will have fun gardening together again as we used to before Cressa arrived.”
“I look forward to it.” Sara got the basin for the hair ready and placed it on the stool at the head of the tub. Proceeding to carefully wash Marielle’s blond hair.
“This place will look quite impressive once it is clean and properly decorated. I can tell the lavish design and detail work put into it. But, that might cost a lot of coins, and I’m still unclear as to how wealthy we are,” said Marielle, closing her eyes as the water soapy water was dripping down her forehead.
“I’m sure in time Castor will explain everything you need to know. They seem eager to help.” Sara finished off rinsing the soap out of her hair and brought a towel to dry off Marielle. After that Marielle changed back into the clothes she had just been wearing and, with Sara, went out to the carriage.
Cressa was sitting on the perch of the carriage holding the reins attached to the two horses. Heratio helped Marielle into the carriage by supporting her hand, then helped Castor and Sara the same way. He waved goodbye as they started down the cobblestone road that winded through the greater Castellian estate. The estate was filled with grass lawns, hedges and trees. Here and there, scattered about were groups of buildings that formed the smaller estates where Augustus’ relatives lived. They passed through the main gate and onto the public streets. Along the road were people walking along and other carriages, the people would quickly shuffle in front or behind the carriage and sometimes give a wave with their outstretched arm holding their hat. To the side were two-story houses packed together much more densely than on the estate, leaving a small alleyway between them for people to pop in and out from.
As the carriage moved forward the sides of the streets transitions to four-story tall buildings with densely packed windows. From the windows, linens were strung up to dry. The streets there were even busier, and often the people here were walking while weighed down by a basket filled with food or goods or even jugs of water. Some children, Marielle guessed they were five or six, were running around playing some game, whipping sticks at each other with big smiles. At one point, the carriage had to stop when a child came too close, Cressa let out a shriek at the children and they scampered off.
Finally, the carriage ride ended once they reached a large open square. In the center were rows of tent-roofed stalls packed together densely and a mass of people flowing between the rows at a slow pace, impeded by the sheer density of the crowd. The stalls seemed to take up as much space as they could, only leaving an area around the statue of Aurelia. The statue was twice as tall as the tallest man in the crowd and struck the pose of her emptying a vase. From the vase flowed a stream of clear water landing in the fountain pool, with the crowd rotating as people would take turns filling up their jugs.
They parked amongst a row of carriages. A young valet came and opened up the door and helped support Marielle’s hand while she descended. Once they were all out and the horses tied up to the hitching post, Castor handed the valet a few conti. “The valet will watch over our carriage while we shop,” Castor said. “This is a reputable market, we shouldn’t need to worry too much about thieves. But still, we must be careful. The first place we must go to is the coin exchanger to trade in some of the gilden Augustus provided us for today.”
Sara pulled out two large wicker baskets, each containing a few pieces of clean plain cloth. The baskets were about as large as a toddler and they each had shoulder straps attached so they could be carried on the back, or flipped around to be carried against the chest. Sara carried her basket on her back and helped Cressa put hers on her front. They then set off into the crowd single-file in a pre-planned order.
First Sara, then Castor, then Marielle, and finally Cressa at the tail to keep a watch on the other three. Castor gave directions to the coin exchanger. It was to the side of the square at the corner of a block of buildings. It had metal lattice panels on the windows with two guards stationed at the entrance. The guards just continued their chat that sounded like it was about one of their kids, or maybe a dog, as Marielle and her companions entered.