An Unexpected Guest

by Vicky H

Sasha frowned as the acolyte pulled the bloated swollen body from the recesses of the pit. It didn't matter how many times she tried to explain to her unwelcome visitors that her cult possessed no secret stash of treasure or priceless artefact statues, they just kept on coming back for more punishment. It was a surprise to most of these young adventurers that when they had fought their way past the seemingly endless tunnels full of snakes that instead of gold or rubies, all that was to be found was more snakes. She wondered if, perhaps, there was some Old Power or even Dream Spirit patron of adventurers, who made a habit of hiring the younger generation to go on incredibly perilous and unrewarding tasks in order to weed out those who were too weak, too slow or just too plain stupid to be allowed to carry on.

“How manyssss sthatss sthen?” “That's the forth lot this month, m'lady. I haven't managed to extract the others yet.” * Rachel De Courci sat in the back of her carriage, wrapped up in her best furs. Ninety-two years she had lived in the City of Silk and this would be her first time in the White City. She clutched the tin of her homemade hotpot close to her on her lap- little Sasha used to love it when she was a girl. She felt the rush of anticipation in her old bones. A granddaughter of her very own brother was Lady Regent, now fancy that. It would be the first time she had seen her in years and perhaps later they would call in on Henry and Teresa. “How much further have we got to go?” she called out in her thin reedy voice. “Not much more now, ma'am,” he replied, glancing back at the shrivelled old crone, who seemed to be dressed up in some sort of dead animal and clutching some sort of foul smelling concoction on her lap. * “Melissssa, go sssee what that isss and preferablysss tell them to pissss off!” said Sasha in response to the faint tapping at the heavy oaken door. “It's just some old crone,” replied the other and she prepared to slam the door in her face. “No! Waitsss!” called out Sasha catching a glimpse of the old woman it the doorway. Now, now girl, she thought to herself, remember your elocution lessons. “Ah Aunt Rachel, how lovely to see you!” said Sasha gesturing to one of her acolytes to take the old woman's coat, “You could have gone straight to my townhouse.” “Oh I tried calling there,” replied the old woman and then proffering her the tin, “But they said you'd be here, so I decided to come straight over. I brought you some of my some of my homemade hotpot.” “Oh you shouldn't have!” no, really, she shouldn't have, “Fancy a small tipple while I get someone to heat this up?” “A small sherry perhaps?” “Err,” cultists of the Mother of All Serpents were not big sherry drinkers, “Red wine be alright?” “Just a small one, then. So then is this some sort of chapel?” “Yes, to the erm, well, just to the Old Powers in general,” replied Sasha carefully manoeuvring herself in front of the statue of a scantily clad woman entwined with a male serpent, “Shall we move in to the prayer room, it's much nicer-” Oh crap! The bodies. “Melissa, could you be a darling and take out the trash from earlier?” “Yessss misss,” replied Melissa, catching Sasha's eye, “Erm, I mean, Ma'am.” *** Aunt Rachel settled herself in to one of the sumptuous chairs in the prayer room, which had been covered with a tasteful throw to hide the more eclectic upholstery. “So Lady Regent, then? Valeri must be so proud.” “Well, technically that's only if something happens to the Governess. Which it isn't going to.” Because I won't let it thought Sasha. “Well even so, this must mean you have the men falling at you feet.” And then came the question she had been dreading. “Have you given any thought to getting married.” “Oh it's still early days, auntie, I just want to enjoy myself while I'm still young.” “Well you can't wait forever,” replied Aunt Rachel, her eyes lingering far too long on Sasha's belly, “I'm sure your father is desperate to see some grandchildren.” “Oh I just haven't met the right man yet. My mother always said that these things take time.” Aunt Rachel tutted: she had never cared for Sasha's mother. “Oh what about that lovely Thier Cristofori?” Chance would be a fine thing, thought Sasha. Thier was far more interested in playing with swords than women and, besides, with the adventuring community these days you could almost certainly count on him being a poof. “I think he's far too caught up in the duelling circuit. I'd much rather have someone more grounded.” “How about Proyas De Almedia.” Sasha had to struggle to stop herself bursting out laughing. “Auntie, I think I can do rather better than Proyas De Almedia. He's not exactly known for his political acumen.” And definitely a poof. “Well at least you're not being so friendly with that… that tribesman anymore.” Oh crap! Who had told her about Tarich? Thankfully Melissa arrived at that point to save Sasha from anymore awkward questioning. Sasha eyed the decanter filled with deep red liquid as her acolyte was poised to pour it in to one of the two glasses. “Melissa, where did you get that?” “From the blue jug, the one in the cellar.” “Take it away!” “But-” “That's not wine, take it away!” Melissa embarrassedly exited the room. “Perhaps, Auntie, we might head back to my townhouse instead? I have sssome ssssh,” Sasha caught herself, “some sherry there.” “Yes, perhaps we should.” Aunt Rachel got up and started to slowly move towards the back door. Oh crap! The bodies! “Ah, ah, Auntiesss notsss sthat, erm, I mean, lets go out the front.” “Oh but won't it be easier to catch a carriage from that side.” “Well I thought I'd show you some of the architecture first, you'll get a much better view of it from the front.” Sasha led her Aunt to the front door. She pulled open the heavy oaken entrance and gestured to her Aunt just when she noticed the darkly beautiful woman standing in the entranceway holding in one hand a snake and cradling in the other a rather unhappy six-legged spider. She considered slamming the door but it was far too late, Aunt Rachel had already seen. “Well hello, Nadia Caterina, how lovely to see you!” Nadia Caterina did not seem impressed as she roughly foisted the serpent in to Sasha's arms. “You see what that thing did? In future I expect you to take more care of your stuff.” The dark-haired woman spun around on one foot and stormed away from the temple entrance. Aunt Rachel's jaw looked as if it was about to drop off as she turned to Sasha for an explanation. Sasha did her utmost to put on a smile. “So how about that sherry, then?”

misc/fiction/unexpectedguest.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/05 19:47 by osj01
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